LOCKE, JOHN, was born at Wrington near Bristol, on the 29th of August 1632. By the advice of Colonel Popham, under whom Locke's father had served in the parliamentary wars, Locke was placed at Westminster School, from which he was elected in 1651 to Christ church, Oxford. He applied himself at that university with great diligence to the study of classical literature ; and by the private read ing of the works of Bacon and Descartes, be sought to acquire that aliment for his philosophical spirit which he did not find in the Aris totelian scholastic philosophy, as taught in the schools of Oxford. Though the writings of Descartes may have contributed, by their pre cision and scientific method, to the formation of his philosophical style, yet, if we may judge from the simply controversial notices of them in the Essay concerning Human Understanding,' they appear to have exercised a negative influence on the mind of Locke; while the principle of the Baoonian method of observation gave to it that taste for experimental studies which forms the basis of his own system, and probably determined his choice of a profession. He adopted that of medicine, which however the weakness of his constitution prevented him from practising.
In 1664 Locke visited Berlin as secretary to Sir W. Swan, envoy to the Elector of Brandenburg ; but after a year he returned to Oxford, where he accidentally formed the acquaintance of Lord Ashley, after wards Earl of Shaftesbury. Locke accepted the invitation of this nobleman to reside in his house; and from this time he attached himself to his fortunes during life, and after death vindicated his memory and honour. (` Memoires pour servir h In Vie d'Antoine Ashley, Comte de Shaftesbury, tirdes des Papiers de feu M. Locke, et redigdes par Le Clerc, Biblioth. Choisle,' t. vii. p.146.) In the house of Shaftesbury Locke became acquainted with some of the most eminent men of the day, and was introduced to the Earl of Northum berland, whom, in 1668, he accompanied on a tour into France. Upon the death of the earl he returned to England, where he again found a home In the house of Lord Ashley, who was then chancellor of the Exchequer, and Locke was employed to draw up a constitution for the government of Carolina, which province had been granted by Charles Ii. to Lord Ashley with seven others.
In 1670 Locke commenced his investigations into the nature and extent of the human understanding, but his numerous avocations long protracted the completion of his work. In 1672, when Ashley was created Earl of Shaftesbury and made lord chancellor, Locke was appointed secretary of presentations. This situation he held until
Shaftcabnry resigned the great seal, when be exchanged it for that of secretary to the Board of Trade, of which the earl still retained the post of president.
In 1675 Locke was admitted to the degree of Bachelor in Medicine, and in the summer of the same year visited France, being apprehen sive of consumption. At Montpelier, where he ultimately took up his residence, lie formed the acquaintance of the Earl of Pembroke, to whom he afterwards dedicated his 'Essay concerning Human Understanding.' In 1679 Locke was recalled to England by the Earl of Shaftesbury, who had been restored to favour and appointed pre sident of the counciL Six months afterwards however be was again disgraced, and, after a short imprisonment in the Tower, was ulti mately compelled to leave England iu 16S2, to avoid a prosecution for high treason. Locke followed his patron to Holland, where, even after the death of Shaftesbury, be continued to reside ; for the hostility of tho court was transferred to Locke, and notwithstanding a weak opposition on the part of the dean, his name was erased, by royal mandate of the 16th of November 1684, from the number of the students of Christchurch. But the rancour of the court party ex tended its persecution of Locke even into Holland, and in the follow ing year the English envoy demanded of the States-General the delivery of Mr. Locke, with eighty-three other persons, on the charge of parti cipating in the expedition of the Duke of Monmouth. Fortunately Locke found friends to conceal him until either the court was satisfied of his innocence or the fury of persecution had passed away. During his residence in Holland he became acquainted with Limborch, Leclerc, and other learned men attached to the cause of free inquiry, both in religion and politics. Having completed his Essay concerning Human Understanding' in 1687, he made an abridgement of it, which was translated into French by Leclerc, who inserted It in one of his Biblio thbques. In that of 1686 he had already published his Adversariorum Methodne, or a New Method of a Common-place Book,' which was originally written in French, and was afterwards first published in English among his posthumous works. In the Bibliotheque' of 1688 appeared his ' Letter on Toleration,' addressed to Limborch, which was soon translated into Latin, and published the next year at Gouda.