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try. It gives an account of the debates and resolutions of the house of lords, in April and May, 1675, concerning a bill, entitled, An Act to prevent the Dangers, which may arise from Persons disaffected to the Government. By that bill, which was brought in by the court-party, all such as enjoyed any beneficial office or employment, civil or military, to which was afterwards added, privy counsellors, justices of the peace, and members of parliament, were, under a penalty, to take the oath, and make the declaration and abhorrence following: “ I, A. B., do declare, that it is not lawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to take up arms against the king; and that I do abhor that traitorous position, of taking arms by his authority, against his person; or against those that are commissioned by him, in pursuance of such commission; and I do swear, that I will not, at any time, endeavour the alteration of the
government, either in church or state. So help me God.”
Such of the lords as had no dependence upon the court, and were distinguished by the name of countrylords, looked upon this bill as a step the court was making to introduce arbitrary power; and they opposed it so vigorously, that the debate lasted five several days, before it was committed to a committee of the whole house; and afterwards it took up sixteen or seventeen whole days ; the house sitting many times till eight or nine of the clock at night, and sometimes till midnight. However, after several alterations, which they were forced to make, it passed the committee; but a contest then arising between the two houses, concerning their privileges, they were so inflamed against each other, that the king thought it advisable to prorogue the parliament, so that the bill was never reported from the committee to the house.
The debates, occasioned by that bill, failed not to make a great noise throughout the whole kingdom : and because there were but few persons duly apprized thereof, and every body spoke of it as they stood affected; my lord Shaftesbury, who was at the head of the country-party thought it necessary to publish an exact relation of every thing that had passed upon that occasion ; in order, not only to open the people's eyes upon the secret views of the court, but to do justice to the country-lords, and thereby to secure to them the continuance of the affection and attachment of such as were of the same opinion with themselves, which was the most considerable part of the nation. But though this lord had all the faculties of an orator; yet, not having time to exercise himself in the art of writing, he desired Mr. Locke to draw up this relation; which he did under his lordship’s inspection, and only committed to writing what my lord Shaftesbury did in a manner dictate to him. Accordingly you will find in it a great many strokes, which could proceed from nobody but my lord Shaftesbury himself; and, among others, the characters and eulogiums of such lords as had sig. nalized themselves in the cause of public liberty.
This letter was privately printed soon afterwards ; and the court was so incensed at it, that, at the next meeting of the parliament, towards the end of the year 1675, the court-party, who still kept the ascendant in the house of lords, ordered it to be burnt by the common hangman. “ The particular relation of this debate,” says the ingenious Mr. Marvel, “ which lasted many days, with great eagerness on both sides, and the reasons but on one, was, in the next session, burnt by order of the lords, but the sparks of it will eternally fly in their adversaries' faces *.”
This piece was grown very scarce. It is true it was inserted, in the year 1689, in the first volume of the State Tracts; but in such a manner, that it had been far better not to have reprinted it at all. And, indeed, among numbers of lesser faults, there are several whole periods left out ; and many places appear to be designedly falsified. It is likely all this was occasioned by the compiler's making use of the first printed copy that fell into his hands; without giving himself the trouble to look out for more exact ones. That I might not be guilty of the same fault, I have sought after all the edi. tions I could possibly hear of; and have luckily met two printed in the year 1675, both pretty exact, though one is more so than the other. I have collated them with each other, and with that contained in the State Tracts. In short, that this piece might appear to the best advantage, I have taken the same care as if I had been to publish some Greek or Latin author from ancient manuscripts. And truly, when a man undertakes to republish a work that is out of print, and which deserves to be made more easy to be come at, be it either ancient or modern, it is the same thing ; the public is equally abused, if, instead of restoring it according to the best editions, and in the most correct manner that is possible, the editor gives it from the first
* An Account of the Growth of Popery, and arbitrary Government in England, more particularly from the long Prorogation of November, 1675, ending the 15th of February, 1676, till the last Meeting of Parliament, the 16th of July, 1677. By Andrew Marvel, Esq. p. m. 89.
he chances to light upon, without troubling himself whether that copy be defective or not.
The third piece in this collection consists of Remarks upon some of Mr. Norris's Books, wherein he asserts Father Malebranche's Opinion, of our seeing all Things in God. It is in a manner the sequel of a much larger discourse, printed in the year 1706, among the Posthumous Works of Mr. Locke. Our author had resolved to give that subject a thorough examination; and this small piece is but a sketch, containing some cursory reflections, which he had thrown together, in reading over some of Mr. Norris's books. Accordingly, I find these words in his manuscript, written before those Remarks : “ Some other thoughts, which I set down, as they came in my way, in a hasty perusal of some of Mr. Norris's writings, to be better digested, when I shall have leisure to make an end of this argument.” And at the end of them, he hath added these words: “the finishing of these hasty thoughts must be deferred to another season." But though this small piece is far from being perfected, it however contains many important reflections; and therefore I was of opinion it deserved to be published ; and I hope, sir, you will
not disapprove my inserting it in this collection. It is followed here by the Elements of Natural Philosophy*. Mr. Locké had composed, or rather dic
See note, page 160.
tated, these Elements for the use of a young gentleman, whose education he had very much at heart. It is an abstract or summary of whatever is most material in Natural Philosophy; which Mr. Locke did afterwards explain more at large to that young gentleman. The same is practised in the universities, where, you know, it is customary for the professors to dictate such abridgments, to serve for the subject and rule of their lectures. And therefore this small tract is far from being what Mr. Locke would have made it, had he written upon that matter professedly, and designed to make it a complete work.
However, as the generality of men expect everything should be perfect, that proceeds from such a writer as Mr. Locke, and do not enter into the occasions or designs which he proposed to himself in writing; I own that some persons, very good judges, whom I have taken the liberty to consult about the impression of some pieces in this collection, were of opinion that this little treatise had better been left out, for fear every reader should not make the proper allowances, and lest the memory of Mr. Locke should suffer by it. I yielded to their opinion; and was resolved to lay that piece aside. But being informed that there were several other copies of it abroad, which it was impossible to suppress, or hinder from falling, one time or other, into the hands of the printers, maimed and disfigured, as is too often the case on such occasions; I was obliged to take other measures; and I the more easily determined to publish it, because I could give it more complete, more correct, and in better order, than can possibly be pretended to, by the copies above-mentioned.
After all, I may take upon me to say, that, in its kind, this piece is no way to be despised." We wanted such a work in English; and it would not have been an easy matter to find any other person, who could have comprehended so many things in so few words, and in so clear and distinct a manner. Great use may be made of it in the instruction of young gentlemen, as it was originally designed by Mr. Locke. And persons even of riper years may improve by it; either by recalling ideas that had slipt out of their memory, or by informing themselves of several things, which were unknown to them.
To this treatise are subjoined, Some Thoughts concerning Reading and Study for a Gentleman*. Mr. Locke having one day, in conversation, discoursed upon the method that a young gentleman should take in his reading and study; one of the company was so well pleased with it, that he desired him to dictate to him the substance of what he had been speaking; which Mr. Locke immediately did. This is one of the usual conversations of Mr. Locke, reduced into writing; from whence you may judge, sir, how agreeable and advantageous it was to converse with that great man.
Mr. Locke not only points out the sciences that a gentleman ought to study, whether as a private man, or one in a public capacity; but likewise directs to such books as treat of those sciences, and which, in his opinion, are the properest for that end. As
As you have acquired, sir, in Italy, the most refined taste for the
politer arts, and have added that study to those Mr. Locke here recommends to a gentleman ; you will perhaps wonder, that he says nothing of painting, sculpture, architecture, and other arts of this kind, which make an accomplished gentleman. But I desire you would · consider, that there are but few persons in possession of the means necessary for attaining this sort of knowledge; and that Mr. Locke is speaking here of what may suit the circumstances of the generality of people. · Besides, he was very far from imagining, that an extemporary advice, which he was giving by his fire-side, would ever be exposed to common view. However, I presume to think, that after you have perused it, you will be of opinion it was not unworthy to be made public.
But among the works of Mr. Locke, contained in this volume, I do not know that any will afford you more pleasure than his Letters. Some of them are written upon weighty subjects; and are upon that very account exceeding valuable. Others are what Mr. Locke wrote out of the country to one of his friends in London, about
See note, page 160.