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托马斯·巴宾顿·麦考莱 论改革法案

2006-07-07 17:15

Thomas Babington Macaulay

ON THE REFORM BILL

March 1,1831

  My honorable friend,the member for the University of Oxford[Sir Robert Inglis]tells us that if we pass this law[extension of suffrage]England will soon be a republic.The reformed House of Commons will,according to him,before it has sat ten years,depose the king and expel the lords from their House.Sir,if my honorable friend could prove this,he would have succeeded in bringing an argument for democracy infinitely stronger than any that is to be found in the works of Paine.My honorable friend's proposition is in fact this:that our monarchical and aristocratically institutions have no hold on the public mind of England;that these institutions are regarded with aversion by a decided majority of the middle class.This,sir,I say,is plainly deducible from his proposition;for he tells us that the representatives of the middle class will inevitably abolish royalty and nobility within ten years;and there is surely no reason to think that the representatives of the middle class will be more inclined to a democratic revolution than their constituents.Now,sir,if I were convinced that the great body of the middle class in England look with aversion on monarchy and aristocracy,I should be forced,much against my will,to come to this conclusion that monarchical and aristocratically institutions are unsuited to my country.Monarchy and aristocracy,valuable and useful as I think them,are still valuable and useful as means and not as ends.The end of government is the happiness of the people,and I do not conceive that,in a country like this,the happiness of the people can be promoted by a form of government in which the middle classes place no confidence,and which exists only because the middle classes have no organ by which to make their sentiments known.But,sir,I am fully convinced that the middle classes sincerely wish to uphold the royal prerogatives and the constitutional rights of the peers.

  The question of parliamentary reform is still behind.But signs,of which it is impossible to misconceive the import,do most clearly Indicate that,unless that question also be speedily settled,property,and order,and all the institutions of this great monarchy,will be exposed to fearful peril.Is it possible that gentlemen long versed in high political affairs can not read these signs?Is it possible that they can really believe that the representative system of England,such as it now is,will last till the year 1860?If not,for what would they have us wait?Would they have us wait merely that we may show to all the world how little we have profited by our own recent experience?

  Would they have us wait,that we may once a-gain hit the exact point where we can neither refuse with authority nor concede with grace?Would they have us wait,that the numbers of the discontented party may become larger,its demands higher,its feelings more acrimonious,its organization more complete?Would they have us wait till the whole tragicomedy of 1827 has been acted over again;till they have been brought into office by acry of“No Reform,”to be reformers,as they were once before brought into office by a cry of“No Popery,”to be emancipators?Have they obliterated from their minds—gladly,perhaps,would some among them obliterate from their minds—the transactions of that year?And have they forgotten all the transactions of the succeeding year?Have they forgotten how the spirit of liberty in Ireland,debarred from its natural outlet,found a vent by forbidden passages?Have they forgotten how we were forced to indulge the Catholics in all the license of rebels,merely because we chose to with- hold from them the liberties of subjects?Do they wait for associations more formidable than that of the Corn Exchange,for contributions larger than the Rent,for agitators more violent than those who,three years ago,divided with the king and the Parliament the sovereignty of Ireland?Do they wait for that last and most dreadful paroxysm of popular rage,for that last and most cruel test of military fidelity?

  Let them wait,if their past experience shall induce them to think that any high honor or any exquisite pleasure is to be obtained by a policy like this.Let them wait,if this strange and fearful infatuation be indeed upon them,that they should not see with their eyes,or hear with their ears,or understand with their heart.But let us know our interest and our duty better.Turn where we may,within,around,the voice of great events is pro-claiming to us:Reform,that you may preserve.Now,therefore,while everything at home and abroad forebodes ruin to those who persist in a hopeless struggle against the spirit of the age;now,while the crash of the proudest throne of the continent is still resounding in our ears;now,while the roof of a British palace affords an ignominious shelter to the exiled heir of forty kings;now,while we see on every side ancient institutions subverted,and great societies dissolved;now,while the heart of England is still sound;now,while old feelings and old associations retina power and a charm which may too soon pass away;now,in this your accepted time,now,in this your day of salvation,take counsel,not of prejudice,not of party spirit,not of the ignominious pride of a fatal consistency,but of history,of reason,of the ages which are past,of the signs of this most portentous time.

  Pronounce in a manner worthy of the expectation with which this great debate has been anticipated,and of the long remembrance Which it will leave behind.Renew the youth of the State.Save property,divided against itself.Save the multitude,endangered by its own ungovernable passions.Save the aristocracy,endangered by its own unpopular power.Save the greatest,and fairest,and most highly civilized community that ever existed,from calamities which may in a few days sweep away all the rich heritage of so many ages of wisdom and glory.The danger is terrible.The time is short.If this bill should be rejected,I pray to God that none of those who concur in rejecting it may ever remember their votes with unavailing remorse,amid the wreck of laws,the confusion of ranks,the spoliation of property,and the dissolution of social order.

托马斯·巴宾顿·麦考莱

论改革法案

1831年3月1日

  代表牛津大学的议员、我的尊敬的朋友(罗伯特·英格利斯先生)告诉我们,如果我们通过这项法律(扩大选举权),英国将很快成为共和国。按英格利斯的说法,下院经过改革后将在10年内废黜国王并从议会中罢免议员。阁下,如果我的尊敬的朋友能证明这一点,他将成功地为民主提供远比潘恩著作中的任何一篇论述有力得多的论据。我的尊敬的朋友的论据事实上是:我国的君主贵族制度对英国公众的思想没有约束力;绝大部分中产阶级对这种制度感到厌恶。阁下,我说,这从英格利斯的主张可以清楚地推论出来;因为他告诉我们中产阶级的代表在10年内将不可避免地要废除王位和贵族;肯定没有理由认为中产阶级的代表比选民更倾向于民主革命。现在,假如我相信英国大部分中产阶级对君主和贵族抱有反感,我将十分违心地得出君主贵族制度不适合于我国的结论。君主贵族制度,正如我所认为的那样,是有价值的和有用的,它们至今仍然是有价值的有用的手段,而并非目的。政府的目的是人民的幸福,我并不认为在像我国这样的国家,人民的幸福可以通过一个中产阶级所不信任的政府得到增进,而政府之所以能存在,只是因为中产阶级缺乏表达其思想感情的机构。然而,阁下,我完全相信中产阶级衷心赞成维持君权和宪法赋予贵族的各种权利。

  国会改革问题仍然滞后。有些征兆的重要性是不可能误解的,它们非常清楚地表明,除非这个改革问题很快得到解决,否则国家财产和秩序,这个伟大的君主国的各种制度都将遭遇可怕的危险。长期以来熟练地掌握重要政治事务的人士竟看不出这些征兆,这是可能的吗?难道他们真的相信英国现行的代议制只能延续到1860年吗?如果不是那样,那么他们要我们等待什么呢?难道他们让我们等待只是为了向全世界表明我们从自己最近的经验中得益甚微吗?

  难道他们要我们等待是让我们再次陷入既不能有理由地拒绝,又无法体面地让步的困境吗?难道他们要我们等待是为了让心怀不满的人数量增大,让他们的要求越来越高,情绪越来越激昂,其组织羽翼越来越丰满?难道他们要我们等到1827年的整个悲喜剧重演吗?难道要我们等到他们像过去大声疾呼“不要天主教”而取得官职成为“解放者”一样,高呼“不要改革”而取得官职成为改革者?难道他们已经忘却(也许其中有些人将要忘却)当年的事务?他们已经忘却翌年的全部事务了吗?难道他们已经忘却,在爱尔兰那被堵塞了发泄途径的自由精神,竟从被禁的通道中找到了出路?他们是否已经忘却我们被迫放纵天主教徒,听任他们随意反抗,仅仅是由于我们拒绝给予他们宪法所规定的国民自由?难道他们在等待着比谷物交易市场更难对待的社团,等待着比地租更大的税款;等待着比3年前与国王和议会分享爱尔兰主权的人更狂暴的煽动者?难道他们在等待着最严重、最可怕的公众愤怒的爆发,等待着最严重、最严峻的对军队忠诚的考验?

  假如他们以往的经验使他们认为推行这种政策可获高级荣誉或者特别快慰,那就让他们等吧!如果他们确实摆脱不了这种奇特的、骇人的迷恋,以致目不能视,耳不能听,心不能理解事物,那就让他们等吧!但是,让我们更好地了解我们的利益和职责。我们应该根据重大事件向我们启示的方向行动:改革,就可以维持下去。因此,国内外的一切都预示着那些坚持反对时代精神而进行绝望斗争的人必将毁灭自己;当欧洲大陆最引以自豪的王位的崩溃仍在耳际回响之时;当英国王宫的屋檐为40个国王的流亡后裔提供可鄙的庇护所时;当我们在每一个方面看到古老的制度被颠覆和伟大的社会瓦解时;当英国仍然心智健全时;当古老的感情和古老的社团保持着可能很快消失的影响和魅力时;此时此刻,在这个你们所接受的时刻,在这个你们获救的日子,你们应该从历史、理性、过去的时代和这个影响最为重大的时刻的启示中采纳忠告,屏弃偏见、党派精神和有害的一致性所导致的可耻的自豪。

  我们应该以与人们对这场伟大辩论所寄予的期望相称并将留下长期回忆的方式表明态度;恢复国家的活力;救救那被瓜分的财产;救救那受到自己的无法控制的感情危害的广大群众;救救那受到自己的不得人心的权力危害的贵族。我们应该把有史以来最伟大、最光明磊落而又最高度文明的社会从那可能使多少世纪以来积累下的智慧和光辉的丰富遗产毁于一旦的灾难中拯救出来。真是岌岌可危,时不我待。如果这一法案遭到否决,我祈求上帝:那些赞成否决的人中没有一个在法律被践踏,等级被打乱,财产被掠夺和社会制度瓦解时会以后悔莫及的心情想起自己所投的票。

王德华 译

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