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Lord Chesterfield - Upon Affectation 汉译

2014-05-30    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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Upon Affectation

Lord Chesterfield

Most people complain of fortune, few of nature; and the kinder they think the latter has been to them, the more they murmur at what they call the injustice of the former.

Why have not I the riches, the rank, the power, of such and such, is the common expostulation with fortune; but why have not I the merit, the talents, the wit, or the beauty of such and such others, is a reproach rarely or never made to nature.

The truth is, that nature, seldom profuse, and seldom niggardly, has distributed her gifts more equally than she is generally supposed to have done. Education and situation make the great difference. Culture improves, and occasions elicit, natural talents. I make no doubt but that there are potentially, if I may use that pedantic word, many Bacons, Lockes, Newtons, Caesars, Cromwells, and Marlboroughs, at the plough-tail, behind counters, and, perhaps, even among the nobility ; but the soil must be cultivated, and the seasons favourable, for the fruit to have all its spirit and flavour.

 If sometimes our common parent has been a little partial, and not kept the scales quite even ; if one preponderates too much, we throw into the lighter a due counterpoise of vanity, which never fails to set all right. Hence it happens, that hardly any one man would, without reserve, and in every particular, change with any other.

Though all are thus satisfied with the dispensations of nature, how few listen to her voice! how few follow her as a guide! In vain she points out to us the plain and direct way to truth; vanity, fancy, affectation, and fashion, assume her shape, and wind us through fairy-ground to folly and error.

These deviations from nature are often attended by serious consequences, and always by ridiculous ones; for there is nothing truer than the trite observation, ‘that people are never ridiculous for being what they really are, but for affecting what they really are not’. Affectation is the only source, and, at the same time, the only justifiable object, of ridicule. No man whatsoever, be his pretensions what they will, has a natural right to be ridiculous; it is an acquired right, and not to be acquired without some industry; which perhaps is the reason why so many people are so jealous and tenacious of it. Even some people’s VICES are not their own, but affected and adopted, though at the same time unenjoyed, in hopes of shining in those fashionable societies, where the reputation of certain vices gives lustre. In these cases, the execution is commonly as awkward as the design is absurd; and the ridicule equals the guilt.

This calls to my mind a thing that really happened not many years ago. A young fellow of some rank and fortune, just let loose from the university, resolved, in order to make a figure in the world, to assume the shining character of what he called a rake. By way of learning the rudiments of his intended profession, he frequented the theatres, where he was often drunk, and always noisy. Being one night at the representation of that most absurd play, the Libertine destroyed, he was so charmed with the profligacy of the hero of the piece, that, to the edification of the audience, he swore many oaths that he would be the libertine destroyed. A discreet friend of his who sat by him, kindly represented to him, that to be the libertine was a laudable design, which he greatly approved of; but that to be the libertine destroyed, seemed to him an unnecessary part of his plan, and rather rash. He persisted, however, in his first resolution, and insisted upon being the libertine, and destroyed. Probably he was so; at least the presumption is in his favour. There are, I am persuaded, so many cases of this nature, that for my own part I would desire no greater step towards the reformation of manners for the next twenty years, than that our people should have no vices but their own.

The blockhead who affects wisdom, because nature has given him dullness, becomes ridiculous only by his adopted character; whereas he might have stagnated unobserved in his native mud, or perhaps have engrossed deeds, collected shells, and studied heraldry, or logic, with some success.

The shining coxcomb aims at all, and decides finally upon everything, because nature has given him pertness. The degree of parts and animal spirits necessary to constitute that character, if properly applied, might have made him useful in many parts of life; but his affectation and presumption make him useless in most, and ridiculous in all.

The septuagenary fine gentleman might probably, from his long experience and knowledge of the world, be esteemed and respected in the several relations of domestic life, which, at his age, nature points out to him: he will most ridiculously spin out the rotten thread of his former gallantries. He dresses, languishes, ogles, as he did at five-and-twenty; and modestly intimates that he is not without a bonne fortune; which bonne fortune at last appears to be the prostitute he had long kept not to himself, whom he marries and owns, because the poor girl was so fond of him and so desirous to be made an honest woman.

The sexagenary widow remembers that she was handsome, but forgets that it was thirty years ago, and thinks herself so, or at least, very likeable, still. The pardonable affectations of her youth and beauty unpardonably continue, increase even with her years, and are doubly exerted in hopes of concealing the number. All the gaudy glittering parts of dress, which rather degraded than adorned her beauty in its bloom, now expose to the highest and justest ridicule her shriveled or her overgrown carcass. She totters or sweats under the load of her jewels, embroideries, and brocades, which, like so many Egyptian hieroglyphics, serve only to authenticate the venerable antiquity of her august mummy. Her eyes dimly twinkle tenderness, or leer desire: their language, however inelegant, is intelligible, and the half-pay captain understands it. He addresses his vows to her vanity, which assures her they are sincere. She pities him, and prefers him to credit, decency, and every social duty. He tenderly prefers her, though not without some hesitation, to a jail.

Self-love, kept within due bounds, is a natural and useful sentiment. It is, in truth, social love too, as Mr. Pope has very justly observed: it is the spring of many good actions, and of no ridiculous ones. But self-flattery is only the ape, or caricature of self-love, and resembles it no more than to heighten the ridicule. Like other flattery, it is the most profusely bestowed and greedily swallowed, where it is the least deserved. I will conclude this subject with the substance of a fable of the ingenious Monsieur de la Motte, which seems not unapplicable to it.
 
Jupiter made a lottery in heaven, in which mortals, as well as gods, were allowed to have tickets. The prize was WISDOM; and Minerva got it. The mortals murmured, and accused the gods of foul play. Jupiter, to wipe off this aspersion, declared another lottery, for mortals singly and exclusively of the gods. The prize was FOLLY. They got it and shared it among themselves. All were satisfied. The loss of WISDOM was neither regretted nor remembered; FOLLY supplied its place, and those who had the largest share of it, thought themselves the wisest.


论矫情

切斯特菲尔德勋爵

很多人抱怨命运,却很少有人抱怨自然;人们越是认为自然对他们仁爱有加,便越是嘀咕命运对他们的所谓不公。

人们常常对命运发出诘难:我为何没有财富、地位、权力以及诸如此类的东西;但人们却很少或从不这样责怪过自然:我为何没有长处、天赋、机智或美丽以及诸如此类的东西。

事实是,自然总是将天赋公平地分配给人们,比人们通常认为的还要不偏不倚,很少过分地慷慨,也很少吝啬。人与人之间的巨大差异是由于教育和环境使然。文化修养改良了天赋,机遇环境诱发了天赋。我们并不怀疑在农田耕作,在柜台后营业,甚至在豪门贵族中间有很多潜在的培根们、洛克们、牛顿们、凯撒们、克伦威尔们和马尔伯勒们,如果允许我用“潜在的”这个学究味浓重的词的话;但是要使果实具有它全部的品质和风味,还必须有耕耘过的泥土,必须有适宜的季节。

倘若有时候大自然有那么一点偏心,没有将天平摆正;倘若有一头过多地往下沉,我们就会在轻的一头投上一枚大小适当的虚荣的砝码,它每次都会将天平重新调平,从不出差错。因此就出现了这种情况:几乎没有人会毫无保留地和另一个人里里外外全部对换一下。

虽然对于自然的分配,人人都感到满意;然而肯听听她的忠告的人却是如此之少!能将她当作向导而跟随其后的人又是如此之少!她徒然地为我们指出一条通向真理的笔直的坦途;而虚荣、幻想、矫情、时髦却俨然以她的面貌出现,暗中将我们引向虚幻的歧途,走向愚笨和谬误。

这些背离自然的举动往往伴随着严重的,而且总是荒唐可笑的后果;因为没有什么比这样一个老生常谈更加真实:“人们显得荒唐可笑,决不是因为表现出真实的自我,而是因为装扮出并非自我的模样。”矫情是造成荒唐可笑的唯一原因,同时也是荒唐可笑唯一无可非议的对象。不论什么人,不管他的托词是什么,都不可能拥有一种与生俱来的使自己的变得荒唐的权利;这种权利是后天的,是不经过努力无法获得的,也许这就是为什么这么多人对这种权利如此嫉妒,如此抓住不放的原因。甚至有些有身上的弱点并不是他们自身所固有的,而是伪装出来,或是从别人那儿借来的,当时也不使他们感到愉快,只是为了在时髦的上流社会里光彩照人。因为在这类上流社会里,某些弱点倒是颇能流光溢彩呢。在这些情况中,矫情的伪装正如意图的荒诞一样,通常显得十分笨拙,而且荒唐与过失是不相上下的。

这使我想起了一件发生在不久以前的事。一个有些地位和财富的年轻人,刚刚从大学校门解放出来,为了在世上崭露头角,决定将自己的装扮成那种被他称作浪荡子的角色。他常常出入戏院,在戏院里经常喝醉,吵闹不休,以此来获取他所要从事的那一行当的基本知识。一天晚上,在观看一出荒诞不经的戏《毁灭的浪荡子》时,他被剧中主人公荒淫无度的举止深深吸引,便对那些前来接受教化的观众屡屡发誓说他要成为那个毁灭的浪荡子。一位坐在他身旁的言行谨慎的朋友好心地对他说,做一个浪荡子固然是个值得称赞的主意,对此他也大为赞许;但是做一个毁灭的浪荡子却未免过于轻率,在他看来大可不必。然而此人执意不改初衷,坚持要做一个浪荡子,一个毁灭的浪荡子。也许他确实毁灭了,至少根据推理,他是应该毁灭的。这故事使我相信,有那么多不同情况的自然,因此就我本人而言,在未来的二十年里我不想在改变自己的行为举止方面迈出更大的一步,而只是希望人们拥有仅仅属于他们自己的弱点。

一个佯作智慧的笨人,因为自然赋予他愚钝滞笨的本性,所以他那从别处借来的性格只会使他显得荒唐可笑;然而倘若他不为人注意地滞留在自己土生土长的泥淖里,或者全神贯注地做些事情,拣拣贝壳,学习学习纹章学或逻辑学,或许反倒会有所获益。一个兴致勃勃的花花公子把目标瞄准一切,而且什么都想到手,因为自然赋予他活泼伶俐的气质。那构成他性格的必不可少的才华和勇敢精神,若是运用得恰到好处,或许会使他在一生的许多方面成就为有用人才;但是他的矫作和傲慢却使他在很多场合一无用处,在一切场合都显得荒唐可笑。

一位年逾七旬的可爱的绅士,也许由于他漫长的人生经历和处世阅历而在他的家庭生活中受到人们的敬重,在他这样的年纪,人自然会向他指出:要是他依旧沉浸于他那已经霉烂的昔日骑士风度的故事里,他将显得可笑之至。他还像二十五岁时那样精心打扮着自己,做出惹人怜爱的感伤神态,不时向人们飞着媚眼;谦逊地向人暗示他的运气不错,而这好运气最后竟是他长期供养的一个妓女,他娶了这妓女,因为这可怜的女孩子对他如此钟情,而且又如此迫切地希望自己成为一个诚实的好女子。

一位年过六十的寡妇依然记得自己的曾经长得十分标致,却忘了那已是三十年前的容颜,以为自己今日仍然丰姿未减,至少容貌依旧。她年轻时貌美时尚可原谅的矫揉造作此刻不可原谅地继续下去,而且与日俱增,为的是以加倍的矫情来掩盖自己的岁数。她身上所有那些闪闪发光的艳俗的服饰,即使在她如花的岁月也只能损她的美丽,而不能为她增添丝毫光彩,到了今天则更是暴露了她那干瘪或过分臃肿的身躯,使之变得无与伦比的而且是理所当然的荒唐可笑。她在那些珠宝、刺绣饰品和提花织锦的重负之下或是步履蹒跚,或是大汗淋漓。这些饰品很像埃及的象形文字,其作用仅仅是用来鉴定它所装饰的那具令人敬畏的木乃伊是一件货真价实的古代珍品而已。她那失去光泽的眼睛依然闪着肮脏的温情,或暗送秋波:它们所要表达的语言,不管如何缺少风雅,却是明明白白的,那个拿半薪的上尉军官是懂得个中意味的。他对她的虚荣心说了一套自己的盟誓,这盟誓的真诚使她深信不疑。她对他满怀爱怜之情,喜欢他竟胜过名誉、体面和所有的社会责任。至于他,虽然不无犹豫,还是情意绵绵地表示喜欢她胜过蹲监狱。

控制在适当范围内的自爱,是一种自然的也是有益的感情。而且事实上,它也是一种对于社会的爱,正如蒲柏先生非常正确地论述过的那样:它是许多良好行为的源泉,而不是荒唐行为的诱因。但是自吹自擂却只是对于自爱的一种夸张的、漫画式的模仿。要说与自爱有何相似之处,只是它更加突出其荒唐可笑而已。和其他奉承一样,它赠予时最慷慨,接受时最贪婪,同时却最名不符实。下面我将用足智多谋的德•拉莫特先生的寓言来结束这个话题,之寓言看来对这话题倒颇相宜。

说是朱庇特在天上搞了个摇奖抽彩的活动,不论神祇还是凡人都可以买彩票,奖品是智慧。于是智慧女神密涅瓦得了头奖。凡人仒嘀咕了起来,责怪天上的神祇营私舞弊。为了平息诽谤,朱庇特宣布搞一种神祇不能参加、专为凡人举办的摇奖抽彩。奖品是愚笨。凡人们中奖之后便在他们中间分享起来。结果人人心满意足。再也没有人对失去智慧感到后悔,甚至根本没有人还记得此事。愚笨取代了智慧的位置,那些分得最多的愚笨的人便自以为是最聪明的人了。

(汪义群 译)



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