« PreviousContinue »
Locke, as we have seen, read Jean le Clerc's Sentiments de Quelques Théologiens de Hollande sur l'Histoire Critique du Vieux Testament' while he was at Cleve, and sent thence, through Limborch, some queries to its author. In the winter of 1685-6, soon after his return to Amsterdam, Limborch introduced him to Le Clerc. This new friendship had very memorable results.
Locke had been an author for now more than a quarter of a century. During more than fifteen years he had, at intervals, been working out the arguments to be embodied in the “Essay concerning Human Understanding,' and he seems to have all along intended to publish that work if, when completed, his modesty would allow him to consider it worth publishing. He had collected notes and materials, moreover, ready to be converted into at least half a dozen other works, if he could bring himself to give them to the world. But it may almost be doubted whether, but for his acquaintance with Le Clerc, he would ever have given anything to the world.
His hesitation in this regard is illustrated by the history of a small, though interesting, tract, which appears to have been the first thing actually published by him, with the exception of a few complimentary verses that have already been referred to.
Soon after their friendship began in Paris in 1677, Locke had explained to Nicolas Thoynard the very ingenious plan for keeping a common-place book which he had himself adopted ever since 1661. Thoynard, following and highly commending the plan, as did every one else who tried it, urged that it should be made public, and Locke consented; but eight years passed before this was done. “Since you are always of the same opinion that my Method of a Common-Place Book' would be
generally useful, and since you still press me to print it, I shall obey you,” he wrote to Thoynard from Amsterdam, in the autumn of 1684. “If I have let so many years pass without doing this, it was not because I grudged the public such a small service”—as Thoynard appears to have complained—“but because I was ashamed to have it thought that I considered such a bagatelle worth giving out. But you insist upon it, and that is enough." A later letter shows, however, that he was still in doubt on the subject, and it would seem that the Method was at last only published because Limburch also commended it and Le Clerc insisted upon issuing it in his · Bibliothèque Universelle.'
The ‘Bibliothèque Universelle' has a special interest in connection with Locke, in addition to the general interest attaching to it as almost the earliest literary magazine and review. Really the earliest was the ‘Journal des Sçavans,' started by Denis de Sallo, in Paris, in 1665, and this had been to some extent imitated in the same year by the Philosophical Transactions of our Royal Society; but the former hardly aimed at giving more than epitomes of new books, supplemented by as much scientific, academical and other news and gossip as its editors could collect, and the latter only now and then added short notices of books to its copious reports of the proceedings of the Royal Society. Pierre Bayle, who after abjuring Romanism had settled down as professor of philosophy and history at Rotterdam, in 1681, when he was thirty-four, must be honourably remembered as having, among other good work, produced the first
1 Additional MSS. in the British Museum, no. 28753; Locke to Thoy. nard, (13-) 23 Nov., 1684.
• Ibid.; Locke to Thoynard,  24 Feb., 1684-5.
original and independent collection of periodical criticism. His · Nouvelles de la République de Lettres,' started in March, 1684, was learned, witty, and catholic. But in the first and third, if not also in the second, of those qualities, it was surpassed by the ‘Bibliothèque Universelle,' which Le Clerc, aided by La Croze, began just two years afterwards in Amsterdam.
Le Clerc was projecting it just at the time when Locke made his acquaintance, and there can be no doubt that, if Locke did not take part from the first in the deliberations as to the nature and purpose of the new review, he soon became one of Le Clerc's chief advisers on the subject. He also became one of his coadjutors. In the number of the 'Bibliothèque Universelle' for July, 1686, was published a French version of his Method of a Common-Place Book,' with the title · Méthode Nouvelle de dresser des Recueils.'i
“Mr. Locke," said Le Clerc, twenty years afterwards, “ also contributed several reviews of books to the ' Bibliothèque Universelle ;' the review of Mr. Boyle's De Specificorum Remediorum cum Corpusculari Philo
1. Bibliothèque Universelle,' vol.ï. (1686), pp. 315—340. The fact and the mode of this tract's publication are perhaps more important than the contents of the tract itself; but they may be briefly described, chiefly in Locke's own words. “I take," he said, “a paper book of what size I please. I divide the two first pages that face one another by parallel lines into fiveand-twenty equal parts, every fifth line black, the others red. I then cut them perpendicularly by other lines that I draw from the top to the bottom of the page. I put about the middle of each five spaces one of the twenty letters I design to make use of”-omitting K, Y, and W, and giving but one space to Z and Q" and a little forward in each space the five vowels, one below another, in their natural order. This is the index to the whole volume, how big soever it may be.” In the volume itself one or two pages were to be devoted to each set of subjects having the same initial and leading vowel; the subjects being carefully indicated by an appropriate title.
sophia Concordia,' for instance, which appeared in the same number of the magazine."1 That information is, unfortunately, very meagre; but it is clear and positive, and it is sufficient to show us that the spring or summer of 1686 was a turning-point in Locke's life. His contributions to the ‘Bibliothèque Universelle,' with one exception which will be noticed presently, were necessarily slight and may have been in themselves unimportant. But they started him on a new road. Hitherto we have found that he was pre-eminently a student. Suppose, for example, the first portion of the index to stand thus
Locke seeking his note on ars would turn to A a (the initial and leading vowel being in this case the same) and be directed to p. 4 for it. For entries about Aer, Agesilaus, Acheron, etc., he would refer to A e and be sent thence to p. 8, or, if p. 8 was full, to p. 54. In like manner, A i, 16 would tell him to look for remarks on Avis on p. 16; Apostles being discussed on p. 14, he would be referred thither by A 0, 14; and if he wanted an observation about Alum, he would be directed to it by A u, 20. Locke gave numerous directions for completing this scheme.
1. Eloge de M. Locke.' All through the early volumes of the · Biblio. thèque Universelle' are scattered reviews of English books, chiefly on theological and scientific subjects, evidently contributed by some one well acquainted with our language and literature. Unless by Le Clerc himself, who knew English, it is difficult to understand by whom they could have been written unless by Locke. It is especially likely that he was the author of articles which appeared in December, 1686, on Boyle's 'De Ipsa Natura,' and in September, 1687, on Sydenham's Schedula Monitoria.' But as to other articles I do not feel myself at liberty to offer my guesses.
Henceforth we shall find him a humble, painstaking student still, but pre-eminently an author; so zealous an author that the remaining eighteen years of his life did not give him time enough to pour out for the world's instruction all the old thoughts that he had been accumulating and all the new. thoughts that took shape in a mind which retained the vigour of its youth long after the body had grown old.
The second period of Locke's residence in Amsterdam, after his return from Cleve at some time in November, 1685, covered nearly twelve months, and during the first five or six months of it he found it necessary to remain in concealment in Dr. Veen's house, in or near the Hoogstraat, and to pass among the few persons who saw him at all as Mynheer Van der Linden. The Hoog-straat was barely a quarter of an hour's walk from the Keisersgracht, in which, next door to the Remonstranten Kerk, Limborch lived; but as at this time Locke rarely ventured out of doors, he had occasion to write to the friend who continued to attend to all necessary business for him other letters besides the afterwards famous · Epistola de Tolerantia.'
“As your affairs will prevent me from seeing you today,” he said in December, “I send to ask you not to take any trouble about procuring my money, and to do nothing until it is convenient to you ; and since I am speaking of this matter I may say that an opportunity has offered itself for my relieving you from this burthen, of which I am very glad, as you have enough business of your own to attend to. But we can talk about this and all sorts of other things when I see you. You know that your visits are always most welcome to me; but I dare