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Sounds5

2006-07-29 00:20

  Commerce is unexpectedly confident and serene, alert,adventurous, and unwearied.  It is very natural in its methods withal, far more so than many fantastic enterprises and sentimental experiments, and hence its singular success.  I am refreshed and expanded when the freight train rattles past me, and I smell the stores which go dispensing their odors all the way from Long Wharf to Lake Champlain, reminding me of foreign parts, of coral reefs,and Indian oceans, and tropical climes, and the extent of the globe. I feel more like a citizen of the world at the sight of the palm-leaf which will cover so many flaxen New England heads the next summer, the Manilla hemp and cocoanut husks, the old junk, gunny bags, scrap iron, and rusty nails.  This carload of torn sails is more legible and interesting now than if they should be wrought into paper and printed books.  Who can write so graphically the history of the storms they have weathered as these rents have done?  They are proof-sheets which need no correction.  Here goes lumber from the Maine woods, which did not go out to sea in the last freshet,risen four dollars on the thousand because of what did go out or was split up; pine, spruce, cedar —— first, second, third, and fourth qualities, so lately all of one quality, to wave over the bear, and moose, and caribou.  Next rolls Thomaston lime, a prime lot, which will get far among the hills before it gets slacked.  These rags in bales, of all hues and qualities, the lowest condition to which cotton and linen descend, the final result of dress —— of patterns which are now no longer cried up, unless it be in Milwaukee, as those splendid articles, English, French, or American prints,ginghams, muslins, etc., gathered from all quarters both of fashion and poverty, going to become paper of one color or a few shades only, on which, forsooth, will be written tales of real life, high and low, and founded on fact!  This closed car smells of salt fish,the strong New England and commercial scent, reminding me of the Grand Banks and the fisheries.  Who has not seen a salt fish,thoroughly cured for this world, so that nothing can spoil it, and putting, the perseverance of the saints to the blush? with which you may sweep or pave the streets, and split your kindlings, and the teamster shelter himself and his lading against sun, wind, and rain behind it —— and the trader, as a Concord trader once did, hang it up by his door for a sign when he commences business, until at last his oldest customer cannot tell surely whether it be animal,vegetable, or mineral, and yet it shall be as pure as a snowflake,and if it be put into a pot and boiled, will come out an excellent dun-fish for a Saturday's dinner.  Next Spanish hides, with the tails still preserving their twist and the angle of elevation they had when the oxen that wore them were careering over the pampas of the Spanish Main —— a type of all obstinacy, and evincing how almost hopeless and incurable are all constitutional vices.  I confess,that practically speaking, when I have learned a man's real disposition, I have no hopes of changing it for the better or worse in this state of existence.  As the Orientals say, "A cur's tail may be warmed, and pressed, and bound round with ligatures, and after a twelve years' labor bestowed upon it, still it will retain its natural form."  The only effectual cure for such inveteracies as these tails exhibit is to make glue of them, which I believe is what is usually done with them, and then they will stay put and stick. Here is a hogshead of molasses or of brandy directed to John Smith,Cuttingsville, Vermont, some trader among the Green Mountains, who imports for the farmers near his clearing, and now perchance stands over his bulkhead and thinks of the last arrivals on the coast, how they may affect the price for him, telling his customers this moment, as he has told them twenty times before this morning, that he expects some by the next train of prime quality.  It is advertised in the Cuttingsville Times.

  While these things go up other things come down.  Warned by the whizzing sound, I look up from my book and see some tall pine, hewn on far northern hills, which has winged its way over the Green Mountains and the Connecticut, shot like an arrow through the township within ten minutes, and scarce another eye beholds it;going "to be the mast Of some great ammiral."

  商业是出乎意料地自信的,庄重的,灵敏的,进取的,而且不知疲劳的。它的一些方式都很自然,许多幻想的事业和感伤的试验都不能跟它相提并论,因此它有独到的成功。一列货车在我旁边经过之后,我感到清新,气概非凡了,我闻到了一些商品的味道,从长码头到却姆泼兰湖的一路上,商品都散发出味道来,使我联想到了外国、珊瑚礁、印度洋、热带气候和地球之大。我看到一些棕榈叶,到明年夏天,有多少新英格兰的亚麻色的头发上都要戴上它的,我又看到马尼拉的麻、椰子壳、旧绳索、黄麻袋、废铁和锈钉,这时候我更觉得自己是一个世界公民了。一车子的破帆,造成了纸,印成了书,读起来一定是更易懂、更有趣。谁能够像这些破帆这样把它们经历惊风骇浪的历史,生动地描绘下来呢?它们本身就是不需要校阅的校样。经过这里的是缅因森林中的木料,上次水涨时没有扎排到海里去,因为运出去或者锯开的那些木料的关系,每一千根涨了四元,洋松啊,针枞啊,杉木啊,——头等,二等,三等,四等,不久前还是同一个质量的林木,摇曳在熊、麋鹿和驯鹿之上。其次隆隆地经过了汤麦斯东石灰,头等货色,要运到很远的山区去,才卸下来的。至于这一袋袋的破布,各种颜色,各种质料,真是棉织品和细麻布的最悲惨的下场,衣服的最后结局,——再没有人去称赞它们的图案了,除非是在密尔沃基市,这些光耀的衣服质料,英国、法国、美国的印花布,方格布,薄纱等等,——却是从富有的,贫贱的,各方面去搜集拢来的破布头,将要变成一色的,或仅有不同深浅的纸张,说不定在纸张上会写出一些真实生活的故事,上流社会下等社会的都有,都是根据事实写的!这一辆紧闭的篷车散发出咸鱼味,强烈的新英格兰的商业味道,使我联想到大河岸和渔业了。谁没有见过一条咸鱼呢?全部都是为我们这个世界而腌了的,再没有什么东西能使它变坏了,它教一些坚韧不拔的圣人都自惭不如哩。

  有了咸鱼,你可以扫街,你可以铺街道,你可以劈开引火柴,躲在咸鱼后面,驴马队的夫子和他的货物也可以避太阳,避风雨了,——正如一个康科德的商人实行过的,商人可以在新店开张时把咸鱼挂在门上当招牌,一直到最后老主顾都没法说出它究竟是动物呢,还是植物或矿物时,它还是白得像雪花,如果你把它放在锅里烧开,依然还是一条美味的咸鱼,可供星期六晚上的宴会。其次是西班牙的皮革,尾巴还那样扭转,还保留着当它们在西班牙本土的草原上疾驰时的仰角,——足见是很顽固的典型,证明性格上的一切缺点是如何地没有希望而不可救药啊。实在的,在我知道了人的本性之后,我承认在目前的生存情况之下,我决不希望它能改好,或者变坏。东方人说,“一条狗尾巴可以烧,压,用带子绑,穷十二年之精力,它还是不改老样子。”对于像这些尾巴一样根深蒂固的本性,仅有一个办法,就是把它们制成胶质,我想通常就是拿它们来作这种用场的,它们才可以胶着一切。这里是一大桶糖蜜,也许是白兰地,送到佛蒙特的克丁司维尔,给约翰。史密斯先生,青山地区的商人,他是为了他住处附近的农民采办进口货的,或许现在他靠在他的船的舱壁上,想着最近装到海岸上来的一批货色将会怎样影响价格,同时告诉他的顾客,他希望下一次火车带到头等货色,这话在这个早晨以前就说过二十遍了。这已经在《克丁司维尔时报》上登过广告。

  这些货物上来,另一些货物下去。我听见了那疾驰飞奔的声音,从我的书上抬起头来,看到了一些高大的洋松,那是从极北部的山上砍伐下来的,它插上翅膀飞过了青山和康涅狄格州,它箭一样地十分钟就穿过了城市,人家还没有看到它,已经“成为一只旗舰上面的一技桅杆。”

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