Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/713

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SPINY SQUIRREL

quieted his fears as well as he could, assuring him that as soon as the crowd made any threatening movement he would go out to meet them, “though they should serve me as they did the poor De Witts. I am a good republican and have never had any aim but the honour and welfare of the state.” Happily the danger passed off without calling for such an ordeal.

In 1673 Spinoza received an invitation from the elector palatine to quit his retirement and become professor of philosophy in the university of Heidelberg. The offer was couched in flattering terms, and conveyed an express assurance of “the largest freedom of speech in philosophy, which the prince is confident that you will not misuse to disturb the established religion.” But Spinoza’s experience of theological sensitiveness led him to doubt the possibility of keeping on friendly terms with the established religion, if he were placed in a public capacity. Moreover, he was not strong; he had had no experience of public teaching; and he foresaw that the duties of a chair would put an end to private research. For all these reasons he courteously declined the offer made to him. There is little more to tell of his life of solitary meditation. In 1675 we learn from his correspondence that he entertained the idea of publishing the Ethics, and made a journey to Amsterdam to arrange matters with the printer. “But, whilst I was busy with this,” he writes, “the report was spread everywhere that a certain book of mine was in the press, wherein I endeavoured to show that there was no God; and this report found credence with many. Whereupon certain theologians (themselves perhaps the authors of it) took occasion to complain of me to the prince and the magistrates; moreover, the stupid Cartesians, because they are commonly supposed to side with me, desiring to free themselves from that suspicion, were diligent without ceasing in their execrations of my doctrines and writings, and are as diligent still.” As the commotion seemed to grow worse instead of subsiding, Spinoza consigned the manuscript once more to his desk, from which it was not to issue till after his death. His last literary work was the unfinished Tractatus politicus and the preparation of notes for a new edition of the Tractatus theologicopoliticus, in which he hoped to remove some of the misunderstandings which the book had met with. The Tractatus politicus develops his philosophy of law and government on the lines indicated in his other works, and connects itself closely with the theory enunciated by Hobbes a generation before. Consumption had been making its insidious inroads upon Spinoza for many years, and early in 1677 he must have been conscious that he was seriously ill. On Saturday, the 20th of February, he sent to Amsterdam for his friend Dr Meyer. On the following day, the Van der Spijcks, having no thought of immediate danger, went to the afternoon service. When they came back Spinoza was no more; he had died about three in the afternoon with Meyer as the only witness of his last moments. Spinoza was buried on the 25th of February “in the new church upon the Spuy, being attended,” Colerus tells us, “by many illustrious persons and followed by six coaches.” He was little more than forty-four years of age.

Spinoza’s effects were few and realized little more than was required for the payment of charges and outstanding debts. “One need only cast one’s eyes upon the account,” says his biographer, “to perceive that it was the inventory of a true philosopher. It contains only some small books, some engravings, a few lenses and the instruments to polish them.” His desk, containing his letters and his unpublished works, Spinoza had previously charged his landlord to convey to Jan Rieuwertz, a publisher in Amsterdam. This was done, and the Opera posthuma appeared in the same year, without the author’s name, but with his initials upon the title-page. They were furnished with a preface written in Dutch by Jarig Jellis, a Mennonite friend of Spinoza’s, and translated into Latin by Dr Meyer. Next year the book was proscribed in a violently worded edict by the states of Holland and West Friesland. The obloquy which thus gathered round Spinoza in the later years of his life remained settled upon his memory for a full hundred years after his death. Hume’s casual allusion to “this famous atheist” and his “hideous hypothesis” is a fair specimen of the tone in which he is usually referred to; people talked about Spinoza, Lessing said, “as if he were a dead dog.” The change of opinion in this respect may be dated from Lessing’s famous conversation with Jacobi in 1780. Lessing, Goethe, Herder, Novalis and Schleiermacher, not to mention philosophers like Schelling and Hegel, united in recognizing the unique strength and sincerity of Spinoza’s thought, and in setting him in his rightful place among the speculative leaders of mankind. Transfused into their writings, his spirit has had a large share in moulding the philosophic thought of the 19th century, and it has also been widely influential beyond the schools. Instead of his atheism Hegel speaks of his acosmism, and Novalis dubs him a God-intoxicated man. Schleiermacher’s fine apostrophe is well known, in which he calls upon us to “offer a lock of hair to the manes of the holy and excommunicated Spinoza.”

Spinoza’s personal appearance is described by Colerus from the accounts given him by many people at the Hague who knew him familiarly. “He was of a middle size, and had good features in his face, the skin somewhat dark, black curled hair, and the long eyebrows of the same colour, so that one might easily know from his looks that he was descended from the Portuguese Jews.” Leibnitz also gives a similar description: “The celebrated Jew Spinoza had an olive complexion and something Spanish in his face.” These characteristics are preserved in a portrait in oil in the Wolfenbüttel library, which was probably the original of the (in that case unsuccessfully rendered) engraving prefixed to the Opera posthuma of 1677. This portrait was photographed for Dr Martineau’s Study of Spinoza. In 1880 a statue was erected to Spinoza at the Hague by international subscription among his admirers, and more recently the cottage in which he lived at Rhijnsburg has been restored and furnished with all the discoverable Spinoza relics.

Spinoza’s philosophy is a thoroughgoing pantheism, which has both a naturalistic and a mystical side. The foundation of the system is the doctrine of one infinite substance, of which all finite existences are modes or limitations (modes of thought or modes of extension). God is thus the immanent cause of the universe; but of creation or will there can be no question in Spinoza’s system. God is used throughout as equivalent to Nature (Deus sive natura). The philosophical standpoint comprehends the necessity of all that is—a necessity that is none other than the necessity of the divine nature itself. To view things thus is to view them, according to Spinoza’s favourite phrase, sub specie aeternitatis. Spinoza’s philosophy is fully considered in the article Cartesianism.

Literature.—The contents of the Opera posthuma included the Ethics, the Tractatus politicus and the De intellectus emendatione (the last two unfinished), a selection from Spinoza’s correspondence, and a Compendium of Hebrew Grammar. The Treatise on the Rainbow, supposed to be lost, was published anonymously in Dutch in 1687. The first collected edition of Spinoza’s works was made by Paulus in 1802; there is another by Gfrörer (1830), and a third by Bruder (1843–1846) in three volumes. Van Vloten’s volume, published in 1862, Ad Benedicti de Spinoza opera quae supersunt omnia supplementum, is uniform with Bruder’s edition, and contains the early treatise De deo et homine, the Treatise on the Rainbow, and several fresh letters. A complete edition undertaken by Dr Van Vloten and Professor J. P. N. Land for the Spinoza Memorial Committee formed in Holland to celebrate the bicentenary of the philosopher’s death appeared in 1882 and was reissued in three volumes in 1895. An English translation of The Chief Works of Spinoza, by R. H. M. Elwes, appeared in 1883, and translations of the Ethics and the De intellectus emendatione were published in 1883 and 1895 by W. Hale White; A. Wolf’s translation of the Short Treatise appeared in 1910; previous translations were unscholarly in execution.

The main authority for Spinoza’s life is the sketch published in 1705, in Dutch, with a controversial sermon against Spinozism, by Johannes Colerus. The French version of this Life (1706) has been several times reprinted as well as translated into English and German. The English version, also dating from 1706, was reprinted by Sir Frederick Pollock at the end of his Spinoza, his Life and Philosophy (1880). This book, Dr Martineau’s Study of Spinoza (1882) and Dr John Caird’s Spinoza (1888), are all admirable pieces of work, and, as regards the philosophical estimate, complement one another. H. H. Joachim’s Study of the Ethics of Spinoza (1901) and R. A. Duff’s Spinoza’s Political and Ethical Philosophy (1903) are important contributions of more recent date. Careful research by Professor Freudenthal, Dr W. Meyer and Dr K. O. Meinsma has recently brought to light a number of fresh details connected with Spinoza’s life and increased our knowledge of his Jewish and Dutch environment. The earliest lives and all the available documents have been edited by Freudenthal in a single volume, Die Lebensgeschichte Spinozas (1899), on the basis of which he has since rewritten the Life, Spinozas Leben und Lehre, vol. i., Das Leben (1904). Meinsma’s Spinoza und en zijn Kring (1896) appeared in a German translation in 1909. The new material has been judicially used by A. Wolf in the “Life” prefixed to his translation of the Short Treatise (1910), and the greater part of it also in the second edition of Sir Frederick Pollock’s Spinoza (1899).  (A. S. P.-P.) 

SPINY SQUIRREL, a book-name for a group of African ground squirrels, characterized by the spiny nature of the fur of the more typical forms. They form the genus Xerus, which is split up into a number of subgenera; Xerus rutilus of Abyssinia and East Africa belonging to the typical group, while the striped