John Locke: Letters on Toleration

(1368 words)
  • Mark Goldie (University of Cambridge)

Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration is an assault upon “those that persecute, torment, destroy, and kill other men upon pretence of religion”. Locke wrote the Letter in Latin in 1685-6 while in exile in Holland. His friend, the Dutch Arminian theologian Philipp van Limborch, published it at Gouda in 1689 under the title Epistola de Tolerantia. The Unitarian merchant William Popple published his English translation in London in the same year, and it was in this form that it was subsequently read in the Anglophone world. The prefatory epistle, with its plea for “absolute liberty”, is Popple's, not Locke's. Presumably for political reasons, both versions were published anonymously, and Locke did not admit …

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Goldie, Mark. "Letters on Toleration". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 31 October 2002
[, accessed 27 September 2016.]