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瓦尔登湖:经济篇32

2006-07-28 23:52

   I am far from supposing that my case is a peculiar one; no doubt many of my readers would make a similar defence. At doing something—— I will not engage that my neighbors shall pronounce it good —— I do not hesitate to say that I should be a capital fellow to hire;but what that is, it is for my employer to find out. What good I do, in the common sense of that word, must be aside from my main path, and for the most part wholly unintended. Men say,practically, Begin where you are and such as you are, without aiming mainly to become of more worth, and with kindness aforethought go about doing good. If I were to preach at all in this strain, I should say rather, Set about being good. As if the sun should stop when he had kindled his fires up to the splendor of a moon or a star of the sixth magnitude, and go about like a Robin Goodfellow,peeping in at every cottage window, inspiring lunatics, and tainting meats, and making darkness visible, instead of steadily increasing his genial heat and beneficence till he is of such brightness that no mortal can look him in the face, and then, and in the meanwhile too, going about the world in his own orbit, doing it good, or rather, as a truer philosophy has discovered, the world going about him getting good. When Phaeton, wishing to prove his heavenly birth by his beneficence, had the sun's chariot but one day, and drove out of the beaten track, he burned several blocks of houses in the lower streets of heaven, and scorched the surface of the earth, and dried up every spring, and made the great desert of Sahara, till at length Jupiter hurled him headlong to the earth with a thunderbolt, and the sun, through grief at his death, did not shine for a year.

  There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. It is human, it is divine, carrion. If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life, as from that dry and parching wind of the African deserts called the simoom, which fills the mouth and nose and ears and eyes with dust till you are suffocated, for fear that I should get some of his good done to me—— some of its virus mingled with my blood. No —— in this case I would rather suffer evil the natural way. A man is not a good man to me because he will feed me if I should be starving, or warm me if I should be freezing, or pull me out of a ditch if I should ever fall into one. I can find you a Newfoundland dog that will do as much. Philanthropy is not love for one's fellow-man in the broadest sense. Howard was no doubt an exceedingly kind and worthy man in his way, and has his reward; but, comparatively speaking, what are a hundred Howards to us, if their philanthropy do not help us in our best estate, when we are most worthy to be helped? I never heard of a philanthropic meeting in which it was sincerely proposed to do any good to me, or the like of me.

  The Jesuits were quite balked by those Indians who, being burned at the stake, suggested new modes of torture to their tormentors. Being superior to physical suffering, it sometimes chanced that they were superior to any consolation which the missionaries could offer;and the law to do as you would be done by fell with less persuasiveness on the ears of those who, for their part, did not care how they were done by, who loved their enemies after a new fashion, and came very near freely forgiving them all they did.

  Be sure that you give the poor the aid they most need, though it be your example which leaves them far behind. If you give money,spend yourself with it, and do not merely abandon it to them. We make curious mistakes sometimes. Often the poor man is not so cold and hungry as he is dirty and ragged and gross. It is partly his taste, and not merely his misfortune. If you give him money, he will perhaps buy more rags with it. I was wont to pity the clumsy Irish laborers who cut ice on the pond, in such mean and ragged clothes, while I shivered in my more tidy and somewhat more fashionable garments, till, one bitter cold day, one who had slipped into the water came to my house to warm him, and I saw him strip off three pairs of pants and two pairs of stockings ere he got down to the skin, though they were dirty and ragged enough, it is true, and that he could afford to refuse the extra garments which I offered him, he had so many intra ones. This ducking was the very thing he needed. Then I began to pity myself, and I saw that it would be a greater charity to bestow on me a flannel shirt than a whole slop-shop on him. There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve. It is the pious slave-breeder devoting the proceeds of every tenth slave to buy a Sunday's liberty for the rest. Some show their kindness to the poor by employing them in their kitchens. Would they not be kinder if they employed themselves there? You boast of spending a tenth part of your income in charity; maybe you should spend the nine tenths so, and done with it. Society recovers only a tenth part of the property then. Is this owing to the generosity of him in whose possession it is found,or to the remissness of the officers of justice?

  我一点都不是说我例外,无疑,读者之中,许多人要同样地申辩的。在做什么事的时候,——我并不保证说邻居们会说它是好事的,——我可以毫不迟疑他说,我可是一个很出色的雇工呢;可是做什么事我才出色呢,这要让我的雇主来发现了。我做什么好,凡属于一般常识的所谓好,一定不在我的主要轨道上,而且大多是我自己都无意去做的。

  人们很实际他说,从你所站着的地方开始,就照原来的样子,不要主要以成为更有价值的人作为目标,而要以好心肠去做好事情。要是我也用这种调子说话,我就干脆这样说:去吧,去做好人。仿佛太阳在以它的火焰照耀了月亮或一颗六等星以后,会停下来,跑来跑去像好人罗宾似的,在每所村屋的窗外偷看,叫人发疯,叫肉变质,使黑暗的地方可以看得见东西,而不是继续不已地增强他的柔和的热和恩惠,直到它变得这般光辉灿烂,没有几人能够凝视它,而同时它绕着世界,行走在它自己的轨道上,做好事,或者说,像一个真正的哲学家已经发现了的,地球会绕着它运转而得到了它的好处。当法厄同要证明他的出身是神,恩惠世人,驾驶日轮,只不过一天,就越出轨道时,他在天堂下面的街上烧掉了几排房子,还把地球表面烧焦了,把每年的春天部烘干了,而且创造了一个撒哈拉大沙漠,最后朱庇特一个霹雳把他打到地上,太阳为悲悼他的丧命,有一年没有发光。

  没有比善良走了味更坏的气味了。这像人的腐尸或神的腐尸臭味一样。如果我确实知道有人要到我家里来,存心要给我做好事,我就要逃命了,好像我要逃出非洲沙漠中的所谓西蒙风的狂风,它的沙粒塞满了你的嘴巴、耳朵、鼻子和眼睛,直到把你闷死为止,因为我就怕他做的好事做到了我身上,——他的毒素混入我的血液中。不行,——要是如此,我倒宁可忍受人家在我身上干的坏事,那倒来得自然些。如果我饥饿,而他喂饱了我,如果我寒冷,而他暖和了我,如果我掉在沟中,而他拉起了我,这个人不算好人。我可以找一条纽芬兰的狗给你看,这些它都做得到。慈善并不是那种爱同胞的广义的爱。霍华德固然从他本人那方面来说无疑是很卓越的,很了不起的,且已善有善报了;可是,比较他说来,如果霍华德们的慈善事业,慈善不到我们已经拥有最好的产业的人身上,那末,在我们最值得接受帮助的时候,一百个霍华德对于我们又有什么用处?

  我从没有听到过任何一个慈善大会曾诚诚恳恳提议过要向我,或向我这样的一些人,来行善做好事。

  那些那稣会会士也给印第安人难倒了,印第安人在被绑住活活烧死的时候提出新奇的方式来虐待他们的施刑者。他们是超越了肉体的痛苦的,有时就不免证明他们更超越了传教士所能献奉的灵魂的慰藉;你应该奉行的规则是杀害他们时少噜苏一点,少在这些人的耳朵上絮聒,他们根本就不关心他们如何被害,他们用一种新奇的方式来爱他们的仇敌,几乎已经宽赦了他们所犯的一切罪行。

  你一定要给穷人以他们最需要的帮助,虽然他们落在你的后面本是你的造孽。如果你施舍了钱给他们,你应该自己陪同他们花掉这笔钱,不要扔给他们就算了。我们有时候犯很奇怪的错误。往往是那个穷人,邋遢、褴楼又粗野,但并没有冻馁之忧,他并不怎么不幸,他往往还乐此不疲呢。你要是给了他钱,他也许就去买更多褴褛的衣服。我常常怜悯那些穷相十足的爱尔兰工人,在湖上挖冰,穿得这样褴褛,这样贫贱,而我穿的是干净的似乎是比较合时的衣服)却还冷得发抖呢,直到有一个严寒的冷天,一个掉进了冰里的人来到我的屋中取暖,我看他脱下了三条裤子和两双袜子才见到皮肤,虽然裤子袜子破敝不堪,这是真的,可是他拒绝了我将要献呈于他的额外衣服,因为他有着这许多的里面衣服。活该他落水的了。于是我开始可怜我自己,要是给我一件法兰绒衬衫,那就比给他一座旧衣铺子慈善得多。一千人在砍着罪恶的树枝,只有一个人砍伐了罪恶的根,说不定那个把时间和金钱在穷人身上花得最多的人,正是在用他那种生活方式引起最多的贫困与不幸,现在他却在徒然努力于挽救之道。正是道貌岸然的蓄奴主,拿出奴隶生产的利息的十分之一来,给其余的奴隶星期日的自由。有人为表示对穷人赐恩而叫他到厨房去工作。为什么他们自己不下厨房工作,这不是更慈悲了吗?你吹牛说,你的收入的十分之一捐给慈善事业了,也许你应该捐出十分之九,就此结束。那未,社会收回的只是十分之一的财富。这是由于占有者的慷慨呢,还是由于持正义者的疏忽呢?

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