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in hunting it, nor (when he deems he has found it) in setting it forth as plainly as possible to the apprehension of others.
It is obvious that nothing could, in his judgment, make amends for missing TRUTH; he has no preconceptions which he is determined shall stand; no shame in acknowledging an error; no sinister purposes to answer. As we read him, we feel sure that neither vanity nor interest could have induced him to disguise or mutilate a truth, nor to harbour a sophism, however brilliant and however applauded by others, for one moment in his bosom. They are his own glorious words 'Whatever I write, as soon as I shall discover it not to be TRUTH, my hand shall be forwardest to throw it in the fire.'
The same reasons have made him one of the fairest of all controversial antagonists; disguising nothing, distorting nothing, garbling nothing, misquoting nothing: doing his devoir ever manfully, but knightly and honourably, and disdaining to use any weapons in the cause of Truth which Truth itself has not consecrated. These qualities, wherever they are found, must in the nature of things tend to give vastly augmented force to any man's logic. The intellect is more indebted to the love of truth than its worshippers generally suppose, and any aids which the understanding lends the conscience are ever faithfully repaid.
The fairness of Locke as a disputant, even in the excitement of oral controversy (where it is so rarely exemplified), is noticed by Le Clerc. He accommodated himself to the level of the most moderate understanding, and in disputing with them, did not diminish the force of their arguments against himself, although they were not well expressed by those who had
used them; a scrupulosity, which may remind one of Charles James Fox, who, it is said, sometimes stated an opponent's objections so strongly that his friends trembled lest he should not be able to answer them!
His ironical tone in controversy is often very amusing; but it is seldom accompanied with either bitterness or sarcasm. Perhaps one of the severest things he ever said was his quiet retort on Stillingfleet, who had charged him with some gross blunder: 'I acknowledge myself to be a mortal man, very liable to mistakes, and especially in your lordship's writings!'
As to the learning of Locke, it has, like that of Shakspeare, been most variously estimated. While some would make him grossly ignorant of what his predecessors had written,—such a very Troglodyte in metaphysics that he was not properly acquainted even with such writers as Descartes or Hobbes,―others are of opinion (with Stillingfleet) that he is under vast but unconscious obligations to them. The truth lies, as usual, between the extreme estimates. To suppose
that a mind so inquisitive and powerful as Locke's should not have been tolerably conversant with the principal productions of previous philosophers, is extravagant; to suppose that a mind so original and independent should be a servile imitator, is equally so. If any man ever thought for himself, it was Locke. He everywhere avows, that he had faithfully endeavoured to trace the origin and analyse the composition of thought in his own mind, totally careless what might or might not be the opinions of others. His whole work bears the marks of this; and if he has erred, it is in not having sufficiently and carefully examined the opinions of others.
The metaphysician, above almost any other thinker, must, to use a favourite expression of Leibnitz, draw
de son propre fond,-from his own resources; patient excogitation must be his great instrument. Indeed, all great thinkers will rather delight in this than in mere acquisition; it ever has been and ever will be their characteristic. But then to be safe, such selfreliance must be accompanied with a careful survey of what has been done by others in the same field; to neglect this is not only bad economy of time and labour, inasmuch as it is to dispense with the vantageground gained for us by others, but to run the risk of discovering what has already been discovered, and of propounding to the world as novelties what the world has long possessed! It is, however, of equally pernicious consequence in another way; it leads an author to forget the prepossessions and prejudices under which others have been accustomed to view the sub
ject he treats. His ignorance may put him out of a position wisely to anticipate their objections and to free his own statements from apparent ambiguities. It is difficult, we admit, to say within what limits the one or the other quality of mind should be cherished; on the one hand, the faculty of vigorous and independent thought may be fettered and repressed, and a mind original enough and vigorous enough for higher tasks may sink into a mere littérateur, or a retailer of other men's wares; on the other hand, it may unconsciously lapse into much the same thing by neglecting a survey of what other men's toils have already accomplished.*
* Among the many passages in which Locke asserts his independence of authority, one of the most remarkable is that in which he replies to Stillingfleet's implied charge of plagiarism from Descartes: It is hard to avoid thinking that your lordship means that I borrowed from him my notions concerning Certainty. And your lordship is so great a man, and every way
Another striking characteristic of Locke, and which distinguishes him from many metaphysicians, is, that his power of external observation is almost as marked as that of introspection. It was no doubt largely developed by his study of medicine, for which he was eminently fitted, and in which he was no mean proficient; but not by that only. His extensive travels, his busy public life, his practical habits, must have kept this talent in continual exercise, and more than counterpoised any undue tendency to what is apt to be the vice of great intellectual philosophers-excess of abstraction. Hence, too, as has frequently been observed, his great work is written in the style of one who had evidently seen much of life; it speaks the dialect of the world: it is familiar and colloquial beyond that of any great work of any other philosopher in any age. A similar tact for observation is evinced in this work in a more direct way; it not only analyses the mental phenomena of man in general, but perpetually shows that the author has had a watchful and observant eye on the diversities of intellectual character which have come in his way,that he has not only studied man, but men. In this shrewd and vigilant inspection both of general hu
so far above my meanness, that it cannot be supposed that your lordship intended this for anything but a commendation of me to the world as the scholar of so great a master. But though I must always acknowledge to that justly-admired gentleman the great obligation of my first deliverance from the unintelligible way of talking of the philosophy in use in the schools in his time, yet I am so far from entitling his writings to any of the errors or imperfections which are to be found in my Essay, as deriving their original from him, that I must own to your lordship they were spun barely out of my own thoughts, reflecting, as well as I could, on my own mind, and the ideas I had there; and were not, that I know, derived from any other original.' — Locke's Works, vol. iii. pp. 48, 49. 8vo. London.
manity and of individual character, he has some resemblance at once to Aristotle and Socrates. A little volume of weighty maxims of conduct, founded on observation of man and the world, might be easily compiled from his writings; many of which would do no discredit to Bacon's 'Essays,' or Pascal's 'Thoughts.' One of his practical maxims must no doubt have been tolerably impressed on his own memory by the necessity of acting upon it, in that wary walking which all his early life required, especially under the espionage of his friend,' Dr. John Fell; 'Do not hear yourself say to another, what you would not have another hear from him.' Another, well worth remembering, is, 'Let your will lead whither necessity would drive, and you will always preserve your liberty.'
The union of comprehensiveness and sagacity in Locke is strikingly displayed in the variety of the subjects which employed his mind, and the success, notwithstanding, with which he treated them. all the chief topics of importance agitated in his day he has left us his thoughts; on Religious Toleration, on Civil Government, on Education, on several questions of Economical Science, a science then in its cradle;—and on all these varied subjects, he has advanced the boundary-line of human knowledge, extricated some principles before unknown, approximated more nearly to truth in the statement of some which were disputed, and dispelled many pernicious and formidable errors.
The study of medicine, to which he had been early destined, formed, as Stewart says, no bad preparation for his future metaphysical career. It continued throughout life a favourite pursuit. That he had acquired considerable knowledge of the science, may well be inferred from the compliments of the eminent