[Letter of James Martineau to Francis William Newman.]
Nov. 1, 1882
My dear Newman,
Your surprise at my taking Spinoza in hand is hardly greater than my own; nor can I quite divest myself of the feeling that the time spent upon him has not been put to the best use. I was moved to the task, partly by the pressing entreaty of my friend William Knight, partly by observing the great influence upon many minds of a mistaken conception of what Spinoza's philosophy really means. Having gained my own first impressions of him from Schleiermacher and Coleridge, I was myself misled, in my early study of his "Ethica," into an admiration of him resting upon wrong grounds. I credited his Theistic language with a meaning which, I now see, it did not contain. And the difference is so enormous between the imputed thoughts and the real ones, that I longed, if possible, to save others from repeating my illusions. On resuming my proper work, however, and seeing how much its designed remainder exceeds the measure of my shortening days, I half regret the Excursus, which has withdrawn me from the current text of life. If I have wasted my time in writing this book, all the more am I bound to warn you not to waste yours in reading it. Stop, at all events, with the biography. All the rest, I know, will only worry you with a just impatience, and yield no result except a confirmed distrust of the whole apparatus of Metaphysics.
. . . . .
Ever yours affectionately,