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IN the country of  Germany, where the acacias grow by the public road, where the apple-trees and the pear-trees in autumn bend to the earth with the weight of the precious fruit, lies the little town of Marbach.

As is often the case with many of these towns, it is charmingly situated on the banks of the river Neckar, which rushes rapidly by, passing villages, old knights' castles, and green vineyards, till its waters mingle with those of the stately Rhine. It was late in the autumn; the vine-leaves still hung upon the branches of the vines, but they were already tinted with red and gold; heavy showers fell on the surrounding country, and the cold autumn wind blew sharp and strong. It was not at all pleasant weather for the poor. The days grew shorter and more gloomy, and, dark as it was out of doors in the open air, it was still darker within the small, old-fashioned houses of the village. The gable end of one of these houses faced the street, and with its small, narrow windows, presented a very mean appearance. The family who dwelt in it were also very poor and humble, but they treasured the fear of God in their innermost hearts. And now He was about to send them a child. It was the hour of the mother's sorrow, when there pealed forth from the church tower the sound of festive bells. In that solemn hour the sweet and joyous chiming filled the hearts of those in the humble dwelling with thankfulness and trust; and when, amidst these joyous sounds, a little son was born to them, the words of prayer and praise arose from their overflowing hearts, and their happiness seemed to ring out over town and country in the liquid tones of the church bells' chime. The little one, with its bright eyes and golden hair, had been welcomed joyously on that dark November day. Its parents kissed it lovingly, and the father wrote these words in the Bible, "On the tenth of November, 1759, God sent us a son." And a short time after, when the child had been baptized, the names he had received were added, "John Christopher Frederick."

And what became of the little lad?- the poor boy of the humble town of Marbach? Ah, indeed, there was no one who thought or supposed, not even the old church bell which had been the first to sound and chime for him, that he would be the first to sing the beautiful song of "The Bell." The boy grew apace, and the world advanced with him.

While he was yet a child, his parents removed from Marbach, and went to reside in another town; but their dearest friends remained behind at Marbach, and therefore sometimes the mother and her son would start on a fine day to pay a visit to the little town. The boy was at this time about six years old, and already knew a great many stories out of the Bible, and several religious psalms. While seated in the evening on his little cane-chair, he had often heard his father read from Gellert's fables, and sometimes from Klopstock's grand poem, "The Messiah." He and his sister, two years older than himself, had often wept scalding tears over the story of Him who suffered death on the cross for us all.

On his first visit to Marbach, the town appeared to have changed but very little, and it was not far enough away to be forgotten. The house, with its pointed gable, narrow windows, overhanging walls and stories, projecting one beyond another, looked just the same as in former times. But in the churchyard there were several new graves; and there also, in the grass, close by the wall, stood the old church bell! It had been taken down from its high position, in consequence of a crack in the metal which prevented it from ever chiming again, and a new bell now occupied its place. The mother and son were walking in the churchyard when they discovered the old bell, and they stood still to look at it. Then the mother reminded her little boy of what a useful bell this had been for many hundred years. It had chimed for weddings and for christenings; it had tolled for funerals, and to give the alarm in case of fire. With every event in the life of man the bell had made its voice heard. His mother also told him how the chiming of that old bell had once filled her heart with joy and confidence, and that in the midst of the sweet tones her child had been given to her. And the boy gazed on the large, old bell with the deepest interest. He bowed his head over it and kissed it, old, thrown away, and cracked as it was, and standing there amidst the grass and nettles. The boy never forgot what his mother told him, and the tones of the old bell reverberated in his heart till he reached manhood. In such sweet remembrance was the old bell cherished by the boy, who grew up in poverty to be tall and slender, with a freckled complexion and hair almost red; but his eyes were clear and blue as the deep sea, and what was his career to be? His career was to be good, and his future life enviable. We find him taking high honors at the military school in the division commanded by the member of a family high in position, and this was an honor, that is to say, good luck. He wore gaiters, stiff collars, and powdered hair, and by this he was recognized; and, indeed, he might be known by the word of command-

"March! halt! front!"

The old church bell had long been quite forgotten, and no one imagined it would ever again be sent to the melting furnace to make it as it was before. No one could possibly have foretold this. Equally impossible would it have been to believe that the tones of the old bell still echoed in the heart of the boy from Marbach; or that one day they would ring out loud enough and strong enough to be heard all over the world. They had already been heard in the narrow space behind the school-wall, even above the deafening sounds of "March! halt! front!" They had chimed so loudly in the heart of the youngster, that he had sung them to his companions, and their tones resounded to the very borders of the country. He was not a free scholar in the military school, neither was he provided with clothes or food. But he had his number, and his own peg; for everything here was ordered like clockwork, which we all know is of the greatest utility- people get on so much better together when their position and duties are understood. It is by pressure that a jewel is stamped. The pressure of regularity and discipline here stamped the jewel, which in the future the world so well knew.

In the chief town of the province a great festival was being celebrated. The light streamed forth from thousands of lamps, and the rockets shot upwards towards the sky, filling the air with showers of colored fiery sparks. A record of this bright display will live in the memory of man, for through it the pupil in the military school was in tears and sorrow. He had dared to attempt to reach foreign territories unnoticed, and must therefore give up fatherland, mother, his dearest friends, all, or sink down into the stream of common life. The old church bell had still some comfort; it stood in the shelter of the church wall in Marbach, once so elevated, now quite forgotten. The wind roared around it, and could have readily related the story of its origin and of its sweet chimes, and the wind could also tell of him to whom he had brought fresh air when, in the woods of a neighboring country, he had sunk down exhausted with fatigue, with no other worldly possessions than hope for the future, and a written leaf from "Fiesco." The wind could have told that his only protector was an artist, who, by reading each leaf to him, made it plain; and that they amused themselves by playing at nine-pins together. The wind could also describe the pale fugitive, who, for weeks and months, lay in a wretched little road-side inn, where the landlord got drunk and raved, and where the merry-makers had it all their own way. And he, the pale fugitive, sang of the ideal.

For many heavy days and dark nights the heart must suffer to enable it to endure trial and temptation; yet, amidst it all, would the minstrel sing. Dark days and cold nights also passed over the old bell, and it noticed them not; but the bell in the man's heart felt it to be a gloomy time. What would become of this young man, and what would become of the old bell?

The old bell was, after a time, carried away to a greater distance than any one, even the warder in the bell tower, ever imagined; and the bell in the breast of the young man was heard in countries where his feet had never wandered. The tones went forth over the wide ocean to every part of the round world.

We will now follow the career of the old bell. It was, as we have said, carried far away from Marbach and sold as old copper; then sent to Bavaria to be melted down in a furnace. And then what happened?

In the royal city of Bavaria, many years after the bell had been removed from the tower and melted down, some metal was required for a monument in honor of one of the most celebrated characters which a German people or a German land could produce. And now we see how wonderfully things are ordered. Strange things sometimes happen in this world.

In Denmark, in one of those green islands where the foliage of the beech-woods rustles in the wind, and where many Huns' graves may be seen, was another poor boy born. He wore wooden shoes, and when his father worked in a ship-yard, the boy, wrapped up in an old worn-out shawl, carried his dinner to him every day. This poor child was now the pride of his country; for the sculptured marble, the work of his hands, had astonished the world. To him was offered the honor of forming from the clay, a model of the figure of him whose name, "John Christopher Frederick," had been written by his father in the Bible. The bust was cast in bronze, and part of the metal used for this purpose was the old church bell, whose tones had died away from the memory of those at home and elsewhere. The metal, glowing with heat, flowed into the mould, and formed the head and bust of the statue which was unveiled in the square in front of the old castle. The statue represented in living, breathing reality, the form of him who was born in poverty, the boy from Marbach, the pupil of the military school, the fugitive who struggled against poverty and oppression, from the outer world; Germany's great and immortal poet, who sung of Switzerland's deliverer, William Tell, and of the heaven-inspired Maid of Orleans.

It was a beautiful sunny day; flags were waving from tower and roof in royal Stuttgart, and the church bells were ringing a joyous peal. One bell was silent; but it was illuminated by the bright sunshine which streamed from the head and bust of the renowned figure, of which it formed a part. On this day, just one hundred years had passed since the day on which the chiming of the old church bell at Marbach had filled the mother's heart with trust and joy- the day on which her child was born in poverty, and in a humble home; the same who, in after-years, became rich, became the noble woman-hearted poet, a blessing to the world- the glorious, the sublime, the immortal bard, John Christopher Frederick Schiller!

 

古教堂的钟——为席勒纪念册而作

在德国瓦尔登堡地方,槐树在大路旁边开满了美丽的花朵,苹果树和梨树在秋天被成熟的果实压弯了枝条,这儿有一个小城市,玛尔巴赫。它是那些微不足道的城市之一,但它是在涅加尔河边,处在一个美丽的位置上。这条河匆忙地流过许多村庄,古老的骑士城堡和青翠的葡萄园,为的是要把它的水倾泻到莱茵河里去。

这正是岁暮的时候,葡萄的叶子已经红了,天上在下着阵雨,寒风在吹。对于穷人来说,这并不是一个愉快的时节。日子一天比一天变得阴暗,而那些老式的房子内部更显得阴暗。街上就有这样的一幢房子,它的山形墙面向前街,它的窗子很矮,它的外表很寒酸。它里面住的一家人也的确很贫寒,但是非常正直和勤俭;在他们心的深处,他们怀着对于上帝的敬爱。

上帝很快就要送一个孩子给他们。时刻已经要到了,母亲躺在床上,感到阵痛和难过。这时她听到教堂塔上飘来的钟声——洪亮和快乐的钟声。这是一个快乐的时刻。钟声充满了这个在祈祷着的女人的虔诚的心。她内心的思想飞向上帝。正在这时候,她生了一个男孩;她感到无限的快乐。教堂塔上的钟声似乎在把她的欢乐向全市,向全国播送。两颗明亮的眼睛在向她凝望,这个小家伙的头发发着光亮,好像是镀了金似的。在十一月的一个阴暗的日子里,这个孩子就在钟声中被送到世界上来了。妈妈和爸爸吻了他,同时在他们的《圣经》上写道:“一七五九年十一月十日,上帝送给我们一个男孩。”后来他加了一句,说孩子在受洗礼时起名为约翰·克里斯朵夫·佛里得利西。

这个小家伙,寒酸的玛尔巴赫城里的一个穷孩子,成了怎样的一个人呢?

的确,在那个时候谁也不知道。甚至那个老教堂的钟也不知道,虽然它悬得那样高,最先为他唱着歌——后来他自己也唱出一支非常美丽的歌:《钟》①。

这个小家伙在生长,这个世界也为他在生长。他的父母搬到另一个城里去了,但是他们在小小的玛尔巴赫还留下一些亲爱的朋友,因此有一天妈妈就带着儿子回去作一次拜访。孩子还只不过六周岁,但是他已经知道了《圣经》里的许多章节和虔诚的赞美诗。他常常在晚间坐在小凳上听爸爸读格勒尔特②的寓言和关于救世主的诗。当他们听到这个人为了救我们而上十字架上的时候,他流出眼泪,比他大两岁的姐姐就哭起来。

在他们第一次拜访玛尔巴赫的时候,这个城市还没有很大的改变。的确,他们离开它还没有多久。房子仍然跟以前一样,有尖尖的山形墙,倾斜的墙和低矮的窗子;但是教堂的墓地里却有了新的坟墓,而且那个老钟也躺在这儿墙边的草里。这钟是从塔上落下来的。它已经跌出一个裂口,再也发不出声音来了。因为这个缘故,现在有一个新钟来代替它。

妈妈和儿子一起走到教堂里去,他们站在这个老钟面前。妈妈告诉孩子,许多世纪以来这个钟该是做了多少事情:它在人们受洗、结婚和入葬的时候,奏出音乐;它为庆祝、欢乐和火警发出声音;事实上,这个钟歌唱着人的整个一生。妈妈讲的话,这孩子永远没有忘记。这些话在他的心里盘旋着,直到后来他成人以后不得不把它唱出来。妈妈还告诉他,这钟怎样在她苦痛不安的时候发出安慰和快乐的声音,怎样在她生小孩子的时候奏出音乐和歌。孩子怀着虔诚的心情望着这个伟大的、古老的钟。他弯下腰来吻它,虽然它躺在乱草和荨麻之间,裂了口,满身是锈。

孩子在贫困中长大了,这个钟深深地留在他的记忆里。他是又瘦又高,长了一头红发,满脸雀斑,是的,这就是他的外貌,但是他有两颗明亮的、像深水一样的眼睛。他的发展怎样呢?他的发展很好,好得叫人羡慕!他进了军官学校,而且受到优待,进了世家子弟所进的那一科。这是一种光荣和幸运。他穿起皮靴和硬领,戴着扑了粉的假发。他在学习知识——“开步走!”“立定!”和“向前看!”这个范畴里的知识。这大概不会是白学的。

那个被人忘记了的老教堂的钟总有一天会走进熔炉。它会变成什么呢?这是很难说的。但是那个年轻人心里的钟会变成什么呢?这也同样是很难说的。他心里有一个声音洪亮的金属品——它总有一天要向世界唱出歌来。学校的空间越窄狭,“开步走!立定!向前走!”的声音越紧张,这个年轻人心里的歌声就越强壮。他在同学中间把这个歌声唱出来,而这歌声越过了国境。但他在这儿受教育、领制服和食宿并不就是为了唱歌呀。他是一座大钟里一个固定的螺丝钉——我们都是一架机器的零件。我们对于自己了解得多么少啊!别的人——即使是最好的人——怎么会了解我们呢?但是宝石只有在压力下才能形成。这里现在有的是压力。世界在时间的过程中会不会认识这颗宝石呢?

有一个盛大的庆祝会在这国家的首都举行。无数的灯光亮起来了,焰火照耀着天空。人们现在还记得那次辉煌的景象,因为正是在那个时候他带着眼泪和苦痛的心情想要逃到外国去。他不得不离开祖国、母亲和所有亲爱的人,否则他就得在一个平凡的生活旋涡中淹没掉。

那个古老的钟仍然是完好如故。它藏在玛尔巴赫教堂的墙边,完全被人忘记了!风在它身上吹过去,可能告诉它一点关于他的消息,因为这钟在他出生的时候曾经唱过歌。风可能告诉它自己怎样寒冷地在他身上吹过去,他怎样因为疲劳过度而在邻近的森林里倒下来,他怎样拥抱着他的宝物——他对未来的希望,已经完成的那几页《斐爱斯柯》③。风可能说出,当他在读这部悲剧的时候,他的支持者——全是些艺术家——都偷偷溜走而去玩九柱戏④。风可能说出,这个面色苍白的逃亡者整星期、整月地住在一个寒酸的客栈里,老板不是吵闹就是喝酒;当他正在唱着理想之歌的时候,人们却在周围粗暴地作乐。这是艰难的日子,阴暗的日子!心儿得为它所要唱出的东西先受一番苦和考验。

那个古老的钟也经历过阴暗的日子和寒冷的夜,但是它感觉不到,人类胸怀中的钟可是能感觉得到困苦的时刻。这个年轻人的情形怎样呢?是的,这个钟飞得很远,比它在高塔上发出的声音所能达到的地方还远。至于这个年轻人,他心里的钟声所达到的地方,比他的腿步所能走到和他的眼睛所能看到的地方还要远。它在大洋上,在整个的地球上响着。

现在让我们先听听这个教堂的钟吧。它从玛尔巴赫被运走了。它被当作旧铜卖了。它得走到巴恩州的熔炉里去。它究竟是怎样到那里去的呢?什么时候去的呢?唔,这只好让钟自己来讲——如果它能讲的话。这当然不是一件顶重要的事。不过有一件事是很肯定的:它来到了巴恩的首府。自从它从钟楼上跌下来的时候起,有许多年已经过去了。它现在得被熔化,作为一座新铸的纪念碑的材料的一部分——德国人民的一个伟大的雕像。现在请听这事情是怎样发生的吧!这个世界上有的是奇异和美丽的事情!

在丹麦一个布满了山毛榉和坟墓的绿岛上住着一个穷苦的孩子。他拖着一双木鞋,常常用一块旧布包着饭食送给他的父亲吃。父亲在码头上专门为船只雕刻“破浪神”。这个穷苦的孩子成了这个国家的财宝:他成大理石刻出的美丽东西,使全世界的人看到都非常惊讶。

现在他接受了一件光荣的工作,用泥土雕塑出一个庄严美丽的人像,然后再从这个人像铸出一个铜像。这个人像的名字,他的父亲曾经在《圣经》上写过的:约翰·克里斯朵夫·佛里得利西。

火热的古铜流进模子里去。是的,谁也没有想起那个古教堂的钟的故乡和它的逝去了的声音。这钟流进模子里去,形成一个人像的头和胸部。这尊像现在已经揭幕了。它现在已经立在斯杜特加尔特的古宫面前。它所代表的那个人,活着的时候,曾经在这块地方走来走去;他感到外界的压迫,他的内心在做尖锐的斗争。他——玛尔巴赫出生的一个孩子,军事学校的一个学生,逃亡者,德国不朽的伟大诗人——他歌唱瑞士的解放者和法国的一位得到上天感召的姑娘⑤。

这是一个美丽的晴天。在这个庄严的斯杜特加尔特城里,旗帜在屋顶上和尖塔上飘扬。教堂所有的钟都发出节日和欢乐的声音。只有一个钟是沉默的。但是它在明朗的太阳光中射出光辉,它从一尊高贵的人像的面上和胸前射出光辉。自从玛尔巴赫塔上的钟为一个受难的母亲发出快乐和安慰的钟声那天起。一整个世纪已经过去了。那一天,这个母亲在穷困中和简陋的房子中生出了一个男孩。这孩子后来成为一个富有的人——他的精神财富给世界带来幸福。他——一个善良的女人所生的诗人,一个伟大、光荣的歌手:约翰·克里斯朵夫·佛里得利西·席勒。

①指席勒的叙事诗《钟之歌》(DasLied von der Glocke)。

②格勒尔特(Christian Furchtegott Gellert,1715~1769)德国诗人。

③《斐爱斯柯》(Fiesko)是席勒所写的一个剧本。

④九柱戏(Keglespillet)是德国的一种游戏:九根一尺来长的柱子竖在地上,围成一个小圈,然后把一个圆球滚过去,看是否能把这些柱子打倒。

⑤指席勒的两个名剧本《威廉·退尔》(Vilhelm Tell)和《奥尔良的姑娘》(Die Jung frauvon Orleans)。