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The life of John Locke, with extracts from his correspondence, journals, and common-place books online

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to this I leave every man to answer to his own self, viz. if
he should continue to eternity in the same sound sleep he has
sometimes been in, whether he would be ever a jot more happy
or miserable during that eternity than the bedstead he lay on.
Since, then, experience of what we find daily in sleep, and very frcr
quently in swooning and apoplexy, &c., put it past doubt that the
soul may subsist in a state of insensibility, without partaking in the
least degree of happiness, misery, or any perception whatsoever,
(and whether death, which the Scripture calls sleep, may not put
the souls of some men at least into such a condition, I leave
those who have well considered the story of Lazarus to conjecture,)
shall establish the existence of the soul, will not, therefore, prove its
being in a state of happiness or misery, since it is evident that
perception is no more necessary to its being than motion is to the
being of body. Let, therefore, spirit be in its own nature as
durable as matter, that no power can destroy it but that Omnipo-
tence that at first created it ; they may both lie dead and inactive,
the one without thought, the other without motion, a minute, an
hour, or to eternity, which wholly depends upon the will and good
pleasure of the first Author ; and he that will not live conformable
to such a future state, out of the undoubted certainty that God can,



130 THE LIFE OF

and the strong probability, amounting almost to certainty, that he will
put the souls of men into a state of life or perception after the dis-
solution of their bodies, will hardly be brought to do it upon the
force of positionsj which are, by their own experience, daily contra-
dicted, and will, at best, if admitted for true, make the souls of
beasts immortal as well as theirs.

" April 26, 1682. — ' Neque ante Philosophian patefactam quae
nuper inventa est.' — Cicero. If Philosophy had been in TuUy's
time not long in the world, it is likely the world is not older than
our account, since it is impossible to imagine that the world should
be so old as some would reckon, much more that the generation of
men should have been from eternity, and yet philosophy not be found
out by the inquisitive mind of man till a little before TuUy's time.

" ' Natura futura praesentiunt aut aquarum fluxiones aut defla-
grationem futuram aliquando coeli atque terrarum,' an old opinion,
it seems, that the world should perish by fire.

" The loadstone itself, that we have reason to think is as old
as the world, and is to be found plentifully in several parts of
it, and very apt to make itself be taken notice of by so sen-
sible and so surprising an effect as is its attraction of iron, and
its steady adhesion to it ; and can one imagine the busy inquisi-
tive nature of man, in an infinite number of ages, should never
by chance, or out of curiosity, observe that working and pointing
to the north which that stone has in itself, and so readily com-
municates to iron ? Can we think it reasonable to suppose that
it required as long a duration as was from eternity to our great-
grandfathers' days, to discover this useful quality in that common
metal? in which it is so near natural, that almost every place has
the virtue of a loadstone to produce it ; our common utensils get
it only by standing in our chimney-corners. And yet the disco-
very, when once made, does, by its proper use, so unavoidably
spread itself over all the world, that nothing less than total ex-
tirpation of all mankind can ever possibly make it be forgotten.

" It is a matter of great admiration how the art of printing



JOHN LOCKE. 131

should be so many ages undiscovered, and how the ancients, who
were skilled in graving on brass, should miss this great art of dis-
patch, when it was so natural to consider how easy it would be
to imprint, in a moment, on paper, all those graved characters,
which it would cost a great deal of time even first to write with
a pen ; though this thought never occurred in several ages ; so
fair a beginning was never improved into the art of printing till
about 200 years since ; yet eternity of the world could by no
means admit so late a discovery of it, and it is impossible to ima-
gine that men, in an infinite succession of generations, should not
infinitely sooner have perfected so useful and obvious an inven-
tion, which when once brought to light, must needs continue to
eternity, if the world should last so long,"

Some of these last articles are selected from the journal subse-
quent to Locke's arrival in England, as may be observed from their
dates ; they have been arranged in their present order to prevent
confusion. For some years after that period the journal contains
very little except private memoranda, medical observations, extracts
from books, and dates of the change of residence. There are occa-
sionally notices of other things, such as the following :

"1681, March 1st. This day I saw Alice George, a woman, as she
said, of 108 years old at AUhallow-tide last: she lived in St. Giles'
parish, Oxford, and has lived in and about Oxford since she was a
young woman ; she was born at Saltwych, in Worcestershire ; her
father lived to eighty-three, her mother to ninety-six, and her
mother's mother to 111. When she was young she was neither fat
nor lean, but very slender in the waist ; for her size she was to be
reckoned rather amongst the tall than the short women ; her con-
dition was but mean, and her maintenance her labour. She said she
was able to have reaped as much in a day as a man, and had as
much wages ; she was married at thirty, and had fifteen children,
viz. ten. sons and five daughters, besides five miscarriages; she has
three sons still alive, her eldest, John, living next door to her, se-
venty-seven years old the 25th of this month. She goes upright

s 2



132 'IHE LIFE OF

with a staff in one hand, but I saw her stoop twice without resting
upon any thing, taking up once a pot, and at another time her glove
from the ground ; her hearing is very good, and her smelling so
quick, that as soon as she came near me, she said I smelt very sweet,
I having a pair of new gloves on that were not strong scented ; her
eyes she complains of as failing her since her last sickness, which
was an ague that seized her about two years since, and held her
about a year ; and yet she made a shift to thread a needle before us,
though she seemed not to see the end of the thread very perfectly ;
she has as comely a face as ever I saw any old woman have, and age
has neither made her deformed nor decrepit. The greatest part of
her food now is bread and cheese, or bread and butter, and ale.
Sack revives her when she can get it ; for flesh she cannot now eat
unless it be roasting pig, which she loves. She had, she said, in her
years a good stomach, and ate what came in her way, oftener want-
ing victuals than a stomach. Her memory and understanding per-
fectly good and quick. Amongst a great deal of discourse we had
with her, and stories she told, she spoke not one idle or impertinent
word. Before this last ague she used to go to church constantly,
Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays ; since that she walks not
beyond her little garden : she has been ever since her being married
troubled sometime with vapours, and so is still, but never took any
physic but once, about forty years since. She said she was sixteen
in 1588, and went then to Worcester to see Queen Elizabeth, but
came an hour too late, which agrees with her account of her age."

In this part of the journal there is at length an account of
Captain Wood's reasons for, and observations on, his attempt of the
North-west passage in 1676 ; it was grounded on the opinion of one
William Barants, a Hollander, who attempted the passage in 1605,
and it was then thought that an open sea would have been found
at the Pole. After giving the authority and information of several
Dutch captains, &c. " upon these considerations he set out in the
Speedwell with sixty-eight men and boys, and a pink, called the Pros-
perous, to attend her at the beginning of the voyage, May 28, 1676



JOHN LOCKE. 133

from the buoy at the Nore ; and on the 29th of June following, their
ship split upon a ledge of rocks, at Nova Zembla, where they en-
dured great hardships ; being relieved and taken in by the Pros-
perous, they returned to the buoy at the Nore on the 23rd of
August following."

" He (the Captain) conceives the Dutch relations are all false,
lying pamphlets, and so also the relations of our own countrymen.
He believes that if there be no land north of lat. 80, that the sea
there is all frozen, &c. &c.

I shall conclude these extracts with the following little incident,
belonging to an episcopal visitation in the century before the last.

*' Monday, August 2nd, 1680. From Salisbury to Basingstoke,
thirty miles ; where being a visitation of the Bishops, Mr. Carter,
who found it a long time now to the next presentment, sat drinking
with his churchwardens next chamber to me, and after drink had
well warmed them, a case of doctrine or discipline engaged them in
a quarrel, which broke out into defiance and cuffs, and about mid-
night raised the house to keep the peace, but so fruitlessly, that
between skirmishing, parleys, and loud defiances, the whole night
was spent in noise and tumult, of which I had more than sleep. In
the morning when I rose all was quiet, and the parson a-bed, where
he was like to be kept past his ale and sleep, his gown having more
of the honour of a tattered colours than a divinity robe !"



The following directions appear to have been set down for some
foreigner about to visit .England. They are curious, as affording a
comparison with the improvement of the present time.

" ENGLAND. 1679-

" The sports of England, which, perhaps, a curious stranger would
be glad to see, are horse-racing, hawking, and hunting. Bowling. —



134 THE LIFE OF

At Marebone and Putney he may see several persons of quality
bowling two or three times a week all the summer ; wrestling, in
Lincoln's Inne Field every evening all the summer ; bear and bull-
baiting, and sometime prizes, at the Bear-Garden ; shooting in the
long-bow and stob-ball, in Tothill Fields ; cudgel-playing, in several
places in the country ; and hurling, in Cornwall.

" London ; — See the East India House, and their magazines ; the
Custom House ; the Thames, by water, from London Bridge to
Deptford ; and the King's Yard at Deptford ; the sawing-windmill ;
Tradescant's garden and closet ; Sir James Morland's closet and
water-works ; the iron mills at Wandsworth, four miles above Lon-
don, upon the Thames ; or rather those in Sussex ; Paradise by
Hatton Garden ; the glass-house at the Savoy, and at Vauxhall.
Eat fish in Fish Street, especially lobsters, Colchester oysters, and a
fresh cod*s-head. The veal and beef are excellent good in London ;
the mutton better in several counties in England. A venison pasty
and a chine of beef are good every where ; and so are crammed
capons and .fat chii3kens. Railes and heath-polts, ruffs, and reeves,
are excellent meat wherever they can be met with. Puddings of
several sorts, and creams of several fashions, both excellent, but
they are seldom to be found, at least in their perfection, at common
eating-houses. Mango and saio are two sorts of sauces brought
from the East Indies. Bermuda oranges and potatoes, both ex-
ceeding good in their kind. Chedder and Cheshire cheese.

" Men excellent in their Arts.

" Mr. Cox, in Long Acre, for all sorts of dioptical glasses.

" Mr. Opheel, near the Savoy, for all sorts of machines.

" Mr. , for a new invention he has, and teaches to copy all

sorts of pictures, plans, or to take prospects of places.

" The King's gunsmith, at the Yard by Whitehall.

•' Mr. Not, in the Pall Mall, for binding of books.

" The Fire-eater.

" At an ironmonger's, near the May-pole, in the Strand, is to be
found a great variety of iron instruments, and utensils of all kinds.



JOHN LOCKE. J35

" At Bristol see the Hot-well ; St. George's Cave, where the
Bristol diamonds are found ; Ratcliff Church ; and at Kingwood
the coal-pits. Taste there Milford oysters, marrow-puddings, cock-
ale, metheglin, white and red muggets, elvers, sherry, sack, (which,
with sugar, is called Bristol milk ;) and some other wines, which,
perhaps, you will not drink so good at London.

" At Glocester observe the whispering place in the Cathedral.

" At Oxford see all the colleges, and their libraries ; the schools,
and public library ; and the physic-garden. Buy there knives and
gloves, especially white kid-skin ; and the cuts of all the colleges
graved by Loggins.

" If you go into the North, see the Peak in Derbyshire, described
by Hobbs, in a Latin poem, called " Mirabilia Pecci."

" Home-made drinks of England are beer and ale, strong and
small ; those of most note, that are to be sold, are Lambeth ale,
Margaret ale, and Derby ale ; Herefordshire cider, perry, mede.
There are also several sorts of compounded ales, as cock-ale, worm-
wood-ale, lemon-ale, scurvygrass-ale, college-ale, &c. These are to be
had at Hercules Pillars, near the Temple ; at the Trumpet, and
Other houses in Sheer Lane, Bell Alley ; and, as I remember, at the
English Tavern, near Charing Cross.

" Foreign drinks to be found in England are all sorts of Spanish,
Greek, Italian, Rhenish, and other wines, which are to be got up
and down at several taverns. CofFe, the, and chocolate, at coffee-
houses. Mum at the mum houses, and other places ; and Molly, a
drink of Barbadoes, by chance at some Barbadoes merchants.
Punch, a compounded drink, on board some West India ships ; and
Turkish sherbet amongst the merchants.

" Manufactures of cloth, that will keep out rain ; flanel, knives,
locks and keys ; scabbards for swords ; several things wrought in
steel, as little boxes, heads for canes, boots, riding-whips, Rippon
spurs, saddles, &c.

" At Nottingham dwells a man who makes fans, hatbands.



136 THE LIFE OF

necklaces, and other things of glass, drawn out into very small
threads."

Locke arrived in London from the Continent on the 8th of May,
as has been before mentioned. He had perhaps prolonged inten-
tionally his residence at Paris, to avoid witnessing the folly and fury
of his friends in England on the subject of the Popish Plot. It is
indeed very probable that the two following reflections in his Jour-
nal, which he wrote whilst at Paris, were suggested by the state, I
will not say of public opinion, but of public fury in England. His
words are " where power and not the good exercise of it give re-
putation, all the injustice, falsehood, violence, and oppression that
attains that, (power) goes for wisdom and ability;" and again, " re-
ligions are upheld and factions maintained, and the shame of being
disesteemed by those with whom one hath lived, and to whom one
would recommend oneself, is the great source and direction of most
of the actions of men."

On his return to England, this observation is found in his
Journal.

" June 17th 1679. Opinion. A thinking and considerate man
cannot believe any thing with a firmer assent than is due to the
evidence and validity of those reasons on which it is founded ; yet
the greatest part of men not examining the probability of things in
their own nature, nor the testimony of those who are their vouchers,
take the common belief or opinion of those of their country, neigh-
bourhood, or party, to be proof enough, and so believe, as well as
live by fashion and example ; and these men are zealous Turks as
well as Christians." It is evident from these notes, that the writer
partook not of the popular phrensy which had so long prevailed in
England, and had not as yet entirely subsided.

The same asthmatic complaint which had induced him to leave
England in 1675, was now an obstacle to any long-continued resi-
dence in London, and obliged him to pass the winter season for the
most part, either at Oxford or in the West. This absence must
have been a subject of regret, since Shaftesbury, who had recalled



JOHN LOCKE. J37

him from France, was now either in power, or deeply engaged in the
politics of that eventful period.

The events of Locke's life henceforward became so much con-
nected with the history of the time, that it will be necessary to give
a short outline of the political transactions which ended in the
triumph of the Court, and enabled Charles II. to trample on the
liberties of his country.

The Parliament which had originally been chosen in 1661, that
pensioned Parliament as it was called, that obedient and subservient
Parliament as it certainly was, beginning at last to manifest distrust
of the King, was after a long life dissolved in December 1678, and
the next Parliament, which met in March, 1679, proving equially
unmanageable, the King determined by the advice of Temple, to
call some of the popular leaders to his Council, of which Shaftesbury
was made President. It did not escape the penetration of that great
politician, that he never'possessed more than the appearance of Court
favour. He resolved, therefore, although in the King's cabinet, to
adhere to the popular party by strongly supporting the Bills for the
exclusion of the Duke of York, or those for the limitation of his
power, which were frequently urged forward by the popular leaders
in Parliament. He was also mainly instrumental in passing the
Habeas Corpus Act, a measure particularly obnoxious to the Court.

A new Parliament having been chosen, the King, who with all
the Tory party, looked with great apprehension to the expected
meeting, determined by his own act without the concurrence of his
Council, propria motu, to prevent its assembling by a prorogation.
He knew well, that he should be opposed by the popular leaders
whom he had admitted to his Council, and therefore decided with-
out their advice. Upon this. Lord Russell resigned in disgust, and
Shaftesbury quitted his office of President of the Council.

After dissolutions, and new Parliaments in rapid succession, the
Parliament which was summoned to meet at Oxford 1680, was the
last that was allowed to assemble in the reign of Charles II. The
country party had a decided majority in the election of the members



138



THE LIFE OF



of that House of Commons ; and even in the county of Oxford it
seems that all the four candidates were on that side. The chief
difficulty therefore, for the leaders of the country party, was a proper
choice of friends, as appears by a letter from Shaftesbury to Locke
on the subject of the elections.

" MR. LOCKE, Feb. 19th, 1681.

" I AM extremely obliged to you, and so are all the rest of the Lords,
for the trouble we have put you to. This bearer comes from us all, to
take possession of our allotments in Baliol- College, and to provide things
necessary. He is ordered in the first place, to address himself to you.

" We are told here, that you have four very worthy men stand for
Knights of the county of Oxford. 'Tis unhappy that We should make
trouble and expense amongst Ourselves ; the two last Knights were very
worthy men, and therefore 'tis much wished here, that you or some other
worthy person, would persuade Sir Philip Harcourt and Sir John Norris to
sit down. Those that deserved well in the last Parliament ought in right
to have the preference ; and at this rate of Parliaments, I wish all our friends
have not more than time enough to be weary. I shall trouble you no
further at present.

" I am your most affectionate friend and servant,

Shaftesbury."

If the only difficulty which the country party- at that time had,
was to make the best selection of members most friendly to their
cause ; if the temper of the Commons was generally adverse to the
Court, and there is no reason to doubt that it was so, since the Ex-
clusion Bill, and all the other obnoxious measures were pressed on
in Parliament with much activity,— the triumph which the King
gained in the course of the next two years after the dissolution of
the Oxford Parliament is the more extraordinary. He had, we
know, the powerful assistance of the Church, acting in perfect union
zealously to enforce and firmly to establish in practice the slavish
principles contained in their famous manifesto of passive obedience
and non-resistance. Then began the campaign of judicial murders,
which continued without remorse or pity to the end of the reign of



JOHN LOCKE. 139

Charles II. Argyle, Russell, and Sidney, fell martyrs to the vin-
dictive spirit of the Court. Shaftesbury was indicted of high trea-
son, but was saved by a verdict of ignoramus given by the Grand
Jury. He was indebted for his escape much more to the contrivance
of his friends than to the fairness of a Court of Justice. Hume,
who cannot be supposed to be favourable to him, says, "that as far
as swearing could go, the treason was clearly proved against Shaftes-
bury ; or rather so clearly as to merit no kind of credit or attention.
That veteran leader of a party, inured from his youth to faction and
intrigue, to cabals and conspiracies, was represented as opening
without reserve, his treasonable intentions to these obscure banditti,
and throwing out such violent and outrageous reproaches upon the
King, as none but men of low education like themselves could be
supposed to employ."

This was the last defeat which the Court sustained : the sheriffs,
after this time, were appointed by the Crown, the juries packed, and
writs of Quo Warranto issued against the corporations throughout
England. As it was evidently unsafe for any person, who had
incurred the displeasure of the court, to remain within its power,
Shaftesbury* made his retreat to Holland at the end of the year
1682. Locke, who had so long been connected with him, and had
been so much trusted by him, thought it more prudent to take
refuge also in Holland about the end of August 1683.

Lord Russell had already been executed, and as preparations
were at that very time making for the trial, or what is the same
thing, the execution of Sidney, it was evident that no person, who
had been connected with Shaftesbury and that party, however
innocent he might be, could consider himself safe, so long as he
remained within the reach of a vindictive Court, whose will was law,
and whose judges were often its degraded advocates, and always the
instruments of its vengeance.

Nothing perhaps can more clearly prove the unscrupulous atro-

• Shaftesbury died shortly after his arrival in Holland, and was buried at St. Giles's, in
Dorsetshire, Feb. 26, 1683, where Locke attended the funeral of his patron and his friend.

T 2



140 THE LIFE OF

city and violence of those unhappy times, than the form of Prayer,
or rather of commination against the country party, ordered by the
King's proclamation to be read, together with his declaration, in all
the churches on the 9th of September, 1683. It is indeed lament-
able to observe that the Church of England then made herself the
willing handmaid of a bloody Government, exciting the passions of
the congregations, and through them inflaming the juries before
the trials of all the accused were finished.-j- The following compo-
sition may be presumed to be the pious production of the heads of
our Church at that time, though from its tone and spirit, it should
seem rather to have proceeded from the mouth of the Mufti and
the Ulema than from the Bishops and rulers of the Christian Church
of England.

The Prayer is taken from the authorised copy printed by the
King's printer.

" His Majestie's Declaration to all his loveing subjects concerning
the treasonable conspiracy against his sacred person and govern-
ment, appointed to be read in all churches.

"Charles Rex. — It has been our observation that for several
years last past a malevolent party has made it their business to pro-
mote sedition by libellous pamphlets, and other wicked arts, to ren-
der our government odious, &c. &c.

" But it pleased God to open the eyes of our good subjects, &c. &c.

******

And convince the common people of the villainous designs of their

factious leaders, &c."

******

■\ After the commitment of Lord Russell and Algernon Sydney, Hampden, the grandson of
the great Hampden, was by the Council committed also to the Tower, charged with high
treason ; but as only one witness, Lord Howard, could be procured to appear against him, he
was arraigned on a charge of misdemeanor, on the 28th of November, 1684, and grievously
fined. He was afterwards tried for high treason, that is tried a second time for the same offence,



Online LibraryPeter King KingThe life of John Locke, with extracts from his correspondence, journals, and common-place books → online text (page 13 of 37)