|Vol. IV, No. 7
Tishry 5607, October 1846
The Two Springs.
As I was wandering through one of those lovely eastern countries from which the unclouded sun looks ever unchangeably bright, and on which he delights to shower his choicest treasures, I paused on the brow of a mountain, at whose foot gushed forth a gentle spring, whose clear and pellucid waters looked invitingly to the thirsty lip. The modest moss, entwined with emerald grass, gemmed it round, and within its clear and unfathomed depths lay reflected the azure heavens, with all their shining glories. Not a weed or a bush grew around, for the soil, rendered pure by the colourless waters within its bosom, gave birth only to those things that were emblematical of truth.
Overshadowing this lovely fountain, grew a tree, whose lofty height pierced the clouds, and whose wide-spread branches threw a pleasing shade over the fragrant turf. Amongst its green leaves the fruit and flower budded forth together—fruit wreathed with flowers, and flowers enclosing fruit within their calices. Nor were the fruit or flowers all alike; for some would not more than satisfy the first longings of childhood: these were on the end of drooping branches, that bowed themselves at every zephyr’s breath so low, that the tiny hand of infancy might seize them; others grew larger as they neared the upper branches; whilst, high in air, far out of the reach of those who might wish to gather without toil, grew those whose size might satisfy the utmost cravings of manly appetite. All seemed ripe, all of the same colour,—a gentle mingling of white and blushing red; and yet, methought, the higher fruit exhibited a more ecstatic perfume, and seemed encircled with a calmer and more lovely halo; like the light that the full autumnal moon throws over some beautiful landscape.
The roots of the tree seemed to have struck deep and firm; for at times, when the winds howled and prostrated all before them, it shook not; neither did the rain pierce through the impervious folds of its green drapery; but ever and anon, through the midst of the roar of the tempest, a low and gentle whisper was sent from leaf to leaf, telling of conscious strength and lofty hopes. The fount seemed to give freshness to the tree, the tree life and shelter to the fountain; for it secured it from the whirlwind’s wrath, and prevented the clouds of dust that swept the heavens from contaminating its crystal purity.
Near by, just without the far-reaching shadow of the majestic tree, oozed forth another spring: oh, how unlike the first! nstead of the modest moss and emerald grass, ‘twas encircled by gay and gaudy-flowers of every shape and hue! The bee-orchid, the lavender plant, vied with the rosy and golden amaryllis in luxuriance; while fringed with the bulrush, the snapdragon, and bugloss; the catch-fly, the fragrant basil, and snaky cactus, grew and bloomed; whilst high, overtopping all, the haughty turnsol threw its broad disk towards the sun. A thousand streamlets were formed from the waters that overflowed the banks of the fountain, which curiously increased in volurne, though joined by no other waters, the further they flowed from the parent source. These too were bordered with flowers, that grew and spread till the streams, whose fertility was the cause of their existence, were lost to the view. The golden hellenium, the rose-coloured circaea, the wreathed mezereon, the flowering clematis, and graceful columbine, blended their perfume with the sweet musk and lovely tuberose. Every thing that could please the fancy, whose judgment was enthralled, grew to a gigantic size: earth here way triumphant, and no view of heaven sought the tangled shades.
As I gazed upon the scene beneath me, I beheld a great concourse of people, of both sexes, approaching—tottling infancy, trustful childhood, blooming maturity, and decrepit age. Some seemed overcome with fatigue, ahungry and athirst; others looked fresh and blooming, as if their journey had been calm and pleasant. As they approached, many were attracted by the gay flowers, which they plucked with eagerness, and stooped to slake their thirst from the streamlets at their feet; they then looked around for something to appease their hunger; the grateful smell of the fruit of the manchineel-tree drew many to taste, whilst the barberry, quince, and bilberry, which grew in a cluster on the right, offered their fruits to satisfy the longings of the rest. Having partaken to satiety, they turned to gaze and jeer at the graver few who quenched their thirst at the solitary fount. These last seemed to lose all sense of pails and fatigue as they quaffed the crystal waters, and with brightened countenances turned to partake of the fruit from the tree above there. Pleased with the taste, they looked for others to share with them the bounteous store. Indeed it was a pleasant sight to see:—here the tottering infant would throw the exquisite flowers around its brow, and then, with childish glee, look up to the fond parent for her rewarding smile; there the young and tender maiden would seize the loaded branches, as they waved and bent in their graceful undulations, whilst the manly youth, in whose sparkling eyes beamed the fire of high thoughts joined to virtuous perceptions, plucked the blushing fruit; here would old age call infancy around them to partake of the stores they had gathered, and there the timid youth would share with the blind and decrepit the fruit which he had found to be so inspiring; whilst some few made their way up a steep and difficult ascent, from whose top they could pluck the fruit that grew upon the upper branches. Their toil seemed well repaid in the pleasure they experienced in partaking of the refreshing fruit; with this they revived the strength of those who had fainted on the way, besides bringing back sufficient to supply the farther wants of their journey. All, however, were not so provident; for some, whilst satisfying their own wants, had suffered their children to stray and pluck the variegated blossoms that grew near the other fountain; whence, seeking to reclaim them, some stopped to taste the changing waters, which reflected every flower that grew above them, when, seeming to forget their purpose, they went not back; others succeeded in withdrawing their children from the gay scene, but many returned thither again, and were hidden from their parents’ view by its intricacies; whilst some few, who had first stopped at the nearer spring, strolled to the other, seemingly through curiosity, but once having tasted its waters, showed no disposition to forsake them. Some there were who had as yet partaken of nothing, but resting from their fatigues, thought there was time enough for refreshment; but now the shades of night drew on apace, and each party (save this last few,) supplied themselves with fruits and waters to last them during their further journey. All set out, nor did their paths, at starting, diverge much from each other. I noticed those who had neglected to refresh themselves until it was too late, pursued their journey with difficulty; the heat of the sun, though on the decline, seemed too mach for their enfeebled strength, and gladly availing themselves of a by-way fringed with the yew and cypress, they pursued their way, forced on by a power not their own; but they had not proceeded far before they fell into various pitfalls, that were hidden by the rotten branches and dry leaves that had fallen from the trees above.
Those, who had plucked the fruit from the solitary tree pressed on, right onward, turning not to the right nor to the left, but surmounted every difficulty they found on their path, and whenever overcome with fatigue, they drew fresh vigour from the fruits and waters they had brought with them, which, though partaken largely of, diminished not.
The others turned into every by-path to shun each obstacle they met; though they ate and drank freely, their hunger was not appeased, nor their thirst abated: fatigued with their travel, they saw darkness advancing with rapid strides, and with eager haste hurried on to the margin of a stream which they must pass ere the light left them, as their haven lay beyond. Many of the first had already plunged into the dark waters, nor did their burdens retard their progress; but, buoyed up by the fruit of the tree that they had brought with them, they quickly arrived at the farther shore. Of the latter, many plunged headlong in;—down! down they sank! struggling with their last gasp to retain the fruits they had gathered. Others, warned by the fate of their comrades, sought help from those who floated so calmly over the deep gulf; nor did they call in vain;—sharing with them their choice stores, hand and hand they passed over the calm waters, to the beautiful country beyond. But many, very many turned from the offered glass in scorn, and relying upon the strength of their own arm, commenced crossing; but the opposite shores receded from their gaze, and darkness closed around them. In their despair they attempted to regain the shore they had left; but, blinded by the storm that now commenced to rage, one by one they sank to the bottom, and when the lightning flashed over the scene, not a soul appeared above the tranquil and motionless waters.
As I sat musing over the sad fate of those, who, but a moment since, were revelling in all the pride of being, my revery was interrupted by the approach of an old man, whose rapt and serene countenance gave tone to the thoughts of my soul.
My son, said he, grievest thou for the loss of those who have just passed away from before thy vision? Rather rejoice that some were saved ere it was too late. Listen and I will explain the scene to thee.—The tree, whose roots pierce through the valley at our feet, and whose branches hide themselves in the clouds above us, whose fruit had such virtuous power, is the tree of the LAW, whose fruit is within the reach of all. The flowers that thou seest around the fruit, are home ties and holy affections, as the love towards mankind and each living creature, causes the fruit of the law to mature till it fill the calyx (the heart) of all nature. The spring at its foot contains the waters of faith, whose waters are capable of purifying the desires of the heart, and satisfying the most burning thirst of the intellect. Those whom thou sawest climbing the hill, were the teachers of the law, thus bringing its most precious gifts within the reach of all, so that no longing should remain unsatisfied. Thou hast seen that the pure waters and the living fruit preserved their possessors from every ill on the way, and bore them safely across that stream, whose utmost boundary the darkness shut from thy view. The other spring that thou seest is called the fountain of error: from it flow the thousand streams of pride, folly, and duplicity, which increase in volume as they progress onward, without addition from sources without, as error multiplies and engenders its manifold abortions, the farther it wanders from the light of truth. Each one, as thou sawest, drew no refreshment from its waters, nor vigour from the fruits that grew near; but, intoxicated with the perfume arising from the flowers that bloomed around, pursued the ever-flying phantom, happiness founded upon earthy desires, and at every draught of the pernicious waters, became deeper involved within the mazes of falsehood, whose weight at last sank them in the gulf of eternity. The last few, who fell into the pitfalls by the way, were those who constantly deferred the execution of their duties, and think to-morrow they will follow the dictates of conscience; but time waits for for their supineness, and they must prosecute the journey through life; unprepared for its final catastrophe, till the inexorable present grasps them in its irresistible embrace, and they sink, ere night, into the pits of dissolution.
Be wise then, my son, and profit by what thou hast this day see; and believe that not a flower blows, not a leaf withers, but teachers, in the language of Nature, lessons that incite to good, or that warn from evil: blame not thou Providence, but thy perverseness, if thou extractest the gall instead of the honey from the herb on the way-side of life; for thou needest but to stretch forth thy hand, and the fruits that invigorate and heal are at all times within thy grasp.