Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
To Mr. Molyneux, 1694
By John Locke (16321704)
From Familiar Letters
OATES, 3rd September 1694.
SIRI have so much advantage in the bargain, if friendship may be called one, that whatsoever satisfaction you find in yourself, on that account, you must allow in me with a large overplus. The only riches I have valued, or laboured to acquire, has been the friendship of ingenious and worthy men, and therefore you cannot blame me, if I so forwardly laid hold of the first occasion that opened me a way to yours. That I have so well succeeded in it I count one of my greatest happinesses, and a sufficient reward for writing my book, had I no other benefit by it. The opinion that you have of it gives me further hopes, for it is no small reward to one who loves truth, to be persuaded that he has made some discoveries of it, and any ways helped to propagate it to others. I depend so much upon your judgment and candour, that I think myself secure in you from peevish criticism or flattery; only give me leave to suspect, that kindness and friendship do sometimes carry your expressions a little too far on the favourable side. This, however, makes me not apprehend you will silently pass by anything you are not thoroughly satisfied of in it. The use I have made of the advertisements I have received from you of this kind, will satisfy you that I desire this office of friendship from you, not out of compliment, but for the use of truth, and that your animadversions will not be lost upon me. Any faults you shall meet with in reasoning, in perspicuity, in expression, or of the press, I desire you to take notice of, and send me word of. Especially if you have anywhere any doubt; for I am persuaded that, upon debate, you and I cannot be of two opinions; nor, I think, any two men used to think with freedom, who really prefer truth to opiniatrety,1 and a little foolish vain-glory of not having made a mistake.
I shall not need to justify what I have said of you in my book, the learned world will be vouchers for me, and that in an age not very free from envy and censure. But you are very kind to me, since for my sake you allow yourself to own that part which I am more particularly concerned in, and permit me to call you my friend, whilst your modesty checks at the other part of your character. But, assure yourself, I am as well persuaded of the truth of it, as of anything else in my book; it had not else been put down in it. It only wants a great deal more I had to say, had that been a place to draw your picture at large. Herein I pretend not to any peculiar obligation above others that know you. For though perhaps I may love you better than many others; yet, I conclude, I cannot think better of you than others do.I am, dear sir, your most affectionate, and most humble servant,