Sir John Banks, baronet

E. S. de Beer (ed.), The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke: The Correspondence of John Locke: In Eight Volumes, Vol. 1: Introduction; Letters Nos. 1–461

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387. Sir John Banks to Locke, 20 June 1678 (384, 391)

B.L., MS. Locke c. 3, ff. 102–3.

Lincolns in feilds 20. June 78


This day brings me yours of the 22 instant. perceavinge you are pleased to oblidge me in accompanyinge and conductinge my son for the Loire, which is very much both to my wives and my owne satisfaction, And doe wholy leave the disposinge your selvs and all matters relatinge to this voyage to yourselvs, beinge assured my son hath that great kindnesse and respect for you that you may dispose him as you please, which I am fully satisfied will be in what you know to be most to his advantage. I have desired Sir Na. Herne, 10 days agoe, to write to Madam Herinx to give you what further Credit, you desired, and before the next post goe, I shall speake to him againe, yet I pray take that freedome to pas your byls on me from any place, where you finde a necessary supply. and they shall be dewly payd, and you may not only shew this my order for your voucher, but I shal send you a further from some other freind at my first leasure and you may expect to be more reasonably supplyd by your owne byl direct for London then by freinds at Paris, but as your stay will require noe Great supply yet it your care I doe see to be supplyed on the best termes and I have writt alsoe to my son that a prudent frugality becomes any Gentlemen

I perceave your kind care, to have all my sons concernes discharged at Paris, before you move thence, for which I thanke you. and he will I hoope have sent me the account of his Expences to his goinge thence, for I would have him keepe the same exact: and if you shall please to keepe the same forward, I doe hoope as it will be an ease to him soe it will be much more convenient unto you pg 579both.1 For other matters I may write more by the next opertunity, assuringe you that I shall ever owne my selfe to be

  • Sir, Your very oblidged freind and servant
  • John Banks

Mr Finch2 presents you his humble services

Address: A Monsieur Monsieur Locke.a

Endorsed by Locke: Sr J. Banks 20 Jun. 78


Locke met Nicolas Toinard at Henri Justel's house at some date between June 1677 and April 1678; he mentions Justel on 7 October 1677 for the first time, and the meeting may have taken place slightly earlier; he mentions Toinard for the first time on 21 April 1678. The two became friends. Though they did not see one another again after May 1679, they corresponded frequently. The correspondence was interrupted by the Nine Years' War and ended with the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession apart from a single unwelcome letter from Toinard that Locke received in 1704. At the outset Toinard had much to tell Locke about the activities of their common friends; in later letters he is more concerned with his own interests.

The usual and correct spelling of his surname is Thoynard; Nicolas adopted the form Toinard as part of his scheme for improving French orthography, but apparently remained Thoynard in legal documents (the privilège for his Harmony of the Gospels). The family was armigerous. The earliest known member, Nicolas Thoynard, was a bourgeois (freeman or burgess) of Orleans in 1550. Some of his descendants held office locally. Toinard's father, another Nicolas, was a magistrate (Président au bailliage et siège présidial); his mother, Anne de Beauharnois, was a member of the family to which belonged the first husband of the Empress Josephine. Toinard is said to have pg 580been born on 31 March 1628; he was baptized at Orleans on 5 March 1629. With a view to succeeding his father he studied law, but, disliking the subject and having sufficient private means, devoted himself to scholarship. In 1652 he was introduced to the Jesuit Father Denis Petau (p. 662, n. 2) and henceforward moved freely in learned circles in Paris and Orleans. In 1661 and 1662 he travelled in Spain and the Netherlands. In 1666 he accompanied Cardinal d'Estrées (no. 884) to Portugal. He is said to have visited England in 1667. Thereafter he remained in France, residing by turns in Paris and Orleans. He did not marry. He died in Paris on 5 January 1706.

Toinard's great ambition was to compose a harmony of the four Gospels, using the Greek texts. He was a devout Catholic. He was acquainted with Bossuet, but appears not to have been a regular member of Bossuet's petit concile, a group for the study of the Bible that met weekly from 1673 to 1681.1 He printed a version of his harmony in 1678 for his own use (no. 428). Although the French clergy wanted it he refused to publish it. He had a fertile and ingenious mind and constantly devised fresh improvements; industrious and conscientious as a scholar, he failed to concentrate his interest sufficiently to complete his work. There were not only the subsidiary studies for the harmony, including notably chronology and numismatics. For a few years he was eager to produce other harmonies, of parts of the Old Testament, of the Apocrypha, and of Josephus. But there were wider interests. Henri Justel (no. 472) held at his house meetings of scientists and men interested in science, and perhaps of the learned in general. Catholics and Protestants, Frenchmen and foreigners, were alike welcome. Toinard appears to have been a mainstay of these gatherings. He was greatly interested in voyaging and exploration; he collected explorers' narratives and maps, and made some use of his knowledge. It is questionable whether he appreciated properly the achievements of the scientists of his time. He was captivated by new inventions, regardless of whether they were capable of realization or likely to prove useful, and was ready to improve whatever came his way; later on, as his fortune dwindled, he hoped to restore it by some new project. In addition to his superficiality he was apt to be facetious.

Toinard published only a very few small pieces; apart from some notes on Lactantius' De Mortibus Persecutorum, mainly dissertations on particular coins or medals. The history of his harmony of the Gospels is uncertain. Besides the complete version printed in 1678, one, two, or perhaps three, other versions appear to have been set up in whole or in part. It was published posthumously in 1707 as Evangeliorum Harmonia Græco-Latina.

Toinard's work on it broke new ground. Earlier compilers, from Tatian onwards, were concerned probably in most cases primarily with edification; the work was to be done properly; the reader was to be presented with a reliable composite narrative. Toinard was concerned primarily with historical scholarship; scholars were to be presented with the materials so arranged that they could construct a composite narrative for themselves. To this end he devised a new layout. The texts of the four Gospels were placed in four parallel columns; each text was set out continuously, but broken into verses, pg 581sentences, phrases, or single words, as required by the texts in the other columns; hands ('fists') directed the scholar from one column to another (part of St.