[Letter of James Martineau to Francis William Newman. Context is required and is provided by Drummond and Upton, as follows:]
When Professor Newman's works, "The Soul" and "Phases of Faith," were published, the reviews of these books in the "Prospective" gave occasion to an interesting exchange of letters of a semi-philosophical character. The article on "The Soul" was really written by Mr. J. J. Taylor; but Professor Newman, at first, ascribed it to Dr. Martineau, and wrote to him in consequence. The following is Dr. Martineau's reply:—
February 1, 1850.
My dear Newman,
My long and wayward silences bring no reproach from you, and shall have no excuse from me. I believe my feeling has been that, until I had read your book, and brought up my mind more nearly to the hour, I had no business to write to you.
Now I have read "The Soul," and shall bless you for it, with thanks I cannot speak, so long as I have a Soul that lives. Nothing that I have ever read—unless some scattered thoughts of Pascal's—has come so close to me, and so strengthened a deep but too shrinking faith. . . . Your book is not one that I can criticise, and where I cannot heartily assent I feel more inclined to doubt myself than it. The chief thing that affects me with a certain obscure dissatisfaction is your sharp distinction between the several powers of human nature and your absolute isolation of the Soul as the region of exclusive communication with God.
For myself, I am not conscious of anything adequately corresponding with this. The action of the conscience and the human affections appear to me inseparably blended with the purest insight and the highest aspirations of Faith; and the conscious communion with God seems the work of no special organ of our being, but the clear and holy kindling of the entire mind,—at least of every faculty which Infinite Perfection can engage. Hence I cannot always feel the reality of your contrast between spiritual and unspiritual evidence of divine truth, or join in your slight upon the Metaphysics of faith. The spiritual element, I cannot but think, does not in all persons take the form of intuition; but in minds of the Platonic cast fuses itself into one with philosophic thought, and discerns the Infinite Purity through a glorified cloud of reason and reflexion. Why throw discredit on the reasonings of such minds as unspiritual? True, metaphysics imply no soul; but many souls find their vision helped by metaphysics, and quite as many, I should say, among the simple and untaught as among the cultivated class. In short, the Pauline class of souls appears to me not the only one, but the Platonic order to be no less naturally stationed in the world; neither appears to be a corruption of the other, or entitled to do more than prefer its own appointed method of access to the Source of Light. In the same way, I doubt whether you do justice to the resources of conscience and the class of legal religionists; though here my sympathies, against my judgment, are entirely with you.
. . . . .
Ever, my dear Newman, affectionately yours,