Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/327

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305
PROSELYTES.

highest crown of humanity; as I am live thousands of the great multitude; I must surrender myself prisoner. But if I see a friend, gifted with an exalted and commanding mind, letting himself be imprisoned within the four walls of commonplace, bowing his great mind to serve a self-created idol, I would spurn him from me; for he thus becomes a traitor to the greatness and majesty of his calling; but if he can keep that ideal, which has never perfectly appeared to his consciousness, pure and high, I esteem him happy."

"A sad martyrdom it is to which you condemn the higher minds," said Olympia.

The shades of night were falling; they separated.

Spinoza accompanied Olympia home. She hung on his arm. He did not know how he had gained courage and good fortune for such close communion. Old Van den Ende took care of Cecilia. Olympia and Spinoza followed in silence. When they came to the roadside house Olympia said:

"Look, there is the well in which the weak, good-natured Barläus drank his death. Would it not have been more reasonable and manly to give up his faith than his life?"

"We have not given ourselves either faith or life," answered Spinoza. "Suicide of either one or the other is cowardly and weak; strength lies in bearing one and the other; deny yourself for them, or learn to free them." Olympia was silent.