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笔译素材:西敏寺内的遐想--约瑟夫`艾迪生

2015-12-24    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Thoughts in Westminster Abbey

By Joseph Addison
 
约瑟夫·艾迪生:英国散文家、诗人、辉格党政治家。曾在牛津大学求学和任教,并去欧洲大陆旅行多年。担任过南部事务部次官、下院议员、爱尔兰总督沃顿伯爵的秘书等职。与斯梯尔合办《闲话报》(1710)和《旁观者》(1711)等刊物。为英国散文大师之一。写有诗篇《远征》、悲剧《卡托》以及文学评论文章等。
 
When I am in a serious humour, I very often walk by myself in Westminster Abbey, where the gloominess of the place, and the use to which it is applied, with the solemnity of the building, and the condition of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a kind of melancholy, or rather thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable. I yesterday passed a whole afternoon in the churchyard, the cloisters, and the church, amusing myself with the tombstones and inscriptions that I met with in those several regions of the dead. Most of them recorded nothing else of the buried person, but that he was born upon one day, and died upon another: the whole history of his life being comprehended in those two circumstances, that are common to all mankind. I could not but look upon these registers of existence, whether of brass or marble, as a kind of satire upon the departed persons; who had left no other memorial of them, but that they were born and that they died. They put me in mind of several persons mentioned in the battles of heroic poems, who have sounding names given them, for no other reason but that they may be killed, and are celebrated for nothing but being knocked on the head. The life of these men is finely described in Holy Writ by “the path of an arrow,” which is immediately closed up and lost.
 
Upon my going into the church, I entertained myself with the digging of a grave; and saw in every shovelful of it that was thrown up, the fragment of a bone or skull intermixt with a kind of fresh mouldering earth, that some time or other had a place in the composition of a human body. Upon this, I began to consider with myself what innumerable multitudes of people lay confused together under the pavement of that ancient cathedral; how men and women, friends and enemies, priests and soldiers, monks and prebendaries, were crumbled amongst one another, and blended together in the same common mass; how beauty, strength, and youth, with old age, weakness and deformity, lay undistinguished in the same promiscuous heap of matter.
 
After having thus surveyed this great magazine of mortality, as it were, in the lump; I examined it more particularly by the accounts which I found on several of the monuments which are raised in every quarter of that ancient fabric. Some of them were covered with such extravagant epitaphs, that, if it were possible for the dead person to be acquainted with them, he would blush at the praises which his friends have bestowed upon him. There are others so excessively modest, that they deliver the character of the person departed in Greek or Hebrew, and by that means are not understood once in a twelve month. In the poetical quarter, I found there were poets who had no monuments, and monuments which had no poets. I observed indeed that the present war had filled the church with many of these uninhabited monuments, which had been erected to the memory of persons whose bodies were perhaps buried in the plains of Blenheim, or in the bosom of the ocean.
 
I could not but be very much delighted with several modern epitaphs, which are written with great elegance of expression and justness of thought, and therefore do honour to the living as well as to the dead. As a foreigner is very apt to conceive an idea of the ignorance or politeness of a nation, from the turn of their public monuments and inscriptions, they should be submitted to the perusal of men of learning and genius, before they are put in execution. Sir Cloudesly Shovel’s monument has very often given me great offence: instead of the brave rough English Admiral, which was the distinguishing character of that plain gallant man, he is represented on his tomb by the figure of a beau, dressed in a long periwig, and reposing himself upon velvet cushions under a canopy of state. The inscription is answerable to the monument; for instead of celebrating the many remarkable actions he had performed in the service of his country, it acquaints us only with the manner of his death, in which it was impossible for him to reap any honour. The Dutch, whom we are apt to despise for want of genius, show an infinitely greater taste of antiquity and politeness in their buildings and works of this nature, than what we meet with in those of our own country. The monuments of their admirals, which have been erected at the public expense, represent them like themselves; and are adorned with rostral crowns and naval ornaments, with beautiful festoons of seaweed, shells, and coral.
 
But to return to our subject. I have left the repository of our English kings for the contemplation of another day, when I shall find my mind disposed for so serious an amusement. I know that entertainments of this nature are apt to raise dark and dismal thoughts in timorous minds, and gloomy imaginations; but for my own part, though I am always serious, I do not know what it is to be melancholy; and can therefore take a view of nature in her deep and solemn scenes, with the same pleasure as in her most gay and delightful ones. By this means I can improve myself with those objects, which others consider with terror. When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tombstone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tomb of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow; when I see kings lying by those who deposed them, when I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contests and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions and debates of mankind. When I read the several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our appearance together.
 
西敏寺内的遐想
约瑟夫·艾迪生
王义国 译
心情不佳的时候,我是非常经常地独自走在西敏寺里,因为那里的地方之阴暗,以及对阴暗的应用,加上建筑之庄严,以及长眠于此的人们的状况,都易于让头脑充满一种忧郁,更确切地说是充满一种并非令人不快的沉思。昨天,我整个下午都是在教堂墓地、教堂的回廊以及礼拜堂里度过的,用我在死者的那几个地区碰到的墓碑和碑文打发时光。大多数碑文只记录了坟墓中的人生于何日,死于何日:他的人生的整个历史在那两种情况中得到理解,而那两种情况又为所有的人类所共有。我禁不住把对生存的这些注册,看作是对逝者的嘲讽,不管那是用黄铜还是大理石注册下来的,因为除了出生和死去之外,有关他们这些注册并没有留下任何难忘的东西。他们让我想起了在史诗的战斗中提到的几个人,他们拥有人民所给予他们的显赫的名字,这又只是因为他们可能会被杀死,而他们之所以受到歌颂,又只是因为他们的头遭到了打击。这些人的生命,在圣经中被“箭矢的道路”一语精彩地描述了出来,箭矢一飞过去,它在空气中形成的道路也就立即合拢起来,消失了。
 
一走进教堂,我便饶有兴味地观看人们挖坟墓;我看到, 每挖出一铁锨,都有骨头或者头颅的碎片与一种新的腐土混杂在一起,而曾几何时,这碎片曾在人体的构成中占据着一个位置。此情此景令我自忖,在这座古老的大教堂的路面底下,不知混乱地埋葬着多少人啊!男人和女人、朋友和敌人、教士和士兵、修道士和受俸牧师,在彼此当中被压碎了,混合成了同一堆东西;而在同一堆混杂的物质里面,美丽、力量和青春,与老年、体弱和残疾并无区别。
 
在这个古老建筑物的每一个地方都有墓碑竖立,可以说这是一本巨大的死亡杂志,我先是全都大略地看了一下,然后我又根据在几座墓碑上所发现的描述,更加仔细地予以审视。有些墓碑上面覆盖着这样夸张的墓志铭,倘若死者有知,他就会因为朋友们给予他的溢美之词而脸红。还有一些墓志铭又过分地谦虚,因为它们是用希腊文或者希伯来文描述死者的性格,而这样一来,也就一年之内不会有一次被人们所读懂。在诗人角,我发现有些诗人没有墓碑,而有些墓碑的墓主又不是诗人。我确实注意到,当前的这场战争让这座教堂充满了许多这些无主的墓碑,这些墓碑被竖立起来,是为了纪念那些其尸体也许是被埋葬在布莱尼姆平原,或者被埋葬在大海里面的人们。
 
我不能不为几篇现代墓志铭感到高兴,它们表达非常高雅,思想非常公正,因而也就既对死者表示了敬意,也对生者表示了敬意。由于外国人往往会根据公开的墓碑和碑文的特色来形成对一个国家是无知还是文雅的一个概念,因而在墓碑和碑文做成之前,应该提交给有学问和有天才的人来仔细推敲。克劳兹利·肖维尔爵士的墓碑经常令我非常反感:在他的墓碑上,他不是被展现为那位勇敢彪悍的英国海军上将,这是那位朴素而又勇武的人的特色,而是被展现为一个花花公子的形象,戴着长长的假发,在华丽的罩棚的下面,倚在天鹅绒的靠垫上歇息。碑文与墓碑相称;因为碑文不是赞颂他在祖国服务中所作出的许多引人注目的业绩,而只是使我们了解他的死亡方式,而在他的死亡方式当中他是不可能获得任何荣誉的。我们一向瞧不起荷兰人,认为他们缺少天才,然而在这种性质的建筑和作品中他们所表现出来的古色古香和文雅的趣味,比在我们自己的国家里的那些建筑和作品中所表现的,要多得多。他们的海军上将的墓碑是用公众的钱建起来的,栩栩如生地再现了他们的英姿:头顶军帽,身披战袍,配挂着用水草、贝壳和珊瑚扎成的美丽垂饰。
 
不过还是言归正传吧。英国历代国王的墓地,我打算留待日后再仔细予以考虑。我知道,这种性质的消遣往往会使那些头脑畏怯、想象阴郁的人民产生黑暗而又沮丧的念头;但就我本人而言,尽管我始终是严肃的,我却不知道忧郁为何物;因而我能够持有一种顺其自然的观点,以对待大自然的最快乐最令人高兴的场景的那种愉快心情,来对待大自然的深刻而又庄严肃穆的场景。这样一来,我也就能够用别的人带着恐惧来考虑的那些对象,来改进自己。当我看着这些伟人的坟墓的时候,每一种嫉妒的情感都在我的身上死去了,当我读着美人的墓志铭的时候,每一种超出合理限度的欲望都熄灭了;当我在墓碑上读到父母亲的伤悲的时候,我的心被同情所融化;当我看到父母本人的坟墓的时候,又觉得这种悲伤是虚幻的,因为我们都会步其后尘;我看到国王们与他们的废黜者们躺在一起,当我想到势不两立的才子们并列排在一起,或者那些用其竞争和争端而分裂了世界的圣人们,我就带着悲伤和惊讶反思人类的那些微不足道的竞争、倾轧和争论。我读到这些坟墓上的几个日期,有些人死于昨天,有些人死于六百年前,这时我想到,当我们所有的人都成为同时代的人,并在一起出现的时候,那将是一个多么伟大的日子啊。
(原文及译文选自杨自伍编《英国散文名篇欣赏》(英汉对照) ,上海外语教育出版社,1995。)


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