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Maria Honoria. Herr Kerkering, give the two gentlemen your hands. We have long been allies; we four will represent the circle which includes and reconciles all religious differences."

"I am afraid that is the reverse problem of the squaring of the circle," said Oldenburg as he joined them, and added, "You go even further than Hugo Grotius, who also dreamed of an eternal Peace of the Religions, but forgot the Jews in his projected union."

Olympia took Kerkering's hands and placed them in the hands of the two friends.

"Always extravagant and arbitrary!" said Oldenburg to Spinoza, as they went away. "Women never can resist match-making; if they are married, they try to find similar good fortune for others; if they have one friend, another must be his friend also, even if by force. What has this Kerkering, whom she treats like an automaton, to do with us?"

"You should not be so discontented with such alliances," replied Spinoza; "it is another example for your lord and master, Descartes. Without the perpetual external interference of a higher third element no real existence can be imagined; all would fall to pieces."