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In this all the agreements pro and con ought to be examined, before we come to a Judgment.
      §5. Probability wanting that intuitive Evidence, which infallibly
determines the Understanding, and produces certain Knowledge,
the Mind if it will proceed rationally, ought to examine all the grounds of
Probability, and see how they make more or less, for or against any
probable Proposition, before it assents to or dissents from it, and
upon a due ballancing the whole, reject, or receive it, with a more or
less firm assent, proportionably to the preponderancy of the greater
grounds of Probability on one side or the other. For example:
      If I my self see a Man walk on the Ice, it is past Probability, ’tis
Knowledge: but if another tells me he saw a Man in England in the
midst of a sharp Winter, walk upon Water harden’d with cold; this
has so great conformity with what is usually observed to happen,
that I am disposed by the nature of the thing it self to assent to it,
unless some manifest suspicion attend the Relation of that matter
of fact. But if the same thing be told to one born between the
Tropicks, who never saw nor heard of any such Thing before,
there the whole Probability relies on Testimony: And as the
Relators are more in number, and of more Credit, and have no
Interest to speak contrary to the Truth; so that matter of Fact
is like to find more or less belief. Though to a Man, whose
Experience has been always quite contrary, and has never heard
of any thing like it, the most untainted Credit of a Witness will
scarce be able to find belief. And as it happened to a Dutch Ambassa-
— 657 —
dor, who entertaining the King of Siam with the particularities of
Holland, which he was inquisitive after, amongst other things told
him, that the Water in his Country, would sometimes, in cold
weather, be so hard, that Men walked upon it, and that it would
bear an Elephant, if he were there. To which the King replied,
Hitherto I have believed the strange Things you have told me, because I look
upon you as a sober fair man, but now I am sure you lye.
Locke Hum IV, 15, §5, pp. 656-657