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John LOCKE, the celebrated philosopher, was born at Wrington in Somertshire in 1632. His father being bred to the law, was steward or court-keeper to colonel Alexander Popham; and upon the breaking out of the civil wars, became a captain in the parliament army. Locke was educated at Westminster school, whence, at the age of nineteen, he was removed to Oxford, where he entered as student of Christ-church in 1651. His object was medicine; and having taken his degrees in arts, he practised for a short time in the university,
In 1664 he went abroad in quality of secretary to sir William Swan, who was appointed envoy to the elector of Brandenburg, and other German princes. The following year he returned to Oxford, when he accidentally became acquainted with lord Ashley, afterwards earl of Shaftesbury, who honoured him with his patronage, and took him into his house. At the instance of his lordship, Locke now directed his chief attention to politics; and on the elevation of his patron to the post of lord chancellor, he was appointed secretary of the presentations. His lordship, however, being removed the following year, Locke shared his fortune; though he soon after held, for a short time, a secretaryship to a commnission of trade. In 1675, being apprehensive of a consumption, he went to Montpellier, where he became acquainted with Mr. Thomas Herbert, subsequently earl of Pembroke, to whom he communicated his design of writing his Essay on Human Understanding, which had long employed his thoughts. He quitted Montpellier for Paris.
The earl of Shaftesbury, on the discovery of the popish plot, rising again into favour, was made president of the new council, in 1671, when he sent for Mr. Locke; who, as his patron was removed again in less than half a year, obtained no post on the present occasion,
In 1682, his lordship fled to Holland from a prosecution of high treason, and Locke accompanied him in his flight. Here, after his' lordship’s death, which happened soon after, he was accused at the English court, of having written certain tracts against the government. This accusation was unfounded; but it being discovered that he sided with some English mal-contents at the Hague, the English government procured his expulsion from the university of Oxford. In conjunction with Messrs. Limborch and Le Clerc, he formed a philosophical society at Ainsterdam, for the purpose of discussing philosophical and literary subjects. He returned to England in 1689, in the fieet which brought over the princess of Orange; and by the interest of lord Mordaunt, afterwards earl of Monmouth, he now. obtained the post of cominissioner of appeals. Offers of far greater value were made him i buț it accorded best with his literary habits to accept an apartment in the country seat of sir Francis Masham, at Oatcs in Essex. Here he spent a great part of the remainder of his life. He was, however, appointed in 1695, by king William, one of the commissioners of trade and plantations. He died at Oates in 1704.
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