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Locke
Locke
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moral philosophy at Christmas 1663, each appointment being for the following year. A testimonial to his good character from the dean and canons is dated 4 Oct. 1663. Fifty-five of the senior studentships out of sixty were tenable only by men in holy orders or preparing to take orders. Locke appears to have had some intentions of becoming a clergyman, but a letter written in 1666 (King, i. 52) declares that he had refused some very advantageous offers of preferment on the grounds that he doubted his fitness for the position, that he would not be contented with 'being undermost, possibly middlemost, of his profession,' and would not commit himself to an irrevocable step, for which, moreover, his previous studies had not prepared him. He had (Wood, Life and Times, Oxford Hist. Soc., i. 472) attended in 1663 the lectures of Peter Stahl, a chemist who had been brought to Oxford by Boyle in 1659. He must also have studied medicine, to which he soon devoted himself.

Locke's determination to remain a layman was probably due in part to the development of his opinions. His views may be inferred from some essays written between 1660 and 1667, preserved in the Shaftesbury papers. The most remarkable are an 'Essay on the Roman Commonwealth,' written about the time of the Restoration, and an 'Essay concerning Toleration,' written in 1667. (The 'Essay upon Toleration' is given at length by Mr. Fox Bourne, with full accounts of the other fragments, i. 147-94.) Locke, like all his ablest contemporaries, had been deeply impressed by the many calamities due to the religious discords of the time. Like Hobbes, he traced the evil to the authority of an independent priesthood, and sought for a remedy in the supremacy of the state. His ideal was the Roman constitution established (as he imagined) by Numa, in which the priests were absolutely dependent upon the state, and 'only two articles of faith'—belief in the goodness of the gods, and the merit of a moral life, made obligatory. Unlike Hobbes, however, he would limit the power of the magistrate to functions clearly necessary for the preservation of peace. All religions should be tolerated except atheism, which struck at all morality, and Catholicism, which was in principle intolerant, and claimed powers for the spiritual authority inconsistent with the supremacy of the state. To these opinions Locke adhered through life. He was thus in favour of an established church, but with the widest practicable comprehension. He therefore welcomed the restoration of the establishment so long as comprehension seemed probable, but was alienated by the speedy development of the policy of enforced conformity. Before finally deciding upon his career Locke had a chance of entering the public service. Sir William Godolphin (1634?—1696) [q. v.] had been his contemporary at Westminster and Christ Church, and was now secretary to Arlington. It was probably through Godolphin's interest that Locke was appointed secretary to Sir Walter Vane, who was sent on a mission to the elector of Brandenburg at the end of 1665. The elector was disposed to ally himself with Holland, then at war with England, in order to establish his claims to the duchy of Cleve. The mission was intended to secure his neutrality or alliance. Locke was with Vane at Cleve during December 1665 and January 1665-6, returning to England in February. He wrote some humorous letters describing the convivialities and the scholastic disputations of the natives, but the mission came to little result. Upon his return he was invited to join a mission to Spain, in which Godolphin acted as secretary to Sandwich. After some hesitation he declined the offer, though he might, he said, be giving up his one chance of 'making himself.' He decided to settle at Oxford and devote himself to medical and scientific studies. Letters to Boyle from Cleve, and during a visit to Somerset in the spring of 1666, contain various references to scientific investigations. On 23 Nov. 1668 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and though he never took a very active part in its proceedings, he occasionally served on committees and on the council (Birch, Royal Society, ii. 323, iii. 59, 61, 64, 69, 112). He began to practise as a physician in co-operation with David Thomas, an old college friend (Fox Bourne, i. 60, 133, 249). For some unexplained reason he did not take the medical degrees, and a letter from Clarendon, then chancellor of the university, of 3 Nov. 1666, requesting that he might be allowed to accumulate the M.B. and M.D. degrees, was not obeyed. On 14 Nov. following he obtained a dispensation, signed by the secretary of state, William Morris, enabling him to hold his studentship without taking orders. It is probable that some prejudice of the Oxford high churchmen prevented his obtaining the degree, although he must still have had some influence at court. In 1670 his patron, Ashley, obtained a request from the Duke of Ormonde, then chancellor, for the M.D. degree; but Locke, finding that it would be opposed, withdrew the application (ib. i. 210). In 1674 Locke took the M.B. degree; and in January 1674-5 was transferred to one of the two medical studentships, but he never graduated as doctor (i. 330).