Page images
PDF
EPUB

peradventure the study that ought to take the first and chiefest place in our thoughts; but wherein it consists, its parts, method, and application, will deserve a chapter by itself.

• 2. The next thing to happiness in the other world, is a quiet prosperous passage through this, which requires a discreet conduct and management of ourselves in the several occurrences of our lives. The study of prudence then seems to me to deserve the second place in our thoughts and studies. A man may be, perhaps, a good man (which lives in truth and sincerity of heart towards God) with a small portion of prudence, but he will never be very happy in himself, nor useful to others without: these two are every man's business.

* 3. If those who are left by their predecessors with a plentiful fortune, are excused from having a particular calling, in order to their subsistence in this life, it is yet certain that, by the law of God, they are under an obligation of doing something.

Our happiness being thus parcelled out, and being in every part of it very large, it is certain we should set ourselves on work without ceasing, did not both the parts we are made up of bid us hold. Our bodies and our minds are neither of them capable of continual study; and if we take not a just measure of our strength, in endeavouring to do a great deal, we shall do nothing.

• The knowledge we acquire in this world, I am apt to think extends not beyond the limits of this life. The beautiful vision of the other life needs not the help of this dim twilight; but, be that as it will, I am sure the principal end why we are to get knowledge here, is to make use of it for the benefit of ourselves and others in this world; but if by gaining it we destroy our health, we labour for a thing that will be useless in our hands; and if by harassing our bodies (though with a design to render ourselves more useful)

we deprive ourselves of the abilities and opportunities of doing that good we might have done with a meaner talent, which God thought sufficient for us by having denied us the strength to improve it to that pitch which men of stronger constitutions can attain to, we rob God of so much service, and our neighbour of all that help which, in a state of health, with moderate knowledge, we might have been able to perform. He that sinks his vessel by overloading it, though it be with gold and silver and precious stones, will give his owner but an ill account of his voyage.

- The subject being chosen, the body and mind being both in a temper fit for study, what remains but that a man betake himself to it. These certainly are good preparatories ; yet, if there be not something else done, perhaps we shall not make all the profit we might.

• Ist. It is a duty we owe to God as the fountain and author of all truth, who is truth itself, and it is a duty also we owe ourselves, if we will deal candidly and sincerely with our own souls, to have our minds constantly disposed to entertain and receive truth wheresoever we meet with it, or under whatsoever appearance of plain or ordinary, strange, new, or perhaps displeasing, it may come in our way. Truth is the proper object, the proper riches and furniture of the mind; and according as his stock of this is, so is the difference and value of one man above another. He that fills his head with vain notions and false

a

a

opinions, may have his mind perhaps puffed up and seemingly much enlarged, but in truth it is narrow and empty; for all that it comprehends, all that it contains, amounts to nothing, or less than nothing ; for falsehood is below ignorance, and a lie worse than nothing.'

Locke returned to England in May 1679, his patron, Shaftesbury, being then at the head of the administration. From this period, he was committed to the fortunes of his leader, to whose politics his own corresponded, and in the support of which he now took a more active part. The necessities of Charles the Second had compelled him to call Shaftesbury and others to his councils; but that subtle politician found reasons to unite with the popular party, and becoming obnoxious to the Court, where he had possessed only the semblance of favour, he was obliged to provide for his safety. He retired into Holland, at the end of the year 1682, where he died soon after his arrival. Locke also took refuge in that country about the end of August 1683, where he remained till the extraordinary events which changed the politics of his native land, and introduced a new dynasty to the throne, had prepared the way for his safe and honourable return. Lord King has very briefly noticed the arbitrary measures of the Court, which, previously to Locke's constrained expatriation, had destroyed Lord Russell, and was preparing the mock and murderous trial of Sidney; and he very strongly remarks on the part which the church was taking in the support of them.

· Nothing, perhaps, can more clearly prove the unscrupulous atrocity 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 lamentable 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. The following composition 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.'

a

pp. 139, 140.

[ocr errors]

This form of Prayer is too copious to be laid before our readers. That time was not the only period in our annals that has afforded pregnant instances of the facility with which the bishops and rulers of the Church could yield to the unhallowed passions and purposes of the Court. We know not to whom is committed the actual preparation of the extraordinary Forms of Prayer in the Church of England; but even in our own day,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

these compositions have reflected any thing but credit on their authors. The last, for the King's Recovery, might put even an illiterate person to the blush.

The proceedings of the Court, flushed with its triumphs over the friends of liberty, and exulting in the success which had followed its measures of coercion and terror, were such as to furnish very abundant reasons for congratulation on the part of those who, like Locke, had been able to reach a foreign asylum. Unable to lay its vindictive hand upon the person of the man whose blood it would have been glad to shed, the vengeance of the Court sought its gratification by mean and grovelling me thods; and Locke, soon after his flight into Holland, was removed from his studentship at Christ Church by royal mandate. In this instance, says Mr. Fox,‘one would almost imagine there

was some instinctive sagacity in the Government of that time, ' which pointed out to them, even before he had made himself • known to the world, the man who was destined to be the most

successful adversary of superstition and tyranny.' The odium which attaches to this transaction, has been represented, and generally understood, as falling upon the University, which, according to Mr. Fox's account, cast away, from the base prin• ciple of servility, the man, the having produced whom is now · her chiefest glory.' Professor Stewart, following this account as his authority, speaks of Oxford as the University · from • which Mr. Locke had been expelled.' Lord Grenville, in the tract entitled, “ Oxford and Locke", has corrected these misstatements, and shewn, from an examination of the case, that Locke was deprived of his studentship by the dean and chapter of the college to which he belonged, in obedience to the command of the King. Lord King admits the correction, but remarks, that if we acquit the University of any direct share in the business,' we may not unfairly conclude from the spirit and temper then prevalent at Oxford, that the University was accessary to that disgraceful deed. Fell's letter to Sunderland, is stigmatized by Lord Grenville in the strongest terms. The meanness of Fell's letter', he remarks, 'no honest man could wish to palliate : it is stamped with an indelible brand of servility and treachery, and shews what are the moral feelings acceptable to despotism, and natural to slavery.' But the evidence is certainly as ample and as conclusive, in respect to this kind of moral feelings, against the University itself, as against Fell. Lord Grenville has been at great pains to exonerate the University altogether from the imputation or suspicion of being participant in the disgrace of Locke's removal. The known character of the University, however, and its public acts, forbid us to accept his vindication as a true and efficient defence. He has proved the fact as we have stated it, but he has done no

6

6

[ocr errors]

6

thing more. His tract is an elaborate apology for the learned body which has ever been distinguished for high church principles and political toryism. Professor Stewart, referring to the decree passed by the University of Oxford, in full convocation, on the very day of Lord Russell's execution, observes, that he should be truly happy for the honour of learning, if it could • be shewn, that this decree was the consequence of an equally • imperative interference on the part of Government.' Can that be shewn? A negative answer awaits the question. That decree at least was the spontaneous act of the University, which, in ample demonstration of its servility and intolerance, 'con• demned as impious and heretical, the principles upon which the constitution of this, and of every free country, maintains itself. What accordance can be found between the dogmas which were inculcated and honoured at Oxford, and the doctrines inculcated by Locke?

We are, however, much delighted with the homage which Lord Grenville has offered to the merits and the memory of the illustrious Author of the “ Two Treatises of Government" and the “ Letters on Toleration.” It is most gratifying to us to receive from the pen of the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, so exalted a eulogy as that which pronounces him to have been a 'wise and good man',-'one of the brightest orna'ments of the University',—' a philosopher famous to all ages

for the improvement of science, and the assertion of civil and • religious freedom',—whose voice has spoken in imperishable ' accents to Europe, and to posterity.' The Letters on Toleration are pronounced to be unanswerable'; a sentence which we should be happy to consider as an indication, that the mind of this celebrated statesman has felt the full influence of the spirit which pervades those Letters, and of the arguments by which the sacred principles of them are sustained. We are unable to dismiss from our recollections the fact, that Lord Grenville's public declarations and conduct have not always been in agreement with the unanswerable' positions and reasonings of Locke, pleading the inalienable rights of conscience; and we regret that the tract before us does not assist us to reach the conclusion in which we should most happily rest, that the maxim of Locke, • Absolute liberty, just and true liberty, equal * and impartial liberty', has been adopted by his Lordship in his retirement. Of the claims of the Roman Catholic subjects of the empire, Lord Grenville was ever a warm and efficient advocate; but his voluntary declaration, when asserting and urging their rights, was not wanting, that the relief sought by another class of subjects, certainly not less entitled to consider ation, ought not to be conceded. While Lord Grenville was the advocate of the Catholic claims, he opposed himself to the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. In the tract before us, (p. 23, Note, the noble Author has referred with warm and joyous feeling to the tardy recognition of the rights of the Catholic part of the community; but he has not enabled us to discover that the previous act of justice to Protestant Dissenters was equally acceptable to him. It is a very striking fact, in the history of the great transactions which are making way for human freedom to attain its full measure of rights, and its perfect and beneficent exercise, that the repeal of the disgraceful and dishonouring statutes which affected the Protestant Dissenters, notwithstanding that it was resisted most strenuously by Churchmen,—and declared by some of the most devoted advocates for the removal of Catholic disabilities, to be inadmissible, -while, by many most friendly to the object, it was viewed only as an ulterior measure to wait the disposal of the other,--should have been the first accomplished !- Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom.'

The persecution which had driven Locke from his own country, followed him into Holland. The English minister at the Hague demanded of the States General, that he should be given up, together with eighty-three others. He was obliged, therefore, to use great caution; and on one or two occasions, he requested information from his friends, which seems to indicate his sense of danger. Amsterdam, Cleves, Utrecht, and Rotterdam, were, at different times, the places of his residence. At Amsterdam, he became acquainted with Limborch, to whom many of his . Familiar Letters' are addressed, Le Clerc, Guenelon, and a few others. The last-named person was the first physician of Amsterdam, and was the father-in-law of M. Veen, in whose house, at the same place, he was concealed for two or three months in 1685. It was during this seclusion, that his • Letter on Toleration' was finished. During his residence in Holland, Locke kept up a regular correspondence with his friends in England ; and from some of the letters before us, received by him, he appears to have been regularly apprised of the passing events.

At length, Locke was restored to his native land. The Revolution, which Lord King calls a happy accident, but to which we must give a higher name, regarding it as a most signal instance of the Divine goodness vouchsafed to our country and to the world,-an event ever to be remembered, as the time when it became the business of patriotic men to undo the heavy burdens, and to break the galling yoke of despotism, this bright change enabled the exiles to return from a foreign soil, to benefit their own, by enriching it with the fruits of their matured wisdom and experience. An offer of diplomatic employment was almost immediately made to Locke by King Wil

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »