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IT was well known to all students of philosophy and history in Oxford, and to many others, that

W. G. Pogson Smith had been for many years engaged in preparing for an exhaustive

treatment of the place of Hobbes in the history of European thought, and that he had

accumulated a great mass of materials towards this. These materials fill many notebooks, and

are so carefully arranged and indexed that it is clear that with a few more months he would

have been able to produce a work worthy of a very high place in philosophical literature.

Unhappily the work that he could have done himself cannot be done by any one else unless he

has given something like the same time and brings to the collection something like the same

extensive and intimate knowledge of the philosophy of the period as Pogson Smith possessed.

It is hoped indeed that, by the permission of his representatives, this great mass of material

will be deposited in the Bodleian Library and made available for scholars, and that thus the

task which he had undertaken may some time be carried out.

Among his papers has been found an essay which presents a very interesting and suggestive

treatment of the position of Hobbes. The essay is undated, and it is quite uncertain for what

audience it was prepared. It is this essay which is here published as an introduction to the

Leviathan. It is printed with only the necessary verification of references, and one or two

corrections of detail. It is always difficult to judge how far it is right to print work which the

author himself has not revised, but we feel that, while something must inevitably be lost, the

essay has so much real value that, even as it stands, it should be published. Something may

even be gained for the reader in the fresh and unconstrained character of the paper. The

pursuit of the ideal of a perfect and rounded criticism, which all serious scholars aim at, has

sometimes the unfortunate result of depriving a man's work of some spontaneity. In Oxford at

any rate, and it is probably the case everywhere, many a scholar says his best things and

expresses his most penetrating judgements in the least formal manner. Those who were Mr.

Pogson Smith's friends or pupils will find here much of the man himself—something of his

quick insight, of his unconventional directness, of his broad but solid learning; something also

of his profound feeling for truth, of his scorn of the pretentious, of his keen but kindly humour.


PAGE 48. In the Margin, for love Praise, read love of Praise. p. 75. l. 5. for signied, r. signified.

p. 88. l. l. for performe, r. forme. l. 35. for Soveraign, r. the Soveraign. p. 94. l. 14. for lands, r. hands. p. 100. l. 28. for in, r. in his. p. 102. l. 46. for in, r. is, p. 105. in the margin, for ver.

10. r. ver. 19. &c. p. 116. l. 46. for are involved, r. are not involved. p. 120. l. 42. for Those Bodies, r. These Bodies. p. 137. l. 2. for in generall. r, in generall, p. 139. l. 36. for were, r.

where. p. 166. l. 18. for benefit, r. benefits. p. 200. l. 48. dele also. l. 49. for delivered, r.

deliver. p. 203. l. 35. for other, r. higher. p. 204. l. 15. for of the, r. over the. p. 234. l. 1. for but of, r. but by mediation of. l. 15. dele and. l. 38. for putting, r. pulling. p. 262. l. 19. for tisme, r. Baptisme. p. 268. l. 48. for that the, r. that. p. 271. l. 1. for observe, r. obey. l. 4. for contrary the, r. contrary to the. p. 272. l. 36. for our Saviours of life, r. of our Saviours life. p.

275. l. 18. for if shall, r. if he shall. l. 30. for haven, r. heaven. l. 45. for of Church, r. of the Church. p. 276. l. 38. dele inter. l. 46. dele are. p. 285. l. 11. for he had, r. he hath. p. 287. l.

10. dele of. p. 298. l. 36. for to ay, r. to Lay. p. 361. l. 36. for him, r. them.

[These errata have been corrected in the text of this reprint.]



WHEREIN does the greatness of Hobbes consist? It is a question I often put to myself, as I lay

him down. It was a question which exercised his contemporaries—friends or foes—and drove

them to their wits' end to answer. If I were asked to name the highest and purest philosopher

of the seventeenth century I should single out Spinoza without a moment's hesitation. But

Spinoza was not of the world; and if a man will be perverse enough to bind the Spirit of Christ

in the fetters of Euclid, how shall he find readers? If I were asked to select the true founders of

modern science I should bracket Galileo, Descartes, and Newton, and resolutely oppose

Hobbes's claim to be of the company. If his studies in Vesalius prepared him to extend his

approbation to Harvey's demonstration of the circulation of the blood, his animosity to Oxford

and her professors would never allow him seriously to consider the claims of a science

advanced by Dr. Wallis; the sight of a page of algebraic symbols never elicited any feeling but

one of sturdy contempt, and the remark that it looked 'as if a hen had been scratching there'.

To the end of his days he dwelt among points of two dimensions, and superficies of three; he

squared the circle and he doubled the cube. "Twas pity,' said Sir Jonas Moore, and many more,

'that he had not began the study of mathematics sooner, for such a working head would have

made great advancement in it.'1

Of inductive science he is very incredulous. Bacon, contemplating 'in his delicious walkes at

Gorhambury', might indeed better like Mr. Hobbes taking down his thoughts than any other,

because he understood what he wrote; he probably learnt to understand my Lord, who dictated

his alphabet of simple natures, his receipts for the discovery of forms, his peddling

experiments and his laborious conceits. I mention this because most German critics, with

perhaps more than their usual careless audacity of assumption, find a niche for Hobbes as the

spiritual fosterling of the great empiricist Bacon. Now if there was one thing for which Hobbes

had neither sympathy nor even patience, it was experimental science. The possession of a

great telescope was no doubt a curious and useful delight; but 'not every one that brings from

beyond seas a new gin, or other jaunty device, is therefore a philosopher'.2 Let the gentlemen

of Gresham College, whose energy it must be granted shames the sloth of our ancient

universities,—let them apply themselves to Mr. Hobbes's doctrine of motion, and then he will

deign to cast an eye on their experiments. He did not think their gropings would carry them

very far. 'Experience concludeth nothing universally.'3 If he despaired of wringing her secret

from Nature, he never doubted that he held the key to every corner of the human heart. He

offers us a theory of man's nature which is at once consistent, fascinating, and outrageously

false. Only the greatest of realists could have revealed so much and blinded himself to so much

more. You cry angrily—It is false, false to the core; and yet the still small voice will suggest,

But how much of it is really true? It is poor, immoral stuff! so you might say in the pulpit, but

you know that it probes very deep. It is only the exploded Benthamite philosophy with its

hedonistic calculus tricked out in antique piquancy of phrase! If you really hold this, if you

think that Hobbes's man is nothing more than a utilitarian automaton led by the nose by

suburban pleasures and pains, you have no sense of power, of pathos, or of irony. It is only the

trick of the cheap cynic, you retort in fine. Yes, it is cynicism; but it is not cheap. Nature has

made man a passionate creature, desirous not of pleasure but of power; the passions

themselves are not simple emotions, but charged with and mastered by the appetite for

power; honour consisteth only in the opinion of power; the worth of a man is, as of all other things, his price; that is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his power; the public

worth of a man, which is the value set on him by the commonwealth, is that which men

commonly call dignity. Leave men to themselves, they struggle for power; competition,

diffidence, vainglory driving them. Sober half-hours hush with their lucid intervals the tumult

of the passions; even so on earth they bring no beatitude. Care for the future is never

banished from thought; felicity is a continual progress of the desire from one object to another.

'So that in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.'4

'For as Prometheus, which interpreted is, the prudent man, was bound to the hill Caucasus, a place of large prospect, where an eagle, feeding on his liver, devoured in the day as much as

was repaired in the night: so that man, which looks too far before him, in the care of future

time, hath his heart all the day long, gnawed on by fear of death, poverty, or other calamity;

and has no repose nor pause of his anxiety, but in sleep.'5

Such, then, is the lust and the burden of man. What is the deliverance? Spinoza found it in

philosophy; the truth shall make you free: but Hobbes was a philosopher who had no faith in

truth. Pascal found it in the following of Christ; but I doubt whether religion ever meant much

more than an engine of political order to Hobbes. Rousseau, whose survey of human nature

often strangely and suspiciously resembles that of Hobbes, advocated—in some moods at least

—a return to nature. Rousseau's 'nature' was a pig-sty, but Hobbes's state of nature was

something far worse than that.

Hobbes was never disloyal to intellect, grievously as he affronted its paramount claims; he was

not of those who see virtue in the renunciation of mathematics, logic, and clothes. Passion-

ridden intellect had mastered man in a state of nature; a passion-wearied intellect might

deliver man from it. If man cannot fulfil his desire, he can seek peace and ensue it by the

invention of fictions. It is not prudence, but curiosity, that distinguisheth man from beast. He


wonders; he is possessed; a passionate thought leaps to the utterance; the word is born; the

idea is fixed; from henceforth he will boldly conclude universally; science has come in the train

of language. This most noble and profitable invention of speech, 'without which there had been

amongst men neither commonwealth nor society, nor contract nor peace, no more than

amongst lions, bears, and wolves,'6 is man's proudest triumph over nature. By his own art he

fetters himself with his own fictions—the fictions of the tongue. You shall no longer hold that

men acquired speech because man was a reasoning animal; in truth man became capable of

science, i.e. reason, because he invented speech. It was not nature which in secular travail

brought reason to the birth; but man saw nature's poverty of invention, and boldly substituted

his own. He created reason in the interests of peace. Voltaire profanely said that if there were

no God it would be necessary to invent one; convictions of similar cogency drove the Hobbean

man to bow his neck to the dictatorship of the neologist. 'The Greeks have but one word,

, for both speech and reason; not that they thought there was no speech without

reason, but no reasoning without speech.'7 Truth is a necessity; but necessary truth is a will-

o'-the-wisp. Seekers after truth—how Hobbes despised them, all that deluded race who dreamt

of a law whose seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world: all things in

heaven and earth doing her homage! Rather, boldly conclude that truth is not to be sought,

but made. Let men agree what is to be truth, and truth it shall be. There is truth and truth abounding when once it is recognized that truth is only of universals, that there is nothing in

the world universal but names, and that names are imposed arbitrio hominum. Fiction is not,

as people hold, the image or the distortion of the real which it counterfeits; it is the very and

only foundation of that reality which is rational. Here is Hobbes's answer to that question

which, in its varied phrasing, has never ceased to trouble philosophy. Are there innate ideas?

What is the ultimate criterion of truth? Is there a transcendent reason? What is common

sense? Are there any undemonstrable and indubitable axioms fundamental to all thought? How

is a synthetic a priori judgement possible?

The same temper which leads him to stifle thought with language carries him on to substitute

definitions for first principles. Prima philosophia—metaphysics in Aristotle's sense—is first a body of definitions. These definitions are our points of departure: we must start by agreeing

upon them. For 'the light of human minds is perspicuous words, by exact definitions first

snuffed and purged from ambiguity'.8 A definition must be held to be satisfactory if it be clear.

The master claims a free and absolute right of arbitrary definition. The scholar queries: Is the

definition true? is it adequate? does it assort with reality? To whom the master testily replies:

You are irrelevant; your only right is to ask, Is it clear? Unless my definitions are accepted as

first principles, science, i.e. a deductive system of consequences, is impossible, and inference

foreclosed. Let me remind you again that agreement on definitions is the sine qua non of

intelligible reasoning; and then for the sake of peace and lucidity let me beg—nay insist—that

you accept my ruling on the use of names. Are they not arbitrary? Is not one man's imposition

as good as another's? Mine therefore—at least for purposes of argument—rather better than

yours? Hobbes knew what he was about; he was 'rare at definitions', said the admiring John

Aubrey.9 It was because he very clearly saw that in the prerogative of definition lay the

sovereignty in philosophy.

But, you say, he must recognize some real, unconventional, transcendent standard of truth

somewhere: for otherwise by what right does he distinguish between truth and error? And

what is the meaning of the charges 'absurd' and 'insignificant' so freely lavished on opinions

with which he disagrees? I can only reply that his distinctions between truth and falsehood,

sense and absurdity, are perfectly consistent with the doctrine I have been expounding. Man's

privilege of reason 'is allayed by another: and that is, by the privilege of absurdity; to which no

living creature is subject, but man only. …for it is most true that Cicero saith of them

somewhere: that there can be nothing so absurd but may be found in the books of

philosophers.'10 'As men abound in copiousness of language, so they become more wise, or

more mad than ordinary… For words are wise men's counters, they do but reckon by them; but

they are the money of fools, that value them by the authority of an Aristotle, a Cicero, or a

Thomas, or any other doctor whatsoever.'11 The causes of this endowment of absurdity are but

want of definition, want of adherence to definitions, want of the power of syllogizing. A glance

at Hobbes's relentless application of this fundamental principle will be sufficient. Good and evil

are terms of individual imposition; by tacit agreement one may say they are left to a personal

interpretation; there is no common rule of good and evil to be taken from the nature of the

objects themselves. But the moral virtues and vices are universal names: they take their

definition ex arbitrio hominum, i.e. from the will of the State. 'The fool hath said in his heart, there is no such thing as justice; and sometimes also with his tongue.'12 The fool might arrive

at his conclusion by an easy deduction from the principles of Hobbes. For if he had studied

Hobbes's code of nature with ordinary care he would have discovered that the justice of which

Leviathan is begotten is carefully emptied of all ethical content. There is indeed a justice, an obligation arising out of contract, which naturally refuses to discuss its own title; and there is

another justice, the parody of equity, which explains itself with a humorous grin as the fiction

of equality playing the peace-maker. You, X, say you're as good as any one else: Y says he's

quite your match, and he'll take you on: permit me to assume then for purposes of codification

a hypothesis of universal equality, and to refer you to the golden rule for your future


At length man's pride and passions compel him to submit himself to government. Leviathan is

set on his feet; he is the king of the proud; but his feet are of clay; he too is a fiction. This

time Hobbes resorts to the lawyers, borrows from them their mystico-legal fiction of the

persona moralis, the corporation, and sends the mystical elements in it to the right about. 'It is the unity of the representer, not the unity of the represented, that maketh the person one: …

and unity cannot otherwise be understood in multitude.'13 The sovereign is the soul, the

person, the representative, the will, the conscience of the commonwealth; i.e. the sovereign is

the commonwealth in that fictional sense which alone is truth in science and in practice. Once

again there is no such thing as objective right: therefore we must invent a substitute for it by

establishing a sovereign who shall declare what shall be right for us. On this point Hobbes is

unmistakably emphatic.

'The law is all the right reason we have, and (though he, as often as it disagreeth with his own

reason, deny it) is the infallible rule of moral goodness. The reason whereof is this, that

because neither mine nor the Bishop's reason is right reason fit to be a rule of our moral

actions, we have therefore set up over ourselves a sovereign governor, and agreed that his

laws shall be unto us, whatsoever they be, in the place of right reason, to dictate to us what is

really good. In the same manner as men in playing turn up trump, and as in playing their

game their morality consisteth in not renouncing, so in our civil conversation our morality is all

contained in not disobeying of the laws.'14— Hobbes's debate with Dr. Bramhall, Bishop of


'For, but give the authority of defining punishments to any man whatsoever, and let that man

define them, and right reason has defined them, suppose the definition be both made, and

made known before the offence committed. For such authority is to trump in card-playing,

save that in matter of government, when nothing else is turned up, clubs are trumps.'15— A

Dialogue of the Common Laws.

It is idle to qualify or defend such a political philosophy: it is rotten at the core. It is valueless save in so far as it stimulates to refutation. We may be content to leave it as a precious

privilege to the lawyers, who need definitions and have no concern with morality. And yet no

thinker on politics has ever probed its fundamental conceptions more thoroughly; and I say it

advisedly, if you would think clearly of rights and duties, sovereignty and law, you must begin

with the criticism of Hobbes. For any philosophy which is worth the name must spring out of

scepticism; and every system of philosophy which is worth serious attention must achieve the

conquest of scepticism. It is only a very botcher in philosophy or a very genial personage who

can really rest content with a merely sceptical attitude. Hobbes was no Carneades of riotous

dialectic, no Montaigne of cheerful and humorous resignation. His logic plunged him into the

abyss of scepticism; but the fierce dogmatism of his nature revolted against it. David Hume

imagined that it was left for him to send philosophy to its euthanasia; but in truth Hobbes had

seen it all, the whole sceptic's progress—seen it, and travelled it, and loathed it long ago.

Hobbes clutched at mathematics as the dogmatist's last straw. Spite of the wreck of objective

ideals, what might not be effected with matter and motion! Here, if anywhere, certainty might

be found; here reason, baffled and disillusioned, might find a punctum stans; a fulcrum to

explain the universe.

Hobbes and Descartes.

Hobbes thought in an atmosphere of dualism—yet Hobbes was a resolute opponent of dualism.

From 1637, the date of the Discours, the relation between matter and mind, body and soul,

was a cardinal— the cardinal problem. Descartes had awarded to each substance co-ordinate,

independent, absolute rights. The future business of Cartesianism was to find a trait d'union

an explanation for a relation in fact which had been demonstrated in theory inconceivable.

At first blush one might be inclined to say Hobbes remained untouched by the new method.

Starting on a basis of empiricism he developed a materialistic philosophy in perfect

independence of the current of idealistic thought which was flowing so strongly on the

Continent. It would be a mistaken view. Hobbes is powerfully influenced by Descartes.

Descartes prescribes for him his method—not Gassendi or Bacon. But with Descartes' dualism

he will not away. He suspected Descartes of paltering with philosophy to appease the Jesuits—

his philosophy must find a corner for the mysteries of the Catholic faith, e.g.

transubstantiation, pro salute animae; and was a system to be received which fell hopelessly apart in the middle, and which demanded a miracle to restore a unity which a philosophy

worthy of the name was bound to demonstrate impossible?

A system—or philosophy—must be coherent at any price; a philosopher, whose business it was

to define, should see to that: words are wise men's counters, and the philosopher must play to

win; coherence, not comprehension, is with Hobbes the touchstone of philosophy, the test of

truth. To Hobbes, rationalism is the fundamental postulate; and a rational universe must be

deduced from a single and simple principle. Dualism was the consecration of the irrational.

But Hobbes deals in back blows—he does not meet the dualist face to face; he refuses to see

eye to eye with him; the problem shall be eluded, the position turned, in an emergency the

question at issue begged. Sensation need offer no difficulties: sensation is only motion; it can

only be caused by motion, it is only a form, a manifestation of motion. Fancy, memory,

comparison, judgement, are really carried with sense—'sense hath necessarily some memory

adhering to it.'16

And reason—pure intellection—the faculty of science—surely here we must appeal to another

source (cf. Descartes and Gassendi), surely we have passed into another realm. Hobbes

emphatically assures us that it is this reason, this capacity for general hypothetical reason, this

science or sapience, which marks man off from the brutes. The distinction between science and

experience, sapience and prudence, is fundamental in his philosophy. And yet if we look more

narrowly we shall find this marvellous endowment of man is really the child of language—that

most noble and profitable invention. This bald paradox is a masterpiece of tactics. Speech is

ushered in with the fanfaronade, and lo! reason is discovered clinging to her train. Instinct

says, reason begets speech; paradox inverts, speech begets reason. Man acquires speech

because he is reasonable )( man becomes capable of science because he has invented speech.

A wonderful hysteron proteron.

Hobbes derives some account from his audacity.

1. We easily understand how error is possible—no need of tedious discussion—error dogs the

heels of language.

2. Seeing that thought (science) depends on language, it is evident that to clarify thought we

must purge language—re-definition the true task of philosophy.

In my necessarily harsh review I may have seemed to have found no answer to my opening

question. Does it not involve a petitio principii? Is he great after all? I am content to rest the issue on one test alone—the test of style. I am adopting no superficial test, when I boldly

affirm that every great thinker reveals his greatness in his style. It is quite possible—unhappily

common—to cultivate style without thought; it is absolutely impossible to think really, deeply,

passionately, without forging a style. Now Hobbes's style is something quite unique in our

literature. Of course I don't mean it stands out of the seventeenth century; to read a

paragraph is to fix its date. But no other seventeenth-century writer has a style like it: it is

inimitable. It would be childish to measure it with the incommensurable; to pit it against the

fluent magnificence of Milton or the quaint and unexpected beauties of Sir Thomas Browne. But

it is fair to try Hobbes's English by the touchstone of Bacon's. Those critics who deny Bacon's

title to a primacy in philosophy are generally ready enough to acknowledge his high position as

a writer. And Bacon and Hobbes are writers of the same order. They are both sententious; they

are both grave and didactic; they both wield the weapons of imagery, apophthegm, and

epigram; they are both—let us admit it—laboured stylists. It is, I think, highly probable that

Hobbes learnt something of literary craftsmanship from Bacon in those Gorhambury

contemplations. But Hobbes's writing is just as decisively superior to Bacon's, as his

philosophy. Bacon aimed at concealing the poverty of his thought by the adornment of his

style: he wrote for ostentation. When that solemn humbug, that bourgeois Machiavel, took up

his pen to edify mankind, he first opened his commonplace books, stuffed with assorted

anecdotes, quotations, conceits, and mucrones verborum, and then with an eye to the

anthology, proceeded to set down 'what oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed'.

It must be admitted it reads remarkably well. The sentences are brave and brief at first

inspection: you mistake terseness of language for condensation of thought. But read again.

Many examples of this can be found in such an essay as 'Of Study'. Now turn to Hobbes; but

before you do so, open Aubrey and learn the open secret of his style.

'He was never idle; his thoughts were always working.'17

'He sayd that he sometimes would sett his thoughts upon researching and contemplating,

always with this rule, that he very much and deeply considered one thing at a time (scilicet a

weeke or sometimes a fortnight).'18

'He walked much and contemplated, and he had in the head of his staffe a pen and inke-horne,

carried always a note booke in his pocket, and as soon as a thought darted, he presently

entred it into his booke, or otherwise he might perhaps have lost it…. Thus that book (the

Leviathan) was made.'19

In Hobbes the clauses are clean, the sentences jolt, the argument is inevitable. Bacon wrote to

display his wit: Hobbes to convince and confute. Bacon invented epigram to coax the public

ear; Hobbes found his epigram after he had crystallized his thought. In sum, the difference

between the styles of Bacon and Hobbes is to be measured by the difference between

ostentation and passionate thought. We can compare Hobbes's own defence of his style and


'There is nothing I distrust more than my elocution, which nevertheless I am confident,

excepting the mischances of the press, is not obscure. That I have neglected the ornament of

quoting ancient poets, orators, and philosophers, contrary to the custom of late time, (whether

I have done well or ill in it,) proceedeth from my judgement, grounded on many reasons. For

first, all truth of doctrine dependeth either upon reason, or upon Scripture; both which give credit to many, but never receive it from any writer. Secondly, the matters in question are not

of fact, but of right, wherein there is no place for witnesses. There is scarce any of those old writers that contradicteth not sometimes both himself and others; which makes their

testimonies insufficient. Fourthly, such opinions as are taken only upon credit of antiquity, are

not intrinsically the judgement of those that cite them, but words that pass, like gaping, from

mouth to mouth. Fifthly, it is many times with a fraudulent design that men stick their corrupt

doctrine with the cloves of other men's wit. Sixthly, I find not that the ancients they cite, took

it for an ornament, to do the like with those that wrote before them. Seventhly, it is an

argument of indigestion, when Greek and Latin sentences unchewed come up again, as they

use to do, unchanged. Lastly, though I reverence those men of ancient time, that either have

written truth perspicuously, or set us in a better way to find it out ourselves; yet to the

antiquity itself I think nothing due. For if we will reverence the age, the present is the oldest. If the antiquity of the writer, I am not sure, that generally they to whom such honour is given,

were more ancient when they wrote, than I am that am writing. But if it be well considered,

the praise of ancient authors proceeds not from the reverence of the dead, but from the

competition, and mutual envy of the living.'20

Aubrey has more to tell us. For instance, about his reading:

'He had read much, if one considers his long life; but his contemplation was much more than

his reading. He was wont to say that if he had read as much as other men, he should have

knowne no more than other men.'21

About his love of 'ingeniose conversation':

'I have heard him say, that at his lord's house in the country there was a good library, and

bookes enough for him, and that his lordship stored the library with what bookes he thought

fitt to be bought; but he sayd, the want of learned conversation was a very great

inconvenience, and that though he conceived he could order his thinking as well perhaps as

another man, yet he found a great defect.'22

Studying Hobbes as we do in historical manuals of philosophy, with their extracted systems,

we usually fail to recognize how strongly the blood of the controversialist ran in his veins. Yet

the Leviathan is first and foremost a controversial episode—a fighting work. Hobbes himself

professed regret that his thoughts for those ten years of civil war were so unhinged from the

mathematics, but he certainly entered into the quarrel with alacrity. His interests were pre-

eminently occupied with ecclesiastical problems. Born in 1588, an Oxford student at the time

of the Gunpowder Plot, an indignant witness of the struggle of that age between religion and

science, like every honest Englishman he pursued Pope and Jesuit with an undying hate. For

the aversion to Rome and the Roman claims there was ample justification. By his Bull of

Deposition in 1570 Pope Pius V had challenged the struggle, and rendered the position of

English Catholics untenable. From a respected if prohibited faith they became recusants: from

recusants, traitors. It was the Papal policy and its indefatigable agents the Jesuits which were

to blame. What peace was possible with men who repudiated moral obligations, who hesitated

at no crime ad maiorem Dei gloriam? The same dishonesty which covered their actions and

their name with infamy for succeeding generations, rendered their apologetic literature the

poorest trash and the most immoral stuff that was ever justly consigned to oblivion. Bellarmine

and Baronius once were names to conjure with: does any one respect them now? Their only

merit is that they called for answer—and some of the answers are among the most precious

treasures of English Theology. Hobbes too must break a lance with Bellarmine in the Leviathan.

And Hobbes was not the least vigorous or the worst equipped of the English champions.

For indeed Hobbes deserves a place among the Masters in English Theology. Strange company,

it may seem. But if Hobbes be read in connexion with the line of great English apologists—

apologists for Protestantism and apologists for Anglicanism, it will at once be evident to any

unprejudiced mind that the lines of defence and attack on which the Fathers of Anglicanism—

Jewel, Hooker, Andrewes, Laud, Chillingworth, Jeremy Taylor—conducted the debate were

adopted with a thoroughness all his own by Hobbes. He dotted the i's and crossed the t's of the

divines; sharpened their logic, sounded their inferences, and appended a few corollaries from

which they themselves might have shrunk. The theory of a national and autonomous Church

outlined by Jewel and compendiously stated by Hooker ('the prince has power to change the

public face of religion'), hardly allowed of clearer definition in Hobbes's brief chapter23 on the

identity of Church and Commonwealth and the consequences flowing therefrom.

Again, the distinction between the necessary and the variable, fundamentals and non-

fundamentals, articles of faith and matters of opinion, was the real principle of the

Reformation. For the constant effort of the Roman Church was to extend the list of matters

which were de fide, and to minimize the variable element as far as possible. So that, when he asserts and proves that the unum necessarium, the only article of faith, which the Scripture maketh necessary to salvation, is this, that Jesus is the Christ, Hobbes is taking the Anglican

position occupied for instance by Chillingworth and Jeremy Taylor. Not that he ever dreamt, as

they did, of allowing the antithesis to become the premiss of religious freedom. With him—as

with Laud—it drove to an opposite conclusion. If a practice, an opinion, is non-essential, then it

is indifferent; if indifferent, then the commonwealth, i.e. the sovereign, must decide. What the

rule was did not matter, all that mattered was that a rule there should be.

Once again, Anglican polemics had been constrained to welcome the aid of philology against

controversialists who—let us charitably assume in ignorance of Greek—employed texts which

were forgeries, and emended those which were not. Jeremy Taylor was more than doubtful as

to the value of patristic testimony, and could not away with the Athanasian Creed.

Hobbes goes so far as to subject the whole canon of Scripture to a critical examination, which

in its boldness anticipates the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus of Spinoza.

And yet the Church of England always viewed this self-constituted ally with something more

than suspicion. His Erastianism was of a type which only Selden and a few lawyers could

appreciate. Honest Baillie spoke of him as Hobbes the Atheist; there were those who hinted

darkly that he was no other than Antichrist. It is true his views on the Trinity were of a

Sabellian complexion; and in one famous passage he was incautious enough to make Moses

one of the three persons thereof. In Hobbes's time Legate and Wightman had been burnt for

less. He himself would have made an unwilling martyr. 'There was a report (and surely true),'

says Aubrey, 'that in Parliament, not long after the king was settled, (in fact it was 1668),

some of the bishops made a motion to have the good old gentleman burnt for a heretique.'24 I

don't know that they actually went as far as that, whatever they thought; but certain it is they

inquired into his books, that the University of Cambridge in 1669 compelled one Daniel

Scargill, Fellow of Corpus Christi, to recant his Hobbism,25 and that Hobbes himself was

grievously alarmed. And with some justice: for despite his eloquent legal defence, I doubt

whether the common lawyers would have been deterred from issuing the writ de haeretico


Happily the only result was to send up the price of his books—this from the good Pepys, who

tried to buy them. What did Pepys think of them?

Hobbes may well have been uncomfortable: he knew, better probably than even the bishops,

how thoroughly he deserved to be burnt. With sophistry and sense, with satire and suggestion,

he had been fighting, single-handed, in the cause of the lay intellect. 'When Mr. T. Hobbes was

sick in France the divines came to him and tormented him (both Roman Catholic, Church of

England, and Geneva). Sayd he to them, "Let me alone or else I will detect all your cheates

from Aaron to yourselves."'26 The threatened attack—vivacious, detailed, and precise—was

delivered in the last two books of the Leviathan. How thorough the assault was you may judge for yourselves if you will read them; the tone you may estimate from a few illustrations, which

may perhaps encourage you to read further.27

A good-natured critic will refuse to see in Hobbes anything more than the sturdy Protestant,

the stalwart champion of national religion, denouncing with equal emphasis the frauds of

priestcraft and the irresponsibility of private judgement. His friends certainly believed that 'the

good old gentleman' was a sound Christian at heart. He may have been: it is more evident that

he was an Erastian. Many of us—most of us in fact—are Erastians with certain limitations:

Hobbes was an Erastian without limitations. It is customary to count him among the pioneers

of Natural Religion and Rational Theology. For such a view I can find no evidence. Natural Law

is indeed the law of reason—found out by reason: but National Religion is not the religion of

reason. Nature indeed plants the seeds of religion—fear and ignorance; kingcraft and priest-

craft water and tend it. The religion of reason is the religion of the State—and the State bids us

captivate our reason. 'It is with the mysteries of our religion as with wholesome pills for the

sick: which swallowed whole have the virtue to cure; but chewed are for the most part cast up

again without effect.'28

Hobbes had his bitter jest with his contemporaries, and the whirligig of time has had its

revenges. He has suffered much from his opponents, more from his defenders, most from his

plagiarists. Oxford once burnt the Leviathan: she now prescribes it to her students; but the prescribed portion is very limited, and there is no reason to suppose that she has ever

understood him. It was, after all, a nemesis well deserved. A great partisan by nature, Hobbes

became by the sheer force of his fierce, concentrated intellect a master builder in philosophy.

The stimulus of opposition roused him to think. He hated error, and therefore, to confute it, he

shouldered his way into the very sanctuary of truth. But his hands were not clean, nor his spirit

pure; patient research and absolute devotion were not in his nature to give; he never felt the

'bright shoots of everlastingness', and resolutely closed his eyes to the high vision. With all his

intellectual power he is of the earth earthy; at best the Lydian stone of philosophy, and 'rare at



1. Aubrey's Brief Lives, in 2 vols., edited by A. Clark, 1898: i. 332.

2. Aubrey, i. 335–6.

3. Hobbes's English Works, iv. 18, ed. Molesworth, 1839.

4. p. 75.

5. p. 82.

6. p. 24.

7. p. 29.


8. p. 37.

9. Aubrey, i. 394.

10. p. 35.

11. p. 29.

12. p. 111.

13. p. 126.

14. Molesworth, v. 194.

15. Ibid., vi. 122.

16. Molesworth, i. 393.

17. Aubrey, i. 351.

18. Ibid., i. 339.

19. Aubrey, i. 334.

20. pp. 555–6.

21. Aubrey, i. 349.

22. Ibid., i. 337–8.

23. Chapter xxxix, pp. 361–3.

24. Aubrey, i. 339.

25. Somers Tracts, ed. 1809–12, vol. vii, p. 371.

26. Aubrey, i. 357.

27. Cf. on Inspiration, pp. 312–14; on Hell, p. 351; on the Soul, p. 526; on the Hot-houses of

Vain Philosophy, p. 518; on Aristotelity and Theology, pp. 523–4; on the Universities, p. 523.

Cf. his sketch of the origin and history of Universities, p. 523.

28. p. 287.

29. Aubrey, i. 394.



The Matter, Forme, & Power






By THOMAS HOBBES of Malmesbury.


Printed for ANDREW CROOKE, at the Green Dragon

in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1651.


of Godolphin.

Honor'd Sir,

YOUR most worthy Brother Mr Sidney Godolphin, when he lived, was pleas'd to think my

studies something, and otherwise to oblige me, as you know, with reall testimonies of his good

opinion, great in themselves, and the greater for the worthinesse of his person. For there is not

any vertue that disposeth a man, either to the service of God, or to the service of his Country,

to Civill Society, or private Friendship, that did not manifestly appear in his conversation, not

as acquired by necessity, or affected upon occasion, but inhærent, and shining in a generous

constitution of his nature. Therefore in honour and gratitude to him, and with devotion to your

selfe, I humbly Dedicate unto you this my discourse of Common-wealth. I know not how the

world will receive it, nor how it may reflect on those that shall seem to favour it. For in a way

beset with those that contend, on one side for too great Liberty, and on the other side for too

much Authority, 'tis hard to passe between the points of both unwounded. But yet, me thinks,

the endeavour to advance the Civill Power, should not be by the Civill Power condemned; nor

private men, by reprehending it, declare they think that Power too great. Besides, I speak not

of the men, but (in the Abstract) of the Seat of Power, (like to those simple and unpartiall

creatures in the Roman Capitol, that with their noyse defended those within it, not because

they were they, but there,) offending none, I think, but those without, or such within (if there

be any such) as favour them. That which perhaps may most offend, are certain Texts of Holy

Scripture, alledged by me to other purpose than ordinarily they use to be by others. But I have

done it with due submission, and also (in order to my Subject) necessarily; for they are the

Outworks of the Enemy, from whence they impugne the Civill Power. If notwithstanding this,

you find my labour generally decryed, you may be pleased to excuse your selfe, and say I am a

man that love my own opinions, and think all true I say, that I honoured your Brother, and

honour you, and have presum'd on that, to assume the Title (without your knowledge) of

being, as I am,


Your most humble, and most

obedient servant,


Paris. Aprill 15/25. 1651.


NATURE (the Art whereby God hath made and governes the World) is by the Art of man, as in

many other things, so in this also imitated, that it can make an Artificial Animal. For seeing life

is but a motion of Limbs, the begining whereof is in some principall part within; why may we

not say, that all Automata (Engines that move themselves by springs and wheeles as doth a

watch) have an artificiall life? For what is the Heart, but a Spring; and the Nerves, but so many Strings; and the Joynts, but so many Wheeles, giving motion to the whole Body, such as was intended by the Artificer? Art goes yet further, imitating that Rationall and most excellent worke of Nature, Man. For by Art is created that great LEVIATHAN called a COMMON-WEALTH,

or STATE, (in latine CIVITAS) which is but an Artificiall Man; though of greater stature and

strength than the Naturall, for whose protection and defence it was intended; and in which, the

Soveraignty is an Artificiall Soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body; The Magistrates, and other Officers of Judicature and Execution, artificiall Joynts; Reward and Punishment (by which fastned to the seate of the Soveraignty, every joynt and member is moved to performe

his duty) are the Nerves, that do the same in the Body Naturall; The Wealth and Riches of all the particular members, are the Strength; Salus Populi (the peoples safety) its Businesse; Counsellors, by whom all things needfull for it to know, are suggested unto it, are the Memory; Equity and Lawes, an artificiall Reason and Will; Concord, Health; Sedition, Sicknesse; and Civill war, Death. Lastly, the Pacts and Covenants, by which the parts of this Body Politique were at first made, set together, and united, resemble that Fiat, or the Let us make man, pronounced by God in the Creation.

To describe the Nature of this Artificiall man, I will consider

First, the Matter thereof, and the Artificer; both which is Man.

Secondly, How, and by what Covenants it is made; what are the Rights and just

Power or Authority of a Soveraigne; and what it is that preserveth and dissolveth


Thirdly, what is a Christian Common-wealth.

Lastly, what is the Kingdome of Darkness.

Concerning the first, there is a saying much usurped of late, That Wisedome is acquired, not by reading of Books, but of Men. Consequently whereunto, those persons, that for the most part can give no other proof of being wise, take great delight to shew what they think they have

read in men, by uncharitable censures of one another behind their backs. But there is another

saying not of late understood, by which they might learn truly to read one another, if they

would take the pains; and that is, Nosce teipsum, Read thy self: which was not meant, as it is now used, to countenance, either the barbarous state of men in power, towards their inferiors;

or to encourage men of low degree, to a sawcie behaviour towards their betters; But to teach

us, that for the similitude of the thoughts, and Passions of one man, to the thoughts, and

Passions of another, whosoever looketh into himself, and considereth what he doth, when he

does think, opine, reason, hope, feare, &c, and upon what grounds; he shall thereby read and know, what are the thoughts, and Passions of all other men, upon the like occasions. I say the

similitude of Passions, which are the same in all men, desire, feare, hope, &c; not the similitude of the objects of the Passions, which are the things desired, feared, hoped, &c: for these the constitution individuall, and particular education do so vary, and they are so easie to

be kept from our knowledge, that the characters of mans heart, blotted and confounded as

they are, with dissembling, lying, counter-feiting, and erroneous doctrines, are legible onely to

him that searcheth hearts. And though by mens actions wee do discover their designe

sometimes; yet to do it without comparing them with our own, and distinguishing all

circumstances, by which the case may come to be altered, is to decypher without a key, and

be for the most part deceived, by too much trust, or by too much diffidence; as he that reads,

is himself a good or evil man.

But let one man read another by his actions never so perfectly, it serves him onely with his

acquaintance, which are but few. He that is to govern a whole Nation, must read in himself,

not this, or that particular man; but Man-kind: which though it be hard to do, harder than to

learn any Language, or Science; yet, when I shall have set down my own reading orderly, and

perspicuously, the pains left another, will be onely to consider, if he also find not the same in

himself. For this kind of Doctrine, admitteth no other Demonstration.




CONCERNING the Thoughts of man, I will consider them first Singly, and afterwards in Trayne, or dependance upon one another. Singly, they are every one a Representation or Apparence, of some quality, or other Accident of a body without us; which is commonly called an Object.

Which Object worketh on the Eyes, Eares, and other parts of mans body; and by diversity of

working, produceth diversity of Apparences.

The Originall of them all, is that which we call SENSE; (For there is no conception in a mans

mind, which hath not at first, totally, or by parts, been begotten upon the organs of Sense.) The rest are derived from that originall.

To know the naturall cause of Sense, is not very necessary to the business now in hand; and I

have elsewhere written of the same at large. Nevertheless, to fill each part of my present

method, I will briefly deliver the same in this place.

The cause of Sense, is the Externall Body, or Object, which presseth the organ proper to each

Sense, either immediatly, as in the Tast and Touch; or mediately, as in Seeing, Hearing, and

Smelling: which pressure, by the mediation of Nerves, and other strings, and membranes of

the body, continued inwards to the Brain, and Heart, causeth there a resistance, or counter-

pressure, or endeavour of the heart, to deliver it self: which endeavour because Outward,

seemeth to be some matter without. And this seeming, or fancy, is that which men call Sense; and consisteth, as to the Eye, in a Light, or Colour figured; To the Eare, in a Sound; To the Nostrill, in an Odour; To the Tongue and Palat, in a Savour; And to the rest of the body, in Heat, Cold, Hardnesse, Softnesse, and such other qualities, as we discern by Feeling. All which qualities called Sensible, are in the object that causeth them, but so many several motions of the matter, by which it presseth our organs diversly. Neither in us that are pressed, are they

any thing else, but divers motions; (for motion, produceth nothing but motion.) But their

apparence to us is Fancy, the same waking, that dreaming. And as pressing, rubbing, or

striking the Eye, makes us fancy a light; and pressing the Eare, produceth a dinne; so do the

bodies also we see, or hear, produce the same by their strong, though unobserved action. For

if those Colours, and Sounds, were in the Bodies, or Objects that cause them, they could not

bee severed from them, as by glasses, and in Ecchoes by reflection, wee see they are; where

we know the thing we see, is in one place; the apparence, in another. And though at some

certain distance, the reall, and very object seem invested with the fancy it begets in us; Yet

still the object is one thing, the image or fancy is another. So that Sense in all cases, is

nothing els but originall fancy, caused (as I have said) by the pressure, that is, by the motion,

of externall things upon our Eyes, Eares, and other organs thereunto ordained.

But the Philosophy-schooles, through all the Universities of Christendome, grounded upon

certain Texts of Aristotle, teach another doctrine; and say, For the cause of Vision, that the thing seen, sendeth forth on every side a visible species(in English) a visible shew, apparition, or aspect, or a being seen; the receiving whereof into the Eye, is Seeing. And for the cause of Hearing, that the thing heard, sendeth forth an Audible species, that is, an Audible aspect, or Audible being seen; which entring at the Eare, maketh Hearing. Nay for the cause of

Understanding also, they say the thing Understood sendeth forth intelligible species, that is, an intelligible being seen; which comming into the Understanding, makes us Understand. I say not this, as disapproving the use of Universities: but because I am to speak hereafter of their office

in a Common-wealth, I must let you see on all occasions by the way, what things would be

amended in them; amongst which the frequency of insignificant Speech is one.



THAT when a thing lies still, unlesse somewhat els stirre it, it will lye still for ever, is a truth that no man doubts of. But that when a thing is in motion, it will eternally be in motion, unless

somewhat els stay it, though the reason be the same, (namely, that nothing can change it

selfe,) is not so easily assented to. For men measure, not onely other men, but all other

things, by themselves: and because they find themselves subject after motion to pain, and

lassitude, think every thing els growes weary of motion, and seeks repose of its own accord;

little considering, whether it be not some other motion, wherein that desire of rest they find in

themselves, consisteth. From hence it is, that the Schooles say, Heavy bodies fall downwards,

out of an appetite to rest, and to conserve their nature in that place which is most proper for

them; ascribing appetite and Knowledge of what is good for their conservation, (which is more

than man has) to things inanimate, absurdly.

When a Body is once in motion, it moveth (unless something els hinder it) eternally; and

whatsoever hindreth it, cannot in an instant, but in time, and by degrees quite extinguish it:

And as wee see in the water, though the wind cease, the waves give not over rowling for a

long time after; so also it happeneth in that motion, which is made in the internall parts of a

man, then, when he Sees, Dreams, &c. For after the object is removed, or the eye shut, wee

still retain an image of the thing seen, though more obscure than when we see it. And this is it,

the Latines call Imagination, from the image made in seeing; and apply the same, though

improperly, to all the other senses. But the Greeks call it Fancy; which signifies apparence, and is as proper to one sense, as to another. IMAGINATION therefore is nothing but decaying

sense; and is found in men, and many other living Creatures, aswell sleeping, as waking.


The decay of Sense in men waking, is not the decay of the motion made in sense; but an

obscuring of it, in such manner, as the light of the Sun obscureth the light of the Starres;

which starrs do no less exercise their vertue by which they are visible, in the day, than in the

night. But because amongst many stroaks, which our eyes, eares, and other organs receive

from externall bodies, the predominant onely is sensible; therefore the light of the Sun being

predominant, we are not affected with the action of the starrs. And any object being removed

from our eyes, though the impression it made in us remain; yet other objects more present

succeeding, and working on us, the Imagination of the past is obscured, and made weak; as

the voyce of a man is in the noyse of the day. From whence it followeth, that the longer the

time is, after the sight, or Sense of any object, the weaker is the Imagination. For the

continuall change of mans body, destroyes in time the parts which in sense were moved; So

that distance of time, and of place, hath one and the same effect in us. For as at a great

distance of place, that which wee look at, appears dimme, and without distinction of the

smaller parts; and as Voyces grow weak, and inarticulate: so also after great distance of time,

our imagination of the Past is weak; and wee lose (for example) of Cities wee have seen, many

particular Streets; and of Actions, many particular Circumstances. This decaying sense, when wee would express the thing it self, (I mean fancy it selfe,) wee call Imagination, as I said before: But when we would express the decay, and signifie that the Sense is fading, old, and past, it is called Memory. So that Imagination and Memory, are but one thing, which for divers considerations hath divers names.

Much memory, or memory of many things, is called Experience. Againe, Imagination being

only of those things which have been formerly perceived by Sense, either all at once, or by

parts at severall times; The former, (which is the imagining the whole object, as it was

presented to the sense) is simple Imagination; as when one imagineth a man, or horse, which

he hath seen before. The other is Compounded; as when from the sight of a man at one time,

and of a horse at another, we conceive in our mind a Centaure. So when a man compoundeth

the image of his own person, with the image of the actions of an other man; as when a man

imagins himselfe a Hercules, or an Alexander, (which happeneth often to them that are much taken with reading of Romants) it is a compound imagination, and properly but a Fiction of the

mind. There be also other Imaginations that rise in men, (though waking) from the great

impression made in sense: As from gazing upon the Sun, the impression leaves an image of

the Sun before our eyes a long time after; and from being long and vehemently attent upon

Geometricall Figures, a man shall in the dark, (though awake) have the Images of Lines, and

Angles before his eyes: which kind of Fancy hath no particular name; as being a thing that

doth not commonly fall into mens discourse.


The imaginations of them that sleep, are those we call Dreams. And these also (as all other

Imaginations) have been before, either totally, or by parcells in the Sense. And because in

sense, the Brain, and Nerves, which are the necessary Organs of sense, are so benummed in

sleep, as not easily to be moved by the action of Externall Objects, there can happen in sleep,

no Imagination; and therefore no Dreame, but what proceeds from the agitation of the inward

parts of mans body; which inward parts, for the connexion they have with the Brayn, and other

Organs, when they be distempered, do keep the same in motion; whereby the Imaginations

there formerly made, appeare as if a man were waking; saving that the Organs of Sense being

now benummed, so as there is no new object, which can master and obscure them with a more

vigorous impression, a Dreame must needs be more cleare, in this silence of sense, than are

our waking thoughts. And hence it cometh to passe, that it is a hard matter, and by many

thought impossible to distinguish exactly between Sense and Dreaming. For my part, when I

consider, that in Dreames, I do not often, nor constantly think of the same Persons, Places,

Objects, and Actions that I do waking; nor remember so long a trayne of coherent thoughts,

Dreaming, as at other times; And because waking I often observe the absurdity of Dreames,

but never dream of the absurdities of my waking Thoughts; I am well satisfied, that being

awake, I know I dreame not; though when I dreame, I think my selfe awake.

And seeing dreames are caused by the distemper of some of the inward parts of the Body;

divers distempers must needs cause different Dreams. And hence it is, that lying cold breedeth

Dreams of Feare, and raiseth the thought and Image of some fearfull object (the motion from

the brain to the inner parts, and from the inner parts to the Brain being reciprocall:) And that

as Anger causeth heat in some parts of the Body, when we are awake; so when we sleep, the

over heating of the same parts causeth Anger, and raiseth up in the brain the Imagination of

an Enemy. In the same manner; as naturall kindness, when we are awake causeth desire; and

desire makes heat in certain other parts of the body; so also, too much heat in those parts,

while wee sleep, raiseth in the brain an imagination of some kindness shewn. In summe, our

Dreams are the reverse of our waking Imaginations; The motion when we are awake,

beginning at one end; and when we Dream, at another.

Apparitions or Visions.

The most difficult discerning of a mans Dream, from his waking thoughts, is then, when by

some accident we observe not that we have slept: which is easie to happen to a man full of

fearfull thoughts; and whose conscience is much troubled; and that sleepeth, without the

circumstances, of going to bed, or putting off his clothes, as one that noddeth in a chayre. For

he that taketh pains, and industriously layes himself to sleep, in case any uncouth and

exorbitant fancy come unto him, cannot easily think it other than a Dream. We read of Marcus

Brutus, (one that had his life given him by Julius Cœsar, and was also his favorite, and notwithstanding murthered him,) how at Philippi, the night before he gave battell to Augustus Cæsar, hee saw a fearfull apparition, which is commonly related by Historians as a Vision: but considering the circumstances, one may easily judge to have been but a short Dream. For

sitting in his tent, pensive and troubled with the horrour of his rash act, it was not hard for

him, slumbering in the cold, to dream of that which most affrighted him; which feare, as by

degrees it made him wake; so also it must needs make the Apparition by degrees to vanish:

And having no assurance that he slept, he could have no cause to think it a Dream, or any

thing but a Vision. And this is no very rare Accident: for even they that be perfectly awake, if

they be timorous, and supperstitious, possessed with fearfull tales, and alone in the dark, are

subject to the like fancies; and believe they see spirits and dead mens Ghosts walking in

Church-yards; whereas it is either their Fancy onely, or els the knavery of such persons, as

make use of such superstitious feare, to passe disguised in the night, to places they would not

be known to haunt.

From this ignorance of how to distinguish Dreams, and other strong Fancies, from Vision and

Sense, did arise the greatest part of the Religion of the Gentiles in time past, that worshipped

Satyres, Fawnes, Nymphs, and the like; and now adayes the opinion that rude people have of

Fayries, Ghosts, and Goblins; and of the power of Witches. For as for Witches, I think not that

their witchcraft is any reall power; but yet that they are justly punished, for the false beliefe

they have, that they can do such mischiefe, joyned with their purpose to do it if they can: their

trade being neerer to a new Religion, than to a Craft or Science. And for Fayries, and walking

Ghosts, the opinion of them has I think been on purpose, either taught, or not confuted, to

keep in credit the use of Exorcisme, of Crosses, of holy Water, and other such inventions of

Ghostly men. Neverthelesse, there is no doubt, but God can make unnaturall Apparitions: But

that he does it so often, as men need to feare such things, more than they feare the stay, or

change, of the course of Nature, which he also can stay, and change, is no point of Christian

faith. But evill men under pretext that God can do any thing, are so bold as to say any thing

when it serves their turn, though they think it untrue; It is the part of a wise man, to believe

them no further, than right reason makes that which they say, appear credible. If this

superstitious fear of Spirits were taken away, and with it, Prognostiques from Dreams, false

Prophecies, and many other things depending thereon, by which, crafty ambitious persons

abuse the simple people, men would be much more fitted than they are for civill Obedience.

And this ought to be the work of the Schooles: but they rather nourish such doctrine. For (not

knowing what Imagination, or the Senses are), what they receive, they teach: some saying,

that Imaginations rise of themselves, and have no cause: Others that they rise most commonly

from the Will; and that Good thoughts are blown (inspired) into a man, by God; and Evill

thoughts by the Divell: or that Good thoughts are powred (infused) into a man, by God, and

Evill ones by the Divell. Some say the Senses receive the Species of things, and deliver them

to the Common-sense; and the Common Sense delivers them over to the Fancy, and the Fancy

to the Memory, and the Memory to the Judgement, like handing of things from one to another,

with many words making nothing understood.


The Imagination that is raysed in man (or any other creature indued with the faculty of

imagining) by words, or other voluntary signes, is that we generally call Understanding; and is common to Man and Beast. For a dogge by custome will understand the call, or the rating of

his Master; and so will many other Beasts. That Understanding which is peculiar to man, is the

Understanding not onely his will; but his conceptions and thoughts, by the sequell and

contexture of the names of things into Affirmations, Negations, and other formes of Speech:

And of this kinde of Understanding I shall speak hereafter.


Of the Consequence or TRAYNE of Imaginations.

BY Consequence, or TRAYNE of Thoughts, I understand that succession of one Thought to

another, which is called (to distinguish it from Discourse in words) Mentall Discourse.

When a man thinketh on any thing whatsoever, His next Thought after, is not altogether so

casuall as it seems to be. Not every Thought to every Thought succeeds indifferently. But as

wee have no Imagination, whereof we have not formerly had Sense, in whole, or in parts; so

we have no Transition from one Imagination to another, whereof we never had the like before

in our Senses. The reason whereof is this. All Fancies are Motions within us, reliques of those

made in the Sense: And those motions that immediately succeeded one another in the sense,

continue also together after Sense: In so much as the former comming again to take place,

and be prædominant, the later followeth, by coherence of the matter moved, in such manner,

as water upon a plain Table is drawn which way any one part of it is guided by the finger. But

because in sense, to one and the same thing perceived, sometimes one thing, sometimes

another succeedeth, it comes to passe in time, that in the Imagining of any thing, there is no

certainty what we shall Imagine next; Onely this is certain, it shall be something that

succeeded the same before, at one time or another.

Trayne of Thoughts unguided.

This Trayne of Thoughts, or Mentall Discourse, is of two sorts. The first is Unguided, without

Designe, and inconstant; Wherein there is no Passionate Thought, to govern and direct those

that follow, to it self, as the end and scope of some desire, or other passion: In which case the

thoughts are said to wander, and seem impertinent one to another, as in a Dream. Such are

Commonly the thoughts of men, that are not onely without company, but also without care of

any thing; though even then their Thoughts are as busie as at other times, but without

harmony; as the sound which a Lute out of tune would yeeld to any man; or in tune, to one

that could not play. And yet in this wild ranging of the mind, a man may oft-times perceive the

way of it, and the dependance of one thought upon another. For in a Discourse of our present

civill warre, what could seem more impertinent, than to ask (as one did) what was the value of

a Roman Penny? Yet the Cohærence to me was manifest enough. For the Thought of the warre,

introduced the Thought of the delivering up the King to his Enemies; The Thought of that,

brought in the Thought of the delivering up of Christ; and that again the Thought of the 30

pence, which was the price of that treason: and thence easily followed that malicious question;

and all this in a moment of time; for Thought is quick.

Trayne of Thoughts regulated.

The second is more constant; as being regulated by some desire, and designe. For the

impression made by such things as wee desire, or feare, is strong, and permanent, or, (if it

cease for a time,) of quick return: so strong it is sometimes, as to hinder and break our sleep.

From Desire, ariseth the Thought of some means we have seen produce the like of that which

we ayme at; and from the thought of that, the thought of means to that mean; and so

continually, till we come to some beginning within our own power. And because the End, by

the greatnesse of the impression, comes often to mind, in case our thoughts begin to wander,

they are quickly again reduced into the way: which observed by one of the seven wise men,

made him give men this præcept, which is now worne out, Respice finem; this is to say, in all your actions, look often upon what you would have, as the thing that directs all your thoughts

in the way to attain it.


The Trayn of regulated Thoughts is of two kinds; One, when of an effect imagined, wee seek

the causes, or means that produce it: and this is common to Man and Beast. The other is,

when imagining any thing whatsoever, wee seek all the possible effects, that can by it be

produced; that is to say, we imagine what we can do with it, when wee have it. Of which I

have not at any time seen any signe, but in man onely; for this is a curiosity hardly incident to

the nature of any living creature that has no other Passion but sensuall, such as are hunger,

thirst, lust, and anger. In summe, the Discourse of the Mind, when it is governed by designe, is

nothing but Seeking, or the faculty of Invention, which the Latines call Sagacitas, and Solertia; a hunting out of the causes, of some effect, present or past; or of the effects, of some present

or past cause. Sometimes a man seeks what he hath lost; and from that place, and time,

wherein hee misses it, his mind runs back, from place to place, and time to time, to find

where, and when he had it; that is to say, to find some certain, and limited time and place, in

which to begin a method of seeking. Again, from thence, his thoughts run over the same

places and times, to find what action, or other occasion might make him lose it. This we call

Remembrance, or Calling to mind: the Latines call it Reminiscentia, as it were a Re-conning of our former actions.

Sometimes a man knows a place determinate, within the compasse whereof he is to seek; and

then his thoughts run over all the parts thereof, in the same manner, as one would sweep a

room, to find a jewell; or as a Spaniel ranges the field, till he find a sent; or as a man should

run over the Alphabet, to start a rime.


Sometime a man desires to know the event of an action; and then he thinketh of some like

action past, and the events thereof one after another; supposing like events will follow like

actions. As he that foresees what wil become of a Criminal, re-cons what he has seen follow on

the like Crime before; having this order of thoughts, The Crime, the Officer, the Prison, the

Judge, and the Gallowes. Which kind of thoughts is called Foresight, and Prudence, or Providence; and sometimes Wisdome; though such conjecture, through the difficulty of observing all circumstances, be very fallacious. But this is certain; by how much one man has

more experience of things past, than another; by so much also he is more Prudent, and his

expectations the seldomer faile him. The Present onely has a being in Nature; things Past have a being in the Memory onely, but things to come have no being at all; the Future being but a fiction of the mind, applying the sequels of actions Past, to the actions that are Present; which

with most certainty is done by him that has most Experience; but not with certainty enough.

And though it be called Prudence, when the Event answereth our Expectation; yet in its own

nature, it is but Presumption. For the foresight of things to come, which is Providence, belongs

onely to him by whose will they are to come. From him onely, and supernaturally, proceeds

Prophecy. The best Prophet naturally is the best guesser; and the best guesser, he that is most

versed and studied in the matters he guesses at: for he hath most Signes to guesse by.


A Signe, is the Event Antecedent, of the Consequent; and contrarily, the Consequent of the

Antecedent, when the like Consequences have been observed, before: And the oftner they

have been observed, the lesse uncertain is the Signe. And therefore he that has most

experience in any kind of businesse, has most Signes, whereby to guesse at the Future time;

and consequently is the most prudent: And so much more prudent than he that is new in that

kind of business, as not to be equalled by any advantage of naturall and extemporary wit:

though perhaps many young men think the contrary.

Neverthelesse it is not Prudence that distinguisheth man from beast. There be beasts, that at a

year old observe more, and pursue that which is for their good, more prudently, than a child

can do at ten.

Conjecture of the time past.

As Prudence is a Præsumtion of the Future, contracted from the Experience of time Past: So there is a Præsumtion of things Past taken from other things (not future but) past also. For he

that hath seen by what courses and degrees, a flourishing State hath first come into civil

warre, and then to ruine; upon the sight of the ruines of any other State, will guesse, the like

warre, and the like courses have been there also. But this conjecture, has the same incertainty

almost with the conjecture of the Future; both being grounded onely upon Experience.

There is no other act of mans mind, that I can remember, naturally planted in him, so, as to

need no other thing, to the exercise of it, but to be born a man, and live with the use of his

five Senses. Those other Faculties, of which I shall speak by and by, and which seem proper to

man onely, are acquired, and encreased by study and industry; and of most men learned by

instruction, and discipline; and proceed all from the invention of Words, and Speech. For

besides Sense, and Thoughts, and the Trayne of thoughts, the mind of man has no other

motion; though by the help of Speech, and Method, the same Facultyes may be improved to

such a height, as to distinguish men from all other living Creatures.

Whatsoever we imagine, is Finite. Therefore there is no Idea, or conception of any thing we call Infinite. No man can have in his mind an Image of infinite magnitude; nor conceive infinite

swiftness, infinite time, or infinite force, or infinite power. When we say any thing is infinite,

we signifie onely, that we are not able to conceive the ends, and bounds of the thing named;

having no Conception of the thing, but of our own inability. And therefore the Name of God is used, not to make us conceive him; (for he is Incomprehensible; and his greatnesse, and

power are unconceivable;) but that we may honour him. Also because whatsoever (as I said

before,) we conceive, has been perceived first by sense, either all at once, or by parts; a man

can have no thought, representing any thing, not subject to sense. No man therefore can

conceive any thing, but he must conceive it in some place; and indued with some determinate