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chapter 27
Weeks had two little rooms at the back of Frau Erlin’s house, and one of them, arranged as a parlour, was comfortable enough for him to invite people to sit in. After supper, urged perhaps by the impish humour which was the despair of his friends in Cambridge, Mass., he often asked Philip and Hayward to come in for a chat. He received them with elaborate courtesy and insisted on their sitting in the only two comfortable chairs in the room. Though he did not drink himself, with a politeness of which Philip recognised the irony, he put a couple of bottles of beer at Hayward’s elbow, and he insisted on lighting matches whenever in the heat of argument Hayward’s pipe went out. At the beginning of their acquaintance Hayward, as a member of so celebrated a university, had adopted a patronising attitude towards Weeks, who was a graduate of Harvard; and when by chance the conversation turned upon the Greek tragedians, a subject upon which Hayward felt he spoke with authority, he had assumed the air that it was his part to give information rather than to exchange ideas. Weeks had listened politely, with smiling modesty, till Hayward finished; then he asked one or two insidious questions, so innocent in appearance that Hayward, not seeing into what a quandary they led him, answered blandly; Weeks made a courteous objection, then a correction of fact, after that a quotation from some little known Latin commentator, then a reference to a German authority; and the fact was disclosed that he was a scholar. With smiling ease, apologetically, Weeks tore to pieces all that Hayward had said; with elaborate civility he displayed the superficiality of his attainments. He mocked him with gentle irony. Philip could not help seeing that Hayward looked a perfect fool, and Hayward had not the sense to hold his tongue; in his irritation, his self-assurance undaunted, he attempted to argue: he made wild statements and Weeks amicably corrected them; he reasoned falsely and Weeks proved that he was absurd: Weeks confessed that he had taught Greek Literature at Harvard. Hayward gave a laugh of scorn.

‘I might have known it. Of course you read Greek like a schoolmaster,’ he said. ‘I read it like a poet.’

‘And do you find it more poetic when you don’t quite know what it means? I thought it was only in revealed religion that a mistranslation improved the sense.’

At last, having finished the beer, Hayward left Weeks’ room hot and dishevelled; with an angry gesture he said to Philip:

‘Of course the man’s a pedant. He has no real feeling for beauty. Accuracy is the virtue of clerks. It’s the spirit of the Greeks that we aim at. Weeks is like that fellow who went to hear Rubenstein and complained that he played false notes. False notes! What did they matter when he played divinely?’

Philip, not knowing how many incompetent people have found solace in these false notes, was much impressed.

Hayward could never resist the opportunity which Weeks offered him of regaining ground lost on a previous occasion, and Weeks was able with the greatest ease to draw him into a discussion. Though he could not help seeing how small his attainments were beside the American’s, his British pertinacity, his wounded vanity (perhaps they are the same thing), would not allow him to give up the struggle. Hayward seemed to take a delight in displaying his ignorance, self-satisfaction, and wrongheadedness. Whenever Hayward said something which was illogical, Weeks in a few words would show the falseness of his reasoning, pause for a moment to enjoy his triumph, and then hurry on to another subject as though Christian charity impelled him to spare the vanquished foe. Philip tried sometimes to put in something to help his friend, and Weeks gently crushed him, but so kindly, differently from the way in which he answered Hayward, that even Philip, outrageously sensitive, could not feel hurt. Now and then, losing his calm as he felt himself more and more foolish, Hayward became abusive, and only the American’s smiling politeness prevented the argument from degenerating into a quarrel. On these occasions when Hayward left Weeks’ room he muttered angrily:

‘Damned Yankee!’

That settled it. It was a perfect answer to an argument which had seemed unanswerable.

Though they began by discussing all manner of subjects in Weeks’ little room eventually the conversation always turned to religion: the theological student took a professional interest in it, and Hayward welcomed a subject in which hard facts need not disconcert him; when feeling is the gauge you can snap your angers at logic, and when your logic is weak that is very agreeable. Hayward found it difficult to explain his beliefs to Philip without a great flow of words; but it was clear (and this fell in with Philip’s idea of the natural order of things), that he had been brought up in the church by law established. Though he had now given up all idea of becoming a Roman Catholic, he still looked upon that communion with sympathy. He had much to say in its praise, and he compared favourably its gorgeous ceremonies with the simple services of the Church of England. He gave Philip Newman’s Apologia to read, and Philip, finding it very dull, nevertheless read it to the end.

‘Read it for its style, not for its matter,’ said Hayward.

He talked enthusiastically of the music at the Oratory, and said charming things about the connection between incense and the devotional spirit. Weeks listened to him with his frigid smile.

‘You think it proves the truth of Roman Catholicism that John Henry Newman wrote good English and that Cardinal Manning has a picturesque appearance?’

Hayward hinted that he had gone through much trouble with his soul. For a year he had swum in a sea of darkness. He passed his fingers through his fair, waving hair and told them that he would not for five hundred pounds endure again those agonies of mind. Fortunately he had reached calm waters at last.

‘But what do you believe?’ asked Philip, who was never satisfied with vague statements.

‘I believe in the Whole, the Good, and the Beautiful.’

Hayward with his loose large limbs and the fine carriage of his head looked very handsome when he said this, and he said it with an air.

‘Is that how you would describe your religion in a census paper?’ asked Weeks, in mild tones.

‘I hate the rigid definition: it’s so ugly, so obvious. If you like I will say that I believe in the church of the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Gladstone.’

‘That’s the Church of England,’ said Philip.

‘Oh wise young man!’ retorted Hayward, with a smile which made Philip blush, for he felt that in putting into plain words what the other had expressed in a paraphrase, he had been guilty of vulgarity. ‘I belong to the Church of England. But I love the gold and the silk which clothe the priest of Rome, and his celibacy, and the confessional, and purgatory: and in the darkness of an Italian cathedral, incense-laden and mysterious, I believe with all my heart in the miracle of the Mass. In Venice I have seen a fisherwoman come in, barefoot, throw down her basket of fish by her side, fall on her knees, and pray to the Madonna; and that I felt was the real faith, and I prayed and believed with her. But I believe also in Aphrodite and Apollo and the Great God Pan.’

He had a charming voice, and he chose his words as he spoke; he uttered them almost rhythmically. He would have gone on, but Weeks opened a second bottle of beer.

‘Let me give you something to drink.’

Hayward turned to Philip with the slightly condescending gesture which so impressed the youth.

‘Now are you satisfied?’ he asked.

Philip, somewhat bewildered, confessed that he was.

‘I’m disappointed that you didn’t add a little Buddhism,’ said Weeks. ‘And I confess I have a sort of sympathy for Mahomet; I regret that you should have left him out in the cold.’

Hayward laughed, for he was in a good humour with himself that evening, and the ring of his sentences still sounded pleasant in his ears. He emptied his glass.

‘I didn’t expect you to understand me,’ he answered. ‘With your cold American intelligence you can only adopt the critical attitude. Emerson and all that sort of thing. But what is criticism? Criticism is purely destructive; anyone can destroy, but not everyone can build up. You are a pedant, my dear fellow. The important thing is to construct: I am constructive; I am a poet.’

Weeks looked at him with eyes which seemed at the same time to be quite grave and yet to be smiling brightly.

‘I think, if you don’t mind my saying so, you’re a little drunk.’

‘Nothing to speak of,’ answered Hayward cheerfully. ‘And not enough for me to be unable to overwhelm you in argument. But come, I have unbosomed my soul; now tell us what your religion is.’

Weeks put his head on one side so that he looked like a sparrow on a perch.

‘I’ve been trying to find that out for years. I think I’m a Unitarian.’

‘But that’s a dissenter,’ said Philip.

He could not imagine why they both burst into laughter, Hayward uproariously, and Weeks with a funny chuckle.

‘And in England dissenters aren’t gentlemen, are they?’ asked Weeks.

‘Well, if you ask me point-blank, they’re not,’ replied Philip rather crossly.

He hated being laughed at, and they laughed again.

‘And will you tell me what a gentleman is?’ asked Weeks.

‘Oh, I don’t know; everyone knows what it is.’

‘Are you a gentleman?’

No doubt had ever crossed Philip’s mind on the subject, but he knew it was not a thing to state of oneself.

‘If a man tells you he’s a gentleman you can bet your boots he isn’t,’ he retorted.

‘Am I a gentleman?’

Philip’s truthfulness made it difficult for him to answer, but he was naturally polite.

‘Oh, well, you’re different,’ he said. ‘You’re American, aren’t you?’

‘I suppose we may take it that only Englishmen are gentlemen,’ said Weeks gravely.

Philip did not contradict him.

‘Couldn’t you give me a few more particulars?’ asked Weeks.

Philip reddened, but, growing angry, did not care if he made himself ridiculous.

‘I can give you plenty’ He remembered his uncle’s saying that it took three generations to make a gentleman: it was a companion proverb to the silk purse and the sow’s ear. ‘First of all he’s the son of a gentleman, and he’s been to a public school, and to Oxford or Cambridge.’

‘Edinburgh wouldn’t do, I suppose?’ asked Weeks.

‘And he talks English like a gentleman, and he wears the right sort of things, and if he’s a gentleman he can always tell if another chap’s a gentleman.’

It seemed rather lame to Philip as he went on, but there it was: that was what he meant by the word, and everyone he had ever known had meant that too.

‘It is evident to me that I am not a gentleman,’ said Weeks. ‘I don’t see why you should have been so surprised because I was a dissenter.’

‘I don’t quite know what a Unitarian is,’ said Philip.

Weeks in his odd way again put his head on one side: you almost expected him to twitter.

‘A Unitarian very earnestly disbelieves in almost everything that anybody else believes, and he has a very lively sustaining faith in he doesn’t quite know what.’

‘I don’t see why you should make fun of me,’ said Philip. ‘I really want to know.’

‘My dear friend, I’m not making fun of you. I have arrived at that definition after years of great labour and the most anxious, nerve-racking study.’

When Philip and Hayward got up to go, Weeks handed Philip a little book in a paper cover.

‘I suppose you can read French pretty well by now. I wonder if this would amuse you.’

Philip thanked him and, taking the book, looked at the title. It was Renan’s Vie de Jesus.

 

第二十七章

维克斯在欧林夫人家的后屋租了两个小房间,其中一间布置成会客室,用来接待客人,倒也够宽敞的。维克斯生性爱淘气,他在麻省坎布里奇的一些朋友也拿他一点没办法。现在,也许是由于这种脾气在作怪,他常常一吃过晚餐就邀请菲利普和海沃德上他屋里来闲聊几句。他礼数周全地接待他们,一定要他们在屋里绝无仅有的两张比较舒服的椅子里坐下。他自己点酒不沾,却把几瓶啤酒端放在海沃德的胳膊肘旁边,在这般殷勤好客的礼仪中,菲利普不难辨别出嘲弄之意。在双方唇枪舌剑的激烈争论中,每当海沃德的烟斗熄掉的时候,维克斯就坚持要替他划火柴点火。他们刚结识上的时候,海沃德作为名扬四海的最高学府中的一员,在哈佛大学毕业生维克斯面前摆出一副降尊纤贵的姿态。谈话之中,话锋偶尔转到希腊悲剧作家身上,海沃德自觉得在这个题目上尽可以发表一通权威性评论,于是摆出一副指点迷津非他莫属的架势,不容对方插嘴发表意见。维克斯脸带微笑,虚怀若谷地在一旁洗耳恭听,直到海沃德的高论发表完了,他才提出一两个表面听上去相当幼稚、暗中却打了埋伏的问题,海沃德不知深浅,不假思索地回答了,结果当然中了圈套。维克斯先生彬彬有礼地表示异议,接着纠正了一个事实,然后又援引某个不见经传的拉工民族注释家的一段注释,再加上一句德国某权威的精辟论断--情况明摆着:他是个精通古典文学的学者。他就这么面带微笑,从容不迫,连连表示歉意,结果却把海沃德的全部立论批驳得体无完肤。他既揭示了海沃德学识的肤浅,又丝毫不失礼仪。他温和委婉地挖苦了海沃德几句。菲利普不能不看到海沃德的那副十足傻相;他本人刚愎自用,不知进退,仍在气急败坏地力图狡辩。他信口开河,妄加评论,维克斯则在一旁和颜悦色地加以纠正;他理屈词穷却硬要强词夺理,维克斯又证明他这么做是多么荒谬。最后,维克斯说了实话,他曾在哈佛大学教过希腊文学。海沃德对此报以轻蔑的一笑。

"这一点你不说我也看得出。你当然是像学究冬烘那样啃希腊文学作品,"他说,"而我是像诗人那样来欣赏它的。"

"在你对作品原意不甚了了的情况下,你是否反倒觉得作品的诗味更浓了呢?我个人认为,只有在天启教里,错译才会使原意更加丰满呢。"

最后,海沃德喝完啤酒,离开维克斯的屋子,全身燥热,头发蓬松,他忿忿然一挥手,对菲利普说:

"不用说,这位先生是个书呆子,对于美没有丝毫真切的感受。精确是办事员的美德。我们的着眼点在于希腊文学的精髓。维克斯就好比是这么个煞风景的角色,去听鲁宾斯坦演奏钢琴,却抱怨他弹错了几个音符。弹错了几个音符!只要他演奏得出神入化,错弹几个音符又何足道哉?!"

这段议论给了菲利普很深的印象,殊不知世间有多少无能之辈正是借这种无知妄说聊以自慰呢!

海沃德屡遭败北,但他决不肯放过维克斯提供的任何机会,力图夺回前一次失掉的地盘,所以维克斯不费吹灰之力就将海沃德拉了来进行争论。尽管海沃德不会不清楚,他在这个美国人面前显得多么才疏学浅,但是出于英国人特有的那股执拗劲儿,由于自尊心受到了挫伤(也许这两者本是一码事),他不愿就此罢休。他似乎是以显示自己的无知、自满和刚愎白用为乐事呢。每当海沃德讲了一些不合逻辑的话,维克斯三言两语就点出他推理中的破绽,得意扬扬地停顿一会儿,然后匆匆转人另一个话题,似乎是基督徒的兄弟之爱促使他竟有已被击败的敌手。有时候,菲利普试图插言几句,帮他朋友解围,可是经不住维克斯轻轻一击,便溃不成军了。不过,维克斯对他的态度同对付海沃德不一样,极其温和,甚至连极度敏感的菲利普也不觉得自尊心受到挫伤。海沃德由于感到自己越来越像个傻瓜,常常沉不住气,索性破口大骂起来,幸亏那个美国人总是客客气气地堆着笑脸,才没使争论变为无谓的争吵。每当海沃德在这种情况下离开维克斯的房间,他总要气呼呼地咕哝一句:

"该死的美国佬!"

这样一切就解决了。对于某个似乎无法辩驳的论点,这句咒语就是最妙不过的回答。

他们在维克斯的那个小房间里,虽说开始讨论的是各种各样的问题,但最后总难免要转到宗教这个题目上来:神学学生出于职业上的偏爱,总是三句不离本行;而海沃德也欢迎这样的话题,因为无需列举那些使他仓皇失措的无情事实--在这方面,既然个人感受才是衡量事物的尺度,那就全不必把逻辑放在眼里,既然逻辑又是他的薄弱环节,能把它甩开岂不是正中下怀?海沃德觉得,不花费一番口舌,很难把自己的信仰同菲利普解释清楚。其实,不说也明白(因为这完全符合菲利普对人生世道的看法),海沃德一直是在国教的熏陶中成长起来的。虽然海沃德现在已经摒弃了皈依罗马天主教的念头,但对那个教派仍抱有同情。关于罗马天主教的优点,他有好多话要说。比如,他比较喜欢罗马天主教的豪华典礼,而英国国教的仪式就嫌过于简单。他给菲利普看了纽曼写的《自辩书》,菲利普觉得这本书枯燥无味,不过还是硬着头皮把它看完了。

"看这本书,是为了欣赏它的风格,而不在乎它的内容,"海沃德点拨说。

海沃德兴致勃勃地谈论着祈祷室里的音乐,并且还就焚香与心诚之问的关系,发表了一通娓娓动听的议论。维克斯静静听着,脸上挂着那惯有的一丝冷笑。

"阁下以为单凭这番高论就足以证明罗马大主教体现了宗教的真谛,证明约翰·亨利·纽曼写得一于好英语,证明红衣主教曼宁丰姿出众,是吗?"

海沃德暗示说,他的心灵饱经忧患。他曾在黑茫茫的迷海里漂泊了一年。他用手指抚弄了一下那一头金色的波浪形柔发,对他们说,即使给他五百镑钱,他也不重新经受那此精神上的痛苦折磨。值得庆幸的是,他总算安然进入了风平浪静的海域。

"那么,你究竞信仰什么呢?"菲利普问,他永远也不满足于含糊其词的说法。

"我相信--全、佳、美。"

他说这话的时候,顾长的四肢怡然舒展,再配上优雅的头部姿势,模样几显得十分潇洒、俊逸,而且吐词也颇有韵味。

"您在户口调查表里就是这么填写您的宗教信仰的?"维克斯语调温和地问。

"我就是讨厌僵死的定义:那么丑陋,那么一目了然。要是您不见怪,我得说我信奉的是惠灵顿公爵和格莱斯顿先生所信奉的那个教。"

"那就是英国国教罗,"菲利普说。

"哟,多聪明的年轻人!"海沃德回敬了一句,同时还淡淡一笑,把个菲利普羞得脸都没处搁,因为菲利普顿时意识到,自己把别人推衍性的言词用平淡如水的语言直统统地表达出来,未免有失风雅。"我属于英国国教,但是我很喜欢罗马教士身上穿戴的金线线罗,喜欢他们奉行的独身主义,喜欢教堂里的忏悔室,还喜欢洗涤有罪灵魂的炼狱。置身于意大利黑黢黢的大教堂内,沉浸在熏烟缭绕、神秘莫测的气氛之中,我心悦诚服,相信弥撒的神奇魔力。在威尼斯,我亲眼见到一位渔妇赤裸着双脚走进教堂,把鱼篓往身旁一扔,双膝下跪,向圣母马利亚祈祷。我感到这才是真正的信仰,我怀着同样的信仰,同她一道祈祷。不过,我也信奉阿芙罗狄蒂、阿波罗和伟大的潘神。"

他的声音悦耳动听,说话时字斟句酌,吐词抑扬顿挫,铿锵有力。他滔滔不绝地还想往下说,可是维克斯这时打开了第二瓶啤酒。

"让我再给您斟点。"

海沃德转身朝菲利普,现出那副颇使这位青年动心的略带几分屈尊俯就的姿态。

"现在你满意了吧?"他问。

如堕五里雾中的菲利普,表示自己满意了。

"我可有点失望,你没在自己的信仰里再加上点佛教的禅机,"维克斯说。"坦白地说,我。可有点同情穆罕默德。我感到遗憾,您竟把他撇在一边不理不睬。"

海沃德开怀大笑。那天晚上他心情舒畅,那些铿锵悦耳的妙语仍在自己耳边回响。他将杯子里的啤酒一口干了。

"我并不指望你能了解我,"他回答说。"你们美国人只有冷冰冰的理解力,只可能持批评的态度,就像爱默生之流一样。何谓批评?批评纯粹是破坏性的。任何人都会破坏,但并非所有的人都会建设。你是个书呆子,我亲爱的老兄。重要的问题在于建设:我是富有建设性的;我是个诗人。"

维克斯注视着海沃德,目光中似乎既带着严肃的神色,同时又露出明朗的笑意。

"我想,要是你不见怪的话,我得说,你有点醉了。"

"没有的事,"海沃德兴致勃勃地回答说。"这点酒算得了什么,我照样可以在辩论中压垮您老兄的。得啦,我已经对您开诚布公了。现在您得说说您自己的宗教信仰罗。"

维克斯把头一侧,看上去活像只停歇在栖木上的麻雀。

"这问题我一直琢磨了好多年。我想我是个唯一神教派教徒。"

"那就是个非国教派教徒罗,"菲利普说。

他想象不出他们俩为什么同时哑然失笑:海沃德纵声狂笑,而维克斯则滑稽地溟抿嘴格格傻笑。

"在英国,非国教派教徒都算不上是绅士,对吗?"维克斯问。

"嗯,如果您要我直言相告,我得说是的,"菲利普颇为生气地回答说。

他讨厌他们笑他,可他们偏偏又笑了起来。

"那就请您告诉我,何谓绅士?"

"哟,我说不上来,反正这一点尽人皆知。"

"您是个绅士吗?"

在这个问题上,菲利普从未有过半点儿怀疑,不过,他知道这种事儿是不该由本人来表白的。

"假如有那么个人在您面前大言不惭自称是绅士,那您完全有把握此人决非是个绅土!"菲利普顶撞了一句。

"那我算得上绅士吗?"

不会说假话的菲利普觉得很难回答这个问题,然而,他生来很讲礼貌。

"喔,您不一样,"他说,"您是美国人嘛。"

"我想,是不是可以这样认为,只有英国人才算得上是绅士罗,"维克斯神情严肃地说。

菲利普没有反驳。

"是不是请您再稍微讲得具体些?"维克斯问。

菲利普红了脸,不过他一冒火,也就顾不得会不会当众出洋相了。

"我可以给你讲得非常具体。"他想起他大伯曾讲过:要花上三代人的心血才能造就一个绅士。常言道,猪耳朵成不了绸线袋,就是这么个意思。"首先,他必须是绅士的儿子,在公学里念过书,而且还上过牛津或者剑桥。"

"这么说,念过爱丁堡大学还不行罗?"维克斯问。

"他得像绅士那样讲英语,他的穿戴恰到好处,无可挑剔。要是他本人是绅士,那他任何时候都能判断别人是不是绅士。"

菲利普越往下说,越觉得自己的论点站不住脚。不过这本是不言而喻的:所谓"绅士",就是他说的那么个意思,他所认识的人里面也全都是这么说的。

"我明白了,我显然算不上个绅士,"维克斯说。"可我不明白,为什么我一说自己是非国教派教徒,你竟会那么感到意外。"

"我不太清楚唯一神教派教徒究竟是怎么回事,"菲利普说。

维克斯又怪里怪气地把头一歪,你简直以为他当真要像麻雀那样吱吱啁啾呢。

"对于唯一神教派的教徒来说,凡是世人相信的事物,他差不多一概极其真诚地不予相信,而对凡是自己不甚了然的事物,都深信不疑。"

"不明白您干吗要取笑我,"菲利普说。"我是真心想要知道呐。"

"我亲爱的朋友,我可没在取笑您。我是经过多年的惨淡经营,经过多年呕心沥血、绞尽脑汁的钻研,才下了个那样的定义。"

当菲利普和海沃德起身告辞时,维克斯递给菲利普一本薄薄的平装书。

"我想您现在看法文书没问题了吧。不知这本书会不会使你感兴趣。"

菲利普向他道了谢,接过书,一看书名,原来是勒南写的《耶稣传》。


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