Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/431

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409
THE EXCOMMUNICATION.

Before the synagogue he met Oldenburg, Meyer, and de Vries, who waited for him; they had heard of the proceedings, and waited here to protect him from the violence of the Rabbis. The friends had never yet seen Spinoza's countenance so animated as now. They went silently away with him; Oldenburg grasped his hand and pressed it.

As Spinoza passed his father's house he heard the lamentations of his sisters; he knew they now bewailed him more bitterly than if he were dead.

Now that he had not renounced it of his own free will, now that it was torn from him, he felt doubly what it is to be cut off in youth from all that is dear and familiar in it; cutting all threads of memory, and so dismembering life, that it has no longer a connection with the past.

The saddest consciousness in the casting off of any tender relation of life lies in this, that on both sides a piece of life is extinguished and destroyed, whose involuntary reawakening often fills us with supernatural horror, and makes us hasten our flight to oblivion.

"So they sat down with him .... and none spake a word unto him, for they saw that his grief was very great."

So it says in Job. Here, too, the three friends sat and said nothing, for they saw that his grief was very great. Oldenburg quietly laid his hand on Spinoza's shoulder, as if he could support him