Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/151

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129
THE TREATY OF PEACE.

"Hurrah for the United Provinces!" shouted one of the crowd, and, as if by electricity, all the assembly roared, "Hurrah for the United Provinces!" till the window-panes clattered with the shout. When silence ensued again, they all pressed round the master rope-maker who was still speaking.

"Brethren!" he cried, "obedience is the first duty of true citizens, obedience to the laws, and respect and regard for governors, whom we no longer receive from foreign tyrants, but whom we elect from among ourselves. I have heard many among you grumble that free citizens of the Republic are made to wait down here, while those above sit behind locked doors, and keep for themselves the state secrets which belong to us all, one as much as another. You all know, brethren, I love freedom as much as any one. Without thinking twice I would hang my best halter round the neck of my own son if I heard that he was a traitor to freedom, or might become one. I hate those court flatterers, who would make themselves out better than we, as I hate Old Nick. So you may trust me that I mean well by you when I persuade you to be quiet. There may be cases in which the fathers of the Republic hold it better not to trumpet the news to every wind. Think for yourselves; there might be traitors among us!"

"Down with traitors! Hurrah for freedom!" burst from the crowd in one enthusiastic shout.