For this new edition, Roger Ariew has adapted Samuel Clarke's edition of 1717, modernising it to reflect contemporary English usage. Ariew's introduction places the correspondence in historical context and discusses the vibrant philosophical climate of the times. Appendices provide those selections from the works of Newton that Clarke frequently refers to in the correspondence.


Leibniz, Caroline, Newton, and Clarke

In November of 1715, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the elderly librarian, historian, and counselor to the House of Hanover in Lower Saxony, wrote a letter to Caroline, Princess of Wales, cautioning her about the odd cosmological-theological views of Sir Isaac Newton and his followers. This would seem an unusual event in international relations except that Leibniz had a long-standing relationship with Caroline, who was married to Georg August. The latter was Prince of Wales, Elector Prince of Hanover, and son of Leibniz’s employer, Georg Ludwig, Elector of Hanover who, from 1714 on, was George I, King of Great Britain and Ireland. Caroline became Queen Consort in 1727 when Georg August ascended to the throne of England as George II; she was the third of three royal women who had befriended Leibniz. The whole court of Hanover had moved to London in 1714. However, Leibniz was not welcome there. Georg Ludwig had refused his request to join the royal family in England. The official reason was that he was to stay in Hanover until the history of the House of Hanover, which he was commissioned to write, was closer to completion. By 1714 there was great hostility at the

1. Elector Georg Ludwig was the third of Leibniz’s employers in Hanover (from 1698 to Leibniz’s death in 1716), the first having been Duke Johann Freidrich who first retained Leibniz (from 1676 to 1679) and the second his brother Duke, then Elector, Ernst August (Leibniz’s employer from 1679 to 1698 and Georg Ludwig’s father).

2. Caroline was the mother of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, and thus grandmother of George III, “Old King George” of the American Revolution. For more on Caroline and the context for the correspondence, see Domenico Bertoloni Meli, “Caroline, Leibniz, and Clarke,” Journal of the History of Ideas 60 (1999): 469–86.

3. Including Georg Ludwig’s sister Sophia Charlotte, Electress of Brandenburg, then Queen of Prussia, and his mother Sophia, Electress of Hanover.

4. Ernst August had asked Leibniz to write a history of the House of Hanover in the 1680s. Leibniz took on the task with his customary zeal and optimism, that is, he took on much more than he could reasonably accomplish. The only finished manuscript of the history he left behind was its first volume, Protogaea, a treatise on natural history or geology. Leibniz intended to preface his history with a dissertation on the state of Germany as it was prior to all histories, taking as evidence the natural monuments, shells petrified in earth, and stones with the imprint of fish or plants. He contemplated continuing his history by treating the oldest known

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.