Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

attended him in the quality of his secretary: but returning to England again within the year, he applied himself with great vigour to his studies, and particularly to that of natural philosophy*. While he was at Oxford in 1666, he became acquainted with the lord Ashley, afterward earl of Shaftesbury. The occasion of their acquaintance was this. Lord Ashley, by a fall, had hurt his breast in such a manner, that there was an abscess formed in it under his stomach. He was advised to drink the mineral waters at Astrop, which engaged him to write to Dr. Thomas, a physician of Oxford, to procure a quantity of those waters, which might be ready against his arrival. Dr. Thomas being obliged to be absent from Oxford at that time, desired his friend Mr. Locke to execute this commission. But it happened, that the waters not being ready the day after the lord Ashley's arrival, through the fault of the person who had been sent for them, Mr. Locke was obliged to wait on his lordship to make an excuse for it. Lord Ashley received him with great civility, according to his usual manner, and was satisfied with his excuses. Upon his rising to go away, his lordship, who had already received great pleasure from his conversation, detained him to supper, and engaged him to dine with him the next day, and even to drink the waters, that he might have the more of his company. When his lordship left Oxford to go to Sunning-Hill, where he drank the waters, he made Mr. Locke promise to come thither, as he did in the summer of the year 1667.

* This appears from the journal which he kept of the changes of the air at Oxford, from June, to June, ;for the regular observation of which he used a barometer, thermometer, and hygroscope. This journal may be seen in ' The General History of the Air,' published by Mr. Boyle, in 1692. It occurs likewise in the 5th -vol. of Boyle's Works, published by Millar, 1744, containing 27 pages, fbl. together with a letter from Mr. Locke, in p. 157, containing expe. riments made with the barometer at Minedeep Hills, dated from Christ.Church, May 5, lb'66. In the same volume there are several other letters of his to Mr. Boyle on the various points of natural philosophy, chemistry, and medicine.

Lord Ashley afterward returned, and obliged him to promise that he would come and lodge at his house. Mr. Locke went thither, and though he had never practised physic, his lordshipconfided intirely in his advice, with regard to the operation which was to be performed by opening the abscess in his breast; which saved his life, though it never closed. After this cure, his lordship entertained so great an esteem for Mr. Locke, that though he had experienced his great skill in medicine, yet he regarded this as the least of his qualifications. He advised him to turn his thoughts another way, and would not suffer him to practise medicine out of his house, except among some of his particular friends. He urged him to apply himself to the study of political and religious matters, in which Mr. Locke made so great a progress, that lord Ashley began to consult him upon all occasions. By his acquaintance with this lord, our author was introduced to the conversation of some of the most eminent persons of that age: such as, Villiers duke of Buckingham, the lord Hallifax, and other noblemen of the greatest wit and parts, who were all charmed with his conversation. The liberty which Mr. Locke took with men of that rank, had something in it very suitable to his character. One day, three or four of these lords having met at lord Ashley's when Mr. Locke was there, after some compliments, cards were brought in, before scarce any conversation had passed between them. Mr. Locke looked upon them for some time, while they were at play: and taking his pocket-book, began to write with great attention. One of the lords observing him, asked him what he was writing ?' My lord,' says he,' 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 this age, 'and at last having obtained the good fortune, I^hought 'I could not do better than write down your conversa'tion; and indeed I have set down the substance of 'what hath been said for this hour or two.' Mr. Locke had no occasion to read much of this conversation; those noble persons saw the ridicule of it; and diverted themselves with improving the jest. They quitted their play, and entering into rational discourse, spent the rest of their time in a manner more suitable to their character.

In 1668 our author attended the earl and countess of Northumberland into France; but did not continue there long, because the earl dying in his journey to Rome, the countess, whom he had left in France with Mr. Locke, came back to England sooner than was at first designed. Mr. Locke, upon his return to his native country, lived as before, at the lord Ashley's, who was then chancellor of the exchequer, but made frequent visits to Oxford, for consulting books in the prosecution of his studies, and keeping the changes of the air. While he was at the lord Ashley's, he inspected the education of that lord's only son, who was then about sixteen years of age. This province he executed with great care, and to the full satisfaction of his noble patron. The young lord being of a weakly constitution, his father thought to marry him betimes, lest the family should be extinct by his death. He was too young, and had too little experience, to choose a wife for himself; and lord Ashley having the highest opinion of Mr. Locke's judgment, and the greatest confidence in his integrity, desired that he would make a suitable choice for his son. This, it must be owned, was no easy province; for though lord Ashley did not require a great fortune for his son, yet he would have him marry a lady of a good family, an agreeable temper, and a fine person ; and above all a lady of good education, and of good understanding, whose conduct would be very different from that of the generality of courtladies. Notwithstanding all these difficulties, our author undertook the business, and acquitted himself in it happily. From this marriage sprung seven children, all of. them healthy. The eldest son, afterward the nobkfcMuthor of the Characteristics, was committed to the care of Mr. Locke in his education. Here was a great genius, and a great master to direct and guide it, and the success was every way equal to what might be expected. It is said, that this noble author always spoke of Mr. Locke with the highest esteem, and manifested on all occasions a grateful sense of his obligations to him: but there are some passages in his works, in which he speaks of Mr. Locke's philosophy with great severity*.

In 1670, and the year following, our author began to form the plan of his ' Essay on Human Understanding,' at the earnest request of Mr. Tyrrell, Dr. Thomas, and some other friends, who met frequently in his chamber to converse together on philosophical subjects; but his employments and avocations prevented him from finishing it then—About this time, it is supposed, he was made a fellow of the Royal Society.

* In the 'letters written by a nobleman to a young" man at the 'university,' published \ J\6, which are now known to be lord Shaftesbury's, having observed, that * Dr. Tindal's principles, whatever they 'were as to church-government, yet in morals and theology were very 'different from the author's of the "Rhapsody,"—he proceeds thus: 'In general, truly, it has happened, that all those they call free writers e now-a-days, have espoused those principles, which Mr. Hobbes set

•a-foot in this last age. Mr. Locke, as much as I honour him on ac

* count of his other writings, (_viz. on government, policy, trade, coin, 'education, toleration, &c.) and as well as I knew him, and can answer 'for his sincerity as a most zealous christian and believer, did however 'go in the self same track, and is followed by the Tindals and all the

* other ingenious free authors of our time.' The rest of those reflections, which that noble author has thought fit to cast upon the philosophy of his preceptor, (and which have been carefully retailed among many other misrepresentations of Mr. Locke's character, in the Biogr. Brit.) are too gross and groundless to be here inserted; but his lordship's inconsistencies may in part be accounted for from that remarkable change made in his lordship's constitution, when from a sober, serious christian, [as he appeared to be at his writing the preface to that volume of Dr. Whichcote's Sermons, which was published by him] he became both at once a sneering infidel with regard to revealed religion, and a rank enthusiast in morals. Instead of trusting to this author's character of Mr. Locke, we have a much more impartial one given, incidentally, by a better judge, who could not by bis education be at all prejudiced in Mr. Locke's favour, and came but late into his system. 'In the last century 'there arose a very extraordinary genius for philosophical speculations, 'I mean Mr. Locke, the glory of that age, and the instructor of the pre'sent. This gentleman had examined into the nature and extent of hu'man understanding, beyond any person before him, and made such dis'coveries as have highly obliged the curious,' &c. Bp. Conybeare, Defence of Rev. Rel. c. 5.

In 1672, his great patron lord Ashley was created earl of Shaftesbury, and lord high chancellor of England; and appointed him secretary of the presentation to benefices; which place he held till the end of the year l673, when his lordship resigned the great seal. Mr. Locke, to whom the earl had communicated his most secret affairs, was disgraced together with him: and assisted the earl in publishing some treatises, which were designed to excite the people to watch the conduct of the Roman catholics, and to oppose the arbitrary designs of the court.

In 1675 he travelled into France, on account of his health. At Montpelier he staid a considerable time; and there his first acquaintance arose with Mr. Herbert, afterward earl of Pembroke, to whom he dedicated his * Essay on Human Understanding,' having the highest respect for that noble lord. From Montpelier he went to Paris, where he contracted a friendship with Mr. Justel, whose house was at that time the place of resort for men of letters: and there he saw Mr. Guenelon, the famous physician of Amsterdam, who read lectures in anatomy with great applause. He became acquainted likewise with Mr. Toignard, who favoured him with a copy of his 'Harmonia Evangelica,' when there were no more than five or six copies of it complete. The earl of Shaftesbury being restored to favour at court, and made president of the council in 1679, thought proper to send for Mr. Locke to London. But that nobleman did not continue long in his post; for refusing to comply with the designs of the court, which aimed at the establishment of popery and arbitrary power, fresh crimes were laid to his charge, and he was sent to the Tower. When the earl obtained his discharge from that place, he retired to Holland; and Mr. Locke not thinking himself safe in England, followed his noble patron thither, who died soon after. During our author's stay in Holland, he renewed his acquaintance with Mr. Guenelon, who introduced him to many learned persons of Amsterdam. Here Mr. Locke contracted a friendship with Mr. Limborch, professor of divinity among the remonstrants, and the most learned Mr. lie

« EdellinenJatka »