LOCKE, JOHN (1632-1704, philosopher, natural scientist and founder of Empiricism)
Lot 369
LOCKE, JOHN (1632-1704, philosopher, natural scientist and founder of Empiricism)
Sold for £8,400 (US$ 13,149) inc. premium

Lot Details
LOCKE, JOHN (1632-1704, philosopher, natural scientist and founder of Empiricism)
UNPUBLISHED AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ('J Locke'), to Cornelius Lyde (c.1640-1717), one of Locke's regular correspondents and a Commissioner for the assessment of Land Tax, explaining that 'constant fulnesse of businesse' had left him little time for his 'private affairs' while he was in London and 'want of health since' has made him 'have little inclination to any businesse', but that he would certainly have written before had he not 'long flatterd' himself that a letter would come from Lyde; reporting that he had spoken in London to 'a physician or two of my friends eminent practitioners in the town', one of whom had promised to show Lyde's son his practice and medicines whenever he made contact and the other would do the same when he had settled some business, but unfortunately Lyde's son did not get in touch with Locke and the note he had left of his lodgings became mislaid; assuring Lyde that his friends will still be ready to assist his son; asking him to give his cousin Mary Doleman twenty shillings on his behalf and to let him know about her husband and sons ('...what ways of living they are in & after what rate they live...'); enquiring after his Michaelmas rents; and in a postscript sending his 'humble service' to Mrs Strachey, to her son and daughter, to his cousin Lyde and the rest of his friends and relations in the neighbourhood, 2 pages, octavo, a little unobtrusive spotting, integral autograph address leaf ('For Cornelius Lyde Esq at Stanton Weeke To be left at Mr Codringtons in High Street Bristoll'), Bishop Mark, small cut at seal, contemporary endorsement ('A Letter of Mr Lock's Dated 16 Feb. 1698/9'), Oates, 16 February 1698/9

Footnotes

  • John Locke is generally considered to be the most important figure in the history of English philosophy and political theory.

    His influence has been immense: numbered in his debt are Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu and Kant. Jefferson, who described Locke as one of 'the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception', relied heavily on his ideas on liberty, property and human rights. In the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson transcribed Locke's phrase 'Life, liberty and property', though this was later altered to 'Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'. He has been hailed as 'the initiator of the Age of Enlightenment and Reason', the inspirer of the American Constitution ('America's political philosophy stems from the social contract theory of John Locke') and as a continuing powerful influence on life and thought in the West.

    AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPTS OF LOCKE ARE EXTREMELY RARE. In the last thirty years only six other autograph letters have appeared at auction and only six manuscripts. The notebook containing a draft of the Essay on Human Understanding realised nearly $1m in the Garden Sale in 1989.

    At the time of writing this letter, Locke, despite his ill-health, was an active member of the Council for Trade, which met five times a week. He had been specifically called to London in late January for an audience with the King. It is thought that the King proposed some important employment to him, perhaps to accompany the Earl of Portland's embassy to France after the peace of Ryswick.

    The letter is not printed in The Correspondence, edited by E.S. de Beer.
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