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Title: Philosophical Works, v. 1 (of 4) - Including all the Essays, and Exhibiting the more Important - Alterations and Corrections in the Successive Editions - Published by the Author
Author: Hume, David
Language: English
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[Illustration: Allan Ramsey pinx.--Robert Grace Sculp.--David Hume]


The Philosophical Writings of Mr Hume are here for the first time
collected in a uniform edition. The Essays are reprinted from the
Edition of 1777, in two octavo volumes, corrected by the Author for
the press, a short time before his death, and which he desired might
be regarded as containing his philosophical principles. The text of
that Edition has been faithfully adhered to in the present; but as
it has been thought an interesting object of curiosity, to trace the
successive variations of sentiment and taste in a mind like that of
Hume, and to mark the gradual and most observable increase of caution
in his expression of those sentiments, it has been the care of the
present Editor to compare the former Editions, of which a List is
here subjoined, and where any alterations were discovered, not merely
verbal, but illustrative of the philosophical opinions of the author,
to add these as Notes to the passages where they occur.

The Essays contained in the early Editions, but which were omitted
in that of 1777, will be found at the end of the last volume of the
present Collection of his Works, together with the Two Essays, on
Suicide, and the Immortality of the Soul.

In addition to the Author's Life, written by himself, the Account
of the Controversy with M. Rousseau has also been prefixed. It was
originally printed in French, and shortly afterwards in English, in the
year 1766. The English translation was superintended by Mr Hume; and as
it relates to an extraordinary occurrence in the Lives of these eminent
philosophers, has been thought a suitable appendage to the short Memoir
of himself.

JUNE 1825.


     Essays, Moral and Political. Edinburgh, Kincaid, 1741.
     12mo. (A)

     Essays, Moral and Political, Vol. II. Edinburgh, Kincaid,
     1742. 12mo. pp. 105. (B)

     Essays, Moral and Political, 2d Edition, corrected.
     Edinburgh, Kincaid, 1742. 12mo. pp. 189. (C)

     Essays, Moral and Political. By D. Hume, Esq. 3d Edition,
     corrected, with additions. London, Millar, 1748. 12mo. (D)

     Three Essays, Moral and Political, never before published,
     which completes the former Edition, in two volumes octavo.
     By D. Hume, Esq. London, Millar, 1748. 12mo. (E)

     Political Discourses. By D. Hume, Esq. Edinburgh, Kincaid,
     1752. Small 8vo. _To this Edition there is sometimes added
     'a List of Scotticisms_.' (F)

     Political Discourses. By D. Hume, Esq. 2d Edition.
     Edinburgh, Kincaid, 1752. 12mo. _Merely a reprint of the
     preceding_. (G)

     Essays and Treatises on several Subjects. By D. Hume, Esq.
     Vol. IV. containing Political Discourses. 3d Edition, with
     Additions and Corrections. London, Millar, 1754. (H)

     Four Dissertations: 1st, Natural History of Religion: 2d,
     of the Passions: 3d, of Tragedy: 4th, of the Standard of
     Taste. By D. Hume, Esq. London, Millar, 1757. 12mo. (I)

     Philosophical Essays concerning Human Understanding. By the
     Author of the Essays Moral and Political. London, Millar,
     1748. 12mo. (K)

     Philosophical Essays concerning Human Understanding. By
     D. Hume, Esq. 2d Edition, with Additions and Corrections.
     London, Millar, 1750. 12mo. (L)

     An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals. By D. Hume,
     Esq. London, Millar, 1751. (M)

     Essays and Treatises on several Subjects. By D. Hume, Esq.
     London, Millar, 1768. 2 vols. 4to. (N)

     Essays and Treatises on several Subjects. By D. Hume, Esq.
     London, Cadell, 1777. 2 vols 8vo. (O)

     _The above List comprehends all the Editions which vary
     materially from each other. Those which have been found on
     examination to be mere reprints, are not included._


    Life of the Author
    Letter from Adam Smith, LL.D. to William Strachan Esq.,
      and Latter-will and Testament of Mr Hume
    Account of the Controversy between Hume and Rousseau
    List of Scotticisms




    PART I.


    Of the Origin of our Ideas
    Division of the Subject
    Of the Ideas of the Memory and Imagination
    Of the Connexion or Association of Ideas
    Of Relations
    Of Modes and Substances
    Of Abstract Ideas

    PART II.


    Of the infinite Divisibility of our Ideas of Space and Time
    Of the infinite Divisibility of Space and Time
    Of the other Qualities of our Ideas of Space and Time
    Objections answered
    The same Subject continued
    Of the Idea of Existence, and of external Existence


    Of Knowledge
    Of Probability, and of the Idea of Cause and Effect
    Why a Cause is always necessary
    Of the component parts of our Reasonings concerning Cause and
    Of the Impressions of the Senses and Memory
    Of the Inference from the Impression to the Ideax
    Of the Nature of the Idea or Belief
    Of the Causes of Belief
    Of the Effects of other Relations and other Habits
    Of the Influence of Belief
    Of the Probability of Chances
    Of the Probability of Causes
    Of unphilosophical Probability
    Of the Idea of Necessary Connexion
    Rules by which to judge of Causes and Effectsx
    Of the Reason of Animals

    PART IV.


    Of Scepticism with regard to Reason
    Of Scepticism with regard to the Sensesx
    Of the Ancient Philosophy
    Of the Modern Philosophyx
    Of the Immateriality of the Soul
    Of Personal Identity
    Conclusion of this Book



It is difficult for a man to speak long of himself without vanity;
therefore, I shall be short. It may be thought an instance of vanity
that I pretend at all to write my life; but this Narrative shall
contain little more than the History of my Writings; as, indeed, almost
all my life has been spent in literary pursuits and occupations. The
first success of most of my writings was not such as to be an object of

I was born the 26th of April 1711, old style, at Edinburgh. I was of a
good family, both by father and mother. My father's family is a branch
of the Earl of Home's or Hume's; and my ancestors had been proprietors
of the estate, which my brother possesses, for several generations. My
mother was daughter of Sir David Falconer, President of the College of
Justice; the title of Lord Halkerton came by succession to her brother.

My family, however, was not rich; and, being myself a younger brother,
my patrimony, according to the mode of my country, was of course very
slender. My father, who passed for a man of parts, died when I was
an infant, leaving me, with an elder brother and a sister, under the
care of our mother, a woman of singular merit, who, though young and
handsome, devoted herself entirely to the rearing and educating of
her children. I passed through the ordinary course of education with
success, and was seized very early with a passion for literature, which
has been the ruling passion of my life, and the great source of my
enjoyments. My studious disposition, my sobriety, and my industry, gave
my family a notion that the law was a proper profession for me; but I
found an unsurmountable aversion to every thing but the pursuits of
philosophy and general learning; and while they fancied I was poring
upon Voet and Vinnius, Cicero and Virgil were the authors which I was
secretly devouring.

My very slender fortune, however, being unsuitable to this plan of
life, and my health being a little broken by my ardent application, I
was tempted, or rather forced, to make a very feeble trial for entering
into a more active scene of life. In 1734, I went to Bristol, with some
recommendations to eminent merchants, but in a few months found that
scene totally unsuitable to me, I went over to France, with a view of
prosecuting my studies in a country retreat; and I there laid that plan
of life, which I have steadily and successfully pursued. I resolved
to make a very rigid frugality supply my deficiency of fortune, to
maintain unimpaired my independency, and to regard every object as
contemptible, except the improvement of my talents in literature.

During my retreat in France, first at Rheims, but chiefly at La Flêche,
in Anjou, I composed my _Treatise of Human Nature_. After passing three
years very agreeably in that country, I came over to London in 1737.
In the end of 1738, I published my Treatise, and immediately went down
to my mother and my brother, who lived at his country-house, and was
employing himself very judiciously and successfully in the improvement
of his fortune.

Never literary attempt was more unfortunate than my Treatise of Human
Nature. It fell _dead-born from the press_, without reaching such
distinction, as even to excite a murmur among the zealots. But being
naturally of a cheerful and sanguine temper, I very soon recovered
the blow, and prosecuted with great ardour my studies in the country.
In 1742, I printed at Edinburgh the first part of my Essays: the work
was favourably received, and soon made me entirely forget my former
disappointment. I continued with my mother and brother in the country,
and in that time recovered the knowledge of the Greek language, which I
had too much neglected in my early youth.

In 1745, I received a letter from the Marquis of Annandale, inviting me
to come and live with him in England; I found also, that the friends
and family of that young nobleman were desirous of putting him under
my care and direction, for the state of his mind and health required
it. I lived with him a twelvemonth. My appointments during that time
made a considerable accession to my small fortune. I then received
an invitation from General St Clair to attend him as a secretary to
his expedition, which was at first meant against Canada, but ended
in an incursion on the coast of France. Next year, to wit, 1747, I
received an invitation from the General to attend him in the same
station in his military embassy to the courts of Vienna and Turin.
I then wore the uniform of an officer, and was introduced at these
courts as _aide-de-camp_ to the General, along with Sir Harry Erskine
and Captain Grant, now General Grant. These two years were almost the
only interruptions which my studies have received during the course
of my life. I passed them agreeably, and in good company; and my
appointments, with my frugality, had made me reach a fortune, which I
called independent, though most of my friends were inclined to smile
when I said so; in short, I was now master of near a thousand pounds.

I had always entertained a notion, that my want of success in
publishing the Treatise of Human Nature, had proceeded more from the
manner than the matter, and that I had been guilty of a very usual
indiscretion, in going to the press too early. I, therefore, cast
the first part of that work anew in the Inquiry concerning Human
Understanding, which was published while I was at Turin. But this piece
was at first little more successful than the Treatise of Human Nature.
On my return from Italy, I had the mortification to find all England
in a ferment, on account of Dr Middleton's Free Inquiry, while my
performance was entirely overlooked and neglected. A new edition, which
had been published at London, of my Essays, Moral and Political, met
not with a much better reception.

Such is the force of natural temper, that these disappointments made
little or no impression on me. I went down in 1749, and lived two years
with my brother at his country-house, for my mother was now dead. I
there composed the second part of my Essays, which I called Political
Discourses, and also my Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals,
which is another part of my Treatise that I cast anew. Meanwhile, my
bookseller A. Millar informed me, that my former publications (all
but the unfortunate Treatise) were beginning to be the subject of
conversation; that the sale of them was gradually increasing, and that
new editions were demanded. Answers by Reverends, and Right Reverends,
came out two or three in a year; and I found, by Dr Warburton's
railing, that the books were beginning to be esteemed in good company.
However, I had fixed a resolution, which I inflexibly maintained, never
to reply to any body; and not being very irascible in my temper, I have
easily kept myself clear of all literary squabbles. These symptoms of
a rising reputation gave me encouragement, as I was ever more disposed
to see the favourable than unfavourable side of things; a turn of mind
which it is more happy to possess, than to be born to an estate of ten
thousand a year.

In 1751, I removed from the country to the town, the true scene for
a man of letters. In 1752, were published at Edinburgh, where I
then lived, my Political Discourses, the only work of mine that was
successful on the first publication. It was well received abroad
and at home. In the same year was published at London, my Inquiry
concerning the Principles of Morals; which, in my own opinion (who
ought not to judge on that subject), is of all my writings, historical,
philosophical, or literary, incomparably the best. It came unnoticed
and unobserved into the world.

In 1752, the Faculty of Advocates chose me their Librarian, an office
from which I received little or no emolument, but which gave me the
command of a large library. I then formed the plan of writing the
History of England; but being frightened with the notion of continuing
a narrative through a period of 1700 years, I commenced with the
accession of the House of Stuart, an epoch when, I thought, the
misrepresentations of faction began chiefly to take place. I was, I
own, sanguine in my expectations of the success of this work. I thought
that I was the only historian that had at once neglected present
power, interest, and authority, and the cry of popular prejudices; and
as the subject was suited to every capacity, I expected proportional
applause. But miserable was my disappointment: I was assailed by one
cry of reproach, disapprobation, and even detestation; English, Scotch,
and Irish, Whig and Tory, Churchman and Sectary, Free-thinker and
Religionist, Patriot and Courtier, united in their rage against the
man, who had presumed to shed a generous tear for the fate of Charles
I. and the Earl of Strafford; and after the first ebullitions of their
fury were over, what was still more mortifying, the book seemed to sink
into oblivion. Mr Millar told me, that in a twelvemonth he sold only
forty-five copies of it. I scarcely, indeed, heard of one man in the
three kingdoms, considerable for rank or letters, that could endure the
book. I must only except the primate of England, Dr Herring, and the
primate of Ireland, Dr Stone, which seem two odd exceptions. These
dignified prelates separately sent me messages not to be discouraged.

I was however, I confess, discouraged; and had not the war been at that
time breaking out between France and England, I had certainly retired
to some provincial town of the former kingdom, have changed my name,
and never more have returned to my native country. But as this scheme
was not now practicable, and the subsequent volume was considerably
advanced, I resolved to pick up courage, and to persevere.

In this interval, I published at London my Natural History of Religion,
along with some other small pieces. Its public entry was rather
obscure, except only that Dr Hurd wrote a pamphlet against it, with all
the illiberal petulance, arrogance and scurrility, which distinguish
the Warburtonian school. This pamphlet gave me some consolation for the
otherwise indifferent reception of my performance.

In 1756, two years after the fall of the first volume, was published
the second volume of my History, containing the period from the death
of Charles I. till the Revolution. This performance happened to give
less displeasure to the Whigs, and was better received. It not only
rose itself, but helped to buoy up its unfortunate brother.

But though I had been taught, by experience, that the Whig party
were in possession of bestowing all places, both in the state and
in literature, I was so little inclined to yield to their senseless
clamour, that in above a hundred alterations, which farther study,
reading or reflection, engaged me to make in the reigns of the two
first Stuarts, I have made all of them invariably to the Tory side. It
is ridiculous to consider the English constitution before that period
as a regular plan of liberty.

In 1759, I published my History of the House of Tudor. The clamour
against this performance was almost equal to that against the History
of the two first Stuarts. The reign of Elizabeth was particularly
obnoxious. But I was now callous against the impressions of public
folly, and continued very peaceably and contentedly in my retreat
at Edinburgh, to finish, in two volumes, the more early part of the
English History, which I gave to the public in 1761, with tolerable,
and but tolerable success.

But, notwithstanding this variety of winds and seasons, to which my
writings had been exposed, they had still been making such advances,
that the copy-money given me by the booksellers, much exceeded any
thing formerly known in England; I was become not only independent, but
opulent. I retired to my native country of Scotland, determined never
more to set my foot out of it; and retaining the satisfaction of never
having preferred a request to one great man, or even making advances of
friendship to any of them. As I was now turned of fifty, I thought of
passing all the rest of my life in this philosophical manner, when I
received, in 1763, an invitation from the Earl of Hertford, with whom I
was not in the least acquainted, to attend him on his embassy to Paris,
with a near prospect of being appointed secretary to the embassy,
and, in the meanwhile, of performing the functions of that office.
This offer, however inviting, I at first declined, both because I was
reluctant to begin connexions with the great, and because I was afraid
that the civilities and gay company of Paris, would prove disagreeable
to a person of my age and humour: but on his Lordship's repeating the
invitation, I accepted of it, I have every reason, both of pleasure and
interest, to think myself happy in my connexions with that nobleman, as
well as afterwards with his brother, General Conway.

Those who have not seen the strange effects of Modes, will never
imagine the reception I met with at Paris, from men and women of all
ranks and stations. The more I resiled from their excessive civilities,
the more I was loaded with them. There is, however, a real satisfaction
in living at Paris, from the great number of sensible, knowing, and
polite company with which that city abounds above all places in the
universe. I thought once of settling there for life.

I was appointed secretary to the embassy; and, in summer 1765, Lord
Hertford left me, being appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. I was
_chargé d'affaires_ till the arrival of the Duke of Richmond, towards
the end of the year. In the beginning of 1766, I left Paris, and
next summer went to Edinburgh, with the same view as formerly, of
burying myself in a philosophical retreat. I returned to that place,
not richer, but with much more money, and a much larger income,
by means of Lord Hertford's friendship, than I left it; and I was
desirous of trying what superfluity could produce, as I had formerly
made an experiment of a competency. But, in 1767, I received from Mr
Conway an invitation to be Under-secretary; and this invitation, both
the character of the person, and my connexions with Lord Hertford,
prevented me from declining. I returned to Edinburgh in 1769, very
opulent (for I possessed a revenue of 1000_l_. a year), healthy, and,
though somewhat stricken in years, with the prospect of enjoying long
my ease, and of seeing the increase of my reputation.

In spring 1775, I was struck with a disorder in my bowels, which at
first gave me no alarm, but has since, as I apprehend it, become
mortal and incurable. I now reckon upon a Speedy dissolution. I have
suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange,
have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered
a moment's abatement of my spirits; insomuch, that were I to name the
period of my life, which I should most choose to pass over again, I
might be tempted to point to this later period. I possess the same
ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company. I consider,
besides, that a man of sixty-five, by dying, cuts off only a few
years of infirmities; and though I see many symptoms of my literary
reputation's breaking out at last with additional lustre, I knew that
I could have but few years to enjoy it. It is difficult to be more
detached from life than I am at present.

To conclude historically with my own character. I am, or rather was
(for that is the style I must now use in speaking of myself, which
emboldens me the more to speak my sentiments); I was, I say, a man
of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social,
and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible
of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions. Even my
love of literary fame, my ruling passion, never soured my temper,
notwithstanding my frequent disappointments. My company was not
unacceptable to the young and careless, as well as to the studious and
literary; and as I took a particular pleasure in the company of modest
women, I had no reason to be displeased with the reception I met with
from them. In a word, though most men any wise eminent, have found
reason to complain of calumny, I never was touched, or even attacked
by her baleful tooth: and though I wantonly exposed myself to the
rage of both civil and religious factions, they seemed to be disarmed
in my behalf of their wonted fury. My friends never had occasion to
vindicate any one circumstance of my character and conduct: not but
that the zealots, we may well suppose, would have been glad to invent
and propagate any story to my disadvantage, but they could never find
any which they thought would wear the face of probability. I cannot say
there is no vanity in making this funeral oration of myself, but I hope
it is not a misplaced one; and this is a matter of fact which is easily
cleared and ascertained.

APRIL 18. 1776.




                   _Kirkaldy, Fifeshire, Nov_. 9, 1776.


It is with a real, though a very melancholy pleasure, that I sit down
to give you some account of the behaviour of our late excellent friend,
Mr Hume, during his last illness.

Though, in his own judgment, his disease was mortal and incurable,
yet he allowed himself to be prevailed upon, by the entreaty of his
friends, to try what might be the effects of a long journey. A few
days before he set out, he wrote that account of his own life, which,
together with his other papers, he has left to your care. My account,
therefore, shall begin where his ends.

He set out for London towards the end of April, and at Morpeth met
with Mr John Home and myself, who had both come down from London on
purpose to see him, expecting to have found him at Edinburgh. Mr Home
returned with him, and attended him during the whole of his stay in
England, with that care and attention which might be expected from a
temper so perfectly friendly and affectionate. As I had written to my
mother that she might expect me in Scotland, I was under the necessity
of continuing my journey. His disease seemed to yield to exercise
and change of air, and when he arrived in London, he was apparently
in much better health than when he left Edinburgh. He was advised to
go to Bath to drink the waters, which appeared for some time to have
so good an effect upon him, that even he himself began to entertain,
what he was not apt to do, a better opinion of his own health. His
symptoms, however, soon returned with their usual violence, and from
that moment he gave up all thoughts of recovery, but submitted with the
utmost cheerfulness, and the most perfect complacency and resignation.
Upon his return to Edinburgh, though he found himself much weaker, yet
his cheerfulness never abated, and he continued to divert himself,
as usual, with correcting his own works for a new edition, with
reading books of amusement, with the conversation of his friends; and,
sometimes in the evening, with a party at his favourite game of whist.
His cheerfulness was so great, and his conversation and amusements run
so much in their usual strain, that, notwithstanding all bad symptoms,
many people could not believe he was dying. "I shall tell your friend,
Colonel Edmondstone," said Doctor Dundas to him one day, "that I left
you much better, and in a fair way of recovery." "Doctor," said he, "as
I believe you would not choose to tell any thing but the truth, you
had better tell him, that I am dying as fast as my enemies, if I have
any, could wish, and as easily and cheerfully as my best friends could
desire." Colonel Edmondstone soon afterwards came to see him, and take
leave of him; and on his way home, he could not forbear writing him a
letter bidding him once more an eternal adieu, and applying to him, as
to a dying man, the beautiful French verses in which the Abbé Chaulieu,
in expectation of his own death, laments his approaching separation
from his friend, the Marquis de la Fare. Mr Hume's magnanimity and
firmness were such, that his most affectionate friends knew that they
hazarded nothing in talking or writing to him as to a dying man,
and that so far from being hurt by this frankness, he was rather
pleased and flattered by it. I happened to come into his room while
he was reading this letter, which he had just received, and which he
immediately showed me. I told him, that though I was sensible how very
much he was weakened, and that appearances were in many respects very
bad, yet his cheerfulness was still so great, the spirit of life seemed
still to be so very strong in him, that I could not help entertaining
some faint hopes. He answered, "Your hopes are groundless. An habitual
diarrhoea of more than a year's standing, would be a very bad disease
at any age: at my age it is a mortal one. When I lie down in the
evening, I feel myself weaker than when I rose in the morning; and when
I rise in the morning, weaker than when I lay down in the evening. I
am sensible, besides, that some of my vital parts are affected, so
that I must soon die." "Well," said I, "if it must be so, you have at
least the satisfaction of leaving all your friends, your brother's
family in particular, in great prosperity." He said that he felt that
satisfaction so sensibly, that when he was reading, a few days before,
Lucian's Dialogues of the Dead, among all the excuses which are alleged
to Charon for not entering readily into his boat, he could not find
one that fitted him; he had no house to finish, he had no daughter to
provide for, he had no enemies upon whom he wished to revenge himself.
"I could not well imagine," said he, "what excuse I could make to
Charon in order to obtain a little delay. I have done every thing of
consequence which I ever meant to do; and I could at no time expect
to leave my relations and friends in a better situation than that in
which I am now likely to leave them. I therefore have all reason to die
contented." He then diverted himself with inventing several jocular
excuses, which he supposed he might make to Charon, and with imagining
the very surly answers which it might suit the character of Charon
to return to them. "Upon further consideration," said he, "I thought
I might say to him, Good Charon, I have been correcting my works for
a new edition. Allow me a little time, that I may see how the public
receives the alterations." But Charon would answer, "When you have seen
the effect of these, you will be for making other alterations. There
will be no end of such excuses; so, honest friend, please step into the
boat." But I might still urge, "Have a little patience, good Charon; I
have been endeavouring to open the eyes of the public. If I live a few
years longer, I may have the satisfaction of seeing the downfall of
some of the prevailing systems of superstition." But Charon would then
lose all temper and decency. "You loitering rogue, that will not happen
these many hundred years. Do you fancy I will grant you a lease for so
long a term? Get into the boat this instant, you lazy loitering rogue."

But, though Mr Hume always talked of his approaching dissolution
with great cheerfulness, he never affected to make any parade of his
magnanimity. He never mentioned the subject but when the conversation
naturally led to it, and never dwelt longer upon it than the course of
the conversation happened to require: it was a subject, indeed, which
occurred pretty frequently, in consequence of the inquiries which his
friends, who came to see him, naturally made concerning the state of
his health. The conversation which I mentioned above, and which passed
on Thursday the 8th of August, was the last, except one, that I ever
had with him. He had now become so very weak, that the company of his
most intimate friends fatigued him; for his cheerfulness was still so
great, his complaisance and social disposition were still so entire,
that when any friend was with him, he could not help talking more,
and with greater exertion, than suited the weakness of his body. At
his own desire, therefore, I agreed to leave Edinburgh, where I was
staying partly upon his account, and returned to my mother's house
here, at Kirkaldy, upon condition that he would send for me whenever he
wished to see me; the physician who saw him most frequently, Dr Black,
undertaking, in the mean time, to write me occasionally an account of
the state of his health.

On the 22d of August, the Doctor wrote me the following letter:

"Since my last, Mr Hume has passed his time pretty easily, but is
much weaker. He sits up, goes down stairs once a day, and amuses
himself with reading, but seldom sees anybody. He finds that even the
conversation of his most intimate friends fatigues and oppresses him;
and it is happy that he does not need it, for he is quite free from
anxiety, impatience, or low spirits, and passes his time very well with
the assistance of amusing books."

I received the day after a letter from Mr Hume himself, of which the
following is an extract.

                     "_Edinburgh_, 23_d August_, 1776.


"I am obliged to make use of my nephew's hand in writing to you, as I
do not rise to-day.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I go very fast to decline, and last night had a small fever, which I
hoped might put a quicker period to this tedious illness, but unluckily
it has, in a great measure, gone off. I cannot submit to your coming
over here on my account, as it is possible for me to see you so small a
part of the day, but Doctor Black can better inform you concerning the
degree of strength which may from time to time remain with me. Adieu,"

Three days after I received the following letter from Doctor Black.

              "_Edinburgh, Monday_, 26_th August_, 1776.


"Yesterday about four o'clock afternoon, Mr Hume expired. The near
approach of his death became evident in the night between Thursday
and Friday, when his disease became excessive, and soon weakened him
so much, that he could no longer rise out of his bed. He continued to
the last perfectly sensible, and free from much pain or feelings of
distress. He never dropped the smallest expression of impatience; but
when he had occasion to speak to the people about him, always did it
with affection and tenderness. I thought it improper to write to bring
you over, especially as I heard that he had dictated a letter to you
desiring you not to come. When he became very weak, it cost him an
effort to speak, and he died in such a happy composure of mind, that
nothing could exceed it."

Thus died our most excellent, and never to be forgotten friend;
concerning whose philosophical opinions men will, no doubt, judge
variously, every one approving, or condemning them, according as they
happen to coincide or disagree with his own; but concerning whose
character and conduct there can scarce be a difference of opinion.
His temper, indeed, seemed to be more happily balanced, if I may be
allowed such an expression, than that perhaps of any other man I have
ever known. Even in the lowest state of his fortune, his great and
necessary frugality never hindered him from exercising, upon proper
occasions, acts both of charity and generosity. It was a frugality
founded, not upon avarice, but upon the love of independency. The
extreme gentleness of his nature never weakened either the firmness of
his mind, or the steadiness of his resolutions. His constant pleasantry
was the genuine effusion of good nature and good humour, tempered
with delicacy and modesty, and without even the slightest tincture of
malignity, so frequently the disagreeable source of what is called wit
in other men. It never was the meaning of his raillery to mortify;
and therefore, far from offending, it seldom failed to please and
delight, even those who were the objects of it. To his friends, who
were frequently the objects of it, there was not perhaps any one of all
his great and amiable qualities, which contributed more to endear his
conversation. And that gaiety of temper, so agreeable in society, but
which is so often accompanied with frivolous and superficial qualities,
was in him certainly attended with the most severe application, the
most extensive learning, the greatest depth of thought, and a capacity
in every respect the most comprehensive. Upon the whole, I have
always considered him, both in his lifetime and since his death, as
approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man,
as perhaps the nature of human frailty will permit.

             I ever am, dear Sir,

                   Most affectionately yours,

                                       ADAM SMITH.

[Illustration: Drawn by A. Nasmyth--Engraved by W. Miller--HUME'S


I, David Hume, second lawful son of Joseph Home of Ninewells,
advocate, for the love and affection I bear to John Home of Ninewells,
my brother, and for other causes, DO, by these presents, under the
reservations and burdens after-mentioned, GIVE and DISPOSE to the said
John Home, or, if he die before me, to David Home, his second son,
his heirs and assigns whatsomever, all lands, heritages, debts, and
sums of money, as well heritable as moveable, which shall belong to me
at the time of my decease, as also my whole effects in general, real
and personal, with and under the burden of the following legacies,
viz. to my sister Catherine Home, the sum of twelve hundred pounds
sterling, payable the first term of Whitsunday or Martinmas after my
decease, together with all my English books, and the life-rent of my
house in St James's Court, or in case that house be sold at the time
of my decease, twenty pounds a year during the whole course of her
life: To my friend Adam Ferguson, Professor of Moral Philosophy in
the College of Edinburgh, two hundred pounds sterling: To my friend
M. d'Alembert, member of the French Academy, and of the Academy of
Sciences in Paris, two hundred pounds: To my friend Dr Adam Smith, late
Professor of Moral Philosophy in Glasgow, I leave all my manuscripts
without exception, desiring him to publish my _Dialogues on Natural
Religion_, which are comprehended in this present bequest; but to
publish no other papers which he suspects not to have been written
within these five years, but to destroy them all at his leisure: And
I even leave him full power over all my papers, except the Dialogues
above mentioned; and though I can trust to that intimate and sincere
friendship, which has ever subsisted between us, for his faithful
execution of this part of my will, yet, as a small recompense of his
pains in correcting and publishing this work, I leave him two hundred
pounds, to be paid immediately after the publication of it: I also
leave to Mrs Anne and Mrs Janet Hepburn, daughters of Mr James Hepburn
of Keith, one hundred pounds a piece: To my cousin David Campbell, son
of Mr Campbell, minister of Lillysleaf, one hundred pounds: To the
Infirmary of Edinburgh, fifty pounds: To all the servants who shall be
in my family at the time of my decease, one year's wages; and to my
housekeeper, Margaret Irvine, three year's wages: And I also ordain,
that my brother, or nephew, or executor, whoever he be, shall not pay
up to the said Margaret Irvine, without her own consent, any sum of
money which I shall owe her at the time of my decease, whether by bill,
bond, or for wages, but shall retain in his hand, and pay her the legal
interest upon it, till she demand the principal: And in case my brother
above-mentioned shall survive me, I leave to his son David, the sum of
a thousand pounds to assist him in his education: But in case that by
my brother's death before me, the succession of my estate and effects
shall devolve to the aforesaid David, I hereby burden him, over and
above the payment of the aforesaid legacies, with the payment of the
sums following: To his brothers Joseph and John, a thousand pounds
a piece: To his sisters Catherine and Agnes, five hundred pounds a
piece: all which sums, as well as every sum contained in the present
disposition (except that to Dr Smith), to be payable the first term of
Whitsunday and Martinmas, after my decease; and all of them, without
exception, in sterling money. And I do hereby nominate and appoint
the said John Home, my brother, and failing of him by decease, the
said David Home, to be my sole executor and universal legatee, with
and under the burdens above mentioned; reserving always full power and
liberty to me, at any time of my life, even in deathbed, to alter and
innovate these presents, in whole or in part, and to burden the same
with such other legacies as I shall think fit. And I do hereby declare
these presents to be a good, valid, and sufficient evidence, albeit
found in my custody, or in the custody of any other person at the time
of my death, &c. (_in common style_.) Signed 4 January 1776, before
these witnesses, the Right Honourable the Earl of Home, and Mr John
McGowan, Clerk to the Signet.

                                      DAVID HUME.

I also ORDAIN, that if I shall die any where in Scotland, I shall be
buried in a private manner in the Calton churchyard, the south side
of it, and a monument to be built over my body, at an expense not
exceeding a hundred pounds, with an inscription containing only my
name, with the year of my birth and death, leaving it to posterity to
add the rest.

_At Edinburgh_, 15_th April_, 1776. DAVID HUME.

I also leave for rebuilding the bridge of Churnside the sum of a
hundred pounds; but on condition that the managers of the bridge
shall take none of the stones for building the bridge from the quarry
of Ninewells, except from that part of the quarry which has been
already opened. I leave to my nephew Joseph, the sum of fifty pounds to
enable him to make a good sufficient drain and sewer round the house
of Ninewells, but on condition that, if that drain and sewer be not
made, from whatever cause, within a year after my death, the said fifty
pounds shall be paid to the poor of the parish of Churnside: To my
sister, instead of all my English books, I leave her a hundred volumes
at her choice: To David Waite, servant to my brother, I leave the sum
of ten pounds, payable the first term after my death.









The name and writings of Mr Hume have been long since well known
throughout Europe. At the same time, his personal acquaintance
have remarked, in the candour and simplicity of his manners, that
impartiality and ingenuousness of disposition which distinguishes his
character, and is sufficiently indicated in his writings.

He hath exerted those great talents he received from nature, and the
acquisitions he made by study, in the search of truth, and promoting
the good of mankind; never wasting his time, or sacrificing his repose,
in literary or personal disputes. He hath seen his writings frequently
censured with bitterness, by fanaticism, ignorance, and the spirit of
party, without ever giving an answer to his adversaries.

Even those who have attacked his works with the greatest violence, have
always respected his personal character. His love of peace is so well
known, that the criticisms written against his pieces, have been often
brought him by their respective authors, for him to revise and correct
them. At one time, in particular, a performance of this kind was shown
to him, in which he had been treated in a very rude and even injurious
manner; on remarking which to the author, the latter struck out the
exceptionable passages, blushing and wondering at the force of that
_polemic spirit_ which had carried him imperceptibly away beyond the
founds of truth and decency.

It was with great reluctance that a man, possessed of such pacific
dispositions, could be brought to consent to the publication of the
following piece. He was very sensible that the quarrels among men
of letters are a scandal to philosophy; nor was any person in the
world less formed for giving occasion to a scandal, so consolatory to
blockheads. But the circumstances were such as to draw him into it, in
spite of his inclinations.

All the world knows that Mr Rousseau, proscribed in almost every
country where he resided, determined at length to take refuge in
England; and that Mr Hume, affected by his situation, and his
misfortunes, undertook to bring him over, and to provide for him a
peaceful, safe, and convenient asylum. But very few persons are privy
to the zeal, activity, and even delicacy, with which Mr Hume conferred
this act of benevolence. What an affectionate attachment he had
contracted for this new friend, which humanity had given him! with what
address he endeavoured to anticipate his desires, without offending his
pride! in short, with what address he strove to justify, in the eyes of
others, the singularities of Mr Rousseau, and to defend his character
against those who were not disposed to think so favourably of him as he
did himself.

Even at the time when Mr Hume was employed in doing Mr Rousseau the
most essential service, he received from him the most insolent and
abusive letter. The more such a stroke was unexpected, the more it was
cruel and affecting. Mr Hume wrote an account of this extraordinary
adventure to his friends at Paris, and expressed himself in his letters
with all that indignation which so strange a proceeding must excite.
He thought himself under no obligation to keep terms with a man, who,
after having received from him the most certain and constant marks
of friendship, could reproach him, without any reason, as false,
treacherous, and as the most wicked of mankind.

In the mean time, the dispute between these two celebrated personages
did not fail to make a noise. The complaints of Mr Hume soon came to
the knowledge of the public, which at first hardly believed it possible
that Mr Rousseau could be guilty of that excessive ingratitude
laid to his charge. Even Mr Hume's friends were fearful, lest, in
the first effusions of sensibility, he was not carried too far, and
had not mistaken for wilful crimes of the heart, the vagaries of
the imagination, or the deceptions of the understanding. He judged
it necessary, therefore to explain the affair, by writing a precise
narrative of all that passed between him and Mr Rousseau, from
their first connection to their rupture. This narrative he sent to
his friends, some of whom advised him to print it, alleging, that
as Mr Rousseau's accusations were become public, the proofs of his
justification ought to be so too. Mr Hume did not give into these
arguments, choosing rather to run the risk of being unjustly censured,
than to resolve on making himself a public party in an affair so
contrary to his disposition and character. A new incident, however, at
length overcame his reluctance. Mr Rousseau had addressed a letter to
a bookseller at Paris, in which he directly accuses Mr Hume of having
entered into a league with his enemies to betray and defame him; and
in which he boldly defies Mr Hume to print the papers he had in his
hands. This letter was communicated to several persons in Paris, was
translated into English, and the translation printed in the public
papers in London. An accusation and defiance so very public could not
be suffered to pass without reply, while any long silence on the part
of Mr Hume might have been interpreted little in his favour.

Besides, the news of this dispute had spread itself over Europe, and
the opinions entertained of it were various. It had doubtless been
much happier, if the whole affair had been buried in oblivion, and
remained a profound secret; but as it was impossible to prevent the
public interesting itself in the controversy, it became necessary at
least that the truth of the matter should be known. Mr Hume's friends
unitedly represented to him all these reasons, the force of which he
was at length convinced of; and seeing the necessity, consented, though
with reluctance, to the printing of his memorial.

The narrative, and notes, are translated from the English.[1] The
letters of Mr Rousseau, which serve as authentic proofs of the facts
are exact copies of the originals.[2]

This pamphlet contains many strange instances of singularity, that
will appear extraordinary enough to those who will give themselves
the trouble to peruse it. Those who do not choose to take the trouble,
however, may possibly do better, as its contents are of little
importance, except to those who are immediately interested.

On the whole, Mr Hume, in offering to the public the genuine pieces of
his trial, has authorized us to declare, that he will never take up the
pen again on the subject. Mr Rousseau indeed may return to the charge;
he may produce suppositions, misconstructions, inferences, and new
declamations; he may create and realize new phantoms, and envelop them
in the clouds of his rhetoric, he will meet with no more contradiction.
The facts are all laid before the public;[3] and Mr Hume submits his
cause to the determination of every man of sense and probity.

[1] And are now re-translated, for the most part, from the French,
the French editors having taken some liberties, not without Mr Hume's
consent, with the English original.--_English translator_.

[2] in the present edition Mr Hume's letters are printed _verbatim_;
and to Mr Rousseau's the translator hath endeavoured to do justice,
as well with regard to the sense as the expression. Not that he can
flatter himself with having always succeeded in the latter. He has
taken the liberty also to add a note or two, regarding some particular
circumstances which had come to his knowledge.

[3] The original letters of both parties will be lodged in the British
Museum, on account of the above mentioned defiance of Mr Rousseau, and
his subsequent insinuation, that if they should be published, they
would be falsified.





_August_ 1, 1766.

My connexion with Mr Rousseau began in 1762, when the Parliament of
Paris had issued an arrêt for apprehending him, on account of his
_Emilius_. I was at that time at Edinburgh. A person of great worth
wrote to me from Paris, that Mr Rousseau intended to seek an asylum
in England, and desired I would do him all the good offices in my
power. As I conceived Mr Rousseau had actually put his design in
execution, I wrote to several of my friends in London, recommending
this celebrated exile to their favour. I wrote also immediately to Mr
Rousseau himself; assuring him of my desire to oblige, and readiness
to serve him. At the same time, I invited him to come to Edinburgh,
if the situation would be agreeable, and offered him a retreat in my
own house, so long as he should please to partake of it. There needed
no other motive to excite me to this act of humanity, than the idea
given me of Mr Rousseau's personal character, by the friend who had
recommended him, his well known genius and abilities, and above all,
his misfortunes; the very cause of which was an additional reason to
interest me in his favour. The following is the answer I received.


_Motiers-Travers_, _Feb_. 19, 1763.


     I did not receive till lately, and at this place, the
     letter you did me the honour to direct to me at London, the
     2d of July last, on the supposition that I was then arrived
     at that capital. I should doubtless have made choice of
     a retreat in your country, and as near as possible to
     yourself, if I had foreseen what a reception I was to meet
     with in my own. No other nation could claim a preference to
     England. And this prepossession, for which I have dearly
     suffered, was at that time too natural not to be very
     excusable; but, to my great astonishment, as well as that
     of the public, I have met with nothing but affronts and
     insults, where I hoped to have found consolation at least,
     if not gratitude. How many reasons have I not to regret
     the want of that asylum and philosophical hospitality
     I should have found with you! My misfortunes, indeed,
     have constantly seemed to lead me in a manner that way.
     The protection and kindness of my Lord Marshall, your
     worthy and illustrious countryman, hath brought Scotland
     home to me, if I may so express myself, in the midst of
     Switzerland; he hath made you so often bear a part in our
     conversation, hath brought me so well acquainted with your
     virtues, which I before was only with your talents, that
     he inspired me with the most tender friendship for you,
     and the most ardent desire of obtaining yours, before I
     even knew you were disposed to grant it. Judge then of the
     pleasure I feel, at finding this inclination reciprocal.
     No, Sir, I should pay your merit but half its due, if
     it were the subject only of my admiration. Your great
     impartiality, together with your amazing penetration and
     genius, would lift you far above the rest of mankind,
     if you were less attached to them by the goodness of
     your heart. My Lord Marshal, in acquainting me that the
     amiableness of your disposition was still greater than the
     sublimity of your genius, rendered a correspondence with
     you every day more desirable, and cherished in me those
     wishes which he inspired, of ending my days near you. Oh,
     Sir, that a better state of health, and more convenient
     circumstances, would but enable me to take such a journey
     in the manner I could like! Could I but hope to see you and
     my Lord Marshal one day settled in your own country, which
     should for ever after be mine, I should be thankful, in
     such a society, for the very misfortunes that led me into
     it, and should account the day of its commencement as the
     first of my life. Would to Heaven I might live to see that
     happy day, though now more to be desired than expected!
     With what transports should I not exclaim, on setting foot
     in that happy country which gave birth to David Hume and
     the Lord Marshal of Scotland!

     Salve, facis mihi debita tellus!
     Hæc domus, hæc patria est.

This letter is not published from a motive of vanity; as will be seen
presently, when I give the reader a recantation of all the eulogies it
contains; but only to complete the course of our correspondence, and to
show that I have been long since disposed to Mr Rousseau's service.

From this time our correspondence entirely ceased, till about the
middle of last autumn (1765), when it was renewed by the following
accident. A certain lady of Mr Rousseau's acquaintance, being on a
journey to one of the French provinces, bordering on Switzerland, had
taken that opportunity of paying a visit to our solitary philosopher,
in his retreat at Motiers-Travers. To this lady he complained, that
his situation in Neufchâtel was become extremely disagreeable, as well
on account of the superstition of the people, as the resentment of the
clergy; and that he was afraid he should shortly be under the necessity
of seeking an asylum elsewhere; in which case, England appeared to
him, from the nature of its laws and government, to be the only place
to which he could retire with perfect security; adding, that my Lord
Marshal, his former protector, had advised him to put himself under my
protection, (that was the term he was pleased, to make use of), and
that he would accordingly address himself to me, if he thought it would
not be giving me too much trouble.

I was at that time charged with the affairs of England at the court of
France; but as I had the prospect of soon returning to London, I could
not reject a proposal made to me under such circumstances, by a man
so celebrated for his genius and misfortunes. As soon as I was thus
informed, therefore, of the situation and intentions of Mr Rousseau, I
wrote to him, making him an offer of my services; to which he returned
the following answer.


_Strasbourg_, _Dec_. 4, 1765.


     Your goodness affects me as much as it does me honour.
     The best reply I can make to your offers is to accept
     them, which I do. I shall set out in five or six days to
     throw myself into your arms. Such is the advice of my Lord
     Marshal, my protector, friend and father; it is the advice
     also of Madam * * * [1] whose good sense and benevolence
     serve equally for my direction and consolation; in fine,
     I may say it is the advice of my own heart, which takes
     a pleasure in being indebted to the most illustrious of
     my contemporaries, to a man whose goodness surpasses his
     glory. I sigh after a solitary and free retirement, wherein
     I might finish my days in peace. If this be procured me by
     means of your benevolent solicitude, I shall then enjoy at
     once the pleasure of the only blessing my heart desires,
     and also that of being indebted for it to you. I am, Sir,
     with all my heart, &c.

     J. J. R.

[1] The person here mentioned desired her name might be suppressed.
_French Editor_.

As the motive to the suppression of the lady's name can hardly be
supposed to extend to this country, the _English translator_ takes the
liberty to mention the name of the Marchioness de Verdelin.

Not that I had deferred till this time my endeavours to be useful to Mr
Rousseau. The following letter was communicated to me by Mr Clairaut,
some weeks before his death.


_Motiers-Travers_, _March_ 3, 1765.


     The remembrance of your former kindness, induces me to
     be again importunate. It is to desire you will be so
     good, for the second time, to be the censor of one of
     my performances. It is a very paltry rhapsody, which I
     compiled many years ago, under the title of _A Musical
     Dictionary_, and am now obliged to republish it for
     subsistence. Amidst the torrent of misfortunes that
     overwhelm me, I am not in a situation to review the work;
     which, I know, is full of oversights and mistakes. If any
     interest you may take in the lot of the most unfortunate
     of mankind, should induce you to bestow a little more
     attention on his work than on that of another, I should be
     extremely obliged to you, if you would take the trouble to
     correct such errors as you may meet with in the perusal.
     To point them out, without correcting them, would be doing
     nothing, for I am absolutely incapable of paying the
     least attention to such a work; so that if you would but
     condescend to alter, add, retrench, and, in short, use it
     as you would do your own, you would do a great charity, for
     which I should be extremely thankful. Accept, Sir, my most
     humble excuses and salutations.

     J. J. R.

It is with reluctance I say it, but I am compelled to it; I now know of
a certainty that this affectation of extreme poverty and distress was a
mere pretence, a petty kind of imposture which Mr Rousseau successfully
employed to excite the compassion of the public; but I was then very
far from suspecting any such artifice. I must own, I felt on this
occasion an emotion of pity, mixed with indignation, to think a man
of letters of such eminent merit, should be reduced, in spite of the
simplicity of his manner of living, to such extreme indigence; and that
this unhappy state should be rendered more intolerable by sickness,
by the approach of old age, and the implacable rage of persecution.
I knew that many persons imputed the wretchedness of Mr Rousseau to
his excessive pride, which induced him to refuse the assistance of
his friends; but I thought this fault, if it were a fault, was a very
respectable one. Too many men of letters have debased their character
in stooping so low as to solicit the assistance of persons of wealth
or power, unworthy of affording them protection; and I conceived that
a noble pride, even though carried to excess, merited some indulgence
in a man of genius, who, borne up by a sense of his own superiority and
a love of independence, should have braved the storms of fortune and
the insults of mankind. I proposed, therefore, to serve Mr Rousseau
in his own way. I desired Mr Clairaut, accordingly, to give me his
letter, which I showed to several of Mr Rousseau's friends and patrons
in Paris. At the same time I proposed to them a scheme by which he
might be relieved, without suspecting any thing of the matter. This
was to engage the bookseller, who was to publish his _Dictionary_, to
give Mr Rousseau a greater sum for the copy than he had offered, and
to indemnify him by paying him the difference. But this project, which
could not be executed without the assistance of Mr Clairaut, fell to
the ground at the unexpected decease of that learned and respectable

Retaining, however, still the same idea of Mr Rousseau's excessive
poverty, I constantly retained the same inclination to oblige him;
and when I was informed of his intention to go to England under my
conduct, I formed a scheme much of the same kind with that I could not
execute at Paris. I wrote immediately to my friend, Mr John Stewart of
Buckingham Street, that I had an affair to communicate to him, of so
secret and delicate a nature, that I should not venture even to commit
it to paper, but that he might learn the particulars of Mr Elliot
(now Sir Gilbert Elliot), who would soon return from Paris to London.
The plan was this, and was really communicated by Mr Elliot some time
after to Mr Stewart, who was at the same time enjoined to the greatest

Mr Stewart was to look out for some honest discreet farmer in his
neighbourhood in the country, who might be willing to lodge and board
Mr Rousseau and his gouvernante in a very decent and plentiful manner,
at a pension which Mr Stewart might settle at fifty or sixty pounds a
year; the farmer engaging to keep such agreement a profound secret, and
to receive from Mr Rousseau only twenty or twenty-five pounds a year, I
engaging to supply the difference.

It was not long before Mr Stewart wrote me word he had found a
situation which he conceived might be agreeable; on which I desired he
would get the apartment furnished in a proper and convenient manner at
my expense. But this scheme, in which there could not possibly enter
any motive of vanity on my part, secrecy being a necessary condition of
its execution, did not take place, other designs presenting themselves
more convenient and agreeable. The fact, however, is well known both to
Mr Stewart and Sir Gilbert Elliot.

It will not be improper here to mention another plan concerted with
the same intentions. I had accompanied Mr Rousseau into a very
pleasant part of the county of Surry, where he spent two days at
Colonel Webb's, Mr Rousseau seeming to me highly delighted with the
natural and solitary beauties of the place. Through the means of Mr
Stewart, therefore, I entered into treaty with Colonel Webb for the
purchasing the house, with a little estate adjoining, in order to make
a settlement for Mr Rousseau. If, after what has passed, Mr Rousseau's
testimony be of any validity, I may appeal to himself for the truth of
what I advance. But be this as it will, these facts are well known to
Mr Stewart, to General Clarke, and in part to Colonel Webb.

But to proceed in my narrative. Mr Rousseau came to Paris, provided
with a passport which his friends had obtained for him. I conducted him
to England. For upwards of two months after our arrival, I employed
myself and my friends in looking out for some agreeable situation for
him. We gave way to all his caprices; excused all his singularities;
indulged him in all his humours; in short, neither time nor trouble
was spared to procure him what he desired;[2] and, notwithstanding he
rejected several of the projects which I had laid out for him, yet I
thought myself sufficiently recompensed for my trouble by the gratitude
and even affection with which he appeared to repay my solicitude.

At length his present settlement was proposed and approved. Mr
Davenport, a gentleman of family, fortune and worth, offered him his
house at Wooton, in the county of Derby, where he himself seldom
resides, and at which Mr Rousseau and his housekeeper are boarded at a
very moderate expense.

When Mr Rousseau arrived at Wooton, he wrote me the following letter.

[2] It is probably to this excessive and ill-judged complaisance Mr
Hume may in a great degree impute the disagreeable consequences that
have followed. There is no end in indulging caprice, nor any prudence
in doing it, when it is known to be such. It may be thought humane
to indulge the weak of body or mind, the decrepitude of age, and
imbecility of childhood; but even here it too often proves cruelty to
the very parties indulged. How much more inexcusable, therefore, is it
to cherish the absurdities of whim and singularity in men of genius and
abilities! How is it possible to make a man easy or happy in a world,
to whose customs and maxims he is determined to run retrograde? No.
Capricious men, like forward children, should be left to kick against
the pricks, and vent their spleen unnoticed. To humour, is only to
spoil them.--_English Translator_.


     _Wooton_, _March_ 22, 1766.

     You see already, my dear patron, by the date of my letter,
     that I am arrived at the place of my destination; but you
     cannot see all the charms which I find in it. To do this,
     you should be acquainted with the situation, and be able
     to read my heart. You ought, however, to read at least
     those of my sentiments with respect to you, and which you
     have so well deserved. If I live in this agreeable asylum
     as happy as I hope to do, one of the greatest pleasures of
     my life will be, to reflect that I owe it to you. To make
     another happy, is to deserve to be happy one's self. May
     you therefore find in yourself the reward of all you have
     done for me! Had I been alone, I might perhaps have met
     with hospitality; but I should have never relished it so
     highly as I now do in owing it to your friendship. Retain
     still that friendship for me, my dear patron; love me for
     my sake, who am so much indebted to you; love me for your
     own, for the good you have done me. I am sensible of the
     full value of your sincere friendship: it is the object of
     my ardent wishes: I am ready to repay it with all mine,
     and feel something in my heart which may one day convince
     you that it is not without its value. As, for the reasons
     agreed on between us, I shall receive nothing by the post,
     you will be pleased, when you have the goodness to write to
     me, to send your letters to Mr Davenport. The affair of the
     carriage is not yet adjusted, because I know I was imposed
     on. It is a trifling fault, however, which may be only the
     effect of an obliging vanity, unless it should happen to be
     repeated. If you were concerned in it, I would advise you
     to give up, once for all, these little impositions, which
     cannot proceed from any good motive, when converted into
     snares for simplicity. I embrace you, my dear patron, with
     the same cordiality which I hope to find in you.

     J. J. R.

Some few days after, I received from him another letter, of which the
following is a copy.


     _Wooton_, _March_ 29, 1766.

     You will see, my dear patron, by the letter Mr Davenport
     will have transmitted you, how agreeably I find myself
     situated in this place. I might perhaps be more at my ease
     if I were less noticed; but the solicitude of so polite an
     host as mine is too obliging to give offence; and as there
     is nothing in life without its inconvenience, that of
     being too good is one of those which is the most tolerable.
     I find a much greater inconvenience in not being able to
     make the servants understand me, and particularly in my not
     understanding them. Luckily Mrs le Vasseur serves me as
     interpreter, and her fingers speak better than my tongue.
     There is one advantage, however, attending my ignorance,
     which is a kind of compensation; it serves to tire and keep
     at a distance impertinent visitors. The minister of the
     parish came to see me yesterday, who, finding that I spoke
     to him only in French, would not speak to me in English, so
     that our interview was almost a silent one. I have taken
     a great fancy to this expedient, and shall make use of it
     with all my neighbours, if I have any. Nay, should I even
     learn to speak English, I would converse with them only in
     French, especially if I were so happy as to find they did
     not understand a word of that language; an artifice this,
     much of the same kind with that which the Negroes pretend
     is practised by the monkeys, who, they say, are capable of
     speech, but cannot be prevailed upon to talk, lest they
     should be set to work.

     It is not true in any sense that I agreed to accept of
     a model from Mr Gosset as a present. On the contrary, I
     asked him the price, which he told me was a guinea and
     half, adding that he intended to present me with it; an
     offer I did not accept. I desire you therefore to pay him
     for it, and Mr Davenport will be so good as repay you the
     money. And if Mr Gosset does not consent to be paid for it,
     it must be returned to him, and purchased by some other
     hand. It is designed for Mr du Peyrou, who desired long
     since to have my portrait, and caused one to be painted
     in miniature, which is not at all like me. You were more
     fortunate in this respect than me; but I am sorry that, by
     your assiduity to serve me, you deprived me of the pleasure
     of discharging the same friendly obligation with regard to
     yourself. Be so good, my dear patron, as to order the model
     to be sent to Messrs Guinand and Hankey, Little St Helen's,
     Bishopsgate Street, in order to be transmitted to Mr du
     Peyrou by the first safe conveyance. It hath been a frost
     ever since I have been here; the snow falls daily; and the
     wind is cutting and severe; notwithstanding all which, I
     had rather lodge in the hollow trunk of an old tree, in
     this country, than in the most superb apartment in London.
     Good day, my dear patron. I embrace you with all my heart.
     J. J. R.

Mr Rousseau and I having agreed not to lay each other under any
restraint by a continued correspondence, the only subject of our future
letters was the obtaining a pension for him from the King of England,
which was then in agitation, and of which affair the following is a
concise and faithful relation.

As we were conversing together one evening at Calais, where we were
detained by contrary winds, I asked Mr Rousseau if he would not accept
of a pension from the King of England, in case his Majesty should be
pleased to grant him one. To this he replied, it was a matter of some
difficulty to resolve on, but that he should be entirely directed
by the advice of my Lord Marshall. Encouraged by this answer, I no
sooner arrived in London than I addressed myself to his Majesty's
Ministers, and particularly to General Conway, Secretary of State, and
General Græme, Secretary and Chamberlain to the Queen. Application was
accordingly made to their Majesties, who, with their usual goodness,
consented, on condition only that the affair should not be made public.
Mr Rousseau and I both wrote to my Lord Marshall; and Mr Rousseau
expressly observed in his letter, that the circumstance of the affair's
being to be kept secret was very agreeable to him. The consent of my
Lord Marshall arrived, as may readily be imagined; soon after which Mr
Rousseau set out for Wooton, while the business remained some time in
suspense, on account of the indisposition of General Conway.

In the mean time, I began to be afraid, from what I had observed of
Mr Rousseau's disposition and character, that his natural restlessness
of mind would prevent the enjoyment of that repose, to which the
hospitality and security he found in England invited him. I saw, with
infinite regret, that he was born for storms and tumults, and that the
disgust which might succeed the peaceful enjoyment of solitude and
tranquillity, would soon render him a burthen to himself and every body
about him.[3] But, as I lived at the distance of an hundred and fifty
miles from the place of his residence, and was constantly employed in
doing him good offices, I did not expect that I myself should be the
victim of this unhappy disposition.

[3] In forming the opinion of Mr Rousseau's disposition, Mr Hume was by
no means singular. The striking features of Mr Rousseau's extraordinary
character having been strongly marked in the criticisms on his several
writings, in the Monthly Review, particularly in the account of his
Letters from the Mountains, in the appendix to the 31st vol. of that
work, where this celebrated genius is described, merely from the
general tenour of his writings and the outlines of his public conduct,
to be exactly such a kind of person as Mr Hume hath discovered him from
intimate and personal acquaintance.--_English translator_.

It is necessary to introduce here a letter, which was written last
winter, at Paris, in the name of the king of Prussia.


     You have renounced Geneva, your native soil. You have been
     driven from Switzerland, a country of which you have made
     such boast in your writings. In France you are outlawed:
     come then to me. I admire your talents, and amuse myself
     with your reveries; on which, however, by the way, you
     bestow too much time and attention. It is high time to grow
     prudent and happy; you have made yourself sufficiently
     talked of for singularities little becoming a truly great
     man: show your enemies that you have sometimes common
     sense: this will vex them without hurting you. My dominions
     afford you a peaceable retreat: I am desirous to do you
     good, and will do it, if you can but think it such. But
     if you are determined to refuse my assistance, you may
     expect that I shall say not a word about it to any one.
     If you persist in perplexing your brains to find out new
     misfortunes, choose such as you like best; I am a king,
     and can make you as miserable as you can wish; at the same
     time, I will engage to do that which your enemies never
     will, I will cease to persecute you, when you are no longer
     vain of persecution.

     Your sincere friend, FREDERICK.

This letter was written by Mr Horace Walpole, about three weeks before
I left Paris; but though we lodged in the same hotel, and were often
together, Mr Walpole, out of regard to me, carefully concealed this
piece of pleasantry till after my departure. He then showed it to some
friends, who took copies; and those of course presently multiplied; so
that this little piece had been spread with rapidity all over Europe,
and was in every body's hands when I saw it, for the first time, in

I believe every one will allow, who knows any thing of the liberty of
this country, that such a piece of raillery could not, even by the
utmost influence of kings, lords and commons, by all the authority
ecclesiastical, civil and military, be kept from finding its way to the
press. It was accordingly published in the St James's Chronicle, and a
few days after I was very much surprised to find the following piece in
the same paper.


     _Wooton_, _April_ 7_th_, 1766.


     You have been wanting in that respect which every private
     person owes to crowned heads, in publickly ascribing
     to the King of Prussia, a letter full of baseness and
     extravagance; by which circumstance alone, you might be
     very well assured he could not be the author. You have even
     dared to subscribe his name, as if you had seen him write
     it with his own hand. I inform you, Sir, that this letter
     was fabricated at Paris, and, what rends and afflicts my
     heart, that the impostor hath his accomplices in England.

     In justice to the King of Prussia, to truth, and to myself,
     you ought therefore to print the letter I am now writing,
     and to which I set my name, by way of reparation for a
     fault, which you would undoubtedly reproach yourself for
     if you knew of what atrociousness you have been made the
     instrument. Sir, I make you my sincere salutations.

     J. J. R.

I was sorry to see Mr Rousseau display such an excess of sensibility,
on account of so simple and unavoidable an incident, as the publication
of this pretended letter from the King of Prussia. But I should have
accused myself of a most black and malevolent disposition, if I had
imagined Mr Rousseau could have suspected me to have been the editor of
it, or that he had intentionally directed his resentment against me.
He now informs me, however, that this was really the case. Just eight
days before, I had received a letter, written in the most amicable
terms imaginable.[4] I am, surely, the last man in the world, who, in
common sense, ought to be suspected; yet, without even the pretence
of the smallest proof or probability, I am, of a sudden, the first
man not only suspected, but certainly concluded to be the publisher;
I am, without further inquiry or explication, intentionally insulted
in a public paper; I am, from the dearest friend, converted into a
treacherous and malignant enemy; and all my present and past services
are at one stroke very artfully cancelled. Were it not ridiculous to
employ reasoning on such a subject, and with such a man, I might ask
Mr Rousseau, "Why I am supposed to have any malignity against him?"
My actions, in a hundred instances, had sufficiently demonstrated
the contrary; and it is not usual for favours conferred to beget ill
will in the person who confers them. But supposing I had secretly
entertained an animosity towards him, would I run the risk of a
discovery, by so silly a vengeance, and by sending this piece to the
press, when I knew, from the usual avidity of the news-writers to find
articles of intelligence, that it must necessarily in a few days be
laid hold of?

[4] That of the 29th of March.

But not imagining that I was the object of so black and ridiculous a
suspicion, I pursued my usual train, by serving my friend in the least
doubtful manner. I renewed my applications to General Conway, as soon
as the state of that gentleman's health permitted it: the General
applies again to his Majesty: his Majesty's consent is renewed: the
Marquis of Rockingham, first Commissioner of the Treasury, is also
applied to: the whole affair is happily finished; and full of joy, I
conveyed the intelligence to my friend. On which Mr Conway soon after
received the following letter.


     _May_ 12_th_, 1766.


     Affected with a most lively sense of the favour his
     Majesty hath honoured me with, and with that of your
     goodness, which procured it me, it affords me the most
     pleasing sensation to reflect, that the best of Kings, and
     the Minister most worthy of his confidence, are pleased
     to interest themselves in my fortune. This, Sir, is an
     advantage of which I am justly tenacious, and which I will
     never deserve to lose. But it is necessary I should speak
     to you with that frankness you admire. After the many
     misfortunes that have befallen me, I thought myself armed
     against all possible events. There have happened to me
     some, however, which I did not foresee, and which indeed an
     ingenuous mind ought not to have foreseen: hence it is that
     they affect me by so much the more severely. The trouble
     in which they involve me, indeed, deprives me of the ease
     and presence of mind necessary to direct my conduct: all
     I can reasonably do, under so distressed a situation,
     is to suspend my resolutions about every affair of such
     importance as is that in agitation. So far from refusing
     the beneficence of the King from pride, as is imputed to
     me, I am proud of acknowledging it, and am only sorry I
     cannot do it more publicly. But when I actually receive
     it, I would be able to give up myself entirely to those
     sentiments which it would naturally inspire, and to have an
     heart replete with gratitude for his Majesty's goodness and
     yours. I am not at all afraid this manner of thinking will
     make any alteration in yours towards me. Deign, therefore,
     Sir, to preserve that goodness for me, till a more happy
     opportunity, when you will be satisfied that I defer taking
     the advantage of it, only to render myself more worthy of
     it. I beg of you, Sir, to accept of my most humble and
     respectful salutations.

     J. J. R.

This letter appeared both to General Conway and me a plain refusal, as
long as the article of secrecy was insisted on; but as I knew that Mr
Rousseau had been acquainted with that condition from the beginning,
I was the less surprised at his silence towards me. I thought that my
friend, conscious of having treated me ill in this affair, was ashamed
to write to me; and having prevailed on General Conway to keep the
matter still open, I wrote a very friendly letter to Mr Rousseau,
exhorting him to return to his former way of thinking, and to accept of
the pension.

As to the deep distress which he mentions to General Conway, and which,
he says, deprives him even of the use of his reason, I was set very
much at ease on that head, by receiving a letter from Mr Davenport, who
told me, that his guest was at that very time extremely happy, easy,
cheerful, and even sociable. I saw plainly, in this event, the usual
infirmity of my friend, who wishes to interest the world in his favour,
by passing for sickly, and persecuted, and distressed, and unfortunate,
beyond all measure, even while he is the most happy and contented. His
pretences of an extreme sensibility had been too frequently repeated,
to have any effect on a man who was so well acquainted with them.

I waited three weeks in vain for an answer: I thought this a little
strange, and I even wrote so to Mr Davenport; but having to do with
a very odd sort of a man, and still accounting for his silence by
supposing him ashamed to write to me, I was resolved not to be
discouraged, nor to lose the opportunity of doing him an essential
service, on account of a vain ceremonial. I accordingly renewed my
applications to the Ministers, and was so happy as to be enabled to
write the following letter to Mr Rousseau, the only one of so old a
date of which I have a copy.


     _Lisle-street_, _Leicester-fields_, 19_th June_, 1766.

     As I have not received any answer from you, I conclude,
     that you persevere in the same resolution of refusing all
     marks of his Majesty's goodness, as long as they must
     remain a secret. I have therefore applied to General Conway
     to have this condition removed; and I was so fortunate as
     to obtain his promise that he would speak to the King for
     that purpose. It will only be requisite, said he, that we
     know previously from Mr Rousseau, whether he would accept
     of a pension publicly granted him, that his Majesty may
     not be exposed to a second refusal. He gave me authority
     to write to you on that subject; and I beg to hear your
     resolution as soon as possible. If you give your consent,
     which I earnestly entreat you to do, I know, that I could
     depend on the good offices of the Duke of Richmond, to
     second General Conway's application; so that I have no
     doubt of success. I am, my Dear Sir, Yours, with great

     D. H.

In five days I received the following answer.


     _Wooton_, _June_ 23_d_, 1766.

     I imagined, Sir, that my silence, truly interpreted by your
     own conscience, had said enough; but since you have some
     design in not understanding me, I shall speak. You have
     but ill disguised yourself. I know you, and you are not
     ignorant of it. Before we had any personal connections,
     quarrels, or disputes; while we knew each other only by
     literary reputation, you affectionately made me the offer
     of the good offices of yourself and friends. Affected by
     this generosity, I threw myself into your arms; you brought
     me to England, apparently to procure me an asylum, but in
     fact to bring me to dishonour. You applied to this noble
     work, with a zeal worthy of your heart, and a success
     worthy of your abilities. You needed not have taken so much
     pains: you live and converse with the world; I with myself
     in solitude. The public love to be deceived, and you were
     formed to deceive them. I know one man, however, whom you
     can not deceive; I mean myself. You know with what horror
     my heart rejected the first suspicion of your designs. You
     know I embraced you with tears in my eyes, and told you, if
     you were not the best of men, you must be the blackest of
     mankind. In reflecting on your private conduct, you must
     say to yourself sometimes, you are not the best of men:
     under which conviction, I doubt much if ever you will be
     the happiest.

     I leave your friends and you to carry on your schemes as
     you please; giving up to you, without regret, my reputation
     during life; certain that, sooner or later, justice will be
     done to that of both. As to your good offices in matters
     of interest, which you have made use of as a mask, I thank
     you for them, and shall dispense with profiting by them. I
     ought not to hold a correspondence with you any longer, or
     to accept of it to my advantage in any affair in which you
     are to be the mediator. Adieu, Sir, I wish you the truest
     happiness; but as we ought not to have any thing to say to
     each other for the future, this is the last letter you will
     receive from me.

     J. J. R.

To this I immediately sent the following reply.


     _June_ 26_th_, 1766.

     As I am conscious of having ever acted towards you the most
     friendly part, of having always given the most tender, the
     most active proofs of sincere affection; you may judge of
     my extreme surprize on perusing your epistle. Such violent
     accusations, confined altogether to generals, it is as
     impossible to answer, as it is impossible to comprehend
     them. But affairs cannot, must not remain on that footing.
     I shall charitably suppose, that some infamous calumniator
     has belied me to you. But in that case, it is your duty,
     and I am persuaded it will be your inclination, to give me
     an opportunity of detecting him, and of justifying myself;
     which can only be done by your mentioning the particulars
     of which I am accused. You say, that I myself know that
     I have been false to you; but I say it loudly, and will
     say it to the whole world, that I know the contrary, that
     I know my friendship towards you has been unbounded and
     uninterrupted, and that though instances of it have been
     very generally remarked both in France and England, the
     smallest part of it only has as yet come to the knowledge
     of the public. I demand, that you will produce me the man
     who will assert the contrary; and above all, I demand,
     that he will mention any one particular in which I have
     been wanting to you. You owe this to me; you owe it to
     yourself; you owe it to truth, and honour, and justice, and
     to every thing that can be deemed sacred among men. As an
     innocent man; I will not say, as your friend; I will not
     say, as your benefactor; but, I repeat it, as an innocent
     man, I claim the privilege of proving my innocence, and of
     refuting any scandalous lie which may have been invented
     against me. Mr Davenport, to whom I have sent a copy of
     your letter, and who will read this before he delivers it,
     I am confident, will second my demand, and will tell you,
     that nothing possibly can be more equitable. Happily I
     have preserved the letter you wrote me after your arrival
     at Wooton; and you there express in the strongest terms,
     indeed in terms too strong, your satisfaction in my poor
     endeavours to serve you: the little epistolary intercourse
     which afterwards passed between us, has been all employed
     on my side to the most friendly purposes. Tell me, what has
     since given you offence. Tell me of what I am accused. Tell
     me the man who accuses me. Even after you have fulfilled
     all these conditions, to my satisfaction, and to that of Mr
     Davenport, you will have great difficulty to justify the
     employing such outrageous terms towards a man, with whom
     you have been so intimately connected, and whom, on many
     accounts, you ought to have treated with some regard and

     Mr Davenport knows the whole transaction about your
     pension, because I thought it necessary that the person who
     had undertaken your settlement, should be fully acquainted
     with your circumstances; lest he should be tempted to
     perform towards you concealed acts of generosity, which, if
     they accidentally came to your knowledge, might give you
     some grounds of offence. I am, Sir,

     D. H.

Mr Davenport's authority procured me, in three weeks, the following
enormous letter; which however has this advantage, that it confirms all
the material circumstances of the foregoing narrative. I have subjoined
a few notes relative to some facts which Mr Rousseau hath not truly
represented, and leave my readers to judge which of us deserves the
greatest confidence.


     _Wooton_, _July_ 10, 1766.


     I am indisposed, and little in a situation to write; but
     you require an explanation, and it must be given you: it
     was your own fault you had it not long since; but you did
     not desire it, and I was therefore silent: at present you
     do, and I have sent it. It will be a long one, for which I
     am very sorry; but I have much to say, and would put an end
     to the subject at once.

     As I live retired from the world, I am ignorant of what
     passes in it. I have no party, no associates, no intrigues;
     I am told nothing, and I know only what I feel. But as care
     hath been taken to make me severely feel; that I well know.
     The first concern of those who engage in bad designs is to
     secure themselves from legal proofs of detection: it would
     not be very advisable to seek a remedy against them at law.
     The innate conviction of the heart admits of another kind
     of proof, which influences the sentiments of honest men.
     You well know the basis of mine.

     You ask me, with great confidence, to name your accuser.
     That accuser, Sir, is the only man in the world whose
     testimony I should admit against you; it is yourself. I
     shall give myself up, without fear or reserve, to the
     natural frankness of my disposition; being an enemy to
     every kind of artifice, I shall speak with the same
     freedom as if you were an indifferent person, on whom I
     placed all that confidence which I no longer have in you.
     I will give you a history of the emotions of my heart,
     and of what produced them; while speaking of Mr Hume in
     the third person, I shall make yourself the judge of what
     I ought to think of him. Notwithstanding the length of
     my letter, I shall pursue no other order than that of my
     ideas, beginning with the premises, and ending with the

     I quitted Switzerland, wearied out by the barbarous
     treatment I had undergone; but which affected only my
     personal security, while my honour was safe. I was going,
     as my heart directed me, to join my Lord Marshal; when I
     received at Strasburg, a most affectionate invitation from
     Mr Hume, to go over with him to England, where he promised
     me the most agreeable reception, and more tranquillity
     than I have met with. I hesitated some time between my old
     friend and my new one; in this I was wrong. I preferred
     the latter, and in this was still more so. But the desire
     of visiting in person a celebrated nation, of which I had
     heard both so much good and so much ill, prevailed. Assured
     I could not lose George Keith, I was flattered with the
     acquisition of David Hume. His great merit, extraordinary
     abilities, and established probity of character, made me
     desirous of annexing his friendship to that with which
     I was honoured by his illustrious countrymen. Besides,
     I gloried not a little in setting an example to men of
     letters, in a sincere union between two men so different in
     their principles.

     Before I had received an invitation from the King of
     Prussia, and my Lord Marshal, undetermined about the place
     of my retreat, I had desired, and obtained by the interest
     of my friends, a passport from the Court of France. I made
     use of this, and went to Paris to join Mr Hume. He saw,
     and perhaps saw too much of, the favourable reception I
     met with from a great Prince, and I will venture to say,
     of the public. I yielded, as it was my duty, though with
     reluctance, to that eclat; concluding how far it must
     excite the envy of my enemies. At the same time, I saw
     with pleasure, the regard which the public entertained for
     Mr Hume, sensibly increasing throughout Paris, on account
     of the good work he had undertaken with respect to me.
     Doubtless he was affected too; but I know not if it was in
     the same manner as I was.

     We set out with one of my friends, who came to England
     almost entirely on my account. When we were landed at
     Dover, transported with the thoughts of having set foot in
     this land of liberty, under the conduct of so celebrated a
     person, I threw my arms round his neck, and pressed him to
     my heart, without speaking a syllable; bathing his cheeks,
     as I kissed them, with tears sufficiently expressive. This
     was not the only, nor the most remarkable instance I have
     given him of the effusions of a heart full of sensibility.
     I know not what he does with the recollection of them, when
     that happens; but I have a notion they must be sometimes
     troublesome to him.

     At our arrival in London, we were mightily caressed and
     entertained: all ranks of people eagerly pressing to
     give me marks of their benevolence and esteem. Mr Hume
     presented me politely to every body; and it was natural
     for me to ascribe to him, as I did, the best part of my
     good reception. My heart was full of him, I spoke in his
     praise to every one, I wrote to the same purpose to all
     my friends; my attachment to him gathering every day new
     strength, while his appeared the most affectionate to me,
     of which he frequently gave me instances that touched me
     extremely. That of causing my portrait to be painted,
     however, was not of the number. This seemed to me to carry
     with it too much the affectation of popularity, and had an
     air of ostentation which by no means pleased me. All this,
     however, might have been easily excusable, had Mr Hume
     been a man apt to throw away his money, or had a gallery
     of pictures with the portraits of his friends. After all,
     I freely confess, that, on this head, I may be in the

     But what appears to me an act of friendship and generosity
     the most undoubted and estimable, in a word, the most
     worthy of Mr Hume, was the care he took to solicit for me,
     of his own accord, a pension from the King, to which most
     assuredly I had no right to aspire. As I was a witness
     to the zeal he exerted in that affair, I was greatly
     affected with it. Nothing could flatter me more than a
     piece of service of that nature; not merely for the sake
     of interest; for, too much attached, perhaps, to what I
     actually possess, I am not capable of desiring what I have
     not, and, as I am able to subsist on my labour, and the
     assistance of my friends, I covet nothing more. But the
     honour of receiving testimonies of the goodness, I will not
     say of so great a monarch, but of so good a father, so good
     a husband, so good a master, so good a friend, and, above
     all, so worthy a man, was sensibly affecting: and when I
     considered farther, that the minister who had obtained
     for me this favour, was a living instance of that probity
     which of all others is the most important to mankind, and
     at the same time hardly ever met with in the only character
     wherein it can be useful, I could not check the emotions of
     my pride, at having for my benefactors three men, who of
     all the world I could most desire to have my friends. Thus,
     so far from refusing the pension offered me, I only made
     one condition necessary for my acceptance; this was the
     consent of a person, whom I could not, without neglecting
     my duty, fail to consult.

     Being honoured with the civilities of all the world, I
     endeavoured to make a proper return. In the mean time,
     my bad state of health, and being accustomed to live in
     the country, made my residence in town very disagreeable.
     Immediately country houses presented themselves in plenty;
     I had my choice of all the counties of England. Mr Hume
     took the trouble to receive these proposals, and to
     represent them to me; accompanying me to two or three in
     the neighbouring counties. I hesitated a good while in my
     choice, and he increased the difficulty of determination.
     At length I fixed on this place, and immediately Mr Hume
     settled the affair; all difficulties vanished, and I
     departed; arriving presently at this solitary, convenient,
     and agreeable habitation, where the owner of the house
     provides every thing, and nothing is wanting. I became
     tranquil, independent; and this seemed to be the wished-for
     moment when all my misfortunes should have an end. On the
     contrary, it was now they began; misfortunes more cruel
     than any I had yet experienced.

     Hitherto I have spoken in the fulness of my heart, and to
     do justice, with the greatest pleasure, to the good offices
     of Mr Hume. Would to Heaven that what remains for me to say
     were of the same nature! It would never give me pain to
     speak what would redound to his honour; nor is it proper to
     set a value on benefits till one is accused of ingratitude,
     which is the case at present. I will venture to make one
     observation, therefore, which renders it necessary. In
     estimating the services of Mr Hume, by the time and the
     pains they took him up, they were of an infinite value,
     and that still more from the good will displayed in their
     performance; but for the actual service they were of to
     me, it was much more in appearance than reality. I did
     not come over to beg my bread in England; I brought the
     means of subsistence with me. I came merely to seek an
     asylum in a country which is open to every stranger without
     distinction. I was, besides, not so totally unknown as
     that, if I had arrived alone, I should have wanted either
     assistance or service. If some persons have sought my
     acquaintance for the sake of Mr Hume, others have sought
     it for my own. Thus, when Mr Davenport, for example, was
     so kind as to offer my present retreat, it was not for the
     sake of Mr Hume, whom he did not know, and whom he saw only
     in order to desire him to make me his obliging proposal;
     so that, when Mr Hume endeavours to alienate from me this
     worthy man, he takes that from me which he did not give
     me.[6] All the good that hath been done me, would have been
     done me nearly the same without him, and perhaps better;
     but the evil would not have been done me at all; for why
     should I have enemies in England? Why are those enemies all
     the friends of Mr Hume? Who could have excited their enmity
     against me? It certainly was not I, who knew nothing of
     them, nor ever saw them in my life. I should not have had a
     single enemy had I come to England alone.[7]

     I have hitherto dwelt upon public and notorious facts,
     which, from their own nature, and my acknowledgment, have
     made the greatest eclat. Those which are to follow are
     particular and secret, at least in their cause; and all
     possible measures have been taken to keep the knowledge of
     them from the public; but as they are well known to the
     person interested, they will not have the less influence
     toward his own conviction.

     A very short time after our arrival in London, I observed
     an absurd change in the minds of the people regarding
     me, which soon became very apparent. Before I arrived in
     England, there was not a nation in Europe in which I
     had a greater reputation, I will venture to say, or was
     held in greater estimation. The public papers were full
     of encomiums on me, and a general outcry prevailed on my
     persecutors.[8] This was the case at my arrival, which
     was published in the newspapers with triumph; England
     prided itself in affording me refuge, and justly gloried
     on that occasion in its laws and government; when all of a
     sudden, without the least assignable cause, the tone was
     changed, and that so speedily and totally, that, of all
     the caprices of the public, never was known any thing more
     surprising. The signal was given in a certain _Magazine_,
     equally full of follies and falsehoods, in which the
     author, being well informed, or pretending to be so, gives
     me out for the son of a musician. From this time[9] I was
     constantly spoken of in print in a very equivocal or
     slighting manner.[10] Every thing that had been published
     concerning my misfortunes was misrepresented, altered, or
     placed in a wrong light, and always as much as possible to
     my disadvantage. So far was any body from speaking of the
     reception I met with at Paris, and which had made but too
     much noise, it was not generally supposed that I durst have
     appeared in that city, even one of Mr Hume's friends being
     very much surprised when I told him I came through it.

     Accustomed as I had been too much to the inconstancy of
     the public, to be affected by this instance of it, I could
     not help being astonished, however, at a change, so very
     sudden and general, that not one of those who had so much
     praised me in my absence, appeared, now I was present, to
     think even of my existence. I thought it something very
     odd that, immediately after the return of Mr Hume, who had
     so much credit in London, with so much influence over the
     booksellers and men of letters, and such great connections
     with them, his presence should produce an effect so
     contrary to what might have been expected; that among so
     many writers of every kind, not one of his friends should
     show himself to be mine; while it was easy to be seen,
     that those who spoke of him were not his enemies, since,
     in noticing his public character, they reported that I had
     come through France under his protection, and by favour of
     a passport which he had obtained of the court; nay, they
     almost went so far as to insinuate, that I came over in
     his retinue, and at his expense. All this was of little
     signification, and was only singular; but what was much
     more so, was, that his friends changed their tone with me
     as much as the public. I shall always take a pleasure in
     saying that they were still equally solicitous to serve
     me, and that they exerted themselves greatly in my favour;
     but so far were they from showing me the same respect,
     particularly the gentleman at whose house we alighted on
     our arrival, that he accompanied all his actions with
     discourse so rude, and sometimes so insulting, that one
     would have thought he had taken an occasion to oblige
     me, merely to have a right to express his contempt.[11]
     His brother, who was at first very polite and obliging,
     altered his behaviour with so little reserve, that he
     would hardly deign to speak a single word to me, even in
     their own house, in return to a civil salutation, or to
     pay any of those civilities which are usually paid in like
     circumstances to strangers. Nothing new had happened,
     however, except the arrival of J. J. Rousseau and David
     Hume: and certainly the cause of these alterations did
     not come from me, unless, indeed, too great a portion
     of simplicity, discretion, and modesty, be the cause of
     offence in England. As to Mr Hume, he was so far from
     assuming such a disgusting tone, that he gave into the
     other extreme. I have always looked upon flatterers with
     an eye of suspicion: and he was so full of all kinds[12]
     of flattery, that he even obliged me, when I could bear
     it no longer,[13] to tell him my sentiments on that head.
     His behaviour was such as to render few words necessary,
     yet I could have wished he had substituted, in the room of
     such gross encomiums, sometimes the language of a friend;
     but I never found any thing in his, which savoured of true
     friendship, not even in his manner of speaking of me to
     others in my presence. One would have thought that, in
     endeavouring to procure me patrons, he strove to deprive
     me of their good will; that he sought rather to have me
     assisted than loved; and I have been sometimes surprised at
     the rude turn he hath given to my behaviour before people
     who might not unreasonably have taken offence at it. I
     shall give an example of what I mean. Mr Pennick of the
     Museum, a friend of my Lord Marshal's, and minister of a
     parish where I was solicited to reside, came to see me. Mr
     Hume made my excuses, while I myself was present, for not
     having paid him a visit. Doctor Matty, said he, invited us
     on Thursday to the Museum, where Mr Rousseau should have
     seen you; but he chose rather to go with Mrs Garrick to
     the play: we could not do both the same day.[14] You will
     confess, Sir, this was a strange method of recommending me
     to Mr Pennick.

     I know not what Mr Hume might say in private of me to his
     acquaintance, but nothing was more extraordinary than
     their behaviour to me, even by his own confession, and
     even often through his own means. Although my purse was
     not empty, and I needed not that of any other person,
     which he very well knew, yet any one would have thought
     I was come over to subsist on the charity of the public,
     and that nothing more was to be done than to give me alms
     in such a manner as to save me a little confusion.[15] I
     must own, this constant and insolent piece of affectation
     was one of those things which made me averse to reside in
     London. This certainly was not the footing on which any
     man should have been introduced in England, had there been
     a design of procuring him ever so little respect. This
     display of charity, however, may admit of a more favourable
     interpretation, and I consent it should. To proceed.

     At Paris was published a fictitious letter from the King
     of Prussia, addressed to me, and replete with the most
     cruel malignity. I learned with surprise that it was one
     Mr Walpole, a a friend of Mr Hume's who was the editor; I
     asked him if it were true; in answer to which question,
     he only asked me, of whom I had the information. A moment
     before he had given me a card for this same Mr Walpole,
     written to engage him to bring over such papers as related
     to me from Paris, and which I wanted to have by a safe hand.

     I was informed that the son of that quack[16] Tronchin,
     my most mortal enemy, was not only the friend of Mr Hume,
     and under his protection, but that they both lodged in the
     same house together; and when Mr Hume found that I knew
     it, he imparted it in confidence; assuring me at the same
     time that the son was by no means like the father. I lodged
     a few nights myself, together with my governante, in the
     same house; and by the air and manner with which we were
     received by the landladies, who are his friends, I judged
     in what manner either Mr Hume, or that man, who, as he
     said, was by no means like his father, must have spoken to
     them both of her and me.[17]

     All these facts put together, added to a certain appearance
     of things on the whole, insensibly gave me an uneasiness
     which I rejected with horror. In the mean time, I found
     the letters I wrote did not come to hand; those I received
     had often been opened; and all went through the hands of
     Mr Hume.[18] If at any time any one escaped him, he could
     not conceal his eagerness to see it. One evening, in
     particular, I remember a very remarkable circumstance of
     this kind that greatly struck me.[19]

     As we were sitting one evening, after supper, silent by
     the fire-side, I caught his eyes intently fixed on mine,
     as indeed happened very often; and that in a manner of
     which it is very difficult to give an idea. At that time
     he gave me a stedfast, piercing look, mixed with a sneer,
     which greatly disturbed me. To get rid of the embarrassment
     I lay under, I endeavoured to look full at him in my
     turn; but, in fixing my eyes against his, I felt the most
     inexpressible terror, and was obliged soon to turn them
     away. The speech and physiognomy of the good David is that
     of an honest man; but where, great God! did this good man
     borrow those eyes he fixes so sternly and unaccountably on
     those of his friends?

     The impression of this look remained with me, and gave me
     much uneasiness. My trouble increased even to a degree of
     fainting; and if I had not been relieved by an effusion
     of tears, I had been suffocated. Presently after this I
     was seized with the most violent remorse; I even despised
     myself; till at length, in a transport which I still
     remember with delight, I sprang on his neck, embraced him
     eagerly; while almost choked with sobbing, and bathed in
     tears, I cried out, in broken accents, _No, no, David
     Hume cannot be treacherous. If he be not the best of men,
     he must be the basest of mankind_. David Hume politely
     returned my embraces, and, gently, tapping me on the back,
     repeated several times, in a good-natured and easy tone,
     _Why, what, my dear Sir! Nay, my dear Sir! Oh, my dear
     Sir!_ He said nothing more. I felt my heart yearn within
     me. We went to bed; and I set out the next day for the

     Arrived at this agreeable asylum, to which I have travelled
     so far in search of repose, I ought to find it in a
     retired, convenient, and pleasant habitation; the master
     of which, a man of understanding and worth, spares for
     nothing to render it agreeable to me. But what repose can
     be tasted in life, when the heart is agitated? Afflicted
     with the most cruel uncertainty, and ignorant what to think
     of a man whom I ought to love and esteem, I endeavoured to
     get rid of that fatal doubt, in placing confidence in my
     benefactor. For, wherefore, from what unaccountable caprice
     should he display so much apparent zeal for my happiness,
     and at the same time entertain secret designs against my
     honour. Among the several observations that disturbed me,
     each fact was in itself of no great moment; it was their
     concurrence that was surprising; yet I thought, perhaps,
     that Mr Hume, informed of other facts, of which I was
     ignorant, could have given me a satisfactory solution of
     them, had we come to an explanation. The only thing that
     was inexplicable, was, that he refused to come to such
     an explanation; which both his honour and his friendship
     rendered equally necessary. I saw very well there was
     something in the affair which I did not comprehend, and
     which I earnestly wished to know. Before I came to an
     absolute determination, therefore, with regard to him,
     I was desirous of making another effort, and to try to
     recover him, if he had permitted himself to be seduced by
     my enemies, or, in short, to prevail on him to explain
     himself one way or other. Accordingly I wrote him a letter,
     which he ought to have found very natural,[20] if he were
     guilty; but very extraordinary, if he were innocent.
     For what could be more extraordinary than a letter full
     of gratitude for his services, and at the same time, of
     distrust of his sentiments; and in which, placing in a
     manner his actions on one side, and his sentiments on the
     other, instead of speaking of the proofs of friendship
     he had given me, I desired him to love me, for the good
     he had done me![21] I did not take the precaution to
     preserve a copy of this letter; but as he hath done it,
     let him produce it: and whoever shall read it, and see
     therein a man labouring under a secret trouble, which he is
     desirous of expressing, and is afraid to do it, will, I am
     persuaded, be curious to know what kind of éclaircissement
     it produced, especially after the preceding scene. None.
     Absolutely none at all. Mr Hume contented himself, in his
     answer, with only speaking of the obliging offices Mr
     Davenport proposed to do for me. As for the rest, he said
     not a word of the principal subject of my letter, nor of
     the situation of my heart, of whose distress he could not
     be ignorant. I was more struck with this silence, than I
     had been with his phlegm during our last conversation. In
     this I was wrong; this silence was very natural after the
     other, and was no more than I ought to have expected. For
     when one hath ventured to declare to a man's face, _I am
     tempted to believe you a traitor_, and he hath not the
     curiosity to ask you _for what_,[22] it may be depended
     on he will never have any such curiosity as long as he
     lives; and it is easy to judge of him from these slight

     After the receipt of his letter, which was long delayed, I
     determined at length to write to him no more. Soon after,
     every thing served to confirm me in the resolution to
     break off all farther correspondence with him. Curious to
     the last degree concerning the minutest circumstance of
     my affairs, he was not content to learn them of me, in
     our frequent conversations; but, as I learned, never let
     slip an opportunity of being alone with my governante,[23]
     to interrogate her even importunately concerning my
     occupations, my resources, my friends, acquaintances, their
     names, situations, place of abode, and all this after
     setting out with telling her he was well acquainted with
     the whole of my connections; nay, with the most jesuitical
     address, he would ask the same questions of us separately.
     One ought undoubtedly to interest one's self in the affairs
     of a friend; but one ought to be satisfied with what he
     thinks proper to let us know of them, particularly when
     people are so frank and ingenuous as I am. Indeed all this
     petty inquisitiveness is very little becoming a philosopher.

     About the same time I received two other letters which had
     been opened. The one from Mr Boswell, the seal of which
     was so loose and disfigured, that Mr Davenport, when he
     received it, remarked the same to Mr Hume's servant. The
     other was from Mr d'Ivernois, in Mr Hume's packet, and
     which had been sealed up again by means of a hot iron,
     which, awkwardly applied, had burnt the paper round the
     impression. On this I wrote to Mr Davenport to desire him
     to take charge of all the letters which might be sent for
     me, and to trust none of them in any body's hands, under
     any pretext whatever. I know not whether Mr Davenport, who
     certainly was far from thinking that precaution was to be
     observed with regard to Mr Hume, showed him my letter or
     not; but this I know, that the latter had all the reason
     in the world to think he had forfeited my confidence, and
     that he proceeded nevertheless in his usual manner, without
     troubling himself about the recovery of it.

     But what was to become of me, when I saw, in the public
     papers, the pretended letter of the King of Prussia which
     I had never before seen, that fictitious letter, printed
     in French and English, given for genuine, even with the
     signature of the King, and in which I knew the pen of Mr
     d'Alembert as certainly as if I had seen him write it?[24]

     In a moment a ray of light discovered to me the secret
     cause of that touching and sudden change, which I had
     observed in the public respecting me; and I saw the plot
     which was put in execution at London, had been laid in

     Mr d'Alembert, another intimate friend of Mr Hume's, had
     been long since my secret enemy, and lay in watch for
     opportunities to injure me without exposing himself. He
     was the only person, among the men of letters, of my old
     acquaintance, who did not come to see me,[25] or send their
     civilities during my last passage through Paris. I knew his
     secret disposition, but I gave myself very little trouble
     about it, contenting myself with advising my friends of it
     occasionally. I remember that being asked about him one day
     by Mr Hume, who afterwards asked my governante the same
     question, I told him that Mr d'Alembert was a cunning,
     artful man. He contradicted me with a warmth that surprised
     me; not then knowing they stood so well with each other,
     and that it was his own cause he defended.

     The perusal of the letter above mentioned alarmed me a
     good deal, when, perceiving that I had been brought over
     to England in consequence of a project which began to be
     put in execution, but of the end of which I was ignorant,
     I felt the danger without knowing what to guard against,
     or on whom to rely. I then recollected four terrifying
     words Mr Hume had made use of, and of which I shall speak
     hereafter. What could be thought of a paper in which my
     misfortunes were imputed to me as a crime, which tended, in
     the midst of my distress, to deprive me of all compassion,
     and, to render its effects still more cruel, pretended
     to have been written by a Prince who had afforded me
     protection? What could I divine would be the consequence
     of such a beginning? The people in England read the public
     papers, and are in no wise prepossessed in favour of
     foreigners. Even a coat, cut in a different fashion from
     their own, is sufficient to excite a prejudice against
     them. What then had not a poor stranger to expect in his
     rural walks, the only pleasures of his life, when the good
     people in the neighbourhood were once thoroughly persuaded
     he was fond of being persecuted and pelted? Doubtless
     they would be ready enough to contribute to his favourite
     amusement. But my concern, my profound and cruel concern,
     the bitterest indeed I ever felt, did not arise from the
     danger to which I was personally exposed. I have braved
     too many others to be much moved with that. The treachery
     of a false friend,[26] to which I had fallen a prey, was
     the circumstance that filled my too susceptible heart with
     deadly sorrow. In the impetuosity of its first emotions, of
     which I never yet was master, and of which my enemies have
     artfully taken the advantage, I wrote several letters full
     of disorder, in which I did not disguise either my anxiety
     or indignation.

     I have, Sir, so many things to mention, that I forget half
     of them by the way. For instance, a certain narrative
     in form of a letter, concerning my manner of living at
     Montmorency, was given by the booksellers to Mr Hume, who
     showed it me. I agreed to its being printed, and Mr Hume
     undertook the care of its edition; but it never appeared.
     Again, I had brought over with me a copy of the letters
     of Mr du Peyron, containing a relation of the treatment I
     had met with at Neufchâtel. I gave them into the hands of
     the same bookseller to have them translated and reprinted.
     Mr Hume charged himself with the care of them; but they
     never appeared.[27] The supposititious letter of the King
     of Prussia, and its translation, had no sooner made their
     appearance, than I immediately apprehended why the other
     pieces had been suppressed,[28] and I wrote as much to
     the booksellers.[29] I wrote several other letters also,
     which probably were handed about London; till at length
     I employed the credit of a man of quality and merit, to
     insert a declaration of the imposture in the public papers.
     In this declaration, I concealed no part of my extreme
     concern, nor did I in the least disguise the cause.

     Hitherto Mr Hume seems to have walked in darkness. You will
     soon see him appear in open day, and act without disguise.
     Nothing more is necessary, in our behaviour towards cunning
     people, than to act ingenuously; sooner or later they will
     infallibly betray themselves.

     When this pretended letter from the Ring of Prussia was
     first published in London, Mr Hume, who certainly knew that
     it was fictitious, as I had told him so, yet said nothing
     of the matter, did not write to me, but was totally silent;
     and did not even think of making any declaration of the
     truth, in favour of his absent friend.[30] It answered his
     purpose better to let the report take its course, as he did.

     Mr Hume having been my conductor into England, he was of
     course in a manner my patron and protector. If it were but
     natural in him to undertake my defence, it was no less
     so that, when I had a public protestation to make, I
     should have addressed myself to him. Having already ceased
     writing to him,[31] however, I had no mind to renew our
     correspondence. I addressed myself therefore to another
     person. The first slap on the face I gave my patron. He
     felt nothing of it.

     In saying the letter was fabricated at Paris, it was of
     very little consequence to me whether it was understood
     particularly of Mr d'Alembert, or of Mr Walpole, whose
     name he borrowed on the occasion. But in adding that, what
     afflicted and tore my heart was, the impostor had got his
     accomplices in England; I expressed myself very clearly
     to their friend, who was in London, and was desirous of
     passing for mine. For certainly he was the only person in
     England, whose hatred could afflict and rend my heart. This
     was the second slap of the face I gave my patron. He did
     not feel, however, yet.

     On the contrary, he maliciously pretended that my
     affliction arose solely from the publication of the
     above letter, in order to make me pass for a man who was
     excessively affected by satire. Whether I am vain or not,
     certain it is I was mortally afflicted; he knew it, and
     yet wrote me not a word. This affectionate friend, who had
     so much at heart the filling of my purse, gave himself no
     trouble to think my heart was bleeding with sorrow.

     Another piece appeared soon after, in the same papers,
     by the author of the former, and still if possible more
     cruel, in which the writer could not disguise his rage
     at the reception I met with at Paris.[32] This however
     did not affect me; it told me nothing new. Mere libels
     may take their course without giving me any emotion;
     and the inconstant public may amuse themselves as long
     as they please with the subject. It is not an affair of
     conspirators, who, bent on the destruction of my honest
     fame, are determined by some means or other to effect it.
     It was necessary to change the battery.

     The affair of the pension was not determined. It was
     not difficult, however, for Mr Hume to obtain, from the
     humanity of the minister, and the generosity of the King,
     the favour of its determination. He was required to inform
     me of it, which he did. This, I must confess, was one of
     the critical moments of my life. How much did it cost me
     to do my duty! My preceding engagements, the necessity
     of showing a due respect for the goodness of the King,
     and for that of his minister, together with the desire of
     displaying how far I was sensible of both; add to these the
     advantage of being made a little more easy in circumstances
     in the decline of life, surrounded as I was by enemies
     and evils; in fine, the embarrassment I was under to find
     a decent excuse for not accepting a benefit already half
     accepted; all these together made the necessity of that
     refusal very difficult and cruel: for necessary it was, or
     I should have been one of the meanest and basest of mankind
     to have voluntarily laid myself under an obligation to a
     man who had betrayed me.

     I did my duty, though not without reluctance. I wrote
     immediately to General Conway, and in the most civil and
     respectful manner possible, without giving an absolute
     refusal, excusing myself from accepting the pension for the

     Now, Mr Hume had been the only negociator of this affair,
     nay the only person who had spoke of it. Yet I not only
     did not give him any answer, though it was he who wrote to
     me on the subject, but did not even so much as mention him
     in my letter to General Conway. This was the third slap of
     the face I gave my patron, which if he does not feel, it is
     certainly his own fault, he can feel nothing.

     My letter was not clear, nor could it be so to General
     Conway, who did not know the motives of my refusal; but
     it was very plain to Mr Hume, who knew them but too well.
     He pretended nevertheless to be deceived as well with
     regard to the cause of my discontent, as to that of my
     declining the pension; and, in a letter he wrote me on the
     occasion, gave me to understand that the King's goodness
     might be continued towards me, if I should reconsider the
     affair of the pension. In a word, he seemed determined,
     at all events, to remain still my patron, in spite of my
     teeth. You will imagine, Sir, he did not expect my answer;
     and he had none. Much about this time, for I do not know
     exactly the date, nor is such precision necessary, appeared
     a letter, from Mr de Voltaire to me, with an English
     translation, which still improved on the original. The
     noble object of this ingenious performance, was to draw
     on me the hatred and contempt of the people, among whom
     I was come to reside. I made not the least doubt that my
     dear patron was one of the instruments of its publication;
     particularly when I saw that the writer, in endeavouring
     to alienate from me those who might render my life
     agreeable, had omitted the name of him who brought me over.
     He doubtless knew that it was superfluous, and that with
     regard to him, nothing more was necessary to be said. The
     omission of his name, so impoliticly forgot in this letter,
     recalled to my mind what Tacitus says of the picture of
     Brutus, omitted in a funeral solemnity, viz. that every
     body took notice of it, particularly because it was not

     Mr Hume was not mentioned; but he lives and converses
     with people that are mentioned. It is well known his
     friends are all my enemies; there are abroad such people
     as Tronchin, d'Alembert, and Voltaire;[33] but it is much
     worse in London; for here I have no enemies but what are
     his friends. For why, indeed, should I have any other?
     Why should I have even them?[34] What have I done to Lord
     Littleton,[35] whom I don't even know? What have I done to
     Mr Walpole, whom I know full as little? What do they know
     of me, except that I am unhappy, and a friend to their
     friend Hume? What can he have said to them, for it is only
     through him they know any thing of me? I can very well
     imagine, that, considering the part he has to play, he does
     not unmask himself to every body; for then he would be
     disguised to nobody. I can very well imagine that he does
     not speak of me to General Conway and the Duke of Richmond
     as he does in his private conversations with Mr Walpole,
     and his secret correspondence with Mr d'Alembert. But let
     any one discover the clue that hath been unravelled since
     my arrival in London, and it will easily be seen whether Mr
     Hume does not hold the principal thread.

     At length the moment arrived in which it was thought proper
     to strike the great blow, the effect of which was prepared
     for by a fresh satirical piece put in the papers.[36] Had
     there remained in me the least doubt, it would have been
     impossible to have harboured it after perusing this piece,
     as it contained facts unknown to any body but Mr Hume;
     exaggerated, it is true, in order to render them odious to
     the public.

     It is said in this paper that my door was opened to the
     rich, and shut to the poor. Pray, who knows when my door
     was open or shut, except Mr Hume, with whom I lived, and by
     whom every body was introduced that I saw? I will except
     one great personage, whom I gladly received without knowing
     him, and whom I should still have more gladly received if
     I had known him. It was Mr Hume who told me his name when
     he was gone; on which information, I was really chagrined,
     that, as he deigned to mount up two pair of stairs, he was
     not received in the first floor. As to the poor, I have
     nothing to say about the matter. I was constantly desirous
     of seeing less company; but as I was unwilling to displease
     any one, I suffered myself to be directed in this affair
     altogether by Mr Hume, and endeavoured to receive every
     body he introduced as well as I could, without distinction,
     whether rich or poor. It is said in the same piece that I
     received my relations very coldly, _not to say any thing
     worse_. This general charge relates to my having once
     received, with some indifference, the only relation I have,
     out of Geneva, and that in the presence of Mr Hume.[37] It
     must necessarily be either Mr Hume or this relation who
     furnished that piece of intelligence. Now, my cousin, whom
     I have always known for a friendly relation and a worthy
     man, is incapable of furnishing materials for public
     satires against me. Add to this, that his situation in life
     confining him to the conversation of persons in trade, he
     has no connection with men of letters or paragraph writers,
     and still less with satirists and libellers; so that the
     article could not come from him. At the worst, can I help
     imagining that Mr Hume must have endeavoured to take
     advantage of what he said, and construed it in favour of
     his own purpose? It is not improper to add, that, after my
     rupture with Mr Hume, I wrote an account of it to my cousin.

     In fine, it is said in the same paper that I am apt to
     change my friends. No great subtlety is necessary to
     comprehend what this reflection is preparative to.

     But let us distinguish facts. I have preserved some very
     valuable and solid friends for twenty-five to thirty years.
     I have others whose friendship is of a later date, but no
     less valuable, and which, if I live, I may preserve still
     longer. I have not found, indeed, the same security in
     general among those friendships I have made with men of
     letters. I have for this reason sometimes changed them, and
     shall always change them when they appear suspicious; for I
     am determined never to have friends by way of ceremony; I
     have them only with a view to show them my affection.

     If ever I was fully and clearly convinced of any thing, I
     am so convinced that Mr Hume furnished the materials for
     the above paper.

     But what is still more, I have not only that absolute
     conviction, but it is very clear to me that Mr Hume
     intended I should: For how can it be supposed that a man of
     his subtlety should be so imprudent as to expose himself
     thus, if he had not intended it? What was his design in
     it? Nothing is more clear than this. It was to raise my
     resentment to the highest pitch, that he might strike the
     blow he was preparing to give me with greater eclat. He
     knew he had nothing more to do than put me in a passion,
     and I should be guilty of a number of absurdities. We are
     now arrived at the critical moment which is to show whether
     he reasoned well or ill.

     It is necessary to have all the presence of mind, all
     the phlegm and resolution of Mr Hume, to be able to
     take the part he hath taken, after all that has passed
     between us. In the embarrassment I was under in writing
     to General Conway, I could make use only of obscure
     expressions, to which Mr Hume, in quality of my friend,
     gave what interpretation he pleased. Supposing, therefore,
     for he knew very well to the contrary, that it was the
     circumstance of secrecy which gave me uneasiness, he
     obtained the promise of the General to endeavour to remove
     it; but before any thing was done, it was previously
     necessary to know whether I would accept of the pension
     without that condition, in order not to expose his Majesty
     to a second refusal.

     This was the decisive moment, the end and object of all
     his labours. An answer was required: he would have it. To
     prevent effectually indeed my neglect of it, he sent to Mr
     Davenport a duplicate of his letter to me; and, not content
     with this precaution, wrote me word, in another billet,
     that he could not possibly stay any longer in London to
     serve me. I was giddy with amazement on reading this note.
     Never in my life did I meet with any thing so unaccountable.

     At length he obtained from me the so much desired answer,
     and began presently to triumph. In writing to Mr Davenport,
     he treated me as a monster of brutality and ingratitude.
     But he wanted to do still more. He thinks his measures
     well taken; no proof can be made to appear against him. He
     demands an explanation: he shall have it, and here it is.

     That last stroke was a masterpiece. He himself proves every
     thing, and that beyond reply.

     I will suppose, though by way of impossibility, that my
     complaints against Mr Hume never reached his ears; that he
     knew nothing of them; but was as perfectly ignorant as if
     he had held no cabal with those who are acquainted with
     them, but had resided all the while in China.[38] Yet the
     behaviour passing directly between us; the last striking
     words which I said to him in London; the letter which
     followed replete with fears and anxiety; my persevering
     silence still more expressive than words; my public
     and bitter complaints with regard to the letter of Mr
     d'Alembert; my letter to the Secretary of State, who did
     not write to me, in answer to that which Mr Hume wrote to
     me himself, and in which I did not mention him; and in fine
     my refusal, without deigning to address myself to him, to
     acquiesce in an affair which he had managed in my favour,
     with my own privity, and without any opposition on my part;
     all this must have spoken in a very forcible manner, I will
     not say to any person of the least sensibility, but to
     every man of common sense.

     Strange that, after I had ceased to correspond with him for
     three months, when I had made no answer to any one of his
     letters, however important the subject of it, surrounded
     with both public and private marks of that affliction
     which his infidelity gave me; a man of so enlightened an
     understanding, of so penetrating a genius by nature, and
     so dull by design, should see nothing, hear nothing, feel
     nothing, be moved at nothing; but, without one word of
     complaint, justification, or explanation, continue to give
     me the most pressing marks of his good will to serve me,
     in spite of myself? He wrote to me affectionately, that he
     could not stay any longer in London to do me service, as if
     we had agreed that he should stay there for that purpose!
     This blindness, this insensibility, this perseverance, are
     not in nature; they must be accounted for, therefore, from
     other motives. Let us set this behaviour in a still clearer
     light; for this is the decisive point.

     Mr Hume must necessarily have acted in this affair, either
     as one of the first or last of mankind. There is no medium.
     It remains to determine which of the two it hath been.

     Could Mr Hume, after so many instances of disdain on my
     part, have still the astonishing generosity as to persevere
     sincerely to serve me? He knew it was impossible for me to
     accept his good offices, so long as I entertained for him
     such sentiments as I had conceived. He had himself avoided
     an explanation. So that to serve me without justifying
     himself, would have been to render his services useless;
     this therefore was no generosity. If he supposed that in
     such circumstances I should have accepted his services, he
     must have supposed me to have been an infamous scoundrel.
     It was then in behalf of a man whom he supposed to be a
     scoundrel, that he so warmly solicited a pension from his
     Majesty. Can any thing be supposed more extravagant?

     But let it be supposed that Mr Hume, constantly pursuing
     his plan, should only have said to himself, This is the
     moment for its execution; for, by pressing Rousseau to
     accept the pension, he will be reduced either to accept or
     refuse it. If he accepts it, with the proofs I have in hand
     against him, I shall be able completely to disgrace him:
     if he refuses, after having accepted it, he will have no
     pretext, but must give a reason for such refusal. This is
     what I expect; if he accuses me, he is ruined.

     If, I say, Mr Hume reasoned with himself in this manner,
     he did what was consistent with his plan, and in that
     case very natural; indeed this is the only way in which
     his conduct in this affair can be explained, for upon
     any other supposition it is inexplicable: if this be not
     demonstrable, nothing ever was so. The critical situation
     to which he had now reduced me, re-recalled strongly to my
     mind the four words I mentioned above; and which I heard
     him say and repeat, at a time when I did not comprehend
     their full force. It was the first night after our
     departure from Paris. We slept in the same chamber, when,
     during the night, I heard him several times cry out with
     great vehemence, in the French language, _Je tiens J. J.
     Rousseau._ 'I have you, Rousseau.' I know not whether he
     was awake or asleep.[39]

     The expression was remarkable, coming from a man who is too
     well acquainted with the French language, to be mistaken
     with regard to the force or choice of words. I took these
     words, however, and I could not then take them otherwise
     than in a favourable sense: notwithstanding the tone of
     voice in which they were spoken, was still less favourable
     than the expression. It is indeed impossible for me to
     give any idea of it; but it corresponds exactly with those
     terrible looks I have before mentioned. At every repetition
     of them I was seized with a shuddering, a kind of horror I
     could not resist, though a moment's recollection restored
     me, and made me smile at my terror. The next day all this
     was so perfectly obliterated, that I did not even think of
     it during my stay in London, and its neighbourhood. It was
     not till my arrival in this place, that so many things have
     contributed to recall these words to my mind; and indeed
     recall them every moment.

     These words, the tone of which dwells on my heart, as if
     I had but just heard them; those long and fatal looks so
     frequently cast on me; the patting me on the back, with the
     repetition of _O, my dear Sir_, in answer to my suspicions
     of his being a traitor: all this affects me to such a
     degree, after what preceded, that this recollection, had I
     no other, would be sufficient to prevent any reconciliation
     or return of confidence between us; not a night indeed
     passes over my head, but I think I hear, _Rousseau, I have
     you_, ring in my ears as if he had just pronounced them.

     Yes, Mr Hume, I know you _have me_; but that only by
     mere externals: you have me in the public opinion and
     judgment of mankind. You have my reputation, and perhaps my
     security, to do with as you will. The general prepossession
     is in your favour; it will be very easy for you to make me
     pass for the monster you have begun to represent me; and
     I already see the barbarous exultation of my implacable
     enemies. The public will no longer spare me. Without any
     farther examination, every body is on the side of those who
     have conferred favours; because each is desirous to attract
     the same good offices, by displaying a sensibility of the
     obligation. I foresee readily the consequences of all this,
     particularly in the country to which you have conducted me;
     and where, being without friends, and an utter stranger
     to every body, I lie almost entirely at your mercy. The
     sensible part of mankind, however, will comprehend that I
     must be so far from seeking this affair, that nothing more
     disagreeable or terrible could possibly have happened to me
     in my present situation. They will perceive that nothing
     but my invincible aversion to all kind of falsehood, and
     the possibility of my professing a regard for a person who
     had forfeited it, could have prevented my dissimulation,
     at a time when it was on so many accounts my interest. But
     the sensible part of mankind are few, nor do they make the
     greatest noise in the world.

     Yes, Mr Hume, you _have me_ by all the ties of this life;
     but you have no power over my probity or my fortitude,
     which, being independent either of you or of mankind, I
     will preserve in spite of you. Think not to frighten me
     with the fortune that awaits me. I know the opinions of
     mankind; I am accustomed to their injustice, and have
     learned to care little about it. If you have taken your
     resolution, as I have reason to believe you have, be
     assured mine is taken also. I am feeble indeed in body, but
     never possessed greater strength of mind.

     Mankind may say and do what they will, it is of little
     consequence to me. What is of consequence, however, is,
     that I should end as I have begun; that I should continue
     to preserve my ingenuousness and integrity to the end,
     whatever may happen; and that I should have no cause to
     reproach myself either with meanness in adversity, or
     insolence in prosperity. Whatever disgrace attends, or
     misfortune threatens me, I am ready to meet them. Though I
     am to be pitied, I am much less so than you, and all the
     revenge I shall take on you is, to leave you the tormenting
     consciousness of being obliged, in spite of yourself,
     to have a respect for the unfortunate person you have

     In closing this letter, I am surprised at my having been
     able to write it. If it were possible to die with grief,
     every line was sufficient to kill me with sorrow. Every
     circumstance of the affair is equally incomprehensible.
     Such conduct as yours hath been, is not in nature: it is
     contradictory to itself, and yet it is demonstrable to me
     that it has been such as I conceive. On each side of me
     there is a bottomless abyss! and I am lost in one or the

     If you are guilty, I am the most unfortunate of mankind;
     if you are innocent, I am the most culpable.[40] You even
     make me desire to be that contemptible object. Yes, the
     situation to which you see me reduced, prostrate at your
     feet, crying out for mercy, and doing every thing to obtain
     it; publishing aloud my own unworthiness, and paying the
     most explicit homage to your virtues, would be a state of
     joy and cordial effusion, after the grievous state of
     restraint and mortification into which you have plunged me.
     I have but a word more to say. If you are guilty, write
     to me no more; it would be superfluous, for certainly
     you could not deceive me. If you are innocent, justify
     yourself. I know my duty; I love, and shall always love
     it, however difficult and severe. There is no state of
     abjection that a heart, not formed for it, may not recover
     from. Once again, I say, if you are innocent, deign to
     justify yourself; if you are not, adieu for ever.

     J. J. R.

[5] The fact was this. My friend, Mr Ramsay, a painter of eminence,
and a man of merit, proposed to draw Mr Rousseau's picture; and when
he had begun it, told me he intended to make me a present of it. Thus
the design of having Mr Rousseau's picture drawn did not come from
me, nor did it cost me any thing. Mr Rousseau, therefore, is equally
contemptible in paying me a compliment for this pretended gallantry,
in his letter of the 29th March, and in converting it into ridicule
here.--Mr HUME.

[6] Mr Rousseau forms a wrong judgment of me, and ought to know me
better. I have written to Mr Davenport, even since our rupture, to
engage him to continue his kindness to his unhappy guest.--Mr HUME.

[7] How strange are the effects of a disordered imagination! Mr
Rousseau tells us he is ignorant of what passes in the world, and yet
talks of the enemies he has in England. How does he know this? Where
did he see them? He hath received nothing but marks of beneficence and
hospitality. Mr Walpole is the only person who hath thrown out a little
piece of raillery against him; but is not therefore his enemy. If Mr
Rousseau could have seen things exactly as they are, he would have seen
that he had no other friend in England but me, and no other enemy but
himself.--Mr HUME.

[8] That a general outcry should prevail against Mr Rousseau's
persecutors in England, is no wonder. Such an outcry would have
prevailed from sentiments of humanity, had he been a person of much
less note; so that this is no proof of his being esteemed. And as to
the encomiums on him inserted in the public newspapers, the value of
such kind of puffs is well known in England. I have already observed,
that the authors of more respectable works were at no loss what to
think of Mr Rousseau, but had formed a proper judgment of him long
before his arrival in England. The genius which displayed itself in his
writings did by no means blind the eyes of the more sensible part of
mankind to the absurdity and inconsistency of his opinions and conduct.
In exclaiming against Mr Rousseau's fanatical persecutors, they did
not think him the more possessed of the true spirit of martyrdom. The
general opinion indeed was, that he had too much philosophy to be very
devout, and had too much devotion to have much philosophy.--_English

[9] Mr Rousseau knows very little of the public judgment in England,
if he thinks it is to be influenced by any story told in a certain
Magazine. But, as I have before said, it was not from this time that Mr
Rousseau was slightingly spoke of, but long before, and that in a more
consequential manner. Perhaps, indeed, Mr Rousseau ought in justice
to impute great part of those civilities he met with on his arrival,
rather to vanity and curiosity than to respect and esteem.--_English

[10] So then I find I am to answer for every article of every Magazine
and newspaper printed in England. I assure Mr Rousseau I would rather
answer for every robbery committed on the highway; and I am entirely as
innocent of the one as the other.--Mr HUME.

[11] This relates to my friend Mr John Stewart, who entertained Mr
Rousseau at his house, and did him all the good offices in his power.
Mr Rousseau, in complaining of this gentleman's behaviour, forgets that
he wrote Mr Stewart a letter from Wooton, full of acknowledgments, and
just expressions of gratitude. What Mr Rousseau adds, regarding the
brother of Mr Stewart, is neither civil nor true--Mr HUME.

[12] I shall mention only one, that made me smile; this was, his
attention to have, every time I came to see him, a volume of _Eloisa_
upon his table; as if I did not know enough of Mr Hume's taste for
reading, as to be well assured, that of all books in the world, Eloisa
must be one of the most tiresome to him.--Mr ROUSSEAU.

[13] The reader may judge from the two first letters of Mr Rousseau,
which I published with that view, on which side the flatteries
commenced. As for the rest, I loved and esteemed Mr Rousseau, and
took a pleasure in giving him to understand so. I might perhaps be
too lavish in my praises; but I can assure the reader he never once
complained of it.--Mr HUME.

[14] I don't recollect a single circumstance of this history; but what
makes me give very little credit to it, is, that I remember very well
we had settled two different days for the purposes mentioned, that is,
one to go to the Museum, and another to the play.--Mr HUME.

[15] I conceive Mr Rousseau hints here at two or three dinners, that
were sent him from the house of Mr Stewart, when he chose to dine at
his own lodgings; this was not done, however, to save him the expense
of a meal, but because there was no convenient tavern or chop-house in
the neighbourhood. I beg the reader's pardon for descending to such
trivial particulars.--Mr HUME.

[16] We have not been authorized to suppress this affronting term; but
it is too gross and groundless to do any injury to the celebrated and
respectable physician to whose name it is annexed.--_French Editors_.

[17] Thus am I accused of treachery, because I am a friend of Mr
Walpole, who hath thrown out a little raillery on Mr Rousseau, and
because the son of a man whom Mr Rousseau does not like lodges
by accident in the same house; because my landladies, who do not
understand a syllable of French, received Mr Rousseau coldly. As to the
rest, all that I said to Mr Rousseau about the young Tronchin was, that
he had not the same prejudices against him as his father.--Mr HUME.

[18] The story of Mr Rousseau's letters is as follows. He had often
been complaining to me, and with reason, that he was ruined by postage
at Neufchâtel, which commonly cost him about 25 or 26 louis d'ors a
year, and all for letters which were of no significance, being wrote,
some of them by people who took that opportunity of abusing him, and
most of them by persons unknown to him. He was therefore resolved, he
said, in England to receive no letters which came by the post; and
the same resolution he reiterates in his letter to me dated the 22d
of March. When he went to Chiswick, near London, the postman brought
his letters to me. I carried him out a cargo of them. He exclaimed,
desired me to return the letters, and recover the price of postage. I
told him, that, in that case, the clerks of the Post Office were entire
masters of his letters. He said he was indifferent: they might do with
them what they pleased. I added, that he would by that means be cut
off from all correspondence with all his friends. He replied, that he
would give a particular direction to such as he desired to correspond
with. But till his instructions for that purpose could arrive, what
could I do more friendly than to save, at my own expense, his letters
from the curiosity and indiscretion of the clerks of the Post Office?
I am indeed ashamed to find myself obliged to discover such petty
circumstances.---Mr HUME.

[19] It is necessary to explain this circumstance. I had been writing
on Mr Hume's table, during his absence, an answer to a letter I had
just received. He came in, very anxious to know what I had been
writing, and hardly able to contain himself from desiring to read it.
I closed my letter, however, without showing it him; when, as I was
putting it into my pocket, he asked me for it eagerly, saying he would
send it away on the morrow, being post-day. The letter lay on the
table. Lord Newnham came in. Mr Hume went out of the room for a moment,
on which I took the letter up again, saying I should find time to send
it the next day. Lord Newnham offered to get it inclosed in the French
ambassador's packet, which I accepted. Mr Hume re-entered the moment
his Lordship had inclosed it, and was pulling out his seal. Mr Hume
officiously offered his own seal, and that with so much earnestness,
that it could not well be refused. The bell was rung, and Lord Newnham
gave the letter to Mr Hume's servant, to give it to his own, who waited
below with the chariot, in order to have it sent to the ambassador.
Mr Hume's servant was hardly got out of the room, but I said to
myself, I'll lay a wager the master follows. He did not fail to do as
I expected. Not knowing how to leave Lord Newnham alone, I staid some
time before I followed Mr Hume. I said nothing; but he must perceive
that I was uneasy. Thus, although I have received no answer to my
letter, I doubt not of its going to hand; but I confess, I cannot help
suspecting it was read first.--Mr ROUSSEAU.

[20] It appears from what he wrote to me afterwards, that he was
very well satisfied with this letter, and that he thought of it very
well.--Mr ROUSSEAU.

[21] My answer to this is contained in Mr Rousseau's own letter of the
22d of March; wherein he expresses himself with the utmost cordiality,
without any reserve, and without the least appearance of suspicion.--Mr

[22] All this hangs upon the fable he had so artfully worked up, as I
before observed.--Mr HUME.

[23] I had only one such opportunity with his governante, which was
on their arrival in London. I must own it never entered into my
head to talk to her upon any other subject than the concerns of Mr
Rousseau.--Mr HUME.

[24] See Mr d'Alembert's declaration on this head, annexed to this

[25] Mr Rousseau declares himself to have been fatigued with the visits
he received; ought he therefore to complain that Mr d'Alembert, whom he
did not like, did not importune him with his?--Mr HUME.

[26] This _false friend_ is, undoubtedly, myself. But what is the
treachery? What harm have I done, or could I do to Mr Rousseau? On
the supposition of my entering into a project to ruin him, how could
I think to bring it about by the services I did him? If Mr Rousseau
should gain credit, I must be thought still more weak than wicked.--Mr

[27] The booksellers have lately informed me that the edition is
finished, and will shortly be published. This may be; but it is too
late, and what is still worse, it is too opportune for the purpose
intended to be served.--Mr ROUSSEAU.

[28] It is about four months since Mr Becket, the bookseller, told Mr
Rousseau that the publication of these pieces was delayed on account
of the indisposition of the translator. As for any thing else, I never
promised to take any charge at all of the edition, as Mr Becket can
testify.--Mr HUME.

[29] As to Mr Rousseau's suspicions of the cause of the _suppression_,
as he calls it, of the Narrative and Letters above mentioned, the
translator thinks it incumbent on him to affirm, that they were
entirely groundless. It is true, as Mr Becket told Mr Hume, that the
translator of the letters was indisposed about that time. But the
principal cause of the delay was, that he was of his own mere motion,
no less indisposed to those pieces making their appearance in English
at all;(*) and this not out of ill will to Mr Rousseau, or good will to
Mr Hume, neither of which he ever saw, or spoke to, in his life; but
really out of regard to the character and reputation of a man, whose
genius he admired, and whose works he had translated: well knowing
the publication of such squabbles could do Mr Rousseau no good in
the opinion of the more judicious and sensible part of mankind. With
regard to the translation of the narrative of his manner of living
at Montmorency, I never saw it till it was actually printed, when Mr
Becket put it into my hands, and I frankly told him that I thought it
a very unseasonable, puerile affair, and could by no means serve to
advance Mr Rousseau's estimation in the eyes of the public. It was
certainly of great importance to the good people of England, to know
how Mr Rousseau amused himself seven or eight years ago at Montmorency,
that he cooked his own broth, and did not leave it to the management
of his nurse, for fear she should have a better dinner than himself!
Yet this is one of the most remarkable circumstances contained in
that narrative, except indeed that we are told, Mr Rousseau is a
most passionate admirer of virtue, and that his eyes always sparkle
at the bare mention of that word.--O Virtue! how greatly is thy name
prostituted! And how fair, from the teeth outward, are thy nominal
votaries!--_English Translator_.

(*) For, so far were the booksellers from intending to _suppress_ these
pieces, that they actually reprinted the French edition of Peyrou's
Letters, and published it in London.

[30] No body could possibly be mistaken with regard to the letter's
being fictitious; besides it was well known that Mr Walpole was the
author of it--Mr HUME.

[31] Mr Rousseau forgets himself here. It was but a week before that
he wrote me a very friendly letter. See his letter of the 29th of
March.--Mr HUME.

[32] I know nothing of this pretended libel.--Mr HUME.

[33] I have never been so happy as to meet with Mr de Voltaire; he only
did me the honour to write me a letter about three years ago. As to Mr
Tronchin, I never saw him in my life, nor ever had any correspondence
with him. Of Mr d'Alembert's friendship, indeed, I am proud to make a
boast.--Mr HUME.

[34] Why indeed? except that sensible people in England are averse to
affectation and quackery. Those who see and despise these most in Mr
Rousseau, are not, however, his _enemies_; perhaps, if he could be
brought to think so, they are his best and truest friends.--_English

[35] Mr Rousseau, seeing the letter addressed to him in the name of
Voltaire advertised in the public papers, wrote to Mr Davenport,
who was then in London, to desire he would bring it him. I told Mr
Davenport that the printed copy was very faulty, but that I would
ask of Lord Littleton a manuscript copy, which was correct. This is
sufficient to make Mr Rousseau conclude that Lord Littleton is his
mortal enemy, and my intimate friend; and that we are in a conspiracy
against him. He ought rather to have concluded, that the printed copy
could not come from me,--Mr HUME.

The piece above mentioned was shown to the _Translator_ before its
publication, and many absurd liberties taken with the original pointed
out and censured. At which time there did not appear, from the parties
concerned in it, that Mr Hume could have the least hand in, or could
have known any thing of the edition.--_English Translator_.

[36] I have never seen this piece, neither before nor after its
publication; nor has it come to the knowledge of any body to whom I
have spoken of it--Mr HUME.

The _translator_, who has been attentive to every thing that has come
out from, or about Mr Rousseau, knows also nothing of this piece. Why
did not Mr Rousseau mention particularly in what paper, and when it
appeared?--_English Translator_.

[37] I was not present when Mr Rousseau received his cousin. I only
just saw them afterwards together for about a minute on the terrace in
Buckingham Street.--Mr HUME.

[38] How was it possible for me to guess at such chimerical
suspicions? Mr Davenport, the only person of my acquaintance who then
saw Mr Rousseau, assures me that he was perfectly ignorant of them
himself.--Mr HUME.

[39] I cannot answer for every thing I may say in my sleep, and much
less am I conscious whether or not I dream in French. But pray, as Mr
Rousseau did not know whether I was asleep or awake when I pronounced
those terrible words, with such a terrible voice, how is he certain
that he himself was well awake when he heard them?--Mr HUME.

[40] And does it depend on an _if_, after all Mr R's positive
conviction, and absolute demonstrations?--_English Translator_.

I hesitated some time whether I should make any reply to this strange
memorial. At length I determined to write Mr Rousseau the following


     _Lisle-street, Leicester-fields, July_ 22_d_, 1766.


     I shall only answer one article of your long letter: it
     is that which regards the conversation between us the
     evening before your departure. Mr Davenport had imagined a
     good natured artifice, to make you believe that a retour
     chaise had offered for Wooton; and I believe he made an
     advertisement be put in the papers, in order the better to
     deceive you. His purpose was only to save you some expenses
     in the journey, which I thought a laudable project; though
     I had no hand either in contriving or conducting it. You
     entertained, how ever, suspicions of his design, while we
     were sitting alone by my fire-side; and you reproached me
     with concurring in it. I endeavoured to pacify you, and to
     divert the discourse; but to no purpose. You sat sullen,
     and was either silent, or made me very peevish answers. At
     last you rose up, and took a turn or two about the room;
     when all of a sudden, and to my great surprise, you clapped
     yourself on my knee, threw your arms about my neck, kissed
     me with seeming ardour, and bedewed my face with tears.
     You exclaimed, 'My dear friend, can you ever pardon this
     folly! After all the pains you have taken to serve me,
     after the numberless instances of friendship you have given
     me, here I reward you with this ill humour and sullenness.
     But your forgiveness of me will be a new instance of your
     friendship; and I hope you will find at bottom, that my
     heart is not unworthy of it.'

     I was very much affected, I own; and I believe, there
     passed a very tender scene between us. You added, by
     way of compliment, that though I had many better titles
     to recommend me to posterity, yet perhaps my uncommon
     attachment and friendship to a poor unhappy persecuted
     man, would not altogether be overlooked.

     This incident, Sir, was somewhat remarkable; and it is
     impossible that either you or I could so soon have forgot
     it. But you have had the assurance to tell me the story
     twice in a manner so different, or rather so opposite, that
     when I persist, as I do, in this account, it necessarily
     follows, that either you or I am a liar. You imagine,
     perhaps, that because the incident passed privately without
     a witness, the question will lie between the credibility
     of your assertion and of mine. But you shall not have this
     advantage or disadvantage, whichever you are pleased to
     term it. I shall produce against you other proofs, which
     will put the matter beyond controversy.

     First, You are not aware, that I have a letter under your
     hand, which is totally irreconcilable with your account,
     and confirms mine.[41]

     Secondly, I told the story the next day, or the day after,
     to Mr Davenport, with a friendly view of preventing any
     such good natured artifices for the future. He surely
     remembers it.

     Thirdly, As I thought the story much to your honour, I
     told it to several of my friends here. I even wrote it to
     Mde. de Boufflers at Paris. I believe no one will imagine,
     that I was preparing beforehand an apology, in case of a
     rupture with you; which, of all human events, I should then
     have thought the most incredible, especially as we were
     separated almost for ever, and I still continued to render
     you the most essential services.

     Fourthly, The story, as I tell it, is consistent and
     rational: there is not common sense in your account. What!
     because sometimes, when absent in thought, I have a fixed
     look or stare, you suspect me to be a traitor, and you
     have the assurance to tell me of such black and ridiculous
     suspicions! Are not most studious men (and many of them
     more than I) subject to such reveries or fits of absence,
     without being exposed to such suspicions? You do not even
     pretend that, before you left London, you had any other
     solid grounds of suspicion against me.

     I shall enter into no detail with regard to your letter:
     the other articles of it are as much without foundation as
     you yourself know this to be. I shall only add, in general,
     that I enjoyed about a month ago an uncommon pleasure, when
     I reflected, that through many difficulties, and by most
     assiduous care and pains, I had, beyond my most sanguine
     expectations, provided for your repose, honour and fortune.
     But I soon felt a very sensible uneasiness when I found
     that you had wantonly and voluntarily thrown away all these
     advantages, and was become the declared enemy of your
     repose, fortune, and honour: I cannot be surprised after
     this that you are my enemy. Adieu, and for ever. I am, Sir,

     D. H.

[41] That of the 22d of March, which is entirely cordial; and proves
that Mr Rousseau had never, till that moment, entertained, or at least
discovered the smallest suspicion against me. There is also in the same
letter, a peevish passage about the hire of a chaise.--Mr HUME.

To all these papers, I need only subjoin the following letter of Mr
Walpole to me, which proves how ignorant and innocent I am of the whole
matter of the King of Prussia's letter.


     _Arlington Street, July_ 26_th_, 1766.

     I cannot be precise as to the time of my writing the King
     of Prussia's letter, but I do assure you, with the utmost
     truth, that it was several days before you left Paris,
     and before Rousseau's arrival there, of which I can give
     you a strong proof; for I not only suppressed the letter
     while you staid there, out of delicacy to you, but it was
     the reason why, out of delicacy to myself, I did not go to
     see him, as you often proposed to me; thinking it wrong to
     go and make a cordial visit to a man, with a letter in my
     pocket to laugh at him. You are at full liberty, dear Sir,
     to make use of what I say in your justification, either
     to Rousseau or any body else. I should be very sorry to
     have you blamed on my account: I have a hearty contempt of
     Rousseau, and am perfectly indifferent what any body thinks
     of the matter. If there is any fault, which I am far from
     thinking, let it lie on me. No parts can hinder my laughing
     at their possessor, if he is a mountebank. If he has a bad
     and most ungrateful heart, as Rousseau has shown in your
     case, into the bargain, he will have my scorn likewise, as
     he will of all good and sensible men. You may trust your
     sentence to such, who are as respectable judges as any that
     have pored over ten thousand more volumes.

     Yours most sincerely,

     H. W.

Thus I have given a narrative, as concise as possible, of this
extraordinary affair, which I am told has very much attracted the
attention of the public, and which contains more unexpected incidents
than any other in which I was ever engaged. The persons to whom I have
shown the original papers which authenticate the whole, have differed
very much in their opinion, as well of the use I ought to make of them
as of Mr Rousseau's present sentiments and state of mind. Some of them
have maintained that he is altogether insincere in his quarrel with
me, and his opinion of my guilt, and that the whole proceeds from that
excessive pride which forms the basis of his character, and which
leads him both to seek the eclat of refusing the King of England's
bounty, and to shake off the intolerable burthen of an obligation to
me, by every sacrifice of honour, truth, and friendship, as well as of
interest. They found their sentiments on the absurdity of that first
supposition on which he grounds his anger, viz. that Mr Walpole's
letter, which he knew had been every where dispersed both in Paris
and London, was given to the press by me; and as this supposition is
contrary to common sense on the one hand, and not supported even by the
pretence of the slightest probability on the other, they conclude, that
it never had any weight even with the person himself who lays hold of
it. They confirm their sentiments by the number of fictions and lies
which he employs to justify his anger; fictions with regard to points
in which it is impossible for him to be mistaken. They also remark his
real cheerfulness and gaiety, amidst the deep melancholy with which
he pretended to be oppressed; not to mention the absurd reasoning
which runs through the whole, and on which it is impossible for any
man to rest his conviction. And though a very important interest is
here abandoned, yet money is not universally the chief object with
mankind: vanity weighs farther with some men, particularly with this
philosopher; and the very ostentation of refusing a pension from the
King of England--an ostentation which, with regard to other Princes,
he has often sought--might be of itself a sufficient motive for his
present conduct.

There are others of my friends who regard this whole affair in a more
compassionate light, and consider Mr Rousseau as an object rather
of pity than of anger. They suppose the same domineering pride and
ingratitude to be the basis of his character; but they are also willing
to believe that his brain has received a sensible shock, and that his
judgment, set afloat, is carried to every side, as it is pushed by the
current of his humours and of his passions. The absurdity of his belief
is no proof of its insincerity. He imagines himself the sole important
being in the universe: he fancies all mankind to be in a combination
against him: his greatest benefactor, as hurting him most, is the chief
object of his animosity: and though he supports all his whimsies by
lies and fictions, this is so frequent a case with wicked men, who are
in that middle state between sober reason and total frenzy, that it
needs give no surprise to any body.

I own that I am much inclined to this latter opinion; though, at
the same time, I question whether, in any period of his life, Mr
Rousseau was ever more in his senses than he is at present. The former
brilliancy of his genius, and his great talents for writing, are no
proof of the contrary. It is an old remark, that great wits are near
allied to madness; and even in those frantic letters which he has wrote
to me, there are evidently strong traces of his wonted genius and
eloquence. He has frequently told me that he was composing his memoirs,
in which justice should be done to his own character, to that of his
friends, and to that of his enemies; and as Mr Davenport informs me,
that, since his retreat into the country, he has been much employed in
writing, I have reason to conclude that he is at present finishing that
undertaking. Nothing could be more unexpected to me than my passing
so suddenly from the class of his friend to that of his enemies; but
this transition being made, I must expect to be treated accordingly;
and I own that this reflection gave me some anxiety.[42] A work of
this nature, both from the celebrity of the person, and the strokes
of eloquence interspersed, would certainly attract the attention of
the world; and it might be published either after my death, or after
that of the author. In the former case, there would be nobody who
could tell the story, or justify my memory. In the latter, my apology,
wrote in opposition to a dead person, would lose a great deal of its
authenticity. For this reason, I have at present collected the whole
story into one Narrative, that I may show it to my friends, and at any
time have it in my power to make whatever use of it they and I should
think proper. I am, and always have been, such a lover of peace, that
nothing but necessity, or very forcible reasons, could have obliged me
to give it to the public.

_'Perdidi beneficium. Numquid quæ consecravimus perdidisse nos dicimus?
Inter consecrata beneficium est; etiam si male respondit, bene
collatum. Non est ille qualem speravimus; simus nos quales fuimus, ei

                          SENECA DE BENEFICIIS, LIB. VII. CAP. 29.

[42] In his letter of the 22d of March, he flatters me indirectly with
the figure I am to make in his Memoirs. In that of the 23d of June, he
threatens me. These are proofs how much he is in earnest.


(_Addressed to the French Editors_.)

It is with the greatest surprise I learn, from Mr Hume, that Mr
Rousseau accuses me of being the author of the ironical letter
addressed to him, in the public papers, under the name of the King of
Prussia. Every body knows, both at Paris and London, that such letter
was written by Mr Walpole; nor does he disown it. He acknowledges only
that he was a little assisted, in regard to the style, by a person he
does not name, and whom perhaps he ought to name. As to my part, on
whom the public suspicions have fallen in this affair, I am not at
all acquainted with Mr Walpole. I don't even believe I ever spoke to
him; having only happened to meet once occasionally on a visit. I have
not only had not the least to do, either directly or indirectly, with
the letter in question, but could mention above a hundred persons,
among the friends as well as enemies of Mr Rousseau, who have heard me
greatly disapprove of it; because, as I said, we ought not to ridicule
the unfortunate, especially when they do us no harm. Besides, my
respect for the King of Prussia, and the acknowledgments I owe him,
might, I should have thought, have persuaded Mr Rousseau that I should
not have taken such a liberty with the name of that Prince, though in

To this I shall add, that I never was an enemy to Mr Rousseau, either
open or secret, as he pretends; and I defy him to produce the least
proof of my having endeavoured to injure him in any shape whatever. I
can prove to the contrary, by the most respectable witnesses, that I
have always endeavoured to oblige him, whenever it lay in my power.

As to my pretended _secret correspondence_ with Mr Hume, it is very
certain that we did not begin to write to each other till about five
or six months after his departure, on occasion of the quarrel arisen
between him and Mr Rousseau, and into which the latter thought proper
unnecessarily to introduce me.

I thought this declaration necessary for my own sake, as well as for
the sake of truth, and in regard to the situation of Mr Rousseau. I
sincerely lament his having so little confidence in the probity of
mankind, and particularly in that of Mr Hume.



_Will_, in the first person, as _I will walk_, _we will walk_,
expresses the intention or resolution of the person, along with the
future event: In the second and third person, as, _you will_, _he
will_, _they will_, it expresses the future action or event, without
comprehending or excluding the volition.

_Shall_, in the first person, whether singular or plural, expresses
the future action or event, without excluding or comprehending the
intention or resolution: But in the _second_ or _third_ person, it
marks a necessity, and commonly a necessity proceeding from the person
who speaks; as, _he shall walk_, _you shall repent it_.

These variations seem to have proceeded from a politeness in the
_English_, who, in speaking to others, or of others, made use of the
term _will_, which implies volition, even where the event may be the
subject of necessity and constraint. And in speaking of themselves,
made use of the term _shall_, which implies constraint, even though the
event may be the object of choice.

_Wou'd_ and _shou'd_ are conjunctive moods, subject to the same rule;
only, we may observe, that in a sentence, where there is a condition
exprest, and a consequence of that condition, the former always
requires _shou'd_, and the latter _wou'd_, in the second and third
persons; as, _if he shou'd fall, he wou'd break his leg_, &c.

_These_ is the plural of _this_; _those of that_. The former,
therefore, expresses what is near: the latter, what is more remote. As,
in these lines of the Duke of Buckingham,

     "Philosophers and poets vainly strove,
      In every age, the lumpish mass to move.
      But THOSE were pedants if compared with THESE,
      Who knew not only to instruct, but please."

Where a relative is to follow, and the subject has not been mentioned
immediately before, _those_ is always required. _Those observations
which he made_. _Those kingdoms which Alexander conquered_.

In the verbs, which end in _t_, or _te_, we frequently omit _ed_ in
the preterperfect and in the participle; as, _he operate_, _it was
cultivate_. _Milton_ says, _in thought more elevate_; but he is the
only author who uses that expression.

_Notice_ shou'd not be used as a verb. The proper phrase is _take
notice_. Yet I find Lord Shaftesbury uses _notic'd_, the participle:
And _unnotic'd_ is very common.

_Hinder to do_, is _Scotch_. The _English_ phrase is, _hinder from
doing_. Yet _Milton_ says, _Hindered not Satan to pervert the mind_.
Book IX.

        SCOTCH.                                  ENGLISH.

    Conform to                               Conformable to
    Friends and acquaintances                Friends and Acquitance
    Maltreat                                 Abuse
    Advert to                                Attend to
    Proven, improven, approven               Prov'd, improv'd, approv'd
    Pled                                     Pleaded
    Incarcerate                              Imprison
    Tear to pieces                           Tear in pieces
    Drunk, run                               Drank, ran
    Fresh weather                            Open weather
    Tender                                   Sickly
    In the long run                          At long run
    Notwithstanding of that                  Notwithstanding that
    Contented himself to do                  Contented himself with doing
    'Tis a question if                       'Tis a question whether
    Discretion                               Civility
    With child to a man                      With child by a man
    Out of hand                              Presently
    Simply impossible                        Absolutely impossible
    A park                                   An enclosure
    In time coming                           In time to come
    Nothing else                             No other thing
    Mind it                                  Remember it
    Denuded                                  Divested
    Severals                                 Several
    Some better                              Something better
    Anent                                    With regard to
    Allenarly                                Solely
    Alongst. Yet the _English_
    say both amid, amidst, among,            Along
    and amongst
    Evenly                                   Even
    As I shall answer                        I protest or declare
    Cause him do it. Yet 'tis
    good _English_ to say, make         Cause him to do it
    him do it
    Marry upon                               Marry to
    Learn                                    Teach
    There, where                             Thither, whither
    Effectuate. This word in _English_  Effect
    means to effect with
    pains and difficulty.
    A wright. Yet 'tis good _English_   A Carpenter
    to say, a wheelwright
    Defunct                                  Deceast
    Evite                                    Avoid
    Part with child                          Miscarry
    Notour                                   Notorious
    To want it                               To be without a thing, even
                                               though it be not desirable
    To be difficulted                        To be puzzled
    Rebuted                                  Discouraged by repulses
    For ordinary                             Usually
    Think shame                              Asham'd
    In favours of                            In favour of
    Dubiety                                  Doubtfulness
    Prejudge                                 Hurt
    Compete                                  Enter into competition
    Heritable                                Hereditary
    To remeed                                To remedy
    Bankier                                  Banker
    Adduce a proof                           Produce a proof
    Superplus                                Surplus
    Forfaulture                              Forfeiture
    In no event                              In no case
    Common soldiers                          Private men
    Big with a man                           Great with a man
    Bygone                                   Past
    Debitor                                  Debtor
    Exeemed                                  Exempted
    Yesternight                              Last night
    Big coat                                 Great coat
    A chimney                                A grate
    Annualrent                               Interest
    Tenible argument                         Good argument
    Amissing                                 Missing
    To condescend upon                       To specify
    To discharge                             To forbid
    To extinguish an obligation              To cancel an obligation
    To depone                                To depose
    A compliment                             A present
    To inquire at a man                      To inquire of a man
    To be angry at a man                     To be angry with a man
    To send an errand                        To send off an errand
    To furnish goods to him                  To furnish him with goods
    To open up                               To open, or lay open
    _Thucydide, Herodot, Sueton,_       _Thucydides, Herodotus, Suetonius_
    Butter and bread                         Bread and Butter
    Pepper and vinegar                       Vinegar and pepper
    Paper, pen and ink                       Pen, ink and paper
    Readily                                  Probably
    On a sudden                              Of a sudden
    As ever I saw                            As I ever saw
    For my share                             For my part
    Misgive                                  Fail
    Rather chuse to buy as sell              Rather chuse to buy than sell
    Deduce                                   Deduct
    Look't over the window                   Look't out at the window
    A pretty enough girl                     A pretty girl enough
    'Tis a week since he left this           'Tis a week since he left this
    Come in to the fire                      Come near the fire
    To take off a new coat                   To make up a new suit
    Alwise                                   Always
    Cut out his hair                         Cut off his hair
    Cry him                                  Call him
    To crave                                 To dun, to ask payment
    To get a stomach                         To get an appetite
    Vacance                                  Vacation












_My design in the present Work is sufficiently explained in the
Introduction. The reader must only observe, that all the subjects I
have there planned out to myself are not treated in these two volumes.
The subjects of the Understanding and Passions make a complete chain
of reasoning by themselves; and I was willing to take advantage of
this natural division, in order to try the taste of the Public. If I
have the good fortune to meet with success, I shall proceed to the
examination of Morals, Politics, and Criticism, which will complete
this Treatise of Human Nature. The approbation of the Public I consider
as the greatest reward of my labours; but am determined to regard its
judgment, whatever it be, as my best instruction._


Nothing is more usual and more natural for those, who pretend to
discover any thing new to the world in philosophy and the sciences,
than to insinuate the praises of their own systems, by decrying all
those which have been advanced before them. And indeed were they
content with lamenting that ignorance, which we still lie under in the
most important questions that can come before the tribunal of human
reason, there are few, who have an acquaintance with the sciences, that
would not readily agree with them. 'Tis easy for one of judgment and
learning, to perceive the weak foundation even of those systems, which
have obtained the greatest credit, and have carried their pretensions
highest to accurate and profound reasoning. Principles taken upon
trust, consequences lamely deduced from them, want of coherence in the
parts, and of evidence in the whole, these are every where to be met
with in the systems of the most eminent philosophers, and seem to have
drawn disgrace upon philosophy itself.

Nor is there required such profound knowledge to discover the present
imperfect condition of the sciences, but even the rabble without doors
may judge from the noise and clamour which they hear, that all goes
not well within. There is nothing which is not the subject of debate,
and in which men of learning are not of contrary opinions. The most
trivial question escapes not our controversy, and in the most momentous
we are not able to give any certain decision. Disputes are multiplied,
as if every thing was uncertain. Amidst all this bustle, 'tis not
reason which carries the prize, but eloquence; and no man needs ever
despair of gaining proselytes to the most extravagant hypothesis, who
has art enough to represent it in any favourable colours. The victory
is not gained by the men at arms, who manage the pike and the sword,
but by the trumpeters, drummers, and musicians of the army.

From hence, in my opinion, arises that common prejudice against
metaphysical reasonings of all kinds, even amongst those who profess
themselves scholars, and have a just value for every other part of
literature. By metaphysical reasonings, they do not understand those
on any particular branch of science, but every kind of argument which
is any way abstruse, and requires some attention to be comprehended.
We have so often lost our labour in such researches, that we commonly
reject them without hesitation, and resolve, if we must for ever be
a prey to errors and delusions, that they shall at least be natural
and entertaining. And, indeed, nothing but the most determined
scepticism, along with a great degree of indolence, can justify this
aversion to metaphysics. For, if truth be at all within the reach
of human capacity, 'tis certain it must lie very deep and abstruse;
and to hope we shall arrive at it without pains, while the greatest
geniuses have failed with the utmost pains, must certainly be esteemed
sufficiently vain and presumptuous. I pretend to no such advantage
in the philosophy I am going to unfold, and would esteem it a strong
presumption against it, were it so very easy and obvious.

'Tis evident, that all the sciences have a relation, greater or less,
to human nature; and that, however wide any of them may seem to run
from it, they still return back by one passage or another; Even
_Mathematics_, _Natural Philosophy_, and _Natural Religion_, are in
some measure dependant on the science of MAN; since they lie under the
cognizance of men, and are judged of by their powers and faculties.
'Tis impossible to tell what changes and improvements we; might make in
these sciences were we thoroughly acquainted with the extent and force
of human understanding, and could explain the nature of the ideas we
employ, and of the operations we perform in our reasonings. And these
improvements are the more to be hoped for in natural religion, as it
is not content with instructing us in the nature of superior powers,
but carries its views farther, to their disposition towards us, and our
duties towards them; and consequently, we ourselves are not only the
beings that reason, but also one of the objects concerning which we

If, therefore, the sciences of mathematics, natural philosophy, and
natural religion, have such a dependence on the knowledge of man, what
may be expected in the other sciences, whose connexion with human
nature is more close and intimate? The sole end of logic is to explain
the principles and operations of our reasoning faculty, and the nature
of our ideas; morals and criticism regard our tastes and sentiments;
and politics consider men as united in society, and dependent on each
other. In these four sciences of _Logic_, _Morals_, _Criticism_, and
_Politics_, is comprehended almost every thing which it can any way
import us to be acquainted with, or which can tend either to the
improvement or ornament of the human mind.

Here then is the only expedient, from which we can hope for success in
our philosophical researches, to leave the tedious lingering method,
which we have hitherto followed, and, instead of taking now and then a
castle or village on the frontier, to march up directly to the capital
or centre of these sciences, to human nature itself; which being once
masters of, we may every where else hope for an easy victory. From this
station we may extend our conquests over all those sciences, which more
intimately concern human life, and may afterwards proceed at leisure,
to discover more fully those which are the objects of pure curiosity.
There is no question of importance, whose decision is not comprised
in the science of man; and there is none, which can be decided with
any certainty, before we become acquainted with that science. In
pretending, therefore, to explain the principles of human nature, we in
effect propose a complete system of the sciences, built on a foundation
almost entirely new, and the only one upon which they can stand with
any security.

And, as the science of man is the only solid foundation for the other
sciences, so, the only solid foundation we can give to this science
itself must be laid on experience and observation. 'Tis no astonishing
reflection to consider, that the application of experimental philosophy
to moral subjects should come after that to natural, at the distance
of above a whole century; since we find in fact, that there was about
the same interval betwixt the origins of these sciences; and that,
reckoning from Thales to Socrates, the space of time is nearly equal to
that betwixt my Lord Bacon and some late philosophers[1] in England,
who have begun to put the science of man on a new footing, and have
engaged the attention, and excited the curiosity of the public. So true
it is, that however other nations may rival us in poetry, and excel us
in some other agreeable arts, the improvements in reason and philosophy
can only be owing to a land of toleration and of liberty.

Nor ought we to think, that this latter improvement in the science
of man will do less honour to our native country than the former in
natural philosophy, but ought rather to esteem it a greater glory,
upon account of the greater importance of that science, as well as
the necessity it lay under of such a reformation. For to me it seems
evident, that the essence of the mind being equally unknown to us with
that of external bodies, it must be equally impossible to form any
notion of its powers and qualities otherwise than from careful and
exact experiments, and the observation of those particular effects,
which result from its different circumstances and situations. And
though we must endeavour to render all our principles as universal as
possible, by tracing up our experiments to the utmost, and explaining
all effects from the simplest and fewest causes, 'tis still certain
we cannot go beyond experience; and any hypothesis, that pretends to
discover the ultimate original qualities of human nature, ought at
first to be rejected as presumptuous and chimerical.

I do not think a philosopher, who would apply himself so earnestly to
the explaining the ultimate principles of the soul, would show himself
a great master in that very science of human nature, which he pretends
to explain, or very knowing in what is naturally satisfactory to the
mind of man. For nothing is more certain, than that despair has almost
the same effect upon us with enjoyment, and that we are no sooner
acquainted with the impossibility of satisfying any desire, than the
desire itself vanishes. When we see, that we have arrived at the utmost
extent of human reason, we sit down contented; though we be perfectly
satisfied in the main of our ignorance, and perceive that we can give
no reason for our most general and most refined principles, beside our
experience of their reality; which is the reason of the mere vulgar,
and what it required no study at first to have discovered for the most
particular and most extraordinary phenomenon. And as this impossibility
of making any farther progress is enough to satisfy the reader, so
the writer may derive a more delicate satisfaction from the free
confession of his ignorance, and from his prudence in avoiding that
error, into which so many have fallen, of imposing their conjectures
and hypotheses on the world for the most certain principles. When this
mutual contentment and satisfaction can be obtained betwixt the master
and scholar, I know not what more we can require of our philosophy.

But if this impossibility of explaining ultimate principles should be
esteemed a defect in the science of man, I will venture to affirm,
that it is a defect common to it with all the sciences, and all the
arts, in which we can employ ourselves, whether they be such as are
cultivated in the schools of the philosophers, or practised in the
shops of the meanest artisans. None of them can go beyond experience,
or establish any principles which are not founded on that authority.
Moral philosophy has, indeed, this peculiar disadvantage, which is
not found in natural, that in collecting its experiments, it cannot
make them purposely, with premeditation, and after such a manner as to
satisfy itself concerning every particular difficulty which may arise.
When I am at a loss to know the effects of one body upon another in
any situation, I need only put them in that situation, and observe
what results from it. But should I endeavour to clear up after the
same manner any doubt in moral philosophy, by placing myself in the
same case with that which I consider, 'tis evident this reflection and
premeditation would so disturb the operation of my natural principles,
as must render it impossible to form any just conclusion from the
phenomenon. We must, therefore, glean up our experiments in this
science from a cautious observation of human life, and take them as
they appear in the common course of the world, by men's behaviour in
company, in affairs, and in their pleasures. Where experiments of this
kind are judiciously collected and compared, we may hope to establish
on them a science which will not be inferior in certainty, and will be
much superior in utility, to any other of human comprehension.

[1] Mr Locke, my Lord Shaftsbury, Dr Mandeville, Mr Hutchinson, Dr
Butler, &c.








All the perceptions of the human mind resolve themselves into two
distinct kinds, which I shall call _impressions_ and _ideas_. The
difference betwixt these consists in the degrees of force and
liveliness, with which they strike upon the mind, and make their way
into our thought or consciousness. Those perceptions which enter with
most force and violence, we may name _impressions_; and, under this
name, I comprehend all our sensations, passions, and emotions, as they
make their first appearance in the soul. By _ideas_, I mean the faint
images of these in thinking and reasoning; such as, for instance, are
all the perceptions excited by the present discourse, excepting only
those which arise from the sight and touch, and excepting the immediate
pleasure or uneasiness it may occasion. I believe it will not be very
necessary to employ many Words, in explaining this distinction. Every
one of himself will readily perceive the difference betwixt feeling
and thinking. The common degrees of these are easily distinguished;
though it is not impossible but, in particular instances, they may very
nearly approach to each other. Thus, in sleep, in a fever, in madness,
or in any very violent emotions of soul, our ideas may approach to
our impressions: as, on the other hand, it sometimes happens, that
our impressions are so faint and low, that we cannot distinguish them
from our ideas. But, notwithstanding this near resemblance in a few
instances, they are in general so very different, that no one can make
a scruple to rank them under distinct heads, and assign to each a
peculiar name to mark the difference.[1]

There is another division of our perceptions, which it will be
convenient to observe, and which extends itself both to our impressions
and ideas. This division is into _simple_ and _complex_. Simple
perceptions, or impressions and ideas, are such as admit of no
distinction nor separation. The complex are the contrary to these, and
may be distinguished into parts. Though a particular colour, taste and
smell, are qualities all united together in this apple, 'tis easy to
perceive they are not the same, but are at least distinguishable from
each other.

Having, by these divisions, given an order and arrangement to our
objects, we may now apply ourselves to consider, with the more
accuracy, their qualities and relations. The first circumstance that
strikes my eye, is the great resemblance betwixt our impressions and
ideas in every other particular, except their degree of force and
vivacity. The one seem to be, in a manner, the reflection of the other;
so that all the perceptions of the mind are double, and appear both as
impressions and ideas. When I shut my eyes, and think of my chamber,
the ideas I form are exact representations of the impressions I felt;
nor is there any circumstance of the one, which is not to be found in
the other. In running over my other perceptions, I find still the same
resemblance and representation. Ideas and impressions appear always to
correspond to each other. This circumstance seems to me remarkable, and
engages my attention for a moment.

Upon a more accurate survey I find I have been carried away too far
by the first appearance, and that I must make use of the distinction
of perceptions into _simple_ and _complex_, to limit this general
decision, _that all our ideas and impressions are resembling_. I
observe that many of our complex ideas never had impressions that
corresponded to them, and that many of our complex impressions never
are exactly copied in ideas. I can imagine to myself such a city as the
New Jerusalem, whose pavement is gold, and walls are rubies, though I
never saw any such. I have seen Paris; but shall I affirm I can form
such an idea of that city, as will perfectly represent all its streets
and houses in their real and just proportions?

I perceive, therefore, that though there is, in general, a great
resemblance betwixt our _complex_ impressions and ideas, yet the rule
is not universally true, that they are exact copies of each other. We
may next consider, how the case stands with our _simple_ perceptions.
After the most accurate examination of which I am capable, I venture to
affirm, that the rule here holds without any exception, and that every
simple idea has a simple impression, which resembles it, and every
simple impression a correspondent idea. That idea of red, which we form
in the dark, and that impression, which strikes our eyes in sunshine,
differ only in degree, not in nature. That the case is the same with
all our simple impressions and ideas, 'tis impossible to prove by a
particular enumeration of them. Every one may satisfy himself in this
point by running over as many as he pleases. But if any one should deny
this universal resemblance, I know no way of convincing him, but by
desiring him to show a simple impression that has not a correspondent
idea, or a simple idea that has not a correspondent impression. If he
does not answer this challenge, as 'tis certain he cannot, we may, from
his silence and our own observation, establish our conclusion.

Thus we find, that all simple ideas and impressions resemble each
other; and, as the complex are formed from them, we may affirm
in general, that these two species of perception are exactly
correspondent. Having discovered this relation, which requires
no farther examination, I am curious to find some other of their
qualities. Let us consider, how they stand with regard to their
existence, and which of the impressions and ideas are causes, and which

The full examination of this question is the subject of the present
treatise; and, therefore, we shall here content ourselves with
establishing one general proposition, _That all our simple ideas in
their first appearance, are derived from simple impressions, which are
correspondent to them, and which they exactly represent_.

In seeking for phenomena to prove this proposition, I find only those
of two kinds; but, in each kind the phenomena are obvious, numerous,
and conclusive. I first make myself certain, by a new review, of what
I have already asserted, that every simple impression is attended
with a correspondent idea, and every simple idea with a correspondent
impression. From this constant conjunction of resembling perceptions
I immediately conclude, that there is a great connexion betwixt
our correspondent impressions and ideas, and that the existence of
the one has a considerable influence upon that of the other. Such
a constant conjunction, in such an infinite number of instances,
can never arise from chance; but clearly proves a dependence of the
impressions on the ideas, or of the ideas on the impressions. That I
may know on which side this dependence lies, I consider the order of
their _first appearance_; and find, by constant experience, that the
simple impressions always take the precedence of their correspondent
ideas, but never appear in the contrary order. To give a child an
idea of scarlet or orange, of sweet or bitter, I present the objects,
or, in other words, convey to him these impressions; but proceed not
so absurdly, as to endeavour to produce the impressions by exciting
the ideas. Our ideas, upon their appearance, produce not their
correspondent impressions, nor do we perceive any colour, or feel any
sensation merely upon thinking of them. On the other hand we find, that
any impression, either of the mind or body, is constantly followed
by an idea, which resembles it, and is only different in the degrees
of force and liveliness. The constant conjunction of our resembling
perceptions, is a convincing proof, that the one are the causes of
the other; and this priority of the impressions is an equal proof,
that our impressions are the causes of our ideas, not our ideas of our

To confirm this, I consider another plain and convincing phenomenon;
which is, that wherever, by any accident, the faculties which give
rise to any impressions are obstructed in their operations, as when
one is born blind or deaf, not only the impressions are lost, but also
their correspondent ideas; so that there never appear in the mind the
least traces of either of them. Nor is this only true, where the organs
of sensation are entirely destroyed, but likewise where they have never
been put in action to produce a particular impression. We cannot form
to ourselves a just idea of the taste of a pine-apple, without having
actually tasted it.

There is, however, one contradictory phenomenon, which may prove,
that 'tis not absolutely impossible for ideas to go before their
correspondent impressions. I believe it will readily be allowed,
that the several distinct ideas of colours, which enter by the eyes,
or those of sounds, which are conveyed by the hearing, are really
different from each other, though, at the same time, resembling. Now,
if this be true of different colours, it must be no less so of the
different shades of the same colour, that each of them produces a
distinct idea, independent of the rest. For if this should be denied,
'tis possible, by the continual gradation of shades, to run a colour
insensibly into what is most remote from it; and, if you will not
allow any of the means to be different, you cannot, without absurdity,
deny the extremes to be the same. Suppose, therefore, a person to have
enjoyed his sight for thirty years, and to have become perfectly well
acquainted with colours of all kinds, excepting one particular shade of
blue, for instance, which it never has been his fortune to meet with.
Let all the different shades of that colour, except that single one,
be placed before him, descending gradually from the deepest to the
lightest; 'tis plain, that he will perceive a blank, where that shade
is wanting, and will be sensible that there is a greater distance in
that place, betwixt the contiguous colours, than in any other. Now I
ask, whether 'tis possible for him, from his own imagination, to supply
this deficiency, and raise up to himself the idea of that particular
shade, though it had never been conveyed to him by his senses? I
believe there are few but will be of opinion that he can; and this may
serve as a proof, that the simple ideas are not always derived from
the correspondent impressions; though the instance is so particular
and singular, that 'tis scarce worth our observing, and does not merit
that, for it alone, we should alter our general maxim.

But, besides this exception, it may not be amiss to remark, on this
head, that the principle of the priority of impressions to ideas, must
be understood with another limitation, viz. that as our ideas are
images of our impressions, so we can form secondary ideas, which are
images of the primary, as appears from this very reasoning concerning
them. This is not, properly speaking, an exception to the rule so
much as an explanation of it. Ideas produce the images of themselves
in new ideas; but as the first ideas are supposed to be derived from
impressions, it still remains true, that all our simple ideas proceed,
either mediately or immediately, from their correspondent impressions.

This, then, is the first principle I establish in the science of human
nature; nor ought we to despise it because of the simplicity of its
appearance. For 'tis remarkable, that the present question concerning
the precedency of our impressions or ideas, is the same with what has
made so much noise in other terms, when it has been disputed whether
there be any _innate ideas_, or whether all ideas be derived from
sensation and reflection. We may observe, that in order to prove
the ideas of extension and colour not to be innate, philosophers do
nothing but show, that they are conveyed by our senses. To prove the
ideas of passion and desire not to be innate, they observe, that we
have a preceding experience of these emotions in ourselves. Now, if
we carefully examine these arguments, we shall find that they prove
nothing but that ideas are preceded by other more lively perceptions,
from which they are derived, and which they represent. I hope this
clear stating of the question will remove all disputes concerning it,
and will render this principle of more use in our reasonings, than it
seems hitherto to have been.

[1] I here make use of these terms, _impression_ and _idea_, in a sense
different from what is usual, and I hope this liberty will be allowed
me. Perhaps I rather restore the word idea to its original sense,
from which Mr Locke had perverted it, in making it stand for all our
perceptions. By the term of impression, I would not be understood to
express the manner in which our lively perceptions are produced in the
soul, but merely the perceptions themselves; for which there is no
particular name, either in the English or any other language that I
know of.



Since it appears, that our simple impressions are prior to their
correspondent ideas, and that the exceptions are very rare, method
seems to require we should examine our impressions before we consider
our ideas. Impressions may be divided into two kinds, those of
_sensation_, and those of _reflection_. The first kind arises in the
soul originally, from unknown causes. The second is derived, in a
great measure, from our ideas, and that in the following order. An
impression first strikes upon the senses, and makes us perceive heat
or cold, thirst or hunger, pleasure or pain, of some kind or other. Of
this impression there is a copy taken by the mind, which remains after
the impression ceases; and this we call an idea. This idea of pleasure
or pain, when it returns upon the soul, produces the new impressions
of desire and aversion, hope and fear, which may properly be called
impressions of reflection, because derived from it. These again are
copied by the memory and imagination, and become ideas; which, perhaps,
in their turn, give rise to other impressions and ideas: so that the
impressions of reflection are only antecedent to their correspondent
ideas, but posterior to those of sensation, and derived from them. The
examination of our sensations belongs more to anatomists and natural
philosophers than to moral; and, therefore, shall not at present be
entered upon. And, as the impressions of reflection, viz. passions,
desires, and emotions, which principally deserve our attention, arise
mostly from ideas, 'twill be necessary to reverse that method, which
at first sight seems most natural; and, in order to explain the nature
and principles of the human mind, give a particular account of ideas,
before we proceed to impressions. For this reason, I have here chosen
to begin with ideas.



We find, by experience, that when any impression has been present with
the mind, it again makes its appearance there as an idea; and this it
may do after two different ways: either when, in its new appearance,
it retains a considerable degree of its first vivacity, and is somewhat
intermediate betwixt an impression and an idea; or when it entirely
loses that vivacity, and is a perfect idea. The faculty by which we
repeat our impressions in the first manner, is called the _memory_, and
the other the _imagination_. 'Tis evident, at first sight, that the
ideas of the memory are much more lively and strong than those of the
imagination, and that the former faculty paints its objects in more
distinct colours, than any which are employed by the latter. When we
remember any past event, the idea of it flows in upon the mind in a
forcible manner; whereas, in the imagination, the perception is faint
and languid, and cannot, without difficulty, be preserved by the mind
steady and uniform for any considerable time. Here, then, is a sensible
difference betwixt one species of ideas and another. But of this more
fully hereafter.[2]

There is another difference betwixt these two kinds of ideas, which is
no less evident, namely, that though neither the ideas of the memory
nor imagination, neither the lively nor faint ideas, can make their
appearance in the mind, unless their correspondent impressions have
gone before to prepare the way for them, yet the imagination is not
restrained to the same order and form with the original impressions;
while the memory is in a manner tied down in that respect, without any
power of variation.

'Tis evident, that the memory preserves the original form, in which
its objects were presented, and that wherever we depart from it in
recollecting any thing, it proceeds from some defect or imperfection
in that faculty. An historian may, perhaps, for the more convenient
carrying on of his narration, relate an event before another to which
it was in fact posterior; but then, he takes notice of this disorder,
if he be exact; and, by that means, replaces the idea in its due
position. 'Tis the same case in our recollection of those places and
persons, with which we were formerly acquainted. The chief exercise of
the memory is not to preserve the simple ideas, but their order and
position. In short, this principle is supported by such a number of
common and vulgar phenomena, that we may spare ourselves the trouble of
insisting on it any farther.

The same evidence follows us in our second principle, _of the liberty
of the imagination to transpose and change its ideas_. The fables we
meet with in poems and romances put this entirely out of question.
Nature there is totally confounded, and nothing mentioned but winged
horses, fiery dragons, and monstrous giants. Nor will this liberty of
the fancy appear strange, when we consider, that all our ideas are
copied from our impressions, and that there are not any two impressions
which are perfectly inseparable. Not to mention, that this is an
evident consequence of the division of ideas into simple and complex.
Wherever the imagination perceives a difference among ideas, it can
easily produce a separation.

[2] Part III. Sect. 5.



As all simple ideas may be separated by the imagination, and may
be united again in what form it pleases, nothing would be more
unaccountable than the operations of that faculty, were it not guided
by some universal principles, which render it, in some measure, uniform
with itself in all times and places. Were ideas entirely loose and
unconnected, chance alone would join them; and 'tis impossible the same
simple ideas should fall regularly into complex ones (as they commonly
do), without some bond of union among them, some associating quality,
by which one idea naturally introduces another. This uniting principle
among ideas is not to be considered as an inseparable connexion; for
that has been already excluded from the imagination: nor yet are we to
conclude, that without it the mind cannot join two ideas; for nothing
is more free than that faculty: but we are only to regard it as a
gentle force, which commonly prevails, and is the cause why, among
other things, languages so nearly correspond to each other; Nature,
in a manner, pointing out to every one those simple ideas, which are
most proper to be united into a complex one. The qualities, from which
this association arises, and by which the mind is, after this manner,
conveyed from one idea to another, are three, viz. _resemblance,
contiguity_ in time or place, and _cause_ and _effect_.

I believe it will not be very necessary to prove, that these qualities
produce an association among ideas, and, upon the appearance of one
idea, naturally introduce another. 'Tis plain, that, in the course
of our thinking, and in the constant revolution of our ideas, our
imagination runs easily from one idea to any other that _resembles_
it, and that this quality alone is to the fancy a sufficient bond and
association. 'Tis likewise evident, that as the senses, in changing
their objects, are necessitated to change them regularly, and take them
as they lie _contiguous_ to each other, the imagination must, by long
custom, acquire the same method of thinking, and run along the parts
of space and time in conceiving its objects. As to the connexion that
is made by the relation of _cause and effect_, we shall have occasion
afterwards to examine it to the bottom, and therefore shall not at
present insist upon it. 'Tis sufficient to observe, that there is no
relation, which produces a stronger connexion in the fancy, and makes
one idea more readily recal another, than the relation of cause and
effect betwixt their objects.

That we may understand the full extent of these relations, we must
consider, that two objects are connected together in the imagination,
not only when the one is immediately resembling, contiguous to, or the
cause of the other, but also when there is interposed betwixt them a
third object, which bears to both of them any of these relations. This
may be carried on to a great length; though, at the same time we may
observe, that each remove considerably weakens the relation. Cousins
in the fourth degree are connected by _causation_, if I may be allowed
to use that term; but not so closely as brothers, much less as child
and parent. In general, we may observe, that all the relations of
blood depend upon cause and effect, and are esteemed near or remote,
according to the number of connecting causes interposed betwixt the

Of the three relations above mentioned this of causation is the most
extensive. Two objects may be considered as placed in this relation,
as well when one is the cause of any of the actions or motions of
the other, as when the former is the cause of the existence of the
latter. For as that action or motion is nothing but the object
itself, considered in a certain light, and as the object continues
the same in all its different situations, 'tis easy to imagine how
such an influence of objects upon one another may connect them in the

We may carry this farther, and remark, not only that two objects are
connected by the relation of cause and effect, when the one produces
a motion or any action in the other, but also when it has a power of
producing it. And this we may observe to be the source of all the
relations of interest and duty, by which men influence each other in
society, and are placed in the ties of government and subordination.
A master is such a one as, by his situation, arising either from
force or agreement, has a power of directing in certain particulars
the actions of another, whom we call servant. A judge is one, who, in
all disputed cases, can fix by his opinion the possession or property
of any thing betwixt any members of the society. When a person is
possessed of any power, there is no more required to convert it into
action, but the exertion of the will; and _that_ in every case is
considered as possible, and in many as probable; especially in the case
of authority, where the obedience of the subject is a pleasure and
advantage to the superior.

These are, therefore, the principles of union or cohesion among
our simple ideas, and in the imagination supply the place of that
inseparable connexion, by which they are united in our memory. Here
is a kind of _attraction_, which in the mental world will be found to
have as extraordinary effects as in the natural, and to show itself in
as many and as various forms. Its effects are every where conspicuous;
but, as to its causes, they are mostly unknown, and must be resolved
into _original_ qualities of human nature, which I pretend not to
explain. Nothing is more requisite for a true philosopher, than to
restrain the intemperate desire of searching into causes; and, having
established any doctrine upon a sufficient number of experiments, rest
contented with that, when he sees a farther examination would lead him
into obscure and uncertain speculations. In that case his inquiry would
be much better employed in examining the effects than the causes of his

Amongst the effects of this union or association of ideas, there are
none more remarkable than those complex ideas, which are the common
subjects of our thoughts and reasoning, and generally arise from some
principle of union among our simple ideas. These complex ideas may be
divided into _relations, modes,_ and _substances_. We shall briefly
examine each of these in order, and shall subjoin some considerations
concerning our _general_ and _particular_ ideas, before we leave the
present subject, which may be considered as the elements of this



The word _relation_ is commonly used in two senses considerably
different from each other. Either for that quality, by which two ideas
are connected together in the imagination, and the one naturally
introduces the other, after the manner above explained; or for that
particular circumstance, in which, even upon the arbitrary union of
two ideas in the fancy, we may think proper to compare them. In common
language, the former is always the sense in which we use the word
relation; and 'tis only in philosophy that we extend it to mean any
particular subject of comparison, without a connecting principle. Thus,
distance will be allowed by philosophers to be a true relation, because
we acquire an idea of it by the comparing of objects: but in a common
way we say, _that nothing can be more distant than such or such things
from each other, nothing can have less relation_; as if distance and
relation were incompatible.

It may, perhaps, be esteemed an endless task to enumerate all those
qualities, which make objects admit of comparison, and by which the
ideas of _philosophical_ relation are produced. But if we diligently
consider them we shall find, that without difficulty they may be
comprised under seven general heads, which may be considered as the
sources of all philosophical relation.

1. The first is _resemblance_: and this is a relation, without which
no philosophical relation can exist, since no objects will admit of
comparison, but what have some degree of resemblance. But though
resemblance be necessary to all philosophical relation, it does not
follow that it always produces a connexion or association of ideas.
When a quality becomes very general, and is common to a great many
individuals, it leads not the mind directly to any one of them; but,
by presenting at once too great a choice, does thereby prevent the
imagination from fixing on any single object.

2. _Identity_ may be esteemed a second species of relation. This
relation I here consider as applied in its strictest sense to constant
and unchangeable objects; without examining the nature and foundation
of personal identity, which shall find its place afterwards. Of all
relations the most universal is that of identity, being common to every
being, whose existence has any duration.

3. After identity the most universal and comprehensive relations are
those of _space_ and _time_, which are the sources of an infinite
number of comparisons, such as _distant, contiguous, above, below,
before, after, &c_.

4. All those objects, which admit of _quantity_ or _number_, may be
compared in that particular, which is another very fertile source of

5. When any two objects possess the same _quality_ in common, the
_degrees_ in which they possess it form a fifth species of relation.
Thus, of two objects which are both heavy, the one may be either of
greater or less weight than the other. Two colours, that are of the
same kind, may yet be of different shades, and in that respect admit of

6. The relation of _contrariety_ may at first sight be regarded as
an exception to the rule, _that no relation of any kind can subsist
without some degree of resemblance_. But let us consider, that no
two ideas are in themselves contrary, except those of existence and
non-existence, which are plainly resembling, as implying both of them
an idea of the object; though the latter excludes the object from all
times and places, in which it is supposed not to exist.

7. All other objects, such as fire and water, heat and cold, are only
found to be contrary from experience, and from the contrariety of their
_causes_ or _effects_; which relation of cause and effect is a seventh
philosophical relation, as well as a natural one. The resemblance
implied in this relation shall be explained afterwards.

It might naturally be expected that I should join _difference_ to the
other relations; but that I consider rather as a negation of relation
than as any thing real or positive. Difference is of two kinds, as
opposed either to identity or resemblance. The first is called a
difference of _number_; the other of _kind_.



I would fain ask those philosophers, who found so much of their
reasonings on the distinction of substance and accident, and imagine we
have clear ideas of each, whether the idea of _substance_ be derived
from the impressions of sensation or reflection? If it be conveyed
to us by our senses, I ask, which of them, and after what manner? If
it be perceived by the eyes, it must be a colour; if by the ears, a
sound; if by the palate, a taste; and so of the other senses. But I
believe none will assert, that substance is either a colour, or sound,
or a taste. The idea of substance must therefore be derived from an
impression of reflection, if it really exist. But the impressions of
reflection resolve themselves into our passions and emotions; none
of which can possibly represent a substance. We have, therefore, no
idea of substance, distinct from that of a collection of particular
qualities, nor have we any other meaning when we either talk or reason
concerning it.

The idea of a substance as well as that of a mode, is nothing but
a collection of simple ideas, that are united by the imagination,
and have a particular name assigned them, by which we are able to
recal, either to ourselves or others, that collection. But the
difference betwixt these ideas consists in this, that the particular
qualities, which form a substance, are commonly referred to an unknown
_something_, in which they are supposed to inhere; or granting this
fiction should not take place, are at least supposed to be closely and
inseparably connected by the relations of contiguity and causation.
The effect of this is, that whatever new simple quality we discover to
have the same connexion with the rest, we immediately comprehend it
among them, even though it did not enter into the first conception of
the substance. Thus our idea of gold may at first be a yellow colour,
weight, malleableness, fusibility; but upon the discovery of its
dissolubility in _aqua regia_, we join that to the other qualities, and
suppose it to belong to the substance as much as if its idea had from
the beginning made a part of the compound one. The principle of union
being regarded as the chief part of the complex idea, gives entrance to
whatever quality afterwards occurs, and is equally comprehended by it,
as are the others, which first presented themselves.

That this cannot take place in modes, is evident from considering their
nature. The simple ideas of which modes are formed, either represent
qualities, which are not united by contiguity and causation, but are
dispersed in different subjects; or if they be all united together,
the uniting principle is not regarded as the foundation of the complex
idea. The idea of a dance is an instance of the first kind of modes;
that of beauty of the second. The reason is obvious, why such complex
ideas cannot receive any new idea, without changing the name, which
distinguishes the mode.



A very material question has been started concerning _abstract_ or
_general_ ideas, _whether they be general or particular in the mind's
conception of them_. A great philosopher[3] has disputed the received
opinion in this particular, and has asserted, that all general ideas
are nothing but particular ones annexed to a certain term, which gives
them a more extensive signification, and makes them recal upon occasion
other individuals, which are similar to them. As I look upon this to be
one of the greatest and most valuable discoveries that has been made
of late years in the republic of letters, I shall here endeavour to
confirm it by some arguments, which I hope will put it beyond all doubt
and controversy.

'Tis evident, that, in forming most of our general ideas, if not all
of them, we abstract from every particular degree of quantity and
quality, and that an object ceases not to be of any particular species
on account of every small alteration in its extension, duration, and
other properties. It may therefore be thought, that here is a plain
dilemma, that decides concerning the nature of those abstract ideas,
which have afforded so much speculation to philosophers. The abstract
idea of a man represents men of all sizes and all qualities, which 'tis
concluded it cannot do, but either by representing at once all possible
sizes and all possible qualities, or by representing no particular
one at all. Now, it having been esteemed absurd to defend the former
proposition, as implying an infinite capacity in the mind, it has been
commonly inferred in favour of the latter; and our abstract ideas have
been supposed to represent no particular degree either of quantity
or quality. But that this inference is erroneous, I shall endeavour
to make appear, _first_, by proving, that 'tis utterly impossible to
conceive any quantity or quality, without forming a precise notion of
its degrees; and, _secondly_, by showing, that though the capacity
of the mind be not infinite, yet we can at once form a notion of all
possible degrees of quantity and quality, in such a manner at least,
as, however imperfect, may serve all the purposes of reflection and

To begin with the first proposition, _that the mind cannot form any
notion of quantity or quality without forming a precise notion of
degrees of each_, we may prove this by the three following arguments.
First, we have observed, that whatever objects are different are
distinguishable, and that whatever objects are distinguishable are
separable by the thought and imagination. And we may here add, that
these propositions are equally true in the _inverse_, and that whatever
objects are separable are also distinguishable, and that whatever
objects are distinguishable are also different. For how is it possible
we can separate what is not distinguishable, or distinguish what is
not different? In order therefore to know whether abstraction implies
a separation, we need only consider it in this view, and examine,
whether all the circumstances, which we abstract from in our general
ideas, be such as are distinguishable and different from those, which
we retain as essential parts of them. But 'tis evident at first sight,
that the precise length of a line is not different nor distinguishable
from the line itself; nor the precise degree of any quality from the
quality. These ideas, therefore, admit no more of separation than they
do of distinction and difference. They are, consequently, conjoined
with each other in the conception; and the general idea of a line,
notwithstanding all our abstractions and refinements, has, in its
appearance in the mind, a precise degree of quantity and quality;
however it may be made to represent others which have different degrees
of both.

Secondly, 'tis confessed, that no object can appear to the senses; or
in other words, that no impression can become present to the mind,
without being determined in its degrees both of quantity and quality.
The confusion, in which impressions are sometimes involved, proceeds
only from their faintness and unsteadiness, not from any capacity in
the mind to receive any impression, which in its real existence has
no particular degree nor proportion. That is a contradiction in terms;
and even implies the flattest of all contradictions, viz. that 'tis
possible for the same thing both to be and not to be.

Now, since all ideas are derived from impressions, and are nothing but
copies and representations of them, whatever is true of the one must be
acknowledged concerning the other. Impressions and ideas differ only in
their strength and vivacity. The foregoing conclusion is not founded on
any particular degree of vivacity. It cannot, therefore, be affected by
any variation in that particular. An idea is a weaker impression; and,
as a strong impression must necessarily have a determinate quantity and
quality, the case must be the same with its copy or representative.

Thirdly, 'tis a principle generally received in philosophy, that every
thing in nature is individual, and that 'tis utterly absurd to suppose
a triangle really existent, which has no precise proportion of sides
and angles. If this, therefore, be absurd in _fact and reality_, it
must also be absurd _in idea_; since nothing of which we can form a
clear and distinct idea is absurd and impossible. But to form the
idea of an object, and to form an idea simply, is the same thing; the
reference of the idea to an object being an extraneous denomination, of
which in itself it bears no mark or character. Now, as 'tis impossible
to form an idea of an object that is possessed of quantity and quality,
and yet is possessed of no precise degree of either, it follows, that
there is an equal impossibility of forming an idea, that is not limited
and confined in both these particulars. Abstract ideas are, therefore,
in themselves individual, however they may become general in their
representation. The image in the mind is only that of a particular
object, though the application of it in our reasoning be the same as if
it were universal.

This application of ideas, beyond their nature, proceeds from our
collecting all their possible degrees of quantity and quality in
such an imperfect manner as may serve the purposes of life, which is
the second proposition I proposed to explain. When we have found a
resemblance[4] among several objects, that often occur to us, we apply
the same name to all of them, whatever differences we may observe
in the degrees of their quantity and quality, and whatever other
differences may appear among them. After we have acquired a custom of
this kind, the hearing of that name revives the idea of one of these
objects, and makes the imagination conceive it with all its particular
circumstances and proportions. But as the same word is supposed to have
been frequently applied to other individuals, that are different in
many respects from that idea, which is immediately present to the mind;
the word not being able to revive the idea of all these individuals,
only touches the soul, if I may be allowed so to speak, and revives
that custom, which we have acquired by surveying them. They are not
really and in fact present to the mind, but only in power; nor do we
draw them all out distinctly in the imagination, but keep ourselves in
a readiness to survey any of them, as we may be prompted by a present
design or necessity. The word raises up an individual idea, along
with a certain custom, and that custom produces any other individual
one, for which we may have occasion. But as the production of all the
ideas, to which the name may be applied, is in most cases impossible,
we abridge that work by a more partial consideration, and find but few
inconveniences to arise in our reasoning from that abridgment.

For this is one of the most extraordinary circumstances in the present
affair, that after the mind has produced an individual idea, upon
which we reason, the attendant custom, revived by the general or
abstract term, readily suggests any other individual, if by chance we
form any reasoning that agrees not with it. Thus, should we mention
the word triangle, and form the idea of a particular equilateral
one to correspond to it, and should we afterwards assert, _that
the three angles of a triangle are equal to each other_, the other
individuals of a scalenum and isosceles, which we overlooked at first,
immediately crowd in upon us, and make us perceive the falsehood of
this proposition, though it be true with relation to that idea which
we had formed. If the mind suggests not always these ideas upon
occasion, it proceeds from some imperfection in its faculties; and
such a one as is often the source of false reasoning and sophistry.
But this is principally the case with those ideas which are abstruse
and compounded. On other occasions the custom is more entire, and 'tis
seldom we run into such errors.

Nay so entire is the custom, that the very same idea may be annexed to
several different words, and may be employed in different reasonings,
without any danger of mistake. Thus the idea of an equilateral triangle
of an inch perpendicular may serve us in talking of a figure, of a
rectilineal figure, of a regular figure, of a triangle, and of an
equilateral triangle. All these terms, therefore, are in this case
attended with the same idea; but as they are wont to be applied in a
greater or lesser compass, they excite their particular habits, and
thereby keep the mind in a readiness to observe, that no conclusion be
formed contrary to any ideas, which are usually comprised under them.

Before those habits have become entirely perfect, perhaps the mind may
not be content with forming the idea of only one individual, but may
run over several, in order to make itself comprehend its own meaning,
and the compass of that collection, which it intends to express by the
general term. That we may fix the meaning of the word, figure, we may
revolve in our mind the ideas of circles, squares, parallelograms,
triangles of different sizes and proportions, and may not rest on one
image or idea. However this may be, 'tis certain _that_ we form the
idea of individuals whenever we use any general term; _that_ we seldom
or never can exhaust these individuals; and _that_ those which remain,
are only represented by means of that habit by which we recal them,
whenever any present occasion requires it. This then is the nature of
our abstract ideas and general terms; and 'tis after this manner we
account for the foregoing paradox, _that some ideas are particular
in their nature, but general in their representation_. A particular
idea becomes general by being annexed to a general term; that is, to a
term which, from a customary conjunction, has a relation to many other
particular ideas, and readily recals them in the imagination.

The only difficulty that can remain on this subject, must be with
regard to that custom, which so readily recals every particular idea
for which we may have occasion, and is excited by any word or sound
to which we commonly annex it. The most proper method, in my opinion,
of giving a satisfactory explication of this act of the mind, is
by producing other instances which are analogous to it, and other
principles which facilitate its operation. To explain the ultimate
causes of our mental actions is impossible. 'Tis sufficient if we can
give any satisfactory account of them from experience and analogy.

First, then, I observe, that when we mention any great number, such as
a thousand, the mind has generally no adequate idea of it, but only a
power of producing such an idea, by its adequate idea of the decimals
under which the number is comprehended. This imperfection, however,
in our ideas, is never felt in our reasonings, which seems to be an
instance parallel to the present one of universal ideas.

Secondly, we have several instances of habits which may be revived by
one single word; as when a person who has, by rote, any periods of
a discourse, or any number of verses, will be put in remembrance of
the whole, which he is at a loss to recollect, by that single word or
expression with which they begin.

Thirdly, I believe every one who examines the situation of his mind
in reasoning, will agree with me, that we do not annex distinct and
complete ideas to every term we make use of, and that in talking
of _government, church, negociation, conquest_, we seldom spread
out in our minds all the simple ideas of which these complex ones
are composed. 'Tis however observable, that notwithstanding this
imperfection, we may avoid talking nonsense on these subjects, and may
perceive any repugnance among the ideas as well as if we had a full
comprehension of them. Thus, if instead of saying, _that in war the
weaker have always recourse to negociation_, we should say, _that they
have always recourse to conquest_, the custom which we have acquired of
attributing certain relations to ideas, still follows the words, and
makes us immediately perceive the absurdity of that proposition; in the
same manner as one particular idea may serve us in reasoning concerning
other ideas, however different from it in several circumstances.

Fourthly, as the individuals are collected together, and placed under
a general term with a view to that resemblance which they bear to each
other, this relation must facilitate their entrance in the imagination,
and make them be suggested more readily upon occasion. And, indeed, if
we consider the common progress of the thought, either in reflection
or conversation, we shall find great reason to be satisfied in this
particular. Nothing is more admirable than the readiness with which the
imagination suggests its ideas, and presents them at the very instant
in which they become necessary or useful. The fancy runs from one end
of the universe to the other, in collecting those ideas which belong to
any subject. One would think the whole intellectual world of ideas was
at once subjected to our view, and that we did nothing but pick out
such as were most proper for our purpose. There may not, however, be
any present, beside those very ideas, that are thus collected by a kind
of magical faculty in the soul, which, though it be always most perfect
in the greatest geniuses, and is properly what we call a genius, is
however inexplicable by the utmost efforts of human understanding.

Perhaps these four reflections may help to remove all difficulties to
the hypothesis I have proposed concerning abstract ideas, so contrary
to that which has hitherto prevailed in philosophy. But to tell the
truth, I place my chief confidence in what I have already proved
concerning the impossibility of general ideas, according to the common
method of explaining them. We must certainly seek some new system on
this head, and there plainly is none beside what I have proposed. If
ideas be particular in their nature, and at the same time finite in
their number, 'tis only by custom they can become general in their
representation, and contain an infinite number of other ideas under

Before I leave this subject, I shall employ the same principles to
explain that _distinction of reason_, which is so much talked of, and
is so little understood in the schools. Of this kind is the distinction
betwixt figure and the body figured; motion and the body moved. The
difficulty of explaining this distinction arises from the principle
above explained, _that all ideas which are different are separable_.
For it follows from thence, that if the figure be different from
the body, their ideas must be separable as well as distinguishable;
if they be not different, their ideas can neither be separable nor
distinguishable. What then is meant by a distinction of reason, since
it implies neither a difference nor separation?

To remove this difficulty, we must have recourse to the foregoing
explication of abstract ideas. 'Tis certain that the mind would never
have dreamed of distinguishing a figure from the body figured, as being
in reality neither distinguishable, nor different, nor separable, did
it not observe, that even in this simplicity there might be contained
many different resemblances and relations. Thus, when a globe of white
marble is presented, we receive only the impression of a white colour
disposed in a certain form, nor are we able to separate and distinguish
the colour from the form. But observing afterwards a globe of black
marble and a cube of white, and comparing them with our former object,
we find two separate resemblances, in what formerly seemed, and really
is, perfectly inseparable. After a little more practice of this kind,
we begin to distinguish the figure from the colour by a _distinction
of reason_; that is, we consider the figure and colour together, since
they are, in effect, the same and undistinguishable; but still view
them in different aspects, according to the resemblances of which they
are susceptible. When we would consider only the figure of the globe of
white marble, we form in reality an idea both of the figure and colour,
but tacitly carry our eye to its resemblance with the globe of black
marble: and in the same manner, when we would consider its colour only,
we turn our view to its resemblance with the cube of white marble. By
this means we accompany our ideas with a kind of reflection, of which
custom renders us, in a great measure, insensible. A person who desires
us to consider the figure of a globe of white marble without thinking
on its colour, desires an impossibility; but his meaning is, that we
should consider the colour and figure together, but still keep in our
eye the resemblance to the globe of black marble, or that to any other
globe of whatever colour or substance.

[3] Dr Berkeley.

[4] 'Tis evident, that even different simple ideas may have a
similarity or resemblance to each other; nor is it necessary, that the
point or circumstance of resemblance should be distinct or separable
from that in which they differ. _Blue_ and _green_ are different simple
ideas, but are more resembling than _blue_ and _scarlet_; though
their perfect simplicity excludes all possibility of separation or
distinction. 'Tis the same case with particular sounds, and tastes,
and smells. These admit of infinite resemblances upon the general
appearance and comparison, without having any common circumstance
the same. And of this we may be certain, even from the very abstract
terms _simple idea_. They comprehend all simple ideas under them.
These resemble each other in their simplicity. And yet from their very
nature, which excludes all composition, this circumstance, in which
they resemble, is not distinguishable or separable from the rest.
'Tis the same case with all the degrees in any quality. They are all
resembling, and yet the quality, in any individual, is not distinct
from the degree.





Whatever has the air of a paradox, and is contrary to the first and
most unprejudiced notions of mankind, is often greedily embraced by
philosophers, as showing the superiority of their science, which could
discover opinions so remote from vulgar conception. On the other hand,
any thing proposed to us, which causes surprise and admiration, gives
such a satisfaction to the mind, that it indulges itself in those
agreeable emotions, and will never be persuaded that its pleasure is
entirely without foundation. From these dispositions in philosophers
and their disciples, arises that mutual complaisance betwixt them;
while the former furnish such plenty of strange and unaccountable
opinions, and the latter so readily believe them. Of this mutual
complaisance I cannot give a more evident instance than in the doctrine
of infinite divisibility, with the examination of which I shall begin
this subject of the ideas of space and time.

'Tis universally allowed, that the capacity of the mind is limited, and
can never attain a full and adequate conception of infinity: and though
it were not allowed, 'twould be sufficiently evident from the plainest
observation and experience. 'Tis also obvious, that whatever is capable
of being divided _in infinitum_, must consist of an infinite number
of parts, and that 'tis impossible to set any bounds to the number
of parts without setting bounds at the same time to the division. It
requires scarce any induction to conclude from hence, that the _idea_,
which we form of any finite quality, is not infinitely divisible, but
that by proper distinctions and separations we may run up this idea
to inferior ones, which will be perfectly simple and indivisible. In
rejecting the infinite capacity of the mind, we suppose it may arrive
at an end in the division of its ideas; nor are there any possible
means of evading the evidence of this conclusion.

'Tis therefore certain, that the imagination reaches a _minimum_,
and may raise up to itself an idea, of which it cannot conceive
any subdivision, and which cannot be diminished without a total
annihilation. When you tell me of the thousandth and ten thousandth
part of a grain of sand, I have a distinct idea of these numbers and
of their different proportions; but the images which I form in my mind
to represent the things themselves, are nothing different from each
other, nor inferior to that image, by which I represent the grain of
sand itself, which is supposed so vastly to exceed them. What consists
of parts is distinguishable into them, and what is distinguishable is
separable. But, whatever we may imagine of the thing, the idea of a
grain of sand is not distinguishable nor separable into twenty, much
less into a thousand, ten thousand, or an infinite number of different

'Tis the same case with the impressions of the senses as with the ideas
of the imagination. Put a spot of ink upon paper, fix your eye upon
that spot, and retire to such a distance that at last you lose sight
of it; 'tis plain, that the moment before it vanished, the image, or
impression, was perfectly indivisible. 'Tis not for want of rays of
light striking on our eyes, that the minute parts of distant bodies
convey not any sensible impression; but because they are removed
beyond that distance, at which their impressions were reduced to a
_minimum_, and were incapable of any farther diminution. A microscope
or telescope, which renders them visible, produces not any new rays of
light, but only spreads those which always flowed from them; and, by
that means, both gives parts to impressions, which to the naked eye
appear simple and uncompounded, and advances to a _minimum_ what was
formerly imperceptible.

We may hence discover the error of the common opinion, that the
capacity of the mind is limited on both sides, and that 'tis impossible
for the imagination to form an adequate idea of what goes beyond a
certain degree of minuteness as well as of greatness. Nothing can be
more minute than some ideas which we form in the fancy, and images
which appear to the senses; since there are ideas and images perfectly
simple and indivisible. The only defect of our senses is, that they
give us disproportioned images of things, and represent as minute and
uncompounded what is really great and composed of a vast number of
parts. This mistake we are not sensible of; but, taking the impressions
of those minute objects, which appear to the senses to be equal,
or nearly equal to the objects, and finding, by reason, that there
are other objects vastly more minute, we too hastily conclude, that
these are inferior to any idea of our imagination or impression of
our senses. This, however, is certain, that we can form ideas, which
shall be no greater than the smallest atom of the animal spirits of
an insect a thousand times less than a mite: and we ought rather to
conclude, that the difficulty lies in enlarging our conceptions so much
as to form a just notion of a mite, or even of an insect a thousand
times less than a mite. For, in order to form a just notion of these
animals, we must have a distinct idea representing every part of them;
which, according to the system of infinite divisibility, is utterly
impossible, and according to that of indivisible parts or atoms, is
extremely difficult, by reason of the vast number and multiplicity of
these parts.



Wherever ideas are adequate representations of objects, the relations,
contradictions, and agreements of the ideas are all applicable to the
objects; and this we may, in general, observe to be the foundation of
all human knowledge. But our ideas are adequate representations of
the most minute parts of extension; and, through whatever divisions
and subdivisions we may suppose these parts to be arrived at, they
can never become inferior to some ideas which we form. The plain
consequence is, that whatever _appears_ impossible and contradictory
upon the comparison of these ideas, must be _really_ impossible and
contradictory, without any farther excuse or evasion.

Every thing capable of being infinitely divided contains an infinite
number of parts; otherwise the division would be stopped short by
the indivisible parts, which we should immediately arrive at. If
therefore any finite extension be infinitely divisible, it can be no
contradiction to suppose, that a finite extension contains an infinite
number of parts: and _vice versa_, if it be a contradiction to suppose,
that a finite extension contains an infinite number of parts, no finite
extension can be infinitely divisible. But that this latter supposition
is absurd, I easily convince myself by the consideration of my clear
ideas. I first take the least idea I can form of a part of extension,
and being certain that there is nothing more minute than this idea, I
conclude, that whatever I discover by its means, must be a real quality
of extension. I then repeat this idea once, twice, thrice, &c. and find
the compound idea of extension, arising from its repetition, always
to augment, and become double, triple, quadruple, &c. till at last it
swells up to a considerable bulk, greater or smaller, in proportion as
I repeat more or less the same idea. When I stop in the addition of
parts, the idea of extension ceases to augment; and were I to carry
on the addition _in infinitum_, I clearly perceive, that the idea of
extension must also become infinite. Upon the whole, I conclude, that
the idea of an infinite number of parts is individually the same idea
with that of an infinite extension; that no finite extension is capable
of containing an infinite number of parts; and, consequently, that no
finite extension is infinitely divisible.[1]

I may subjoin another argument proposed by a noted author,[2] which
seems to me very strong and beautiful. 'Tis evident, that existence
in itself belongs only to unity, and is never applicable to number,
but on account of the unites of which the number is composed. Twenty
men may be said to exist; but 'tis only because one, two, three, four,
&c. are existent; and if you deny the existence of the latter, that of
the former falls of course. 'Tis therefore utterly absurd to suppose
any number to exist, and yet deny the existence of unites; and as
extension is always a number, according to the common sentiment of
metaphysicians, and never resolves itself into any unite or indivisible
quantity, it follows that extension can never at all exist. 'Tis in
vain to reply, that any determinate quantity of extension is an unite;
but such a one as admits of an infinite number of fractions, and is
inexhaustible in its subdivisions. For by the same rule, these twenty
men _may be considered as an unite_. The whole globe of the earth, nay,
the whole universe _may be considered as an unite_. That term of unity
is merely a fictitious denomination, which the mind may apply to any
quantity of objects it collects together; nor can such an unity any
more exist alone than number can, as being in reality a true number.
But the unity, which can exist alone, and whose existence is necessary
to that of all number, is of another kind, and must be perfectly
indivisible, and incapable of being resolved into any lesser unity.

All this reasoning takes place with regard to time; along with an
additional argument, which it may be proper to take notice of. 'Tis
a property inseparable from time, and which in a manner constitutes
its essence, that each of its parts succeeds another, and that none
of them, however contiguous, can ever be co-existent. For the same
reason that the year 1737 cannot concur with the present year 1738,
every moment must be distinct from, and posterior or antecedent to
another. 'Tis certain then, that time, as it exists, must be composed
of indivisible moments. For if in time we could never arrive at an
end of division, and if each moment, as it succeeds another, were not
perfectly single and indivisible, there would be an infinite number of
co-existent moments, or parts of time; which I believe will be allowed
to be an arrant contradiction.

The infinite divisibility of space implies that of time, as is evident
from the nature of motion. If the latter, therefore, be impossible, the
former must be equally so.

I doubt not but it will readily be allowed by the most obstinate
defender of the doctrine of infinite divisibility, that these arguments
are difficulties, and that 'tis impossible to give any answer to
them which will be perfectly clear and satisfactory. But here we may
observe, that nothing can be more absurd than this custom of calling a
_difficulty_ what pretends to be a _demonstration_, and endeavouring by
that means to elude its force and evidence. 'Tis not in demonstrations,
as in probabilities, that difficulties can take place, and one argument
counterbalance another, and diminish its authority. A demonstration,
if just, admits of no opposite difficulty; and if not just, 'tis
a mere sophism, and consequently can never be a difficulty. 'Tis
either irresistible, or has no manner of force. To talk therefore of
objections and replies, and balancing of arguments in such a question
as this, is to confess, either that human reason is nothing but a
play of words, or that the person himself, who talks so, has not a
capacity equal to such subjects. Demonstrations may be difficult to be
comprehended, because of the abstractedness of the subject; but can
never have any such difficulties as will weaken their authority, when
once they are comprehended.

'Tis true, mathematicians are wont to say, that there are here
equally strong arguments on the other side of the question, and that
the doctrine of indivisible points is also liable to unanswerable
objections. Before I examine these arguments and objections in detail,
I will here take them in a body, and endeavour, by a short and decisive
reason, to prove, at once, that 'tis utterly impossible they can have
any just foundation.

'Tis an established maxim in metaphysics, _That whatever the mind
clearly conceives includes the idea of possible existence_, or, in
other words, _that nothing we imagine is absolutely impossible_. We
can form the idea of a golden mountain, and from thence conclude, that
such a mountain may actually exist. We can form no idea of a mountain
without a valley, and therefore regard it as impossible.

Now 'tis certain we have an idea of extension; for otherwise, why
do we talk and reason concerning it? 'Tis likewise certain, that
this idea, as conceived by the imagination, though divisible into
parts or inferior ideas, is not infinitely divisible, nor consists
of an infinite number of parts: for that exceeds the comprehension
of our limited capacities. Here then is an idea of extension, which
consists of parts or inferior ideas, that are perfectly indivisible:
consequently this idea implies no contradiction: consequently 'tis
possible for extension really to exist conformable to it: and
consequently, all the arguments employed against the possibility of
mathematical points are mere scholastic quibbles, and unworthy of our

These consequences we may carry one step farther, and conclude that all
the pretended demonstrations for the infinite divisibility of extension
are equally sophistical; since 'tis certain these demonstrations cannot
be just without proving the impossibility of mathematical points; which
'tis an evident absurdity to pretend to.

[1] It has been objected to me, that infinite divisibility supposes
only an infinite number of _proportional_ not of _aliquot_ parts, and
that an infinite number of proportional parts does not form an infinite
extension. But this distinction is entirely frivolous. Whether these
parts be called _aliquot_ or _proportional_, they cannot be inferior
to those minute parts we conceive; and therefore, cannot form a less
extension by their conjunction.

[2] Mons. Malezieu.



No discovery could have been made more happily for deciding all
controversies concerning ideas, than that above mentioned, that
impressions always take the precedency of them, and that every idea,
with which the imagination is furnished, first makes its appearance in
a correspondent impression. These latter perceptions are all so clear
and evident, that they admit of no controversy; though many of our
ideas are so obscure, that 'tis almost impossible even for the mind,
which forms them, to tell exactly their nature and composition. Let us
apply this principle, in order to discover farther the nature of our
ideas of space and time.

Upon opening my eyes and turning them to the surrounding objects,
I perceive many visible bodies; and upon shutting them again, and
considering the distance betwixt these bodies, I acquire the idea
of extension. As every idea is derived from some impression which
is exactly similar to it, the impressions similar to this idea of
extension, must either be some sensations derived from the sight, or
some internal impressions arising from these sensations.

Our internal impressions are our passions, emotions, desires, and
aversions; none of which, I believe, will ever be asserted to be
the model from which the idea of space is derived. There remains,
therefore, nothing but the senses which can convey to us this original
impression. Now, what impression do our senses here convey to us? This
is the principal question, and decides without appeal concerning the
nature of the idea.

The table before me is alone sufficient by its view to give me the
idea of extension. This idea, then, is borrowed from, and represents
some impression which this moment appears to the senses. But my senses
convey to me only the impressions of coloured points, disposed in a
certain manner. If the eye is sensible of any thing farther, I desire
it may be pointed out to me. But, if it be impossible to shew any thing
farther, we may conclude with certainty, that the idea of extension is
nothing but a copy of these coloured points, and of the manner of their

Suppose that, in the extended object, or composition of coloured
points, from which we first received the idea of extension, the points
were of a purple colour; it follows, that in every repetition of that
idea we would not only place the points in the same order with respect
to each other, but also bestow on them that precise colour with which
alone we are acquainted. But afterwards, having experience of the other
colours of violet, green, red, white, black, and of all the different
compositions of these, and finding a resemblance in the disposition of
coloured points, of which they are composed, we omit the peculiarities
of colour, as far as possible, and found an abstract idea merely on
that disposition of points, or manner of appearance, in which they
agree. Nay, even when the resemblance is carried beyond the objects
of one sense, and the impressions of touch are found to be similar
to those of sight in the disposition of their parts; this does not
hinder the abstract idea from representing both, upon account of their
resemblance. All abstract ideas are really nothing but particular ones,
considered in a certain light; but being annexed to general terms, they
are able to represent a vast variety, and to comprehend objects, which,
as they are alike in some particulars, are in others vastly wide of
each other.

The idea of time, being derived from the succession of our perceptions
of every kind, ideas as well as impressions, and impressions of
reflection as well as of sensation, will afford us an instance of an
abstract idea, which comprehends a still greater variety than that
of space, and yet is represented in the fancy by some particular
individual idea of a determined quantity and quality.

As 'tis from the disposition of visible and tangible objects we receive
the idea of space, so, from the succession of ideas and impressions we
form the idea of time; nor is it possible for time alone ever to make
its appearance, or be taken notice of by the mind. A man in a sound
sleep, or strongly occupied with one thought, is insensible of time;
and according as his perceptions succeed each other with greater or
less rapidity, the same duration appears longer or shorter to his
imagination. It has been remarked by a great philosopher,[3] that our
perceptions have certain bounds in this particular, which are fixed by
the original nature and constitution of the mind, and beyond which no
influence of external objects on the senses is ever able to hasten or
retard our thought. If you wheel about a burning coal with rapidity,
it will present to the senses an image of a circle of fire; nor will
there seem to be any interval of time betwixt its revolutions; merely
because 'tis impossible for our perceptions to succeed each other,
with the same rapidity that motion may be communicated to external
objects. Wherever we have no successive perceptions, we have no notion
of time, even though there be a real succession in the objects. From
these phenomena, as well as from many others, we may conclude, that
time cannot make its appearance to the mind, either alone or attended
with a steady unchangeable object, but is always discovered by some
_perceivable_ succession of changeable objects.

To confirm this we may add the following argument, which to me seems
perfectly decisive and convincing. 'Tis evident, that time or duration
consists of different parts: for otherwise, we could not conceive a
longer or shorter duration. 'Tis also evident, that these parts are
not co-existent: for that quality of the coexistence of parts belongs
to extension, and is what distinguishes it from duration. Now as time
is composed of parts that are not co-existent, an unchangeable object,
since it produces none but co-existent impressions, produces none that
can give us the idea of time; and, consequently, that idea must be
derived from a succession of changeable objects, and time in its first
appearance can never be severed from such a succession.

Having therefore found, that time in its first appearance to the mind
is always conjoined with a succession of changeable objects, and that
otherwise it can never fall under our notice, we must now examine,
whether it can be _conceived_ without our conceiving any succession
of objects, and whether it can alone form a distinct idea in the

In order to know whether any objects, which are joined in impression,
be separable in idea, we need only consider if they be different from
each other; in which case, 'tis plain they may be conceived apart.
Every thing that is different is distinguishable, and every thing
that is distinguishable may be separated, according to the maxims
above explained. If, on the contrary, they be not different, they are
not distinguishable; and if they be not distinguishable, they cannot
be separated. But this is precisely the case with respect to time,
compared with our successive perceptions. The idea of time is not
derived from a particular impression mixed up with others, and plainly
distinguishable from them, but arises altogether from the manner in
which impressions appear to the mind, without making one of the number.
Five notes played on a flute give us the impression and idea of time,
though time be not a sixth impression which presents itself to the
hearing or any other of the senses. Nor is it a sixth impression which
the mind by reflection finds in itself. These five sounds making their
appearance in this particular manner, excite no emotion in the mind,
nor produce an affection of any kind, which being observed by it can
give rise to a new idea. For _that_ is necessary to produce a new idea
of reflection; nor can the mind, by revolving over a thousand times
all its ideas of sensation, ever extract from them any new original
idea, unless nature has so framed its faculties, that it feels some
new original impression arise from such a contemplation. But here it
only takes notice of the our the _manner_ in which the different sounds
make their appearance, and that it may afterwards consider without
considering these particular sounds, but may conjoin it with any other
objects. The ideas of some objects it certainly must have, nor is it
possible for it without these ideas ever to arrive at any conception of
time; which, since it appears not as any primary distinct impression,
can plainly be nothing but different ideas, or impressions, or objects
disposed in a certain manner, that is, succeeding each other.

I know there are some who pretend that the idea of duration is
applicable in a proper sense to objects which are perfectly
unchangeable; and this I take to be the common opinion of philosophers
as well as of the vulgar. But to be convinced of its falsehood, we need
but reflect on the foregoing conclusion, that the idea of duration is
always derived from a succession of changeable objects, and can never
be conveyed to the mind by any thing stedfast and unchangeable. For
it inevitably follows from thence, that since the idea of duration
cannot be derived from such an object, it can never in any propriety or
exactness be applied to it, nor can any thing unchangeable be ever said
to have duration. Ideas always represent the objects or impressions,
from which they are derived, and can never, without a fiction,
represent or be applied to any other. By what fiction we apply the idea
of time, even to what is unchangeable, and suppose, as is common that
duration is a measure of rest as well as of motion, we shall consider

There is another very decisive argument, which establishes the present
doctrine concerning our ideas of space and time, and is founded only on
that simple principle, _that our ideas of them are compounded of parts,
which are indivisible_. This argument may be worth the examining.

Every idea that is distinguishable being also separable, let us
take one of those simple indivisible ideas, of which the compound
one of _extension_ is formed, and separating it from all others,
and considering it apart, let us form a judgment of its nature and

'Tis plain it is not the idea of extension: for the idea of extension
consists of parts; and this idea, according to the supposition, is
perfectly simple and indivisible. Is it therefore nothing? That is
absolutely impossible. For as the compound idea of extension, which
is real, is composed of such ideas, were these so many nonentities
there would be a real existence composed of nonentities, which is
absurd. Here, therefore, I must ask, _What is our idea of a simple and
indivisible point_? No wonder if my answer appear somewhat new, since
the question itself has scarce ever yet been thought of. We are wont
to dispute concerning the nature of mathematical points, but seldom
concerning the nature of their ideas.

The idea of space is conveyed to the mind by two senses, the
sight and touch; nor does any thing ever appear extended, that is
not either visible or tangible. That compound impression, which
represents extension, consists of several lesser impressions, that
are indivisible to the eye or feeling, and may be called impressions
of atoms or corpuscles endowed with colour and solidity. But this
is not all. 'Tis not only requisite that these atoms should be
coloured or tangible, in order to discover themselves to our senses,
'tis also necessary we should preserve the idea of their colour or
tangibility, in order to comprehend them by our imagination. There is
nothing but the idea of their colour or tangibility which can render
them conceivable by the mind. Upon the removal of the ideas of these
sensible qualities they are utterly annihilated to the thought or

Now, such as the parts are, such is the whole. If a point be not
considered as coloured or tangible, it can convey to us no idea; and
consequently the idea of extension, which is composed of the ideas of
these points, can never possibly exist: but if the idea of extension
really can exist, as we are conscious it does, its parts must also
exist; and in order to that, must be considered as coloured or
tangible. We have therefore no idea of space or extension, but when we
regard it as an object either of our sight or feeling.

The same reasoning will prove, that the indivisible moments of time
must be filled with some real object or existence, whose succession
forms the duration, and makes it be conceivable by the mind.

[3] Mr Locke.

[4] Sect. 5.



Our system concerning space and time consists of two parts, which
are intimately connected together. The first depends on this chain
of reasoning. The capacity of the mind is not infinite, consequently
no idea of extension or duration consists of an infinite number of
parts or inferior ideas, but of a finite number, and these simple
and indivisible: 'tis therefore possible for space and time to exist
conformable to this idea: and if it be possible, 'tis certain they
actually do exist conformable to it, since their infinite divisibility
is utterly impossible and contradictory.

The other part of our system is a consequence of this. The parts, into
which the ideas of space and time resolve themselves, become at last
indivisible; and these indivisible parts, being nothing in themselves,
are inconceivable when not filled with something real and existent. The
ideas of space and time are therefore no separate or distinct ideas,
but merely those of the manner or order in which objects exist; or, in
other words, 'tis impossible to conceive either a vacuum and extension
without matter, or a time when there was no succession or change in
any real existence. The intimate connexion betwixt these parts of our
system is the reason why we shall examine together the objections which
have been urged against both of them, beginning with those against the
finite divisibility of extension.

I. The first of these objections which I shall take notice of, is more
proper to prove this connexion and dependence of the one part upon the
other than to destroy either of them. It has often been maintained in
the schools, that extension must be divisible, _in infinitum_, because
the system of mathematical points is absurd; and that system is absurd,
because a mathematical point is a nonentity, and consequently can
never, by its conjunction with others, form a real existence. This
would be perfectly decisive, were there no medium betwixt the infinite
divisibility of matter, and the nonentity of mathematical points. But
there is evidently a medium, viz. the bestowing a colour or solidity on
these points; and the absurdity of both the extremes is a demonstration
of the truth and reality of this medium. The system of _physical_
points, which is another medium, is too absurd to need a refutation. A
real extension, such as a physical point is supposed to be, can never
exist without parts different from each other; and wherever objects are
different, they are distinguishable and separable by the imagination.

II. The second objection is derived from the necessity there would
be of _penetration_, if extension consisted of mathematical points.
A simple and indivisible atom that touches another must necessarily
penetrate it; for 'tis impossible it can touch it by its external
parts, from the very supposition of its perfect simplicity, which
excludes all parts. It must therefore touch it intimately, and in its
whole essence, _secundum se, tota, et totaliter_; which is the very
definition of penetration. But penetration is impossible: mathematical
points are of consequence equally impossible.

I answer this objection by substituting a juster idea of penetration.
Suppose two bodies, containing no void within their circumference, to
approach each other, and to unite in such a manner that the body, which
results from their union, is no more extended than either of them; 'tis
this we must mean when we talk of penetration. But 'tis evident this
penetration is nothing but the annihilation of one of these bodies, and
the preservation of the other, without our being able to distinguish
particularly which is preserved and which annihilated. Before the
approach we have the idea of two bodies; after it we have the idea
only of one. 'Tis impossible for the mind to preserve any notion of
difference betwixt two bodies of the same nature existing in the same
place at the same time.

Taking then penetration in this sense, for the annihilation of one body
upon its approach to another, I ask any one if he sees a necessity that
a coloured or tangible point should be annihilated upon the approach
of another coloured or tangible point? On the contrary, does he not
evidently perceive, that, from the union of these points, there results
an object which is compounded and divisible, and may be distinguished
into two parts, of which each preserves its existence, distinct and
separate, notwithstanding its contiguity to the other? Let him aid his
fancy by conceiving these points to be of different colours, the better
to prevent their coalition and confusion. A blue and a red point may
surely lie contiguous without any penetration or annihilation. For if
they cannot, what possibly can become of them? Whether shall the red or
the blue be annihilated? Or if these colours unite into one, what new
colour will they produce by their union?

What chiefly gives rise to these objections, and at the same time
renders it so difficult to give a satisfactory answer to them, is
the natural infirmity and unsteadiness both of our imagination and
senses when employed on such minute objects. Put a spot of ink upon
paper, and retire to such a distance that the spot becomes altogether
invisible, you will find, that, upon your return and nearer approach,
the spot first becomes visible by short intervals, and afterwards
becomes always visible; and afterwards acquires only a new force in
its colouring, without augmenting its bulk; and afterwards, when it
has increased to such a degree as to be really extended, 'tis still
difficult for the imagination to break it into its component parts,
because of the uneasiness it finds in the conception of such a minute
object as a single point. This infirmity affects most of our reasonings
on the present subject, and makes it almost impossible to answer in an
intelligible manner, and in proper expressions, many questions which
may arise concerning it.

III. There have been many objections drawn from the _mathematics_
against the indivisibility of the parts of extension, though at first
sight that science seems rather favourable to the present doctrine; and
if it be contrary in its _demonstrations_,'tis perfectly conformable
in its _definitions_. My present business then must be, to defend the
definitions and refute the demonstrations.

A surface is _defined_ to be length and breadth without depth; a line
to be length without breadth or depth; a point to be what has neither
length, breadth, nor depth. 'Tis evident that all this is perfectly
unintelligible upon any other supposition than that of the composition
of extension by indivisible points or atoms. How else could any thing
exist without length, without breadth, or without depth?

Two different answers, I find, have been made to this argument,
neither of which is, in my opinion, satisfactory. The first is, that
the objects of geometry, those surfaces, lines, and points, whose
proportions and positions it examines, are mere ideas in the mind;
and not only never did, but never can exist in nature. They never
did exist; for no one will pretend to draw a line or make a surface
entirely conformable to the definition: they never can exist; for we
may produce demonstrations from these very ideas to prove that they are

But can any thing be imagined more absurd and contradictory than this
reasoning? Whatever can be conceived by a clear and distinct idea,
necessarily implies the possibility of existence; and he who pretends
to prove the impossibility of its existence by any argument derived
from the clear idea, in reality asserts that we have no clear idea
of it, because we have a clear idea. 'Tis in vain to search for a
contradiction in any thing that is distinctly conceived by the mind.
Did it imply any contradiction, 'tis impossible it could ever be

There is therefore no medium betwixt allowing at least the possibility
of indivisible points, and denying their idea; and 'tis on this latter
principle that the second answer to the foregoing argument is founded.
It has been pretended,[5] that though it be impossible to conceive a
length without any breadth, yet by an abstraction without a separation
we can consider the one without regarding the other; in the same manner
as we may think of the length of the way betwixt two towns and overlook
its breadth. The length is inseparable from the breadth both in nature
and in our minds; but this excludes not a partial consideration, and a
_distinction of reason_, after the manner above explained.

In refuting this answer I shall not insist on the argument, which I
have already sufficiently explained, that if it be impossible for
the mind to arrive at a _minimum_ in its ideas, its capacity must be
infinite in order to comprehend the infinite number of parts, of which
its idea of any extension would be composed. I shall here endeavour to
find some new absurdities in this reasoning.

A surface terminates a solid; a line terminates a surface; a point
terminates a line; but I assert, that if the _ideas_ of a point, line,
or surface, were not indivisible, 'tis impossible we should ever
conceive these terminations. For let these ideas be supposed infinitely
divisible, and then let the fancy endeavour to fix itself on the idea
of the last surface, line, or point, it immediately finds this idea
to break into parts; and upon its seizing the last of these parts it
loses its hold by a new division, and so on _in infinitum_, without
any possibility of its arriving at a concluding idea. The number of
fractions bring it no nearer the last division than the first idea
it formed. Every particle eludes the grasp by a new fraction, like
quicksilver, when we endeavour to seize it. But as in fact there must
be something which terminates the idea of every finite quantity, and as
this terminating idea cannot itself consist of parts or inferior ideas,
otherwise it would be the last of its parts, which finished the idea,
and so on; this is a clear proof, that the ideas of surfaces, lines,
and points, admit not of any division; those of surfaces in depth, of
lines in breadth and depth, and of points in any dimension.

The _schoolmen_ were so sensible of the force of this argument, that
some of them maintained that nature has mixed among those particles of
matter, which are divisible _in infinitum_, a number of mathematical
points in order to give a termination to bodies; and others eluded
the force of this reasoning by a heap of unintelligible cavils and
distinctions. Both these adversaries equally yield the victory. A man
who hides himself confesses as evidently the superiority of his enemy,
as another, who fairly delivers his arms.

Thus it appears, that the definitions of mathematics destroy the
pretended demonstrations; and that if we have the idea of indivisible
points, lines, and surfaces, conformable to the definition, their
existence is certainly possible; but if we have no such idea, 'tis
impossible we can ever conceive the termination of any figure, without
which conception there can be no geometrical demonstration.

But I go farther, and maintain, that none of these demonstrations
can have sufficient weight to establish such a principle as this of
infinite divisibility; and that because with regard to such minute
objects, they are not properly demonstrations, being built on ideas
which are not exact, and maxims which are not precisely true. When
geometry decides any thing concerning the proportions of quantity, we
ought not to look for the utmost _precision_ and exactness. None of
its proofs extend so far: it takes the dimensions and proportions of
figures justly; but roughly, and with some liberty. Its errors are
never considerable, nor would it err at all, did it not aspire to such
an absolute perfection.

I first ask mathematicians what they mean when they say one line or
surface is _equal_ to, or _greater_, or _less_ than another? Let any
of them give an answer, to whatever sect he belongs, and whether he
maintains the composition of extension by indivisible points, or by
quantities divisible _in infinitum_. This question will embarrass both
of them.

There are few or no mathematicians who defend the hypothesis of
indivisible points, and yet these have the readiest and justest answer
to the present question. They need only reply, that lines or surfaces
are equal, when the numbers of points in each are equal; and that as
the proportion of the numbers varies, the proportion of the lines and
surfaces is also varied. But though this answer be _just_ as well as
obvious, yet I may affirm, that this standard of equality is entirely
_useless_, and that it never is from such a comparison we determine
objects to be equal or unequal with respect to each other. For as the
points which enter into the composition of any line or surface, whether
perceived by the sight or touch, are so minute and so confounded with
each other that 'tis utterly impossible for the mind to compute their
number, such a computation will never afford us a standard, by which we
may judge of proportions. No one will ever be able to determine by an
exact enumeration, that an inch has fewer points than a foot, or a foot
fewer than an ell, or any greater measure; for which reason, we seldom
or never consider this as the standard of equality or inequality.

As to those who imagine that extension is divisible _in infinitum_,
'tis impossible they can make use of this answer, or fix the equality
of any line or surface by a numeration of its component parts. For
since, according to their hypothesis, the least as well as greatest
figures contain an infinite number of parts, and since infinite
numbers, properly speaking, can neither be equal _nor_ unequal with
respect to each other, the equality or inequality of any portions
of space can never depend on any proportion in the number of their
parts. 'Tis true, it may be said, that the inequality of an ell and a
yard consists in the different numbers of the feet of which they are
composed, and that of a foot and a yard in the number of inches. But
as that quantity we call an inch in the one is supposed equal to what
we call an inch in the other, and as 'tis impossible for the mind to
find this equality by proceeding _in infinitum_ with these references
to inferior quantities, 'tis evident that at last we must fix some
standard of equality different from an enumeration of the parts.

There are some who pretend,[6] that equality is best defined by
_congruity_, and that any two figures are equal, when upon the placing
of one upon the other, all their parts correspond to and touch each
other. In order to judge of this definition let us consider, that since
equality is a relation, it is not, strictly speaking, a property in the
figures themselves, but arises merely from the comparison which the
mind makes betwixt them. If it consists therefore in this imaginary
application and mutual contact of parts, we must at least have a
distinct notion of these parts, and must conceive their contact. Now
'tis plain, that in this conception, we would run up these parts to the
greatest minuteness which can possibly be conceived, since the contact
of large parts would never render the figures equal. But the minutest
parts we can conceive are mathematical points, and consequently this
standard of equality is the same with that derived from the equality of
the number of points, which we have already determined to be a just
but an useless standard. We must therefore look to some other quarter
for a solution of the present difficulty.

There are many philosophers, who refuse to assign any standard of
_equality_, but assert, that 'tis sufficient to present two objects,
that are equal, in order to give us a just notion of this proportion.
All definitions, say they, are fruitless without the perception of such
objects; and where we perceive such objects we no longer stand in need
of any definition. To this reasoning I entirely agree; and assert, that
the only useful notion of equality, or inequality, is derived from the
whole united appearance and the comparison of particular objects.

'Tis evident that the eye, or rather the mind, is often able at one
view to determine the proportions of bodies, and pronounce them equal
to, or greater or less than each other, without examining or comparing
the number of their minute parts. Such judgments are not only common,
but in many cases certain and infallible. When the measure of a yard
and that of a foot are presented, the mind can no more question,
that the first is longer than the second, than it can doubt of those
principles which are the most clear and self-evident.

There are therefore three proportions, which the mind distinguishes
in the general appearance of its objects, and calls by the names of
_greater, less_, and _equal_. But though its decisions concerning
these proportions be sometimes infallible, they are not always so;
nor are our judgments of this kind more exempt from doubt and error
than those on any other subject. We frequently correct our first
opinion by a review and reflection; and pronounce those objects to
be equal, which at first we esteemed unequal; and regard an object
as less, though before it appeared greater than another. Nor is this
the only correction which these judgments of our senses undergo; but
we often discover our error by a juxta-position of the objects; or,
where that is impracticable, by the use of some common and invariable
measure, which, being successively applied to each, informs us of their
different proportions. And even this correction is susceptible of a new
correction, and of different degrees of exactness, according to the
nature of the instrument by which we measure the bodies, and the care
which we employ in the comparison.

When therefore the mind is accustomed to these judgments and their
corrections, and finds that the same proportion which makes two figures
have in the eye that appearance, which we call _equality_, makes them
also correspond to each other, and to any common measure with which
they are compared, we form a mixed notion of equality derived both from
the looser and stricter methods of comparison. But we are not content
with this. For as sound reason convinces us that there are bodies
_vastly_ more minute than those which appear to the senses; and as a
false reason would persuade us, that there are bodies _infinitely_ more
minute, we clearly perceive that we are not possessed of any instrument
or art of measuring which can secure us from all error and uncertainty.
We are sensible that the addition or removal of one of these minute
parts is not discernible either in the appearance or measuring; and as
we imagine that two figures, which were equal before, cannot be equal
after this removal or addition, we therefore suppose some imaginary
standard of equality, by which the appearances and measuring are
exactly corrected, and the figures reduced entirely to that proportion.
This standard is plainly imaginary. For as the very idea of equality
is that of such a particular appearance, corrected by juxta-position
or a common measure, the notion of any correction beyond what we
have instruments and art to make, is a mere fiction of the mind, and
useless as well as incomprehensible. But though this standard be only
imaginary, the fiction however is very natural; nor is any thing more
usual, than for the mind to proceed after this manner with any action,
even after the reason has ceased, which first determined it to begin.
This appears very conspicuously with regard to time; where, though
'tis evident we have no exact method of determining the proportions of
parts, not even so exact as in extension, yet the various corrections
of our measures, and their different degrees of exactness, have given
us an obscure and implicit notion of a perfect and entire equality. The
case is the same in many other subjects. A musician, finding his ear
become every day more delicate, and correcting himself by reflection
and attention, proceeds with the same act of the mind even when the
subject fails him, and entertains a notion of a complete _tierce_ or
_octave_, without being able to tell whence he derives his standard. A
painter forms the same fiction with regard to colours; a mechanic with
regard to motion. To the one _light_ and _shade_, to the other _swift_
and _slow_, are imagined to be capable of an exact comparison and
equality beyond the judgments of the senses.

We may apply the same reasoning to _curve_ and _right_ lines. Nothing
is more apparent to the senses than the distinction betwixt a curve
and a right line; nor are there any ideas we more easily form than
the ideas of these objects. But however easily we may form these
ideas, 'tis impossible to produce any definition of them, which will
fix the precise boundaries betwixt them. When we draw lines upon
paper or any continued surface, there is a certain order by which
the lines run along from one point to another, that they may produce
the entire impression of a curve or right line; but this order is
perfectly unknown, and nothing is observed but the united appearance.
Thus, even upon the system of indivisible points, we can only form a
distant notion of some unknown standard to these objects. Upon that of
infinite divisibility we cannot go even this length, but are reduced
merely to the general appearance, as the rule by which we determine
lines to be either curve or right ones. But though we can give no
perfect definition of these lines, nor produce any very exact method
of distinguishing the one from the other, yet this hinders us not from
correcting the first appearance by a more accurate consideration, and
by a comparison with some rule, of whose rectitude, from repeated
trials, we have a greater assurance. And 'tis from these corrections,
and by carrying on the same action of the mind, even when its reason
fails us, that we form the loose idea of a perfect standard to these
figures, without being able to explain or comprehend it.

'Tis true, mathematicians pretend they give an exact definition of
a right line when they say, _it is the shortest way betwixt two
points_. But in the first place I observe, that this is more properly
the discovery of one of the properties of a right line, than a just
definition of it. For I ask any one, if, upon mention of a right line,
he thinks not immediately on such a particular appearance, and if 'tis
not by accident only that he considers this property? A right line can
be comprehended alone; but this definition is unintelligible without a
comparison with other lines, which we conceive to be more extended. In
common life 'tis established as a maxim, that the straightest way is
always the shortest; which would be as absurd as to say, the shortest
way is always the shortest, if our idea of a right line was not
different from that of the shortest way betwixt two points.

Secondly, I repeat, what I have already established, that we have no
precise idea of equality and inequality, shorter and longer, more than
of a right line or a curve; and consequently that the one can never
afford us a perfect standard for the other. An exact idea can never be
built on such as are loose and undeterminate.

The idea of a _plain surface_ is as little susceptible of a precise
standard as that of a right line; nor have we any other means of
distinguishing such a surface, than its general appearance. 'Tis in
vain that mathematicians represent a plain surface as produced by the
flowing of a right line. 'Twill immediately be objected, that our idea
of a surface is as independent of this method of forming a surface, as
our idea of an ellipse is of that of a cone; that the idea of a right
line is no more precise than that of a plain surface; that a right line
may flow irregularly, and by that means form a figure quite different
from a plane; and that therefore we must suppose it to flow along two
right lines, parallel to each other, and on the same plane; which is a
description that explains a thing by itself, and returns in a circle.

It appears then, that the ideas which are most essential to geometry,
viz. those of equality and inequality, of a right line and a plain
surface, are far from being exact and determinate, according to our
common method of conceiving them. Not only we are incapable of telling
if the case be in any degree doubtful, when such particular figures are
equal; when such a line is a right one, and such a surface a plain one;
but we can form no idea of that proportion, or of these figures, which
is firm and invariable. Our appeal is still to the weak and fallible
judgment, which we make from the appearance of the objects, and correct
by a compass, or common measure; and if we join the supposition of
any farther correction, 'tis of such a one as is either useless or
imaginary. In vain should we have recourse to the common topic, and
employ the supposition of a Deity, whose omnipotence may enable him to
form a perfect geometrical figure, and describe a right line without
any curve or inflection. As the ultimate standard of these figures is
derived from nothing but the senses and imagination, 'tis absurd to
talk of any perfection beyond what these faculties can judge of; since
the true perfection of any thing consists in its conformity to its

Now, since these ideas are so loose and uncertain, I would fain ask
any mathematician, what infallible assurance he has, not only of
the more intricate and obscure propositions of his science, but of
the most vulgar and obvious principles? How can he prove to me, for
instance, that two right lines cannot have one common segment? Or
that 'tis impossible to draw more than one right line betwixt any two
points? Should he tell me, that these opinions are obviously absurd,
and repugnant to our clear ideas; I would answer, that I do not
deny, where two right lines incline upon each other with a sensible
angle, but 'tis absurd to imagine them to have a common segment. But
supposing these two lines to approach at the rate of an inch in twenty
leagues, I perceive no absurdity in asserting, that upon their contact
they become one. For, I beseech you, by what rule or standard do you
judge, when you assert that the line, in which I have supposed them to
concur, cannot make the same right line with those two, that form so
small an angle betwixt them? You must surely have some idea of a right
line, to which this line does not agree. Do you therefore mean, that
it takes not the points in the same order and by the same rule, as is
peculiar and essential to a right line? If so, I must inform you, that
besides that, in judging after this manner, you allow that extension
is composed of indivisible points (which, perhaps, is more than you
intend), besides this, I say, I must inform you, that neither is this
the standard from which we form the idea of a right line; nor, if it
were, is there any such firmness in our senses or imagination, as to
determine when such an order is violated or preserved. The original
standard of a right line is in reality nothing but a certain general
appearance; and 'tis evident right lines may be made to concur with
each other, and yet correspond to this standard, though corrected by
all the means either practicable or imaginable.

To whatever side mathematicians turn, this dilemma still meets them.
If they judge of equality, or any other proportion, by the accurate
and exact standard, viz. the enumeration of the minute indivisible
parts, they both employ a standard, which is useless in practice,
and actually establish the indivisibility of extension, which they
endeavour to explode. Or if they employ, as is usual, the inaccurate
standard, derived from a comparison of objects, upon their general
appearance, corrected by measuring and juxtaposition; their first
principles, though certain and infallible, are too coarse to afford
any such subtile inferences as they commonly draw from them. The first
principles are founded on the imagination and senses; the conclusion
therefore can never go beyond, much less contradict, these faculties.

This may open our eyes a little, and let us see, that no geometrical
demonstration for the infinite divisibility of extension can have so
much force as what we naturally attribute to every argument, which
is supported by such magnificent pretensions. At the same time we
may learn the reason, why geometry fails of evidence in this single
point, while all its other reasonings command our fullest assent and
approbation. And indeed it seems more requisite to give the reason
of this exception, than to show that we really must make such an
exception, and regard all the mathematical arguments for infinite
divisibility as utterly sophistical. For 'tis evident, that as no idea
of quantity is infinitely divisible, there cannot be imagined a more
glaring absurdity, than to endeavour to prove, that quantity itself
admits of such a division; and to prove this by means of ideas, which
are directly opposite in that particular. And as this absurdity is
very glaring in itself, so there is no argument founded on it, which
is not attended with a new absurdity, and involves not an evident

I might give as instances those arguments for infinite divisibility,
which are derived from the _point of contact_. I know there is no
mathematician, who will not refuse to be judged by the diagrams he
describes upon paper, these being loose draughts, as he will tell us,
and serving only to convey with greater facility certain ideas, which
are the true foundation of all our reasoning. This I am satisfied with,
and am willing to rest the controversy merely upon these ideas. I
desire therefore our mathematician to form, as accurately as possible,
the ideas of a circle and a right line; and I then ask, if upon the
conception of their contact he can conceive them as touching in a
mathematical point, or if he must necessarily imagine them to concur
for some space. Whichever side he chooses, he runs himself into equal
difficulties. If he affirms, that in tracing these figures in his
imagination, he can imagine them to touch only in a point, he allows
the possibility of that idea, and consequently of the thing. If he
says, that in his conception of the contact of those lines he must
make them concur, he thereby acknowledges the fallacy of geometrical
demonstrations, when carried beyond a certain degree of minuteness;
since, 'tis certain he has such demonstrations against the concurrence
of a circle and a right line; that is, in other words, he can prove an
idea, viz. that of concurrence, to be _incompatible_ with two other
ideas, viz. those of a circle and right line; though at the same time
he acknowledges these ideas to be _inseparable_.

[5] L'Art de penser.

[6] See Dr Barrow's Mathematical Lectures.



If the second part of my system be true, _that the idea of space
or extension is nothing but the idea of visible or tangible points
distributed in a certain order_, it follows, that we can form no idea
of a vacuum, or space, where there is nothing visible or tangible. This
gives rise to three objections, which I shall examine together, because
the answer I shall give to one is a consequence of that which I shall
make use of for the others.

First, it may be said, that men have disputed for many ages concerning
a vacuum and a plenum, without being able to bring the affair to a
final decision: and philosophers, even at this day, think themselves
at liberty to take party on either side, as their fancy leads them.
But whatever foundation there may be for a controversy concerning
the things themselves, it may be pretended that the very dispute is
decisive concerning the idea, and that 'tis impossible men could so
long reason about a vacuum, and either refute or defend it, without
having a notion of what they refuted or defended.

Secondly, if this argument should be contested, the reality, or at
least possibility, of the _idea_ of a vacuum, may be proved by the
following reasoning. Every idea is possible which is a necessary and
infallible consequence of such as are possible. Now, though we allow
the world to be at present a plenum, we may easily conceive it to be
deprived of motion; and this idea will certainly be allowed possible.
It must also be allowed possible, to conceive the annihilation of
any part of matter by the omnipotence of the Deity, while the other
parts remain at rest. For as every idea that is distinguishable is
separable by the imagination, and as every idea that is separable
by the imagination may be conceived to be separately existent, 'tis
evident, that the existence of one particle of matter no more implies
the existence of another, than a square figure in one body implies
a square figure in every one. This being granted, I now demand what
results from the concurrence of these two possible ideas of _rest_
and _annihilation_, and what must we conceive to follow upon the
annihilation of all the air and subtile matter in the chamber,
supposing the walls to remain the same, without any motion or
alteration? There are some metaphysicians who answer, that since matter
and extension are the same, the annihilation of the one necessarily
implies that of the other; and there being now no distance betwixt the
walls of the chamber, they touch each other; in the same manner as my
hand touches the paper which is immediately before me. But though this
answer be very common, I defy these metaphysicians to conceive the
matter according to their hypothesis, or imagine the floor and roof,
with all the opposite sides of the chamber, to touch each other, while
they continue in rest, and preserve the same position. For how can
the two walls, that run from south to north, touch each other, while
they touch the opposite ends of two walls that run from east to west?
And how can the floor and roof ever meet, while they are separated by
the four walls that lie in a contrary position? If you change their
position, you suppose a motion. If you conceive any thing betwixt them,
you suppose a new creation. But keeping strictly to the two ideas of
_rest_ and _annihilation_, 'tis evident, that the idea which results
from them is not that of a contact of parts, but something else, which
is concluded to be the idea of a vacuum.

The third objection carries the matter still farther, and not only
asserts, that the idea of a vacuum is real and possible, but also
necessary and unavoidable. This assertion is founded on the motion we
observe in bodies, which, 'tis maintained, would be impossible and
inconceivable without a vacuum, into which one body must move in order
to make way for another. I shall not enlarge upon this objection,
because it principally belongs to natural philosophy, which lies
without our present sphere.

In order to answer these objections, we must take the matter pretty
deep, and consider the nature and origin of several ideas, lest we
dispute without understanding perfectly the subject of the controversy.
'Tis evident the idea of darkness is no positive idea, but merely the
negation of light, or, more properly speaking, of coloured and visible
objects. A man who enjoys his sight, receives no other perception from
turning his eyes on every side, when entirely deprived of light, than
what is common to him with one born blind; and 'tis certain such a one
has no idea either of light or darkness. The consequence of this is,
that 'tis not from the mere removal of visible objects we receive the
impression of extension without matter; and that the idea of utter
darkness can never be the same with that of vacuum.

Suppose again a man to be supported in the air, and to be softly
conveyed along by some invisible power; 'tis evident he is sensible
of nothing, and never receives the idea of extension, nor indeed any
idea, from this invariable motion. Even supposing he moves his limbs to
and fro, this cannot convey to him that idea. He feels in that case a
certain sensation or impression, the parts of which are successive to
each other, and may give him the idea of time, but certainly are not
disposed in such a manner as is necessary to convey the idea of space
or extension.

Since, then, it appears that darkness and motion, with the utter
removal of every thing visible and tangible, can never give us the idea
of extension without matter, or of a vacuum; the next question is,
whether they can convey this idea, when mixed with something visible
and tangible?

'Tis commonly allowed by philosophers, that all bodies which discover
themselves to the eye, appear as if painted on a plain surface,
and that their different degrees of remoteness from ourselves are
discovered more by reason than by the senses. When I hold up my hand
before me, and spread my fingers, they are separated as perfectly by
the blue colour of the firmament, as they could be by any visible
object which I could place betwixt them. In order, therefore, to know
whether the sight can convey the impression and idea of a vacuum, we
must suppose, that amidst an entire darkness, there are luminous bodies
presented to us, whose light discovers only these bodies themselves,
without giving us any impression of the surrounding objects.

We must form a parallel supposition concerning the objects of our
feeling. 'Tis not proper to suppose a perfect removal of all tangible
objects: we must allow something to be perceived by the feeling; and
after an interval and motion of the hand or other organ of sensation,
another object of the touch to be met with; and upon leaving that,
another; and so on, as often as we please. The question is, whether
these intervals do not afford us the idea of extension without body.

To begin with the first case; 'tis evident, that when only two luminous
bodies appear to the eye, we can perceive whether they be conjoined or
separate; whether they be separated by a great or small distance; and
if this distance varies, we can perceive its increase or diminution,
with the motion of the bodies. But as the distance is not in this case
any thing coloured or visible, it may be thought that there is here
a vacuum or pure extension, not only intelligible to the mind, but
obvious to the very senses.

This is our natural and most familiar way of thinking, but which we
shall learn to correct by a little reflection. We may observe, that
when two bodies present themselves, where there was formerly an entire
darkness, the only change that is discoverable is in the appearance of
these two objects, and that all the rest continues to be as before, a
perfect negation of light, and of every coloured or visible object.
This is not only true of what may be said to be remote from these
bodies, but also of the very distance which is interposed betwixt them;
_that_ being nothing but darkness, or the negation of light; without
parts, without composition, invariable and indivisible. Now, since
this distance causes no perception different from what a blind man
receives from his eyes, or what is conveyed to us in the darkest night,
it must partake of the same properties; and as blindness and darkness
afford us no ideas of extension, 'tis impossible that the dark and
undistinguishable distance betwixt two bodies can ever produce that

The sole difference betwixt an absolute darkness and the appearance
of two or more visible luminous objects consists, as I said, in the
objects themselves, and in the manner they affect our senses. The
angles, which the rays of light flowing from them form with each other;
the motion that is required in the eye, in its passage from one to
the other; and the different parts of the organs which are affected
by them; these produce the only perceptions from which we can judge
of the distance. But as these perceptions are each of them simple and
indivisible, they can never give us the idea of extension.

We may illustrate this by considering the sense of feeling, and the
imaginary distance or interval interposed betwixt tangible or solid
objects. I suppose two cases, viz. that of a man supported in the air,
and moving his limbs to and fro, without meeting any thing tangible;
and that of a man, who, feeling something tangible, leaves it, and,
after a motion of which he is sensible, perceives another tangible
object; and I then ask, wherein consists the difference betwixt these
two cases? No one will make any scruple to affirm, that it consists
merely in the perceiving those objects, and that the sensation,
which arises from the motion, is in both cases the same; and as that
sensation is not capable of conveying to us an idea of extension, when
unaccompanied with some other perception, it can no more give us that
idea, when mixed with the impressions of tangible objects, since that
mixture produces no alteration upon it.

But though motion and darkness, either alone or attended with tangible
and visible objects, convey no idea of a vacuum or extension without
matter, yet they are the causes why we falsely imagine we can form
such an idea. For there is a close relation betwixt that motion and
darkness, and a real extension, or composition of visible and tangible

First, we may observe, that two visible objects, appearing in the midst
of utter darkness, affect the senses in the same manner, and form the
same angle by the rays which flow from them, and meet in the eye, as if
the distance betwixt them were filled with visible objects, that give
us a true idea of extension. The sensation of motion is likewise the
same, when there is nothing tangible interposed betwixt two bodies, as
when we feel a compounded body, whose different parts are placed beyond
each other.

Secondly, we find by experience, that two bodies, which are so placed
as to affect the senses in the same manner with two others, that have
a certain extent of visible objects interposed betwixt them, are
capable of receiving the same extent, without any sensible impulse or
penetration, and without any change on that angle, under which they
appear to the senses. In like manner, where there is one object, which
we cannot feel after another without an interval, and the perceiving
of that sensation we call motion in our hand or organ of sensation;
experience shews us, that 'tis possible the same object may be felt
with the same sensation of motion, along with the interposed impression
of solid and tangible objects, attending the sensation. That is, in
other words, an invisible and intangible distance may be converted into
a visible and tangible one, without any change on the distant objects.

Thirdly, we may observe, as another relation betwixt these two
kinds of distance, that they have nearly the same effects on every
natural phenomenon. For as all qualities, such as heat, cold, light,
attraction, &c. diminish in proportion to the distance; there is but
little difference observed, whether this distance be marked out by
compounded and sensible objects, or be known only by the manner in
which the distant objects affect the senses.

Here then are three relations betwixt that distance, which conveys
the idea of extension, and that other, which is not filled with any
coloured or solid object. The distant objects affect the senses in the
same manner, whether separated by the one distance or the other; the
second species of distance is found capable of receiving the first; and
they both equally diminish the force of every quality.

These relations betwixt the two kinds of distance, will afford us an
easy reason why the one has so often been taken for the other, and
why we imagine we have an idea of extension without the idea of any
object either of the sight or feeling. For we may establish it as a
general maxim in this science of human nature, that wherever there is
a close relation betwixt two ideas, the mind is very apt to mistake
them, and in all its discourses and reasonings to use the one for the
other. This phenomenon occurs on so many occasions, and is of such
consequence, that I cannot forbear stopping a moment to examine its
causes. I shall only premise, that we must distinguish exactly betwixt
the phenomenon itself, and the causes which I shall assign for it; and
must not imagine, from any uncertainty in the latter, that the former
is also uncertain. The phenomenon may be real, though my explication be
chimerical. The falsehood of the one is no consequence of that of the
other; though at the same time we may observe, that 'tis very natural
for us to draw such a consequence; which is an evident instance of that
very principle, which I endeavour to explain.

When I received the relations of _resemblance, contiguity_, and
_causation_, as principles of union among ideas, without examining
into their causes, 'twas more in prosecution of my first maxim, that
we must in the end rest contented with experience, than for want of
something specious and plausible, which I might have displayed on that
subject. 'Twould have been easy to have made an imaginary dissection
of the brain, and have shown, why, upon our conception of any idea,
the animal spirits run into all the contiguous traces, and rouze up
the other ideas that are related to it. But though I have neglected
any advantage, which I might have drawn from this topic in explaining
the relations of ideas, I am afraid I must here have recourse to it,
in order to account for the mistakes that arise from these relations.
I shall therefore observe, that as the mind is endowed with a power of
exciting any idea it pleases; whenever it despatches the spirits into
that region of the brain, in which the idea is placed; these spirits
always excite the idea, when they run precisely into the proper traces,
and rummage that cell, which belongs to the idea. But as their motion
is seldom direct, and naturally turns a little to the one side or the
other; for this reason the animal spirits, falling into the contiguous
traces, present other related ideas, in lieu of that which the mind
desired at first to survey. This change we are not always sensible of;
but continuing still the same train of thought, make use of the related
idea, which is presented to us, and employ it in our reasoning, as
if it were the same with what we demanded. This is the cause of many
mistakes and sophisms in philosophy; as will naturally be imagined,
and as it would be easy to show, if there was occasion.

Of the three relations above-mentioned that of resemblance is the
most fertile source of error; and indeed there are few mistakes in
reasoning, which do not borrow largely from that origin. Resembling
ideas are not only related together, but the actions of the mind,
which we employ in considering them, are so little different, that we
are not able to distinguish them. This last circumstance is of great
consequence; and we may in general observe, that wherever the actions
of the mind in forming any two ideas are the same or resembling, we
are very apt to confound these ideas, and take the one for the other.
Of this we shall see many instances in the progress of this treatise.
But though resemblance be the relation, which most readily produces a
mistake in ideas, yet the others of causation and contiguity may also
concur in the same influence. We might produce the figures of poets
and orators, as sufficient proofs of this, were it as usual as it
is reasonable, in metaphysical subjects, to draw our arguments from
that quarter. But lest metaphysicians should esteem this below their
dignity, I shall borrow a proof from an observation, which may be made
on most of their own discourses, viz. that 'tis usual for men to use
words for ideas, and to talk instead of thinking in their reasonings.
We use words for ideas, because they are commonly so closely connected,
that the mind easily mistakes them. And this likewise is the reason,
why we substitute the idea of a distance, which is not considered
either as visible or tangible, in the room of extension, which is
nothing but a composition of visible or tangible points disposed in a
certain order. In causing this mistake there concur both the relations
of _causation_ and _resemblance_. As the first species of distance is
found to be convertible into the second, 'tis in this respect a kind of
cause; and the similarity of their manner of affecting the senses, and
diminishing every quality, forms the relation of resemblance.

After this chain of reasoning and explication of my principles, I am
now prepared to answer all the objections that have been offered,
whether derived from _metaphysics_ or _mechanics_. The frequent
disputes concerning a vacuum, or extension without matter, prove not
the reality of the idea, upon which the dispute turns; there being
nothing more common, than to see men deceive themselves in this
particular; especially when, by means of any close relation, there is
another idea presented, which may be the occasion of their mistake.

We may make almost the same answer to the second objection, derived
from the conjunction of the ideas of rest and annihilation. When every
thing is annihilated in the chamber, and the walls continue immovable,
the chamber must be conceived much in the same manner as at present,
when the air that fills it is not an object of the senses. This
annihilation leaves to the _eye_ that fictitious distance, which is
discovered by the different parts of the organ that are affected, and
by the degrees of light and shade; and to the _feeling_, that which
consists in a sensation of motion in the hand, or other member of the
body. In vain should we search any farther. On whichever side we turn
this subject, we shall find that these are the only impressions such an
object can produce after the supposed annihilation; and it has already
been remarked, that impressions can give rise to no ideas, but to such
as resemble them.

Since a body interposed betwixt two others may be supposed to be
annihilated, without producing any change upon such as lie on each
hand of it, 'tis easily conceived, how it may be created anew, and
yet produce as little alteration. Now the motion of a body has much
the same effect as its creation. The distant bodies are no more
affected in the one case, than in the other. This suffices to satisfy
the imagination, and proves there is no repugnance in such a motion.
Afterwards experience comes in play to persuade us that two bodies,
situated in the manner above described, have really such a capacity
of receiving body betwixt them, and that there is no obstacle to the
conversion of the invisible and intangible distance into one that is
visible and tangible. However natural that conversion may seem, we
cannot be sure it is practicable, before we have had experience of it.

Thus I seem to have answered the three objections above mentioned;
though at the same time I am sensible, that few will be satisfied
with these answers, but will immediately propose new objections and
difficulties. 'Twill probably be said, that my reasoning makes nothing
to the matter in hand, and that I explain only the manner in which
objects affect the senses, without endeavouring to account for their
real nature and operations. Though there be nothing visible or tangible
interposed betwixt two bodies, yet we find _by experience_, that the
bodies may be placed in the same manner, with regard to the eye, and
require the same motion of the hand in passing from one to the other,
as if divided by something visible and tangible. This invisible and
intangible distance is also found _by experience_ to contain a capacity
of receiving body, or of becoming visible and tangible. Here is the
whole of my system; and in no part of it have I endeavoured to explain
the cause, which separates bodies after this manner, and gives them
a capacity of receiving others betwixt them, without any impulse or

I answer this objection, by pleading guilty, and by confessing that
my intention never was to penetrate into the nature of bodies, or
explain the secret causes of their operations. For, besides that this
belongs not to my present purpose, I am afraid, that such an enterprise
is beyond the reach of human understanding, and that we can never
pretend to know body otherwise than by those external properties,
which discover themselves to the senses. As to those who attempt any
thing farther, I cannot approve of their ambition, till I see, in
some one instance at least, that they have met with success. But at
present I content myself with knowing perfectly the manner in which
objects affect my senses, and their connexions with each other, as far
as experience informs me of them. This suffices for the conduct of
life; and this also suffices for my philosophy, which pretends only to
explain the nature and causes of our perceptions, or impressions and

I shall conclude this subject of extension with a paradox, which will
easily be explained from the foregoing reasoning. This paradox is, that
if you are pleased to give to the invisible and intangible distance,
or in other words, to the capacity of becoming a visible and tangible
distance, the name of a vacuum, extension and matter are the same,
and yet there is a vacuum. If you will not give it that name, motion
is possible in a plenum, without any impulse _in infinitum_, without
returning in a circle, and without penetration. But however we may
express ourselves, we must always confess, that we have no idea of any
real extension without filling it with sensible objects, and conceiving
its parts as visible or tangible.

As to the doctrine, that time is nothing but the manner in which some
real objects exist; we may observe, that 'tis liable to the same
objections as the similar doctrine with regard to extension. If it
be a sufficient proof, that we have the idea of a vacuum, because we
dispute and reason concerning it; we must for the same reason have
the idea of time without any changeable existence; since there is no
subject of dispute more frequent and common. But that we really have
no such idea, is certain. For whence should it be derived? Does it
arise from an impression of sensation or of reflection? Point it out
distinctly to us, that we may know its nature and qualities. But if
you cannot point out _any such impression_, you may be certain you are
mistaken, when you imagine you have _any such idea_.

But though it be impossible to show the impression, from which the idea
of time without a changeable existence is derived, yet we can easily
point out those appearances, which make us fancy we have that idea. For
we may observe, that there is a continual succession of perceptions in
our mind; so that the idea of time being for ever present with us, when
we consider a stedfast object at five o'clock, and regard the same at
six, we are apt to apply to it that idea in the same manner as if every
moment were distinguished by a different position, or an alteration
of the object. The first and second appearances of the object, being
compared with the succession of our perceptions, seem equally removed
as if the object had really changed. To which we may add, what
experience shows us, that the object was susceptible of such a number
of changes betwixt these appearances; as also that the unchangeable
or rather fictitious duration has the same effect upon every quality,
by increasing or diminishing it, as that succession which is obvious
to the senses. From these three relations we are apt to confound our
ideas, and imagine we can form the idea of a time and duration,
without any change or succession.

[7] As long as we confine our speculations to _the appearances_ of
objects to our senses, without entering into disquisitions concerning
their real nature and operations, we are safe from all difficulties,
and can never be embarrassed by any question. Thus, if it be asked, if
the invisible and intangible distance, interposed betwixt two objects,
be something or nothing: 'tis easy to answer, that it is _something_,
viz. a property of the objects, which affect the _senses_ after such
a particular manner. If it be asked, whether two objects, having such
a distance betwixt them, touch or not: it may be answered, that this
depends upon the definition of the word _touch_. If objects be said to
touch, when there is nothing _sensible_ interposed betwixt them, these
objects touch: If objects be said to touch, when their _images_ strike
contiguous parts of the eye, and when the hand _feels_ both objects
successively, without any interposed motion, these objects do not
touch. The appearances of objects to our senses are all consistent; and
no difficulties can ever arise, but from the obscurity of the terms we
make use of.

If we carry our inquiry beyond the appearances of objects to the
senses, I am afraid, that most of our conclusions will be full of
scepticism and uncertainty. Thus, if it be asked, whether or not the
invisible and intangible distance be always full of _body_, or of
something that by an improvement of our organs might become visible or
tangible, I must acknowledge, that I find no very decisive arguments
on either side: though I am inclined to the contrary opinion, as
being more suitable to vulgar and popular notions. If _the Newtonian_
philosophy be rightly understood, it will be found to mean no more.
A vacuum is asserted; that is, bodies are said to be placed after
such a manner as to receive bodies betwixt them, without impulsion or
penetration. The real nature of this position of bodies is unknown.
We are only acquainted with its effects on the senses, and its power
of receiving body. Nothing is more suitable to that philosophy, than
a modest scepticism to a certain degree, and a fair confession of
ignorance in subjects that exceed all human capacity.



It may not be amiss, before we leave this subject, to explain the
ideas of _existence_ and of _external existence_; which have their
difficulties, as well as the ideas of space and time. By this means
we shall be the better prepared for the examination of knowledge and
probability, when we understand perfectly all those particular ideas,
which may enter into our reasoning.

There is no impression nor idea of any kind, of which we have any
consciousness or memory, that is not conceived as existent; and 'tis
evident that, from this consciousness, the most perfect idea and
assurance of _being_ is derived. From hence we may form a dilemma, the
most clear and conclusive that can be imagined, viz. that since we
never remember any idea or impression without attributing existence
to it, the idea of existence must either be derived from a distinct
impression, conjoined with every perception or object of our thought,
or must be the very same with the idea of the perception or object.

As this dilemma is an evident consequence of the principle, that every
idea arises from a similar impression, so our decision betwixt the
propositions of the dilemma is no more doubtful. So far from there
being any distinct impression attending every impression and every
idea, that I do not think there are any two distinct impressions which
are inseparably conjoined. Though certain sensations may at one time
be united, we quickly find they admit of a separation, and may be
presented apart. And thus, though every impression and idea we remember
be considered as existent, the idea of existence is not derived from
any particular impression.

The idea of existence, then, is the very same with the idea of what we
conceive to be existent. To reflect on any thing simply, and to reflect
on it as existent, are nothing different from each other. That idea,
when conjoined with the idea of any object, makes no addition to it.
Whatever we conceive, we conceive to be existent. Any idea we please
to form is the idea of a being; and the idea of a being is any idea we
please to form.

Whoever opposes this, must necessarily point out that distinct
impression, from which the idea of entity is derived, and must prove,
that this impression is inseparable from every perception we believe to
be existent. This we may without hesitation conclude to be impossible.

Our foregoing reasoning[8] concerning the _distinction_ of ideas
without any real _difference_ will not here serve us in any stead. That
kind of distinction is founded on the different resemblances, which the
same simple idea may have to several different ideas. But no object can
be presented resembling some object with respect to its existence, and
different from others in the same particular; since every object that
is presented, must necessarily be existent.

A like reasoning will account for the idea of _external existence_.
We may observe, that 'tis universally allowed by philosophers, and is
besides pretty obvious of itself, that nothing is ever really present
with the mind but its perceptions or impressions and ideas, and that
external objects become known to us only by those perceptions they
occasion. To hate, to love, to think, to feel, to see; all this is
nothing but to perceive.

Now, since nothing is ever present to the mind but perceptions, and
since all ideas are derived from something antecedently present to
the mind; it follows, that 'tis impossible for us so much as to
conceive or form an idea of any thing specifically different from
ideas and impressions. Let us fix our attention out of ourselves as
much as possible; let us chase our imagination to the heavens, or to
the utmost limits of the universe; we never really advance a step
beyond ourselves, nor can conceive any kind of existence, but those
perceptions, which have appeared in that narrow compass. This is the
universe of the imagination, nor have we any idea but what is there

The farthest we can go towards a conception of external objects, when
supposed _specifically_ different from our perceptions, is to form a
relative idea of them, without pretending to comprehend the related
objects. Generally speaking, we do not suppose them specifically
different; but only attribute to them different relations, connexions,
and durations. But of this more fully hereafter.[9]

[8] Part I. Sect. 7.

[9] Part VI. Sect. 2.





There are seven different kinds of philosophical relation,[1] viz.
_resemblance, identity, relations of time and place, proportion
in quantity or number, degrees in any quality, contrariety, and
causation_. These relations may be divided into two classes; into
such as depend entirely on the ideas, which we compare together, and
such as may be changed without any change in the ideas. 'Tis from
the idea of a triangle, that we discover the relation of equality,
which its three angles bear to two right ones; and this relation is
invariable, as long as our idea remains the same. On the contrary, the
relations of _contiguity_ and _distance_ betwixt two objects may be
changed merely by an alteration of their place, without any change on
the objects themselves or on their ideas; and the place depends on a
hundred different accidents, which cannot be foreseen by the mind.
'Tis the same case with _identity_ and _causation_. Two objects, though
perfectly resembling each other, and even appearing in the same place
at different times, may be numerically different: and as the power, by
which one object produces another, is never discoverable merely from
their idea, 'tis evident _cause_ and _effect_ are relations, of which
we receive information from experience, and not from any abstract
reasoning or reflection. There is no single phenomenon, even the most
simple, which can be accounted for from the qualities of the objects,
as they appear to us; or which we could foresee without the help of our
memory and experience.

It appears therefore that of these seven philosophical relations, there
remain only four, which depending solely upon ideas, can be the objects
of knowledge and certainty. These four are _resemblance, contrariety,
degrees in quality, and proportions in quantity or number_. Three
of these relations are discoverable at first sight, and fall more
properly under the province of intuition than demonstration. When any
objects _resemble_ each other, the resemblance will at first strike
the eye, or rather the mind; and seldom requires a second examination.
The case is the same with _contrariety_, and with the _degrees_ of
any _quality_. No one can once doubt but existence and non-existence
destroy each other, and are perfectly incompatible and contrary. And
though it be impossible to judge exactly of the degrees of any quality,
such as colour, taste, heat, cold, when the difference betwixt them is
very small; yet 'tis easy to decide, that any of them is superior or
inferior to another, when their difference is considerable. And this
decision we always pronounce at first sight, without any inquiry or

We might proceed, after the same manner, in fixing the _proportions_
of _quantity_ or _number_, and might at one view observe a superiority
or inferiority betwixt any numbers, or figures; especially where the
difference is very great and remarkable. As to equality or any exact
proportion, we can only guess at it from a single consideration; except
in very short numbers, or very limited portions of extension; which are
comprehended in an instant, and where we perceive an impossibility of
falling into any considerable error. In all other cases we must settle
the proportions with some liberty, or proceed in a more _artificial_

I have already observed, that geometry, or the _art_ by which we fix
the proportions of figures; though it much excels both in universality
and exactness, the loose judgments of the senses and imagination; yet
never attains a perfect precision and exactness. Its first principles
are still drawn from the general appearance of the objects; and that
appearance can never afford us any security, when we examine the
prodigious minuteness of which nature is susceptible. Our ideas seem
to give a perfect assurance, that no two right lines can have a common
segment; but if we consider these ideas, we shall find, that they
always suppose a sensible inclination of the two lines, and that where
the angle they form is extremely small, we have no standard of a right
line so precise as to assure us of the truth of this proposition. 'Tis
the same case with most of the primary decisions of the mathematics.

There remain therefore algebra and arithmetic as the only sciences, in
which we can carry on a chain of reasoning to any degree of intricacy,
and yet preserve a perfect exactness and certainty. We are possessed
of a precise standard, by which we can judge of the equality and
proportion of numbers; and according as they correspond or not to that
standard, we determine their relations, without any possibility of
error. When two numbers are so combined, as that the one has always an
unite answering to every unite of the other, we pronounce them equal;
and 'tis for want of such a standard of equality in extension, that
geometry can scarce be esteemed a perfect and infallible science.

But here it may not be amiss to obviate a difficulty, which may
arise from my asserting, that though geometry falls short of that
perfect precision and certainty, which are peculiar to arithmetic
and algebra, yet it excels the imperfect judgments of our senses and
imagination. The reason why I impute any defect to geometry, is,
because its original and fundamental principles are derived merely from
appearances; and it may perhaps be imagined, that this defect must
always attend it, and keep it from ever reaching a greater exactness in
the comparison of objects or ideas, than what our eye or imagination
alone is able to attain. I own that this defect so far attends it, as
to keep it from ever aspiring to a full certainty: but since these
fundamental principles depend on the easiest and least deceitful
appearances, they bestow on their consequences a degree of exactness,
of which these consequences are singly incapable. 'Tis impossible for
the eye to determine the angles of a chiliagon to be equal to 1996
right angles, or make any conjecture, that approaches this proportion;
but when it determines, that right lines cannot concur; that we cannot
draw more than one right line between two given points; its mistakes
can never be of any consequence. And this is the nature and use of
geometry, to run us up to such appearances, as, by reason of their
simplicity, cannot lead us into any considerable error.

I shall here take occasion to propose a second observation concerning
our demonstrative reasonings, which is suggested by the same subject
of the mathematics. 'Tis usual with mathematicians to pretend, that
those ideas, which are their objects, are of so refined and spiritual a
nature, that they fall not under the conception of the fancy, but must
be comprehended by a pure and intellectual view, of which the superior
faculties of the soul are alone capable. The same notion runs through
most parts of philosophy, and is principally made use of to explain
our abstract ideas, and to show how we can form an idea of a triangle,
for instance, which shall neither be an isosceles nor scalenum, nor be
confined to any particular length and proportion of sides. 'Tis easy
to see why philosophers are so fond of this notion of some spiritual
and refined perceptions; since by that means they cover many of their
absurdities, and may refuse to submit to the decisions of clear ideas,
by appealing to such as are obscure and uncertain. But to destroy this
artifice, we need but reflect on that principle so oft insisted on,
_that all our ideas are copied from out impressions_. For from thence
we may immediately conclude, that since all impressions are clear and
precise, the ideas, which are copied from them, must be of the same
nature, and can never, but from our fault, contain any thing so dark
and intricate. An idea is by its very nature weaker and fainter than
an impression; but being in every other respect the same, cannot imply
any very great mystery. If its weakness render it obscure, 'tis our
business to remedy that defect, as much as possible, by keeping the
idea steady and precise; and till we have done so, 'tis in vain to
pretend to reasoning and philosophy.

[1] Part I. Sect. 5.



This is all I think necessary to observe concerning those four
relations, which are the foundation of science; but as to the other
three, which depend not upon the idea, and may be absent or present
even while _that_ remains the same, 'twill be proper to explain them
more particularly. These three relations are _identity, the situations
in time and place, and causation_.

All kinds of reasoning consist in nothing but a _comparison_, and a
discovery of those relations, either constant or inconstant, which two
or more objects bear to each other. This comparison we may make, either
when both the objects are present to the senses, or when neither of
them is present, or when only one. When both the objects are present to
the senses along with the relation, we call _this_ perception rather
than reasoning; nor is there in this case any exercise of the thought,
or any action, properly speaking, but a mere passive admission of
the impressions through the organs of sensation. According to this
way of thinking, we ought not to receive as reasoning any of the
observations we may make concerning _identity_, and the _relations_
of _time_ and _place_; since in none of them the mind can go beyond
what is immediately present to the senses, either to discover the real
existence or the relations of objects. 'Tis only _causation_, which
produces such a connexion, as to give us assurance from the existence
or action of one object, that 'twas followed or preceded by any other
existence or action; nor can the other two relations ever be made use
of in reasoning, except so far as they either affect or are affected
by it. There is nothing in any objects to persuade us, that they are
either always _remote_ or always _contiguous_; and when from experience
and observation we discover, that their relation in this particular
is invariable, we always conclude there is some secret _cause_ which
separates or unites them. The same reasoning extends to _identity_. We
readily suppose an object may continue individually the same, though
several times absent from and present to the senses; and ascribe to
it an identity, notwithstanding the interruption of the perception,
whenever we conclude, that if we had kept our eye or hand constantly
upon it, it would have conveyed an invariable and uninterrupted
perception. But this conclusion beyond the impressions of our senses
can be founded only on the connexion of _cause and effect_; nor can
we otherwise have any security that the object is not changed upon
us, however much the new object may resemble that which was formerly
present to the senses. Whenever we discover such a perfect resemblance,
we consider whether it be common in that species of objects; whether
possibly or probably any cause could operate in producing the change
and resemblance; and according as we determine concerning these causes
and effects, we form our judgment concerning the identity of the object.

Here then it appears, that of those three relations, which depend not
upon the mere ideas, the only one that can be traced beyond our senses,
and informs us of existences and objects, which we do not see or feel,
is _causation_. This relation therefore we shall endeavour to explain
fully before we leave the subject of the Of the understanding.

To begin regularly, we must consider the idea of _causation_, and see
from what origin it is derived. 'Tis impossible to reason justly,
without understanding perfectly the idea concerning which we reason;
and 'tis impossible perfectly to understand any idea, without tracing
it up to its origin, and examining that primary impression, from which
it arises. The examination of the impression bestows a clearness on the
idea; and the examination of the idea bestows a like clearness on all
our reasoning.

Let us therefore cast our eye on any two objects, which we call
cause and effect, and turn them on all sides, in order to find that
impression, which produces an idea of such prodigious consequence.
At first sight I perceive, that I must not search for it in any of
the particular _qualities_ of the objects; since, whichever of these
qualities I pitch on, I find some object that is not possessed of it,
and yet falls under the denomination of cause or effect. And indeed
there is nothing existent, either externally or internally, which is
not to be considered either as a cause or an effect; though 'tis plain
there is no one quality which universally belongs to all beings, and
gives them a title to that denomination.

The idea then of causation must be derived from some _relation_ among
objects; and that relation we must now endeavour to discover. I find
in the first place, that whatever objects are considered as causes or
effects, are _contiguous_; and that nothing can operate in a time or
place, which is ever so little removed from those of its existence.
Though distant objects may sometimes seem productive of each other,
they are commonly found upon examination to be linked by a chain of
causes, which are contiguous among themselves, and to the distant
objects; and when in any particular instance we cannot discover this
connexion, we still presume it to exist. We may therefore consider the
relation of _contiguity_ as essential to that of causation; at least
may suppose it such, according to the general opinion, till we can find
a more proper occasion[2] to clear up this matter, by examining what
objects are or are not susceptible of juxtaposition and conjunction.

The second relation I shall observe as essential to causes and effects,
is not so universally acknowledged, but is liable to some controversy.
'Tis that of _priority_ of time in the cause before the effect. Some
pretend that 'tis not absolutely necessary a cause should precede its
effect; but that any object or action, in the very first moment of its
existence, may exert its productive quality, and give rise to another
object or action, perfectly cotemporary with itself. But beside that
experience in most instances seems to contradict this opinion, we may
establish the relation of priority by a kind of inference or reasoning.
'Tis an established maxim both in natural and moral philosophy, that
an object, which exists for any time in its full perfection without
producing another, is not its sole cause; but is assisted by some other
principle which pushes it from its state of inactivity, and makes it
exert that energy, of which it was secretly possessed. Now if any cause
may be perfectly cotemporary with its effect, 'tis certain, according
to this maxim, that they must all of them be so; since any one of
them, which retards its operation for a single moment, exerts not
itself at that very individual time, in which it might have operated;
and therefore is no proper cause. The consequence of this would be
no less than the destruction of that succession of causes, which we
observe in the world; and indeed the utter annihilation of time. For
if one cause were cotemporary with its effect, and this effect with
_its_ effect, and so on, 'tis plain there would be no such thing as
succession, and all objects must be co-existent.

If this argument appear satisfactory, 'tis well. If not, I beg the
reader to allow me the same liberty, which I have used in the preceding
case, of supposing it such. For he shall find, that the affair is of no
great importance.

Having thus discovered or supposed the two relations of _contiguity_
and _succession_ to be essential to causes and effects, I find I am
stopped short, and can proceed no farther in considering any single
instance of cause and effect. Motion in one body is regarded upon
impulse as the cause of motion in another. When we consider these
objects with the utmost attention, we find only that the one body
approaches the other; and that the motion of it precedes that of
the other, but without any sensible interval. 'Tis in vain to rack
ourselves with _farther_ thought and reflection upon this subject. We
can go no _farther_ in considering this particular instance.

Should any one leave this instance, and pretend to define a cause, by
saying it is something productive of another, 'tis evident he would
say nothing. For what does he mean by _production_? Can he give any
definition of it, that will not be the same with that of causation?

If he can, I desire it maybe produced. If he cannot, he here runs in a
circle, and gives a synonymous term instead of a definition.

Shall we then rest contented with these two relations of contiguity and
succession, as affording a complete idea of causation? By no means. An
object may be contiguous and prior to another, without being considered
as its cause. There is a _necessary connexion_ to be taken into
consideration; and that relation is of much greater importance, than
any of the other two above mentioned.

Here again I turn the object on all sides, in order to discover the
nature of this necessary connexion, and find the impression, or
impressions, from which its idea may be derived. When I cast my eye
on the _known qualities_ of objects, I immediately discover that the
relation of cause and effect depends not in the least on _them_. When
I consider their _relations_, I can find none but those of contiguity
and succession; which I have already regarded as imperfect and
unsatisfactory. Shall the despair of success make me assert, that I
am here possessed of an idea, which is not preceded by any similar
impression? This would be too strong a proof of levity and inconstancy;
since the contrary principle has been already so firmly established,
as to admit of no farther doubt; at least, till we have more fully
examined the present difficulty.

We must therefore proceed like those who, being in search of any thing
that lies concealed from them, and not finding it in the place they
expected, beat about all the neighbouring fields, without any certain
view or design, in hopes their good fortune will at last guide them to
what they search for. 'Tis necessary for us to leave the direct survey
of this question concerning the nature of that _necessary connexion_,
which enters into our idea of cause and effect; and endeavour to find
some other questions, the examination of which will perhaps afford
a hint, that may serve to clear up the present difficulty. Of these
questions there occur two, which I shall proceed to examine, viz.

First, for what reason we pronounce it _necessary_, that every thing
whose existence has a beginning, should also have a cause?

Secondly, why we conclude, that such particular causes must
_necessarily_ have such particular effects; and what is the nature of
that _inference_ we draw from the one to the other, and of the _belief_
we repose in it?

I shall only observe before I proceed any farther, that though the
ideas of cause and effect be derived from the impressions of reflection
as well as from those of sensation, yet for brevity's sake, I commonly
mention only the latter as the origin of these ideas; though I desire
that, whatever I say of them, may also extend to the former. Passions
are connected with their objects and with one another; no less than
external bodies are connected together. The same relation then of cause
and effect, which belongs to one, must be common to all of them.

[2] Part IV. Sect 5.



To begin with the first question concerning the necessity of a cause:
'Tis a general maxim in philosophy, that _whatever begins to exist,
must have a cause of existence_. This is commonly taken for granted in
all reasonings, without any proof given or demanded. 'Tis supposed to
be founded on intuition, and to be one of those maxims which, though
they may be denied with the lips, 'tis impossible for men in their
hearts really to doubt of. But if we examine this maxim by the idea of
knowledge above explained, we shall discover in it no mark of any such
intuitive certainty; but on the contrary shall find, that 'tis of a
nature quite foreign to that species of conviction.

All certainty arises from the comparison of ideas, and from the
discovery of such relations as are unalterable, so long as the ideas
continue the same. These relations are _resemblance, proportions in
quantity and number, degrees of any quality, and contrariety_; none
of which are implied in this proposition, _Whatever has a beginning
has also a cause of existence_. That proposition therefore is not
intuitively certain. At least any one, who would assert it to be
intuitively certain, must deny these to be the only infallible
relations, and must find some other relation of that kind to be implied
in it; which it will then be time enough to examine.

But here is an argument, which proves at once, that the foregoing
proposition is neither intuitively nor demonstrably certain. We can
never demonstrate the necessity of a cause to every new existence, or
new modification of existence, without showing at the same time the
impossibility there is, that any thing can ever begin to exist without
some productive principle; and where the latter proposition cannot be
proved, we must despair of ever being able to prove the former. Now
that the latter proposition is utterly incapable of a demonstrative
proof, we may satisfy ourselves by considering, that as all distinct
ideas are separable from each other, and as the ideas of cause and
effect are evidently distinct, 'twill be easy for us to conceive
any object to be non-existent this moment, and existent the next,
without conjoining to it the distinct idea of a cause or productive
principle. The separation therefore of the idea of a cause from that of
a beginning of existence, is plainly possible for the imagination; and
consequently the actual separation of these objects is so far possible,
that it implies no contradiction nor absurdity; and is therefore
incapable of being refuted by any reasoning from mere ideas, without
which 'tis impossible to demonstrate the necessity of a cause.

Accordingly, we shall find upon examination, that every demonstration,
which has been produced for the necessity of a cause, is fallacious
and sophistical. All the points of time and place, say some
philosophers,[3] in which we can suppose any object to begin to
exist, are in themselves equal; and unless there be some cause, which
is peculiar to one time and to one place, and which by that means
determines and fixes the existence, it must remain in eternal suspense;
and the object can never begin to be, for want of something to fix
its beginning. But I ask, is there any more difficulty in supposing
the time and place to be fixed without a cause, than to suppose the
existence to be determined in that manner! The first question that
occurs on this subject is always, _whether_ the object shall exist
or not: the next, _when_ and _where_ it shall begin to exist. If the
removal of a cause be intuitively absurd in the one case, it must be so
in the other: and if that absurdity be not clear without a proof in the
one case, it will equally require one in the other. The absurdity then
of the one supposition can never be a proof of that of the other; since
they are both upon the same footing, and must stand or fall by the same

The second argument,[4] which I find used on this head, labours under
an equal difficulty. Every thing, 'tis said, must have a cause; for if
any thing wanted a cause, _it_ would produce _itself_, that is, exist
before it existed, which is impossible. But this reasoning is plainly
unconclusive; because it supposes that, in our denial of a cause, we
still grant what we expressly deny, viz. that there must be a cause;
which therefore is taken to be the object itself; and _that_, no doubt,
is an evident contradiction. But to say that any thing is produced, or,
to express myself more properly, comes into existence, without a cause,
is not to affirm that 'tis itself its own cause; but, on the contrary,
in excluding all external causes, excludes _a fortiori_ the thing
itself which is created. An object that exists absolutely without any
cause, certainly is not its own cause; and when you assert, that the
one follows from the other, you suppose the very point in question,
and take it for granted, that 'tis utterly impossible any thing can
ever begin to exist without a cause, but that, upon the exclusion of
one productive principle, we must still have recourse to another.

'Tis exactly the same case with the third argument,[5] which has
been employed to demonstrate the necessity of a cause. Whatever is
produced without any cause, is produced by _nothing_; or, in other
words, has nothing for its cause. But nothing can never be a cause, no
more than it can be something, or equal to two right angles. By the
same intuition, that we perceive nothing not to be equal to two right
angles, or not to be something, we perceive, that it can never be a
cause; and consequently must perceive, that every object has a real
cause of its existence.

I believe it will not be necessary to employ many words in showing the
weakness of this argument, after what I have said of the foregoing.
They are all of them founded on the same fallacy, and are derived from
the same turn of thought. 'Tis sufficient only to observe, that when
we exclude all causes we really do exclude them, and neither suppose
nothing nor the object itself to be the causes of the existence;
and consequently can draw no argument from the absurdity of these
suppositions to prove the absurdity of that exclusion. If every thing
must have a cause, it follows, that, upon the exclusion of other
causes, we must accept of the object itself or of nothing as causes.
But 'tis the very point in question, whether every thing must have a
cause or not; and therefore, according to all just reasoning, it ought
never to be taken for granted.

They are still more frivolous who say, that every effect must have a
cause, because 'tis implied in the very idea of effect. Every effect
necessarily presupposes a cause; effect being a relative term, of which
cause is a correlative. But this does not prove that every being must
be preceded by a cause; no more than it follows, because every husband
must have a wife, that therefore every man must be married. The true
state of the question is, whether every object which begins to exist,
must owe its existence to a cause; and this I assert neither to be
intuitively nor demonstratively certain, and hope to have proved it
sufficiently by the foregoing arguments.

Since it is not from knowledge or any scientific reasoning, that we
derive the opinion of the necessity of a cause to every new production,
that opinion must necessarily arise from observation and experience.
The next question, then, should naturally be, _how experience gives
rise to such a principle_? But as I find it will be more convenient
to sink this question in the following, _why we conclude, that such
particular causes must necessarily have such particular effects, and
why we form an inference from one to another_? we shall make that the
subject of our future inquiry. 'Twill, perhaps, be found in the end,
that the same answer will serve for both questions.

[3] Mr Hobbes.

[4] Dr Clarke and others.

[5] Mr Locke.



Though the mind in its reasonings from causes or effects, carries its
view beyond those objects which it sees or remembers, it must never
lose sight of them entirely, nor reason merely upon its own ideas,
without some mixture of impressions, or at least of ideas of the
memory, which are equivalent to impressions. When we infer effects from
causes, we must establish the existence of these causes; which we have
only two ways of doing, either by an immediate perception of our memory
or senses, or by an inference from other causes; which causes again we
must ascertain in the same manner, either by a present impression or
by an inference from _their_ causes, and so on, till we arrive at some
object, which we see or remember. 'Tis impossible for us to carry on
our inferences _in infinitum_; and the only thing that can stop them,
is an impression of the memory or senses, beyond which there is no room
for doubt or inquiry.

To give an instance of this, we may choose any point of history, and
consider for what reason we either believe or reject it. Thus, we
believe that Cæsar was killed in the senate-house on the _ides_ of
_March_, and that because this fact is established on the unanimous
testimony of historians, who agree to assign this precise time and
place to that event. Here are certain characters and letters present
either to our memory or senses; which characters we likewise remember
to have been used as the signs of certain ideas: and these ideas
were either in the minds of such as were immediately present at that
action, and received the ideas directly from its existence; or they
were derived from the testimony of others, and that again from another
testimony, by a visible gradation, till we arrive at those who were
eye-witnesses and spectators of the event. 'Tis obvious all this chain
of argument or connexion of causes and effects, is at first founded
on those characters or letters, which are seen or remembered, and
that without the authority either of the memory or senses, our whole
reasoning would be chimerical and without foundation. Every link of
the chain would in that case hang upon another; but there would not be
any thing fixed to one end of it, capable of sustaining the whole; and
consequently there would be no belief nor evidence. And this actually
is the case with all _hypothetical_ arguments, or reasonings upon a
supposition; there being in them neither any present impression, nor
belief of a real existence.

I need not observe, that 'tis no just objection to the present
doctrine, that we can reason upon our past conclusions or principles,
without having recourse to those impressions, from which they first
arose. For even supposing these impressions should be entirely effaced
from the memory, the conviction they produced may still remain; and
'tis equally true, that all reasonings concerning causes and effects
are originally derived from some impression; in the same manner, as
the assurance of a demonstration proceeds always from a comparison of
ideas, though it may continue after the comparison is forgot.



In this kind of reasoning, then, from causation, we employ materials,
which are of a mixed and heterogeneous nature, and which, however
connected, are yet essentially different from each other. All our
arguments concerning causes and effects consist both of an impression
of the memory or senses, and of the idea of that existence, which
produces the object of the impression, or is produced by it. Here,
therefore, we have three things to explain, viz. _first_, the original
impression. _Secondly_, the transition to the idea of the connected
cause or effect. _Thirdly_, the nature and qualities of that idea.

As to those _impressions_, which arise from the _senses_, their
ultimate cause is, in my opinion, perfectly inexplicable by human
reason, and 'twill always be impossible to decide with certainty,
whether they arise immediately from the object, or are produced by
the creative power of the mind, or are derived from the Author of our
being. Nor is such a question any way material to our present purpose.
We may draw inferences from the coherence of our perceptions, whether
they be true or false; whether they represent nature justly, or be mere
illusions of the senses.

When we search for the characteristic, which distinguishes the _memory_
from the imagination, we must immediately perceive, that it cannot
lie in the simple ideas it presents to us; since both these faculties
borrow their simple ideas from the impressions, and can never go
beyond these original perceptions. These faculties are as little
distinguished from each other by the arrangement of their complex
ideas. For, though it be a peculiar property of the memory to preserve
the original order and position of its ideas, while the imagination
transposes and changes them as it pleases; yet this difference is not
sufficient to distinguish them in their operation, or make us know the
one from the other; it being impossible to recal the past impressions,
in order to compare them with our present ideas, and see whether their
arrangement be exactly similar. Since therefore the memory is known,
neither by the order of its _complex_ ideas, nor the nature of its
_simple_ ones; it follows, that the difference betwixt it and the
imagination lies in its superior force and vivacity. A man may indulge
his fancy in feigning any past scene of adventures; nor would there be
any possibility of distinguishing this from a remembrance of a like
kind, were not the ideas of the imagination fainter and more obscure.

It frequently happens, that when two men have been engaged in any
scene of action, the one shall remember it much better than the other,
and shall have all the difficulty in the world to make his companion
recollect it. He runs over several circumstances in vain; mentions
the time, the place, the company, what was said, what was done on all
sides; till at last he hits on some lucky circumstance, that revives
the whole, and gives his friend a perfect memory of every thing. Here
the person that forgets, receives at first all the ideas from the
discourse of the other, with the same circumstances of time and place;
though he considers them as mere fictions of the imagination. But as
soon as the circumstance is mentioned that touches the memory, the
very same ideas now appear in a new light, and have, in a manner,
a different feeling from what they had before. Without any other
alteration, beside that of the feeling, they become immediately ideas
of the memory, and are assented to.

Since therefore the imagination can represent all the same objects
that the memory can offer to us, and since those faculties are only
distinguished by the different _feeling_ of the ideas they present, it
may be proper to consider what is the nature of that feeling. And here
I believe every one will readily agree with me, that the ideas of the
memory are more _strong_ and _lively_ than those of the fancy.

A painter, who intended to represent a passion or emotion of any kind,
would endeavour to get a sight of a person actuated by a like emotion,
in order to enliven his ideas, and give them a force and vivacity
superior to what is found in those, which are mere fictions of the
imagination. The more recent this memory is, the clearer is the idea;
and when, after a long interval, he would return to the contemplation
of his object, he always finds its idea to be much decayed, if not,
wholly obliterated. We are frequently in doubt concerning the ideas
of the memory, as they become very weak and feeble; and are at a loss
to determine whether any image proceeds from the fancy or the memory,
when it is not drawn in such lively colours as distinguish that latter
faculty. I think I remember such an event, says one; but am not sure. A
long tract of time has almost worn it out of my memory, and leaves me
uncertain whether or not it be the pure offspring of my fancy.

And as an idea of the memory, by losing its force and vivacity,
may degenerate to such a degree, as to be taken for an idea of the
imagination; so, on the other Of hand, an idea of the imagination may
acquire such a and force and vivacity, as to pass for an idea of the
memory, and counterfeit its effects on the belief and judgment. This
is noted in the case of liars; who by the frequent repetition of their
lies, come at last to believe and remember them, as realities; custom
and habit having, in this case, as in many others, the same influence
on the mind as nature, and infixing the idea with equal force and

Thus it appears, that the _belief_ or _assent_, which always attends
the memory and senses, is nothing but the vivacity of those perceptions
they present; and that this alone distinguishes them from the
imagination. To believe is in this case to feel an immediate impression
of the senses, or a repetition of that impression in the memory. 'Tis
merely the force and liveliness of the perception, which constitutes
the first act of the judgment, and lays the foundation of that
reasoning, which we build upon it, when we trace the relation of cause
and effect.



'Tis easy to observe, that in tracing this relation, the inference we
draw from cause to effect, is not derived merely from a survey of these
particular objects, and from such a penetration into their essences as
may discover the dependence of the one upon the other. There is no
object which implies the existence of any other, if we consider these
objects in themselves, and never look beyond the ideas which we form
of them. Such an inference would amount to knowledge, and would imply
the absolute contradiction and impossibility of conceiving any thing
different. But as all distinct ideas are separable, 'tis evident there
can be no impossibility of that kind. When we pass from a present
impression to the idea of any object, we might possibly have separated
the idea from the impression, and have substituted any other idea in
its room.

'Tis therefore by _experience_ only that we can infer the existence
of one object from that of another. The nature of experience is this.
We remember to have had frequent instances of the existence of one
species of objects; and also remember, that the individuals of another
species of objects have always attended them, and have existed in a
regular order of contiguity and succession with regard to them. Thus
we remember to have seen that species of object we call _fame_, and to
have felt that species of sensation we call _heat_. We likewise call
to mind their constant conjunction in all past instances. Without any
farther ceremony, we call the one _cause_, and the other _effect_, and
infer the existence of the one from that of the other. In all those
instances from which we learn the conjunction of particular causes and
effects, both the causes and effects have been perceived by the senses,
and are remembered: but in all cases, wherein we reason concerning
them, there is only one perceived or remembered, and the other is
supplied in conformity to our past experience.

Thus, in advancing, we have insensibly discovered a new relation
betwixt cause and effect when we least expected it, and were entirely
employed upon another subject. This relation is their _constant
conjunction_. Contiguity and succession are not sufficient to make us
pronounce any two objects to be cause and effect, unless we perceive
that these two relations are preserved in several instances. We may
now see the advantage of quitting the direct survey of this relation,
in order to discover the nature of that _necessary connexion_ which
makes so essential a part of it. There are hopes, that by this means
we may at last arrive at our proposed end; though, to tell the truth,
this new-discovered relation of a constant conjunction seems to
advance us but very little in our way. For it implies no more than
this, that like objects have always been placed in like relations of
contiguity and succession; and it seems evident, at least at first
sight, that by this means we can never discover any new idea, and can
only multiply, but not enlarge, the objects of our mind. It may be
thought, that what we learn not from one object, we can never learn
from a hundred, which are all of the same kind, and are perfectly
resembling in every circumstance. As our senses show us in one instance
two bodies, or motions, or qualities in certain relations of succession
and contiguity, so our memory presents us only with a multitude of
instances wherein we always find like bodies, motions, or qualities,
in like relations. From the mere repetition of any past impression,
even to infinity, there never will arise any new original idea, such
as that of a necessary connexion; and the number of impressions has in
this case no more effect than if we confined ourselves to one only. But
though this reasoning seems just and obvious, yet, as it would be folly
to despair too soon, we shall continue the thread of our discourse;
and having found, that after the discovery of the constant conjunction
of any objects, we always draw an inference from one object to
another, we shall now examine the nature of that inference, and of the
transition from the impression to the idea. Perhaps 'twill appear in
the end, that the necessary connexion depends on the inference, instead
of the inference's depending on the necessary connexion.

Since it appears, that the transition from an impression present to
the memory or senses to the idea of an object, which we call cause or
effect, is founded on past _experience_, and on our remembrance of
their _constant conjunction_, the next question is, whether experience
produces the idea by means of the understanding or imagination; whether
we are determined by reason to make the transition, or by a certain
association and relation of perceptions. If reason determined us, it
would proceed upon that principle, _that instances, of which we have
had no experience, must resemble those of which we have had experience,
and that the course of nature continues always uniformly the same._
In order, therefore, to clear up this matter, let us consider all the
arguments upon which such a proposition may be supposed to be founded;
and as these must be derived either from _knowledge_ or _probability_,
let us cast our eye on each of these degrees of evidence, and see
whether they afford any just conclusion of this nature.

Our foregoing method of reasoning will easily convince us, that there
can be no _demonstrative_ arguments to prove, _that those instances
of which we have had no experience resemble those of which we have
had experience_. We can at least conceive a change in the course of
nature; which sufficiently proves that such a change is not absolutely
impossible. To form a clear idea of any thing is an undeniable argument
for its possibility, and is alone a refutation of any pretended
demonstration against it.

Probability, as it discovers not the relations of ideas, considered
as such, but only those of objects, must in some respects be founded
on the impressions of our memory and senses, and in some respects on
our ideas. Were there no mixture of any impression in our probable
reasonings, the conclusion would be entirely chimerical: and were there
no mixture of ideas, the action of the mind, in observing the relation,
would, properly speaking, be sensation, not reasoning. 'Tis therefore
necessary, that in all probable reasonings there be something present
to the mind, either seen or remembered; and that from this we infer
something connected with it, which is not seen nor remembered.

The only connexion or relation of objects, which can lead us beyond
the immediate impressions of our memory and senses, is that of cause
and effect; and that because 'tis the only one, on which we can found
a just inference from one object to another. The idea of cause and
effect is derived from _experience_, which informs us, that such
particular objects, in all past instances, have been constantly
conjoined with each other: and as an object similar to one of these
is supposed to be immediately present in its impression, we thence
presume on the existence of one similar to its usual attendant.
According to this account of things, which is, I think, in every
point unquestionable, probability is founded on the presumption of a
resemblance betwixt those objects of which we have had experience, and
those of which we have had none; and therefore 'tis impossible this
presumption can arise from probability. The same principle cannot be
both the cause and effect of another; and this is, perhaps, the only
proposition concerning that relation, which is either intuitively or
demonstratively certain.

Should any one think to elude this argument; and without determining
whether our reasoning on this subject be derived from demonstration or
probability, pretend that all conclusions from causes and effects are
built on solid reasoning: I can only desire that this reasoning may be
produced, in order to be exposed to our examination. It may perhaps
be said, that after experience of the constant conjunction of certain
objects, we reason in the following manner. Such an object is always
found to produce another. 'Tis impossible it could have this effect, if
it was not endowed with a power of production. The power necessarily
implies the effect; and therefore there is a just foundation for
drawing a conclusion from the existence of one object to that of its
usual attendant. The past production implies a power: the power implies
a new production: and the new production is what we infer from the
power and the past production.

'Twere easy for me to show the weakness of this reasoning, were I
willing to make use of those observations I have already made, that
the idea of _production_ is the same with that of _causation_, and
that no existence certainly and demonstratively implies a power in
any other object; or were it proper to anticipate what I shall have
occasion to remark afterwards concerning the idea we form of _power_
and _efficacy_. But as such a method of proceeding may seem either to
weaken my system, by resting one part of it on another, or to breed a
confusion in my reasoning, I shall endeavour to maintain my present
assertion without any such assistance.

It shall therefore be allowed for at moment, that the production of one
object by another in any one instance implies a power; and that this
power is connected with its effect. But it having been already proved,
that the power lies not in the sensible qualities of the cause; and
there being nothing but the sensible qualities present to us; I ask,
why in other instances you presume that the same power still exists,
merely upon the appearance of these qualities? Your appeal to past
experience decides nothing in the present case; and at the utmost
can only prove, that that very object, which produced any other, was
at that very instant endowed with such a power; but can never prove,
that the same power must continue in the same object or collection of
sensible qualities; much less, that a like power is always conjoined
with like sensible qualities. Should it be said, that we have
experience, that the same power continues united with the same object,
and that like objects are endowed with like powers, I would renew my
question, _why from this experience we form any conclusion beyond those
past instances, of which we have had experience_? If you answer this
question in the same manner as the preceding, your answer gives still
occasion to a new question of the same kind, even _in infinitum_; which
clearly proves, that the foregoing reasoning had no just foundation.

Thus, not only our reason fails us in the discovery of the _ultimate
connexion_ of causes and effects, but even after experience has
informed us of their _constant conjunction_, 'tis impossible for
us to satisfy ourselves by our reason, why we should extend that
experience beyond those particular instances which have fallen under
our observation. We suppose, but are never able to prove, that there
must be a resemblance betwixt those objects, of which we have had
experience, and those which lie beyond the reach of our discovery.

We have already taken notice of certain relations, which make us pass
from one object to another, even though there be no reason to determine
us to that transition; and this we may establish for a general rule,
that wherever the mind constantly and uniformly makes a transition
without any reason, it is influenced by these relations. Now, this is
exactly the present case. Reason can never show us the connexion of one
object with another, though aided by experience, and the observation
of their constant conjunction in all past instances. When the mind
therefore passes from the idea or impression of one object to the idea
or belief of another, it is not determined by reason, but by certain
principles, which associate together the ideas of these objects, and
unite them in the imagination. Had ideas no more union in the fancy,
than objects seem to have to the understanding, we could never draw any
inference from causes to effects, nor repose belief in any matter of
fact. The inference therefore depends solely on the union of ideas.

The principles of union among ideas, I have reduced to three general
ones, and have asserted, that the idea or impression of any object
naturally introduces the idea of any other object, that is resembling,
contiguous to, or connected with it. These principles I allow to be
neither the _infallible_ nor the _sole_ causes of an union among ideas.
They are not the infallible causes. For one may fix his attention
during some time on any one object without looking farther. They are
not the sole causes. For the thought has evidently a very irregular
motion in running along its objects, and may leap from the heavens
to the earth, from one end of the creation to the other, without any
certain method or order. But though I allow this weakness in these
three relations, and this irregularity in the imagination; yet I
assert, that the only _general_ principles which associate ideas, are
resemblance, contiguity, and causation.

There is indeed a principle of union among ideas, which at first sight
may be esteemed different from any of these, but will be found at the
bottom to depend on the same origin. When every individual of any
species of objects is found by experience to be constantly united with
an individual of another species, the appearance of any new individual
of either species naturally conveys the thought to its usual attendant.
Thus, because such a particular idea is commonly annexed to such a
particular word, nothing is required but the hearing of that word to
produce the correspondent idea; and 'twill scarce be possible for the
mind, by its utmost efforts, to prevent that transition. In this case
it is not absolutely necessary, that upon hearing such a particular
sound, we should reflect on any past experience, and consider what idea
has been usually connected with the sound. The imagination of itself
supplies the place of this reflection, and is so accustomed to pass
from the word to the idea, that it interposes not a moment's delay
betwixt the hearing of the one, and the conception of the other.

But though I acknowledge this to be a true principle of association
among ideas, I assert it to be the very same with that betwixt the
ideas of cause and effect, and to be an essential part in all our
reasonings from that relation. We have no other notion of cause and
effect, but that of certain objects, which have been _always conjoined_
together, and which in all past instances have been found inseparable.
We cannot penetrate into the reason of the conjunction. We only observe
the thing itself, and always find that, from the constant conjunction,
the objects acquire an union in the imagination. When the impression
of one becomes present to us, we immediately form an idea of its usual
attendant; and consequently we may establish this as one part of the
definition of an opinion or belief, that 'tis _an idea related to or
associated with a present impression_.

Thus, though causation be a _philosophical_ relation, as implying
contiguity, succession, and constant conjunction, yet 'tis only so far
as it is a _natural_ relation, and produces an union among our ideas,
that we are able to reason upon it, or draw any inference from it.



The idea of an object is an essential part of the belief of it, but not
the whole. We conceive many things which we do not believe. In order
then to discover more fully the nature of belief, or the qualities of
those ideas we assent to, let us weigh the following considerations.

'Tis evident, that all reasonings from causes or effects terminate
in conclusions concerning matter of fact; that is, concerning the
existence of objects or of their qualities. 'Tis also evident, that the
idea of existence is nothing different from the idea of any object, and
that when after the simple conception of any thing we would conceive
it as existent, we in reality make no addition to or alteration on
our first idea. Thus, when we affirm that God is existent, we simply
form the idea of such a Being as he is represented to us: nor is
the existence, which we attribute to him, conceived by a particular
idea, which we join to the idea of his other qualities, and can again
separate and distinguish from them. But I go farther; and, not content
with asserting, that the conception of the existence of any object
is no addition to the simple conception of it, I likewise maintain,
that the belief of the existence joins no new ideas to those, which
compose the idea of the object. When I think of God, when I think of
him as existent, and when I believe him to be existent, my idea of him
neither increases nor diminishes. But as 'tis certain there is a great
difference betwixt the simple conception of the existence of an object,
and the belief of it, and as this difference lies not in the parts or
composition of the idea which we conceive; it follows, that it must lie
in the _manner_ in which we conceive it.

Suppose a person present with me, who advances propositions, to which
I do not assent, _that Cæsar died in his bed, that silver is more
fusible than lead, or mercury heavier than gold_; 'tis evident that,
notwithstanding my incredulity, I clearly understand his meaning, and
form all the same ideas which he forms. My imagination is endowed with
the same powers as his; nor is it possible for him to conceive any
idea, which I cannot conceive; or conjoin any, which I cannot conjoin.
I therefore ask, wherein consists the difference betwixt believing
and disbelieving any proposition? The answer is easy with regard to
propositions, that are proved by intuition or demonstration. In that
case, the person who assents not only conceives the ideas according
to the proposition, but is necessarily determined to conceive them in
that particular manner, either immediately, or by the interposition of
other ideas. Whatever is absurd is unintelligible; nor is it possible
for the imagination to conceive any thing contrary to a demonstration.
But as, in reasonings from causation, and concerning matters of fact,
this absolute necessity cannot take place, and the imagination is free
to conceive both sides of the question, I still ask, _wherein consists
the difference betwixt incredulity and belief_? since in both cases the
conception of the idea is equally possible and requisite.

'Twill not be a satisfactory answer to say, that & person, who does not
assent to a proposition you advance; after having conceived the object
in the same manner with you, immediately conceives it in a different
manner, and has different ideas of it. This answer is unsatisfactory;
not because it contains any falsehood, but because it discovers not
all the truth. 'Tis confessed that, in all cases wherein we dissent
from any person, we conceive both sides of the question; but as we can
believe only one, it evidently follows, that the belief must make some
difference betwixt that conception to which we assent, and that from
which we dissent. We may mingle, and unite, and separate, and confound,
and vary our ideas in a hundred different ways; but 'till there appears
some principle, which fixes one of these different situations, we have
in reality no opinion: and this principle, as it plainly makes no
addition to our precedent ideas, can only change the _manner_ of our
conceiving them.

All the perceptions of the mind are of two kinds, viz. impressions and
ideas, which differ from each other only in their different degrees of
force and vivacity.

Our ideas are copied from our impressions, and represent them in all
their parts. When you would any way vary the idea of a particular
object, you can only increase or diminish its force and vivacity. If
you make any other change on it, it represents a different object or
impression. The case is the same as in colours. A particular shade of
any colour may acquire a new degree of liveliness or brightness without
any other variation. But when you produce any other variation, 'tis no
longer the same shade or colour; so that as belief does nothing but
vary the manner in which we conceive any object, it can only bestow on
our ideas an additional force and vivacity. An opinion therefore or
belief may be most accurately defined, _a lively idea related to or
associated with a present impression_.[6]

Here are the heads of those arguments, which lead us to this
conclusion. When we infer the existence of an object from that of
others, some object must always be present either to the memory or
senses, in order to be the foundation of our reasoning; since the mind
cannot run up with its inferences _in infinitum_. Reason can never
satisfy us that the existence of any one object does ever imply that of
another; so that when we pass from the impression of one to the idea or
belief of another, we are not determined by reason, but by custom, or
a principle of association. But belief is somewhat more than a simple
idea. 'Tis a particular manner of forming an idea: and as the same idea
can only be varied by a variation of its degrees of force and vivacity;
it follows upon the whole, that belief is a lively idea produced
by a relation to a present impression, according to the foregoing

This operation of the mind, which forms the belief of any matter of
fact, seems hitherto to have been one of the greatest mysteries of
philosophy; though no one has so much as suspected, that there was
any difficulty in explaining it. For my part, I must own, that I find
a considerable difficulty in the case; and that even when I think I
understand the subject perfectly, I am at a loss for terms to express
my meaning. I conclude, by an induction which seems to me very evident,
that an opinion or belief is nothing but an idea, that is different
from a fiction, not in the nature, or the order of its parts, but in
the _manner_ of its being conceived. But when I would explain this
_manner_, I scarce find any word that fully answers the case, but am
obliged to have recourse to every one's feeling, in order to give him
a perfect notion of this operation of the mind. An idea assented to
_feels_ different from a fictitious idea, that the fancy alone presents
to us: and this different feeling I endeavour to explain by calling
it a superior _force_, or _vivacity_, or _solidity_, or _steadiness_.
This variety of terms, which may seem so unphilosophical, is intended
only to express that act of the mind, which renders realities more
present to us than fictions, causes them to weigh more in the thought,
and gives them a superior influence on the passions and imagination.
Provided we agree about the thing, 'tis needless to dispute about the
terms. The imagination has the command over all its ideas, and can
join, and mix, and vary them in all the ways possible. It may conceive
objects with all the circumstances of place and time. It may set them,
in a manner, before our eyes in their true colours, just as they might
have existed. But as it is impossible that that faculty can ever of
itself reach belief; 'tis evident, that belief consists not in the
nature and order of our ideas, but in the manner of their conception,
and in their feeling to the mind. I confess, that 'tis impossible to
explain perfectly this feeling or manner of conception. We may make use
of words that express something near it. But its true and proper name
is _belief_, which is a term that every one sufficiently understands in
common life. And in philosophy, we can go no farther than assert, that
it is something _felt_ by the mind, which distinguishes the ideas of
the judgment from the fictions of the imagination. It gives them more
force and influence; makes them appear of greater importance; infixes
them in the mind; and renders them the governing principles of all our

This definition will also be found to be entirely conformable to every
one's feeling and experience. Nothing is more evident, than that those
ideas, to which we assent, are more strong, firm, and vivid, than the
loose reveries of a castle-builder. If one person sits down to read a
book as a romance, and another as a true history, they plainly receive
the same ideas, and in the same order; nor does the incredulity of the
one, and the belief of the other, hinder them from putting the very
same sense upon their author. His words produce the same ideas in both;
though his testimony has not the same influence on them. The latter has
a more lively conception of all the incidents. He enters deeper into
the concerns of the persons: represents to himself their actions, and
characters, and friendships, and enmities: he even goes so far as to
form a notion of their features, and air, and person. While the former,
who gives no credit to the testimony of the author, has a more faint
and languid conception of all these particulars, and, except on account
of the style and ingenuity of the composition, can receive little
entertainment from it.

[6] We may here take occasion to observe a very remarkable error,
which, being frequently inculcated in the schools, has become a kind of
established maxim, and is universally received by all logicians. This
error consists in the vulgar division of the acts of the understanding
into _conception, judgment_ and _reasoning_, and in the definitions
we give of them. Conception is defined to be the simple survey of one
or more ideas: judgment to be the separating or uniting of different
ideas: reasoning to be the separating or uniting of different ideas
by the interposition of others, which show the relation they bear to
each other. But these distinctions and definitions are faulty in very
considerable articles. For, _first_,'tis far from being true, that,
in every judgment which we form, we unite two different ideas; since
in that proposition, _God is_, or indeed any other, which regards
existence, the idea of existence is no distinct idea, which we unite
with that of the object, and which is capable of forming a compound
idea by the union. _Secondly_, as we can thus form a proposition, which
contains only one idea, so we may exert our reason without employing
more than two ideas, and without having recourse to a third to serve as
a medium betwixt them. We infer a cause immediately from its effect;
and this inference is not only a true species of reasoning, but the
strongest of all others, and more convincing than when we interpose
another idea to connect the two extremes. What we may in general affirm
concerning these three acts of the understanding is, that taking them
in a proper light, they all resolve themselves into the first, and
are nothing but particular ways of conceiving our objects. Whether
we consider a single object, or several; whether we dwell on these
objects, or run from them to others; and in whatever form or order we
survey them, the act of the mind exceeds not a simple conception; and
the only remarkable difference, which occurs on this occasion, is, when
we join belief to the conception, and are persuaded of the truth of
what we conceive. This act of the mind has never yet been explained by
any philosopher; and therefore I am at liberty to propose my hypothesis
concerning it; which is, that 'tis only a strong and steady conception
of any idea, and such as approaches in some measure to an immediate



Having thus explained the nature of belief, and shown that it consists
in a lively idea related to a present impression; let us now proceed
to examine from what principles it is derived, and what bestows the
vivacity on the idea.

I would willingly establish it as a general maxim in the science of
human nature, _that when any impression becomes present to us, it
not only transports the mind to such ideas as are related to it, but
likewise communicates to them a share of its force and vivacity_.
All the operations of the mind depend, in a great measure, on its
disposition when it performs them; and according as the spirits are
more or less elevated, and the attention more or less fixed, the action
will always have more or less vigour and vivacity. When, therefore,
any object is presented which elevates and enlivens the thought, every
action, to which the mind applies itself, will be more strong and
vivid, as long as that disposition continues. Now, 'tis evident the
continuance of the disposition depends entirely on the objects about
which the mind is employed; and that any new object naturally gives a
new direction to the spirits, and changes the disposition; as on the
contrary, when the mind fixes constantly on the same object, or passes
easily and insensibly along related objects, the disposition has a
much longer duration. Hence it happens, that when the mind is once
enlivened by a present impression, it proceeds to form a more lively
idea of the related objects, by a natural transition of the disposition
from the one to the other. The change of the objects is so easy, that
the mind is scarce sensible of it, but applies itself to the conception
of the related idea with all the force and vivacity it acquired from
the present impression.

If, in considering the nature of relation, and that facility of
transition which is essential to it, we can satisfy ourselves
concerning the reality of this phenomenon, 'tis well: but I must
confess I place my chief confidence in experience to prove so material
a principle. We may therefore observe, as the first experiment to our
present purpose, that upon the appearance of the picture of an absent
friend, our idea of him is evidently enlivened by the _resemblance_,
and that every passion, which that idea occasions, whether of joy or
sorrow, acquires new force and vigour. In producing this effect there
concur both a relation and a present impression. Where the picture
bears him no resemblance, or at least was not intended for him, it
never so much as conveys our thought to him: and where it is absent as
well as the person; though the mind may pass from the thought of the
one to that of the other; it feels its idea to be rather weakened than
enlivened by that transition. We take a pleasure in viewing the picture
of a friend, when 'tis set before us; but when 'tis removed, rather
choose to consider him directly, than by reflection in an image, which
is equally distant and obscure.

The ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion may be considered
as experiments of the same nature. The devotees of that strange
superstition usually plead in excuse of the mummeries with which they
are up-braided, that they feel the good effect of those external
motions, and postures and actions, in enlivening their devotion, and
quickening their fervour, which otherwise would decay away, if directed
entirely to distant and immaterial objects. We shadow out the objects
of our faith, say they, in sensible types and images, and render
them more present to us by the immediate presence of these types,
than 'tis possible for us to do, merely by an intellectual view and
contemplation. Sensible objects have always a greater influence on the
fancy than any other; and this influence they readily convey to those
ideas to which they are related, and which they resemble. I shall only
infer from these practices, and this reasoning, that the effect of
resemblance in enlivening the idea is very common; and as in every case
a resemblance and a present impression must concur, we are abundantly
supplied with experiments to prove the reality of the foregoing

We may add force to these experiments by others of a different
kind, in considering the effects of _contiguity_, as well as of
_resemblance_.'Tis certain that distance diminishes the force of
every idea; and that, upon our approach to any object, though it does
not discover itself to our senses, it operates upon the mind with an
influence that imitates an immediate impression. The thinking on any
object readily transports the mind to what is contiguous; but 'tis
only the actual presence of an object, that transports it with a
superior vivacity. When I am a few miles from home, whatever relates
to it touches me more nearly than when I am two hundred leagues
distant; though even at that distance the reflecting on any thing in
the neighbourhood of my friends and family naturally produces an idea
of them. But as in this latter case, both the objects of the mind are
ideas; notwithstanding there is an easy transition betwixt them; that
transition alone is not able to give a superior vivacity to any of the
ideas, for want of some immediate impression.[7]

No one can doubt but causation has the same influence as the other
two relations of resemblance and contiguity. Superstitious people are
fond of the relicks of saints and holy men, for the same reason that
they seek after types and images, in order to enliven their devotion,
and give them a more intimate and strong conception of those exemplary
lives, which they desire to imitate. Now, 'tis evident one of the best
relicks a devotee could procure would be the handy-work of a saint;
and if his clothes and furniture are ever to be considered in this
light, 'tis because they were once at his disposal, and were moved
and affected by him; in which respect they are to be considered as
imperfect effects, and as connected with him by a shorter chain of
consequences than any of those, from which we learn the reality of his
existence. This phenomenon clearly proves, that a present impression
with a relation of causation may enliven any idea, and consequently
produce belief or assent, according to the precedent definition of it.

But why need we seek for other arguments to prove, that a present
impression with a relation or transition of the fancy may enliven any
idea, when this very instance of our reasonings from cause and effect
will alone suffice to that purpose? 'Tis certain we must have an idea
of every matter of fact which we believe. 'Tis certain that this idea
arises only from a relation to a present impression. 'Tis certain that
the belief superadds nothing to the idea, but only changes our manner
of conceiving it, and renders it more strong and lively. The present
conclusion concerning the influence of relation is the immediate
consequence of all these steps; and every step appears to me sure and
infallible. There enters nothing into this operation of the mind but
a present impression, a lively idea, and a relation or association in
the fancy betwixt the impression and idea; so that there can be no
suspicion of mistake.

In order to put this whole affair in a fuller light, let us consider
it as a question in natural philosophy, which we must determine by
experience and observation. I suppose there is an object presented,
from which I draw a certain conclusion, and form to myself ideas, which
I am said to believe or assent to. Here 'tis evident, that however that
object, which is present to my senses, and that other, whose existence
I infer by reasoning, may be thought to influence each other by their
particular powers or qualities; yet as the phenomenon of belief, which
we at present examine, is merely internal, these powers and qualities
being entirely unknown, can have no hand in producing it. 'Tis the
present impression which is to be considered as the true and real cause
of the idea, and of the belief which attends it. We must therefore
endeavour to discover, by experiments, the particular qualities by
which 'tis enabled to produce so extraordinary an effect.

First then I observe, that the present impression has not this effect
by its own proper power and efficacy, and, when considered alone
as a single perception, limited to the present moment. I find that
an impression, from which, on its first appearance, I can draw no
conclusion, may afterwards become the foundation of belief, when I have
had experience of its usual consequences. We must in every case have
observed the same impression in past instances, and have found it to
be constantly conjoined with some other impression. This is confirmed
by such a multitude of experiments, that it admits not of the smallest

From a second observation I conclude, that the belief which attends the
present impression, and is produced by a number of past impressions and
conjunctions; that this belief, I say, arises immediately, without any
new operation of the reason or imagination. Of this I can be certain,
because I never am conscious of any such operation, and find nothing
in the subject on which it can be founded. Now, as we call every
thing _custom_ which proceeds from a past repetition, without any new
reasoning or conclusion, we may establish it as a certain truth, that
all the belief, which follows upon any present impression, is derived
solely from that origin. When we are accustomed to see two impressions
conjoined together, the appearance or idea of the one immediately
carries us to the idea of the other.

Being fully satisfied on this head, I make a third set of experiments,
in order to know whether any thing be requisite, beside the customary
transition, towards the production of this phenomenon of belief. I
therefore change the first impression into an idea; and observe, that
though the customary transition to the correlative idea still remains,
yet there is in reality no belief nor persuasion. A present impression,
then, is absolutely requisite to this whole operation; and when after
this I compare an impression with an idea, and find that their only
difference consists in their different degrees of force and vivacity,
I conclude upon the whole, that belief is a more vivid and intense
conception of an idea, proceeding from its relation to a present

Thus, all probable reasoning is nothing but a species of sensation.
'Tis not solely in poetry and music we must follow our taste and
sentiment, but likewise in philosophy. When I am convinced of any
principle, 'tis only an idea which strikes more strongly upon me. When
I give the preference to one set of arguments above another, I do
nothing but decide from my feeling concerning the superiority of their
influence. Objects have no discoverable connexion together; nor is it
from any other principle but custom operating upon the imagination,
that we can draw any inference from the appearance of one to the
existence of another.

'Twill here be worth our observation, that the past experience, on
which all our judgments concerning cause and effect depend, may operate
on our mind in such an insensible manner as never to be taken notice
of, and may even in some measure be unknown to us. A person, who stops
short in his journey upon meeting a river in his way, foresees the
consequences of his proceeding forward; and his knowledge of these
consequences is conveyed to him by past experience, which informs him
of such certain conjunctions of causes and effects. But can we think,
that on this occasion he reflects on any past experience, and calls
to remembrance instances that he has seen or heard of, in order to
discover the effects of water on animal bodies? No, surely; this is not
the method, in which he proceeds in his reasoning. The idea of sinking
is so closely connected with that of water, and the idea of suffocating
with that of sinking, that the mind makes the transition without the
assistance of the memory. The custom operates before we have time for
reflection. The objects seem so inseparable, that we interpose not
a moment's delay in passing from the one or the other. But as this
transition proceeds from experience, and not from any primary connexion
betwixt the ideas, we must necessarily acknowledge, that experience may
produce a belief and a judgment of causes and effects by a separate
operation, and without being once thought of. This removes all pretext,
if there yet remains any, for asserting that the mind is convinced
by reasoning of that principle, _that instances of which we have no
experience, must necessarily resemble those of which we have_. For we
here find, that the understanding or imagination can draw inferences
from past experience, without reflecting on it; much more without
forming any principle concerning it, or reasoning upon that principle.

In general we may observe, that in all the most established and uniform
conjunctions of causes and effects, such as those of gravity, impulse,
solidity, &c. the mind never carries its view expressly to consider
any past experience: though in other associations of objects, which
are more rare and unusual, it may assist the custom and transition
of ideas by this reflection. Nay we find in some cases, that the
reflection produces the belief without the custom; or, more properly
speaking, that the reflection produces the custom in an _oblique_ and
_artificial_ manner. I explain myself. 'Tis certain, that not only in
philosophy, but even in common life, we may attain the knowledge of a
particular cause merely by one experiment, provided it be made with
judgment, and after a careful removal of all foreign and superfluous
circumstances. Now, as after one experiment of this kind, the mind,
upon the appearance either of the cause or the effect, can draw an
inference concerning the existence of its correlative, and as a habit
can never be acquired merely by one instance, it may be thought that
belief cannot in this case be esteemed the effect of custom. But this
difficulty will vanish, if we consider, that, though we are here
supposed to have had only one experiment of a particular effect,
yet we have many millions to convince us of this principle, _that
like objects, placed in like circumstances, will always produce like
effects_; and as this principle has established itself by a sufficient
custom, it bestows an evidence and firmness on any opinion to which it
can be applied. The connexion of the ideas is not habitual after one
experiment; but this connexion is comprehended under another principle
that is habitual; which brings us back to our hypothesis. In all cases
we transfer our experience to instances of which we have no experience,
either _expressly_ or _tacitly_, either _directly_ or _indirectly_.

I must not conclude this subject without observing, that 'tis very
difficult to talk of the operations of the mind with perfect propriety
and exactness; because common language has seldom made any very nice
distinctions among them, but has generally called by the same term
all such as nearly resemble each other. And as this is a source
almost inevitable of obscurity and confusion in the author, so it may
frequently give rise to doubts and objections in the reader, which
otherwise he would never have dreamed of. Thus, my general position,
that an opinion or belief is _nothing but a strong and lively idea
derived from a present impression related to it_, may be liable to the
following objection, by reason of a little ambiguity in those words
_strong_ and _lively_. It may be said, that not only an impression
may give rise to reasoning, but that an idea may also have the same
influence; especially upon my principle, _that all our ideas are
derived from correspondent impressions_. For, suppose I form at present
an idea, of which I have forgot the correspondent impression, I am able
to conclude, from this idea, that such an impression did once exist;
and as this conclusion is attended with belief, it may be asked, from
whence are the qualities of force and vivacity derived which constitute
this belief? And to this I answer very readily, _from the present
idea_. For as this idea is not here considered as the representation
of any absent object, but as a real perception in the mind, of which
we are intimately conscious, it must be able to bestow, on whatever
is related to it, the same quality, call it _firmness, or solidity,
or force, or vivacity_, with which the mind reflects upon it, and is
assured of its present existence. The idea here supplies the place of
an impression, and is entirely the same, so far as regards our present

Upon the same principles we need not be surprised to hear of the
remembrance of an idea; that is, of the idea of an idea, and of
its force and vivacity superior to the loose conceptions of the
imagination. In thinking of our past thoughts we not only delineate out
the objects of which we were thinking, but also conceive the action of
the mind in the meditation, that certain _je-ne-scai-quoi_, of which
'tis impossible to give any definition or description, but which every
one sufficiently understands. When the memory offers an idea of this,
and represents it as past, 'tis easily conceived how that idea may have
more vigour and firmness than when we think of a past thought of which
we have no remembrance.

After this, any one will understand how we may form the idea of an
impression and of an idea, and how we may believe the existence of an
impression and of an idea.

[7] Naturane nobis, inquit, datum dicam, an errore quodam, ut, cum
ea loca videamus, in quibus memoria dignos viros acceperimus multum
esse versatos, magis moveamur, quam siquando eorum ipsorum aut facta
audiamus, aut scriptum aliquod legamus? velut ego nunc moveor. Venit
enim mihi Platonis in mentem: quem accipimus prinum hîc disputare
solitum: cujus etiam illi hortuli propinqui non memoriam solûm
mihi afferunt, sed ipsum videntur in conspectu meo hic ponere. Hîc
Speusippus, hic Xenocrates, hic ejus auditor Polemo; cujus ipsa illa
sessio fuit, quam videamus. Equidem etiam curiam nostram, hostiliam
dico, non hanc novam, quæ mihi minor esse videtur postquam est major,
solebam intuens Scipionem, Catonem, Lælium, nostrum vero in primis avum
cogitare. Tanta vis admonitionis inest in locis; ut non sine causa ex
his memoriæ ducta sit diciplina.--_Cicero de Finibus, lib. 5._



However convincing the foregoing arguments may appear, we must not
rest contented with them, but must turn the subject on every side, in
order to find some new points of view, from which we may illustrate
and confirm such extraordinary and such fundamental principles. A
scrupulous hesitation to receive any new hypothesis is so laudable a
disposition in philosophers, and so necessary to the examination of
truth, that it deserves to be complied with, and requires that every
argument be produced which may tend to their satisfaction, and every
objection removed which may stop them in their reasoning.

I have often observed, that, beside cause and effect, the two relations
of resemblance and contiguity are to be considered as associating
principles of thought, and as capable of conveying the imagination from
one idea to another. I have also observed, that when of two objects,
connected together by any of these relations, one is immediately
present to the memory or senses, not only the mind is conveyed to
its co-relative by means of the associating principle, but likewise
conceives it with an additional force and vigour, by the united
operation of that principle, and of the present impression. All this
I have observed, in order to confirm, by analogy, my explication of
our judgments concerning cause and effect. But this very argument may
perhaps be turned against me, and, instead of a confirmation of my
hypothesis, may become an objection to it. For it may be said, that
if all the parts of that hypothesis be true, viz. _that_ these three
species of relation are derived from the same principles; _that_ their
effects, in enforcing and enlivening our ideas, are the same; and
_that_ belief is nothing but a more forcible and vivid conception of an
idea; it should follow, that that action of the mind may not only be
derived from the relation of cause and effect, but also from those of
contiguity and resemblance. But as we find by experience that belief
arises only from causation, and that we can draw no inference from one
object to another, except they be connected by this relation, we may
conclude, that there is some error in that reasoning which leads us
into such difficulties.

This is the objection: let us now consider its solution. 'Tis evident,
that whatever is present to the memory, striking upon the mind with
a vivacity which resembles an immediate impression, must become of
considerable moment in all the operations of the mind, and must easily
distinguish itself above the mere fictions of the imagination. Of
these impressions or ideas of the memory we form a kind of system,
comprehending whatever we remember to have been present, either to our
internal perception or senses; and every particular of that system,
joined to the present impressions, we are pleased to call a _reality_.
But the mind stops not here. For finding, that with this system of
perceptions there is another connected by custom, or, if you will,
by the relation of cause or effect, it proceeds to the consideration
of their ideas; and as it feels that 'tis in a manner necessarily
determined to view these particular ideas, and that the custom or
relation, by which it is determined, admits not of the least change,
it forms them into a new system, which it likewise dignifies with the
title of _realities_. The first of these systems is the object of the
memory and senses; the second of the judgment.

'Tis this latter principle which peoples the world, and brings us
acquainted with such existences as, by their removal in time and
place, lie beyond the reach of the senses and memory. By means of it
I paint the universe in my imagination, and fix my attention on any
part of it I please. I form an idea of Rome, which I neither see nor
remember, but which is connected with such impressions as I remember
to have received from the conversation and books of travellers and
historians. This idea of Rome I place in a certain situation on the
idea of an object which I call the globe. I join to it the conception
of a particular government, and religion and manners. I look backward
and consider its first foundation, its several revolutions, successes
and misfortunes. All this, and every thing else which I believe, are
nothing but ideas, though, by their force and settled order, arising
from custom and the relation of cause and effect, they distinguish
themselves from the other ideas, which are merely the offspring of the

As to the influence of contiguity and resemblance, we may observe, that
if the contiguous and resembling object be comprehended in this system
of realities, there is no doubt but these two relations will assist
that of cause and effect, and infix the related idea with more force
in the imagination. This I shall enlarge upon presently. Meanwhile I
shall carry my observation a step farther, and assert, that even where
the related object is but feigned, the relation will serve to enliven
the idea, and increase its influence. A poet, no doubt, will be the
better able to form a strong description of the Elysian fields, that he
prompts his imagination by the view of a beautiful meadow or garden;
as at another time he may, by his fancy, place himself in the midst of
these fabulous regions, that by the feigned contiguity he may enliven
his imagination.

But though I cannot altogether exclude the relations of resemblance and
contiguity from operating on the fancy in this manner, 'tis observable
that, when single, their influence is very feeble and uncertain. As
the relation of cause and effect is requisite to persuade us of any
real existence, so is this persuasion requisite to give force to these
other relations. For where upon the appearance of an impression we not
only feign another object, but likewise arbitrarily, and of our mere
good-will and pleasure give it a particular relation to the impression,
this can have but a small effect upon the mind; nor is there any
reason, why, upon the return of the same impression, we should be
determined to place the same object in the same relation to it. There
is no manner of necessity for the mind to feign any resembling and
contiguous objects; and if it feigns such, there is as little necessity
for it always to confine itself to the same, without any difference or
variation. And indeed such a fiction is founded on so little reason,
that nothing but pure _caprice_ can determine the mind to form it; and
that principle being fluctuating and uncertain, 'tis impossible it can
ever operate with any considerable degree of force and constancy. The
mind foresees and anticipates the change; and even from the very first
instant feels the looseness of its actions, and the weak hold it has
of its objects. And as this imperfection is very sensible in every
single instance, it still increases by experience and observation, when
we compare the several instances we may remember, and form a _general
rule_ against the reposing any assurance in those momentary glimpses of
light, which arise in the imagination from a feigned resemblance and

The relation of cause and effect has all the opposite advantages. The
objects it presents are fixed and unalterable. The impressions of the
memory never change in any considerable degree; and each impression
draws along with it a precise idea, which takes its place in the
imagination, as something solid and real, certain and invariable. The
thought is always determined to pass from the impression to the idea,
and from that particular impression to that particular idea, without
any choice or hesitation.

But not content with removing this objection, I shall endeavour to
extract from it a proof of the present doctrine. Contiguity and
resemblance have an effect much inferior to causation; but still
have some effect, and augment the conviction of any opinion, and the
vivacity of any conception. If this can be proved in several new
instances, beside what we have already observed, 'twill be allowed
no inconsiderable argument, that belief is nothing but a lively idea
related to a present impression.

To begin with contiguity; it has been remarked among the Mahometans
as well as Christians, that those _pilgrims_, who have seen Mecca or
the Holy Land are ever after more faithful and zealous believers, than
those who have not had that advantage. A man, whose memory presents
him with a lively image of the Red Sea, and the Desert, and Jerusalem,
and Galilee, can never doubt of any miraculous events, which are
related either by Moses or the Evangelists. The lively idea of the
places passes by an easy transition to the facts, which are supposed
to have been related to them by contiguity, and increases the belief
by increasing the vivacity of the conception. The remembrance of
these fields and rivers has the same influence on the vulgar as a new
argument, and from the same causes.

We may form a like observation concerning _resemblance_. We have
remarked, that the conclusion which we draw from a present object to
its absent cause or effect, is never founded on any qualities which
we observe in that object, considered in itself; or, in other words,
that 'tis impossible to determine otherwise than by experience, what
will result from any phenomenon, or what has preceded it. But though
this be so evident in itself, that it seemed not to require any proof,
yet some philosophers have imagined that there is an apparent cause
for the communication of motion, and that a reasonable man might
immediately infer the motion of one body from the impulse of another,
without having recourse to any past observation. That this opinion is
false will admit of an easy proof. For if such an inference may be
drawn merely from the ideas of body, of motion, and of impulse, it must
amount to a demonstration, and must imply the absolute impossibility of
any contrary supposition. Every effect, then, beside the communication
of motion, implies a formal contradiction; and 'tis impossible not only
that it can exist, but also that it can be conceived. But we may soon
satisfy ourselves of the contrary, by forming a clear and consistent
idea of one body's moving upon another, and of its rest immediately
upon the contact; or of its returning back in the same line in which
it came; or of its annihilation, or circular or elliptical motion:
and in short, of an infinite number of other changes, which they may
suppose it to undergo. These suppositions are all consistent and
natural; and the reason why we imagine the communication of motion
to be more consistent and natural, not only than those suppositions,
but also than any other natural effect, is founded on the relation of
_resemblance_ betwixt the cause and effect, which is here united to
experience, and binds the objects in the closest and most intimate
manner to each other, so as to make us imagine them to be absolutely
inseparable. Resemblance, then, has the same or a parallel influence
with experience; and as the only immediate effect of experience is to
associate our ideas together, it follows that all belief arises from
the association of ideas, according to my hypothesis.

'Tis universally allowed by the writers on optics, that the eye at
all times sees an equal number of physical points, and that a man on
the top of a mountain has no larger an image presented to his senses,
than when he is cooped up in the narrowest court or chamber. 'Tis only
by experience that he infers the greatness of the object from some
peculiar qualities of the image; and this inference of the judgment
he confounds with sensation, as is common on other occasions. Now
'tis evident, that the inference of the judgment is here much more
lively than what is usual in our common reasonings, and that a man
has a more vivid conception of the vast extent of the ocean from the
image he receives by the eye, when he stands on the top of the high
promontory, than merely from hearing the roaring of the waters. He
feels a more sensible pleasure from its magnificence, which is a proof
of a more lively idea; and he confounds his judgment with sensation,
which is another proof of it. But as the inference is equally certain
and immediate in both cases, this superior vivacity of our conception
in one case can proceed from nothing but this, that in drawing an
inference from the sight, beside the customary conjunction, there is
also a resemblance betwixt the image and the object we infer, which
strengthens the relation, and conveys the vivacity of the impression to
the related idea with an easier and more natural movement.

No weakness of human nature is more universal and conspicuous than what
we commonly call _credulity_, or a too easy faith in the testimony of
others; and this weakness is also very naturally accounted for from
the influence of resemblance. When we receive any matter of fact upon
human testimony, our faith arises from the very same origin as our
inferences from causes to effects, and from effects to causes; nor
is there any thing but our _experience_ of the governing principles
of human nature, which can give us any assurance of the veracity of
men. But though experience be the true standard of this, as well as
of all other judgments, we seldom regulate ourselves entirely by it,
but have a remarkable propensity to believe whatever is reported,
even concerning apparitions, enchantments, and prodigies, however
contrary to daily experience and observation. The words or discourses
of others have an intimate connexion with certain ideas in their mind;
and these ideas have also a connexion with the facts or objects which
they represent. This latter connexion is generally much over-rated,
and commands our assent beyond what experience will justify, which can
proceed from nothing beside the resemblance betwixt the ideas and the
facts. Other effects only point out their causes in an oblique manner;
but the testimony of men does it directly, and is to be considered as
an image as well as an effect. No wonder, therefore, we are so rash in
drawing our inferences from it, and are less guided by experience in
our judgments concerning it, than in those upon any other subject.

As resemblance, when conjoined with causation, fortifies our
reasonings, so the want of it in any very great degree is able almost
entirely to destroy them. Of this there is a remarkable instance in
the universal carelessness and stupidity of men with regard to a
future state, where they show as obstinate an incredulity, as they
do a blind credulity on other occasions. There is not indeed a more
ample matter of wonder to the studious, and of regret to the pious
man, than to observe the negligence of the bulk of mankind concerning
their approaching condition; and 'tis with reason, that many eminent
theologians have not scrupled to affirm, that though the vulgar have
no formal principles of infidelity, yet they are really infidels in
their hearts, and have nothing like what we can call a belief of
the eternal duration of their souls. For let us consider on the one
hand what divines have displayed with such eloquence concerning the
importance of eternity; and at the same time reflect, that though in
matters of rhetoric we ought to lay our account with some exaggeration,
we must in this case allow, that the strongest figures are infinitely
inferior to the subject: and after this, let us view on the other hand
the prodigious security of men in this particular: I ask, if these
people really believe what is inculcated on them, and what they pretend
to affirm; and the answer is obviously in the negative. As belief is
an act of the mind arising from custom, 'tis not strange the want of
resemblance should overthrow what custom has established, and diminish
the force of the idea, as much as that latter principle increases it.
A future state is so far removed from our comprehension, and we have
so obscure an idea of the manner in which we shall exist after the
dissolution of the body, that all the reasons we can invent, however
strong in themselves, and however much assisted by education, are never
able with slow imaginations to surmount this difficulty, or bestow a
sufficient authority and force on the idea. I rather choose to ascribe
this incredulity to the faint idea we form of our future condition,
derived from its want of resemblance to the present life, than to that
derived from its remoteness. For I observe, that men are every where
concerned about what may happen after their death, provided it regard
this world; and that there are few to whom their name, their family,
their friends, and their country are in any period of time entirely

And indeed the want of resemblance in this case so entirely destroys
belief, that except those few who, upon cool reflection on the
importance of the subject, have taken care by repeated meditation
to imprint in their minds the arguments for a future state, there
scarce are any who believe the immortality of the soul with a true
and established judgment; such as is derived from the testimony of
travellers and historians. This appears very conspicuously wherever
men have occasion to compare the pleasures and pains, the rewards and
punishments of this life with those of a future; even though the case
does not concern themselves, and there is no violent passion to disturb
their judgment. The Roman Catholics are certainly the most zealous of
any sect in the Christian world; and yet you'll find few among the
more sensible part of that communion who do not blame the Gunpowder
Treason, and the massacre of St Bartholomew, as cruel and barbarous,
though projected or executed against those very people, whom without
any scruple they condemn to eternal and infinite punishments. All we
can say in excuse for this inconsistency is, that they really do not
believe what they affirm concerning a future state; nor is there any
better proof of it than the very inconsistency.

We may add to this a remark, that in matters of religion men take a
pleasure in being terrified, and that no preachers are so popular as
those who excite the most dismal and gloomy passions. In the common
affairs of life, where we feel and are with the solidity of the
subject, nothing can be more disagreeable than fear and terror; and
'tis only in dramatic performances and in religious discourses that
they ever give pleasure. In these latter cases the imagination reposes
itself indolently on the idea; and the passion being softened by the
want of belief in the subject, has no more than the agreeable effect of
enlivening the mind and fixing the attention.

The present hypothesis will receive additional confirmation, if we
examine the effects of other kinds of custom, as well as of other
relations. To understand this we must consider that custom, to which
I attribute all belief and reasoning, may operate upon the mind in
invigorating an idea after two several ways. For supposing that, in
all past experience, we have found two objects to have been always
conjoined together, 'tis evident, that upon the appearance of one of
these objects in an impression, we must, from custom, make an easy
transition to the idea of that object, which usually attends it; and
by means of the present impression and easy transition must conceive
that idea in a stronger and more lively manner than we do any loose
floating image of the fancy. But let us next suppose, that a mere idea
alone, without any of this curious and almost artificial preparation,
should frequently make its appearance in the mind, this idea must,
by degrees, acquire a facility and force; and both by its firm hold
and easy introduction distinguish itself from any new and unusual
idea. This is the only particular in which these two kinds of custom
agree; and if it appear that their effects on the judgment are similar
and proportionable, we may certainly conclude, that the foregoing
explication of that faculty is satisfactory. But can we doubt of this
agreement in their influence on the judgment, when we consider the
nature and effects of _education_?

All those opinions and notions of things, to which we have been
accustomed from our infancy, take such deep root, that 'tis impossible
for us, by all the powers of reason and experience, to eradicate them;
and this habit not only approaches in its influence, but even on
many occasions prevails over that which arises from the constant and
inseparable union of causes and effects. Here we must not be contented
with saying, that the vividness of the idea produces the belief:
we must maintain that they are individually the same. The frequent
repetition of any idea infixes it in the imagination; but could never
possibly of itself produce belief, if that act of the mind was, by the
original constitution of our natures, annexed only to a reasoning and
comparison of ideas. Custom may lead us into some false comparison
of ideas. This is the utmost effect we can conceive of it; but 'tis
certain it could never supply the place of that comparison, nor produce
any act of the mind which naturally belonged to that principle.

A person that has lost a leg or an arm by amputation endeavours for
a long time afterwards to serve himself with them. After the death
of any one, 'tis a common remark of the whole family, but especially
the servants, that they can scarce believe him to be dead, but still
imagine him to be in his chamber or in any other place, where they
were accustomed to find him. I have often heard in conversation, after
talking of a person that is any way celebrated, that one, who has no
acquaintance with him, will say, _I have never seen such a one, but
almost fancy I have, so often have I heard talk of him_. All these are
parallel instances.

If we consider this argument from _education_ in a proper light, 'twill
appear very convincing; and the more so, that 'tis founded on one
of the most common phenomena that is any where to be met with. I am
persuaded that, upon examination, we shall find more than one half of
those opinions that prevail among mankind to be owing to education, and
that the principles which are thus implicitly embraced, overbalance
those, which are owing either to abstract reasoning or experience.
As liars, by the frequent repetition of their lies, come at last to
remember them; so the judgment, or rather the imagination, by the like
means, may have ideas so strongly imprinted on it, and conceive them
in so full a light, that they may operate upon the mind in the same
manner with those which the senses, memory, or reason present to us.
But as education is an artificial and not a natural cause, and as its
maxims are frequently contrary to reason, and even to themselves in
different times and places, it is never upon that account recognised
by philosophers; though in reality it be built almost on the same
foundation of custom and repetition as our reasonings from causes and

[8] In general we may observe, that as our assent to all probable
reasonings is founded on the vivacity of ideas, it resembles many
of those whimsies and prejudices which are rejected under the
opprobrious character of being the offspring of the imagination. By
this expression it appears, that the word imagination, is commonly used
in two different senses; and though nothing be more contrary to true
philosophy than this inaccuracy, yet, in the following reasonings, I
have often been obliged to fall into it. When I oppose the imagination
to the memory, I mean the faculty by which we form our fainter ideas.
When I oppose it to reason, I mean the same faculty, excluding only our
demonstrative and probable reasonings. When I oppose it to neither,
'tis indifferent whether it be taken in the larger or more limited
sense, or at least the context will sufficiently explain the meaning.



But though education be disclaimed by philosophy, as a fallacious
ground of assent to any opinion, it prevails nevertheless in the world,
and is the cause why all systems are apt to be rejected at first as
new and unusual. This, perhaps, will be the fate of what I have here
advanced concerning _belief_; and though the proofs I have produced
appear to me perfectly conclusive, I expect not to make many proselytes
to my opinion. Men will scarce ever be persuaded, that effects of
such consequence can flow from principles which are seemingly so
inconsiderable, and that the far greatest part of our reasonings, with
all our actions and passions, can be derived from nothing but custom
and habit. To obviate this objection, I shall here anticipate a little
what would more properly fall under our consideration afterwards, when
we come to treat of the Passions and the Sense of Beauty.

There is implanted in the human mind a perception of pain and pleasure,
as the chief spring and moving principle of all its actions. But pain
and pleasure have two ways of making their appearance in the mind;
of which the one has effects very different from the other. They may
either appear an impression to the actual feeling, or only in idea, as
at present when I mention them. 'Tis evident the influence of these
upon our actions is far from being equal. Impressions always actuate
the soul, and that in the highest degree; but 'tis not every idea which
has the same effect. Nature has proceeded with caution in this case,
and seems to have carefully avoided the inconveniences of two extremes.
Did impressions alone influence the will, we should every moment of
our lives be subject to the greatest calamities; because, though we
foresaw their approach, we should not be provided by nature with any
principle of action, which might impel us to avoid them. On the other
hand, did every idea influence our actions, our condition would not be
much mended. For such is the unsteadiness and activity of thought, that
the images of every thing, especially of goods and evils, are always
wandering in the mind; and were it moved by every idle conception of
this kind, it would never enjoy a moment's peace and tranquillity.

Nature has therefore chosen a medium, and has neither bestowed on
every idea of good and evil the power of actuating the will, nor
yet has entirely excluded them from this influence. Though an idle
fiction has no efficacy, yet we find by experience, that the ideas
of those objects, which we believe either are or will be existent,
produce in a lesser degree the same effect with those impressions,
which are immediately present to the senses and perception. The effect
then of belief is to raise up a simple idea to an equality with our
impressions, and bestow on it a like influence on the passions. This
effect it can only have by making an idea approach an impression in
force and vivacity. For as the different degrees of force make all
the original difference betwixt an impression and an idea, they must
of consequence be the source of all the differences in the effects
of these perceptions, and their removal, in whole or in part, the
cause of every new resemblance they acquire. Wherever we can make
an idea approach the impressions in force and vivacity, it will
likewise imitate them in its influence on the mind; and _vice versa_,
where it imitates them in that influence, as in the present case,
this must proceed from its approaching them in force and vivacity.
Belief, therefore, since it causes an idea to imitate the effects of
the impressions, must make it resemble them in these qualities, and
is nothing but _a more vivid and intense conception of any idea_.
This then may both serve as an additional argument for the present
system, and may give us a notion after what manner our reasonings from
causation are able to operate on the will and passions.

As belief is almost absolutely requisite to the exciting our passions,
so the passions, in their turn, are very favourable to belief; and
not only such facts as convey agreeable emotions, but very often such
as give pain, do upon that account become more readily the objects of
faith and opinion. A coward, whose fears are easily awakened, readily
assents to every account of danger he meets with; as a person of a
sorrowful and melancholy disposition is very credulous of every thing
that nourishes his prevailing passion. When any affecting object is
presented, it gives the alarm, and excites immediately a degree of
its proper passion; especially in persons who are naturally inclined
to that passion. This emotion passes by an easy transition to the
imagination; and, diffusing itself over our idea of the affecting
object, makes us form that idea with greater force and vivacity,
and consequently assent to it, according to the precedent system.
Admiration and surprise have the same effect as the other passions;
and accordingly we may observe, that among the vulgar, quacks
and projectors meet with a more easy faith upon account of their
magnificent pretensions, than if they kept themselves within the
bounds of moderation. The first astonishment, which naturally attends
their miraculous relations, spreads itself over the whole soul, and so
vivifies and enlivens the idea, that it resembles the inferences we
draw from experience. This is a mystery, with which we may be already a
little acquainted, and which we shall have further occasion to be let
into in the progress of this Treatise.

After this account of the influence of belief on the passions, we shall
find less difficulty in explaining its effects on the imagination,
however extraordinary they may appear. 'Tis certain we cannot take
pleasure in any discourse, where our judgment gives no assent to those
images which are presented to our fancy. The conversation of those, who
have acquired a habit of lying, though in affairs of no moment, never
gives any satisfaction; and that because those ideas they present to
us, not being attended with belief, make no impression upon the mind.
Poets themselves, though liars by profession, always endeavour to give
an air of truth to their fictions; and where that is totally neglected,
their performances, however ingenious, will never be able to afford
much pleasure. In short, we may observe, that even when ideas have no
manner of influence on the will and passions, truth and reality are
still requisite, in order to make them entertaining to the imagination.

But if we compare together all the phenomena that occur on this head,
we shall find, that truth, however necessary it may seem in all works
of genius, has no other effect than to procure an easy reception for
the ideas, and to make the mind acquiesce in them with satisfaction,
or at least without reluctance. But as this is an effect, which may
easily be supposed to flow from that solidity and force, which,
according to my system, attend those ideas that are established by
reasonings from causation; it follows, that all the influence of
belief upon the fancy may be explained from that system. Accordingly
we may observe, that wherever that influence arises from any other
principles beside truth or reality, they supply its place, and give
an equal entertainment to the imagination. Poets have formed what
they call a poetical system of things, which, though it be believed
neither by themselves nor readers, is commonly esteemed a sufficient
foundation for any fiction. We have been so much accustomed to the
names of Mars, Jupiter, Venus, that in the same manner as education
infixes any opinion, the constant repetition of these ideas makes them
enter into the mind with facility, and prevail upon the fancy, without
influencing the judgment. In like manner tragedians always borrow their
fable, or at least the names of their principal actors, from some known
passage in history; and that not in order to deceive the spectators;
for they will frankly confess, that truth is not in any circumstance
inviolably observed, but in order to procure a more easy reception into
the imagination for those extraordinary events, which they represent.
But this is a precaution which is not required of comic poets, whose
personages and incidents, being of a more familiar kind, enter easily
into the conception, and are received without any such formality, even
though at first sight they be known to be fictitious, and the pure
offspring of the fancy.

This mixture of truth and falsehood in the fables of tragic poets not
only serves our present purpose, by showing that the imagination can
be satisfied without any absolute belief or assurance; but may in
another view be regarded as a very strong confirmation of this system.
'Tis evident, that poets make use of this artifice of borrowing the
names of their persons, and the chief events of their poems, from
history, in order to procure a more easy reception for the whole, and
cause it to make a deeper impression on the fancy and affections. The
several incidents of the piece acquire a kind of relation by being
united into one poem or representation; and if any of these incidents
be an object of belief, it bestows a force and vivacity on the others,
which are related to it. The vividness of the first conception diffuses
itself along the relations, and is conveyed, as by so many pipes or
canals, to every idea that has any communication with the primary one.
This indeed can never amount to a perfect assurance; and that because
the union among the ideas is in a manner accidental: but still it
approaches so near in its influence, as may convince us that they are
derived from the same origin. Belief must please the imagination by
means of the force and vivacity which attends it; since every idea,
which has force and vivacity, is found to be agreeable to that faculty.

To confirm this we may observe, that the assistance is mutual betwixt
the judgment and fancy, as well as betwixt the judgment and passion;
and that belief not only gives vigour to the imagination, but that a
vigorous and strong imagination is of all talents the most proper to
procure belief and authority. 'Tis difficult for us to withhold our
assent from what is painted out to us in all the colours of eloquence;
and the vivacity produced by the fancy is in many cases greater than
that which arises from custom and experience. We are hurried away by
the lively imagination of our author or companion; and even he himself
is often a victim to his own fire and genius.

Nor will it be amiss to remark, that as a lively imagination very often
degenerates into madness or folly, and bears it a great resemblance in
its operations; so they influence the judgment after the same manner,
and produce belief from the very same principles. When the imagination,
from any extraordinary ferment of the blood and spirits, acquires such
a vivacity as disorders all its powers and faculties, there is no means
of distinguishing betwixt truth and falsehood; but every loose fiction
or idea, having the same influence as the impressions of the memory, or
the conclusions of the judgment, is received on the same footing, and
operates with equal force on the passions. A present impression and a
customary transition are now no longer necessary to enliven our ideas.
Every chimera of the brain is as vivid and intense as any of those
inferences, which we formerly dignified with the name of conclusions
concerning matters of fact, and sometimes as the present impressions of
the senses.

We may observe the same effect of poetry in a lesser degree; and
this is common both to poetry and madness, that the vivacity they
bestow on the ideas is not derived from the particular situations or
connexions of the objects of these ideas, but from the present temper
and disposition of the person. But how great soever the pitch may be
to which this vivacity rise, 'tis evident, that in poetry it never
has the same _feeling_ with that which arises in the mind, when we
reason, though even upon the lowest species of probability. The mind
can easily distinguish betwixt the one and the other; and whatever
emotion the poetical enthusiasm may give to the spirits, 'tis still
the mere phantom of belief or persuasion. The case is the same with the
idea as with the passion it occasions. There is no passion of the human
mind but what may arise from poetry; though, at the same time, the
_feelings_ of the passions are very different when excited by poetical
fictions, from what they are when they arise from belief and reality.
A passion which is disagreeable in real life, may afford the highest
entertainment in a tragedy or epic poem. In the latter case it lies
not with that weight upon us: it feels less firm and solid, and has no
other than the agreeable effect of exciting the spirits, and rousing
the attention. The difference in the passions is a clear proof of a
like difference in those ideas from which the passions are derived.
Where the vivacity arises from a customary conjunction with a present
impression, though the imagination may not, in appearance, be so much
moved, yet there is always something more forcible and real in its
actions than in the fervours of poetry and eloquence. The force of our
mental actions in this case, no more than in any other, is not to be
measured by the apparent agitation of the mind. A poetical description
may have a more sensible effect on the fancy than an historical
narration. It may collect more of those circumstances that form a
complete image or picture. It may seem to set the object before us in
more lively colours. But still the ideas it presents are different to
the _feeling_ from those which arise from the memory and the judgment.
There is something weak and imperfect amidst all that seeming vehemence
of thought and sentiment which attends the fictions of poetry.

We shall afterwards have occasion to remark both the resemblances and
differences betwixt a poetical enthusiasm and a serious conviction. In
the mean time, I cannot forbear observing, that the great difference in
their feeling proceeds, in some measure, from reflection and _general
rules_. We observe, that the vigour of conception which fictions
receive from poetry and eloquence, is a circumstance merely accidental,
of which every idea is equally susceptible; and that such fictions are
connected with nothing that is real. This observation makes us only
lend ourselves, so to speak, to the fiction, but causes the idea to
feel very different from the eternal established persuasions founded on
memory and custom. They are somewhat of the same kind; but the one is
much inferior to the other, both in its causes and effects.

A like reflection on _general rules_ keeps us from augmenting our
belief upon every increase of the force and vivacity of our ideas.
Where an opinion admits of no doubt, or opposite probability, we
attribute to it a full conviction; though the want of resemblance, or
contiguity, may render its force inferior to that of other opinions.
'Tis thus the understanding corrects the appearances of the senses, and
makes us imagine, that an object at twenty foot distance seems even to
the eye as large as one of the same dimensions at ten.

We may observe the same effect of poetry in a lesser degree; only with
this difference, that the least reflection dissipates the illusions
of poetry, and places the objects in their proper light. 'Tis however
certain, that in the warmth of a poetical enthusiasm, a poet has a
counterfeit belief, and even a kind of vision of his objects; and
if there be any shadow of argument to support this belief nothing
contributes more to his full conviction than a blaze of poetical
figures and images, which have their effect upon the poet himself, as
well as upon his readers.



But in order to bestow on this system its full force and evidence, we
must carry our eye from it a moment to consider its consequences, and
explain, from the same principles, some other species of reasoning
which are derived from the same origin.

Those philosophers who have divided human reason into _knowledge and
probability_, and have defined the first to be _that evidence which
arises from the comparison of ideas_, are obliged to comprehend all our
arguments from causes or effects under the general term of probability.
But though every one be free to use his terms in what sense he pleases;
and accordingly, in the precedent part of this discourse, I have
followed this method of expression; 'tis however certain, that in
common discourse we readily affirm, that many arguments from causation
exceed probability, and may be received as a superior kind of evidence.
One would appear ridiculous who would say, that 'tis only probable the
sun will rise to-morrow, or that all men must die; though 'tis plain we
have no further assurance of these facts than what experience affords
us. For this reason t'would perhaps be more convenient, in order at
once to preserve the common signification of words, and mark the
several degrees of evidence, to distinguish human reason into three
kinds, viz. _that from knowledge, from proofs, and from probabilities_.
By knowledge, I mean the assurance arising from the comparison of
ideas. By proofs, those arguments which are derived from the relation
of cause and effect, and which are entirely free from doubt and
uncertainty. By probability, that evidence which is still attended with
uncertainty. 'Tis this last species of reasoning I proceed to examine.

Probability or reasoning from conjecture may be divided into two kinds,
viz. that which is founded on _chance_, and that which arises from
_causes_. We shall consider each of these in order.

The idea of cause and effect is derived from experience, which,
presenting us with certain objects constantly conjoined with each
other, produces such a habit of surveying them in that relation, that
we cannot, without a sensible violence, survey them in any other. On
the other hand, as chance is nothing real in itself, and, properly
speaking, is merely the negation of a cause, its influence on the mind
is contrary to that of causation; and 'tis essential to it to leave the
imagination perfectly indifferent, either to consider the existence or
non-existence of that object which is regarded as contingent. A cause
traces the way to our thought, and in a manner forces us to survey such
certain objects in such certain relations. Chance can only destroy
this determination of the thought, and leave the mind in its native
situation of indifference; in which, upon the absence of a cause, 'tis
instantly reinstated.

Since, therefore, an entire indifference is essential to chance, no
one chance can possibly be superior to another, otherwise than as it
is composed of a superior number of equal chances. For if we affirm
that one chance can, after any other manner, be superior to another,
we must at the same time affirm, that there is something which gives
it the superiority, and determines the event rather to that side than
the other; that is, in other words, we must allow of a cause, and
destroy the supposition of chance, which we had before established. A
perfect and total indifference is essential to chance, and one total
indifference can never in itself be either superior or inferior to
another. This truth is not peculiar to my system, but is acknowledged
by every one that forms calculations concerning chances.

And here 'tis remarkable, that though chance and causation be directly
contrary, yet 'tis impossible for us to conceive this combination of
chances, which is requisite to render one hazard superior to another,
without supposing a mixture of causes among the chances, and a
conjunction of necessity in some particulars, with a total indifference
in others. Where nothing limits the chances, every notion that the
most extravagant fancy can form is upon a footing of equality; nor can
there be any circumstance to give one the advantage above another.
Thus, unless we allow that there are some causes to make the dice fall,
and preserve their form in their fall, and lie upon some one of their
sides, we can form no calculation concerning the laws of hazard. But
supposing these causes to operate, and supposing likewise all the rest
to be indifferent and to be determined by chance, 'tis easy to arrive
at a notion of a superior combination of chances. A dye that has four
sides marked with a certain number of spots, and only two with another,
affords us an obvious and easy instance of this superiority. The mind
is here limited by the causes to such a precise number and quality of
the events; and, at the same time, is undetermined in its choice of any
particular event.

Proceeding, then, in that reasoning, wherein we have advanced three
steps; _that_ chance is merely the negation of a cause, and produces a
total indifference in the mind; _that_ one negation of a cause and one
total indifference can never be superior or inferior to another; and
_that_ there must always be a mixture of causes among the chances, in
order to be the foundation of any reasoning. We are next to consider
what effect a superior combination of chances can have upon the mind,
and after what manner it influences our judgment and opinion. Here
we may repeat all the same arguments we employed in examining that
belief which arises from causes; and may prove, after the same manner,
that a superior number of chances produces our assent neither by
_demonstration_ nor _probability_. 'Tis indeed evident, that we can
never, by the comparison of mere ideas, make any discovery which can
be of consequence in this affair, and that 'tis impossible to prove
with certainty that any event must fall on that side were there is a
superior number of chances. To suppose in this case any certainty, were
to overthrow what we have established concerning the opposition of
chances, and their perfect equality and indifference.

Should it be said, that though in an opposition of chances, 'tis
impossible to determine with _certainty_ on which side the event will
fall, yet we can pronounce with certainty, that 'tis more likely and
probable 'twill be on that side where there is a superior number of
chances, than where there is an inferior: should this be said, I
would ask, what is here meant by _likelihood and probability_? The
likelihood and probability of chances is a superior number of equal
chances; and consequently, when we say 'tis likely the event will fall
on the side which is superior, rather than on the inferior, we do no
more than affirm, that where there is a superior number of chances
there is actually a superior, and where there is an inferior there is
an inferior, which are identical propositions, and of no consequence.
The question is, by what means a superior number of equal chances
operates upon the mind, and produces belief or assent, since it appears
that 'tis neither by arguments derived from demonstration, nor from

In order to clear up this difficulty, we shall suppose a person to take
a dye, formed after such a manner as that four of its sides are marked
with one figure, or one number of spots, and two with another; and to
put this dye into the box with an intention of throwing it: 'tis plain,
he must conclude the one figure to be more probable than the other,
and give the preference to that which is inscribed on the greatest
number of sides. He in a manner believes that this will lie uppermost;
though still with hesitation and doubt, in proportion to the number of
chances which are contrary: and according as these contrary chances
diminish, and the superiority increases on the other side, his belief
acquires new degrees of stability and assurance. This belief arises
from an operation of the mind upon the simple and limited object before
us; and therefore its nature will be the more easily discovered and
explained. We have nothing but one single dye to contemplate, in order
to comprehend one of the most curious operations of the understanding.

This dye formed as above, contains three circumstances worthy of our
attention. First, certain causes, such as gravity, solidity, a cubical
figure, &c. which determine it to fall, to preserve its form in its
fall, and to turn up one of its sides. Secondly, a certain number
of sides, which are supposed indifferent. Thirdly, a certain figure
inscribed on each side. These three particulars, form the whole nature
of the dye, so far as relates to our present purpose; and consequently
are the only circumstances regarded by the mind in its forming a
judgment concerning the result of such a throw. Let us therefore
consider gradually and carefully what must be the influence of these
circumstances on the thought and imagination.

First, we have already observed, that the mind is determined by custom
to pass from any cause to its effect, and that upon the appearance
of the one, 'tis almost impossible for it not to form an idea of the
other. Their constant conjunction in past instances has produced such
a habit in the mind, that it always conjoins them in its thought, and
infers the existence of the one from that of its usual attendant. When
it considers the dye as no longer supported by the box, it cannot
without violence regard it as suspended in the air; but naturally
places it on the table, and views it as turning up one of its sides.
This is the effect of the intermingled causes, which are requisite to
our forming any calculation concerning chances.

Secondly, 'tis supposed, that though the dye be necessarily determined
to fall, and turn up one of its sides, yet there is nothing to fix the
particular side, but that this is determined entirely by chance. The
very nature and essence of chance is a negation of causes, and the
leaving the mind in a perfect indifference among those events which
are supposed contingent. When, therefore, the thought is determined
by the causes to consider the dye as falling and turning up one of
its sides, the chances present all these sides as equal, and make us
consider every one of them, one after another, as alike probable and
possible. The imagination passes from the cause, viz. the throwing of
the dye, to the effect, viz. the turning up one of the six sides; and
feels a kind of impossibility both of stopping short in the way, and of
forming any other idea. But as all these six sides are incompatible,
and the dye cannot turn up above one at once, this principle directs us
not to consider all of them at once as lying uppermost, which we look
upon as impossible: neither does it direct us with its entire force to
any particular side; for in that case this side would be considered
as certain and inevitable; but it directs us to the whole six sides
after such a manner as to divide its force equally among them. We
conclude in general, that some one of them must result from the throw:
we run all of them over in our minds: the determination of the thought
is common to all; but no more of its force falls to the share of any
one, than what is suitable to its proportion with the rest. 'Tis after
this manner the original impulse, and consequently the vivacity of
thought arising from the causes, is divided and split in pieces by the
intermingled chances.

We have already seen the influence of the two first qualities of the
dye, viz. the _causes_, and the _number_, and _indifference_ of the
sides, and have learned how they give an impulse to the thought, and
divide that impulse into as many parts as there are units in the number
of sides. We must now consider the effects of the third particular,
viz. the _figures_ inscribed on each side. 'Tis evident, that where
several sides have the same figure inscribed on them, they must concur
in their influence on the mind, and must unite upon one image or idea
of a figure all those divided impulses, that were dispersed over the
several sides, upon which that figure is inscribed. Were the question
only what side will be turned up, these are all perfectly equal, and no
one could ever have any advantage above another. But as the question
is concerning the figure, and as the same figure is presented by more
than one side, 'tis evident that the impulses belonging to all these
sides must re-unite in that one figure, and become stronger and more
forcible by the union. Four sides are supposed in the present case
to have the same figure inscribed on them, and two to have another
figure. The impulses of the former are therefore superior to those of
the latter. But as the events are contrary, and 'tis impossible both
these figures can be turned up; the impulses likewise become contrary,
and the inferior destroys the superior, as far as its strength goes.
The vivacity of the idea is always proportionable to the degrees of the
impulse or tendency to the transition; and belief is the same with the
vivacity of the idea, according to the precedent doctrine.



What I have said concerning the probability of chances, can serve to
no other purpose than to assist us in explaining the probability of
causes; since 'tis commonly allowed by philosophers, that what the
vulgar call chance is nothing but a secret and concealed cause. That
species of probability, therefore, is what we must chiefly examine.

The probabilities of causes are of several kinds; but are all derived
from the same origin, viz. _the association of ideas to a present
impression_. As the habit which produces the association, arises from
the frequent conjunction of objects, it must arrive at its perfection
by degrees, and must acquire new force from each instance that falls
under our observation. The first instance has little or no force:
the second makes some addition to it: the third becomes still more
sensible; and 'tis by these slow steps that our judgment arrives at
a full assurance. But before it attains this pitch of perfection, it
passes through several inferior degrees, and in all of them is only to
be esteemed a presumption or probability. The gradation therefore from
probabilities to proofs is in many cases insensible; and the difference
betwixt these kinds of evidence is more easily perceived in the remote
degrees, than in the near and contiguous.

'Tis worthy of remark on this occasion, that though the species of
probability here explained be the first in order, and naturally takes
place before any entire proof can exist, yet no one, who is arrived
at the age of maturity, can any longer be acquainted with it. 'Tis
true, nothing is more common than for people of the most advanced
knowledge to have attained only an imperfect experience of many
particular events; which naturally produces only an imperfect habit
and transition: but then we must consider, that the mind, having
formed another observation concerning the connexion of causes and
effects, gives new force to its reasoning from that observation; and
by means of it can build an argument on one single experiment, when
duly prepared and examined. What we have found once to follow from any
object, we conclude will for ever follow from it; and if this maxim be
not always built upon as certain, 'tis not for want of a sufficient
number of experiments, but because we frequently meet with instances
to the contrary; which leads us to the second species of probability,
where there is a _contrariety_ in our experience and observation.

'Twould be very happy for men in the conduct of their lives and
actions, were the same objects always conjoined together, and we
had nothing to fear but the mistakes of our own judgment, without
having any reason to apprehend the uncertainty of nature. But as 'tis
frequently found, that one observation is contrary to another, and that
causes and effects follow not in the same order, of which we have had
experience, we are obliged to vary our reasoning on account of this
uncertainty, and take into consideration the contrariety of events. The
first question that occurs on this head, is concerning the nature and
causes of the contrariety.

The vulgar, who take things according to their first appearance,
attribute the uncertainty of events to such an uncertainty in the
causes, as makes them often fail of their usual influence, though
they meet with no obstacle nor impediment in their operation. But
philosophers observing, that almost in every part of nature there is
contained a vast variety of springs and principles, which are hid,
by reason of their minuteness or remoteness, find that 'tis at least
possible the contrariety of events may not proceed from any contingency
in the cause, but from the secret operation of contrary causes. This
possibility is converted into certainty by farther observation, when
they remark, that upon an exact scrutiny, a contrariety of effects
always betrays a contrariety of causes, and proceeds from their mutual
hinderance and opposition. A peasant can give no better reason for
the stopping of any clock or watch than to say, that commonly it
does not go right: but an artisan easily perceives, that the same
force in the spring or pendulum has always the same influence on the
wheels; but fails of its usual effect, perhaps by reason of a grain of
dust, which puts a stop to the whole movement. From the observation
of several parallel instances, philosophers form a maxim, that the
connexion betwixt all causes and effects is equally necessary, and that
its seeming uncertainty in some instances proceeds from the secret
opposition of contrary causes.

But however philosophers and the vulgar may differ in their explication
of the contrariety of events, their inferences from it are always of
the same kind, and founded on the same principles. A contrariety of
events in the past may give us a kind of hesitating belief for the
future, after two several ways. First, by producing an imperfect habit
and transition from the present impression to the related idea. When
the conjunction of any two objects is frequent, without being entirely
constant, the mind is determined to pass from one object to the other;
but not with so entire a habit, as when the union is uninterrupted, and
all the instances we have ever met with are uniform and of a piece.
We find from common experience, in our actions as well as reasonings,
that a constant perseverance in any course of life produces a strong
inclination and tendency to continue for the future; though there
are habits of inferior degrees of force, proportioned to the inferior
degrees of steadiness and uniformity in our conduct.

There is no doubt but this principle sometimes takes place, and
produces those inferences we draw from contrary phenomena; though I
am persuaded that, upon examination, we shall not find it to be the
principle that most commonly influences the mind in this species of
reasoning. When we follow only the habitual determination of the mind,
we make the transition without any reflection, and interpose not a
moment's delay betwixt the view of one object, and the belief of that
which is often found to attend it. As the custom depends not upon any
deliberation, it operates immediately, without allowing any time for
reflection. But this method of proceeding we have but few instances of
in our probable reasonings; and even fewer than in those, which are
derived from the uninterrupted conjunction of objects. In the former
species of reasoning we commonly take knowingly into consideration
the contrariety of past events; we compare the different sides of the
contrariety, and carefully weigh the experiments, which we have on each
side: whence we may conclude, that our reasonings of this kind arise
not _directly_ from the habit, but in an _oblique_ manner; which we
must now endeavour to explain.

'Tis evident, that when an object is attended with contrary effects,
we judge of them only by our past experience, and always consider
those as possible, which we have observed to follow from it. And as
past experience regulates our judgment concerning the possibility of
these effects, so it does that concerning their probability; and that
effect, which has been the most common, we always esteem the most
likely. Here then are two things to be considered, viz. the _reasons_
which determine us to make the past a standard for the future, and the
_manner_ how we extract a single judgment from a contrariety of past

First we may observe, that the supposition, _that the future resembles
the past_, is not founded on arguments of any kind, but is derived
entirely from habit, by which we are determined to expect for the
future the same train of objects to which we have been accustomed. This
habit or determination to transfer the past to the future is full and
perfect; and consequently the first impulse of the imagination in this
species of reasoning is endowed with the same qualities.

But, _secondly_, when in considering past experiments we find them
of a contrary nature, this determination, though full and perfect in
itself, presents us with no steady object, but offers us a number of
disagreeing images in a certain order and proportion. The first impulse
therefore is here broke into pieces, and diffuses itself over all
those images, of which each partakes an equal share of that force and
vivacity that is derived from the impulse. Any of these past events
may again happen; and we judge, that when they do happen, they will be
mixed in the same proportion as in the past.

If our intention, therefore, be to consider the proportions of contrary
events in a great number of instances, the images presented by our past
experience must remain in their _first form_, and preserve their first
proportions. Suppose, for instance, I have found, by long observation,
that of twenty ships which go to sea, only nineteen return. Suppose I
see at present twenty ships that leave the port: I transfer my past
experience to the future, and represent to myself nineteen of these
ships as returning in safety, and one as perishing. Concerning this
there can be no difficulty. But as we frequently run over those several
ideas of past events, in order to form a judgment concerning one
single event, which appears uncertain; this consideration must change
the _first form_ of our ideas, and draw together the divided images
presented by experience; since 'tis to _it_ we refer the determination
of that particular event, upon which we reason. Many of these images
are supposed to concur, and a superior number to concur on one side.
These agreeing images unite together, and render the idea more strong
and lively, not only than a mere fiction of the imagination, but also
than any idea, which is supported by a lesser number of experiments.
Each new experiment is as a new stroke of the pencil, which bestows
an additional vivacity on the colours, without either multiplying or
enlarging the figure. This operation of the mind has been so fully
explained in treating of the probability of chance, that I need not
here endeavour to render it more intelligible. Every past experiment
may be considered as a kind of chance; it being uncertain to us,
whether the object will exist conformable to one experiment or another:
and for this reason every thing that has been said on the one subject
is applicable to both.

Thus, upon the whole, contrary experiments produce an imperfect belief,
either by weakening the habit, or by dividing and afterwards joining
in different parts, that _perfect_ habit, which makes us conclude
in general, that instances, of which we have no experience, must
necessarily resemble those of which we have.

To justify still farther this account of the second species of
probability, where we reason with knowledge and reflection from
a contrariety of past experiments, I shall propose the following
considerations, without fearing to give offence by that air of
subtilty, which attends them. Just reasoning ought still, perhaps,
to retain its force, however subtile; in the same manner as matter
preserves its solidity in the air, and fire, and animal spirits, as
well as in the grosser and more sensible forms.

First, we may observe, that there is no probability so great as not
to allow of a contrary possibility; because otherwise 'twould cease
to be a probability, and would become a certainty. That probability
of causes, which is most extensive, and which we at present examine,
depends on a contrariety of experiments; and 'tis evident an experiment
in the past proves at least a possibility for the future.

Secondly, the component parts of this possibility and probability are
of the same nature, and differ in number only, but not in kind. It has
been observed, that all single chances are entirely equal, and that
the only circumstance, which can give any event that is contingent a
superiority over another, is a superior number of chances. In like
manner, as the uncertainty of causes is discovered by experience, which
presents us with a view of contrary events, 'tis plain that, when we
transfer the past to the future, the known to the unknown, every past
experiment has the same weight, and that 'tis only a superior number
of them, which can throw the balance on any side. The possibility,
therefore, which enters into every reasoning of this kind, is composed
of parts, which are of the same nature both among themselves, and with
those that compose the opposite probability.

Thirdly, we may establish it as a certain maxim, that in all moral
as well as natural phenomena, wherever any cause consists of a
number of parts, and the effect increases or diminishes, according
to the variation of that number, the effect, properly speaking, is
a compounded one, and arises from the union of the several effects,
that proceed from each part of the cause. Thus, because the gravity
of a body increases or diminishes by the increase or diminution of
its parts, we conclude that each part contains this quality, and
contributes to the gravity of the whole. The absence or presence of a
part of the cause is attended with that of a proportionable part of the
effect. This connexion or constant conjunction sufficiently proves the
one part to be the cause of the other. As the belief, which we have of
any event, increases or diminishes according to the number of chances
or past experiments, 'tis to be considered as a compounded effect,
of which each part arises from a proportionable number of chances or

Let us now join these three observations, and see what conclusion
we can draw from them. To every probability there is an opposite
possibility. This possibility is composed of parts that are entirely of
the same nature with those of the probability; and consequently have
the same influence on the mind and understanding. The belief which
attends the probability, is a compounded effect, and is formed by the
concurrence of the several effects, which proceed from each part of the
probability. Since, therefore, each part of the probability contributes
to the production of the belief, each part of the possibility must have
the same influence on the opposite side; the nature of these parts
being entirely the same. The contrary belief attending the possibility,
implies a view of a certain object, as well as the probability does
an opposite view. In this particular, both these degrees of belief are
alike. The only manner then, in which the superior number of similar
component parts in the one can exert its influence, and prevail above
the inferior in the other, is by producing a stronger and more lively
view of its object. Each part presents a particular view; and all these
views uniting together produce one general view, which is fuller and
more distinct by the greater number of causes or principles from which
it is derived.

The component parts of the probability and possibility being alike in
their nature, must produce like effects; and the likeness of their
effects consists in this, that each of them presents a view of a
particular object. But though these parts be alike in their nature,
they are very different in their quantity and number; and this
difference must appear in the effect as well as the similarity. Now, as
the view they present is in both cases full and entire, and comprehends
the object in all its parts, 'tis impossible that, in this particular,
there can be any difference; nor is there any thing but a superior
vivacity in the probability, arising from the concurrence of a superior
number of views, which can distinguish these effects.

Here is almost the same argument in a different light. All our
reasonings concerning the probability of causes are founded on the
transferring of past to future. The transferring of any past experiment
to the future is sufficient to give us a view of the object; whether
that experiment be single or combined with others of the same kind;
whether it be entire, or opposed by others of a contrary kind. Suppose
then it acquires both these qualities of combination and opposition,
it loses not, upon that account, its former power of presenting a view
of the object, but only concurs with and opposes other experiments that
have a like influence. A question, therefore, may arise concerning the
manner both of the concurrence and opposition. As to the _concurrence_
there is only the choice left betwixt these two hypotheses. _First_,
that the view of the object, occasioned by the transference of each
past experiment, preserves itself entire, and only multiplies the
number of views. Or, _secondly_, that it runs into the other similar
and correspondent views, and gives them a superior degree of force and
vivacity. But that the first hypothesis is erroneous, is evident from
experience, which informs us, that the belief attending any reasoning
consists in one conclusion, not in a multitude of similar ones, which
would only distract the mind, and, in many cases, would be too numerous
to be comprehended distinctly by any finite capacity. It remains,
therefore, as the only reasonable opinion, that these similar views run
into each other and unite their forces; so as to produce a stronger and
clearer view than what arises from any one alone. This is the manner in
which past experiments concur when they are transferred to any future
event. As to the manner of their _opposition_,'tis evident that, as the
contrary views are incompatible with each other, and 'tis impossible
the object can at once exist conformable to both of them, their
influence becomes mutually destructive, and the mind is determined to
the superior only with that force which remains after subtracting the

I am sensible how abstruse all this reasoning must appear to the
generality of readers, who, not being accustomed to such profound
reflections on the intellectual faculties of the mind, will be apt
to reject as chimerical whatever strikes not in with the common
received notions, and with the easiest and most obvious principles of
philosophy. And, no doubt, there are some pains required to enter into
these arguments; though perhaps very little are necessary to perceive
the imperfection of every vulgar hypothesis on this subject, and the
little light, which philosophy can yet afford us in such sublime and
such curious speculations. Let men be once fully persuaded of these
two principles, _that there is nothing in any object, considered in
itself, which can afford us a reason for drawing a conclusion beyond
it_; and, _that even after the observation of the frequent or constant
conjunction of objects, we have no reason to draw any inference
concerning any object beyond those of which we have had experience_;
I say, let men be once fully convinced of these two principles, and
this will throw them so loose from all common systems, that they
will make no difficulty of receiving any, which may appear the most
extraordinary. These principles we have found to be sufficiently
convincing, even with regard to our most certain reasonings from
causation: but I shall venture to affirm, that with regard to these
conjectural or probable reasonings they still acquire a new degree of

_First_,'tis obvious that, in reasonings of this kind, 'tis not the
object presented to us, which, considered in itself, affords us any
reason to draw a conclusion concerning any other object or event. For
as this latter object is supposed uncertain, and as the uncertainty is
derived from a concealed contrariety of causes in the former, were any
of the causes placed in the known qualities of that object, they would
no longer be concealed, nor would our conclusion be uncertain.

But, _secondly_,'tis equally obvious in this species of reasoning, that
if the transference of the past to the future were founded merely on
a conclusion of the understanding, it could never occasion any belief
or assurance. When we transfer contrary experiments to the future,
we can only repeat these contrary experiments with their particular
proportions; which could not produce assurance in any single event upon
which we reason, unless the fancy melted together all those images
that concur, and extracted from them one single idea or image, which
is intense and lively in proportion to the number of experiments from
which it is derived, and their superiority above their antagonists.
Our past experience presents no determinate object; and as our belief,
however faint, fixes itself on a determinate object, 'tis evident that
the belief arises not merely from the transference of past to future,
but from some operation of the _fancy_ conjoined with it. This may lead
us to conceive the manner in which that faculty enters into all our

I shall conclude this subject with two reflections which may deserve
our attention. The _first_ may be explained after this manner: When
the mind forms a reasoning concerning any matter of fact, which is
only probable, it casts its eye backward upon past experience, and,
transferring it to the future, is presented with so many contrary
views of its object, of which those that are of the same kind uniting
together and running into one act of the mind, serve to fortify and
enliven it. But suppose that this multitude of views or glimpses of an
object proceeds not from experience, but from a voluntary act of the
imagination; this effect does not follow, or, at least, follows not in
the same degree. For though custom and education produce belief by
such a repetition as is not derived from experience, yet this requires
a long tract of time, along with a very frequent and _undesigned_
repetition. In general we may pronounce, that a person, who would
_voluntarily_ repeat any idea in his mind, though supported by one
past experience, would be no more inclined to believe the existence of
its object, than if he had contented himself with one survey of it.
Beside the effect of design, each act of the mind, being separate and
independent, has a separate influence, and joins not its force with
that of its fellows. Not being united by any common object producing
them, they have no relation to each other; and consequently make no
transition or union of forces. This phenomenon we shall understand
better afterwards.

My _second_ reflection is founded on those large probabilities which
the mind can judge of, and the minute differences it can observe
betwixt them. When the chances or experiments on one side amount to ten
thousand, and on the other to ten thousand and one, the judgment gives
the preference to the latter upon account of that superiority; though
'tis plainly impossible for the mind to run over every particular view,
and distinguish the superior vivacity of the image arising from the
superior number, where the difference is so inconsiderable. We have a
parallel instance in the affections. 'Tis evident, according to the
principles above mentioned, that when an object produces any passion in
us, which varies according to the different quantity of the object; I
say, 'tis evident, that the passion, properly speaking, is not a simple
emotion, but a compounded one, of a great number of weaker passions,
derived from a view of each part of the object; for otherwise 'twere
impossible the passion should increase by the increase of these parts.
Thus, a man who desires a thousand pounds has, in reality, a thousand
or more desires which, uniting together, seem to make only one passion;
though the composition evidently betrays itself upon every alteration
of the object, by the preference he gives to the larger number, if
superior only by an unit. Yet nothing can be more certain, than that
so small a difference would not be discernible in the passions, nor
could render them distinguishable from each other. The difference,
therefore, of our conduct in preferring the greater number depends not
upon our passions, but upon custom and _general rules_. We have found
in a multitude of instances that the augmenting the numbers of any sum
augments the passion, where the numbers are precise and the difference
sensible. The mind can perceive, from its immediate feeling, that three
guineas produce a greater passion than two; and _this_ it transfers
to larger numbers, because of the resemblance; and by a general rule
assigns to a thousand guineas a stronger passion than to nine hundred
and ninety-nine. These general rules we shall explain presently.

But beside these two species of probability, which are derived
from an _imperfect_ experience and from _contrary_ causes, there
is a third arising from _analogy_, which differs from them in some
material circumstances. According to the hypothesis above explained,
all kinds of reasoning from causes or effects are founded on two
particulars, viz. the constant conjunction of any two objects in all
past experience, and the resemblance of a present object to any one
of them. The effect of these two particulars is, that the present
object invigorates and enlivens the imagination; and the resemblance,
along with the constant union, conveys this force and vivacity to
the related idea; which we are therefore said to believe or assent
to. If you weaken either the union or resemblance, you weaken the
principle of transition, and of consequence that belief which arises
from it. The vivacity of the first impression cannot be fully conveyed
to the related idea, either where the conjunction of their objects
is not constant, or where the present impression does not perfectly
resemble any of those whose union we are accustomed to observe. In
those probabilities of chance and causes above explained, 'tis the
constancy of the union which is diminished; and in the probability
derived from analogy, 'tis the resemblance only which is affected.
Without some degree of resemblance, as well as union, 'tis impossible
there can be any reasoning. But as this resemblance admits of many
different degrees, the reasoning becomes proportionably more or less
firm and certain. An experiment loses of its force, when transferred to
instances which are not exactly resembling; though 'tis evident it may
still retain as much as may be the foundation of probability, as long
as there is any resemblance remaining.



All these kinds of probability are received by philosophers, and
allowed to be reasonable foundations of belief and opinion. But there
are others that are derived from the same principles, though they
have not had the good fortune to obtain the same sanction. The _first_
probability of this kind may be accounted for thus. The diminution of
the union and of the resemblance, as above explained, diminishes the
facility of the transition, and by that means weakens the evidence;
and we may farther observe, that the same diminution of the evidence
will follow from a diminution of the impression, and from the shading
of those colours under which it appears to the memory or senses. The
argument which we found on any matter of fact we remember is more
or less convincing, according as the fact is recent or remote; and
though the difference in these degrees of evidence be not received by
philosophy as solid and legitimate; because in that case an argument
must have a different force to-day from what it shall have a month
hence; yet, notwithstanding the opposition of philosophy, 'tis certain
this circumstance has a considerable influence on the understanding,
and secretly changes the authority of the same argument, according to
the different times in which it is proposed to us. A greater force and
vivacity in the impression naturally conveys a greater to the related
idea; and 'tis on the degrees of force and vivacity that the belief
depends, according to the foregoing system.

There is a _second_ difference which we may frequently observe in our
degrees of belief and assurance, and which never fails to take place,
though disclaimed by philosophers. An experiment that is recent and
fresh in the memory, affects us more than one that is in some measure
obliterated; and has a superior influence on the judgment as well as
on the passions. A lively impression produces more assurance than a
faint one, because it has more original force to communicate to the
related idea, which thereby acquires a greater force and vivacity. A
recent observation has a like effect; because the custom and transition
is there more entire, and preserves better the original force in the
communication. Thus a drunkard, who has seen his companion die of a
debauch, is struck with that instance for some time, and dreads a like
accident for himself; but as the memory of it decays away by degrees,
his former security returns, and the danger seems less certain and real.

I add, as a _third_ instance of this kind, that though our reasonings
from proofs and from probabilities be considerably different from each
other, yet the former species of reasoning often degenerates insensibly
into the latter, by nothing but the multitude of connected arguments.
'Tis certain, that when an inference is drawn immediately from an
object, without any intermediate cause or effect, the conviction
is much stronger, and the persuasion more lively, than when the
imagination is carried through a long chain of connected arguments,
however infallible the connexion of each link may be esteemed. 'Tis
from the original impression that the vivacity of all the ideas is
derived, by means of the customary transition of the imagination; and
'tis evident this vivacity must gradually decay in proportion to the
distance, and must lose somewhat in each transition. Sometimes this
distance has a greater influence than even contrary experiments would
have; and a man may receive a more lively conviction from a probable
reasoning which is close and immediate, than from a long chain of
consequences, though just and conclusive in each part. Nay, 'tis seldom
such reasonings produce any conviction; and one must have a very
strong and firm imagination to preserve the evidence to the end, where
it passes through so many stages.

But here it may not be amiss to remark a very curious phenomenon which
the present subject suggests to us. 'Tis evident there is no point of
ancient history, of which we can have any assurance, but by passing
through many millions of causes and effects, and through a chain of
arguments of almost an immeasurable length. Before the knowledge of the
fact could come to the first historian, it must be conveyed through
many mouths; and after it is committed to writing, each new copy is a
new object, of which the connexion with the foregoing is known only by
experience and observation. Perhaps therefore it may be concluded, from
the precedent reasoning, that the evidence of all ancient history must
now be lost, or at least will be lost in time, as the chain of causes
increases, and runs on to a greater length. But as it seems contrary
to common sense to think, that if the republic of letters and the art
of printing continue on the same footing as at present, our posterity,
even after a thousand ages, can ever doubt if there has been such a man
as Julius Cæsar; this may be considered as an objection to the present
system. If belief consisted only in a certain vivacity, conveyed from
an original impression, it would decay by the length of the transition,
and must at last be utterly extinguished. And, _vice versa_, if belief,
on some occasions, be not capable of such an extinction, it must be
something different from that vivacity.

Before I answer this objection I shall observe, that from this topic
there has been borrowed a very celebrated argument against the
_Christian Religion_; but with this difference, that the connexion
betwixt each link of the chain in human testimony has been there
supposed not to go beyond probability, and to be liable to a degree of
doubt and uncertainty. And indeed it must be confessed, that in this
manner of considering the subject (which, however, is not a true one),
there is no history or tradition but what must in the end lose all
its force and evidence. Every new probability diminishes the original
conviction; and, however great that conviction may be supposed, 'tis
impossible it can subsist under such reiterated diminutions. This is
true in general, though we shall find afterwards,[9] that there is one
very memorable exception, which is of vast consequence in the present
subject of the understanding.

Meanwhile, to give a solution of the preceding objection upon the
supposition that historical evidence amounts at first to an entire
proof, let us consider, that, though the links are innumerable that
connect any original fact with the present impression, which is the
foundation of belief, yet they are all of the same kind, and depend
on the fidelity of printers and copyists. One edition passes into
another, and that into a third, and so on, till we come to that volume
we peruse at present. There is no variation in the steps. After we know
one, we know all of them; and after we have made one, we can have no
scruple as to the rest. This circumstance alone preserves the evidence
of history, and will perpetuate the memory of the present age to the
latest posterity. If all the long chain of causes and effects, which
connect any past event with any volume of history, were composed of
parts different from each other, and which 'twere necessary for the
mind distinctly to conceive, 'tis impossible we should preserve to the
end any belief or evidence. But as most of these proofs are perfectly
resembling, the mind runs easily along them, jumps from one part to
another with facility, and forms but a confused and general notion of
each link. By this means, a long chain of argument has as little effect
in diminishing the original vivacity, as a much shorter would have if
composed of parts which were different from each other, and of which
each required a distinct consideration.

A fourth unphilosophical species of probability is that derived from
_general rules_, which we rashly form to ourselves, and which are the
source of what we properly call _prejudice_. An Irishman cannot have
wit, and a Frenchman cannot have solidity; for which reason, though the
conversation of the former in any instance be visibly very agreeable,
and of the latter very judicious, we have entertained such a prejudice
against them, that they must be dunces or fops in spite of sense and
reason. Human nature is very subject to errors of this kind, and
perhaps this nation as much as any other.

Should it be demanded why men form general rules, and allow them to
influence their judgment, even contrary to present observation and
experience, I should reply, that in my opinion it proceeds from those
very principles on which all judgments concerning causes and effects
depend. Our judgments concerning cause and effect are derived from
habit and experience; and when we have been accustomed to see one
object united to another, our imagination passes from the first to the
second by a natural transition, which precedes reflection, and which
cannot be prevented by it. Now, 'tis the nature of custom not only
to operate with its full force, when objects are presented that are
exactly the same with those to which we have been accustomed, but also
to operate in an inferior degree when we discover such as are similar;
and though the habit loses somewhat of its force by every difference,
yet 'tis seldom entirely destroyed where any considerable circumstances
remain the same. A man who has contracted a custom of eating fruit by
the use of pears or peaches, will satisfy himself with melons where he
cannot find his favourite fruit; as one, who has become a drunkard by
the use of red wines, will be carried almost with the same violence to
white, if presented to him. From this principle I have accounted for
that species of probability, derived from analogy, where we transfer
our experience in past instances to objects which are resembling,
but are not exactly the same with those concerning which we have had
experience. In proportion as the resemblance decays, the probability
diminishes, but still has some force as long as there remain any traces
of the resemblance.

This observation we may carry farther, and may remark, that though
custom be the foundation of all our judgments, yet sometimes it has an
effect on the imagination in opposition to the judgment, and produces
a contrariety in our sentiments concerning the same object. I explain
myself. In almost all kinds of causes there is a complication of
circumstances, of which some are essential, and others superfluous;
some are absolutely requisite to the production of the effect, and
others are only conjoined by accident. Now we may observe, that when
these superfluous circumstances are numerous and remarkable, and
frequently conjoined with the essential, they have such an influence
on the imagination, that even in the absence of the latter they
carry us on to the conception of the usual effect, and give to that
conception a force and vivacity which make it superior to the mere
fictions of the fancy. We may correct this propensity by a reflection
on the nature of those circumstances; but 'tis still certain, that
custom takes the start, and gives a bias to the imagination.

To illustrate this by a familiar instance, let us consider the case of
a man, who, being hung out from a high tower in a cage of iron, cannot
forbear trembling when he surveys the precipice below him, though he
knows himself to be perfectly secure from falling, by his experience
of the solidity of the iron which supports him, and though the ideas
of fall and descent, and harm and death, be derived solely from custom
and experience. The same custom goes beyond the instances from which it
is derived, and to which it perfectly corresponds; and influences his
ideas of such objects as are in some respect resembling, but fall not
precisely under the same rule. The circumstances of depth and descent
strike so strongly upon him, that their influence cannot be destroyed
by the contrary circumstances of support and solidity, which ought to
give him a perfect security. His imagination runs away with its object,
and excites a passion proportioned to it. That passion returns back
upon the imagination, and enlivens the idea; which lively idea has a
new influence on the passion, and in its turn augments its force and
violence: and both his fancy and affections, thus mutually supporting
each other, cause the whole to have a very great influence upon him.

But why need we seek for other instances, while the present subject
of philosophical probabilities offers us so obvious an one, in
the opposition betwixt the judgment and imagination, arising from
these effects of custom? According to my system, all reasonings are
nothing but the effects of custom, and custom has no influence, but
by enlivening the imagination, and giving us a strong conception of
any object. It may therefore be concluded, that our judgment and
imagination can never be contrary, and that custom cannot operate on
the latter faculty after such a manner, as to render it opposite to
the former. This difficulty we can remove after no other manner, than
by supposing the influence of general rules. We shall afterwards[10]
take notice of some general rules, by which we ought to regulate
our judgment concerning causes and effects; and these rules are
formed on the nature of our understanding, and on our experience
of its operations in the judgments we form concerning objects. By
them we learn to distinguish the accidental circumstances from the
efficacious causes; and when we find that an effect can be produced
without the concurrence of any particular circumstance, we conclude
that that circumstance makes not a part of the efficacious cause,
however frequently conjoined with it. But as this frequent conjunction
necessarily makes it have some effect on the imagination, in spite of
the opposite conclusion from general rules, the opposition of these
two principles produces a contrariety in our thoughts, and causes us
to ascribe the one inference to our judgment, and the other to our
imagination. The general rule is attributed to our judgment, as being
more extensive and constant; the exception to the imagination, as being
more capricious and uncertain.

Thus, our general rules are in a manner set in opposition to each
other. When an object appears, that resembles any cause in very
considerable circumstances, the imagination naturally carries us to a
lively conception of the usual effect, though the object be different
in the most material and most efficacious circumstances from that
cause. Here is the first influence of general rules. But when we
take a review of this act of the mind, and compare it with the more
general and authentic operations of the understanding, we find it to
be of an irregular nature, and destructive of all the most established
principles of reasonings, which is the cause of our rejecting it. This
is a second influence of general rules, and implies the condemnation
of the former. Sometimes the one, sometimes the other prevails,
according to the disposition and character of the person. The vulgar
are commonly guided by the first, and wise men by the second. Meanwhile
the sceptics may here have the pleasure of observing a new and signal
contradiction in our reason, and of seeing all philosophy ready to be
subverted by a principle of human nature, and again saved by a new
direction of the very same principle. The following of general rules
is a very unphilosophical species of probability; and yet 'tis only by
following them that we can correct this, and all other unphilosophical

Since we have instances where general rules operate on the imagination,
even contrary to the judgment, we need not be surprised to see their
effects increase, when conjoined with that latter faculty, and to
observe that they bestow on the ideas they present to us a force
superior to what attends any other. Every one knows there is an
indirect manner of insinuating praise or blame, which is much less
shocking than the open flattery or censure of any person. However he
may communicate his sentiments by such secret insinuations, and make
them known with equal certainty as by the open discovery of them,
'tis certain that their influence is not equally strong and powerful.
One who lashes me with concealed strokes of satire, moves not my
indignation to such a degree, as if he flatly told me I was a fool and
a coxcomb; though I equally understand his meaning, as if he did. This
difference is to be attributed to the influence of general rules.

Whether a person openly abuses me, or slily intimates his contempt,
in neither case do I immediately perceive his sentiment or opinion;
and 'tis only by signs, that is, by its effects, I become sensible of
it. The only difference then, betwixt these two cases, consists in
this, that in the open discovery of his sentiments he makes use of
signs, which are general and universal; and in the secret intimation
employs such as are more singular and uncommon. The effect of this
circumstance is, that the imagination, in running from the present
impression to the absent idea, makes the transition with greater
facility, and consequently conceives the object with greater force,
where the connexion is common and universal, than where it is more rare
and particular. Accordingly, we may observe, that the open declaration
of our sentiments is called the taking off the mask, as the secret
intimation of our opinions is said to be the veiling of them. The
difference betwixt an idea produced by a general connexion, and that
arising from a particular one, is here compared to the difference
betwixt an impression and an idea. This difference in the imagination
has a suitable effect on the passions, and this effect is augmented by
another circumstance. A secret intimation of anger or contempt shows
that we still have some consideration for the person, and avoid the
directly abusing him. This makes a concealed satire less disagreeable,
but still this depends on the same principle. For if an idea were not
more feeble, when only intimated, it would never be esteemed a mark of
greater respect to proceed in this method than in the other.

Sometimes scurrility is less displeasing than delicate satire, because
it revenges us in a manner for the injury at the very time it is
committed, by affording us a just reason to blame and contemn the
person who injures us. But this phenomenon likewise depends upon the
same principle. For why do we blame all gross and injurious language,
unless it be, because we esteem it contrary to good breeding and
humanity? And why is it contrary, unless it be more shocking than any
delicate satire? The rules of good breeding condemn whatever is openly
disobliging, and gives a sensible pain and confusion to those with
whom we converse. After this is once established, abusive language is
universally blamed, and gives less pain upon account of its coarseness
and incivility, which render the person despicable that employs it. It
becomes less disagreeable, merely because originally it is more so; and
'tis more disagreeable, because it affords an inference by general and
common rules that are palpable and undeniable.

To this explication of the different influence of open and concealed
flattery or satire, I shall add the consideration of another
phenomenon, which is analogous to it. There are many particulars in
the point of honour, both of men and women, whose violations, when
open and avowed, the world never excuses, but which it is more apt to
overlook, when the appearances are saved, and the transgression is
secret and concealed. Even those who know with equal certainty that
the fault is committed, pardon it more easily, when the proofs seem
in some measure oblique and equivocal, than when they are direct and
undeniable. The same idea is presented in both cases, and, properly
speaking, is equally assented to by the judgment; and yet its influence
is different, because of the different manner in which it is presented.

Now, if we compare these two cases, of the _open_ and _concealed_
violations of the laws of honour, we shall find, that the difference
betwixt them consists in this, that in the first case the sign, from
which we infer the blameable action, is single, and suffices alone
to be the foundation of our reasoning and judgment; whereas in the
latter the signs are numerous, and decide little or nothing when alone
and unaccompanied with many minute circumstances, which are almost
imperceptible. But 'tis certainly true, that any reasoning is always
the more convincing, the more single and united it is to the eye,
and the less exercise it gives to the imagination to collect all its
parts, and run from them to the correlative idea, which forms the
conclusion. The labour of the thought disturbs the regular progress of
the sentiments, as we shall observe presently.[11] The idea strikes not
on us with such vivacity, and consequently has no such influence on the
passion and imagination.

From the same principles we may account for those observations of
the Cardinal de Retz, _that there are many things in which the world
wishes to be deceived_, and _that it more easily excuses a person in
acting than in talking contrary to the decorum of his profession and
character_. A fault in words is commonly more open and distinct than
one in actions, which admit of many palliating excuses, and decide not
so clearly concerning the intention and views of the actor.

Thus it appears, upon the whole, that every kind of opinion or
judgment which amounts not to knowledge, is derived entirely from
the force and vivacity of the perception, and that these qualities
constitute in the mind what we call the _belief_ of the existence
of any object. This force and this vivacity are most conspicuous in
the memory; and therefore our confidence in the veracity of that
faculty is the greatest imaginable, and equals in many respects the
assurance of a demonstration. The next degree of these qualities is
that derived from the relation of cause and effect; and this too is
very great, especially when the conjunction is found by experience
to be perfectly constant, and when the object, which is present to
us, exactly resembles those, of which we have had experience. But
below this degree of evidence there are many others, which have an
influence on the passions and imagination, proportioned to that degree
of force and vivacity, which they communicate to the ideas. 'Tis by
habit we make the transition from cause to effect; and 'tis from some
present impression we borrow that vivacity, which we diffuse over the
correlative idea. But when we have not observed a sufficient number
of instances to produce a strong habit; or when these instances are
contrary to each other; or when the resemblance is not exact; or the
present impression is faint and obscure; or the experience in some
measure obliterated from the memory; or the connexion dependent on a
long chain of objects; or the inference derived from general rules,
and yet not conformable to them: in all these cases the evidence
diminishes by the diminution of the force and intenseness of the idea.
This therefore is the nature of the judgment and probability.

What principally gives authority to this system is, beside the
undoubted arguments, upon which each part is founded, the agreement of
these parts, and the necessity of one to explain another. The belief
which attends our memory is of the same nature with that which is
derived from our judgments: nor is there any difference betwixt that
judgment which is derived from a constant and uniform connexion of
causes and effects, and that which depends upon an interrupted and
uncertain. 'Tis indeed evident, that in all determinations where the
mind decides from contrary experiments, 'tis first divided within
itself, and has an inclination to either side in proportion to the
number of experiments we have seen and remember. This contest is at
last determined to the advantage of that side where we observe a
superior number of these experiments; but still with a diminution of
force in the evidence correspondent to the number of the opposite
experiments. Each possibility, of which the probability is composed,
operates separately upon the imagination; and 'tis the larger
collection of possibilities, which at last prevails, and that with
a force proportionable to its superiority. All these phenomena lead
directly to the precedent system; nor will it ever be possible upon any
other principles to give a satisfactory and consistent explication of
them. Without considering these judgments as the effects of custom on
the imagination, we shall lose ourselves in perpetual contradiction and

[9] Part IV. Sect. 1.

[10] Sect. 15.

[11] Part IV. Sect. 1.



Having thus explained the manner _in which we reason beyond our
immediate impressions, and conclude that such particular causes must
have such particular effects_; we must now return upon our footsteps
to examine that question[12] which first occurred to us, and which we
dropped in our way, viz. _What is our idea of necessity, when we say
that two objects are necessarily connected together_? Upon this head
I repeat, what I have often had occasion to observe, that as we have
no idea that is not derived from an impression, we must find some
impression that gives rise to this idea of necessity, if we assert
we have really such an idea. In order to this, I consider in what
objects necessity is commonly supposed to lie; and, finding that it is
always ascribed to causes and effects, I turn my eye to two objects
supposed to be placed in that relation, and examine them in all the
situations of which they are susceptible. I immediately perceive that
they are _contiguous_ in time and place, and that the object we call
cause _precedes_ the other we call effect. In no one instance can I go
any farther, nor is it possible for me to discover any third relation
betwixt these objects. I therefore enlarge my view to comprehend
several instances, where I find like objects always existing in like
relations of contiguity and succession. At first sight this seems to
serve but little to my purpose. The reflection on several instances
only repeats the same objects; and therefore can never give rise to a
new idea. But upon farther inquiry I find, that the repetition is not
in every particular the same, but produces a new impression, and by
that means the idea which I at present examine. For after a frequent
repetition I find, that upon the appearance of one of the objects, the
mind is _determined_ by custom to consider its usual attendant, and to
consider it in a stronger light upon account of its relation to the
first object. 'Tis this impression, then, or _determination_, which
affords me the idea of necessity.

I doubt not but these consequences will at first sight be received
without difficulty, as being evident deductions from principles which
we have already established, and which we have often employed in our
reasonings. This evidence, both in the first principles and in the
deductions, may seduce us unwarily into the conclusion, and make us
imagine it contains nothing extraordinary, nor worthy of our curiosity.
But though such an inadvertence may facilitate the reception of this
reasoning, 'twill make it be the more easily forgot; for which reason
I think it proper to give warning, that I have just now examined one
of the most sublime questions in philosophy, viz. _that concerning the
power and efficacy of causes_, where all the sciences seem so much
interested. Such a warning will naturally rouse up the attention of
the reader, and make him desire a more full account of my doctrine,
as well as of the arguments on which it is founded. This request is
so reasonable, that I cannot refuse complying with it; especially as
I am hopeful that these principles, the more they are examined, will
acquire the more force and evidence.

There is no question which, on account of its importance, as well as
difficulty, has caused more disputes both among ancient and modern
philosophers, than this concerning the efficacy of causes, or that
quality which makes them be followed by their effects. But before they
entered upon these disputes, methinks it would not have been improper
to have examined what idea we have of that efficacy, which is the
subject of the controversy. This is what I find principally wanting in
their reasonings, and what I shall here endeavour to supply.

I begin with observing, that the terms of _efficacy, agency, power,
force, energy, necessity, connexion_, and _productive quality_, are
all nearly synonymous; and therefore 'tis an absurdity to employ any
of them in defining the rest. By this observation we reject at once
all the vulgar definitions which philosophers have given of power and
efficacy; and instead of searching for the idea in these definitions,
must look for it in the impressions from which it is originally
derived. If it be a compound idea, it must arise from compound
impressions. If simple, from simple impressions.

I believe the most general and most popular explication of this
matter, is to say,[13] that finding from experience that there are
several new productions in matter, such as the motions and variations
of body, and concluding that there must somewhere be a power capable
of producing them, we arrive at last by this reasoning at the idea
of power and efficacy. But to be convinced that this explication is
more popular than philosophical, we need but reflect on two very
obvious principles. _First_, that reason alone can never give rise
to any original idea; and, _secondly_, that reason, as distinguished
from experience, can never make us conclude that a cause or productive
quality is absolutely requisite to every beginning of existence. Both
these considerations have been sufficiently explained; and therefore
shall not at present be any farther insisted on.

I shall only infer from them, that since reason can never give rise
to the idea of efficacy, that idea must be derived from experience,
and from some particular instances of this efficacy, which make
their passage into the mind by the common channels of sensation or
reflection. Ideas always represent their objects or impressions;
and _vice versa_, there are some objects necessary to give rise to
every idea. If we pretend, therefore, to have any just idea of this
efficacy, we must produce some instance wherein the efficacy is
plainly discoverable to the mind, and its operations obvious to our
consciousness or sensation. By the refusal of this, we acknowledge,
that the idea is impossible and imaginary; since the principle of
innate ideas, which alone can save us from this dilemma, has been
already refuted, and is now almost universally rejected in the learned
world. Our present business, then, must be to find some natural
production, where the operation and efficacy of a cause can be clearly
conceived and comprehended by the mind, without any danger of obscurity
or mistake.

In this research, we meet with very little encouragement from
that prodigious diversity which is found in the opinions of those
philosophers who have pretended to explain the secret force and
energy of causes.[14] There are some who maintain, that bodies operate
by their substantial form; others, by their accidents or qualities;
several, by their matter and form; some, by their form and accidents;
others, by certain virtues and faculties distinct from all this.
All these sentiments, again, are mixed and varied in a thousand
different ways, and form a strong presumption that none of them have
any solidity or evidence, and that the supposition of an efficacy in
any of the known qualities of matter is entirely without foundation.
This presumption must increase upon us, when we consider, that these
principles of substantial forms, and accidents, and faculties, are not
in reality any of the known properties of bodies, but are perfectly
unintelligible and inexplicable. For 'tis evident philosophers would
never have had recourse to such obscure and uncertain principles, had
they met with any satisfaction in such as are clear and intelligible;
especially in such an affair as this, which must be an object of the
simplest understanding, if not of the senses. Upon the whole, we may
conclude, that 'tis impossible, in any one instance, to show the
principle in which the force and agency of a cause is placed; and
that the most refined and most vulgar understandings are equally at
a loss in this particular. If any one think proper to refute this
assertion, he need not put himself to the trouble of inventing any long
reasonings, but may at once show us an instance of a cause, where we
discover the power or operating principle. This defiance we are obliged
frequently to make use of, as being almost the only means of proving a
negative in philosophy.

The small success which has been met with in all the attempts to fix
this power, has at last obliged philosophers to conclude, that the
ultimate force and efficacy of nature is perfectly unknown to us,
and that 'tis in vain we search for it in all the known qualities of
matter. In this opinion they are almost unanimous; and 'tis only in
the inference they draw from it, that they discover any difference in
their sentiments. For some of them, as the Cartesians in particular,
having established it as a principle, that we are perfectly acquainted
with the essence of matter, have very naturally inferred, that it is
endowed with no efficacy, and that 'tis impossible for it of itself to
communicate motion, or produce any of those effects, which we ascribe
to it. As the essence of matter consists in extension, and as extension
implies not actual motion, but only mobility; they conclude, that the
energy, which produces the motion, cannot lie in the extension.

This conclusion leads them into another, which they regard as perfectly
unavoidable. Matter, say they, is in itself entirely unactive, and
deprived of any power, by which it may produce, or continue, or
communicate motion: but since these effects are evident to our senses,
and since the power that produces them must be placed somewhere, it
must lie in the Deity, or that Divine Being who contains in his nature
all excellency and perfection. 'Tis the Deity, therefore, who is the
prime mover of the universe, and who not only first created matter, and
gave it its original impulse, but likewise, by a continued exertion of
omnipotence, supports its existence, and successively bestows on it
all those motions, and configurations, and qualities, with which it is

This opinion is certainly very curious, and well worth our attention;
but 'twill appear superfluous to examine it in this place, if we
reflect a moment on our present purpose in taking notice of it. We
have established it as a principle, that as all ideas are derived
from impressions, or some precedent _perceptions_,'tis impossible we
can have any idea of power and efficacy, unless some instances can
be produced, wherein this power _is perceived_ to exert itself. Now,
as these instances can never be discovered in body, the Cartesians,
proceeding upon their principle of innate ideas, have had recourse
to a Supreme Spirit or Deity, whom they consider as the only active
being in the universe, and as the immediate cause of every alteration
in matter. But the principle of innate ideas being allowed to be
false, it follows, that the supposition of a Deity can serve us in no
stead, in accounting for that idea of agency, which we search for in
vain in all the objects which are presented to our senses, or which
we are internally conscious of in our own minds. For if every idea
be derived from an impression, the idea of a Deity proceeds from the
same origin; and if no impression, either of sensation or reflection,
implies any force or efficacy, 'tis equally impossible to discover
or even imagine any such active principle in the Deity. Since these
philosophers, therefore, have concluded that matter cannot be endowed
with any efficacious principle, because 'tis impossible to discover
in it such a principle, the same course of reasoning should determine
them to exclude it from the Supreme Being, or, if they esteem that
opinion absurd and impious, as it really is, I shall tell them how they
may avoid it; and that is, by concluding from the very first, that
they have no adequate idea of power or efficacy in any object; since
neither in body nor spirit, neither in superior nor inferior natures,
are they able to discover one single instance of it.

The same conclusion is unavoidable upon the hypothesis of those, who
maintain the efficacy of second causes, and attribute a derivative, but
a real power and energy to matter. For as they confess that this energy
lies not in any of the known qualities of matter, the difficulty still
remains concerning the origin of its idea. If we have really an idea
of power, we may attribute power to an unknown quality: but as 'tis
impossible that that idea can be derived from such a quality, and as
there is nothing in known qualities which can produce it, it follows
that we deceive ourselves, when we imagine we are possessed of any idea
of this kind, after the manner we commonly understand it. All ideas are
derived from, and represent impressions. We never have any impression
that contains any power or efficacy. We never, therefore, have any idea
of power.

Some have asserted, that we feel an energy or power in our own mind;
and that, having in this manner acquired the idea of power, we transfer
that quality to matter, where we are not able immediately to discover
it. The motions of our body, and the thoughts and sentiments of our
mind (say they) obey the will; nor do we seek any farther to acquire
a just notion of force or power. But to convince us how fallacious
this reasoning is, we need only consider, that the will being here
considered as a cause, has no more a discoverable connexion with its
effects, than any material cause has with its proper effect. So far
from perceiving the connexion betwixt an act of volition and a motion
of the body, 'tis allowed that no effect is more inexplicable from
the powers and essence of thought and matter. Nor is the empire
of the will over our mind more intelligible. The effect is there
distinguishable and separable from the cause, and could be foreseen
without the experience of their constant conjunction. We have command
over our mind to a certain degree, but beyond _that_ lose all empire
over it: and 'tis evidently impossible to fix any precise bounds to
our authority, where we consult not experience. In short, the actions
of the mind are, in this respect, the same with those of matter. We
perceive only their constant conjunction; nor can we ever reason beyond
it. No internal impression has an apparent energy, more than external
objects have. Since, therefore, matter is confessed by philosophers to
operate by an unknown force, we should in vain hope to attain an idea
of force by consulting our own minds.[15]

It has been established as a certain principle, that general or
abstract ideas are nothing but individual ones taken in a certain
light, and that, in reflecting on any object, 'tis as impossible to
exclude from our thought all particular degrees of quantity and quality
as from the real nature of things. If we be possessed, therefore, of
any idea of power in general, we must also be able to conceive some
particular species of it; and as power cannot subsist alone, but is
always regarded as an attribute of some being or existence, we must
be able to place this power in some particular being, and conceive
that being as endowed with a real force and energy, by which such a
particular effect necessarily results from its operation. We must
distinctly and particularly conceive the connexion betwixt the cause
and effect, and be able to pronounce, from a simple view of the one,
that it must be followed or preceded by the other. This is the true
manner of conceiving a particular power in a particular body: and a
general idea being impossible without an individual; where the latter
is impossible, 'tis certain the former can never exist. Now nothing
is more evident, than that the human mind cannot form such an idea of
two objects, as to conceive any connexion betwixt them, or comprehend
distinctly that power or efficacy, by which they are united. Such a
connexion would amount to a demonstration, and would imply the absolute
impossibility for the one object not to follow, or to be conceived not
to follow upon the other: which kind of connexion has already been
rejected in all cases. If any one is of a contrary opinion, and thinks
he has attained a notion of power in any particular object, I desire he
may point out to me that object. But till I meet with such a one, which
I despair of, I cannot forbear concluding, that since we can never
distinctly conceive how any particular power can possibly reside in any
particular object, we deceive ourselves in imagining we can form any
such general idea.

Thus, upon the whole, we may infer, that when we talk of any being,
whether of a superior or inferior nature, as endowed with a power
or force, proportioned to any effect; when we speak of a necessary
connexion betwixt objects, and suppose that this connexion depends upon
an efficacy or energy, with which any of these objects are endowed; in
all the expressions, _so applied_, we have really no distinct meaning,
and make use only of common words, without any clear and determinate
ideas. But as 'tis more probable, that these expressions do here lose
their true meaning by being _wrong applied_, than that they never have
any meaning; 'twill be proper to bestow another consideration on this
subject, to see if possibly we can discover the nature and origin of
those ideas we annex to them.

Suppose two objects to be presented to us, of which the one is the
cause and the other the effect; 'tis plain that, from the simple
consideration of one, or both these objects, we never shall perceive
the tie by which they are united, or be able certainly to pronounce,
that there is a connexion betwixt them. 'Tis not, therefore, from any
one instance, that we arrive at the idea of cause and effect, of a
necessary connexion of power, of force, of energy, and of efficacy.
Did we never see any but particular conjunctions of objects, entirely
different from each other, we should never be able to form any such

But, again, suppose we observe several instances in which the same
objects are always conjoined together, we immediately conceive a
connexion betwixt them, and begin to draw an inference from one
to another. This multiplicity of resembling instances, therefore,
constitutes the very essence of power or connexion, and is the source
from which the idea of it arises. In order, then, to understand the
idea of power, we must consider that multiplicity; nor do I ask more
to give a solution of that difficulty, which has so long perplexed
us. For thus I reason. The repetition of perfectly similar instances
can never _alone_ give rise to an original idea, different from what
is to be found in any particular instance, as has been observed, and
as evidently follows from our fundamental principle, _that all ideas
are copied from impressions_. Since, therefore, the idea of power is
a new original idea, not to be found in any one instance, and which
yet arises from the repetition of several instances, it follows, that
the repetition _alone_ has not that effect, but must either _discover_
or _produce_ something new, which is the source of that idea. Did the
repetition neither discover nor produce any thing new, our ideas might
be multiplied by it, but would not be enlarged above what they are upon
the observation of one single instance. Every enlargement, therefore,
(such as the idea of power or connexion) which arises from the
multiplicity of similar instances, is copied from some effects of the
multiplicity, and will be perfectly understood by understanding these
effects. Wherever we find any thing new to be discovered or produced by
the repetition, there we must place the power, and must never look for
it in any other object.

But 'tis evident, in the first place, that the repetition of like
objects in like relations of succession and contiguity, _discovers_
nothing new in any one of them; since we can draw no inference from
it, nor make it a subject either of our demonstrative or probable
reasonings; as has been already proved.[16] Nay, suppose we could draw
an inference, 'twould be of no consequence in the present case; since
no kind of reasoning can give rise to a new idea, such as this of power
is; but wherever we reason, we must antecedently be possessed of clear
ideas, which may be the objects of our reasoning. The conception always
precedes the understanding; and where the one is obscure, the other is
uncertain; where the one fails, the other must fail also.

Secondly, 'tis certain that this repetition of similar objects in
similar situations, _produces_ nothing new either in these objects, or
in any external body. For 'twill readily be allowed, that the several
instances we have of the conjunction of resembling causes and effects,
are in themselves entirely independent, and that the communication of
motion, which I see result at present from the shock of two billiard
balls, is totally distinct from that which I saw result from such an
impulse a twelvemonth ago. These impulses have no influence on each
other. They are entirely divided by time and place; and the one might
have existed and communicated motion, though the other never had been
in being.

There is, then, nothing new either discovered or produced in any
objects by their constant conjunction, and by the uninterrupted
resemblance of their relations of succession and contiguity. But 'tis
from this resemblance, that the ideas of necessity, of power, and of
efficacy, are derived. These ideas therefore represent not any thing,
that does or can belong to the objects, which are constantly conjoined.
This is an argument, which, in every view we can examine it, will be
found perfectly unanswerable. Similar instances are still the first
source of our idea of power or necessity; at the same time that they
have no influence by their similarity either on each other, or on any
external object. We must therefore turn ourselves to some other quarter
to seek the origin of that idea.

Though the several resembling instances, which give rise to the idea
of power, have no influence on each other, and can never produce any
new quality _in the object_, which can be the model of that idea,
yet the _observation_ of this resemblance produces a new impression
_in the mind_, which is its real model. For after we have observed
the resemblance in a sufficient number of instances, we immediately
feel a determination of the mind to pass from one object to its usual
attendant, and to conceive it in a stronger light upon account of that
relation. This determination is the only effect of the resemblance;
and therefore must be the same with power or efficacy, whose idea is
derived from the resemblance. The several instances of resembling
conjunctions lead us into the notion of power and necessity. These
instances are in themselves totally distinct from each other, and have
no union but in the mind, which observes them, and collects their
ideas. Necessity, then, is the effect of this observation, and as
nothing but an internal impression of the mind, or a determination to
carry our thoughts from one object to another. Without considering it
in this view, we can never arrive at the most distant notion of it,
or be able to attribute it either to external or internal objects, to
spirit or body, to causes or effects.

The necessary connexion betwixt causes and effects is the foundation of
our inference from one to the other. The foundation of our inference is
the transition arising from the accustomed union. These are therefore
the same.

The idea of necessity arises from some impression. There is no
impression conveyed by our senses, which can give rise to that idea.
It must, therefore, be derived from some internal impression, or
impression of reflection. There is no internal impression which has any
relation to the present business, but that propensity, which custom
produces, to pass from an object to the idea of its usual attendant.
This, therefore, is the essence of necessity. Upon the whole, necessity
is something that exists in the mind, not in objects; nor is it
possible for us ever to form the most distant idea of it, considered as
a quality in bodies. Either we have no idea of necessity, or necessity
is nothing but that determination of the thought to pass from causes
to effects, and from effects to causes, according to their experienced

Thus, as the necessity, which makes two times two equal to four, or
three angles of a triangle equal to two right ones, lies only in the
act of the understanding, by which we consider and compare these
ideas; in like manner, the necessity of power, which unites causes and
effects, lies in the determination of the mind to pass from the one to
the other. The efficacy or energy of causes is neither placed in the
causes themselves, nor in the Deity, nor in the concurrence of these
two principles; but belongs entirely to the soul, which considers the
union of two or more objects in all past instances. 'Tis here that
the real power of causes is placed, along with their connexion and

I am sensible, that of all the paradoxes which I have had, or shall
hereafter have occasion to advance in the course of this Treatise,
the present one is the most violent, and that 'tis merely by dint of
solid proof and reasoning I can ever hope it will have admission, and
overcome the inveterate prejudices of mankind. Before we are reconciled
to this doctrine, how often must we repeat to ourselves, _that_ the
simple view of any two objects or actions, however related, can never
give us any idea of power, or of a connexion betwixt them: _that_ this
idea arises from the repetition of their union: _that_ the repetition
neither discovers nor causes any thing in the objects, but has an
influence only on the mind, by that customary transition it produces:
_that_ this customary transition is therefore the same with the power
and necessity; which are consequently qualities of perceptions, not
of objects, and are internally felt by the soul, and not perceived
externally in bodies? There is commonly an astonishment attending every
thing extraordinary; and this astonishment changes immediately into
the highest degree of esteem or contempt, according as we approve or
disapprove of the subject. I am much afraid, that though the foregoing
reasoning appears to me the shortest and most decisive imaginable, yet,
with the generality of readers, the bias of the mind will prevail, and
give them a prejudice against the present doctrine.

This contrary bias is easily accounted for. 'Tis a common observation,
that the mind has a great propensity to spread itself on external
objects, and to conjoin with them any internal impressions which they
occasion, and which always make their appearance at the same time that
these objects discover themselves to the senses. Thus, as certain
sounds and smells are always found to attend certain Visible objects,
we naturally imagine a conjunction, even in place, betwixt the objects
and qualities, though the qualities be of such a nature as to admit
of no such conjunction, and really exist no where. But of this more
fully hereafter.[17] Meanwhile, 'tis sufficient to observe, that the
same propensity is the reason why we suppose necessity and power to
lie in the objects we consider, not in our mind, that considers them;
notwithstanding it is not possible for us to form the most distant idea
of that quality, when it is not taken for the determination of the mind
to pass from the idea of an object to that of its usual attendant.

But though this be the only reasonable account we can give of
necessity, the contrary notion is so riveted in the mind from the
principles above-mentioned, that I doubt not but my sentiments will
be treated by many as extravagant and ridiculous. What! the efficacy
of causes lie in the determination of the mind! As if causes did not
operate entirely independent of the mind, and would not continue their
operation, even though there was no mind existent to contemplate them,
or reason concerning them. Thought may well depend on causes for its
operation, but not causes on thought. This is to reverse the order of
nature, and make that secondary, which is really primary. To every
operation there is a power proportioned; and this power must be placed
on the body that operates. If we remove the power from one cause, we
must ascribe it to another: but to remove it from all causes, and
bestow it on a being that is no ways related to the cause or effect,
but by perceiving them, is a gross absurdity, and contrary to the most
certain principles of human reason.

I can only reply to all these arguments, that the case is here much the
same, as if a blind man should pretend to find a great many absurdities
in the supposition, that the colour of scarlet is not the same with the
sound of a trumpet, nor light the same with solidity. If we have really
no idea of a power or efficacy in any object, or of any real connexion
betwixt causes and effects, 'twill be to little purpose to prove,
that an efficacy is necessary in all operations. We do not understand
our own meaning in talking so, but ignorantly confound ideas which
are entirely distinct from each other. I am, indeed, ready to allow,
that there may be several qualities, both in material and immaterial
objects, with which we are utterly unacquainted; and if we please to
call these _power_ or _efficacy_,'twill be of little consequence to the
world. But when, instead of meaning these unknown qualities, we make
the terms of power and efficacy signify something, of which we have a
clear idea, and which is incompatible with those objects to which we
apply it, obscurity and error begin then to take place, and we are led
astray by a false philosophy. This is the case when we transfer the
determination of the thought to external objects, and suppose any real
intelligible connexion betwixt them; that being a quality which can
only belong to the mind that considers them.

As to what may be said, that the operations of nature are independent
of our thought and reasoning, I allow it; and accordingly have
observed, that objects bear to each other the relations of contiguity
and succession; that like objects may be observed, in several
instances, to have like relations; and that all this is independent
of, and antecedent to, the operations of the understanding. But if we
go any farther, and ascribe a power or necessary connexion to these
objects, this is what we can never observe in them, but must draw the
idea of it from what we feel internally in contemplating them. And this
I carry so far, that I am ready to convert my present reasoning into
an instance of it, by a subtility which it will not be difficult to

When any object is presented to us, it immediately conveys to the mind
a lively idea of that object which is usually found to attend it; and
this determination of the mind forms the necessary connexion of these
objects. But when we change the point of view from the objects to the
perceptions, in that case the impression is to be considered as the
cause, and the lively idea as the effect; and their necessary connexion
is that new determination, which we feel to pass from the idea of the
one to that of the other. The uniting principle among our internal
perceptions is as unintelligible as that among external objects, and
is not known to us any other way than by experience. Now, the nature
and effects of experience have been already sufficiently examined and
explained. It never gives us any insight into the internal structure
or operating principle of objects, but only accustoms the mind to pass
from one to another.

'Tis now time to collect all the different parts of this reasoning,
and, by joining them together, form an exact definition of the
relation of cause and effect, which makes the subject of the present
inquiry. This order would not have been excusable, of first examining
our inference from the relation before we had explained the relation
itself, had it been possible to proceed in a different method. But as
the nature of the relation depends so much on that of the inference,
we have been obliged to advance in this seemingly preposterous manner,
and make use of terms before we were able exactly to define them, or
fix their meaning. We shall now correct this fault by giving a precise
definition of cause and effect.

There may two definitions be given of this relation, which are only
different by their presenting a different view of the same object, and
making us consider it either as a _philosophical_ or as a _natural_
relation; either as a comparison of two ideas, or as an association
betwixt them. We may define a _cause_ to be "An object precedent and
contiguous to another, and where all the objects resembling the former
are placed in like relations of precedency and contiguity to those
objects that resemble the latter." If this definition be esteemed
defective, because drawn from objects foreign to the cause, we may
substitute this other definition in its place, viz. "A _cause_ is an
object precedent and contiguous to another, and so united with it that
the idea of the one determines the mind to form the idea of the other,
and the impression of the one to form a more lively idea of the other."
Should this definition also be rejected for the same reason, I know no
other remedy, than that the persons who express this delicacy should
substitute a juster definition in its place. But, for my part, I must
own my incapacity for such an undertaking. When I examine, with the
utmost accuracy, those objects which are commonly denominated causes
and effects, I find, in considering a single instance, that the one
object is precedent and contiguous to the other; and in enlarging my
view to consider several instances, I find only that like objects are
constantly placed in like relations of succession and contiguity.
Again, when I consider the influence of this constant conjunction, I
perceive that such a relation can never be an object of reasoning,
and can never operate upon the mind but by means of custom, which
determines the imagination to make a transition from the idea of one
object to that of its usual attendant, and from the impression of
one to a more lively idea of the other. However extraordinary these
sentiments may appear, I think it fruitless to trouble myself with any
farther inquiry or reasoning upon the subject, but shall repose myself
on them as on established maxims.

'Twill only be proper, before we leave this subject, to draw some
corollaries from it, by which we may remove several prejudices and
popular errors that have very much prevailed in philosophy. First,
we may learn, from the foregoing doctrine, that all causes are of
the same kind, and that, in particular, there is no foundation for
that distinction which we sometimes make betwixt efficient causes,
and causes _sine qua non_; or betwixt efficient causes, and formal,
and material, and exemplary, and final causes. For as our idea of
efficiency is derived from the constant conjunction of two objects,
wherever this is observed, the cause is efficient; and where it is not,
there can never be a cause of any kind. For the same reason we must
reject the distinction betwixt _cause_ and _occasion_, when supposed to
signify any thing essentially different from each other. If constant
conjunction be implied in what we call occasion, 'tis a real cause; if
not, 'tis no relation at all, and cannot give rise to any argument or

Secondly, the same course of reasoning will make us conclude, that
there is but one kind of _necessity_, as there is but one kind of
cause, and that the common distinction betwixt _moral_ and _physical_
necessity is without any foundation in nature. This clearly appears
from the precedent explication of necessity. 'Tis the constant
conjunction of objects, along with the determination of the mind, which
constitutes a physical necessity: and the removal of these is the same
thing with _chance_. As objects must either be conjoined or not, and as
the mind must either be determined or not to pass from one object to
another, 'tis impossible to admit of any medium betwixt chance and an
absolute necessity. In weakening this conjunction and determination you
do not change the nature of the necessity; since even in the operation
of bodies, these have different degrees of constancy and force, without
producing a different species of that relation.

The distinction, which we often make betwixt _power_ and the _exercise_
of it, is equally without foundation.

Thirdly, we may now be able fully to overcome all that repugnance,
which 'tis so natural for us to entertain against the foregoing
reasoning, by which we endeavoured to prove, that the necessity of a
cause to every beginning of existence is not founded on any arguments
either demonstrative or intuitive. Such an opinion will not appear
strange after the foregoing definitions. If we define a cause to be _an
object precedent and contiguous to another, and where all the objects
resembling the former are placed in a like relation of priority and
contiguity to those objects that resemble the latter_; we may easily
conceive that there is no absolute nor metaphysical necessity, that
every beginning of existence should be attended with such an object.
If we define a cause to be, _an object precedent and contiguous to
another, and so united with it in the imagination, that the idea of
the one determines the mind to form the idea of the other, and the
impression of the one to form a more lively idea of the other_; we
shall make still less difficulty of assenting to this opinion. Such
an influence on the mind is in itself perfectly extraordinary and
incomprehensible; nor can we be certain of its reality, but from
experience and observation.

I shall add as a fourth corollary, that we can never have reason to
believe that any object exists, of which we cannot form an idea.
For, as all our reasonings concerning existence are derived from
causation, and as all our reasonings concerning causation are derived
from the experienced conjunction of objects, not from any reasoning or
reflection, the same experience must give us a notion of these objects,
and must remove all mystery from our conclusions. This is so evident
that 'twould scarce have merited our attention, were it not to obviate
certain objections of this kind which might arise against the following
reasonings concerning _matter_ and _substance_. I need not observe,
that a full knowledge of the object is not requisite, but only of those
qualities of it which we believe to exist.

[12] Sect. 2.

[13] See Mr Locke; chapter of Power.

[14] See Father Malebranche, Book VI. Part II. Chap. 3, and the
illustrations upon it.

[15] The same imperfection attends our ideas of the Deity; but this can
have no effect either on religion or morals. The order of the universe
proves an omnipotent mind; that is, a mind whose will is _constantly
attended_ with the obedience of every creature and being. Nothing more
is requisite to give a foundation to all the articles of religion; nor
is it necessary we should form a distinct idea of the force and energy
of the Supreme Being.

[16] Section 6.

[17] Part IV. sect 5.



According to the precedent doctrine, there are no objects which, by the
mere survey, without consulting experience, we can determine to be the
causes of any other; and no objects which we can certainly determine in
the same manner not to be the causes. Any thing may produce any thing.
Creation, annihilation, motion, reason, volition; all these may arise
from one another, or from any other object we can imagine. Nor will
this appear strange if we compare two principles explained above, _that
the constant conjunction of objects determines their causation_,[18]
and _that, properly speaking, no objects are contrary to each other
but existence and non-existence_. Where objects are not contrary,
nothing hinders them from having that constant conjunction on which the
relation of cause and effect totally depends.

Since, therefore, 'tis possible for all objects to become causes or
effects to each other, it may be proper to fix some general rules by
which we may know when they really are so.

1. The cause and effect must be contiguous in space and time.

2. The cause must be prior to the effect.

3. There must be a constant union betwixt the cause and effect. 'Tis
chiefly this quality that constitutes the relation.

4. The same cause always produces the same effect, and the same effect
never arises but from the same cause. This principle we derive from
experience, and is the source of most of our philosophical reasonings.
For when by any clear experiment we have discovered the causes or
effects of any phenomenon, we immediately extend our observation to
every phenomenon of the same kind, without waiting for that constant
repetition, from which the first idea of this relation is derived.

5. There is another principle which hangs upon this, viz. that where
several different objects produce the same effect, it must be by means
of some quality which we discover to be common amongst them. For as
like effects imply like causes, we must always ascribe the causation to
the circumstance wherein we discover the resemblance.

6. The following principle is founded on the same reason. The
difference in the effects of two resembling objects must proceed from
that particular in which they differ. For as like causes always
produce like effects, when in any instance we find our expectation to
be disappointed, we must conclude that this irregularity proceeds from
some difference in the causes.

7. When any object increases or diminishes with the increase or
diminution of its cause, 'tis to be regarded as a compounded effect,
derived from the union of the several different effects which arise
from the several different parts of the cause. The absence or presence
of one part of the cause is here supposed to be always attended with
the absence or presence of a proportionable part of the effect. This
constant conjunction sufficiently proves that the one part is the cause
of the other. We must, however, beware not to draw such a conclusion
from a few experiments. A certain degree of heat gives pleasure; if you
diminish that heat, the pleasure diminishes; but it does not follow,
that if you augment it beyond a certain degree, the pleasure will
likewise augment; for we find that it degenerates into pain.

8. The eighth and last rule I shall take notice of is, that an object,
which exists for any time in its full perfection without any effect, is
not the sole cause of that effect, but requires to be assisted by some
other principle, which may forward its influence and operation. For as
like effects necessarily follow from like causes, and in a contiguous
time and place, their separation for a moment shows that these causes
are not complete ones.

Here is all the _logic_ I think proper to employ in my reasoning;
and perhaps even this was not very necessary, but might have been
supplied by the natural principles of our understanding. Our scholastic
headpieces and logicians show no such superiority above the mere
vulgar in their reason and ability, as to give us any inclination
to imitate them in delivering a long system of rules and precepts
to direct our judgment in philosophy. All the rules of this nature
are very easy in their invention, but extremely difficult in their
application; and even experimental philosophy, which seems the most
natural and simple of any, requires the utmost stretch of human
judgment. There is no phenomenon in nature but what is compounded
and modified by so many different circumstances, that, in order to
arrive at the decisive point, we must carefully separate whatever is
superfluous, and inquire, by new experiments, if every particular
circumstance of the first experiment was essential to it. These new
experiments are liable to a discussion of the same kind; so that the
utmost constancy is required to make us persevere in our inquiry,
and the utmost sagacity to chuse the right way among so many that
present themselves. If this be the case even in natural philosophy,
how much more in moral, where there is a much greater complication
of circumstances, and where those views and sentiments, which are
essential to any action of the mind, are so implicit and obscure,
that they often escape our strictest attention, and are not only
unaccountable in their causes, but even unknown in their existence? I
am much afraid, lest the small success I meet with in my inquiries,
will make this observation bear the air of an apology rather than of

If any thing can give me security in this particular, 'twill be the
enlarging the sphere of my experiments as much as possible; for which
reason, it may be proper, in this place, to examine the reasoning
faculty of brutes, as well as that of human creatures.

[18] Part I. Sect 5.



Next to the ridicule of denying an evident truth, is that of taking
much pains to defend it; and no truth appears to me more evident, than
that the beasts are endowed with thought and reason as well as men. The
arguments are in this case so obvious, that they never escape the most
stupid and ignorant.

We are conscious, that we ourselves, in adapting means to ends, are
guided by reason and design, and that 'tis not ignorantly nor casually
we perform those actions which tend to self-preservation, to the
obtaining pleasure, and avoiding pain. When, therefore, we see other
creatures, in millions of instances, perform like actions, and direct
them to like ends, all our principles of reason and probability carry
us with an invincible force to believe the existence of a like cause.
'Tis needless, in my opinion, to illustrate this argument by the
enumeration of particulars. The smallest attention will supply us with
more than are requisite. The resemblance betwixt the actions of animals
and those of men is so entire, in this respect, that the very first
action of the first animal we shall please to pitch on, will afford us
an incontestable argument for the present doctrine.

This doctrine is as useful as it is obvious, and furnishes us with a
kind of touchstone, by which we may try every system in this species
of philosophy. 'Tis from the resemblance of the external actions of
animals to those we ourselves perform, that we judge their internal
likewise to resemble ours; and the same principle of reasoning, carried
one step farther, will make us conclude, that, since our internal
actions resemble each other, the causes, from which they are derived,
must also be resembling. When any hypothesis, therefore, is advanced to
explain a mental operation, which is common to men and beasts, we must
apply the same hypothesis to both; and as every true hypothesis will
abide this trial, so I may venture to affirm, that no false one will
ever be able to endure it. The common defect of those systems, which
philosophers have employed to account for the actions of the mind, is,
that they suppose such a subtility and refinement of thought, as not
only exceeds the capacity of mere animals, but even of children and the
common people in our own species; who are, notwithstanding, susceptible
of the same emotions and affections as persons of the most accomplished
genius and understanding. Such a subtility is a clear proof of the
falsehood, as the contrary simplicity of the truth, of any system.

Let us, therefore, put our present system, concerning the nature of the
understanding, to this decisive trial, and see whether it will equally
account for the reasonings of beasts as for those of the human species.

Here we must make a distinction betwixt those actions of animals, which
are of a vulgar nature, and seem to be on a level with their common
capacities, and those more extraordinary instances of sagacity, which
they sometimes discover for their own preservation, and the propagation
of their species. A dog that avoids fire and precipices, that shuns
strangers, and caresses his master, affords us an instance of the
first kind. A bird, that chuses with such care and nicety the place
and materials of her nest, and sits upon her eggs for a due time, and
in a suitable season, with all the precaution that a chemist is capable
of in the most delicate projection, furnishes us with a lively instance
of the second.

As to the former actions, I assert they proceed from a reasoning, that
is not in itself different, nor founded on different principles, from
that which appears in human nature. 'Tis necessary, in the first place,
that there be some impression immediately present to their memory or
senses, in order to be the foundation of their judgment. From the
tone of voice the dog infers his master's anger, and foresees his own
punishment. From a certain sensation affecting his smell, he judges his
game not to be far distant from him.

Secondly, the inference he draws from the present impression is built
on experience, and on his observation of the conjunction of objects in
past instances. As you vary this experience, he varies his reasoning.
Make a beating follow upon one sign or motion for some time, and
afterwards upon another; and he will successively draw different
conclusions, according to his most recent experience.

Now, let any philosopher make a trial, and endeavour to explain that
act of the mind which we call _belief_, and give an account of the
principles from which it is derived, independent of the influence of
custom on the imagination, and let his hypothesis be equally applicable
to beasts as to the human species; and, after he has done this, I
promise to embrace his opinion. But, at the same time I demand as an
equitable condition, that if my system be the only one, which can
answer to all these terms, it may be received as entirely satisfactory
and convincing. And that 'tis the only one, is evident almost without
any reasoning. Beasts certainly never perceive any real connexion among
objects. 'Tis therefore by experience they infer one from another.
They can never by any arguments form a general conclusion, that those
objects of which they have had no experience, resemble those of which
they have. 'Tis therefore by means of custom alone that experience
operates upon them. All this was sufficiently evident with respect to
man. But with respect to beasts there cannot be the least suspicion of
mistake; which must be owned to be a strong confirmation, or rather an
invincible proof of my system.

Nothing shows more the force of habit in reconciling us to any
phenomenon, than this, that men are not astonished at the operations
of their own reason, at the same time that they admire the _instinct_
of animals, and find a difficulty in explaining it, merely because it
cannot be reduced to the very same principles. To consider the matter
aright, reason is nothing but a wonderful and unintelligible instinct
in our souls, which carries us along a certain train of ideas, and
endows them with particular qualities, according to their particular
situations and relations. This instinct, 'tis true, arises from past
observation and experience; but can any one give the ultimate reason,
why past experience and observation produces such an effect, any more
than why nature alone should produce it? Nature may certainly produce
whatever can arise from habit: nay, habit is nothing but one of the
principles of nature, and derives all its force from that origin.





In all demonstrative sciences the rules are certain and infallible;
but when we apply them, our fallible and uncertain faculties are very
apt to depart from them, and fall into error. We must therefore in
every reasoning form a new judgment, as a check or control on our
first judgment or belief; and must enlarge our view to comprehend a
kind of history of all the instances, wherein our understanding has
deceived us, compared with those wherein its testimony was just and
true. Our reason must be considered as a kind of cause, of which truth
is the natural effect; but such a one as, by the irruption of other
causes, and by the inconstancy of our mental powers, may frequently be
prevented. By this means all knowledge degenerates into probability;
and this probability is greater or less, according to our experience of
the veracity or deceitfulness of our understanding, and according to
the simplicity or intricacy of the question.

There is no algebraist nor mathematician so expert in his science, as
to place entire confidence in any truth immediately upon his discovery
of it, or regard it as any thing but a mere probability. Every time
he runs over his proofs, his confidence increases; but still more by
the approbation of his friends; and is raised to its utmost perfection
by the universal assent and applauses of the learned world. Now, 'tis
evident that this gradual increase of assurance is nothing but the
addition of new probabilities, and is derived from the constant union
of causes and effects, according to past experience and observation.

In accounts of any length or importance, merchants seldom trust to
the infallible certainty of numbers for their security; but by the
artificial structure of the accounts, produce a probability beyond
what is derived from the skill and experience of the accountant. For
that is plainly of itself some degree of probability; though uncertain
and variable, according to the degrees of his experience and length
of the account. Now as none will maintain, that our assurance in a
long numeration exceeds probability, I may safely affirm, that there
scarce is any proposition concerning numbers, of which we can have a
fuller security. For 'tis easily possible, by gradually diminishing
the numbers, to reduce the longest series of addition to the most
simple question which can be formed, to an addition of two single
numbers; and upon this supposition we shall find it impracticable to
show the precise limits of knowledge and of probability, or discover
that particular number at which the one ends and the other begins. But
knowledge and probability are of such contrary and disagreeing natures,
that they cannot well run insensibly into each other, and that because
they will not divide, but must be either entirely present, or entirely
absent. Besides, if any single addition were certain, every one would
be so, and consequently the whole or total sum; unless the whole can be
different from all its parts. I had almost said, that this was certain;
but I reflect that it must reduce _itself_, as well as every other
reasoning, and from knowledge degenerate into probability.

Since, therefore, all knowledge resolves itself into probability, and
becomes at last of the same nature with that evidence which we employ
in common life, we must now examine this latter species of reasoning,
and see on what foundation it stands.

In every judgment which we can form concerning probability, as well as
concerning knowledge, we ought always to correct the first judgment,
derived from the nature of the object, by another judgment, derived
from the nature of the understanding. 'Tis certain a man of solid sense
and long experience ought to have, and usually has, a greater assurance
in his opinions, than one that is foolish and ignorant, and that our
sentiments have different degrees of authority, even with ourselves,
in proportion to the degrees of our reason and experience. In the man
of the best sense and longest experience, this authority is never
entire; since even such a one must be conscious of many errors in the
past, and must still dread the like for the future. Here then arises a
new species of probability to correct and regulate the first, and fix
its just standard and proportion. As demonstration is subject to the
control of probability, so is probability liable to a new correction by
a reflex act of the mind, wherein the nature of our understanding, and
our reasoning from the first probability, become our objects.

Having thus found in every probability, beside the original uncertainty
inherent in the subject, a new uncertainty, derived from the
weakness of that faculty which judges, and having adjusted these two
together, we are obliged by our reason to add a new doubt, derived
from the possibility of error in the estimation we make of the truth
and fidelity of our faculties. This is a doubt which immediately
occurs to us, and of which, if we would closely pursue our reason,
we cannot avoid giving a decision. But this decision, though it
should be favourable to our preceding judgment, being founded only
on probability, must weaken still further our first evidence, and
must itself be weakened by a fourth doubt of the same kind, and so
on _in infinitum_; till at last there remain nothing of the original
probability, however great we may suppose it to have been, and however
small the diminution by every new uncertainty. No finite object can
subsist under a decrease repeated _in infinitum_; and even the vastest
quantity, which can enter into human imagination, must in this manner
be reduced to nothing. Let our first belief be never so strong, it must
infallibly perish, by passing through so many new examinations, of
which each diminishes somewhat of its force and vigour. When I reflect
on the natural fallibility of my judgment, I have less confidence in
my opinions, than when I only consider the objects concerning which I
reason; and when I proceed still farther, to turn the scrutiny against
every successive estimation I make of my faculties, all the rules of
logic require a continual diminution, and at last a total extinction of
belief and evidence.

Should it here be asked me, whether I sincerely assent to this
argument, which I seem to take such pains to inculcate, and whether I
be really one of those sceptics, who hold that all is uncertain, and
that our judgment is not in _any_ thing possessed of _any_ measures of
truth and falsehood; I should reply, that this question is entirely
superfluous, and that neither I, nor any other person, was ever
sincerely and constantly of that opinion. Nature, by an absolute and
uncontrollable necessity, has determined us to judge as well as to
breathe and feel; nor can we any more forbear viewing certain objects
in a stronger and fuller light, upon account of their customary
connexion with a present impression, than we can hinder ourselves from
thinking, as long as we are awake, or seeing the surrounding bodies,
when we turn our eyes towards them in broad sunshine. Whoever has
taken the pains to refute the cavils of this _total_ scepticism, has
really disputed without an antagonist, and endeavoured by arguments to
establish a faculty, which nature has antecedently implanted in the
mind, and rendered unavoidable.

My intention then in displaying so carefully the arguments of that
fantastic sect, is only to make the reader sensible of the truth of my
hypothesis, _that all our reasonings concerning causes and effects,
are derived from nothing but custom; and that belief is more properly
an act of the sensitive, than of the cogitative part of our natures_.
I have here proved, that the very same principles, which make us
form a decision upon any subject, and correct that decision by the
consideration of our genius and capacity, and of the situation of our
mind, when we examined that subject; I say, I have proved, that these
same principles, when carried farther, and applied to every new reflex
judgment, must, by continually diminishing the original evidence, at
last reduce it to nothing, and utterly subvert all belief and opinion.
If belief, therefore, were a simple act of the thought, without any
peculiar manner of conception, or the addition or a force and vivacity,
it must infallibly destroy itself, and in every case terminate in
a total suspense of judgment. But as experience will sufficiently
convince any one, who thinks it worth while to try, that though he
can find no error in the foregoing arguments, yet he still continues
to believe, and think, and reason, as usual, he may safely conclude,
that his reasoning and belief is some sensation or peculiar manner of
conception, which 'tis impossible for mere ideas and reflections to

But here, perhaps, it may be demanded, how it happens, even upon my
hypothesis, that these arguments above explained produce not a total
suspense of judgment, and after what manner the mind ever retains a
degree of assurance in any subject? For as these new probabilities,
which, by their repetition, perpetually diminish the original
evidence, are founded on the very same principles, whether of thought
or sensation, as the primary judgment, it may seem unavoidable, that
in either case they must equally subvert it, and by the opposition,
either of contrary thoughts or sensations, reduce the mind to a total
uncertainty. I suppose there is some question proposed to me, and
that, after revolving over the impressions of my memory and senses,
and carrying my thoughts from them to such objects as are commonly
conjoined with them, I feel a stronger and more forcible conception
on the one side than on the other. This strong conception forms my
first decision. I suppose, that afterwards I examine my judgment
itself, and observing, from experience, that 'tis sometimes just and
sometimes erroneous, I consider it as regulated by contrary principles
or causes, of which some lead to truth, and some to error; and in
balancing these contrary causes, I diminish, by a new probability,
the assurance of my first decision. This new probability is liable to
the same diminution as the foregoing, and so on, _in infinitum_. 'Tis
therefore demanded, _how it happens, that, even after all, we retain
a degree of belief, which is sufficient for our purpose, either in
philosophy or common life?_

I answer, that after the first and second decision, as the action of
the mind becomes forced and unnatural, and the ideas faint and obscure,
though the principles of judgment, and the balancing of opposite causes
be the same as at the very beginning, yet their influence on the
imagination, and the vigour they add to, or diminish from, the thought,
is by no means equal. Where the mind reaches not its objects with
easiness and facility, the same principles have not the same effect as
in a more natural conception of the ideas; nor does the imagination
feel a sensation, which holds any proportion with that which arises
from its common judgments and opinions. The attention is on the
stretch; the posture of the mind is uneasy; and the spirits being
diverted from their natural course, are not governed in their movements
by the same laws, at least not to the same degree, as when they flow in
their usual channel.

If we desire similar instances, 'twill not be very difficult to find
them. The present subject of metaphysics will supply us abundantly. The
same argument, which would have been esteemed convincing in a reasoning
concerning history or politics, has little or no influence in these
abstruser subjects, even though it be perfectly comprehended; and that
because there is required a study and an effort of thought, in order
to its being comprehended: and this effort of thought disturbs the
operation of our sentiments, on which the belief depends. The case is
the same in other subjects. The straining of the imagination always
hinders the regular flowing of the passions and sentiments. A tragic
poet, that would represent his heroes as very ingenious and witty in
their misfortunes, would never touch the passions. As the emotions of
the soul prevent any subtile reasoning and reflection, so these latter
actions of the mind are equally prejudicial to the former. The mind,
as well as the body, seems to be endowed with a certain precise degree
of force and activity, which it never employs in one action, but at
the expense of all the rest. This is more evidently true, where the
actions are of quite different natures; since in that case the force
of the mind is not only diverted, but even the disposition changed, so
as to render us incapable of a sudden transition from one action to
the other, and still more of performing both at once. No wonder, then,
the conviction, which arises from a subtile reasoning, diminishes in
proportion to the efforts which the imagination makes to enter into the
reasoning, and to conceive it in all its parts. Belief, being a lively
conception, can never be entire, where it is not founded on something
natural and easy.

This I take to be the true state of the question, and cannot approve
of that expeditious way, which some take with the sceptics, to reject
at once all their arguments without inquiry or examination. If the
sceptical reasonings be strong, say they, 'tis a proof that reason may
have some force and authority: if weak, they can never be sufficient
to invalidate all the conclusions of our understanding. This argument
is not just; because the sceptical reasonings, were it possible for
them to exist, and were they not destroyed by their subtilty, would
be successively both strong and weak, according to the successive
dispositions of the mind. Reason first appears in possession of the
throne, prescribing laws, and imposing maxims, with an absolute sway
and authority. Her enemy, therefore, is obliged to take shelter under
her protection, and by making use of rational arguments to prove the
fallaciousness and imbecility of reason, produces, in a manner, a
patent under her hand and seal. This patent has at first an authority,
proportioned to the present and immediate authority of reason, from
which it is derived. But as it is supposed to be contradictory to
reason, it gradually diminishes the force of that governing power and
its own at the same time; till at last they both vanish away into
nothing, by a regular and just diminution. The sceptical and dogmatical
reasons are of the same kind, though contrary in their operation and
tendency; so that where the latter is strong, it has an enemy of equal
force in the former to encounter; and as their forces were at first
equal, they still continue so, as long as either of them subsists; nor
does one of them lose any force in the contest, without taking as much
from its antagonist. 'Tis happy, therefore, that nature breaks the
force of all sceptical arguments in time, and keeps them from having
any considerable influence on the understanding. Were we to trust
entirely to their self-destruction, that can never take place, 'till
they have first subverted all conviction, and have totally destroyed
human reason.



Thus the sceptic still continues to reason and believe, even though he
asserts that he cannot defend his reason by reason; and by the same
rule he must assent to the principle concerning the existence of body,
though he cannot pretend, by any arguments of philosophy, to maintain
its veracity. Nature has not left this to his choice, and has doubtless
esteemed it an affair of too great importance, to be trusted to our
uncertain reasonings and speculations. We may well ask, _What causes
induce us to believe in the existence of body_? but 'tis in vain to
ask, _Whether there be body or not_? That is a point, which we must
take for granted in all our reasonings.

The subject, then, of our present inquiry, is concerning the _causes_
which induce us to believe in the existence of body: and my reasonings
on this head I shall begin with a distinction, which at first sight
may seem superfluous, but which will contribute very much to the
perfect understanding of what follows. We ought to examine apart those
two questions, which are commonly confounded together, viz. Why we
attribute a _continued_ existence to objects, even when they are not
present to the senses; and why we suppose them to have an existence
_distinct_ from the mind and perception? Under this last head I
comprehend their situation as well as relations, their _external_
position as well as the _independence_ of their existence and
operation. These two questions concerning the continued and distinct
existence of body are intimately connected together. For if the objects
of our senses continue to exist, even when they are not perceived,
their existence is of course independent of and distinct from the
perception; and _vice versa_, if their existence be independent of
the perception, and distinct from it, they must continue to exist,
even though they be not perceived. But though the decision of the one
question decides the other; yet that we may the more easily discover
the principles of human nature, from whence the decision arises, we
shall carry along with us this distinction, and shall consider, whether
it be the _senses, reason_, or the _imagination_, that produces the
opinion of a _continued_ or of a _distinct_ existence. These are the
only questions that are intelligible on the present subject. For as to
the notion of external existence, when taken for something specifically
different from our perceptions, we have already shown its absurdity.[1]

To begin with the _senses_,'tis evident these faculties are incapable
of giving rise to the notion of the _continued_ existence of their
objects, after they no longer appear to the senses. For that is a
contradiction in terms, and supposes that the senses continue to
operate, even after they have ceased all manner of operation. These
faculties, therefore, if they have any influence in the present case,
must produce the opinion of a distinct, not of a continued existence;
and in order to that, must present their impressions either as images
and representations, or as these very distinct and external existences.

That our senses offer not their impressions as the images of something
_distinct_, or _independent_, and _external_, is evident; because
they convey to us nothing but a single perception, and never give us
the least intimation of any thing beyond. A single perception can
never produce the idea of a double existence, but by some inference
either of the reason or imagination. When the mind looks farther than
what immediately appears to it, its conclusions can never be put to
the account of the senses; and it certainly looks farther, when from
a single perception it infers a double existence, and supposes the
relations of resemblance and causation betwixt them.

If our senses, therefore, suggest any idea of distinct existences,
they must convey the impressions as those very existences, by a kind
of fallacy and illusion. Upon this head we may observe, that all
sensations are felt by the mind, such as they really are, and that,
when we doubt whether they present themselves as distinct objects, or
as mere impressions, the difficulty is not concerning their nature, but
concerning their relations and situation. Now, if the senses presented
our impressions as external to, and independent of ourselves, both the
objects and ourselves must be obvious to our senses, otherwise they
could not be compared by these faculties. The difficulty then, is, how
far we are _ourselves_ the objects of our senses.

'Tis certain there is no question in philosophy more abstruse than that
concerning identity, and the nature of the uniting principle, which
constitutes a person. So far from being able by our senses merely to
determine this question, we must have recourse to the most profound
metaphysics to give a satisfactory answer to it; and in common life
'tis evident these ideas of self and person are never very fixed nor
determinate. 'Tis absurd therefore to imagine the senses can ever
distinguish betwixt ourselves and external objects.

Add to this, that every impression, external and internal, passions,
affections, sensations, pains and pleasures, are originally on the
same footing; and that whatever other differences we may observe among
them, they appear, all of them, in their true colours, as impressions
or perceptions. And indeed, if we consider the matter aright, 'tis
scarce possible it should be otherwise; nor is it conceivable that
our senses should be more capable of deceiving us in the situation
and relations, than in the nature of our impressions. For since all
actions and sensations of the mind are known to us by consciousness,
they must necessarily appear in every particular what they are, and be
what they appear. Every thing that enters the mind, being in _reality_
as the perception, 'tis impossible any thing should to _feeling_ appear
different. This were to suppose, that even where we are most intimately
conscious, we might be mistaken.

But not to lose time in examining, whether 'tis possible for our
senses to deceive us, and represent our perceptions as distinct from
ourselves, that is, as _external_ to and _independent_ of us; let us
consider whether they really do so, and whether this error proceeds
from an immediate sensation, or from some other causes.

To begin with the question concerning _external_ existence, it may
perhaps be said, that setting aside the metaphysical question of the
identity of a thinking substance, our own body evidently belongs
to us; and as several impressions appear exterior to the body, we
suppose them also exterior to ourselves. The paper, on which I write
at present, is beyond my hand. The table is beyond the paper. The
walls of the chamber beyond the table. And in casting my eye towards
the window, I perceive a great extent of fields and buildings beyond
my chamber. From all this it may be inferred, that no other faculty is
required, beside the senses, to convince us of the external existence
of body. But to prevent this inference, we need only weigh the three
following considerations. _First_, that, properly speaking, 'tis not
our body we perceive, when we regard our limbs and members, but certain
impressions, which enter by the senses; so that the ascribing a real
and corporeal existence to these impressions, or to their objects, is
an act of the mind as difficult to explain as that which we examine at
present. _Secondly_, sounds, and tastes, and smells, though commonly
regarded by the mind as continued independent qualities, appear not to
have any existence in extension, and consequently cannot appear to the
senses as situated externally to the body. The reason why we ascribe a
place to them, shall be considered afterwards.[2] _Thirdly_, even our
sight informs us not of distance or outness (so to speak) immediately
and without a certain reasoning and experience, as is acknowledged by
the most rational philosophers.

As to the _independency_ of our perceptions on ourselves, this can
never be an object of the senses; but any opinion we form concerning
it, must be derived from experience and observation: and we shall see
afterwards, that our conclusions from experience are far from being
favourable to the doctrine of the independency of our perceptions.
Meanwhile we may observe, that when we talk of real distinct
existences, we have commonly more in our eye their independency than
external situation in place, and think an object has a sufficient
reality, when its being is uninterrupted, and independent of the
incessant revolutions, which we are conscious of in ourselves.

Thus to resume what I have said concerning the senses; they give us
no notion of continued existence, because they cannot operate beyond
the extent, in which they really operate. They as little produce the
opinion of a distinct existence, because they neither can offer it to
the mind as represented, nor as original. To offer it as represented,
they must present both an object and an image. To make it appear as
original, they must convey a falsehood; and this falsehood must lie in
the relations and situation: in order to which, they must be able to
compare the object with ourselves; and even in that case they do not,
nor is it possible they should deceive us. We may therefore conclude
with certainty, that the opinion of a continued and of a distinct
existence never arises from the senses.

To confirm this, we may observe, that there are three different kinds
of impressions conveyed by the senses. The first are those of the
figure, bulk, motion, and solidity of bodies. The second, those of
colours, tastes, smells, sounds, heat and cold. The third are the
pains and pleasures that arise from the application of objects to our
bodies, as by the cutting of our flesh with steel, and such like.
Both philosophers and the vulgar suppose the first of these to have
a distinct continued existence. The vulgar only regard the second as
on the same footing. Both philosophers and the vulgar, again, esteem
the third to be merely perceptions; and, consequently, interrupted and
dependent beings.

Now, 'tis evident, that, whatever may be our philosophical opinion,
colour, sounds, heat and cold, as far as appears to the senses,
exist after the same manner with motion and solidity; and that the
difference we make betwixt them, in this respect, arises not from the
mere perception. So strong is the prejudice for the distinct continued
existence of the former qualities, that when the contrary opinion is
advanced by modern philosophers, people imagine they can almost refute
it from their feeling and experience, and that their very senses
contradict this philosophy. 'Tis also evident, that colours, sounds,
&c. are originally on the same footing with the pain that arises from
steel, and pleasure that proceeds from a fire; and that the difference
betwixt them is founded neither on perception nor reason, but on the
imagination. For as they are confessed to be, both of them, nothing
but perceptions arising from the particular configurations and motions
of the parts of body, wherein possibly can their difference consist?
Upon the whole, then, we may conclude, that, as far as the senses are
judges, all perceptions are the same in the manner of their existence.

We may also observe, in this instance of sounds and colours, that we
can attribute a distinct continued existence to objects without ever
consulting _reason_, or weighing our opinions by any philosophical
principles. And, indeed, whatever convincing arguments philosophers may
fancy they can produce to establish the belief of objects independent
of the mind, 'tis obvious these arguments are known but to very few;
and that 'tis not by them that children, peasants, and the greatest
part of mankind, are induced to attribute objects to some impressions,
and deny them to others. Accordingly, we find, that all the conclusions
which the vulgar form on this head, are directly contrary to those
which are confirmed by philosophy. For philosophy informs us, that
every thing which appears to the mind, is nothing but a perception,
and is interrupted and dependent on the mind; whereas the vulgar
confound perceptions and objects, and attribute a distinct continued
existence to the very things they feel or see. This sentiment, then,
as it is entirely unreasonable, must proceed from some other faculty
than the understanding. To which we may add, that, as long as we take
our perceptions and objects to be the same, we can never infer the
existence of the one from that of the other, nor form any argument
from the relation of cause and effect; which is the only one that can
assure us of matter of fact. Even after we distinguish our perceptions
from our objects, 'twill appear presently that we are still incapable
of reasoning from the existence of one to that of the other: so that,
upon the whole, our reason neither does, nor is it possible it ever
should, upon any supposition, give us an assurance of the continued and
distinct existence of body. That opinion must be entirely owing to the
_imagination_: which must now be the subject of our inquiry.

Since all impressions are internal and perishing existences, and
appear as such, the notion of their distinct and continued existence
must arise from a concurrence of some of their qualities with the
qualities of the imagination; and since this notion does not extend
to all of them, it must arise from certain qualities peculiar to some
impressions. 'Twill, therefore, be easy for us to discover these
qualities by a comparison of the impressions, to which we attribute
a distinct and continued existence, with those which we regard as
internal and perishing.

We may observe, then, that 'tis neither upon account of the
involuntariness of certain impressions, as is commonly supposed, nor of
their superior force and violence, that we attribute to them a reality
and continued existence, which we refuse to others that are voluntary
or feeble. For 'tis evident, our pains and pleasures, our passions and
affections, which we never suppose to have any existence beyond our
perception, operate with greater violence, and are equally involuntary,
as the impressions of figure and extension, colour and sound, which we
suppose to be permanent beings. The heat of a fire, when moderate, is
supposed to exist in the fire; but the pain which it causes upon a near
approach is not taken to have any being except in the perception.

These vulgar opinions, then, being rejected, we must search for some
other hypothesis, by which we may discover those peculiar qualities
in our impressions, which makes us attribute to them a distinct and
continued existence.

After a little examination, we shall find, that all those objects, to
which we attribute a continued existence, have a peculiar _constancy_,
which distinguishes them from the impressions whose existence depends
upon our perception. Those mountains, and houses, and trees, which lie
at present under my eye, have always appeared to me in the same order;
and when I lose sight of them by shutting my eyes or turning my head,
I soon after find them return upon me without the least alteration.
My bed and table, my books and papers, present themselves in the same
uniform manner, and change not upon account of any interruption in my
seeing or perceiving them. This is the case with all the impressions,
whose objects are supposed to have an external existence; and is the
case with no other impressions, whether gentle or violent, voluntary or

This constancy, however, is not so perfect as not to admit of very
considerable exceptions. Bodies often change their position and
qualities, and, after a little absence or interruption, may become
hardly knowable. But here 'tis observable, that even in these changes
they preserve a _coherence_, and have a regular dependence on each
other; which is the foundation of a kind of reasoning from causation,
and produces the opinion of their continued existence. When I return
to my chamber after an hour's absence, I find not my fire in the same
situation in which I left it; but then I am accustomed, in other
instances, to see a like alteration produced in a like time, whether
I am present or absent, near or remote. This coherence, therefore, in
their changes, is one of the characteristics of external objects, as
well as their constancy.

Having found that the opinion of the continued existence of body
depends on the _coherence_ and _constancy_ of certain impressions, I
now proceed to examine after what manner these qualities give rise
to so extraordinary an opinion. To begin with the coherence; we may
observe, that though those internal impressions, which we regard as
fleeting and perishing, have also a certain coherence or regularity
in their appearances, yet 'tis of somewhat a different nature from
that which we discover in bodies. Our passions are found by experience
to have a mutual connexion with, and dependence on each other; but
on no occasion is it necessary to suppose that they have existed and
operated, when they were not perceived, in order to preserve the same
dependence and connexion, of which we have had experience. The case
is not the same with relation to external objects. Those require
a continued existence, or otherwise lose, in a great measure, the
regularity of their operation. I am here seated in my chamber, with
my face to the fire; and all the objects that strike my senses are
contained in a few yards around me. My memory, indeed, informs me of
the existence of many objects; but, then, this information extends not
beyond their past existence, nor do either my senses or memory give any
testimony to the continuance of their being. When, therefore, I am thus
seated, and revolve over these thoughts, I hear on a sudden a noise as
of a door turning upon its hinges; and a little after see a porter, who
advances towards me. This gives occasion to many new reflections and
reasonings. First, I never have observed that this noise could proceed
from any thing but the motion of a door; and therefore conclude, that
the present phenomenon is a contradiction to all past experience,
unless the door, which I remember on t'other side the chamber, be still
in being. Again, I have always found, that a human body was possessed
of a quality which I call gravity, and which hinders it from mounting
in the air, as this porter must have done to arrive at my chamber,
unless the stairs I remember be not annihilated by my absence. But this
is not all. I receive a letter, which, upon opening it, I perceive by
the handwriting and subscription to have come from a friend, who says
he is two hundred leagues distant. 'Tis evident I can never account
for this phenomenon, conformable to my experience in other instances,
without spreading out in my mind the whole sea and continent between
us, and supposing the effects and continued existence of posts and
ferries, according to my memory and observation. To consider these
phenomena of the porter and letter in a certain light, they are
contradictions to common experience, and may be regarded as objections
to those maxims which we form concerning the connexions of causes and
effects. I am accustomed to hear such a sound, and see such an object
in motion at the same time. I have not received, in this particular
instance, both these perceptions. These observations are contrary,
unless I suppose that the door still remains, and that it was opened
without my perceiving it: and this supposition, which was at first
entirely arbitrary and hypothetical, acquires a force and evidence by
its being the only one upon which I can reconcile these contradictions.
There is scarce a moment of my life, wherein there is not a similar
instance presented to me, and I have not occasion to suppose the
continued existence of objects, in order to connect their past and
present appearances, and give them such an union with each other, as I
have found, by experience, to be suitable to their particular natures
and circumstances. Here, then, I am naturally led to regard the world
as something real and durable, and as preserving its existence, even
when it is no longer present to my perception.

But, though this conclusion, from the coherence of appearances, may
seem to be of the same nature with our reasonings concerning causes
and effects, as being derived from custom, and regulated by past
experience, we shall find, upon examination, that they are at the
bottom considerably different from each other, and that this inference
arises from the understanding and from custom, in an indirect and
oblique manner. For 'twill readily be allowed, that since nothing is
ever really present to the mind, besides its own perceptions, 'tis
not only impossible that any habit should ever be acquired otherwise
than by the regular succession of these perceptions, but also that
any habit should ever exceed that degree of regularity. Any degree,
therefore, of regularity in our perceptions, can never be a foundation
for us to infer a greater degree of regularity in some objects which
are not perceived, since this supposes a contradiction, viz. a habit
acquired by what was never present to the mind. But, 'tis evident that,
whenever we infer the continued existence of the objects of sense from
their coherence, and the frequency of their union, 'tis in order to
bestow on the objects a greater regularity than what is observed in our
mere perceptions. We remark a connexion betwixt two kinds of objects
in their past appearance to the senses, but are not able to observe
this connexion to be perfectly constant, since the turning about of our
head, or the shutting of our eyes, is able to break it. What, then, do
we suppose in this case, but that these objects still continue their
usual connexion, notwithstanding their apparent interruption, and that
the irregular appearances are joined by something of which we are
insensible? But as all reasoning concerning matters of fact arises only
from custom, and custom can only be the effect of repeated perceptions,
the extending of custom and reasoning beyond the perceptions can
never be the direct and natural effect of the constant repetition and
connexion, but must arise from the cooperation of some other principles.

I have already observed,[3] in examining the foundation of mathematics,
that the imagination, when set into any train of thinking, is apt to
continue even when its object fails it, and, like a galley put in
motion by the oars, carries on its course without any new impulse. This
I have assigned for the reason, why, after considering several loose
standards of equality, and correcting them by each other, we proceed
to imagine so correct and exact a standard of that relation as is
not liable to the least error or variation. The same principle makes
us easily entertain this opinion of the continued existence of body.
Objects have a certain coherence even as they appear to our senses;
but this coherence is much greater and more uniform if we suppose the
objects to have a continued existence; and as the mind is once in the
train of observing an uniformity among objects, it naturally continues
till it renders the uniformity as complete as possible. The simple
supposition of their continued existence suffices for this purpose, and
gives us a notion of a much greater regularity among objects, than what
they have when we look no farther than our senses.

But whatever force we may ascribe to this principle, I am afraid
'tis too weak to support alone so vast an edifice as is that of the
continued existence of all external bodies; and that we must join the
_constancy_ of their appearance to the _coherence_, in order to give
a satisfactory account of that opinion. As the explication of this
will lead me into a considerable compass of very profound reasoning, I
think it proper, in order to avoid confusion, to give a short sketch or
abridgment of my system, and afterwards draw out all its parts in their
full compass. This inference from the constancy of our perceptions,
like the precedent from their coherence, gives rise to the opinion
of the _continued_ existence of body, which is prior to that of its
_distinct_ existence, and produces that latter principle.

When we have been accustomed to observe a constancy in certain
impressions, and have found that the perception of the sun or ocean,
for instance, returns upon us, after an absence or annihilation, with
like parts and in a like order as at its first appearance, we are not
apt to regard these interrupted perceptions as different (which they
really are), but on the contrary consider them as individually the
same, upon account of their resemblance. But as this interruption of
their existence is contrary to their perfect identity, and makes us
regard the first impression as annihilated, and the second as newly
created, we find ourselves somewhat at a loss, and are involved in a
kind of contradiction. In order to free ourselves from this difficulty,
we disguise, as much as possible, the interruption, or rather remove it
entirely, by supposing that these interrupted perceptions are connected
by a real existence, of which we are insensible. This supposition, or
idea of continued existence, acquires a force and vivacity from the
memory of these broken impressions, and from that propensity which
they give us to suppose them the same; and according to the precedent
reasoning, the very essence of belief consists in the force and
vivacity of the conception.

In order to justify this system, there are four things requisite.
_First_, to explain the _principium individuations_, or principle of
identity. _Secondly_, give a reason why the resemblance of our broken
and interrupted perceptions induces us to attribute an identity to
them. _Thirdly_, account for that propensity, which this allusion
gives, to unite these broken appearances by a continued existence.
_Fourthly_, and lastly, explain that force and vivacity of conception
which arises from the propensity.

First, as to the principle of individuation, we may observe, that
the view of any one object is not sufficient to convey the idea of
identity. For in that proposition, _an object is the same with itself_,
if the idea expressed by the word _object_ were no ways distinguished
from that meant by _itself_; we really should mean nothing, nor would
the proposition contain a predicate and a subject, which, however, are
implied in this affirmation. One single object conveys the idea of
unity, not that of identity.

On the other hand, a multiplicity of objects can never convey this
idea, however resembling they may be supposed. The mind always
pronounces the one not to be the other, and considers them as forming
two, three, or any determinate number of objects, whose existences are
entirely distinct and independent.

Since then both number and unity are incompatible with the relation
of identity, it must lie in something that is neither of them. But to
tell the truth, at first sight this seems utterly impossible. Betwixt
unity and number there can be no medium; no more than betwixt existence
and non-existence. After one object is supposed to exist, we must
either suppose another also to exist; in which case we have the idea
of number: or we must suppose it not to exist; in which case the first
object remains at unity.

To remove this difficulty, let us have recourse to the idea of time
or duration. I have already observed,[4] that time, in a strict
sense, implies succession, and that, when we apply its idea to any
unchangeable object, 'tis only by a fiction of the imagination by
which the unchangeable object is supposed to participate of the
changes of the co-existent objects, and in particular of that of our
perceptions. This fiction of the imagination almost universally takes
place; and 'tis by means of it that a single object, placed before
us, and surveyed for any time without our discovering in it any
interruption or variation, is able to give us a notion of identity.
For when we consider any two points of this time, we may place them in
different lights: we may either survey them at the very same instant;
in which case they give us the idea of number, both by themselves and
by the object; which must be multiplied in order to be conceived at
once, as existent in these two different points of time: or, on the
other hand, we may trace the succession of time by a like succession
of ideas, and conceiving first one moment, along with the object
then existent, imagine afterwards a change in the time without any
_variation_ or _interruption_ in the object; in which case it gives
us the idea of unity. Here then is an idea, which is a medium betwixt
unity and number; or, more properly speaking, is either of them,
according to the view in which we take it: and this idea we call that
of identity. We cannot, in any propriety of speech, say that an object
is the same with itself, unless we mean that the object existent at
one time is the same with itself existent at another. By this means we
make a difference betwixt the idea meant by the word _object_, and that
meant by _itself_, without going the length of number, and at the same
time without restraining ourselves to a strict and absolute unity.

Thus the principle of individuation is nothing but the _invariableness_
and _uninterruptedness_ of any object, through a supposed variation of
time, by which the mind can trace it in the different periods of its
existence, without any break of the view, and without being obliged to
form the idea of multiplicity or number.

I now proceed to explain the _second_ part of my system, and show why
the constancy of our perceptions makes us ascribe to them a perfect
numerical identity, though there be very long intervals betwixt their
appearance, and they have only one of the essential qualities of
identity, viz. _invariableness_. That I may avoid all ambiguity and
confusion on this head, I shall observe, that I here account for the
opinions and belief of the vulgar with regard to the existence of
body; and therefore must entirely conform myself to their manner of
thinking and of expressing themselves. Now, we have already observed,
that however philosophers may distinguish betwixt the objects and
perceptions of the senses; which they suppose co-existent and
resembling; yet this is a distinction which is not comprehended by
the generality of mankind, who, as they perceive only one being, can
never assent to the opinion of a double existence and representation.
Those very sensations which enter by the eye or ear are with them the
true objects, nor can they readily conceive that this pen or paper,
which is immediately perceived, represents another which is different
from, but resembling it. In order, therefore, to accommodate myself to
their notions, I shall at first suppose that there is only a single
existence, which I shall call indifferently _object_ or _perception_,
according as it shall seem best to suit my purpose, understanding by
both of them what any common man means by a hat, or shoe, or stone, or
any other impression conveyed to him by his senses. I shall be sure to
give warning when I return to a more philosophical way of speaking and

To enter therefore upon the question concerning the source of the
error and deception with regard to identity, when we attribute it
to our resembling perceptions, notwithstanding their interruption,
I must here recal an observation which I have already proved and
explained.[5] Nothing is more apt to make us mistake one idea for
another, than any relation betwixt them, which associates them together
in the imagination, and makes it pass with facility from one to the
other. Of all relations, that of resemblance is in this respect the
most efficacious; and that because it not only causes an association
of ideas, but also of dispositions, and makes us conceive the one
idea by an act or operation of the mind, similar to that by which we
conceive the other. This circumstance I have observed to be of great
moment; and we may establish it for a general rule, that whatever ideas
place the mind in the same disposition or in similar ones, are very
apt to be confounded. The mind readily passes from one to the other,
and perceives not the change without a strict attention, of which,
generally speaking, 'tis wholly incapable.

In order to apply this general maxim, we must first examine the
disposition of the mind in viewing any object which preserves a
perfect identity, and then find some other object that is confounded
with it, by causing a similar disposition. When we fix our thought
on any object, and suppose it to continue the same for some time,
'tis evident we suppose the change to lie only in the time, and never
exert ourselves to produce any new image or idea of the object. The
faculties of the mind repose themselves in a manner, and take no
more exercise than what is necessary to continue that idea of which
we were formerly possessed, and which subsists without variation or
interruption. The passage from one moment to another is scarce felt,
and distinguishes not itself by a different perception or idea, which
may require a different direction of the spirits, in order to its

Now, what other objects, beside identical ones, are capable of placing
the mind in the same disposition, when it considers them, and of
causing the same uninterrupted passage of the imagination from one idea
to another? This question is of the last importance. For if we can
find any such objects, we may certainly conclude, from the foregoing
principle, that they are very naturally confounded with identical
ones, and are taken for them in most of our reasonings. But though
this question be very important, 'tis not very difficult nor doubtful.
For I immediately reply, that a succession of related objects places
the mind in this disposition, and is considered with the same smooth
and uninterrupted progress of the imagination, as attends the view of
the same invariable object. The very nature and essence of relation is
to connect our ideas with each other, and upon the appearance of one,
to facilitate the transition to its correlative. The passage betwixt
related ideas, is therefore so smooth and easy, that it produces little
alteration on the mind, and seems like the continuation of the same
action; and as the continuation of the same action is an effect of the
continued view of the same object, 'tis for this reason we attribute
sameness to every succession of related objects. The thought slides
along the succession with equal facility, as if it considered only one
object; and therefore confounds the succession with the identity.

We shall afterwards see many instances of this tendency of relation
to make us ascribe an _identity_ to _different_ objects; but shall
here confine ourselves to the present subject. We find by experience,
that there is such a _constancy_ in almost all the impressions of the
senses, that their interruption produces no alteration on them, and
hinders them not from returning the same in appearance and in situation
as at their first existence. I survey the furniture of my chamber; I
shut my eyes, and afterwards open them; and find the new perceptions
to resemble perfectly those which formerly struck my senses. This
resemblance is observed in a thousand instances, and naturally connects
together our ideas of these interrupted perceptions by the strongest
relation, and conveys the mind with an easy transition from one to
another. An easy transition or passage of the imagination, along the
ideas of these different and interrupted perceptions, is almost the
same disposition of mind with that in which we consider one constant
and uninterrupted perception. 'Tis therefore very natural for us to
mistake the one for the other.[6]

The persons who entertain this opinion concerning the identity of
our resembling perceptions, are in general all the unthinking and
unphilosophical part of mankind, (that is, all of us at one time or
other), and, consequently, such as suppose their perceptions to be
their only objects, and never think of a double existence internal and
external, representing and represented. The very image which is present
to the senses is with us the real body; and 'tis to these interrupted
images we ascribe a perfect identity. But as the interruption of the
appearance seems contrary to the identity, and naturally leads us to
regard these resembling perceptions as different from each other,
we here find ourselves at a loss how to reconcile such opposite
opinions. The smooth passage of the imagination along the ideas of the
resembling perceptions makes us ascribe to them a perfect identity. The
interrupted manner of their appearance makes us consider them as so
many resembling, but still distinct beings, which appear after certain
intervals. The perplexity arising from this contradiction produces
a propension to unite these broken appearances by the fiction of a
continued existence, which is the _third_ part of that hypothesis I
proposed to explain.

Nothing is more certain from experience than that any contradiction
either to the sentiments or passions gives a sensible uneasiness,
whether it proceeds from without or from within; from the opposition
of external objects, or from the combat of internal principles. On
the contrary, whatever strikes in with the natural propensities, and
either externally forwards their satisfaction, or internally concurs
with their movements, is sure to give a sensible pleasure. Now, there
being here an opposition betwixt the notion of the identity of
resembling perceptions, and the interruption of their appearance, the
mind must be uneasy in that situation, and will naturally seek relief
from the uneasiness. Since the uneasiness arises from the opposition
of two contrary principles, it must look for relief by sacrificing
the one to the other. But as the smooth passage of our thought along
our resembling perceptions makes us ascribe to them an identity,
we can never, without reluctance, yield up that opinion. We must
therefore turn to the other side, and suppose that our perceptions
are no longer interrupted, but preserve a continued as well as an
invariable existence, and are by that means entirely the same. But
here the interruptions in the appearance of these perceptions are so
long and frequent, that 'tis impossible to overlook them; and as the
_appearance_ of a perception in the mind and its _existence_ seem
at first sight entirely the same, it may be doubted whether we can
ever assent to so palpable a contradiction, and suppose a perception
to exist without being present to the mind. In order to clear up
this matter, and learn how the interruption in the appearance of a
perception implies not necessarily an interruption in its existence,
'twill be proper to touch upon some principles which we shall have
occasion to explain more fully afterwards.[7]

We may begin with observing, that the difficulty in the present case
is not concerning the matter of fact, or whether the mind forms such
a conclusion concerning the continued existence of its perceptions,
but only concerning the manner in which the conclusion is formed, and
principles from which it is derived. 'Tis certain that almost all
mankind, and even philosophers themselves, for the greatest part of
their lives, take their perceptions to be their only objects, and
suppose that the very being which is intimately present to the mind,
is the real body or material existence. 'Tis also certain that this
very perception or object is supposed to have a continued uninterrupted
being, and neither to be annihilated by our absence, nor to be brought
into existence by our presence. When we are absent from it, we say it
still exists, but that we do not feel, we do not see it. When we are
present, we say we feel or see it. Here then may arise two questions;
_first_, how we can satisfy ourselves in supposing a perception to be
absent from the mind without being annihilated. _Secondly_, after what
manner we conceive an object to become present to the mind, without
some new creation of a perception or image; and what we mean by this
_seeing_, and _feeling_, and _perceiving_.

As to the first question, we may observe, that what we call a _mind_,
is nothing but a heap or collection of different perceptions, united
together by certain relations, and supposed, though falsely, to
be endowed with a perfect simplicity and identity. Now, as every
perception is distinguishable from another, and may be considered as
separately existent; it evidently follows, that there is no absurdity
in separating any particular perception from the mind; that is, in
breaking off all its relations with that connected mass of perceptions
which constitute a thinking being.

The same reasoning affords us an answer to the second question. If the
name of _perception_ renders not this separation from a mind absurd
and contradictory, the name of _object_, standing for the same thing,
can never render their conjunction impossible. External objects are
seen and felt, and become present to the mind; that is, they acquire
such a relation to a connected heap of perceptions as to influence them
very considerably in augmenting their number by present reflections
and passions, and in storing the memory with ideas. The same continued
and uninterrupted being may, therefore, be sometimes present to the
mind and sometimes absent from it without any real or essential change
in the being itself. An interrupted appearance to the senses implies
not necessarily an interruption in the existence. The supposition of
the continued existence of sensible objects or perceptions involves
no contradiction. We may easily indulge our inclination to that
supposition. When the exact resemblance of our perceptions makes us
ascribe to them an identity, we may remove the seeming interruption
by feigning a continued being, which may fill those intervals, and
preserve a perfect and entire identity to our perceptions.

But as we here not only _feign_ but _believe_ this continued existence,
the question is, _from whence arises such a belief_? and this question
leads us to the _fourth_ member of this system. It has been proved
already, that belief, in general, consists in nothing but the vivacity
of an idea; and that an idea may acquire this vivacity by its relation
to some present impression. Impressions are naturally the most vivid
perceptions of the mind; and this quality is in part conveyed by the
relation to every connected idea. The relation causes a smooth passage
from the impression to the idea, and even gives a propensity to that
passage. The mind falls so easily from the one perception to the other,
that it scarce perceives the change, but retains in the second a
considerable share of the vivacity of the first. It is excited by the
lively impression, and this vivacity is conveyed to the related idea,
without any great diminution in the passage, by reason of the smooth
transition and the propensity of the imagination.

But suppose that this propensity arises from some other principle,
besides that of relation; 'tis evident, it must still have the same
effect, and convey the vivacity from the impression to the idea. Now,
this is exactly the present case. Our memory presents us with a vast
number of instances of perceptions perfectly resembling each other,
that return at different distances of time, and after considerable
interruptions. This resemblance gives us a propension to consider these
interrupted perceptions as the same; and also a propension to connect
them by a continued existence, in order to justify this identity, and
avoid the contradiction in which the interrupted appearance of these
perceptions seems necessarily to involve us. Here then we have a
propensity to feign the continued existence of all sensible objects;
and as this propensity arises from some lively impressions of the
memory, it bestows a vivacity on that fiction; or, in other words,
makes us believe the continued existence of body. If, sometimes we
ascribe a continued existence to objects, which are perfectly new to
us, and of whose constancy and coherence we have no experience, 'tis
because the manner, in which they present themselves to our senses,
resembles that of constant and coherent objects; and this resemblance
is a source of reasoning and analogy, and leads us to attribute the
same qualities to the similar objects.

I believe an intelligent reader will find less difficulty to assent
to this system, than to comprehend it fully and distinctly, and will
allow, after a little reflection, that every part carries its own proof
along with it. 'Tis indeed evident, that as the vulgar _suppose_ their
perceptions to be their only objects, and at the same time _believe_
the continued existence of matter, we must account for the origin of
the belief upon that supposition. Now, upon that supposition, 'tis a
false opinion that any of our objects, or perceptions, are identically
the same after an interruption; and consequently the opinion of
their identity can never arise from reason, but must arise from the
imagination. The imagination is seduced into such an opinion only by
means of the resemblance of certain perceptions; since we find they are
only our resembling perceptions, which we have a propension to suppose
the same. This propension to bestow an identity on our resembling
perceptions, produces the fiction of a continued existence; since that
fiction, as well as the identity, is really false, as is acknowledged
by all philosophers, and has no other effect than to remedy the
interruption of our perceptions, which is the only circumstance that
is contrary to their identity. In the last place, this propension
causes belief by means of the present impressions of the memory; since,
without the remembrance of former sensations, 'tis plain we never
should have any belief of the continued existence of body. Thus, in
examining all these parts, we find that each of them is supported by
the strongest proofs; and that all of them together form a consistent
system, which is perfectly convincing. A strong propensity or
inclination alone, without any present impression, will sometimes cause
a belief or opinion. How much more when aided by that circumstance!

But though we are led after this manner, by the natural propensity of
the imagination, to ascribe a continued existence to those sensible
objects or perceptions, which we find to resemble each other in their
interrupted appearance; yet a very little reflection and philosophy
is sufficient to make us perceive the fallacy of that opinion. I have
already observed, that there is an intimate connexion betwixt those
two principles, of a _continued_ and of a _distinct_ or _independent_
existence, and that we no sooner establish the one than the other
follows, as a necessary consequence. 'Tis the opinion of a continued
existence, which first takes place, and without much study or
reflection draws the other along with it, wherever the mind follows
its first and most natural tendency. But when we compare experiments,
and reason a little upon them, we quickly perceive, that the doctrine
of the independent existence of our sensible perceptions is contrary
to the plainest experience. This leads us backward upon our footsteps
to perceive our error in attributing a continued existence to our
perceptions, and is the origin of many very curious opinions, which we
shall here endeavour to account for.

'Twill first be proper to observe a few of those experiments, which
convince us, that our perceptions are not possessed of any independent
existence. When we press one eye with a finger, we immediately perceive
all the objects to become double, and one half of them to be removed
from their common and natural position. But as we do not attribute a
continued existence to both these perceptions, and as they are both
of the same nature, we clearly perceive, that all our perceptions
are dependent on our organs, and the disposition of our nerves and
animal spirits. This opinion is confirmed by the seeming increase and
diminution of objects according to their distance; by the apparent
alterations in their figure; by the changes in their colour and
other qualities, from our sickness and distempers, and by an infinite
number of other experiments of the same kind; from all which we learn,
that our sensible perceptions are not possessed of any distinct or
independent existence.

The natural consequence of this reasoning should be, that our
perceptions have no more a continued than an independent existence;
and, indeed, philosophers have so far run into this opinion, that they
change their system, and distinguish (as we shall do for the future)
betwixt perceptions and objects, of which the former are supposed to be
interrupted and perishing, and different at every different return; the
latter to be uninterrupted, and to preserve a continued existence and
identity. But however philosophical this new system may be esteemed,
I assert that 'tis only a palliative remedy, and that it contains
all the difficulties of the vulgar system, with some others that are
peculiar to itself. There are no principles either of the understanding
or fancy, which lead us directly to embrace this opinion of the double
existence of perceptions and objects, nor can we arrive at it but by
passing through the common hypothesis of the identity and continuance
of our interrupted perceptions. Were we not first persuaded that our
perceptions are our only objects, and continue to exist even when they
no longer make their appearance to the senses, we should never be led
to think that our perceptions and objects are different, and that our
objects alone preserve a continued existence. "The latter hypothesis
has no primary recommendation either to reason or the imagination, but
acquires all its influence on the imagination from the former." This
proposition contains two parts, which we shall endeavour to prove as
distinctly and clearly as such abstruse subjects will permit.

As to the first part of the proposition, _that this philosophical
hypothesis has no primary recommendation, either to reason or the
imagination_, we may soon satisfy ourselves with regard to _reason_,
by the following reflections. The only existences, of which we are
certain, are perceptions, which, being immediately present to us
by consciousness, command our strongest assent, and are the first
foundation of all our conclusions. The only conclusion we can draw
from the existence of one thing to that of another, is by means of the
relation of cause and effect, which shows, that there is a connexion
betwixt them, and that the existence of one is dependent on that of
the other. The idea of this relation is derived from past experience,
by which we find, that two beings are constantly conjoined together,
and are always present at once to the mind. But as no beings are ever
present to the mind but perceptions, it follows, that we may observe
a conjunction or a relation of cause and effect between different
perceptions, but can never observe it between perceptions and objects.
'Tis impossible, therefore, that from the existence or any of the
qualities of the former, we can ever form any conclusion concerning the
existence of the latter, or ever satisfy our reason in this particular.

'Tis no less certain, that this philosophical system has no primary
recommendation to the _imagination_, and that that faculty would never,
of itself, and by its original tendency, have fallen upon such a
principle. I confess it will be somewhat difficult to prove this to the
full satisfaction of the reader; because it implies a negative, which
in many cases will not admit of any positive proof. If any one would
take the pains to examine this question, and would invent a system, to
account for the direct origin of this opinion from the imagination,
we should be able, by the examination of that system, to pronounce a
certain judgment in the present subject. Let it be taken for granted,
that our perceptions are broken and interrupted, and, however like,
are still different from each other; and let any one, upon this
supposition, show why the fancy, directly and immediately, proceeds
to the belief of another existence, resembling these perceptions in
their nature, but yet continued, and uninterrupted, and identical; and
after he has done this to my satisfaction, I promise to renounce my
present opinion. Meanwhile I cannot forbear concluding, from the very
abstractedness and difficulty of the first supposition, that 'tis an
improper subject for the fancy to work upon. Whoever would explain the
origin of the _common_ opinion concerning the continued and distinct
existence of body, must take the mind in its _common_ situation, and
must proceed upon the supposition, that our perceptions are our only
objects, and continue to exist even when they are not perceived. Though
this opinion be false, 'tis the most natural of any, and has alone any
primary recommendation to the fancy.

As to the second part of the proposition, _that the philosophical
system acquires all its influence on the imagination from the
vulgar one_; we may observe, that this is a natural and unavoidable
consequence of the foregoing conclusion, _that it has no primary
recommendation to reason or the imagination_. For as the philosophical
system is found by experience to take hold of many minds, and, in
particular, of all those who reflect ever so little on this subject, it
must derive all its authority from the vulgar system, since it has no
original authority of its own. The manner in which these two systems,
though directly contrary, are connected together, may be explained as

The imagination naturally runs on in this train of thinking. Our
perceptions are our only objects: resembling perceptions are the
same, however broken or uninterrupted in their appearance: this
appearing interruption is contrary to the identity: the interruption
consequently extends not beyond the appearance, and the perception
or object really continues to exist, even when absent from us: our
sensible perceptions have, therefore, a continued and uninterrupted
existence. But as a little reflection destroys this conclusion, that
our perceptions have a continued existence, by showing that they have a
dependent one, 'twould naturally be expected, that we must altogether
reject the opinion, that there is such a thing in nature as a continued
existence, which is preserved even when it no longer appears to the
senses. The case, however, is otherwise. Philosophers are so far from
rejecting the opinion of a continued existence upon rejecting that of
the independence and continuance of our sensible perceptions, that
though all sects agree in the latter sentiment, the former, which is
in a manner its necessary consequence, has been peculiar to a few
extravagant sceptics; who, after all, maintained that opinion in words
only, and were never able to bring themselves sincerely to believe it.

There is a great difference betwixt such opinions as we form after
a calm and profound reflection, and such as we embrace by a kind of
instinct or natural impulse, on account of their suitableness and
conformity to the mind. If these opinions become contrary, 'tis not
difficult to foresee which of them will have the advantage. As long as
our attention is bent upon the subject, the philosophical and studied
principle may prevail; but the moment we relax our thoughts, nature
will display herself, and draw us back to our former opinion. Nay she
has sometimes such an influence, that she can stop our progress, even
in the midst of our most profound reflections, and keep us from running
on with all the consequences of any philosophical opinion. Thus, though
we clearly perceive the dependence and interruption of our perceptions,
we stop short in our career, and never upon that account reject the
notion of an independent and continued existence. That opinion has
taken such deep root in the imagination, that 'tis impossible ever to
eradicate it, nor will any strained metaphysical conviction of the
dependence of our perceptions be sufficient for that purpose.

But though our natural and obvious principles here prevail above our
studied reflections, 'tis certain there must be some struggle and
opposition in the case; at least so long as these reflections retain
any force or vivacity. In order to set ourselves at ease in this
particular, we contrive a new hypothesis, which seems to comprehend
both these principles of reason and imagination. This hypothesis is the
philosophical one of the double existence of perceptions and objects;
which pleases our reason, in allowing that our dependent perceptions
are interrupted and different, and at the same time is agreeable to
the imagination, in attributing a continued existence to something
else, which we call _objects_. This philosophical system, therefore,
is the monstrous offspring of two principles, which are contrary to
each other, which are both at once embraced by the mind, and which
are unable mutually to destroy each other. The imagination tells us,
that our resembling perceptions have a continued and uninterrupted
existence, and are not annihilated by their absence. Reflection tells
us, that even our resembling perceptions are interrupted in their
existence, and different from each other. The contradiction betwixt
these opinions we elude by a new fiction, which is conformable to the
hypotheses both of reflection and fancy, by ascribing these contrary
qualities to different existences; the _interruption_ to perceptions,
and the _continuance_ to objects. Nature is obstinate, and will not
quit the field, however strongly attacked by reason; and at the same
time reason is so clear in the point, that there is no possibility
of disguising her. Not being able to reconcile these two enemies, we
endeavour to set ourselves at ease as much as possible, by successively
granting to each whatever it demands, and by feigning a double
existence, where each may find something that has all the conditions it
desires. Were we fully convinced that our resembling perceptions are
continued, and identical, and independent, we should never run into
this opinion of a double existence; since we should find satisfaction
in our first supposition, and would not look beyond. Again, were we
fully convinced that our perceptions are dependent, and interrupted,
and different, we should be as little inclined to embrace the opinion
of a double existence; since in that case we should clearly perceive
the error of our first supposition of a continued existence, and would
never regard it any farther. 'Tis therefore from the intermediate
situation of the mind that this opinion arises, and from such an
adherence to these two contrary principles, as makes us seek some
pretext to justify our receiving both; which happily at last is found
in the system of a double existence.

Another advantage of this philosophical system is its similarity to
the vulgar one, by which means we can humour our reason for a moment,
when it becomes troublesome and solicitous; and yet upon its least
negligence or inattention, can easily return to our vulgar and natural
notions. Accordingly we find, that philosophers neglect not this
advantage, but, immediately upon leaving their closets, mingle with the
rest of mankind in those exploded opinions, that our perceptions are
our only objects, and continue identically and uninterruptedly the same
in all their interrupted appearances.

There are other particulars of this system, wherein we may remark its
dependence on the fancy, in a very conspicuous manner. Of these, I
shall observe the two following. _First_, we suppose external objects
to resemble internal perceptions. I have already shown, that the
relation of cause and effect can never afford us any just conclusion
from the existence or qualities of our perceptions to the existence of
external continued objects: and I shall farther add, that even though
they could afford such a conclusion, we should never have any reason
to infer that our objects resemble our perceptions. That opinion,
therefore, is derived from nothing but the quality of the fancy
above explained, _that it borrows all its ideas from some precedent
perception_. We never can conceive any thing but perceptions, and
therefore must make every thing resemble them.

Secondly, as we suppose our objects in general to resemble our
perceptions, so we take it for granted, that every particular object
resembles that perception which it causes. The relation of cause and
effect determines us to join the other of resemblance; and the ideas
of these existences being already united together in the fancy by the
former relation, we naturally add the latter to complete the union.
We have a strong propensity to complete every union by joining new
relations to those which we have before observed betwixt any ideas, as
we shall have occasion to observe presently.[8]

Having thus given an account of all the systems, both popular and
philosophical, with regard to external existences, I cannot forbear
giving vent to a certain sentiment which arises upon reviewing those
systems. I begun this subject with premising, that we ought to have an
implicit faith in our senses, and that this would be the conclusion I
should draw from the whole of my reasoning. But to be ingenuous, I feel
myself _at present_ of a quite contrary sentiment, and am more inclined
to repose no faith at all in my senses, or rather imagination, than to
place in it such an implicit confidence. I cannot conceive how such
trivial qualities of the fancy, conducted by such false suppositions,
can ever lead to any solid and rational system. They are the coherence
and constancy of our perceptions, which produce the opinion of their
continued existence; though these qualities of perceptions have no
perceivable connexion with such an existence. The constancy of our
perceptions has the most considerable effect, and yet is attended with
the greatest difficulties. 'Tis a gross illusion to suppose, that
our resembling perceptions are numerically the same; and 'tis this
illusion which leads us into the opinion, that these perceptions are
uninterrupted, and are still existent, even when they are not present
to the senses. This is the case with our popular system. And as to
our philosophical one, 'tis liable to the same difficulties; and is,
over and above, loaded with this absurdity, that it at once denies and
establishes the vulgar supposition. Philosophers deny our resembling
perceptions to be identically the same, and uninterrupted; and yet
have so great a propensity to believe them such, that they arbitrarily
invent a new set of perceptions, to which they attribute these
qualities. I say, a new set of perceptions: for we may well suppose in
general, but 'tis impossible for us distinctly to conceive, objects to
be in their nature any thing but exactly the same with perceptions.
What then can we look for from this confusion of groundless and
extraordinary opinions but error and falsehood? And how can we justify
to ourselves any belief we repose in them?

This sceptical doubt, both with respect to reason and the senses, is
a malady which can never be radically cured, but must return upon us
every moment, however we may chase it away, and sometimes may seem
entirely free from it. 'Tis impossible, upon any system, to defend
either our understanding or senses; and we but expose them farther
when we endeavour to justify them in that manner. As the sceptical
doubt arises naturally from a profound and intense reflection on those
subjects, it always increases the farther we carry our reflections,
whether in opposition or conformity to it. Carelessness and inattention
alone can afford us any remedy. For this reason I rely entirely upon
them; and take it for granted, whatever may be the reader's opinion at
this present moment, that an hour hence he will be persuaded there is
both an external and internal world; and, going upon that supposition,
I intend to examine some general systems, both ancient and modern,
which have been proposed of both, before I proceed to a more particular
inquiry concerning our impressions. This will not, perhaps, in the end,
be found foreign to our present purpose.

[1] Part II. Sect. 6.

[2] Sect. 5.

[3] Part II. Sect. 4.

[4] Part II. Sect. 5.

[5] Part. II. Sect. 5.

[6] This reasoning, it must be confessed, is somewhat abstruse, and
difficult to be comprehended; but it is remarkable, that this very
difficulty may be converted into a proof of the reasoning. We may
observe, that there are two relations, and both of them resemblances,
which contribute to our mistaking the succession of our interrupted
perceptions for an identical object. The first is, the resemblance of
the perceptions: the second is, the resemblance which the act of the
mind in surveying a succession of resembling objects, bears to that in
surveying an identical object. Now these resemblances we are apt to
confound with each other; and 'tis natural we should, according to this
very reasoning. But let us keep them distinct, and we shall find no
difficulty in conceiving the precedent argument.

[7] Sect. 6.

[8] Sect. 5.



Several moralists have recommended it as an excellent method of
becoming acquainted with our own hearts, and knowing our progress in
virtue, to recollect our dreams in a morning, and examine them with the
same rigour that we would our most serious and most deliberate actions.
Our character is the same throughout, say they, and appears best
where artifice, fear and policy, have no place, and men can neither
be hypocrites with themselves nor others. The generosity or baseness
of our temper, our meekness or cruelty, our courage or pusillanimity,
influence the fictions of the imagination with the most unbounded
liberty, and discover themselves in the most glaring colours. In like
manner, I am persuaded, there might be several useful discoveries made
from a criticism of the fictions of the ancient philosophy concerning
_substances, and substantial forms, and accidents, and occult
qualities_, which, however unreasonable and capricious, have a very
intimate connexion with the principles of human nature.

'Tis confessed by the most judicious philosophers, that our ideas of
bodies are nothing but collections formed by the mind of the ideas of
the several distinct sensible qualities, of which objects are composed,
and which we find to have a constant union with each other. But however
these qualities may in themselves be entirely distinct, 'tis certain
we commonly regard the compound, which they form, as _one_ thing,
and as continuing the _same_ under very considerable alterations.
The acknowledged composition is evidently contrary to this supposed
_simplicity_, and the variation to the _identity_. It may therefore be
worth while to consider the _causes_, which make us almost universally
fall into such evident contradictions, as well as the _means_ by which
we endeavour to conceal them.

'Tis evident, that as the ideas of the several distinct _successive_
qualities of objects are united together by a very close relation, the
mind, in looking along the succession, must be carried from one part
of it to another by an easy transition, and will no more perceive the
change, than if it contemplated the same unchangeable object. This easy
transition is the effect, or rather essence of relation; and as the
imagination readily takes one idea for another, where their influence
on the mind is similar; hence it proceeds, that any such succession
of related qualities is readily considered as one continued object,
existing without any variation. The smooth and uninterrupted progress
of the thought, being alike in both cases, readily deceives the mind,
and makes us ascribe an identity to the changeable succession of
connected qualities.

But when we alter our method of considering the succession, and,
instead of tracing it gradually through the successive points of time,
survey at once any two distinct periods of its duration, and compare
the different conditions of the successive qualities; in that case
the variations, which were insensible when they arose gradually, do
now appear of consequence, and seem entirely to destroy the identity.
By this means there arises a kind of contrariety in our method of
thinking, from the different points of view, in which we survey the
object, and from the nearness or remoteness of those instants of time,
which we compare together. When we gradually follow an object in its
successive changes, the smooth progress of the thought makes us ascribe
an identity to the succession; because 'tis by a similar act of the
mind we consider an unchangeable object. When we compare its situation
after a considerable change the progress of the thought is broke; and
consequently we are presented with the idea of diversity; in order
to reconcile which contradictions the imagination is apt to feign
something unknown and invisible, which it supposes to continue the same
under all these variations; and this unintelligible something it calls
a _substance, or original and first matter_.

We entertain a like notion with regard to the _simplicity_ of
substances, and from like causes. Suppose an object perfectly simple
and indivisible to be presented, along with another object, whose
_co-existent_ parts are connected together by a strong relation, 'tis
evident the actions of the mind, in considering these two objects, are
not very different. The imagination conceives the simple object at
once, with facility, by a single effort of thought, without change or
variation. The connexion of parts in the compound object has almost the
same effect, and so unites the object within itself, that the fancy
feels not the transition in passing from one part to another. Hence the
colour, taste, figure, solidity, and other qualities, combined in a
peach or melon, are conceived to form _one thing_; and that on account
of their close relation, which makes them affect the thought in the
same manner, as if perfectly uncompounded. But the mind rests not here.
Whenever it views the object in another light, it finds that all these
qualities are different, and distinguishable, and separable from each
other; which view of things being destructive of its primary and more
natural notions, obliges the imagination to feign an unknown something,
or _original_ substance and matter, as a principle of union or cohesion
among these qualities, and as what may give the compound object a title
to be called one thing, notwithstanding its diversity and composition.

The Peripatetic philosophy asserts the _original_ matter to be
perfectly homogeneous in all bodies, and considers fire, water, earth,
and air, as of the very same substance, on account of their gradual
revolutions and changes into each other. At the same time it assigns to
each of these species of objects a distinct _substantial form_, which
it supposes to be the source of all those different qualities they
possess, and to be a new foundation of simplicity and identity to each
particular species. All depends on our manner of viewing the objects.
When we look along the insensible changes of bodies, we suppose all of
them to be of the same substance or essence. When we consider their
sensible differences, we attribute to each of them a substantial and
essential difference. And in order to indulge ourselves in both these
ways of considering our objects, we suppose all bodies to have at once
a substance and a substantial form.

The notion of _accidents_ is an unavoidable consequence of this method
of thinking with regard to substances and substantial forms; nor can
we forbear looking upon colours, sounds, tastes, figures, and other
properties of bodies, as existences, which cannot subsist apart,
but require a subject of inhesion to sustain and support them. For
having never discovered any of these sensible qualities, where, for
the reasons above mentioned, we did not likewise fancy a substance
to exist; the same habit, which makes us infer a connexion betwixt
cause and effect, makes us here infer a dependence of every quality on
the unknown substance. The custom of imagining a dependence has the
same effect as the custom of observing it would have. This conceit,
however, is no more reasonable than any of the foregoing. Every quality
being a distinct thing from another, may be conceived to exist apart,
and may exist apart not only from every other quality, but from that
unintelligible chimera of a substance.

But these philosophers carry their fictions still farther in their
sentiments concerning _occult qualities_, and both suppose a substance
supporting, which they do not understand, and an accident supported,
of which they have as imperfect an idea. The whole system, therefore,
is entirely incomprehensible, and yet is derived from principles as
natural as any of these above explained.

In considering this subject, we may observe a gradation of three
opinions that rise above each other, according as the persons who
form them acquire new degrees of reason and knowledge. These opinions
are that of the vulgar, that of a false philosophy, and that of the
true; where we shall find upon inquiry, that the true philosophy
approaches nearer to the sentiments of the vulgar than to those of a
mistaken knowledge. 'Tis natural for men, in their common and careless
way of thinking, to imagine they perceive a connexion betwixt such
objects as they have constantly found united together; and because
custom has rendered it difficult to separate the ideas, they are apt
to fancy such a separation to be in itself impossible and absurd. But
philosophers, who abstract from the effects of custom, and compare
the ideas of objects, immediately perceive the falsehood of these
vulgar sentiments, and discover that there is no known connexion among
objects. Every different object appears to them entirely distinct and
separate; and they perceive that 'tis not from a view of the nature
and qualities of objects we infer one from another, but only when in
several instances we observe them to have been constantly conjoined.
But these philosophers, instead of drawing a just inference from this
observation, and concluding, that we have no idea of power or agency,
separate from the mind and belonging to causes; I say, instead of
drawing this conclusion, they frequently search for the qualities
in which this agency consists, and are displeased with every system
which their reason suggests to them, in order to explain it. They
have sufficient force of genius to free them from the vulgar error,
that there is a natural and perceivable connexion betwixt the several
sensible qualities and actions of matter, but not sufficient to keep
them from ever seeking for this connexion in matter or causes. Had
they fallen upon the just conclusion, they would have returned back
to the situation of the vulgar, and would have regarded all these
disquisitions with indolence and indifference. At present they seem to
be in a very lamentable condition, and such as the poets have given
us but a faint notion of in their descriptions of the punishment of
Sisyphus and Tantalus. For what can be imagined more tormenting than
to seek with eagerness what for ever flies us, and seek for it in a
place where 'tis impossible it can ever exist?

But as Nature seems to have observed a kind of justice and compensation
in every thing, she has not neglected philosophers more than the rest
of the creation, but has reserved them a consolation amid all their
disappointments and afflictions. This consolation principally consists
in their invention of the words _faculty_ and _occult quality_. For
it being usual, after the frequent use of terms, which are really
significant and intelligible, to omit the idea which we would express
by them, and preserve only the custom by which we recal the idea at
pleasure; so it naturally happens, that after the frequent use of
terms which are wholly insignificant and unintelligible, we fancy them
to be on the same footing with the precedent, and to have a secret
meaning which we might discover by reflection. The resemblance of their
appearance deceives the mind, as is usual, and makes us imagine a
thorough resemblance and conformity. By this means these philosophers
set themselves at ease, and arrive at last, by an illusion, at the
same indifference which the people attain by their stupidity, and true
philosophers by their moderate scepticism. They need only say, that
any phenomenon which puzzles them arises from a faculty or an occult
quality, and there is an end of all dispute and inquiry upon the matter.

But among all the instances wherein the Peripatetics have shown they
were guided by every trivial propensity of the imagination, no one is
more remarkable than their _sympathies, antipathies, and horrors of
a vacuum_. There is a very remarkable inclination in human nature to
bestow on external objects the same emotions which it observes in
itself, and to find every where those ideas which are most present to
it. This inclination, 'tis true, is suppressed by a little reflection,
and only takes place in children, poets, and the ancient philosophers.
It appears in children, by their desire of beating the stones which
hurt them: in poets by their readiness to personify every thing; and in
the ancient philosophers, by these fictions of sympathy and antipathy.
We must pardon children, because of their age; poets, because they
profess to follow implicitly the suggestions of their fancy; but
what excuse shall we find to justify our philosophers in so signal a



But here it may be objected, that the imagination, according to my own
confession, being the ultimate judge of all systems of philosophy, I
am unjust in blaming the ancient philosophers for making use of that
faculty, and allowing themselves to be entirely guided by it in their
reasonings. In order to justify myself, I must distinguish in the
imagination betwixt the principles which are permanent, irresistible,
and universal; such as the customary transition from causes to effects,
and from effects to causes: and the principles, which are changeable,
weak and irregular; such as those I have just now taken notice of. The
former are the foundation of all our thoughts and actions, so that
upon their removal, human nature must immediately perish and go to
ruin. The latter are neither unavoidable to mankind, nor necessary, or
so much as useful in the conduct of life; but, on the contrary, are
observed only to take place in weak minds, and being opposite to the
other principles of custom and reasoning, may easily be subverted by a
due contrast and opposition. For this reason, the former are received
by philosophy, and the latter rejected. One who concludes somebody to
be near him, when he hears an articulate voice in the dark, reasons
justly and naturally; though that conclusion be derived from nothing
but custom, which infixes and enlivens the idea of a human creature, on
account of his usual conjunction with the present impression. But one,
who is tormented he knows not why, with the apprehension of spectres
in the dark, may perhaps be said to reason, and to reason naturally
too: but then it must be in the same sense that a malady is said to
be natural; as arising from natural causes, though it be contrary to
health, the most agreeable and most natural situation of man.

The opinions of the ancient philosophers, their fictions of substance
and accident, and their reasonings concerning substantial forms and
occult qualities, are like the spectres in the dark, and are derived
from principles, which, however common, are neither universal nor
unavoidable in human nature. The _modern philosophy_ pretends to be
entirely free from this defect, and to arise only from the solid,
permanent, and consistent principles of the imagination. Upon what
grounds this pretension is founded, must now be the subject of our

The fundamental principle of that philosophy is the opinion concerning
colours, sounds, tastes, smells, heat and cold; which it asserts to
be nothing but impressions in the mind, derived from the operation
of external objects, and without any resemblance to the qualities of
the objects. Upon examination, I find only one of the reasons commonly
produced for this opinion to be satisfactory; viz. that derived from
the variations of those impressions, even while the external object,
to all appearance, continues the same. These variations depend upon
several circumstances. Upon the different situations of our health:
a man in a malady feels a disagreeable taste in meats, which before
pleased him the most. Upon the different complexions and constitutions
of men: that seems bitter to one, which is sweet to another. Upon the
difference of their external situation and position: colours reflected
from the clouds change according to the distance of the clouds, and
according to the angle they make with the eye and luminous body. Fire
also communicates the sensation of pleasure at one distance, and that
of pain at another. Instances of this kind are very numerous and

The conclusion drawn from them, is likewise as satisfactory as can
possibly be imagined. 'Tis certain, that when different impressions of
the same sense arise from any object, every one of these impressions
has not a resembling quality existent in the object. For as the same
object cannot, at the same time, be endowed with different qualities
of the same sense, and as the same quality cannot resemble impressions
entirely different; it evidently follows, that many of our impressions
have no external model or archetype. Now, from like effects we
presume like causes. Many of the impressions of colour, sound, &c.,
are confessed to be nothing but internal existences, and to arise
from causes, which no ways resemble them. These impressions are in
appearance nothing different from the other impressions of colour,
sound, &c. We conclude, therefore, that they are, all of them, derived
from a like origin.

This principle being once admitted, all the other doctrines of that
philosophy seem to follow by an easy consequence. For, upon the removal
of sounds, colours, heat, cold, and other sensible qualities, from the
rank of continued independent existences, we are reduced merely to
what are called primary qualities, as the only _real_ ones, of which
we have any adequate notion. These primary qualities are extension and
solidity, with their different mixtures and modifications; figure,
motion, gravity and cohesion. The generation, increase, decay and
corruption of animals and vegetables, are nothing but changes of figure
and motion; as also the operations of all bodies on each other; of
fire, of light, water, air, earth, and of all the elements and powers
of nature. One figure and motion produces another figure and motion;
nor does there remain in the material universe any other principle,
either active or passive, of which we can form the most distant idea.

I believe many objections might be made to this system; but at present
I shall confine myself to one, which is, in my opinion, very decisive.
I assert, that instead of explaining the operations of external objects
by its means, we utterly annihilate all these objects, and reduce
ourselves to the opinions of the most extravagant scepticism concerning
them. If colours, sounds, tastes and smells be merely perceptions,
nothing, we can conceive, is possessed of a real, continued, and
independent existence; not even motion, extension and solidity, which
are the primary qualities chiefly insisted on.

To begin with the examination of motion; 'tis evident this is a quality
altogether inconceivable alone, and without a reference to some other
object. The idea of motion necessarily supposes that of a body moving.
Now, what is our idea of the moving body, without which motion is
incomprehensible? It must resolve itself into the idea of extension or
of solidity; and consequently the reality of motion depends upon that
of these other qualities.

This opinion, which is universally acknowledged concerning motion, I
have proved to be true with regard to extension; and have shown that
'tis impossible to conceive extension but as composed of parts, endowed
with colour or solidity. The idea of extension is a compound idea; but
as it is not compounded of an infinite number of parts or inferior
ideas, it must at last resolve itself into such as are perfectly simple
and indivisible. These simple and indivisible parts not being ideas of
extension, must be nonentities, unless conceived as coloured or solid.
Colour is excluded from any real existence. The reality therefore of
our idea of extension depends upon the reality of that of solidity; nor
can the former be just while the latter is chimerical. Let us then lend
our attention to the examination of the idea of solidity.

The idea of solidity is that of two objects, which, being impelled
by the utmost force, cannot penetrate each other, but still maintain
a separate and distinct existence. Solidity therefore is perfectly
incomprehensible alone, and without the conception of some bodies which
are solid, and maintain this separate and distinct existence. Now,
what idea have we of these bodies? The ideas of colours, sounds, and
other secondary qualities, are excluded. The idea of motion depends on
that of extension, and the idea of extension on that of solidity. 'Tis
impossible, therefore, that the idea of solidity can depend on either
of them. For that would be to run in a circle, and make one idea depend
on another, while, at the same time, the latter depends on the former.
Our modern philosophy, therefore, leaves us no just nor satisfactory
idea of solidity, nor consequently of matter.

This argument will appear entirely conclusive to every one that
comprehends it; but because it may seem abstruse and intricate to
the generality of readers, I hope to be excused if I endeavour to
render it more obvious by some variation of the expression. In order
to form an idea of solidity, we must conceive two bodies pressing on
each other without any penetration; and 'tis impossible to arrive at
this idea, when we confine ourselves to one object, much more without
conceiving any. Two nonentities cannot exclude each other from their
places, because they never possess any place, nor can be endowed with
any quality. Now I ask, what idea do we form of these bodies or objects
to which we suppose solidity to belong? To say that we conceive them
merely as solid, is, to run on _in infinitum_. To affirm that we paint
them out to ourselves as extended, either resolves all into a false
idea, or returns in a circle. Extension must necessarily be considered
either as coloured, which is a false idea, or as solid, which brings us
back to the first question. We may make the same observation concerning
mobility and figure; and, upon the whole, must conclude, that after the
exclusion of colours, sounds, heat and cold, from the rank of external
existences, there remains nothing which can afford us a just and
consistent idea of body.

Add to this, that, properly speaking, solidity or impenetrability is
nothing but an impossibility of annihilation, as has been already
observed:[8] for which reason 'tis the more necessary for us to form
some distinct idea of that object whose annihilation we suppose
impossible. An impossibility of being annihilated cannot exist, and can
never be conceived to exist, by itself, but necessarily requires some
object or real existence to which it may belong. Now, the difficulty
still remains how to form an idea of this object or existence, without
having recourse to the secondary and sensible qualities.

Nor must we omit, on this occasion, our accustomed method of examining
ideas by considering those impressions from which they are derived.
The impressions which enter by the sight and hearing, the smell and
taste, are affirmed by modern philosophy to be without any resembling
objects; and consequently the idea of solidity, which is supposed to
be real, can never be derived from any of these senses. There remains,
therefore, the feeling as the only sense that can convey the impression
which is original to the idea of solidity; and, indeed, we naturally
imagine that we feel the solidity of bodies, and need but touch any
object in order to perceive this quality. But this method of thinking
is more popular than philosophical, as will appear from the following

First, 'tis easy to observe, that though bodies are felt by means
of their solidity, yet the feeling is a quite different thing from
the solidity, and that they have not the least resemblance to each
other. A man who has the palsy in one hand has as perfect an idea of
impenetrability, when he observes that hand to be supported by the
table, as when he feels the same table with the other hand. An object
that presses upon any of our members meets with resistance; and that,
resistance, by the motion it gives to the nerves and animal spirits,
conveys a certain sensation to the mind; but it does not follow that
the sensation, motion and resistance, are any ways resembling.

Secondly, the impressions of touch are simple impressions, except when
considered with regard to their extension; which makes nothing to the
present purpose: and from this simplicity I infer, that they neither
represent solidity, nor any real object. For let us put two cases, viz.
that of a man who presses a stone or any solid body with his hand, and
that of two stones which press each other; 'twill readily be allowed
that these two cases are not in every respect alike, but that in the
former there is conjoined with the solidity a feeling or sensation of
which there is no appearance in the latter. In order, therefore, to
make these two cases alike, 'tis necessary to remove some part of the
impression which the man feels by his hand, or organ of sensation; and
that being impossible in a simple impression, obliges us to remove the
whole, and proves that this whole impression has no archetype or model
in external objects; to which we may add, that solidity necessarily
supposes two bodies, along with contiguity and impulse; which being a
compound object, can never be represented by a simple impression. Not
to mention, that, though solidity continues always invariably the same,
the impressions of touch change every moment upon us, which is a clear
proof that the latter are not representations of the former.

Thus there is a direct and total opposition betwixt our reason and our
senses; or, more properly speaking, betwixt those conclusions we form
from cause and effect, and those that persuade us of the continued and
independent existence of body. When we reason from cause and effect, we
conclude, that neither colour, sound, taste nor smell, have a continued
and independent existence. When we exclude these sensible qualities,
there remains nothing in the universe which has such an existence.

[8] Part II. Sect. 4.



Having found such contradictions and difficulties in every system
concerning external objects, and in the idea of matter, which we fancy
so clear and determinate, we shall naturally expect still greater
difficulties and contradictions in every hypothesis concerning our
internal perceptions, and the nature of the mind, which we are apt
to imagine so much more obscure and uncertain. But in this we should
deceive ourselves. The intellectual world, though involved in infinite
obscurities, is not perplexed with any such contradictions as those we
have discovered in the natural. What is known concerning it, agrees
with itself; and what is unknown, we must be contented to leave so.

'Tis true, would we hearken to certain philosophers, they promise to
diminish our ignorance; but I am afraid 'tis at the hazard of running
us into contradictions, from which the subject is of itself exempted.
These philosophers are the curious reasoners concerning the material
or immaterial substances, in which they suppose our perceptions to
inhere. In order to put a stop to these endless cavils on both sides,
I know no better method, than to ask these philosophers in a few
words, _What they mean by substance and inhesion?_ And after they have
answered this question, 'twill then be reasonable, and not till then,
to enter seriously into the dispute.

This question we have found impossible to be answered with regard to
matter and body; but besides that in the case of the mind it labours
under all the same difficulties, 'tis burthened with some additional
ones, which are peculiar to that subject. As every idea is derived from
a precedent impression, had we any idea of the substance of our minds,
we must also have an impression of it, which is very difficult, if not
impossible, to be conceived. For how can an impression represent a
substance, otherwise than by resembling it? And how can an impression
resemble a substance, since, according to this philosophy, it is not a
substance, and has none of the peculiar qualities or characteristics of
a substance?

But leaving the question of _what may or may not be_, for that other
_what actually is_, I desire those philosophers, who pretend that we
have an idea of the substance of our minds, to point out the impression
that produces it, and tell distinctly after what manner that impression
operates, and from what object it is derived. Is it an impression of
sensation or reflection? Is it pleasant, or painful, or indifferent?
Does it attend us at all times, or does it only return at intervals?
If at intervals, at what times principally does it return, and by what
causes is it produced?

If, instead of answering these questions, any one should evade
the difficulty, by saying, that the definition of a substance is
_something which may exist by itself_, and that this definition ought
to satisfy us: should this be said, I should observe, that this
definition agrees to every thing that can possibly be conceived;
and never will serve to distinguish substance from accident, or the
soul from its perceptions. For thus I reason. Whatever is clearly
conceived, may exist; and whatever is clearly conceived, after any
manner, may exist after the same manner. This is one principle which
has been already acknowledged. Again, every thing which is different is
distinguishable, and every thing which is distinguishable is separable
by the imagination. This is another principle. My conclusion from both
is, that since all our perceptions are different from each other,
and from every thing else in the universe, they are also distinct
and separable, and may be considered as separately existent, and may
exist separately, and have no need of any thing else to support their
existence. They are therefore substances, as far as this definition
explains a substance.

Thus, neither by considering the first origin of ideas, nor by means
of a definition, are we able to arrive at any satisfactory notion
of substance, which seems to me a sufficient reason for abandoning
utterly that dispute concerning the materiality and immateriality of
the soul, and makes me absolutely condemn even the question itself. We
have no perfect idea of any thing but of a perception. A substance is
entirely different from a perception. We have therefore no idea of a
substance. Inhesion in something is supposed to be requisite to support
the existence of our perceptions. Nothing appears requisite to support
the existence of a perception. We have therefore no idea of inhesion.
What possibility then of answering that question, _Whether perceptions
inhere in a material or immaterial substance_, when we do not so much
as understand the meaning of the question?

There is one argument commonly employed for the immateriality of the
soul, which seems to me remarkable. Whatever is extended consists
of parts; and whatever consists of parts is divisible, if not in
reality, at least in the imagination. But 'tis impossible any thing
divisible can be _conjoined_ to a thought or perception, which is a
being altogether inseparable and indivisible. For, supposing such a
conjunction, would the indivisible thought exist on the left or on
the right hand of this extended divisible body? On the surface or in
the middle? On the back or fore-side of it? If it be conjoined with
the extension, it must exist somewhere within its dimensions. If it
exist within its dimensions, it must either exist in one particular
part; and then that particular part is indivisible, and the perception
is conjoined only with it, not with the extension: or if the thought
exists in every part, it must also be extended, and separable,
and divisible, as well as the body, which is utterly absurd and
contradictory. For can any one conceive a passion of a yard in length,
a foot in breadth, and an inch in thickness? Thought therefore and
extension are qualities wholly incompatible, and never can incorporate
together into one subject.

This argument affects not the question concerning the _substance_ of
the soul, but only that concerning its _local conjunction_ with matter;
and therefore it may not be improper to consider in general what
objects are, or are not susceptible of a local conjunction. This is a
curious question, and may lead us to some discoveries of considerable

The first notion of space and extension is derived solely from the
senses of sight and feeling; nor is there anything, but what is
coloured or tangible, that has parts disposed after such a manner
as to convey that idea. When we diminish or increase a relish, 'tis
not after the same manner that we diminish or increase any visible
object; and when several sounds strike our hearing at once, custom and
reflection alone make us form an idea of the degrees of the distance
and contiguity of those bodies from which they are derived. Whatever
marks the place of its existence, either must be extended, or must be a
mathematical point, without parts or composition. What is extended must
have a particular figure, as square, round, triangular; none of which
will agree to a desire, or indeed to any impression or idea, except
of these two senses above-mentioned. Neither ought a desire, though
indivisible, to be considered as a mathematical point. For in that case
'twould be possible, by the addition of others, to make two, three,
four desires; and these disposed and situated in such a manner, as to
have a determinate length, breadth, and thickness; which is evidently

'Twill not be surprising after this, if I deliver a maxim, which is
condemned by several metaphysicians, and is esteemed contrary to the
most certain principles of human reason. This maxim is, _that an object
may exist, and yet be no where_: and I assert, that this is not only
possible, but that the greatest part of beings do and must exist after
this manner. An object may be said to be no where, when its parts are
not so situated with respect to each other, as to form any figure or
quantity; nor the whole with respect to other bodies so as to answer
to our notions of contiguity or distance. Now, this is evidently the
case with all our perceptions and objects, except those of the sight
and feeling. A moral reflection cannot be placed on the right or on
the left hand of a passion; nor can a smell or sound be either of a
circular or a square figure.

These objects and perceptions, so far from requiring any particular
place, are absolutely incompatible with it, and even the imagination
cannot attribute it to them. And as to the absurdity of supposing them
to be no where, we may consider, that if the passions and sentiments
appear to the perception to have any particular place, the idea of
extension might be derived from them, as well as from the sight and
touch; contrary to what we have already established. If they _appear_
not to have any particular place, they may possibly _exist_ in the same
manner; since whatever we conceive is possible.

'Twill not now be necessary to prove, that those perceptions, which
are simple, and exist no where, are incapable of any conjunction in
place with matter or body, which is extended and divisible; since 'tis
impossible to found a relation but on some common quality.[9] It may
be better worth our while to remark, that this question of the local
conjunction of objects, does not only occur in metaphysical disputes
concerning the nature of the soul, but that even in common life we have
every moment occasion to examine it. Thus, supposing we consider a
fig at one end of the table, and an olive at the other, 'tis evident,
that, in forming the complex ideas of these substances, one of the most
obvious is that of their different relishes; and 'tis as evident, that
we incorporate and conjoin these qualities with such as are coloured
and tangible. The bitter taste of the one, and sweet of the other, are
supposed to lie in the very visible body, and to be separated from
each other by the whole length of the table. This is so notable and so
natural an illusion, that it may be proper to consider the principles
from which it is derived.

Though an extended object be incapable of a conjunction in place
with another that exists without any place or extension, yet are
they susceptible of many other relations. Thus the taste and smell
of any fruit are inseparable from its other qualities of colour and
tangibility; and whichever of them be the cause or effect, 'tis certain
they are always co-existent. Nor are they only co-existent in general,
but also cotemporary in their appearance in the mind; and 'tis upon
the application of the extended body to our senses we perceive its
particular taste and smell. These relations, then, of _causation, and
contiguity in the time of their appearance_, betwixt the extended
object and the quality, which exists without any particular place,
must have such an effect on the mind, that, upon the appearance of
one, it will immediately turn its thought to the conception of the
other. Nor is this all. We not only turn our thought from one to the
other upon account of their relation, but likewise endeavour to give
them a new relation, viz. that of _a conjunction in place_, that we
may render the transition more easy and natural. For 'tis a quality,
which I shall often have occasion to remark in human nature, and shall
explain more fully in its proper place, that, when objects are united
by any relation, we have a strong propensity to add some new relation
to them, in order to complete the union. In our arrangement of bodies,
we never fail to place such as are resembling in contiguity to each
other, or, at least, in correspondent points of view: why? but because
we feel a satisfaction in joining the relation of contiguity to that
of resemblance, or the resemblance of situation to that of qualities.
The effects of this propensity have been already observed[10] in that
resemblance, which we so readily suppose betwixt particular impressions
and their external causes. But we shall not find a more evident effect
of it than in the present instance, where, from the relations of
causation and contiguity in time betwixt two objects, we feign likewise
that of a conjunction in place, in order to strengthen the connexion.

But whatever confused notions we may form of an union in place betwixt
an extended body, as a fig, and its particular taste, 'tis certain
that, upon reflection, we must observe in this union something
altogether unintelligible and contradictory. For, should we ask
ourselves one obvious question, viz. if the taste, which we conceive to
be contained in the circumference of the body, is in every part of it,
or in one only, we must quickly find ourselves at a loss, and perceive
the impossibility of ever giving a satisfactory answer. We cannot reply
that 'tis only in one part: for experience convinces us that every part
has the same relish. We can as little reply that it exists in every
part: for then we must suppose it figured and extended; which is absurd
and incomprehensible. Here, then, we are influenced by two principles,
directly contrary to each other, viz. that _inclination_ of our fancy
by which we are determined to incorporate the taste with the extended
object, and our _reason_, which shows us the impossibility of such an
union. Being divided betwixt these opposite principles, we renounce
neither one nor the other, but involve the subject in such confusion
and obscurity, that we no longer perceive the opposition. We suppose
that the taste exists within the circumference of the body, but in
such a manner, that it fills the whole without extension, and exists
entire in every part without separation. In short, we use, in our most
familiar way of thinking, that scholastic principle which, when crudely
proposed, appears so shocking, of _totum in toto, et totum in qualibet
parte_; which is much the same as if we should say, that a thing is in
a certain place, and yet is not there.

All this absurdity proceeds from our endeavouring to bestow a place on
what is utterly incapable of it; and that endeavour again arises from
our inclination to complete an union which is founded on causation and
a contiguity of time, by attributing to the objects a conjunction in
place. But if ever reason be of sufficient force to overcome prejudice,
'tis certain that, in the present case, it must prevail. For we have
only this choice left, either to suppose that some beings exist without
any place, or that they are figured and extended; or that when they
are incorporated with extended objects, the whole is in the whole, and
the whole in every part. The absurdity of the two last suppositions
proves sufficiently the veracity of the first. Nor is there any fourth
opinion: For as to the supposition of their existence in the manner of
mathematical points, it resolves itself into the second opinion, and
supposes, that several passions may be placed in a circular figure,
and that a certain number of smells, conjoined with a certain number
of sounds, may make a body of twelve cubic inches; which appears
ridiculous upon the bare mentioning of it.

But though in this view of things we cannot refuse to condemn, the
materialists, who conjoin all thought with extension; yet a little
reflection will show us equal reason for blaming their antagonists,
who conjoin all thought with a simple and indivisible substance. The
most vulgar philosophy informs us, that no external object can make
itself known to the mind immediately, and without the interposition of
an image or perception. That table, which just now appears to me, is
only a perception, and all its qualities are qualities of a perception.
Now, the most obvious of all its qualities is extension. The perception
consists of parts. These parts are so situated as to afford us the
notion of distance and contiguity, of length, breadth and thickness.
The termination of these three dimensions is what we call figure. This
figure is moveable, separable, and divisible. Mobility and separability
are the distinguishing properties of extended objects. And to cut short
all disputes, the very idea of extension is copied from nothing but an
impression, and consequently must perfectly agree to it. To say the
idea of extension agrees to any thing, is to say it is extended.

The freethinker may now triumph in his turn; and having found there are
impressions and ideas really extended, may ask his antagonists, how
they can incorporate a simple and indivisible subject with an extended
perception? All the arguments of theologians may here be retorted
upon them. Is the indivisible subject or immaterial substance, if you
will, on the left or on the right hand of the perception? Is it in
this particular part, or in that other? Is it in every part without
being extended? Or is it entire in any one part without deserting the
rest? 'Tis impossible to give any answer to these questions but what
will both be absurd in itself, and will account for the union of our
indivisible perceptions with an extended substance.

This gives me an occasion to take anew into consideration the question
concerning the substance of the soul; and though I have condemned that
question as utterly unintelligible, yet I cannot forbear proposing some
farther reflections concerning it. I assert, that the doctrine of the
immateriality, simplicity, and indivisibility of a thinking substance
is a true atheism, and will serve to justify all those sentiments for
which Spinoza is so universally infamous. From this topic I hope at
least to reap one advantage, that my adversaries will not have any
pretext to render the present doctrine odious by their declamations
when they see that they can be so easily retorted on them.

The fundamental principle of the atheism of Spinoza is the doctrine
of the simplicity of the universe, and the unity of that substance
in which he supposes both thought and matter to inhere. There is
only one substance, says he, in the world, and that substance is
perfectly simple and indivisible, and exists every where without
any local presence. Whatever we discover externally by sensation,
whatever we feel internally by reflection, all these are nothing but
modifications of that one simple and necessarily existent being, and
are not possessed of any separate or distinct existence. Every passion
of the soul, every configuration of matter however different and
various, inhere in the same substance, and preserve in themselves their
characters of distinction, without communicating them to that subject
in which they inhere. The same _substratum_, if I may so speak,
supports the most different modifications without any difference in
itself, and varies them without any variation. Neither time, nor place,
nor all the diversity of nature are able to produce any composition or
change in its perfect simplicity and identity.

I believe this brief exposition of the principles of that famous
atheist will be sufficient for the present purpose, and that without
entering farther into these gloomy and obscure regions, I shall be able
to show, that this hideous hypothesis is almost the same with that of
the immateriality of the soul, which has become so popular. To make
this evident, let us remember,[11] that as every idea is derived from
a preceding perception, 'tis impossible our idea of a perception, and
that of an object or external existence, can ever represent what are
specifically different from each other. Whatever difference we may
suppose betwixt them, 'tis still incomprehensible to us; and we are
obliged, either to conceive an external object merely as a relation
without a relative, or to make it the very same with a perception or

The consequence I shall draw from this may, at first sight, appear a
mere sophism; but upon the least examination will be found solid and
satisfactory. I say then, that since we may suppose, but never can
conceive, a specific difference betwixt an object and impression,
any conclusion we form concerning the connexion and repugnance of
impressions, will not be known certainly to be applicable to objects;
but that, on the other hand, whatever conclusions of this kind we form
concerning objects, will most certainly be applicable to impressions.
The reason is not difficult. As an object is supposed to be different
from an impression, we cannot be sure, that the circumstance, upon
which we found our reasoning, is common to both, supposing we form the
reasoning upon the impression. 'Tis still possible, that the object may
differ from it in that particular. But when we first form our reasoning
concerning the object, 'tis beyond doubt, that the same reasoning
must extend to the impression: and that because the quality of the
object, upon which the argument is founded, must at least be conceived
by the mind, and could not be conceived, unless it were common to an
impression; since we have no idea but what is derived from that origin.
Thus we may establish it as a certain maxim, that we can never, by any
principle, but by an irregular kind of reasoning from experience,[12]
discover a connexion or repugnance betwixt objects, which extends not
to impressions; though the inverse proposition may not be equally
true, that all the discoverable relations of impressions are common to

To apply this to the present case; there are two different systems
of beings presented, to which I suppose myself under a necessity of
assigning some substance, or ground of inhesion. I observe first the
universe of objects or of body: the sun, moon, and stars; the earth,
seas, plants, animals, men, ships, houses, and other productions either
of art or nature. Here Spinoza appears, and tells me, that these
are only modifications and that the subject in which they inhere is
simple, uncompounded, and indivisible. After this I consider the other
system of beings, viz. the universe of thought, or my impressions and
ideas. There I observe another sun, moon, and stars; an earth, and
seas, covered and inhabited by plants and animals; towns, houses,
mountains, rivers; and in short every thing I can discover or conceive
in the first system. Upon my inquiring concerning these, theologians
present themselves, and tell me, that these also are modifications, and
modifications of one simple, uncompounded, and indivisible substance.
Immediately upon which I am deafened with the noise of a hundred
voices, that treat the first hypothesis with detestation and scorn, and
the second with applause and veneration. I turn my attention to these
hypotheses to see what may be the reason of so great a partiality;
and find that they have the same fault of being unintelligible, and
that, as far as we can understand them, they are so much alike, that
'tis impossible to discover any absurdity in one, which is not common
to both of them. We have no idea of any quality in an object, which
does not agree to, and may not represent a quality in an impression;
and that because all our ideas are derived from our impressions. We
can never therefore find any repugnance betwixt an extended object as
a modification, and a simple uncompounded essence, as its substance;
unless that repugnance takes place equally betwixt the perception or
impression of that extended object, and the same uncompounded essence.
Every idea of a quality in an object passes through an impression;
and therefore every _perceivable_ relation, whether of connexion or
repugnance, must be common both to objects and impressions.

But though this argument, considered in general, seems evident beyond
all doubt and contradiction, yet to make it more clear and sensible,
let us survey it in detail; and see whether all the absurdities,
which have been found in the system of Spinoza, may not likewise be
discovered in that of theologians.[13]

First, it has been said against Spinoza, according to the scholastic
way of talking, rather than thinking, that a mode, not being any
distinct or separate existence, must be the very same with its
substance, and consequently the extension of the universe must be in
a manner identified with that simple, uncompounded essence in which
the universe is supposed to inhere. But this, it may be pretended, is
utterly impossible and inconceivable unless the indivisible substance
expand itself, so as to correspond to the extension, or the extension
contract itself, so as to answer to the indivisible substance. This
argument seems just, as far as we can understand it; and 'tis plain
nothing is required, but a change in the terms, to apply the same
argument to our extended perceptions, and the simple essence of the
soul; the ideas of objects and perceptions being in every respect the
same, only attended with the supposition of a difference, that is
unknown and incomprehensible.

Secondly, it has been said, that we have no idea of substance, which
is not applicable to matter; nor any idea of a distinct substance,
which is not applicable to every distinct portion of matter. Matter
therefore is not a mode but a substance, and each part of matter is
not a distinct mode, but a distinct substance. I have already proved,
that we have no perfect idea of substance; but that taking it for
_something that can exist by itself_, 'tis evident every perception
is a substance, and every distinct part of a perception a distinct
substance: and consequently the one hypothesis labours under the same
difficulties in this respect with the other.

Thirdly, it has been objected to the system of one simple substance in
the universe, that this substance, being the support or _substratum_
of every thing, must at the very same instant be modified into forms,
which are contrary and incompatible. The round and square figures
are incompatible in the same substance at the same time. How then is
it possible, that the same substance can at once be modified into
that square table, and into this round one? I ask the same question
concerning the impressions of these tables; and find that the answer is
no more satisfactory in one case than in the other.

It appears, then, that to whatever side we turn, the same difficulties
follow us, and that we cannot advance one step towards the establishing
the simplicity and immateriality of the soul, without preparing the
way for a dangerous and irrecoverable atheism. 'Tis the same case,
if, instead of calling thought a modification of the soul, we should
give it the more ancient, and yet more modish name of an _action_.
By an action we mean much the same thing as what is commonly called
an abstract mode; that is, something which, properly speaking, is
neither distinguishable, nor separable from its substance, and is only
conceived by a distinction of reason, or an abstraction. But nothing is
gained by this change of the term of modification for that of action;
nor do we free ourselves from one single difficulty by its means, as
will appear from the two following reflections:

First, I observe, that the word _action_, according to this explication
of it, can never justly be applied to any perception, as derived from a
mind or thinking substance. Our perceptions are all really different,
and separable, and distinguishable from each other, and from every
thing else which we can imagine; and therefore, 'tis impossible to
conceive how they can be the action or abstract mode of any substance.
The instance of motion, which is commonly made use of to show after
what manner perception depends as an action upon its substance, rather
confounds than instructs us. Motion, to all appearance, induces no real
nor essential change on the body, but only varies its relation to other
objects. But, betwixt a person in the morning walking in a garden,
with company agreeable to him; and a person in the afternoon enclosed
in a dungeon, and full of terror, despair and resentment, there seems
to be a radical difference, and of quite another kind, than what is
produced on a body by the change of its situation. As we conclude from
the distinction and separability of their ideas, that external objects
have a separate existence from each other; so, when we make these ideas
themselves our objects, we must draw the same conclusion concerning
_them_, according to the precedent reasoning. At least, it must be
confessed, that having no idea of the substance of the soul, 'tis
impossible for us to tell how it can admit of such differences, and
even contrarieties of perception, without any fundamental change; and,
consequently, can never tell in what sense perceptions are actions of
that substance. The use, therefore, of the word _action_, unaccompanied
with any meaning, instead of that of modification, makes no addition
to our knowledge, nor is of any advantage to the doctrine of the
immateriality of the soul.

I add, in the second place, that if it brings any advantage to that
cause, it must bring an equal to the cause of atheism. For, do our
theologians pretend to make a monopoly of the word _action_, and may
not the atheists likewise take possession of it, and affirm that
other plants, animals, men, &c., are nothing but particular actions
of one simple universal substance, which exerts itself from a blind
and absolute necessity? This you'll say, is utterly absurd. I own
'tis unintelligible; but, at the same time assert, according to the
principles above explained, that 'tis impossible to discover any
absurdity in the supposition, that all the various objects in nature
are actions of one simple substance, which absurdity will not be
applicable to a like supposition concerning impressions and ideas.

From these hypotheses concerning the _substance_ and _local
conjunction_ of our perceptions, we may pass to another, which is more
intelligible than the former, and more important than the latter, viz.
concerning the _cause_ of our perceptions. Matter and motion, 'tis
commonly said in the schools, however varied, are still matter and
motion, and produce only a difference in the position and situation of
objects. Divide a body as often as you please, 'tis still body. Place
it in any figure, nothing ever results but figure, or the relation
of parts. Move it in any manner, you still find motion or a change
of relation. 'Tis absurd to imagine, that motion in a circle, for
instance, should be nothing but merely motion in a circle; while motion
in another direction, as in an ellipse, should also be a passion or
moral reflection: that the shocking of two globular particles should
become a sensation of pain, and that the meeting of two triangular ones
should afford a pleasure. Now as these different shocks and variations
and mixtures are the only changes of which matter is susceptible, and
as these never afford us any idea of thought or perception, 'tis
concluded to be impossible, that thought can ever be caused by matter.

Few have been able to withstand the seeming evidence of this argument;
and yet nothing in the world is more easy than to refute it. We need
only reflect on what has been proved at large, that we are never
sensible of any connexion betwixt causes and effects, and that 'tis
only by our experience of their constant conjunction, we can arrive
at any knowledge of this relation. Now, as all objects, which are not
contrary, are susceptible of a constant conjunction, and as no real
objects are contrary; I have inferred from these principles,[14] that
to consider the matter _a priori_, any thing may produce any thing,
and that we shall never discover a reason, why any object may or may
not be the cause of any other, however great, or however little the
resemblance may be betwixt them. This evidently destroys the precedent
reasoning concerning the cause of thought or perception. For though
there appear no manner of connexion betwixt motion or thought, the
case is the same with all other causes and effects. Place one body
of a pound weight on one end of a lever, and another body of the
same weight on another end; you will never find in these bodies any
principle of motion dependent on their distances from the centre, more
than of thought and perception. If you pretend, therefore, to prove,
_a priori_, that such a position of bodies can never cause thought;
because, turn it which way you will, 'tis nothing but a position of
bodies; you must, by the same course of reasoning conclude, that it
can never produce motion; since there is no more apparent connexion
in the one case than in the other. But as this latter conclusion is
contrary to evident experience, and as 'tis possible we may have a like
experience in the operations of the mind, and may perceive a constant
conjunction of thought and motion; you reason too hastily, when, from
the mere consideration of the ideas, you conclude that 'tis impossible
motion can ever produce thought, or a different position of parts give
rise to a different passion or reflection. Nay, 'tis not only possible
we may have such an experience, but 'tis certain we have it; since
every one may perceive, that the different dispositions of his body
change his thoughts and sentiments. And should it be said, that this
depends on the union of soul and body, I would answer, that we must
separate the question concerning the substance of the mind from that
concerning the cause of its thought; and that, confining ourselves
to the latter question, we find, by the comparing their ideas, that
thought and motion are different from each other, and by experience,
that they are constantly united; which being all the circumstances that
enter into the idea of cause and effect, when applied to the operations
of matter, we may certainly conclude, that motion may be, and actually
is, the cause of thought and perception.

There seems only this dilemma left us in the present case; either to
assert, that nothing can be the cause of another, but where the mind
can perceive the connexion in its idea of the objects: or to maintain,
that all objects which we find constantly conjoined, are upon that
account to be regarded as causes and effects. If we choose the first
part of the dilemma, these are the consequences. _First_, we in reality
affirm, that there is no such thing in the universe as a cause or
productive principle, not even the Deity himself; since our idea of
that Supreme Being is derived from particular impressions, none of
which contain any efficacy, nor seem to have _any_ connexion with _any_
other existence. As to what may be said, that the connexion betwixt the
idea of an infinitely powerful Being and that of any effect, which he
wills, is necessary and unavoidable; I answer, that we have no idea of
a Being endowed with any power, much less of one endowed with infinite
power. But if we will change expressions, we can only define power by
connexion; and then in saying, that the idea of an infinitely powerful
Being is connected with that of every effect which he wills, we really
do no more than assert, that a Being, whose volition is connected with
every effect, is connected with every effect; which is an identical
proposition, and gives us no insight into the nature of this power or
connexion. But, _secondly_, supposing that the Deity were the great and
efficacious principle which supplies the deficiency of all causes, this
leads us into the grossest impieties and absurdities. For upon the same
account that we have recourse to him in natural operations, and assert
that matter cannot of itself communicate motion, or produce thought,
viz. because there is no apparent connexion betwixt these objects; I
say, upon the very same account, we must acknowledge that the Deity
is the author of all our volitions and perceptions; since they have
no more apparent connexion either with one another, or with the
supposed but unknown substance of the soul. This agency of the Supreme
Being we know to have been asserted by several philosophers[15] with
relation to all the actions of the mind, except volition, or rather
an inconsiderable part of volition; though 'tis easy to perceive, that
this exception is a mere pretext, to avoid the dangerous consequences
of that doctrine. If nothing be active but what has an apparent
power, thought is in no case any more active than matter; and if this
inactivity must make us have recourse to a Deity, the Supreme Being is
the real cause of all our actions, bad as well as good, vicious as well
as virtuous.

Thus we are necessarily reduced to the other side of the dilemma,
viz. that all objects, which are found to be constantly conjoined,
are upon that account only to be regarded as causes and effects. Now,
as all objects which are not contrary, are susceptible of a constant
conjunction, and as no real objects are contrary; it follows, that, for
ought we can determine by the mere ideas, any thing may be the cause
or effect of any thing; which evidently gives the advantage to the
materialists above their antagonists.

To pronounce, then, the final decision upon the whole: the question
concerning the substance of the soul is absolutely unintelligible:
all our perceptions are not susceptible of a local union, either with
what is extended or unextended; there being some of them of the one
kind, and some of the other: and as the constant conjunction of objects
constitutes the very essence of cause and effect, matter and motion
may often be regarded as the causes of thought, as far as we have any
notion of that relation.

'Tis certainly a kind of indignity to philosophy, whose sovereign
authority ought every where to be acknowledged, to oblige her on every
occasion to make apologies for her conclusions, and justify herself
to every particular art and science, which may be offended at her.
This puts one in mind of a king arraigned for high treason against
his subjects. There is only one occasion when philosophy will think
it necessary and even honourable to justify herself; and that is,
religion may seem to be in the least offended; whose rights are as dear
to her as her own, and are indeed the same. If any one, therefore,
should imagine that the foregoing arguments are any ways dangerous to
religion, I hope the following apology will remove his apprehensions.

There is no foundation for any conclusion _a priori_, either concerning
the operations or duration of any object, of which 'tis possible for
the human mind to form a conception. Any object may be imagined to
become entirely inactive, or to be annihilated in a moment; and 'tis
an evident principle, _that whatever we can imagine is possible_.
Now this is no more true of matter, than of spirit; of an extended
compounded substance, than of a simple and unextended. In both cases
the metaphysical arguments for the immortality of the soul are equally
inconclusive; and in both cases the moral arguments and those derived
from the analogy of nature are equally strong and convincing. If my
philosophy therefore makes no addition to the arguments for religion, I
have at least the satisfaction to think it takes nothing from them, but
that every thing remains precisely as before.

[9] Part I. Sect. 5.

[10] Sect 2, towards the end.

[11] Part. II. Sect. 6.

[12] Such as that of Sect. 2, from the coherence of our perceptions.

[13] See Bayle's Dictionary, article of Spinoza.

[14] Part III. sect. 15.

[15] As Father Malebranche and other Cartesians.



There are some philosophers, who imagine we are every moment intimately
conscious of what we call our _self_; that we feel its existence and
its continuance in existence; and are certain, beyond the evidence
of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity and simplicity. The
strongest sensation, the most violent passion, say they, instead of
distracting us from this view, only fix it the more intensely, and make
us consider their influence on _self_ either by their pain or pleasure.
To attempt a farther proof of this were to weaken its evidence; since
no proof can be derived from any fact of which we are so intimately
conscious; nor is there any thing, of which we can be certain, if we
doubt of this.

Unluckily all these positive assertions are contrary to that very
experience which is pleaded for them; nor have we any idea of _self_,
after the manner it is here explained. For, from what impression could
this idea be derived? This question 'tis impossible to answer without
a manifest contradiction and absurdity; and yet 'tis a question which
must necessarily be answered, if we would have the idea of self pass
for clear and intelligible. It must be some one impression that gives
rise to every real idea. But self or person is not any one impression,
but that to which our several impressions and ideas are supposed to
have a reference. If any impression gives rise to the idea of self,
that impression must continue invariably the same, through the whole
course of our lives; since self is supposed to exist after that manner.
But there is no impression constant and invariable. Pain and pleasure,
grief and joy, passions and sensations succeed each other, and never
all exist at the same time. It cannot therefore be from any of these
impressions, or from any other, that the idea of self is derived; and
consequently there is no such idea.

But farther, what must become of all our particular perceptions upon
this hypothesis? All these are different, and distinguishable, and
separable from each other, and may be separately considered, and may
exist separately, and have no need of any thing to support their
existence. After what manner therefore do they belong to self, and how
are they connected with it? For my part, when I enter most intimately
into what I call _myself_, I always stumble on some particular
perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred,
pain or pleasure. I never can catch _myself_ at any time without a
perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception. When
my perceptions are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, so long am
I insensible of _myself_, and may truly be said not to exist. And were
all my perceptions removed by death, and could I neither think, nor
feel, nor see, nor love, nor hate, after the dissolution of my body,
I should be entirely annihilated, nor do I conceive what is farther
requisite to make me a perfect nonentity. If any one, upon serious and
unprejudiced reflection, thinks he has a different notion of _himself_,
I must confess I can reason no longer with him. All I can allow him is,
that he may be in the right as well as I, and that we are essentially
different in this particular. He may, perhaps, perceive something
simple and continued, which he calls _himself_; though I am certain
there is no such principle in me.

But setting aside some metaphysicians of this kind, I may venture to
affirm of the rest of mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or
collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an
inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement. Our
eyes cannot turn in their sockets without varying our perceptions.
Our thought is still more variable than our sight; and all our
other senses and faculties contribute to this change; nor is there
any single power of the soul, which remains unalterably the same,
perhaps for one moment. The mind is a kind of theatre, where several
perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, repass, glide
away, and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations.
There is properly no _simplicity_ in it at one time, nor _identity_
in different, whatever natural propension we may have to imagine that
simplicity and identity. The comparison of the theatre must not mislead
us. They are the successive perceptions only, that constitute the mind;
nor have we the most distant notion of the place where these scenes are
represented, or of the materials of which it is composed.

What then gives us so great a propension to ascribe an identity to
these successive perceptions, and to suppose ourselves possessed of an
invariable and uninterrupted existence through the whole course of our
lives? In order to answer this question, we must distinguish betwixt
personal identity, as it regards our thought or imagination, and as it
regards our passions or the concern we take in ourselves. The first
is our present subject; and to explain it perfectly we must take the
matter pretty deep, and account for that identity, which we attribute
to plants and animals; there being a great analogy betwixt it and the
identity of a self or person.

We have a distinct idea of an object that remains invariable and
uninterrupted through a supposed variation of time; and this idea we
call that of _identity_ or _sameness_. We have also a distinct idea
of several different objects existing in succession, and connected
together by a close relation; and this to an accurate view affords
as perfect a notion of _diversity_, as if there was no manner of
relation among the objects. But though these two ideas of identity,
and a succession of related objects, be in themselves perfectly
distinct, and even contrary, yet 'tis certain that, in our common
way of thinking, they are generally confounded with each other. That
action of the imagination, by which we consider the uninterrupted and
invariable object, and that by which we reflect on the succession of
related objects, are almost the same to the feeling; nor is there much
more effort of thought required in the latter case than in the former.
The relation facilitates the transition of the mind from one object
to another, and renders its passage as smooth as if it contemplated
one continued object. This resemblance is the cause of the confusion
and mistake, and makes us substitute the notion of identity, instead
of that of related objects. However at one instant we may consider
the related succession as variable or interrupted, we are sure the
next to ascribe to it a perfect identity, and regard it as invariable
and uninterrupted. Our propensity to this mistake is so great from
the resemblance above mentioned, that we fall into it before we are
aware; and though we incessantly correct ourselves by reflection,
and return to a more accurate method of thinking, yet we cannot long
sustain our philosophy, or take off this bias from the imagination.
Our last resource is to yield to it, and boldly assert that these
different related objects are in effect the same, however interrupted
and variable. In order to justify to ourselves this absurdity, we often
feign some new and unintelligible principle, that connects the objects
together, and prevents their interruption or variation. Thus, we feign
the continued existence of the perceptions of our senses, to remove
the interruption; and run into the notion of a _soul_, and _self_, and
_substance_, to disguise the variation. But, we may farther observe,
that where we do not give rise to such a fiction, our propension to
confound identity with relation is so great, that we are apt to imagine
something unknown and mysterious,[16] connecting the parts, beside
their relation; and this I take to be the case with regard to the
identity we ascribe to plants and vegetables. And even when this does
not take place, we still feel a propensity to confound these ideas,
though we are not able fully to satisfy ourselves in that particular,
nor find any thing invariable and uninterrupted to justify our notion
of identity.

Thus, the controversy concerning identity is not merely a dispute
of words. For, when we attribute identity, in an improper sense,
to variable or interrupted objects, our mistake is not confined to
the expression, but is commonly attended with a fiction, either of
something invariable and uninterrupted, or of something mysterious and
inexplicable, or at least with a propensity to such fictions. What
will suffice to prove this hypothesis to the satisfaction of every
fair inquirer, is to show, from daily experience and observation, that
the objects which are variable or interrupted, and yet are supposed
to continue the same, are such only as consist of a succession of
parts, connected together by resemblance, contiguity, or causation.
For as such a succession answers evidently to our notion of diversity,
it can only be by mistake we ascribe to it an identity; and as the
relation of parts, which leads us into this mistake, is really nothing
but a quality, which produces an association of ideas, and an easy
transition of the imagination from one to another, it can only be from
the resemblance, which this act of the mind bears to that by which we
contemplate one continued object, that the error arises. Our chief
business, then, must be to prove, that all objects, to which we ascribe
identity, without observing their invariableness and uninterruptedness,
are such as consist of a succession of related objects.

In order to this, suppose any mass of matter, of which the parts are
contiguous and connected, to be placed before us; 'tis plain we must
attribute a perfect identity to this mass, provided all the parts
continue uninterruptedly and invariably the same, whatever motion or
change of place we may observe either in the whole or in any of the
parts. But supposing some very _small_ or _inconsiderable_ part to
be added to the mass, or subtracted from it; though this absolutely
destroys the identity of the whole, strictly speaking, yet as we seldom
think so accurately, we scruple not to pronounce a mass of matter
the same, where we find so trivial an alteration. The passage of the
thought from the object before the change to the object after it, is so
smooth and easy, that we scarce perceive the transition, and are apt to
imagine, that 'tis nothing but a continued survey of the same object.

There is a very remarkable circumstance that attends this experiment;
which is, that though the change of any considerable part in a mass
of matter destroys the identity of the whole, yet we must measure
the greatness of the part, not absolutely, but by its _proportion_
to the whole. The addition or diminution of a mountain would not be
sufficient to produce a diversity in a planet; though the change of a
very few inches would be able to destroy the identity of some bodies.
'Twill be impossible to account for this, but by reflecting that
objects operate upon the mind, and break or interrupt the continuity of
its actions, not according to their real greatness, but according to
their proportion to each other; and therefore, since this interruption
makes an object cease to appear the same, it must be the uninterrupted
progress of the thought which constitutes the imperfect identity.

This may be confirmed by another phenomenon. A change in any
considerable part of a body destroys its identity; but 'tis remarkable,
that where the change is produced _gradually_ and _insensibly_, we
are less apt to ascribe to it the same effect. The reason can plainly
be no other, than that the mind, in following the successive changes
of the body, feels an easy passage from the surveying its condition
in one moment, to the viewing of it in another, and in no particular
time perceives any interruption in its actions. From which continued
perception, it ascribes a continued existence and identity to the

But whatever precaution we may use in introducing the changes
gradually, and making them proportionable to the whole, 'tis certain,
that where the changes are at last observed to become considerable, we
make a scruple of ascribing identity to such different objects. There
is, however, another artifice, by which we may induce the imagination
to advance a step farther; and that is, by producing a reference of the
parts to each other, and a combination to some _common end_ or purpose.
A ship, of which a considerable part has been changed by frequent
reparations, is still considered as the same; nor does the difference
of the materials hinder us from ascribing an identity to it. The
common end, in which the parts conspire, is the same under all their
variations, and affords an easy transition of the imagination from one
situation of the body to another.

But this is still more remarkable, when we add a _sympathy_ of parts
to their _common end_, and suppose that they bear to each other the
reciprocal relation of cause and effect in all their actions and
operations. This is the case with all animals and vegetables; where not
only the several parts have a reference to some general purpose, but
also a mutual dependence on, and connexion with, each other. The effect
of so strong a relation is, that though every one must allow, that in
a very few years both vegetables and animals endure a _total_ change,
yet we still attribute identity to them, while their form, size and
substance, are entirely altered. An oak that grows from a small plant
to a large tree is still the same oak, though there be not one particle
of matter or figure of its parts the same. An infant becomes a man, and
is sometimes fat, sometimes lean, without any change in his identity.

We may also consider the two following phenomena, which are remarkable
in their kind. The first is, that though we commonly be able to
distinguish pretty exactly betwixt numerical and specific identity, yet
it sometimes happens that we confound them, and in our thinking and
reasoning employ the one for the other. Thus, a man who hears a noise
that is frequently interrupted and renewed, says it is still the same
noise, though 'tis evident the sounds have only a specific identity or
resemblance, and there is nothing numerically the same but the cause
which produced them. In like manner it may be said, without breach
of the propriety of language, that such a church, which was formerly
of brick, fell to ruin, and that the parish rebuilt the same church
of freestone, and according to modern architecture. Here neither the
form nor materials are the same, nor is there any thing common to the
two objects but their relation to the inhabitants of the parish; and
yet this alone is sufficient to make us denominate them the same. But
we must observe, that in these cases the first object is in a manner
annihilated before the second comes into existence; by which means,
we are never presented, in any one point of time, with the idea of
difference and multiplicity; and for that reason are less scrupulous in
calling them the same.

Secondly, we may remark, that though, in a succession of related
objects, it be in a manner requisite that the change of parts be not
sudden nor entire, in order to preserve the identity, yet where the
objects are in their nature changeable and inconstant, we admit of a
more sudden transition than would otherwise be consistent with that
relation. Thus, as the nature of a river consists in the motion and
change of parts, though in less than four-and-twenty hours these be
totally altered, this hinders not the river from continuing the same
during several ages. What is natural and essential to any thing is,
in a manner, expected; and what is expected makes less impression,
and appears of less moment than what is unusual and extraordinary.
A considerable change of the former kind seems really less to the
imagination than the most trivial alteration of the latter; and by
breaking less the continuity of the thought, has less influence in
destroying the identity.

We now proceed to explain the nature of _personal identity_, which
has become so great a question in philosophy, especially of late
years, in England, where all the abstruser sciences are studied with a
peculiar ardour and application. And here 'tis evident the same method
of reasoning must be continued which has so successfully explained the
identity of plants, and animals, and ships, and houses, and of all the
compounded and changeable productions either of art or nature. The
identity which we ascribe to the mind of man is only a fictitious one,
and of a like kind with that which we ascribe to vegetables and animal
bodies. It cannot therefore have a different origin, but must proceed
from a like operation of the imagination upon like objects.

But lest this argument should not convince the reader, though in my
opinion perfectly decisive, let him weigh the following reasoning,
which is still closer and more immediate. 'Tis evident that the
identity which we attribute to the human mind, however perfect we may
imagine it to be, is not able to run the several different perceptions
into one, and make them lose their characters of distinction and
difference, which are essential to them. 'Tis still true that every
distinct perception which enters into the composition of the mind,
is a distinct existence, and is different, and distinguishable,
and separable from every other perception, either contemporary or
successive. But as, notwithstanding this distinction and separability,
we [suppose] the whole train of perceptions to be united by identity,
a question naturally arises concerning this relation of identity,
whether it be something that really binds our several perceptions
together, or only associates their ideas in the imagination; that is,
in other words, whether, in pronouncing concerning the identity of a
person, we observe some real bond among his perceptions, or only feel
one among the ideas we form of them. This question we might easily
decide, if we would recollect what has been already proved at large,
that the understanding never observes any real connexion among objects,
and that even the union of cause and effect, when strictly examined,
resolves itself into a customary association of ideas. For from thence
it evidently follows, that identity is nothing really belonging to
these different perceptions, and uniting them together, but is merely
a quality which we attribute to them, because of the union of their
ideas in the imagination when we reflect upon them. Now, the only
qualities which can give ideas an union in the imagination, are these
three relations above mentioned. These are the uniting principles in
the ideal world, and without them every distinct object is separable
by the mind, and may be separately considered, and appears not to have
any more connexion with any other object than if disjoined by the
greatest difference and remoteness. 'Tis therefore on some of these
three relations of resemblance, contiguity and causation, that identity
depends; and as the very essence of these relations consists in their
producing an easy transition of ideas, it follows, that our notions of
personal identity proceed entirely from the smooth and uninterrupted
progress of the thought along a train of connected ideas, according to
the principles above explained.

The only question, therefore, which remains is, by what relations this
uninterrupted progress of our thought is produced, when we consider
the successive existence of a mind or thinking person. And here 'tis
evident we must confine ourselves to resemblance and causation, and
must drop contiguity, which has little or no influence in the present

To begin with _resemblance_; suppose we could see clearly into the
breast of another, and observe that succession of perceptions which
constitutes his mind or thinking principle, and suppose that he always
preserves the memory of a considerable part of past perceptions, 'tis
evident that nothing could more contribute to the bestowing a relation
on this succession amidst all its variations. For what is the memory
but a faculty, by which we raise up the images of past perceptions? And
as an image necessarily resembles its object, must not the frequent
placing of these resembling perceptions in the chain of thought, convey
the imagination more easily from one link to another, and make the
whole seem like the continuance of one object? In this particular,
then, the memory not only discovers the identity, but also contributes
to its production, by producing the relation of resemblance among the
perceptions. The case is the same, whether we consider ourselves or

As to _causation_; we may observe, that the true idea of the human
mind, is to consider it as a system of different perceptions or
different existences, which are linked together by the relation of
cause and effect, and mutually produce, destroy, influence, and
modify each other. Our impressions give rise to their correspondent
ideas; and these ideas, in their turn, produce other impressions. One
thought chases another, and draws after it a third, by which it is
expelled in its turn. In this respect, I cannot compare the soul more
properly to any thing than to a republic or commonwealth, in which
the several members are united by the reciprocal ties of government
and subordination, and give rise to other persons who propagate the
same republic in the incessant changes of its parts. And as the same
individual republic may not only change its members, but also its
laws and constitutions; in like manner the same person may vary his
character and disposition, as well as his impressions and ideas,
without losing his identity. Whatever changes he endures, his several
parts are still connected by the relation of causation. And in this
view our identity with regard to the passions serves to corroborate
that with regard to the imagination, by the making our distant
perceptions influence each other, and by giving us a present concern
for our past or future pains or pleasures.

As memory alone acquaints us with the continuance and extent of this
succession of perceptions, 'tis to be considered, upon that account
chiefly, as the source of personal identity. Had we no memory, we never
should have any notion of causation, nor consequently of that chain of
causes and effects, which constitute our self or person. But having
once acquired this notion of causation from the memory, we can extend
the same chain of causes, and consequently the identity of our persons
beyond our memory, and can comprehend times, and circumstances, and
actions, which we have entirely forgot, but suppose in general to have
existed. For how few of our past actions are there, of which we have
any memory? Who can tell me, for instance, what were his thoughts and
actions on the first of January 1715, the eleventh of March 1719, and
the third of August 1733? Or will he affirm, because he has entirely
forgot the incidents of these days, that the present self is not the
same person with the self of that time; and by that means overturn
all the most established notions of personal identity? In this view,
therefore, memory does not so much _produce_ as _discover_ personal
identity, by showing us the relation of cause and effect among our
different perceptions. 'Twill be incumbent on those who affirm that
memory produces entirely our personal identity, to give a reason why we
can thus extend our identity beyond our memory.

The whole of this doctrine leads us to a conclusion, which is of great
importance in the present affair, viz. that all the nice and subtile
questions concerning personal identity can never possibly be decided,
and are to be regarded rather as grammatical than as philosophical
difficulties. Identity depends on the relations of ideas; and these
relations produce identity, by means of that easy transition they
occasion. But as the relations, and the easiness of the transition may
diminish by insensible degrees, we have no just standard by which we
can decide any dispute concerning the time when they acquire or lose a
title to the name of identity. All the disputes concerning the identity
of connected objects are merely verbal, except so far as the relation
of parts gives rise to some fiction or imaginary principle of union, as
we have already observed.

What I have said concerning the first origin and uncertainty of our
notion of identity, as applied to the human mind, may be extended
with little or no variation to that of _simplicity_. An object, whose
different co-existent parts are bound together by a close relation,
operates upon the imagination after much the same manner as one
perfectly simple and indivisible, and requires not a much greater
stretch of thought in order to its conception. From this similarity
of operation we attribute a simplicity to it, and feign a principle
of union as the support of this simplicity, and the centre of all the
different parts and qualities of the object.

Thus we have finished our examination of the several systems of
philosophy, both of the intellectual and moral world; and, in our
miscellaneous way of reasoning, have been led into several topics,
which will either illustrate and confirm some preceding part of this
discourse, or prepare the way for our following opinions. 'Tis now time
to return to a more close examination of our subject, and to proceed in
the accurate anatomy of human nature, having fully explained the nature
of our judgment and understanding.

[16] If the reader is desirous to see how a great genius may be
influenced by these seemingly trivial principles of the imagination, as
well as the mere vulgar, let him read my Lord Shaftsbury's reasonings
concerning the uniting principle of the universe, and the identity of
plants and animals. See his _Moralists_, or _Philosophical Rhapsody_.



But before I launch out into those immense depths of philosophy which
lie before me, I find myself inclined to stop a moment in my present
station, and to ponder that voyage which I have undertaken, and which
undoubtedly requires the utmost art and industry to be brought to a
happy conclusion. Methinks I am like a man, who, having struck on many
shoals, and having narrowly escaped shipwreck in passing a small frith,
has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten
vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing
the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances. My memory of past
errors and perplexities makes me diffident for the future. The wretched
condition, weakness, and disorder of the faculties, I must employ in
my inquiries, increase my apprehensions. And the impossibility of
amending or correcting these faculties, reduces me almost to despair,
and makes me resolve to perish on the barren rock, on which I am at
present, rather than venture myself upon that boundless ocean which
runs out into immensity. This sudden view of my danger strikes me with
melancholy; and, as 'tis usual for that passion, above all others, to
indulge itself, I cannot forbear feeding my despair with all those
desponding reflections which the present subject furnishes me with in
such abundance.

I am first affrighted and confounded with that forlorn solitude in
which I am placed in my philosophy, and fancy myself some strange
uncouth monster, who, not being able to mingle and unite in society,
has been expelled all human commerce, and left utterly abandoned and
disconsolate. Fain would I run into the crowd for shelter and warmth,
but cannot prevail with myself to mix with such deformity. I call
upon others to join me, in order to make a company apart, but no one
will hearken to me. Every one keeps at a distance, and dreads that
storm which beats upon me from every side. I have exposed myself to
the enmity of all metaphysicians, logicians, mathematicians, and even
theologians; and can I wonder at the insults I must suffer? I have
declared my disapprobation of their systems; and can I be surprised
if they should express a hatred of mine and of my person? When I look
abroad, I foresee on every side dispute, contradiction, anger, calumny
and detraction. When I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but doubt and
ignorance. All the world conspires to oppose and contradict me; though
such is my weakness, that I feel all my opinions loosen and fall of
themselves, when unsupported by the approbation of others. Every step
I take is with hesitation, and every new reflection makes me dread an
error and absurdity in my reasoning.

For with what confidence can I venture upon such bold enterprises,
when, beside those numberless infirmities peculiar to myself, I find so
many which are common to human nature? Can I be sure that, in leaving
all established opinions, I am following truth? and by what criterion
shall I distinguish her, even if fortune should at last guide me on
her footsteps? After the most accurate and exact of my reasonings, I
can give no reason why I should assent to it, and feel nothing but a
_strong_ propensity to consider objects _strongly_ in that view under
which they appear to me. Experience is a principle which instructs me
in the several conjunctions of objects for the past. Habit is another
principle which determines me to expect the same for the future; and
both of them conspiring to operate upon the imagination, make me form
certain ideas in a more intense and lively manner than others which
are not attended with the same advantages. Without this quality, by
which the mind enlivens some ideas beyond others (which seemingly is so
trivial, and so little founded on reason), we could never assent to any
argument, nor carry our view beyond those few objects which are present
to our senses. Nay, even to these objects we could never attribute any
existence but what was dependent on the senses, and must comprehend
them entirely in that succession of perceptions which constitutes our
self or person. Nay, farther, even with relation to that succession, we
could only admit of those perceptions which are immediately present to
our consciousness; nor could those lively images, with which the memory
presents us, be ever received as true pictures of past perceptions. The
memory, senses, and understanding are therefore all of them founded on
the imagination, or the vivacity of our ideas.

No wonder a principle so inconstant and fallacious should lead us into
errors when implicitly followed (as it must be) in all its variations.
'Tis this principle which makes us reason from causes and effects; and
'tis the same principle which convinces us of the continued existence
of external objects when absent from the senses. But though these two
operations be equally natural and necessary in the human mind, yet in
some circumstances they are directly contrary;[17] nor is it possible
for us to reason justly and regularly from causes and effects, and at
the same time believe the continued existence of matter. How then shall
we adjust those principles together? Which of them shall we prefer? Or
in case we prefer neither of them, but successively assent to both, as
is usual among philosophers, with what confidence can we afterwards
usurp that glorious title, when we thus knowingly embrace a manifest

This contradiction[18] would be more excusable were it compensated
by any degree of solidity and satisfaction in the other parts of our
reasoning. But the case is quite contrary. When we trace up the human
understanding to its first principles, we find it to lead us into
such sentiments as seem to turn into ridicule all our past pains and
industry, and to discourage us from future inquiries. Nothing is more
curiously inquired after by the mind of man than the causes of every
phenomenon; nor are we content with knowing the immediate causes, but
push on our inquiries till we arrive at the original and ultimate
principle. We would not willingly stop before we are acquainted with
that energy in the cause by which it operates on its effect; that tie,
which connects them together; and that efficacious quality on which
the tie depends. This is our aim in all our studies and reflections:
and how must we be disappointed when we learn that this connexion,
tie, or energy lies merely in ourselves, and is nothing but that
determination of the mind which is acquired by custom, and causes us
to make a transition from an object to its usual attendant, and from
the impression of one to the lively idea of the other? Such a discovery
not only cuts off all hope of ever attaining satisfaction, but even
prevents our very wishes; since it appears, that when we say we desire
to know the ultimate and operating principle as something which resides
in the external object, we either contradict ourselves, or talk without
a meaning.

This deficiency in our ideas is not indeed perceived in common life,
nor are we sensible that, in the most usual conjunctions of cause and
effect, we are as ignorant of the ultimate principle which binds them
together, as in the most unusual and extraordinary. But this proceeds
merely from an illusion of the imagination; and the question is,
how far we ought to yield to these illusions. This question is very
difficult, and reduces us to a very dangerous dilemma, whichever way we
answer it. For if we assent to every trivial suggestion of the fancy,
beside that these suggestions are often contrary to each other, they
lead us into such errors, absurdities, and obscurities, that we must
at last become ashamed of our credulity. Nothing is more dangerous to
reason than the flights of the imagination, and nothing has been the
occasion of more mistakes among philosophers. Men of bright fancies
may in this respect be compared to those angels, whom the Scripture
represents as covering their eyes with their wings. This has already
appeared in so many instances, that we may spare ourselves the trouble
of enlarging upon it any farther.

But, on the other hand, if the consideration of these instances makes
us take a resolution to reject all the trivial suggestions of the
fancy, and adhere to the understanding, that is, to the general and
more established properties of the imagination; even this resolution,
if steadily executed, would be dangerous, and attended with the
most fatal consequences. For I have already shown,[19] that the
understanding, when it acts alone, and according to its most general
principles, entirely subverts itself, and leaves not the lowest degree
of evidence in any proposition, either in philosophy or common life.
We save ourselves from this total scepticism only by means of that
singular and seemingly trivial property of the fancy, by which we
enter with difficulty into remote views of things, and are not able to
accompany them with so sensible an impression, as we do those which
are more easy and natural. Shall we, then, establish it for a general
maxim, that no refined or elaborate reasoning is ever to be received?
Consider well the consequences of such a principle. By this means you
cut off entirely all science and philosophy: you proceed upon one
singular quality of the imagination, and by a parity of reason must
embrace all of them: and you expressly contradict yourself; since this
maxim must be built on the preceding reasoning, which will be allowed
to be sufficiently refined and metaphysical. What party, then, shall
we choose among these difficulties? If we embrace this principle,
and condemn all refined reasoning, we run into the most manifest
absurdities. If we reject it in favour of these reasonings, we subvert
entirely the human understanding. We have therefore no choice left,
but betwixt a false reason and none at all. For my part, I know not
what ought to be done in the present case. I can only observe what
is commonly done; which is, that this difficulty is seldom or never
thought of; and even where it has once been present to the mind, is
quickly forgot, and leaves but a small impression behind it. Very
refined reflections have little or no influence upon us; and yet we do
not, and cannot establish it for a rule, that they ought not to have
any influence; which implies a manifest contradiction.

But what have I here said, that reflections very refined and
metaphysical have little or no influence upon us? This opinion I can
scarce forbear retracting, and condemning from my present feeling and
experience. The _intense_ view of these manifold contradictions and
imperfections in human reason has so wrought upon me, and heated my
brain, that I am ready to reject all belief and reasoning, and can
look upon no opinion even as more probable or likely than another.
Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to
what condition shall I return? Whose favour shall I court, and whose
anger must I dread? What beings surround me? and on whom have I any
influence, or who have any influence on me? I am confounded with all
these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable
condition imaginable, environed with the deepest darkness, and utterly
deprived of the use of every member and faculty.

Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of
dispelling these clouds, Nature herself suffices to that purpose, and
cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by
relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression
of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a
game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and
when, after three or four hours' amusement, I would return to these
speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I
cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther.

Here, then, I find myself absolutely and necessarily determined to
live, and talk, and act like other people in the common affairs of
life. But notwithstanding that my natural propensity, and the course
of my animal spirits and passions reduce me to this indolent belief
in the general maxims of the world, I still feel such remains of my
former disposition, that I am ready to throw all my books and papers
into the fire, and resolve never more to renounce the pleasures of life
for the sake of reasoning and philosophy. For those are my sentiments
in that splenetic humour which governs me at present. I may, nay I
must yield to the current of nature, in submitting to my senses and
understanding; and in this blind submission I show most perfectly my
sceptical disposition and principles. But does it follow that I must
strive against the current of nature, which leads me to indolence
and pleasure; that I must seclude myself, in some measure, from the
commerce and society of men, which is so agreeable; and that I must
torture my brain with subtilties and sophistries, at the very time that
I cannot satisfy myself concerning the reasonableness of so painful an
application, nor have any tolerable prospect of arriving by its means
at truth and certainty? Under what obligation do I lie of making such
an abuse of time? And to what end can it serve, either for the service
of mankind, or for my own private interest? No: if I must be a fool, as
all those who reason or believe any thing _certainly_ are, my follies
shall at least be natural and agreeable. Where I strive against my
inclination, I shall have a good reason for my resistance; and will no
more be led a wandering into such dreary solitudes, and rough passages,
as I have hitherto met with.

These are the sentiments of my spleen and indolence; and indeed I must
confess, that philosophy has nothing to oppose to them, and expects a
victory more from the returns of a serious good-humoured disposition,
than from the force of reason and conviction. In all the incidents of
life, we ought still to preserve our scepticism. If we believe that
fire warms, or water refreshes, 'tis only because it costs us too much
pains to think otherwise. Nay, if we are philosophers, it ought only to
be upon sceptical principles, and from an inclination which we feel to
the employing ourselves after that manner. Where reason is lively, and
mixes itself with some propensity, it ought to be assented to. Where it
does not, it never can have any title to operate upon us.

At the time, therefore, that I am tired with amusement and company,
and have indulged a _reverie_ in my chamber, or in a solitary walk
by a river side, I feel my mind all collected within itself, and am
naturally _inclined_ to carry my view into all those subjects, about
which I have met with so many disputes in the course of my reading and
conversation. I cannot forbear having a curiosity to be acquainted with
the principles of moral good and evil, the nature and foundation of
government, and the cause of those several passions and inclinations
which actuate and govern me. I am uneasy to think I approve of one
object, and disapprove of another; call one thing beautiful, and
another deformed; decide concerning truth and falsehood, reason and
folly, without knowing upon what principles I proceed. I am concerned
for the condition of the learned world, which lies under such a
deplorable ignorance in all these particulars. I feel an ambition to
arise in me of contributing to the instruction of mankind, and of
acquiring a name by my inventions and discoveries. These sentiments
spring up naturally in my present disposition; and should I endeavour
to banish them, by attaching myself to any other business or diversion,
I _feel_ I should be a loser in point of pleasure; and this is the
origin of my philosophy.

But even suppose this curiosity and ambition should not transport
me into speculations without the sphere of common life, it would
necessarily happen, that from my very weakness I must be led into such
inquiries. 'Tis certain that superstition is much more bold in its
systems and hypotheses than philosophy; and while the latter contents
itself with assigning new causes and principles to the phenomena which
appear in the visible world, the former opens a world of its own, and
presents us with scenes, and beings, and objects, which are altogether
new. Since, therefore, 'tis almost impossible for the mind of man to
rest, like those of beasts, in that narrow circle of objects, which
are the subject of daily conversation and action, we ought only to
deliberate concerning the choice of our guide, and ought to prefer that
which is safest and most agreeable. And in this respect I make bold to
recommend philosophy, and shall not scruple to give it the preference
to superstition of every kind or denomination. For as superstition
arises naturally and easily from the popular opinions of mankind, it
seizes more strongly on the mind, and is often able to disturb us in
the conduct of our lives and actions. Philosophy, on the contrary, if
just, can present us only with mild and moderate sentiments; and if
false and extravagant, its opinions are merely the objects of a cold
and general speculation, and seldom go so far as to interrupt the
course of our natural propensities. The _Cynics_ are an extraordinary
instance of philosophers, who, from reasonings purely philosophical,
ran into as great extravagancies of conduct as any _monk_ or _dervise_
that ever was in the world. Generally speaking, the errors in religion
are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.

I am sensible, that these two cases of the strength and weakness of the
mind will not comprehend all mankind, and that there are in England,
in particular, many honest gentlemen, who, being always employed in
their domestic affairs, or amusing themselves in common recreations,
have carried their thoughts very little beyond those objects, which
are every day exposed to their senses. And indeed, of such as these I
pretend not to make philosophers, nor do I expect them either to be
associates in these researches, or auditors of these discoveries. They
do well to keep themselves in their present situation; and, instead
of refining them into philosophers, I wish we could communicate to
our founders of systems, a share of this gross earthy mixture, as an
ingredient, which they commonly stand much in need of, and which would
serve to temper those fiery particles, of which they are composed.
While a warm imagination is allowed to enter into philosophy, and
hypotheses embraced merely for being specious and agreeable, we can
never have any steady principles, nor any sentiments, which will suit
with common practice and experience. But were these hypotheses once
removed, we might hope to establish a system or set of opinions, which
if not true (for that, perhaps, is too much to be hoped for), might at
least be satisfactory to the human mind, and might stand the test of
the most critical examination. Nor should we despair of attaining this
end, because of the many chimerical systems, which have successively
arisen and decayed away among men, would we consider the shortness of
that period, wherein these questions have been the subjects of inquiry
and reasoning. Two thousand years with such long interruptions, and
under such mighty discouragements, are a small space of time to give
any tolerable perfection to the sciences; and perhaps we are still in
too early an age of the world to discover any principles, which will
bear the examination of the latest posterity. For my part, my only hope
is, that I may contribute a little to the advancement of knowledge,
by giving in some particulars a different turn to the speculations of
philosophers, and pointing out to them more distinctly those subjects,
where alone they can expect assurance and conviction. Human Nature is
the only science of man; and yet has been hitherto the most neglected.
'Twill be sufficient for me, if I can bring it a little more into
fashion; and the hope of this serves to compose my temper from that
spleen, and invigorate it from that indolence, which sometimes prevail
upon me. If the reader finds himself in the same easy disposition,
let him follow me in my future speculations. If not, let him follow
his inclination, and wait the returns of application and good humour.
The conduct of a man who studies philosophy in this careless manner,
is more truly sceptical than that of one who, feeling in himself an
inclination to it, is yet so overwhelmed with doubts and scruples,
as totally to reject it. A true sceptic will be diffident of his
philosophical doubts, as well as of his philosophical conviction; and
will never refuse any innocent satisfaction which offers itself, upon
account of either of them.

Nor is it only proper we should in general indulge our inclination
in the most elaborate philosophical researches, notwithstanding our
sceptical principles, but also that we should yield to that propensity,
which inclines us to be positive and certain in _particular points_,
according to the light in which we survey them in any _particular
instant_. 'Tis easier to forbear all examination and inquiry, than
to check ourselves in so natural a propensity, and guard against
that assurance, which always arises from an exact and full survey
of an object. On such an occasion we are apt not only to forget our
scepticism, but even our modesty too; and make use of such terms as
these, _'tis evident, 'tis certain, 'tis undeniable_; which a due
deference to the public ought, perhaps, to prevent. I may have fallen
into this fault after the example of others; but I here enter a
_caveat_ against any objections which may be offered on that head; and
declare that such expressions were extorted from me by the present view
of the object, and imply no dogmatical spirit, nor conceited idea of
my own judgment, which are sentiments that I am sensible can become
nobody, and a sceptic still less than any other.

[17] Sect. 4.

[18] Part III. Sect. 14.

[19] Section 1.


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