— 6 —

The
Epistle

To The
READER

     
Reader,
I Here put into thy Hands, what has been the diversion of some of my idle and
heavy Hours: If it has the good luck to prove so of any of thine, and thou hast
but half so much Pleasure in reading, as I had in writing it, thou wilt as
little think thy Money, as I do my Pains, ill bestowed. Mistake not this, for a
Commendation of my Work; nor conclude, because I was pleased with the
doing of it, that therefore I am fondly taken with it now it is done. He that
hawks at Larks and Sparrows, has no less Sport, though a much less consider-
able Quarry, than be that flies at nobler Game: And he is little acquainted
with the Subject of this Treatise, the
UNDERSTANDING, who does not
know, that as it is the most elevated Faculty of the Soul, so it is employed with
a greater, and more constant Delight than any of the other. Its searches after
Truth, are a sort of Hawking and Hunting, wherein the very pursuit makes
a great part of the Pleasure. Every step the Mind takes in its Progress
towards Knowledge, makes some Discovery, which is not only new, but the
best too, for the time at least.
      For the Understanding, like the Eye, judging of Objects, only by its own
Sight, cannot but be pleased with what it discovers, having less regret for
what has scaped it, because it is unknown. Thus he who has raised himself
above the Alms-Basket, and not content to live lazily on scraps of begg’d
Opinions, sets his own Thoughts on work, to find and follow Truth, will
(whatever be lights on) not miss the Hunter’s Satisfaction; every moment of
his Pursuit, will reward his Pains with some Delight; and he will have
Reason to think his time not ill spent, even when he cannot much boast of any
great Acquisition.
      This, Reader, is the Entertainment of those, who let loose their own
Thoughts, and follow them in writing; which thou oughtest not to envy

Locke Hum EpR, p. 6