[Spinoza relates his journey to Amsterdam for the purpose of
publishing his Ethics; he was deterred by the
dissuasions of theologians and Cartesians. He hopes that
Oldenburg will inform him of some of the objections to the
Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, made by learned men, so
that they may be answered in notes.]
Letter 19 (68) Spinoza to Oldenburg.
Distinguished and Illustrious SIR,--When I received your
letter of the 22nd July, I had set out to Amsterdam for the
purpose of publishing the book I had mentioned to you.
While I was negotiating, a rumour gained currency that I had
in the press a book concerning God, wherein I endeavoured
to show that there is no God. This report was believed
by many. Hence certain theologians, perhaps the authors of
the rumour, took occasion to complain of me before the
prince and the magistrates; moreover, the stupid Cartesians,
being suspected of favouring me, endeavoured to
remove the aspersion by abusing everywhere my opinions and
writings, a course which they still pursue. When I
became aware of this through trustworthy men, who also
assured me that the theologians were everywhere lying in
wait for me, I determined to put off publishing till I
saw how things were going, and I proposed to inform you of my
intentions. But matters seem to get worse and worse, and
I am still uncertain what to do.
Meanwhile I do not like to delay any longer answering your
letter. I will first thank you heartily for your friendly
warning, which I should be glad to have further explained,
so that I may know, which are the doctrines which seem to
you to be aimed against the practice of religion and virtue.
If principles agree with reason, they are, I take it, also
most serviceable to virtue. Further, if it be not troubling
you too much I beg you to point out the passages in the
Tractatus Theologico-Politicus which are objected to by the
learned, for I want to illustrate that treatise with notes,
and to remove if possible the prejudices conceived against it. Farewell.