培根散文随笔集:论世界的变迁 Of Vicissitude Of Th

2019年11月12日 英语美文 暂无评论



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Of Vicissitude Of Things
SOLOMON saith, There is no new thing upon the earth. So that as Plato had an imagination, That all knowledge was but remembrance; so Solomon giveth his sentence, That all novelty is but oblivion. Whereby you may see, that the river of Lethe runneth as well above ground as below.
There is an abstruse astrologer that saith, If it were not for two things that are constant (the one is, that the fixed stars ever stand a like distance one from another, and never come nearer together, nor go further asunder; the other, that the diurnal motion perpetually keepeth time), no individual would last one moment. Certain it is, that the mat-ter is in a perpetual flux, and never at a stay. The great winding-sheets, that bury all things in ob-livion, are two; deluges and earthquakes. As for conflagrations and great droughts, they do not merely dispeople and destroy. Phaetons car went but a day. And the three years drought in the time of Elias, was but particular, and left people alive.
As for the great burnings by lightnings, which are often in the West Indies, they are but narrow. But in the other two destructions, by deluge and earth-quake, it is further to be noted, that the remnant of people which hap to be reserved, are commonly ignorant and mountainous people, that can give no account of the time past; so that the oblivion is all one, as if none had been left. If you consider well of the people of the West Indies, it is very probable that they are a newer or a younger peo-ple, than the people of the Old World. And it is much more likely, that the destruction that hath heretofore been there, was not by earthquakes (as the Egyptian priest told Solon concerning the island of Atlantis, that it was swallowed by an earthquake), but rather that it was desolated by a particular deluge. For earthquakes are seldom in those parts. But on the other side, they have such pouring rivers, as the rivers of Asia and Africk and Europe, are but brooks to them. Their Andes, like-wise, or mountains, are far higher than those with us; whereby it seems, that the remnants of gen-eration of men, were in such a particular deluge saved. As for the observation that Machiavel hath, that the jealousy of sects, doth much extinguish the memory of things; traducing Gregory the Great, that he did what in him lay, to extinguish all heathen antiquities; I do not find that those zeals do any great effects, nor last long; as it ap-peared in the succession of Sabinian, who did revive the former antiquities. The vicissitude of mutations in the superior globe, are no fit matter for this present argument.
It may be, Platos great year, if the world should last so long, would have some effect; not in renew-ing the state of like individuals (for that is the fume of those, that conceive the celestial bodies have more accurate influences upon these things below, than indeed they have), but in gross. Comets, out of question, have likewise power and effect, over the gross and mass of things; but they are rather gazed upon, and waited upon in their journey, than wisely observed in their effects; specially in, their respective effects; that is, what kind of comet, for magnitude, color, version of the beams, plac-ing in the reign of heaven, or lasting, produceth what kind of effects.
There is a toy which I have heard, and I would not have it given over, but waited upon a little. They say it is observed in the Low Countries (I know not in what part) that every five and thirty years, the same kind and suit of years and weath-ers come about again; as great frosts, great wet, great droughts, warm winters, summers with little heat, and the like; and they call it the Prime. It is a thing I do the rather mention, because, comput-ing backwards, I have found some concurrence.
But to leave these points of nature, and to come to men. The greatest vicissitude of things amongst men, is the vicissitude of sects and religions. For those orbs rule in mens minds most. The true re-ligion is built upon the rock; the rest are tossed, upon the waves of time. To speak, therefore, of the causes of new sects; and to give some counsel con-cerning them, as far as the weakness of human judgment can give stay, to so great revolutions.
When the religion formerly received, is rent by discords; and when the holiness of the professors of religion, is decayed and full of scandal; and withal the times be stupid, ignorant, and bar-barous; you may doubt the springing up of a new sect; if then also, there should arise any extrava-gant and strange spirit, to make himself author thereof. All which points held, when Mahomet published his law. If a new sect have not two prop-erties, fear it not; for it will not spread. The one is the supplanting, or the opposing, of authority es-tablished; for nothing is more popular than that. The other is the giving license to pleasures, and a voluptuous life. For as for speculative heresies (such as were in ancient times the Arians, and now the Armenians), though they work mightily upon mens wits, yet they do not produce any great al-terations in states; except it be by the help of civil occasions. There be three manner of plantations of new sects. By the power of signs and miracles; by the eloquence, and wisdom, of speech and persua-sion; and by the sword. For martyrdoms, I reckon them amongst miracles; because they seem to ex-ceed the strength of human nature: and I may do the like, of superlative and admirable holiness of life. Surely there is no better way, to stop the rising of new sects and schisms, than to reform abuses; to compound the smaller differences; to proceed mildly, and not with sanguinary persecutions; and rather to take off the principal authors by win-ning and advancing them, than to enrage them by violence and bitterness.
The changes and vicissitude in wars are many; but chiefly in three things; in the seats or stages of the war; in the weapons; and in the manner of the conduct. Wars, in ancient time, seemed more to move from east to west; for the Persians, Assyrians, Arabians, Tartars (which were the invaders) were all eastern people. It is true, the Gauls were west-ern; but we read but of two incursions of theirs: the one to Gallo-Grecia, the other to Rome. But east and west have no certain points of heaven; and no more have the wars, either from the east or west, any certainty of observation. But north and south are fixed; and it hath seldom or never been seen that the far southern people have invaded the northern, but contrariwise. Whereby it is manifest that the northern tract of the world, is in nature the more martial region: be it in respect of the stars of that hemisphere; or of the great continents that are upon the north, whereas the south part, for aught that is known, is almost all sea; or (which is most apparent) of the cold of the northern parts, which is that which, without aid of discipline, doth make the bodies hardest, and the courages warmest.
Upon the breaking and shivering of a great state and empire, you may be sure to have wars. For great empires, while they stand, do enervate and destroy the forces of the natives which they have subdued, resting upon their own protecting forces; and then when they fail also, all goes to ruin, and they become a prey. So was it in the decay of the Roman empire; and likewise in the empire of Almaigne, after Charles the Great, every bird tak-ing a feather; and were not unlike to befall to Spain, if it should break. The great accessions and unions of kingdoms, do likewise stir up wars; for when a state grows to an over-power, it is like a great flood, that will be sure to overflow. As it hath been seen in the states of Rome, Turkey, Spain, and others. Look when the world hath fewest bar-barous peoples, but such as commonly will not marry or generate, except they know means to live (as it is almost everywhere at this day, except Tar-tary), there is no danger of inundations of people; but when there be great shoals of people, which go on to populate, without foreseeing means of life and sustentation, it is of necessity that once in an age or two, they discharge a portion of their people upon other nations; which the ancient northern people were wont to do by lot; casting lots what part should stay at home, and what should seek their fortunes. When a warlike state grows soft and effeminate, they may be sure of a war. For com-monly such states are grownm rich in the time of their degenerating; and so the prey inviteth, and their decay in valor, encourageth a war.
大国或帝国破裂瓦解之际,无疑是战争爆发之时。因为当伟大帝国雄踞天下,肯定要依靠自己的防卫力量,削弱和摧毁被它臣服的当地武装;等到帝国衰落, 土崩瓦解,,它也变成被掠夺的猎物。罗马帝国的衰落就是这样;加洛林帝国在查理大帝之后同样也分崩离析(或译“作鸟兽散”)。如果西班牙将分裂,也难免是同样的命运。王国之间的兼并和联合同样也会挑起战争。因为一个国家变得过分强大(或译“变成超级大国”),就一定会像洪水,泛滥成灾。罗马、土耳其、西班牙、以及其他国家也见到这种情况。
As for the weapons, it hardly falleth under rule and observation: yet we see even they, have re-turns and vicissitudes. For certain it is, that ord-nance was known in the city of the Oxidrakes in India; and was that, which the Macedonians called thunder and lightning, and magic. And it is well known that the use of ordnance, hath been in China above two thousand years. The conditions of weapons, and their improvement, are; First, the fetching afar off; for that outruns the danger; as it is seen in ordnance and muskets. Secondly, the strength of the percussion; wherein likewise ord-nance do exceed all arietations and ancient inven-tions. The third is, the commodious use of them; as that they may serve in all weathers; that the car-riage may be light and manageable; and the like.
For the conduct of the war: at the first, men rested extremely upon number: they did put the wars likewise upon main force and valor; pointing days for pitched fields, and so trying it out upon an even match and they were more ignorant in ranging and arraying their battles. After, they grew to rest upon number rather competent, than vast; they grew to advantages of place, cunning diversions, and the like: and they grew more skil-ful in the ordering of their battles.
In the youth of a state, arms do flourish; in the middle age of a state, learning; and then both of them together for a time; in the declining age of a state, mechanical arts and merchandize. Learning hath his infancy, when it is but beginning and almost childish; then his youth, when it is luxuri-ant and juvenile; then his strength of years, when it is solid and reduced; and lastly, his old age, when it waxeth dry and exhaust. But it is not good to look too long upon these turning wheels of vicissitude, lest we become giddy. As for the philology of them, that is but a circle of tales, and therefore not fit for this writing.
国家有自己的青年、中年、壮年和晚年。在青年扩军备,在中年繁荣学术文化;文武昌盛的壮年之后是衰落的晚年,工业科技和商业贸易发达。学术文化也有自己的童年,如人生开始,幼稚可笑;然后是青年,血气方刚,繁荣成熟;然后是壮年,年富力强,但锐气日减;最后是老年,干瘦枯萎,精力衰竭。但我们不宜过久地注视世界这些转动的车轮,以免头晕眼花。至于语言学和文献学的做法,只能引出一系列传说,因此不适合本文。 内容来自美文网