Dear FRIEND,--The preface you sent me by our friend De Vries, I now
send back to you by the same hand. Some
few things, as you will see, I have marked in the margin;
but yet a few remain, which I have judged it better to
mention to you by letter. First, where on page 4 you give
the reader to know on what occasion I composed the first
part; I would have you likewise explain there, or where you
please, that I composed it within a fortnight. For when
this is explained none will suppose the exposition to be so
clear as that it cannot be bettered, and so they will not
stick at obscurities in this and that phrase on which they
may chance to stumble. Secondly, I would have you
explain, that when I prove many points otherwise than they
be proved by Descartes, 'tis not to amend Descartes, but
the better to preserve my order, and not to multiply
axioms overmuch: and that for this same reason I prove many
things which by Descartes are barely alleged without
any proof, and must needs add other matters which Descartes
let alone. Lastly, I will earnestly beseech you, as my
especial friend, to let be everything you have written, towards
the end against that creature, and wholly strike it out.
And though many reasons determine me to this request, I will give
but one. I would fain have all men readily believe
that these matters are published for the common profit of the
world, and that your sole motive in bringing out the
book is the love of spreading the truth; and that it is
accordingly all your study to make the work acceptable to all, to
bid men, with all courtesy to the pursuit of genuine philosophy,
and to consult their common advantage. Which every
man will be ready to think when he sees that no one is attacked,
nor anything advanced where any man can find the
least offence. Notwithstanding, if afterwards the person you know
of, or any other, be minded to display his ill will,
then you may portray his life and character, and gain applause by it.
So I ask that you will not refuse to be patient
thus far, and suffer yourself to be entreated, and believe me wholly
bounden to you, and
Yours with all affection,
B. de Spinoza.
Voorburg, Aug. 3, 1663.
Our friend De Vries had promised to take this with him; but seeing he
knows not when he will return to you, I send it by another hand.
Along with this I send you part of the scholium to Prop. 27. Part 2.
where page 75 begins, that you may hand it to
the printer to be reprinted. The matter I send you must of necessity
be reprinted, and fourteen or fifteen lines added, which may
easily be inserted.
[Note N1]: This letter is not given in the Opera Posthuma, but was
preserved in M. Cousin's library at the Sorbonne. This
version is reprinted, by kind permission, from Mr. Pollock's
"Spinoza, his Life and Philosophy," Appendix C.