SOME FAMILIAR LETTERS BETWEEN Mr. LOCKE, AND SEVERAL OF HIS FRIENDS.
TO THE READER.
The following letters, offered to your perusal, are the genuine productions of those gentlemen, to whom they are attributed.
They contain not only such civil and polite conversation, as friendship produces among men of parts, learning, and candour; but several matters relating to literature, and more particularly to Mr. Locke’s notions, in his “Essay concerning human understanding,” and in some of his other works: and therefore I cannot doubt of your thanks for the present I make you. For, though the curiosity of some, to see whatever drops from the pens of great men, and to inform themselves in their private characters, their tempers, dispositions, and manner of conversing with their friends, would perhaps have justified me, in publishing any letters of Mr. Locke’s, and of his friends to him, that were not letters of mere business; yet my regard to what I take to be the more general judgment of the public, has determined me to publish such only, as have relation to this twofold view, and shall determine me hereafter, if gentlemen, that have any letters of Mr. Locke’s by them, think fit to communicate them to me.
FAMILIAR LETTERS, &c.
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, July 16, 1692.
THOUGH the extraordinary compliment you were pleased to make me, in the epistle dedicatory , easily persuaded me, from whom that present was likely to come; when, at my coming to town, I found your book left for me, by Mr. Tooke, at my bookseller’s; yet my consciousness, how little I could deserve the one, or the other, from you, made me fear some mistake, till inquiring of Mr. Tooke himself, he assured me of the favour you had done me. I will not pretend to return you such thanks as I ought, till I can write such a book as yours is. Only give me leave to say, that if my trifle could possibly be an occasion of vanity to me, you have done most to make it so, since I could scarce forbear to applaud myself, upon such a testimony from one who so well understands demonstration, did I not see that those who can be extreme rigorous and exact in the search of truth, can be as civil and as complaisant in their dealing with those whom they take to be lovers of it. But this cannot keep me from being out of countenance at the receipt of such obligations, without the hopes of making such returns as I ought. Instead of that, give me leave to do what is next to it, and let you see that I am not sorry I am obliged to you. The bearer hereof, Dr. Sibelius, is a friend of mine, who comes to Dublin with a design to settle there, and I beg your assistance of him, in what lies in your way. I shall take it as a favour done to me. And methinks I have reason now to expect it of you, since you have done me more than once, very great ones, when I had no reason to expect any at all. Sir, you have made great advances of friendships towards me, and you see they are not lost upon me. I am very sensible of them, and would make such an use of them as might assure you I should take it for a new favour, if you would afford me an occasion wherein I might, by any service, tell you how much I am,
Your most humble, and most obliged servant,
I had the honour to know one of your name at Leyden about seven or eight years since. If he be any relation of yours and now in Dublin, I beg the favour of you to present my humble service to him.
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
UPON the arrival of our lord lieutenant in this place (which was on the 25th instant) I had the favour of a letter from you by the hands of Dr. Sibelius. I cannot easily tell you how grateful it was to me, having the highest esteem for him that sent it, from the first moment that I was so happy as to see any of his writings; and therefore it was, that I was so ambitious of making a friendship with you, by presenting you one of my trifles, which I ordered my bookseller to lay before you, under this character, “as a mean testimony of the great respect I had for the author of the Essay of Human Understanding.” And since I find, by yours to me, that my ambition is not fallen short of its design; but that you are pleased to encourage me, by assuring me that I have made great advances of friendship towards you; give me leave to embrace the favour with all joy imaginable. And that you may judge of sincerity by my open heart, I will plainly confess to you, that I have not in my life read any book with more satisfaction than your essay; insomuch, that a repeated perusal of it is still more pleasant to me.
And I have endeavoured, with great success, to recommend it to the consideration of the ingenious, in this place. Dr. King, bishop of Derry, when he read it, made some slight remarks on the foremost parts of the book; but his business would not permit him to go through it all. What he did, rough as it was, he gave to me, and they are at your commands, when you please.
One thing I must needs insist on to you, which is, that you would think of obliging the world with “A Treatise of Morals,” drawn up according to the hints you frequently give in your essay, of being demonstrable according to the mathematical method. This is most certainly true. But then the task must be undertaken, only by so clear and distinct a thinker as you are. This were an attempt worthy your consideration. And there is nothing I should more ardently wish for than to see it. And therefore, good sir, let me beg of you to turn your thoughts this way; and if so young a friendship as mine have any force, let me prevail upon you.
Upon my reading your essay, I was so taken with it, that when I was in London, in August 1690, I made inquiry amongst some of my learned friends for any other of your writings, if perhaps they knew any: I was recommended, by some, to “Two Discourses concerning Government,” and a little “Treatise concerning Toleration.” There is neither of them carries your name; and I will not venture to ask you, whether they are yours or not? This only I think, no name need be ashamed of either.
Dr. Sibelius, I find, is your friend, and therefore I assure him of all service I can possibly do him. I will make it my business to get him acquaintance in this place; and I dare promise him some of the best.
The inclosed from my brother will tell you that he was your acquaintance in Leyden. I myself have been there, anno 1685, but had not the good fortune of being known to you. But from this time I shall reckon myself happy in your friendship, and shall ever subscribe myself,
Your most affectionate, and most obliged
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, Sept. 20, 1692.
THERE being nothing, that I think of so much value, as the acquaintance and friendship of knowing and worthy men, you may easily guess how much I find myself obliged, I will not say by the offer, but by the gift you have made me, of yours. That which confirms me in the assurance of it, is the little pretence I have to it. For, knowing myself, as I do, I cannot think so vainly of myself, as to imagine that you should make such overtures and expressions of kindness to me, for any other end, but merely as the pledges and exercise of it. I return you therefore my thanks, as for the greatest and most acceptable present you could have made me; and desire you to believe, that since I cannot hope that the returns, which I made you of mine, should be of any great use to you, I shall endeavour to make it up, as well as I can, with an high esteem, and perfect sincerity. You must, therefore, expect to have me live with you hereafter, with all the liberty and assurance of a settled friendship. For meeting with but few men in the world, whose acquaintance I find much reason to covet, I make more than ordinary haste into the familiarity of a rational inquirer after, and lover of truth, whenever I can light on any such. There are beauties of the mind, as well as of the body, that take and prevail upon first sight: and wherever I have met with this, I have readily surrendered myself, and have never yet been deceived in my expectation. Wonder not therefore, if, having been thus wrought on, I begin to converse with you, with as much freedom, as if we had begun our acquaintance when you were in Holland; and desire your advice and assistance about a second edition of my Essay, the former being now dispersed. You have, I perceive, read it over so carefully more than once, that I know nobody I can more reasonably consult, about the mistakes and defects of it. And I expect a great deal more, from any objections you shall make, who comprehend the whole design and compass of it, than from one who has read but a part of it, or measures it upon a slight reading, by his own prejudices. You will find, by my epistle to the reader, that I was not insensible of the fault I committed, by being too long upon some points; and the repetitions, that by my way of writing of it, had got in, I let it pass with, but not without advice so to do, But now, that my notions are got into the world, and have in some measure bustled through the opposition and difficulty they were like to meet with from the received opinion, and that prepossession, which might hinder them from being understood upon a short proposal; I ask you, whether it would not be better now to pare off, in a second edition, a great part of that which cannot but appear superfluous to an intelligent and attentive reader? If you are of that mind, I shall beg the favour of you to mark to me those passages, which you would think fittest to be left out. If there be any thing, wherein you think me mistaken, I beg you to deal freely with me, that either I may clear it up to you, or reform it in the next edition. For I flatter myself that I am so sincere a lover of truth, that it is very indifferent to me, so I am possessed of it, whether it be by my own, or any other’s discovery. For I count any parcel of this gold not the less to be valued, nor not the less enriching, because I wrought it not out of the mine myself. I think every one ought to contribute to the common stock, and to have no other scruple, or shyness, about the receiving of truth, but that he be not imposed on, and take counterfeit, and what will not bear the touch, for genuine and real truth. I doubt not but, to one of your largeness of thought, that, in the reading of my book, you miss several things, that perhaps belong to my subject, and you would think belongs to the system: if, in this part too, you will communicate your thoughts, you will do me a favour. For though I will not so far flatter myself as to undertake to fill up the gaps, which you may observe in it; yet it may be of use, where mine is at a stand, to suggest to others matter of farther contemplation. This I often find, that what men by thinking had made clear to themselves, they are apt to think, that upon the first suggestion it should be so to others, and so let it go, not sufficiently explained; not considering what may be very clear to themselves, may be very obscure to others. Your penetration and quickness hinders me from expecting from you many complaints of this kind. But, if you have met with any thing, in your reading of my book, which at first sight you stuck at, I shall think it a sufficient reason, in the next edition, to amend it, for the benefit of meaner readers.
The remarks of that learned gentleman you mention, which you say you have in your hands, I shall receive as a favour from you.
Though by the view I had of moral ideas, whilst I was considering that subject, I thought I saw that morality might be demonstratively made out; yet whether I am able so to make it out, is another question. Every one could not have demonstrated what Mr. Newton’s book hath shown to be demonstrable; but to show my readiness to obey your commands, I shall not decline the first leisure I can get to employ some thoughts, that way; unless I find what I have said in my essay shall have stirred up some abler man to prevent me, and effectually do that service to the world.
We had here, the 8th instant, a very sensible earthquake, there being scarce an house, wherein it was not by some body or other felt. We have news of it at several places, from Cologn as far as Bristol. Whether it reached you I have not heard. If it did, I would be glad to know, what was the exact time it was felt, if any body observed it. By the queen’s pendulum at Kensington, which the shake stopped from going, it was 2 h. post m. At Whitehall, where I observed it, it was by my watch 2 h. 5 m. post m. Which, supposing the queen’s pendulum went exact, and adding the equation of that day, will fall near the time marked by my watch or a little later. If there could be found people, that in the whole extent of it, did by well-adjusted clocks exactly observe the time, one might see whether it were all one shock or proceeded gradually from one place to another.
I thank you for having taken Dr. Sibelius into your protection. I desire you, with my service, to present my most humble thanks to your brother, for the favour of his letter; to which, though I have not time this post to return an answer, I shall not long delay my acknowledgments.
I hope you will see, by the freedom I have here taken with you, that I begin to reckon myself amongst your acquaintance. Use me so, I beseech you. If there be any service I can do you here, employ me, with the assurance that I am,
Your most humble, and most faithful servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Oct. 15, —92.
I DO most heartily beg your pardon for my long silence to yours of the 20th last. Our then approaching parliament was the occasion of my not returning you an immediate answer; and I expected withal to give you a more large account of some things, you desire from me. But seeing no immediate hopes of leisure, by reason of our parlimentary business, I venture at present to send you only the inclosed rough papers. And till I can have an opportunity myself of revising your book, have put it into the hands of a very ingenious and learned person, who promises me to give his observations in writing; which as soon as obtained I shall transmit to you.—The earthquake was not at all felt here.—I am wonderfully pleased that you give me hopes of seeing a moral essay from your hand; which I assure you, sir, with all sincerity, is highly respected by
Your most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Dec. 22, 1692.
I NOW sit down to answer yours of September 20, concerning the second edition of your book, wherein you desire my opinion and advice. And, after so long consideration of the matter, as between that and this; and consulting some ingenious heads here about it, I can say but little; only that the same judicious hand, that first formed it, is best able to reform it, where he sees convenient. I never quarrelled with a book for being too prolix, especially where the prolixity is pleasant, and tends to the illustration of the matter in hand, as I am sure yours always does. And after I received your letter on this subject, I communicated the contents thereof to two very ingenious persons here; and, at the same time I lent them your book, desiring them to examine it strictly; and to find out, and note, whatever might be changed, added, or subtracted. And after a diligent perusal, they agreed with me in the same conclusion, viz. that the work, in all its parts, was so wonderfully curious and instructive, that they would not venture to alter any thing in it. But however, that I may in some measure answer your expectations, I shall briefly note to you, what I conceive on this subject.
And, 1st, the errata typographica (besides those mentioned in the table) are many and great; these therefore, in your next edition, are diligently to be corrected.
2dly, page 270, It is asserted, “that, without a particular revelation, we cannot be certain, that matter cannot think, or that omnipotency may not endow matter with a power of thinking.”
And, page 314, 315, “the immateriality of God is evinced from the absolute impossibility of matter’s thinking.” These two places, I know, have been stumbled at by some as not consistent. To me indeed they appear, and are, very agreeable; and I have clearly evinced their consistency to those that have scrupled them. But I thought fit to give you this hint, that in your next edition you may prevent any such doubt. My sense of these two places is this. In the first it is said, “that we cannot tell (without a particular revelation to the contrary) but an almighty God can make matter think.” In the other it is asserted, “that unthinking matter cannot be this almighty God.” The next place I take notice of, as requiring some farther explication, is your discourse about man’s liberty and necessity. This thread seems so wonderfully fine spun in your book, that, at last, the great question of liberty and necessity seems to vanish. And herein you seem to make all sins to proceed from our understandings, or to be against conscience, and not at all from the depravity of our wills. Now it seems harsh to you, that a man will be damned, because he understands no better than he does. What you say concerning genera and species is unquestionably true; and yet it seems hard to assert, that there is no such sort of creatures in nature, as birds: for though we may be ignorant of the particular essence, that makes a bird to be a bird, or that determines and distinguishes a bird from a beast; or the just limits and boundaries between each; yet we can no more doubt of a sparrow’s being a bird, and an horse’s being a beast, than we can of this colour being black, and the other white: though, by shades they may be made so gradually to vanish into each other, that we cannot tell where either determines.
But all this I write more in deference to your desires from me, than to satisfy myself, that I have given you any material hints, or have offered any considerable objection, that is worth your notice and removal. Mr. Norris’s unfortunate attempts on your book sufficiently testify its validity; and truly I think he trifles so egregiously, that he should forewarn all men how far they venture to criticise on your book. But thus far, after all, I’ll venture to intimate to you, that if you are for another work of this kind, I should advise you to let this stand as it does. And your next should be of a model wholly new, and that is by way of logic; something accommodated to the usual forms, together with the consideration of extension, solidity, mobility, thinking, existence, duration, number, &c. and of the mind of man and its powers; as may make up a complete body of what the schools call logic and metaphysics. This I am the more inclinable to advise on two accounts; first, because I have lately seen Johannis Clerici Logica, Ontologia, et Pneumatologia, in all which he has little extraordinary, but what he borrows from you; and in the alteration he gives them, he robs them of their native beauties; which can only be preserved to them by the same incomparable art that first framed them. Secondly, I was the first that recommended and lent to the reverend provost of our university, Dr. Ashe, a most learned and ingenious man, your essay, with which he was so wonderfully pleased and satisfied, that he has ordered it to be read by the bachelors in the college, and strictly examines them in their progress therein. Now a large discourse, in the way of a logic, would be much more taking in the universities, wherein youths do not satisfy themselves to have the breeding or business of the place unless they are engaged in something that bears the name and form of logic.
This, sir, is in short what offers itself to me, at present, concerning your work. There remains only, that I again put you in mind of the second member of your division of sciences, the ars practica, or ethics; you cannot imagine what an earnest desire and expectation I have raised, in those that are acquainted with your writings, by the hopes I have given them from your promise of endeavouring something on that subject. Good sir, let me renew my requests to you therein; for believe me, sir, it will be one of the most useful and glorious undertakings that can employ you. The touches you give in many places of your book, on this subject, are wonderfully curious, and do largely testify your great abilities that way; and I am sure the pravity of men’s morals does mightily require the most powerful means to reform them. Be as large as it is possible on this subject, and by all means let it be in English. He that reads the 45th section, in your 129th page, will be inflamed to read more of the same kind, from the same incomparable pen. Look, therefore, on yourself as obliged by God Almighty to undertake this task (pardon me, sir, that I am so free with you, as to insist to yourself on your duty, who, doubtless, understand it better than I can tell you); suffer not therefore your thoughts to rest, till you have finished it; and that God Almighty may succeed your labours, is, and shall be the prayer of,
Your intirely affectionate humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, Dec. 26, 1692.
WHATEVER has happened to give you leisure sooner than was expected, I hope to receive some advantage by it. And that now you will be able to send me your own thoughts on my book, together with the observations of your friend, into whose hands you have put it with that design. I return you my humble thanks for the papers you did me the favour to send me in your last: but am apt to think you agree with me that there is very little in those papers, wherein either my sense is not mistaken, or very little, wherein the argument is directly against me. I suppose that learned gentleman, if he had had the leisure to read my essay quite through, would have found several of his objections might have been spared. And I can easily forgive those who have not been at the pains to read the third book of my essay, if they make use of expressions that, when examined, signify nothing at all, in defence of hypotheses, that have long possessed their minds. I am far from imagining myself infallible; but yet I should be loth to differ from any thinking man, being fully persuaded there are very few things of pure speculation, wherein two thinking men, who impartially seek truth, can differ, if they give themselves the leisure to examine their hypotheses, and understand one another. I, presuming you to be of this make, whereof so few are to be found, (for it is not every one that thinks himself a lover, or seeker of truth, who sincerely does it,) took the liberty to desire your objections, that in the next edition I might correct my mistakes. For I am not fond of any thing in my book, because I have once thought or said it. And therefore I beg you, if you will give yourself the pains to look over my book, again with this design, to oblige me, that you would use all manner of freedom, both as to matter, style, disposition, and every thing wherein, in your own thoughts, any thing appears to you fit, in the least, to be altered, omitted, explained, or added. I find none so fit, nor so fair judges, as those whose minds the study of mathematicks has opened, and dis-entangled from the cheat of words, which has too great an influence in all the other, which go for sciences: and I think (were it not for the doubtful and fallacious use that is made of those signs) might be made much more sciences than they are.
I sent order, some time since, that a posthumous piece of Mr. Boyle’s should be given to your bookseller in London, to be conveyed to you. It is “A General History of the Air;” which, though left by him very imperfect, yet I think the very design of it will please you; and it is cast into a method that any one who pleases may add to it, under any of the several titles, as his reading or observation shall furnish him with matter of fact. If such men as you are, curious and knowing, would join to what Mr. Boyle had collected and prepared what comes in their way, we might hope, in some time, to have a considerable history of the air, than which I scarce know any part of natural philosophy would yield more variety and use; but it is a subject too large for the attempts of any one man, and will require the assistance of many hands, to make it a history very short of complete.
Since I did myself the honour to write to your brother, I have been very ill, to which you must pardon some part of the length of my silence. But my esteem and respect for you is founded upon something so much beyond compliment and ceremony, that I hope you will not think me the less so, though I do not every post importune you with repeated professions that I am,
Your most humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, Jan. 20, 1692-3.
HAD I known I should, within so few days, have received the favour of such a letter as yours of Dec. 22, I should not have troubled you with mine, that went hence but a little before the receipt of yours. I was afraid, in reading the beginning of yours, that I had not so great an interest in you as I flattered myself, and upon a presumption whereof it was, that I took the liberty so confidently to ask your advice, concerning the second edition of my book. But what followed satisfied me, that it was your civility, and not reservedness, made you tell me, that the same hand, which first formed it, is best able to reform it. Could I flatter myself so, as to think I deserved all that you say of me, in your obliging letter, I should yet think you a better judge of what is to be reformed in my book, than I myself. You have given the world proofs of your great penetration, and I have received great marks of your candour. But were the inequality between us as much to my advantage, as it is on the other side, I should nevertheless beg your opinion. Whatsoever is our own, let us do what we can, stands a little too near us to be viewed as it should: and, though we ever so sincerely aim at truth, yet our own thoughts, judging still of our own thoughts, may be suspected to overlook errours, and mistakes. And I should think he valued himself more than truth, and presumed too much on his own abilities, who would not be willing to have all the exceptions could be made, by any ingenious friend, before he ventured any thing into the public. I therefore heartily thank you, for those you have sent me, and for consulting some of your friends, to the same purpose: and beg the favour, if any thing more occurs from your own thoughts, or from them, you will be pleased to communicate it to me, if it be but those errata typographica you meet with, not taken notice of in the table. I confess, I thought some of the explications in my book too long, though turned several ways to make those abstract notions the easier sink into minds prejudiced in the ordinary way of education; and therefore I was of a mind to contract it. But finding you, and some other friends of mine, whom I consulted in the case of a contrary opinion, and that you judge the redundancy in it a pardonable fault, I shall take very little pains to reform it.
I confess what I say, page 270, compared with 314, 315, may, to an unwary reader, seem to contain a contradiction: but you, considering right, perceive that there is none. But it not being reasonable for me to expect that every body should read me with that judgment you do, and observe the design and foundation of what I say, rather than stick barely in the words, it is fit, as far as may be, that I accommodate myself to ordinary readers, and avoid the appearances of contradiction, even in their thoughts. P. 314, I suppose matter in its own natural state, void of thought; a supposition I concluded would not be denied me, or not hard to be proved, if it should: and thence I inferred, matter could not be the first eternal being. But, page 270, I thought it no absurdity, or contradiction, to suppose, “that, a thinking, omnipotent being once granted, such a being might annex to some systems of matter ordered in a way, that he thought fit, a capacity of some degrees of sense and thinking.” To avoid this appearance of a contradiction, in my two suppositions, and clear it up to less attentive readers, I intend in the second edition to alter it thus, if you think it will do:
P. 270, l. 20, read, “For I see no contradiction in it, that the first, eternal, thinking being, or omnipotent spirit, should, if he pleased, give to certain systems of created, senseless matter, put together as he thinks fit, some degrees of sense, perception, and thought, though I judge it no less than a contradiction, to suppose matter (which is evidently, in its own nature, without sense and thought) should be the eternal, first, thinking being. What certainty of knowledge can any one have, that some perceptions, such as, v. g. pleasure and pain, should not be in some bodies themselves after”——
P. 315, l. 5, read, “Thought can never begin to be; for it is impossible to conceive that matter, either with or without motion, could have originally, in and from itself, sense, perception, and knowledge; as is evident from hence, that sense, perception, and knowledge must then be a property eternally inseparable from matter and every particle of it. Not to add, that though our general or specific conception of matter makes us speak of it as one thing; yet really all matter is not one individual thing, neither is there any such thing existing as one material being, or one body, that we know or can conceive. And therefore, if matter were the eternal, first, cogitative being, there would not be one eternal, infinite, cogitative being: but an infinite number of finite, cogitative beings independent one of another, of limited force and distinct thoughts, which could never produce that order, harmony, and beauty, is to be found in nature. Since, therefore, whatsoever is the first, eternal being must necessarily be cogitative: and whatsoever is first of all things——higher degree it necessarily follows, that the eternal, first being cannot be matter.” Pray, give me your opinion, whether, if I print it thus, it will not remove the appearance of any contradiction.
I do not wonder to find you think my discourse about liberty a little too fine spun; I had so much that thought of it myself, that I said the same thing of it to some of my friends, before it was printed; and told them, that upon that account I judged it best to leave it out; but they persuaded me to the contrary. When the connexion of the parts of my subject brought me to the consideration of power, I had no design to meddle with the question of liberty; but barely pursued my thoughts in the contemplation of that power in man of choosing, or preferring, which we call the will, as far as they would lead me, without any the least bias to one side, or other; or, if there was any leaning in my mind, it was rather to the contrary side of that, where I found myself at the end of my pursuit. But doubting that it bore a little too hard upon man’s liberty, I showed it to a very ingenious but professed Arminian, and desired him, after he had considered it, to tell me his objections, if he had any, who frankly confessed he could carry it no farther. I confess, I think there might be something said, which with a great many men would pass for a satisfactory answer to your objection; but it not satisfying me, I neither put it into my book, nor shall now into my letter. If I have put any fallacy on myself, in all that deduction, as it may be, and I have been ready to suspect it myself, you will do me a very acceptable kindness to show it me, that I may reform it. But if you will argue for, or against, liberty from consequences, I will not undertake to answer you. For I own freely to you the weakness of my understanding, that though it be unquestionable, that there is omnipotence and omniscience in God, our maker, and I cannot have a clearer perception of any thing, than that I am free; yet I cannot make freedom in man consistent with omnipotence and omniscience in God, though I am as fully as persuaded of both, as of any truths I most firmly assent to. And, therefore, I have long since given off the consideration of that question, resolving all into this short conclusion, that if it be possible for God to make a free agent, then man is free, though I see not the way of it.
In the objection you raise about species, I fear you are fallen into the same difficulty I often found myself under, when I was writing on that subject, where I was very apt to suppose distinct species I could talk of, without names. For pray, sir, consider what it is you mean, when you say, that “we can no more doubt of a sparrow’s being a bird, and a horse’s being a beast, than we can of this colour being black, and the other white,” &c. but this, that the combination of simple ideas, which the word, bird, stands for, is to be found in that particular thing we call a sparrow. And therefore I hope I have no-where said, “there is no such sort of creatures in nature, as birds;” if I have, it is both contrary to truth and to my opinion. This I do say, that there are real constitutions in things, from whence these simple ideas flow, which we observe combined in them. And this I farther say, that there are real distinctions and differences in those real constitutions, one from another; whereby they are distinguished one from another, whether we think of them, or name them, or no: but that that whereby we distinguish and rank particular substances into sorts, or genera and species, is not those real essences, or internal constitutions, but such combinations of simple ideas, as we observe in them. This I designed to show, in lib. iii. c. 6. If, upon your perusal of that chapter again, you find any thing contrary to this, I beg the favour of you to mark it to me, that I may correct it; for it is not what I think true. Some parts of that third book, concerning words, though the thoughts were easy and clear enough, yet cost me more pains to express, than all the rest of my essay. And therefore I shall not much wonder, if there be in some places of it obscurity and doubtfulness. It would be a great kindness from my readers to oblige me, as you have done, by telling me any thing they find amiss; for the printed book being more for others use than my own, it is fit I should accommodate it to that, as much as I can; which truly is my intention.
That which you propose, of turning my essay into a body of logic and metaphysics, accommodated to the usual forms, though I thank you very kindly for it, and plainly see in it the care you have of the education of young scholars, which is a thing of no small moment; yet I fear I shall scarce find time to do it: you have cut out other work for me, more to my liking, and I think of more use. Besides that, if they have, in this book of mine, what you think the matter of these two sciences, or what you will call them; I like the method it is in, better than that of the schools, where I think it is no small prejudice to knowledge, that predicaments, predicables, &c. being universally, in all their systems, come to be looked on as necessary principles, or unquestionable parts of knowledge, just as they are set down there. If logic be the first thing to be taught young men, after grammar, as is the usual method, I think yet it should be nothing but proposition and syllogism. But that being in order to their disputing exercises in the university, perhaps I may think those may be spared too: disputing being but an ill (not to say the worst) way to knowledge. I say this not as pretending to change, or find fault with, what public allowance and established practice has settled in universities; but to excuse myself to you, from whom I cannot allow myself to differ, without telling you the true reasons of it. For I see so much knowledge, candour, and the marks of so much good-will to mankind in you, that there are few men, whose opinion I think ought to have so much authority with me as yours. But, as to the method of learning, perhaps I may entertain you more at large hereafter; only now let me ask you, since you mention logic and metaphysics in relation to my book, whether either of those sciences may suggest to you any new heads, fit to be inserted into my essay, in a second edition?
You have done too much honour to me in the recommendation I see you have given to my book; and I am the more pleased with it, because I think it was not done out of kindness to one so much a stranger to you as I then was. But yet, pray do not think me so vain that I dare assume to myself almost any part of what you say of me in your last letter. Could I find in myself any reason you could have to flatter me, I should suspect you resolved to play the courtier a little. But I know what latitude civil and well-bred men allow themselves with great sincerity, where they are pleased, and kindness warms them. I am sensible of the obligation, and in return shall only tell you, that I shall speedily set myself to obey your commands in the last part of your letter. I beg your pardon for trespassing so much on your patience, and am,
Your most humble and most obliged servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, March 2, 1692-3.
YOURS of Jan. 20 came to my hands, just as I lay down on a bed of sickness, being a severe colic, that held me nigh five weeks, and brought me very weak; this was the more grievous to me, in that it hindered me from giving that ready answer to your letters, which I desired; being very covetous, on all opportunities, of keeping up a correspondence with one, for whom I had so great a respect. I am now, God be thanked, pretty well recovered; but yet weak, and have not yet stirred abroad. I know the bare signifying this to you is sufficient in my excuse; so that, relying on your pardon, I proceed to answer your last.
And first, sir, believe me, that whatever respect I have at any time used to you, has been the sincere thoughts of my heart, and not the vain compliments that usually pass between courtiers, and, how extravagant soever, are looked upon as the effects of good breeding, and pass only as such, by licence. I think I know a worthy man when I meet him, and they are so rare in the world, that no honour is too great for those that are such. And I must plainly say it to yourself, that so much humanity, candour, condescension, and good-nature, joined with so great judgment, learning, and parts, I have not met with in any man living, as in the author of the “Essay concerning Human Understanding.” You so favourably entertain all men’s objections, you are so desirous to hear the sense of others, you are so tender in differing from any man, that you have captivated me beyond resistance. What you propose to add in those places, which I intimated to you, as seemingly repugnant to unwary readers, p. 270 and 314, 315, is abundantly sufficient; unless you may think it convenient (for the prevention of all manner of scruple, and to show your readers, that you are aware of the objection that may be raised against these passages) to add in the margin a little note to that purpose, specifying the seeming repugnancy that was in the first edition, and that, for the clearing thereof, you have thus farther illustrated it in this. But this, as every thing else, I propose with all submission to your better judgment. Mentioning the marginal note to you minds me to intimate, that I should think it convenient, in your next edition, to express the abstract or content of each section in the margin, and to spare (if you think fit) the table of contents at the latter end of the book, though I think both may do best. I can assure you, for my own reading, and consulting your book, I have put the table of contents to their respective sections throughout the whole.
I am fully convinced, by the arguments you give me, for not turning your book into the scholastic form of logic and metaphysics; and I had no other reason to advise the other, but merely to get it promoted the easier in our university; one of the businesses of which places is to learn according to the old forms. And this minds me to let you know the great joy and satisfaction of mind I conceived, on your promise of the method of learning; there could be nothing more acceptable to me, than the hopes thereof, and that on this account; I have but one child in the world, who is now nigh four years old, and promises well; his mother left him to me very young, and my affections (I must confess) are strongly placed on him: it has pleased God, by the liberal provisions of our ancestors, to free me from the toiling cares of providing a fortune for him; so that my whole study shall be to lay up a treasure of knowledge in his mind, for his happiness both in this life and the next. And I have been often thinking of some method for his instruction, that may best obtain the end I propose. And now, to my great joy, I hope to be abundantly supplied by your method. And my brother has sometimes told me, that, whilst he had the happiness of your acquaintance at Leyden, you were upon such a work, as this I desire; and that too, at the request of a tender father, for the use of his only son. Wherefore, good sir, let me most earnestly intreat you, by no means to lay aside this infinitely useful work, till you have finished it; for it will be of vast advantage to all mankind, as well as particularly to me, your intire friend. And, on this consideration of usefulness to mankind, I will presume again to remind you of your “discourse of morality;” and I shall think myself very happy, if, by putting you on the thought, I should be the least occasion of so great good to the world. What I have more to say, relating to your book, is of little or no moment: however, you so readily entertain all men’s thoughts of your works, that futile as mine are, you shall have a remark or two more from me.
But first to your query, whether I know any new heads from logic or metaphysics to be inserted in the second edition of your essay: I answer, I know none, unless you think it may not do well to insist more particularly, and at large, on “æternæ veritates, and the principium individuationis.” Concerning the first, you have some touches, p. 281, § 31, p. 323, § 14, p. 345, § 14, and concerning the latter, p. 28, § 4, p. 40, § 12.
Page 96, sect. 9, you assert, what I conceive is an errour in fact, viz. “that a man’s eye can distinguish a second of a circle, whereof its self is the centre.” Whereas it is certain, that few men’s eyes can distinguish less than 30 seconds, and most not under a minute, or 60 seconds, as is manifest from what Mr. Hook lays down in his animadversions, on the first part of Hevelii machina cœlestis, p. 8, 9, &c. but this, as I said before, is only an errour in fact, and affects not the doctrine laid down in the said section.
Page 341, sect. 2, you say, “the existence of all things without us (except only of God) is had by our senses.” And p. 147, sect. 33, 34, 35, 36, you show how the idea we have of God, is made up of the ideas we have gotten by our senses. Now this, though no repugnancy; yet, to unwary readers, may seem one, and therefore perhaps may deserve a fuller expression. To me it is plain, that in page 341, you speak barely of the existence of a God; and in p. 147, you speak of the ideas that are ingredient in the complex idea of God; that is, p. 147, you say, “that all the ideas ingredient in the idea of a God, are had from sense;” and p. 341, you only assert, “that the existence of this God, or that really there are united in one being all these ideas, is had, not from sense, but demonstration.” This to me seems your sense; yet perhaps every reader may not so readily conceive it; and, therefore, possibly you may think this passage, p. 341, worthy your farther consideration and addition.
I will conclude my tedious lines with a jocose problem, that, upon discourse with several, concerning your book and notions, I have proposed to divers very ingenious men, and could hardly ever meet with one, that, at first dash, would give me the answer to it which I think true, till by hearing my reasons they were convinced. It is this: “Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere (suppose) of ivory, nighly of the same bigness, so as to tell when he felt one and t’other, which is the cube, which the sphere. Suppose then the cube and sphere placed on a table, and the blind man to be made to see; query, ‘Whether by his sight, before he touched them, he could now distinguish and tell, which is the globe, which the cube?’ I answer, not: for though he has obtained the experience of how a globe, and how a cube affects his touch; yet he has not yet attained the experience, that what affects his touch so or so, must affect his sight so or so; or that a protuberant angle in the cube, that pressed his hand unequally, shall appear to his eye as it does in the cube.” But of this enough; perhaps you may find some place in your essay, wherein you may not think it amiss to say something of this problem.
I am extremely obliged to you for Mr. Boyle’s book of the air, which lately came to my hands. It is a vast design, and not to be finished but by the united labours of many heads, and indefatigably prosecuted for many years; so that I despair of seeing any thing complete therein. However, if many will lend the same helping hands that you have done, I should be in hopes: and certainly there is not a chapter in all natural philosophy of greater use to mankind than what is here proposed. I am,
Your most humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, 28 Mar. 1693.
YOUR silence, that spared me a great deal of fear and uneasiness, by concealing from me your sickness, ’till it was well over, is abundantly made amends for, by the joy it brings me, in the news of your recovery. You have given me those marks of your kindness to me, that you will not think it strange, that I count you amongst my friends; and with those, desiring to live with the ease and freedom of a perfect confidence, I never accuse them to myself of neglect, or coldness, when I fail to hear from them, so soon as I expected or desired: though had I known you so well before as I do now, since your last letter, I should not have avoided being in pain upon account of your health.
I cannot at all doubt the sincerity of any thing you say to me; but yet give me leave to think, that it is an excess of kindness alone could excuse it from looking like compliment. But I am convinced you love your friends extremely, where you have made choice of them, and then believe you can never think nor speak too well of them. I know not whether it belongs to a man, who gets once in print, to read in his book, that it is perfect, and that the author is infallible. Had I had such an opinion of my own sufficiency before I writ, my essay would have brought me to another, and given me such a sight of the weakness of my understanding, that I could not fail to suspect myself of errour and mistake, in many things I had writ, and to desire all the light I could get from others to set me right. I have found you one of the likeliest to afford it me; your clearness and candour gave me the confidence to ask your judgment; and I take it for no small assurance of your friendship that you have given it me, and have condescended to advise me of the printer’s faults, which gives me hopes you have not concealed any you have observed in the work itself. The marginal summaries you desire, of the paragraphs, I shall take care to have added, were it only for your sake; but I think too it will make the book the more useful.
That request of yours, you press so earnestly upon me, makes me bemoan the distance you are from me, which deprives me of the assistance I might have from your opinion and judgment, before I ventured any thing into the public. It is so hard to find impartial freedom in one’s friends, or an unbiassed judgment any-where, that amongst all the helps of conversation and acquaintance, I know none more wanted, nor more useful, than speaking freely and candidly one’s opinion upon the thoughts and compositions of another intended for the press. Experience has taught me, that you are a friend of this rank, and therefore I cannot but heartily wish that a sea between us did not hinder me from the advantage of this good office. Had you been within reach, I should have begged your severe examination of what is now gone to the printer, at your instance; I had rather I could have said upon your perusal, and with your correction. I am not in my nature a lover of novelty, nor contradiction; but my notions in this treatise have run me so far out of the common road and practice, that I could have been glad to have had them allowed by so sober a judgment as yours, or stopped, if they had appeared impracticable or extravagant, from going any farther. That which your brother tells you, on this occasion, is not wholly besides the matter. The main of what I now publish, is but what was contained in several letters to a friend of mine, the greatest part whereof were writ out of Holland. How your brother came to know of it, I have clearly forgot, and do not remember that ever I communicated it to any body there. These letters, or at least some of them, have been seen by some of my acquaintance here, who would needs persuade me it would be of use to publish them; your impatience to see them has not, I assure you, slackened my hand, or kept me in suspense: and I wish now they were out, that you might the sooner see them, and I the sooner have your opinion of them. I know not yet whether I shall set my name to this discourse, and therefore shall desire you to conceal it. You see I make you my confessor, for you have made yourself my friend.
The faults of the press are, I find, upon a sedate reading over my book, infinitely more than I could have thought; those that you have observed, I have corrected, and return you my thanks; and, as far as I have gone in my review, have added and altered several things; but am not yet got so far as those places you mark for the “æternæ veritates, and principium individuationis,” which I shall consider, when I come to them, and endeavour to satisfy your desire. “Malebranche’s hypothesis of seeing all things in God,” being that from whence I find some men would derive our ideas, I have some thoughts of adding a new chapter, wherein I will examine it, having, as I think, something to say against it, that will show the weakness of it very clearly. But I have so little love to controversy, that I am not fully resolved. Some other additions I have made, I hope, will not displease you, but I wish I could show them you, before they are in print; for I would not make my book bigger, unless it were to make it better.
I thank you for advising me of the errour about sight, for indeed it was a great one in matter of fact, but it was in the expression; for I meant a minute, but by mistake called 1/60 of a degree a second. Your ingenious problem will deserve to be published to the world.
The seeming contradiction between what is said page 147, and p. 341, is just as you take it, and I hope so clearly expressed, that it cannot be mistaken, but by a very unwary reader, who cannot distinguish between an idea in the mind, and the real existence of something out of the mind answering that idea. But I heartily thank you for your caution, and shall take care how to prevent any such mistake, when I come to that place. My humble service to your brother. I am,
Your most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, April 18, 1693.
I HAVE lately received farther testimonies of your kindness and friendship to me, in your last of March 28; which brings withal the welcome news of your having committed your work of education to the press; than which, I know not any thing, that I ever expected with a more earnest desire. What my brother told me, relating to that treatise, he had from yourself in Holland; but perhaps you might have forgot what passed between you on that occasion. I perceive you fear the novelty of some notions therein may seem extravagant; but, if I may venture to judge of the author, I fear no such thing from him. I doubt not but the work will be new and peculiar, as his other performances; and this it is that renders them estimable and pleasant. He that travels the beaten roads may chance, indeed, to have company; but he that takes his liberty, and manages it with judgment, is the man that makes useful discoveries, and most beneficial to those that follow him. Had Columbus never ventured farther than his predecessors, we had yet been ignorant of a vast part of our earth, preferable (as some say) to all the other three. And, if none may be allowed to try the ocean of philosophy farther than our ancestors, we shall have but little advancements, or discoveries, made in the “mundus intellectualis;” wherein, I believe, there is much more unknown, than what we have yet found out.
I should very much approve of your adding a chapter in your essay, concerning Malebranche’s hypothesis. As there are enthusiasms in divinity, so there are in philosophy; and as one proceeds from not consulting or misapprehending the book of God; so the other from not reading and considering the book of nature. I look upon Malebranche’s notions, or rather Plato’s, in this particular, as perfectly unintelligible. And if you will engage in a philosophic controversy, you cannot do it with more advantage, than in this matter. What you lay down, concerning our ideas and knowledge, is founded and confirmed by experiment and observation, that any man may make in himself, or the children he converses with, wherein he may note the gradual steps that we may make in knowledge. But Plato’s fancy has no foundation in nature, but is merely the product of his own brain.
I know it is none of your business to engage in controversy, or remove objections, save only such as seem immediately to strike at your own positions; and therefore I cannot insist upon what I am now going to mention to you. However, I will give you the hint, and leave the consideration thereof to your own breast. The 10th chapter of your ivth book, is a most exact demonstration of the existence of God. But perhaps it might be more full, by an addition against the eternity of the world, and that all things have not been going on in the same manner, as we now see them, “ab æterno.” I have known a pack of philosophical atheists, that rely much on this hypothesis; and even Hobbes himself does somewhere allege (if I am not forgetful, it is his book “De corpore,” in the chapter “de universo”) “that the same arguments, which are brought against the eternity of the world, may serve as well against the eternity of the Creator of the world.” I am,
Your most affectionate, devoted servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, 15 July, 1693.
I HAD not been so long, before I had acknowledged the favour of your last, had not I a design to give you at large, an account of some alterations I intended to make, in the chapter of power, wherein I should have been very glad you had showed me any mistake. I myself, not being very well satisfied, by the conclusion I was led to, that my reasonings were perfectly right, reviewed that chapter again with great care, and by observing only the mistake of one word (viz. having put “things” for “actions,” which was very easy to be done in the place where it is, viz. p. 123, as I remember, for I have not my book by me, here in town) I got into a new view of things, which, if I mistake not, will satisfy you, and give a clearer account of human freedom than hitherto I have done, as you will perceive by the summaries of the following sections of that chapter.
- § 28. Volition is the ordering of some action by thought.
- § 29. Uneasiness determines the will.
- § 30. Will must be distinguished from desire.
- § 31. The greater good in view, barely considered, determines not the will. The joys of heaven are often neglected.
- § 32. Desire determines the will.
- § 33. Desire is an uneasiness.
- § 34. The greatest present uneasiness usually determines the will, as is evident in experience. The reasons.
- § 35. Because uneasiness being a part of unhappiness, which is first to be removed in our way to happiness.
- § 36. Because uneasiness alone is present.
- § 37. The uneasiness of other passions have their share with desire.
- § 38. Happiness alone moves the desire.
- § 39. All absent good not desired, because not necessary to our happiness.
- § 40. The greatest uneasiness does not always determine the will, because we can suspend the execution of our desires.
This short scheme may perhaps give you so much light into my present hypothesis, that you will be able to judge of the truth of it, which I beg you to examine by your own mind. I wish you were so near, that I could communicate it to you at large, before it goes to the press. But it is so much too long for a letter, and the press will be so ready to stay for it, before it is finished, that I fear I should not be able to have the advantage of your thoughts, upon the whole thread of my deduction. For I had much rather have your corrections, whilst they might contribute to make it receive your approbation, than flatter myself before-hand that you will be pleased with it.
I hope, ere this, you have received from Mr. —— that which I promised you, the beginning of the spring. I must desire your opinion of it without reserve, for I should not have ventured, upon any other condition, to have owned and presented to you such a trifle. I am,
Your most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, August 12, 1693.
YOURS of July 15, came to my hands about a fortnight since; and I had, ere this, acknowledged the favour thereof, but that I waited the arrival of your much desired piece, of education, which came not to me ’till about three days ago. I immediately set myself to read it as all things from its author, with the utmost attention; and I find it answerable to the highest expectations I had of it. And since, with your usual modesty, you are pleased to require my thoughts more particularly concerning it, I shall with all freedom, but at the same time with all deference, propose them to you, not doubting of your favourable interpretation and pardon, where you see it needful. And first, in general, I think you propose nothing in your whole book, but what is very reasonable, and very practicable, except only in one particular, which seems to bear hard on the tender spirits of children, and the natural affections of parents: it is page 117, 118, where you advise, “that a child should never be suffered to have what he craves, or so much as speaks for, much less if he cries for it.” I acknowledge what you say in explaining this rule, sect. 101, in relation to natural wants, especially that of hunger, may be well enough allowed: but in sect. 102, where you come to apply it to “wants of fancy and affectation,” you seem too strict and severe. You say indeed, “this will teach them to stifle their desires, and to practise modesty and temperance;” but for teaching these virtues I conceive we shall have occasions enough, in relation to their hurtful desires, without abridging them so wholly, in matters indifferent and innocent, that tend only to divert and please their busy spirits. You allow indeed, “that it would be inhumanity to deny them those things one perceives would delight them;” if so, I see no reason why, in a modest way, and with submission to the wills of their superiours, they may not be allowed to declare what will delight them. No, say you; “but in all wants of fancy and affectation they should never, if once declared, be hearkened to, or complied with.” This I can never agree to, it being to deny that liberty between a child and its parents, as we desire, and have granted us, between man and his Creator. And as, in this case, man is allowed to declare his wants, and with submission to recommend his requests to God; so I think children may be allowed by their parents, or governors. And as between the creature and Creator all manner of repining upon denial, or disappointment, is forbidden; so, in the case of children, all frowardness or discontent, upon a refusal, is severely to be reprimanded. But thus far I agree with you, in the whole, that whether it be in wants natural, or fanciful, that they express their desires in a forward, humoursome manner, there they should be surely denied them. A farther reason for my allowing children the liberty of expressing their innocent desires, is, that the contrary is impracticable; and you must have the children almost moped for want of diversion and recreation; or else you must have those about them study nothing all day, but how to find employment for them; and how this would rack the invention of any man alive, I leave you to judge. And besides, were it an easy task for any adult person to study the fancy, the unaccountable fancy, and diversion of children, the whole year round; yet it would not prove delightful to a child, being not his own choice. But this, you will say, is what you would have imprinted on them, that they are not to choose for themselves; but why not, in harmless things, and plays or sports, I see no reason. In all things of moment let them live by the conduct of others wiser than themselves.
This, sir, is all that in your whole book I stick at; to all the rest I could subscribe. And I am not a little pleased, when I consider that my own management of my only little one has hitherto been agreeable, in the main, to your rules, save only in what relates to his hardy breeding, which I was cautious in, because he is come from a tender and sickly mother; but the child himself is hitherto (God be thanked) very healthful, though not very strong.
The rules you give for the correcting of children, and implanting in their minds an early sense of praise or dispraise, of repute and dishonour, are certainly very just.
The contrivances you propose for teaching them to read and write, are very ingenious. And because I have practised one much of the same nature, I will venture to describe it: “It is by writing syllables and words in print-hand, on the face of a pack of cards, with figures or cyphers adjoined to each word; by which I can form twenty several sorts of games, that shall teach children both to read and count at the same time; and this with great variety.” One thing more I shall venture to add to what you direct concerning writing; that is, I will have my son taught shorthand; I do not mean to that perfection as to copy a speech from the mouth of a ready speaker, but to be able to write it readily, for his own private business. Believe me, sir, it is as useful a knack as a man of business, or any scholar, can be master of, and I have found the want of it myself, and seen the advantage of it in others, frequently.
You are certainly in the right of it, relating to the manner of acquiring languages, French, Latin, &c. and in what you lay down concerning grammar-schools, themes, verses, and other learning. But above all, what you direct, in every particular, for the forming of children’s minds, and giving them an early turn to morality, virtue, religion, &c. is most excellent.
And I can only say in general, that I can give no better proof of my liking your book in all these precepts, than by a strict observance of them, in the education of my own son; which I shall pursue (God willing) as exactly as I can. One thing I fear I shall be at a loss in, that is, a tutor agreeable to the character you prescribe. But in this neither shall my endeavours be wanting, though I leave him the worse estate, to leave him the better mind.
I could heartily have wished you had been more particular in naming the authors you would advise gentlemen to read, and be conversant in, in the several parts of learning you recommend to their study. Had you done this, I know no logic, that deserves to be named, but the Essay of Human Understanding. So that I fear you would rather have left that head open, that recommended your own work.
The last thing I shall take notice of, is what mightily pleases me, it being the very thought of my own mind, these many years; which is, “your recommending a manual trade to all gentlemen.” This I have ever been for, and have wondered how it comes to pass, that it is so generally neglected; but the lazy, effeminate luxuriousness that over-runs the nation, occasions the neglect thereof. Painting I have ever designed for my son; but you have raised two objections against it, that are not easily answered, especially its taking up so much time to attain a mastery in it.
I have now given you my opinion of your book, and now I am obliged to thank you for sending me a present, which I so highly value.
As to that part of your letter, relating to the alterations you have made, in your Essay, concerning man’s liberty, I dare not venture, upon those short hints you give me, to pass my opinion. But now, that you have discovered it to me, I plainly perceive the mistake of sect. 28. p. 123, where you put “thing” for “action.” And I doubt not, but in your next edition, you will fully rectify this matter. And I would advise you to hasten that edition with what speed you can, lest foreigners undertake a translation of your first, without your second thoughts. Thus they have served me, by translating into Latin, and printing my Dioptrics in Holland, when I have now by me a translation of my own of that work, with many amendments and large additions.
Pray, sir, let me beg the favour of your correspondence as frequently as you can; for nothing is more acceptable to
Your most obliged humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, Aug. 23, 1693.
YOURS of August 12, which I received last night, eased me of a great deal of pain, your silence had for some time put me in; for you must allow me to be concerned for your health, as for a friend that I could not think in danger, or a disease, without a concern and trouble suitable to that great esteem and love I have for you. But you have made me amends plentifully, by the length and kindness, and let me add too, the freedom of your letter. For the approbation you so largely give to my book, is the more welcome to me, and gives me the better opinion of my method, because it has joined with it your exception to one rule of it; which I am apt to think you yourself, upon second thoughts, will have removed before I say any thing to your objections. It confirms to me that you are the good-natured man I took you for: and I do not at all wonder that the affection of a kind father should startle at it at first reading, and think it very severe that children should not be suffered to express their desires; for so you seem to understand me. And such a restraint, you fear, “would be apt to mope them, and hinder “their diversion.” But if you please to look upon the place, and observe my drift, you will find that they should not be indulged, or complied with, in any thing, their conceits have made a want to them, as necessary to be supplied. What you say, “that children would be moped for want of diversion and recreation, or else we must have those about them study nothing all day, but how to find employment for them; and how this would rack the invention of any man living, you leave me to judge;” seems to intimate, as if you understood that children should do nothing but by the prescription of their parents or tutors, chalking out each action of the whole day in train to them. I hope my words express no such thing; for it is quite contrary to my sense, and I think would be useless tyranny in their governors, and certain ruin to the children. I am so much for recreation, that I would, as much as possible, have all they do be made so. I think recreation as necessary to them as their food, and that nothing can be recreation which does not delight. This, I think, I have so expressed; and when you have put that together, judge whether I would not have them have the greatest part of their time left to them, without restraint, to divert themselves any way they think best, so it be free from vicious actions, or such as may introduce vicious habits. And therefore, if they should ask to play, it could be no more interpreted a want of fancy, than if they asked for victuals when hungry; though, where the matter is well ordered, they will never need to do that. For when they have either done what their governor thinks enough, in any application to what is usually made their business, or are perceived to be tired with it, they should of course be dismissed to their innocent diversions, without ever being put to ask for it. So that I am for the full liberty of diversion as much as you can be; and, upon a second perusal of my book, I do not doubt but you will find me so. But being allowed that, as one of their natural wants, they should not yet be permitted to let loose their desires, in importunities for what they fancy. Children are very apt to covet what they see those above them in age have or do, to have or do the like; especially if it be their elder brothers and sisters. Does one go abroad? The other straight has a mind to it too. Has such an one new, or fine clothes, or playthings? They, if you once allow it them, will be impatient for the like; and think themselves ill dealt with, if they have it not. This being indulged when they are little, grows up with their age, and with that enlarges itself to things of greater consequence, and has ruined more families than one in the world. This should be suppressed in its very first rise, and the desires you would not have encouraged, you should not permit to be spoken, which is the best way for them to silence them to themselves. Children should, by constant use, learn to be very modest in owning their desires; and careful not to ask any thing of their parents, but what they have reason to think their parents will approve of. And a reprimand upon their ill-bearing a refusal comes too late, the fault is committed and allowed, and if you allow them to ask, you can scarce think it strange they should be troubled to be denied; so that you suffer them to engage themselves in the disorder, and then think the fittest time for a cure, and I think the surest and easiest way is prevention. For we must take the same nature to be in children that is in grown men; and how often do we find men take ill to be denied what they would not have been concerned for, if they had not asked? But I shall not enlarge any farther in this, believing you and I shall agree in the matter; and indeed it is very hard, and almost impossible to give general rules of education, when there is scarce any one child which, in some cases, should not be treated differently from another. All that we can do, in general, is only to show what parents and tutors should aim at, and leave to them the ordering of particular circumstances as the case shall require.
One thing give me leave to be importunate with you about: you say, your son is not very strong; to make him strong, you must use him hardly, as I have directed; but you must be sure to do it by very insensible degrees, and begin an hardship you would bring him to only in the spring. This is all the caution needs be used. I have an example of it in the house I live in, where the only son of a very tender mother was almost destroyed by a too tender keeping. He is now, by a contrary usage, come to bear wind and weather, and wet in his feet; and the cough which threatened him, under that warm and cautious management, has left him, and is now no longer his parents constant apprehension, as it was.
I am of your mind, as to short-hand. I myself learned it, since I was a man; but had forgot to put it in when I writ, as I have, I doubt not, overseen a thousand other things, which might have been said on this subject. But it was only, at first, a short scheme for a friend, and is published to excite others to treat it more fully.
I know not whether it would be useful to make a catalogue of authors to be read by a young man, or whether it could be done, unless one knew the child’s temper, and what he was designed to.
My essay is now very near ready for another edition; and upon review of my alterations, concerning what determines the will, in my cool thoughts, I am apt to think them to be right, as far as my thoughts can reach in so nice a point, and in short is this. Liberty is a power to act, or not to act, accordingly as the mind directs. A power to direct the operative faculties to motion or rest in particular instances, is that which we call the will. That which in the train of our voluntary actions determines the will to any change of operation, is some present uneasiness, which is, or at least is always accompanied with that of desire. Desire is always moved by evil to fly it; because a total freedom from pain always makes a necessary part of our happiness. But every good, nay every greater good, does not constantly move desire, because it may not make, or may not be taken to make, any necessary part of our happiness; for all that we desire is only to be happy. But though this general desire of happiness operates constantly and invariably in us; yet the satisfaction of any particular desire, can be suspended from determining the will to any subservient action, till we have maturely examined, whether the particular apparent good we then desire, make a part of our real happiness, or be consistent, or inconsistent with it. The result of our judgment, upon examination, is what ultimately determines the man, who could not be free, if his will were determined by any thing but his own desire, guided by his own judgment. This, in short, is what I think of this matter; I desire you to examine it by your own thoughts. I think I have so well made out the several particulars, where I treat them at large, that they have convinced some I have shown them to here, who were of another mind: and therefore how much soever contrary to the received opinion, I think I may publish them; but I would first have your judicious and free thoughts, which I much rely on; for you love truth for itself, and me so well, as to tell it me without disguise.
You will herewith receive a new chapter “Of identity and diversity,” which having writ only at your instance it is fit you should see and judge of, before it goes to the press. Pray send me your opinion of every part of it. You need not send back the papers, but your remarks on the paragraphs you shall think fit: for I have a copy here.
You desired me too to enlarge more particularly about eternal verities, which to obey you, I set about; but, upon examination, find all general truths are eternal verities, and so there is no entering into particulars; though, by mistake, some men have selected some, as if they alone were eternal verities. I never, but with regret, reflect on the distance you are from me, and am,
Your most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Sept. 16, 1693.
I HAVE yours from Oates of Aug. 23, with your chapter “of identity and diversity;” and I acknowledge myself extremely obliged to you, for being at all that thought, on my account. However, I repent not of the trouble I gave you therein, seeing the effects thereof, such clear reasoning, and profound judgment, that convinces and delights at once. And I protest, sir, it is to me the hardest task in the world, to add any thing to, or make any remarks upon, what you deliver therein; every thing you write therein is delivered with such convincing reason, that I fully assent to all. And to make remarks where I have no room to say any thing, would please neither you nor myself. And to show you that I would not wholly rely on my own examination of your chapter, I imparted it to others, desiring their censure of it; but still with the same event, all acknowledged the clearness of the reasoning, and that nothing more was left to be said on the subject.
The answer you make to what I writ on your Thoughts of Education, does fully satisfy me. But I assure you, sir, I was not the only person shocked at that passage. I find several stumble at it, as taking little play-things, that children are very apt to desire and ask for, to be matters of fancy and affectation within your rule. But seeing in your last letter, you confine desires of affectation and fancy to other matters, I am satisfied in this business.
I can say no more to the scheme you lay down of man’s liberty, but that I believe it very just, and will answer in all things. I long to see the second edition of your essay; and then, if any thing offer, I will give my thoughts more fully.
I am very sensible how closely you are engaged, till you have discharged this work off your hands; and therefore I will not venture, till it be over, to press you again to what you have promised in the business of man’s life, morality. But you must expect that I shall never be forgetful of that, from which I propose so great good to the world, and so much satisfaction to
Your most entirely affectionate humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Dec. 23, 1693.
I HAVE now read over your Essay of human Understanding a third time, and always make new discoveries therein of something profound. I should set upon it again, but that I will wait for your next edition, which I hope, by this time, is almost finished. The usual satisfaction I take in reading all things that come from you, made me lately again run over your chapter “of idendity and diversity;” concerning the justness whereof, I have yet the same opinion as formerly. But one thought suggested itself to me, which on my first reading did not occur. It relates to sect. 22, wherein the reason you give, why the law may justly punish a sober man, for what he did when drunk, or a waking man, for what he did when walking in his sleep, though it be true and full in the case of the night-walker: yet I conceive it not so full in the case of the drunken man. For drunkenness is itself a crime, and therefore no one shall allege it an excuse of another crime. And in the law we find, “that killing a man by chance-medley is not capital;” yet if I am doing an unlawful act, as shooting at a deer in a park, to steal it, and by chance-medley I kill a man unawares, this is capital: because the act wherein I was engaged, and which was the occasion of this mischief, was in itself unlawful, and I cannot plead it in excuse. In the case of the night-walker, your answer is true, full, and satisfactory; but that in the drunkard’s case is somewhat short. The night-walking is a sort of distemper, not to be helped, or prevented, by the patient. But drunkenness is a deliberate act, which a man may easily avoid and prevent. Moreover, whatever the law appoints in this case, I think, were I on the jury of one, who walking in his sleep had killed another, I should not violate a good conscience if I acquitted him; for he is certainly during those fits, “non compos mentis;” and it were easy to distinguish, by circumstances, how far he counterfeited or not.
You will very much oblige me, by a line or two, to let me know how forward your work is, and what other things you have on the anvil before you: amongst which, I hope, you will not forget your “Thoughts on Morality.” For I am obliged to prosecute this request to you, being the first, I presume, that moved you in it.
There is a gentleman in this town, one capt. Henry Monk, a nigh relation of the Albemarles, who tells me he has been known to you long ago: and on all occasions mentions you with the highest respects. He desired me, the other day, to give you his most humble service. I am,
Your most obedient servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, 19 Jan.—93-4.
I CAN take it for no other, than a great mark of your kindness to me, that you spend so much of your time, in the perusal of my thoughts, when you have so much better of your own to improve it. To which you add this farther obligation, that you read my book for my instruction, still taking notice to me of what you judge amiss in it. This is a good office that so few in the world perform in the way that you do, that it deserves my particular acknowledgment. And I own myself no less beholden to you, when I differ from you, than when, convinced by your better judgment, you give me opportunity to mend what before was amiss: your intention being that, to which I equally, in both cases, owe my gratitude.
You doubt, whether my answer be full in the case of the drunkard. To try whether it be or no, we must consider what I am there doing. As I remember (for I have not that chapter here by me) I am there showing that punishment is annexed to personality, and personality to consciousness: how then can a drunkard be punished for what he did, whereof he is not conscious? To this I answer, human judicatures justly punish him, because the fact is proved against him; but want of consciousness cannot be proved for him. This you think not sufficient, but would have me add the common reason, that drunkenness being a crime, one crime cannot be alleged in excuse for another. This reason, how good soever, cannot, I think, be used by me, as not reaching my case; for what has this to do with consciousness? Nay, it is an argument against me, for if a man may be punished for any crime which he committed when drunk, whereof he is allowed not to be conscious, it overturns my hypothesis. Your case of shooting a man by chance, when stealing a deer, being made capital, and the like, I allow to be just; but then, pray consider, it concerns not my argument; there being no doubt of consciousness in that case, but only shows, that any criminal action infects the consequences of it. But drunkenness has something peculiar in it, when it destroys consciousness; and so the instances you bring, justify not the punishing of a drunken fact, that was totally and irrecoverably forgotten; which the reason that I give being sufficient to do, it well enough removed the objection, without entering into the true foundation of the thing, and showing how far it was reasonable for human justice to punish a crime of a drunkard, which he could be supposed not conscious of, which would have uselessly engaged me in a very large discourse, and an impertinent digression. For I ask you, if a man, by intemperate drinking, should get a fever, and in the frenzy of his disease (which lasted not, perhaps, above an hour) committed some crime, would you punish him for it? If you would not think this just, how can you think it just to punish him for any fact committed in a drunken frenzy, without a fever? Both had the same criminal cause, drunkenness, and both committed without consciousness. I shall not enlarge any farther into other particular instances, that might raise difficulties about the punishing, or not punishing, the crime of an unconscious, drunken man; which would not easily be resolved, without inquiring into the reason upon which human justice ought to proceed in such cases, which was beyond my present business to do. Thus, sir, I have laid before you the reasons, why I have let that passage go, without any addition made to it. I desire you to lay by your friendship to me, and only to make use of your judgment in considering them. And if you are still of opinion, that I need give the reason too, that one crime cannot be alleged in excuse of another, I beg the favour of you to let me know it as soon as you can, that I may add what is necessary in this place, amongst the errata, before my book comes out, which advances now apace, and I believe there are by this time near 150 pages of it printed. And now, sir, though I have not agreed with your opinion in this point; yet I beseech you, believe I am as much obliged to your kindness in it as if you had shown me what, upon your reason, had appeared to me the grossest mistake; and I beg the favour of you, whenever you cast your eye upon any of my writings, to continue and communicate to me your remarks.
You write to me, as if ink had the same spell upon me, that mortar, as the Italians say, has upon others, that when I had once got my fingers into it, I could never afterwards keep them out. I grant, that methinks I see subjects enough, which way ever I cast my eyes, that deserve to be otherwise handled, than I imagine they have been; but they require abler heads, and stronger bodies than I have, to manage them. Besides, when I reflect on what I have done, I wonder at my own bold folly, that has so far exposed me, in this nice and critical, as well as quick-sighted and learned age. I say not this to excuse a lazy idleness, to which I intend to give up the rest of my few days. I think every one, according to what way Providence has placed him in, is bound to labour for the public good, as far as he is able, or else he has no right to eat. Under this obligation of doing something, I cannot have a stronger to determine me what I shall do, than what your desires shall engage me in. I know not whether the attempt will exceed my strength. But there being several here, who join with you to press me to it; (I received a letter with the same instance, from two of my friends at London, the last post;) I think, the first leisure I can get to myself, I shall apply my thoughts to it; and however I may miss my aim, will justify myself in my obedience to you, and some others of my ingenious friends.
I am exceedingly obliged to capt. Monk, for his kind remembrance, and to you for sending it me, and letting me know he is alive. I have, as I ought, all the esteem for him, that you know so modest and good a man deserves. Pray, when you see him, present my humble service to him, and let him know that I am extremely glad to hear that he is well, and that he has not forgot me, and should be much more so, to see him here again in England. Pray, give my humble service to your brother. I am,
Your most humble, and most faithful servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Feb. 17, 1693-4.
I AM so very sensible of the great caution, and deep consideration you use, before you write any thing, that I wonder at my own hardiness, when I venture to object any thing against your positions. And when I read your answers to any such of my objections, I much more admire at my own weakness in making them. I have a new instance of this in your last of January 18th, which came not to this place before yesterday. This has most abundantly satisfied me, in the doubt I lay under, concerning the case of a drunken man; which you have cleared up to me, in three words, most convincingly. So that I think you have no reason in the least to alter that paragraph, unless you may think it convenient to express that matter a little plainer. Which, I think, indeed, your last letter to me does better than your twenty-second section of that chapter. That section runs thus:
22. “But is not a man, drunk and sober, the same person? Why else is he punished for the fact he commits, when drunk, though he be never afterwards conscious of it? Just as much the same person as a man that walks and does other things in his sleep, is the same person, and is answerable for any mischief he shall do in it. Human laws punish both with a justice suitable to their way of knowledge; because, in these cases, they cannot distinguish certainly what is real, what counterfeit. And so the ignorance in drunkenness, or sleep, is not admitted as a plea,” &c.
Now I conceive that which makes the expression herein not so very clear, is, “suitable to their way of knowledge;” some will be apt to mistake the word, their, to refer to the drunken, or sleeping man, whereas it refers to the laws, as if you had said, “suitable to that way of knowledge, or information, which the laws have established to proceed by.”
This, in your letter, is very manifest in a few words. There you say, “punishment is annexed to personality, personality to consciousness. How then can a drunkard be punished for what he did, whereof he is not conscious? To this I answer, human judicatures justly punish him, because the fact is proved against him, but want of consciousness cannot be proved for him.” This, sir, is most full in the case you are there treating of. So I have nothing more to offer in that matter.
Only give me leave to propose one question more to you, though it be foreign to the business you are upon, in your chapter of identity. How comes it to pass, that want of consciousness cannot be proved for a drunkard as well as for a frantic? One, methinks, is as manifest as the other: and if drunkenness may be counterfeit, so may a frenzy. Wherefore to me it seems, that the law has made a difference in these two cases, on this account, viz. “that drunkenness is commonly incurred voluntarily and premeditately; whereas a frenzy is commonly without our consent, or impossible to be prevented.” But enough of this.
I should not have troubled you with this, but that, according to your usual candour and goodness, you seemed to desire my farther thoughts thereon, as speedily as I could. I am,
Most worthy Sir,
Your most obliged humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, May 26, 1694.
THE slowness of the press has so long retarded my answer to your last obliging letter, that my book, which is now printed and bound, and ready to be sent to you, must be an excuse for my long silence. By the obedience I have paid to you in the index and summaries, ordered according to your desires, you will see it is not want of deference to you, or esteem of you, that has caused this neglect. And the profit I have made by your reflections, on several passages of my book, will, I hope, encourage you to the continuance of that freedom, to a man who can distinguish between the censures of a judicious friend, and the wrangling of a peevish critic. There is nothing more acceptable to me than the one, nor more, I think, to be slighted than the other. If therefore, as you seem to resolve, you shall throw away any more of your time in a perusal of my essay; judge, I beseech you, as severely as you can, of what you read. I know you will not forsake truth to quarrel with me; and whilst you follow her, you will always oblige me by showing me my mistakes, or what seems to you to be so. You will find in this second edition, that your advice, at any time, has not been thrown away upon me. And you will see by the errata, that, though your last came a little too late, yet that could not hinder me from following what you so kindly, and with so much reason, suggested.
I agree with you, that, drunkenness being a voluntary defect, want of consciousness ought not to be presumed in favour of the drunkard. But frenzy being involuntary, and a misfortune, not a fault, has a right to that excuse, which certainly is a just one, where it is truly a frenzy. And all that lies upon human justice is to distinguish carefully between what is real, and what counterfeit in the case.
My book, which I desire you to accept from me, is put into Mr. Churchill the bookseller’s hand, who has told me he will send it in a bale of books, the next week, to Mr. Dobson, a bookseller in Castle-street, Dublin; and I have ordered him to send with it a copy of the additions and alterations which are printed by themselves, and will help to make your former book useful to any young man, as you will see (is designed) by the conclusion of the epistle to the reader. I am,
Your most affectionate, and most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, June 2, 1694.
I AM highly obliged to you for the favour of your last, of May 26, which I received yesterday. It brought me the welcome news of the second edition of your essay being published; and that you have favoured me with a copy, which I shall expect with some impatience; and when I have perused it, I shall, with all freedom, give you my thoughts of it.
And now that you have cleared your hands of your second edition, I hope you may have leisure to turn your thoughts to the subject I have so often proposed to you: but this, you will say, is a cruelty in me, that no sooner you are rid of one trouble, but I set you on another. Truly, sir, were I sensible it could be a trouble to you, I should hardly presume so far on your goodness; but I know those things are so easy and natural to your mind, that they give you no pain in the production. And I know also, such is your universal love of mankind, that you count nothing troublesome that tends to their good, in a matter of so great concernment as morality.
I have formerly told you what care I proposed to take in the education of my only child. I must now beg your pardon, if I trouble you in a matter wherein I shall be at a loss without your assistance. He is now five years old, of a most towardly and promising disposition; bred exactly, as far as his age permits, to the rules you prescribe, I mean as to forming his mind, and mastering his passions. He reads very well, and I think it time now to put him forward to some other learning. In order to this, I shall want a tutor for him, and indeed this place can hardly afford me one to my mind. If, therefore, you know any ingenious man that may be proper for my purpose, you would highly oblige me, by procuring him for me. I confess the encouragement I can propose to such an one is but moderate, yet, perhaps, there may be some found that may not despise it. He should eat at my own table, and have his lodging, washing, firing, and candlelight, in my house, in a good handsome apartment; and besides this, I should allow him 20l. per annum. His work for this should be only to instruct three or four boys in Latin, and such other learning as you recommend in your book; I say three or four boys, because, perhaps, I may have a relation’s child or two; one, who is my sister’s son, I have always, and do intend to keep, as a companion to my own son; and of more I am uncertain. But if there be one or two, that will be no great addition to his trouble, considering that perhaps their parents may recompense that by their gratuities. I mention to you, of the languages, only Latin, but, if I could obtain it, I should be glad he were also master of the French. As to his other qualifications, I shall only say, in general, I could wish them such as you would desire in a tutor to instruct a young gentleman, as you propose in your book. I would have him indeed a good man, and a good scholar; and I propose very much satisfaction to myself, in the conversation of such an one. And because a man may be cautious of leaving his native soil, and coming into a strange country, without some certainty of being acceptable to those that send for him, and of some continuance and settlement, I can say that I design him to stay with my son to his state of manhood; whether he go into the university, or travel, or whatever other state of life he may take to. And if perhaps on trial for some time, he or I may not like each other, I do promise to bear his charges both to and from me, so that he shall be no loser by his journey.
I beg your answer to this at your leisure; and if any such present, be pleased to let me know of him what particulars you can, as his parentage, education, qualifications, disposition, &c. with what other particulars you please to mention; and accordingly I shall write to you farther about it.
In the mean time, I beseech you to pardon this trouble given you by,
Your most affectionate, and most obliged
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, June 28, 1694.
SINCE the receipt of yours of the second instant, I have made what inquiry I can for a tutor for your son; the most likely, and the best recommended that I have met with, you will have an account of from himself in the inclosed, to which I need add little but these two things; 1st, that Mr. Fletcher, who is a good judge, and a person whose word I can rely on, gave me a very good character of him, both as to his manners and abilities, and said he would be answerable for him: the other is, that, however it comes to pass, the Scotch have now here a far greater reputation for this sort of employment than our own countrymen. I am sorry it is so, but I have of late found it in several instances.
I hope, by this time, the second edition of my book, which I ordered for you, and a printed copy of the additions, are come to your hands. I wish it were more answerable to the value you place in it, and better worth your acceptation. But, as I order the matter, methinks I make it a hard bargain to you, to pay so much time and pains as must go to the reading it over, though it were more slightly than we seem agreed, when you promise, and I expect, your observations on it. There appears to me so little material, in the objections that I have seen in print against me, that I have passed them all by but one gentleman’s, whose book not coming to my hand till those parts of mine were printed that he questions, I was fain to put my answer in the latter end of the epistle.
I wish the endeavours I have used to procure you a tutor for your son may be as successful as I desire. It is a business of great concernment to both you and your son; but governors, that have right thoughts concerning education, are hard to be found. It is happy for your son that a good part of it is to be under your eye. I shall be very glad, if on this, or any other occasion, I may be able to do you any service; for with great sincerity and respect, I am,
Your most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, July 28, 1694.
My most honoured Friend,
FOR so you have publicly allowed me to call you; and it is a title wherein I boast more than in maces or parliament-robes. By this you may find I have received the second edition of your essay, which I prize as an inestimable treasure of knowledge. It is but a week since it came to me; and I have yet only looked over those parts which are newly added, particularly that of liberty, the alterations wherein I take to be most judiciously made; and now I think that whole chapter stands so well put together, and the argumentation so legitimate, that nothing can shake it. I was mightily pleased to find therein a rational account of what I have often wondered at, viz. “why men should content themselves to stay in this life for ever, though at the same time they will grant, that in the next life they expect to be infinitely happy?” Of this you give so clear an account in the 44th section of your xxi. chapter, book II, that my wonder no longer remains. That candid recession from your former hypothesis, which you show in this chapter, where truth required it, raises in me a greater opinion (if possible) of your worth than ever. This is rarely to be found amongst men, and they seem to have something angelical, that are so far raised above the common pitch.
In time, I shall give you my farther thoughts of the other parts of your book, where any thing occurs to me. But, at present, I can only pour out my thanks to you for the favourable character under which you have transmitted me to posterity, p. 67. My only concern is, that I can pretend to none of it, but that of your friend; and this I set up for in the highest degree. I should think myself happy had I but half the title to the rest.
I am extremely obliged to you for the trouble you took on you in my last request, about a tutor for my son. I received your letter with Mr. Gibbs’s enclosed; to which I returned an answer, addressed to himself. The import whereof was, “That I had some offers made to me in this place, relating to that matter, to which I thought I should hearken, at least, so far as to make some trial. That I was loth to divert him from his good intentions to the ministry, and therefore I could not encourage him to undertake so long a journey, on such uncertainties on both sides, &c.” I am,
My most highly esteemed friend,
Your most affectionate humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, Sept. 3, 1694.
I HAVE so much the advantage in the bargain, if friendship may be called one, that whatsoever satisfaction you find in yourself, on that account, you must allow in me with a large overplus. The only riches I have valued, or laboured to acquire, has been the friendship of ingenious and worthy men, and therefore you cannot blame me, if I so forwardly laid hold of the first occasion that opened me a way to yours. That I have so well succeeded in it I count one of my greatest happinesses, and a sufficient reward for writing my book, had I no other benefit by it. The opinion you have of it gives me farther hopes, for it is no small reward to one who loves truth, to be persuaded that he has made some discoveries of it, and any ways helped to propagate it to others. I depend so much upon your judgment and candour, that I think myself secure in you from peevish criticism or flattery; only give me leave to suspect, that kindness and friendship do sometimes carry your expressions a little too far on the favourable side. This, however, makes me not apprehend you will silently pass by any thing you are not thoroughly satisfied of in it. The use I have made of the advertisements I have received from you of this kind, will satisfy you that I desire this office of friendship from you, not out of compliment, but for the use of truth, and that your animadversions will not be lost upon me. Any faults you shall meet with in reasoning, in perspicuity, in expression, or of the press, I desire you to take notice of, and send me word of. Especially if you have any-where any doubt; for I am persuaded that, upon debate, you and I cannot be of two opinions; nor, I think, any two men used to think with freedom, who really prefer truth to opiniatrety, and a little foolish vain-glory, of not having made a mistake.
I shall not need to justify what I have said of you in my book: the learned world will be vouchers for me; and that in an age not very free from envy and censure. But you are very kind to me, since for my sake you allow yourself to own that part which I am more particularly concerned in, and permit me to call you my friend, whilst your modesty checks at the other part of your character. But, assure yourself, I am as well persuaded of the truth of it, as of any thing else in my book; it had not else been put down in it. It only wants a great deal more I had to say, had that been a place to draw your picture at large. Herein I pretend not to any peculiar obligation above others that know you. For though perhaps I may love you better than many others; yet, I conclude, I cannot think better of you than others do.
I am very glad you were provided of a tutor nearer home, and it had this particular good luck in it, that otherwise you had been disappointed, if you had depended on Mr. Gibbs; as a letter I wrote to you from London about it, I hope, acquainted you. I am,
Your most affectionate, and most humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, Nov. 23, 1694.
YOU speak of my book in such terms, that had I not convincing arguments that you are not a man of compliments, I should a little suspect your civility bordered very much on them in this case. But there are so few of them to be found, that you think you cannot speak too highly of the endeavours of one who pursues truth unbiassedly, and chooses not his opinions first, and then seeks arguments to support them. Upon that account I admit of whatever you please to say; but withal give me leave to assure you, that in the performance itself, I see nothing but what any one might have done, who would have sat down to it with the same love of truth and indifferency that I did. However, I cannot but be pleased that you think so well of it; for whether your friendship to me bribes your judgment, or whether your good opinion of my essay adds to your kind thoughts of the author; I find my account both ways, and should think myself well rewarded for my pains in this single purchase. But, sir, will you not pardon so lawful a desire, in one that loves you, if I ask, shall I never have the happiness to see you in England?
Mr. Churchill, my bookseller, sends me word by the last post, that he has sent you the six copies that you sent for, and advice of it. I sent to him a project of a new reduction of the year by Dr. Wood, to be sent with the copy of my essay to you. The author gave it me himself, and I thought it might possibly please you, if you had not seen it before. This, with the supernumerary cuts I ordered him to send you, will, with the books, I hope, come safe to your hands. The mentioning of those cuts puts me in mind again of your civility, which I see studies all manner of ways of expressing itself.
You see, by this liberty I take with you, that I am past terms of compliment with you, that is, I use you as one I look upon to be my friend, with a freedom of good offices, either to receive or do them, as it happens. Look upon me as such, I beseech you, and believe that I am, with the utmost sincerity,
Your most affectionate friend,
and most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Dec. 18, 1694.
YOURS, of November 23, found me labouring under a sharp fever which has held me this month past; but I am now, God be thanked, pretty well recovered. I am obliged to you for the earnest desire you express of seeing me in England. But as to that particular, the truth is thus: last summer I designed to make a journey, on purpose to pay my respects to you, and for no other errand; but my resolutions were not so fixed as to give you any intimations thereof. For indeed the state of my health was so very uncertain, that I was very mistrustful whether I should be able to undertake the journey. However, I thought to make an essay of my strength in our own country; so that some business calling me about threescore miles from this city, the fatigue was so troublesome to me, that I was quite discouraged from thinking of England that season. I have now had another pull-back by my present sickness, so that I cannot yet well tell how to think of the other side of the water. This only I will assure you, that the first entire health God is pleased to bestow on me shall be employed in a journey towards you; there being nothing I so earnestly covet as the personal acquaintance of one for whom I have so great a respect and veneration, to whom I am so highly obliged for many favours.
There is a very worthy person, Dr. St. George Ashe, provost of the college here, lately gone from hence to London; he is a great admirer, and zealous promoter, of your writings in his college. He desired from me a letter of recommendation to you; but I fear your being in the country will hinder his designed happiness in your conversation. He stays in London these three or four months to come, in which time, if your business call you to the city, you will hear of him either at your lodgings at Mr. Pawlin’s, (where perhaps he will leave the place of his residence,) or at Mr. Tucker’s, in the secretary’s office at Whitehall, where a penny-post letter will find him out.
I thank you for the care you have taken to send me the books and sculptures, which I hope to receive in good time, having advice thereof already from Mr. Churchill. I am,
Your most affectionate, humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, January 15, 1694-5.
I HAVE received the six copies of your book, and thank you for the care you have taken about them. I acknowledge myself likewise obliged to you for your present of Dr. Wood’s almanack, though it was not new to me, having received the favour of one from the author himself, when accomptant-general here in Ireland, many years ago. It is a very pretty project, but, I believe, it will hardly ever be practised; because men think what they have already sufficiently accurate for the common uses of life, and are hardly brought from what they have used, so long as they have done the common Julian account, unless prevailed upon by some such potent authority as the church, which abrogated the Julian, and established the Gregorian kalendar.
The sculptures also I received, and thank you for them. I shall do them all the honour that outward ornament can give them. And I heartily wish I had more effectual ways of showing my respects, which I think I can never do sufficiently.
I have ever thought that an elegant translation of your Essay into Latin would be highly acceptable to foreigners, and of great use in those countries, whose minds lie yet captivated in verbose, disputative philosophy, and false reasoning; I therefore presume to mention it to you, that though your own leisure may not permit you to perform it yourself, you may think of putting some one on it, that under your eye may do it correctly. And were I not persuaded that your own eye and correction were absolutely requisite herein, I would venture to make a bold proposal to have it done by some one in this place, whom I should reward for his labour herein. And this I do, not that I think you may not with a great deal of ease employ one yourself in this matter, but merely that herein I may have an opportunity of doing so much good in the world. You see, sir, what a veneration I have for your writings, and therefore you will pardon me, if I desire from you, “sub amicitiæ tesserâ,” the names of what books you have published. I remember, once I proposed to you the like request, and you were silent to it. If it were that you designedly conceal them, I acquiesce; but perhaps it proceeded from your cursory passing over that part of my letter, which makes me venture again on the same request. And now that your thoughts are at liberty from that essay, you will give me leave, with all submission, to mind you of what you once told me you would think of, viz. of demonstrating morals. I am sure, as no hand could perform it better; so no age ever required it more than ours.
I do heartily wish you an happy succeeding year; and may it end with us happier than the last past. I am,
Your most obliged, humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, 8 Mar. 1694-5.
YOU will, I fear, think me frozen up with this long winter, or else with a negligence colder than that, having two very obliging letters of yours by me, the one ever since January, the other February last, I make you no answer to either, till thus far in March. The truth is, expecting ever since I received your last letter an account from London, concerning something I had a mind to put into my letter, and after writing four times about it, being yet delayed, I can forbear no longer to return you my thanks, and to beg your pardon that I have been so slow in it. If you interpret it right, you will look upon it as the effect of a friendship got past formalities, and that has confidence enough to make bold with you, where it is without neglect of you, or prejudice to either. I was not a little rejoiced with the news you sent me in the first of your letters, of your safe recovery of a fever. Had I known it before the danger was over, that you had been ill, it would have been no small fright and pain to me. For I must assure you that, amongst all the friends your kindness or worth has procured you, there is not any one who values you more than I do, or does more interest himself in all your concerns. This makes me, that though I have a long time extremely desired to see you, and propose to myself an infinite satisfaction in a free conversation with you; yet what you tell me, that you were coming last summer into England, to make me a visit, makes me dread the satisfaction of my own wishes. And methinks I ought not to purchase one of the greatest happinesses I can propose to myself at so dear and dangerous a rate. I have received many and great obligations from you before; but they were such as, though I had no title to, I thought I might accept from one whom I love, and therefore was glad to find kind to me. But when I reflect on the length of the way, and the sea between us, the danger of the one, and the fatigue of both, and your no very robust constitution, as I imagine, I cannot consent you should venture so much for my sake. If any harm should happen to you in the journey, I could never forgive it myself, to be the occasion of so great a loss to the world and myself And if you should come safe, the greatness of the hazard, and an obligation out of all proportion to what I either ought to receive, or was capable to return, would overwhelm me with shame, and hinder my enjoyment. And yet, if I may confess my secret thoughts, there is not any thing which I would not give, that some other unavoidable occasion would draw you into England. A rational free-minded man, tied to nothing but truth, is so rare a thing, that I almost worship such a friend; but when friendship is joined to it, and these are brought into a free conversation, where they meet, and can be together; what is there can have equal charms? I cannot but exceedingly wish for that happy day, when I may see a man I have so often longed to have in my embraces. But yet, though it would endear the gift to receive it from his kindness, I cannot but wish rather that fortune alone would throw him into my arms.
This cold winter has kept me so close a prisoner within doors, that, ’till yesterday, I have been abroad but once these three months, and that only a mile in a coach. And the inability I am in to breathe London air in cold weather has hindered me yet from the happiness of waiting on Dr. Ashe; but I hope to get to London before he leaves it, that I may, to a person whom you have an esteem for, pay some part of the respects I owe you. I had last week the honour of a visit from an ingenious gentleman, a member of your college at Dublin, lately returned from Turkey. He told me he was a kinsman of yours; and though his other good qualities might have made him welcome any-where, he was not, you may be sure, the less welcome to me, for being known and related to you. He seems to me to have been very diligent and curious in making observations whilst he has been abroad, and more inquisitive than most of our people that go into those parts. And, by the discourse I had with him the little time we were together, I promise myself we shall have a more exact account of those parts, in what I hope he intends to publish, than hitherto is extant. Dr. Huntington, who was formerly at Aleppo, and is my old acquaintance, and now my neighbour in this country, brought Mr. Smith hither with him from his house. But yet I must acknowledge the favour to you, and desire you to thank him for it when he returns to Dublin. For the friendship he knew you had for me, was, I take it, the great inducement that made him give himself the trouble of coming six or seven miles in a dirty country.
You do so attack me on every side with your kindness to my book, to me, to my shadow, that I cannot but be ashamed I am not in a capacity to make you any other acknowledgment, but in a very full and deep sense of it. I return you my thanks for the corrections you have sent me, which I will take all the care of I can in the next edition, which, my bookseller tells me, he thinks will be this summer. And if any other fall under your observation, I shall desire the continuance of your favour in communicating them.
I must own to you that I have been solicited from beyond sea to put my essay into Latin; but you guess right, I have not the leisure to do it. It was once translated by a young man in Holland into Latin; but he was so little master of the English or Latin tongue, that when it was showed me, which he did not till he had quite done it, I satisfied him that it would be very little for his credit to publish it; and so that was laid by. Since that, my bookseller was, and had been for some time seeking for a translator, whom he would have treated with to have undertaken it, and have satisfied for his pains. But a little before the coming of your letter, he writ me word he had been disappointed, where he expected to have found one who would have done it, and was now at a loss. So that what you call a bold, is not only the kindest, but the most seasonable proposal you could have made. You understand my thoughts as well as I do myself, and can be a fit judge, whether the translator has expressed them well in Latin or no; and can direct him, where to omit or contract any thing where you think I have been more large than needed. And though in this I know you intend, as you say, some good to the world; yet I cannot but take it as a very particular obligation to myself, and shall not be a little satisfied to have my book go abroad into the world with strokes of your judicious hand to it. For, as to omitting, adding, altering, transposing any thing in it, I permit it wholly to your judgment. And if there be any thing in it defective, or which you think may be added with advantage to the design of the whole work, if you will let me know, I shall endeavour to supply that defect the best I can. The chapter “of Identity and Diversity” which owes its birth wholly to your putting me upon it, will be an encouragement to you to lay any the like commands upon me. I have had some thoughts myself, that it would not be possibly amiss to add, in lib. iv. cap. 18, something about enthusiasm, or to make a chapter of it by itself. If you are of the same mind, and that it will not be foreign to the business of my essay, I promise you, before the translator you shall employ shall be got so far, I will send you my thoughts on that subject, so that it may be put into the Latin edition. I have also examined P. Malebranche’s opinion concerning “seeing all things in God;” and to my own satisfaction laid open the vanity, inconsistency, and unintelligibleness of that way of explaining human understanding. I have gone almost, but not quite through it, and know not whether I now ever shall finish it, being fully satisfied myself about it. You cannot think how often I regret the distance that is between us; I envy Dublin for what I every day want in London. Were you in my neighbourhood, you would every day be troubled with the proposal of some of my thoughts to you. I find mine generally so much out of the way of the books I meet with, or men led by books, that were I not conscious to myself that I impartially seek truth, I should be discouraged from letting my thoughts loose, which commonly lead me out of the beaten track. However, I want somebody near me, to whom I could freely communicate them, and without reserve lay them open. I should find security and ease in such a friend as you, were you within distance. For your judgment would confirm and set me at rest, where it approved; and your candour would excuse what your judgment corrected, and set me right in. As to your request you now repeat to me, I desire you to believe that there is nothing in your letters which I pass over slightly, or without taking notice of; and if I formerly said nothing to it, think it to be, that I thought it the best way of answering a friend, whom I was resolved to deny nothing that was in my power. There are some particular obligations that tie me up in the point, and which have drawn on me some displeasure for a time, from some of my friends, who made me a somewhat like demand. But I expect to find you more reasonable, and give you this assurance, that you shall be the first that shall be satisfied in that point. I am not forgetful of what you so kindly put me upon. I think nobody ought to live only to eat and drink, and count the days he spends idly. The small remainder of a crazy life I shall, as much as my health will permit, apply to the search of truth, and shall not neglect to propose to myself those that may be the most useful. My paper is more than done, and, I suppose, you tired, and yet I can scarce give off. I am,
Your most faithful humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, March 26, 1695.
THE concern you express for my welfare is extremely obliging, and I never prized my health so much as since thereby I am enabled to enjoy your correspondence and friendship. But whatever becomes of me and my carcase, I can heartily wish you had one more easy, healthful and strong. For I know mankind in general is interested in you; whereas I am sure to fall unlamented to all, save a few particular friends.
I understand my kinsman has enjoyed that which I have earnestly longed for. He tells me, by letter, the great obligations he bears you, for the civilities you showed him, and desires me to acknowledge them.
I am very glad to find your essay like to suffer a third impression; it is a good sign, and shows the world not so averse to truth, when fairly laid open. To have truth prevail, the only way is calmly and meekly to publish it, and let it shift for itself; “magna res est veritas & prævalebit.” It will make its own party good without fire and faggot, which never promoted, but, I am sure, has often stifled it.
This encourages me, with more vigour, to promote the translation of your work; and to own myself infinitely obliged to you, that you are pleased so readily to comply with the offer I made you in my last. Yesterday I sent for an ingenious young man in the college here to discourse with him about it. The result was, he would make an essay and show it me, and accordingly would proceed or desist. But then, he tells me, that he cannot set himself fully to it till towards the latter end of May; for he designs to stand candidate for a fellowship in the college, which, by the removal of the provost, is to be disposed of about next Trinity-sunday; and, in the mean time, he is to prepare himself for the examination they undergo on that occasion. I shall see his first attempt the next week, and shall give you an account. As to any alterations to be made by me, I should be very cautious of medling therein; I know the whole work has already undergone so exact a judgment, that there is no room left for amendments. However, if any such offer, after your approbation of them, I should venture to insert them.
I must freely confess, that if my notion of enthusiasm agrees with yours, there is no necessity of adding any thing concerning it, more than by the by, and in a single section in chap. 18. lib. iv. I conceive it to be no other than a religious sort of madness, and comprises not in it any mode of thinking, or operation of the mind, different from what you have treated of in your essay. It is true, indeed, the absurdities men embrace on account of religion are most astonishing; and if in a chapter of enthusiasm, you endeavour to give an account of them, it would be very acceptable. So that (on second thoughts) I do very well approve of what you propose therein, being very desirous of having your sentiments on any subject.
Pere Malebranche’s chapter “of seeing all things in God,” was ever to me absolutely unintelligible; and unless you think a polemic discourse in your essay (which you have hitherto avoided therein) may not be of a piece with the rest, I am sure it highly deserves to be exposed, and is very agreeable to the business of your work. I would therefore humbly propose it to you, to consider of doing something therein. Pere Malebranche has many curious notions, and some as erroneous and absurd. It is a good while since I read him; but I am now turning him over a second time; he is mostly platonic, and, in some things, almost enthusiastical. I am,
Honoured dear Sir,
Your most obliged humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, April 26, 1695.
YOU look with the eyes, and speak the language of friendship, when you make my life of much more concern to the world than your own. I take it, as it is, for an effect of your kindness, and so shall not accuse you of compliment; the mistakes and over-valuings of good will being always sincere, even when they exceed what common truth allows. This on my side, I must beg you to believe, that my life would be much more pleasant and useful to me, if you were within my reach, that I might sometimes enjoy your conversation, and upon twenty occasions, lay my thoughts before you, and have the advantage of your judgment. I cannot complain that I have not my share of friends of all ranks, and such, whose interest, assistance, affection, and opinions too, in fit cases, I can rely on. But methinks, for all this, there is one place vacant, that I know nobody that would so well fill as yourself; I want one near me to talk freely with, “de quolibet ente;” to propose to the extravagancies that rise in my mind; one with whom I would debate several doubts and questions, to see what was in them. Meditating by one’s self, is like digging in the mine; it often, perhaps, brings up maiden earth, which never came near the light before; but whether it contains any metal in it, is never so well tried as in conversation with a knowing judicious friend who carries about with him the true touchstone, which is love of truth in a clear-thinking head. Men of parts and judgment the world usually gets hold of, and by a great mistake (that their abilities of mind are lost, if not employed in the pursuit of wealth or power) engages them in the ways of fortune and interest, which usually leave but little freedom or leisure of thought for pure disinterested truth. And such who give themselves up frankly, and in earnest to the full latitude of real knowledge, are not every-where to be met with. Wonder not, therefore, that I wish so much for you in my neighbourhood; I should be too happy in a friend of your make, were you within my reach. But yet I cannot but wish that some business would once bring you within distance; and it is a pain to me to think of leaving the world without the happiness of seeing you.
I do not wonder that a kinsman of yours should magnify civilities that scarce deserve the name; I know not wherein they consisted, but in being glad to see one that was any way related to you, and was himself a very ingenious man; either of those was a title to more than I did, or could show him. I am sorry I have not yet had an opportunity to wait on him in London, and I fear he should be gone before I an able to get thither. This long winter, and cold spring, has hung very heavy upon my lungs, and they are not yet in a case to be ventured in London air, which must be my excuse for not waiting upon him and Dr. Ashe yet.
The third edition of my essay has already, or will be speedily, in the press. But what perhaps, will seem stranger, and possibly please you better, an abridgment is now making (if it be not already done) by one of the university of Oxford, for the use of young scholars, in the place of the ordinary system of logic. From the acquaintance I had of the temper of that place, I did not expect to have it get much footing there. But so it is, I some time since received a very civil letter from one, wholly a stranger to me there, concerning such a design; and, by another from him since, I conclude it near done. He seems to be an ingenious man, and he writes sensibly about it, but I can say nothing of it till I see it; and he, of his own accord, has offered that it shall wholly be submitted to my opinion, and disposal of it. And thus, sir, possibly that which you once proposed may be attained to, and I was pleased with the gentleman’s design for your sake.
You are a strange man, you oblige me very much by the care you take to have it well translated, and you thank me for complying with your offer. In my last, as I remember, I told you the reason why it was so long before I writ, was an expectation of an answer from London, concerning something I had to communicate to you: it was in short this; I was willing to know what my bookseller would give for a good Latin copy; he told me, at last, twenty pounds. His delay was, because he would first have known what the translator demanded. But I forced him to make his proposal, and so I send it to you, to make what use of it you please. He since writ me word, that a friend of his at Oxford would, in some time, be at leisure to do it, and would undertake it. I bid him excuse himself to him, for that it was in hands I approved of, and some part of it now actually done. For I hope the essay (he was to show you the next week after you writ to me last) pleased you. Think it not a compliment, that I desire you to make what alterations you think fit. One thing particularly you will oblige me and the world in, and that is, in paring off some of the superfluous repetitions, which I left in for the sake of illiterate men, and the softer sex, not used to abstract notions and reasonings. But much of this reasoning will be out of doors in a Latin translation. I refer all to your judgment, and so am secure it will be done as is best.
What I shall add concerning enthusiasm, I guess, will very much agree with your thoughts, since yours jump so right with mine, about the place where it is to come in, I having designed it for chap. 18. lib. iv. as a false principle of reasoning often made use of. But, to give an historical account of the various ravings men have embraced for religion, would, I fear, be besides my purpose, and be enough to make an huge volume.
My opinion of P. Malebranche agrees perfectly with yours. What I have writ concerning “seeing all things in God,” would make a little treatise of itself. But I have not quite gone through it, for fear I should by somebody or other be tempted to print it. For I love not controversies, and have a personal kindness for the author. When I have the happiness to see you, we will consider it together, and you shall dispose of it.
I think I shall make some other additions to be put into your Latin translation, and particularly concerning the “connection of ideas,” which has not, that I know, been hitherto considered, and has, I guess, a greater influence upon our minds, than is usually taken notice of. Thus, you see, I make you the confident of my reveries; you would be troubled with a great many more of them, were you nearer. I am,
Your most affectionate humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, May, 7, 1695.
I AM extremely pleased to understand by yours of April 26, that we are to expect an abridgment of your work from a judicious hand in Oxford; it is what I always thought might be of good use in the universities, where we yet want another sort of language, than what has hitherto prevailed there, to the great hindrance of science.
As to the translation that is going on here, it is undertaken by one Mr. William Mullart, a senior bachelor in the college. He has the repute of an ingenious and learned young man, and I hope he may perform it well. I here enclose a specimen of his performance, concerning which I desire you would give me your thoughts, before he proceed much farther. This only may be hinted, that when he is better acquainted with the work, and your language, and has entered farther into it, it is probable his translation may be better, more easy and natural. He proposes to finish it in half a year, or nine months at farthest; for he cannot wholly disengage himself from some other studies. I perceive your bookseller is resolved to share with me in the good I thought to do the world, by bestowing on it this translation. And since he is so generous as to have it so, I will, by no means, be the translator’s hindrance in partaking of the bookseller’s proffer; and, at the same time, to engage his diligence the more, I will increase the reward considerably, that I may not wholly miss the good design I first proposed to myself. If you encourage the translator to go forward, you may be pleased to transmit to me the additions you design; as that of “enthusiasm,” “connexion of ideas,” and what else you have.
And now, with redoubled force, I send back to you the complaints you make for our distance. I cannot but hope, that Providence has yet in store for me so much happiness on this side the grave; and if it have not, I shall think I have missed the greatest temporal good my mind was ever set on. But I still say, I live in hopes, the accomplishment whereof would be the greatest satisfaction to
Your most cordially affectionate humble servant,
Were it not too nigh approaching to vanity, I could tell you of the extraordinary effects your method of education has had on my little boy.
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, 2 July, 1695.
DID I not assure myself that our friendship were grown beyond suspicion or compliment, I should think I should have need to make excuses to you for my long silence; but I know you will credit me, when I tell you it has been neither forgetfulness nor negligence. The specimen of the translation you sent me, gave me some reason to apprehend, that Mr. Mullart’s style would lay too great a burthen on your kindness, by often needing the correction of your hand, to make it express my sense with that clearness and easiness, which I know you desire. My bookseller therefore having before told me of one who had offered to undertake the translation of my essay, I have been ever since endeavouring to get from him a specimen that I might send it you, and have your opinion which is like to do best; that so if this man had a talent that way, you might be eased of the trouble, which your friendship to me, and zeal to the work, I foresee, is likely to lay upon you. But, having the last post received this account from Mr. Churchill, that the gentleman proposed is in the country, and must have a book sent him down, on purpose, before we can expect to see any thing from him, and this being all to be managed by a third hand, who is not every day to be met with; I have resolved to lose no more time on that thought, but accepting of your kind offer, put that whole matter into your hands, to be ordered as you shall think best, and shall spend no more time in other enquiries, since the gentleman you propose will (as I remember you told me) be about this time at leisure to set himself in earnest to it. There is one thing I would offer, which may be of advantage to him and the work too, and that is, that he would constantly and sedulously read Tully, especially his philosophical works, which will insensibly work him into a good Latin style. I have heard it reported of bishop Sanderson, that being asked how he came to write Latin so well, as appears in the treatises he published in that tongue? he answered, “By ordering his studies so, that he read over all Tully’s works every year.” I leave it to you, whether you will think fit to mention this to Mr. Mullart.
The abridgment of my essay is quite finished. It is done by a very ingenious man of Oxford, a master of arts, very considerable for his learning and virtue, who has a great many pupils. It is done with the same design you had in view, when you mentioned it. He has generally (as far as I could remember) made use of my words; he very civilly sent it me when it was done, and, upon looking it over, I guess you will approve of it, and think it well done. It is in Mr. Churchill’s hands, and will be printed as soon as the third edition of my essay, which is now in the press, is printed off.
I am extremely glad to hear that you have found any good effects of my method on your son. I should be glad to know the particulars; for though I have seen the success of it in a child of the lady, in whose house I am, (whose mother has taught him Latin without knowing it herself when she began,) yet I would be glad to have other instances; because some men, who cannot endure any thing should be mended in the world by a new method, object, I hear, that my way of education is impracticable. But this I can assure you, that the child above mentioned, but nine years old in June last, has learned to read and write very well, is now reading Quintus Curtius with his mother, understands geography and chronology very well, and the Copernican system of our vortex; is able to multiply well, and divide a little; and all this without ever having had one blow for his book. The third edition is now out: I have ordered Mr. Churchill to send you one of them, which I hope he has done before this. I expect your opinion of the additions, which have much increased the bulk of the book. And though I think all that I have said right; yet you are the man I depend on for a fair and free censure, not inclined either to flatter, or quarrel. You know not of what value a knowing man, that is a sincere lover of truth, is, nor how hard to be found; wonder not, therefore, if I place a great part of my happiness in your friendship, and wish every day you were my neighbour; you would then find what use I should make of it. But, not to complain of what cannot be remedied, pray let me have all the advantage I can at this distance. Read the additions and examine them strictly, for I would not willingly mislead the world. Pray let me know whether the doctor, your brother, has any children; when he has, I count I owe him one of my books of education.
With my treatise of education, I believe you will receive another little one concerning interest and coinage. It is one of the fatherless children, which the world lay at my door; but, whoever be the author, I shall be glad to know your opinion of it.
And now I must mightily bemoan the loss of an happiness which you designed me, and I through great misfortune missed. The impressions of the last severe winter on my weak lungs, and the slow return of warm weather this spring, confined me so long to the country, that I concluded Dr. Ashe would be gone before I should get to town, and I should lose the honour of so desired an acquaintance. However as soon as I was got to London, I enquired of Mr. Churchill, who told me Dr. Ashe was lately in town, and he promised me, as I desired him, that he would enquire whether he was still there, and where he lodged. He returned me no answer, and I (through a multitude of business) forgot to inquire again, for some few days. Upon the first thought of it again, I went to the secretary’s office at Whitehall, and not finding Mr. Tucker there, I went to his house, who told me that Dr. Ashe was that very morning gone out of town. The missing of him thus unluckily, when he had been within my reach, very much vexed me; and it looked, as if fortune had a mind sensibly to cross me, in what she knew I was extremely desirous of. I enquired too for Mr. Smith; but he, I heard was gone to Flanders before I came to town. It would have been more than ordinary satisfaction to me, to have conversed and made an acquaintance with so esteemed a friend of your’s as Dr. Ashe. I shall not be at quiet, till some business brings you into England to repair this loss, and brings me a satisfaction to the most earnest of all my desires. My decaying health does not promise me any long stay in this world; you are the only person in it, that I desire to see once, and to converse some time with, before I leave it. I wish your other occasions might draw you into England, and then let me alone to husband our time together; I have laid all that in my head already. But I talk my desires and fancies as if they were in view. I wish you all manner of happiness, and am,
Your most affectionate, and most faithful servant,
Pray present my humble service to Dr. Ashe, and excuse my misfortunate loss to him.
When you consider the length of this, you will find my late silence was not from a sparingness of speech, or backwardness to talk with you; I have more reason now to beg your pardon for my talkativeness than silence.
The additions I intend to make, shall be sent time enough for the translator.
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Aug, 24, 1695.
I DEFERRED my answer all this while to yours of July 2, (which I received some weeks ago) in expectation of the books you have been pleased to order for me; but hitherto they are not arrived, and I would not omit my duty any longer, lest the business of our ensuing parliament should give me a farther hindrance. The university has done me the honour to choose me as one of their representatives; and though I cannot pretend to do them any great service, yet it shall not be for want of constant attendance on their business, which will take up most of my time, till the session is ended.
I am now at a great loss what apology to make you, for the disappointment you are at last like to receive in the translation of your essay. But to a candid and ingenuous man, the best excuse is a plain narrative of the matter of fact.
The gentleman whom I formerly mentioned to you, Mr. Mullart, went into the country about the middle of last June, and returned about a fortnight ago. When he went away, he assured me, he would make a considerable progress in the work, in a month or six weeks time; but he was taken ill for about a fortnight, and, at his return, I found he had scarce done four pages of the book. I found also, (as you rightly surmised,) that his style will hardly answer expectation; but this difficulty I thought might be overcome by time and application. But what to say to his very slow performance I cannot tell, or whether it may answer your, or your bookseller’s designs. But that which most of all discourages me, is, that the young man himself seems not very fond of the undertaking, but has fixed his thoughts on another pursuit. I formerly told you how he designed for a fellowship, had any at that time happened vacant, as there did none. But very lately there are two fellowships become void, and a third like to be so before the time of sitting for them, which is next June, 1696, and he tells me plainly, he must endeavour to get one of them; and that there will be at least five competitors, if not six, who are all his seniors; and therefore, he must use his utmost diligence, application and study in the intermediate time, to fit himself for the examination they undergo; and this, he says, will take up so much of his time, that he knows not whether he shall have any to spare for the translation.
I cannot well tell which way next to turn myself in this affair. I have but one anchor more, and that is not at hand immediately to use. There is a gentleman of my acquaintance, the greatest master of style of any I have known, who, I am confident, would perform this work to your utmost satisfaction; but he is not, at present, in town; and when he comes, (which, I expect, may be about Michaelmas next, as I have it from himself,) I make some doubt, whether his other avocations will permit him to undertake this. He is chancellor of the diocese of Down and Connor, and has also a private work of his own, in Latin, now fitting for the press, which he permits to run through my hands, as he goes on with it. When he comes to town, I will move him in it, if you will give me leave, and you shall know the event.
I am mightily pleased that your essay is abridged, though, for my own reading, I would not part with a syllable of it. However, others may not have so much leisure as to set on a large book, and for such the abridgment may be useful. It is to me no small argument of the curious genius of the English nation, that a work so abstract as yours should now suffer three impressions in so short a time.
I have already so much experience of your method of education, that I long to see your third edition. And since you put me upon it, (to whom I can refuse nothing in my power,) I will give you a short account of my little boy’s progress under it.
He was six years old about the middle of last July. When he was but just turned five, he could read perfectly well; and on the globes could have traced out, and pointed at all the noted parts, countries, and cities of the world, both land and sea. And by five and an half could perform many of the plainest problems on the globe, as the longitude and latitude, the antipodes, the time with them and other countries, &c. and this by way of play and diversion, seldom called to it, never chid or beaten for it. About the same age he could read any number of figures, not exceeding six places, break it as you please by cyphers or zeros. By the time he was six, he could manage a compass, ruler and pencil, very prettily, and perform many little geometrical tricks, and advanced to writing and arithmetic; and has been about three months at Latin, wherein his tutor observes as nigh as he can, the method prescribed by you. He can read a gazette, and, in the large maps of Sanson, show most of the remarkable places as he goes along, and turn to the proper maps. He has been shown some dogs dissected, and can give some little account of the grand traces of anatomy. And as to the formation of his mind, which you rightly observe to be the most valuable part of education; I do not believe that any child had ever his passions more perfectly at command. He is obedient and observant to the nicest particular, and at the same time sprightly, playful, and active.
But I will say no more; this may be tiresome to others, however pleasing to myself.
I have some thoughts of seeing England next spring, or summer; but the time I cannot prefix as yet, till I see how our affairs are like to go on in parliament, and whether we are like to have another session, and when. The other day I chanced to mention your name accidentally to his excellency my lord Capel, who thereupon expressed himself with the utmost respect and esteem for you. I am,
Your most affectionate, humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, 16 Nov. 1695.
THOUGH there be no man in the world that I so much long to see, as you; yet your last letter of the second instant, makes me afraid of your coming. Your kindness and expression in my favour, has painted me so in your fancy that I shall unavoidably fall many degrees in your esteem, when you find me come so much short of what you expected; “Paratus est mihi magnus adversarius, expectatio,” as I remember Tully somewhere says. One thing only I have to satisfy myself, viz. that whatever I may want of those qualities you ascribe to me, I have one that helps mightily to cover defects, and makes one acceptable, without the recommendation of great perfections; I mean friendship, true and sincere. This I can boast of to you, this I can bid you expect, and tell you, you shall not be deceived. Come then, but come with this resolution, that you will be content, that shall make up to you all those fine things which you imagine before hand, in a man whom you will readily find a plain honest, well-meaning man, who unbiassedly seeks truth, though it be but a very small part of it he has yet discovered.
I am very glad you approve of the additions to the third edition of my education; you are a father, and are concerned not to be deceived, and therefore I expect you will not flatter me in this point. You speak so well of that you have, that I shall take care to have another of those treatises of interest and coinage sent to you. The affair of our money, which is in a lamentable state, is now under debate here: what the issue will be, I know not; I pray for a good one. I find every body almost looks on it as a mystery; to me there appears to be none at all in it. It is but stripping it of the cant which all men that talk of it involve it in, and there is nothing easier: lay by the arbitrary names of pence and shillings, and consider and speak of it as grains and ounces of silver, and it is as easy as telling of twenty.
I had a great deal more to say to you, in answer to this, and two other obliging letters, I am indebted to you for: but I am sent for into the country by an express. I am,
Your most humble, and most affectionate servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, 20 Nov. 1695.
BEFORE I left London, I gave order that the book you desired about interest and money, should be sent you by the first opportunity. But it is to you I send it, and not to any body else; you may give it to whom you please, for it is yours as soon as you receive it; but pray do not give it to any body in my name, or as a present from me. And however you are pleased to make me a compliment, in making me the author of a book you think well of; yet you may be sure I do not own it to be mine, till you see my name to it.
You, I see, are troubled there about your money, as well as we are here; though, I hope, you are not so deep in that disease as we are. A little before his majesty’s return, the lords justices here had this matter under consideration; and amongst others, were pleased to send to me, for my thoughts about it. This is too publicly known here, to make the mentioning of it to you appear as vanity in me. The paper I here inclose, would seem a strange thing, did I not tell you the occasion of my writing it. And since some of my friends here persuade me, it gives some light to that which the statesman you mention, thinks so profound a mystery, I have taken the liberty to send it to you, either to open that matter a little farther to you, or that you may show me the mistakes and defects of it. But pray, whatever use you make of it, conceal my name.
I writ to you from London, just as I was leaving the town in haste, in answer to yours of the second instant. You must impute the faults of that to the hurry and disturbance I was then in. I am not much more at leisure or at quiet now; but shame will not suffer me to be silent any longer, under the obligation of two other letters I have by me of yours, unanswered.
I cannot read yours of the 24th of August last, without finding new marks of your kindness to me, in the concern you therein express to get a good hand for the translating my essay. I think at last you have got a better than I could have expected. I designed to have brought Mr. Churchill and him together, and settled that matter, before I left London; but I was so unexpectedly called thence, that I left that, and several other businesses, undone. But I took order with Mr. Churchill, my bookseller, to go to him; he is a reasonable man, and I doubt not but it will be taken care of, as well as if I were there. I think the abridgment is near, if not quite printed; but I had not the time, or memory, to inquire, after my hasty summons into the country. I was told too, when I was in town, that somebody is printing against it; if it be a fair inquirer, I shall be glad; if a wrangling disputant, I shall not mind him.
Mr. Burridge is the man you speak him to be, in yours of September 19. Had I staid in London, I think I should have been able to have procured him some particulars would have been of use to him, in his design. Some of them I have taken care he should receive, notwithstanding my absence. But perhaps they might have been more, could I have stayed till more of my acquaintance were come to town. I am now in an house of sorrow and business, which hinders me from that freedom I would be in, when I write to you. I am,
Your most affectionate, humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Dec. 24, 1695.
I AM ashamed to say, that I have two of yours before me unanswered.
Yours of Nov. 20 brought me a paper, which, of all things I have ever seen on that subject, I most highly admire. You have therein revealed the whole mystery of money, exchange, trade, &c. which have hitherto been wrapped up in unintelligible cant, I believe, partly out of knavery, partly out of ignorance. You gave me liberty to make what use of it I pleased, and therefore I ventured to give a copy of it to his excellency, my lord deputy Capel, rather than the book of interest and coinage, which I thought might be too long for his present perusal, in his multitude of business. But I can tell you, that your admirable perspicuity of writing is so clearly different from all the world, and almost peculiar to yourself; that in vain you expect to be concealed, in any thing that comes from you. For I assure you, in some discourse I had with his excellency, no longer ago than yesterday, concerning the business of money; he asked me (without any occasion given him from me) whether I had ever seen Mr. Locke’s book of interest, &c.? for he has formerly known (as I think I have told you) that I had the happiness of your acquaintance; I replied to his lordship, that I had seen such a book, but that it did not bear your name in it: he answered me: the printer presented it to him as yours; and besides (says he) all the world knows Mr. Locke’s way of writing; and, if I may guess, I believe the paper you gave me a few days ago, came from Mr. Locke; pray, did it not? I told his excellency I was under some obligation to conceal the author. That’s enough, (says he,) I am sure it is his, and will put his name to it, and lay it up amongst my choicest papers.
I have lately received three small prints from London, concerning the subject of money. They were enclosed in a blank wrapper, and franked to me by sir Walter Yonge, bart. a gentleman whom I never saw, and have no manner of acquaintance with. I wonder how he comes to confer an obligation on me so suitable and agreeable to my present thoughts. If you have any hand in this favour to me, be pleased to accept of my thanks, and to express the same to sir Walter. The titles of those papers are,
“Sir W. Petty’s Quantulumcunque, concerning money.”
“A letter from an English merchant at Amsterdam to his friend at London, concerning the trade and coin of England.”
“Some questions answered, relating to the badness of the now silver coin of England.”
I hear Mr. Lowndes of the Treasury has published something on that subject, and that Mr. Flamstead has answered him, in a tract he calls Five, not Six.
I wish I could see them both, and shall beg the favour of you, if this letter finds you at London, to get them beaten pretty close, and wrapped up in folds, and directed to me, unless they be much too bulky for the post. You need not have them franked, for our letters come to us so, as we are of the parliament here.
I herewith send you enclosed the copy of a letter from an ingenious man, on the problem which you have honoured with a place in page 67, of your essay. You will find thereby, that what I say, of its puzzling some ingenious men, is true: and you will easily discover by what false steps this gentleman is led into his errour. The letter was communicated to me by the party to whom it was writ, Dr. Quayl. And the writer of the letter, Mr. Edw. Synge, is the author of a little book called The Gentleman’s Religion, which is vended as yours. The gentleman is on a second part, which he will show me, before he sends it to the press. But this is only between ourselves and the bookseller, who has been lately informed of thus much already. For though the book shows not that freedom of thought, as you or I, perhaps, may expect; yet it shows enough to incense his own herd against him; for there is little of mystery or enthusiastic in it, and yet the author is a clergyman. And you know that, in a writer on a religious subject, it is an high offence, even to be silent on those abstruse points. The clergy are not dissatisfied only with those that plainly oppose them, but are enraged also, even at those that omit zealously to advance them; as we have had a late instance in him, that writes against the Reasonableness of Christianity.
I should be mighty glad to hear that Mr. Burridge had set upon translating your essay: I believe he will do it well.
I shall be also very much obliged by any information you give me of whatsoever is done, or doing by yourself, or others, relating to your works, of which there is none a more devoted admirer, than the excellent author’s
Most affectionate, humble servant,
Mr. Synge to Dr. Quayl.
Cork, Sept. 6, 1695.
MR. MOLYNEUX’s ingenious question, of which you gave me an account at Mr. Lukey’s yesterday, has run so much in my mind ever since, that I could scarce drive it out of my thoughts. To be revenged on you therefore for putting my brains in such a ferment, I have resolved to be so impertinent, as to send you the result of my meditations upon the subject.
The case is this: a man born perfectly blind has a globe and a cube given into his hands, and instructed, as much as he is capable of, in the notion of each of these figures, and the difference between them. Let us now suppose this man suddenly to be endowed with the sense of seeing, and the question is, “Whether, the globe and the cube being placed before his eyes, he would be able, by his sight alone, and without touching them, to tell which was the globe, and which the cube?”
For the better understanding of what I shall say on this question, I desire you to take notice, that I call every notion of any thing, which a man entertains, an idea; but that notion only, which a man entertains of a visible thing, as it is visible, I call an image.
This being premised, I lay down these propositions.
1. A man born blind may have a true (though perhaps not a perfect) idea of a globe and of a cube, and of some difference, which is between them.
This evidently appears, because he will certainly be able, by his touch, to distinguish them one from the other.
2. A man who has ever been perfectly blind, and whilst he so remains, can have no image in his mind, either of a cube, or a globe.
This, in my opinion, is very evident, because, there is no passage but the organs of sight (of which we suppose him to be deprived) for such an image to enter: and I take it for granted, that such images are not innate in men’s apprehensions.
3. Such a man, as soon as he is endowed with the sense of seeing, will immediately have a different image in his mind, of a globe, and of a cube, as they are exposed to his sight.
This must needs be so, if his sight and the organs thereof be such as ours, which we suppose.
4. And if immediately, upon the sight of the globe and cube, there be grounds enough for such a person clearly to perceive the agreement, and the difference, between his pre-conceived ideas, and newly conceived images of those figures, then may he be able to know which is the globe, and which the cube, without touching them again after he has seen them.
For the agreement which he may find between his idea and his image of a globe, and the difference of the idea of a globe from the image of a cube (“& sic vice versâ”) will be a sufficient direction to him. (If, I say, there be sufficient ground immediately to perceive the said agreement and difference.)
5. The idea which such a blind man must needs, by his touch alone, form of a globe, will be this, that it is a body which is exactly alike on all sides.
For let him roll it, as often as he will, between his hands, and he can find no manner of difference between the one side and the other.
6. Part of the idea which such a man must needs, by his touch, conceive of a cube, will be, that it is a body which is not alike in every part of its superficies.
For in one part he feels a smooth flat, in another the sharp point of an angle, and in a third a long ridge, which reaches from one angle to another.
7. The image, which at the first sight such a man will form of a globe, must needs represent it as a body which is alike on all sides, which consequently must be agreeable to the idea which he before had of it, and different from that idea which he had of a cube.
For turn a globe ten thousand ways, and it still carries the same aspect, if it be all of the same colour, which we now suppose.
8. The image, which upon the first view such a man will frame of a cube, must needs be this, that it is a body, which is not alike in all the parts of its superficies, which consequently must be agreeable to the idea which before he had of it, and different from that idea which he had of a globe.
For a cube does not carry the same aspect, when it is exposed to our sight in different positions.
Since then the image, which such a man would have of a globe, would be agreeable to the idea which before he had conceived of it, and different from that idea which before he had entertained of a cube (“& sic vice versâ”) it follows, that by his sight alone he might be able to know which was the globe, and which the cube.
I have no more, but to wish you a good journey, and tell you, that if you call me impertinent for sending you my thoughts upon such a speculation, I will retort, and tell that it was yourself who put the question to
Your most affectionate friend, and faithful servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, March 14, 1695-6.
AS nothing is more pleasing to me than a letter from you; so my concern is not little, when in so long a time I have wanted that satisfaction; and more especially so, when I have reason to fear it may proceed from your indisposition in health. The last letter I had from Mr. Churchill intimated to me, that you were not well, and I have not yet received any account to the contrary; so that my fears daily increase upon me, and I shall be very uneasy, ’till I receive the glad tidings of your recovery and safety.
Mr. Lowndes’s book about our coin, and yours against him, (which I understand you have sent me, and for which I most heartily thank you,) are not yet arrived; when they come, you shall hear farther from me concerning them.
I have lately received a letter from Mr. Burridge, who is gone down to his cure in the country; he takes all opportunities of thanking you for the civil reception you gave him; and as it was upon my recommendation, I must also thank you for my share in the favour. He tells me he has read over your essay carefully, and has just set upon the translation thereof; but he has not yet sent me any specimen thereof: when he does, you shall receive it forthwith from me. I doubt not but he will perform it to your satisfaction; there is not a man in Ireland, but himself, for whom I dare promise so boldly in this matter. One thing he intimates to me, which I must needs mention to you, as being so agreeable to the apprehensions I have always had of the excellent author of the essay, to whom I have sometimes presumed to propose it, viz. that he would write a book of offices, or moral philosophy. I give you Mr. Burridge’s own words, who goes on, “The fine strokes which he has frequently in his essay, make me think he would perform it admirably, I wish you would try his inclinations; you may assure him, I will cheerfully undertake the translation of it afterwards.”
Thus you see, sir, how you are attacked on all sides; I doubt not but you have as frequent solicitations from your friends in England. I will, at this time, add nothing more to the troublesome importunity. Only on this occasion I will venture to tell you, that I have a design on Mr. Burridge, to get him, by degrees, to translate all the books you have written, and will give leave for. I am,
Your most affectionate, humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux
Oates, March 30, 1696.
THOUGH I have been very ill this winter, not without some apprehensions of my life, yet I am ashamed that either that, or business, that has taken up more of my time than my health could well allow, should keep me so long silent, to a man so kindly concerned to hear from me. It was more than once that I resolved on the next post, but still something or other came between; and I more readily yielded to delays, in hopes to hear something from you, concerning my answer to Mr. Lowndes. If this be a fault in me, it is such an one that I am guilty of to nobody but my friends. Perhaps the running from ceremony, or punctuality, towards those whom I look on as my sure friends, that is, myself, may sometimes carry me a little too far to the other side. But if you disapprove of it, I shall only say, it is an ill effect of a very good cause; and beg you to believe, that I shall never be tardy in writing, speaking or doing, whenever I shall think it may be of any moment to the least interest of yours.
The business of our money has so near brought us to ruin, that, ’till the plot broke out, it was every body’s talk, every body’s uneasiness. And, because I had played the fool to print about it, there was scarce a post wherein somebody or other did not give me fresh trouble about. But now the parliament has reduced guineas to two-and-twenty shillings a-piece after the 10th instant, and prohibited the receipt of clipped money, after the 4th of May next. The bill has passed both houses, and, I believe, will speedily receive the royal assent. Though I can never bethink any pains, or time of mine, in the service of my country, as far as I may be of any use; yet I must own to you, this, and the like subjects, are not those which I now relish, or that do, with most pleasure, employ my thoughts; and therefore shall not be sorry, if I escape a very honourable employment, with a thousand pounds a year salary annexed to it, to which the king was pleased to nominate me some time since. May I have but quiet and leisure, and a competency of health to perfect some thoughts my mind is sometimes upon, I should desire no more for myself in this world, if one thing were added to it, viz. you in my neighbourhood. You cannot imagine, how much I want such a friend within distance, with whom I could confer freely “de quolibet ente,” and have his sense of my reveries, and his judgment to guide me.
I am ashamed to receive so many thanks for having done so little for a man who came recommended to me by you. I had so little opportunity to show the civility I would have done to Mr. Burridge, that I should not know how to excuse it to you, or him, were not he himself a witness of the perpetual hurry I was in, all the time I was then in town. I doubt not at all of his performance in the translation of my book he has undertaken. He has understanding, and Latin, much beyond those who usually meddle with such works. And I am so well satisfied, both of his ability and your care, that the sending me a specimen I shall look on as more than needs. As to a “treatise of morals,” I must own to you that you are not the only persons (you and Mr. Burridge, I mean) who have been for putting me upon it; neither have I wholly laid by the thoughts of it. Nay, I so far incline to comply with your desires, that I, every now and then, lay by some materials for it, as they occasionally occur, in the rovings of my mind. But when I consider, that a book of offices, as you call it, ought not to be slightly done, especially by me, after what I have said of that science in my essay; and that “nonumque prematur in annum,” is a rule more necessary to be observed in a subject of that consequence, than in any thing Horace speaks of; I am in doubt, whether it would be prudent, in one of my age and health, not to mention other disabilities in me, to set about it. Did the world want a rule, I confess there could be no work so necessary, nor so commendable. But the gospel contains so perfect a body of ethics, that reason may be excused from that inquiry, since she may find man’s duty clearer and easier in revelation, than in herself. Think not this the excuse of a lazy man, though it be, perhaps, of one who, having a sufficient rule for his actions, is content therewith, and thinks he may, perhaps, with more profit to himself, employ the little time and strength he has, in other researches, wherein he finds himself more in the dark.
You put too great a value on my writings, by the design you own on Mr. Burridge, in reference to them. I am not to flatter myself, that, because they had the good luck to pass pretty well here, amongst English readers, that therefore they will satisfy the learned world, and be fit to appear in the learned language. Mr. Wynne’s abstract of my essay is now published, and I have sent order to Mr. Churchill to send you one of them. Thus far in answer to yours of the 14th of March. I come now to that of the 24th of December.
My lord deputy and you did too great honour to the paper I sent you, and to me, upon that account. I know too well the deficiency of my style, to think it deserves the commendations you give it. That which makes my writings tolerable, if any thing, is only this, that I never write for any thing but truth, and never publish any thing to others, which I am not fully persuaded of myself, and do not think that I understand. So that I never have need of false colours to set off the weak parts of an hypothesis, or of obscure expressions, or the assistance of artificial jargon, to cover an errour of my system, or party. Where I am ignorant (for what is our knowledge?) I own it. And though I am not proud of my errours; yet I am always ready and glad to be convinced of any of them. I think there wants nothing, but such a preference of truth to party-interest and vain-glory, to make any body out-do me, in what you seem so much to admire.
Though sir Walter Yonge be an intimate friend of mine, yet I can assure you, I know nothing of those three prints he franked you, and so have no title to any part of your thanks.
I see by Mr. S.’s answer to that which was originally your question, how hard it is for even ingenious men to free themselves from the anticipations of sense. The first step towards knowledge is to have clear and distinct ideas; which I have just reason, every day more and more, to think few men ever have, or think themselves to want; which is one great cause of that infinite jargon and nonsense which so pesters the world. You have a good subject to work on; and therefore, pray let this be your chief care, to fill your son’s head with clear and distinct ideas, and teach him on all occasions, both by practice and rule, how to get them, and the necessity of it. This, together with a mind active and set upon the attaining of reputation and truth, is the true principling of a young man. But to give him a reverence for our opinions, because we taught them, is not to make knowing men, but prattling parrots. I beg your pardon for this liberty; it is an expression of good-will, and not the less so, because not within the precise forms of good-breeding. I am,
Your most affectionate, humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, June 6, 1696.
IT is a melancholy thought to me, that since I have had the happiness of your correspondence, there has hardly happened a year, when both you and I have not made it an apology for our long silence, that we have been indisposed in our health; yet it has pleased God, that so it has been, and so it is on my side at present. About four years and a half ago I was first seized by a violent colic, which then so weakened me, that, to this time, I lie so far under the effects thereof, as upon any cold to be very apt to relapse into the same. And so it has been with me, for a while past; but now, God be thanked, I am again well recovered. I had not otherwise so long deferred my answer to yours of March the 30th, which, after a long silence, brought me the assurance of your health, and therewith no small satisfaction; having, before that, entertained some painful thoughts of your indisposition, from some rumours I had heard. But, I find, heaven is not yet so angry with us, as to take you from amongst us.
And now I most heartily congratulate you, both on the recovery of your health, and on the honourable preferment you have lately received from his majesty. In your writings concerning money, you have given such demonstrative proofs of your reach, even in the business of the world, that I should have wondered, had the king overlooked you. And I do as much wonder, that, after what you have published on that subject, there should remain the least doubt with any man, concerning that matter. But, I fancy, it is only those who are prejudiced by their interest, that seem to be dissatisfied; such as bankers, &c. who made a prey of the people’s ignorance in this great affair. But, I think, you have cleared up the mystery, and made it so plain to all men’s capacities, that England will never again fall into the like inconveniencies. ’Till you writ, we used money as the Indians do their wampompeek; it served us well enough for buy ng and selling, and we were content and heeded it no farther; but for the intimate nature, affections, and properties thereof, we did no more understand them than the Indians their shells.
I have read over Mr. Wynne’s abridgment of your essay. But I must confess to you, I was never more satisfied with the length of your essay, than since I have seen this abridgment; which, though done justly enough, yet falls so short of that spirit, which every-where shows itself in the original, that nothing can be more different. To one already versed in the essay, the abridgment serves as a good remembrancer: but, I believe, let a man, wholly unacquainted with the former, begin to read the latter, and he will not so well relish it. So that, how desirous soever I might have formerly been, of seeing your essay put into the form of a logic for the schools, I am now fully satisfied I was in an errour; and must freely confess to you, that I wish Mr. Wynne’s abridgment had been yet undone. That strength of thought and expression, that every-where reigns throughout your works, makes me sometimes wish them twice as long.
I find, by some little pieces I have lately met with, that you are the reputed author of the Reasonableness of Christianity; whether it be really so, or not, I will not presume to inquire, because there is no name to the book; this only I will venture to say, on that head, that whoever is the author, or vindicator thereof, he has gotten as weak an adversary in Mr. Edwards to deal with, as a man could wish; so much unmannerly passion, and billingsgate language, I have not seen any man use. In so much, that were Mr. Edwards to defend the best cause in the world, should he do it in that manner, he would spoil it. Were an angel of heaven to justify a truth, with virulence and heat, he would not prevail.
And now, my ever honoured friend, with much reluctance, I am to tell you, that I cannot be so happy this summer as to see you in England. It is needless to trouble you with a long detail of the reasons hereof; but what between my own private affairs, and a little place I have in the public, so it is, and I cannot help it. But as a small repair to myself of this disappointment, I shall beg the favour of you to admit a young gentleman, whom I shall send to you within a while, only to look on you, and afterwards look on a picture of yours, which I hear is at Mr. Churchill’s. The young gentleman’s name is Howard, a modest and ingenious youth, and excellently skilled both in the judicious and practical part of painting: for his advancement wherein, he is now kept at London, and designs soon for Italy. He is the eldest brother to my brother’s wife, of a good fortune and family. If, by his report, I understand that that picture of yours at Mr. Churchill’s be an excellent piece, and like you, he will procure it to be finely copied for me, and I may save you the trouble of sitting; but if it prove otherwise, and be not worth copying, I will then make it my request to you, that, at your leisure, you would spare me so many hours time, as to sit for such a hand as Mr. Howard shall procure to take your picture. This I thought fit to intimate to you before hand, that when he waits on you, you may be forewarned of his business.
I doubt not but, by this time, you have heard of our lord deputy Capel’s death. We are now under a most unsettled government, and our eyes are fixed on England for relief. Some here wish for your noble patron, my lord Pembroke; and go so far as to say, that he will be the man. I am confident we should be happy under one that favoured you; and if there be any thing in this report, you would highly favour me, by letting his lordship know, that here he will find me, amongst several others, that are your admirers; for that I reckon the most advantageous character I can come, recommended under, to his lordship.
Mr. Burridge has been lately so taken up with his ecclesiastic affairs in the country, that (as he writes me word) he has hitherto made but little farther progress in the translation of the essay, but he promises now to set about it earnestly. I wish you would give me your free opinion of what I have already sent you thereof.
I fear your public business will, in some measure, take you off from your more retired thoughts, by which the world were gainers every day. But, good sir, let me intreat you, that, at your leisure hours, you would think on, and send a line to
Your most affectionate, and humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, July 2, 1696.
I CANNOT, without great trouble, hear of any indisposition of yours: your friendship, which heaven has bestowed on me, as one of the greatest blessings I can enjoy, for the remainder of my life, is what I value at so high a rate, that I cannot consider myself within danger of losing a person, every way so dear to me, without very great uneasiness of mind.
Thus far I got, when I sat down to write to you, about a month since, as you will see by the date at the top; business, and a little excursion into the country, has hindered me ever since. Were you a man I only cared to talk with, out of civility, I should sooner answer your letters. But, not contenting myself with such formal correspondence with you, I cannot find in my heart to begin writing to you, ’till I think I shall have time to talk a great deal, and pour out my mind to a man, to whom I make sure I can do it with freedom; his candour and friendship allow that, and I find I know not what pleasure in doing it. I promised myself abundance of pleasure this summer, in seeing you here, and the disappointment is one of the most sensible I could have met with, in my private concerns; and the occasion, that robbed me of that satisfaction, frights me. I have, I thank God, now as much health, as my constitution will allow me to expect. But yet, if I will think like a reasonable man, the flattery of my summer vigour ought not to make me count beyond the next winter, at any time for the future. The last sat so heavy upon me, that it was with difficulty I got through it; and you will not blame me, if I have a longing to see and embrace a man I esteem and love so much, before I leave this silly earth; which, when the conveniencies of life are moderately provided for, has nothing of value in it equal to the conversation of a knowing, ingenious, and large-minded friend, who sincerely loves and seeks truth.
When I took pen in hand to continue this letter, I had yours of March and June last before me, with a design to answer them. But my pen run on, as you see, before I could get leave of my forward thoughts, to come to what was my chief business, viz. to read again and answer those kind letters of yours.
That of March 28, brought me a sample of Mr. Burridge’s translation: upon my reading of it, I began to correct it after my fashion, and intended to have gone through that, and so all the rest of the sheets, as they came to my hand: but some other more pressing occasion interrupted me, and now I am past all hopes to have any leisure at all to do any thing more to it in that kind, and must wholly leave it to his and your care. When I say your care, I do not make so ill an use of your kindness, as to expect you should look it over and correct it; but I doubt not but you have such an interest in your college, that you can have the assistance of some able man there to do it. The subject itself, and my way of expressing my thoughts upon them, may, I doubt not, but be very different from the genius of the Latin tongue, and therefore I should not think it amiss, if Mr. Burridge would take more liberty to quit the scheme and phrase of my style, and so he takes but my sense, to comply more with the turn and manner of Tully’s philosophical language. For so he has but my sense, I care not how much he neglects my words; and whether he expresses my thoughts, you are as good judge as I, for I think you as much master of them. I say this to excuse you from the trouble of sending his papers over to me, as he dispatches them; for in my present circumstances I shall hardly have time so much as to peruse them. Pray, when you see, or send to him, give him my humble service.
Though your colic has done me no small prejudice, yet I am much more angry with it, upon the account of those inconveniencies it has made you suffer. I know you are in skilful, as well as careful hands, under the care of your brother, and it could not be advisable in any one to draw you from them. The colic is so general a name for pains in the lower belly, that I cannot from thence pretend to make any judgment of your case; but it can be no harm to advise you to ask him, whether he does not think that the drinking of our Bath waters may be useful to you in your case. I know those waters mightily strengthen those parts.
Your congratulation to me I take, as you meant, kindly and seriously, and it may be it is what another would rejoice in: but, if you would give me leave to whisper truth without vanity, in the ear of a friend, it is a preferment which I shall get nothing by, and I know not whether my country will, though that I shall aim at with all my endeavours.
Riches may be instrumental to so many good purposes, that it is, I think, vanity, rather than religion or philosophy, to pretend to contemn them. But yet they may be purchased too dear. My age and health demand a retreat from bustle and business, and the pursuit of some inquiries, I have in my thoughts, makes it more desirable than any of those rewards, which public employments tempt people with. I think the little I have enough, and do not desire to live higher, or die richer than I am. And therefore you have reason rather to pity the folly, than congratulate the fortune, that engages me in the whirlpool.
It is your pre-occupation, in favour of me, that makes you say what you do of Mr. Wynne’s abridgment; I know not, whether it be that, or any thing else, that has occasioned it; but I was told some time since, that my essay began to get some credit in Cambridge, where I think, for some years after it was published, it was scarce so much as looked into. But now I have some reason to think it is a little more favourably received there, by these two questions held there this last commencement; viz. “Probabile est animam non semper cogitare:” and, “Idea Dei non est innata.”
What you say of the Reasonableness of Christianity, gives me occasion to ask your thoughts of that treatise, and also how it passes amongst you there; for here, at its first coming out, it was received with no indifferency, some speaking of it with great commendation, but most censuring it as a very bad book. What you say of Mr. Edwards is so visible, that I find all the world of your mind.
This is now a third sitting before I finish this letter, whereby, I fear, I shall give you an ill picture of myself. By the reading of the next paragraph of your obliging letter of June 6, I am mightily comforted to find that it is not want of health (as it run in my head by a strong impression, I found remained in my mind, from the colic mentioned in the beginning of your letter) but business, that keeps me this year from the happiness of your company. This is much more tolerable to me than the other, and though I suffer by it, yet I can bear it the better, whilst there is room to hope it may be such, that both you and your country may receive advantage by it. Mr. Howard, whom I was resolving yesterday morning to inquire after, prevented me by a visit he made me, wherein he gave me an account he had received a letter from you, since his return from Cambridge. That which you desire of me, as the chief reason of affording me his acquaintance, is what I cannot refuse, and yet it causes in me some confusion to grant. If the original could do you any service, I shall be glad; but to think my picture worth your having, would carry too much vanity with it, to allow my consent, did not the skill of the painter often make amends for the meanness of the subject, and a good pencil frequently make the painted representation of more value than the real substance. This may probably be my case. Mr. Howard is a very pretty young gentleman, and I thank you for his acquaintance. I wish it lay in my power to do him any service, whilst he is here. If the length of my letter could be an excuse for the slowness of its coming, I have certainly made a very ample apology; though I satisfy myself neither in being silent so long, nor in tiring you with talking so much now; but it is from an heart wholly devoted to you. I am,
Your most affectionate humble servant,
Aug. 4, 1696.
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, 12 Sept. 1696.
COULD the painter have made a picture of me, capable of your conversation, I should have sat to him with more delight, than ever I did any thing in my life. The honour you do me, in giving me thus a place in your house, I look upon as the effect of having a place already in your esteem and affection; and that made me more easily submit to what methought looked too much like vanity in me. Painting was designed to represent the gods, or the great men that stood next to them. But friendship, I see, takes no measure of any thing, but by itself: and where it is great and high, will make its object so, and raise it above its level. This is that which has deceived you into my picture, and made you put so great a compliment upon me; and I do not know what you will find to justify yourself to those who shall see it in your possession. You may, indeed, tell them the original is as much yours as the picture; but this will be no great boast, when the man is not more considerable than his shadow. When I looked upon it, after it was done, methought it had not that countenance I ought to accost you with. I know not whether the secret displeasure I felt whilst I was sitting, from the consideration that the going of my picture brought us no nearer together, made me look grave: but this I must own, that it was not without regret, that I remembered that this counterfeit would be before me, with the man, that I so much desired to be with, and could not tell him, how much I longed to put myself into his hands, and to have him in my arms. One thing pray let it mind you of, and when you look on it at any time, pray believe, that the colours of that face on the cloth, are more fading and changeable than those thoughts, which will always represent you to my mind, as the most valuable person in the world, whose face I do not know, and one whose company is so desirable to me, that I shall not be happy till I do.
Though I know how little service I am able to do; yet my conscience will never reproach me, for not wishing well to my country, by which I mean Englishmen, and their interest every-where. There has been, of late years, a manufacture of linen, carried on in Ireland, if I mistake not; I would be glad to learn from you the condition it is in; and if it thrives not, what are the rubs and hindrances that stop it. I suppose you have land very proper to produce flax and hemp, why could there not be enough, especially of the latter, produced there to supply his majesty’s navy? I should be obliged by your thoughts about it, and how it might be brought about. I have heard there is a law requiring a certain quantity of hemp to be sown every year: if it be so, how comes it to be neglected? I know you have the same public aims for the good of your country that I have, and therefore without any apology, I take this liberty with you. I received an account of your health, and your remembrance of me, not long since, by Mr. Howard, for which I return you my thanks. I troubled you with a long letter about the begining of the last month, and am,
Your most affectionate, and most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Sept. 26, 1696.
I HAVE now before me two of yours, one of August the 4th, and t’other of the 12th instant. I had sooner answered the former, but that I waited to give you an account of the farther progress of the translation, which Mr. Burridge faithfully promised me; and I lately understand from him, that he has gone through the three chapters of the first book. I must confess his avocations are many, and therefore his progress is not so quick as I could desire. But I am sure he will accomplish it, and that well too; and Mr. Churchill has told him that you say, “sat cito, si sat bene;” and he is very well pleased, that you give him time.
I do not wonder that your essay is received in the universities. I should indeed have wondered with indignation at the contrary; “magna est veritas & prævalebit.” We may expect a liberty of philosophizing in the schools: but that your doctrine should be soon heard out of our pulpits, is what is much more remarkable. He that, even ten years ago, should have preached, that “idea Dei non est innata,” had certainly drawn on him the character of an atheist; yet now we find Mr. Bentley very large upon it, in his sermons at Mr. Boyle’s lectures, serm. 1. p. 4, and serm. 3. p. 5, and Mr. Whiston, in his new theory of the earth, p. 128.
Mentioning these books minds me to intimate to you, that these ingenious authors agree exactly with you, in a passage you have in your thoughts of education, p. 337, 3d edit. § 192. “That the phenomenon of gravitation cannot be accounted for, by mere matter and motion, but seems an immediate law of the divine will so ordering it.” And you conclude that section thus, “reserving to a fitter opportunity, a fuller explication of this hypothesis, and the application of it to all the parts of the deluge, and any difficulties can be supposed in the history of the flood.” This seems to imply, that you have some thoughts of writing on that subject; it would be a mighty satisfaction to me, to know from you the certainty thereof. I should be very glad also to hear what the opinion of the ingenious is concerning Mr. Whiston’s book.
As to the “Reasonableness of Christianity,” I do not find but it is well approved of here, amongst candid unprejudiced men, that dare speak their thoughts. I’ll tell you what a very learned and ingenious prelate said to me on that occasion: I asked him whether he had read that book, and how he liked it; he told me, very well; and that if my friend Mr. Locke writ it, it was the best book he ever laboured at; but, says he, if I should be known to think so, I should have my lawns torn from my shoulders. But he knew my opinion aforehand, and was, therefore, the freer to commit his secret thoughts in that matter to me.
I am very sorry I can give you no better an account of the linen manufactures of late years set up in Ireland than what follows:
About the year 1692 (I think) one Mons. Du Pin came to Dublin from England, and here, by the king and queen’s letter and patents thereon, he set up a royal corporation for carrying on the linen manufacture in Ireland. Into this corporation many of the nobility and gentry were admitted, more for their countenance and favour to the project, than for any great help could be expected either from their purses or heads, to carry on the work. Du Pin himself was nominated under-governor, and a great bustle was made about the business; many meetings were held, and considerable sums advanced to forward the work, and the members promised themselves prodigious gains; and this expectation prevailed so far (by what artifices I cannot tell) as to raise the value of each share to 40 or 50 pounds, though but five pounds was paid by each member at first, for every share he had. At length artificers began to set at work, and some parcels of cloth were made, when on a sudden there happened some controversy between the corporation here in Ireland, and such another corporation established in England by London undertakers, and in which Du Pin was also a chief member. Much time was lost in managing this dispute, and the work began in the mean time to flag, and the price of the shares to lower mightily.
But, some little time before this controversy happened, some private gentlemen and merchants, on their own stock, without the authority of an incorporating patent, set up a linen manufacture at Drogheda, which promised, and thrived very well at first; and the corporation of Dublin, perceiving this, began to quarrel with them also, and would never let them alone till they embodied with them. These quarrels and controversies (the particulars whereof I can give you no account of, for I was not engaged amongst them, and I can get no one that was, who can give any tolerable account of them; I say they) grew so high, and Du Pin began to play such tricks, that all were discouraged, and withdrew as fast as they could. So that now all is blown up, and nothing of this kind is carried on, but by such as out of their own private purses set up looms and bleaching-yards. We have many of these in many parts of Ireland; and I believe no country in the world is better adapted for it, especially the north. I have as good diaper, made by some of my tenants, nigh Armagh, as can come to a table, and all other cloth for household uses.
As to the law for the encouraging the linen manufacture, it is this: In the 17th and 18th of Car. II. there was an act of Parliament made, “obliging all landlords and tenants to sow such a certain proportion of their holdings with flax, under a great penalty on both, on failure; and impowering the sheriffs to levy 20 pounds, in each of their respective counties, to be distributed at the quarter sessions, yearly, to the three persons who should bring in the three best webs of linen cloth, of such a length and breadth, 10l. to the first, 6l. to the second, and 4l. to the third.” This, whilst it lasted, was a great encouragement to the country people, to strive to out-do each other, and it produced excellent cloth all over the kingdom; but then it was but temporary, only for twenty years from passing the act, and is now expired. But that part of the act, “ordaining landlords and tenants to sow flax,” is perpetual; and I can give no reason why it is not executed; only this I can say, that the transgression is so universal, and the forfeiture thereon to the king is so severe, that if it were inquired into, I believe all the estates in Ireland would be forfeited to his majesty. So that now the multitude of sinners is their security. This statute you will find amongst the Irish acts, 17 & 18 Car. II. chap. 9.
England, most certainly, will never let us thrive by the woollen trade; this is their darling mistress, and they are jealous of any rival. But I see not that we interfere with them, in the least, by the linen trade. So that that is yet left open to us to grow rich by, if it were well established and managed; but by what means this should be, truly I dare not venture to give my thoughts. There is no country has better land, or water, for flax and hemp, and I do verily believe the navy may be provided here, with sailing and cordage, cheaper by far than in England. Our land is cheaper, victuals for workmen is cheaper, and labour is cheaper, together with other necessaries for artificers.
I know not in what manner to thank you for the trouble you have been at, in sitting for your picture, on my account. It is a favour of that value, that I acknowledge myself extremely obliged to you for; and therefore I could not think that the expressions concerning it in your last belonged to me, did they come from one less sincere than yourself. “Painting, it is true, was designed to represent the gods and the great men, that stand next them;” and therefore it was, that I desired your picture. This, sir, is the real and sincere thought of
Your most obliged humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Jan. 5, 1696-7.
IT is now three months since I ventured to trouble you with a letter; you may see thereby that I have a regard to the public business you are engaged in; but I have not been all this while without the satisfaction of hearing that you are well; for, as all my friends know, that I have the most respectful concern for you in the world; so they are not wanting, on all opportunities, from t’other side the water, to give me the acceptable tidings of your welfare. I have lately received a letter from Mr. Howard, that obliges me to make his acknowledgments for the favours he has received from you. This I can hardly do, without complaining of him at the same time, for not yet sending me your picture; but I suppose by this time, it is on the road hither, and I forgive him; and with all gratitude imaginable, return you my thanks on his account.
The enclosed piece of natural history I am desired by my brother to present to you, with his most affectionate humble service. If, upon perusing it, you think it may deserve it, you may send it by the penny-post to the Royal Society, to fill up an empty page in the Transactions. There is nothing to recommend it but its being exactly true, and an account of a non-descript animal. Formerly I had a constant correspondence with the secretary of the society, but of late it has failed; and therefore we take the liberty of sending this through your hands.
I have lately met with a book here of Mons. Le Clerc’s, called The Causes of Incredulity, done out of French. It is the same Le Clerc that writes Ontologia, and dedicates it to you. I find thereby you are his acquaintance and friend; I should be very glad you would be pleased to give me some account of that gentleman, and his circumstances in the world, if you know them. To me he seems an impartial and candid inquirer after truth, and to have the true spirit of christianity in that his book. The reason why I inquire after him, is, because I suppose him one of the refugees from France, and perhaps he may receive some encouragement to come into this kingdom. I am,
Your most affectionate servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Feb. 3, 1696-7.
AS I had reason to rejoice on the nation’s account, when you were first put on public business; so I find, on my own particular, I had cause to lament; for since that time (to my great concern) your letters have been less frequent, and the satisfaction I had in them abundantly diminished. Were I assured of the confirmed state of your health, I could more patiently submit to this; but knowing your sickly disposition, a month’s silence puts me in pain for you; and I am very uneasy under the apprehensions of any danger that may attend you. Favour me, therefore, good sir, though it were but a line or two, in the crowd of your business; for that itself would be some contentment to me, in the want of those noble philosophical thoughts which sometimes you were pleased to communicate to me.
And now, sir, I shall beg a favour of you a little out of our common road of correspondence. We have here lately received the certainty of Mr. Methwin’s being declared our lord chancellor; and truly, sir, all moderate and good men, I find, are very well pleased at it. I suppose, by your interest and acquaintance with my lord keeper of England, you have an acquaintance likewise with Mr. Methwin; and I beg the favour of you to mention me to him as your devoted friend and servant. I am sure, if he knows you rightly, I cannot be represented to him under a more advantageous character: and I know this will give me admittance to his graces, which I desire more, as I hear he is a good, than a great man; and, being one of the masters in chancery here, it is natural to covet the favour of him under whom I am to act.
I have lately met with a book of the bishop of Worcester’s concerning the Trinity. He takes occasion therein to reflect on some things in your Essay; but truly, I think, with no great strength of reason. However, he being a man of great name, I humbly propose it to you, whether you may not judge it worth your while to take notice of what he says, and give some answer to it, which will be no difficult task. I do not intend hereby, that an answer, on purpose for that end only, should be framed by you; I think it not of that moment; but perhaps you may find some accidental occasion of taking notice thereof, either in the next edition of your Essay, or some other discourse you may publish hereafter.
I have not yet received the satisfaction of having your likeness before me, and have therefore lately writ a very discontented letter about it to Mr. Howard. A great man here told me, I something resembled you in countenance; could he but assure me of being like you in mind too, it would have been the eternal honour and boast of
Your most devoted humble servant, and
entirely affectionate friend,
I find, by a book I lately light on, of Mr. Norris’s, that Mr. Masham and my son agree in one odd circumstance of life, of having both their mothers blind; for my wife lost her sight above twelve years before she died, and I find lady Masham is in the same condition.
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, 22 Feb. 1696-7.
I FEAR you will be of an opinion, that I take my picture for myself, and think you ought to look no farther, since that is coming to you, or is already with you. Indeed we are shadows much alike, and there is not much difference in our strength and usefulness. Yet I cannot but remember, that I cannot expect my picture should answer your letters to me, pay the acknowledgments I owe you, and excuse a silence as great as if I were nothing but a piece of cloth overlayed with colours. I could lay a great deal of the blame on business, and a great deal on want of health. Between these two I have had little leisure since I writ to you last. But all that will bear no excuse to myself, for being three letters in arrear to a person whom I the willingliest hear from of any man in the world, and with whom I had rather entertain myself, and pass my hours in conversation, than with any one that I know. I should take it amiss if you were not angry with me for not writing to you all this while; for I should suspect you loved me not so well as I love you, if you could patiently bear my silence. I hope it is your civility makes you not chide me. I promise you, I should have grumbled cruelly at you, if you had been half so guilty as I have been. But if you are angry a little, pray be not so very much; for if you should provoke me any way, I know the first sight of a letter from you, would allay all my choler immediately; and the joy of hearing you were well, and that you continued your kindness to me, would fill my mind, and leave me no other passion. For I tell you truly, that since the receipt of your letter in September last, there has scarce a day passed, I am sure not a post, wherein I have not thought of my obligation and debt to you, and resolved to acknowledge it to you, though something or other has still come between to hinder me. For you would have pitied me, to see how much of my time was forced from me this winter in the country, (where my illness confined me within doors,) by crouds of letters, which were therefore indispensably to be answered, because they were from people whom either I knew not, or cared not for, or was not willing to make bold with; and so you, and another friend I have in Holland, have been delayed, and put last, because you are my friends beyond ceremony and formality. And I reserved myself for you when I was at leisure, in the ease of thoughts to enjoy. For, that you may not think you have been passed over by a peculiar neglect, I mention to you another very good friend of mine, of whom I have now by me a letter, of an ancienter date than the first of your three, yet unanswered.
However you are pleased, out of kindness to me, to rejoice in yours of September 26, that my notions have had the good luck to be vented from the pulpit, and particularly by Mr. Bentley; yet that matter goes not so clear as you imagine. For a man of no small name, as you know Dr. S—— is, has been pleased to declare against my doctrine of no innate ideas, from the pulpit in the Temple, and as I have been told, charged it with little less than atheism. Though the doctor be a great man, yet that would not much fright me, because I am told, that he is not always obstinate against opinions which he has condemned more publicly, than in an harangue to a Sunday’s auditory. But that it is possible he may be firm here, because it is also said, he never quits his aversion to any tenet he has once declared against, ’till change of times, bringing change of interest, and fashionable opinions open his eyes and his heart, and then he kindly embraces what before deserved his aversion and censure. My book crept into the world about six or seven years ago, without any opposition, and has since passed amongst some for useful, and, the least favourable, for innocent. But, as it seems to me, it is agreed by some men that it should no longer do so. Something, I know not what, is at last spied out in it, that is like to be troublesome, and therefore it must be an ill book, and be treated accordingly. It is not that I know any thing in particular, but some things that have happened at the same time together, seem to me to suggest this: What it will produce, time will show. But as you say in that kind letter, “Magna est veritas & prævalebit;” that keeps me at perfect ease in this, and whatever I write; for as soon as I shall discover it not to be truth, my hand shall be the forwardest to throw it in the fire.
You desire to know, what the opinion of the ingenious is, concerning Mr. Whiston’s book. I have not heard any one of my acquaintance speak of it, but with great commendation, as I think it deserves. And truly I think he is more to be admired, that he has laid down an hypothesis, whereby he has explained so many wonderful, and, before, inexplicable things in the great changes of this globe, than that some of them should not go easily down with some men, when the whole was entirely new to all. He is one of those sort of writers, that I always fancy should be most esteemed and encouraged. I am always for the builders who bring some addition to our knowledge, or, at least, some new thing to our thoughts. The finders of faults, the confuters and pullers down, do not only erect a barren and useless triumph upon human ignorance, but advance us nothing in the acquisition of truth. Of all the mottos I ever met with, this, writ over a waterwork at Cleve, best pleased me, “Natura omnes fecit judices, paucos artifices.”
I thank you for the account you gave me of your linen manufacture. Private knavery, I perceive, does there as well as here destroy all public good works, and forbid the hope of any advantages by them, where nature plentifully offers what industry would improve, were it but rightly directed, and duly cherished. The corruption of the age gives me so ill a prospect of any success in designs of this kind, ever so well laid, that I am not sorry my ill health gives me so just a reason to desire to be eased of the employment I am in.
Yours of the fifth of January, which brought with it that curious and exact description of that non-descript animal, found me here under the confinement of my ill lungs; but knowing business of several kinds would make it necessary for me to go to London as soon as possible, I thought it better to carry it thither myself, than send it at random to the Royal Society. Accordingly when I went up to town, about a fortnight since, I showed it to Dr. Sloane, and put it in his hands to be communicated to the Royal Society; which he willingly undertook; and I promise myself it will be published in their next Transactions. Dr. Sloane is a very ingenious man, and a very good friend of mine; and, upon my telling him that your correspondence with the secretary of the society had been of late interrupted, he readily told me, that, if you pleased, he would take it up, and be very glad if you would allow him the honour of a constant correspondence with you.
You show your charitable and generous temper, in what you say concerning a friend of mine in Holland, who is truly all that you think of him. He is married there, and has some kind of settlement; but I could be glad if you in Ireland, or I here, (though of the latter say nothing to others,) could get him a prebendary of 100 or 200l. per annum, to bring him over into our church, and to give him ease, and a sure retreat to write in, where, I think, he might be of great use to the Christian world. If you could do this, you would offer him a temptation would settle him amongst us; if you think you cannot, I am nevertheless obliged to you, for offering to one, whom you take to be a friend of mine, what you are able. If he should miss the effect, yet I have still the obligation to you.
When yours of the 3rd instant met me in London, when I was there lately, I was rejoiced at my journey, though I was uneasy in town, because I thought my being there, might give me an opportunity to do you some little service, or at least show you my willingness to do it. To that purpose I went twice or thrice to wait upon Mr. Methwin, though he be a person, in whose company I remember not that I was ever but once in my life. I missed him, by good luck, both times; and my distemper increased so fast upon me, that though I went to London with an intention to make some stay there, yet I was forced away in eight days, and had not an opportunity to see Mr. Methwin at all. You will, perhaps, wonder to hear me call my missing of him, good luck; but so I must always call that which any way favours my design of serving you, as this did. For hereupon I applied myself to a friend of mine, who has an interest in him, and one to whom your worth and friendship to me are not unknown, who readily undertook all I desired on your behalf. And I promise myself, from thence, that you will find Mr. Methwin will be as desirous of your acquaintance, as you are of his.
You will, in a little time, see that I have obeyed, or rather anticipated a command of yours, towards the latter end of your last letter. What sentiments I have of the usage I have received from the person you there mention, I shall shortly more at large acquaint you. What he says, is, as you observe, not of that moment much to need an answer; but the sly design of it I think necessary to oppose; for I cannot allow any one’s great name a right to use me ill. All fair contenders for the opinions they have, I like mightily; but there are so few that have opinions, or at least seem, by their way of defending them, to be really persuaded of the opinions they profess, that I am apt to think there is in the world a great deal more scepticism, or at least want of concern for truth, than is imagined. When I was in town I had the happiness to see Mr. Burridge; he is, he says, speedily returning to you, where I hope his book, which is received with great applause, will procure him something more solid than the name it has got him here; which I look upon as a good forerunner of greater things to come. He spoke something of his intention to set about my book, but that I must leave to you and him. There is lately fallen into my hand a paper of Mons. L——, writ to a gentleman here in England, concerning several things in my Essay. I was told, when I was in London, that he had lately ordered his correspondent to communicate them to me, and something else he has since writ hither. He treats me all along with great civility, and more compliment than I can deserve. And being, as he is, a very great man, it is not for me to say there appears to me no great weight in the exceptions he makes to some passages in my book; but his great name and knowledge in all parts of learning, ought to make me think, that a man of his parts says nothing but what has great weight in it; only I suspect he has, in some places, a little mistaken my sense, which is easy for a stranger, who has (as I think) learned English out of England. The servant I have now cannot copy French, or else you should see what he says: when I have all his papers you shall hear farther from me. I repine, as often as I think of the distance between this and Dublin.
I read that passage of your letter to my lady Masham which concerned her sight; she bid me tell you, that she hopes to see you here this summer. You will, possibly, wonder at the miracle, but that you must find in Mr. Norris’s book. She has, it is true, but weak eyes, which Mr. Norris, for reasons he knew best, was resolved to make blind ones. And having fitted his epistle to that supposition, could not be hindered from publishing it so; though my lady, to prevent it, writ him word that she was not blind, and hoped she never should be. It is a strange power, you see, we authors take to ourselves; but there is nothing more ordinary, than for us to make whomsoever we will blind, and give them out to the world for such, as boldly as Bayard himself. But it is time to spare you and your eyes. I am, with the utmost respect and sincerity,
Your most humble and most affectionate servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, March 16, 1696-7.
I MUST confess, dear sir, I have not lately (if ever in my life) been under a greater concern, than at your long silence. Sometimes I was angry with myself, but I could not tell why; and then I was apt to blame you, but I could less tell why. As your silence continued my distraction increased; till, at last, I was happily relieved by yours of the 22d of February, which came not to my hands till the 10th instant. I then perceived I was to charge some part of my troubled time to the conveyance of your letter, which was almost three weeks on its way hither; and that which added to my concern was, the want of even your shadow before me, for to this moment I have not received that, which will be apt, on its appearance, to make me an idolater. Mr. Howard writes me word, he has sent it from London about five weeks ago; but I hear nothing of it from our correspondent, to whom it is consigned in Chester. However, seeing I know the substance to be in safety, and well, I can bear the hazard of the shadow with some patience, and doubt not but my expectation will be satisfied in due time.
Both Whiston and Bentley are positive against the idea of God being innate; and I had rather rely on them (if I would rely on any man) than on Dr. S——. It is true, the latter has a great name, but that, I am sure, weighs not with you or me. Besides, you rightly observe, the doctor is no obstinate heretic, but may veer about when another opinion comes in fashion; for some men alter their notions as they do their clothes, in compliance to the mode. I have heard of a master of the Temple, who during the siege of Limerick, writ over hither to a certain prelate, to be sure to let him know, by the first opportunity, whenever it came to be surrendered, which was done accordingly; and immediately the good doctor’s eyes were opened, and he plainly saw the oaths to K. William and Q. Mary were not only expedient but lawful, and our duty. A good roaring train of artillery is not only the “ratio ultima regum,” but of other men besides.
I fancy I pretty well guess what it is that some men find mischievous in your Essay: it is opening the eyes of the ignorant, and rectifying the methods of reasoning, which perhaps may undermine some received errours, and so abridge the empire of darkness; wherein, though the subjects wander deplorably, yet the rulers have their profit and advantage. But it is ridiculous in any man to say in general your book is dangerous; let any fair contender for truth sit down and show wherein it is erroneous. Dangerous is a word of an uncertain signification; every one uses it in his own sense. A papist shall say it is dangerous; because, perhaps, it agrees not so well with transubstantiation; and a lutheran, because his consubstantiation is in hazard; but neither consider, whether transubstantiation or consubstantiation be true or false; but taking it for granted that they are true, or at least gainful, whatever hits not with it, or is against it, must be dangerous.
I am extremely obliged to you for your introducing a correspondence between Dr. Sloane and me, and it would be the greatest satisfaction imaginable to me, could I but promise myself materials, in this place, fit to support it. However I shall soon begin it, by sending him an account of the largest quadruped that moves on the earth, except the elephant, with which this country has anciently been plentifully stocked, but are now quite perished from amongst us, and is not to be found, for aught as I can learn, any where at present, but about New England, Virginia, &c.
And now I come to that part of your letter relating to Mons. Le Clerc, which grieves me every time I think on it. There are so many difficulties, in what you propose concerning him, that I know not how they will be surmounted. The clergy here have given that learned, pious, and candid man, a name that will frighten any bishop from serving him, though otherwise inclinable enough in his own breast. I know but two or three that are in any post in the church capable to help him; on whom I could rely to do it; but, at the same time, I know them to be such cautious wary men, and so fearful of the censure of the rest of the tribe, that they would hardly be brought to it. I take Mons. Le Clerc to be one of the greatest scholars in Europe; I look on him as one of the most judicious, pious and sincere Christians that has appeared publicly; and it would be an infinite honour to us, to have him amongst us, but, I fear, an ecclesiastical preferment will be very difficult to be obtained for him. And indeed, when I troubled you to give me some account of him, it was in prospect of bringing him into my own family, could his circumstances have allowed it; for I took him to be a single man, and one of the refugees in Holland, and wholly unprovided for. On his own account, I am heartily glad he has any settlement there; but, for my own sake, I could wish he were in other circumstances. But, notwithstanding these difficulties, I have ventured to break this matter to a clergyman here in a considerable post, Dr. ………. dean of ………, a gentleman who is happy in your acquaintance, and is a person of an extensive charity and great candour. He relished the thing extremely, but moved the forementioned difficulties, and raised some farther scruples concerning Mr. Le Clerc’s ordination; for ordained he must necessarily be, to capacitate him for an ecclesiastical preferment; and he questioned whether he would submit to those oaths, and subscription of assent and consent, that are requisite thereto. But he promised me that when he attends the king this summer into Holland, as his chaplain, he will wait on Mons. Le Clerc at Amsterdam, and discourse with him farther about this matter. This gentleman is the likeliest ecclesiastic in Ireland to effect this business, for he is a rising man in the church; and though he be very zealous in his own principles, yet it is with the greatest charity and deference to others; which, I think, is the true spirit of Christianity. I have not mentioned you in the least to him, in all this matter.
I am extremely obliged to you for the good offices you have done me to Mr. Methwin our lord chancellor. I promise myself a great deal of satisfaction in the honour of his lordship’s acquaintance. And, I could wish, if it were consistent with your convenience, that you would let me know the person you desired to mention my name to his lordship.
I am heartily glad to understand that you have taken notice of what the bishop of Worcester says, relating to your book. I have been in discourse here with an ingenious man, upon what the bishop alleges; and the gentleman observed, that the bishop does not so directly object against your notions as erroneous, but as misused by others, and particularly by the author of “Christianity not mysterious;” but I think this is no very just observation. The bishop directly opposes your doctrine, though, it is true, he does it on the occasion of the foresaid book. I am told the author of that discourse is of this country, and that his name is Toland, but he is a stranger in these parts; I believe, if he belongs to this kingdom, he has been a good while out of it, for I have not heard of any such remarkable man amongst us.
I should be very glad to see Mons. L.’s paper concerning your Essay. He is certainly an extraordinary person, especially in mathematics; but really to speak freely of him, in relation to what he may have to say to you, I do not expect any great matters from him; for methinks (with all deference to his great name) he has given the world no extraordinary samples of his thoughts this way, as appears by two discourses he has printed, both in the “Acta Erudit. Lipsiæ,” the first Anno 1694, p. 110. “De primæ Philosophiæ Emendatione,” &c. the other Anno 1695, p. 145. “Specimen Dynamicum,” which truly to me is, in many places, unintelligible; but that may be my defect, and not his.
I beg you would excuse me to my lady Masham, for the errour I committed relating to her ladyship. I ever looked on Mr. Norris as an obscure enthusiastic man, but I could not think he would knowingly impose on the world so notorious a falsity in matter of fact. I wish authors would take more pains to open than to shut men’s eyes, and then we should have more success in the discoveries of truth.———But I have almost outrun my paper. I am,
Ever honoured Sir,
Your most affectionate, and
most obliged humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, April 6, 1697.
IN my last to you of March 16, there was a passage relating to the author of “Christianity not mysterious.” I did not then think that he was so near me, as within the bounds of this city; but I find since, that he is come over hither, and have had the favour of a visit from him. I now understand (as I intimated to you) that he was born in this country; but that he has been a great while abroad, and his education was, for some time, under the great Le Clerc. But that for which I can never honour him too much, is his acquaintance and friendship to you, and the respect which, on all occasions, he expresses for you. I propose a great deal of satisfaction in his conversation; I take him to be a candid free-thinker, and a good scholar. But there is a violent sort of spirit, that reigns here, which begins already to show itself against him; and, I believe, will increase daily; for I find the clergy alarmed to a mighty degree against him. And last Sunday he had his welcome to this city, by hearing himself harangued against out of the pulpit, by a prelate of this country.
I have at last received my most esteemed friend’s picture; I must now make my grateful acknowledgments to you, for the many idle hours you spent in sitting for it, to gratify my desire. I never look upon it, but with the greatest veneration. But though the artist has shown extraordinary skill at his pencil, yet now I have obtained some part of my desire, the greatest remains unsatisfied; and seeing he could not make it speak, and converse with me, I am still at a loss. But I find you are resolved, in some measure, to supply even that too, by the kind presents you sent me of your thoughts, both in your letters and in your books, as you publish them. Mr. Churchill tells me, I am obliged to you for one or two of this kind, that you have been pleased to favour me with; they are not yet come to hand, but I return you my heartiest thanks for them. I long, indeed, to see your answer to the bishop of Worcester; but for Edwards, I think him such a poor wretch, he deserves no notice. I am,
Most worthy Sir,
Your affectionate, humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, April 10, 1697.
THOUGH I do not suspect that you will think me careless or cold in that small business you desired of me, and so left it in negligent hands, give me leave to send you a transcript of a passage in my friend’s letter, which I received last post.
“It is a great while since that Mr. P—— undertook to tell you that I had spoken to Mr. Methwin about Mr. Molyneux, and that he received your recommendation very civilly, and answered, he should always have a great regard for any body you thought worthy of your esteem; and you gave so advantageous a character of Mr. Molyneux, that he should covet his acquaintance, and therefore he must desire the favour of you to recommend him to Mr. Molyneux.”
Thus, my friend, whose words, though in them there be something of compliment to myself, I repeat to you just as they are in his letter, that you may see he had the same success I promised you in my last.
In obedience to your commands, I herewith send you a copy of Mr. L—’s paper. The last paragraph, which you will find writ in my hand, is a transcript of part of a letter, writ lately to his correspondent here, one Mr. Burnet, who sent it me lately, with a copy of Mr. L———’s paper. Mr. Burnet has had it this year or two, but never communicated it to me, ’till about a fortnight agone. Indeed Mr. Cunningham procured me a sight of it last summer, and he and I read it paragraph by paragraph over together, and he confessed to me, that some parts of it he did not understand; and I showed him in others, that Mr. L———’s opinion would not hold, who was perfectly of my mind. I mention Mr. Cunningham to you, in the case, because I think him an extraordinary man of parts and learning, and he is one that is known to Mr. L———. To answer your freedom with the like, I must confess to you, that Mr. L———’s great name had raised in me an expectation which the sight of his paper did not answer, nor that discourse of his in the “Acta Eruditorum,” which he quotes, and I have since read, and had just the same thoughts of it, when I read it, as I find you have. From whence I only draw this inference, that even great parts will not master any subject without great thinking, and even the largest minds have but narrow swallows. Upon this occasion I cannot but again regret the loss of your company and assistance, by this great distance.
I have lately got a little leisure to think of some additions to my book, against the next edition, and within these few days have fallen upon a subject, that I know not how far it will lead me. I have written several pages on it, but the matter, the farther I go, opens the more upon me, and I cannot yet get sight of any end of it. The title of the chapter will be, “Of the Conduct of the Understanding,” which, if I shall pursue, as far as I imagine it will reach, and as it deserves, will, I conclude, make the largest chapter of my Essay. It is well for you, you are not near me; I should be always pestering you with my notions, and papers, and reveries. It would be a great happiness to have a man of thought to lay them before, and a friend that would deal candidly and freely.
I hope, ere this, you and your brother have received printed copies of what the doctor communicated to the Royal Society. I presume it is published before this time, though I have not seen it; for Dr. Sloane writ me word, some time since, that it would be speedily, and told me he would send it to you. And, if Mr. Churchill has taken that care he promised me, I hope you have also received my Letter to the bishop of Worcester, and that I shall soon receive your thoughts of it.
The business you proposed to Dr. S—— is generously designed, and well managed, and I very much wish it success. But will not Dr. S—— be persuaded to communicate to the world the observations he made in Turkey? The discourse I had with him satisfies me, they well deserve not to be lost, as all papers laid up in a study are. Methinks you should prevail with him to oblige his country.
Though my paper be done, yet I cannot close my letter till I have made some acknowledgments to you, for the many great marks you give me of a sincere affection, and an esteem extremely above what I can deserve, in yours of the 16th of March. Such a friend, procured me by my Essay, makes me more than amends for the many adversaries it has raised me. But, I think, nobody will be able to find any thing mischievous in it, but what you say, which I suspect, troubles some men; and I am not sorry for it, nor like my book the worse. He that follows truth impartially, seldom pleases any set of men; and I know not how a great many of those, who pretend to be spreaders of light and teachers of truth, would yet have men depend upon them for it, and take it rather upon their words than their own knowledge, just cooked and seasoned as they think fit. But it is time to release you after so long a trouble. I am perfectly,
Your most humble and most faithful servant,
Reflexions de Mr. L——— sur “l’éssai de l’entendement humain” de Monsieur Locke.
JE trouve tant de marques d’une penetration peu ordinaire dans ce que Mr. Locke nous a donné sur l’entendement de l’homme, & sur l’education, & je juge la matiere si importante, que j’ai crû ne pas mal employer le tems que je donnerois à une lecture si profitable; d’autant que j’ai fort medité moi-même sur ce qui regarde les fondemens de nos connoissances. C’est ce qui m’a fait mettre sur cette feüille quelques unes des remarques qui me sont venues en lisant son “essai de l’entendement.” De toutes les recherches il n’y en a point de plus importantes, puisque c’est la clef de toutes les autres.
Le premier livre regarde principalement les principes qu’on dit être néz avec nous. Mr. Locke ne les admet pas, non plus que les idées inées. Il a eu sans doute de grandes raisons de s’opposer en cela aux préjugez ordinaires, car on abuse extrêmement du nom d’idées & de principes. Les philosophes vulgaires se font des principes à leur phantasie, & les Cartesiens, qui font profession de plus d’exactitude, ne laissent pas de faire leur retrenchement des idées prétendües, de l’étendüe de la matiere, & de l’ame; voulant s’éxempter par-la de la nécessité de prouver ce qu’ils avancent; sous prétexte que ceux qui méditeront les idées, y trouveront la même chose qu’eux, c’est-à-dire, que ceux qui s’accoûtumeront à leur jargon & à leur maniere de penser, auront les mêmes préventions, ce qui est très-véritable. Mon opinion est donc qu’on ne doit rien prendre pour principe primitif, si non les expériences & l’axiôme de l’identicité ou (ce qui est la même chose) de la contradiction, qui est primitif, puisqu’ autrement il n’y auroit point de difference entre la verité & la fausseté; & toutes les recherches cesseroient d’abord, s’il étoit indifferent de dire oüi ou non. On ne sauroit donc s’empêcher de supposer ce principe, dès qu’on veut raisonner. Toutes les autres veritez sont prouvables, & j’estime extrêmement la methode d’Euclide, qui sans s’arrêter à ce qu’on croiroit être assez prouvé par les prétendües idées, a demontré (par exemple) que dans une triangle un côté est toûjours moindre que les deux autres ensemble. Cependant Euclide a eu raison de prendre quelques axiômes pour accordés, non pas comme s’ils étoient véritablement primitifs & indémonstrables, mais parce qu’il se seroit trop arrêté, s’il n’avoit voulu venir aux conclusions qu’après une discussion éxacte des principes: ainsi il a jugé à propos de se contenter d’avoir poussé les preuves, jusqu’à ce petit nombre de propositions, en sorte qu’on peut dire que si elles sont vraies, tout ce qu’il dit l’est aussi. Il a laissé à d’autres le soin, de démontrer ces principes mêmes, qui d’ailleurs sont déja justifiées par les expériences. Mais c’est dequoi on ne se contente point en ces matieres: c’est pourquoi Apollonius, Proclus, & autres, ont pris la peine de démontrer quelques uns des axiômes d’Euclide. Cette maniere doit être imitée des philosophes, pour venir enfin à quelques établissemens, quand ils ne seroient que provisionels; de la maniere que je viens de dire. Quant aux idées j’en ai donné quelque éclaircissement dans un petit écrit imprimé dans les actes des sçavans de Leipzig au mois de Novembre, 1684, p. 537, qui est intitulé, “Meditationes de cognitione, veritate, & ideis,” & j’aurois souhaité que Mr. Locke l’eut vû & éxaminé, car je suis des plus dociles, & rien n’est plus propre à avancer nos pensées que les considerations & les remarques des personnes de mérite, lorsqu’elles sont faites avec attention & avec sincerité. Je dirai seulement ici, que les idées vraies ou réeles sont celles dont on est assûré que l’éxécution est possible, les autres sont douteuses ou (en cas de preuve de l’impossibilité) chimériques. Or la possibilité des idées se prouve tant à priori par des démonstrations, en se servant de la possibilité d’autres idées plus simples, qu’à posteriori par les expériences, car ce qui est ne sçauroit manquer d’être possible: mais les idées primitives sont celles dont la possibilité est indémonstrable, & qui en effet ne sont autre chose que les attributs de Dieu. Pour ce qui est de la question, “s’il y a des idées & des véritez créez avec nous;” je ne trouve point absolument nécessaire pour les commencemens, ni pour la pratique de l’art de penser, de la décider, soit qu’elles nous viennent toutes de déhors, ou qu’elles viennent de nous, on raisonnera juste pourvû qu’on garde ce que j’ai dit cidessus & qu’on precede avec ordre & sans prévention. La question de “l’origine de nos idées & de nos maximes” n’est pas préliminaire en philosophie, & il faut avoir fait de grands progrès pour la bien résoudre. Je crois cependant pouvoir dire que nos idées (même celles de choses sensibles) viennent de notre propre fonds, dont on pourra mieux juger parce que j’ai publié touchant la nature & la communication des substances & ce qu’on appelle “l’union de l’ame avec le corps,” car j’ai trouvé que ces choses n’avoient pas été bien prises. Je ne suis nullement pour la tabula rasa d’Aristote, & il y a quelque chose de solide dans ce que Platon appelloit la reminiscence. Il y a même quelque chose de plus, car nous n’avons pas seulement une reminiscence de toutes nos pensées; passées; mais encore un pressentiment de toutes nos pensées futures. Il est vrai que c’est confusément & sans les distinguer, à peu près comme lorsque j’entends le bruit de la mer, j’entends celui de toutes les vagues en particulier qui composent le bruit total; quoique ce soit sans discerner une vague de l’autre. Et il est vrai dans un certain sens que j’ai expliqué, que non seulement nos idées, mais encore nos sentimens naissent de nôtre propre fonds, & que l’ame est plus indépendante qu’on ne pense, quoiqu’il soit toûjours vrai que rien ne se passe en elle qui ne soit déterminé.
Dans le livre ii. qui vient au détail des idées, j’avouë que les raisons de Mons. Locke pour prouver que l’ame est quelquefois sans penser à rien, ne me paroissent pas convainquantes; si ce n’est qu’il donne le nom de pensés aux seules perceptions assez notables pour être distinguées & retenuës. Je tiens que l’ame & même le corps n’est jamais sans action, & que l’ame n’est jamais sans quelque perception. Même en dormant on a quelques sentimens confus & sombres du lieu où l’on est & d’autres choses. Mais quand l’expérience ne le confirmeroit pas je crois qu’il y en a démonstration. C’est à peu près comme on ne sçauroit prouver absolument pas les expériences s’il n’y a point de vuide dans l’espace & s’il n’y a point de repos dans la matiere. Et cependant ces sortes de questions me paroissent décidées démonstrativement, aussi bien qu’à Mr. Locke; je demeure d’accord de la différence qu’il met avec beaucoup de raison entre la matiere & l’espace. Mais, pour ce qui est du vuide plusieurs personnes habiles l’ont crû. Monsieur Locke est de ce nombre, j’en étois presque persuadé moi-même, mais j’en suis revenu depuis longtems. Et l’incomparable Monsieur Huygens, qui étoit aussi pour le vuide, et pour les atômes, commença à faire réflexion sur mes raisons, comme ses lettres le pouvent témoigner. La preuve du vuide prise du mouvement, dont Mr. Locke se sert, suppose que le corps est originairement dur, & qu’il est composé d’un certain nombre de parties inflexibles. Car en ce cas il seroit vrai, quelque nombre fini d’atômes qu’on pourroit prendre, que le mouvement ne sçauroit avoir lieu sans vuide, mais toutes les parties de la matiere sont divisibles & pliables. Il y a encore quelques autres choses dans ce second livre qui m’arrêtent, par éxemple, lorsqu’il est dit, chap. 17. que l’infinité ne se doit attribuer qu’à l’espace, au tems, & aux nombres. Je crois avec Mr. Locke qu’à proprement parler on peut dire qu’il n’y a point d’espace, de tems, ni de nombre, qui soit infini, mais qu’il est seulement vrai que plus grand que soit une espace, ou tems, ou bien un nombre, il y a toûjours un autre plus grand que lui sans fin, & qu’ainsi le véritable infini ne se trouve point dans un tout composé de parties. Cependant il ne laisse pas de se trouver ailleurs, savoir dans l’absolu, qui est sans parties & qui a influence sur les choses composées, parce qu’elles résultent de la limitation de l’absolu. Donc l’infini positif n’étant autre chose que l’absolu, on peut dire qu’il y a en ce sens une idée positive de l’infini, & qu’elle est antérieure à celle du fini. Au reste en rejettant un infini composé on ne rejette point ce que les géométres démontrent “de seriebus infinitis,” & particulierement l’excellent Mr. Newton. Quant à ce qui est dit chap. 30. “de ideis adæquatis,” il est permit de donner aux termes la signification qu’on trouve à propos. Cependant sans blamer le sens de Mr. Locke je mets un degré dans les idées selon lequelle j’appelle adequate celle où il n’y a plus rien à expliquer. Or toutes les idées des qualitez sensibles, comme de la lumiere, couleur, chaleur, n’êtant point de cette nature, je ne les compte point parmi les adequates, aussi n’est-ce point par ellesmêmes, ni à priori, mais par l’expérience que nous en sçavons la réalite, ou la possibilité.
Il y a encore bien de bonnes choses dans le livre iii. où il est traite des mots ou termes. Il est très-vrai qu’on ne sçauroit tout définir, & que les qualitez sensibles n’ont point de définition nominale, & on les peut appeller primitives en ce sens-la. Mais elles ne laissent pas de pouvoir recevoir une définition réelle. J’ai montré la différence de ses deux sortes de définitions dans la méditation citée ci-dessus. La définition nominale explique le nom par les marques de la choses; mais la definition réelle fait connoître à priori la possibilité du défini. Au reste j’applaudis fort à la doctrine de Mons. Locke touchant la demonstrabilité des veritez morales.
Le iv. ou dernier livre, où il s’agit de la connoissance de la verité, montre l’usage de ce qui vient d’être dit. J’y trouve (aussi bien que dans les livres précédens) une infinité de belles reflexions. De faire là-dessus les remarques convenables, ce seroit faire un livre aussi grand que l’ouvrage même. Il me semble que les axiômes y sont un peu moins considerés qu’ils ne méritent de l’être. C’est apparemment parce qu’excepté ceux des mathematiciens on n’en trouve guere ordinairement, qui soient importans & solides: tâché de rémedier à ce défaut. Je ne méprise pas les propositions identiques, & j’ai trouvé qu’elles ont un grand usage même dans l’analyse. Il est très-vrai, que nous connoissons nôtre existence par une intuition immediate & celle de Dieu par démonstration, & qu’une masse de matiere, dont les parties sont sans perception, ne sçauroit faire un tout qui pense. Je ne méprise point l’argument inventé, il y a quelques siécles, par Ansclme, qui prouve que l’être parfait doit exister; quoique je trouve qu’il manque quelque chose à cet argument, parce qu’il suppose que l’être parfait est possible. Car si ce seul point se démonstre encore, la démonstration toute entiere sera entierement achevé. Quant à la connoissance des autres choses il est fort bien dit, que la seule expérience ne suffit pas pour avancer assez en physique. Un esprit pénétrant tirera plus de conséquences de quelques expériences assez ordinaires qu’un autre ne sçauroit tirer des plus choisies, outre qu’il y a un art d’expérimenter & d’interroger, pour ainsi dire, la nature. Cependant il est toujours vrai qu’on ne sçauroit avancer dans le detail de la physique qu’à mesure qu’on a des expériences. Mons. Locke est de l’opinion des plusieurs habiles hommes, qui tiennent que la forme des logiciens est de peu d’usage. Je serois quasi d’un autre sentiment: & j’ai trouvé souvent que les paralogismes même dans les mathématiques sont des manquemens de la forme. M. Huygens a fait la même remarque. Il y auroit bien à dire là-dessus; & plusieurs choses excellentes sont méprisées parce qu’on n’en fait pas l’usage dont elles sont capables. Nous sommes portez à mépriser ce que nous avons appris dans les écoles. Il est vrai que nous y apprenons bien des inutilitez, mais il est bon de faire la fonction della crusca, c’est à dire, de séparer le bon du mauvais. Mr. Locke le peut faire autant que qui que ce soit; & de plus il nous donne des pensées considerables de son propre crû. Il n’est pas seulement essayeur, mais il est encore transmutateur, par l’augmentation qu’il donne du bon métail. S’il continuoit d’en faire present au public, nous lui en serions fort redevables.
Je voudrois que Mons. Locke eut dit son sentiment à Mons. Cunningham sur mes remarques, ou que Mons. Cunningham voulut nous le dire librement. Car je ne suis pas de ceux qui sont entêtez, & la raison peut tout sur moi. Mais les affaires de négoce détournent Mons. Locke de ces pensées, car cette matiere de négoce est de très grande etendu & même fort subtile & demimathematique, &c.
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, May 3, 1697.
THOUGH the honour you do me, in the value you put upon my shadow, be a fresh mark of that friendship which is so great an happiness to me, yet I shall never consider my picture in the same house with you, without great regret at my so far distance from you myself. But I will not continue to importune you with my complaints of that kind; it is an advantage greater than I could have hoped, to have the conversation of such a friend, though with the sea between; and the remaining little scantling of my life would be too happy, if I had you in my neighbourhood.
I am glad to hear that the gentleman you mention, in yours of the sixth of the last month, does me the favour to speak well of me on that side the water; I never deserved other of him, but that he should always have done so on this. If his exceeding great value of himself do not deprive the world of that usefulness, that his parts, if rightly conducted, might be of, I shall be very glad. He went from London, as I heard afterwards, soon after I left it, the last time. But he did me not the favour to give me a visit whilst I was there, nor to let me know of his intended journey to you; if he had, it is possible I might have writ by him to you, which I am now not sorry he did not. I always value men of parts and learning, and think I cannot do too much in procuring them friends and assistance. But there may happen occasions that may make one stop one’s hand. And it is the hopes young men give of what use they will make of their parts, which is to me the encouragement of being concerned for them. But, if vanity increases with age, I always fear whither it will lead a man. I say this to you, because you are my friend, for whom I have no reserves, and think I ought to talk freely where you inquire, and possibly may be concerned; but I say it to you alone, and desire it may go no farther. For the man I wish very well, and could give you, if it needed, proofs that I do so. And therefore I desire you to be kind to him; but I must leave it to your prudence, in what way, and how far. If his carriage with you gives you the promises of a steady useful man, I know you will be forward enough of yourself, and I shall be very glad of it. For it will be his fault alone if he prove not a very valuable man, and have not you for his friend.
But I have something to say to you of another man. Mons. Le Clerc, in a letter I received from him, writes thus:
“Mons. C— me disoit dernierement que s’il trouvoit occasion d’entrer dans une maison de condition en qualité de precepteur, il seroit ravi d’en profiter. C’est un fort honnête homme, & qui seroit bien capable de s’acquitter de cet emploi. Il ne sçait l’anglois que par les livres, c’est-a-dire, qu’il l’entend lorsqu’il le lit, mais qu’il ne le sçauroit parler non plus que moi faute d’habitude. Si quelque un de vos amis auroit besoin de precepteur, & qu’il lui donnât de quoi s’entretenir, il ne sçauroit trouver d’homme plus sage & plus réglé, outre qu’il sçait beaucoup de choses utiles pour un emploi comme celui-là, les belles lettres, l’histoire,” &c.
This Mr. C— is he that translated my book of Education, upon which occasion I came to have some acquaintance with him by letters, and he seems a very ingenious man; and Mr. Le Clerc has often, before any thing of this, spoken of him to me with commendation and esteem. He has since translated “The Lady’s Religion,” and “The Reasonableness of Christianity,” into French. You may easily guess why I put this into my letter to you, after what you said concerning Mr. Le Clerc in your last letter but one.
You are willing, I see, to make my little presents to you more and greater than they are. Amongst the books that Mr. Churchill sent you, you are beholden to me (since you will call it so) but for one; and to that the bishop of Worcester, I hear, has an answer in the press, which will be out this week. So that I perceive this controversy is a matter of serious moment beyond what I could have thought. This benefit I shall be sure to get by it, either to be confirmed in my opinion, or be convinced of some errours, which I shall presently reform, in my Essay, and so make it the better for it. For I have no opinions that I am fond of. Truth, I hope, I always shall be fond of, and so ready to embrace, and with so much joy, that I shall own it to the world, and thank him that does me the favour. So that I am never afraid of any thing writ against me, unless it be the wasting of my time, when it is not writ closely in pursuit of truth, and truth only.
In my last to you, I sent you a copy of Mr. L——’s paper; I have this writ me out of Holland concerning it:
“Mr. L——, mathématicien de Hannover ayant oüi dire, qu’on traduisoit vôtre ouvrage, et qu’on l’alloit imprimer, a envoyé ici à un de mes amis ce jugement qu’il en fait, comme pour la mettre à la tête. Cependant il a été bien aise qu’on vous le communicât. Il m’a été remis entre les mains pour cela. On m’a dit mille biens de ce mathématicien. Il y a long tems que magna et præclara minatur, sans rien produre que quelque démonstrations détachées. Je crois neanmoins qu’il ne vous entend pas, et je doute qu’il s’entende bien lui-même.”
I see you and I, and this gentleman, agree pretty well concerning the man; and this sort of fiddling makes me hardly avoid thinking, that he is not that very great man as has been talked of him. His paper was in England a year, or more, before it was communicated to me, and I imagine you will think he need not make such a great stir with it.
My Essay, you see, is translating into French, and it is by the same Mr. Coste above-mentioned. But this need not hinder Mr. Burridge in what he designed; for Mr. Coste goes on exceedingly slowly, as I am told.
You see how forward I am to importune you with all my little concerns. But this would be nothing to what I should do, if I were nearer you. I should then be talking to you de quolibet ente, and consulting you about a thousand whimsies that come sometimes into my thoughts. But with all this, I unfeignedly am,
Your most faithful humble servant,
The poem that was sent you by Mr. Churchill, amongst the other books, I believe will please you: there are some noble parts in it.
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, May 15, 1697.
My most honoured Friend,
NOTHING could excuse my keeping your kind letter of April 10th so long by me unanswered, but an unexpected and melancholy accident that has lately befallen a dear sister of mine, who, on the 24th of last month, lost her husband, the lord bishop of Meath, a learned and worthy prelate. Our whole family has so deeply partaken in this trouble, that we have been all under a great concern; but more particularly myself, who am intrusted by the good bishop with the disposal of some of his affairs. This has, of late, so taken me up, that I had not time to take the satisfaction of writing to you; but the hurry of that business being somewhat abated, I resume the pleasure of kissing your hands, and of assuring you, with what a deep sense of gratitude I receive the kindness you have done me with my lord chancellor Methwin. I hope we shall see his lordship soon here, for we understand he parts from London the 18th instant.
I am extremely obliged to you for the trouble you have been at in communicating to me Mons. L——’s paper, and I am now sorry I ever put the task on you: for to speak freely to you, as I formerly did, I find nothing in this paper to make me alter the opinion I had of Mons. L——’s performances this way. He is either very unhappy in expressing, or I am very dull in apprehending his thoughts. I do not know but some of the doubts he raises, concerning your Essay, may proceed from his unacquaintance with our language; and this makes me yet more earnest to procure the translation of your Essay; but Mr. Burridge, since he last arrived here, has been wholly employed in overtaking his business in the country, to which he is run much in arrear. He is chaplain to my lord chancellor Methwin, and on that account, I hope he will keep much in town, and then I shall ply him hard.
I will give you a thousand thanks for the present of your letter to the bishop of Worcester: but I need not give you my opinion of it, otherwise than as you find it in the following paragraph of a letter which I received concerning it, from a reverend prelate of this kingdom. (The present bishop of …. between ourselves.)
“I read Mr. Locke’s letter to the bishop of Worcester with great satisfaction, and am wholly of your opinion, that he has fairly laid the great bishop on his back; but it is with so much gentleness, as if he were afraid not only of hurting him, but even of spoiling or tumbling his cloaths. Indeed I cannot tell which I most admire, the great civility and good manners in his book, or the force and clearness of his reasonings. And I fancy the bishop will thank him privately, and trouble the world no more with this dispute.”
You see thereby my friend’s and my own opinion, of your book; and I can tell you farther, that all those whom I have yet conversed with in this place, concerning it, agree in the same judgment. And another (bishop too) told me, that “though your words were as smooth as oil, yet they cut like a two-edged sword.”
At the same time that Mr. Churchill sent me your Letter to the bishop, he sent me likewise the “Second Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity.” If you know the author thereof, (as I am apt to surmise you may) be pleased to let him know, that I think he has done Edwards too much honour in thinking him worth his notice; for so vile a poor wretch certainly never appeared in print. But, at the same time, tell him, that, as this Vindication contains a farther illustration of the divine truths in the Reasonableness of Christianity, he has the thanks of me, and of all fair candid men that I converse with about it.
In giving you the opinion we have here, of your letter to the bishop of Worcester, I have rather chosen to let you know, particularly, that of some of our bishops with whom I converse; for this rank, if any, might seem inclinable to favour their brother, could they do it with any show of justice. And yet, after all, I am told from London, that the bishop is hammering out an answer to you. Certainly some men think, or hope the world will think, that truth always goes with the last word.
You never write to me, that you do not raise new expectations in my longing mind of partaking your thoughts, on those noble subjects you are upon. Your chapter concerning the conduct of the understanding must needs be very sublime and spacious. Oh sir! never more mention to me our distance as your loss: it is my disadvantage! it is my unhappiness! I never before had such reason to deplore my hard fate, in being condemned to this prison of an island; but one day or other I will get loose, in spite of all the fetters and clogs that incumber me at present. But if you did but know in what a wood of business I am engaged, (by the greatest part whereof I reap no other advantage than the satisfaction of being seviceable to my friends,) you would pity me. But I hope soon to rid my hands of a great part of this trouble, and then I shall be at more liberty. Till which happy time, and for ever, I remain
Your most faithful friend, and most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Honoured Dear Sir,
Dublin, May 27, 1697.
THE hints you are pleased so friendly to communicate to me, in yours of the 3d instant, concerning Mr. T———, are fresh marks of your kindness and confidence in me, and they perfectly agree with the apprehensions I had conceived of that gentleman. Truly, to be free, and without reserve to you, I do not think his management, since he came into this city, has been so prudent. He has raised against him the clamours of all parties; and this, not so much by his difference in opinion, as by his unseasonable way of discoursing, propagating, and maintaining it. Coffee-houses, and public tables, are not proper places for serious discourses relating to the most important truths. But when also a tincture of vanity appears in the whole course of a man’s conversation, it disgusts many that may otherwise have a due value for his parts and learning. I have known a gentleman in this town, that was a most strict socinian, and thought as much out of the common road as any man, and was also known so to do; but then his behaviour and discourse were attended with so much modesty, goodness, and prudence, that I never heard him publicly censured or clamoured against, neither was any man in danger of censure, by receiving his visits, or keeping him company. I am very loth to tell you how far it is otherwise with Mr. T—— in this place; but I am persuaded it may be for his advantage that you know it, and that you friendly admonish him for it, for his conduct hereafter. I do not think that any man can be dispensed with to dissemble the truth, and full persuasion of his mind, in religious truths, when duly called to it, and upon fitting occasions. But, I think, prudence may guide us in the choice of proper opportunities, that we may not run ourselves against rocks to no purpose, and inflame men against us unnecessarily. Mr. T—— also takes here a great liberty, on all occasions, to vouch your patronage and friendship, which makes many that rail at him, rail also at you. I believe you will not approve of this, as far as I am able to judge, by your shaking him off in your Letter to the Bishop of Worcester. But after all this, I look upon Mr. T—— as a very ingenious man, and I should be very glad of any opportunity of doing him service, to which I think myself indispensably bound by your recommendation. One thing more I had almost forgot to intimate to you, that all here are mightily at a loss in guessing what might be the occasion of T——’s coming, at this time, into Ireland. He is known to be of no fortune or employ, and yet is observed to have a subsistence, but from whence it comes no one can tell certainly. These things, joined with his great forwardness in appearing in public, make people surmise a thousand fancies. If you could give me light into these matters, as far as it may help me in my own conduct, I should be much obliged to you.
By the books which Mr. Coste has translated, I perceive his inclinations would be extremely agreeable to mine, and I should be very happy could I give him, at present, any encouragement to come into my poor family. But I have a gentleman with me in the house, whose dependence is wholly upon me; and I cannot find fault with my little boy’s progress under him. When I formerly made inquiry from you about Mons. Le Clerc, I was in some prospect of providing for this gentleman whom I now have, by the favour of a good friend, who is since dead. So that, at present, having no opportunity of disposing him to his advantage, I cannot conveniently part with him. However, I do not know how soon it may be otherwise; and therefore be pleased, in the mean time, to let me know something farther of Mons. Coste; as whether he be a complete master of the Latin tongue, or other language; whether a mathematician, or given to experimental philosophy; what his age, and where educated: as to the belles lettres, l’histoire, &c. Mons. Le Clerc has mentioned them already in his character.
I am mightily pleased to find that some others have the same thoughts of Mons. L—— as you and I. His performances in mathematics have made all the world mistaken in him. But certainly, in other attempts, I am of your opinion, he no more understands himself, than others understand him.
Mr. Churchill favoured me with the present of sir R. Blackmore’s K. Arthur. I had Pr. Arthur before, and read it with admiration, which is not at all lessened by this second piece. All our English poets (except Milton) have been mere ballad-makers, in comparison to him. Upon the publication of his first poem, I intimated to him, through Mr. Churchill’s hands, how excellently I thought he might perform a philosophic poem, from many touches he gave in his Pr. Arthur, particularly from Mopas’s song. And, I perceive by his preface to K. Arthur, he has had the like intimations from others, but rejects them, as being an enemy to all philosophic hypotheses. Were I acquainted with sir R. Blackmore, I could assure him, (and, if you be so, I beseech you to tell him,) that I am as little an admirer of hypotheses as any men, and never proposed that thought to him, with a design that a philosophic poem should run on such a strain. “A natural history of the great and admirable phenomena of the universe,” is a subject, I think, may afford sublime thoughts in a poem; and so far, and no farther, would I desire a poem to extend.
You see I am carried beyond my designed bounds, by the mark on the other side this leaf. But as I am never weary of reading letters from you, so, I think, I am never tired of writing to you. However, it is time I relieve you, by subscribing myself entirely
Your most affectionate, and devoted servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, June 15, 1697.
I HAVE the honour of your two obliging letters of the 15th and 27th of May, wherein I find the same mind, the same affection, and the same friendship, which you have so frankly, and so long, made me happy in. And, if I may guess by the paragraph which you transcribed out of your friend’s letter into yours of the 15th of May, I shall have reason to think your kindness to me is grown infectious, and that by it you fascinate your friends understandings, and corrupt their judgments in my favour. It is enough for me, in so unequal a match, if mighty truth can keep me from a shameful overthrow. If I can maintain my ground, it is enough, against so redoubtable an adversary; but victory I must not think of. I doubt not but you are convinced of that by this time, and you will see how silly a thing it is for an unskilled pigmy to enter the lists with a man at arms, versed in the use of his weapons.
My health, and businesses that I like as little as you do those you complain of, make me know what it is to want time. I often resolve not to trouble you any more with my complaints of the distance between us, and as often impertinently break that resolution. I never have any thoughts working in my head, or any new project start in my mind, but my wishes carry me immediately to you, and I desire to lay them before you. You may justly think this carries a pretty severe reflection on my country, or myself, that in it I have not a friend to communicate my thoughts with. I cannot much complain of want of friends to other purposes. But a man with whom one can freely seek truth, without any regard to old or new, fashionable or not fashionable, but truth merely for truth’s sake, is what is scarce to be found in an age; and such an one I take you to be. Do but think then what a pleasure, what an advantage it would be to me to have you by me, who have so much thought, so much clearness, so much penetration, all directed to the same aim which I propose to myself, in all the ramblings of my mind. I, on this occasion, mention only the wants that I daily feel, which make me not so often speak of the other advantages I should receive, from the communication of your own notions, as well as from the correction of mine. But, with this repining, I trouble you too much, and, for the favours I receive from you, thank you too little, and rejoice not enough in having such a friend, though at a distance.
As to the gentleman, to whom you think my friendly admonishments may be of advantage for his conduct hereafter, I must tell you, that he is a man to whom I never writ in my life, and, I think, I shall not now begin. And, as to his conduct, it is what I never so much as spoke to him of. This is a liberty to be only taken with friends and intimates, for whose conduct one is mightily concerned, and in whose affairs one interests himself. I cannot but wish well to all men of parts and learning, and be ready to afford them all the civilities and good offices in my power. But there must be other qualities to bring me to a friendship, and unite me in those stricter ties of concern. For I put a great deal of difference between those whom I thus receive into my heart and affection, and those whom I receive into my chamber, and do not treat there with a perfect strangeness. I perceive you think yourself under some obligation of peculiar respect to that person, upon the account of my recommendation to you; but certainly this comes from nothing but your over-great tenderness to oblige me. For, if I did recommend him, you will find it was only as a man of parts and learning, for his age, but without any intention that that should be of any other consequence, or lead you any farther, than the other qualities you should find in him, should recommend him to you. And therefore whatsoever you shall, or shall not do for him, I shall no way interest myself in. I know, of your own self, you are a good friend to those who deserve it of you; and for those that do not, I shall never blame your neglect of them. The occasion of his coming into Ireland now, I guess to be the hopes of some employment, now upon this change of hands there. I tell you, I guess, for he himself never told me any thing of it, nor so much as acquainted me with his intentions of going to Ireland, how much soever he vouches my patronage and friendship, as you are pleased to phrase it. And as to his subsistence, from whence that comes, I cannot tell. I should not have wasted so much of my conversation with you, on this subject, had you not told me it would oblige you to give you light in these matters, which I have done, as a friend to a friend, with a greater freedom than I should allow myself to talk to another.
I shall, when I see sir Rich. Blackmore, discourse him as you desire. There is, I with pleasure find, a strange harmony throughout between your thoughts and mine. I have always thought that laying down, and building upon hypotheses, has been one of the great hindrances of natural knowledge; and I see your notions agree with mine in it. And, though I have a great value for sir R. Blackmore, on several accounts, yet there is nothing has given me a greater esteem of him, than what he says about hypotheses in medicine, in his preface to King Arthur, which is an argument to me, that he understands the right method of practising physic; and it gives me great hopes he will improve it, since he keeps in the only way it is capable to be improved in; and has so publicly declared against the more easy, fashionable, and pleasing way of an hypothesis, which, I think, has done more to hinder the true art of Physic, which is the curing of diseases, than all other things put together; by making it learned, specious, and talkative, but ineffective to its great end, the health of mankind; as was visible in the practice of physic, in the hands of the illiterate Americans; and the learned physicians, that went thither out of Europe, stored with their hypotheses, borrowed from natural philosophy, which made them indeed great men, and admired in the schools; but in curing diseases, the poor Americans, who had escaped those splendid clogs, clearly out-went them. You cannot imagine how far a little observation, carefully made by a man not tied up to the four humours; or sal, sulphur, and mercury; or to acid and alcali, which has of late prevailed, will carry a man in the curing of diseases, though very stubborn and dangerous, and that with very little and common things, and almost no medicines at all. Of this I could, from my own experience, convince you, were we together but a little while. But my letter is too long already. When I am writing to you, the pleasure of talking to you makes me forget you are a man of business, and have your hands full. I beg your pardon for it. It is time to dismiss you. I am,
Your most affectionate, and
most faithful humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, July 26, 1697.
THE latest favour I received from my ever honoured friend was of the 15th of June, and I have it before me, to acknowledge with all due gratitude. I was mightily surprised to see the “bishop of Worcester’s answer to your Letter;” I thought he would have let that matter fall, and have privately thanked you, and have said no more. This was the least I expected from him; for I think, indeed, he might have gone farther, and made his public acknowledgments to you. This had been like a man of ingenuity and candour: and by this he had been more valuable, in the opinion of all I converse with here, than by the shiftings, windings, and turnings, he uses in his last piece. You well observe the bishop has shown himself a man at his weapon; but I think him “Andabatarum more pugnare,” he winks as he fights. However, in the postscript he shows a sample of the old leaven, and must not let you go without coupling his observations on a socinian book, with his confutation of yours; as if there were something so agreeable between them, that they cannot be well separated. This is such an indirect practice, and seems such an invidious insinuation, that I cannot but give it the name of malice.
I am obliged to you for the confidence you put in me, by communicating your thoughts concerning Mr. T——, more freely than you would do to every one. He has had his opposers here, as you will find by a book which I have sent to you by a gentleman’s servant, to be left for you at your lodging; wherein you will meet with a passage relating to yourself, which, though with decency, yet I fear will not redound much to the author’s advantage; for, with very great assurance, (an usual companion of ignorance) he undertakes to “demonstrate the immateriality of the soul,” and to show the falsity of your argumentation, wherein you assert, “that we have no proof, but that God may communicate a power of thinking to a certain system of matter.” But this is all but assertion and promise; we are so unhappy as yet to want this demonstration from this author, and I fear we shall ever want it from him; and I believe you will be of my opinion, when you read his book. The author is my acquaintance; but two things I shall never forgive in his book; the one is the foul language and opprobrious names he gives Mr. T——; the other is, upon several occasions, calling in the aid of the civil magistrate, and delivering Mr. T—— up to secular punishment. This, indeed, is a killing argument; but some will be apt to say, that where the strength of his reason failed him, there he flies to the strength of the sword. And this minds me of a business that was very surprising to many, even several prelates in this place, the presentment of some pernicious books, and their authors, by the grand jury of Middlesex. This is looked upon as a matter of dangerous consequence, to make our civil courts judges of religious doctrines; and no one knows, upon a change of affairs, whose turn it may be next to be condemned. But the example has been followed in our country; and Mr. T—— and his book have been presented here by a grand jury, not one of which (I am persuaded) ever read one leaf in “Christianity not mysterious.” Let the Sorbonne for ever now be silent; a learned grand jury, directed by as learned a judge, does the business much better. The dissenters here were the chief promoters of this matter; but, when I asked one of them, what if a violent church of England jury should present Mr. Baxter’s books as pernicious, and condemn them to the flames by the common executioner? he was sensible of the errour, and said, he wished it had never been done.
I must not forget to thank you for the countenance I have received from my lord chancellor Methwin, since his coming into Ireland. I know it is all owing to your, and your friends endeavours. My lord is a person from whom the kingdom expects very well, for hitherto his management has been very promising. Mr. Burridge is his chaplain, and expects very soon to be settled in a parish here in Dublin, and then he promises me to prosecute the Essay with vigour.
My brother gives you his most humble service. He is told, by Mr. Burridge, that you had sent him a book in medicine, but by what hand he could not inform him. He has such a value for every thing that comes from you, that he desired me to let you know that no such book came to his hands, or else he had not all this while deferred his acknowledgments.
I perceive you are so happy as to be acquainted with sir Richard Blackmore; he is an extraordinary person, and I admire his two prefaces as much as I do any parts of his books; the first, wherein he exposes the “licentiousness and immorality of our late poetry,” is incomparable; and the second, wherein he prosecutes the same subject, and delivers his thoughts concerning hypotheses, is no less judicious. And I am wholly of his opinion, relating to the latter. However, the “history and phenomena of nature” we may venture at; and this is what I propose to be the subject of a philosophic poem. Sir Richard Blackmore has exquisite touches of this kind dispersed in many places of his books; (to pass over Mopas’s song;) I’ll instance one particular, in the most profound speculations of Mr. Newton’s philosophy, thus curiously touched in King Arthur, Book IX. p. 243.
- The constellations shine at his command,
- He form’d their radiant orbs, and with his hand
- He weigh’d, and put them off with such a force
- As might preserve an everlasting course.
I doubt not but sir R. Blackmore, in these lines, had a regard to the proportionment of the projective motion to the “vis centripeta,” that keeps the planets in their continued courses.
I have by me some observations made by a judicious friend of mine, on both sir R. Blackmore’s poems; if they may be any ways acceptable to sir R. I shall send them to you; they are in the compass of a sheet of paper. And, were it proper, I should humbly desire you to procure for me, from sir R. the key to the persons names, in both his poems; most of the first I have already, and a great many in the second, but many I also want, which I should be very glad to understand. But if herein I desire any thing disagreeable, I beg sir Richard’s pardon, and desist.
Ever since you first mentioned to me, that Mons. Le Clerc might be enticed into Ireland by a moderate encouragement, it has sat grievous on my spirit, that it lay not in my power to procure for him what might be worth his acceptance. I should reckon it (next to your friendship) one of the greatest glories of my life, that I could be able any ways to contribute to transplanting him hither. The other day I ventured to mention it to a great prelate here, the bishop of ——. He was pleased to favour the proposal immediately, and gave me directions, that I should inquire whether Mons. Le Clerc would be willing to take orders in our church, and to submit to the oaths and injunctions hereof; and how far he is master of the English language. He told me, he doubted not but he might procure for him 150 or 200l. per annum, in some place of ease and retirement. Be pleased therefore, dear sir, to let me be informed in these particulars, and in whatever else you think requisite in managing this affair.
I have protracted this letter as if I had a design to kill you, by tiring you to death. I beg your excuse for it.
Your most affectionate humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, 11 Sept. 1697.
IF you have received my reply to the bishop, before this comes to your hand, I shall need say no more to the first paragraph of your obliging letter of the 20th of July. Mr. Churchill tells me, he has taken care you should have it with speed. I have ordered another to Mr. Burridge, who has, by his undertaking, some concernment now in my Essay. I am not delighted at all in controversy, and think I could spend my time to greater advantage to myself. But being attacked, as I am, and in a way that sufficiently justifies your remarks on it, I think every body will judge I had reason to defend myself; whether I have or no, so far as I have gone, the world must judge.
I think, with you, the dissenters were best consider, “that what is sauce for a goose, is sauce for a gander.” But they are a sort of men that will always be the same.
You thank me for what is owing to your own worth. Every one who knows you, will think (if he judges right) that he receives as much advantage as he gives by the countenance he shows you. However, I am obliged by your thanks to me; for, if I do not procure you as much good as you are capable of receiving from any one that comes to you from hence, it is my want of ability, and not want of will. My heart and inclination, wherein the friendship lies, will always be such, as I can presume will not displease you, in a man whom I am very sensible you love.
Here was, the last year, a book in physic published by a young lad not twenty, who had never seen the University. It was about the motion of the muscles, with as good an explication of it as any I have yet seen. I believe I might have spoke to Mr. Churchill to send your brother one of them for the sake of the author; (for as to the subject itself, I fear I shall never see it explained to my satisfaction:) whether he did it or no, I have not yet asked; but the book itself is not worth your brother’s inquiry or acknowledgment; though being written by such an author, made it a kind of curiosity. I should be very glad if I could do him here any service of greater importance. But I having now wholly laid by the study of physic, I know not what comes out new, or worth the reading, in that faculty. Pray give my humble service to your brother, and let me know whether he hath any children; for then I shall think myself obliged to send him one of the next edition of my book of Education, which, my bookseller tells me, is out of print; and I had much rather be at leisure to make some additions to that, and my Essay on Human Understanding, than be employed to defend myself against the groundless, and, as others think, trifling quarrel of the bishop. But his lordship is pleased to have it otherwise, and I must answer for myself as well as I can, till I have the good luck to be convinced.
I was not a little pleased to find what thoughts you had concerning hypotheses in physic. Though sir R. B.’s vein in poetry be what every body must allow him to have an extraordinary talent in, and though with you I exceedingly valued his first preface; yet I must own to you, there was nothing that I so much admired him for, as for what he says of hypotheses in his last. It seems to me so right, and is yet so much out of the way of the ordinary writers, and practitioners in that faculty, that it shows as great a strength and penetration of judgment, as his poetry has showed flights of fancy; and therefore I was very glad to find in you the same thoughts of it. And when he comes luckily in my way, I shall not forget your wishes, and shall acquaint him with the observations you mention. And the key you desire I shall send you, if it be fit to be asked of him, which I am at present in some doubt of.
Though I could myself answer many of your questions concerning Mons. Le Clerc; yet I have sent them to him himself, with the reason of them. I have not yet received his answer, the expectation whereof has delayed my writing to you for some time. In the mean time, till I hear from him, I thank you in his name and my own.
I shall be very glad to hear from you how the linen manufacture goes on, on that side the water, and what assistance the parliament there is like to give to it; for I wish prosperity to your country, and very particularly all manner of happiness to you. I am unfeignedly,
Your most affectionate humble servant,
What I told you formerly of a storm coming against my book, proves no fiction. Besides what you will see I have taken notice of in my reply, Mr. Serjeant, a popish priest, whom you must needs have heard of, has bestowed a thick 8vo. upon my Essay, and Mr. Norris, as I hear, is writing hard against it. Shall I not be quite slain, think you, amongst so many notable combatants, and the Lord knows how many more to come?
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Sept. 11, 1697.
MY last to you was of July 20, since which time I have not had the happiness of a line from you. But I am satisfied you are better employed; and indeed, when I see daily what swarms of angry wasps do arise against you, (besides many which reach not our view in this place,) I wonder not that you should be so far engaged as to have little time to throw away on me. The other day I met with the last effort of Mr. Edwards’s malice; I do now heartily pity the poor wretch; he is certainly mad, and no more to be taken notice of hereafter, than the railings of Oliver’s porter in Bethlem. I have seen also a philosophical writer against you, of another strain, one J. S. that writes against all ideists; this gentleman, though civil, yet to me is absolutely unintelligible, so unfortunate I am. Who he is I know not, but should be glad to learn from you; and what you think, in general, of his book.
Mr. T—— is, at last, driven out of our kingdom; the poor gentleman, by his imprudent management, had raised such an universal outcry, that it was even dangerous for a man to have been known once to converse with him. This made all wary men of reputation decline seeing him; insomuch that at last he wanted a meal’s meat, (as I am told,) and none would admit him to their tables. The little stock of money which he brought into this country being exhausted, he fell to borrowing from any one that would lend him half a crown, and run in debt for his wigs, cloaths, and lodging, (as I am informed,) and last of all, to complete his hardships, the parliament fell on his book, voted it to be burnt by the common hangman, and ordered the author to be taken into custody of the serjeant at arms, and to be prosecuted by the attorney-general at law. Hereupon he is fled out of this kingdom, and none here knows where he has directed his course. I did believe you might be a stranger to these proceedings a great while, unless I had intimated them to you; and that is one of my designs in writing this to you.
I am here very happy in the friendship of an honourable person, Mr. Molesworth, who is an hearty admirer and acquaintance of yours. We never meet but we remember you; he sometimes comes into my house, and tells me, it is not to pay a visit to me, but to pay his devotion to your image that is in my dining-room.
I should be glad to hear farther from you, concerning Mons. Le Clerc and Mons. Coste, in relation to what I formerly writ to you concerning those gentlemen.
I am, SIR,
Your most obliged, humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Oct. 4, 1697.
I PERCEIVE we were each of us mindful of the other on the 11th of the last month, for of that date was your last to me, as you will find mine likewise to you bore the same.
You have already answered some of my impertinent inquiries in that letter; you tell me therein, who J. S. is that writes against you. I do not now wonder at the confusedness of his notions, or that they should be unintelligible to me. I should have much more admired, had they been otherwise. I expect nothing from Mr. Serjeant but what is abstruse in the highest degree.
I look for nothing else from Mr. Norris; I thought that gentleman had enough on it, in his first attempt on your Essay; but he is so over-run with father Malebranche, and Plato, that it is in vain to endeavour to set him right, and I give him up as an inconvincible enemy.
But, above all these, I should wonder at the bishop of Worcester’s obstinacy, did I not think that I partly know the reason thereof. He has been an old soldier in controversies, and has hitherto had the good luck of victory; but now in the latter end of his wars, to be laid on his back (as he thinks the world would certainly say, unless he has the last word) would wither all his former laurels, and lose his glory. Your reply to him is not yet come to hand; but I can wait with the more patience, because I am pretty well satisfied in the matter already.
I am very glad to understand that we are to expect another Edition of your Education, with additions. I never thought you writ too much on any subject whatever.
I have formerly written to you, to know farther concerning Mons. Coste, who translated some of your books into French. I fancy, by that gentleman’s inclinations to your works, he and I should agree very well. Pray let me know, whether to his Belles Lettres he has any skill in the mathematics, natural history, &c. as also what his circumstances are, as to his education, parentage, &c. For, according to these, I may judge whether I can give him any encouragement to come hither.
You had been troubled with this letter sooner, but that I waited for the enclosed, to satisfy your inquiry concerning our linen manufacture. You will find thereby, that we have framed a bill to be enacted for the encouragement thereof. This bill is now before the council of England, pursuant to our constitution of parliament. What alterations, additions, and amendments it may receive there, we know not; but I am apt to think you will have the consideration and modelling thereof at your committee of trade. We are very sensible, that the act we have drawn up (whereof the enclosed are the heads) is not so perfect and complete as it may be; but this we thought a fair beginning to so great an attempt, and that time must be given for a farther progress, and carrying it higher, by additional laws, as occasion may require. The woollen manufacture of England was not established at that high pitch, (to which now it is raised,) by any one law, or any one generation. It must be so with us in relation to our linen; but this, we hope, may be a fair step towards it: “Est aliquid prodire tenus, &c.”
James Hamilton of Tullymore, esq. is an indefatigable promoter of this design, and I may say indeed the whole scheme is owing to his contrivance. He is an hearty admirer of yours, and communicated to me the enclosed abstract purposely for your satisfaction; desiring me with it to give you his most humble service, and to request of you your thoughts concerning this matter, by the first leisure you can spare.
Whilst our house of commons were framing this bill, our lords justices communicated to us some papers which they had received from the lords justices of England, laid before them by your board. But these papers coming in a little too late, when we had just closed the bill, and a very little time before our last adjournment for three weeks; all we did with them was to remit them again to our lords justices and council, with the houses desire, that if their lordships should think fit to excerp any thing out of those papers, and add it to our act, whilst they had it before them, in order to be transmitted into England, their lordships might do therein as they pleased, and the house would agree to any such additions, when the act came before us transmitted in due form under the seal of England. Whether the lords justices will make any such additions out of those papers, I cannot yet tell; but I am sure there were many things in those papers that highly deserved to be put in execution.
My brother gives you his most humble service, and should be very proud of the present of your Education. For though he has yet only two daughters, yet he is in hopes of many sons; and the girls minds require as much framing as the boys, and by the same rules: and that I take to be the chief part of education. I am,
Yours most sincerely,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Oct. 28, 1697.
My most honoured Friend,
IF men could destroy by a quill, as they say porcupines do, I should think your death not very far off. But whatever venom they mix with their ink against you, I hope it is not mortal; I am sure in my opinion it is not the least harmful or dangerous. Your Reply to the bishop of Worcester shows how vainly the mightiest champion spends his darts at you, and with what force and strength of reason you return them on their own heads. But notwithstanding this, I verily believe he will offer again at his weak efforts; for he that was so fully possessed of his own sufficiency, as to think he could deal with the first letter to him, will certainly never lay down the cudgels till his blood be about his ears: and if he thought himself obliged in honour to justify his first blunders, much more will he think himself so now, when he is thrown over head and ears in the mire. To pass by all the rest of your Reply, (wherein you have given him many a severe wound,) I think he is no-where so clearly and disgracefully foiled, as by the conversation between you and your friend concerning his notions of nature and person. But, above all, the consequence you draw from thence, of his being obliged to write against his own Vindication of the Trinity, must needs wound him to the heart; and indeed I do not see how it is possible for him to avoid the force of that blow, by all his art and cunning. Yet write he will, I am sure on it, and pour forth abundance of words; but so he may for ever. I envy not the place of his amanuensis.
But all this while I have forgot to return you my acknowledgments for the favour of your book. I am extremely obliged to you for remembering me amongst your other friends, whenever you are pleased to oblige the learned world with any of your happy thoughts. I had no sooner perused them, but they were snatched out of my hands by my lord chancellor, (so covetous are all men of whatever comes from you,) and he has them yet.
Amongst the other small craft that appears against you, I met with one J. H.’s State of England, in relation to coin and trade. I hear the author’s name is Hodges. He is much of a class in this particular, as Mr. Serjeant, in relation to your Essay, that is, both to me unintelligible.
The enclosed is a sample of what this place produces against you: I wish you may not say, that it resembles our mountains and bogs, in being barren and useless. I have ventured to send you my short answer thereto: for a longer I think it did not deserve. I have not seen the bishop since this has passed; but we are so good friends that this business will cause no anger between us. I am
Your most obliged and humble servant,
Bishop of ———’s Letter to Mr. Molyneux.
Johnstown, Oct. 26, 1697.
I HAVE met with Mr. Locke’s Reply to the bishop of Worcester, and have had leisure to look it over here. I meddle not with the controversy between them, but confess I am a little surprized at what I find p. 95 and 96, where we have these words: “To talk of the certainty of faith, seems all one to me, as to talk of the knowledge of believing.” And, “When it is brought to certainty, faith is destroyed:” And, “Bring it to certainty, and it ceases to be faith.” And he in terms owns, p. 39, “With me to know and to be certain, is the same thing; what I know, that I am certain of; and what I am certain of, that I know.” And p. 92, “Knowledge I find in myself, and I conceive in others, consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of the immediate objects of the mind in thinking, which I call ideas.” And, p. 38, “Certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas.” Now to me it seems, that according to Mr. Locke I cannot be said to know any thing except there be two ideas in my mind, and all the knowledge I have must be concerning the relation these two ideas have to one another, and that I can be certain of nothing else; which, in my opinion, excludes all certainty of sense and of single ideas, all certainty of consciousness, such as willing, believing, knowing, &c. and, as he confesses, all certainty of faith; and lastly, all certainty of remembrance, of what I have formerly demonstrated, as soon as I have forgot, or do not actually think of the demonstration. For I suppose you are well aware, that in demonstrating mathematical propositions, it is not always from actual perception of the agreement of ideas, that we assume other propositions formerly demonstrated to infer the conclusion, but from memory: and yet we do not think ourselves less certain on that account. If this be the importance of Mr. L.’s words, as it seems to me to be, then we are not certain of the acts of our mind; we are not certain of any thing that remains in our minds merely by the strength of our memory; and lastly, we are not certain of any proposition, though God and man witness the truth of it to us: and then judge how little certainty is left in the world, and how near this last comes to Mr. Toland’s proposition, that authority or testimony is only “a means of information, not a ground of persuasion.” For I must own, that I think I am only persuaded of the truth of a thing, in proportion to the certainty I have of it: and if knowledge and certainty be reciprocally the same, and consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas; where I do not perceive these, though God and man, nay the whole world should testify to me that they do agree or disagree, I cannot be certain of it, I must profess myself of another opinion; and I think I am as certain there was such a man as Mr. L. from the testimony of you and other circumstances, though I perceive no agreement or disagreement in this case between the two ideas, to convince me of his being; as that the three angles of a straight-lined triangle are equal to two right angles, where I actually perceive the agreement, or rather equality: or, that the area of a cyclois is equal to triple the generating circle, of which I am certain by memory, though I do not at present perceive the demonstration, or any agreement between the ideas of three circles and a cyclois, only remember that I once perceived it.
Let me farther add, that agreement and disagreement are metaphorical terms when applied to ideas; for agreement properly, I think, either signifies, first, a compact between two persons; or, secondly, two things fitting one another, as the two parts of a tally; or, thirdly, the likeness of two things, as of a pair of coach-horses; or, fourthly, the aptitude of two things to support or preserve one another. So several meats agree with the stomach; but I do not find, that in a proposition the ideas have an agreement in any of these senses; and I rather think the old way of expressing this matter ought to be retained. I learned in Smiglecius, that when the “species intelligibilis” of the predicate was the same with the species of the subject, the one might be affirmed of the other: and when the “medius terminus” was the same with the one extreme term in one of the premises, and the other extreme the same with it in the other of the premises, the one might be affirmed of the other in the conclusion, because of the old axiom: “Quæ sunt idem uni tertio, sunt idem inter se.” You may use the metaphorical term of agreement here instead of identity; but Mr. L. has told us, p. 153, That “metaphorical expressions (which seldom terminate in truth) should be as much as possible avoided, when men undertake to deliver clear and distinct apprehensions, and exact notions of things.”
I do find that men’s thoughts do not differ so much as their words, and that most men are of one mind, when they come to understand one another, and have the same views; and hence many controversies are only verbal. I doubt not but by my difference from Mr. L. in this matter may be of the same nature; and perhaps, if I had carefully read his book of Human Understanding, I might perceive it; but I have neither opportunity, leisure, or inclination to do so, and believe a great part of the world to be in the same circumstances with me; and I verily believe, that the expressions I have noted in his reply, will seem unwary to them as well as to me.
I do find he claims a liberty that will not be allowed him by all, p. 92, “to please himself in his terms,” so they be used constantly “in the same and a known sense.” I remember others have claimed the same liberty under the notion of making their own dictionary; but I reckon the changing a term, though I declare my sense, and forewarn the reader of it, to be a very great injury to the world; and to introduce a new one, where there is one altogether to signify the same thing, equally injurious; and that a man has only this liberty where he introduces a new thing, that has yet no name. And I believe you see my reasons for being of this opinion, and therefore shall not mention them. Let me only observe, that the want of this caution seems to me to have brought most of Mr. L.’s trouble on him. Words were indeed arbitrary signs of things in those that first imposed them, but they are not to us. When we use the best caution we can, we are apt to transgress in changing them; and when we do so out of weakness, we must ask pardon, but must not claim it as liberty, it being really a fault. A few minutes lying on my hands, has given you this trouble; and I know your kindness to Mr. L. will not make it ungrateful to you, whilst it assures you that I am
Your most affectionate humble servant.
I could never comprehend any necessity for a criterion of certainty to the understanding, any more than of one to the eye, to teach it when it sees. Let the eye be rightly disposed, and apply an object to it, if duly applied, it will force it to see: and so apply an object to an understanding duly qualified, and if the arguments or object be as they ought to be, they will force the understanding to assent, and remove all doubts. And I can no more tell, what is in the object, or arguments, that ascertains my understanding, than I can tell what it is in light, that makes me see. I must say, that the same God that ordered light to make me see, ordered truth, or rather certain objects, to ascertain my understanding; and I believe Mr. L. can hardly give any other reason why his agreement, &c. of ideas should cause certainty.
Mr. Molyneux’s Answer to the Bishop.
Dublin, Oct. 27, 1697.
I AM extremely obliged to your lordship, that having a few minutes lying on your hands in your retirement from this town, you are pleased to bestow them on my friend and me. I should have acknowledged the favour more early, had your servant staid for an answer when he delivered yours to me; but he was gone out of my reach before I was aware of it.
And now, my lord, all the answer I shall trouble your lordship with at present is this, that your lordship is much in the right on it, that had you read Mr. Locke’s Essay of Human Understanding more carefully and throughout, you had never made the objections you raise against him in your letter to me; for your lordship would have found his fourth book abundantly satisfactory in the difficulties you propose, and particularly the 2d and 18th chapters of the fourth book, are a full answer to your lordship’s letter.
But your lordship says, you have neither opportunity, leisure, or inclination to read the Essay. My lord, I would not then have leisure or inclination to animadvert on a book, that I had not (if not inclination) at least leisure to read. This, with submission, I cannot but say is great partiality. If your lordship says, your letter relates to his reply to the bishop of Worcester; neither will this do, in my humble opinion; seeing your lordship seems to surmise (as indeed you guess rightly) that the Essay might have set you right in this matter. I am,
Your lordship’s most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Dec. 18, 1697.
IT is now above three months since I heard from you, your last being of Sept. 11. You will therefore excuse my impatience, if I can forbear no longer, and send this merely to know how you do. It is an anguishing thought to me, that you should be subject to the common frailties and fate of mankind; but it would be some alleviation to my trouble, that if you are ill, I should know the worst of it. This has so wholly taken up my mind at present, that I have no inclination to write one word more to you in this, but again to repeat my request to you, that you would let me know how you are; for till I know this, I am dissatisfied, I am extremely uneasy; but for ever shall be
Your most affectionate admirer,
and devoted servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, Jan. 10, 1697-8.
YOUR gentle and kind reproof of my silence, has greater marks of true friendship in it, than can be expressed in the most elaborate professions, or be sufficiently acknowledged by a man, who has not the opportunity nor ability to make those returns he would. Though I have had less health, and more business since I writ to you last than ever I had for so long together in my life; yet neither the one nor the other had kept me so long a truant, had not the concurrence of other causes, drilled me on from day to day, in a neglect of what I frequently purposed, and always thought myself obliged to do. Perhaps the listlessness my indisposition constantly kept me in, made me too easily hearken to such excuses; but the expectation of hearing every day from Mons. Le Clerc, that I might send you his answer, and the thoughts that I should be able to send your brother an account, that his curious treatise concerning the chafers in Ireland was printed, were at least the pretences that served to humour my laziness. Business kept me in town longer than was convenient for my health: all the day from my rising was commonly spent in that, and when I came home at night, my shortness of breath, and panting for want of it, made me ordinarily so uneasy, that I had no heart to do any thing: so that the usual diversion of my vacant hours forsook me, and reading itself was a burthen to me. In this estate I lingered along in town to December, till I betook myself to my wonted refuge, in the more favourable air and retirement of this place. That gave me presently relief against the constant oppression of my lungs, whilst I sit still: but I find such a weakness of them still remain, that if I stir ever so little, I am immediately out of breath, and the very dressing or undressing me is a labour that I am fain to rest after to recover my breath; and I have not been once out of my house since I came last hither. I wish nevertheless that you were here with me to see how well I am: for you would find, that, sitting by the fire’s side, I could bear my part in discoursing, laughing, and being merry with you, as well as ever I could in my life. If you were here (and, if wishes of more than one could bring you, you would be here to-day) you would find three or four in the parlour after dinner, who, you would say, passed their afternoons as agreeably and as jocundly as any people you have this good while met with. Do not therefore figure to yourself, that I am languishing away my last hours under an unsociable despondency and the weight of my infirmity. It is true, I do not count upon years of life to come; but I thank God I have not many uneasy hours here in the four-and-twenty; and if I can have the wit to keep myself out of the stifling air of London, I see no reason but, by the grace of God, I may get over this winter, and that terrible enemy of mine may use me no worse than the last did, which as severe, and as long as it was, let me yet see another summer.
What you say to me in yours of the 4th of October, concerning the bishop of W……, you will, I believe, be confirmed in, if his answer to my second letter, of which I shall say nothing to you yet, be got to you.
Mr. Coste is now in the house with me here, and is tutor to my lady Masham’s son. I need not, I think, answer your questions about his skill in mathematics and natural history: I think it is not much; but he is an ingenious man, and we like him very well for our purpose; and I have a particular obligation to you, for the reason why you inquired concerning him.
I come now to yours of the 28th of October, wherein you have found by this time, that you prophecied right concerning the bishop of W……, and if you can remember what you said therein, concerning abundance of words, you will not, I suppose, forbear smiling, when you read the first leaf of his last answer.
If there be not an evidence of sense and truth, which is apt and fitted to prevail on every human understanding, as far as it is open and unprejudiced; there is at least a harmony of understandings in some men, to whom sense and nonsense, truth and falsehood, appear equally in the respective discourses they meet with. This I find perfectly so between you and me, and it serves me to no small purpose to keep me in countenance. When I see a man disinterested as you are, a lover of truth as I know you to be, and one that has clearness and coherence enough of thought to make long mathematical, i. e. sure deductions, pronounce of J. H. and J. S.’s books, that they are unintelligible to you; I do not presently condemn myself of pride, prejudice, or a perfect want of understanding, for laying aside those authors, because I can find neither sense or coherence in them. If I could think that discourses and arguments to the understanding were like the several sorts of cates to different palates and stomachs, some nauseous and destructive to one, which are pleasant and restorative to another; I should no more think of books and study, and should think my time better employed at push-pin than in reading or writing. But I am convinced to the contrary: I know there is truth opposite to falsehood, that it may be found if people will, and is worth the seeking, and is not only the most valuable, but the pleasantest thing in the world. And therefore I am no more troubled and disturbed with all the dust that is raised against it, than I should be to see from the top of an high steeple, where I had clear air and sun-shine, a company of great boys or little boys (for it is all one) throw up dust in the air, which reached not me, but fell down in their own eyes.
Your answer to your friend the bishop was certainly a very fit and full one to what he had said, and I am obliged to you for it: but he nevertheless thought his objections so good, that I imagine he communicated them to my antagonist; for you will find the very same in his answer, and almost in the same words. But they will receive an answer at large in due time.
It will not be at all necessary to say any thing to you concerning the linen bill, which made so great a part of your letter of Oct. 4th, and was the whole business of that of Oct. 16th. You know (I believe) as well as I, what became of that bill. Pray return my humble thanks to Mr. Hamilton for his kind expressions concerning me, and for the favour he did me in thinking me any ways able to serve his country in that matter. I am so concerned for it, and zealous in it, that I desire you to assure him, and to believe yourself, that I will neglect no pains or interest of mine to promote it as far as I am able; and I think it a shame, that whilst Ireland is so capable to produce flax and hemp, and able to nourish the poor at so cheap a rate, and consequently to have their labour upon so easy terms, that so much money should go yearly out of the king’s dominions, to enrich foreigners, for those materials, and the manufactures made out of them, when his people of Ireland, by the advantage of their soil, situation, and plenty, might have every penny of it, if that business were but once put in the right way. I perceive by one of your letters, that you have seen the proposals for an act sent from hence. I would be very glad that you and Mr. Hamilton, or any other man, whom you know able, and a disinterested well-wisher of his country, would consider them together, and tell me whether you think that project will do, or wherein it is either impracticable or will fail, and what may be added or altered in it to make it effectual to that end. I know, to a man, a stranger to your country, as I am, many things may be overseen, which by reason of the circumstances of the place, or state of the people, may in practice have real difficulties. If there be any such in regard of that project, you will do me a favour to inform me of them. The short is, I mightily have it upon my heart to get the linen manufacture established in a flourishing way in your country. I am sufficiently sensible of the advantages it will be to you, and shall be doubly rejoiced in the success of it, if I should be so happy that you and I could be instrumental in it, and have the chief hand in forming any thing that might conduce to it. Employ your thoughts therefore I beseech you about it, and be assured what help I can give to it here shall be as readily and as carefully employed, as if you and I alone were to reap all the profit of it.
I have not yet heard a word from Mons. le Clerc, in answer to my inquiries, and the questions you asked, or else you had heard sooner from me. I must beg you to return my acknowledgments to Mr. Molesworth in the civilest language you can find, for the great compliment you sent me from him. If he could see my confusion as often as I read that part of your letter, that would express my sense of it better than any words I am master of. I can only say that I am his most humble servant, and I have been not a little troubled, that I could not meet with the opportunities I sought to improve the advantages I proposed to myself in an acquaintance with so ingenious and extraordinary a man as he is.
I read your brother’s treatise, which he did me the honour to put into my hands, with great pleasure, and thought it so unreasonable to rob the public of so grateful a present by any delay of mine, that I forthwith put it into Dr. Sloane’s hand to be published, and I expected to have seen it in print long ere this time. What has retarded it I have not yet heard from Dr. Sloane, who has not writ to me since I came into the country: but I make no doubt but he takes care of so curious a piece, and the world will have it speedily. I must depend on you, not only for excusing my silence to yourself, but I must be obliged to you to excuse me to your brother for not having written to him myself to thank him for the favour he did me. I hope ere long to find an opportunity to testify my respects to him more in form, which he would find I have in reality for him, if any occasion of that kind should come in my way. In the mean time I believe, if he saw the length of this letter, he would think it enough for one of a family to be persecuted by so voluminous a scribbler, and would be glad that I spared him. I am both his, and,
Your most affectionate,
and most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, March 15, 1697-8.
IN the midst of my trouble for your long silence, soon after I had writ to two or three friends to inquire after your health, I was happily relieved by yours of last January the 10th from Oates. I am heartily concerned that you passed over the last winter with so much indisposition: but I rejoice with you that you have escaped it, and hope you will yet pass over many more. I could make to you great complaints likewise of my own late illness; but they are all drowned in this one, that I am hindered for a while in seeking a remedy for them. I fully purposed to be at the Bath this spring early, but I am disappointed at present, and cannot stir from hence till my lord chancellor Methwin return to this kingdom. It has pleased the young lord Woodstock, by directions from his majesty, to choose my lord chancellor Methwin, Mr. Van Homrigh, present lord mayor of this city, and myself, to be his guardians, and managers of his affairs in this kingdom. Nothing can be done without two of us; so I am tied by the leg. Were it only in my health that I am disappointed, I could the easier bear it; but I am delayed from embracing my dear friend, which is most grievous of all. Yet I hope it will be so but for a time; but if my lord chancellor comes over in any convenient season, I will certainly get loose. But this I cannot hope for till the parliament in England rises. I should be glad to know from you when that is expected; for indeed they bear very hard upon us in Ireland. How justly they can bind us without our consent and representatives, I leave the author of the Two Treatises of Government to consider. But of this I shall trouble you farther another time, for you will hear more hereafter.
I have seen the bishop of Worcester’s answer to your second letter. It is of a piece with the rest, and you know my thoughts of them already. I begin to be almost of old Hobbes’s opinion, that, were it men’s interest, they would question the truth of Euclid’s Elements, as now they contest almost as full evidences.
I am very glad Mons. Coste is so well settled as you tell me; I designed fully to invite him over hither; and if you know any other ingenious Frenchman of that sort, or any such hereafter comes to your knowledge, I should be very glad you would give me intimation thereof.
I had certainly answered that part of your letter relating to the linen manufacture, but that I daily expected to do it more effectually by Mr. Hamilton himself, who gave me hopes of his going into England, and was resolved personally to wait on you about it. He is master of the whole mystery (and that I cannot pretend to be) and would have discoursed you most satisfactorily concerning it. I promised him a letter to you whenever he goes over, which will now be very speedily, and then I doubt not but you will concert matters together much for the good of this poor kingdom.
My brother gives you his most humble service, and thanks you for the care you took about his discourse concerning chafers. We hear from Dr. Sloane that it is printed. I am
Your most humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
Oates, April 6, 1698.
THERE is none of the letters that ever I received from you gave me so much trouble as your last of March 15. I was told that you resolved to come into England early in the spring, and lived in the hopes of it more than you can imagine. I do not mean that I had greater hopes of it than you can imagine; but it enlivened me, and contributed to the support of my spirits more than you can think. But your letter has quite dejected me again. The thing I above all things long for, is to see, and embrace, and have some discourse with you before I go out of this world. I meet with so few capable of truth, or worthy of a free conversation, such as becomes lovers of truth, that you cannot think it strange if I wish for some time with you, for the exposing, sifting, and rectifying of my thoughts. If they have gone any thing farther in the discovery of truth than what I have already published, it must be by your encouragement that I must go on to finish some things that I have already begun; and with you I hoped to discourse my other yet crude and imperfect thoughts, in which if there were any thing useful to mankind, if they were opened and deposited with you, I know them safe lodged for the advantage of truth some time or other. For I am in doubt whether it be fit for me to trouble the press with any new matter; or if I did, I look on my life as so near worn out, that it would be folly to hope to finish any thing of moment in the small remainder of it. I hoped therefore, as I said, to have seen you, and unravelled to you that which lying in the lump unexplicated in my mind, I scarce yet know what it is myself; for I have often had experience, that a man cannot well judge of his own notions, till either by setting them down in paper, or in discoursing them to a friend, he has drawn them out, and as it were spread them fairly before himself. As for writing, my ill health gives me little heart or opportunity for it; and of seeing you I begin now to despair. And that which very much adds to my affliction in the case is, that you neglect your own health on considerations, I am sure, that are not worth your health; for nothing, if expectations were certainties, can be worth it. I see no likelihood of the parliament’s rising yet this good while; and when they are up, who knows whether the man, you expect to relieve you, will come to you presently, or at all. You must therefore lay by that business for a while which detains you, or get some other body into it, if you will take that care of your health this summer which you designed, and it seems to require: and if you defer it till the next, who knows but your care of it may then come too late. There is nothing that we are such spendthrifts of as of health; we spare every thing sooner than that, though whatever we sacrifice it to is worth nothing without it. Pardon me the liberty I take with you: you have given me an interest in you; and it is a thing of too much value to me, to look coldly on, whilst you are running into any inconvenience or danger, and say nothing. If that could be any spur to you to hasten your journey hither, I would tell you I have an answer ready for the press, which I should be glad you should see first. It is too long: the plenty of matter of all sorts, which the gentleman affords me, is the cause of its too great length, though I have passed by many things worthy of remarks: but what may be spared of what there is, I would be glad should be blotted out by your hand. But this between us.
Amongst other things I would be glad to talk with you about before I die, is that which you suggest at the bottom of the first page of your letter. I am mightily concerned for the place meant in the question, you say you will ask the author of the treatise you mentioned, and wish extremely well to it; and would be very glad to be informed by you what would be best for it, and debate with you the ways to compose it. But this cannot be done by letters; the subject is of too great extent, the views too large, and the particulars too many to be so managed. Come therefore yourself, and come as well prepared in that matter as you can. But if you talk with others on that point there, mention not me to any body on that subject; only let you and I try what good we can do for those whom we wish well to. Great things have sometimes been brought about from small beginnings well laid together.
Pray present my most humble service to your brother; I should be glad of an opportunity to do him some service. That which he thanks me for, in my care about his discourse concerning the chafers, was a service to the public, and he owes me no thanks for it. I am,
Your faithful, and most humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, April 19, 1698.
Most honoured dear Sir,
I HAVE formerly had thoughts of coming into England, as I have told you on occasion of my health. But since the receipt of yours of April 6, which came to my hands but this morning, that consideration weighs but little with me. The desire of seeing and conversing with you, has drowned all other expectations from my journey, and now I am resolved to accomplish it, let what will come on it. Your persuasions and arguments I think have something in them of incantation: I am sure their charms are so powerful on me on all occasions, I can never resist them. I shall therefore embrace you, God willing, as soon as ever the parliament of England rises. I fix this period now, not so much in expectation of our chancellor’s arrival, as on another account. My dear friend must therefore know, that the consideration of what I mentioned in my last, from the incomparable author of the Treatise, &c. has moved me to put pen to paper, and commit some thoughts of mine on that subject to the press in a small 8vo. intitled, “The Case of Ireland’s being bound by Acts of Parliament in England stated.” This you’ll say is a nice subject, but I think I have treated it with that caution and submission, that it cannot justly give any offence; insomuch that I scruple not to put my name to it; and by advice of some good friends here, have presumed to dedicate it to his Majesty. I have ordered some of them to Mr. Churchill, to be presented to you and some of your friends; and they are now upon the road towards you. I have been very free in giving you my thoughts on your pieces; I should be extremely obliged to you for the like freedom on your side upon mine. I cannot pretend this to be an accomplished performance; it was done in haste, and intended to overtake the proceedings at Westminster; but it comes too late for that: what effect it may possibly have in time to come, God and the wise council of England only know; but were it again under my hands, I could considerably amend and add to it. But till I either see how the parliament at Westminster is pleased to take it, or till I see them risen, I do not think it adviseable for me to go on t’other side the water. Though I am not apprehensive of any mischief from them, yet God only knows what resentments captious men may take on such occasions.
My brother gives you his most respectful service: he has now ready a discourse on our giant’s causeway, which indeed is a stupendous natural rarity: he has addressed it to Dr. Lister; but you will soon see it in the transactions.
Mr. Burridge goes on now with some speed: I had lately an occasion of writing to Mr. Churchill, and I gave him an account of his progress. I hope the whole will be finished soon after Midsummer; and indeed in my opinion he performs it incomparably. I am,
Your most affectionate humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, July 9, 1698.
I AM just come to London, where your former promise, and what Mr. Churchill since tells me, makes me hope to see you speedily. I long mightily to welcome you hither, and to remit, to that happy time, abundance that I may say to you. For I am,
Your most affectionate, humble servant,
Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Honoured dear Sir,
Dublin, Sept. 20, 1698.
I ARRIVED here safely the 15th instant; and now that the ruffling and fatigue of my journey is a little over, I sit down to a task, which I must confess is the hardest I was ever under in my life; I mean, expressing my thanks to you suitable to the favours I received from you, and suitable to the inward sense I have of them in my mind. Were it possible for me to do either, I should in some measure be satisfied; but my inability of paying my debts, makes me ashamed to appear before my creditor. However, thus much, with the strictest sincerity, I will venture to assert to you, that I cannot recollect, through the whole course of my life, such signal instances of real friendship, as when I had the happiness of your company for five weeks together in London. It is with the greatest satisfaction imaginable that I recollect what then passed between us, and I reckon it the happiest scene of my whole life. That part thereof, especially, which I passed at Oates, has made such an agreeable impression on my mind, that nothing can be more pleasing. To all in that excellent family, I beseech you, give my most humble respects. It is my duty to make my acknowledgments there in a particular letter; but I beg of you to make my excuse for omitting it at this time, because I am a little pressed by some business that is thrown upon me since my arrival. To which also you are obliged for not being troubled at present with a more tedious letter from,
Your most obliged,
and entirely affectionate friend and servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.
London, Sept. 29, 1698.
YOURS of the 20th has now discharged me from my daily employment of looking upon the weather-cock, and hearkening how loud the wind blowed. Though I do not like this distance, and such a ditch betwixt us, yet I am glad to hear that you are safe and sound on the other side the water. But pray speak not in so magnificent and courtly a style of what you received from me here. I lived with you, and treated you as my friend, and therefore used no ceremony, nor can receive any thanks but what I owe you doubly, both for your company, and the pains you were at to bestow that happiness on me. If you keep your word, and do me the same kindness again next year, I shall have reason to think you value me more than you say, though you say more than I can with modesty read.
I find you were beset with business when you writ your letter to me, and do not wonder at it; but yet, for all that, I cannot forgive your silence concerning your health and your son. My service to him, your brother, and Mr. Burridge, and do me the justice to believe, that I am, with a perfect affection,
Your most humble and most faithful servant,
Mr. Locke to Mr. Burridge.
Oates, October 27, 1698.
YOU guessed not amiss, when you said, in the beginning of yours of the 13th instant, that you gave me the trouble of a letter; for I have received few letters in my life, the contents whereof have so much troubled and afflicted me, as that of yours. I parted with my excellent friend, when he went from England, with all the hopes and promises, to myself, of seeing him again, and enjoying him longer in the next spring. This was a satisfaction that helped me to bear our separation; and the short taste I had of him here, in this our first interview, I hoped would be made up in a longer conversation, which he promised me the next time: but it has served only to give me a greater sense of my loss, in an eternal farewell in this world. Your earlier acquaintance may have given you a longer knowledge of his virtue and excellent endowments; a fuller sight, or greater esteem of them, you could not have than I. His worth, and his friendship to me, made him an inestimable treasure, which I must regret the loss of, the little remainder of my life, without any hopes of repairing it any way. I should be glad, if what I owed the father could enable me to do any service to his son. He deserves it for his own sake (his father has more than once talked to me of him) as well as for his father’s. I desire you therefore to assure those who have the care of him, that if there be any thing wherein I, at this distance, may be any way serviceable to young Mr. Molyneux, they cannot do me a greater pleasure than to give me the opportunity to show, that my friendship died not with him.
Pray give my most humble service to Dr. Molyneux, and to his nephew. I am,
Your most faithful and humble servant,
Dr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Aug. 27, 1692.
I AM very sensible of your great civility in remembering me upon so short an acquaintance as I had with you in Holland, so long time since; and I assure you, without any compliment, I reckon it amongst the most fortunate accidents of my life, my so luckily falling into your conversation, which was so candid, diverting, and instructive, that I still reap the benefit and satisfaction of it. Some years after I left you in Holland, upon my return for England, I contracted no small intimacy with Dr. Sydenham, on the account of having been known to you his much esteemed friend; and I found him so accurate an observer of diseases, so thoroughly skilled in all useful knowledge of his profession, and withal so communicative, that his acquaintance was a very great advantage to me: and all this I chiefly owe to you, Sir, besides the information of many useful truths, and a great deal of very pleasing entertainment I have met with, in the perusal of your lately published writings; so that, on many accounts, I must needs say, there are very few men in the world, to whom I can, with the like sincerity, profess myself to be, as I am,
Your most real friend,
and very humble and obliged servant,
Mr. Locke to Dr. Molyneux.
Oates, Nov. 1, 1692.
THE indisposition of my health, which drove me out of London, and keeps me still in the country, must be an excuse for my so long silence. The very great civility you express to me in your letter, makes me hope your pardon for the slowness of my answer, whereby I hope you will not measure the esteem and respect I have for you. That your own distinguishing merit, amongst the rest of my countrymen I met with at Leyden, has so settled in me, that before the occasion your brother’s favour lately gave me to inquire after you, I often remembered you, and it was not without regret I considered you at a distance that allowed me not the hopes of renewing and improving my acquaintance with you. There being nothing I value so much, as ingenious knowing men, think it not strange that I laid old on the first opportunity to bring myself again into your thoughts. You must take it as an exercise of your goodness, drawn on you by your own merit; for, whatever satisfaction I gain to myself in having recovered you again, I can propose no advantage to you, in the offer of a very useless and infirm acquaintance, who can only boast that he very much esteems you.
That which I always thought of Dr. Sydenham living, I find the world allows him now he is dead, and that he deserved all that you say of him. I hope the age has many who will follow his example, and by the way of accurate practical observation, as he has so happily begun, enlarge the history of diseases, and improve the art of physic, and not by speculative hypotheses fill the world with useless, though pleasing visions. Something of this kind permit me to promise myself one day from your judicious pen. I know nothing that has so great an encouragement from mankind as this.
I beg you to present my most humble service to your brother, whom I forbear now to interrupt, in the midst of his parliamentary affairs, whereof I know a great part must fall to his share, with my thanks for the favour of his of the 15th of October, which lately found me out safe here. Let him know that I am exceedingly sensible of the obligation, and shall at large make my acknowledgments to him as soon as good manners will allow it. I am,
Your most humble and most faithful servant,
Dr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Sept. 20, 1692.
I AM much concerned to hear you have your health no better, and on this occasion cannot but deplore the great losses the intellectual word in all ages has suffered, by the strongest and soundest minds possessing the most infirm and sickly bodies. Certainly there must be some very powerful cause for this in nature, or else we could not have so many instances, where the knife cuts the sheath, as the French materially express it: and if so, this must be reckoned among the many other inseparable miseries that attend human affairs.
I could wish the physician’s art were so powerful and perfect, as, in some measure, to prevent so great an evil; but we find where once nature, or the “Oeconomia Animalis” of the body, is so depraved, as not to cooperate with medicine, all remedies, and the courses of them, prove wholly ineffectual, or to very little purpose. But still the more imperfect physic is, so much the more is owing to those, who in the least improve so difficult a province, which certainly has been considerably advanced by some late English authors; and that puts me in mind to desire of you your thoughts, or what other learned physicians you converse with say, concerning Dr. Morton and his late Exercitations on Fevers. As for his general theory of them, I esteem it, as all others of this kind, a sort of mere waking dream, that men are strangely apt to fall into, when they think long of a subject, beginning quite at the wrong end; for by framing such conceits in their fancies, they vainly think to give their understandings light, whilst the things themselves are still, and perhaps ever must remain, in darkness.
In his first exercitation that treats of agues, I don’t find he has said any thing very material, or worth notice, that the world did not sufficiently know before, unless it were some histories of the irregular shapes and symptoms this distemper appears under, which I think may be very instructive to the physician, and of great ease and advantage to the sick.
But his practical remarks in his second exercitation about continuing and remitting fevers, if they be judiciously founded upon many and steady observations, so that they may safely pass into a rule, must certainly be of great moment in directing the management and cure of fevers. I confess my experience in this distemper as yet falls something too short for to determine positively, whether all his observations be real and well grounded; but, as far as I can judge at present, several of them do hold good.
I remember to have heard Dr. Morton was once a presbyterian preacher; and though he were, this does not make him a jot the less capable in above twenty years practice, to have carefully observed the accidents that naturally occur in the progress of a disease; and if he be but a true and judicious register, it is all I desire from him.
You see I have taken great freedom in giving a character according to my apprehensions of this author, but it is only to encourage you to use the same liberty; for if, at your leisure, you would let me know your own thoughts, or what other candid men say concerning him and his methods of cure, or any other useful tract that comes abroad, you will extremely oblige,
Your most obedient humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Dr. Molyneux.
Oates, Jan. 20, 1692-3.
I MUST acknowledge the care you take of my health, in a way wherein you so kindly apply to my mind; and if I could persuade myself that my weak constitution was owing to that strength of mind you ascribe to me, or accompanied with it, I should find therein, if not a remedy, yet a great relief against the infirmities of my body. However, I am not the less obliged to you for so friendly an application; and if the cordial you prescribe be not to be had (for I know none equal to a judicious and capacious mind) your kindness is not to be blamed, who I am confident wish me that satisfaction, or any thing else that could contribute to my health.
The doctor, concerning whom you inquire of me, had, I remember, when I lived in town, and conversed among the physicians there, a good reputation amongst those of his own faculty. I can say nothing of his late book of fevers, having not read it myself, nor heard it spoke of by others: but I perfectly agree with you concerning general theories, that they are, for the most part, but a sort of waking dreams, with which, when men have warmed their own heads, they pass into unquestionable truths, and then the ignorant world must be set right by them. Though this be, as you rightly observe, beginning at the wrong end, when men lay the foundation in their own fancies, and then endeavour to suit the phenomena of diseases, and the cure of them, to those fancies. I wonder that, after the pattern Dr. Sydenham has set them of a better way, men should return again to that romance way of physic. But I see it is easier and more natural, for men to build castles in the air, of their own, than to survey well those that are to be found standing. Nicely to observe the history of diseases in all their changes and circumstances, is a work of time, accurateness, attention, and judgment, and wherein if men, through prepossession or oscitancy, mistake, they may be convinced of their errour by unerring nature and matter of fact, which leaves less room for the subtlety and dispute of words, which serves very much instead of knowledge, in the learned world, where, methinks, wit and invention has much the preference to truth. Upon such grounds as are the established history of diseases, hypotheses might with less danger be erected, which I think are so far useful, as they serve as an art of memory to direct the physician in particular cases, but not to be relied on as foundations of reasoning, or verities to be contended for; they being, I think I may say all of them, suppositions taken up gratis, and will so remain, till we can discover how the natural functions of the body are performed, and by what alteration of the humours, or defects in the parts, they are hindered or disordered. To which purpose, I fear the Galenists four humours, or the chemists sal, sulphur, and mercury, or the late prevailing invention of acid and alcali, or whatever hereafter shall be substituted to these with new applause, will, upon examination, be found to be but so many learned empty sounds, with no precise determinate signification. What we know of the works of nature, especially in the constitution of health, and the operations of our own bodies, is only by the sensible effects, but not by any certainty we can have of the tools she uses, or the ways she works by. So that there is nothing left for a physician to do, but to observe well, and so, by analogy, argue to like cases, and thence make to himself rules of practice: and he that is this way most sagacious, will, I imagine, make the best physician, though he should entertain distinct hypotheses concerning distinct species of diseases, subservient to this end, that were inconsistent one with another; they being made use of in those several sorts of diseases, but as distinct arts of memory, in those cases. And I the rather say this, that they might be relied on only as artificial helps to a physician, and not as philosophical truths to a naturalist. But, sir, I run too far, and must beg your pardon for talking so freely on a subject you understand so much better than I do. I hoped the way of treating of diseases, which, with so much approbation, Dr. Sydenham had introduced into the world, would have beaten the other out, and turned men from visions and wrangling to observation, and endeavouring after settled practices in more diseases; such as I think he has given us in some. If my zeal for the saving men’s lives, and preserving their health (which is infinitely to be preferred to any speculations ever so fine in physic) has carried me too far, you will excuse it in one who wishes well to the practice of physic, though he meddles not with it. I wish you and your brother, and all yours, a very happy new-year, and am,
Your most humble and faithful servant,
Dr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Nov. 4, 1693.
FOR a while I deferred making any return for the favour of your last letter, on the account I understood, by one of yours to my brother, that I was suddenly to expect another obligation from you by the receipt of your Treatise of Education, which yesterday first came to my hands; and now I return you my hearty thanks for both your kindnesses together, of which should I express the real thoughts I have, I should seem to run either into extravagant compliment, or gross flattery: but thus much I must needs say, that as your letter certainly contains, in short, the only true method for the prosecuting the curing part of the practice of physic, and the sure way of improving it; a matter of the chiefest good, in relation to men’s bodies; so your book of education lays down such rules for the breeding of youth as, if followed, must necessarily prove of the greatest advantage to the better part of man, the mind, by insensibly disposing it to an habitual exercise of what is virtuous and laudable, and the acquisition of all such knowledge as is necessary for one’s own good, or that of others whom we are to converse with. Whence I cannot but think, had those of our own countries but a thorough persuasion, and a right sense of the great benefit that redounds from a cheerful education, so as universally to put it in practice; without question, we should soon become a nation as remarkably different from the rest of the word, for the inward endowments of our minds, and the rectitude of our manners, as the negroes are from the rest of mankind, for their outward shape and colour of body. But this, I fear, is a happiness only to be wished for; however, he that makes it his endeavour to promote so great a good, by showing the certain way to it, if they will follow him, justly deserves the high esteem of all that know how to value a truly public spirit.
I hope, sir, you have your health better, and that we may suddenly have abroad your Essay of Human Understanding, with those farther additions and alterations you have some time since designed for the press: I am confident it is impatiently expected by all that are acquainted with your writings, and that peculiar clear manner of delivering truth you are so much master of, but by none more than,
Your most faithful humble servant,
Dr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Oct. 25, 1697.
I SHOULD oftener make acknowledgments to you for your favours, and express the great esteem I bear you, but that this barren place affords little else to say: and this I cannot think reason enough to trouble one so busy and usefully engaged as you always are. Yet I would not omit thanking you, by this worthy gentleman, Mr. Berrisford, your acquaintance, for a present of a book, I understand by my brother, you designed for me, though I was so unlucky as to miss of it; and also communicate to you the enclosed letter, which the bishop of Clogher was pleased (perhaps out of his too partial friendship) to tell me deserved to be made public, and desired me accordingly to transmit it to Dr. Sloane: but this I would not do, unless it have your approbation also; so that it is wholly at your disposal to do with it as you please, as is likewise,
Your very affectionate friend,
and humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Dr. Molyneux.
Oates, Oct. 27, 1698.
DEATH has, with a violent hand, hastily snatched from you a dear brother. I doubt not but, on this occasion, you need all the consolation can be given to one unexpectedly bereft of so worthy and near a relation. Whatever inclination I may have to alleviate your sorrow, I bear too great a share in the loss, and am too sensibly touched with it myself, to be in a condition to discourse you on this subject, or do any thing but mingle my tears with yours. I have lost, in your brother, not only an ingenious and learned acquaintance, that all the world esteemed; but an intimate and sincere friend, whom I truly loved, and by whom I was truly loved: and what a loss that is, those only can be sensible who know how valuable, and how scarce, a true friend is, and how far to be preferred to all other sorts of treasure. He has left a son, who I know was dear to him, and deserved to be so as much as was possible, for one of his age. I cannot think myself wholly incapacitated from paying some of the affection and service that was due from me to my dear friend, as long as he has a child, or a brother, in the world. If, therefore, there be any thing, at this distance, wherein I, in my little sphere, may be able to serve your nephew or you, I beg you, by the memory of our deceased friend, to let me know it, that you may see that one who loved him so well, cannot but be tenderly concerned for his son, nor be otherwise than I am,
Your most humble, and
most affectionate servant,
Dr. Molyneux to Mr. Locke.
Dublin, Nov. 26, 1698.
AS you have a true sense of every thing, so you were very much in the right, when you tell me, in the letter you favoured me with of the 27th of last month, that I needed all the consolation could be given one that had lost so unexpectedly a dear and only brother. His death indeed has been a severe affliction to me; and though I have you, and many more, that bear a great share with me in my sorrow, yet this does no way alleviate it, but makes it fall the heavier upon me; for it doubles my grief to think what an unspeakable loss he must be to so near a relation, that is so much lamented by those that were only acquainted with him. I could not believe that mortality could have made so deep an impression on me, whose profession leads into so thorough a familiarity with it; but I find a passionate affection surmounts all this, and the “tecum obeam lubens,” though it was the expression of a poet, yet I am sensible was a very natural one, where we love extremely, and the Indians prove it no less in fact. Could any outward circumstance of his life have increased that brotherly affection I had for him, it must have been that he had so great a part in your friendship, who must be allowed to have a nice judgment in discerning the true characters and worth of men. He frequently, in his life-time, has expressed to me with great complacency of mind, how happy he thought himself in your acquaintance; and he spoke of you several times, during his short sickness, with great respect. With his own hand he has writ this clause in his will: “I give and bequeath to my excellent friend John Locke, esq. author of the Essay concerning Human Understanding, the sum of five pounds, to buy him a ring, in memory of the value and esteem I had for him.” This I shall take care to send you in a bill by Mr. Churchill’s hands, when he states the account as it stands between him and my brother. The only child he has left behind him is under my care and management. I shall endeavour to discharge this trust, with all the regard to my brother’s memory, and the advantage of his child, I can: but it grieves me to think, that I must surely fall very much short of that extraordinary application and prudence his father would have shown in his education; for he made it the chiefest, and indeed the only business of his life. I have made his little son as sensible as his tender age would allow, how much he is obliged to you, his father’s friend, for your earnest desire to serve him: I wish you may both prolong your lives so, as he may one day be more thankful and capable of your kindness, by profiting much from your good instructions and advice. And since you so earnestly press me, by the memory of your deceased friend, to let you know wherein you might oblige me, I will venture to break the bounds of modesty so far, as to tell you I should be extremely pleased to receive from yourself the last edition of your incomparable Essay of Human Understanding, and such other pieces of your works as you shall think fit; for all which, as I have a great esteem, so I should have a more particular regard coming from yourself, as a private memorial of my dear brother’s friend, and of a person for whom I have such an extraordinary value, as I shall ever be proud of owning myself,
Your truly affectionate humble servant,
Mr. Locke to Dr. Molyneux.
Oates, Jan. 25, 1698-9.
I HAVE been slower in returning you my thanks for the favour of your letter of the 26th of November, and the civilities you express to me in it, than perhaps I should have been. But the truth is, my thoughts never look towards Dublin now, without casting such a cloud upon my mind, and laying such a load of fresh sorrow on me for the loss of my dear friend, your brother, that I cannot without displeasure turn them that way; and when I do it I find myself very unfit for conversation and the entertainment of a friend. It is therefore not without pain that I bring myself to write you a scurvy letter. What there wants in it of expression, you must make up out of the esteem I have for the memory of our common friend; and I desire you not to think my respects to you less, because the loss of your brother makes me not able to speak them as I would.
Since you are pleased to put such a value on my trifles, I have given order to Mr. Churchill to send you my last reply to the bishop of Worcester, and the last edition of my treatise of Education, which came forth since Mr. Molyneux’s death. I send this with the more confidence to you, because your brother told me more than once that he followed the method I therein offer to the world, in the breeding of his son. I wish you may find it fit to be continued to him, and useful to you in his education; for I cannot but be mightily concerned for the son of such a father, and wish that he may grow up into that esteem and character which his father left behind him amongst all good men who knew him. As for my Essay concerning Human Understanding, it is now out of print, and if it were not, I think I should make you but an ill compliment in sending it you less perfect than I design it should be in the next edition, in which I shall make many additions to it: and when it is as perfect as I can make it, I know not whether in sending it you, I shall not load you with a troublesome and useless present. But since by desiring it you seem to promise me your acceptance, I shall as soon as it is re-printed take the liberty to thrust it into your study. I am,
Your most humble and faithful servant,
C. Baldwin, Printer, New Bridge-street, London.