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探望陆军元帅蒙哥马利

2006-07-23 16:00

  I drove to Alton in Hampshire to see Field Marshal Lord Montgomery at Isington Mill, his little country home. His place is really modest and simple. When I returned to London, I happened to pass Apsley House, the enormous mansion(almost a palace)on Piccadilly given by the grateful British people to the Duke of Wellington1 after the Napoleonic wars. Montgomery did not do so well. Whatever one may think of him, he is undoubtedly the most famous British general since Wellington.

  Monty was wearing a dark blue knitted sweater and over it an open leather windbreaker 2. He led me through the dining room upstairs to his study. The room was decorated with a lot of bad oil paintings, at least four of which were full-length portraits of Monty. Also hideous3 but not uncomfortable furniture and an enormous mass of knickknacks4. Everything was in apple-pie5 order, including the desk. In a peculiarly ugly cage was the only other living thing in the house, a somnolent6 blue parakeet7 with a celluloid8 fake companion. There were at most twenty books on a shelf by his desk, and I imagine this comprises his entire library. Prominent9 were Burke's Peerage10 and the 1963 Who's Who. I could just imagine the old codger11 reading himself to sleep with those after his usual dinner of mutton.

  Among the decorations in this study were several signed snapshots of King George VI together with Montgomery. There were also

  signed photographs. Churchill had inscribed his picture:" To Monty. Hard times; stern conflict;victorious commander!Winston S.Churchill 1946." Among the bad oil paintings were one by Churchill and one by Field Marshal Alexander.

  Monty sat on a sofa opposite the stove. He seemed cocky12, tough, positive13, intolerant14, ignorant, and unbelievably vain. He has a stubborn, grumpy15 face, but looks extremely fit for a man of his age. There is not an ounce of fat on him, and there is a healthy gleam in his cold blue eyes. I dislike him and think that his supreme military gift is confirmed by the fact that his own army didn't shoot him in the back.

  I began by asking him what he thought of the idea of a multilateral16 force for NATO. He said:

  Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. Just assume you have a ship with a crew of one third Belgian, one third Portuguese, and one third Danish. It won't work. Won't work. You might get over the language barrier. Politically maybe the idea seems good, but militarily it's poppycock17.

  People fight differently. I know. I have commanded all sorts of people. The European army broke down on that issue. You must keep people together in national units under national control. The politicians don't understand these things. The politicians never fought or commanded troops in battle.

  Why, you couldn't even put the British and the Americans together on the same ship. They are different. Anyone is a fool to think the British and the Americans are the same. Our sailors owe allegiance to the Queen; yours owe allegiance to the President. We have a different kind of discipline. You could not have a people more different than the British and the Americans. I have commanded both. I know.

  I asked if he thought Britain should keep an independent nuclear deterrent18. He answered curtly19:" Yes, naturally; the French are going to. You can't have England without one. You can't let the French be the only European country with their own deterrent. Is Britain to be completely dependent on the U.S.A. for their deterrent? That would be ridiculous: Politics change; men change; people change. But we can't risk it. I am against being completely dependent on the U.S."

  我驱车前往汉普郡的奥尔顿,去陆军元帅蒙哥马利勋爵在艾辛顿米尔的乡间小宅探望他。他住的地方确实简朴。回伦敦时,正好路过皮卡迪利的宏伟官邸(简直是座宫殿)阿普斯利大厦,这是心存感激的英国人民在拿破仑战争之后送给威灵顿公爵的。蒙哥马利的业绩未及于此。但不论人们对他有什么看法,他无疑是威灵顿以后最著名的英国将军。

  蒙蒂身穿一件深蓝色毛衣,罩一件敞胸的御风皮衣。他带我穿过餐室上楼来到他的书房。屋子里挂了许多画得很糟糕的油画,其中至少有他四幅全身画像。家具也很粗陋,但还不算不舒服,还有一大堆各式各样的小摆设。每件东西,包括书桌在内,都摆得整整齐齐。在一个奇特难看的鸟笼里,养着一只无精打采的蓝色长尾小鹦鹉——这是室内唯一有生命的东西,旁边还配了个赛璐珞的假鹦鹉。在桌旁的书架上顶多只有20本书,我猜这就是他的全部图书了。伯克编的《贵族姓名录》和1963年《名人录》放在突出的地方。我可以想象得出,这个怪老头在吃完他常吃的羊肉晚餐后,捧着这些书,直看到进入梦乡。

  这间书房的装饰品中,有几张国王乔治六世同蒙哥马利的合影,上有国王的签名。还有几张签名照。丘吉尔在他的相片上题的词是:"赠给蒙蒂,艰苦的岁月;严峻的战斗;胜利的统帅!温斯顿·丘吉尔于1946年".在那些拙劣的油画中,一幅是丘吉尔画的,一幅是亚历山大陆军元帅画的。

  蒙蒂坐在火炉对面的沙发上,显得高傲自信、坚韧不拔,偏狭自负而又无比惆怅。顽强执拗的情态,看起来同他这样年纪的人是极其相称的。他清癯健壮,两眼炯炯有神,却又叫人寒心。我不喜欢他。我想,他的军队没有从背后将他打死,证明他确有卓越的军事天才。

  我一开始就问他他对北约建立多边力量的想法有何看法。他说:

  无稽之谈,全是胡说八道。你只要想一想,你船上的水手1/3是比利时人,1/3是葡萄牙人,1/3是丹麦人,船就没法开动,开动不了的。你也许可以克服语言隔阂。这种想法在政治上可能看来可取,但在军事上那是废话一堆。

  人们打起仗来各有一套。这我是知道的。我指挥过各种各样的人。欧洲军队就在这个问题上垮了下来,你必须把人按国家编队,由各国自己掌握。政治家们不懂得这些。他们从未打过仗,也没有在战场上指挥过军队。

  甭说这些了,你甚至都不能把英国人和美国人放在同一条船上。他们不同嘛。蠢人才认为英国人和美国人是一样的。我们的水手效忠于女王,你们的效忠于总统。我们各有一套不同的军纪。不可能再有比英国人和美国人更不一样的民族了。这两国人我都指挥过,我了解。

  我问他是否认为英国应该保持独立的核威慑力量。他简略地回答说:"当然应该,法国人就准备这样做嘛。你不能让英国没有那东西啊。你总不能让法国成为拥有自己威慑力量的唯一的欧洲国家吧。难道英国要完全依靠美国的威慑力量吗?那是可笑的:政治情况变了;士兵情况变了;人的情况也变了。我们可不能冒这个险。我是反对完全依赖美国的。"

  注释:

  1.DukeofWellington威灵顿公爵(1769~1852),英国陆军元帅、首相(1828~1830),以在滑铁卢战役(1815)中指挥英、普联军击败拿破仑而闻名。

  2.windbreaker n.风衣,防风茄克衫

  3.hideous adj.极丑的

  4.knickknack n.小装饰物,小摆设

  5.apple-pie adj.[口]整齐的,井井有条的

  6.somnolent adj.瞌睡的,无生气的

  7.parakeet n.长尾小鹦鹉

  8.celluloid n.[化]赛璐珞

  9.prominent adj.杰出的,著名的

  10.peerage n.[总称]贵族

  11.codger n.[口]怪人,老家伙

  12.cocky adj.[口]骄傲自大的,自以为是的

  13.positive adj.武断的

  14.intolerant adj.偏执的

  15.grumpy adj.脾气坏的

  16.multilateral adj.多国(或多方)参加的

  17.poppycock n.[俚]胡扯,废话

  18.deterrent n.威慑物

  19.curtly adv.简要地

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