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of truth, who were acquainted with his character. He was born for the good of mankind. Most of his actions were directed to that end; and I doubt whether, in his time, any man in Europe applied himself more earnestly to that noble design, or executed it with more success.
I will forbear to speak of the valuableness of his works. The general esteem they have attained, and will preserve, as long as good sense and virtue are left in the world; the service they have been of to England in particular, and universally to all that set themselves seriously to the search of truth, and the study of christianity; are their best eulogium. The love of truth is visible in every part of them. This is allowed by all that have read them. For even they, who have not relished some of Mr. Locke's opinions, have done him the justice to confess, that the manner in which he defends them shows he advanced nothing that he was not sincerely convinced of himself. This his friends gave him an account of from several hands: "Let them, after this," answered he, "object whatever they please against my works, I shall never be disturbed at it: for since they grant I advance nothing in them but what I really believe, I shall always be glad to prefer truth to any of my opinions, whenever I discover it by myself, or am satisfied that they are not conformable to it." Happy turn of mind! which, I am fully persuaded, contributed more even than the penetration of that noble genius, to his discovery of those great and useful truths which appear in his works.
But, without dwelling any longer upon considering Mr. Locke in the quality of an author, which often serves only to disguise the real character of the man, I haste to show him to you in particulars much more amiable, and which will give you a higher notion of his merit.
Mr. Locke had a great knowledge of the world, and of the business of it. Prudent without being cunning, he won people's esteem by his probity, and was always safe from the attacks of a false friend, or a sordid flatterer. Averse to all mean complaisance, his wisdom, his experience, his gentle and obliging manners, gained
him the respect of his inferiors, the esteem of his equals, the friendship and confidence of the greatest quality.
Without setting up for a teacher, he instructed others by his own conduct. He was at first pretty much disposed to give advice to such of his friends as he thought wanted it; but at length finding that "good counsels are very little effectual in making people more prudent," he grew much more reserved in that particular. I have often heard him say, that the first time he heard that maxim, he thought it very strange; but that experience had fully convinced him of the truth of it. By counsels, we are here to understand those which are given to such as do not ask them. Yet, as much as he despaired of rectifying those whom he saw taking of false measures, his natural goodness, the aversion he had to disorder, and the interest he took in those about him, in a manner forced him sometimes to break the resolution he had made of leaving them to go their own way, and prevailed upon him to give them the advice which he thought most likely to reclaim them; but this he always did in a modest way, and so as to convince the mind by fortifying his advice with solid arguments, which he never wanted upon a proper occasion.
But then Mr. Locke was very liberal of his counsels when they were desired, and nobody ever consulted him in vain. An extreme vivacity of mind, one of his reigning qualities, in which perhaps he never had an equal, his great experience, and the sincere desire he had of being serviceable to all mankind, soon furnished him with the expedients which were most just and least dangerous. I say the least dangerous; for what he proposed to himself before all things was to lead those who consulted him into no trouble. This was one of his favourite maxims, and he never lost sight of it upon any occasion.
Though Mr. Locke chiefly loved truths that were useful, and with such fed his mind, and was generally very well pleased to make them the subject of his discourse, yet he used to say, that in order to employ one part of this life in serious and important occupations,
it was necessary to spend another in mere amusements; and when an occasion naturally offered, he gave himself up with pleasure to the charms of a free and facetious conversation. He remembered a great many agreeable stories, which he always brought in properly; and generally made them yet more delightful, by his natural and agreeable way of telling them. He was no foe to raillery, provided it were delicate and perfectly innocent.
Nobody was ever a greater master of the art of accommodating himself to the reach of all capacities; which, in my opinion, is one of the surest marks of a great genius.
It was his peculiar art in conversation, to lead people to talk of what they understood best. With a gardener he discoursed of gardening; with a jeweller, of a diamond; with a chemist, of chemistry, &c. "By this," said he himself, "I please all those men, who commonly can speak pertinently upon nothing else. As they believe I have an esteem for their profession, they are charmed with showing their abilities before me; and I, in the mean while, improve myself by their discourse.' And indeed Mr. Locke had by this means acquired a very good insight into all the arts, of which he daily learnt more and more. He used to say, too, that the knowledge of the arts contained more true philosophy than all those fine learned hypotheses, which, having no relation to the nature of things, are fit for nothing at the bottom, but to make men lose their time in inventing or comprehending them. A thousand times have I admired how, by the several questions he would put to artificers, he would find out the secret of their art, which they did not understand themselves, and oftentimes give them views entirely new, which sometimes they put in practice to their profit.
This easiness, with which Mr. Locke knew how to converse with all sorts of men, and the pleasure he took in doing it, at first surprised those who had never talked with him before. They were charmed with this condescension, not very common among men of letters, and which they so little expected from a person whose
great qualities raised him so very much above all other men. Many who knew him only by his writings, or by the reputation he had gained of being one of the greatest philosophers of the age, having imagined to themselves beforehand that he was one of those scholars that, being always full of themselves and their sublime speculations, are incapable of familiarising themselves with the common sort of mankind, or of entering into their little concerns, or discoursing of the ordinary affairs of life, were perfectly amazed to find him nothing but affability, good-humour, humanity, pleasantness, always ready to hear them, to talk with them of things which they best understood, much more desirous of informing himself in what they understood better than himself than to make a show of his own science. I knew a very ingenious gentleman in England, that was for some time in the same prejudice. Before he saw Mr. Locke, he had formed a notion of him to himself under the idea of one of the ancient philosophers, with a long beard, speaking nothing but by sentences, negligent of his person, without any other politeness but what might proceed from the natural goodness of his temper, a sort of politeness often very coarse and very troublesome in civil society. But one hour's conversation entirely cured him of his mistake, and obliged him to declare, that he looked upon Mr. Locke to be one of the politest men he ever saw: "He is not a philosopher always grave, always confined to that character, as I imagined; he is," said he, "a perfect courtier, as agreeable for his obliging and civil behaviour as admirable for the profoundness and delicacy of his genius."
Mr. Locke was so far from assuming those airs of gravity by which some folks, as well learned as unlearned, love to distinguish themselves from the rest of the world, that, on the contrary, he looked upon them as an infallible mark of impertinence. Nay, sometimes he would divert himself with imitating that studied gravity, in order to turn it the better into ridicule; and upon this occasion he always remembered this maxim of the Duke de la Rochefoucault, which he admired
above all others, "that gravity is a mystery of the body, invented to conceal the defects of the mind." He loved also to confirm his opinion on this subject, by that of the famous Earl of Shaftsbury*, to whom he took a delight to give the honour of all the things which he thought he had learnt from his conversation.
Nothing ever gave him a more sensible pleasure than the esteem which that earl conceived for him, almost the first moment he saw him, and which he afterwards preserved as long as he lived. And, indeed, nothing set Mr. Locke's merit in a better light than the constant esteem of my Lord Shaftsbury, the greatest genius of his age, superior to so many great men that shone at the same time at the court of Charles II.; not only for his resolution and intrepidity in maintaining the true interests of his country, but also for his great abilities in the conduct of the most knotty affairs. When Mr. Locke studied at Oxford, he fell by accident into his company, and one single conversation with that great man won him his esteem and confidence to such a degree, that soon afterwards my Lord Shaftsbury took him to be near his person, and kept him as long as Mr. Locke's health or affairs would permit. That earl ticularly excelled in the knowledge of men. It was impossible to catch his esteem by moderate qualities; this his enemies themselves could never deny. I wish I could, on the other hand, give you a full notion of the idea which Mr. Locke had of that nobleman's merit. He lost no opportunity of speaking of it, and that in a manner which sufficiently showed he spoke from his heart. Though my Lord Shaftsbury had not spent much time in reading, nothing, in Mr. Locke's opinion, could be more just than the judgment he passed upon the books which fell into his hands. He presently saw through the design of a work, and without much heeding the words, which he ran over with vast rapidity, he immediately found whether the author was master of his subject, and whether his reasonings were exact. But,
* Chancellor of England in the reign of Charles II.