London-Antiques

伦敦的古迹–London Antiques

我在漫游,提着黑色灯笼,想来就像吉多·沃克斯,偷偷把城镇点燃;在乡村里,我会被当做点鬼火的威廉,或者精灵罗宾。
                            ——弗莱彻
  我多少带有古迹搜寻者的气质,喜欢探察伦敦,寻访古时的遗迹。这些遗迹大都要在城市的幽深之处才能找到,总是被一片荒芜的砖块灰泥所吞没,几乎湮没无迹,却也正因为包围着它们的平淡无奇的环境而产生了充满诗意的浪漫情调。最近一次在伦敦的夏季漫游中,我就被这一种情景所深深打动。因为,只有夏季去探察伦敦最为适宜,不会遭受冬季浓雾、阴雨和泥泞的困扰。一段时间以来,我一直在同舰队街上如潮的人流搏斗。炎热的气候使我心烦意乱,使我对每一次推挤冲撞、每一声噪音都很敏感。我身体疲惫,神志虚弱,不得不与忙乱喧嚷的人群拼斗,这使我感觉焦躁烦乱。在绝望的冲动之中,我冲出人群,一头扎进了一条偏僻小巷,在转过几个僻静的拐角之后,突然跨进了一座古雅而静谧的庭院,院子中央有一片草坪,草坪上方伸展着榆树的枝叶,一眼喷泉迸射出耀眼的水花,让草坪始终保持着清新与翠绿。一位手捧书本的学生坐在石凳上,一面读书,一面若有所思地望着两三个照料婴儿的漂亮保姆。
  我就像一个从酷热的荒瘠沙漠突然来到一片绿洲的阿拉伯人。
  渐渐地,这儿的静谧和凉爽使我心神镇静,精神振作。我继续向前漫步,来到一座极为古老的教堂旁,这是一座宏大富丽的建筑,有个萨克逊式的低矮门廊。教堂内部呈圆形,颇为高朗,从顶上洒下光亮。
  四周是镌刻着古老日期的纪念碑式的墓群,上面矗立着大理石的全副甲胄的武士雕像。有些武士双手虔诚地交叉在胸前,有些则紧握剑柄,即使在坟墓中仍然虎视眈眈——而有几个交叉着腿的士兵看来是参加过争夺圣地的十字军战士。
  原来,我正站在这座奇怪地坐落在肮脏喧闹的市中心的圣殿骑士团教堂里。对于世人而言,像这样突然逃避开忙碌于赚取金钱的人生道路,在这光线微明、尘埃覆盖、湮没无闻的幽暗墓地里静坐下来,我认为必将获得更为深刻的教益。
  在后来的考察之旅中,我又偶遇了这类锁闭在城市中心的一件“往昔世界”的遗物。当时,我已经在单调乏味的街道上漫游了一阵,没有任何能吸引我的视线或者激发我的想象的东西,就在这时,眼前出现了一个颓败的哥特式古老门洞。门内有一个宽敞的方形空地,四周矗立着堂皇的哥特式建筑,入口诱人地敞开着。
  这显然是个公共场所,既然我是在探访古迹,也就迈开迟疑的步子斗胆走了进去。没有遇到有谁来阻拦或斥责我擅自闯入,于是我便继续前行,最后进入了一个有着高大拱形屋顶和橡木走廊的大厅里,里面的一切都是哥特式建筑风格。大厅的一端是一个巨大的壁炉,两旁放着带扶手的高背木长椅,另一端搭着一个平台,或许是讲坛,是一方尊贵席位。讲坛上方悬挂着一个身穿古代装束的男人的画像,一袭长袍,戴着轮状皱领,还有一部令人肃然起敬的灰白胡须。
  这里的整个建筑陈设都弥漫着修道院般的宁静和与世隔绝的气氛,而更给这种气氛增添了一种神秘魅力的,则是自从我跨进门槛之后就没有看到一个人影。
  因为独自一人,我增添了勇气,便在一个巨大的弧形窗户的凹处坐了下来。透过窗户射进一道宽阔的黄澄澄的阳光,彩色玻璃把阳光分割成斑驳的小方格图案投射到地上;从一扇敞开的窗扉里吹进了夏日的柔风。我把手臂放在一张古老的橡木桌上,双手托着腮,浮想联翩:这座建筑在古代是做什么用的呢?它显然原本是一座修道院;或许是当年为研习学问而建立的一所学院;富于耐性的僧侣们在修道院与世隔绝的生活里,一页页一卷卷地积累着自己智慧的产物,以之与他们栖居的这座建筑的宏伟相媲美。
  就在我独坐沉思的时候,大厅远端弧形墙上的一扇镶嵌小门打开了,一群白发老人身披长长的黑色大氅一个接一个走出来,又按同样的秩序穿过大厅;他们一言不发,从我跟前经过时,每个人都转过苍白的脸望着我,然后消失在大厅另一端的一扇门后面。
  对他们的形象我深感奇异。他们的黑色大氅和古风盎然的神态与这座肃穆而又神秘的建筑物的风格很是协调。他们就像在我惯常的冥想中出现的往昔幽灵,从我眼前飘忽而过。这样的幻想使我自己颇为愉悦,我便趁着浪漫的情怀,开始对我为自己描画的,存在于客观现实核心的幽灵国度进行了一番探究。
  我信步漫游,穿过由一些内部庭园、走廊和损毁了的修道院构成的迷宫,因为主建筑物又有许多增添和附属的建筑,它们建于不同年代,具有各异的风格。在一块空地上,许多显然属于这座寺院的男孩正在做游戏;但我发现那些神秘的披着黑色大氅的白发老人却无处不在,有时独自漫步,有时聚集交谈,在这里似乎是处处现身的神怪。这时我想起曾读到过关于某些古代学校的描述,在那里要讲授占星审判术、泥土占卜术、亡魂问卜术以及其他种种被禁止的不可思议的学科。这个机构就属于这一类吗?这些披着黑色大氅的老人真的就是巫术教授吗?这些猜测掠过脑海之际,我的目光又瞥见一个房间内部,里面挂满了形形色色古怪而粗粝的东西,有野蛮人的战争器具、怪异的偶像和被剥制的鳄鱼标本,有装在瓶子里的蛇和怪物,用来装饰壁炉台,而在一个老式床架高高的天盖上,一具人的头盖骨正在狞笑,两侧还有一只风干了的猫。
  我走到近前,以便更细致地观察这个看上去适宜做亡魂问卜术实验的神秘房间,突然吓了一跳——我看见一张人脸正从一个幽暗的角落里瞪视着我。那是一个身材矮小、形容枯槁的老人的脸,双颊瘦削,两眼发光,灰白的眉毛粗硬而凸出。最初我怀疑这是不是一具精细保存的木乃伊,可是他动了动,于是我明白这是个活人。又是一个披着黑色大氅的老者,我凝视着他那古朴的容貌,他那陈旧的衣装,还有围绕着他的那些丑陋的不祥之物,这时我确信自己遇见了统率着这个魔法兄弟会的大首领。
  他看见我站在门外,便起身邀请我进去。我壮着胆子听从了他,因为我怎么知道他会不会挥动一下魔杖,让我变形为一个怪物呢?或者会不会运用巫术把我收进他壁炉台上的瓶子里去呢?不过事实证明他并不是一个巫师,他那质朴的谈吐很快就驱散了我给这群古风盎然的建筑及其同样古风盎然的居民所蒙上的怪异与神秘。
  看来我闯入了一座古老的收容院,它收留年事已高的退休商人和衰老体弱的房产业主,还附设一所学校收容数量有限的男孩。它是两个世纪前在一所古老修道院的基础上建起来的,还多少保留着修道院的气氛和特征。大厅里从我跟前走过的那一列幽灵般的黑衣老人,曾被我尊崇为魔法师的,原来是做完早祷回来的寄养者。
  约翰·哈勒姆,这位被我认作大巫师的矮小的古董收集者,在这里已经待了六年,用毕生搜集的遗物珍品来装饰自己晚年的栖息地。
  据他本人的讲述,他曾经也多少算得上个旅游家,去过一次法国,还差点儿去了荷兰。没能去荷兰是他引以为憾的事,否则他就能说“自己去过那儿”了——他显然是个最初级的旅游者。
  他的观念也颇带贵族气。我发现他总是超然地跟普通的寄养者保持着距离。他交往最多的人当中有一位是能说拉丁文和希腊文的盲人,对这两种语言哈勒姆都一窍不通;还有一位是个穷愁潦倒的绅士,他把父亲留下的4万英镑遗产和妻子的1万英镑陪嫁全都挥霍一空。小个子哈勒姆似乎认为,能够挥霍这么一笔巨款,那无疑是高贵血统和高尚精神的表征。
  附记:我为读者诸君的消遣而讲述的那处颇具画意的古代遗迹,就是如今被称作“卡尔特养老院”的地方,原名叫做“卡尔特教团修道院”。它是托马斯·萨顿爵士1611年在一座古老修道院的遗址上建造的,属于那些个人慷慨捐助的高尚慈善行为之一,在伦敦的现代变迁和创新中保持着旧时的古雅圣洁。这里住着80个曾经富贵尊荣而后穷困潦倒的人,在他们的晚年供给食物、衣服、燃料以及用作私人开销的年度津贴。他们就像古代的修道士那样,在原先的修道院餐厅里进餐。养老院还附属一所能容纳44名男生的学校。
  有关这一主题我参考了斯托的作品,他在谈到这些白发寄养人的职责时说:“他们不能涉入有关养老院的任何事务,只能致力于为上帝服务,怀着感恩的心情去接受提供给他们的东西,不能嘀嘀咕咕,说三道四,或者抱怨。任何人不得佩带武器,蓄长发,穿有色靴子、靴刺或有色鞋子,不得在帽子上装饰羽毛,穿类似流氓之流的服装或其他不体面的服装,而只应穿适合养老院寄养人穿的衣服。”“事实上,”斯托补充说,“像这些老人,从尘世的操劳和烦恼中解脱出来,定居在如此好的一个地方安享晚年;别无考虑,一心只为自己灵魂的净化,为上帝服务,在兄弟之爱中生活,应该是幸福的。”为了给那些对我前面记述的见闻感兴趣的人以及希望对伦敦的奥秘再了解多一点的人提供消遣,我附上了一小段当地历史——这是一位我造访卡尔特养老院后不久认识的老者提供给我的。这位老年绅士相貌古怪,头戴一小片褐色假发,身穿黄褐色外衣。我得承认,一开始我有点怀疑,觉得这份记载或许是那种不足为信的无稽之谈,常用来哄骗像我这样探根究底的旅游者,从而使我们普遍的诚实性格蒙受不应有的耻辱。不过在经过应有的查询之后,我得到了对该文作者的诚实品行的最令人满意的确认。而且,我被告知他确实参与了他所居住的这个非常有趣的地区的大小事务。对此所做的叙述不妨看做是一种预先体验。

— I do walk

Methinks like Guido Vaux, with my dark lanthorn,

Stealing to set the town o’ fire; i’ th’ country

I should be taken for William o’ the Wisp,

Or Robin Goodfellow.

— FLETCHER.

I AM somewhat of an antiquity hunter, and am fond of exploring London in quest of the relics of old times. These are principally to be found in the depths of the city, swallowed up and almost lost in a wilderness of brick and mortar; but deriving poetical and romantic interest from the commonplace prosaic world around them. I was struck with an instance of the kind in the course of a recent summer ramble into the city; for the city is only to be explored to advantage in summer time, when free from the smoke and fog, and rain and mud of winter. I had been buffeting for some time against the current of population setting through Fleet-street. The warm weather had unstrung my nerves, and made me sensitive to every jar and jostle and discordant sound. The flesh was weary, the spirit faint, and I was getting out of humor with the bustling busy throng through which I had to struggle, when in a fit of desperation I tore my way through the crowd, plunged into a by lane, and after passing through several obscure nooks and angles, emerged into a quaint and quiet court with a grassplot in the centre, overhung by elms, and kept perpetually fresh and green by a fountain with its sparkling jet of water. A student with book in hand was seated on a stone bench, partly reading, partly meditating on the movements of two or three trim nursery maids with their infant charges.

I was like an Arab, who had suddenly come upon an oasis amid the panting sterility of the desert. By degrees the quiet and coolness of the place soothed my nerves and refreshed my spirit. I pursued my walk, and came, hard by to a very ancient chapel, with a low-browed Saxon portal of massive and rich architecture. The interior was circular and lofty, and lighted from above. Around were monumental tombs of ancient date, on which were extended the marble effigies of warriors in armor. Some had the hands devoutly crossed upon the breast; others grasped the pommel of the sword, menacing hostility even in the tomb! — while the crossed legs of several indicated soldiers of the Faith who had been on crusades to the Holy Land.

I was, in fact, in the chapel of the Knights Templars, strangely situated in the very centre of sordid traffic; and I do not know a more impressive lesson for the man of the world than thus suddenly to turn aside from the highway of busy money-seeking life, and sit down among these shadowy sepulchres, where all is twilight, dust, and forgetfulness.

In a subsequent tour of observation, I encountered another of these relics of a “foregone world” locked up in the heart of the city. I had been wandering for some time through dull monotonous streets, destitute of any thing to strike the eye or excite the imagination, when I beheld before me a Gothic gateway of mouldering antiquity. It opened into a spacious quadrangle forming the court-yard of a stately Gothic pile, the portal of which stood invitingly open.

It was apparently a public edifice, and as I was antiquity hunting, I ventured in, though with dubious steps. Meeting no one either to oppose or rebuke my intrusion, I continued on until I found myself in a great hall, with a lofty arched roof and oaken gallery, all of Gothic architecture. At one end of the hall was an enormous fireplace, with wooden settles on each side; at the other end was a raised platform, or dais, the seat of state, above which was the portrait of a man in antique garb, with a long robe, a ruff, and a venerable gray beard.

The whole establishment had an air of monastic quiet and seclusion, and what gave it a mysterious charm, was, that I had not met with a human being since I had passed the threshold.

Encouraged by this loneliness, I seated myself in a recess of a large bow window, which admitted a broad flood of yellow sunshine, checkered here and there by tints from panes of colored glass; while an open casement let in the soft summer air. Here, leaning my head on my hand, and my arm on an old oaken table, I indulged in a sort of reverie about what might have been the ancient uses of this edifice. It had evidently been of monastic origin; perhaps one of those collegiate establishments built of yore for the promotion of learning, where the patient monk, in the ample solitude of the cloister, added page to page and volume to volume, emulating in the production of his brain the magnitude of the pile he inhabited.

As I was seated in this musing mood, a small panelled door in an arch at the upper end of the hall was opened, and a number of gray-headed old men, clad in long black cloaks, came forth one by one; proceeding in that manner through the hall, without uttering a word, each turning a pale face on me as he passed, and disappearing through a door at the lower end.

I was singularly struck with their appearance; their black cloaks and antiquated air comported with the style of this most venerable and mysterious pile. It was as if the ghosts of the departed years, about which I had been musing, were passing in review before me. Pleasing myself with such fancies, I set out, in the spirit of romance, to explore what I pictured to myself a realm of shadows, existing in the very centre of substantial realities.

My ramble led me through a labyrinth of interior courts, and corridors, and dilapidated cloisters, for the main edifice had many additions and dependencies, built at various times and in various styles; in one open space a number of boys, who evidently belonged to the establishment, were at their sports; but everywhere I observed those mysterious old gray men in black mantles, sometimes sauntering alone, sometimes conversing in groups: they appeared to be the pervading genii of the place. I now called to mind what I had read of certain colleges in old times, where judicial astrology, geomancy, necromancy, and other forbidden and magical sciences were taught. Was this an establishment of the kind, and were these black-cloaked old men really professors of the black art?

These surmises were passing through my mind as my eye glanced into a chamber, hung round with all kinds of strange and uncouth objects; implements of savage warfare; strange idols and stuffed alligators; bottled serpents and monsters decorated the mantelpiece; while on the high tester of an old-fashioned bedstead grinned a human skull, flanked on each side by a dried cat.

I approached to regard more narrowly this mystic chamber, which seemed a fitting laboratory for a necromancer, when I was startled at beholding a human countenance staring at me from a dusky corner. It was that of a small, shrivelled old man, with thin cheeks, bright eyes, and gray wiry projecting eyebrows. I at first doubted whether it were not a mummy curiously preserved, but it moved, and I saw that it was alive. It was another of these black-cloaked old men, and, as I regarded his quaint physiognomy, his obsolete garb, and the hideous and sinister objects by which he was surrounded, I began to persuade myself that I had come upon the arch mago, who ruled over this magical fraternity.

Seeing me pausing before the door, he rose and invited me to enter. I obeyed, with singular hardihood, for how did I know whether a wave of his wand might not metamorphose me into some strange monster, or conjure me into one of the bottles on his mantelpiece? He proved, however, to be any thing but a conjurer, and his simple garrulity soon dispelled all the magic and mystery with which I had enveloped this antiquated pile and its no less antiquated inhabitants.

It appeared that I had made my way into the centre of an ancient asylum for superannuated tradesmen and decayed householders, with which was connected a school for a limited number of boys. It was founded upwards of two centuries since on an old monastic establishment, and retained somewhat of the conventual air and character. The shadowy line of old men in black mantles who had passed before me in the hall, and whom I had elevated into magi, turned out to be the pensioners returning from morning service in the chapel.

John Hallum, the little collector of curiosities, whom I had made the arch magician, had been for six years a resident of the place, and had decorated this final nestling-place of his old age with relics and rarities picked up in the course of his life. According to his own account he had been somewhat of a traveller; having been once in France, and very near making a visit to Holland. He regretted not having visited the latter country, “as then he might have said he had been there.”— He was evidently a traveller of the simplest kind.

He was aristocratical too in his notions; keeping aloof, as I found, from the ordinary run of pensioners. His chief associates were a blind man who spoke Latin and Greek, of both which languages Hallum was profoundly ignorant; and a broken-down gentleman who had run through a fortune of forty thousand pounds left him by his father, and ten thousand pounds, the marriage portion of his wife. Little Hallum seemed to consider it an indubitable sign of gentle blood as well as of lofty spirit to be able to squander such enormous sums.

P.S. The picturesque remnant of old times into which I have thus beguiled the reader is what is called the Charter House, originally the Chartreuse. It was founded in 1611, on the remains of an ancient convent, by Sir Thomas Sutton, being one of those noble charities set on foot by individual munificence, and kept up with the quaintness and sanctity of ancient times amidst the modern changes and innovations of London. Here eighty broken-down men, who have seen better days, are provided, in their old age, with food, clothing, fuel, and a yearly allowance for private expenses. They dine together as did the monks of old, in the hall which had been the refectory of the original convent. Attached to the establishment is a school for forty-four boys.

Stow, whose work I have consulted on the subject, speaking of the obligations of the gray-headed pensioners, says, “They are not to intermeddle with any business touching the affairs of the hospital, but to attend only to the service of God, and take thankfully what is provided for them, without muttering, murmuring, or grudging. None to wear weapon, long hair, colored boots, spurs or colored shoes, feathers in their hats, or any ruffian-like or unseemly apparel, but such as becomes hospital men to wear.” “And in truth,” adds Stow, “happy are they that are so taken from the cares and sorrows of the world, and fixed in so good a place as these old men are; having nothing to care for, but the good of their souls, to serve God and to live in brotherly love.”

For the amusement of such as have been interested by the preceding sketch, taken down from my own observation, and who may wish to know a little more about the mysteries of London, I subjoin a modicum of local history, put into my hands by an odd-looking old gentleman in a small brown wig and a snuff-colored coat, with whom I became acquainted shortly after my visit to the Charter House. I confess I was a little dubious at first, whether it was not one of those apocryphal tales often passed off upon inquiring travellers like myself; and which have brought our general character for veracity into such unmerited reproach. On making proper inquiries, however, I have received the most satisfactory assurances of the author’s probity; and, indeed, have been told that he is actually engaged in a full and particular account of the very interesting region in which he resides; of which the following may be considered merely as a foretaste.

 Refer:
  • http://f.ttwang.net/RoomFile/NewsShow.aspx?RoomId=9742&NewsId=10402;
  • http://www.thecharterhouse.org/blog/london-antiques-washington-irving/;
  • https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/i/irving/washington/i72s/antiques.html;
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sketch_Book_of_Geoffrey_Crayon,_Gent.;
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Irving;

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