国芳多语对照文库:[法英汉三语对照]《忏悔录》(卢梭) The Confessions by Rousseau
  
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解密文本:《忏悔录》  [ 法国 ]   卢梭 著

Les Confessions

par Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  The Confessions
by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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Table of Contents

 

目 录

BOOK I [1712-1728] 第一章
BOOK II [1728-1731] 第二章
BOOK III [1728-1731] 第三章
BOOK IV [1731-1732] 第四章
BOOK V [1732-1736] 第五章
BOOK VI [1736] 第六章
BOOK VII [1741] 第七章
BOOK VIII [1749] 第八章
BOOK IX [1756] 第九章
BOOK X [1758] 第十章
BOOK XI [1761] 第十一章
BOOK XII [1762] 第十二章



BOOK I [1712-1728]

I HAVE begun on a work which is without precedent, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I propose to set before my fellow-mortals a man in all the truth of nature; and this man shall be myself.

I have studied mankind and know my heart; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature has acted rightly or wrongly in destroying the mold in which she cast me, can only be decided after I have been read.

I will present myself, whenever the last trumpet shall sound, before the Sovereign Judge with this book in my hand, and loudly proclaim, "Thus have I acted; these were my thoughts; such was I. With equal freedom and veracity have I related what was laudable or wicked, I have concealed no crimes, added no virtues; and if I have sometimes introduced superfluous ornament, it was merely to occupy a void occasioned by defect of memory: I may have supposed that certain, which I only knew to be probable, but have never asserted as truth, a conscious falsehood. Such as I was, I have declared myself; sometimes vile and despicable, at others, virtuous, generous, and sublime; even as Thou hast read my inmost soul: Power Eternal! assemble round Thy throne an innumerable throng of my fellow-mortals, let them listen to my confessions, let them blush at my depravity, let them tremble at my sufferings; let each in his turn expose with equal sincerity the failings, the wanderings of his heart, and if he dare, aver, I was better than that man."

I was born at Geneva, in 1712, son of Isaac Rousseau and Susannah Bernard, citizens. My father's share of a moderate competency, which was divided among fifteen children, being very trivial, his business of a watchmaker (in which he had the reputation of great ingenuity) was his only dependence. My mother's circumstances were more affluent; she was daughter of a Mons. Bernard, minister, and possessed a considerable share of modesty and beauty; indeed, my father found some difficulty in obtaining her hand.

The affection they entertained for each other was almost as early as their existence; at eight or nine years old they walked together every evening on the banks of the Treille, and before they were ten, could not support the idea of separation. A natural sympathy of soul confined those sentiments of predilection which habit at first produced; born with minds susceptible of the most exquisite sensibility and tenderness, it was only necessary to encounter similar dispositions; that moment fortunately presented itself, and each surrendered a willing heart.

The obstacles that opposed served only to give a degree of vivacity to their affection, and the young lover, not being able to obtain his mistress, was overwhelmed with sorrow and despair. She advised him to travel- to forget her. He consented- he traveled but returned more passionate than ever, and had the happiness to find her equally constant, equally tender. After this proof of mutual affection, what could they resolve?- to dedicate their future lives to love! the resolution was ratified with a vow, on which Heaven shed its benediction.

Fortunately, my mother's brother, Gabriel Bernard, fell in love with one of my father's sisters: she had no objection to the match, but made the marriage of his sister with her brother an indispensable preliminary. Love soon removed every obstacle, and the two weddings were celebrated the same day: thus my uncle became the husband of my aunt, and their children were doubly cousins german. Before a year was expired, both had the happiness to become fathers, but were soon after obliged to submit to a separation.

My uncle Bernard, who was an engineer, went to serve in the empire and Hungary, under Prince Eugene, and distinguished himself both at the siege and battle of Belgrade. My father, after the birth of my only brother, set off, on recommendation, for Constantinople, and was appointed watchmaker to the Seraglio. During his absence, the beauty, wit, and accomplishments* of my mother attracted a number of admirers, among whom Mons. de la Closure, Resident of France, was the most assiduous in his attentions. His passion must have been extremely violent, since after a period of thirty years I have seen him affected at the very mention of her name. My mother had a defense more powerful even than her virtue; she tenderly loved my father, and conjured him to return; his inclination seconding his request, he gave up every prospect of emolument, and hastened to Geneva.

* They were too brilliant for her situation, the minister, her father, having bestowed great pains on her education. She was taught drawing, singing, and to play on the theorbo; had learning, and wrote very agreeable verses. The following is an extempore piece which she composed in the absence of her husband and brother, in a conversation with some person relative to them, while walking with her sister-in-law, and their two children:

Ces deux messieurs, qui sont absens,

Nous sont chers de bien des manieres;

Ce sont nos amis, nos amans,

Ce sont nos maris et nos freres,

Et les peres de ces enfans.

These absent ones, who justly claim

Our hearts, by every tender name,

To whom each wish extends:

Our husbands and our brothers are,

The fathers of this blooming pair,

Our lovers and our friends.

I was the unfortunate fruit of this return, being born ten months after, in a very weakly and infirm state; my birth cost my mother her life, and was the first of my misfortunes. I am ignorant how my father supported her loss at that time, but I know he was ever after inconsolable. In me he still thought he saw her he so tenderly lamented, but could never forget that I had been the innocent cause of his misfortune, nor did he over embrace me, but his sighs, the convulsive pressure of his arms, witnessed that a bitter regret mingled itself with his caresses, though, as may be supposed, they were not on this account less ardent. When he said to me, "Jean Jacques, let us talk of your mother," my usual reply was, "Yes, father, but then, you know, we shall cry," and immediately the tears started from his eyes. "Ah!" exclaimed he, with agitation, "Give me back my wife; at least console me for her loss; fill up, dear boy, the void she has left in my soul. Could I love thee thus wert thou only my son?" Forty years after this loss he expired in the arms of a second wife, but the name of the first still vibrated on his lips, still was her image engraved on his heart.

Such were the authors of my being: of all the gifts it had pleased Heaven to bestow on them, a feeling heart was the only one that descended to me; this had been the source of their felicity, it was the foundation of all my misfortunes.

I came into the world with so few signs of life, that they entertained but little hope of preserving me, with the seeds of a disorder that has gathered strength with years, and from which I am now relieved at intervals, only to suffer a different, though more intolerable evil. I owed my preservation to one of my father's sisters, an amiable and virtuous girl, who took the most tender care of me; she is yet living, nursing, at the age of fourscore, a husband younger than herself, but worn out with excessive drinking. Dear aunt! I freely forgive your having preserved my life, and only lament that it is not in my power to bestow on the decline of your days the tender solicitude and care you lavished on the first dawn of mine. My nurse, Jaqueline, is likewise living, and in good health- the hands that opened my eyes to the light of this world may close them at my death. We suffer before we think; it is the common lot of humanity. I experienced more than my proportion of it. I have no knowledge of what passed prior to my fifth or sixth year; I recollect nothing of learning to read, I only remember what effect the first considerable exercise of it produced on my mind; and from that moment I date an uninterrupted knowledge of myself.

Every night, after supper, we read some part of a small collection of romances which had been my mother's. My father's design was only to improve me in reading, and he thought these entertaining works were calculated to give me a fondness for it; but we soon found ourselves so interested in the adventures they contained, that we alternately read whole nights together, and could not bear to give over until at the conclusion of a volume. Sometimes, in a morning, on hearing the swallows at our window, my father, quite ashamed of this weakness, would cry, "Come, come, let us go to bed; I am more a child than thou art."

I soon acquired, by this dangerous custom, not only an extreme facility in reading and comprehending, but, for my age, a too intimate acquaintance with the passions. An infinity of sensations were familiar to me, without possessing any precise idea of the objects to which they related- I had conceived nothing- I had felt the whole. This confused succession of emotions did not retard the future efforts of my reason, though they added an extravagant, romantic notion of human life, which experience and reflection have never been able to eradicate.

My romance reading concluded with the summer of 1719, the following winter was differently employed. My mother's library being quite exhausted, we had recourse to that part of her father's which had devolved to us; here we happily found some valuable books, which was by no means extraordinary, having been selected by a minister that truly deserved that title, in whom learning (which was the rage of the times) was but a secondary commendation, his taste and good sense being most conspicuous. The history of the Church and Empire by Le Sueur, Bossuett's Discourses on Universal History, Plutarch's Lives, the History of Venice by Nani, Ovid's Metamorphoses, La Bruyere, Fontenelle's World, his Dialogues of the Dead, and a few volumes of Moliere, were soon ranged in my father's closet, where, during the hours he was employed in his business, I daily read them, with an avidity and taste uncommon, perhaps unprecedented at my age.

Plutarch presently became my greatest favorite. The satisfaction I derived from the repeated readings I gave this author, extinguished my passion for romances, and I shortly preferred Agesilaus, Brutus, and Aristides, to Orondates, Artemenes, and Juba. These interesting studies, seconded by the conversations they frequently occasioned with my father, produced that republican spirit and love of liberty, that haughty and invincible turn of mind, which rendered me impatient of restraint or servitude, and became the torment of my life, as I continually found myself in situations incompatible with these sentiments. Incessantly occupied with Rome and Athens, conversing, if I may so express myself, with their illustrious heroes; born the citizen of a republic, of a father whose ruling passion was the love of his country, I was fired with these examples; could fancy myself a Greek or Roman, and readily give into the character of the personage whose life I read; transported by the recital of any extraordinary instance of fortitude or intrepidity, animation flashed from my eyes, and gave my voice additional strength and energy. One day, at table, while relating the fortitude of Scoevola, they were terrified at seeing me start from my seat and hold my hand over a hot chafing-dish, to represent more forcibly the action of that determined Roman.

My brother, who was seven years older than myself, was brought up to my father's profession. The extraordinary affection they lavished on me might be the reason he was too much neglected: this certainly was a fault which cannot be justified. His education and morals suffered by this neglect, and he acquired the habits of a libertine before he arrived at an age to be really one. My father tried what effect placing him with a master would produce, but he still persisted in the same ill conduct. Though I saw him so seldom that it could hardly be said we were acquainted, I loved him tenderly, and believe he had as strong an affection for me as a youth of his dissipated turn of mind could be supposed capable of. One day, I remember, when my father was correcting him severely, I threw myself between them, embracing my brother, whom I covered with my body, receiving the strokes designed for him; I persisted so obstinately in my protection, that either softened by my cries and tears, or fearing to hurt me most, his anger subsided, and he pardoned his fault. In the end, my brother's conduct became so bad that he suddenly disappeared, and we learned some time after that he was in Germany, but he never wrote to us, and from that day we heard no news of him: thus I became an only son.

If this poor lad was neglected, it was quite different with his brother, for the children of a king could not be treated with more attention and tenderness than were bestowed on my infancy, being the darling of the family; and what is rather uncommon, though treated as a beloved, never a spoiled child; was never permitted, while under paternal inspection, to play in the street with other children; never had any occasion to contradict or indulge those fantastical humors which are usually attributed to nature, but are in reality the effects of an injudicious education. I had the faults common to my age, was talkative, a glutton, and sometimes a liar; made no scruple of stealing sweetmeats, fruits, or, indeed, any kind of eatables; but never took delight in mischievous waste, in accusing others, or tormenting harmless animals. I recollect, indeed, that one day, while Madam Clot, a neighbor of ours, was gone to church, I made water in her kettle; the remembrance even now makes me smile, for Madam Clot (though, if you please, a good sort of creature) was one of the most tedious grumbling old women I ever knew. Thus have I given a brief, but faithful, history of my childish transgressions.

How could I become cruel or vicious, when I had before my eyes only examples of mildness, and was surrounded by some of the best people in the world? My father, my aunt, my nurse, my relations, our friends, our neighbors, all I had any connections with, did not obey me, it is true, but loved me tenderly, and I returned their affection. I found so little to excite my desires, and those I had were so seldom contradicted, that I was hardly sensible of possessing any, and can solemnly aver I was an absolute stranger to caprice until after I had experienced the authority of a master.

Those hours that were not employed in reading or writing with my father, or walking with my governess, Jaqueline, I spent with my aunt; and whether seeing her embroider, or hearing her sing, whether sitting or standing by her side, I was ever happy. Her tenderness and unaffected gayety, the charms of her figure and countenance, have left such indelible impressions on my mind, that her manner, look, and attitude, are still before my eyes; I recollect a thousand little caressing questions; could describe her clothes, her head-dress, nor have the two curls of fine black hair which hung on her temples, according to the mode of that time, escaped my memory.

Though my taste, or rather passion, for music, did not show itself until a considerable time after, I am fully persuaded it is to her I am indebted for it. She knew a great number of songs, which she sung with great sweetness and melody. The serenity and cheerfulness which were conspicuous in this lovely girl, banished melancholy, and made all round her happy.

The charms of her voice had such an affect on me, that not only several of her songs have ever since remained on my memory, but some I have not thought of from my infancy, as I grow old, return upon my mind with a charm altogether inexpressible. Would any one believe that an old dotard like me, worn out with care and infirmity, should sometime surprise himself weeping like a child, and in a voice querulous, and broken by age, muttering out one of those airs which were the favorites of my infancy? There is one song in particular, whose tune I perfectly recollect, but the words that compose the latter half of it constantly refuse every effort to recall them, though I have a confused idea of the rhymes. The beginning, with what I have been able to recollect of the remainder, is as follows:

Tircis, je n'ose

Ecouter ton Chalumeau

Sous l' Ormeau;

Car on en cause

Deja dans notre hameau.

--- --- ---

-un Berger

s'engager

sans danger,

Et toujours l'epine est sous la rose.

I have endeavored to account for the invincible charm my heart feels on the recollection of this fragment, but it is altogether inexplicable. I only know, that before I get to the end of it, I always find my voice interrupted by tenderness, and my eyes suffused with tears. I have a hundred times formed the resolution of writing to Paris for the remainder of these words, if any one should chance to know them: but I am almost certain the pleasure I take in the recollection would be greatly diminished was I assured any one but my poor aunt Susan had sung them.

Such were my affections on entering this life. Thus began to form and demonstrate itself a heart at once haughty and tender, a character effeminate, yet invincible; which, fluctuating between weakness and courage, luxury and virtue, has ever set me in contradiction to myself; causing abstinence and enjoyment, pleasure and prudence, equally to shun me.

This course of education was interrupted by an accident, whose consequences influenced the rest of my life. My father had a quarrel ungenerous man, happening to bleed at the nose, in order to be revenged, accused my father of having drawn his sword on him in the city, and in consequence of this charge they were about to conduct him to prison. He insisted (according to the law of this republic) that the accuser should be confined at the same time; and, not being able to obtain this, preferred a voluntary banishment for the remainder of his life, to giving up a point by which he must sacrifice his honor and liberty.

I remained under the tuition of my uncle Bernard, who was at that time employed in the fortifications of Geneva. He had lost his eldest daughter, but had a son about my own age, and we were sent together to Bossey, to board with the Minister Lambercier. Here we were to learn Latin, with all the insignificant trash that has obtained the name of education.

Two years spent in this village softened, in some degree, my Roman fierceness, and again reduced me to a state of childhood. At Geneva, where nothing was exacted, I loved reading, which was, indeed, my principal amusement; but, at Bossey, where application was expected, I was fond of play as a relaxation. The country was so new, so charming in my idea, that it seemed impossible to find satiety in its enjoyments, and I conceived a passion for rural life, which time has not been able to extinguish; nor have I ever ceased to regret the pure and tranquil pleasures I enjoyed at this place in my childhood; the remembrance having followed me through every age, even to that in which I am hastening again towards it.

M. Lambercier was a worthy, sensible man, who, without neglecting our instruction, never made our acquisitions burthensome, or tasks tedious. What convinces me of the rectitude of his method is, that notwithstanding my extreme aversion to restraint, the recollection of my studies is never attended with disgust; and, if my improvement was trivial, it was obtained with ease, and has never escaped memory.

The simplicity of this rural life was of infinite advantage in opening my heart to the reception of true friendship. The sentiments I had hitherto formed on this subject were extremely elevated, but altogether imaginary. The habit of living in this peaceful manner soon united me tenderly to my cousin Bernard; my affection was more ardent than that I had felt for my brother, nor has time ever been able to efface it. He was a tall, lank, weakly boy, with a mind as mild as his body was feeble, and who did not wrong the good opinion they were disposed to entertain for the son of my guardian. Our studies, amusements, and tasks, were the same; we were alone; each wanted a playmate; to separate would, in some measure, have been to annihilate us. Though we had not many opportunities of demonstrating our attachment to each other, it was certainly extreme; and so far from enduring the thought of separation, we could not even form an idea that we should ever be able to submit to it. Each of a disposition to be won by kindness, and complaisant, when not soured by contradiction, we agreed in every particular. If, by the favor of those who governed us he had the ascendant while in their presence, I was sure to acquire it when we were alone, and this preserved the equilibrium so necessary in friendship. If he hesitated in repeating his task, I prompted him; when my exercises were finished, I helped to write his; and, in our amusements, my disposition being most active, ever had the lead. In a word, our characters accorded so well, and the friendship that subsisted between us was so cordial, that during the five years we were at Bossey and Geneva we were inseparable: we often fought, it is true, but there never was any occasion to separate us. No one of our quarrels lasted more than a quarter of an hour, and never in our lives did we make any complaint of each other. It may be said, these remarks are frivolous; but, perhaps, a similar example among children can hardly be produced.

The manner in which I passed my time at Bossey was so agreeable to my disposition, that it only required a longer duration absolutely to have fixed my character, which would have had only peaceable, affectionate, benevolent sentiments for its basis. I believe no individual of our kind ever possessed less natural vanity than myself. At intervals, by an extraordinary effort, I arrived at sublime ideas, but presently sunk again into my original languor. To be beloved by every one who knew me was my most ardent wish. I was naturally mild, my cousin was equally so, and those who had the care of us were of similar dispositions. Everything contributed to strengthen those propensities which nature had implanted in my breast, and during the two years I was neither the victim nor witness of any violent emotions.

I knew nothing so delightful as to see every one content; not only with me, but all that concerned them. When repeating our catechism at church, nothing could give me greater vexation, on being obliged to hesitate, than to see Miss Lambercier's countenance express disapprobation and uneasiness. This alone was more afflicting to me than the shame of faltering before so many witnesses, which, notwithstanding, was sufficiently painful; for though not over-solicitous of praise, I was feelingly alive to shame; yet I can truly affirm, the dread of being reprimanded by Miss Lambercier alarmed me less than the thought of making her uneasy.

Neither she nor her brother were deficient in a reasonable severity, but as this was scarce ever exerted without just cause, I was more afflicted at their disapprobation than the punishment. Certainly the method of treating youth would be altered if the distant effects, this indiscriminate, and frequently indiscreet method produces, were more conspicuous. I would willingly excuse myself from a further explanation, did not the lesson this example conveys (which points out an evil as frequent as it is pernicious) forbid my silence.

As Miss Lambercier felt a mother's affection, she sometimes exerted a mother's authority, even to inflicting on us, when we deserved it, the punishment of infants. She had often threatened it, and this threat of a treatment entirely new, appeared to me extremely dreadful; but I found the reality much less terrible than the idea, and what is still more unaccountable, this punishment increased my affection for the person who had inflicted it. All this affection, aided by my natural mildness, was scarcely sufficient to prevent my seeking, by fresh offenses, a return of the same chastisement; for a degree of sensuality had mingled with the smart and shame, which left more desire than fear of a repetition. I was well convinced the same discipline from her brother would have produced a quite contradictory effect; but from a man of his disposition this was not probable, and if I abstained from meriting correction, it was merely from a fear of offending Miss Lambercier, for benevolence, aided by the passions, has ever maintained an empire over me which has given law to my heart.

This event, which, though desirable, I had not endeavored to accelerate, arrived without my fault; I should say, without my seeking; and I profited by it with a safe conscience; but this second, was also the last time, for Miss Lambercier, who doubtless had some reason to imagine this chastisement did not produce the desired effect, declared it was too fatiguing, and that she renounced it for the future. Till now we had slept in her chamber, and during the winter, even in her bed; but two days after another room was prepared for us.

Who would believe this childish discipline, received at eight years old, from the hand of a woman of thirty, should influence my propensities, my desires, my passions, for the rest of my life, and that in quite a contrary sense from what might naturally have been expected? The very incident that inflamed my senses, gave my desires such an extraordinary turn, that, confined to what I had already experienced, I sought no further, and, with blood boiling with sensuality almost from my birth, preserved my purity beyond the age when the coldest constitutions lose their sensibility; long tormented, without knowing by what, I gazed on every handsome woman with delight; imagination incessantly brought their charms to my remembrance, only to transform them into so many Miss Lamberciers. Even after having attained the marriageable age this odd taste still continued and drove me nearly to depravity and madness.

If ever education was perfectly chaste, it certainly that I received; my three aunts were of exemplary prudence. My father, it is true, loved pleasure, but his gallantry was rather of the last than the present century. At M. Lambercier's a good maidservant was discharged for having once made use of an expression before us which was thought to contain some degree of indelicacy. I entertained a particular aversion for courtesans, nor could I look on a rake without a degree of disdain mingled with terror. My aversion for lewdness went so far, since one day I walked through a hollow in the road at Petit Sacconez; I saw on both sides cavities in the earth and was told that it was there the people did their pairing. When I thought of it, it came to my mind, that I had seen dogs in a similar situation, and my heart revolted at the remembrance.

These prejudices of education, proper in themselves to retard the first explosions of a combustible constitution, were strengthened, as I have already hinted, by the effect the first moments of sensuality produced in me, for notwithstanding the troublesome ebullition of my blood, I was satisfied with the species of voluptuousness I had already been acquainted with, and sought no further. I never went to the other species of voluptuousness and had no suspicion that I was so near it. In my crazy fancies during my erotic passions and while I was committing extravagant acts, I borrowed the help of the other sex in my imagination.

Thus I passed the age of puberty, with a constitution extremely ardent, without knowing or even wishing for any other gratification of the passions than what Miss Lambercier had innocently given me an idea of; and when I became a man, that childish taste, instead of vanishing, only associated with the other that I never could remove from my sensual desires. This folly, joined to a natural timidity, has always prevented my being very enterprising with women, so that I have passed my days in languishing in silence for those I most admired, without daring to disclose my wishes.

To fall at the feet of an imperious mistress, obey her mandates, or implore pardon, were for me the most exquisite enjoyments, and the more my blood was inflamed by the efforts of a lively imagination the more I acquired the appearance of a whining lover.

It will be readily conceived that this mode of making love is not attended with a rapid progress or imminent danger to the virtue of its object; yet, though I have few favors to boast of I have not been excluded from enjoyment, however imaginary. Thus the senses, in concurrence with a mind equally timid and romantic, have preserved my morals chaste, and feelings uncorrupted, with precisely the same inclinations, which, seconded with a moderate portion of effrontery, might have plunged me into the most unwarrantable excesses.

I have made the first, most difficult step, in the obscure and painful maze of my Confessions. We never feel so great a degree of repugnance in divulging what is really criminal, as what is merely ridiculous. I am now assured of my resolution, for after what I have dared disclose, nothing can have power to deter me. The difficulty attending these acknowledgments will be readily conceived, when I declare, that during the whole of my life, though frequently laboring under the most violent agitation, being hurried away with the impetuosity of passion I could never, in the course of the most unbounded familiarity, acquire sufficient courage to declare my folly, and implore the only favor that remained to bestow. That has only once happened, when a child, with a girl of my own age; even then it was she who first proposed it.

In thus investigating the first traces of my sensible existence, I find elements, which, though seemingly incompatible, have united to produce a simple and uniform effect; while others, apparently the same, have, by the concurrence of certain circumstances, formed such different combinations, that it would never be imagined they had any affinity; who would believe, for example, that one of the most vigorous springs of my soul was tempered in the identical source from whence luxury and ease mingled with my constitution and circulated in my veins? Before I quit this subject, I will add a striking instance of the different effects they produced.

One day, while I was studying in a chamber contiguous to the kitchen, the maid set some of Miss Lambercier's combs to dry by the fire, and on coming to fetch them some time after, was surprised to find the teeth of one of them broken off. Who could be suspected of this mischief? No one but myself had entered the room: I was questioned, but denied having any knowledge of it. Mr. and Miss Lambercier consult, exhort, threaten, but all to no purpose; I obstinately persist in the denial; and, though this was the first time I had been detected in a confirmed falsehood, appearances were so strong that they overthrew all my protestations. This affair was thought serious; the mischief, the lie, the obstinacy, were considered equally deserving of punishment, which was not now to be administered by Miss Lambercier. My uncle Bernard was written to; he arrived; and my poor cousin being charged with a crime no less serious, we were conducted to the same execution, which was inflicted with great severity. If finding a remedy in the evil itself, they had sought ever to allay my depraved desires, they could not have chosen a shorter method to accomplish their designs, and, I can assure my readers, I was for a long time freed from the dominion of them.

As this severity could not draw from me the expected acknowledgment, which obstinacy brought on several repetitions, and reduced me to a deplorable situation, yet I was immovable, and resolutely determined to suffer death rather than submit. Force, at length, was obliged to yield to the diabolical infatuation of a child, for no better name was bestowed on my constancy, and I came out of this dreadful trial, torn, it is true, but triumphant. Fifty years have expired since this adventure- the fear of punishment is no more. Well, then, I aver, in the face of Heaven, I was absolutely innocent: and, so far from breaking, or even touching the comb, never came near the fire. It will be asked, how did this mischief happen? I can form no conception of it, I only know my own innocence.

Let any one figure to himself a character whose leading traits were docility and timidity, but haughty, ardent, and invincible, in its passions; a child, hitherto governed by the voice of reason, treated with mildness, equity, and complaisance, who could not even support the idea of injustice, experiencing, for the first time, so violent an instance of it, inflicted by those he most loved and respected. What perversion of ideas! What confusion in the heart, the brain, in all my little being, intelligent and moral!- let any one, I say, if possible, imagine all this, for I am incapable of giving the least idea of what passed in my mind at that period.

My reason was not sufficiently established to enable me to put myself in the place of others, and judge how much appearances condemned me, I only beheld the rigor of a dreadful chastisement, inflicted for a crime I had not committed; yet I can truly affirm, the smart I suffered, though violent, was inconsiderable to what I felt from indignation, rage, and despair. My cousin, who was almost in similar circumstances, having been punished for an involuntary fault, as guilty of a premeditated crime, became furious by my example. Both in the same bed, we embraced each other with convulsive transport; we were almost suffocated; and when our young hearts found sufficient relief to breathe out our indignation, we sat up in the bed, and with all our force, repeated a hundred times, Carnifex! Carnifex! Carnifex! Executioner, tormentor.

Even while I write this I feel my pulse quicken, and should I live a hundred thousand years, the agitation of that moment would still be fresh in my memory. The first instance of violence and oppression is so deeply engraven on my soul, that every relative idea renews my emotion: the sentiment of indignation, which in its origin had reference only to myself, has acquired such strength, and is at present so completely detached from personal motives, that my heart is as much inflamed at the sight or relation of any act of injustice (whatever may be the object, or wheresoever it may be perpetrated) as if I was the immediate sufferer. When I read the history of a merciless tyrant, or the dark and the subtle machination of a knavish designing priest, I could on the instant set off to stab the miscreants, though I was certain to perish in the attempt.

I have frequently fatigued myself by running after and stoning a cock, a cow, a dog, or any animal I saw tormenting another, only because it was conscious of possessing superior strength. This may be natural to me, and I am inclined to believe it is, though the lively impression of the first injustice I became the victim of was too long and too powerfully remembered not to have added considerable force to it.

This occurrence terminated my infantine serenity; from that moment I ceased to enjoy a pure unadulterated happiness, and on a retrospection of the pleasures of my childhood, I yet feel they ended here. We continued at Bossey some months after this event, but were like our first parents in the Garden of Eden after they had lost their innocence; in appearance our situation was the same, in effect it was totally different.

Affection, respect, intimacy, confidence, no longer attached the pupils to their guides; we beheld them no longer as divinities, who could read the secrets of our hearts; we were less ashamed of committing faults, more afraid of being accused of them: we learned to dissemble, to rebel, to lie: all the vices common to our years began to corrupt our happy innocence, mingle with our sports, and embitter our amusements. The country itself, losing those sweet and simple charms which captivate the heart, appeared a gloomy desert, or covered with a veil that concealed its beauties. We cultivated our little gardens no more: our flowers were neglected. We no longer scratched away the mold, and broke out into exclamations of delight, on discovering that the grain we had sown began to shoot. We were disgusted with our situation; our preceptors were weary of us. In a word, my uncle wrote for our return, and we left Mr. and Miss Lambercier without feeling any regret at the separation.

Near thirty years passed away from my leaving Bossey, without once recalling the place to my mind with any degree of satisfaction; but after having passed the prime of life, as I decline into old age (while more recent occurrences are wearing out apace) I feel these remembrances revive and imprint themselves on my heart, with a force and charm that every day acquires fresh strength; as if, feeling life flee from me, I endeavored to catch it again by its commencement. The most trifling incidents of those happy days delight me, for no other reason than being of those days, I recall every circumstance of time, place, and persons; I see the maid or footman busy in the chamber, a swallow entering the window, a fly settling on my hand while repeating my lesson. I see the whole economy of the apartment; on the right hand Mr. Lambercier's closet, with a print representing all the popes, a barometer, a large almanac, the windows of the house (which stood in a hollow at the bottom of the garden) shaded by raspberry shrubs, whose shoots sometimes found entrance; I am sensible the reader has no occasion to know all this, but I feel a kind of necessity for relating it. Why am I not permitted to recount all the little anecdotes of that thrice happy age, at the recollection of whose joys I even tremble with delight? Five or six particularly- let us compromise the matter- I will give up five, but then I must have one, and only one, provided I may draw it out to its utmost length, in order to prolong my satisfaction.

If I only sought yours, I should choose that of Miss Lambercier's backside, which, by an unlucky fall at the bottom of the meadow, was exposed to the view of the King of Sardinia, who happened to be passing by; but that of the walnut tree on the terrace is more amusing to me, since here I was an actor, whereas, in the above-mentioned scene I was only a spectator, and I must confess I see nothing that should occasion risibility in an accident, which, however laughable in itself, alarmed me for a person I loved as a mother, or perhaps something more.

Ye curious readers, whose expectations are already on the stretch for the noble history of the terrace, listen to the tragedy, and abstain from trembling, if you can, at the horrible catastrophe.

At the outside of the courtyard door, on the left hand, was a terrace; here they often sat after dinner; but it was subject to one inconvenience, being too much exposed to the rays of the sun; to obviate this defect, Mr. Lambercier had a walnut tree set there, the planting of which was attended with great solemnity. The two boarders were godfathers, and while the earth was replacing round the root, each held the tree with one hand, singing songs of triumph. In order to water it with more effect, they formed a kind of luson around its foot: myself and cousin, who were every day ardent spectators of this watering, confirmed each other in the very natural idea, that it was nobler to plant trees on the terrace than colors on a breach, and this glory we were resolved to procure without dividing it with any one.

In pursuance of this resolution, we cut a slip off a willow, and planted it on the terrace, at about eight or ten feet distance from the august walnut tree. We did not forget to make a hollow round it, but the difficulty was how to procure a supply of water, which was brought from a considerable distance, and we not permitted to fetch it: but water was absolutely necessary for our willow, and we made use of every stratagem to obtain it.

For a few days everything succeeded so well that it began to bud, and throw out small leaves, which we hourly measured, convinced (though now scarce a foot from the ground) it would soon afford us a refreshing shade. This unfortunate willow, by engrossing our whole time, rendered us incapable of application to any other study, and the cause of our inattention not being known, we were kept closer than before. The fatal moment approached when water must fail, and we were already afflicted with the idea that our tree must perish with drought. At length necessity, the parent of industry, suggested an invention, by which we might save our tree from death, and ourselves from despair; it was to make a furrow underground, which would privately conduct a part of the water from the walnut tree to our willow. This undertaking was executed with ardor, but did not immediately succeed- our descent was not skillfully planned- the water did not run, the earth falling in and stopping up the burrow; yet, though all went contrary, nothing discouraged us, Labor omnia vincit labor improbus. We made the basin deeper, to give the water a more sensible descent; we cut the bottom of a box into narrow planks; increased the channel from the walnut tree to our willow, and laying a row flat at the bottom, set two others inclining towards each other, so as to form a triangular channel; we formed a king of grating with small sticks at the end next the walnut tree, to prevent the earth and stones from stopping it up, and having carefully covered our work with well-trodden earth, in a transport of hope and fear attended the hour of watering. After an interval which seemed an age of expectation, this hour arrived. Mr. Lambercier, as usual, assisted at the operation; we contrived to get between him and our tree, towards which he fortunately turned his back. They no sooner began to pour the first pail of water, than we perceived it running to the willow; this sight was too much for our prudence, and we involuntarily expressed our transport by a shout of joy. The sudden exclamation made Mr. Lambercier turn about, though at that instant he was delighted to observe how greedily the earth, which surrounded the root of his walnut tree, imbibed the water. Surprised at seeing two trenches partake of it, he shouted in his turn, examines, perceives the roguery, and, sending instantly for a pick axe, at one fatal blow makes two or three of our planks fly, crying out meantime with all his strength an aqueduct! an aqueduct! His strokes redoubled, every one of which made an impression on our hearts; in a moment the planks, the channel, the basin, even our favorite willow, all were plowed up, nor was one word pronounced during this terrible transaction, except the above-mentioned exclamation. An aqueduct! repeated he, while destroying all our hopes, an aqueduct! an aqueduct!

It may be supposed this adventure had a still more melancholy end for the young architects; this, however, was not the case; the affair ended here. Mr. Lambercier never reproached us on this account nor was his countenance clouded with a frown; we even heard him mention the circumstance to his sister with loud bursts of laughter. The laugh of Mr. Lambercier might be heard to a considerable distance. But what is still more surprising, after the first transport of sorrow had subsided, we did not find ourselves violently afflicted; we planted a tree in another spot, and frequently recollected the catastrophe of the former, repeating with a significant emphasis, an aqueduct! an aqueduct! Till then, at intervals, I had fits of ambition, and could fancy myself Brutus or Aristides, but this was the first visible effect of my vanity. To have constructed an aqueduct with our own hands, to have set a slip of willow in competition with a flourishing tree, appeared to me a supreme degree of glory! I had a juster conception of it at ten, than Caesar entertained at thirty.

The idea of this walnut tree, with the little anecdotes it gave rise to, have so well continued, or returned to my memory, that the design which conveyed the most pleasing sensations, during my journey to Geneva, in the year 1754, was visiting Bossey, and reviewing the monuments of my infantine amusement, above all, the beloved walnut tree, whose age at that time must have been verging on a third of a century, but I was so beset with company, that I could not find a moment to accomplish my design. There is little appearance now of the occasion being renewed; but should I ever return to that charming spot, and find my favorite walnut tree still existing, I am convinced I should water it with my tears.

On my return to Geneva, I passed two or three years at my uncle's, expecting the determination of my friends respecting my future establishment. His own son being devoted to engineering, was taught drawing, and instructed by his father in the elements of Euclid: I partook of these instructions, but was principally fond of drawing. Meantime they were irresolute, whether to make me a watchmaker, a lawyer, or a minister. I should have preferred being a minister, as I thought it must be a charming thing to preach, but the trifling income which had been my mother's, and was to be divided between my brother and myself, was too inconsiderable to defray the expense attending the prosecution of my studies. As my age did not render the choice very pressing, I remained with my uncle, passing my time with very little improvement, and paying pretty dear, though not unreasonably, for my board.

My uncle, like my father, was a man of pleasure, but had not learned, like him, to abridge his amusements for the sake of instructing his family, consequently our education was neglected. My aunt was a devotee, who loved singing psalms better than thinking of our improvement, so that we were left entirely to ourselves, which liberty we never abused.

Ever inseparable, we were all the world to each other; and, feeling no inclination to frequent the company of a number of disorderly lads of our own age, we learned none of those habits of libertinism to which our idle life exposed us. Perhaps I am wrong in charging myself and cousin with idleness at this time, for, in our lives, we were never less so; and what was extremely fortunate, so incessantly occupied with our amusements, that we found no temptation to spend any part of our time in the streets. We made cages, pipes, kites, drums, houses, ships, and bows; spoiled the tools of my good old grandfather by endeavoring to make watches in imitation of him; but our favorite amusement was wasting paper, in drawing, washing, coloring, etc. There came an Italian mountebank to Geneva, called Gamber-Corta, who had an exhibition of puppets, that he made play a kind of comedy. We went once to see them, but could not spare time to go again, being busily employed in making puppets of our own, and inventing comedies, which we immediately set about making them perform, mimicking to the best of our abilities the uncouth voice of Punch; and, to complete the business, my good aunt and uncle Bernard had the patience to see and listen to our imitations; but my uncle, having one day read an elaborate discourse to his family, we instantly gave up our comedies, and began composing sermons.

These details, I confess, are not very amusing, but they serve to demonstrate that the former part of our education was well directed, since being, at such an early age, the absolute masters of our time, we found no inclination to abuse it; and so little in want of other companions, that we constantly neglected every occasion of seeking them. When taking our walks together, we observed their diversions without feeling any inclination to partake of them. Friendship so entirely occupied our hearts, that, pleased with each other's company, the simplest pastimes were sufficient to delight us.

We were soon remarked for being thus inseparable: and what rendered us more conspicuous, my cousin was very tall, myself extremely short, so that we exhibited a very whimsical contrast. This meager figure, small, sallow countenance, heavy air, and supine gait, excited the ridicule of the children, who, in the gibberish of the country, nicknamed him Barna Bredanna; and we no sooner got out of doors than our ears were assailed with a repetition of "Barna Bredanna." He bore this indignity with tolerable patience, but I was instantly for fighting. This was what the young rogues aimed at. I engaged accordingly, and was beat. My poor cousin did all in his power to assist me, but he was weak, and a single stroke brought him to the ground. I then became furious, and received several smart blows, some of which were aimed at Barna Bredanna. This quarrel so far increased the evil, that, to avoid their insults, we could only show ourselves in the streets while they were employed at school.

I had already become a redresser of grievances; there only wanted a lady in the way to be a knight-errant in form. This defect was soon supplied; I presently had two. I frequently went to see my father at Nion, a small city in the Vaudois country, where he was now settled. Being universally respected, the affection entertained for him extended to me; and, during my visits, the question seemed to be, who should show me most kindness. A Madam de Vulson, in particular, loaded me with caresses; and, to complete all, her daughter made me her gallant. I need not explain what kind of gallant a boy of eleven must be to a girl of two and twenty; the artful hussies know how to set these puppets up in front, to conceal more serious engagements. On my part, I saw no inequality between myself and Miss Vulson, was flattered by the circumstance, and went into it with my whole heart, or rather my whole head, for this passion certainly reached no further, though it transported me almost to madness, and frequently produced scenes sufficient to make even a cynic expire with laughter.

I have experienced two kinds of love, equally real, which have scarce any affinity, yet each differing materially from tender friendship. My whole life has been divided between these affections, and I have frequently felt the power of both at the same instant. For example, at the very time I so publicly and tyrannically claimed Miss Vulson, that I could not suffer any other of my sex to approach her, I had short, but passionate, assignations with a Miss Goton, who thought proper to act the schoolmistress with me. Our meetings, though absolutely childish, afforded me the height of happiness. I felt the whole charm of mystery, and repaid Miss Vulson in kind, when she least expected it, the use she made of me in concealing her amours. To my great mortification, this secret was soon discovered, and I presently lost my young schoolmistress.

Miss Goton was, in fact, a singular personage. She was not handsome, yet there was a certain something in her figure which could not easily be forgotten, and this for an old fool, I am too often convinced of. Her eyes, in particular, neither corresponded with her age, her height, nor her manner; she had a lofty imposing air which agreed extremely well with the character she assumed, but the most extraordinary part of her composition was a mixture of forwardness and reserve difficult to be conceived; and while she took the greatest liberties with me, would never permit any to be taken with her in return, treating me precisely like a child. This makes me suppose she had either ceased herself to be one, or was yet sufficiently so to behold us play the danger to which this folly exposed her.

I was so absolutely in the power of both these mistresses, that when in the presence of either, I never thought of her who was absent; in other respects, the effects they produced on me bore no affinity. I could have passed my whole life with Miss Vulson, without forming a wish to quit her; but then, my satisfaction was attended with a pleasing serenity; and, in numerous companies, I was particularly charmed with her. The sprightly sallies of her wit, the arch glance of her eye, even jealousy itself, strengthened my attachment, and I triumphed in the preference she seemed to bestow on me, while addressed by more powerful rivals; applause, encouragement, and smiles, gave animation to my happiness. Surrounded by a throng of observers, I felt the whole force of love- I was passionate, transported; in a tete-a-tete, I should have been constrained, thoughtful, perhaps unhappy. If Miss Vulson was ill, I suffered with her; would willingly have given up my own health to establish hers (and, observe, I knew the want of it from experience); if absent, she employed my thoughts, I felt the want of her; when present, her caresses came with warmth and rapture to my heart, though my senses were unaffected. The familiarities she bestowed on me I could not have supported the idea of her granting to another; I loved her with a brother's affection only, but experienced all the jealousy of a lover.

With Miss Goton this passion might have acquired a degree of fury; I should have been a Turk, a tiger, had I once imagined she bestowed her favors on any but myself. The pleasure I felt on approaching Miss Vulson was sufficiently ardent, though unattended with uneasy sensations; but at sight of Miss Goton, I felt myself bewildered- every sense was absorbed in ecstasy. I believe it would have been impossible to have remained long with her; I must have been suffocated with the violence of my palpitations. I equally dreaded giving either of them displeasure; with one I was more complaisant; with the other, more submissive. I would not have offended Miss Vulson for the world; but if Miss Goton had commanded me to throw myself into the flames, I think I should have instantly obeyed her. Happily, both for her and myself, our amours, or rather rendezvous, were not of long duration: and though my connection with Miss Vulson was less dangerous, after a continuance of some greater length, that likewise had its catastrophe; indeed the termination of a love affair is good for nothing, unless it partakes of the romantic, and can furnish out at least an exclamation.

Though my correspondence with Miss Vulson was less animated, it was perhaps more endearing; we never separated without tears, and it can hardly be conceived what a void I felt in my heart. I could neither think nor speak of anything but her. These romantic sorrows were not affected, though I am inclined to believe they did not absolutely center in her, for I am persuaded (though I did not perceive it at that time) being deprived of amusement bore a considerable share in them.

To soften the rigor of absence, we agreed to correspond with each other, and the pathetic expressions these letters contained were sufficient to have split a rock. In a word, I had the honor of her not being able to endure the pain of separation. She came to see me at Geneva.

My head was now completely turned; and during the two days she remained here, I was intoxicated with delight. At her departure, I would have thrown myself into the water after her, and absolutely rent the air with my cries. The week following she sent me sweetmeats, gloves, etc. This certainly would have appeared extremely gallant, had I not been informed of her marriage at the same instant, and that the journey I had thought proper to give myself the honor of, was only to buy her wedding suit.

My indignation may easily be conceived; I shall not attempt to describe it. In this heroic fury, I swore never more to see the perfidious girl, supposing it the greatest punishment that could be inflicted on her. This, however, did not occasion her death, for twenty years after while on a visit to my father, being on the lake, I asked who those ladies were in a boat not far from ours. "What!" said my father, smiling, "does not your heart inform you? It is your former flame, it is Madam Christin, or, if you please, Miss Vulson." I started at the almost forgotten name, and instantly ordered the waterman to turn off, not judging it worth while to be perjured, however favorable the opportunity for revenge, in renewing a dispute of twenty years past, with a woman of forty.

Thus, before my future destination was determined, did I fool away the most precious moments of my youth. After deliberating a long time on the bent of my natural inclination, they resolved to dispose of me in a manner the most repugnant to them. I was sent to Mr. Masseron, the City Register, to learn (according to the expression of my uncle Bernard) the thriving occupation of a scraper. This nickname was inconceivably displeasing to me, and I promised myself but little satisfaction in the prospect of heaping up money by a mean employment. The assiduity and subjection required completed my disgust, and I never set foot in the office without feeling a kind of horror, which every day gained fresh strength.

Mr. Masseron, who was not better pleased with my abilities than I was with the employment, treated me with disdain, incessantly upbraiding me with being a fool and blockhead, not forgetting to repeat, that my uncle had assured him I was a knowing one, though he could not find that I knew anything. That he had promised to furnish him with a sprightly boy, but had, in truth, sent him an ass. To conclude, I was turned out of the registry, with the additional ignominy of being pronounced a fool by all Mr. Masseron's clerks, and fit only to handle a file.

My vocation thus determined, I was bound apprentice; not, however, to a watchmaker, but to an engraver, and I had been so completely humiliated by the contempt of the register, that I submitted without a murmur. My master, whose name was M. Ducommon, was a young man of a very violent and boorish character, who contrived in a short time to tarnish all the amiable qualities of my childhood, to stupefy a disposition naturally sprightly, and reduce my feelings, as well as my condition, to an absolute state of servitude. I forgot my Latin, history, and antiquities; I could hardly recollect whether such people as Romans ever existed. When I visited my father, he no longer beheld his idol, nor could the ladies recognize the gallant Jean Jacques; nay, I was so well convinced that Mr. and Miss Lambercier would scarce receive me as their pupil, that I endeavored to avoid their company, and from that time have never seen them. The vilest inclinations, the basest actions, succeeded my amiable amusements, and even obliterated the very remembrance of them. I must have had, in spite of my good education, a great propensity to degenerate, else the declension could not have followed with such ease and rapidity, for never did so promising a Caesar so quickly become a Laradon.

The art itself did not displease me. I had a lively taste for drawing. There was nothing displeasing in the exercise of the graver; and as it required no very extraordinary abilities to attain perfection as a watchcase engraver, I hoped to arrive at it. Perhaps I should have accomplished my design, if unreasonable restraint, added to the brutality of my master, had not rendered my business disgusting. I wasted his time, and employed myself in engraving medals, which served me and my companions as a kind of insignia for a new invented order of chivalry, and though this differed very little from my usual employ, I considered it as a relaxation. Unfortunately, my master caught me at this contraband labor, and a severe beating was the consequence. He reproached me at the same time with attempting to make counterfeit money, because our medals bore the arms of the Republic, though, I can truly aver, I had no conception of false money, and very little of the true, knowing better how to make a Roman As than one of our threepenny pieces.

My master's tyranny rendered insupportable that labor I should otherwise have loved, and drove me to vices I naturally despised, such as falsehood, idleness, and theft. Nothing ever gave me a clearer demonstration of the difference between filial dependence and abject slavery, than the remembrance of the change produced in me at that period. Hitherto I had enjoyed a reasonable liberty; this I had suddenly lost. I was enterprising at my father's, free at M. Lambercier's, discreet at my uncle's; but, with my master, I became fearful and from that moment my mind was vitiated. Accustomed to live on terms of perfect equality, to be witness of no pleasures I could not command, to see no dish I was not to partake of, or be sensible of a desire I might not express; to be able to bring every wish of my heart to my lips- what a transition!- at my master's I was scarce allowed to speak, was forced to quit the table without tasting what I most longed for, and the room when I had nothing particular to do there; was incessantly confined to my work, while the liberty my master and his journeymen enjoyed, served only to increase the weight of my subjection. When disputes happened to arise, though conscious that I understood the subject better than any of them, I dared not offer my opinion; in a word, everything I saw became an object of desire, for no other reason than because I was not permitted to enjoy anything. Farewell gayety, ease, those happy turns of expression, which formerly even made my faults escape correction. I recollect, with pleasure, a circumstance that happened at my father's, which even now makes me smile. Being for some fault ordered to bed without my supper, as I was passing through the kitchen, with my poor morsel of bread in my hand, I saw the meat turning on the spit; my father and the rest were round the fire; I must bow to every one as I passed. When I had gone through this ceremony, leering with a wishful eye at the roast meat, which looked so inviting, and smelt so savory, I could not abstain from making that a bow likewise, adding in a pitiful tone, good-by, roast meat! This unpremeditated pleasantry put them in such good humor, that I was permitted to stay, and partake of it. Perhaps the same thing might have produced a similar effect at my master's, but such a thought could never have occurred to me, or, if it had, I should not have had courage to express it.

Thus I learned to covet, dissemble, lie, and, at length, to steal, a propensity I never felt the least idea of before, though since that time I have never been able entirely to divest myself of it. Desire and inability united naturally led to this vice, which is the reason pilfering is so common among footmen and apprentices, though the latter, as they grow up, and find themselves in a situation where everything is at their command, lose this shameful propensity. As I never experienced the advantage, I never enjoyed the benefit.

Good sentiments, ill directed, frequently lead children into vice. Notwithstanding my continual wants and temptations, it was more than a year before I could resolve to take even eatables. My first theft was occasioned by complaisance, but it was productive of others which had not so plausible an excuse.

My master had a journeyman named Verrat, whose mother lived in the neighborhood, and had a garden at a considerable distance from the house, which produced excellent asparagus. This Verrat, who had no great plenty of money, took it in his head to rob her of the most early production of her garden, and by the sale of it procure those indulgences he could not otherwise afford himself; not being very nimble, he did not care to run the hazard of a surprise. After some preliminary flattery, which I did not comprehend the meaning of, he proposed this expedition to me, as an idea which had that moment struck him. At first I would not listen to the proposal; but he persisted in his solicitation, and as I could never resist the attacks of flattery, at length prevailed. In pursuance of this virtuous resolution, I every morning repaired to the garden, gathered the best of the asparagus, and took it to the Molard where some good old women, who guessed how I came by it, wishing to diminish the price, made no secret of their suspicions; this produced the desired effect, for, being alarmed, I took whatever they offered, which being taken to Mr. Verrat, was presently metamorphosed into a breakfast, and divided with a companion of his; for, though I procured it, I never partook of their good cheer, being fully satisfied with an inconsiderable bribe.

I executed my roguery with the greatest fidelity, seeking only to please my employer; and several days passed before it came into my head to rob the robber, and tithe Mr. Verrat's harvest. I never considered the hazard I run in these expeditions, not only of a torrent of abuse, but what I should have been still more sensible of, a hearty beating; for the miscreant, who received the whole benefit, would certainly have denied all knowledge of the fact, and I should only have received a double portion of punishment for daring to accuse him, since being only an apprentice, I stood no chance of being believed in opposition to a journeyman. Thus in every situation, powerful rogues know how to save themselves at the expense of the feeble.

This practice taught me it was not so terrible to thieve as I had imagined; I took care to make this discovery turn to some account, helping myself to everything within my reach, that I conceived an inclination for. I was not absolutely ill-fed at my master's, and temperance was only painful to me by comparing it with the luxury he enjoyed. The custom of sending young people from table precisely when those things are served up which seem most tempting, is calculated to increase their longing, and induces them to steal what they conceive to be so delicious. It may be supposed I was not backward in this particular: in general my knavery succeeded pretty well. though quite the reverse when I happened to be detected.

I recollect an attempt to procure some apples, which was attended with circumstances that make me smile and shudder even at this instant. The fruit was standing in a pantry, which by a lattice at a considerable height received light from the kitchen. One day, being alone in the house, I climbed up to see these precious apples, which, being out of my reach, made this pantry appear the garden of Hesperides. I fetched the spit- tried if it would reach them- it was too short- I lengthened it with a small one which was used for game,- my master being very fond of hunting, darted at them several times without success; at length was more fortunate; being transported to find I was bringing up an apple, I drew it gently to the lattice- was going to seize it, when (who can express my grief and astonishment!) I found it would not pass through- it was too large. I tried every expedient to accomplish my design, sought supporters to keep the spits in the same position, a knife to divide the apple, and a lath to hold it with; at length, I so far succeeded as to effect the division, and made no doubt of drawing the pieces through; but it was scarcely separated (compassionate reader, sympathize with my affliction) when both pieces fell into the pantry.

Though I lost time by this experiment, I did not lose courage, but, dreading a surprise, I put off the attempt till next day, when I hoped to be more successful, and returned to my work as if nothing had happened, without once thinking of what the two obvious witnesses I had left in the pantry deposed against me.

The next day (a fine opportunity offering) I renew the trial. I fasten the spits together: get on the stool; take aim; am just going to dart at my prey- unfortunately the dragon did not sleep; the pantry door opens, my master makes his appearance, and, looking up, exclaims, "Bravo!"- The horror of that moment returns- the pen drops from my hand.

A continual repetition of ill treatment rendered me callous; it seemed a kind of composition for my crimes, which authorized me to continue them, and, instead of looking back at the punishment, I looked forward to revenge. Being beat like a slave, I judged I had a right to all the vices of one. I was convinced that to rob and be punished were inseparable, and constituted, if I may so express myself, a kind of traffic, in which, if I perform my part of the bargain, my master would take care not to be deficient in his; that preliminary settled, I applied myself to thieving with great tranquility, and whenever this interrogatory occurred to my mind, "What will be the consequence?" the reply was ready, "I know the worst, I shall be beat; no matter, I was made for it."

I love good eating; am sensual, but not greedy; I have such a variety of inclinations to gratify, that this can never predominate; and unless my heart is unoccupied, which very rarely happens, I pay but little attention to my appetite: to purloining eatables, but extended this propensity to everything I wished to possess, and if I did not become a robber in form, it was only because money never tempted me.

My master had a closet in the workshop, which he kept locked; this I contrived to open and shut as often as I pleased, and laid his best tools, fine drawings, impressions, in a word, everything he wished to keep from me, under contribution. These thefts were so far innocent, that they were always employed in his service, but I was transported at having the trifles in my possession, and imagined I stole the art with its productions. Besides what I have mentioned, his boxes contained threads of gold and silver, a number of small jewels, valuable medals, and money; yet, though I seldom had five sous in my pocket, I do not recollect ever having cast a wishful look at them; on the contrary, I beheld these valuables rather with terror than delight.

I am convinced the dread of taking money was, in a great measure, the effect of education. There was mingled with the idea of it the fear of infamy, a prison, punishment, and death: had I even felt the temptation, these objects would have made me tremble; whereas my failings appeared a species of waggery, and, in truth, they were little else; they could but occasion a good trimming, and this I was already prepared for. A sheet of fine drawing-paper was a greater temptation than money sufficient to have purchased a ream. This unreasonable caprice is connected with one of the most striking singularities of my character, and has so far influenced my conduct, that it requires a particular explanation.

My passions are extremely violent; while under their influence, nothing can equal my impetuosity; I am an absolute stranger to discretion, respect, fear, or decorum; rude, saucy, violent, and intrepid: no shame can stop, no danger intimidate me. My mind is frequently so engrossed by a single object, that beyond it the whole world is not worth a thought; this is the enthusiasm of a moment, the next, perhaps, I am plunged in a state of annihilation. Take me in my moments of tranquility, I am indolence and timidity itself; a word to speak, the least trifle to perform, appear an intolerable labor; everything alarms and terrifies me; the very buzzing of a fly will make me shudder: I am so subdued by fear and shame, that I would gladly shield myself from mortal view.

When obliged to exert myself, I am ignorant what to do! when forced to speak, I am at a loss for words; and if any one looks at me, I am instantly out of countenance. If animated with my subject, I express my thoughts with ease, but, in ordinary conversations, I can say nothing- absolutely nothing; and, being obliged to speak, renders them insupportable.

I may add, that none of my predominant inclinations center in those pleasures which are to be purchased: money empoisons my delights; I must have them unadulterated; I love those of the table, for instance, but cannot endure the restraints of good company, or the intemperance of taverns; I can enjoy them only with a friend, for alone it is equally impossible; my imagination is then so occupied with other things, that I find no pleasure in eating. Women who are to be purchased have no charms for me; my beating heart cannot be satisfied without affection; it is the same with every other enjoyment, if not truly disinterested, they are absolutely insipid; in a word, I am fond of those things which are only estimable to minds formed for the peculiar enjoyment of them.

I never thought money so desirable as it is usually imagined; if you would enjoy, you must transform it; and this transformation is frequently attended with inconvenience: you must bargain, purchase, pay dear, be badly served, and often duped. I buy an egg, am assured it is new-laid- I find it stale; fruit in its utmost perfection- 'tis absolutely green; a girl, and she is tainted. I love good wine, but where shall I get it? Not at my wine merchant's- he will certainly poison me. I wish to be universally respected; how shall I compass my design? I must make friends, send messages, come, go, wait, and be frequently deceived. Money is the perpetual source of uneasiness; I fear it more than I love good wine.

A thousand times, both during and since my apprenticeship, have I gone out to purchase some nicety, I approach the pastry-cook's, perceive some women at the counter, and imagine they are laughing at me. I pass a fruit shop, see some fine pears, their appearance tempts me; but then two or three young people are near, or a man I am acquainted with is standing at the door; I take all that pass for persons I have some knowledge of, and my near sight contributes to deceive me; I am everywhere intimidated, restrained by some obstacle, and with money in my pocket return as I went, for want of resolution to purchase what I long for.

I should enter into the most insipid details was I to relate the trouble, shame, repugnance, and inconvenience of all kinds which I have experienced in parting with my money, whether in my own person, or by the agency of others; as I proceed, the reader will get acquainted with my disposition, and perceive all this without my troubling him with the recital.

This once comprehended, one of my apparent contradictions will be easily accounted for, and the most sordid avarice reconciled with the greatest contempt of money. It is a movable which I consider of so little value, that, when destitute of it, I never wish to acquire any; and when I have a sum I keep it by me, for want of knowing how to dispose of it to my satisfaction; but let an agreeable and convenient opportunity present itself, and I empty my purse with the utmost freedom; not that I would have the reader imagine I am extravagant from a motive of ostentation, quite the reverse: it was ever in subservience to my pleasures, and, instead of glorying in expense, I endeavor to conceal it. I so well perceive that money is not made to answer my purposes, that I am almost ashamed to have any, and, still more, to make use of it.

Had I ever possessed a moderate independence, I am convinced I should have had no propensity to become avaricious. I should have required no more, and cheerfully lived up to my income; but my precarious situation has constantly and necessarily kept me in fear. I love liberty, and I loathe constraint, dependence, and all their kindred annoyances. As long as my purse contains money it secures my independence, and exempts me from the trouble of seeking other money, a trouble of which I have always had a perfect horror; and the dread of seeing the end of my independence, makes me proportionately unwilling to part with my money. The money that we possess is the instrument of liberty, that which we lack and strive to obtain is the instrument of slavery. Thence it is that I hold fast to aught that I have, and yet covet nothing more.

My disinterestedness, then, is in reality only idleness, the pleasure of possessing is not in my estimation worth the trouble of acquiring: and my dissipation is only another form of idleness; when we have an opportunity of disbursing pleasantly we should make the best possible use of it.

I am less tempted by money than by other objects, because between the moment of possessing the money and that of using it to obtain the desired object there is always an interval, however short; whereas to possess the thing is to enjoy it. I see a thing, and it tempts me; but if I see not the thing itself but only the means of acquiring it, I am not tempted. Therefore it is that I have been a pilferer, and am so even now, in the way of mere trifles to which I take a fancy, and which I find it easier to take than to ask for; but I never in my life recollect having taken a farthing from any one, except about fifteen years ago, when I stole seven francs and ten sous. The story is worth recounting, as it exhibits a concurrence of ignorance and stupidity I should scarcely credit, did it relate to any but myself.

It was in Paris: I was walking with M. de Franceul at the Palais Royal: he pulled out his watch, he looked at it, and said to me, "Suppose we go to the opera?"- "With all my heart." We go; he takes two box tickets, gives me one, and enters himself with the other; I follow, find the door crowded; and, looking in, see every one standing; judging, therefore, that M. de Franceul might suppose me concealed by the company, I go out, ask for my ticket, and, getting the money returned, leave the house, without considering, that by then I had reached the door every one would be seated, and M. de Franceul might readily perceive I was not there.

As nothing could be more opposite to my natural inclination than this abominable meanness, I note it, to show there are moments of delirium when men ought not to be judged by their actions: this was not stealing the money, it was only stealing the use of it, and was the more infamous for wanting the excuse of a temptation.

I should never end these accounts, was I to describe all the gradations through which I passed, during my apprenticeship, from the sublimity of a hero to the baseness of a villain. Though I entered into most of the vices of my situation, I had no relish for its pleasures: the amusements of my companions were displeasing, and when too much restraint had made my business wearisome, I had nothing to amuse me. This renewed my taste for reading which had long been neglected. I thus committed a fresh offense, books made me neglect my work, and brought on additional punishment, while inclination, strengthened by constraint, became an unconquerable passion. La Tribu, a well-known librarian, furnished me with all kinds: good or bad, I perused them with avidity, and without discrimination.

It will be said, "at length, then, money became necessary"- true; but this happened at a time when a taste for study had deprived me both of resolution and activity: totally occupied by this new inclination, I only wished to read, I robbed no longer. This is another of my peculiarities; a mere nothing frequently calls me off from what I appear the most attached to; I give in to the new idea; it becomes a passion, and immediately every former desire is forgotten.

Reading was my new hobby; my heart beat with impatience to run over the new book I carried in my pocket; the first moment I was alone, I seized the opportunity to draw it out, and thought no longer of rummaging my master's closet. I was even ashamed to think I had been guilty of such meanness; and had my amusements been more expensive, I no longer felt an inclination to continue it. La Tribu gave me credit, and when once I had the book in my possession, I thought no more of the trifle I was to pay for it; as money came it naturally passed to this woman; and when she chanced to be pressing, nothing was so conveniently at hand as my own effects; to steal in advance required foresight, and robbing to pay was no temptation.

The frequent blows I received from my master, with my private and ill-chosen studies, rendered me reserved, unsociable, and almost deranged my reason. Though my taste had not preserved me from silly unmeaning books, by good fortune I was a stranger to licentious or obscene ones: not that La Tribu (who was very accommodating) made any scruple of lending these, on the contrary, to enhance their worth, she spoke of them with an air of mystery; this produced an effect she had not foreseen, for both shame and disgust made me constantly refuse them. Chance so well seconded my bashful disposition, that I was past the age of thirty before I saw any of those dangerous compositions.

In less than a year I had exhausted La Tribu's scanty library, and was unhappy for want of further amusement. My reading, though frequently bad, had worn off my childish follies, and brought back my heart to nobler sentiments than my condition had inspired; meantime, disgusted with all within my reach, and thinking everything charming that was out of it, my present situation appeared extremely miserable. My passions began to acquire strength, I felt their influence, without knowing whither they would conduct me. I was as far removed from actual enjoyment as if sexless. Sometimes I thought of former follies, but sought no further.

At this time my imagination took a turn which helped to calm my increasing emotions; it was, to contemplate those situations in the books I had read, which produced the most striking effect on my mind; to recall, combine, and apply them to myself in such a manner, as to become one of the personages my recollection presented, and be continually in those fancied circumstances which were most agreeable to my inclinations; in a word, by contriving to place myself in these fictitious situations, the idea of my real one was in a great measure obliterated.

This fondness for imaginary objects, and the facility with which I could gain possession of them, completed my disgust for everything around me, and fixed that inclination for solitude which has ever since been predominant. We shall have more than once occasion to remark the effects of a disposition, misanthropic and melancholy in appearance, but which proceed, in fact, from a heart too affectionate, too ardent, which, for want of similar dispositions, is constrained to content itself with nonentities, and be satisfied with fiction. It is sufficient, at present, to have traced the origin of a propensity which has modified my passions, set bounds to each, and by giving too much ardor to my wishes, has ever rendered me too indolent to obtain them.

Thus I attained my sixteenth year, uneasy, discontented with myself and everything that surrounded me; displeased with my occupation, without enjoying the pleasures common to my age, weeping without a cause, sighing I knew not why, and fond of my chimerical ideas for want of more valuable realities.

Every Sunday, after sermon-time, my companions came to fetch me out, wishing me to partake of their diversions. I would willingly have been excused, but when once engaged in amusement, I was more animated and enterprising than any of them; it was equally difficult to engage or restrain me: indeed, this was ever a leading trait in my character. In our country walks I was ever foremost, and never thought of returning till reminded by some of my companions. I was twice obliged to be from my master's the whole night, the city gates having been shut before I could reach them. The reader may imagine what treatment this procured me the following mornings; but I was promised such a reception for the third, that I made a firm resolution never to expose myself to the danger of it. Notwithstanding my determination, I repeated this dreaded transgression, my vigilance having been rendered useless by a cursed captain, named M. Minutoli, who, when on guard, always shut the gate he had charge of an hour before the usual time. I was returning home with my two companions, and had got within half a league of the city, when I heard them beat the tattoo; I redouble my pace, I run with my utmost speed, I approach the bridge, see the soldiers already at their posts I call out to them in a suffocated voice- it is too late; I am twenty paces from the guard, the first bridge is already drawn up, and I tremble to see those terrible horns advanced in the air which announce the fatal and inevitable destiny, which from this moment began to pursue me.

I threw myself on the glacis in a transport of despair, while my companions, who only laughed at the accident, immediately determined what to do. My resolution, though different from theirs, was equally sudden: on the spot, I swore never to return to my master's, and the next morning, when my companions entered the city, I bade them an eternal adieu, conjuring them at the same time to inform my cousin Bernard of my resolution, and the place where he might see me for the last time.

From the commencement of my apprenticeship I had seldom seen him; at first, indeed, we saw each other on Sundays, but each acquiring different habits, our meetings were less frequent. I am persuaded his mother contributed greatly towards this change; he was to consider himself as a person of consequence, I was a pitiful apprentice; notwithstanding our relationship, equality no longer subsisted between us, and it was degrading himself to frequent my company. As he had a natural good heart his mother's lessons did not take an immediate effect, and for some time he continued to visit me.

Having learned my resolution, he hastened to the spot I had appointed, not, however, to dissuade me from it, but to render my flight agreeable, by some trifling presents, as my own resources would not have carried me far. He gave me, among other things, a small sword, which I was very proud of, and took with me as far as Turin, where absolute want constrained me to dispose of it. The more I reflect on his behavior at this critical moment, the more I am persuaded he followed the instructions of his mother, and perhaps his father likewise; for, had he been left to his own feelings, he would have endeavored to retain, or have been tempted to accompany me; on the contrary, he encouraged the design, and when he saw me resolutely determined to pursue it, without seeming much affected, left me to my fate. We never saw or wrote to each other from that time: I cannot but regret this loss, for his heart was essentially good, and we seemed formed for a more lasting friendship.

Before I abandon myself to the fatality of my destiny, let me contemplate for a moment the prospect that awaited me had I fallen into the hands of a better master. Nothing could have been more agreeable to my disposition, or more likely to confer happiness, than the peaceful condition of a good artificer, in so respectable a line as engravers are considered at Geneva. I could have obtained an easy subsistence, if not a fortune; this would have bounded my ambition; I should have had means to indulge in moderate pleasures, and should have continued in my natural sphere, without meeting with any temptation to go beyond it. Having an imagination sufficiently fertile to embellish with its chimeras every situation, and powerful enough to transport me from one to another, it was immaterial in which I was fixed; that was best adapted to me, which, requiring the least care or exertion, left the mind most at liberty; and this happiness I should have enjoyed. In my native country, in the bosom of my religion, family, and friends, I should have passed a calm and peaceful life in the uniformity of a pleasing occupation, and among connections dear to my heart. I should have been a good Christian, a good citizen, a good friend, a good man. I should have relished my condition, perhaps have been an honor to it, and after having passed a life of happy obscurity, surrounded by my family, I should have died at peace. Soon it may be forgotten, but while remembered it would have been with tenderness and regret.

Instead of this- what a picture am I about to draw!- Alas! why should I anticipate the miseries I have endured? The reader will have but too much of the melancholy subject.

 

第一章

我现在要做一项既无先例、将来也不会有人仿效的艰巨工作。我要把一个人的真实面目赤裸裸地揭露在世人面前。这个人就是我。

只有我是这样的人。我深知自己的内心,也了解别人。我生来便和我所见到的任何人都不同;甚至于我敢自信全世界也找不到一个生来象我这样的人。虽然我不比别人好,至少和他们不一样。大自然塑造了我,然后把模子打碎了,打碎了模子究竟好不好,只有读了我这本书以后才能评定。

不管末日审判的号角什么时候吹响,我都敢拿着这本书走到至高无上的审判者面前,果敢地大声说:“请看!这就是我所做过的,这就是我所想过的,我当时就是那样的人。不论善和恶,我都同样坦率地写了出来。我既没有隐瞒丝毫坏事,也没有增添任何好事;假如在某些地方作了一些无关紧要的修饰,那也只是用来填补我记性不好而留下的空白。其中可能把自己以为是真的东西当真的说了,但决没有把明知是假的硬说成真的。当时我是什么样的人,我就写成什么样的人:当时我是卑鄙龌龊的,就写我的卑鄙龌龊;当时我是善良忠厚、道德高尚的,就写我的善良忠厚和道德高尚。万能的上帝啊!我的内心完全暴露出来了,和你亲自看到的完全一样,请你把那无数的众生叫到我跟前来!让他们听听我的忏悔,让他们为我的种种堕落而叹息,让他们为我的种种恶行而羞愧。然后,让他们每一个人在您的宝座前面,同样真诚地披露自己的心灵,看看有谁敢于对您说。‘我比这个人好!’”

我于一七一二年生于日内瓦,父亲是公民伊萨克•卢梭,母亲是女公民苏萨娜•贝纳尔。祖父留下的财产本来就很微薄,由十五个子女平分,分到我父亲名下的那一份简直就等于零了,全家就靠他当钟表匠来糊口。我父亲在这一行里倒真是个能手。我母亲是贝纳尔牧师的女儿,家境比较富裕;她聪明美丽,我父亲得以和她结婚,很费了一番苦心。他们两人的相爱,差不多从生下来就开始了:八、九岁时候,每天傍晚他们就一起在特莱依广场上玩耍;到了十岁,已经是难舍难分的了。两人心心相印和相互同情,巩固了他们从习惯中成长起来的感情。两人秉性温柔和善感,都在等待时机在对方的心里找到同样的心情,而且宁可说,这种时机也在等待着他们。因此两个人都心照不宣,谁也不肯首先倾吐衷肠:她等着他,他等着她。命运好象在阻挠他们的热恋,结果反使他们的爱情更热烈了。这位多情的少年,由于情人到不了手,愁苦万分,形容憔悴。她劝他去旅行,好把她忘掉。他旅行去了,但是毫未收效,回来后爱情反而更热烈了。他心爱的人呢,还是那么忠诚和温柔。经过这次波折以后,他们只有终身相爱了。他们海誓山盟,上天也赞许了他们的誓约。

我的舅舅嘉伯利•贝纳尔爱上了我一个姑母,可是我的姑母提出了条件:只有他的姐姐肯嫁给她自己的哥哥,她才同意嫁给他。结果,爱情成全了一切,同一天办了两桩喜事。这样,我的舅父便也是我的姑丈,他们的孩子和我是双重的表兄弟了。过了一年,两家各自生了一个孩子,不久便因事不得不彼此分手了。

贝纳尔舅舅是一位工程师:他应聘去帝国和匈牙利,在欧仁亲王麾下供职。他后来在贝尔格莱德战役中建立了卓越的功勋。我父亲在我那唯一的哥哥出生之后,便应聘到君士坦丁堡去当了宫廷钟表师。我父亲不在家期间,我母亲的美丽、聪慧和才华给她招来了许多向她献殷勤的男人。其中表现得最热烈的要算法国公使克洛苏尔先生。他当时的感情一定是非常强烈的,因为在三十年后,他向我谈起我母亲的时候还十分动情呢。但是我母亲的品德是能够抵御这些诱惑的,因为她非常爱她的丈夫,她催他赶紧回来。他急忙放下一切就回来了。我就是父亲这次回家的不幸的果实。十个月后生下了我这个孱弱多病的孩子。我的出生使母亲付出了生命,我的出生也是我无数不幸中的第一个不幸。

我不知道父亲当时是怎样忍受这种丧偶的悲痛的,我只知道他的悲痛一直没有减轻。他觉得在我身上可以重新看到自己妻子的音容相貌,同时他又不能忘记是我害得他失去了她的。每当他拥抱我的时候,我总是在他的叹息中,在他那痉挛的紧紧拥抱中,感到他的抚爱夹杂着一种辛酸的遗恨:惟其如此,他的抚爱就更为深挚。每次他对我说:“让-雅克,我们谈谈你妈妈吧”,我便跟他说:“好吧,爸爸,我们又要哭一场了”。这一句话就使他流下泪来。接着他便哽咽着说:“唉!你把她还给我吧!安慰安慰我,让我能够减轻失掉她的痛苦吧!你把她在我心里留下的空虚填补上吧!孩子!若不是因为你是你那死去的妈妈生的孩子,我能这样疼你吗?”母亲逝世四十年后,我父亲死在第二个妻子的怀抱里,但是嘴里却始终叫着前妻的名字,心里留着前妻的形象。

赐给我生命的就是这样两个人。上天赋予他们的种种品德中,他们遗留给我的只有一颗多情的心。但,这颗多情的心,对他们来说是幸福的源泉,对我来说却是我一生不幸的根源。

我生下来的时候几乎是个死孩子,能否把我养活,希望很小。我身上还带着一种生来的病根,它随着年岁而加重,现在虽然有时稍微减轻,但那只是为了叫我换一种方式挨受更残酷的痛苦。我父亲有一个妹妹,她是个聪明亲切的姑娘,她对我照拂备至,终于把我救活了。我写这本书的时候她还健在,不过已经是八十高龄的老人了,她还侍候着比她年轻、但因饮酒过度而损伤了身体的丈夫。亲爱的姑姑,我不怨你把我救转来让我活下去,我痛心的是,你在我年幼时费尽心力照顾我,而我在你的晚年却不能有所报答。还有我那位亲爱的老乳母雅克琳娜,她也健在,精神矍铄,身体壮实。在我出生时给我扒开眼睛的手,很可能还要在我死的时候给我合上眼睛。

我先有感觉后有思考,这本是人类共同的命运。但这一点我比别人体会得更深。我不知道五、六岁以前都作了些什么,也不知道是怎样学会阅读的,我只记得我最初读过的书,以及这些书对我的影响:我连续不断地记录下对自己的认识就是从这时候开始的。我母亲留下了一些小说,吃过晚饭我就和父亲读这些小说。起初,父亲不过是想利用这些有趣的读物叫我练习阅读,但是不久以后,我们就兴致勃勃地两个人轮流读,没完没了,往往通宵达旦。一本书到手,不一气读完是决不罢休的。有时父亲听到早晨的燕子叫了,才很难为情地说:“我们去睡吧;我简直比你还孩子气呢。”

这种危险的方法,不久便使我非但获得了极端娴熟的阅读能力和理解能力,还叫我获得了在我这样年龄的人谁也没有的那种关于情欲方面的知识。我对事物本身还没有一点儿概念,却已经了解到所有的情感了。我什么都还不理解,却已经感受到了。我接二连三感受到的这些混乱的激情,一点也没有败坏我的理智,因为我那时还没有理智,但却给我造成了一种特型的理智,使我对于人生产生了荒诞而奇特的看法,以后不管是生活体验或反省,都没能把我彻底纠正过来。

到了一七一九年夏季的末尾,我们读完了所有的那些小说。当年冬天又换了别的。母亲的藏书看完了,我们就拿外祖父留给我母亲的图书来读。真幸运,里面有不少好书;这原是不足为奇的,因为这些图书是一位牧师收藏的,按照当时的风尚,牧师往往是博学之士,而他又是一个有鉴赏力、有才能的人。勒苏厄尔著的《教会与帝国历史》、包许埃的《世界通史讲话》、普鲁塔克的《名人传》、那尼的《威尼斯历史》、奥维德的《变形记》、拉勃吕耶的著作、封得奈尔的《宇宙万象解说》和《死人对话录》,还有莫里哀的几部著作,一齐搬到我父亲的工作室里来了。每天父亲工作的时候,我就读这些书给他听。我对这些书有一种罕有的兴趣,在我这个年纪便有这样一种兴趣,恐怕只我一人。特别是普鲁塔克,他成了我最心爱的作者,我一遍又一遍,手不释卷地读他的作品,其中的乐趣总算稍稍扭转了我对小说的兴趣;不久,我爱阿格西拉斯、布鲁图斯、阿里斯提德便甚于爱欧隆达特、阿泰门和攸巴了。由于这些有趣的读物,由于这些书所引起的我和父亲之间的谈话,我的爱自由爱共和的思想便形成了;倔强高傲以及不肯受束缚和奴役的性格也形成了;在我一生之中,每逢这种性格处在不能发挥的情况下,便使我感到苦恼。我不断想着罗马与雅典,可以说我是同罗马和希腊的伟人在一起生活了。加上我自己生来就是一个共和国的公民,我父亲又是个最热爱祖国的人,我便以他为榜样而热爱起祖国来。我竟自以为是希腊人或罗马人了,每逢读到一位英雄的传记,我就变成传记中的那个人物。读到那些使我深受感动的忠贞不二、威武不屈的形象,就使我两眼闪光,声高气壮。有一天,我在吃饭时讲起西伏拉的壮烈事迹,为了表演他的行动,我就伸出手放在火盆上,当时可把大家吓坏了。

我有一个比我大七岁的哥哥。那时,他正学我父亲那一行手艺。由于家里人对我过分疼爱,对他就未免有些漠不关心,这样厚此薄彼,我并不赞成。这种漠不关心影响了他的教养。还不到放荡的年龄,他就真正放荡起来了。后来把他送到别的师傅那里去学艺,他依旧象在家里一样经常偷跑出去。我几乎根本见不着他。只能勉强说我跟他相识罢了:但我确实非常喜爱他,他也象一个顽劣少年能爱别人似地爱我。记得有一次,父亲生气了,狠狠地打他,我急忙冲到他们两人中间,紧紧地搂住他,用我的身子掩护他,替他挨打。我保持这种姿势。一动也不动,最后,父亲只好把他饶了;这也许是因为我连哭带喊,弄得父亲没办法,也许是不愿意叫我比哥哥吃更大的苦头。后来我的哥哥越来越堕落下去,终于由家里逃走,一去无踪。过了一些时候,才听说他在德国。他连一封信也没给家来过。从那时候起,就再没得到他的消息,这样一来;我就成为我父亲的独子了。

如果说这个可怜的孩子的教养从小被忽略了,他的兄弟可就不是那样了。即便是国王的儿子,也不会象我小时候那样受到无微不至的关怀和周围人们的钟爱;非常罕见的是,我是一个一向只被人特别疼爱而从来不曾被人溺爱的孩子。在我离开家庭之前,从来没有让我单独在街上和其他孩子们一起乱跑过,也从来没有抑制或放任过我那些希奇古怪的脾气,这些古怪脾气,有人说是天生的,其实那是教育的结果。我有我那个年龄所能有的一些缺点;我好多说话,嘴馋,有时还撒谎。我偷吃过水果,偷吃过糖果或其他一些吃食,但我从来不曾损害人,毁坏东西,给别人添麻烦,虐待可怜的小动物,以资取乐。可是我记得有一次,我曾趁我的一位邻居克罗特太太上教堂去的时候,在她家的锅里撒了一泡尿。说真的,我至今想起这件事还觉得十分好笑,因为那位克罗特太太虽然是个善良的女人,但实在可以说是我一生中从没有遇见过的爱唠叨的老太婆。这就是我幼年时期干过的种种坏事的简短而真实的历史。

既然我所见到的人都是善良的榜样,而我周围的人又都是最好的人物,我怎能变坏了呢?我的父亲,我的姑姑,我的乳母,我的亲戚,我们的朋友,我们的邻居,总之所有跟我接近的人,并不都是一味地顺从我,而是爱我,我也同样爱他们。我的遐想很少受到刺激和拂逆,因此我竟觉得我根本没有什么遐想。我敢发誓,在我没有受到老师辖制以前,从来不知道什么叫作幻想。我除了在父亲身边念书写字以及乳母带我去散步的时间以外,别的时间总跟姑姑在一起,在她身边坐着或站着,看她绣花,听她唱歌,我心中十分快活。姑姑为人好说好笑,很温柔,容貌也可爱,给我留下了极为深刻的印象,她的神情、目光和姿态,如今还都历历在目,她跟我说的那些惹人欢喜的话至今也还记得。我可以说出她那时穿的衣服和她的发髻式样,当然也忘不了她两鬓上卷起的两个黑发小鬟,那是当时流行的式样。

我对于音乐的爱好,更确切地说,我在很久以后才发展起来的音乐癖,确信是受了姑姑的影响。她会唱无数美妙的小调和歌曲,以她那清细的嗓音,唱起来十分动听。这位出色的姑娘的爽朗心情,可以驱散她本人和她周围一切人的怅惘和悲愁。她的歌声对我的魅力是那样大,不仅她所唱的一些歌曲还一直留在我的记忆里,甚至在我的记忆力已经衰退的今天,有些在我儿童时代就已经完全忘却了的歌曲,随着年龄的增长,又浮现在我的脑海中,给了我一种难以表达的乐趣。谁相信,家我这样一个饱受焦虑和苦痛折磨的老糊涂,在用颤巍巍的破嗓音哼着这些小调的时候,有时也会发现自己象个小孩子似的哭泣起来呢?特别是其中有一支歌,调子我清清楚楚想得起来,可是它那后半段歌词,我却怎么也想不起来了,虽然它的韵脚还隐隐约约在我脑际盘旋。这支歌的开始和我所能想得起来的其余几句是这样:  

我真没有胆量啊,狄西!

再到那小榆树下,

倾听你的牧笛;

因为在我们的小村里,

已经有人窃窃私议。

……一个牧童,

……一往情深;

……无所畏惧,

玫瑰花哪有不带刺儿的。

为什么我一回忆起这支歌曲,就产生一种缠绵悱恻的感情?这种奇异的情趣,我真是百思不得其解。然而,我怎样也不能把这支歌曲一气唱到底,而不被自己的眼泪打断。我曾无数次打算写信到巴黎去,请人设法补全其余的歌词,如果有人还能记得的话。但是,我几乎可以断定,假如我准知道这支歌曲除了我那可怜的苏森姑以外,还有别人唱过,那么,我这种一心要追忆这支歌曲的乐趣,恐怕就会消失大半。

这就是我踏入人世后的最初的感情;这样,我就开始养成或表现出一种既十分高傲而又非常温柔的心灵,一种优柔怯懦却又不受约束的性格,这种性格永远摇摆于软弱与勇敢、犹疑与坚定之间,最后使我自身充满了矛盾,我连节制与享受、欢乐与慎重哪一样都没有得到。

一次意外的变故打断了这种教育,其结果影响了我后来的一生。我父亲跟一个名叫高济埃先生的法国陆军上尉发生了一场纠纷,高济埃和议会里的人有亲戚关系。这个高济埃为人蛮横无礼而又胆小如鼠,我父亲把他鼻子打出血了。为了报复,他就诬告我父亲在城里向他持剑行凶。他们要把我父亲送入监狱,但是,依照当时的法律,我父亲坚决要求原告应和他一同入狱;这个要求被驳回了,我父亲只好离开日内瓦,让自己的余生在异乡度过;他宁愿这样,也决不让步:他认为若是让步,他一定会失掉荣誉和自由。

父亲走后,我的舅父贝纳尔就做了我的监护人。舅父那时正在日内瓦防御工事中任职。他的大女儿已死,但还有一个和我同岁的儿子。我们一起被送到包塞,寄宿在朗拜尔西埃牧师家里,以便在那里跟他学习拉丁文,附带学习在所谓教育的名义下的一些乱七八糟的科目。

两年的乡村生活,把我那罗马人的严峻性格减弱了一些,恢复了童年的稚气。在日内瓦,谁也不督促我,我却喜欢学习,喜欢看书,那几乎是我唯一的消遣;到了包塞,功课使我对游戏发生了爱好,它起了调剂劳逸的作用。乡村对我真是太新奇了,我不知厌倦地享受着它。我对它产生了一种非常浓厚的兴趣,这种兴趣一直没有减退过。此后,在我所有的岁月中,我一想起在那里度过的幸福时日,就使我对这些年代在乡村的逗留和乐趣感到怅惘,直到我又返回乡村时为止。朗拜尔西埃先生是个很通情达理的人,他对我们的教学从不马虎,但也不给我们过多的课业。他在这方面安排得很好,有两点可以证明,即:尽管我很不愿意受老师管束,可是当我回忆我的求学时代,却从来没有感到厌恶;我从他那里学到的东西虽不多,可是我所学到的都没有费什么力气就学会了,而且一点也没有忘掉。

这种淳朴的农村生活给我带来了不可估量的好处,我的心里豁然开朗,懂得了友情。在此以前,我只有一些高雅而空想的感情。共同生活在恬静的环境里逐渐使我和我的贝纳尔表兄相处得很亲密。没有多久,我对他的感情就超过了对我哥哥的感情,而且这种感情从来没有消失。他是一个身材高大而骨瘦如柴、十分孱弱的男孩。他性情柔和正如他身体羸弱,并不以自己是我监护人的儿子而过分利用家里对他的偏爱。我们俩的功课、游戏和爱好完全相同:我们都没有别的朋友,两人年龄相同,每个人都需要有个同伴;要是把我们分开,简直可以说是毁灭我们。我们虽然很少有机会表现出彼此间深厚的感情,但这种感情确已到了无以复加的程度。我们不仅是一时一刻谁也不能离开谁,甚至我们谁也没想象过我们会有分开的一天。我们两人的性情都是听两句好话便心软,只要人们不强制我们,老是那么殷勤,无论对于什么,我们的意见都相同。如果说,由于管教我们的长者的偏爱,我的表兄在他们眼里好象比我高一等,可是当我们俩单独在一起的时候,我又比他高一等,这样我俩就算扯平了。我们上课的时候,他背诵不出来,我就小声提示他;我的练习作完以后就帮助他做;游戏的时候,我的兴趣比他大,总是做他的辅导。总之,我们俩性情是如此相投,我们之间的友谊是如此诚挚,因而不管是在包塞或在日内瓦,五年多的时间我们几乎是形影不离。我承认,我们时常打架,但是从不需要别人来劝解,我们间的任何一次争吵从来没有超过一刻钟,而且我们也从来没有谁去向老师告对方的状。也许有人会说,这都是些不值一提的小孩子的事;不过,自从世界上有了孩子以来,这也许是个独特的例子。

包塞的生活方式,对于我太合适了,只要时间再长一些,就可以使我的性格彻底定型了。所有温柔、亲切、平和的感情,构成了这个生活方式的基调。我认为,世间再也没有一个人生来比我的虚荣心更小的了。虽然有时候我一冲动,心情会特别激昂,但我立刻又会陷入原有的颓唐。让跟我接近的人都爱我,乃是我那时最强烈的愿望。我的性情柔和,我表兄也柔和,连所有管教我们的人也都很柔和。整整两年里,我没见过谁粗暴地发脾气,也没受过谁的粗暴待遇。凡此种种,都在我心中培养天赋的素质。看到人人都喜欢我,也喜欢一切,我就感到极度的愉快。我常常想起我在礼拜堂里一时回答不出教理问答时的情景,朗拜尔西埃小姐脸上那种痛苦和不安的表情,使我特别心烦意乱。我在大庭广众面前答不上来,固然会感到羞愧和极端难受,但朗拜尔西埃小姐的这种表情则是唯一使我比羞愧更加难受的事。因为我虽然对于表扬没有什么感觉,对于羞耻却总是非常敏感的,在这里我可以说:我怕朗拜尔西埃小姐的责备远不如怕惹她难过那样厉害。

然而,她和她哥哥一样,在必要的时候也会严厉;但这种严厉差不多总是合理的,而且从不过分,所以虽然使我感到愁闷,但是我完全不想反抗。我觉得使别人不愉快比自己受责罚更难受,而看到别人一个不愉快的脸色比自己受到体罚还要难堪。要想把我的心情说得更清楚些是相当麻烦的,但这也是必要的。假如人们更清楚地看到,他们对待年轻人往往不加区别地、甚至常冒昧从事而使用的那种方法所产生的长远后果,他们或许会改变这种方法!我从这一既普遍而又不幸的事例中得出了重大教训,因而决定在这里加以解释。

期拜尔西埃小姐对我们不但有母亲般的慈爱,还拥有母亲般的权威,遇到我们应该受罚的时候,她有时也采用惩罚子女的办法。有一段相当长的时间她只是以惩罚来恫吓我们。受着这种在我看来是十分新颖的惩罚的恫吓,我觉得十分可怕;但是在她惩罚了以后;我却发现受罚倒不如等待处罚的时候那么可怕;而更奇怪的是,这种处罚使我对于处罚我的那位朗拜尔西埃小姐更加热爱。我发现在受处罚的痛楚乃至耻辱之中还搀杂着另外一种快感,使得我不但不怎么害怕,反倒希望再尝几回她那纤手的责打;只是由于我对她的真挚感情和自己的善良天性,才不去重犯理应再受到她同样处罚的过错。真的,这里边无疑有点儿早熟的性的本能,因为同样的责打,如果来自她哥哥,我就感不到丝毫快意。不过,按她哥哥的脾气来说,我是不怕他替妹妹动手的。我所以约束自己,免受惩罚,唯一的原因是怕招朗拜尔西埃小姐生气;这就是好感在我身上发挥的威力,甚至可以说,由肉感产生出来的好感所发挥的威力,而好感在我的心中总是支配着肉感的。

这个我不怕重犯却又远而避之的错误又发生了,但这不怨我,也就是说,我并不是有意要犯的,而且可以说,我是心安理得地利用了这个机会。不过,这第二次也是最后的一次,因为期拜尔西埃小姐说,她不再用这种办法了,这种办法使她太累了。她一定也从某种迹象中看出这种惩罚达不到自己的目的。在这以前,我们睡在她的房里,冬天甚至有几次还睡在她的床上。过了两天,她便把我们安置到另外一个房间里去睡了。从此以后,我就有了她把我当大男孩子看待的荣誉,其实我并不需要这种荣誉。

谁能想到这种由一个三十岁的年轻女人的手给予一个八岁儿童身上的体罚,竟能恰恰违反自然常态而决定了我以后一生的趣味、欲望、癖好、乃至我这整个的人呢?在我的肉感被激起的同时,我的欲望也发生了变化,它使我只局限于以往的感受,而不想再找其它事物。虽然我的血液里几乎生来就燃烧着肉欲的烈火,但直到最冷静、最迟熟的素质都发达起来的年龄,我始终是守身如玉地保持住纯洁。有一段很长的时间,我不知为什么经常用一双贪婪的眼睛注视着漂亮的女人。我不时在回想她们,但仅只是为了让她们象我幻想的那样一个个活动起来,叫她们一个个都变成朗拜尔西埃小姐。

甚至在我到了结婚年龄以后,这种奇异的癖好,这种一贯顽强、并且快发展到堕落乃至疯狂地步的癖好,也没有使我丧失我的纯洁的习尚,尽管它象是早该失去了。假如说真的有过质朴而纯洁的教育的话,那末我所受过的教育就是这种教育。我的三位姑姑不但是贤德典范的女人,而且她们身上的那种庄重典雅也是当时一般女人所没有的。我父亲倒是个喜欢玩乐的人,但他的情趣是旧式的,在他所爱的女人们跟前,他也从没讲过使一个处女感到害羞的话;在任何别的地方,我也没有见过象在我们家里,尤其在我面前那样,注意对孩子们应有的尊重。我觉得朗拜尔西埃先生对这个问题也同样注意:有一个十分和善的女仆,只因在我们面前说了一句稍微有些放肆的话,就被辞退了。在我成年以前,我对于两性的结合根本没有清晰的概念,就是这一点点模糊的概念也总是以一种丑恶而可厌的形象呈现在我的脑际,我对娼妓具有一种永难磨灭的痛恨。我每遇到一个淫棍,就不能不表示轻蔑,甚至感到恐怖,因为有一天,我到小萨果内克斯去,经过一条低洼的小路,我看两旁有一些土洞,有人跟我说,那些家伙就在里面野合,从那以后我对浮乱行为就是这样深恶痛绝。我想到这种人,脑子里又经常回忆到我所见过的狗的交媾,一回忆就觉得恶心。

由教育而来的这种先入为主的观念本身就能够推迟那种易于燃起欲火的天生气质最初的迸发,象我前面所说过的,我的肉欲初次露出的苗头在我身上所引起的规避作用对此也有所帮助。尽管我被沸腾起来的血液所冲动,可是由于我的想象只限于我过去的感受,所以我只知道把我的欲望寄托在我所已知的这种快感上,从来也未想到人们曾说得使我憎恶的那种快乐上面;这种快乐和我那种快感非常相近,我却丝毫没有理会到。在我愚妄的遐想中,在我色情的狂热中,在这种遐想与狂热有时使我做出的一些荒唐举动中,我曾运用想象力求助于异性,可是除了我所渴望获得的那种功用而外,我从来没想到异性还有什么其他的用途。

就这样,我竟以十分热情、十分淫靡和异常早熟的气质,度过了春情时期,除了朗拜尔西埃小姐无意中使我认识到的一些肉感上的快慰以外,从来不曾想过,也不曾有过任何别种肉感之乐;甚至在我年龄增长,到了成人以后,仍然如此,依然是原来可以把我毁掉的事物保全了我。我旧有的童年嗜欲不但没有消失,反而和另外那种嗜欲连结一起,使我怎么也不能从感官所燃起的欲望里把它剔除掉。这种怪癖,加上我生性腼腆,就使我在女人面前很少有冒险的劲头;原来我认为另外那种享受只不过是我所好的那种享受的终点,而我所好的这种享受,男方心里想而又抢夺不来,女方可以给而又猜想不到;既然我在女人面前不敢把什么都说出来,或不能把什么都做出来,当然我就灰溜溜的了。我就是这样过了一辈子,在最心爱的女人身边垂涎三尺而不敢吭声,我既不敢把我的癖好向对方说明,就只好用一些使我能想起这种癖好的男女关系来聊以自慰。跪在一个泼辣情妇面前,服从她的命令,乞求她的原宥,对我说来就是极甜美的享受;我那敏捷的想象力越使我血液沸腾,我就越象个羞羞答答的情郎。谁都知道,这种搞恋爱的方式不会有什么迅速的进展,对于被爱者的贞操也没有多大危险。因此,我实际上所获甚微,可是运用了我的方式,就是说运用想象力,我仍然得到很多的享受。我的情欲,配合上我那腼腆的性格和浪漫的心情,就这样保持了我的感情纯洁和习尚端正;假使我稍微脸皮厚一些,同样的癖好也许会使我陷入最粗野的淫欲里。

在我自动坦白的这座黑暗而充满污泥的迷宫里,我总算走完了最初的、最困难的一步了。最难出口的倒不是罪恶的事,而是又可笑又可耻的事。现在我心里已经稳定了,说出了我方才大胆说出的话以后,便没有任何顾虑了。根据我自白出来的事情,人们可以断定,在我一生中,有时在我狂爱的女人跟前激奋起来,甚至眼不能见,耳不能闻,神魂颠倒,全身痉挛,但从来也没有向她们说出我的怪癖,从来也没有在最亲密的情况下向她们恳求我需要的唯一的恩宠。这样的事从来也没发生过,只是在我童年时和一个跟我同岁的女孩子有过一次,不过那也是她先提出的。

这样追溯到我感情生活的最初事迹,我发觉有些因素有时似乎非常矛盾,但又连在一起,有力地产生一个同样而单纯的效果;我又发现有些因素表面看来都一样,由于发生了某些情况而形成完全不同的巧合,以致使人想象不出它们之间当初会有什么关系。譬如,谁能相信我灵魂上一种最坚强的力量,是从我那有着柔弱与嗜欲两种因素的血液的同一泉源里淬砺出来的呢?下面的事情并没离开我刚才所说的主题,人们却可以从中得出完全不同的印象。

有一天,我正在厨房隔壁的一间屋子里独自念书。女仆把朗拜尔西埃小姐的几把拢梳放在砂石板上烤干。在她来取的时候,发现一把拢梳有一边齿儿都断了。这是谁弄坏的呢?除我以外,没有别人到这间房里来过。他们追问我,我否认动过那个拢梳。朗拜尔西埃先生和朗拜尔西埃小姐一起来训诫我,逼问我,甚至还恫吓我,我始终坚决否认,然而,我的一切抗议都没有用,他们认定是我弄坏的,尽管人们从来没见过我如此大胆说谎。他们把这件事看得很严重,事实上也应该这样看。毁坏东西、说谎、硬不认错,似乎都应该受罚。可是这回却不是朝拜尔西埃小姐动手来惩罚我。他们给我舅父贝纳尔写了信,舅父来了。我那可怜的表兄也被加上另一种同样严重的罪名,我们两个人要受到同样的惩处。这次由我舅父动手的处罚可真厉害。为了以毒攻毒,彻底矫正我那败坏了的欲望,这可能是不能再好的方法了。所以,此后在很长一个时期内这些欲望没有再来干扰我。

他们没能从我口中得出他们所希望的口供,以后又逼问了好几次,弄得我狼狈不堪,但我毫不动摇,我宁可死,并且决心去死。结果,暴力面对一个孩子的“魔鬼般的倔强”(他们对我的不屈不挠找不出别的字眼来形容)让步了。我从这次残酷的遭遇逃脱出来以后,已被折磨得不象人样了,然而,我胜利了。

这件事差不多已经有五十年了,今天我不必再担心为这一事件而受惩罚了。那么,让我在上帝的面前声明:我在这件事上是无罪的,我既没弄坏那把拢子,也没有动过它,我不但没挨近那块砂石板,甚至连想都没有想过。大家不必问我这件东西到底是怎么弄坏的;我不知道,而且我也想不出道理来。我所确实知道的,就是我在这件事上是无罪的。

人们可以设想,一个儿童在平常生活里性情腼腆温顺,但在激情奋发的时候却是那样激烈、高傲而不可驯服。他一向听从理智的支配,日常所受到的都是温柔、公正、亲切的待遇。在他心里连不公正这个观念都没有,可是现在恰恰受到了他所最爱和最尊敬的人们方面的第一次不公正的磨难。当时,他的思想该是多么混乱!他的感情该是多么复杂!在他的心里,在他的脑海中,在他那整个小小生灵的精神和理智里又该是多么天翻地覆的变化!我所以要请读者们,如果可能的话,自己想象一下这种情况,是因为我那时是怎样一种心情,我自己也无力分析清楚和详细叙述出来。

那时我还没有足够的能力去理解表面的情况如何使我脱不开罪责,我也不会设身处地替别人想一想。我只能从我本身着想,我感觉到的只是:因为一个并不是我犯的过错,竟给我如此严厉的惩罚,实在太残酷了。肉体上的痛楚虽然剧烈,我并不觉得怎么样,我所感觉到的只有气愤、激怒和失望。我表兄的情况也跟我差不多,人们把一件无心的过错当作蓄意已久的行为来处罚他,因此也跟我一样怒不可遏,可以说,他跟我采取了一致行动。我们俩倒在一张床上,激动得不住颤抖,互相拥抱在一起,甚至喘不过气来。等到我们幼小的心灵稍稍平静了些,能够发泄我们的愤怒的时候,我们就起来直挺挺坐在床上,两个人一起用尽全身的力气,不停地喊:刽子手!刽子手!刽子手!

我写这件事的时候,还觉得脉搏怦怦跳动;即使我活到十万岁,这些情景也一直历历在目。这是我有生以来第一次对不公正和暴力的感受,它深深地铭刻在我的心上,以致一切和这种感受有关的观念都会使我的心情又象最初那样激愤起来;这种感受,一开始是由我自己身上而起的,以后它变得非常坚强并且完全摆脱了个人的利害关系,无论不公正行为的受害者是谁,也无论它是什么地方发生的,只要我看见或听到,便立刻怒发冲冠,有如身受。每当我在书中读到凶恶暴君的残忍,或是邪恶僧侣的阴谋诡计的时候,真有心不惜万死去把这些无耻之徒宰掉。有时我看到一只公鸡、一头母个、一只狗或是其他畜生侵害别的畜生,我往往会跑得满身大汗去追它,或用石块去砍它,唯一的理由就是因为它恃强凌弱。这种感情可能是我的天性,我也相信一定是生来就有的;但是,我第一次所遭受的不公正的沉痛回忆和我的天性密切融合得太久,因而这种天性更加增强了。

我那欢畅的童年生活就这样结束了。从那以后我再也享受不到纯洁的幸福了。就是在今天,我仍觉得我所回忆的幸福童年也就到这里为止。我们以后还在包塞住了几个月。在这期间,我们在那里,就好象人们所描述的亚当的情况那样,虽然还在地上乐园,但已不能再享受其中之乐:表面的环境虽然没有变,生活实际完全不同了。学生对于他们的教导者再也没有那种热爱、尊敬、亲密和信赖的关系了,我们再不把他们看做洞悉我们心灵深处的神灵了!我们做了坏事不象从前那样感到羞愧,而是比以前更加害怕被人告发:我们开始隐瞒、反驳、说谎。我们那个年龄所能有的种种邪恶,腐蚀了我们的天真,丑化了我们的游戏。田园生活在我们眼中也失去了那种令人感到惬意的宁静和淳朴,好象变得荒凉阴郁了;又象盖上了一层黑幕,使我们看不到它的优美。小花园也辍了耕,我们不再去莳花锄草。我们不再轻轻地去把地上的土掀开,发现我们撒下的种于发了芽也不再欢呼了。我们讨厌了这种生活,人家也讨厌了我们。舅父把我们接回去,我们就跟朗拜尔西埃先生和朗拜尔西埃小姐分了手,彼此都觉得腻烦,没有什么惜别之感。

我离开包塞以后,将近三十年的时间从没有一次愉快地想过在那里的光景,只觉得那里没有什么值得念念不忘的。但是当我盛年即逝,行将进入老年的时候,别的回忆逐渐消失,而这些回忆却重新浮起,深深地刻在我的脑际,而且越来越显得美妙和有力。我好象由于感到生命即将逝去而设法把它抓回来,再从头开始。那个时期的一点小事都使我喜悦,其所以如此,只是因为它是那个时候的事情。时间、地点和人物的情况,我都回忆起来了:女仆或男仆在屋子里忙着;一只燕子从窗户飞进屋来;我背诵的时候有一只苍蝇落在我的手上;种种情景历历在目。我清楚地记得我们住过的那个房间的一切布置;右边是朗拜尔西埃先生的书房,墙上挂着一张历代教皇的版画、一只晴雨表和一个大型日历。这所房子后面,是一座花园,地势很高,那里有许多覆盆子树,不仅树荫遮住了窗子,甚至有时树枝一直钻到窗户里面来。我很知道读者并不大需要知道这些,但是我需要把这些告诉读者。所有在这幸福岁月里的一些轶事,现在想起来还使我喜欢得跳跃起来,我有什么不敢向读者说的呢!特别有五、六件轶事应该讲一讲。让我们打个折扣吧。我给你删去五件,只谈一件;不过这一件,请允许我尽量把它述说得长一些,好让我延长一下我的快乐。

假如我只是讨你们高兴,我一定会选择朗拜尔西埃小姐露出屁股的故事,她不幸在草地边缘上跌了一跤,正好撒丁王从那里经过,把她整个屁股都看见了。但是土台上的胡桃树的轶事我更觉得有趣,因为我是这个铁事的演员;而在她跌跤的轶事中我不过是个观客;我承认,尽管那件事的本身很可笑,可是那时我还把她当做母亲看待,甚至比对母亲还爱,那件事只有使我惊慌,并不感到有什么可笑的地方。

啊,读者们,你们是想知道那土台上胡桃树的伟大历史的,就请你们听听它那惊人的悲剧吧,如果可能的话,请不要颤抖!

院门外边,进口处左侧有一片土台,下午大家常到那里去闲坐,但那里一点荫凉也没有。为了使它能有点荫凉,朗拜尔西埃先生叫人在那里栽了一棵胡桃树。栽这棵树时仪式相当隆重,我们两个寄宿生作了这棵树的教父。人们往坑里填土的时候,我们每人用一只手扶着树,唱着凯歌。为了便于浇水,在树根周围还砌了个池子。我和我的表兄每天都兴致勃勃地看着人们浇水,我们天真地确信:在这土台上栽一棵树比在敌人堡垒的墙孔上插一面旗帜还要伟大;因此我们俩决心取得这种光荣,而不让任何人分享。

为此,我们砍来一根嫩柳树枝子,也把它栽在土台上,离那棵雄伟的胡桃树大约有十来呎。我们也没忘了在我们那棵小树根下围起一个池子。困难的是没有水往里浇,因为水源离得相当远,人家又不许我们跑去提水。但是我们的柳树非浇水不可,因此,那几天我们想出种种诡计来给它浇水,成绩果然不坏,我们亲眼看到它发了芽,长出嫩叶来。我们不时地量一量叶子长了多大。尽管全树不过一呎高,但我们确信它不久便会给我们荫凉的。

这棵小树占据了我们的整个心灵,弄得我们干什么也不能专心,一点书也念不下去,我们简直就象发了疯。人们不了解我们在跟谁斗气,只好对我们管束得比以前更严了。我们到了真正缺水浇的严重时刻了,眼看着小树要干死,心里实在难受。可是急中生智,我们想出了一个窍门,能保证小树和我们免于一死,那就是在地底下掘一个小暗沟,把浇胡桃树的水给小柳树暗暗引过来一部分。我们积极地执行了这项措施,但是起初并未成功。我们把那个沟的斜坡做得太不合适,水根本不流,土往下坍,把小沟给堵死了,入口处又塞满了一些脏东西,一切都不顺利。但是我们并不灰心:“Omnia vincitlabor improbus”。我们又把小沟和小柳树根下的池子挖深了一些,让水容易流过来。我们把小箱子的底劈成小窄木板,先用一些一条接着一条地平铺在沟里,然后又用一些斜放在沟的两侧,作成了一个三角形的水道。在入口处插上一排细木棍,棍与棍之间留有空隙,好象一种铁蓖子或澡盆里的放水孔,可以挡住泥沙石块,而又能使水流得通畅。我们非常仔细地把这项工程用土盖好,并且把土踩平。全部完工的那一天,我们怀着希望和恐惧交织在一起的紧张心情等待着浇水时刻的到来。好象等了有几世纪之久,这个时刻终于来到了。朗拜尔西埃先生跟往常一样,来参加这项工作;在浇水的时候,我们俩老站在他身后,以便掩护那棵小柳树;最侥幸的是,他始终是背对着树,没有转过身来。

头一桶水刚刚浇完,我们就看见水流到我们树的池子里。看到这种情景,我们忘掉了谨慎,不由得欢呼起来,朗拜尔西埃先生因此回过头来,这一下可糟糕了!他刚才看到胡桃树底下的泥土大量吸收水分,认为是土质好,心里非常快活;此时,他忽然发觉水分到两个池子里去了,不禁吃了一惊,也大叫起来。他仔细一瞧,看破了诡计,立刻叫人拿来一把大镐,一镐下去,我们的木板就飞起了两三片,他大声喊道:“一条地下水道!一条地下水道!”他毫不留情地把各处都给刨了,每刨一下子都刨到我们的心上。一刹那间,木板、水沟、池子、小柳树,全都完了,全都被刨得稀烂。在这一段可怕的破坏工作中,他什么话也没说,只是不停地叫着“地下水道”。他一面喊着:“地下水道!地下水道!”一面破坏着一切。

有人也许会想,这件事情必然会给小建筑师们带来不幸,但他想错了,全部事件到此为止。朗拜尔西埃先生并没有说一句责备我们的话,也没有给我们脸色看,也再没跟我们提这件事;甚至过了一会儿,我们还听见他在他妹妹跟前哈哈大笑,他的笑声老远就能听得见。更怪的是,我们除了起初有点惊慌,也没有觉得太难过。我们在别处又栽了一棵树,我们也常常提起第一棵树的悲剧,一提起来我们俩就象背诵文章似地叫道:“一条下水道!一条下水道!”在此以前,当我以阿里斯提德或布鲁图斯自居的时候,曾不时出现过那么一种骄傲感。这是我的虚荣心第一次明显的表现。我觉得我们能够亲手筑成一条地下水道,栽一棵小柳枝来和大树竞赛,真是至高无上的光荣,我十岁时对事物的看法比凯撒在三十岁时还要高明。

这棵胡桃树以及同它有关的那段小故事,一直非常清楚地留在我的脑际,或者说时常浮现在我的脑际,因此当我于一七五四年到日内瓦去的时候,我最惬意的打算之一就是到包塞去再看一下我儿童时代游戏的纪念物,特别是那棵亲爱的胡桃树,它该有一个世纪的三分之一的寿命了。但是我那时一直有事缠身,不能自主,始终没有满足这种愿望的机会。看来这样的机会也不可能再有了。然而,我并没有因此而放弃得到这种机会的愿望;我差不多可以断定,假如一旦我能回到那心爱的地方,看到那棵心爱的胡桃树还活着的话,我一定会用我的眼泪浇灌它的。

回到日内瓦以后,我在舅父家里住了两三年,等待着人们对我前途的安排。舅父希望自己的儿子当工程师,他教给我表兄一点制图学,并给他讲欧几里得的《几何学原理》。我也陪着他一起学,并且发生了兴趣,特别是对于制图学。这时大家却商量着叫我做钟表匠、律师或牧师。我很喜欢做牧师,我觉得传道说教倒挺有意思。可是我母亲遗产每年的那点收入由哥哥和我一分,就不够供我继续读书了。既然我当时的年龄还不那么急于选择职业,就只好暂时留在舅父家里等待着,这几乎是虚度光阴,同时还得支付一笔虽然公平合理、数目却也实在可观的饍宿费。

我的舅父和我父亲一样,也是个喜欢玩乐的人,他也象我父亲一样不善于用义务约束自己,很少关心我们。舅母是一个稍带虔信派教徒作风的虔诚女人,她宁愿去唱圣诗,也不愿注意我们的教育;他们对我们几乎是完全放任,我们也从来不滥用这种放任。我们两人形影不离,互相帮助,无求于他人,而且因为我们从来不想去跟那些和我们年纪相仿的顽童们厮混,所以丝毫没有沾染上由于终日无所事事而养成的那种浪荡逍遥的习气。其实,我说我们闲散是错误的,因为我们一辈子也没有放闲过。值得庆幸的是,我们感到极为有趣的各种毫不间断的游戏,使我们在家里忙个不停,甚至使我们不想出门。我们自己作鸟笼子、笛子、毯子、鼓,盖小房子,作水枪、弩弓等玩具。我们也学我那位和善的年迈外祖父那样制造钟表,有时竟弄坏了他的那些工具。另外还有一种最喜欢的爱好,就是在纸上涂抹,起画稿,施墨,加彩,糟蹋颜色。有一个名叫刚巴高尔达的意大利江湖艺人到日内瓦来,我们去看过一次就不想再去了;但是,他有木偶,我们也就造起木偶来;他的木偶演一些喜剧式的东西,我们也就为我们的木偶编喜剧。没有变音哨子,我们就用假嗓子学那滑稽小丑的语声,来演我们这些动人的喜剧,我们那些慈祥的长辈们倒也都耐心地看,耐心地听。但是有一天,我的舅父贝纳尔召集家人朗读了他自己写的一篇动人的讲道稿。于是我们又丢开了喜剧,也写起讲道稿来了。这些琐事没有多大意思,我自己也承认;不过,这些琐事证明,我们最初的教育是多么需要很好的指导,才能使我们这些在那样幼小的年龄就几乎自己管束自己的孩子很少滥用这种放任。我们不太需要结交同伴,甚至有这种机会,我们也不重视。我们出去散步的时候,经常看到孩子们玩耍,但是并不羡慕,甚至也不打算参加。我们两人之间的友情足以使我们心满意足,只要我们两人能在一起,就是最单调的娱乐,我们也会感到喜悦。

由于我们两人形影不离,人们注意起来了;特别是我的表兄身材很高,而我很矮,这样的一对确是十分可笑。他瘦高个子,小脸儿象个皱苹果,神气柔弱、步伐无力,招得孩子们嘲笑。

人家用当地的土语给他起了一个绰号,叫他“笨驴”,只要我们一出门,就会在我们的周围响起一片“笨驴,笨驴”的喊声。他对于这种嘲笑比我更能处之泰然。我恼火了,想跟他们打架,这正是那些小流氓求之不得的。我跟他们打起来了,结果挨了打。我那可怜的表兄尽力帮助我,可惜他弱不禁风,人家一拳就把他打倒了。这么一来,我简直气疯了。虽然我脑袋上、肩膀上挨的那几拳的确不轻,但他们要打的并不是我,而是“笨驴”。我这种倔强的怒火反倒把事情弄得更糟,后来,只有在人家上课的时间,我们才敢出门,我们唯恐受到小学生们的詈骂和追赶。

现在我已成了打抱不平的骑士了。为了作一个象样的骑士,我需要有一位情人;我有过两位。我时常到尼翁去看我父亲,尼翁是伏沃州的一个小镇,我父亲已定居在那里。我父亲的人缘很好,连他的儿子也沾了光。我在他那里住的日子虽不多,看在他面上,所有的人对我都很亲切。有一位菲尔松太太更是对我万分疼爱,这还不算,她女儿还把我看作她的情人。一个十一岁的男孩子给一个二十二岁的姑娘作情人,人们当然会明白这是怎么一回事。所有这种非常机灵的姑娘们都很乐意把小洋娃娃摆在前面,以便把大洋娃娃掩蔽起来,她们很会运用手腕,造成一种令人着迷的假象,来诱惑那些大洋娃娃。在我这方面看不出她和我有什么不相称的地方,因此我对这件事倒挺认真;我把我整个的心,或者更确切地说,把我全副的脑筋都用在这上面了,因为,虽然我爱她已达发狂的程度,虽然我的狂热、兴奋、激昂做出了许多令人绝倒的趣剧,但我也只是在我那小脑袋里爱她而已。

据我所知,有两种完全不同而又完全真实的爱情,它们虽然都很强烈,但是彼此间几乎没有共同的地方;它们跟亲密的友谊也不一样。我整个一生被这两种风马牛不相及的爱情各占去一半,甚至我曾在同一时间亲身体验了这两种爱情。比方说,在我刚刚讲述的那个时期,也就是当我公然把德•菲尔松小姐据为己有、专横到不能忍受别的男子跟她接近的时候,我曾经跟一位小姑娘戈登小姐有过几次时间不长、但是热烈的幽会;幽会时,她好象老师对待学生一样对待我。全部经过,如此而已。虽然不过如此,但是实际上,我却觉得这就是一切,这就是无上的幸福了。我当时已经体会到秘密之可贵。虽然在使用秘密方面,我还十分幼稚,但是当我发现德•菲尔松小姐跟我定情,只不过为了遮掩其他风流勾当的时候,我便针锋相对地以同样的方式报答了她。这是她万万没有料到的。但我深感遗憾的是,我的秘密被发现了。也可以说,我的小老师并没有象我一样保守秘密。不久,人家就把我们分开了。又过些天,当我回日内瓦从库当斯路过的时候,我听到有几个小姑娘低声喊道:“戈登跟卢闹翻了。”

这位戈登小姐的确是一个不寻常的人物。她长得并不美,但她那脸庞是令人难以忘记的;我至今还时常想起它来,拿我这样一个老疯子来说,未免想得过分了一些。她的身段,她的姿态,特别是她那双眼睛都与她的年龄不相称。她那副小神气又威严又骄傲,倒很合乎她扮的那种脚色,也就是她那副小神气使我们想起演这种角色来。但是,她最奇怪的一点是,她那种大胆与端庄混合在一起的样子,是令人难以了解的。她对我肆无忌惮,我对她却丝毫不能随便。她完全把我当做小孩子看待,因此我相信,要未她已经不再是一个孩子,要末恰恰相反,她本人还是一个孩子,居然把面临的危险视为儿戏。

我对她们两人,可以说都是一心一意。而且我是那样全心全意,当我跟其中一个在一起的时候,心里从来不想另一个。不过,话又说回来,我对她们两人的感情却没有一点相似的地方。我就是跟德•菲尔松小姐过一辈子,也不会想到要离开她;但是,我接近她的时候,我的喜悦心情是平静的,决不会感情激动。我爱她,特别是在跟许多人一起谈笑的时候,打趣取笑,打情骂俏,甚至争风吃醋,都使我心花怒放,津津有味。我看到那些年岁大的情敌仿佛受到冷遇,而我独为她所垂青,便洋洋得意地自豪起来。我也曾被逗得愁肠百转,但是我喜欢承受这种苦痛。人们的赞美、鼓励和欢笑,又使我心头发暖,勇气倍增。我又发脾气,又说机灵话,在交际场里,我爱她爱得发狂;若是单独和她相对,我反而会局促不安,心情冷淡,甚至有些厌烦的情绪。不过,我对她是那样关心,当她生病的时候,我非常苦恼,我宁愿牺牲自己的身体使她得以恢复健康。请大家注意,由于我本身的经验,我是深切了解疾病和健康的意义的。一离开她,我就想念她,觉得非有她不可;而在和她相会的时候,她的那些爱抚使我感到甜蜜的是心灵而不是肉体。我跟她在一起有一种泰然的感觉;我除了她所给的一切,并不想得到更多的东西。不过,我要是看见她跟别人也是这样,那我是不能容忍的。我对她是爱若兄妹,妒如情郎。

至于戈登小姐,我每一想到她可能象对待我一样对待别的男子,心里就嫉妒起来,仿佛土耳其人、疯子或者老虎那样。因为她的所赐即便星星点点,我若不下跪也是得不到的。当我和德•菲尔松小姐接近的时候,我只感到欢喜,并不动情;但是,只要戈登小姐一出现,我便任何别的东西都看不见了,简直神魂颠倒。跟前者相处,虽然很亲昵,决没有什么放肆的地方;但在后者面前,那就完全相反了,即便是彼此已十分厮熟,我心里也是七上八下,忐忑不安。我觉得,假如我跟她在一起的时间太久,我的命都得断送掉,因为心脏的跳动准会把我活活憋死。对于她们两个,我同样害怕失宠;不过,我对一方是体贴备至,而对另一方则是唯命是从。把世界上所有的财宝都给我,我也不肯去惹德•菲尔松小姐生气;可是,如果戈登小姐命令我去跳火坑,我相信,我马上就会去跳的。

我跟戈登小姐的那些桃色事件——或者更确切地说,那些幽会——没有维持多久,这对她对我都算天大的幸事。我跟德•菲尔松小姐的交往没有发生同样的危险,不过,经过稍长的时间之后,也形成了一场悲剧的结局。这类事件的结局永远带有一些浪漫的气息,使人不禁为之感叹。我跟德•菲尔松小姐的情爱虽然并不炽烈,但是也许更加眷恋。我们没有一次不是挥泪而别,更奇怪的是,在分手以后,我便感到难堪的寂寞。我一开口,便会谈起她,我一沉思,便会想到她。我的伤感是真实和痛切的。不过,我相信,实际上这种英雄之泪决非完全为她而洒,在我的伤感中,对于以她为中心的那种玩乐的留恋,也占很大的成分,只是我没有理会这一点罢了。为了排遣离愁别恨,两个人写了一阵情书,词句之动人就是冷若岩石的人也会为之心碎。我终于得到了胜利;她再也忍耐不住,只好到日内瓦来看我。这一下子我更晕头转向了,在她小住的两天中,我简直如醉如痴。她要离开的时候,我真想她一走我便去投水自尽。我的号啕声久久停留在茫茫的太空中。过了一个星期,她给我寄来一些糖果和几副手套,假若我不知这时她已经结婚,她那次“光临”只是为了置办嫁妆而来的,那么,我一定会觉得她这种举动是多情的表示。当时我是何等愤怒,不用描述,就可想而知。我满怀崇高的怒火,坚决发誓,永远不再见这个负心的女子。我觉得这是对她最严重的惩罚。可是,她并没有因此而死去。二十年后,我去看我的老父。我们父子二人泛舟湖上的时候,我看见高我们的船不远,有一只游艇,上面坐着几个女人,我问那是谁。“怎么!”我父亲笑着说,“想不起来了吗?那是你当年的情人啊。现在叫克里斯丹夫人,就是从前的德•菲尔松小姐。”听到这个差不多已经完全忘掉的名字,我哆嗦了一下。不过,我马上吩咐船夫把船划开了。虽然这是一个相当好的复仇机会,但是我觉得犯不上违背誓言,跟一个年已四十的女人算二十年前的帐。

在没有确定我的前途以前,我少年时代的大好光阴便在这些无聊的琐事中浪费掉了。人们根据我的天性,经过再三考虑,终于给我选择了一个最不称心的职业。他们把我送到本城法院书记官马斯隆那里,叫我在他手下学习“承揽诉讼人”的行道,依照贝纳尔先生的说法,那是种有用的职业。我对“承揽诉讼人”这个雅号讨厌透了。我人格高尚,决不想用卑鄙手段去发财。天天干这行业务真是枯燥无味,令人难以容忍,加上工作时间又长,还得和奴才一样听人驱使,我心里就更不高兴了。我每走进事务所大门的时候,总是怀着憎恶的心情,这种心情日甚一日。至于马斯隆先生呢,他很不满意我,对我抱着轻蔑的态度。他经常骂我懒惰和蠢笨,他每天都喋喋不休地说:“你舅舅硬说你会这个,会那个,其实你什么也不会。他答应给我送来一个能干的小伙子,哪知道送来的却是一头驴。”结果,我以“无能”的罪名,很不光采地被赶出了那家事务所;照马斯隆先生的那些办事员们的说法,我除了使用钟表匠的锉刀以外,没有别的用处。

自己的天资经过这样评定以后,我就只好去当学徒了。不过,他们叫我去投靠的不是一个钟表制造匠,而是一个零件镂刻师。书记官的轻蔑态度实在把我的骄气压得太低了,所以我依命而行,毫无怨言。我的师傅,人称杜康曼先生,是一个脾气粗暴的青年人,在很短的期间里,就把我儿童时代的一切光华全都磨光了;他摧残了我那温柔多情、天真活泼的性格,使我不但在实际生活上、而且在精神面貌上变成了一个真正的学徒。我的拉丁文和我所学的古典文学和历史,都长期抛在脑后,我甚至记不起世界上有过罗马人。我去看我父亲的时候,他再也看不出我是他的“宝贝”了。在那些太太小姐们的心目中,我再也不是风流潇洒的让-雅克了。连我自己都确切地相信,朗拜尔西埃兄妹决不会认出我是他们的门生,因此,我真不好意思去拜访他们;从那以后,我永远也没有再碰到他们了。最低级的趣味、最下流的习惯代替了我当年可爱的娱乐,甚至使那些娱乐在我的记忆里连一点影子都没有了。我虽然受过良好的教育,但是,想必是我生来就有一种易于堕落的倾向,因为我丝毫没费力,转瞬之间便堕落到不可收拾的地步,就连非常早熟的凯撒,也不曾这样迅速地变成拉里东。

说起那行手艺本身,我并不讨厌。我非常喜欢打图样的艺术,挥动刻刀也觉得很有趣味。同时,在钟表制造业这一行里,镂刻零件,用不着有多么高超的技术,所以我希望在这方面能有卓越的成就。假如不是由于我师傅蛮横无礼,由于我所受的种种束缚,因而对这种工作感到厌烦的话,那么,我也许会达到这个目的了。我曾经背着他在工作时间内搞了一些虽然属于同样性质、但是对我那不受束缚的性格具有吸引力的东西。我镂刻了一些骑士勋章,供我自己和伙伴们佩戴之用。我师傅发现我私下里干这种违禁的活儿,痛打了我一顿,并且说我在练习制造伪币,因为我们的勋章上面刻有共和国的国徽。说老实话,我根本不懂得什么是伪币,就是对于真币,我认识的也不多。我对罗马的“阿斯”的铸造方法倒比对我们的三苏辅币更加熟悉。

由于师傅的暴虐专横,终于使我对于本来喜爱的工作感到苦不堪言,并使我染上了自己痛恨的一些恶习,诸如撒谎、怠惰、偷窃等等。这一时期我身上发生的变化,回忆起来,令我深刻地体会到,在家靠父母和出外当奴隶之间的天壤之别。我生性腼腆而懦怯,尽管可以有千百个缺点,但决不至于堕落到厚颜无耻的程度。在此以前,我所享受的正当的自由仅只是一点一点地缩小范围,而现在呢,它完全化为乌有了。跟父亲在一起的时候,我肆无忌惮;在朗拜尔西埃先生家里的时候,我无拘无束;在舅父家里,我谨言慎行;到了我师傅那里,我就变得胆小如鼠了。从那以后,我就成为一个堕落的孩子。当初跟长辈在一起的时候,我过惯了完全和他们一样的生活:没有一种娱乐我不能参加,没有一种佳肴会缺少我的那一份,我心里想什么,嘴里便说什么。而在我师傅家里竟变成怎样一个人呢?大家是一想便知的。因为在那里,我不敢张嘴;在那里,饭只吃到三分之一时候,就得离开饭桌,马上就得走出去;在那里,我是一天忙到晚,我看见别人有玩有乐,只是我什么也享受不着;在那里,主人及其狐朋狗友的逍遥放荡,越发使我感到受人奴役的重压;在那里,即便争论我最熟悉的事情,我也不敢张嘴;总之,在那里,我眼睛看见什么,心里就羡慕什么。为什么?只是因为被剥夺了一切。永别了,我的安逸生活;永别了,我的愉快活泼;就是从前我犯错误时候往往使我躲过责罚的那些聪明活,而今也休想再说了。有一件事情,我一想起来便不能不笑;某天晚上,在父亲家里,我因为淘气,罚我不吃饭就上床睡觉;当我拿着一小片面包从厨房走出去的时候,我看见并且闻到铁叉子上烤着一大块肉。大家站在炉灶周围;我从那儿走过去,不得不向他们每个人道声晚安。道完晚安之后。我向那块肉瞥了一眼。哎呀,它的颜色多么好看,它的味儿多么香啊!我不由自主地也向它鞠了一躬,用悲戚的声音对它说:“烤肉,再见吧!”这句灵机一动、脱口而出的天真无邪的玩笑话是那样逗乐,他们到底还是叫我一块吃晚饭了。在我师傅家里,如果这样做,也许可以产生同样的效果;但是,我相信,在那里,我从来没有过这种机灵劲儿,即便有,我也决不敢说出口来。

我就这样学会了贪婪,隐瞒,作假,撒谎,最后,还学会了偷东西——以前,我从来没有过这种念头,可是现在一有了这种念头,就再也改不掉了。力不从心,结果必然走上这条邪恶的道路。这就是为什么所有的奴仆都是连偷带骗,个个学徒都是连骗带偷。不过,如果后者处在与人平等、无忧无虑的状态,而所希望的又可以得到满足的话,那么,在他们逐渐成长的过程中,一定会丢掉这种不光彩的癖好。可惜我没有遇到那样有利的条件,所以未能收到良好的效果。

儿童第一步走向邪恶,大抵是由于他那善良的本性被人引入歧途的缘故。我在师傅家里已经待了一年以上,尽管经常感到手头拮据,不断受到外物的诱惑,但是,就连吃的东西我也没想偷过。我第一次偷东西本是出于一番给人帮忙的好意,不过,它为另外几次偷窃揭开了序幕,而那几次偷窃的动机却不值得赞扬。

我师傅有位伙友,叫做维拉,他家与我们为邻,稍远处有一个园子,园中种着最名贵的龙须菜。这时维拉手头不大宽裕。他想背着自己的母亲偷几颗刚刚长成的嫩小龙须菜,当作鲜货把它卖掉,换几顿好饭吃。他自己不愿意去冒这个风险,而且他手脚也不灵便,就选中我去办这件事。他首先恭维了我一顿,我当时没有识破他的用意所在,所以很容易就上了圈套。然后,他假装忽然想出这个主意,让我去干。我拒绝了好半天;可是他固执己见,又向我百般阿谀奉承,我抵抗不住,结果投降了。我每天早晨去割一些最好的龙须菜,拿到茂拉尔市场出售;市场上有位老太婆,她猜我是偷来的,便向我当面揭穿,以便贱价收买。我作贼心虚,只好凭她随意给价,然后我将钱如数交给维拉。这钱马上变成一顿饭菜,置办人是我,吃的是他和另外一个伙友。他给我一点小惠已经使我心满意足了,至于他们的酒杯,我摸都没有摸到。

这种小把戏我一直干了好几天,我丝毫没有想到偷窃一下偷窃者,即从维拉盗卖龙须菜的收入中抽个头儿。我实心实意干这种勾当,唯一的动机就是为了讨主使人的欢心。但是,假若我被人捉住的话,我要怎样挨打、受骂、大吃苦头啊,而那个坏蛋一定会说我诬赖他,别人也一定会相信他的话,结果,我便要以诬告之罪受到加倍的惩罚,因为他是个伙友,而我只是一个学徒!作恶的强者逍遥法外,无辜的弱者遭殃,走遍天下皆是如此。

这样一来,我才了解到偷窃并不象我原来想象的那样可怕。我对这门学问很快便登堂入室,凡是我想弄到手的东西,只要我力所能及,那就难保安全了。在师傅家里,我吃的并不算坏;我所以难以克制自己的食欲,是由于看到我师傅吃东西太没节制。每当端来美味珍馐的时候,他便把青年人赶下桌子,我觉得这种习尚是培养馋鬼和小偷的最有利因素。没有多久,我便兼任这两种角色了;一般来说,我总是得心应手,只偶尔被捉住挨顿苦揍而已。

有一次我偷苹果,付出了很大的代价,我一想起这件事情的时候,就感到战栗,也觉得好笑。那些苹果放在储藏室的最里边,那间储藏室上面有一个很高的格子窗,厨房里的阳光可以射到里面去。有一天。家里只有我一个人,我便登在案板上,向“赫斯珀里得斯苹果园”张望我所不能接近的禁脔。我把烤肉的铁叉子取来,看它是否够得着;不成,它太短了。我又找了一个小叉子(我师傅喜欢打猎,为了烤打来的野味,所以专门预备一个小叉子)接在上面。我扎了几次,都没有成功,最后,我到底扎上了一个苹果,这可把我乐坏了。我小心翼翼地往上拉,苹果已经接近格子窗户了。我伸手去拿。但是,多么叫人伤脑筋啊!苹果太大,从格子里拿不出来。为了拿它,我费了多少苦心!要使铁叉子不掉下来,我必须找个夹住它的东西,要切苹果,我必须找把相当长的刀子,在切的时候,又必须有一块托板。等万事齐备以后,我就开始切苹果,我打算把它切成两半,分别取出来。但是,我刚刚切开,两块苹果就都掉到储藏室地下去了。富有同情心的读者哟,请分担我的烦恼吧!

我并没有丧失勇气;不过,我已经浪费了许多时间。我怕冷不防被人逮住,只好等第二天再来作比较幸运的尝试。于是,我就好象没事人儿似地,干我的工作去了。至于储藏室里那两个不会保守秘密的凭证,对我是多么不利,我连想都没有想它。

第二天,我找了个适当机会,又作了一次新的尝试。我爬上我的楼板,伸出铁叉,对准苹果,正准备去扎……谁知道那个守卫龙并没睡着,储藏室的门叭哒一声开了。我师傅走了出来,两手一叉,瞪着我,对我说:“好哇!”……写到这里,我的手哆嗦得连笔都攥不住了。

由于经常挨打,我渐渐对挨打也就满不在乎了。后来我觉得这是抵消偷窃罪行的一种方式,我倒有了继续偷窃的权利了。我并不把眼睛向后看、看我挨打时的情况,而是把眼睛向前看,看我究竟怎样复仇。我心里想,既然按小偷来治我,那就等于认可我做小偷。我发现,偷东西与挨揍是相辅而行的事情,因而构成了一种交易,作为交易的一方,我只要履行我所承担的义务就行了,至于对方的义务,那就让我师傅费心去履行吧。在这种思想的支配下,每当我偷东西的时候,就比以前更加心安理得了。我对自己说:“结果会怎样呢?挨揍吗?管它呢!我生来就是为挨揍的。”

我好食而不贪,好色而不淫:由于别的欲念太多,这两种欲望就被冲淡了。非心闲时,我从来不思口福,而我平生又难得心闲,所以就很少有思考美味的时间。正因为这样,我才没有把我的偷窃伎俩长期局限在食物上,不久,我便把它扩展到我所希求的一切东西上面去了;后来我所以没有变成职业小偷,只是因为我一向不爱钱的缘故。在作坊的一端,我师傅另有一间私室,门老是锁着,我想了个窍门,把它打开,然后再人不知鬼不觉地把它关好。我潜入那个房间,征用了师傅的应手工具、精美图案和产品模型,凡是我所喜爱,凡是他有意瞒着我的东西,我都拿。说真的,这种偷窃是无辜的,因为我偷来的东西还是用在给我师傅干的活上;不过,由于我能够自由支配那些小东西,所以心里喜欢得不得了;我觉得,在偷师傅的产品时,仿佛连他的技术都偷来了。另外,在一些小匣里,我发现有碎金块、碎银块、小宝石、贵重物品和钱币。我呢,口袋里只要有四五个苏,就心满意足了,因而不但没有去摸匣子里的任何东西,就连贪婪地看上一眼,我记得也没有过。我看见那些东西的时候,我心里不是喜欢,而是恐怖。我深深相信,我对于盗窃金银财宝以及对于由此而产生的后果的畏惧,大半是由于教育的结果。另外一小半,是由于内心里交织着丢脸、坐牢、受罚、上绞刑架的观念,只要一起盗心,这些思绪便会使我不寒而栗;所以,我总觉得,我的那些恶作剧只不过是淘气罢了,实际上也正是如此。我认为,结果顶多挨我师傅一顿狠揍,这是我早就有所准备的。

不过,我再重复一遍,我渴望的那点儿东西实在有限,根本谈不上什么悬崖勒马的问题,我一点也不觉得有什么不好的念头要打消。对于我,一张上等图画纸比可以买一令纸的金钱具有更大的吸引力。我的怪癖是从自己的一种特殊性格产生的。因为这种性格对我的行动发生过巨大影响,所以我必须说个仔细。

我的欲望是非常炽烈的,每当它激动起来的时候,我的那种狂热是无与伦比的;什么审慎,恭敬,畏惧,礼节,我完全不管不顾,我变成一个厚脸皮的胆大包天的人,羞耻心阻挡不住我,危险也不能使我畏葸不前,除了我所迷恋的那件东西而外,我觉得天地虽大,却仿佛空无一物。然而,这只是一瞬间的事,过了这一瞬间,我又陷入虚无飘渺之中了。

宁静的时候,我简直是疏懒和懦怯的化身;无论什么都使我害怕,无论什么都使我沮丧;一只苍蝇飞过,都吓我一跳,哪怕一句话,我都懒得讲,哪怕一个手势,我都懒得做,我的畏惧和羞耻心把我拘束到了极点,我真想藏到谁也看不见的地方。在我非动不可的时候,我不知道该怎样动;在我非说不可的时候,我不知道该怎样说;如果有人注视我,我便张煌失措。在我热情洋溢的时候,我也能够说几句漂亮话,但是,在日常谈话中,我简直无话可说,甚至连一句话也说不出来;而我又非说不可,所以我遇到日常谈话就苦不堪言了。

再说,我的任何一种占有支配地位的欲念,都是不能用金钱收买的东西。我所追求的是纯洁的玩乐,而金钱会把一切玩乐都玷污。比方说,我喜欢美味,但是,我受不了高朋满座时的拘束,也受不了小酒馆里的放荡,我只能跟一个知已共享其乐;我不能独餐,因为独餐时,我便胡思乱想,结果就会食而不知其味。如果我心里焚起情欲之火,需要女人的话,那么,我这颗兴奋起来的心所更渴望的是爱情。凡是可以用金钱得到手的女人,在我的眼睛里,她们所有的动人之处,都会荡然无存,我甚至怀疑我是否还愿意跟这种女人在一起。我对于唾手可得的享乐都是如此。如果它们需要出钱买,我便感到索然无味。我爱的是那些只有我一个人首先尝到味道的东西。

我不但从来不象世人那样看重金钱,甚至也从来不曾把金钱看做多么方便的东西;金钱本身是毫无用处的,要享受它,必须把它变成别的东西:必须购买,必须讨价还价,必须时常受骗;虽掷千余,难遂所愿。我本想得到一件质地好的货色,但如果用钱去买,弄到手必然是一件劣货。我以高价买鲜蛋,结果是个臭蛋;我以高价购买成熟的水果,结果是个未成熟的;我以高价找个纯洁少女,结果是个淫荡的。我好美酒,但是到哪儿去找?到酒肆去吗?不论我怎样预防,结果我得到的还是伤身的劣酒。如果我非要称心满意不可,那便要操多少心,弄多少麻烦!我必须结识许多朋友,找代理人,送佣金,写信,东奔西走,伫候佳音,而结果往往还是上当。金钱金钱,烦恼根源!我怕金钱,甚于我爱美酒。

在我学徒时期和学徒以后的时期,我曾经千百次地想出去买点甜美的吃食。我走到一家点心铺门前,看见柜台那里有几个女人,我心里就想,她们又说又笑,一定是在嘲笑我这个小馋鬼呢。我又走到一家水果店门口,瞟着鲜艳诱人的梨,但是,有两三个小伙子就在旁边盯着我,我的一个熟人正站在店铺门前,我又看见有一个姑娘从远处走来,便怀疑她是不是家里那个女仆?由于我是近视眼,我产生种种的幻觉,我把所有的过路者都当成熟人了。总之,不管在那儿,我都觉得胆怯,都知难而退;我越觉得不好意思,瞅着那些东西就越眼馋。到末了,我只好象一个傻瓜似的,带着馋涎欲滴的食欲转回家去;我口袋里的钱虽然足可供我一顿美餐,但我不敢买任何东西。

在我自己或别人使用我的金钱的时候,我所经常感受到的困窘、羞惭、厌恶、麻烦以及其他种种的不快,如果必须把它们都—一写出来,那就得记一大篇枯燥无味的细账。但是,读者在逐渐了解我的生活的时候,一定会逐渐熟悉我的性格,因此,用不着我来赘述,他们便会了解前面所讲的一切了。

一旦有了这些了解,人们就容易明白我所具有的矛盾之一就是:对于金钱的极端吝惜与无比鄙视兼而有之。对于我,金钱并不是多么可人意的东西;当我没有它的时候,我决不想它;当我有它的时候,由于我不知道怎样使用才合我的心意,只好把它长期存放起来;但是,只要遇到适意的良机,我便顺手花掉,连钱包空了都不知道。不过,不要从我身上寻找守财奴的怪癖——为了摆阔而大手大脚地花钱;恰恰相反,我总是偷偷地花钱,其目的完全是为了自己的快乐;我决不以挥金如土来炫耀自己,而是尽量隐蔽。我深深觉得,金钱不是由我这样的人使用的东西;只要手头有几文,我都感到可耻,更不用说去使用它了。万一我有一笔足能让我过惬意生活的收入,老实说,我决不会当一个守财奴。我一定把这笔款子统统花光,并不用它生利吃息。可是,我的不安定处境使我害怕。我热爱自由,我憎恶窘迫、苦恼和依附别人。只要我口袋里有钱,我便可以保持我的独立,不必再费心思去另外找钱。穷困逼我到处去找钱,是我生平最感头痛的一件事。我害怕囊空如洗,所以我吝惜金钱。我们手里的金钱是保持自由的一种工具;我们所追求的金钱,则是使自己当奴隶的一种工具。正因为这样,我才牢牢掌握自己占有的金钱,不贪求没有到手的金钱。

所以说,我的淡泊不过是出于懒惰罢了。我觉得,有钱的乐趣抵偿不了求财的痛苦。我的挥霍也是出于懒惰,因为既然有了一掷千金的机会,谁还斤斤计较利害得失呢?对于我,物的诱惑力比钱的诱惑力大,因为在金钱和所希望享有的物品之间,永远存在着一个媒介物,而物品本身和享用之间却是毫无间隔的。我看到某一物品时候,它能诱惑我,而当我只看到获得该物品手段的时候,我就感觉不到这种手段的诱惑力。正因为这样,我才做贼,直到现在,我有时还偷一点儿我所心爱的小玩艺儿,我宁愿自己去拿,而不愿向人家讨。然而,在我一生之中,无论是孩提时代还是成人以后,我从来没有偷过人家的一个铜板;只有一次例外,那就是十五年前,我偷过七个利物儿零十个苏。这件事是值得一提的,因为它是无耻与愚蠢的巧合,假若当事者不是我,而是另外的人,我简直不会信以为真。

事情发生在巴黎:约下午五点钟,我跟德•弗兰格耶一同在“王宫”散步。他掏出怀表看了看,对我说:“咱们到歌剧院去吧!”我欣然同意,我们就去了。他买了两张池座,给我一张,然后,他拿着自己那张票一个人在前边走,我跟在后边。他先走进去了,我往里走的时候,发现门口已经挤得水泄不通。我向里边瞧了瞧,只见大家都在站着。我心想,在这样拥挤的人群中,我很容易被挤丢;反正德•弗兰格耶一定这样想。于是,我离开那里,交了副票,取了钱,走了出来。万万没有想到,我刚走到大门口,观众全都坐下了,德•弗兰格耶很清楚地看到我不在剧场里边。

这种行为跟我的天性完全背道而驰。我所以把它记载在这里,是为了说明人们有时陷入精神错乱的状态,在这种情况下,我们不能根据他们的行动断定他们的善恶。我所要偷的不是金钱本身,而是金钱的用途。不过越说不是作贼,就越寡廉鲜耻。

如果我把学徒时代从崇高的英雄主义堕落为卑鄙的市井无赖所走过的每个历程—一讲述,那就永远讲不完了。我虽然染上了学徒的种种恶习,但是,我对这些恶习未能产生丝毫兴趣。我讨厌伙伴们的那些娱乐。当我由于束缚重重,连对工作都感到乏味的时候,我便厌倦了一切。结果,我把久已放弃的读书癖重新捡了起来。我是占用工作时间偷着看书的,因此造成一种新的罪过,惹来一些新的惩罚。不过,我的读书癖越受到限制,兴致也越高,不久,就陷入狂热状态了。有一个有名的女租书商,名字叫拉•特里布,她向我提供了各种各样的书籍。好书坏书都行,我不挑选,什么书我都同样贪婪地阅读。我在干活的案子上读。出去办事的时候读,蹲在厕所里读,我经常一连几小时沉醉在书籍里。我读得头晕脑胀,别的事儿什么也干不下去了。我师傅窥探我,捉住我,打我,抢走我的书。有多少本书被撕毁,被焚烧,被扔到窗户外边去啊!拉•特里布的店铺里,有多少部残缺不全的文集啊!我没钱付给的时候,我就把自己的衬衫,自己的领带,自己的衣服给了那位租书商。我每星期日一定把师傅付给我的三个苏零花钱给她送去。

讲到这里,读者也许要说,金钱不还是必需的吗!说的对。不过,这是在我爱书成癖,不能进行其他活动的时候。新的兴趣完全征服了我;我除了读书而外,什么都不想干,连东西也不想偷了。这也是我身上的突出的特点:当我的某种爱好已经成为习惯的时候,一点儿小事就能使我转移目标,就能改变我,迷惑我,最后使我如醉如痴。于是我忘却一切,一心只想我所倾慕的新的东西了。我口袋里只要有一本新书,我的心就怦怦跳了起来,恨不得一口气把它读完,只要剩下我一个人,我马上就把它掏出来,这时,我再也不想上我师傅的私室里去乱翻了。我相信,即使我爱上什么更高价的娱乐,我也决不会去偷钱的。我只顾眼前,不顾未来。拉•特里布肯赊给我,押金很少。我只要有书放在衣袋里,其他一切就全都抛到九霄云外了。不管得到多少钱,我都原封不动献给那位女老板。当她向我催索欠款的时候,我便立刻拿自己的东西去抵偿,那是最简便不过的办法。偷钱以备不时之需,未免太有远见,偷钱还账也谈不上什么诱惑。

由于吵嘴、打架,由于偷阅选择不当的书,我变得性情孤僻,沉默寡言;我的精神也开始变坏,我过起真正落落寡合的生活来了。虽然由于我嗜书如狂,难免阅读一些平淡无味的东西,但是,我幸而没有阅读那些下流的淫书。原因倒不在拉•特里布这个八面玲珑的女人把这种书租给我有什么良心上的不安,而是每当她向我推荐那些淫书的时候,为了提高租价,总是摆出一副神秘的面孔。这种面孔一方面使我感到羞惭,一方面使我感到厌恶,因此,我每次都断然拒绝了。我的天性本来就腼腆,再加上机缘凑巧,所以一直到三十岁,我认来没有涉猎过任何一部上流社会的漂亮女人在读的时候都觉得难为情的坏书,这种书她们只能偷着看。

不到一年功夫,我把拉•特里布这家小书铺的书全读光了。此后,每当闲暇无事的时候,我就感到十分烦闷。但我的读书癖已经纠正了我那些幼稚无赖的恶习;我对书籍,虽然有时选择不当,而且其中常常有些很坏的东西,可是,凡是我所读过的书籍,在我的内心里,都比我的职业能唤起更高尚的感情。对唾手可得的东西,我感到厌烦,那些可能诱惑我的东西,我又觉得它们离我太远,于是找不到任何能够打动我的心弦的东西了。我的感官早已蠢蠢欲动,我简直想象不出它所要求的享乐究竟要达到怎样的目标。我对于这个真正的目标可谓一无所知,我仿佛是一个没有性欲的人。当我已经进入成年,春情不住发动的时候,我常常想起从前一些古怪的行径,然而,事情只此而已。在这种奇异的情况下,惶惶不安的想象把我从自己的手里拯救出来,平息了我那日益旺炽的欲火。经过是这样:我以沉思默想书中曾使我最感兴趣的环境来自娱,我追忆那些环境,我改变它们,综合它们;我要变成我所想象的人物之一,并使我所设想的那些空中楼阁恰恰适合我的身分。我总是把自己放在我感到最称心如意的地位。到了最后,我已完全处在我所玄想的环境中,竟至把我极端不满的现实环境都忘掉了。由于我喜欢这种空中楼阁,又容易到那里去神游,结果,我就讨厌起我周围的一切,养成了爱好孤独的性格,从此以后,我始终是一个爱好孤独的人。乍看起来,这种性格显然是极端恨世的,十分阴郁的,然而实际上,它是从一颗充满热情、善良、温和亲切的心产生出来的,而这颗心,由于找不到跟它相似的心,就不得不耽于幻想了。现在,我只指出这种癖好的起源与最初的原因就够了。这种癖好改变了我所有的欲念,并且因为这种癖好本身包含着欲念,就使得我热中于梦幻而懒于行动。

就这样,我到了十六岁。这时候,我心神不安,对自己和其他一切都感不满,对自己的工作毫无兴趣,我没有十六岁少年应有的欢乐,心中充满了茫无目的的欲念,我毫无原因地潸 然泪下,我无缘无故地喟然长叹,一句话,由于看不到自己周围有什么值得留恋的东西,我就只好寄情于玄思遐想了。每到星期日的时候,我的伙伴们在做过礼拜以后,就来找我跟他们一同出去玩。在未去以前,如果我有可能逃走的话,我是宁愿逃开他们的。不过,一旦参加他们的娱乐,我比谁都兴奋,比谁都跑得远。推动我是很困难的,叫我停下也不容易。我的脾气永远是这样。当我们到郊外去散步的时候,我总是跑在前头,除非别人提醒我,我连到时候该回去都忘了。我有两回不得不在城外过夜,因为在我回城以前,城门已经关上。第二天我受到怎样的处分,是可以想象的。第二次,师傅警告我说,如果下次再犯,一定严惩不贷,因此我下定决心不再冒险了。可是,这个万分可怕的第三次仍然落到了我的头上。米努托里队长是一个该死的家伙,当他看守城门的时候,总比别人提前半个钟头关城门。我虽然早有警惕,结果也毫无用处。那天,我跟两个伙伴一同回城。离城还有半里,我听见预备关城的号声响了。我两步并作一步走。我听见鼓声冬冬地响了起来。我拼命往前跑,跑得通身大汗,连气都喘不上来。我的心怦怦直跳。我远远看见那些兵士还在站岗。我赶紧跑上前去,上气不接下气地呼喊。可是已经迟了。我在离前卫二十步的地方,看到第一号桥已经吊了起来。当我看到号兵扬起可怕的号角的时候,我身上就哆嗦起来,因为这是凶多吉少的预兆,我那不可避免的遭遇就从这一刹那开始了。

我于万分悲痛中倒在斜堤上,嘴啃着地。伙伴们对于我的不幸只是觉得可笑,他们马上决定应该怎样做。我也确定了自己的方针,但是,我的方针跟他们的完全不同。我当场发誓,从今以后,再也不回我师傅那儿去了。第二天,城门开后,他们回城的时候,我就跟他们永远道别了。只是恳求他们把我的决定偷偷告诉我的表兄贝纳尔,并且通知他可以跟我再见一面的地点。

自从我当学徒以后,因为我住的地方离我表兄家较远,二人就很少见面了。最初,我们每星期日还聚会一下,但是后来,由于我们不知不觉地已经各有所好,两个人就渐渐疏远起来。我相信,这种变化大部分是他母亲促成的。他是上城区的子弟,而我这个可怜的学徒只不过是圣•日尔维区的孩子。尽管有亲戚关系,我们的身分是完全不同的。他跟我常来常往,那是有失体面的事情。不过,我们俩的关系并没有完全断绝。表兄为人憨厚,尽管有他母亲的训诫,他有时还是按照自己的心愿办事。他听到我下定决心以后,就跑来看我。他跑来不是为了劝阻我或者陪我逃走,而是为了送给我一点财物,以便减轻我出逃中的困苦,因为以我自己的财力,我是不能走出多远的。在他送给我的那些东西里还有一把短剑,我非常喜爱它,我一直将它带到都灵。在那里,穷困逼得我把它出脱了,变了钱好买吃食。后来,我越思量表兄在这紧要关头对我所表示的态度,我越觉得那一定是他母亲的主意,并且也许还有他父亲的主意。因为如果依照他自己的意思,他不可能不阻止我逃走,或者跟我同行。然而,他并没有这样做!看他那意思,与其说是在劝阻我,毋宁说是在鼓励我执行自己的计划。当他看到我已经下定决心的时候,他就跟我道别,眼睛里没有流几滴泪。从那以后,我们既没有书信往还,也不曾重新会面。真是千古恨事!他的脾气本来很好,我们俩是天生的一对知心朋友。

当我听天由命、远走高飞以前,让我这样考虑一下:假若我遇见的是一个比较好的师傅,我的前途该是什么样子呢?我觉得在某些行业里,特别是在日内瓦镂刻行业中当一名善良的手艺人,过那种平稳安定的、默默无闻的生活,倒是最合乎我的解性,能够给我带来莫大的幸福。干这种行业,虽然不能发财致富,但是温饱有余。它可以限制我此后的生活中不致有很大的虚荣心,它可以给我充分的闲暇来从事一些有节制的爱好;这样,我就可以满足于我的小天地,既不想也不能僭越雷池一步。我的想象力是非常丰富的,它足可以用那些绚丽的幻想来美化任何生活;我的想象力是十分强烈的,它足可以让我随心所欲地从这一幻想飞驰到另一幻想;至于我自己实际上究竟处在怎样的地位,我是不大在乎的。不论叫我干什么,我都能轻而易举地飞上我所臆造的海市蜃楼。我觉得,天下最简单的职业,最不必费心劳神的职业,最能够保持精神自由的职业,正是最适合于我的职业;而我的职业恰恰是这样一种职业。我本来可以听从自己的性格,在我的宗教、我的故乡、我的家庭、我的朋友间,在我所喜爱的工作中,在称心如意的交际中,平平静静、安安逸逸地度过自己的一生。我将会成为善良的基督教徒,善良的公民,善良的家长,善良的朋友,善良的劳动者,在任何方面都是一个老好人。我本来可以热爱我的职业,也许还能为本业争光,并且在度过虽然朴素微贱、但是既无风波而又安乐的一生之后,在家人的环绕中安然地瞑目。当然,大家很快就会把我忘掉。不过,只要有人想到我,他对我一定会追念不止的。

可是,事情偏偏不是如此……我给大家描述的将是怎样一幅画面呢?哎!先不要急着谈我身世中的那些惨痛境况吧,这种辛酸事,我将来向读者谈得只会太多而不会太少的。


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