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Chapter 31

ON our arrival in Denmark, we found the king and queen of that country elevated in two arm-chairs on a kitchen-table, holding a Court. The whole of the Danish nobility were in attendance; consisting of a noble boy in the wash-leather boots of a gigantic ancestor, a venerable Peer with a dirty face who seemed to have risen from the people late in life, and the Danish chivalry with a comb in its hair and a pair of white silk legs, and presenting on the whole a feminine appearance. My gifted townsman stood gloomily apart, with folded arms, and I could have wished that his curls and forehead had been more probable.
Several curious little circumstances transpired as the action proceeded. The late king of the country not only appeared to have been troubled with a cough at the time of his decease, but to have taken it with him to the tomb, and to have brought it back. The royal phantom also carried a ghostly manuscript round its truncheon, to which it had the appearance of occasionally referring, and that, too, with an air of anxiety and a tendency to lose the place of reference which were suggestive of a state of mortality. It was this, I conceive, which led to the Shade's being advised by the gallery to `turn over!' - a recommendation which it took extremely ill. It was likewise to be noted of this majestic spirit that whereas it always appeared with an air of having been out a long time and walked an immense distance, it perceptibly came from a closely contiguous wall. This occasioned its terrors to be received derisively. The Queen of Denmark, a very buxom lady, though no doubt historically brazen, was considered by the public to have too much brass about her; her chin being attached to her diadem by a broad band of that metal (as if she had a gorgeous toothache), her waist being encircled by another, and each of her arms by another, so that she was openly mentioned as `the kettledrum.' The noble boy in the ancestral boots, was inconsistent; representing himself, as it were in one breath, as an able seaman, a strolling actor, a grave-digger, a clergyman, and a person of the utmost importance at a Court fencing-match, on the authority of whose practised eye and nice discrimination the finest strokes were judged. This gradually led to a want of toleration for him, and even - on his being detected in holy orders, and declining to perform the funeral service - to the general indignation taking the form of nuts. Lastly, Ophelia was a prey to such slow musical madness, that when, in course of time, she had taken off her white muslin scarf, folded it up, and buried it, a sulky man who had been long cooling his impatient nose against an iron bar in the front row of the gallery, growled, `Now the baby's put to bed let's have supper!' Which, to say the least of it, was out of keeping.

Upon my unfortunate townsman all these incidents accumulated with playful effect. Whenever that undecided Prince had to ask a question or state a doubt, the public helped him out with it. As for example; on the question whether 'twas nobler in the mind to suffer, some roared yes, and some no, and some inclining to both opinions said `toss up for it;' and quite a Debating Society arose. When he asked what should such fellows as he do crawling between earth and heaven, he was encouraged with loud cries of `Hear, hear!' When he appeared with his stocking disordered (its disorder expressed, according to usage, by one very neat fold in the top, which I suppose to be always got up with a flat iron), a conversation took place in the gallery respecting the paleness of his leg, and whether it was occasioned by the turn the ghost had given him. On his taking the recorders - very like a little black flute that had just been played in the orchestra and handed out at the door - he was called upon unanimously for Rule Britannia. When he recommended the player not to saw the air thus, the sulky man said, `And don't you do it, neither; you're a deal worse than him!' And I grieve to add that peals of laughter greeted Mr Wopsle on every one of these occasions.

But his greatest trials were in the churchyard: which had the appearance of a primeval forest, with a kind of small ecclesiastical wash-house on one side, and a turnpike gate on the other. Mr Wopsle in a comprehensive black cloak, being descried entering at the turnpike, the gravedigger was admonished in a friendly way, `Look out! Here's the undertaker a coming, to see how you're a getting on with your work!' I believe it is well known in a constitutional country that Mr Wopsle could not possibly have returned the skull, after moralizing over it, without dusting his fingers on a white napkin taken from his breast; but even that innocent and indispensable action did not pass without the comment `Wai-ter!' The arrival of the body for interment (in an empty black box with the lid tumbling open), was the signal for a general joy which was much enhanced by the discovery, among the bearers, of an individual obnoxious to identification. The joy attended Mr Wopsle through his struggle with Laertes on the brink of the orchestra and the grave, and slackened no more until he had tumbled the king off the kitchen-table, and had died by inches from the ankles upward.

We had made some pale efforts in the beginning to applaud Mr Wopsle; but they were too hopeless to be persisted in. Therefore we had sat, feeling keenly for him, but laughing, nevertheless, from ear to ear. I laughed in spite of myself all the time, the whole thing was so droll; and yet I had a latent impression that there was something decidedly fine in Mr Wopsle's elocution - not for old associations' sake, I am afraid, but because it was very slow, very dreary, very up-hill and down-hill, and very unlike any way in which any man in any natural circumstances of life or death ever expressed himself about anything. When the tragedy was over, and he had been called for and hooted, I said to Herbert, `Let us go at once, or perhaps we shall meet him.'

We made all the haste we could down-stairs, but we were not quick enough either. Standing at the door was a Jewish man with an unnatural heavy smear of eyebrow, who caught my eyes as we advanced, and said, when we came up with him:

`Mr Pip and friend?'

Identity of Mr Pip and friend confessed.

`Mr Waldengarver?,' said the man, `would be glad to have the honour.'

`Waldengarver?' I repeated - when Herbert murmured in my ear, `Probably Wopsle.'

`Oh!' said I. `Yes. Shall we follow you?'

`A few steps, please.' When we were in a side alley, he turned and asked, `How did you think he looked? - I dressed him.'

I don't know what he had looked like, except a funeral; with the addition of a large Danish sun or star hanging round his neck by a blue ribbon, that had given him the appearance of being insured in some extraordinary Fire Office. But I said he had looked very nice.

`When he come to the grave,' said our conductor, `he showed his cloak beautiful. But, judging from the wing, it looked to me that when he see the ghost in the queen's apartment, he might have made more of his stockings.'

I modestly assented, and we all fell through a little dirty swing door, into a sort of hot packing-case immediately behind it. Here Mr Wopsle was divesting himself of his Danish garments, and here there was just room for us to look at him over one another's shoulders, by keeping the packing-case door, or lid, wide open.

`Gentlemen,' said Mr Wopsle, `I am proud to see you. I hope, Mr Pip, you will excuse my sending round. I had the happiness to know you in former times, and the Drama has ever had a claim which has ever been acknowledged, on the noble and the affluent.'

Meanwhile, Mr Waldengarver, in a frightful perspiration, was trying to get himself out of his princely sables.

`Skin the stockings off, Mr Waldengarver,' said the owner of that property, `or you'll bust 'em. Bust 'em, and you'll bust five-and-thirty shillings. Shakspeare never was complimented with a finer pair. Keep quiet in your chair now, and leave 'em to me.'

With that, he went upon his knees, and began to flay his victim; who, on the first stocking coming off, would certainly have fallen over backward with his chair, but for there being no room to fall anyhow.

I had been afraid until then to say a word about the play. But then, Mr Waldengarver looked up at us complacently, and said:

`Gentlemen, how did it seem to you, to go, in front?'

Herbert said from behind (at the same time poking me), `capitally.' So I said `capitally.'

`How did you like my reading of the character, gentlemen?' said Mr Waldengarver, almost, if not quite, with patronage.

Herbert said from behind (again poking me), `massive and concrete.' So I said boldly, as if I had originated it, and must beg to insist upon it, `massive and concrete.'

`I am glad to have your approbation, gentlemen,' said Mr Waldengarver, with an air of dignity, in spite of his being ground against the wall at the time, and holding on by the seat of the chair.

`But I'll tell you one thing, Mr Waldengarver,' said the man who was on his knees, `in which you're out in your reading. Now mind! I don't care who says contrairy; I tell you so. You're out in your reading of Hamlet when you get your legs in profile. The last Hamlet as I dressed, made the same mistakes in his reading at rehearsal, till I got him to put a large red wafer on each of his shins, and then at that rehearsal (which was the last) I went in front, sir, to the back of the pit, and whenever his reading brought him into profile, I called out "I don't see no wafers!" And at night his reading was lovely.'

Mr Waldengarver smiled at me, as much as to say `a faithful dependent - I overlook his folly;' and then said aloud, `My view is a little classic and thoughtful for them here; but they will improve, they will improve.'

Herbert and I said together, Oh, no doubt they would improve.

`Did you observe, gentlemen,' said Mr Waldengarver, `that there was a man in the gallery who endeavoured to cast derision on the service - I mean, the representation?'

We basely replied that we rather thought we had noticed such a man. I added, `He was drunk, no doubt.'

`Oh dear no, sir,' said Mr Wopsle, `not drunk. His employer would see to that, sir. His employer would not allow him to be drunk.'

`You know his employer?' said I.

Mr Wopsle shut his eyes, and opened them again; performing both ceremonies very slowly. `You must have observed, gentlemen,' said he, `an ignorant and a blatant ass, with a rasping throat and a countenance expressive of low malignity, who went through - I will not say sustained - the r?le (if I may use a French expression) of Claudius King of Denmark. That is his employer, gentlemen. Such is the profession!'

Without distinctly knowing whether I should have been more sorry for Mr Wopsle if he had been in despair, I was so sorry for him as it was, that I took the opportunity of his turning round to have his braces put on - which jostled us out at the doorway - to ask Herbert what he thought of having him home to supper? Herbert said he thought it would be kind to do so; therefore I invited him, and he went to Barnard's with us, wrapped up to the eyes, and we did our best for him, and he sat until two o'clock in the morning, reviewing his success and developing his plans. I forget in detail what they were, but I have a general recollection that he was to begin with reviving the Drama, and to end with crushing it; inasmuch as his decease would leave it utterly bereft and without a chance or hope.

Miserably I went to bed after all, and miserably thought of Estella, and miserably dreamed that my expectations were all cancelled, and that I had to give my hand in marriage to Herbert's Clara, or play Hamlet to Miss Havisham's Ghost, before twenty thousand people, without knowing twenty words of it.

 

我们一进戏院便等于到了丹麦,只见这个国家的国王和王后都高高地坐在两张扶手椅里,扶手椅就放在厨房用的菜桌上,正在执掌朝政。丹麦的王公大臣文武百官正在列队参拜,其中有位青年贵族穿了一双大软皮靴,是他某个巨人祖先留下来的;另一位很受人尊敬的贵族有着一副肮脏不堪的脸,好像他晚年才得以从平民擢升为贵族;还有一位丹麦的豪侠骑士,在头发丛中插了一把梳子,穿了一双白色的长统丝袜,整个形象看上去简直像个女人。我那位有天才的同乡忧郁地站在旁边,交叉着双臂,我看他的鬈发和额角真该化妆得像一些才是。

随着场景更换,也就出现了一些奇里古怪的事儿。这个国家的先王看上去不仅是在临死时患了咳嗽的毛病,还把这个毛病带进了坟墓,现在又把这个毛病从坟墓带回了人世。这位先王的鬼魂还带着一篇剧本,卷在权杖上,需要时就得翻一下,而且他那副样子,越着急要翻的时候,就越找不到要翻的地方,倒表现出他还是个活人的形态。我想,正是这个原因,坐在顶层楼座上的戏迷们才对这位幽灵大声提示:“你翻呀,你翻呀!”这个提示并不坏,可是却惹怒了这位鬼魂。这位尊贵的灵魂一出场就要表现出一种气概,引起观众的注意,好像他已经云游了好长一段时间,走了好长一段路程,其实大家都看到他是从隔壁的墙后面出来的。这个鬼魂扮演出来的恐惧形状都反被大家看成了笑料。再看这位丹麦王后,是一位丰满壮实的女人,用历史眼光看,她的面皮和青铜差不多,不过观众认为她身上的铜似乎也太多了一些——下巴颏下系着一根连在王冠上的宽铜带子,好像她患了高贵的牙病病;腰间围着另一根宽铜带子;在两只胳膊上也套了两只铜圈子,所以观众干脆公开地叫她为一只铜鼓。那位脚登祖宗留下的;日皮靴的青年贵族扮演得变化多端,而且说变就变,一会儿是能干的海员,一会儿又成为游方的戏子,一会儿是个掘墓人,一会儿又成了位教师,然后又变作宫廷中比试剑术的最重要人物,看他那双眼睛,动来动去,凭着精明的目光来判定一招一式一刺一击。不过慢慢地,观众对他难以容忍了,特别是他扮成神职教士出场时,拒绝为奥菲莉娅的遗体祷告,激起了公众的愤怒,所以台下纷纷向他投掷硬果壳。至于奥菲莉妮在这个舞台上也成了牺牲品,她发疯时的音乐伴奏特别慢,等她把她的白纱巾从头上取下来,折折好,埋人上中,早有一个闷闷不乐的男观众对演出不耐烦了,他原来一直把鼻子贴在顶层楼座第一排的铁栏杆上,想按捺住自己,却终于大声叫道:“喂,吃奶的娃娃都睡觉了,我们该吃晚饭了!”这一声吆喝无论如何是件糟糕的事。

等到我那位可怜的同乡出场时,一件接一件的洋相已积聚成了哄闹的效果。每逢这位犹豫不决、意志不坚的王子提出一个问题或一处疑点时,观众就在台下帮他出主意,壮声势。比如,当他表演那段著名的独白,说到生存或毁灭时,自问究竟该忍受命运的毒箭,还是挺身反抗人世的苦难,不知两种行为哪一种更高贵时,台下响成一片,有说该忍受的,有说不该的,还有两者都可以的,高叫什么“掷铜钱来决定吧”,于是一片议论之声,七嘴八舌。又如,当他自问道像他这样的家伙,匍匐于天地之间,有什么用处时,台下又轰鸣般地响起“对啊,对啊!”的鼓动声。当他又出现在台上,扮作所穿的长抹掉了下来的样子(根据通常做法,就是把袜子的上方折起来,一般用熨斗烫一下,表示袜子的脱落状),顶层楼座上又响起一片议论,说这条腿苍白得很,莫不是鬼魂出现把他的腿吓白的。当他在台上接过八孔竖笛——很像是刚才交响乐队演奏用的那一支小黑笛,从门口递进来的——台下的观众又叫喊着要他演奏一曲《统治不列颠》。当他告诉被叫进王宫的戏子们不要老是把手在空中挥摇时,那个刚才闷闷不乐的男观众又叫了起来:“我看你不要再胡说八道了,你比他还糟糕呢!”我不得不伤心地说,每逢遇到这种情况,沃甫赛先生总是被大家哄笑一顿。

可是更大的考验是在墓地的一场中。场景像是一处原始森林,一边是一间教堂的洗衣房,另一边是一扇栅栏门。沃甫赛先生出场时,穿了一件宽大的黑色斗篷。观众一看到他在栅栏门露面时,便怀着一片好意对掘墓人提出忠告:“你们要当心!那个殡仪馆的家伙来了,来检查你们干的活儿了!”唉,在我们这样一个已经立宪的国度里,众所周知沃甫赛先生在对着骷髅说教了一番、把骷髅丢回原处后,是不能不从胸口掏出一块白餐巾擦擦手上的灰尘的。这一举动无可非难,也必不可少,然而还是引起了台下的不满,竟然叫起来:“茶——房!”遗体运来安葬时装遗体的是个空黑箱子,上面的盖子被晃开了又引起一阵哄笑,特别当观众发现在抬棺木的人中居然又有那位令人讨厌的青年贵族,哄笑声更是一阵高过一阵。在交响乐队旁边,紧靠着墓地的地方,沃甫赛先生正在演和雷欧提斯决斗那场戏,几乎每一个动作都引得观众发笑,直到他一剑把国王从大菜桌上刺翻在地,然后他本人也慢慢地咽气为止,观众的哄笑取乐之声没有间断过。

在演出刚开始时,我们曾出微力,为沃甫赛先生喝彩助威,不过形势于此不利,便无法再坚持下去。于是我们只有坐在那里,对他留一份同情的心,但事实上我们也不得不笑,而且时时笑得合不上嘴。我甚至笑得忘了形,因为整个演出实在太滑稽奇妙了。在我内心有一个印象,沃甫赛先生所朗诵的台词有时的确很不错,当然我夸奖他并非我们是老相识的缘故,而是我以为,他把台词念得很慢,很凄凉,有时像上山一样直人云霄,有时又像下山一样直落千丈,这是任何一个人在生死关键时刻表现任何情感时都做不到的。最后这出悲剧终于结束,大家正冲他又哄又闹,我对赫伯特说道:“我们快走吧,免得碰到他。”

我们匆匆忙忙走下楼梯,但也没法走快,因为人太多。一到门口就看到一位犹太人模样的男子站在那里,一双浓眉真像抹上去的一样。我的眼睛早就看到了他,等我们走过时,他便对我们说道:

“你们是皮普先生及其朋友吗?”

皮普先生和他的朋友不得不说正是他们二人。

此人对我们说:“沃登加弗尔先生希望能有幸见见两位。”

“沃登加弗尔?”我喃喃地说着,不知是何人。这时赫伯特对我低低说道:“怕就是沃甫赛。”

我答道:“哦,说不定是的。对不起,我们跟着你去。”

“只有几步路。”我们走进一条边角小巷,他回过头来对我们说:“他的扮相如何?我是替他化妆的。”

老实说,我弄不清他的扮相怎么样,只觉得像个穿孝服的人;还有,他的颈项上有一条天蓝色的丝带,吊着一块丹麦的王徽,上面画着一个太阳或是一颗星,样子活像在火灾保险公司保过险一样。尽管如此,我还是赞扬说他的扮相可真不坏。

“他走到坟墓那边去时,”我们的这位带路人说道,”把身上的斗篷一亮出来,可多棒。不过,我从边上看过去,觉得他在王后的寝宫中看到鬼魂时,本来还可以使那双长统袜表现得更帅一些。”

我只有打个哈哈同意他的话。我们经过一扇又小又脏的弹簧门,进入一间像个小箱子式的房间,闷热得很。沃甫赛先生正在里面脱下戏装,从丹麦人再交回英国人。房间小得无法挤身人内,只有开着箱子盖式的门,一个从另一个的肩头上欣赏他的卸装。

“两位先生,”沃甫赛先生对我们说道,“能见到两位是我莫大的荣幸。皮普先生,请你原谅我如此冒昧的邀请。一方面因为我很早就和你相熟,二方面戏剧这个东西是大家承认的,无论贵族之家还是有钱人家,都把戏剧当成风雅之事。”

这时,这位沃登加弗尔先生正拚命地脱下自己身上的王子丧胆,弄得全身是汗。

“沃登加弗尔先生,把长统袜剥下来吧,”长统袜的所有人说道,“再不脱,就要绷破了;一绷破就绷掉了三十五个先令。演莎士比亚从来就没有用过这么好的袜子。你在椅子上坐稳,让我来给你脱。”

说毕他便蹲下自己的腰身,开始为这个受害者剥长统袜。刚刚剥下了一只,这个受害者坐得不稳,便连椅子带人向后面倒下去。幸亏房间小得没有地方倒,所以椅子也倒不下去。

直到此时我一直在担心要对这出戏有所评论,可是沃登加弗尔却得意非凡地望着我们大家,说道:

“先生们,你们在台前观戏,感觉怎样?”

赫伯特从我身后说道:“好极了。”同时用手指头戳了我一下。我也依样画葫芦地说:“好极了。”

“先生们,你们看我这角色表演得如何?”这位沃登加弗尔问道,摆出的派头如果说不是十成,也有八成。

赫伯特在我身后说道:“气势宏伟,生动细致。”同时又用手指戳了我一下。所以我也胆子大了,仿佛自有独特高见,非得一鸣才行,我说:“气势宏伟,生动细致。”

“今天得到你们二位先生的嘉奖,我实在太高兴了。”沃登加弗尔用威风凛凛的神气说着,尽管这时他的背已靠在墙上,而且两只手还紧紧抓住他的坐椅。

“沃登加弗尔先生,我倒有一件事和你谈谈,”蹲下腰身的人说道,“我觉得你的演出有缺点。听我告诉你!我不担心有人会有不同意见,我反正要直言不讳。你演哈姆莱特的缺点是两条腿放偏了。上次的一个哈姆莱特也是我给化妆的,在排练时也是犯同一个错误,于是我就在他的两只脚胚骨上贴上两张大红封条。在又一次的排练时,也是最后一次彩排时,老兄,我就从正厅前座跑到后排去,一看到他表演时向着侧面,两腿放偏,便大声叫道:‘看不到红封条了!’当天晚上演出时,他的表演果然极佳。”

沃登加弗尔先生对我微微一笑,仿佛是说“这是个忠实可靠的混饭人,对于他这种信口雌黄我还是可以宽恕的”。然后,他大声地对我说:“对于这里的观众来说,我的见解古典了些,也含蓄了些;不过他们有待提高,他们有待提高。”

赫伯特和我一齐说,这是自然的,他们一定会提高的。

沃登加弗尔先生说道:“两位先生,你们有没有发现在顶层楼座里有一个人,在演出葬礼那场时一个劲儿地捣蛋,我是说在台上演出葬札那场时,他在台下一个劲儿地乱起哄。”

我们也就顺着说,好像是注意到有这么个人。我又补充说:“他喝醉了,一定喝醉了。”

“哦,先生,他是不会喝醉的,”沃甫赛先生说道,“他的雇主对他留着意呢,先生。他的雇主不会让他喝醉的。”

“你认识他的老板吗?”我问道。

沃甫赛先生闭上他的双眼,然后又睁开来,他的这两项仪式表演得慢慢悠悠。“先生们,你们一定注意到,”他说道,“有一个不学无术胡乱吼叫的蠢驴,声音沙哑,表情卑鄙奸诈。我不想说他巧妙地扮演了,而是说他巧妙地完成了丹麦国王克劳狄斯的role(角色),请原谅我用了一个法文词汇。先生,这就是他的雇主。这就是我们干的这一行!”

我说不清楚要是沃甫赛先生正处于心情沮丧的情况之下我会不会对他表示更大的同情,只是觉得此时对他是够同情的了。趁他正把背带背上,并因此把我们给挤到了门外的这一短暂机会,我便问赫伯特是不是把他请到我们那儿去吃夜宵?赫伯特说这样可以对他聊表寸心。于是我便邀请了他,他也欣然答应,和我们同往,把衣领裹到齐眼睛的地方。在旅馆里我们尽量招待他,他待在那里和我们一直谈到凌晨二时,一方面大谈他个人的成功,另一方面则是他的发展规划。他当时所讲的详情我已忘记,但有一点却记得很清楚,即随着他登上舞台,戏剧便开始振兴;而随着他离开舞台,戏剧将趋于毁灭。只要他一离开人世,戏剧便将一蹶不振,永无机会复兴。

一切结束后,我终于痛苦地上床睡觉,痛苦地思念着埃斯苔娜,痛苦地梦到我的一切所谓遗产都成为泡影,而我不得不和赫伯特的未婚妻克拉娜结婚,否则我只有扮演哈姆莱特,由赫维仙小姐扮演鬼魂,而我站在两万观众之前,连二十个词的台词也说不出来。



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