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    The First Collected Edition of Locke's Letters Concerning Toleration

    John Locke. Letters Concerning Toleration. London: Printed for A. Millar..., 1765. First collected edition of Locke's four letters on toleration. Quarto. [viii], [400] pages. With engraved frontispiece portrait of Locke by F. B. Cipriani after Kneller, with a Cap of Liberty beneath the portrait. Another Cap of Liberty at foot of last page of text. Bound to style in modern full brown calf, with the contemporary rear board still present, covers ruled in gilt, spine ruled in gilt in compartments, with contemporary spine label preserved. Five raised bands. New marbled paper endpapers. Spine lightly sunned and rubbed, contemporary rear board has some rubbing and light wear (especially at corners), yet is solid. Some foxing to frontispiece, very light occasional foxing in text, with tiny, neat holes (de-accession?) on title-page and next page of text and last two pages of text, not really interfering with text. Ex-Peter Laslett, Trinity College Cambridge copy, with his small ownership plate in the lower corner of the front pastedown. Includes the Latin "Epistola de tolerantia" (pages [1]-28), "A Letter Concerning Toleration" (pages [29]-66), "A Second Letter Concerning Toleration" (pages [67]-116), "A Third Letter for Toleration" (pages [117]-379), and "A Fourth Letter for Toleration" (pages [381]-399). Edited by Thomas Hollis and Richard Baron. An excellent association copy.

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    "Locke's concern for the toleration of religious dissent, for the interaction of individual conscience and public authority, was long-standing. In his early tracts on the civil magistrate...he had felt that the need for order in society justified the authority of the magistrate over matters indifferent to salvation. Under the influence of Shaftesbury and of his own investigations of the scope of certain knowledge, his emphasis changed. Without certainty in matters of religion, the conscience must be allowed liberty; the authority of the magistrate must be confined to preserving the existence of society and the safety and property of the citizen. Locke's thoughts on this subject (as on so many others) matured during his stay in Holland, where his circle of friends consisted primarily of dissenters from the established church, such as the Remonstrant pastor and theologian, Philippus van Limborch. In 1686, Locke drafted a letter in Latin to his friend, which was published (probably by Limborch) in 1689" (Attig, p. 12).

    The Epistola de tolerantia was almost immediately translated into English and published in London. It was "immediately attacked in two anonymous pamphlets, the most significant of which was Proast's Argument (March 1690). Locke's own response was equally swift, and his Second letter appeared in June. Proast replied to Locke's Second letter, with his Third letter concerning toleration (1691). Locke, in response, published a third letter for toleration the following year. Proast did not return to the attack until 1704, when he published his Second letter to the author of the three letters for toleration. Locke was defended by an anonymous author, probably John Shute Barrington, in the postscript to The rights of the Protestant dissenters. At the time of his death that same year, Locke had begun his own reply. The draft was published by his executors, Peter King and Anthony Collins in 1706" (Attig, pp. 18-19). Thomas Hollis prepared a new edition of Mr. Locke's Letters on Toleration. "Aside from the title being all in capital letters and the use of the letter I (instead of J), beneath the facing portrait there is a liberty cap; another liberty cap is at the foot of the last text page: these occurrences are typical of Hollis editions. Copies presented by Hollis also have a liberty figure with liberty cap and a rod, surmounted by a star on an extra leaf bound at the end, supplied by a metal stamp or 'smoke print' (according to W. H. Bond). Hollis's presentation copies usually also are bound in red morocco, with gold tooling from special stamps" (Yolton). "Thomas Hollis [1720-1774], a keen Whig and student of the history of government...formed an important collection of medals, and a large library; he also spent much time and money on the propagation of his principles by generous gifts to individuals and libraries...of books specially bound by Matthewman and stamped with emblems appropriate to their contents...Thomas Pingo (1692-1776), engraver to the Mint, with the help of at least one of his sons, made the tools used by Matthewman on the bindings; Cipriani probably designed some of them. The first set of tools was destroyed in a fire at Matthewman's workshop in 1764...and a second set had to be engraved." Peter Laslett, (1915-2001), was a historian and fellow at Cambridge who had discovered Locke's library of eleven manuscripts and over 800 printed books. The library was soon sold at auction and then bought by Paul Mellon, who hired Laslett to prepare a catalog of Locke's works. In 1960, Laslett published a new edition of Locke's Two Treatises of Government. An excellent association copy. Attig 93. Rothschild 2733. (Rothschild, p. 751). Yolton 28.

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    April, 2014
    2nd Wednesday
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