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《自然》杂志的创刊词

已有 702 次阅读 2024-2-3 07:33 |个人分类:其他|系统分类:诗词雅集

《自然》杂志的创刊词

1869114日,英国的自然杂志创刊。创刊词拟请当时著名的英国学者赫胥黎Thomas Henry Huxley撰写,赫胥黎就推荐采用德国文学家、哲学家、科学家歌德赞美自然的狂想曲,并且在文后给以介绍。赫胥黎说:

当我的朋友、《自然》杂志的主编请我为他的第一期刊物写发刊词时,我脑海中立即浮现出这篇美妙的自然狂想曲,它给我青年成长的时代带来了很大愉悦。在我看来,这样一份杂志,它旨在呈现人们对大自然各种表象的理解进程,也就是我们所谓的科学的进程,没有任何比它更合适的前言。

下面是歌德的文章根据赫胥黎英译的翻译。

自然!我们被她环绕拥抱:既不能与她脱离,又无法把她洞悉

无需征询,亦提醒,我们拉入她的圆圈舞,迈开飞旋舞步,直到我们从她臂中,力竭精疲。

她总是翻新花样:过去不是现在的模样现在过去不同终归如旧,万般皆新,。

我们生活在大自然中,却对她一无所知。她总是对我们说话,却点滴秘密不露。我们不断影响她,她却从不接受

她似乎着意,但对个体并不关。她总在建造摧毁,却无人能接近她的工作处

她的生命在儿女身上,这位母亲却无寻处?她是举世无双的艺术家,用最单一的材料毫不费力创造出大千世界完美精准还总是隐藏着一丝温柔

她每件作品都各有精粹,每段故事也各具特征这种种差异都共处于统一和完整

她在演戏,知她是否能自我欣赏,她的确在为我们这些旁观者表演。

无尽的生命,发展、运动,但又不见前进。她永远变化,没有片刻消停。她,静止不能接受,歇息更是难忍。她坚定不移步伐稳例外罕见规律不可变更

不论现在,还是过去,她从未停止思考不过她的思考属于自然,和人异样。她为囊括一切的理念而冥思苦想,其中的奥妙无人能够窥见。

人类栖于自然,又在所有人之中。她与所有人亲热地游戏,谁要是赢了她,就让他格外高兴。对于很多人,她行动隐秘,人们尚未察觉,游戏就已告终

不自然仍是自然,连最没有教养的笨蛋能触摸到她的天赋若不随时随地看她,她的踪影就根本无觅处

 

她热爱自己,无数慧眼与爱慕都在凝聚于。她把自己分割开来以使自己愉悦激发出源源不断的快乐使她的难以满足的同情心得到缓和

她喜爱幻想。摧毁自己和他人幻想的人,她会最严酷的惩罚;那些忠心追随她的人,会被她视作婴拥在怀中。

子女无数她对谁不吝啬;对于宠儿,总是慷慨大方、乐于牺牲。她坚决庇护崇高和伟大

从虚无中随机造出物万千,既不告诉它们来自何处,也不透露它们将何去何从。它们的责任是奔跑,而她知道路在何方

构成她的源泉数目不多,但永不枯竭,总是充满活力层出无穷

自然总是新面貌,因为她总是把观众更新。生命是她最精致的发明,而死亡则是她专门的安排使生命繁衍茂盛

她将人包裹在黑暗之中,让他们永远渴求光明。她使人依附大地,无聊而沉重,又总是挑拨人,直到人想飞向高空

开创需求,因为她热爱行动。妙啊!她做事总是如此轻松。每种需求都是福利,很快得到满足,又迅速更新。——每个新的愿望,都是一种新的快乐源,但她很快变得思绪平静。

漫长跋涉一旦开始,会达

为自负而自负,但并非由于我们而由于那些使她成为极其重要的人们。她允许每个孩子在她面前淘气任由傻瓜对她品千百人傻什么也没有看到从她身上走过这使得并且发现他们全是她的老主顾

即使违背她,我们也要服从她的律令即便我们想反抗,也要配合她。

赐予使人受益从而勾起我们对这些赐予渴望。当我们急于得到时她慢条斯理;而当我们不再热心时,她却迫不及待

没有语言也不宣讲,但她创造了舌心脏,这是她感受和表达的器官

爱是她的桂冠。只有通过爱,才与她接近。万物要相互融却把它分隔。她之所以分隔万物,就是为了让它们想彼此靠近。对于一生的苦痛忧伤,她公平地施与几滴爱的琼浆。

她就是一切。赏自己,也惩罚自己;自我快乐也自我痛苦。既粗鲁,又温柔;既可爱,又可恶;既软弱无力,又无所不能。她是  永恒的现在。她不知过去将来。现在便是她的永恒。她慷慨仁慈。我要为她和她的所有杰作献上赞歌。她静默聪明。

无人能强求她以得到任何解释,无人能赢得她不付代价的任何馈赠。她很狡黠但都出于好我们在意。

她完美无缺,永不结束。她现在这样,永远这样。每个人都只能以自己的方式她。她藏身于无数名称与词汇下,却始终是同一个她。她到这里,也将带我离。我信任她。她许会责备我,但她不会嫌弃她作为。我并没有说她什么。没有!是,她已道尽;是全都归她

注:笔者参考了几种中译稿后重译,也难免有不当之处。下面附上《自然》杂志创刊号上歌德的英文译文与赫胥黎的介绍。

First issue of Nature

Nov 4, 1869

 

Goethe: Aphorisms on Nature

 

T. H. Huxley

 

NATURE! We are surrounded and embraced by her: powerless to separate ourselves from her, and powerless to penetrate beyond her.

 

Without asking, or warning, she snatches us up into her circling dance, and whirls us on until we are tired, and drop from her arms.

 

She is ever shaping new forms: what is, has never yet been; what has been, comes not again. Everything is new, and yet nought but the old.

 

We live in her midst and know her not. She is incessantly speaking to us, but betrays not her secret. We constantly act upon her, and yet have no power over her.

 

The one thing she seems to aim at is Individuality; yet she cares nothing for individuals. She is always building up and destroying; but her workshop is inaccessible.

 

Her life is in her children; but where is the mother? She is the only artist; working-up the most uniform material into utter opposites; arriving, without a trace of effort, at perfection, at the most exact precision, though always veiled under a certain softness.

 

Each of her works has an essence of its own; each of her phenomena a special characterisation: and yet their diversity is in unity.

 

She performs a play; we know not whether she sees it herself, and yet she acts for us, the lookers-on.

 

Incessant life, development, and movement are in her, but she advances not. She changes for ever and ever, and rests not a moment. Quietude is inconceivable to her, and she has laid her curse upon rest. She is firm. Her steps are measured, her exceptions rare, her laws unchangeable.

 

She has always thought and always thinks; though not as a man, but as Nature. She broods over an all-comprehending idea, which no searching can find out.

 

Mankind dwell in her and she in them. With all men she plays a game for love, and rejoices the more they win. With many, her moves are so hidden, that the game is over before they know it.

 

That which is most unnatural is still Nature; the stupidest philistinism has a touch of her genius. Whoso cannot see her everywhere, sees her nowhere rightly.

 

She loves herself, and her innumberable eyes and affections are fixed upon herself. She has divided herself that she may be her own delight. She causes an endless succession of new capacities for enjoyment to spring up, that her insatiable sympathy may be assuaged.

 

She rejoices in illusion. Whoso destroys it in himself and others, him she punishes with the sternest tyranny. Whoso follows her in faith, him she takes as a child to her bosom.

 

Her children are numberless. To none is she altogether miserly; but she has her favourites, on whom she squanders much, and for whom she makes great sacrifices. Over greatness she spreads her shield.

 

She tosses her creatures out of nothingness, and tells them not whence they came, nor whither they go. It is their business to run, she knows the road.

 

Her mechanism has few springs — but they never wear out, are always active and manifold.

 

The spectacle of Nature is always new, for she is always renewing the spectators. Life is her most exquisite invention; and death is her expert contrivance to get plenty of life.

 

She wraps man in darkness, and makes him for ever long for light. She creates him dependent upon the earth, dull and heavy; and yet is always shaking him until he attempts to soar above it.

 

She creates needs because she loves action. Wondrous! that she produces all this action so easily. Every need is a benefit, swiftly satisfied, swiftly renewed.— Every fresh want is a new source of pleasure, but she soon reaches an equilibrium.

 

Every instant she commences an immense journey, and every instant she has reached her goal.

 

She is vanity of vanities; but not to us, to whom she has made herself of the greatest importance. She allows every child to play tricks with her; every fool to have judgment upon her; thousands to walk stupidly over her and see nothing; and takes her pleasure and finds her account in them all.

 

We obey her laws even when we rebel against them; we work with her even when we desire to work against her.

 

She makes every gift a benefit by causing us to want it. She delays, that we may desire her; she hastens, that we may not weary of her.

 

She has neither language nor discourse; but she creates tongues and hearts, by which she feels and speaks.

 

Her crown is love. Through love alone dare we come near her. She separates all existences, and all tend to intermingle. She has isolated all things in order that all may approach one another. She holds a couple of draughts from the cup of love to be fair payment for the pains of a lifetime.

 

She is all things. She rewards herself and punishes herself; is her own joy and her own misery. She is rough and tender, lovely and hateful, powerless and omnipotent. She is an eternal present. Past and future are unknown to her. The present is her eternity. She is beneficient. I praise her and all her works. She is silent and wise.

 

No explanation is wrung from her; no present won from her, which she does not give freely. She is cunning, but for good ends; and it is best not to notice her tricks.

 

She is complete, but never finished. As she works now, so can she always work. Everyone sees her in his own fashion. She hides under a thousand names and phrases, and is always the same. She has brought me here and will also lead me away. I trust her. She may scold me, but she will not hate her work. It was not I who spoke of her. No! What is false and what is true, she has spoken it all. The fault, the merit, is all hers.

 

So far Goethe.

 

When my friend, the Editor of NATURE, asked me to write an opening article for his first number, there came into my mind this wonderful rhapsody on "Nature," which has been a delight to me from my youth up. It seemed to me that no more fitting preface could be put before a Journal, which aims to mirror the progress of that fashioning by Nature of a picture of herself, in the mind of man, which we call the progress of science.

 

A translation, to be worth anything, should reproduce the words, the sense, and the form of the original. But when that original is Goethe's, it is hard indeed to obtain this ideal; harder still, perhaps, to know whether one has reached it, or only added another to the long list of those who have tried to put the great German poet into English, and failed.

 

Supposing, however, that critical judges are satisfied with the translation as such, there lies beyond them the chance of another reckoning with the British public, who dislike what they call "Pantheism " almost as much as I do, and who will certainly find this essay of the poet's terribly Pantheistic. In fact, Goethe himself almost admits that it is so. In a curious explanatory letter, addressed to Chancellor von Muller, under date May 26th, 1828, he writes:

 

"This essay was sent to me a short time ago from amongst the papers of the ever-honoured Duchess Anna Amelia; it is written by a well-known hand, of which I was accustomed to avail myself in my affairs, in the year 1780, or thereabouts.

 

"I do not exactly remember having written these reflections, but they very well agree with the ideas which had at that time become developed in my mind. I might term the degree of insight which I had then attained, a comparative one, which was trying to express its tendency towards a not yet attained superlative.

 

"There is an obvious inclination to a sort of Pantheism, to the conception of an unfathomable, unconditional, humorously self-contradictory Being, underlying the phenomena of Nature; and it may pass as a jest, with a bitter truth in it."

 

Goethe says, that about the date of this composition of "Nature " he was chiefly occupied with comparative anatomy; and, in 1786, gave himself incredible trouble to get other people to take an interest in his discovery, that man has a intermaxillary bone. After that he went on to the metamorphosis of plants, and to the theory of the skull; and, at length, had the pleasure of seeing his work taken up by German naturalists. The letter ends thus:—

 

"If we consider the high achievements by which all the phenomena of Nature have been gradually linked together in the human mind; and then, once more, thoughtfully peruse the above essay, from which we started, we shall, not without a smile, compare that comparative, as I called it, with the superlative which we have now reached, and rejoice in the progress of fifty years."

 

Forty years have passed since these words were written, and we look again, "not without a smile, " on Goethe's superlative. But the road which led from his comparative to his superlative, has been diligently followed, until the notions which represented Goethe's superlative are now the commonplaces of science — and we have super-superlative of our own.

 

When another half-century has passed, curious readers of the back numbers of NATURE will probably look on our best, "not without a smile;" and, it may be, that long after the theories of the philosophers whose achievements are recorded in these pages, are obsolete, the vision of the poet will remain as a truthful and efficient symbol of the wonder and the mystery of Nature.



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