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By Thomas Hobbes


Printed by J.C. for R. Royston, at the Angel in Ivie-Lane.


To the Right Honourable, William, Earle of Devonshire,

My most honoured Lord

May it please your Lordship,

It was the speech of the Roman people (to whom the name of King had been render'd odious, as well

by the tyrannie of the Tarquins, as by the Genius and Decretals of that City) 'Twas the speech I say of

the publick, however pronounced from a private mouth, (if yet Cato the Censor were no more than

such) That all Kings are to be reckon'd amongst ravenous Beasts. But what a Beast of prey was the

Roman people, whilst with its conquering Eagles it erected its proud Trophees so far and wide over the

world, bringing the Africans, the Asiaticks, the Macedonians, and the Achaeans, with many other

despoyled Nations, into a specious bondage, with the pretence of preferring them to be Denizens of

Rome? So that if Cato's saying were a wise one, 'twas every whit as wise that of Pontius Telesinus;

who flying about with open mouth through all the Companies of his Army, (in that famous encounter

which he had with Sylla) cryed out, That Rome her selfe, as well as Sylla, was to be raz'd; for that there

would alwayes be Wolves and Depraedatours of their Liberty, unlesse the Forrest that lodg'd them

were grubb'd up by the roots. To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is a kind of God; and that Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe. The first is true, if we compare Citizens amongst themselves; and the second, if we compare Cities. In the one, there's some analogie of similitude with

the Deity, to wit, Justice and Charity, the twin-sisters of peace: But in the other, Good men must defend

themselves by taking to them for a Sanctuary the two daughters of War, Deceipt and Violence: that is

in plaine termes a meer brutall Rapacity: which although men object to one another as a reproach, by

an inbred custome which they have of beholding their own actions in the persons of other men,

wherein, as in a Mirroir, all things on the left side appeare to be on the right, & all things on the right side to be as plainly on the left; yet the naturall right of preservation which we all receive from the

uncontroulable Dictates of Necessity, will not admit it to be a Vice, though it confesse it to be an

Unhappinesse. Now that with Cato himselfe, (a person of so great a renowne for wisdome) Animosity

should so prevaile instead of Judgement, and partiality instead of Reason, that the very same thing

which he thought equall in his popular State, he should censure as unjust in a Monarchical, other men

perhaps may have leisure to admire. But I have been long since of this opinion, That there was never

yet any more than vulgar prudence that had the luck of being acceptable to the Giddy people; but either

it hath not been understood, or else having been so, hath been levell'd and cryed downe. The more

eminent Actions and Apothegms both of the Greeks and Romans have been indebted for their

Eulogies not so much to the Reason, as to the Greatnesse of them, and very many times to that

prosperous usurpation (with which our Histories doe so mutually upbraid each other) which as a

conquering Torrent carryes all before it, as wel publick Agents as publick Actions, in the streame of

Time. Wisdome properly so call'd is nothing else but this, The perfect knowledge of the Truth in all

matters whatsoever. Which being derived from the Registers and Records of Things, and that as 'twere through the Conduit of certain definite Appellations, cannot possibly be the work of a suddaine

Acutenesse, but of a well-ballanc'd Reason, which by the Compendium of a word, we call philosophy.

For by this it is, that a way is open'd to us, in which we travell from the contemplation of particular

things to the Inference or result of universall Actions. Now look how many sorts of things there are

which properly fall within the cognizance of humane reason, into so many branches does the tree of

philosophy divide it selfe. And from the diversity of the matter about which they are conversant, there

hath been given to those branches a diversity of Names too: For treating of Figures, tis call'd

Geometry; of motion, physick; of naturall right, Moralls; put all together, and they make up philosophy.

Just as the British, the Atlantick, and the Indian Seas, being diversly christen'd from the diversity of

their shoares, doe notwithstanding all together make up The Ocean. And truly the Geometricians have

very admirably perform'd their part. For whatsoever assistance doth accrew to the life of man, whether

from the observation of the Heavens, or from the description of the Earth, from the notation of Times, or

from the remotest Experiments of Navigation; Finally, whatsoever things they are in which this present

Age doth differ from the rude simplenesse of Antiquity, we must acknowledge to be a debt which we

owe meerly to Geometry. If the Morall philosophers had as happily discharg'd their duty, I know not

what could have been added by humane Industry to the completion of that happinesse, which is

consistent with humane life. For were the nature of humane Actions as distinctly knowne, as the nature

of Quantity in Geometricall Figures, the strength of Avarice and Ambition, which is sustained by the erroneous opinions of the Vulgar, as touching the nature of Right and Wrong, would presently faint and languish; And Mankinde should enjoy such an Immortall peace, that (unlesse it were for habitation, on

supposition that the Earth should grow too narrow for her Inhabitants) there would hardly be left any

pretence for war. But now on the contrary, that neither the Sword nor the pen should be allowed any

Cessation; That the knowledge of the Law of Nature should lose its growth, not advancing a whit

beyond its antient stature; that there should still be such siding with the severall factions of

philosophers, that the very same Action should bee decryed by some, and as much elevated by others;

that the very same man should at severall times embrace his severall opinions, and esteem his own

Actions farre otherwise in himselfe than he does in others; These I say are so many signes, so many

manifest Arguments, that what hath hitherto been written by Morall philosophers, hath not made any

progress in the knowledge of the Truth; but yet have took with the world, not so much by giving any

light to the understanding, as entertainment to the Affections, whilest by the successefull

Rhetorications of their speech they have confirmed them in their rashly received opinions. So that this

part of philosophy hath suffered the same destiny with the publick Wayes, which lye open to all

passengers to traverse up and down or the same lot with high wayes and open streets; Some for

divertisement, and some for businesse; so that what with the Impertinencies of some, and the

Altercations of others, those wayes have never a seeds time, and therefore yield never a harvest. The

onely reason of which unluckines should seem to be this; That amongst all the writers of that part of

philosophy, there is not one that hath used an idoneous principle of Tractation: For we may not, as in a

Circle, begin the handling of a Science from what point we please. There is a certain Clue of Reason,

whose beginning is in the dark, but by the benefit of whose Conduct, wee are led as 'twere by the hand

into the clearest light, so that the principle of Tractation is to be taken from that Darknesse, and then

the light to be carried thither for the irradiating its doubts. As often therefore as any writer, doth either

weakly forsake that Clue, or wilfully cut it asunder, he describes the Footsteps, not of his progresse in

Science, but of his wandrings from it. And upon this it was, that when I applyed my Thoughts to the

Investigation of Naturall Justice, I was presently advertised from the very word Justice, (wich signifies a steady Will of giving every one his Owne) that my first enquiry was to be, from whence it proceeded,

that any man should call any thing rather his Owne, than another man's. And when I found that this proceeded not from Nature, but Consent, (for what Nature at first laid forth in common, men did

afterwards distribute into severall Impropriations, I was conducted from thence to another Inquiry,

namely to what end, and upon what Impulsives, when all was equally every mans in common, men did

rather think it fitting, that every man should have his Inclosure; And I found the reason was, that from a

Community of Goods, there must needs arise Contention whose enjoyment should be greatest, and

from that Contention all kind of Calamities must unavoydably ensue, which by the instinct of Nature,

every man is taught to shun. Having therefore thus arrived at two maximes of humane Nature, the one

arising from the concupiscible part, which desires to appropriate to it selfe the use of those things in which all others have a joynt interest, the other proceeding from the rationall, which teaches every man to fly a contre-naturall Dissolution, as the greatest mischiefe that can arrive to Nature; Which principles

being laid down, I seem from them to have demonstrated by a most evident connexion, in this little

work of mine, first the absolute necessity of Leagues and Contracts, and thence the rudiments both of

morall and of civill prudence. That Appendage which is added concerning the Regiment of God, hath

been done with this intent, that the Dictates of God Almighty in the Law of nature, might not seem

repugnant to the written Law, revealed to us in his word. I have also been very wary in the whole tenour

of my discourse, not to meddle with the civill Lawes of any particular nation whatsoever, That is to say,

I have avoyded coming a shore, which those Times have so infested both with shelves, and Tempests.

At what expence of time and industry I have beene in this scrutiny after Truth, I am not ignorant; but to

what purpose, I know not. For being partiall Judges of our selves, we lay a partiall estimate upon our

own productions. I therefore offer up this Book to your Lordships, not favour, but censure first, as

having found by many experiments, that it is not the credit of the Author, nor the newnesse of the work,

nor yet the ornament of the style, but only the weight of Reason, which recommends any Opinion to

your Lordships Favour and Approbation. If it fortune to please, that is to say, if it be sound, if it be

usefull, if it be not vulgar; I humbly offer it to your Lordship as both my Glory, and my protection; But if

in any thing I have erred, your Lordship will yet accept it as a Testimony of my Gratitude, for that the

means of study which I enjoyed by your Lordships Goodnesse, I have employed to the procurement of

your Lordships Favour. The God of Heaven crown your Lordship with length of Dayes in this earthly

Station, and in the heavenly Jerusalem, with a crown of Glory.

Your Honours most humble,

and most devoted Servant,

Tho. Hobbs.

The Author's Preface to the Reader

Reader, I promise thee here such things, which ordinarily promised, doe seeme to challenge the

greatest attention, and I lay them here before thine eyes, whether thou regard the dignity or profit of the

matter treated of, or the right method of handling it, or the honest motive, and good advice to undertake

it, or lastly the moderation of the Authour. In this Book thou shalt finde briefly described the duties of

men, First as Men, then as Subjects, Lastly, as Christians; under which duties are contained not only

the elements of the Lawes of Nature, and of Nations, together with the true originall, and power of

Justice, but also the very essence of Christian Religion it selfe, so farre forth as the measure of this my

purpose could well bear it.

Which kinde of doctrine (excepting what relates to Christian Religion) the most antient Sages did judge

fittest to be delivered to posterity, either curiously adorned with Verse, or clouded with Allegories, as a

most beautifull and hallowed mystery of Royall authority; lest by the disputations of private men, it

might be defiled; Other philosophers in the mean time, to the advantage of mankinde, did contemplate

the faces, and motions of things; others, without disadvantage, their natures, and causes. But in after

times, Socrates is said to have been the first, who truly loved this civill Science, although hitherto not

throughly understood, yet glimmering forth as through a cloud in the government of the Common

weale, and that he set so great a value on this, that utterly abandoning, and despising all other parts of

philosophy, he wholly embraced this, as judging it onely worthy the labour of his minde. After him

comes Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and other philosophers, as well Greeke, as Latine. And now at length all

men of all Nations, not only philosophers, but even the vulgar, have, and doe still deale with this as a

matter of ease, exposed and prostitute to every Mother-wit, and to be attained without any great care or

study. And which makes mainly for its dignity, those who suppose themselves to have it, or are in such

employment, as they ought to have it, doe so wonderfully please themselves in its Idaea, as they easily brooke the followers of other arts to be esteemed and styled ingenuous, learned, skilfull, what you will;

except prudent: for this Name, in regard of civill knowledge, they presume to be due to themselves

onely. Whether therefore the worth of arts is to be weighed by the worthinesse of the persons who

entertain them, or by the number of those who have written of them, or by the judgement of the wisest;

certainly this must carry it, which so neerly relates to princes, and others engaged in the government of

mankinde, in whose adulterate Species also the most part of men doe delight themselves, and in which

the most excellent wits of philosophers have been conversant. The benefit of it when rightly delivered

(that is) when derived from true principles by evident connexion, we shall then best discerne, when we

shall but well have considered the mischiefes that have befallen mankinde in its counterfeit and babling

form; for in such matters as are speculated for the exercise of our wits, if any errour escape us, it is

without hurt; neither is there any losse, but of time onely: but in those things which every man ought to

meditate for the steerage of his life, it necessarily happens, that not onely from errours, but even from

ignorance it selfe, there arise offences, contentions, nay even slaughter it selfe. Look now, how great a

prejudice these are, such, and so great is the benefit arising from this doctrine of morality, truly

declared. How many Kings (and those good men too) hath this one errour, That a Tyrant King might

lawfully be put to death, been the slaughter of? How many throats hath this false position cut, That a

prince for some causes may by some certain men be deposed? And what blood-shed hath not this

erroneous doctrine caused, That Kings are not superiours to, but administrators for the multitude?

Lastly, how many rebellions hath this opinion been the cause of which teacheth that the knowledge

whether the commands of Kings be just or unjust, belongs to private men, and that before they yeeld

obedience, they not only may, but ought to dispute them? Besides, in the morall philosophy now

commonly received, there are many things no lesse dangerous than those, which it matters not now to

recite. I suppose those antients foresaw this, who rather chose to have the Science of justice wrapt up

in fables, than openly exposed to disputations: for before such questions began to be moved, princes

did not sue for, but already exercised the supreme power. They kept their Empire entire, not by

arguments, but by punishing the wicked, and protecting the good; likewise Subjects did not measure

what was just by the sayings and judgements of private men, but by the Lawes of the Realme; nor were

they kept in peace by disputations, but by power and authority: yea they reverenced the supreme

power, whether residing in one man or in a councell, as a certain visible divinity; therefore they little

used as in our dayes, to joyn themselves with ambitious, and hellish spirits, to the utter ruine of their

State; for they could not entertain so strange a phansie as not to desire the preservation of that by

which they were preserved; in truth, the simplicity of those times was not yet capable of so learned a

piece of folly. Wherefore it was peace, and a golden age, which ended not before that Saturn being

expelled, it was taught lawfull to take up arms against Kings. This I say, the Antients not only

themselves saw, but in one of their fables, they seem very aptly to have signified it to us; for they say,

that when Ixion was invited by Jupiter to a banquet, he fell in love, and began to court Juno her selfe;

offering to embrace her, he clasp't a clowd, from whence the Centaures proceeded, by nature halfe

men, halfe horses, a fierce, a fighting, and unquiet generation; which changing the names only, is as

much as if they should have said, that private men being called to Counsels of State desired to

prostitute justice, the onely sister and wife of the supreme, to their own judgements, and

apprehensions, but embracing a false and empty shadow instead of it, they have begotten those

hermaphrodite opinions of morall philosophers, partly right and comely, partly brutall and wilde, the

causes of all contentions, and blood-sheds. Since therefore such opinions are daily seen to arise, if any

man now shall dispell those clowds, and by most firm reasons demonstrate that there are no

authenticall doctrines concerning right and wrong, good and evill, besides the constituted Lawes in

each Realme, and government; and that the question whether any future action will prove just or

unjust, good or ill, is to be demanded of none, but those to whom the supreme hath committed the

interpretation of his Lawes; surely he will not only shew us the high way to peace, but will also teach us

how to avoyd the close, darke, and dangerous by-paths of faction and sedition, than which I know not

what can be thought more profitable.

Concerning my Method, I thought it not sufficient to use a plain and evident style in what I had to

deliver, except I took my begining from the very matter of civill government, and thence proceeded to

its generation, and form, and the first beginning of justice; for every thing is best understood by its

constitutive causes; for as in a watch, or some such small engine, the matter, figure, and motion of the

wheeles, cannot well be known, except it be taken in sunder, and viewed in parts; so to make a more

curious search into the rights of States, and duties of Subjects, it is necessary, (I say not to take them

in sunder, but yet that) they be so considered, as if they were dissolved, (i.e.) that wee rightly

understand what the quality of humane nature is, in what matters it is, in what not fit to make up a civill

government, and how men must be agreed among themselves, that intend to grow up into a well-

grounded State. Having therefore followed this kind of Method; In the first place I set down for a

principle by experience known to all men, and denied by none, to wit, that the dispositions of men are

naturally such, that except they be restrained through feare of some coercive power, every man will

distrust and dread each other, and as by naturall right he may, so by necessity he will be forced to

make use of the strength hee hath, toward the preservation of himself You will object perhaps, that

there are some who deny this; truly so it happens, that very many do deny it. But shall I therefore seem

to fight against my self because I affirm that the same men confesse, and deny the same thing? In truth

I do not, but they do, whose actions disavow what their discourses approve of. We see all countries

though they be at peace with their neighbours, yet guarding their Frontiers with armed men, their

Townes with Walls and ports, and keeping constant watches. To what purpose is all this, if there be no

feare of the neighbouring power? Wee see even in well-governed States, where there are lawes and

punishments appointed for offendors, yet particular men travell not without their Sword by their sides,

for their defences, neither sleep they without shutting not only their doores against their fellow Subjects,

but also their Trunks and Coffers for feare of domestiques. Can men give a clearer testimony of the

distrust they have each of other, and all, of all? How since they doe thus, and even Countreyes as well

as men, they publiquely professe their mutuall feare and diffidence; But in disputing they deny it, thats

as much as to say, that out of a desire they have to contradict others, they gainsay themselves. Some

object that this principle being admitted, it would needs follow, not onely that all men were wicked

(which perhaps though it seeme hard, yet we must yeeld to, since it is so clearly declar'd by holy writ)

but also wicked by nature (which cannot be granted without impiety). But this, that men are evill by

nature, followes not from this principle; for though the wicked were fewer than the righteous, yet

because we cannot distinguish them, there is a necessity of suspecting, heeding, anticipating,

subjugating, selfe-defending, ever incident to the most honest, and fairest condition'd; much lesse do's

it follow that those who are wicked are so by nature, for though from nature, that is from their first birth,

as they are meerly sensible Creatures, they have this disposition, that immediately as much as in them

lies, they desire and doe whatsoever is best pleasing to them, that either through feare they fly from, or

through hardnesse repell those dangers which approach them, yet are they not for this reason to be

accounted wicked; for the affections of the minde which arise onely from the lower parts of the soule

are not wicked themselves, but the actions thence proceeding may be so sometimes, as when they are

either offensive, or against duty. Unlesse you give Children all they aske for, they are peevish, and cry,

I and strike their parents sometimes, and all this they have from nature, yet are they free from guilt,

neither may we properly call them wicked; first, because they cannot hurt; next, because wanting the

free use of reason they are exempted from all duty; these when they come to riper yeares having

acquired power whereby they may doe hurt, if they shall continue to doe the same things, then truly

they both begin to be, and are properly accounted wicked; In so much as a wicked man is almost the

same thing with a childe growne strong and sturdy, or a man of a childish disposition; and malice the

same with a defect of reason in that age, when nature ought to be better governed through good

education and experience. Unlesse therefore we will say that men are naturally evill, because they

receive not their education and use of reason from nature, we must needs acknowledge that men may

derive desire, feare, anger, and other passions from nature, and yet not impute the evill effects of those

unto nature. The foundation therefore which I have laid standing firme, I demonstrate in the first place,

that the state of men without civill society (which state we may properly call the state of nature) is

nothing else but a meere warre of all against all; and in that warre all men have equall right unto all

things; Next, that all men as soone as they arrive to understanding of this hatefull condition, doe desire

(even nature it selfe compelling them) to be freed from this misery. But that this cannot be done except

by compact, they all quitt that right which they have unto all things. Furthermore I declare, and confirme

what the nature of compacts is; how and by what meanes the right of one might be transfer'd unto

another to make their compacts valid; also what rights, and to whom they must necessarily be granted

for the establishing of peace, I meane what those dictates of reason are, which may properly be term'd

the Lawes of nature; and all these are contain'd in that part of this booke which I entitle Liberty.

These grounds thus layd, I shew farther what civill government, and the supreme power in it, and the

divers kinds of it are; by what meanes it becomes so, & what rights particular men, who intend to

constitute this civill government, must so necessarily transfer from themselves on the supreme power,

whether it be one man, or an assembly of men, that except they doe so it will evidently appeare to be

no civill government, but the rights which all men have to all things, that is the rights of warre will still

remaine. Next, I distinguish the divers kindes of it, to wit, Monarchie, Aristocratie, Democratie, and

paternall Dominion, and that of Masters over their Servants; I declare how they are constituted, and I

compare their severall conveniences and inconveniences each with other. Furthermore, I unfold what

those things are which destroy it, and what his or their duty is who rule in chiefe. Last of all, I explicate

the natures of the Law, and of sinne, and I distinguish Law from Counsell, from compact, from that

which I call Right; all which I comprehend under the title of Dominion.

In the last part of it which is entituled Religion, lest that right which by strong reason I had confirm'd the Soveraigne powers in the preceding discourse have over their Subjects, might seem to be repugnant to

the sacred Scriptures, I shew in the first place how it repugns not the Divine right, for as much as God

overrules all rulers by nature, (i.e.) by the Dictates of naturall reason. In the second, for as much as

God himselfe had a peculiar dominion over the Jewes by vertue of that antient Covenant of

Circumcision. In the third, because God doth now rule over us Christians by vertue of our Covenant of

Baptisme; and therefore the authority of Rulers in chiefe, or of civill government, is not at all, we see,

contrary to Religion.

In the last place I declare what duties are necessarily requir'd from us, to enter into the Kingdome of

Heaven; and of those I plainly demonstrate, and conclude out of evident testimonies of holy writ,

according to the interpretation made by all, that the obedience which I have affirm'd to be due from

particular Christian Subjects unto their Christian princes cannot possibly in the least sort be repugnant

unto Christian Religion.

You have seene my Method, receive now the reason which mov'd me to write this; I was studying

philosophie for my minde sake, and I had gathered together its first Elements in all kinds, and having

digested them into three Sections by degrees, I thought to have written them so as in the first I would

have treated of a body, and its generall properties; in the second of man and his speciall faculties, and affections; in the third, of civill government and the duties of Subjects: therefore the first Section would have contained the first philosophie, and certaine elements of physick; in it we would have considered

the reasons of Time, Place, Cause, Power, Relation, Proportion, Quantity, Figure, and motion. In the second we would have beene conversant about imagination, Memory, intellect, ratiocination, appetite,

will, good and Evill, honest and dishonest, and the like. What this last Section handles, I have now already shewed you. Whilest I contrive, order, pensively and slowly compose these matters, for I onely

doe reason, I dispute not, it so happen'd in the interim, that my Country some few yeares before the

civill warres did rage, was boyling hot with questions concerning the rights of Dominion, and the

obedience due from Subjects, the true forerunners of an approaching war. And was the cause which

(all those other matters deferr'd) ripen'd, and pluckt from me this third part. Therefore it happens that

what was last in order, is yet come forth first in time, and the rather, because I saw that grounded on its

owne principles sufficiently knowne by experience it would not stand in need of the former Sections. I

have not yet made it out of a desire of praise (although if I had, I might have defended my selfe with

this faire excuse, that very few doe things laudably, who are not affected with commendation) but for

your sakes Readers, who I perswaded my selfe, when you should rightly apprehend and throughly

understand this Doctrine I here present you with, would rather chuse to brooke with patience some

inconveniences under government (because humane affairs cannot possibly be without some) than

selfe opiniatedly disturb the quiet of the publique; That, weighing the justice of those things you are

about, not by the perswasion and advise of private men, but by the Lawes of the Realme, you will no

longer suffer ambitious men through the streames of your blood to wade to their owne power; That you

will esteeme it better to enjoy your selves in the present state though perhaps not the best, than by

waging warre, indeavour to procure a reformation for other men in another age, your selves in the

meane while either kill'd, or consumed with age; Farthermore, for those who will not acknowledge

themselves subject to the civill Magistrate, and will be exempt from all publique burthens, and yet will

live under his Jurisdiction, and look for protection from the violence and injuries of others, that you

would not looke on them as fellow Subjects, but esteeme them for enemies, and spies, and that yee

rashly admit not for Gods Word all which either openly or privately they shall pretend to bee so. I say

more plainly, if any preacher, Confessor, or Casuist, shal but say that this doctrin is agreeable with

Gods word, namely, That the chief ruler, nay any private man may lawfully be put to death without the

chiefes command, or that Subjects may resist, conspire, or covenant against the supreme power, that

ye by no means beleeve them, but instantly declare their names. He who approves of these reasons,

will also like my intention in writing this book.

Last of al, I have propounded to my self this rule through this whole discourse; First, not to define ought

which concerns the justice of single actions, but leave them to be determined by the laws. Next not to

dispute the laws of any government in special, that is, not to point which are the laws of any country,

but to declare what the laws of all countries are. Thirdly not to seem of opinion, that there is a lesse

proportion of for obedience due to an Aristocraty or Democraty, than a Monarchy; though I have endeavoured by arguments in my tenth Chapter to gain a belief in men, that Monarchy is the most

commodious government (which one thing alone I confesse in this whole book not to be demonstrated,

but only probably stated) yet every where I expresly say, that in all kind of Government whatsoever,

there ought to be a supreme and equall power. Fourthly, not in any wise to dispute the positions of

Divines, except those which strip Subjects of their obedience, and shake the foundations of civill

government. Lastly, lest I might imprudently set forth somewhat of which there would be no need, what

I had thus written, I would not presently expose to publique interest, wherefore I got some few copies

privately disperst among some of my friends, that discrying the opinions of others, if any things

appeared erroneous, hard, or obscure, I might correct, soften, and explain them.

These things I found most bitterly excepted against: that I had made the civill powers too large, but this

by Ecclesiasticall persons; that I had utterly taken away liberty of conscience, but this by Sectaries; that

I had set princes above the civil Laws, but this by Lawyers; wherefore I was not much moved by these

mens reprehensions, (as who in doing this did but do their own business) except it were tye those

knots so much faster.

But for their sakes who have a litle been staggered at the principles themselves, to wit the nature of

men, the authority or right of nature, the nature of compacts and contracts, and the originall of civill

government, because in finding fault they have not so much followed their passions, as their common

sense, I have therefore in some places added some annotations whereby I presumed I might give

some satisfaction to their differing thoughts; Lastly I have endevoured to offend none beside those

whose principles these contradict, and whose tender mindes are lightly offended by every difference of


Wherefore if ye shall meet with some things which have more of sharpnesse, and lesse of certainty

than they ought to have, since they are not so much spoken for the maintenance of parties, as the

establishment of peace, and by one whose just grief for the present calamities of his country, may very

charitably be allowed some liberty, it is his only request to ye Readers, ye will deign to receive them

with an equall mind.

Philosophicall Elements of a true Citizen.


Chapter I.

Of the state of men without Civill Society

I. The faculties of Humane nature may be reduc'd unto four kinds; Bodily strength, Experience,

Reason, Passion. Taking the beginning of this following Doctrine from these, we will declare in the first

place what manner of inclinations men who are endued with these faculties bare towards each other,

and whether, and by what faculty, they are born apt for Society, and so preserve themselves against

mutuall violence; then proceeding, we will shew what advice was necessary to be taken for this

businesse, and what are the conditions of Society, or of Humane Peace; that is to say, (changing the

words onely) what are the fundamentall Lawes of Nature.

II. The greatest part of those men who have written ought concerning Commonwealths, either suppose,

or require us, or beg of us to believe, That Man is a Creature born fit 1 for Society: The Greeks call him

Zoon politikon, and on this foundation they so build up the Doctrine of Civill Society, as if for the

preservation of Peace, and the Government of Man-kind there were nothing else necessary, than that

Men should agree to make certaine Covenants and Conditions together, which themselves should then

call Lawes. Which Axiom, though received by most, is yet certainly False, and an Errour proceeding

from our too slight contemplation of Humane Nature; for they who shall more narrowly look into the

Causes for which Men come together, and delight in each others company, shall easily find that this

happens not because naturally it could happen no otherwise, but by Accident: For if by nature one Man

should Love another (that is) as Man, there could no reason be return'd why every Man should not

equally Love every Man, as being equally Man, or why he should rather frequent those whose Society

affords him Honour or Profit. We doe not therefore by nature seek Society for its own sake, but that we

may receive some Honour or Profit from it; these we desire Primarily, that Secondarily: How by what

advice Men doe meet, will be best known by observing those things which they doe when they are met:

For if they meet for Traffique, it's plaine every man regards not his Fellow, but his Businesse; if to

discharge some Office, a certain Market-friendship is begotten, which hath more of Jealousie in it than

True love, and whence Factions sometimes may arise, but Good will never; if for Pleasure, and

Recreation of mind, every man is wont to please himself most with those things which stirre up

laughter, whence he may (according to the nature of that which is Ridiculous) by comparison of another

mans Defects and Infirmities, passe the more currant in his owne opinion; and although this be

sometimes innocent, and without offence; yet it is manifest they are not so much delighted with the

Society, as their own Vain glory. But for the most part, in these kind of meetings, we wound the absent;

their whole life, sayings, actions are examin'd, judg'd, condemn'd; nay, it is very rare, but some present

receive a fling before they part, so as his reason was not ill, who was wont alwayes at parting to goe

out last. And these are indeed the true delights of Society, unto which we are carryed by nature, (i.e.)

by those passions which are incident to all Creatures, untill either by sad experience, or good precepts,

it so fall out (which in many never happens) that the Appetite, of present matters, be dul'd with the

memory of things past, without which, the discourse of most quick and nimble men, on this subject, is

but cold and hungry.

But if it so happen, that being met, they passe their time in relating some Stories, and one of them

begins to tell one which concernes himselfe; instantly every one of the rest most greedily desires to

speak of himself too; if one relate some wonder, the rest will tell you miracles, if they have them, if not,

they'l fein them: Lastly, that I may say somewhat of them who pretend to be wiser than others; if they

meet to talk of Philosophy, look how many men, so many would be esteem'd Masters, or else they not

only love not their fellowes, but even persecute them with hatred: So clear is it by experience to all men

who a little more narrowly consider Humane affaires, that all free congress ariseth either from mutual

poverty, or from vain glory, whence the parties met, endeavour to carry with them either some benefit,

or to leave behind them that same eudokimein, some esteem and honour with those, with whom they

have been conversant: The same is also collected by reason out of the definitions themselves, of Will,

Good, Honour, Profitable. For when we voluntarily contract Society, in all manner of Society we look

after the object of the Will, i.e. that, which every one of those, who gather together, propounds to

himselfe for good; now whatsoever seemes good, is pleasant, and relates either to the senses, or the

mind, but all the mindes pleasure is either Glory, (or to have a good opinion of ones selfe) or referres to

Glory in the end; the rest are Sensuall, or conducing to sensuality, which may be all comprehended

under the word Conveniencies. All Society therefore is either for Gain, or for Glory; (i.e.) not so much for love of our Fellowes, as for love of our Selves: but no society can be great, or lasting, which begins

from Vain Glory; because that Glory is like Honour, if all men have it, no man hath it, for they consist in

comparison and precellence; neither doth the society of others advance any whit the cause of my

glorying in my selfe; for every man must account himself, such as he can make himselfe, without the

help of others. But though the benefits of this life may be much farthered by mutuall help, since yet

those may be better attain'd to by Dominion, than by the society of others: I hope no body will doubt but

that men would much more greedily be carryed by Nature, if all fear were removed, to obtain Dominion,

than to gaine Society. We must therefore resolve, that the Originall of all great, and lasting Societies,

consisted not in the mutuall good will men had towards each other, but in the mutuall fear 2 they had of

each other.

III. The cause of mutuall fear consists partly in the naturall equality of men, partly in their mutuall will of hurting: whence it comes to passe that we can neither expect from others, nor promise to our selves

the least security: For if we look on men fullgrown, and consider how brittle the frame of our humane

body is, (which perishing, all its strength, vigour, and wisdome it selfe perisheth with it) and how easie a

matter it is, even for the weakest man to kill the strongest, there is no reason why any man trusting to

his own strength should conceive himself made by nature above others: they are equalls who can doe

equall things one against the other; but they who can do the greatest things, (namely kill) can doe

equall things. All men therefore among themselves are by nature equall; the inequality we now discern,

hath its spring from the Civill Law.

IV. All men in the State of nature have a desire, and will to hurt, but not proceeding from the same

cause, neither equally to be condemn'd; for one man according to that naturall equality which is among

us, permits as much to others, as he assumes to himself (which is an argument of a temperate man,

and one that rightly values his power); another, supposing himselfe above others, will have a License

to doe what he lists, and challenges Respect, and Honour, as due to him before others, (which is an

Argument of a fiery spirit:) This mans will to hurt ariseth from Vain glory, and the false esteeme he hath

of his owne strength; the other's, from the necessity of defending himselfe, his liberty, and his goods

against this mans violence.

V. Furthermore, since the combate of Wits is the fiercest, the greatest discords which are, must

necessarily arise from this Contention; for in this case it is not only odious to contend against, but also

not to consent; for not to approve of what a man saith is no lesse than tacitely to accuse him of an

Errour in that thing which he speaketh; as in very many things to dissent, is as much as if you

accounted him a fool whom you dissent from; which may appear hence, that there are no Warres so

sharply wag'd as between Sects of the same Religion, and Factions of the same Commonweale, where

the Contestation is Either concerning Doctrines, or Politique Prudence. And since all the pleasure, and

jollity of the mind consists in this; even to get some, with whom comparing, it may find somewhat

wherein to Tryumph, and Vaunt it self; its impossible but men must declare sometimes some mutuall

scorn and contempt either by Laughter, or by Words, or by Gesture, or some signe or other; than which

there is no greater vexation of mind; and than from which there cannot possibly arise a greater desire

to doe hurt.

VI. But the most frequent reason why men desire to hurt each other, ariseth hence, that many men at

the same time have an Appetite to the same thing; which yet very often they can neither enjoy in

common, nor yet divide it; whence it followes that the strongest must have it, and who is strongest must

be decided by the Sword.

VII. Among so many dangers therefore, as the naturall lusts of men do daily threaten each other withall,

to have a care of ones selfe is not a matter so scornfully to be lookt upon, as if so be there had not

been a power and will left in one to have done otherwise; for every man is desirous of what is good for

him, and shuns what is evill, but chiefly the chiefest of naturall evills, which is Death; and this he doth,

by a certain impulsion of nature, no lesse than that whereby a Stone moves downward: It is therefore

neither absurd, nor reprehensible; neither against the dictates of true reason for a man to use all his

endeavours to preserve and defend his Body, and the Members thereof from death and sorrowes; but

that which is not contrary to right reason, that all men account to be done justly, and with right; Neither

by the word Right is any thing else signified, than that liberty which every man hath to make use of his naturall faculties according to right reason: Therefore the first foundation of naturall Right is this, That

every man as much as in him lies endeavour to protect his life and members.

VIII. But because it is in vaine for a man to have a Right to the end, if the Right to the necessary

meanes be deny'd him; it followes, that since every man hath a Right to preserve himself, he must also

be allowed a Right to use all the means, and do all the actions, without which He cannot Preserve


IX. Now whether the means which he is about to use, and the action he is performing, be necessary to

the preservation of his Life, and Members, or not, he Himself, by the right of nature, must be judg; for

say another man, judg that it is contrary to right reason that I should judg of mine own perill: why now,

because he judgeth of what concerns me, by the same reason, because we are equall by nature, will I

judge also of things which doe belong to him; therefore it agrees with right reason (that is) it is the right

of nature that I judge of his opinion, (i.e.) whether it conduce to my preservation, or not.

X. Nature hath given to every one a right to all. That is it was lawfull for every man in the bare state of nature, 3 or before such time as men had engag'd themselves by any Covenants, or Bonds, to doe

what hee would, and against whom he thought fit, and to possesse, use, and enjoy all what he would,

or could get. Now because whatsoever a man would, it therefore seems good to him because he wills

it, and either it really doth, or at least seems to him to contribute toward his preservation, (but we have

already al owed him to be judge in the foregoing Article whether it doth or not, in so much as we are to

hold all for necessary whatsoever he shall esteeme so) and by the 7. Article it appeares that by the

right of Nature those things may be done, and must be had, which necessarily conduce to the

protection of life, and members, it followes, that in the state of nature, To have all, and do all is lawfull

for all. And this is that which is meant by that common saying, Nature hath given all to all, from whence we understand likewise, that in the state of nature, Profit is the measure of Right.

XI. But it was the least benefit for men thus to have a common Right to all things; for the effects of this

Right are the same, almost, as if there had been no Right at all; for although any man might say of

every thing, This is mine, yet could he not enjoy it, by reason of his Neighbour, who having equall

Right, and equall power, would pretend the same thing to be his.

XII. If now to this naturall proclivity of men, to hurt each other, which they derive from their Passions,

but chiefly from a vain esteeme of themselves: You adde, the right of all to all, wherewith one by right

invades, the other by right resists, and whence arise perpetuall jealousies and suspicions on all hands,

and how hard a thing it is to provide against an enemy invading us, with an intention to oppresse, and

ruine, though he come with a small Number, and no great Provision; it cannot be deny'd but that the

naturall state of men, before they entr'd into Society, was a meer War, and that not simply, but a War of

all men, against all men; for what is WAR, but that same time in which the will of contesting by force, is

fully declar'd either by Words, or Deeds? The time remaining, is termed PEACE.

XIII. But it is easily judg'd how disagreeable a thing to the preservation either of Man-kind, or of each

single Man, a perpetuall War is: But it is perpetuall in its own nature, because in regard of the equality

of those that strive, it cannot be ended by Victory; for in this state the Conquerour is subject to so much

danger, as it were to be accounted a Miracle, if any, even the most strong should close up his life with

many years, and old age. They of America are Examples hereof, even in this present Age: Other

Nations have been in former Ages, which now indeed are become Civill, and Flourishing, but were then

few, fierce, short-lived, poor, nasty, and destroy'd of all that Pleasure, and Beauty of life, which Peace

and Society are wont to bring with them. Whosoever therefore holds, that it had been best to have

continued in that state in which all things were lawfull for all men, he contradicts himself; for every man,

by naturall necessity desires that which is good for him: nor is there any that esteemes a war of all

against all, which necessarily adheres to such a State, to be good for him. And so it happens that

through feare of each other we think it fit to rid our selves of this condition, and to get some fellowes;

that if there needs must be war, it may not yet be against all men, nor without some helps.

XIV. Fellowes are gotten either by constraint, or by consent; By Constraint, when after fight the

Conqueror makes the conquered serve him either through feare of death, or by laying fetters on him:

By consent, when men enter into society to helpe each other, both parties consenting without any

constraint. But the Conqueror may by right compell the Conquered, or the strongest the weaker, (as a

man in health may one that is sick, or he that is of riper yeares a childe) unlesse he will choose to die,

to give caution of his future obedience. For since the right of protecting our selves according to our

owne wills proceeded from our danger, and our danger from our equality, its more consonant to

reason, and more certaine for our conservation, using the present advantage to secure our selves by

taking caution; then, when they shall be full growne and strong, and got out of our power, to endeavour

to recover that power againe by doubtfull fight. And on the other side, nothing can be thought more

absurd, than by discharging whom you already have weak in your power, to make him at once both an

enemy, and a strong one. From whence we may understand likewise as a Corollarie in the naturall

state of men, That a sure and irresistible Power confers the right of Dominion, and ruling over those

who cannot resist; insomuch, as the right of all things, that can be done, adheres essentially, and

immediately unto this omnipotence hence arising.

XV. Yet cannot men expect any lasting preservation continuing thus in the state of nature (i.e.) of War,

by reason of that equality of power, and other humane faculties they are endued withall. Wherefore to

seek Peace, where there is any hopes of obtaining it, and where there is none, to enquire out for

Auxiliaries of War, is the dictate of right Reason; that is, the Law of Nature, as shall be shewed in the

next Chapter.

1. Born fit. Since we now see actually a constituted Society among men, and none living out of it, since we discern all desirous of congresse, and mutuall correspondence, it may seeme a wonderfull kind of

stupidity, to lay in the very threshold of this Doctrine, such a stumbling block before the Readers, as to

deny Man to be born fit for Society: Therefore I must more plainly say, That it is true indeed, that to Man, by nature, or as Man, that is, as soone as he is born, Solitude is an enemy; for Infants have need

of others to help them to live, and those of riper years to help them to live well, wherefore I deny not

that men (even nature compelling) desire to come together. But civill Societies are not meer Meetings,

but Bonds, to the making whereof, Faith and Compacts are necessary: The Vertue whereof to Children,

and Fooles, and the profit whereof to those who have not yet tasted the miseries which accompany its

defects, is altogether unknown; whence it happens, that those, because they know not what Society is,

cannot enter into it; these, because ignorant of the benefit it brings, care not for it. Manifest therefore it

is, that al men, because they are born in Infancy, are born unapt for Society. Many also (perhaps most

men) either through defect of minde, or want of education remain unfit during the whole course of their

lives; yet have Infants, as well as those of riper years, an humane nature; wherefore Man is made fit for

Society not by Nature, but by Education: furthermore, although Man were born in such a condition as to

desire it, it followes not, that he therefore were Born fit to enter into it; for it is one thing to desire,

another to be in capacity fit for what we desire; for even they, who through their pride, will not stoop to

equall conditions, without which there can be no Society, do yet desire it.

2. The mutuall fear. It is objected: It is so improbable that men should grow into civill Societies out of fear, that if they had been afraid, they would not have endur'd each others looks: They Presume, I

believe, that to fear is nothing else than to be affrighted: I comprehend in this word Fear, a certain

foresight of future evill; neither doe I conceive flight the sole property of fear, but to distrust, suspect,

take heed, provide so that they may not fear, is also incident to the fearfull. They who go to Sleep, shut

their Dores; they who Travell carry their Swords with them, because they fear Theives. Kingdomes

guard their Coasts and Frontiers with Forts, and Castles; Cities are compact with Walls, and al for fear

of neighbouring Kingdomes and Townes; even the strongest Armies, and most accomplisht for Fight,

yet sometimes Parly for Peace, as fearing each others Power, and lest they might be overcome. It is

through fear that men secure themselves, by flight indeed, and in corners, if they think they cannot

escape otherwise, but for the most part by Armes, and Defensive Weapons; whence it happens, that

daring to come forth, they know each others Spirits; but then, if they fight, Civill Society ariseth from the

Victory, if they agree, from their Agreement.

3. In the bare state of Nature. This is thus to be understood: What any man does in the bare state of

Nature is injurious to no man; not that in such a State he cannot offend God, or break the Lawes of

Nature; for Injustice against men presupposeth Humane Lawes, such, as in the State of Nature there

are none: Now the truth of this proposition thus conceived is sufficiently demonstrated to the mindfull

Reader in the Articles immediately foregoing; but because in certaine cases the difficulty of the

conclusion makes us forget the premises, I will contract this Argument, and make it most evident to a

single view; every man hath right to protect himself, as appears by the seventh Article. The same man

therefore hath a right to use all the means which necessarily conduce to this end by the eight Article:

But those are the necessary means which he shall judge to be such by the ninth Article. He therefore

hath a right to make use, of and to doe all whatsoever he shall judge requisite for his preservation:

wherefore by the judgement of him that doth it, the thing done is either right, or wrong; and therefore

right. True it is therefore in the bare State of Nature, &c. But if any man pretend somewhat to tend

necessarily to his preservation, which yet he himself doth not confidently believe so, he may offend

against the Lawes of Nature, as in the third Chapter of this Book is more at large declar'd. It hath been

objected by some: If a Sonne kill his Father, doth he him no injury? I have answered, That a Sonne

cannot be understood to be at any time in the State of Nature, as being under the Power and command

of them to whom he ownes his protection as soon as ever he is born, namely either his Fathers, or his

Mothers, or his that nourisht him, as is demonstrated in the ninth Chapter.

Chapter II.

Of the Law of Nature concerning Contracts

I. All Authors agree not concerning the definition of the Naturall Law, who notwithstanding doe very

often make use of this terme in their Writings. The Method therefore, wherein we begin from

definitions, and exclusion of all equivocation, is only proper to them who leave no place for contrary

Disputes; for the rest, if any man say, that somwhat is done against the Law of Nature, one proves it

hence, because it was done against the generall Agreement of all the most wise, and learned Nations:

But this declares not who shall be the judg of the wisdome and learning of all Nations: Another hence,

That it was done against the Generall consent of all Man-kind; which definition is by no means to be

admitted; for then it were impossible for any but Children, and Fools, to offend against such a Law; for

sure, under the notion of Man-kind, they comprehend all men actually endued with Reason. These

therefore either doe Naught against it, or if they doe Ought, it is without their joint accord, and therefore

ought to be excus'd; but to receive the Lawes of Nature from the Consents of them, who oftner Break,

than Observe them, is in truth unreasonable: besides, Men condemne the same things in others, which

they approve in themselves; on the other side, they publickly commend what they privately condemne;

and they deliver their Opinions more by Hear-say, than any Speculation of their own; and they accord

more through hatred of some object, through fear, hope, love, or some other perturbation of mind, than

true Reason. And therefore it comes to passe, that whole Bodyes of people often doe those things by

Generall accord, or Contention, which those Writers most willingly acknowledge to be against the Law

of Nature. But since all doe grant that is done by RIGHT, which is not done against Reason, we ought

to judg those Actions onely wrong, which are repugnant to right Reason, (i.e.) which contradict some

certaine Truth collected by right reasoning from true Principles; but that Wrong which is done, we say it is done against some Law: therefore True Reason is a certaine Law, which (since it is no lesse a part of Humane nature, than any other faculty, or affection of the mind) is also termed naturall. Therefore

the Law of Nature, that I may define it, is the Dictate of right Reason, 1 conversant about those things which are either to be done, or omitted for the constant preservation of Life, and Members, as much as

in us lyes.

II. But the first and fundamentall Law of Nature is, That Peace is to be sought after where it may be

found; and where not, there to provide our selves for helps of War: For we shewed in the last Article of the foregoing Chapter, that this precept is the dictate of right reason; but that the Dictates of right

reason are naturall Lawes, that hath been newly prov'd above; But this is the first, because the rest are

deriv'd from this, and they direct the wayes either to Peace, or self-defence.

III. But one of the Naturall Lawes deriv'd from this fundamentall one is this, That the right of all men, to all things, ought not to be retain'd, but that some certain rights ought to be transferr'd, or relinquisht: for if every one should retain his right to all things, it must necessarily follow, that some by right might

invade; and others, by the same right, might defend themselves against them, (for every man, by

naturall necessity, endeavours to defend his Body, and the things which he judgeth necessary towards

the protection of his Body) therefore War would follow. He therefore acts against the reason of Peace,

(i.e.) against the Law of Nature, whosoever he be, that doth not part with his Right to all things.

IV. But he is said to part with his right, who either absolutely renounceth it, or conveys it to another. He

absolutely renounceth it, who by some sufficient Signe, or meet Tokens, declares that he is willing that

it shall never be lawfull for him to doe that again, which before, by Right, he might have done; but he conveys it to another, who by some sufficient Signe, or meet Tokens, declares to that other, that he is

willing it should be unlawfull for him to resist him, in going about to do somewhat in the performance

where he might before, with Right, have resisted him; but that the conveyance of Right consists meerly

in not resisting, is understood by this, that before it was convey'd, he, to whom he convey'd it, had even

then also a right to all, whence he could not give any new Right: But the resisting Right he had, before

he gave it, by reason whereof the other could not freely enjoy his Rights, is utterly abolisht: Whosoever

therefore acquires some Right in the naturall state of men, he onely procures himself security, and

freedome from just molestation in the enjoyment of his Primitive Right: As for example, if any man shall

sell, or give away a Farme, he utterly deprives himself only from all Right to this Farme, but he does not

so from others also.

V. But in the conveyance of Right the will is requisite not onely of him that conveys, but of him also that

accepts it. If either be wanting, the Right remaines: for if I would have given what was mine, to one who

refus'd to accept of it, I have not therefore either simply renounc'd my Right, or convey'd it to any man;

for the cause which mov'd me to part with it to this Man was in him onely, not in others too.

VI. But if there be no other Token extant of our will either to quit, or convey our Right, but onely Words;

those words must either relate to the present, or time past; for if they be of the future onely, they convey

nothing: for example, he that speaks thus of the time to come, I will give to morrow, declares openly

that yet he hath not given it; so that all this day his right remains, and abides to morrow too, unlesse in

the interim he actually bestowes it: for what is mine, remains mine till I have parted with it. But if I shall

speak of the time present, suppose thus; I doe give, or have given you this to be received to morrow,

by these words is signified that I have already given it, and that his Right to receive it to morrow, is