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瓦尔登湖:经济篇3

2006-07-28 12:39

  Some of you, we all know, are poor, find it hard to live,are sometimes, as it were, gasping for breath. I have no doubt that some of you who read this book are unable to pay for all the dinners which you have actually eaten, or for the coats and shoes which are fast wearing or are already worn out, and have come to this page to spend borrowed or stolen time, robbing your creditors of an hour. It is very evident what mean and sneaking lives many of you live, for my sight has been whetted by experience; always on the limits, trying to get into business and trying to get out of debt, a very ancient slough, called by the Latins aes alienum, another's brass, for some of their coins were made of brass; still living, and dying, and buried by this other's brass; always promising to pay, promising to pay, to-morrow, and dying to-day, insolvent; seeking to curry favor, to get custom, by how many modes, only not state-prison offences; lying, flattering, voting, contracting yourselves into a nutshell of civility, or dilating into an atmosphere of thin and vaporous generosity, that you may persuade your neighbor to let you make his shoes, or his hat, or his coat, or his carriage, or import his groceries for him; making yourselves sick, that you may lay up something against a sick day, something to be tucked away in an old chest, or in a stocking behind the plastering, or, more safely, in the brick bank; no matter where, no matter how much or how little.

  I sometimes wonder that we can be so frivolous, I may almost say, as to attend to the gross but somewhat foreign form of servitude called Negro Slavery, there are so many keen and subtle masters that enslave both north and south. It is hard to have a southern overseer; it is worse to have a northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself. Talk of a divinity in man! Look at the teamster on the highway, wending to market by day or night; does any divinity stir within him? His highest duty to fodder and water his horses! What is his destiny to him compared with the shipping interests? Does not he drive for Squire Make-a-stir? How godlike, how immortal, is he? See how he cowers and sneaks, how vaguely all the day he fears, not being immortal nor divine, but the slave and prisoner of his own opinion of himself, a fame won by his own deeds. Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate. Self-emancipation even in the West Indian provinces of the fancy and imagination, —— what Wilberforce is there to bring that about? Think, also, of the ladies of the land weaving toilet cushions against the last day, not to betray too green an interest in their fates! As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

  The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things

  读者之中,这些个情况我们都知道,有人是穷困的,觉得生活不容易,有时候,甚而至于可以说连气也喘不过来。我毫不怀疑在本书的读者之中,有人不能为那吃下了肚的全部饭食和迅速磨损或已经破损的衣着付出钱来,好容易忙里偷了闲,才能读这几页文字,那还是从债主那里偷来的时间。你们这许多人过的是何等低卑、躲来躲去的生活啊,这很明显,因为我的眼力已经在阅历的磨刀石上磨利了;你们时常进退维谷,要想做成一笔生意来偿清债务,你们深陷在一个十分古老的泥沼中,拉丁文的所谓aes alie num——别人的铜币中,可不是有些钱币用铜来铸的吗;就在别人的铜钱中,你们生了,死了,最后葬掉了;你们答应了明天偿清,又一个明天偿清,直到死在今天,而债务还未了结;你们求恩,乞怜,请求照顾,用了多少方法总算没有坐牢;你们撒谎,拍马,投票,把自己缩进了一个规规矩矩的硬壳里,或者吹嘘自己,摆出一副稀薄如云雾的慷慨和大度的模样,这才使你们的邻人信任你,允许你们给他们做鞋子,制帽子,或上衣,或车辆,或让你们给他们代买食品;你们在一只破箱笼里,或者在灰泥后面的一只袜子里,塞进了一把钱币,或者塞在银行的砖屋里,那里是更安全了;不管塞在哪里,塞多少,更不管那数目是如何地微少,为了谨防患病而筹钱,反而把你们自己弄得病倒了。

  有时我奇怪,何以我们如此轻率,我几乎要说,竟然实行了罪恶昭彰的、从外国带进黑奴来的奴役制度。有那么多苛虐而熟练的奴隶主,奴役了南方和北方的奴隶。一个南方的监守人是毒辣的,而一个北方的监守人更加坏,可是你们自己做起奴隶的监守人来是最最坏的。谈什么——人的神圣!看大路上的赶马人,日夜向市场赶路,在他们的内心里,有什么神圣的思想在激荡着呢?他们的最高职责是给驴马饲草饮水!和运输的赢利相比较,他们的命运算什么?他们还不是在给一位繁忙的绅士赶驴马?他们有什么神圣,有什么不朽呢?请看他们匍伏潜行,一整天里战战兢兢,毫不是神圣的,也不是不朽的,他们看到自己的行业,知道自己是属于奴隶或囚徒这种名称的人。和我们的自知之明相比较,公众舆论这暴戾的君主也显得微弱无力。正是一个人怎么看待自己,决定了此人的命运,指向了他的归宿。要在西印度的州省中谈论心灵与想象的自我解放,可没有一个威勃尔福司来促进呢。再请想一想,这个大陆上的妇人们,编织着梳妆用的软垫,以便临死之日用,对她们自己的命运丝毫也不关心!仿佛磋跎时日还无损于永恒呢。

  人类在过着静静的绝望的生活。所谓听天由命,正是肯定的绝望。你从绝望的城市走到绝望的村庄,以水貂和麝鼠的勇敢来安慰自己。在人类的所谓游戏与消遣底下,甚至都隐藏着一种凝固的、不知又不觉的绝望。两者中都没有娱乐可言,因为工作之后才能娱乐。可是不做绝望的事,才是智慧的一种表征。

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