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Who can reasonably expect arguments and conviction from him in dealing with others whose understanding is not accustomed to them in his dealing with himself, who does violence to his own faculties, tyrannises over his own mind, and usurps the prerogative that belongs to truth alone, which is to command assent by only its own authority, that is, by and in proportion to that evidence which it carries with it?'1
Locke rigidly subjected himself to the canon that he prescribed for others. Anxious to know what are the faculties of the human mind, and how they may best be developed, he thought out the subject with all the attention he could give it during a good many years before he ventured to do more than make occasional entries thereupon in his private note books ; after that he devoted the leisure of a good many other years to further consideration and note-making before he ventured to build up his thoughts into an orderly treatise ; and after that again he pondered over the matter during yet a good many other years before he ventured to give his ripened conclusions to the world.
It is evident that Locke, having begun his notes in or near 1671 and continued them at intervals, took them to France in 1675. There he made so many additions that he was able, writing to Thoynard in 1679, to say, “I think too well of my book, which is completed, to let it go out of my hands."2 The manuscript did not go out of his hands into those of the public for some time; but he showed it to his friends. Shaftesbury, as we have seen,
1. Concerning Human Understanding,' b. iv., ch. xix., $$ 1, 2. This chapter, first included in the fourth edition, was not written till near the end of Locke's life.
2 Additional MSS., no. 28836 ; Locke to Thoynard, 6 June, 1679.
had read it before his death in 1683, and therefore not later than 1682, when he saw the last of Locke, as on his death-bed he attributed the change in his religious opinions to the memorable tenth chapter of its fourth book. After that time, however, Locke certainly re-wrote, and probably much enlarged it. It was to the period of his residence in Holland that he referred when he said in his prefatory epistle to the reader, “In a retirement where an attendance on my health gave me leisure, it was brought into that order in which thou now seest it.”
It was so far in order that he was able in the autumn of 1687 to prepare the epitome of it, which, translated into French, was published in the Bibliothèque Universelle, and to send a portion of it and apparently a proof-sheet of the epitome to the Earl of Pembroke, with a request that he might dedicate the work to him. “I have received the second part,” Pembroke wrote from London in November, “and with it the names of all the rest in print. Such thoughts need no epistle to recommend them. I do not say so to excuse my name to it; for I shall always be as desirous by my name to testify the satisfaction I have in anything you are pleased to write, as I am and ever will be by my person ready to vindicate anything you do. But pray do not let the hopes of seeing this in print defer the satisfaction of seeing the wbole at large, which I hope you will send me as soon as possibly you can."1
The French version of the epitome, filling ninety-two pages, was published by Le Clerc in the number of the Bibliothèque Universelle for January, 1687-8, with this heading, 'Extrait d'un Livre Anglais qui n'est pas encore publié, intitulé, Essai Philosophique concernant l'Entende
1 Lord King, p. 158; Pembroke to Locke, 25 Nov., 1687.
ment, où l'on montre quelle est l'étendue de nos connaissances certaines et la manière dont nous y parvenons: communiqué par Monsieur Locke.' “Here," wrote Le Clerc by way of note to his translation, " is the outline of an English work which the author has been good enough to publish, to oblige one of his particular friends ”—of course Le Clerc himself — “and to give him an outline of his opinions. If any of those who take the trouble to study it observe in it any passage in which the author seems to them to be in error, or anything obscure or incomplete in his scheme, they are requested to communicate their doubts or objections to the printers. Though the author is not very anxious to publish his treatise, and though he thinks he would be wanting in respect to the public if he offered them what satisfied himself without first knowing whether they agreed with it or thought it useful, yet he is not so shy as not to hope that he will be justified in publishing his whole treatise by the reception accorded to his abridgment.”! The modest yet dignified purport of that note was evidently suggested by Locke, and was in keeping with the modest yet dignified temper that had guided him all through the preparation of his work.
“ This abridgment,” Le Clerc, who was naturally proud of having been the first to introduce his friend's bold arguments to the world, said long afterwards, "pleased a great many persons, and made them desirous of seeing the work at large; but several who had never heard the name of Mr. Locke, and had only seen the abridgment in the Bibliothèque Universelle, thought that it was the project of a work of mine which was but yet designed, and that I fastened it upon an Englishman to know what the world thought of it; but they were soon
Bibliothèque Universelle, vol. viii. (1688), p. 141.
undeceived. I had some copies of it printed singly, to which Mr. Locke prefixed a short dedication to the Earl of Pembroke." I
Locke's epitome of 1687, of which we have his own manuscript copyas well as Le Clerc's French translation, shows that he added some chapters and re-arranged others before the essay itself was published in 1690. At least one paragraph of the essay, as we read in it, was written on the 11th of July, 1688, and in another he speaks of “ this present year, 1689.' It is clear, therefore, that additions and corrections were furnished up to the time when the sheets passed out of his hands, just as additions and corrections were made in each of the subsequent editions published in his lifetime. But the work was substantially completed in 1687.
Locke made no secret of the fragmentary and disjointed way in which he originally worked out the problems that, when the whole had been severally dealt with, he arranged in the order that seemed to him most suitable for the presentment of his complete argument or series of arguments.
“I must confess,” he wrote in his third book, “ that when I first began this Discourse of the Understanding, I had not the least thought that any consideration of words was at all necessary to it; but when, having passed over the original and composition of our ideas, I began to examine the extent and certainty of our knowledge, I
1 • Eloge de M. Locke.' I have not been able to meet with a copy of this reprint and dedication.
2 • Lord King,' pp. 362—398.
4 Ibid., b. iv., ch. xiv., § 29. In b. ii., ch. xv., § 8, however, Locke mentions 1671 as though it were the year in which that section was written.
found it had so near a connection with words that, unless their force and manner of signification were first well observed, there could be very little said clearly and pertinently concerning knowledge, which, being conversant about truth, had constantly to do with propositions, and though it terminated in things, yet it was for the most part so much by the intervention of words, that they seemed scarce separable from our general knowledge : at least, they interpose themselves so much between our understandings and the truth which it would contemplate and apprehend that, like the medium through which visible objects pass, their obscurity and disorder do not seldom cast a mist before our eyes and impose upon our understandings.
This and some less important statements, together with certain inferences that may perhaps be legitimately drawn from various other passages and allusions, seem to show that, after sketching out the scheme put forward in the introductory chapter—which, as it stands, is hardly introductory to the whole work-Locke proceeded, at starting, to discuss, in the substance of what is now the second book, but much less comprehensively,“the original of those ideas, notions, or whatever else you please to call them, which a man observes, and is conscious to himself he has in his mind, and the ways whereby the understanding comes to be furnished with them ;” that he then began, in what is now the fourth book, " to show what knowledge the understanding hath by those ideas, and the certainty, evidence, and extent of it,” and “ to examine the nature and grounds of faith or opinion, and the reasons and degrees of assent;” but that, before he had completed that undertaking, he turned aside to prepare the wonderful
1 Concerning Human Understanding,' b. iii., ch. ix., $ 21.