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瓦尔登湖:经济篇10

2006-07-28 18:47

  Finding that my fellow-citizens were not likely to offer me any room in the court house, or any curacy or living anywhere else, but I must shift for myself, I turned my face more exclusively than ever to the woods, where I was better known.  I determined to go into business at once, and not wait to acquire the usual capital, using such slender means as I had already got.  My purpose in going to Walden Pond was not to live cheaply nor to live dearly there, but to transact some private business with the fewest obstacles; to be hindered from accomplishing which for want of a little common sense,a little enterprise and business talent, appeared not so sad as foolish.

  I have always endeavored to acquire strict business habits; they are indispensable to every man.  If your trade is with the Celestial Empire, then some small counting house on the coast, in some Salem harbor, will be fixture enough.  You will export such articles as the country affords, purely native products, much ice and pine timber and a little granite, always in native bottoms.  These will be good ventures.  To oversee all the details yourself in person; to be at once pilot and captain, and owner and underwriter; to buy and sell and keep the accounts; to read every letter received, and write or read every letter sent; to superintend the discharge of imports night and day; to be upon many parts of the coast almost at the same time —— often the richest freight will be discharged upon a Jersey shore; —— to be your own telegraph, unweariedly sweeping the horizon, speaking all passing vessels bound coastwise; to keep up a steady despatch of commodities, for the supply of such a distant and exorbitant market; to keep yourself informed of the state of the markets, prospects of war and peace everywhere, and anticipate the tendencies of trade and civilization —— taking advantage of the results of all exploring expeditions, using new passages and all improvements in navigation; —— charts to be studied, the position of reefs and new lights and buoys to be ascertained, and ever, and ever, the logarithmic tables to be corrected, for by the error of some calculator the vessel often splits upon a rock that should have reached a friendly pier —— there is the untold fate of La Prouse;—— universal science to be kept pace with, studying the lives of all great discoverers and navigators, great adventurers and merchants,from Hanno and the Phoenicians down to our day; in fine, account of stock to be taken from time to time, to know how you stand.  It is a labor to task the faculties of a man —— such problems of profit and loss, of interest, of tare and tret, and gauging of all kinds in it,as demand a universal knowledge.

  I have thought that Walden Pond would be a good place for business, not solely on account of the railroad and the ice trade;it offers advantages which it may not be good policy to divulge; it is a good port and a good foundation.  No Neva marshes to be filled;though you must everywhere build on piles of your own driving.  It is said that a flood-tide, with a westerly wind, and ice in the Neva, would sweep St. Petersburg from the face of the earth. As this business was to be entered into without the usual capital, it may not be easy to conjecture where those means, that will still be indispensable to every such undertaking, were to be obtained.  As for Clothing, to come at once to the practical part of the question, perhaps we are led oftener by the love of novelty and a regard for the opinions of men, in procuring it, than by a true utility.  Let him who has work to do recollect that the object of clothing is, first, to retain the vital heat, and secondly, in this state of society, to cover nakedness, and he may judge how much of any necessary or important work may be accomplished without adding to his wardrobe.  Kings and queens who wear a suit but once, though made by some tailor or dressmaker to their majesties, cannot know the comfort of wearing a suit that fits.  They are no better than wooden horses to hang the clean clothes on.  Every day our garments become more assimilated to ourselves, receiving the impress of the wearer's character, until we hesitate to lay them aside without such delay and medical appliances and some such solemnity even as our bodies.  No man ever stood the lower in my estimation for having a patch in his clothes; yet I am sure that there is greater anxiety,commonly, to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscience.  But even if the rent is not mended, perhaps the worst vice betrayed is improvidence.  I sometimes try my acquaintances by such tests as this —— Who could wear a patch, or two extra seams only, over the knee?  Most behave as if they believed that their prospects for life would be ruined if they should do it.  It would be easier for them to hobble to town with a broken leg than with a broken pantaloon.  Often if an accident happens to a gentleman's legs, they can be mended; but if a similar accident happens to the legs of his pantaloons, there is no help for it; for he considers, not what is truly respectable, but what is respected.  We know but few men, a great many coats and breeches.  Dress a scarecrow in your last shift, you standing shiftless by, who would not soonest salute the scarecrow?  Passing a cornfield the other day, close by a hat and coat on a stake, I recognized the owner of the farm.  He was only a little more weather-beaten than when I saw him last.  I have heard of a dog that barked at every stranger who approached his master's premises with clothes on, but was easily quieted by a naked thief.  It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.  Could you, in such a case,tell surely of any company of civilized men which belonged to the most respected class?  When Madam Pfeiffer, in her adventurous travels round the world, from east to west, had got so near home as Asiatic Russia, she says that she felt the necessity of wearing other than a travelling dress, when she went to meet the authorities, for she "was now in a civilized country, where ……

  people are judged of by their clothes."  Even in our democratic New England towns the accidental possession of wealth, and its manifestation in dress and equipage alone, obtain for the possessor almost universal respect.  But they yield such respect, numerous as they are, are so far heathen, and need to have a missionary sent to them.  Beside, clothes introduced sewing, a kind of work which you may call endless; a woman's dress, at least, is never done.

  发现市民同胞们大约是不会在法院中,教堂中,或任何别的地方给我一个职位的了,我只得自己改道,于是我比以往更专心地把脸转向了森林,那里的一切都很熟识我。我决定立刻就开业,不必等候通常的所谓经费了,就动用我手上已经有的一点儿微薄的资财吧。我到瓦尔登湖上去的目的,并不是去节俭地生活,也不是去挥霍,而是去经营一些私事,为的是在那儿可以尽量少些麻烦;免得我因为缺乏小小的常识,事业又小,又不懂得生意经,做出其傻甚于凄惨的事情来。

  我常常希望获得严格的商业习惯;这是每一个人都不能缺少的。如果你的生意是和天朝帝国往来的,你得在海岸上有个会计室,设在某个撒勒姆的港口,确定了这个就够了。你可以把本国出品,纯粹的土产输出,许多的冰、松木和一点儿花岗石,都是本土本乡的地道产品。这一定是好生意。亲自照顾一切大小事务;兼任领航员与船长,业主与保险商;买进卖出又记账;收到的信件每封都读过,发出的信件每封都亲自撰写或审阅;日夜监督进口货的卸落;几乎在海岸上的许多地方,你都同时出现了似的;——那装货最多的船总是在泽西岸上卸落的;——自己还兼电报员,不知疲倦地发通讯到远方去,和所有驰向海岸的船只联络;稳当地售出货物,供给远方的一个无餍足的市场,既要熟悉行情,你还要明了各处的战争与和平的情况,预测贸易和文明的趋向;——利用所有探险的成果,走最新的航道,利用一切航海技术上的进步;——再要研究海图,确定珊瑚礁和新的灯塔、浮标的位置,而航海图表是永远地改而又改,因为着计算上有了一点错误,船只会冲撞在一块岩石上而至于粉碎的,不然它早该到达了一个友好的码头了——,此外,还有拉。贝鲁斯的未知的命运;——还得步步跟上字宙科学,要研究一切伟大的发现者、航海家、探险家和商人,从迦探险家饭能和腓尼基人直到现在所有这些人的一生,最后,时刻要记录栈房中的货物,你才知道自己处于什么位置上。这真是一个辛苦的劳役,考验着一个人的全部官能,——这些赢利或损失的问题,利息的问题,扣除皮重的计算问题,一切都要确实数字,非得有全宇宙的知识不可啊。

  我想到瓦尔登湖会是个做生意的好地方,不但因为那铁路线和贮冰的行业;这里是有许多的便利,或许把它泄露出来并不是一个好方针;这是一个良好港口,有一个好基础。你不必填没那些好像涅瓦河区的沼泽;虽然到处你都得去打桩奠基。据说,涅瓦河要是涨了水,刮了西风,流来的冰块可以把圣彼得堡一下子从大地的表面上冲掉的。

  鉴于我这行业是没有通常的经费先行交易的,所以我从什么地方得到凡是这样的行业都不能缺少的东西呢,也许不容易揣测吧。让我们立刻说到实际问题上来,先说衣服,我们采购衣服,常常是由爱好新奇的心理所引导的,并且关心别人对它的部意见,而不大考虑这些衣服的真实用处。让那些有工作做的人记着穿衣服的目标,第一是保持养身的体温,第二是为了在目前的社会中要把赤身露体来遮盖;现在,他可以判断一下,有多少必需的重要工作可以完成,而不必在衣橱中增添什么衣服。国王和王后的每一件衣服都只穿一次,虽然有御裁缝专司其事,他们却不知道穿上合身衣服的愉快。他们不过是挂干净衣服的木架。而我们的衣服,却一天天地跟我们同化了,印上了穿衣人的性格,直到我们舍不得把它们丢掉,要丢掉它们,正如抛弃我们的躯体那样,总不免感到恋恋不舍,要看病吃药作些补救,而且带着十分沉重的心情。其实没有人穿了有补钉的衣服而在我的眼里降低了身份;但我很明白,一般人心里,为了衣服忧思真多,衣服要穿得入时,至少也要清洁,而且不能有补钉,至于他们有无健全的良心,从不在乎。其实,即使衣服破了不补,所暴露的最大缺点也不过是不考虑小洞之会变成大洞。有时我用这样的方法来测定我的朋友们,——谁肯把膝盖以上有补钉的,或者只是多了两条缝的衣服,穿在身上?大多数人都好像认为,如果他们这样做了,从此就毁了终身。宁可跛了一条腿进城,他们也不肯穿着破裤子去。一位绅士有腿伤,是很平常的事,这是有办法补救的;如果裤脚管破了,却无法补救;因为人们关心的并不是真正应该敬重的东西,只是关心那些受人尊敬的东西。我们认识的人很少,我们认识的衣服和裤子却怪多。你给稻草人穿上你最后一件衣服,你自己不穿衣服站在旁边,哪一个经过的人不马上就向稻草人致敬呢?那天,我经过一片玉米田,就在那头戴帽子、身穿上衣的木桩旁边,我认出了那个农田主人。他比我上一回看见他,只不过凤吹雨打更显得憔悴了一些。我听说过,一条狗向所有穿了衣服走到它主人的地方来的人吠叫,却很容易被一个裸体的窃贼制服,一声不响。这是一个有趣的问题啊,没有衣服的话,人们将能多大地保持他们的身份?没有了衣服的话,你能不能在任何一群文明人中间,肯定地指出谁个最尊贵?

  斐斐夫人在她周游世界,从东到西的旅行中,当她非常地接近了亚洲的俄罗斯,要去谒见当地长官的时候,她说,她觉得不能再穿旅行服装了,因为她“现在是在一个文明国家里面,那里的人民是根据衣服来评价人的”。即使在我们这号称民主的新英格兰城中,只要有钱穿得讲究住得阔绰,具有了那种偶然的因素,他就受尽了众人的敬仰。可是,这些敬仰着的众人,人数真多,都是异教徒,所以应该派遣一个传教士前去。话说回来,衣服是要缝纫的,缝纫可是一种所谓无穷无尽的工作;至少,一个女人的衣服是从没有完工的一天的。

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