— 664 —
Yet History is of great use.
      §11. I would not be thought here to lessen the Credit and use of
History: ’tis all the light we have in many cases; and we receive
from it a great part of the useful Truths we have, with a convincing
evidence. I think nothing more valuable than the Records of
Antiquity: I wish we had more of them, and more uncorrupted. But
this, Truth it self forces me to say, That no Probability can arise
higher than its first Original. What has no other Evidence than the
single Testimony of one only Witness, must stand or fall by his only
Testimony, whether good, bad, or indifferent; and though cited
afterwards by hundreds of others, one after another, is so far from
receiving any strength thereby, that it is only the weaker. Passion,
Interest, Inadvertency, Mistake of his Meaning, and a thousand odd
Reasons, or Caprichio’s, Men’s Minds are acted by, (impossible to
be discovered,) may make one Man quote another Man’s Words or
Meaning wrong. He that has but ever so little examined the Cita-
tions of Writers, cannot doubt how little Credit the Quotations
deserve, where the Originals are wanting; and consequently how
— 665 —
much less Quotations of Quotations can be relied on. This is certain,
that what in one Age was affirmed upon slight grounds, can never
after come to be more valid in future Ages, by being often repeated.
But the farther still it is from the Original, the less valid it is, and
has always less force in the mouth, or writing of him that last made
use of it, that in his from whom he received it.
Locke Hum IV, 16, §11, pp. 664-665