Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

him,

tained, the same is to be implicitly obeyed. This was very acceptable doctrine to Cromwell, who then filled the throne, but without the title of king. Lord Clarendon, who was very intimate with Hobbes, says, that he was shewn by the author some sheets of it at Paris. On his asking

why he would publish doctrine of that nature at such a time;" Hobbes replied, that he was weary of living abroad, and therefore intended to publish this book, that he might obtain leave to visit his own country.

In a letter to Dean Barwick, dated Brussels, 25th July, 1659, his lordship writes thus~

" I hope it is only modesty in Mr. Wren,* that makes him pause upon undertaking the work you have recommended to him: for, I dare swear, by what I have seen of his he is very equal to answer every part of it: I mean, every part that requires an answer. Nor is there need of a professed divine to vindicate the creation from making man a veryer beast than any of those of the field; or to vindicate scripture from his licentious interpretation. I dare say he will find somewhat in Mr. Hobbes himself, I mean in his former books, that contradicts what he sets forth in this,

* Matthew Wren (son of the Bishop of Ely, who was confined in the Tower near twenty years). He was of the university of Cambridge, but, during the usurpation he studied at Oxford. On the restoration he becaine Secretary to Lord Clarendon; and, after bis fall, to the Duke of York. He d ed ili 1672.

in that part, in which he takes himself to be the most exact, his beloved philosophy. And sure there is somewhat due to Aristotle, and Tully, and to our universities, to free them from his reproaches; and it is high time, if what I hear be true, that some tutors read his Leviathan, instead of the others, to their pupils. Mr. Hobbes is

my old friend; yet I cannot absolve bim from the mischief he hath done to the king, the church, the laws, and the nation: and surely there should be enough to be said to the politicks of that man, who having resolved all religion, wisdom, and honesty, into an implicit obedience to the laws established, writes a book of policy, which I may be bold to say, must be by the established laws of any kingdom or province in Europe, condemned for impious and seditious; and therefore it will be very hard, if the fundamentals of it be not to be overthrown."*

The noble writer of this letter, afterwards published an excellent confutation of the political doctrines of Hobbes's book, in a quarto volume, entituled, “A Brief View and Survey of Mr. Hobbes Leviathan.” Several other persons attacked the philosopher, but the keenest writer against him was Dr. John Eachard, of Catherine-Hall, Cambridge, who turned all his own arguments against him, in two dialogues, between Timothy and

[ocr errors]

* Lise of Dr. John Barwick, Dean of St. Paul's, in the Appendix. p. 450. 1724, 8vo. 1

Philautus.

Philautus. Of Dr. Eachard's performance Dry. den in his life of Lụcian gives this account. “The

way

which Lucian chose of delivering these profitable and pleasant truths, was that of dialogue. A choice worthy of the author, happily followed by Erasmus and Fontenelle particularly, to whom I may justly add a triumvir of our own, the reverend, ingenious, and learned Dr. Eachard, who by using the same method and the same ingredients of raillery and reason, has more baffled the philosopher of Malinsbury, than those who assaulted him with blunt heavy arguments drawn from orthodox divinity: for Hobbes foresaw where those strokes would fall, and leapt aside before they could descend; but he could not avoid those ninable

passes which were made on him, by a wit more active than his own, and which were with in his body before he could provide for his defence.”

It has been said that Charles the second discharged Hobbes from his service for writing this book, and would not admit him into his presence; but this is false, for the king was in the main a

* Dean Swift, who seems to have made considerable use of Eachard's works, used to say that though the author was a very witty writer, he was very stupid in conversation. But the assertion of Swift will hardly pass for current among those who consider his character with impartiality. Eachard was highly esteemed in the University, and particularly in the College, over which he presided for his pleasantry and good nature, qualities which the dean of St. Patrick unfortunately never possessed. His humour was of another cast,

Hobbist

Hobbist himself, and had his picture done by Cooper the miniature painter, which he kept in his closet. He also settled a pension of one hundred pounds a year upon his old tutor after the Restoration. During the coutroversy between Hobbes and his antagonists, mathematicians, politicians, and divines, Charles compared him to a bear, against whom they turned out dogs by way of sport and exercise.

The sceptical principles of Hobbes were very agreeable to that licentious court, and the witty but profligate Earl of Rochester complained on his death bed of the mischief which Hobbes's principles had done him and many others who were ruined by them.

Dr. Wallis, the mathematician, who had completely demonstrated Hobbes's ignorance as a geometrician, relates the following anecdote in a letter to Mr. afterwards archbishop, Tenison.

“Dr. Gerard Langbaine then provost of Queen's College, Oxon, a great friend of Mr. Selden's and a good man, who was with him in his sickness and at his death, wrote me a letter on the occasion containing divers serious things said by Mr. Selden to him in that sickness; and told me particularly that Mr. Hobbes coming to give Mr. Selden a visit, Mr. Selden would not admit him, but answered No Hobbes, no atheist ; and of whom I hear that Mr. Hobbes's censure was that he [Mr. Selden] lived like a wise man and died like a fool."

Hobbes

T

Hobbes had such a conceit of his mathematicial learning that be pretended to have discovered the quadrature of the circle, and though his pretended demonstrations were all proved false by the ablest professors of that science in his time, he defended them with a most obstinate pertinacity and in the most scurrilous abuse of his opponents. Of this Dr. Wallis gives this account.

“Now when so many hundred paralogisms and false propositions have been shewed him in his mathematics by those who have written against him, and that so evidently that no one mathematician at home or abroad (no not those of his intimate friends) have been found to justify him in any one of them, which makes him somewhere say of himself Aut ego solus insanio aut solus non insanis ; he hath been yet so stupid (to use his word) as to persist in them; particularly he hath first and last given us near twenty quadratures of the circle, of which some few, though false have been coincident (which therefore I repute for the same only differently disguised) but more than a dozen of them are such, as no two of them are consistent, and yet he would have them thought to be all true. Now either he thought so himself (and then you must take him to be a person of a very shallow capacity, and not such a man of reason as he would be thought to be) or else knowing them to be false was obstinately resolved (notwithstanding) to maintain them as true ; and he must then be a person of

no

« PreviousContinue »