THE TUTOR AND HIS PUPILS
The air of seventeenth-century London was notoriously bad for anyone with weak lungs, and the only remedy, as an Oxford medical don confided to his commonplace book, was 'changeing the air'.1 So in November 1675 Locke fled the fumes and coal dust to France. The following February he visited the medical school at Montpellier to gain acquaintances and to observe the practices there. A forty-four-year-old bachelor, Locke himself already had a substantial reputation in England as a medical doctor for his clinical work at the side of Dr Thomas Sydenham, shortly after the London plague years, and for his life-saving operation on Anthony Ashley Cooper, the first earl of Shaftesbury. But it was in academic medicine that Locke had found himself happiest, in the university at Oxford where he had spent fifteen years of his life. His Bachelor of Medicine degree, which he had received in February 1675, was the fruit of years of preparation, both in classically based medical theory and in the more novel, but more productive, work of clinical practice and chemical research. A visit to a famous European medical faculty was often a matter of course for the seventeenth-century medical student, and Locke was not the last to make this professional pilgrimage.
On the night of 6 February he entered the day's events in his journal. This day, he wrote, 'Disputation at the physicke schoole. Much French, hard Latin, little Logic, and little Reason'. The adjectives were couched in shorthand to conceal his opinion from the prying eyes of any of his hosts. And to conclude the entry he drew from Virgil an appropriately satirical motto: Vitulo tu dignus et hic--both of you deserve a prize.2 This attitude toward the scholastic disputation was representative of Locke's dislike of many of the contemporary methods of education in the schools and universities of England. When he came to publish Some Thoughts concerning Education in 1693, English education for the gentle classes came in for a rough handling, so much so that a____________________