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2006-07-29 00:36

  Many a traveller came out of his way to see me and the inside of my house, and, as an excuse for calling, asked for a glass of water. I told them that I drank at the pond, and pointed thither, offering to lend them a dipper.  Far off as I lived, I was not exempted from the annual visitation which occurs, methinks, about the first of April, when everybody is on the move; and I had my share of good luck, though there were some curious specimens among my visitors. Half-witted men from the almshouse and elsewhere came to see me; but I endeavored to make them exercise all the wit they had, and make their confessions to me; in such cases making wit the theme of our conversation; and so was compensated.  Indeed, I found some of them to be wiser than the so-called overseers of the poor and selectmen of the town, and thought it was time that the tables were turned. With respect to wit, I learned that there was not much difference between the half and the whole.  One day, in particular, an inoffensive, simple-minded pauper, whom with others I had often seen used as fencing stuff, standing or sitting on a bushel in the fields to keep cattle and himself from straying, visited me, and expressed a wish to live as I did.  He told me, with the utmost simplicity and truth, quite superior, or rather inferior, to anything that is called humility, that he was "deficient in intellect."  These were his words.  The Lord had made him so, yet he supposed the Lord cared as much for him as for another.  "I have always been so," said he,"from my childhood; I never had much mind; I was not like other children; I am weak in the head.  It was the Lord's will, I suppose."  And there he was to prove the truth of his words.  He was a metaphysical puzzle to me.  I have rarely met a fellowman on such promising ground —— it was so simple and sincere and so true all that he said.  And, true enough, in proportion as he appeared to humble himself was he exalted.  I did not know at first but it was the result of a wise policy.  It seemed that from such a basis of truth and frankness as the poor weak-headed pauper had laid, our intercourse might go forward to something better than the intercourse of sages.

  I had some guests from those not reckoned commonly among the town's poor, but who should be; who are among the world's poor, at any rate; guests who appeal, not to your hospitality, but to your hospitalality; who earnestly wish to be helped, and preface their appeal with the information that they are resolved, for one thing,never to help themselves.  I require of a visitor that he be not actually starving, though he may have the very best appetite in the world, however he got it.  Objects of charity are not guests.  Men who did not know when their visit had terminated, though I went about my business again, answering them from greater and greater remoteness.  Men of almost every degree of wit called on me in the migrating season.  Some who had more wits than they knew what to do with; runaway slaves with plantation manners, who listened from time to time, like the fox in the fable, as if they heard the hounds a-baying on their track, and looked at me beseechingly, as much as to say, ——

  "O Christian, will you send me back?

  One real runaway slave, among the rest, whom I helped to forward toward the north star.  Men of one idea, like a hen with one chicken, and that a duckling; men of a thousand ideas, and unkempt heads, like those hens which are made to take charge of a hundred chickens, all in pursuit of one bug, a score of them lost in every morning's dew —— and become frizzled and mangy in consequence; men of ideas instead of legs, a sort of intellectual centipede that made you crawl all over.  One man proposed a book in which visitors should write their names, as at the White Mountains; but, alas! I have too good a memory to make that necessary.

  I could not but notice some of the peculiarities of my visitors. Girls and boys and young women generally seemed glad to be in the woods.  They looked in the pond and at the flowers, and improved their time.  Men of business, even farmers, thought only of solitude and employment, and of the great distance at which I dwelt from something or other; and though they said that they loved a ramble in the woods occasionally, it was obvious that they did not.  Restless committed men, whose time was an taken up in getting a living or keeping it; ministers who spoke of God as if they enjoyed a monopoly of the subject, who could not bear all kinds of opinions; doctors,lawyers, uneasy housekeepers who pried into my cupboard and bed when I was out —— how came Mrs. —— to know that my sheets were not as clean as hers? —— young men who had ceased to be young, and had concluded that it was safest to follow the beaten track of the professions —— all these generally said that it was not possible to do so much good in my position.  Ay! there was the rub.  The old and infirm and the timid, of whatever age or sex, thought most of sickness, and sudden accident and death; to them life seemed full of danger —— what danger is there if you don't think of any? —— and they thought that a prudent man would carefully select the safest position, where Dr. B. might be on hand at a moment's warning.  To them the village was literally a community, a league for mutual defence, and you would suppose that they would not go a-huckleberrying without a medicine chest.  The amount of it is, if a man is alive, there is always danger that he may die, though the danger must be allowed to be less in proportion as he is dead-and-alive to begin with.  A man sits as many risks as he runs. Finally, there were the self-styled reformers, the greatest bores of all, who thought that I was forever singing,——

  This is the house that I built;This is the man that lives in the house that I built;

  but they did not know that the third line was,

  These are the folks that worry the man That lives in the house that I built.

  I did not fear the hen-harriers, for I kept no chickens; but I feared the men-harriers rather. I had more cheering visitors than the last.  Children come a-berrying, railroad men taking a Sunday morning walk in clean shirts, fishermen and hunters, poets and philosophers; in short, all honest pilgrims, who came out to the woods for freedom's sake, and really left the village behind, I was ready to greet with ——"Welcome, Englishmen! welcome, Englishmen!" for I had had communication with that race.




  他们看着湖水,看着花,觉得时间过得很愉快。一些生意人,却只感到寂寞,只想着生意经,只觉得我住得不是离这太远就是离那太远,甚至有些农民也如此,虽然他们说,他们偶尔也爱作林中闲游,其实很明显,他们并不爱好。这些焦灼安的人啊,他们的时间都花在谋生或者维持生活上了;一些牧师,开口闭口说上帝,好像这题目是他们的专利品,他们也听不见各种不同的意见;医生,律师,忙碌的管家妇则趁我不在家的时候审察我的碗橱和床铺,——不然某夫人怎样知道我的床单没有她的干净?——有些已经不再年轻的年轻人,以为跟着职业界的老路走,是最安全的办法了,——这些人一般都说我这种生活没有好处。啊,问题就在这里!那些衰老的,有病的,胆怯的人,不管他们的年龄性别,想得最多的是疾病、意外和死亡;在他们看来,生命是充满了危险的,——可如果你不去想它,那又有什么危险呢?——他们觉得,谨慎的人应当小心地挑选个最安全的地区,在那里的医生可以随唤随到。在他们看来,村子真是一个com一Munit y,一个共同防护的联盟,你可以想象的,他们连采集越橘时也要带药箱去呢。这就是说,一个人如果是活着的,他就随时随地有死亡的危险,其实这样的死亡危险,由于他已经是一个活着的死人而相对地减少了。一个人闭门家中坐,跟他出外奔跑是一样危险的。



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