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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/224

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Studies in Socialism

that there is more pathos than danger in evoking it.

And if you press me to risk a prophecy on my own account, I can only answer you by a parable which seems a little strange still and obscure. I gleaned it by fragments from the legends of Merlin the magician, from the Arabian Nights, and from a book that is still unread.

Once upon a time there was an enchanted forest. It had been stripped of all verdure, it was wild and forbidding. The trees, tossed by the bitter winter wind that never ceased, struck one another with a sound as of breaking swords. When at last, after a long series of freezing nights and sunless days that seemed like nights, all living things trembled with the first call of spring, the trees became afraid of the sap that began to move within them. And the solitary and bitter spirit that had its dwelling within the hard bark of each of them said very low, with a shudder that came up from the deepest roots: "Have a care! If thou art the first to risk yielding to the wooing of the new season, if thou art the first to turn thy lance-like buds into blossoms and leaves, their delicate raiment will be torn by the rough blows of the trees that have been slower to put forth leaves and flowers."

And the proud and melancholy spirit that was shut up within the great Druidical oak spoke to its tree with peculiar insistence: "And wilt thou, too, seek to join the universal love-feast, thou