Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/383

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361
MICROCOSMOS.

flat plate from the work-bench, placed it in the vessel, and the two spiders on the leaden island. Each of the spectators armed himself with a microscope.

"Look," said Spinoza; "if there is a spirit wholly-independent of the world hovering over it it is thus that he would watch, as we are now doing, over the little conflicts on the earth."

"We must give the two sides names," said Oldenburg. "The garden spider shall be Alexander, the other Darius. Look! Alexander sends out his scouts far and wide; Darius flies, but it is of no use, the sea surrounds him. Both pause for a while, but Alexander arises and presses forward. Look, how he throws his arms round his adversary, but he defends himself vigorously; now they rise to the conflict. How they seize and squeeze each other, how their probosces tear at one another! If I could only see their eyes properly. Bravo! Alexander is down, but his long arms press powerfully against the scaly breast of his adversary. Now he has torn himself loose. Look how he rushes with fresh courage to choke his enemy! His fall was only a Parthian flight; now is the time. Oh, it is all over, they are letting each other go."

"Be quiet," said Spinoza. "That is only a truce, and if it were sworn to by all the gods, they would break it like men as soon as they had gathered strength for a new fight. Am I not right in assert-