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You have, you see, by your kind offer drawn upon yourself a farther trouble with them, which was designed for my cousin King. But he setting out for the circuit to-morrow morning, I must beg you, that may be my excuse for taking this liberty with you. Moliere's works are for the countess of Peterborough, which I desire you to present to her from me, with the enclosed for her, and my most humble service. I am in truth, &c.
To the same.
Oates, 13 March, 1703-4. Ir the disputers of this world were but half so good at doing as you, the mart of logic and syllogisms would no doubt be the only place for the young fry“ ad capiendum ingenii cultum ;" (pardon, I beseech you, this scrap of Latin; my thoughts were in a place that authorises it, and one cannot chop logic half so well in unlearned modern vulgar languages.) But the traders in subtilty have not your way of recommending it, by turning it into substantial solidity, whereby you prevail so much on me, that I can scarce avoid being persuaded by you, that when I send you of a jaunt beyond Piccadilly, you are the person obliged, and I ought to expect thanks of you for it. Excuse me, I intreat you, if, for decency's sake, I stop a little short of that; and let it satisfy you, that I believe, nay such is the power of your logic, that I cannot help believing, that you spare no pains for your friends, and that you take a pleasure in doing me kindness. All that remains for me to ask of you, is to do me this right in your turn, to believe I am not insensible of your favours, and know how to value such a friend. Though you saw not my lady, when you
delivered Moliere and my letter at her house ; yet had message from her? Or did you not go in, or stay, when you heard she was indisposed ?
Mr. Le Clerc's Harmony is for Mr. Secretary John
ston's lady. The book sent to his lodgings, with a note to inform him, that it is for his lady from me, will do the business ; so that, for this errand, I am glad your servant is sufficient without sending you; for you must give me leave sometimes on such occasions to be a little stingy, and sparing of my favours.
I perceive, by the enclosed you did me the favour to send me, that those worthy heads are not yet grown up to perfect infallibility. I am sorry, however, that their mighty thoughts wanted utterance. However, I would very gladly know the true matter of fact, and what was really proposed, resolved, or done; this, if possible, I would be assured of, that I might not be mistaken in what gratitude I ought to have.
You baulked my having the bishop of St. Asaph's* sermon, by telling my cousin King, that I care not for sermons;
and, at the same time, you send my lady plays. This has raised a dispute between her ladyship and me, which of us two it is, you think best of. Methinks you are of opinion, that my lady is well enough satisfied with the unreformed stage ; but that I should be glad, that some things were reformed in the pulpit itself. The result is, that my lady thinks it necessary for you to come, and appease these broils you have raised in the family. I am, &c.
To the same.
Oates, 21 March, 1703-4. Give me leave to tell
you are mistaken I am not a young lady, a beauty, and a fortune. And unless you thought me all this, and designed your addresses to me; how is it possible you should be afraid you acquitted not yourself well in my commission beyond Piccadilly? Your waiting in the parlour a quarter of an hour was more than any reasonable man could demand of you ; and if either of us ought to be troubled in the case, it is I, because you did so much; and not you, because you did so little. But the reality of your friendship has so blended our concerns into one, that you will not permit me to observe, whether I do, or receive the favour, in what passes between us; and I am almost persuaded by you to believe, that sitting here by the fire I trudge up and down for you in London. Give me leave however to thank you, as if you had delivered Mr. Le Clerc's Harmony to Mr. Secretary Johnston for me, and sent me the two Bibles, which I received.
you, sir, that
* Dr. George Hooper.
As for the rummaging over Mr. Norris's late book *, I will be sworn, it is not I have done that; for however I may be mistaken in what passes without me, I am infallible in what passes in my own mind; and I am sure, the ideas that are put together in your letter out of him, were never so in my thoughts, till I saw them there. What did I say, “put ideas together?” I ask your pardon, it is “ put words together without ideas;" just as I should suspect I did, if I should say you disparaged a very good straight ruler I had, if you told me it would not enable me to write sense, though it were very good and useful, to show me whether I writ straight or no.
Men of Mr. Norris's way seem to me to decree, rather than to argue. They, against all evidence of sense and reason, decree brutes to be machines, only because their hypothesis requires it; and then with a like authority, suppose, as you rightly observe, what hey should prove; viz. that whatsoever thinks, is immaterial. Cogitation, says Mr. Norris, " is more excellent than motion, or vegetation; and therefore must belong to another substance than that of matter, in the idea whereof, motion and vegetation are contained.” This latter part, I think, would be hard for him to
prove, * An Essay towards the Theory of the ideal or intelligible World. Being the relative Part of it. Wherein the intelligible World is considered, with Relation to Human Understanding. Whereof some Account is here attempted, and proposed. Part II. By John Norris, Rector of Bemerton, near Sarum. Lond. 1704, in 8vo.
viz. “that motion and vegetation are contained in the idea of the substance of matter." But to let that pass at present; I ask, whether if this way of arguing be good, it will not turn upon him thus: “ If the idea of a spirit does not comprehend motion and vegetation ; then they must belong to another substance than a spirit ; and therefore are more excellent than cogitation, or the affections of a spirit.” For if its greater excellency proves any mode or affection to “ belong to another substance;" will not its “ belonging to another substance,” by the same rule, prove it to be more excellent? But this is only to deal with these men of logic and subtilty, in their own way, who use the term “ excellent,” to prove a material question by, without having, as you remark, a clear and determined idea of what they mean by more or less excellent. But not to waste your time, in playing with the
arguments of men, that examine not strictly the meaning of the words they use; I will show you the fallacy whereby they impose on themselves; for such talkers commonly cozen themselves, as well as others. Cogitation, say they, “is not comprehended in the idea of extension and solidity;" for that is it which they mean, when they say, the idea of matter;" from whence they conclude right, that “cogitation belongs not to extension or solidity; or is not included in either of them, or both together;” but this is not the consequence that they draw, but infer a conclusion that is not contained in the premises, and is quite besides them; as Mr. Norris, if he would make use of syllogism to its proper purpose, might see. Extension, and solidity, we have the ideas of; and see, that cogitation has no necessary connexion with them, nor has any consequential result from them; and therefore is not a proper affection of extension and solidity, nor doth naturally belong to them ; but how doth it follow from hence, that it may not be made an affection of, or be annexed to that substance, which is vested with solidity and extension? Of this substance we have noidea, that excludes cogitation, any more than solidity. Their conclusion, therefore, should be the exclusion of cogitation from
the substance of matter, and not from the other affections of that substance. But they either overlook this, which is the true state of that argument, or else avoid to set it in its clear light; lest it show too plainly, that their great argument either proves nothing, or, if it doth, it is against them.
What you say about my Essay of Human Understanding, that nothing can be advanced against it, but upon the principle of innate ideas, is certainly so; and therefore all who do not argue against it, from innate ideas, in the sense I speak of innate ideas ; though they make a noise against me, yet at last they so draw and twist their improper ways of speaking, which have the appearance and sound of contradiction to me, that at last they state the question so, as to leave no contradiction in it to my Essay; as you have observed in Mr. Lee*, Mr. Lowdet, and Mr. Norris in his late treatise. It is reward enough for the writing my book, to have the approbation of one such a reader as you are. You have done me and my book a great honour, in having bestowed so much of your thoughts upon it. You have a comprehensive knowledge of it, and do not stick in the incidents; which I find many people do; which, whether true or false, make nothing to the main design of the Essay, that lies in a little compass ; and yet, I hope, may be of great use to those who see and follow that plain and easy method of nature, to carry them the shortest and clearest way to knowledge. Pardon me this vanity; it was with a design of inquiring into the nature and powers of the understanding, that I writ it; and nothing but the hope that it might do, some service to truth and knowledge, could excuse the publishing of it.
I know not whether I ever showed you an occasional sketch of mine, about “ seeing all things in God.” If
* Anti-Scepticism; or Notes upon each Chapter of Mr. Locke's Essay concerning Human Cnderstanding, with an Explanation of all the Particulars of which he treats, and in the same Order. In four Books. By Henry Lee, B.D. formerly Fellow of Emanuel College, in Cambridge, now Rector of Tichmarsh, in Northamptonshire." Lond. 1702, in Fol.
* In his Discourse concerning the Nature of Man, &c. and his Moral Essays, &c.