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瓦尔登湖:经济篇18

2006-07-28 19:14

  In this course which our ancestors took there was a show of prudence at least, as if their principle were to satisfy the more pressing wants first.  But are the more pressing wants satisfied now?  When I think of acquiring for myself one of our luxurious dwellings, I am deterred, for, so to speak, the country is not yet adapted to human culture, and we are still forced to cut our spiritual bread far thinner than our forefathers did their wheaten. Not that all architectural ornament is to be neglected even in the rudest periods; but let our houses first be lined with beauty, where they come in contact with our lives, like the tenement of the shellfish, and not overlaid with it.  But, alas! I have been inside one or two of them, and know what they are lined with.

  Though we are not so degenerate but that we might possibly live in a cave or a wigwam or wear skins today, it certainly is better to accept the advantages, though so dearly bought, which the invention and industry of mankind offer.  In such a neighborhood as this,boards and shingles, lime and bricks, are cheaper and more easily obtained than suitable caves, or whole logs, or bark in sufficient quantities, or even well-tempered clay or flat stones.  I speak understandingly on this subject, for I have made myself acquainted with it both theoretically and practically.  With a little more wit we might use these materials so as to become richer than the richest now are, and make our civilization a blessing.  The civilized man is a more experienced and wiser savage.  But to make haste to my own experiment.

  Near the end of March, 1845, I borrowed an axe and went down to the woods by Walden Pond, nearest to where I intended to build my house, and began to cut down some tall, arrowy white pines, still in their youth, for timber.  It is difficult to begin without borrowing, but perhaps it is the most generous course thus to permit your fellow-men to have an interest in your enterprise.  The owner of the axe, as he released his hold on it, said that it was the apple of his eye; but I returned it sharper than I received it.  It was a pleasant hillside where I worked, covered with pine woods,through which I looked out on the pond, and a small open field in the woods where pines and hickories were springing up.  The ice in the pond was not yet dissolved, though there were some open spaces,and it was all dark-colored and saturated with water.  There were some slight flurries of snow during the days that I worked there;but for the most part when I came out on to the railroad, on my way home, its yellow sand heap stretched away gleaming in the hazy atmosphere, and the rails shone in the spring sun, and I heard the lark and pewee and other birds already come to commence another year with us.  They were pleasant spring days, in which the winter of man's discontent was thawing as well as the earth, and the life that had lain torpid began to stretch itself.  One day, when my axe had come off and I had cut a green hickory for a wedge, driving it with a stone, and had placed the whole to soak in a pond-hole in order to swell the wood, I saw a striped snake run into the water, and he lay on the bottom, apparently without inconvenience, as long as I stayed there, or more than a quarter of an hour; perhaps because he had not yet fairly come out of the torpid state.  It appeared to me that for a like reason men remain in their present low and primitive condition; but if they should feel the influence of the spring of springs arousing them, they would of necessity rise to a higher and more ethereal life.  I had previously seen the snakes in frosty mornings in my path with portions of their bodies still numb and inflexible, waiting for the sun to thaw them.  On the 1st of April it rained and melted the ice, and in the early part of the day,which was very foggy, I heard a stray goose groping about over the pond and cackling as if lost, or like the spirit of the fog.

  我们的祖先采取这个做法,可以看出,他们至少是非常小心的,他们的原则似乎以满足最紧迫的急需为第一。而现在,我们最紧迫的急需满足了没有呢?想到要给我自己置备一幢奢华的广厦,我就垂头丧气了,因为看来这一片土地上还没有相应的人类文化,我们至今还不得不减少我们精神的口粮,减得比我们的祖先节省面粉还要多。这倒不是说一切建筑的装饰甚至可以在最初的阶段里完全忽略掉;而是说可以把我们房屋里和我们生活有联系的部分搞得美一点,就像贝壳的内壁那样,但千万不能搞得过分的美。可是,唉!我曾经走进过一两座房屋,从而知道它们的内部是如何布置的呵!

  当然我们没有退化到今天住窑洞,住尖屋,或穿兽皮的程度,自然罗,那付出了高价换来的便利人类的发明与工业的贡献也还是应该接受的。在我们这一带,木板、屋面板、石灰、砖头总比可以住人的洞窟,原根的圆木,大量的树皮,或粘土或平坦的石片更容易得到,也更便宜。我说得相当内行吧,因为我在理论和实际上都熟悉这一些事。

  只要再聪明一点儿,我们就可以用这些材料,使我们比今天最富有的人还更加富有,使我们的文明成为一种祝福。文明人不过是更有经验、更为聪明一些的野蛮人,可是,让我赶紧来叙述我自己的实验吧。

  一八四五年三月尾,我借来一柄斧头,走到瓦尔登湖边的森林里,到达我预备造房子的地点附近,就开始砍伐一些箭矢似的高耸入云的还年幼的白松来做我的木材。开始时要不东借西借,总是很难的,但这也许还是唯一的妙法,让你的朋友们对你的事业发生兴趣。斧头的主人,在他出手借给我的时候,说它是他掌中的珍珠;可是我归还他时,斧头是愈加锋利了。我工作的地点是一个怡悦的山侧,满山松树,穿过松林我望见了湖水,还望见林中一块小小空地,小松树和山核桃树丛生着。湖水凝结成冰,没有完全融化,只化了几处地方,全是黝黑的颜色,而且渗透着水。我在那里工作的几天之内,还飘过几阵小雪:但当我回家去的途中,出来走到铁道上的时候,在大部分的地方,它那黄沙地一直延伸过去,闪烁在蒙蒙的大气中,而铁轨也在春天的阳光下发光了,我听到云雀、小鹅和别的鸟雀都到了,来和我们一块儿开始过这新的一年。那是愉快的春日,人们感到不满的冬日正跟冻上一样地消溶,而蛰伏的生命开始舒伸了。有一天,我的斧头柄掉了,我伐下一段青青的山核桃木来做成一个楔子,用一块石头敲紧了它,就把整个斧头浸在湖水中,好让那木楔子涨大一些,这时我看到一条赤练蛇窜入水中,显然毫不觉得不方便,它躺在湖水底,何止一刻钟,竟跟我在那儿的时间一样长久;也许它还没有从蛰伏的状态中完全苏醒过来。照我看,人类之还残留在目前的原始的低级状态中,也是同样的原因;可是人类如果感到万春之春的影响把他们唤醒了起来,他们必然要上升到更高级、更升华的生命中去。以前,我在降霜的清晨看到过路上一些蛇,它们的身子还有一部分麻木不灵活,还在等待太阳出来唤醒它们。四月一日下了雨,冰溶了,这天的大半个早晨是雾蒙蒙的,我听到一只失群的孤鹅摸索在湖上,迷途似的哀鸣着,像是雾的精灵一样。

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