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塞缪尔·约翰逊致切斯特菲尔德拍爵信(编译)

(2009-01-02 09:15:05)
标签:

文化

翻译

书信

名人

塞缪尔·约翰逊

samuel

johnson

分类: 旅摄文艺范

在18世纪的英国,文人想要出名,特别是年轻人要在文坛上崭露头角,除了需要有过人的才华外,还必须有达官贵人的庇护、提携和援引。英国18世纪的文坛泰斗塞缪尔·约翰逊在尚未登龙之时,只是一个穷儒。他经济拮据,生活贫苦,长期在贫困和饥饿中挣扎。约翰生于1747年拟就了一个编纂英语词典的计划,出于当时的境地,约翰生亦未能免俗,希望能找一两个“恩主”、“提携人”援引一下。因为只要一经名人品题,就可以身价百倍。当时,切斯特菲尔德拍爵是英国文坛、政界的一个显赫人物,他是贵族、政客,又是知名作家。于是塞缪尔·约翰逊把这个计划送呈切斯特菲尔德,希望能得到伯爵的赞许和资助。不料,伯爵对该计划毫无兴趣,没有答复约翰生的请求,甚至连约翰生几次拜谒求见也被挡在门外。以后,约翰生又在公共场合多次向伯爵致意、恭维,希望能引起伯爵的注意,然而也毫无效果,屡遭冷遇。
    塞缪尔·约翰逊万般无奈,愤然自力奋斗。他单枪匹马,孤军作战,历时七载,终于编成了历史上第一部英语词典。但就在词典即将出版之际,切斯特菲尔德忽然在当时颇有影响、销路甚广的报纸《世界》上发表了两篇评论文章,对塞缪尔·约翰逊的词典极为赞扬,甚至捧上了天。切斯特菲尔德这样做,无非是以塞缪尔·约翰逊的提携人自居,使人们认为是他赞助了塞缪尔·约翰逊的工作,从而分享塞缪尔·约翰逊的荣誉。
    塞缪尔·约翰逊得知后,立即挥笔回书,毫不含糊地否认切斯特菲尔德或其他任何人是自己的“提携人”,不客气地介绍了事情的经过,冷嘲热讽地讥笑切斯特菲尔德这个事后“恩主”。
    塞缪尔·约翰逊的这封信言辞激烈,痛快淋漓,笔触所到之处,满目珠玑,长期以来倍受各家推崇,是英国文学中脍炙人口的传世之作,是书信和散文的范文名篇。就连切斯特菲尔德伯爵本人读过后,也盛赞文章语言简练流畅,对仗工整,文风雄健有力,并对旁人称赞约翰生“此人具有伟大的才能”。
下面是书信的全文译文:


伯爵大人:
《世界》报社的老板于不久前通知我,爵爷您写了两篇文章,向公众推荐我所编写的词典。受到这样的推崇的确是一种荣幸,可是我对于大人物的垂青很不习惯,不知道该如何去接受,或如何措辞来表示感激。
想当初,我也与其他人一样,为您那非凡的谈吐所倾倒。当我鼓起我可怜的勇气第一次登门拜谒爵爷您时,我也抑制不住希冀能夸耀自己是“征服了征服世界的人”,从而得到这个我已经看透了的世界的承认。然而,我发现我的希望日趋渺茫,以至最后自惭形秽之心不允许我再事强求。当我在公众面前向爵爷您致意时,我已经竭尽了一个与世无争、不善逢迎的读书人所有的讨好手段,我做了我所能做的一切。不管是如何的微不足道,没有人会高兴自己所做的一切都被忽视。
自从多次地被冷落在您的门厅里,斥退于您的大门前,我的爵爷,整整7年过去了。在这7年的时间里,我历尽艰难,发愤工作;其中甘苦,向谁诉说?现在,词典行将出版,而我,从未受到过一次资助的行动,或一句鼓励的言辞,或一丝赞赏的微笑。这种待遇殊非始料所及,只因为我从未有过提携人。
罗马诗人魏吉尔的牧童终于长大了,需要爱神的帮助,却发现爱神竟是个岩石般冷酷的野人。
试问我的爵爷:一个提携人岂能坐视行将溺死之人挣扎于水中而无动于衷,反而在此人已经到达彼岸时却多余地伸出援助之手?您居然高兴地注意起我的工作来了,但假若您给予我工作的注意来得早些,那么这种注意就是善意的;可惜您的注意直到我现在已无所谓时,才姗姗来迟,我担当不起。我已孑然一身,无法与人共享荣誉;我已名成业就,不需任何关照提携。我希望我这样做并不算愤世嫉俗、严厉苛求,不过既然我没有受过任何恩惠,也就没有必要让公众猜想此事应归功于哪一位“提携人”。是上帝的旨意让我自己完成了工作。
我在绝少得到任何学术奖励恩惠的情况下,已经把工作进行到了现在的地步,哪怕以后的资助更少——假如还能更少的话——我不会感到失望而影响工作的完成。因为我从一枕黄梁之中觉醒已久,而在那个梦里,我曾一度得意地夸耀自己是——
爵爷您最卑顺的仆人
塞缪尔·约翰逊
1755年2月7日

 

附:塞缪尔·约翰生致切斯特菲尔德拍爵英文书信原文

 

Samuel Johnson's letter to Lord Chesterfield
 
To The Right Honourable The Earl Of Chesterfield
7th February, 1755.
 
My Lord,
 
I have been lately informed, by the proprietor ofThe World, that two papers, in which my Dictionary is recommended to the public, were written by your lordship. To be so distinguished is an honour which, being very little accustomed to favours from the great, I know not well how to receive, or in what terms to acknowledge.

When, upon some slight encouragement, I first visited your lordship, I was overpowered, like the rest of mankind, by the enchantment of your address, and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myselfLe vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre;—that I might obtain that regard for which I saw the world contending; but I found my attendance so little encouraged, that neither pride nor modesty would suffer me to continue it. When I had once addressed your Lordship in public, I had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and uncourtly scholar can possess. I had done all that I could; and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.

Seven years, my lord, have now passed, since I waited in your outward rooms, or was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been pushing on my work through difficulties, of which it is useless to complain, and have brought it, at last, to the verge of publication, without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one smile of favour. Such treatment I did not expect, for I never had a patron before.

The shepherd in Virgil grew at last acquainted with Love, and found him a native of the rocks.

Is not a patrons my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help?The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it: till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it.I hope it is no very cynical asperity not to confess obligations where no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the public should consider me as owing that to a patron, which providence has enabled me to do for myself.

Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to any favourer of learning, I shall not be disappointed though I should conclude it, if less be possible, with less; for I have been long wakened from that dream of hope, in which I once boasted myself with so much exultation, My Lord,
Your lordship's most humble,
most obedient servant,

SAM. JOHNSON

注:

本文这文章背景根据历史资料编译,书信内容原文翻译。

本文已发表于 读者文摘

 

偶然发现被转载了,还居然如此神速,笔误也照搬,佩服。

http://brand.hjenglish.com/86/content/11354/

 

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