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Joseph Addison - On the Cries of London 汉译

2014-06-17    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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On the Cries of London

Joseph Addison

There is nothing which more astonishes a foreigner, and frights a country squire, than the Cries of London. My good friend Sir Roger often declares that he cannot get them out of his head or go to sleep for them, the first week that he is in town. On the contrary, Will Honeycomb calls them the Ramage de la Ville, and prefers them to the sound of larks and nightingales, with all the music of fields and woods. I have lately received a letter from some very odd fellow upon this subject, which I shall leave with my reader, without saying anything further of it.

‘SIR,

‘I am a man out of all business, and would willingly turn my head to anything for an honest livelihood. I have invented several projects for raising many millions of money without burdening the subject, but I cannot get the parliament to listen to me, who look upon me, forsooth, as a crack, and a projector; so that despairing to enrich either myself or my country by this public-spiritedness, I would make some proposals to you relating to a design which I have very much at heart, and which may procure me a handsome subsistence, if you will be pleased to recommend it to the cities of London and Westminster.

‘The post I would aim at, is to be comptroller-general of the London Cries, which are at present under no manner of rules or discipline. I think I am pretty well qualified for this place, as being a man of very strong lungs, of great insight into all the branches of our British trades and manufactures, and of a competent skill in music.

‘The Cries of London may be divided into vocal and instrumental. As for the latter, they are at present under a very great disorder. A fireman of London has the privilege of disturbing a whole street for an hour together, with a twanking of a brass kettle or frying-pan. The watchman’s thump at midnight startles us in our beds as much as the breaking in of a thief. The sowgelder’s horn has indeed something musical in it, but this is seldom heard within the liberties. I would therefore propose, that no instrument of this nature should be made use of, which I have not tuned and licensed, after having carefully examined in what manner it may affect the ears of her majesty’s liege subjects.

‘Vocal cries are of a much larger extent, and indeed so full of incongruities and barbarisms, that we appear a distracted city to foreigners, who do not comprehend the meaning of such enormous outcries. Milk is generally sold in a note above E-la, and in sounds so exceedingly shrill, that it often sets our teeth on edge. The chimneysweeper is confined to no certain pitch; he sometimes utters himself in the deepest bass, and sometimes in the sharpest treble; sometimes in the highest, and sometimes in the lowest, note of the gamut. The same observation might be made on the retailers of small-coal, not to mention broken glasses, or brick-dust. In these, therefore, and the like cases, it should be my care to sweeten and mellow the voices of these itinerant tradesmen, before they make their appearance in our streets, as also to accommodate their cries to their respective wares; and to take care in particular, that those may not make the most noise who have the least to sell, which is very observable in the vendors of card-matches, to whom I cannot but apply that old proverb of “Much cry, but little wool”.

‘Some of these last-mentioned musicians are so very loud in the sale of these trifling manufactures, that an honest splenetic gentleman of my acquaintance bargained with one of them never to come into the street where he lived. But what was the effect of this contract? Why, the whole tribe of card-match-makers which frequent that quarter passed by his door the very next day, in hopes of being bought off after the same manner.

‘It is another great imperfection in our London Cries, that there is no just time nor measure observed in them. Our news should indeed be published in a very quick time, because it is a commodity that will not keep cold. It should not, however, be cried with the same precipitation as fire. Yet this is generally the case. A bloody battle alarms the town from one end to another in an instant. Every motion of the French is published in so great a hurry, that one would think the enemy were at our gates. This likewise I would take upon me to regulate in such a manner, that there should be some distinction made between the spreading of a victory, a march, or an encampment, a Dutch, a Portugal, or a Spanish mail. Nor must I omit under this head those excessive alarms with which several boisterous rustics infest our streets in turnip season; and which are more inexcusable, because they are wares which are in no danger of cooling upon their hands.

‘There are others who affect a very slow time, and are in my opinion much more tunable than the former. The cooper in particular swells his last note in a hollow voice, that is not without its harmony; nor can I forbear being inspired with a most agreeable melancholy, when I hear that sad and solemn air with which the public are very often asked if they have any chairs to mend? Your own memory may suggest to you many other lamentable ditties of the same nature, in which the music is wonderfully languishing and melodious.

‘I am always pleased with that particular time of the year which is proper for the picking of dill and cucumbers; but alas! This cry, like the song of the nightingale, is not heard above two months. It would therefore be worthwhile to consider whether the same air might not in some cases be adapted to other words.

‘It might likewise deserve our most serious considerations, how far, in a well-regulated city, those humourists are to be tolerated, who, not contented with the traditional cries of their forefathers, have invented particular songs and tunes of their own: such as was, not many years since, the pastry-man, commonly known by the name of the Colly-Molly-Puff; and such as is at this day the vendor of powder and wash-balls, who, if I am rightly informed, goes under the name of Powder-Wat.

‘I must not here omit one particular absurdity which runs through this whole vociferous generation, and which renders their cries very often not only incommodious, but altogether useless to the public. I mean that idle accomplishment which they all of them aim at, of crying so as not to be understood. Whether or no they have learned this from several of our affected singers, I will not take upon me to say; but most certain it is, that people know the wares they deal in rather by their tunes than by their words; insomuch that I have sometimes seen a country boy run out to buy apples of a bellows-mender, and ginger-bread from a grinder of knives and scissors. Nay, so strangely infatuated are some very eminent artists of this particular grace in a cry, that none but their acquaintance are able to guess at their profession; for who else can know, that  “work if I had it” should be the signification of a corn-cutter?

‘Forasmuch, therefore, as persons of this rank are seldom men of genius or capacity I think it would be very proper that some men of good sense and sound judgement should preside over these public cries, who should permit none to lift up their voices in our streets that have not tunable throats, and are not only able to overcome the noise of the crowd, and the rattling of coaches, but also to vend their respective merchandises in apt phrases, and in the most distinct and agreeable sounds. I do therefore humbly recommend myself as a person rightly qualified for this post; and if I meet with fitting encouragement, shall communicate some other projects which I have by me, that may no less conduce to the emolument of the public.

‘I am, Sir, &c.’

RALPH CROTCHET.’


伦敦的叫卖声

初来乍到的外国人或者外地乡绅,最感到吃惊的莫过于伦敦的叫卖声了。我那位好朋友罗杰爵士常说,他刚到京城第一周里,脑子里装的全是这些声音,挥之不去,简直连觉都睡不成。相反,威尔•亨尼康却把这些声音称为“鸟喧华枝”,说是这比什么云雀、夜莺连同田野、树林里的天籁加在一起还要好听呢。最近,我接到一位怪客来信,谈到这个问题。这封信,我不加任何按语,发表出来,请读者自己去看。

“先生:

“我是一个没有职业的人,只要能让我正正派派活下去,什么事情我都愿意去做。我制订种种方案,实行起来可以叫人轻轻松松发财数百万之巨,可惜议院不肯听听我的意见——他们不是以为我疯了,就是把我当作骗子。现在,我这一心造福大众、既能利己、又能富国的事业既已落空,愿就个人潜心探讨的另一计划,向贵报略陈鄙见。此项计划,若蒙贵报向伦敦及威斯敏斯特二市当局惠予推荐,本人说不定还可以找到一个体面的职业。

“鉴于叫卖之声目前处于一种无章可循的状态,我想来谋求伦敦市声总监一职。这个职位,我自认为还是满能胜任的,因为我本人嗓门很高,对于我们英国工商各业又了如指掌,而且还精通音乐。

“伦敦的市声可以分为声乐、器乐两大类。后一类现在特别杂乱无章。在伦敦,救火员是有特权的人物,他可以敲打着一只铜壶、或者一口煎锅,接连一个钟头不停,把整整一条街的人全都惊动起来。更夫半夜敲梆,把我们从梦中惊醒,好像屋子里突然闯进了一个贼。阉猪匠的号角声倒还有点悦耳,可惜在市区里难得听见。因此,我想建议:此类发声器具必先经过仔细检验,测定它对于女王陛下忠实臣民的耳鼓究竟产生何种影响,然后又敝人将其音量加以调整,逐一批准,否则,不得擅自使用。

“口头的叫卖声包括的范围则要广泛得多,而且又是那样聒聒躁躁,野调无腔。外国人听不懂这许多嚎叫到底是什么意思,说不定以为我们全城的人都发了疯。卖牛奶的人所采用的音调一般都在E调la以上,声音又特别尖细,听起来碜得我牙痒痒地。扫烟囱的人音调不受什么固定限制,有时候用最深沉的低音,有时候又用最尖锐的高音来吐露自己的心意,在全音阶中从最高音到最低音都可以。同样的评语也适用于那些卖煤末的、更适用于卖碎玻璃和砖渣的小贩。对于这些以及其他类似的行当,我职责所在,理应加以调整,先要使得这些流动商贩的叫卖声柔和、悦耳,方才准许他们在街头出现,还要使得他们的叫卖声适应各自的货物,特别要防止的是卖的东西最少、喊的声音最凶的人——这在卖纸片火柴的小贩那里是最明显不过了,对于他们,我只好照搬一句老话:‘声音很大,货色可怜。’

“上面说的那些卖纸片火柴的音乐家们,为了兜售他们那些微不足道的商品,有时候吆喝的声音实在太大了。我认识的一位患有脾脏病的老好先生,只好掏腰包请他们当中的某一位再也不要到他住的那条街上来了。可是,这笔交易结果怎样?第二天,那一带所有的纸片火柴贩子一个接一个到他门口叫卖,指望那位先生以同样方式拿钱出来把他们支走。

“我们伦敦的叫卖声还有一个大毛病,就是吆喝起来不顾时间,也不讲分寸。譬如说,新闻自应以快速公布为是,因为这种商品是经不起久放的。但是,卖报的时候也不必那样风是风火是火,跟闹了火灾似的。然而,这却是通常现象。一眨眼功夫,一场血战的消息就从伦敦这一头吆喝到那一头,弄得全城轰动。法国人有一点点动向,总是急匆匆登出来,让人觉得好像已经兵临城下似的。此种弊端,本人自当负责予以适当纠正。在卖报声中,对于胜利消息、行军消息、野营消息,以及荷兰、葡萄牙和西班牙各国邮件中所传来的消息,务必有所区别。在这一方面,我还必须指出:每当萝卜上市,总有许多乡下人大吵大嚷,沿街叫卖,满城为之骚然,实属不可原谅,因为萝卜这种商品即使在卖方手里放一放,并没有放凉的危险。

“另外有些商贩埃拉长腔,在我看来,这比前面说的那些叫卖声要更有韵味。特别是箍桶匠爱用闷声,送出他那最后的尾音,不失为具有和谐动人之处。修理匠常用他那悲怆、庄严的语调向居民们发问:‘有修理椅子的没有?’我每当听见,总禁不住感到有一种忧郁情调沁人心脾。——这时,你的记忆会联想出许许多多类似的哀歌,他们那曲调都是缠绵无力、哀婉动人的。
“每年,到了该摘黄瓜,收莳萝的季节,那叫卖声让我听了格外高兴。可惜,这种叫卖像夜莺的歌唱似的,让人听不上两个月就停了。因此,倒是值得考虑一下,是不是在其他场合把这个调调儿再配上别的什么词儿。

“还有些人——譬如说,不几年以前大家叫做‘松软——可口——蓬蓬酥’的卖点心小贩,以及现在(如果我没有弄错的话)统称为‘香粉沃特’的脂粉货郎,不以他们祖祖辈辈流传下来的叫卖声为满足,还特别编出自己的歌曲来,以吟唱代替叫卖。在一个管理完善的城市里,对于这些市廛奇人究竟应该宽容到何等程度,也值得我们认真考虑。

“在这些高声叫卖之徒当中还普遍流行一种荒唐行径,对此我不能放过不提,因为那使得他们的叫嚷不仅嘈杂不堪,而且也与公众无益。我指的是他们在叫卖是拼命不让人听懂的那种无补实际的本领。在这方面,他们究竟是不是在向我们那些装腔作势的歌唱家学习,我且不去说它。但是,有一点可以肯定:市民判断他们卖的什么货色,并不是根据他们叫喊的词儿,而是听他们叫喊的调调儿。有时候,我看见一个从乡下来的孩子跑出来,向风箱修理匠买苹果,向磨剪刀师傅买姜面包,这就可见一斑。有些高级花腔叫卖家对于这门艺术钻研到了如此入迷的地步,结果,除了他们自己的熟人,谁也猜不出他们干得到底是哪一行。譬如说,谁能想到,修脚工喊的词儿竟是:‘给活儿就干哪!’

“准此,既然在这个阶层里天才能人甚少,一切公共叫卖之声应该统归明理善断之士主管,嗓音不美者不得在街头大喊大叫,叫卖声不仅要压倒人声喧哗、车声轧轧,而且要使用恰当词句将各自贩卖的货色加以说明,发音也要清晰、悦耳。我谦卑地把自己推荐出来,担此重任。倘蒙奖掖,本人还有其他方案,也将一一献出,以惠公益。

“余不一一。

狂想客谨白。”



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