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THE CONDUCT OF THE UNDERSTANDING
JOAN LOCKE, GENT.
COMPLETE, IN ONE VOLUME: WITH THE AUTHOR'S LAST ADDITIONS AND
193 MARKET STREET.
Entered, according to the act of congress, in the vear 1833, by James Kay Jun. & Brother, in the office of the clerk of the district court of the United States in and for the eastern district of Pennsylvania
LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
JOHN LOCKE, one of the most eminent philosophers, and valuable writers of his age and country, was born at Wrington, in Somersetshire on the 29th August 1632. His father, who had been bred to the law, acted in the capacity of steward, or court-keeper to colonel Alexander Popham, by whose interest, on the breaking out of the civil law, he became a captain in the service of parliament. The subject of this article was sent, at a proper age, to Westminster school, whence he was elected in loi to Christ-church college, Oxford. Here he much distinguished himself for his application and proficiency; and having taken the degree of BA. in 1655, and of MA. in 1658, he applied himself to the study of physic. In the year 1664, he accepied of an offer to go abroad, in the capacity of secretary to sir William Swan, appointed envoy from Charles II. to the elector of Brandenburg, and other German princes; but he returned in the course of a year, and resumed his studies with renewed ardour. In 1666 he was introduced to Lord Ashley, afterwards the celebrated political earl of Shaftesbury, to whom he became essentially serviceable in his medical capacity, and who was led to form so high an opinion of his general powers, that he prevailed upon him to take up his residence in his house, and urged him to apply his studies to politics and philosophy. By his acquaintance with this nobleman, Mr Locke was introduced to the duke of Buckingham, the earl of Halifax, and others of the most eminent persons of their day. In 1668, at the request of the earl and countess of Northumberland, he accompanied them in a tour to France; and on his return was employed by lord Ashley, then chancellor of the exchequer, in drawing up the fundamental constitutions of the American state of Carolina. He also inspected the education of that nobleman's son, and was much consulted on the marriage of the latter, the eldest son, by which was the celebrated author of the Characteristics. In 1670 he began to form the plan of his Essay on the Human Understanding; and about the same time was made a fellow of the royal society. In 1672 lord Ashley, having been created earl of Shafles. bury, and raised to the dignity of chancellor, he appointed Mr Locke to the office of secretary of presentations, which, however, he lost the following year, when the earl was obliged to resign the seals. Being still president of the board of trade, that nobleman then made Mr Locke secretary to the same; but the commission being dissolved in 1674, he lost that appointment also. In the following year he graduated as a bachelor of physic, and being apprehensive of a consumption, travelled into France, and resided some time at Montpelier. In 1679 he returned to England, at the request of the earl of Shaftesbury, then again restored to power; and in 1682, when that nobleman was obliged to retire to Holland, he accompanied himn in his exile. On the death of his patron in that country, aware how much he was disliked by the predominant arbitrary faction at home, he chose to remain abroad; and was in consequence accused of being the author of certain
tracts against the English government; and although these were afterwards discovered to be the work of another person, he was arbitrarily ejected from his studentship of Christ church, by the king's command. Thus assailed, he continued abroad, nobly refusing to accept a pardon, which the celebrated William Penn undertook to procure for him, expressing himself like the chancellor L'Hospital, in similar circumstances, ignorant of the crimes of which he had been declared guilty. In 1685, when Monmouth undertook his ill-concerted enterprize, the English envoy at the Hague demanded the person of Mr Locke, and several others, which demand obliged him to conceal himself for nearly a year; but in 1686 he again appeared in public, and formed. a literary society at Amsterdam, in conjunction with Limborch, Le Clerc and others. During the time of his concealment, he also wrote his first “ Letter concerning Toleration,” which was printed at Gouda, in 1689, under the title of “ Epistola de Tolerantia," and was rapidly translated into Dutch, French, and English. At the Revolution, this eminent person returned to England in the fleet which conveyed the princess of Orange, and being deemed a sufferer for the principles on which it was established, he was made a commissioner of appeals, and was soon after gratified by the establishment of toleration by law. In 1690 he published his celebrated “Essay concerning Human Understanding," which was in. stantly attacked by various writers among the oracles of learning, most of whose names are now forgotten. It was even proposed, at a meeting of the heads of houses of the university of Oxford, to formally censure and discourage it ; but nothing was finally resolved upon, but that each master should endeavour to prevent its being read in his college. Neither this, however, nor any other opposition availed; the reputation, both of the work and of the author, increased throughout Europe; and besides being translated into French and Latin, it had reached a fourth English edition, in 1700. In 1690 Mr Locke published his second Letter on Toleration ;" and in the same year appeared his two “ Treatises on Government,” in oppo. sition to the principles of sir Robert Filmer, and of the whole passive obedient school. He next wrote a pamphlet, entitled, “Some Considerations of the Consequences of lowering the Interest and Value of Money," 1691, 8vo, which was followed by other smaller pieces on the same subject. In 1692 he published a third - Letter on Toleration;" and the following year his “ Thoughts concerning Education.” In 1695 he was made a commis. sioner of trade and plantations, and in the same year published his “ Reasonableness of Christianity, as delivered in the Scriptures;" which being warmly attacked by Dr Edwards, in his “ Socinianism Unmasked," Mr Locke followed with a first and second “ Vindication,” in which he defended himself with great mastery. The use made by Toland, and other latitudinarian writers, of the premises laid down in the « Essay on the Human Understanding,” at length produced an opponent in the celebrated bishop Stillingfleet, who, in his “ Defence of the Doctrine of the Trinity," censured some passages in Mr Locke's essay, and a controversy arose, in which the great reading and proficiency in ecclesiastical antiquities of the prelate, necessarily yielded in an argumentative contest to the reasoning powers of the philosopher. With his publications in this controversy, which were distinguished by peculiar mildness and urbanity, Mr Locke retired from the press, and his asthmatic complaint increasing, with the rec. titude which distinguished the whole of his conduct, he resigned his post of commissioner of trade and plantations, although king William was very unwilling to receive it, observing, that he could not in conscience hold a situation to which a considerable salary was attached, without performing the duties of it. From this time he lived wholly in retirement, where he applied himself to the study of scripture ; while the sufferings incidental to his disorders were materially alleviated by the kind attentions and agreeable conversation of lady Masham, who was the daughter of the learned
Dr Cudworth, and for many years his intimate friend. Mr Locke existed aearly two years in a very declining state, and at length expired in a man. ner correspondent with his great piety, equanimity, and rectitude, on the 28tn of October, 1704. He was buried at Oates, where there is a peat monument erected to his memory, with a modest Latin inscription indited by himself. The moral, social, and political character of this eminent and valuable man, is sufficiently illustrated by the foregoing brief account of his life and labours; and the effect of his writings upon the opinions, and even fortunes of mankind, will form the most forcible eulogium on his mental superiority. Of his “ Essay on the Human Understanding” it may be said, that no book of the metaphysical class has ever been more generally read; or, looking to its overthrow of the doctrine of innate ideas, none has produced greater consequences. In the opinion of Dr Reed he gave the first example in the English language of writing on abstract subjects with simplicity and perspicuity. No author has more successfully pointed out the danger of ambiguous words, and of having distinct notions on subjects of judgment and reasoning; while his observations on the various powers of the human understanding, on the use and abuse of words, and on the extent and limits of human knowledge, are drawn from an attentive reflection on the operations of his own mind, the only source of genuine knowledge on those subjects. Several topics, no doubt, are introduced into this celebrated production, which do not strictly belong to it, and some of its opinions have been justly controverted. In some instances, too, its author is verbose, and wanting in his characteristic perspicuity; but with all these exceptions, and even amidst the improvements in metaphysical studies, to which this work itself has mainly conduced, it will ever prove a valuable guide in the acquirement of the science of the human mind. His next great work, his "Two Treatises on Government," although necessarily opposed by the theorists of divine right and passive obedience, and by writers of jacobitical tendencies, essentially espouses the principles which, by placing the house of Brunswick on the throne of Great Britain, may be deemed the constitutional doctrine of the country, and as such it has been ably and unanswerably defended. Besides the works already mentioned, Mr Locke left several MSS. behind him, from which his executors, sir Peter King and Mr. Anthony Collins, published in 1706, his paraphrase and notes upon St Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, Corinthians, Romans, and Ephesians, with an essay prefixed for the understanding of St Paul's Epistles, by a reference to St Paul himself. In 1706 the same parties published, “ Posthumous Works of Mr Locke," 8vo, comprising a treatise “On the Conduct of the Understanding;" "An Examination of Male. branche's Opinion of seeing all Things in God,” &c.