Page images













SIR, Having met with several of Mr. Locke's works, which were never printed, I thought myself obliged to impart them to the public, together with some pieces of that illustrious writer, which had indeed been published before, but without his name to them, and were grown very scarce. The value you have for every thing that was written by Mr. Locke, and your esteem for some of his friends concerned in this collection, emboldens me to offer it to you; and I fatter myself that you will favour it with your acceptance.

The first piece in this collection, contains The Fun. damental Constitutions of Carolina. You know, sir, that Charles II. made a grant of that country by letters patents, bearing date March 24th, 1663, to the duke of Albemarle, the earl of Clarendon, the earl of Craven, the lord Berkeley of Stratton, the lord Ashley, sir George Carteret, sir William Berkeley, and sir John Colleton ; who thereupon became proprietors of that colony. My lord Ashley, afterwards so well known by the title of earl of Shaftesbury, was distinguished by an exquisite judgment, an uncommon penetration, and a deep insight into civil affairs. The other proprietors desired him to draw up the laws necessary for the establishment of their new colony ; to which he the more readily consented, because he relied on the assistance of Mr. Locke, who had the good fortune to gain his friendship and confidence. .

My lord Ashley well knew, that our philosopher had a peculiar right to a work of this nature. He called to his mind so many ancient philosophers, who had been legislators, and who, on this very account, had statues erected to them. And indeed, sir, if we consider, on the one hand · that a philosopher makes Man his particular study,

knows the reach of his mind, and the springs of his passions, in fine, his good and bad qualities; and that, on the other hand, not being biassed by any motives of self-interest, he hath nothing in view but the general good of mankind; it will be granted, that nobody is better qualified than such an one, not only to civilize a barbarous people, but to prevent the inconveniencies and disorders which even the most polite nations are apt to fall into. In this respect it is, that the philosopher hath the advantage over the courtier, or what we call the politician. For this latter, being accustomed to study the genius and inclinations of men for his own ends only, and to make his own advantage of them; it is impossible he should entirely overcome the force of custom, and the tyranny of prejudice, when the concerns of the public, and the welfare of society, are under deliberation. But the philosopher considers things in general, and as they really are in themselves. He examines the most difficult and important points of government, with the same accuracy, and the same disposition of mind, as his other philosophical speculations. And therefore, as all his views are more extensive and impartial, they must needs be more beneficial and secure.

But though some may be of opinion, that in matters of state, the politician ought to have the preference of the philosopher, this will not in the least diminish the value of the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina; since not only a philosopher, but a politician of the first rank, was concerned therein. No man is more capable of judging of the excellence of such constitutions than yourself, sir, who not only have acquired a complete knowledge of our laws, but studied them as a philosopher, by looking for the motives and foundations of them, in the very nature of mankind.

For the rest, you have here those constitutions, printed from Mr. Locke's copy, wherein are several amendments made with his own hand. He had presented it, as a work of his, to one of his friends, who was pleased to communicate it to me.

The second piece in this collection is, A Letter from a Person of Quality, to his Friend in the Coun

« PreviousContinue »