« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
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 commission 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 contracted 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 his 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 had created him some powerful and malignant enemies.
Before lie 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 ille 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.
În 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. Towards 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 greai work, the Essay concerning 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 translated into French, and inserted in one of his “ Bibliotheques.” This abridgment was so highly approved of by all thinking persons, and sincere lovers of truth, that they expressed the strongest desire to see the whole work. During the time of his concealment, he wrote his first Letter concerning Toleration, in Latin, which was first printed at Gouda, in 1689, under the title of Epistola de Tolerantia, &c. 12mo. This excellent performance, which has ever since been held in the highest esteem by the best judges, was translated into Dutch and French, in the same year, and was also printed in English, in 4to. Before this work made its appearance, the happy Revolution in 1688, effected by the courage and good conduct of the prince of Orange, opened the way for Mr. Locke's return to his native country; whither he came in the fleet which conveyed the princess of Orange. After public liberty had been restored, our author thought it proper to assert his own private rights; and therefore put in his claim to the student's place in Christ-church, of which he had been unjustly deprived. Finding, however, that the society resisted his pretensions, on the plea that their proceedings had been conformable to their statutes, and thai they could not be prevailed upon to dispossess the person who had been elected in his room, he desisted from his claim. It is true, that they made him an offer of being admitted a supernumerary student; but, as his sole motive in endeavouring to procure his restoration was, that such a measure might proclaim the injustice of the mandate for his ejection, he did not think proper to accept it. As Mr. Locke was justly considered io be a sufferer for the principles of the Revolution, he might without much difficulty have obtained some very considerable post; but he contented himself with that of commissiouer of appeals, worth about $200 per annum. In July, 1689, he wrote a letter to his friend Limborch, with whom he frequently corresponded, in which he took occasion to speak of the act of ioleration, which had then just passed, and at which he expressed his satisfaction; though he at the same time intimated, that he considered it to be defective, and not sufficiently comprehensive. “I doubt not,” says he,“ but you have already heard, that toleration is at length established among us by law; not, however, perhaps, with that latitude which you, and such as you, true Christians, devoid of envy and ambié tion, would have wished. But it is somewhat to have proceeded thus far. And I hope these beginnings are the foundations of liberty and peace, which shall hereafter be established in the church of Christ."
About this time, Mr. Locke had an offer to go abroad in a public character; and it was left to his choice whether he would be envoy at the court of the emperor, the elector of Brandenburg, or any other, where he thought that the air would best agree with him; but he declined it on account of the infirm state of his health. the year 1690, he published his celebrated Essay concerning Human Understanding, in folio; a work which has made the author's name immortal, and does honour to our country; which an eminent and learned writer has styled, “one of the noblest, the usefulest, the most original books the world ever saw." But, notwithstanding its extraordinary merit, it gave great offence to many people at the first publication, and was attacked by various writers, most of whose names are now forgotten. It was even proposed, at a meeting of the heads of houses of the university of Oxford, to censure and discourage the reading of it; and, after 'various debates among themselves, it was concluded, that each head of a house should endeavour to prevent it from being read in his college. They were afraid of the light which it poured in upon the minds of men. But all their efforts were in vain; as were also the attacks of its various opponents on the reputation either of the work or its author, which continued daily to increase in every part of Europe. It was translated into French and Latin; and the fourth in Englisn, with alterations and additions, was printed in the year 1700; since which time it has past through a vast number of editions. In the year 1690, Mr. Locke published his I'wo Treatises on Government, 8vo.—Those valuable treatises, which are some of the best extant on the subject, in any language, are employed in refuting, and overturning sir Robert Filmer's false principles, and in pointing out the true origin, extent, and end of civil government. About this time, the coin of the kingdom was in a very bad state, owing to its having been so much clipped, that it wanted above a third of the standard weight. The magnitude of this evil, and the mischiefs which it threatened, having engaged the serious consideration of parliament, Mr. Locke, with ihe view of assisting those who were at 'the head of affairs to form a right understanding of this matter, and to excite them to rectify such shameful abuse, printed Some Considerations of the Consequences of lowering the Interest, and raising the Value of Money, 1691, 8vo. Afterwards be published some other small pieces on the same subject; by which he convinced the world, that he was as able to reason on trade and business, as on the most abstract parts of science. These writings occasioned his being frequently consulted by the ministry, relative to the new coinage of silver, and other topics. With the carl of Pembroke, then lord keeper of the privy seal, he was for some time accustomed to hold weekly conférences; and when the air of London began to affect his lungs, he sometimes went to the earl of Peterborough's seat, near Fulham, where he always met with the most friendly reception. He was afterwards, however, obliged to quit London entirely, at least during the winter season, and to remove to some place at a greater distance. He had frequently paid visits to sir Francis Masham, at Oates, in Essex, about twenty miles from London, where he found that the air agreed admirably well with his constitution, and where he also enjoyed the most delightful society. We may imagine, therefore, that he was persuaded, without much difficulty, to accept of an offer which sir Francis made, to give him apartments in his horse, where he might settle during the remainder of his life. Here he was received upon his own terms, that he might have his entire liberty, and look upon himself as at his own house; and here he chiefly pursued his future studies, being seldom absent, because the air of London grew more and more troublesome to him.
In 1693, Mr. Locke published his Thoughts concerning Education, 8vo. which he greatly improved in subsequent editions. In 1695, king William, who knew how to appreciate his abilities for serving the public, appointed him one of the commissioners of trade and plantations; which obliged him to reside more in London than he had done for some time past. In the same year, he published his excellent treatise, entitled The Reasonableness of Christianity, as delivered in the Scriptures, 8vo. which was written, it is said, in order to promote the scheme which king William had so much at heart, of a compromise with the dissenters.
The asthmatic complaint, to which Mr. Locke had beca