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瓦尔登湖:经济篇33

2006-07-28 23:52

  Philanthropy is almost the only virtue which is sufficiently appreciated by mankind.  Nay, it is greatly overrated; and it is our selfishness which overrates it.  A robust poor man, one sunny day here in Concord, praised a fellow-townsman to me, because, as he said, he was kind to the poor; meaning himself.  The kind uncles and aunts of the race are more esteemed than its true spiritual fathers and mothers.  I once heard a reverend lecturer on England, a man of learning and intelligence, after enumerating her scientific,literary, and political worthies, Shakespeare, Bacon, Cromwell,Milton, Newton, and others, speak next of her Christian heroes,whom, as if his profession required it of him, he elevated to a place far above all the rest, as the greatest of the great.  They were Penn, Howard, and Mrs. Fry.  Every one must feel the falsehood and cant of this.  The last were not England's best men and women;only, perhaps, her best philanthropists.

  I would not subtract anything from the praise that is due to philanthropy, but merely demand justice for all who by their lives and works are a blessing to mankind.  I do not value chiefly a man's uprightness and benevolence, which are, as it were, his stem and leaves.  Those plants of whose greenness withered we make herb tea for the sick serve but a humble use, and are most employed by quacks.  I want the flower and fruit of a man; that some fragrance be wafted over from him to me, and some ripeness flavor our intercourse.  His goodness must not be a partial and transitory act,but a constant superfluity, which costs him nothing and of which he is unconscious.  This is a charity that hides a multitude of sins. The philanthropist too often surrounds mankind with the remembrance of his own castoff griefs as an atmosphere, and calls it sympathy. We should impart our courage, and not our despair, our health and ease, and not our disease, and take care that this does not spread by contagion.  From what southern plains comes up the voice of wailing?  Under what latitudes reside the heathen to whom we would send light?  Who is that intemperate and brutal man whom we would redeem?  If anything ail a man, so that he does not perform his functions, if he have a pain in his bowels even —— for that is the seat of sympathy —— he forthwith sets about reforming —— the world. Being a microcosm himself, he discovers —— and it is a true discovery, and he is the man to make it —— that the world has been eating green apples; to his eyes, in fact, the globe itself is a great green apple, which there is danger awful to think of that the children of men will nibble before it is ripe; and straightway his drastic philanthropy seeks out the Esquimau and the Patagonian, and embraces the populous Indian and Chinese villages; and thus, by a few years of philanthropic activity, the powers in the meanwhile using him for their own ends, no doubt, he cures himself of his dyspepsia, the globe acquires a faint blush on one or both of its cheeks, as if it were beginning to be ripe, and life loses its crudity and is once more sweet and wholesome to live.  I never dreamed of any enormity greater than I have committed.  I never knew, and never shall know, a worse man than myself.

  I believe that what so saddens the reformer is not his sympathy with his fellows in distress, but, though he be the holiest son of God, is his private ail.  Let this be righted, let the spring come to him, the morning rise over his couch, and he will forsake his generous companions without apology.  My excuse for not lecturing against the use of tobacco is, that I never chewed it, that is a penalty which reformed tobacco-chewers have to pay; though there are things enough I have chewed which I could lecture against.  If you should ever be betrayed into any of these philanthropies, do not let your left hand know what your right hand does, for it is not worth knowing.  Rescue the drowning and tie your shoestrings.  Take your time, and set about some free labor.

  Our manners have been corrupted by communication with the saints.  Our hymn-books resound with a melodious cursing of God and enduring Him forever.  One would say that even the prophets and redeemers had rather consoled the fears than confirmed the hopes of man.  There is nowhere recorded a simple and irrepressible satisfaction with the gift of life, any memorable praise of God. All health and success does me good, however far off and withdrawn it may appear; all disease and failure helps to make me sad and does me evil, however much sympathy it may have with me or I with it. If, then, we would indeed restore mankind by truly Indian, botanic,magnetic, or natural means, let us first be as simple and well as Nature ourselves, dispel the clouds which hang over our own brows,and take up a little life into our pores.  Do not stay to be an overseer of the poor, but endeavor to become one of the worthies of the world.

  慈善几乎可以说是人类能够赞许的唯一美德。不然,它是被捧上了天的;是因为我们自私,所以把它捧上了天的。一个粗壮的穷人,在日暖风和的一天,在康科德这里,对我赞扬一个市民,因为,他说,那人对像他这样的穷人很善良。人种中的善良的伯父伯母,反而比真正的灵魂上的父母更受颂扬。有一次我听一个宗教演讲家讲英国,他是一个有学问有才智的人,数说着英国的科学家,文艺家和政治家,莎士比亚,倍根,克伦威尔,密尔顿,牛顿和别个,跟着就说起英国的基督教英雄来了,好像他的职业一定要求他这样说似的,他把这些英雄提高到所有其他人物之上,称之为伟大人物中的尤伟大者。他们便是潘恩,霍华德,福莱夫人。人人都一定会觉得他在胡说八道。最后三人并不是最好的英国人,也许他们只能算作英国最好的慈善家。

  我并不要从慈善应得的赞美中减去什么,我只要求公平,对一切有利于人类的生命与工作应一视同仁。我不以为一个人的正直和慈善是主要的价值,它们不过是他的枝枝叶叶。那种枝叶,褪去了叶绿素,做成了药茶给病人喝,就是它有了一些卑微的用处,多数是走四方的郎中用它们。我要的是人中的花朵和果实;让他的芬芳传送给我,让他的成熟的馨香在我们交接中熏陶我。他的良善不能是局部的、短暂的行为,而是常持的富足有余,他的施与于他无损,于他自己,也无所知。这是一种将万恶隐藏起来的慈善。

  慈善家经常记着他要用自己散发出来的那种颓唐悲戚的气氛,来绕住人类,美其名曰同情心。我们应该传播给人类的是我们的勇气而不是我们的失望,是我们的健康与舒泰,而不是我们的病容,可得小心别传染了疾病。从哪一个南方的平原上,升起了一片哀号声?在什么纬度上,住着我们应该去播送光明的异教徒?谁是那我们应该去挽救的纵欲无度的残暴的人?如果有人得病了,以致不能做他的事,如果他肠痛了,——这很值得同情——-他慈善家就要致力于改良——这个世界了。他是大千世界里的一个缩影,他发现,这是一个真正的发现,而且是他发现的,——世界在吃着青苹果;在他的眼中,地球本身便是一只庞大的青苹果,想起来这却很可怕,人类的孩子如果在苹果还没有成熟的时候就去噬食它,那是很危险的;可是他那狂暴的慈善事业使他径直去找了爱斯基摩人、巴塔哥尼亚人,还拥抱了人口众多的印度和中国的村落;就这样由于他几年的慈善活动,有权有势者还利用了他来达到他们的目的,无疑他治好了自己的消化不良症,地球的一颊或双颊也染上了红晕,好像它开始成熟起来了,而生命也失去了它的粗野,再一次变得又新鲜又健康,更值得生活了。我从没有梦见过比我自己所犯的更大的罪过。

  我从来没有见过,将来也不会见到一个比我自己更坏的人了。

  我相信,使一个改良家这么悲伤的,倒不是他对苦难同胞的同情,而是,他虽然是上帝的最神圣的子孙,他却心有内疚。让这一点被纠正过来,让春天向他跑来,让黎明在他的卧榻上升起,他就会一句抱歉话不说,抛弃他那些慷慨的同伴了。我不反对抽烟的原因是我自己从来不抽烟;抽烟的人自己会偿罪的;虽然有许多我自己尝过的事物,我也能够反对它们。如果你曾经上当做过慈善家,别让你的左手知道你的右手做了什么事,因为这本不值得知道的。救起淹在水里的人,系上你的鞋带。你还是去舒舒服服地从事一些自由的劳动吧。

  我们的风度,因为和圣者交游,所以被败坏了。我们的赞美诗中响起了诅咒上帝的旋律,永远是在忍受他。可以说,便是先知和救主,也只能安慰人的恐惧而不能肯定人的希望。哪儿也没有对人生表示简单热烈的满意的记载,哪儿也找不到任何赞美上帝的使人难忘的记载。,一切健康、成就,使我高兴,尽管它遥远而不可及;一切疾病、失败使我悲伤,引起恶果,尽管它如何同情我,或我如何同情它。所以,如果我们要真的用印第安式的、植物的、磁力的或自然的方式来恢复人类,首先让我们简单而安宁,如同大自然一样,逐去我们眉头上垂挂的乌云,在我们的精髓中注入一点儿小小的生命。

  不做穷苦人的先知,努力做值得生活在世界上的一个人。

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