Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of practising a profession, and, being also relieved from the pressure of public affairs, was free to follow his bent. It is probably to the leisure almost enforced upon him by the weakness of his health, as well as by the turn which public affairs had taken, and rendered possible by the independence of his position, that we are indebted for the maturity of reflection which forms so characteristic a feature of his subsequent writings.

CHAPTER III

RESIDENCE IN FRANCE.-FURTHER RELATIONS WITH SHAFTES BURY.-EXPULSION FROM CHRIST CHURCH.

THE state of Locke's health had long rendered it desirable that he should reside in a warmer climate, and his release from official duties now removed any obstacle that there might formerly have been to his absence from England. The place which he selected for his retirement was Montpellier, at that time the most usual place of resort for invalids who were able to leave their own country. He left London about the middle of November, 1675, with one if not more companions, and, after experiencing the ordinary inconveniences of travel in those days of slow locomotion and poor inns, arrived at Paris on Nov. 24, and at Lyons on Dec.

II.

At Lyons, he remarks of the library at the Jesuits' College that it "is the best that ever I saw, except Oxford, being one very high oblong square, with a gallery round, to come at the books." As before, in the North of Germany, so now in the South of France, he is a diligent observer of everything of interest, whether in the way of customs, occupations, or buildings, that falls in his way. He reached Montpellier on Christmas Day, and, except when making short excursions in the neighbourhood, resided there continuously till the early spring of 1677, a period of fourteen months. At Montpellier I have not been able to find any trace of him, either in the library or elsewhere, but his journal shows that he was much interested in the trade and products of the country, as well as in the objects which usually excite the curiosity of travellers. At Shaftesbury's instigation he wrote a little treatise, entitled, "Observations upon the Growth and Culture of Vines and Olives, the Production of Silk, and the Preservation of Fruits." It is curious that this small tract was never published till 1766. It enumerates no less than forty-one varieties of grapes, and thirteen varieties of olives, which were grown in the neighbourhood of Montpellier. The ceremonial and doings of the States of Languedoc attracted Locke's attention, but he does not seem to have been present at their deliberations. He witnessed, however, their devotions at the Church of Notre Dame, and remarks that the Cardinal Archbishop of Narbonne, who took part in the offices, kept "talking every now and then, and laughing with the bishops next him." The increasing incidence of the taxation on the lower

and middle orders, and the growing poverty of the people, were topics which could hardly fail to arrest the attention of any intelligent traveller at that time. "The rent of lands in France is fallen one half in these few years, by reason of the poverty of the people. Merchants and handicraftsmen pay near half their gains." Among the more interesting entries in his journal are the following:-March 18 (N.S.). "Monsieur Rennaie, a gentleman of the town, in whose house Sir J. Rushworth lay, about four years ago, sacrificed a child to the devil-a child of a servant of his own--upon a design to get some money. Several murders committed here since I came, and more attempted; one by a brother on his sister, in the house where I lay." March 22 (N.S.): "The new philosophy of Des Cartes prohibited to be taught in universities, schools, and academies." It is plain from the journal that Locke's mind was now busy with the class of questions which were afterwards treated in the Essay: reflections on space, the extent of possible knowledge, the objects and modes of study, etc., being curiously interspersed with his notes of travel. In respect of health, he does not seem to have benefited much by his stay at Montpellier, which, as before stated, he left in the early spring of 1677. By slow stages he travelled to Paris, where he joined a pupil, the son of Sir John Banks, who had been commended to his supervision by Shaftesbury. The tutorial engagement lasted for nearly two years, and, in consequence of it, Locke remained in France longer than he had originally intended. In a letter written to his old friend Mapletoft from Paris in June, 1677, after some playful allusions to Mapletoft's love affairs, he says:-" My health is the only mistress I have a long time courted, and is so coy a one that I think it will take up the remainder of my days to obtain her good graces and keep her in good humour." There can be no question that, at this time, the state of his health was a matter of very serious concern to him, and it may possibly have been the cause of his not marrying. While in Paris he probably took a pretty complete holiday, seeing the sights, however, making occasional excursions, forming new acquaintances, and exercising a general supervision over the education of his young charge.

At the end of June, 1678, Locke, accompanied probably by his pupil, left Paris with the view of making his way leisurely to Montpellier, and thence to Rome. He travelled westward by way of Orleans, Blois, and Angers. On the banks of the Loire he noticed the poverty-stricken appearance of the country. "Many of the towns they call bourgs; but, considering how poor and few the houses in most of them are, would in England scarce amount to villages. The houses generally were but one story. . . . The gentlemen's seats, of which we saw many, were most of them rather bearing marks of decay than of thriving and being well kept." Montpellier was reached early in October, and, after a short stay there, he went on to Lyons, with the view of commencing his journey to Rome. But the depth of the snow on Mont Cenis was fatal to this design. Twice Locke had formed plans to visit Rome,

"the time set, the company agreed," and both times he had been disappointed. "Were I not accustomed," he says, " to have fortune to dispose of me contrary to my design and expectation, I should be very angry to be thus turned out of my way, when I made sure in a few days to mount the Capitol and trace the footsteps of the Scipios and the Cæsars." He had now nothing left but to turn back to Paris, where he remained till the following April. Here he seems to have spent his time in the same miscellaneous occupations as before. In the journal we find the following entry, dated Feb. 13:"I saw the library of M. de Thou, a great collection of choice, well-bound books, which are now to be sold; amongst others, a Greek manuscript, written by one Angelot, by which Stephens's Greek characters were first made." De Thou, the celebrated historian of his own times, is better known under his Latinized name, Thuanus. On a Friday, he notes :-"The observation of Lent at Paris is come almost to nothing. Meat is openly to be had in the shambles, and a dispensation commonly to be had from the curate without difficulty. People of sense laugh at it, and in Italy itself, for twenty sous, a dispensation is certainly to be had." Then follows an amusing story of "that Bishop of Bellay, who has writ so much against monks and monkery."

"A devout lady being sick, and besieged by the Carmes, made her will and gave them all: the Bishop of Bellay coming to see her, after it was done, asked whether she had made her will; she answered yes, and told him how; he convinced her it was not well, and she, desiring to alter it, found a difficulty how to do it, being so beset by the friars. The bishop bid her not trouble herself for it, but presently took order that two notaries, habited as physicians, should come to her, who being by her bedside, the bishop told the company it was convenient all should withdraw; and so the former will was revoked, and a new one made and put into the bishop's hands. The lady dies, the Carmes produce their will, and for some time the bishop lets them enjoy the pleasure of their inheritance; but at last, taking out the other will, he says to them, 'Mes frères, you are the sons of Elijah, children of the Old Testament, and have no share in the New.'"

It may have been the influence of fashion, and the eager thirst for reputation, which were so rife in Parisian society, that inspired, shortly after Locke's return to Paris, the following reflections, as profound as they are true :

"The principal spring from which the actions of men take their rise, the rule they conduct them by, and the end to which they direct them, seems to be credit and reputation, and that which, at any rate, they avoid is in the greatest part shame and disgrace. This makes the Hurons and other people of Canada with such constancy endure inexpressible torments; this makes merchants in one country and soldiers in another; this puts men upon school divinity in one country and physics and mathematics in another; this cuts out the dresses for the women, and makes the fashions for the men, and makes them endure the inconveniences of all. . . . . Religions are upheld by this 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 director of most of the actions of men. . . . He therefore that would govern the world well, had need consider rather what fashions he makes than what laws; and to bring anything into use he need only give it reputation."

Leaving Paris on the 22nd of April, 1679, Locke arrived, after his long absence, in London on the 30th of the same month. In the political world much had happened whilst he had been away. Shaftesbury, already in disgrace when he left England, had been imprisoned in the Tower for a year; but, by a sudden turn of fortune, was now reinstated in office as President of the newly-created Council. Of the circumstances which had brought about this change, the story of the Popish Plot, the discovery of the king's nefarious negotiations with Louis XIV., and the impeachment of Danby, it is not necessary here to speak. That Shaftesbury, when he saw the prospect of restoration to power, should wish to avail himself, as before, of Locke's advice and services, was only to be expected, and it was the expression of this desire which had hastened Locke's return to England. What, however, were the exact relations between the new Lord President and his former secretary during Shaftesbury's second tenure of office we are not informed. That the intercourse between them was close and frequent, there can be no doubt, and, during the summer months of 1679, Locke again resided in his patron's house. But the king soon felt himself strong enough to reassert his own will. Under date of the 15th of October, we read in the Privy Council Book, "The Earl of Shaftesbury's name was struck out of this list by his Majesty's command in Council." Consequently, Shaftesbury was again in opposition, and Locke, though still his adviser and friend, and frequently an inmate of one or other of his houses, was released from the pressure of official business. One of his principal cares at this time was the supervision of the education of Shaftesbury's grandson. The father, Locke's former pupil, "born a shapeless lump, like anarchy," seems to have been but a poor creature, and the little Anthony, when only three years old, was made over to the formal guardianship of his grandfather. Locke, though not his instructor, seems to have kept a vigilant eye on the boy's studies and discipline, as well as on his health and bodily training. If we may trust the memory of the third earl, writing when in middle life, Locke's care was extended to his brothers and sisters as well as to himself. “In our education," he says, "Mr. Locke governed according to his own principles, since published by him " [in the Thoughts on Education], "and with such success that we all of us came to full years with strong and healthy constitutionsmy own the worst, though never faulty till of late. I was his more peculiar charge, being, as eldest son, taken by my grandfather and bred under his immediate care, Mr. Locke having the absolute direction of my education, and to whom, next my immediate parents, as I must own the greatest obligation, so I have ever preserved the highest gratitude and duty." The admiration and

« AnteriorContinuar »