One Writer's Beginnings
1 I learned from the age of two or three that any room in our house, at any time of day, was there to read in, or to be read to. My mother read to me. She'd read to me in the big bedroom in the mornings, when we were in her rocker together, which ticked in rhythm as we rocked, as though we had a cricket accompanying the story. She'd read to me in the dining room on winter afternoons in front of the coal fire, with our cuckoo clock ending the story with "Cuckoo", and at night when I'd got in my own bed. I must have given her no peace. Sometimes she read to me in the kitchen while she sat churning, and the churning sobbed along with any story. It was my ambition to have her read to me while I churned; once she granted my wish, but she read off my story before I brought her butter. She was an expressive reader. When she was reading "Puss in Boots," for instance, it was impossible not to know that she distrusted all cats.
2 It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them —with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. Still illiterate, I was ready for them, committed to all the reading I could give them.
3 Neither of my parents had come from homes that could afford to buy many books, but though it must have been something of a strain on his salary, as the youngest officer in a young insurance company, my father was all the while carefully selecting and ordering away for what he and Mother thought we children should grow up with. They bought first for the future .
4 Besides the bookcase in the living room, which was always called "the library", there were the encyclopedia tables and dictionary stand under windows in our dining room. Here to help us grow up arguing around the dining room table were the Unabridged Webster, the Columbia Encyclopedia, Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia, the Lincoln Library of Information, and later the Book of Knowledge. In "the library", inside the bookcase were books I could soon begin on —and I did, reading them all alike and as they came, straight down their rows, top shelf to bottom. My mother read secondarily for information; she sank as a hedonist into novels. She read Dickens in the spirit in which she would have eloped with him. The novels of her girlhood that had stayed on in her imagination, besides those of Dickens and Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson, were Jane Eyre, Trilby, The Woman in White, Green Mansions, King Solomon's Mines.
5 To both my parents I owe my early acquaintance with a beloved Mark Twain. There was a full set of Mark Twain and a short set of Ring Lardner in our bookcase, and those were the volumes that in time united us all, parents and children.
6 Reading everything that stood before me was how I came upon a worn old book that had belonged to my father as a child. It was called Sanford and Merton. Is there anyone left who recognizes it, I wonder? It is the famous moral tale written by Thomas Day in the 1780s, but of him no mention is made on the title page of this book; here it is Sanford and Merton in Words of One Syllable by Mary Godolphin. Here are the rich boy and the poor boy and Mr. Barlow, their teacher and interlocutor, in long discourses alternating with dramatic scenes —anger and rescue allotted to the rich and the poor respectively. It ends with not one but two morals, both engraved on rings: "Do what you ought, come what may," and "If we would be great, we must first learn to be good."
7 This book was lacking its front cover, the back held on by strips of pasted paper, now turned golden, in several layers, and the pages stained, flecked, and tattered around the edges; its garish illustrations had come unattached but were preserved, laid in. I had the feeling even in my heedless childhood that this was the only book my father as a little boy had had of his own. He had held onto it, and might have gone to sleep on its coverless face: he had lost his mother when he was seven. My father had never made any mention to his own children of the book, but he had brought it along with him from Ohio to our house and shelved it in our bookcase.
8 My mother had brought from West Virginia that set of Dickens: those books looked sad, too — they had been through fire and water before I was born, she told me, and there they were, lined up — as I later realized, waiting for me.
9 I was presented, from as early as I can remember, with books of my own, which appeared on my birthday and Christmas morning. Indeed, my parents could not give me books enough. They must have sacrificed to give me on my sixth or seventh birthday — it was after I became a reader for myself-the ten-volume set of Our Wonder World. These were beautifully made, heavy books I would lie down with on the floor in front of the dining room hearth, and more often than the rest volume 5, Every Child's Story Book, was under my eyes. There were the fairy tales — Grimm, Andersen, the English, the French, "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves"; and there was Aesop and Reynard the Fox; there were the myths and legends, Robin Hood, King Arthur, and St. George and the Dragon, even the history of Joan of Arc; a whack of Pilgrim's Progress and a long piece of Gulliver. They all carried their classic illustrations. I located myself in these pages and could go straight to the stories and pictures I loved; very often "The Yellow Dwarf" was first choice, with Walter Crane's Yellow Dwarf in full color making his terrifying appearance flanked by turkeys. Now that volume is as worn and backless and hanging apart as my father's poor Sanford and Merton. One measure of my love for Our Wonder World was that for a long time I wondered if I would go through fire and water for it as my mother had done for Charles Dickens; and the only comfort was to think I could ask my mother to do it for me.
10 I believe I'm the only child I know of who grew up with this treasure in the house. I used to ask others, "Did you have Our Wonder World?" I'd have to tell them The Book of Knowledge could not hold a candle to it.
11 I live in gratitude to my parents for initiating me — as early as I begged for it, without keeping me waiting — into knowledge of the word, into reading and spelling, by way of the alphabet. They taught it to me at home in time for me to begin to read before starting to school.
12 Ever since I was first read to, then started reading to myself, there has never been a line read that I didn't hear. As my eyes followed the sentence, a voice was saying it silently to me. It isn't my mother's voice, or the voice of any person I can identify, certainly not my own. It is human, but inward, and it is inwardly that I listen to it. It is to me the voice of the story or the poem itself. The cadence, whatever it is that asks you to believe, the feeling that resides in the printed word, reaches me through the reader-voice: I have supposed, but never found out, that this is the case with all readers — to read as listeners — and with all writers, to write as listeners. It may be part of the desire to write. The sound of what falls on the page begins the process of testing it for truth , for me. Whether I am right to trust so far I don't know. By now I don't know whether I could do either one, reading or writing, without the other.
13 My own words, when I am at work on a story, I hear too as they go, in the same voice that I hear when I read in books. When I write and the sound of it comes back to my ears, then I act to make my changes. I have always trusted this voice.
Let's Go Veggie!
1 If there was a single act that would improve your health, cut your risk of food-borne illnesses, and help preserve the environment and the welfare of millions of animals, would you do it?
2 The act I'm referring to is the choice you make every time you sit down to a meal.
3 More than a million Canadians have already acted: They have chosen to not eat meat. And the pace of change has been dramatic.
4 Vegetarian food sales are showing unparalleled growth. Especially popular are meat-free burgers and hot dogs, and the plant-based cuisines of India, China, Mexico, Italy and Japan.
5 Fuelling the shift toward vegetarianism have been the health recommendations of medical research. Study after study has uncovered the same basic truth: Plant foods lower your risk of chronic disease; animal foods increase it.
6 The American Dietetic Association says: "Scientific data suggest positive relationships between a vegetarian diet and reduced risk for several chronic degenerative diseases."
7 This past fall, after reviewing 4,500 studies on diet and cancer, the World Cancer Research Fund flatly stated: "We've been running the human biological engine on the wrong fuel."
8 This "wrong fuel" has helped boost the cost of degenerative disease in Canada to an estimated $400 billion a year, according to Bruce Holub, a professor of nutritional science at the University of Guelph.
9 Animal foods have serious nutritional drawbacks: They are devoid of fiber, contain far too much saturated fat and cholesterol, and may even carry traces of hormones, steroids and antibiotics. It makes little difference whether you eat beef, pork, chicken or fish.
10 Animal foods are also gaining notoriety as breeding grounds for E. coli, campylobacter and other bacteria that cause illness. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, six out of ten chickens are infected with salmonella. It's like playing Russian roulette with your health.
11 So why aren't governments doing anything about this? Unfortunately, they have bowed to pressure from powerful lobby groups such as the Beef Information Center, the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency and the Dairy Farmers of Canada. According to documents retrieved through the Freedom of Information Act, these groups forced changes to Canada's latest food guide before it was released in 1993.
12 This should come as no surprise: Even a minor reduction in recommended intakes of animal protein could cost these industries billions of dollars a year.
13 While health and food safety are compelling reasons for choosing a vegetarian lifestyle, there are also larger issues to consider. Animal-based agriculture is one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the face of the Earth.
14 Think for a moment about the vast resources required to raise, feed, shelter, transport, process and package the 500 million Canadian farm animals slaughtered each year. Water and energy are used at every step of the way. Alberta Agriculture calculates that it takes 10 to 20 times more energy to produce meat than to produce grain.
15 Less than a quarter of our agricultural land is used to feed people directly. The rest is devoted to grazing and growing food for animals. Ecosystems of forest, wetland and grassland have been decimated to fuel the demand for land. Using so much land heightens topsoil loss, the use of harsh fertilizers and pesticides, and the need for irrigation water from dammed rivers. If people can shift away from meat, much of this land could be converted back to wilderness.
16 The problem is that animals are inefficient at converting plants to edible flesh. It takes, for example, 8.4 kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of pork, the U. S. government estimates.
17 After putting so many resources into animals, what do we get out? Manure — at a rate of over 10,000 kilograms per second in Canada alone, according to the government. Environment Canada says cattle excrete 40 kilograms of manure for every kilogram of edible beef. A large egg factory can produce 50 to 100 tonnes of waste per week, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture estimates.
18 And where does it go? In the 1992 Ontario Groundwater Survey, 43 per cent of tested wells were contaminated with agricultural run-off containing fecal coliform bacteria and nitrates. Earlier this month, charges were laid against a large Alberta feedlot operator for dumping 30 million litres of cattle manure into the Bow River, "killing everything in its path," as a news story described it.
19 And then there is methane, a primary contributing gas in global warming and ozone layer depletion. Excluding natural sources, 27 per cent of Canada's and 20 per cent of the world's methane comes from livestock.
20 John Robbins, author of the Pulitzer prize-nominated book Diet for a New America (Group West), said it best when he stated: "Eating lower on the food chain is perhaps the most potent single act we can take to halt the destruction of our environment and preserve our natural resources."
21 Our environment also includes the animals killed for their meat. It has become an accepted fact that today's factory-farmed animals live short, miserable, unnatural lives.
22 As part of my research at the University of Waterloo, I toured some of the country's largest "processing" plants. The experience has left me with recurring nightmares.
23 I saw "stubborn" cows being beaten and squealing pigs chased around the killing floor with electric calipers.
24 I looked on in utter shock as a cow missed the stun gun and was hoisted fully conscious upside down by its hind leg and cut to pieces, thrashing until its last breath.
25 Noticing my shock, the foreman remarked: "Who cares? They're going to die anyway."
26 Because it can cost hundreds of dollars per minute to stop the conveyor line, animal welfare comes second to profit. Over 150,000 animals are "processed" every hour of every working day in Canada, according to Agriculture Canada.
27 The picture gets uglier still. En route to slaughter, farm animals may legally spend anywhere from 36 to 72 hours without food, water or rest. They're not even afforded the "luxury" of temperature controlled trucks in extreme summer heat or sub-zero cold.
28 Agriculture Canada has estimated that more than 3 million Canadian farm animals die slow and painful deaths en route to slaughter each year.
29 I've also visited typical Canadian farms. Gone are the days when piglets snorted and roosters strutted their way about the barnyard. Most of today's modernized farms have long, windowless sheds in which animals live like prisoners their entire lives. I have seen chickens crammed four to a cage, nursing pigs separated from their young by iron bars and veal calves confined to crates so narrow they couldn't turn around. Few of these animals ever experience sunlight or fresh air — and most of their natural urges are denied.
30 Although it is difficult to face these harsh realities, it is even more difficult to ignore them. Three times a day, you make a decision that not only affects the quality of your life, but the rest of the living world. We hold in our knives and forks the power to change this world.
31 Consider the words of Albert Einstein: "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as the Evolution to
a vegetarian diet."
32 Bon appetite.
The Truth About Lying
1. I've been wanting to write on a subject that intrigues and challenges me: the subject of lying. I've found it very difficult to do. Everyone I've talked to has a quite intense and personal but often rather intolerant point of view about what we can — and can never never — tell lies about. I've finally reached the conclusion that I can't present any ultimate conclusions, for too many people would promptly disagree. Instead, I'd like to present a series of
moral puzzles, all concerned with lying. I'll tell you what I think about them. Do you agree?
2. Most of the people I've talked with say that they find social lying acceptable and necessary. They think it's the civilized way for folks to behave. Without these little white lies, they say, our relationships would be short and brutish and nasty. It's arrogant, they say, to insist on being so incorruptible and so brave that you cause other people unnecessary embarrassment or pain by compulsively assailing them with your honesty. I basically agree. What about you?
3. Will you say to people, when it simply isn't true, "I like your new hairdo," "You're looking much better," "it's so nice to see you," "I had a wonderful time"?
4. Will you praise hideous presents and homely kids?
5. Will you decline invitations with "We're busy that night — so sorry we can't come," when the truth is you'd rather stay home than dine with the So-and-sos?
6. And even though, as I do, you may prefer the polite evasion of "You really cooked up a storm "instead of "The soup" —which tastes like warmed-over coffee — "is wonderful," will you, if you must, proclaim it wonderful?
7. There's one man I know who absolutely refuses to tell social lies. "I can't play that game," he says; "I'm simply not made that way." And his answer to the argument that saying nice things to someone doesn't cost anything is, "Yes, it does — it destroys your credibility." Now, he won't, unsolicited, offer his views on the painting you just bought, but you don't ask his frank opinion unless you want frank, and his silence at those moments when the rest of us liars are muttering, "Isn't it lovely?" is, for the most part, eloquent enough. My friend does not indulge in what he calls "flattery, false praise and mellifluous comments." When others tell fibs he will not go along. He says that social lying is lying, that little white lies are still lies. And he feels that telling lies is morally wrong. What about you?
8. Many people tell peace-keeping lies: lies designed to avoid irritation or argument, lies designed to shelter the liar from possible blame or pain; lies (or so it is rationalized) designed to keep trouble at bay without hurting anyone.
9. I tell these lies at times, and yet I always feel they're wrong. I understand why we tell them, but still they feel wrong. And whenever I lie so that someone won't disapprove of me or think less of me or holler at me, I feel I'm a bit of a coward, I feel I'm dodging responsibility, I feel...guilty. What about you?
10. Do you, when you're late for a date because you overslept, say that you're late because you got caught in a traffic jam?
11. Do you, when you forget to call a friend, say that you called several times but the line was busy?
12. Do you, when you didn't remember that it was your father's birthday, say that his present must be delayed in the mail?
13. And when you're planning a weekend in New York City and you're not in the mood to visit your mother, who lives there, do you conceal — with a lie, if you must — the fact that you'll be in New York? Or do you have the courage — or is it the cruelty? — to say, "I'll be in New York, but sorry — I don't plan on seeing you"?
14. (Dave and his wife Elaine have two quite different points of view on this very subject. He calls her a coward. She says she's being wise. He says she must assert her right to visit New York sometimes and not see her mother. To which she always patiently replies: "Why should we have useless fights? My mother's too old to change. We get along much better when I lie to her.")
15. Finally, do you keep the peace by telling your husband lies on the subject of money? Do you reduce what you really paid for your shoes? And in general do you find yourself ready, willing and able to lie to him when you make absurd mistakes or lose or break things?
16. "I used to have a romantic idea that part of intimacy was confessing every dumb thing that you did to your husband. But after a couple of years of that," says Laura, "have I changed my mind!"
17. And having changed her mind, she finds herself telling peacekeeping lies. And yes, I tell them too. What about you?
18. Protective lies are lies folks tell — often quite serious lies — because they're convinced that the truth would be too damaging. They lie because
they feel there are certain human values that supersede the wrong of having lied. They lie, not for personal gain, but because they believe it's for the good of the person they're lying to. They lie to those they love, to those who trust them most of all, on the grounds that breaking this trust is justified.
19. They may lie to their children on money or marital matters.
20. They may lie to the dying about the state of their health.
21. They may lie to their closest friend because the truth about her talents or son or psyche would be — or so they insist — utterly devastating.
22. I sometimes tell such lies, but I'm aware that it's quite presumptuous to claim I know what's best for others to know. That's called playing God . That's called manipulation and control. And we never can be sure, once we start to juggle lies, just where they'll land, exactly where they'll roll.
23. And furthermore, we may find ourselves lying in order to back up the lies that are backing up the lie we initially told.
24. And furthermore — let's be honest — if conditions were reversed, we certainly wouldn't want anyone lying to us.
25. Yet, having said all that, I still believe that there are times when protective lies must nonetheless be told. What about you?
26. Another group of lies are trust-keeping lies, lies that involve triangulation, with A (that's you) telling lies to B on behalf of C (whose trust you'd promised to keep). Most people concede that once you've agreed not to betray a friend's confidence, you can't betray it, even if you must lie. But I've talked with people who don't want you telling them anything that they might be called on to lie about.
27. "I don't tell lies for myself," says Fran, "and I don't want to have to tell them for other people." Which means, she agrees, that if her best friend is having an affair, she absolutely doesn't want to know about it.
“我不为自己说谎，”弗兰说，“我也不愿为别人说谎。”她承认，这就意味着如果她最好的朋友有风流韵事的话，她绝对不想知道。28. "Are you saying," her best friend asks, "that you'd betray me?"
29. Fran is very pained but very adamant. "I wouldn't want to betray you, so…don't tell me anything about it."
30. Fran's best friend is shocked. What about you?
31. Do you believe you can have close friends if you're not prepared to receive their deepest secrets?
32. Do you believe you must always lie for your friends?
33. Do you believe, if your friend tells a secret that turns out to be quite immoral or illegal, that once you've promised to keep it, you must keep it?
34. And what if your friend were your boss —if you were perhaps one of the President's men —would you betray or lie for him over, say, Watergate?
如果你的朋友正好是你的上司——如果你恰好就是总统班底的人——比如说在水门事件这个问题上，你是背叛他还是为他说谎？35. As you can see, these issues get terribly sticky.
36. It's my belief that once we've promised to keep a trust, we must tell lies to keep it. I also believe that we can't tell Watergate lies. And if these two statements strike you as quite contradictory, you're right — they're quite contradictory. But for now they're the best I can do. What about you?
37. There are those who have no talent for lying.
38. "Over the years, I tried to lie," a friend of mine explained, "but I always got found out and I always got punished. I guess I gave myself away because I feel guilty about any kind of lying. It looks as if I'm stuck with telling the truth."
39. For those of us, however, who are good at telling lies, for those of us who lie and don't get caught, the question of whether or not to lie can be a hard and serious moral problem. I liked the remark of a friend of mine who said, "I'm willing to lie. But just as a last resort — the truth's always better."
40. "Because," he explained, "though others may completely accept the lie I'm telling, I don't."
41. I tend to feel that way too.
42. What about you?
Take This Fish and Look at It
1 It was more than fifteen years ago that I entered the laboratory of Professor Agassiz, and told him I had enrolled my name in the Scientific School as
a student of natural history . He asked me a few questions about my object in coming, my antecedents generally, the mode in which I afterwards proposed to use the knowledge I might acquire, and, finally, whether I wished to study any special branch. To the latter I replied that while I wished to be well grounded in all departments of zoology, I purposed to devote myself especially to insects.
2 "When do you wish to begin?" he asked.
3 "Now," I replied.
4 This seemed to please him, and with an energetic "Very well!" he reached from a shelf a huge jar of specimens in yellow alcohol. "Take this fish," he said, "and look at it; we call it a haemulon; by and by I will ask what you have seen."
5 With that he left me, but in a moment returned with explicit instructions as to the care of the object entrusted to me.
6 "No man is fit to be a naturalist," said he, "who does not know how to take care of specimens."
7 I was to keep the fish before me in a tin tray, and occasionally moisten the surface with alcohol from the jar, always taking care to replace the stopper tightly. Those were not the days of ground-glass stoppers and elegantly shaped exhibition jars; all the old students will recall the huge neckless glass bottles with their leaky, wax-besmeared corks, half eaten by insects, and begrimed with cellar dust. Entomology was a cleaner science than ichthyology, but the example of the Professor, who had unhesitatingly plunged to the bottom of the jar to produce the fish, was infectious; and though this alcohol had a "very ancient and fishlike smell," I really dared not show any aversion within these sacred precincts, and treated the alcohol as though it were pure water. Still I was conscious of a passing feeling of disappointment, for gazing at a fish did not commend itself to an ardent entomologist. My friends at home, too, were annoyed when they discovered that no amount of eau-de-Cologne would drown the perfume which haunted me like a shadow.
8 In ten minutes I had seen all that could be seen in that fish, and started in search of the Professor — who had, however, left the Museum; and when I returned, after lingering over some of the odd animals stored in the upper apartment, my specimen was dry all over. I dashed the fluid over the fish as if to resuscitate the beast from a fainting fit, and looked with anxiety for a return of the normal sloppy appearance. This little excitement over, nothing was to be done but to return to a steadfast gaze at my mute companion. Half an hour passed — an hour — another hour; the fish began to look loathsome. I turned it over and around; looked it in the face — ghastly; from behind, beneath, above, sideways, at three-quarters' view — just as ghastly. I was in despair; at an early hour I concluded that lunch was necessary; so, with infinite relief, the fish was carefully replaced in the jar, and for an hour I was free.
9 On my return, I learned that Professor Agassiz had been at the Museum, but had gone, and would not return for several hours. My fellow-students were too busy to be disturbed by continued conversation. Slowly I drew forth that hideous fish, and with a feeling of desperation again looked at it. I might not use a magnifying-glass; instruments of all kinds were interdicted. My two hands, my two eyes, and the fish: it seemed a most limited field. I pushed my finger down its throat to feel how sharp the teeth were. I began to count the scales in the different rows, until I was convinced that was nonsense. At last a happy thought struck me — I would draw the fish; and with surprise I began to discover new features in the creature. Just then the Professor returned.
10 "That is right," said he; "a pencil is one of the best of eyes. I am glad to notice, too, that you keep your specimen wet, and your bottle corked."
11 With these encouraging words, he added: "Well, what is it like?"
12 He listened attentively to my brief rehearsal of the structure of parts whose names were still unknown to me: the fringed gill-arches and movable operculum; the pores of the head, fleshy lips and lidless eyes; the lateral line, the spinous fins and forked tail; the compressed and arched body. When I finished, he waited as if expecting more, and then, with an air of disappointment:
13 "You have not looked very carefully; why," he continued more earnestly, "you haven't even seen one of the most conspicuous features of the animal, which is plainly before your eyes as the fish itself; look again, look again!" and he left me to my misery.
14 I was piqued; I was mortified. Still more of that wretched fish! But now I set myself to my task with a will, and discovered one new thing after another, until I saw how just the Professor's criticism had been. The afternoon passed quickly; and when, towards its close, the Professor inquired: 我怒从心生，我深感屈辱。还要看那条该死的鱼!不过，这次我看时憋了一股劲，于是发现了一个又一个新特征，到最后我明白教授的批评的确有道理。一个下午很快过去了。下午将尽时，教授问道：
15 "Do you see it yet?"
16 "No," I replied, "I am certain I do not, but I see how little I saw before."
17 "That is next best," said he, earnestly, "but I won't hear you now; put away your fish and go home; perhaps you will be ready with a better answer in the morning. I will examine you before you look at the fish."
18 This was disconcerting. Not only must I think of my fish all night, studying, without the object before me, what this unknown but most visible feature might be; but also, without reviewing my discoveries, I must give an exact account of them the next day. I had a bad memory; so I walked home by Charles River in a distracted state, with my two perplexities.
19 The cordial greeting from the Professor the next morning was reassuring; here was a man who seemed to be quite as anxious as I that I should see for myself what he saw.
20 "Do you perhaps mean," I asked, "that the fish has symmetrical sides with paired organs?"
21 His thoroughly pleased "Of course! Of course!" repaid the wakeful hours of the previous night. After he had discoursed most happily and enthusiastically — as he always did — upon the importance of this point, I ventured to ask what I should do next.
22 "Oh, look at your fish!" he said, and left me again to my own devices. In a little more than an hour he returned, and heard my new catalogue.
23 "That is good, that is good!" he repeated; "but that is not all; go on"; and so for three long days he placed that fish before my eyes, forbidding me to look at anything else, or to use any artificial aid. "Look, look, look," was his repeated injunction.
24 This was the best entomological lesson I ever had — a lesson whose influence has extended to the details of every subsequent study; a legacy the Professor had left to me, as he has left it to so many others, of inestimable value which we could not buy, with which we cannot part.
25 The fourth day, a second fish of the same group was placed beside the first, and I was bidden to point out the resemblances and differences between the two; another and another followed, until the entire family lay before me, and a whole legion of jars covered the table and surrounding shelves; the odor had become a pleasant perfume; and even now, the sight of an old, six-inch worm-eaten cork brings fragrant memories.
26 The whole group of haemulons was thus brought in review; and, whether engaged upon the dissection of the internal organs, the preparation and examination of the bony framework, or the description of the various parts, Agassiz's training in the method of observing facts and their orderly arrangement was ever accompanied by the urgent exhortation not to be content with them.
27 "Facts are stupid things," he would say, "until brought into connection with some general law."
28 At the end of eight months, it was almost with reluctance that I left these friends and turned to insects; but what I had gained by this outside experience has been of greater value than years of later investigation in my favorite groups.
Grant and Lee
1 When Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee met in the parlor of a modest house at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865, to work out the terms for the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, a great chapter in American life came to a close, and a great new chapter began.
2 These men were bringing the Civil War to its virtual finish. To be sure, other armies had yet to surrender, and for a few days the fugitive Confederate government would struggle desperately and vainly, trying to find some way to go on living now that its chief support was gone. But in effect it was all over when Grant and Lee signed the papers. And the little room where they wrote out the terms was the scene of one of the poignant, dramatic contrasts in American history.
3 They were two strong men, these oddly different generals, and they represented the strengths of two conflicting currents that, through them, had come into final collision.
4 Back of Robert E. Lee was the notion that the old aristocratic concept might somehow survive and be dominant in American life.
5 Lee was tidewater Virginia, and in his background were family, culture, and tradition... the age of chivalry transplanted to a New World which was making its own legends and its own myths. He embodied a way of life that had come down through the age of knighthood and the English country squire. America was a land that was beginning all over again, dedicated to nothing much more complicated than the rather hazy belief that all men had equal rights and should have an equal chance in the world. In such a land Lee stood for the feeling that it was somehow of advantage to human society to have a pronounced inequality in the social structure. There should be a leisure class, backed by ownership of land; in turn, society itself should be keyed to the land as the chief source of wealth and influence. It would bring forth (according to this ideal) a class of men with a strong sense of obligation to the community; men who lived not to gain advantage for themselves, but to meet the solemn obligations which had been laid on them by the very fact that they were privileged. From them the country would get its leadership; to them it could look for the higher values — of thought, of conduct, of personal deportment — to give it strength and virtue.
6 Lee embodied the noblest elements of this aristocratic ideal. Through him, the landed nobility justified itself. For four years, the Southern states had fought a desperate war to uphold the ideals for which Lee stood. In the end, it almost seemed as if the Confederacy fought for Lee; as if he himself was the Confederacy... the best thing that the way of life for which the Confederacy stood could ever have to offer. He had passed into legend before Appomattox. Thousands of tired, underfed, poorly clothed Confederate soldiers, long since past the simple enthusiasm of the early days of the struggle, somehow considered Lee the symbol of everything for which they had been willing to die. But they could not quite put this feeling into words. If the Lost Cause, sanctified by so much heroism and so many deaths, had a living justification, its justification was General Lee.
7 Grant, the son of a tanner on the Western frontier, was everything Lee was not. He had come up the hard way and embodied nothing in particular except the eternal toughness and sinewy fiber of the men who grew up beyond the mountains. He was one of a body of men who owed reverence and obeisance to no one, who were self — reliant to a fault, who cared hardly anything for the past but who had a sharp eye for the future.
8 These frontier men were the precise opposite of the tidewater aristocrats. Back of them, in the great surge that had taken people over the Alleghenies and into the opening Western country, there was a deep, implicit dissatisfaction with a past that had settled into grooves. They stood for democracy, not from any reasoned conclusion about the proper ordering of human society, but simply because they had grown up in the middle of democracy and knew how it worked. Their society might have privileges, but they would be privileges each man had won for himself. Forms and patterns meant nothing. No man was born to anything, except perhaps to a chance to show how far he could rise. Life was competition.
9 Yet along with this feeling had come a deep sense of belonging to a national community. The Westerner who developed a farm, opened a shop, or set up in business as a trader, could hope to prosper only as his own community prospered — and his community ran from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Canada down to Mexico. If the land was settled, with towns and highways and accessible markets, he could better himself. He saw his fate in terms of the nation's own destiny. As its horizons expanded, so did his. He had, in other words, an acute dollars-and-cents stake in the continued growth and development of his country.
10 And that, perhaps, is where the contrast between Grant and Lee becomes most striking. The Virginia aristocrat, inevitably, saw himself in relation to his own region. He lived in a static society which could endure almost anything except change. Instinctively, his first loyalty would go to the locality in which that society existed. He would fight to the limit of endurance to defend it, because in defending it he was defending everything that gave his own life its deepest meaning.
11 The Westerner, on the other hand, would fight with an equal tenacity for the broader concept of society. He fought so because everything he lived by was tied to growth, expansion, and a constantly widening horizon. What he lived by would survive or fall with the nation itself. He could not possibly stand by unmoved in the face of an attempt to destroy the Union. He would combat it with everything he had, because he could only see it as an effort to cut the ground out from under his feet.
12 So Grant and Lee were in complete contrast, representing two diametrically opposed elements in American life. Grant was the modern man emerging; beyond him, ready to come on the stage, was the great age of steel and machinery, of crowded cities and a restless burgeoning vitality. Lee might have ridden down from the old age of chivalry, lance in hand, silken banner fluttering over his head. Each man was the perfect champion of his cause, drawing both his strengths and his weaknesses from the people he led.
13 Yet it was not all contrast, after all. Different as they were — in background, in personality, in underlying aspiration — these two great soldiers had much in common. Under everything else, they were marvelous fighters. Furthermore, their fighting qualities were really very much alike.
14 Each man had, to begin with, the great virtue of utter tenacity and fidelity. Grant fought his way down the Mississippi Valley in spite of acute personal discouragement and profound military handicaps. Lee hung on in the trenches at Petersburg after hope itself had died. In each man there was an indomitable quality... the born fighter's refusal to give up as long as he can still remain on his feet and lift his two fists.
15 Daring and resourcefulness they had, too; the ability to think faster and move faster than the enemy. These were the qualities which gave Lee the dazzling campaigns of Second Manassas and Chancellorsville 1and won Vicksburg for Grant2.
16 Lastly, and perhaps greatest of all, there was the ability, at the end, to turn quickly from war to peace once the fighting was over. Out of the way these two men behaved at Appomattox came the possibility of a peace of reconciliation. It was a possibility not wholly realized, in the years to come, but which did, in the end, help the two sections to become one nation again... after a war whose bitterness might have seemed to make such a reunion wholly impossible. No part of either man's life became him more than the part he played in their brief meeting in the McLean house at Appomatox. Their behavior there put all succeeding generations of Americans in their debt. Two great Americans, Grant and Lee — very different, yet under everything very much alike. Their encounter at Appomattox was one of the great moments of American history.
1 'For Sissy Miller.' Gilbert Clandon, taking up the pearl brooch that lay among a litter of rings and brooches on a little table in his wife's drawing-room, read the inscription: 'For Sissy Miller, with my love.'
2 It was like Angela to have remembered even Sissy Miller, her secretary. Yet how strange it was, Gilbert Clandon thought once more, that she had left everything in such order — a little gift of some sort for every one of her friends. It was as if she had foreseen her death. Yet she had been in perfect health when she left the house that morning, six weeks ago; when she stepped off the kerb in Piccadilly and the car had killed her.
3 He was waiting for Sissy Miller. He had asked her to come; he owed her, he felt, after all the years she had been with them, this token of consideration. Yes, he went on, as he sat there waiting, it was strange that Angela had left everything in such order. Every friend had been left some little token of her affection. Every ring, every necklace, every little Chinese box — she had a passion for little boxes — had a name on it. To him, of course, she had left nothing in particular, unless it were her diary. Fifteen little volumes, bound in green leather, stood behind him on her writing table. Ever since they were married, she had kept a diary. Some of their very few — he could not call them quarrels, say tiffs — had been about that diary. When he came in and found her writing, she always shut it or put her hand over it. 'No, no, no,' he could hear her say, 'After I'm dead — perhaps.' So she had left it him, as her legacy. It was the only thing they had not shared when she was alive. But he had always taken it for granted that she would outlive him. If only she had stopped one moment, and had thought what she was doing, she would be alive now. But she had stepped straight off the kerb, the driver of the car had said at the inquest. She had given him no chance to pull up...Here the sound of voices in the hall interrupted him.
4 'Miss Miller, Sir,' said the maid.
5 She came in. She was terribly distressed, and no wonder. Angela had been much more to her than an employer. She had been a friend. To himself, he thought, as he pushed a chair for her and asked her to sit down, she was scarcely distinguishable from any other woman of her kind. There were thousands of Sissy Millers — drab little women in black carrying attaché cases. But Angela, with her genius for sympathy, had discovered all sorts of qualities in Sissy Miller. She was the soul of discretion, so silent, so trustworthy, one could tell her anything, and so on.
6 Miss Miller could not speak at first. She sat there dabbing her eyes with her pocket handkerchief. Then she made an effort.
7 'Pardon me, Mr Clandon,' she said.
8 He murmured. Of course he understood. It was only natural. He could guess what his wife had meant to her.
9 'I've been so happy here,' she said, looking round. Her eyes rested on the writing table behind him. It was here they had worked — she and Angela. For Angela had her share of the duties that fall to the lot of the wife of a prominent politician, she had been the greatest help to him in his career. He had often seen her and Sissy sitting at that table — Sissy at the typewriter, taking down letters from her dictation. No doubt Miss Miller was thinking of that, too. Now all he had to do was to give her the brooch his wife had left her. A rather incongruous gift it seemed. It might have been better to have left her a sum of money. Or even the typewriter. But there it was — 'For Sissy Miller, with my love.' And, taking the brooch, he gave it her with the little speech that he had prepared. He knew, he said, that she would value it. His wife had often worn it... And she replied, as she took it, almost as if she too had prepared a speech, that it would always be a treasured possession. ... She had, he supposed, other clothes upon which a pearl brooch would not look quite so incongruous. She was wearing the little black coat and skirt that seemed the uniform of her profession. Then he remembered — she was in mourning, of course. She too had had her tragedy — a brother, to whom she was devoted, had died only a week or two before Angela. In some accident, was it? He could remember only Angela telling him; Angela, with her genius for sympathy, had been terribly upset. Meanwhile Sissy Miller had risen. She was putting on her gloves. Evidently she felt that she ought not to intrude. But he could not let her go without saying something about her future. And so he added, as he pressed her hand. 'Remember, Miss Miller, if there's any way in which I can help you, it will be a pleasure....' Then he opened the door. For a moment, on the threshold, as if a sudden thought had struck her, she stopped.
10 'Mr Clandon,' she said, looking straight at him for the first time, and for the first time he was struck by the expression, sympathetic yet searching, in her eyes. 'If at any time,' she was saying, 'there's anything I can do to help you, remember, I shall feel it, for your wife's sake, a pleasure....' “克兰登先生，”她说，目光第一次直视着他，他第一次为她的眼神暗暗吃惊，既流露出同情又十分锐利。“如果什么时候，”她说道，“有什么事我能帮上忙，请记住，为了夫人，我会很高兴为您效劳……”
11 With that she was gone. Her words and the look that went with them were unexpected. It was almost as if she believed, or hoped, that he would have need of her. A curious, perhaps a fantastic idea occurred to him as he returned to his chair. Could it be, that during all those years when he had scarcely noticed her, she, as the novelists say, had entertained a passion for him? He caught his own reflection in the glass as he passed. He was over fifty; but he could not help admitting that he was still, as the looking-glass showed him, a very distinguished-looking man.
12 'Poor Sissy Miller!' he said, half laughing. How he would have liked to share that joke with his wife! He turned instinctively to her diary. 'Gilbert, ' he read, opening it at random, 'looked so wonderful....' It was as if she had answered his question. Of course, she seemed to say, you're very attractive to women. Of course Sissy Miller felt that too. He read on. 'How proud I am to be his wife!' And he had always been very proud to be her husband. How often when they dined out somewhere he had looked at her across the table and said to himself. She is the loveliest woman here! He read on. That first year he had been standing for Parliament . They had toured his constituency. 'When Gilbert sat down the applause was terrific. The whole audience rose and sang: "For he's a jolly good fellow." I was quite overcome.' He remembered that, too. She had been sitting on the platform beside him. He could still see the glance she cast at him, and how she had tears in her eyes. He read on rapidly, filling in scene after scene from her scrappy fragments. 'Dined at the House of Commons.... To an evening party at the Lovegroves. Did I realize my responsibility, Lady L. asked me, as Gilbert's wife?' Then as the years
passed — he took another volume from the writing table — he had become more and more absorbed in his work. And she, of course, was more often alone. It had been a great grief to her, apparently, that they had had no children. 'How I wish,' one entry read, 'that Gilbert had a son!' Oddly enough he had never much regretted that himself. Life had been so full, so rich as it was. That year he had been given a minor post in the government. A minor post only, but her comment was: 'I am quite certain now that he will be Prime Minister!' Well, if things had gone differently, it might have been so. He paused here to speculate upon what might have been. Politics was a gamble, he reflected; but the game wasn't over yet. Not at fifty. He cast his eyes rapidly over more pages, full of the little trifles, the insignificant, happy, daily trifles that had made up her life.
13 He took up another volume and opened it at random. 'What a coward I am! I let the chance slip again. But it seemed selfish to bother him about my own affairs, when he has so much to think about. And we so seldom have an evening alone.' What was the meaning of that? Oh here was the explanation — it referred to her work in the East End. 'I plucked up courage and talked to Gilbert at last. He was so kind, so good. He made no objection.' He remembered that conversation. She had told him that she felt so idle, so useless. She wished to have some work of her own. She wanted to do something — she had blushed so prettily, he remembered, as she said it sitting in that very chair — to help others. So every Wednesday she went to Whitechapel. He remembered how he hated the clothes she wore on those occasions. But she had taken it very seriously it seemed. The diary was full of references like this: 'Saw Mrs Jones.... She has ten children.... Husband lost his arm in an accident. ... Did my best to find a job for Lily.' He skipped on. His own name occurred less frequently. His interest slackened. Some of the entries conveyed nothing to him. For example: 'Had a heated argument about socialism with B. M.' Who was B. M.? He could not fill in the initials; some woman, he supposed, that she had met on one of her committees. 'B. M. made a violent attack upon the upper classes... . I walked back after the meeting with B. M. and tried to convince him. But he is so narrow-minded.' So B. M. was a man — no doubt one of those 'intellectuals' as they call themselves, who are so violent, as Angela said, and so narrow-minded. She had invited him to come and see her apparently. 'B. M. came to dinner. He shook hands with Minnie!' That note of exclamation gave another twist to his mental picture. B. M., it seemed, wasn't used to parlour-maids: he had shaken hands with Minnie. Presumably he was one of those tame workingmen who air their views in ladies' drawing-rooms. Gilbert knew the type, and had no liking for this particular specimen, whoever B. M. might be. Here he was again. 'Went with B. M. to the Tower of London.... He said revolution is bound to come. ... He said we live in a Fool's paradise.' That was just the kind of thing B. M. would say —Gilbert could hear him. He could also see him quite distinctly — a stubby little man, with a rough beard, red tie, dressed as they always did in tweeds, who had never done an honest day's work in his life. Surely Angela had the sense to see through him? He read on. 'B. M. said some very disagreeable things about. ...' The name was carefully scratched out. 'I would not listen to any more abuse of. ...' Again the name was obliterated. Could it have been his own name? Was that why Angela covered the page so quickly when he came in? The thought added to his growing dislike of B. M. He had had the impertinence to discuss him in this very room. Why had Angela never told him? It was very unlike her to conceal anything; she had been the soul of candour. He turned the pages, picking out every reference to B. M. 'B. M. told me the story of his childhood. His mother went out charring.... When I think of it, I can hardly bear to go on living in such luxury.... Three guineas for one hat! ' If only she had discussed the matter with him, instead of puzzling her poor little head about questions that were much too difficult for her to understand! He had lent her books. Karl Marx. 'The Coming Revolution.' The initials B. M., B. M., B. M., recurred repeatedly. But why never the full name? He read on. 'B. M. came unexpectedly after dinner. Luckily, I was alone.' That was only a year ago. 'Luckily' — why luckily? — 'I was alone.' Where had he been that night? He checked the date in his engagement book. It had been the night of the Mansion House dinner. And B. M. and Angela had spent the evening alone! He tried to recall that evening. Was she waiting up for him when he came back? Had the room looked just as usual? Were there glasses on the table? Were the chairs drawn close together? He could remember nothing — nothing whatever. It became more and more inexplicable to him — the whole situation: his wife receiving an unknown man alone. Perhaps the next volume would explain. Hastily he reached for the last of the diaries — the one she had left unfinished when she died. There on the very first page was that cursed fellow again. 'Dined alone with B. M.... He became very agitated. He said it was time we understood each other.... I tried to make him listen. But he would not. He threatened that if I did not...' the rest of the page was scored over. He could not make out a single word; but there could be only one interpretation: the scoundrel had asked her to become his mistress. Alone in his room! The blood rushed to Gilbert Clandon's face. He turned the pages rapidly. What had been her answer? Initials had ceased. It was simply 'he' now. 'He came again. I told him I could not come to any decision.... I implored him to leave me.' He had forced himself upon her in this very house? But why hadn't she told him? How could she have hesitated for an instant? Then: 'I wrote him a letter.' Then pages were left blank. Then there was this: 'No answer to my letter.' Then more blank pages: and then this: 'He has done what he threatened.' After that — what came after that? He turned page after page. All were blank. But there, on the very day before her death, was this entry: 'Have I the courage to do it too?' That was the end.
14 Gilbert Clandon let the book slide to the floor. He could see her in front of him. She was standing on the kerb in Piccadilly. Her eyes stared; her fists were clenched. Here came the car...
15 He could not bear it. He must know the truth. He strode to the telephone.
16 'Miss Miller!' There was silence. Then he heard someone moving in the room.
17 'Sissy Miller speaking' — her voice at last answered him.
18 'Who,' he thundered, 'is B. M.?'
19 He could hear the cheap clock ticking on her mantelpiece: then a long drawn sigh. Then at last she said:
20 'He was my brother.'
21 He was her brother; her brother who had killed himself.
22 'Is there,' he heard Sissy Miller asking, 'anything that I can explain?'
23 'Nothing!' he cried. 'Nothing!'
24 He had received his legacy. She had told him the truth. She had stepped off the kerb to rejoin her lover. She had stepped off the kerb to escape from him.
Tongues of the Web
1 Since its earliest days, machine translation —the use of computers to translate documents from one language to another automatically —has suffered from exaggerated claims and impossible expectations. One characteristic (but apocryphal) tale tells of an American military system designed to translate Russian into English, which is said to have rendered the famous Russian saying "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" into "The vodka is good but the meat is rotten."
2 This sort of joke prompts a hollow laugh from those in the machine-translation (MT) business. It does so because it demonstrates both the difficulty of getting computers to understand human languages, and the high expectations that must be met if MT is to be taken seriously. Over the years, there have been a number of promising new approaches in the field, and ever-cheaper processing and storage technology have helped improve things. But progress has been painfully slow, and the decisive breakthrough that will transform the fortunes of MT has never appeared.
3 Now the Internet has given MT a much needed shot in the arm. This is odd because the ability to transmit information quickly and cheaply would not, on the face of it, appear to make the process of translation any easier. Yet, although the underlying technology of MT is still the same as it ever was, the rise of the Internet changes the way in which technology is perceived and the way it is used. And there are signs that, in future, it could improve the way it works as well.
4 The idea of automating the process of translation using computers goes back to the late 1940s. Warren Weaver of the Rockefeller Foundation in New York wrote a memorandum suggesting that the code-breaking successes of the second world war, combined with electronic computers and the new "information theory" laid out by Claude Shannon, might form the basis of an automatic translation system. This prompted research at several American universities, and the first public demonstration of MT — the result of a collaboration between IBM and Georgetown University — took place in 1954. This early system, based on a simple bilingual dictionary with a few rules to determine word order, caused a surge of enthusiasm and funding.
5 For the next decade, MT researchers tried to overcome the limitations of simple dictionary-based systems using more complex approaches which analysed the source text using grammatical rules. "Today, the computer, or electronic brain, is well along toward picking up the burden of machine translation," declared the Atlantic Monthly in 1959. But despite such optimism, progress was slow, and in 1964 the American government established a committee to examine the prospects for MT. Its report, issued two years later, concluded that, compared with human translators, MT systems were slower, less accurate, and twice as expensive. Instead, the committee recommended that research should concentrate on devising systems to assist human translators, rather than trying to replace them altogether. As a result, American funding for pure MT research dried up.
6 In some fields, however, it was recognised that even a rough-and-ready translation was better than none at all. Systran, a company established by Peter Toma, a researcher at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, sold a Russian-to-English translation system to the United States Air Force in 1970, and the same system was subsequently adopted by the European Commission. During the 1970s, demand for translation systems began to emerge in the business community.
7 During the 1980s, the combination of rapid falls in the cost of computing power and increasing demand from governments and multinational companies caused a revival of interest in MT, spurring renewed research. New systems were developed. Many of them worked by translating the source text into an intermediate language or symbolic representation, from which it could be translated into any of several other languages. As computers became more powerful and storage became cheaper, other new approaches emerged in the 1990s: analysis of parallel texts (the same text in two languages) led to new statistical-translation systems, which did not rely on any underlying grammatical rules, and to example-based systems which translated one sentence at a time by searching a database for examples of similar sentences whose translations were known.
8 Even so, the quality of MT has not really improved very much over the past three decades, says John Hutchins, an expert on the history of machine translation at the University of East Anglia, in Britain. "If you look at quality of output now, compared with 1970, in many cases you can't see much improvement," he says. What has changed is that MT systems have now been plugged into the Internet. That changes the way they are used, and the expectations of them.
9 The Internet has democratised MT and boosted demand dramatically, as users around the world struggle to understand pages in languages other than their own. And as companies set up increasingly elaborate websites, they have become aware of the need to maintain multiple sites in different countries and serve customers in different languages. Of America's 100 largest firms, 33 had multilingual websites at the end of 1999, and 57 did a year later. A study by Aberdeen Group, a management consultancy, found that, on average, users spend up to twice as long at a site, and are four times more likely to buy something from it, if it is presented to them in their own language. Another study by IDC, a technology consultancy, found that only 5% of the 50 top websites responded appropriately to e-mail queries in a foreign language; most simply asked for the message to be resent in English. All of which highlights the need for MT systems to provide on-the-fly translations, and for elaborate publishing systems that can manage multilingual websites.
10 Arguably the best known online MT system is Babel Fish, which relies on Systran software to translate pages retrieved by the Alta Vista search engine. Anyone who has used Babel Fish will be familiar with the unintentional hilarity of the results; one popular game involves scrambling the lyrics of pop songs by translating them from English into another language and then back again (a "round-trip" translation). Other MT systems are also in use online, providing rough-and-ready translations of chat-room conversations and e-mail messages. Demand for such services is likely to increase as the diversity of Internet users increases. At the end of 2000, 48% of Internet users were English speakers, but this figure is expected to fall to 32% by the end of 2002.
11 Unfortunately, MT systems work best when they have been customised for a particular subject area, such as microbiology, aerospace or particle physics. This involves analysing typical documents and adding common words and technical terms to the system's dictionary. Using MT to translate Internet pages, which can be about anything at all, therefore produces terrible results, since no customisation is possible. To make matters worse, most MT systems were designed for use with high quality documents, whereas many web pages, chat-rooms and e-mails tend to involve slang, colloquial language and ungrammatical constructions.
12 Even so, Steve McClure, an analyst at IDC, notes that the Internet has "refocused" MT from being a tool that provides a first draft for translators to becoming a general tool "for gaining a quick, partial understanding of perishable texts in high-volume environments without human involvement in the translation process". The Internet changes the game for machine translation: users want speed, rather than quality, and are more likely to accept poor results.