Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/456

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434
SPINOZA.

As he passed the church of St. Olave's on his return, there, where he had once passed the night on the steps, and gazed at Olympia's window, some one rushed at him, seized him by the arm, and stabbing him in the breast with a dagger, ran swiftly away, saying, "The ass hath horns." Spinoza had luckily escaped the stroke. Only his mantle was pierced. He thought he recognized the assassin. It was Chisdai.

When the first involuntary shock and its immediate effects on his mind had passed, Spinoza only reflected that fanaticism is nothing but a return to a primeval law of nature, which is apparently founded on laws of mind and on the sacredness of law. The confused, hot-headed zeal which makes the internal law an external watchword has in all times cursed, crucified, burnt at the stake, and stabbed its enemies. It is worth while to reveal their innate laws to mankind, and lead them to love, and joy, and felicity. ...

He kept the torn mantle as a reminder to do it.

Can we take this as a metaphor, that hatred and want of judgment only pierce the clothes of the wise, but cannot reach their inner self?

Spinoza did not hear that on the morning after the attempted crime a body was dragged from the Amstel. It was Chisdai's. He was buried unmourned, as a suicide, like Uriel Acosta, whose grave he had insulted.