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瓦尔登湖:经济篇17

2006-07-28 19:12

  It is the luxurious and dissipated who set the fashions which the herd so diligently follow.  The traveller who stops at the best houses, so called, soon discovers this, for the publicans presume him to be a Sardanapalus, and if he resigned himself to their tender mercies he would soon be completely emasculated.  I think that in the railroad car we are inclined to spend more on luxury than on safety and convenience, and it threatens without attaining these to become no better than a modern drawing-room, with its divans, and ottomans, and sun-shades, and a hundred other oriental things, which we are taking west with us, invented for the ladies of the harem and the effeminate natives of the Celestial Empire, which Jonathan should be ashamed to know the names of.  I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.  I would rather ride on earth in an ox cart, with a free circulation, than go to heaven in the fancy car of an excursion train and breathe a malaria all the way.

  The very simplicity and nakedness of man's life in the primitive ages imply this advantage, at least, that they left him still but a sojourner in nature.  When he was refreshed with food and sleep, he contemplated his journey again.  He dwelt, as it were, in a tent in this world, and was either threading the valleys, or crossing the plains, or climbing the mountain-tops.  But lo! men have become the tools of their tools.  The man who independently plucked the fruits when he was hungry is become a farmer; and he who stood under a tree for shelter, a housekeeper.  We now no longer camp as for a night,but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven.  We have adopted Christianity merely as an improved method of agri-culture. We have built for this world a family mansion, and for the next a family tomb.  The best works of art are the expression of man's struggle to free himself from this condition, but the effect of our art is merely to make this low state comfortable and that higher state to be forgotten.  There is actually no place in this village for a work of fine art, if any had come down to us, to stand, for our lives, our houses and streets, furnish no proper pedestal for it.  There is not a nail to hang a picture on, nor a shelf to receive the bust of a hero or a saint.  When I consider how our houses are built and paid for, or not paid for, and their internal economy managed and sustained, I wonder that the floor does not give way under the visitor while he is admiring the gewgaws upon the mantelpiece, and let him through into the cellar, to some solid and honest though earthy foundation.  I cannot but perceive that this so-called rich and refined life is a thing jumped at, and I do not get on in the enjoyment of the fine arts which adorn it, my attention being wholly occupied with the jump; for I remember that the greatest genuine leap, due to human muscles alone, on record, is that of certain wandering Arabs, who are said to have cleared twenty-five feet on level ground.  Without factitious support, man is sure to come to earth again beyond that distance.  The first question which I am tempted to put to the proprietor of such great impropriety is, Who bolsters you?  Are you one of the ninety-seven who fail, or the three who succeed?  Answer me these questions, and then perhaps I may look at your bawbles and find them ornamental. The cart before the horse is neither beautiful nor useful.  Before we can adorn our houses with beautiful objects the walls must be stripped, and our lives must be stripped, and beautiful housekeeping and beautiful living be laid for a foundation: now, a taste for the beautiful is most cultivated out of doors, where there is no house and no housekeeper.

  Old Johnson, in his "Wonder-Working Providence," speaking of the first settlers of this town, with whom he was contemporary, tells us that "they burrow themselves in the earth for their first shelter under some hillside, and, casting the soil aloft upon timber, they make a smoky fire against the earth, at the highest side."  They did not "provide them houses," says he, "till the earth, by the Lord's blessing, brought forth bread to feed them," and the first year's crop was so light that "they were forced to cut their bread very thin for a long season."  The secretary of the Province of New Netherland, writing in Dutch, in 1650, for the information of those who wished to take up land there, states more particularly that "those in New Netherland, and especially in New England, who have no means to build farmhouses at first according to their wishes, dig a square pit in the ground, cellar fashion, six or seven feet deep, as long and as broad as they think proper, case the earth inside with wood all round the wall, and line the wood with the bark of trees or something else to prevent the caving in of the earth; floor this cellar with plank, and wainscot it overhead for a ceiling, raise a roof of spars clear up, and cover the spars with bark or green sods,so that they can live dry and warm in these houses with their entire families for two, three, and four years, it being understood that partitions are run through those cellars which are adapted to the size of the family.  The wealthy and principal men in New England,in the beginning of the colonies, commenced their first dwelling-houses in this fashion for two reasons: firstly, in order not to waste time in building, and not to want food the next season;secondly, in order not to discourage poor laboring people whom they brought over in numbers from Fatherland.  In the course of three or four years, when the country became adapted to agriculture, they built themselves handsome houses, spending on them several thousands."

  骄奢淫逸的人创设了时髦翻新,让成群的人勤谨地追随。一个旅行者,投宿在所谓最漂亮的房间里,他就会发现这点,因为旅店主人们当他萨达拿泼勒斯来招待了,要是他接受了他们的盛情,不多久他就会完全失去男性的精神。我想到铁路车厢,我们是宁愿花更多的钱于布置的奢侈上,而不在乎行车的安全和便捷的,结果安全和便捷都谈不到,车厢成了一个摩登客厅,有软褥的睡椅,土耳其式的厚榻,遮阳的帘予,还有一百种另外的东方的花样,我们把它们搬到西方来了,那些花样,原先是为天朝帝国的六宫粉黛,天子的后妃,后宫中的妻妾而发明的,那是约拿单听到名称都要难为情的东西。

  我宁可坐在一只大南瓜上,由我一个人占有它,不愿意挤在天鹅绒的垫子上。我宁可坐一辆牛车,自由自在来去,不愿意坐什么花哨的游览污去天堂,一路上呼吸着污浊的空气。

  原始人生活得简简单单,赤身露体,至少有这样的好处,他还只是大自然之中的一个过客。当他吃饱睡够,神清气爽,便可以再考虑他的行程。可不是,他居住在苍穹的篷帐下面,不是穿过山谷,使是踱过平原,或是攀登高山。可是,看啊!人类已经成为他们的工具的工具了。独立自然地,饥饿了就采果实吃的人已经变成一个农夫;而在树荫下歇力的人已经变成一个管家。我们不再在夜间露营,我们安居在大地上,忘记了天空。我们信奉基督教,不过当它是一种改良农业的方法。我们已经在尘世造好府邸家宅,随后就建造家墓坟地。最杰出的艺术作品都表现着人类怎样从这种情形中挣扎出来,解放自己,但我们的艺术效果不过是把我们这屈辱的境遇弄得舒适一点,而那比较高级的境界却会被遗忘了。真的,在这村子里,美术作品没有插足之地,就算有些作品是流传下来了的,因为我们的生活,我们的房屋或街道都不能为美术作品提供恰当的垫座。挂一张画的钉子都没有,也没有一个架子来接受英雄或圣者的胸像。当我想起我们的房屋是怎样建筑的,是怎样付款或付而未清帐的,它们家庭的内部经济又是怎样的一回事,我不禁晴暗纳罕了,为什么在宾客赞赏壁炉架上那些小玩意儿的时候,地板不会一下子坍下去,让它掉落到地窖中去,一直落到坚固的、忠实的基岩上。我不能不看到,世人是在向着所谓富有而优雅的生活跳跃,我一点也不欣赏那些点缀生活的美术品,我全神贯注在人们的跳跃之上,想起人类肌肉能达到的最高的跳高纪录,还是某一些流浪的阿拉伯人保持的,他们从平地上跳到二十五英尺之高。没有东西支持的话,跳到了这样的高度上也还是要跌到地上来的。因此,我要问间那些太不恰当的产业所有者,第一个问题是,谁支持你?你是在九十六个失败的人当中呢,还是在三个成功的人当中?口答了这些问题之后,也许我会去看看你的华丽而无价值的玩物,鉴赏鉴赏它们的装饰风味。

  车子套在马前面,既不美观,也没有用处。在用美丽的饰物装饰房屋之前,必须把墙壁剥去一层,还得剥除一层我们的生命,还要有美好的家务管理,美好的生活作为底子:要知道,美的趣味最好在露天培育,在那里既没有房屋,也没有管家。

  老约翰逊在他的《神奇的造化》中,说起他的那些最初移殖到这个城市来的同时代人,他告诉我们说:“他们在小山坡上,挖掘窑洞,作为最早的荫蔽处所,他们把土高高地堆在木材上,在最高的一边,生了冒浓烟的火,烘烤泥土。”他们并不“给自己造房子”,他说,直到“上帝赐福,土地上生产了足够的面包喂饱了他们”,然而第一年的收成却不好,“他们不得不有很长的一季减少口粮。”一六五0年,新尼特兰州州秘书长用荷兰文写过一段话,更加详细地告诉预备往那里移居的人说,“在新尼特兰的人,特别在新英格兰的人,起初是无法按他们的愿望建造农舍的,他们在地上挖个方方的地窖似的、六七英尺深的坑,长短随便他们自己,然后在墙壁上装上木板,挡住泥土,用树皮合缝,以免泥土落下来,当然也有用了别种材料的,还用木板铺了地板,做了天花板,架起了一个斜桁的屋顶,铺上树皮或绿草皮,这样他们全家可以很温暖很干燥地在里面住上两年、三年,或者四年,可以想象,这些地窖中,还隔出了一些小房间,这要看家里的人口数目了。新英格兰的阔气的要人,在开始殖民的时候,也住在这样的住所里面,那是有两个原因的,第一,兔得筑造房屋,浪费了时间,弄得下一季粮食不够吃:第二,不希望他们大批地从祖国招来的苦工感觉到灰心。三四年之后当田野已适宜于耕种了,他们才给自己造漂亮的房子,花上几千元的钱。”

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