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LIFE OF LOCKE.
John Locke, one of the greatest philosophers and most valuable writers who have adorned this country, was born at Wrington, in Somersetshire, on the twenty-ninth of August, 1632. His father, who had been bred to the law, acted in the capacity of steward, or court-keeper, to colonel Alexander Popham; and, upon the breaking out of the civil war, became a captain in the service of the parliament, He was a gentleman of strict probity and economy, and possessed of a handsome fortune; but, as it came much impaired into the hands of his son, it was probably injured through the misfortunes of the times. However, he took great pains in his son's education, and though while he was a child he behaved towards him with great distance and severity, yet as he grew up, he treated him with more familiarity, till at length they lived together rather as friends, than as two persons, one of whom might justly claim respect from the other. When he was of a proper age, young Locke was sent to Westminster school, where he continued till the year 1651; when he was entered a student of Christ church-college, in the university of Oxford. Here he so greatly distinguished himself by his application and proficiency, that he was considered to be the most ingenious young man in the college. But, though he gained such reputation in the university, he was afterwards often heard to complain of the little satisfaction which he had found in the method of study which had been prescribed to him, and of the little service which it had afforded him, in enlightening and enlarging his mind, or in making him more exact in his reasonings. The first books which gave him a relish for the study of philosophy, were the writings of Des Cartes; for though he did not approve of all his notions, yet he found that he wrote with great perspicuity: Having taken his degree of B. A. in 1655, and that of M. A. in 1658, Mr. Locke for some time closely applied himself to the study of physic, going through the usual courses preparatory to the practice; and it is said that he got some business in that profession at Oxford. So great was the delicacy of his constitution, however, that he was not capable of å laborious application to the medical art; and it is not improbable that his principal motive in studying it was, thai he might be qualified, when necessary, to act as his own physician. In the year 1664, he accepted of an offer to go abroad, in the capacity of secretary to sir William Swan, who was appointed envoy from king Charles II. to the clector of Brandenburg, and some other German princes but returning to England again within less than a year, he resumed his studies at Oxford with renewed vigour, and applied himself particularly to natural philosophy. While he was at Oxford in 1666, an accident introduced him to the acquaintance of lord Ashley, afterwards earl of Shaftesbury, which resulted in his inviting Mr. Locke to his house; and, in the year 1667, he prevailed on him to take up his residence with him at Lunning-hill.
By his acquaintance with this nobleman, Mr. Locke was . introduced to the conversation of the duke of Buckingham, the earl of Halifax, and other of the most eminent persons of that age, who were all charmed with his conversation. In the year 1668, at the request of the earl and countess of Northumberland, Mr. Locke accompanied them in a tour to France, and staid in that country with the countess, while the earl went towards Italy, with an intention of visiting Rome. Bat this nobleman dying on his journey at Turin, the countess came back to England sooner than was at first designed, and Mr. Locke with her, who continued to reside, as before, at lord Ashley's. That nobleman, who was then chancellor of the exchequer, having, in conjunction with other lords, obtained a grant of Carolina, employed Mr. Locke to draw up the fundamental constitutions of that province. In executing this task, our author had formed articles relative to religion, and public worship, on those liberal and enlarged principles of toleration, which were agreeable to the sentiments of his enlightened mind; but some of the clergy, jealous of such provisions as might prove an obstacle to their ascendency, expressed their disapprobation of them, and procured an additional article to be inserted, securing the countenance and support of the state only to the exercise of religion according to the discipline of the established church. Nr. Locke stiñ retained his student's place at Christ-church, and made frequent visits to Oxford, for the sake of consulting books in the prosecution of his studies, and for the loenefit of change of air. At lord Ashley's, he inspected the education of his lordship's only son, who was then about sixteen years of age; and executed that prov. ince with the greatest care, and to the entire satisfaction of his noble patron. As the young lord was but of a weakly constitution, his father thought proper to marry him early, lest the family should becoine extinct by his death. And, since he was too young, and had too little experience to choose a wife for himself, and lord Ashley had the highest opinion of Mr. Locke's judgment, as well as the greatest confidence in his integrity, he desired him to make a suitable choice for his son. This was a difficult and delicate task; for though lord Ashley did not insist on a great fortune for his son, yet he would have him marry a lady of a good family, an agreeable temper, a fine person, and, above all, of good education and good understanding, whose conduct would be very different from that of the generality of court ladies. Notwithstanding the difficulties attending such a commission, Mr. Locke undertook it, and executed it very happily. The eldest son by this marriage, afterwards the noble author of the Characteristics, was committed to the care of Mr. Locke in his education, and gave evidence to the world of the master-hand which had directed and guided his genius.
In 1670, and in the following year, Mr. Locke began to forin the plan of his Essay on the Human Understanding, at the earnest request of some of his friends, who were accustomed to meet in his chamber, for the purpose of conversing on philosophical subjects; but the employments and avocations which were found for him by his patron would not then suffer him to make any great progress in that work. About this time, it is supposed, he was made fellow of the Royal Society.' In 1672, lord'Ashley, having been created earl of Shaftesbury, and raised to the dignity of lord high chancellor of England, appointed Mr. Locke secretary of the presentations ; but he held that place only till the end of The following year, when the earl was obliged to resign the great seal. His dismissal was followed by that of Mr. Locke, to whom the earl had communicated his most secret affairs, and who contributed towards the publication of some treatises, which were intended to excite the nation to watch the conduct of the Roman Catholics, and to oppose the arbitrary designs of the court. After this, his lordship, who was still president of the board of trade, appointed Mr. Locke secretary to the same, which office he retained not long, the coinmission being dissolved in the year 1674. In the following year, he was adınitted to the degree of bachelor of physic; and it appears that he continued to prosecute this study, and to keep up his acquaintance with several of the faculty. In what reputation he was held by some of the most eminent of them, we may judge from the testimonial that was given of him by the celebrated Dr. Sydenham, in his book, entitled, Observationes Medicæ circa Morborum Acutorum Historiam et Curationem, &c. “You know, likewise,” says he,“ how much my method has been approved of by a person who has examined it to the bottom, and who is our common friend : I mean Mr. John Locke, who, if we consider his genius and penetrating and exact judgment, or the strictness of his morals, has scarcely any superior, and few equals now living." In the summer of 1675, Mr. Locke, being apprehensive of a consumption, travelled into France, and resided for some time at Montpellier, where he became acquainted with Mr. Thomas Herbert, afterwards earl of Pembroke, to whom he communicated his design of writing his' Essay on Human Understanding. From Montpellier he went to Paris, where he contractéd a friendship with M. Justel, the celebrated civilian, whose house was at that time the place of resort for men of letters; and where a familiarity commenced between him and several other persons of eminent learning. In 1679, the earl of Shaftesbury, being again restored to favour al court, and made president of the council, sent to request that Mr. Locke would return to England, which he accordingly did. Within six months, however, that nobleman was again displaced, for refusing his concurrence with the designs of the court, which aimed at the establishment of popery and arbitrary power; and, in 1682, he was obliged to retire to Holland, to avoid a prosecution for high treason, on account of pretended crimes of which he was accused. Mr. Locke remained steadily attached to bis patron, following him into Holland; and upon his lordship’s death, which happened soon afterwards, he did not think it safe to return to England, where his intimate connexion with !3rd Shaftesbury bad created him soine powerful and malignant enemies. Before he had been a
year in Holland, he was accused at the English court of being the author of certain tracts which had been published against ihe government; and, notwithstanding that another person was soon afterwards discovered to be the writer of them, yet as he was observed to join in company at the Hague with several Englishmen who were the avowed enemies of the system of politics on which the English court now acted, information of this circumstance was conveyed to the earl of Sunderland, then secretary of state. This intelligence lord Sunderland communicated to the king, who immediately ordered that bishop Fell, then dean of Christ-church, should receive his express command to eject Mr. Locke from his student's place, which the bishop executed accordingly. After this violent procedure of the court against him in England, he thought it prudent to remain in Holland, where he was at the accession of king James II. Soon after that event, William Penn, the famous quaker, who had known Mr. Locke at the university, used his interest with the king to procure a pardon for him; and would have obtained it had not Mr. Locke declined the acceptance of such an offer,, nobly observing, that he had no occasion for a pardon, since he had not been guilty of any crime.
In the year 1685, when the duke of Monmouth and his party were making preparations in Holland for his rasa and unfortunate enterprise, the English envoy at the Hague demanded that Mr. Locke, with several others, should be delivered up to him, ou suspicion of his being engaged in that undertaking. And thongh this suspicion was not on y groundless, but without even a shadow of probability, it obliged him to lie concealed nearly twelve months, till it was sufficiently known tha i he had no concern whatever in that business. Towar is the latter end of the year 1686, he appeared again in public; and in the following year formed a literary society at Amsterdam, of which Limborch, Le Clerc, and other learned men, were members, who met together weekly for conversation upon subjects of universal learning. About the end of the year 1687, our author finished the composition of his great work, the Essay con. cerning Human Understanding, which had been the principal object of his attention for soine years; and that the public might be apprised of the outlines of his plan, he made an abridgment of it himself, which his friend Le Clerc trans