First Tract on Government (Sept.-Dec.)
First Tract on Government [September-December 1660]
Location: Bodleian Library, MS. Locke e. 7.
Description: The manuscript is titled “Quest: whether the Civill Magistrate may lawfully impose and determine ye use of indifferent things in reference to Religious Worship.” The title “First tract on government” was given the work by Philip Abrams (see publication #2 below); it is also referred to as “The English tract.”
The manuscript is written on the rectos of ff. 2-34 (1-34,  as numbered by Locke); additions and corrections are written on the opposite versos. Fols. 35-36 contains the draft of a letter to Gabriel Towerson summarizing the work and dated December 11, 1660. The letter has been crossed out in the manuscript. Fols. 37-47 are blank.
The manuscript is a fair copy by Locke of a work written in response to Edward Bagshaw’s The great question concenring things indifferent in religious worship (published September 1660). A “Preface to the Reader” was added in 1661.
Discussions: Von Leyden, Introduction to Essays on the law of nature (1954), pages 21-30; Cranston, John Locke, a biography (1957), pages 59-63; Abrams, Introduction to Two tracts on government (1967); J. Dunn, The political thought of John Locke (1969), chapter 2; De Beer i. 108.