Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/139

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117
TALMUD AND LATIN.

Talmud, So does he with Greek and Latin. Shy as he is of his fellows, he holds all mankind alike deaf to his heart without distinction; and timid as he looks when people are with him, he is bold, nay, overbold, against them when he has his pen in his hand, and his ever-ready companions in arms, his books, at his side. By means of his extraordinary memory he can any minute raise a whole host of witnesses. This Nigritius is a truly extraordinary man."

"It is a dreary life to live so much alone, not a soul near him, only books, books; I could not live like that," said Baruch.

"I believe you," answered the physician. "You see that is another unseen though incalculably valuable point of superiority in our religion; it is impossible that such hermit natures should arise within it. Unless some one has cut loose from all sacred duties,—which, God be praised, has never happened yet unpunished, and which would not be permitted, how could any one manage to live alone? To pray—three times a day in company with at least ten co-religionists, and to attend the synagogue without fail every Sabbath and fast-day, these are simple precepts which make a hermit's seclusion impossible. And such narrow pedantic natures, with their minute hair-splitting and small so-called love of order, which are so common in this country, you never meet among the Jews; that comes of their