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                       ——  外语解密学习法 逆读法(Reverse Reading Method)   解读法(Decode-Reading Method)训练范文 ——                 

解密目标语言:英语                                解密辅助语言:汉语
              Language to be decoded:  English             Auxiliary Language :  Chinese  

  
       
    

瓦尔登湖
—— [美] 梭罗

 

  Walden
by   Thoreau
iPad版(iPad Version)


       只看汉语(Chinese Only)                                                  英汉对照(English & Chinese)                                                 只看英语(English Only)       


    

Table of Contents

 

目录

Economy

经济篇

Where I Lived, and What I Lived For

  我生活的地方;我为何生活

Reading

  阅 读

Sounds

  声 音

Solitude

  寂 寞

Visitors

  访 客

The Bean-Field

  种 豆

The Village

  村 子

The Ponds

 

Baker Farm

  倍克田庄

Higher Laws

  更高的规律

Brute Neighbors

  禽兽为邻

House-Warming

  室内的取暖

Former Inhabitants and Winter Visitors

  旧居民;冬天的访客

Winter Animals

  冬天的禽兽

The Pond in Winter

  冬天的湖

Spring

  春 天

Conclusion

  结束语






Economy

When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.

I should not obtrude my affairs so much on the notice of my readers if very particular inquiries had not been made by my townsmen concerning my mode of life, which some would call impertinent, though they do not appear to me at all impertinent, but, considering the circumstances, very natural and pertinent. Some have asked what I got to eat; if I did not feel lonesome; if I was not afraid; and the like. Others have been curious to learn what portion of my income I devoted to charitable purposes; and some, who have large families, how many poor children I maintained. I will therefore ask those of my readers who feel no particular interest in me to pardon me if I undertake to answer some of these questions in this book. In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience. Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men's lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land; for if he has lived sincerely, it must have been in a distant land to me. Perhaps these pages are more particularly addressed to poor students. As for the rest of my readers, they will accept such portions as apply to them. I trust that none will stretch the seams in putting on the coat, for it may do good service to him whom it fits.

I would fain say something, not so much concerning the Chinese and Sandwich Islanders as you who read these pages, who are said to live in New England; something about your condition, especially your outward condition or circumstances in this world, in this town, what it is, whether it is necessary that it be as bad as it is, whether it cannot be improved as well as not. I have travelled a good deal in Concord; and everywhere, in shops, and offices, and fields, the inhabitants have appeared to me to be doing penance in a thousand remarkable ways. What I have heard of Bramins sitting exposed to four fires and looking in the face of the sun; or hanging suspended, with their heads downward, over flames; or looking at the heavens over their shoulders "until it becomes impossible for them to resume their natural position, while from the twist of the neck nothing but liquids can pass into the stomach"; or dwelling, chained for life, at the foot of a tree; or measuring with their bodies, like caterpillars, the breadth of vast empires; or standing on one leg on the tops of pillars—even these forms of conscious penance are hardly more incredible and astonishing than the scenes which I daily witness. The twelve labors of Hercules were trifling in comparison with those which my neighbors have undertaken; for they were only twelve, and had an end; but I could never see that these men slew or captured any monster or finished any labor. They have no friend Iolaus to burn with a hot iron the root of the hydra's head, but as soon as one head is crushed, two spring up.

I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired than got rid of. Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in. Who made them serfs of the soil? Why should they eat their sixty acres, when man is condemned to eat only his peck of dirt? Why should they begin digging their graves as soon as they are born? They have got to live a man's life, pushing all these things before them, and get on as well as they can. How many a poor immortal soul have I met well-nigh crushed and smothered under its load, creeping down the road of life, pushing before it a barn seventy-five feet by forty, its Augean stables never cleansed, and one hundred acres of land, tillage, mowing, pasture, and woodlot! The portionless, who struggle with no such unnecessary inherited encumbrances, find it labor enough to subdue and cultivate a few cubic feet of flesh.

But men labor under a mistake. The better part of the man is soon plowed into the soil for compost. By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal. It is a fool's life, as they will find when they get to the end of it, if not before. It is said that Deucalion and Pyrrha created men by throwing stones over their heads behind them:—

Inde genus durum sumus, experiensque laborum,
 Et documenta damus qua simus origine nati.

Or, as Raleigh rhymes it in his sonorous way,—

  "From thence our kind hard-hearted is, 
   enduring pain and care,
   Approving that our bodies of a stony nature are."

So much for a blind obedience to a blundering oracle, throwing the stones over their heads behind them, and not seeing where they fell.

Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them. Their fingers, from excessive toil, are too clumsy and tremble too much for that. Actually, the laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to men; his labor would be depreciated in the market. He has no time to be anything but a machine. How can he remember well his ignorance—which his growth requires—who has so often to use his knowledge? We should feed and clothe him gratuitously sometimes, and recruit him with our cordials, before we judge of him. The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly.

Some of you, we all know, are poor, find it hard to live, are sometimes, as it were, gasping for breath. I have no doubt that some of you who read this book are unable to pay for all the dinners which you have actually eaten, or for the coats and shoes which are fast wearing or are already worn out, and have come to this page to spend borrowed or stolen time, robbing your creditors of an hour. It is very evident what mean and sneaking lives many of you live, for my sight has been whetted by experience; always on the limits, trying to get into business and trying to get out of debt, a very ancient slough, called by the Latins aes alienum, another's brass, for some of their coins were made of brass; still living, and dying, and buried by this other's brass; always promising to pay, promising to pay, tomorrow, and dying today, insolvent; seeking to curry favor, to get custom, by how many modes, only not state-prison offenses; lying, flattering, voting, contracting yourselves into a nutshell of civility or dilating into an atmosphere of thin and vaporous generosity, that you may persuade your neighbor to let you make his shoes, or his hat, or his coat, or his carriage, or import his groceries for him; making yourselves sick, that you may lay up something against a sick day, something to be tucked away in an old chest, or in a stocking behind the plastering, or, more safely, in the brick bank; no matter where, no matter how much or how little.

I sometimes wonder that we can be so frivolous, I may almost say, as to attend to the gross but somewhat foreign form of servitude called Negro Slavery, there are so many keen and subtle masters that enslave both North and South. It is hard to have a Southern overseer; it is worse to have a Northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself. Talk of a divinity in man! Look at the teamster on the highway, wending to market by day or night; does any divinity stir within him? His highest duty to fodder and water his horses! What is his destiny to him compared with the shipping interests? Does not he drive for Squire Make-a-stir? How godlike, how immortal, is he? See how he cowers and sneaks, how vaguely all the day he fears, not being immortal nor divine, but the slave and prisoner of his own opinion of himself, a fame won by his own deeds. Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate. Self-emancipation even in the West Indian provinces of the fancy and imagination—what Wilberforce is there to bring that about? Think, also, of the ladies of the land weaving toilet cushions against the last day, not to betray too green an interest in their fates! As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

When we consider what, to use the words of the catechism, is the chief end of man, and what are the true necessaries and means of life, it appears as if men had deliberately chosen the common mode of living because they preferred it to any other. Yet they honestly think there is no choice left. But alert and healthy natures remember that the sun rose clear. It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn out to be falsehood to-morrow, mere smoke of opinion, which some had trusted for a cloud that would sprinkle fertilizing rain on their fields. What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new. Old people did not know enough once, perchance, to fetch fresh fuel to keep the fire a-going; new people put a little dry wood under a pot, and are whirled round the globe with the speed of birds, in a way to kill old people, as the phrase is. Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost. One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living. Practically, the old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial, and their lives have been such miserable failures, for private reasons, as they must believe; and it may be that they have some faith left which belies that experience, and they are only less young than they were. I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me anything to the purpose. Here is life, an experiment to a great extent untried by me; but it does not avail me that they have tried it. If I have any experience which I think valuable, I am sure to reflect that this my Mentors said nothing about.

One farmer says to me, "You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make bones with"; and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying his system with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle. Some things are really necessaries of life in some circles, the most helpless and diseased, which in others are luxuries merely, and in others still are entirely unknown.

The whole ground of human life seems to some to have been gone over by their predecessors, both the heights and the valleys, and all things to have been cared for. According to Evelyn, "the wise Solomon prescribed ordinances for the very distances of trees; and the Roman prætors have decided how often you may go into your neighbor's land to gather the acorns which fall on it without trespass, and what share belongs to that neighbor." Hippocrates has even left directions how we should cut our nails; that is, even with the ends of the fingers, neither shorter nor longer. Undoubtedly the very tedium and ennui which presume to have exhausted the variety and the joys of life are as old as Adam. But man's capacities have never been measured; nor are we to judge of what he can do by any precedents, so little has been tried. Whatever have been thy failures hitherto, "be not afflicted, my child, for who shall assign to thee what thou hast left undone?"

We might try our lives by a thousand simple tests; as, for instance, that the same sun which ripens my beans illumines at once a system of earths like ours. If I had remembered this it would have prevented some mistakes. This was not the light in which I hoed them. The stars are the apexes of what wonderful triangles! What distant and different beings in the various mansions of the universe are contemplating the same one at the same moment! Nature and human life are as various as our several constitutions. Who shall say what prospect life offers to another? Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant? We should live in all the ages of the world in an hour; ay, in all the worlds of the ages. History, Poetry, Mythology!—I know of no reading of another's experience so startling and informing as this would be.

The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well? You may say the wisest thing you can, old man—you who have lived seventy years, not without honor of a kind—I hear an irresistible voice which invites me away from all that. One generation abandons the enterprises of another like stranded vessels.

I think that we may safely trust a good deal more than we do. We may waive just so much care of ourselves as we honestly bestow elsewhere. Nature is as well adapted to our weakness as to our strength. The incessant anxiety and strain of some is a well-nigh incurable form of disease. We are made to exaggerate the importance of what work we do; and yet how much is not done by us! or, what if we had been taken sick? How vigilant we are! determined not to live by faith if we can avoid it; all the day long on the alert, at night we unwillingly say our prayers and commit ourselves to uncertainties. So thoroughly and sincerely are we compelled to live, reverencing our life, and denying the possibility of change. This is the only way, we say; but there are as many ways as there can be drawn radii from one centre. All change is a miracle to contemplate; but it is a miracle which is taking place every instant. Confucius said, "To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge." When one man has reduced a fact of the imagination to be a fact to his understanding, I foresee that all men at length establish their lives on that basis.

Let us consider for a moment what most of the trouble and anxiety which I have referred to is about, and how much it is necessary that we be troubled, or at least careful. It would be some advantage to live a primitive and frontier life, though in the midst of an outward civilization, if only to learn what are the gross necessaries of life and what methods have been taken to obtain them; or even to look over the old day-books of the merchants, to see what it was that men most commonly bought at the stores, what they stored, that is, what are the grossest groceries. For the improvements of ages have had but little influence on the essential laws of man's existence; as our skeletons, probably, are not to be distinguished from those of our ancestors.

By the words, necessary of life, I mean whatever, of all that man obtains by his own exertions, has been from the first, or from long use has become, so important to human life that few, if any, whether from savageness, or poverty, or philosophy, ever attempt to do without it. To many creatures there is in this sense but one necessary of life, Food. To the bison of the prairie it is a few inches of palatable grass, with water to drink; unless he seeks the Shelter of the forest or the mountain's shadow. None of the brute creation requires more than Food and Shelter. The necessaries of life for man in this climate may, accurately enough, be distributed under the several heads of Food, Shelter, Clothing, and Fuel; for not till we have secured these are we prepared to entertain the true problems of life with freedom and a prospect of success. Man has invented, not only houses, but clothes and cooked food; and possibly from the accidental discovery of the warmth of fire, and the consequent use of it, at first a luxury, arose the present necessity to sit by it. We observe cats and dogs acquiring the same second nature. By proper Shelter and Clothing we legitimately retain our own internal heat; but with an excess of these, or of Fuel, that is, with an external heat greater than our own internal, may not cookery properly be said to begin? Darwin, the naturalist, says of the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego, that while his own party, who were well clothed and sitting close to a fire, were far from too warm, these naked savages, who were farther off, were observed, to his great surprise, "to be streaming with perspiration at undergoing such a roasting." So, we are told, the New Hollander goes naked with impunity, while the European shivers in his clothes. Is it impossible to combine the hardiness of these savages with the intellectualness of the civilized man? According to Liebig, man's body is a stove, and food the fuel which keeps up the internal combustion in the lungs. In cold weather we eat more, in warm less. The animal heat is the result of a slow combustion, and disease and death take place when this is too rapid; or for want of fuel, or from some defect in the draught, the fire goes out. Of course the vital heat is not to be confounded with fire; but so much for analogy. It appears, therefore, from the above list, that the expression, animal life, is nearly synonymous with the expression, animal heat; for while Food may be regarded as the Fuel which keeps up the fire within us—and Fuel serves only to prepare that Food or to increase the warmth of our bodies by addition from without—Shelter and Clothing also serve only to retain the heat thus generated and absorbed.

The grand necessity, then, for our bodies, is to keep warm, to keep the vital heat in us. What pains we accordingly take, not only with our Food, and Clothing, and Shelter, but with our beds, which are our night-clothes, robbing the nests and breasts of birds to prepare this shelter within a shelter, as the mole has its bed of grass and leaves at the end of its burrow! The poor man is wont to complain that this is a cold world; and to cold, no less physical than social, we refer directly a great part of our ails. The summer, in some climates, makes possible to man a sort of Elysian life. Fuel, except to cook his Food, is then unnecessary; the sun is his fire, and many of the fruits are sufficiently cooked by its rays; while Food generally is more various, and more easily obtained, and Clothing and Shelter are wholly or half unnecessary. At the present day, and in this country, as I find by my own experience, a few implements, a knife, an axe, a spade, a wheelbarrow, etc., and for the studious, lamplight, stationery, and access to a few books, rank next to necessaries, and can all be obtained at a trifling cost. Yet some, not wise, go to the other side of the globe, to barbarous and unhealthy regions, and devote themselves to trade for ten or twenty years, in order that they may live—that is, keep comfortably warm—and die in New England at last. The luxuriously rich are not simply kept comfortably warm, but unnaturally hot; as I implied before, they are cooked, of course à la mode.

Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor. The ancient philosophers, Chinese, Hindoo, Persian, and Greek, were a class than which none has been poorer in outward riches, none so rich in inward. We know not much about them. It is remarkable that we know so much of them as we do. The same is true of the more modern reformers and benefactors of their race. None can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty. Of a life of luxury the fruit is luxury, whether in agriculture, or commerce, or literature, or art. There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers. Yet it is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live. To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically. The success of great scholars and thinkers is commonly a courtier-like success, not kingly, not manly. They make shift to live merely by conformity, practically as their fathers did, and are in no sense the progenitors of a noble race of men. But why do men degenerate ever? What makes families run out? What is the nature of the luxury which enervates and destroys nations? Are we sure that there is none of it in our own lives? The philosopher is in advance of his age even in the outward form of his life. He is not fed, sheltered, clothed, warmed, like his contemporaries. How can a man be a philosopher and not maintain his vital heat by better methods than other men?

When a man is warmed by the several modes which I have described, what does he want next? Surely not more warmth of the same kind, as more and richer food, larger and more splendid houses, finer and more abundant clothing, more numerous, incessant, and hotter fires, and the like. When he has obtained those things which are necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain the superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now, his vacation from humbler toil having commenced. The soil, it appears, is suited to the seed, for it has sent its radicle downward, and it may now send its shoot upward also with confidence. Why has man rooted himself thus firmly in the earth, but that he may rise in the same proportion into the heavens above?—for the nobler plants are valued for the fruit they bear at last in the air and light, far from the ground, and are not treated like the humbler esculents, which, though they may be biennials, are cultivated only till they have perfected their root, and often cut down at top for this purpose, so that most would not know them in their flowering season.

I do not mean to prescribe rules to strong and valiant natures, who will mind their own affairs whether in heaven or hell, and perchance build more magnificently and spend more lavishly than the richest, without ever impoverishing themselves, not knowing how they live—if, indeed, there are any such, as has been dreamed; nor to those who find their encouragement and inspiration in precisely the present condition of things, and cherish it with the fondness and enthusiasm of lovers—and, to some extent, I reckon myself in this number; I do not speak to those who are well employed, in whatever circumstances, and they know whether they are well employed or not;—but mainly to the mass of men who are discontented, and idly complaining of the hardness of their lot or of the times, when they might improve them. There are some who complain most energetically and inconsolably of any, because they are, as they say, doing their duty. I also have in my mind that seemingly wealthy, but most terribly impoverished class of all, who have accumulated dross, but know not how to use it, or get rid of it, and thus have forged their own golden or silver fetters.

If I should attempt to tell how I have desired to spend my life in years past, it would probably surprise those of my readers who are somewhat acquainted with its actual history; it would certainly astonish those who know nothing about it. I will only hint at some of the enterprises which I have cherished.

In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line. You will pardon some obscurities, for there are more secrets in my trade than in most men's, and yet not voluntarily kept, but inseparable from its very nature. I would gladly tell all that I know about it, and never paint "No Admittance" on my gate.

I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle dove, and am still on their trail. Many are the travellers I have spoken concerning them, describing their tracks and what calls they answered to. I have met one or two who had heard the hound, and the tramp of the horse, and even seen the dove disappear behind a cloud, and they seemed as anxious to recover them as if they had lost them themselves.

To anticipate, not the sunrise and the dawn merely, but, if possible, Nature herself! How many mornings, summer and winter, before yet any neighbor was stirring about his business, have I been about mine! No doubt, many of my townsmen have met me returning from this enterprise, farmers starting for Boston in the twilight, or woodchoppers going to their work. It is true, I never assisted the sun materially in his rising, but, doubt not, it was of the last importance only to be present at it.

So many autumn, ay, and winter days, spent outside the town, trying to hear what was in the wind, to hear and carry it express! I well-nigh sunk all my capital in it, and lost my own breath into the bargain, running in the face of it. If it had concerned either of the political parties, depend upon it, it would have appeared in the Gazette with the earliest intelligence. At other times watching from the observatory of some cliff or tree, to telegraph any new arrival; or waiting at evening on the hill-tops for the sky to fall, that I might catch something, though I never caught much, and that, manna-wise, would dissolve again in the sun.

For a long time I was reporter to a journal, of no very wide circulation, whose editor has never yet seen fit to print the bulk of my contributions, and, as is too common with writers, I got only my labor for my pains. However, in this case my pains were their own reward.

For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snow-storms and rain-storms, and did my duty faithfully; surveyor, if not of highways, then of forest paths and all across-lot routes, keeping them open, and ravines bridged and passable at all seasons, where the public heel had testified to their utility.

I have looked after the wild stock of the town, which give a faithful herdsman a good deal of trouble by leaping fences; and I have had an eye to the unfrequented nooks and corners of the farm; though I did not always know whether Jonas or Solomon worked in a particular field to-day; that was none of my business. I have watered the red huckleberry, the sand cherry and the nettle-tree, the red pine and the black ash, the white grape and the yellow violet, which might have withered else in dry seasons.

In short, I went on thus for a long time (I may say it without boasting), faithfully minding my business, till it became more and more evident that my townsmen would not after all admit me into the list of town officers, nor make my place a sinecure with a moderate allowance. My accounts, which I can swear to have kept faithfully, I have, indeed, never got audited, still less accepted, still less paid and settled. However, I have not set my heart on that.

Not long since, a strolling Indian went to sell baskets at the house of a well-known lawyer in my neighborhood. "Do you wish to buy any baskets?" he asked. "No, we do not want any," was the reply. "What!" exclaimed the Indian as he went out the gate, "do you mean to starve us?" Having seen his industrious white neighbors so well off—that the lawyer had only to weave arguments, and, by some magic, wealth and standing followed—he had said to himself: I will go into business; I will weave baskets; it is a thing which I can do. Thinking that when he had made the baskets he would have done his part, and then it would be the white man's to buy them. He had not discovered that it was necessary for him to make it worth the other's while to buy them, or at least make him think that it was so, or to make something else which it would be worth his while to buy. I too had woven a kind of basket of a delicate texture, but I had not made it worth any one's while to buy them. Yet not the less, in my case, did I think it worth my while to weave them, and instead of studying how to make it worth men's while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them. The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind. Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others?

Finding that my fellow-citizens were not likely to offer me any room in the court house, or any curacy or living anywhere else, but I must shift for myself, I turned my face more exclusively than ever to the woods, where I was better known. I determined to go into business at once, and not wait to acquire the usual capital, using such slender means as I had already got. My purpose in going to Walden Pond was not to live cheaply nor to live dearly there, but to transact some private business with the fewest obstacles; to be hindered from accomplishing which for want of a little common sense, a little enterprise and business talent, appeared not so sad as foolish.

I have always endeavored to acquire strict business habits; they are indispensable to every man. If your trade is with the Celestial Empire, then some small counting house on the coast, in some Salem harbor, will be fixture enough. You will export such articles as the country affords, purely native products, much ice and pine timber and a little granite, always in native bottoms. These will be good ventures. To oversee all the details yourself in person; to be at once pilot and captain, and owner and underwriter; to buy and sell and keep the accounts; to read every letter received, and write or read every letter sent; to superintend the discharge of imports night and day; to be upon many parts of the coast almost at the same time—often the richest freight will be discharged upon a Jersey shore;—to be your own telegraph, unweariedly sweeping the horizon, speaking all passing vessels bound coastwise; to keep up a steady despatch of commodities, for the supply of such a distant and exorbitant market; to keep yourself informed of the state of the markets, prospects of war and peace everywhere, and anticipate the tendencies of trade and civilization—taking advantage of the results of all exploring expeditions, using new passages and all improvements in navigation;—charts to be studied, the position of reefs and new lights and buoys to be ascertained, and ever, and ever, the logarithmic tables to be corrected, for by the error of some calculator the vessel often splits upon a rock that should have reached a friendly pier—there is the untold fate of La Prouse;—universal science to be kept pace with, studying the lives of all great discoverers and navigators, great adventurers and merchants, from Hanno and the Phoenicians down to our day; in fine, account of stock to be taken from time to time, to know how you stand. It is a labor to task the faculties of a man—such problems of profit and loss, of interest, of tare and tret, and gauging of all kinds in it, as demand a universal knowledge.

I have thought that Walden Pond would be a good place for business, not solely on account of the railroad and the ice trade; it offers advantages which it may not be good policy to divulge; it is a good port and a good foundation. No Neva marshes to be filled; though you must everywhere build on piles of your own driving. It is said that a flood-tide, with a westerly wind, and ice in the Neva, would sweep St. Petersburg from the face of the earth.

As this business was to be entered into without the usual capital, it may not be easy to conjecture where those means, that will still be indispensable to every such undertaking, were to be obtained. As for Clothing, to come at once to the practical part of the question, perhaps we are led oftener by the love of novelty and a regard for the opinions of men, in procuring it, than by a true utility. Let him who has work to do recollect that the object of clothing is, first, to retain the vital heat, and secondly, in this state of society, to cover nakedness, and he may judge how much of any necessary or important work may be accomplished without adding to his wardrobe. Kings and queens who wear a suit but once, though made by some tailor or dressmaker to their majesties, cannot know the comfort of wearing a suit that fits. They are no better than wooden horses to hang the clean clothes on. Every day our garments become more assimilated to ourselves, receiving the impress of the wearer's character, until we hesitate to lay them aside without such delay and medical appliances and some such solemnity even as our bodies. No man ever stood the lower in my estimation for having a patch in his clothes; yet I am sure that there is greater anxiety, commonly, to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscience. But even if the rent is not mended, perhaps the worst vice betrayed is improvidence. I sometimes try my acquaintances by such tests as this—Who could wear a patch, or two extra seams only, over the knee? Most behave as if they believed that their prospects for life would be ruined if they should do it. It would be easier for them to hobble to town with a broken leg than with a broken pantaloon. Often if an accident happens to a gentleman's legs, they can be mended; but if a similar accident happens to the legs of his pantaloons, there is no help for it; for he considers, not what is truly respectable, but what is respected. We know but few men, a great many coats and breeches. Dress a scarecrow in your last shift, you standing shiftless by, who would not soonest salute the scarecrow? Passing a cornfield the other day, close by a hat and coat on a stake, I recognized the owner of the farm. He was only a little more weather-beaten than when I saw him last. I have heard of a dog that barked at every stranger who approached his master's premises with clothes on, but was easily quieted by a naked thief. It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes. Could you, in such a case, tell surely of any company of civilized men which belonged to the most respected class? When Madam Pfeiffer, in her adventurous travels round the world, from east to west, had got so near home as Asiatic Russia, she says that she felt the necessity of wearing other than a travelling dress, when she went to meet the authorities, for she "was now in a civilized country, where... people are judged of by their clothes." Even in our democratic New England towns the accidental possession of wealth, and its manifestation in dress and equipage alone, obtain for the possessor almost universal respect. But they yield such respect, numerous as they are, are so far heathen, and need to have a missionary sent to them. Beside, clothes introduced sewing, a kind of work which you may call endless; a woman's dress, at least, is never done.

A man who has at length found something to do will not need to get a new suit to do it in; for him the old will do, that has lain dusty in the garret for an indeterminate period. Old shoes will serve a hero longer than they have served his valet—if a hero ever has a valet—bare feet are older than shoes, and he can make them do. Only they who go to soirées and legislative balls must have new coats, coats to change as often as the man changes in them. But if my jacket and trousers, my hat and shoes, are fit to worship God in, they will do; will they not? Who ever saw his old clothes—his old coat, actually worn out, resolved into its primitive elements, so that it was not a deed of charity to bestow it on some poor boy, by him perchance to be bestowed on some poorer still, or shall we say richer, who could do with less? I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit? If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes. All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be. Perhaps we should never procure a new suit, however ragged or dirty the old, until we have so conducted, so enterprised or sailed in some way, that we feel like new men in the old, and that to retain it would be like keeping new wine in old bottles. Our moulting season, like that of the fowls, must be a crisis in our lives. The loon retires to solitary ponds to spend it. Thus also the snake casts its slough, and the caterpillar its wormy coat, by an internal industry and expansion; for clothes are but our outmost cuticle and mortal coil. Otherwise we shall be found sailing under false colors, and be inevitably cashiered at last by our own opinion, as well as that of mankind.

We don garment after garment, as if we grew like exogenous plants by addition without. Our outside and often thin and fanciful clothes are our epidermis, or false skin, which partakes not of our life, and may be stripped off here and there without fatal injury; our thicker garments, constantly worn, are our cellular integument, or cortex; but our shirts are our liber, or true bark, which cannot be removed without girdling and so destroying the man. I believe that all races at some seasons wear something equivalent to the shirt. It is desirable that a man be clad so simply that he can lay his hands on himself in the dark, and that he live in all respects so compactly and preparedly that, if an enemy take the town, he can, like the old philosopher, walk out the gate empty-handed without anxiety. While one thick garment is, for most purposes, as good as three thin ones, and cheap clothing can be obtained at prices really to suit customers; while a thick coat can be bought for five dollars, which will last as many years, thick pantaloons for two dollars, cowhide boots for a dollar and a half a pair, a summer hat for a quarter of a dollar, and a winter cap for sixty-two and a half cents, or a better be made at home at a nominal cost, where is he so poor that, clad in such a suit, of his own earning, there will not be found wise men to do him reverence?

When I ask for a garment of a particular form, my tailoress tells me gravely, "They do not make them so now," not emphasizing the "They" at all, as if she quoted an authority as impersonal as the Fates, and I find it difficult to get made what I want, simply because she cannot believe that I mean what I say, that I am so rash. When I hear this oracular sentence, I am for a moment absorbed in thought, emphasizing to myself each word separately that I may come at the meaning of it, that I may find out by what degree of consanguinity They are related to me, and what authority they may have in an affair which affects me so nearly; and, finally, I am inclined to answer her with equal mystery, and without any more emphasis of the "they"—"It is true, they did not make them so recently, but they do now." Of what use this measuring of me if she does not measure my character, but only the breadth of my shoulders, as it were a peg to bang the coat on? We worship not the Graces, nor the Parcae, but Fashion. She spins and weaves and cuts with full authority. The head monkey at Paris puts on a traveller's cap, and all the monkeys in America do the same. I sometimes despair of getting anything quite simple and honest done in this world by the help of men. They would have to be passed through a powerful press first, to squeeze their old notions out of them, so that they would not soon get upon their legs again; and then there would be some one in the company with a maggot in his head, hatched from an egg deposited there nobody knows when, for not even fire kills these things, and you would have lost your labor. Nevertheless, we will not forget that some Egyptian wheat was handed down to us by a mummy.

On the whole, I think that it cannot be maintained that dressing has in this or any country risen to the dignity of an art. At present men make shift to wear what they can get. Like shipwrecked sailors, they put on what they can find on the beach, and at a little distance, whether of space or time, laugh at each other's masquerade. Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new. We are amused at beholding the costume of Henry VIII, or Queen Elizabeth, as much as if it was that of the King and Queen of the Cannibal Islands. All costume off a man is pitiful or grotesque. It is only the serious eye peering from and the sincere life passed within it which restrain laughter and consecrate the costume of any people. Let Harlequin be taken with a fit of the colic and his trappings will have to serve that mood too. When the soldier is hit by a cannonball, rags are as becoming as purple.

The childish and savage taste of men and women for new patterns keeps how many shaking and squinting through kaleidoscopes that they may discover the particular figure which this generation requires today. The manufacturers have learned that this taste is merely whimsical. Of two patterns which differ only by a few threads more or less of a particular color, the one will be sold readily, the other lie on the shelf, though it frequently happens that after the lapse of a season the latter becomes the most fashionable. Comparatively, tattooing is not the hideous custom which it is called. It is not barbarous merely because the printing is skin-deep and unalterable.

I cannot believe that our factory system is the best mode by which men may get clothing. The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English; and it cannot be wondered at, since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that corporations may be enriched. In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.

As for a Shelter, I will not deny that this is now a necessary of life, though there are instances of men having done without it for long periods in colder countries than this. Samuel Laing says that "the Laplander in his skin dress, and in a skin bag which he puts over his head and shoulders, will sleep night after night on the snow... in a degree of cold which would extinguish the life of one exposed to it in any woollen clothing." He had seen them asleep thus. Yet he adds, "They are not hardier than other people." But, probably, man did not live long on the earth without discovering the convenience which there is in a house, the domestic comforts, which phrase may have originally signified the satisfactions of the house more than of the family; though these must be extremely partial and occasional in those climates where the house is associated in our thoughts with winter or the rainy season chiefly, and two thirds of the year, except for a parasol, is unnecessary. In our climate, in the summer, it was formerly almost solely a covering at night. In the Indian gazettes a wigwam was the symbol of a day's march, and a row of them cut or painted on the bark of a tree signified that so many times they had camped. Man was not made so large limbed and robust but that he must seek to narrow his world and wall in a space such as fitted him. He was at first bare and out of doors; but though this was pleasant enough in serene and warm weather, by daylight, the rainy season and the winter, to say nothing of the torrid sun, would perhaps have nipped his race in the bud if he had not made haste to clothe himself with the shelter of a house. Adam and Eve, according to the fable, wore the bower before other clothes. Man wanted a home, a place of warmth, or comfort, first of warmth, then the warmth of the affections.

We may imagine a time when, in the infancy of the human race, some enterprising mortal crept into a hollow in a rock for shelter. Every child begins the world again, to some extent, and loves to stay outdoors, even in wet and cold. It plays house, as well as horse, having an instinct for it. Who does not remember the interest with which, when young, he looked at shelving rocks, or any approach to a cave? It was the natural yearning of that portion, any portion of our most primitive ancestor which still survived in us. From the cave we have advanced to roofs of palm leaves, of bark and boughs, of linen woven and stretched, of grass and straw, of boards and shingles, of stones and tiles. At last, we know not what it is to live in the open air, and our lives are domestic in more senses than we think. From the hearth the field is a great distance. It would be well, perhaps, if we were to spend more of our days and nights without any obstruction between us and the celestial bodies, if the poet did not speak so much from under a roof, or the saint dwell there so long. Birds do not sing in caves, nor do doves cherish their innocence in dovecots.

However, if one designs to construct a dwelling-house, it behooves him to exercise a little Yankee shrewdness, lest after all he find himself in a workhouse, a labyrinth without a clue, a museum, an almshouse, a prison, or a splendid mausoleum instead. Consider first how slight a shelter is absolutely necessary. I have seen Penobscot Indians, in this town, living in tents of thin cotton cloth, while the snow was nearly a foot deep around them, and I thought that they would be glad to have it deeper to keep out the wind. Formerly, when how to get my living honestly, with freedom left for my proper pursuits, was a question which vexed me even more than it does now, for unfortunately I am become somewhat callous, I used to see a large box by the railroad, six feet long by three wide, in which the laborers locked up their tools at night; and it suggested to me that every man who was hard pushed might get such a one for a dollar, and, having bored a few auger holes in it, to admit the air at least, get into it when it rained and at night, and hook down the lid, and so have freedom in his love, and in his soul be free. This did not appear the worst, nor by any means a despicable alternative. You could sit up as late as you pleased, and, whenever you got up, go abroad without any landlord or house-lord dogging you for rent. Many a man is harassed to death to pay the rent of a larger and more luxurious box who would not have frozen to death in such a box as this. I am far from jesting. Economy is a subject which admits of being treated with levity, but it cannot so be disposed of. A comfortable house for a rude and hardy race, that lived mostly out of doors, was once made here almost entirely of such materials as Nature furnished ready to their hands. Gookin, who was superintendent of the Indians subject to the Massachusetts Colony, writing in 1674, says, "The best of their houses are covered very neatly, tight and warm, with barks of trees, slipped from their bodies at those seasons when the sap is up, and made into great flakes, with pressure of weighty timber, when they are green.... The meaner sort are covered with mats which they make of a kind of bulrush, and are also indifferently tight and warm, but not so good as the former.... Some I have seen, sixty or a hundred feet long and thirty feet broad.... I have often lodged in their wigwams, and found them as warm as the best English houses." He adds that they were commonly carpeted and lined within with well-wrought embroidered mats, and were furnished with various utensils. The Indians had advanced so far as to regulate the effect of the wind by a mat suspended over the hole in the roof and moved by a string. Such a lodge was in the first instance constructed in a day or two at most, and taken down and put up in a few hours; and every family owned one, or its apartment in one.

In the savage state every family owns a shelter as good as the best, and sufficient for its coarser and simpler wants; but I think that I speak within bounds when I say that, though the birds of the air have their nests, and the foxes their holes, and the savages their wigwams, in modern civilized society not more than one half the families own a shelter. In the large towns and cities, where civilization especially prevails, the number of those who own a shelter is a very small fraction of the whole. The rest pay an annual tax for this outside garment of all, become indispensable summer and winter, which would buy a village of Indian wigwams, but now helps to keep them poor as long as they live. I do not mean to insist here on the disadvantage of hiring compared with owning, but it is evident that the savage owns his shelter because it costs so little, while the civilized man hires his commonly because he cannot afford to own it; nor can he, in the long run, any better afford to hire. But, answers one, by merely paying this tax, the poor civilized man secures an abode which is a palace compared with the savage's. An annual rent of from twenty-five to a hundred dollars (these are the country rates) entitles him to the benefit of the improvements of centuries, spacious apartments, clean paint and paper, Rumford fire-place, back plastering, Venetian blinds, copper pump, spring lock, a commodious cellar, and many other things. But how happens it that he who is said to enjoy these things is so commonly a poor civilized man, while the savage, who has them not, is rich as a savage? If it is asserted that civilization is a real advance in the condition of man—and I think that it is, though only the wise improve their advantages—it must be shown that it has produced better dwellings without making them more costly; and the cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. An average house in this neighborhood costs perhaps eight hundred dollars, and to lay up this sum will take from ten to fifteen years of the laborer's life, even if he is not encumbered with a family—estimating the pecuniary value of every man's labor at one dollar a day, for if some receive more, others receive less;—so that he must have spent more than half his life commonly before his wigwam will be earned. If we suppose him to pay a rent instead, this is but a doubtful choice of evils. Would the savage have been wise to exchange his wigwam for a palace on these terms?

It may be guessed that I reduce almost the whole advantage of holding this superfluous property as a fund in store against the future, so far as the individual is concerned, mainly to the defraying of funeral expenses. But perhaps a man is not required to bury himself. Nevertheless this points to an important distinction between the civilized man and the savage; and, no doubt, they have designs on us for our benefit, in making the life of a civilized people an institution, in which the life of the individual is to a great extent absorbed, in order to preserve and perfect that of the race. But I wish to show at what a sacrifice this advantage is at present obtained, and to suggest that we may possibly so live as to secure all the advantage without suffering any of the disadvantage. What mean ye by saying that the poor ye have always with you, or that the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?

"As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.

"Behold all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die."

When I consider my neighbors, the farmers of Concord, who are at least as well off as the other classes, I find that for the most part they have been toiling twenty, thirty, or forty years, that they may become the real owners of their farms, which commonly they have inherited with encumbrances, or else bought with hired money—and we may regard one third of that toil as the cost of their houses—but commonly they have not paid for them yet. It is true, the encumbrances sometimes outweigh the value of the farm, so that the farm itself becomes one great encumbrance, and still a man is found to inherit it, being well acquainted with it, as he says. On applying to the assessors, I am surprised to learn that they cannot at once name a dozen in the town who own their farms free and clear. If you would know the history of these homesteads, inquire at the bank where they are mortgaged. The man who has actually paid for his farm with labor on it is so rare that every neighbor can point to him. I doubt if there are three such men in Concord. What has been said of the merchants, that a very large majority, even ninety-seven in a hundred, are sure to fail, is equally true of the farmers. With regard to the merchants, however, one of them says pertinently that a great part of their failures are not genuine pecuniary failures, but merely failures to fulfil their engagements, because it is inconvenient; that is, it is the moral character that breaks down. But this puts an infinitely worse face on the matter, and suggests, beside, that probably not even the other three succeed in saving their souls, but are perchance bankrupt in a worse sense than they who fail honestly. Bankruptcy and repudiation are the springboards from which much of our civilization vaults and turns its somersets, but the savage stands on the unelastic plank of famine. Yet the Middlesex Cattle Show goes off here with éclat annually, as if all the joints of the agricultural machine were suent.

The farmer is endeavoring to solve the problem of a livelihood by a formula more complicated than the problem itself. To get his shoestrings he speculates in herds of cattle. With consummate skill he has set his trap with a hair spring to catch comfort and independence, and then, as he turned away, got his own leg into it. This is the reason he is poor; and for a similar reason we are all poor in respect to a thousand savage comforts, though surrounded by luxuries. As Chapman sings,

"The false society of men—  
  —for earthly greatness    
  All heavenly comforts rarefies to air."  

And when the farmer has got his house, he may not be the richer but the poorer for it, and it be the house that has got him. As I understand it, that was a valid objection urged by Momus against the house which Minerva made, that she "had not made it movable, by which means a bad neighborhood might be avoided"; and it may still be urged, for our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them; and the bad neighborhood to be avoided is our own scurvy selves. I know one or two families, at least, in this town, who, for nearly a generation, have been wishing to sell their houses in the outskirts and move into the village, but have not been able to accomplish it, and only death will set them free.

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

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

Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have. As if one were to wear any sort of coat which the tailor might cut out for him, or, gradually leaving off palm-leaf hat or cap of woodchuck skin, complain of hard times because he could not afford to buy him a crown! It is possible to invent a house still more convenient and luxurious than we have, which yet all would admit that man could not afford to pay for. Shall we always study to obtain more of these things, and not sometimes to be content with less? Shall the respectable citizen thus gravely teach, by precept and example, the necessity of the young man's providing a certain number of superfluous glow-shoes, and umbrellas, and empty guest chambers for empty guests, before he dies? Why should not our furniture be as simple as the Arab's or the Indian's? When I think of the benefactors of the race, whom we have apotheosized as messengers from heaven, bearers of divine gifts to man, I do not see in my mind any retinue at their heels, any carload of fashionable furniture. Or what if I were to allow—would it not be a singular allowance?—that our furniture should be more complex than the Arab's, in proportion as we are morally and intellectually his superiors! At present our houses are cluttered and defiled with it, and a good housewife would sweep out the greater part into the dust hole, and not leave her morning's work undone. Morning work! By the blushes of Aurora and the music of Memnon, what should be man's morning work in this world? I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust. How, then, could I have a furnished house? I would rather sit in the open air, for no dust gathers on the grass, unless where man has broken ground.

It is the luxurious and dissipated who set the fashions which the herd so diligently follow. The traveller who stops at the best houses, so called, soon discovers this, for the publicans presume him to be a Sardanapalus, and if he resigned himself to their tender mercies he would soon be completely emasculated. I think that in the railroad car we are inclined to spend more on luxury than on safety and convenience, and it threatens without attaining these to become no better than a modern drawing-room, with its divans, and ottomans, and sun-shades, and a hundred other oriental things, which we are taking west with us, invented for the ladies of the harem and the effeminate natives of the Celestial Empire, which Jonathan should be ashamed to know the names of. I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion. I would rather ride on earth in an ox cart, with a free circulation, than go to heaven in the fancy car of an excursion train and breathe a malaria all the way.

The very simplicity and nakedness of man's life in the primitive ages imply this advantage, at least, that they left him still but a sojourner in nature. When he was refreshed with food and sleep, he contemplated his journey again. He dwelt, as it were, in a tent in this world, and was either threading the valleys, or crossing the plains, or climbing the mountain-tops. But lo! men have become the tools of their tools. The man who independently plucked the fruits when he was hungry is become a farmer; and he who stood under a tree for shelter, a housekeeper. We now no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven. We have adopted Christianity merely as an improved method of agri-culture. We have built for this world a family mansion, and for the next a family tomb. The best works of art are the expression of man's struggle to free himself from this condition, but the effect of our art is merely to make this low state comfortable and that higher state to be forgotten. There is actually no place in this village for a work of fine art, if any had come down to us, to stand, for our lives, our houses and streets, furnish no proper pedestal for it. There is not a nail to hang a picture on, nor a shelf to receive the bust of a hero or a saint. When I consider how our houses are built and paid for, or not paid for, and their internal economy managed and sustained, I wonder that the floor does not give way under the visitor while he is admiring the gewgaws upon the mantelpiece, and let him through into the cellar, to some solid and honest though earthy foundation. I cannot but perceive that this so-called rich and refined life is a thing jumped at, and I do not get on in the enjoyment of the fine arts which adorn it, my attention being wholly occupied with the jump; for I remember that the greatest genuine leap, due to human muscles alone, on record, is that of certain wandering Arabs, who are said to have cleared twenty-five feet on level ground. Without factitious support, man is sure to come to earth again beyond that distance. The first question which I am tempted to put to the proprietor of such great impropriety is, Who bolsters you? Are you one of the ninety-seven who fail, or the three who succeed? Answer me these questions, and then perhaps I may look at your bawbles and find them ornamental. The cart before the horse is neither beautiful nor useful. Before we can adorn our houses with beautiful objects the walls must be stripped, and our lives must be stripped, and beautiful housekeeping and beautiful living be laid for a foundation: now, a taste for the beautiful is most cultivated out of doors, where there is no house and no housekeeper.

Old Johnson, in his "Wonder-Working Providence," speaking of the first settlers of this town, with whom he was contemporary, tells us that "they burrow themselves in the earth for their first shelter under some hillside, and, casting the soil aloft upon timber, they make a smoky fire against the earth, at the highest side." They did not "provide them houses," says he, "till the earth, by the Lord's blessing, brought forth bread to feed them," and the first year's crop was so light that "they were forced to cut their bread very thin for a long season." The secretary of the Province of New Netherland, writing in Dutch, in 1650, for the information of those who wished to take up land there, states more particularly that "those in New Netherland, and especially in New England, who have no means to build farmhouses at first according to their wishes, dig a square pit in the ground, cellar fashion, six or seven feet deep, as long and as broad as they think proper, case the earth inside with wood all round the wall, and line the wood with the bark of trees or something else to prevent the caving in of the earth; floor this cellar with plank, and wainscot it overhead for a ceiling, raise a roof of spars clear up, and cover the spars with bark or green sods, so that they can live dry and warm in these houses with their entire families for two, three, and four years, it being understood that partitions are run through those cellars which are adapted to the size of the family. The wealthy and principal men in New England, in the beginning of the colonies, commenced their first dwelling-houses in this fashion for two reasons: firstly, in order not to waste time in building, and not to want food the next season; secondly, in order not to discourage poor laboring people whom they brought over in numbers from Fatherland. In the course of three or four years, when the country became adapted to agriculture, they built themselves handsome houses, spending on them several thousands."

In this course which our ancestors took there was a show of prudence at least, as if their principle were to satisfy the more pressing wants first. But are the more pressing wants satisfied now? When I think of acquiring for myself one of our luxurious dwellings, I am deterred, for, so to speak, the country is not yet adapted to human culture, and we are still forced to cut our spiritual bread far thinner than our forefathers did their wheaten. Not that all architectural ornament is to be neglected even in the rudest periods; but let our houses first be lined with beauty, where they come in contact with our lives, like the tenement of the shellfish, and not overlaid with it. But, alas! I have been inside one or two of them, and know what they are lined with.

Though we are not so degenerate but that we might possibly live in a cave or a wigwam or wear skins today, it certainly is better to accept the advantages, though so dearly bought, which the invention and industry of mankind offer. In such a neighborhood as this, boards and shingles, lime and bricks, are cheaper and more easily obtained than suitable caves, or whole logs, or bark in sufficient quantities, or even well-tempered clay or flat stones. I speak understandingly on this subject, for I have made myself acquainted with it both theoretically and practically. With a little more wit we might use these materials so as to become richer than the richest now are, and make our civilization a blessing. The civilized man is a more experienced and wiser savage. But to make haste to my own experiment.

Near the end of March, 1845, I borrowed an axe and went down to the woods by Walden Pond, nearest to where I intended to build my house, and began to cut down some tall, arrowy white pines, still in their youth, for timber. It is difficult to begin without borrowing, but perhaps it is the most generous course thus to permit your fellow-men to have an interest in your enterprise. The owner of the axe, as he released his hold on it, said that it was the apple of his eye; but I returned it sharper than I received it. It was a pleasant hillside where I worked, covered with pine woods, through which I looked out on the pond, and a small open field in the woods where pines and hickories were springing up. The ice in the pond was not yet dissolved, though there were some open spaces, and it was all dark-colored and saturated with water. There were some slight flurries of snow during the days that I worked there; but for the most part when I came out on to the railroad, on my way home, its yellow sand heap stretched away gleaming in the hazy atmosphere, and the rails shone in the spring sun, and I heard the lark and pewee and other birds already come to commence another year with us. They were pleasant spring days, in which the winter of man's discontent was thawing as well as the earth, and the life that had lain torpid began to stretch itself. One day, when my axe had come off and I had cut a green hickory for a wedge, driving it with a stone, and had placed the whole to soak in a pond-hole in order to swell the wood, I saw a striped snake run into the water, and he lay on the bottom, apparently without inconvenience, as long as I stayed there, or more than a quarter of an hour; perhaps because he had not yet fairly come out of the torpid state. It appeared to me that for a like reason men remain in their present low and primitive condition; but if they should feel the influence of the spring of springs arousing them, they would of necessity rise to a higher and more ethereal life. I had previously seen the snakes in frosty mornings in my path with portions of their bodies still numb and inflexible, waiting for the sun to thaw them. On the 1st of April it rained and melted the ice, and in the early part of the day, which was very foggy, I heard a stray goose groping about over the pond and cackling as if lost, or like the spirit of the fog.

So I went on for some days cutting and hewing timber, and also studs and rafters, all with my narrow axe, not having many communicable or scholar-like thoughts, singing to myself,—

Men say they know many things;
   But lo! they have taken wings—
   The arts and sciences,
   And a thousand appliances;
   The wind that blows
   Is all that any body knows.

I hewed the main timbers six inches square, most of the studs on two sides only, and the rafters and floor timbers on one side, leaving the rest of the bark on, so that they were just as straight and much stronger than sawed ones. Each stick was carefully mortised or tenoned by its stump, for I had borrowed other tools by this time. My days in the woods were not very long ones; yet I usually carried my dinner of bread and butter, and read the newspaper in which it was wrapped, at noon, sitting amid the green pine boughs which I had cut off, and to my bread was imparted some of their fragrance, for my hands were covered with a thick coat of pitch. Before I had done I was more the friend than the foe of the pine tree, though I had cut down some of them, having become better acquainted with it. Sometimes a rambler in the wood was attracted by the sound of my axe, and we chatted pleasantly over the chips which I had made.

By the middle of April, for I made no haste in my work, but rather made the most of it, my house was framed and ready for the raising. I had already bought the shanty of James Collins, an Irishman who worked on the Fitchburg Railroad, for boards. James Collins' shanty was considered an uncommonly fine one. When I called to see it he was not at home. I walked about the outside, at first unobserved from within, the window was so deep and high. It was of small dimensions, with a peaked cottage roof, and not much else to be seen, the dirt being raised five feet all around as if it were a compost heap. The roof was the soundest part, though a good deal warped and made brittle by the sun. Doorsill there was none, but a perennial passage for the hens under the door board. Mrs. C. came to the door and asked me to view it from the inside. The hens were driven in by my approach. It was dark, and had a dirt floor for the most part, dank, clammy, and aguish, only here a board and there a board which would not bear removal. She lighted a lamp to show me the inside of the roof and the walls, and also that the board floor extended under the bed, warning me not to step into the cellar, a sort of dust hole two feet deep. In her own words, they were "good boards overhead, good boards all around, and a good window"—of two whole squares originally, only the cat had passed out that way lately. There was a stove, a bed, and a place to sit, an infant in the house where it was born, a silk parasol, gilt-framed looking-glass, and a patent new coffee-mill nailed to an oak sapling, all told. The bargain was soon concluded, for James had in the meanwhile returned. I to pay four dollars and twenty-five cents tonight, he to vacate at five tomorrow morning, selling to nobody else meanwhile: I to take possession at six. It were well, he said, to be there early, and anticipate certain indistinct but wholly unjust claims on the score of ground rent and fuel. This he assured me was the only encumbrance. At six I passed him and his family on the road. One large bundle held their all—bed, coffee-mill, looking-glass, hens—all but the cat; she took to the woods and became a wild cat, and, as I learned afterward, trod in a trap set for woodchucks, and so became a dead cat at last.

I took down this dwelling the same morning, drawing the nails, and removed it to the pond-side by small cartloads, spreading the boards on the grass there to bleach and warp back again in the sun. One early thrush gave me a note or two as I drove along the woodland path. I was informed treacherously by a young Patrick that neighbor Seeley, an Irishman, in the intervals of the carting, transferred the still tolerable, straight, and drivable nails, staples, and spikes to his pocket, and then stood when I came back to pass the time of day, and look freshly up, unconcerned, with spring thoughts, at the devastation; there being a dearth of work, as he said. He was there to represent spectatordom, and help make this seemingly insignificant event one with the removal of the gods of Troy.

I dug my cellar in the side of a hill sloping to the south, where a woodchuck had formerly dug his burrow, down through sumach and blackberry roots, and the lowest stain of vegetation, six feet square by seven deep, to a fine sand where potatoes would not freeze in any winter. The sides were left shelving, and not stoned; but the sun having never shone on them, the sand still keeps its place. It was but two hours' work. I took particular pleasure in this breaking of ground, for in almost all latitudes men dig into the earth for an equable temperature. Under the most splendid house in the city is still to be found the cellar where they store their roots as of old, and long after the superstructure has disappeared posterity remark its dent in the earth. The house is still but a sort of porch at the entrance of a burrow.

At length, in the beginning of May, with the help of some of my acquaintances, rather to improve so good an occasion for neighborliness than from any necessity, I set up the frame of my house. No man was ever more honored in the character of his raisers than I. They are destined, I trust, to assist at the raising of loftier structures one day. I began to occupy my house on the 4th of July, as soon as it was boarded and roofed, for the boards were carefully feather-edged and lapped, so that it was perfectly impervious to rain, but before boarding I laid the foundation of a chimney at one end, bringing two cartloads of stones up the hill from the pond in my arms. I built the chimney after my hoeing in the fall, before a fire became necessary for warmth, doing my cooking in the meanwhile out of doors on the ground, early in the morning: which mode I still think is in some respects more convenient and agreeable than the usual one. When it stormed before my bread was baked, I fixed a few boards over the fire, and sat under them to watch my loaf, and passed some pleasant hours in that way. In those days, when my hands were much employed, I read but little, but the least scraps of paper which lay on the ground, my holder, or tablecloth, afforded me as much entertainment, in fact answered the same purpose as the Iliad.

It would be worth the while to build still more deliberately than I did, considering, for instance, what foundation a door, a window, a cellar, a garret, have in the nature of man, and perchance never raising any superstructure until we found a better reason for it than our temporal necessities even. There is some of the same fitness in a man's building his own house that there is in a bird's building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? But alas! we do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveller with their chattering and unmusical notes. Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter? What does architecture amount to in the experience of the mass of men? I never in all my walks came across a man engaged in so simple and natural an occupation as building his house. We belong to the community. It is not the tailor alone who is the ninth part of a man; it is as much the preacher, and the merchant, and the farmer. Where is this division of labor to end? and what object does it finally serve? No doubt another may also think for me; but it is not therefore desirable that he should do so to the exclusion of my thinking for myself.

True, there are architects so called in this country, and I have heard of one at least possessed with the idea of making architectural ornaments have a core of truth, a necessity, and hence a beauty, as if it were a revelation to him. All very well perhaps from his point of view, but only a little better than the common dilettantism. A sentimental reformer in architecture, he began at the cornice, not at the foundation. It was only how to put a core of truth within the ornaments, that every sugarplum, in fact, might have an almond or caraway seed in it—though I hold that almonds are most wholesome without the sugar—and not how the inhabitant, the indweller, might build truly within and without, and let the ornaments take care of themselves. What reasonable man ever supposed that ornaments were something outward and in the skin merely—that the tortoise got his spotted shell, or the shell-fish its mother-o'-pearl tints, by such a contract as the inhabitants of Broadway their Trinity Church? But a man has no more to do with the style of architecture of his house than a tortoise with that of its shell: nor need the soldier be so idle as to try to paint the precise color of his virtue on his standard. The enemy will find it out. He may turn pale when the trial comes. This man seemed to me to lean over the cornice, and timidly whisper his half truth to the rude occupants who really knew it better than he. What of architectural beauty I now see, I know has gradually grown from within outward, out of the necessities and character of the indweller, who is the only builder—out of some unconscious truthfulness, and nobleness, without ever a thought for the appearance and whatever additional beauty of this kind is destined to be produced will be preceded by a like unconscious beauty of life. The most interesting dwellings in this country, as the painter knows, are the most unpretending, humble log huts and cottages of the poor commonly; it is the life of the inhabitants whose shells they are, and not any peculiarity in their surfaces merely, which makes them picturesque; and equally interesting will be the citizen's suburban box, when his life shall be as simple and as agreeable to the imagination, and there is as little straining after effect in the style of his dwelling. A great proportion of architectural ornaments are literally hollow, and a September gale would strip them off, like borrowed plumes, without injury to the substantials. They can do without architecture who have no olives nor wines in the cellar. What if an equal ado were made about the ornaments of style in literature, and the architects of our bibles spent as much time about their cornices as the architects of our churches do? So are made the belles-lettres and the beaux-arts and their professors. Much it concerns a man, forsooth, how a few sticks are slanted over him or under him, and what colors are daubed upon his box. It would signify somewhat, if, in any earnest sense, he slanted them and daubed it; but the spirit having departed out of the tenant, it is of a piece with constructing his own coffin—the architecture of the grave—and "carpenter" is but another name for "coffin-maker." One man says, in his despair or indifference to life, take up a handful of the earth at your feet, and paint your house that color. Is he thinking of his last and narrow house? Toss up a copper for it as well. What an abundance of leisure be must have! Why do you take up a handful of dirt? Better paint your house your own complexion; let it turn pale or blush for you. An enterprise to improve the style of cottage architecture! When you have got my ornaments ready, I will wear them.

Before winter I built a chimney, and shingled the sides of my house, which were already impervious to rain, with imperfect and sappy shingles made of the first slice of the log, whose edges I was obliged to straighten with a plane.

I have thus a tight shingled and plastered house, ten feet wide by fifteen long, and eight-feet posts, with a garret and a closet, a large window on each side, two trap doors, one door at the end, and a brick fireplace opposite. The exact cost of my house, paying the usual price for such materials as I used, but not counting the work, all of which was done by myself, was as follows; and I give the details because very few are able to tell exactly what their houses cost, and fewer still, if any, the separate cost of the various materials which compose them:—

Boards.......................... $ 8.03-1/2;
		, mostly shanty boards.
   Refuse shingles for roof sides...  4.00
   Laths............................  1.25
   Two second-hand windows
      with glass....................  2.43
   One thousand old brick...........  4.00
   Two casks of lime................  2.40  
           That was high.
   Hair.............................  0.31  
           More than I needed.
   Mantle-tree iron.................  0.15
   Nails............................  3.90
   Hinges and screws................  0.14
   Latch............................  0.10
   Chalk............................  0.01
   Transportation...................  1.40  
        I carried a good part on my back.
      In all...................... $28.12-1/2

These are all the materials, excepting the timber, stones, and sand, which I claimed by squatter's right. I have also a small woodshed adjoining, made chiefly of the stuff which was left after building the house.

I intend to build me a house which will surpass any on the main street in Concord in grandeur and luxury, as soon as it pleases me as much and will cost me no more than my present one.

I thus found that the student who wishes for a shelter can obtain one for a lifetime at an expense not greater than the rent which he now pays annually. If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself; and my shortcomings and inconsistencies do not affect the truth of my statement. Notwithstanding much cant and hypocrisy—chaff which I find it difficult to separate from my wheat, but for which I am as sorry as any man—I will breathe freely and stretch myself in this respect, it is such a relief to both the moral and physical system; and I am resolved that I will not through humility become the devil's attorney. I will endeavor to speak a good word for the truth. At Cambridge College the mere rent of a student's room, which is only a little larger than my own, is thirty dollars each year, though the corporation had the advantage of building thirty-two side by side and under one roof, and the occupant suffers the inconvenience of many and noisy neighbors, and perhaps a residence in the fourth story. I cannot but think that if we had more true wisdom in these respects, not only less education would be needed, because, forsooth, more would already have been acquired, but the pecuniary expense of getting an education would in a great measure vanish. Those conveniences which the student requires at Cambridge or elsewhere cost him or somebody else ten times as great a sacrifice of life as they would with proper management on both sides. Those things for which the most money is demanded are never the things which the student most wants. Tuition, for instance, is an important item in the term bill, while for the far more valuable education which he gets by associating with the most cultivated of his contemporaries no charge is made. The mode of founding a college is, commonly, to get up a subscription of dollars and cents, and then, following blindly the principles of a division of labor to its extreme—a principle which should never be followed but with circumspection—to call in a contractor who makes this a subject of speculation, and he employs Irishmen or other operatives actually to lay the foundations, while the students that are to be are said to be fitting themselves for it; and for these oversights successive generations have to pay. I think that it would be better than this, for the students, or those who desire to be benefited by it, even to lay the foundation themselves. The student who secures his coveted leisure and retirement by systematically shirking any labor necessary to man obtains but an ignoble and unprofitable leisure, defrauding himself of the experience which alone can make leisure fruitful. "But," says one, "you do not mean that the students should go to work with their hands instead of their heads?" I do not mean that exactly, but I mean something which he might think a good deal like that; I mean that they should not play life, or study it merely, while the community supports them at this expensive game, but earnestly live it from beginning to end. How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living? Methinks this would exercise their minds as much as mathematics. If I wished a boy to know something about the arts and sciences, for instance, I would not pursue the common course, which is merely to send him into the neighborhood of some professor, where anything is professed and practised but the art of life;—to survey the world through a telescope or a microscope, and never with his natural eye; to study chemistry, and not learn how his bread is made, or mechanics, and not learn how it is earned; to discover new satellites to Neptune, and not detect the motes in his eyes, or to what vagabond he is a satellite himself; or to be devoured by the monsters that swarm all around him, while contemplating the monsters in a drop of vinegar. Which would have advanced the most at the end of a month—the boy who had made his own jackknife from the ore which he had dug and smelted, reading as much as would be necessary for this—or the boy who had attended the lectures on metallurgy at the Institute in the meanwhile, and had received a Rodgers' penknife from his father? Which would be most likely to cut his fingers?... To my astonishment I was informed on leaving college that I had studied navigation!—why, if I had taken one turn down the harbor I should have known more about it. Even the poor student studies and is taught only political economy, while that economy of living which is synonymous with philosophy is not even sincerely professed in our colleges. The consequence is, that while he is reading Adam Smith, Ricardo, and Say, he runs his father in debt irretrievably.

As with our colleges, so with a hundred "modern improvements"; there is an illusion about them; there is not always a positive advance. The devil goes on exacting compound interest to the last for his early share and numerous succeeding investments in them. Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; as railroads lead to Boston or New York. We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate. Either is in such a predicament as the man who was earnest to be introduced to a distinguished deaf woman, but when he was presented, and one end of her ear trumpet was put into his hand, had nothing to say. As if the main object were to talk fast and not to talk sensibly. We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough. After all, the man whose horse trots a mile in a minute does not carry the most important messages; he is not an evangelist, nor does he come round eating locusts and wild honey. I doubt if Flying Childers ever carried a peck of corn to mill.

One says to me, "I wonder that you do not lay up money; you love to travel; you might take the cars and go to Fitchburg today and see the country." But I am wiser than that. I have learned that the swiftest traveller is he that goes afoot. I say to my friend, Suppose we try who will get there first. The distance is thirty miles; the fare ninety cents. That is almost a day's wages. I remember when wages were sixty cents a day for laborers on this very road. Well, I start now on foot, and get there before night; I have travelled at that rate by the week together. You will in the meanwhile have earned your fare, and arrive there some time tomorrow, or possibly this evening, if you are lucky enough to get a job in season. Instead of going to Fitchburg, you will be working here the greater part of the day. And so, if the railroad reached round the world, I think that I should keep ahead of you; and as for seeing the country and getting experience of that kind, I should have to cut your acquaintance altogether.

Such is the universal law, which no man can ever outwit, and with regard to the railroad even we may say it is as broad as it is long. To make a railroad round the world available to all mankind is equivalent to grading the whole surface of the planet. Men have an indistinct notion that if they keep up this activity of joint stocks and spades long enough all will at length ride somewhere, in next to no time, and for nothing; but though a crowd rushes to the depot, and the conductor shouts "All aboard!" when the smoke is blown away and the vapor condensed, it will be perceived that a few are riding, but the rest are run over—and it will be called, and will be, "A melancholy accident." No doubt they can ride at last who shall have earned their fare, that is, if they survive so long, but they will probably have lost their elasticity and desire to travel by that time. This spending of the best part of one's life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it reminds me of the Englishman who went to India to make a fortune first, in order that he might return to England and live the life of a poet. He should have gone up garret at once. "What!" exclaim a million Irishmen starting up from all the shanties in the land, "is not this railroad which we have built a good thing?" Yes, I answer, comparatively good, that is, you might have done worse; but I wish, as you are brothers of mine, that you could have spent your time better than digging in this dirt.

Before I finished my house, wishing to earn ten or twelve dollars by some honest and agreeable method, in order to meet my unusual expenses, I planted about two acres and a half of light and sandy soil near it chiefly with beans, but also a small part with potatoes, corn, peas, and turnips. The whole lot contains eleven acres, mostly growing up to pines and hickories, and was sold the preceding season for eight dollars and eight cents an acre. One farmer said that it was "good for nothing but to raise cheeping squirrels on." I put no manure whatever on this land, not being the owner, but merely a squatter, and not expecting to cultivate so much again, and I did not quite hoe it all once. I got out several cords of stumps in plowing, which supplied me with fuel for a long time, and left small circles of virgin mould, easily distinguishable through the summer by the greater luxuriance of the beans there. The dead and for the most part unmerchantable wood behind my house, and the driftwood from the pond, have supplied the remainder of my fuel. I was obliged to hire a team and a man for the plowing, though I held the plow myself. My farm outgoes for the first season were, for implements, seed, work, etc., $14.72-1/2. The seed corn was given me. This never costs anything to speak of, unless you plant more than enough. I got twelve bushels of beans, and eighteen bushels of potatoes, beside some peas and sweet corn. The yellow corn and turnips were too late to come to anything. My whole income from the farm was

                                 $ 23.44
   Deducting the outgoes.........  14.72-1/2
                                     ————
   There are left.................. $  8.71-1/2

beside produce consumed and on hand at the time this estimate was made of the value of $4.50—the amount on hand much more than balancing a little grass which I did not raise. All things considered, that is, considering the importance of a man's soul and of today, notwithstanding the short time occupied by my experiment, nay, partly even because of its transient character, I believe that that was doing better than any farmer in Concord did that year.

The next year I did better still, for I spaded up all the land which I required, about a third of an acre, and I learned from the experience of both years, not being in the least awed by many celebrated works on husbandry, Arthur Young among the rest, that if one would live simply and eat only the crop which he raised, and raise no more than he ate, and not exchange it for an insufficient quantity of more luxurious and expensive things, he would need to cultivate only a few rods of ground, and that it would be cheaper to spade up that than to use oxen to plow it, and to select a fresh spot from time to time than to manure the old, and he could do all his necessary farm work as it were with his left hand at odd hours in the summer; and thus he would not be tied to an ox, or horse, or cow, or pig, as at present. I desire to speak impartially on this point, and as one not interested in the success or failure of the present economical and social arrangements. I was more independent than any farmer in Concord, for I was not anchored to a house or farm, but could follow the bent of my genius, which is a very crooked one, every moment. Beside being better off than they already, if my house had been burned or my crops had failed, I should have been nearly as well off as before.

I am wont to think that men are not so much the keepers of herds as herds are the keepers of men, the former are so much the freer. Men and oxen exchange work; but if we consider necessary work only, the oxen will be seen to have greatly the advantage, their farm is so much the larger. Man does some of his part of the exchange work in his six weeks of haying, and it is no boy's play. Certainly no nation that lived simply in all respects, that is, no nation of philosophers, would commit so great a blunder as to use the labor of animals. True, there never was and is not likely soon to be a nation of philosophers, nor am I certain it is desirable that there should be. However, I should never have broken a horse or bull and taken him to board for any work he might do for me, for fear I should become a horseman or a herdsman merely; and if society seems to be the gainer by so doing, are we certain that what is one man's gain is not another's loss, and that the stable-boy has equal cause with his master to be satisfied? Granted that some public works would not have been constructed without this aid, and let man share the glory of such with the ox and horse; does it follow that he could not have accomplished works yet more worthy of himself in that case? When men begin to do, not merely unnecessary or artistic, but luxurious and idle work, with their assistance, it is inevitable that a few do all the exchange work with the oxen, or, in other words, become the slaves of the strongest. Man thus not only works for the animal within him, but, for a symbol of this, he works for the animal without him. Though we have many substantial houses of brick or stone, the prosperity of the farmer is still measured by the degree to which the barn overshadows the house. This town is said to have the largest houses for oxen, cows, and horses hereabouts, and it is not behindhand in its public buildings; but there are very few halls for free worship or free speech in this county. It should not be by their architecture, but why not even by their power of abstract thought, that nations should seek to commemorate themselves? How much more admirable the Bhagvat-Geeta than all the ruins of the East! Towers and temples are the luxury of princes. A simple and independent mind does not toil at the bidding of any prince. Genius is not a retainer to any emperor, nor is its material silver, or gold, or marble, except to a trifling extent. To what end, pray, is so much stone hammered? In Arcadia, when I was there, I did not see any hammering stone. Nations are possessed with an insane ambition to perpetuate the memory of themselves by the amount of hammered stone they leave. What if equal pains were taken to smooth and polish their manners? One piece of good sense would be more memorable than a monument as high as the moon. I love better to see stones in place. The grandeur of Thebes was a vulgar grandeur. More sensible is a rod of stone wall that bounds an honest man's field than a hundred-gated Thebes that has wandered farther from the true end of life. The religion and civilization which are barbaric and heathenish build splendid temples; but what you might call Christianity does not. Most of the stone a nation hammers goes toward its tomb only. It buries itself alive. As for the Pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs. I might possibly invent some excuse for them and him, but I have no time for it. As for the religion and love of art of the builders, it is much the same all the world over, whether the building be an Egyptian temple or the United States Bank. It costs more than it comes to. The mainspring is vanity, assisted by the love of garlic and bread and butter. Mr. Balcom, a promising young architect, designs it on the back of his Vitruvius, with hard pencil and ruler, and the job is let out to Dobson & Sons, stonecutters. When the thirty centuries begin to look down on it, mankind begin to look up at it. As for your high towers and monuments, there was a crazy fellow once in this town who undertook to dig through to China, and he got so far that, as he said, he heard the Chinese pots and kettles rattle; but I think that I shall not go out of my way to admire the hole which he made. Many are concerned about the monuments of the West and the East—to know who built them. For my part, I should like to know who in those days did not build them—who were above such trifling. But to proceed with my statistics.

By surveying, carpentry, and day-labor of various other kinds in the village in the meanwhile, for I have as many trades as fingers, I had earned $13.34. The expense of food for eight months, namely, from July 4th to March 1st, the time when these estimates were made, though I lived there more than two years—not counting potatoes, a little green corn, and some peas, which I had raised, nor considering the value of what was on hand at the last date—was

Rice.................... $ 1.73-1/2
    Molasses.................  1.73     
     Cheapest form of the saccharine.
    Rye meal.................  1.04-3/4
    Indian meal..............  0.99-3/4  
        Cheaper than rye.
    Pork.....................  0.22
    All experiments which failed:
    Flour....................  0.88  
      Costs more than Indian meal,
      both money and trouble.
    Sugar....................  0.80
    Lard.....................  0.65
    Apples...................  0.25
    Dried apple..............  0.22
    Sweet potatoes...........  0.10
    One pumpkin..............  0.06
    One watermelon...........  0.02
    Salt.....................  0.03

Yes, I did eat $8.74, all told; but I should not thus unblushingly publish my guilt, if I did not know that most of my readers were equally guilty with myself, and that their deeds would look no better in print. The next year I sometimes caught a mess of fish for my dinner, and once I went so far as to slaughter a woodchuck which ravaged my bean-field—effect his transmigration, as a Tartar would say—and devour him, partly for experiment's sake; but though it afforded me a momentary enjoyment, notwithstanding a musky flavor, I saw that the longest use would not make that a good practice, however it might seem to have your woodchucks ready dressed by the village butcher.

Clothing and some incidental expenses within the same dates, though little can be inferred from this item, amounted to

                                     $8.40-3/4
    Oil and some household utensils........  2.00

So that all the pecuniary outgoes, excepting for washing and mending, which for the most part were done out of the house, and their bills have not yet been received—and these are all and more than all the ways by which money necessarily goes out in this part of the world—were

House................................. $ 28.12-1/2
   Farm one year........................... 14.72-1/2
   Food eight months.......................  8.74
   Clothing, etc., eight months............  8.40-3/4
   Oil, etc., eight months.................  2.00
                                           ——————
       In all............................ $ 61.99-3/4

I address myself now to those of my readers who have a living to get. And to meet this I have for farm produce sold

                                   $23.44
  Earned by day-labor................  13.34
                                        ————
  In all............................. $36.78,

which subtracted from the sum of the outgoes leaves a balance of $25.21-3/4 on the one side—this being very nearly the means with which I started, and the measure of expenses to be incurred—and on the other, beside the leisure and independence and health thus secured, a comfortable house for me as long as I choose to occupy it.

These statistics, however accidental and therefore uninstructive they may appear, as they have a certain completeness, have a certain value also. Nothing was given me of which I have not rendered some account. It appears from the above estimate, that my food alone cost me in money about twenty-seven cents a week. It was, for nearly two years after this, rye and Indian meal without yeast, potatoes, rice, a very little salt pork, molasses, and salt; and my drink, water. It was fit that I should live on rice, mainly, who love so well the philosophy of India. To meet the objections of some inveterate cavillers, I may as well state, that if I dined out occasionally, as I always had done, and I trust shall have opportunities to do again, it was frequently to the detriment of my domestic arrangements. But the dining out, being, as I have stated, a constant element, does not in the least affect a comparative statement like this.

I learned from my two years' experience that it would cost incredibly little trouble to obtain one's necessary food, even in this latitude; that a man may use as simple a diet as the animals, and yet retain health and strength. I have made a satisfactory dinner, satisfactory on several accounts, simply off a dish of purslane (Portulaca oleracea) which I gathered in my cornfield, boiled and salted. I give the Latin on account of the savoriness of the trivial name. And pray what more can a reasonable man desire, in peaceful times, in ordinary noons, than a sufficient number of ears of green sweet corn boiled, with the addition of salt? Even the little variety which I used was a yielding to the demands of appetite, and not of health. Yet men have come to such a pass that they frequently starve, not for want of necessaries, but for want of luxuries; and I know a good woman who thinks that her son lost his life because he took to drinking water only.

The reader will perceive that I am treating the subject rather from an economic than a dietetic point of view, and he will not venture to put my abstemiousness to the test unless he has a well-stocked larder.

Bread I at first made of pure Indian meal and salt, genuine hoe-cakes, which I baked before my fire out of doors on a shingle or the end of a stick of timber sawed off in building my house; but it was wont to get smoked and to have a piny flavor. I tried flour also; but have at last found a mixture of rye and Indian meal most convenient and agreeable. In cold weather it was no little amusement to bake several small loaves of this in succession, tending and turning them as carefully as an Egyptian his hatching eggs. They were a real cereal fruit which I ripened, and they had to my senses a fragrance like that of other noble fruits, which I kept in as long as possible by wrapping them in cloths. I made a study of the ancient and indispensable art of bread-making, consulting such authorities as offered, going back to the primitive days and first invention of the unleavened kind, when from the wildness of nuts and meats men first reached the mildness and refinement of this diet, and travelling gradually down in my studies through that accidental souring of the dough which, it is supposed, taught the leavening process, and through the various fermentations thereafter, till I came to "good, sweet, wholesome bread," the staff of life. Leaven, which some deem the soul of bread, the spiritus which fills its cellular tissue, which is religiously preserved like the vestal fire—some precious bottleful, I suppose, first brought over in the Mayflower, did the business for America, and its influence is still rising, swelling, spreading, in cerealian billows over the land—this seed I regularly and faithfully procured from the village, till at length one morning I forgot the rules, and scalded my yeast; by which accident I discovered that even this was not indispensable—for my discoveries were not by the synthetic but analytic process—and I have gladly omitted it since, though most housewives earnestly assured me that safe and wholesome bread without yeast might not be, and elderly people prophesied a speedy decay of the vital forces. Yet I find it not to be an essential ingredient, and after going without it for a year am still in the land of the living; and I am glad to escape the trivialness of carrying a bottleful in my pocket, which would sometimes pop and discharge its contents to my discomfiture. It is simpler and more respectable to omit it. Man is an animal who more than any other can adapt himself to all climates and circumstances. Neither did I put any sal-soda, or other acid or alkali, into my bread. It would seem that I made it according to the recipe which Marcus Porcius Cato gave about two centuries before Christ. "Panem depsticium sic facito. Manus mortariumque bene lavato. Farinam in mortarium indito, aquae paulatim addito, subigitoque pulchre. Ubi bene subegeris, defingito, coquitoque sub testu." Which I take to mean,—"Make kneaded bread thus. Wash your hands and trough well. Put the meal into the trough, add water gradually, and knead it thoroughly. When you have kneaded it well, mould it, and bake it under a cover," that is, in a baking kettle. Not a word about leaven. But I did not always use this staff of life. At one time, owing to the emptiness of my purse, I saw none of it for more than a month.

Every New Englander might easily raise all his own breadstuffs in this land of rye and Indian corn, and not depend on distant and fluctuating markets for them. Yet so far are we from simplicity and independence that, in Concord, fresh and sweet meal is rarely sold in the shops, and hominy and corn in a still coarser form are hardly used by any. For the most part the farmer gives to his cattle and hogs the grain of his own producing, and buys flour, which is at least no more wholesome, at a greater cost, at the store. I saw that I could easily raise my bushel or two of rye and Indian corn, for the former will grow on the poorest land, and the latter does not require the best, and grind them in a hand-mill, and so do without rice and pork; and if I must have some concentrated sweet, I found by experiment that I could make a very good molasses either of pumpkins or beets, and I knew that I needed only to set out a few maples to obtain it more easily still, and while these were growing I could use various substitutes beside those which I have named. "For," as the Forefathers sang,—

"we can make liquor to sweeten our lips
   Of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips."

Finally, as for salt, that grossest of groceries, to obtain this might be a fit occasion for a visit to the seashore, or, if I did without it altogether, I should probably drink the less water. I do not learn that the Indians ever troubled themselves to go after it.

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

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

My furniture, part of which I made myself—and the rest cost me nothing of which I have not rendered an account—consisted of a bed, a table, a desk, three chairs, a looking-glass three inches in diameter, a pair of tongs and andirons, a kettle, a skillet, and a frying-pan, a dipper, a wash-bowl, two knives and forks, three plates, one cup, one spoon, a jug for oil, a jug for molasses, and a japanned lamp. None is so poor that he need sit on a pumpkin. That is shiftlessness. There is a plenty of such chairs as I like best in the village garrets to be had for taking them away. Furniture! Thank God, I can sit and I can stand without the aid of a furniture warehouse. What man but a philosopher would not be ashamed to see his furniture packed in a cart and going up country exposed to the light of heaven and the eyes of men, a beggarly account of empty boxes? That is Spaulding's furniture. I could never tell from inspecting such a load whether it belonged to a so-called rich man or a poor one; the owner always seemed poverty-stricken. Indeed, the more you have of such things the poorer you are. Each load looks as if it contained the contents of a dozen shanties; and if one shanty is poor, this is a dozen times as poor. Pray, for what do we move ever but to get rid of our furniture, our exuviœ: at last to go from this world to another newly furnished, and leave this to be burned? It is the same as if all these traps were buckled to a man's belt, and he could not move over the rough country where our lines are cast without dragging them—dragging his trap. He was a lucky fox that left his tail in the trap. The muskrat will gnaw his third leg off to be free. No wonder man has lost his elasticity. How often he is at a dead set! "Sir, if I may be so bold, what do you mean by a dead set?" If you are a seer, whenever you meet a man you will see all that he owns, ay, and much that he pretends to disown, behind him, even to his kitchen furniture and all the trumpery which he saves and will not burn, and he will appear to be harnessed to it and making what headway he can. I think that the man is at a dead set who has got through a knot-hole or gateway where his sledge load of furniture cannot follow him. I cannot but feel compassion when I hear some trig, compact-looking man, seemingly free, all girded and ready, speak of his "furniture," as whether it is insured or not. "But what shall I do with my furniture?"—My gay butterfly is entangled in a spider's web then. Even those who seem for a long while not to have any, if you inquire more narrowly you will find have some stored in somebody's barn. I look upon England today as an old gentleman who is travelling with a great deal of baggage, trumpery which has accumulated from long housekeeping, which he has not the courage to burn; great trunk, little trunk, bandbox, and bundle. Throw away the first three at least. It would surpass the powers of a well man nowadays to take up his bed and walk, and I should certainly advise a sick one to lay down his bed and run. When I have met an immigrant tottering under a bundle which contained his all—looking like an enormous wen which had grown out of the nape of his neck—I have pitied him, not because that was his all, but because he had all that to carry. If I have got to drag my trap, I will take care that it be a light one and do not nip me in a vital part. But perchance it would be wisest never to put one's paw into it.

I would observe, by the way, that it costs me nothing for curtains, for I have no gazers to shut out but the sun and moon, and I am willing that they should look in. The moon will not sour milk nor taint meat of mine, nor will the sun injure my furniture or fade my carpet; and if he is sometimes too warm a friend, I find it still better economy to retreat behind some curtain which nature has provided, than to add a single item to the details of housekeeping. A lady once offered me a mat, but as I had no room to spare within the house, nor time to spare within or without to shake it, I declined it, preferring to wipe my feet on the sod before my door. It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil.

Not long since I was present at the auction of a deacon's effects, for his life had not been ineffectual:—

"The evil that men do lives after them."

As usual, a great proportion was trumpery which had begun to accumulate in his father's day. Among the rest was a dried tapeworm. And now, after lying half a century in his garret and other dust holes, these things were not burned; instead of a bonfire, or purifying destruction of them, there was an auction, or increasing of them. The neighbors eagerly collected to view them, bought them all, and carefully transported them to their garrets and dust holes, to lie there till their estates are settled, when they will start again. When a man dies he kicks the dust.

The customs of some savage nations might, perchance, be profitably imitated by us, for they at least go through the semblance of casting their slough annually; they have the idea of the thing, whether they have the reality or not. Would it not be well if we were to celebrate such a "busk," or "feast of first fruits," as Bartram describes to have been the custom of the Mucclasse Indians? "When a town celebrates the busk," says he, "having previously provided themselves with new clothes, new pots, pans, and other household utensils and furniture, they collect all their worn out clothes and other despicable things, sweep and cleanse their houses, squares, and the whole town of their filth, which with all the remaining grain and other old provisions they cast together into one common heap, and consume it with fire. After having taken medicine, and fasted for three days, all the fire in the town is extinguished. During this fast they abstain from the gratification of every appetite and passion whatever. A general amnesty is proclaimed; all malefactors may return to their town."

"On the fourth morning, the high priest, by rubbing dry wood together, produces new fire in the public square, from whence every habitation in the town is supplied with the new and pure flame."

They then feast on the new corn and fruits, and dance and sing for three days, "and the four following days they receive visits and rejoice with their friends from neighboring towns who have in like manner purified and prepared themselves."

The Mexicans also practised a similar purification at the end of every fifty-two years, in the belief that it was time for the world to come to an end.

I have scarcely heard of a truer sacrament, that is, as the dictionary defines it, "outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace," than this, and I have no doubt that they were originally inspired directly from Heaven to do thus, though they have no Biblical record of the revelation.

For more than five years I maintained myself thus solely by the labor of my hands, and I found that, by working about six weeks in a year, I could meet all the expenses of living. The whole of my winters, as well as most of my summers, I had free and clear for study. I have thoroughly tried school-keeping, and found that my expenses were in proportion, or rather out of proportion, to my income, for I was obliged to dress and train, not to say think and believe, accordingly, and I lost my time into the bargain. As I did not teach for the good of my fellow-men, but simply for a livelihood, this was a failure. I have tried trade but I found that it would take ten years to get under way in that, and that then I should probably be on my way to the devil. I was actually afraid that I might by that time be doing what is called a good business. When formerly I was looking about to see what I could do for a living, some sad experience in conforming to the wishes of friends being fresh in my mind to tax my ingenuity, I thought often and seriously of picking huckleberries; that surely I could do, and its small profits might suffice—for my greatest skill has been to want but little—so little capital it required, so little distraction from my wonted moods, I foolishly thought. While my acquaintances went unhesitatingly into trade or the professions, I contemplated this occupation as most like theirs; ranging the hills all summer to pick the berries which came in my way, and thereafter carelessly dispose of them; so, to keep the flocks of Admetus. I also dreamed that I might gather the wild herbs, or carry evergreens to such villagers as loved to be reminded of the woods, even to the city, by hay-cart loads. But I have since learned that trade curses everything it handles; and though you trade in messages from heaven, the whole curse of trade attaches to the business.

As I preferred some things to others, and especially valued my freedom, as I could fare hard and yet succeed well, I did not wish to spend my time in earning rich carpets or other fine furniture, or delicate cookery, or a house in the Grecian or the Gothic style just yet. If there are any to whom it is no interruption to acquire these things, and who know how to use them when acquired, I relinquish to them the pursuit. Some are "industrious," and appear to love labor for its own sake, or perhaps because it keeps them out of worse mischief; to such I have at present nothing to say. Those who would not know what to do with more leisure than they now enjoy, I might advise to work twice as hard as they do—work till they pay for themselves, and get their free papers. For myself I found that the occupation of a day-laborer was the most independent of any, especially as it required only thirty or forty days in a year to support one. The laborer's day ends with the going down of the sun, and he is then free to devote himself to his chosen pursuit, independent of his labor; but his employer, who speculates from month to month, has no respite from one end of the year to the other.

In short, I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one's self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely; as the pursuits of the simpler nations are still the sports of the more artificial. It is not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his brow, unless he sweats easier than I do.

One young man of my acquaintance, who has inherited some acres, told me that he thought he should live as I did, if he had the means. I would not have any one adopt my mode of living on any account; for, beside that before he has fairly learned it I may have found out another for myself, I desire that there may be as many different persons in the world as possible; but I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way, and not his father's or his mother's or his neighbor's instead. The youth may build or plant or sail, only let him not be hindered from doing that which he tells me he would like to do. It is by a mathematical point only that we are wise, as the sailor or the fugitive slave keeps the polestar in his eye; but that is sufficient guidance for all our life. We may not arrive at our port within a calculable period, but we would preserve the true course.

Undoubtedly, in this case, what is true for one is truer still for a thousand, as a large house is not proportionally more expensive than a small one, since one roof may cover, one cellar underlie, and one wall separate several apartments. But for my part, I preferred the solitary dwelling. Moreover, it will commonly be cheaper to build the whole yourself than to convince another of the advantage of the common wall; and when you have done this, the common partition, to be much cheaper, must be a thin one, and that other may prove a bad neighbor, and also not keep his side in repair. The only co-operation which is commonly possible is exceedingly partial and superficial; and what little true co-operation there is, is as if it were not, being a harmony inaudible to men. If a man has faith, he will co-operate with equal faith everywhere; if he has not faith, he will continue to live like the rest of the world, whatever company he is joined to. To co-operate in the highest as well as the lowest sense, means to get our living together. I heard it proposed lately that two young men should travel together over the world, the one without money, earning his means as he went, before the mast and behind the plow, the other carrying a bill of exchange in his pocket. It was easy to see that they could not long be companions or co-operate, since one would not operate at all. They would part at the first interesting crisis in their adventures. Above all, as I have implied, the man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off.

But all this is very selfish, I have heard some of my townsmen say. I confess that I have hitherto indulged very little in philanthropic enterprises. I have made some sacrifices to a sense of duty, and among others have sacrificed this pleasure also. There are those who have used all their arts to persuade me to undertake the support of some poor family in the town; and if I had nothing to do—for the devil finds employment for the idle—I might try my hand at some such pastime as that. However, when I have thought to indulge myself in this respect, and lay their Heaven under an obligation by maintaining certain poor persons in all respects as comfortably as I maintain myself, and have even ventured so far as to make them the offer, they have one and all unhesitatingly preferred to remain poor. While my townsmen and women are devoted in so many ways to the good of their fellows, I trust that one at least may be spared to other and less humane pursuits. You must have a genius for charity as well as for anything else. As for Doing-good, that is one of the professions which are full. Moreover, I have tried it fairly, and, strange as it may seem, am satisfied that it does not agree with my constitution. Probably I should not consciously and deliberately forsake my particular calling to do the good which society demands of me, to save the universe from annihilation; and I believe that a like but infinitely greater steadfastness elsewhere is all that now preserves it. But I would not stand between any man and his genius; and to him who does this work, which I decline, with his whole heart and soul and life, I would say, Persevere, even if the world call it doing evil, as it is most likely they will.

I am far from supposing that my case is a peculiar one; no doubt many of my readers would make a similar defence. At doing something—I will not engage that my neighbors shall pronounce it good—I do not hesitate to say that I should be a capital fellow to hire; but what that is, it is for my employer to find out. What good I do, in the common sense of that word, must be aside from my main path, and for the most part wholly unintended. Men say, practically, Begin where you are and such as you are, without aiming mainly to become of more worth, and with kindness aforethought go about doing good. If I were to preach at all in this strain, I should say rather, Set about being good. As if the sun should stop when he had kindled his fires up to the splendor of a moon or a star of the sixth magnitude, and go about like a Robin Goodfellow, peeping in at every cottage window, inspiring lunatics, and tainting meats, and making darkness visible, instead of steadily increasing his genial heat and beneficence till he is of such brightness that no mortal can look him in the face, and then, and in the meanwhile too, going about the world in his own orbit, doing it good, or rather, as a truer philosophy has discovered, the world going about him getting good. When Phaeton, wishing to prove his heavenly birth by his beneficence, had the sun's chariot but one day, and drove out of the beaten track, he burned several blocks of houses in the lower streets of heaven, and scorched the surface of the earth, and dried up every spring, and made the great desert of Sahara, till at length Jupiter hurled him headlong to the earth with a thunderbolt, and the sun, through grief at his death, did not shine for a year.

There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. It is human, it is divine, carrion. If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life, as from that dry and parching wind of the African deserts called the simoom, which fills the mouth and nose and ears and eyes with dust till you are suffocated, for fear that I should get some of his good done to me—some of its virus mingled with my blood. No—in this case I would rather suffer evil the natural way. A man is not a good man to me because he will feed me if I should be starving, or warm me if I should be freezing, or pull me out of a ditch if I should ever fall into one. I can find you a Newfoundland dog that will do as much. Philanthropy is not love for one's fellow-man in the broadest sense. Howard was no doubt an exceedingly kind and worthy man in his way, and has his reward; but, comparatively speaking, what are a hundred Howards to us, if their philanthropy do not help us in our best estate, when we are most worthy to be helped? I never heard of a philanthropic meeting in which it was sincerely proposed to do any good to me, or the like of me.

The Jesuits were quite balked by those Indians who, being burned at the stake, suggested new modes of torture to their tormentors. Being superior to physical suffering, it sometimes chanced that they were superior to any consolation which the missionaries could offer; and the law to do as you would be done by fell with less persuasiveness on the ears of those who, for their part, did not care how they were done by, who loved their enemies after a new fashion, and came very near freely forgiving them all they did.

Be sure that you give the poor the aid they most need, though it be your example which leaves them far behind. If you give money, spend yourself with it, and do not merely abandon it to them. We make curious mistakes sometimes. Often the poor man is not so cold and hungry as he is dirty and ragged and gross. It is partly his taste, and not merely his misfortune. If you give him money, he will perhaps buy more rags with it. I was wont to pity the clumsy Irish laborers who cut ice on the pond, in such mean and ragged clothes, while I shivered in my more tidy and somewhat more fashionable garments, till, one bitter cold day, one who had slipped into the water came to my house to warm him, and I saw him strip off three pairs of pants and two pairs of stockings ere he got down to the skin, though they were dirty and ragged enough, it is true, and that he could afford to refuse the extra garments which I offered him, he had so many intra ones. This ducking was the very thing he needed. Then I began to pity myself, and I saw that it would be a greater charity to bestow on me a flannel shirt than a whole slop-shop on him. There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve. It is the pious slave-breeder devoting the proceeds of every tenth slave to buy a Sunday's liberty for the rest. Some show their kindness to the poor by employing them in their kitchens. Would they not be kinder if they employed themselves there? You boast of spending a tenth part of your income in charity; maybe you should spend the nine tenths so, and done with it. Society recovers only a tenth part of the property then. Is this owing to the generosity of him in whose possession it is found, or to the remissness of the officers of justice?

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

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

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

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

I read in the Gulistan, or Flower Garden, of Sheik Sadi of Shiraz, that "they asked a wise man, saying: Of the many celebrated trees which the Most High God has created lofty and umbrageous, they call none azad, or free, excepting the cypress, which bears no fruit; what mystery is there in this? He replied, Each has its appropriate produce, and appointed season, during the continuance of which it is fresh and blooming, and during their absence dry and withered; to neither of which states is the cypress exposed, being always flourishing; and of this nature are the azads, or religious independents.—Fix not thy heart on that which is transitory; for the Dijlah, or Tigris, will continue to flow through Bagdad after the race of caliphs is extinct: if thy hand has plenty, be liberal as the date tree; but if it affords nothing to give away, be an azad, or free man, like the cypress."

COMPLEMENTAL VERSES

          The Pretensions of Poverty

  Thou dost presume too much, poor needy wretch,
  To claim a station in the firmament
  Because thy humble cottage, or thy tub,
  Nurses some lazy or pedantic virtue
  In the cheap sunshine or by shady springs,
  With roots and pot-herbs; where thy right hand,
  Tearing those humane passions from the mind,
  Upon whose stocks fair blooming virtues flourish,
  Degradeth nature, and benumbeth sense,
  And, Gorgon-like, turns active men to stone.
  We not require the dull society
  Of your necessitated temperance,
  Or that unnatural stupidity
  That knows nor joy nor sorrow; nor your forc'd
  Falsely exalted passive fortitude
  Above the active.  This low abject brood,
  That fix their seats in mediocrity,
  Become your servile minds; but we advance
  Such virtues only as admit excess,
  Brave, bounteous acts, regal magnificence,
  All-seeing prudence, magnanimity
  That knows no bound, and that heroic virtue
  For which antiquity hath left no name,
  But patterns only, such as Hercules,
  Achilles, Theseus.  Back to thy loath'd cell;
  And when thou seest the new enlightened sphere,
  Study to know but what those worthies were.
                                 T. CAREW

 

经济篇

当我写后面那些篇页,或者后面那一大堆文字的时候,我是在孤独地生活着,在森林中,在马萨诸塞州的康科德城,瓦尔登湖的湖岸上,在我亲手建筑的木屋里,距离任何邻居一英里,只靠着我双手劳动,养活我自己。在那里,我住了两年又两个月。目前,我又是文明生活中的过客了。

要不是市民们曾特别仔细地打听我的生活方式,我本不会这般唐突,拿私事来读请读者注意的。有些人说我这个生活方式怪僻,虽然我根本不觉得怪僻,考虑到我那些境遇,我只觉得非常自然,而且合情合理呢。有些人则问我有什么吃的;我是否感到寂寞,我害怕吗,等等。另下些人还好奇得很,想知道我的哪一部分收入捐给慈善事业了,还有一些人,家大口阔,想知道我赡养了多少个贫儿。所以这本书在答复这一类的问题时,请对我并无特殊兴趣的读者给以谅解。许多书,避而不用所谓第一人称的“我”字;本书是用的;这本书的特点便是“我”字用得特别多。其实,无论什么书都是第一人称在发言,我们却常把这点忘掉了。如果我的知人之深,比得上我的自知之明,我就不会畅谈自我,谈那么多了。不幸我阅历浅陋,我只得局限于这一个主题。但是,我对于每一个作家,都不仅仅要求他写他听来的别人的生活,还要求他迟早能简单而诚恳地写出自己的生活,写得好像是他从远方寄给亲人似的;因为我觉得一个人若生活得诚恳,他一定是生活在一个遥远的地方了。下面的这些文字,对于清寒的学生,或许特别地适宜。至于其余的读者,我想他们是会取其适用的。因为,没有人会削足适履的;只有合乎尺寸的衣履,才能对一个人有用。

我乐意诉说的事物,未必是关于中国人和桑威奇岛人,而是关于你们,这些文字的读者,生活在新英格兰的居民,关于诸君的遭遇的,特别是关于生逢此世的本地居民的身外之物或环境的,诸君生活在这个人世之间,度过了什么样的生活哪;你们生活得如此糟糕是否必要呢;这种生活是否还能改善改善呢?我在康科德曾到过许多地区;无论在店铺,在公事房,在田野,到处我都看到,这里的居民仿佛都在赎罪一样,从事着成千种的惊人苦役。我曾经听说过婆罗门教的教徒,坐在四面火焰之中,眼盯着太阳,或在烈火的上面倒悬着身体;或侧转了头望青天,“直到他们无法恢复原状,更因为脖子是扭转的,所以除了液体,别的食品都不能流入胃囊中”,或者,终生用一条铁链,把自己锁在一株树下:或者,像毛毛虫一样,用他们的身体来丈量帝国的广袤土地;或者,他们独脚站立在柱子顶上——然而啊,便是这种有意识的赎罪苦行,也不见得比我天天看见的景象更不可信,更使人心惊肉跳。赫拉克勒斯从事的十二个苦役跟我的邻居所从事的苦役一比较,简直不算一回事,因为他一共也只有十二个,做完就完了,可是我从没有看到过我的邻人杀死或捕获过任何怪兽,也没有看到过他们做完过任何苦役。他们也没有依俄拉斯这样的赫拉克勒斯的忠仆,用一块火红的烙铁,来烙印那九头怪兽,它是被割去了一个头,还会长出两个头来的。

我看见青年人,我的市民同胞,他们的不幸是,生下地来就继承了田地、庐舍、谷仓、牛羊和农具;得到它们倒是容易,舍弃它们可困难了。他们不如诞生在空旷的牧场上,让狼来给他们喂奶,他们倒能够看清楚了,自己是在何等的环境辛勤劳动。谁使他们变成了土地的奴隶?为什么有人能够享受六十英亩田地的供养,而更多人却命定了,只能啄食尘土呢?为什么他们刚生下地,就得自掘坟墓?他们不能不过人的生活,不能不推动这一切,一个劲儿地做工,尽可能地把光景过得好些。我曾遇见过多少个可怜的、永生的灵魂啊,几乎被压死在生命的负担下面,他们无法呼吸,他们在生命道上爬动,推动他们前面的一个七十五英尺长,四十英尺宽的大谷仓,一个从未打扫过的奥吉亚斯的牛圈,还要推动上百英亩土地,锄地、芟草,还要放牧和护林!可是,另一些并没有继承产业的人,固然没有这种上代传下的、不必要的磨难,却也得为他们几立方英尺的血肉之躯,委屈地生活,拼性命地做工哪。

人可是在一个大错底下劳动的啊。人的健美的躯体,大半很快地被犁头耕了过去,化为泥土中的肥料。像一本经书里说的,一种似是而非的,通称“必然”的命运支配了人,他们所积累的财富,被飞蛾和锈霉再腐蚀掉,并且招来了胠箧的盗贼。这是一个愚蠢的生命,生前或者不明白,到临终,人们终会明白的,据说,杜卡利盎和彼尔在创造人类时,是拿石头扔到背后去。诗云:

 Inde genus durum sumus,experiensque laborum,

 Et doeumenta damus qua simus origine nati.

后来,罗利也吟咏了两句响亮的诗:

“从此人心坚硬,任劳任怨,

证明我们的身体本是岩石。”

真是太盲目地遵守错误的神示了,把石头从头顶扔到背后去,也不看一看它们坠落到什么地方去。

大多数人,即使是在这个比较自由的国土上的人们,也仅仅因为无知和错误,满载着虚构的忧虑,忙不完的粗活,却不能采集生命的美果。操劳过度,使他们的手指粗笨了,颤抖得又大厉害,不适用于采集了。真的,劳动的人,一天又一天,找不到空闲来使得自己真正地完整无损;他无法保持人与人间最勇毅的关系;他的劳动,一到市场上,总是跌价。除了做一架机器之外,他没时间来做别的。他怎能记得他是无知的呢——他是全靠他的无知而活下来的——他不经常绞尽脑汁吗?在评说他们之前,我们先要兔费地使他穿暖、吃饱,并用我们的兴奋剂使他恢复健康。我们天性中最优美的品格,好比果实上的粉霜一样,是只能轻手轻脚,才得保全的。然而,人与人之间就是没有能如此温柔地相处。

读者之中,这些个情况我们都知道,有人是穷困的,觉得生活不容易,有时候,甚而至于可以说连气也喘不过来。我毫不怀疑在本书的读者之中,有人不能为那吃下了肚的全部饭食和迅速磨损或已经破损的衣着付出钱来,好容易忙里偷了闲,才能读这几页文字,那还是从债主那里偷来的时间。你们这许多人过的是何等低卑、躲来躲去的生活啊,这很明显,因为我的眼力已经在阅历的磨刀石上磨利了;你们时常进退维谷,要想做成一笔生意来偿清债务,你们深陷在一个十分古老的泥沼中,拉丁文的所谓aes alienum——别人的铜币中,可不是有些钱币用铜来铸的吗;就在别人的铜钱中,你们生了,死了,最后葬掉了;你们答应了明天偿清,又一个明天偿清,直到死在今天,而债务还未了结;你们求恩,乞怜,请求照顾,用了多少方法总算没有坐牢;你们撒谎,拍马,投票,把自己缩进了一个规规矩矩的硬壳里,或者吹嘘自己,摆出一副稀薄如云雾的慷慨和大度的模样,这才使你们的邻人信任你,允许你们给他们做鞋子,制帽子,或上衣,或车辆,或让你们给他们代买食品;你们在一只破箱笼里,或者在灰泥后面的一只袜子里,塞进了一把钱币,或者塞在银行的砖屋里,那里是更安全了;不管塞在哪里,塞多少,更不管那数目是如何地微少,为了谨防患病而筹钱,反而把你们自己弄得病倒了。

有时我奇怪,何以我们如此轻率,我几乎要说,竟然实行了罪恶昭彰的、从外国带进黑奴来的奴役制度。有那么多苛虐而熟练的奴隶主,奴役了南方和北方的奴隶。一个南方的监守人是毒辣的,而一个北方的监守人更加坏,可是你们自己做起奴隶的监守人来是最最坏的。谈什么——人的神圣!看大路上的赶马人,日夜向市场赶路,在他们的内心里,有什么神圣的思想在激荡着呢?他们的最高职责是给驴马饲草饮水!和运输的赢利相比较,他们的命运算什么?他们还不是在给一位繁忙的绅士赶驴马?他们有什么神圣,有什么不朽呢?请看他们匍伏潜行,一整天里战战兢兢,毫不是神圣的,也不是不朽的,他们看到自己的行业,知道自己是属于奴隶或囚徒这种名称的人。和我们的自知之明相比较,公众舆论这暴戾的君主也显得微弱无力。正是一个人怎么看待自己,决定了此人的命运,指向了他的归宿。要在西印度的州省中谈论心灵与想象的自我解放,可没有一个威勃尔福司来促进呢。再请想一想,这个大陆上的妇人们,编织着梳妆用的软垫,以便临死之日用,对她们自己的命运丝毫也不关心!仿佛磋跎时日还无损于永恒呢。

人类在过着静静的绝望的生活。所谓听天由命,正是肯定的绝望。你从绝望的城市走到绝望的村庄,以水貂和麝鼠的勇敢来安慰自己。在人类的所谓游戏与消遣底下,甚至都隐藏着一种凝固的、不知又不觉的绝望。两者中都没有娱乐可言,因为工作之后才能娱乐。可是不做绝望的事,才是智慧的一种表征。

当我们用教义问答法的方式,思考着什么是人生的宗旨,什么是生活的真正的必需品与资料时,仿佛人们还曾审慎从事地选择了这种生活的共同方式,而不要任何别的方式似的。其实他们也知道,舍此而外,别无可以挑选的方式。但清醒健康的人都知道,太阳终古常新。抛弃我们的偏见,是永远不会来不及的。无论如何古老的思想与行为,除非有确证,便不可以轻信。在今天人人附和或以为不妨默认的真理,很可能在明天变成虚无缥缈的氤氲,但还会有人认为是乌云,可以将一阵甘霖洒落到大地上来。把老头子认为办不到的事来试办一下,你往往办成功了。老人有旧的一套,新人有新的一套。古人不知添上燃料便可使火焰不灭:新人却把干柴放在水壶底下:谚语说得好:“气死老头子”,现在的人还可以绕着地球转,迅疾如飞鸟呢。老年人,虽然年纪一把,未必能把年轻的一代指导得更好,甚至他们未必够得上资格来指导;因为他们虽有不少收获,却也已大有损失。我们可以这样怀疑,即使最聪明的人,活了一世,他又能懂得多少生活的绝对价值呢。实际上,老年人是不会有什么极其重要的忠告给予年轻人的。他们的经验是这样地支离破碎,他们的生活已经是这样地惨痛的失败过了,他们必须知道大错都是自己铸成的;也许,他们还保留若干信心,这与他们的经验是不相符合的,却可惜他们已经不够年轻了。我在这星球上生活了三十来年,还没有听到过老长辈们一个字,可谓有价值的,堪称热忱的忠告的。他们什么也没告诉过我,也许他们是不能告诉我什么中肯的意见了。这里就是生命,一个试验,它的极大部分我都没有体验过;老年人体验过了,但却于我无用。如果我得到了我认为有用的任何经验,我一定会这样想的,这个经验嘛,我的老师长们可是提都没有提起过的呢。

有一个农夫对我说:“光吃蔬菜是活不了的,蔬菜不能供给你骨骼所需要的养料;”这样他每天虔诚地分出了他的一部分时间,来获得那种可以供给他骨骼所需的养料;他一边说话,一边跟在耕牛后面走,让这条正是用蔬菜供养了它的骨骼的耕牛拖动着他和他的木犁不顾一切障碍地前进。某些事物,在某些场合,例如在最无办法的病人中间,确是生活的必需资料,却在另一些场合,只变成了奢侈品,再换了别样的场合,又可能是闻所未闻的东西。

有人以为人生的全部,无论在高峰之巅或低陷之谷,都已给先驱者走遍,一切都已被注意到了。依熙爱芙琳的话:“智慧的所罗门曾下令制定树木中间应有的距离;罗马地方官也曾规定,你可以多少次到邻家的地上去拣拾那落下来的橡实而不算你乱闯的,并曾规定多少份橡实属于邻人。”希波克拉底甚至传下了剪指甲的方法,剪得不要太短或太长,要齐手指头。无疑问的,认为把生命的变易和欢乐都消蚀殆尽的那种烦谦和忧闷,是跟亚当同样地古老的。但人的力量还从未被衡量出来呢;我们不能根据他已经完成的事来判断他的力量,人做得少极了。不论你以前如何失败过,“别感伤,我的孩子,谁能指定你去做你未曾做完的事呢?”

我们可以用一千种简单的方法来测定我们的生命;举例以明之,这是同一个太阳,它使我种的豆子成熟,同时竟然照耀了像我们的地球之类的整个太阳系。如果我记住了这一点,那就能预防若干的错误。可是我锄草时并没有这样去想。星星是何等神奇的三角形的尖顶!字宙各处,有多少远远隔开的不同的物种在同时思考着同一事实啊!正如我们的各种体制一样,大自然和人生也是变化多端的。谁能预知别人的生命有着什么远景?难道还有比一瞬之间通过彼此的眼睛来观察更伟大的奇迹吗?我们本应该在一小时之内就经历了这人世的所有时代;是的,甚至经历了所有时代中所有的世界。历史、诗歌、神话!——我不知道读别人的经验还有什么能像读这些这样地惊人而又详尽的。

凡我的邻人说是好的,有一大部分在我灵魂中却认为是坏的,至于我,如果要有所仟悔,我悔恨的反而是我的善良品行。是什么魔鬼攫住了我,使我品行这样善良的呢?老年人啊,你说了那些最聪明的话,你已经活了七十年了,而且活得很光荣,我却听到一个不可抗拒的声音,要求我不听你的话。新的世代抛弃前一代的业绩,好像它们是些搁浅的船。

我想,我们可以泰然相信,比我们实际上相信的,更加多的事物。我们对自己的关怀能放弃多少,便可以忠实地给别人多少的关怀。大自然既能适应我们的长处,也能适应我们的弱点。有些人无穷无尽的忧患焦虑,成了一种几乎医治不好的疾病。我们又生就的爱夸耀我们所做工作的重要性;然而却有多少工作我们没有做!要是我们病倒了,怎么办呢?我们多么谨慎!决心不依照信仰而生活,我们尽可能避免它,从早到晚警戒着,到夜晚违心地析祷着,然后把自己交托给未定的运数。我们被迫生活得这样周到和认真,崇奉自己的生活,而否定变革的可能。我们说,只能这样子生活呵;可是从圆心可以画出多少条半径来,而生活方式就有这样的多。一切变革,都是值得思考的奇迹,每一刹那发生的事都可以是奇迹。孔夫予曾说:“知之为知之,不知为不知,是知也。”当一个人把他想象的事实提炼为他的理论之时,我预见到,一切人最后都要在这样的基础上建筑起他们的生活来。

让我们思考一下,我前面所说的大多数人的忧虑和烦恼又是些什么,其中有多少是必须忧虑的,至少是值得小心对待的呢?虽然生活在外表的文明中,我们若能过一过原始性的、新开辟的垦区生活还是有益处的,即使仅仅为了明白生活必需品大致是些什么,及如何才能得到这些必需品,甚至翻一翻商店里的古老的流水账,看看商店里经常出售些什么,又存积哪些货物,就是看看最杂的杂货究竟是一些什么也好。时代虽在演进,对人类生存的基本原则却还没有发生多少影响:好比我们的骨骼,跟我们的祖先的骨骼,大约是区别不出来的。

所谓生活必需品,在我的意思中,是指一切人用了自己的精力收获得来的那种物品:或是它开始就显得很重要,或是由于长久的习惯,因此对于人生具有了这样的重要性,即使有人尝试着不要它,其人数也是很少的,他们或者是由于野蛮,或是出于穷困,或者只是为了一种哲学的缘故,才这么做的。对于许多人,具有这样的意义的生活必需品只有一种,即食物。原野上的牛只需要几英寸长的可咀嚼的青草和一些冷水;除非加上了它们要寻求的森林或山荫的遮蔽。野兽的生存都只需要食物和荫蔽之处。但人类,在天时中,其生活之必需品可分为:食物、住宅、衣服和燃料;除非获有这些,我们是无法自由地面对真正的人生问题的,更无法展望成就了。人不仅发明了屋子,还发明了衣服,煮熟了食物;可能是偶然发现了火焰的热度,后来利用了它,起先它还是奢侈品哩,而到目前,烤火取暖也是必需品了。我们看到猫狗也同样地获得了这个第二天性。住得合适,穿得合适,就能合理地保持体内的热度,若住得和穿得太热的话,或烤火烤得太热时,外边的热度高于体内的热度,岂不是说在烘烤人肉了吗?自然科学家达尔文说起火地岛的居民,当他自己一伙人穿着衣服还烤火,尚且不觉得热,那时裸体的野蛮人站得很远,却使人看到了大为吃惊,他们“被火焰烘烤得竟然汗流浃背了”。同样,据说新荷兰人赤裸身体而泰然自若地跑来跑去,欧洲人穿了衣服还颤抖呢。这些野蛮人的坚强和文明人的睿智难道不能够相提并论吗?按照李比希的说法,人体是一只炉子,食物是保持肺部内燃的燃料。冷天我们吃得多,热天少。动物的体温是缓慢内燃的结果,而疾病和死亡则是在内燃得太旺盛的时候发生的;或者因为燃料没有了,或者因为通风装置出了毛病,火焰便会熄灭。自然,我们不能把生命的体温与火焰混为一谈,我们的譬喻就到此为止。所以,从上面的陈述来看,动物的生命这一个词语可以跟动物的体温作为同义语用:食物,被作为内燃的燃料,——煮熟食物的也是燃料,煮熟的食物自外吞入体内,也是为增加我们体内热量的,——此外,住所和衣服,也是为了保持这样地产生和吸收的热量的。

所以,对人体而言,最大的必需品是取暖,保持我们的养身的热量。我们是何等地辛苦,不但为了食物、衣着、住所,还为了我们的床铺——那些夜晚的衣服而辛苦着,从飞鸟巢里和飞鸟的胸脯上,我们掠夺羽毛,做成住所中的住所,就像鼹鼠住在地窟尽头草叶的床中一样!可怜人常常叫苦,说这是一个冰冷的世界;身体上的病同社会上的病一样,我们大都归罪于寒冷。在若干地区,夏天给人以乐园似的生活。在那里除了煮饭的燃料之外,别的燃料都不需要;太阳是他的火焰,太阳的光线煮熟了果实;大体说来,食物的种类既多,而且又容易到手,衣服和住宅是完全用不到的,或者说有一半是用不到的。在目前时代,在我们国内,根据我自己的经验,我觉得只要有少数工具就足够生活了,一把刀,一柄斧头,一把铲子,一辆手推车,如此而已,对于勤学的人,还要灯火和文具,再加上儿本书,这些已是次要的必需品,只要少数费用就能购得。然而有些人就太不聪明,跑到另一个半球上,跑到蛮荒的、不卫生的区域里,做了十年二十年生意,为了使他们活着,——就是说,为了使他们能舒适而温暖——,最后回到新英格兰来,还是死了。奢侈的人不单舒适了温暖了,而且热得不自然;我已经在前面说过,他们是被烘烤的,自然是很时髦地被烘烤的。

大部分的奢侈品,大部分的所谓生活的舒适,非但没有必要,而且对人类进步大有妨碍。所以关于奢侈与舒适,最明智的人生活得甚至比穷人更加简单和朴素。中国、印度、波斯和希腊的古哲学家都是一个类型的人物,外表生活再穷没有,而内心生活再富不过。我们都不够理解他们。然而可惊的一点是,我们居然对于他们知道得不少呢。近代那些改革家,各民族的救星,也都如此。唯有站在我们所谓的甘贫乐苦这有利地位上,才能成为大公无私的聪明的观察者。无论在农业,商业,文学或艺术中,奢侈生活产生的果实都是奢侈的。近来是哲学教授满天飞,哲学家一个没有。然而教授是可羡的,因为教授的生活是可羡的。但是,要做一个哲学家的活,不但要有精美的思想,不但要建立起一个学派来,而且要这样地爱智慧,从而按照了智慧的指示,过着一种简单、独立、大度、信任的生活。解决生命的一些问题,不但要在理论上,而且要在实践中。大学问家和思想家的成功,通常不是帝王式的,也不是英豪式的,反而是朝臣式的成功。他们应付生活,往往求其与习俗相符合,像他们的父辈一般,所以一点不能成为更好的人类的始祖。可是,为什么人类总在退化?是什么使得那些家族没落的?使国家衰亡的糜侈是什么性质的呢?在我们的生活中,我们能否确定自己并未这样?哲学家甚至在生活的外形上也是处在时代前列的。他不像他同时代人那样地吃喝、居住、穿着、取暖。一个人既是哲学家,怎会没有比别人更好的养身的保持体温的方法呢?

人已在我所描写的几种方式下暖和了,其次他要干什么呢?当然不会是同等样的更多的温暖。他不会要求更多更富足的食物,更大更光耀的房屋,更丰富更精美的衣服,更多更持久更灼热的火炉等等了。他在得到了这些生命所必需的事物之后,就不会要过剩品而要有另一些东西;那就是说免于卑微工作的假期开始了,现在他要向生命迈进了。泥土看来是适宜于种子的,因为泥土使它的胚根向下延伸,然后它可以富有自信地使茎向上茁长。为什么人在泥土里扎了根之后,不能援例向天空伸展呢?——因为那些更高贵的植物的价值是由远离地面的、最后在空气和日光中结成的果实来评定的,而不是像对待那低卑蔬菜的那样。蔬菜就算是两年生的植物,那也只是被培植到生好根以后,而且常被摘去顶枝,使得许多人在开花的季节都认不得它们。

我可不想给一些性格坚强的人定什么规章,他们不论在天堂地狱,都会专注于自己的事业,他们甚至比最富者建筑得更宏伟,挥霍得更厉害,却不会因而贫团,我们不知道他们是如何生活的,——如果确实像人们梦想着的,有这种人存在的话;另外我也不给另一种人定出规章,他们是从事物的现状中得到鼓励,得到灵感,像情人一样热烈地珍爱现实——我认为我自己也属于这种人的:还有那些人,在任何情况下都能安居乐业,不管他们知不知道自己是否安居乐业,那些人,我也不是向他们说话的。我主要是向那些不满足的人说话,他们在应该可以改善生活的时候,却偏偏只是懒洋洋地诉说他们的命苦和他们那时代的悲惨。有些人对任何事情,都叫苦连天,不可救药地诉不完的苦,因为据他们说,他们是尽了他们的职责的。但我心目之中还有一种人,这种人看来阔绰、实际却是所有阶层中贫困得最可怕的,他们固然已积蓄了一些闲钱,却不懂得如何利用它,也不懂得如何摆脱它,因此他们给自己铸造了一副金银的镣铐。

如果说一说我曾希望如何度过往昔岁月中的生命,我会使许多熟悉我实际情况的读者感到奇怪,更会使对我不熟悉的人大为惊讶。我只略述我心头的几件事就行了。

在任何气候任何时辰,我都希望及时改善我当前的状况,并要在手杖上刻下记号;过去和未来的交叉点正是现在,我就站在这个起点上。请原谅我说话晦涩。我那种职业比大多数人的有更多的秘密。不是我故意要保密,而是我这种职业有这种特点。我极愿把所知的全都说出来,在我的门口并没有“不准入内,的招牌。

很久以前我丢失了一头猎犬,一匹栗色马和一只斑鸠,至今我还在追踪它们。我对许多旅客描述它们的情况、踪迹以及它们会响应怎样的叫唤。我曾遇到过一二人,他们曾听见猎犬吠声,奔马蹄音,甚至还看到斑鸠隐入云中。他们也急于追寻它们回来,像是他们自己遗失了它们。

不仅要观日出和黎明,如果可能,还要瞻仰大自然本身!多少个冬夏黎明,还在任何邻居为他们的事务奔波之前,我就出外干我的事了!许多市民无疑都曾见到我干完事口来,清晨赶到波士顿的农夫,或去干活的樵夫都遇到过我。真的,我虽没有具体地助日出以一臂之力,可是不要怀疑,在日出之前出现是最重要的事了。

多少个秋天的,嗳,还有冬天的日子,在城外度过,试听着风声,听了把它传布开来!我在里面几乎投下全部资金,为这笔生意而迎着寒风,使我连气都喘不过来了。如果风声中有两党政治的信息,一定是一些党的机关报上抢先发表了的。别些时候,守望在高岗或树梢的观察台上,用电信宣布有任何新的客人到来,或守候在山巅黄昏中,等待夜幕降落,好让我抓到一些东西,我抓到的从来就不多,这不多的却好像是“天粮”一样,那是会在太阳底下消溶的。

有很长一段时间,我是一家报纸的记者,报纸销路不广,而编辑从来不觉得我写的一大堆东西是可用的,所以,作家们都有同感,我忍受了很大苦痛,换来的只是我的劳动。然而在这件事上,苦痛又是它自身的报酬。

很多年来,我委任我自己为暴风雪与暴风雨的督察员,我忠心称职;又兼测量员,虽不测量公路,却测量森林小径和捷径,并保它们畅通,我还测量了一年四季都能通行的岩石桥梁,自有大众的足踵走来,证实它们的便利。

我也曾守护过城区的野兽,使忠于职守的牧人要跳过篱笆,遇到过许多的困难;我对于人迹罕到的田庄的角隅也特别注意:却不大知道约那斯或所罗门今天在哪一块田地上工作;因为这已不是我份内的事了。我给红色的越橘,沙地上的樱桃树和荨麻,红松和黑愕,白葡萄藤和黄色的紫罗兰花都浇过水,否则在天气干燥的季节中,它们可能会枯萎的。

简单他说,我这样子干了很久(我一点不夸耀),我忠心耿耿地管理我的这些事,直到后来越来越明白了,市民们是不愿意把我包括在公职人员的名单之内,也不愿意给我一笔小小的薪俸,让我有个挂名职务的。我记的账,我可以赌咒是很仔细的,真是从未被查对过,也不用说核准了,更不用说付款,结清账目了,好在我的心思也不放在这上西。

不久以前,一个闲步的印第安人到我的邻舍一位著名律师家中兜卖篮子。“你们要买篮子吗?”他说。口答是“不,我们不要”。“什么!”印第安人出门叫道,“你们想要饿死我们吗?”看到他的勤劳的白种人邻居,生活得如此富裕——因为律师只要把辩论之词编织起来,就像有魔术似的,富裕和地位都跟着来了——因而这印第安人曾自言自语:我也要做生意了;我编织篮子;这件事是我能做的。他以为编织好篮子就完成了他的一份,轮下来就应该是自种人向他购买了。他却不知道,他必须使人感到购买他的篮于是值得的,至少得使别人相信,购买这一只篮于是值得的,要不然他应该制造别一些值得叫人购买的东西。我也曾编织了一种精巧的篮子,我并没有编造得使人感到值得购买它。在我这方页,我一点不觉得我犯不着编织它们,非但没有去研究如何编织得使人们觉得更加值得购买,我倒是研究了如何可以避免这买卖的勾当。人们赞美而认为成功的生活,只不过是生活中的这么一种。为什么我们要夸耀这一种而贬低别一种生活呢?

发现市民同胞们大约是不会在法院中,教堂中,或任何别的地方给我一个职位的了,我只得自己改道,于是我比以往更专心地把脸转向了森林,那里的一切都很熟识我。我决定立刻就开业,不必等候通常的所谓经费了,就动用我手上已经有的一点儿微薄的资财吧。我到瓦尔登湖上去的目的,并不是去节俭地生活,也不是去挥霍,而是去经营一些私事,为的是在那儿可以尽量少些麻烦;免得我因为缺乏小小的常识,事业又小,又不懂得生意经,做出其傻甚于凄惨的事情来。

我常常希望获得严格的商业习惯;这是每一个人都不能缺少的。如果你的生意是和天朝帝国往来的,你得在海岸上有个会计室,设在某个撒勒姆的港口,确定了这个就够了。你可以把本国出品,纯粹的土产输出,许多的冰、松木和一点儿花岗石,都是本土本乡的地道产品。这一定是好生意。亲自照顾一切大小事务;兼任领航员与船长,业主与保险商;买进卖出又记账;收到的信件每封都读过,发出的信件每封都亲自撰写或审阅;日夜监督进口货的卸落;几乎在海岸上的许多地方,你都同时出现了似的;——那装货最多的船总是在泽西岸上卸落的;——自己还兼电报员,不知疲倦地发通讯到远方去,和所有驰向海岸的船只联络;稳当地售出货物,供给远方的一个无餍足的市场,既要熟悉行情,你还要明了各处的战争与和平的情况,预测贸易和文明的趋向;——利用所有探险的成果,走最新的航道,利用一切航海技术上的进步;——再要研究海图,确定珊瑚礁和新的灯塔、浮标的位置,而航海图表是永远地改而又改,因为着计算上有了一点错误,船只会冲撞在一块岩石上而至于粉碎的,不然它早该到达了一个友好的码头了——,此外,还有拉·贝鲁斯的未知的 命运;——还得步步跟上字宙科学,要研究一切伟大的发现者、航海家、探险家和商人,从迦 探险家饭能和腓尼基人直到现在所有这些人的一生,最后,时刻要记录栈房中的货物,你才知道自己处于什么位置上。这真是一个辛苦的劳役,考验着一个人的全部官能,——这些赢利或损失的问题,利息的问题,扣除皮重的计算问题,一切都要确实数字,非得有全宇宙的知识不可啊。

我想到瓦尔登湖会是个做生意的好地方,不但因为那铁路线和贮冰的行业; 这里是有许多的便利,或许把它泄露出来并不是一个好方针;这是一个良好港口,有一个好基础。你不必填没那些好像涅瓦河区的沼泽;虽然到处你都得去打桩奠基。据说,涅瓦河要是涨了水,刮了西风,流来的冰块可以把圣彼得堡一下子从大地的表面上冲掉的。

鉴于我这行业是没有通常的经费先行交易的,所以我从什么地方得到凡是这样的行业都不能缺少的东西呢,也许不容易揣测吧。让我们立刻说到实际问题上来,先说衣服,我们采购衣服,常常是由爱好新奇的心理所引导的,并且关心别人对它的部意见,而不大考虑这些衣服的真实用处。让那些有工作做的人记着穿衣服的目标,第一是保持养身的体温,第二是为了在目前的社会中要把赤身露体来遮盖;现在,他可以判断一下,有多少必需的重要工作可以完成,而不必在衣橱中增添什么衣服。国王和王后的每一件衣服都只穿一次,虽然有御裁缝专司其事,他们却不知道穿上合身衣服的愉快。他们不过是挂干净衣服的木架。而我们的衣服,却一天天地跟我们同化了,印上了穿衣人的性格,直到我们舍不得把它们丢掉,要丢掉它们,正如抛弃我们的躯体那样,总不免感到恋恋不舍,要看病吃药作些补救,而且带着十分沉重的心情。其实没有人穿了有补钉的衣服而在我的眼里降低了身份;但我很明白,一般人心里,为了衣服忧思真多,衣服要穿得入时,至少也要清洁,而且不能有补钉,至于他们有无健全的良心,从不在乎。其实,即使衣服破了不补,所暴露的最大缺点也不过是不考虑小洞之会变成大洞。有时我用这样的方法来测定我的朋友们,——谁肯把膝盖以上有补钉的,或者只是多了两条缝的衣服,穿在身上?大多数人都好像认为,如果他们这样做了,从此就毁了终身。宁可跛了一条腿进城,他们也不肯穿着破裤子去。一位绅士有腿伤,是很平常的事,这是有办法补救的;如果裤脚管破了,却无法补救;因为人们关心的并不是真正应该敬重的东西,只是关心那些受人尊敬的东西。我们认识的人很少,我们认识的衣服和裤子却怪多。你给稻草人穿上你最后一件衣服,你自己不穿衣服站在旁边,哪一个经过的人不马上就向稻草人致敬呢?那天,我经过一片玉米田,就在那头戴帽子、身穿上衣的木桩旁边,我认出了那个农田主人。他比我上一回看见他,只不过凤吹雨打更显得憔悴了一些。我听说过,一条狗向所有穿了衣服走到它主人的地方来的人吠叫,却很容易被一个裸体的窃贼制服,一声不响。这是一个有趣的问题啊,没有衣服的话,人们将能多大地保持他们的身份?没有了衣服的话,你能不能在任何一群文明人中间,肯定地指出谁个最尊贵?斐斐夫人在她周游世界,从东到西的旅行中,当她非常地接近了亚洲的俄罗斯,要去谒见当地长官的时候,她说,她觉得不能再穿旅行服装了,因为她“现在是在一个文明国家里面,那里的人民是根据衣服来评价人的”。即使在我们这号称民主的新英格兰城中,只要有钱穿得讲究住得阔绰,具有了那种偶然的因素,他就受尽了众人的敬仰。可是,这些敬仰着的众人,人数真多,都是异教徒,所以应该派遣一个传教士前去。话说回来,衣服是要缝纫的,缝纫可是一种所谓无穷无尽的工作;至少,一个女人的衣服是从没有完工的一天的。

一个人,到后来,找到工作做了,其实并不要他穿上新衣服去上工的;旧衣服就行了,就是那些很久地放在阁楼中,积起了灰尘的fH衣服。一个英雄穿IR鞋子的时间倒要比他的跟班穿它们的时间长——如果说,英雄也有限班的活——至于赤脚的历史比穿鞋子更悠久了,而英雄是可以赤脚的。只有那些赴夜宴,到立法院去的人必须穿上新衣服,他们换了一件又一件,正如那些地方换了一批又一批人。可是,如果把我的短上衣和裤子穿上身,帽子戴上鞋子穿上,便可以礼拜上帝的话,那未有这些也就够了,不是吗?谁曾注意到他的破衣服——真的已经穿得破敝不堪了,变成了当初的原料,就是送给一个乞儿也算不得行善了,说不定那乞儿还要拿它转送给一个比他更贫苦的人,那人倒可以说是最富有的,因为最后还是他什么都不要还可以过活的呢。我说你得提防那些必须穿新衣服的事业,尽可不提防那些穿新衣服的人。如果没有新的人,新衣服怎么能做得合他的身?如果你有什么事业要做,穿上旧衣服试试看。人之所需,并不是要做些事,而是要有所为,或是说,需有所是。也许我们是永远不必添置新衣服的,不论旧衣服已如何破敝和肮脏,除非我们已经这般地生活了,或经营了,或者说,已向着什么而航行了,在我们这古老的躯壳里已有着新的生机了,那时若还是依然故我,便有旧瓶装新酒之感了。我们的换羽毛的季节,就像飞禽的,必然是生命之中一个大的转折点。潜鸟退到僻静的池塘边去脱毛。蛇蜕皮的情形也是如此,同样的是蛹虫的出茧。都是内心里孜孜扩展着的结果;衣服不过是我们的最表面的角质,或者说,尘世之烦恼而已。要不然我们将发现我们在伪装底下行进,到头来必不可兔地将披人类及我们自己的意见所唾弃。

我们穿上一件衣服又一件,好像我们是外生植物一样,靠外加物来生长的。穿在我们最外面的,常常是很薄很花巧的衣服,那只是我们的表皮,或者说,假皮肤,并不是我们的生命的一部分,这里那里剥下来也并不是致命伤;我们经常穿着的、较厚的衣服,是我们的细胞壁,或者说,皮层;我们的衬衣可是我们的韧皮,或者说,真正的树皮,剥下来的话,不能不连皮带肉,伤及身体的。我相信所有的物种,在某些季节里都穿着有类似衬衣的东西。一个人若能穿得这样简单,以至在黑暗中都能摸到自己,而且他在各方面都能生活得周密,有备而无恐,那未,即使敌人占领了城市,他也能像古代哲学家一样,空手徒步出城,不用担什么心思。一件厚衣服的用处,大体上可跟三件薄的衣服相同,便宜的衣服可以用真正适合顾客财力的价格买到,一件厚厚的上衣五元就可以买到了,它可以穿上好几年,厚厚的长裤两元钱,牛皮靴一元半,夏天的帽子不过一元的四分之一,冬天的帽子六毛两分半,或许还可以花上一笔极少的钱,自己在家里制一顶更好的帽子,那穿上了这样的一套自己辛勤劳动赚来的衣服,哪里还是贫穷,难道会没有聪明人来向他表示敬意吗?

当我定做一件特别式样的衣服时,女裁缝郑重其事地告诉我,“现在他们不时行这个式样了,”说话中一点没有强调“他们”两字,好像她说的是跟命运之神一样的某种非人的权威,我就很难于得到我自己所需要的式样了,因为她不相信我是当真他说话的,她觉得我太粗莽了。而我,一听到这神示似的文句,就有一会儿沉思,把每一个字都给我自己单个地强调了一下,好让我明白它的意思,好让我找出他们和我有怎么样的血缘关系,在一件与我如此密切有关的事上,他们有什么权威;最后,我决定用同样神秘的方式来答复她,所以也不把“他们”两字强调。——

“真的,近来他们并不时行这个式样,可是现在他们又时行这个了。”她量了我的身材,但没有量我的性格,只量了我肩宽,好像我是一个挂衣服的钉子,这样量法有什么用处?我们并不崇拜娴雅三女神,也不崇拜帕尔茜。我们崇拜时髦。她纺织,剪裁,全权处理。巴黎的猴王戴上了一顶旅行帽,全美国的猴子学了样。有时我很失望,这个世界上,可有什么十分简单而老实的事是通过人们的帮助而能办成功的?必须先把人们透过一个强有力的压榨机,把他们的旧观念压榨出来,使他们不再能够马上用两条腿直立,到那时你看人群中,有的人脑子里是长蛆虫的,是从不知什么时候起就放在那里的卵里孵化出来的,连烈火也烧不完这些东西;要不这样做,什么劳力都是白费。总之,我们不要忘记,埃及有一种麦子是一个木乃伊传下来,一直传到了我们手里的。

整个说来,这国或别国的服装已达到了一种艺术的尊贵地位的这类话是不能成立的。目前的人,还是有什么,穿什么。像破碎的舟上的水手漂到岸上,找得到什么就穿什么,他们还站得隔开一点,越过空间的或时间的距离,而嘲笑着彼此的服装呢。每一代人都嘲笑老式样,而虔诚地追求新式样。我们看到亨利八世或伊丽莎白女王的装束,就要好笑,仿佛他们是食人岛上的岛王和岛后一样。衣服没有了人,就可怜和古怪起来。抑制住哗笑,并且使任何人的衣服庄严起来的,乃是穿衣人的严肃地显现的两眼和穿衣人在衣服之中过的真诚的生活。穿着斑斓衣衫的丑角如果突然发疝痛了,他的衣服也就表现了这痛楚的情绪。当士兵中了炮弹,烂军装也宛如高贵的紫袍。

男女都爱好新式样,这种稚气的、蛮夷的趣味使多少人转动眼珠和眯起眼皮看着万花筒,好让他们来发现今天这一代需要什么样的式样。制造商人早知道他们的趣味只是反复无常的。两种式样,其不同只有几条丝线,而颜色多少还是相似的,一件衣服立刻卖掉了,另一件却躺在货架上,常常在过了一个季节之后,后者又成了最时髦的式样。在身上刺花,比较起来真还不算是人们所说的可怕的习气呢。这并不仅仅因为刺花是深入皮肤,不能改变就变得野蛮的。

我不相信我们的工厂制度是使人们得到衣服穿的最好的办法。技工们的情形是一天一天地更像英国工厂里的样子了,这是不足为奇的,因为据我听到或观察到的,原来那主要的目标,并不是为了使人类可以穿得更好更老实,而无疑的,只是为了公司要赚钱。往长远处看去,人类总能达到他们的目标的,因此尽管事情一时之间是要失败的,目标还是不妨定得崇高些。

至于住所,我并不否认这现在是一种生活必需品了,虽然有很多例子可以说明,很久以来比这里更为寒冷的国土上都有人能够没有住所照样生活下去,塞牟尔. 莱恩说,“北欧的拉普兰人穿了皮衣,头上肩上套着皮囊,可以一夜又一夜的睡在雪地上——那寒冷的程度可以使穿羊毛衣服的人冻死的。”他亲眼看到他们这样地睡着。接着他说,“可是他们并不比旁人更结实。”大概是人类生活在地球上不多久以后,就发现了房屋的便利,以及家庭生活的安逸,这句话的原意,表示对于房屋感到满足,超过家庭的融乐:然而有的地带,一说到房屋就联想到冬天和雨季,一年里有三分之二时间不用房屋,只要一柄遮阳伞,在这些地方,这样的说法就极其片面,而且只是偶尔适用罢了。我们这一带的气候,以前夏天晚上只要有个遮盖就行了。在印第安人的记录中,一座尖屋是一整天行程的标志,在树皮上刻着或画着的一排尖屋代表他们已经露营了多少次。人类没有壮大的肢体,身材并不魁梧,所以他得设法缩小他的世界,用墙垣来圈起一个适宜于他的空间。最初他是裸体的,在户外的;虽然在温和宁静的气候中,在白昼还非常愉快,可是另外有雨季和冬天,且不说那炎炎赤日,要不是人类赶快用房屋来荫蔽他自己,人种或许早在抽芽的时候就被摧残了。按照传说,亚当和夏娃在穿衣服之前,以枝叶蔽体。人类需要一个家庭,一个温暖的地方,或舒服的地方,但是肉体的温暖在先,然后才是感情的温暖啊。

我们可以想象那个时候,人类还在婴孩期,有些进取心很强的人爬进岩穴去找荫蔽。每个婴孩都在一定程度上再次重复了这部世界史,他们爱户外,不管雨天和冷天。他们玩房屋的游戏,骑竹马,出于本能。谁不回忆到自己小时候窥望一个洞穴,或走近一个洞穴时的兴奋心情?我们最原始时代的祖先的天性还遗留在我们的体内。从洞穴,我们进步到上覆棕榈树叶树皮树枝,编织拉挺的亚麻的屋顶,又进步到青草和稻草屋顶,木板和盖板屋顶,石头和砖瓦屋顶。最后我们就不知道什么是露天的生活了,我们的室内生活比我们自己所想的还要室内化得多。炉火之离开田地可有很大的距离。如果在我们度过白昼和黑夜时,有更多时候是和天体中间没有东西隔开着的,如果诗人并不是在屋脊下面说话说得那么多,如果圣人也不在房屋内住得那么长久的话,也许事情就好了。鸟雀不会在洞内唱歌,白鸽不会在棚子里抚爱它们的真纯。

然而,如果有人要打图样造一所住宅,他应该像我们新英格兰人那样的稍为精明一点才好,免得将来他会发现他自己是在一座工场中,或在一座没有出路的迷宫中,或在一所博物院中,或在一所救贫院中,或在一个监狱中,或在一座华丽的陵墓中。先想一想,荫蔽并不见得是绝对必需的。我看见过潘诺勃斯各特河上的印第安人,就在这镇上,他们住在薄棉布的营帐中,四周的积雪约一英尺厚,我想要是雪积得更厚,可以替他们挡风的话,他们一定更高兴。如何使我老实地生活并得到自由来从事我的正当追求,从前这一个问题比现在更使我烦恼,因为我幸亏变得相当麻木了。我常常看到,在铁路旁边,一只大木箱六英尺长三英尺宽,工人们把他们的工具锁在其中过夜,我就想到,每一个觉得日子艰难的人可以花一元钱买这样一只箱子,钻几个洞孔,至少可以放进空气,下雨时和晚上就可以住进去,把箱盖合上,这样他的灵魂便自由了,他可以自由自在地爱他所爱的了。看来这并不很坏,也决不是个可以鄙视的办法。你可以随心所欲,长夜坐而不寐;起身出外时,也不会有什么大房东二房东拦住你要房租。多少人因为要付一只更大而更宏丽的箱子的租金,就烦恼到老死;而他是不会冻死在这样的一只小箱子里的。我一点儿也不是说笑话。经济学这一门科学,曾经受到各种各样的轻视,但它是不可以等闲视之的。那些粗壮结实,在露天过大部分生活的人,曾经在这里盖过一所舒服的房屋,取用的几乎全部是大自然的现成材料。马萨诸塞州垦区的印第安人的总管戈金,曾在一六七四年这样写道:“他们的最好的尖屋用树皮盖顶,干净清爽,紧密而温暖,这些树皮都是在干燥的季节中,从树身上掉下来的,趁树皮还苍翠的时候,用相当重的木材压成巨片。……较蹩脚的尖屋也用灯心草编成的席子盖顶,也很紧密而温暖,只是没有前者那么精美……我所看到的,有的是六十英尺,或一百英尺长,三十英尺宽。……我常常住在他们的尖屋中,发现它跟最好的英国式屋子一样温暖。”他接着还说,室内通常是把嵌花的席子铺在地上和挂在墙壁上的,各种器皿一应俱全。而且印第安人已经进步到能够在屋顶上开洞,放上一张席子,用绳子来开关,控制了通风设施。首先要注意的是,这样的尖屋最多一面天就可以盖起来,只要几个小时就可以拆掉,并且重新搭好,每一家人家都有一座这样的房子,或者占有这样的尖屋中的一个小间。

在野蛮状态中的每一家都有一座最好的好住所来满足他们的粗陋而简单的需要;可是,我想,我下面的话还是说得很有分寸的,我说,虽然天空中的飞鸟都有巢,狐狸都有穴,野蛮人都有尖屋,然而在摩登的文明社会中却只有半数家庭是有房子的。在文明特别发达的大城市中,拥有房屋的人只是极小一部分。极大多数人若要身外有所荫蔽,得每年付出一笔租金,在夏天冬天,荫蔽是少不得的,可是这祖金,本已足够他买下一个印第安人的尖屋的,现在却害得他在世上活多久也就贫困多久了。这里,我并不是把租屋与拥有房屋之优劣拿出来做比较,然而很明显的是,野蛮人拥有房屋是因为价格低,而文明人通常租房子住,却是因为他财力够不上拥有房屋。有人就答辩,可怜的文明人只要付了租金,就有了一个住所;和野蛮人的尖屋比较,这房屋岂不像皇官一样?每年只要付租金二十五元至一百元,这是乡区价格,他就得到了经过多少世纪改良才进步的宽敞房间,有清洁的油漆和墙纸、鲁姆福壁炉、内涂泥灰的墙、百叶窗、铜质的抽水机、弹簧锁、宽敞的地窖,还有许多别的东西。然而,这究竟是怎么一回事?享受着这一切的,通常总被称为“可怜”的文明人,而没有这一切的野蛮人,却生活得野蛮人似的富足。假若说,文明乃是人的生活条件的一种真正改进,——我想这话是很对的,虽然只有智者才能改进他们的有利条件,——那未,它必然能证明,它不提高价钱就把更好的房屋建造起来;所谓物价,乃是用于交换物品的那一部分生命,或者立即付出,或者以后付出。这一地区的普通房屋也许要八百元一幢,为了节俭地储蓄起这一笔数目的钱,恐怕要一个劳动者十年以至十五年的生命,还必须是没有家累的才行;——这是以每一个人的劳动,每天值一元来计算的,若有人收入多一些,别的人收入就要少一些——这样,他通常必须耗费他的大半辈子生命,才能赚得了他的一幢“尖屋”。假定他依旧是租房居住的,那他还只是在两件坏事中作了一次可疑的选择。野蛮人懂不懂得,在这样的条件底下,用他的尖屋来换得一座皇宫呢?

也许有人猜想,拥有这样的多余房屋,是为了未雨绸缪,防患于未然,我认为对个人而言,这样做的好处不过是可以够他偿付他的丧葬费罢了。但是人也许是用不到安葬自己的。然而,这里面就指出了文明人和野蛮人中间的一个重要区别;有人给文明人的生活设计了一套制度,无疑是为了我们的好处,这套制度为了保存种族的生活,能使种族的生活更臻完美,却大大牺牲了个人的生活。可是我希望指出,为了得到这好处,我们目前作出何等样的牺牲,我还要建议,我们是可以不作出任何牺牲就得到很多好处的。你说可怜的穷人经常和你在一起,父亲吃了酸葡萄,孩子的牙齿也发酸,说这些话有什么意思呢?

“主那和华说,我指着我的永生起誓,你们在以色列中必不再有用这俗语的因由。”

“看啊,世人都是属于我的,为父的怎样属我,为子的也照样属我,犯罪的他必死亡。”

当我想到我的邻居时,那些康科德的农夫们,他们的境遇至少同别的阶级一样好,我发现他们中间的大部分人都已工作了二十年三十年或四十年了,为的是他们可以成为他们农场的真正主人,通常这些农场是附带了抵押权而传给他们的遗产,或许是借了钱买下来的,——我们不妨把他们的劳力中的三分之一,作为房屋的代价,——通常总是他们还没有付清那一笔借款。真的,那抵押权有时还超过了农场的原价,结果农场自身已成了一个大累赘,然而到最后总是有承继的人,正如他自己说的,因为他这个承继人和农场太亲近了。我找评价课税官谈过话,惊诧地发现他们竟然不能够一口气背出十二个拥有农场,而又自由、清白的市民来。如果你要知道这些家宅的实况,你得到银行去问一问抵押的情形。真正能够用劳力来偿付他的农场债务的人是这样地少,如果有的话,每一个邻人都能用手指把他指点出来。我疑心康科德这一带还找不出三个这样的人。说到商人们,则绝大部分商人,甚至一百个中间大约有九十六个是肯定要失败的,农夫也是如此。然而关于商人,其中有一位曾经恰当地指出,他们的失败大都不是由于亏本,而只是由于不方便而没有遵守诺言;这就是说,是由于信用的毁损。这一来,问题就要糟糕得多,而且不禁使人想到前述那三个人的灵魂,说不定将来也不能够得救,也许他们会比那些老老实实地失败的人,在更糟的情况下破产。破产啊,拒付债务啊,是一条条的跳板,我们的文明的一大部分就从那里纵跃上升,翻了跟斗的,而野蛮人却站在饥馑这条没有弹性的木板上。然而,每年在这里举行的米德尔塞克斯耕牛比赛大会,总是光辉灿烂,好像农业的状况还极好似的。

农夫们常想用比问题本身更复杂的方式,来解决生活问题。为了需要他的鞋带,他投机在畜牧之中。他用熟练的技巧,用细弹簧布置好一个陷阱,想捉到安逸和独立性,他正要拔脚走开,不料他自己的一只脚落进陷阱里去了。他穷的原因就在这里;而且由于类似的原因,我们全都是穷困的,虽然有奢侈品包围着我们,倒不及野蛮人有着一千种安逸。查普曼歌唱道:

“这虚伪的人类社会——

——为了人间的宏伟

至上的欢乐稀薄得像空气。”

等到农夫得到了他的房屋,他并没有因此就更富,倒是更穷了,因为房屋占有了他。依照我所能理解的,莫墨斯曾经说过一句千真万确的话,来反对密涅瓦建筑的一座房屋,说她“没有把它造成可以移动的房屋,否则的话就可以从一个恶劣的邻居那儿迁走了”;这里还可以追上一句话,我们的房屋是这样不易利用,它把我们幽禁在里面,而并不是我们居住在里面;至于那需要避开的恶劣的邻居,往往倒是我们的可鄙的“自我”。我知道,在这个城里,至少有一两家,几乎是希望了一辈子,要卖掉他们近郊的房屋,搬到乡村去住,可是始终办不到,只能等将来寿终正寝了,他才能恢复自由。

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

可是,那贫穷的少数人如何呢?也许可以看到一点,正如一些人的外表境遇高出于野蛮人,另一些的外表境遇就成正比例地低于他们。一个阶级的奢侈全靠另一个阶级的贫苦来维持。一面是皇宫,另一面是济贫院和“默默无言的贫穷人”。筑造那些法老王陵墓的金字塔的百万工人只好吃些大蒜头,他们将来要像像样样地埋葬都办不到。完成了皇宫上的飞檐,入晚回家的石工,大约是回到一个比尖屋还不如的草棚里。像下面这样的想法是错误的:在一个有一般文明的国家里,大多数居民的情形并没有降低得像野蛮人的那么恶劣。我说的还是一些生活得恶劣的贫穷人,还没有说到那些生活得恶劣的富人呢。要明白这一点,不必看得太远,只消看看铁路旁边,到处都有棚屋,这些是文明中最没有改进的了;我每天散步,看到那里的人住在肮脏的棚子里面,整个冬天,门总是开着的,为的是放进光线来,也看不到什么火堆,那只存在于他们的想象中,而老少的躯体,由于长久地怕冷受苦而蜷缩,便永久地变了形,他们的四肢和官能的发展也就停顿了。自然应当去看看这个阶级的人:所有这个世代里的卓越工程都是他们完成的。在英国这个世界大工场中,各项企业的技工们,或多或少也是这等情形。或许我可以把爱尔兰的情形给你提一提,那地方,在地图上,是作为一个白种人的开明地区的。把爱尔兰人的身体状况,跟北美洲的印第安人或南海的岛民,或任何没有跟文明人接触过因而没有堕落的野蛮人比一比吧。我丝毫都不怀疑,这些野蛮人的统治者,跟一般的文明人的统治者,是同样聪明的。他们的状况只能证明文明含有何等的污浊秽臭!现在,我根本不必提我们的南方诸州的劳动者了,这个国家的主要出品是他们生产的:而他们自己也成了南方诸州的一种主要产品。可是,不往远处扯开去,我只说说那些境遇还算中等的人吧。

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

骄奢淫逸的人创设了时髦翻新,让成群的人勤谨地追随。一个旅行者,投宿在所谓最漂亮的房间里,他就会发现这点,因为旅店主人们当他萨达拿泼勒斯来招待了,要是他接受了他们的盛情,不多久他就会完全失去男性的精神。我想到铁路车厢,我们是宁愿花更多的钱于布置的奢侈上,而不在乎行车的安全和便捷的,结果安全和便捷都谈不到,车厢成了一个摩登客厅,有软褥的睡椅,土耳其式的厚榻,遮阳的帘予,还有一百种另外的东方的花样,我们把它们搬到西方来了,那些花样,原先是为天朝帝国的六宫粉黛,天子的后妃,后宫中的妻妾而发明的,那是约拿单听到名称都要难为情的东西。我宁可坐在一只大南瓜上,由我一个人占有它,不愿意挤在天鹅绒的垫子上。我宁可坐一辆牛车,自由自在来去,不愿意坐什么花哨的游览污去天堂,一路上呼吸着污浊的空气。

原始人生活得简简单单,赤身露体,至少有这样的好处,他还只是大自然之中的一个过客。当他吃饱睡够,神清气爽,便可以再考虑他的行程。可不是,他居住在苍穹的篷帐下面,不是穿过山谷,使是踱过平原,或是攀登高山。可是,看啊!人类已经成为他们的工具的工具了。独立自然地,饥饿了就采果实吃的人已经变成一个农夫;而在树荫下歇力的人已经变成一个管家。我们不再在夜间露营,我们安居在大地上,忘记了天空。我们信奉基督教,不过当它是一种改良农业的方法。我们已经在尘世造好府邸家宅,随后就建造家墓坟地。最杰出的艺术作品都表现着人类怎样从这种情形中挣扎出来,解放自己,但我们的艺术效果不过是把我们这屈辱的境遇弄得舒适一点,而那比较高级的境界却会被遗忘了。真的,在这村子里,美术作品没有插足之地,就算有些作品是流传下来了的,因为我们的生活,我们的房屋或街道都不能为美术作品提供恰当的垫座。挂一张画的钉子都没有,也没有一个架子来接受英雄或圣者的胸像。当我想起我们的房屋是怎样建筑的,是怎样付款或付而未清帐的,它们家庭的内部经济又是怎样的一回事,我不禁晴暗纳罕了,为什么在宾客赞赏壁炉架上那些小玩意儿的时候,地板不会一下子坍下去,让它掉落到地窖中去,一直落到坚固的、忠实的基岩上。我不能不看到,世人是在向着所谓富有而优雅的生活跳跃,我一点也不欣赏那些点缀生活的美术品,我全神贯注在人们的跳跃之上,想起人类肌肉能达到的最高的跳高纪录,还是某一些流浪的阿拉伯人保持的,他们从平地上跳到二十五英尺之高。没有东西支持的话,跳到了这样的高度上也还是要跌到地上来的。因此,我要问间那些太不恰当的产业所有者,第一个问题是,谁支持你?你是在九十六个失败的人当中呢,还是在三个成功的人当中?口答了这些问题之后,也许我会去看看你的华丽而无价值的玩物,鉴赏鉴赏它们的装饰风味。车子套在马前面,既不美观,也没有用处。在用美丽的饰物装饰房屋之前,必须把墙壁剥去一层,还得剥除一层我们的生命,还要有美好的家务管理,美好的生活作为底子:要知道,美的趣味最好在露天培育,在那里既没有房屋,也没有管家。

老约翰逊在他的《神奇的造化》中,说起他的那些最初移殖到这个城市来的同时代人,他告诉我们说:“他们在小山坡上,挖掘窑洞,作为最早的荫蔽处所,他们把土高高地堆在木材上,在最高的一边,生了冒浓烟的火,烘烤泥土。”他们并不“给自己造房子”,他说,直到“上帝赐福,土地上生产了足够的面包喂饱了他们”,然而第一年的收成却不好,“他们不得不有很长的一季减少口粮。”一六五0年,新尼特兰州州秘书长用荷兰文写过一段话,更加详细地告诉预备往那里移居的人说,“在新尼特兰的人,特别在新英格兰的人,起初是无法按他们的愿望建造农舍的,他们在地上挖个方方的地窖似的、六七英尺深的坑,长短随便他们自己,然后在墙壁上装上木板,挡住泥土,用树皮合缝,以免泥土落下来,当然也有用了别种材料的,还用木板铺了地板,做了天花板,架起了一个斜桁的屋顶,铺上树皮或绿草皮,这样他们全家可以很温暖很干燥地在里面住上两年、三年,或者四年,可以想象,这些地窖中,还隔出了一些小房间,这要看家里的人口数目了。新英格兰的阔气的要人,在开始殖民的时候,也住在这样的住所里面,那是有两个原因的,第一,兔得筑造房屋,浪费了时间,弄得下一季粮食不够吃:第二,不希望他们大批地从祖国招来的苦工感觉到灰心。三四年之后当田野已适宜于耕种了,他们才给自己造漂亮的房子,花上几千元的钱。”

我们的祖先采取这个做法,可以看出,他们至少是非常小心的,他们的原则似乎以满足最紧迫的急需为第一。而现在,我们最紧迫的急需满足了没有呢?想到要给我自己置备一幢奢华的广厦,我就垂头丧气了,因为看来这一片土地上还没有相应的人类文化,我们至今还不得不减少我们精神的口粮,减得比我们的祖先节省面粉还要多。这倒不是说一切建筑的装饰甚至可以在最初的阶段里完全忽略掉;而是说可以把我们房屋里和我们生活有联系的部分搞得美一点,就像贝壳的内壁那样,但千万不能搞得过分的美。可是,唉!我曾经走进过一两座房屋,从而知道它们的内部是如何布置的呵!

当然我们没有退化到今天住窑洞,住尖屋,或穿兽皮的程度,自然罗,那付出了高价换来的便利人类的发明与工业的贡献也还是应该接受的。在我们这一带,木板、屋面板、石灰、砖头总比可以住人的洞窟,原根的圆木,大量的树皮,或粘土或平坦的石片更容易得到,也更便宜。我说得相当内行吧,因为我在理论和实际上都熟悉这一些事。只要再聪明一点儿,我们就可以用这些材料,使我们比今天最富有的人还更加富有,使我们的文明成为一种祝福。文明人不过是更有经验、更为聪明一些的野蛮人,可是,让我赶紧来叙述我自己的实验吧。

一八四五年三月尾,我借来一柄斧头,走到瓦尔登湖边的森林里,到达我预备造房子的地点附近,就开始砍伐一些箭矢似的高耸入云的还年幼的白松来做我的木材。开始时要不东借西借,总是很难的,但这也许还是唯一的妙法,让你的朋友们对你的事业发生兴趣。斧头的主人,在他出手借给我的时候,说它是他掌中的珍珠;可是我归还他时,斧头是愈加锋利了。我工作的地点是一个怡悦的山侧,满山松树,穿过松林我望见了湖水,还望见林中一块小小空地,小松树和山核桃树丛生着。湖水凝结成冰,没有完全融化,只化了几处地方,全是黝黑的颜色,而且渗透着水。我在那里工作的几天之内,还飘过几阵小雪:但当我回家去的途中,出来走到铁道上的时候,在大部分的地方,它那黄沙地一直延伸过去,闪烁在蒙蒙的大气中,而铁轨也在春天的阳光下发光了,我听到云雀、小鹅和别的鸟雀都到了,来和我们一块儿开始过这新的一年。那是愉快的春日,人们感到不满的冬日正跟冻上一样地消溶,而蛰伏的生命开始舒伸了。有一天,我的斧头柄掉了,我伐下一段青青的山核桃木来做成一个楔子,用一块石头敲紧了它,就把整个斧头浸在湖水中,好让那木楔子涨大一些,这时我看到一条赤练蛇窜入水中,显然毫不觉得不方便,它躺在湖水底,何止一刻钟,竟跟我在那儿的时间一样长久;也许它还没有从蛰伏的状态中完全苏醒过来。照我看,人类之还残留在目前的原始的低级状态中,也是同样的原因;可是人类如果感到万春之春的影响把他们唤醒了起来,他们必然要上升到更高级、更升华的生命中去。以前,我在降霜的清晨看到过路上一些蛇,它们的身子还有一部分麻木不灵活,还在等待太阳出来唤醒它们。四月一日下了雨,冰溶了,这天的大半个早晨是雾蒙蒙的,我听到一只失群的孤鹅摸索在湖上,迷途似的哀鸣着,像是雾的精灵一样。

我便这样一连几天,用那狭小的斧头,伐木丁丁,砍削木料、门柱和椽木,并没有什么可以奉告的思想,也没有什么学究式的思维,只是自己歌唱,——

人们说他们懂得不少;

瞧啊,他们生了翅膀,——

百艺啊,还有科学,

还有千般技巧;

其实只有吹拂的风

才是他们全部的知觉。

我把主要的木材砍成六英寸见方,大部分的间柱只砍两边,椽木和地板是只砍一边,其余几边留下树皮,所以它们和锯子锯出来的相比,是同样地挺直,而且更加结实。每一根木料都挖了榫眼,在顶上劈出了榫头,这时我又借到一些工具。在林中过的白昼往往很短;然而,我常常带去我的牛油面包当午餐,在正午时还读读包扎它们的新闻报纸,坐在我砍伐下来的青松枝上,它们的芳香染到面包上,因为我手上有一层厚厚的树脂。在我结束以前,松树成了我的密友,虽然我砍伐了几枝,却依然没有和它们结冤,反而和它们越来越亲了。有时候,林中的闲游者给斧声吸引了过来,我们就愉快地面对着碎木片瞎谈。

我的工作干得一点不紧张,只是尽力去做而已,到四月中旬,我的屋架已经完工,可以立起来了。我已经向詹姆斯·柯令斯,一个在菲茨堡铁路上工作的爱尔兰人,买下他的棚屋来使用他的木板。詹姆斯·柯令斯的棚屋被认为是不平凡的好建筑。

我找他去的时候,他不在家。我在外面走动,起先没有给里面注意到,那窗子根深而且很高。屋很小,有一个三角形的屋顶,别的没有什么可看的,四周积有五英尺高的垃圾,像肥料堆。屋顶是最完整的一部分,虽然给太阳晒得弯弯曲曲,而且很脆。没有门框,门板下有一道终年群鸡乱飞的通道。柯夫人来到门口,邀我到室内去看看货色。我一走近,母鸡也给我赶了进去。屋子里光线暗淡,大部分的地板很脏,潮湿,发粘,摇动,只有这里一条,那里一条,是不能搬,一搬就裂的木板。她点亮了一盏灯,给我看屋顶的里边和墙,以及一直伸到床底下去的地板,却劝告我不要踏人地窖中去,那不过是两英尺深的垃圾坑。用她自己的话来说,“头顶上,四周围,都是好木板,还有一扇好窗户,”——原来是两个方框,最近只有猫在那里出进。那里有一只火炉,一张床,一个坐坐的地方,一个出生在那里的婴孩,一把丝质的遮阳伞,还有镀金的镜子一面,以及一只全新的咖啡磨,钉牢在一块幼橡木上,这就是全部了。我们的交易当下就谈妥,因为那时候,詹姆斯也回来啦。当天晚上,我得付四元两角五分,他得在明天早晨五点搬家,可不能再把什么东西卖给别人了;六点钟,我可以去占有那棚屋。他说,赶早来最好,趁别人还来不及在地租和燃料上,提出某种数目不定,但是完全不公道的要求。他告诉我这是唯一的额外开支。到了六点钟,我在路上碰到他和他的一家。一个大包裹,全部家产都在内,——床,咖啡磨,镜子,母鸡,——只除了猫;它奔入树林,成为野猫,后来我又知道它触上了一只捕捉土拨鼠的机关,终于成了一只死猫。

这同一天的早晨,我就拆卸这棚屋,拔下钉子,用小车把木板搬运到湖滨,放在草地上,让太阳再把它们晒得发白并且恢复原来的形状。一只早起的画眉在我驾车经过林中小径时,送来了一个两个乐音。年轻人派屈里克却恶意地告诉我,一个爱尔兰邻居叫西莱的,在装车的间隙把还可以用的、直的、可以钉的钉子,骑马钉和大钉放进了自己的口袋,等我回去重新抬起头来,满不在乎、全身春意盎然地看着那一堆废墟的时候,他就站在那儿,正如他说的,没有多少工作可做。他在那里代表观众,使这琐屑不足道的事情看上去更像是特洛伊城众神的撤离。

我在一处向南倾斜的小山腰上挖掘了我的地窖,那里一只土拨鼠也曾经挖过它的丘穴,我挖去了漆树和黑毒的根,及植物的最下面的痕迹,六英尺见方,七英尺深,直挖到一片良好的沙地,冬天再怎么冷,土豆也决不会冻坏了。它的周围是渐次倾斜的,并没有砌上石块;但太阳从没有照到它,因此没有沙粒流下来。这只不过两小时的工作。我对于破土特别感到兴趣,差不多在所有的纬度上,人们只消挖掘到地下去,都能得到均一的温度。在城市中,最豪华的住宅里也还是可以找到地窖的,他们在里面埋藏他们的块根植物,像古人那样,将来即使上层建筑完全颓毁,很久以后,后代人还能发现它留在地皮上的凹痕。所谓房屋,还只不过是地洞入口处的一些门面而已。

最后,在五月初,由我的一些熟识的人帮忙,我把屋架立了起来,其实这也没有什么必要,我只是借这个机会来跟邻舍联络联络。关于屋架的树立,一切荣耀自应归我。我相信,有那么一天,大家还要一起来树立一个更高的结构。七月四日,我开始住进了我的屋子,因为那时屋顶刚装上,木板刚钉齐,这些木板都削成薄边,镶合在一起,防雨是毫无问题的,但在钉木板之前,我已经在屋子的一端砌好一个烟囱的基础,所用石块约有两车之多,都是我双臂从湖边抱上山的。但直到秋天锄完了地以后,我才把烟囱完成,恰在必需生火取暖之前,而前些时候我总是一清大早就在户外的地上做饭的:这一种方式我还认为是比一般的方式更便利、更惬意一些。如果在面包烤好之前起风下雨,我就在火上挡几块木板,躲在下面凝望着面包,便这样度过了若干愉快的时辰。那些日子里我手上工作多,读书很少,但地上的破纸,甚至单据,或台布,都供给我无限的欢乐,实在达到了同阅读《伊利亚特》一样的目的。

要比我那样建筑房屋还更谨慎小心,也是划得来的,比方说,先考虑好一门一窗、一个地窖或一间阁楼在人性中间有着什么基础,除了目前需要以外,在你找出更强有力的理由以前,也许你永远也不要建立什么上层建筑的。一个人造他自己的房屋,跟一头飞鸟造巢,是同样的合情合理。谁知道呢,如果世人都自己亲手造他们自己住的房子,又简单地老实地用食物养活了自己和一家人,那末诗的才能一定会在全球发扬光大,就像那些飞禽,它们在这样做的时候,歌声唱遍了全球。可是,唉!我们不喜欢燕八哥和杜鹃,它们跑到别个鸟禽所筑造的巢中去下蛋,那叽叽喳喳的不协和乐音并不能使行路经过的人听了快乐。难道我们永远把建筑的快乐放弃给木匠师傅?在大多数的人类经验中,建筑算得了什么呢?在我所有的散步中,还绝对没有碰到过一个人正从事着建造自己住的房屋这样简单而自然的工作。我们是属于社会的。不单裁缝是一个人的九分之一,还有传教士,商人,农夫也有这么多呢。这种分工要分到什么程度为止?最后有什么结果?毫无疑问,别人可以来代替我们思想罗;可是如果他这么做是为了不让我自己思想,这就很不理想了。

真的,在这个国家里面有一种人叫做建筑师,至少我听说过一个建筑师有一种想法要使建筑上的装饰具有一种真理之核心,一种必要性,因此有一种美,好像这是神灵给他的启示。从他的观点来说,是很好的罗,实际他比普通爱好美术的外行人只高明一点儿。一个建筑学上感情用事的改革家,他不从基础,却从飞檐人手。仅在装饰中放一个真理之核心,像糖拌梅子里面嵌进一粒杏仁或者一粒葛缕子,——我总觉得吃杏仁,不用糖更有益于健康,——他不想想居民,即住在房屋里面的人,可以把房屋建筑得里里外外都很好,而不去管什么装饰。哪个讲理性的人会认为装饰只是表面的,仅属于皮肤上的东西,——认为乌龟获得斑纹的甲壳,贝类获得珠母的光泽,就像百老汇的居民获得三一教堂似的要签订什么合同呢?一个人跟他自己的房屋建筑的风格无关,就跟乌龟跟它的甲壳无关一样:当兵的不必那么无聊,把自己的勇气的确切的颜色画在旗帜上。敌人会知道的。到了紧要关头上,他就要脸色发青了。在我看来,这位建筑师仿佛俯身在飞檐上,羞涩地向那粗鲁的住户私语着他的似是而非的真理,实际上住户比他还知道得更多。我现在所看到的建筑学的美,我了解它是从内部向外面渐渐地生长出来的,是从那住在里面的人的需要和他的性格中生长出来的,住在里面的人是唯一的建筑师,——美来自他的不知不觉的真实感和崇高心灵,至于外表他一点儿没有想到;这样的美如果必然产生的话,那他先已不知不觉地有了生命之美。在我们这国土上,画家们都知道,最有趣味的住宅一般是穷困的平民们的那些毫无虚饰的、卑微的木屋和农舍;使房屋显得别致的,不是仅仅在外表上有的哪种特性,而是外壳似的房屋里面的居民生活;同样有趣味的,要算市民们那些郊外的箱形的木屋,他们的生活将是简单的,恰如想象的一样,他们的住宅就没有一点叫人伤脑筋的风格。建筑上的大多数装饰确实是空空洞洞的,一阵九月的风可以把它们吹掉,好比吹落借来的羽毛一样,丝毫无损于实际。并不要在地窖中窖藏橄榄和美酒的人,没有建筑学也可以过得去。如果在文学作品中,也这样多事地追求装饰风,如果我们的《圣经》的建筑师,也像教堂的建筑师这样花很多的时间在飞檐上,结果会怎样呢?那些纯文学、那些艺术学和它们的教授们就是如此矫揉造作的。当然,人很关心这几根木棍子是斜放在他上面呢,还是放在下面,他的箱子应该涂上什么颜色。这里头是很有一点意思的,如果认真他说,他把它们斜放了,箱子徐上颜色了;可是在精神已经离开了躯壳的情况下,那它跟建造他自己的棺材就属于同一性质了——说的是坟墓的建筑学,——而“木匠”只不过是“做棺材的人”的另一个名称罢了。有一个人说,你在失望中,或者对人生采取漠然态度时,抓起脚下的一把泥土来,就用这颜色来粉刷你的房子吧。他想到了他那临终的狭长的房子了吗?抛一个铜币来抉择一下好了。他一定有非常多的闲暇!为什么你要抓起一把泥土来呢?还是用你自己的皮肤颜色来粉刷你的房屋好得多;让它颜色苍白或者为你羞红好了。一个改进村屋建筑风格的创造!等到你找出了我的装饰来,我一定采用它们。

进冬以前,我造了一个烟囱,在屋侧钉上一些薄片,因为那里已经不能挡雨,那些薄片是木头上砍下来的,不很完善的很苍翠的木片,我却不得不用刨子刨平它们的两旁。

这样我有了一个密不通风,钉上木片,抹以泥灰的房屋,十英尺宽,十五英尺长,木拄高八英尺,还有一个阁楼,一个小间每一边一扇大窗,两个活板门,尾端有一个大门,正对大门有个砖砌的火炉。我的房子的支出,只是我所用的这些材料的一般价格,人工不算在内,因为都是我自己动手的,总数我写在下面:我抄写得这样的详细,因为很少数人能够精确他说出来,他们的房子终究花了多少钱,而能够把组成这一些房子的各式各样的材料和各别的价格说出来的人,如果有的活,也是更加少了:——

木板…………………………八·0三五元(多数系旧板)

屋顶及墙板用的旧木片……四.000元

板条…………………………一·二五0元

两扇旧窗及玻璃……………二·四三0元

一千块旧砖…………………四.000元

两箱石灰……………………二·四00元——买贵了

头发…………………………0·三一0元——买多了

壁炉用铁片…………………0·一五0元

钉……………………………三·九00元

铰链及螺丝钉………………0·一四0元

闩子…………………………0·一00元

粉笔…………………………0.0一0元

搬运费………………………一·四00元——大多自己背

共计………………………二八·一二五元

所有材料都在这里了,除了木料,石头,沙子,后面这些材料我是用在公地上占地盖屋的人应该享受的特权取来的。我另外还搭了一个披屋,大都是用造了房子之后留下来的材料盖的。

我本想给我造一座房子,论宏伟与华丽,要超过康科德大街上任何一座房子的,只要它能够像目前的这间使我这样高兴,而且花费也不更多的话。

这样我发现,只想住宿舍的学生完全能够得到一座终身受用的房子,所花的费用还不比他现在每年付的住宿费大呢,如果说,我似乎夸大得有点过甚其辞,那未我的解释是我并非为自己,是为人类而夸大;我的短处和前后不一致并不能影响我言论的真实性,尽管我有不少虚假和伪善的地方——那好像是难于从麦子上打掉的糠秕,我也跟任何人一样为此感到遗憾,——我还是要自由地呼吸,在这件事上挺起我的腰杆子来,这对于品德和身体都是一个极大的快乐;而且我决定,决不屈辱地变成魔鬼的代言人,我要试着为真理说一句好话。在剑桥学院,一个学生住比我那房稍大一点儿的房间,光住宿费就是每年三十元,那家公司却在一个屋顶下造了毗连的三十二个房间,占尽了便宜,房客却因邻居众多而嘈杂,也许还不得不住在四层楼上,因而深感不便。我就不得不想着,如果我们在这些方面有更多的真知的见,不仅教育的需要可以减少,因为更多的教育工作早就可以完成了,而且为了受教育而必需有钱交费那样的事情一定已经大部分都消灭掉了。学生在剑桥或别的学校为了必需有的便利,花掉了他或别人的很大的生命代价,如果双方都合理地处置这一类事情,那只消花十分之一就够了。要收费的东西,决不是学生最需要的东西。例如,学费在这一学期的账目中是一笔大的支出,而他和同时代人中最有教养的人往来,并从中得到更有价值得多的教育,这却不需要付费。成立一个学院的方式,通常是弄到一批捐款的人,捐来大洋和角子,然后盲目地遵从分工的原则,分工分得到了家,这个原则实在是非得审慎从事不可的,——于是招揽了一个承办大工程的包工来,他又雇用了爱尔兰人或别的什么工人,而后果真奠基开工了,然后,学生们得适应在这里面住;而为了这一个失策,一代代的予弟就得付出学费。我想,学生或那些想从学校中得益的人,如果能自己来奠基动工,事情就会好得多。学生得到了他贪求的空闲与休息,他们根据制度,逃避了人类必需的任何劳动,得到的只是可耻的、无益的空闲,而能使这种空闲变为丰富收获的那种经验,他们却全没有学到。“可是,”有人说,“你总不是主张学生不该用脑,而是应该用手去学习吧?”我不完全是这样的主张,我主张的东西他应该多想一想;我主张他们不应该以生活为游戏,或仅仅以生活作研究,还要人类社会花高代价供养他们,他们应该自始至终,热忱地生活。除非青年人立刻进行生活的实践,他们怎能有更好方法来学习生活呢?我想这样做才可以像数学一样训练他们的心智。举例以明之。如果我希望一个孩子懂得一些科学文化,我就不愿意走老路子,那不过是把他送到附近的教授那儿去,那里什么都教,什么都练习,只是不教生活的艺术也不练习生活的艺术;——只是从望远镜或显微镜中考察世界,却从不教授他用肉眼来观看;研究了化学,却不去学习他的面包如何做成,或者什么工艺,也不学如何挣来这一切的,虽然发现了海王星的卫星,却没有发现自己眼睛里的微尘,更没有发现自己成了哪一个流浪汉的卫星;他在一滴醋里观察怪物,却要被他四周那些怪物吞噬。一个孩子要是自己开挖出铁矿石来,自己熔炼它们,把他所需要知道的都从书本上找出来,然后他做成了一把他自己的折刀——另一个孩子则一方面在冶金学院里听讲冶炼的技术课,一方面收到他父亲给他的一把洛杰斯牌子的折刀,——试想过一个月之后,哪一个孩子进步得更快?又是哪一个孩子会给折刀割破了手的呢?……真叫我吃惊,我离开大学的时候,说是我已经学过航海学了!——其实,只要我到港口去打一个转身,我就会学到更多这方面的知识。甚至贫困的学生也学了,并且只被教授以政治经济学,而生活的经济学,那是哲学的同义语,甚至没有在我们的学院中认真地教授过。结果弄成了这个局面,因儿子在研究亚当·斯密,李嘉图和萨伊,父亲却陷入了无法摆脱的债务中。

正如我们的学院,拥有一百种“现代化的进步设施”;对它们很容易发生幻想;却并不总是有肯定的进步。魔鬼老早就投了资,后来又不断地加股,为此他一直索取利息直到最后。我们的发明常常是漂亮的玩具,只是吸引我们的注意力,使我们离开了严肃的事物。它们只是对毫无改进的目标提供一些改进过的方法,其实这目标早就可以很容易地到达的;就像直达波士顿或直达纽约的铁路那样。我们急忙忙要从缅因州筑一条磁力电报线到得克萨斯州;可是从缅因州到得克萨斯州,也许没有什么重要的电讯要拍发。正像一个人,热衷地要和一个耳聋的著名妇人谈谈,他被介绍给她了,助听的听筒也放在他手里了,他却发现原来没有话要对她说。仿佛主要的问题只是要说得快,却不是要说得有理智。我们急急乎要在大西洋底下设隧道,使旧世界能缩短儿个星期,很快地到达新世界,可是传入美国人的软皮搭骨的大耳朵的第一个消息,也许是阿德莱德公主害了百日咳之类的新闻。总之一句话,骑着马,一分钟跑一英里的人决不会携带最重要的消息,他不是一个福音教徒,他跑来跑去也不是为了吃蝗虫和野蜜。我怀疑飞童有没有载过一粒谷子到磨坊去。

有一个人对我说,“我很奇怪你怎么不积几个钱;你很爱旅行;你应该坐上车,今天就上菲茨堡去,见见世面嘛。”可是我比这更聪明些。我已经明白最快的旅行是步行。我对我的朋友说,假定我们试一试,谁先到那里。距离是三十英里,车票是九角钱。这差不多是一天的工资,我还记得,在这条路上做工的人一天只拿六角钱。好了,我现在步行出发,不要到晚上我就到达了;一星期来,我的旅行都是这样的速度。那时候,你是在挣工资,明天的什么时候你也到了,假如工作找得巧,可能今晚上就到达。然而,你不是上菲茨堡,而是花了一天的大部分时间在这儿工作。由此可见,铁路线尽管绕全世界一圈,我想我总还是赶在你的前头;至于见见世面,多点阅历,那我就该和你完全绝交了。

这便是普遍的规律,从没有人能胜过它;至于铁路,我们可以说它是很广而且很长的。使全人类得到一条绕全球一圈的铁路,好像是挖平地球的表面一样。人们糊里糊涂相信着,只要他们继续用合股经营的办法,铲子这样子铲下去,火车最后总会到达某个地方的,几乎不要花多少时间,也不要花什么钱;可是成群的人奔往火车站,收票员喊着“旅客上车!”烟在空中吹散,蒸气喷发浓密,这时可以看到少数人上了车,而其余的人却被车压过去了,这就被称做“一个可悲的事故”,确是如此。毫无疑问,挣到了车资的人,最后还是赶得上车子的,就是说,只要他们还活着,可是说不定那时候他们已经失去了开朗的性情和旅行的愿望了。这种花了一个人的生命中最宝贵的一部分来赚钱,为了在最不宝贵的一部分时间里享受一点可疑的自由,使我想起了那个英国人,为了他可以回到英国去过一个诗人般的生活,他首先跑到印度去发财。他应该立即住进破旧的阁楼去才对。“什么!”一百万个爱尔兰人从土地上的所有的棚屋里发出呼声来了,“我们所造的这条铁路,难道不是一个好东西吗?”是的,我国答,比较起来,是好的,就是说,你们很可能搞得更坏;可是,因为你们是我的兄弟,我希望你们能够比挖掘土方更好地打发你们的光阴。

在我的房屋建成之前,我就想用老实又愉快的方式来赚它十元十二元的,以偿付我的额外支出,我在两英亩半的屋边的沙地上种了点东西,主要是蚕豆,也种了一点土豆,玉米,豌豆和萝卜。我总共占了十一英亩地,大都长着松树和山核桃树,上一季的地价是八元零八分一英亩。有一个农夫说这地“毫无用处,只好养一些叽叽叫的松鼠”。我没有在这片地上施肥,我不是它的主人,不过是一个居住在无主之地上的人,我不希望种那么多的地,就没有一下于把全部的地都锄好。锄地时,我挖出了许多树根来,有几“考德”,供我燃烧了很久,这就留下了几小圈未耕作过的沃土,当蚕豆在夏天里长得异常茂盛的时候是很容易区别它们的。房屋后面那些枯死的卖不掉的树木和湖上漂浮而来的木头也供给了我其余的一部分燃料。我却不能不租一组犁地的马和雇一个短工,但掌犁的还是我自己。我的农场支出,第一季度在工具、种子和工资等方面,一总十四元七角两分五。玉米种子是人家送的。种子实在不值多少钱,除非你种得比需要量更多。我收获蚕豆十二蒲式耳,土豆十八蒲式耳,此外还有若干豌豆和王米。黄玉米和萝卜种晚了,没有收成。农场的收入全部是:

二三·四四元

减去支出一四·七二五元

结余 八·七一五元

除了我消费掉的和手头还存着一些的产品之外,估计约值四元五角——手上的储存已超出了我自己不能生产的一点儿蔬菜的需要量。从全面考虑,这是说,我考虑到人的灵魂和时间的重要性,我虽然为了这个实验占去了我很短的一些时间,不,一部分也因为它的时间非常短暂,我就确信我今年的收成比康科德任

第二年,我就干得更好了,因为我把总需要量的全部土地统统种上了,只不过一英亩的三分之一,从这两年的经验中,我发现了我没有给那些农业巨著吓倒,包括亚瑟·扬的著作在内。我发现一个人如果要简单地生活,只吃他自己收获的粮食,而且并不耕种得超过他的需要,也不无餍足地交换更奢侈、更昂贵的物品,那末他只要耕几平方杆的地就够了:用铲子比用牛耕又便宜得多;每次可更换一块新地,以免给旧地不断地施肥,而一切农场上的必要劳动,只要他夏天有空闲的时候略略做一做就够了;这样他就不会像日前的人们那样去和一头牛,或马,或母牛,或猪猡,捆绑在一起。在这一点上,我希望大公无私他说话,作为一个对目前社会经济措施的成败都不关心的人。我比康科德的任何一个农夫都更具独立性,因为我没有抛锚固定在一座房屋或一个农场上,我能随我自己的意向行事,那意向是每一刹那都变化多端的。况且我的光景已经比他们的好了许多,如果我的房子烧掉了,或者我歉收了,我还能跟以前一样地过得很好。

我常想,不是人在放牛,简直是牛在牧入,而人放牛是更自由的。人与牛是在交换劳动,如果我们考虑的只是必须劳动的话,那末看来牛要占便宜得多,它们的农场也大得多。人担任的一部分交换劳动便是割上六个星期的干草,这可不是儿戏呢。自然没有一个在各方面的生活都很简单的国土,就是说,没有一个哲学家的国土,是愿意犯这种重大错误来叫畜生劳动的。确实世上从未有过,将来也未见得会有那么个哲学家的国土,就是有了,我也不敢说它一定是美满的。然而我绝对不愿意去驯一匹马或一头牛,束缚了它,叫它替我做任何它能做的工作,只因为我怕自己变成了马夫或牛倌;如果说这样做了,社会就得益非浅,那未难道能够肯定一个人的盈利就不是另一个人的损失,难道能够肯定马房里的马夫跟他的主人是同样地满足的吗?就算有些公共的工作没有牛马的帮助是建立不起来的,而且就让人类来和牛马一起分享这种光荣;是否能推理说,那样的话,他就不可能用更加对得起自己的方式来完成这种工作了呢?当人们利用了牛马帮助,开始做了许多不仅是不需要的和艺术的,而且还是奢侈的和无用的工作,这就不可避免的要有少数人得和牛马做交换工作,换句话说,这些人便成了最强者的奴隶。所以,人不仅为他内心的兽性而工作,而且,这像是一个象征,他还为他身外的牲畜而劳动。虽然我们已经有了许多砖瓦或石头砌造的屋子,一个农夫的殷实与否,还得看看他的兽厩在什么程度上盖过了他的住屋。据说城市里有最大的房屋,供给这儿的耕牛、奶牛和马匹居住;公共大厦这一方面毫不落后;可是在这个县里,可供言论自由与信仰自由用的大厅反倒很少呢。国家不应该用高楼大厦来给它们自己树立起纪念碑,为什么不用抽象的思维力来纪念呢?东方的全部废墟,也决不比一卷《对话录》更可赞叹!高塔与寺院是帝王的糜侈。一个单纯而独立的心智决不会听从帝王的吩咐去干苦活的。天才决不是任何帝王的侍从,金子银子和大理石也无法使他们留芳百世,它们最多只能保留极细微的一部分。请告诉我,锤打这么多石头,要达到什么目的呢?当我在阿卡狄亚的时候,我没有看到任何人雕琢大理石。许多国家沉迷在疯狂的野心中,要想靠留下多少雕琢过的石头来使它们自己永垂不朽。如果他们用同样的劳力来琢凿自己的风度,那会怎么样呢?一件有理性的事情,要比矗立一个高得碰到月球的纪念碑还更加值得留传。我更喜欢让石头放在它们原来的地方。像底比斯那样的宏伟是庸俗的。一座有一百个城门的底比斯城早就远离了人生的真正目标,怎能有围绕着诚实人的田园的一平方杆的石墙那么合理呢。野蛮的、异教徒的宗教和文化倒建造了华丽的寺院;而可以称之为基督教的,就没有这样做。一个国家锤击下来的石头大都用在它的坟墓上。它活埋了它自己。说到金字塔,本没有什么可惊奇的,可惊的是有那么多人,竟能屈辱到如此地步,花了他们一生的精力,替一个鲁钝的野心家造坟墓,其实他要是跳尼罗河淹死,然后把身体喂野狗都还更聪明些,更有气派些呢。我未始不可以给他们,也给他找一些掩饰之词,可是我才没有时间呢。至于那些建筑家所信的宗教和他们对于艺术的爱好,倒是全世界一样的,不管他们造的是埃及的神庙还是美利坚合众国银行。总是代价大于实际。虚荣是源泉,助手是爱大蒜、面包和牛油。一个年轻的有希望的建筑师叫巴尔康先生,他在维特罗微乌斯的后面追随着用硬铅笔和直尺设计了一个图样,然后交到道勃苏父子采石公司手上。当三十个世纪开始俯视着它时,人类抬头向着它凝望。你们的那些高塔和纪念碑呵,城里有过一个疯子要挖掘一条通到中国去的隧道,掘得这样深,据说他已经听到中国茶壶和烧开水的响声了;可是,我想我决不会越出我的常轨而去赞美他的那个窟窿的。许多人关心着东方和西方的那些纪念碑,——要知道是谁造的。我愿意知道,是谁当时不肯造这些东西,——谁能够超越乎这许多烦琐玩意儿之上。可是让我继续统计下去吧。

我当时在村中又测量又做木工和各种别的日工,我会的行业有我手指之数那么多,我一起挣了十三元三角四分。八个月的伙食费——就是说,从七月四日到三月一日这些结算出下列账目的日子,虽然在那里我一共过了两个多年头,——我不算自己生产的土豆、一点儿玉米和若干豌豆,也不算结账日留在手上的存货市价,计开:

米………………一·七三五元

糖浆……………一·七三元——最便宜的糖精

黑麦……………一·0四七五元

印第安玉米粉…0·九九七五元——较黑麦价廉

猪肉……………0·二二元

百粉……………0·八八。——价钱比印第安玉米粉贵,而且麻烦

白糖……………0·八0元

猪油……………o·六五元

苹果……………0. 二五元    都是试验,但结果统统是

苹果干…………0.二二元      失败的。

甘薯……………0.一0元

南瓜一只………0·0六元

西瓜一只………0·0二元

盐………………0.0二元)

是的,我的确总共吃掉了八元七角四分;可是,如果我不知道我的读者之中,大多数人是跟我有同样罪过的,他们的清单恐怕公开印出来,还不如我的好呢,那我是不会这样不害臊地公开我的罪过的。第二年,有时我捕鱼吃,有一次我还杀了一条蹂躏我的蚕豆田的土拨鼠,——它颇像鞑靼人所说的在执行它的灵魂转世——我吃了它,一半也是试验性质;虽然有股近乎麝香的香味,它还是暂时给了我一番享受,不过我知道长期享受这口福是没有好处的,即使你请村中名厨给你烹调土拨鼠也不行。

同一时间之内,衣服及其他零用,项目虽然不多,却也有:

八·四0七五元

油及其他家庭用具………二·00元除开洗衣和补衣,那倒多半是拿到外面去的,但账单还没有开来,——这一些是世界上这个部分必需花的全部的钱,或者超出了必需花的范围——所有全部的支出是:

房子………………………………二八·一二五元

农场的一年开支…………………一四·七二五元

八个月的食物………………………八·七四元

八个月的衣服等……………………八·四0七五元

八个月的油等………………………二·00元

共计………………………………六一·九九七五元现在我是向那些要谋生的读者说话的。为了支付这一笔开销,我卖出了农场的产品,计

二三·四四元

日工挣到的…………………………一三·三四元

共计…………………………………三六·七八元

从开销上减去此数,差额二十五元二角一分又四分之三,——恰恰是我开始时所有的资金,原先就预备负担支出的,这是一方面,——而另一方面呢,除了我这样得到的闲暇、独立和康健,我还有一座安乐的房屋,我爱住多久,就住多久。

这些统计资料,虽然很琐碎,似乎没有什么用处,但因相当完备,也就有了某种价值。再没有什么我没有记上账簿的了。从上面列的表看来,仅仅是食物一项,每星期要花掉我两角七分。食物,在后来的将近两年之内,总是黑麦和不发酵的印第安玉米粉,土豆,米,少量的腌肉,糖浆和盐;而我的饮料,则是水。对我这样爱好印度哲学的人,用米作为主要的食粮是合适的。为了对付一些习惯于吹毛求疵的人的反对,我还不如说一说,如果我有时跑到外面去吃饭,我以前是这样做的,相信将来还是有机会要到外面去吃饭的,那我这样做是会损害我家里的经济安排的。我已经说了,到外面吃饭是经常的事,对于这样的比较的说法,是一点不发生影响的。

我从两年的经验中知道,甚至在这个纬度上,要得到一个人所必需的食粮也极少麻烦,少到不可信的地步;而且一个人可以像动物一样的吃简单的食物,仍然保持康健和膂力。我曾经从玉米田里采了一些马齿苋(学名Portulaca oleracea)煮熟加盐,吃了一餐,这一餐饭在好些方面使我心满意足。我把它的拉丁文的学名写下是因为它的俗名不很好。请说说看,在和平的年代,在日常的中午时分,除了吃一些甜的嫩玉米,加上盐煮,一个讲究理性的人还能希望什么更多的食物呢?就是我稍稍变换花样,也只是为了换换口味,并不是为了健康的缘故。然而人们常常挨饿,不是因为缺少必需品,而是因为缺少了奢侈品;我还认识一个良善的女人,她以为她的儿子送了命是因为他只喝清水。

读者当然明白,这问题我是从经济学的观点,不是从美食的观点来处理的,他不会大胆地把我这种节食来作试验,除非他是一个脂肪太多的人。

起先我用纯粹的印第安玉米粉和盐来焙制面包,纯粹的褥糕,我在露天的火上烤它们,放在一片薄木片上,或者放在建筑房屋时从木料上锯下来的木头上;可是时常熏得有松树味儿。我也试过面粉;可是最后发现了黑麦和印第安玉米粉的合制最方便,最可口。在冷天,这样连续地烘这些小面包是很有趣的事,过细地翻身,像埃及人孵小鸡一样。我烤熟的,正是我的真正的米粮的果实,在我的嗅觉中,它们有如其他的鲜美的果实一样,有一种芳香,我用布把它们包起,尽量要保持这种芳香,越长久越好。我研读了不可缺少的制造面包的古代艺术,向那些权威人物讨教,一直回溯到原始时代,不发酵的面包的第一个发明,那时从吃野果子,啖生肉,人类第一次进步到了吃这一种食物的文雅优美的程度,我慢慢地又在我的读物中,探索到面团突然间发酸,据信就这样,发酵的技术被学到了,然后经过了各种的发酵作用,直到我读到“良好的,甘美的,有益健康的面包”,这生命的支持者。有人认为发酵剂是西包的灵魂,是充填细胞组织的精神,像圣灶上的火焰,被虔诚地保留下来,——我想,一定有很珍贵的几瓶是最初由“五月花”带来,为美国担当了这任务的,而它的影响还在这片土地上升腾,膨胀,伸展,似食粮的波涛,——这酵母我也从村中正规地忠诚地端来了,直到有一天早晨,我却忘记了规则,用滚水烫了我的酵母;这件意外事使我发现甚至酵母也可以避免的,……我发现这个不是用综合的,而是用了分析的方式——-从此我快快活活地取消了它,虽然大多数的家庭主妇曾经热忱地劝告我,没有发酵粉,安全而有益健康的面包是不可能的,年老的人还说我的体力会很快就衰退的。然而,我发现这并不是必需的原料,没有发酵我也过了一年,我还是生活在活人的土地上;我高兴的是我总算用不到在袋子里带一只小瓶子了,有时砰的一声瓶子破碎,里面的东西都倒掉了,弄得我很不愉快,不用这东西更干脆,更高尚了。人这种动物,比起别的动物来,更能够适应各种气候和各种环境。我也没有在面包里放什么盐,苏打,或别的酸素,或碱。看来我是依照了基督诞生前两个世纪的马尔库斯·鲍尔修斯·卡托的方子做面包的。 “Panem depstieium sic facito.Manus mortariumque bene lavato. Farinam in mortarium indito, aquae paulatim addito,subigitoque pulchre,Ubi bene subegeris,defillgito,coquitoquesub testu,”③他的这段话我这样理解:——“这样来做手揉的面包。洗净你的手和长槽。把粗粉放进长槽,慢慢加水,揉得透彻。等你揉好了,使成形,而后盖上盖于烘烤,”——这是说在一只烤面包的炉中。一个字也没有提到发酵。可是我还不能常常用这一类的生命的支持者。有一个时期,囊空如洗,我有一个月之久,都没有看到过面包。

每一个新英格兰人都可以很容易地在这块适宜种黑麦和印第安玉米的土地上,生产出他自己所需要的面包原料,而不依靠那远方的变动剧烈的市场。然而我们过得既不朴素,又没有独立性,在康科德,店里已经很难买到又新鲜又甜的玉米粉了,玉米片和更粗糙的玉米简直已没有人吃。农夫们把自己生产的一大部分谷物喂了牛和猪,另外花了更大的代价到铺予里去买了未必更有益健康的面粉回来。我看到我可以很容易地生产我的一两蒲式耳的黑麦和印第安玉米粉,前者在最贫瘠的地上也能生长,后者也用不着最好土地,就可以用手把它们磨碎,没有米没有猪肉就能够过日子:如果我一定要有一些糖精,我发现从南瓜或甜菜根里还可以做出一种很好的糖浆来,只要我加上糖械就可以更容易地做出糖来;如果当时这一些还正在生长着,我也可以用许多代用品,代替已经提到过的几种东西。“因为,”我们的祖先就曾歌唱,——

“我们可以用南瓜,胡桃木和防风

来做成美酒,来甜蜜我们的嘴唇。”

最后,说到盐,杂货中之最杂者,找盐本可以成为一个到海边去的合适机会,或者,如果完全不用它,那倒也许还可以少喝一点开水呢。我不知道印第安人有没有为了得到食盐,而劳费过心

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

有一部分不肯信服的人有时问我这样的问题,例如我是否认为只吃蔬菜就可以生活;为了立刻说出事物的本质,——因为本质就是信心——我往往这样口答,说我吃木板上的钉子都可以生活下去的。如果他们连这也不了解,那不管我怎么说,他们都不会了解的。在我这方面,我很愿意听说有人在做这样的实验;好像有一个青年曾尝试过半个月,只靠坚硬的连皮带壳的玉米来生活,而且只用他的牙齿来做石臼。松鼠曾试过,很成功。人类对这样的试验是有兴趣的,虽然有少数几个老妇人,被剥夺了这种权利,或者在面粉厂里拥有亡夫的三分之一遗产的,她们也许要吓一跳了。

我的家具,一部分是我自己做的——其余的没花多少钱,但我没有记账——包括一张床,一只桌子,三只凳子,一面直径三英寸的镜子,一把火钳和柴架,一只壶,一只长柄平底锅,一个煎锅,一只勺子,一只洗脸盆,两副刀叉,三只盘,一只杯子,一把调羹、一只油罐,和一只糖浆缸,还有一只上了日本油漆的灯。没有人会穷得只能坐在南瓜上的。那是偷懒的办法。在村中的阁搂上,有好些是我最喜欢的椅子;只要去拿,就属于你了。家具!谢谢天。我可以坐,我可以站,用不到家具公司来帮忙。如果一个人看到自己的家具装在车上,曝露在光天化日之下,睽睽众目之前,而且只是一些极不入眼的空箱子,除了哲学家之外,谁会不害羞呢?这是斯波尔亭的家具。看了这些家具,我还无法知道是属于一个所谓阔人的呢,还是属于穷人的;它的主人的模样似乎总是穷相十足的。真的,这东西越多,你越穷。每一车,都好像是十几座棚屋里的东西;一座棚屋如果是很穷的,这就是十二倍地穷困。你说,为什么我们时常搬家,而不是丢掉一些家具,丢掉我们的蛇蜕;离开这个世界,到一个有新家具的世界去,把老家具烧掉呢?这正如一个人把所有陷饼的机关都缚在他的皮带上,他搬家经过我们放着绳子的荒野时,不能不拖动那些绳子,——拖到他自己的陷饼里去了。把断尾巴留在陷阶中的狐狸是十分幸运的。麝鼠为了逃命,宁肯咬断它的第三条腿子。难怪人已失去了灵活性。多少回他走上了一条绝路!“先生,请您恕我唐突,你所谓的绝路是什么意思呢?”如果你是一个善于观察的人,任何时候你遇见一个人,你都能知道他有一些什么东西,嗳,还有他好些装作没有的东西,你甚至能知道他的厨房中的家什以及一切外观华美丽毫不实用的东西,这些东西他却都要留着,不愿意烧掉,他就好像是被挽驾在上面,尽是拖着它们往前走。一个人钻过了一个绳结的口,或过了一道门,而他背面的一车子家具却过不去,这时,我说,这个人是走上一条绝路了。当我听到一个衣冠楚楚、外表结实的人,似乎很自由,似乎他一切都安排得很得当,却说到了他的“家具”,不管是不是保了险,我不能不怜悯他。“我的家具怎么办呢?”我的欢乐的蝴蝶,这就扑进了一只蜘蛛网了。甚至有这样的人,多年来好像并没有家具牵累他似的,但是,如果你仔细地盘问他一下,你就发现在什么人家的棚子底下,也储藏着他的几件家具呢。我看今天的英国,就好像一个老年绅士,带着他的许多行李在旅行着,全是住家住久了以后,积起来的许多华而不实的东西,而他是没有勇气来把它们烧掉的:大箱子,小箱子,手提箱,还有包裹。至少把前面的三种抛掉了吧。现在,就是一个身体康健的人也不会提了他的床铺上路的。我自然要劝告一些害病的人,抛弃他们的床铺,奔跑奔跑。当我碰到一个移民,带着他的全部家产的大包裹,蹒跚前行,——那包裹好像他脖于后头长出来的一个大瘤——我真可怜他,并不因为他只有那么一丁点儿,倒是因为他得带着这一切跑路。如果我必须带着我的陷阱跑路,至少我可以带一个比较轻便的陷阱。机括一发,也不会咬住我最机要的部分。可是,最聪明的办法还是千万不要把自己的手掌放进陷阱。

我顺便说一下,我也不花什么钱去买窗帘,因为除了太阳月亮,没有别的偷窥的人需要关在外面,我也愿意它们来看看我。月亮不会使我的牛奶发酸,或使我的肉发臭,太阳也不会损害我的家具,或使我的地毡褪色;如果我有时发现这位朋友太热情了,我觉得退避到那些大自然所提供的窗帘后面去,在经济上更加划得来,何必在我的家政之中,又添上一项窗帘呢。有一位夫人,有一次要送我一张地席,可是我屋内找不到地位给它,也没有时间在屋内屋外打扫它,我没有接受,我宁可在我门前的草地上揩拭我的脚底。真应该在罪恶开始时就避免它。

此后不久,我参观过一个教会执事的动产的拍卖,他的一生并不是没有成绩的,而:——

“人作的恶,死后还流传。”

照常,大部分的东西是华而不实的,还是他父亲手里就开始积藏了。其中,还有着一条干绦虫。现在,这些东西,躺在他家的阁楼和别些尘封的洞窟中已经半个世纪之久,还没有被烧掉呢;非但不是一把火烧了它们,或者说火化消毒,反而拍卖了,要延长它们的寿命了。邻居成群地集合,热心观摩,全部买下之后,小心翼翼地搬进他们的阁楼和别的尘封的洞窟中,躺在那里,直到这一份家产又需要清理,到那时它们又得出一次门。一个人死后,他的脚踢到灰尘。

也许有些野蛮国家的风俗,值得我们学一学,大有益处,因为他们至少还仿佛每年要蜕一次皮;虽然这实际上做不到,他们却有意象征性地做一做。像巴尔特拉姆描写摩克拉斯族印第安人的风俗,我们要是也这样举行庆祝,也举行收获第一批果实的圣礼,这难道不是很好吗?“当一个部落举行庆祝圣礼的时候,”他说,“他们先给自己预备了新衣服,新坛新罐,新盘子,新器具和新家具,然后集中了所有的穿破了的衣服和别的可以抛弃的旧东西,打扫了他们的房子,广场和全部落,把垃圾连带存下来的坏谷物和别的陈旧粮食,一起倒在一个公共的堆上,用火烧掉了它。又吃了药,绝食三天,全部落都熄了火。绝食之时,他们禁绝了食欲和其他欲愿的满足。大赦令宣布了;一切罪人都可以回部落来。”

“在第四天的早晨,大祭司就摩擦着干燥的木头,在广场上生起了新的火焰。每一户居民都从这里得到了这新生的纯洁的火焰了。”

于是他们吃起新的谷物和水果,唱歌跳舞三夭,“而接连的四天之内,他们接受邻近部落的友人们的访问和庆贺,他们也用同样的方式净化了,一应准备就绪了。”

墨西哥人每过五十二年也要举行一次净化典礼,他们相信世界五十二年结束一次。

我没有听到过比这个更真诚的圣礼了,就像字典上说的圣礼,是“内心灵性优美化的外在可见的仪式”,我一点不怀疑,他们的风俗是直接由天意传授的,虽然他们并没有一部圣经来记录那一次的启示。

我仅仅依靠双手劳动,养活了我自己,已不止五年了,我发现,每年之内我只需工作六个星期,就足够支付我一切生活的开销了。整个冬天和大部分夏天,我自由而爽快地读点儿书。我曾经全心全意办过学校,我发现得到的利益顶多抵上了支出,甚至还抵不上,因为我必须穿衣,修饰,不必说还必须像别人那样来思想和信仰,结果这一笔生意损失了我不少时间,吃亏得很。由于我教书不是为了我同类的好处,而只是为了生活,这失败了。我也尝试过做生意,可是我发现要善于经商,得花上十年工夫,也许那时我正投到魔鬼的怀抱中去。我倒是真正担心我的生意到那时已很兴隆。从前,我东找西找地找一个谋生之道的时候,由于曾经想符合几个朋友的希望,而有过一些可悲的经验,这些经验在我脑中逼得我多想些办法,所以我常常严肃地想到还不如去拣点浆果;这我自然能做到,那蝇头微利对我也够了,——因为我的最大本领是需要极少,——我这样愚蠢地想着,这只要极少资本,对我一贯的情绪又极少抵触。当我熟识的那些人毫不踌躇地做生意,或就业了,我想我这一个职业倒是最接近于他们的榜样了;整个暑天漫山遍野地跑路,一路上拣起面前的浆果来,过后随意处置了它们;好像是在看守阿德默特斯的羊群。我也梦想过,我可以采集些闲花野草,用运干草的车辆把常青树给一些爱好树林的村民们运去,甚至还可以运到城里。可是从那时起我明白了,商业诅咒它经营的一切事物;即使你经营天堂的福音,也摆脱不了商业对它的全部诅咒。

因为我对某些事物有所偏爱,而又特别的重视我的自由,因为我能吃苦,而又能获得些成功,我并不希望花掉我的时间来购买富丽的地毡,或别的讲究的家具,或美味的食物,或希腊式的或哥特式的房屋。如果有人能毫无困难地得到这一些,得到之后,更懂得如何利用它们,我还是让他们去追求。有些人的“勤恳”,爱劳动好像是生就的,或者因为劳动可以使他们免得干更坏的事;对于这种人,暂时我没有什么话说。至于那些人,如果有了比现在更多的闲暇,而不知如何处理,那我要劝他们加倍勤恳地劳动,——劳动到他们能养活自己,取得他们的自由证明书。我自己是觉得,任何职业中,打短工最为独立不羁,何况一年之内只要三四十天就可以养活自己。短工的一天结束于太阳落山的时候,之后他可以自由地专心于他自己选定的跟他的劳动全不相干的某种活动;而他的雇主要投机取巧,从这个月到下一个月,一年到头得不到休息。

简单一句活,我已经确信,根据信仰和经验,一个人要在世间谋生,如果生活得比较单纯而且聪明,那并不是苦事,而且还是一种消遣;那些比较单纯的国家,人们从事的工作不过是一些更其人工化的国家的体育运动。流汗劳动来养活自己,并不是必要的,除非他比我还要容易流汗。

我认识一个继承了几英亩地的年轻人,他告诉我他愿意像我一样生活,如果他有办法的话。我却不愿意任何人由于任何原因,而采用我的生活方式;因为,也许他还没有学会我的这一种,说不定我已经找到了另一种方式,我希望世界上的人,越不相同越好;但是我愿意每一个人都能谨慎地找出并坚持他自己的合适方式,而不要采用他父亲的,或母亲的,或邻居的方式。年轻人可以建筑,也可以耕种,也可以航海,只要不阻挠他去做他告诉我他愿意做的事,就好了。人是聪明的,因为他能计算;水手和逃亡的奴隶都知道眼睛盯住北极星,这些观点是管保用上一辈子的了。我们也许不能够在一个预定的时日里到达目的港,但我们总可以走在一条真正的航线上。

无疑的在这里,凡是对一个人是真实的,对于一千个人也是真实的,正像一幢大房子,按比例来说,并不比一座小房子来得更浪费钱财;一个屋顶可以盖住几个房间,一个地窖可以躺在几个房间的下面,一道道墙壁更可以分隔出许多房间来。我自己是喜欢独居的。再说,全部由你自己来筑造,比你拿合用一道公墙的好处去说服邻家要便宜得多;如果你为了便宜的缘故跟别家合用了墙,这道墙一定很薄,你隔壁住的也许不是一个好邻居,而且他也不修理他那一面的墙,一般能够做到的合作只是很小的部分,而且是表面上的;要有点儿真正的合作心意,表面上反而看不出来,却有着一种听不见的谐和。如果一个人是有信心的,他可以到处用同样的信心与人合作;如果他没有信心,他会像世界上其余的人一样,继续过他自己的生活,不管他跟什么人做伴。合作的最高意义与最低意义,乃是让我们一起生活。最近我听说有两个年轻人想一起作环球旅行,一个是没有钱的,一路上要在桅杆前,在犁锄后,挣钱维持生活,另一个袋里带着旅行支票。这是很明白的,他们不可能长久地做伴或合作,因为这一合作中有一人根本不作什么。在他们旅行中第一个有趣的危机发生之时,他们就要分手。最主要的是我已经说过的,一个单独旅行的人要今天出发就出发;而结伴的却得等同行的准备就绪,他们出发之前可能要费很长的时日。

可是,这一切是很自私呵,我听到一些市民们这样说。我承认,直到现在,我很少从事慈善事业。我有一种责任感,使我牺牲了许多快乐,其中,慈善这一喜悦我也把它扔了。有人竭力穷智,要劝导我去援助市里的一些穷苦人家:如果我没有事做了,——而魔鬼是专找没有事的人的,——也许我要动手试做这一类的事,消遣消遣。然而,每当我想在这方面试一下,维持一些穷人的生活,使他们各方面都能跟我一样地舒服,把他们过天堂的生活作为一个义务,甚至已经提出了我的帮助,可是这些穷人却全体一致毫不踌躇地都愿意继续贫穷下去。我们市里的一些男女,正在多方设法,为他们的同胞谋取好处,我相信这至少可以使人不去做别的没有人性的事业。但慈善像其他的任何事业一样,必须有天赋的才能。“做好事”是一个人浮于事的职业。况且,我也尝试过。奇怪得很,这不合我的胃口,因此我对自己是满意的。也许我不应该有意谨慎小心地逃避社会要求于我的这种使宇宙不至于毁灭的“做好事”的特殊的职责,我却相信,在一个不知什么地方,确有着一种类乎慈善的事业,然而比起来不知坚定了多少的力量,在保持我们现在的这个宇宙呢。可是我不会阻拦一个人去发挥他的天才的;对于这种工作,我自己是不做的,而对于做着的人,他既全心全意地终身做着,我将说,即使全世界说这是“做恶事”,很可能有这种看法,你们还是要坚持下去。

我一点都不是说我例外,无疑,读者之中,许多人要同样地申辩的。在做什么事的时候,——我并不保证说邻居们会说它是好事的,——我可以毫不迟疑他说,我可是一个很出色的雇工呢;可是做什么事我才出色呢,这要让我的雇主来发现了。我做什么好,凡属于一般常识的所谓好,一定不在我的主要轨道上,而且大多是我自己都无意去做的。人们很实际他说,从你所站着的地方开始,就照原来的样子,不要主要以成为更有价值的人作为目标,而要以好心肠去做好事情。要是我也用这种调子说话,我就干脆这样说:去吧,去做好人。仿佛太阳在以它的火焰照耀了月亮或一颗六等星以后,会停下来,跑来跑去像好人罗宾似的,在每所村屋的窗外偷看,叫人发疯,叫肉变质,使黑暗的地方可以看得见东西,而不是继续不已地增强他的柔和的热和恩惠,直到它变得这般光辉灿烂,没有几人能够凝视它,而同时它绕着世界,行走在它自己的轨道上,做好事,或者说,像一个真正的哲学家已经发现了的,地球会绕着它运转而得到了它的好处。当法厄同要证明他的出身是神,恩惠世人,驾驶日轮,只不过一天,就越出轨道时,他在天堂下面的街上烧掉了几排房子,还把地球表面烧焦了,把每年的春天部烘干了,而且创造了一个撒哈拉大沙漠,最后朱庇特一个霹雳把他打到地上,太阳为悲悼他的丧命,有一年没有发光。

没有比善良走了味更坏的气味了。这像人的腐尸或神的腐尸臭味一样。如果我确实知道有人要到我家里来,存心要给我做好事,我就要逃命了,好像我要逃出非洲沙漠中的所谓西蒙风的狂风,它的沙粒塞满了你的嘴巴、耳朵、鼻子和眼睛,直到把你闷死为止,因为我就怕他做的好事做到了我身上,——他的毒素混入我的血液中。不行,——要是如此,我倒宁可忍受人家在我身上干的坏事,那倒来得自然些。如果我饥饿,而他喂饱了我,如果我寒冷,而他暖和了我,如果我掉在沟中,而他拉起了我,这个人不算好人。我可以找一条纽芬兰的狗给你看,这些它都做得到。慈善并不是那种爱同胞的广义的爱。霍华德固然从他本人那方面来说无疑是很卓越的,很了不起的,且已善有善报了;可是,比较他说来,如果霍华德们的慈善事业,慈善不到我们已经拥有最好的产业的人身上,那末,在我们最值得接受帮助的时候,一百个霍华德对于我们又有什么用处?我从没有听到过任何一个慈善大会曾诚诚恳恳提议过要向我,或向我这样的一些人,来行善做好事。

那些那稣会会士也给印第安人难倒了,印第安人在被绑住活活烧死的时候提出新奇的方式来虐待他们的施刑者。他们是超越了肉体的痛苦的,有时就不免证明他们更超越了传教士所能献奉的灵魂的慰藉;你应该奉行的规则是杀害他们时少噜苏一点,少在这些人的耳朵上絮聒,他们根本就不关心他们如何被害,他们用一种新奇的方式来爱他们的仇敌,几乎已经宽赦了他们所犯的一切罪行。

你一定要给穷人以他们最需要的帮助,虽然他们落在你的后面本是你的造孽。如果你施舍了钱给他们,你应该自己陪同他们花掉这笔钱,不要扔给他们就算了。我们有时候犯很奇怪的错误。往往是那个穷人,邋遢、褴楼又粗野,但并没有冻馁之忧,他并不怎么不幸,他往往还乐此不疲呢。你要是给了他钱,他也许就去买更多褴褛的衣服。我常常怜悯那些穷相十足的爱尔兰工人,在湖上挖冰,穿得这样褴褛,这样贫贱,而我穿的是干净的似乎是比较合时的衣服)却还冷得发抖呢,直到有一个严寒的冷天,一个掉进了冰里的人来到我的屋中取暖,我看他脱下了三条裤子和两双袜子才见到皮肤,虽然裤子袜子破敝不堪,这是真的,可是他拒绝了我将要献呈于他的额外衣服,因为他有着这许多的里面衣服。活该他落水的了。于是我开始可怜我自己,要是给我一件法兰绒衬衫,那就比给他一座旧衣铺子慈善得多。一千人在砍着罪恶的树枝,只有一个人砍伐了罪恶的根,说不定那个把时间和金钱在穷人身上花得最多的人,正是在用他那种生活方式引起最多的贫困与不幸,现在他却在徒然努力于挽救之道。正是道貌岸然的蓄奴主,拿出奴隶生产的利息的十分之一来,给其余的奴隶星期日的自由。有人为表示对穷人赐恩而叫他到厨房去工作。为什么他们自己不下厨房工作,这不是更慈悲了吗?你吹牛说,你的收入的十分之一捐给慈善事业了,也许你应该捐出十分之九,就此结束。那未,社会收回的只是十分之一的财富。这是由于占有者的慷慨呢,还是由于持正义者的疏忽呢?

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

我并不要从慈善应得的赞美中减去什么,我只要求公平,对一切有利于人类的生命与工作应一视同仁。我不以为一个人的正直和慈善是主要的价值,它们不过是他的枝枝叶叶。那种枝叶,褪去了叶绿素,做成了药茶给病人喝,就是它有了一些卑微的用处,多数是走四方的郎中用它们。我要的是人中的花朵和果实;让他的芬芳传送给我,让他的成熟的馨香在我们交接中熏陶我。他的良善不能是局部的、短暂的行为,而是常持的富足有余,他的施与于他无损,于他自己,也无所知。这是一种将万恶隐藏起来的慈善。慈善家经常记着他要用自己散发出来的那种颓唐悲戚的气氛,来绕住人类,美其名曰同情心。我们应该传播给人类的是我们的勇气而不是我们的失望,是我们的健康与舒泰,而不是我们的病容,可得小心别传染了疾病。从哪一个南方的平原上,升起了一片哀号声?在什么纬度上,住着我们应该去播送光明的异教徒?谁是那我们应该去挽救的纵欲无度的残暴的人?如果有人得病了,以致不能做他的事,如果他肠痛了,——这很值得同情——-他慈善家就要致力于改良——这个世界了。他是大千世界里的一个缩影,他发现,这是一个真正的发现,而且是他发现的,——世界在吃着青苹果;在他的眼中,地球本身便是一只庞大的青苹果,想起来这却很可怕,人类的孩子如果在苹果还没有成熟的时候就去噬食它,那是很危险的;可是他那狂暴的慈善事业使他径直去找了爱斯基摩人、巴塔哥尼亚人,还拥抱了人口众多的印度和中国的村落;就这样由于他几年的慈善活动,有权有势者还利用了他来达到他们的目的,无疑他治好了自己的消化不良症,地球的一颊或双颊也染上了红晕,好像它开始成熟起来了,而生命也失去了它的粗野,再一次变得又新鲜又健康,更值得生活了。我从没有梦见过比我自己所犯的更大的罪过。我从来没有见过,将来也不会见到一个比我自己更坏的人了。

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

我们的风度,因为和圣者交游,所以被败坏了。我们的赞美诗中响起了诅咒上帝的旋律,永远是在忍受他。可以说,便是先知和救主,也只能安慰人的恐惧而不能肯定人的希望。哪儿也没有对人生表示简单热烈的满意的记载,哪儿也找不到任何赞美上帝的使人难忘的记载。,一切健康、成就,使我高兴,尽管它遥远而不可及;一切疾病、失败使我悲伤,引起恶果,尽管它如何同情我,或我如何同情它。所以,如果我们要真的用印第安式的、植物的、磁力的或自然的方式来恢复人类,首先让我们简单而安宁,如同大自然一样,逐去我们眉头上垂挂的乌云,在我们的精髓中注入一点儿小小的生命。不做穷苦人的先知,努力做值得生活在世界上的一个人。

我在设拉子的希克·萨迪的《花园》中,读到“他们询问一个智者说,在至尊之神种植的美树的高大华盖中,没有一枝被称为Azad,自由,只除了柏树,柏树却不结果,这里面有什么神秘?他回答道,各自都有它适当的生产,一定的季节,适时则茂郁而开花,不当时令它们便干枯而萎谢;柏树不属于这些,它永远苍翠,具有这种本性的得称为Azad,宗教的独立者。——你的心不要固定在变幻的上面,因为Dijlah,底格利斯河,在哈里发绝种以后,还是奔流经过巴格达的;如果你手上很富有,要像枣树一样慷慨自由;可是,如果你没有可给的呢,做一个Azad,自由的人,像柏树一样吧。”

补充诗篇

斥穷困

穷鬼,你太装腔作势,

在苍穹底下占着位置,

你的茆草棚或你的木桶,

养成了一些懒惰或迂腐的德性,

在免费的阳光下,荫凉的泉水滨,

吃吃菠菜和菜根;在那里你的右手,

从心灵上撕去了人类的热情,

灿烂的美德都是从这些热情上怒放的,

你降低了大自然,封锁了感官,

像蛇发的女妖,变活人为岩石。

我们并不需要沉闷的社会,

这种属于你的必需节制的社会,

不需要这种不自然的愚蠢,

不知喜怒也不知哀乐;也不知道

被迫的装腔作势的被动的

超乎积极的勇敢。这卑贱的一伙,

把他们的位置固定在平庸中,

成了你的奴性的心灵;可是我们

只推崇这样的美德,容许狂狷,

勇武和大度的行为,庄严宏丽的,

无所不见的谨慎,无边无际的

宏大气量,还有那种英雄美德,

自古以来还没有一个名称,

只有些典型,就好像赫拉克勒斯,

阿基里斯,齐修斯。滚进你的脏窝:

等你看到了新的解放了的宇宙,

你该求知这些最优美的是什么。

—— T.卡仑       





Where I Lived, and What I Lived For

At a certain season of our life we are accustomed to consider every spot as the possible site of a house. I have thus surveyed the country on every side within a dozen miles of where I live. In imagination I have bought all the farms in succession, for all were to be bought, and I knew their price. I walked over each farmer's premises, tasted his wild apples, discoursed on husbandry with him, took his farm at his price, at any price, mortgaging it to him in my mind; even put a higher price on it—took everything but a deed of it—took his word for his deed, for I dearly love to talk—cultivated it, and him too to some extent, I trust, and withdrew when I had enjoyed it long enough, leaving him to carry it on. This experience entitled me to be regarded as a sort of real-estate broker by my friends. Wherever I sat, there I might live, and the landscape radiated from me accordingly. What is a house but a sedes, a seat?—better if a country seat. I discovered many a site for a house not likely to be soon improved, which some might have thought too far from the village, but to my eyes the village was too far from it. Well, there I might live, I said; and there I did live, for an hour, a summer and a winter life; saw how I could let the years run off, buffet the winter through, and see the spring come in. The future inhabitants of this region, wherever they may place their houses, may be sure that they have been anticipated. An afternoon sufficed to lay out the land into orchard, wood-lot, and pasture, and to decide what fine oaks or pines should be left to stand before the door, and whence each blasted tree could be seen to the best advantage; and then I let it lie, fallow, perchance, for a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.

My imagination carried me so far that I even had the refusal of several farms—the refusal was all I wanted—but I never got my fingers burned by actual possession. The nearest that I came to actual possession was when I bought the Hollowell place, and had begun to sort my seeds, and collected materials with which to make a wheelbarrow to carry it on or off with; but before the owner gave me a deed of it, his wife—every man has such a wife—changed her mind and wished to keep it, and he offered me ten dollars to release him. Now, to speak the truth, I had but ten cents in the world, and it surpassed my arithmetic to tell, if I was that man who had ten cents, or who had a farm, or ten dollars, or all together. However, I let him keep the ten dollars and the farm too, for I had carried it far enough; or rather, to be generous, I sold him the farm for just what I gave for it, and, as he was not a rich man, made him a present of ten dollars, and still had my ten cents, and seeds, and materials for a wheelbarrow left. I found thus that I had been a rich man without any damage to my poverty. But I retained the landscape, and I have since annually carried off what it yielded without a wheelbarrow. With respect to landscapes,

"I am monarch of all I survey, 
My right there is none to dispute."  

I have frequently seen a poet withdraw, having enjoyed the most valuable part of a farm, while the crusty farmer supposed that he had got a few wild apples only. Why, the owner does not know it for many years when a poet has put his farm in rhyme, the most admirable kind of invisible fence, has fairly impounded it, milked it, skimmed it, and got all the cream, and left the farmer only the skimmed milk.

The real attractions of the Hollowell farm, to me, were: its complete retirement, being, about two miles from the village, half a mile from the nearest neighbor, and separated from the highway by a broad field; its bounding on the river, which the owner said protected it by its fogs from frosts in the spring, though that was nothing to me; the gray color and ruinous state of the house and barn, and the dilapidated fences, which put such an interval between me and the last occupant; the hollow and lichen-covered apple trees, gnawed by rabbits, showing what kind of neighbors I should have; but above all, the recollection I had of it from my earliest voyages up the river, when the house was concealed behind a dense grove of red maples, through which I heard the house-dog bark. I was in haste to buy it, before the proprietor finished getting out some rocks, cutting down the hollow apple trees, and grubbing up some young birches which had sprung up in the pasture, or, in short, had made any more of his improvements. To enjoy these advantages I was ready to carry it on; like Atlas, to take the world on my shoulders—I never heard what compensation he received for that—and do all those things which had no other motive or excuse but that I might pay for it and be unmolested in my possession of it; for I knew all the while that it would yield the most abundant crop of the kind I wanted, if I could only afford to let it alone. But it turned out as I have said.

All that I could say, then, with respect to farming on a large scale—I have always cultivated a garden—was, that I had had my seeds ready. Many think that seeds improve with age. I have no doubt that time discriminates between the good and the bad; and when at last I shall plant, I shall be less likely to be disappointed. But I would say to my fellows, once for all, As long as possible live free and uncommitted. It makes but little difference whether you are committed to a farm or the county jail.

Old Cato, whose "De Re Rusticâ" is my "Cultivator," says—and the only translation I have seen makes sheer nonsense of the passage—"When you think of getting a farm turn it thus in your mind, not to buy greedily; nor spare your pains to look at it, and do not think it enough to go round it once. The oftener you go there the more it will please you, if it is good." I think I shall not buy greedily, but go round and round it as long as I live, and be buried in it first, that it may please me the more at last.

The present was my next experiment of this kind, which I purpose to describe more at length, for convenience putting the experience of two years into one. As I have said, I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up.

When first I took up my abode in the woods, that is, began to spend my nights as well as days there, which, by accident, was on Independence Day, or the Fourth of July, 1845, my house was not finished for winter, but was merely a defence against the rain, without plastering or chimney, the walls being of rough, weather-stained boards, with wide chinks, which made it cool at night. The upright white hewn studs and freshly planed door and window casings gave it a clean and airy look, especially in the morning, when its timbers were saturated with dew, so that I fancied that by noon some sweet gum would exude from them. To my imagination it retained throughout the day more or less of this auroral character, reminding me of a certain house on a mountain which I had visited a year before. This was an airy and unplastered cabin, fit to entertain a travelling god, and where a goddess might trail her garments. The winds which passed over my dwelling were such as sweep over the ridges of mountains, bearing the broken strains, or celestial parts only, of terrestrial music. The morning wind forever blows, the poem of creation is uninterrupted; but few are the ears that hear it. Olympus is but the outside of the earth everywhere.

The only house I had been the owner of before, if I except a boat, was a tent, which I used occasionally when making excursions in the summer, and this is still rolled up in my garret; but the boat, after passing from hand to hand, has gone down the stream of time. With this more substantial shelter about me, I had made some progress toward settling in the world. This frame, so slightly clad, was a sort of crystallization around me, and reacted on the builder. It was suggestive somewhat as a picture in outlines. I did not need to go outdoors to take the air, for the atmosphere within had lost none of its freshness. It was not so much within doors as behind a door where I sat, even in the rainiest weather. The Harivansa says, "An abode without birds is like a meat without seasoning." Such was not my abode, for I found myself suddenly neighbor to the birds; not by having imprisoned one, but having caged myself near them. I was not only nearer to some of those which commonly frequent the garden and the orchard, but to those smaller and more thrilling songsters of the forest which never, or rarely, serenade a villager—the wood thrush, the veery, the scarlet tanager, the field sparrow, the whip-poor-will, and many others.

I was seated by the shore of a small pond, about a mile and a half south of the village of Concord and somewhat higher than it, in the midst of an extensive wood between that town and Lincoln, and about two miles south of that our only field known to fame, Concord Battle Ground; but I was so low in the woods that the opposite shore, half a mile off, like the rest, covered with wood, was my most distant horizon. For the first week, whenever I looked out on the pond it impressed me like a tarn high up on the side of a mountain, its bottom far above the surface of other lakes, and, as the sun arose, I saw it throwing off its nightly clothing of mist, and here and there, by degrees, its soft ripples or its smooth reflecting surface was revealed, while the mists, like ghosts, were stealthily withdrawing in every direction into the woods, as at the breaking up of some nocturnal conventicle. The very dew seemed to hang upon the trees later into the day than usual, as on the sides of mountains.

This small lake was of most value as a neighbor in the intervals of a gentle rain-storm in August, when, both air and water being perfectly still, but the sky overcast, mid-afternoon had all the serenity of evening, and the wood thrush sang around, and was heard from shore to shore. A lake like this is never smoother than at such a time; and the clear portion of the air above it being, shallow and darkened by clouds, the water, full of light and reflections, becomes a lower heaven itself so much the more important. From a hill-top near by, where the wood had been recently cut off, there was a pleasing vista southward across the pond, through a wide indentation in the hills which form the shore there, where their opposite sides sloping toward each other suggested a stream flowing out in that direction through a wooded valley, but stream there was none. That way I looked between and over the near green hills to some distant and higher ones in the horizon, tinged with blue. Indeed, by standing on tiptoe I could catch a glimpse of some of the peaks of the still bluer and more distant mountain ranges in the northwest, those true-blue coins from heaven's own mint, and also of some portion of the village. But in other directions, even from this point, I could not see over or beyond the woods which surrounded me. It is well to have some water in your neighborhood, to give buoyancy to and float the earth. One value even of the smallest well is, that when you look into it you see that earth is not continent but insular. This is as important as that it keeps butter cool. When I looked across the pond from this peak toward the Sudbury meadows, which in time of flood I distinguished elevated perhaps by a mirage in their seething valley, like a coin in a basin, all the earth beyond the pond appeared like a thin crust insulated and floated even by this small sheet of interverting water, and I was reminded that this on which I dwelt was but dry land.

Though the view from my door was still more contracted, I did not feel crowded or confined in the least. There was pasture enough for my imagination. The low shrub oak plateau to which the opposite shore arose stretched away toward the prairies of the West and the steppes of Tartary, affording ample room for all the roving families of men. "There are none happy in the world but beings who enjoy freely a vast horizon"—said Damodara, when his herds required new and larger pastures.

Both place and time were changed, and I dwelt nearer to those parts of the universe and to those eras in history which had most attracted me. Where I lived was as far off as many a region viewed nightly by astronomers. We are wont to imagine rare and delectable places in some remote and more celestial corner of the system, behind the constellation of Cassiopeia's Chair, far from noise and disturbance. I discovered that my house actually had its site in such a withdrawn, but forever new and unprofaned, part of the universe. If it were worth the while to settle in those parts near to the Pleiades or the Hyades, to Aldebaran or Altair, then I was really there, or at an equal remoteness from the life which I had left behind, dwindled and twinkling with as fine a ray to my nearest neighbor, and to be seen only in moonless nights by him. Such was that part of creation where I had squatted;

"There was a shepherd that did live,
   And held his thoughts as high
   As were the mounts whereon his flocks
   Did hourly feed him by."

What should we think of the shepherd's life if his flocks always wandered to higher pastures than his thoughts?

Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself. I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks. I got up early and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise, and one of the best things which I did. They say that characters were engraven on the bathing tub of King Tchingthang to this effect: "Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again." I can understand that. Morning brings back the heroic ages. I was as much affected by the faint hum of a mosquito making its invisible and unimaginable tour through my apartment at earliest dawn, when I was sitting with door and windows open, as I could be by any trumpet that ever sang of fame. It was Homer's requiem; itself an Iliad and Odyssey in the air, singing its own wrath and wanderings. There was something cosmical about it; a standing advertisement, till forbidden, of the everlasting vigor and fertility of the world. The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night. Little is to be expected of that day, if it can be called a day, to which we are not awakened by our Genius, but by the mechanical nudgings of some servitor, are not awakened by our own newly acquired force and aspirations from within, accompanied by the undulations of celestial music, instead of factory bells, and a fragrance filling the air—to a higher life than we fell asleep from; and thus the darkness bear its fruit, and prove itself to be good, no less than the light. That man who does not believe that each day contains an earlier, more sacred, and auroral hour than he has yet profaned, has despaired of life, and is pursuing a descending and darkening way. After a partial cessation of his sensuous life, the soul of man, or its organs rather, are reinvigorated each day, and his Genius tries again what noble life it can make. All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. The Vedas say, "All intelligences awake with the morning." Poetry and art, and the fairest and most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour. All poets and heroes, like Memnon, are the children of Aurora, and emit their music at sunrise. To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. Moral reform is the effort to throw off sleep. Why is it that men give so poor an account of their day if they have not been slumbering? They are not such poor calculators. If they had not been overcome with drowsiness, they would have performed something. The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour. If we refused, or rather used up, such paltry information as we get, the oracles would distinctly inform us how this might be done.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to "glorify God and enjoy him forever."

Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into men; like pygmies we fight with cranes; it is error upon error, and clout upon clout, and our best virtue has for its occasion a superfluous and evitable wretchedness. Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion. Our life is like a German Confederacy, made up of petty states, with its boundary forever fluctuating, so that even a German cannot tell you how it is bounded at any moment. The nation itself, with all its so-called internal improvements, which, by the way are all external and superficial, is just such an unwieldy and overgrown establishment, cluttered with furniture and tripped up by its own traps, ruined by luxury and heedless expense, by want of calculation and a worthy aim, as the million households in the land; and the only cure for it, as for them, is in a rigid economy, a stern and more than Spartan simplicity of life and elevation of purpose. It lives too fast. Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour, without a doubt, whether they do or not; but whether we should live like baboons or like men, is a little uncertain. If we do not get out sleepers, and forge rails, and devote days and nights to the work, but go to tinkering upon our lives to improve them, who will build railroads? And if railroads are not built, how shall we get to heaven in season? But if we stay at home and mind our business, who will want railroads? We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us. Did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man, an Irishman, or a Yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are covered with sand, and the cars run smoothly over them. They are sound sleepers, I assure you. And every few years a new lot is laid down and run over; so that, if some have the pleasure of riding on a rail, others have the misfortune to be ridden upon. And when they run over a man that is walking in his sleep, a supernumerary sleeper in the wrong position, and wake him up, they suddenly stop the cars, and make a hue and cry about it, as if this were an exception. I am glad to know that it takes a gang of men for every five miles to keep the sleepers down and level in their beds as it is, for this is a sign that they may sometime get up again.

Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry. Men say that a stitch in time saves nine, and so they take a thousand stitches today to save nine tomorrow. As for work, we haven't any of any consequence. We have the Saint Vitus' dance, and cannot possibly keep our heads still. If I should only give a few pulls at the parish bell-rope, as for a fire, that is, without setting the bell, there is hardly a man on his farm in the outskirts of Concord, notwithstanding that press of engagements which was his excuse so many times this morning, nor a boy, nor a woman, I might almost say, but would forsake all and follow that sound, not mainly to save property from the flames, but, if we will confess the truth, much more to see it burn, since burn it must, and we, be it known, did not set it on fire—or to see it put out, and have a hand in it, if that is done as handsomely; yes, even if it were the parish church itself. Hardly a man takes a half-hour's nap after dinner, but when he wakes he holds up his head and asks, "What's the news?" as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels. Some give directions to be waked every half-hour, doubtless for no other purpose; and then, to pay for it, they tell what they have dreamed. After a night's sleep the news is as indispensable as the breakfast. "Pray tell me anything new that has happened to a man anywhere on this globe"—and he reads it over his coffee and rolls, that a man has had his eyes gouged out this morning on the Wachito River; never dreaming the while that he lives in the dark unfathomed mammoth cave of this world, and has but the rudiment of an eye himself.

For my part, I could easily do without the post-office. I think that there are very few important communications made through it. To speak critically, I never received more than one or two letters in my life—I wrote this some years ago—that were worth the postage. The penny-post is, commonly, an institution through which you seriously offer a man that penny for his thoughts which is so often safely offered in jest. And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter—we never need read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications? To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea. Yet not a few are greedy after this gossip. There was such a rush, as I hear, the other day at one of the offices to learn the foreign news by the last arrival, that several large squares of plate glass belonging to the establishment were broken by the pressure—news which I seriously think a ready wit might write a twelve-month, or twelve years, beforehand with sufficient accuracy. As for Spain, for instance, if you know how to throw in Don Carlos and the Infanta, and Don Pedro and Seville and Granada, from time to time in the right proportions—they may have changed the names a little since I saw the papers—and serve up a bull-fight when other entertainments fail, it will be true to the letter, and give us as good an idea of the exact state or ruin of things in Spain as the most succinct and lucid reports under this head in the newspapers: and as for England, almost the last significant scrap of news from that quarter was the revolution of 1649; and if you have learned the history of her crops for an average year, you never need attend to that thing again, unless your speculations are of a merely pecuniary character. If one may judge who rarely looks into the newspapers, nothing new does ever happen in foreign parts, a French revolution not excepted.

What news! how much more important to know what that is which was never old! "Kieou-he-yu (great dignitary of the state of Wei) sent a man to Khoung-tseu to know his news. Khoung-tseu caused the messenger to be seated near him, and questioned him in these terms: What is your master doing? The messenger answered with respect: My master desires to diminish the number of his faults, but he cannot come to the end of them. The messenger being gone, the philosopher remarked: What a worthy messenger! What a worthy messenger!" The preacher, instead of vexing the ears of drowsy farmers on their day of rest at the end of the week—for Sunday is the fit conclusion of an ill-spent week, and not the fresh and brave beginning of a new one—with this one other draggle-tail of a sermon, should shout with thundering voice, "Pause! Avast! Why so seeming fast, but deadly slow?"

Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous. If men would steadily observe realities only, and not allow themselves to be deluded, life, to compare it with such things as we know, would be like a fairy tale and the Arabian Nights' Entertainments. If we respected only what is inevitable and has a right to be, music and poetry would resound along the streets. When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality. This is always exhilarating and sublime. By closing the eyes and slumbering, and consenting to be deceived by shows, men establish and confirm their daily life of routine and habit everywhere, which still is built on purely illusory foundations. Children, who play life, discern its true law and relations more clearly than men, who fail to live it worthily, but who think that they are wiser by experience, that is, by failure. I have read in a Hindoo book, that "there was a king's son, who, being expelled in infancy from his native city, was brought up by a forester, and, growing up to maturity in that state, imagined himself to belong to the barbarous race with which he lived. One of his father's ministers having discovered him, revealed to him what he was, and the misconception of his character was removed, and he knew himself to be a prince. So soul," continues the Hindoo philosopher, "from the circumstances in which it is placed, mistakes its own character, until the truth is revealed to it by some holy teacher, and then it knows itself to be Brahme." I perceive that we inhabitants of New England live this mean life that we do because our vision does not penetrate the surface of things. We think that that is which appears to be. If a man should walk through this town and see only the reality, where, think you, would the "Mill-dam" go to? If he should give us an account of the realities he beheld there, we should not recognize the place in his description. Look at a meeting-house, or a court-house, or a jail, or a shop, or a dwelling-house, and say what that thing really is before a true gaze, and they would all go to pieces in your account of them. Men esteem truth remote, in the outskirts of the system, behind the farthest star, before Adam and after the last man. In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are now and here. God himself culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages. And we are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us. The universe constantly and obediently answers to our conceptions; whether we travel fast or slow, the track is laid for us. Let us spend our lives in conceiving then. The poet or the artist never yet had so fair and noble a design but some of his posterity at least could accomplish it.

Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry—determined to make a day of it. Why should we knock under and go with the stream? Let us not be upset and overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool called a dinner, situated in the meridian shallows. Weather this danger and you are safe, for the rest of the way is down hill. With unrelaxed nerves, with morning vigor, sail by it, looking another way, tied to the mast like Ulysses. If the engine whistles, let it whistle till it is hoarse for its pains. If the bell rings, why should we run? We will consider what kind of music they are like. Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin, having a point d'appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely, or perhaps a gauge, not a Nilometer, but a Realometer, that future ages might know how deep a freshet of shams and appearances had gathered from time to time. If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimeter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business.

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. The intellect is a cleaver; it discerns and rifts its way into the secret of things. I do not wish to be any more busy with my hands than is necessary. My head is hands and feet. I feel all my best faculties concentrated in it. My instinct tells me that my head is an organ for burrowing, as some creatures use their snout and fore paws, and with it I would mine and burrow my way through these hills. I think that the richest vein is somewhere hereabouts; so by the divining-rod and thin rising vapors I judge; and here I will begin to mine.

 

我生活的地方;我为何生活

到达我们生命的某个时期,我们就习惯于把可以安家落户的地方,一个个地加以考察了。正是这样我把住所周围一二十英里内的田园统统考察一遍。我在想象中已经接二连三地买下了那儿的所有田园,因为所有的田园都得要买下来,而且我都已经摸清它们的价格了。我步行到各个农民的田地上,尝尝他的野苹果,和他谈谈稼穑,再又请他随便开个什么价钱,就照他开的价钱把它买下来,心里却想再以任何价钱把它押给他;甚至付给他一个更高的价钱,——把什么都买下来,只不过没有立契约,——而是把他的闲谈当作他的契约,我这个人原来就很爱闲谈,——我耕耘了那片田地,而且在某种程度上,我想,耕耘了他的心田,如是尝够了乐趣以后,我就扬长而去,好让他继续耕耘下去。这种经营,竟使我的朋友们当我是一个地产拍客。其实我是无论坐在哪里,都能够生活的,哪里的风景都能相应地为我而发光。家宅者,不过是一个座位,——如果这个座位是在乡间就更好些。我发现许多家宅的位置,似乎都是不容易很快加以改进的,有人会觉得它离村镇太远,但我觉得倒是村镇离它太远了点。我总说,很好,我可以在这里住下;我就在那里过一小时夏天的和冬天的生活;我看到那些岁月如何地奔驰,挨过了冬季,便迎来了新春。这一区域的未来居民,不管他们将要把房子造在哪里,都可以肯定过去就有人住过那儿了。只要一个下午就足够把田地化为果园、树林和牧场,并且决定门前应该留着哪些优美的橡树或松树,甚至于砍伐了的树也都派定了最好的用场了;然后,我就由它去啦,好比休耕了一样,一个人越是有许多事情能够放得下,他越是富有。

我的想象却跑得太远了些,我甚至想到有几处田园会拒绝我,不肯出售给我,——被拒绝正合我的心愿呢,——我从来不肯让实际的占有这类事情的伤过我的手指头。几乎已实际地占有田园那一次,是我购置霍乐威尔那个地方的时候,都已经开始选好种子,找出了木料来,打算造一架手推车,来推动这事,或载之而他往了;可是在原来的主人正要给我一纸契约之前,他的妻子——每一个男人都有一个妻子的——发生了变卦,她要保持她的田产了,他就提出赔我十元钱,解除约定。现在说句老实话,我在这个世界上只有一角钱,假设我真的有一角钱的话,或者又有田园,又有十元,或有了所有的这一切,那我这点数学知识可就无法计算清楚了。不管怎样,我退回了那十元钱,退还了那田园,因为这一次我已经做过头了,应该说,我是很慷慨的罗,我按照我买进的价格,按原价再卖了给他,更因为他并不见得富有,还送了他十元,但保留了我的一角钱和种子,以及备而未用的独轮车的木料。如此,我觉得我手面已很阔绰,而且这样做无损于我的贫困。至于那地方的风景,我却也保留住了,后来我每年都得到丰收,却不需要独轮车来载走。关于风景,——

我勘察一切,像一个皇帝,

谁也不能够否认我的权利。

我时常看到一个诗人,在欣赏了一片田园风景中的最珍贵部分之后,就扬长而去,那些固执的农夫还以为他拿走的仅只是几枚野苹果。诗人却把他的田园押上了韵脚,而且多少年之后,农夫还不知道这回事,这么一道最可羡慕的、肉眼不能见的篱笆已经把它圈了起来,还挤出了它的牛乳,去掉了奶油,把所有的奶油都拿走了,他只把去掉了奶油的奶水留给了农夫。

霍乐威尔田园的真正迷人之处,在我看是:它的遁隐之深,离开村子有两英里,离开最近的邻居有半英里,并且有一大片地把它和公路隔开了;它傍着河流,据它的主人说,由于这条河,而升起了雾,春天里就不会再下霜了,这却不在我心坎上;而且,它的田舍和棚屋带有灰暗而残败的神色,加上零落的篱笆,好似在我和先前的居民之间,隔开了多少岁月;还有那苹果树,树身已空,苔薛满布,兔子咬过,可见得我将会有什么样的一些邻舍了,但最主要的还是那一度回忆,我早年就曾经溯河而上,那时节,这些屋宇藏在密密的红色枫叶丛中,还记得我曾听到过一头家犬的吠声。我急于将它购买下来,等不及那产业主搬走那些岩石,砍伐掉那些树身已空的苹果树,铲除那些牧场中新近跃起的赤杨幼树,一句话,等不及它的任何收拾了。为了享受前述的那些优点,我决定干一下了;像那阿特拉斯一样,把世界放在我肩膀上好啦,——我从没听到过他得了哪样报酬,——我愿意做一切事:简直没有别的动机或任何推托之辞,只等付清了款子,便占有这个田园,再不受他人侵犯就行了;因为我知道我只要让这片田园自生自展,它将要生展出我所企求的最丰美的收获。但后来的结果已见上述。

所以,我所说的关于大规模的农事(至今我一直在培育着一座园林),仅仅是我已经预备好了种子。许多人认为年代越久的种子越好。我不怀疑时间是能分别好和坏的,但到最后我真正播种了,我想我大约是不至于会失望的。可是我要告诉我的伙伴们,只说这一次,以后永远不再说了:你们要尽可能长久地生活得自由,生活得并不执著才好。执迷于一座田园,和关在县政府的监狱中,简直没有分别。

老卡托——他的《乡村篇》是我的“启蒙者”,曾经说过——可惜我见到的那本唯一的译本把这一段话译得一塌糊涂,——“当你想要买下一个田园的时候,你宁可在脑中多多地想着它,可决不要贪得无厌地买下它,更不要嫌麻烦而再不去看望它,也别以为绕着它兜了一个圈子就够了。如果这是一个好田园,你去的次数越多你就越喜欢它。”我想我是不会贪得无厌地购买它的,我活多久,就去兜多久的圈子,死了之后,首先要葬在那里。这样才能使我终于更加喜欢它。

目前要写的,是我的这一类实验中其次的一个,我打算更详细地描写描写;而为了便利起见,且把这两年的经验归并为一年。我已经说过,我不预备写一首沮丧的颂歌,可是我要像黎明时站在栖木上的金鸡一样,放声啼叫,即使我这样做只不过是为了唤醒我的邻人罢了。

我第一天住在森林里,就是说,自天在那里,而且也在那里过夜的那一天,凑巧得很,是一八四五年七月四日,独立日,我的房子没有盖好,过冬还不行,只能勉强避避风雨,没有灰泥墁,没有烟囱,墙壁用的是饱经风雨的粗木板,缝隙很大,所以到晚上很是凉爽。笔直的、砍伐得来的、白色的间柱,新近才刨得平坦的门户和窗框,使屋子具有清洁和通凤的景象,特别在早晨,木料里饱和着露水的时候,总使我幻想到午间大约会有一些甜蜜的树胶从中渗出。这房间在我的想象中,一整天里还将多少保持这个早晨的情调,这使我想起了上一年我曾游览过的一个山顶上的一所房屋,这是一所空气好的、不涂灰泥的房屋,适宜于旅行的神仙在途中居住,那里还适宜于仙女走动,曳裙而过。吹过我的屋脊的风,正如那扫荡山脊而过的风,唱出断断续续的调子来,也许是天上人间的音乐片段。晨风永远在吹,创世纪的诗篇至今还没有中断;可惜听得到它的耳朵太少了。灵山只在大地的外部,处处都是。

除掉了一条小船之外,从前我曾经拥有的唯一屋宇,不过是一顶篷帐,夏天里,我偶或带了它出去郊游,这顶篷帐现在已卷了起来,放在我的阁楼里;只是那条小船,辗转经过了几个人的手,已经消隐于时间的溪流里。如今我却有了这更实际的避风雨的房屋,看来我活在这世间,已大有进步。这座屋宇虽然很单薄,却是围绕我的一种结晶了的东西,这一点立刻在建筑者心上发生了作用。它富于暗示的作用,好像绘画中的一幅素描。我不必跑出门去换空气,因为屋子里面的气氛一点儿也没有失去新鲜。坐在一扇门背后,几乎和不坐在门里面一样,便是下大雨的天气,亦如此。哈利梵萨说过:“并无鸟雀巢居的房屋像未曾调味的烧肉。”寒舍却并不如此,因为我发现我自己突然跟鸟雀做起邻居来了;但不是我捕到了一只鸟把它关起来,而是我把我自己关进了它们的邻近一只笼子里。我不仅跟那些时常飞到花园和果树园里来的鸟雀弥形亲近,而且跟那些更野性、更逗人惊诧的森林中的鸟雀亲近了起来,它们从来没有,就有也很难得,向村镇上的人民唱出良宵的雅歌的,——它们是画眉,东部鸫鸟,红色的碛鶸,野麻雀,怪鸱和许多别的鸣禽。

我坐在一个小湖的湖岸上,离开康科德村子南面约一英里半,较康科德高出些,就在市镇与林肯乡之间那片浩瀚的森林中央,也在我们的唯一著名地区,康科德战场之南的两英里地;但因为我是低伏在森林下面的,而其余的一切地区,都给森林掩盖了,所以半英里之外的湖的对岸便成了我最遥远的地平线。在第一个星期内,无论什么时候我凝望着湖水,湖给我的印象都好像山里的一泓龙潭,高高在山的一边,它的底还比别的湖沼的水平面高了不少,以至日出的时候,我看到它脱去了夜晚的雾衣,它轻柔的粼波,或它波平如镜的湖面,都渐渐地在这里那里呈现了,这时的雾,像幽灵偷偷地从每一个方向,退隐入森林中,又好像是一个夜间的秘密宗教集会散会了一样。露水后来要悬挂在林梢,悬挂在山侧,到第二天还一直不肯消失。

八月里,在轻柔的斜凤细雨暂停的时候,这小小的湖做我的邻居,最为珍贵,那时水和空气都完全平静了,天空中却密布着乌云,下午才过了一半却已具备了一切黄昏的肃穆,而画眉在四周唱歌,隔岸相闻。这样的湖,再没有比这时候更平静的了;湖上的明净的空气自然很稀薄,而且给乌云映得很黯淡了,湖水却充满了光明和倒影,成为一个下界的天空,更加值得珍视。从最近被伐木的附近一个峰顶上向南看,穿过小山间的巨大凹处,看得见隔湖的一幅愉快的图景,那凹处正好形成湖岸,那儿两座小山坡相倾斜而下,使人感觉到似有一条溪涧从山林谷中流下,但是,却没有溪涧。我是这样地从近处的绿色山峰之间和之上,远望一些蔚蓝的地平线上的远山或更高的山峰的。真的,踮起了足尖来,我可以望见西北角上更远、更蓝的山脉,这种蓝颜色是天空的染料制造厂中最真实的出品,我还可以望见村镇的一角。但是要换一个方向看的话,虽然我站得如此高,却给郁茂的树木围住,什么也看不透,看不到了。在邻近,有一些流水真好,水有浮力,地就浮在上面了。便是最小的井也有这一点值得推荐,当你窥望井底的时候,你发现大地并不是连绵的大陆;而是隔绝的孤岛。这是很重要的,正如井水之能冷藏牛油。当我的目光从这一个山顶越过湖向萨德伯里草原望过去的时候,在发大水的季节里,我觉得草原升高了,大约是蒸腾的山谷中显示出海市蜃楼的效果,它好像沉在水盆底下的一个天然铸成的铜市,湖之外的大地都好像薄薄的表皮,成了孤岛,给小小一片横亘的水波浮载着,我才被提醒,我居住的地方只不过是干燥的土地。

虽然从我的门口望出去,风景范围更狭隘,我却一点不觉得它拥挤,更无被囚禁的感觉。尽够我的想象力在那里游牧的了。矮橡树丛生的高原升起在对岸,一直向西去的大平原和鞑靼式的草原伸展开去,给所有的流浪人家一个广阔的天地。当达摩达拉的牛羊群需要更大的新牧场时,他说过,“再没有比自由地欣赏广阔的地平线的人更快活的人了。”

时间和地点都已变换,我生活在更靠近了宇宙中的这些部分,更挨紧了历史中最吸引我的那些时代。我生活的地方遥远得跟天文家每晚观察的太空一样,我们惯于幻想,在天体的更远更僻的一角,有着更稀罕、更愉快的地方,在仙后星座的椅子形状的后面,远远地离了嚣闹和骚扰。我发现我的房屋位置正是这样一个遁隐之处,它是终古常新的没有受到污染的宇宙一部分。如果说,居住在这些部分,更靠近昴星团或毕星团,牵牛星座或天鹰星座更加值得的话,那末,我真正是住在那些地方的,至少是,就跟那些星座一样远离我抛在后面的人世,那些闪闪的小光,那些柔美的光线,传给我最近的邻居,只有在没有月亮的夜间才能够看得到。我所居住的便是创造物中那部分;——

曾有个牧羊人活在世上,

他的思想有高山那样

崇高,在那里他的羊群

每小时都给与他营养。如果牧羊人的羊群老是走到比他的思想还要高的牧场上,我们会觉得他的生活是怎样的呢?

每一个早晨都是一个愉快的邀请,使得我的生活跟大自然自己同样地简单,也许我可以说,同样地纯洁无暇。我向曙光顶礼,忠诚如同希腊人。我起身很早,在湖中洗澡;这是个宗教意味的运动,我所做到的最好的一件事。据说在成汤王的浴盆上就刻着这样的字:“苟日新,日日新,又日新。”我懂得这个道理。黎明带国来了英雄时代。在最早的黎明中,我坐着,门窗大开,一只看不到也想象不到的蚊虫在我的房中飞,它那微弱的吟声都能感动我,就像我听到了宣扬美名的金属喇叭声一样。这是荷马的一首安魂曲,空中的《伊利亚特》和《奥德赛》,歌唱着它的愤怒与漂泊。此中大有宇宙本体之感;宣告着世界的无穷精力与生生不息,直到它被禁。黎明啊,一天之中最值得纪念的时节,是觉醒的时辰。那时候,我们的昏沉欲睡的感觉是最少的了;至少可有一小时之久,整日夜昏昏沉沉的官能大都要清醒起来。但是,如果我们并不是给我们自己的禀赋所唤醒,而是给什么仆人机械地用肘子推醒的;如果并不是由我们内心的新生力量和内心的要求来唤醒我们,既没有那空中的芬香,也没有回荡的天籁的音乐,而是工厂的汽笛唤醒了我们的,——如果我们醒时,并没有比睡前有了更崇高的生命,那末这样的白天,即便能称之为白天,也不会有什么希望可言;要知道,黑暗可以产生这样的好果子,黑暗是可以证明它自己的功能并不下于白昼的。一个人如果不能相信每一天都有一个比他亵读过的更早、更神圣的曙光时辰,他一定是已经对于生命失望的了,正在摸索着一条降入黑暗去的道路。感官的生活在休息了一夜之后,人的灵魂,或者就说是人的官能吧,每天都重新精力弥漫一次,而他的禀赋又可以去试探他能完成何等崇高的生活了。可以纪念的一切事,我敢说,都在黎明时间的氛围中发生。《吠陀经》说:“一切知,俱于黎明中醒。”诗歌与艺术,人类行为中最美丽最值得纪念的事都出发于这一个时刻。所有的诗人和英雄都像曼依,那曙光之神的儿子,在日出时他播送竖琴音乐。以富于弹性的和精力充沛的思想追随着太阳步伐的人,白昼对于他便是一个永恒的黎明。这和时钟的鸣声不相干,也不用管人们是什么态度,在从事什么劳动。早晨是我醒来时内心有黎明感觉的一个时候。改良德性就是为了把昏沉的睡眠抛弃。人们如果不是在浑浑噩噩地睡觉,那为什么他们回顾每一天的时候要说得这么可怜呢?他们都是精明人嘛。如果他们没有给昏睡所征服,他们是可以干成一些事的。几百万人清醒得足以从事体力劳动,但是一百万人中,只有一个人才清醒得足以有效地服役于智慧;一亿人中,才能有一个人,生活得诗意而神圣。清醒就是生活。我还没有遇到过一个非常清醒的人。要是见到了他,我怎敢凝视他呢?

我们必须学会再苏醒,更须学会保持清醒而不再昏睡,但不能用机械的方法,而应寄托无穷的期望于黎明,就在最沉的沉睡中,黎明也不会抛弃我们的。我没有看到过更使人振奋的事实了,人类无疑是有能力来有意识地提高他自己的生命的。能画出某一张画,雕塑出某一个肖像,美化某几个对象,是很了不起的;但更加荣耀的事是能够塑造或画出那种氛围与媒介来,从中能使我们发现,而且能使我们正当地有所为。能影响当代的本质的,是最高的艺术。每人都应该把最崇高的和紧急时刻内他所考虑到的做到,使他的生命配得上他所想的,甚至小节上也配得上。如果我们拒绝了,或者说虚耗了我们得到的这一点微不足道的思想,神示自会清清楚楚地把如何做到这一点告诉我们的。

我到林中去,因为我希望谨慎地生活,只面对生活的基本事实,看看我是否学得到生活要教育我的东西,免得到了临死的时候,才发现我根本就没有生活过。我不希望度过非生活的生活,生活是这样的可爱;我却也不愿意去修行过隐逸的生活,除非是万不得已。我要生活得深深地把生命的精髓都吸到,要生活得稳稳当当,生活得斯巴达式的,以便根除一切非生活的东西,划出一块刈割的面积来,细细地刈割或修剪,把生活压缩到一个角隅里去,把它缩小到最低的条件中,如果它被证明是卑微的,那末就把那真正的卑微全部认识到,并把它的卑微之处公布于世界;或者,如果它是崇高的,就用切身的经历来体会它,在我下一次远游时,也可以作出一个真实的报道。因为,我看,大多数人还确定不了他们的生活是属于魔鬼的,还是属于上帝的呢,然而又多少有点轻率地下了判断,认为人生的主要目标是“归荣耀于神,并永远从神那里得到喜悦”。

然而我们依然生活得卑微,像蚂蚁;虽然神话告诉我们说,我们早已经变成人了;像小人国里的人,我们和长脖子仙鹤作战;这真是错误之上加错误,脏抹布之上更抹脏:我们最优美的德性在这里成了多余的本可避免的劫数。我们的生活在琐碎之中消耗掉了。一个老实的人除十指之外,便用不着更大的数字了,在特殊情况下也顶多加上十个足趾,其余不妨笼而统之。简单,简单,简单啊!我说,最好你的事只两件或三件,不要一百件或一千件;不必计算一百万,半打不是够计算了吗,总之,账目可以记在大拇指甲上就好了。在这浪涛滔天的文明生活的海洋中,一个人要生活,得经历这样的风暴和流沙和一千零一种事变,除非他纵身一跃,直下海底,不要作船位推算去安抵目的港了,那些事业成功的人,真是伟大的计算家啊。简单化,简单化!不必一天三餐,如果必要,一顿也够了;不要百道菜,五道够多了;至于别的,就在同样的比例下来减少好了。我们的生活像德意志联邦,全是小邦组成的。联邦的边界永在变动,甚至一个德国人也不能在任何时候把边界告诉你。国家是有所谓内政的改进的,实际上它全是些外表的,甚至肤浅的事务,它是这样一种不易运用的生长得臃肿庞大的机构,壅塞着家具,掉进自己设置的陷阱,给奢侈和挥霍毁坏完了,因为它没有计算,也没有崇高的目标,好比地面上的一百万户人家一样;对于这种情况,和对于他们一样,惟一的医疗办法是一种严峻的经济学,一种严峻得更甚于斯巴达人的简单的生活,并提高生活的目标。生活现在是太放荡了。人们以为国家必须有商业,必须把冰块出口,还要用电报来说话,还要一小时驰奔三十英里,毫不怀疑它们有没有用处;但是我们应该生活得像狒狒呢,还是像人,这一点倒又确定不了。如果我们不做出枕木来,不轧制钢轨,不日夜工作,而只是笨手笨脚地对付我们的生活,来改善它们,那末谁还想修筑铁路呢?如果不造铁路,我们如何能准时赶到天堂去哪?可是,我们只要住在家里,管我们的私事,谁还需要铁路呢?我们没有来坐铁路,铁路倒乘坐了我们。你难道没有想过,铁路底下躺着的枕木是什么?每一根都是一个人,爱尔兰人,或北方佬。铁轨就铺在他们身上,他们身上又铺起了黄沙,而列车平滑地驰过他们。我告诉你,他们真是睡得熟呵。每隔几年,就换上了一批新的枕木,车辆还在上面奔驰着;如果一批人能在铁轨之上愉快地乘车经过,必然有另一批不幸的人是在下面被乘坐被压过去的。当我们奔驰过了一个梦中行路的人,一根出轨的多余的枕木,他们只得唤醒他,突然停下车子,吼叫不已,好像这是一个例外。我听到了真觉得有趣,他们每五英里路派定了一队人,要那些枕木长眠不起,并保持应有的高低,由此可见,他们有时候还是要站起来的。

为什么我们应该生活得这样匆忙,这样浪费生命呢?我们下了决心,要在饥饿以前就饿死。人们时常说,及时缝一针,可以将来少缝九针,所以现在他们缝了一千针,只是为了明天少缝九千针。说到工作,任何结果也没有,我们患了跳舞病,连脑袋都无法保住静止。如果在寺院的钟楼下,我刚拉了几下绳子,使钟声发出火警的信号来,钟声还没大响起来,在康科德附近的田园里的人,尽管今天早晨说了多少次他如何如何地忙,没有一个男人,或孩子,或女人,我敢说是会不放下工作而朝着那声音跑来的,主要不是要从火里救出财产来,如果我们说老实话,更多的还是来看火烧的,因为已经烧着了,而且这火,要知道,不是我们放的;或者是来看这场火是怎么被救灭的,要是不费什么劲,也还可以帮忙救救火;就是这样,即使教堂本身着了火也是这样。一个人吃了午饭,还只睡了半个小时的午觉,一醒来就抬起了头,问,“有什么新闻?”好像全人类在为他放哨。有人还下命令,每隔半小时唤醒他一次,无疑的是并不为什么特别的原因:然后,为报答人家起见,他谈了谈他的梦。睡了一夜之后,新闻之不可缺少,正如早饭一样的重要。“清告诉我发生在这个星球之上的任何地方的任何人的新闻,”——于是他一边喝咖啡,吃面包卷,一边读报纸,知道了这天早晨的瓦奇多河上,有一个人的眼睛被挖掉了;一点不在乎他自己就生活在这个世界的深不可测的大黑洞里,自己的眼睛里早就是没有瞳仁的了。

拿我来说,我觉得有没有邮局都无所谓。我想,只有根少的重要消息是需要邮递的。我一生之中,确切他说,至多只收到过一两封信是值得花费那邮资的——这还是我几年之前写过的一句话。通常,一便士邮资的制度,其目的是给一个人花一便士,你就可以得到他的思想了,但结果你得到的常常只是一个玩笑。我也敢说,我从来没有从报纸上读到什么值得纪念的新闻。如果我们读到某某人被抢了,或被谋杀或者死于非命了,或一幢房子烧了,或一只船沉了,或一只轮船炸了,或一条母牛在西部铁路上给撞死了,或一只疯狗死了,或冬天有了一大群蚱蜢,——我们不用再读别的了。有这么一条新闻就够了。如果你掌握了原则,何必去关心那亿万的例证及其应用呢?对于一个哲学家,这些被称为新闻的,不过是瞎扯,编辑和读者就只不过是在喝茶的长舌妇。然而不少人都贪婪地听着这种瞎扯。我听说那一天,大家这样抢啊夺啊,要到报馆去听一个最近的国际新闻,那报馆里的好几面大玻璃窗都在这样一个压力之下破碎了,——那条新闻,我严肃地想过,其实是一个有点头脑的人在十二个月之前,甚至在十二年之前,就已经可以相当准确地写好的。比如,说西班牙吧,如果你知道如何把唐卡洛斯和公主,唐彼得罗,塞维利亚和格拉纳达这些字眼时时地放进一些,放得比例适合——这些字眼,自从我读报至今,或许有了一点变化了吧,——然后,在没有什么有趣的消息时,就说说斗牛好啦,这就是真实的新闻,把西班牙的现状以及变迁都给我们详详细细地报道了,完全跟现在报纸上这个标题下的那些最简明的新闻一个样:再说英国吧,来自那个地区的最后的一条重要新闻几乎总是一六四九年的革命;如果你已经知道她的谷物每年的平均产量的历史,你也不必再去注意那些事了,除非你是要拿它来做投机生意,要赚几个钱的话。如果你能判断,谁是难得看报纸的,那末在国外实在没有发生什么新的事件,即使一场法国大革命,也不例外。

什么新闻!要知道永不衰老的事件,那才是更重要得多!蓬伯玉(卫大夫)派人到孔子那里去。孔子与之坐而问焉。曰:夫子何为?对曰:夫子欲寡其过而未能也。使者出。子曰:使乎,使乎。在一个星期过去了之后、疲倦得直瞌睡的农夫们休息的日子里,——这个星期日,真是过得糟透的一星期的适当的结尾,但决不是又一个星期的新鲜而勇敢的开始啊,——偏偏那位牧师不用这种或那种拖泥带水的冗长的宣讲来麻烦农民的耳朵,却雷霆一般地叫喊着:“停!停下!为什么看起来很快,但事实上你们却慢得要命呢?”

谎骗和谬见已被高估为最健全的真理,现实倒是荒诞不经的。如果世人只是稳健地观察现实,不允许他们自己受欺被骗,那末,用我们所知道的来譬喻,生活将好像是一篇童话,仿佛是一部《天方夜谭》了。如果我们只尊敬一切不可避免的,并有存在权利的事物,音乐和诗歌便将响彻街头。如果我们不慌不忙而且聪明,我们会认识唯有伟大而优美的事物才有永久的绝对的存在,——琐琐的恐惧与碎碎的欢喜不过是现实的阴影。现实常常是活泼而崇高的。由于闭上了眼睛,神魂颠倒,任凭自己受影子的欺骗,人类才建立了他们日常生活的轨道和习惯,到处遵守它们,其实它们是建筑在纯粹幻想的基础之上的。嬉戏地生活着的儿童,反而更能发现生活的规律和真正的关系,胜过了大人,大人不能有价值地生活,还以为他们是更聪明的,因为他们有经验,这就是说,他们时常失败。我在一部印度的书中读到,“有一个王子,从小给逐出故土之城,由一个樵夫抚养成长,一直以为自己属于他生活其中的贱民阶级。他父亲手下的官员后来发现了他,把他的出身告诉了他,对他的性格的错误观念于是被消除了,他知道自己是一个王子。所以,”那印度哲学家接下来说,“由于所处环境的缘故,灵魂误解了他自己的性格,非得由神圣的教师把真相显示了给他。然后,他才知道他是婆罗门。”我看到,我们新英格兰的居民之所以过着这样低贱的生活,是因为我们的视力透不过事物表面。我们把似乎是当作了是。如果一个人能够走过这一个城镇,只看见现实,你想,“贮水池”就该是如何的下场?如果他给我们一个他所目击的现实的描写,我们都不会知道他是在描写什么地方。看看会议厅,或法庭,或监狱,或店铺,或住宅,你说,在真正凝视它们的时候,这些东西到底是什么啊,在你的描绘中,它们都纷纷倒下来了。人们尊崇迢遥疏远的真理,那在制度之外的,那在最远一颗星后面的,那在亚当以前的,那在末代以后的。自然,在永恒中是有着真理和崇高的。可是,所有这些时代,这些地方和这些场合,都是此时此地的啊!上帝之伟大就在于现在伟大,时光尽管过去,他绝不会更加神圣一点的。只有永远渗透现实,发掘围绕我们的现实,我们才能明白什么是崇高。宇宙经常顺从地适应我们的观念;不论我们走得快或慢,路轨已给我们铺好。让我们穷毕生之精力来意识它们。诗人和艺术家从未得到这样美丽而崇高的设计,然而至少他的一些后代是能完成它的。

我们如大自然一般自然地过一天吧,不要因硬壳果或掉在轨道上的蚊虫的一只翅膀而出了轨。让我们黎明即起,不用或用早餐,平静而又无不安之感;任人去人来,让钟去敲,孩子去哭,——下个决心,好好地过一天。为什么我们要投降,甚至于随波逐流呢?让我们不要卷入在于午线浅滩上的所谓午宴之类的可怕急流与旋涡,而惊惶失措。熬过了这种危险,你就平安了,以后是下山的路了。神经不要松弛,利用那黎明似的魄力,向另一个方向航行,像尤利西斯那样拴在桅杆上过活。如果汽笛啸叫了,让它叫得沙哑吧。如果钟打响了,为什么我们要奔跑呢?我们还要研究它算什么音乐?让我们定下心来工作,并用我们的脚跋涉在那些污泥似的意见、偏见、传统、谬见与表面中间,这蒙蔽全地球的淤土啊,让我们越过巴黎、伦敦、纽约、波士顿、康科德,教会与国家,诗歌,哲学与宗教,直到我们达到一个坚硬的底层,在那里的岩盘上,我们称之为现实,然后说,这就是了,不错的了,然后你可以在这个point d'appui 之上,在洪水、冰霜和火焰下面,开始在这地方建立一道城墙或一个国土,也许能安全地立起一个灯柱,或一个测量仪器,不是尼罗河水测量器了,而是测量现实的仪器,让未来的时代能知道,谎骗与虚有其表曾洪水似的积了又积,积得多么深哪。如果你直立而面对着事实,你就会看到太阳闪耀在它的两面,它好像一柄东方的短弯刀,你能感到它的甘美的锋镝正剖开你的心和骨髓,你也欢乐地愿意结束你的人间事业了。生也好,死也好,我们仅仅追求现实。如果我们真要死了,让我们听到我们喉咙中的咯咯声,感到四肢上的寒冷好了;如果我们活着,让我们干我们的事务。

时间只是我垂钓的溪。我喝溪水,喝水时候我看到它那沙底,它多么浅啊。它的汨汨的流水逝去了,可是永恒留了下来。我愿饮得更深;在天空中打鱼,天空的底层里有着石子似的星星。我不能数出“一”来。我不知道字母表上的第一个字母。我常常后悔,我不像初生时聪明了。智力是一把刀子;它看准了,就一路切开事物的秘密。我不希望我的手比所必需的忙得更多些。我的头脑是手和足。我觉得我最好的官能都集中在那里。我的本能告诉我,我的头可以挖洞,像一些动物,有的用鼻子,有的用前爪,我要用它挖掘我的洞,在这些山峰中挖掘出我的道路来。我想那最富有的矿脉就在这里的什么地方;用探寻藏金的魔杖,根据那升腾的薄雾,我要判断;在这里我要开始开矿。




Reading

With a little more deliberation in the choice of their pursuits, all men would perhaps become essentially students and observers, for certainly their nature and destiny are interesting to all alike. In accumulating property for ourselves or our posterity, in founding a family or a state, or acquiring fame even, we are mortal; but in dealing with truth we are immortal, and need fear no change nor accident. The oldest Egyptian or Hindoo philosopher raised a corner of the veil from the statue of the divinity; and still the trembling robe remains raised, and I gaze upon as fresh a glory as he did, since it was I in him that was then so bold, and it is he in me that now reviews the vision. No dust has settled on that robe; no time has elapsed since that divinity was revealed. That time which we really improve, or which is improvable, is neither past, present, nor future.

My residence was more favorable, not only to thought, but to serious reading, than a university; and though I was beyond the range of the ordinary circulating library, I had more than ever come within the influence of those books which circulate round the world, whose sentences were first written on bark, and are now merely copied from time to time on to linen paper. Says the poet Mîr Camar Uddîn Mast, "Being seated, to run through the region of the spiritual world; I have had this advantage in books. To be intoxicated by a single glass of wine; I have experienced this pleasure when I have drunk the liquor of the esoteric doctrines." I kept Homer's Iliad on my table through the summer, though I looked at his page only now and then. Incessant labor with my hands, at first, for I had my house to finish and my beans to hoe at the same time, made more study impossible. Yet I sustained myself by the prospect of such reading in future. I read one or two shallow books of travel in the intervals of my work, till that employment made me ashamed of myself, and I asked where it was then that I lived.

The student may read Homer or Æschylus in the Greek without danger of dissipation or luxuriousness, for it implies that he in some measure emulate their heroes, and consecrate morning hours to their pages. The heroic books, even if printed in the character of our mother tongue, will always be in a language dead to degenerate times; and we must laboriously seek the meaning of each word and line, conjecturing a larger sense than common use permits out of what wisdom and valor and generosity we have. The modern cheap and fertile press, with all its translations, has done little to bring us nearer to the heroic writers of antiquity. They seem as solitary, and the letter in which they are printed as rare and curious, as ever. It is worth the expense of youthful days and costly hours, if you learn only some words of an ancient language, which are raised out of the trivialness of the street, to be perpetual suggestions and provocations. It is not in vain that the farmer remembers and repeats the few Latin words which he has heard. Men sometimes speak as if the study of the classics would at length make way for more modern and practical studies; but the adventurous student will always study classics, in whatever language they may be written and however ancient they may be. For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man? They are the only oracles which are not decayed, and there are such answers to the most modern inquiry in them as Delphi and Dodona never gave. We might as well omit to study Nature because she is old. To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will task the reader more than any exercise which the customs of the day esteem. It requires a training such as the athletes underwent, the steady intention almost of the whole life to this object. Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written. It is not enough even to be able to speak the language of that nation by which they are written, for there is a memorable interval between the spoken and the written language, the language heard and the language read. The one is commonly transitory, a sound, a tongue, a dialect merely, almost brutish, and we learn it unconsciously, like the brutes, of our mothers. The other is the maturity and experience of that; if that is our mother tongue, this is our father tongue, a reserved and select expression, too significant to be heard by the ear, which we must be born again in order to speak. The crowds of men who merely spoke the Greek and Latin tongues in the Middle Ages were not entitled by the accident of birth to read the works of genius written in those languages; for these were not written in that Greek or Latin which they knew, but in the select language of literature. They had not learned the nobler dialects of Greece and Rome, but the very materials on which they were written were waste paper to them, and they prized instead a cheap contemporary literature. But when the several nations of Europe had acquired distinct though rude written languages of their own, sufficient for the purposes of their rising literatures, then first learning revived, and scholars were enabled to discern from that remoteness the treasures of antiquity. What the Roman and Grecian multitude could not hear, after the lapse of ages a few scholars read, and a few scholars only are still reading it.

However much we may admire the orator's occasional bursts of eloquence, the noblest written words are commonly as far behind or above the fleeting spoken language as the firmament with its stars is behind the clouds. There are the stars, and they who can may read them. The astronomers forever comment on and observe them. They are not exhalations like our daily colloquies and vaporous breath. What is called eloquence in the forum is commonly found to be rhetoric in the study. The orator yields to the inspiration of a transient occasion, and speaks to the mob before him, to those who can hear him; but the writer, whose more equable life is his occasion, and who would be distracted by the event and the crowd which inspire the orator, speaks to the intellect and health of mankind, to all in any age who can understand him.

No wonder that Alexander carried the Iliad with him on his expeditions in a precious casket. A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips;—not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself. The symbol of an ancient man's thought becomes a modern man's speech. Two thousand summers have imparted to the monuments of Grecian literature, as to her marbles, only a maturer golden and autumnal tint, for they have carried their own serene and celestial atmosphere into all lands to protect them against the corrosion of time. Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them. Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and, more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind. When the illiterate and perhaps scornful trader has earned by enterprise and industry his coveted leisure and independence, and is admitted to the circles of wealth and fashion, he turns inevitably at last to those still higher but yet inaccessible circles of intellect and genius, and is sensible only of the imperfection of his culture and the vanity and insufficiency of all his riches, and further proves his good sense by the pains which he takes to secure for his children that intellectual culture whose want he so keenly feels; and thus it is that he becomes the founder of a family.

Those who have not learned to read the ancient classics in the language in which they were written must have a very imperfect knowledge of the history of the human race; for it is remarkable that no transcript of them has ever been made into any modern tongue, unless our civilization itself may be regarded as such a transcript. Homer has never yet been printed in English, nor Æschylus, nor Virgil even—works as refined, as solidly done, and as beautiful almost as the morning itself; for later writers, say what we will of their genius, have rarely, if ever, equalled the elaborate beauty and finish and the lifelong and heroic literary labors of the ancients. They only talk of forgetting them who never knew them. It will be soon enough to forget them when we have the learning and the genius which will enable us to attend to and appreciate them. That age will be rich indeed when those relics which we call Classics, and the still older and more than classic but even less known Scriptures of the nations, shall have still further accumulated, when the Vaticans shall be filled with Vedas and Zendavestas and Bibles, with Homers and Dantes and Shakespeares, and all the centuries to come shall have successively deposited their trophies in the forum of the world. By such a pile we may hope to scale heaven at last.

The works of the great poets have never yet been read by mankind, for only great poets can read them. They have only been read as the multitude read the stars, at most astrologically, not astronomically. Most men have learned to read to serve a paltry convenience, as they have learned to cipher in order to keep accounts and not be cheated in trade; but of reading as a noble intellectual exercise they know little or nothing; yet this only is reading, in a high sense, not that which lulls us as a luxury and suffers the nobler faculties to sleep the while, but what we have to stand on tip-toe to read and devote our most alert and wakeful hours to.

I think that having learned our letters we should read the best that is in literature, and not be forever repeating our a-b-abs, and words of one syllable, in the fourth or fifth classes, sitting on the lowest and foremost form all our lives. Most men are satisfied if they read or hear read, and perchance have been convicted by the wisdom of one good book, the Bible, and for the rest of their lives vegetate and dissipate their faculties in what is called easy reading. There is a work in several volumes in our Circulating Library entitled "Little Reading," which I thought referred to a town of that name which I had not been to. There are those who, like cormorants and ostriches, can digest all sorts of this, even after the fullest dinner of meats and vegetables, for they suffer nothing to be wasted. If others are the machines to provide this provender, they are the machines to read it. They read the nine thousandth tale about Zebulon and Sophronia, and how they loved as none had ever loved before, and neither did the course of their true love run smooth—at any rate, how it did run and stumble, and get up again and go on! how some poor unfortunate got up on to a steeple, who had better never have gone up as far as the belfry; and then, having needlessly got him up there, the happy novelist rings the bell for all the world to come together and hear, O dear! how he did get down again! For my part, I think that they had better metamorphose all such aspiring heroes of universal noveldom into man weather-cocks, as they used to put heroes among the constellations, and let them swing round there till they are rusty, and not come down at all to bother honest men with their pranks. The next time the novelist rings the bell I will not stir though the meeting-house burn down. "The Skip of the Tip-Toe-Hop, a Romance of the Middle Ages, by the celebrated author of 'Tittle-Tol-Tan,' to appear in monthly parts; a great rush; don't all come together." All this they read with saucer eyes, and erect and primitive curiosity, and with unwearied gizzard, whose corrugations even yet need no sharpening, just as some little four-year-old bencher his two-cent gilt-covered edition of Cinderella—without any improvement, that I can see, in the pronunciation, or accent, or emphasis, or any more skill in extracting or inserting the moral. The result is dulness of sight, a stagnation of the vital circulations, and a general deliquium and sloughing off of all the intellectual faculties. This sort of gingerbread is baked daily and more sedulously than pure wheat or rye-and-Indian in almost every oven, and finds a surer market.

The best books are not read even by those who are called good readers. What does our Concord culture amount to? There is in this town, with a very few exceptions, no taste for the best or for very good books even in English literature, whose words all can read and spell. Even the college-bred and so-called liberally educated men here and elsewhere have really little or no acquaintance with the English classics; and as for the recorded wisdom of mankind, the ancient classics and Bibles, which are accessible to all who will know of them, there are the feeblest efforts anywhere made to become acquainted with them. I know a woodchopper, of middle age, who takes a French paper, not for news as he says, for he is above that, but to "keep himself in practice," he being a Canadian by birth; and when I ask him what he considers the best thing he can do in this world, he says, beside this, to keep up and add to his English. This is about as much as the college-bred generally do or aspire to do, and they take an English paper for the purpose. One who has just come from reading perhaps one of the best English books will find how many with whom he can converse about it? Or suppose he comes from reading a Greek or Latin classic in the original, whose praises are familiar even to the so-called illiterate; he will find nobody at all to speak to, but must keep silence about it. Indeed, there is hardly the professor in our colleges, who, if he has mastered the difficulties of the language, has proportionally mastered the difficulties of the wit and poetry of a Greek poet, and has any sympathy to impart to the alert and heroic reader; and as for the sacred Scriptures, or Bibles of mankind, who in this town can tell me even their titles? Most men do not know that any nation but the Hebrews have had a scripture. A man, any man, will go considerably out of his way to pick up a silver dollar; but here are golden words, which the wisest men of antiquity have uttered, and whose worth the wise of every succeeding age have assured us of;—and yet we learn to read only as far as Easy Reading, the primers and class-books, and when we leave school, the "Little Reading," and story-books, which are for boys and beginners; and our reading, our conversation and thinking, are all on a very low level, worthy only of pygmies and manikins.

I aspire to be acquainted with wiser men than this our Concord soil has produced, whose names are hardly known here. Or shall I hear the name of Plato and never read his book? As if Plato were my townsman and I never saw him—my next neighbor and I never heard him speak or attended to the wisdom of his words. But how actually is it? His Dialogues, which contain what was immortal in him, lie on the next shelf, and yet I never read them. We are underbred and low-lived and illiterate; and in this respect I confess I do not make any very broad distinction between the illiterateness of my townsman who cannot read at all and the illiterateness of him who has learned to read only what is for children and feeble intellects. We should be as good as the worthies of antiquity, but partly by first knowing how good they were. We are a race of tit-men, and soar but little higher in our intellectual flights than the columns of the daily paper.

It is not all books that are as dull as their readers. There are probably words addressed to our condition exactly, which, if we could really hear and understand, would be more salutary than the morning or the spring to our lives, and possibly put a new aspect on the face of things for us. How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book! The book exists for us, perchance, which will explain our miracles and reveal new ones. The at present unutterable things we may find somewhere uttered. These same questions that disturb and puzzle and confound us have in their turn occurred to all the wise men; not one has been omitted; and each has answered them, according to his ability, by his words and his life. Moreover, with wisdom we shall learn liberality. The solitary hired man on a farm in the outskirts of Concord, who has had his second birth and peculiar religious experience, and is driven as he believes into the silent gravity and exclusiveness by his faith, may think it is not true; but Zoroaster, thousands of years ago, travelled the same road and had the same experience; but he, being wise, knew it to be universal, and treated his neighbors accordingly, and is even said to have invented and established worship among men. Let him humbly commune with Zoroaster then, and through the liberalizing influence of all the worthies, with Jesus Christ himself, and let "our church" go by the board.

We boast that we belong to the Nineteenth Century and are making the most rapid strides of any nation. But consider how little this village does for its own culture. I do not wish to flatter my townsmen, nor to be flattered by them, for that will not advance either of us. We need to be provoked—goaded like oxen, as we are, into a trot. We have a comparatively decent system of common schools, schools for infants only; but excepting the half-starved Lyceum in the winter, and latterly the puny beginning of a library suggested by the State, no school for ourselves. We spend more on almost any article of bodily aliment or ailment than on our mental aliment. It is time that we had uncommon schools, that we did not leave off our education when we begin to be men and women. It is time that villages were universities, and their elder inhabitants the fellows of universities, with leisure—if they are, indeed, so well off—to pursue liberal studies the rest of their lives. Shall the world be confined to one Paris or one Oxford forever? Cannot students be boarded here and get a liberal education under the skies of Concord? Can we not hire some Abelard to lecture to us? Alas! what with foddering the cattle and tending the store, we are kept from school too long, and our education is sadly neglected. In this country, the village should in some respects take the place of the nobleman of Europe. It should be the patron of the fine arts. It is rich enough. It wants only the magnanimity and refinement. It can spend money enough on such things as farmers and traders value, but it is thought Utopian to propose spending money for things which more intelligent men know to be of far more worth. This town has spent seventeen thousand dollars on a town-house, thank fortune or politics, but probably it will not spend so much on living wit, the true meat to put into that shell, in a hundred years. The one hundred and twenty-five dollars annually subscribed for a Lyceum in the winter is better spent than any other equal sum raised in the town. If we live in the Nineteenth Century, why should we not enjoy the advantages which the Nineteenth Century offers? Why should our life be in any respect provincial? If we will read newspapers, why not skip the gossip of Boston and take the best newspaper in the world at once?—not be sucking the pap of "neutral family" papers, or browsing "Olive Branches" here in New England. Let the reports of all the learned societies come to us, and we will see if they know anything. Why should we leave it to Harper & Brothers and Redding & Co. to select our reading? As the nobleman of cultivated taste surrounds himself with whatever conduces to his culture—genius—learning—wit—books— paintings—statuary—music—philosophical instruments, and the like; so let the village do—not stop short at a pedagogue, a parson, a sexton, a parish library, and three selectmen, because our Pilgrim forefathers got through a cold winter once on a bleak rock with these. To act collectively is according to the spirit of our institutions; and I am confident that, as our circumstances are more flourishing, our means are greater than the nobleman's. New England can hire all the wise men in the world to come and teach her, and board them round the while, and not be provincial at all. That is the uncommon school we want. Instead of noblemen, let us have noble villages of men. If it is necessary, omit one bridge over the river, go round a little there, and throw one arch at least over the darker gulf of ignorance which surrounds us.

 

阅 读

如果更审慎地选择自己追逐的职业,所有的人也许都愿意主要做学生兼观察家,因为两者的性质和命运对所有的人都一样地饶有兴味。为我们自己和后代积累财富,成家或建国,甚或沽名钓誉,在这些方面我们都是凡人;可是在研究真理之时、我们便不朽了,也不必害怕变化或遭到意外了。最古的埃及哲学家和印度哲学家从神像上曳起了轻纱一角;这微颤着的袍子,现在仍是撩起的,我望见它跟当初一样的鲜艳荣耀,因为当初如此勇敢的,是他的体内的“我”,而现在重新瞻仰着那个形象的是我体内的“他”。袍子上没有一点微尘;自从这神圣被显示以来,时间并没有逝去。我们真正地改良了的,或者是可以改良的时间,既不是过去,又不是现在,也不是未来呵。

我的木屋,比起一个大学来,不仅更宜于思想,还更宜于严肃地阅读;虽然我借阅的书在一般图书馆的流通范围之外,我却比以往更多地接受到那些流通全世界的书本的影响,那些书先前是写在树皮上的,如今只是时而抄在布纹纸上。诗人密尔·喀玛.乌亭.玛斯脱说,“要坐着,而能驰骋在精神世界的领域内;这种益处我得自书本。一杯酒就陶醉;当我喝下了秘传教义的芳洌琼浆时,我也经历过这样的愉快。”整个夏天,我把荷马的《伊利亚特》放在桌上,虽然我只能间歇地翻阅他的诗页。起初,有无穷的工作在手上,我有房子要造,同时有豆子要锄,使我不可能读更多的书。但预知我未来可以读得多些,这个念头支持了我。在我的工作之余,我还读过一两本浅近的关于旅行的书,后来我自己都脸红了,我问了自己到底我是住在什么地方。

可以读荷马或埃斯库罗斯的希腊文原著的学生,决无放荡不羁或奢侈豪华的危险,因为他读了原著就会在相当程度之内仿效他们的英雄,会将他们的黎明奉献给他们的诗页。如果这些英雄的诗篇是用我们自己那种语言印刷成书的,这种语言在我们这种品德败坏的时代也已变成死文字了;所以我们必须辛辛昔苦地找出每一行诗每一个字的原意来,尽我们所有的智力、勇武与气量,来寻思它们的原意,要比通常应用时寻求更深更广的原来意义。近代那些廉价而多产的印刷所,出版了那么多的翻译本,却并没有使得我们更接近那些古代的英雄作家。他们还很寂寞,他们的文字依然被印得稀罕而怪异。那是很值得的,花费那些少年的岁月,那些值得珍惜的光阴,来学会一种古代文字,即使只学会了几个字,它们却是从街头巷尾的琐碎平凡之中被提炼出来的语言,是永久的暗示,具有永恒的激发力量。有的老农听到一些拉丁语警句,记在心上,时常说起它们,不是没有用处的。有些人说过,古典作品的研究最后好像会让位给一些更现代化、更实用的研究;但是,有进取心的学生还是会时常去研究古典作品的,不管它们是用什么文字写的,也不管它们如何地古老。因为古典作品如果不是最崇高的人类思想的记录,那又是什么呢?它们是唯一的,不朽的神示卜辞。便是求神问卜于台尔菲和多多那,也都得不到的,近代的一些求问的回答,在 古典作品中却能找到。我们甚至还不消研究大自然,因为她已经老了。读得好书,就是说,在真实的精神中读真实的书,是一种崇高的训练,这花费一个人的力气,超过举世公认的种种训练。这需要一种训练,像竞技家必须经受的一样,要不变初衷,终身努力。书本是谨慎地,含蓄地写作的,也应该谨慎地,含蓄地阅读。本书所著写的那一国的文字,就算你能说它,也还是不够的,因为口语与文字有着值得注意的不同,一种是听的文字,另一种是阅读的文字。一种通常是变化多端的,声音或舌音,只是一种土话,几乎可以说是很野蛮的,我们可以像野蛮人一样从母亲那里不知不觉地学会的。另一种却是前一种的成熟形态与经验的凝集;如果前一种是母亲的舌音,这一种便是我们的父亲的舌音,是一些经过洗炼的表达方式,它的意义不是耳朵所能听到的,我们必须重新诞生一次,才能学会说它。中世纪的时候,有多少人,能够说希腊语与拉丁语,可是由于出生之地的关系而并没有资格读天才作家用这两种文字来著写的作品,因为这些作品不是用他们知道的那种希腊语和拉丁语来写的,而是用精炼的文学语言写的,他们还没有学会希腊和罗马的那种更高级的方言,那种高级方言所写的书,在他们看来就只是一堆废纸,他们重视的倒是一种廉价的当代文学。可是,当欧洲的好几个国家,得到了他们自己的语文,虽然粗浅,却很明澈,就足够他们兴起他们的文艺了,于是,最初那些学问复兴了,学者们能够从那遥远的地方辨识古代的珍藏了。罗马和希腊的群众不能倾听的作品,经过了几个世纪之后,却有少数学者在阅读它们了,而且现今也只有少数的学者还在阅读它们呢。

不管我们如何赞赏演说家有时能爆发出来的好口才,最崇高的文字还通常地是隐藏在瞬息万变的口语背后,或超越在它之上的,仿佛繁星点点的苍穹藏在浮云后面一般。那里有众星,凡能观察者都可以阅读它们。天文学家永远在解释它们,观察它们。它们可不像我们的日常谈吐和嘘气如云的呼吸。在讲台上的所谓口才,普通就是学术界的所谓修辞。演讲者在一个闪过的灵感中放纵了他的口才,向着他面前的群众,向着那些跑来倾听他的人说话;可是作家,更均衡的生活是他们的本份,那些给演讲家以灵感的社会活动以及成群的听众只会分散他们的心智,他们是广着人类的智力和心曲致辞的,向着任何年代中能够懂得他们的一切人说话的。

难怪亚历山大行军时,还要在一只宝匣中带一部《伊利亚特》了。文字是圣物中之最珍贵者。它比之别的艺术作品既跟我们更亲密,又更具有世界性。这是最接近于生活的艺术。它可以翻译成每一种文字,不但给人读,而且还吐纳在人类的唇上;不仅是表现在油画布上,或大理石上,还可以雕刻在生活自身的呼吸之中的。一个古代人思想的象征可以成为近代人的口头禅。两千个夏天已经在纪念碑似的希腊文学上,正如在希腊的大理石上面,留下了更成熟的金色的和秋收的色彩,因为他们带来了他们自己的壮丽的天体似的气氛,传到了世界各地,保护他们兔受时间剥蚀。书本是世界的珍室,多少世代与多少国土的最优良的遗产。书,最古老最好的书,很自然也很适合于放在每一个房屋的书架上。它们没有什么私事要诉说,可是,当它们启发并支持了读者,他的常识使他不能拒绝它们。它们的作者,都自然而然地,不可抗拒地成为任何一个社会中的贵族,而他们对于人类的作用还大于国王和皇帝的影响。当那目不识丁的,也许还是傲慢的商人,由于苦心经营和勤劳刻苦,挣来了闲暇以及独立,并厕身于财富与时髦的世界的时候,最后他不可避免地转向那些更高级,然而又高不可攀的智力与天才的领域,而且只会发觉自己不学无术,发觉自己的一切财富都是虚荣,不可以自满,于是便进一步地证明了他头脑清楚,他煞费心机,要给他的孩子以知识文化,这正是他敏锐地感到自己所缺少的;他就是这样成了一个家族的始祖。

没有学会阅读古典作品原文的人们对于人类史只能有一点很不完备的知识,惊人的是它们并没有一份现代语文的译本,除非说我们的文化本身便可以作为这样的一份文本的话。荷马还从没有用英文印行过,埃斯库罗斯和维吉尔也从没有,——那些作品是这样优美,这样坚实,美丽得如同黎明一样;后来的作者,不管我们如何赞美他们的才能,就有也是极少能够比得上这些古代作家的精美、完整与永生的、英雄的文艺劳动。从不认识它们的人,只叫人去忘掉它们。但当我们有了学问,有了禀赋,开始能研读它们,欣赏它们时,那些人的话,我们立刻忘掉了。当我们称为古典作品的圣物,以及比古典作品更古老,因而更少人知道的各国的经典也累积得更多时,当梵蒂冈教廷里放满了吠陀经典,波斯古经和《圣经》,放满了荷马、但丁和莎士比亚的作品,继起的世纪中能继续地把它们的战利品放在人类的公共场所时,那个世代定将更加丰富。有了这样一大堆作品,我们才能有终于攀登天堂的希望。

伟大诗人的作品人类还从未读通过呢,因为只有伟大的诗人才能读通它们。它们之被群众阅读,有如群众之阅览繁星,至多是从星象学而不是从天文学的角度阅览的。许多人学会了阅读,为的是他们的可怜的便利,好像他们学算术是为了记账,做起生意来不至于受骗;可是,阅读作为一种崇高的智力的锻炼,他们仅仅是浅涉略知,或一无所知;然而就其高级的意义来说,只有这样才叫阅读,决不是吸引我们有如奢侈品,读起来能给我们催眠,使我们的崇高的官能昏昏睡去的那种读法,我们必须踮起足尖,把我们最灵敏、最清醒的时刻,献予阅读才对。

我想,我们识字之后,我们就应该读文学作品中最好的东西,不要永远在重复a-b一ab和单音字,不要四年级五年级年年留级,不要终身坐在小学最低年级教室前排。许多人能读就满足了,或听到人家阅读就满足了,也许只领略到一本好书《圣经》的智慧,于是他们只读一些轻松的东西,让他们的官能放荡或单调地度过余生。在我们的流通图书馆里,有一部好几卷的作品叫做“小读物”,我想大约也是我没有到过的一个市镇的名字吧。有种人,像贪食的水鸭和鸵乌,能够消化一切,甚至在大吃了肉类和蔬菜都很丰盛的一顿之后也能消化,因为他们不愿意浪费。如果说别人是供给此种食物的机器,他们就是过屠门而大嚼的阅读机器。他们读了九千个关于西布伦和赛福隆尼亚的故事,他们如何相爱,从没有人这样地相爱过,而且他们的恋爱经过也不平坦,——总之是,他们如何爱,如何栽跟斗,如何再爬起来,如何再相爱!某个可怜的不幸的人如何爬上了教堂的尖顶,他最好不爬上钟楼;他既然已经毫无必要地到了尖顶上面了,那欢乐的小说家于是打起钟来,让全世界都跑拢来,听他说,啊哟,天啊!他如何又下来了!照我的看法,他们还不如把这些普遍的小说世界里往上爬的英雄人物一概变形为风信鸡人,好像他们时常把英雄放在星座之中一样,让那些风信鸡旋转不已,直到它们锈掉为止,却千万别让它们下地来胡闹,麻烦了好人们。下一回,小说家再敲钟,哪怕那公共会场烧成了平地,也休想我动弹一下。“《的-笃-咯的腾达》一部中世纪传奇,写《铁特尔-托尔-但恩》的那位著名作家所著;按月连载;连日拥挤不堪,欲购从速。”他们用盘子大的眼睛,坚定不移的原始的好奇,极好的胃纳,来读这些东西,胃的褶皱甚至也无需磨练,正好像那些四岁大的孩子们,成天坐在椅子上,看着售价两分钱的烫金封面的《灰姑娘》——据我所见,他们读后,连发音,重音,加强语气这些方面都没有进步,不必提他们对题旨的了解与应用题旨的技术了。其结果是目力衰退,一切生机凝滞,普遍颓唐,智力的官能完全像蜕皮一样蜕掉。这一类的姜汁面包,是几乎每一天从每一个烤面包的炉子里烤出来,比纯粹的面粉做的或黑麦粉和印第安玉米粉做的面包更吸引人,在市场上销路更广。

即使所谓“好读者”,也不读那些最好的书。我们康科德的文化又算得了什么呢?这个城市里,除了极少数例外的人,对于最好的书,甚至英国文学中一些很好的书,大家都觉得没有味道,虽然大家都能读英文,都拼得出英文字。甚至于这里那里的大学出身,或所谓受有自由教育的人,对英国的古典作品也知道得极少,甚至全不知道;记录人类思想的那些古代作品和《圣经》呢,谁要愿意阅读它们的话,是很容易得到这些书的,然而只有极少数人肯花功夫去接触它们。我认识一个中年樵夫,订了一份法文报,他说不是为了读新闻,他是超乎这一套之上的,他是为了“保持他的学习”,因为他生来是一个加拿大人;我就问他,他认为世上他能做的最好的是什么事,他回答说,除了这件事之外,还要继续下功夫,把他的英语弄好和提高。一般的大学毕业生所做的或想要做的就不过如此,他们订一份英文报纸就为这样的目标。假定一个人刚刚读完了一部也许是最好的英文书,你想他可以跟多少人谈论这部书呢?再假定一个人刚刚读了希腊文或拉丁文的古典作品,就是文盲也知道颂扬它的;可是他根本找不到一个可谈的人。他只能沉默。我们大学里几乎没有哪个教授,要是已经掌握了一种艰难的文字,还能以同样的比例掌握一个希腊诗人的深奥的才智与诗情,并能用同情之心来传授给那些灵敏的、有英雄气质的读者的;至于神圣的经典,人类的圣经,这里有什么人能把它们的名字告诉我呢?大多数人还不知道唯有希伯来这个民族有了一部经典。任何一个人都为了拣一块银币而费尽了心机,可是这里有黄金般的文字,古代最聪明的智者说出来的话,它们的价值是历代的聪明人向我们保证过的;——然而我们读的只不过是识字课本,初级读本和教科书,离开学校之后,只是“小读物”与孩子们和初学者看的故事书;于是,我们的读物,我们的谈话和我们的思想,水平都极低,只配得上小人国和侏儒。

我希望认识一些比康科德这片土地上出生的更要聪明的人,他们的名字在这里几乎听都没有听到过。难道我会听到柏拉图的名字而不读他的书吗?好像柏拉图是我的同乡,而我却从没有见过他,——好像是我的近邻而我却从没有听到过他说话,或听到过他的智慧的语言。可是,事实不正是这样吗?他的《对话录》包含着他不朽的见解,却躺在旁边的书架上,我还没有读过它。我们是愚昧无知、不学无术的文盲;在这方面,我要说,两种文盲之间并没有什么区别,一种是完全目不识丁的市民,另一种是已经读书识字了,可是只读儿童读物和智力极低的读物。我们应该像古代的圣贤一样地美好,但首先要让我们知道他们的好处。我们真是一些小人物,在我们的智力的飞跃中,可怜我们只飞到比报章新闻稍高一些的地方。

并不是所有的书都像它们的读者一般愚笨的。可能,有好些话正是针对我们的境遇而说的,如果我们真正倾听了,懂得了这些话,它们之有利于我们的生活,将胜似黎明或阳春,很可能给我们一副新的面目。多少人在读了一本书之后,开始了他生活的新纪元!一本书,能解释我们的奇迹,又能启发新的奇迹,这本书就为我们而存在了。在目前,我们的说不出来的话,也许在别处已经说出来了。那些扰乱了我们,使我们疑难、困惑的问题也曾经发生在所有聪明人心上;一个问题都没有漏掉,而且每一个聪明人都回答过它们,按照各自的能力,用各自的话和各自的生活。再说,有了智慧,我们将领会慷慨的性质。在康科德郊外,有个田庄上的寂寞的雇工,他得到过第二次的诞生,获有了特殊的宗教经验,他相信自己由于他的信念的关系已经进入了沉默的庄重和排斥外物的境界,他也许会觉得我们的话是不对的;但是数千年前,琐罗亚斯德。走过了同样的历程,获有同样的经验;因为他是智慧的,知道这是普遍性的,就用相应的办法对待他的邻人,甚至据说还发明并创设了一个使人敬神的制度。那末,让他谦逊地和琐罗亚斯德精神沟通,并且在一切圣贤的自由影响下,跟耶稣基督精神沟通,然后,“让我们的教会”滚开吧。

我们夸耀说,我们属于十九世纪,同任何国家相比,我们迈着最大最快的步子。可是想想这市镇,它对自己的文化贡献何其微小。我不想谀赞我的市民同胞们,也不要他们谈赞我,因为这样一来,大家便没有进步了。应当像老牛般需要刺激——驱赶,然后才能快跑。我们有个相当像样的普通学校的制度,但只是为一般婴儿的;除了冬天有个半饥饿状态的文法学堂,最近还有了一个根据政府法令简陋地草创的图书馆,但却没有我们自己的学院。我们在肉体的疾病方面花了不少钱,精神的病害方面却没有花什么,现在已经到了时候,我们应该有不平凡的学校。我们不该让男女儿童成年后就不再受教育了。到了时候,一个个村子应该是一座座大学,老年的居民都是研究生,——如果他们

日子过得还宽裕的话,——他们应该有裕闲时间,把他们的余年放在从事自由学习上。难道世界永远只局限于一个巴黎或一个牛津?难道学生们不能寄宿在这里,在康科德的天空下受文科教育?难道我们不能请一位阿伯拉尔来给我们讲学?可叹啊!因为我们忙于养牛,开店,我们好久没有上学堂,我们的教育是可悲地荒芜了。在这个国土上,我们的城镇在某些方面应当替代欧洲贵族的地位。它应当是美术的保护者。它是很富的。它只缺少气量和优美。在农民和商人看重的事业上它肯出钱,可是要它举办一些知识界都知道是更有价值得多的事业时,它却认为那是乌托邦的梦想。感谢财富和政治,本市花了一万七千元造了市政府,但也许一百年内它不会为了生命的智慧贝壳内

的真正的肉,花这么多钱。为冬天办文法学校,每年募到一百二十五元,这笔钱比市内任何同样数目的捐款都花得更实惠。我们生活在十九世纪,为什么我们不能享受十九世纪的好处?为什么生活必须过得这样偏狭?如果我们要读报纸,为什么不越过波士顿的闲谈,立刻来订一份全世界最好的报纸呢?不要从“中立”的报纸去吮吸柔软的食物,也不要在新英格兰吃娇嫩的“橄榄枝”了。让一切有学问的社团到我们这里来报告,我们要看看他们懂不懂得些什么。为什么要让哈泼斯兄弟图书公司和里亭出版公司代替我们挑选读物?正像趣味高雅的贵族,在他的周围要结聚一些有助于他的修养的——天才——学识——机智——书籍——绘画——雕塑——音乐——哲学的工具等等;让城镇村子也这样做吧,——不要只请一个教师,一个牧师,一个司事,以为办教区图书馆,选举三个市政委员就可以到此为止了,困为我们拓荒的祖先仅有这么一点事业,却也在荒凉的岩石上挨过了严冬。集体的行为是符合我们制度的精神的:我确实相信我们的环境将更发达,我们的能力大于那些贵族们。新英格兰请得起全世界的智者,来教育她自己,让他们在这里食宿,让我们不再过乡曲的生活。这是我们所需要的不平凡的学校。我们并不要贵族,但让我们有高贵的村子。如果这是必需的,我们宁可少造一座桥,多走几步路,但在围绕着我们的黑暗的“无知深渊”上,架起至少一个圆拱来吧。




Sounds

But while we are confined to books, though the most select and classic, and read only particular written languages, which are themselves but dialects and provincial, we are in danger of forgetting the language which all things and events speak without metaphor, which alone is copious and standard. Much is published, but little printed. The rays which stream through the shutter will be no longer remembered when the shutter is wholly removed. No method nor discipline can supersede the necessity of being forever on the alert. What is a course of history or philosophy, or poetry, no matter how well selected, or the best society, or the most admirable routine of life, compared with the discipline of looking always at what is to be seen? Will you be a reader, a student merely, or a seer? Read your fate, see what is before you, and walk on into futurity.

I did not read books the first summer; I hoed beans. Nay, I often did better than this. There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hands. I love a broad margin to my life. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most part, I minded not how the hours went. The day advanced as if to light some work of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothing memorable is accomplished. Instead of singing like the birds, I silently smiled at my incessant good fortune. As the sparrow had its trill, sitting on the hickory before my door, so had I my chuckle or suppressed warble which he might hear out of my nest. My days were not days of the week, bearing the stamp of any heathen deity, nor were they minced into hours and fretted by the ticking of a clock; for I lived like the Puri Indians, of whom it is said that "for yesterday, today, and tomorrow they have only one word, and they express the variety of meaning by pointing backward for yesterday forward for tomorrow, and overhead for the passing day." This was sheer idleness to my fellow-townsmen, no doubt; but if the birds and flowers had tried me by their standard, I should not have been found wanting. A man must find his occasions in himself, it is true. The natural day is very calm, and will hardly reprove his indolence.

I had this advantage, at least, in my mode of life, over those who were obliged to look abroad for amusement, to society and the theatre, that my life itself was become my amusement and never ceased to be novel. It was a drama of many scenes and without an end. If we were always, indeed, getting our living, and regulating our lives according to the last and best mode we had learned, we should never be troubled with ennui. Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect every hour. Housework was a pleasant pastime. When my floor was dirty, I rose early, and, setting all my furniture out of doors on the grass, bed and bedstead making but one budget, dashed water on the floor, and sprinkled white sand from the pond on it, and then with a broom scrubbed it clean and white; and by the time the villagers had broken their fast the morning sun had dried my house sufficiently to allow me to move in again, and my meditations were almost uninterupted. It was pleasant to see my whole household effects out on the grass, making a little pile like a gypsy's pack, and my three-legged table, from which I did not remove the books and pen and ink, standing amid the pines and hickories. They seemed glad to get out themselves, and as if unwilling to be brought in. I was sometimes tempted to stretch an awning over them and take my seat there. It was worth the while to see the sun shine on these things, and hear the free wind blow on them; so much more interesting most familiar objects look out of doors than in the house. A bird sits on the next bough, life-everlasting grows under the table, and blackberry vines run round its legs; pine cones, chestnut burs, and strawberry leaves are strewn about. It looked as if this was the way these forms came to be transferred to our furniture, to tables, chairs, and bedsteads—because they once stood in their midst.

My house was on the side of a hill, immediately on the edge of the larger wood, in the midst of a young forest of pitch pines and hickories, and half a dozen rods from the pond, to which a narrow footpath led down the hill. In my front yard grew the strawberry, blackberry, and life-everlasting, johnswort and goldenrod, shrub oaks and sand cherry, blueberry and groundnut. Near the end of May, the sand cherry (Cerasus pumila) adorned the sides of the path with its delicate flowers arranged in umbels cylindrically about its short stems, which last, in the fall, weighed down with good-sized and handsome cherries, fell over in wreaths like rays on every side. I tasted them out of compliment to Nature, though they were scarcely palatable. The sumach (Rhus glabra) grew luxuriantly about the house, pushing up through the embankment which I had made, and growing five or six feet the first season. Its broad pinnate tropical leaf was pleasant though strange to look on. The large buds, suddenly pushing out late in the spring from dry sticks which had seemed to be dead, developed themselves as by magic into graceful green and tender boughs, an inch in diameter; and sometimes, as I sat at my window, so heedlessly did they grow and tax their weak joints, I heard a fresh and tender bough suddenly fall like a fan to the ground, when there was not a breath of air stirring, broken off by its own weight. In August, the large masses of berries, which, when in flower, had attracted many wild bees, gradually assumed their bright velvety crimson hue, and by their weight again bent down and broke the tender limbs.

As I sit at my window this summer afternoon, hawks are circling about my clearing; the tantivy of wild pigeons, flying by two and threes athwart my view, or perching restless on the white pine boughs behind my house, gives a voice to the air; a fish hawk dimples the glassy surface of the pond and brings up a fish; a mink steals out of the marsh before my door and seizes a frog by the shore; the sedge is bending under the weight of the reed-birds flitting hither and thither; and for the last half-hour I have heard the rattle of railroad cars, now dying away and then reviving like the beat of a partridge, conveying travellers from Boston to the country. For I did not live so out of the world as that boy who, as I hear, was put out to a farmer in the east part of the town, but ere long ran away and came home again, quite down at the heel and homesick. He had never seen such a dull and out-of-the-way place; the folks were all gone off; why, you couldn't even hear the whistle! I doubt if there is such a place in Massachusetts now:—

"In truth, our village has become a butt
   For one of those fleet railroad shafts, and o'er
   Our peaceful plain its soothing sound is—Concord."

The Fitchburg Railroad touches the pond about a hundred rods south of where I dwell. I usually go to the village along its causeway, and am, as it were, related to society by this link. The men on the freight trains, who go over the whole length of the road, bow to me as to an old acquaintance, they pass me so often, and apparently they take me for an employee; and so I am. I too would fain be a track-repairer somewhere in the orbit of the earth.

The whistle of the locomotive penetrates my woods summer and winter, sounding like the scream of a hawk sailing over some farmer's yard, informing me that many restless city merchants are arriving within the circle of the town, or adventurous country traders from the other side. As they come under one horizon, they shout their warning to get off the track to the other, heard sometimes through the circles of two towns. Here come your groceries, country; your rations, countrymen! Nor is there any man so independent on his farm that he can say them nay. And here's your pay for them! screams the countryman's whistle; timber like long battering-rams going twenty miles an hour against the city's walls, and chairs enough to seat all the weary and heavy-laden that dwell within them. With such huge and lumbering civility the country hands a chair to the city. All the Indian huckleberry hills are stripped, all the cranberry meadows are raked into the city. Up comes the cotton, down goes the woven cloth; up comes the silk, down goes the woollen; up come the books, but down goes the wit that writes them.

When I meet the engine with its train of cars moving off with planetary motion—or, rather, like a comet, for the beholder knows not if with that velocity and with that direction it will ever revisit this system, since its orbit does not look like a returning curve—with its steam cloud like a banner streaming behind in golden and silver wreaths, like many a downy cloud which I have seen, high in the heavens, unfolding its masses to the light—as if this traveling demigod, this cloud-compeller, would ere long take the sunset sky for the livery of his train; when I hear the iron horse make the hills echo with his snort like thunder, shaking the earth with his feet, and breathing fire and smoke from his nostrils (what kind of winged horse or fiery dragon they will put into the new Mythology I don't know), it seems as if the earth had got a race now worthy to inhabit it. If all were as it seems, and men made the elements their servants for noble ends! If the cloud that hangs over the engine were the perspiration of heroic deeds, or as beneficent as that which floats over the farmer's fields, then the elements and Nature herself would cheerfully accompany men on their errands and be their escort.

I watch the passage of the morning cars with the same feeling that I do the rising of the sun, which is hardly more regular. Their train of clouds stretching far behind and rising higher and higher, going to heaven while the cars are going to Boston, conceals the sun for a minute and casts my distant field into the shade, a celestial train beside which the petty train of cars which hugs the earth is but the barb of the spear. The stabler of the iron horse was up early this winter morning by the light of the stars amid the mountains, to fodder and harness his steed. Fire, too, was awakened thus early to put the vital heat in him and get him off. If the enterprise were as innocent as it is early! If the snow lies deep, they strap on his snowshoes, and, with the giant plow, plow a furrow from the mountains to the seaboard, in which the cars, like a following drill-barrow, sprinkle all the restless men and floating merchandise in the country for seed. All day the fire-steed flies over the country, stopping only that his master may rest, and I am awakened by his tramp and defiant snort at midnight, when in some remote glen in the woods he fronts the elements incased in ice and snow; and he will reach his stall only with the morning star, to start once more on his travels without rest or slumber. Or perchance, at evening, I hear him in his stable blowing off the superfluous energy of the day, that he may calm his nerves and cool his liver and brain for a few hours of iron slumber. If the enterprise were as heroic and commanding as it is protracted and unwearied!

Far through unfrequented woods on the confines of towns, where once only the hunter penetrated by day, in the darkest night dart these bright saloons without the knowledge of their inhabitants; this moment stopping at some brilliant station-house in town or city, where a social crowd is gathered, the next in the Dismal Swamp, scaring the owl and fox. The startings and arrivals of the cars are now the epochs in the village day. They go and come with such regularity and precision, and their whistle can be heard so far, that the farmers set their clocks by them, and thus one well-conducted institution regulates a whole country. Have not men improved somewhat in punctuality since the railroad was invented? Do they not talk and think faster in the depot than they did in the stage-office? There is something electrifying in the atmosphere of the former place. I have been astonished at the miracles it has wrought; that some of my neighbors, who, I should have prophesied, once for all, would never get to Boston by so prompt a conveyance, are on hand when the bell rings. To do things "railroad fashion" is now the byword; and it is worth the while to be warned so often and so sincerely by any power to get off its track. There is no stopping to read the riot act, no firing over the heads of the mob, in this case. We have constructed a fate, an Atropos, that never turns aside. (Let that be the name of your engine.) Men are advertised that at a certain hour and minute these bolts will be shot toward particular points of the compass; yet it interferes with no man's business, and the children go to school on the other track. We live the steadier for it. We are all educated thus to be sons of Tell. The air is full of invisible bolts. Every path but your own is the path of fate. Keep on your own track, then.

What recommends commerce to me is its enterprise and bravery. It does not clasp its hands and pray to Jupiter. I see these men every day go about their business with more or less courage and content, doing more even than they suspect, and perchance better employed than they could have consciously devised. I am less affected by their heroism who stood up for half an hour in the front line at Buena Vista, than by the steady and cheerful valor of the men who inhabit the snowplow for their winter quarters; who have not merely the three-o'-clock-in-the-morning courage, which Bonaparte thought was the rarest, but whose courage does not go to rest so early, who go to sleep only when the storm sleeps or the sinews of their iron steed are frozen. On this morning of the Great Snow, perchance, which is still raging and chilling men's blood, I bear the muffled tone of their engine bell from out the fog bank of their chilled breath, which announces that the cars are coming, without long delay, notwithstanding the veto of a New England northeast snow-storm, and I behold the plowmen covered with snow and rime, their heads peering, above the mould-board which is turning down other than daisies and the nests of field mice, like bowlders of the Sierra Nevada, that occupy an outside place in the universe.

Commerce is unexpectedly confident and serene, alert, adventurous, and unwearied. It is very natural in its methods withal, far more so than many fantastic enterprises and sentimental experiments, and hence its singular success. I am refreshed and expanded when the freight train rattles past me, and I smell the stores which go dispensing their odors all the way from Long Wharf to Lake Champlain, reminding me of foreign parts, of coral reefs, and Indian oceans, and tropical climes, and the extent of the globe. I feel more like a citizen of the world at the sight of the palm-leaf which will cover so many flaxen New England heads the next summer, the Manilla hemp and cocoanut husks, the old junk, gunny bags, scrap iron, and rusty nails. This carload of torn sails is more legible and interesting now than if they should be wrought into paper and printed books. Who can write so graphically the history of the storms they have weathered as these rents have done? They are proof-sheets which need no correction. Here goes lumber from the Maine woods, which did not go out to sea in the last freshet, risen four dollars on the thousand because of what did go out or was split up; pine, spruce, cedar—first, second, third, and fourth qualities, so lately all of one quality, to wave over the bear, and moose, and caribou. Next rolls Thomaston lime, a prime lot, which will get far among the hills before it gets slacked. These rags in bales, of all hues and qualities, the lowest condition to which cotton and linen descend, the final result of dress—of patterns which are now no longer cried up, unless it be in Milwaukee, as those splendid articles, English, French, or American prints, ginghams, muslins, etc., gathered from all quarters both of fashion and poverty, going to become paper of one color or a few shades only, on which, forsooth, will be written tales of real life, high and low, and founded on fact! This closed car smells of salt fish, the strong New England and commercial scent, reminding me of the Grand Banks and the fisheries. Who has not seen a salt fish, thoroughly cured for this world, so that nothing can spoil it, and putting the perseverance of the saints to the blush? with which you may sweep or pave the streets, and split your kindlings, and the teamster shelter himself and his lading against sun, wind, and rain behind it—and the trader, as a Concord trader once did, hang it up by his door for a sign when he commences business, until at last his oldest customer cannot tell surely whether it be animal, vegetable, or mineral, and yet it shall be as pure as a snowflake, and if it be put into a pot and boiled, will come out an excellent dun-fish for a Saturday's dinner. Next Spanish hides, with the tails still preserving their twist and the angle of elevation they had when the oxen that wore them were careering over the pampas of the Spanish Main—a type of all obstinacy, and evincing how almost hopeless and incurable are all constitutional vices. I confess, that practically speaking, when I have learned a man's real disposition, I have no hopes of changing it for the better or worse in this state of existence. As the Orientals say, "A cur's tail may be warmed, and pressed, and bound round with ligatures, and after a twelve years' labor bestowed upon it, still it will retain its natural form." The only effectual cure for such inveteracies as these tails exhibit is to make glue of them, which I believe is what is usually done with them, and then they will stay put and stick. Here is a hogshead of molasses or of brandy directed to John Smith, Cuttingsville, Vermont, some trader among the Green Mountains, who imports for the farmers near his clearing, and now perchance stands over his bulkhead and thinks of the last arrivals on the coast, how they may affect the price for him, telling his customers this moment, as he has told them twenty times before this morning, that he expects some by the next train of prime quality. It is advertised in the Cuttingsville Times.

While these things go up other things come down. Warned by the whizzing sound, I look up from my book and see some tall pine, hewn on far northern hills, which has winged its way over the Green Mountains and the Connecticut, shot like an arrow through the township within ten minutes, and scarce another eye beholds it; going

"to be the mast of some great ammiral."  

And hark! here comes the cattle-train bearing the cattle of a thousand hills, sheepcots, stables, and cow-yards in the air, drovers with their sticks, and shepherd boys in the midst of their flocks, all but the mountain pastures, whirled along like leaves blown from the mountains by the September gales. The air is filled with the bleating of calves and sheep, and the hustling of oxen, as if a pastoral valley were going by. When the old bell-wether at the head rattles his bell, the mountains do indeed skip like rams and the little hills like lambs. A carload of drovers, too, in the midst, on a level with their droves now, their vocation gone, but still clinging to their useless sticks as their badge of office. But their dogs, where are they? It is a stampede to them; they are quite thrown out; they have lost the scent. Methinks I hear them barking behind the Peterboro' Hills, or panting up the western slope of the Green Mountains. They will not be in at the death. Their vocation, too, is gone. Their fidelity and sagacity are below par now. They will slink back to their kennels in disgrace, or perchance run wild and strike a league with the wolf and the fox. So is your pastoral life whirled past and away. But the bell rings, and I must get off the track and let the cars go by;—

What's the railroad to me?
   I never go to see
   Where it ends.
   It fills a few hollows,
   And makes banks for the swallows,
   It sets the sand a-blowing,
   And the blackberries a-growing,

but I cross it like a cart-path in the woods. I will not have my eyes put out and my ears spoiled by its smoke and steam and hissing.

Now that the cars are gone by and all the restless world with them, and the fishes in the pond no longer feel their rumbling, I am more alone than ever. For the rest of the long afternoon, perhaps, my meditations are interrupted only by the faint rattle of a carriage or team along the distant highway.

Sometimes, on Sundays, I heard the bells, the Lincoln, Acton, Bedford, or Concord bell, when the wind was favorable, a faint, sweet, and, as it were, natural melody, worth importing into the wilderness. At a sufficient distance over the woods this sound acquires a certain vibratory hum, as if the pine needles in the horizon were the strings of a harp which it swept. All sound heard at the greatest possible distance produces one and the same effect, a vibration of the universal lyre, just as the intervening atmosphere makes a distant ridge of earth interesting to our eyes by the azure tint it imparts to it. There came to me in this case a melody which the air had strained, and which had conversed with every leaf and needle of the wood, that portion of the sound which the elements had taken up and modulated and echoed from vale to vale. The echo is, to some extent, an original sound, and therein is the magic and charm of it. It is not merely a repetition of what was worth repeating in the bell, but partly the voice of the wood; the same trivial words and notes sung by a wood-nymph.

At evening, the distant lowing of some cow in the horizon beyond the woods sounded sweet and melodious, and at first I would mistake it for the voices of certain minstrels by whom I was sometimes serenaded, who might be straying over hill and dale; but soon I was not unpleasantly disappointed when it was prolonged into the cheap and natural music of the cow. I do not mean to be satirical, but to express my appreciation of those youths' singing, when I state that I perceived clearly that it was akin to the music of the cow, and they were at length one articulation of Nature.

Regularly at half-past seven, in one part of the summer, after the evening train had gone by, the whip-poor-wills chanted their vespers for half an hour, sitting on a stump by my door, or upon the ridge-pole of the house. They would begin to sing almost with as much precision as a clock, within five minutes of a particular time, referred to the setting of the sun, every evening. I had a rare opportunity to become acquainted with their habits. Sometimes I heard four or five at once in different parts of the wood, by accident one a bar behind another, and so near me that I distinguished not only the cluck after each note, but often that singular buzzing sound like a fly in a spider's web, only proportionally louder. Sometimes one would circle round and round me in the woods a few feet distant as if tethered by a string, when probably I was near its eggs. They sang at intervals throughout the night, and were again as musical as ever just before and about dawn.

When other birds are still, the screech owls take up the strain, like mourning women their ancient u-lu-lu. Their dismal scream is truly Ben Jonsonian. Wise midnight hags! It is no honest and blunt tu-whit tu-who of the poets, but, without jesting, a most solemn graveyard ditty, the mutual consolations of suicide lovers remembering the pangs and the delights of supernal love in the infernal groves. Yet I love to hear their wailing, their doleful responses, trilled along the woodside; reminding me sometimes of music and singing birds; as if it were the dark and tearful side of music, the regrets and sighs that would fain be sung. They are the spirits, the low spirits and melancholy forebodings, of fallen souls that once in human shape night-walked the earth and did the deeds of darkness, now expiating their sins with their wailing hymns or threnodies in the scenery of their transgressions. They give me a new sense of the variety and capacity of that nature which is our common dwelling. Oh-o-o-o-o that I never had been bor-r-r-r-n! sighs one on this side of the pond, and circles with the restlessness of despair to some new perch on the gray oaks. Then—that I never had been bor-r-r-r-n! echoes another on the farther side with tremulous sincerity, and—bor-r-r-r-n! comes faintly from far in the Lincoln woods.

I was also serenaded by a hooting owl. Near at hand you could fancy it the most melancholy sound in Nature, as if she meant by this to stereotype and make permanent in her choir the dying moans of a human being—some poor weak relic of mortality who has left hope behind, and howls like an animal, yet with human sobs, on entering the dark valley, made more awful by a certain gurgling melodiousness—I find myself beginning with the letters gl when I try to imitate it—expressive of a mind which has reached the gelatinous, mildewy stage in the mortification of all healthy and courageous thought. It reminded me of ghouls and idiots and insane howlings. But now one answers from far woods in a strain made really melodious by distance—Hoo hoo hoo, hoorer hoo; and indeed for the most part it suggested only pleasing associations, whether heard by day or night, summer or winter.

I rejoice that there are owls. Let them do the idiotic and maniacal hooting for men. It is a sound admirably suited to swamps and twilight woods which no day illustrates, suggesting a vast and undeveloped nature which men have not recognized. They represent the stark twilight and unsatisfied thoughts which all have. All day the sun has shone on the surface of some savage swamp, where the single spruce stands hung with usnea lichens, and small hawks circulate above, and the chickadee lisps amid the evergreens, and the partridge and rabbit skulk beneath; but now a more dismal and fitting day dawns, and a different race of creatures awakes to express the meaning of Nature there.

Late in the evening I heard the distant rumbling of wagons over bridges—a sound heard farther than almost any other at night—the baying of dogs, and sometimes again the lowing of some disconsolate cow in a distant barn-yard. In the mean-while all the shore rang with the trump of bullfrogs, the sturdy spirits of ancient wine-bibbers and wassailers, still unrepentant, trying to sing a catch in their Stygian lake—if the Walden nymphs will pardon the comparison, for though there are almost no weeds, there are frogs there—who would fain keep up the hilarious rules of their old festal tables, though their voices have waxed hoarse and solemnly grave, mocking at mirth, and the wine has lost its flavor, and become only liquor to distend their paunches, and sweet intoxication never comes to drown the memory of the past, but mere saturation and waterloggedness and distention. The most aldermanic, with his chin upon a heart-leaf, which serves for a napkin to his drooling chaps, under this northern shore quaffs a deep draught of the once scorned water, and passes round the cup with the ejaculation tr-r-r-oonk, tr-r-r—oonk, tr-r-r-oonk! and straightway comes over the water from some distant cove the same password repeated, where the next in seniority and girth has gulped down to his mark; and when this observance has made the circuit of the shores, then ejaculates the master of ceremonies, with satisfaction, tr-r-r-oonk! and each in his turn repeats the same down to the least distended, leakiest, and flabbiest paunched, that there be no mistake; and then the howl goes round again and again, until the sun disperses the morning mist, and only the patriarch is not under the pond, but vainly bellowing troonk from time to time, and pausing for a reply.

I am not sure that I ever heard the sound of cock-crowing from my clearing, and I thought that it might be worth the while to keep a cockerel for his music merely, as a singing bird. The note of this once wild Indian pheasant is certainly the most remarkable of any bird's, and if they could be naturalized without being domesticated, it would soon become the most famous sound in our woods, surpassing the clangor of the goose and the hooting of the owl; and then imagine the cackling of the hens to fill the pauses when their lords' clarions rested! No wonder that man added this bird to his tame stock—to say nothing of the eggs and drumsticks. To walk in a winter morning in a wood where these birds abounded, their native woods, and hear the wild cockerels crow on the trees, clear and shrill for miles over the resounding earth, drowning the feebler notes of other birds—think of it! It would put nations on the alert. Who would not be early to rise, and rise earlier and earlier every successive day of his life, till he became unspeakably healthy, wealthy, and wise? This foreign bird's note is celebrated by the poets of all countries along with the notes of their native songsters. All climates agree with brave Chanticleer. He is more indigenous even than the natives. His health is ever good, his lungs are sound, his spirits never flag. Even the sailor on the Atlantic and Pacific is awakened by his voice; but its shrill sound never roused me from my slumbers. I kept neither dog, cat, cow, pig, nor hens, so that you would have said there was a deficiency of domestic sounds; neither the churn, nor the spinning-wheel, nor even the singing of the kettle, nor the hissing of the urn, nor children crying, to comfort one. An old-fashioned man would have lost his senses or died of ennui before this. Not even rats in the wall, for they were starved out, or rather were never baited in—only squirrels on the roof and under the floor, a whip-poor-will on the ridge-pole, a blue jay screaming beneath the window, a hare or woodchuck under the house, a screech owl or a cat owl behind it, a flock of wild geese or a laughing loon on the pond, and a fox to bark in the night. Not even a lark or an oriole, those mild plantation birds, ever visited my clearing. No cockerels to crow nor hens to cackle in the yard. No yard! but unfenced nature reaching up to your very sills. A young forest growing up under your meadows, and wild sumachs and blackberry vines breaking through into your cellar; sturdy pitch pines rubbing and creaking against the shingles for want of room, their roots reaching quite under the house. Instead of a scuttle or a blind blown off in the gale—a pine tree snapped off or torn up by the roots behind your house for fuel. Instead of no path to the front-yard gate in the Great Snow—no gate—no front-yard—and no path to the civilized world.

 

声音

但当我们局限在书本里,虽然那是最精选的,古典的作品,而且只限于读一种特殊的语文,它们本身只是口语和方言,那时我们就有危险,要忘记掉另一种语文了,那是一切事物不用譬喻地直说出来的文字,唯有它最丰富,也最标准。出版物很多,把这印出来的很少。从百叶窗缝隙中流进来的光线,在百叶窗完全打开以后,便不再被记得了。没有一种方法,也没有一种训练可以代替永远保持警觉的必要性。能够看见的,要常常去看;这样一个规律,怎能是一门历史或哲学,或不管选得多么精的诗歌所比得上的?又怎能是最好的社会,或最可羡慕的生活规律所比得上的呢?你愿意仅仅做一个读者,一个学生呢,还是愿意做一个预见者?读一读你自己的命运,看一看就在你的面前的是什么,再向未来走过去吧。

第一年夏天,我没有读书;我种豆。不,我比干这个还好。有时候,我不能把眼前的美好的时间牺牲在任何工作中,无论是脑的或手的工作。我爱给我的生命留有更多余地。有时候,在一个夏天的早晨里,照常洗过澡之后,我坐在阳光下的门前,从日出坐到正午,坐在松树,山核桃树和黄栌树中间,在没有打扰的寂寞与宁静之中,凝神沉思,那时鸟雀在四周唱歌,或默不作声地疾飞而过我的屋子,直到太阳照上我的西窗,或者远处公路上传来一些旅行者的车辆的辚辚声,提醒我时间的流逝。我在这样的季节中生长,好像玉米生长在夜间一样,这比任何手上的劳动好得不知多少了。这样做不是从我的生命中减去了时间,而是在我通常的时间里增添了许多,还超产了许多。我明白了东方人的所谓沉思以及抛开工作的意思了。大体上,虚度岁月,我不在乎。自昼在前进,仿佛只是为了照亮我的某种工作;可是刚才还是黎明,你瞧,现在已经是晚上,我并没有完成什么值得纪念的工作。我也没有像鸣禽一般地歌唱,我只静静地微笑,笑我自己幸福无涯。正像那麻雀,蹲在我门前的山核桃树上,啁啾地叫着,我也窃窃笑着,或抑制了我的啁啾之声,怕它也许从我的巢中听到了。我的一天并不是一个个星期中的一天,它没有用任何异教的神祗来命名,也没有被切碎为小时的细末子,也没有因滴答的钟声而不安;因为我喜欢像印度的普里人,据说对于他们,“代表昨天,今天和明天的是同一个字,而在表示不同的意义时,他们一面说这个字一面做手势,手指后面的算昨天,手指前面的算明天,手指头顶的便是今天。”在我的市民同胞们眼中,这纯粹是懒惰;可是,如果用飞鸟和繁花的标准来审判我的话,我想我是毫无缺点的。人必须从其自身中间找原由,这话极对。自然的日子很宁静,它也不责备他懒惰。

我的生活方式至少有这个好处,胜过那些不得不跑到外面去找娱乐、进社交界或上戏院的人,因为我的生活本身便是娱乐,而且它永远新奇。这是一个多幕剧,而且没有最后的一幕。如果我们常常能够参照我们学习到的最新最好的方式来过我们的生活和管理我们的生活,我们就绝对不会为无聊所困。只要紧紧跟住你的创造力,它就可以每一小时指示你一个新的前景。家务事是愉快的消遣。当我的地板脏了,我就很早起身,把我的一切家具搬到门外的草地上,床和床架堆成一堆,就在地板上洒上水,再洒上湖里的白沙,然后用一柄扫帚,把地板刮擦得干净雪白:等到老乡们用完他们的早点,太阳已经把我的屋子晒得够干燥,我又可以搬回去;而这中间我的沉思几乎没有中断过。这是很愉快的,看到我家里全部的家具都放在草地上,堆成一个小堆,像一个古普赛人的行李,我的三脚桌子也摆在松树和山核桃树下,上面的书本笔墨我都没有拿开。它们好像很愿意上外边来,也好像很不愿意给搬回屋里去。有时我就跃跃欲试地要在它们上面张一个帐篷,我就在那里就位。太阳晒着它们是值得一看的景致,风吹着它们是值得一听的声音,熟稔的东西在户外看到比在室内有趣得多。小鸟坐在相隔一枝的桠枝上,长生草在桌子下面生长,黑莓的藤攀住了桌子脚;松实,栗子和草莓叶子到处落满。它们的形态似乎是这样转变成为家具,成为桌子,椅子,床架的,——因为这些家具原先曾经站在它们之间。

我的房子是在一个小山的山腰,恰恰在一个较大的森林的边缘,在一个苍松和山核桃的小林子的中央,离开湖边六杆之远,有一条狭窄的小路从山腰通到湖边去。在我前面的院子里,生长着草莓,黑莓,还有长生草,狗尾草,黄花紫菀,矮橡树和野樱桃树,越橘和落花生。五月尾,野樱桃(学名Cerasus pumila)在小路两侧装点了精细的花朵,短短的花梗周围是形成伞状的花丛,到秋天里就挂起了大大的漂亮的野樱桃,一球球地垂下,像朝四面射去的光芒。它们并不好吃,但为了感谢大自然的缘故,我尝了尝它们。黄栌树(学名Rhus glabra)在屋子四周异常茂盛地生长,把我建筑的一道矮墙掀了起来,第一季就看它长了五六英尺。它的阔大的、羽状的、热带的叶子,看起来很奇怪,却很愉快。在晚春中,巨大的蓓蕾突然从仿佛已经死去的枯枝上跳了出来,魔术似的变得花枝招展了,成了温柔的青色而柔软的枝条,直径也有一英寸;有时,正当我坐在窗口,它们如此任性地生长,压弯了它们自己的脆弱的关节,我听到一枝新鲜的柔枝忽然折断了,虽然没有一丝儿风,它却给自己的重量压倒,而像一把羽扇似的落下来。在八月中,大量的浆果,曾经在开花的时候诱惑过许多野蜜蜂,也渐渐地穿上了它们的光耀的天鹅绒的彩色,也是给自己的重量压倒,终于折断了它们的柔弱的肢体。

在这一个夏天的下午,当我坐在窗口,鹰在我的林中空地盘旋,野鸽子在疾飞,三三两两地飞入我的眼帘,或者不安地栖息在我屋后的白皮松枝头,向着天空发出一个呼声;一只鱼鹰在水面上啄出一个酒涡,便叼走了一尾鱼;一只水貂偷偷地爬出了我门前的沼泽,在岸边捉到了一只青蛙;芦苇鸟在这里那里掠过,隰地莎草在它们的重压下弯倒;一连半小时,我听到铁路车辆的轧轧之声,一忽儿轻下去了,一忽儿又响起来了,像鹧鸪在扑翅膀,把旅客从波士顿装运到这乡间来。我也并没有生活在世界之外,不像那个孩子,我听说他被送到了本市东部的一个农民那里去,但待了不多久,他就逃走了,回到家里,鞋跟都磨破了,他实在想家。他从来没有见过那么沉闷和偏僻的地方;那里的人全走光了;你甚至于听不见他们的口笛声!我很怀疑,现在在马萨诸塞州不知还有没有这样的所在:

真的啊,我们的村庄变成了一个靶子,

给一支飞箭似的铁路射中,

在和平的原野上,它是康科德——协和之音。

菲茨堡铁路在我的住处之南约一百杆的地方接触到这个湖。我时常沿着它的堤路走到村里去,好像我是由这个链索和社会相联络的。货车上的人,是在全线上来回跑的,跟我打招呼,把我当作老朋友,过往次数多了,他们以为我是个雇工,我的确是个雇工。我极愿意做那地球轨道上的某一段路轨的养路工。

夏天和冬天,火车头的汽笛穿透了我的林子,好像农家的院子上面飞过的一头老鹰的尖叫声,通知我有许多焦躁不安的城市商人已经到了这个市镇的圈子里,或者是从另一个方向来到一些村中行商。它们是在同一个地平线上的,它们彼此发出警告,要别个在轨道上让开,呼唤之声有时候两个村镇都能听到。乡村啊,这里送来了你的杂货了;乡下人啊,你们的食粮!没有任何人能够独立地生活,敢于对它们道半个“不”字。于是乡下人的汽笛长啸了,这里是你们给它们的代价!像长长的攻城槌般的木料以一小时二十英里的速度,冲向我们的城墙,还有许多的椅子,城圈以内所有负担沉重的人现在有得坐了。乡村用这样巨大的木材的礼貌给城市送去了坐椅。所有印第安山间的越橘全部给采下来,所有的雪球浆果也都装进城来了。棉花上来了,纺织品下去了:丝上来了,羊毛下去了,书本上来了,可是著作书本的智力降低了。

当我遇见那火车头,带了它的一列车厢,像行星运转似的移动前进,——或者说,像一颗扫帚星,因为既然那轨道不像一个会转回来的曲线,看到它的人也就不知道在这样的速度下,向这个方向驰去的火车,会不会再回到这轨道上来,——水蒸汽像一面旗帜,形成金银色的烟圈飘浮在后面,好像我看到过的高高在天空中的一团团绒毛般的白云,一大块一大块地展开,并放下豪光来,——好像这位旅行着的怪神,吐出了云霞,快要把夕阳映照着的天空作它的列车的号衣;那时我听到铁马吼声如雷,使山谷都响起回声,它的脚步踩得土地震动,它的鼻孔喷着火和黑烟(我不知道在新的神话中,人们会收进怎样的飞马或火龙),看来好像大地终于有了一个配得上住在地球上的新的种族了。如果这一切确实像表面上看来的那样,人类控制了元素,使之服务于高贵的目标,那该多好!如果火车头上的云真是在创英雄业绩时所冒的汗,蒸汽就跟飘浮在农田上空的云一样有益,那末,元素和大自然自己都会乐意为人类服务,当人类的护卫者了。

我眺望那早车时的心情,跟我眺望日出时的一样,日出也不见得比早车更准时。火车奔向波士顿,成串的云在它后面拉长,越升越高,升上了天,片刻间把太阳遮住,把我远处的田野荫蔽了。这一串云是天上的列车,旁边那拥抱土地的小车辆,相形之下,只是一支标枪的倒钩了。在这冬天的早晨,铁马的御者起身极早,在群山间的星光底下喂草驾挽。它这么早升了火,给它内热,以便它起程赶路。要是这事既能这样早开始,又能这样无害,那才好啦!积雪深深时,它给穿上了雪鞋,用了一个巨大的铁犁,从群山中开出条路来,直到海边,而车辆像一个沟中播种器,把所有焦灼的人们和浮华的商品,当作种子飞撒在田野中。一整天,这火驹飞过田园,停下时,只为了它主人要休息。就是半夜里,我也常常给它的步伐和凶恶的哼哈声吵醒;在远处山谷的僻隐森林中,它碰到了冰雪的封锁;要在晓星底下它才能进马厩。可是既不休息,也不打盹,它立刻又上路旅行去了。有时,在黄昏中,我听到它在马厩里,放出了这一天的剩余力气,使它的神经平静下来,脏腑和脑袋也冷静了,可以打几个小时的钢铁的瞌睡。如果这事业,这样旷日持久和不知疲乏,又能这样英勇不屈而威风凛凛,那才好呵!

市镇的僻处,人迹罕到的森林,从前只在白天里猎人进入过,现在却在黑夜中,有光辉灿烂的客厅飞突而去。居住在里面的人却一无所知;此一刻它还靠在一个村镇或大城市照耀得如同白昼的车站月台上,一些社交界人士正聚集在那里,而下一刻已经在郁沉的沼泽地带,把猫头鹰和狐狸都吓跑了。列车的出站到站现在成了林中每一天的大事了。它们这样遵守时间地来来去去,而它们的汽笛声老远都听到,农夫们可以根据它来校正钟表,于是一个管理严密的机构调整了整个国家的时间。自从发明了火车,人类不是更能遵守时间了吗?在火车站上,比起以前在驿车站来,他们不是说话更快,思想不也是更敏捷了吗?火车站的气氛,好像是通上了电流似的。对于它创造的奇迹,我感到惊异;我有一些邻居,我本来会斩钉截铁他说他们不会乘这么快的交通工具到波士顿去的,现在只要钟声一响,他们就已经在月台上了。“火车式”作风,现在成为流行的口头禅;由任何有影响的机构经常提出,离开火车轨道的真心诚意的警告,那是一定要听的。这件事既不能停下车来宣读法律作为警告,也不能向群众朝天开枪。我们已经创造了一个命运,一个Atropos,这永远也不会改变。(让这做你的火车头的名称。)人们看一看广告就知道几点几十分,有几支箭要向罗盘上的哪几个方向射出;它从不干涉别人的事,在另一条轨道上,孩子们还乘坐了它去上学呢。我们因此生活得更稳定了。我们都受了教育,可以做退尔的儿子,然而空中充满了不可见的箭矢。除了你自己的道路之外,条条路都是宿命的道路。那末,走你自己的路吧。

使我钦佩于商业的,乃是它的进取心和勇敢。它并不拱手向朱庇特大神祈祷。我看到商人们每天做他们的生意,多少都是勇敢而且满足的,比他们自己所想的局面更大,也许还比他们自己计划了的更有成就。在布埃纳维斯塔的火线上,能站立半小时的英雄,我倒不觉得怎样,我还是比较佩服那些在铲雪机里过冬,坚定而又愉快的人们;他们不但具有连拿破仑也认为最难得的早上三点钟的作战勇气,他们不但到这样的时刻了都还不休息,而且还要在暴风雪睡着了之后他们才去睡,要在他们的铁马的筋骨都冻僵了之后他们才躺下。在特大风雪的黎明,风雪还在吹刮,冻结着人类的血液呢,我听到他们的火车头的被蒙住了的钟声,从那道雾濛濛的冻结了的呼吸中传来,宣告列车来了,并未误点,毫不理睬新英格兰的东北风雪的否决权,我看到那铲雪者,全身雪花和冰霜,眼睛直瞅着它的弯形铁片,而给铁片翻起来的并不仅仅是雏菊和田鼠洞,还有像内华达山上的岩石,那些在宇宙外表占了一个位置的一切东西。

商业是出乎意料地自信的,庄重的,灵敏的,进取的,而且不知疲劳的。它的一些方式都很自然,许多幻想的事业和感伤的试验都不能跟它相提并论,因此它有独到的成功。一列货车在我旁边经过之后,我感到清新,气概非凡了,我闻到了一些商品的味道,从长码头到却姆泼兰湖的一路上,商品都散发出味道来,使我联想到了外国、珊瑚礁、印度洋、热带气候和地球之大。我看到一些棕榈叶,到明年夏天,有多少新英格兰的亚麻色的头发上都要戴上它的,我又看到马尼拉的麻、椰子壳、旧绳索、黄麻袋、废铁和锈钉,这时候我更觉得自己是一个世界公民了。一车子的破帆,造成了纸,印成了书,读起来一定是更易懂、更有趣。谁能够像这些破帆这样把它们经历惊风骇浪的历史,生动地描绘下来呢?它们本身就是不需要校阅的校样。经过这里的是缅因森林中的木料,上次水涨时没有扎排到海里去,因为运出去或者锯开的那些木料的关系,每一千根涨了四元,洋松啊,针枞啊,杉木啊,——头等,二等,三等,四等,不久前还是同一个质量的林木,摇曳在熊、麋鹿和驯鹿之上。其次隆隆地经过了汤麦斯东石灰,头等货色,要运到很远的山区去,才卸下来的。至于这一袋袋的破布,各种颜色,各种质料,真是棉织品和细麻布的最悲惨的下场,衣服的最后结局,——再没有人去称赞它们的图案了,除非是在密尔沃基市,这些光耀的衣服质料,英国、法国、美国的印花布,方格布,薄纱等等,——却是从富有的,贫贱的,各方面去搜集拢来的破布头,将要变成一色的,或仅有不同深浅的纸张,说不定在纸张上会写出一些真实生活的故事,上流社会下等社会的都有,都是根据事实写的!这一辆紧闭的篷车散发出咸鱼味,强烈的新英格兰的商业味道,使我联想到大河岸和渔业了。谁没有见过一条咸鱼呢?全部都是为我们这个世界而腌了的,再没有什么东西能使它变坏了,它教一些坚韧不拔的圣人都自惭不如哩。有了咸鱼,你可以扫街,你可以铺街道,你可以劈开引火柴,躲在咸鱼后面,驴马队的夫子和他的货物也可以避太阳,避风雨了,——正如一个康科德的商人实行过的,商人可以在新店开张时把咸鱼挂在门上当招牌,一直到最后老主顾都没法说出它究竟是动物呢,还是植物或矿物时,它还是白得像雪花,如果你把它放在锅里烧开,依然还是一条美味的咸鱼,可供星期六晚上的宴会。其次是西班牙的皮革,尾巴还那样扭转,还保留着当它们在西班牙本土的草原上疾驰时的仰角,——足见是很顽固的典型,证明性格上的一切缺点是如何地没有希望而不可救药啊。实在的,在我知道了人的本性之后,我承认在目前的生存情况之下,我决不希望它能改好,或者变坏。东方人说,“一条狗尾巴可以烧,压,用带子绑,穷十二年之精力,它还是不改老样子。”对于像这些尾巴一样根深蒂固的本性,仅有一个办法,就是把它们制成胶质,我想通常就是拿它们来作这种用场的,它们才可以胶着一切。这里是一大桶糖蜜,也许是白兰地,送到佛蒙特的克丁司维尔,给约翰·史密斯先生,青山地区的商人,他是为了他住处附近的农民采办进口货的,或许现在他靠在他的船的舱壁上,想着最近装到海岸上来的一批货色将会怎样影响价格,同时告诉他的顾客,他希望下一次火车带到头等货色,这话在这个早晨以前就说过二十遍了。这已经在《克丁司维尔时报》上登过广告。

这些货物上来,另一些货物下去。我听见了那疾驰飞奔的声音,从我的书上抬起头来,看到了一些高大的洋松,那是从极北部的山上砍伐下来的,它插上翅膀飞过了青山和康涅狄格州,它箭一样地十分钟就穿过了城市,人家还没有看到它,已经

“成为一只旗舰上面的一技桅杆。”

听啊!这里来了牛车,带来了千山万壑的牛羊,空中的羊棚、马棚和牛棚啊,还有那些带了牧杖的牧者,羊群之中的牧童,什么都来了,只除了山中的草原,它们被从山上吹下来,像九月的风吹下萧萧落叶。空中充满了牛羊的咩叫之声,公牛们挤来挤去,仿佛经过的是一个放牧的山谷。当带头羊铃子震响的时候,大山真的跳跃如公羊,而小山跳跃如小羊。在中央有一列车的牧者,现在他们和被牧者一样,受到同等待遇,他们的职业已经没有了,却还死抱住牧杖,那像是他们的证章。可是他们的狗,到哪里去了呢?这对它们来说是溃散;它们完全被摈弃了;它们失去了嗅迹。我仿佛听到它们在彼得博罗山中吠叫,或者在青山的西边山坡上啉啉地走着。它们不出来参加死刑的观礼。它们也失了业。它们的忠心和智慧现在都不行了。它们丢脸地偷偷溜进他们的狗棚,也许变得狂野起来,和狼或狐狸赛了个三英里的跑。你的牧人生活就这样旋风似的过去了,消失了。可是钟响了,我必须离开轨道,让车子过去;一——-

铁路于我何有哉?

我绝不会去观看

它到达哪里为止。

它把些崖洞填满,

给燕子造了堤岸,

使黄砂遍地飞扬,

叫黑莓到处生长。可是我跨过铁路,好比我走过林中小径。我不愿意我的眼睛鼻子给它的烟和水气和咝咝声污染了。

现在车辆已经驰去,一切不安的世界也跟它远扬了,湖中的鱼不再觉得震动,我格外地孤寂起来了。悠长的下午的其余时间内,我的沉思就难得打断了,顶多远远公路上有一辆马车的微弱之音,或驴马之声。

有时,在星期日,我听到钟声:林肯,阿克顿,贝德福或康科德的钟声,在风向适合的时候,很柔微甜美,仿佛是自然的旋律,真值得飘荡入旷野。在适当距离以外的森林上空,它得到了某种震荡的轻微声浪,好像地平线上的松针是大竖琴上的弦给拨弄了一样。一切声响,在最大可能的距程之外听到时,会产生同样的效果,成为字宙七弦琴弦的微颤,这就好像极目远望时,最远的山脊,由于横亘在中的大气的缘故,会染上同样的微蓝色彩。这一次传到我这里来的钟声带来了一条给空气拉长了的旋律,在它和每一张叶子和每一枝松针寒暄过之后,它们接过了这旋律,给它转了一个调,又从一个山谷,传给了另一个山谷。回声,在某种限度内还是原来的声音,它的魔力与可爱就在此。它不仅把值得重复一遍的钟声重复,还重复了林木中的一部分声音;正是一个林中女妖所唱出的一些呢语和乐音。

黄昏中,远方的地平线上,有一些牛叫传入森林,很甜美,旋律也优雅,起先我以为是某些游唱诗人的歌喉,有些个晚上,我听到过他们唱小夜曲,他们也许正漂泊行经山谷;可是听下去,我就欣然地失望了,一拉长,原来是牛的声音,不花钱的音乐。我说,在我听来,青年人的歌声近似牛叫,我并不是讽刺,我对于他们的歌喉是很欣赏的,这两种声音,说到最后,都是天籁。

很准时,在夏天的某一部分日子里,七点半,夜车经过以后,夜鹰要唱半个小时晚祷曲,就站在我门前的树桩上,或站在屋脊梁木上。准确得跟时钟一样,每天晚上,日落以后,一个特定时间的五分钟之内,它们一定开始歌唱。真是机会难得,我摸清了它们的习惯了。有时,我听到四五只,在林中的不同地点唱起来,音调的先后偶然地相差一小节,它们跟我实在靠近,我还听得到每个音后面的咂舌之声,时常还听到一种独特的嗡嗡的声音,像一只苍蝇投入了蜘蛛网,只是那声音较响。有时,一只夜鹰在林中,距离我的周遭只有几英尺,盘旋不已,飞,飞,好像有绳子牵住了它们一样,也许因为我在它们的鸟卵近旁。整夜它们不时地唱,而在黎明前,以及黎明将近时唱得尤其富于乐感。

别的鸟雀静下来时,叫枭接了上去,像哀悼的妇人,叫出自古以来的“呜——噜——噜”这种悲哀的叫声,颇有班·琼生的诗风。夜半的智慧的女巫!这并不像一些诗人所唱的“啾——微”,“啾——胡”那么真实、呆板;不是开玩笑,它却是墓地里的哀歌,像一对自杀的情人在地狱的山林中,想起了生时恋爱的苦痛与喜悦,便互相安慰着一样。然而,我爱听它们的悲悼、阴惨的呼应,沿着树林旁边的颤声歌唱;使我时而想到音乐和鸣禽;仿佛甘心地唱尽音乐的呜咽含泪,哀伤叹息。它们是一个堕落灵魂的化身,阴郁的精神,忧愁的预兆,它们曾经有人类的形态,夜夜在大地上走动,干着黑暗的勾当,而现在在罪恶的场景中,它们悲歌着祈求赎罪。它们使我新鲜地感觉到,我们的共同住处,大自然真是变化莫测,而又能量很大。呕 —呵——呵——呵——呵——我要从没——没——没——生——嗯!湖的这一边,一只夜鹰这样叹息,在焦灼的的失望中盘旋着,最后停落在另一棵灰黑色的橡树上,于是——我要从没——没——没——生——嗯!较远的那一边另一只夜鹰颤抖地,忠诚地回答,而且,远远地从林肯的树林中,传来了一个微弱的应声——从没——没一一一没——生——嗯!

还有一只叫个不停的猫头鹰也向我唱起小夜曲来,在近处听,你可能觉得,这是大自然中最最悲惨的声音,好像它要用这种声音来凝聚人类临终的呻吟,永远将它保留在它的歌曲之中一样,——那呻吟是人类的可怜的脆弱的残息,他把希望留在后面,在进入冥府的人口处时,像动物一样嗥叫,却还含着人的啜泣声,由于某种很美的“格尔格尔”的声音,它听来尤其可怕——我发现我要模拟那声音时,我自己已经开始念出“格尔”这两个字了,——它充分表现出一个冷凝中的腐蚀的心灵状态,一切健康和勇敢的思想全都给破坏了。这使我想起了掘墓的恶鬼,白痴和狂人的嚎叫。可是现在有了一个应声,从远处的树木中传来,因为远,倒真正优美,霍——霍——霍,霍瑞霍;这中间大部分所暗示的真是只有愉快的联想,不管你听到时是在白天或黑夜,在夏季或冬季。

我觉得有猫头鹰是可喜的。让它们为人类作白痴似的狂人嚎叫。这种声音最适宜于白昼都照耀不到的沼泽与阴沉沉的森林,使人想起人类还没有发现的一个广大而未开化的天性。它可以代表绝对愚妄的晦暗与人人都有的不得满足的思想。整天,太阳曾照在一些荒野的沼泽表面,孤零零的针枞上长着地衣,小小的鹰在上空盘旋,而黑头山雀在常春藤中蹑嚅而言,松鸡、兔子则在下面躲藏着;可是现在一个更阴郁、更合适的白昼来临了,就有另外一批生物风云际会地醒来,表示了那里的大自然的意义。

夜深后,我听到了远处车辆过桥,——这声音在夜里听起来最远不过——还有犬吠声,有时又听到远远的牛棚中有一条不安静的牛在叫。同时,湖滨震荡着青蛙叫声,古代的醉鬼和宴饮者的顽固的精灵,依然不知悔过,要在他们那像冥河似的湖上唱轮唱歌,请瓦尔登湖的水妖原谅我作这样的譬喻,因为湖上虽没有芦苇,青蛙却是很多的,——它们还乐于遵循它们那古老宴席上那种嚣闹的规律,虽然它们的喉咙已经沙哑了,而且庄重起来了,它们在嘲笑欢乐,酒也失去了香味,只变成了用来灌饱它们肚子的料酒,而醺醺然的醉意再也不来淹没它们过去的回忆,它们只觉得喝饱了,肚子里水很沉重,只觉得发胀。当最高头儿的青蛙,下巴放在一张心形的叶子上,好像在垂涎的嘴巴下面挂了食巾,在北岸下喝了一口以前轻视的水酒,把酒杯传递过去,同时发出了托尔——尔——尔——龙克,托尔——尔——尔——龙克,托尔——尔——尔——龙克!的声音,立刻,从远处的水上,这口令被重复了,这是另一只青蛙,官阶稍低,凸起肚子,喝下了它那一口酒后发出来的,而当酒令沿湖巡行了一周,司酒令的青蛙满意地喊了一声托尔——尔——尔——龙克,每一只都依次传递给最没喝饱的、漏水最多的和肚子最瘪的青蛙,一切都没有错;于是酒杯又一遍遍地传递,直到太阳把朝雾驱散,这时就只有可敬的老青蛙还没有跳到湖底下去,它还不时地徒然喊出托尔龙克来,停歇着等口音。

我不清楚在林中空地上,我听过金鸡报晓没有,我觉得养一只小公鸡很有道理,只是把它当作鸣禽看待,为了听它的音乐公鸡从前是印第安野鸡,它的音乐确是所有禽帼之中最了不起的,如果能不把它们变为家禽而加以驯化的话,它的音乐可以立刻成为我们的森林中最著名的音乐,胜过鹅的叫声,猫头鹰的嚎哭;然后,你再想想老母鸡,在她们的夫君停下了号角声之后,她们的噪聒填满了停顿的时刻!难怪人类要把这一种鸟编入家禽中间去——更不用说鸡蛋和鸡腿来了。在冬天的黎明,散步在这一种禽鸟很多的林中,在它们的老林里,听野公鸡在树上啼叫出嘹亮而尖锐的声音,数里之外都能听到,大地为之震荡,一切鸟雀的微弱的声音都给压倒——你想想看!这可以使全国警戒起来,谁不会起得更早,一天天地更早,直到他健康、富足、聪明到了无法形容的程度呢?全世界诗人在赞美一些本国鸣禽的歌声的同时,都赞美过这种外国鸟的乐音。任何气候都适宜于勇武金鸡的生长,他比本上的禽鸟更土。它永远健康,肺脏永远茁壮,它的精神从未衰退过。甚至大西洋、太平洋上的水手都是一听到它的声音就起身,可是它的啼叫从没有把我从沉睡中唤醒过。狗、猫、牛、猪、母鸡这些我都没有喂养,也许你要说我缺少家畜的声音; 可是我这里也没有搅拌奶油的声音,纺车的声音,沸水的歌声,咖啡壶的咝咝声,孩子的哭声等等来安慰我,老式人会因此发疯或烦闷致死的。连墙里的耗子也没有,它们都饿死了,也许根本没有引来过,——只有松鼠在屋顶上,地板下,以及梁上的夜鹰,窗下一只蓝色的悭鸟,尖叫着,屋下一只兔子或者一只土拨鼠,屋后一只叫枭或者猫头鹰,湖上一群野鹅,或一只哗笑的潜水鸟,还有入夜吠叫的狐狸。甚至云雀或黄鹂都没有,这些柔和的候鸟从未访问过我的林居。天井里没有雄鸡啼叫也没有母鸡噪聒。根本没有天井!大自然一直延伸到你的窗口。就在你的窗下,生长了小树林,一直长到你的窗楣上。野黄栌树和黑莓的藤爬进了你的地窖;挺拔的苍松靠着又挤着木屋,因为地位不够,它们的根纠缠在屋子底下。不是疾凤刮去窗帘,而是你为了要燃料,折下屋后的松枝,或拔出树根!大雪中既没有路通到前庭的门,——没有门,——没有

前庭,——更没有路通往文明世界!




Solitude

This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore. I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself. As I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt-sleeves, though it is cool as well as cloudy and windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me. The bullfrogs trump to usher in the night, and the note of the whip-poor-will is borne on the rippling wind from over the water. Sympathy with the fluttering alder and poplar leaves almost takes away my breath; yet, like the lake, my serenity is rippled but not ruffled. These small waves raised by the evening wind are as remote from storm as the smooth reflecting surface. Though it is now dark, the wind still blows and roars in the wood, the waves still dash, and some creatures lull the rest with their notes. The repose is never complete. The wildest animals do not repose, but seek their prey now; the fox, and skunk, and rabbit, now roam the fields and woods without fear. They are Nature's watchmen—links which connect the days of animated life.

When I return to my house I find that visitors have been there and left their cards, either a bunch of flowers, or a wreath of evergreen, or a name in pencil on a yellow walnut leaf or a chip. They who come rarely to the woods take some little piece of the forest into their hands to play with by the way, which they leave, either intentionally or accidentally. One has peeled a willow wand, woven it into a ring, and dropped it on my table. I could always tell if visitors had called in my absence, either by the bended twigs or grass, or the print of their shoes, and generally of what sex or age or quality they were by some slight trace left, as a flower dropped, or a bunch of grass plucked and thrown away, even as far off as the railroad, half a mile distant, or by the lingering odor of a cigar or pipe. Nay, I was frequently notified of the passage of a traveller along the highway sixty rods off by the scent of his pipe.

There is commonly sufficient space about us. Our horizon is never quite at our elbows. The thick wood is not just at our door, nor the pond, but somewhat is always clearing, familiar and worn by us, appropriated and fenced in some way, and reclaimed from Nature. For what reason have I this vast range and circuit, some square miles of unfrequented forest, for my privacy, abandoned to me by men? My nearest neighbor is a mile distant, and no house is visible from any place but the hill-tops within half a mile of my own. I have my horizon bounded by woods all to myself; a distant view of the railroad where it touches the pond on the one hand, and of the fence which skirts the woodland road on the other. But for the most part it is as solitary where I live as on the prairies. It is as much Asia or Africa as New England. I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself. At night there was never a traveller passed my house, or knocked at my door, more than if I were the first or last man; unless it were in the spring, when at long intervals some came from the village to fish for pouts—they plainly fished much more in the Walden Pond of their own natures, and baited their hooks with darkness—but they soon retreated, usually with light baskets, and left "the world to darkness and to me," and the black kernel of the night was never profaned by any human neighborhood. I believe that men are generally still a little afraid of the dark, though the witches are all hung, and Christianity and candles have been introduced.

Yet I experienced sometimes that the most sweet and tender, the most innocent and encouraging society may be found in any natural object, even for the poor misanthrope and most melancholy man. There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of Nature and has his senses still. There was never yet such a storm but it was Æolian music to a healthy and innocent ear. Nothing can rightly compel a simple and brave man to a vulgar sadness. While I enjoy the friendship of the seasons I trust that nothing can make life a burden to me. The gentle rain which waters my beans and keeps me in the house today is not drear and melancholy, but good for me too. Though it prevents my hoeing them, it is of far more worth than my hoeing. If it should continue so long as to cause the seeds to rot in the ground and destroy the potatoes in the low lands, it would still be good for the grass on the uplands, and, being good for the grass, it would be good for me. Sometimes, when I compare myself with other men, it seems as if I were more favored by the gods than they, beyond any deserts that I am conscious of; as if I had a warrant and surety at their hands which my fellows have not, and were especially guided and guarded. I do not flatter myself, but if it be possible they flatter me. I have never felt lonesome, or in the least oppressed by a sense of solitude, but once, and that was a few weeks after I came to the woods, when, for an hour, I doubted if the near neighborhood of man was not essential to a serene and healthy life. To be alone was something unpleasant. But I was at the same time conscious of a slight insanity in my mood, and seemed to foresee my recovery. In the midst of a gentle rain while these thoughts prevailed, I was suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in every sound and sight around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once like an atmosphere sustaining me, as made the fancied advantages of human neighborhood insignificant, and I have never thought of them since. Every little pine needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and befriended me. I was so distinctly made aware of the presence of something kindred to me, even in scenes which we are accustomed to call wild and dreary, and also that the nearest of blood to me and humanest was not a person nor a villager, that I thought no place could ever be strange to me again.

"Mourning untimely consumes the sad;
   Few are their days in the land of the living,
   Beautiful daughter of Toscar."

Some of my pleasantest hours were during the long rain-storms in the spring or fall, which confined me to the house for the afternoon as well as the forenoon, soothed by their ceaseless roar and pelting; when an early twilight ushered in a long evening in which many thoughts had time to take root and unfold themselves. In those driving northeast rains which tried the village houses so, when the maids stood ready with mop and pail in front entries to keep the deluge out, I sat behind my door in my little house, which was all entry, and thoroughly enjoyed its protection. In one heavy thunder-shower the lightning struck a large pitch pine across the pond, making a very conspicuous and perfectly regular spiral groove from top to bottom, an inch or more deep, and four or five inches wide, as you would groove a walking-stick. I passed it again the other day, and was struck with awe on looking up and beholding that mark, now more distinct than ever, where a terrific and resistless bolt came down out of the harmless sky eight years ago. Men frequently say to me, "I should think you would feel lonesome down there, and want to be nearer to folks, rainy and snowy days and nights especially." I am tempted to reply to such—This whole earth which we inhabit is but a point in space. How far apart, think you, dwell the two most distant inhabitants of yonder star, the breadth of whose disk cannot be appreciated by our instruments? Why should I feel lonely? is not our planet in the Milky Way? This which you put seems to me not to be the most important question. What sort of space is that which separates a man from his fellows and makes him solitary? I have found that no exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another. What do we want most to dwell near to? Not to many men surely, the depot, the post-office, the bar-room, the meeting-house, the school-house, the grocery, Beacon Hill, or the Five Points, where men most congregate, but to the perennial source of our life, whence in all our experience we have found that to issue, as the willow stands near the water and sends out its roots in that direction. This will vary with different natures, but this is the place where a wise man will dig his cellar.... I one evening overtook one of my townsmen, who has accumulated what is called "a handsome property"—though I never got a fair view of it—on the Walden road, driving a pair of cattle to market, who inquired of me how I could bring my mind to give up so many of the comforts of life. I answered that I was very sure I liked it passably well; I was not joking. And so I went home to my bed, and left him to pick his way through the darkness and the mud to Brighton—or Bright-town—which place he would reach some time in the morning.

Any prospect of awakening or coming to life to a dead man makes indifferent all times and places. The place where that may occur is always the same, and indescribably pleasant to all our senses. For the most part we allow only outlying and transient circumstances to make our occasions. They are, in fact, the cause of our distraction. Nearest to all things is that power which fashions their being. Next to us the grandest laws are continually being executed. Next to us is not the workman whom we have hired, with whom we love so well to talk, but the workman whose work we are.

"How vast and profound is the influence of the subtile powers of Heaven and of Earth!"

"We seek to perceive them, and we do not see them; we seek to hear them, and we do not hear them; identified with the substance of things, they cannot be separated from them."

"They cause that in all the universe men purify and sanctify their hearts, and clothe themselves in their holiday garments to offer sacrifices and oblations to their ancestors. It is an ocean of subtile intelligences. They are everywhere, above us, on our left, on our right; they environ us on all sides."

We are the subjects of an experiment which is not a little interesting to me. Can we not do without the society of our gossips a little while under these circumstances—have our own thoughts to cheer us? Confucius says truly, "Virtue does not remain as an abandoned orphan; it must of necessity have neighbors."

With thinking we may be beside ourselves in a sane sense. By a conscious effort of the mind we can stand aloof from actions and their consequences; and all things, good and bad, go by us like a torrent. We are not wholly involved in Nature. I may be either the driftwood in the stream, or Indra in the sky looking down on it. I may be affected by a theatrical exhibition; on the other hand, I may not be affected by an actual event which appears to concern me much more. I only know myself as a human entity; the scene, so to speak, of thoughts and affections; and am sensible of a certain doubleness by which I can stand as remote from myself as from another. However intense my experience, I am conscious of the presence and criticism of a part of me, which, as it were, is not a part of me, but spectator, sharing no experience, but taking note of it, and that is no more I than it is you. When the play, it may be the tragedy, of life is over, the spectator goes his way. It was a kind of fiction, a work of the imagination only, so far as he was concerned. This doubleness may easily make us poor neighbors and friends sometimes.

I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge College is as solitary as a dervish in the desert. The farmer can work alone in the field or the woods all day, hoeing or chopping, and not feel lonesome, because he is employed; but when he comes home at night he cannot sit down in a room alone, at the mercy of his thoughts, but must be where he can "see the folks," and recreate, and, as he thinks, remunerate himself for his day's solitude; and hence he wonders how the student can sit alone in the house all night and most of the day without ennui and "the blues"; but he does not realize that the student, though in the house, is still at work in his field, and chopping in his woods, as the farmer in his, and in turn seeks the same recreation and society that the latter does, though it may be a more condensed form of it.

Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals, not having had time to acquire any new value for each other. We meet at meals three times a day, and give each other a new taste of that old musty cheese that we are. We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war. We meet at the post-office, and at the sociable, and about the fireside every night; we live thick and are in each other's way, and stumble over one another, and I think that we thus lose some respect for one another. Certainly less frequency would suffice for all important and hearty communications. Consider the girls in a factory—never alone, hardly in their dreams. It would be better if there were but one inhabitant to a square mile, as where I live. The value of a man is not in his skin, that we should touch him.

I have heard of a man lost in the woods and dying of famine and exhaustion at the foot of a tree, whose loneliness was relieved by the grotesque visions with which, owing to bodily weakness, his diseased imagination surrounded him, and which he believed to be real. So also, owing to bodily and mental health and strength, we may be continually cheered by a like but more normal and natural society, and come to know that we are never alone.

I have a great deal of company in my house; especially in the morning, when nobody calls. Let me suggest a few comparisons, that some one may convey an idea of my situation. I am no more lonely than the loon in the pond that laughs so loud, or than Walden Pond itself. What company has that lonely lake, I pray? And yet it has not the blue devils, but the blue angels in it, in the azure tint of its waters. The sun is alone, except in thick weather, when there sometimes appear to be two, but one is a mock sun. God is alone—but the devil, he is far from being alone; he sees a great deal of company; he is legion. I am no more lonely than a single mullein or dandelion in a pasture, or a bean leaf, or sorrel, or a horse-fly, or a bumblebee. I am no more lonely than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the north star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house.

I have occasional visits in the long winter evenings, when the snow falls fast and the wind howls in the wood, from an old settler and original proprietor, who is reported to have dug Walden Pond, and stoned it, and fringed it with pine woods; who tells me stories of old time and of new eternity; and between us we manage to pass a cheerful evening with social mirth and pleasant views of things, even without apples or cider—a most wise and humorous friend, whom I love much, who keeps himself more secret than ever did Goffe or Whalley; and though he is thought to be dead, none can show where he is buried. An elderly dame, too, dwells in my neighborhood, invisible to most persons, in whose odorous herb garden I love to stroll sometimes, gathering simples and listening to her fables; for she has a genius of unequalled fertility, and her memory runs back farther than mythology, and she can tell me the original of every fable, and on what fact every one is founded, for the incidents occurred when she was young. A ruddy and lusty old dame, who delights in all weathers and seasons, and is likely to outlive all her children yet.

The indescribable innocence and beneficence of Nature—of sun and wind and rain, of summer and winter—such health, such cheer, they afford forever! and such sympathy have they ever with our race, that all Nature would be affected, and the sun's brightness fade, and the winds would sigh humanely, and the clouds rain tears, and the woods shed their leaves and put on mourning in midsummer, if any man should ever for a just cause grieve. Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?

What is the pill which will keep us well, serene, contented? Not my or thy great-grandfather's, but our great-grandmother Nature's universal, vegetable, botanic medicines, by which she has kept herself young always, outlived so many old Parrs in her day, and fed her health with their decaying fatness. For my panacea, instead of one of those quack vials of a mixture dipped from Acheron and the Dead Sea, which come out of those long shallow black-schooner looking wagons which we sometimes see made to carry bottles, let me have a draught of undiluted morning air. Morning air! If men will not drink of this at the fountainhead of the day, why, then, we must even bottle up some and sell it in the shops, for the benefit of those who have lost their subscription ticket to morning time in this world. But remember, it will not keep quite till noonday even in the coolest cellar, but drive out the stopples long ere that and follow westward the steps of Aurora. I am no worshipper of Hygeia, who was the daughter of that old herb-doctor Æsculapius, and who is represented on monuments holding a serpent in one hand, and in the other a cup out of which the serpent sometimes drinks; but rather of Hebe, cup-bearer to Jupiter, who was the daughter of Juno and wild lettuce, and who had the power of restoring gods and men to the vigor of youth. She was probably the only thoroughly sound-conditioned, healthy, and robust young lady that ever walked the globe, and wherever she came it was spring.

 

寂 寞

这是一个愉快的傍晚,全身只有一个感觉,每一个毛孔中都浸润着喜悦。我在大自然里以奇异的自由姿态来去,成了她自己的一部分。我只穿衬衫,沿着硬石的湖岸走,天气虽然寒冷,多云又多凤,也没有特别分心的事,那时天气对我异常地合适。牛蛙鸣叫,邀来黑夜,夜鹰的乐音乘着吹起涟漪的风从湖上传来。摇曳的赤杨和白杨,激起我的情感使我几乎不能呼吸了;然而像湖水一样,我的宁静只有涟漪而没有激荡。和如镜的湖面一样,晚风吹起来的微波是谈不上什么风暴的。虽然天色黑了,风还在森林中吹着,咆哮着,波浪还在拍岸,某一些动物还在用它们的乐音催眠着另外的那些,宁静不可能是绝对的。最凶狠的野兽并没有宁静,现在正找寻它们的牺牲品;狐狸,臭鼬,兔子,也正漫游在原野上,在森林中,它们却没有恐惧,它们是大自然的看守者,——是连接一个个生气勃勃的白昼的链环。等我口到家里,发现已有访客来过,他们还留下了名片呢,不是一束花,便是一个常春树的花环,或用铅笔写在黄色的胡桃叶或者木片上的一个名字。不常进入森林的人常把森林中的小玩意儿一路上拿在手里玩,有时故意,有时偶然,把它们留下了。有一位剥下了柳树皮,做成一个戒指,丢在我桌上。在我出门时有没有客人来过,我总能知道,不是树枝或青草弯倒,便是有了鞋印,一般说,从他们留下的微小痕迹里我还可以猜出他们的年龄、性别和性格;有的掉下了花朵,有的抓来一把草,又扔掉,甚至还有一直带到半英里外的铁路边才扔下的呢;有时,雪茄烟或烟斗味道还残留不散。常常我还能从烟斗的香味注意到六十杆之外公路上行经的一个旅行者。

我们周围的空间该说是很大的了。我们不能一探手就触及地平线。蓊郁的森林或湖沼并不就在我的门口,中间总还有着一块我们熟悉而且由我们使用的空地,多少整理过了,还围了点篱笆,它仿佛是从大自然的手里被夺取得来的。为了什么理由,我要有这么大的范围和规模,好多平方英里的没有人迹的森林,遭人类遗弃而为我所私有了呢?最接近我的邻居在一英里外,看不到什么房子,除非登上那半里之外的小山山顶去瞭望,才能望见一点儿房屋。我的地平线全给森林包围起来,专供我自个享受,极目远望只能望见那在湖的一端经过的铁路和在湖的另一端沿着山林的公路边上的篱笆。大体说来,我居住的地方,寂寞得跟生活在大草原上一样。在这里离新英格兰也像离亚洲和非洲一样遥远。可以说,我有我自己的太阳、月亮和星星,我有一个完全属于我自己的小世界。从没有一个人在晚上经过我的屋子,或叩我的门,我仿佛是人类中的第一个人或最后一个人,除非在春天里,隔了很长久的时候,有人从村里来钓鳘鱼,——在瓦尔登湖中,很显然他们能钓到的只是他们自己的多种多样的性格,而钩子只能钩到黑夜而已——他们立刻都撤走了,常常是鱼篓很轻地撤退的,又把“世界留给黑夜和我”,而黑夜的核心是从没有被任何人类的邻舍污染过的。我相信,人们通常还都有点儿害怕黑暗,虽然妖巫都给吊死了,基督教和蜡烛火也都已经介绍过来。

然而我有时经历到,在任何大自然的事物中,都能找出最甜蜜温柔,最天真和鼓舞人的伴侣,即使是对于愤世嫉俗的可怜人和最最忧慢的人也一样。只要生活在大自然之间而还有五官的话,便不可能有很阴郁的忧虑。对于健全而无邪的耳朵,暴风雨还真是伊奥勒斯的音乐呢。什么也不能正当地迫使单纯而勇敢的人产生庸俗的伤感。当我享受着四季的友爱时,我相信,任什么也不能使生活成为我沉重的负担。今天佳雨洒在我的豆子上,使我在屋里待了整天,这雨既不使我沮丧,也不使我抑郁,对于我可是好得很呢。虽然它使我不能够锄地,但比我锄地更有价值。如果雨下得太久,使地里的种予,低地的土豆烂掉,它对高地的草还是有好处的,既然它对高地的草很好,它对我也是很好的了。有时,我把自己和别人作比较,好像我比别人更得诸神的宠爱,比我应得的似乎还多呢;好像我有一张证书和保单在他们手上,别人却没有,因此我受到了特别的引导和保护。我并没有自称自赞,可是如果可能的话,倒是他们称赞了我。我从不觉得寂寞,也一点不受寂寞之感的压迫,只有一次,在我进了森林数星期后,我怀疑了一个小时,不知宁静而健康的生活是否应当有些近邻,独处似乎不很愉快。同时,我却觉得我的情绪有些失常了,但我似乎也预知我会恢复到正常的。当这些思想占据我的时候,温和的雨丝飘酒下来,我突然感觉到能跟大自然做伴是力瞩此甜蜜如此受惠,就在这滴答滴答的雨声中,我屋子周围的每一个声音和景象都有着无穷尽无边际的友爱,一下子这个支持我的气氛把我想象中的有邻居方便一点的思潮压下去了,从此之后,我就没有再想到过邻居这口事。每一支小小松针都富于同情心地胀大起来,成了我的朋友。我明显地感到这里存在着我的同类,虽然我是在一般所谓凄惨荒凉的处境中,然则那最接近于我的血统,并最富于人性的却并不是一个人或一个村民,从今后再也不会有什么地方会使我觉得陌生的了。

“不合宜的哀动消蚀悲哀;

在生者的大地上,他们的日子很短,

托斯卡尔的美丽的女儿啊。”

我的最愉快的若干时光在于春秋两季的长时间暴风雨当中,这弄得我上午下午都被禁闭在室内,只有不停止的大雨和咆哮安慰着我;我从微明的早起就进入了漫长的黄昏,其间有许多思想扎下了根,并发展了它们自己。在那种来自东北的倾盆大雨中,村中那些房屋都受到了考验,女佣人都已经拎了水桶和拖把,在大门口阻止洪水侵入,我坐在我小屋子的门后,只有这一道门,却很欣赏它给予我的保护。在一次雷阵雨中,曾有一道闪电击中湖对岸的一株苍松,从上到下,划出一个一英寸,或者不止一英寸深,四五英寸宽,很明显的螺旋形的深槽,就好像你在一根手杖上刻的槽一样。那天我又经过了它,一抬头看到这一个痕迹,真是惊叹不已,那是八年以前,一个可怕的、不可抗拒的雷霆留下的痕迹,现在却比以前更为清晰。人们常常对我说,“我想你在那儿住着,一定很寂寞,总是想要跟人们接近一下的吧,特别在下雨下雪的日子和夜晚。”我喉咙痒痒的直想这样口答,——我们居住的整个地球,在宇宙之中不过是一个小点。那边一颗星星,我们的天文仪器还无法测量出它有多么大呢,你想想它上面的两个相距最远的居民又能有多远的距离呢?我怎会觉得寂寞?我们的地球难道不在银河之中?在我看来,你提出的似乎是最不重要的问题。怎样一种空间才能把人和人群隔开而使人感到寂寞呢?我已经发现了,无论两条腿怎样努力也不能使两颗心灵更形接近。我们最愿意和谁紧邻而居呢?人并不是都喜欢车站哪,邮局哪,酒吧间哪,会场哪,学校哪,杂货店哪,烽火山哪,五点区哪,虽然在那里人们常常相聚,人们倒是更愿意接近那生命的不竭之源泉的大自然,在我们的经验中,我们时常感到有这么个需要,好像水边的杨柳,一定向了有水的方向伸展它的根。人的性格不同,所以需要也很不相同,可是一个聪明人必需在不竭之源泉的大自然那里挖掘他的地窖……有一个晚上在走向瓦尔登湖的路上,我赶上了一个市民同胞,他已经积蓄了所谓的“一笔很可观的产业”,虽然我从没有好好地看到过它,那晚上他赶着一对牛上市场去,他间我,我是怎么想出来的,宁肯抛弃这么多人生的乐趣?我口答说,我确信我很喜欢我这样的生活;我不是开玩笑。便这样,我回家,上床睡了,让他在黑夜泥泞之中走路走到布赖顿去——或者说,走到光亮城里去——大概要到天亮的时候才能走到那里。

对一个死者说来,任何觉醒的,或者复活的景象,都使一切时间与地点变得无足轻重。可能发生这种情形的地方都是一样的,对我们的感官是有不可言喻的欢乐的。可是我们大部分人只让外表上的、很短暂的事情成为我们所从事的工作。事实上,这些是使我们分心的原因。最接近万物的乃是创造一切的一股力量。其次靠近我们的宇宙法则在不停地发生作用。再其次靠近我们的,不是我们雇用的匠人,虽然我们欢喜和他们谈谈说说,而是那个大匠,我们自己就是他创造的作品。

“神鬼之为德,其盛矣乎。”

“视之而弗见,听之而弗闻,体物而不可遗。”

“使天下之人,斋明盛服,以承祭祀,洋洋乎,如在其上,如在其左右。

我们是一个实验的材料,但我对这个实验很感兴趣。在这样的情况下,难道我们不能够有一会儿离开我们的充满了是非的社会,——只让我们自己的思想来鼓舞我们?孔子说得好,“德不孤,必有邻。”

有了思想,我们可以在清醒的状态下,欢喜若狂。只要我们的心灵有意识地努力,我们就可以高高地超乎任何行为及其后果之上;一切好事坏事,就像奔流一样,从我们身边经过。我们并不是完全都给纠缠在大自然之内的。我可以是急流中一片浮木,也可以是从空中望着尘寰的因陀罗。看戏很可能感动了我;而另一方面,和我生命更加攸关的事件却可能不感动我。我只知道我自己是作为一个人而存在的;可以说我是反映我思想感情的一个舞台面,我多少有着双重人格,因此我能够远远地看自己犹如看别人一样。不论我有如何强烈的经验,我总能意识到我的一部分在从旁批评我,好像它不是我的一部分,只是一个旁观者,并不分担我的经验,而是注意到它:正如他并不是你,他也不能是我。等到人生的戏演完,很可能是出悲剧,观众就自己走了。关于这第二重人格,这自然是虚构的,只是想象力的创造。但有时这双重人格很容易使别人难于和我们作邻居,交朋友了。

大部分时间内,我觉得寂寞是有益于健康的。有了伴儿,即使是最好的伴儿,不久也要厌倦,弄得很糟糕。我爱孤独。我没有碰到比寂寞更好的同伴了。到国外去厕身于人群之中,大概比独处室内,格外寂寞。一个在思想着在工作着的人总是单独的,让他爱在哪儿就在哪儿吧,寂寞不能以一个人离开他的同伴的里数来计算。真正勤学的学生,在剑桥学院最拥挤的蜂房内,寂寞得像沙漠上的一个托钵僧一样。农夫可以一整天,独个儿地在田地上,在森林中工作,耕地或砍伐,却不觉得寂寞,因为他有工作;可是到晚上,他回到家里,却不能独自在室内沉思,而必须到“看得见他那里的人”的地方去消遣一下,用他的想法,是用以补偿他一天的寂寞;因此他很奇怪,为什么学生们能整日整夜坐在室内不觉得无聊与“忧郁”;可是他不明白虽然学生在室内,却在他的田地上工作,在他的森林中采伐,像农夫在田地或森林中一样,过后学生也要找消遣,也要社交,尽管那形式可能更加凝炼些。

社交往往廉价。相聚的时间之短促,来不及使彼此获得任何新的有价值的东西。我们在每日三餐的时间里相见,大家重新尝尝我们这种陈腐乳酪的味道。我们都必须同意若干条规则,

那就是所谓的礼节和礼貌,使得这种经常的聚首能相安无事,避免公开争吵,以至面红耳赤。我们相会于邮局,于社交场所,每晚在炉火边;我们生活得太拥挤,互相干扰,彼此牵绊,因此我想,彼此已缺乏敬意了。当然,所有重要而热忱的聚会,次数少一点也够了。试想工厂中的女工,——永远不能独自生活,甚至做梦也难于孤独。如果一英里只住一个人,像我这儿,那要好得多。人的价值并不在他的皮肤上,所以我们不必要去碰皮肤。

我曾听说过,有人迷路在森林里,倒在一棵树下,饿得慌,又累得要命,由于体力不济,病态的想象力让他看到了周围有许多奇怪的幻象,他以为它们都是真的。同样,在身体和灵魂都很健康有力的时候,我们可以不断地从类似的,但更正常、更自然的社会得到鼓舞,从而发现我们是不寂寞的。

我在我的房屋中有许多伴侣;特别在早上还没有人来访问我的时候。让我来举几个比喻,或能传达出我的某些状况。我并不比湖中高声大笑的潜水鸟更孤独,我并不比瓦尔登湖更寂寞。我倒要问问这孤独的湖有谁作伴?然而在它的蔚蓝的水波上,却有着不是蓝色的魔鬼,而是蓝色的天使呢。太阳是寂寞的,除非乌云满天,有时候就好像有两个太阳,但那一个是假的。上帝是孤独的,——可是魔鬼就绝不孤独;他看到许多伙伴;他是要结成帮的。我并不比一朵毛蕊花或牧场上的一朵蒲公英寂寞,我不比一张豆叶,一枝酢酱草,或一只马蝇,或一只大黄蜂更孤独。我不比密尔溪,或一只风信鸡,或北极星,或南风更寂寞,我不比四月的雨或正月的溶雪,或新屋中的第一只蜘蛛更孤独。

在冬天的长夜里,雪狂飘,风在森林中号叫的时候,一个老年的移民,原先的主人,不时来拜访我,据说瓦尔登湖还是他挖了出来,铺了石子,沿湖种了松树的;他告诉我旧时的和新近的永恒的故事;我们俩这样过了一个愉快的夜晚,充满了交际的喜悦,交换了对事物的惬意的意见,虽然没有苹果或苹果酒,——这个最聪明而幽默的朋友啊,我真喜欢他,他比谷菲或华莱知道更多的秘密;虽然人家说他已经死了,却没有人指出过他的坟墓在哪里。还有一个老太太,也住在我的附近,大部分人根本看不见她,我却有时候很高兴到她的芳香的百草园中去散步,采集药草,又倾听她的寓言;因为她有无比丰富的创造力,她的记忆一直追溯到神话以前的时代,她可以把每一个寓言的起源告诉我,哪一个寓言是根据了哪一个事实而来的,因为这些事都发生在她年轻的时候。一个红润的、精壮的老太太,不论什么天气什么季节她都兴致勃勃,看样子要比她的孩子活得还长久。

太阳,风雨,夏天,冬天,——大自然的不可描写的纯洁和恩惠,他们永远提供这么多的康健,这么多的欢乐!对我们人类这样地同情,如果有人为了正当的原因悲痛,那大自然也会受到感动,太阳黯淡了,风像活人一样悲叹,云端里落下泪雨,树木到仲夏脱下叶子,披上丧服。难道我不该与土地息息相通吗?我自己不也是一部分绿叶与青菜的泥上吗?

是什么药使我们健全、宁静、满足的呢?不是你我的曾祖父的,而是我们的大自然曾祖母的,全宇宙的蔬菜和植物的补品,她自己也靠它而永远年轻,活得比汤麦斯·派尔还更长久,用他们的衰败的脂肪更增添了她的康健。不是那种江湖医生配方的用冥河水和死海海水混合的药水,装在有时我们看到过装瓶子用的那种浅长形黑色船状车子上的药瓶子里,那不是我的万灵妙药:还是让我来喝一口纯净的黎明空气。黎明的空气啊!如果人们不愿意在每日之源喝这泉水,那未,啊,我们必须把它们装在瓶子内;放在店里,卖给世上那些失去黎明预订券的人们。可是记着,它能冷藏在地窖下,一直保持到正午,但要在那以前很久就打开瓶塞,跟随曙光的脚步西行。我并不崇拜那司健康之女神,她是爱斯库拉彼斯这古老的草药医师的女儿,在纪念碑上,她一手拿了一条蛇,另一只手拿了一个杯子,而蛇时常喝杯中的水;我宁可崇拜朱庇特的执杯者希勃,这青春的女神,为诸神司酒行觞,她是朱诺和野生莴苣的女儿,能使神仙和人返老还童。她也许是地球上出现过的最健康、最强壮、身体最好的少女,无论她到哪里,那里便成了春天。




Visitors

I think that I love society as much as most, and am ready enough to fasten myself like a bloodsucker for the time to any full-blooded man that comes in my way. I am naturally no hermit, but might possibly sit out the sturdiest frequenter of the bar-room, if my business called me thither.

I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society. When visitors came in larger and unexpected numbers there was but the third chair for them all, but they generally economized the room by standing up. It is surprising how many great men and women a small house will contain. I have had twenty-five or thirty souls, with their bodies, at once under my roof, and yet we often parted without being aware that we had come very near to one another. Many of our houses, both public and private, with their almost innumerable apartments, their huge halls and their cellars for the storage of wines and other munitions of peace, appear to be extravagantly large for their inhabitants. They are so vast and magnificent that the latter seem to be only vermin which infest them. I am surprised when the herald blows his summons before some Tremont or Astor or Middlesex House, to see come creeping out over the piazza for all inhabitants a ridiculous mouse, which soon again slinks into some hole in the pavement.

One inconvenience I sometimes experienced in so small a house, the difficulty of getting to a sufficient distance from my guest when we began to utter the big thoughts in big words. You want room for your thoughts to get into sailing trim and run a course or two before they make their port. The bullet of your thought must have overcome its lateral and ricochet motion and fallen into its last and steady course before it reaches the ear of the hearer, else it may plow out again through the side of his head. Also, our sentences wanted room to unfold and form their columns in the interval. Individuals, like nations, must have suitable broad and natural boundaries, even a considerable neutral ground, between them. I have found it a singular luxury to talk across the pond to a companion on the opposite side. In my house we were so near that we could not begin to hear—we could not speak low enough to be heard; as when you throw two stones into calm water so near that they break each other's undulations. If we are merely loquacious and loud talkers, then we can afford to stand very near together, cheek by jowl, and feel each other's breath; but if we speak reservedly and thoughtfully, we want to be farther apart, that all animal heat and moisture may have a chance to evaporate. If we would enjoy the most intimate society with that in each of us which is without, or above, being spoken to, we must not only be silent, but commonly so far apart bodily that we cannot possibly hear each other's voice in any case. Referred to this standard, speech is for the convenience of those who are hard of hearing; but there are many fine things which we cannot say if we have to shout. As the conversation began to assume a loftier and grander tone, we gradually shoved our chairs farther apart till they touched the wall in opposite corners, and then commonly there was not room enough.

My "best" room, however, my withdrawing room, always ready for company, on whose carpet the sun rarely fell, was the pine wood behind my house. Thither in summer days, when distinguished guests came, I took them, and a priceless domestic swept the floor and dusted the furniture and kept the things in order.

If one guest came he sometimes partook of my frugal meal, and it was no interruption to conversation to be stirring a hasty-pudding, or watching the rising and maturing of a loaf of bread in the ashes, in the meanwhile. But if twenty came and sat in my house there was nothing said about dinner, though there might be bread enough for two, more than if eating were a forsaken habit; but we naturally practised abstinence; and this was never felt to be an offence against hospitality, but the most proper and considerate course. The waste and decay of physical life, which so often needs repair, seemed miraculously retarded in such a case, and the vital vigor stood its ground. I could entertain thus a thousand as well as twenty; and if any ever went away disappointed or hungry from my house when they found me at home, they may depend upon it that I sympathized with them at least. So easy is it, though many housekeepers doubt it, to establish new and better customs in the place of the old. You need not rest your reputation on the dinners you give. For my own part, I was never so effectually deterred from frequenting a man's house, by any kind of Cerberus whatever, as by the parade one made about dining me, which I took to be a very polite and roundabout hint never to trouble him so again. I think I shall never revisit those scenes. I should be proud to have for the motto of my cabin those lines of Spenser which one of my visitors inscribed on a yellow walnut leaf for a card:—

"Arrivèd there, the little house they fill,
   Ne looke for entertainment where none was;
   Rest is their feast, and all things at their will:
   The noblest mind the best contentment has."

When Winslow, afterward governor of the Plymouth Colony, went with a companion on a visit of ceremony to Massasoit on foot through the woods, and arrived tired and hungry at his lodge, they were well received by the king, but nothing was said about eating that day. When the night arrived, to quote their own words—"He laid us on the bed with himself and his wife, they at the one end and we at the other, it being only planks laid a foot from the ground and a thin mat upon them. Two more of his chief men, for want of room, pressed by and upon us; so that we were worse weary of our lodging than of our journey." At one o'clock the next day Massasoit "brought two fishes that he had shot," about thrice as big as a bream. "These being boiled, there were at least forty looked for a share in them; the most eat of them. This meal only we had in two nights and a day; and had not one of us bought a partridge, we had taken our journey fasting." Fearing that they would be light-headed for want of food and also sleep, owing to "the savages' barbarous singing, (for they use to sing themselves asleep,)" and that they might get home while they had strength to travel, they departed. As for lodging, it is true they were but poorly entertained, though what they found an inconvenience was no doubt intended for an honor; but as far as eating was concerned, I do not see how the Indians could have done better. They had nothing to eat themselves, and they were wiser than to think that apologies could supply the place of food to their guests; so they drew their belts tighter and said nothing about it. Another time when Winslow visited them, it being a season of plenty with them, there was no deficiency in this respect.

As for men, they will hardly fail one anywhere. I had more visitors while I lived in the woods than at any other period in my life; I mean that I had some. I met several there under more favorable circumstances than I could anywhere else. But fewer came to see me on trivial business. In this respect, my company was winnowed by my mere distance from town. I had withdrawn so far within the great ocean of solitude, into which the rivers of society empty, that for the most part, so far as my needs were concerned, only the finest sediment was deposited around me. Beside, there were wafted to me evidences of unexplored and uncultivated continents on the other side.

Who should come to my lodge this morning but a true Homeric or Paphlagonian man—he had so suitable and poetic a name that I am sorry I cannot print it here—a Canadian, a woodchopper and post-maker, who can hole fifty posts in a day, who made his last supper on a woodchuck which his dog caught. He, too, has heard of Homer, and, "if it were not for books," would "not know what to do rainy days," though perhaps he has not read one wholly through for many rainy seasons. Some priest who could pronounce the Greek itself taught him to read his verse in the Testament in his native parish far away; and now I must translate to him, while he holds the book, Achilles' reproof to Patroclus for his sad countenance.—"Why are you in tears, Patroclus, like a young girl?"—

"Or have you alone heard some news from Phthia?
   They say that Menoetius lives yet, son of Actor,
   And Peleus lives, son of Æacus, among the Myrmidons,
   Either of whom having died, we should greatly grieve."

He says, "That's good." He has a great bundle of white oak bark under his arm for a sick man, gathered this Sunday morning. "I suppose there's no harm in going after such a thing to-day," says he. To him Homer was a great writer, though what his writing was about he did not know. A more simple and natural man it would be hard to find. Vice and disease, which cast such a sombre moral hue over the world, seemed to have hardly any existence for him. He was about twenty-eight years old, and had left Canada and his father's house a dozen years before to work in the States, and earn money to buy a farm with at last, perhaps in his native country. He was cast in the coarsest mould; a stout but sluggish body, yet gracefully carried, with a thick sunburnt neck, dark bushy hair, and dull sleepy blue eyes, which were occasionally lit up with expression. He wore a flat gray cloth cap, a dingy wool-colored greatcoat, and cowhide boots. He was a great consumer of meat, usually carrying his dinner to his work a couple of miles past my house—for he chopped all summer—in a tin pail; cold meats, often cold woodchucks, and coffee in a stone bottle which dangled by a string from his belt; and sometimes he offered me a drink. He came along early, crossing my bean-field, though without anxiety or haste to get to his work, such as Yankees exhibit. He wasn't a-going to hurt himself. He didn't care if he only earned his board. Frequently he would leave his dinner in the bushes, when his dog had caught a woodchuck by the way, and go back a mile and a half to dress it and leave it in the cellar of the house where he boarded, after deliberating first for half an hour whether he could not sink it in the pond safely till nightfall—loving to dwell long upon these themes. He would say, as he went by in the morning, "How thick the pigeons are! If working every day were not my trade, I could get all the meat I should want by hunting-pigeons, woodchucks, rabbits, partridges—by gosh! I could get all I should want for a week in one day."

He was a skilful chopper, and indulged in some flourishes and ornaments in his art. He cut his trees level and close to the ground, that the sprouts which came up afterward might be more vigorous and a sled might slide over the stumps; and instead of leaving a whole tree to support his corded wood, he would pare it away to a slender stake or splinter which you could break off with your hand at last.

He interested me because he was so quiet and solitary and so happy withal; a well of good humor and contentment which overflowed at his eyes. His mirth was without alloy. Sometimes I saw him at his work in the woods, felling trees, and he would greet me with a laugh of inexpressible satisfaction, and a salutation in Canadian French, though he spoke English as well. When I approached him he would suspend his work, and with half-suppressed mirth lie along the trunk of a pine which he had felled, and, peeling off the inner bark, roll it up into a ball and chew it while he laughed and talked. Such an exuberance of animal spirits had he that he sometimes tumbled down and rolled on the ground with laughter at anything which made him think and tickled him. Looking round upon the trees he would exclaim—"By George! I can enjoy myself well enough here chopping; I want no better sport." Sometimes, when at leisure, he amused himself all day in the woods with a pocket pistol, firing salutes to himself at regular intervals as he walked. In the winter he had a fire by which at noon he warmed his coffee in a kettle; and as he sat on a log to eat his dinner the chickadees would sometimes come round and alight on his arm and peck at the potato in his fingers; and he said that he "liked to have the little fellers about him."

In him the animal man chiefly was developed. In physical endurance and contentment he was cousin to the pine and the rock. I asked him once if he was not sometimes tired at night, after working all day; and he answered, with a sincere and serious look, "Gorrappit, I never was tired in my life." But the intellectual and what is called spiritual man in him were slumbering as in an infant. He had been instructed only in that innocent and ineffectual way in which the Catholic priests teach the aborigines, by which the pupil is never educated to the degree of consciousness, but only to the degree of trust and reverence, and a child is not made a man, but kept a child. When Nature made him, she gave him a strong body and contentment for his portion, and propped him on every side with reverence and reliance, that he might live out his threescore years and ten a child. He was so genuine and unsophisticated that no introduction would serve to introduce him, more than if you introduced a woodchuck to your neighbor. He had got to find him out as you did. He would not play any part. Men paid him wages for work, and so helped to feed and clothe him; but he never exchanged opinions with them. He was so simply and naturally humble—if he can be called humble who never aspires—that humility was no distinct quality in him, nor could he conceive of it. Wiser men were demigods to him. If you told him that such a one was coming, he did as if he thought that anything so grand would expect nothing of himself, but take all the responsibility on itself, and let him be forgotten still. He never heard the sound of praise. He particularly reverenced the writer and the preacher. Their performances were miracles. When I told him that I wrote considerably, he thought for a long time that it was merely the handwriting which I meant, for he could write a remarkably good hand himself. I sometimes found the name of his native parish handsomely written in the snow by the highway, with the proper French accent, and knew that he had passed. I asked him if he ever wished to write his thoughts. He said that he had read and written letters for those who could not, but he never tried to write thoughts—no, he could not, he could not tell what to put first, it would kill him, and then there was spelling to be attended to at the same time!

I heard that a distinguished wise man and reformer asked him if he did not want the world to be changed; but he answered with a chuckle of surprise in his Canadian accent, not knowing that the question had ever been entertained before, "No, I like it well enough." It would have suggested many things to a philosopher to have dealings with him. To a stranger he appeared to know nothing of things in general; yet I sometimes saw in him a man whom I had not seen before, and I did not know whether he was as wise as Shakespeare or as simply ignorant as a child, whether to suspect him of a fine poetic consciousness or of stupidity. A townsman told me that when he met him sauntering through the village in his small close-fitting cap, and whistling to himself, he reminded him of a prince in disguise.

His only books were an almanac and an arithmetic, in which last he was considerably expert. The former was a sort of cyclopaedia to him, which he supposed to contain an abstract of human knowledge, as indeed it does to a considerable extent. I loved to sound him on the various reforms of the day, and he never failed to look at them in the most simple and practical light. He had never heard of such things before. Could he do without factories? I asked. He had worn the home-made Vermont gray, he said, and that was good. Could he dispense with tea and coffee? Did this country afford any beverage beside water? He had soaked hemlock leaves in water and drank it, and thought that was better than water in warm weather. When I asked him if he could do without money, he showed the convenience of money in such a way as to suggest and coincide with the most philosophical accounts of the origin of this institution, and the very derivation of the word pecunia. If an ox were his property, and he wished to get needles and thread at the store, he thought it would be inconvenient and impossible soon to go on mortgaging some portion of the creature each time to that amount. He could defend many institutions better than any philosopher, because, in describing them as they concerned him, he gave the true reason for their prevalence, and speculation had not suggested to him any other. At another time, hearing Plato's definition of a man—a biped without feathers—and that one exhibited a cock plucked and called it Plato's man, he thought it an important difference that the knees bent the wrong way. He would sometimes exclaim, "How I love to talk! By George, I could talk all day!" I asked him once, when I had not seen him for many months, if he had got a new idea this summer. "Good Lord"—said he, "a man that has to work as I do, if he does not forget the ideas he has had, he will do well. May be the man you hoe with is inclined to race; then, by gorry, your mind must be there; you think of weeds." He would sometimes ask me first on such occasions, if I had made any improvement. One winter day I asked him if he was always satisfied with himself, wishing to suggest a substitute within him for the priest without, and some higher motive for living. "Satisfied!" said he; "some men are satisfied with one thing, and some with another. One man, perhaps, if he has got enough, will be satisfied to sit all day with his back to the fire and his belly to the table, by George!" Yet I never, by any manoeuvring, could get him to take the spiritual view of things; the highest that he appeared to conceive of was a simple expediency, such as you might expect an animal to appreciate; and this, practically, is true of most men. If I suggested any improvement in his mode of life, he merely answered, without expressing any regret, that it was too late. Yet he thoroughly believed in honesty and the like virtues.

There was a certain positive originality, however slight, to be detected in him, and I occasionally observed that he was thinking for himself and expressing his own opinion, a phenomenon so rare that I would any day walk ten miles to observe it, and it amounted to the re-origination of many of the institutions of society. Though he hesitated, and perhaps failed to express himself distinctly, he always had a presentable thought behind. Yet his thinking was so primitive and immersed in his animal life, that, though more promising than a merely learned man's, it rarely ripened to anything which can be reported. He suggested that there might be men of genius in the lowest grades of life, however permanently humble and illiterate, who take their own view always, or do not pretend to see at all; who are as bottomless even as Walden Pond was thought to be, though they may be dark and muddy.

Many a traveller came out of his way to see me and the inside of my house, and, as an excuse for calling, asked for a glass of water. I told them that I drank at the pond, and pointed thither, offering to lend them a dipper. Far off as I lived, I was not exempted from the annual visitation which occurs, methinks, about the first of April, when everybody is on the move; and I had my share of good luck, though there were some curious specimens among my visitors. Half-witted men from the almshouse and elsewhere came to see me; but I endeavored to make them exercise all the wit they had, and make their confessions to me; in such cases making wit the theme of our conversation; and so was compensated. Indeed, I found some of them to be wiser than the so-called overseers of the poor and selectmen of the town, and thought it was time that the tables were turned. With respect to wit, I learned that there was not much difference between the half and the whole. One day, in particular, an inoffensive, simple-minded pauper, whom with others I had often seen used as fencing stuff, standing or sitting on a bushel in the fields to keep cattle and himself from straying, visited me, and expressed a wish to live as I did. He told me, with the utmost simplicity and truth, quite superior, or rather inferior, to anything that is called humility, that he was "deficient in intellect." These were his words. The Lord had made him so, yet he supposed the Lord cared as much for him as for another. "I have always been so," said he, "from my childhood; I never had much mind; I was not like other children; I am weak in the head. It was the Lord's will, I suppose." And there he was to prove the truth of his words. He was a metaphysical puzzle to me. I have rarely met a fellowman on such promising ground—it was so simple and sincere and so true all that he said. And, true enough, in proportion as he appeared to humble himself was he exalted. I did not know at first but it was the result of a wise policy. It seemed that from such a basis of truth and frankness as the poor weak-headed pauper had laid, our intercourse might go forward to something better than the intercourse of sages.

I had some guests from those not reckoned commonly among the town's poor, but who should be; who are among the world's poor, at any rate; guests who appeal, not to your hospitality, but to your hospitalality; who earnestly wish to be helped, and preface their appeal with the information that they are resolved, for one thing, never to help themselves. I require of a visitor that he be not actually starving, though he may have the very best appetite in the world, however he got it. Objects of charity are not guests. Men who did not know when their visit had terminated, though I went about my business again, answering them from greater and greater remoteness. Men of almost every degree of wit called on me in the migrating season. Some who had more wits than they knew what to do with; runaway slaves with plantation manners, who listened from time to time, like the fox in the fable, as if they heard the hounds a-baying on their track, and looked at me beseechingly, as much as to say,—

"O Christian, will you send me back?  

One real runaway slave, among the rest, whom I helped to forward toward the north star. Men of one idea, like a hen with one chicken, and that a duckling; men of a thousand ideas, and unkempt heads, like those hens which are made to take charge of a hundred chickens, all in pursuit of one bug, a score of them lost in every morning's dew—and become frizzled and mangy in consequence; men of ideas instead of legs, a sort of intellectual centipede that made you crawl all over. One man proposed a book in which visitors should write their names, as at the White Mountains; but, alas! I have too good a memory to make that necessary.

I could not but notice some of the peculiarities of my visitors. Girls and boys and young women generally seemed glad to be in the woods. They looked in the pond and at the flowers, and improved their time. Men of business, even farmers, thought only of solitude and employment, and of the great distance at which I dwelt from something or other; and though they said that they loved a ramble in the woods occasionally, it was obvious that they did not. Restless committed men, whose time was an taken up in getting a living or keeping it; ministers who spoke of God as if they enjoyed a monopoly of the subject, who could not bear all kinds of opinions; doctors, lawyers, uneasy housekeepers who pried into my cupboard and bed when I was out—how came Mrs.—to know that my sheets were not as clean as hers?—young men who had ceased to be young, and had concluded that it was safest to follow the beaten track of the professions—all these generally said that it was not possible to do so much good in my position. Ay! there was the rub. The old and infirm and the timid, of whatever age or sex, thought most of sickness, and sudden accident and death; to them life seemed full of danger—what danger is there if you don't think of any?—and they thought that a prudent man would carefully select the safest position, where Dr. B. might be on hand at a moment's warning. To them the village was literally a com-munity, a league for mutual defence, and you would suppose that they would not go a-huckleberrying without a medicine chest. The amount of it is, if a man is alive, there is always danger that he may die, though the danger must be allowed to be less in proportion as he is dead-and-alive to begin with. A man sits as many risks as he runs. Finally, there were the self-styled reformers, the greatest bores of all, who thought that I was forever singing,—

This is the house that I built;
   This is the man that lives in the house that I built;

but they did not know that the third line was,

These are the folks that worry the man
    That lives in the house that I built.

I did not fear the hen-harriers, for I kept no chickens; but I feared the men-harriers rather.

I had more cheering visitors than the last. Children come a-berrying, railroad men taking a Sunday morning walk in clean shirts, fishermen and hunters, poets and philosophers; in short, all honest pilgrims, who came out to the woods for freedom's sake, and really left the village behind, I was ready to greet with—"Welcome, Englishmen! welcome, Englishmen!" for I had had communication with that race.

 

访 客

我想,我也跟大多数人一样喜爱交际,任何血气旺盛的人来时,我一定像吸血的水蛭似的,紧紧吸住他不放。我本性就非隐士,要有什么事情让我进一个酒吧间去,在那里坐得最长久的人也未必坐得过我。

我的屋子里有三张椅子,寂寞时用一张,交朋友用两张,社交用三张。访客要是来了一大堆,多得出乎意料,也还是只有三张椅子给他们支配,他们一般都很节省地方,只是站着。奇怪的是一个小房间里竟可容纳这么多的男人和女人。有一天,在我的屋脊底下,来了二十五至三十个灵魂,外加上他们这许多个身体;然而,我们分手的时候似乎不觉得我们曾经彼此十分接近过。我们有很多幢房屋,无论公共的,私人的,简直有数不清的房间,有巨大的厅堂,还有贮藏酒液和其他和平时代的军需品的地窖,我总觉得对住在里面的人说来,它们大而无当。它们太大,又太华丽,住在里面的人仿佛是败坏它们的一些寄生虫。有时我大吃一惊,当那些大旅馆如托莱蒙,阿斯托尔或米德尔塞克斯的司阍,通报客来,却看到一只可笑的小老鼠,爬过游廊,立刻又在铺道上的一个小窟窿里不见了。

我也曾感到我的这样小的房间不大方便,当客人和我用深奥字眼谈着大问题的时候,我就难于和客人保持一个适当的距离了。你的思想也得有足够的空间,好让它准备好可以开航,打两个转身,到达港岸。你的思想的子弹必须抑制了它的横跳和跳飞的动作之后,笔直前进,才能到达听者的耳内,要不然它一猾就从他的脑袋的一边穿过去了。还有,在这中间我们的语句也要有足够的地盘来展开它自己,排成队形。个人,正像国土一样,必须有适度的、宽阔而自然的疆界,甚至在疆界之间,要有一个相当的中立地带。我发现我跟一个住在湖那边的朋友隔湖谈天,简直是一种了不得的奢侈。在我的屋子里,我们太接近,以致一开始听不清话——我们没法说得更轻,好使大家都听清;好比你扔两块石子到静水中去,太近了的话,它们要破坏彼此的涟漪的。如果我们仅仅是蝶蝶不休、大声说话的人,那未,我们站得很近,紧紧挨着,彼此能相嘘以气的,这不要紧;可是如果我们说话很有含蓄,富于思想,我们就得隔开一点,以便我们的动物性的热度和湿度有机会散发掉。如果我们中间,每一个都有一些不可以言传,只可以意会的话语,若要最亲呢地享受我们的交流,我们光是沉默一下还不够,还得两个身体距离得远一点,要在任何情况下都几乎听不见彼此的声音才行。根据这个标准,大声说话只是为了聋子的方便;可是有很多美妙的事物,我们要是非大喊大叫不可,那就无法言传了。谈话之中当调子更崇高,更庄重时,我们就得渐渐地把椅子往后拖,越拖越后,直到我们碰到了两个角落上的墙壁,通常就要觉得房间不够大了。我的“最好的”房间,当然是我退隐的那间,它是随时准备招侍客人的,但太阳却很难得照到地毯上,它便是我屋后的松林。在夏天里,来了尊贵的宾客时,我就带他们上那儿去,有一个可贵的管家已打扫好地板,抹拭好家具,一切都井然有序了。如果只来了一个客人,有时要分享我的菲薄的饭食;一边说话一边煮一个玉米糊,或者注意火上在胀大、烤熟的面包,是不,130·会打断谈话的。可是一来来了二十个人的话,坐在屋里,关于吃饭问题就不好提了,虽然我所有的面包还够两个人吃,可是吃饭好像成了一个大家都已戒掉了的习惯;大家都节欲了;然而这不算失礼,反倒被认为是最合适的,是考虑周到的办法。肉体生命的败坏,向来是急求补救的,现在却被拖宕了,而生命的活力居然还能持续下去。像这样,要招待的人如果不止二十个,而是一千个人的话,我也可以办到;如果来访者看到我在家,却饿了肚子失望地回去,他们可以肯定,我至少总是同情他们的。许多管家尽管对此怀疑,但是建立起新规矩和好习惯来代替旧的是容易的。你的名誉并不靠你请客。至于我自己,哪怕看管地狱之门的三个头的怪犬也吓不住我,可是有人要请我作客,大摆筵席,那稳可以吓得我退避三舍,我认为这大约是客气地兜圈子暗示我以后不必再去麻烦他了。我想我从此不会再去这些地方了。我引以为骄做的是,有一个访客在一张代替名片的黄色胡桃叶上写下了这几行斯宾塞的诗,大可拿来做我的陋室铭,

“到了这里,他们填充着的小房屋,

不寻求那些本来就没有的娱乐;

休息好比宴席,一切听其自然,

最高贵的心灵,最能知足自满。”

当后来担任普利茅斯垦殖区总督的温斯罗跟一个伴侣去正式访问玛萨索特时,他步行经过了森林,又疲倦又饥饿地到了他的棚屋,这位酋长很恭敬地招待了他们。可是这一天没有提到饮食。夜来了以后,用他们自己的话吧,——“他把我们招待到他自己和他夫人的床上,他们在一头,我们在另一头,这床是离地一英尺的木板架成的,上面只铺了一条薄薄的席子。他手下的两个头目,因为房屋不够,就挤在我们身旁,因此我们不乐意于住所,尤甚我们不乐意于旅途。”第二天一点钟,玛萨索特“拿出了两条他打来的鱼”,三倍于鲤鱼的大小;“鱼烧好之后,至少有四十个人分而食之。总算大多数人都吃到了。两夜一天,我们只吃了这点;要不是我俩中间的一人买到了一只鹧鸪,我们这旅行可谓是绝食旅行了。”温斯罗他们既缺少食物,又缺少睡眠,这是因为“那种野蛮的歌声(他们总是唱着歌儿直唱到他们自己睡着为止)”,他们害怕这样可能会使他们晕倒,为了要在他们还有力气的时候,回得到家里,他们就告辞了。真的,他们在住宿方面没有受到好的招待,虽然使他们深感不便的,倒是那种上宾之礼;至于食物呢,我看印第安人真是再聪明也没有了。他们自己本来没有东西吃,他们很聪明,懂得道歉代替不了粮食;所以他们束紧了裤带,只字不提。温斯罗后来还去过一次,那次正好是他们的食粮很丰富的季节,所以在这方面没有匮乏。

至于人,哪里都少不了人的。林中的访客比我这一生中的任何时期都多;这是说,我有了一些客人。我在那里会见几个客人,比在别的场合中会见他们更好得多。可很少是为小事情而来找我的人。在这方面,由于我住在离城较远的乡下,仅仅我那一段距离便把他们甄别过了。我退入寂寞的大海有这样深;社会的河流虽然也汇流到这海洋中,就我的需要来说,聚集在我周围的大多是最优秀的沉积物。而且还有另一面的许多未发现、未开化的大陆,它们的证物也随波逐浪而来。

今天早晨来我家的,岂非一位真正荷马式的或帕菲拉戈尼亚的人物吗,——他有个这样适合于他身份的诗意的名字,抱歉的是我不能在这里写下来,——他是一个加拿大人,一个伐木做柱子的人,一天可以在五十个柱子上凿洞,他刚好吃了一顿他的狗子捉到的一只土拨鼠。他也听到过荷马其人,说“要不是我有书本”,他就“不知道如何打发下雨天”,虽然好几个雨季以来,他也许没有读完过一本书。在他自己那个遥远的教区内,有一个能念希腊文的牧师,曾经教他读《圣经》里的诗;现在我必须给他翻译了,他手拿着那本书,翻到普特洛克勒斯满面愁容,因而阿基里斯责怪他的一段,“普特洛克勒斯,干吗哭得像个小女孩?”————-

“是不是你从毕蒂亚那里

得到什么秘密消息?

阿克脱的儿子,伊苦斯的儿子,

还是好好儿地活在玛密同;

除非他俩死了,才应该悲伤。”

他对我说,“这诗好。”他手臂下挟了一大捆白橡树皮,是这星期日的早晨,他收集来给一个生病人的。“我想今天做这样的事应该没有关系吧,”他说。他认为荷马是一个大作家,虽然他写的是些什么,他并不知道。再要找一个比他更单纯更自然的人恐怕不容易了。罪恶与疾病,使这个世界郁忧阴暗,在他却几乎不存在似的。他大约二十八岁,十二年前他离开加拿大和他父亲的家,来到合众国找工作,要挣点钱将来买点田产,大约在他的故乡买吧。他是从最粗糙的模型里做出来的,一个大而呆板的身体,态度却非常文雅,一个晒焦了的大脖子,一头浓密的黑头发,一双无神欲睡的蓝眼睛,有时却闪烁出表情,变得明亮。他身穿一件肮脏的羊毛色大衣,头戴一顶扁平的灰色帽子,足登一双牛皮靴。他常常用一个铅皮桶来装他的饭餐,走到离我的屋子几英里之外去工作,——他整个夏天都在伐木,——他吃肉的胃口很大;冷肉,常常是土拨鼠的冷肉;咖啡装在一只石瓶子中间,用一根绳子吊在他的皮带上,有时他还请我喝一口。他很早就来到,穿过我的豆田,但是并不急急乎去工作,像所有的那些北方佬一样。他不想伤自己的身体。如果收入只够吃住,他也不在乎。他时常把饭餐放在灌木丛中,因为半路上他的狗咬住土拨鼠了,他就口头又走一英里半路把它煮熟,放在他借宿的那所房子的地窖中,但是在这之前,他曾经考虑过半个小时,他能否把土拨鼠浸在湖水中,安全地浸到晚上,——这一类的事情他要考虑很久。早上,他经过的时候,总说,“鸽子飞得多么地密啊!如果我的职业无需我每天工作,我光打猎就可以得到我所需要的全部肉食,——一鸽于,土拨鼠,兔子,鹧鸪,——天哪!一天就够我一星期的需要了。”

他是一个熟练的樵夫,他陶醉在这项艺术的技巧之中,他齐着地面把树木伐下来,从根上再萌发的芽将来就格外强壮,而运木料的雪橇在平根上也可以滑得过去;而且,他不是用绳子来把砍过根部一半的大树拉倒的,他把树木砍削得成为细细的一根或者薄薄的一片,最后,你只消轻轻用手一推,就推倒了。

他使我发生兴趣是因为他这样安静,这样寂寞,而内心又这样愉快;他的眼睛里溢出他高兴而满足的神情。他的欢乐并没有搀杂其他的成分。有时候,我看到他在树林中劳动、砍伐树木,他带着一阵无法描写的满意的笑声迎接我,用加拿大腔的法文向我致意,其实他的英文也说得好。等我走近了他,他就停止工作,一半克制着自己的喜悦,躺倒在他砍下的一棵松树旁边,把树枝里层的皮剥了下来,再把它卷成一个圆球,一边笑着说话,一边还咀嚼它。他有如此充溢的元气,有时遇到使他运用思想的任何事情,碰着了他的痒处,他就大笑得倒在地上,打起滚来了。看看他四周的树木,他会叫喊,——“真的呵!在这里伐木真够劲;我不要更好的娱乐了。”有时候,他闲了下来,他带着把小手枪在林中整天自得其乐,一边走,一边按时地向自己放枪致敬。冬天他生了火,到正午在一个壶里煮咖啡,当他坐在一根圆木上用膳的时候,小鸟偶尔会飞过来,停在他的胳膊上,啄他手里的土豆;他就说他“喜欢旁边有些小把戏”。

在他身上,主要的是生气勃发。论体力上的坚韧和满足,他跟松树和岩石称得上是表兄弟。有一次问他整天做工,晚上累不累;他口答时,目光真诚而严肃,“天晓得,我一生中从没有累过。”可是在他身上,智力,即一般所谓的灵性却还是沉睡着的,跟婴孩的灵性一样。他所受的教育,只是以那天真的,无用的方式进行的,天主教神父就是用这种方式来教育土人,而用这种方式,学生总不能达到意识的境界,只达到了信任和崇敬的程度,像一个孩子并没有被教育成人,他依然还是个孩子。当大自然创造他这人的时候,她给了他一副强壮的身体,并且让他对自己的命运感到满足,在他的四周用敬意和信任支撑着他,这样他就从可以像一个孩子似的,一直活到七十岁。他是这样单纯,毫不虚伪,无须用介绍的方式来介绍他,正如你无须给你的邻居介绍土拨鼠一样。他这人,还得自己慢慢来认识自己,就跟你得慢慢地才能认识他一样。他什么事都不做作。人们为了他的工作,给他钱;这就帮他得到了衣食;可是他从来不跟人们交换意见。他这样地单纯,天然地卑微,——如果那种不抱奢望的人可以称作卑微的话,——这种卑微在他身上并不明显,他自己也不觉得。对于他,聪明一点的人,简直成了神仙,如果你告诉他,这样一个人正要来到,他似乎觉得这般隆重的事情肯定是与他无关的,事情会自然而然地自己办好的,还是让他被人们忘掉吧。他从来没有听到过赞美他的话。他特别敬重作家和传教师。他认为他们的工作真是神乎其神。当我告诉他,说我也写作甚多,他想了一会儿,以为我说的是写字,他也写得一手好字呢。我有时候看到,在公路旁的积雪上很秀丽地写着他那故乡的教区的名字,并标明了那法文的重音记号,就知道他曾在这里经过。我问过他有没有想过要写下他自己的思想来。他说他给不识字的人读过和写过一些信件,但从没有试过写下他的思想,——不,他不能,他就不知道应该先写什么,这会难死他的,何况写的时候还要留意拼音!

我听到过一个著名的聪明人兼改革家问他,他愿不愿这世界改变:他惊诧地失笑了,这问题从来没有想过,用他的加拿大口音回答,“不必,我很喜欢它呢,”一个哲学家跟他谈话,可以得到很多东西。在陌生人看来,他对一般问题是一点都不懂的;但是我有时候在他身上看到了一个我从未见过的人,我不知道他究竟是聪明得像莎士比亚呢,还是天真未凿,像一个小孩;不知道他富于诗意呢,还是笨伯一名。一个市民告诉过我,他遇到他,戴了那紧扣的小帽,悠悠闲闲地穿过村子,自顾自吹着口哨,他使他想起了微服出行的王子。

他只有一本历书和一本算术书,他很精于算术。前者在他则好比一本百科全书,他认为那是人类思想的精华所在,事实上在很大限度内也确实是如此。我喜欢探问他一些现代革新的问题,他没有一次不是很简单,很实际地作出回答的。他从没有听到过这种问题。没有工厂他行不行呢?我问。他说他穿的是家庭手工织的佛蒙特灰布,说这很好嘛。他可以不喝茶或咖啡吗?在这个国土上,除水之外,还供应什么饮料呢?他说他曾经把铁杉叶浸在水里,热天喝来比水好。我问他没有钱行不行呢?他就证明,有了钱是这样的方便,说得仿佛是有关货币起源的哲学探讨一样,正好表明了pecunia 这个字的字源。如果一条牛是他的财产,他现在要到铺子里去买一点针线了,要他一部分一部分地把他的牛抵押掉真是不方便啊。他可以替不少制度作辩护,胜过哲学家多多,因为他说的理由都是和他直接关联着的,他说出了它们流行的真正理由,他并不胡想出任何其他理由。有一次,听到柏拉图所下的人的定义,——没有羽毛的两足动物,——有人拿起一只拔掉了羽毛的雄鸡来,称之为柏拉图的人,他却说明,膝盖的弯向不同,这是很重要的一个区别。有时候,他也叫嚷,“我多么喜欢闲谈啊!真的,我能够说一整天!”有一次,几个月不见他,我问他夏天里可有了什么新见地。“老天爷,”他说,“一个像我这样有工作做的人,如果他有了意见不忘记,那就好了。也许跟你一起耘地的人打算跟你比赛;好啊,心思就得花在这上头了:你想到的只是杂草。”在这种场合,有时他先问我有没有改进。有一个冬日,我问他是否常常自满,希望在他的内心找一样东西代替外在的牧师,有更高的生活目的。“自满!”他说,“有的人满足这一些,另外的人满足另一些。也许有人,如果什么都有了,便整天背烤着火,肚子向着饭桌,真的!”然则,我费尽了心机,还不能找出他对于事物的精神方面的观点来;他想出的最高原则在乎“绝对的方便”,像动物所喜欢的那样;这一点,实际上,大多数人都如此。如果我向他建议,在生活方式上有所改进,他仅仅回答说,来不及了,可并没有一点遗憾。然而他彻底地奉行着忠实与其他这一类美德。

从他这人身上可以察觉到,他有相当的,不管如何地少,积极的独创性; 有时我还发现他在自己寻思如何表达他自己的意见,这是稀有的现象,我愿在随便哪一天跑十英里路,去观察这种景象,这等于温习一次社会制度的起源。虽然他迟疑,也许还不能明白地表现他自己,他却常常藏有一些非常正确的好意见.然而他的思想是这样原始,和他的肉体的生命契合无间,比起仅仅有学问的人的思想来,虽然已经高明,却还没有成熟到值得报道的程度。他说过,在最低贱的人中,纵然终身在最下层,且又目不识丁,却可能出一些天才,一向都有自己的见解,从不假装他什么都知道;他们深如瓦尔登湖一般,有人说它是无底的,虽然它也许是黑暗而泥泞的。

许多旅行家离开了他们的路线,来看我和我屋子的内部,他们的托辞往往是要一杯水喝。我告诉他们,我是从湖里喝水的,手指着湖,愿意借一个水勺给他们。住得虽然远僻,每年,我想,四月一日左右,人人都来踏青,我也免不了受到访问;我就鸿运高照了,虽然其中有一些古怪人物的标本。从济贫院或别处出来的傻瓜也来看我;我就尽量让他们施展出他们的全部机智,让他们对我畅谈一番;在这种场合,机智常常成了我们谈话的话题;这样我大有收获了。真的,我觉得他们比贫民的管理者,甚至比市里行政管理委员会的委员要聪明得多,认为大翻身的时期已差不多了。关于智慧,我觉得愚昧和大智之间没有多少分别。特别有一天,有一个并不讨厌的头脑单纯的贫民来看我,还表示愿意跟我一样地生活。以前我常常看到他和别人一起好像篱笆一样,在田野中站着,或坐在一个箩斗上看守着牛和他自己,以免走散。他怀着极大的纯朴和真诚,超出或毋宁说低于一般的所谓的自卑,告诉我说他“在智力上非常之低”。这是他的原话。上帝把他造成这个样子,可是,他认为,上帝关心他,正如关心旁人一样。“从我的童年时代起,”他说,“我就一向如此,我脑筋就不大灵;我跟别的小孩子不同;我在智力方面很薄弱。我想,这是神的意志吧。”而他就在那里,证实了他自己的话。他对我是一个形而上学的谜语。我难得碰到一个人是这样有希望的——他说的话全都这样单纯诚恳,这样真实。他越是自卑之至,他却真的越是高贵。起先我还不知道,可是这是一个聪明办法取得的效果。在这个智力不足的贫民所建立的真实而坦率的基础上,我们的谈话反倒可以达到比和智者谈话更深的程度。还有一些客人,一般不算城市贫民,实际上他们应该算是城市贫民;无论如何可以说是世界贫民;这些客人无求于你的好客,而有求于你的大大的殷勤。他们急于得到你的帮助,却开口就说,他们下决心了,就是说,他们不想帮助自己了。我要求访客不能饿着肚子来看我,虽然也许他们有世上最好的胃口,不管他们是怎么养成这样好的胃口的。慈善事业的对象,不得称为客人。有些客人,不知道他们的访问早该结束了,我已经在料理我自己的事务,回答他们的话就愈来愈怠慢了。几乎各种智能的人在候鸟迁移的时节都来访问过我。有些人的智能是超过了他们能运用的范围的;一些逃亡的奴隶,带着种植园里的神情,不时尖起耳朵来听,好像寓言中的狐狸时时听到猎大在追踪它们,用恳求的目光看着我,好像在说,——

“啊,基督教徒,你会把我送回去吗?”其中有一个真正的逃亡者,我帮他朝北极星的那个方向逃去。有人只有一个心眼儿,像只有一只小鸡的母鸡,有人却像只有一只小鸭的母鸭;有些人千头万绪,脑子里杂乱无章,像那些要照料一百只小鸡的老母鸡,都在追逐一只小虫,每天在黎明的露水中总要丢失一二十只小鸡,——而争得它们羽毛蓬乱、污秽不堪了;此外还有一些不是用腿而是用智力走路的人,像一条智力的蜈蚣,使得你周身都发抖。有人建议我用一本签名簿来保留访客的名字,像白山那里的情形;可惜,啊!我的记忆力太好了,不需要这种东西。

我不能不发现我的访客的若干特点。女孩子,男孩子,少妇,一到森林中就很快活。他们看着湖水,看着花,觉得时间过得很愉快。一些生意人,却只感到寂寞,只想着生意经,只觉得我住得不是离这太远就是离那太远,甚至有些农民也如此,虽然他们说,他们偶尔也爱作林中闲游,其实很明显,他们并不爱好。这些焦灼安的人啊,他们的时间都花在谋生或者维持生活上了;一些牧师,开口闭口说上帝,好像这题目是他们的专利品,他们也听不见各种不同的意见;医生,律师,忙碌的管家妇则趁我不在家的时候审察我的碗橱和床铺,——不然某夫人怎样知道我的床单没有她的干净?——有些已经不再年轻的年轻人,以为跟着职业界的老路走,是最安全的办法了,——这些人一般都说我这种生活没有好处。啊,问题就在这里!那些衰老的,有病的,胆怯的人,不管他们的年龄性别,想得最多的是疾病、意外和死亡;在他们看来,生命是充满了危险的,——可如果你不去想它,那又有什么危险呢?——他们觉得,谨慎的人应当小心地挑选个最安全的地区,在那里的医生可以随唤随到。在他们看来,村子真是一个com一Munity,一个共同防护的联盟,你可以想象的,他们连采集越橘时也要带药箱去呢。这就是说,一个人如果是活着的,他就随时随地有死亡的危险,其实这样的死亡危险,由于他已经是一个活着的死人而相对地减少了。一个人闭门家中坐,跟他出外奔跑是一样危险的。最后,还有一种人,自名为改革家的,所有访客中要算他们最讨厌了,他们以为我是一直在歌唱着,——

这是我所造的屋子;

这是在我所造的屋子中生活的人;

可是他们不知道接下来的两行正是,——

而正是这些人,烦死了

住在我所造之屋中的人。我并不怕捉小鸡的老鹰,因为我没有养小鸡,可是我最怕捉人的鹫鸟。

“除开最后一种人,我还有一些更令人愉快的访客。小孩子来采浆果,铁路上的工人们穿着干净的衬衣来散步,渔人、猎户、诗人和哲学家;总之,一切老老实实的朝圣者,为了自由的缘故而到森林中来,他们真的把村子抛在后面了,我很喜欢向他们说,“欢迎啊,英国人!欢迎啊,英国人!”因为我曾经和这一个民族往来过。

 




The Bean-Field

Meanwhile my beans, the length of whose rows, added together, was seven miles already planted, were impatient to be hoed, for the earliest had grown considerably before the latest were in the ground; indeed they were not easily to be put off. What was the meaning of this so steady and self-respecting, this small Herculean labor, I knew not. I came to love my rows, my beans, though so many more than I wanted. They attached me to the earth, and so I got strength like Antaeus. But why should I raise them? Only Heaven knows. This was my curious labor all summer—to make this portion of the earth's surface, which had yielded only cinquefoil, blackberries, johnswort, and the like, before, sweet wild fruits and pleasant flowers, produce instead this pulse. What shall I learn of beans or beans of me? I cherish them, I hoe them, early and late I have an eye to them; and this is my day's work. It is a fine broad leaf to look on. My auxiliaries are the dews and rains which water this dry soil, and what fertility is in the soil itself, which for the most part is lean and effete. My enemies are worms, cool days, and most of all woodchucks. The last have nibbled for me a quarter of an acre clean. But what right had I to oust johnswort and the rest, and break up their ancient herb garden? Soon, however, the remaining beans will be too tough for them, and go forward to meet new foes.

When I was four years old, as I well remember, I was brought from Boston to this my native town, through these very woods and this field, to the pond. It is one of the oldest scenes stamped on my memory. And now to-night my flute has waked the echoes over that very water. The pines still stand here older than I; or, if some have fallen, I have cooked my supper with their stumps, and a new growth is rising all around, preparing another aspect for new infant eyes. Almost the same johnswort springs from the same perennial root in this pasture, and even I have at length helped to clothe that fabulous landscape of my infant dreams, and one of the results of my presence and influence is seen in these bean leaves, corn blades, and potato vines.

I planted about two acres and a half of upland; and as it was only about fifteen years since the land was cleared, and I myself had got out two or three cords of stumps, I did not give it any manure; but in the course of the summer it appeared by the arrowheads which I turned up in hoeing, that an extinct nation had anciently dwelt here and planted corn and beans ere white men came to clear the land, and so, to some extent, had exhausted the soil for this very crop.

Before yet any woodchuck or squirrel had run across the road, or the sun had got above the shrub oaks, while all the dew was on, though the farmers warned me against it—I would advise you to do all your work if possible while the dew is on—I began to level the ranks of haughty weeds in my bean-field and throw dust upon their heads. Early in the morning I worked barefooted, dabbling like a plastic artist in the dewy and crumbling sand, but later in the day the sun blistered my feet. There the sun lighted me to hoe beans, pacing slowly backward and forward over that yellow gravelly upland, between the long green rows, fifteen rods, the one end terminating in a shrub oak copse where I could rest in the shade, the other in a blackberry field where the green berries deepened their tints by the time I had made another bout. Removing the weeds, putting fresh soil about the bean stems, and encouraging this weed which I had sown, making the yellow soil express its summer thought in bean leaves and blossoms rather than in wormwood and piper and millet grass, making the earth say beans instead of grass—this was my daily work. As I had little aid from horses or cattle, or hired men or boys, or improved implements of husbandry, I was much slower, and became much more intimate with my beans than usual. But labor of the hands, even when pursued to the verge of drudgery, is perhaps never the worst form of idleness. It has a constant and imperishable moral, and to the scholar it yields a classic result. A very agricola laboriosus was I to travellers bound westward through Lincoln and Wayland to nobody knows where; they sitting at their ease in gigs, with elbows on knees, and reins loosely hanging in festoons; I the home-staying, laborious native of the soil. But soon my homestead was out of their sight and thought. It was the only open and cultivated field for a great distance on either side of the road, so they made the most of it; and sometimes the man in the field heard more of travellers' gossip and comment than was meant for his ear: "Beans so late! peas so late!"—for I continued to plant when others had begun to hoe—the ministerial husbandman had not suspected it. "Corn, my boy, for fodder; corn for fodder." "Does he live there?" asks the black bonnet of the gray coat; and the hard-featured farmer reins up his grateful dobbin to inquire what you are doing where he sees no manure in the furrow, and recommends a little chip dirt, or any little waste stuff, or it may be ashes or plaster. But here were two acres and a half of furrows, and only a hoe for cart and two hands to draw it—there being an aversion to other carts and horses—and chip dirt far away. Fellow-travellers as they rattled by compared it aloud with the fields which they had passed, so that I came to know how I stood in the agricultural world. This was one field not in Mr. Coleman's report. And, by the way, who estimates the value of the crop which nature yields in the still wilder fields unimproved by man? The crop of English hay is carefully weighed, the moisture calculated, the silicates and the potash; but in all dells and pond-holes in the woods and pastures and swamps grows a rich and various crop only unreaped by man. Mine was, as it were, the connecting link between wild and cultivated fields; as some states are civilized, and others half-civilized, and others savage or barbarous, so my field was, though not in a bad sense, a half-cultivated field. They were beans cheerfully returning to their wild and primitive state that I cultivated, and my hoe played the Ranz des Vaches for them.

Near at hand, upon the topmost spray of a birch, sings the brown thrasher—or red mavis, as some love to call him—all the morning, glad of your society, that would find out another farmer's field if yours were not here. While you are planting the seed, he cries—"Drop it, drop it—cover it up, cover it up—pull it up, pull it up, pull it up." But this was not corn, and so it was safe from such enemies as he. You may wonder what his rigmarole, his amateur Paganini performances on one string or on twenty, have to do with your planting, and yet prefer it to leached ashes or plaster. It was a cheap sort of top dressing in which I had entire faith.

As I drew a still fresher soil about the rows with my hoe, I disturbed the ashes of unchronicled nations who in primeval years lived under these heavens, and their small implements of war and hunting were brought to the light of this modern day. They lay mingled with other natural stones, some of which bore the marks of having been burned by Indian fires, and some by the sun, and also bits of pottery and glass brought hither by the recent cultivators of the soil. When my hoe tinkled against the stones, that music echoed to the woods and the sky, and was an accompaniment to my labor which yielded an instant and immeasurable crop. It was no longer beans that I hoed, nor I that hoed beans; and I remembered with as much pity as pride, if I remembered at all, my acquaintances who had gone to the city to attend the oratorios. The nighthawk circled overhead in the sunny afternoons—for I sometimes made a day of it—like a mote in the eye, or in heaven's eye, falling from time to time with a swoop and a sound as if the heavens were rent, torn at last to very rags and tatters, and yet a seamless cope remained; small imps that fill the air and lay their eggs on the ground on bare sand or rocks on the tops of hills, where few have found them; graceful and slender like ripples caught up from the pond, as leaves are raised by the wind to float in the heavens; such kindredship is in nature. The hawk is aerial brother of the wave which he sails over and surveys, those his perfect air-inflated wings answering to the elemental unfledged pinions of the sea. Or sometimes I watched a pair of hen-hawks circling high in the sky, alternately soaring and descending, approaching, and leaving one another, as if they were the embodiment of my own thoughts. Or I was attracted by the passage of wild pigeons from this wood to that, with a slight quivering winnowing sound and carrier haste; or from under a rotten stump my hoe turned up a sluggish portentous and outlandish spotted salamander, a trace of Egypt and the Nile, yet our contemporary. When I paused to lean on my hoe, these sounds and sights I heard and saw anywhere in the row, a part of the inexhaustible entertainment which the country offers.

On gala days the town fires its great guns, which echo like popguns to these woods, and some waifs of martial music occasionally penetrate thus far. To me, away there in my bean-field at the other end of the town, the big guns sounded as if a puffball had burst; and when there was a military turnout of which I was ignorant, I have sometimes had a vague sense all the day of some sort of itching and disease in the horizon, as if some eruption would break out there soon, either scarlatina or canker-rash, until at length some more favorable puff of wind, making haste over the fields and up the Wayland road, brought me information of the "trainers." It seemed by the distant hum as if somebody's bees had swarmed, and that the neighbors, according to Virgil's advice, by a faint tintinnabulum upon the most sonorous of their domestic utensils, were endeavoring to call them down into the hive again. And when the sound died quite away, and the hum had ceased, and the most favorable breezes told no tale, I knew that they had got the last drone of them all safely into the Middlesex hive, and that now their minds were bent on the honey with which it was smeared.

I felt proud to know that the liberties of Massachusetts and of our fatherland were in such safe keeping; and as I turned to my hoeing again I was filled with an inexpressible confidence, and pursued my labor cheerfully with a calm trust in the future.

When there were several bands of musicians, it sounded as if all the village was a vast bellows and all the buildings expanded and collapsed alternately with a din. But sometimes it was a really noble and inspiring strain that reached these woods, and the trumpet that sings of fame, and I felt as if I could spit a Mexican with a good relish—for why should we always stand for trifles?—and looked round for a woodchuck or a skunk to exercise my chivalry upon. These martial strains seemed as far away as Palestine, and reminded me of a march of crusaders in the horizon, with a slight tantivy and tremulous motion of the elm tree tops which overhang the village. This was one of the great days; though the sky had from my clearing only the same everlastingly great look that it wears daily, and I saw no difference in it.

It was a singular experience that long acquaintance which I cultivated with beans, what with planting, and hoeing, and harvesting, and threshing, and picking over and selling them—the last was the hardest of all—I might add eating, for I did taste. I was determined to know beans. When they were growing, I used to hoe from five o'clock in the morning till noon, and commonly spent the rest of the day about other affairs. Consider the intimate and curious acquaintance one makes with various kinds of weeds—it will bear some iteration in the account, for there was no little iteration in the labor—disturbing their delicate organizations so ruthlessly, and making such invidious distinctions with his hoe, levelling whole ranks of one species, and sedulously cultivating another. That's Roman wormwood—that's pigweed—that's sorrel—that's piper-grass—have at him, chop him up, turn his roots upward to the sun, don't let him have a fibre in the shade, if you do he'll turn himself t' other side up and be as green as a leek in two days. A long war, not with cranes, but with weeds, those Trojans who had sun and rain and dews on their side. Daily the beans saw me come to their rescue armed with a hoe, and thin the ranks of their enemies, filling up the trenches with weedy dead. Many a lusty crest—waving Hector, that towered a whole foot above his crowding comrades, fell before my weapon and rolled in the dust.

Those summer days which some of my contemporaries devoted to the fine arts in Boston or Rome, and others to contemplation in India, and others to trade in London or New York, I thus, with the other farmers of New England, devoted to husbandry. Not that I wanted beans to eat, for I am by nature a Pythagorean, so far as beans are concerned, whether they mean porridge or voting, and exchanged them for rice; but, perchance, as some must work in fields if only for the sake of tropes and expression, to serve a parable-maker one day. It was on the whole a rare amusement, which, continued too long, might have become a dissipation. Though I gave them no manure, and did not hoe them all once, I hoed them unusually well as far as I went, and was paid for it in the end, "there being in truth," as Evelyn says, "no compost or laetation whatsoever comparable to this continual motion, repastination, and turning of the mould with the spade." "The earth," he adds elsewhere, "especially if fresh, has a certain magnetism in it, by which it attracts the salt, power, or virtue (call it either) which gives it life, and is the logic of all the labor and stir we keep about it, to sustain us; all dungings and other sordid temperings being but the vicars succedaneous to this improvement." Moreover, this being one of those "worn-out and exhausted lay fields which enjoy their sabbath," had perchance, as Sir Kenelm Digby thinks likely, attracted "vital spirits" from the air. I harvested twelve bushels of beans.

But to be more particular, for it is complained that Mr. Coleman has reported chiefly the expensive experiments of gentlemen farmers, my outgoes were,—

For a hoe............................... $ 0.54
   Plowing, harrowing, and furrowing........  7.50  
                                     Too much.
   Beans for seed...........................  3.12-1/2
   Potatoes for seed........................  1.33
   Peas for seed............................  0.40
   Turnip seed..............................  0.06
   White line for crow fence................  0.02
   Horse cultivator and boy three hours.....  1.00
   Horse and cart to get crop...............  0.75
                                              ————
   In all.............................. $14.72-1/2

My income was (patrem familias vendacem, non emacem esse oportet), from

Nine bushels and twelve quarts of beans sold.. $16.94
  Five    "    large potatoes..................... 2.50
  Nine    "    small.............................. 2.25
  Grass........................................... 1.00
  Stalks.......................................... 0.75
                                                   ————
      In all.................................... $23.44
  Leaving a pecuniary profit,
      as I have elsewhere said, of.............. $8.71-1/2

This is the result of my experience in raising beans: Plant the common small white bush bean about the first of June, in rows three feet by eighteen inches apart, being careful to select fresh round and unmixed seed. First look out for worms, and supply vacancies by planting anew. Then look out for woodchucks, if it is an exposed place, for they will nibble off the earliest tender leaves almost clean as they go; and again, when the young tendrils make their appearance, they have notice of it, and will shear them off with both buds and young pods, sitting erect like a squirrel. But above all harvest as early as possible, if you would escape frosts and have a fair and salable crop; you may save much loss by this means.

This further experience also I gained: I said to myself, I will not plant beans and corn with so much industry another summer, but such seeds, if the seed is not lost, as sincerity, truth, simplicity, faith, innocence, and the like, and see if they will not grow in this soil, even with less toil and manurance, and sustain me, for surely it has not been exhausted for these crops. Alas! I said this to myself; but now another summer is gone, and another, and another, and I am obliged to say to you, Reader, that the seeds which I planted, if indeed they were the seeds of those virtues, were wormeaten or had lost their vitality, and so did not come up. Commonly men will only be brave as their fathers were brave, or timid. This generation is very sure to plant corn and beans each new year precisely as the Indians did centuries ago and taught the first settlers to do, as if there were a fate in it. I saw an old man the other day, to my astonishment, making the holes with a hoe for the seventieth time at least, and not for himself to lie down in! But why should not the New Englander try new adventures, and not lay so much stress on his grain, his potato and grass crop, and his orchards—raise other crops than these? Why concern ourselves so much about our beans for seed, and not be concerned at all about a new generation of men? We should really be fed and cheered if when we met a man we were sure to see that some of the qualities which I have named, which we all prize more than those other productions, but which are for the most part broadcast and floating in the air, had taken root and grown in him. Here comes such a subtile and ineffable quality, for instance, as truth or justice, though the slightest amount or new variety of it, along the road. Our ambassadors should be instructed to send home such seeds as these, and Congress help to distribute them over all the land. We should never stand upon ceremony with sincerity. We should never cheat and insult and banish one another by our meanness, if there were present the kernel of worth and friendliness. We should not meet thus in haste. Most men I do not meet at all, for they seem not to have time; they are busy about their beans. We would not deal with a man thus plodding ever, leaning on a hoe or a spade as a staff between his work, not as a mushroom, but partially risen out of the earth, something more than erect, like swallows alighted and walking on the ground:—

"And as he spake, his wings would now and then
   Spread, as he meant to fly, then close again—"

so that we should suspect that we might be conversing with an angel. Bread may not always nourish us; but it always does us good, it even takes stiffness out of our joints, and makes us supple and buoyant, when we knew not what ailed us, to recognize any generosity in man or Nature, to share any unmixed and heroic joy.

Ancient poetry and mythology suggest, at least, that husbandry was once a sacred art; but it is pursued with irreverent haste and heedlessness by us, our object being to have large farms and large crops merely. We have no festival, nor procession, nor ceremony, not excepting our cattle-shows and so-called Thanksgivings, by which the farmer expresses a sense of the sacredness of his calling, or is reminded of its sacred origin. It is the premium and the feast which tempt him. He sacrifices not to Ceres and the Terrestrial Jove, but to the infernal Plutus rather. By avarice and selfishness, and a grovelling habit, from which none of us is free, of regarding the soil as property, or the means of acquiring property chiefly, the landscape is deformed, husbandry is degraded with us, and the farmer leads the meanest of lives. He knows Nature but as a robber. Cato says that the profits of agriculture are particularly pious or just (maximeque pius quaestus), and according to Varro the old Romans "called the same earth Mother and Ceres, and thought that they who cultivated it led a pious and useful life, and that they alone were left of the race of King Saturn."

We are wont to forget that the sun looks on our cultivated fields and on the prairies and forests without distinction. They all reflect and absorb his rays alike, and the former make but a small part of the glorious picture which he beholds in his daily course. In his view the earth is all equally cultivated like a garden. Therefore we should receive the benefit of his light and heat with a corresponding trust and magnanimity. What though I value the seed of these beans, and harvest that in the fall of the year? This broad field which I have looked at so long looks not to me as the principal cultivator, but away from me to influences more genial to it, which water and make it green. These beans have results which are not harvested by me. Do they not grow for woodchucks partly? The ear of wheat (in Latin spica, obsoletely speca, from spe, hope) should not be the only hope of the husbandman; its kernel or grain (granum from gerendo, bearing) is not all that it bears. How, then, can our harvest fail? Shall I not rejoice also at the abundance of the weeds whose seeds are the granary of the birds? It matters little comparatively whether the fields fill the farmer's barns. The true husbandman will cease from anxiety, as the squirrels manifest no concern whether the woods will bear chestnuts this year or not, and finish his labor with every day, relinquishing all claim to the produce of his fields, and sacrificing in his mind not only his first but his last fruits also.

 

种 豆

这时我的豆子,已经种好了的一行一行地加起来,长度总有七英里了吧,急待锄草松土,因为最后一批还没播种下去,最先一批已经长得很不错了;真是不容再拖延的了。这一桩赫拉克勒斯的小小劳役,干得这样卖力,这样自尊,到底有什么意思呢,我还不知道。我爱上了我的一行行的豆子,虽然它们已经超出我的需要很多了。它们使我爱上了我的土地,因此我得到了力量,像安泰一样。可是我为什么要种豆呢?只有天晓得。整个夏天,我都这样奇妙地劳动着——在大地表皮的这一块上,以前只长洋莓,狗尾草,黑莓之类,以及甜蜜的野果子和好看的花朵,而现在却让它来生长豆子了。我从豆子能学到什么,豆于从我身上又能学到什么呢?我珍爱它们,我为它们松土锄草,从早到晚照管它们;这算是我一天的工作。阔大的叶子真好看。我的助手是滋润这干燥泥土的露水和雨点。而泥土本身又含有何等的肥料,虽说其中有大部分土地是贫瘠和枯竭的。虫子,寒冷的日子,尤其土拨鼠则是我的敌人。土拨鼠吃光了我一英亩地的四分之一。可是我又有什么权利拔除狗尾草之类的植物,毁坏它们自古以来的百草园呢?好在剩下的豆子立刻就会长得十分茁壮,可以去对付一些新的敌人了。

我记得很清楚,我四岁的时候,从波士顿迁移到我这个家乡来,曾经经过这座森林和这片土地,还到过湖边。这是铭刻在我记忆中的往日最早的景象之一。今夜,我的笛声又唤醒了这同一湖水的回声。松树还站在那里,年龄比我大;或者,有的已被砍伐了,我用它们的根来煮饭,新的松树已在四周生长,给新一代人的眼睛以别一番的展望。就从这牧场上的同一根多年老根上又长出了几乎是同样的狗尾草,甚至我后来都还给我几时梦境中神话般的风景添上一袭新装,要知道我重返这里之后所发生的影响,请瞧这些豆子的叶子,玉米的尖叶以及土豆藤。我大约种了两英亩半的冈地;这片地大约十五年前还被砍伐过一次,我挖出了两三“考德”的树根来,我没有施肥;在这个夏天的那些日子里,我锄地时还翻起了一些箭头来,看来从前,在白人来砍伐之前,就有一个已经消失了的古代民族曾在这里住过,还种过玉米和豆子吧,所以,在一定程度上,他们已经耗尽了地力,有过收获了。

还在任何土拨鼠或松鼠窜过大路,或在太阳升上橡树矮林之前,当时一切都披着露珠,我就开始在豆田里拔去那高傲的败草,并且把泥土堆到它们上面,虽然有些农民不让我这样做,——可我还是劝你们尽可能趁有露水时把一切工作都做完。一清早,我赤脚工作,像一个造型的艺术家,在承露的粉碎的沙土中弄泥巴,日上三竿以后,太阳就要晒得我的脚上起泡了。太阳照射着我锄耨,我慢慢地在那黄沙的冈地上,在那长十五杆的一行行的绿叶丛中来回走动,它一端延伸到一座矮橡林为止,我常常休息在它的浓荫下;另一端延伸到一块浆果田边,我每走一个来回,总能看到那里的青色的浆果颜色又微微加深了一些。我除草根又在豆茎周围培新土,帮助我所种植的作物滋长,使这片黄土不是以苦艾、芦管、黍粟,而是以豆叶与豆花来表达它夏日幽思的。——这就是我每天的工作。因为我没有牛马,雇工或小孩的帮助,也没有改良的农具,我就特别地慢,也因此我跟豆子特别亲呢了。用手工作,到了做苦工的程度,总不能算懒惰的一种最差的形式了吧。这中间便有一个常青的、不可磨灭的真理,对学者而言,是带有古典哲学的意味的。和那些向西穿过林肯

和魏兰德到谁也不知道的地方去的旅行家相比,我就成了一个agricola laboriosus了;他们悠闲地坐在马车上,手肘放在膝盖上,疆绳松弛地垂成花饰;我却是泥土上工作的、家居的劳工。可是,我的家宅田地很快就落在他们的视线和思想之外了。因为大路两侧很长一段路上,只有我这块土地是耕植了的,自然特别引起他们注意;有时候在这块地里工作的人,听到他们的批评。那是不打算让他听见的,“豆子种得这样晚!豌豆也种晚了!”——因为别人已经开始锄地了,我却还在播种——我这业余性质的农民想也没想到过这些。“这些作物,我的孩子,只能给家畜吃的;给家畜吃的作物!”“他住在这里吗?”那穿灰色上衣戴黑色帽于的人说了;于是那口音严厉的农夫勒住他那匹感激的老马询问我,你在这里干什么,犁沟中怎么没有施肥,他提出来,应该撤些细未子的垃圾,任何废物都可以,或者灰烬,或者灰泥。可是,这里只有两英亩半犁沟,只有一把锄代替马,用两只手拖的,——我又不喜欢马车和马,——而细未子的垃圾又很远。驾车辚辚经过的一些旅行者把这块地同他们一路上所看见的,大声大气地作比较,这就使我知道我在农业世界中的地位了。这一块田地是不在柯尔门先生的报告中的。可是,顺便说一说,大自然在更荒凉的、未经人们改进的地面上所生产的谷物,谁又会去计算出它们的价值来呢?英格兰干草给小心地称过,还计算了其中的湿度和硅酸盐、碳酸钾;可是在一切的山谷、洼地、林木、牧场和沼泽地带都生长着丰富而多样的谷物,人们只是没有去收割罢了。我的呢,正好像是介乎野生的和开垦的两者之间;正如有些是开化国,有些半开化国,另一些却是野蛮国,我的田地可以称为半开化的田地,虽然这并不是从坏的意义上来说。那些豆子很快乐地回到了我培育它们的野生的原始状态去,而我的锄头就给他们高唱了牧歌。

在附近的一棵白桦树顶有棕色的歌雀——有人管它叫做红眉鸟——歌唱了一整个早晨,很愿意跟你作伴。如果你的农田不在这里,它就会飞到另一个农夫的田里去。你播种的时候,它叫起来,“丢,丢,丢了它,——遮,遮,遮起来,——拉,拉,拉上去。”可这里种的不是玉米,不会有像它那样的敌人来吃庄稼。你也许会觉得奇怪,它那无稽之歌,像用一根琴弦或二十根琴弦作的业余帕格尼尼式的演奏,跟你的播种有什么关系。可是你宁可听歌而不去准备灰烬或灰泥了。这些是我最信赖的,最便宜的一种上等肥料。

当我用锄头在犁沟边翻出新土时,我把古代曾在这个天空下居住过的一个史籍没有记载的民族所留下的灰烬翻起来了,他们作战狩猎用的小武器也就暴露在近代的阳光下。它们和另外一些天然石块混在一起,有些石块还留着给印第安人用火烧过的痕迹,有些给太阳晒过,还有一些陶器和玻璃,则大约是近代的耕种者的残迹了。当我的锄头叮当地打在石头上,音乐之声传到了树林和天空中,我的劳役有了这样的伴奏,立刻生产了无法计量的收获。我所种的不是豆子,也不是我在种豆;当时我又怜悯又骄做地记起来了,如果我确实记起来的话,我记起了我一些相识的人特地到城里听清唱剧去了。而在这艳阳天的下午,夜鹰在我头顶的上空盘旋,——我有时整天地工作,——它好像是我眼睛里的一粒沙,或者说落在天空的眼睛里的一粒沙,它时而侧翼下降,大叫一声,天空便好像给划破了,最后似裂成破布一样,但苍穹依然是一条细缝也没有;空中飞着不少小小的精灵,在地上、黄沙或岩石上、山顶上下了许多蛋,很少有人看到过的;它们美丽而细长,像湖水卷起的涟漪,又像给凤吹到空中的升腾的树叶;在大自然里有的是这样声气相投的因缘。鹰是波浪的空中兄弟,它在波浪之上飞行视察,在空中扑击的完美的鹰翅,如在酬答海洋那元素的没有羽毛的翅膀。有时我看着一对鹞鹰在高空中盘旋,一上一下,一近一远,好像它们是我自己的思想的化身。或者我给一群野鸽子吸引住了,看它们从这一个树林飞到那一个树林,带着一些儿嗡嗡的微颤的声音,急遽地飞过;有时我的锄头从烂树桩下挖出了一条蝾螈来,一副迂缓的奇怪的、丑陋的模样,还是埃及和尼罗河的残迹,却又和我们同时代了。当我停下来,靠在我的锄头上,这些声音和景象是我站在犁沟中任何一个地方都能听到看到的,这是乡间生活中具有无穷兴会的一部分。

在节庆日,城里放了礼炮,传到森林中来很像气枪,有时飘来的一些军乐声也传得这样远。我远在城外的豆田之中,听大炮的声音好像尘菌在爆裂;如果军队出动了,而我又不知道是怎么回事,我就整天恍恍惚惚感到地平线似乎痒痒麻麻的,仿佛快要出疹子似的,也许是猩红热,也许是马蹄癌,直到后来又有一些好风吹过大地,吹上魏兰德大公路,把训练者的消息带给了我。远远有营营之声,好像谁家的蜜蜂出窝了,因此邻人们依照维吉尔的办法,拿出了声音最响的锅壶之属来轻轻敲击,呼唤它们回蜂房去。等到那声音没有了,营营之声也住了,最柔和的微风也不讲故事了,我知道人们已经把最后一只雄峰也安然赶回米德尔塞克斯的蜂房了,现在他们在考虑涂满蜂房的蜂蜜了。

我感到骄做,知道马萨诸塞州和我们的祖国的自由是这样安全;当我回身再耕种的时候,我就充满了不可言喻的自信,平静地怀抱着对未来的希望,继续我的劳动。

要是有几个乐队在演奏着啊,整个村子就好像是一只大风箱了,一切建筑物交替地在嚣音之中一会儿扩张,一会儿坍下。然而有时传到林中来的是真正崇高而兴奋的乐句,喇叭歌唱着荣誉,我觉得自己仿佛可以痛痛快快地用刀刺杀一个墨西哥人,——我们为什么常要容忍一些琐碎事物?——我就四处寻找土拨鼠和鼬鼠,很想表演我的骑士精神。这种军乐的旋律遥远得像在巴勒斯坦一样,使我想起十字军在地平线上行进,犹如垂在村子上空的榆树之巅微微摇曳和颤动的动作。这是伟大的一天啊,虽然我从林中空地看天空,还和每天一样,是同样无穷尽的苍穹,我看不出有什么不同。

种豆以来,我就和豆子相处,天长日久了,得到不少专门经验,关于种植,锄地,收获,打场,拣拾,出卖,——最后这一种尤其困难,——我不妨再加上一个吃,我还吃了豆子,尝了味道的。

我是决心要了解豆子的。在它们生长的时候,我常常从早晨五点钟锄到正午,通常是用这天剩余时间来对付别的事情。想想,人跟各种杂草都还可以结交得很亲热很奇异呢,——说起这些来是怪累赘的,劳动的时候这些杂草已经够累赘的了,——把一种草全部捣毁,蛮横地摧残了它们的纤细的组织,锄头还要仔细地区别它们,为了把另一种草来培养。这是罗马艾草,——这是猪猡草,——这是酢酱草,——这是芦苇草,——抓住它,拔起它,把它的根翻起来,暴露在太阳下,别让一根纤维留在荫影中间,要不然,它就侧着身子爬起来,两天以后,就又青得像韭菜一样。这是一场长期战争,不是对付鹤,而是对付败草,这一群有太阳和雨露帮忙的特洛伊人。豆子每天都看到我带了锄头来助战,把它们的敌人杀伤了,战壕里填满了败草的尸体。有好些盔饰飘摇、结实强壮的海克脱,比这成群的同伴们高出一英尺的,也都在我的武器之下倒毙而滚入尘埃中去了。

在这炎夏的日子里,我同时代的人有的在波士顿或罗马,献身于美术,有的在印度,思索着,还有的在伦敦或纽约,做生意,我这人却跟新英格兰的其他农夫们一样,献身于农事。这样做并不是为了要吃豆子,我这人天性上属于毕达哥拉斯一派,至少在种豆子这件事上是如此。管它是为了吃,或为了选票,或为了换大米,也许只是为了给将来一个寓言家用吧,为了譬喻或影射,总得有人在地里劳动。总的说来,这是一种少有的欢乐,纵然继续得太久了,也要引起虚掷光阴的损失。虽然我没有给它们施肥,也没有给它们全部都锄一遍草、松一遍土,但我常常尽我的能力给它们锄草松土,结果是颇有好处的,“这是真的,”正像爱芙琳说过的,“任何混合肥料或粪肥都比不上不断地挥锄舞铲,把泥上来翻身。”“土地,”他还在另一个地方写着,“特别是新鲜的土地,其中有相当的磁力,可以吸引盐、力,或美德(随便你怎样称呼吧)来加强它的生命,土地也是劳力的对象,我们在土地上的所有活动养活了我们,一切粪肥和其他的恶臭的东西只不过是此种改进的代用品而已。”况且,这块地只是那些“正在享受安息日的耗尽地力、不堪利用的土地”,也许像凯南尔姆·狄格贝爵士想过的,已经从空气中吸取了“有生的力量”。我一共收获了十二蒲式耳的豆子。

为了更仔细起见,也因为柯尔门先生所报告的主要是有身份的农夫的豪华的试验,曾有人表示不满,现将我的收入支出列表如下:

一柄锄头…………………O·五四

耕耘挖沟…………………七·五0——过昂了

豆种子……………………三·一二五

土豆种子…………………一·三三

豌豆种子…………………O·四0

萝卜种子…………………O·O六

篱笆白线…………………O·o二

耕马及三小时雇工………一.OO

收获时用马及车…………0·七五

共计…………………一四·七二五元我的收入(patremfamillias vendacem,non emacem esseoportet),来自卖出九蒲式耳十二

夸特之豆………………一六·九四

五蒲式耳大土豆……………二·五0

九蒲式耳小土豆……………二·二五

草……………………………一·OO

茎……………………………O·七五

共计………………………二三·四四元

赢余(正如我在别

处所说……………………八·七一五元

这就是我种豆经验的结果:约在六月一日,播下那小小的白色的豆种,三英尺长十八英寸的间距,种成行列,挑选的是那新鲜的、圆的、没有掺杂的种子。要注意虫子,再在没有出苗的位置上补种苗。然后提防土拨鼠,那片田地如果曝露在外,它们会把刚刚生长出来的嫩叶子一口气都啃光的;而且,在嫩卷须延展出来之后,它们还是会注意到的,它们会直坐着,像松鼠一样,把蓓蕾和初生的豆荚一起啃掉。尤其要紧的是,如果你要它避免霜冻,并且容易把豆子卖掉,那你就尽可能早点收获;这样便可以使你免掉许多损失。

我还获得了下面的更丰富的经验:我对我自己说,下一个夏天,我不要花那么大的劳力来种豆子和玉米了,我将种这样一些种子,像诚实,真理,纯朴,信心,天真等等,如果这些种子并没有失落,看看它们能否在这片土地上生长,能否以较少劳力和肥料,来维持我的生活,因为,地力一定还没有消耗到不能种这些东西。唉!我对自己说过这些话,可是,现在又一个夏季过去了,而且又一个又一个地都过去了,我不得不告诉你们,读者啊,我所种下的种子,如果是这些美德的种子,那就都给虫子吃掉了,或者是已失去了生机,都没有长出苗来呢。人通常只能像他们的祖先一样勇敢或怯懦。这一代人每一年所种的玉米和豆子,必然和印第安人在几个世纪之前所种的一样,那是他们教给最初来到的移民的,仿佛命该如此,难以改变了。有一天,我还看见过一个老头子,使我惊讶不已,他用一把锄头挖洞至少挖了第七十次了,但他自己却不预备躺在里面。为什么新英格兰人不应该尝试尝试新的事业,不要过分地看重他的玉米,他的土豆、草料和他的果园,——而种植一些别的东西呢?为什么偏要这样关心豆子的种子而一点也不关心新一代的人类呢?我前面说起的那些品德,我们认为它们高于其他产物,如果我们遇到一个人,看到他具有我说到过的那些品德,那些飘荡四散于空中的品德已经在他那里扎根而且生长了,那时我们真应该感到满意和高兴。这里来了这样一种难以捉摸而且不可言喻的品德,例如真理或公正,虽然量极少,虽然还是一个新的品种,然而它是沿着大路而来了。我们的大使应该接到一些训令,去选择好品种,寄回国内来,然后我们的国会把它们分发到全国各地去种植。我们不应该虚伪地对待真诚。如果高贵与友情的精华已为我们所有,我们绝对不应该再让我们的卑鄙来互相欺骗、互相侮辱、排斥彼此。我们也不应该匆忙相见。大多数人我根本没有见过,似乎他们没有时间,他们忙着他们的豆子呢。我们不要跟这样的忙人往来,他在工作间歇时倚身在锄头上或铲子上,仿佛倚身在手杖上,不像一只香菌,却只有一部分是从土地中升起来的,不完全是笔直的,像燕子停落下来,在大地上行走着,——

“说话时,他的翅膀不时张开,

像要飞动,却又垂下了,——”

害得我们以为我们许是在跟一个天使谈话。面包可能并不总是滋养我们;却总于我们有益,能把我们关节中的僵硬消除,使我们柔软而活泼,甚至在我们不知道患了什么病症的时候,使我们从大自然及人间都找到仁慈,享受到任何精纯而强烈的欢乐。

古代的诗歌和神话至少提示过,农事曾经是一种神圣的艺术,但我们匆促而杂乱,我们的目标只是大田园和大丰收。我们没有节庆的日子,没有仪式,没有行列了,连耕牛大会及感恩节也不例外,农民本来是用这种形式来表示他这职业的神圣意味的,或者是用来追溯农事的神圣起源的。现在是报酬和一顿大嚼在吸引他们了。现在他献牺牲不献给色列斯,不献给约夫了,他献给普鲁都斯这恶神了。由于我们没有一个人能摆脱掉的贪婪、自私和一个卑辱的习惯,把土地看作财产,或者是获得财产的主要手段,风景给破坏了,农事跟我们一样变得低下,农民过着最屈辱的生活。他了解的大自然,如同一个强盗所了解的那样。卡托说过农业的利益是特别虔敬而且正直的(maximeque pius quaestus),照伐洛说,古罗马的人“把地母和色列斯唤为同名,他们认为从事耕作的人过的是一个虔敬而有用的生活,只有他们才是农神的遗民”。

我们常常忘掉,太阳照在我们耕作过的田地和照在草原和森林上一样,是不分轩轾的。它们都反射并吸收了它的光线,前者只是它每天眺望的图画中的一小部分。在它看来,大地都给耕作得像花园一样。因此,我们接受它的光与热,同时也接受了它的信任与大度。我看重豆子的种子,到秋田里有了收获,又怎么样呢?我望了这么久广阔田地,广阔田地却并不当我是主要的耕种者,它撇开我,去看那些给它洒水,使它发绿的更友好的影响。豆子的成果并不由我来收获。它们不是有一部分为土拨鼠生长的吗?麦穗(拉丁文spica,古文作speca,语源spe是希望的意思),不仅是农夫的希望;它的核仁,或者说,谷物(granum,语源gerendo是生产的意思)也不是它的生产之全部。那未,我们怎会歉收呢?难道我们不应该为败草的丰收而欢喜,因为它们的种子是鸟雀的粮食?大地的生产是否堆满了农夫的仓库,相对来说,这是小事。真正的农夫不必焦形于色,就像那些松鼠,根本是不关心今年的树林会不会生产栗子的,真正的农夫整天劳动,并不要求土地的生产品属于他所占有,在他的心里,他不仅应该贡献第一个果实,还应该献出他的最后一个果实。




The Village

After hoeing, or perhaps reading and writing, in the forenoon, I usually bathed again in the pond, swimming across one of its coves for a stint, and washed the dust of labor from my person, or smoothed out the last wrinkle which study had made, and for the afternoon was absolutely free. Every day or two I strolled to the village to hear some of the gossip which is incessantly going on there, circulating either from mouth to mouth, or from newspaper to newspaper, and which, taken in homoeopathic doses, was really as refreshing in its way as the rustle of leaves and the peeping of frogs. As I walked in the woods to see the birds and squirrels, so I walked in the village to see the men and boys; instead of the wind among the pines I heard the carts rattle. In one direction from my house there was a colony of muskrats in the river meadows; under the grove of elms and buttonwoods in the other horizon was a village of busy men, as curious to me as if they had been prairie-dogs, each sitting at the mouth of its burrow, or running over to a neighbor's to gossip. I went there frequently to observe their habits. The village appeared to me a great news room; and on one side, to support it, as once at Redding & Company's on State Street, they kept nuts and raisins, or salt and meal and other groceries. Some have such a vast appetite for the former commodity, that is, the news, and such sound digestive organs, that they can sit forever in public avenues without stirring, and let it simmer and whisper through them like the Etesian winds, or as if inhaling ether, it only producing numbness and insensibility to pain—otherwise it would often be painful to bear—without affecting the consciousness. I hardly ever failed, when I rambled through the village, to see a row of such worthies, either sitting on a ladder sunning themselves, with their bodies inclined forward and their eyes glancing along the line this way and that, from time to time, with a voluptuous expression, or else leaning against a barn with their hands in their pockets, like caryatides, as if to prop it up. They, being commonly out of doors, heard whatever was in the wind. These are the coarsest mills, in which all gossip is first rudely digested or cracked up before it is emptied into finer and more delicate hoppers within doors. I observed that the vitals of the village were the grocery, the bar-room, the post-office, and the bank; and, as a necessary part of the machinery, they kept a bell, a big gun, and a fire-engine, at convenient places; and the houses were so arranged as to make the most of mankind, in lanes and fronting one another, so that every traveller had to run the gauntlet, and every man, woman, and child might get a lick at him. Of course, those who were stationed nearest to the head of the line, where they could most see and be seen, and have the first blow at him, paid the highest prices for their places; and the few straggling inhabitants in the outskirts, where long gaps in the line began to occur, and the traveller could get over walls or turn aside into cow-paths, and so escape, paid a very slight ground or window tax. Signs were hung out on all sides to allure him; some to catch him by the appetite, as the tavern and victualling cellar; some by the fancy, as the dry goods store and the jeweller's; and others by the hair or the feet or the skirts, as the barber, the shoemaker, or the tailor. Besides, there was a still more terrible standing invitation to call at every one of these houses, and company expected about these times. For the most part I escaped wonderfully from these dangers, either by proceeding at once boldly and without deliberation to the goal, as is recommended to those who run the gauntlet, or by keeping my thoughts on high things, like Orpheus, who, "loudly singing the praises of the gods to his lyre, drowned the voices of the Sirens, and kept out of danger." Sometimes I bolted suddenly, and nobody could tell my whereabouts, for I did not stand much about gracefulness, and never hesitated at a gap in a fence. I was even accustomed to make an irruption into some houses, where I was well entertained, and after learning the kernels and very last sieveful of news—what had subsided, the prospects of war and peace, and whether the world was likely to hold together much longer—I was let out through the rear avenues, and so escaped to the woods again.

It was very pleasant, when I stayed late in town, to launch myself into the night, especially if it was dark and tempestuous, and set sail from some bright village parlor or lecture room, with a bag of rye or Indian meal upon my shoulder, for my snug harbor in the woods, having made all tight without and withdrawn under hatches with a merry crew of thoughts, leaving only my outer man at the helm, or even tying up the helm when it was plain sailing. I had many a genial thought by the cabin fire "as I sailed." I was never cast away nor distressed in any weather, though I encountered some severe storms. It is darker in the woods, even in common nights, than most suppose. I frequently had to look up at the opening between the trees above the path in order to learn my route, and, where there was no cart-path, to feel with my feet the faint track which I had worn, or steer by the known relation of particular trees which I felt with my hands, passing between two pines for instance, not more than eighteen inches apart, in the midst of the woods, invariably, in the darkest night. Sometimes, after coming home thus late in a dark and muggy night, when my feet felt the path which my eyes could not see, dreaming and absent-minded all the way, until I was aroused by having to raise my hand to lift the latch, I have not been able to recall a single step of my walk, and I have thought that perhaps my body would find its way home if its master should forsake it, as the hand finds its way to the mouth without assistance. Several times, when a visitor chanced to stay into evening, and it proved a dark night, I was obliged to conduct him to the cart-path in the rear of the house, and then point out to him the direction he was to pursue, and in keeping which he was to be guided rather by his feet than his eyes. One very dark night I directed thus on their way two young men who had been fishing in the pond. They lived about a mile off through the woods, and were quite used to the route. A day or two after one of them told me that they wandered about the greater part of the night, close by their own premises, and did not get home till toward morning, by which time, as there had been several heavy showers in the meanwhile, and the leaves were very wet, they were drenched to their skins. I have heard of many going astray even in the village streets, when the darkness was so thick that you could cut it with a knife, as the saying is. Some who live in the outskirts, having come to town a-shopping in their wagons, have been obliged to put up for the night; and gentlemen and ladies making a call have gone half a mile out of their way, feeling the sidewalk only with their feet, and not knowing when they turned. It is a surprising and memorable, as well as valuable experience, to be lost in the woods any time. Often in a snow-storm, even by day, one will come out upon a well-known road and yet find it impossible to tell which way leads to the village. Though he knows that he has travelled it a thousand times, he cannot recognize a feature in it, but it is as strange to him as if it were a road in Siberia. By night, of course, the perplexity is infinitely greater. In our most trivial walks, we are constantly, though unconsciously, steering like pilots by certain well-known beacons and headlands, and if we go beyond our usual course we still carry in our minds the bearing of some neighboring cape; and not till we are completely lost, or turned round—for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost—do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of nature. Every man has to learn the points of compass again as often as he awakes, whether from sleep or any abstraction. Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.

One afternoon, near the end of the first summer, when I went to the village to get a shoe from the cobbler's, I was seized and put into jail, because, as I have elsewhere related, I did not pay a tax to, or recognize the authority of, the State which buys and sells men, women, and children, like cattle, at the door of its senate-house. I had gone down to the woods for other purposes. But, wherever a man goes, men will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate odd-fellow society. It is true, I might have resisted forcibly with more or less effect, might have run "amok" against society; but I preferred that society should run "amok" against me, it being the desperate party. However, I was released the next day, obtained my mended shoe, and returned to the woods in season to get my dinner of huckleberries on Fair Haven Hill. I was never molested by any person but those who represented the State. I had no lock nor bolt but for the desk which held my papers, not even a nail to put over my latch or windows. I never fastened my door night or day, though I was to be absent several days; not even when the next fall I spent a fortnight in the woods of Maine. And yet my house was more respected than if it had been surrounded by a file of soldiers. The tired rambler could rest and warm himself by my fire, the literary amuse himself with the few books on my table, or the curious, by opening my closet door, see what was left of my dinner, and what prospect I had of a supper. Yet, though many people of every class came this way to the pond, I suffered no serious inconvenience from these sources, and I never missed anything but one small book, a volume of Homer, which perhaps was improperly gilded, and this I trust a soldier of our camp has found by this time. I am convinced, that if all men were to live as simply as I then did, thieving and robbery would be unknown. These take place only in communities where some have got more than is sufficient while others have not enough. The Pope's Homers would soon get properly distributed.

"Nec bella fuerunt,
   Faginus astabat dum scyphus ante dapes."

   "Nor wars did men molest,
   When only beechen bowls were in request."

"You who govern public affairs, what need have you to employ punishments? Love virtue, and the people will be virtuous. The virtues of a superior man are like the wind; the virtues of a common man are like the grass—the grass, when the wind passes over it, bends."

 

村 子

锄地之后,上午也许读读书,写写字,我通常还要在湖水中再洗个澡,游泳经过一个小湾,这却是最大限度了,从我身体上洗去了劳动的尘垢,或者除去了阅读致成的最后一条皱纹,我在下午是很自由的。每天或隔天,我散步到村子里去,听听那些永无止境的闲话,或者是口口相传的,或者是报纸上互相转载的,如用顺势疗法小剂量的接受它们,的确也很新鲜,犹如树叶的瑟瑟有声和青蛙的咯咯而呜。正像我散步在森林中时,爱看鸟雀和松鼠一样,我散步在村中,爱看一些男人和孩童;听不到松涛和风声了,我却听到了辚辚的车马声。从我的屋子向着一个方向望过去,河畔的草地上,有着一个麝鼠的聚居地;而在另一个地平线上,榆树和悬铃木底下,却有一个满是忙人的村子,使我发生了好奇之心,仿佛他们是大草原上的狗,不是坐在他们的兽穴的人口,便是奔到邻家闲谈去了。我时常到村子里去观察他们的习惯。在我看来,村子像一个极大的新闻编辑室,在它的一边支持它的,仿佛国务街上的里亭出版公司的情形,是他们出售干果,葡萄干,盐,玉米粉,以及其他的食品杂货。有些人,对于前一种的商品,即新闻,是胃口大,消化能力也一样大的,他们能永远一动不动地坐在街道上,听那些新闻像地中海季风般沸腾着,私语着吹过他们,或者可以说,他们像吸入了一些只是产生局部麻醉作用的乙醚,因此意识还是清醒的,苦痛却被麻痹了,——要不然有一些新闻,听到了是要使人苦痛的。每当我倘徉经过那村子的时候,没有一次不看到这些宝贝一排排坐在石阶上晒太阳,身子微偏向前,他们的眼睛时不时地带着淫欲的表情向这边或那边瞟一眼,要不然便是身子倚在一个谷仓上,两手插在裤袋里,像女像柱在支撑着它似的。他们因为一般都在露天,凤中吹过的什么都听见了。这些是最粗的磨坊,凡有流长飞短的闲话都经他们第一道碾过,然后进入户内,倾倒入更精细的漏斗中去。我观察到村中最有生气的是食品杂货店,酒吧间,邮政局和银行;此外像机器中少不了的零件,还有一只大钟,一尊大炮,一辆救火车,都放在适当的地方;为了尽量利用人类的特点,房屋都面对面地排成巷子,任何旅行者都不得不受到夹道鞭打,男女老少都可以揍他一顿。自然,有一些安置在最靠近巷子口上的人最先看到的,也最先被看到,是第一个动手揍他的,所以要付最高的房租了;而少数零零落落散居在村外的居民,在他们那儿开始有很长的间隙,旅行者可以越墙而过,或抄小路逃走掉的,他们自然只付很少一笔地租或窗税。四面挂起了招牌,引诱着他,有的在胃口上把他抓住了,那便是酒店和食品店;有的抓住他的幻觉,如干货店和珠宝店,有的抓住他的头发,或他的脚或他的下摆,那些是理发店,鞋于店和成衣店。此外,还有一个更可怕的危险,老是要你挨户逐屋地访问,而且在这种场合里总有不少人。大体说来,这一切危险,我都能够很巧妙地逃避过去,或者我立刻勇往直前,走向我的目的地,毫不犹豫,那些遭到夹道鞭打的人实在应该采取我的办法,或者我一心一意地想着崇高的事物,像俄耳甫斯,“弹奏着七弦琴,高歌诸神之赞美诗,把妖女的歌声压过,因此没有遭难。”有时候,我闪电似的溜走了,没有人知道我在哪里,因为我不大在乎礼貌,篱笆上有了洞,我不觉得有犹豫的必要。我甚至还习惯于闯进一些人的家里去,那里招待得我很好,就在听取了最后一些精选的新闻之后,知道了刚平息下来的事情,战争与和平的前景,世界还能够合作多久,我就从后面几条路溜掉,又逸入我的森林中间了。

当我在城里待到了很晚的时候,才出发回入黑夜之中,这是很愉快的,特别在那些墨黑的、有风暴的夜晚,我从一个光亮的村屋或演讲厅里开航,在肩上带了一袋黑麦或印第安玉米粉,驶进林中我那安乐的港埠,外面的一切都牢靠了,带着快乐的思想退到甲板下面,只留我的外表的人把着舵,但要是航道平静,我索性用绳子把舵拴死了。当我航行的时候,烤着舱中的火炉,我得到了许多欢欣的思想。任何气候,我都不会忧悒,都不感悲怆,虽然我遇到过几个凶恶的风景。就是在平常的晚上,森林里也比你们想象的来得更黑。在最黑的夜晚,我常常只好看那树叶空隙间的天空,一面走,一面这样认路,走到一些没有车道的地方,还只能用我的脚来探索我自己走出来的道路,有时我用手来摸出几枝熟悉的树,这样才能辨向航行,譬如,从两枝松树中间穿过,它们中间的距离不过十八英寸,总是在森林中央。有时,在一个墨黑而潮湿的夜晚,很晚地回来,我的脚摸索着眼睛看不到的道路,我的心却一路都心不在焉,像在做梦似的,突然我不得不伸手开门了,这才清醒过来,我简直不记得我是怎么走过来的,我想也许我的身体,就在灵魂遗弃了它之后,也还是能够找到它的归途的,就好像手总可以摸到嘴,不需任何帮忙一样。好几次,当一个访客一直待到夜深,而这一夜凑巧又是墨黑的时候,我可不能不从屋后送他到车道上去了。同时就把他要去的方向指点了给他,劝他不是靠他的眼睛,而是靠他的两条腿摸索前进。有一个非常暗黑的晚上,我这样给两个到湖边来钓鱼的年轻人指点了他们的路。他们住在大约离森林一英里外的地方,还是熟门熟路的呢。一两天后,他们中的一个告诉我,他们在自己的住所附近兜来兜去兜了大半夜,直到黎明才回到了家,其间逢到了几场大雨,树叶都湿淋淋的,他们给淋得皮肤都湿了。我听说村中有许多人在街上走走,都走得迷了路,那是在黑暗最浓厚的时候,正如老古话所说,黑得你可以用刀子一块一块把它割下来。有些人是住在郊外的,驾车到村里来办货,却不得不留在村里过夜了;还有一些绅士淑女们,出门访客,离开他们的路线不过半英里路,可怜只能用脚来摸索人行道,在什么时候拐弯都不晓得了。任何时候在森林里迷路,真是惊险而值得回忆的,是宝贵的经历。在暴风雪中,哪怕是白天,走到一条走惯的路上了,也可以迷失方向,不知道哪里通往村子。虽然他知道他在这条路上走过一千次了,但是什么也不认得了,它就跟西伯利亚的一条路同样地陌生了。如果在晚上,自然还要困难得多。在我们的日常散步中,我们经常地,虽然是不知不觉地,像领港的人一样,依据着某某灯塔,或依据某某海角,向前行进,如果我们不在走惯的航线上,我们依然在脑中有着邻近的一些海角的印象;除非我们完全迷了路,或者转了一次身,在森林中你只要闭上眼睛,转一次身,你就迷路了,——到那时候,我们才发现了大自然的浩瀚与奇异。不管是睡觉或其他心不在焉,每一个人都应该在清醒过来之后,经常看看罗盘上的方向。非到我们迷了路,换句话说,非到我们失去了这个世界之后,我们才开始发现我们自己,认识我们的处境,并且认识了我们的联系之无穷的界限。

有一天下午,在我的第一个夏天将要结束的时候,我进村子里去,找鞋匠拿一只鞋子,我被捕了,给关进了监狱里去,因为正如我在另外一篇文章里面说明了的,我拒绝付税给国家,甚至不承认这个国家的权力,这个国家在议会门口把男人、女人和孩子当牛马一样地买卖。我本来是为了别的事到森林中去的。但是,不管一个人走到哪里,人间的肮脏的机关总要跟他到哪里,伸出于来攫取他,如果他们能够办到,总要强迫他回到属于他那共济会式的社会中。真的,我本可以强悍地抵抗一下,多少可以有点结果的,我本可以疯狂地反对社会,但是我宁可让社会疯狂地来反对我,因为它才是那绝望的一方。然而第二天我被释放出来了,还是拿到了那只修补过的鞋子,回到林中正好赶上在美港山上大嚼一顿越橘。除了那些代表这国的人物之外,我没有受到过任何人的骚扰。除了放我的稿件的桌子之外,我没有用锁,没有闩门,在我的窗子上,梢子上,也没有一只钉子。我日夜都不锁门,尽管我要出门好几天;在接下来的那个秋天,我到缅因的林中去住了半个月,我也没有锁门。然而我的房屋比周围驻扎着大兵还要受到尊敬。疲劳的闲游者可以在我的火炉边休息,并且取暖,我桌上的几本书可以供文学爱好者来翻阅,或者那些好奇的人,打开了我的橱门,也可以看我还剩下什么饭菜,更可以知道我晚餐将吃些什么。虽然各个阶级都有不少人跑到湖边来,我却没有因此而有多大的不便,我什么也没有丢,只少了一部小书,那是一卷荷马,大概因为封面镀金镀坏了,我想这是兵营中的一个士兵拿走的。我确实相信,如果所有的人都生活得跟我一样简单,愉窃和抢劫便不会发生了。发生这样的事,原因是社会上有的人得到的多于足够,而另一些人得到的却又少于足够。蒲伯译的荷马应该立刻适当地传播……

“Nec bella fuerunt,

 Faginus astabat dum scyphus ante dapes.”

“世人不会战争,

在所需只是山毛榉的碗碟时。”“子为政。焉用杀。子欲善。而民善矣。君子之德风。小人之德草。草上之风。必偃。”

 




The Ponds

Sometimes, having had a surfeit of human society and gossip, and worn out all my village friends, I rambled still farther westward than I habitually dwell, into yet more unfrequented parts of the town, "to fresh woods and pastures new," or, while the sun was setting, made my supper of huckleberries and blueberries on Fair Haven Hill, and laid up a store for several days. The fruits do not yield their true flavor to the purchaser of them, nor to him who raises them for the market. There is but one way to obtain it, yet few take that way. If you would know the flavor of huckleberries, ask the cowboy or the partridge. It is a vulgar error to suppose that you have tasted huckleberries who never plucked them. A huckleberry never reaches Boston; they have not been known there since they grew on her three hills. The ambrosial and essential part of the fruit is lost with the bloom which is rubbed off in the market cart, and they become mere provender. As long as Eternal Justice reigns, not one innocent huckleberry can be transported thither from the country's hills.

Occasionally, after my hoeing was done for the day, I joined some impatient companion who had been fishing on the pond since morning, as silent and motionless as a duck or a floating leaf, and, after practising various kinds of philosophy, had concluded commonly, by the time I arrived, that he belonged to the ancient sect of Cœnobites. There was one older man, an excellent fisher and skilled in all kinds of woodcraft, who was pleased to look upon my house as a building erected for the convenience of fishermen; and I was equally pleased when he sat in my doorway to arrange his lines. Once in a while we sat together on the pond, he at one end of the boat, and I at the other; but not many words passed between us, for he had grown deaf in his later years, but he occasionally hummed a psalm, which harmonized well enough with my philosophy. Our intercourse was thus altogether one of unbroken harmony, far more pleasing to remember than if it had been carried on by speech. When, as was commonly the case, I had none to commune with, I used to raise the echoes by striking with a paddle on the side of my boat, filling the surrounding woods with circling and dilating sound, stirring them up as the keeper of a menagerie his wild beasts, until I elicited a growl from every wooded vale and hillside.

In warm evenings I frequently sat in the boat playing the flute, and saw the perch, which I seem to have charmed, hovering around me, and the moon travelling over the ribbed bottom, which was strewed with the wrecks of the forest. Formerly I had come to this pond adventurously, from time to time, in dark summer nights, with a companion, and, making a fire close to the water's edge, which we thought attracted the fishes, we caught pouts with a bunch of worms strung on a thread, and when we had done, far in the night, threw the burning brands high into the air like skyrockets, which, coming down into the pond, were quenched with a loud hissing, and we were suddenly groping in total darkness. Through this, whistling a tune, we took our way to the haunts of men again. But now I had made my home by the shore.

Sometimes, after staying in a village parlor till the family had all retired, I have returned to the woods, and, partly with a view to the next day's dinner, spent the hours of midnight fishing from a boat by moonlight, serenaded by owls and foxes, and hearing, from time to time, the creaking note of some unknown bird close at hand. These experiences were very memorable and valuable to me—anchored in forty feet of water, and twenty or thirty rods from the shore, surrounded sometimes by thousands of small perch and shiners, dimpling the surface with their tails in the moonlight, and communicating by a long flaxen line with mysterious nocturnal fishes which had their dwelling forty feet below, or sometimes dragging sixty feet of line about the pond as I drifted in the gentle night breeze, now and then feeling a slight vibration along it, indicative of some life prowling about its extremity, of dull uncertain blundering purpose there, and slow to make up its mind. At length you slowly raise, pulling hand over hand, some horned pout squeaking and squirming to the upper air. It was very queer, especially in dark nights, when your thoughts had wandered to vast and cosmogonal themes in other spheres, to feel this faint jerk, which came to interrupt your dreams and link you to Nature again. It seemed as if I might next cast my line upward into the air, as well as downward into this element, which was scarcely more dense. Thus I caught two fishes as it were with one hook.

The scenery of Walden is on a humble scale, and, though very beautiful, does not approach to grandeur, nor can it much concern one who has not long frequented it or lived by its shore; yet this pond is so remarkable for its depth and purity as to merit a particular description. It is a clear and deep green well, half a mile long and a mile and three quarters in circumference, and contains about sixty-one and a half acres; a perennial spring in the midst of pine and oak woods, without any visible inlet or outlet except by the clouds and evaporation. The surrounding hills rise abruptly from the water to the height of forty to eighty feet, though on the southeast and east they attain to about one hundred and one hundred and fifty feet respectively, within a quarter and a third of a mile. They are exclusively woodland. All our Concord waters have two colors at least; one when viewed at a distance, and another, more proper, close at hand. The first depends more on the light, and follows the sky. In clear weather, in summer, they appear blue at a little distance, especially if agitated, and at a great distance all appear alike. In stormy weather they are sometimes of a dark slate-color. The sea, however, is said to be blue one day and green another without any perceptible change in the atmosphere. I have seen our river, when, the landscape being covered with snow, both water and ice were almost as green as grass. Some consider blue "to be the color of pure water, whether liquid or solid." But, looking directly down into our waters from a boat, they are seen to be of very different colors. Walden is blue at one time and green at another, even from the same point of view. Lying between the earth and the heavens, it partakes of the color of both. Viewed from a hilltop it reflects the color of the sky; but near at hand it is of a yellowish tint next the shore where you can see the sand, then a light green, which gradually deepens to a uniform dark green in the body of the pond. In some lights, viewed even from a hilltop, it is of a vivid green next the shore. Some have referred this to the reflection of the verdure; but it is equally green there against the railroad sandbank, and in the spring, before the leaves are expanded, and it may be simply the result of the prevailing blue mixed with the yellow of the sand. Such is the color of its iris. This is that portion, also, where in the spring, the ice being warmed by the heat of the sun reflected from the bottom, and also transmitted through the earth, melts first and forms a narrow canal about the still frozen middle. Like the rest of our waters, when much agitated, in clear weather, so that the surface of the waves may reflect the sky at the right angle, or because there is more light mixed with it, it appears at a little distance of a darker blue than the sky itself; and at such a time, being on its surface, and looking with divided vision, so as to see the reflection, I have discerned a matchless and indescribable light blue, such as watered or changeable silks and sword blades suggest, more cerulean than the sky itself, alternating with the original dark green on the opposite sides of the waves, which last appeared but muddy in comparison. It is a vitreous greenish blue, as I remember it, like those patches of the winter sky seen through cloud vistas in the west before sundown. Yet a single glass of its water held up to the light is as colorless as an equal quantity of air. It is well known that a large plate of glass will have a green tint, owing, as the makers say, to its "body," but a small piece of the same will be colorless. How large a body of Walden water would be required to reflect a green tint I have never proved. The water of our river is black or a very dark brown to one looking directly down on it, and, like that of most ponds, imparts to the body of one bathing in it a yellowish tinge; but this water is of such crystalline purity that the body of the bather appears of an alabaster whiteness, still more unnatural, which, as the limbs are magnified and distorted withal, produces a monstrous effect, making fit studies for a Michael Angelo.

The water is so transparent that the bottom can easily be discerned at the depth of twenty-five or thirty feet. Paddling over it, you may see, many feet beneath the surface, the schools of perch and shiners, perhaps only an inch long, yet the former easily distinguished by their transverse bars, and you think that they must be ascetic fish that find a subsistence there. Once, in the winter, many years ago, when I had been cutting holes through the ice in order to catch pickerel, as I stepped ashore I tossed my axe back on to the ice, but, as if some evil genius had directed it, it slid four or five rods directly into one of the holes, where the water was twenty-five feet deep. Out of curiosity, I lay down on the ice and looked through the hole, until I saw the axe a little on one side, standing on its head, with its helve erect and gently swaying to and fro with the pulse of the pond; and there it might have stood erect and swaying till in the course of time the handle rotted off, if I had not disturbed it. Making another hole directly over it with an ice chisel which I had, and cutting down the longest birch which I could find in the neighborhood with my knife, I made a slip-noose, which I attached to its end, and, letting it down carefully, passed it over the knob of the handle, and drew it by a line along the birch, and so pulled the axe out again.

The shore is composed of a belt of smooth rounded white stones like paving-stones, excepting one or two short sand beaches, and is so steep that in many places a single leap will carry you into water over your head; and were it not for its remarkable transparency, that would be the last to be seen of its bottom till it rose on the opposite side. Some think it is bottomless. It is nowhere muddy, and a casual observer would say that there were no weeds at all in it; and of noticeable plants, except in the little meadows recently overflowed, which do not properly belong to it, a closer scrutiny does not detect a flag nor a bulrush, nor even a lily, yellow or white, but only a few small heart-leaves and potamogetons, and perhaps a water-target or two; all which however a bather might not perceive; and these plants are clean and bright like the element they grow in. The stones extend a rod or two into the water, and then the bottom is pure sand, except in the deepest parts, where there is usually a little sediment, probably from the decay of the leaves which have been wafted on to it so many successive falls, and a bright green weed is brought up on anchors even in midwinter.

We have one other pond just like this, White Pond, in Nine Acre Corner, about two and a half miles westerly; but, though I am acquainted with most of the ponds within a dozen miles of this centre I do not know a third of this pure and well-like character. Successive nations perchance have drank at, admired, and fathomed it, and passed away, and still its water is green and pellucid as ever. Not an intermitting spring! Perhaps on that spring morning when Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden Walden Pond was already in existence, and even then breaking up in a gentle spring rain accompanied with mist and a southerly wind, and covered with myriads of ducks and geese, which had not heard of the fall, when still such pure lakes sufficed them. Even then it had commenced to rise and fall, and had clarified its waters and colored them of the hue they now wear, and obtained a patent of Heaven to be the only Walden Pond in the world and distiller of celestial dews. Who knows in how many unremembered nations' literatures this has been the Castalian Fountain? or what nymphs presided over it in the Golden Age? It is a gem of the first water which Concord wears in her coronet.

Yet perchance the first who came to this well have left some trace of their footsteps. I have been surprised to detect encircling the pond, even where a thick wood has just been cut down on the shore, a narrow shelf-like path in the steep hillside, alternately rising and falling, approaching and receding from the water's edge, as old probably as the race of man here, worn by the feet of aboriginal hunters, and still from time to time unwittingly trodden by the present occupants of the land. This is particularly distinct to one standing on the middle of the pond in winter, just after a light snow has fallen, appearing as a clear undulating white line, unobscured by weeds and twigs, and very obvious a quarter of a mile off in many places where in summer it is hardly distinguishable close at hand. The snow reprints it, as it were, in clear white type alto-relievo. The ornamented grounds of villas which will one day be built here may still preserve some trace of this.

The pond rises and falls, but whether regularly or not, and within what period, nobody knows, though, as usual, many pretend to know. It is commonly higher in the winter and lower in the summer, though not corresponding to the general wet and dryness. I can remember when it was a foot or two lower, and also when it was at least five feet higher, than when I lived by it. There is a narrow sand-bar running into it, with very deep water on one side, on which I helped boil a kettle of chowder, some six rods from the main shore, about the year 1824, which it has not been possible to do for twenty-five years; and, on the other hand, my friends used to listen with incredulity when I told them, that a few years later I was accustomed to fish from a boat in a secluded cove in the woods, fifteen rods from the only shore they knew, which place was long since converted into a meadow. But the pond has risen steadily for two years, and now, in the summer of '52, is just five feet higher than when I lived there, or as high as it was thirty years ago, and fishing goes on again in the meadow. This makes a difference of level, at the outside, of six or seven feet; and yet the water shed by the surrounding hills is insignificant in amount, and this overflow must be referred to causes which affect the deep springs. This same summer the pond has begun to fall again. It is remarkable that this fluctuation, whether periodical or not, appears thus to require many years for its accomplishment. I have observed one rise and a part of two falls, and I expect that a dozen or fifteen years hence the water will again be as low as I have ever known it. Flint's Pond, a mile eastward, allowing for the disturbance occasioned by its inlets and outlets, and the smaller intermediate ponds also, sympathize with Walden, and recently attained their greatest height at the same time with the latter. The same is true, as far as my observation goes, of White Pond.

This rise and fall of Walden at long intervals serves this use at least; the water standing at this great height for a year or more, though it makes it difficult to walk round it, kills the shrubs and trees which have sprung up about its edge since the last rise—pitch pines, birches, alders, aspens, and others—and, falling again, leaves an unobstructed shore; for, unlike many ponds and all waters which are subject to a daily tide, its shore is cleanest when the water is lowest. On the side of the pond next my house a row of pitch pines, fifteen feet high, has been killed and tipped over as if by a lever, and thus a stop put to their encroachments; and their size indicates how many years have elapsed since the last rise to this height. By this fluctuation the pond asserts its title to a shore, and thus the shore is shorn, and the trees cannot hold it by right of possession. These are the lips of the lake, on which no beard grows. It licks its chaps from time to time. When the water is at its height, the alders, willows, and maples send forth a mass of fibrous red roots several feet long from all sides of their stems in the water, and to the height of three or four feet from the ground, in the effort to maintain themselves; and I have known the high blueberry bushes about the shore, which commonly produce no fruit, bear an abundant crop under these circumstances.

Some have been puzzled to tell how the shore became so regularly paved. My townsmen have all heard the tradition—the oldest people tell me that they heard it in their youth—that anciently the Indians were holding a pow-wow upon a hill here, which rose as high into the heavens as the pond now sinks deep into the earth, and they used much profanity, as the story goes, though this vice is one of which the Indians were never guilty, and while they were thus engaged the hill shook and suddenly sank, and only one old squaw, named Walden, escaped, and from her the pond was named. It has been conjectured that when the hill shook these stones rolled down its side and became the present shore. It is very certain, at any rate, that once there was no pond here, and now there is one; and this Indian fable does not in any respect conflict with the account of that ancient settler whom I have mentioned, who remembers so well when he first came here with his divining-rod, saw a thin vapor rising from the sward, and the hazel pointed steadily downward, and he concluded to dig a well here. As for the stones, many still think that they are hardly to be accounted for by the action of the waves on these hills; but I observe that the surrounding hills are remarkably full of the same kind of stones, so that they have been obliged to pile them up in walls on both sides of the railroad cut nearest the pond; and, moreover, there are most stones where the shore is most abrupt; so that, unfortunately, it is no longer a mystery to me. I detect the paver. If the name was not derived from that of some English locality—Saffron Walden, for instance—one might suppose that it was called originally Walled-in Pond.

The pond was my well ready dug. For four months in the year its water is as cold as it is pure at all times; and I think that it is then as good as any, if not the best, in the town. In the winter, all water which is exposed to the air is colder than springs and wells which are protected from it. The temperature of the pond water which had stood in the room where I sat from five o'clock in the afternoon till noon the next day, the sixth of March, 1846, the thermometer having been up to 65° or 70° some of the time, owing partly to the sun on the roof, was 42°, or one degree colder than the water of one of the coldest wells in the village just drawn. The temperature of the Boiling Spring the same day was 45°, or the warmest of any water tried, though it is the coldest that I know of in summer, when, beside, shallow and stagnant surface water is not mingled with it. Moreover, in summer, Walden never becomes so warm as most water which is exposed to the sun, on account of its depth. In the warmest weather I usually placed a pailful in my cellar, where it became cool in the night, and remained so during the day; though I also resorted to a spring in the neighborhood. It was as good when a week old as the day it was dipped, and had no taste of the pump. Whoever camps for a week in summer by the shore of a pond, needs only bury a pail of water a few feet deep in the shade of his camp to be independent of the luxury of ice.

There have been caught in Walden pickerel, one weighing seven pounds—to say nothing of another which carried off a reel with great velocity, which the fisherman safely set down at eight pounds because he did not see him—perch and pouts, some of each weighing over two pounds, shiners, chivins or roach (Leuciscus pulchellus), a very few breams, and a couple of eels, one weighing four pounds—I am thus particular because the weight of a fish is commonly its only title to fame, and these are the only eels I have heard of here;—also, I have a faint recollection of a little fish some five inches long, with silvery sides and a greenish back, somewhat dace-like in its character, which I mention here chiefly to link my facts to fable. Nevertheless, this pond is not very fertile in fish. Its pickerel, though not abundant, are its chief boast. I have seen at one time lying on the ice pickerel of at least three different kinds: a long and shallow one, steel-colored, most like those caught in the river; a bright golden kind, with greenish reflections and remarkably deep, which is the most common here; and another, golden-colored, and shaped like the last, but peppered on the sides with small dark brown or black spots, intermixed with a few faint blood-red ones, very much like a trout. The specific name reticulatus would not apply to this; it should be guttatus rather. These are all very firm fish, and weigh more than their size promises. The shiners, pouts, and perch also, and indeed all the fishes which inhabit this pond, are much cleaner, handsomer, and firmer-fleshed than those in the river and most other ponds, as the water is purer, and they can easily be distinguished from them. Probably many ichthyologists would make new varieties of some of them. There are also a clean race of frogs and tortoises, and a few mussels in it; muskrats and minks leave their traces about it, and occasionally a travelling mud-turtle visits it. Sometimes, when I pushed off my boat in the morning, I disturbed a great mud-turtle which had secreted himself under the boat in the night. Ducks and geese frequent it in the spring and fall, the white-bellied swallows (Hirundo bicolor) skim over it, and the peetweets (Totanus macularius) "teeter" along its stony shores all summer. I have sometimes disturbed a fish hawk sitting on a white pine over the water; but I doubt if it is ever profaned by the wind of a gull, like Fair Haven. At most, it tolerates one annual loon. These are all the animals of consequence which frequent it now.

You may see from a boat, in calm weather, near the sandy eastern shore, where the water is eight or ten feet deep, and also in some other parts of the pond, some circular heaps half a dozen feet in diameter by a foot in height, consisting of small stones less than a hen's egg in size, where all around is bare sand. At first you wonder if the Indians could have formed them on the ice for any purpose, and so, when the ice melted, they sank to the bottom; but they are too regular and some of them plainly too fresh for that. They are similar to those found in rivers; but as there are no suckers nor lampreys here, I know not by what fish they could be made. Perhaps they are the nests of the chivin. These lend a pleasing mystery to the bottom.

The shore is irregular enough not to be monotonous. I have in my mind's eye the western, indented with deep bays, the bolder northern, and the beautifully scalloped southern shore, where successive capes overlap each other and suggest unexplored coves between. The forest has never so good a setting, nor is so distinctly beautiful, as when seen from the middle of a small lake amid hills which rise from the water's edge; for the water in which it is reflected not only makes the best foreground in such a case, but, with its winding shore, the most natural and agreeable boundary to it. There is no rawness nor imperfection in its edge there, as where the axe has cleared a part, or a cultivated field abuts on it. The trees have ample room to expand on the water side, and each sends forth its most vigorous branch in that direction. There Nature has woven a natural selvage, and the eye rises by just gradations from the low shrubs of the shore to the highest trees. There are few traces of man's hand to be seen. The water laves the shore as it did a thousand years ago.

A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. The fluviatile trees next the shore are the slender eyelashes which fringe it, and the wooded hills and cliffs around are its overhanging brows.

Standing on the smooth sandy beach at the east end of the pond, in a calm September afternoon, when a slight haze makes the opposite shore-line indistinct, I have seen whence came the expression, "the glassy surface of a lake." When you invert your head, it looks like a thread of finest gossamer stretched across the valley, and gleaming against the distant pine woods, separating one stratum of the atmosphere from another. You would think that you could walk dry under it to the opposite hills, and that the swallows which skim over might perch on it. Indeed, they sometimes dive below this line, as it were by mistake, and are undeceived. As you look over the pond westward you are obliged to employ both your hands to defend your eyes against the reflected as well as the true sun, for they are equally bright; and if, between the two, you survey its surface critically, it is literally as smooth as glass, except where the skater insects, at equal intervals scattered over its whole extent, by their motions in the sun produce the finest imaginable sparkle on it, or, perchance, a duck plumes itself, or, as I have said, a swallow skims so low as to touch it. It may be that in the distance a fish describes an arc of three or four feet in the air, and there is one bright flash where it emerges, and another where it strikes the water; sometimes the whole silvery arc is revealed; or here and there, perhaps, is a thistle-down floating on its surface, which the fishes dart at and so dimple it again. It is like molten glass cooled but not congealed, and the few motes in it are pure and beautiful like the imperfections in glass. You may often detect a yet smoother and darker water, separated from the rest as if by an invisible cobweb, boom of the water nymphs, resting on it. From a hilltop you can see a fish leap in almost any part; for not a pickerel or shiner picks an insect from this smooth surface but it manifestly disturbs the equilibrium of the whole lake. It is wonderful with what elaborateness this simple fact is advertised—this piscine murder will out—and from my distant perch I distinguish the circling undulations when they are half a dozen rods in diameter. You can even detect a water-bug (Gyrinus) ceaselessly progressing over the smooth surface a quarter of a mile off; for they furrow the water slightly, making a conspicuous ripple bounded by two diverging lines, but the skaters glide over it without rippling it perceptibly. When the surface is considerably agitated there are no skaters nor water-bugs on it, but apparently, in calm days, they leave their havens and adventurously glide forth from the shore by short impulses till they completely cover it. It is a soothing employment, on one of those fine days in the fall when all the warmth of the sun is fully appreciated, to sit on a stump on such a height as this, overlooking the pond, and study the dimpling circles which are incessantly inscribed on its otherwise invisible surface amid the reflected skies and trees. Over this great expanse there is no disturbance but it is thus at once gently smoothed away and assuaged, as, when a vase of water is jarred, the trembling circles seek the shore and all is smooth again. Not a fish can leap or an insect fall on the pond but it is thus reported in circling dimples, in lines of beauty, as it were the constant welling up of its fountain, the gentle pulsing of its life, the heaving of its breast. The thrills of joy and thrills of pain are undistinguishable. How peaceful the phenomena of the lake! Again the works of man shine as in the spring. Ay, every leaf and twig and stone and cobweb sparkles now at mid-afternoon as when covered with dew in a spring morning. Every motion of an oar or an insect produces a flash of light; and if an oar falls, how sweet the echo!

In such a day, in September or October, Walden is a perfect forest mirror, set round with stones as precious to my eye as if fewer or rarer. Nothing so fair, so pure, and at the same time so large, as a lake, perchance, lies on the surface of the earth. Sky water. It needs no fence. Nations come and go without defiling it. It is a mirror which no stone can crack, whose quicksilver will never wear off, whose gilding Nature continually repairs; no storms, no dust, can dim its surface ever fresh;—a mirror in which all impurity presented to it sinks, swept and dusted by the sun's hazy brush—this the light dust-cloth—which retains no breath that is breathed on it, but sends its own to float as clouds high above its surface, and be reflected in its bosom still.

A field of water betrays the spirit that is in the air. It is continually receiving new life and motion from above. It is intermediate in its nature between land and sky. On land only the grass and trees wave, but the water itself is rippled by the wind. I see where the breeze dashes across it by the streaks or flakes of light. It is remarkable that we can look down on its surface. We shall, perhaps, look down thus on the surface of air at length, and mark where a still subtler spirit sweeps over it.

The skaters and water-bugs finally disappear in the latter part of October, when the severe frosts have come; and then and in November, usually, in a calm day, there is absolutely nothing to ripple the surface. One November afternoon, in the calm at the end of a rain-storm of several days' duration, when the sky was still completely overcast and the air was full of mist, I observed that the pond was remarkably smooth, so that it was difficult to distinguish its surface; though it no longer reflected the bright tints of October, but the sombre November colors of the surrounding hills. Though I passed over it as gently as possible, the slight undulations produced by my boat extended almost as far as I could see, and gave a ribbed appearance to the reflections. But, as I was looking over the surface, I saw here and there at a distance a faint glimmer, as if some skater insects which had escaped the frosts might be collected there, or, perchance, the surface, being so smooth, betrayed where a spring welled up from the bottom. Paddling gently to one of these places, I was surprised to find myself surrounded by myriads of small perch, about five inches long, of a rich bronze color in the green water, sporting there, and constantly rising to the surface and dimpling it, sometimes leaving bubbles on it. In such transparent and seemingly bottomless water, reflecting the clouds, I seemed to be floating through the air as in a balloon, and their swimming impressed me as a kind of flight or hovering, as if they were a compact flock of birds passing just beneath my level on the right or left, their fins, like sails, set all around them. There were many such schools in the pond, apparently improving the short season before winter would draw an icy shutter over their broad skylight, sometimes giving to the surface an appearance as if a slight breeze struck it, or a few rain-drops fell there. When I approached carelessly and alarmed them, they made a sudden splash and rippling with their tails, as if one had struck the water with a brushy bough, and instantly took refuge in the depths. At length the wind rose, the mist increased, and the waves began to run, and the perch leaped much higher than before, half out of water, a hundred black points, three inches long, at once above the surface. Even as late as the fifth of December, one year, I saw some dimples on the surface, and thinking it was going to rain hard immediately, the air being full of mist, I made haste to take my place at the oars and row homeward; already the rain seemed rapidly increasing, though I felt none on my cheek, and I anticipated a thorough soaking. But suddenly the dimples ceased, for they were produced by the perch, which the noise of my oars had seared into the depths, and I saw their schools dimly disappearing; so I spent a dry afternoon after all.

An old man who used to frequent this pond nearly sixty years ago, when it was dark with surrounding forests, tells me that in those days he sometimes saw it all alive with ducks and other water-fowl, and that there were many eagles about it. He came here a-fishing, and used an old log canoe which he found on the shore. It was made of two white pine logs dug out and pinned together, and was cut off square at the ends. It was very clumsy, but lasted a great many years before it became water-logged and perhaps sank to the bottom. He did not know whose it was; it belonged to the pond. He used to make a cable for his anchor of strips of hickory bark tied together. An old man, a potter, who lived by the pond before the Revolution, told him once that there was an iron chest at the bottom, and that he had seen it. Sometimes it would come floating up to the shore; but when you went toward it, it would go back into deep water and disappear. I was pleased to hear of the old log canoe, which took the place of an Indian one of the same material but more graceful construction, which perchance had first been a tree on the bank, and then, as it were, fell into the water, to float there for a generation, the most proper vessel for the lake. I remember that when I first looked into these depths there were many large trunks to be seen indistinctly lying on the bottom, which had either been blown over formerly, or left on the ice at the last cutting, when wood was cheaper; but now they have mostly disappeared.

When I first paddled a boat on Walden, it was completely surrounded by thick and lofty pine and oak woods, and in some of its coves grape-vines had run over the trees next the water and formed bowers under which a boat could pass. The hills which form its shores are so steep, and the woods on them were then so high, that, as you looked down from the west end, it had the appearance of an amphitheatre for some land of sylvan spectacle. I have spent many an hour, when I was younger, floating over its surface as the zephyr willed, having paddled my boat to the middle, and lying on my back across the seats, in a summer forenoon, dreaming awake, until I was aroused by the boat touching the sand, and I arose to see what shore my fates had impelled me to; days when idleness was the most attractive and productive industry. Many a forenoon have I stolen away, preferring to spend thus the most valued part of the day; for I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days, and spent them lavishly; nor do I regret that I did not waste more of them in the workshop or the teacher's desk. But since I left those shores the woodchoppers have still further laid them waste, and now for many a year there will be no more rambling through the aisles of the wood, with occasional vistas through which you see the water. My Muse may be excused if she is silent henceforth. How can you expect the birds to sing when their groves are cut down?

Now the trunks of trees on the bottom, and the old log canoe, and the dark surrounding woods, are gone, and the villagers, who scarcely know where it lies, instead of going to the pond to bathe or drink, are thinking to bring its water, which should be as sacred as the Ganges at least, to the village in a pipe, to wash their dishes with!—to earn their Walden by the turning of a cock or drawing of a plug! That devilish Iron Horse, whose ear-rending neigh is heard throughout the town, has muddied the Boiling Spring with his foot, and he it is that has browsed off all the woods on Walden shore, that Trojan horse, with a thousand men in his belly, introduced by mercenary Greeks! Where is the country's champion, the Moore of Moore Hill, to meet him at the Deep Cut and thrust an avenging lance between the ribs of the bloated pest?

Nevertheless, of all the characters I have known, perhaps Walden wears best, and best preserves its purity. Many men have been likened to it, but few deserve that honor. Though the woodchoppers have laid bare first this shore and then that, and the Irish have built their sties by it, and the railroad has infringed on its border, and the ice-men have skimmed it once, it is itself unchanged, the same water which my youthful eyes fell on; all the change is in me. It has not acquired one permanent wrinkle after all its ripples. It is perennially young, and I may stand and see a swallow dip apparently to pick an insect from its surface as of yore. It struck me again tonight, as if I had not seen it almost daily for more than twenty years—Why, here is Walden, the same woodland lake that I discovered so many years ago; where a forest was cut down last winter another is springing up by its shore as lustily as ever; the same thought is welling up to its surface that was then; it is the same liquid joy and happiness to itself and its Maker, ay, and it may be to me. It is the work of a brave man surely, in whom there was no guile! He rounded this water with his hand, deepened and clarified it in his thought, and in his will bequeathed it to Concord. I see by its face that it is visited by the same reflection; and I can almost say, Walden, is it you?

It is no dream of mine,
   To ornament a line;
   I cannot come nearer to God and Heaven
   Than I live to Walden even.
   I am its stony shore,
   And the breeze that passes o'er;
   In the hollow of my hand
   Are its water and its sand,
   And its deepest resort
   Lies high in my thought.

The cars never pause to look at it; yet I fancy that the engineers and firemen and brakemen, and those passengers who have a season ticket and see it often, are better men for the sight. The engineer does not forget at night, or his nature does not, that he has beheld this vision of serenity and purity once at least during the day. Though seen but once, it helps to wash out State Street and the engine's soot. One proposes that it be called "God's Drop."

I have said that Walden has no visible inlet nor outlet, but it is on the one hand distantly and indirectly related to Flint's Pond, which is more elevated, by a chain of small ponds coming from that quarter, and on the other directly and manifestly to Concord River, which is lower, by a similar chain of ponds through which in some other geological period it may have flowed, and by a little digging, which God forbid, it can be made to flow thither again. If by living thus reserved and austere, like a hermit in the woods, so long, it has acquired such wonderful purity, who would not regret that the comparatively impure waters of Flint's Pond should be mingled with it, or itself should ever go to waste its sweetness in the ocean wave?

Flint's, or Sandy Pond, in Lincoln, our greatest lake and inland sea, lies about a mile east of Walden. It is much larger, being said to contain one hundred and ninety-seven acres, and is more fertile in fish; but it is comparatively shallow, and not remarkably pure. A walk through the woods thither was often my recreation. It was worth the while, if only to feel the wind blow on your cheek freely, and see the waves run, and remember the life of mariners. I went a-chestnutting there in the fall, on windy days, when the nuts were dropping into the water and were washed to my feet; and one day, as I crept along its sedgy shore, the fresh spray blowing in my face, I came upon the mouldering wreck of a boat, the sides gone, and hardly more than the impression of its flat bottom left amid the rushes; yet its model was sharply defined, as if it were a large decayed pad, with its veins. It was as impressive a wreck as one could imagine on the seashore, and had as good a moral. It is by this time mere vegetable mould and undistinguishable pond shore, through which rushes and flags have pushed up. I used to admire the ripple marks on the sandy bottom, at the north end of this pond, made firm and hard to the feet of the wader by the pressure of the water, and the rushes which grew in Indian file, in waving lines, corresponding to these marks, rank behind rank, as if the waves had planted them. There also I have found, in considerable quantities, curious balls, composed apparently of fine grass or roots, of pipewort perhaps, from half an inch to four inches in diameter, and perfectly spherical. These wash back and forth in shallow water on a sandy bottom, and are sometimes cast on the shore. They are either solid grass, or have a little sand in the middle. At first you would say that they were formed by the action of the waves, like a pebble; yet the smallest are made of equally coarse materials, half an inch long, and they are produced only at one season of the year. Moreover, the waves, I suspect, do not so much construct as wear down a material which has already acquired consistency. They preserve their form when dry for an indefinite period.

Flint's Pond! Such is the poverty of our nomenclature. What right had the unclean and stupid farmer, whose farm abutted on this sky water, whose shores he has ruthlessly laid bare, to give his name to it? Some skin-flint, who loved better the reflecting surface of a dollar, or a bright cent, in which he could see his own brazen face; who regarded even the wild ducks which settled in it as trespassers; his fingers grown into crooked and bony talons from the long habit of grasping harpy-like;—so it is not named for me. I go not there to see him nor to hear of him; who never saw it, who never bathed in it, who never loved it, who never protected it, who never spoke a good word for it, nor thanked God that He had made it. Rather let it be named from the fishes that swim in it, the wild fowl or quadrupeds which frequent it, the wild flowers which grow by its shores, or some wild man or child the thread of whose history is interwoven with its own; not from him who could show no title to it but the deed which a like-minded neighbor or legislature gave him—him who thought only of its money value; whose presence perchance cursed all the shores; who exhausted the land around it, and would fain have exhausted the waters within it; who regretted only that it was not English hay or cranberry meadow—there was nothing to redeem it, forsooth, in his eyes—and would have drained and sold it for the mud at its bottom. It did not turn his mill, and it was no privilege to him to behold it. I respect not his labors, his farm where everything has its price, who would carry the landscape, who would carry his God, to market, if he could get anything for him; who goes to market for his god as it is; on whose farm nothing grows free, whose fields bear no crops, whose meadows no flowers, whose trees no fruits, but dollars; who loves not the beauty of his fruits, whose fruits are not ripe for him till they are turned to dollars. Give me the poverty that enjoys true wealth. Farmers are respectable and interesting to me in proportion as they are poor—poor farmers. A model farm! where the house stands like a fungus in a muckheap, chambers for men, horses, oxen, and swine, cleansed and uncleansed, all contiguous to one another! Stocked with men! A great grease-spot, redolent of manures and buttermilk! Under a high state of cultivation, being manured with the hearts and brains of men! As if you were to raise your potatoes in the churchyard! Such is a model farm.

No, no; if the fairest features of the landscape are to be named after men, let them be the noblest and worthiest men alone. Let our lakes receive as true names at least as the Icarian Sea, where "still the shore" a "brave attempt resounds."

Goose Pond, of small extent, is on my way to Flint's; Fair Haven, an expansion of Concord River, said to contain some seventy acres, is a mile southwest; and White Pond, of about forty acres, is a mile and a half beyond Fair Haven. This is my lake country. These, with Concord River, are my water privileges; and night and day, year in year out, they grind such grist as I carry to them.

Since the wood-cutters, and the railroad, and I myself have profaned Walden, perhaps the most attractive, if not the most beautiful, of all our lakes, the gem of the woods, is White Pond;—a poor name from its commonness, whether derived from the remarkable purity of its waters or the color of its sands. In these as in other respects, however, it is a lesser twin of Walden. They are so much alike that you would say they must be connected under ground. It has the same stony shore, and its waters are of the same hue. As at Walden, in sultry dog-day weather, looking down through the woods on some of its bays which are not so deep but that the reflection from the bottom tinges them, its waters are of a misty bluish-green or glaucous color. Many years since I used to go there to collect the sand by cartloads, to make sandpaper with, and I have continued to visit it ever since. One who frequents it proposes to call it Virid Lake. Perhaps it might be called Yellow Pine Lake, from the following circumstance. About fifteen years ago you could see the top of a pitch pine, of the kind called yellow pine hereabouts, though it is not a distinct species, projecting above the surface in deep water, many rods from the shore. It was even supposed by some that the pond had sunk, and this was one of the primitive forest that formerly stood there. I find that even so long ago as 1792, in a "Topographical Description of the Town of Concord," by one of its citizens, in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, the author, after speaking of Walden and White Ponds, adds, "In the middle of the latter may be seen, when the water is very low, a tree which appears as if it grew in the place where it now stands, although the roots are fifty feet below the surface of the water; the top of this tree is broken off, and at that place measures fourteen inches in diameter." In the spring of '49 I talked with the man who lives nearest the pond in Sudbury, who told me that it was he who got out this tree ten or fifteen years before. As near as he could remember, it stood twelve or fifteen rods from the shore, where the water was thirty or forty feet deep. It was in the winter, and he had been getting out ice in the forenoon, and had resolved that in the afternoon, with the aid of his neighbors, he would take out the old yellow pine. He sawed a channel in the ice toward the shore, and hauled it over and along and out on to the ice with oxen; but, before he had gone far in his work, he was surprised to find that it was wrong end upward, with the stumps of the branches pointing down, and the small end firmly fastened in the sandy bottom. It was about a foot in diameter at the big end, and he had expected to get a good saw-log, but it was so rotten as to be fit only for fuel, if for that. He had some of it in his shed then. There were marks of an axe and of woodpeckers on the butt. He thought that it might have been a dead tree on the shore, but was finally blown over into the pond, and after the top had become water-logged, while the butt-end was still dry and light, had drifted out and sunk wrong end up. His father, eighty years old, could not remember when it was not there. Several pretty large logs may still be seen lying on the bottom, where, owing to the undulation of the surface, they look like huge water snakes in motion.

This pond has rarely been profaned by a boat, for there is little in it to tempt a fisherman. Instead of the white lily, which requires mud, or the common sweet flag, the blue flag (Iris versicolor) grows thinly in the pure water, rising from the stony bottom all around the shore, where it is visited by hummingbirds in June; and the color both of its bluish blades and its flowers and especially their reflections, is in singular harmony with the glaucous water.

White Pond and Walden are great crystals on the surface of the earth, Lakes of Light. If they were permanently congealed, and small enough to be clutched, they would, perchance, be carried off by slaves, like precious stones, to adorn the heads of emperors; but being liquid, and ample, and secured to us and our successors forever, we disregard them, and run after the diamond of Kohinoor. They are too pure to have a market value; they contain no muck. How much more beautiful than our lives, how much more transparent than our characters, are they! We never learned meanness of them. How much fairer than the pool before the farmer's door, in which his ducks swim! Hither the clean wild ducks come. Nature has no human inhabitant who appreciates her. The birds with their plumage and their notes are in harmony with the flowers, but what youth or maiden conspires with the wild luxuriant beauty of Nature? She flourishes most alone, far from the towns where they reside. Talk of heaven! ye disgrace earth.

 

有时,对人类社会及其言谈扯淡,对所有村中的友人们又都厌倦了,我便向西而漫游,越过了惯常起居的那些地方,跑到这乡镇的更无人迹的区域,来到“新的森林和新的牧场”上;或当夕阳西沉时,到美港山上,大嚼其越橘和浆果,再把它们拣拾起来,以备几天内的食用。水果可是不肯把它的色、香、味给购买它的人去享受的,也不肯给予为了出卖它而栽培它的商人去享受的。要享受那种色、香、味只有一个办法,然而很少人采用这个办法。如果你要知道越橘的色、香、味,你得请问牧童和鹧鸪。从来不采越橘的人,以为已经尝全了它的色、香、味,这是一个庸俗的谬见。从来没有一只越橘到过波士顿,它们虽然在波士顿的三座山上长满了,却没有进过城。水果的美味和它那本质的部分,在装上了车子运往市场去的时候,跟它的鲜丽一起给磨损了,它变成了仅仅是食品。只要永恒的正义还在统治宇宙,没有一只纯真的越橘能够从城外的山上运到城里来的。

在我干完了一天的锄地工作之后,偶尔我来到一个不耐烦的侣伴跟前,他从早晨起就在湖上钓鱼了,静静的,一动不动的,像一只鸭子,或一张漂浮的落叶,沉思着他的各种各样的哲学,而在我来到的时候,大致他已自认为是属于修道院僧中的古老派别了。有一个老年人,是个好渔夫,尤精于各种木工,他很高兴把我的屋子看作是为便利渔民而建筑的屋子,他坐在我的屋门口整理钓丝,我也同样高兴。我们偶尔一起泛舟湖上,他在船的这一头,我在船的另一头;我们并没有交换了多少话,因为他近年来耳朵聋了,偶尔他哼起一首圣诗来,这和我的哲学异常地和谐。我们的神交实在全部都是和谐的,回想起来真是美妙,比我们的谈话要有意思得多,我常是这样的,当找不到人谈话了,就用桨敲打我的船舷,寻求回声,使周围的森林被激起了一圈圈扩展着的声浪,像动物园中那管理群兽的人激动了兽群那样,每一个山林和青翠的峡谷最后都发出了咆哮之声。

在温和的黄昏中,我常坐在船里弄笛,看到鲈鱼游泳在我的四周,好似我的笛音迷住了它们一样,而月光旅行在肋骨似的水波上,那上面还零乱地散布着破碎的森林。很早以前,我一次次探险似的来到这个湖上,在一些夏天的黑夜里,跟一个同伴一起来;在水边生了一堆火,吸引鱼群,我们又在钧丝钩上放了虫子作鱼饵钓起了一条条鳘鱼;这样我们一直搞到夜深以后,才把火棒高高地抛掷到空中,它们像流星烟火一样,从空中落进湖里发出一些响亮的咝声,便熄灭了,于是我们就突然在完全的黑暗之中摸索。我用口哨吹着歌,穿过黑暗,又上路口到人类的集名处。可是现在我已经在湖岸上有了自己的家。

有时,在村中一个客厅里待到他们一家子都要休息时,我就回到了森林里;那时,多少是为了明天的伙食,我把子夜的时辰消耗在月光之下的垂钓之上,坐在一条船里,听枭鸟和狐狸唱它们的小夜曲,时时我还听到附近的不知名的鸟雀发出尖厉的啸声。这一些经验对我是很值得国忆和很宝贵的,在水深四十英尺的地方抛了锚,离岸约二三杆之远,有时大约有几千条小鲈鱼和银鱼围绕着我,它们的尾巴给月光下的水面点出了无数的水涡;用了一根细长的麻绳,我和生活在四十英尺深的水底的一些神秘的夜间的鱼打交道了,有时我拖着长六十英尺的钓丝,听凭柔和的夜风把我的船儿在湖上漂荡,我时不时地感到了微弱的震动,说明有一个生命在钓丝的那一端徘徊,却又愚蠢地不能确定它对这盲目撞上的东西怎样办,还没有完全下决心呢。到后来,你一手又一手,慢慢地拉起钓丝,而一些长角的鳘鱼一边发出咯吱咯吱的声音,一边扭动着身子,给拉到了空中。特别在黑暗的夜间,当你的思想驰骋在广大宇宙的主题上的时候,而你却感到这微弱的震动,打断了你的梦想,又把你和大自然联结了起来,这是很奇怪的。我仿佛会接着把钓丝往上甩,甩到天空里去,正如我同时把钓丝垂人这密度未必更大的水的元素中去的情况一样。这样我像是用一只钓钩而捉住了两条鱼。

瓦尔登的风景是卑微的,虽然很美,却并不是宏伟的,不常去游玩的人,不住在它岸边的人未必能被它吸引住:但是这一个湖以深邃和清澈著称,值得给予突出的描写。这是一个明亮的深绿色的湖,半英里长,圆周约一英里又四分之三,面积约六十一英亩半;它是松树和橡树林中央的岁月悠久的老湖,除了雨和蒸发之外,还没有别的来龙去脉可寻。四周的山峰突然地从水上升起,到四十至八十英尺的高度,但在东南面高到一百英尺,而东边更高到一百五十英尺,其距离湖岸,不过四分之一英里及三分之一英里。山上全部都是森林。所有我们康科德地方的水波,至少有两种颜色,一种是站在远处望见的,另一种,更接近本来的颜色,是站在近处看见的。第一种更多地靠的是光,根据天色变化。在天气好的夏季里,从稍远的地方望去,它呈现了蔚蓝颜色,特别在水波荡漾的时候,但从很远的地方望去,却是一片深蓝。在风暴的天气下,有时它呈现出深石板色。海水的颜色则不然,据说它这天是蓝色的,另一天却又是绿色了,尽管天气连些微的可感知的变化也没有。我们这里的水系中,我看到当白雪覆盖这一片风景时,水和冰几乎都是草绿色的。有人认为,蓝色“乃是纯洁的水的颜色,无论那是流动的水,或凝结的水”。可是,直接从一条船上俯看近处湖水,它又有着非常之不同的色彩。甚至从同一个观察点,看瓦尔登是这会儿蓝,那忽儿绿。置身于天地之间,它分担了这两者的色素。从山顶上看,它反映天空的颜色,可是走近了看,在你能看到近岸的细砂的地方,水色先是黄澄澄的,然后是淡绿色的了,然后逐渐地加深起来,直到水波一律地呈现了全湖一致的深绿色。却在有些时候的光线下,便是从一个山顶望去,靠近湖岸的水色也是碧绿得异常生动的。有人说,这是绿原的反映;可是在铁路轨道这儿的黄沙地带的衬托下,也同样是碧绿的,而且,在春天,树叶还没有长大,这也许是太空中的蔚蓝,调和了黄沙以后形成的一个单纯的效果。这是它的虹色彩圈的色素。也是在这一个地方,春天一来,冰块给水底反射上来的太阳的热量,也给土地中传播的太阳的热量溶解了,这里首先溶解成一条狭窄的运河的样子,而中间还是冻冰。在晴朗的气候中,像我们其余的水波,激湍地流动时,波平面是在九十度的直角度里反映了天空的,或者因为太光亮了,从较远处望去,它比天空更蓝些;而在这种时候,泛舟湖上,四处眺望倒影,我发现了一种无可比拟、不能描述的淡蓝色,像浸水的或变色的丝绸,还像青锋宝剑,比之天空还更接近天蓝色,它和那波光的另一面原来的深绿色轮番地闪现,那深绿色与之相比便似乎很混浊了。这是一个玻璃似的带绿色的蓝色,照我所能记忆的,它仿佛是冬天里,日落以前,西方乌云中露出的一角晴天。可是你举起一玻璃杯水,放在空中看,它却毫无颜色,如同装了同样数量的一杯空气一样。众所周知,一大块厚玻璃板便呈现了微绿的颜色,据制造玻璃的人说,那是“体积”的关系,同样的玻璃,少了就不会有颜色了。瓦尔登湖应该有多少的水量才能泛出这样的绿色呢,我从来都无法证明。一个直接朝下望着我们的水色的人所见到的是黑的,或深棕色的,一个到河水中游泳的人,河水像所有的湖一样,会给他染上一种黄颜色;但是这个湖水却是这样地纯洁,游泳者会白得像大理石一样,而更奇怪的是,在这水中四肢给放大了,并且给扭曲了,形态非常夸张,值得让米开朗琪罗来作一番研究。

水是这样的透明,二十五至三十英尺下面的水底都可以很清楚地看到。赤脚踏水时,你看到在水面下许多英尺的地方有成群的鲈鱼和银鱼,大约只一英寸长,连前者的横行的花纹也能看得清清楚楚,你会觉得这种鱼也是不愿意沾染红尘,才到这里来生存的。有一次,在冬天里,好几年前了,为了钓梭鱼,我在冰上挖了几个洞,上岸之后,我把一柄斧头扔在冰上,可是好像有什么恶鬼故意要开玩笑似的,斧头在冰上滑过了四五杆远,刚好从一个窟窿中滑了下去,那里的水深二十五英尺,为了好奇,我躺在冰上,从那窟窿里望,我看到了那柄斧头,它偏在一边头向下直立着,那斧柄笔直向上,顺着湖水的脉动摇摇摆摆,要不是我后来又把它吊了起来,它可能就会这样直立下去,直到木柄烂掉为止。就在它的上面,用我带来的凿冰的凿子,我又凿了一个洞,又用我的刀,割下了我看到的附近最长的一条赤杨树枝,我做了一个活结的绳圈,放在树枝的一头,小心地放下去,用它套住了斧柄凸出的地方,然后用赤杨枝旁边的绳子一拉,这样就把那柄斧头吊了起来。

湖岸是由一长溜像铺路石那样的光滑的圆圆的白石组成的;除一两处小小的沙滩之外,它陡立着,纵身一跃便可以跳到一个人深的水中;要不是水波明净得出奇,你决不可能看到这个湖的底部,除非是它又在对岸升起。有人认为它深得没有底。它没有一处是泥泞的,偶尔观察的过客或许还会说,它里面连水草也没有一根;至于可以见到的水草,除了最近给上涨了的水淹没的、并不属于这个湖的草地以外,便是细心地查看也确实是看不到菖蒲和芦苇的,甚至没有水莲花,无论是黄色的或是白色的,最多只有一些心形叶子和河蓼草,也许还有一两张眼子菜;然而,游泳者也看不到它们;便是这些水草,也像它们生长在里面的水一样的明亮而无垢。岸石伸展入水,只一二杆远,水底已是纯粹的细沙,除了最深的部分,那里总不免有一点沉积物,也许是腐朽了的叶子,多少个秋天来,落叶被刮到湖上,另外还有一些光亮的绿色水苔,甚至在深冬时令拔起铁锚来的时候,它们也会跟着被拔上来的。

我们还有另一个这样的湖,在九亩角那里的白湖,在偏西两英里半之处;可是以这里为中心的十二英里半径的圆周之内,虽然还有许多的湖沼是我熟悉的,我却找不出第三个湖有这样的纯洁得如同井水的特性。大约历来的民族都饮用过这湖水,艳羡过它并测量过它的深度,而后他们一个个消逝了,湖水却依然澄清,发出绿色。一个春天也没有变化过!也许远在亚当和夏娃被逐出伊甸乐园时,那个春晨之前,瓦尔登湖已经存在了,甚至在那个时候,随着轻雾和一阵阵的南凤,飘下了一阵柔和的春雨,湖面不再平静了,成群的野鸭和天鹅在湖上游着,它们一点都没有知道逐出乐园这一回事,能有这样纯粹的湖水真够满足啦。就是在那时候,它已经又涨,又落,纯清了它的水,还染上了现在它所有的色泽,还专有了这一片天空,成了世界上唯一的一个瓦尔登湖,它是天上露珠的蒸馏器。谁知道,在多少篇再没人记得的民族诗篇中,这个湖曾被誉为喀斯泰里亚之泉?在黄金时代里,有多少山林水泽的精灵曾在这里居住?这是在康科德的冠冕上的第一滴水明珠。

第一个到这个湖边来的人们可能留下过他们的足迹。我曾经很惊异地发现,就在沿湖被砍伐了的一个浓密的森林那儿,峻削的山崖中,有一条绕湖一匝的狭窄的高架的小径,一会儿上,一忽儿下,一会儿接近湖,一忽儿又离远了一些,它或许和人类同年,土著的猎者,用脚步走出了这条路来,以后世世代代都有这片土地上的居住者不知不觉地用脚走过去。冬天,站在湖中央,看起来这就更加清楚,特别在下了一阵小雪之后,它就成了连绵起伏的一条白线,败草和枯枝都不能够掩蔽它,许多地点,在四分之一英里以外看起来还格外清楚,但是夏天里,便是走近去看,也还是看不出来。可以说,雪花用清楚的白色的浮雕又把它印刷出来了。但愿到了将来,人们在这里建造一些别墅的装饰庭园时,还能保留这一残迹。

湖水时涨时落,但是有没有规律,如有规律,又是怎样的周期,谁也不知道,虽然有不少人,照常要装作是知道的。冬天的水位通常要高一些,夏天的总低一些,但水位与天气的干燥潮湿却没有关系。我还记得,何时水退到比我住在那儿的时候低了一两英尺,何时又涨高了至少有五英尺。有一个狭长的沙洲伸展到湖中,它的一面是深水,离主岸约六杆,那大约是一八二四年,我曾在上面煮开过一壶杂烩,可是一连二十五年水淹没了它,我无法再去煮什么了;另一方面,当我告诉我的朋友们说,数年之后,我会经常垂钧在森林中的那个僻隐的山凹里,驾一叶扁舟,在离开他们现在看得见的湖岸约十五杆的地方,那里早已成为一片草地了,他们常常听得将信将疑。可是,两年来,湖一直在涨高,现在,一八五二年的夏天,比我居住那儿的时候已经高出五英尺,相当于三十年之前的高度,在那片草地上又可以垂钓了。从外表看,水位已涨了六七英尺,但是从周围的山上流下来的水量实际上不多,涨水一定是由于影响它深处泉源的一些原因。同一个夏天里水又退了。惊人的是这种涨落,不管它有否周期,却需要好几年才能够完成。我观察到一次涨,又部分地观察了两次退,我想在十二或十五年后,水位又要降落到我以前知道的地方。偏东一英里,茀灵特湖有泉水流入,又流水出去,是激荡涨落的,而一些介乎中间的较小的湖沼却和瓦尔登湖同进退,最近也涨到了它们的最高的水位,时间与后者相同。根据我的观察所及,白湖的情形也如此。

间隔很久的瓦尔登湖的涨落至少有这样一个作用:在最高的水位维持了一年左右,沿湖步行固然困难了,但自从上一次水涨以来,沿湖生长的灌木和苍松,白桦,桤木,白杨等树木都给冲刷掉了,等它水位退下,就留下一片干净的湖岸,它不像别的湖沼和每天水位涨落的河流,它在水位最低时,湖岸上反而最清洁。在我屋边的那湖岸上,一排十五英尺高的苍松给冲刷了,仿佛给杠杆掀倒了似的,这样制止了它们的侵占;那树木的大小恰好说明了上次水位上涨到这个高度迄今有了多少年。用这样的涨落方式,湖保持了它的拥有湖岸的权利,湖岸这样被刮去了胡须,树木不能凭着所有权来占领它。湖的舌头舔着,使胡子生长不出来。它时时要舔舔它的面颊。当湖水涨得最高时,桤木,柳树和枫树从它们的淹在水里的根上伸出来大量纤维质的红根须,长达数英尺,离地有三四英尺高,想这样来保护它们自己;我还发现了,那些在岸边高处的浆果,通常是不结果实的,但在这种情况下,却就有了丰收。

湖岸怎么会铺砌得这样整齐,有人百思不得其解,乡镇上的人都听到过传说,最年老的人告诉我说,他们是在青年时代听来的——在古时候,正当印第安人在一个小山上举行狂欢庆典,小山忽然高高升到天上,就像湖现在这样深深降人地下,据说他们做了许多不敬神的行为,其实印第安人从没有犯过这种罪,正当他们这样亵读神明的时候,山岳震撼,大地突然间沉下去,只留下了一个印第安女子,名叫瓦尔登,她逃掉了性命,从此这湖沿用了她的名字。据揣想是在山岳震撼时,这些圆石滚了下来,铺成了现在的湖岸。无论如何,这一点可以确定,以前这里没有湖,现在却有了一个;这一个印第安神话跟我前面说起过的那一位古代的居民是毫无抵触的,他清清楚楚地记得他初来时,带来一根魔杖,他看到草地上升起了一种稀薄的雾气,那根榛木杖就一直指向下面,直到后来他决定挖一口井。至于那些石子呢,很多人认为它们不可能起固于山的波动;据我观察,四周的山上有很多这样的石子,因此人们不能不在铁路经过的最靠近那湖的地方在两边筑起墙垣;而且湖岸愈是陡削的地方,石子愈是多;所以,不幸的是,这对于我不再有什么神秘了。我猜出了铺砌的人来了。如果这个湖名不是由当地一个叫萨福隆·瓦尔登的英国人的名字化出来的后,——那末,我想瓦尔登湖原来的名字可能是围而得湖。

湖对于我,是一口挖好的现成的井。一年有四个月水是冰冷的,正如它一年四季的水是纯净的;我想,这时候它就算不是乡镇上最好的水,至少比得上任何地方的水。在冬天里,暴露在空气中的水,总比那些保暖的泉水和井水来得更冷。从下午五点直到第二天,一八四六年三月六日正午,在我静坐的房间内,寒暑表温度时而是华氏六十五度,时而是七十度,一部分是因为太阳曾照在我的屋脊上,而从湖中汲取的水,放在这房子里,温度只四十二度,比起村中最冷的一口井里当场汲取的井水还低了一度。同一天内,沸泉温度是四十五度,那是经我测量的各种水中最最温暖的了,虽然到了夏天,它又是最最寒冷的水,那是指浮在上面的浅浅一层停滞的水并没有混杂在内。在夏天里,瓦尔登湖因为很深,所以也不同于一般暴露在阳光底下的水。它没有它们那么热。在最热的气候里,我时常汲一桶水,放在地窖里面。它夜间一冷却下来,就整天都冷,有时我也到附近一个泉水里去汲水。过了一个星期,水还像汲出来的当天一样好,并且没有抽水机的味道。谁要在夏天,到湖边去露营,只要在营帐的阴处,把一桶水埋下几英尺深,他就可以不用奢侈的藏冰了。

在瓦尔登湖中,捉到过梭鱼,有一条重七磅,且不去说那另外的一条,用非常的速度把一卷钓丝拉走了,渔夫因为没有看到它,估计它稳稳当当有八磅的重量,此外,还捉到过鲈鱼,鳘鱼,有些重两磅,还有银鱼,鳊鱼(学名Leueiscus Pulchellus),极少量的鲤鱼,两条鳗鱼,有一条有四磅重,——我对于鱼的重量写得这样详细,因为它们的价值一般是根据重量来决定的,至于鳗鱼,除了这两条我就没有听说过另外的,——此外,我还隐约记得一条五英寸长的小鱼,两侧是银色的,背脊却呈青色,性质上近于鲦鱼,我提起这条鱼,主要是为了把事实和寓言连接起来。总之是,这个湖里,鱼并不多。梭鱼也不很多,但它夸耀的是梭鱼。有一次我躺卧在冰上面,至少看到了三种不同的梭鱼,一种扁而长的,钢灰色,像一般从河里捉起来的一样;一种是金晃晃的,有绿色的闪光,在很深的深水中;最后一种金色的,形态跟上一种相近,但身体两侧有棕黑色或黑色斑点,中间还夹着一些淡淡的血红色斑点,很像鲑鱼。但学名reticulatus (网形)用不上,被称为guttatus (斑斓)才对。这些都是很结实的鱼,重量比外貌上看来要重得多。银鱼、鳘鱼,还有鲈鱼,所有在这个湖中的水族,确实都比一般的河流和多数的别的湖沼中的鱼类,来得更清洁,更漂亮,更结实,因为这里的湖水更纯洁,你可以很容易地把它们区别出来。也许有许多鱼学家可以用它们来培育出一些新品种。此外还有清洁的青蛙和乌龟,少数的淡菜;麝香鼠和貂鼠也留下过它们的足迹;偶尔还有从烂泥中钻出来旅行经过的甲鱼。有一次,当我在黎明中把我的船推离湖岸时,有一只夜里躲在船底下的大甲鱼给我惊拢得不安了。春秋两季,鸭和天鹅常来,白肚皮的燕子(学名Hirundo bicolor)在水波上掠过,还有些身有斑点的田凫(学名Totanus macularius)整个夏天摇摇摆摆地走在石头湖岸上。我有时还惊起了湖水上面、坐在白松枝头的一只鱼鹰;我却不知道有没有海鸥飞到这里来过,像它们曾飞到过美港去那样。至多每年还有一次潜水鸟要来。常到这里来的飞禽,已全部包罗在内了。

在宁静的气候中,坐在船上,你可以看到,东边的沙滩附近,水深八英尺或十英尺的地方,在湖的另一些地方,也可以看到的,有圆形的一堆堆东西,约一英尺高,直径约六英尺,堆的是比鸡蛋略小的一些圆石,而在这一堆堆圆石周围,全是黄沙。起初,你会觉得惊奇,是否那些印第安人故意在冰上堆积这些圆石,等到冰溶化了,它们就沉到了湖底;但是,就算这样吧,那形式还是太规则化了,而且有些圆石,显然又太新鲜。它们和河流中可以看见的很相似。但这里没有胭脂鱼或八目鳗,我不知道它是哪一些鱼建筑起来的。也许它是银鱼的巢。这样,水底更有了一种愉快的神秘感了。

湖岸极不规则,所以一点不单调。我闭目也能看见,西岸有深深的锯齿形的湾,北岸较开朗,而那美丽的,扇贝形的南岸,一个个岬角相互地交叠着,使人想起岬角之间一定还有人迹未到的小海湾。在群山之中,小湖中央,望着水边直立而起的那些山上的森林,这些森林不能再有更好的背景,也不能更美丽了,因为森林已经反映在湖水中,这不仅是形成了最美的前景,而且那弯弯曲曲的湖岸,恰又给它做了最自然又最愉悦的边界线。不像斧头砍伐出一个林中空地,或者露出了一片开垦了的田地的那种地方,这儿没有不美的或者不完整的感觉。树木都有充分的余地在水边扩展,每一棵树都向了这个方向伸出最强有力的桠枝。大自然编织了一幅很自然的织锦,眼睛可以从沿岸最低的矮树渐渐地望上去,望到最高的树。这里看不到多少人类的双手留下的痕迹。水洗湖岸,正如一千年前。

一个湖是风景中最美、最有表情的姿容。它是大地的眼睛;望着它的人可以测出他自己的天性的深浅。湖所产生的湖边的树木是睫毛一样的镶边,而四周森林蓊郁的群山和山崖是它的浓密突出的眉毛。

站在湖东端的平坦的沙滩上,在一个平静的九月下午,薄雾使对岸的岸线看不甚清楚,那时我了解了所谓“玻璃似的湖面”这句话是什么意思了。当你倒转了头看湖,它像一条最精细的薄纱张挂在山谷之上,衬着远处的松林而发光,把大气的一层和另外的一层隔开了。你会觉得你可以从它下面走过去,走到对面的山上,而身体还是干的,你觉得掠过水面的燕子很可以停在水面上。是的,有时它们氽水到水平线之下,好像这是偶然的错误,继而恍然大悟。当你向西,望到湖对面去的时候,你不能不用两手来保护你的眼睛,一方面挡开本来的太阳光,同时又挡开映在水中的太阳光;如果,这时你能够在这两种太阳光之间,批判地考察湖面,它正应了那句话,所谓“波平如镜”了,其时只有一些掠水虫,隔开了同等距离,分散在全部的湖面,而由于它们在阳光里发出了最精美的想象得到的闪光来,或许,还会有一只鸭子在整理它自己的羽毛,或许,正如我已经说过的,一只燕子飞掠在水面上,低得碰到了水。还有可能,在远处,有一条鱼在空中画出了一个大约三四英尺的圆弧来,它跃起时一道闪光,降落入水,又一道闪光,有时,全部的圆弧展露了,银色的圆弧;但这里或那里,有时会漂着一枝蓟草,鱼向它一跃,水上便又激起水涡。这像是玻璃的溶液,已经冷却,但是还没有凝结,而其中连少数尘垢也还是纯洁而美丽的,像玻璃中的细眼。你还常常可以看到一片更平滑、更黝黑的水,好像有一张看不见的蜘蛛网把它同其余的隔开似的,成了水妖的栅栏,躺在湖面。从山顶下瞰,你可以看到,几乎到处都有跃起的鱼;在这样凝滑的平面上,没有一条梭鱼或银鱼在捕捉一个虫子时,不会破坏全湖的均势的。真是神奇,这简简单单的一件事,却可以这么精巧地显现,——这水族界的谋杀案会暴露出来——我站在远远的高处,看到了那水的扩大的圆涡,它们的直径有五六杆长。甚至你还可以看到水蝎(学名Gyrinus)不停地在平滑的水面滑了四分之一英里;它们微微地犁出了水上的皱纹来,分出两条界线,其间有着很明显的漪澜;而掠水虫在水面上滑来滑去却不留下显明的可见痕迹。在湖水激荡的时候,便看不到掠水虫和水蝎了,显然只在风平浪静的时候,它们才从它们的港埠出发,探险似地从湖岸的一面,用短距离的滑行,滑上前去,滑上前去,直到它们滑过全湖。这是何等愉快的事啊。秋天里,在这样一个晴朗的天气中,充分地享受了太阳的温暖,在这样的高处坐在一个树桩上,湖的全景尽收眼底,细看那圆圆的水涡,那些圆涡一刻不停地刻印在天空和树木的倒影中间的水面上,要不是有这些水涡,水面是看不到的。在这样广大的一片水面上,并没有一点儿扰动,就有一点儿,也立刻柔和地复归于平静而消失了,好像在水边装一瓶子水,那些颤栗的水波流回到岸边之后,立刻又平滑了。一条鱼跳跃起来,一个虫子掉落到湖上,都这样用圆涡,用美丽的线条来表达,仿佛那是泉源中的经常的喷涌,它的生命的轻柔的搏动,它的胸膛的呼吸起伏。那是欢乐的震抖,还是痛苦的颤栗,都无从分辨。湖的现象是何等的和平啊!人类的工作又像在春天里一样的发光了。是啊,每一树叶、桠枝、石子和蜘蛛网在下午茶时又在发光,跟它们在春天的早晨承露以后一样。每一支划桨的或每一只虫子的动作都能发出一道闪光来,而一声桨响,又能引出何等的甜蜜的回音来啊!

在这样的一天里,九月或十月,瓦尔登是森林的一面十全十美的明镜,它四面用石子镶边,我看它们是珍贵而稀世的。再没有什么像这一个躺卧在大地表面的湖沼这样美,这样纯洁,同时又这样大。秋水长天。它不需要一个篱笆。民族来了,去了,都不能玷污它。这一面明镜,石子敲不碎它,它的水银永远擦不掉,它的外表的装饰,大自然经常地在那里弥补;没有风暴,没有尘垢,能使它常新的表面黯淡无光;——这一面镜子,如果有任何不洁落在它面上,马上就沉淀,太阳的雾意的刷子常在拂拭它,——这是光的拭尘布,——呵气在上,也留不下形迹,成了云它就从水面飘浮到高高的空中,却又立刻把它反映在它的胸怀中了。

空中的精灵也都逃不过这一片大水。它经常地从上空接受新的生命和新的动作。湖是大地和天空之间的媒介物。在大地上,只有草木是摇摆如波浪的,可是水自身给风吹出了涟漪来。我可以从一线或一片闪光上,看到风从那里吹过去。我们能俯视水波,真是了不起。也许我们还应该像这样细细地俯视那天空的表面,看看是不是有一种更精细的精灵,在它上面扫过。

到了十月的后半个月,掠水虫和水蝎终于不再出现了,严霜已经来到;于是在十一月中,通常在一个好天气里,没有任何东西在水面上激起涟漪。十一月中的一个下午,已经一连降落了几天的雨终于停止了,天空还全部都是阴沉沉的,充满了雾,我发现湖水是出奇地平静,因此简直就看不出它的表面来了,虽然它不再反映出十月份的光辉色彩,它却反映出了四周小山的十一月的阴暗颜色。于是我尽可能地轻轻静静,泛舟湖上,而船尾激起的微弱水波还一直延伸到我的视野之外,湖上的倒影也就曲折不已了。可是,当我望望水面,我远远地看到这里那里有一种微光,仿佛一些躲过了严霜的掠水虫又在集合了,或许是湖的平面太平静了,因此水底有涌起的泉源不知不觉也能在水面觉察到。划桨到了那些地方,我才惊奇地发现我自己已给成亿万的小鲈鱼围住,都只五英寸长;绿水中有了华丽的铜色,它们在那里嬉戏着,经常地升到水面来,给水面一些小小水涡,有时还留一些小小水泡在上面。在这样透明的、似乎无底的、反映了云彩的水中,我好像坐了轻气球而漂浮在空中,鲈鱼的游泳又是多么像在盘旋、飞翔,仿佛它们成了一群飞鸟,就在我所处的高度下,或左或右地飞绕;它们的鳍,像帆一样,饱满地张挂着。在这个湖中有许多这样的水族,显然它们要改进一下,在冬天降下冰幕,遮去它们的天光之前的那个短暂的季节,有时候那被它们激荡的水波,好像有一阵微风吹过,或者像有一阵温和的小雨点落下。等到我漫不经心地接近它们;它们惊慌起来,突然尾巴横扫,激起水花,好像有人用一根毛刷般的树枝鞭挞了水波,立刻它们都躲到深水底下去了。后来,风吹得紧了,雾也浓重了,水波开始流动,鲈鱼跳跃得比以前更高,半条鱼身已跳出水面,一下子跳了起来,成百个黑点,都有三英寸长。有一年,一直到十二月五号,我还看到水面上有水涡,我以为马上就会下大雨了,空中弥漫着雾,我急忙忙地坐在划桨的座位上,划回家去:雨点已经越来越大了,但是我不觉得雨点打在我的面颊上,其时我以为我兔不了要全身湿透。可是突然间水涡全部没有了,原来这都是鲈鱼搅出来的,我的桨声终于把它们吓退到深水中去;我看到它们成群结队地消隐!这天下午我全身一直是干燥的呢。

一个大约六十年前常来湖边的老头儿,每每在黑暗笼罩了周围森林的时候前来告诉我,在他那个时代,有时湖上很热闹,全是鸭子和别的水禽,上空还有许多老鹰在盘旋。他是到这里来钧鱼的,用的是他在岸上找到的一只古老的独木舟。这是两根白松,中间挖空,钉在一起造成的,两端都削成四方形。它很粗笨,可是用了很多年,才全部浸满了水,此后也许已沉到湖底去了。他不知道这是属于哪个人的;或可以说是属于湖所有的。他常常把山核桃树皮一条条地捆起来,做成锚索。另外一个老年人,一个陶器工人,在革命以前住在湖边的,有一次告诉过他,在湖底下有一只大铁箱,还曾经看到过。有时候,它会给水漂到岸上来,可是等你走近去的时候,它就又回到深水去,就此消失了。听到那有关独木舟的一段话,我感到很有趣味,这条独木舟代替了另外一条印第安的独木舟,材料还是一样,可是造得雅致得多。原先那大约是岸上的一棵树,后来,好像倒在湖中,在那儿漂荡了一世代之久,对这个湖来说,真是再适当不过的船舶。我记得我第一次凝望这一片湖水的深处时,隐约看到有很多大树干躺卧在湖底,若非大风把它们吹折的,便是经砍伐之后,停放在冰上,因为那时候木料的价格大便宜了,可是现在,这些树干大部分都已经消失了。

我第一次划船在瓦尔登湖上的时候,它四周完全给浓密而高大的松树和橡树围起,有些山凹中,葡萄藤爬过了猢边的树,形成一些凉亭,船只可以在下面通过。形成湖岸的那些山太峻削,山上的树木又太高,所以从西端望下来,这里像一个圆形剧场,水上可以演出些山林的舞台剧。我年纪轻一点的时候,就在那儿消磨了好些光阴,像和风一样地在湖上漂浮过,我先把船划到湖心,而后背靠在座位上,在一个夏天的上午,似梦非梦地醒着,直到船撞在沙滩上,惊动了我,我就欠起身来,看看命运已把我推送到哪一个岸边来了;那种日子里,懒惰是最诱惑人的事业,它的产量也是最丰富的。我这样偷闲地过了许多个上午。我宁愿把一日之计在于晨的最宝贵的光阴这样虚掷;因为我是富有的,虽然这话与金钱无关,我却富有阳光照耀的时辰以及夏令的日月,我挥霍着它们;我并没有把它们更多地浪费在工场中,或教师的讲台上,这我也一点儿不后悔。可是,自从我离开这湖岸之后,砍伐木材的人竞大砍大伐起来了。从此要有许多年不可能在林间的南道上徜佯了,不可能从这样的森林中偶见湖水了。我的缪斯女神如果沉默了,她是情有可原的。森林已被砍伐,怎能希望鸣禽歌唱?

现在,湖底的树干,古老的独木舟,黑魆魆的四周的林木,都没有了,村民本来是连这个湖在什么地方都不知道的,却不但没有跑到这湖上来游泳或喝水,反而想到用一根管子来把这些湖水引到村中去给他们洗碗洗碟子了。这是和恒河之水一样地圣洁的水!而他们却想转动一个开关,拔起一个塞子就利用瓦尔登的湖水了!这恶魔似的铁马,那裂破人耳的鼓膜的声音已经全乡镇都听得到了,它已经用肮脏的脚步使沸泉的水混浊了,正是它,它把瓦尔登岸上的树木吞噬了;这特洛伊木马,腹中躲了一千个人,全是那些经商的希腊人想出来的!哪里去找呵,找这个国家的武士,摩尔大厅的摩尔人,到名叫“深割”的最深创伤的地方去掷出复仇的投枪,刺人这傲慢瘟神的肋骨之间?

然而,据我们知道的一些角色中,也许只有瓦尔登坚持得最久,最久地保持了它的纯洁。许多人都曾经被譬喻为瓦尔登湖,但只有少数几个人能受之无愧。虽然伐木的人已经把湖岸这一段和那一段的树木先后砍光了,爱尔兰人也已经在那儿建造了他们的陋室,铁路线已经侵入了它的边境,冰藏商人已经取过它一次冰,它本身却没有变化,还是我在青春时代所见的湖水;我反倒变了。它虽然有那么多的涟漪,却并没有一条永久性的皱纹。它永远年轻,我还可以站在那儿,看到一只飞燕但然扑下,从水面衔走一条小虫,正和从前一样。今儿晚上,这感情又来袭击我了,仿佛二十多年来我并没有几乎每天都和它在一起厮混过一样,——啊,这是瓦尔登,还是我许多年之前发现的那个林中湖泊;这儿,去年冬天被砍伐了一个森林,另一座林子已经跳跃了起来,在湖边依旧奢丽地生长;同样的思潮,跟那时候一样,又涌上来了;还是同样水露露的欢乐,内在的喜悦,创造者的喜悦,是的,这可能是我的喜悦。这湖当然是一个大勇者的作品,其中毫无一丝一毫的虚伪!他用他的手围起了这一泓湖水,在他的思想中,予以深化,予以澄清,并在他的遗嘱中,把它传给了康科德。我从它的水面上又看到了同样的倒影,我几乎要说了,瓦尔登,是你吗?

这不是我的梦,

用于装饰一行诗;

我不能更接近上帝和天堂

甚于我之生活在瓦尔登。

我是它的圆石岸,

瓢拂而过的风;

在我掌中的一握,

是它的水,它的沙,

而它的最深邃僻隐处

高高躺在我的思想中。

火车从来不停下来欣赏湖光山色;然而我想那些司机,火夫,制动手和那些买了月票的旅客,常看到它,多少是会欣赏这些景色的。司机并没有在夜里忘掉它,或者说他的天性并没有忘掉它,白天他至少有一次瞥见这庄严、纯洁的景色。就算他看到的只有一瞥,这却已经可以洗净国务街和那引擎上的油腻了。有人建议过,这湖可以称为“神的一滴”。

我说过,瓦尔登湖是看不见它的来龙去脉的,但一面它与莽灵特湖远远地、间接地相连,茀灵特湖比较高,其中有一连串的小湖沼通过来,在另一面显然它又直接和康科德河相连,康科德河比较低,却也有一连串的小湖沼横在中间,在另一个地质学的年代中,它也许泛滥过,只要稍为挖掘一下,它还是可以流到这儿来的,但上帝禁止这种挖掘,如果说,湖这样含蓄而自尊,像隐士一样生活在森林之中已经这么久,因此得到了这样神奇的纯洁,假如茀灵特湖的比较不纯洁的湖水流到了它那里,假如它自己的甘洌的水波又流到了海洋里去,那谁会不抱怨呢?

茀灵特湖或称沙湖,在林肯区,是我们最大的湖或内海,它位于瓦尔登以东大约一英里的地方。它要大得多了,据说有一百九十六英亩,鱼类也更丰富,可是水比较浅,而且不十分纯洁。散步经过森林到那里去一次,常常是我的消遣。即使仅仅为了让风自由地扑到你的脸庞上来,即使仅仅为了一睹波浪,缅想着舟子的海洋生活,那也是值得的。秋天,刮风的日子,我去那里拣拾栗子,那时栗子掉在水里,又给波浪卷到我的脚边。有一次我爬行在芦苇丛生的岸边,新鲜的浪花飞溅到我脸上,我碰到了一只船的残骸,船舷都没有了,在灯心草丛中,几乎只剩一个平底的印象;但是它的模型却很显明地存在,似乎这是一个大的朽烂了的甲板垫木,连纹路都很清楚。这是海岸上人能想象到的给人最深刻印象的破船,其中也含有很好的教训。但这时,它只成了长满植物的模型和不显眼的湖岸了,菖蒲和灯心草都已生长在中间。我常常欣赏北岸湖底沙滩上的涟漪痕迹,湖底已经给水的压力压得很坚硬,或涉水者的脚能感觉到它的硬度了,而单行生长的灯心草,排成弯弯曲曲的行列,也和这痕迹符合,一行又一行,好像是波浪把它们种植的。在那里,我还发现了一些奇怪的球茎,数量相当多,显然是很精细的草或根,也许是谷精草根组成的,直径自半英寸到四英寸,是很完美的圆体。这些圆球在浅水的沙滩上随波滚动,有时就给冲到了岸上来。它们若不是紧密的草球,便是中心有着一包细沙的。起初,你会说这是波浪的运动所造成的,就像圆卵石;但是最小的半英寸的圆球,其质地也粗糙得跟大的那些一样,它们只在每年的一个季节内产生。我怀疑,对于一个已经形成的东西,这些波浪是破坏多于建设的。这些圆球,出水以后还可以把它们的形状保持一定的时期。

茀灵特的湖!我们的命名就这样子的贫困!在这个水天之中耕作,又强暴地糟蹋了湖岸的一个污秽愚昧的农夫,他有什么资格用他自己的姓名来称呼这一个湖呢?很可能是一个悭吝的人,他更爱一块大洋或一只光亮的角子的反光,从中他可以看到自己那无耻的厚脸;连野鸭飞来,他也认为它们是擅入者;他习惯于残忍贪婪地攫取东西,手指已经像弯曲的鹰爪,这个湖的命名不合我的意。我到那里去,决不是看这个茀灵特去,也决不是去听人家说起他;他从没有看见这个湖,从没有在里面游泳过,从没有爱过它,从没有保护过它,从没有说过它一个好字眼儿,也从没有因为上帝创造了它而感谢过上帝。这个湖还不如用在湖里游泳的那些鱼的名字,用常到这湖上来的飞禽或走兽的名字,用生长在湖岸上的野花的名字,或者用什么野人或野孩子的名字,他们的生命曾经和这个湖交织在一起的;而不要用他的名字,除了同他志趣相投的邻人和法律给他的契据以外,他对湖没有什么所有权,——他只想到金钱的价值;他的存在就诅咒了全部的湖岸,他竭尽了湖边的土地,大约还要竭泽而渔呢;他正在抱怨的只是这里不是生长英吉利于草或蔓越橘的牧场,——在他看来,这确实是无法补偿的,——他甚至为了湖底的污泥可以卖钱,宁愿淘干湖水。湖水又不能替他转动磨子,他不觉得欣赏风景是一种权利。我一点不敬重他的劳动,他的田园处处都标明了价格,他可以把风景,甚至可以把上帝都拿到市场上去拍卖,如果这些可以给予他一些利益;他到市场上去就是为了他那个上帝;在他的田园上,没有一样东西是自由地生长的,他的田里没有生长五谷,他的牧场上没有开花,他的果树上也没有结果,都只生长了金钱;他不爱他的水果的美,他认为非到他的水果变成了金钱时,那些水果才算成熟。让我来过那真正富有的贫困生活吧。越是贫困的农夫们,越能得到我的敬意与关切!居然是个模范农场!那里的田舍像粪坑上的菌子一样耸立着,人,马,牛,猪都有清洁的或不洁的房间,彼此相互地传染!人像畜生一样住在里面!一个大油渍,粪和奶酪的气味混在一起!在一个高度的文明底下,人的心和人的脑子变成了粪便似的肥料!仿佛你要在坟场上种上豆!这样便是所谓的模范农场!

不成,不成;如果最美的风景应以人名称呼,那就用最高贵、最有价值的人的名字吧。我们的湖至少应该用伊卡洛斯海这样的真正的名字,在那里,“海上的涛声依然传颂着一次勇敢的尝试”呢。

鹅湖较小,在我去茀灵特湖的中途;美港,是康科德河的一个尾闾,面积有七十英亩,在西南面一英里之处;白湖,大约四十英亩面积,在美港过去一英里半之处。这便是我的湖区。这些,再加上康科德河,是我的湖区;日以继夜,年复一年,他们碾压着我送去的米粮。

自从樵夫、铁路和我自己玷辱了瓦尔登以后,所有这些湖中最动人的,即使不是最美丽的,要算白湖了,它是林中之珠宝;由于它太平凡了,也很可怜,那命名大约是来源于水的纯洁,或许由于沙粒的颜色。这些方面同其他方面一样,和瓦尔登湖相比,很像孪生兄弟,但略逊一筹。它们俩是这样地相似,你会说它俩一定是在地下接连的。同样的圆石的湖岸,水色亦同。正如在瓦尔登,在酷热的大伏天穿过森林望一些不是顶深的湖湾的时候那样,湖底的反映给水波一种雾蒙蒙的青蓝色,或者说海蓝色的色彩。许多年前,我常到那里去,一车车地运口沙子来制成沙纸,后来我还一直前去游玩。常去游玩的人就想称它为新绿湖。由于下面的情况,也许还可以称它为黄松湖。大约在十五年之前,你去那儿还可以看到一株苍松的华盖,这一种松树虽不是显赫的植物,但在附近这一带有人是称之为黄松的。这株松树伸出在湖的深水之上,离岸有几杆。所以,甚至有人说这个湖下沉过,这一棵松树还是以前在这地方的原始森林的残遗,这话远在一七九二年就有人说起,在马萨诸塞州历史学会藏书库中,有一个该州的公民写过一部《康科德镇志》,在那里面,作者谈到了瓦尔登和白湖之后,接着说,“在白湖之中,水位降低之后,可以看到一棵树,好像它原来就是生长在这里的,虽然它的根是在水面之下五十英尺之深处,这棵树的树顶早已折断,没有了,这折断的地方直径计十四英寸”。一八四九年春天我跟一个住在萨德伯里,最靠近这湖沼的人谈过一次话,他告诉我十年或十五年之前把这棵树拿走的正是他自己。据他所能记得的是,这树离湖岸十二至十五杆,那里的水有三、四十英尺深。这是冬天,上午他去取冰,决定下午由他的邻居来帮助,把这老黄松取去。他锯去了一长条冰,直锯到岸边,然后动用了牛来拖树,打算把它拔起,拖到冰上;可是还没有进行得很久,他惊异地发现,拔起的是相反的一头,那些残枝都是向下的,而小的一头却紧紧地抓住了沙的湖底。大的一端直径有一英尺,原来他希望得到一些可以锯开的木料,可是树干已经腐烂得只能当柴火,这是说如果要拿它当柴火的话。那时候,他家里还留着一点,在底部还有斧痕和啄木鸟啄过的痕迹。他以为这是湖岸上的一棵死树,后来给风吹到湖里,树顶浸满了水,底部还是干燥的,因此比较轻,倒入水中之后就颠倒过来了。他的八十岁的父亲都不记得这棵黄松是什么时候不见的。湖底还可以见到一些很大的木料,却因为水面的波动,它们看上去像一些婉蜒的巨大的水蛇。

这一个湖很少给船只玷污,因为其中很少吸引渔夫的生物。也没有需要污泥的白百合花,也没有一般的菖蒲,在那纯洁的水中,稀少地生长着蓝菖蒲(学名Iris versicolor),长在沿岸一圈的湖底的圆石上,而在六月中,蜂鸟飞来了,那蓝色的叶片和蓝色的花,特别是它们的反光,和那海蓝色的水波真是异常地和谐。

白湖和瓦尔登湖是大地表面上的两块巨大的水晶,它们是光耀的湖,如果它们是永远地冻结了的,而且又小巧玲珑,可以拿取的,也许它们已经给奴隶们拿了去,像宝石一样,点缀在国王的王冠上了;可是,它的液体也很广大,所以永远保留给我们和我们的子孙了,我们却抛弃了它们,去追求可希诺大钻石了,它们真太纯洁,不能有市场价格,它们没被污染。它们比起我们的生命来,不知美了多少,比起我们的性格来,不知透明了多少!我们从不知道它们有什么瑕疵。和农家门前,鸭子游泳的池塘一比较,它们又不知秀丽了多少!清洁的野鸭到了这里来。在大自然界里,还没有一个人间居民能够欣赏她。鸟儿连同它们的羽毛和乐音,是和花朵谐和的,可是有哪个少年或少女,是同大自然的粗旷华丽的美协调的呢?大自然极其寂寞地繁茂着,远离着他们居住的乡镇。说甚天堂!你侮辱大地。




Baker Farm

Sometimes I rambled to pine groves, standing like temples, or like fleets at sea, full-rigged, with wavy boughs, and rippling with light, so soft and green and shady that the Druids would have forsaken their oaks to worship in them; or to the cedar wood beyond Flint's Pond, where the trees, covered with hoary blue berries, spiring higher and higher, are fit to stand before Valhalla, and the creeping juniper covers the ground with wreaths full of fruit; or to swamps where the usnea lichen hangs in festoons from the white spruce trees, and toadstools, round tables of the swamp gods, cover the ground, and more beautiful fungi adorn the stumps, like butterflies or shells, vegetable winkles; where the swamp-pink and dogwood grow, the red alderberry glows like eyes of imps, the waxwork grooves and crushes the hardest woods in its folds, and the wild holly berries make the beholder forget his home with their beauty, and he is dazzled and tempted by nameless other wild forbidden fruits, too fair for mortal taste. Instead of calling on some scholar, I paid many a visit to particular trees, of kinds which are rare in this neighborhood, standing far away in the middle of some pasture, or in the depths of a wood or swamp, or on a hilltop; such as the black birch, of which we have some handsome specimens two feet in diameter; its cousin, the yellow birch, with its loose golden vest, perfumed like the first; the beech, which has so neat a bole and beautifully lichen-painted, perfect in all its details, of which, excepting scattered specimens, I know but one small grove of sizable trees left in the township, supposed by some to have been planted by the pigeons that were once baited with beechnuts near by; it is worth the while to see the silver grain sparkle when you split this wood; the bass; the hornbeam; the Celtis occidentalis, or false elm, of which we have but one well-grown; some taller mast of a pine, a shingle tree, or a more perfect hemlock than usual, standing like a pagoda in the midst of the woods; and many others I could mention. These were the shrines I visited both summer and winter.

Once it chanced that I stood in the very abutment of a rainbow's arch, which filled the lower stratum of the atmosphere, tinging the grass and leaves around, and dazzling me as if I looked through colored crystal. It was a lake of rainbow light, in which, for a short while, I lived like a dolphin. If it had lasted longer it might have tinged my employments and life. As I walked on the railroad causeway, I used to wonder at the halo of light around my shadow, and would fain fancy myself one of the elect. One who visited me declared that the shadows of some Irishmen before him had no halo about them, that it was only natives that were so distinguished. Benvenuto Cellini tells us in his memoirs, that, after a certain terrible dream or vision which he had during his confinement in the castle of St. Angelo a resplendent light appeared over the shadow of his head at morning and evening, whether he was in Italy or France, and it was particularly conspicuous when the grass was moist with dew. This was probably the same phenomenon to which I have referred, which is especially observed in the morning, but also at other times, and even by moonlight. Though a constant one, it is not commonly noticed, and, in the case of an excitable imagination like Cellini's, it would be basis enough for superstition. Beside, he tells us that he showed it to very few. But are they not indeed distinguished who are conscious that they are regarded at all?

I set out one afternoon to go a-fishing to Fair Haven, through the woods, to eke out my scanty fare of vegetables. My way led through Pleasant Meadow, an adjunct of the Baker Farm, that retreat of which a poet has since sung, beginning,—

"Thy entry is a pleasant field,
    Which some mossy fruit trees yield
    Partly to a ruddy brook,
    By gliding musquash undertook,
    And mercurial trout,
    Darting about."

I thought of living there before I went to Walden. I "hooked" the apples, leaped the brook, and scared the musquash and the trout. It was one of those afternoons which seem indefinitely long before one, in which many events may happen, a large portion of our natural life, though it was already half spent when I started. By the way there came up a shower, which compelled me to stand half an hour under a pine, piling boughs over my head, and wearing my handkerchief for a shed; and when at length I had made one cast over the pickerelweed, standing up to my middle in water, I found myself suddenly in the shadow of a cloud, and the thunder began to rumble with such emphasis that I could do no more than listen to it. The gods must be proud, thought I, with such forked flashes to rout a poor unarmed fisherman. So I made haste for shelter to the nearest hut, which stood half a mile from any road, but so much the nearer to the pond, and had long been uninhabited:—

"And here a poet builded,
    In the completed years,
    For behold a trivial cabin
    That to destruction steers."

So the Muse fables. But therein, as I found, dwelt now John Field, an Irishman, and his wife, and several children, from the broad-faced boy who assisted his father at his work, and now came running by his side from the bog to escape the rain, to the wrinkled, sibyl-like, cone-headed infant that sat upon its father's knee as in the palaces of nobles, and looked out from its home in the midst of wet and hunger inquisitively upon the stranger, with the privilege of infancy, not knowing but it was the last of a noble line, and the hope and cynosure of the world, instead of John Field's poor starveling brat. There we sat together under that part of the roof which leaked the least, while it showered and thundered without. I had sat there many times of old before the ship was built that floated his family to America. An honest, hard-working, but shiftless man plainly was John Field; and his wife, she too was brave to cook so many successive dinners in the recesses of that lofty stove; with round greasy face and bare breast, still thinking to improve her condition one day; with the never absent mop in one hand, and yet no effects of it visible anywhere. The chickens, which had also taken shelter here from the rain, stalked about the room like members of the family, too humanized, methought, to roast well. They stood and looked in my eye or pecked at my shoe significantly. Meanwhile my host told me his story, how hard he worked "bogging" for a neighboring farmer, turning up a meadow with a spade or bog hoe at the rate of ten dollars an acre and the use of the land with manure for one year, and his little broad-faced son worked cheerfully at his father's side the while, not knowing how poor a bargain the latter had made. I tried to help him with my experience, telling him that he was one of my nearest neighbors, and that I too, who came a-fishing here, and looked like a loafer, was getting my living like himself; that I lived in a tight, light, and clean house, which hardly cost more than the annual rent of such a ruin as his commonly amounts to; and how, if he chose, he might in a month or two build himself a palace of his own; that I did not use tea, nor coffee, nor butter, nor milk, nor fresh meat, and so did not have to work to get them; again, as I did not work hard, I did not have to eat hard, and it cost me but a trifle for my food; but as he began with tea, and coffee, and butter, and milk, and beef, he had to work hard to pay for them, and when he had worked hard he had to eat hard again to repair the waste of his system—and so it was as broad as it was long, indeed it was broader than it was long, for he was discontented and wasted his life into the bargain; and yet he had rated it as a gain in coming to America, that here you could get tea, and coffee, and meat every day. But the only true America is that country where you are at liberty to pursue such a mode of life as may enable you to do without these, and where the state does not endeavor to compel you to sustain the slavery and war and other superfluous expenses which directly or indirectly result from the use of such things. For I purposely talked to him as if he were a philosopher, or desired to be one. I should be glad if all the meadows on the earth were left in a wild state, if that were the consequence of men's beginning to redeem themselves. A man will not need to study history to find out what is best for his own culture. But alas! the culture of an Irishman is an enterprise to be undertaken with a sort of moral bog hoe. I told him, that as he worked so hard at bogging, he required thick boots and stout clothing, which yet were soon soiled and worn out, but I wore light shoes and thin clothing, which cost not half so much, though he might think that I was dressed like a gentleman (which, however, was not the case), and in an hour or two, without labor, but as a recreation, I could, if I wished, catch as many fish as I should want for two days, or earn enough money to support me a week. If he and his family would live simply, they might all go a-huckleberrying in the summer for their amusement. John heaved a sigh at this, and his wife stared with arms a-kimbo, and both appeared to be wondering if they had capital enough to begin such a course with, or arithmetic enough to carry it through. It was sailing by dead reckoning to them, and they saw not clearly how to make their port so; therefore I suppose they still take life bravely, after their fashion, face to face, giving it tooth and nail, not having skill to split its massive columns with any fine entering wedge, and rout it in detail;—thinking to deal with it roughly, as one should handle a thistle. But they fight at an overwhelming disadvantage—living, John Field, alas! without arithmetic, and failing so.

"Do you ever fish?" I asked. "Oh yes, I catch a mess now and then when I am lying by; good perch I catch."—"What's your bait?" "I catch shiners with fishworms, and bait the perch with them." "You'd better go now, John," said his wife, with glistening and hopeful face; but John demurred.

The shower was now over, and a rainbow above the eastern woods promised a fair evening; so I took my departure. When I had got without I asked for a drink, hoping to get a sight of the well bottom, to complete my survey of the premises; but there, alas! are shallows and quicksands, and rope broken withal, and bucket irrecoverable. Meanwhile the right culinary vessel was selected, water was seemingly distilled, and after consultation and long delay passed out to the thirsty one—not yet suffered to cool, not yet to settle. Such gruel sustains life here, I thought; so, shutting my eyes, and excluding the motes by a skilfully directed undercurrent, I drank to genuine hospitality the heartiest draught I could. I am not squeamish in such cases when manners are concerned.

As I was leaving the Irishman's roof after the rain, bending my steps again to the pond, my haste to catch pickerel, wading in retired meadows, in sloughs and bog-holes, in forlorn and savage places, appeared for an instant trivial to me who had been sent to school and college; but as I ran down the hill toward the reddening west, with the rainbow over my shoulder, and some faint tinkling sounds borne to my ear through the cleansed air, from I know not what quarter, my Good Genius seemed to say—Go fish and hunt far and wide day by day—farther and wider—and rest thee by many brooks and hearth-sides without misgiving. Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth. Rise free from care before the dawn, and seek adventures. Let the noon find thee by other lakes, and the night overtake thee everywhere at home. There are no larger fields than these, no worthier games than may here be played. Grow wild according to thy nature, like these sedges and brakes, which will never become English bay. Let the thunder rumble; what if it threaten ruin to farmers' crops? That is not its errand to thee. Take shelter under the cloud, while they flee to carts and sheds. Let not to get a living be thy trade, but thy sport. Enjoy the land, but own it not. Through want of enterprise and faith men are where they are, buying and selling, and spending their lives like serfs.

O Baker Farm!

"Landscape where the richest element
    Is a little sunshine innocent."...

   "No one runs to revel
    On thy rail-fenced lea."...

   "Debate with no man hast thou,
    With questions art never perplexed,
    As tame at the first sight as now,
    In thy plain russet gabardine dressed."...

   "Come ye who love,
    And ye who hate,
    Children of the Holy Dove,
    And Guy Faux of the state,
    And hang conspiracies
    From the tough rafters of the trees!"

Men come tamely home at night only from the next field or street, where their household echoes haunt, and their life pines because it breathes its own breath over again; their shadows, morning and evening, reach farther than their daily steps. We should come home from far, from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day, with new experience and character.

Before I had reached the pond some fresh impulse had brought out John Field, with altered mind, letting go "bogging" ere this sunset. But he, poor man, disturbed only a couple of fins while I was catching a fair string, and he said it was his luck; but when we changed seats in the boat luck changed seats too. Poor John Field!—I trust he does not read this, unless he will improve by it—thinking to live by some derivative old-country mode in this primitive new country—to catch perch with shiners. It is good bait sometimes, I allow. With his horizon all his own, yet he a poor man, born to be poor, with his inherited Irish poverty or poor life, his Adam's grandmother and boggy ways, not to rise in this world, he nor his posterity, till their wading webbed bog-trotting feet get talaria to their heels.

 

倍克田庄

有时我徜徉到松树密林下,它们很像高峙的庙字,又像海上装备齐全的舰队,树枝像波浪般摇曳起伏,还像涟漪般闪烁生光,看到这样柔和而碧绿的浓荫,便是德罗依德也要放弃他的橡树林而跑到它们下面来顶礼膜拜了,有时我跑到了茀灵特湖边的杉木林下,那些参天大树上长满灰白色浆果,它们越来越高,便是移植到伐尔哈拉去都毫无愧色,而杜松的盘绕的藤蔓,累累结着果实,铺在地上;有时,我还跑到沼泽地区去,那里的松萝地衣像花彩一样从云杉上垂悬下来,还有一些菌子,它们是沼泽诸神的圆桌,摆设在地面,更加美丽的香章像蝴蝶或贝壳点缀在树根;在那里淡红的石竹和山茱萸生长着,红红的桤果像妖精的眼睛似地闪亮,蜡蜂在攀援时,最坚硬的树上也刻下了深槽而破坏了它们,野冬青的浆果美得更使人看了流连忘返;此外还有许许多多野生的不知名的禁果将使他目眩五色,它们太美了,不是人类应该尝味的。我并没有去访问哪个学者,我访问了一棵棵树,访问了在附近一带也是稀有的林木,它们或远远地耸立在牧场的中央,或长在森林、沼泽的深处,或在小山的顶上;譬如黑桦木,我就看到一些好标本,直径有两英尺:还有它们的表亲黄桦木,宽弛地穿着金袍,像前述的那种一样地散发香味,又如山毛榉,有这样清洁的树干,美丽地绘着苔藓之色,处处美妙呵,除了一些散在各地的样本,在这乡镇一带,我只知道有一个这样的小小的林子,树身已相当大了,据说还是一些被附近山毛榉的果实吸引来的鸽子播下的种子;当你劈开树木的时候,银色的细粒网闪发光,真值得鉴赏;还有,椴树,角树;还有学名为Celtis occidentalis的假榆树,那就只有一棵是长得好的;还有,可以作挺拔的桅杆用的高高的松树,以及作木瓦用的树;还有比一般松树更美妙的我们的铁杉,像一座宝塔一样矗立在森林中;还有我能提出的许多别的树。在夏天和冬天,我便访问这些神庙。

有一次巧极了,我就站在一条彩虹的桥墩上,这条虹罩在大气的下层,给周围的草叶都染上了颜色,使我眼花缭乱,好像我在透视一个彩色的晶体。这里成了一个虹光的湖沼,片刻之间,我生活得像一只海豚。要是它维持得更长久一些,那色彩也许就永远染在我的事业与生命上了。而当我在铁路堤道上行走的时候,我常常惊奇地看到我的影子周围,有一个光轮,不免自以为也是一个上帝的选民了。有一个访客告诉我,他前面的那些爱尔兰人的影子周围并没有这种光轮,只有土生的人才有这特殊的标识。班文钮托·切利尼在他的回忆录中告诉过我们,当他被禁闭在圣安琪罗宫堡中的时候,在他有了一个可怕的梦或幻景之后,就见一个光亮的圆轮罩在他自己的影子的头上了,不论是黎明或黄昏,不论他是在意大利或法兰西;尤其在草上有露珠的时候,那光轮更清楚。这大约跟我说起的是同样的现象,它在早晨显得特别清楚,但在其余的时间,甚至在月光底下,也可以看到。虽然经常都如此,却从没有被注意,对切利尼那样想象力丰富的人,这就足以构成迷信的基础了。他还说,他只肯指点给少数人看,可是,知道自己有着这种光轮的人,难道真的是卓越的吗?

有一个下午我穿过森林到美港去钧鱼,以弥补我的蔬菜的不足。我沿路经过了快乐草地,它是和倍克田庄紧相连的,有个诗人曾经歌唱过这僻隐的地方,这样开头:

“入口是愉快的田野,

那里有些生苔的果树,

让出一泓红红的清溪,

水边有闪逃的麝香鼠,

还有水银似的鳟鱼啊,

游来游去。”

还在我没有住到瓦尔登之前,我曾想过去那里生活。我曾去“钩”过苹果,纵身跃过那道溪,吓唬过麝香鼠和鳟鱼。在那些个显得漫长、可以发生许多事情的下午中间的一个,当我想到该把大部分时间用于大自然的生活,因而出动之时,这个下午已过去了一半。还在途中呢,就下了阵雨,使我不得不在一棵松树下躲了半个小时,我在头顶上面,搭了一些树枝,再用手帕当我的遮盖;后来我索性下了水,水深及腰,我在梭鱼草上垂下了钓丝,突然发现我自己已在一块乌云底下,雷霆已开始沉重地擂响,我除了听他的,没有别的办法了。我想,天上的诸神真神气,要用这些叉形的闪光来迫害我这个可怜的没有武装的渔人,我赶紧奔到最近一个茅屋中去躲,那里离开无论哪一条路,都是半英里,它倒是跟湖来得近些,很久以来就没有人在那里住了:

“这里是诗人所建,

在他的风烛残年,

看这小小的木屋,

也有毁灭的危险。”

缪斯女神如此寓言。可是我看到那儿现在住着一个爱尔兰人,叫约翰·斐尔德,还有他的妻子和好几个孩子,大孩子有个宽阔的脸庞,已经在帮他父亲做工了,这会儿他也从沼泽中奔回家来躲雨,小的婴孩满脸皱纹,像先知一样,有个圆锥形的脑袋,坐在他父亲的膝盖上像坐在贵族的宫廷中,从他那个又潮湿又饥饿的家里好奇地望着陌生人,这自然是一个婴孩的权利,他却不知道自己是贵族世家的最后一代,他是世界的希望,世界注目的中心,并不是什么约翰·斐尔德的可怜的、饥饿的小子。我们一起坐在最不漏水的那部分屋顶下,而外面却是大雨又加大雷,我从前就在这里坐过多少次了,那时载了他们这一家而飘洋过海到美国来的那条船还没有造好呢。这个约翰·斐尔德显然是一个老实、勤恳,可是没有办法的人;他的妻子呢,她也是有毅力的,一连不断地在高高的炉子那儿做饭;圆圆的、油腻的脸,露出了胸,还在梦想有一天要过好日子呢,手中从来不放下拖把,可是没有一处看得到它发生了作用。小鸡也躲雨躲进了屋,在屋子里像家人一样大模大样地走来走去,跟人类太相似了,我想它们是烤起来也不会好吃的。它们站着,望着我的眼睛,故意来啄我的鞋子。同时,我的主人把他的身世告诉了我,他如何给邻近一个农夫艰苦地在沼泽上工作,如何用铲子或沼泽地上用的锄头翻一片草地,报酬是每英亩十元,并且利用土地和肥料一年,而他那个个子矮小、有宽阔的脸庞的大孩子就在父亲身边愉快地工作,并不知道他父亲接洽的是何等恶劣的交易。我想用我的经验来帮助他,告诉他我们是近邻,我呢,是来这儿钓鱼的,看外表,好比是一个流浪人,但也跟他一样,是个自食其力的人;还告诉他我住在一座很小的、光亮的、干净的屋子里,那造价可并不比他租用这种破房子一年的租费大;如果他愿意的话,他也能够在一两个月之内,给他自己造起一座皇宫来;我是不喝茶,不喝咖啡,不吃牛油,不喝牛奶,也不吃鲜肉的,因此我不必为了要得到它们而工作;而因为我不拼命工作,我也就不必拼命吃,所以我的伙食费数目很小;可是因为他一开始就要茶、咖啡、牛油、牛奶和牛肉,他就不得不拼命工作来偿付这一笔支出,他越拼命地工作,就越要吃得多,以弥补他身体上的消耗,——结果开支越来越大,而那开支之大确实比那时日之长更加厉害了,因为他不能满足,一生就这样消耗在里面了,然而他还认为,到美国来是一件大好事,在这里你每天可以吃到茶,咖啡和肉。可是那唯一的真正的美国应该是这样的一个国家,你可以自由地过一种生活,没有这些食物也能过得好,在这个国土上,并不需要强迫你支持奴隶制度,不需要你来供养一场战争,也不需要你付一笔间接或直接的因为这一类事情而付的额外费用。我特意这样跟他说,把他当成一个哲学家,或者当他是希望做一个哲学家的人。我很愿意让这片草原荒芜下去,如果是因为人类开始要赎罪,而后才有这样的结局的。一个人不必去读了历史,才明白什么东西对他自己的文化最有益。可是,唉!一个爱尔兰人的文化竟是用一柄沼泽地带用的锄头似的观念来开发的事业。我告诉他,既然在沼泽上拼命做苦工,他必须有厚靴子和牢固衣服,它们很快就磨损破烂了,我却只穿薄底鞋和薄衣服,价值还不到他的一半,在他看来我倒是穿得衣冠楚楚,像一个绅士(事实上,却并不是那样),而我可以不花什么力气,像消遣那样用一两小时的时间,如果我高兴的话,捕捉够吃一两天的鱼,或者赚下够我一星期花费的钱。如果他和他的家庭可以简单地生活,他们可以在夏天,都去拣拾越橘,以此为乐。听到这话,约翰就长叹一声,他的妻子两手叉腰瞪着我,似乎他们都在考虑,他们有没有足够的资金来开始过这样的生活,或者学到的算术是不是够他们把这种生活坚持到底。在他们看来,那是依靠测程和推算,也不清楚这样怎么可以到达他们的港岸;于是我揣想到了,他们还是会勇敢地用他们自己的那个方式来生活,面对生活,竭力奋斗,却没法用任何精锐的楔子楔入生活的大柱子,裂开它,细细地雕刻;——他们想到刻苦地对付生活,像人们对付那多刺的蓟草一样。可是他们是在非常恶劣的形势下面战斗的,——唉,约翰·斐尔德啊!不用算术而生活,你已经一败涂地了。

“你钓过鱼吗?”我问。“啊,钓过,有时我休息的时候,在湖边钓过一点,我钓到过很好的鲈鱼。”“你用什么钓饵!”“我用鱼虫钓银鱼,又用银鱼为饵钓鲈鱼。”“你现在可以去了,约翰,”他的妻子容光焕发、满怀希望他说;可是约翰踌躇着。

阵雨已经过去了,东面的林上一道长虹,保证有个美好的黄昏;我就起身告辞。出门以后,我又向他们要一杯水喝,希望看一看他们这口井的底奥,完成我这一番调查;可是,唉!井是浅的,尽是流沙,绳子是断的,桶子破得没法修了。这期间,他们把一只厨房用的杯子找了出来,水似乎蒸馏过,几经磋商,拖延再三,最后杯子递到口渴的人的手上,还没凉下来,而且又混浊不堪。我想,是这样的脏水在支持这几条生命;于是,我就很巧妙地把灰尘摇到一旁,闭上眼睛,为了那真诚的好客而干杯,畅饮一番。在牵涉到礼貌问题的时候,我在这类事情上,并不苛求。

雨后,当我离开了爱尔兰人的屋子,又跨步到湖边,涉水经过草原上的积水的泥坑和沼泽区的窟窿,经过荒凉的旷野,忽然有一阵子我觉得我急于去捕捉梭鱼的这种心情,对于我这个上过中学、进过大学的人,未免太猥琐了;可是我下了山,向着满天红霞的西方跑,一条长虹挑在我的肩上,微弱的铃声经过了明澈的空气传入我的耳中,我又似乎不知道从哪儿听到了我的守护神在对我说话了,——要天天都远远地出去渔猎,——越远越好,地域越宽广越好,——你就在许多的溪边,许许多多人家的炉边休息,根本不用担心。记住你年轻时候的创造力。黎明之前你就无忧无虑地起来,出发探险去。让正午看到你在另一个湖边。夜来时,到处为家。没有比这里更广大的土地了,也没有比这样做更有价值的游戏了。按照你的天性而狂放地生活,好比那芦苇和羊齿,它们是永远不会变成英吉利干草的啊。让雷霆咆哮,对稼穑有害,这又有什么关系呢?这并不是给你的信息。他们要躲在车下,木屋下,你可以躲在云下。你不要再以手艺为生,应该以游戏为生。只管欣赏大地,可不要想去占有。由于缺少进取心和信心,人们在买进卖出,奴隶一样过着生活哪。

呵,倍克田庄!

以小小烂漫的阳光

为最富丽的大地风光。……

牧场上围起了栏杆,

没有人会跑去狂欢。……

你不曾跟人辩论,

也从未为你的疑问所困,

初见时就这样驯良,

你穿着普通的褐色斜纹。……

爱者来,

憎者亦来,

圣鸽之子,

和州里的戈艾·福克斯,

把阴谋吊在牢固的树枝上!

人们总是夜来驯服地从隔壁的田地或街上,回到家里,他们的家里响着平凡的回音,他们的生命,消蚀于忧愁,因为他们一再呼吸着自己吐出的呼吸;早晨和傍晚,他们的影子比他们每天的脚步到了更远的地方。我们应该从远方,从奇遇、危险和每天的新发现中,带着新经验,新性格而回家来。

我还没有到湖边,约翰·斐尔德已在新的冲动下,跑到了湖边,他的思路变了,今天日落以前不再去沼泽工作了。可是他,可怜的人,只钓到一两条鱼,我却钓了一长串,他说这是他的命运;可是,后来我们换了座位,命运也跟着换了位。可怜的约翰·斐尔德!我想他是不会读这一段话的,除非他读了会有进步,——他想在这原始性的新土地上用传统的老方法来生活,——用银鱼来钓鲈鱼。有时,我承认,这是好钓饵。他的地平线完全属于他所有,他却是一个穷人,生来就穷,继承了他那爱尔兰的贫困或者贫困生活,还继承了亚当的老祖母的泥泞的生活方式,他或是他的后裔在这世界上都不能上升,除非他们的长了蹼的陷在泥沼中的脚,穿上了有翼的靴。

 




Higher Laws

As I came home through the woods with my string of fish, trailing my pole, it being now quite dark, I caught a glimpse of a woodchuck stealing across my path, and felt a strange thrill of savage delight, and was strongly tempted to seize and devour him raw; not that I was hungry then, except for that wildness which he represented. Once or twice, however, while I lived at the pond, I found myself ranging the woods, like a half-starved hound, with a strange abandonment, seeking some kind of venison which I might devour, and no morsel could have been too savage for me. The wildest scenes had become unaccountably familiar. I found in myself, and still find, an instinct toward a higher, or, as it is named, spiritual life, as do most men, and another toward a primitive rank and savage one, and I reverence them both. I love the wild not less than the good. The wildness and adventure that are in fishing still recommended it to me. I like sometimes to take rank hold on life and spend my day more as the animals do. Perhaps I have owed to this employment and to hunting, when quite young, my closest acquaintance with Nature. They early introduce us to and detain us in scenery with which otherwise, at that age, we should have little acquaintance. Fishermen, hunters, woodchoppers, and others, spending their lives in the fields and woods, in a peculiar sense a part of Nature themselves, are often in a more favorable mood for observing her, in the intervals of their pursuits, than philosophers or poets even, who approach her with expectation. She is not afraid to exhibit herself to them. The traveller on the prairie is naturally a hunter, on the head waters of the Missouri and Columbia a trapper, and at the Falls of St. Mary a fisherman. He who is only a traveller learns things at second-hand and by the halves, and is poor authority. We are most interested when science reports what those men already know practically or instinctively, for that alone is a true humanity, or account of human experience.

They mistake who assert that the Yankee has few amusements, because he has not so many public holidays, and men and boys do not play so many games as they do in England, for here the more primitive but solitary amusements of hunting, fishing, and the like have not yet given place to the former. Almost every New England boy among my contemporaries shouldered a fowling-piece between the ages of ten and fourteen; and his hunting and fishing grounds were not limited, like the preserves of an English nobleman, but were more boundless even than those of a savage. No wonder, then, that he did not oftener stay to play on the common. But already a change is taking place, owing, not to an increased humanity, but to an increased scarcity of game, for perhaps the hunter is the greatest friend of the animals hunted, not excepting the Humane Society.

Moreover, when at the pond, I wished sometimes to add fish to my fare for variety. I have actually fished from the same kind of necessity that the first fishers did. Whatever humanity I might conjure up against it was all factitious, and concerned my philosophy more than my feelings. I speak of fishing only now, for I had long felt differently about fowling, and sold my gun before I went to the woods. Not that I am less humane than others, but I did not perceive that my feelings were much affected. I did not pity the fishes nor the worms. This was habit. As for fowling, during the last years that I carried a gun my excuse was that I was studying ornithology, and sought only new or rare birds. But I confess that I am now inclined to think that there is a finer way of studying ornithology than this. It requires so much closer attention to the habits of the birds, that, if for that reason only, I have been willing to omit the gun. Yet notwithstanding the objection on the score of humanity, I am compelled to doubt if equally valuable sports are ever substituted for these; and when some of my friends have asked me anxiously about their boys, whether they should let them hunt, I have answered, yes—remembering that it was one of the best parts of my education—make them hunters, though sportsmen only at first, if possible, mighty hunters at last, so that they shall not find game large enough for them in this or any vegetable wilderness—hunters as well as fishers of men. Thus far I am of the opinion of Chaucer's nun, who

"yave not of the text a pulled hen
    That saith that hunters ben not holy men."

There is a period in the history of the individual, as of the race, when the hunters are the "best men," as the Algonquins called them. We cannot but pity the boy who has never fired a gun; he is no more humane, while his education has been sadly neglected. This was my answer with respect to those youths who were bent on this pursuit, trusting that they would soon outgrow it. No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does. The hare in its extremity cries like a child. I warn you, mothers, that my sympathies do not always make the usual phil-anthropic distinctions.

Such is oftenest the young man's introduction to the forest, and the most original part of himself. He goes thither at first as a hunter and fisher, until at last, if he has the seeds of a better life in him, he distinguishes his proper objects, as a poet or naturalist it may be, and leaves the gun and fish-pole behind. The mass of men are still and always young in this respect. In some countries a hunting parson is no uncommon sight. Such a one might make a good shepherd's dog, but is far from being the Good Shepherd. I have been surprised to consider that the only obvious employment, except wood-chopping, ice-cutting, or the like business, which ever to my knowledge detained at Walden Pond for a whole half-day any of my fellow-citizens, whether fathers or children of the town, with just one exception, was fishing. Commonly they did not think that they were lucky, or well paid for their time, unless they got a long string of fish, though they had the opportunity of seeing the pond all the while. They might go there a thousand times before the sediment of fishing would sink to the bottom and leave their purpose pure; but no doubt such a clarifying process would be going on all the while. The Governor and his Council faintly remember the pond, for they went a-fishing there when they were boys; but now they are too old and dignified to go a-fishing, and so they know it no more forever. Yet even they expect to go to heaven at last. If the legislature regards it, it is chiefly to regulate the number of hooks to be used there; but they know nothing about the hook of hooks with which to angle for the pond itself, impaling the legislature for a bait. Thus, even in civilized communities, the embryo man passes through the hunter stage of development.

I have found repeatedly, of late years, that I cannot fish without falling a little in self-respect. I have tried it again and again. I have skill at it, and, like many of my fellows, a certain instinct for it, which revives from time to time, but always when I have done I feel that it would have been better if I had not fished. I think that I do not mistake. It is a faint intimation, yet so are the first streaks of morning. There is unquestionably this instinct in me which belongs to the lower orders of creation; yet with every year I am less a fisherman, though without more humanity or even wisdom; at present I am no fisherman at all. But I see that if I were to live in a wilderness I should again be tempted to become a fisher and hunter in earnest. Beside, there is something essentially unclean about this diet and all flesh, and I began to see where housework commences, and whence the endeavor, which costs so much, to wear a tidy and respectable appearance each day, to keep the house sweet and free from all ill odors and sights. Having been my own butcher and scullion and cook, as well as the gentleman for whom the dishes were served up, I can speak from an unusually complete experience. The practical objection to animal food in my case was its uncleanness; and besides, when I had caught and cleaned and cooked and eaten my fish, they seemed not to have fed me essentially. It was insignificant and unnecessary, and cost more than it came to. A little bread or a few potatoes would have done as well, with less trouble and filth. Like many of my contemporaries, I had rarely for many years used animal food, or tea, or coffee, etc.; not so much because of any ill effects which I had traced to them, as because they were not agreeable to my imagination. The repugnance to animal food is not the effect of experience, but is an instinct. It appeared more beautiful to live low and fare hard in many respects; and though I never did so, I went far enough to please my imagination. I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic faculties in the best condition has been particularly inclined to abstain from animal food, and from much food of any kind. It is a significant fact, stated by entomologists—I find it in Kirby and Spence—that "some insects in their perfect state, though furnished with organs of feeding, make no use of them"; and they lay it down as "a general rule, that almost all insects in this state eat much less than in that of larvæ. The voracious caterpillar when transformed into a butterfly... and the gluttonous maggot when become a fly" content themselves with a drop or two of honey or some other sweet liquid. The abdomen under the wings of the butterfly still represents the larva. This is the tidbit which tempts his insectivorous fate. The gross feeder is a man in the larva state; and there are whole nations in that condition, nations without fancy or imagination, whose vast abdomens betray them.

It is hard to provide and cook so simple and clean a diet as will not offend the imagination; but this, I think, is to be fed when we feed the body; they should both sit down at the same table. Yet perhaps this may be done. The fruits eaten temperately need not make us ashamed of our appetites, nor interrupt the worthiest pursuits. But put an extra condiment into your dish, and it will poison you. It is not worth the while to live by rich cookery. Most men would feel shame if caught preparing with their own hands precisely such a dinner, whether of animal or vegetable food, as is every day prepared for them by others. Yet till this is otherwise we are not civilized, and, if gentlemen and ladies, are not true men and women. This certainly suggests what change is to be made. It may be vain to ask why the imagination will not be reconciled to flesh and fat. I am satisfied that it is not. Is it not a reproach that man is a carnivorous animal? True, he can and does live, in a great measure, by preying on other animals; but this is a miserable way—as any one who will go to snaring rabbits, or slaughtering lambs, may learn—and he will be regarded as a benefactor of his race who shall teach man to confine himself to a more innocent and wholesome diet. Whatever my own practice may be, I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.

If one listens to the faintest but constant suggestions of his genius, which are certainly true, he sees not to what extremes, or even insanity, it may lead him; and yet that way, as he grows more resolute and faithful, his road lies. The faintest assured objection which one healthy man feels will at length prevail over the arguments and customs of mankind. No man ever followed his genius till it misled him. Though the result were bodily weakness, yet perhaps no one can say that the consequences were to be regretted, for these were a life in conformity to higher principles. If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal—that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.

Yet, for my part, I was never unusually squeamish; I could sometimes eat a fried rat with a good relish, if it were necessary. I am glad to have drunk water so long, for the same reason that I prefer the natural sky to an opium-eater's heaven. I would fain keep sober always; and there are infinite degrees of drunkenness. I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man; wine is not so noble a liquor; and think of dashing the hopes of a morning with a cup of warm coffee, or of an evening with a dish of tea! Ah, how low I fall when I am tempted by them! Even music may be intoxicating. Such apparently slight causes destroyed Greece and Rome, and will destroy England and America. Of all ebriosity, who does not prefer to be intoxicated by the air he breathes? I have found it to be the most serious objection to coarse labors long continued, that they compelled me to eat and drink coarsely also. But to tell the truth, I find myself at present somewhat less particular in these respects. I carry less religion to the table, ask no blessing; not because I am wiser than I was, but, I am obliged to confess, because, however much it is to be regretted, with years I have grown more coarse and indifferent. Perhaps these questions are entertained only in youth, as most believe of poetry. My practice is "nowhere," my opinion is here. Nevertheless I am far from regarding myself as one of those privileged ones to whom the Ved refers when it says, that "he who has true faith in the Omnipresent Supreme Being may eat all that exists," that is, is not bound to inquire what is his food, or who prepares it; and even in their case it is to be observed, as a Hindoo commentator has remarked, that the Vedant limits this privilege to "the time of distress."

Who has not sometimes derived an inexpressible satisfaction from his food in which appetite had no share? I have been thrilled to think that I owed a mental perception to the commonly gross sense of taste, that I have been inspired through the palate, that some berries which I had eaten on a hillside had fed my genius. "The soul not being mistress of herself," says Thseng-tseu, "one looks, and one does not see; one listens, and one does not hear; one eats, and one does not know the savor of food." He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. A puritan may go to his brown-bread crust with as gross an appetite as ever an alderman to his turtle. Not that food which entereth into the mouth defileth a man, but the appetite with which it is eaten. It is neither the quality nor the quantity, but the devotion to sensual savors; when that which is eaten is not a viand to sustain our animal, or inspire our spiritual life, but food for the worms that possess us. If the hunter has a taste for mud-turtles, muskrats, and other such savage tidbits, the fine lady indulges a taste for jelly made of a calf's foot, or for sardines from over the sea, and they are even. He goes to the mill-pond, she to her preserve-pot. The wonder is how they, how you and I, can live this slimy, beastly life, eating and drinking.

Our whole life is startlingly moral. There is never an instant's truce between virtue and vice. Goodness is the only investment that never fails. In the music of the harp which trembles round the world it is the insisting on this which thrills us. The harp is the travelling patterer for the Universe's Insurance Company, recommending its laws, and our little goodness is all the assessment that we pay. Though the youth at last grows indifferent, the laws of the universe are not indifferent, but are forever on the side of the most sensitive. Listen to every zephyr for some reproof, for it is surely there, and he is unfortunate who does not hear it. We cannot touch a string or move a stop but the charming moral transfixes us. Many an irksome noise, go a long way off, is heard as music, a proud, sweet satire on the meanness of our lives.

We are conscious of an animal in us, which awakens in proportion as our higher nature slumbers. It is reptile and sensual, and perhaps cannot be wholly expelled; like the worms which, even in life and health, occupy our bodies. Possibly we may withdraw from it, but never change its nature. I fear that it may enjoy a certain health of its own; that we may be well, yet not pure. The other day I picked up the lower jaw of a hog, with white and sound teeth and tusks, which suggested that there was an animal health and vigor distinct from the spiritual. This creature succeeded by other means than temperance and purity. "That in which men differ from brute beasts," says Mencius, "is a thing very inconsiderable; the common herd lose it very soon; superior men preserve it carefully." Who knows what sort of life would result if we had attained to purity? If I knew so wise a man as could teach me purity I would go to seek him forthwith. "A command over our passions, and over the external senses of the body, and good acts, are declared by the Ved to be indispensable in the mind's approximation to God." Yet the spirit can for the time pervade and control every member and function of the body, and transmute what in form is the grossest sensuality into purity and devotion. The generative energy, which, when we are loose, dissipates and makes us unclean, when we are continent invigorates and inspires us. Chastity is the flowering of man; and what are called Genius, Heroism, Holiness, and the like, are but various fruits which succeed it. Man flows at once to God when the channel of purity is open. By turns our purity inspires and our impurity casts us down. He is blessed who is assured that the animal is dying out in him day by day, and the divine being established. Perhaps there is none but has cause for shame on account of the inferior and brutish nature to which he is allied. I fear that we are such gods or demigods only as fauns and satyrs, the divine allied to beasts, the creatures of appetite, and that, to some extent, our very life is our disgrace.— //

"How happy's he who hath due place assigned
   To his beasts and disafforested his mind!
                . . . . . . .
   Can use this horse, goat, wolf, and ev'ry beast,
   And is not ass himself to all the rest!
   Else man not only is the herd of swine,
   But he's those devils too which did incline
   Them to a headlong rage, and made them worse."

All sensuality is one, though it takes many forms; all purity is one. It is the same whether a man eat, or drink, or cohabit, or sleep sensually. They are but one appetite, and we only need to see a person do any one of these things to know how great a sensualist he is. The impure can neither stand nor sit with purity. When the reptile is attacked at one mouth of his burrow, he shows himself at another. If you would be chaste, you must be temperate. What is chastity? How shall a man know if he is chaste? He shall not know it. We have heard of this virtue, but we know not what it is. We speak conformably to the rumor which we have heard. From exertion come wisdom and purity; from sloth ignorance and sensuality. In the student sensuality is a sluggish habit of mind. An unclean person is universally a slothful one, one who sits by a stove, whom the sun shines on prostrate, who reposes without being fatigued. If you would avoid uncleanness, and all the sins, work earnestly, though it be at cleaning a stable. Nature is hard to be overcome, but she must be overcome. What avails it that you are Christian, if you are not purer than the heathen, if you deny yourself no more, if you are not more religious? I know of many systems of religion esteemed heathenish whose precepts fill the reader with shame, and provoke him to new endeavors, though it be to the performance of rites merely.

I hesitate to say these things, but it is not because of the subject—I care not how obscene my words are—but because I cannot speak of them without betraying my impurity. We discourse freely without shame of one form of sensuality, and are silent about another. We are so degraded that we cannot speak simply of the necessary functions of human nature. In earlier ages, in some countries, every function was reverently spoken of and regulated by law. Nothing was too trivial for the Hindoo lawgiver, however offensive it may be to modern taste. He teaches how to eat, drink, cohabit, void excrement and urine, and the like, elevating what is mean, and does not falsely excuse himself by calling these things trifles.

Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships, after a style purely his own, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead. We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man's features, any meanness or sensuality to imbrute them.

John Farmer sat at his door one September evening, after a hard day's work, his mind still running on his labor more or less. Having bathed, he sat down to re-create his intellectual man. It was a rather cool evening, and some of his neighbors were apprehending a frost. He had not attended to the train of his thoughts long when he heard some one playing on a flute, and that sound harmonized with his mood. Still he thought of his work; but the burden of his thought was, that though this kept running in his head, and he found himself planning and contriving it against his will, yet it concerned him very little. It was no more than the scurf of his skin, which was constantly shuffled off. But the notes of the flute came home to his ears out of a different sphere from that he worked in, and suggested work for certain faculties which slumbered in him. They gently did away with the street, and the village, and the state in which he lived. A voice said to him—Why do you stay here and live this mean moiling life, when a glorious existence is possible for you? Those same stars twinkle over other fields than these.—But how to come out of this condition and actually migrate thither? All that he could think of was to practise some new austerity, to let his mind descend into his body and redeem it, and treat himself with ever increasing respect.

 

更高的规律

当我提着一串鱼,拖着钓竿穿过树林回家的时候,天色已经完全黑了下来,我瞥见一只土拨鼠偷偷地横穿过我的小径,就感到了一阵奇怪的野性喜悦的颤抖,我被强烈地引诱了,只想把它抓住,活活吞下肚去,倒不是因为我那时肚子饿了,而只是因为它所代表的是野性。我在湖上生活的时候,有过一两次发现自己在林中奔跑,像一条半饥饿的猎犬,以奇怪的恣肆的心情,想要觅取一些可以吞食的兽肉,任何兽肉我都能吞下去。最狂野的一些景象都莫名其妙地变得熟悉了。我在我内心发现,而且还继续发现,我有一种追求更高的生活,或者说探索精神生活的本能,对此许多人也都有过同感,但我另外还有一种追求原始的行列和野性生活的本能,这两者我都很尊敬。我之爱野性,不下于我之爱善良。钓鱼有一种野性和冒险性,这使我喜欢钓鱼。有时候我愿意粗野地生活,更像野兽似的度过我的岁月。也许正因为我在年纪非常轻的时候就钓过鱼打过猎,所以我和大自然有亲密的往还。渔猎很早就把我们介绍给野外风景,将我们安置在那里,不然的话,在那样的年龄,是无法熟悉野外风景的。渔夫,猎户,樵夫等人,终身在原野山林中度过,就一个特殊意义来说,他们已是大自然的一部分,他们在工作的间歇里比诗人和哲学家都更适宜于观察大自然,因为后者总是带着一定的目的前去观察的。大自然不怕向他们展览她自己。旅行家在草原上自然而然地成了猎手,在密苏里和哥伦比亚上游却成了捕兽者,而在圣玛丽大瀑布那儿,就成了渔夫。但仅仅是一个旅行家的那种人得到的只是第二手的不完备的知识,是一个可怜的权威。我们最发生兴趣的是,当科学论文给我们报告,已经通过实践或者出于本能而发现了一些什么,只有这样的报告才真正属于人类,或者说记录了人类的经验。

有些人说北方佬很少娱乐,因为他们公定假日既少,男人和小孩玩的游戏又没有像英国的那样多。这话错了,因为在我们这里,更原始、更寂寞的渔猎之类的消遣还没有让位给那些游戏呢。几乎每一个跟我同时代的新英格兰儿童,在十岁到十四岁中间都掮过猎枪,而他的渔猎之地也不像英国贵族那样地划定了界限,甚至还比野蛮人的都广大得多。所以,他不常到公共场所游戏是不足为奇的。现在的情形却已经在起着变化,并不是因为人口增加,而是因为猎物渐渐减少,也许猎者反而成了被猎的禽兽的好朋友,保护动物协会也不例外。

况且,我在湖边时,有时捕鱼,只是想换换我的口味。我确实像第一个捕鱼人一样,是由于需要的缘故才捕鱼的。尽管我以人道的名义反对捕鱼,那全是假话,其属于我的哲学的范畴,更甚于我的感情的范畴。这里我只说到捕鱼,因为很久以来,我对于打鸟有不同的看法,还在我到林中来之前,已卖掉了我的猎枪。倒不是因为我为人比别人残忍,而是因为我一点感觉不到我有什么恻隐之心。我既不可怜鱼,也不可怜饵虫。这已成了习惯。至于打鸟,在我那背猎枪的最后几年里,我的借口是我在研究飞鸟学,我找的只是罕见或新奇之鸟。可是我承认,现在我有比这更好的一种研究飞鸟学的方式了。你得这样严密仔细地观察飞鸟的习惯啊,就凭这样一个理由,已经可以让我取消猎枪了。然而,不管人们怎样根据人道来反对,我还是不得不怀疑,是否有同样有价值的娱乐,来代替打猎的;当一些朋友们不安地探问我的意见,应不应该让孩子们去打猎,我总是回答,应该,——因为我想起这是我所受教育中最好的一部分,——让他们成为猎者吧,虽然起先他们只是运动员,最后,如果可能的话,他们才成为好猎手,这样他们将来就会晓得,在这里或任何地方的莽原里并没有足够的鸟兽,来供给他们打猎的了。迄今为止,我还是同意乔臾写的那个尼姑的意见,她说:

“没有听到老母鸡说过

猎者并不是圣洁的人。”在个人的和种族的历史中还都曾经有过一个时期,那时猎者被称颂为“最好的人”,而阿尔贡金族的印第安人就曾这样称呼过他们。我们不能不替一个没有放过一枪的孩子可怜,可怜他的教育被忽视,他不再是有人情的了。对那些沉湎在打猎上面的少年,我也说过这样的活,我相信他们将来是会超越过这个阶段的。还没有一个人在无思无虑地过完了他的童年之后,还会随便杀死任何生物,因为生物跟他一样有生存的权利。兔子到了末路,呼喊得真像一个小孩。我警告你们,母亲们,我的同情并不总是作出通常的那种爱人类的区别的。

青年往往通过打猎接近森林,并发展他身体里面最有天性的一部分。他到那里去,先是作为一个猎人,一个钓鱼的人,到后来,如果他身体里已播有更善良生命的种子,他就会发现他的正当目标也许是变成诗人,也许成为自然科学家,猎枪和钓竿就抛诸脑后了。在这一方面,人类大多数都还是并且永远是年轻的。在有些国家,爱打猎的牧师并非不常见。这样的牧师也许可以成为好的牧犬,但决不是一个善良的牧羊人。我还奇怪着呢,什么伐木、挖冰,这一类事是提也不用提了,现在显然只剩下一件事,还能够把我的市民同胞,弗论老少,都吸引到瓦尔登湖上来停留整整半天,只有这一件例外,那就是钓鱼。一般说,他们还不认为他们很幸运,他们这半天过得还很值得,除非他们钓到了长长一串鱼,其实他们明明得到了这样的好机会,可以一直观赏湖上风光。他们得去垂钩一千次,然后这种陋见才沉到了湖底,他们的目标才得到了净化;毫无疑问,这样的净化过程随时都在继续着。州长和议员们对于湖沼的记忆已经很模糊了,因为他们只在童年时代,曾经钓过鱼;现在他们太老了,道貌岸然,怎么还能去钓鱼?因此他们永远不知渔乐了。然而,他们居然还希望最后到天堂中去呢。如果他们立法,主要是作出该湖准许多少钓钩的规定;但是,他们不知道那钓钩上钓起了最好的湖上风光,而立法也成为钓饵了。可见,甚至在文明社会中,处于胚胎状态的人,要经过一个渔猎者的发展阶段。

近年来我一再地发觉,我每钓一次鱼,总觉得我的自尊心降落了一些。我尝试又尝试。我有垂钓的技巧,像我的同伴们一样,又天生有垂钓的嗜好,一再促使我钓鱼去,可是等到我这样做了,我就觉得还是不钓鱼更好些,我想我并没有错。这是一个隐隐约约的暗示,好像黎明的微光一样。无疑问的,我这种天生嗜好是属于造物中较低劣的一种,然而我的捕鱼兴趣每年都减少了一点儿,而人道观点,甚至于智慧却并没有增加,目前我已经不再是钩鱼人了。可是我知道,如果我生活在旷野中,我还会再给引诱去作热忱的渔夫和猎人的。况且,这种鱼肉以及所有的肉食,基本上是不洁的,而且我开始明白,哪儿来的那么多家务,哪儿产生的那个愿望:要每天注意仪表,要穿得清洁而可敬,房屋要管理得可爱而没有任何恶臭难看的景象,要做到这点,花费很大。好在我身兼屠夫,杂役,厨师,又兼那吃一道道菜肴的老爷,所以我能根据不寻常的全部经验来说话。我反对吃兽肉的主要理由是因为它不干净,再说,在捉了,洗了,煮了,吃了我的鱼之后,我也并不觉得它给了我什么了不起的营养。既不足道,又无必要,耗资却又太大。一个小面包,几个土豆就很可以了,既少麻烦,又不肮脏。我像许多同时代人一样,已经有好几年难得吃兽肉或茶或咖啡等等了;倒不是因为我找出了它们的缺点,而是因为它们跟我的想法不适应。对兽肉有反感并不是由经验引起的,而是一种本能。卑贱的刻苦生活在许多方页都显得更美,虽然我并不曾做到,至少也做到了使我的想象能满意的地步。我相信每一个热衷于把他更高级的、诗意的官能保存在最好状态中的人,必然是特别地避免吃兽肉,还要避免多吃任何食物的。昆虫学家认为这是值得注意的事实,——我从柯尔比和斯班司的书中读到,——“有些昆虫在最完美状态中,虽有饮食的器官,并不使用它们,”他们把这归纳为“一个一般性的规则,在成虫时期的昆虫吃得比它们在蛹期少得多,贪吃的蛹一变而为蝴蝶,……贪婪的蛆虫一变而为苍蝇之后”,只要有一两滴蜜或其他甘洌液体就很满足了。蝴蝶翅下的腹部还是蛹的形状。就是这一点东西引诱它残杀昆虫。大食者是还处于蛹状态中的人;有些国家的全部国民都处于这种状态,这些国民没有幻想,没有想象力,只有一个出卖了他们的大肚皮。

要准备,并烹调这样简单、这样清洁,而不至于触犯了你的想象力的饮食是难办的事;我想,身体固然需要营养,想象力同样需要营养,二者应该同时得到满足,这也许是可以做到的。有限度地吃些水果,不必因此而替胃囊感到羞耻,决不会阻碍我们最有价值的事业。但要是你在盘中再加上一点儿的作料,这就要毒害你了。靠珍羞美味来生活是不值得的。有许多人,要是给人看到在亲手煮一顿美食,不论是荤的或素的,都难免羞形于色,其实每天都有人在替他煮这样的美食。要是这种情形不改变,我们就无文明可言,即使是绅士淑女,也不是真正的男人女人。这方面当然已提供了应当怎样改变的内容。不必问想象力为什么不喜好兽肉和脂肪。知道它不喜好就够了。说人是一种食肉动物,不是一种责备吗?是的,把别的动物当作牺牲品,在很大一个程度里,可以使他活下来,事实上的确也活下来了;可是,这是一个悲惨的方式,——任何捉过兔子,杀过羊羔的人都知道,——如果有人能教育人类只吃更无罪过、更有营养的食物,那他就是人类的恩人。不管我自己实践的结果如何,我一点也不怀疑,这是人类命运的一部分,人类的发展必然会逐渐地进步到把吃肉的习惯淘汰为止,必然如此,就像野蛮人和较文明的人接触多了之后,把人吃人的习惯淘汰掉一样。

如果一个人听从了他的天性的虽然最微弱,却又最持久的建议——那建议当然是正确的——那他也不会知道这建议将要把他引导到什么极端去,甚至也会引导到疯狂中去;可是当他变得更坚决更有信心时,前面就是他的一条正路。一个健康的人内心最微弱的肯定的反对,都能战胜人间的种种雄辩和习俗。人们却很少听从自己的天性,偏偏在它带他走入歧途时,却又听从起来。结果不免是肉体的衰退,然而也许没有人会引以为憾。因为这些生活是遵循了更高的规律的。如果你欢快地迎来了白天和黑夜,生活像鲜花和香草一样芳香,而且更有弹性,更如繁星,更加不朽,——那就是你的成功。整个自然界都庆贺你,你暂时也有理由祝福你自己。最大的益处和价值往往都受不到人们的赞赏。我们很容易怀疑它们是否存在。我们很快把它们忘记了。它们是最高的现实。也许那些最惊人、最真实的事实从没有在人与人之间交流。我每天生命的最真实收获,也仿佛朝霞暮霭那样地不可捉摸,不可言传。我得到的只是一点儿尘埃,我抓住的只是一段彩虹而已。

然而我这个人绝不苛求;一只油煎老鼠,如果非吃不可,我也可以津津有味地吃下去。我只喝白开水已有这么久了,其原因同我爱好大自然的天空远胜过吸食鸦片烟的人的吞云吐雾一样。我欢喜经常保持清醒,而陶醉的程度是无穷的。我相信一个聪明人的唯一饮料是白开水,酒并不是怎样高贵的液体,试想一杯热咖啡足以捣毁一个早晨的希望,一杯热茶又可以把晚上的美梦破坏掉!啊,受到它们的诱惑之后,我曾经如何地堕落过!甚至音乐也可以使人醉倒。就是这一些微小的原因竟毁灭过希腊和罗马,将来还要毁灭英国和美国。一切醉人的事物之中,谁不愿意因为呼吸了新鲜空气而陶醉呢?我反对长时间的拼命做苦工的理由是它强迫我也拼命地吃和喝。可是说实话,在这些方面,近来我似乎也不那么挑剔了。我很少把宗教带上食桌,我也不寻求祝福,这却不是因为我更加聪明了,我不能不从实供认,而是因为,不管多么遗憾,我也一年年地更加粗俗了,更加冷漠了。也许这一些问题只有年轻人关心,就像他们关心诗歌一样。“哪儿”也看不见我的实践,我的意见却写在这里了。然而,我并不觉得我是吠陀经典上说的那种特权阶级,它说过:“于万物主宰有大信心者,可以吃一切存在之事物,”这是说他可以不用问吃的是什么,是谁给他预备的,然而,就是在他们那种情形下,也有这一点不能不提起,正如一个印度的注释家说过的,吠陀经典是把这一个特权限制在“患难时间”里的。

谁个没有吃得津津有味过,而胃囊却一无所获?我曾经欣然想到,由于一般的所谓知味,我有了一种精神上的感悟,通过味觉受到后发。坐在小山上吃的浆果营养了我的天性。“心不在焉,”曾子说过,“视而不见,听而不闻,食而不知其味。”能知道食份的真味的人决不可能成为饕餮,不这样的人才是饕餮。一个清教徒可能狂吞他的面包皮屑,正如一个议员大嚼甲鱼。食物入口并不足以玷辱一个人,但他吃这种食物的胃口却足以玷辱他。问题不在量,不在质,而在口腹的贪嗜上,如果吃东西不是为了养活我们的生命,也不是为了激励我们的精神生活,而是为了在肚皮里缠住我们的蛔虫。一个猎者爱吃乌龟、麝鼠或其他野蛮的食物,一个漂亮太太爱吃小牛蹄做的冻肉,或海外的沙丁鱼,他们是一样的,他到他的湖边去,她拿她的肉冻罐。使人惊奇的是他们,你,我,怎么能过如此卑劣的禽兽生活,只是吃吃喝喝。

我们的整个生命是惊人地精神性的。善恶之间,从无一瞬休战。善是唯一的授予,永不失败。在全世界为之振鸣的竖琴音乐中,善的主题给我们以欣喜。这竖琴好比宇宙保险公司里的旅行推销员,宣传它的条例,我们的小小善行是我们所付的保险费。虽然年轻人最后总要冷淡下去,宇宙的规律却是不会冷淡的,而是永远和敏感的人站在一边。从西风中听一听谴责之辞吧,一定有的,听不到的人是不幸的。我们每弹拨一根弦,每移动一个音栓的时候,可爱的寓意渗透了我们的心灵。许多讨厌的声音,传得很远,听来却像音乐,对于我们卑贱的生活,这真是一个傲然的可爱的讽刺。

我们知道我们身体里面,有一只野兽,当我们的更高的天性沉沉欲睡时,它就醒过来了。这是官能的,像一条毒蛇一样,也许难于整个驱除掉;也像一些虫子,甚至在我们生活着并且活得很健康的时候,它们寄生在我们的体内。我们也许能躲开它,却永远改变不了它的天性。恐怕它自身也有一定的健壮,我们可以很健康,却永远不能是纯净的。那一天我拣到了一只野猪的下腭骨,有雪白的完整的牙齿和长牙,还有一种和精神上的不同的动物性的康健和精力。这是用节欲和纯洁以外的方法得到的。“人之所以异于禽兽者几希,”孟子说,“庶民去之,君子存之。”如果我们谨守着纯洁,谁知道将会得到何等样的生命?如果我知道有这样一个聪明人,他能教给我洁身自好的方法,我一定要去找他。“能够控制我们的情欲和身体的外在官能,并做好事的话,照吠陀经典的说法,是在心灵上接近神的不可缺少的条件。”然而精神是能够一时之间渗透并控制身体上的每一个官能和每一个部分,而把外表上最粗俗的淫荡转化为内心的纯洁与虔诚的。放纵了生殖的精力将使我们荒淫而不洁;克制了它则使我们精力洋溢而得到鼓舞。贞洁是人的花朵;创造力、英雄主义、神圣等等只不过是它的各种果实。当纯洁的海峡畅通了,人便立刻奔流到上帝那里。我们一忽儿为纯洁所鼓舞,一忽儿因不洁而沮丧。自知身体之内的兽性在一天天地消失,而神性一天天地生长的人是有福的,当人和劣等的兽性结合时,便只有羞辱。我担心我们只是农牧之神和森林之神那样的神或半神与兽结合的妖怪,饕餮好色的动物。我担心,在一定程度上,我们的一生就是我们的耻辱。——

“这人何等快乐,斩除了脑中的林莽,

把内心的群兽驱逐到适当的地方。

 .........

能利用他的马、羊、狼和一切野兽,

而自己和其他动物相比,不算蠢驴。

否则,人不单单放牧一群猪猡,

而且也是这样那样的鬼怪妖魔,

使它们狂妄失性,使他们越来越坏。

一切的淫欲,虽然有许多形态,却只是一个东西,纯洁的一切也只是一个东西。一个人大吃大喝,男女同居,或淫荡地睡觉,只是一回事。这属于同一胃口,我们只要看到一个人在于其中的一件事,就能够知道他是怎样的一个好色之徒。不洁和纯洁是不能一起站立,一起就座的。我们只要在穴洞的一头打一下蛇,它就会在另一头出现。如果你想要贞洁,你必须节制。什么是贞洁呢?一个人怎么知道他是贞洁的呢?他不能知道。我们只听说过,但不知道它是怎样的。我们依照我们听到过的传说来说明它。智慧和纯洁来之于力行,从懒惰中却出现了无知和淫欲。对一个学生来说,淫欲是他心智懒惰的结果,一个不洁的人往往是一个懒惰的人:他坐在炉边烤火,他在阳光照耀下躺着,他没有疲倦,就要休息。如果要避免不洁和一切罪恶,你就热忱地工作吧,即使是打扫马厩也行。天性难于克制,但必须克制。如果你不比异教徒纯洁,如果你不比异教徒更能克制自己,如果你不比异教徒更虔敬,那你就算是基督徒又怎么样呢?我知道有很多被认为是异教的宗教制度,它们的教律使读者感到羞愧,并且要他作新的努力,虽然要努力的只不过是奉行仪式而已。

我不愿意说这些话,但并不是由于主题,一我也不管我的用字是何等亵猥,——而是因为说这些话,就泄露出我自己的不洁。对于一种淫欲的形式,我们常常可以无所忌惮地畅谈,对于另一种却又闭口无言。我们已经太堕落了。所以不能简单地谈人类天性的必要活动。在稍早一些的几个时代,在某些国内,每一样活动都可以正经谈论,并且也都由法律控制。印度的立法者是丝毫不嫌其琐碎的,尽管近代人不以为然。他教人如何饮,食,同居,如何解大小便等等,把卑贱的提高了,而不把它们作为琐碎之事,避而不谈。

每一个人都是一座圣庙的建筑师。他的身体是他的圣殿,在里面,他用完全是自己的方式来崇敬他的神,他即使另外去琢凿大理石,他还是有自己的圣殿与尊神的。我们都是雕刻家与画家,用我们的血,肉,骨骼做材料。任何崇高的品质,一开始就使一个人的形态有所改善,任何卑俗或淫欲立刻使他变成禽兽。

在一个九月的黄昏,约翰·发尔末做完一天艰苦的工作之后,坐在他的门口,他的心事多少还奔驰在他的工作上。洗澡之后,他坐下来给他的理性一点儿休息。这是一个相当寒冷的黄昏,他的一些邻人担心会降霜。他沉思不久,便听到了笛声,跟他的心情十分协调。他还在想他的工作,虽然他尽想尽想着,还在不由自主地计划着、设计着,可是他对这些事已不大关心了。这大不了是皮屑,随时可以去掉的。而笛子的乐音,是从不同于他那个工作的环境中吹出来的,催他沉睡着的官能起来工作。柔和的乐音吹走了街道、村子和他居住的国家。有一个声音对他说,——在可能过光荣的生活的时候,为什么你留在这里,过这种卑贱的苦役的生活呢?同样的星星照耀着那边的大地,而不是这边的,——可是如何从这种境况中跳出来,真正迁移到那里去呢?他所能够想到的只是实践一种新的刻苦生活,让他的心智降入他的肉体中去解救它,然后以日益增长的敬意来对待他自己。




Brute Neighbors

Sometimes I had a companion in my fishing, who came through the village to my house from the other side of the town, and the catching of the dinner was as much a social exercise as the eating of it.

Hermit. I wonder what the world is doing now. I have not heard so much as a locust over the sweet-fern these three hours. The pigeons are all asleep upon their roosts—no flutter from them. Was that a farmer's noon horn which sounded from beyond the woods just now? The hands are coming in to boiled salt beef and cider and Indian bread. Why will men worry themselves so? He that does not eat need not work. I wonder how much they have reaped. Who would live there where a body can never think for the barking of Bose? And oh, the housekeeping! to keep bright the devil's door-knobs, and scour his tubs this bright day! Better not keep a house. Say, some hollow tree; and then for morning calls and dinner-parties! Only a woodpecker tapping. Oh, they swarm; the sun is too warm there; they are born too far into life for me. I have water from the spring, and a loaf of brown bread on the shelf.—Hark! I hear a rustling of the leaves. Is it some ill-fed village hound yielding to the instinct of the chase? or the lost pig which is said to be in these woods, whose tracks I saw after the rain? It comes on apace; my sumachs and sweetbriers tremble.—Eh, Mr. Poet, is it you? How do you like the world to-day?

Poet. See those clouds; how they hang! That's the greatest thing I have seen to-day. There's nothing like it in old paintings, nothing like it in foreign lands—unless when we were off the coast of Spain. That's a true Mediterranean sky. I thought, as I have my living to get, and have not eaten to-day, that I might go a-fishing. That's the true industry for poets. It is the only trade I have learned. Come, let's along.

Hermit. I cannot resist. My brown bread will soon be gone. I will go with you gladly soon, but I am just concluding a serious meditation. I think that I am near the end of it. Leave me alone, then, for a while. But that we may not be delayed, you shall be digging the bait meanwhile. Angleworms are rarely to be met with in these parts, where the soil was never fattened with manure; the race is nearly extinct. The sport of digging the bait is nearly equal to that of catching the fish, when one's appetite is not too keen; and this you may have all to yourself today. I would advise you to set in the spade down yonder among the ground-nuts, where you see the johnswort waving. I think that I may warrant you one worm to every three sods you turn up, if you look well in among the roots of the grass, as if you were weeding. Or, if you choose to go farther, it will not be unwise, for I have found the increase of fair bait to be very nearly as the squares of the distances.

Hermit alone. Let me see; where was I? Methinks I was nearly in this frame of mind; the world lay about at this angle. Shall I go to heaven or a-fishing? If I should soon bring this meditation to an end, would another so sweet occasion be likely to offer? I was as near being resolved into the essence of things as ever I was in my life. I fear my thoughts will not come back to me. If it would do any good, I would whistle for them. When they make us an offer, is it wise to say, We will think of it? My thoughts have left no track, and I cannot find the path again. What was it that I was thinking of? It was a very hazy day. I will just try these three sentences of Confut-see; they may fetch that state about again. I know not whether it was the dumps or a budding ecstasy. Mem. There never is but one opportunity of a kind.

Poet. How now, Hermit, is it too soon? I have got just thirteen whole ones, beside several which are imperfect or undersized; but they will do for the smaller fry; they do not cover up the hook so much. Those village worms are quite too large; a shiner may make a meal off one without finding the skewer.

Hermit. Well, then, let's be off. Shall we to the Concord? There's good sport there if the water be not too high.

Why do precisely these objects which we behold make a world? Why has man just these species of animals for his neighbors; as if nothing but a mouse could have filled this crevice? I suspect that Pilpay & Co. have put animals to their best use, for they are all beasts of burden, in a sense, made to carry some portion of our thoughts.

The mice which haunted my house were not the common ones, which are said to have been introduced into the country, but a wild native kind not found in the village. I sent one to a distinguished naturalist, and it interested him much. When I was building, one of these had its nest underneath the house, and before I had laid the second floor, and swept out the shavings, would come out regularly at lunch time and pick up the crumbs at my feet. It probably had never seen a man before; and it soon became quite familiar, and would run over my shoes and up my clothes. It could readily ascend the sides of the room by short impulses, like a squirrel, which it resembled in its motions. At length, as I leaned with my elbow on the bench one day, it ran up my clothes, and along my sleeve, and round and round the paper which held my dinner, while I kept the latter close, and dodged and played at bopeep with it; and when at last I held still a piece of cheese between my thumb and finger, it came and nibbled it, sitting in my hand, and afterward cleaned its face and paws, like a fly, and walked away.

A phœbe soon built in my shed, and a robin for protection in a pine which grew against the house. In June the partridge (Tetrao umbellus), which is so shy a bird, led her brood past my windows, from the woods in the rear to the front of my house, clucking and calling to them like a hen, and in all her behavior proving herself the hen of the woods. The young suddenly disperse on your approach, at a signal from the mother, as if a whirlwind had swept them away, and they so exactly resemble the dried leaves and twigs that many a traveler has placed his foot in the midst of a brood, and heard the whir of the old bird as she flew off, and her anxious calls and mewing, or seen her trail her wings to attract his attention, without suspecting their neighborhood. The parent will sometimes roll and spin round before you in such a dishabille, that you cannot, for a few moments, detect what kind of creature it is. The young squat still and flat, often running their heads under a leaf, and mind only their mother's directions given from a distance, nor will your approach make them run again and betray themselves. You may even tread on them, or have your eyes on them for a minute, without discovering them. I have held them in my open hand at such a time, and still their only care, obedient to their mother and their instinct, was to squat there without fear or trembling. So perfect is this instinct, that once, when I had laid them on the leaves again, and one accidentally fell on its side, it was found with the rest in exactly the same position ten minutes afterward. They are not callow like the young of most birds, but more perfectly developed and precocious even than chickens. The remarkably adult yet innocent expression of their open and serene eyes is very memorable. All intelligence seems reflected in them. They suggest not merely the purity of infancy, but a wisdom clarified by experience. Such an eye was not born when the bird was, but is coeval with the sky it reflects. The woods do not yield another such a gem. The traveller does not often look into such a limpid well. The ignorant or reckless sportsman often shoots the parent at such a time, and leaves these innocents to fall a prey to some prowling beast or bird, or gradually mingle with the decaying leaves which they so much resemble. It is said that when hatched by a hen they will directly disperse on some alarm, and so are lost, for they never hear the mother's call which gathers them again. These were my hens and chickens.

It is remarkable how many creatures live wild and free though secret in the woods, and still sustain themselves in the neighborhood of towns, suspected by hunters only. How retired the otter manages to live here! He grows to be four feet long, as big as a small boy, perhaps without any human being getting a glimpse of him. I formerly saw the raccoon in the woods behind where my house is built, and probably still heard their whinnering at night. Commonly I rested an hour or two in the shade at noon, after planting, and ate my lunch, and read a little by a spring which was the source of a swamp and of a brook, oozing from under Brister's Hill, half a mile from my field. The approach to this was through a succession of descending grassy hollows, full of young pitch pines, into a larger wood about the swamp. There, in a very secluded and shaded spot, under a spreading white pine, there was yet a clean, firm sward to sit on. I had dug out the spring and made a well of clear gray water, where I could dip up a pailful without roiling it, and thither I went for this purpose almost every day in midsummer, when the pond was warmest. Thither, too, the woodcock led her brood, to probe the mud for worms, flying but a foot above them down the bank, while they ran in a troop beneath; but at last, spying me, she would leave her young and circle round and round me, nearer and nearer till within four or five feet, pretending broken wings and legs, to attract my attention, and get off her young, who would already have taken up their march, with faint, wiry peep, single file through the swamp, as she directed. Or I heard the peep of the young when I could not see the parent bird. There too the turtle doves sat over the spring, or fluttered from bough to bough of the soft white pines over my head; or the red squirrel, coursing down the nearest bough, was particularly familiar and inquisitive. You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.

I was witness to events of a less peaceful character. One day when I went out to my wood-pile, or rather my pile of stumps, I observed two large ants, the one red, the other much larger, nearly half an inch long, and black, fiercely contending with one another. Having once got hold they never let go, but struggled and wrestled and rolled on the chips incessantly. Looking farther, I was surprised to find that the chips were covered with such combatants, that it was not a duellum, but a bellum, a war between two races of ants, the red always pitted against the black, and frequently two red ones to one black. The legions of these Myrmidons covered all the hills and vales in my wood-yard, and the ground was already strewn with the dead and dying, both red and black. It was the only battle which I have ever witnessed, the only battle-field I ever trod while the battle was raging; internecine war; the red republicans on the one hand, and the black imperialists on the other. On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely. I watched a couple that were fast locked in each other's embraces, in a little sunny valley amid the chips, now at noonday prepared to fight till the sun went down, or life went out. The smaller red champion had fastened himself like a vice to his adversary's front, and through all the tumblings on that field never for an instant ceased to gnaw at one of his feelers near the root, having already caused the other to go by the board; while the stronger black one dashed him from side to side, and, as I saw on looking nearer, had already divested him of several of his members. They fought with more pertinacity than bulldogs. Neither manifested the least disposition to retreat. It was evident that their battle-cry was "Conquer or die." In the meanwhile there came along a single red ant on the hillside of this valley, evidently full of excitement, who either had despatched his foe, or had not yet taken part in the battle; probably the latter, for he had lost none of his limbs; whose mother had charged him to return with his shield or upon it. Or perchance he was some Achilles, who had nourished his wrath apart, and had now come to avenge or rescue his Patroclus. He saw this unequal combat from afar—for the blacks were nearly twice the size of the red—he drew near with rapid pace till he stood on his guard within half an inch of the combatants; then, watching his opportunity, he sprang upon the black warrior, and commenced his operations near the root of his right fore leg, leaving the foe to select among his own members; and so there were three united for life, as if a new kind of attraction had been invented which put all other locks and cements to shame. I should not have wondered by this time to find that they had their respective musical bands stationed on some eminent chip, and playing their national airs the while, to excite the slow and cheer the dying combatants. I was myself excited somewhat even as if they had been men. The more you think of it, the less the difference. And certainly there is not the fight recorded in Concord history, at least, if in the history of America, that will bear a moment's comparison with this, whether for the numbers engaged in it, or for the patriotism and heroism displayed. For numbers and for carnage it was an Austerlitz or Dresden. Concord Fight! Two killed on the patriots' side, and Luther Blanchard wounded! Why here every ant was a Buttrick—"Fire! for God's sake fire!"—and thousands shared the fate of Davis and Hosmer. There was not one hireling there. I have no doubt that it was a principle they fought for, as much as our ancestors, and not to avoid a three-penny tax on their tea; and the results of this battle will be as important and memorable to those whom it concerns as those of the battle of Bunker Hill, at least.

I took up the chip on which the three I have particularly described were struggling, carried it into my house, and placed it under a tumbler on my window-sill, in order to see the issue. Holding a microscope to the first-mentioned red ant, I saw that, though he was assiduously gnawing at the near fore leg of his enemy, having severed his remaining feeler, his own breast was all torn away, exposing what vitals he had there to the jaws of the black warrior, whose breastplate was apparently too thick for him to pierce; and the dark carbuncles of the sufferer's eyes shone with ferocity such as war only could excite. They struggled half an hour longer under the tumbler, and when I looked again the black soldier had severed the heads of his foes from their bodies, and the still living heads were hanging on either side of him like ghastly trophies at his saddle-bow, still apparently as firmly fastened as ever, and he was endeavoring with feeble struggles, being without feelers and with only the remnant of a leg, and I know not how many other wounds, to divest himself of them; which at length, after half an hour more, he accomplished. I raised the glass, and he went off over the window-sill in that crippled state. Whether he finally survived that combat, and spent the remainder of his days in some Hotel des Invalides, I do not know; but I thought that his industry would not be worth much thereafter. I never learned which party was victorious, nor the cause of the war; but I felt for the rest of that day as if I had had my feelings excited and harrowed by witnessing the struggle, the ferocity and carnage, of a human battle before my door.

Kirby and Spence tell us that the battles of ants have long been celebrated and the date of them recorded, though they say that Huber is the only modern author who appears to have witnessed them. "Æneas Sylvius," say they, "after giving a very circumstantial account of one contested with great obstinacy by a great and small species on the trunk of a pear tree," adds that "this action was fought in the pontificate of Eugenius the Fourth, in the presence of Nicholas Pistoriensis, an eminent lawyer, who related the whole history of the battle with the greatest fidelity." A similar engagement between great and small ants is recorded by Olaus Magnus, in which the small ones, being victorious, are said to have buried the bodies of their own soldiers, but left those of their giant enemies a prey to the birds. This event happened previous to the expulsion of the tyrant Christiern the Second from Sweden. The battle which I witnessed took place in the Presidency of Polk, five years before the passage of Webster's Fugitive-Slave Bill.

Many a village Bose, fit only to course a mud-turtle in a victualling cellar, sported his heavy quarters in the woods, without the knowledge of his master, and ineffectually smelled at old fox burrows and woodchucks' holes; led perchance by some slight cur which nimbly threaded the wood, and might still inspire a natural terror in its denizens;—now far behind his guide, barking like a canine bull toward some small squirrel which had treed itself for scrutiny, then, cantering off, bending the bushes with his weight, imagining that he is on the track of some stray member of the jerbilla family. Once I was surprised to see a cat walking along the stony shore of the pond, for they rarely wander so far from home. The surprise was mutual. Nevertheless the most domestic cat, which has lain on a rug all her days, appears quite at home in the woods, and, by her sly and stealthy behavior, proves herself more native there than the regular inhabitants. Once, when berrying, I met with a cat with young kittens in the woods, quite wild, and they all, like their mother, had their backs up and were fiercely spitting at me. A few years before I lived in the woods there was what was called a "winged cat" in one of the farm-houses in Lincoln nearest the pond, Mr. Gilian Baker's. When I called to see her in June, 1842, she was gone a-hunting in the woods, as was her wont (I am not sure whether it was a male or female, and so use the more common pronoun), but her mistress told me that she came into the neighborhood a little more than a year before, in April, and was finally taken into their house; that she was of a dark brownish-gray color, with a white spot on her throat, and white feet, and had a large bushy tail like a fox; that in the winter the fur grew thick and flatted out along her sides, forming stripes ten or twelve inches long by two and a half wide, and under her chin like a muff, the upper side loose, the under matted like felt, and in the spring these appendages dropped off. They gave me a pair of her "wings," which I keep still. There is no appearance of a membrane about them. Some thought it was part flying squirrel or some other wild animal, which is not impossible, for, according to naturalists, prolific hybrids have been produced by the union of the marten and domestic cat. This would have been the right kind of cat for me to keep, if I had kept any; for why should not a poet's cat be winged as well as his horse?

In the fall the loon (Colymbus glacialis) came, as usual, to moult and bathe in the pond, making the woods ring with his wild laughter before I had risen. At rumor of his arrival all the Mill-dam sportsmen are on the alert, in gigs and on foot, two by two and three by three, with patent rifles and conical balls and spy-glasses. They come rustling through the woods like autumn leaves, at least ten men to one loon. Some station themselves on this side of the pond, some on that, for the poor bird cannot be omnipresent; if he dive here he must come up there. But now the kind October wind rises, rustling the leaves and rippling the surface of the water, so that no loon can be heard or seen, though his foes sweep the pond with spy-glasses, and make the woods resound with their discharges. The waves generously rise and dash angrily, taking sides with all water-fowl, and our sportsmen must beat a retreat to town and shop and unfinished jobs. But they were too often successful. When I went to get a pail of water early in the morning I frequently saw this stately bird sailing out of my cove within a few rods. If I endeavored to overtake him in a boat, in order to see how he would manoeuvre, he would dive and be completely lost, so that I did not discover him again, sometimes, till the latter part of the day. But I was more than a match for him on the surface. He commonly went off in a rain.

As I was paddling along the north shore one very calm October afternoon, for such days especially they settle on to the lakes, like the milkweed down, having looked in vain over the pond for a loon, suddenly one, sailing out from the shore toward the middle a few rods in front of me, set up his wild laugh and betrayed himself. I pursued with a paddle and he dived, but when he came up I was nearer than before. He dived again, but I miscalculated the direction he would take, and we were fifty rods apart when he came to the surface this time, for I had helped to widen the interval; and again he laughed long and loud, and with more reason than before. He manoeuvred so cunningly that I could not get within half a dozen rods of him. Each time, when he came to the surface, turning his head this way and that, he cooly surveyed the water and the land, and apparently chose his course so that he might come up where there was the widest expanse of water and at the greatest distance from the boat. It was surprising how quickly he made up his mind and put his resolve into execution. He led me at once to the widest part of the pond, and could not be driven from it. While he was thinking one thing in his brain, I was endeavoring to divine his thought in mine. It was a pretty game, played on the smooth surface of the pond, a man against a loon. Suddenly your adversary's checker disappears beneath the board, and the problem is to place yours nearest to where his will appear again. Sometimes he would come up unexpectedly on the opposite side of me, having apparently passed directly under the boat. So long-winded was he and so unweariable, that when he had swum farthest he would immediately plunge again, nevertheless; and then no wit could divine where in the deep pond, beneath the smooth surface, he might be speeding his way like a fish, for he had time and ability to visit the bottom of the pond in its deepest part. It is said that loons have been caught in the New York lakes eighty feet beneath the surface, with hooks set for trout—though Walden is deeper than that. How surprised must the fishes be to see this ungainly visitor from another sphere speeding his way amid their schools! Yet he appeared to know his course as surely under water as on the surface, and swam much faster there. Once or twice I saw a ripple where he approached the surface, just put his head out to reconnoitre, and instantly dived again. I found that it was as well for me to rest on my oars and wait his reappearing as to endeavor to calculate where he would rise; for again and again, when I was straining my eyes over the surface one way, I would suddenly be startled by his unearthly laugh behind me. But why, after displaying so much cunning, did he invariably betray himself the moment he came up by that loud laugh? Did not his white breast enough betray him? He was indeed a silly loon, I thought. I could commonly hear the splash of the water when he came up, and so also detected him. But after an hour he seemed as fresh as ever, dived as willingly, and swam yet farther than at first. It was surprising to see how serenely he sailed off with unruffled breast when he came to the surface, doing all the work with his webbed feet beneath. His usual note was this demoniac laughter, yet somewhat like that of a water-fowl; but occasionally, when he had balked me most successfully and come up a long way off, he uttered a long-drawn unearthly howl, probably more like that of a wolf than any bird; as when a beast puts his muzzle to the ground and deliberately howls. This was his looning—perhaps the wildest sound that is ever heard here, making the woods ring far and wide. I concluded that he laughed in derision of my efforts, confident of his own resources. Though the sky was by this time overcast, the pond was so smooth that I could see where he broke the surface when I did not hear him. His white breast, the stillness of the air, and the smoothness of the water were all against him. At length having come up fifty rods off, he uttered one of those prolonged howls, as if calling on the god of loons to aid him, and immediately there came a wind from the east and rippled the surface, and filled the whole air with misty rain, and I was impressed as if it were the prayer of the loon answered, and his god was angry with me; and so I left him disappearing far away on the tumultuous surface.

For hours, in fall days, I watched the ducks cunningly tack and veer and hold the middle of the pond, far from the sportsman; tricks which they will have less need to practise in Louisiana bayous. When compelled to rise they would sometimes circle round and round and over the pond at a considerable height, from which they could easily see to other ponds and the river, like black motes in the sky; and, when I thought they had gone off thither long since, they would settle down by a slanting flight of a quarter of a mile on to a distant part which was left free; but what beside safety they got by sailing in the middle of Walden I do not know, unless they love its water for the same reason that I do.

 

禽兽为邻

有时我有一个钓鱼的伴侣,他从城那一头,穿过了村子到我的屋里来。我们一同捕鱼,好比请客吃饭,同样是一种社交活动。

隐士,我不知道这世界现在怎么啦。三个小时来,我甚至没听到一声羊齿植物上的蝉鸣。鸽子都睡在鸽房里,——它们的翅膀都不扑动。此刻,是否哪个农夫的正午的号角声在林子外面吹响了?雇工们要回来吃那煮好的腌牛肉和玉米粉面包,喝苹果酒了。人们为什么要这样自寻烦恼?人若不吃不喝,可就用不到工作了。我不知道他们收获了多少。谁愿意住在那种地方,狗吠得使一个人不能够思想?啊,还有家务!还得活见鬼,把铜把手擦亮,这样好的天气里还要擦亮他的浴盆!还是没有家的好。还不如住在空心的树洞里;也就不会再有早上的拜访和夜间的宴会!只有啄木鸟的啄木声。啊,那里人们蜂拥着;那里太阳太热;对我来说,他们这些人世故太深了。我从泉水中汲水,架上有一块棕色的面包。听!我听到树叶的沙沙声。是村

中饿慌了的狗在追猎?还是一只据说迷了路的小猪跑到这森林里来了?下雨后,我还看见过它的脚印呢。脚步声越来越近了;我的黄栌树和多花蔷薇在战抖了。——呃,诗人先生,是你吗?你觉得今天这个世界怎么样?

诗人。看这些云,如何地悬挂在天上!这就是我今天所看见的最伟大的东西了。在古画中看不到这样的云,在外国也都没有这样的云,——除非我们是在西班牙海岸之夕)。这是一个真正的地中海的天空。我想到,既然我总得活着,而今天却没有吃东西,那我就该去钓鱼了。这是诗人的最好的工作。这也是我唯一懂得的营生。来吧,我们一起去。

隐士。我不能拒绝你。我的棕色的面包快要吃完了。我很愿意马上跟你一起去,可是我正在结束一次严肃的沉思。我想很快就完了。那就请你让我再孤独一会儿。可是,为了免得大家都耽误,你可以先掘出一些钓饵来。这一带能作钓饵的蚯蚓 很少,因为土里从没有施过肥料;这一个物种几乎绝种了。挖掘鱼饵的游戏,跟钓鱼实在是同等有味的,尤其肚皮不饿的话,这一个游戏今天你一个人去做吧。我要劝你带上铲子,到那边的落花生丛中去挖掘;你看见那边狗尾草在摇摆吗?我想我可以保证,如果你在草根里仔细地找,就跟你是在除败草一样,那每翻起三块草皮,你准可以捉到一条蚯蚓。或者,如果你愿意走远一些,那也不是不聪明的,因为我发现钓饵的多少,恰好跟距离的平方成正比。

隐士独白。让我看,我想到什么地方去了?我以为我是在这样的思维的框框中,我对周围世界的看法是从这样的角度看的。我是应该上天堂去呢,还是应该去钓鱼?如果我立刻可以把我的沉思结束,难道还会有这样一个美妙的机会吗?我刚才几乎已经和万物的本体化为一体,这一生中我还从没有过这样的经验。我恐怕我的思想是不会再回来的了。如果吹口哨能召唤它们回来,那我就要吹口哨。当初思想向我们涌来的时候,说一句:我们要想一想,是聪明的吗?现在我的思想一点痕迹也没有留下来,我找不到我的思路了。我在想的是什么呢?这是一个非常朦胧的日子。我还是来想一想孔夫子的三句话,也许还能恢复刚才的思路。我不知道那是一团糟呢,还是一种处于抽芽发枝状态的狂喜。备忘录。机会是只有一次的。诗人。怎么啦,隐士;是不是太快了?我已经捉到了十三条整的,还有几条不全的,或者是大小的;用它们捉小鱼也可以;它们不会在钓钩上显得太大。这村子的蚯蚓真大极了,银鱼可以饱餐一顿而还没碰到这个串肉的钩呢。

隐士。好的,让我们去吧。我们要不要到康科德去?如果水位不大高,就可以玩个痛快了。

为什么恰恰是我们看到的这些事物构成了这个世界?为什么人只有这样一些禽兽做他的邻居;好像天地之间,只有老鼠能够填充这个窟窿?我想皮尔贝公司的利用动物,是利用得好极了,因为那里的动物都负有重载,可以说,是负载着我们的一些思想的。

常来我家的老鼠并不是平常的那种,平常的那种据说是从外地带到这野地里来的,而常来我家的却是在村子里看不到的土生的野鼠。我寄了一只给一个著名的博物学家,他对它发生了很大的兴趣。还在我造房子那时,就有一只这种老鼠在我的屋子下面做窝了,而在我还没有铺好楼板,刨花也还没有扫出去之前,每到午饭时分,它就到我的脚边来吃商包屑了。也许它从来没有看见过人;我们很快就亲热起来,它驰奔过我的皮鞋,而且从我的衣服上爬上来。它很容易就爬上屋侧,三下两窜就上去了,像松鼠,连动作都是相似的。到后来有一天我这样坐着,用肘子支在凳上,它爬上我的衣服,沿着我的袖子,绕着我盛放食物的纸不断地打转,而我把纸拉向我,躲开它,然后突然把纸推到它面前,跟它玩躲猫儿,最后,我用拇指与食指拿起一片干酪来,它过来了,坐在我的手掌中,一口一口地吃了它之后,很像苍蝇似的擦擦它的脸和前掌,然后扬长而去。

很快就有一只美洲鹟来我屋中做窠;一只知更鸟在我屋侧的一棵松树上巢居着,受我保护。六月里,鹧鸪(Tetraoumbellus)这样怕羞的飞鸟,带了它的幼雏经过我的窗子,从我屋后的林中飞到我的屋前,像一只老母鸡一样咯咯咯地唤她的孩子们,她的这些行为证明了她是森林中的老母鸡。你一走近它们,母亲就发出一个信号,它们就一哄而散,像一阵旋风吹散了它们一样;鹧鸪的颜色又真像枯枝和败叶,经常有些个旅行家,一脚踏在这些幼雏的中间了,只听得老鸟拍翅飞走,发出那焦虑的呼号,只见它的扑扑拍动的翅膀,为了吸引那些旅人,不去注意他们的前后左右。母鸟在你们面前打滚,打旋子,弄得羽毛蓬松,使你一时之间不知道它是怎么一种禽鸟了。幼雏们宁静而扁平的蹲着,常常把它们的头缩入一张叶子底下,什么也不听,只听着它们母亲从远处发来的信号,你就是走近它们,它们也不会再奔走,因此它们是不会被发觉的。甚至你的脚已经踏上了它们,眼睛还望了它们一会儿,可是还不能发觉你踩的是什么。有一次我偶然把它们放在我摊开的手掌中,因为它们从来只服从它们的母亲与自己的本能,一点也不觉得恐惧,也不打抖,它们只是照旧蹲着。这种本能是如此之完美,有一次我又把它们放回到村叶上,其中有一只由于不小心而跌倒在地了,可是我发现它,十分钟之后还是和别的雏鸟一起,还是原来的姿势。鹧鸪的幼雏不像其余的幼雏那样不长羽毛,比起小鸡来,它们羽毛更快地丰满起来,而且更加早熟。它们睁大了宁静的眼睛,很显著地成熟了,却又很天真的样子,使人一见难忘。这种眼睛似乎反映了全部智慧。不仅仅提示了婴孩期的纯洁,还提示了由经验洗炼过的智慧。鸟儿的这样的眼睛不是与生俱来的,而是和它所反映的天空同样久远。山林之中还没有产生过像它们的眼睛那样的宝石。一般的旅行家也都不大望到过这样清澈的一口井。无知而鲁莽的猎者在这种时候常常枪杀了它们的父母,使这一群无告的幼雏成了四处觅食的猛兽或恶鸟的牺牲品,或逐渐地混入了那些和它们如此相似的枯叶而同归于尽。据说,这些幼雏要是由老母鸡孵出来,那稍被惊扰,便到处乱走,很难幸兔,因为它们再听不到母鸟召唤它们的声音。这些便是我的母鸡和幼雏。

惊人的是,在森林之中,有多少动物是自由而奔放地,并且是秘密地生活着的,它们在乡镇的周遭觅食,只有猎者才猜到它们在那儿。水獭在这里过着何等僻隐的生活啊!他长到四英尺长,像一个小孩子那样大了,也许还没有被人看到过。以前我还看到过浣熊,就在我的屋子后面的森林中,现在我在晚上似乎依然能听到它们的嘤嘤之声。通常我上午耕作,中午在树荫之下休息一两个小时,吃过午饭,还在一道泉水旁边读读书,那泉水是离我的田地半英里远的勃立斯特山上流下来的,附近一个沼泽地和一道小溪都从那儿发源。到这泉水边去,得穿过一连串草木蓊蔚的洼地,那里长满了苍松的幼树,最后到达沼泽附近的一座较大的森林。在那里的一个僻隐而荫翳的地方,一棵巨大的白松下面有片清洁而坚实的草地,可以坐坐。我挖出泉水,挖成了一口井,流出清洌的银灰色水流,可以提出一桶水,而井水不致混浊。仲夏时分,我几乎每天都在那边取水,湖水太热了。山鹬把幼雏也带到这里,在泥土中找蚯蚓,又在幼雏之上大约一英尺的地方飞,飞在泉水之侧,而幼雏们成群结队在下面奔跑,可是后来它看到我,便离了它的幼雏,绕着我盘旋,越来越近,只有四五英尺的距离了,装出翅膀或脚折断了的样子,吸引我的注意,使我放过他的孩子们,那时它们已经发出微弱、尖细的叫声,照了她的指示,排成单行经过了沼泽。或者,我看不见那只母鸟,但是却听到了它们的细声。斑鸠也在这里的泉水上坐着,或从我头顶上面的那棵柔和的白松的一根丫枝上飞到另一丫枝;而红色的松鼠,从最近的树枝上盘旋下来,也特别和我亲热,特别对我好奇。不须在山林中的一些风景点坐上多久,便可以看见它的全体成员轮流出来展览它们自己。

我还是目睹比较不平和的一些事件的见证人。有一天,当我走出去,到我那一堆木料,或者说,到那一堆树根去的时候,我观察到两只大蚂蚁,一只是红的,另一只大得多,几乎有半英寸长,是黑色的,正在恶斗。一交手,它们就谁也不肯放松,挣扎着,角斗着,在木片上不停止地打滚。再往远处看,我更惊奇地发现,木片上到处有这样的斗士,看来这不是决斗,而是一场战争,这两个蚁民族之间的战争,红蚂蚁总跟黑蚂蚁战斗,时常还是两个红的对付一个黑的。在我放置木料的庭院中,满坑满谷都是这些迈密登。大地上已经满布了黑的和红的死者和将死者。这是我亲眼目击的唯一的一场战争,我曾经亲临前线的唯一的激战犹酣的战场;自相残杀的战争啊,红色的共和派在一边,黑色的帝国派在另一边。两方面都奋身作殊死之战,虽然我听不到一些声音,人类的战争还从没有打得这样坚决过。我看到在和丽阳光下,木片间的小山谷中,一双战士死死抱住不放开,现在是正午,它们准备酣战到日落,或生命消逝为止。那小个儿的红色英豪,像老虎钳一样地咬住它的仇敌的脑门不放。一面在战场上翻滚,一面丝毫不放松地咬住了它的一根触须的根,已经把另一根触须咬掉了;那更强壮的黑蚂蚁呢,却把红蚂蚁从一边到另一边地甩来甩去,我走近一看,它已经把红蚂蚁的好些部分都啃去了,它们打得比恶狗还凶狠。双方都一点也不愿撤退。显然它们的战争的口号是“不战胜,毋宁死”。同时,从这山谷的顶上出现了一只孤独的红蚂蚁,它显然是非常地激动,要不是已经打死了一个敌人,便是还没有参加战斗;大约是后面的理由,因为它还没有损失一条腿;它的母亲要它拿着盾牌回去,或者躺在盾牌上回去。也许它是阿基勒斯式的英雄,独自在一旁光火着,现在来救它的普特洛克勒斯,或者替它复仇来了。它从远处看见了这不平等的战斗,——因为黑蚂蚁大于红蚂蚁将近一倍,——它急忙奔上来,直到它离开那一对战斗者只半英寸的距离,于是,它觑定了下手的机会,便扑向那黑色斗士,从它的前腿根上开始了它的军事行动,根本不顾敌人反噬它自己身上的哪一部分;于是三个为了生命纠缠在一起了,好像发明了一种新的胶合力,使任何铁锁和水泥都比不上它们。这时,如果看到它们有各自的军乐队,排列在比较突出的木片上,吹奏着各自的国歌,以激励那些落在后面的战士,并鼓舞那些垂死的战士,我也会毫不惊奇了。我自己也相当地激动,好像它们是人一样。你越研究,越觉得它们和人类并没有不同。至少在康科德的历史中,暂且不说美国的历史了,自然是没有一场大战可以跟这一场战争相比的,无论从战斗人员的数量来说,还是从它们所表现的爱国主义与英雄主义来说。论人数与残杀的程度,这是一场奥斯特利茨之战,或一场德累斯顿之战。康科德之战算什么!爱国者死了两个,而路德·布朗夏尔受了重伤!啊,这里的每一个蚂蚁,都是一个波特利克,高呼着——“射击,为了上帝的缘故,射击!”——而成千生命都像台维斯和霍斯曼尔的命运一样。这里没有一个雇佣兵。我不怀疑,它们是为了原则而战争的,正如我的祖先一样,不是为了免去三便士的茶叶税,至于这一场大战的胜负,对于参战的双方,都是如此之重要,永远不能忘记,至少像我们的邦克山之战一样。

我特别描写的三个战士在同一张木片上搏斗,我把这张木片拿进我的家里,放在我的窗槛上。罩在一个大杯子下面,以便考察结局。用了这显微镜,先来看那最初提起的红蚂蚁,我看到,虽然它猛咬敌人前腿的附近,又咬断了它剩下的触须,它自己的胸部却完全给那个黑色战士撕掉了,露出了内脏,而黑色战士的胸铠却太厚,它没法刺穿;这受难者的黑色眼珠发出了只有战争才能激发出来的凶狠光芒。它们在杯子下面又挣扎了半小时,等我再去看时,那黑色战士已经使它的敌人的头颅同它们的身体分了家,但是那两个依然活着的头颅,就挂在它的两边,好像挂在马鞍边上的两个可怕的战利品,依然咬住它不放。它正企图作微弱的挣扎,因为它没有了触须,而且只存一条腿的残余部分,还不知受了多少其他的伤,它挣扎着要甩掉它们;这一件事,又过了半个小时之后,总算成功了。我拿掉了玻璃杯,它就在这残废的状态下,爬过了窗槛。经过了这场战斗之后,它是否还能活着,是否把它的余生消磨在荣誉军人院中,我却不知道了;可是我想它以后是干不了什么了不起的活儿的了。我不知道后来究竟是哪方面战胜的,也不知道这场大战的原因;可是后来这一整天里我的感情就仿佛因为目击了这一场战争而激动和痛苦,仿佛就在我的门口发生过一场人类的血淋淋的恶战一样。

柯尔比和斯班司告诉我们,蚂蚁的战争很久以来就备受称道,大战役的日期也曾经在史册上有过记载,虽然据他们说,近代作家中大约只有胡勃似乎是目击了蚂蚁大战的,他们说,“依尼斯·薛尔维乌斯曾经描写了,在一枝梨树树干上进行的一场大蚂蚁对小蚂蚁的异常坚韧的战斗以后”,接下来添注道——“‘这一场战斗发生于教皇攸琴尼斯第四治下,观察家是著名律师尼古拉斯·毕斯托利安西斯,他很忠实地把这场战争的全部经过转述了出来。’还有一场类似的大蚂蚁和小蚂蚁的战斗是俄拉乌斯·玛格纳斯记录的,结果小蚂蚁战胜了,据说战后它们埋葬了小蚂蚁士兵的尸首,可是对它们的战死的大敌人则暴尸不埋,听任飞鸟去享受。这一件战史发生于克利斯蒂恩第二被逐出瑞典之前。”至于我这次目击的战争,发生于波尔克总统任期之内,时候在韦勃司特制订的逃亡奴隶法案通过之前五年。

许多村中的牛,行动迟缓,只配在储藏食物的地窖里追逐乌龟的,却以它那种笨重的躯体来到森林中跑跑跳跳了,它的主人是不知道的,它嗅嗅老狐狸的窟穴和土拨鼠的洞,毫无结果;也许是些瘦小的恶狗给带路进来的,它们在森林中灵活地穿来穿去,林中鸟兽对这种恶狗自然有一种恐惧;现在老牛远落在它那导游者的后面了,向树上一些小松鼠狂叫,那些松鼠就是躲在上面仔细观察它的,然后它缓缓跑开,那笨重的躯体把树枝都压弯了,它自以为在追踪一些迷了路的老鼠。有一次,我很奇怪地发现了一只猫,散步在湖边的石子岸上,它们很少会离家走这么远的,我和猫都感到惊奇了。然而,就是整天都躺在地毡上的最驯服的猫,一到森林里却也好像回了老家,从她的偷偷摸摸的狡猾的步伐上可以看出,她是比土生的森林禽兽更土生的。有一次,在森林拣浆果时我遇到了一只猫,带领了她的一群小猫,那些小猫全是野性未驯的,像它们的母亲一样地弓起了背脊,向我凶恶地喷吐口水。在我迁入森林之前不多几年,在林肯那儿离湖最近的吉利安·倍克田庄内,有一只所谓“有翅膀的猫”。一八四二年六月,我专程去访问她(我不能确定这头猫是雌的还是雄的,所以我采用了这一般称呼猫的女性的代名词),她已经像她往常那样,去森林猎食去了,据她的女主人告诉我,她是一年多以前的四月里来到这附近的,后来就由她收容到家里;猫身深棕灰色,喉部有个白点,脚也是白的,尾巴很大,毛茸茸的像狐狸。到了冬天,她的毛越长越密,向两旁披挂,形成了两条十至十二英寸长,两英寸半阔的带子,在她的下巴那儿也好像有了一个暖手筒,上面的毛比较松,下面却像毡一样缠结着,一到春天,这些附着物就落掉了。他们给了我一对她的“翅膀”,我至今还保存着。翅膀的外面似乎并没有一层膜。有人以为这猫的血统一部分是飞松鼠,或别的什么野兽,因为这并不是不可能的,据博物学家说,貂和家猫支配,可以产生许多这样的杂种。如果我要养猫的话,这倒正好是我愿意养的猫,因为一个诗人的马既然能插翅飞跑,他的猫为什么不能飞呢?秋天里,潜水鸟(Colymbus glaclalis)像往常一样来了,在湖里脱毛并且洗澡,我还没有起身,森林里已响起了它的狂放的笑声。一听到它已经来到,磨坊水闸上的全部猎人都出动了,有的坐马车,有的步行,两两三三,带着猎枪和子弹,还有望远镜。他们行来,像秋天的树叶飒飒然穿过林中,一只潜水鸟至少有十个猎者。有的放哨在这一边湖岸,有的站岗在那一边湖岸,因为这可怜的鸟不能够四处同时出现;如果它从这里潜水下去,它一定会从那边上来的。可是,那阳春十月的风吹起来了,吹得树叶沙沙作响,湖面起了皱纹,再听不到也看不到潜水鸟了,虽然它的敌人用望远镜搜索水面,尽管枪声在林中震荡,鸟儿的踪迹都没有了。水波大量地涌起,愤怒地冲到岸上,它们和水禽是同一阵线的,我们的爱好打猎的人们只得空手回到镇上店里,还去干他们的未完的事务。不过,他们的事务常常是很成功的。黎明,我到湖上汲水的时候,我常常看到这种王者风度的潜水鸟驶出我的小湾,相距不过数杆。如果我想坐船追上它,看它如何活动,它就潜下水去,全身消失,从此不再看见,有时候要到当天的下午才出来。可是,在水面上,我还是有法子对付它的。它常常在一阵雨中飞去。有一个静谧的十月下午,我划船在北岸,因为正是这种日子,潜水鸟会像乳草的柔毛似的出现在湖上。我正四顾都找不到潜水鸟,突然间却有一头,从湖岸上出来,向湖心游去,在我面前只几杆之远,狂笑一阵,引起了我的注意。我划桨追去,它便潜入水中,但是等它冒出来,我却愈加接近了。它又潜入水中,这次我把方向估计错误了,它再次冒出来时,距离我已经五十杆。这样的距离却是我自己造成的;它又大声哗笑了半天,这次当然笑得更有理由了。它这样灵活地行动,矫若游龙,我无法进入距离它五六杆的地方。每一次,它冒到水面上,头这边那边地旋转,冷静地考察了湖水和大地,显然在挑选它的路线,以便浮起来时,恰在湖面最开阔、距离船舶又最远的地点。惊人的是它运筹决策十分迅速,而一经决定就立即执行。它立刻把我诱入最浩淼的水域,我却不能把它驱入湖水之一角了,当它脑中正想着什么的时候,我也努力在脑中测度它的思想。这真是一个美丽的棋局,在一个波平如镜的水上,一人一鸟正在对弈。突然对方把它的棋子下在棋盘下面了,问题便是把你的棋子下在它下次出现时最接近它的地方。有时它出乎意料地在我对面升上水面,显然从我的船底穿过了。它的一口气真长,它又不知疲倦,然而,等它游到最远处时,立刻又潜到水下;任何智慧都无法测度,在这样平滑的水面下,它能在这样深的湖水里的什么地方急泅如鱼,因为它有能力以及时间去到最深处的湖底作访问。据说在纽约湖中,深八十英尺的地方,潜水鸟曾被捕鳅鱼的钩子钩住。然而瓦尔登是深得多了。我想水中群鱼一定惊奇不置了,从另一世界来的这个不速之客能在它们的中间潜来潜去!然而它似乎深识水性,水下认路和水上一样,并且在水下泅泳得还格外迅疾。有一两次,我看到它接近水面时激起的水花,刚把它的脑袋探出来观察了一下,立刻又潜没了。我觉得我既可以估计它下次出现的地点,也不妨停下桨来等它自行出水,因为一次又一次,当我向着一个方向望穿了秋水时,我却突然听到它在我背后发出一声怪笑,叫我大吃一惊,可是为什么这样狡猾地作弄了我之后,每次钻出水面,一定放声大笑,使得它自己形迹败露呢?它的自色的胸脯还不够使它被人发现吗?我想,它真是一只愚蠢的潜水鸟。我一般都能听到它出水时的拍水之声,所以也能侦察到它的所在。可是,这样玩了一个小时,它富有生气、兴致勃勃,不减当初,游得比一开始时还要远。它钻出水面又庄严地游走了,胸羽一丝不乱,它是在水底下就用自己的脚蹼抚平了它胸上的羽毛的。它通常的声音是这恶魔般的笑声,有点像水鸟的叫声,但是有时,它成功地躲开了我,潜水到了老远的地方再钻出水面,它就发出一声长长的怪叫,不似鸟叫,更似狼嗥;正像一只野兽的嘴,咻咻地啃着地面而发出呼号。这是潜水鸟之音,这样狂野的音响在这一带似乎还从没听见过,整个森林都被震动了。我想它是用笑声来嘲笑我白费力气,并且相信它自己是足智多谋的。此时天色虽然阴沉,湖面却很平静,我只看到它冒出水来,还未听到它的声音。他的胸毛雪白,空气肃穆,湖水平静,这一切本来都是不利于它的。最后,在离我五十杆的地方,它又发出了这样的一声长啸,仿佛它在召唤潜水鸟之神出来援助它,立刻从东方吹来一阵凤,吹皱了湖水,而天地间都是蒙蒙细雨,还夹带着雨点,我的印象是,好像潜水鸟的召唤得到了响应,它的神生了我的气,于是我离开它,听凭它在汹涌的波浪上任意远扬了。

秋天里,我常常一连几个小时观望野鸭如何狡猾地游来游去,始终在湖中央,远离开那些猎人;这种阵势,它们是不必在路易斯安那的长沼练习的。在必须起飞时,它们飞到相当的高度,盘旋不已,像天空中的黑点。它们从这样的高度,想必可以看到别的湖沼和河流了;可是当我以为它们早已经飞到了那里,它们却突然之间,斜飞而下,飞了约有四分之一英里的光景,又降落到了远处一个比较不受惊扰的区域;可是它们飞到瓦尔登湖中心来,除了安全起见,还有没有别的理由呢?我不知道,也许它们爱这一片湖水,理由跟我的是一样的吧。

 




House-Warming

In October I went a-graping to the river meadows, and loaded myself with clusters more precious for their beauty and fragrance than for food. There, too, I admired, though I did not gather, the cranberries, small waxen gems, pendants of the meadow grass, pearly and red, which the farmer plucks with an ugly rake, leaving the smooth meadow in a snarl, heedlessly measuring them by the bushel and the dollar only, and sells the spoils of the meads to Boston and New York; destined to be jammed, to satisfy the tastes of lovers of Nature there. So butchers rake the tongues of bison out of the prairie grass, regardless of the torn and drooping plant. The barberry's brilliant fruit was likewise food for my eyes merely; but I collected a small store of wild apples for coddling, which the proprietor and travellers had overlooked. When chestnuts were ripe I laid up half a bushel for winter. It was very exciting at that season to roam the then boundless chestnut woods of Lincoln—they now sleep their long sleep under the railroad—with a bag on my shoulder, and a stick to open burs with in my hand, for I did not always wait for the frost, amid the rustling of leaves and the loud reproofs of the red squirrels and the jays, whose half-consumed nuts I sometimes stole, for the burs which they had selected were sure to contain sound ones. Occasionally I climbed and shook the trees. They grew also behind my house, and one large tree, which almost overshadowed it, was, when in flower, a bouquet which scented the whole neighborhood, but the squirrels and the jays got most of its fruit; the last coming in flocks early in the morning and picking the nuts out of the burs before they fell, I relinquished these trees to them and visited the more distant woods composed wholly of chestnut. These nuts, as far as they went, were a good substitute for bread. Many other substitutes might, perhaps, be found. Digging one day for fishworms, I discovered the ground-nut (Apios tuberosa) on its string, the potato of the aborigines, a sort of fabulous fruit, which I had begun to doubt if I had ever dug and eaten in childhood, as I had told, and had not dreamed it. I had often since seen its crumpled red velvety blossom supported by the stems of other plants without knowing it to be the same. Cultivation has well-nigh exterminated it. It has a sweetish taste, much like that of a frost-bitten potato, and I found it better boiled than roasted. This tuber seemed like a faint promise of Nature to rear her own children and feed them simply here at some future period. In these days of fatted cattle and waving grain-fields this humble root, which was once the totem of an Indian tribe, is quite forgotten, or known only by its flowering vine; but let wild Nature reign here once more, and the tender and luxurious English grains will probably disappear before a myriad of foes, and without the care of man the crow may carry back even the last seed of corn to the great cornfield of the Indian's God in the southwest, whence he is said to have brought it; but the now almost exterminated ground-nut will perhaps revive and flourish in spite of frosts and wildness, prove itself indigenous, and resume its ancient importance and dignity as the diet of the hunter tribe. Some Indian Ceres or Minerva must have been the inventor and bestower of it; and when the reign of poetry commences here, its leaves and string of nuts may be represented on our works of art.

Already, by the first of September, I had seen two or three small maples turned scarlet across the pond, beneath where the white stems of three aspens diverged, at the point of a promontory, next the water. Ah, many a tale their color told! And gradually from week to week the character of each tree came out, and it admired itself reflected in the smooth mirror of the lake. Each morning the manager of this gallery substituted some new picture, distinguished by more brilliant or harmonious coloring, for the old upon the walls.

The wasps came by thousands to my lodge in October, as to winter quarters, and settled on my windows within and on the walls overhead, sometimes deterring visitors from entering. Each morning, when they were numbed with cold, I swept some of them out, but I did not trouble myself much to get rid of them; I even felt complimented by their regarding my house as a desirable shelter. They never molested me seriously, though they bedded with me; and they gradually disappeared, into what crevices I do not know, avoiding winter and unspeakable cold.

Like the wasps, before I finally went into winter quarters in November, I used to resort to the northeast side of Walden, which the sun, reflected from the pitch pine woods and the stony shore, made the fireside of the pond; it is so much pleasanter and wholesomer to be warmed by the sun while you can be, than by an artificial fire. I thus warmed myself by the still glowing embers which the summer, like a departed hunter, had left.

When I came to build my chimney I studied masonry. My bricks, being second-hand ones, required to be cleaned with a trowel, so that I learned more than usual of the qualities of bricks and trowels. The mortar on them was fifty years old, and was said to be still growing harder; but this is one of those sayings which men love to repeat whether they are true or not. Such sayings themselves grow harder and adhere more firmly with age, and it would take many blows with a trowel to clean an old wiseacre of them. Many of the villages of Mesopotamia are built of second-hand bricks of a very good quality, obtained from the ruins of Babylon, and the cement on them is older and probably harder still. However that may be, I was struck by the peculiar toughness of the steel which bore so many violent blows without being worn out. As my bricks had been in a chimney before, though I did not read the name of Nebuchadnezzar on them, I picked out as many fireplace bricks as I could find, to save work and waste, and I filled the spaces between the bricks about the fireplace with stones from the pond shore, and also made my mortar with the white sand from the same place. I lingered most about the fireplace, as the most vital part of the house. Indeed, I worked so deliberately, that though I commenced at the ground in the morning, a course of bricks raised a few inches above the floor served for my pillow at night; yet I did not get a stiff neck for it that I remember; my stiff neck is of older date. I took a poet to board for a fortnight about those times, which caused me to be put to it for room. He brought his own knife, though I had two, and we used to scour them by thrusting them into the earth. He shared with me the labors of cooking. I was pleased to see my work rising so square and solid by degrees, and reflected, that, if it proceeded slowly, it was calculated to endure a long time. The chimney is to some extent an independent structure, standing on the ground, and rising through the house to the heavens; even after the house is burned it still stands sometimes, and its importance and independence are apparent. This was toward the end of summer. It was now November.

The north wind had already begun to cool the pond, though it took many weeks of steady blowing to accomplish it, it is so deep. When I began to have a fire at evening, before I plastered my house, the chimney carried smoke particularly well, because of the numerous chinks between the boards. Yet I passed some cheerful evenings in that cool and airy apartment, surrounded by the rough brown boards full of knots, and rafters with the bark on high overhead. My house never pleased my eye so much after it was plastered, though I was obliged to confess that it was more comfortable. Should not every apartment in which man dwells be lofty enough to create some obscurity overhead, where flickering shadows may play at evening about the rafters? These forms are more agreeable to the fancy and imagination than fresco paintings or other the most expensive furniture. I now first began to inhabit my house, I may say, when I began to use it for warmth as well as shelter. I had got a couple of old fire-dogs to keep the wood from the hearth, and it did me good to see the soot form on the back of the chimney which I had built, and I poked the fire with more right and more satisfaction than usual. My dwelling was small, and I could hardly entertain an echo in it; but it seemed larger for being a single apartment and remote from neighbors. All the attractions of a house were concentrated in one room; it was kitchen, chamber, parlor, and keeping-room; and whatever satisfaction parent or child, master or servant, derive from living in a house, I enjoyed it all. Cato says, the master of a family (patremfamilias) must have in his rustic villa "cellam oleariam, vinariam, dolia multa, uti lubeat caritatem expectare, et rei, et virtuti, et gloriae erit," that is, "an oil and wine cellar, many casks, so that it may be pleasant to expect hard times; it will be for his advantage, and virtue, and glory." I had in my cellar a firkin of potatoes, about two quarts of peas with the weevil in them, and on my shelf a little rice, a jug of molasses, and of rye and Indian meal a peck each.

I sometimes dream of a larger and more populous house, standing in a golden age, of enduring materials, and without gingerbread work, which shall still consist of only one room, a vast, rude, substantial, primitive hall, without ceiling or plastering, with bare rafters and purlins supporting a sort of lower heaven over one's head—useful to keep off rain and snow, where the king and queen posts stand out to receive your homage, when you have done reverence to the prostrate Saturn of an older dynasty on stepping over the sill; a cavernous house, wherein you must reach up a torch upon a pole to see the roof; where some may live in the fireplace, some in the recess of a window, and some on settles, some at one end of the hall, some at another, and some aloft on rafters with the spiders, if they choose; a house which you have got into when you have opened the outside door, and the ceremony is over; where the weary traveller may wash, and eat, and converse, and sleep, without further journey; such a shelter as you would be glad to reach in a tempestuous night, containing all the essentials of a house, and nothing for house-keeping; where you can see all the treasures of the house at one view, and everything hangs upon its peg, that a man should use; at once kitchen, pantry, parlor, chamber, storehouse, and garret; where you can see so necessary a thing, as a barrel or a ladder, so convenient a thing as a cupboard, and hear the pot boil, and pay your respects to the fire that cooks your dinner, and the oven that bakes your bread, and the necessary furniture and utensils are the chief ornaments; where the washing is not put out, nor the fire, nor the mistress, and perhaps you are sometimes requested to move from off the trap-door, when the cook would descend into the cellar, and so learn whether the ground is solid or hollow beneath you without stamping. A house whose inside is as open and manifest as a bird's nest, and you cannot go in at the front door and out at the back without seeing some of its inhabitants; where to be a guest is to be presented with the freedom of the house, and not to be carefully excluded from seven eighths of it, shut up in a particular cell, and told to make yourself at home there—in solitary confinement. Nowadays the host does not admit you to his hearth, but has got the mason to build one for yourself somewhere in his alley, and hospitality is the art of keeping you at the greatest distance. There is as much secrecy about the cooking as if he had a design to poison you. I am aware that I have been on many a man's premises, and might have been legally ordered off, but I am not aware that I have been in many men's houses. I might visit in my old clothes a king and queen who lived simply in such a house as I have described, if I were going their way; but backing out of a modern palace will be all that I shall desire to learn, if ever I am caught in one.

It would seem as if the very language of our parlors would lose all its nerve and degenerate into palaver wholly, our lives pass at such remoteness from its symbols, and its metaphors and tropes are necessarily so far fetched, through slides and dumb-waiters, as it were; in other words, the parlor is so far from the kitchen and workshop. The dinner even is only the parable of a dinner, commonly. As if only the savage dwelt near enough to Nature and Truth to borrow a trope from them. How can the scholar, who dwells away in the North West Territory or the Isle of Man, tell what is parliamentary in the kitchen?

However, only one or two of my guests were ever bold enough to stay and eat a hasty-pudding with me; but when they saw that crisis approaching they beat a hasty retreat rather, as if it would shake the house to its foundations. Nevertheless, it stood through a great many hasty-puddings.

I did not plaster till it was freezing weather. I brought over some whiter and cleaner sand for this purpose from the opposite shore of the pond in a boat, a sort of conveyance which would have tempted me to go much farther if necessary. My house had in the meanwhile been shingled down to the ground on every side. In lathing I was pleased to be able to send home each nail with a single blow of the hammer, and it was my ambition to transfer the plaster from the board to the wall neatly and rapidly. I remembered the story of a conceited fellow, who, in fine clothes, was wont to lounge about the village once, giving advice to workmen. Venturing one day to substitute deeds for words, he turned up his cuffs, seized a plasterer's board, and having loaded his trowel without mishap, with a complacent look toward the lathing overhead, made a bold gesture thitherward; and straightway, to his complete discomfiture, received the whole contents in his ruffled bosom. I admired anew the economy and convenience of plastering, which so effectually shuts out the cold and takes a handsome finish, and I learned the various casualties to which the plasterer is liable. I was surprised to see how thirsty the bricks were which drank up all the moisture in my plaster before I had smoothed it, and how many pailfuls of water it takes to christen a new hearth. I had the previous winter made a small quantity of lime by burning the shells of the Unio fluviatilis, which our river affords, for the sake of the experiment; so that I knew where my materials came from. I might have got good limestone within a mile or two and burned it myself, if I had cared to do so.

The pond had in the meanwhile skimmed over in the shadiest and shallowest coves, some days or even weeks before the general freezing. The first ice is especially interesting and perfect, being hard, dark, and transparent, and affords the best opportunity that ever offers for examining the bottom where it is shallow; for you can lie at your length on ice only an inch thick, like a skater insect on the surface of the water, and study the bottom at your leisure, only two or three inches distant, like a picture behind a glass, and the water is necessarily always smooth then. There are many furrows in the sand where some creature has travelled about and doubled on its tracks; and, for wrecks, it is strewn with the cases of caddis-worms made of minute grains of white quartz. Perhaps these have creased it, for you find some of their cases in the furrows, though they are deep and broad for them to make. But the ice itself is the object of most interest, though you must improve the earliest opportunity to study it. If you examine it closely the morning after it freezes, you find that the greater part of the bubbles, which at first appeared to be within it, are against its under surface, and that more are continually rising from the bottom; while the ice is as yet comparatively solid and dark, that is, you see the water through it. These bubbles are from an eightieth to an eighth of an inch in diameter, very clear and beautiful, and you see your face reflected in them through the ice. There may be thirty or forty of them to a square inch. There are also already within the ice narrow oblong perpendicular bubbles about half an inch long, sharp cones with the apex upward; or oftener, if the ice is quite fresh, minute spherical bubbles one directly above another, like a string of beads. But these within the ice are not so numerous nor obvious as those beneath. I sometimes used to cast on stones to try the strength of the ice, and those which broke through carried in air with them, which formed very large and conspicuous white bubbles beneath. One day when I came to the same place forty-eight hours afterward, I found that those large bubbles were still perfect, though an inch more of ice had formed, as I could see distinctly by the seam in the edge of a cake. But as the last two days had been very warm, like an Indian summer, the ice was not now transparent, showing the dark green color of the water, and the bottom, but opaque and whitish or gray, and though twice as thick was hardly stronger than before, for the air bubbles had greatly expanded under this heat and run together, and lost their regularity; they were no longer one directly over another, but often like silvery coins poured from a bag, one overlapping another, or in thin flakes, as if occupying slight cleavages. The beauty of the ice was gone, and it was too late to study the bottom. Being curious to know what position my great bubbles occupied with regard to the new ice, I broke out a cake containing a middling sized one, and turned it bottom upward. The new ice had formed around and under the bubble, so that it was included between the two ices. It was wholly in the lower ice, but close against the upper, and was flattish, or perhaps slightly lenticular, with a rounded edge, a quarter of an inch deep by four inches in diameter; and I was surprised to find that directly under the bubble the ice was melted with great regularity in the form of a saucer reversed, to the height of five eighths of an inch in the middle, leaving a thin partition there between the water and the bubble, hardly an eighth of an inch thick; and in many places the small bubbles in this partition had burst out downward, and probably there was no ice at all under the largest bubbles, which were a foot in diameter. I inferred that the infinite number of minute bubbles which I had first seen against the under surface of the ice were now frozen in likewise, and that each, in its degree, had operated like a burning-glass on the ice beneath to melt and rot it. These are the little air-guns which contribute to make the ice crack and whoop.

At length the winter set in good earnest, just as I had finished plastering, and the wind began to howl around the house as if it had not had permission to do so till then. Night after night the geese came lumbering in the dark with a clangor and a whistling of wings, even after the ground was covered with snow, some to alight in Walden, and some flying low over the woods toward Fair Haven, bound for Mexico. Several times, when returning from the village at ten or eleven o'clock at night, I heard the tread of a flock of geese, or else ducks, on the dry leaves in the woods by a pond-hole behind my dwelling, where they had come up to feed, and the faint honk or quack of their leader as they hurried off. In 1845 Walden froze entirely over for the first time on the night of the 22d of December, Flint's and other shallower ponds and the river having been frozen ten days or more; in '46, the 16th; in '49, about the 31st; and in '50, about the 27th of December; in '52, the 5th of January; in '53, the 31st of December. The snow had already covered the ground since the 25th of November, and surrounded me suddenly with the scenery of winter. I withdrew yet farther into my shell, and endeavored to keep a bright fire both within my house and within my breast. My employment out of doors now was to collect the dead wood in the forest, bringing it in my hands or on my shoulders, or sometimes trailing a dead pine tree under each arm to my shed. An old forest fence which had seen its best days was a great haul for me. I sacrificed it to Vulcan, for it was past serving the god Terminus. How much more interesting an event is that man's supper who has just been forth in the snow to hunt, nay, you might say, steal, the fuel to cook it with! His bread and meat are sweet. There are enough fagots and waste wood of all kinds in the forests of most of our towns to support many fires, but which at present warm none, and, some think, hinder the growth of the young wood. There was also the driftwood of the pond. In the course of the summer I had discovered a raft of pitch pine logs with the bark on, pinned together by the Irish when the railroad was built. This I hauled up partly on the shore. After soaking two years and then lying high six months it was perfectly sound, though waterlogged past drying. I amused myself one winter day with sliding this piecemeal across the pond, nearly half a mile, skating behind with one end of a log fifteen feet long on my shoulder, and the other on the ice; or I tied several logs together with a birch withe, and then, with a longer birch or alder which had a hook at the end, dragged them across. Though completely waterlogged and almost as heavy as lead, they not only burned long, but made a very hot fire; nay, I thought that they burned better for the soaking, as if the pitch, being confined by the water, burned longer, as in a lamp.

Gilpin, in his account of the forest borderers of England, says that "the encroachments of trespassers, and the houses and fences thus raised on the borders of the forest," were "considered as great nuisances by the old forest law, and were severely punished under the name of purprestures, as tending ad terrorem ferarum—ad nocumentum forestae, etc.," to the frightening of the game and the detriment of the forest. But I was interested in the preservation of the venison and the vert more than the hunters or woodchoppers, and as much as though I had been the Lord Warden himself; and if any part was burned, though I burned it myself by accident, I grieved with a grief that lasted longer and was more inconsolable than that of the proprietors; nay, I grieved when it was cut down by the proprietors themselves. I would that our farmers when they cut down a forest felt some of that awe which the old Romans did when they came to thin, or let in the light to, a consecrated grove (lucum conlucare), that is, would believe that it is sacred to some god. The Roman made an expiatory offering, and prayed, Whatever god or goddess thou art to whom this grove is sacred, be propitious to me, my family, and children, etc.

It is remarkable what a value is still put upon wood even in this age and in this new country, a value more permanent and universal than that of gold. After all our discoveries and inventions no man will go by a pile of wood. It is as precious to us as it was to our Saxon and Norman ancestors. If they made their bows of it, we make our gun-stocks of it. Michaux, more than thirty years ago, says that the price of wood for fuel in New York and Philadelphia "nearly equals, and sometimes exceeds, that of the best wood in Paris, though this immense capital annually requires more than three hundred thousand cords, and is surrounded to the distance of three hundred miles by cultivated plains." In this town the price of wood rises almost steadily, and the only question is, how much higher it is to be this year than it was the last. Mechanics and tradesmen who come in person to the forest on no other errand, are sure to attend the wood auction, and even pay a high price for the privilege of gleaning after the woodchopper. It is now many years that men have resorted to the forest for fuel and the materials of the arts: the New Englander and the New Hollander, the Parisian and the Celt, the farmer and Robin Hood, Goody Blake and Harry Gill; in most parts of the world the prince and the peasant, the scholar and the savage, equally require still a few sticks from the forest to warm them and cook their food. Neither could I do without them.

Every man looks at his wood-pile with a kind of affection. I love to have mine before my window, and the more chips the better to remind me of my pleasing work. I had an old axe which nobody claimed, with which by spells in winter days, on the sunny side of the house, I played about the stumps which I had got out of my bean-field. As my driver prophesied when I was plowing, they warmed me twice—once while I was splitting them, and again when they were on the fire, so that no fuel could give out more heat. As for the axe, I was advised to get the village blacksmith to "jump" it; but I jumped him, and, putting a hickory helve from the woods into it, made it do. If it was dull, it was at least hung true.

A few pieces of fat pine were a great treasure. It is interesting to remember how much of this food for fire is still concealed in the bowels of the earth. In previous years I had often gone prospecting over some bare hillside, where a pitch pine wood had formerly stood, and got out the fat pine roots. They are almost indestructible. Stumps thirty or forty years old, at least, will still be sound at the core, though the sapwood has all become vegetable mould, as appears by the scales of the thick bark forming a ring level with the earth four or five inches distant from the heart. With axe and shovel you explore this mine, and follow the marrowy store, yellow as beef tallow, or as if you had struck on a vein of gold, deep into the earth. But commonly I kindled my fire with the dry leaves of the forest, which I had stored up in my shed before the snow came. Green hickory finely split makes the woodchopper's kindlings, when he has a camp in the woods. Once in a while I got a little of this. When the villagers were lighting their fires beyond the horizon, I too gave notice to the various wild inhabitants of Walden vale, by a smoky streamer from my chimney, that I was awake.—

Light-winged Smoke, Icarian bird,
   Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight,
   Lark without song, and messenger of dawn,
   Circling above the hamlets as thy nest;
   Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form
   Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;
   By night star-veiling, and by day
   Darkening the light and blotting out the sun;
   Go thou my incense upward from this hearth,
   And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.

Hard green wood just cut, though I used but little of that, answered my purpose better than any other. I sometimes left a good fire when I went to take a walk in a winter afternoon; and when I returned, three or four hours afterward, it would be still alive and glowing. My house was not empty though I was gone. It was as if I had left a cheerful housekeeper behind. It was I and Fire that lived there; and commonly my housekeeper proved trustworthy. One day, however, as I was splitting wood, I thought that I would just look in at the window and see if the house was not on fire; it was the only time I remember to have been particularly anxious on this score; so I looked and saw that a spark had caught my bed, and I went in and extinguished it when it had burned a place as big as my hand. But my house occupied so sunny and sheltered a position, and its roof was so low, that I could afford to let the fire go out in the middle of almost any winter day.

The moles nested in my cellar, nibbling every third potato, and making a snug bed even there of some hair left after plastering and of brown paper; for even the wildest animals love comfort and warmth as well as man, and they survive the winter only because they are so careful to secure them. Some of my friends spoke as if I was coming to the woods on purpose to freeze myself. The animal merely makes a bed, which he warms with his body, in a sheltered place; but man, having discovered fire, boxes up some air in a spacious apartment, and warms that, instead of robbing himself, makes that his bed, in which he can move about divested of more cumbrous clothing, maintain a kind of summer in the midst of winter, and by means of windows even admit the light, and with a lamp lengthen out the day. Thus he goes a step or two beyond instinct, and saves a little time for the fine arts. Though, when I had been exposed to the rudest blasts a long time, my whole body began to grow torpid, when I reached the genial atmosphere of my house I soon recovered my faculties and prolonged my life. But the most luxuriously housed has little to boast of in this respect, nor need we trouble ourselves to speculate how the human race may be at last destroyed. It would be easy to cut their threads any time with a little sharper blast from the north. We go on dating from Cold Fridays and Great Snows; but a little colder Friday, or greater snow would put a period to man's existence on the globe.

The next winter I used a small cooking-stove for economy, since I did not own the forest; but it did not keep fire so well as the open fireplace. Cooking was then, for the most part, no longer a poetic, but merely a chemic process. It will soon be forgotten, in these days of stoves, that we used to roast potatoes in the ashes, after the Indian fashion. The stove not only took up room and scented the house, but it concealed the fire, and I felt as if I had lost a companion. You can always see a face in the fire. The laborer, looking into it at evening, purifies his thoughts of the dross and earthiness which they have accumulated during the day. But I could no longer sit and look into the fire, and the pertinent words of a poet recurred to me with new force.—

"Never, bright flame, may be denied to me
   Thy dear, life imaging, close sympathy.
   What but my hopes shot upward e'er so bright?
   What but my fortunes sunk so low in night?
   Why art thou banished from our hearth and hall,
   Thou who art welcomed and beloved by all?
   Was thy existence then too fanciful
   For our life's common light, who are so dull?
   Did thy bright gleam mysterious converse hold
   With our congenial souls? secrets too bold?

   Well, we are safe and strong, for now we sit
   Beside a hearth where no dim shadows flit,
   Where nothing cheers nor saddens, but a fire
   Warms feet and hands—nor does to more aspire;
   By whose compact utilitarian heap
   The present may sit down and go to sleep,
   Nor fear the ghosts who from the dim past walked,
   And with us by the unequal light 
                        of the old wood fire talked."

 

室内的取暖

十月中,我到河岸草地采葡萄,满教而归,色泽芬芳,胜似美味。在那里,我也赞赏蔓越橘,那小小的蜡宝石垂悬在草叶上,光莹而艳红,我却并不采集,农夫用耙耙集了它们,平滑的草地凌乱不堪,他们只是漫不经心地用蒲式耳和金元来计算,把草地上的劫获出卖到波士顿和纽约;命定了制成果酱,以满足那里的大自然爱好者的口味。同样地,屠夫们在草地上到处耙野牛舌草,不顾那被撕伤了和枯萎了的植物。光耀的伏牛花果也只供我眼睛的欣赏:我只稍为采集了一些野苹果,拿来煮了吃,这地方的地主和旅行家还没有注意到这些东西呢。栗子熟了,我藏了半蒲式耳,预备过冬天。这样的季节里,倘徜在林肯一带无边无际的栗树林中,真是非常兴奋的,——现在,这些栗树却长眠在铁道之下了,——那时我肩上扛了一只布囊,手中提了一根棍棒来打开那些有芒刺的果子,因为我总是等不到霜降的,在枯叶飒飒声和赤松鼠跟樫鸟聒噪责怪声中漫游,有时我还偷窃它们已经吃了一部分的坚果,因为它们所选中的有芒刺的果子中间,一定有一些是较好的。偶尔我爬上树,去震摇栗树,我屋后也长有栗树,有一棵大得几乎荫蔽了我的房屋。开花时,它是一个巨大的花束,四邻都馨郁,但它的果实大部分却给松鼠和樱鸟吃掉;樫鸟一清早就成群地飞来,在栗子落下来之前先把它从果皮中拣出来。这些树我让给了它们,自去找全部都是栗树的较远处的森林。这一种果实,我看,可以作为面包的良好的代用品。也许还可以找到别的许多种代用品吧。有一天我挖地找鱼饵,发现了成串的野豆(Apios tuberosa),是少数民族的土豆,一种奇怪的食物,我不禁奇怪起来,究竟我有没有像他们告诉过我的,在童年时代挖过,吃过它们,何以我又不再梦见它们了。我常常看到它们的皱的、红天鹅绒似的花朵,给别些植物的梗子支撑着,却不知道便是它们。耕耘差不多消灭了它们。它有甜味,像霜后的土豆,我觉得煮熟了吃比烘来吃更好。这种块茎似乎是大自然的一个默诺,将来会有一天它就要在这里简单地抚养自己的孩子,就用这些来喂养它们。目前崇尚养肥的耕牛,麦浪翻滚的田地,在这种时代里,卑微的野豆便被人遗忘了,顶多只有它开花的藤蔓还能看到,却曾经有一度它还是印第安部落的图腾呢;其实只要让狂野的大自然重新在这里统治,那些温柔而奢侈的英国谷物说不定就会在无数仇敌面前消失,而且不要人的援助,乌鸦会把最后的一颗玉米的种子再送往西南方,到印第安之神的大玉米田野上去,据说以前它就是从那儿把种子带过来的,那时候,野豆这现已几乎灭了种的果实也许要再生,并且繁殖了,不怕那霜雪和蛮荒,证明它自己是土生土长的,而且还要恢复古代作为游猎人民的一种主要食品时的那种重要地位和尊严了。必定是印第安的谷物女神或智慧女神发明了它,以后赐予人类的,当诗歌的统治在这里开始时,它的叶子和成串的坚果将在我们的艺术作品上得到表现。

九月一日,我就看到三两株小枫树的树叶已经红了,隔湖,就在三株岔开的白杨之下,在一个湖角上,靠近着水。啊!它们的颜色诉说着如许的故事。慢慢地,一个又一个星期,每株树的性格都显露了,它欣赏着照鉴在湖的明镜中的自己的倒影。每个早晨,这一画廊的经理先生取下墙上的旧画,换上一些新的画幅,新画更鲜艳或者色彩更和谐,非常出色。

十月中,黄蜂飞到我的住所来,数以千计,好像来过冬的,住在我的窗户里边我头顶上方的墙上,有时还把访客挡了驾呢。每天早晨都冻僵几只,我就把它们扫到外边,但我不愿意麻烦自己去赶走它们。它们肯惠临寒舍避冬,我还引以为荣哩。虽然它们跟我一起睡,从来不严重地触犯我;逐渐地,它们也消失了,我却不知道它们躲到什么隙缝中间,避去那冬天和不可言喻的寒冷。

到十一月,就像那些黄蜂一样,在我躲避冬天之前,我也先到瓦尔登的东北岸去,在那里,太阳从苍松林和石岸上反映过来,成了湖上的炉火;趁你还能做到的时候,曝日取暖,这样做比生火取暖更加愉快,也更加卫生。夏天像猎人一样已经走掉了,我就这样烤着它所留下来的还在发光的余火。

当我造烟囱的时候,我研究了泥水工的手艺。我的砖头都是旧货,必须用瓦刀刮干净,这样我对砖头和瓦刀的性质有了超出一般的了解。上面的灰浆已经有五十年历史,据说它愈经久愈牢固;就是这一种话,人们最爱反复他说,不管它们对不对。这种话的本身也愈经久而愈牢固了,必需用瓦刀一再猛击之,才能粉碎它,使一个自作聪明的老人不再说这种话。美索不达米亚的许多村子都是用从巴比伦废墟里拣来的质地很好的旧砖头造的,它们上面的水泥也许更老,也该更牢啦。不管怎么样,那瓦刀真厉害,用力猛击,丝毫无损于钢刃,简直叫我吃惊。我砌壁炉用的砖,都是以前一个烟囱里面的砖头,虽然并未刻上尼布甲尼撒的名字,我尽量拣。有多少就拣多少,以便减少工作和浪费,我在壁炉周围的砖头之间填塞了湖岸上的圆石,并且就用湖中的白沙来做我的灰浆。我为炉灶花了很多时间,把它作为寒舍最紧要的一部分。真的,我工作得很精细,虽然我是一清早就从地上开始工作的,到晚上却只叠起了离地不过数英寸高,我睡地板刚好用它代替枕头;然而我记得我并没有睡成了硬头颈;我的硬头颈倒是从前睡出来的。大约是这时候,我招待一个诗人来住了半个月,这使我腾不出地方来。他带来了他自己的刀子,我却有两柄呢,我们常常把刀子插进地里,这样来把它们擦干净。他帮我做饭。看到我的炉灶,方方正正、结结实实,渐渐升高起来,真是高兴,我想,虽说进展很慢,但据说这就可以更坚固些。在某种程度上,烟囱是一个独立体,站在地上,穿过屋子,升上天空;就是房子烧掉了,它有时候还站着,它的独立性和重要性是显而易见的。当时还是快近夏末。现在却是十一月了。

北风已经开始把湖水吹凉,虽然还要不断地再吹几个星期才能结冰,湖太深了。当我第一天晚上生了火,烟在烟囱里通行无阻,异常美妙,因为墙壁有很多漏风的缝,那时我还没有给板壁涂上灰浆。然而,我在这寒冷通风的房间内过了几个愉快的晚上,四周尽是些有节疤的棕色木板,而椽木是连树皮的,高高的在头顶上页。后来涂上了灰浆,我就格外喜欢我的房子。我不能不承认这样格外舒服。人住的每一所房子难道不应该顶上很高,高得有些隐晦的感觉吗?到了晚上,火光投射的影子就可以在椽木之上跳跃了。这种影子的形态,比起壁画或最值钱的家具来,应该是更适合于幻觉与想象的。现在我可以说,我是第一次住在我自己的房子里了,第一次用以蔽风雨,并且取暖了。我还用了两个旧的薪架以使木柴脱空,当我看到我亲手造的烟囱的背后积起了烟怠,我很欣慰,我比平常更加有权威、更加满意地拨火。固然我的房子很小,无法引起回声;但作为一个单独的房间,和邻居又离得很远,这就显得大一点了。一幢房屋内应有的一切都集中在这一个房间内;它是厨房,寝室,客厅兼储藏室;无论是父母或孩子,主人或仆役,他们住在一个房子里所得到的一切,我统统享受到了。卡托说,一个家庭的主人(patremfa- milias)必须在他的乡居别墅中,具有“cellam oleariam,vinariam ,dolia multa, uti lubeat caritatem expectare,etrei, et virtuti, et gloriae erit,”也就是说,“一个放油放酒的地窖,放进许多桶去预防艰难的日子,这是于他有利的,有价值的,光荣的。”在我的地窖中,我有一小桶的土豆,大约两夸脱的豌豆,连带它们的象鼻虫,在我的架上,还有一点儿米,一缸糖浆,还有黑麦和印第安玉米粉,各一配克。

我有时梦见了一座较大的容得很多人的房屋,矗立在神话中的黄金时代中,材料耐用持久,屋顶上也没有华而不实的装饰,可是它只包括一个房间,一个阔大、简朴、实用而具有原始风味的厅堂,没有天花板没有灰浆,只有光光的椽木和桁条,支撑着头顶上的较低的天,——却尽足以抵御雨雪了,在那里,在你进门向一个古代的俯卧的农神致敬之后,你看到衍架中柱和双柱架在接受你的致敬;一个空洞洞的房间,你必须把火炬装在一根长竿顶端方能看到屋顶,而在那里,有人可以住在炉边,有人可以往在窗口凹处,有人在高背长椅上,有人在大厅一端,有人在另一端,有人,如果他们中意,可以和蜘蛛一起住在椽木上:这屋子,你一打开大门就到了里边,不必再拘泥形迹;在那里,疲倦的旅客可以洗尘、吃喝、谈天、睡觉,不须继续旅行,正是在暴风雨之夜你愿意到达的一间房屋,一切应有尽有,又无管理家务之烦;在那里,你一眼可以望尽屋中一切财富,而凡是人所需要的都挂在木钉上;同时是厨房,伙食房,客厅,卧室,栈房和阁楼;在那里你可以看见木桶和梯子之类的有用的东西和碗橱之类的便利的设备,你听到壶里的水沸腾了,你能向煮你的饭菜的火焰和焙你的面包的炉子致敬,而必需的家具与用具是主要的装饰品;在那里,洗涤物不必晒在外面,炉火不熄,女主人也不会生气,也许有时要你移动一下,让厨子从地板门里走下地窖去,而你不用蹬脚就可以知道你的脚下是虚是实。这房子,像鸟巢,内部公开而且明显;你可以前门进来后门出去,而不看到它的房客;就是做客人也享受房屋中的全部自由,并没有八分之七是不能擅入的,并不是把你关起在一个特别的小房间中,叫你在里面自得其乐,——实际是使你孤零零地受到禁锢。目前的一般的主人都不肯邀请你到他的炉火旁边去,他叫来泥水匠,另外给你在一条长廊中造一个火炉,所谓“招待”,便是把你安置在最远处的一种艺术。关于做菜,自有秘密方法,好像要毒死你的样子。我只觉得我到过许多人的住宅,很可能会给他们根据法律而哄走,可是我从不觉得我到许多人的什么家里去过。如果我走到了像我所描写的那种广厦里,我倒可以穿了旧衣服去访问过着简单生活的国王或王后,可是如果我进到一个现代宫殿里,我希望我学会那倒退溜走的本领。

看起来,仿佛我们的高雅言语已经失去了它的全部力量,堕落到变成全无意义的废话,我们的生命已经这样地远离了言语的符号,隐喻与借喻都得是那么的牵强,要用送菜升降机从下面送上来,客厅与厨房或工作场隔得太远。甚至连吃饭也一般只不过是吃一顿饭的比喻,仿佛只有野蛮人才跟大自然和真理住得相近,能够向它们借用譬喻。远远住在西北的疆土或人之岛的学者怎么知道厨房中的议会式的清谈呢?

只有一两个宾客还有勇气跟我一起吃玉米糊;可是当他们看到危机接近,立刻退避,好像它可以把屋子都震坍似的。煮过那末多玉米糊了,房屋还是好好的站着呢。

我是直到气候真的很冷了,才开始泥墙的,为了这个缘故,我驾了一叶扁舟到湖对岸去取来更洁白的细沙。有了这样的交通工具,必要的话,就是旅行得更远我也是高兴的。在这期间,我的屋子已经四面都钉满了薄薄的木板条子。在钉这些板条的时候,我很高兴,我能够一锤就钉好一只钉子。我更野心勃勃,要迅速而漂亮地把灰浆从木板上涂到墙上。我记起了讲一个自负的家伙的那个故事。他穿了很好的衣服,常常在村里走来走去,指点工人。有一天他忽然想用实践来代替他的理论了,他卷起了袖子,拿了一块泥水工用的木板,放上灰浆,总算没出岔子,于是得意洋洋地望了望头顶上的板条,用了一个勇敢的动作把灰浆糊上去,马上出丑,全部灰浆掉回到他那傲慢的胸口。我再次欣赏灰浆,它能这样经济,这样便利地击退了寒冷,它平滑又漂亮,我懂得了一个泥水匠会碰到怎样一些事故。使我惊奇的是,在我泥平以前,砖头如何饥渴地吸人了灰浆中的全部水分,为了造一个新的壁炉,我用了多少桶水。前一个冬天,我就曾经试验过,用我们的河流中学名Unio fluviatilis的一种介壳烧制成少量的石灰;所以我已知道从什么地方去取得材料了。如果我高兴的话,也许我会走一两英里路,找到很好的石灰石,自己动手来烧石灰。

这时候,最照不到阳光和最浅的湖凹中已经结起了薄冰,比整个湖结冰早了几天,有些地方早了几星期。第一块冰特别有趣,特别美满,因为它坚硬,黝黑,透明,借以观察浅水地方的水,机会更好;因为在一英寸厚薄的冰上你已经可以躺下来,像水上的掠水虫,然后惬惬意意地研究湖底,距离你不过两三英寸,好像玻璃后面的画片,那时的水当然一直是平静的。沙上有许多沟槽,若干生物曾经爬过去,又从原路爬口来:至于残骸,那儿到处是白石英细粒形成的石蚕壳。也许是它们形成沟槽的吧,因为石蚕就在沟槽之中,虽然由它们来形成,而那些沟槽却又显得太宽阔而大。不过,冰本身是最有趣的东西,你得利用最早的机会来研究它。如果你就在冻冰以后的那天早晨仔细观看它,你可以发现那些仿佛是在冰层中间的气泡,实际上却是附在冰下面的表层的,还有好些气泡正从水底升上来;因为冰块还是比较结实,比较黝黑的,所以你可以穿过它看到水。这些气泡的直径大约从一英寸的八十分之一到八分之一,非常清晰而又非常美丽,你能看到你自己的脸反映在冰下面的这些气泡上。一平方英寸内可以数出三四十个气泡来。也有一些是在冰层之内的,狭小的,椭圆的,垂直的,约半英寸长,还有圆锥形的,顶朝上面,如果是刚刚冻结的冰,常常有一串珠子似的圆形气泡,一个顶在另一个的上面。但在冰层中间的这些气泡并没有附在冰下面的那么多,也没那么明显。我常常投掷些石子去试试冰的力量,那些穿冰而过的石子带了空气下去,就在下面形成了很大的很明显的白气泡。有一天,我过了四十八小时之后再去老地方看看,虽然那窟窿里已经又结了一英寸厚的冰了,但是我看到那些大气泡还很美好,我从一块冰边上的裂缝里看得很清楚。可是由于前两天温暖得仿佛小阳春,现在冰不再是透明的,透山水的暗绿色,看得到水底,而是不透明的,呈现灰白色,冰层已经比以前厚了一倍了,却不比以前坚固。热量使气泡大大扩展,凝集在一块,却变得不规则了,不再一个顶着一个,往往像一只袋子里倒出来的银币,堆积在一起,有的成了薄片,仿佛只占了一个细小的裂隙。冰的美感已经消失,再要研究水底已经来不及了。我很好奇,想知道我那个大气泡在新冰那儿占了什么位置,我挖起了一块有中型气泡的冰块来,把它的底朝了天。在气泡之下和周围已经结了一层新的冰,所以气泡是在两片冰的中间;它全部是在下层中间的,却又贴近上层,扁平的,也许有点像扁豆形,圆边,深四分之一英寸,直径四英寸;我惊奇地发现,就在气泡的下面,冰溶化得很有规则,像一只倒置的茶托,在中央八分之五英寸的高度,水和气泡之间有着一个薄薄的分界线,薄得还不到一英寸的八分之一,在许多地方,这分界线中的小气泡向下爆裂,也许在最大的直径一英尺的气泡底下完全是没有冰的。我恍然大悟了,我第一次看到的附在冰下面的小气泡现在也给冻入了冰块中,它们每一个都以不同程度在下面对冰块起了取火镜的作用,要溶化冰块。溶冰爆裂有声,全是这些小气泡干的花样。

最后冬天热心地来到了;刚好我把泥墙完成,那狂风就开始在屋子的周围吼叫,仿佛它待命已久,这时才获准吼叫。一夜夜,飞鹅在黑暗中隆隆而来,呼号着拍动着翅膀,一直到大地上已经铺了白雪之后,有的停在瓦尔登,有的低飞过森林到美港,准备上墨西哥,好几次,在十点十一点光景,从村里回到了家,我听到一群飞鹅的脚声,要不然就是野鸭,在我屋后,踩过洼地边林中的枯叶,它们要去那里觅食了,我还能听到它们的领队低唤着急行而去。一八四五年里,瓦尔登全面冻结的第一夜是十二月二十二日的晚上,早十多天,茀灵特和其他较浅的湖沼早就全部冻上了;四六年里是十六那一夜冻的;四九年大约是三十一日夜里;五0 年大约是十二月二十七日;五二年,一月五日;五三年,十二月三十一日。自十一月二十五日以来,雪已经在地面上积起来了,突然间冬天的景象展现在我的面前。我更加躲进我的小窝里,希望在我的屋子和我的心中都点亮一个火。现在我的户外工作便是到森林中去找枯木,抱在我手中,或者放在我肩膀上,把它们拿回来,有时还在左右两臂下各自挟了干枯松枝,把它们拖回家。曾经在夏令用作藩篱的茂郁松树现在却够我拖的了。我用它们祭了火神,因为它们已经祭过土地之神。这是多么有味的事,到森林中去猎取,或者说,去偷窃燃料,煮熟一顿饭菜!我的面包和肉食都很香。我们大部分的乡镇,在森林里都有足够的柴薪和废木料可以生火,可是目前它何却没有给任何人以温暖,有人还认为它们阻碍了幼林的发展。湖上还有许多漂浮而来的木料。夏天里,我曾经发现了一个苍松的木筏,是造铁路的时候,爱尔兰人钉起来的,树皮都还保留着。我把它们的一部分拖上了岸。已经浸过两年之久,现在又躺在高地有六个月,虽说还饱和着水没法晒干,却是十全十美的木料。这个冬天里的一天,我把木头一根根拖过湖来,以此自娱,拖了半英里路,木头有十五英尺长,一头搁在我肩上,一头放在冰上,就像溜冰似的溜了过来;要不我就把几根木料用赤杨的纤枝来捆上,再用一枝较长的赤杨或桤木丫枝钩住它,钩了过湖。这些木头虽然饱和着水,并且重得像铅,但是却不仅经烧,而且烧的火很热;而且,我还觉得它们浸湿了更好烧,好像浸水的松脂,在灯里烧起来格外经久。

吉尔平在他的英格兰森林中的居民记录里面,写着:“一些人侵占了土地,在森林中就这样筑了篱笆,造了屋子,”在“古老的森林法规中,这是被认为很有害的而要以强占土地的罪名重罚的,因为ad terrorem ferarum——ad nocumentum fore-stae等等”使飞禽恐惧,使森林受损。可是我比猎者或伐木者更关心野味和森林保护,仿佛我自己便是护林官一样;假若它有一部分给烧掉了,即便是我自己不小心烧掉的,我也要大为悲伤,比任何一个森林主本人都要哀痛得更长久,而且更无法安慰。我希望我们的农夫在砍伐一个森林的时候,能够感觉到那种恐惧,好像古罗马人士在使一个神圣森林(lucum conlucare)里的树木更稀些,以便放阳光进来的时候所感觉到的恐惧一样,因为他们觉得这个森林是属于一些天神的。罗马人先赎罪,后析祷,无论你是男神或女神,这森林是因你而神圣的,愿你赐福给我,给我的家庭和我的孩子们,等等。

甚至在这种时代,这新大陆上的森林却还是极有价值的,有一种比黄金更永久更普遍的价值,这真是很惊人的。我们已经发明和发现了许多东西,但没有人能经过一堆木料而毫不心动的。它对我们是非常地宝贵,正如对我们的撒克逊和诺尔门的祖先一样。如果他们是用来做弓箭,则我们是用它来做枪托的。米萧在三十多年前说过,纽约和费城的燃料的价钱,“几乎等于巴黎最好的木料的价钱,有时甚至于还要超过,虽然这大城市每年需要三十万‘考德’的燃料,而且周围三百英里的土地都已开垦过了。”在本乡镇上,木料的价钱几乎日夜在涨,唯一的问题是今年比去年涨多少。不是为了别的事情亲自到森林里来的机械师或商人,一定是为了林木拍卖才来的;甚至有人愿出很高的价钱来取得在砍伐者走了以后拣拾木头的权利。多少年代了啊,人类总是到森林中去找燃料和艺术的材料;新英格兰人,新荷兰人,巴黎人,克尔特人,农夫,罗宾汉,戈底·勃莱克和哈莱·吉尔;世界各地的王子和乡下人,学者和野蛮人,都要到森林里去拿一些木头出来,生火取暖煮饭。便是我,也肯定是少不了它的。

每一个人看见了他的柴火堆都非常欢喜。我喜欢把我的柴火堆放在我的窗下,细木片越多越能够使我记起那愉快的工作。我有一柄没人要的旧斧头,冬天里我常常在屋子向阳的一面砍那些豆田中挖出来的树根。正如在我耕田时,我租用的马匹的主人曾预言过的,这些树根给了我两次温暖,一次是我劈开它们的时候,一次在燃烧它们的时候,可是再没有任何燃料能够发出更多的热量来了。至于那柄斧头,有人劝我到村中的铁匠那里去锻一下,可是我自己锻了它,并用一根山核桃木给它装上柄,可以用了。虽然它很钝,却至少是修好了。

几片多油质的松木就是一大宝藏。不知道现在还有多少这样的燃料藏在大地的腹内。几年前,我常常在光秃秃的山顶上侦察,那地方曾经站着一个大松林,我找到过一些油质多的松根。它们几乎是不能毁灭的。至少三四十年老的树根,心子里还是完好的,虽然外表的边材已经腐朽了,那厚厚的树皮在心子外边四、五英寸的地方形成了一个环,和地面相齐。你用斧头和铲子,探索这个矿藏,沿着那黄黄的牛油脂似的、骨髓似的储藏,或者仿佛找到了金矿的矿苗似的,一直深入到地里去。通常我是用森林中的枯叶来引火的,那还是在下雪以前,我在我的棚子里储藏起来的。青青的山核桃木,精巧地劈开,那是樵夫们在森林中生营火时所用的引火。每隔一阵,我也把这一种燃料预备好一些。正如村中的袅袅的炊烟一样,我的烟囱上也有一道浓烟流出来,让瓦尔登谷中的许多野性的居民知道我是醒着的:——

翅膀轻展的烟啊,伊卡洛斯之鸟,

向上升腾,你的羽毛就要溶消,

悄然无声的云雀,黎明的信使啊,

盘旋在你的村屋上,那是你的巢;

要不然你是逝去的梦,午夜的

迷幻的身影,整理着你的裙裳;

夜间给群星蒙上面纱,白天里,

抹黑了光明,遮蔽了太阳光;

我的薰香,去吧,从这火炉上升,

见到诸神,请他们宽恕这通明的火光。

虽然我只用很少坚硬的青翠的刚刚劈开的树木,它却比任何别种燃料更适合我用。有时在一个冬令的下午,我出去散步的时候,留下了一堆旺盛的火,三四个小时之后,我回来了,它还熊熊地燃烧着。我出去之后,房中还并不是阒无一人的。好像我留下了一个愉快的管家妇在后面。住在那里的是我和火;一般说来,这位管家真是忠实可靠。然而,也有过一天,我正在劈木头,我想到我该到窗口去张望一下,看看这座房子是否着火了;在我的记忆中,就是这么一次,我特别在这事儿上焦虑了一下,所以,我去张望了,我看到一粒火星烧着了我的床铺,我就走了进去,把它扑灭,它已经烧去了像我手掌那么大的一块。既然我的房屋处在一个这样阳光充足,又这样挡风的位置上,它的屋脊又很低,所以在任何一个冬天的中午,我都可以让火熄灭。

鼹鼠住在我的地窖里,每次要啃去三分之一的土豆,它们利用我泥墙以后还剩下来的兽毛和几张牛皮纸,做了它们的巢,因为就是最最野性的动物,也像人类一样地爱舒服和温暖,也只有因为它们是这样小心,得到了个窝,它们才能过了一个冬天还活着。我有几个朋友,说话的口气好像我跑到森林里来,是为了要把我自己冷藏起来。动物只要在荫蔽的地方安排一张床铺,它以自己的体温来取暖;人却因为发现了火,在一个宽大的房间内把空气关了起来,把它弄得很温暖,却不靠自己的体温,然后把这暖室做成他的卧床,让他可以少穿许多累赘的衣服而跑来跑去,在冬天里保持着一种夏天的温度,更因为有窗子,依然能邀入光明来,再用一盏灯火,就把白昼拉长。就这样他超起了他的本能一步或两步,节省下时间来从事美术了。虽然,每当我长久曝露于狂风之下,我的全身就开始麻木,可是等到我回到了满室生春的房屋之内,我立刻恢复了我的官能,又延长了我的生命。就是住在最奢华的房间里的人在这方面也没有什么可以夸耀的,我们也不必费神去猜测人类最后将怎么毁灭,只要从北方吹来一股稍为锐利一些的狂风,任何时候都可以结束他们的生命,这还不容易吗?我们往往用寒冷的星期五和大雪这种说法,来计算日子,可是一个更寒冷的星期五,或更大的雪,就可以把地球上的人类的生存告一段落的。

第二年冬天,为了经济起见,我用了一只小小的炉灶,因为森林并不属于我所有,可是它并不像壁炉那样能让火焰保持旺盛了,那时候,煮饭多半不再是一个诗意的工作,而只成了一种化学的过程。在用炉灶的日子里,大家很快都忘记在火灰中像印第安人似的烤土豆了。炉灶不仅占地位,熏得房间里一股烟味,而且看不见火,我觉得仿佛失去了一个伴侣似的。你常常可以在火中认出一个面孔来。劳动者,在晚上凝望着火,常把白天积聚起来的杂乱而又粗俗的思想,都放到火里去洗炼。可是我再不能坐着凝望火焰了,有一位诗人的切题的诗句对我发生了新的力量。

“光亮的火焰,永远不要拒绝我,

你那可爱的生命之影,亲密之情,

向上升腾的光亮,是我的希望?

到夜晚沉沦低垂的是我的命运?

你是所有的人都欢迎,都爱的,

为何给放逐出我们的炉边和大厅?

难道是你的存在太富于想象了,

不能作迟钝的浮生的普遍照明?

你的神秘的光芒不是跟我们的

同性情的灵魂交谈吗?秘不可泄?

是的,我们安全而强壮,因为现在

我们坐在炉旁,炉中没有暗影。

也许没有喜乐哀愁,只有一个火,

温暖我们手和足——也不希望更多;

有了它这坚密、实用的一堆火,

在它前面的人可以坐下,可以安寝,

不必怕黑暗中显现游魂厉鬼,

古树的火光闪闪地和我们絮语。”

 




Former Inhabitants and Winter Visitors

I weathered some merry snow-storms, and spent some cheerful winter evenings by my fireside, while the snow whirled wildly without, and even the hooting of the owl was hushed. For many weeks I met no one in my walks but those who came occasionally to cut wood and sled it to the village. The elements, however, abetted me in making a path through the deepest snow in the woods, for when I had once gone through the wind blew the oak leaves into my tracks, where they lodged, and by absorbing the rays of the sun melted the snow, and so not only made a my bed for my feet, but in the night their dark line was my guide. For human society I was obliged to conjure up the former occupants of these woods. Within the memory of many of my townsmen the road near which my house stands resounded with the laugh and gossip of inhabitants, and the woods which border it were notched and dotted here and there with their little gardens and dwellings, though it was then much more shut in by the forest than now. In some places, within my own remembrance, the pines would scrape both sides of a chaise at once, and women and children who were compelled to go this way to Lincoln alone and on foot did it with fear, and often ran a good part of the distance. Though mainly but a humble route to neighboring villages, or for the woodman's team, it once amused the traveller more than now by its variety, and lingered longer in his memory. Where now firm open fields stretch from the village to the woods, it then ran through a maple swamp on a foundation of logs, the remnants of which, doubtless, still underlie the present dusty highway, from the Stratton, now the Alms-House Farm, to Brister's Hill.

East of my bean-field, across the road, lived Cato Ingraham, slave of Duncan Ingraham, Esquire, gentleman, of Concord village, who built his slave a house, and gave him permission to live in Walden Woods;—Cato, not Uticensis, but Concordiensis. Some say that he was a Guinea Negro. There are a few who remember his little patch among the walnuts, which he let grow up till he should be old and need them; but a younger and whiter speculator got them at last. He too, however, occupies an equally narrow house at present. Cato's half-obliterated cellar-hole still remains, though known to few, being concealed from the traveller by a fringe of pines. It is now filled with the smooth sumach (Rhus glabra), and one of the earliest species of goldenrod (Solidago stricta) grows there luxuriantly.

Here, by the very corner of my field, still nearer to town, Zilpha, a colored woman, had her little house, where she spun linen for the townsfolk, making the Walden Woods ring with her shrill singing, for she had a loud and notable voice. At length, in the war of 1812, her dwelling was set on fire by English soldiers, prisoners on parole, when she was away, and her cat and dog and hens were all burned up together. She led a hard life, and somewhat inhumane. One old frequenter of these woods remembers, that as he passed her house one noon he heard her muttering to herself over her gurgling pot—"Ye are all bones, bones!" I have seen bricks amid the oak copse there.

Down the road, on the right hand, on Brister's Hill, lived Brister Freeman, "a handy Negro," slave of Squire Cummings once—there where grow still the apple trees which Brister planted and tended; large old trees now, but their fruit still wild and ciderish to my taste. Not long since I read his epitaph in the old Lincoln burying-ground, a little on one side, near the unmarked graves of some British grenadiers who fell in the retreat from Concord—where he is styled "Sippio Brister"—Scipio Africanus he had some title to be called—"a man of color," as if he were discolored. It also told me, with staring emphasis, when he died; which was but an indirect way of informing me that he ever lived. With him dwelt Fenda, his hospitable wife, who told fortunes, yet pleasantly—large, round, and black, blacker than any of the children of night, such a dusky orb as never rose on Concord before or since.

Farther down the hill, on the left, on the old road in the woods, are marks of some homestead of the Stratton family; whose orchard once covered all the slope of Brister's Hill, but was long since killed out by pitch pines, excepting a few stumps, whose old roots furnish still the wild stocks of many a thrifty village tree.

Nearer yet to town, you come to Breed's location, on the other side of the way, just on the edge of the wood; ground famous for the pranks of a demon not distinctly named in old mythology, who has acted a prominent and astounding part in our New England life, and deserves, as much as any mythological character, to have his biography written one day; who first comes in the guise of a friend or hired man, and then robs and murders the whole family—New-England Rum. But history must not yet tell the tragedies enacted here; let time intervene in some measure to assuage and lend an azure tint to them. Here the most indistinct and dubious tradition says that once a tavern stood; the well the same, which tempered the traveller's beverage and refreshed his steed. Here then men saluted one another, and heard and told the news, and went their ways again.

Breed's hut was standing only a dozen years ago, though it had long been unoccupied. It was about the size of mine. It was set on fire by mischievous boys, one Election night, if I do not mistake. I lived on the edge of the village then, and had just lost myself over Davenant's "Gondibert," that winter that I labored with a lethargy—which, by the way, I never knew whether to regard as a family complaint, having an uncle who goes to sleep shaving himself, and is obliged to sprout potatoes in a cellar Sundays, in order to keep awake and keep the Sabbath, or as the consequence of my attempt to read Chalmers' collection of English poetry without skipping. It fairly overcame my Nervii. I had just sunk my head on this when the bells rung fire, and in hot haste the engines rolled that way, led by a straggling troop of men and boys, and I among the foremost, for I had leaped the brook. We thought it was far south over the woods—we who had run to fires before—barn, shop, or dwelling-house, or all together. "It's Baker's barn," cried one. "It is the Codman place," affirmed another. And then fresh sparks went up above the wood, as if the roof fell in, and we all shouted "Concord to the rescue!" Wagons shot past with furious speed and crushing loads, bearing, perchance, among the rest, the agent of the Insurance Company, who was bound to go however far; and ever and anon the engine bell tinkled behind, more slow and sure; and rearmost of all, as it was afterward whispered, came they who set the fire and gave the alarm. Thus we kept on like true idealists, rejecting the evidence of our senses, until at a turn in the road we heard the crackling and actually felt the heat of the fire from over the wall, and realized, alas! that we were there. The very nearness of the fire but cooled our ardor. At first we thought to throw a frog-pond on to it; but concluded to let it burn, it was so far gone and so worthless. So we stood round our engine, jostled one another, expressed our sentiments through speaking-trumpets, or in lower tone referred to the great conflagrations which the world has witnessed, including Bascom's shop, and, between ourselves, we thought that, were we there in season with our "tub," and a full frog-pond by, we could turn that threatened last and universal one into another flood. We finally retreated without doing any mischief—returned to sleep and "Gondibert." But as for "Gondibert," I would except that passage in the preface about wit being the soul's powder—"but most of mankind are strangers to wit, as Indians are to powder."

It chanced that I walked that way across the fields the following night, about the same hour, and hearing a low moaning at this spot, I drew near in the dark, and discovered the only survivor of the family that I know, the heir of both its virtues and its vices, who alone was interested in this burning, lying on his stomach and looking over the cellar wall at the still smouldering cinders beneath, muttering to himself, as is his wont. He had been working far off in the river meadows all day, and had improved the first moments that he could call his own to visit the home of his fathers and his youth. He gazed into the cellar from all sides and points of view by turns, always lying down to it, as if there was some treasure, which he remembered, concealed between the stones, where there was absolutely nothing but a heap of bricks and ashes. The house being gone, he looked at what there was left. He was soothed by the sympathy which my mere presence implied, and showed me, as well as the darkness permitted, where the well was covered up; which, thank Heaven, could never be burned; and he groped long about the wall to find the well-sweep which his father had cut and mounted, feeling for the iron hook or staple by which a burden had been fastened to the heavy end—all that he could now cling to—to convince me that it was no common "rider." I felt it, and still remark it almost daily in my walks, for by it hangs the history of a family.

Once more, on the left, where are seen the well and lilac bushes by the wall, in the now open field, lived Nutting and Le Grosse. But to return toward Lincoln.

Farther in the woods than any of these, where the road approaches nearest to the pond, Wyman the potter squatted, and furnished his townsmen with earthenware, and left descendants to succeed him. Neither were they rich in worldly goods, holding the land by sufferance while they lived; and there often the sheriff came in vain to collect the taxes, and "attached a chip," for form's sake, as I have read in his accounts, there being nothing else that he could lay his hands on. One day in midsummer, when I was hoeing, a man who was carrying a load of pottery to market stopped his horse against my field and inquired concerning Wyman the younger. He had long ago bought a potter's wheel of him, and wished to know what had become of him. I had read of the potter's clay and wheel in Scripture, but it had never occurred to me that the pots we use were not such as had come down unbroken from those days, or grown on trees like gourds somewhere, and I was pleased to hear that so fictile an art was ever practiced in my neighborhood.

The last inhabitant of these woods before me was an Irishman, Hugh Quoil (if I have spelt his name with coil enough), who occupied Wyman's tenement—Col. Quoil, he was called. Rumor said that he had been a soldier at Waterloo. If he had lived I should have made him fight his battles over again. His trade here was that of a ditcher. Napoleon went to St. Helena; Quoil came to Walden Woods. All I know of him is tragic. He was a man of manners, like one who had seen the world, and was capable of more civil speech than you could well attend to. He wore a greatcoat in midsummer, being affected with the trembling delirium, and his face was the color of carmine. He died in the road at the foot of Brister's Hill shortly after I came to the woods, so that I have not remembered him as a neighbor. Before his house was pulled down, when his comrades avoided it as "an unlucky castle," I visited it. There lay his old clothes curled up by use, as if they were himself, upon his raised plank bed. His pipe lay broken on the hearth, instead of a bowl broken at the fountain. The last could never have been the symbol of his death, for he confessed to me that, though he had heard of Brister's Spring, he had never seen it; and soiled cards, kings of diamonds, spades, and hearts, were scattered over the floor. One black chicken which the administrator could not catch, black as night and as silent, not even croaking, awaiting Reynard, still went to roost in the next apartment. In the rear there was the dim outline of a garden, which had been planted but had never received its first hoeing, owing to those terrible shaking fits, though it was now harvest time. It was overrun with Roman wormwood and beggar-ticks, which last stuck to my clothes for all fruit. The skin of a woodchuck was freshly stretched upon the back of the house, a trophy of his last Waterloo; but no warm cap or mittens would he want more.

Now only a dent in the earth marks the site of these dwellings, with buried cellar stones, and strawberries, raspberries, thimble-berries, hazel-bushes, and sumachs growing in the sunny sward there; some pitch pine or gnarled oak occupies what was the chimney nook, and a sweet-scented black birch, perhaps, waves where the door-stone was. Sometimes the well dent is visible, where once a spring oozed; now dry and tearless grass; or it was covered deep—not to be discovered till some late day—with a flat stone under the sod, when the last of the race departed. What a sorrowful act must that be—the covering up of wells! coincident with the opening of wells of tears. These cellar dents, like deserted fox burrows, old holes, are all that is left where once were the stir and bustle of human life, and "fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute," in some form and dialect or other were by turns discussed. But all I can learn of their conclusions amounts to just this, that "Cato and Brister pulled wool"; which is about as edifying as the history of more famous schools of philosophy.

Still grows the vivacious lilac a generation after the door and lintel and the sill are gone, unfolding its sweet-scented flowers each spring, to be plucked by the musing traveller; planted and tended once by children's hands, in front-yard plots—now standing by wallsides in retired pastures, and giving place to new-rising forests;—the last of that stirp, sole survivor of that family. Little did the dusky children think that the puny slip with its two eyes only, which they stuck in the ground in the shadow of the house and daily watered, would root itself so, and outlive them, and house itself in the rear that shaded it, and grown man's garden and orchard, and tell their story faintly to the lone wanderer a half-century after they had grown up and died—blossoming as fair, and smelling as sweet, as in that first spring. I mark its still tender, civil, cheerful lilac colors.

But this small village, germ of something more, why did it fail while Concord keeps its ground? Were there no natural advantages—no water privileges, forsooth? Ay, the deep Walden Pond and cool Brister's Spring—privilege to drink long and healthy draughts at these, all unimproved by these men but to dilute their glass. They were universally a thirsty race. Might not the basket, stable-broom, mat-making, corn-parching, linen-spinning, and pottery business have thrived here, making the wilderness to blossom like the rose, and a numerous posterity have inherited the land of their fathers? The sterile soil would at least have been proof against a low-land degeneracy. Alas! how little does the memory of these human inhabitants enhance the beauty of the landscape! Again, perhaps, Nature will try, with me for a first settler, and my house raised last spring to be the oldest in the hamlet.

I am not aware that any man has ever built on the spot which I occupy. Deliver me from a city built on the site of a more ancient city, whose materials are ruins, whose gardens cemeteries. The soil is blanched and accursed there, and before that becomes necessary the earth itself will be destroyed. With such reminiscences I repeopled the woods and lulled myself asleep.

At this season I seldom had a visitor. When the snow lay deepest no wanderer ventured near my house for a week or fortnight at a time, but there I lived as snug as a meadow mouse, or as cattle and poultry which are said to have survived for a long time buried in drifts, even without food; or like that early settler's family in the town of Sutton, in this State, whose cottage was completely covered by the great snow of 1717 when he was absent, and an Indian found it only by the hole which the chimney's breath made in the drift, and so relieved the family. But no friendly Indian concerned himself about me; nor needed he, for the master of the house was at home. The Great Snow! How cheerful it is to hear of! When the farmers could not get to the woods and swamps with their teams, and were obliged to cut down the shade trees before their houses, and, when the crust was harder, cut off the trees in the swamps, ten feet from the ground, as it appeared the next spring.

In the deepest snows, the path which I used from the highway to my house, about half a mile long, might have been represented by a meandering dotted line, with wide intervals between the dots. For a week of even weather I took exactly the same number of steps, and of the same length, coming and going, stepping deliberately and with the precision of a pair of dividers in my own deep tracks—to such routine the winter reduces us—yet often they were filled with heaven's own blue. But no weather interfered fatally with my walks, or rather my going abroad, for I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines; when the ice and snow causing their limbs to droop, and so sharpening their tops, had changed the pines into fir trees; wading to the tops of the highest hills when the show was nearly two feet deep on a level, and shaking down another snow-storm on my head at every step; or sometimes creeping and floundering thither on my hands and knees, when the hunters had gone into winter quarters. One afternoon I amused myself by watching a barred owl (Strix nebulosa) sitting on one of the lower dead limbs of a white pine, close to the trunk, in broad daylight, I standing within a rod of him. He could hear me when I moved and cronched the snow with my feet, but could not plainly see me. When I made most noise he would stretch out his neck, and erect his neck feathers, and open his eyes wide; but their lids soon fell again, and he began to nod. I too felt a slumberous influence after watching him half an hour, as he sat thus with his eyes half open, like a cat, winged brother of the cat. There was only a narrow slit left between their lids, by which he preserved a peninsular relation to me; thus, with half-shut eyes, looking out from the land of dreams, and endeavoring to realize me, vague object or mote that interrupted his visions. At length, on some louder noise or my nearer approach, he would grow uneasy and sluggishly turn about on his perch, as if impatient at having his dreams disturbed; and when he launched himself off and flapped through the pines, spreading his wings to unexpected breadth, I could not hear the slightest sound from them. Thus, guided amid the pine boughs rather by a delicate sense of their neighborhood than by sight, feeling his twilight way, as it were, with his sensitive pinions, he found a new perch, where he might in peace await the dawning of his day.

As I walked over the long causeway made for the railroad through the meadows, I encountered many a blustering and nipping wind, for nowhere has it freer play; and when the frost had smitten me on one cheek, heathen as I was, I turned to it the other also. Nor was it much better by the carriage road from Brister's Hill. For I came to town still, like a friendly Indian, when the contents of the broad open fields were all piled up between the walls of the Walden road, and half an hour sufficed to obliterate the tracks of the last traveller. And when I returned new drifts would have formed, through which I floundered, where the busy northwest wind had been depositing the powdery snow round a sharp angle in the road, and not a rabbit's track, nor even the fine print, the small type, of a meadow mouse was to be seen. Yet I rarely failed to find, even in midwinter, some warm and springly swamp where the grass and the skunk-cabbage still put forth with perennial verdure, and some hardier bird occasionally awaited the return of spring.

Sometimes, notwithstanding the snow, when I returned from my walk at evening I crossed the deep tracks of a woodchopper leading from my door, and found his pile of whittlings on the hearth, and my house filled with the odor of his pipe. Or on a Sunday afternoon, if I chanced to be at home, I heard the cronching of the snow made by the step of a long-headed farmer, who from far through the woods sought my house, to have a social "crack"; one of the few of his vocation who are "men on their farms"; who donned a frock instead of a professor's gown, and is as ready to extract the moral out of church or state as to haul a load of manure from his barn-yard. We talked of rude and simple times, when men sat about large fires in cold, bracing weather, with clear heads; and when other dessert failed, we tried our teeth on many a nut which wise squirrels have long since abandoned, for those which have the thickest shells are commonly empty.

The one who came from farthest to my lodge, through deepest snows and most dismal tempests, was a poet. A farmer, a hunter, a soldier, a reporter, even a philosopher, may be daunted; but nothing can deter a poet, for he is actuated by pure love. Who can predict his comings and goings? His business calls him out at all hours, even when doctors sleep. We made that small house ring with boisterous mirth and resound with the murmur of much sober talk, making amends then to Walden vale for the long silences. Broadway was still and deserted in comparison. At suitable intervals there were regular salutes of laughter, which might have been referred indifferently to the last-uttered or the forth-coming jest. We made many a "bran new" theory of life over a thin dish of gruel, which combined the advantages of conviviality with the clear-headedness which philosophy requires.

I should not forget that during my last winter at the pond there was another welcome visitor, who at one time came through the village, through snow and rain and darkness, till he saw my lamp through the trees, and shared with me some long winter evenings. One of the last of the philosophers—Connecticut gave him to the world—he peddled first her wares, afterwards, as he declares, his brains. These he peddles still, prompting God and disgracing man, bearing for fruit his brain only, like the nut its kernel. I think that he must be the man of the most faith of any alive. His words and attitude always suppose a better state of things than other men are acquainted with, and he will be the last man to be disappointed as the ages revolve. He has no venture in the present. But though comparatively disregarded now, when his day comes, laws unsuspected by most will take effect, and masters of families and rulers will come to him for advice.

"How blind that cannot see serenity!"  

A true friend of man; almost the only friend of human progress. An Old Mortality, say rather an Immortality, with unwearied patience and faith making plain the image engraven in men's bodies, the God of whom they are but defaced and leaning monuments. With his hospitable intellect he embraces children, beggars, insane, and scholars, and entertains the thought of all, adding to it commonly some breadth and elegance. I think that he should keep a caravansary on the world's highway, where philosophers of all nations might put up, and on his sign should be printed, "Entertainment for man, but not for his beast. Enter ye that have leisure and a quiet mind, who earnestly seek the right road." He is perhaps the sanest man and has the fewest crotchets of any I chance to know; the same yesterday and tomorrow. Of yore we had sauntered and talked, and effectually put the world behind us; for he was pledged to no institution in it, freeborn, ingenuus. Whichever way we turned, it seemed that the heavens and the earth had met together, since he enhanced the beauty of the landscape. A blue-robed man, whose fittest roof is the overarching sky which reflects his serenity. I do not see how he can ever die; Nature cannot spare him.

Having each some shingles of thought well dried, we sat and whittled them, trying our knives, and admiring the clear yellowish grain of the pumpkin pine. We waded so gently and reverently, or we pulled together so smoothly, that the fishes of thought were not scared from the stream, nor feared any angler on the bank, but came and went grandly, like the clouds which float through the western sky, and the mother-o'-pearl flocks which sometimes form and dissolve there. There we worked, revising mythology, rounding a fable here and there, and building castles in the air for which earth offered no worthy foundation. Great Looker! Great Expecter! to converse with whom was a New England Night's Entertainment. Ah! such discourse we had, hermit and philosopher, and the old settler I have spoken of—we three—it expanded and racked my little house; I should not dare to say how many pounds' weight there was above the atmospheric pressure on every circular inch; it opened its seams so that they had to be calked with much dulness thereafter to stop the consequent leak;—but I had enough of that kind of oakum already picked.

There was one other with whom I had "solid seasons," long to be remembered, at his house in the village, and who looked in upon me from time to time; but I had no more for society there.

There too, as everywhere, I sometimes expected the Visitor who never comes. The Vishnu Purana says, "The house-holder is to remain at eventide in his courtyard as long as it takes to milk a cow, or longer if he pleases, to await the arrival of a guest." I often performed this duty of hospitality, waited long enough to milk a whole herd of cows, but did not see the man approaching from the town.

 

旧居民;冬天的访客

我遭逢了几次快乐的风雪,在火炉边度过了一些愉快的冬夜,那时外面风雪狂放地旋转,便是枭鹰的叫声也给压下去了。好几个星期以来,我的散步中没有遇到过一个人,除非那些偶尔到林中来伐木的,他们用雪车把木料载走了。然而那些大风大雪却教会我从林中积雪深处开辟出一条路径来,因为有一次我走过去以后,风把一些橡树叶子吹到了被我踏过的地方;它们留在那里,吸收了太阳光,而溶去了积雪,这样我不但脚下有了干燥的路可走,而且到晚上,它们的黑色线条可以给我引路。至于与人交往,我不能不念念有辞,召回旧日的林中居民。照我那个乡镇上许多居民的记忆,我屋子附近那条路上曾响彻了居民的闲谈与笑声,而两旁的森林,到处斑斑点点,都曾经有他们的小花园和小住宅,虽然当时的森林,比起现在来,还要浓密得多。在有些地方,我自己都记得的,浓密的松材摩擦着轻便马车的两侧;不得不单独地步行到林肯去的女人和孩子,经过这里往往害怕得不得了,甚至狂奔上一段路。虽然主要他说来,这是到邻村去的一条微不足道的小径,或者说是只有樵夫在走的,但是它曾经迷惑了一些旅行家,当时它的花明柳暗,比现下更要丰富,在记忆之中也更可留恋。现在从村子到森林中间有一大片空旷的原野,当时是一个枫树林的沼泽地区,许多的木料是那里的小径的基础,现在成了多尘土的公路了,从现在已经是济贫院的斯特拉登,经过田庄,一直通到勃立斯特山的公路下,无疑还找得到它的痕迹。

在我的豆田之东,路的那一边,卡托·殷格拉汉姆曾居住过,他是康科德的乡绅邓肯·殷格拉汉姆老爷的奴隶;他给他的奴隶造了一座房子,还允许他住在瓦尔登林中,——这个卡托不是尤蒂卡的那个,而是康科德人。有人说他是几内亚的黑人。有少数人还记得他胡桃林中的一块小地,他将它培育成林了,希望老了以后,需要的时候可以有用处;一个年轻白种人的投机家后来买下了它。现在他也有一所狭长的房子。卡托的那个半已消失无踪的地窖窟窿至今还在,却很少人知道了,因为有一行松树遮去了旅行家的视线。现在那里满是平滑的黄栌树(学名Rhusglabra),还有很原始的一种黄色紫苑(学名Solidagostricta),也在那里很茂郁地生长着。

就在我的豆田转角的地方,离乡镇更近了,一个黑种女人席尔发有着她的一幢小房屋,她在那里给地方上人织细麻布,她有一个响亮激越的嗓子,唱得瓦尔登林中口荡着她的尖锐的歌声。最后,一八一二年,她的住宅给一些英国兵烧掉了,他们是一些假释的俘虏,那时恰巧她不在家,她的猫、狗和老母鸡一起都给烧死了。她过的生活很艰苦,几乎是不像人过的。有个在这森林中可称为常客的老者还记得,某一个午间他经过她的家,他听到她在对着沸腾的壶喃喃自语,——“你们全是骨头,骨头啊!”我还看见过橡树林中留存着的砖头。

沿路走下去,右手边,在勃立斯特山上,住着勃立斯特,富理曼,“一个机灵的黑人”,一度是肯明斯老爷的奴隶,——这个勃立斯特亲手种植并培养的苹果树