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INTRODUCTOR Y ESSA Y.
THOUGH It is by no means our design to present and few equals, among his contemporaries. It the reader, on the present occasion, with a com was not without reason, therefore, that he valued plete biography of Locke, it may perhaps be use the approbation bestowed by Locke on his method ful, before we come to a consideration of the rea- of cure, which still continues to be regarded as a sonableness of Christianity, to glance, in a cur- model ; but from this circumstance to infer, as sory manner, at the principal circumstances of his Dugald Stewart has done, that the merit of this life, which was strikingly marked by sudden vicis method belonged in part to the philosopher, hardly situdes and mutations of fortune. This distin- appears to be warranted. guished philosopher, the elder of two sons, was On the restoration, in 1660, Locke, then in his born at Wrington, in Somersetshire, on the 29th twenty-eighth year, wrote a political work, not of August, 1632. He probably imbibed from his wholly unimbued with the spirit of the times, which earliest years a hatred of arbitrary power, his fa- his maturer judgment condemned to oblivion. His ther having, during the civil wars, been an officer merit having now procured him many friends, he in the republican army; which, on the restora- was chosen, in 1664, to accompany, as secretary, tion, caused considerable detriment to his fortunes. Sir Walter Vane, envoy to the elector of BrandenLocke, received from the beginning, a very supe- burgh; and from Cleves, where he chiefly resided rior education; and, though treated with much during his stay abroad, amused his friends with strictness while a boy, was gradually, as he grew lively descriptions of the Christmas mummeries of up, permitted so share the friendship of his father, the Roman Catholics, of Calvinistic logicians, whom he loved with more than ordinary affec- and Dutch poets; in which he exhibited more tion. He was sent, at an early age, to Westmin- vivacity than good taste. Returning to England ster school ; from whence, in 1651, he removed to early in the spring of 1665, he rejected an offer, Christ-church, Oxford, of which the celebrated the accepting of which might have permanently independent, Dr. Owen, was then dean.
engaged him in the career of diplomacy; nor The scholastic philosophy, based upon an im- could an invitation to enter the church, with very perfect interpretation of the works of Aristotle, flattering prospects made in the following year, by which, at that period, prevailed in our universities, a friend, prevail on him to relinquish his personal excited his aversion. He therefore, for some time, freedom and independence, which he regarded as directed his studies into a different channel, and the first of blessings. employed himself in acquiring that intimate know Emancipated from all professional pursuits, he ledge of classical literature, which afterwards, continued the study of medicine, and entered with when he came to write, enabled him to rival the his characteristic enthusiasm for knowledge, into first authors of modern times in the perspicuity a course of experimental philosophy. At this and masculine beauties of his style. Contrary to period he would appear to have been sometimes what might have been expected, his university consulted by his friends and others as a physician; friends were not selected from among those of and to his knowledge of medicine he owed his inlearned and studious habits; he preferred, it is troduction to the earl of Shaftesbury, then lord said, the lively and agreeable; and his early man- Ashley, with whom, notwithstanding the veering ner of writing is not free from those sallies of af- politics of that celebrated man, he maintained a fectation, mistaken by the vulgar for wit, which friendship interrupted only by death. Lord Ashmay be supposed best to have pleased such com- ley, who was suffering from an abscess in his panions ; indeed his recent biographer, Lord King, breast, came to drink the waters of Astrop at Oxcompares the style of his youthful correspondence ford, where Locke then resided. He had written to that of Voiture.
to Dr. Thomas to procure the waters for him on The love of philosophy was at length awakened his arrival, but this physician happening to be in his mind by the works of Descartes ; but, in-called away, requested Locke to execute the come stead of adopting the ingenious system of that mission. Through the negligence of the messenwriter, then exceedingly popular among the learn- ger sent to procure them, the waters however ed, he betook himself to the assiduous study of were not ready, and Locke waited upon his lord. the sciences, more particularly of medicine, in ship to explain. Satisfied with the apology, and which he inade so great a proficiency that, but for charmed by his conversation, lord Ashley exthe feebleness of his constitution, it is probable he pressed his desire to improve an acquaintance would ultimately have practised as a physician. thus accidentally commenced; and the friendship Sydenham, in physic the greatest name perhaps with which he was honored by Locke, is perhaps of modern times, speaks of him, in the dedication the strongest presumptive proof existing that his prefixed to his “ Observations on the History and character contained the elements of many good Cure of Acute Diseases,” as his most intimate and excellent qualities. friend, and as a man who, for genius, penetration, From Oxford, Locke accompanied lord Ashley and exact judgment, had scarcelv any superior,' to Sunning-hil! Wells, and afterwards resided
some time with him at Exeter-house in the Strand, but my lord Lauderdale knows it will agree
with where he occasionally enjoyed the society of the their present constitution; but surely hc was duke of Buckingham, lord Halifax, and other dis much mistaken when he administered the covetinguished men, who appeared to delight in his nant to England ; but we shall see how the trisuperior style of conversation. From an anecdote podes and the holy altar will agree. My lord of related by Le Clerc, however, it would seem that Ormond is said to be dying, so that you have Irish those noblemen sometimes took refuge from phi- and Scotch news; and for English, you make as losophy in the most frivolous pastimes : for se- much at Bristol as in any part of England. Thus veral of their number once meeting at lord Ash- recommending you to the protection of the bishop ley's, sat down somewhat abruptly at the card. of Bath and Wells, (whose strong beer is the table; upon which Locke, taking out his tablets, only spiritual thing any Somersetshire gentleman began attentively to write, lifting up his eyes, and knows,) I rest your very affectionate and assured regarding them from time to time, Observing him friend." thus occupied, one of the party inquired what he Locke had from the beginning been afflicted was writing? To which Locke replied, that being with ill-health ; but in 1675, his asthma grew 80 greatly desirous of profiting by their lordships' troublesome, that it was judged necessary he discourse, he supposed he could not be better em- should remove to a warmer and less changeable ployed than in registering the wise sayings which climate. He therefore crossed over into France ; dropped from persons who were esteemed the and on the way to Montpellier, which had been greatest wits of the age. And thereupon he read fixed on for his residence, kept a journal, in which the notes he had been making. Finding they ap- he very minutely described whatever he considerpeared to no great advantage in the philosopher's ed worthy of notice. Some portions of this jour. report, the card-table was abandoned, and the nal, after it had lain upwards of a century and a remainder of the evening given up to conversa- half in obscurity, lord King has communicated to tion; an amusement more worthy of rational the public; and notwithstanding, nay, perhaps, in creatures.
consequence of the extraordinary changes which Lord Ashley was not without reason attached have taken place in France, the interest of these to his illustrious guest, by whose advice he sub- specimens is so great that few, we believe, can mitted to the operation—the opening of an ab- fail to regret the not being put in possession of the scess in the breast—which saved his life ; after whole. which he omitted no occasion of consulting him, From several parts of this journal it is abuneven in the closest and most intimate concerns of dantly apparent, that in all his travels nothing so his family. And in 1672, when, after filling the deeply interested Locke as what concerned reli. office of chancellor of the exchequer, he was cre- gion generally. Into the condition of the Proated earl of Shaftesbury, and declared lord chan- testants in France, exposed to the oppression of a cellor of England, he appointed Locke his secre- persecuting government, and the wanton insults tary for the presentation of benefices; which, of an ignorant and bigoted populace, he also inwith another office in the council of trade, the quired with persevering sympathy, and has rephilosopher resigned in the following year, when corded many curious facts, which ought not to be his friend, abandoning the court party, placed overlooked in a history of the church. It must himself at the head of the opposition. Lord King, at the same time be confessed, that even the whose work, however, contains much fewer ori- Huguenots themselves were not wholly free from ginal documents than might have been desired, the persecuting spirit ; for not long before Locke's brings forward several letters and other evidences arrival
, an Arian was apprehended, seemingly at of the intimate friendship that existed between their instigation ; and had he not, upon his trial at these celebrated individuals. Shaftesbury, it is Toulouse, denied the truth of the accusation, and clear, personally loved the man ; this appears from made profession of orthodoxy, would have been the tone of their correspondence, where we disco- burnt alive. ver, on all occasions, not merely great freedom The early opening of spring in the south, where and mutual confidence, but an indication that he experienced considerable warmth even in Jatheir friendship was far stricter and more intimate nuary, seems to have afforded our philosopher than would seem to be implied in their language. very particular pleasure. Picturesque descrip“ We long to see you here,” says the earl, in tions of external nature were not at that time in 1679, “ and hope you have almost ended your tra- fashion ; but his concise allusion to the beautiful vels. Somersetshire, no doubt, will perfect your orange-groves of Hyeres forcibly reminds us of the breeding ; after France and Oxford, you could not far more luxuriant paradises of Rosetta and the go to a more proper place. My wife finds you Land of Goshen, where the banana, the citron, profit much there, for you have recovered your the lime, and the orange, intermingle in charming skill in Chedder cheese, and for a demonstration confusion with the graceful palm and the majestic have sent us one of the best we have seen. I sycamore. “ Below the town,” says he, “the thank you for your care about my grandchild, but side of the hill is covered with orange-gardens; having wearied myself with consideration every ripe China oranges in incredible plenty, someway, I resolve to have him in my house ; I long times nine or ten in a bunch. These gardens to speak with you about it. For news we have form the most deligtful wood I had ever seen ; little, only our government here are so truly zea- there are little rivulets conveyed through it to lous for the advancement of the Protestant reli- water the trees in summer, without which there gion, as it is established in the church of Eng. would be but little fruit.” land, that they are sending the comipon prayer Having remained fourteen months in the south book the second time into Scotland. No doubt I of France, Locke proceeded, in March, 1677, to
visit Paris, where he was treated with much dis- | 1689; but a short abridgement of the work, in tinction by the learned and the great. Here he French, had appeared in the preceeding year. continued until the July of the following year, Buhle, therefore, who, in his History of Modern when he again returned to the south; but, after a Philosophy, states that the first edition of the Esbrief stay, finally quitted it for England; having say was published in 1694, is altogether incorrect; been recalled, it is supposed, by his friend Shaftes- the whole of the first impression having been sold, bury, then at the head of the administration and a second issued as early as 1693. However this may be, he arrived in London on As the philosophical spirit exerted, at that pethe 8th of May, 1679, and for some time resided riod, an active and extensive influence in Europe, in Thanet-House, Aldersgate street.
it is by no means remarkable that the Essay But that troublesome complaint which, in 1675, should have excited much attention. The philohad been the cause of his leaving England, soon sophy it contained was bold and novel, and tended compelled him to quit London, and the ensuing to subvert, in a great measure, the fashionable winter was spent partly at Oxford, and partly in hypotheses ; consequently the alarm was sounded Somersetshire. Locke now entered deeply into on all sides, and the better to refute his positions, the politics of the times, and being invariably it was attempted to be shown that the most fearranged on the popular side, became exceedingly ful consequences inevitably flow from the princiobnoxious to the court. Liberty, however, was ples he sought to establish. The more charitable unprosperous ; and Argyle, Russel, and Sydney were willing to suppose him ignorant of the direct fell victims to their exertions in its cause; but tendencies of his own doctrines; others imagined Shaftesbury, after a very narrow escape, towards themselves to have discovered in the whole scope the close of 1682, took refuge in Holland, where and design of his work, an attempt to advance the shortly after his arrival he died. His body was cause of irreligion by imperceptibly sapping the conveyed back to England, and interred at St. foundations of Christianity, and spreading the mists Giles's in Dorsetshire, " where Locke attended of scepticism over the fountains of all our knowthe funeral of his patron and friend.” In the Au- ledge. Even among his intimate friends there gust following, conceiving that he was no longer were those who felt shocked at his denying the safe in Great Britain, he also went into voluntary existence of innate* ideas. Shaftesbury, author of exile in Holland.
the “Characteristics,” in England, and Leibnitz, By an illegal order of the king, and the servility on the Continent, attacked the new philosophy, of the dean and chapter-for the university itself endeavoring, in different ways to show its princiseems to stand acquitted-Locke was in 1684 de- ples to be dangerous or untenable. Stillingileet, prived of his studentship at Christ-church. But the celebrated Bishop of Worcester, likewise this wretched display of authority could by no ranged himself among the opponents of Locke, means appease the resentment of his majesty. and his death is said to have been hastened by Shelton, the English envoy at the Hague, was in the signal defeat he sustained in the controversy. structed to demand that Locke, with several other The same thing is related of Salmasius, against refugees, who were described as traitors and mis- whom Milton directed that vehement burst of creants, should be given up to the royal vengeance; eloquence the Defence of the People of Eng. so that the author of the Essay on the Human land. But little credit is due to such traditions ; Understanding was by day compelled to conceal and, as a biographer of the poet judiciously obhimself like a brigand, and only venture forth for serves, our great defenders of freedom can very air and exercise under the cover of darkness. well dispense with such testimonies in their favor. During this period he was engaged in writing To clear the way for the reception of his syshis Letter on Toleration, a subject
which had for tem, Locke perceived the necessity of demolishing, many years occupied his thoughts.
from the foundations, the doctrine of innate ideas In the meantime William Penn, and the Earl of Pembroke-the same to whom the Essay on
By using the term innate in an improper sense, the Human Understanding was afterwards dedi- Hume is led to consider our " impressions” innate, cated-exerted their influence to soften the ran- and our ideas not so. He bestows the term imcor of James II., against the friend of Shaftes- pression upon “our more lively perceptions: when bury; but Locke was much too prudent to rely we hear, or see, or feel, or love, or hate, or desire, on the seeming forgiveness of a Stuart, and re-or will;" and then he tells us these impressions are mained in Holland until the Revolution of 1688 innate-that is, were born with us, and were, conrendered his return safe. He arrived in England sequently, in our minds before we had heard, or in the same fleet that brought over the Princess seen, or felt, or loved, or hated, or desired, or willed.
I must confess I can perceive, in his speculations of Orange ; and was shortly after, by Lord Mor- on the origin
of our ideas, none of that subtilty and daunt, whom he had known in Holand, (now one acuteness for which he has obtained credit; nor can of William's ministers,) offered to be employed I think him justified in accusing, Locke of making as envoy to one of the great German courts ; but ase, like the schoolmen, of undefined terms, and refused the appointment, assigning as a reason drawing out his disputes to a tedious length, without the weakness of his health, which would not, he ever touching the point in question. I admit he is said, permit him to drink to excessa qualifica- sometimes tedious, and who is not ?—but cannot tion he considered indispensable in an ambassador discover that he is so without ever touching the who would obtain any influence in Germany.
point in question. On the contrary, it is by touchHe now published his Essay on the
Human ing it too frequently, by viewing it again and again, Understanding, which during eighteen years bad and every conscientious seeker after truth, by his formed his principal occupation : the dedication eagerness to carry conviction into the mind of the to the Earl of Peinbroke is dated May the 24th, reader, is liable to lay himself open to this charge.
—those korvai evvotai, on which philosophers had, spanion of those master-minds, which for their until then, been accustomed to build so much of loftiness, and purity, and holiness, may perhaps their hypotheses. The question, besides its na- without impiety be said, during their earthly piltural difficulty and obscurity, had been surrounded grimage, to have walked with God. It has likeby prejudice with a circumvallation of imaginary wise humbled itself and become the inmate of the dangers to religion; and the fears previously, by meanest cottage, and cheered the laborer in his well-meaning but unphilosophical persons, enter. labor, the poor man in his poverty, the sick upon tained, were rather aggravated than diminished, his bed; it has been the friend and the support of when, on reading the Essay, they discovered the the widow and the fatherless, and those who had startling novelty of his theory of conscience, mo none to help them; it has wiped away the tears rals, virtue and happiness. Besides, from over- from the eyes of affliction; it has comforted the eagerness to establish his views, Locke has too despairing; it has seated itself where all other easily admitted the existence of whole nations of succor would be vain, beside the couch of the atheists; for had he, with his usual accuracy, dying, and smoothed their pillow and mitigated scrutinized the relations of those travellers upon their pangs, and poured the oil of gladness into whose testimony he on these points relied, he their souls, and become their counsellor and adwould have found them filled with mistakes, aris- vocate and surety with God. And shall we fear ing from the grossest ignorance of the people whose for religion? Shall we entertain apprehensions indistinct and uncertain opinions on the most ab- for that which can never cease but with the total truse questions of theology they had undertaken extinction of all finite, or at least of all rational and to explain.
intelligent creatures, which must leave the Deity However, if in developing his system he some alone in the immeasurable universe ? times inadvertently availed himself of the support But not only was Locke under the influence of of doubtful or imaginary facts, nothing can be the religious spirit,-he embraced precisely that more certain than that he completely succeeded modification of it which constitutes Christianity; in overthrowing the hypotheses which he com- and every where, in the midst of the profoundest bated. Leibnitz, indeed, whose whole life was speculations, suffers to appear manifest indications spent in patching up and contending for extrava- that he possessed a soul in pious humility, and gant and exploded systems, undertook, as has above all knowledge prized that which has been already been said, the defence of innate ideas; through Jesus Christ revealed to mankind. Indeed, but this did not hinder mankind from perceiving the Essay on the Human Understanding may be the truths advanced by Locke, though fears were regarded as a religious book. Throughout, togestill entertained that many evils of unknown mag. ther with an ardent love of truth, we find the most nitude might thence ensue. Many seemed, in earnest inculcation of contentment and holiness of fact, to apprehend that he meditated nothing less life. Our faculties, feeble and limited as he shows than the total subversion of virtue and religion; them to be, are always represented sufficiently for ignorance had long identified with the cause powerful to discover the track of duty which he beof the altar the errors which he labored to remove. lieves us able and free to follow; and no one, perhaps, To obviate, therefore, the prejudices that might ever perused attentively the chapter on infinity arise from this supposition, he was careful to mani- without being smitten with involuntary awe; withfest, at every step of the inquiry, his unfeigned, out intimately experiencing the truth uttered by deep-rooted reverence for the things of God; and the apostle, that in God we live, and move, and this feeling, in him, was so habitual, so much a have our being ; without feeling himself borne bepart of the character and constitution of his mind, yond the utmost limits of the universe, into those so indissolubly linked with his earliest and most immeasurable realms of space, where the Spirit of cherishod associations, that he would have found God still appears to brood o'er the vast abyss and it far more difficult to conceal than to display it. make it pregnant. Passing from this sublime subject Accordingly, it may with the strictest veracity be to the consideration of power, of which the human said that no philosopher, not even Plato himself
, mind seems incapable of conceiving any other than who placed all true happiness in the knowledge of a very dim and obscure idea, he demonstrates that God, was ever more intimately convinced of the our notion of spirit is certainly not less if it be not truths of religion, or more thoroughly imbued with more clear than our notion of body; and in a its divine spirit, than the author of the Essay on brief passage, not perhaps wholly free from inconthe Human Understanding:
sistency, drops the first hint of Berkeley's theory, But, had it been otherwise, had he marshalled according to which nothing exists for us but as it all the powers of his splendid intellect against is perceived. Christianity, what other destiny could have await Nevertheless, not being able to deny that irra. ed him than that which has overtaken so many tional animals think; and being unwilling to supothers? How unworthy, and weak, and vain, are pose in them a spiritual soul, or impiously to conthe fears which good men sometimes entertain ceive a limit to the power of God, he expresses his for their religion ! Certain exceptions, indeed, belief that the Almighty might confer on matter appear to forbid the universal application of what the faculty of thinking: Hence the cry of irrelifollows; but, upon the whole, it is most true that gion which was raised against him in his own the religious feeling is as much a part of human times, and has, among certain persons, been kept nature as reason or imagination. Religion began up to the present day. But, in pretending to dewith the beginning of man in Eden; it has sur- cide what God can or cannot do, we make very vived the successive revolutions of many thousand free, as Butler observes, with the Deity; and, peryears; it has defied persecution ; it has triumphed haps, in pushing our inquiries into these awful over despotism; it has, in all ages, been the com- I questions, are not altogether free from impiety;