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3. Some other loose thoughts [=Remarks upon some of Mr. Norris’s Books], 1693


MS Locke d.3, pp. 89-109. Remarks on John Norris’s Cursory Reflections (1690, 1692) and his Reason and Religion (1689, 1693). First published as Remarks upon some of Mr. Norris’s Books, Wherein he asserts F. Malebranche’s Opinion of our seeing all things in God in SP (1720). Locke’s section numbers are given in the text. The section numbers used by Des Maizeaux in SP are presented in the normalized version, in blue numbers. References by Locke to works by John Norris are presented in the normalized and diplomatic versions, between the relevant blue symbols. References by Locke to works by John by John Norris are given in the outer margin. For references to Malebranche’s Recherche the editors have used the fourth edition (Pairs: A. Pralard, 1678), see LL 1883. The scribal copy (E) is collated with SP (P) (copy British Library 1134.d.3).


[1] MS Locke d.3, pp. 89-109; see MS Locke d.3 [1]-MS Locke d.3 [10].

Textual remark

[2] The text is not finished, and its last sentence is: ‘The finishing of these hasty thoughts must be deferd to another season’.

Section numbers: differences with Des Maizeaux’s edition

[3] For a description of the original section numbers see above MS Locke d.3 [7]. Locke divided the text into 34 sections; in most cases, each section consists of only one paragraph. Locke’s section numbers are given in the main text of the present edition. Des Maizeaux (in SP) gave the second paragraph of sect. 31 a separate number; hence sect. 33-35 in his editions correspond to sect. 32-34 in MS Locke d.3. Des Maizeaux’s section numbers are recorded in the inner margin of the present edition. Further differences concern the marginal references made by Locke to Norris (see also MS Locke d.3 [7]. Where MS Locke d.3 gives the marginal reference ‘v. Remarks. p 48’ in sect. 1, Des Maizeaux, in footnote 1, (correctly) refers to Norris’s Cursory Reflections p. 30; and where MS Locke d.3 gives again ‘Remarks p 48’, Des Maizeaux, in footnote 3, (again correctly) refers to Norris’s Cursory Reflections, p. 3. Other substantive differences can be found in the collation of the manuscript with Des Maizeaux’s edition.

Other remarks about Des Maizeaux’s edition

[4] Des Maizeaux probably prepared his edition of ‘Loose thoughts’ without MS Locke d.3, which remained in the possession of Peter King, who probably was not inclined to lend the manuscript to Des Maizeaux. There are some differences between Des Maizeaux’s edition and MS Locke d.3. Sometimes Des Maizeaux’s version is more felicitous, e.g. where MS Locke d.3, sect. 22 reads ‘If no propositions should be made there would be no truth nor falshood though the same relations remain still between the same Ideas is a foundation of the muteability of truth in the same propositions when ever made’, Des Maizeaux gives ‘immutability’, rather than ‘muteability’. On the other hand, ‘He that has long continued in a roome perfum’d with sweet flowers ceases to smell them though the room be filld with those odours’, in MS Locke d.3 sect. 14 seems preferable to Des Maizeaux’s version: ‘He that has long continued in a room perfum’d with sweet odours ceases to smell tho’ the room be fill’d with those flowers’. These differences can be explained by Des Maizeaux’s use of another, earlier, manuscript then MS Locke d.3. This possibility is confirmed by two corrections made in MS Locke d.3 that are absent in Des Maizeaux’s edition. (The absense of these corrections does not only rule out Des Maizeaux’s use of MS Locke d.3, but also his use of a manuscript based on MS Locke d.3.) Both corrections can be found in sect. 16 (deletions between square brackets, additions in italics): (1) ‘[T]When man wills, he does something, or else God upon the occasion of something which he himself did before, produced this will this action in him.’ Des Maizeaux writes Then, missing When. (2) ‘and condemn others for not dareing to be as [unmannerly] profane as our selves’. Des Maizeaux writes unmannerly, missing profane. There are more differences between MS Locke d.3 and Des Maizeaux’s edition. The title is different: MS Locke d.3 gives ‘Some other loose thoughts which I set down as they came in my way in a hasty perusal of some of Mr Norris’s writeings, to be better digested when I shall have leisure to make an End of this Argument’, while in Des Maizeaux’s edition the title is: Remarks upon some of Mr Norris’s books wherin he asserts P. Malebranche’s opinion of our seeing all things in God. Also, Des Maizeaux in most cases writes out the abbreviated references in Locke’s text to the works of Norris. Finally, sometimes he adds explicative words or phrases that cannot be found in MS Locke d.3. In general, Des Maizeaux’s editorial hand in ‘Loose thoughts’ is heavier then Peter King’s hand in ‘Of seeing’.


[5] ‘Loose thoughts’ is undated, but the original manuscript of ‘Loose thoughts’ contained a reference by Locke to Jean le Clerc’s Genesis sive Mosis Prophetae liber primus (1693). Although the reference was probably unrelated to the text of ‘Loose thoughts’, it was copied by Locke’s scribe in MS Locke d.3, in sect. 7 of ‘Loose thoughts’. Locke’s correspondence can be used to pinpoint this reference chronologically. In a letter of 7/17 February 1693 (NS), Le Clerc informed Locke that he had sent the 32 first sheets, i.e. the 128 first pages, of his Genesis to Benjamin Furly, ‘dès le 10. de ce Mois’. Le Clerc had asked Furly ‘de vous les faire tenir au plûtôt’ (see Corr. iv, pp. 635-636). Le Clerc asked Locke’s assistance in procuring a patron and subscribers for the work. On 6/16 June 1693 Le Clerc thanked Locke ‘de la peine que vous vous êtes donnée de proposer mon dessein à Mylord de Pembroke, et de lui faire agréer’. Le Clerc’s Genesis would indeed be dedicated to Pembroke (see Corr. iv, p. 723). It is likely that Locke read the sheets himself before he intervened on Le Clerc’s behalf. The reference to page 27 in sect. 7 of ‘Loose thoughts’ falls well within the bounderies of the first 128 pages of Le Clerc’s book. If Locke read the sheets shortly after he received them, and if he received the sheets in February, then the end of February or the start of March is a possible time for the composition of (sect. 7 of) ‘Loose thoughts’.

Relation with ‘Of seeing’

[6] See 5. Of seeing all things in God [=An Examination of P. Malebranche’s Opinion] (1693) [5].


[7] Printed in 1720 in SP, pp. 153-176; the copy-text is collated with this publication.

Yolton, John Locke a Descriptive Bibliography, nr. 249, p. 299.
MS Locke c.24, fol. 285r, letter 3188, Corr. viii, pp. 676-677.
Cf. Greetham, Textual Scholarship, p. 172 and pp. 211-213.
Cf. Locke’s farewell letter to P. King, 4 and 25 October 1704, letter 3647, Corr. viii, p. 416: ‘If my Paraphrase and notes on the Ephesians are not wholy transcribed before I dye (as I fear they will not. For however earnestly I have pressed it again and again I have not been able to prevaile with Will to dispatch the two first Chapters in three months) you must get it to be transcribed out of my filed papers after I am dead, that so it may be in a condition to be in a condition to be printed. Will after all I think be the fitest to transcribe them because he can read my hand and knows my way of writeing with the use of the references.’
Corr. viii, p. 424.
MS Locke c.35, fol. 6v.
Letter 3647, Corr. viii, p. 417, n. 1.
MS Locke f.10, p. 495.
MS Locke c.1, p. 342.
MS Locke f.10, p. 492.
Op. cit. no page number.
This fact confirms the assertion of the editors that MS Locke c.28 did not function as printer’s copy for PW.
For what probably amounts to an internal reference to the Essay that was left unchanged, see par. 64: ‘this essay’.
That pp. 52-56 give a part of the ‘Conduct’ seems to have escaped Long, A Summary Catalogue, although he remarks, p. 30: ‘The draft [containing both the Essay-part and the ‘Conduct’-part] is longer than the printed version [containing only the Essay-part].’
‘Introduction’ to Locke, Conduct, ed. Yolton, p. vii.
For the relation between the paragraph numbers of the ‘Conduct’ in the present edition and the source manuscripts, the Essay and PW see Table 3).
See Milton, ‘Pierre Des Maizeaux’, pp. 274-278.
Alternative dates: see Sargentich, ‘Locke and Ethical Theory’, p. 24: ‘Although the first manuscript piece, “Morality”, is undated, since it is highly hedonistic, it was probably written relatively late in Locke’s life.’ But ‘pleasure’ is a pervasive element in practically all of Locke’s ethical fragments, so its appearance does not contribute much towards dating the fragment. Goldie, p. 267 suggests as dates c. 1677-1678, but does not give a reason for his choice.
The last part of ‘Ethica C’, captioned under ‘Law’, is dated c. 1693 by Goldie, p. 328, but Goldie does not give a reason for his choice.
Cf. Essay, notes on p. 640 and p. 454 respectively.
See Works, 4, p. 184.
‘Liberty’ is included as letter 1798 in Corr. v, 159-160.
Cf. ‘Enthusiasm’, Essay, IV.xix.15, p. 705: ‘These and several the like Instances to be found among the Prophets of old, are enough to shew, that they thought not an inward seeing or perswasion of their own Minds without any other Proof a sufficient Evidence, that it was from GOD, though the Scripture does not every where mention their demanding or having such Proofs.’
See Milton, ‘Manservant as Amanuensis: Sylvester Brounower’, p. 79, note 4.
See Essay,IV.iii.6; see also ‘Ballance’.