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瓦尔登湖:经济篇13

2006-07-28 19:00

  We may imagine a time when, in the infancy of the human race,some enterprising mortal crept into a hollow in a rock for shelter. Every child begins the world again, to some extent, and loves to stay outdoors, even in wet and cold.  It plays house, as well as horse, having an instinct for it.  Who does not remember the interest with which, when young, he looked at shelving rocks, or any approach to a cave?  It was the natural yearning of that portion,any portion of our most primitive ancestor which still survived in us.  From the cave we have advanced to roofs of palm leaves, of bark and boughs, of linen woven and stretched, of grass and straw, of boards and shingles, of stones and tiles.  At last, we know not what it is to live in the open air, and our lives are domestic in more senses than we think.  From the hearth the field is a great distance.  It would be well, perhaps, if we were to spend more of our days and nights without any obstruction between us and the celestial bodies, if the poet did not speak so much from under a roof, or the saint dwell there so long.  Birds do not sing in caves,nor do doves cherish their innocence in dovecots.

  However, if one designs to construct a dwelling-house, it behooves him to exercise a little Yankee shrewdness, lest after all he find himself in a workhouse, a labyrinth without a clue, a museum, an almshouse, a prison, or a splendid mausoleum instead. Consider first how slight a shelter is absolutely necessary.  I have seen Penobscot Indians, in this town, living in tents of thin cotton cloth, while the snow was nearly a foot deep around them, and I thought that they would be glad to have it deeper to keep out the wind.  Formerly, when how to get my living honestly, with freedom left for my proper pursuits, was a question which vexed me even more than it does now, for unfortunately I am become somewhat callous, I used to see a large box by the railroad, six feet long by three wide, in which the laborers locked up their tools at night; and it suggested to me that every man who was hard pushed might get such a one for a dollar, and, having bored a few auger holes in it, to admit the air at least, get into it when it rained and at night, and hook down the lid, and so have freedom in his love, and in his soul be free.  This did not appear the worst, nor by any means a despicable alternative.  You could sit up as late as you pleased,and, whenever you got up, go abroad without any landlord or house-lord dogging you for rent.  Many a man is harassed to death to pay the rent of a larger and more luxurious box who would not have frozen to death in such a box as this.  I am far from jesting. Economy is a subject which admits of being treated with levity, but it cannot so be disposed of.  A comfortable house for a rude and hardy race, that lived mostly out of doors, was once made here almost entirely of such materials as Nature furnished ready to their hands.  Gookin, who was superintendent of the Indians subject to the Massachusetts Colony, writing in 1674, says, "The best of their houses are covered very neatly, tight and warm, with barks of trees,slipped from their bodies at those seasons when the sap is up, and made into great flakes, with pressure of weighty timber, when they are green……  The meaner sort are covered with mats which they make of a kind of bulrush, and are also indifferently tight and warm, but not so good as the former……  Some I have seen, sixty or a hundred feet long and thirty feet broad……  I have often lodged in their wigwams, and found them as warm as the best English houses."  He adds that they were commonly carpeted and lined within with well-wrought embroidered mats, and were furnished with various utensils.  The Indians had advanced so far as to regulate the effect of the wind by a mat suspended over the hole in the roof and moved by a string.  Such a lodge was in the first instance constructed in a day or two at most, and taken down and put up in a few hours; and every family owned one, or its apartment in one.

  我们可以想象那个时候,人类还在婴孩期,有些进取心很强的人爬进岩穴去找荫蔽。

  每个婴孩都在一定程度上再次重复了这部世界史,他们爱户外,不管雨天和冷天。他们玩房屋的游戏,骑竹马,出于本能。谁不回忆到自己小时候窥望一个洞穴,或走近一个洞穴时的兴奋心情?我们最原始时代的祖先的天性还遗留在我们的体内。从洞穴,我们进步到上覆棕榈树叶树皮树枝,编织拉挺的亚麻的屋顶,又进步到青草和稻草屋顶,木板和盖板屋顶,石头和砖瓦屋顶。最后我们就不知道什么是露天的生活了,我们的室内生活比我们自己所想的还要室内化得多。炉火之离开田地可有很大的距离。如果在我们度过白昼和黑夜时,有更多时候是和天体中间没有东西隔开着的,如果诗人并不是在屋脊下面说话说得那么多,如果圣人也不在房屋内住得那么长久的话,也许事情就好了。

  鸟雀不会在洞内唱歌,白鸽不会在棚子里抚爱它们的真纯。

  然而,如果有人要打图样造一所住宅,他应该像我们新英格兰人那样的稍为精明一点才好,免得将来他会发现他自己是在一座工场中,或在一座没有出路的迷宫中,或在一所博物院中,或在一所救贫院中,或在一个监狱中,或在一座华丽的陵墓中。先想一想,荫蔽并不见得是绝对必需的。我看见过潘诺勃斯各特河上的印第安人,就在这镇上,他们住在薄棉布的营帐中,四周的积雪约一英尺厚,我想要是雪积得更厚,可以替他们挡风的话,他们一定更高兴。如何使我老实地生活并得到自由来从事我的正当追求,从前这一个问题比现在更使我烦恼,因为我幸亏变得相当麻木了。我常常看到,在铁路旁边,一只大木箱六英尺长三英尺宽,工人们把他们的工具锁在其中过夜,我就想到,每一个觉得日子艰难的人可以花一元钱买这样一只箱子,钻几个洞孔,至少可以放进空气,下雨时和晚上就可以住进去,把箱盖合上,这样他的灵魂便自由了,他可以自由自在地爱他所爱的了。看来这并不很坏,也决不是个可以鄙视的办法。你可以随心所欲,长夜坐而不寐;起身出外时,也不会有什么大房东二房东拦住你要房租。多少人因为要付一只更大而更宏丽的箱子的租金,就烦恼到老死;而他是不会冻死在这样的一只小箱子里的。我一点儿也不是说笑话。经济学这一门科学,曾经受到各种各样的轻视,但它是不可以等闲视之的。那些粗壮结实,在露天过大部分生活的人,曾经在这里盖过一所舒服的房屋,取用的几乎全部是大自然的现成材料。马萨诸塞州垦区的印第安人的总管戈金,曾在一六七四年这样写道:“他们的最好的尖屋用树皮盖顶,干净清爽,紧密而温暖,这些树皮都是在干燥的季节中,从树身上掉下来的,趁树皮还苍翠的时候,用相当重的木材压成巨片。……较蹩脚的尖屋也用灯心草编成的席子盖顶,也很紧密而温暖,只是没有前者那么精美……我所看到的,有的是六十英尺,或一百英尺长,三十英尺宽。……

  我常常住在他们的尖屋中,发现它跟最好的英国式屋子一样温暖。“他接着还说,室内通常是把嵌花的席子铺在地上和挂在墙壁上的,各种器皿一应俱全。而且印第安人已经进步到能够在屋顶上开洞,放上一张席子,用绳子来开关,控制了通风设施。首先要注意的是,这样的尖屋最多一面天就可以盖起来,只要几个小时就可以拆掉,并且重新搭好,每一家人家都有一座这样的房子,或者占有这样的尖屋中的一个小间。

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