1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hobbes, Thomas
HOBBES, THOMAS (1588–1679), English philosopher, second son of Thomas Hobbes, was born at Westport (now part of Malmesbury, Wiltshire) on the 5th of April 1588. His father, vicar of Charlton and Westport, an illiterate and choleric man, quarrelled, it is said, with a brother clergyman at the church door, and was forced to decamp, leaving his three children to the care of an elder brother Francis, a flourishing glover at Malmesbury. Thomas Hobbes was put to school at Westport church at the age of four, passed to the Malmesbury school at eight, and was taught again in Westport later at a private school kept by a young man named Robert Latimer, fresh from Oxford and “a good Grecian.” He had begun Latin and Greek early, and under Latimer made such progress as to be able to translate the Medea of Euripides into Latin iambic verse before he was fourteen. About the age of fifteen he was sent to Oxford and entered at Magdalen Hall. During his residence, the first principal of Magdalen Hall, John Hussee, was succeeded by John Wilkinson, who ruled in the interest of the Calvinistic party in the university. Thus early was he brought into contact with the aggressive Puritan spirit. Apart from this, Hobbes owed little to his university training, which was based on the scholastic logic then prevalent. We have from himself a lively record of his student life (Vit. carm. exp. p. lxxxv.), which, though penned in extreme old age, may be taken as trustworthy. He tells how, when he had slowly taken in the doctrine of logical figures and moods, he put it aside and would prove things only in his own way; how he then heard about bodies as consisting of matter and form, as throwing off species of themselves for perception, and as moved by sympathies and antipathies, with much else of a like sort, all beyond his comprehension; and how he therefore turned to his old books again, fed his mind on maps and charts of earth and sky, traced the sun in his path, followed Drake and Cavendish girdling the main, and gazed with delight upon pictured haunts of men and wonders of unknown lands. Very characteristic is the interest in men and things, and the disposition to cut through questions in the schools after a trenchant fashion of his own. He was little attracted by the scholastic learning, though it would be wrong to take his words as evidence of a precocious insight into its weakness. The truth probably is that he took no interest in studies which there was no risk in neglecting, and thought as little of rejecting as of accepting the traditional doctrines. He adds that he took his degree at the proper time; but in fact, upon any computation and from whatever cause, he remained at Magdalen Hall five, instead of the required four, years, not being admitted as bachelor till the 5th of February 1608.
In the same year Hobbes was recommended by Wilkinson as tutor to the son of William Cavendish, baron of Hardwick (afterwards 2nd earl of Devonshire), and thus began a lifelong connexion with a great and powerful family. Twice it was loosened—once, for a short time, after twenty years, and again, for a longer period, during the Civil War—but it never was broken. Hobbes spoke of the first years of his tutorship as the happiest of his life. Young Cavendish was hardly younger than Hobbes, and had been married, a few months before, at the instance of the king, to Christiana, the only daughter of Edward, Lord Bruce of Kinloss, though by reason of the bride’s age, which was only twelve years, the pair had no establishment for some time. Hobbes was his companion rather than tutor (before becoming secretary); and, growing greatly attached to each other, they were sent abroad together on the grand tour in 1610. During this journey, the duration of which cannot be precisely stated, Hobbes acquired some knowledge of French and Italian, and also made the important discovery that the scholastic philosophy which he had learned in Oxford was almost universally neglected in favour of the scientific and critical methods of Galileo, Kepler and Montaigne. Unable at first to cope with their unfamiliar ideas, he determined to become a scholar, and until 1628 was engaged in a careful study of Greek and Latin authors, the outcome of which was his great translation of Thucydides. But Translation of Thucydides. when he had finished his work he kept it lying by him for years, being no longer so sure of finding appreciative readers; and when he did send it forth, in 1628, he was fain to be content with “the few and better sort.” That he was finally determined to publication by the political troubles of the year 1628 may be regarded as certain, not only from his own express declaration at a later time (Vit. carm. exp.), but also from unmistakable hints in the account of the life and work of his author prefixed to the translation on its appearance. This was the year of the Petition of Right, extorted from the king in the third parliament he had tried within three years of his accession; and, in view of Hobbes’s later activity, it is significant that he came forward just then, at the mature age of forty, with his version of the story of the Athenian democracy as the first production of his pen. Nothing else is known of his doings before 1628, except that through his connexion with young Cavendish he had relations with literary men of note like Ben Jonson, and also with Bacon and Lord Herbert of Cherbury. If he never had any sympathy with Herbert’s intuitionalist principles in philosophy, he was no less eager, as he afterwards showed, than Herbert to rationalize in matters of religious doctrine, so that he may be called the second of the English deists, as Herbert has been called the first. With Bacon he was so intimate (Aubrey’s Lives, pp. 222, 602) that some writers have described him as a disciple. The facts that he used to walk with Bacon at Gorhambury, and would jot down with exceptional intelligence the eager thinker’s sudden “notions,” and that he was employed to make the Latin version of some of the Essays, prove nothing when weighed against his own disregard of all Bacon’s principles, and the other evidence that the impulse to independent thinking came to him not from Bacon, and not till some time after Bacon’s death in 1626.
So far as we have any positive evidence, it was not before the year 1629 that Hobbes entered on philosophical inquiry. Meanwhile a great change had been wrought in his circumstances. His friend and master, after about two years’ tenure of the earldom of Devonshire, died of the plague Philosophic Inquiry. in June 1628, and the affairs of the family were so disordered financially that the widowed countess was left with the task of righting them in the boyhood of the third earl. Hobbes went on for a time living in the household; but his services were no longer in demand, and, remaining inconsolable under his personal bereavement, he sought distraction, in 1629, in another engagement which took him abroad as tutor to the son of Sir Gervase Clifton, of an old Nottinghamshire family. This, his second, sojourn abroad appears to have been spent chiefly in Paris, and the one important fact recorded of it is that he then first began to look into Euclid. The engagement came to an end in 1631, when he was recalled to train the young earl of Devonshire, now thirteen years old, son of his previous pupil. In the course of the next seven years in Derbyshire and abroad, Hobbes took his pupil over rhetoric, logic, astronomy, and the principles of law, with other subjects. His mind was now full of the thought of motion in nature, and on the continent he sought out the philosophical speculators or scientific workers. In Florence in 1636 he saw Galileo, for whom he ever retained the warmest admiration, and spent eight months in daily converse with the members of a scientific circle in Paris, held together by Marin Mersenne (q.v.). From that time (the winter of 1636–1637) he too, as he tells us, was numbered among philosophers.
His introduction to Euclid took place accidentally in 1629 (Aubrey’s Lives, p. 604). Euclid’s manner of proof became the model for his own way of thinking upon all subjects. It is less easy to determine when he awoke to an interest in the physical doctrine of motion. The story told by himself (Vit. p. xx.) is that, hearing the question asked “What is sense?” he fell to thinking often on the subject, till it suddenly occurred to him that if bodies and their internal parts were at rest, or were always in the same state of motion, there could be no distinction of anything, and consequently no sense; the cause of all things must therefore be sought in diversity of movements. Starting from this principle he was driven to geometry for insight into the ground and modes of motion. The biographies we possess do not tell us where or when this great change of interest occurred. Nothing is said, however, which contradicts a statement that on his third journey in Europe he began to study the doctrine of motion more seriously, being interested in it before; and as he claims more than once (L.W. v. 303; E.W. vii. 468) to have explained light and sound by a mechanical hypothesis as far back as 1630, the inspiration may be assigned to the time of the second journey. But it was not till the third journey that the new interest became an overpowering passion, and the “philosopher” was on his way home before he had advanced so far as to conceive the scheme of a system of thought to the elaboration of which his life should henceforth be devoted.
Hobbes was able to carry out his plan in some twenty years or more from the time of its conception, but the execution was so broken in upon by political events, and so complicated with other labours, that its stages can hardly be followed without some previous understanding of the relations of the parts of the scheme, as there is reason to believe they were sketched out from the beginning. His scheme was first to work out, in a separate treatise De corpore, a systematic doctrine of Body, showing how physical phenomena were universally explicable in terms of motion, as motion or mechanical action was then (through Galileo and others) understood—the theory of motion being applied in the light of mathematical science, after quantity, the subject-matter of mathematics, had been duly considered in its place among the fundamental conceptions of philosophy, and a clear indication had been given, at first starting, of the logical ground and method of all philosophical inquiry. He would then single out Man from the realm of nature, and, in a treatise De homine, show what specific bodily motions were involved in the production of the peculiar phenomena of sensation and knowledge, as also of the affections and passions thence resulting, whereby man came into relation with man. Finally he would consider, in a crowning treatise De cive, how men, being naturally rivals or foes, were moved to enter into the better relation of Society, and demonstrate how this grand product of human wit must be regulated if men were not to fall back into brutishness and misery. Thus he proposed to unite in one coherent whole the separate phenomena of Body, Man and the State.
Hobbes came home, in 1637, to a country seething with discontent. The reign of “Thorough” was collapsing, and the forces pent up since 1629 were soon to rend the fabric of the state. By these events Hobbes was distracted from the orderly execution of his philosophic plan. The Short Parliament, as he tells us at a later time (E.W. iv. 414), was not dissolved before he had ready “a little treatise in English,” in which he sought to prove that the points of the royal prerogative which the members were determined to dispute before granting supplies “were inseparably annexed to the sovereignty which they did not then deny to be in the king.” Now it can be proved that at this time he had written not only his Human Nature but also his De corpore politico, the two treatises (though published separately ten years later) having been composed as parts of one work; and there cannot be the least question that together they make “the little treatise” just mentioned. We are therefore to understand, first, that he wrote the earliest draft of his political theory some years before the outbreak of the Civil War, and, secondly, that this earliest draft was not written till, in accordance with his philosophical conception, he had established the grounds of polity in human nature. The first point is to be noted, because it has often been supposed that Hobbes’s political doctrine took its peculiar complexion from his revulsion against the state of anarchy before his eyes, as he wrote during the progress of the Civil War. The second point must be maintained against his own implied, if not express, statement some years later, when publishing his De cive (L.W. ii. 151), that he wrote this third part of his system before he had been able to set down any finished representation of the fundamental doctrines which it presupposed. In the beginning of 1640, therefore, he had written out his doctrine of Man at least, with almost as much elaboration as it ever received from him.
In November 1640 the Long Parliament succeeded to the Short, and sent Laud and Strafford to the Tower, and Hobbes, who had become, or thought he had become, a marked man by the circulation of his treatise (of which, In Paris. “though not printed, many gentlemen had copies”), hastened to Paris, “the first of all that fled.” He was now for the fourth and last time abroad, and did not return for eleven years. Apparently he remained the greater part of the time in or about Paris. He was welcomed back into the scientific coterie about Mersenne, and forthwith had the task assigned him of criticizing the Meditations of Descartes, which had been sent from Holland, before publication, to Mersenne with the author’s request for criticism from the most different points of view. Hobbes was soon ready with the remarks that were printed as “Third” among the six (later seven) sets of “Objections” appended, with “Replies” from Descartes, to the Meditations, when published shortly afterwards in 1641 (reprinted in L.W. v. 249-274). About the same time also Mersenne sent to Descartes, as if they came from a friend in England, another set of objections which Hobbes had to offer on various points in the scientific treatises, especially the Dioptrics, appended by Descartes to his Discourse on Method in 1637; to which Descartes replied without suspecting the common authorship of the two sets. The result was to keep the two thinkers apart rather than bring them together. Hobbes was more eager to bring forward his own philosophical and physical ideas than careful to enter into the full meaning of another’s thought; and Descartes was too jealous, and too confident in his conclusions to bear with this kind of criticism. He was very curt in his replies to Hobbes’s philosophical objections, and broke off all correspondence on the physical questions, writing privately to Mersenne that he had grave doubts of the Englishman’s good faith in drawing him into controversy (L.W. v. 277-307).
Meanwhile Hobbes had his thoughts too full of the political theory which the events of the last years had ripened within him to settle, even in Paris, to the orderly composition of his works. Though connected in his own mind with his view of human nature and of nature generally, the political theory, as he always declared, could stand by itself. Also, while he may have hoped at this time to be able to add much (though he never did) to the sketch of his doctrine of Man contained in the unpublished “little treatise,” he might extend, but could hardly otherwise modify, the sketch he had there given of his carefully articulated theory of Body Politic. Possibly, indeed, before that sketch was written early in 1640, he may, under pressure of the political excitement, have advanced no small way in the actual composition of the treatise De Cive, the third section of his projected system. In any case, it was upon this section, before the others, that he set to work in Paris; and before the end of 1641 the book, as we know from the date of the dedication (November 1), was finished. Though it was forthwith printed in the course of the year 1642, he was content to circulate a limited number of copies privately; and when he found his work received with applause (it was praised even by Descartes), he seems to have taken this recognition of his philosophical achievement as an additional reason for deferring publication till the earlier works of the system were completed. Accordingly, for the next three or four years, he remained steadily at work, and nothing appeared from him in public except a short treatise on optics (Tractatus opticus, L.W. v. 217–248) included in the collection of scientific tracts published by Mersenne under the title Cogitata physico-mathematica in 1644, and a highly compressed statement of his psychological application of the doctrine of motion (L.W. v. 309–318), incorporated with Mersenne’s Ballistica, published in the same year. Thus or otherwise he had become sufficiently known by 1645 to be chosen as a referee, with Descartes, Roberval and others, in the famous controversy between John Pell (q.v.) and the Dane Longomontanus (q.v.) over that problem of the squaring of the circle which was seen later on to have such a fatal charm for himself. But though about this time he had got ready all or most of the materials for his fundamental work on Body, not even now was he able to make way with its composition, and when he returned to it after a number of years, he returned a different man.
The Civil War had broken out in 1642, and the royalist cause began to decline from the time of the defeat at Marston Moor, in the middle of 1644. Then commenced an exodus of the king’s friends. Newcastle himself, who was a cousin of Hobbes’s late patron and to whom he dedicated the “little treatise” of 1640, found his way to Paris, and was followed by a stream of fugitives, many of whom were known to Hobbes. The sight of these exiles made the political interest once more predominant in Hobbes, and before long the revived feeling issued in the formation of a new and important design. It first showed itself in the publication of the De cive, of which the fame, but only the fame, had extended beyond the inner circle of friends and critics who had copies of the original impression. Hobbes now entrusted it, early in 1646, to his admirer, the Frenchman Samuel de Sorbière, by whom it was seen through the Elzevir press at Amsterdam in 1647—having previously inserted a number of notes in reply to objections, and also a striking preface, in the course of which he explained its relation to the other parts of the system not yet forthcoming, and the (political) occasion of its having been composed and being now published before them. So hopeless, meanwhile, was he growing of being able to return home that, later on in the year, he was on the point of leaving Paris to take up his abode in the south with a French friend, when he was engaged “by the month” as mathematical instructor to the young prince of Wales, who had come over from Jersey about the month of July. This Leviathan. engagement lasted nominally from 1646 to 1648 when Charles went to Holland. Thus thrown more than ever into the company of the exiled royalists, it was then, if not earlier, that he conceived his new design of bringing all his powers of thought and expression to bear upon the production of an English book that should set forth his whole theory of civil government in relation to the political crisis resulting from the war. The De cive, presently to be published, was written in Latin for the learned, and gave the political theory without its foundation in human nature. The unpublished treatise of 1640 contained all or nearly all that he had to tell concerning human nature, but was written before the terrible events of the last years had disclosed how men might still be urged by their anti-social passions back into the abyss of anarchy. There was need of an exposition at once comprehensive, incisive and popular. The State, it now seemed to Hobbes, might be regarded as a great artificial man or monster (Leviathan), composed of men, with a life that might be traced from its generation through human reason under pressure of human needs to its dissolution through civil strife proceeding from human passions. This, we may suppose, was the presiding conception from the first, but the design may have been variously modified in the three or four years of its execution. Before the end, in 1650–1651, it is plain that he wrote in direct reference to the greatly changed aspect of affairs in England. The king being dead, and the royalist cause appearing to be hopelessly lost, he did not scruple, in closing the work with a general “Review and Conclusion,” to raise the question of the subject’s right to change allegiance when a former sovereign’s power to protect was irrecoverably gone. Also he took advantage of the rule of the Commonwealth to indulge much more freely than he might have otherwise dared in rationalistic criticism of religious doctrines; while, amid the turmoil of sects, he could the more forcibly urge that the preservation of social order, when again firmly restored, must depend on the assumption by the civil power of the right to wield all sanctions, supernatural as well as natural, against the pretensions of any clergy, Catholic, Anglican or Presbyterian, to the exercise of an imperium in imperio.
We know the Leviathan only as it finally emerged from Hobbes’s pen. During the years of its composition he remained in or near Paris, at first in attendance on his royal pupil, with whom he became a great favourite. In 1647 Hobbes was overtaken by a serious illness which disabled him for six months. Mersenne begged him not to die outside the Roman Catholic Church, but Hobbes said that he had already considered the matter sufficiently and afterwards took the sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England. On recovering from this illness, which nearly proved fatal, he resumed his literary task, and carried it steadily forward to completion by the year 1650, having also within the same time translated into English, with characteristic force of expression, his Latin treatise. Otherwise the only thing known (from one or two letters) of his life in those years is that from the year 1648 he had begun to think of returning home; he was then sixty and might well be weary of exile. When 1650 came, as if to prepare the way for the reception of his magnum opus, he allowed the publication of his earliest treatise, divided into two separate small volumes (Human Nature, or the Fundamental Elements of Policy, E.W. iv. 1-76, and De Corpore Politico, or the Elements of Law, Moral and Politic, pp. 77–228). In 1651 he published his translation of the De Cive under the title of Philosophical Rudiments concerning Government and Society (E.W. ii.). Meanwhile the printing of the greater work was proceeding, and finally it appeared about the middle of the same year, 1651, under the title of Leviathan, or the Matter, Form and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil (E.W. iii.), with a quaint frontispiece in which, from behind hills overlooking a fair landscape of town and country, there towered the body (above the waist) of a crowned giant, made up of tiny figures of human beings and bearing sword and crozier in the two hands. It appeared, and soon its author was more lauded and decried than any other thinker of his time; but the first effect of its publication was to sever his connexion with the exiled royalist party, and to throw him for protection on the revolutionary Government. No sooner did copies of the book reach Paris than he found himself shunned by his former associates, and though he was himself so little conscious of disloyalty that he was forward to present a manuscript copy “engrossed in vellum in a marvellous fair hand” to the young king of the Scots (who, after the defeat at Worcester, escaped to Paris about the end of October), he was denied the royal presence when he sought it shortly afterwards. Straightway, then, he saw himself exposed to a double peril. The exiles had among them desperadoes who could slay; and, besides exciting the enmity of the Anglican clergy about the king, who bitterly resented the secularist spirit of his book, he had compromised himself with the French authorities by his elaborate attack on the papal system. In the circumstances, no resource was left him but secret flight. Travelling with what speed he could in the depths of a severe winter and under the effects of a recent (second) illness, he managed to reach London, where, sending in his submission to the council of state, he was allowed to subside into private life.
Though Hobbes came back, after his eleven years’ absence, without having as yet publicly proved his title to rank with the natural philosophers of the age, he was sufficiently conscious of what he had been able to achieve in Leviathan; and it was in no humble mood that he now, at the age of sixty-four, turned Return to London. to complete the fundamental treatise of his philosophical system. Neither those whom his masterpiece soon roused to enthusiasm, nor those whom it moved to indignation, were likely to be indifferent to anything he should now write, whether it lay near to or far from the region of practice. Taking up his abode in Fetter Lane, London, on his return, and continuing to reside there for the sake of intellectual society, even after renewing his old ties with the earl of Devonshire, who lived in the country till the Restoration, he worked so steadily as to be printing the De corpore in the year 1654. Circumstances (of which more presently), however, kept the book back till the following year, and meanwhile the readers of Leviathan had a different excitement. In 1654 a small treatise, “Of Liberty and Necessity” (E.W. iv. 229-278), Controversy with Bramhall. issued from the press, claiming to be an answer to a discourse on the same subject by Bishop Bramhall of Londonderry (afterwards archbishop of Armagh, d. 1663), addressed by Hobbes to the marquis of Newcastle. It had grown out of an oral discussion between Hobbes and Bramhall in the marquis’s presence at Paris in 1646. Bramhall, a strong Arminian, had afterwards written down his views and sent them to Newcastle to be answered in this form by Hobbes. Hobbes duly replied, but not for publication, because he thought the subject a delicate one. But it happened that Hobbes had allowed a French acquaintance to have a private translation of his reply made by a young Englishman, who secretly took a copy of the original for himself; and now it was this unnamed purloiner who, in 1654, when Hobbes had become famous and feared, gave it to the world of his own motion, with an extravagantly laudatory epistle to the reader in its front. Upon Hobbes himself the publication came as a surprise, but, after his plain speaking in Leviathan, there was nothing in the piece that he need scruple to have made known, and he seems to have condoned the act. On the other hand, Bramhall, supposing Hobbes privy to the publication, resented the manner of it, especially as no mention was made of his rejoinder. Accordingly, in 1655, he printed everything that had passed between them (under the title of A Defence of the True Liberty of Human Actions from Antecedent or Extrinsic Necessity), with loud complaint against the treatment he had received, and the promise added that, in default of others, he himself would stand forward to expose the deadly principles of Leviathan. About this time Hobbes had begun to be hard pressed by other foes, and, being never more sure of himself than upon the question of the will, he appears to have welcomed the opportunity thus given him of showing his strength. By 1656 he was ready with his Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance (E.W. v.), in which he replied with astonishing force to the bishop’s rejoinder point by point, besides explaining the occasion and circumstances of the whole debate, and reproducing (as Bramhall had done) all the pieces from the beginning. As perhaps the first clear exposition and defence of the psychological doctrine of determinism, Hobbes’s own two pieces must ever retain a classical importance in the history of the free-will controversy; while Bramhall’s are still worth study as specimens of scholastic fence. The bishop, it should be added, returned to the charge in 1658 with ponderous Castigations of Mr Hobbes’s Animadversions, and also made good his previous threat in a bulky appendix entitled The Catching of Leviathan the Great Whale. Hobbes never took any notice of the Castigations, but ten years later replied to the charges of atheism, &c., made in the non-political part of the appendix, of which he says he then heard for the first time (E.W. iv. 279-384). This Answer was first published after Hobbes’s death.
We may now follow out the more troublesome conflict, or rather series of conflicts, in which Hobbes became entangled from the time of publishing his De corpore in 1655, and which checkered all his remaining years. In Leviathan he had vehemently assailed the system of the universities, as Controversy with Wallis and Ward. originally founded for the support of the papal against the civil authority, and as still working social mischief by adherence to the old learning. The attack was duly noted at Oxford, where under the Commonwealth a new spirit of scientific activity had begun to stir. In 1654 Seth Ward (1617–1689), the Savilian professor of astronomy, replying in his Vindiciae academiarum to some other assaults (especially against John Webster’s Examen of Academies) on the academic system, retorted upon Hobbes that, so far from the universities being now what he had known them in his youth, he would find his geometrical pieces, when they appeared, better understood there than he should like. This was said in reference to the boasts in which Hobbes seems to have been freely indulging of having squared the circle and accomplished other such feats; and, when a year later the De corpore (L.W. i.) finally appeared, it was seen how the thrust had gone home. In the chapter (xx.) of that work where Hobbes dealt with the famous problem whose solution he thought he had found, there were left expressions against Vindex (Ward) at a time when the solutions still seemed to him good; but the solutions themselves, as printed, were allowed to be all in different ways halting, as he naively confessed he had discovered only when he had been driven by the insults of malevolent men to examine them more closely with the help of his friends. A strange conclusion this, and reached by a path not less strange, as was now to be disclosed by a relentless hand. Ward’s colleague, the more famous John Wallis (q.v.), Savilian professor of geometry from 1649, had been privy to the challenge thrown out in 1654, and it was arranged that they should critically dispose of the De corpore between them. Ward was to occupy himself with the philosophical and physical sections, which he did in leisurely fashion, bringing out his criticism in the course of next year (In Th. Hobbii philosophiam exercitatio epistolica). Wallis was to confine himself to the mathematical chapters, and set to work at once with characteristic energy. Obtaining an unbound copy of the De corpore, he saw by the mutilated appearance of the sheets that Hobbes had repeatedly altered his demonstrations before he issued them at last in their actual form, grotesque as it was, rather than delay the book longer. Obtaining also a copy of the work as it had been printed before Hobbes had any doubt of the validity of his solutions, Wallis was able to track his whole course from the time of Ward’s provocation—his passage from exultation to doubt, from doubt to confessed impotence, yet still without abandoning the old assumption of confident strength; and all his turnings and windings were now laid bare in one of the most trenchant pieces of controversial writing ever penned. Wallis’s Elenchus geometriae Hobbianae, published in 1655 about three months after the De corpore, contained also an elaborate criticism of Hobbes’s whole attempt to relay the foundations of mathematical science in its place within the general body of reasoned knowledge—a criticism which, if it failed to allow for the merit of the conception, exposed only too effectually the utter inadequacy of the result. Taking up mathematics when not only his mind was already formed but his thoughts were crystallizing into a philosophical system, Hobbes had, in fact, never put himself to school and sought to work up gradually to the best knowledge of the time, but had been more anxious from the first to become himself an innovator with whatever insufficient means. The consequence was that, when not spending himself in vain attempts to solve the impossible problems that have always waylaid the fancy of self-sufficient beginners, he took an interest only in the elements of geometry, and never had any notion of the full scope of mathematical science, undergoing as it then was (and not least at the hands of Wallis) the extraordinary development which made it before the end of the century the potent instrument of physical discovery which it became in the hands of Newton. He was even unable, in dealing with the elementary conceptions of geometry, to work out with any consistency the few original thoughts he had, and thus became the easy sport of Wallis. At his advanced age, however, and with the sense he had of his powers, he was not likely to be brought to a better mind by so insulting an opponent. He did indeed, before allowing an English translation of the De corpore (E.W. i.) to appear in 1656, take care to remove some of the worst mistakes exposed by Wallis, and, while leaving out all the references to Vindex, now profess to make, in altered form, a series of mere “attempts” at quadrature; but he was far from yielding the ground to the enemy. With the translation, in the spring of 1656, he had ready Six Lessons to the Professors of Mathematics, one of Geometry, the other of Astronomy, in the University of Oxford (E.W. vii. 181-356), in which, after reasserting his view of the principles of geometry in opposition to Euclid’s, he proceeded to repel Wallis’s objections with no lack of dialectical skill, and with an unreserve equal to Wallis’s own. He did not scruple, in the ardour of conflict, even to maintain positions that he had resigned in the translation, and he was not afraid to assume the offensive by a counter criticism of three of Wallis’s works then published. When he had thus disposed of the “Paralogisms” of his more formidable antagonist in the first five lessons, he ended with a lesson on “Manners” to the two professors together, and set himself gravely at the close to show that he too could be abusive. In this particular part of his task, it must be allowed, he succeeded very well; his criticism of Wallis’s works, especially the great treatise Arithmetica infinitorum (1655), only showed how little able he was to enter into the meaning of the modern analysis. Wallis, on his side, was not less ready to keep up the game in English than he had been to begin it in Latin. Swift as before to strike, in three months’ time he had deftly turned his own word against the would-be master by administering Due Correction for Mr Hobbes, or School Discipline for not saying his Lessons right, in a piece that differed from the Elenchus only in being more biting and unrestrained. Having an easy task in defending himself against Hobbes’s trivial criticism, he seized the opportunity given him by the English translation of the De corpore to track Hobbes again step by step over the whole course, and now to confront him with his incredible inconsistencies multiplied by every new utterance. But it was no longer a fight over mathematical questions only. Wallis having been betrayed originally by his fatal cleverness into the pettiest carping at words, Hobbes had retorted in kind, and then it became a high duty in the other to defend his Latin with great parade of learning and give fresh provocation. One of Wallis’s rough sallies in this kind suggested to Hobbes the title of the next rejoinder with which, in 1657, he sought to close the unseemly wrangle. Arguing in the Lessons that a mathematical point must have quantity, though this were not reckoned, he had explained the Greek word στιγμή, used for a point, to mean a visible mark made with a hot iron; whereupon he was charged by Wallis with gross ignorance for confounding στιγμή and στιγμα. Hence the title of his new piece: Στιγμαὶ ἀγεωμετρίας, ἀγροικίας, ἀντιπολιτείας, ἀμαθείας, or Marks of the Absurd Geometry, Rural Language, Scottish Church Politics, and Barbarisms of John Wallis, Professor of Geometry and Doctor of Divinity (E.W. vii. 357-400). He now attacked more in detail but not more happily than before Wallis’s great work, while hardly attempting any further defence of his own positions; also he repelled with some force and dignity the insults that had been heaped upon him, and fought the verbal points, but could not leave the field without making political insinuations against his adversary, quite irrelevant in themselves and only noteworthy as evidence of his own resignation to Cromwell’s rule. The thrusts were easily and nimbly parried by Wallis in a reply (Hobbiani puncti dispunctio, 1657) occupied mainly with the verbal questions. Irritating as it was, it did not avail to shake Hobbes’s determination to remain silent; and thus at last there was peace for a time.
Before the strife flamed up again, Hobbes had published, in 1658, the outstanding section of his philosophical system, and thus completed, after a fashion, the scheme he had planned more than twenty years before. So far as the treatise De homine (L.W. ii. 11-32) was concerned, the completion was more in name than in fact. It consisted for the most part of an elaborate theory of vision which, though very creditable to Hobbes’s scientific insight, was out of place, or at least out of proportion, in a philosophical consideration of human nature generally. The remainder of the treatise, dealing cursorily with some of the topics more fully treated in the Human Nature and the Leviathan, has all the appearance of having been tagged in haste to the optical chapters (composed years before) as a makeshift for the proper transition required in the system from questions of Body Natural to questions of Body Politic. Hobbes had in fact spent himself in his earlier constructive efforts, and at the age of seventy, having nothing to add to his doctrine of Man as it was already in one form or another before the world, was content with anything that might stand for the fulfilment of his philosophical purpose. But he had still in him more than twenty years of vigorous vitality, and, not conscious to himself of any shortcoming, looked forward, now his hands were free, to doing battle for his doctrines. Rather than remain quiet, on finding no notice taken of his latest production, he would himself force on a new conflict with the enemy. Wallis having meanwhile published other works and especially a comprehensive treatise on the general principles of calculus (Mathesis universalis, 1657), he might take this occasion of exposing afresh the new-fangled methods of mathematical analysis and reasserting his own earlier positions. Accordingly, by the spring of 1660, he had managed to put his criticism and assertions into five dialogues under the title Examinatio et emendatio mathematicae hodiernae qualis explicatur in libris Johannis Wallisii, with a sixth dialogue so called, consisting almost entirely of seventy or more propositions on the circle and cycloid. Wallis, however, would not take the bait. Hobbes then tried another tack. Next year, having solved, as he thought, another ancient crux, the duplication of the cube, he had his solution brought out anonymously at Paris in French, so as to put Wallis and other critics off the scent and extort a judgment that might be withheld from a work of his. The artifice was successful, and no sooner had Wallis publicly refuted the solution than Hobbes claimed the credit of it, and went more wonderfully than ever astray in its defence. He presently republished it (in modified form), with his remarks, at the end of a new Latin dialogue which he had meanwhile written in defence of another part of his philosophical doctrine. This was the Dialogus physicus, sive De natura aëris (L.W. iv. 233–296), fulminated in 1661 against Boyle and other friends of Wallis who, as he fancied, under the influence of that malevolent spirit, were now in London, after the Restoration, forming themselves into a society (incorporated as the Royal Society in 1662) for experimental research, to the exclusion of himself personally, and in direct contravention of the method of physical inquiry enjoined in the De corpore. All the laborious manipulation recorded in Boyle’s New Experiments touching the Spring of the Air (1660), which Hobbes chose, without the least warrant, to take as the manifesto of the new “academicians,” seemed to him only to confirm the conclusions he had reasoned out years before from speculative principles, and he warned them that if they were not content to begin where he had left off their work would come to nought. To as much of this diatribe as concerned himself Boyle quickly replied with force and dignity, but it was from Hobbes’s old enemy that retribution came, in the scathing satire Hobbius heauton-timorumenos (1662). Wallis, who had deftly steered his course amid all the political changes of the previous years, managing ever to be on the side of the ruling power, was now apparently stung to fury by a wanton allusion in Hobbes’s latest dialogue to a passage of his former life (his deciphering for the parliament the king’s papers taken at Naseby), whereof he had once boasted but after the Restoration could not speak or hear too little. The revenge he took was crushing. Professing to be roused by the attack on his friend Boyle, when he had scorned to lift a finger in defence of himself against the earlier dialogues, he tore them all to shreds with an art of which no general description can give an idea. He got, however, upon more dangerous ground when, passing wholly by the political insinuation against himself, he roundly charged Hobbes with having written Leviathan in support of Oliver’s title, and deserted his royal master in distress. Hobbes seems to have been fairly bewildered by the rush and whirl of sarcasm with which Wallis drove him anew from every mathematical position he had ever taken up, and did not venture forth into the field of scientific controversy again for some years, when he had once followed up the physical dialogue of 1661 by seven shorter ones, with the inevitable appendix, entitled Problemata physica, una cum magnitudine circuli (L.W. iv. 297–384), in 1662. But all the more eagerly did he take advantage of Wallis’s loose calumny to strike where he felt himself safe. His answer to the personal charges took the form of a letter about himself in the third person addressed to Wallis in 1662, under the title of Considerations upon the Reputation, Loyalty, Manners and Religion of Thomas Hobbes (E.W. iv. 409–440). In this piece, which is of great biographical value, he told his own and Wallis’s “little stories during the time of the late rebellion” with such effect that Wallis, like a wise man, attempted no further reply. Thus ended the second bout.
After a time Hobbes took heart again and began a third period of controversial activity, which did not end, on his side, till his ninetieth year. Little need be added to the simple catalogue of the untiring old man’s labours in this last stage of his life. The first piece, published in 1666, De principiis et ratiocinatione geometrarum (L.W. iv. 385–484), was designed, as the sub-title declared, to lower the pride of geometrical professors by showing that there was no less uncertainty and error in their works than in those of physical or ethical writers. Wallis replied shortly in the Philosophical Transactions (August 1666). Three years later he brought his three great achievements together in compendious form, Quadratura circuli, Cubatio sphaerae, Duplicatio cubi, and as soon as they were once more refuted by Wallis, reprinted them with an answer to the objections, in compliment to the grand-duke of Tuscany, who paid him attentions on a visit to England in 1669 (L.W. iv. 485-522). Wallis, who had promised to leave him alone henceforward, refuted him again before the year was out. In 1671 he worked up his propositions over again in Rosetum geometricum (L.W. v. 1–50), as a fragrant offering to the geometrical reader, appending a criticism (Censura brevis, pp. 50-88) on the first part of Wallis’s treatise De motu, published in 1669; also he sent Three Papers to the Royal Society on selected points treated very briefly, and when Wallis, still not weary of confuting, shortly replied, published them separately with triumphant Considerations on Dr Wallis’s Answer to them (E.W. vii. 429-448). Next year (1672), having now, as he believed, established himself with the Royal Society, he proceeded to complete the discomfiture of Wallis by a public address to the Society on all the points at issue between them from the beginning, Lux Mathematica excussa collisionibus Johannis Wallisii et Thomae Hobbesii (L.W. v. 89-150), the light, as the author R. R. (Roseti Repertor) added, being here “increased by many very brilliant rays.” Wallis replied in the Transactions, and then finally held his hand. Hobbes’s energy was not yet exhausted. In 1674, at the age of eighty-six, he published his Principia et problemata aliquot geometrica, ante desperata nunc breviter explicata et demonstrata (L.W. v. 150-214), containing in the chapters dealing with questions of principle not a few striking observations, which ought not to be overlooked in the study of his philosophy. His last piece of all, Decameron physiologicum (E.W. vii. 69-180), in 1678, was a new set of dialogues on physical questions, most of which he had treated in a similar fashion before; but now, in dealing with gravitation, he was able to fire a parting shot at Wallis; and one more demonstration of the equality of a straight line to the arc of a circle, thrown in at the end, appropriately closed the strangest warfare in which perverse thinker ever engaged.
We must now turn back to trace the fortunes of Hobbes and his other doings in the last twenty years of his life. All these controversial writings on mathematics and physics represent but one half of his activity after the age of seventy; though, as regards the other half, it is not Later Years. possible, for a reason that will be seen, to say as definitely in what order the works belonging to the period were produced. From the time of the Restoration he acquired a new prominence in the public eye. No year had passed since the appearance of Leviathan without some indignant protest against the influence which its trenchant doctrine was calculated to produce upon minds longing above everything for civil repose; but after the Restoration “Hobbism” became a fashionable creed, which it was the duty of every lover of true morality and religion to denounce. Two or three days after Charles’s arrival in London, Hobbes drew in the street the notice of his former pupil, and was at once received into favour. The young king, if he had ever himself resented the apparent disloyalty of the “Conclusion” of Leviathan, had not retained the feeling long, and could appreciate the principles of the great book when the application of them happened, as now, to be turned in his own favour. He had, besides, a relish for Hobbes’s wit (as he used to say, “Here comes the bear to be baited”), and did not like the old man the less because his presence at court scandalized the bishops or the prim virtue of Chancellor Hyde. He even went the length of bestowing on Hobbes (but not always paying) a pension of £100, and had his portrait hung up in the royal closet. These marks of favour, naturally, did not lessen Hobbes’s self-esteem, and perhaps they explain, in his later writings, a certain slavishness toward the regal authority, which is wholly absent from his rational demonstration of absolutism in the earlier works. At all events Hobbes was satisfied with the rule of a king who had appreciated the author of Leviathan, and protected him when, after a time, protection in a very real sense became necessary. His eagerness to defend himself against Wallis’s imputation of disloyalty, and his apologetic dedication of the Problemata physica to the king, are evidence of the hostility with which he was being pressed as early as 1662; but it was not till 1666 that he felt himself seriously in danger. In that year the Great Fire of London, following on the Great Plague, roused the superstitious fears of the people, and the House of Commons embodied the general feeling in a bill against atheism and profaneness. On the 17th of October it was ordered that the committee to which the bill was referred “should be empowered to receive information touching such books as tend to atheism, blasphemy and profaneness, or against the essence and attributes of God, and in particular the book published in the name of one White, and the book of Mr Hobbes called the Leviathan, and to report the matter with their opinion to the House.” Hobbes, then verging upon eighty, was terrified at the prospect of being treated as a heretic, and proceeded to burn such of his papers as he thought might compromise him. At the same time he set himself, with a very characteristic determination, to inquire into the actual state of the law of heresy. The results of his investigation were first announced in three short Dialogues added (in place of the old “Review and Conclusion,” for which the day had passed) as an Appendix to his Latin translation of Leviathan (L.W. iii.), included with the general collection of his works published at Amsterdam in 1668. In this appendix, as also in the posthumous tract, published in 1680, An Historical Narration concerning Heresy and the Punishment thereof (E.W. iv. 385-408), he aimed at showing that, since the High Court of Commission had been put down, there remained no court of heresy at all to which he was amenable, and that even when it stood nothing was to be declared heresy but what was at variance with the Nicene Creed, as he maintained the doctrine of Leviathan was not.
The only consequence that came of the parliamentary scare was that Hobbes could never afterwards get permission to print anything on subjects relating to human conduct. The collected edition of his Latin works (in two quarto volumes) appeared at Amsterdam in 1668, because he could not obtain the censor’s licence for its publication at London, Oxford or Cambridge. Other writings which he had finished, or on which he must have been engaged about this time, were not made public till after his death—the king apparently having made it the price of his protection that no fresh provocation should be offered to the popular sentiment. The most important of the works composed towards 1670, and thus kept back, is the extremely spirited dialogue to which he gave the title Behemoth: the History of the Causes of the Civil Wars of England and of the Counsels and Artifices by which they were carried on from the year 1640 to the year 1660. To the same period probably belongs the unfinished Dialogue between a Philosopher and a Student of the Common Laws of England (E.W. vi. 1-160), a trenchant criticism of the constitutional theory of English government as upheld by Coke. Aubrey takes credit for having tried to induce Hobbes to write upon the subject in 1664 by presenting him with a copy of Bacon’s Elements of the Laws of England, and though the attempt was then unsuccessful, Hobbes later on took to studying the statute-book, with Coke upon Littleton. One other posthumous production also (besides the tract on Heresy before mentioned) may be referred to this, if not, as Aubrey suggests, an earlier time—the two thousand and odd elegiac verses in which he gave his view of ecclesiastical encroachment on the civil power; the quaint verses, disposed in his now favourite dialogue-form, were first published, nine years after his death, under the title Historia ecclesiastica (L.W. v. 341-408), with a preface by Thomas Rymer.
For some time Hobbes was not even allowed to utter a word of protest, whatever might be the occasion that his enemies took to triumph over him. In 1669 an unworthy follower—Daniel Scargil by name, a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge—had to recant publicly and confess that his evil life had been the result of Hobbist doctrines. In 1674 John Fell, the dean of Christ Church, who bore the charges of the Latin translation of Anthony Wood’s History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford (1670), struck out all the complimentary epithets in the account of his life, and substituted very different ones; but this time the king did suffer him to defend himself by publishing a dignified letter (Vit. Auct. pp. xlvii.-l.), to which Fell replied by adding to the translation when it appeared a note full of the grossest insults. And, amid all his troubles, Hobbes was not without his consolations. No Englishman of that day stood in the same repute abroad, and foreigners, noble or learned, who came to England, never forgot to pay their respects to the old man, whose vigour and freshness of intellect no progress of the years seemed able to quench. Among these was the grand-duke of Tuscany (Ferdinand II.), who took away some works and a portrait to adorn the Medicean library.
His pastimes in the latest years were as singular as his labours. The autobiography in Latin verse, with its playful humour, occasional pathos and sublime self-complacency, was thrown off at the age of eighty-four. At eighty-five, in the year 1673, he sent forth a translation of four books of the Odyssey (ix.-xii.) in rugged but not seldom happily turned English rhymes; and, when he found this Voyage of Ulysses eagerly received, he had ready by 1675 a complete translation of both Iliad and Odyssey (E.W. x.), prefaced by a lively dissertation “Concerning the Virtues of an Heroic Poem,” showing his unabated interest in questions of literary style. After 1675, he passed his time at his patron’s seats in Derbyshire, occupied to the last with intellectual work in the early morning and in the afternoon hours, which it had long been his habit to devote to thinking and to writing. Even as late as August 1679 he was promising his publisher “somewhat to print in English.” The end came very soon afterwards. A suppression of urine in October, in spite of which he insisted upon being conveyed with the family from Chatsworth to Hardwick Hall towards the end of November, was followed by a paralytic stroke, under which he sank on the 4th of December, in his ninety-second year. He lies buried in the neighbouring church of Ault Hucknall.
He was tall and erect in figure, and lived on the whole a temperate life, though he used to say that he had been drunk about a hundred times. His favourite exercise was tennis, which he played regularly even after the age of seventy. Socially he was genial and courteous, though Personal characteristics. in argument he occasionally lost his temper. As a friend he was generous and loyal. Intellectually bold in the extreme, he was curiously timid in ordinary life, and is said to have had a horror of ghosts. He read little, and often boasted that he would have known as little as other men if he had read as much. He appears to have had an illegitimate daughter for whom he made generous provision. In the National Portrait Gallery there is a portrait of him by J. M. Wright, and two others are in the possession of the Royal Society.
As already suggested, it cannot be allowed that Hobbes falls into any regular succession from Bacon; neither can it be said that he handed on the torch to Locke. He was the one English thinker of the first rank in the long period of two generations separating Locke from Bacon, but, Place in English thought. save in the chronological sense, there is no true relation of succession among the three. It would be difficult even to prove any ground of affinity among them beyond a desposition to take sense as a prime factor in the account of subjective experience: their common interest in physical science was shared equally by rationalist thinkers of the Cartesian school, and was indeed begotten of the time. Backwards, Hobbes’s relations are rather with Galileo and the other inquirers who, from the beginning of the 17th century, occupied themselves with the physical world in the manner that has come later to be distinguished by the name of science in opposition to philosophy. But even more than in external nature, Hobbes was interested in the phenomena of social life, presenting themselves so impressively in an age of political revolution. So it came to pass that, while he was unable, by reason of imperfect training and too tardy development, with all his pains, to make any contribution to physical science or to mathematics as instrumental in physical research, he attempted a task which no other adherent of the new “mechanical philosophy” conceived—nothing less than such a universal construction of human knowledge as would bring Society and Man (at once the matter and maker of Society) within the same principles of scientific explanation as were found applicable to the world of Nature. The construction was, of course, utterly premature, even supposing it were inherently possible; but it is Hobbes’s distinction, in his century, to have conceived it, and he is thereby lifted from among the scientific workers with whom he associated to the rank of those philosophical thinkers who have sought to order the whole domain of human knowledge. The effects of his philosophical endeavour may be traced on a variety of lines. Upon every subject that came within the sweep of his system, except mathematics and physics, his thoughts have been productive of thought. When the first storm of opposition from smaller men had begun to die down, thinkers of real weight, beginning with Cumberland and Cudworth, were moved by their aversion to his analysis of the moral nature of man to probe anew the question of the natural springs and the rational grounds of human action; and thus it may be said that Hobbes gave the first impulse to the whole of that movement of ethical speculation that, in modern times, has been carried on with such remarkable continuity in England. In politics the revulsion from his conclusions did not prevent the more clear-sighted of his opponents from recognizing the force of his supreme demonstration of the practical irresponsibility of the sovereign power, wherever seated, in the state; and, when in a later age the foundations of a positive theory of legislation were laid in England, the school of Bentham—James Mill, Grote, Molesworth—brought again into general notice the writings of the great publicist of the 17th century, who, however he might, by the force of temperament, himself prefer the rule of one, based his whole political system upon a rational regard to the common weal. Finally, the psychology of Hobbes, though too undeveloped to guide the thoughts or even perhaps arrest the attention of Locke, when essaying the scientific analysis of knowledge, came in course of time (chiefly through James Mill) to be connected with the theory of associationism developed from within the school of Locke, in different ways, by Hartley and Hume; nor is it surprising that the later associationists, finding their principle more distinctly formulated in the earlier thinker, should sometimes have been betrayed into affiliating themselves to Hobbes rather than to Locke. For his ethical theories see Ethics.
Sufficient information is given in the Vitae Hobbianae auctarium (L.W. i. p. lxv. ff.) concerning the frequent early editions of Hobbes’s separate works, and also concerning the works of those who wrote against him, to the end of the 17th century. In the 18th century, after Clarke’s Boyle Lectures of 1704–1705, the opposition was less express. In 1750 The Moral and Political Works were collected, with life, &c., by Dr Campbell, in a folio edition, including in order, Human Nature, De corpore politico, Leviathan, Answer to Bramhall’s Catching of the Leviathan, Narration concerning Heresy, Of Liberty and Necessity, Behemoth, Dialogue of the Common Laws, the Introduction to the Thucydides, Letter to Davenant and two others, the Preface to the Homer, De mirabilibus Pecci (with English translation), Considerations on the Reputation, &., of T. H. In 1812 the Human Nature and the Liberty and Necessity (with supplementary extracts from the Questions of 1656) were reprinted in a small edition of 250 copies, with a meritorious memoir (based on Campbell) and dedication to Horne Tooke, by Philip Mallet. Molesworth’s edition (1839–1845), dedicated to Grote, has been referred to in a former note. Of translations may be mentioned Les Élémens philosophiques du citoyen (1649) and Le Corps politique (1652), both by S. de Sorbière, conjoined with Le Traité de la nature humaine, by d’Holbach, in 1787, under the general title Les Œuvres philosophiques et politiques de Thomas Hobbes; a translation of the first section, “Computatio sive logica,” of the De corpore, included by Destutt de Tracy with his Élémens d’idéologie (1804); a translation of Leviathan into Dutch in 1678, and another (anonymous) into German—Des Engländers Thomas Hobbes Leviathan oder der kirchliche und bürgerliche Staat (Halle, 1794, 2 vols.); a translation of the De cive by J. H. v. Kirchmann—T. Hobbes: Abhandlung über den Bürger, &c. (Leipzig, 1873). Important later editions are those of Ferdinand Tönnies, Behemoth (1889), on which see Croom Robertson’s Philosophical Remains (1894), p. 451; Elements of Law (1889).
Biographical and Critical Works.—There are three accounts of Hobbes’s life, first published together in 1681, two years after his death, by R. B. (Richard Blackbourne, a friend of Hobbes’s admirer, John Aubrey), and reprinted, with complimentary verses by Cowley and others, at the beginning of Sir W. Molesworth’s collection of the Latin Works: (1) T. H. Malmesb. vita (pp. xiii.-xxi.), written by Hobbes himself, or (as also reported) by T. Rymer, at his dictation; (2) Vitae Hobbianae auctarium (pp. xxii.-lxxx.), turned into Latin from Aubrey’s English; (3) T. H. Malmesb. vita carmine expressa (pp. lxxxi.-xcix.), written by Hobbes at the age of eighty-four (first published by itself in 1680). The Life of Mr T. H. of Malmesburie, printed among the Lives of Eminent Men, in 1813, from Aubrey’s papers in the Bodleian, &c. (vol. ii. pt. ii. pp. 593–637), contains some interesting particulars not found in the Auctarium. All that is of any importance for Hobbes’s life is contained in G. Croom Robertson’s Hobbes (1886) in Blackwood’s Philosophical Classics, and Sir Leslie Stephen’s Hobbes (1904) in the “English Men of Letters” series, both of which deal fully with his philosophy also. See also F. Tönnies, Hobbes Leben und Lehre (1896), Hobbes-Analekten (1904 foll.); G. Zart, Einfluss der englischen Philosophie seit Bacon auf die deutsche Philosophie des 18ten Jahrh. (Berlin, 1881); G. Brandt, Thomas Hobbes: Grundlinien seiner Philosophie (1895); G. Lyon, La Philos. de Hobbes (1893); J. M. Robertson, Pioneer Humanists (1907); J. Rickaby, Free Will and Four English Philosophers (1906), pp. 1-72; J. Watson, Hedonistic Theories (1895); W. Graham, English Political Philosophy from Hobbes to Maine (1899); W. J. H. Campion, Outlines of Lectures on Political Science (1895). (G. C. R.; X.)
- The translation, under the title Eight Books of the Peloponnesian War, written by Thucydides the son of Olorus, interpreted with faith and diligence immediately out of the Greek by Thomas Hobbes, secretary to the late Earl of Devonshire, appeared in 1628 (or 1629), after the death of the earl, to whom touching reference is made in the dedication. It reappeared in 1634, with the date of the dedication altered, as if then newly written. Though Hobbes claims to have performed his work “with much more diligence than elegance,” his version is remarkable as a piece of English writing, but is by no means accurate. It fills vols. viii. and ix. in Molesworth’s collection (11 vols., including index vol.) of Hobbes’s English Works (London, Bohn, 1839–1845). The volumes of this collection will here be cited as E. W. Molesworth’s collection of the Latin Opera philosophica (5 vols., 1839–1845) will be cited as L.W. The five hundred and odd Latin hexameters under the title De mirabilibus Pecci (L.W. v. 323–340), giving an account of a short excursion from Chatsworth to view the seven wonders of the Derbyshire Peak, were written before 1628 (in 1626 or 1627), though not published till 1636. It was a New Year’s present to his patron, who gave him £5 in return. A later edition, in 1678, included an English version by another hand.
- Hobbes, in minor works dealing with physical questions (L.W. iv. 316; E.W. vii. 112), makes two incidental references to Bacon’s writings, but never mentions Bacon as he mentions Galileo, Kepler, Harvey, and others (De corpore, ep. ded.), among the lights of the century. The word “Induction,” which occurs in only three or four passages throughout all his works (and these again minor ones), is never used by him with the faintest reminiscence of the import assigned to it by Bacon; and, as will be seen, he had nothing but scorn for experimental work in physics.
- The free English abstract of Aristotle’s Rhetoric, published in 1681, after Hobbes’s death, as The Whole Art of Rhetoric (E.W. vi. 423-510), corresponds with a Latin version dictated to his young pupil. Among Hobbes’s papers preserved at Hardwick, where he died, there remains the boy’s dictation-book, interspersed with headings, examples, &c. in Hobbes’s hand.
- Among the Hardwick papers there is preserved a MS. copy of the work, under the title Elementes of Law Naturall and Politique, with the dedication to the earl of Newcastle, written in Hobbes’s own hand, and dated May 9, 1640. This dedication was prefixed to the first thirteen chapters of the work when printed by themselves, under the title Human Nature in 1650.
- The book, of which the copies are rare (one in Dr Williams’s library in London and one in the Bodleian), was printed in quarto size (Paris, 1642), with a pictorial title-page (not afterwards reproduced) of scenes and figures illustrating its three divisions, “Libertas,” “Imperium,” “Religio.” The title Elementorum philosophiae sectio tertia, De Cive, expresses its relation to the unwritten sections, which also comes out in one or two back-references in the text.
- L.W. ii. 133–134. In this first public edition (12mo), the title was changed to Elementa philosophica de cive, the references in the text to the previous sections being omitted. The date of the dedication to the young earl of Devonshire was altered from 1641 to 1646.
- Described as “nobilis Languedocianus” in Vit.; doubtless the same with the “Dominus Verdusius, nobilis Aquitanus,” to whom was dedicated the Exam. et emend. math. hod. (L.W. iv.) in 1660. Du Verdus was one of Hobbes’s profoundest admirers and most frequent correspondents in later years; there are many of his letters among Hobbes’s papers at Hardwick.
- The Human Nature corresponds with cc. i.-xiii. of the first part of the original treatise. The remaining six chapters of the part stand now as Part I. of the De Corpore Politico. Part II. of the D.C.P. corresponds with the original second part of the whole work.
- At the beginning of this year he wrote and published in Paris a letter on the nature and conditions of poetry, chiefly epic, in answer to an appeal to his judgment made in the preface to Sir W. Davenant’s heroic poem, Gondibert (E.W. iv. 441–458). The letter is dated Jan. 10, 1650 (1650/1).
- This presentation copy, so described by Clarendon (Survey of the Leviathan, 1676, p. 8), is doubtless the beautifully written and finely bound MS. now to be found in the British Museum (Egerton MSS. 1910).
- During all the time he was abroad he had continued to receive from his patron a yearly pension of £80, and they remained in steady, correspondence. The earl, having sided with the king in 1642, was declared unfit to sit in the House of Peers, and though, by submission to Parliament, he recovered his estates when they were sequestered later on, he did not sit again till 1660. Among Hobbes’s friends at this time are specially mentioned John Selden and William Harvey, who left him a legacy of £10. According to Aubrey, Selden left him an equal bequest, but this seems to be a mistake. Harvey (not Bacon) is the only Englishman he mentions in the dedicatory epistle prefixed to the De corpore, among the founders, before himself, of the new natural philosophy.
- The treatise bore the date, “Rouen, Aug. 20, 1652,” but it should have been 1646, as afterwards explained by Hobbes himself (E.W. v. 25).
- “The Vit. auct. refers to 1676, a ‘Letter to William duke of Newcastle on the Controversy about Liberty and Necessity, held with Benjamin Laney, bishop of Ely.’ In that year there did appear a (confused) little tract written by Laney against Hobbes’s concluding statement of his own ‘Opinion’ in the ‘Liberty and Necessity’ of 1654 (1646), but I can find no trace of any further writing by Hobbes on the subject” (G. Croom Robertson, Hobbes, p. 202).
- This translation, Concerning Body, though not made by Hobbes, was revised by him; but it is far from accurate, and not seldom, at critical places (e.g. c. vi. § 2), quite misleading. Philosophical citations from the De corpore should always be made in the original Latin. Molesworth reprints the Latin, not from the first edition of 1655, but from the modified edition of 1668—modified, in the mathematical chapters, in general (not exact) keeping with the English edition of 1656. The Vindex episode, referred to in the Six Lessons, becomes intelligible only by going beyond Molesworth to the original Latin edition of 1655.
- They were composed originally, in a somewhat different and rather more extended form, as the second part of an English treatise on Optics, completed by the year 1646. Of this treatise, preserved in Harleian MSS. 3360, Molesworth otherwise prints the dedication to the marquis of Newcastle, and the concluding paragraphs (E.W. vii. 467-471).
- L.W. iv. 1-232. The propositions on the circle, forty-six in number (shattered by Wallis in 1662), were omitted by Hobbes when he republished the Dialogues in 1668, in the collected edition of his Latin works from which Molesworth reprints. In the part omitted, at p. 154 of the original edition, Hobbes refers to his first introduction to Euclid, in a way that confirms the story in Aubrey quoted in an earlier paragraph.
- Remaining at Oxford, Wallis, in fact, took no active part in the constitution of the new society, but he had been, from 1645, one of the originators of an earlier association in London, thus continued or revived. This earlier society had been continued also at Oxford after the year 1649, when Wallis and others of its members received appointments there.
- The Problemata physica was at the same time put into English (with some changes and omission of part of the mathematical appendix), and presented to the king, to whom the work was dedicated in a remarkable letter apologizing for Leviathan. In its English form, as Seven Philosophical Problems and Two Propositions of Geometry (E.W. vii. 1-68), the work was first published in 1682, after Hobbes’s death.
- Wallis’s pieces were excluded from the collected edition of his works (1693–1697), and have become extremely rare.
- The De medio animarum statu of Thomas White, a heterodox Catholic priest, who contested the natural immortality of the soul. White (who died 1676) and Hobbes were friends.
- E.W. vi. 161-418. Though Behemoth was kept back at the king’s express desire, it saw the light, without Hobbes’s leave, in 1679, before his death.