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34. Observations on Bold’s papers (1698)


MS Locke c.27, fols 147r-150v. Edward Stillingfleet, Bishop of Worcester, and Robert Jenkin were especially offended by Locke’s suggestion about the possibility of thinking matter. Samuel Bold defended Locke’s views on this point, and also Locke’s concept of knowledge that is based on the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, in a manuscript that he sent to Locke for comments. Locke’s comments have survived. Bold’s original manuscript is lost, but the printed version, in which he included most of Locke’s remarks, has survived, this is Some Considerations of the Principal Objections and Arguments Which Have Been Publish’d Against Mr. Lock’s Essay Of Humane Understanding (1699). A complete transcription of Locke’s remarks is given here (Locke’s reference to Stillingfleet’s First Reply is given in the outer margin). In the Appendix a transcription of Bold’s Some Considerations is given, with Locke’s remarks inserted at their approximate place.


[1] See [74], [76], [78], [81] and [82].


[2] MS Locke c.27, fols 147r-150v; see MS Locke c.27, fols 147r-150v [1]-MS Locke c.27, fols 147r-150v [10].

General remarks

[3] Locke’s Essay was attacked by Edward Stillingfleet, Bishop of Worcester in three publications (the Vindication, published 1696, the First Answer, published 1697, and the Second Answer, also published 1697) and by Robert Jenkin, The Reasonableness and Certainty of the Christian Religion (1698). Both were especially angered by Locke’s views on the possibility of thinking matter. Locke’s friend, Samuel Bold (1649-1737), rector of Steeple in the Isle of Purbeck, wrote a defence of Locke’s position on this point, and also defended his concept of knowledge that is based on the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas. He sent the manuscript to Locke for comments. In his letter of 10 September 1698 he informs Locke that he has sent him ‘two sheets (which is all I can transcribe timely enough to send by my neighbour, by whom I send this) to mr Churchill, with my desire to Him, to deliver them to you’ (see [74]). Locke produced a list of corrections and remarks, MS Locke c.27, fols 147r-150v, ‘Observations on Mr Bolds papers Dec 98’. Most remarks by Locke were used for the final version of Bold’s defence, i.e. the printed version, Some Considerations of the Principal Objections and Arguments Which Have Been Publish’d Against Mr. Lock’s Essay Of Humane Understanding (1699). Bold’s manuscript was lost, but the printed final text has survived. The editors first present a complete transcription of Locke’s ‘Observations’, followed by a complete trancription of Bold’s printed text in the appendix, Some Considerations, with the remarks by Locke that could be placed with reasonable confidence at specific points in Bolds printed text, giving the reader the possibility of checking if and how Bold used Locke’s remarks.


[4] The manuscript is endorsed by Locke as ‘Observations on Mr Bolds papers Dec [16]98’ (see MS Locke c.27, fols 147r-150v [6]). Bold had sent his manuscript to Locke by 10 September 1698 (see [74]); this forms the terminus a quo for the date of Locke’s ‘Observations’ on this manuscript.


[5] Not published before.

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’.