英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第8章(2/2) 社会主義思想との出会いと衝突



8 . LONDON IN 1900  





Only a few minds of a more inquiring turn scanned the future with a tinge of anxiety and recalled the prophecy of a great philosopher that we were drawing near to that era of war on a 

scale that future generations would look back upon with wonder and admiration. One of the most outspoken of such uncomfortable fellows (for so they were regarded) with whom I came in touch was Sidney Whitman, the historian of the House of Hapsburg,* who knowing his Europe through and through was under no illusion about the purpose to which the colossal military forces being trained in nearly every land would ultimately be devoted. I had met Whitman at a house where I was playing the piano, and as he had professed interest not only in my performance but my share of a brief conversation we had had on foreign affairs, I followed this up by calling on him with some articles I had been writing on various musical subjects and upon which I was anxious to have his opinion. As I was tolerably well pleased with them myself, I was rather chagrined to be told that they were on the whole windy rubbish, that my style was painfully ornate and high flown, that I must be suffering from a lengthy period of over-feeding at the tables of the nineteenth century romantic writers, that what I needed most was a complete change of diet and that many of the paragraphs which sought to deal with the mere technical problems of my art might have been interpolated without incongruity into a novel of Disraeli. But my literary excesses might be cured, or at any rate eased by a solid course of eighteenth century prose reading, and if at any time I still found myself hankering unwholesomely after the picturesque, there were the Jacobean dramatists to show me how it ought to be done. Of the great contemporaries and successors of Shakespeare I knew comparatively little, as neither in my home or school had they any licensed place in the libraries. But shortly afterwards I was enabled to remedy this state of deplorable ignorance through the lucky chance of an invitation to spend a few weeks in the Portuguese home of Sir Francis Cook.  



* His best known work is Austria.  




Montserrat, a few miles from Cintra, once the home of Beckford, author of Vathek, and noted by Byron in the first canto of his "Childe Harold,”* is a splendid palace whose gardens are world-renowned for containing almost every tree, shrub, and plant known to botany. But the chief attraction of the place to me was a large and first-rate library where I found everything of the periods that I had been advised to study and first made acquaintance with that noble company of dramatists whose work, according to Swinburne, makes every other period of English literature seem half alive. During my stay I must have read scores of volumes beginning with Marlowe and continuing to Shirley, and if I had a preference at the moment it was probably for Beaumont and Fletcher and those in the collection of their plays which through their unity of style are manifestly the work of the latter. There are few better antidotes for a stubborn mood of melancholy than an escape into the radiant world of this brilliant and neglected genius whom the second of our great poet-critics with intent to rebuke once styled the English Euripides. And whenever I renew my acquaintance with the easy flow of his nervously animated verse and the perfect music of his lyrical numbers, I recall the judgment of Dryden that it was in the twin “bards of passion and of mirth” that our language reached its summit of perfection.  

モンテセラト火山島でポルトガルのシントラという町から数マイルのところにあるかつてここはウィリアム・ベックフォード住む場所だったベックフォードはゴシック小説ヴァセック」の著者である。ジョージ・バイロンが、彼の長編物語詩「チャイルド・ハロルドの巡礼」第1編*で、彼の地について触れている*。素晴らしい宮殿のような邸宅で、その庭園には、植物学で扱う高樹、低木、草花は、およそ何でも植えてあることで、世界中に知られている。だが、私にとっての、彼の地の最大の魅力は、大規模で、一流の質を誇る書庫だ。ここには、私が、徹底的に読みこなすべしと助言された時代の本は、全て揃っていた。私は初めて、スィンバーンの言葉を借りるなら、他のイギリス文学の、どの時代の作品も、半病人の作品に見えてしまうような、そんな素晴らしい劇作家達の作品に触れた。モンテセラト滞在中、おそらく私は、劇作家のクリストファー・マーロウからジェームス・シャーリーまで、相当な量の作品を読みこなしたはずだ。当時、何が気に入ったかと訊かれたら、フランシス・ボーモントやジョン・フレッチャー、それに、フレッチャーの劇作品の持つ形式の、まとまりの良さを生かした後世の作品の数々である、そう答えただろう。なかなか無くならない憂鬱な気分を、吹っ飛ばす最高の解毒剤は、この素晴らしくも見向きもされない才能の、輝かしき世界へ逃げることだ。この「才能」は、かつて、エラい詩の批評家先生方にまとわりつく輩が、強く非難する意図を持って、イギリス版「エウリピデス」の様式を作り出した、その時の産物だ。彼の書いた、ソワソワとした気分の、生き生きとした韻文と、彼の感情表現豊かな詩の各行の持つ完璧な音楽性が、無理なく流れ出す。これに、毎回が初めての気分で触れるたびに、ジョン・ドライデンの御聖断を思い出す。ジョン・キーツが「Bards of Passion And of Mirth」でのべた事と合わせて、これは我が国の言語が、感性の極みに届いた現れである。 



* Childe Harold, Canto I, Stanza XXII: 

“There thou too Vatheh! Englands wealthiest son, 

Once formed thy Paradise ...”  


The stanza No. XIX containing a description of the scenery around Montserrat is among the half-dozen best in the First Canto:  

The horrid crags by toppling convent crowned.  

The cork trees hoar that clothe the shaggy steep,  

The mountain-moss by scorching skies imbrowned,  

The sunken glen, whose sunless shrubs must weep,  

The tender azure of the unruffled deep.  

The orange tints that gild the greenest bough,  

The torrents that from cliff to valley leap,  

The vine on high, the willow branch below.  

Mixed in one mighty scene, with varied beauty glow.”  

チャイルド・ハロルド 第1編 第22節 

















Unaccountably brief in the history of every nation is the lastingness of any achievement of supreme merit in one especial domain of Art; and in none is this more strikingly exemplified than in that of poetic drama. Athens, England, Spain, France, and Germany have all conformed to some high and inscrutable decree that no human power can control or resist. A short sixty years saw the birth, growth, and decline of the English cycle of greatness, and hardly more that of the Greek; while the duration of each of the others is even less, although France might be said to have had the semblance of a silver age in the nineteenth century. Like certain freak performances of nature, they appear seemingly from nowhere, breathe out their short dated lives, and vanish to return no more.  




There are some who, having dwelt awhile on high mountain tops, like to make their descent by gradual stages so that the contrast may not be too sharp between the air which they are leaving behind and that on the plains below. In similar fashion I avoided a too rapid plunge from the poetic altitude of 1600 to the prosaic flatland of 1700 by stopping at the half-way house of the heroic drama of Davenant and Dryden, which like most transition phases is more singular than satisfactory. I had little regret therefore on reaching a solid earthy level where men no longer toiled vainly to bend the bow of Ulysses and were resignedly content to entrust their fancies to a prose as perfect as the verse of the great age. But it is less the change in the medium of communication between author and public which had been slowly taking place over fifty years that is so impressive as the transformation of outlook over the whole kingdom of letters. The masters of the Elizabethan and Jacobean era were still good Europeans, true heirs of the Renaissance, and each one of them (paraphrasing Ancient Pistol) might have said, “The world's mine oyster which I with my pen will open.” They traversed with colossal strides the surface of all lands, drawing material as well as inspiration from every quarter to which their insatiable curiosity led them, and were in the fullest sense of the word— universal.  




With the dawn of the eighteenth century we are made profoundly conscious that the literary mind of England has contracted to a bounded nationalism, that the Reformation has now fully accomplished its task, and that our small island is no longer a part of Europe, but an isolated territory which has withdrawn into itself with the determination to cultivate no other garden than its own. Henceforth the whole country is to become and remain for the best part of one hundred years a vast parish and, with small concern for what is going on outside its borders, is to find happiness in exploring no other delights but those of England, home. and beauty. It is owing to this splendid parochialism that the eighteenth century is the most truly English of all in our history and that its literature attains a genuinely classical perfection denied to that of more than one period of incontestably loftier aim.  




Most of the other acquaintances I made during my first year in London happened to be of an ultra-radical, socialistic, and anti-imperialistic color, little Englanders to a man. This was in its way another fresh world to me, and for a while I was attracted by the writings of Blatchford, Kropotkin, Bland, and other leaders of the school. It was through my association with an elderly harp maker, George Morley, a man of considerable culture with whom I played chess and billiards, that I began to frequent the meetings of the Fabian Society, where lecturers would expound to us the full gospel of the new creed. One evening there was an address on Shelley, and the speaker, while professing great admiration for his genius, deplored that the poet, as the son of a Sussex squire, had been born to the evil enjoyment of unearned increment; for in the kingdom of heaven on earth that was at hand, there would be no room for men of such breed. That evening on my return home I reviewed in my mind the many distinguished names in letters (going back no further than Chaucer) who, had they been born after the establishment of this arid social system, would never have been allowed to write at all. Gathering together all the Society's books, pamphlets, and leaflets, I hurled them into the fire; and as I watched the pile burning away merrily, I remembered how Voltaire had once said that while a philosopher had the right to investigate everything once, there were some things that only a fool would wish to experience twice.