Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/241

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219
DISCIPLES OF DESCARTES.

not distract myself from every-day life. I laid the book down and took another, or went out and dissipated my vexation and my cares."

"How is it then that you pass for so enthusiastic a disciple of Descartes, and sometimes are really such?"

"I must go rather far back for that. In the first place I am mostly a Cartesian, because I have gone through much the same career of doubt as the founder of the school. My father was pastor of the place where I was born; from childhood I sat in his library and read everything. Witch legends, history, anatomy, alchemy and theology, all came alike to me if I had something to read. When I was older, this miscellaneous knowledge mixed and fermented in my brain; religious doubts intervened; in nothing and in no occupation could I find any real pleasure. After my father's death, to the great scandal of the worthy citizens of my native town, I led a somewhat loose life, but that did not amuse me long. I tied up my bundle and followed the banners of Gustavus Adolphus as a volunteer. I was employed as commissioner to raise the contributions demanded by the Swedish host from my native town, and so gained considerable importance among my fellow citizens. The trade of war, for it was nothing more, soon wearied me. In camp and on the march doubts of all the faiths, for whose differences men fought so bloodily, overtook me. It was