Slike strani



$ 1. JOHN LOCKE : his life. § 2. His style and works. The Letters on

Toleration. Treatise on Civil Government. $ 3. Essay concerning Human Understanding. $ 4. His minor essays. $ 5. Theologians and divines. Isaac BARROW: his life and attainments. His sermons. $6. JOHN PEARSON. $ 7. TILLOTSON. § 8. SOUTH. $ 9. STILLINGFLEET; THOMAS SPRAT; THOMAS Ken; WILLIAM SHERLOCK. § 1o. Progress of physical science towards the end of the seventeenth century. Origin of the Royal Society. Dr. JOHN WILKINS. $ 11. Scientific writers. § 12. Sir ISAAC NEWTON. § 13. RAY; BOYLE. § 14. THOMAS BURNET ; BISHOP BURNET.

$1. At the Revolution of 1688, side by side with the establishment of constitutional freedom in the state, appeared remarkable manifestations of practical progress in science and philosophy: It was this period that produced John Locke Newton in physical, and Locke in intellectual science. Life. JOHN LOCKE was the son of an attorney at Pensford in Somerset. He was born at Wrington in the same county, and was educated at Westminster School. In 1652 he entered Christ Church, Oxford, where he obtained a senior studentship and lectureships in Greek and moral His life at

Oxford. philosophy. However, he managed to get exemption from taking Orders as his studentship prescribed, and devoted himself to the study of physics and especially of medicine, intending to become a doctor. But his constitution was naturally weak, and he suffered from a tendency to asthma, which in after life compelled him to retire from his public employments. It is certain that his intellectual experience of Oxford must have given him a distaste and contempt for the scholastic method of philosophy which was still prevalent in the University, and must have excited in him a strong hostility to that stationary or, rather, retrograde spirit which sheltered itself under the venerable and much-abused name of Aristotle. During his thirteen years of residence at Christ Church he cultivated a strong taste for metaphysical subjects, and there can be no question that he saw, early in life, the advantage of the experimental or inductive theory of which Bacon was the apostle, and the necessity of its application. In 1665 he went on a diplomatic mission to the Elector of Brandenburg, as secretary to Sir Walter Vane, and, on his return to Oxford in the following year, refused a flattering offer of a post in Lord Sandwich's embassy to Spain. In July, 1666, his medical skill made him acquainted with Lord Ashley, afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury, who became so celebrated for his political talent and for his unprincipled and factious conduct as Chancellor and as

head of the Parliamentary opposition. Shaftesbury's His friend friendship was fortunate for Locke. He attached Shaftesbury.

the young scholar to his household, and entrusted

him with the education, first of his son, and afterwards of his grandson, the subsequent author of the Character. istics. In his house Locke was brought into constant and intimate contact with the most distinguished politicians and literary men of the day-Halifax the Trimmer, the Duke of Buckinghamshire, and many others. As a political disciple of his patron, he had a certain amount of lively excitement. When Shaftesbury became Chancellor in 1672, Locke was nominated secretary of presentations. Shaftesbury, however, fell next year, but Locke was almost at once reappointed secretary to the council of trade, the reason for this, doubtless, lying in the fact that, in 1669, he had taken a principal interest, the extent of which we cannot exactly tell, in the scheme for colonising Carolina. In 1675, when the council of trade was dissolved, he visited France for his health, and, in his journal and letters, gave an accurate but uncomplimentary account of French society, written in a style which, for a very correct and even prosy author, is almost amusing. He returned to England in 1679, and, during Shaftesbury's second ministry, acted as his confidential adviser and agent. This was the historical period of the Exclusion Bill. Shaftesbury, as is well known, was at the head of a furious agitation, urging a measure for depriving the Duke of York of his right of succession, on the ground that his sympathies with the Roman faith were detrimental to the constitution. A second time Shaftesbury fell from power, was arraigned for high treason, and, although the jury ignored the bill of indictment, fled to Holland, where he died in 1683

Locke followed his patron to the Low Countries, and, during the troubles of James II's reign, found there a safe and tranquil

retreat. Holland was full of illustrious exiles and Life of Locke malcontents, and Locke profited by their society. It after the

is not to be supposed that his political sympathies

or his metaphysical theories were very popular in his University; and accordingly, in 1684, he was deprived of his studentship at Christ Church, and was denounced as a factious and rebellious agitator and as a dangerous heresiarch in philosophy. Four years later he was able to turn the tables upon his enemies. He returned to England in the fleet which conveyed Queen Mary from Holland to assume her share in the crown; and, from this time onwards, he enjoyed a brilliant and


ment and


useful career. He took a prominent share in Montagu's most difficult and critical recall and re-issue of the silver coinage, which was probably the most vitally important feature of William and Mary's reign; and, in the same year (1696), became a member of the new council of trade. He was at this time an old man, and his weak health obliged him in 1700 to retire. During the last four years of his life he His retire. resided at Oates in Essex, the seat of his friend Sir

death. Francis Masham. Lady Masham, an accomplished and intellectual woman, was a daughter of Ralph Cudworth, the Cambridge Platonist; and the Oxford philosopher was thoroughly welcome under her roof. He died in

Character 1704, and was buried at High Laver, near Oates. and relaHis personal character seems to have been un- tions with usually blameless and perfect, and bis high philosophical ideals found an echo in his life. He had, on his return to England, formed the acquaintance of Sir Isaac Newton, who had been employed, like himself, in the public service; but, somewhere about 1692, certain untoward events, of which the principal was the accidental burning of his papers, seem to have shaken, if not to have overthrown the balance of Newton's mind for a season. Querulous, suspicious, and irritable, he picked a quarrel with Locke, whom he accused of “ embroiling him with women, and other things.” Locke, however, treated the charge with delicacy and forbearance, and by gentle expostulations and wise advice, re-established a good understanding that was never again

interrupted. $ 2. Judged by modern canons of taste, Locke's style is dull, bald, and prosaic. Nevertheless, it is an excellent example of the colourless style which is the general feature of

Locke's style. his epoch, and it has the additional advantage of being exactly the thing he meant it to be, neither more nor less-eminently correct and plain, full of common-sense, and free from undue pedantry. He himself attached importance to an easy narrative style, and, in his Thoughts on Education, he expresses himself emphatically upon the necessity of critical study and labour “to get a facility, clearness, and elegancy” in writing English. All these he possessed in the degree which was then exactly appropriate, and to underrate his style is simply to reduce the style of his age to its lowest terms. It is impossible for anyone who is not a professed philosopher to estimate the place which this correct writer occupies in the history of his science. His theories have suffered from a reaction ; his system has been proved to be neither deep nor permanent enough to stand the test of more recent application ; like Machiavelli, his arguments, expedient in their own day, are found less useful in another, and involve consequences which, in a different state of things, are foreign to his aim. But the Essay concerning Human Understanding has kept its place among the text-books of metaphysics, and


on Tolera. tion."


the author's name is a landmark in the history of English philosophy.

The Essay was the work of his life. It occupied him for eighteen years, and he seems to have brought its material

into shape, for the most part, during his exile in the Letters

Low Countries. His first separately published work was, however, his First Letter on Toleration, which

appeared at Gouda in 1689. This was in Latin, but was immediately translated into French and English. Its sequels, the Second and Third Letters, were published anonymously in 1690. Locke's ground had been already occupied, to some extent, by two far more eloquent works, Jeremy Taylor's Liberty of Prophesying, and Milton's immortal Areopagitica, but his method was very different. As a rationalist and sceptic, he drew his arguments less from Scriptural and patristic authority than Taylor ; as the disciple of common-sense, he depended more upon close reasoning and considerations of practical utility than Milton. Of course, there is no trace in Locke's work of that gorgeous and imposing rhetoric which glows and blazes all through the Areopagitica ; but perhaps Locke's calm logic has not contributed less powerfully to establish an universal conviction of the justice of his cause. In 1690 there also appeared his

Two Treatises of Government, which were under" Treatises

taken as a counterblast to the theories of divine of Govern- right and passive obedience which were still held ment."

by the extreme monarchical party, and nowhere so firmly as at Oxford ; and, in consequence, as a logical justification of William's succession to the crown.

Its especial object was to provide an effective answer to Sir Robert Filmer's Patriarcha, which had been published ten years before, and had presented the Royalist party with a manual defending divine right and its kindred doctrines in their full crudeness, but applying to them the resources of learning and ingenuity. Filmer's theory was that monarchical government, as the representative of the patriarchal authority of primitive times, claims from the subject an unlimited obedience. Patriarchal authority is the image of the power naturally possessed by a parent over his offspring ; and this, in its turn, is the same in nature as the power of the Creator over his creature. As the Creator's power is essentially infinite, it follows, said Filmer, that all the others are so likewise. Locke, on the other hand, sought for the origin of government, and, consequently, of the ground of authority on the one hand and of obedience on the other, in the common interest of society. It is lawful, he said, to acquiesce in any form of polity which secures that interest, while none that fails to secure it can claim exemption from resistance on the ground of its authority. He further investigates the origin of society, and discovers that its foundation rests upon the great and fertile principle of property and individual interest,


$ 3. 1690, further, was the year of the Essay concerning Humanı Understanding. Thus, it will be seen, all Locke's most important contributions to philosophy were produced

Essay at a birth, when he was full of years and honour. The Essay was, however, the epitome of the reflections ing Human, and researches of his whole life, and he devoted to ing" (1690). it all his powers of close deduction and accurate observation. His object was to give a rational and clear account of the nature of the human mind, of the real character of our ideas, and of the manner in which they are presented

Its theory. to the consciousness. He attributes them all, whatever be their nature, to two, and only two, sources, the first of which he calls sensation, and the second reflection. His theory thus opposes the notion that there are any innate ideas, that is, ideas which have existed in the mind independently of impressions made upon the senses, or of those impressions when compared, recollected, or combined, by the judgment, memory, or imagination. Locke's reasoning is eminently inductive ; he was the first person to apply the method of experiment and observation to the obscure phenomena of mental operations ; and thus he is to be regarded as the most illustrious disciple of Bacon, whose mode of reasoning he applied to a field of research usually considered to lie beyond the reach of a posteriori logic. If his conclusions are too speciously fitted to the popular taste of his age, his method is, at any rate, accompanied by a shrewd and careful observation which makes it very valuable. The following brief analysis of the work may be found useful to the student :

In Book I, which consists of four chapters, Locke enquires into the nature of the understanding, and demonstrates that there exist neither innate speculative, nor innate practical principles. Book 11, containing thirty- Analysis of three chapters, is devoted to the examination of the nature of ideas-first simple ideas, and then ideas of solidity, space, duration, number, infinity, and the like. He then passes to the ideas of pleasure and pain, of substance, of relations, as, for example, of cause and effect, and concludes with the important question of the association of ideas. Book III, divided into eleven chapters, is a most original and masterly investigation of the nature and properties of language, of its relation to the ideas of which it is the vehicle, and of its ubuses and imperfections. This, in the present day, when parts of Locke's general theory are open to doubt, is the most valuable portion of the essay. Book IV, which is in twenty-one chapters, discusses knowledge in general, its degrees, its extent, and its reality. This brings us to the nature of truth, of our knowledge of existence, of our knowledge of the existence of a God, and of other beings. Then follow various important investigations relating to judgment, probability, reason, faith, and the degrees of intellectual assent; and, after some reflections on enthusiasm

« PrejšnjaNaprej »