Upton Sinclair, ed. (18781968). The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.
The Springtime of Peace (From Studies in Socialism)
By Jean Léon Jaurès
(Editor of lHumanité, and leader of the French Socialist movement, 18591914; probably the most eminent of Socialist parliamentarians, assassinated by a fanatic at the outbreak of the war with Germany. The following is the peroration of a speech delivered at an Anglo-French parliamentary dinner, 1903)
THE MAJESTY of suffering labor is no longer dumb: it speaks now with a million tongues, and it asks the nations not to increase the ills which crush down the workers by an added burden of mistrust and hate, by wars and the expectation of wars.
Gentlemen, you may ask how and when and in what form this longing for international concord will express itself to some purpose. I can only answer you by a parable which I gleaned 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 lancelike 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 whose noble branches have been broken by the storm?
What happened at last? By what mysterious influence was the grim charm broken? Did some tree find the courage to act alone, like those April poplars that break into a shower of verdure, and give from afar the signal for a renewal of all life? Or did a warmer and more life-giving beam start the sap moving in all the trees at once? For lo! in a single day the whole forest burst forth into a magnificent flowering of joy and peace.