The Educational Writings of John Locke: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Notes

By James L. Axtell; John Locke | Go to book overview

5
PIERRE COSTE AND THE EUROPEAN 'EDUCATION'

Pierre Coste, the young French Huguenot who informed Locke in 1695 of his French translation of the Education, was born in October 1668 in the medieval town of Uzès in Languedoc, one of the productive sun-soaked provinces of France on the rim of the Mediterranean. A substantial cloth and wool merchant, his father could afford to give him a good education, so he was sent to the collège at Anduze to acquire the rudiments of learning. At the age of fifteen he was sent to Geneva where he matriculated at the university. A year later, when Louis XIV finally revoked the Edict of Nantes at which he had been chipping for many years, Coste, the seventeen-year-old heir to a Huguenot upbringing, found himself an exile from his homeland.

Having been intended for the ministry but now with no possible hope of assuming the cloth in France, he nevertheless continued his classical education in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Italian and the belles lettres, living as best he could in Lausanne, Zürich, and finally Leiden in the receptive tolerance of Holland. In 1690, however, his formal education behind him, he secured a pastorship in the Walloon church in Amsterdam. But he found himself stifled and uncomfortable in a clerical collar and soon escaped as a proof-reader to the publishing community that made Holland the nerve center of the Republic of Letters in the second half of the seventeenth century. It was only a matter of time until the pulpit was completely forsaken1 and he began the task that was to consume the rest of his life, that of bringing many of the best English works, especially those of Locke, to French-speaking Europe.

On 14 September 1693 Pierre Bayle, the encyclopaedic journalist of Rotterdam, wrote to a friend in Switzerland: 'Someone is working here to render into French the Thoughts that Mr. Locke, one of the most profound metaphysicians of this century, has

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1
Although as late as July 1695 Jean LeClerc could describe him as 'a student in theology' ( Bonno, 1959, p. 86). All translations from the French are mine, except where specified otherwise.

-88-

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The Educational Writings of John Locke: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Notes
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • NOTE ON REFERENCES TO SOURCES AND AUTHORITIES xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Book 3
  • 2 - The Tutor and his Pupils 18
  • 3 - The 'Education' in Context 49
  • 4 - Locke and Scientific Education 69
  • 5 - Pierre Coste and the European 'Education' 88
  • EEDITORIAL NOTE TO THE TEXT 105
  • Some Thoughts Concerning Education 114
  • The Collation 326
  • Appendixes 399
  • Bibliography 423
  • Index 437
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