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1893 text

“Leviathan: or the matter, forme and power of a Commonwealth ecclesiasticall and civill,” by Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, first published in 1651. It was reprinted in 1680, with its old date. Hobbes’s complete works, English and Latin, were published by Sir William Molesworth in sixteen volumes 8vo. between 1839 and 1845.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

7 Annotations

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Leviathan, or, The matter, forme, and power of a common wealth, ecclesiasticall and civil by Thomas Hobbes ...
Hobbes, Thomas, 1588-1679.
London: Printed for Andrew Crooke, 1651.
Early English Books Online [full text]…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In 1645 in Paris, William Cavendish, Marquess of Newcastle hosted a dinner which turned into a debate which lasted years between Dr. John Bramhall, Bishop of Derry and Thomas Hobbes.

Newcastle had been governor to Charles, Prince of Wales from 1638 to 1641; Newcastle’s friend, Thomas Hobbes had been the Prince's mathematics tutor from 1646 to 1648.
Newcastle was privy counsellor to Charles II in the early 1650s;
and on the eve of the Restoration he wrote a long letter of advice to the king, so we know Newcastle conducted a decades-long campaign to shape Charles II’s ideas.

"Newcastle has traditionally been considered the greatest single influence upon Charles II’s personality." -- Ronald Hutton, Charles the Second: King of England, Scotland and Ireland (Oxford: Clarendon, 1989), 2.

During the Hobbes-Bramhall "debate", Hobbes insisted in more than one published writings that he was opposed only to Episcopacy jure divino; that is, that he had never had any qualms with Episcopacy, so long as it was by the civil sovereign’s authority (jure civili).

For example, in the dedication of Problemata Physica (1662), an epistle addressed to Charles II, Hobbes claimed that in LEVIATHAN (1651) he had written ‘nihil ... contra episcopatum’ (‘nothing ... against episcopacy’).5
5 Problemata Physica, OL, iv, 302; trans. as ‘Seven Philosophical Problems’ (1682), EW, vii, 5.

However much one would like to credit this claim, there is no denying that Hobbes wrote a letter to William Cavendish, 4th Earl of Devonshire in 1641 in which he condoned the replacement of an Episcopal by a quasi-Presbyterian church organization of lay commissioners.
Twenty years later, had he changed his mind?

Hobbes argued in LEVIATHAN, the fear had often been, and could still be, exploited by clergy to make subjects disobey the civil sovereign.
The civil sovereign might be able to command subjects to disobey the ecclesiastic on pain of imprisonment or death, but the ecclesiastic could command subjects to disobey the civil sovereign on pain of damnation.
This gave the clergy more power over subjects.

By denying the clergy of their divine right, Hobbes was denying them their power of determining damnation.
By reducing clergy civil officials to be like all other officials (e.g., JPs, lords lieutenant), Hobbes deprived himself of the ability to complain that the ‘spiritual’ officers were invading or meddling in the ‘temporal’ sphere.
Hobbes replied this distinction of spiritual–temporal was hocus-pocus, ‘to make men see double’. Lev., xxxix, 316.

From these brief descriptions of some of the issues involved in LEVIATHON and Hobbes' other works, you can see how he would upset the establishment. But Charles II knew the old man, and knew he was a Royalist ... a Royalist who wanted change.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Hobbes wrote a letter to William Cavendish, 4th Earl of Devonshire in 1641 ... should be "Hobbes wrote a letter to William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire ..."

I know it's confusing, but there really were two William Cavendishes, one an Earl and the other a Marquess, at the same time, and they both knew Thomas Hobbes.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Thomas Hobbes (1588 -1679) -- quotes from his writings:

"The Papacy is not other than the Ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof."

‘Anxiety for the future time, disposeth men to enquire into the causes of things.’

“… they that are discontented under monarchy, call it tyranny; and they that are displeased with aristocracy, call it oligarchy; so also, they which find themselves grieved under a democracy, call it anarchy, which signifies the want of government; and yet I think no man believes, that want of government, is any new kind of government.”

"Riches, knowledge and honor are but several sorts of power."

"God put me on this Earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I'm so far behind that I'll never die."

"No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

“I obtained two absolutely certain postulates of human nature, one, the postulate of human greed by which each man insists upon his own private use of common property; the other, the postulate of natural reason, by which each man strives to avoid violent death.”

“Hell is truth seen too late."

“Every man ought to endeavor peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it, and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war.”

“That a man be willing, when others are so too, as far-forth as for peace and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things, and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself.”

“… there is scarce a commonwealth in the world whose beginnings can in conscience be justified.”

“For what is it to divide the power of a commonwealth, but to dissolve it; for powers divided mutually destroy each other?”

"The universe is corporeal; all that is real is material, and what is not material is not real."

“The condition of man ... is a condition of war of everyone against everyone”

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

“No king can be rich nor glorious nor secure, whose subjects are poor or contemptible or too weak through want.”

“What grieves and discontents the human spirit more than anything else is poverty; or want of the essentials for the preservation of life and dignity.”

“During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is every man against every man.”

“Force, and fraud, are in war the two cardinal virtues.”

"For it can never be that war shall preserve life, and peace destroy it."

“When all the world is overcharged with inhabitants, then the last remedy of all is war, which provideth for every man, by victory or death.”

“... it is one thing to desire, another to be in capacity fit for what we desire.”

“If men are naturally in a state of war, why do they always carry arms and why do they have keys to lock their doors?”

“A man's conscience and his judgment are the same thing, and, as the judgment, so also the conscience may be erroneous.”

“Covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all.”

“To this war of every man against every man, this also in consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice.”

“What is the heart but a spring, and the nerves but so many strings, and the joints but so many wheels, giving motion to the whole body?”

“It's not the pace of life I mind. It's the sudden stop at the end.”

“I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.”

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • Sep