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IT WAS prettily devised of AEsop, The fly sat upon the axle-tree of the chariot wheel, and said, What a dust do I raise! So are there some vain persons, that whatsoever goeth alone, or moveth upon greater means, if they have never so little hand in it, they think it is they that carry it. They that are glorious, must needs be factious; for all bravery stands upon comparisons. They must needs be violent, to make good their own vaunts. Neither can they be secret, and therefore not effectual; but according to the French proverb, Beaucoup de bruit, peu de fruit; Much bruit little fruit. Yet certainly, there is use of this quality in civil affairs. Where there is an opinion and fame to be created, either of virtue or greatness, these men are good trumpeters. Again, as Titus Livius noteth, in the case of Antiochus and the AEtolians, There are sometimes great effects, of cross lies; as if a man, that negotiates between two princes, to draw them to join in a war against the third, doth extol the forces of either of them, above measure, the one to the other: and sometimes he that deals between man and man, raiseth his own credit with both, by pretending greater interest than he hath in either. And in these and the like kinds, it often falls out, that somewhat is produced of nothing; for lies are sufficient to breed opinion, and opinion brings on substance. In militar commanders and soldiers, vain-glory is an essential point; for as iron sharpens iron, so by glory, one courage sharpeneth another. In cases of great enterprise upon charge and adventure, a composition of glorious natures, doth put life into business; and those that are of solid and sober natures, have more of the ballast, than of the sail. In fame of learning, the flight will be slow without some feathers of ostentation. Qui de contemnenda gloria libros scribunt, nomen, suum inscribunt. Socrates, Aristotle, Galen, were men full of ostentation. Certainly vain-glory helpeth to perpetuate a man’s memory; and virtue was never so beholding to human nature, as it received his due at the second hand. Neither had the fame of Cicero, Seneca, Plinius Secundus, borne her age so well, if it had not been joined with some vanity in themselves; like unto varnish, that makes ceilings not only shine but last. But all this while, when I speak of vain-glory, I mean not of that property, that Tacitus doth attribute to Mucianus; Omnium quae dixerat feceratque arte quadam ostentator: for that proceeds not of vanity, but of natural magnanimity and discretion; and in some persons, is not only comely, but gracious. For excusations, cessions, modesty itself well governed, are but arts of ostentation. And amongst those arts, there is none better than that which Plinius Secundus speaketh of, which is to be liberal of praise and commendation to others, in that, wherein a man’s self hath any perfection. For saith Pliny, very wittily, In commending another, you do yourself right; for he that you commend, is either superior to you in that you commend, or inferior. If he be inferior, if he be to be commended, you much more; if he be superior, if he be not to be commended, you much less. Glorious men are the scorn of wise men, the admiration of fools, the idols of parasites, and the slaves of their own vaunts.

  “苍蝇坐在战车底轮轴上说道,我扬起了多少尘土啊”!伊索这个寓言说得实是巧妙。类此,有些个妄人,无论任何事情,或是事情自动,或由大力者推动,只要他们在其中有一点关系,他们就以为这些事情是完全依仗着他们底力量的。好夸之人一定是好党争的;因为一切的夸耀都是靠着比较的。这种人也必然是过分的,因为如此方可以支持自己种种的夸耀。他们又不能守秘密,所以他们是没有什么实际上的用处的;反之,他们是和法国底一句成语所说的一样,“声音很大,结果很小”的。然而在政事中这一种品性也是确有其用的。每逢人们需要造成一种大才或大德底名声的时候,这些人就是很好的吹鼓手。再者,如里维关于安提奥喀斯和哀陶立安人之事的话:“对双方的谎言有时是有大效的”,例如,一个人在两位君王之间交涉,想引他们联合起来向第三者作战,他就对两方面都言过其实地夸张对方底兵力;又如在两个私人之间交涉的人,他对双方都夸张他在对方的影响,结果是把他自己底声望提高了。所以在上述的以及类此的事件中,往往会由无物之中竟生有物;盖谎言足以引起意见,而意见能引起实行也。在将帅与军人方面,虚荣心乃是一种不可缺的性质;因为如同一块铁由别的铁而磨得锐利一样,由于夸张而人们底勇气就互相磨利了。在冒着资财或身体之危险的大事业中加入一种天性好夸的人可以使事务更有活力;而那些天性厚重庄肃的人则有似压舱物而不类风帆。在学问底名声方面,若没有一些夸耀底羽毛,则这种名声底飞腾是很慢的。“写《虚荣之轻视》一书的人也不反对叫自己底名字出现于题页上”。苏格拉底、亚里士多德、盖伦,都是富于夸耀性的人。虚荣心确是使一个人留名的一种助力,而才德之所受于人性的酬劳其直受于人类底好德之心者决没有受之于才德自己底努力者为多也。西塞罗、塞奈喀、小普利尼底名声若不是与这些人本身底某种虚荣心连在一起的话,也不会经久如新的;这种虚荣心就如同天花板上的一层油漆一样,它使得那天花板不但能够发亮而且能够持久。但是说了这么久,我用“虚荣”这个字眼儿的时候,却并不是指泰西塔斯说缪西阿努斯有的那种性质,所谓“他有一种能够漂亮地炫耀他底一切言行的本领”:因为这种性质并非是出自虚荣心的,而是出自天生的豪气和见识的;并且这种性质在有些人方面是不但漂亮而且优美高尚的。因为逊谢、退让与节制得宜的自谦,都不过是炫耀之术也。在这些炫耀之术中,没有比小普利尼所说的那一种更好的了,那就是在你自己所长的某方面,如果别人也有一点长处,当不吝惜地多多地赞誉称扬那人。因为普利尼说得很巧妙:“在称扬别人的时候你其实是替自己做好事;因为你所称扬的那人在那一方面若不是比你还强就是不如你。如果他是不如你,那末他既然值得称扬,你自然更加值得称扬了;如他是胜过你的,那末假如他不值得称扬的话,你就更不值得称扬了”。好炫耀的人是明哲之士所轻视的,愚蠢之人所艳羡的,谄佞之徒所奉承的,同时他们也是自己所夸耀的言语底奴隶。

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