塞缪尔·约翰逊(英文:Samuel Johnson,1709年9月7日-1784年12月3日[1]),常称为约翰逊博士(Dr. Johnson),英国历史上最有名的文人之一,集文评家、诗人、散文家、传记家于一身,前半生名不经传,但他花了九年时间独力编出的《约翰逊字典》(A Dictionary of the English Language),为他赢得了文名及“博士”的头衔,博斯韦尔(James Boswell)后来为他写的传记《约翰逊传》记录了他后半生的言行,使他成为家喻户晓的人物。


  《致切斯特菲尔德大人函》是约翰逊于1755年2月7日写给切斯特菲尔德伯爵菲力浦·多墨·斯坦厚甫(Philip Dormer Stanhope) 的一封信。切斯特菲尔德伯爵开始对约翰逊编辞典一事冷眼相看。约翰逊艰辛奋斗7年,终于独立完成辞典编写,出版在即。这时,切斯特菲尔德伯爵在当时的《世界报》上连写两篇文章,对约翰逊的辞典大加吹捧,希望约翰逊将来能把英国的第一部英语辞典献给他。约翰逊得知此事后,义愤填膺,挥笔写下了这篇名传千秋的著名信函。信中数落了伯爵对他的冷淡,嘲讽了伯爵的傲慢与专横,对比了约翰逊自己对伯爵的热情与诚恳,从而宣布了约翰逊的辞典与伯爵无关,是他独立完成的,对伯爵无恩可感,无情可载。约翰逊的信是一个穷作家对大人物的控诉状,表现了作家对权贵的蔑视,有着我国著名诗人李白一样的“安能摧眉折腰事权贵”的反叛精神。在实质上,约翰逊的这种精神代表了英国新兴的资产阶级对封建权势的反抗。人们将约翰逊的这封信比做是“作家的独立宣言”。事实上,此后,英国文坛上的保护人制度(Patronage)在英国,在欧洲大陆逐渐消失了。


  约翰逊的信不仅思想性深刻,而且文笔优美、语句典雅,不长的信中,三联排比的结构被两次运用。文中的反语、讽刺、幽默含义加强了语句的感染力,而且约翰逊所用的比喻含有高深的典故性和哲理性。为了表达自己对伯爵“一往情深”的仰慕,约翰逊引用了古罗马诗人维吉尔诗中的牧童“发现爱神只不过是荒山野岭中的野蛮人”的故事,用以喻指伯爵的铁石心肠,是不通情理的人。


  这封信中的句子结构上,约翰逊还显示了他高超的安排技巧,信正文的最后一段是一个句子,在末尾的一个定语从句中,作者把书信中的客套结尾语和签名巧妙地变成了这个句子的组成部分。


  To The Right Honourable The Earl Of Chester

  7th February, 1755.

  My Lord,

  I have been lately informed, by the proprietor of The World, that two papers, in which my Dictionary is recommended to the public, were written by your lordship. To be so distinguished is an honour which, being very little accustomed to favours from the great, I know not well how to receive, or in what terms to acknowledge.


  When, upon some slight encouragement, I first visited your lordship, I was overpowered, like the rest of mankind, by the enchantment of your address, and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself Le vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre;—that I might obtain that regard for which I saw the world contending; but I found my attendance so little encouraged, that neither pride nor modesty would suffer me to continue it. When I had once addressed your Lordship in public, I had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and uncourtly scholar can possess. I had done all that I could; and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.


  Seven years, my lord, have now passed, since I waited in your outward rooms, or was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been pushing on my work through difficulties, of which it is useless to complain, and have brought it, at last, to the verge of publication, without one act of assistance , one word of encouragement, or one smile of favour. Such treatment I did not expect, for I never had a patron before.


  The shepherd in Virgil grew at last acquainted with Love, and found him a native of the rocks.


  Is not a patrons my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it: till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity not to confess obligations where no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the public should consider me as owing that to a patron, which providence has enabled me to do for myself.


  Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to any favourer of learning, I shall not be disappointed though I should conclude it, if less be possible, with less; for I have been long wakened from that dream of hope, in which I once boasted myself with so much exultation, My Lord,

  Your lordship's most humble,

  most obedient servant,

  SAM. JOHNSON.


  辜正坤先生白话体译文


  伯爵大人:


  近日从《世界报》馆主得知,该报刊载了两篇文章,对拙编词典颇多举荐滥美之词,这些文章据悉均出自阁下您的手笔。承蒙您如此的推崇,本应是一种荣耀,只可惜在下自来无缘得到王公大人的青睐,所以真不知道该如何来领受这份荣耀,也不知道该用些什么言辞来聊表谢意。


  回想当年,也不知哪来的勇气,我竟第一次拜访了大人阁下。我像所有的人一样,深为大人的言谈丰采所倾倒,不禁玄想他年能口出大言“吾乃天下征服者之征服者也。”——虽知此殊荣是举世学人所欲得,仍希望有朝一日能侥幸获取。然而我很快发现自己的趋走逢迎根本没有得到鼓励。不管是出于自尊也好,自矜也好,我反正无法再周旋下去。我本是一个与世无争、不善逢迎的书生,但那时我也曾用尽平生所学的阿谀奉承的言辞,当众赞美过阁下。能做的一切我都做了。如果一个人在这方面付出的一切努力(不管是多么微不足道)受到完全的忽视,他是绝不会感到舒服的。


  大人阁下,从我第一次候立于贵府门下,或者说被您拒于门外时算起,已经7年过去。7年多来,我一直苦苦地撑持着我的编撰工作。这些苦楚,现在再来倾诉,已经没有用处。所幸我的劳作而今终于快要出版,在这之前我没有获得过一个赞助的行为,一句鼓励的话语,一抹称许的微笑。我固然不曾指望这样的礼遇,因为我从未有过一位赞助人。


  维吉尔笔下的牧童最后终于和爱神相识,这才发现所谓爱神只不过是岩穴土人而已。


  大人阁下,有的人眼见落水者在水中拼命挣扎而无动于衷,等他安全抵岸之后,却才多余地伸出所谓援手,莫非这就叫赞助人么?大人而今忽有雅兴来关照在下的劳作,这原本是一桩美意,只可惜太迟了一点。迟到我已经意懒心灰,再无法快乐地消受;迟到我已经是孤身一人,无从与家人分享;迟到我已经名闻海内,再不需阁下附丽张扬。我既然本来就没有得到过实惠,自然母需怀感恩之心;既然是上帝助我独立完成这桩大业,我自然不愿让公众产生错觉,似乎我曾受惠于某一赞助人。但愿上面这番话不致被认为太苛刻、太不近人情。


  我已经在根本没有所谓学术赞助人赞助的情况下使自己的工作完成到目前这个地步,那么,尽管我将要在更艰难无助的情况下—假如还有可能更艰难无助的话—完成全稿,我也绝不会感到沮丧。因为我已经早就从那个赞助的美梦里幡然猛醒;曾几何时,我还在那梦中得意非凡地自诩是大人。

  您门下最卑微

  最驯顺的仆人

  塞缪尔·约翰逊

  1755年2月7日


2018年11月25日

双语美文:与人打交道,最怕没有底线等
海伦·凯勒自传《我的生活》

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