字体设置:

 

To Mrs. Saville, England

Archangel, 28th March, 17-

How slowly the time passes here, encompassed as I am by frost and snow! Yet a second step is taken towards my enterprise. I have hired a vessel and am occupied in collecting my sailors; those whom I have already engaged appear to be men on whom I can depend and are certainly possessed of dauntless courage.

But I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy, and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most severe evil, I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection. I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling. I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me, whose eyes would reply to mine. You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend. I have no one near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to approve or amend my plans. How would such a friend repair the faults of your poor brother! I am too ardent in execution and too impatient of difficulties. But it is a still greater evil to me that I am self-educated: for the first fourteen years of my life I ran wild on a common and read nothing but our Uncle Thomas’ books of voyages. At that age I became acquainted with the celebrated poets of our own country; but it was only when it had ceased to be in my power to derive its most important benefits from such a conviction that I perceived the necessity of becoming acquainted with more languages than that of my native country. Now I am twenty-eight and am in reality more illiterate than many schoolboys of fifteen. It is true that I have thought more and that my daydreams are more extended and magnificent, but they want (as the painters call it) KEEPING; and I greatly need a friend who would have sense enough not to despise me as romantic, and affection enough for me to endeavour to regulate my mind. Well, these are useless complaints; I shall certainly find no friend on the wide ocean, nor even here in Archangel, among merchants and seamen. Yet some feelings, unallied to the dross of human nature, beat even in these rugged bosoms. My lieutenant, for instance, is a man of wonderful courage and enterprise; he is madly desirous of glory, or rather, to word my phrase more characteristically, of advancement in his profession. He is an Englishman, and in the midst of national and professional prejudices, unsoftened by cultivation, retains some of the noblest endowments of humanity. I first became acquainted with him on board a whale vessel; finding that he was unemployed in this city, I easily engaged him to assist in my enterprise. The master is a person of an excellent disposition and is remarkable in the ship for his gentleness and the mildness of his discipline. This circumstance, added to his well-known integrity and dauntless courage, made me very desirous to engage him. A youth passed in solitude, my best years spent under your gentle and feminine fosterage, has so refined the groundwork of my character that I cannot overcome an intense distaste to the usual brutality exercised on board ship: I have never believed it to be necessary, and when I heard of a mariner equally noted for his kindliness of heart and the respect and obedience paid to him by his crew, I felt myself peculiarly fortunate in being able to secure his services. I heard of him first in rather a romantic manner, from a lady who owes to him the happiness of her life. This, briefly, is his story. Some years ago he loved a young Russian lady of moderate fortune, and having amassed a considerable sum in prize-money, the father of the girl consented to the match. He saw his mistress once before the destined ceremony; but she was bathed in tears, and throwing herself at his feet, entreated him to spare her, confessing at the same time that she loved another, but that he was poor, and that her father would never consent to the union. My generous friend reassured the suppliant, and on being informed of the name of her lover, instantly abandoned his pursuit. He had already bought a farm with his money, on which he had designed to pass the remainder of his life; but he bestowed the whole on his rival, together with the remains of his prize-money to purchase stock, and then himself solicited the young woman’s father to consent to her marriage with her lover. But the old man decidedly refused, thinking himself bound in honour to my friend, who, when he found the father inexorable, quitted his country, nor returned until he heard that his former mistress was married according to her inclinations. “What a noble fellow!” you will exclaim. He is so; but then he is wholly uneducated: he is as silent as a Turk, and a kind of ignorant carelessness attends him, which, while it renders his conduct the more astonishing, detracts from the interest and sympathy which otherwise he would command.

Yet do not suppose, because I complain a little or because I can conceive a consolation for my toils which I may never know, that I am wavering in my resolutions. Those are as fixed as fate, and my voyage is only now delayed until the weather shall permit my embarkation. The winter has been dreadfully severe, but the spring promises well, and it is considered as a remarkably early season, so that perhaps I may sail sooner than I expected. I shall do nothing rashly: you know me sufficiently to confide in my prudence and considerateness whenever the safety of others is committed to my care.

I cannot describe to you my sensations on the near prospect of my undertaking. It is impossible to communicate to you a conception of the trembling sensation, half pleasurable and half fearful, with which I am preparing to depart. I am going to unexplored regions, to “the land of mist and snow,” but I shall kill no albatross; therefore do not be alarmed for my safety or if I should come back to you as worn and woeful as the “Ancient Mariner.” You will smile at my allusion, but I will disclose a secret. I have often attributed my attachment to, my passionate enthusiasm for, the dangerous mysteries of ocean to that production of the most imaginative of modern poets. There is something at work in my soul which I do not understand. I am practically industrious — painstaking, a workman to execute with perseverance and labour — but besides this there is a love for the marvellous, a belief in the marvellous, intertwined in all my projects, which hurries me out of the common pathways of men, even to the wild sea and unvisited regions I am about to explore. But to return to dearer considerations. Shall I meet you again, after having traversed immense seas, and returned by the most southern cape of Africa or America? I dare not expect such success, yet I cannot bear to look on the reverse of the picture. Continue for the present to write to me by every opportunity: I may receive your letters on some occasions when I need them most to support my spirits. I love you very tenderly. Remember me with affection, should you never hear from me again.

Your affectionate brother, Robert Walton

 

在这里,到处都是冰天雪地的,时间过得好慢啊!我目前完成了此行的第二步。我已经租了一条船,现在正忙着挑选船员。那些我已经招募到的水手,都是我可以信赖的男子汉,铮铮铁骨、无所畏惧。

但是我内心有一种渴求,至今无法得到满足,而这种缺失,此时我觉得是最严重——玛格丽特,我没有朋友。当我因成功而激动万分时,我无法向其他人吐露我的喜悦;而我灰心丧气时,也没人会给我打气。

当然,我可以在日记中倾诉我的思想,但这对感情交流来说,却实在是一种可怜的方式。我非常渴望有个能与我产生共鸣、进行心灵交流的伙伴。我亲爱的姐姐,你可能会觉得我太多愁善感吧,但我太渴望有个朋友了。但是我周围却找不到这样的人——彬彬有礼、有胆有识、受过良好的教育,思维开阔,而且与我志同道合,能够对我的计划有所帮助的朋友。

如果有了这样一位朋友,我的很多错误就可以避免了呀!我办事太过冲动,而面对困难又会缺乏耐心。而对我来说更大的问题是,我都是靠自学的:在我生命的最初十四个年头里,我不务正业,除了托马斯叔叔的航海书籍之外,从不涉猎别的书籍。后来我才知晓了一些别的东西。但那是在我意识到,除了本国语言之外,还有必要熟悉外国语言的时候。可惜为时以晚,我已经没有能力多学点什么了。

现在我已经二十八岁,但实际上却比许多十五岁的学童更无知。不错,我更乐于思考,我的幻想也更壮丽宏伟,但是它们需要"协调",就像画家行话说的那样。我非常需要这样的朋友,他非常敏锐,不会将我的想法贬为异想天开,而是充满热情地将我的想法引上正轨。

唉,再抱怨也没什么用。反正在无边的大海上,我一个朋友也找不到,就算在阿尔汉格尔,在这些商人和海员中间,我也找不到什么朋友。但是,即便在这些人粗鲁而朴实的心胸之中,也同样拥有一些人性中纯洁、细腻的情感。比如说我的副船长,他富于勇气,胆略超群,他极度渴望获得荣誉,用更有特色的说法就是,他渴望自己能功成名就。

他是个英国人,尽管受到其民族和职业的影响,他的思想有些偏颇,但他还是保留着人性中一些最高尚的品质。最初,我是在一艘捕鲸船上认识他的,我发现他没有工作,于是很容易就说动他来协助我的事业。

我们的船长品性极好,在船上因其宽容厚道、和蔼可亲而颇有威望。这些优点,加上他众所周知的正直和无畏的勇气,使我诚心诚意地想去聘请他。

我的青年时代在孤单寂寞中度过。你温柔的呵护陪伴我度过其中最美好的一段日子。但这也造成我的性格在骨子里太过细腻温良,以至于忍不住要对船上通行的那种粗俗的作风产生厌恶。我从不认为这种行事作风有任何必要,所以我一听说有这么一个人,不仅为人心地善良,而且深受船员的尊重和爱戴,便觉得要是能够将他纳入我的麾下,那真是太幸运了。

我是从一位女士的口中第一次听说他的事迹的,非常浪漫的是,这位女士正是因为他才获得了一生的幸福。下面我就简单地讲讲他的故事。

几年前,他爱上一位家境清贫的俄国小姐。当他积攒了一笔为数可观的礼金后,姑娘的父亲同意了这门婚事。就在举行婚礼之前,他同他的未婚妻见了一面,可是那位小姐哭成泪人一般,扑倒在他脚前,恳求他的宽恕,并且坦言说她另有所爱,只是那人身无分文,所以她父亲说什么也不同意这门婚事。我那位慷慨宽容的朋友,允诺了姑娘的哀求。他立即放弃了对她的追求。

他本来已经买下了一座农庄,打算结婚后在那儿共度余生,但是他却把整个农庄都送给了自己的情敌,并用剩下的礼金为他添置用具,然后亲自劝说姑娘的父亲,希望他同意让姑娘和她的爱人成婚。这位老人觉得这样做有辱他的名声,于是断然拒绝了。船长发现他如此不通情理,就索性离开了自己的国家,直到听说那位他曾经爱过的姑娘与自己的情人终成眷属之后,才回国。

"一个多么高尚的人啊!"你一定会这样赞叹。的确如此,但是他却完全没受过教育,寡言少语,而且做起事来有点粗心大意、漫不经心,这就使他的以前的仗义之举更加令人意外。要不然的话,他还应该博得别人更多的兴趣和同情。

你可别因为我抱怨了几句,就猜测我的决心动摇了。此次旅行是我命中注定的,我绝不会动摇的。我现在只是被天气耽搁了,一旦天气允许,我马上就会出发。这里的冬天严寒彻骨,但是春天也不远了。这里的春天来得特别早,因此我可能会提前出发。我不应该轻率行事,你是非常清楚我的性格的,如果我身上还肩负着别人的安全的话,我一定会考虑得非常审慎和周全。

我对这次探险期待的心情无以言表。我无法向你表述在我准备出发时,那种令人战栗不已的喜忧参半的心情。

我打算前往的是一片前人从未进入过的区域,即所谓的"雪虐风饕的土地"。但是我决不会捕杀信天翁的,因此你不要为我的安全担心,以为我会像《老水手之歌》里的那个倒霉水手一样疲惫、悲惨地回到你的身边。

这个比喻一定会令你发笑吧,但是我要向你吐露一个秘密。我常认为,正是因为当代诗人最怪诞奇诡的诗篇,才令我对危险而又神秘莫测的大海充满巨大的热情。在我灵魂深处,有一种我不能理解的东西。我实际上很勤奋,愿意埋头苦干,就像一个不辞劳苦的工人一样,但除此之外,我却对奇幻的东西非常着迷,在我所有从事的事业中,都交缠着这种对奇妙事物的痴情。以至使我不愿因循普通人的生活道路,而要到苍茫的大海上,开拓无人问津的地带。

现在还是回到我们更关注的问题上吧。我还可以在我横穿汪洋大海,并经由非洲或美洲最南端的海峡回国之后,见到你吗?我现在不敢奢望成功,可也无法承受相反的情形。请你现在抓紧一切机会继续给我写信,也许在我最需要精神支持的时候,这些信就会来到我身边。我非常爱你。万一我以后杳无音讯,请永远将我珍藏在你的心中。

你亲爱的弟弟罗伯特·沃尔登

一七××年三月二十八日