Gary Green (on behalf of Voices for the Library)

We have been indulged by Mr. Tooke with a sight of some papers, which came into his hands, reputed to be the productions of Mr. Locke. Some of them are evidently not his: and of those which have any importance we are not able just now to ascertain the authenticity. Amongst the latter is a tragedy entitled Tamerlane the beneficent. Ed. of the present Ed.

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[12] Arts Council England: Evidence review of the economic value of libraries (2014)

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Let us now examine the Christian contribution to the idea ofprogress in the West. It is very large indeed. As I have already noted,the same bent of mind that denies to the Greeks and Romans any realconception of progress is prone (with a few exceptions such as JohnBaillie, The Belief in Progress, which attributes toChristianity what it takes from the pagans) to deny Christianity anyvision of mankind's progress. But, as with the Greeks and Romans, asubstantial and growing body of scholarship demonstrates quite theopposite. Such impressive studies as Gerhard B. Ladner, The Idea of Reform: Its Impact on Christian Thought and Action in the Age of the Fathers; Charles N. Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture; Karl Löwith, Meaning in History; and Marjorie Reeves, The Influence of Prophecy in the Later Middle Agesmake it certain beyond question that a very real philosophy of humanprogress appears almost from the very beginning in Christian theology,a philosophy stretching from St. Augustine (indeed his predecessors,Eusebius and Tertullian) down through the seventeenth century.

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Christian, including Joachimite, prophecy also played its part inthe Puritan Revolution of the seventeenth century. In 1615, JamesMaxwell, with his Admirable and Notable Prophecies, declared Joachim to have been "extraordinarily inspired." Ernest Lee Tuveson, in his profoundly important Millennium and Utopia,shows how easily secular progress conceived of as the rule of reasonand of the sciences could be derived from religious progress conceivedof as divine fulfillment. Thus he quotes a passage from Sheltoo aGeveren in which we are told that God shows his affection for mankindby raising up "some Valla, Agricola, Erasmus, Melancthon and others" inorder to bring "all sciences and knowledge of the tongues to theirpurity" . . . and to attain "the perfect knowledge of them all by whichalmost all Europe is set free from barbarousness." Tuveson's book wasone of the very first to point out the crucial importance of religiousideas of man's progress on earth—of his destined existence in anearthly paradise for a long period before Judgment Day comes, and ofthe liberation of men from all want, superstition, ignorance, andtyranny—as the forerunners of those secular ideas of progresswhich flourished in the eighteenth century. The great weakness of somany studies of the idea of progress in the eighteenth and nineteenthcenturies is their serene conviction that between Christian prophecyand the kind of idea of progress we find in, say, Condorcet at the endof the eighteenth century, there is no affinity (in the sense ofhistorical lineage) whatever, only conflict. Not, this erroneousargument goes, until Christianity with its idea of Providence had beenrouted, was it possible for a perspective of human progress to make itsappearance.

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The Essay on Human Understanding, that most distinguished of all his works, is to be considered as a system, at its first appearance absolutely new, and directly opposite to the notions and persuasions then established in the world. Now as it seldom happens that the person who first suggests a discovery in any science is at the same time solicitous, or perhaps qualified to lay open all the consequences that follow from it; in such a work much of course is left to the reader, who must carefully apply the leading principles to many cases and conclusions not there specified. To what else but a neglect of this application shall we impute it that there are still numbers amongst us who profess to pay the greatest deference to Mr. Locke, and to be well acquainted with his writings, and would perhaps take it ill to have this pretension questioned; yet appear either wholly unable, or unaccustomed, to draw the natural consequence from any one of his principal positions? Why, for instance, do we still continue so unsettled in the first principles and foundation of morals? How came we not to perceive that by the very same arguments which that great author used with so much success in extirpating innate ideas, he most effectually eradicated all innate or connate senses, instincts, &c. by not only leading us to conclude that every such sense must, in the very nature of it, imply an object correspondent to and of the same standing with itself, to which it refers [as each relative implies its correlate], the real existence of which object he has confuted in every shape; but also by showing that for each moral proposition men actually want and may demand a reason or proof deduced from another science, and founded on natural good and evil: and consequently where no such reason can be assigned, these same senses or instincts, with whatever titles decorated, whether styled sympathetic or sentimental, common or intuitive,—ought to be looked upon as no more than mere habits; under which familiar name their authority is soon discovered, and their effects accounted for.

The first part of Locke’s most important work of philosophy. Continued in volume 2.

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P. S. Having heard that some of Mr. Locke’s were in the possession of those gentlemen to whom the library at Oates belonged, on application made to Mr. Palmer, he was so obliging as to offer that a search should be made after them, and orders given for communicating all that could be found there; but as this notice comes unhappily too late to be made use of on the present occasion, I can only take the liberty of intimating it along with some other sources of intelligence, which I have endeavoured to lay open, and which may probably afford matter for a supplemental volume, as abovementioned.

CIPFA 2012-2013 statistics published in December 2013 [4] show the continued high-levels of use of UK public library services:

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Georges Sorel, in his The Illusions of Progress, wouldpronounce the conclusion, indeed the whole Fontenellean argument, ashabby piece of bourgeois trickery. The reasoning of the Moderns, Sorelwrites, is entirely circular. First, Molière, Racine, and others arepronounced superior to Aeschylus and Sophocles. From this superiority,progress as a principle in human history may be deduced. But how can webe sure that a Molière is the superior to an Aeschylus? Because mankindis always advancing, improving, progressing in its knowledge, and thosewho come later are the inevitable beneficiaries of those earlier. We,as a human race, know more than did our primitive forerunners: ergo, a seventeenth century dramatist is bound to be greater than one of the fifth century B.C.