英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第1章・乳飲み子の頃 (2/2)





G. P. Putnam's S





My impressions of the fashions of that day would fill a dozen ladies’ journals, but one or two specimens only of the taste of the last quarter of the nineteenth century will be noted here, as despite the doctrine of the Eternal Return, we may not see them again in our time. My father took pride in some special articles of apparel for the ceremony of smoking, then a luxury enjoyed in moderation at appointed times only, but now a necessity practised universally and on every possible occasion in and out of season. Even the sanctity of the dinner hour has been profaned by its more abandoned addicts, to the misery of that dwindling minority which still retains an appreciation of ood food and fine wine. In our establishment it was sternly disallowed in most rooms and barely tolerated in any; and for the due fulfillment of the rite my father had to ascend to a remote den on the top floor, sometimes with a few congenial devotees but more frequently alone. There he would put on a cap of Turkish design crowned with a long flowing tassel, and a richly colored jacket decorated with gold-braided stripes and silver buttons. On the rare occasions I was admitted to this holy of holies, I would gaze upon this gorgeous spectacle with rapture while my sire puffed away in placid and silent content, absorbed in reflections which I felt sure were of world-shaking import.  




Less impressive but equally exotic were my grandfather’s trousers, which in those days were to be seen only on octogenarian farmers in distant parts of the land. Voluminous in build, of rough and thick material and variegated in hue, they perpetuated a design that was probably of vast antiquity. We know that as far back as the epoch of the Flavian emperors, Britons wore trousers of a staggering amplitude that provoked high hilarity among the wits of Rome; and there is no reason why, in a conservative country like England, this particular model should not have survived throughout eighteen hundred years in undiminished integrity. Hitched well up to the chest and minus that disfiguring line of division in the facade, which only an inartistic age could tolerate for a moment even on the grounds of utility, there were no visible means of entrance or exit. And as I never had the courage to ask, I daily worried my young brains near to distraction over the way he both got into and out of them.  




I shall refrain from describing how my curiosity was aroused by the wardrobe of the distaff side of the family, as I should not like it to be thought that I am wanting in domestic piety: indeed I am as full of it as was the great Eneas himself. But there was one specimen in it which I cannot pass over, for the reason that it effected a powerful revolution in my entire mental equipment and was responsible for the cast it has taken on ever since. This was my grandmother’s bustle. The ordinary contraption of the kind is designed confessedly to disclose or hide, add or subtract, according to the needs of the case. But the bustle must be in a class by itself, for no one has ever been able to explain to me its precise purpose; and it would seem more akin to one of those inexplicable ornaments we see on Gothic churches, which have little or no apparent connection with the main design. But whatever it was, or howsoever it arose, it was the first potent revolutionary influence in my life and the source of my earliest disenchantment. For I lived long under the agreeable delusion that it was no garment at all, but a portion of my venerable relative’s own person; and it is hard to imagine and impossible to describe the shock to my youthful senses the day she arrived without it, bustles just about then beginning to go out of fashion. That same hour I became a philosopher, filled with a lively appreciation of the mutability of all earthly things; a fully fledged disciple of Heraclitus to whom had been vouchsafed a revelation as miraculous as it was complete.*  




* I never look back upon that landmark in my earthly experiences without repeating to myself the words of the sublime Seneca, who has written more eloquently on such matters than anyone else before or since.  


Ommia tempus edax depascitus, omni carpit,  

Omnia sede raovet  




My own habiliments were mainly of that picturesque species which certain doting mothers inflict upon their helpless offspring, thereby exposing them to the derision of those luckier infants who can roll in the mud and split their pants to their hearts’ content without drawing wailings and reproaches from solicitous nannies. And as my discontent was increased by the possession, long after it was due for removal, of a luxuriant crop of curls which excited the malevolent attention of every other boy or girl who came anywhere near it, life on the whole was a grim and bitter business for me. My pleasantest moments were our annual visits during the summer months to the seaside, where the whole famil y renewed its amphibious nature after the immemorial fashion of every inhabitant of the British Isles. There I was permitted to shed my detested finery, and it was during one of these excursions, I am happy to relate, that I lapsed temporarily from that lofty level of moral perfection which was both the pride and perturbation of my circle.**  




** The opinion I have expressed about the value of corroborative testimony is amply confirmed by an incident which occurred after the completion of this chapter. During the summer of 1942 while in' Los Angeles I renewed acquaintance with my second nurse, who took charge of me when I was about six. This clear-minded and vigorous old lady, so far from supporting the legend of my moral impeccability, declared roundly that I was a more than ordinarily mischievous urchin, to whom she delighted (as often as her conscience permitted) to administer corporal chastisement. She lamented, however, that her good intentions were not always appreciated by some of the family, and on one occasion my grandfather, resenting what he thought to be an ill-timed effort of disciplinary zeal, threatened retaliation upon her with an umbrella of Magog-like dimensions unless she at once desisted.  




It was at Southport, that most untypical of watering places, where the sea goes out daily about three-quarters of a mile, leaving broad stretches of dry hard sand that reach nearly to the next town. On these ran wooden ships built upon wheels and propelled by sails, each holding twenty or thirty passengers and traveling at a really formidable speed over a surface as smooth as a billiard table. Into one of them I crept like a stowaway when no one was looking, attached myself to a kindly looking female and was off and away hundreds of yards before my absence was discovered and a small army of persons set to roam the beach in search of me. Fortunately my father was not on the spot, or I should have been made to realize the enormity of my crime, according to the method approved by the wisest of Israel's rulers. But my mother and nurse, with that blessed disposition of all good women, were so overjoyed at my safe return that I was not only fully forgiven but awarded an extra helping at my tea of the principal delicacies of South Lancashire, fresh potted shrimps and Eccles cakes, ecstatic joys in those days and still very appetizing trifles to a palate that has grown, like lago, nothing if not critical.