by kind usage to <lay by>their venom

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gil12345

Senior Member
chinese
Hi there,

"As to the papists, 'tis certain that several of their dangerous opinions, which are absolutely destructive of all governments but the pope’s, ought not to be tolerated in propagating those opinions; and whosoever shall spread or publish any of them the magistrate is bound to suppress so far as may be sufficient to restrain it. And this rule reaches not only the papists but any other sort of men amongst us. For such restraint will something hinder the spreading of those doctrines, which will always be of ill consequence and like serpents can never be prevailed on by kind usage to lay by their venom."

In one version of John Locke's essay on Toleration, he used some phrases which I had a hard time understanding, such as the underlined "lay by." Does it mean "save"? If so, I interpret the last sentence this way: This restraint will greatly stop the spreading of those papists' opinions, which always led to bad results and if we didn't put a stop to their opinions (their venom), can't be defeated.

Is my understanding correct?

Thanks

Gil
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It means to put “aside from use” (i.e. not make use of).

    But I find the syntax of that sentence difficult to justify, since there’s no one in the sentence to whom “be prevailed upon” could logically relate (in the comparison with serpents).
     
    You've sort of got it, Gil — more like 'withhold'.

    Snakes can never be persuaded with friendly words not to bite you.

    (If you quote again from this essay, please mention its year of publication – 1689. We don't want other students thinking this is modern English).

    (Cross-posted)
     

    gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    It means to put “aside from use” (i.e. not make use of).

    But I find the syntax of that sentence difficult to justify, since there’s no one in the sentence to whom “be prevailed upon” could logically relate (in the comparison with serpents).
    Isn't that "those doctrines" can never be prevailed on?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I take it mean "put aside" or "not use".

    From the language, "serpents" appears to refer to doctrines, but this does not really make sense, so I expect Locke meant "serpents" to refer to papists.

    I would not interpret "something hinder" as "greatly stop"; "something" lessens the impact of the verb it modifies (OED: "In some degree; to some extent; somewhat; rather, a little").
     

    gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Sort of — more like 'withhold'.

    Snakes can never be persuaded with kind words not to bite you.

    If you quote again from this essay, please mention its year of publication – 1689.

    (Cross-posted)
    I"ll try. I got it from google books, the service is sometimes cut off from China. Sometimes I can't see all the relevant information.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Isn't that "those doctrines" can never be prevailed on?
    Strictly speaking, it is serpents. But for what or whom are serpents being used as a metaphor? Although it is not really supported by the language (not in terms of modern English, at any rate), the obvious reading is that serpents are a metaphor for papists.
     
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