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瓦尔登湖:经济篇28

2006-07-28 23:39

  Thus I could avoid all trade and barter, so far as my food was concerned, and having a shelter already, it would only remain to get clothing and fuel.  The pantaloons which I now wear were woven in a farmer's family —— thank Heaven there is so much virtue still in man; for I think the fall from the farmer to the operative as great and memorable as that from the man to the farmer; —— and in a new country, fuel is an encumbrance.  As for a habitat, if I were not permitted still to squat, I might purchase one acre at the same price for which the land I cultivated was sold —— namely, eight dollars and eight cents.  But as it was, I considered that I enhanced the value of the land by squatting on it.

  There is a certain class of unbelievers who sometimes ask me such questions as, if I think that I can live on vegetable food alone; and to strike at the root of the matter at once —— for the root is faith —— I am accustomed to answer such, that I can live on board nails.  If they cannot understand that, they cannot understand much that I have to say.  For my part, I am glad to bear of experiments of this kind being tried; as that a young man tried for a fortnight to live on hard, raw corn on the ear, using his teeth for all mortar.  The squirrel tribe tried the same and succeeded. The human race is interested in these experiments, though a few old women who are incapacitated for them, or who own their thirds in mills, may be alarmed.

  My furniture, part of which I made myself —— and the rest cost me nothing of which I have not rendered an account —— consisted of a bed, a table, a desk, three chairs, a looking-glass three inches in diameter, a pair of tongs and andirons, a kettle, a skillet, and a frying-pan, a dipper, a wash-bowl, two knives and forks, three plates, one cup, one spoon, a jug for oil, a jug for molasses, and a japanned lamp.  None is so poor that he need sit on a pumpkin.  That is shiftlessness.  There is a plenty of such chairs as I like best in the village garrets to be had for taking them away.  Furniture!

  Thank God, I can sit and I can stand without the aid of a furniture warehouse.  What man but a philosopher would not be ashamed to see his furniture packed in a cart and going up country exposed to the light of heaven and the eyes of men, a beggarly account of empty boxes?  That is Spaulding's furniture.  I could never tell from inspecting such a load whether it belonged to a so-called rich man or a poor one; the owner always seemed poverty-stricken.  Indeed,the more you have of such things the poorer you are.  Each load looks as if it contained the contents of a dozen shanties; and if one shanty is poor, this is a dozen times as poor.  Pray, for what do we move ever but to get rid of our furniture, our exuvioe: at last to go from this world to another newly furnished, and leave this to be burned?  It is the same as if all these traps were buckled to a man's belt, and he could not move over the rough country where our lines are cast without dragging them —— dragging his trap.  He was a lucky fox that left his tail in the trap.  The muskrat will gnaw his third leg off to be free.  No wonder man has lost his elasticity.  How often he is at a dead set!  "Sir, if I may be so bold, what do you mean by a dead set?"  If you are a seer,whenever you meet a man you will see all that he owns, ay, and much that he pretends to disown, behind him, even to his kitchen furniture and all the trumpery which he saves and will not burn, and he will appear to be harnessed to it and making what headway he can. I think that the man is at a dead set who has got through a knot-hole or gateway where his sledge load of furniture cannot follow him.  I cannot but feel compassion when I hear some trig,compact-looking man, seemingly free, all girded and ready, speak of his "furniture," as whether it is insured or not.  "But what shall I do with my furniture?" —— My gay butterfly is entangled in a spider's web then.  Even those who seem for a long while not to have any, if you inquire more narrowly you will find have some stored in somebody's barn.  I look upon England today as an old gentleman who is travelling with a great deal of baggage, trumpery which has accumulated from long housekeeping, which he has not the courage to burn; great trunk, little trunk, bandbox, and bundle.  Throw away the first three at least.  It would surpass the powers of a well man nowadays to take up his bed and walk, and I should certainly advise a sick one to lay down his bed and run.  When I have met an immigrant tottering under a bundle which contained his all ——looking like an enormous wen which had grown out of the nape of his neck —— I have pitied him, not because that was his all, but because he had all that to carry.  If I have got to drag my trap, I will take care that it be a light one and do not nip me in a vital part. But perchance it would be wisest never to put one's paw into it.

  这样,我避免了一切的经营与物物交换,至少在食物这一点上是如此,而且房子已经有了,剩下来只是衣服和燃料的问题。我现在所穿的一条裤子是在一个农民的家里织成的——谢谢天,人还有这么多的美德哩;我认为一个农民降为技工,其伟大和值得纪念,正如一个人降为农民一样;——而新到一个乡村去,燃料可是一个大拖累。至于栖息之地呢,如果不让我再居住在这个无人居住的地方,我可以用我耕耘过的土地价格,——就是说,八元八角,来买下一英亩地了。可是,事实是我认为我居住在这里已经使地价大大增加了。

  有一部分不肯信服的人有时问我这样的问题,例如我是否认为只吃蔬菜就可以生活;为了立刻说出事物的本质,——因为本质就是信心——我往往这样口答,说我吃木板上的钉子都可以生活下去的。如果他们连这也不了解,那不管我怎么说,他们都不会了解的。在我这方面,我很愿意听说有人在做这样的实验;好像有一个青年曾尝试过半个月,只靠坚硬的连皮带壳的玉米来生活,而且只用他的牙齿来做石臼。松鼠曾试过,很成功。

  人类对这样的试验是有兴趣的,虽然有少数几个老妇人,被剥夺了这种权利,或者在面粉厂里拥有亡夫的三分之一遗产的,她们也许要吓一跳了。

  我的家具,一部分是我自己做的——其余的没花多少钱,但我没有记账——包括一张床,一只桌子,三只凳子,一面直径三英寸的镜子,一把火钳和柴架,一只壶,一只长柄平底锅,一个煎锅,一只勺子,一只洗脸盆,两副刀叉,三只盘,一只杯子,一把调羹、一只油罐,和一只糖浆缸,还有一只上了日本油漆的灯。没有人会穷得只能坐在南瓜上的。那是偷懒的办法。在村中的阁搂上,有好些是我最喜欢的椅子;只要去拿,就属于你了。家具!谢谢天。我可以坐,我可以站,用不到家具公司来帮忙。如果一个人看到自己的家具装在车上,曝露在光天化日之下,睽睽众目之前,而且只是一些极不入眼的空箱子,除了哲学家之外,谁会不害羞呢?这是斯波尔亭的家具。看了这些家具,我还无法知道是属于一个所谓阔人的呢,还是属于穷人的;它的主人的模样似乎总是穷相十足的。真的,这东西越多,你越穷。每一车,都好像是十几座棚屋里的东西;一座棚屋如果是很穷的,这就是十二倍地穷困。你说,为什么我们时常搬家,而不是丢掉一些家具,丢掉我们的蛇蜕;离开这个世界,到一个有新家具的世界去,把老家具烧掉呢?

  这正如一个人把所有陷饼的机关都缚在他的皮带上,他搬家经过我们放着绳子的荒野时,不能不拖动那些绳子,——拖到他自己的陷饼里去了。把断尾巴留在陷阶中的狐狸是十分幸运的。麝鼠为了逃命,宁肯咬断它的第三条腿子。难怪人已失去了灵活性。多少回他走上了一条绝路!“先生,请您恕我唐突,你所谓的绝路是什么意思呢?”如果你是一个善于观察的人,任何时候你遇见一个人,你都能知道他有一些什么东西,嗳,还有他好些装作没有的东西,你甚至能知道他的厨房中的家什以及一切外观华美丽毫不实用的东西,这些东西他却都要留着,不愿意烧掉,他就好像是被挽驾在上面,尽是拖着它们往前走。一个人钻过了一个绳结的口,或过了一道门,而他背面的一车子家具却过不去,这时,我说,这个人是走上一条绝路了。当我听到一个衣冠楚楚、外表结实的人,似乎很自由,似乎他一切都安排得很得当,却说到了他的“家具”,不管是不是保了险,我不能不怜悯他。“我的家具怎么办呢?”我的欢乐的蝴蝶,这就扑进了一只蜘蛛网了。

  甚至有这样的人,多年来好像并没有家具牵累他似的,但是,如果你仔细地盘问他一下,你就发现在什么人家的棚子底下,也储藏着他的几件家具呢。我看今天的英国,就好像一个老年绅士,带着他的许多行李在旅行着,全是住家住久了以后,积起来的许多华而不实的东西,而他是没有勇气来把它们烧掉的:大箱子,小箱子,手提箱,还有包裹。

  至少把前面的三种抛掉了吧。现在,就是一个身体康健的人也不会提了他的床铺上路的。

  我自然要劝告一些害病的人,抛弃他们的床铺,奔跑奔跑。当我碰到一个移民,带着他的全部家产的大包裹,蹒跚前行,——那包裹好像他脖于后头长出来的一个大瘤——我真可怜他,并不因为他只有那么一丁点儿,倒是因为他得带着这一切跑路。如果我必须带着我的陷阱跑路,至少我可以带一个比较轻便的陷阱。机括一发,也不会咬住我最机要的部分。可是,最聪明的办法还是千万不要把自己的手掌放进陷阱。

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