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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/227

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Truth or Fiction?

they were a prey to the forces of nature, the plaything of winds and violent or treacherous currents.

Man, suddenly helpless and paralysed, was swallowed up by space. He was nothing more than a thing subject to the blind sway of the elements, and his mind was a passive spectator of the struggle of different forces; it could not control, it could not interfere. Man is really present only when thought is active and will is at least partly effective. So until now it was only a sort of effigy of man and not man himself who braved the heights. Now at last man with his imperious will and his definite and vigorous thought is asserting himself in the upper spaces.

It was not without emotion that I saw the balloon, after having turned on itself several times to test its power, start off swiftly and go in a straight line exactly to the spot toward which the mind of man was steering it by the rudder. Here was no longer the light caprice of natural forces, no longer the terrifying lawlessness of the currents and winds. In their place had been substituted the rectitude of human thought, the systematic inflexibility of the human will, master at last of what had been for us hitherto the region of the formless, the unregulated, and the chaotic. It was a splendid sight and stirred all one's mental pride.

As I watched that swift and well regulated flight I thought of Homer's marvellous intuition and of his magnificent simile in which he seems to have