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TO THE READER 1 - John Locke, A Letter concerning Toleration and Other Writings 
A Letter concerning Toleration and Other Writings, edited and with an Introduction by Mark Goldie (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010).
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TO THE READER1
The Ensuing Letter concerning Toleration, first Printed in Latin this very Year, in Holland, has already been Translated both into Dutch and French.2So general and speedy an Approbation may therefore bespeak its favourable Reception in England. I think indeed there is no Nation under Heaven, in which so much has already been said upon that Subject, as Ours. But yet certainly there is no People that stand in more need of having something further both said and done amongst them, in this Point, than We do.
Our Government has not only been partial in Matters of Religion; but those also who have suffered under that Partiality, and have therefore endeavoured by their Writings to vindicate their own Rights and Liberties, have for the most part done it upon narrow Principles, suited only to the Interests of their own Sects.
This narrowness of Spirit on all sides has undoubtedly been the principalOccasion of our Miseries and Confusions. But whatever have been the Occasion, it is now high time to seek for a thorow Cure. We have need of more generous Remedies than what have yet been made use of in our Distemper. It is neither Declarations of Indulgence,3nor Acts of Comprehension,4such as have yet been practised or projected amongst us, that can do the Work. The first will but palliate, the second encrease our Evil.
Absolute Liberty,5Just and True Liberty, Equal and Impartial Liberty, is the thing that we stand in need of. Now tho this has indeed been much talked of, I doubt it has not been much understood; I am sure not at all practised, either by our Governours towards the People, in general, or by any dissenting Parties of the People towards one another.
I cannot therefore but hope that this Discourse, which treats of that Subject, however briefly, yet more exactly than any we have yet seen, demonstrating both the Equitableness and Practicableness of the thing, will be esteemed highlyseasonable, by all Men that have Souls large enough to prefer the true Interest of the Publick before that of a Party.
It is for the use of such as are already so spirited, or to inspire that Spirit into those that are not, that I have Translated it into our Language. But the thing it self is so short, that it will not bear a longer Preface. I leave it therefore to the Consideration of my Countrymen, and heartily wish they may make the use of it that it appears to be designed for.
[1. ]The preface was written by the translator, William Popple (1638–1708), a Unitarian merchant and religious writer. He had been a wine trader at Bordeaux before returning to England in 1688. He authored A Rational Catechism (1687) and A Discourse of Humane Reason (1690), reissued as Two Treatises of Rational Religion (1692).
[2. ]A Dutch edition appeared in 1689 but no copy has survived; a French edition was planned but did not appear. The first French edition was published in 1710.
[3. ]Popple’s reference to “Declarations of Indulgence” is puzzling. Charles II and James II had issued Declarations of Indulgence in 1672 and 1687, respectively. These granted toleration by prerogative edict, suspending the laws for Anglican uniformity. Yet, by the time Popple wrote, a statutory toleration had been achieved in the Toleration Act (May 1689). However, contemporaries sometimes referred to this as the Act of Indulgence: aptly enough, because, like earlier indulgences, it merely suspended the punishments for nonconformity but did not repeal the laws requiring conformity. It is possible, therefore, that Popple means the recent act. His general point is that all such indulgences are insufficient, for they leave the old laws in place, continue to exclude dissenters from public office, and (in the case of the act) exclude anti-Trinitarians. Despite the sobriquet it acquired, the Toleration Act nowhere used the word toleration. See note 41, p. 85.
[4. ]In March 1689 a bill for comprehension was introduced, which aimed to modify the terms of church conformity in order to readmit moderate dissenters. The bill was withdrawn, but at the time Popple wrote, in autumn 1689, the matter was still expected to be reconsidered. Popple objects to comprehension schemes because, though based on a latitudinarian approach to church membership, they offered no guarantee of liberty for those who remained outside the church.
[5. ]The ringing cry for “absolute liberty” was later used as a Lockean slogan by authors who did not realize that the preface was not by Locke. Some scholars point out that Locke rejects “absolute” liberty (e.g., Essay, 4.3.18), but the context here is religious toleration and Popple is stressing, with rhetorical exaggeration, the inadequacy of the Toleration Act. See Locke’s use of absolute, p. 107.