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The Delights of Books

书海乐无穷

Sir John Lubbock

约翰·拉伯克爵士

Books are to mankind what memory is to the individual. They contain the history of our race, the discoveries we have made, the accumulated knowledge and experience of ages; they picture for us the marvels and beauties of nature; help us in our difficulties, comfort us in sorrow and in suffering, change hours of weariness into moments of delight, store our minds with ideas, fill them with good and happy thoughts, and lift us out of and above ourselves.

书籍之于人类正如记忆之于个人。书籍包含我们种族的历史、作出的发现,以及世世代代积累的知识与经验;书籍为我们描绘大自然的奇观美景;帮助我们去克服重重难关,安抚我们的悲伤与苦难,把消沉时光化成欢乐时刻,用观念充实我们的头脑,让心灵充满美好愉悦的思绪,让我们走出自我,并且超越自我。

There is an Oriental story of two men: one was a king, who every night dreamt he was a beggar; the other was a beggar, who every night dreamt he was a prince and lived in a palace. I am not sure that the king had very much the best of it. Imagination is sometimes more vivid than reality. But, however this may be, when we read we may not only (if we wish it) be kings and live in palaces, but, what is far better, we may transport ourselves to the mountains or the seashore, and visit the most beautiful parts of the earth, without fatigue, inconvenience, or expense.

有个东方故事,讲述了两个人:一个是国王,每晚梦到自己是乞丐;另一个是乞丐,每晚梦到自己是王子,生活在宫殿中。我不清楚国王胜过乞丐几分。有时想象比现实更生动逼真。然而,无论是否如此,我们读书时,不仅(如果希望如此)可以是宫中国王,而且更妙的是,我们可攀登高山或漫步海滩,饱览地球最美的风景,不会疲劳,没有麻烦,也无需花费。

Many of those who have had, as we say, all that this world can give, have yet told us they owed much of their purest happiness to books. Ascham, in The Schoolmaster, tells a touching story of his last visit to Lady Jane Grey. He found her sitting in an oriel window reading Plato's beautiful account of the death of Socrates. Her father and mother were hunting in the park, the hounds were in full cry and their voices came in through the open window. He expressed his surprise that she had not joined them. But, said she, wist that all their pleasure in the park is but a shadow to the pleasure I find in Plato.

比如,许多人已应有尽有,却对我们说,他们最纯粹的幸福大多要归功于书籍。阿斯克姆在《教师》中讲述了他最后一次去拜访简·格雷小姐的感人故事。他看到她坐在凸窗下,阅读柏拉图那篇讲苏格拉底之死的精彩文章。当时,她父母在园中狩猎,窗外传来猎犬叫声,而她并没有参与其中,这令他感到十分惊讶。她说:“与我从柏拉图书中体验的乐趣相比,他们园中所有乐趣不过是一个幻影。”

Macaulay had wealth and fame, rank and power, and yet he tells us in his biography that he owed the happiest hours of his life to books. In a charming letter to a little girl, he says: "Thank you for your very pretty letter. I am always glad to make my little girl happy, and nothing pleases me so much as to see that she likes books, for when she is as old as I am, she will find that they are better than all the tarts and cakes, toys and plays, and sights in the world. If any one would make me the greatest king that ever lived, with palaces and gardens and fine dinners, and wines and coaches, and beautiful clothes, and hundreds of servants, on condition that I should not read books. I would not be a king. I would rather be a poor man in a garret with plenty of books than a king who did not love reading."

麦考利拥有财富与名望,地位与权力,可他在自传中告诉我们,他一生中最快乐的时光要归功于书籍。他给一个姑娘写了一封饶有情趣的信:“谢谢你很漂亮的来信。我总乐意让我的小姑娘快乐,我最高兴的莫过于知道她喜欢读书,因为当她到了我这个年龄,就会发现,书籍要胜过世间一切馅饼和糕点、玩具和游戏,以及风景名胜。如果谁让我做有史以来最伟大的国王,拥有宫殿、花园、美味佳肴,美酒马车、漂亮衣裳,以及几百奴仆,但条件是不要我读书,那么我宁愿不做国王。我宁愿做一个住在藏书阁的穷人,也不愿做一个不爱读书的国王。”

Books, indeed, endow us with a whole enchanted palace of thoughts. There is a wider prospect, says Jean Paul Richter, from Parnassus than from a throne. In one way they give us an even more vivid idea than the actual reality, just as reflections are often more beautiful than real nature. "All mirrors," says George Macdonald. "The commonest room is a room in a poem when I look in the glass."

的确,书籍赐予我们一座思想宫殿,令人心醉神迷。里希特尔说:站在帕纳塞斯山上,比坐在王座上视野更广阔。在某种程度上,书籍给予我们的观念,甚至比现实更栩栩如生,正如倒影往往比实物更加美丽。“万物皆有镜像,” 麦克唐纳说,“最寻常的房子,其镜像也是诗意盎然的房子。”

Precious and priceless are the blessings which the books scatter around our daily paths. We walk, in imagination, with the sublime and enchanting regions.

在我们日常小径周围,书籍撒满珍贵无价的祝福。凭借奇思异想,我们走遍崇山峻岭。

Without stirring from our firesides we may roam to the most remote regions of the earth, or soar into realms where Spenser's shapes of unearthly beauty flock to meet us, where Milton's angels peal in our ears the choral hymns of Paradise. Science, art, literature, philosophy, -- all that man has thought, all that man has done, -- the experience that has been bought with the sufferings of a hundred generations, -- all are garnered up for us in the world of books.

无须起身离开火炉,我们就可漫游天涯海角,或是翱翔于斯宾塞笔下的王国,那里仙女们成群结队来欢迎我们,或是弥尔顿的天堂,那里我们欣赏天使们合唱乐园颂歌。科学、艺术、文学、哲学――人类一切所思所为――历经百代磨难换来的经验――这一切全都为我们储藏在书海中。