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(A. D. 1632-1704.)
JOHN LOCKE, the English philosopher, born at Pensford, near Bristol, in 1632, was educated at Westminster school and at Christ Church, Oxford. After taking his degree he had a taste of diplomatic life, being appointed secretary to the ambassador to Germany. He was offered diplomatic service in Spain, but declined, and returned to Oxford, where he studied medicine.
While in Oxford, Locke formed the habit of writing down, for his own eye, such thoughts as occurred to him on subjects of special interest. In his old age he wrote to his friend Molyneux: "I have often had experience that a man cannot well judge of his own notions till either by setting them down in paper or in discoursing them to a friend, he has drawn them out and, as it were, spread them fairly before him
The following, under the head of “Thús I think, probably written early, and illustrates Locke's theory of life. It is given by his first biographer, Lord King.
THUS I THINK.
(From the “Life of John Locke," edited by Lord King, vol. i.)
It is a man's proper business to seek happiness and avoid misery.
Happiness consists in what delights and contents the mind; misery, in what disturbs, discomposes, or torments it.
I will therefore make it my business to seek satisfaction and delight, and avoid uneasiness and disquiet; to
have as much of the one, and as little of the other, as may be.
But here I must have a care I mistake not; for if I prefer a short pleasure to a lasting one, it is plain I cross my own happiness.
Let me then see wherein consists the most lasting pleasures of this life; and that, as far as I can observe, is in these things :
1st. Health, — without which no sensual pleasure can have any relish.
2nd. Reputation, — for that I find every body is pleased with, and the want of it is a constant torment.
3rd. Knowledge, - for the little knowledge I have, I find I would not sell at any rate, nor part with for any other pleasure.
4th. Doing good, — for I find the well-cooked meat I eat to-day does now no more delight me, nay, I am diseased after a full meal. The perfumes I smelt yesterday now no more affect me with any pleasure; but the good turn I did yesterday, a year, seven years since, continues still to please and delight me as often as I reflect on it.
5th. The expectation of eternal and incomprehensible happiness in another world is that also which carries a constant pleasure with it.
If, then, I will faithfully pursue that happiness I propose to myself, whatever pleasure offers itself to me, I must carefully look that it cross not any of those five great and constant pleasures above mentioned. For example, the fruit I see tempts me with the taste of it that I love, but if it endanger my health, I part with a constant and lasting for a very short and transient pleasure, and so foolishly make myself unhappy, and am not true to my own interest.
Hunting, plays, and other innocent diversions delight
me: if I make use of them to refresh myself after study and business, they preserve my health, restore the vigour of my mind, and increase my pleasure; but if I spend all, or the greatest part of my time in them, they hinder my improvement in knowledge and useful arts, they blast my credit, and give me up to the uneasy state of shame, ignorance, and contempt, in which I cannot but be very unhappy. Drinking, gaming, and vicious delights will do me this mischief, not only by wasting my time, but by a positive efficacy endanger my health, impair my parts, imprint ill habits, lessen my esteem, and leave a constant lasting torment on my conscience; therefore all vicious and unlawful pleasures I will always avoid, because such a mastery of my passions will afford me a constant pleasure greater than any such enjoyments; and also deliver me from the certain evil of several kinds, that by indulging myself in a present temptation I shall certainly afterwards suffer.
All innocent diversions and delights as far as they will contribute to my health, and consist with my improvement, condition, and my other more solid pleasures of knowledge and reputation, I will enjoy, but no farther, and this I will carefully watch and examine, that I may not be deceived by the flattery of a present pleasure to lose a greater.
(A. D. 1644-1718.)
The founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, was the son of a British admiral, Sir William Penn, and was bred in the aristocratic circles of the English court. London was the place of his birth, which occurred on the 14th of October, 1644, in the midst of the Civil War. He reached manhood soon after the Restoration, with every prospect of a career that should be gilded by the sunshine of royal favor. But in 1668 he made what seemed to be a choice of worldly ruin, by embracing the religious doctrines of the despised and persecuted sect of Friends, or Quakers. The suffering which he shared with his fellows in the humble society of George Fox led Penn to interest himself in American colonization, He first became one of the proprietors of West Jersey, and assisted in establishing Quaker settlements in that province; but in 1681 he acquired in his own name a more princely domain. For payment of a debt due his father he procured from the king a proprietary grant of the great territory now covered by the State of Pennsylvania. Furthermore, the next year, he joined with other Friends in the purchase of the province of East Jersey from the trustees of Sir George Carteret. Not content with the title to Pennsylvania derived from the English king, Penn entered into personal treaty with the Indians and purchased their territorial rights. Twice during his lifetime, in 1682–84 and 1699–1701, he visited his province, remaining in all some four
years. He died in England on the 30th of July, 1718.
In the “Life of Penn,” which he prepared for the second series of the “Library of American Biography,” Mr. George E. Ellis classes him with “the very few of the innocently great of the earth.” “He pursued,” says Mr. Ellis, “exalted aims, drawn from the most advanced attainments of
the age in which he lived, and anticipating the light of an after time. Three great principles controlled his mind and cheered his heart; reverence for God, love for man, and confidence in freedom.
Penn excelled in the best of human qualities. He was free from vice. His natural powers were of a high order; his acquired advantages were large and various, embracing bodily strength, learning, wisdom, and discretion, as the furniture of his mind, with the richest and most attractive graces of the heart. As a writer he used few images, but employed a wide compass of language. He makes constant references to the Scriptures, but always quotes them in their natural sense, with no forced applications.
They who conceive of Penn as a sanctimonious and rigid zealot, with a stiffened countenance, a formal garb, and a frowning look cast upon the innocent pleasures and good things of life, would go wide of the truth. He was quite a gentleman in his dress and manner of life, in his furniture and equipage. He loved manly sports; he could hunt and angle. Dean Swift says, that he talked very agreeably and with great spirit.'
Penn wrote clearly and eloquently, from a full mind and a full heart, and he wrote much, chiefly in the way of religious appeal and encouragement, or in explanation of the beliefs of the Society of Friends. But among his published writings there are two which come within the range of the gleanings made for this collection. One of these, first published in 1693, under the title of “Fruits of Solitude," gave great delight to Robert Louis Stevenson, when he came upon it a few years ago. At San Francisco, Stevenson had picked up a Philadelphia reprint of the little book, and some time afterwards he sent it to a friend, with this note written in it: “If ever in all my human conduct’ I have done a better thing to any fellow creature than handing on to you this sweet, dignified, and wholesome book, I know I shall hear of it on the last day. To write a book like this were impossible; at least one can hand it on - with a wrench one to another. My wife cries out and my own heart misgives me, but still here it is. Even the copy was dear to me, printed in the colony that Penn established, and carried in my pocket all about the San Francisco streets, read in street cars and ferry-boats, when I was sick unto death,