Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/347

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STILL LIFE.

tion to the stormy excitement of the decisive moments of existence, as well as to the annoyances and the restless struggles of every-day life; that self-dependence, won by cheerful renunciation of the intoxications of empty, exhausting pleasures; that exaltation and satisfaction in the kingdom of intellect, a peace of mind won after hot conflict, a clear penetration of the world, whose enigmas were solved, and eternal laws discovered; these were the benefits which he made ever more plainly and firmly his own in solitude.

From early morning he sat working at his bench. As he snipped a piece from his glass with the sharp diamond, he broke an idea off from the great system that lay complete though undeveloped in himself. When he worked the leaden plate and gave the glass its proper form the idea in him gained firmer shape, and so on through all the stages; ever more distinct the form, ever more transparent the material. Many splinters must fall, many rough places be smoothed, till at last the truth should be reflected in the mirror. When he had earned his bread by the day's handiwork, in the quiet night by his single lamp he placed his finely polished ideas before him, collected the dust which had fallen from them, and strewed it thereon, that they became opaque; then with a light hand wiped it off, and proved that it did not necessarily belong there, and that he had but hidden the light, not ex-