Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/384

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362
SPINOZA.

ing that everything depends on the standpoint and position of the pupil? The buffalo mangling the grim tiger with his horns till he lies crushed to death before him is not greater than this spider in fight. Nothing is in itself great, nothing in itself small, only, because it appears so to us, we would make it so. If men were not curbed by higher reason, and allowed themselves to be governed only by their ruling passions, they would destroy each other like these animals."

"Indeed this combat is as great as those of men. When in war a thousand fiery messengers send out death, when the ground trembles and the swords flash, drenching themselves in the blood of men, we feel so great in our scorn of death, so almighty in the exercise of strength, we think we could stir the world from its axis, and what is it? A little ant-hill's inhabitants fighting with grasshoppers—"

"The eternal peace has already come to its mortal end," interrupted Spinoza. "Look how they whet their weapons, now bravely at it again!"

The two friends watched the result of the combat without further conversation. Oldenburg had not given the parties their right names, for the garden spider after a short resistance was devoured by the other, head and hair and all. Darius was borne in triumph on the leaden island to where he had spun himself a royal tent.

"Ordinary life has many turns and twists of deep