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瓦尔登湖:Baker Farm2

2006-07-29 01:17

  I set out one afternoon to go a-fishing to Fair Haven, through the woods, to eke out my scanty fare of vegetables.  My way led through Pleasant Meadow, an adjunct of the Baker Farm, that retreat of which a poet has since sung, beginning,——

  "Thy entry is a pleasant field,

  Which some mossy fruit trees yield

  Partly to a ruddy brook,

  By gliding musquash undertook,

  And mercurial trout,

  Darting about."

  I thought of living there before I went to Walden.  I "hooked" the apples, leaped the brook, and scared the musquash and the trout.  It was one of those afternoons which seem indefinitely long before one,in which many events may happen, a large portion of our natural life, though it was already half spent when I started.  By the way there came up a shower, which compelled me to stand half an hour under a pine, piling boughs over my head, and wearing my handkerchief for a shed; and when at length I had made one cast over the pickerelweed, standing up to my middle in water, I found myself suddenly in the shadow of a cloud, and the thunder began to rumble with such emphasis that I could do no more than listen to it.  The gods must be proud, thought I, with such forked flashes to rout a poor unarmed fisherman.  So I made haste for shelter to the nearest hut, which stood half a mile from any road, but so much the nearer to the pond, and had long been uninhabited:——

  "And here a poet builded,

  In the completed years,

  For behold a trivial cabin

  That to destruction steers."

  So the Muse fables.  But therein, as I found, dwelt now John Field,an Irishman, and his wife, and several children, from the broad-faced boy who assisted his father at his work, and now came running by his side from the bog to escape the rain, to the wrinkled, sibyl-like, cone-headed infant that sat upon its father's knee as in the palaces of nobles, and looked out from its home in the midst of wet and hunger inquisitively upon the stranger, with the privilege of infancy, not knowing but it was the last of a noble line, and the hope and cynosure of the world, instead of John Field's poor starveling brat.  There we sat together under that part of the roof which leaked the least, while it showered and thundered without.  I had sat there many times of old before the ship was built that floated his family to America.  An honest, hard-working,but shiftless man plainly was John Field; and his wife, she too was brave to cook so many successive dinners in the recesses of that lofty stove; with round greasy face and bare breast, still thinking to improve her condition one day; with the never absent mop in one hand, and yet no effects of it visible anywhere.  The chickens,which had also taken shelter here from the rain, stalked about the room like members of the family, too humanized, methought, to roast well.  They stood and looked in my eye or pecked at my shoe significantly.  Meanwhile my host told me his story, how hard he worked "bogging" for a neighboring farmer, turning up a meadow with a spade or bog hoe at the rate of ten dollars an acre and the use of the land with manure for one year, and his little broad-faced son worked cheerfully at his father's side the while, not knowing how poor a bargain the latter had made.  I tried to help him with my experience, telling him that he was one of my nearest neighbors, and that I too, who came a-fishing here, and looked like a loafer, was getting my living like himself; that I lived in a tight, light, and clean house, which hardly cost more than the annual rent of such a ruin as his commonly amounts to; and how, if he chose, he might in a month or two build himself a palace of his own; that I did not use tea, nor coffee, nor butter, nor milk, nor fresh meat, and so did not have to work to get them; again, as I did not work hard, I did not have to eat hard, and it cost me but a trifle for my food; but as he began with tea, and coffee, and butter, and milk, and beef, he had to work hard to pay for them, and when he had worked hard he had to eat hard again to repair the waste of his system —— and so it was as broad as it was long, indeed it was broader than it was long, for he was discontented and wasted his life into the bargain; and yet he had rated it as a gain in coming to America, that here you could get tea, and coffee, and meat every day.  But the only true America is that country where you are at liberty to pursue such a mode of life as may enable you to do without these, and where the state does not endeavor to compel you to sustain the slavery and war and other superfluous expenses which directly or indirectly result from the use of such things.  For I purposely talked to him as if he were a philosopher, or desired to be one.  I should be glad if all the meadows on the earth were left in a wild state, if that were the consequence of men's beginning to redeem themselves.  A man will not need to study history to find out what is best for his own culture. But alas! the culture of an Irishman is an enterprise to be undertaken with a sort of moral bog hoe.  I told him, that as he worked so hard at bogging, he required thick boots and stout clothing, which yet were soon soiled and worn out, but I wore light shoes and thin clothing, which cost not half so much, though he might think that I was dressed like a gentleman (which, however, was not the case), and in an hour or two, without labor, but as a recreation, I could, if I wished, catch as many fish as I should want for two days, or earn enough money to support me a week.  If he and his family would live simply, they might all go a-huckleberrying in the summer for their amusement.  John heaved a sigh at this, and his wife stared with arms a-kimbo, and both appeared to be wondering if they had capital enough to begin such a course with, or arithmetic enough to carry it through.  It was sailing by dead reckoning to them, and they saw not clearly how to make their port so; therefore I suppose they still take life bravely, after their fashion, face to face, giving it tooth and nail, not having skill to split its massive columns with any fine entering wedge, and rout it in detail; —— thinking to deal with it roughly, as one should handle a thistle.  But they fight at an overwhelming disadvantage ——living, John Field, alas! without arithmetic, and failing so.

  有一个下午我穿过森林到美港去钧鱼,以弥补我的蔬菜的不足。我沿路经过了快乐草地,它是和倍克田庄紧相连的,有个诗人曾经歌唱过这僻隐的地方,这样开头:“入口是愉快的田野,那里有些生苔的果树,让出一泓红红的清溪,水边有闪逃的麝香鼠,还有水银似的鳟鱼啊,游来游去。”

  还在我没有住到瓦尔登之前,我曾想过去那里生活。我曾去“钩”过苹果,纵身跃过那道溪,吓唬过麝香鼠和鳟鱼。在那些个显得漫长、可以发生许多事情的下午中间的一个,当我想到该把大部分时间用于大自然的生活,因而出动之时,这个下午已过去了一半。还在途中呢,就下了阵雨,使我不得不在一棵松树下躲了半个小时,我在头顶上面,搭了一些树枝,再用手帕当我的遮盖;后来我索性下了水,水深及腰,我在梭鱼草上垂下了钓丝,突然发现我自己已在一块乌云底下,雷霆已开始沉重地擂响,我除了听他的,没有别的办法了。我想,天上的诸神真神气,要用这些叉形的闪光来迫害我这个可怜的没有武装的渔人,我赶紧奔到最近一个茅屋中去躲,那里离开无论哪一条路,都是半英里,它倒是跟湖来得近些,很久以来就没有人在那里住了:“这里是诗人所建,在他的风烛残年,看这小小的木屋,也有毁灭的危险。”

  缪斯女神如此寓言。可是我看到那儿现在住着一个爱尔兰人,叫约翰。斐尔德,还有他的妻子和好几个孩子,大孩子有个宽阔的脸庞,已经在帮他父亲做工了,这会儿他也从沼泽中奔回家来躲雨,小的婴孩满脸皱纹,像先知一样,有个圆锥形的脑袋,坐在他父亲的膝盖上像坐在贵族的宫廷中,从他那个又潮湿又饥饿的家里好奇地望着陌生人,这自然是一个婴孩的权利,他却不知道自己是贵族世家的最后一代,他是世界的希望,世界注目的中心,并不是什么约翰。斐尔德的可怜的、饥饿的小子。我们一起坐在最不漏水的那部分屋顶下,而外面却是大雨又加大雷,我从前就在这里坐过多少次了,那时载了他们这一家而飘洋过海到美国来的那条船还没有造好呢。这个约翰。斐尔德显然是一个老实、勤恳,可是没有办法的人;他的妻子呢,她也是有毅力的,一连不断地在高高的炉子那儿做饭;圆圆的、油腻的脸,露出了胸,还在梦想有一天要过好日子呢,手中从来不放下拖把,可是没有一处看得到它发生了作用。小鸡也躲雨躲进了屋,在屋子里像家人一样大模大样地走来走去,跟人类太相似了,我想它们是烤起来也不会好吃的。

  它们站着,望着我的眼睛,故意来啄我的鞋子。同时,我的主人把他的身世告诉了我,他如何给邻近一个农夫艰苦地在沼泽上工作,如何用铲子或沼泽地上用的锄头翻一片草地,报酬是每英亩十元,并且利用土地和肥料一年,而他那个个子矮小、有宽阔的脸庞的大孩子就在父亲身边愉快地工作,并不知道他父亲接洽的是何等恶劣的交易。我想用我的经验来帮助他,告诉他我们是近邻,我呢,是来这儿钓鱼的,看外表,好比是一个流浪人,但也跟他一样,是个自食其力的人;还告诉他我住在一座很小的、光亮的、干净的屋子里,那造价可并不比他租用这种破房子一年的租费大;如果他愿意的话,他也能够在一两个月之内,给他自己造起一座皇宫来;我是不喝茶,不喝咖啡,不吃牛油,不喝牛奶,也不吃鲜肉的,因此我不必为了要得到它们而工作;而因为我不拼命工作,我也就不必拼命吃,所以我的伙食费数目很小;可是因为他一开始就要茶、咖啡、牛油、牛奶和牛肉,他就不得不拼命工作来偿付这一笔支出,他越拼命地工作,就越要吃得多,以弥补他身体上的消耗,——结果开支越来越大,而那开支之大确实比那时日之长更加厉害了,因为他不能满足,一生就这样消耗在里面了,然而他还认为,到美国来是一件大好事,在这里你每天可以吃到茶,咖啡和肉。可是那唯一的真正的美国应该是这样的一个国家,你可以自由地过一种生活,没有这些食物也能过得好,在这个国土上,并不需要强迫你支持奴隶制度,不需要你来供养一场战争,也不需要你付一笔间接或直接的因为这一类事情而付的额外费用。我特意这样跟他说,把他当成一个哲学家,或者当他是希望做一个哲学家的人。我很愿意让这片草原荒芜下去,如果是因为人类开始要赎罪,而后才有这样的结局的。一个人不必去读了历史,才明白什么东西对他自己的文化最有益。可是,唉!一个爱尔兰人的文化竟是用一柄沼泽地带用的锄头似的观念来开发的事业。我告诉他,既然在沼泽上拼命做苦工,他必须有厚靴子和牢固衣服,它们很快就磨损破烂了,我却只穿薄底鞋和薄衣服,价值还不到他的一半,在他看来我倒是穿得衣冠楚楚,像一个绅士(事实上,却并不是那样),而我可以不花什么力气,像消遣那样用一两小时的时间,如果我高兴的话,捕捉够吃一两天的鱼,或者赚下够我一星期花费的钱。如果他和他的家庭可以简单地生活,他们可以在夏天,都去拣拾越橘,以此为乐。

  听到这话,约翰就长叹一声,他的妻子两手叉腰瞪着我,似乎他们都在考虑,他们有没有足够的资金来开始过这样的生活,或者学到的算术是不是够他们把这种生活坚持到底。

  在他们看来,那是依靠测程和推算,也不清楚这样怎么可以到达他们的港岸;于是我揣想到了,他们还是会勇敢地用他们自己的那个方式来生活,面对生活,竭力奋斗,却没法用任何精锐的楔子楔入生活的大柱子,裂开它,细细地雕刻;——他们想到刻苦地对付生活,像人们对付那多刺的蓟草一样。可是他们是在非常恶劣的形势下面战斗的,——唉,约翰。斐尔德啊!不用算术而生活,你已经一败涂地了。

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