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Lockean essences, political posturing, and John Toland's reading of Isaac Newton's principia (1).


With a letter published in the first issue of the Post Man for February 1720 the Irish-born deist, John Toland (1670-1722), responded to criticism of his Christianity not Mysterious (1696) by the Reverend Francis Hare. Hare claimed that Toland's writings bore some similarity to John Locke's; but also that Toland employed the famed philosopher to support positions with which Locke would have disagreed. (2) Toland denied this accusation and assured readers of the newspaper that "I have never named Mr. Locke in any Edition of that Book; and that far from often quoting him I have not as much brought one Quotation out of him to support notions he never dream 'd of." (3) Despite Toland's claim to the contrary, Locke's fingerprints are evident throughout his many books. This article outlines one specific use of Locke by Toland and in so doing touches on the themes of politics, patronage, and piety in early modern Britain. I demonstrate that Toland's acceptance of Locke's distinction between real and nominal essences provides the epistemological underpinnings of his early writings on self-moving matter and his interpretation of Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687), both seen in Toland's Letters to Serena (1704). Justin Champion has recently urged scholars to treat all Toland's writings as a whole, especially those on religion, rather than seeking anticipations of his later works. (4) Mindful of his advice, in what follows I examine Toland's writings for a defined period, 1696-1704, including Christianity not Mysterious, Letters to Serena, (5) and several political tracts, to present his continuity of argument where Locke's epistemology is concerned.

While Toland's philosophical and literary relationship with Locke was close, personally they remained only casual acquaintances. Before Toland returned from studies in Holland in August 1693, he solicited letters of introduction to Locke from Philippus van Limborch and Benjamin Furly, men with whom Locke associated during his self-imposed exile after attempts to exclude James II from the crown had failed. Limborch described Toland as "an excellent and not unlearned young man," while Furly requested Locke find employment for Toland who had "cast off the yoak of Spiritual Authority, that great bugbear, and bane of ingenuity." (6) Locke met with Toland briefly but did not fulfil Furly's request. Toland then travelled to Oxford with the intention of composing an Irish dictionary. There he associated with Edward Lhwyd, keeper of the Ashmolean, who was impressed with Toland's linguistic abilities. (7) Lhwyd noted, however, that Toland was "eminent for railing in coffee houses against all communities in religion, and monarch." (8) Toland's behaviour also drew criticism from others. Arthur Charlett, master of University College, Oxford, commented that Toland's actions were "so publick and notorious here" as he "pretended to great Intrigues and correspondencys, and by that means abused the names of some very great Men." (9) Aside from cultivating a reputation as a braggart, Toland became known as a "man of fine parts, great learning and little religion," who was writing a book "to show, that there is no such thing as Mystery in our Religion." (10) The tome was Christianity not Mysterious. Locke also knew about Toland's writings. John Freke sent him some of Toland's drafts in March 1695. Locke indicated he was aware that Toland used his philosophy when he replied to Freke that the owner of the Essay Concerning Human Understanding is free to do with it as he pleased. (11)

Toland considered Locke's Essay "to be the most useful Book towards attaining universal Knowledge...." (12) It is well known that Locke denied the existence of innate principles. He claimed that all knowledge of the world originates in sensory experience and reflection on that experience. (13) Locke insisted that people have knowledge of nothing of which they cannot form ideas. He maintained that one's reason should be considered as the mental contemplation of the agreement or disagreement of ideas gained by experience. Where the agreement or disagreement of ideas cannot be determined by reason, one can only have knowledge of that portion of the ideas, which were successfully compared. (14)

Toland embraced this epistemology. Indeed, he asserted, reason is the "Foundation of all Certitude." (15) Like Locke, he viewed reason as a mental faculty:
 Every one experiences in himself a Power or Faculty of various Ideas
 or Perceptions of things: Of affirming or denying, according as he
 sees them to agree or disagree: And so of loving and desiring what
 seems good unto him; and of hating and avoiding what he thinks evil.
 The right Use of all these Faculties is what we call Common Sense,
 or Reason in general. (16)

In Christianity not Mysterious Toland suggested that this process should be used to understand every important concept in the Bible. His faith in human reason was predicated on his particular belief in God. In accordance with Andrew Cunningham's assertion that conceptions of God prefigure any scheme of natural philosophy in the early modern era, an understanding of Toland's theology is essential to any meaningful interpretation of his natural philosophical writings. (17) Toland believed God was a revealer who required the understanding only of that which reason could know. God created humanity with the abilities of perception and judgement who "also endu'd us with the Power of suspending our Judgement about whatever is uncertain, and of never assenting but to clear Perceptions." This statement contains the key to Toland's argument: Christians need not know the mysteries of their religion, because mysteries by their very nature are not clear. Toland does not deny that mysteries exist, but writes that God does not require knowledge of them nor does he command faith based upon them. In his words: "nothing can be said to be a mystery, because we have not an adequate Idea of it, or a distinct view of all its Properties at once." No aspect of the Creation is more mysterious than any other, one has an equal level of knowledge in all instances. This even applied to the Apocalypse. Toland suggested that it "is not the Doctrine of the Resurrection then, you see, that is here call'd a Mystery, but only this particular Circumstance of it, viz. That the Living shall at the sound of the last Trumpet put off their flesh and Blood, or their Mortality, without Dying, and be in an instant rendered incorruptible and immortal as well as those that shall revive." (18) One knew God could raise the dead, but one was not required to understand how this would be done.

The description of an adequate idea of a thing or Biblical passage occupied much of Christianity not Mysterious. Toland differentiated between important and unimportant knowledge by again borrowing from the Essay. "I distinguish after an excellent modern Philosopher, the Nominal from the Real Essence of a thing." (19) The unnamed philosopher was indeed Locke, according to whom real essences made a thing what it was; it consisted of an item's internal structure. Real essences, however, could never be known; neither human senses nor microscopes were powerful enough to penetrate into the microstructure of things. (20) As Locke put it: our knowledge comes "short of the reality of things." (21) All that could be studied were nominal essences, names representing a collection of observed properties, concepts used to group things, not necessarily corresponding to the unknown real essences. (22)

Toland accepted that God provided humanity the capacity to know only nominal essences (useful knowledge); God did not command the understanding of real essences (useless knowledge). An adequate idea, therefore, was knowledge of nominal essences. "[N]othing can be said to be a mystery, because we are ignorant of its Real Essence, because, since it is no more knowable in one thing than in the other, and it is never conceiv'd or included in the ideas we have of things." (23) Thus, all necessary knowledge communicated by God through the Bible or the book of nature would be in plain language. Mysteries were real essences and unknowable. God was no deceiver: he did not require that people assent to things they cannot know. This was not mere divine courtesy; it was an immutable law. "Whoever reveals anything, ... his words must be intelligible, and the Matter possible. This rule holds good, let God or Man be the Revealer." This belief extended into Toland's natural philosophical studies. After commenting on the particulate structure of his writing desk he asserted that "knowing nothing of Bodies but their properties, God has wisely provided we should understand no more of these than are useful and necessary for us, which is all our present Condition needs." (24) That is, God ensured that all necessary knowledge of matter would be within the intellectual capacity of humanity. Philosophers would be able to know the properties of matter, which form our ideas of it, but nothing more. Like his mentor, Toland believed that the causes of these ideas remained unknowable.

Toland spent the years between 1696 and 1704 defending Christianity not Mysterious from its many refutations while attempting to find political employment. (25) In early 1697 he travelled to Ireland with the goal of becoming secretary to John Methuen, the new Lord Chancellor. Toland's boastful behaviour and unfounded claims of political favour ensured Methuen provided Toland with nothing. (26) Toland fled to England in September after the Irish Committee of Religion ruled that Christianity not Mysterious contained "several Heretical Doctrines" and ordered the book be "publickly burnt by the hands of the Common Hangman. Likewise, That the Author thereof John Toland be taken into the Custody of the Serjeant at Arms...." (27)

It was also during 1697 that Toland's tenuous relationship with Locke was severed. Critics recognised immediately that Toland found support in Locke's writings. Edward Stillingfleet, Bishop of Worchester, incorrectly believed that Locke and Toland were philosophical allies. Stillingfleet and Locke exchanged several pamphlets as Locke attempted to distance himself from Toland. (28) Locke knew of Toland's actions in Ireland through correspondence with the Dublin philosopher William Molyneux. Molyneux initially described Toland as "a Candid Free Thinker, and a Good Scholar." Locke's reply advised caution in dealing with a man whom he feared was prone to bouts of unrestrained vanity. As Molyneux spent more time with Toland he concurred with Locke's assessment, writing that Toland's actions were not "so prudent" and that he had an "Unreasonable Way of Discoursing, propagating, and Maintaining it ... when a Tincture of Vanity appear in the Whole Course of a Mans Conversations, it disgusts many...." Furthermore, Toland claimed Locke, whom he had met but once, as a personal friend. Molyneux asked Locke to correct Toland's imprudent behaviour. Locke replied that Toland "is a man to whom I have never writ in my life, and, I think, I shall not now begin." (29) Whatever relation had existed between the two men was at an end.

Toland returned to England eager to capitalise on his fame, producing editions of political authors from previous generations including James Harrington, Algemon Sidney, John Milton, and Edmund Ludlow, commonwealthmen whom Toland believed argued for the same structure of government, and personal liberty, he wished to see in his day. (30) He dedicated the books to persons who could fulfil his ambition such as "The Lord Mayor, Aldermen, Sherifs, and Common Council of London" whom he praised for creating a climate of religious toleration in the capital. (31) This strategy for advancement failed; the Aldermen defeated a motion to pay Toland for the dedication. (32) Toland's own political writings from this time reveal a common theme--the duty of government to secure the liberties of those over whom it ruled. (33) Toland believed politicians spent too much time concerned with party politics at the expense of defending national liberties, such as freedom of religion, thought and the press: themes that figured prominently in Christianity not Mysterious and its defences. As he put it "To employ one's Thoughts on what he pleases, and to speak as freely as he thinks, is the greatest Advantage of living in a free Government...." (34)

Toland strongly favoured the Act of Settlement (1701) which secured Protestantism in England and prevented a return of the Stuart monarchy and their Catholicism; he articulated his support in Anglia Libera where he also endorsed the House of Hanover as the new line of succession. He urged all Britons to include the Hanoverian monarchs in their prayers. (35) The book earned Toland a place in the mission led by Lord Macclesfield to present the Act in person to the Electress Sophia of Hanover in July 1701. Toland used the opportunity to display his erudition in many discussions with her. (36) Sophia introduced Toland to her privy counsellor, the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and to her daughter Sophia Charlotte, Queen of Prussia with whom Toland debated religion and natural philosophy. Toland's overly familiar proceedings with Sophia and the Queen did not go unreported in England. (37) Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third earl of Shaftesbury, former pupil of Locke, wrote Toland on 21 July 1701 urging decorum while in Hanover and reminding him that his behaviour reflected on both him and England. Toland ignored this advice, and his conversations with Sophia Charlotte and her mother continued. He returned to England in late 1701 with great admiration for the Hanoverian court.

Aside from politics Toland's writings demonstrate his continued adherence to the distinction between nominal and real essences. This commitment is evident in Vindicius Liberius (1702), written after the Lower House of Convocation attempted to censure Christianity not Mysterious in 1701. Toland maintained that not knowing real essences makes everything equally mysterious; we have the same level of knowledge concerning all aspects of the Creation. People must recognise that things God wishes known will be known and those that are not important remain unknowable. The relevant section is lengthy but it reveals Toland's continued indebtedness to Locke's epistemology. He argued that one knows
 not the real Essence of anything in the World, ... that Things were
 only known to us by their Properties, yet that we had not a distinct
 View even of all the Properties of any Thing at once: that every
 Pebble and Spire of Glass being in many of their Properties, and
 altogether in their Essence, above our Understanding, nothing ought
 to be peculiarly call'd a Mystery on this Account, since every Thing
 was so: and that therefore when we knew as many of the Properties of
 any Thing as made us understand the Name of it, and as were useful
 and necessary for us, this was enough for our present Condition, and
 we might be reasonably said to comprehend it.

 At last from several Reasonings to this Purpose, I conclude that
 nothing is a Mystery because we know not its Essence ... I declar'd
 my self fixt in the Opinion that what infinite Goodness has not bin
 pleas 'd to reveal to us, we are sufficiently capable to discover
 our selves, or need not understand it all. But this in the Opinion
 of the lower House, is atheistical and detestable, dangerous,
 pernitious, scandalous, and destructive of the Christian Faith. (38)

What is more, the book demonstrates that Toland believed his epistemological stance rested upon the same principle of liberty found in his works on government. This also underpinned the Act of Settlement: "Tis from this same Principle of Liberty that the Whigs have bin so forward and active in providing for the Succession of the Crown, and settling it in the Protestant Line on the most excellent Princess SOPHIA and her Issue in the House of Hanover...." (39) By this statement Toland meant that the House of Hanover provided its subjects the religious freedom and protection from tyrannical government that he argued for in his writings. Though the national religion in Hanover was Lutheran, other Protestants enjoyed "complete Liberty of Conscience." (40) This was a practice Toland wished to see in England.

The Lower House never succeeded in its attempt at prosecution. In early 1702 Toland sought new political contacts. He wrote to Shaflesbury requesting a letter of introduction to the Whig Peer Lord Halifax. (41) Shaftesbury obliged Toland, but the political scene in England changed on 19 March 1702 when William III died. Toland saw William as a protector of religious liberties, a policy that he was not certain would continue under Queen Anne. He journeyed to Sophia's court and would spend much of the next eight years on the Continent.

The consequences of Toland's epistemology are evident in his description of a materialistic universe as first described in Letters to Serena (1704). When Toland returned to Hanover he again debated with Leibniz and Sophia Charlotte. The book resulted from these discussions with the Queen and her philosopher. Toland confirms this in the preface when he denied that "Serena ... was an imaginary Lady ... I assure you ... she'd a very real Person...." (42) A letter in Toland's manuscripts supports his claim. The undated letter to an anonymous mother and daughter contained a copy of Toland's Tetradymus (1720) for the daughter and details his desire for the proliferation of philosophy among women of merit. (43) What is more, by composing Letters to Serena for Sophia Charlotte, whose intellect received constant praise in his accounts of Hanover, Toland was establishing a position next to persons of future political importance by presenting himself as an authority in the natural philosophy of the nation Sophia and her family would rule. Indeed, when the Electress died in 1714 Toland lamented that she would never become queen of England and that his chance for a life of ease at court died too. (44)

Letters to Serena reveals that Toland knew much contemporary natural philosophy. When he was at the University of Edinburgh (circa 1690-91), David Gregory exposed him to Newton's mathematics and while in Oxford Toland read the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, in addition to being a regular fixture at the Bodleian where Toland noted he was "pretty well furnisht" with books. (45) Toland presented his discussion of matter and motion as a critique of Spinoza whose philosophy he learned from a group of Spinozists in Holland. (46) Although he endorsed Spinoza's method of biblical criticism, Toland faulted his natural philosophy. He believed Spinoza's system did not account for the origin of motion. This was a fatal oversight in Toland's view because for him motion was key to the various formations and appearances of matter. Therefore, Toland thought motion a part of the definition of matter, hence one aspect of its nominal essence. He provided no proof of this but nevertheless claimed "Motion is essential to Matter, that is to say, as inseparable from its nature as Impenetrability or Extension, and that it ought to make a part of its Definition." Toland did, however, agree with Spinoza that the universe was composed entirely of one substance, which could be conceived of as individual separate bodies, but these did not actually exist. (47)

Toland posited that the motion of the imagined particles of matter resulted from the constant motion of the universal matter, which he labelled as "Action." "Action" (48) was also the cause of all other more localised motions.
 [I]f I be able to prove from the nature of the thing it self ...
 that Action is essential to Matter, that Matter cannot be rightly
 conceiv'd nor consequently be rightly defin'd without it, that
 nothing can be accounted for in Matter without this essential Action
 ... then they may quarrel ... with God or Nature, and not with me,
 who am but their humble Interpreter. (49)

While Toland's refusal to provide an account of the underlying cause of motion is not immediately identical to his denial of knowledge of real essences, it ought to be seen as an extension of the same epistemology. Toland believed that God created self-moving matter; however, he further claimed the internal structure of matter upon which our idea of its motion rests was an unknowable real essence. Toland followed an axiom established in Christianity not Mysterious: "[We are] neither to trouble our selves nor others with what is useless, were it known; or what is impossible to be known at all." (50) In the case of matter our idea of its motion tells us nothing about the true being of matter. We know it has motion, but not why. In the same way that Christians need not know the real essence of the Apocalypse, the internal mechanism of matter remained unimportant knowledge. It was enough to know that it moved; and, that motion is "essential" to our idea and definition of matter. No further knowledge was possible.

There was, Toland continued, a simple reason why motion was not recognised as an aspect of matter's nominal essence. Matter was frequently "abstracted from motion, as Motion is from Matter ... each of these ... is taken by itself without any Consideration of the rest, whereas in reality the motion of Matter depends on its Solidity and Extension...." (51) Toland here argues one cannot conceive of matter without conceiving of solidity, extension, and motion, thus making all three inseparable ideas of matter and hence form its nominal essence. Incomplete definitions led to improper conceptions of nature. One of the arguments Toland used to remove mysteries from Christianity is again evident. Just as priests obscured the intended clarity of Christianity, Toland believed philosophical authorities had done the same to the book of nature; and thereby prevented natural philosophers from acknowledging that motion ought to be essential to our idea of matter. (52) Only in an atmosphere of intellectual freedom, such as Toland described in his political works, can philosophers have a complete idea of matter. Indeed, in the second edition of Christianity not Mysterious he concluded that knowledge based on the mysteries of religion led to acceptance of similar practises in natural philosophy: "Mysteries in religion are but ill argu'd from the pretended Mysteries of Nature; and that such as endeavour to support the former by the latter, have either a design to impose upon others, or that they have never themselves duely consider'd of this Matter." (53)

Claims of self-moving matter, argued Toland, did not remove God from the universe. He, like Locke before him, claimed that one does not know how God created matter. (54) While Locke referred to the possibility that matter may have a power of thought, Toland noted that one simply cannot know what properties God gave matter. "Besides, that God was able to create this Matter active as well as extended, that he cou'd give it the one Property as well as the other, and that no reason can be assign'd why he should not endue it with the former as well as with the latter...." (55) Although God granted motion to matter, it did not mean He abandoned the creation. Toland believed that an organising principle existed in nature. How else could one explain the "Formation of Animals or Plants ... the Organization of a Flower or a Fly ...?" (56)

Letters to Serena contains several references to Isaac Newton from which Toland drew support for his views. It is not surprising that Toland sought connections with Newton. By 1704 Newton was fast becoming England's most eminent natural philosopher. Nevertheless, the book that earned Newton his fame remained admired rather than understood. (57) Past controversies made Newton reluctant to be simplistic in his presentation. As his friend William Derham recalled: "to avoid being baited by little Smatterers in Mathematicks, [Newton] has told me, he designedly made his Principia abtruse.... (58) Newton's refusal to explain the Principia to the English pubic meant that readers were forced to interpret Newtonian philosophy themselves. Toland was one such reader. Throughout his description of matter and motion, Toland believed much of the Principia supported him. He first cited Newton as promoting the correct methodology in natural philosophy; stating that philosophers should "acquaint themselves before hand with the Observation and Facts ... as Mr. NEWTON justly observes." That is, one ought to look in nature for instruction and not accept the passivity of matter based on philosophical tradition, or authority. Toland's insistence on knowledge based on observation squares with his commitment in Christianity not Mysterious that one can know only nominal essences. (59)

Toland embraced concepts in the Principia, which he believed complimented his worldview, such as universal gravitation.
 It may not be difficult to persuade even Persons of moderate
 Capacity, that there cou'd be no Levity or Gravity in the suppos'd
 Chaos, and that these Qualities wholly depend on the Constitution
 and Fabrick of the Universe; which is to say, that they are the
 Consequences of the World in actual being.... To imagine that any
 Parcel of Matter has Levity or gravity of itself, because you see
 those Effects in the Fabrick of the World; or to deduce it from the
 common Laws of Gravitation, is not only to imagine Matter alike in
 all place, but that the Wheels, and Springs, and Chains of a Watch
 can perform all those Motions separately which they do together.

Thus, according to Toland's interpretation, gravity depended on the "Fabrick of the Universe," which in his philosophy was material. The interconnectedness of the universe made gravity possible, in the same way that the "Action" of the whole accounted for motion of the particular. The universe operated as a clock, all the "Springs, and Chains" working in harmony. If actual separate parts did exist, they would be as a spring removed from a watch, doing nothing, until it was inserted back among the other pieces. The same was true of the universe: pieces did not move until they were part of the whole. Gravity was binding the universe. This is what Toland took to mean "The Fabrick of the Universe" and this is partly what Toland meant when he claimed Newton's work fitted his worldview.

It did not matter that Newton envisioned gravity as a force operating in God's space described mathematically as inversely proportional to the square of the distances between bodies. (61) Toland was only concerned with taking those parts from Newtonian mechanics that he believed supported him without considering Newton's metaphysical foundations for them. This is seen in the following statement: "Tho Mr. Newton be deemed an Advocate for extended incorporeal Space, yet he declares that perhaps no one Body is in absolute rest...." As noted earlier Toland believed that bodies of matter were thought of as separate systems of particles, but in reality were "not actually separate from the Extension of the Universe." (62) And, since gravity depended on the material fabric of the universe, Toland believed that immaterial space was a contradiction. He ignored the one aspect of Newton's work, that of absolute space, while accepting what he saw as arguments in favour of inherent motion.

The Principia Could be read as supporting constant motion, as Toland explained. Newton "who has seen the farthest of all Men living into the actual State of Matter; and indeed all Physicks ought to be denominated from the Title he has given to the first Book of his Principles, viz. Of the Motion of Bodies." (63) As if to conclude that Newton did not believe bodies were ever truly motionless, Toland then examined gravity once more.
 Notable Effects depend on these Forces ... wherefore the centripetal
 being much greater than the centrifugal Force of the Parts of the
 Earth, taking in likewise the Atmosphere, is one main reason that it
 never loses any of its Matter, and that it always continues of the
 same Bulk or Dimensions, the centripetal Force of Gravity detains
 the Several Bodys in their Orbit, being considerably stronger than
 the centrifugal Force of Motion, by which they strive to fly off in
 the Tangent. Let the causes of these Forces be what they will, they
 are unanswerable arguments to my purpose of a perpetual Motion in
 all things. (64)

While Toland, like Newton, refused to speculate on the cause of "these Forces" he viewed them as supporting his hypothesis of constant universal motion. The fact that the centripetal force of gravity always drew the Earth, and all its "Matter," into orbit around the Sun and that the centrifugal force was always too weak to overcome the attraction of Sun implied that the Earth and everything upon it was never truly at rest. Toland saw the constant motion of the Earth as evidence of the constant motion of the universe and the matter of which it was built. Thus, Newton's conception of centripetal force became for Toland evidence of perpetual motion. He explained that gravity, like other local motions, was a result of the "Action" of the universe "be their Physical Causes what you please...." (65) Toland never attempted to determine the causes of motion. Such information, like the mysteries of Scripture, was not needed for this life. In the same way that action was inherent in our idea of matter, gravity was inherent in our idea of the material universe. Armed with his conception of material space, which was the location of gravity, combined with the constant action of the centripetal force of universal gravitation, Toland believed he had accounted for all phenomena in the universe.

John Toland grounded his early natural philosophy on the level of understanding he believed attainable and used Locke's Essay to support his arguments; the distinction between nominal and real essences formed Toland's dichotomy of useful and useless knowledge. He did not engage in a search for the cause of motion, which he understood to be a fruitless quest for a real essence. This approach combined with Toland's insistence that God provided the capacity to understand only nominal essences meant he merely had to demonstrate that motion was part of our idea and definition of matter. Toland's interpretation of Newton's Principia ought to be viewed in conjunction with his writings and political experiences that immediately precede it. When this is done, it becomes clear that Toland read Newton the only way his Lockean epistemology allowed.

(1) For their aid I thank Larry Stewart, Steve Snobelen, Maggie Osler, and Alison Jeppescn. A Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship and the Department of History, University of Saskatchewan provided financial assistance. All quotations retain the original spelling and italics.

(2) British Library, Additional Manuscript [hereafter cited as BL Add. MS] 4465 ff. 57r-58r. Toland's other criticisms of Hare are in BL Add. MS 4292 f. 44r.

(3) The Post Man 30 January to 2 February 1720; Hate's reply is in the Daily Current 3 February 1720.

(4) J.A.I. Champion, "John Toland: The Politics of Pantheism," Revue de Synthese, 116 (1995), 269-270. Champion is especially critical of Margaret C. Jacob in this regard; however, other examples are Robert Rees Evans, Pantheisticon: The Career of John Toland (New York, 1991); Stephen H. Daniel, John Toland: His Methods, Manners, and Mind (Montreal, 1984); Gavina Luigia Cherchi, "Atheism, Dissimulation and Atomism in the Philosophy of John Toland" (diss, The Warburg Institute, University of London, 1994).

(5) John Toland, Christianity not Mysterious or, a Treatise Shewing, That there is nothing in the Gospel Contrary to Reason, Nor Above it: And that no Christian Doctrine can be properly call'd A Mystery [hereafter cited as CNM] (London, 1696); John Toland, Letters to Serena [hereafter cited as Serena] (London, 1704).

(6) Philippus van Limborch to Locke, 25 July/4 August 1693; Benjamin Furly to Locke, 9/19 August 1693, in E. S. De Beer (ed.), The Correspondence of John Locke (Oxford, 1967-89), IV, 704-705, 710-11.

(7) Edward Lhwyd to J. Aubrey, 9 January 1693/94; Lhwyd to Dr. Lister, 13 March 1693/94, in R. T. Gunther (ed.) Early Science in Oxford, XIV, Life and Letters of Edward Lhwyd (reprint ed., London, 1968), pp. 217, 232-233.

(8) Lhwyd to Lister, 6-16 June, 1695, Letters of Edward Lhwyd, p. 278. See also Bodleian Library, Allard [hereafter cited as Bod. Ballard] MS 5 f. 27r. Edmund Gibson advised Arthur Charlett that "Toland was arraign'd and convicted in the coffee-House for burning a Common-Prayer-book" (Gibson to Charlett, 9 April 1694).

(9) Dr. Arthur Charlett to Archbishop Tenison, 25 October 1695, in S. R. Maitland, "Toland," Notes and Queries 3rd ser., 4 January (1862), 7.

(10) A_A_ to John Toland, 4 May 1694; For Mr. Toland, 30 May 1694 in A Collection of Several Pieces of John Toland (1729; facsimile reprint, New York, 1977), I, 295, 312.

(11) John Locke to John Freke and Edward Clarke, 2 April 1695, Correspondence of John Locke, V, 324-325; John C. Biddle, "Locke's Critique of Innate Principles and Toland's Deism," Journal of the History of Ideas, 37 (1976), 418-22.

(12) Serena, p. 226. There were three editions of the Essay by 1696; I have used the first. References to the Essay are by page number followed by book, chapter, and section.

(13) John Locke, An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding [hereafter cited as Essay] (London, 1689 [1690]), pp. 345, 347 (4. 17. l; 4. 17. 14).

(14) Essay, p. 269 (4. 3. 1; 4.3.2.)

(15) CNM, p. 6.

(16) CNM, p. 9.

(17) Andrew Cunningham, "How the Principia Got Its Name; or, Taking Natural Philosophy Seriously," History of Science, 29 (1991), 388-89.

(18) CNM, pp. 20, 75, 106. I include this example of Paul Christianson and his studies of apocalyptic thought in seventeenth-century England. See Christianson's Reformers and Babylon: English Apocalyptic Visions from the Reformation to the End of the Civil War (Toronto, 1978).

(19) CNM, p. 84.

(20) Robert A. Wilson, "Locke's Primary Qualities," Journal of the History of Philosophy, 40 (2002), 203.

(21) Essay, p. 269, (4. 3.6).

(22) Essay, p. 195, (3. 3. 15); James P. Dancher, "Real Essences," The Locke Newsletter, 23 (1992), 83-84, 96-97, 102.

(23) CNM, p. 85.

(24) CNM, pp. 41-42, 76.

(25) See Justin Champion, Republican learning: John Toland and the Crisis of Christian Culture, 1696-1722 (Manchester, 2003), pp. 45-68; 116-40.

(26) BL Add. MS 4292 ff. 27r, 28r; Simms, "John Toland," 309; Daniel, John Toland, p. 151.

(27) Quoted in John Toland, An Apology for Mr Toland, in a Letter from Himself to a Member of the House of Commons in Ireland; Written the Day Before his Book was Resolv'd to be Burnt by the Committee of Religion (London, 1697), p. 24.

(28) Edward Stillingfleet, A Discourse in Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity: with an Answer to the Late Socinian Objections (second edn, London, 1697); John Marhsall, John Locke: Resistance, Religion and Responsibility (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 409-10.

(29) William Molyneux to Locke, 16 March 1697; Molyneux to Locke, 6 April 1697; Locke to Molyneux, 3 May 1697; Molyneux to Locke, 27 May 1697; Locke to Molyneux, 15 June 1697: all letters cited in Correspondence of John Locke, VI, 40-41, 83, 105, 132, 143.

(30) J.G.A. Pocock, Virtue, Commerce, and History: Essays on Political Thought and History, Chiefly in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge, 1985), p. 232. See also Champion, Republican Learning, pp. 93-115.

(31) John Toland (ed.), The Oceana and Other Works of James Harrington Esq (third edn, London, 1747), i, iii-iv.

(32) Bod. Ballard MS 4 f. 54 (Thomas Tanner to Chrlett, 6 May 1700).

(33) John Toland, The Danger of Mercenary Parliaments (London, 1698), pp. 1-2; John Toland, The Art of Governing by Parties (London, 1701), p. 7.

(34) John Toland, The Militia Reform'd: or, an Easy Scheme of Furnishing England with a Constant Land-Force, capable of prevent or to subdue any Foreign Power; and to maintain perpetual Quiet at Home, without endangering the Public Liberty (second edn, London, 1699), pp. 6-9, [quote on p. 4]; John Toland, A Letter to a Member of Parliament, Shewing that a Restraint of the Press is Inconsistent with the Protestant Religion and Dangerous to the Liberties of Nation. (London, 1698), pp. 3-4, 11.

(35) John Toland, Anglia Libera: or the Limitation and Succession of the Crown of England Explain'd and Asserted (London, 1701), pp. 29, 106, 144.

(36) Sophia, Electress of Hanover, to the Duke of Newcastle, 10 October 1701 in Report on the Manuscripts of his Grace The Duke of Portland, K. G, Preserved at Welbeck Abbey (London, 1907), II, 180.

(37) Public Record Office, London [hereafter cited as PRO] 30/24/21, f. 231 (Shaftesbury to Toland, 21 July 1701); see also Lawrence E. Klein, Shaftesbury and the Culture of Politeness: Moral Discourse and Cultural Politics in Early Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 16, 48, 126, 137-38, 157. Toland's claims of political favour earned him a mugging in 1703 when his boasting of Robert Harley's patronage raised the suspicions of Harley's rivals Godolphin and Marlborough who employed thugs to beat him. Toland's account is in BL Add. MS 4465, f. 3r.

(38) John Toland, Vindicus Liberius: or, M. Toland's Defence of himself Against the late Lower House of Convocation (London, 1702), p. 19.

(39) Toland, Vindicus Liberius, p. 29.

(40) John Toland, An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover (second edn, London, 1706), 56. The book contained letters composed in 1702.

(41) BL Add. MS 7121 ff. 59, 61.

(42) Michel Fichant, "Leibniz et Toland: philosophic pour Princesses?," Revue de Synthese, 116 (1995), 421-39; Rienk Vermij, "Matter and Motion: Toland and Spinoza," in Wiep Van Bunge and Wim Klever (eds.), Disguised and Overt Spinozism around 1700 (Leiden, 1996), p. 276; J.G. Simms, "John Toland (1670-1722), a Donegal Heretic," Irish Historical Studies, 16 (1968/69), 315; F.H. Heinemann, "Toland and Leibniz," The Philosophical Review, 54 (1945), 441.

(43) BL Add. MS 4465 ff. 44, 45; see also Champion, Republican Learning, pp. 52-55.

(44) Toland, Courts of Prussia and Hanover, p. 32; Toland, Collection, II, 431-32.

(45) Margaret C. Jacob, The Newtonians and the English Revolution 1689-1720 (New York, 1976), p. 211; Alexander Grant, The Story of the University of Edinburgh During its First Three Hundred Years (London, 1884), II, 296; Lhwyd to Lister, 13 March 1694, in Letters of Edward Lhwyd, pp. 232-33; BL Add. MS 4292 f. 42v.

(46) Eugene Inglish Dyche, "The Life and Works, and Philosophical Relations, of John (Janus Junius) Toland 1670-1722" (diss. University of Southern California, 1944), p.32.

(47) Rienk Vermij, "Matter and Motion: Toland and Spinoza," 275-76. The origin of Toland's materialism is contested. Margaret Jacob's position, that Giordano Bruno was Toland's inspiration, guides many studies see: "John Toland and the Newtonian Ideology," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 32 (1969), 307-31; The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheism, Freemasons and Republicans (London, 1981). Jacob's influence is clear in David Kubrin, "Newton inside Out!: Magic, Class Struggle, and the Rise of Mechanism in the West," in Harry Woolf(ed.), The Analytic Spirit (Ithaca, 1981); Philip McGuinness, "'The Hue and Cry of Heresy': John Toland, Isaac Newton and the Social Context of Scientists," History Ireland, 4, (1996), 22-27. Other scholars note Stoic and Epicurean influences on Toland see Evans, Pantheisticon; Cherchi, "Atheism, Dissimulation and Atomism;" Robert E. Sullivan, John Toland and the Deist Controversy: A Study in Adaptations (Cambridge, MA, 1982). My purpose here is to describe the depth of knowledge Toland thought attainable about the creation, and how this informed his reading of Newton, therefore his materialism will be assumed and its origins not addressed.

(48) Pierre Lurbe, "Matiere, Nature, Mouvement Chez D'Holbach et Toland," Dix-Huitieme Siecle, 24 (1992), 54-55.

(49) Serena, p. 160-61.

(50) CNM, p. 79.

(51) Serena, pp. 218-19.

(52) Serena, p. 171.

(53) John Toland, Christianity not Mysterious The Second Edition Enlarged (London, 1696), p. 89.

(54) Essay, p. 270 (4.3.6); John W. Yolton, Thinking Matter: Materialism in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Minneapolis, 1983), pp. 14-19.

(55) Serena, pp. 234-35.

(56) Serena, pp. 235-36.

(57) Rob Iliffe, "'Is He Like Other Men?' The Meaning of Principia Mathematiea, and the Author as Idol," in Gerald Maclean (ed.), Culture and Society in the Stuart Restoration: Literature, Drama, History (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 159-176; Stephen Snobelen, "On Reading Isaac Newton's Principia in the 18th Century," Endeavour, 22, no. 4 (1998), 159-63.

(58) King's College, Cambridge, Keynes MS 133 f. 10 (William Derham to John Conduitt, 18 July 1733).

(59) See also the notes Toland exchanged with Lord Molesworth in the margins of a shared copy of Martin Martin, A description of the Western Islands of Scotland ... With a ... map ... To which is added a brief description of the Isles of Orkney and Shetland. Second edition ... corrected (London, 1716), 392 pp. Toland criticized Martin's tendency to relate stories on the word of tradition rather then endeavouring to determine the truth for himself and commented that this was "unworthy a fellow of the Royal Society." (Bodleian Library, Gough Scotland 185, p. 5.)

(60) Serena, p. 184.

(61) J.E. McGuire, "Force, Active Principles, and Newton's Invisible Realm," in J.E. McGuire, Tradition and Innovation: Newton's Metaphysics of Nature (Dordrecht, 1995), pp. 190-238.

(62) Serena, p. 173.

(63) Serena, pp. 201-202.

(64) Serena, pp. 206-207.

(65) Serena, p. 208.

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Author:Wigelsworth, Jeffrey R.
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Date:Dec 1, 2003
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