乔治•华盛顿鲜为人知的人生故事(一)

by 钱绛

乔治•华盛顿鲜为人知的人生故事(一)

1
美国7月4日独立节降临了,烟花、礼炮、星条旗热闹地竞相绽放飞舞,可就是没有上口的爱国小曲好哼,那《星条旗永不落》虽说跟《义勇军进行曲》异曲同工,但很难激发半路归化的移民,从调门到歌词我至今都靠不上谱,也始终没法让我产生“咱们万众一心冒着敌人的炮火前进!前进!!前进进!!!”的热血沸腾。如果入籍时不要求知道Francis Scott Key是谁,而是考唱”Oh say can you see…,” 那我保证川普连那城墙也可省了。红歌真的很耐唱,简单明朗,铿锵有力,经久不息。不仅奏效,更主要的是熟悉的旋律,触动整整一代人怀旧的心弦。刘欢最新自弹自唱的流行版《国际歌》,管他是用啥语言,让海内外为之一振,那才叫“中国好声音”,《夜来香》一比就相形见绌,成了十足的靡靡之音;还有,连奥巴马也会起劲摇滚《社会主义好!》…… 忽生奇想,《东方红》、《大海航行靠舵手》配美国国庆岂不锦上添曲,相得益彰,何不来一段“太阳最红,华主席最亲”试试看?

2,The Lansdowne portrait is an iconic oil-on-canvas portrait of George Washington, the first President of the United States.

伟大领袖的光辉形象,古往今来四海之内都是不容亵渎的,当然,歌功颂德做法和程度因时而异,政治和宗教上的正确要求也有区分。但总的来讲,无论皇帝还是总统,先知还是教皇,他们再是人,也要被老百姓奉为神,变的高高在上,遥不可及,睥睨群雄且完美无瑕。也许,正是这样,“人子”耶稣才被免去了人性;而合众国的先父华盛顿,也自始至终顶着神圣的桂冠被载入传奇史册。

3,The Apotheosis of Washington is the fresco painted by Greek-Italian artist Constantino Brumidi in 1865 and visible through the oculus of the dome in the rotunda of the United States Capitol Building.

一说起乔治•华盛顿,成年人马上联想到的是美国第一任总统、将军元帅、大陆议会代表等两世纪前的美国罗马大帝:

4,George Washington is a massive sculpture by Horatio Greenough commissioned for the centennial of U.S President George Washington’s birth in February 22, 1732.

小孩子会告诉你华盛顿从小就是他们学习的诚实勇敢的好榜样,淘气砍了他老爸的一棵樱桃树后,敢做敢当:
5, ”Father, I Can Not Tell a Lie: I Cut the Tree,” engraving by John C. McRae, 1867. *

日本人不管传说是真是假,乘机借花献佛,把樱花树竟从东京移植到了华府的金水河边,让美德像柳樱季季盛开,永垂不朽;八卦者也能讲上一堆华盛顿天赋异禀的祥云吉兆,外加他那口要命的牙齿。

6,Upside down above Washington in The Apotheosis of Washington is the banner E Pluribus Unum meaning “out of many, one”.

但我万万没想到的是,今年春天我去参加首都郊外的月光酿酒节(Moonshine Brewery Fest) 的时候,头回听说了华盛顿不仅烟酒具沾,竟也是第一个在美洲繁殖骡的农夫。我实在难以置信,当场掏出苹果机向谷老师请教,顿时脸红。回去后继续挖掘,结果非但铁证如山,而且还发现了更多花边资料,突出了华盛顿革命前后一向被忽略的私生活。

以下列举的若干伟人琐事,旨在通过爆料华盛顿鲜为人知的人生故事,更辩证和深入地看待这个在历史关键时刻领导创立崭新民主体制的先贤的多维性,玩味他和普通人一样的痴缠与割舍,体验他的无奈与蹉跎、铅华洗净、返璞归真。

华盛顿是有史以来最富有的总统

华尔街根据华盛顿财产放在今天来讲的等值,也就是相当于5亿美元以上,把他列为历来最富有的总统。他曾拥有大片土地以及至少800名奴隶,虽说他一生中也有过债务问题,但还是改变不了他根本属于贵族豪绅的事实。尤其给我留下深刻印象的是,无论十年前拜谒以《独立宣言》伸张天赋人权的托马斯•杰斐逊 (Thomas Jefferson) 的故居–五美分硬币背面的蒙蒂塞洛(Monticello),还是去年参观华总统的“佛农山庄”(Mount Vernon)家园,或最近再访费城的“自由钟”(Liberty Bell),除了惊羡不已美国在十八世纪中下叶,一口气竟出了若干个像杰斐逊、本杰明•富兰克林和华盛顿等“人类几百年才出一个”的全才 (Renaissance man) ,而且,也都毫无例外地领受了历史修正主义对这些国父们的否定、批判、教育,揭露天才们曾是不光彩的大庄园主,剥削甚至到处捉拿逃奴。尤其是眼下,非裔族群的生命价值倍加需要重视,既往必咎!

7,

那么,华盛顿是如何敛财聚富的?

8,华盛顿总统出生地

9,李将军祖宅上空飞翔无人机

华总统在北脖子 (Northern Neck) 的出身地乍看谦和文秀,不像隔壁李将军(Robert E. Lee) 家耀武扬威的祖宅 (Stratford Hall) ,没任何张扬的。事出有因,华家移美的先驱祖宗,乃总统的太爷约翰•华盛顿(John Washington),来自英格兰的一个书香门第,8岁就被在牛津大学从事神职研究的父亲劳伦斯,送进伦敦一间专门预备举人的特许学堂。不幸,英国内乱让忠臣派劳伦斯丢位解职,几个受牵连的儿子被牛津拒之门外,老婆孩子只好投奔一个侯爵亲戚。寄人篱下的逆境中,约翰抓住跟一个伦敦商人学徒的机会,掌握了宝贵的殖民贸易知识和谋生技能。1656年,23岁的他投资给一艘运送烟草到欧洲市场的美洲商船,只身前往弗吉尼亚殖民地,翌年抵达,在北脖子落脚。

10,
别以为总统出自寒门,人家祖上非等闲之辈,吉星自有天助,精彩层出不穷。起初,约翰暂居一个种植园主家,很快爱上并娶了房东的千金,老丈人给上门女婿送的大婚之礼,是位于北脖子威斯特摩兰县(Westmoreland County)700英亩(2.8平方公里)的马托克斯溪(Mattox Creek)。 在这个基础上,靠着使用奴隶和契佣,约翰经营起了烟草和粮食种植,结果旗开得胜,大获成功。1674年的一个认证土地调查显示,种植面积为5000英亩的大片土地批给了约翰•华盛顿,这就是后人熟知的华盛顿故居—佛农山庄 (Mount Vernon)。站稳脚根后,约翰不忘父亲对他从小的栽培,积极参政,当选为弗吉尼亚议员,继而又被任命为弗吉尼亚民兵上校,在美洲边疆农民首次掀起的殖民地暴动 “培根起义”(Bacon’s Rebellion)事件中,因大刀阔斧地征伐印第安人,深受民众拥戴,这样,如愿以偿地登上了仕途。

下图:1674年土地调查认证,5千英亩的弗农山庄馈赐予约翰•华盛顿(Survey of 1674, certified by Thomas Lee, for 5,000-acre land grant to John Washington and Nicholas Spencer. Acreage later known as Mount Vernon.)
11,
到了第四代乔治,华盛顿家族算是中等级的弗吉尼亚小康绅士成员,还不属于主要种植大户。 可能是基因和营养的缘故,身高整整6英尺的英俊乔治,在同代人当中鹤立鸡群,仪表堂堂,还是能歌善舞,风流倜傥的年轻军官。20多岁择偶时,他慧眼相中了当时方圆里最大的名富婆玛莎寡妇(Martha Dandridge Custis),并从众多追求群雄中胜出,当时玛莎的求婚候选人中,查尔斯•卡特(Charles Carter)比乔治更富有。玛莎身价非同小可,第一任丈夫丹尼尔•帕克•卡斯蒂斯(Daniel Parke Custis)长玛莎20岁,拥有多个种植园,特别是赫赫有名的紧挨着华府的1100英亩阿灵顿(Arlington)大庄园,死时留给25岁的太太和三岁的儿子约翰大笔雄厚的遗产。1759年,27岁的玛莎与将近同龄的乔治光荣结婚,婚礼和蜜月都在女方豪华的“白宫庄园”举行,不难猜出这与后来美国第一家庭官邸同名的关联。玛莎的嫁妆包含将近100 个奴仆,供其享用一辈子。她带来的巨大财富使乔治如虎添翼,有能力添置了更多土地和奴隶,大大扩充了个人私有财产,从此青云直上。自始至终,肥水没流出卡斯蒂斯-华盛顿-李氏豪门的大亩良田。

此外,靠了家庭关系,青年时期的华盛顿就当上了相当于公务员职称的土地测量师,于是假公济私,乘机购买更多的良田宝地。婚后,与玛莎两家资产合并把经济实力挺到繁荣昌盛的巅峰。除了裙带世袭,他也善于多元化经营致富,不只在他家地上种烟草搞小农经济,而且还从事其他厚利来钱的商贸生意。

热血情郎华盛顿

12,A Love Letter from General Washington

“我对你始终保持海枯石烂不变心的坚贞爱情… ” 这句子到底是出自《傲慢与偏见》(Pride and Prejudice)… 还是乔治•华盛顿写的情书?

1799年华盛顿去世后,玛莎销毁了所有她与丈夫之间的通信。在乌烟瘴气的众目睽睽之下多年沧桑的她,也许行使了她唯一能够掌控的隐私权。仅有三封信逃脱了这场大劫,其中两封是在她死后从一个桌子的抽屉下面发现的,价值最高的当属敬爱的华盛顿在革命战争中亲笔写给妻子的短小却精美的家书:

    费城. 1775年6月23日
    我最亲爱的,
    在我马上就要离开此城的时候,一心想着非得给你写上几句再走;尤其这回我不知道要过多久,才能到达波士顿营地之后再有机会写信 — 我把一切交托给上苍,祂一直丰丰富富待我,多过我所应得的,因此我满怀信心期盼秋天的某个时辰与你幸福相会 — 恕我没时间多写了,因为好多人正围着我准备出发 — 无论时间还是距离,都无法改变我对你忠贞不渝的感情! 请把我最深的爱转达给杰克和艿丽及代向其余家人致以最诚挚的问候。
    全部属于你的,
    乔治•华盛顿

此信揭示了这人在平常沟通中难得一见的方面:他对爱人的眷恋以及擅长肝胆相照的表达才能。人们往往认为华盛顿是男子汉大丈夫,一向威严坚忍,严肃正经,不会卿卿我我,婆婆妈妈感情用事,甚至不食人间烟火…… 嗯,顶多像毛主席触景生情,给开慧同志吟一首《蝶恋花》罢了。然而,在这里,他却温馨地呼唤继子的小名杰克,周到细心地念叨儿媳艿丽加上其他亲人,而且,还念念不忘谦卑感激全能上帝对他忠实的看顾。即使时间紧迫,他仍细致入微、完全无保留地动情签上“你的整个乔治•华盛顿”。也许是前所未有的革命自由实验的前途未卜以及接二连三的战斗严酷,迫使将军把自己的情感透明化,戎马疆场折戟沉沙使他比以往感情更细腻,更珍惜牵挂和向往亲情和爱人。但不管动机如何,这封艰难岁月中匆匆忙忙赶出来的情书,却让我们有了一个见证玛莎和乔治•华盛顿关系的珍贵证据 – 在1775年绽放的花朵,今天依然浪漫温柔。

丧失两继儿,自己膝下无子
13,作于1789-1796期间的“华盛顿全家”画像(从左往右):乔治•华盛顿•帕克•卡斯蒂斯、乔治•华盛顿、埃莉诺•帕克•卡斯蒂斯、玛莎•华盛顿、以及姓名不详的一个奴仆。(The Washington Family by Edward Savage, painted between 1789 and 1796, shows (from left to right): George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington, Eleanor Parke Custis, Martha Washington, and an enslaved servant: probably William Lee or Christopher Sheels.)

似乎美中不足的是,华盛顿与玛莎婚后无嗣,虽然玛莎当时还很年轻,但不知什么原因没和华盛顿生育他们自己的孩子。但不碍事,乔治领养了玛莎与卡斯蒂斯生的儿女子孙,视同己出,确保庞大家业后继有人。1759年与华盛顿结婚时,玛莎寡妇带过来与前夫生的年幼的一子一女(Martha and John)。不幸的是,跟妈同名的继女玛莎16岁死于癫痫发作,而1781年,当革命在围困约克郡后刚刚取得胜利,军营里的继子约翰也染上重病,不治身亡。


待续……

注释:
* The cherry tree myth is the most well-known and longest enduring legend about George Washington. In the original story, when Washington was six years old he received a hatchet as a gift and damaged his father’s cherry tree. When his father discovered what he had done, he became angry and confronted him. Young George bravely said, “I cannot tell a lie…… I did cut it with my hatchet.” Washington’s father embraced him and rejoiced that his son’s honesty was worth more than a thousand trees.

Ironically, this iconic story about the value of honesty was invented by one of Washington’s first biographers, an itinerant minister and bookseller named Mason Locke Weems. After Washington’s death in 1799 people were anxious to learn about him, and Weems was ready to supply the demand. As he explained to a publisher in January 1800, “Washington you know is gone! Millions are gaping to read something about him…… My plan! I give his history, sufficiently minute…… I then go on to show that his unparalleled rise and elevation were due to his Great Virtues.” Weems’ biography, The Life of Washington, was first published in 1800 and was an instant bestseller. However the cherry tree myth did not appear until the book’s fifth edition was published in 1806.

Although there were other myths about Washington in Weems’s book, the cherry tree myth became the most popular. Weems had several motives when he wrote The Life of Washington and the cherry tree myth. Profit was certainly one of them; he rightly assumed that if he wrote a popular history book about Washington it would sell. Weems was also able to counter the early tradition of deifying Washington by focusing on his private virtues, rather than his public accomplishments. A Federalist admirer of order and self-discipline, Weems wanted to present Washington as the perfect role model, especially for young Americans. The book’s subtitle also shows how important Weems thought the anecdotes were to his book’s central purpose to make Washington a role model for his “Young Countrymen.”

The cherry tree myth and other stories showed readers that Washington’s public greatness was due to his private virtues. Washington’s achievements as a general and president were familiar to people in the early nineteenth century, but little was known about his relationship with his father, who died when Washington was only eleven years old. As one Pennsylvanian observed, “The facts and anecdotes collected by the author are well calculated to exhibit the character of that illustrious man, and Christian hero.” Weems knew what the public wanted to read, and as a result of his success he is considered one of the fathers of popular history.

Weems wrote his version of the cherry tree myth to appeal to a broad audience, but decades later William Holmes McGuffey composed a series of grammar school textbooks that recast the anecdote as a children’s story. McGuffey was a Presbyterian minister and a college professor who was passionate about teaching morality and religion to children. His books, known as McGuffey’s Readers, gave him the perfect opportunity. First published in 1836, the readers remained in print for nearly a hundred years and sold over 120 million copies.

McGuffey’s version of the cherry tree myth appeared in his Eclectic Second Reader for almost twenty years, including the German-language edition from 1854. In McGuffey’s version of the story, Washington’s language was formalized, and he showed more deference to his father’s authority. For example, when Washington’s father explains the sin of lying, McGuffey has young George respond tearfully, “Father, do I ever tell lies?”

As ministers concerned with moral and religious reform, McGuffey and Weems had similar motives for writing. Both men also believed that the best way to improve the moral fiber of society was to educate children. Washington provided the perfect role model, and McGuffey turned the cherry tree myth into a story specifically aimed at children. Follow-up questions at the end of McGuffey’s cherry tree story reinforce its message: “How did his father feel toward him when he made his confession? What may we expect by confessing our faults?”

By the 1830s, the cherry tree myth was firmly entrenched in American culture, as the case of Joice Heth clearly shows. Heth was an elderly enslaved woman purchased by P.T. Barnum in 1835. He made her into a sideshow attraction, billing her as the slave who had raised George Washington. (If true, this would have made her 161 years old.) Heth had many physical characteristics of extreme old age, most likely due to her lifetime in slavery. The stories she told about Washington–including the cherry tree myth–were right out of Weems. Heth was credible because she was telling stories that people already knew.

The cherry tree myth has endured for more than two hundred years probably because we like the story, which has become an important part of Americans’ cultural heritage. It has been featured in comic strips and cartoons, especially political cartoons. Americans like to use the myth as a standard for politicians; presidents from William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt to Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama have been featured in cherry-tree themed cartoons. The longevity of the cherry tree myth says a lot about both American ideals and Washington’s legacy.


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2017-02-20 17:29:57