[Letter of John James Taylor to Francis William Newman.]
The Limes, Rosslyn, Hampstead
July 1st, 1868
Let me thank you for your kind letter. Your letters are always welcome to me; for underneath the differences of opinion which lie on the surface, I always find a vein of deep sympathy in things grand and fundamental, which is truly refreshing amidst the hollowness and conventionality of the world. I should not have replied so soon, but that, as I am about to be present by invitation at the Tercentenary of the oldest Unitarian community in Europe, at Thorda in Transylvania, towards the end of August, and shall have to pass through Buda-Pesth—I thought it possible you might have something to send to your friend, Mr. Pulsky, of which, if it should be any convenience to you, I shall be very glad to be the bearer. As we mean to travel slowly and see some places of interest by the way, I shall leave home the last week in July, accompanied by my daughter. Anything you may entrust to me before that time, I will take great care of.
I believe I come through my Christianity to very much the same Theism at bottom which you yourself entertain—involving the same feelings of filial trust and reverence towards the great Father of the Universe, and the same sublime and consolatory hope as to the ultimate destiny of the human soul. But to me and, I believe, to a great majority of men there is an unspeakable strengthening and support in the contemplation of our humanity in its highest communings with God historically realised in a personality like that of Christ, apart from which concrete embodiment those elements of eternal truth, which I agree with you we derive from Plato and the Hebrew prophets, might have evaporated in vague and dreamy speculation. Men needed something personal to draw their reverence and sympathy to a point. Amidst the frightful conflict of dogma and fanaticism—the spirit of love and holiness and self-sacrifice, which is essentially the spirit of Christ, has ever remained as the one constant of his religion.—I write thus much, simply to express my own mind, not to change yours. Each individual faith must rest on its own foundations. In the clearer light which awaits us, we shall both perhaps be made to see the mutual misapprehension, which is the source of our present divergency.
I confess I have no faith in Louis Napoleon. I believe he is incapable of large and generous ideas. He is actuated solely be dynastic objects. He is at present the great menacer of European peace, and the cause of those enormous armaments which are the scandal of our age. Who is going to attack France? Not Prussia, not Austria, nor England. There is not the shadow of a reason for maintaining his immense army. He must do something showy, and wants to wipe off the disgrace of having been outwitted by Bismarck. In Germany I am persuaded German feeling is far deeper and stronger than either Prussian or Austrian; and were she threatened, whether on the East by Russia or on the West by France—I believe the result would be, such a merging of all present differences in one common German sympathy as would tend to the complete and final consolidation of that great Nationality.