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posed upon him, and which he undertook with reluctance. “ For (says he) I wished more than life, that for the public's sake, my theme could rather have been the prosperity of these nations, the honour and happiness of the king, and such a blessed condition of both, as might have reached all the ends for which government was first ordained in the world.” The full title is, “The History of the Parliament of England, which began November 3, 1640, with a short and necessary View of some precedent Years : written by Thomas May, Esq. secretary for the parliament; published by authority';" folio, 1847. To this first edition is prefixed a preface (never reprinted) in which the following passage deserves transcription, as it explains the situation of the author at the commencement of the civil wars, as likewise his means of information.
That (says he) which of all other is most likely to be differently related, is concerning the actions of war and soldiery; and in the time of this war it is a thing of extraordinary difficulty, I might say, of impossibility, for those of one party to be truly informed of all the councils, or very performances and actions of commanders and soldiers on the other side,
profound, and luminous, had appeared prior to his time. He had evidently found out the right method of conducting philosophical en -quiries. In the examination of any complicated and difficult question, his first aim is to detect the primary cause of any series of effects—to disentangle it from all adventitious circumstances, and then to pursue it into all its various ramifications of consequences. In my opinion, he is a better reasoner than Locke. He has not the endless tautology of that philosopher. Locke has no sooner a good idea, than he turns, and twists, and views it in all possible lights ; he becomes so enamoured of it, that it is with great reluctance he suffers it to escape from his embraces. In all enquiries relative to the moral class of objects, especially in metaphysics, where a principle is often to be proved more by clearness of perception and of statement, than by an accumulation of particulars, if we have once succeeded in presenting an idea in a'light in which it can be distinctly apprehended-a single statement is better than a thousand. Nay, in elementary works, even in experimental philosophy, a few clear and decisive experiments are preferable to a multitude; and for a very
obvious reason-because they can be more easily remembered. In the application too of new facts, something may be fairly left to the ingenuity of the student.
The political principles of Hobbes unfortunately lead to despotism ; and may be thus
i summarily stated :The first object of civil society is security.; security can be enjoyed only where there is peace; peace cannot be maintained without dominion; dominion cannot be supported without arms; and even arms will prove a weak defence, unless wielded by a single arm; which, nevertheless, will be impotent to restrain dişcord in those who are actuated by the dread of an evil greater than death itself,
A very admissible excuse, however, may be found for him in the circumstances of his condition, both personal and political. Hobbes was timid by nature ; and he lived in the time of the civil wars, when all was tumult and uproar. From his studious habits, as well as from his constitutional temperament, he was fond of calmness and of peace, for which he thought we could never pay too dear. Besides, notwithstanding his natural timidity, he well kney
that he had broached opinions bold, far beyond the average sentiments of the age. He was aware, too, that the clergy had not quite forgotten their old games of fire and faggot, and that they might one day make a bonfire of him; and he would very wisely have chosen to turn Turk rather than martyr, and bave submitted to the sacred rite of circumcision in preference to being burnt alive. His terror was so great and so habitual, that he would never suffer himself to be left alone in the house of the earl of Devonshire; but when the family moved, would always go with them. He was thus removed on his deathbed, from Chatsworth to Hardwick.
Hobbes, it is said, was never a great reader. If we consider his intellectual superiority, and the great age to which he lived, he had read little. On this subject he was accustomed to say, “If I had read as much as other people, I should have been as ignorant as they."
On account of the freedom of his creed, the memory of Hobbes has been much traduced and blackened by the malicious misrepresentations of bigotry. In respect of theology, he
acknowledged a belief in a supreme intelligence; but said, that he thought too reverend. ly of him to believe his nature could be comprehended by human understanding. After establishing a due reverence for this great being, whose mysterious operation pervades, directs, and animates all nature, he thought, that men may be much better employed in discharging their social and civil duties, than in idle speculations on subjects which have no relation to this life. Of this conduct he himself furnished an example. He had a warm interest in the welfare of his country, was con• scientiously faithful in his friendships, beneficent to his kindred, and benevolent to all. He had, however, his faults as well as other men. He was so tenacious of his opinions, particularly at last, when indeed it was most venial, that he could not easily brook contradiction. Whenever any persons, curious of seeing him, were introduced by the earl, he stipulated as a preliminary, that they should not contradict the old man. His moral charac. ter, as given by lord Clarendon, ought not to be omitted. “Mr. Hobbes (says he) is one of the most ancient acquaintance I have in