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curate/['kjuərit]/ n. 助理牧师...

第五卷苦难的妙用 第04章马白夫先生

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CHAPTER IV M. MABEUF


On the day when M. Mabeuf said to Marius: "Certainly I approve of political opinions," he expressed the real state of his mind. All political opinions were matters of indifference to him, and he approved them all, without distinction, provided they left him in peace, as the Greeks called the Furies "the beautiful, the good, the charming," the Eumenides. M. Mabeuf's political opinion consisted in a passionate love for plants, and, above all, for books. Like all the rest of the world, he possessed the termination in ist, without which no one could exist at that time, but he was neither a Royalist, a Bonapartist, a Chartist, an Orleanist, nor an Anarchist; he was a bouquinist, a collector of old books. He did not understand how men couldb@ !! !l?瘃? ?瘃@ the charter, democracy, legitimacy, monarchy, the republic, etc., when there were in the world all sorts of mosses, grasses, and shrubs which they might be looking at, and heaps of folios, and even of 32mos, which they might turn over. He took good care not to become useless; having books did not prevent his reading, being a botanist did not prevent his being a gardener. When he made Pontmercy's acquaintance, this sympathy had existed between the colonel and himself--that what the colonel did for flowers, he did for fruits. M. Mabeuf had succeeded in producing seedling pears as savory as the pears of St. Germain; it is from one of his combinations, apparently, that the October Mirabelle, now celebrated and no less perfumed than the summer Mirabelle, owes its origin. He went to mass rather from gentleness than from piety, and because, as he loved the faces of men, but hated their noise, he found them assembled and silent only in church. Feeling that he must be something in the State, he had chosen the career of warden. However, he had never succeeded in loving any woman as much as a tulip bulb, nor any man as much as an Elzevir. He had long passed sixty, when, one day, some one asked him: "Have you never been married?" "I have forgotten," said he. When it sometimes happened to him--and to whom does it not happen?-- to say: "Oh! if I were only rich!" it was not when ogling a pretty girl, as was the case with Father Gillenormand, but when contemplating an old book. He lived alone with an old housekeeper. He was somewhat gouty, and when he was asleep, his aged fingers, stiffened with rheumatism, lay crooked up in the folds of his sheets. He had composed and published a Flora of the Environs of Cauteretz, with colored plates, a work which enjoyed a tolerable measure of esteem and which sold well. People rang his bell, in the Rue Mesieres, two or three times a day, to ask for it. He drew as much as two thousand francs a year from it; this constituted nearly the whole of his fortune. Although poor, he had had the talent to form for himself, by dint of patience, privations, and time, a precious collection of rare copies of every sort. He never went out without a book under his arm, and he often returned with two. The sole decoration of the four rooms on the ground floor, which composed his lodgings, consisted of framed herbariums, and engravings of the old masters. The sight of a sword or a gun chilled his blood. He had never approached a cannon in his life, even at the Invalides. He had a passable stomach, a brother who was a cure, perfectly white hair, no teeth, either in his mouth or his mind, a trembling in every limb, a Picard accent, an infantile laugh, the air of an old sheep, and he was easily frightened. Add to this, that he had no other friendship, no other acquaintance among the living, than an old bookseller of the Porte-Saint-Jacques, named Royal. His dream was to naturalize indigo in France.

His servant was also a sort of innocent. The poor good old woman was a spinster. Sultan, her cat, which might have mewed Allegri's miserere in the Sixtine Chapel, had filled her heart and sufficed for the quantity of passion which existed in her. None of her dreams had ever proceeded as far as man. She had never been able to get further than her cat. Like him, she had a mustache. Her glory consisted in her caps, which were always white. She passed her time, on Sundays, after mass, in counting over the linen in her chest, and ine@ !! !l?瘃? 7笪6@ and never had made up. She knew how to read. M. Mabeuf had nicknamed her Mother Plutarque.

M. Mabeuf had taken a fancy to Marius, because Marius, being young and gentle, warmed his age without startling his timidity. Youth combined with gentleness produces on old people the effect of the sun without wind. When Marius was saturated with military glory, with gunpowder, with marches and countermarches, and with all those prodigious battles in which his father had given and received such tremendous blows of the sword, he went to see M. Mabeuf, and M. Mabeuf talked to him of his hero from the point of view of flowers.

His brother the cure died about 1830, and almost immediately, as when the night is drawing on, the whole horizon grew dark for M. Mabeuf. A notary's failure deprived him of the sum of ten thousand francs, which was all that he possessed in his brother's right and his own. The Revolution of July brought a crisis to publishing. In a period of embarrassment, the first thing which does not sell is a Flora. The Flora of the Environs of Cauteretz stopped short. Weeks passed by without a single purchaser. Sometimes M. Mabeuf started at the sound of the bell. "Monsieur," said Mother Plutarque sadly, "it is the water-carrier." In short, one day, M. Mabeuf quitted the Rue Mesieres, abdicated the functions of warden, gave up Saint-Sulpice, sold not a part of his books, but of his prints,-- that to which he was the least attached,--and installed himself in a little house on the Rue Montparnasse, where, however, he remained but one quarter for two reasons: in the first place, the ground floor and the garden cost three hundred francs, and he dared not spend more than two hundred francs on his rent; in the second, being near Faton's shooting-gallery, he could hear the pistol-shots; which was intolerable to him.

He carried off his Flora, his copper-plates, his herbariums, his portfolios, and his books, and established himself near the Salpetriere, in a sort of thatched cottage of the village of Austerlitz, where, for fifty crowns a year, he got three rooms and a garden enclosed by a hedge, and containing a well. He took advantage of this removal to sell off nearly all his furniture. On the day of his entrance into his new quarters, he was very gay, and drove the nails on which his engravings and herbariums were to hang, with his own hands, dug in his garden the rest of the day, and at night, perceiving that Mother Plutarque had a melancholy air, and was very thoughtful, he tapped her on the shoulder and said to her with a smile: "We have the indigo!"

Only two visitors, the bookseller of the Porte-Saint-Jacques and Marius, were admitted to view the thatched cottage at Austerlitz, a brawling name which was, to tell the truth, extremely disagreeable to him.

However, as we have just pointed out, brains which are absorbed in some bit of wisdom, or folly, or, as it often happens, in both at once, are but slowly accessible to the things of actual life. Their own destiny is a far-off thing to them. There results from such concentration a passivity, which, if it were the outcome of reasoning, would resemble philosophy. One declines, descends, trickles away, even crumbles away, and yet is hardly conscious of it one's self. It always ends, it is true, in an awakening, but the awakening is tah@ !! !l?瘃? 冢屙@in the game which is going on between our happiness and our unhappiness. We are the stake, and we look on at the game with indifference.

It is thus that, athwart the cloud which formed about him, when all his hopes were extinguished one after the other, M. Mabeuf remained rather puerilely, but profoundly serene. His habits of mind had the regular swing of a pendulum. Once mounted on an illusion, he went for a very long time, even after the illusion had disappeared. A clock does not stop short at the precise moment when the key is lost.

M. Mabeuf had his innocent pleasures. These pleasures were inexpensive and unexpected; the merest chance furnished them. One day, Mother Plutarque was reading a romance in one corner of the room. She was reading aloud, finding that she understood better thus. To read aloud is to assure one's self of what one is reading. There are people who read very loud, and who have the appearance of giving themselves their word of honor as to what they are perusing.

It was with this sort of energy that Mother Plutarque was reading the romance which she had in hand. M. Mabeuf heard her without listening to her.

In the course of her reading, Mother Plutarque came to this phrase. It was a question of an officer of dragoons and a beauty:--

"--The beauty pouted, and the dragoon--"

Here she interrupted herself to wipe her glasses.

"Bouddha and the Dragon," struck in M. Mabeuf in a low voice. "Yes, it is true that there was a dragon, which, from the depths of its cave, spouted flame through his maw and set the heavens on fire. Many stars had already been consumed by this monster, which, besides, had the claws of a tiger. Bouddha went into its den and succeeded in converting the dragon. That is a good book that you are reading, Mother Plutarque. There is no more beautiful legend in existence."

And M. Mabeuf fell into a delicious revery.



四 马白夫先生

那次,马白夫先生说“政治上的见解,我当然全都赞同”,当时他确实表达了自己真实的思想状况。任何政治见解对他来说全是无所谓的,他一概不加区别地表示赞同,只要这些见解能让他自由自在,正如希腊人可以称那些蛇发女神为“美女、善女、仙女、欧墨尼得斯①那样”。马白夫先生的政治见解是热爱花木,尤其热爱书籍。象大家一样也属于一个“派”,当时,无派的人是无法生存的,但是他既不是保王派,也不是波拿巴派,也不是宪章派,也不是奥尔良派,也不是无政府主义派,他是书痴派。

①欧墨尼得斯(Euménides),复仇三女神。 

他不能理解,在世上有种种苔藓草木可观赏,有种种对开本、甚至三十二开本可浏览,而偏偏要为宪章、民主、正统、君主制、共和制……这一些劳什子去互相仇恨。他严防自己成为无用的人,有书并不妨碍他阅读,做一个植物学家也不妨碍他当园艺工人。当他认得了彭眉胥,他和那位上校之间有着这样一种共同的爱好,就是上校培植花卉,他培植果树。马白夫先生能用梨籽结出和圣热尔曼梨①那样鲜美的梨,今天广受欢迎的那种香味不亚于夏季小黄梅的十月小黄梅,据说是用他发明的一种嫁接方法栽培出来的。他去望弥撒是为修心养性,并非全为敬神,他喜欢看见人的脸,却又厌恶人的声音,只有在礼拜堂里,他才能找到人们聚集一堂而又寂静无声。他感到自己不能没有一个职业,于是便选择理财神甫这一行当。他从来没能象爱一个洋葱的球茎那样去爱一个妇女,也从没有能象爱一册善本书那样去爱一个男人。一天在他早已过了六十岁时,有个人问他:“难道您从来没有结过婚吗?”他说:“我忘了。”当他偶然想起了要说(谁不想要这样说呢?):“啊!假使我有钱!”那决不会在瞄一个漂亮姑娘时,象吉诺曼公公那样,而是在观赏一本旧书时。他孤零零一个人过活,带着一个老女仆。他有点痛风,睡着的时候他那些被风湿病僵化了的手指在被单的皱折里老弓曲着。他编过并印过一本《柯特雷茨附近的植物图说》,那是本评价相当高的书,书里有不少彩色插图,铜版是他自己的,书也由他自己卖。每天总有两三个人到梅齐埃尔街他家门口去拉动门铃,来买一本书。他因而每年能挣两千法郎,这便是他的全部家产了。虽然穷,他却有能力通过耐心、节约和时间来收藏许多各种类型的善本书。他在出门时,手臂下从来只夹一本书,而回家时却常常带着两本。他住在楼下,有四间屋子和一个小花园,家里唯一的装饰是些嵌在玻璃框里的植物标本和一些老名家的版画。刀枪一类的东西使他见了胆寒。他一生从不曾走近一尊大炮,即使是在残废军人院里。他有一个过得去的胃、一个当本堂神甫的兄弟、一头全白的头发、一张掉光了牙的嘴和一颗掉光了牙的心、一身的抖颤、一口庇卡底的乡音、童子的笑声、易惊的神经、老绵羊的神情。除此以外,在活着的人中,他只有一个常来往的知心朋友,圣雅克门的一个开书店的老头,叫鲁瓦约尔。他的梦想是把靛青移植到法国来。

①圣热尔曼梨,一种多汁的大蜜梨。 

他的女仆,也是个天真无邪的人物。那可怜慈祥的妇人是个老处女。苏丹,她的猫,一只能在西斯廷教堂咪嗷咪嗷歌唱阿列格利所作《上帝怜我》诗篇的老雄猫,已经充满了她的心,也满足了她身上那点热情。在梦中她也从没有接触到男人,她从来没有超越过她这只猫。她,和它一样,嘴上也生胡须。她的光轮出自始终白洁的睡帽。星期天,望过弥撒后,她的时间便用来清点她箱子里的换洗衣裳,并把她买来而从不找人裁缝的裙袍料子一一摊在床上。她能阅读。马白夫替她取了个名字,叫“普卢塔克妈妈”。

马白夫先生喜欢马吕斯,是因为马吕斯年少温存,能使他在衰年感到温暖而又不使他那怯弱的心情受惊扰。老年人遇到和善的青年犹如见了日暖风和的佳日。每当马吕斯带着满脑子的军事光荣、火药、进攻、反攻以及所有那些有他父亲在场挥刀大砍同时也受人砍的惊心动魄的战斗情景去看马白夫先生时,马白夫先生便从品评花卉的角度和他谈论这位英雄。

一八三○年前后,他那当本堂神甫的兄弟死了,死得很突然,如同黑夜降临,马白夫先生眼前的景物全暗下去了。一次公证人方面的背约行为使他损失了一万法郎,这是他兄弟名下和他自己名下的全部钱财。七月革命引起了图书业的危机。在困难时期,卖不出去的首先是《植物图说》这一类的书。《柯特雷茨附近的植物图说》立即无人过问了。几星期过去也不见一个顾主。有时马白夫先生听到门铃响而惊动起来。普卢塔克妈妈愁闷地说道:“是送水的。”后来,马白夫先生离开梅齐埃尔街,辞去理财神甫的职务,脱离了圣稣尔比斯,卖掉一部分……不是他的书,而是他的雕版图片??这是他最放得下的东西了??搬到巴纳斯山大街的一栋小房子里去住。他在那里只住了一个季度,为了两种原因,第一,那楼下一层和园子得花三百法郎,而他不敢让自己的房租超出二百法郎;第二,那地方隔壁便是法都射击场,他整天听到手枪射击声,这使他受不了。

他带走了他的《植物图说》、他的铜版、他的植物标本、他的书包和书籍,去住在妇女救济院附近,奥斯特里茨村的一种茅屋里,每年租金五十埃居,有三间屋子和一个围着篱笆的园子,还有一口井。他趁这次搬家的机会,把家具几乎全卖了。他迁入新居那天,心情非常愉快,亲自钉了许多钉子,挂那些图片和标本,余下的时间,便在园里锄地,到了晚上,看见普卢塔克妈妈神情郁闷,心事重重,便拍着她的肩头,对她微笑说:

“不要紧!我们还有靛青呢!”

只有两个客人,圣雅克门的那个书商和马吕斯得到许可,可以到奥斯特里茨的茅屋里来看他,奥斯特里茨这名字对他来说,毕竟是喧嚣刺耳的。

可是正如我们刚才所指出的,凡是钻在一种学问或是一种癖好里,或者这是常有的事,两种同时都钻的头脑,才能很慢被生活中的事物所渗透。他们觉得自己的前程还很远大。从这种专一的精神状态中产生出来的是一种被动性,这被动性,如果出自理智,便象哲学。这些人偏朝一边,往下走,往下溜,甚至往下倒,而他们自己并不怎么警觉。这种状况到后来确也会有醒觉的一天,但这一天不会早日来到。在目前,这些人仿佛是处在自身幸福与自身苦难的赌博中而无动于衷。自己成了赌注,却漠不关心地听凭别人摆布。

马白夫先生便是这样,他在处境日益黯淡、希望一一消失的情况下心境却仍然宁静如初,这虽然带点稚气,但很固执。他精神的习性有如钟摆的来回摆动。一旦被幻想上紧发条,他就要走很长一段时间,即使幻想已经破灭。挂钟不会正在钥匙丢失的那会儿突然停摆的。

马白夫先生有些天真的乐趣。这不需要多大的代价,并且往往是无意中得来的,一点偶然机会便能提供这种乐趣。一天,普卢塔克妈妈坐在屋角里读一本小说。她老喜欢大声读,觉得这样容易领会些。大声读,便是不断对自己肯定我确实是在从事阅读。有些人读得声音极高,仿佛是在对他们所读的东西发誓赌咒。

普卢塔克妈妈正使出这种活力读着她捧在手里的那本小说。马白夫先生漫不经心地听着她读。

一路读来,普卢塔克妈妈读到了这样一句,那是关于一个龙骑兵军官和一个美人的故事:

“……美人弗特和龙……”

读到此地,她停下来擦她的眼镜。

“佛陀和龙,”马白夫先生低声说,“是呀,确有过这回事。从前有条龙,住在山洞里,口里吐出火焰来烧天。好几颗星星已被这怪物烧到着火了,它脚上长的是老虎爪子。佛陀进到它洞里,感化了它。您读的是本好书呢,普卢塔克妈妈。没有比这再好的传奇故事了。”

马白夫先生随即又沉浸在美妙的梦幻中了。
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