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瓦尔登湖:经济篇31

2006-07-28 23:45

  In short, I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one's self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime,if we will live simply and wisely; as the pursuits of the simpler nations are still the sports of the more artificial.  It is not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his brow, unless he sweats easier than I do.

  One young man of my acquaintance, who has inherited some acres,told me that he thought he should live as I did, if he had the means.  I would not have any one adopt my mode of living on any account; for, beside that before he has fairly learned it I may have found out another for myself, I desire that there may be as many different persons in the world as possible; but I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way, and not his father's or his mother's or his neighbor's instead.  The youth may build or plant or sail, only let him not be hindered from doing that which he tells me he would like to do.  It is by a mathematical point only that we are wise, as the sailor or the fugitive slave keeps the polestar in his eye; but that is sufficient guidance for all our life.  We may not arrive at our port within a calculable period, but we would preserve the true course.

  Undoubtedly, in this case, what is true for one is truer still for a thousand, as a large house is not proportionally more expensive than a small one, since one roof may cover, one cellar underlie, and one wall separate several apartments.  But for my part, I preferred the solitary dwelling.  Moreover, it will commonly be cheaper to build the whole yourself than to convince another of the advantage of the common wall; and when you have done this, the common partition, to be much cheaper, must be a thin one, and that other may prove a bad neighbor, and also not keep his side in repair.  The only co-operation which is commonly possible is exceedingly partial and superficial; and what little true co-operation there is, is as if it were not, being a harmony inaudible to men.  If a man has faith, he will co-operate with equal faith everywhere; if he has not faith, he will continue to live like the rest of the world, whatever company he is joined to.  To co-operate in the highest as well as the lowest sense, means to get our living together.  I heard it proposed lately that two young men should travel together over the world, the one without money,earning his means as he went, before the mast and behind the plow,the other carrying a bill of exchange in his pocket.  It was easy to see that they could not long be companions or co-operate, since one would not operate at all.  They would part at the first interesting crisis in their adventures.  Above all, as I have implied, the man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off.

  But all this is very selfish, I have heard some of my townsmen say.  I confess that I have hitherto indulged very little in philanthropic enterprises.  I have made some sacrifices to a sense of duty, and among others have sacrificed this pleasure also.  There are those who have used all their arts to persuade me to undertake the support of some poor family in the town; and if I had nothing to do —— for the devil finds employment for the idle —— I might try my hand at some such pastime as that.  However, when I have thought to indulge myself in this respect, and lay their Heaven under an obligation by maintaining certain poor persons in all respects as comfortably as I maintain myself, and have even ventured so far as to make them the offer, they have one and all unhesitatingly preferred to remain poor.  While my townsmen and women are devoted in so many ways to the good of their fellows, I trust that one at least may be spared to other and less humane pursuits.  You must have a genius for charity as well as for anything else.  As for Doing-good, that is one of the professions which are full. Moreover, I have tried it fairly, and, strange as it may seem, am satisfied that it does not agree with my constitution.  Probably I should not consciously and deliberately forsake my particular calling to do the good which society demands of me, to save the universe from annihilation; and I believe that a like but infinitely greater steadfastness elsewhere is all that now preserves it.  But I would not stand between any man and his genius; and to him who does this work, which I decline, with his whole heart and soul and life,I would say, Persevere, even if the world call it doing evil, as it is most likely they will.

  简单一句活,我已经确信,根据信仰和经验,一个人要在世间谋生,如果生活得比较单纯而且聪明,那并不是苦事,而且还是一种消遣;那些比较单纯的国家,人们从事的工作不过是一些更其人工化的国家的体育运动。流汗劳动来养活自己,并不是必要的,除非他比我还要容易流汗。

  我认识一个继承了几英亩地的年轻人,他告诉我他愿意像我一样生活,如果他有办法的话。我却不愿意任何人由于任何原因,而采用我的生活方式;因为,也许他还没有学会我的这一种,说不定我已经找到了另一种方式,我希望世界上的人,越不相同越好;但是我愿意每一个人都能谨慎地找出并坚持他自己的合适方式,而不要采用他父亲的,或母亲的,或邻居的方式。年轻人可以建筑,也可以耕种,也可以航海,只要不阻挠他去做他告诉我他愿意做的事,就好了。人是聪明的,因为他能计算;水手和逃亡的奴隶都知道眼睛盯住北极星,这些观点是管保用上一辈子的了。我们也许不能够在一个预定的时日里到达目的港,但我们总可以走在一条真正的航线上。

  无疑的在这里,凡是对一个人是真实的,对于一千个人也是真实的,正像一幢大房子,按比例来说,并不比一座小房子来得更浪费钱财;一个屋顶可以盖住几个房间,一个地窖可以躺在几个房间的下面,一道道墙壁更可以分隔出许多房间来。我自己是喜欢独居的。再说,全部由你自己来筑造,比你拿合用一道公墙的好处去说服邻家要便宜得多;如果你为了便宜的缘故跟别家合用了墙,这道墙一定很薄,你隔壁住的也许不是一个好邻居,而且他也不修理他那一面的墙,一般能够做到的合作只是很小的部分,而且是表面上的;要有点儿真正的合作心意,表面上反而看不出来,却有着一种听不见的谐和。如果一个人是有信心的,他可以到处用同样的信心与人合作;如果他没有信心,他会像世界上其余的人一样,继续过他自己的生活,不管他跟什么人做伴。合作的最高意义与最低意义,乃是让我们一起生活。最近我听说有两个年轻人想一起作环球旅行,一个是没有钱的,一路上要在桅杆前,在犁锄后,挣钱维持生活,另一个袋里带着旅行支票。这是很明白的,他们不可能长久地做伴或合作,因为这一合作中有一人根本不作什么。在他们旅行中第一个有趣的危机发生之时,他们就要分手。最主要的是我已经说过的,一个单独旅行的人要今天出发就出发;而结伴的却得等同行的准备就绪,他们出发之前可能要费很长的时日。

  可是,这一切是很自私呵,我听到一些市民们这样说。我承认,直到现在,我很少从事慈善事业。我有一种责任感,使我牺牲了许多快乐,其中,慈善这一喜悦我也把它扔了。有人竭力穷智,要劝导我去援助市里的一些穷苦人家:如果我没有事做了,——而魔鬼是专找没有事的人的,——也许我要动手试做这一类的事,消遣消遣。然而,每当我想在这方面试一下,维持一些穷人的生活,使他们各方面都能跟我一样地舒服,把他们过天堂的生活作为一个义务,甚至已经提出了我的帮助,可是这些穷人却全体一致毫不踌躇地都愿意继续贫穷下去。我们市里的一些男女,正在多方设法,为他们的同胞谋取好处,我相信这至少可以使人不去做别的没有人性的事业。但慈善像其他的任何事业一样,必须有天赋的才能。“做好事”是一个人浮于事的职业。况且,我也尝试过。

  奇怪得很,这不合我的胃口,因此我对自己是满意的。也许我不应该有意谨慎小心地逃避社会要求于我的这种使宇宙不至于毁灭的“做好事”的特殊的职责,我却相信,在一个不知什么地方,确有着一种类乎慈善的事业,然而比起来不知坚定了多少的力量,在保持我们现在的这个宇宙呢。可是我不会阻拦一个人去发挥他的天才的;对于这种工作,我自己是不做的,而对于做着的人,他既全心全意地终身做着,我将说,即使全世界说这是“做恶事”,很可能有这种看法,你们还是要坚持下去。

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