LOCKE, John (1632-1704). An Essay concerning Humane Understanding. London: Elizabeth Holt for Thomas Basset, 1690.
Median 2o (323 x 197 mm). Collation: A4 a2 (title, author's dedication to the eighth Earl of Pembroke, epistle to the reader, errata); B-Z4 Aa4 (text Books I-II); Bb-Zz4 Aaa-Ccc4 (Books III-IV, table of contents). Type-ornament vignette on title. Contemporary English mottled calf, spine gold-tooled in compartments and red morocco lettering piece, red-and-green sprinkled edges, (spine-ends repaired, joints worn).
Provenance: in this copy the author has corrected one word and inserted another in his own hand, changing "certainly sensible" to "extremly sensible" at the end of his dedication, and adding the word "some" to "Discovery", which according to Locke in the epistle to the reader is made by every step the Mind takes in its progress towards Knowledge; Sir Isaac Newton, perhaps presented to him by Locke (dozens of leaves faintly but clearly dog-eared at lower outer corner, Newton's unmistakable habit of marking passages of interest to him, the entire library sold promptly after his death in 1727 to); John Huggins (bequeathed to his son); Charles Huggins, rector of Chinnor, Oxfordshire (engraved armorial bookplate, manuscript shelfmark, the library inherited by); James Musgrave, husband of C. Huggins's niece and successor to the rectorate of Chinnor in 1750 (engraved armorial bookplate pasted over that of Huggins's); transferred after Musgrave's death in 1778 by his son to Barnsley Park in Gloucestershire (shelfmark); Viscount Mersey (Bignor Park bookplate).
IMPORTANT ASSOCIATION COPY FROM SIR ISAAC NEWTON'S LIBRARY, with two autograph revisions by Locke and therefore possibly a presentation copy. FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE of the first modern theory of human knowledge. Locke investigates the mechanism of comprehension, analyses the extent of the human ability to apprehend ideas and to what extent the mind can understand the universe. It is clear that Locke's philosophy was highly relevant to Newton, whose scientific work aimed at proving the physical unity of the cosmos and whose mathematical innovations to express his law of gravity stretched human understanding until Einstein stretched it even further. Locke's conclusion was that knowledge inevitably falls short of total comprehension, but that we are not at the mercy of pure chance and can go a considerable distance towards controlling our own destiny.
FINE CONDITION. Attig 228; Garrison-Morton 4967; Hunter & Macalpine pp 236-9; J. Harrison, The Library of Sir Isaac Newton (1978) 967; Pforzheimer 599; PMM 164; Wing L-2738; Norman 1380.