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Locke's Rebuke Of The Card-playing Lords

Locke, the brilliant author of the Essay on the Human Understanding,

was once introduced by Lord Shaftesbury to the Duke of Buckingham

and Lord Halifax. But the three noblemen, instead of entering into

conversation on literary subjects with the philosopher, very soon sat

down to cards. Locke looked on for a short time, and then drew out his

pocket-book and began to write in it with much attention. One of the

players, a
ter a time, observed this, and asked what he was writing. "My

Lord," answered Locke, "I am endeavouring, as far as possible, to profit

by my present situation; for, having waited with impatience for the

honour of being in company with the greatest geniuses of the age, I

thought I could do nothing better than to write down your conversation;

and, indeed, I have set down the substance of what you have said for the

last hour or two." The three noblemen, fully sensible of the force of

the rebuke, immediately left the cards and entered into a conversation

more rational and more befitting their reputation as men of genius.

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