Alexander Henry Craufurd.

Recollections of James Martineau: with some letters from him and an essay on his religion online

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Online LibraryAlexander Henry CraufurdRecollections of James Martineau: with some letters from him and an essay on his religion → online text (page 12 of 12)
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brings a consecration with it, and plants us on holy
ground. Religion doubtless goes much further
and has more to tell us ; but we are already
within its precincts, the moment we bend before
the claim of higher right. I deprecate there-
fore any slight, even if only apparent, to the
sanctity of ethical law. As the vestibule of
true religion, I can enter it only with unsandalled

Though I deeply feel the defects of 18th century
Deism, and owe what faith I have to my recoil
from them, I think your language regarding the
writers of that school is too disparaging. The
fundamental error of their theory, the transitive
instead of immanent agency of God in the natural
world, was no characteristic of theirs, but the
common doctrine of their time in the church as
well as out of it. One of their class, Lord Herbert
of Cherbury, was as free from it as Malebranche
or Carlyle ; and they at all events held fast,
without exception, to the central essence of all
religious faith, the personality of God ; and, if
they allowed this to encroach on the divine


infinitude, it was a less serious error than the
modern one of insisting on the infinitude at the
cost of the personality. The idea that we get
nearer to the truth by dismissing from our
thought of the divine nature all concrete pre-
dicates, intellect, will, affection, and righteous-
ness, and substituting mere abstracts such as
universal, almighty, unknowable, infinite, eternal,
is an illusion, in my opinion, more hopeless and
more harmful than the older anthropomorphism.
As there is no need of either, we may as well
guard ourselves against the impulse to swing
from the one to the other.

Where I demur to an affirmation of yours
which takes me by surprise, I sometimes find
my hesitation due to a use of language which
is new to me. You speak of sympathy and pity
as examples of vicarious suffering, and on this
basis you rest no slight structure of doctrine.
By vicarious suffering — a phrase borrowed from
the Atonement scheme — I have always under-
stood the substitution of A's suffering for B's, as
a relief by equivalence. But sympathy and pity
are suffering with another and for another, in
the sense of on account of, but not instead of
another. Rather are they a duplication or an


extension of the primary suffering than a sub-
stitution for it. The failure of this analogy very
seriously affects the language and reasonings of
theologians in vindication of the doctrine of Re-
demption, as well as the prevailing conception of
Christians with regard to the cross as the model of
self-sacrifice. The precise changes which it re-
quires in these it would need a volume to un-

The part of the Spectators review of you from
which I least dissent is its notice of your treat-
ment of free will. Your vindication of that much-
derided function is most welcome, but so very
modest in its claim, that, when all the deductions
have been made, the residue is, to my old eye-
sight, an invisible minimum. I am delighted,
however, that you cannot let it go, and am
persuaded that, when the burdens of heredity
and other scientific nightmares have released you,
as they will, that little spark of freedom will
assert its vitality, and assume the full glory of a
responsible life.

Believe me,

Yours very sincerely,

James Martineau.


The Polchar, Rothiemurchus,

October 8, 1892.

Dear Mr. Craufurd, — I had begun to fear
that, through my delay in writing, I should some-
how lose your address. Your kind note of the
5th has saved me from this punishment, and
rejoiced my heart with the prospect of seeing
you in London. We remain here till the end of
this month ; but from the beginning of November
to near the end of May, we shall be found, if
anywhere in this world, at 35 Gordon Square,

There I shall be delighted to welcome you
whenever you may be in town with an hour to
spare ; and we can talk of Renan, with his books
within reach of our hands, silently appealing to
us neither to idolise nor to wrong him. I share
your feeling about him, a feeling recurring to me
in (I think) every case known to me of a Roman
Catholic deserter. The transition from a dictated
religion to one that is personally thought out, from
obedience to conviction, seems all but impossible
under the Catholic culture. The Protestant
reverence for truth, as at once the solid reality
and the ideal sanctity of the cognizable world,


is never gained ; and religions are estimated and
criticised, like mythologies, by canons, not of
reason, but of fancy, turned this way or that to
catch different lights, and preferred or discarded
as a fastidious eye might choose among patterns
of wall-papers to cover a room. Renan's mind
seems too often to be playing, rather than working,
at the problems which exercise his ingenuity.
Yet he brings to them the fruits of an unsparing
industry and a temper free from all inducements
to do a wrong.

I remain always,

Yours very sincerely,

James Martineau.

35 Gordon Square, London,
December 6, 1892.

My dear Mr. Craufurd, — By this day's parcel
post I send, in hope of your acceptance, a copy
of the more recent of my Hymn-books. It is
impossible to prepare a collection for public use
without occasional deference to a prevailing pre-
ference or taste which the compiler himself does
not share. But in this volume I have inserted
nothing at variance with my convictions, though


retaining a few popular hymns no longer satis-
factory to my literary feeling.

The photograph which my daughter has in-
cluded in the parcel is from a comparatively
recent portrait, and is preferred by her to any
other.* For 15 or 20 years I have declined all
photographic sittings direct. Old men and women,
however bearable en passant, are not fit objects
for perpetuated sunlight. It is time for them
to retreat into the shade.

You think that I ask too much from the char-
acters of men. I can only say that I invite no
more from any than I find actual in some ; and
as much as this may surely be held up as possible
to the capacity of all. The allowances we make,
and the patient tenderness we feel, for the short-
comings of human failure must not be permitted
to lower and confuse the divine standard of
right. Else we take our stand on an ever-sink-
ing mediocrity, instead of gaining ever-higher

I know Hegel's " Philosophy of Religion " ;
but neither in it, nor in his English interpreters,
have I found any future life that does not dis-
appoint its name. The genuine hope dawned

* This photograph has been reproduced for this volume.


upon Thomas Hill Green on his death-bed, I am
assured ; not, however, as a corollary from
his Hegelianism, but rather as an emergence
from it.

We shall be delighted to see you, when you
come up to town, if you will kindly look us up.

Ever most sincerely yours,

James Martineau.

35 Gordon Square, London,
March 5, 1893.

Dear Mr. Craufurd, — I thank you heartily
for sending me The Thinker, a journal which
has never before fallen in my way. Your paper
in it interests me greatly, corroborating as it
does, in essential features, an estimate of Evan-
gelicalism which I have often been condemned
for expressing. I owe a great deal in my own
experience to the writings of that school, which
in my youth powerfully influenced me, without
in the least disturbing my dissent from their
doctrines. I caught a fire from their devotional
books which was not kindled by the manuals in
use among our own people. And I even wrote
and delivered a series of lectures, to account for


the good influence on character of a type of
religion which was theologically indefensible.

Your essay vividly recalled to me that passage
in my life. I have been on the watch for your
hoped-for arrival since the beginning of last
month, and shall be much pleased when the
promise is fulfilled.

I remain,

Yours very sincerely,

James Martineau.

The Polchar, Rothiemurchus,

July 22, 1893.

My dear Mr. Craufurd, — My pen, never
nimble, has become shamefully lazy ; or I should
not have left your very welcome letter three
weeks without a reply. Your and Miss Wedg-
wood's concurrence about Huxley's " Evolution
and Ethics " interests me greatly, though I should
express my own essential agreement with you
and with her in rather a different form from
either. The antithesis between Nature and man,
though fundamental to ethics, is misconceived
when thrown into pessimist shape, as if Nature


offered nothing but resistance to goodness, and
as if goodness spent itself in defeating the con-
stitution of Nature.

No such absolute opposition has any existence
between the two orders of force manifested in
our life ; and of relative opposition or graduated
difference of value there cannot but be some in
any world made up of a hierarchy of powers, even
though the process stopped short of ethics. Each
higher term wins its place as against the lower,
leading the way to ulterior advance. The only
difference when man appears is that he is not,
like other animals, under the sway of his impul-
sive forces, but set over them, with consciousness
of their relative claims, and with free choice to
go with the better or the worse. This ethical
will is certainly something over and above Nature
as previously understood, in which the order of
phenomena was necessary, whilst here it is
optional, i.e. issuing from a true cause or deter-
miner of an alternative.

If you include this characteristic in man's
nature, then in his conformity to it (i.e. in Ethics)
he does not oppose Nature ; for what he opposes
is only what his nature tells him that he has to
oppose. But it is more usual and more exact to



limit the word Nature to the sphere of physical
or necessary sequences of phenomena, as distin-
guished from the voluntary, where the possibilities
are alternatives. This is what we mean when we
speak of man as antithetic to Nature ; and, in
virtue of this spiritual prerogative, he is strictly
supernatural and divine. To say, with Huxley,
that he rises by opposing Nature means only
that he uses his supernatural function and does
not let his free will lie idle in surrender to imme-
diate impulse. He rises by preferring the known
higher to the lower of the offered possibilities.
But both possibilities are provided for in the
constitution of the world ; they are the data of
the problem given him to solve, and each has its
right place in the scale of native powers, and
needs suppression only when usurping a wrong
one. The field of Nature is thus spread out as
the practising ground of spirit in the discipline
of character, and ethics do but turn to their true
end the springs and opportunities of action con-
trollable by will, never crushing one without
liberating another.

The whole system thus presents itself to me
as a related constitution, the necessary and
free factors of which work together for the per-


fection of both. What I dislike in Huxley's
mode of putting the case is its assumption of
an absolute antagonism between the natural
and the moral, as if the former were all
bad, the good consisting in its conquest and

I have been reading with great interest Wilfrid
Ward's book on his father, Dr. W. G. Ward, and
the Catholic Revival. He sent it to me as an
old friend and ally of his father in the Meta-
physical Society. But I find it most instructive
and enlightening in regard to the interior life and
history of modern Catholicism and the persona-
lities of its chief representatives and opponents
in England and on the continent. Another book
which has fascinated me much is Sir M. E. Grant
Duff's " In Memoriam Ernest Renan," partly,
no doubt, from personal knowledge of both
the author and his subject, but mainly by the
charm and prevailing truth of the portraiture

I like to hear of your having access in Edin-
burgh to a Scotch Church pulpit and to its
habitual occupant. I had heard indirectly of
Dr. Matheson before, and I quite agree with you
in your appreciation of the Presbyterian clergy


of his class. The English church offers a far
more unmanageable resistance to the entrance of
a tenable theology than the Scotch formularies
in the present state of the Scotch mind. I trust
that Gladstone's designs on the establishment
here will be defeated.

Ever sincerely yours,

James Martineau.

35 Gordon Square, London,
Nove tuber 2, 1 893.

My dear Mr. Craufurd, — I have read your
lecture on Secularism with sustained interest and
sympathy. It is full of just thought and happy
illustrative expression. It so lifts me out of the
critical mood that I cannot bear to look out for
matter admitting of qualifying remark. So you
must accept my simple thanks for a most ac-
ceptable support to convictions which you know
to be dear to me.

I remain,

Yours very sincerely,
James Martineau.


35 Gordon Square, London,
November 4, 1895.

Dear Mr. Craufurd, — I am truly glad that
my friend Upton's book finds in you so apprecia-
tive a reader. He has been recently a fortnight
with us at Aviemore, with his wife ; and we have
had animated discussions together on the few
points of difference in our modes of thought, or
perhaps of speech, on spiritual things. He con-
cedes a little more than I can to the Hegelian
phraseology. If ever you go to Oxford, I shall
be delighted to give you a line to him.

I remain,

Yours very sincerely,

James Martineau.

35 Gordon Square, London,
November 29, 1895.

My dear Mr. Craufurd, — I send you the
little notice of your " Enigmas of the Spiritual
Life," which I have recovered after a good hunt
through the back numbers of the Outlook. I
am glad to hear that it is mentioned in connexion


with a further demand for copies in the United

I agree with your estimate of Voysey, though
personally I have a sincere regard for him. He
has sent me a series of sermons — I think eight —
in which he has been controverting the attempt
made in my " Seat of Authority in Religion "
to save the inner essence of the religion of Christ,
apart from the accretions of unauthentic and
mistaken tradition. I have not yet had time to
read them. But I do not expect much light
from his mode of criticism. He has not kept
pace with the progress of modern historical re-
search. His real and devout Theism, however,
is worthy of all respect, and is a valuable check
upon the blind Agnosticism of the age.

Yours most sincerely,

James Martineau.

35 Gordon Square, London,
March I, 1897.

My dear Mr. Craufurd, — You will not be sur-
prised that I needed a few days to take the just
measure of your offence in making such lavish
promises for me to those who do not know me,


and cannot reduce them by adequate discount.
Pleasant as it is " laudari a laudato viro" I am
not insensible to its moral dangers ; nor do I
pretend to have outlived them. With advancing
years their deflection from the truth reverses its
direction. The over-appreciation, which in youth
elates, in old age humiliates. Though I cannot
appropriate it, I can look up to it, and rejoice
in its hope, though not in its possession. Mean-
while, the fellowship of feeling, attested by others'
experience, adds a delightful strength to one's
own convictions.

A rapid run through the pages of your book *
leaves no doubt on my mind of its seasonableness
and of the interest which it will excite.

I wonder whether you have fallen in with
Jowett's " College Sermons." They are unequal,
but are admirable throughout ; and several of
them are remarkable examples of skilful presen-
tation of positive spiritual truths without the
slightest concealment of his rejections.
I remain always,

Yours very sincerely,

James Martineau.

* Dr. Martineau here refers to my book called "Christian
Instincts and Modern Doubt."


The Polchar, Rothiemurchus,


August 29, 1897.

My dear Mr. Craufurd, — I am glad to know
the dates and direction of your intended move-
ments, and to think that they may probably
take you through London, and give us the oppor-
tunity of running through and balancing our
ideal accounts to the latest date.

The silence of the Spectator on your recent
book is due, I fear, to the complete collapse of
my dear friend Richard Hutton's health since
the death of his wife. It was evident, from a
touching letter which I lately received from him,
that he was expecting soon to follow her. And
I hear from the present companions of his solitude
that his strength is rapidly failing. The Spectator,
I observe, has less and less traces of his hand.
It is well that the loss is so fairly well compen-
sated by his young coadjutor, Mr. Strachey. For
no one of my pupils and almost fellow-students
have I such a love as for R. H. Hutton.

" Robert Elsmere " has not left upon me a
very distinct impression. On closing the book
and parting with him, I credited him with right
feeling, but wished that he knew better what he


was about. This, I conjecture, is the probable
equivalent of your expression, " unfairness." As
a picture, however, of what takes place in the
emergence from retreating darkness into un-
realised light, the representation has its truth.
Yours very sincerely,

James Martineau.

35 Gordon Square, London,
March 13, 1898.

My dear Mr. Craufurd, — You send me most
welcome tidings of your well-being and not-
distant movements, especially as giving me the
pleasant prospect of a good talk with you here
early in next month. Only send me your address
and your free times, when you are here, and we
will find you out, and adjust ourselves to them.

Curiously enough, I have just had occasion to
look up and re-read your " Christian Instincts
and Modern Doubt," and I am increasingly im-
pressed by the justice and penetration of your
critical estimate of our English ecclesiastical
parties. This very merit it is which, in the low
condition of our official theological insight and
knowledge, accounts for the limited appreciation
of your last book by English-speaking repre-


sentatives of church life. Even among our edu-
cated people it is only the fewest who have got
their feet effectively planted upon the via media
between scientific negation and historical dogma-
tism in the treatment of religious experience.

I deeply feel the loss of my dearly loved friend
and almost life-long pupil, R. H. Hutton. So
entire was my trust in his religious intuitions and
judgments, that it went hard with me to abide
by my own when they were unshared by him.
But I could not help revering his tender look
towards orthodoxy, while he could forgive my
involuntary shade of heresy.

Somewhat similar was the affectional relation
between F. W. Newman and me, only with the
parts inverted.

Easy enough is it now to wait till " we know
even as we are known."

Hoping soon to meet and take counsel together,
I remain,

Very sincerely yours,

James Martineau.

( VN'r

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Online LibraryAlexander Henry CraufurdRecollections of James Martineau: with some letters from him and an essay on his religion → online text (page 12 of 12)