15: His Critics and Followers

Locke had the gift of making philosophy speak the language of ordinary life. As a consequence, his writings were followed by a whole literature of attack and defence. Of his critics Stillingfleet was the most prominent; he breathed an atmosphere of controversy, and his powers were displayed on many fields; he was not Locke’s equal in intellectual fence; but he was a formidable opponent, and the difficulties in Locke’s doctrine were pressed home by him with no little power. Among Locke’s other critics were John Sergeant (who asserted Solid Philosophy “against the fancies of the Ideists”), Henry Lee, William Sherlock, archbishop King, John Broughton, and Thomas Burnet (author of Sacra telluris theoria). Another Thomas Burnet, of Kemnay, in Aberdeenshire, was the intermediary through whom Locke received the Reflexions of Leibniz upon the Essay. The Nouveaux Essais of Leibniz, in which the doctrines of the Essay were criticised, section by section, were ready for publication when Locke’s death occurred, but, owing to this event, their appearance was postponed indefinitely. Amongst the writers who sided with Locke were Samuel Bold, Vincent Perronet, and Mrs. Catherine Cockburn. Two other writers of the period deserve further mention on their own account. These are Richard Burthogge and John Norris.