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during which period he became disgusted with the verbal subtleties of the Aristotelian philosophy, which he found unfruitful and devoid of practical utility. Having chosen the profession of medicine, he made considerable progress in the necessary studies; but finding the delicacy of his constitution an obstacle to successful practice, he at length abandoned his design. In 1664, he accompanied, in the capacity of secretary, Sir Walter Vane, who was sent by Charles II. as envoy to the Elector of Brandenburg during the Dutch war: some lively and interesting letters written by him from Germany on this occasion have recently been published by Lord King. Those who are acquainted with Locke only in the character of a grave philosopher, will peruse with interest the following humorous account, which he gives to one of his friends, of some Christmas religious ceremonies witnessed by him in a church at Cleves. 'About one in the morning I went a gossiping to our lady. Think me not profane, for the name is a great deal modester than the service I was at. I shall not describe all the particulars I observed in that church, being the principal of the Catholics in Cleves; but only those that were particular to the occasion. Near the high altar was a little altar for this day's solemnity; the scene was a stable, wherein was an ox, an ass, a cradle, the Virgin, the babe, Joseph, shepherds, and angels, dramatis personæ. Had they but given them motion, it had been a perfect puppet play, and might have deserved pence a-piece; for they were of the same size and make that our English puppets are; and I am confident these shepherds and this Joseph are kin to that Judith and Holophernes which I have seen at Bartholomew fair. A little without the stable was a flock of sheep, cut out of cards; and these, as they then stood without their shepherds, appeared to me the best emblem I had seen a long time, and methought represented these poor innocent people, who, whilst their shepherds pretend so much to follow Christ, and pay their devotion to him, are left unregarded in the barren wilderness. This was the show: the music to it was all vocal in the quire adjoining, but such as I never heard. They had strong voices, but so ill-tuned, so ill-managed, that it was their misfortune, as well as ours, that they could be heard. He that could not, though he had a cold, make better music with a chevy chase over a pot of smooth ale, deserved well to pay the reckoning, and go away athirst. However, I think they were the honestest singing-men I have ever seen, for they endeavoured to deserve their money, and earned it certainly with pains enough; for what they wanted in skill, they made up in loudness and variety. Every one had his own tune, and the result of all was like the noise of choosing parliament men, where every one endeavours to cry loudest. Besides the men, there were a company of little choristers; I thought, when I saw them first, they had danced to the other's music, and that it had been your Gray's Inn revels; for they were jumping up and down about a good charcoal fire that was in the middle of the quire (this their devotion and their singing was enough, I think, to keep them warm, though it were a very cold night); but it was not dancing, but singing they served for; for when it came to their turns, away they ran to their places, and there they made as good harmony as a concert of little pigs would, and they were much about as cleanly. Their part being done, out they sallied again to the fire, where they played till their cue called them, and then back to their places they huddled. So negligent and slight are they in their service in a place where the nearness of adversaries might teach them to be more careful.' In this and
other letters, he continues in the same humorous strain.
In the same year, Locke returned to Oxford, where he soon afterwards received an offer of considerable preferment in the Irish church, if he should think fit to take orders. This, after due consideration, he declined. A man's affairs and whole course of his life,' says he, in a letter to the friend who made the proposal to him, are not to be changed in a moment, and one is not made fit for a calling, and that in a day. I believe you think me too proud to undertake anything wherein I should acquit myself but unworthily. I am sure I cannot content myself with being undermost, possibly the middlemost, of my profession; and you will allow, on consideration, care is to be taken not to engage in a calling wherein, if one chance to be a bungler, there is no retreat.
* It is not enough for such places to be in orders, and I cannot think that preferment of that nature should be thrown upon a man who has never given any proof of himself, nor ever tried the pulpit.'
In 1666, Locke became acquainted with Lord Ashley, afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury; and so valuable did his lordship find the medical advice and general conversation of the philosopher, that a close and permanent friendship sprang up between them, and
Birthplace of Locke. Locke became an inmate of his lordship's house. This brought him into the society of Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Halifax, and other celebrated wits of the time, to whom his conversation was highly acceptable. An anecdote is told of him, which shows the easy terms on which he stood with these noblemen. On an occasion when several of them were met at Lord Ashley's house, the party, soon after assembling, sat down to cards, so that scarcely any conversation took place. Locke, after looking on for some time, took out his note-book, and began to write in it, with much appearance of gravity and deliberation. One of the party observing this, inquired what he was writing. My lord,' he replied, I am endeavouring to profit as far as I am able in your company; for having waited with impatience for the honour of being in an assembly of the greatest geniuses of the age, and having at length obtained
this good fortune, I thought that I could not do better than write down your conversation; and indeed I have set down the substance of what has been said for this hour or two.' A very brief specimen of what he had written was sufficient to make the objects of his irony abandon the card-table, and engage in rational discourse. While residing with Lord Ashley, Locke superintended the education, first of his lordship's son, and subsequently of his grandson, the third Earl of Shaftesbury, who figured as an elegant philosophical and moral writer in the reign of Queen Anne. In 1672, when Lord Ashley received an earldom and the office of chancellor, he gave Locke the appointment of secretary of presentations, which the philosopher enjoyed only till the following year, when his patron lost favour with the court, and was deprived of the seals. The delicate state of Locke's health induced him in 1675 to visit France, where he resided several years, first at Montpelier, and afterwards at Paris, where he had opportunities of cultivating the acquaintance of the most eminent French literary men of the day.
him leisure to finish, he had been engaged for eighteen years. His object in writing it is thus explained in the prefatory epistle to the reader :-Were it fit to trouble thee with the history of this essay, I should tell thee that five or six friends meeting at my chamber, and discoursing on a subject very remote from this, found themselves quickly at a stand by the difficulties that rose on every side. After we had a while puzzled ourselves, without coming any nearer a resolution of those doubts which perplexed us, it came into my thoughts, that we took a wrong course, and that, before we set ourselves upon inquiries of that nature, it was necessary to examine our own abilities, and see what objects our understandings were, or were not, fitted to deal with. This I proposed to the company, who all readily assented; and thereupon it was agreed that this should be our first inquiry. Some hasty and undigested thoughts on a subject I had never before considered, which I set down against our next meeting, gave the first entrance into this discourse; which having been thus begun by chance, was continued by intreaty, written by incoherent parcels; and after long intervals of neglect, resumed again, as my humour or occasions permitted; and at last, in a retirement where an attendance on my health gave me leisure, it was brought into that order thou seest it.' In proceeding to treat of the subject originally proposed, he found his matter increase upon his hands, and was gradually led into other fields of investigation. It hence happens, that of the four books of which the essay consists, only the last is devoted to an inquiry into the objects within the sphere of the human understanding. Of the contents of the com. pleted work, the following summary will perhaps impart to the reader as definite an idea as our limited space will allow to be conveyed:- After clearing the way by setting aside the whole doctrine of innate notions and principles, both speculative and practical, the author traces all ideas to two sources, sensation and reflection; treats at large of the nature of ideas simple and complex; of the operation of the human understanding in forming, distinguishing, tak-compounding, and associating them; of the manner in which words are applied as representations of ideas; of the difficulties and obstructions in the search after truth, which arise from the imperfection of these signs; and of the nature, reality, kinds, degrees, casual hindrances, and necessary limits of human knowledge.* The most valuable portions of the work are the fourth book, already mentioned, and the third, in which the author treats of the nature and imperfections of language. The first and second books are on subjects of comparatively little applicability to practical purposes, and, moreover, contain doctrines which have been much controverted by subsequent philosophers, and seem to be not always consistent with each other. The style of the work is plain, clear, and expressive; and, as it was designed for general perusal, there is a frequent employment of colloquial phraseology. Locke hated scholastic jargon, and wrote in language intelligible to every man of common sense. No one,' says his pupil, Shaftesbury, has done more towards the recalling of philosophy from barbarity, into the use and practice of the world, and into the company of the better and politer sort, who might well be ashamed of it in its other dress.' The influence of the Essay on Human Understanding' upon the aims and habits of philosophical inquirers, as well as upon the minds of educated men in general, has been extremely beneficial. Few books,' says Sir James Mackintosh,
Seal of Locke.
When Shaftesbury regained power for a brief season
* Enfield's Abridgment of Brucker's History of Philosophy. ↑ Shaftesbury's Correspondence, February 1707.
'have contributed more to rectify prejudice, to under- In reference to the writings of Locke, Sir James mine established errors, to diffuse a just mode of Mackintosh observes, that justly to understand their thinking, to excite a fearless spirit of inquiry, and character, it is necessary to take a deliberate survey yet to contain it within the boundaries which nature of the circumstances in which the writer was placed. has prescribed to the human understanding. An Educated among the English dissenters, during the amendment of the general habits of thought is, in short period of their political ascendency, he early most parts of knowledge, an object as important as imbibed that deep piety and ardent spirit of liberty even the discovery of new truths, though it is not so which actuated that body of men; and he probably palpable, nor in its nature so capable of being esti- imbibed also in their schools the disposition to memated by superficial observers. In the mental and taphysical inquiries which has everywhere accommoral world, which scarcely admits of anything panied the Calvinistic theology. Sects founded in which can be called discovery, the correction of the the right of private judgment, naturally tend to intellectual habits is probably the greatest service purify themselves from intolerance, and in time learn which can be rendered to science. In this respect, to respect in others the freedom of thought to the the merit of Locke is unrivalled. His writings have exercise of which they owe their own existence. By diffused throughout the civilised world the love of the Independent divines, who were his instructors, civil liberty; the spirit of toleration and charity in our philosopher was taught those principles of relireligious differences; the disposition to reject what-gious liberty which they were the first to disclose to ever is obscure, fantastic, or hypothetical in specu- the world. When free inquiry led him to milder lation; to reduce verbal disputes to their proper dogmas, he retained the severe morality which was value; to abandon problems which admit of no solu- their honourable singularity, and which continues to tion; to distrust whatever cannot be clearly ex- distinguish their successors in those communities pressed; to render theory the simple expression of which have abandoned their rigorous opinions. His facts; and to prefer those studies which most directly professional pursuits afterwards engaged him in the contribute to human happiness. If Bacon first dis- study of the physical sciences, at the moment when covered the rules by which knowledge is improved, the spirit of experiment and observation was in its Locke has most contributed to make mankind at youthful fervour, and when a repugnance to scholaslarge observe them. He has done most, though often tic subtleties was the ruling passion of the scientific by remedies of silent and almost insensible operation, world. At a more mature age, he was admitted into to cure those mental distempers which obstructed the society of great wits and ambitious politicians. the adoption of these rules; and thus led to that During the remainder of his life, he was often a man general diffusion of a healthful and vigorous under- of business, and always a man of the world, without standing, which is at once the greatest of all improve- much undisturbed leisure, and probably with that ments, and the instrument by which all other im- abated relish for merely abstract speculation which provements must be accomplished. He has left to is the inevitable result of converse with society and posterity the instructive example of a prudent refor- experience in affairs. But his political connexions mer, and of a philosophy temperate as well as liberal, agreeing with his early bias, made him a zealous adwhich spares the feelings of the good, and avoids vocate of liberty in opinion and in government; and direct hostility with obstinate and formidable pre- he gradually limited his zeal and activity to the illusjudice. These benefits are very slightly counter-tration of such general principles as are the guardians balanced by some political doctrines liable to mis- of these great interests of human society. Almost application, and by the scepticism of some of his all his writings, even his essay itself, were occasional, ingenious followers, an inconvenience to which every and intended directly to counteract the enemies of philosophical school is exposed, which does not reason and freedom in his own age. The first letter steadily limit its theory to a mere exposition of ex- on toleration, the most original perhaps of his works, perience. If Locke made few discoveries, Socrates was composed in Holland, in a retirement where he made none. Yet both did more for the improvement was forced to conceal himself from the tyranny which of the understanding, and not less for the progress of pursued him into a foreign land; and it was pubknowledge, than the authors of the most brilliant lished in England in the year of the Revolution, to discoveries."* vindicate the toleration act, of which the author lamented the imperfection.'†
In 1690, Locke published two Treatises on Civil Government, in defence of the principles of the Revolution against the Tories; or, as he expresses himself, 'to establish the throne of our great restorer, our present King William ; to make good his title in the consent of the people, which, being the only one of all lawful governments, he has more fully and clearly than any prince in Christendom; and to justify to the world the people of England, whose love of their just and natural rights, with their resolution to preserve them, saved the nation when it was on the very brink of slavery and ruin.' The chief of his other productions are Thoughts concerning Education (1693), The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), two Vindications of that work (1696), and an admirable tract On the Conduct of the Understanding, printed after the author's death. A theological controversy in which he engaged with Stillingfleet, bishop of Worcester, has already been spoken of in our account of that prelate. Many letters and miscellaneous pieces of Locke have been published, partly in the beginning of last century, and partly by Lord King in his recent life of the philosopher.
* Edinburgh Review, vol. xxxvi, p. 243.
On the continent, the principal works of Locke became extensively known through the medium of translations into French. They seem to have been attentively studied by Voltaire, who, in his writings on toleration and free inquiry, has diffused still farther, and in a more popular shape, the doctrines of the English philosopher.
Immediately after the Revolution, employment in the diplomatic service was offered to Locke, who declined it on the ground of ill health. In 1695, having aided government with his advice on the subject of the coin, he was appointed a member of the Board of Trade, which office, however, the same cause quickly obliged him to resign. The last years of his existence were spent at Oates, in Essex, the seat of Sir Francis Masham, who had invited him to make that mansion his home. Lady Masham, a daughter of Dr Cudworth, and to whom Locke was attached by strong ties of friendship, palliated by her attention the infirmities of his declining years. The
* Orme's Memoirs of Dr Owen, pp. 99-110. London, 1820. In this very able volume, it is clearly proved that the Independents were the first teachers of religious liberty."
+ Edinburgh Review, vol. xxxvi, p. 229.
death of this excellent man took place in 1704, when he had attained the age of seventy-two.
beneath any man to try, whether another may not have notions of things which have escaped him, and which his reason would make use of if they came into his mind. The faculty of reasoning seldom or never deceives those who trust to it; its consequences from what it builds on are evident and certain; but that which it oftenest, if not only, misleads us in, is, that the principles from which we conclude, the grounds upon which we bottom our reasoning, are but a part;
[Causes of Weakness in Men's Understandings.]
There is, it is visible, great variety in men's under-something is left out which should go into the reckonstandings, and their natural constitutions put so wide ing to make it just and exact. a difference between some men in this respect, that art and industry would never be able to master; and their very natures seem to want a foundation to raise on it that which other men easily attain unto. Amongst men of equal education there is a great inequality of parts. And the woods of America, as well as the schools of Athens, produce men of several abilities in the same kind. Though this be so, yet I imagine most men come very short of what they might attain unto in their several degrees, by a neglect of their understandings. A few rules of logic are thought sufficient in this case for those who pretend to the highest improvement; whereas I think there are a great many natural defects in the understanding capable of amendment, which are overlooked and wholly neglected. And it is easy to perceive that men are guilty of a great many faults in the exercise and improvement of this faculty of the mind, which hinder them in their progress, and keep them in ignorance and error all their lives. Some of them I shall take notice of, and endeavour to point out proper remedies for, in the following discourse.
In this we may see the reason why some men of study and thought, that reason right, and are lovers of truth, do make no great advances in their discoveries of it. Error and truth are uncertainly blended in their minds, their decisions are lame and defective, and they are very often mistaken in their judgments. The reason whereof is, they converse but with one sort of men, they read but one sort of books, they will not come in the hearing but of one sort of notions; the truth is, they canton out to themselves a little Goshen in the intellectual world, where light shines, and, as they conclude, day blesses them; but the rest of that vast expansum they give up to night and darkness, and so avoid coming near it. They have a petty traffic with known correspondents in some little creek; within that they confine themselves, and are dexterous managers enough of the wares and products of that corner with which they content themselves, but will not venture out into the great ocean of knowledge, to survey the riches that nature hath stored other parts with, no less genuine, no less solid, no less useful, than what has fallen to their lot in the admired plenty and sufficiency of their own little spot, which to them contains whatsoever is good in the universe. Those who live thus mewed up within their own contracted territories, and will not look abroad beyond the boundaries that chance, conceit, or laziness, has set to their inquiries, but live separate from the notions, discourses, and attainments of the rest of mankind, may not amiss be represented by the inhabitants of the Marian islands, which, being separated by a large tract of sea from all communion with the habitable parts of the earth, thought themselves the only people of the world. And though the straitness and conveniences of life amongst them had never reached so far as to the use of fire, till the Spaniards, not many years since, in their voyages from Acapulco to Manilla brought it amongst them, yet, in the want and ignorance of almost all things, they looked upon themselves, even after that the Spaniards had brought amongst them the notice of variety of nations abounding in sciences, arts, and conveniences of life, of which they knew nothing, they looked upon themselves, I say, as the happiest and wisest people in the universe.
In the following selection of passages from his works, we shall endeavour to display at once the general character of the author's thoughts and opinions, and the style in which they are expressed.
Besides the want of determined ideas, and of sagacity and exercise in finding out and laying in order intermediate ideas, there are three miscarriages that men are guilty of in reference to their reason, whereby this faculty is hindered in them from that service it might do and was designed for. And he that reflects upon the actions and discourses of mankind, will find their defects in this kind very frequent and very observable.
1. The first is of those who seldom reason at all, but do and think according to the example of others, whether parents, neighbours, ministers, or who else they are pleased to make choice of to have an implicit faith in, for the saving of themselves the pains and trouble of thinking and examining for themselves.
2. The second is of those who put passion in the place of reason, and being resolved that shall govern their actions and arguments, neither use their own, nor hearken to other people's reason, any farther than it suits their humour, interest, or party; and these, one may observe, commonly content themselves with words which have no distinct ideas to them, though, in other matters, that they come with an unbiassed indifferency to, they want not abilities to talk and hear reason, where they have no secret inclination that hinders them from being untractable to it.
3. The third sort is of those who readily and sincerely follow reason, but for want of having that which one may call large, sound, round-about sense, have not a full view of all that relates to the question, and may be of moment to decide it. We are all short-sighted, and very often see but one side of a matter; our views are not extended to all that has a connexion with it. From this defect, I think, no man is free. We see but in part, and we know but in part, and therefore it is no wonder we conclude not right from our partial views. This might instruct the proudest esteemer of his own parts how useful it is to talk and consult with others, even such as came short with him in capacity, quickness, and penetration; for, since no one sees all, and we generally have different prospects of the same thing, according to our different, as I may say, positions to it, it is not incongruous to think, nor
[Practice and Habit.]
We are born with faculties and powers capable almost of anything, such at least as would carry us farther than can be easily imagined; but it is only the exercise of those powers which gives us ability and skill in anything, and leads us towards perfec tion.
A middle-aged ploughman will scarce ever be brought to the carriage and language of a gentleman, though his body be as well proportioned, and his joints as supple, and his natural parts not any way inferior. The legs of a dancing-master, and the fingers of a musician, fall, as it were, naturally without thought or pains into regular and admirable motions. Bid them change their parts, and they will in vain endeavour to produce like motions in the members not used to them, and it will require length of time and long practice to attain but some degrees of a like ability. What incredible and astonishing actions do
we find rope-dancers and tumblers bring their bodies to not but that sundry in almost all manual arts are as wonderful; but I name those which the world takes notice of for such, because, on that very account, they give money to see them. All these admired motions, beyond the reach and almost the conception of unpractised spectators, are nothing but the mere effects of use and industry in men, whose bodies have nothing peculiar in them from those of the amazed lookers on. As it is in the body, so it is in the mind; practice makes it what it is; and most even of those excellencies which are looked on as natural endowments, will be found, when examined into more narrowly, to be the product of exercise, and to be raised to that pitch only by repeated actions. Some men are remarked for pleasantness in raillery, others for apologues and apposite diverting stories. This is apt to be taken for the effect of pure nature, and that the rather, because it is not got by rules, and those who excel in either of them, never purposely set themselves to the study of it as an art to be learnt. But yet it is true, that at first some lucky hit which took with somebody, and gained him commendation, encouraged him to try again, inclined his thoughts and endeavours that way, till at last he insensibly got a facility in it without perceiving how; and that is attributed wholly to nature, which was much more the effect of use and practice. I do not deny that natural disposition may often give the first rise to it; but that never carries a man far without use and exercise, and it is practice alone that brings the powers of the mind as well as those of the body to their perfection. Many a good poetic vein is buried under a trade, and never produces anything for want of improvement. We see the ways of discourse and reasoning are very different, even concerning the same matter, at court and in the university. And he that will go but from Westminster-hall to the Exchange, will find a different genius and turn in their ways of talking; and one cannot think that all whose lot fell in the city were born with different parts from those who were bred at the university or inns of court.
To what purpose all this, but to show that the difference, so observable in men's understandings and parts, does not arise so much from the natural faculties, as acquired habits? He would be laughed at that should go about to make a fine dancer out of a country hedger, at past fifty. And he will not have much better success who shall endeavour at that age to make a man reason well, or speak handsomely, who has never been used to it, though you should lay before him a collection of all the best precepts of logic or oratory. Nobody is made anything by hearing of rules, or laying them up in his memory; practice must settle the habit of doing without reflecting on the rule; and you may as well hope to make a good painter or musician, extempore, by a lecture and instruction in the arts of music and painting, as a coherent thinker, or strict reasoner, by a set of rules, showing him wherein right reasoning consists.
This being so, that defects and weakness in men's understandings, as well as other faculties, come from want of a right use of their own minds, I am apt to think the fault is generally mislaid upon nature, and there is often a complaint of want of parts, when the fault lies in want of a due improvement of them. We see men frequently dexterous and sharp enough in making a bargain, who, if you reason with them about matters of religion, appear perfectly stupid.
Every one is forward to complain of the prejudices that mislead other men or parties, as if he were free, and had none of his own. This being objected on all sides, it is agreed that it is a fault, and a hindrance
to knowledge. What, now, is the cure? No other but this, that every man should let alone others' prejudices, and examine his own. Nobody is convinced of his by the accusation of another: he recriminates by the same rule, and is clear. The only way to remove this great cause of ignorance and error out of the world, is for every one impartially to examine himself. If others will not deal fairly with their own minds, does that make my errors truths, or ought it to make me in love with them, and willing to impose on myself? If others love cataracts on their eyes, should that hinder me from couching of mine as soon as I could? Every one declares against blindness, and yet who almost is not fond of that which dims his sight, and keeps the clear light out of his mind, which should lead him into truth and knowledge? False or doubtful positions, relied upon as unquestionable maxims, keep those in the dark from truth who build on them. Such are usually the prejudices imbibed from education, party, reverence, fashion, interest, &c. This is the mote which every one sees in his brother's eye, but never regards the beam in his own. For who is there almost that is ever brought fairly to examine his own principles, and see whether they are such as will bear the trial? But yet this should be one of the first things every one should set about, and be scrupulous in, who would rightly conduct his understanding in the search of truth and knowledge.
To those who are willing to get rid of this great hindrance of knowledge (for to such only I write); to those who would shake off this great and dangerous impostor Prejudice, who dresses up falsehood in the likeness of truth, and so dexterously hoodwinks men's minds, as to keep them in the dark, with a belief that they are more in the light than any that do not see with their eyes, I shall offer this one mark whereby prejudice may be known. He that is strongly of any opinion, must suppose (unless he be self-condemned) that his persuasion is built upon good grounds, and that his assent is no greater than what the evidence of the truth he holds forces him to; and that they are arguments, and not inclination or fancy, that make him so confident and positive in his tenets. Now if, after all his profession, he cannot bear any opposition to his opinion, if he cannot so much as give a patient hearing, much less examine and weigh the arguments on the other side, does he not plainly confess it is prejudice governs him? And it is not evidence of truth, but some lazy anticipation, some beloved presumption, that he desires to rest undisturbed in. For if what he holds be as he gives out, well fenced with evidence, and he sees it to be true, what need he fear to put it to the proof? If his opinion be settled upon a firm foundation, if the arguments that support it, and have obtained his assent, be clear, good, and convincing, why should he be shy to have it tried whether they be proof or not? He whose assent goes beyond his evidence, owes this excess of his adherence only to prejudice, and does, in effect, own it when he refuses to hear what is offered against it; declaring thereby, that it is not evidence he seeks, but the quiet enjoyment of the opinion he is fond of, with a forward condemnation of all that may stand in opposition to it, unheard and unexamined.
[Injudicious Haste in Study.]
The eagerness and strong bent of the mind after knowledge, if not warily regulated, is often a hindrance to it. It still presses into farther discoveries and new objects, and catches at the variety of knowledge, and therefore often stays not long enough on what is before it, to look into it as it should, for haste to pursue what is yet out of sight. He that rides post through a country may be able, from the transient