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Sounds4

2006-07-29 00:18

  Far through unfrequented woods on the confines of towns, where once only the hunter penetrated by day, in the darkest night dart these bright saloons without the knowledge of their inhabitants;this moment stopping at some brilliant station-house in town or city, where a social crowd is gathered, the next in the Dismal Swamp, scaring the owl and fox.  The startings and arrivals of the cars are now the epochs in the village day.  They go and come with such regularity and precision, and their whistle can be heard so far, that the farmers set their clocks by them, and thus one well-conducted institution regulates a whole country.  Have not men improved somewhat in punctuality since the railroad was invented?

  Do they not talk and think faster in the depot than they did in the stage-office?  There is something electrifying in the atmosphere of the former place.  I have been astonished at the miracles it has wrought; that some of my neighbors, who, I should have prophesied,once for all, would never get to Boston by so prompt a conveyance,are on hand when the bell rings.  To do things "railroad fashion" is now the byword; and it is worth the while to be warned so often and so sincerely by any power to get off its track.  There is no stopping to read the riot act, no firing over the heads of the mob,in this case.  We have constructed a fate, an Atropos, that never turns aside.  (Let that be the name of your engine.)  Men are advertised that at a certain hour and minute these bolts will be shot toward particular points of the compass; yet it interferes with no man's business, and the children go to school on the other track. We live the steadier for it.  We are all educated thus to be sons of Tell.  The air is full of invisible bolts.  Every path but your own is the path of fate.  Keep on your own track, then.

  What recommends commerce to me is its enterprise and bravery. It does not clasp its hands and pray to Jupiter.  I see these men every day go about their business with more or less courage and content, doing more even than they suspect, and perchance better employed than they could have consciously devised.  I am less affected by their heroism who stood up for half an hour in the front line at Buena Vista, than by the steady and cheerful valor of the men who inhabit the snowplow for their winter quarters; who have not merely the three-o'-clock-in-the-morning courage, which Bonaparte thought was the rarest, but whose courage does not go to rest so early, who go to sleep only when the storm sleeps or the sinews of their iron steed are frozen.  On this morning of the Great Snow,perchance, which is still raging and chilling men's blood, I bear the muffled tone of their engine bell from out the fog bank of their chilled breath, which announces that the cars are coming, without long delay, notwithstanding the veto of a New England northeast snow-storm, and I behold the plowmen covered with snow and rime,their heads peering, above the mould-board which is turning down other than daisies and the nests of field mice, like bowlders of the Sierra Nevada, that occupy an outside place in the universe.

  市镇的僻处,人迹罕到的森林,从前只在白天里猎人进入过,现在却在黑夜中,有光辉灿烂的客厅飞突而去。居住在里面的人却一无所知;此一刻它还靠在一个村镇或大城市照耀得如同白昼的车站月台上,一些社交界人士正聚集在那里,而下一刻已经在郁沉的沼泽地带,把猫头鹰和狐狸都吓跑了。列车的出站到站现在成了林中每一天的大事了。它们这样遵守时间地来来去去,而它们的汽笛声老远都听到,农夫们可以根据它来校正钟表,于是一个管理严密的机构调整了整个国家的时间。自从发明了火车,人类不是更能遵守时间了吗?在火车站上,比起以前在驿车站来,他们不是说话更快,思想不也是更敏捷了吗?火车站的气氛,好像是通上了电流似的。对于它创造的奇迹,我感到惊异;我有一些邻居,我本来会斩钉截铁他说他们不会乘这么快的交通工具到波士顿去的,现在只要钟声一响,他们就已经在月台上了。“火车式”作风,现在成为流行的口头禅;由任何有影响的机构经常提出,离开火车轨道的真心诚意的警告,那是一定要听的。这件事既不能停下车来宣读法律作为警告,也不能向群众朝天开枪。我们已经创造了一个命运,一个Atropos,这永远也不会改变。(让这做你的火车头的名称。)人们看一看广告就知道几点几十分,有几支箭要向罗盘上的哪几个方向射出;它从不干涉别人的事,在另一条轨道上,孩子们还乘坐了它去上学呢。我们因此生活得更稳定了。我们都受了教育,可以做退尔的儿子,然而空中充满了不可见的箭矢。除了你自己的道路之外,条条路都是宿命的道路。那末,走你自己的路吧。

  使我钦佩于商业的,乃是它的进取心和勇敢。它并不拱手向朱庇特大神祈祷。我看到商人们每天做他们的生意,多少都是勇敢而且满足的,比他们自己所想的局面更大,也许还比他们自己计划了的更有成就。在布埃纳维斯塔的火线上,能站立半小时的英雄,我倒不觉得怎样,我还是比较佩服那些在铲雪机里过冬,坚定而又愉快的人们;他们不但具有连拿破仑也认为最难得的早上三点钟的作战勇气,他们不但到这样的时刻了都还不休息,而且还要在暴风雪睡着了之后他们才去睡,要在他们的铁马的筋骨都冻僵了之后他们才躺下。在特大风雪的黎明,风雪还在吹刮,冻结着人类的血液呢,我听到他们的火车头的被蒙住了的钟声,从那道雾濛濛的冻结了的呼吸中传来,宣告列车来了,并未误点,毫不理睬新英格兰的东北风雪的否决权,我看到那铲雪者,全身雪花和冰霜,眼睛直瞅着它的弯形铁片,而给铁片翻起来的并不仅仅是雏菊和田鼠洞,还有像内华达山上的岩石,那些在宇宙外表占了一个位置的一切东西。

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