蓝诗玲《鸦片战争》第二章 DaoGuang’s Decision翻译

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蓝诗玲《鸦片战争》第二章 DaoGuang’s Decision翻译


以下是英国翻译家Julia Lovell的著作《鸦片战争》第二章 部分英中文对照

英文原著: 蓝诗玲(Julia Lovell)

中文翻译: 刘悦斌


Chapter Two

第二章 道光皇帝的决定

Once he took the throne in 1820, though, Daoguang’s nerve seems to have deserted him. Gaze at his official portrait – arrayed in the standard-issue bulky red turban, yellow brocade gown and beaded necklace of Qing emperorship – and he looks a different creature from his predecessors: the face pinched, angular, just a touch apprehensive, compared to his father’s expansive jowliness, or his grandfather’s patrician gravitas. He quickly abandoned displays of machismo for the laudable, but less charismatic virtues of parsimony and diligence. He draped his apartments with exhortations to ‘Be Respectful, Honest, Assiduous, Correcting of Errors’.1 On becoming emperor, he issued a cost-cutting ‘Treatise on Music, Women, Goods and Profit’, began going about in patched clothes and reduced his fun-loving father’s resident troupe of palace musicians and actors from some 650 to a more restrained 370-odd, while halving Jiaqing’s 400-strong army of cooks. As he aged, he left instructions that – contrary to custom – he modestly wanted no panegyric tablet erected at his tomb.

Daoguang’s two least successful attributes were probably indecision and a fondness for scapegoating others. A day or two after he had succeeded his father, he removed three key advisers for letting a mistake slip into his deceased father’s valedictory edict; a couple of days later, he reinstated two of them.2 He even changed his mind about a choice of final resting place. Having spent seven years building one tomb, the would-be underground palace sprang a leak; reading this as deeply inauspicious, Daoguang punished the officials responsible and abandoned the project in favour of a new site. By the time it was completed, after another four years, the ‘Hall of Eminent Favour’ – the only Qing imperial tomb built entirely of unpainted cedar-wood – spoke of the emperor’s love of frugality. (Compare the 2.27 million taels of silver – almost 3.5 million silver dollars – and 4,590 taels of gold spent by Cixi, the last empress, on her own tomb, in which even the bricks were carved and gilded.)3 This talent for vacillation – and for censuring and replacing any commander who did not achieve impossible victories – would serve him badly in his wars against opium and the British.

During the 1830s, there was much to occupy the mind of any emperor: a steep decline in public order, finances and – most worrying of all – in the Qing military machine, whose weaknesses were being exploited by a broad range of domestic rebels (vagrants, dispossessed ethnic minorities, secret societies).

After recovering from the horrors of the seventeenth century – its wars, plagues and crop failures – the Chinese population under the remarkable Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong at least doubled between 1650 and 1800, to reach some 300 million. New World silver flowed through the empire, thanks in part to a healthy export trade, the proliferation of an empire-wide network of markets and the emancipation of previously servile labourers. But size, diversity and silver turned against the Qing at the end of its eighteenth-century heyday. At this point, the empire was approaching its limits, as demographic explosion led to fierce competition for work and resources, ecological degradation, price rises, bureaucratic chaos and corruption. Critically, things also began to go wrong in the Qing military. By the second half of the eighteenth century, the Qing’s earlier capacity for dominating its borders was looking more questionable. Three invasions of Burma between 1766 and 1769 were defeated or stalemated, as Qing cavalry became bogged down along the humid south-western frontier; an occupation of Vietnam in 1788 was chased out within a month, with the loss of 4,000 troops. The root cause of decline was the same as in other spheres of government: over-extension, and failure of funds.