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JOHN LOCKE, a celebrated English philosopher, born at Wrington, Somerset, Aug. 29, 1632; died at Oates, High Laver, Essex, Oct. 28, 1704. He studied at Christ Church College, Oxford, where he resided until 1644, when he became secretary to an embassy to the Court of Brandenburg, returning to England after a year.
In 1669 he was employed by Lord Shaftesbury, to draw up laws for the government of the colony of Carolina. In 1682 Shaftesbury was impeached, and took refuge in Holland, whither he was followed by Locke. While residing at Utrecht he wrote his noble essay on "Toleration." Returning to England, he received the office of Commissioner of Appeals, and in 1695 he was made one of the Commissioners of Trade and Plantations.
The writings of Locke, in ten octavo volumes, appeared in 1823. His celebrity as a philosopher, however, rests mainly upon his two treatises, the "Essay on Human Understanding," begun in 1670, finished in 1687, but not published until 1690, and the shorter work entitled "The Conduct of the Understanding."
PLEASURE AND PAIN.
(From the "Essay Concerning Human Understanding.")
THE infinitely wise Author of our being, having given us the power over several parts of our bodies, to move or keep them at rest, as we think fit; and also, by the motion of them, to move ourselves and contiguous bodies, in which consists all the actions of our body; having also given a power to our mind, in several instances, to choose amongst its ideas which it will think on, and to pursue the inquiry of this or that subject with consideration and attention, to excite us to these actions of thinking and motion that we are capable of, has been pleased to join to several thoughts and several sensations a perception of delight. If this were wholly separated from all our outward sensations and inward thoughts, we should have no reason to prefer one thought or action to another, negligence to attention, or motion to rest. And so we should neither stir our bodies nor employ
our minds but let our thoughts-if I may so call it - run adrift, without any direction or design; and suffer the ideas of our minds, like unregarded shadows, to make their appearance there as it happened, without attending to them. In which state, man, however furnished with the faculties of understanding and will, would be a very idle, inactive creature, and pass his time only in a lazy, lethargic dream. It has therefore pleased our wise Creator to annex to several objects, and the ideas which we receive from them, as also to several of our thoughts, a concomitant pleasure; and that in several objects to several degrees, that those faculties which he had endowed us with might not remain wholly idle and unemployed by us.
Pain has the same efficacy and use to set us on work that pleasure has, we being as ready to employ our faculties to avoid that as to pursue this; only this is worth our consideration, "that pain is often produced by the same objects and ideas that produce pleasure in us." This their near conjunction, which makes us often feel pain in the sensations where we expected pleasure, gives us new occasion of admiring the wisdom and goodness of our Maker; who, designing the preservation of our being, has annexed pain to the application of many things to our bodies, to warn us of the harm that they will do and as advices to withdraw from them. But he, not designing our preservation barely, but the preservation of every part and organ in its perfection, hath in many cases annexed pain to those very ideas which delight us. Thus heat, that is very agreeable to us in one degree, by a little greater increase of it proves no ordinary torment; and the most pleasant of all sensible objects, light itself, if there be too much of it, if increased beyond a due proportion to our eyes, causes a very painful sensation: which is wisely and favorably so ordered by nature, that when any object does by the vehemency of its operation disorder the instruments of sensation, whose structures cannot but be very nice and delicate, we might by the pain be warned to withdraw, before the organ be quite put out of order and so be unfitted for its proper function for the future. The consideration of those objects that produce it may well persuade us that this is the end or use of pain. For though great light be insufferable to our eyes, yet the highest degree of darkness does not at all disease them; because that causing no disorderly motion in it, leaves that curious organ unharmed in its natural state. But yet excess of cold as well as heat pains us, because it is equally destructive to that
temper which is necessary to the preservation of life and the exercise of the several functions of the body; and which consists in a moderate degree of warmth, or if you please a motion of the insensible parts of our bodies, confined within certain bounds.
Beyond all this, we may find another reason why God hath scattered up and down several degrees of pleasure and pain in all the things that environ and affect us, and blended them together in almost all that our thoughts and senses have to do with; that we, finding imperfection, dissatisfaction, and want of complete happiness in all the enjoyments which the creatures can afford us, might be led to seek it in the enjoyment of Him "with whom there is fullness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
INJUDICIOUS HASTE IN STUDY.
THE eagerness and strong bent of the mind after knowledge, if not warily regulated, is often a hindrance to it. It still presses into further discoveries and new objects, and catches at the variety of knowledge; and therefore often stays not long enough on what is before it, to look into it as it should, for haste to pursue what is yet out of sight. He that rides post through a country may be able, from the transient view, to tell in general how the parts lie; and may be able to give some loose description of here a mountain and there a plain, here a morass and there a river, woodland in one part and savannas in another. Such superficial ideas and observations as these he may collect in galloping over it: but the more useful observations of the soil, plants, animals, and inhabitants, with their several sorts and properties, must necessarily escape him; and it is seldom men ever discover the rich mines without some digging. Nature commonly lodges her treasures and jewels in rocky ground. If the matter be knotty, and the sense lies deep, the mind must stop and buckle to it, and stick upon it with labor and thought and close contemplation, and not leave it until it has mastered the difficulty and got possession of truth. But here care must be taken to avoid the other extreme: a man must not stick at every useless nicety, and expect mysteries of science in every trivial question or scruple that he may raise. He that will stand to pick up and examine every pebble that comes in his way, is as unlikely to return enriched and laden
with jewels, as the other that traveled full speed. Truths are not the better nor the worse for their obviousness or difficulty, but their value is to be measured by their usefulness and tendency. Insignificant observations should not take up any of our minutes; and those that enlarge our view, and give light towards further and useful discoveries, should not be neglected, though they stop our course and spend some of our time in a fixed attention.
There is another haste that does often, and will, mislead the mind, if it be left to itself and its own conduct. The understanding is naturally forward, not only to learn its knowledge by variety, which makes it skip over one to get speedily to another part of knowledge, but also eager to enlarge its views by running too fast into general observations and conclusions, without a due examination of particulars enough thereon to found those general axioms. This seems to enlarge their stock, but it is of fancies, not realities; such theories, built upon narrow foundations, stand but weakly, and if they fall not themselves, are at least very hardly to be supported against the assaults of opposition. And thus men, being too hasty to erect to themselves general notions and ill-grounded theories, find themselves deceived in their stock of knowledge, when they come to examine their hastily assumed maxims themselves or to have them attacked by others. General observations, drawn from particulars, are the jewels of knowledge, comprehending great store in a little room; but they are therefore to be made with the greater care and caution, lest if we take counterfeit for true, our loss and shame will be the greater when our stock comes to a severe scrutiny. One or two particulars may suggest hints of inquiry, and they do well who take those hints; but if they turn them into conclusions, and make them presently general rules, they are forward indeed, but it is only to impose on themselves by propositions assumed for truths without sufficient warrant. To make such observations is, as has been already remarked, to make the head a magazine of materials which can hardly be called knowledge, or at least it is but like a collection of lumber not reduced to use or order; and he that makes everything an observation has the same useless plenty, and much more falsehood mixed with it. The extremes on both sides are to be avoided; and he will be able to give the best account of his studies who keeps his understanding in the right mean between them.
FREDERICK LOCKER-LAMPSON, an English poet, born at Greenwich, 1821; died, 1895. He wrote several volumes of "society verses"; among them: "London Lyrics" (1857); "Lyra Elegantiarum" (1867); "Patchwork" (1879), an olio of prose and verse, revealing himself as the poet of society singing out the hearts of polite London folk to their faces. He is best known however by his "Lyra Elegantiarum"; an anthology of airy graceful verse which has exhausted the field where he gathered his gleanings.