Two Treatises of Government by John Locke. - HTML preview

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Reader, thou hast here the beginning and end of a discourse concerning

government; what fate has otherwise disposed of the papers that should

have filled up the middle, and were more than all the rest, it is not

worth while to tell thee. These, which remain, I hope are sufficient to

establish the throne of our great restorer, our present King William; to

make good his title, in the consent of the people, which being the only

one of all lawful governments, he has more fully and clearly, than any

prince in Christendom; and to justify to the world the people of

England, whose love of their just and natural rights, with their

resolution to preserve them, saved the nation when it was on the very

brink of slavery and ruin. If these papers have that evidence, I flatter

myself is to be found in them, there will be no great miss of those

which are lost, and my reader may be satisfied without them: for I

imagine, I shall have neither the time, nor inclination to repeat my

pains, and fill up the wanting part of my answer, by tracing Sir Robert

again, through all the windings and obscurities, which are to be met

with in the several branches of his wonderful system.

The king, and body

of the nation, have since so thoroughly confuted his Hypothesis, that I

suppose no body hereafter will have either the confidence to appear

against our common safety, and be again an advocate for slavery; or the

weakness to be deceived with contradictions dressed up in a popular

stile, and well-turned periods: for if any one will be at the pains,

himself, in those parts, which are here untouched, to strip Sir Robert's

discourses of the flourish of doubtful expressions, and endeavour to

reduce his words to direct, positive, intelligible propositions, and

then compare them one with another, he will quickly be satisfied, there

was never so much glib nonsense put together in well-sounding English.

If he think it not worth while to examine his works all thro', let him

make an experiment in that part, where he treats of usurpation; and let

him try, whether he can, with all his skill, make Sir Robert

intelligible, and consistent with himself, or common sense. I should not

speak so plainly of a gentleman, long since past answering, had not the

pulpit, of late years, publicly owned his doctrine, and made it the

current divinity of the times. It is necessary those men, who taking on

them to be teachers, have so dangerously misled others, should be openly

shewed of what authority this their Patriarch is, whom they have so

blindly followed, that so they may either retract what upon so ill

grounds they have vented, and cannot be maintained; or else justify

those principles which they preached up for gospel; though they had no

better an author than an English courtier: for I should not have writ

against Sir Robert, or taken the pains to shew his mistakes,

inconsistencies, and want of (what he so much boasts of, and pretends

wholly to build on) scripture-proofs, were there not men amongst us,

who, by crying up his books, and espousing his doctrine, save me from

the reproach of writing against a dead adversary. They have been so

zealous in this point, that, if I have done him any wrong, I cannot hope

they should spare me. I wish, where they have done the truth and the

public wrong, they would be as ready to redress it, and allow its just

weight to this reflection, viz. that there cannot be done a greater

mischief to prince and people, than the propagating wrong notions

concerning government; that so at last all times might not have reason

to complain of the Drum Ecclesiastic. If any one, concerned really for

truth, undertake the confutation of my Hypothesis, I promise him either

to recant my mistake, upon fair conviction; or to answer his

difficulties. But he must remember two things.

First, That cavilling here and there, at some expression, or little

incident of my discourse, is not an answer to my book.

Secondly, That I shall not take railing for arguments, nor think either

of these worth my notice, though I shall always look on myself as bound

to give satisfaction to any one, who shall appear to be conscientiously

scrupulous in the point, and shall shew any just grounds for his


I have nothing more, but to advertise the reader, that Observations

stands for Observations on Hobbs, Milton, &c. and that a bare quotation

of pages always means pages of his Patriarcha, Edition 1680.