外语教育网
您的位置:外语教育网 > 英语文化视窗 > 文学与艺术 > 散文 正文
  • 站内搜索:

瓦尔登湖:经济篇16

2006-07-28 19:03

  Granted that the majority are able at last either to own or hire the modern house with all its improvements.  While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them.  It has created palaces, but it was not so easy to create noblemen and kings.  And if the civilized man's pursuits are no worthier than the savage's, if he is employed the greater part of his life in obtaining gross necessaries and comforts merely,why should he have a better dwelling than the former?

  But how do the poor minority fare?  Perhaps it will be found that just in proportion as some have been placed in outward circumstances above the savage, others have been degraded below him. The luxury of one class is counterbalanced by the indigence of another.  On the one side is the palace, on the other are the almshouse and "silent poor."  The myriads who built the pyramids to be the tombs of the Pharaohs were fed on garlic, and it may be were not decently buried themselves.  The mason who finishes the cornice of the palace returns at night perchance to a hut not so good as a wigwam.  It is a mistake to suppose that, in a country where the usual evidences of civilization exist, the condition of a very large body of the inhabitants may not be as degraded as that of savages. I refer to the degraded poor, not now to the degraded rich.  To know this I should not need to look farther than to the shanties which everywhere border our railroads, that last improvement in civilization; where I see in my daily walks human beings living in sties, and all winter with an open door, for the sake of light,without any visible, often imaginable, wood-pile, and the forms of both old and young are permanently contracted by the long habit of shrinking from cold and misery, and the development of all their limbs and faculties is checked.  It certainly is fair to look at that class by whose labor the works which distinguish this generation are accomplished.  Such too, to a greater or less extent,is the condition of the operatives of every denomination in England,which is the great workhouse of the world.  Or I could refer you to Ireland, which is marked as one of the white or enlightened spots on the map.  Contrast the physical condition of the Irish with that of the North American Indian, or the South Sea Islander, or any other savage race before it was degraded by contact with the civilized man.  Yet I have no doubt that that people's rulers are as wise as the average of civilized rulers.  Their condition only proves what squalidness may consist with civilization.  I hardly need refer now to the laborers in our Southern States who produce the staple exports of this country, and are themselves a staple production of the South.  But to confine myself to those who are said to be in moderate circumstances.

  Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have.  As if one were to wear any sort of coat which the tailor might cut out for him, or, gradually leaving off palm-leaf hat or cap of woodchuck skin, complain of hard times because he could not afford to buy him a crown!  It is possible to invent a house still more convenient and luxurious than we have, which yet all would admit that man could not afford to pay for.  Shall we always study to obtain more of these things, and not sometimes to be content with less?  Shall the respectable citizen thus gravely teach, by precept and example, the necessity of the young man's providing a certain number of superfluous glow-shoes, and umbrellas, and empty guest chambers for empty guests, before he dies?  Why should not our furniture be as simple as the Arab's or the Indian's?  When I think of the benefactors of the race, whom we have apotheosized as messengers from heaven, bearers of divine gifts to man, I do not see in my mind any retinue at their heels, any carload of fashionable furniture. Or what if I were to allow —— would it not be a singular allowance?

  —— that our furniture should be more complex than the Arab's, in proportion as we are morally and intellectually his superiors!  At present our houses are cluttered and defiled with it, and a good housewife would sweep out the greater part into the dust hole, and not leave her morning's work undone.  Morning work!  By the blushes of Aurora and the music of Memnon, what should be man's morning work in this world?  I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust.  How, then, could I have a furnished house?

  I would rather sit in the open air, for no dust gathers on the grass, unless where man has broken ground.

  就算大多数人最后是能够占有或者租赁那些有了种种改善的近代房屋的吧。但当文明改善了房屋的时候,它却没有同时改善了居住在房屋中的人。文明造出了皇宫,可是要造出贵族和国王却没那么容易。如果文明人所追求的并不比野蛮人追求的来得更加高贵些,如果他们把大部分的时间都只是用来获得粗鄙的必需品和舒适的生活,那未他何必要有比野蛮人更好的住房呢?

  可是,那贫穷的少数人如何呢?也许可以看到一点,正如一些人的外表境遇高出于野蛮人,另一些的外表境遇就成正比例地低于他们。一个阶级的奢侈全靠另一个阶级的贫苦来维持。一面是皇宫,另一面是济贫院和“默默无言的贫穷人”。筑造那些法老王陵墓的金字塔的百万工人只好吃些大蒜头,他们将来要像像样样地埋葬都办不到。完成了皇宫上的飞檐,入晚回家的石工,大约是回到一个比尖屋还不如的草棚里。像下面这样的想法是错误的:在一个有一般文明的国家里,大多数居民的情形并没有降低得像野蛮人的那么恶劣。我说的还是一些生活得恶劣的贫穷人,还没有说到那些生活得恶劣的富人呢。要明白这一点,不必看得太远,只消看看铁路旁边,到处都有棚屋,这些是文明中最没有改进的了;我每天散步,看到那里的人住在肮脏的棚子里面,整个冬天,门总是开着的,为的是放进光线来,也看不到什么火堆,那只存在于他们的想象中,而老少的躯体,由于长久地怕冷受苦而蜷缩,便永久地变了形,他们的四肢和官能的发展也就停顿了。自然应当去看看这个阶级的人:所有这个世代里的卓越工程都是他们完成的。

  在英国这个世界大工场中,各项企业的技工们,或多或少也是这等情形。或许我可以把爱尔兰的情形给你提一提,那地方,在地图上,是作为一个白种人的开明地区的。把爱尔兰人的身体状况,跟北美洲的印第安人或南海的岛民,或任何没有跟文明人接触过因而没有堕落的野蛮人比一比吧。我丝毫都不怀疑,这些野蛮人的统治者,跟一般的文明人的统治者,是同样聪明的。他们的状况只能证明文明含有何等的污浊秽臭!现在,我根本不必提我们的南方诸州的劳动者了,这个国家的主要出品是他们生产的:而他们自己也成了南方诸州的一种主要产品。可是,不往远处扯开去,我只说说那些境遇还算中等的人吧。

  大多数人似乎从来没有想过,一座房屋算什么,虽然他们不该穷困,事实上却终身穷困了,因为他们总想有一座跟他们邻人的房屋一样的房屋。好像你只能穿上裁缝给你制成的任何衣服,你逐渐放弃了棕桐叶的帽子或上拨鼠皮的软帽,你只能对这时代生活的艰难感慨系之了,因为你买不起一顶皇冠!要发明一座比我们所已经有的,更便利、更华美的房屋是可能的,但大家承认,已有的房屋我们都还买不起。难道我们老要研究怎样得到越来越多的东西,而不能有时满足于少弄一点东西呢?难道要那些可尊敬的公民们,庄严地用他们的言教和身教,来教育年轻人早在老死以前就置备好若干双多余的皮鞋和若干把雨伞,以及空空的客房,来招待不存在的客人吗?我们的家具为什么不能像阿拉伯人或印第安人那样地简单呢?我们把民族的救星尊称为天上的信使,给人类带来神灵礼物的使者,当我想到他们的时候,我想来想去,想不出他们的足踵后面,会有仆役随从,会有什么满载着时式家具的车辆。如果我同意下面这种说法,那会怎么样呢——那不是一种奇怪的同意吗?——那说法就是我们在道德上和智慧上如果比阿拉伯人更为优越,那未我们的家具也应该比他们的更复杂!目前,我们的房屋正堆满了家具,都给家具弄脏了呢,一位好主妇宁愿把大部分家具扫入垃圾坑,也不愿让早上的工作放着不干。早上的工作呵!在微红色的曙光中,在曼依的音乐里,世界上的人该做什么样的早晨的工作呢?我桌上,有三块石灰石,非得天天拂拭它们不可,真叫我震惊,我头脑中的灰尘还来不及拂拭呢,赶快嫌恶地把它们扔出窗子去。你想,我怎么配有一个有家具的房屋呢?我宁可坐在露天,因为草叶之上,没有灰尘,除非是人类已经玷辱过了的地方。

相关热词:英语 文学 散文
栏目相关课程表
科目名称 主讲老师 课时 免费试听 优惠价 购买课程
英语零起点 郭俊霞 30课时 试听 150元/门 购买
综艺乐园 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
边玩边学 ------ 10课时 试听 60元/门 购买
情景喜剧 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
欢乐课堂 ------ 35课时 试听 150元/门 购买
趣味英语速成 钟 平 18课时 试听 179元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语预备级 (Pre-Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语一级 (Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语二级 (Movers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语三级 (Flyers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
初级英语口语 ------ 55课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
中级英语口语 ------ 83课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
高级英语口语 ------ 122课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
基础英语辅导课程
郭俊霞 北京语言大学毕业,国内某知名中学英语教研组长,教学标兵……详情>>
郭俊霞:零基础英语网上辅导名师
钟平 北大才俊,英语辅导专家,累计从事英语教学八年,机械化翻译公式发明人……详情>>
钟平:趣味英语速成网上辅导名师

  1、凡本网注明 “来源:外语教育网”的所有作品,版权均属外语教育网所有,未经本网授权不得转载、链接、转贴或以其他方式使用;已经本网授权的,应在授权范围内使用,且必须注明“来源:外语教育网”。违反上述声明者,本网将追究其法律责任。
  2、本网部分资料为网上搜集转载,均尽力标明作者和出处。对于本网刊载作品涉及版权等问题的,请作者与本网站联系,本网站核实确认后会尽快予以处理。本网转载之作品,并不意味着认同该作品的观点或真实性。如其他媒体、网站或个人转载使用,请与著作权人联系,并自负法律责任。
  3、联系方式
  编辑信箱:for68@chinaacc.com
  电话:010-82319999-2371