Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/369

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347
CONFESSIONS.

work was finished, or a Sunday stood in the calendar, take a walk with the beloved one. These excellent, self-contained souls, how narrow and cold they seemed to me, who thought no other thoughts, and felt no other feeling but love alone. I had won a new soul with an unalterable sameness, for the one perpetual thought was of her and of her alone. When I drew the sweet breath of Maria's presence, or remained in my distant home, her soul was always with me. Wherever I was I thought, Soon she will be here with thee; thou wilt call her thine own. I often trembled at the infinite, overwhelming magnitude of this happiness. It was too great; I could not have borne it. I was shamefully deceived in my love and in my better feelings. Love another! I cannot and dare not wish to. If it is denied me to pour out my soul in that first fiery passion, I despise any well-behaved citizen love. I am glad that I am too old to be exposed to such another temptation. I have found a sphere of usefulness, and peace is in that."

"Marriage is a sacred and eternal law of nature," replied Spinoza. "It is the fairest crown of humanity, if it is made from pure inclination recognized by reason."

"I will not attack matrimony," answered Oldenburg, "but the curse that rests on mankind the more it develops is that it is always more and more impossible to partake of the pleasure exactly when