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Sydenham, who dedicated to him his great work on the History and Cure of Acute Diseases.
The observation of Dugald Stewart, above referred to, is worth citing No science could have been chosen more happily calculated than medicine to prepare such a mind as that of Locke for the prosecution of those speculations which have immortalised his name; the complicated, and fugitive, and often equivocal phenomena of disease requiring in the observer a far greater portion of discriminating sagacity than those of physics properly so called.'
Indeed, such is the alliance between the habitudes of mind in both departments of thought that we are almost inclined to say that every physician ought also to be a metaphysician. Sure we are, at all events, that a sound course of early study in intellectual philosophy a careful analysis of the evanescent and subtle phenomena of mind-must prove of admirable service to him who would succeed in what is confessedly the most difficult of all the sciences of observation; and we think the history of many of the most eminent physicians would go to sustain this assertion. Certainly, in the medical philosophers we have had the pleasure of knowing, we have observed a marked amplitude and expansion in the views of their profession when they have enjoyed such early training. We are now speaking, of course, simply of the discipline of these pursuits on the habits of thought; but such is the intimate connection of the two parts of our nature, that a knowledge of the anatomy of mind becomes almost as necessary to the physician as a knowledge of that of the body.
The understanding of Locke was, like that of so many eminent Englishmen, peculiarly practical, as the subjects to which he turned his attention suffi
ciently show. When compared with some minds of far greater harmony and variety of powers, he appears decidedly deficient; almost, we might say, truncated. The, intellect absorbed to itself some of his other faculties; so that they either appear shrunk like muscles not used, or they must have been originally feeble in comparison.
To all the forms of the Beautiful, for example, and all the fine arts, he seems to have been almost insensible. Plato is full of poetry; Aristotle could at least criticise it profoundly; Bacon is almost Shakspeare in a philosophic garb, so resplendent is his imagination, and so versatile his genius. It is curious that there is hardly a passing remark in all Locke's great work on any of the æsthetical or emotional characteristics of humanity: so that, for anything that appears there, men might have nothing of the kind in their composition. As for poetry, it is true that at the close of the seventeenth century, and for many a long day after, English poetry was at a miserably low ebb; yet it would not be easy to find a mind at all approaching Locke's in general power, equally enamoured with Blackmore's dull strains of whom he says in one of his letters, His vein of poetry is what everybody must allow him to have an extraordinary talent in? But the mode in which he cashiers the whole 'Sacred Nine' in his Treatise on Education, and recommends the early suppression in a youth of any dangerous propensities for their company, most clearly shows the traits of character we are now illustrating. After speaking against the practice of making boys write Latin verses (which truly do not often evince or cherish any dangerous excess in the poetic faculty), he says: I have much more, and of more weight, against their making verses
of any sort; for if a youth has no genius to poetry, it is the most unreasonable thing in the world to torment him and waste his time about that which can never succeed; and if he have a poetic vein, it is to me the strangest thing in the world that the father should desire or suffer it to be cherished or improved. Methinks the parents should labour to have it stifled and suppressed as much as may be! There is much more to the same purpose. 'It is very seldom seen,' he adds, that any one discovers mines of gold or silver in Parnassus. It is a pleasant air, but a barren soil.'
With such insensibility to the beautiful, and such strong'utilitarian' bias, we need not wonder that he desires, in his Treatise on Education, that every young gentleman should not only have every incipient symptom of poetry nipped in the bud, but should be sedulously instructed in some trade or handicraft even though he might never be compelled to practise it. The elder Osbaldistone, in Rob Roy, might have served for his model; and no doubt Locke would have sympathised in all the horror of that worthy merchant, when the unlucky Ode to the Memory of the Black Prince' dropped out of his son's Commonplace Book in which were entered the jumble of memoranda respecting 'barils and barricants-Corndebentures Gentish -Titlings and Lubfish.' "To the Memory of Edward the Black Prince." What's all this? Verses! By Heaven, Frank, you are a greater blockhead than I supposed you!'
Yet it cannot be said that Locke's insensibility to the beautiful is the result of any deficiency of imagination. That faculty is active enough perpetually to supply him with apt, though generally, it is true, homely illustration; and sometimes with
images of great felicity and power. Those, so often cited from his chapter on 'Retention,' afford examples of this; some of them are not only beautiful, but, as Sir James Mackintosh says, acquire pathos, as possibly indicating some sense of personal decay in the author. We may add that the very language has a solemn cadence, a touching and mournful flow, exquisitely adapted to the sentiment:
'The ideas as well as children of our youth often die before us; and our minds represent to us those tombs to which we are approaching, where, though the brass and marble remain, yet the inscriptions are effaced by time, and the imagery moulders away. We sometines find a disease quite strip the mind of all its ideas, and the flames of a fever in a few days calcine all those images to dust and confusion which seemed to be as lasting as if graved in marble.'
His sense of humour and his powers of raillery must have been very considerable. Nor had he only that dry species of logical humour (if we may use the phrase) which is often found in very close reasoners,
-where fallacies and sophisms are so neatly exposed, the nut cracked and the shell thrown away with such a self-possessed air, or unexpected deductions so suddenly evolved from trivial premises, that the feat often produces much of the ludicrous surprise which is the proper effect of wit. Many of the apt anecdotes introduced into his philosophical works strongly show his sense of the ludicrous; as, for example, the wellknown one of the blind man, who flattered himself that at length he knew what was the colour of scarlet, namely, that it was like the sound of a trumpet;-by which Locke illustrates the impossibility of imparting the simple ideas of any sense to those who are destitute of that sense. The story with which he ridicules
Stillingfleet in the following passage may serve as another example:
To my saying that your lordship had not told me what Nature is, I am told that, "if I had a mind to understand you, I could not but see that by Nature you meant the subject of essential properties." A lady asking a learned physician what the spleen was, received this answer, that it was the receptacle of the melancholy humour. She had a mind to understand what the spleen was, but by this definition of it found herself not much enlightened; and therefore went on to ask what the melancholy humour was; and, by the doctor's answer, found that the spleen and the melancholy humour had a relation one to the other; but what the spleen was she knew not one jot better than she did before he told her any thing about it.'
But it is in his letters and journals, published in 'Lord King's Life,' that his latent powers of pleasantry are most strongly indicated; and perhaps two or three brief passages may tend to relieve the necessary gravity of the present article. It is thus he drolls on the manners of the Boeotian folks of Cleves, 'who,' he says, 'were the slowest people and fullest of delays that ever he met with.'
'Three days were spent in finding out a glover; for, though I can walk all the town over in less than an hour, yet their shops are so contrived as if they designed to conceal, not to expose, their wares; and though you may think it strange, yet, methinks, it is very well done, and 'tis a becoming modesty to conceal that which they have reason enough to be ashamed of. But to proceed; the two next days were spent in drawing them on; the right-hand glove (or, as they call them here, hand-shoe), Thursday, and the left-hand, Friday; and I'll promise you this was two good days' work, and little enough to bring them to fit my hands and to consent to be fellows, which, after all, they are so far from, that when they are on, I am always afraid my hands should go to cuffs one