Masham (1659-1708)

Damaris Cudworth Masham, Lady Masham

 

 "Religion is the concernment of all mankind; philosophy as distinguished from it, only of those that have a freedom from the affaires of the world … and indeed the pleasures of this life are so trifling and transitory, and its cares so many and bitter, that I think one must be very miserable and stupid, not to seek one's satisfaction in something else, if one believes that it is to be found.”

- Letter 1040 to Locke, from 7th April 1688, De Beer (1976)

History remembers Masham for her close friendship with the British philosopher John Locke, but recent scholarship shows that she was a formidable philosopher in her own right. Masham was the daughter of the well-known Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth, and though like most women she did not have formal education, she grew up in academic and scholarly circles. Masham and Locke knew each other for more than twenty years, and Locke spent the last fourteen years of his life with her family at Oates. Locke’s presence certainly dominated the Oates household, with his library of more than 4,000 works, numerous scientific instruments, and a stream of distinguished visitors such as Isaac Newton. However, Locke was not only a lodger, he was very much a part of Masham’s family: he took care of Masham’s finances, looked after her son’s education, and declared him his principal heir. The relationship was certainly philosophically productive for both of them. During the time that they knew one another, Locke produced new editions of his works Essay Concerning Human Understanding, The Reasonableness of Christianity, The Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity, and engaged in a prominent debate with Bishop Edward Stillingfleet. Thanks to Locke’s connections on the Continent, Masham exchanged philosophical correspondence with the German philosopher G.W. Leibniz. She also anonymously published two treatises on moral philosophy, metaphysics and the education of women, Discourse Concerning the Love of God (1696) and Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian Life (1705). She stands out as one of the few early modern English women who not only published philosophical works in her own lifetime, but also engaged in the ‘Republic of Letters’ on the European Continent.

1.1 Biography

Damaris Cudworth on the 18th of January 1658 /59 to the Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth and his wife Damaris Cudworth. Ralph was the master at Christ’s College, Cambridge, a classicist and Professor of Hebrew. He was one of the foremost Cambridge Platonists and became well known in England and on the Continent for his philosophical work, including The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678). Damaris grew up in the academic atmosphere of the College, with her father’s colleagues and her brothers, who were also students at Cambridge. There is scholarly debate concerning the extent of her father’s role in her education, and the extent of her Platonist views. The young Damaris did not read or speak any of the classical or biblical languages, but she seems to have been well read in the philosophical and literary works of her time. She learned Latin later in life. After she came of age in 1681, she took the opportunity to spend time in London away from the scholarly atmosphere in Cambridge. It is most likely there she met Locke in London through mutual acquaintances. She was in her early twenties and he was already a middle-aged man with a political and philosophical reputation. After several meetings in 1681, they started a correspondence in 1682, which many scholars interpret as romantic in the ‘seraphick,’ or the Platonic, sense. They sent each other billets doux signed with the noms de plume Philoclea and Philander, with Damaris referring to herself as Locke’s ‘governess’ and he as her ‘pupil.’ Unfortunately, it is not clear from the scholarship whether marriage was ever an option for them, although they discuss the institution of marriage in general in their letters.

Christ's College, Cambridge, c. 1690

From 1682-1683 Locke was busy working for Antony Ashley Cooper, the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, who was the leader of the Whig party in the English Parliament. This political connection soon became highly dangerous, because Lord Shaftesbury became associated with the Popish Plot against King Charles II. Shaftesbury fled to Holland in 1682 and Locke followed him into exile in September 1683, after the political situation turned worse following the Rye House Plot against the King. During his stay in Holland, Locke became good friends with some of the leading scholars on the Continent, including Jean Le Clerc, Philip Van Limborch, Pierre Bayle, and Pierre Coste. In the meantime, Damaris Cudworth married Sir Francis Masham, a widower with nine children, on 25 June 1685, at St. Andrew’s Church in Holborn, London. She became known as Lady Masham and in 1686 gave birth to her only child, a son named Francis Cudworth Masham.

St. Andrew's Church, Holborn, London

The correspondence between Locke and Masham continued while Locke was in exile from 1683 to 1688; it remains one of the richest sources regarding Masham’s life during this time. The extant correspondence comprises forty-five letters, mainly written by Masham. The letters are mostly of a personal nature, in which Masham expresses frustration at her countryside lifestyle filled with household management duties, which take away precious time from her philosophical studies. She often wishes to be with Locke and rarely mentions her husband:

"However for all my quarrel with you I cannot help telling you that there is scarce any thing I would not give to see you here in my closet where I am now writing to you; I can but think how you would smile to see cowley and my surfeit waters jumbled together; with Dr More and my gally potts of mithridate and dioscordium; my receits and account books with Antoninus's Meditations, and Descartes Principles; with my globes, and my spining wheel; for just in this order they at presently, and ‘tis not without reason I think that I design to draw curtains over this fantastical furniture."

- Letter 837, from 14th of November 1685, De Beer (1976).

The letters also touch on philosophical and theological topics, such as the relationship between faith and reason, the dangers of religious enthusiasm, doctrines of the different religious sects in England and on the Continent – including the Labadists and Quakers – and following Locke’s publication of the Abrege of his Essay, a brief discussion of innate knowledge.

In 1688, Locke returned to England. Seeking clean air, peaceful environment for his work, and good company, Locke looked to escape busy London. In 1689 and again in early 1690, Locke visited Masham at her manor at Oates in Essex to test the air. In June 1690 he spent a whole summer there. Locke apparently enjoyed the country air, because by December 1690 he was a permanent resident of the household, paying £1 per week for his lodgings. His friends jokingly started to call him “the gentleman now within the moated castle,” referring to the little moat surrounding the house. Locke spent the rest of his life at Oates, until his death on 28 October 1704. He is buried at Oates in the parish church of High Laver.

Park at Masham's residence "Otes House," c. 1765

There is scholarly debate as to the exact nature of Masham’s and Locke’s relationship, but there is no doubt that it was affectionate and intellectual, and that it dominated the Masham household. Although Sir Francis Masham was often away in London due to his political obligations in the Parliament, it is interesting that he is not mentioned; letters from Locke’s friends include greetings to Locke and Lady Masham but rarely Sir Masham.

Locke was certainly a cherished and privileged resident. He not only had the best rooms in the relatively small house on the top floor, but he also took over the rest of the house with his library of c. 4,000–5,000 books and numerous scientific instruments. He was involved in the education of Masham’s son Francis and left him a substantial fortune when he made him his principal heir. Locke also managed Masham’s finances and trust fund, possibly because she distrusted Sir Masham’s judgment, and bought her numerous presents: everything from ladies gloves to parasols to fabrics to books. He also commissioned matching portraits of the two of them from Sir Godfrey Kneller in 1704. Unfortunately, Masham’s portrait apparently does not survive.

There is some debate concerning the extent of Masham’s influence on Locke’s philosophical work during his stay at Oates. What we do know is that his last years there were very productive: in addition to his revisions of the second, third and fourth editions of the Essay, he also published the first three editions of his Thoughts Considering Education (1693, 1695, 1699), two editions of The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695, 1696), two editions of the Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity (1695, 1697) and his famous replies to Bishop Edward Stillingfleet (1697-1698). He died on 28 October 1704, with Masham at his side reading to him from the Psalms.

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1690 London

From late 1703 until 1705, shortly before and after Locke’s death, Masham corresponded with the great German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. The twelve extant letters discuss topics such as her father’s views on plastic natures in the True Intellectual System, Leibniz’s views on substance, the principle of uniformity and pre-established harmony. Some scholars suggest that Leibniz wrote to Masham primarily because he wished to engage Locke in a philosophical debate. Leibniz had tried to engage Locke in direct correspondence in the past, but without success. Perhaps he hoped that Masham would discuss their letters with Locke, and that this would persuade Locke to take an interest. However, as Masham herself indicated in her letters, Locke’s health was failing to the point where he no longer wished to participate.

During Locke’s residence at Oates, Masham also published her two treatises: A Discourse Concerning the Love of God (1696) and Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian Life (1705). Both works are concerned with practical moral philosophy. The Discourse also discusses the relationship between God and his creation, and Malebranche’s metaphysics and his occasionalism. Occasional Thoughts is mainly concerned with the relationship between women’s education and Christian virtue. Some scholars suggest that Masham wrote both her works in response to the works of other contemporary philosophers – that of John Norris and Mary Astell – but scholars debate this point. Both treatises were published anonymously, and intriguingly, each was attributed to Locke at some point. The Discourse was translated into French by Pierre Coste and published in Amsterdam in 1705, also anonymously, although some scholars interpret Coste’s preface as hinting at Masham’s authorship. Occasional Thoughts was republished in 1747, under the title Thoughts on a Christian Life, with John Locke presented as the author on the title page.

Thoughts on a Christian Life, 1747 London

Masham died less than four years after Locke, at the age of forty-nine. She was on a curative visit to Bath, because she was suffering from painful gallstones. Her resting place is in Bath Abbey. Since then, Masham’s work has been largely forgotten and she became known mainly for her friendship with Locke. It is only in the last generation that her work has attracted substantial and deserved scholarly attention.

 

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1.2 Portraits

Current scholarship indicates that there are no extant portraits of Masham. Masham’s mother, Mrs. Cudworth, who spent her last years as a widow at Masham’s residence at Oates, appears to have owned a portrait of Masham upon her death in 1695, but it has disappeared. The portrait is mentioned in an inventory manuscript of Mrs. Cudworth’s possessions, which can be found in the Bodleian Library’s Locke Papers collection, Bodley MSS Locke c. 16, fol. 40.

Locke also commissioned matching portraits of himself and Masham a few weeks before he died, from the painter Sir Godfrey Kneller, who painted a number of portraits of Locke during the last years of his life, along with a famous portrait of Isaac Newton. Locke instructed Sir Kneller to inscribe his and Masham’s names on the back of the portraits, ‘Lady Masham 1704’ and ‘John Locke 1704,’ so that the portraits could be identified in the future. This portrait of Masham also seems to have disappeared. The well-known Locke portrait is now housed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

John Locke after Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1704

One image associated with Masham is the engraving of the manor house at Oates, where she spent her married life, and where Locke was her lodger and intellectual companion from 13 December 1690 until his death on 28 October 1704. This engraving, likely from 1821, shows the manor house in the late eighteenth century and is probably from a contemporary print. The square Georgian addition was probably made in the 1770s, so the house that Masham and Locke lived in included the left hand gabled side only. The house, which was built in the fifteenth century, was triple gabled, probably timber framed, and had two stories with casement windows. It was therefore not one of the fashionable new brick and stone houses. The house stood in the parish of High Lever, a small community in the countryside. The family originally acquired it in 1615. The house is now gone, having been mostly demolished in 1830. All that remains of it is one ancient lime tree, most likely planted by Locke, who enjoyed gardening and planting trees.

Masham's residence "Otes House," 1821


References

Goldie, Mark. 2004. John Locke and the Mashams at Oates. Cambridge: Churchill College, University of Cambridge. (See the List of Illustrations, and page 27.)

Laslett, Peter. 1953. "Masham of Otes." History Today 3: 535-543.

O'Donnell, Sheryl. 1984. "'My Idea in Your Mind': John Locke and Damaris Cudworth Masham." In Mothering the Mind: Twelve Studies of Writers and Their Silent Partners, edited by Ruth Perry and Martine Watson Brownley, pp. 26-46. New York: Holmes & Meier. (See pg. 45, footnote 40.)



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1.3 Chronology

Sources

Buickerood, James G. 2004. "Introduction." In The Philosophical Works of Damaris, Lady Masham, edited by James G. Buickerood. Bristol: Thoemmes Press.

Goldie, Mark. 2004. John Locke and the Mashams at Oates. Cambridge: Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

Hutton, Sarah. 1993. "Damaris Cudworth, Lady Masham: Between Platonism and Enlightenment." British Journal for the History of Philosophy 1 (1): 29-54.

 

Date

Life event

18 January 1659

 

Masham born as Damaris Cudworth in Cambridge, the daughter of the Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth. (Note: this date is in the Gregorian calendar. On her epitaph her birth date is given Julian style, 18 January 1658.)

1678

Publication of Ralph Cudworth’s The True Intellectual System of the Universe.

1681

Masham meets John Locke.

1682 – 1697

Masham and Locke correspond.

September 1683

Locke flees to Holland.

June 1685

Masham, neé Damaris Cudworth, marries Sir Francis Masham (1649 – 1723), third baronet of Oates in Essex, member of Parliament, and widower with nine children, at St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn, London.

8 June 1686

Masham’s only child, Francis Cudworth Masham, is baptized.

1688

Publication of Locke’s Abregé d’un Ouvrage Intitulé Essay Philosophique Touchant l’Entendment in Amsterdam.

1688

John Norris dedicates his Theory and Regulation of Love to Masham.

1688

Mrs. Damaris Cudworth, Masham’s widowed mother, moves to Oates.

1689

Publication of Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, A Letter Concerning Toleration, and anonymous publication of his Two Treatises of Government.

1690

Publication of John Norris’s Reflections Upon the Conduct of Human Life. Norris dedicates the work to Masham, but erroneously states in the dedication that she has gone blind.

December 1690

Locke becomes a permanent resident at Masham’s house at Oates.

February 1691

Sir Isaac Newton visits Locke and Masham at Oates.

1693

Francis Mercury Van Helmont visits Masham and John Locke at Oates.

1694

Publication of Mary Astell’s A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Part I.

1694

Second edition of Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

1695

Third edition of Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

1695

Publication of Mary Astell and John Norris’s debate as Letters Concerning the Love of God Between the Author of the Proposal to the Ladies and Mr. John Norris.

1695

Publication of Leibniz’s article ‘Systeme Nouveau’ in Journal des Savans.

November 1695

Mrs. Cudworth, Masham’s widowed mother, dies at Oates.

1696

Anonymous publication of Masham’s Discourse Concerning the Love of God in London.

1697

Publication of Mary Astell’s A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Part II.

1698

Pierre Coste, Huguenot scholar and French translator of Locke’s Essay and Masham’s Discourse, moves to Oates as the tutor of Masham’s son Francis.

1698

Publication of John Norris’s Practical Discourses Upon Several Divine Subjects.

1699

Publication of Nicolas Malebranche’s Traite de L’Amour de Dieu.

1700

Publication of Mary Astell’s Some Reflections Upon Marriage.

1700

Fourth edition of Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

1700

Pierre Coste translates Locke’s Essay into French.

1703 – 1704

Masham corresponds with Leibniz on philosophical issues.

1704

Locke dies at Oates and Francis Cudworth Masham becomes his principal heir.

12 January 1704

Masham writes a letter to Jean Le Clerc containing Locke’s biography. Le Clerc uses the biography as the main source for his article ‘Eloge de feu Mr Locke.’

1705

Jean Le Clerc publishes ‘Eloge de feu Mr. Locke’ in the Bibliothéque Choisie.

1705

Anonymous publication in French of Masham’s Discours sur l'Amour Divin in Amsterdam. Translated by Pierre Coste.

1705

Jean Le Clerc publishes a review of Masham’s Discours in his Bibliothéque Choisie.

1705

Anonymous publication of Masham’s Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian Life in London.

1705

Publication of Abel Boyer’s The History of the Reign of Queen Anne, in which the Occasional Thoughts is wrongly attributed to Locke.

1705

Publication of Mary Astell’s The Christian Religion, As Profess'd by a Daughter Of the Church of England

1706

First English translation of Le Clerc’s ‘Eloge de feu Mr. Locke’ appears as The Life and Character of Mr. John Locke; English translation by T.F.P. Gent.

20 April 1708

Masham dies at Bath at the age of forty-nine and is buried in Bath Abbey.

1747

Publication of Masham’s Occasional Thoughts under the new title Thoughts on a Christian Life, attributed erroneously to Locke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Primary sources guide

Lady Masham published two philosophical treatises in her lifetime, both of which appeaed anonymously: A Discourse Concerning the Love of God (1696) and Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian Life (1705.) Each work was misattributed to Locke at some point. For example, already in 1705, Abel Boyer misattributed the Occasional Thoughts to Locke, and the second edition of the work in 1747 was published with John Locke as the author.

The Discourse was published anonymously for the first and only time in English in 1696; a French translation by Pierre Coste was published anonymously as Discours sur l'Amour Divin in 1705 in Amsterdam. The latter was subsequently reprinted in Amsterdam by another publisher in 1715. The 1705 edition was prefaced by a letter to 'Madame Masham,' in which Coste does not directly identify her as the author, but some scholars interpret as hinting at her authorship. In 1705, Jean Le Clerc published a review of the Discours in his Bibliothèque Choisie in 1705, but he also does not identify Masham as the author, even though the review is favorable.

Discours sur l'Amour Divin, 1715 Amsterdam

It was only in 2004 that Masham’s works were printed again as facsimile reprints, with an introduction by James Buickerood. Since then, only two modern text transcriptions of Occasional Thoughts have appeared (Hard Press and Project Gutenberg.) There are no modern text transcriptions of the Discourse. There is no modern critical edition of Masham’s works.

 

Content of treatises

Scholars sometime present the Discourse as a critical response prompted by a contemporary debate between John Norris (1657 – 1711), a British theologian, philosopher and proponent of Malebranche’s philosophy, and Mary Astell (1666 – 1731), another Britisher philosopher. Their correspondence was published as the Letters Concerning the Love of God (1695) and Astell also published her views on female education in A Serious Proposal Part I (1694). Following the publication of Masham’s Discours, Astell published The Christian Religion as Professed by a Daughter of the Church (1705). Some scholars interpret this is a response to Masham, and Masham’s Occasional Thoughts as the subsequent response to Astell. There is scholarly controversy, however, on whether and to what extent Masham specifically critiques these two scholars (Buickerood, 2005.)

Either way, in the Discourse Masham discusses moral philosophy, specifically the nature of divine love, happiness and moral virtue. She examines the definition and origin of love, and the distinction between the human love for God and our love for other creatures. She also discusses Malebranche’s metaphysics and occasionalism. Masham’s second work, Occasional Thoughts, is also concerned with moral philosophy, such as the relationship between religion and ethics, but focuses on the relationship between women’s education and Christian virtue.

Occasional Thoughts, 1705 London

 

Spreadsheet overview: Excel file

EndNote library: forthcoming

 

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2.1 Primary sources


Published anonymously

1696. A Discourse Concerning the Love of God. London: Printed for Awnsham and John Churchil at the Black-Swan in Paternoster-Row.

1705. Discours sur l'Amour Divin: où l'on Explique ce que c'est, & où l'on Fait Voir les Mauvaises Conséquences des Explications Trop Subtiles que l'on en Donne. Traduit de l'Anglois par Pierre Coste. Amsterdam: H. Schelte.

1715. Discours sur l'Amour Divin: où l'on Explique ce que c'est, & où l'on Fait Voir les Mauvaises Conséquences des Explications Trop Subtiles que l'on en Donne. Traduit de l'Anglois par Pierre Coste. Amsterdam: Chez Pierre de Coup. (Note: This is a reprint by a different publisher. )

1705. Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian Life. London: Printed for A. and J. Churchil at the Black-Swan in Paternoster-Row.



Second edition of Occasional Thoughts misattributed to John Locke

1747. [Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian life.] Thoughts on a Christian life. By John Locke, Esq. London: Printed for T. Waller, at the Crown and Mitre, opposite Fetter-lane, in Fleet-street.



Primary sources online

Please note that access to the online databases below is proprietary. The Project Gutenberg edition of Occasional Thoughts is freely accessible online.

 

1696. A Discourse Concerning the Love of God. In Early English Books Online Database: copy of 1696 original from the British Library. Has both modern text and images.

1705. Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian life. In Eighteenth Century Collections Online Database, Gale Group: copy of 1705 original from the British Library.

1747. [Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian life.] Thoughts on a Christian life. By John Locke, Esq. In Eighteenth Century Collections Online Database, Gale Group: copy of 1747 original from the British Library.

2004. Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Virtuous or Christian Life. In Project Gutenberg (online resource), edited by Anna C. Haugen, Frank Van Drogen and Victoria Dean-Woosley. Published August 25, 2004. E-book 13285.



Modern editions of primary sources

As far as we are aware, there is no modern text transcription of the Discourse, either in English or in French.

 

Anonymous, ed. 2006. Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian Life. San Bernadino, CA: Hard Press.

Note: Modern transcription of Occasional Thoughts. There is no editorial information and we could not find a contact for the publishing company.

 

Buickerood, James G., ed. 2004. The Philosophical Works of Damaris, Lady Masham. Bristol: Thoemmes Press.

Note: Facsimile reprint of Occasional Thoughts and the Discourse, with introduction by James Buickerood.

 

Haugen, Anna C., Frank Van Drogen, and Victoria Dean-Woosley, eds. 2004. Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Virtuous or Christian Life. Project Gutenberg (online resource). August 25, 2004. E-book 13285.

Note: Modern transcription of Occasional Thoughts.

 

Meyer, Ursula, ed. 2014. Gedanken Über die Vernunft. Aachen: ein-Fach-Verl.

Note: Introduction by Ursula Meyer. Translated into German by Petra von Altschuh-Riederer.



Review of the Discours by Jean Le Clerc

Original: Le Clerc, Jean. 1705. "Traité de l'Amour Divin." In Bibliothèque Choisie, pour Servir de Suite a la Bibliothèque Universelle, Tome 7, edited by Jean Le Clerc, pp. 383-90 (item 10). Amsterdam: H. Schelte.

Modern reprint: Le Clerc, Jean. 1968. "Article X. Discours sur l'Amour Divin." In Bibliothèque Choisie, pour Servir de Suite à la Bibliothèque Universelle, edited by Jean Le Clerc, pp. 210-212. Geneve: Slatkine Reprints.

Online access: via Google Books and Hathi Trust.

Slatkine reprint in French: 2.1.1 PDF file forthcoming

English translation: forthcoming



Contemporary historical sources

Ballard’s Memoirs contains a biography of Masham. Boyer’s History attributes Masham’s Occasional Thoughts to Locke. The two works are available in the Eighteenth Century Collections Online database. Please note that access to the database is proprietary.


Ballard, G. 1775. Memoirs of British Ladies, Who Have Been Celebrated for their Writings or Skill in the Learned Languages, Arts and Sciences. London: Printed for T. Evans, in the Strand, Near York-Buildings.

Boyer, Abel. 1705. The History of the Reign of Queen Anne, Digested into Annals. Year the Third. London: printed for A. Roper, at the Black Boy against St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet-Street.



The original text of Ballard’s biography is available via:

Google Books

Hathi Trust (Duke University original)

Hathi Trust (Princeton University original)


Digital copy from Duke University and Internet Archive: PDF file



Modern edition of Ballard

Ballard, George, and Ruth Perry, editors. 1985. Memoirs of British Ladies, Who Have Been Celebrated for their Writings or Skill in the Learned Languages, Arts and Sciences. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Secondary sources guide

The following is an attempt to identify a complete list of references pertaining to Masham to date. The scholarly literature is not as vast as for some of the other philosophers, such as Cavendish and Du Châtelet, but recent years have seen a renewed interest in Masham’s philosophy and her relationship to philosophers such as Leibniz and Locke.

An authoritative intellectual history of Masham’s life and philosophy has not yet been published, although new scholarship is forthcoming.


Introductory resources

A helpful starting point for students and instructors who are just beginning to explore Masham’s life and philosophy are:

 

Jacqueline Broad’s chapter on Masham in her Women Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century (2002)

James Buickerood’s introduction to The Philosophical Works of Damaris Masham (2004)

Lois Frankel’s article in Hypatia (1989) and chapter on Masham and Locke in An Unconventional History of Western Philosophy: Conversations between Men and Women Philosophers edited by Karen Warren (1991)

Sarah Hutton’s publications, including her article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

 

 

 

 

3.1 Secondary sources

Reference works & encyclopedia articles

Anonymous. 1990. "Masham, Damaris (Cudworth), Lady, 1658-1708." In The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present, edited by Virginia Blain, Patricia Clements and Isobel Grundy, pp. 724-5. London: Batsford.

Atherton, Margaret. 2002. "Women Philosophers in Early Modern England." In A Companion to Early Modern Philosophy, edited by Steven M. Nadler. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Buickerood, James G. 1999. "Masham, Damaris (1658-1708)." In The Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century British philosophers, edited by John Valdimir Price, J. N. Stephens and John W. Yolton, pp. 599-601. Bristol: Thoemmes.

______.2000. "Masham, Damaris." In The Dictionary of Seventeenth-Century British Philosophers, 2 vols, edited by Andrew Pyle, pp. 559-62. Bristol: Thoemmes.

Dear, Jennie. 1998. "Damaris Masham." In An Encyclopedia of British Women Writers, edited by June Schlueter and Paul Schlueter. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Fletcher, Kate. 2002. "Damaris Cudworth, Lady Masham (18 January 1659 - 20 April 1708)." In British Philosophers, 1500-1799, edited by Philip B. Dematteis and Peter S. Fosl, pp. 259-263. Detroit, MI: Gale.

Hill, Bridget. 2006. "Masham , Damaris, Lady Masham (1658–1708)." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by Lawrence Goldman. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hutton, Sarah. 2014. "Lady Damaris Masham." In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Link.

Kersey, Ethel M. 1989. "Masham, Damaris Cudworth, Lady." In Women Philosophers: a Bio-critical Source Book, edited by Ethel M. Kersey, pp. 154-5. New York: Greenwood Press.

Knights, Mark. 2002. "Masham, Sir Francis, 3rd Bt. (c.1646-1723), of Otes, High Laver, Essex." In The House of Commons, 1690-1715: the History of the Parliament , edited by Eveline Cruickshanks, Stuart Handley and David Hayton. New York: Cambridge University Press for the History of Parliament Trust. Link.

Moore, Teri. 1983. "Masham, Damaris Lady (1658-1708)" In Biographical Dictionary of British women, edited by Anne Crawford, pp. 286-7. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co.

Rizzo, Renata. 1987. "Masham, Damaris Lady (1658-1708)." In A Dictionary of British and American Women Writers, 1660-1800, edited by Janet Todd. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Littlefield.




Secondary sources in philosophy

Acworth, Richard. 2006. "Cursory Reflections upon an Article Entitled ‘What is it with Damaris, Lady Masham?’." Locke Studies: An Annual Journal of Locke Research 6: 189-197.

Baker, Kathleen Celia. 2005. "Lady Damaris Masham: An Appraisal of a Seventeenth-Century Gentlewoman." PhD Thesis in Literature, Department of Literature, University of Essex.

Broad, Jacqueline. 2002. Women Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

______. 2003. "Adversaries or Allies? Occasional Thoughts on the Masham-Astell Exchange." Eighteenth-Century Thought 1: 123-149.

______. 2006. "A Woman's Influence? John Locke and Damaris Masham on Moral Accountability." Journal of the History of Ideas 67 (3): 489-510.

______. Forthcoming. "Damaris Masham on Women and Liberty of Conscience." In Feminist History of Philosophy: The Recovery and Evaluation of Women’s Philosophical Thought, edited by Eileen O'Neill and Marcy Lascano, Dordrecht: Springer, forthcoming.

Buickerood, James G. 2004. "Introduction." In The Philosophical Works of Damaris, Lady Masham, edited by James G. Buickerood, pp. 5-45. Bristol: Thoemmes Press.

______. 2005. "What Is It with Damaris, Lady Masham? The Historiography of One Early Modern Woman Philosopher." Locke Studies: An Annual Journal of Locke Research 5: 179-214.

Ezell, Margaret J. M. 2001. "'Household Affaires Are the Opium of the Soul': Damaris Masham and the Necessity of Women's Poetry." In Write or Be Written: Early Modern Women Poets and Cultural Constraints, edited by Barbara Smith and Ursula Appelt, pp. 49-65. Aldershot, England: Ashgate.

Frankel, Lois. 1989. "Damaris Cudworth Masham: A Seventeenth Century Feminist Philosopher." Hypatia 4 (1): 80-90.

______. 1991. "Damaris Cudworth Masham." In A History of Women Philosophers: Modern Women Philosophers, 1600-1900, vol. 3, edited by Mary Ellen Waithe, pp. 73-85. Dordrecht, Netherlands; Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

______. 2009. "Masham and Locke: Reason, Religion, and Education." In An Unconventional History of Western Philosophy: Conversations between Men and Women Philosophers, edited by Karen Warren, pp. 245-258. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Goldie, Mark. 2004. John Locke and the Mashams at Oates. Cambridge: Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

Hammou, Philippe. 2008. "Enthousiasme et Nature Humaine: à propos d'une Lettre de Locke à Damaris Cudworth." Revue de Métaphysique et Morale 3: 337-350.

Hutton, Sarah. 1993. "Damaris Cudworth, Lady Masham: Between Platonism and Enlightenment." British Journal for the History of Philosophy 1 (1): 29-54.

______. 2010. "Damaris Masham." In The Continuum Companion to Locke, edited by P. Schuurman and S.J. Savonius Wroth, pp. 72-6. London & New York: Continuum Press.

______. 2013. "Debating the Faith: Damaris Masham (1658-1708) and Religious Controversy " In Debating the Faith Religion and Letter-Writing in Great Britain, 1550-1800, edited by Anne Dunan-Page and Clotilde Prunier, pp. 159-175. Dordrecht: Springer.

______. 2014. "Religion and Sociability in the Correspondence of Damaris Masham (1658-1708)." In Religion and Women in Britain, c. 1660-1760, edited by S. L. T. editor Apetrei, pp. 117-130. Fanrham, Surrey: Ashgate.

Kyler, Karl Blake. 2013. "Discourse Concerning the Love of God via Damaris Masham." MA Thesis in Philosophy, Philosophy Department, San Diego State University.

Lascano, Marcy P. 2011. "Damaris Masham and ‘The Law of Reason or Nature’." The Modern Schoolman 88 (3/4): 245-265.

Laslett, Peter. 1953. "Masham of Otes." History Today 3: 535-543.

Leyden, W. von. 1952. "Notes Concerning Papers of John Locke in the Lovelace Collection." The Philosophical Quarterly 2 (6): 63-69.

Myers, Joanne E. 2013. "Enthusiastic Improvement: Mary Astell and Damaris Masham on Sociability." Hypatia 28 (3): 533-550.

O'Donnell, Sheryl. 1979. "Mr Locke and the Ladies: the Indelible Words on the Tabula Rasa." Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 8: 151-64.

______. 1984. "'My Idea in Your Mind': John Locke and Damaris Cudworth Masham." In Mothering the Mind: Twelve Studies of Writers and Their Silent Partners, edited by Ruth Perry and Martine Watson Brownley, pp. 26-46. New York: Holmes & Meier.

Penaluna, Regan. 2007. "The Social and Political Thought of Damaris Cudworth Masham." In Virtue, Liberty, and Toleration: Political Ideas of European Women, 1400-1800, edited by Jacqueline Broad and Karen Green, pp. 111-122. Dordrecht: Springer.

Phemister, Pauline. 2004. " ‘All the Time and Everywhere Everything's the Same as Here’: The Principle of Uniformity in the Correspondence Between Leibniz and Lady Masham." In Leibniz and his correspondents, edited by Paul Lodge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ready, Kathryn J. 2002. "Damaris Cudworth Masham, Catharine Trotter Cockburn, and the Feminist Legacy of Locke's Theory of Personal Identity." Eighteenth-Century Studies 35 (4): 563-576.

Simonutti, Luisa. 1987. "Damaris Cudworth Masham: una Lady della Repubblica delle Lettere." In Scritti in Onore di Eugenio Garin, pp. 141-165. Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore.

Sleigh, Robert C. 2005. "Reflections on the Masham-Leibniz Correspondence." In Early Modern Philosophy: Mind, Matter, and Metaphysics, edited by Christia Mercer and Eileen O'Neill. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Springborg, Patricia. 1998. "Astell, Masham, and Locke: Religion and Politics." In Women Writers and the Early Modern British Political Tradition, edited by Hilda L. Smith and Carole Pateman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Taylor, E. Derek. 2001. "Mary Astell's Ironic Assault on John Locke's Theory of Thinking Matter." Journal of the History of Ideas 62 (3): 505-522.

Weinberg, Sue. 1998. "Damaris Cudworth Masham: A Learned Lady of the Seventeenth Century." In Norms and Values: Essays on the Work of Virginia Held. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Widmaier, Rita. 1986. "Korrespondenten von G. W. Leibniz: 8. Damaris Masham, geb. Cudworth geb. 18. Januar 1658 in Cambridge -gest. 20. April 1708 in Oates." Studia Leibnitiana 18 (2): 211-227.

Wilson, Catherine. 2004. "Love of God and Love of Creatures: The Masham-Astell Debate." History of Philosophy Quarterly 21 (3): 281-298.

Woolhouse, Roger. 2003. "Lady Masham's Account of Locke." Locke Studies: An Annual Journal of Locke Research 3: 167-193.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Philosophy & Teaching

This section is forthcoming. Our team is working with the Advisory Board on materials interpreting Cavendish’s philosophical work and accompanying teaching materials.In the meantime, please see the Teaching section of the website for sample syllabi.

A useful teaching resource on Masham and Locke is Karen Warren’s and Lois Frankel’s chapter in Warren’s edition An Unconventional History of Western Philosophy: Conversations Between Men and Women Philosophers (2009). This includes an introduction by Warren, excerpts of writings by Locke and Masham, a commentary by Frankel, and student-friendly “questions for reflection.”

 

 

 

 

5. Correspondence

Masham’s friendship with Locke and his subsequent residence at her manor house in Oates introduced her to key philosophical figures in England, as well as Locke’s friends from his period of exile on the Continent, especially in the Netherlands. She was thus in a unique position as an English woman to participate in the “Republic of Letters.” Her international contacts through Locke enabled her to engage with some of the leading European thinkers of her era, such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, John Le Clerc, Pierre Bayle, and Philip Van Limborch.

The most extensive personal and philosophical extant correspondence is between Masham and John Locke, from his period in exile, 1683–1688. The most philosophically focused extant correspondence is between Masham and Leibniz from 1703–1704. There is also extant correspondence with Jean Le Clerc, Philip Van Limborch and the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury.

Masham was also most likely in correspondence with John Norris, and through Jean Le Clerc with Pierre Bayle. Pierre Coste, her French translator, was at residence as her son’s tutor from 1698.

Spreadsheet of extant correspondence: Excel file

 

 

 

 

5.1 Correspondence with G.W. Leibniz

Masham’s extant correspondence with the German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) comprises twelve letters, written by both Masham and Leibniz, with Masham writing in English and Leibniz in French. The letters have philosophical content. It is possible that Pierre Coste translated Masham’s letters into French. The letters are published in French and English in volume three of Die Philosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1875), edited by C.I. Gerhardt. The Leibniz-Forchungsstelle (Leibniz Research Center) in Münster, Germany, is in the process of publishing a new critical edition of the Complete Writings and Letters (the Academy Edition) of Leibniz's works. Series II, Philosophical Correspondence, includes the Masham letters. 

Masham’s side of the correspondence in English is reprinted in its entirety in Margaret Atherton’s Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period (1994). An abridged translation of the first seven letters in the correspondence is available in R.S. Woolhouse and Richard Franck’s Leibniz's 'New System' and Associated Contemporary Texts (1997). To date, this is the only partial English translation of Leibniz’s letters. Our team is currently working on translating all of Leibniz’s letters into English, and on editing the Masham letters.

A full English version of the entire correspondence is forthcoming.

Image of Leibniz is forthcoming. 

 

Manuscripts & digitization

The correspondence is now fully digitized by the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Bibliothek / Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hannover, Germany. 

Manuscript reference: LBr. 612

Two of the letters are available below, with the permission of the Bibliothek:

Masham to Leibniz, 3 June 1704

Leibniz to Masham, 10 July 1705


Contents of correspondence

The correspondence began at the end of 1703 or early 1704, when Leibniz learned that Masham intended to send him a copy of her father Ralph Cudworth’s work, The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678). It is not clear exactly why Masham intended to send him the work. Some scholars suggest that Leibniz entered into correspondence with Masham because he had previously been unsuccessful in corresponding with Locke, and might have hoped to engage with Locke through Masham (Phemister, 2004). In any case, the correspondence begins with Leibniz thanking Masham for her soon-to-arrive gift, and then proceeds to focus on Masham’s requests for clarifications of Leibniz’s system, especially what she calls his “hypothesis” of pre-established harmony. In letter two, Masham indicates that she read Leibniz’s views in an article published in the Journal des Savans (1695) and Pierre Bayle’s article ‘Rorarius’ in the first edition of his Dictionnaire Historique et Critique (1697).

Although Masham was most likely working on her treatise Occasional Thoughts (1705) at the time of the correspondence, no mention is made of it. The correspondence discusses topics such as Cudworth’s doctrine of plastic natures, Leibniz’s pre-established harmony, Leibniz’s Principle of Uniformity, mind-body interaction, occasionalism, forms, substance, non-extended substance, force, the possibility of thinking matter, Locke’s ideas of reflection, and free will.


Gerhardt edition of the correspondence, courtesy of Duke University Library: PDF file

Online access via Hathi Trust.

Spreadsheet overview: Excel file



Contents of letters

Letter no. 

Date

Author

Topics mentioned

1

Dec 1703 / 1704

Leibniz

Cudworth’s Intellectual System; Leibniz’s pre-established harmony; the ‘Rorarius’ article’; Lady Anne Conway.

2

29 March 1704

Masham

Cudworth’s Intellectual System; Masham asks for clarification of Leibniz’s forms, mentions that Locke is staying with her.

3

beg. May 1704

Leibniz

Cudworth’s Intellectual System; Leibniz’s Principle of Uniformity; clarification of Leibniz’s forms; simple beings; minds as not separate from matter; pre-established harmony; Epicureans; Pierre Bayle; asks Masham to relay his respects to Locke and hopes for his instruction.

3a

c. 8 May 1704

(Leibniz to Queen Sophie Charlotte)

Cudworth’s Intellectual System; Pierre Bayle and ‘Rorarius’ article; Principle of Uniformity; simple substance; interaction between soul and matter; Malebranche and modern Cartesians; pre-established harmony.

4

3 June 1704

Masham

 

Leibniz’s system as a hypothesis; simple beings; pre-established harmony; interaction between soul and matter; Malebranche’s occasionalism; forms; force; request for Leibniz’s instruction.

5

30 June 1704

Leibniz

 

Hypotheses and theories; magnetism; miracles; union of soul and body; occasionalism; pre-established harmony; Locke’s exchange with Bishop Stillingfleet on the possibility of thinking matter; organism as a natural machine; primary force as principle of action; non-extended substance; Locke’s ideas of reflection.

6

8 August 1704

Masham

Organism as essential to matter; primary force as principle of action; perception; extension; non-extended substance; thinking matter; free will; Locke’s deteriorating health.

7

16 September 1704

Leibniz

Skepticism/Pyrrhonism; non-extended substance; thinking matter; Locke on free will.

8

7 Oct n.st.1704

Leibniz

Locke on the production of matter in Essay 4.10.

9

 

24 Nov 1704

Masham

Locke’s death; Locke on production of matter; list of Locke’s works that he donated to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University; Locke’s Reasonableness of Christianity; Pierre Coste as translator of Locke’s Reasonableness and the Essay.

10

 

10 July 1705

Leibniz

Death of Sophie Charlotte, Queen of Prussia; death of Locke; Locke’s rational Christianity; simple substances; non-extended substances; necessary truths as innate; sensory observations; Cudworth’s doctrine of plastic natures and Bayle’s criticisms thereof; Cudworth’s Intellectual System; Hylozoic hypothesis; plastic natures; Democritus; Descartes; atomism.

11

 

20 Oct 1705

Masham

Death of Sophie Charlotte, Queen of Prussia; death of Locke; debate between Jean Le Clerc and Pierre Bayle on Cudworth’s plastic natures; Bayle’s objection that Cudworth’s system leads to atheism; modern Cartesianism; occasionalism; atheism.

12

 

?

Leibniz

Death of Sophie Charlotte, Queen of Prussia; Pierre Bayle’s objections to Leibniz; Jean Le Clerc; occasionalism; plastic natures; miracles; atheism; divine wisdom; God as divine clockmaker.




Manuscripts

Our team is in the process of verifying extant manuscripts. Research forthcoming.



Modern editions of the letters

Atherton, Margaret. 1994. Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Indianapolis: Hackett.

Gerhardt, C. I., ed. 1875. Die Philosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Vol. 3. Berlin: Weidmann. (pp. 332-375) Online access via Hathi Trust.

Woolhouse, R. S., and Richard Francks. 1997. Leibniz's 'New System' and Associated Contemporary Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press.




Relevant secondary sources

Aiton, E. J. 1985. Leibniz: a Biography. Bristol: A. Hilger. (See pp. 276-279)

Brown, Stuart C., and Pauline Phemister, eds. 2007. Leibniz and the English-Speaking World. Dordrecht: Springer.

Cardoso, Adelino, and Maria Luísa Ribeiro Ferreira, eds. 2010. Correspondência entre G. W. Leibniz e Lady Masham. Lisboa: Centro de Filosofia da Univ.

Orio de Miguel, Bernardino. 1995. "La Nature Nous Monstre Visiblement Quelques Echantillons, Selon sa Costume, Pour Nous Aider à Deviner ce qu'Elle Cache: (Leibniz à Lady Masham, Mayo 1704. GP. III, 340)." In G. W. Leibniz: Analogia y Expresion, edited by Quintín Racionero, pp. 331-342. Madrid: Complutense.

Phemister, Pauline. 2004. "All the Time and Everywhere Everything's the Same as Here": The Principle of Uniformity in the Correspondence Between Leibniz and Lady Masham." In Leibniz and his Correspondents, edited by Paul Lodge, pp. 193-213. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Phemister, Pauline, and Justin Smith. 2007. "Leibniz and the Cambridge Platonists: the Debate Over Plastic Natures." In Leibniz and the English-Speaking World, edited by Stuart C. Brown and Pauline Phemister, pp. 95-110. Dordrecht: Springer.

Sleigh, Robert C. 2005. "Reflections on the Masham-Leibniz Correspondence." In Early Modern Philosophy: Mind, Matter, and Metaphysics, edited by Christia Mercer and Eileen O’Neill. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Widmaier, Rita. 1986. "Korrespondenten von G. W. Leibniz: 8. Damaris Masham, geb. Cudworth geb. 18. Januar 1658 in Cambridge -gest. 20. April 1708 in Oates." Studia Leibnitiana 18 (2): 211-227.

 

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

5.2 Correspondence with John Locke

Masham’s extant correspondence with the philosopher John Locke (from 1682-1688) contains forty-five letters, most of them written by Masham. The letters have mostly personal, but also some theological and philosophical, content. They offer a glimpse into Masham’s personal relations with Locke and her social role as the lady of the manor, as well as her philosophical views on issues such as the existence of God and the role of reason in religion. Masham and Locke address each under the noms de plume Philoclea and Philander, and many scholars interpret the personal content of the letters as pointing to a platonic romantic attachment between the two. They met sometime in 1681, but Locke fled to the Continent in September 1683, and so most of the extant letters come from the period of his exile. A few letters remain from the 1690s, but Locke took up residence with the Mashams at Oates in December 1690 and lived with them until his death in 1704, thus eliminating the need for frequent letter writing.



John Locke by Herman Verelst, 1689

 

De Beer edition

The letters are published in volumes two-to-six in the series of eight volumes of the canonical edition of E.S. De Beer, The Correspondence of John Locke (1976). They can also be found in the (proprietary) Intelex Past Masters and Electronic Enlightenment online databases. The De Beer edition contains:

  • 41 letters from Masham to Locke (also, one non-extant letter is mentioned)
  • 4 letters from Locke to Masham, plus one poem
  • 6 other social letters: two from John Covel to Masham, one from Edward Clarke to Masham, one from Edward Clarke to Locke mentioning the non-extant letter mentioned above, and one anonymous letter to Masham, possibly from a publisher.

A table map of the correspondence can be found in the downloadable spreadsheet below. The information is from the Electronic Enlightenment online edition of the De Beer volumes. Please note that the spreadsheet has four worksheets, which sort the data according to author.

Spreadsheet overview: Excel file



Table of contents for the De Beer edition

From Intelex Past Masters:

“This index is by the numbers of the letters, italics being used as in the text to indicate letters not by Locke. A bracketed number is either for a letter between persons other than Locke, in which case it appears under the names of both writer (or writers) and person addressed, or for an item other than a letter. If there is correspondence in earlier or later volumes between Locke and a person in this index it is indicated by the citation of the next volume or volumes in which any of it occurs. The citation immediately following a name is that of a biographical note on the person.”

 

Volume 2: Cudworth, Damaris, later Lady Masham (ii. 470-2): 677, 684, 687, 688, 690, 693, 695, 696, 699, 704, 710, 714, 720, 726, 730, 731, 734, 740, 744, (751), (752), 760, 763, 779, 784, 787, 805, 815, 823; as Lady Masham: 827, 830, 837, 839, 847; vol. iii.

Volume 3: Masham, Lady: vol. ii; 870, 882, 896, 930, 942, 950, 967, 975, 1003, 1040; vol. iv.

Volume 4: Masham, Lady: vol. iii; 1322, (1416); vol. v.

Volume 5: Masham, Lady: vol. iv; (2042), (2063); vol. vi.

Volume 6: Masham, Lady: vol. iv; 2280, (2323), (2347).



Contents of correspondence

The correspondence contains some discussion of theological and philosophical topics. For example, the letters begin with a discussion of the relationship between faith and reason. Masham and Locke examine John Smith’s essay ‘On the true way or method of attaining divine knowledge’ contained in his work Select Discourses (1660), the role of reason in the knowledge of God, and religious enthusiasm. The correspondence continues with Masham’s interest in the doctrines and lifestyles associated with various religious movements that Locke encountered on the Continent, such as Labadism and Quakerism. The letters also make reference to Cambridge Platonists and Stoicism, and discuss works that some scholars have identified as Pierre Bayle’s Commentaire Philosophique (1686-7) and Locke’s abridged version of his Essay in French, the Abrégé d’un Ouvrage Intitulé Essay Philosophique Touchant l’Entendment (1688). In the last and one of the longest letters of the correspondence (number 1040), Masham discusses topics such as the proof for the existence of God, the idea of eternity, innate knowledge, and primary and secondary qualities.

The following table provides an overview of some of the philosophically and theologically relevant topics in the correspondence, as identified by James Buickerood (see below for citations):

Topic

Letter Number

Bayle’s Commentaire Philosophique

1003, cf. 967, 975

Cambridge Platonists

690, 693, 695, 882, 1040

Cartesians

882

Enthusiasm

684, 687, 688, 690, 695, 696, 699, 704

Familists

784

Labadists

779, 784, 787, 805, 827, 943

Locke’s Abrege

1040

Smith and enthusiasm

684, 687, 688, 690, 693, 695, 699

Stoicism

704, 710, 714, 720, 745, 779, 787, 805, 823, 942

Human capacity between vision and reason

684, cf. 699, 830

Quakers

1336, 1345, and MS. Locke c. 7, ff. 202-203.

Toleration of divergent beliefs

1030

Virtue and friendship

704, 827, 1040

Works of Cambridge Platonists and other scholars

684, 688, 690, 695, 699, 779, 784, 830, 837, 882, 950, 967, 975, 1003, 1040

 

 

References

Buickerood, James G. 2004. "Introduction." In The Philosophical Works of Damaris, Lady Masham, edited by James G. Buickerood, pp. 5-45. Bristol: Thoemmes Press.

______. 2005. "What is it with Damaris, Lady Masham? The Historiography of One Early Modern Woman Philosopher." Locke Studies 5: 179-214.



Manuscripts

Please see the downloadable spreadsheet above for a list of the manuscript sources for each letter.



Modern reprints of the letters

De Beer, E. S., ed. 1976. The Correspondence of John Locke. Vol. 2-6. The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Note: The electronic version of the correspondence is available in Intelex Past Masters and the Electronic Enlightenment online (proprietary) databases.



Relevant secondary sources

Broad, Jacqueline. 2006. "A Woman's Influence? John Locke and Damaris Masham on Moral Accountability." Journal of the History of Ideas 67 (3): 489-510.

Buickerood, James G. 2004. "Introduction." In The Philosophical Works of Damaris, Lady Masham, edited by James G. Buickerood, pp. 5-45. Bristol: Thoemmes Press.

Buickerood, James G. 2005. "What is it with Damaris, Lady Masham? The Historiography of One Early Modern Woman Philosopher." Locke Studies 5: 179-214.

Frankel, Lois. 2009. "Masham and Locke: Reason, Religion, and Education." In An Unconventional History of Western Philosophy: Conversations between Men and Women Philosophers, edited by Karen Warren, pp. 245-258. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Goldie, Mark. 2004. John Locke and the Mashams at Oates. Cambridge: Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

Hammou, Philippe. 2008. "Enthousiasme et Nature Humaine: à Propos d'une Lettre de Locke à Damaris Cudworth." Revue de Métaphysique et Morale 3: 337-350.

Moore, Terence. 2013. "John Locke and Damaris Masham, née Cudworth: Questions of Influence." Think: Philosophy for Everyone 12 (34): 97-108.

O'Donnell, Sheryl. 1979. "Mr Locke and the Ladies: the Indelible Words on the Tabula Rasa." Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 8: 151-64.

O'Donnell, Sheryl. 1984. "'My Idea in Your Mind': John Locke and Damaris Cudworth Masham." In Mothering the Mind: Twelve Studies of Writers and Their Silent Partners, edited by Ruth Perry and Martine Watson Brownley, pp. 26-46. New York: Holmes & Meier.

Ready, Kathryn J. 2002. "Damaris Cudworth Masham, Catharine Trotter Cockburn, and the Feminist Legacy of Locke's Theory of Personal Identity." Eighteenth-Century Studies 35 (4): 563-576.

Springborg, Patricia. 1998. "Astell, Masham, and Locke: Religion and Politics." In Women Writers and the Early Modern British Political Tradition, edited by Hilda L. Smith and Carole Pateman, pp. 105-125. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Warren, Karen. 2009. "Locke and Masham: Introduction." In An Unconventional History of Western Philosophy: Conversations between Men and Women Philosophers, edited by Karen Warren, pp. 223-244. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

 

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

5.3 Correspondence with Jean Le Clerc

Jean Le Clerc, also known as Johannes Clericus (1657-1736), was a Swiss theologian, biblical scholar and editor who moved from Geneva to Amsterdam because of his radical interpretations of the Bible. He exerted great intellectual influence in the Netherlands and France, where he edited the scholarly journals Bibliothèque Universelle and Bibliothèque Choisie, and he was instrumental in spreading Cudworth’s, Locke’s and Masham’s philosophical ideas on the Continent. Le Clerc originally published extracts of The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1671), written by Masham’s father, Ralph Cudworth, in the Bibliothèque Choisie. Masham knew Le Clerc through Locke, who had met him during his exile in Europe. Masham sent Le Clerc a copy of her father’s work in 1699; part of the correspondence concerns this publication. Le Clerc also sent Masham copies of the volumes of the Bibliothèque Choisie containing the extracts of her father’s work.

The True Intellectual System of the Universe, 1678 London

 

In 1705, Le Clerc reviewed Masham's Discourse in Bibliothèque Choisie:

Le Clerc, Jean. 1705. "Traité de l'Amour Divin." In Bibliothèque Choisie, pour Servir de Suite a la Bibliothèque Universelle, Tôme 7, edited by Jean Le Clerc, pp. 383-90 (item 10). Amsterdam: H. Schelte.

Traité de l'Amour Divin, 1705 Amsterdam


For a detailed overview of Masham’s extant correspondence, see:

Hutton, Sarah. 2013. "Debating the faith: Damaris Masham (1658-1708) and Religious Controversy " In Debating the Faith Religion and Letter-Writing in Great Britain, 1550-1800, edited by Anne Dunan-Page and Clotilde Prunier. Dordrecht: Springer.

 


Manuscripts

There are four extant letters from Masham to Le Clerc. She writes in English. Please note that our team plans to verify the manuscripts in person in the near future. The letters are reprinted in:

Sina, Mario, ed. 1987. Epistolario, Vol. 2. Le Corrispondenze Letterarie, Scientifiche ed Erudite dal Rinascimento allʼetà Moderna. Firenze: L.S. Olschki.

Date

Manuscripts at Amsterdam University Library

Sina reprint (1987)

18 June 1703

MS Amsterdam R.K., J 58

Letter 342, pg. 389-91

May 1704

MS Amsterdam R.K., J 57b

Letter 380, pg. 497-517

12 January 1705

(Account of Locke’s life, last page missing)

MS Amsterdam R.K., J 57a

Letter 364, pg. 445-47

21 June 1705

MS Amsterdam R.K., J 57c

Letter 395, pg. 558-560




Contents of correspondence

In the letter from 1703, Masham thanks Le Clerc for publishing an extract of her father’s work and for sending her a copy of the relevant volume of the Bibliothèque. She also mentions John Norris’s faux pas of calling her blind in the dedicatory preface to her in his Reflections Upon the Conduct of Human Life (1690). She also mentions her gift to Le Clerc of George Bulls’s Opera Omnia (1703).

In the letter from 1704, Masham discusses the fate of the manuscripts of her father’s work, the current debate on the Trinity, Socianism, and the relevance of the doctrinal debates for non-scholarly Christians.

In the letter from 1705, Masham responds to Le Clerc’s request for an account of Locke’s life by providing Locke’s biography. See below.

 

 

Interaction with Pierre Bayle

In addition, Le Clerc served as the intermediary for Masham’s response to Pierre Bayle’s (1647 – 1706) criticisms of her father’s work. Pierre Bayle was a French philosopher known for his biographical dictionary, Le Dictionnaire Historique et Critique (1697-1702). He discussed Cudworth’s notion of plastic natures and drew atheist implications from it. Le Clerc engaged Bayle in a debate on the issue. Masham did not get directly involved, but sent Le Clerc objections that he could use to reply to Bayle. She also discussed the controversy in her correspondence with Leibniz (see Section 5.1). Such an objection was apparently made in one non-extant letter, which is mentioned by Pierre Coste and Le Clerc, which Le Clerc forwarded to Bayle. Bayle did not reply directly to Masham, but did reply indirectly in the Histoire des Ouvrages des Savans (1704).


For the Bayle, Le Clerc and Masham debate on Cudworth see:

Colie, Rosalie. 1957. Light and Enlightenment: a Study of the Cambridge Platonists and the Dutch Arminians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Account of Locke's life

Masham wrote an account of Locke’s life for Le Clerc upon his request after Locke’s death in 1705. Le Clerc used Masham’s account, in addition to information sent to him by Lord Shaftesbury, to write Locke’s biography, the ‘Eloge de feu de Mr. Locke’, which was published in 1705 in the Bibliothèque Choisie and later as a foreword to the 1710 French translation of Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (first published in 1690). Masham’s account forms a substantial part of the biography. The biography was subsequently reprinted in many of the foreign language editions of Locke’s Essay, with Le Clerc’s French version serving as the main source of subsequent English translations. Masham’s original letter in English remains unpublished in manuscript form at the Amsterdam University Library. Unfortunately, the last page of the manuscript disappeared sometime in the 19th century.

Le Clerc’s 'Eloge de feu de Mr. Locke,' digital copy of Slatkine reprint (1968) - see reference below: PDF file

 


Publication chronology of account of Locke’s life

See Woolhouse (2003) for a detailed history of the publications:

Woolhouse, Roger. 2003. "Lady Masham's Account of Locke." Locke Studies 3: 167-193.



(1) Originals

Lady Masham to Jean Le Clerc. University Library of Amsterdam, MS. J.57a.

Shaftesbury, A., 3rd Earl of. 1705. Letter to Le Clerc Concerning Locke. University Library of Amsterdam. OTM. Fols: hs. J 20.



(2) French translation written by Le Clerc

Le Clerc, Jean. 1705. “Eloge de feu Mr. Locke.” Bibliothèque Choisie, pour Servir de Suite à la Bibliothèque Universelle. Tome 6: 342-411.

Locke, John. 1710. Oeuvres Diverses de Monsieur Jean Locke. Edited by Jean Le Clerc: Rotterdam, Chez Fritsch et Böhm.



(3) English translation of French version

Le Clerc, Jean. 1706. "The Life and Character of Mr. John Locke, Author of the Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. Written in French, by Mr. Le Clerc. And done into English, by T. F. P. Gent." London: Printed for John Clark at the Bible and Crown in the Old Change near St. Pauls. (Electronic resource: Eighteenth Century Collections Online proprietary database.)



(4) Recent reprints in English

Dousa, Janus. 1851. "Inedited Letter from the Earl of Shaftesbury, Author of the "Characteristics," to Le Clerc, Respecting Locke." Notes & Queries 3 (67): 97-99.

 

Colie, Rosalie. 1955. "Lady Masham to Jean Le Clerc." History of Ideas News Letter 1 (4):13-18 and Colie, Rosalie. 1956. "Lady Masham to Jean Le Clerc III." History of Ideas News Letter 2:35-37.

Note: Partial reprint from the 1706 English translation of Le Clerc’s obituary as “The Life and Character of Mr. John Locke.”

 

Rand, Benjamin, ed. 1900. The Life, Unpublished Letters, and Philosophical Regimen of Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury. New York: The Macmillan Co.

 

Yolton, Jean S., ed. 1990. A Locke miscellany: Locke Biography and Criticism for All. Bristol: Thoemmes.

Note: Partial reprint.

 

Woolhouse, Roger. 2003. "Lady Masham's Account of Locke." Locke Studies 3:167-193.

Note: Only full reprint in English.



Manuscripts for Masham's and Shaftesbury's account of Locke's life

Masham, Damaris. 1703-1705. Three Letters & Memoir of Locke from Damaris Cudworth to Jean Le Clerc. Bijzondere Collecties. Amsterdam University Library. J 58 verso. Fols: Signatuurreeks: J 58; J 57:a-c.

Shaftesbury, A., 3rd Earl of. 1705. Letter to Le Clerc Concerning Locke. Amsterdam University Library. OTM. Fols: hs. J 20.



Primary sources – Le Clerc’s account of Locke’s life

Le Clerc, Jean. 1705. "Eloge de Feu Mr. Locke." In Bibliothèque Choisie, pour Servir de Suite a la Bibliothèque Universelle, Tome 6, edited by Jean Le Clerc, pp. 342-411. Amsterdam: H. Schelte.

______. 1706. The Life and Character of Mr. John Locke, Author of the Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. Written in French, by Mr. Le Clerc. And done into English, by T.F.P. Gent. London: Printed for John Clark at the Bible and Crown in the Old Change near St. Pauls. And are to be had at J. Nutts near Stationers-Hall.

______, ed. 1710. Oeuvres Diverses de Monsieur Jean Locke. Rotterdam: Chez Fritsch et Böhm.

______, ed. 1714. An Account of the Life and Writings of John Locke Esq. London: Printed for J. Clarke in the Old-Change, and E. Curll at the Dial and Bible against St. Dunstan's Church in Fleetstreet.

______, ed. 1732. Oeuvres Diverses de Monsieur Locke. Nouvelle Edition Considérablement Augmentée. 2 Vols. Amsterdam: Chez Jean Frederic Bernard.

______. 1968. "Article V. Eloge de Feu Mr. Locke." In Bibliotheque Choisie, pour Servir de Suite á la Bibliotheque Universelle, edited by Jean Le Clerc. Geneve: Slatkine Reprints.

Moreri, Louis. 1717. "Locke, Jean." In Le Grand Dictionnaire Historique ou, Le Mélange Curieux de l'Histoire Sacrée et Profane, Tome 6, edited by Louis Moreri. Amsterdam: P. Brunel.

 


Modern reprints of Le Clerc correspondence

Colie, Rosalie. 1955. "Lady Masham's Letter to Jean Le Clerc of 12th of January 1705." History of Ideas Newsletter 1 (4): 13-18.

______. 1956. "Lady Masham's Letter to Jean Le Clerc of 12th of January 1705." History of Ideas Newsletter 2: 9-11, 35-7, 81-8.

Dousa, Janus. 1851. "Inedited Letter from the Earl of Shaftesbury, Author of the "Characteristics," to Le Clerc, Respecting Locke." Notes & Queries 3 (67): 97-99.

Rand, Benjamin, ed. 1900. The Life, Unpublished Letters, and Philosophical Regimen of Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury. New York: The Macmillan Co.

Le Clerc, Jean. 1987. Epistolario. In Le Corrispondenze Letterarie, Scientifiche ed Erudite dal Rinascimento allʼetà Moderna, edited by Mario Sina. Firenze: L.S. Olschki. (Letters 342, 364, 280 in Vol. 2: pp. 389-391, 445-7, 497-517.)

Woolhouse, Roger. 2003. "Lady Masham's Account of Locke." Locke Studies 3: 167-193.

Yolton, Jean S., ed. 1990. A Locke Miscellany: Locke Biography and Criticism for All. Bristol: Thoemmes.

 

Image of Jean Le Clerc forthcoming.

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.4 Correspondence with Philip Van Limborch

Philip Van Limborch (1633 – 1712) was a Dutch Remonstrant theologian and Professor of Theology in Amsterdam who became acquainted with Locke during his exile in the Netherlands. They continued their correspondence after Locke’s return to England. As it turned out, he had also been a friend of Masham’s father, Ralph Cudworth (1617 – 1688).

After Locke’s death at Oates on 28 October 1704, Masham contacted Van Limborch to solicit information about Locke’s life on the Continent as material for the biographical sketch of Locke requested by their mutual acquaintance Jean Le Clerc. Their correspondence took place between 1704 and 1705, with Masham writing in French and Van Limborch in Latin. Pierre Coste, who was at residence at Oates as Masham’s son’s tutor, and who translated Locke and Masham’s work into French, translated the letters into French. The letters are unpublished to date and are held at the Amsterdam University Library.

 

Sources

des Amorie van der Hoeven, Abraham. 1843. De Joanne Clerico et Philippo a Limborch: Dissertationes Duae; Adhibitus Epistolis Aliisque Scriptis Ineditis. Amstelodami: Fredericum Muller.

Note: Contains one letter—our team is researching this topic. Digital copy from Bayerische StaatsBibliothek.



Masham, Damaris. 1701-1705. Three Letters from Lady Masham to Philip van Limborch. Amsterdam University Library. Fols: MS M31c.

______. 1701-1706. Four Letters from Limborch, Philippus van to Damaris Cudworth, Lady Masham Amsterdam University Library. Fols: III D 16: fol. 53, 54, 55 verso en 215 verso.

Note: Reference from the Amsterdam University Library catalogue. These letters have not been cited so far in the literature. Our team is in the process of researching these letters.

 

Image of Van Limborch forthcoming.

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

5.5 Correspondence with Lord Shaftesbury

Antony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671 – 1713), was an English politician and philosopher. He was the grandson of Antony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (1621 - 1683), an English peer and politician, who was known as Lord Ashley from 1661 to 1672. Masham was acquainted with Lord Shaftesbury through Locke, who was a close friend of Lord Ashley, one of the richest men in England at the time.

Maurice Ashley-Cooper; Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury by John Closterman​,1702

Background

Locke met Lord Ashley in 1666 through a chance encounter occasioned by his friend Mr. Bennet. Lord Ashley was delighted by Locke’s company and Locke advised him to undergo a successful operation. Locke then became his physician, secretary, political colleague and personal friend. From 1667 – 1674, he took up residence at Lord Ashley’s Exeter House in London, and assisted at the birth of his son, the 2nd Earl of Shaftesbury. He later became the child’s tutor, teaching him according to the principles spelled out in his Thoughts Concerning Education. Sources mention that Locke’s methods were successful and the child was fluent in Latin and Greek by the age of eleven. He also arranged his marriage.

Lord Ashley’s grandson, the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, was well traveled and spent much time in the Netherlands. He was well acquainted with Locke’s Dutch intellectual circle, including Jean Le Clerc, Pierre Bayle and Philip Van Limborch.

 

Masham to Shaftesbury letters

Extant correspondence includes letters from Masham to Lord Shaftesbury. The letters remain unpublished and are housed at the Public Record Office in London. According to Hutton (2013), the correspondence does not cover philosophical or religious issues. Our team plans to examine the manuscripts in the future.

 

Reference

Hutton, Sarah. 2013. "Debating the Faith: Damaris Masham (1658-1708) and Religious Controversy " In Debating the Faith Religion and Letter-Writing in Great Britain, 1550-1800, edited by Anne Dunan-Page and Clotilde Prunier, pp. 159-175. Dordrecht: Springer.

 

Manuscript

Masham, Damaris. Letters to Shaftesbury. London, National Archives, Public Record Office. PRO 30/24/20. Fols: 266-7 & 273-4.




Account of Locke’s life

Lord Shaftesbury’s correspondence with John Le Clerc regarding Locke’s life is also relevant. Following Locke’s death in October 1704, Le Clerc requested that both Masham and Lord Shaftesbury provide him with details of Locke’s life for his biography in the Bibliothèque Choisie (see Section 5.3 for the Masham side of this correspondence and subsequent publication history). Lord Shaftesbury obliged. His account is available both in manuscript and modern reprint format.

Manuscript citations are from the Sina (1987) edition.

 

Letter

Date

Manuscripts

Sina reprint (1987)

Request from Jean Le Clerc to Lord Shaftesbury

 

9 January 1705

London Public Record Office, MS 30/24/27/19, ff. 1-2v.

Letter 379: pg. 496-497.

Lord Shaftesbury to Le Clerc

13 January 1705

London Public Record Office, MS 30/24/22/5, ff. 373-373v, and MS 30/24/22/2, ff. 154-155.

 

Letter 381: pg. 517-518

Lord Shaftesbury to Le Clerc

(Account of Locke’s life)

 

8 February 1705

Amsterdam University Library, MS. J 20

Letter 382: pg. 520-524

 

Secondary sources & reprints

Dousa, Janus. 1851. "Inedited Letter from the Earl of Shaftesbury, Author of the "Characteristics," to Le Clerc, Respecting Locke." Notes & Queries 3 (67): 97-99.

Rand, Benjamin, ed. 1900. The Life, Unpublished Letters, and Philosophical Regimen of Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury. New York: The Macmillan Co.


Sina, Mario, ed. 1987. Epistolario. In Le Corrispondenze Letterarie, Scientifiche ed Erudite dal Rinascimento allʼetà Moderna. Firenze: L.S. Olschki.

Note: Reprint of Le Clerc’s request to Shaftesbury and Shaftesbury’s reply with an account.


Woolhouse, Roger. 2003. "Lady Masham's Account of Locke." Locke Studies 3: 167-193.

Note: Traces the publication history of Masham’s and Shaftesbury’s accounts.


Yolton, Jean S., ed. 1990. A Locke Miscellany: Locke Biography and Criticism for All. Bristol: Thoemmes.

Note: Includes an excerpt of Shaftesbury’s letter.

 

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

5.6 Scholarly contacts

This section includes information about other scholars with whom Masham had contact, but where the correspondence is either not extant, or where the communication took place indirectly through intermediaries.


John Norris

John Norris was a Church of England clergyman and philosopher (1657–1712). As a fellow at All Souls College, Oxford he focused on Platonist authors, but there is scholarly debate as to whether he should be interpreted as holding Cambridge Platonist views. Later in his life, his work became associated with Malebranche's metaphysics. It is not clear from the scholarship exactly how he came into contact with Masham, but they at least knew of each other. Norris dedicated two of his works to her: The Theory and Regulation of Love, a Moral Essay in 1688, and Reflections Upon the Conduct of Human Life: With Reference to the Study of Learning and Knowledge: in a Letter to the Excellent Lady, the Lady Masham in 1690. In his dedication to The Theory, Norris states that he wrote it because Masham had esteem for his former writings. In the first edition of the Reflection (1690), Norris mistakenly characterized Masham as blind. She became aware of this characterization before publication, writing to him that he ought to alter his work. Although her eyesight was not very good, she was not blind and subsequently took offence when he did not remove the offending comments in time for publication (it is unclear why.) Norris did change the preface to the second edition in 1691. Masham mentions the incident in one of her extant letters to Jean Le Clerc almost ten years later (Letter 342 in the Epistolario, from 18th June 1703.) Locke also mentions the incident in his letter to William Molyneux (De Beer 1976, vol. 6, letters 2202, cf. 2189, 2221.)

Reflections Upon the Conduct of Human Life, 1690 London

In 1692, Norris was presented with a valuable living at Bemerton upon Locke’s recommendation. However, by 1692, his acquaintance with Locke and Masham ended in acrimony, as a result of an incident in which Norris appears to have opened a letter from Masham to Locke.

In contemporary scholarship, Masham’s philosophical work, the Discourse, is sometimes presented as a critical response prompted by the debate between John Norris and Mary Astell, whose correspondence was published as the Letters Concerning the Love of God (1695). Following the publication of Masham’s Discourse, Astell published The Christian Religion as Professed by a Daughter of the Church (1705). Some scholars interpret the latter is a response to Masham, and then Masham’s Occasional Thoughts as the subsequent response to Astell. There is scholarly debate, however, as to whether and to what extent Masham specifically criticizes these two scholars.



References:

Norris, John. 1690 & 1691. Reflections Upon the Conduct of Human Life: With Reference to the Study of Learning and Knowledge: in a Letter to the Excellent Lady, the Lady Masham. London: Printed for S. Manship.

Acworth, Richard. 1979. The Philosophy of John Norris of Bemerton: (1657-1712). Hildesheim Olms.

Acworth, Richard 2009. “Norris, John (1657–1712).” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online edition May 2009). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Link.



The preface to Reflections

Below is a transcript of the preface to the 1st edition of the Reflections. PDF files of both prefaces in the original are available for download below. The preface is made available courtesy of The McAlpin Collection of British History and Theology, the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.


MADAM,

The affliction your Ladyship is under for the loss of your sight is so great, and your complaints upon that occasion so just, that I can neither blame you for the one, nor excuse my self from pittying you for the other. And indeed since you have been so unhappy as to be deprived of the use of your eyes, I think I owe your Ladyship so much compassion, that I cannot better employ mine, than in writing you such a consolation, as the opportunity of my new retirement, with the serious reflections I have lately made in it, will suggest.

And that I believe will be such, as is more peculiarly adapted to the circumstance of your trouble, which tho occasion'd by a common accident, yet, I find, proceeds upon an uncommon principle. For tho 'tis to be presumed that, notwithstanding your great contempt of the world, it must be a considerable part of your affliction to lose the sight of some delectable objects in it, since the wisest of men (from whom your Ladyship cannot much dissent) after a censure of vanity past upon all things under heaven, is yet forc'd to confess that truly the Light is sweet, [Note: Eccles. 11.7. ] and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the Sun; yet I perceive the chief reason why your Ladyship is so concern'd for the loss of your sight, is because you are thereby deprived of conversation with your books, and consequently retarded in your earnest pursuit after learning and knowledge.

'Tis upon this hinge I know that the main weight of your sorrow turns, and therefore you will not want a specific proper for your malady, if you should chance to be convinced that our learning is generally misplaced, and that such an importunate pursuit after learning and knowledge is no way agreeable to the present station and condition of man. For certainly you will no longer lament the loss of your eyes, for disabling you from doing that, which perhaps would not be adviseable for you to do, if you had them again. If therefore you once come to be convinc'd of this, one main ground of your discontent is removed; and that you may, is the design of the following Reflections.


Preface to the 1st edition: PDF file

As part of our project, the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University has digitized the 2nd edition of the Reflections (1691).

This digital copy is now available online here or as downloadable PDF file.

 


Pierre Coste

Pierre Coste (1668–1747) was a French Huguenot translator and writer who received formal education in philosophy and theology in Switzerland and Germany, and later moved to Amsterdam. He translated Locke’s Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1695) into French, and also Locke’s anonymous publication of The Reasonableness of Christianity (1696).

In 1697/8, Coste moved to Oates to become the tutor to Masham’s son, Francis Cudworth Masham, presumably upon Locke’s introduction and recommendation. We know from one of his letters (reference below) to Jean Le Clerc that he corresponded with her at some point, but no letters are extant. While at Oates, Coste was also employed as Locke and Masham’s translator into French. He translated Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which was published in Amsterdam in 1700, extracts of Locke’s debate with Bishop Stillingfleet, and the second part of Locke’s The Reasonableness, which was published in Amsterdam in 1703. He also translated Masham’s correspondence with Philip Van Limborch, and her Discourse Concerning the Love of God, which was published anonymously in Amsterdam in 1705. Although Masham read French, it appears she preferred for Coste to translate her letters (see her letter to Jean Le Clerc from 21 June 1705.) According to some scholars, Coste’s preface to the French edition hints at Masham’s authorship.

Pierre Coste frontispiece, 1748 Hague


Letters from Coste to Jean Le Clerc:

Date

 

Manuscripts at Amsterdam University Library

Sina reprint (1987)

9 February 1705

MS Amsterdam R.K., J 19

Letter 383, pg. 527

21 June 1705

MS Amsterdam R.K., J 57c

Letter 395, pg. 558-560


Reference:

J. J. V. M. de Vet. 2008. “Coste, Pierre (1668–1747).” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online edition January 2008). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Link.

 


Pierre Bayle

Pierre Bayle (1647 – 1706) was a French philosopher and writer, known for his biographical dictionary, Le Dictionnaire Historique et Critique (1697-1702). After Le Clerc’s published excerpts from Ralph Cudworth’s The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1671) in his Bibliothèque Choisie, Bayle argued against Jean Le Clerc’s positive review of the work and criticized Cudworth’s doctrine of plastic natures as leading to atheism. His objections were published in his Continuation des Pensées Diverses sur la Comète de 1680 (1682) and in Henri Basnage de Beauval’s periodical Histoire des Ouvrages des Savants, (1687-June 1709).

Masham did not engage with Bayle directly. She did, at least on one occasion, send Jean Le Clerc objections that he could use to reply to Bayle. In his letter from 9 February 1705, Pierre Coste writes to Le Clerc from London that he just wrote Masham that “he had taken the liberty of opening the packet that she addressed to you, in order to remove a postscript which she composed against that which Mr. Bayle had published regarding Mr. Cudworth, because I believed that Mr. Bayle will very soon satisfy all the complaints made of him in that letter.” [This translation is a work in progress] Coste then changed his mind, and decided to send the letter packet to Jean Le Clerc, asking him to do whatever he thinks is best with it.

In her letter from 21 June 1705, Masham thanks Le Clerc for not “publishing” the postscript, and discusses Bayle’s criticism of Cudworth, and writes that “I could heartilie wish that you were at Libertie to answer the objections of Mr. Bayle.” Hutton (2013) states that Le Clerc forwarded the postscript to Bayle, but that Bayle did not reply directly to Masham. Rather, he replied in the Histoire des Ouvrages des Savans (1704).


References:

Colie, Rosalie. 1957. Light and Enlightenment: a Study of the Cambridge Platonists and the Dutch Arminians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bayle, Pierre. 1704. "Reflexions de Mr. Bayle sur l’Article VII du 6 Tome de la Bibliothèque Choisie de Mr. Le Clerc.” In Histoire des Ouvrages des Savans, edited by Henri Basnage de Beauval. Article XII, pp. 540-4.

Hutton, Sarah. 2013. "Debating the faith: Damaris Masham (1658-1708) and Religious Controversy " In Debating the Faith Religion and Letter-Writing in Great Britain, 1550-1800,, edited by Anne Dunan-Page and Clotilde Prunier, pp. 159-175. Dordrecht: Springer. (See pg. 169.)

 


John Covel

John Covel (1638–1722) was Master of Christ’s Church College, Cambridge after the death of Masham’s father, Ralph Cudworth, who was the Master before him. He was also secretary to the ambassador in Constantinople, Sir John Finch, Conway’s brother. In October and November 1697, Covel wrote two letters to Masham seeking her apologies (De Beer 1976, letters 2323 & 2347). Earlier that year, he had (according to him, unwittingly) authorized the publication of a work by a Cambridge don, John Edwards, in which Edwards attacked Locke and called him the “governor of the seraglio at Oates.” (Goldie, pg. 26)


Reference:

Goldie, Mark. 2004. John Locke and the Mashams at Oates. Cambridge: Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

 

Images of John Norris, Pierre Bayle and John Covel forthcoming.

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

6. Connections

Thanks to her Cambridge Platonist family background, aristocratic position, and close friendship with Locke, Masham had access to a wide network of scholars and natural philosophers in England, as well as on the Continent. The table below provides a brief description of her connections with other philosophers and scholars. Where possible, we have also tried to indicate how her connections were related to those of the other women philosophers and their connections in the early modern era.

The following sections also present quotes by well known male philosophers, which express their views of Masham.

Scholar

Connection

Astell, Mary

(1666–1731)

Philosopher and promoter of women’s education. Some scholars suggest that Masham’s two treatises were a response to Astell’s works.

Bayle, Pierre

(1647 – 1706)

French philosopher and writer, known for his biographical dictionary, Le Dictionnaire Historique et Critique (1697-1702). He critiqued Masham’s father’s (Ralph Cudworth) doctrine of plastic natures. Masham responded with her objections via Jean Le Clerc.

Boyle, Robert

(1627-1691)

Natural philosopher and founding member of the Royal Society. Masham mentions him and his sister Lady Ranelagh in her correspondence with Locke. Boyle gave Masham medical advice. Masham mentions that she was in frequent correspondence with Lady Ranelagh.

Cockburn, Catherine Trotter

(1674?–1749)

Playwright and philosopher. She was a personal acquaintance and neighbor of Masham.

Coste, Pierre

(1668–1747)

Huguenot French writer and translator. Tutor to Masham’s son, and translator of her Discours into French. He also translated many of Locke’s works, including the Essay, into French.

John Covel

(1638–1722)

Master of Christ’s College at Cambridge, after Ralph Cudworth’s death. Also Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University. He wrote letters to Masham to apologize for his authorisation of the publication of a work which was offensive to Masham and Locke.

Cudworth, Ralph

(1617–1688)

Masham’s father. Cambridge Platonist and theologian, Master of Christ’s College, Cambridge. In 1678, he published his work The True Intellectual System of the Universe, which was debated in England and on the Continent by the likes of Pierre Bayle, Jean Le Clerc, and Leibniz.

Le Clerc, Jean

(1657–1736)

Swiss theologian, biblical scholar and editor based in Amsterdam. A colleague of Van Limborch in the remonstrant seminary. He edited the scholarly journals Bibliothèque Universelle and Bibliothèque Choisie, and was instrumental in spreading Cudworth’s, Locke’s and Masham’s philosophical ideas on the Continent. There is extant correspondence between him and Masham. Le Clerc also wrote an account of Locke’s life based on Masham’s account.

Leibniz, G.W.

(1646–1716)

German natural philosopher, mathematician, court historian, co-inventor of calculus with Isaac Newton. Masham and Leibniz exchanged twelve philosophical letters in 1703 – 1704. Leibniz was also familiar with Conway’s Principles, and mentions Conway to Masham in one of the letters.

Locke, John

(1632–1704)

English philosopher, author of the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, the Two Treatises of Government, and other influential works. He was Masham’s close friend for over twenty years, and spent the last fourteen years of his life in residence at her house in Oates.

Newton, Isaac

(1642–1727)

Natural philosopher and mathematician, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, and co-inventor of calculus with Leibniz. He visited Locke and Masham at Oates in February 1691.

Shaftesbury, 3rd Earl of

(1671–1713)

Philosopher and author. Masham was acquainted with him through Locke, who was a close friend of his grandfather. There are extant letters between him and Masham. His and Masham’s accounts of Locke’s life served as the basis for Le Clerc’s biography of Locke.

Van Limborch, Philip

(1633–1712)

Dutch Remonstrant theologian and Professor of Theology at the Remonstrant seminary in Amsterdam; became acquainted with Locke during his exile in the Netherlands. Masham engaged in correspondence with him a few years before and after Locke’s death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.1 Quote from John Locke

John Locke after Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1704

John Locke to Philippus Van Limborch (March 1691)

English translation in De Beer edition

"The lady herself is so much occupied with study and reflection on theological and philosophical matters, that you could find few men with whom you might associate with greater profit and pleasure. Her judgement is singularly keen, and I know few men capable of discussing with such insight the most abstruse subjects, such as are beyond the grasp, I do not say of women, but even of most educated men, and of resolving the difficulties they present. She was formerly much [p. 238] given to reading, which the weakness of her eyes now hampers; but her mental acumen amply makes up for this."



Latin original

“Domina ipsa ita in Theologis philosophisque studiis et contemplationibus versata est ut paucos invenias homines quibuscum majore cum fructu et jucunditate verseris: Limatissimi inprimis est judicii. paucosque novi qui tanta cum perspicuitate de rebus abstrusissimis et a captu non dico fæminarum sed etiam plerorumque literatorum remotis et difficultates . Lectionem cui olim multum erat dedita jam impedit oculorum imbecillitas, cui abunde supplet mentis acies.”



Sources

Letter 1375. Locke to Philippus Van Limborch, 13 March 1691 (1368, 1393).

Locke, John. 1976. The Correspondence of John Locke. Edited by E. S. De Beer. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Manuscript location (from De Beer edition): Amsterdam University Library, MS. R.K., Ba 256 t. Printed in Ollion, pp. 198-201. For transmission see pp. 254-5. Answers no. 1368; answered by no. 1393.

 

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

6.2 Quotes from G.W. Leibniz

The following quotes are from Leibniz’s letters to Masham. The quotes are interesting for their reference to women of letters. All English translations are by Project Vox; please note that these are work in progress.


Letter One: December 1703 / early 1704

“I wouldn’t dare at all to go so far into these matters whilst having the honor of writing to a Lady, if I didn’t know of the discernment of the English ladies, of which I had seen a sample in the work of the late Madame Countess Conway, not mentioning others.”



Letter Three: beginning of May 1704

“And one can judge by the scheme which I have just laid out for you, Madame, in this letter, whether I have any reason to flatter myself this way … that I could satisfy a judgment as discerning as yours, and it would be more than enough, if you were to find anything that would not displease you. Your understanding on this matter will enlighten mine, and increase the obligation under which I find myself, being with all respect and veneration that one is capable of, etc.”

 


Letter Ten: 10th July 1705

“The death of the Queen of Prussia caused a long interruption in my correspondence and meditations. That great Princess had for me an infinite kindness: she was pleased to be informed of my speculations, she deepened them, and I shared with her that which came to me from you, and that which I had the honor to respond to you. One has never seen a Queen so accomplished and so philosophical at the same time.”

 

Source

Gerhardt, C. I., ed. 1875. Die Philosophischen Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Volume 3. Berlin: Weidmann.

 

 

Image of G.W. Leibniz forthcoming.

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

6.3 Memorial at Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey, Bath, United Kingdom

According to George Ballard, Masham died in Bath while taking the waters for her gallstones and was buried in Bath Abbey. He indicates that there was a plaque and a memorial. During her PhD thesis research in 2005, Kathleen Baker discovered that these no longer exist, but the inscription on Masham’s grave has been preserved in Ballard’s memoirs. A digital copy of Ballard’s memoir of Masham is available for download in Section 3.


Memorial to Masham

Near this place lyes Dame DAMARIS MASHAM
Daughter of RALPH CUDWORTH, DD and second
Wife to SIR FRANCIS MASHAM, of Oates in the
County of ESSEX, Bart.
Who to the Softness and Elegance of her own Sex
added several of the Noblest Accomplishments and
Qualities of the other.
She possest these Advantages in a Degree
unusual to either, and temper’d them with an Exactness
Peculiar to herself.
Her Learning, Judgement, Sagacity, and Penetration,
together, with her Candor and love of Truth, were very
observable to all that conversed with her, or were acquainted
with those small Treatises she Publish’d in her Life time,
tho’ she industriously concealed her Name.
Being Mother of an only Son, she applied all her
Natural and acquired Endowments to the Care of his
Education.
She was a strict observer of all the Virtues
belonging to every station of her Life, and only wanted
Opportunities to make those Talents shine in the
World, which were the Admiration of her friends,
She was born on the 18th of January, 1658.
And died on the 20th April, 1708.
 

References

Baker, Kathleen Celia. 2005. "Lady Damaris Masham: An Appraisal of a Seventeenth-Century Gentlewoman." PhD Thesis in Literature, Department of Literature, University of Essex. (See pg. 39-41)

Ballard, George. 1775. Memoirs of Several Ladies of Great Britain: Who Have Been Celebrated for their Writings or Skill in the Learned Languages, Arts, and Sciences. London: Printed for T. Evans, in the Strand, Near York-Buildings.

Ballard, George, and Ruth Perry, eds. 1985. Memoirs of Several Ladies of Great Britain: Who Have Been Celebrated for their Writings or Skill in the Learned Languages, Arts, and Sciences. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Buickerood, James G. 2004. "Introduction." In The Philosophical Works of Damaris, Lady Masham, edited by James G. Buickerood, pp. 5-45. Bristol: Thoemmes Press. (See pg. vi)

 

For image sources and permissions see our image gallery

 

 

 

 

 

7. Online resources

Primary sources online

Project Gutenberg

Online version of Masham’s Occasional Thoughts (1705).



Academic projects

The Cambridge Platonist Research Group

Provides a forum for discussion and dissemination of information about the Cambridge Platonists. Includes biographies and bibliographies of key Platonists figures, and contains information on latest publications, events, other relevant research groups.

Dictionnaire de Bayle

The Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language provides an online version of the 1740 edition of Bayle's Dictionnaire Historique et Critique (5th Edition, Amsterdam, Leyde, La Haye, Utrecht; 4 Vols.)

Dictionnaire de Moréri

The Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language contains shortened version of Jean Le Clerc's entry "Eloge de feu Mr. Locke" in the Bibliotheque Choisie . The images are from the 20th Edition of Moréri's Grand Dictionnaire Historique (Paris: Les libraires associés, 1759 - a copy of which can be found in the Rare Books Collection of the University of Chicago's Special Collections Research Center).




Leibniz resources

Leibniz-Archiv

The website of the Leibniz Archive at the Niedersachsische Landesbibliothek in Hannover, Germany. The Research Center is in the process of publishing a complete edition of Leibniz’s letters and writings. Information about which volumes of the Academy Edition have already been published and those in progress can be found here.

G.W. Leibniz at University of California, San Diego

Website maintained by Donald Rutherford, which provides information on existing Leibniz resources, as well as translations, informations on texts, etc. 



John Locke resources

Locke Resources at Pennsylvania State University

Gateway to comprehensive and detailed information about the English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704) and to tools supporting scholarship on Locke. The primary content comprises of the Bibliography, Chronology, and Manuscripts.

Digital Locke Project

A pilot project which provides scholarly text editions of the manuscripts of the British philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) in the form of an XML-encoded database that is used simultaneously for an online version and the printed version of the manuscripts.

Locke Studies Journal

A peer-reviewed journal that deals specifically with John Locke, and is the continuation of The Locke Newsletter, which appeared for thirty-one years, beginning in 1970. It publishes articles and research notes on all aspects of Locke’s life and work, and on related authors; also queries on unresolved points in Locke, or unsolved problems.

John Locke Resources Blog

Contains announcements of additions to the John Locke pages on Bibliography and Manuscripts.


Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy articles

Mary Astell

This article provides an overview of the philosophical works of Mary Astell. Some scholars suggest that Masham’s key works, The Discourse and the Occasional Thoughts, were prompted by a contemporary debate between John Norris, a theologian, philosopher and proponent of Malebranche’s philosophy, and Mary Astell, another English philosopher well known in her time.

Pierre Bayle

This article provides an overview of Pierre Bayle’s philosophy. Bayle criticized the notion of immaterial plastic natures proposed by Masham’s father, Ralph Cudworth, and Masham discusses his arguments in her correspondence with Leibniz.

Cambridge Platonists

Masham was the daughter of the well known Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth. This article provides an overview of her father’s philosophy and her intellectual background.

G.W. Leibniz

This article provides an overview of G.W. Leibniz’s life and philosophy. Masham corresponded with Leibniz from 1703-1704 on philosophical topics such as pre-established harmony, plastic natures, and the relationship of God to the world.

John Locke

This article provides an overview of John Locke’s life and philosophy. Masham was a longtime personal friend of Locke, as well as one of his correspondents and intellectual interlocutors.

Henry More

Masham was familiar with the works of Cambridge Platonists such as Henry More by the time she met John Locke. This article provides an overview of her intellectual background.

John Norris

This article provides an overview of the philosophical works of John Norris. Some scholars suggest that Masham’s key works, The Discourse and the Occasional Thoughts, were prompted by a contemporary debate between John Norris, a theologian, philosopher and proponent of Malebranche’s philosophy, and Mary Astell, another English philosopher well known in her time.



Chronology & biographies

History of Parliament Online

Contains detailed biography of Lady Masham's husband, Sir Francis Masham, 3rd Bt. (c.1646-1723), of Otes, High Laver, Essex. Originally published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002. Also provides information on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury.