Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hobbes, Thomas
HOBBES, THOMAS (1588–1679), philosopher, second son of Thomas Hobbes, vicar of Charlton and Westport, was born at Westport (now part of Malmesbury, Wiltshire) on 5 April 1588. His mother, of whom it is only known that she came of a race of yeomen, gave birth to her second son prematurely, owing to her agitation at the reports of the Armada. The father, described by Aubrey as ignorant and choleric, was forced to fly for an assault made at the church door on a neighbouring parson. He died in obscurity ‘beyond London.’ His children, two boys and a girl, were brought up by his brother, Francis, a flourishing glover at Malmesbury. The eldest son, Edmund, a plain, sensible man, entered the glove trade. He lived to old age, and left a son, who was kindly treated by his uncle Thomas, but turned out ill, and died in 1670, leaving five children, remembered in their granduncle's will. Thomas Hobbes was sent to school at Westport Church when four years old, and at the age of six was learning Latin and Greek. At eight he was sent to Malmesbury school, and afterwards to a private school kept by Robert Latimer at Westport. Latimer, a ‘good Grecian,’ afterwards Aubrey's schoolmaster, took an interest in his pupil, who translated the ‘Medea’ of Euripides into Latin iambics before he was fourteen, and already showed a contemplative turn. About January or February 1602–3 his uncle entered him at Magdalen Hall, Oxford. The discipline was at that time much relaxed, and ecclesiastical disputes were caused by the rising energy of the puritans, who were very strong at Magdalen Hall. Hobbes found the teaching, still conducted on the old scholastic methods, uncongenial, amused himself with snaring jackdaws (according to Aubrey), and took to reading books of travel. He graduated B.A. on 5 Feb. 1607–8. The principal of the hall recommended him to William Cavendish (d. 1626) [q. v.], afterwards first earl of Devonshire, who required a tutor for his eldest son, William Cavendish (1591?–1628) [q. v.], afterwards second earl. Hobbes says that the next twenty years, spent with the young earl, were the happiest part of his life (Vita carmine expressa). He became the friend, rather than the teacher, of the youth, who took him out hunting and hawking, and employed him in borrowing money. Amid such occupations his Latin grew rusty. In 1610 they set out on the grand tour, and visited France, Germany, and Italy. Hobbes learnt to speak French and Italian, and found that the philosophy of Oxford had gone out of fashion on the continent. He resolved to become a scholar, and after his return, while living with his pupil as secretary, devoted his leisure to the study of classical literature. He delighted chiefly in poets and historians, and especially in Thucydides, of whom he made a translation, published, after long delay, in 1629. He had already, according to his later statement, the political purpose of showing how much wiser is one man than a crowd. The death of his patron in 1628 left him for a time to his own resources. The widow was engaged in energetically repairing the family affairs, injured by her husband's extravagance, and dispensed with Hobbes's services, although allowing him to remain for some time in the house. In 1629 he became travelling tutor to the son of Sir Gervase Clifton, and spent eighteen months, chiefly, it seems, at Paris, though he also appears to have visited Venice. In 1631 he was recalled from Paris to become tutor of his first pupil's eldest son, William Cavendish (1617–1684) [q. v.], third earl of Devonshire. He instructed the boy in rhetoric, logic, astronomy, the principles of law, and other subjects. In 1634 he took the earl on a third foreign tour, visiting Italy, and spending much time at Paris, where he was now beginning to be known to the philosophic circles of the time. It was probably during his second tour (1629–31) that he had the intellectual experience described most fully by Aubrey. He accidentally opened a copy of Euclid's ‘Elements’ at the forty-seventh proposition of the first book. Reading it, he exclaimed, ‘By God, this is impossible.’ Examining the proofs, he was at last convinced, and fell ‘in love with geometry.’ Another story, told by himself (Latin Works, i. xx), is of uncertain date. He heard some one inquire, in a company of learned men, what sense was. No one being able to answer, he reflected that sensation was only made possible by motion. He was thus led to the mechanical explanation of nature, which became a leading principle of his philosophy, and studied geometry in order to understand the modes of motion. It is doubtful (see Robertson, pp. 31–5) whether this should be referred to the second or third tour. A tract (in Harl. MS. 6796) contains an early statement of his theory of sense, which probably shows his first attempts at working it out. In any case, Hobbes was now interested in the philosophical movements of Europe. He had gained the intimacy of Galileo at Florence about 1636, and always retained the profoundest respect for the old philosopher, who was in his last period of retirement. At Paris Hobbes was received in the circles of which Mersenne, the friend of Descartes, was the centre, and in which all the new philosophical and scientific theories were most eagerly discussed. At a later period he became intimate with Gassendi, whose philosophy was congenial to his own, though they appear to have reached their conclusions quite independently. Hobbes acquired many other eminent friends at different periods. Before his first foreign tour, presumably during the period between the chancellor's fall and his death (1621–6), he had been known to Bacon. Hobbes, according to Aubrey, wrote from Bacon's dictation, showing, as may be believed, more intelligence than other amanuenses, and helped in turning some of the essays into Latin. Hobbes, however, makes very slight reference to Bacon, and does not seem to have been directly influenced by his philosophy. Among other friends mentioned (see list in Vitæ Auctarium, Latin Works, i. lxii) are Herbert of Cherbury, whose rationalism would be congenial to him, Kenelm Digby, Chillingworth, and Harvey; while among literary friends were Sir Robert Ayton [q. v.], Ben Jonson, Cowley, D'Avenant, and Waller. He was admitted, probably after his third tour, to the circle of Falkland, Hyde, and Sidney Godolphin (1610–1643) [q. v.], the last of whom was especially dear to him. After his return to England with Devonshire in 1637, Hobbes continued to live with the earl, and set about composing the systematic treatises in which he had now resolved to embody his philosophy. He contemplated three treatises: the ‘De Corpore,’ containing his first principles, as well as his mathematical and physical doctrines; the ‘De Homine,’ upon psychology; and the ‘De Cive,’ giving his political and religious theories. The growing troubles led him to interrupt the systematic development of his philosophy by writing a treatise called ‘The Elements of Law, Natural and Politique,’ afterwards published in two separate parts, as ‘Human Nature’ and ‘De Corpore Politico.’ This treatise, which already contains his characteristic positions in psychology and politics, was circulated for the present in manuscript. The dedication to the Marquis of Newcastle, cousin of the second Earl of Devonshire, is dated 9 May 1640 (copies are preserved at Hardwick Hall and in the British Museum). The Short Parliament had been dissolved on 5 May. Hobbes, however, said long afterwards that his treatise had ‘occasioned much talk of the author, and had not his majesty dissolved the parliament it had brought him into danger of his life.’ He may have forgotten the order of events, and no doubt exaggerated the effect produced by his treatise. At any rate, when the Long Parliament met in November and impeached Strafford, Hobbes took fright and went over to Paris, ‘the first of all that fled, and there continued eleven years, to his damage some thousands of pounds deep.’ At Paris he took up his old friendships, and transmitted through Mersenne, in January 1641, sixteen objections to various points in Descartes's ‘Meditationes de primâ philosophiâ,’ and afterwards objections to some of Descartes's physical positions in the ‘Dioptrique.’ He concealed his name and the identity of the two objectors. Descartes received both criticisms contemptuously, and declared finally that he would not continue a correspondence with the author. The development of the struggle in England now led Hobbes to give a fuller exposition of his political theories. He composed his ‘De Cive,’ printed in 1642, and with a dedicatory epistle to the Earl of Devonshire, signed T. H., and dated 1 Nov. 1641. It is a developed statement of the doctrine already set forth in his unpublished treatise; he gives more explicitly and elaborately his favourite theory that peace could only be obtained by the complete subordination of the church to the state. Few copies were printed, and the book is now very rare. There are copies in the Bodleian (formerly Selden's) and Dr. Williams's Library. The authoritative edition was published, with notes in reply to objections, at Amsterdam in 1647, under the supervision of his friend Sorbière, a French physician. A preface explained its relation to his general scheme.
Although Hobbes contributed some scientific papers to books published by Mersenne, his interest in political events induced him again to postpone the systematic exposition of his philosophy, and to set about the composition of his great book, the ‘Leviathan.’ Refugees from England were coming over and discussing politics with him. He carried ‘a pen and inkhorn’ about with him, according to Aubrey, and entered any thoughts that occurred to him in a note-book. He was occasionally pressed for money. He had left England with five hundred pounds. Hyde afterwards brought him two hundred pounds, bequeathed to him by his friend Godolphin, and he received eighty pounds a year from the Earl of Devonshire (Vita carmine expressa). The earl had taken the royalist side, and had left England on being impeached before the House of Lords in July 1642, when his estates were sequestrated. Hobbes's salary would probably be precarious at this period. In 1645, however, the earl returned to England, submitted to the parliament, and in 1646 compounded for his estates. Hobbes was about this time on the point of retiring to Languedoc to live with a French friend and admirer, Du Verdus (Robertson, p. 62). The arrival of the Prince of Wales in the summer of 1646 induced him to stay at Paris where he was engaged to teach the prince the elements of mathematics. The position, as he explained to Sorbière (letter of 4 Oct. 1646), had no political significance, and was a mere engagement by the month (22 March 1647). The last letter shows that he had already thoughts of returning to England, where his patron was now settled. In 1647 Hobbes had a dangerous illness. His old friend Mersenne came to his bedside and begged him not to die outside the catholic church. Hobbes observed that he had long ago considered that matter sufficiently, and turned the conversation by asking ‘When did you last see Gassendi?’ Some days later he welcomed Cosin (afterwards bishop of Durham), and took the sacrament according to the Anglican rites, a fact to which he afterwards referred in proof of his orthodoxy.
While the ‘Leviathan’ was progressing, Hobbes's unpublished treatise of 1640 was published in two parts, ‘Human Nature, or the Fundamental Elements of Policy,’ and ‘De Corpore Politico, or Elements of Law, Moral and Politic,’ and in 1651 he published an English translation of the ‘De Cive.’ His ‘Leviathan’ was now being printed in London, and appeared in the middle of 1651. When Charles II reached Paris about the end of October, Hobbes presented him with a beautifully written copy on vellum (now in the British Museum, Egerton MS. 1910). His position in Paris had become difficult. His orthodoxy was suspected, not without reason. In 1646 he had had a private discussion with Bramhall upon freewill in presence of the Marquis of Newcastle, which some years later produced a keen controversy. The ‘Leviathan’ was not likely to conciliate churchmen, and shortly after presenting his manuscript to the king he was denied access to the court, and told by the Marquis of Ormonde that he was suspected of disloyalty and atheism. His usual timidity was excited by the murders of Isaac Dorislaus [q. v.] and Anthony Ascham [q. v.] in 1649 and 1650, and he thought that similar dangers might await the author of the ‘Leviathan.’ The French clergy, irritated by his bitter assaults on the papacy, were also thought to be meditating an attack. His flight to England soon afterwards gave credit to the suspicion that he had written the book in the interests of Cromwell. Clarendon tells a story of a conversation with Hobbes, who, in answer to remonstrances against the forthcoming book, said: ‘The truth is, I have a mind to go home.’ The ‘Leviathan,’ however, would hardly recommend its author to either party. Its abstract principles might no doubt be applied in defence of the protectorate when definitely established, which, however, did not become an accomplished fact till the end of 1653. The only passages alleged in support of the imputation of subservience to Cromwell were some phrases in the brief ‘Review and Conclusion.’ These, it may be remarked, are in the copy presented to Charles. They endeavour to define the circumstances under which submission to a new sovereign becomes legitimate. Hobbes argues in favour of those who had compounded for their estates, saying that by submitting in order to retain a part of their rights they were really more detrimental to the usurper than if by not submitting they enabled him to seize the whole. He defended this position when afterwards attacked by Wallis, and said truly that he had never justified rebellion. It was indeed idle to blame an elderly and timid philosopher, upon whom the exiled court looked with disfavour, for submitting with so many others to the new government then thought to be permanently established. His defence of the compounders applied to his patron, who had himself compounded in 1646, and to whom he was soon to return. He fled secretly to England at the end of 1651, suffering from the hardships of the frontier journey after a second severe illness (described in Guy Patin's Letters, 1846, ii. 593–4); submitted to the council of state, and was allowed to live quietly in private. An intimation, apparently sanctioned by Clarendon's language, that he received some offer from Cromwell appears to be groundless. The charge was first expressly made by John Dowel in ‘The Leviathan Heretical’ in 1683. Hobbes, indeed, in 1656 ventured to boast of his having reconciled ‘a thousand gentlemen’ to submission to the government (Six Lessons, &c. E. vii. 336); but, in any case, he received nothing, and in 1653 resumed his position in the household of his old patron. He remained, however, in London, in Fetter Lane, in order to have the advantage of intellectual society while completing the exposition of his system. Selden and Harvey were at this period his chief friends. He received a legacy of 10l. from each, from Selden in 1654, and from Harvey in 1657 (for a doubtful story about Hobbes's visit to Selden when dying see Aubrey, Lives, ii. 532; Macray, Annals of the Bodleian, p. 77 n.) He took pains to find a church where he could take the sacrament according to the rites of the church of England.
Hobbes ultimately published the ‘De Corpore,’ representing the first part of his plan, in 1655. It had been delayed for a year by his difficulty in meeting objections raised by his friends to certain unlucky solutions of impossible geometrical problems. Finally the ‘De Homine’ should have completed the system by giving his psychology. The treatise, however, published under that title in 1658 was a mere makeshift, containing some psychology less systematic than that which he had already published, and a Latin translation of some chapters on optics from an unpublished treatise written by him in 1646 (now in Harleian MS. 3360). Hobbes's labours had been interrupted, not only by the advance of age, but by a number of controversies which lasted the rest of his life. After the discussion in presence of the Marquis of Newcastle Hobbes had answered a written statement of Bramhall's position by a reply which remained in manuscript. He had allowed a translation to be made by a young Englishman for the satisfaction of a French friend. The translator had taken a copy, which he published in 1654 without Hobbes's privity, prefixing a letter in denunciation of priests and ministers. Bramhall, indignant at this proceeding, which he naturally ascribed to Hobbes, printed in 1655 all that had passed, including a long rejoinder to Hobbes's argument. Hobbes in 1656 published a reply to Bramhall, called ‘Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity, and Chance,’ clearing himself of the personal charges, and replying with remarkable vigour upon the philosophical question. Bramhall replied in ‘Castigations of Hobbes's Animadversions’ in 1658, with an appendix called ‘The Catching of Leviathan the Great Whale.’ Hobbes did not carry on the argument, but in 1668 replied to the charges of atheism and blasphemy (of which he declared that he had now heard for the first time) in ‘An Answer to … Dr. Bramhall,’ not published till 1682. The argument upon necessity shows Hobbes at his best.
A more unfortunate dispute arose with the mathematicians. The group of scientific men who after the Restoration founded the Royal Society were already meeting at Oxford. Seth Ward [q. v.] was Savilian professor of astronomy during the protectorate, and in his ‘Vindiciæ Academicæ’ (1654) asserted against John Webster's ‘Examen of Academies’ that the university had now made advances in science which, as he added in an appendix, would enable it to judge the geometrical novelties of which Hobbes had already boasted. Hobbes, in his ‘De Corpore’ (1655), retorted upon Ward, and produced his solutions of some ancient puzzles, especially the squaring of the circle. Ward replied by an ‘Exercitatio’ upon Hobbes's philosophy a year later; but turned over the mathematical argument to another of the circle, the famous John Wallis, Savilian professor of geometry. Wallis's ‘Elenchus Geometriæ Hobbianæ’ showed unsparingly the manifold absurdities of Hobbes's solutions, and by an ingenious examination of an early copy of the book, exposed his hopeless attempts, made in consequence of Ward's remarks, to patch up the faulty demonstrations. Further replies and rejoinders followed, in which, while Wallis was clearly victorious as to the mathematical questions, the disputants rivalled each other in abuse and verbal quibbling. The controversy was renewed by Hobbes in 1660, by an examination in dialogue form of Wallis's mathematical works, which, failing to bring Wallis into the field, was succeeded by a solution of the duplication of the cube brought out anonymously by Hobbes in Paris. As soon as Wallis refuted this Hobbes acknowledged it, and reproduced it at the end of a ‘Dialogus Physicus, sive, de Natura Aeris,’ an attack upon Boyle's ‘New Experiments touching the Spring of the Air.’ Hobbes resented his exclusion from the founders of the Royal Society, and attributed their coldness to the malignity of Wallis. He made an unpleasant allusion to Wallis's achievement in his deciphering the king's papers taken after Naseby. Boyle answered Hobbes, and Wallis, out of regard (as he said) for Boyle, once more demolished Hobbes's mathematics in ‘Hobbius Heauton-timorumenos’ (1662). He ventured, however, to add that Hobbes had written the ‘Leviathan’ in support of Cromwell, to which Hobbes replied effectively in his ‘Considerations upon the Refutation, Loyalty, Manners, and Religion of Thomas Hobbes,’ 1662. In 1666 Hobbes once more took up the hopeless task of defending his own fantasies and attacking Wallis. Wallis published his last retort in 1672. Hobbes in 1674 again published some of his pretended solutions, and as late as 1678, at the age of ninety, fired his last shot in the ‘Decameron Physiologicum.’
Hobbes lived after the Restoration at his patron's houses in London and the country. Charles II, two or three days after his return to England, saw Hobbes in the Strand, and spoke kindly to him. Afterwards, while sitting to Samuel Cooper, the miniature-painter, the king amused himself by talking to Hobbes. Hobbes could match the courtiers at repartee, and the king would say, ‘Here comes the bear to be baited’ (Aubrey and Sorberiana, 1694, p. 109). Charles also gave him a pension of 100l., which was paid as irregularly as other pensions of the time (see Hobbes's Petition, E. vii. 471). The bishops and Clarendon, however, looked upon the author of the ‘Leviathan’ with suspicion. In 1666 a committee of the House of Commons, appointed to consider a bill against ‘Atheism and Profaneness,’ was empowered to receive information about offending books, and especially the ‘Leviathan.’ According to Aubrey, Hobbes was so alarmed as to burn his papers. A report given by White Kennett (Memoirs of Cavendish Family) says that he now frequented the chapel and took the sacrament, though he ‘turned his back upon the sermon.’ He argued (in an appendix to a Latin translation of the ‘Leviathan’ in 1668) that since the abolition of the high commission there was no court which could try him for heresy. He found protectors in Arlington and in the king. Charles, however, would not permit him to publish any work of political or religious tendency. ‘The Behemoth’ (finished about 1668) was suppressed by Charles's orders, though a surreptitious edition appeared in 1679, and some other books were silenced. In 1669 the Cambridge authorities forced one Daniel Scargil, who had defended some theses from the ‘Leviathan,’ to recant publicly, and assert that his vicious life had been due to his Hobbist principles. John Fell (1625–1686) [q. v.], dean of Christ Church, introduced some contemptuous remarks upon Hobbes into a Latin translation of Wood's ‘History and Antiquities,’ and persisted, in spite of a remonstrance from Hobbes. Many attacks upon his doctrines by distinguished writers were also appearing; but his fame was spreading abroad, and distinguished foreigners were eager to pay him homage during visits to England. Among them was the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who saw him in 1669, and to whom he dedicated his ‘Quadratura Circuli.’
When eighty-four he wrote his autobiography in Latin verse, and at eighty-six completed his translation of Homer's ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Iliad.’ In 1675 he finally left London, passing the rest of his time between Hardwick and Chatsworth, the seats of the Devonshire family. As late as August 1679 he was still writing, but had an attack of strangury in October. He insisted upon travelling with the family from Chatsworth to Hardwick during November, but soon afterwards was attacked by paralysis, and died quietly on 4 Dec. 1679. He was buried in the chancel of Hault Hucknall Church.
Hobbes's health was weak in youth, but improved after he was forty. He was over six feet high, and in old age erect for his years. He had good eyes, which shone ‘as with a bright live coal’ under excitement. His black hair caused him to be nicknamed ‘Crow’ at school. He had a short bristling auburn moustache, but shaved what would have been a ‘venerable beard,’ to avoid an appearance of philosophical austerity. He took little physic, and preferred an ‘experienced old woman’ to the ‘most learned but inexperienced physician.’ He was generally temperate, though he calculated that he had been drunk a hundred times during a life of ninety-two years. His diet was regular; he drank no wine after sixty, and ate chiefly fish. He rose at seven, breakfasted on bread and butter, dined at eleven, and after a pipe slept for half an hour, afterwards writing down his morning thoughts. He took regular exercise, playing tennis even at seventy-five, and in the country taking a smart walk, after which he was rubbed by a servant. He is said to have had an illegitimate daughter, for whom he provided. He was affable and courteous, a pleasant companion, though it is recorded that he sometimes lost his temper in arguing with Thomas White or ‘Albius’ [q. v.] (Wood, Athenæ, ‘Joseph Glanville’). A common story of his fear of ghosts is denied in the ‘Vitæ Auctarium’ (see also Bayle, s. v., note N). He read not much, but thoroughly, and was fond of saying that if he had read as much as other learned men he would have been as ignorant. He was charitable and very liberal to his relations. His long connection with the Cavendishes is creditable to both, and he appears to have been a faithful friend. He was constitutionally timid, though intellectually audacious, and always on his guard against possible persecution. But the charges of time-serving seem to be disproved. There is a portrait of him by J. M. Wright in the National Portrait Gallery, and two in the possession of the Royal Society. A portrait by Cooper was formerly in the royal collections.
Hobbes produced a fermentation in English thought not surpassed until the advent of Darwinism. While, however, the opponents of Hobbes were countless, his biographer could discover only a single supporter. ‘Hobbism’ was an occasional name of reproach until the middle of the eighteenth century (he is mentioned on the title-page of ‘Deism Revealed,’ 1751), although his philosophy had long been eclipsed by Locke's ‘Essay.’ He is one of Kortholt's ‘three impostors’ (1680) along with Spinoza and Herbert of Cherbury. In Farquhar's ‘Constant Couple,’ 1699, the hypocritical debauchee carries Hobbes in his pocket; and among ‘Twelve Ingenious Characters,’ 1686, is a dissolute town-fop who takes about ‘two leaves of Leviathan’ (D'Israeli, Miscellanies, 1840, p. 262). Atterbury holds him up as a warning in a sermon ‘on the terrors of conscience’ (Sermons, 1734, ii. 112). He was reviled on all sides as the typical atheist, materialist, political absolutist, and preacher of ethical selfishness. Hobbes was in truth a product of the great intellectual movement distinguished by such names as Bacon (1561–1629), Galileo (1564–1642), Kepler (1571–1630), Harvey (1578–1657), and Descartes (1596–1650). He mixed in the scientific circles of Paris and London. He shared in the general repudiation of scholasticism. In his so-called ‘Philosophia Prima’ he touched hastily upon first principles, but failed to recognise the significance of the ultimate problems the answer to which by Descartes founded modern philosophy. His thorough-going nominalism is his most remarkable characteristic. At the same time he was scarcely influenced by Bacon's theory of the importance of systematic induction and experiment. He conceived of a general scientific scheme of universal knowledge, deducible by geometrical methods from the motions of matter which he assumed to be the ultimate fact. The conception recalls in some respects that of Mr. Herbert Spencer. Hobbes was very ill qualified for elaborating his scheme. His self-confidence was so great and his intellect so rigid when he began Euclid that he mistook blundering for original discovery, and wasted his old age in the obstinate defence of absurdities. De Morgan, however, observes (Budget of Paradoxes, p. 67) that he was not such an ‘ignoramus’ as is sometimes supposed, and that he makes ‘acute remarks on points of principle.’ His psychology remained fragmentary, though affording abundant indications of sagacity. His short statement of the associationist theory influenced his successors. His great achievement, however, is his political philosophy, especially as given in the ‘Leviathan.’ It was the edifice under which he endeavoured afterwards to introduce the foundation of philosophy, doubtless congenial, but not the real groundwork of his doctrine. Like all the great thinkers of his time, he had been profoundly impressed by the evils caused by the sectarian animosities of the time. His remedy was the entire subordination of the ecclesiastical to the secular authority—a theory which made the religion of a state dependent upon its secular sovereign, and therefore not derivable either from churches or philosophers, and shocked equally the rationalists and the orthodox. It is disputable how far Hobbes carried his own scepticism. He ostensibly accepted the creed of the national church, but in virtue of obedience to the law. He argues from texts as confidently as a puritan, but, besides twisting them to strange uses, incidentally suggests many of the leading criticisms urged by later rationalists. In support of his absolutism he interprets the doctrine of the social compact (which had been recently expounded by Hooker and Grotius) not as a compact between the sovereign and his subjects, but as between the subjects to obey the sovereign. Virtually he argues that states have been formed as the only alternative to the state of nature, or, on his showing, to anarchy and barbarism. The supremacy and unity of the sovereign power is therefore an expression of the essential condition of civilised life. To this, though with some reserves, he subordinates even the moral law; and his characteristic theory of human selfishness reduces the only sanction to fear of force or each man's hopes of personal advantage. Hobbes loves to display his paradoxes in the most extreme form, and has the force of a sublimely one-sided thinker. The effect is increased by an admirable style, sententious and weighty, terse and lucid in the highest degree, and enlivened by shrewd strokes of wit and humour. In spite of occasional archaisms, the ‘Leviathan’ is a model of vigorous exposition, unsurpassed in the language. Among the prominent assailants not hitherto noticed of Hobbes were Clarendon in his ‘Brief View and Survey of the … Errors … in … “Leviathan”’ 1676, written by 1670; Thomas (afterwards Archbishop) Tenison in the ‘Creed of Mr. Hobbes examined,’ 1670; and John Eachard [q. v.] in two dialogues (1672 and 1673), which went through many editions. More serious philosophical criticisms came from the Cambridge Platonists. Cudworth, whose ‘Intellectual System’ is an elaborate examination of Hobbes's materialism, had already attacked Hobbes's principles in his academical thesis in 1644, and left many manuscripts, one or two of which [see under Cudworth, Ralph] have been published, directed against Hobbes's ethics and doctrine of necessity. Henry More [q. v.] criticised Hobbes's materialism in his ‘Immortality of the Soul,’ 1659. Richard Cumberland (1631–1718) [q. v.], in his ‘De Legibus Naturæ,’ 1672, attacks chiefly Hobbes's theory of selfishness. Samuel Clarke, in his two courses of Boyle lectures (1704–5), also defends immutable morality and free-will against Hobbes. His first purely political assailant was Sir Robert Filmer [q. v.] in 1652; and he is frequently mentioned by Harrington in the ‘Oceana,’ 1656, who, however, respected him, and pays him a very high compliment in the ‘Prerogative of Popular Government’ (Works, 1700, p. 259). Locke has been accused of plagiarising from Hobbes, and there are points of coincidence, although it cannot be doubted that Locke struck out his new way under the influence of Descartes, and owed little to Hobbes. Hobbes's influence is remarkably shown in Spinoza's political treatises. The impression upon Leibniz appears in the ‘Theodicée’ and many of his writings, early and late. His later influence in Germany is described in G. Zart's ‘Einfluss der englischen Philosophie … auf die deutsche Philosophie des 18ten Jahrhunderts.’ In France Diderot expressed enthusiastic admiration for Hobbes in the ‘Encyclopædia,’ and Rousseau's interest in him appears in the early discourse on ‘Inequality and the Contrat Social.’ De Maistre's ‘Du Pape’ is a curious application of Hobbes's logic to an antagonistic conclusion. After being much neglected in England Hobbes's fame was rehabilitated by the utilitarians, who found much that was congenial to them in his unflinching clearness and rationalism, his doctrine of association, his recognition of utility as the aim of social action, and his theory of sovereignty. Their interest was proved by Molesworth's edition of Hobbes's works, which, unfortunately, was not completed by any general survey or biographical investigation.
Hobbes's works are as follows (the letters E. and L. refer to their places in Molesworth's edition of the English and Latin works respectively): 1. ‘Translation of Thucydides,’ 1629, 1634, 1676, &c.; E. viii. and ix. 2. ‘De Mirabilibus Pecci,’ 1636? (n. d.), 1666, 1675, 1678; L. v. 321–40. ‘A Latin Poem on the Peak,’ an English translation, by ‘A Person of Quality,’ was added to the edition of 1678. 3. ‘Objectiones ad Cartesii Meditationes’ (placed third in the sets published in the ‘Meditations’), L. v. 249–74. Ib. 275–307, gives the correspondence upon them with Descartes and Mersenne, 1641. 4. ‘De Cive,’ Paris, 1642; Amsterdam (as ‘Elementa Philosophiæ de Cive’), 1647, 1650, 1660, 1669, in English, 1651; two first parts, translated by Du Verdus, Paris, 1660, as ‘Eléments de la politique de M. Hobbes;’ L. 133–432, E. ii. 5. Part of preface to Mersenne's ‘Ballistica,’ 1644; L. v. 309–18. 6. ‘Tractatus Opticus’ in Mersenne's ‘Cogitata Physico-Mathematica,’ 1644, L. v. 215–48. 7. ‘Human Nature, or the Fundamental Elements of Policy,’ 1650, E. iv. 1–76. 8. ‘De Corpore Politico,’ 1650, E. iv. 177–228 (Nos. 7 and 8 are the original unpublished treatise of 1640; the first part of No. 8 being removed to it from the last part of No. 7. The prefatory epistle, dated 9 May 1640, is prefixed to No. 7. The original treatise, called ‘The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic,’ was republished in 1889 by Dr. Ferdinand Tönnies, after a careful collation of six manuscripts, resulting in many corrections). 9. Epistle to D'Avenant on Gondibert, 1651, E. iv. 441–58. 10. ‘Leviathan; or the Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil,’ 1651. A Latin version of the ‘Leviathan,’ partly modified, and with three apologetic dialogues, in place of the old ‘Review and Conclusion,’ was prepared by Hobbes for the edition of his works published at Amsterdam in 1668; E. iii. and L. iii., the last from the 1668 edition. The ‘Leviathan’ was also reprinted in 1680, and recently at Oxford by J. Thornton, in 1881 and again in 1885, as a volume in Morley's ‘Universal Library.’ 11. ‘Of Liberty and Necessity,’ 1654 (surreptitious), E. iv. 229–78. 12. ‘Elementorum Philosophiæ sectio prima. De Corpore,’ 1655, L. i. An English translation (E. i.), corrected by Hobbes, appeared in 1656, with ‘Six Lessons’ to the Savilian professors of astronomy and geometry appended (E. vii. 181–356), in answer to Ward's ‘In T. H. Philosophiam Exercitatio Philosophica,’ and Wallis's ‘Elenchus Geometriæ Hobbianæ.’ (answered by Wallis's ‘Due Corrections for Mr. Hobbes’). 13. ‘Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity, and Chance,’ in reply to Bramhall's ‘Defence of the true Liberty of Human Actions,’ &c.; 1656, E. v. 14. ‘'Στίγμαι Ἀγεωμετρίας Ἀγροικίας Ἀντιπολιτείας Ἀμαθείας, or Marks of the Absurd Geometry, Rural Language, Scottish Church Politics, and Barbarisms of John Wallis,’ E. vii. 357–428 (including letter from Henry Stubbe), 1657. Wallis replied in ‘Hobbiani puncti Dispunctio.’ 15. ‘Elementorum Philosophiæ, sectio secunda de Homine’ (partly from an unpublished manuscript now in Harl. MS. 3360; see Robertson, p. 59 n.), 1658, L. ii. 1–132. 16. ‘Examinatio et emendatio Mathematicæ Hodiernæ, qualis explicatur in libris Johannis Wallisii … distributa in sex dialogos,’ 1660, L. iv. 1–232. 17. ‘Dialogus Physicus de Natura Aeris’ (with a duplication of the cube, previously printed anonymously at Paris), 1661, L. iv. 233–96. Answered by Boyle in ‘Examen of Mr. Hobbes’ and ‘Dissertation on Vacuum against Mr. Hobbes,’ and by Wallis in ‘Hobbius Heauton-timorumenos.’ 18. ‘Problemata Physica,’ 1662, L. iv. 297–384. An English version, ‘Seven Philosophical Problems,’ was presented to the king at the same time, but not published till 1682, E. vii. 1–68. 19. ‘Considerations upon the Reputation, Loyalty, Manners, and Religion of Thos. Hobbes,’ 1662, E. iv. 409–40 (in answer to Wallis's ‘Hobbius Heauton-timorumenos’). 20. ‘De Principiis et Ratiocinatione Geometrarum,’ L. iv. 385–484, 1666. 21. ‘Quadratura Circuli; Cubatio Sphæræ; Duplicatio Cubi,’ 1669. 22. ‘Rosetum Geometricum,’ L. v. 1–88, 1671. 23. ‘Three Papers presented to the Royal Society against Dr. Wallis, with Considerations on Dr. Wallis's Answer to them,’ E. vii. 429–38, 1671. 24. ‘Lux Mathematica: excussa Collisionibus Johannis Wallisii et Thomæ Hobbesii,’ L. v. 89–150, 1672. 25. ‘Principia et Problemata aliquot Geometrica, ante desperata nunc breviter explicata,’ L. v. 151–214, 1674. 26. ‘Odyssey,’ translated into English verse, 1674, and with the ‘Iliad,’ 1675, 1677, 1686, E. xi. 27. ‘Decameron Physiologicum,’ 1678, E. vii. 69–180. 28. ‘Behemoth; History of the Causes of the Civil Wars of England;’ finished about 1668, suppressed by the king's desire, surreptitiously published in 1679, and authoritatively in 1681, E. vi. 161–416. An edition by Dr. F. Tönnies, from the original at St. John's College, Oxford, appeared in 1889, under the old title, ‘Behemoth, or the Long Parliament.’ 29. ‘Vita, carmine expressa,’ 1679, 1681, L. i. lxxxi–xcix. 30. ‘Historical Narrative concerning Heresy,’ E. iv. 385–408 (written about 1668), 1680. 31. ‘T. H. Malmesb. Vita,’ L. i. xiii–xxi; written by himself or dictated to T. Rymer; published with the last and ‘Vitæ Hobbianæ Auctarium’ (by Richard Blackburne [q. v.]), in 1681. 32. ‘Dialogue between a Philosopher and a Student of the Common Law of England,’ E. vi. 1–160, 1681. 33. ‘An Answer to a Book published by Dr. Bramhall … called “The Catching of the Leviathan,”’ E. iv. 279–384 (written about 1668), 1682. 34. ‘Historia Ecclesiastica, Carmine Elegiaco concinnata,’ with anonymous preface by T. Rymer, 1688. A ‘Whole Art of Rhetoric,’ vi. 419–510, corresponds to a free version of Aristotle's ‘Rhetoric,’ dictated to his pupil about 1633. The boy's book is in the ‘Hardwick Papers’ (Robertson, p. 29 n.) A letter to E. Howard, prefixed to the ‘English Princes,’ 1669, is in E. v. 458–60. Bishop Laney wrote a tract about Hobbes's views of free-will in 1672, but an answer by Hobbes, mentioned in the ‘Vitæ Auctarium,’ is not discoverable (Robertson, p. 202). ‘Hobbes's Tripos,’ 1684, contains Nos. 7 and 8, and the ‘Liberty and Necessity’ (No. 11). A collection called ‘T. H. M. opera Philosophica, quæ Latine scripsit omnia,’ was published by Blaeu at Amsterdam in 1668, Hobbes being forbidden to publish them at home. It included the amended ‘Leviathan’ (see above), the three systematic treatises, and reprints of mathematical pieces from 1660. The ‘Moral and Political Works of T. H. of Malmesbury’ were published in 1750, with life by John Campbell (1708–1775) [q. v.] from the ‘Biographia Britannica.’ The ‘Human Nature’ and ‘Liberty and Necessity’ were republished in 1812, with life by Philip Mallet. The standard edition is Sir W. Molesworth's, 1839–45, the Latin works in 5, and the English in 11 vols. 8vo.
[The admirable monograph by Professor G. C. Robertson in Blackwood's Philosophical Classics, 1886, collects all the information, including that contained in the Hobbes MSS. at Hardwick, belonging to the Duke of Devonshire, and gives a very full and concise criticism of Hobbes's writings. A special study of Hobbes, has been made by Dr. F. Tönnies, who has published (from the originals in the National Library at Paris) seventeen letters between Hobbes and Sorbière in the Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, iii. 58–71, 192–232, reproduced (with trifling omissions) in Mind, xv. 440. See also Sir Leslie Stephen's monograph in Men of Letters series, 1903. Original authorities are three lives prefixed to the Latin works in Molesworth's edition, first published in 1681, by R[ichard] B[lackburne], M.D. The first is by Hobbes himself, or dictated by him to Rymer; the second, Vitæ Hobbianæ Auctarium, with lists of works, friends, and opponents, was written by Blackburne from the notes of his friend Aubrey; the third, T. H. Malmesb. vita carmine expressa, was written by Hobbes in Latin at the age of eighty-four (Bayle's letter to Coste, 8 April 1704, in Œuvres Diverses, 1711, iv. 841). The life by Aubrey was first published in 1813, in Letters and Lives of Eminent Men, ii. 592–637. See also Wood's Athenæ (Bliss); White Kennett's Lives of the Cavendishes, 1708, pp. 108–16; Clarendon's Brief View and Survey … of the Leviathan, 1676; Boyle's Works, v. 533; Sorbière's Voyage en Angleterre, 1664, pp. 65, 66, 95–100. The lives by Campbell and Mallet are mentioned above. Two articles upon Hobbes are in D'Israeli's Quarrels of Authors. See also Masson's Life of Milton, vi. 279–91. In Bayle's Dictionary is an interesting article.]