Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/271

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249
HANDICRAFT.

him. Conquering all sensitiveness, Spinoza only noticed the latter, and his gentle yet self-possessed manner turned off all rudeness; his companions soon acquired a certain half unwilling respect for Spinoza. A short, impressive sentence spoken by him often worked long in the minds of those who heard it. Master Huyghens, and his wife too, soon became fond of the modest, quiet young man. These were not shepherds and fishermen, not men of simple life in continual intercourse with eternal nature, with whom he could live like the wise of old, enriching and widening his own intelligence. It was a world whose activity lay far from aboriginal simplicity; whose inhabitants spent their days in every imaginable noise; on whose minds even on holidays it was difficult to impress a word. But by the rushing brook or the whirring wheel the souls of men are as alike as the winds that carry the different waves of sound, and the priesthood that serves the eternal laws must be perpetually renewed. As in nature each plant shoots upward, it lives for itself alone, and yet to the minds of men it seems to open and close with the greatest uniformity; so the activity of mankind is divided into different callings, each man being devoted to one in particular, and striving to fulfil it; but to the thinking mind all are united in the working of one great machine. Spinoza felt especially glad to stand in the ranks of those who earn their daily bread by