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英语美文阅读:习惯的力量

2013-02-22 16:07

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习惯的力量

Men's thoughts are much according to their inclination: their discourse and speeches according to their learning, and infused opinions; but their deeds are after as they have been accustomed. And therefore, as Machiavelli well noteth (though in an evil favoured instance) there is no trusting to the force of nature, nor to the bravery of words; except it be corroborate by custom. His instance is, that for the achieving of a desperate conspiracy, a man should not rest upon the fierceness of any man's nature, or his resolute undertakings; but take Such an one, as hath had his hands formerly in blood. But Machiavelli knew not of a Friar Clement, nor a Ravillac, nor a Jaureguy, nor a Baltazar Gerard: yet his rule holdeth still, that nature, nor the engagement of words, are not so forcible as custom. Only superstition is now so well advanced, that men of the first blood are as firm as butchers by occupation: and votary resolution is made equipollent to custom, even in matter of blood. In other things, the predominancy of custom is everywhere visible; in so much, as a man would wonder, to hear men profess, protest, engage, give great words, and then do just as they have done before: as if they were dead images, and engines moved only by the wheels of custom.

人们底思想多是依从着他们底愿望的,他们底谈论和言语多是依从着他们底学问和从外面得来的见解的;但是他们底行为却是随着他们平日的习惯的。所以马基亚委利说得很好(虽然他所论的事是很丑的),天性底力量和言语底动人,若无习惯底增援,都是不可靠的。他所论的事情是,为了完成一件极险恶的阴谋,一个人不可信任所用的某人之天性底凶猛或约言底坚决,而应当任用以前曾经亲自下过手,手上染过他人底血的人。但是马基亚委利不知道有一个乞僧克莱门,也不知道有一个哈委亚克,也不知道有一个约尔基,也不知道有一个巴尔塔萨尔·杰拉尔;然而他底定律依然是不移的,就是,天性与言语上的允诺要约都不如习惯有力。只有一件,就是现在迷信很盛,以致初次为迷信杀人的人简直是和业屠的人一样地不动心;盟誓底决意也被作成与习惯一样地强,甚至在流血的事件中亦是如此。在迷信以外的事情中习惯之凌驾一切是处处可见的;其势力之强,使得人们于自白、抗辩、允诺、夸张之后,依然一仍旧贯地作下去,好象他们是无生命的偶像,和由习惯底轮子来转动着的机械似的,这种情形真使人惊讶。

We see also the reign or tyranny of custom, what it is. The Indians (I mean the sect of their wise men) lay themselves quietly upon a stack of wood, and so sacrifice themselves by fire. Nay, the wives strive to be burned with the corpses of their husbands. The lads of Sparta, of ancient time, were wont to be scourged upon the altar of Diana, without so much as queening. I remember in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's time of England, an Irish rebel condemned, put up a petition to the deputy, that he might be hanged in a with, and not in an halter, because it had been so used, with former rebels.

我们也可以见到习惯底统治或专制,可以看出它是怎么回事。印度人(我说的是他们底哲人中的一派)会自己静静地躺在一堆柴上,然后用火自焚以为牺牲。不但如此,那些做妻子的还要争着与丈夫底尸身一同烧死呢。在古时,斯巴达底青年们常乐于在狄亚那底祭坛上受笞刑,连一动也不动。我还记得在女王伊利萨白初年的英国,有一个被判死刑的爱尔兰叛党曾上呈总督,请求缢死他的时候用薪条而不用绞索,因为以前的叛党都是照例用薪条的。

There ON be monks in Russia, for penance, that will sit a whole night in a vessel of water, till they be engaged with hard ice. Many examples may be put of the force of custom, both upon mind, and body. Therefore, since custom is the principal magistrate of man's life, let men by all means endeavour to obtain good customs.

在俄罗斯有些僧人为赎罪起见,会在水盆里坐上一夜,直到他们被坚冰冻住了才算。习惯在人底精神和肉体两方面的力量,例子可以举出很多来。所以,既然习惯是人生底主宰,人们就应当努力求得好的习惯。

Certainly, custom is most perfect, when it beginneth in young years: this we call education; which is, in effect, but an early custom. So we see, in languages the tongue is more pliant to all expressions and sounds, the joints are more supple to all fears of activity and motions, in youth than afterwards. For it is true, that late learners cannot so well take the ply; except it be in some minds, that have not suffered themselves to fix, but have kept themselves open and prepared to receive continual amendment, which is exceeding rare.

习惯如果是在幼年就起始的,那就是最完美的习惯,这是一定的,这个我们叫做教育。教育其实是一种从早年就起始的习惯。所以我们常见,在言语上,幼年时代比幼年以后舌头较为柔活,能学一切的语法及声音,并且四肢关节也比较柔活,适于各种的竞技和运动。因为年长方学的人不能象从小就学起的人能屈伸如意,这是真的;除非在有些从未固定自己底心志,反而把心志开放着,并准备好了接受不断的改良的人们,那算是例外,但这种情形是非常之少的。

But if the force of custom simple and separate, be great: the force of custom copulate, and conjoined and collegiate, is far greater. For there example teacheth; company comforteth; emulation quickeneth; glory raiseth: so as in such places the force of custom is in his exaltation. Certainly, the great multiplication of virtues upon human nature resteth upon societies well ordained, and disciplined. For commonwealths, and good governments, do nourish virtue grown, but do not much mend the seeds. But the misery is, that the most effectual means are now applied to the ends least to be desired.

但是假如个人底单独的习惯其力量是很大的,那么共有的联合的习惯,其力量就更大得多了。因为在这种地方他人底例子可为我之教训,他人底陪伴可为我之援助,争胜之心使我受刺激,光荣使我得意,所以在这种地方习惯底力量可说是到了最高峰。天性中美德底繁殖是要仗着秩序井然,纪律良好的社会的;这是无疑的。因为国家与好政府只是滋养已长成的美德,而不甚帮助美德的种子的。可悲者,最有效的工具,目前是正用以求达到最要不得的目的呢。

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