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第二卷利维坦的肚肠 第04章人所不知的细节

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CHAPTER IV BRUNESEAU EXPLORING THE SEWERS


The visit took place.It was a formidable campaign; a nocturnal battle against pestilence and suffocation. It was, at the same time, a voyage of discovery. One of the survivors of this expedition, an intelligent workingman, who was very young at the time, related curious details with regard to it, several years ago, which Bruneseau thought himself obliged to omit in his report to the prefect of police, as unworthy of official style. The processes of disinfection were, at that epoch, extremely rudimentary. Hardly had Bruneseau crossed the first articulations of that subterranean network, when eight laborers out of the twenty refused to go any further. The operation was complicated; the visit entailed the necessity of cleaning; hence it was necessary to cleanse and at the same time, to proceed; to note the entrances of water, to count the gratings and the vents, to lay out in detail the branches, to indicate the currents at the point where they parted, to define the respective bounds of the divers basins, to sound the small sewers grafted on the principal sewer, to measure the height under the key-stone of each drain, and the width, at the spring of the vaults as well as at the bottom, in order to determine the arrangements with regard to the level of each water-entrance, either of the bottom of the arch, or on the soil of the street. They advanced with toil. The lanterns pined away in the foul atmosphere. From time to time, a fainting sewerman was carried out. At certain points, there were precipices. The soil had given away, the pavement had crumbled, the sewer had changed into a bottomless well; they found nothing solid; a man disappeared suddenly; they had great difficulty in getting him out again. On the advice of Fourcroy, they lighted large cages filled with tow steeped in resin, from time to time, in spots which had been sufficiently disinfected. In some places, the wall was covered with misshapen fungi,--one would have said tumors; the very stone seemed diseased within this unbreathable atmosphere.

Bruneseau, in his exploration, proceeded down hill. At the point of separation of the two water-conduits of the Grand-Hurleur, he deciphered upon a projecting stone the date of 1550; this stone indicated the limits where Philibert Delorme, charged by Henri II. with visiting the subterranean drains of Paris, had halted. This stone was the mark of the sixteenth century on the sewer; Bruneseau found the handiwork of the seventeenth century once more in the Ponceau drain of the old Rue Vielle-du-Temple, vaulted between 1600 and 1650; and the handiwork of the eighteenth in the western section of the collecting canal, walled and vaulted in 1740. These two vaults, especially the less ancient, that of 1740, were more cracked and decrepit than the masonry of the belt sewer, which dated from 1412, an epoch when the brook of fresh water of Menilmontant was elevated to the dignity of the Grand Sewer of Paris, an advancement analogous to that of a peasant who should become first valet de chambre to the King; something like Gros-Jean transformed into Lebel.

Here and there, particularly beneath the Court-House, they thought they recognized the hollows of ancient dungeons, excavated in the very sewer itself. Hideous in-pace. An iron neck-collar was hanging in one of these cells. They walled them all up. Some of their finds were singular; among others, the skeleton of an ourang-outan, who had disappeared from the Jardin des Plantes in 1800, a disappearance probably connected with the famous and indisputable apparition of the devil in the Rue des Bernardins, in the last year of the eighteenth century. The poor devil had ended by drowning himself in the sewer.

Beneath this long, arched drain which terminated at the Arche-Marion, a perfectly preserved rag-picker's basket excited the admiration of all connoisseurs. Everywhere, the mire, which the sewermen came to handle with intrepidity, abounded in precious objects, jewels of gold and silver, precious stones, coins. If a giant had filtered this cesspool, he would have had the riches of centuries in his lair. At the point where the two branches of the Rue du Temple and of the Rue Sainte-Avoye separate, they picked up a singular Huguenot medal in copper, bearing on one side the pig hooded with a cardinal's hat, and on the other, a wolf with a tiara on his head.

The most surprising rencounter was at the entrance to the Grand Sewer. This entrance had formerly been closed by a grating of which nothing but the hinges remained. From one of these hinges hung a dirty and shapeless rag which, arrested there in its passage, no doubt, had floated there in the darkness and finished its process of being torn apart. Bruneseau held his lantern close to this rag and examined it. It was of very fine batiste, and in one of the corners, less frayed than the rest, they made out a heraldic coronet and embroidered above these seven letters: LAVBESP. The crown was the coronet of a Marquis, and the seven letters signified Laubespine. They recognized the fact, that what they had before their eyes was a morsel of the shroud of Marat. Marat in his youth had had amorous intrigues. This was when he was a member of the household of the Comte d'Artois, in the capacity of physician to the Stables. From these love affairs, historically proved, with a great lady, he had retained this sheet. As a waif or a souvenir. At his death, as this was the only linen of any fineness which he had in his house, they buried him in it. Some old women had shrouded him for the tomb in that swaddling-band in which the tragic Friend of the people had enjoyed voluptuousness. Bruneseau passed on. They left that rag where it hung; they did not put the finishing touch to it. Did this arise from scorn or from respect? Marat deserved both. And then, destiny was there sufficiently stamped to make them hesitate to touch it. Besides, the things of the sepulchre must be left in the spot which they select. In short, the relic was a strange one. A Marquise had slept in it; Marat had rotted in it; it had traversed the Pantheon to end with the rats of the sewer. This chamber rag, of which Watteau would formerly have joyfully sketched every fold, had ended in becoming worthy of the fixed gaze of Dante.

The whole visit to the subterranean stream of filth of Paris lasted seven years, from 1805 to 1812. As he proceeded, Bruneseau drew, directed, and completed considerable works; in 1808 he lowered the arch of the Ponceau, and, everywhere creating new lines, he pushed the sewer, in 1809, under the Rue Saint-Denis as far as the fountain of the Innocents; in 1810, under the Rue Froidmanteau and under the Salpetriere; in 1811 under the Rue Neuve-des-Petits-Peres, under the Rue du Mail, under the Rue de l'Echarpe, under the Place Royale; in 1812, under the Rue de la Paix, and under the Chaussee d'Antin. At the same time, he had the whole net-work disinfected and rendered healthful. In the second year of his work, Bruneseau engaged the assistance of his son-in-law Nargaud.

It was thus that, at the beginning of the century, ancient society cleansed its double bottom, and performed the toilet of its sewer. There was that much clean, at all events.

Tortuous, cracked, unpaved, full of fissures, intersected by gullies, jolted by eccentric elbows, mounting and descending illogically, fetid, wild, fierce, submerged in obscurity, with cicatrices on its pavements and scars on its walls, terrible,--such was, retrospectively viewed, the antique sewer of Paris. Ramifications in every direction, crossings, of trenches, branches, goose-feet, tars,as in military mines, coecum, blind alleys, vaults lined with saltpetre, pestiferous pools, scabby sweats, on the walls, drops dripping from the ceilings, darkness; nothing could equal the horror of this old, waste crypt, the digestive apparatus of Babylon, a cavern, ditch, gulf pierced with streets, a titanic mole-burrow, where the mind seems to behold that enormous blind mole, the past, prowling through the shadows, in the filth which has been splendor.

This, we repeat, was the sewer of the past.



四 人所不知的细节


视察进行了。这是一次可怕的战役,在漆黑的夜间向瘟疫和窒息性瓦斯进军。同时也是一次有所发现的旅行。参加这次探险还活着的人之一,当时是一个年轻聪明的工人,几年前他还谈起一些奇异的细节,而当时,勃吕纳梭认为这些细节与他呈给警署署长的报告的公文文体不称而删去了。那时的消毒方式是很简陋的,勃吕纳梭刚越过地下网的头几条支管,二十个工人中就有八个拒绝再往前走。工作是复杂的,视察免不了要疏通,因此必须清除,同时还要测量,去标明水的进口,数清铁栅栏和管口,了解分支的详情,指出流水的分叉处,明确各个蓄水池的界限,探查接在总管上的小管,从拱心石处测量每个沟道的高度,从拱顶开始处到沟槽底测量宽度,最后确定或从阴沟底,或从街面与每一进水口成直角的水准测量纵座标。他们的进展是艰苦的。下沟的梯子经常陷入三尺深的稀泥中,灯笼在沼气中忽明忽暗,不时有清沟工人失去知觉而被抬出去。有些地方简直是深渊。土地下陷,石板地塌了,阴沟变成了暗井,人们找不到立足之地;一个工人忽然失踪了,大家吃力地把他拖了出来。依照福克瓦①的建议,大家在基本上打扫干净的地方,隔一定距离,就用大笼子装满浸透树脂的旧麻点燃起来照明。墙壁上,有些地方长满了畸形的菌,简直就勃吕纳梭在他的探险中是从上游到下游去。在大吼者街,两条水管分开处,他在一块突出的石头上辨认出一五五○年这个日期。这块石头指出费利贝尔·特洛姆在此止步,他曾被亨利二世委任视察巴黎的地下沟道。这块石头是十六世纪留在沟中的记号。勃吕纳梭在明索沟管和老人堂街沟管上发现了十七世纪的手工工程,这是一六○○年到一六五○年建筑的拱管,还有在集流管道西段发现了十八世纪的工程,这是一七四○年开凿和建成的拱管。这两条管路,尤其是年代较近的那条,即一七四○年的工程,看来要比一四一二年环城阴沟的泥水工程更破旧更久远,当时梅尼孟丹清水溪被抬高到巴黎大阴沟的地位,好象一个农民忽然高升,成为国王的第一侍从,一个乡巴佬变成勒贝尔②一样。

大家认为在很多地方,主要在法院下面,发现了建造在沟渠中的古老地牢的秘室。在丑陋的幽静③中,在一间秘室内挂着一个铁枷。所有密室都砌死了,发现了一些古怪的东西:例如一八○○年植物园丢失的猩猩的骸骨,这一丢失大致与十八世纪最后一年中有名的、无可争辩的、在贝纳丹街出现鬼魂的事有关。这个倒霉鬼最后淹死在污沟里。

①福克瓦(Fourcroy,1755-1809),法国化学家。象肿瘤一样。在这令人窒息的地方,石头本身仿佛都是有病的。

②勒贝尔(Lebel),十九世纪法国军官。

③幽静,原文为拉丁文In pace。

在通到马利容桥的拱形长巷中,有一个拾破烂的背篓保存得完好无缺,识货的人啧啧称赞。清沟工人终于大胆用手摸索污泥,里面有大量贵重物品,有金银饰物、宝石、硬币。一个巨人如果用筛子去滤这些污泥,便可在他的筛中得到几世纪的财富。在大庙街和圣阿瓦街两根支管的分叉处,人们拾到一个古怪的胡格诺新教徒的铜质纪念章,一面是一头戴着红衣主教冠的猪,另一面是一只头戴罗马教皇三重冕的狼。

最希罕的发现是在大阴渠的进口处。这个进口过去是用铁栅栏关着的,现在只剩下一些铰链。在其中的一个铰链上挂着一块肮脏的不成形的破布??肯定是在经过这儿时被挂住了??在黑暗中飘摇,最后成了破布条。勃吕纳梭把灯笼凑近仔细察看这块破布。这是很细的麻纱,在一个比较完整的角上可以看见绣着一个纹章的冠冕,下方有七个字母:LAVBEBSP。这是一个侯爵的冠冕,七个字母的意思是罗贝斯冰,大家认出了在眼前的是一块裹葬马拉的尸布。根据历史的考证,马拉年轻时有过一些风流韵事,这是他在阿图瓦伯爵家当兽医时,和一位贵妇人私通后留下的床单。这是残留物或纪念品。他死后,由于这是他家中唯一的一块较细的料子,因此人们就用它来给他裹尸。老妇人们用这块有过他欢乐的襁褓裹起这悲哀的人民之友,并把他送入墓窟。

勃吕纳梭不理睬这块布。他们让这破布条留在原处,并不毁掉它。这是表示蔑视还是尊敬呢?马拉在这两方面都受之无愧。而且命运在那儿已留下充分的印迹,致使人们产生顾虑,不愿去碰触它。此外,属于坟墓中的东西应当让它留在它所选择的地方。总之,这遗物是古怪的。一位侯爵夫人在里面睡过,马拉在那里面腐烂,它经过了先贤祠,最后来到了这老鼠沟。这块床上的破布,华托曾高兴地画出它所有的褶裥,结果是应受但丁的凝视。

对巴黎地下污水沟的全部视察历时七年,从一八○五年到一八一二年。勃吕纳梭边走边指示,经他领导结束了庞大的工程。一八○八年,他把朋索街的沟槽加深,并到处添设了新沟管,一八○九年,他把沟道通过圣德尼街并延伸到圣婴喷泉,一八一○年延伸到冷大衣街和妇女救济院下面,一八一一年,扩展到小神父新街、玛依街、肩带街、王宫广场,一八一二年延长到和平街和昂坦大街。同时他对全部沟网消毒净化。从第二年起勃吕纳梭就让他女婿纳谷当了他的助手。

就这样,在本世纪初,旧社会消除了它的双层底并打扮了它的阴渠。无论如何,这一次起码是把这些东西打扫干净了。

回顾巴黎过去的阴渠,弯弯曲曲,到处是隙缝裂口,不见石块铺底,坑坑洼洼,有些古怪的拐弯转角,无故升高降低,恶臭,粗陋,野蛮,沉浸在黑暗中,铺沟石疮疤累累,墙上被刀剑砍伤,惊险骇人。阴沟分叉伸向四面八方,壕沟纵横交错,枝枝节节,象鹅掌,象坑道中的星叉道,象盲肠和死胡同;起硝的拱顶,含毒的污水坑,墙上渗出水泡疮的脓水,沟顶往下滴水,到处一片漆黑;没有比这排污水的古老地下墓室更可怕的了,这是巴比伦的消化道,是洞,是坑,是道路四通八达的深渊,是巨大的鼹鼠洞,人们在那过去是荣华富贵的垃圾堆上,仿佛看见了那只瞎眼的大鼹鼠在黑暗中徘徊,这鼹鼠就是往昔。

我们再重复一遍,这就是过去的阴沟。
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