The life of Mr. Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury written by himself in a Latine poem, and now translated into English.
Hobbes, Thomas, 1588-1679.
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THE LIFE OF Mr. Thomas Hobbes OF MALMESBURY.
IN Fifteen hundred eighty eight, Old Style,
When that Armada did invade our Isle,
Call'd the Invincible; whose Freight was then,
Nothing but Murd'ring Steel, and Murd'ring Men;
Most of which Navy was disperst, or lost,
And had the Fate to Perish on our Coast:
April the fifth (though now with Age outworn)
I'th' early Spring, I, a poor worm, was born.
In Malmesbury Baptiz'd, and Named there
By my own Father, then a Minister.
Many things worth relating had this Town;
And first, a Monastery of Renown,
And Castle, or two rather it may seem,
On a Hill seated, with a double Stream
Page 2Almost environ'd, from whence still are sent
Two Burgesses to sit in Parliament.
Here lie the Bones of Noble Athelstane,
Whose Stone-Effigies does there remain;
Who for reward gave them the Neighbouring Plains,
Which he had moistned with the Blood of Danes.
Here was the Roman Muse by Adelm brought,
Here also the first Latin Schole was taught.
My Native place I'm not asham'd to own;
Th'ill Times, and Ills born with me, I bemoan:
For Fame had rumour'd, that a Fleet at Sea,
Wou'd cause our Nations Catastrophe;
And hereupon it was my Mother Dear
Did bring forth Twins at once, both Me, and Fear.
For this, my Countries Foes I e'r did hate,
With calm Peace and my Muse associate.
Did Learn to speak Four Languages, to write
And read them too, which was my sole delight.
Six years i'th' Greek and Latin Tongue I spent,
And at Fourteen I was to Oxford sent;
And there of Magd'len-Hall admitted, I
My self to Logick first did then apply,
And sedulously I my Tutor heard,
Who Gravely Read, althou' he had no Beard.
Page 3Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferio, Baralypton,
These Modes hath the first Figure; then goes on
Caesare, Camestres, Festino, Baroco, Darapti,
This hath of Modes the same variety.
Felapton, Disamis, Datisi, Bocardo, Ferison,
These just so many Modes are look'd upon.
Which I, tho' slowly Learn, and then dispense
With them, and prove things after my own sense.
Then Physicks read, and my Tutor Display'd,
How all Things were of Form and Matter made.
The Aëry Particles which make Forms we see,
Both Visible and Audible, to be
Th'Effects of Sympathy, Antipathy.
And many things above my reach Taught me.
Therefore more pleasant studies I then sought,
Which I was formerly, tho' not well Taught.
My Phancie and my Mind divert I do,
With Maps Celestial and Terrestrial too.
Rejoyce t'accompany Sol cloath'd with Rays,
Know by what Art he measures out our Days;
How Drake and Cavendish a Girdle made
Quite round the World, what Climates they survey'd;
And strive to find the smaller Cells of Men.
And painted Monsters in their unknown Den.
Page 4Nay there's a Fulness in Geography;
For Nature e'r abhor'd Vacuity.
Thus in due time took I my first Degree
Of Batchelor i'th' University.
Then Oxford left; serv'd Ca'ndish known to be
A Noble and Conspicuous Family.
Our College-Rector did me Recommend,
Where I most pleasantly my Days did spend.
Thus Youth Tutor'd a Youth; for he was still
Under Command, and at his Father's will:
Serv'd him full twenty years, who prov'd to be,
Not a Lord only, but a Friend to Me.
That my Life's sweetest Comfort was, and made
My Slumbers pleasant in Nights darkest shade.
Thus I at Ease did Live, of Books, whilst he
Did with all sorts supply my Library.
Then I our own Historians did peruse,
Greek, Latin, and Convers'd too with my Muse.
Homer and Virgil, Horace, Sophocles,
Plautus, Euripides, Aristophanes,
I understood, nay more; but of all these,
There's none that pleas'd me like Thucydides.
He says Democracy's a Foolish Thing,
Than a Republick Wiser is one King.
Page 5This Author I taught English, that even he
A Guide to Rhetoricians might be.
To Forrain Countries at that time did I
Travel, saw France, Italy, Germany.
This Debonaire Lord th' Earl of Devonshire,
I serv'd complete the space of twenty year.
His Life by Sickness Conquer'd, fled away,
T'exchange it for a better the last day.
But yet provided ere he di'd for me,
Who liv'd with little most contentedly.
I left my pleasant Mansion, went away
To Paris, and there eighteen Months did stay,
Thence to be Tutor I'm cal'd back agen,
To my Lord's Son, the Earl of Devon then.
This Noble Lord I did instruct when young,
Both how to Speak and Write the Roman Tongue;
And by what Arts the Rhetor deceives those
That are Illiterate; taught him Verse and Prose;
The Mathematick Precepts too, with all
The Windings in the Globe Terrestrial;
The whole Design of Law, and how he must
Judge between that which Equal is and Just.
Seven years to him these Arts I did Explain:
He quickly Learnt, and firmly did retain.
Page 6We spent not all this time in Books alone,
Unless you'l take the World for to be one;
Travel'd through Italy and France, did view
The sweet Retirements of Savoy too.
Whether on Horse, in Coach, or Ship, still I
Was most Intent on my Philosophy.
One only thing i'th' World seem'd true to me,
Tho' several ways that Falsified be.
One only True Thing, the Basis of all
Those Things whereby we any Thing do call.
How Sleep does fly away, and what things still
By Opticks I can Multiply at will.
Phancie's Internal, th'Issue of our Brain,
Th'internal parts only Motion contain:
And he that studies Physicks first must know
What Motion is, and what Motion can do.
To Matter, Motion, I my self apply,
And thus I spend my Time in Italy.
I scribbled nothing o'er, nor then e'r wrought;
I ever had a Mistriss that me taught.
Then leaving Italy, return we do
To Paris, and its stately Fabricks view.
Here with Mersennus I acquainted grew,
Shew'd him of Motion what I ever knew.
Page 7He both Prais'd and Approv'd it, and so, Sir,
I was Reputed a Philosopher.
Eight Months elaps'd, I return'd, and thought good
For to Connect what e'r I understood.
That Principles at second hand more clear,
By their Concatenation might appear.
To various Matter various Motion brings
Me, and the different Species of Things.
Man's inward Motions and his Thoughts to know,
The good of Government, and Justice too,
These were my Studies then, and in these three
Consists the whole Course of Philosophy.
Man, Body, Citizen, for there I do
Heap Matter up, designing three Books too.
I'th' interim breaks forth a horrid War,
Injurious to my Study, and a Bar.
In the year sixteen hundred forty, then
Brake out a Sickness, whereof many Men
Of Learning, languishing, gave up their breath
At last, and yielded to impartial death.
Wherewith when seized, he reputed was
The Man that knew Divine and Humane Laws.
The War's now hot, I dread to see it so,
Therefore to Paris well-belov'd, I go.
Page 8Two years elaps'd, I published in Print
My Book de Cive; the new Matter in't
Gratifi'd Learned Men, which was the Cause
It was Translated, and with great Applause
By several Nations, and great Scholars read,
So that my Name was Famous, and far spread.
England in her sad Pangs of War, and those
Commend it too, whom I do most oppose.
But what's disadvantageous now, who wou'd,
Though it be Just, ever esteem it Good?
Then I four years spent to contrive which way
To Pen my Book de Corpore, Night and Day;
Compare together each Corporeal Thing,
Think whence the known changes of Forms do spring.
Inquire how I compel this Proteus may,
His Cheats and Artifices to Display.
About this time Mersennus was (by Name)
A Friar Minorite, yet of Great Fame,
Learned, Wise, Good, whose single Cell might be
Prefer'd before an University.
To him all Persons brought what e'r they found
By Learning, if new Principle, or Ground,
In clear and proper Phrase, without the Dress
Of Gawdy Rhet'rick, Pride, Deceitfulness.
Page 9Which he imparts to th' Learned, who might there
Discuss them, or at leisure, any where.
Publish'd some Rare Inventions, to the Fame
Of their own Author, with each Authors Name.
About Mersennus, like an Axis, here
Each Star wheel'd round, as in its Orb or Sphere.
England, Scotland, and Ireland was the Stage
Of Civil War, and with its four years Rage,
Harras'd and wasted was; Perfidious Fate
Exil'd the Good, and Help'd the Profligate.
Nay, Charles, the Kingdom's Heir, attended then,
By a Retinue of Brave, Noble Men,
To Paris came, in hope Times might amend,
And Popular Fury once be at an end.
My Book de Corpore then I design'd
To write, all things being ready to my Mind.
But must desist: such Crimes and Sufferings I
Will not impute unto the Deity.
First I resolv'd Divine Laws to fulfil;
This by Degrees, and carefully I will.
My Prince's studies I then waited on,
But cou'd not constantly attend my own.
Then for six Months was sick; but yet at length,
Though very weak, I did recover strength,
Page 10And finish'd it in my own Mother-Tongue,
To be read for the good of old and young.
The Book at London Printed was, and thence,
Hath visited the Neighbouring Nations since;
Was Read by many a Great and Learned Man,
Known by its dreadful Name, LEVIATHAN.
This Book Contended with all Kings, and they
By any Title, who bear Royal sway.
In the mean time the King's sold by the Scot,
Murder'd by th'English, an Eternal Blot.
King Charles at Paris who did then reside,
Had right to England's Scepter undeny'd.
A Rebel Rou• the Kingdom kept in aw,
And rul'd the Giddy Rabble without Law,
Who boldly Parliament themselves did call,
Though but a poor handful of men in all.
Blood-thirsty Leeches, hating all that's good,
Glutted with Innocent and Noble Blood.
Down go the Miters, neither do we see
That they Establish the Presbytery.
Th' Ambition of the stateliest Clergie-Men,
Did not at all prevail in England then.
Hence many Scholars to the King did go,
Expel'd, Sad, Indigent, Burthensome too.
Page 11As yet my Studies undisturbed were,
And my Grand Climacterick past one year.
When that Book was perus'd by knowing Men,
The Gates of Janus Temple opened then;
And they accus'd me to the King, that I
Seem'd to approve Cromwel's Impiety,
And Countenance the worst of Wickedness:
This was believ'd, and I appear'd no less
Than a Grand Enemy, so that I was for't
Banish'd both the King's Presence and his Court.
Then I began on this to Ruminate
On Dorislaus, and on Ascham's Fate.
And stood amazed, like a poor Exile,
Encompassed with Terrour all the while.
Nor cou'd I blame th'young King for his Assent
To those Intrusted with his Government.
Then home I came, not sure of safety there,
Though I cou'd not be safer any where.
Th'Wind, Frost, Snow sharp, with Age grown gray,
A plunging Beast, and most unpleasant way.
At London, lest I should appear a Spy,
Unto the State my self I did apply;
That done, I quietly retired to
Follow my Study, as I us'd to do.
Page 12A Parliament so cal'd did Govern here;
There was no Prelate then, nor Presbyter.
Nothing but Arms and Souldiers, one alone
Design'd to Rule, and Cromwel was that one.
What Royalist can there, or Man alive,
Blame my Defence o'th' Kings Prerogative?
All Men did scribble what they wou'd, Content
And yielding to the present Government.
My Book de Corpore through this Liberty
I wrote, which prov'd a constant War to me.
The Clergy at Leviathan repines,
And both of them oppos'd were by Divines.
For whilst I did inveigh 'gainst Papal Pride,
These, though Prohibited, were not deny'd
T'appear in Print: 'gainst my Leviathan
They rail, which made it read by many a man,
And did confirm't the more; 'tis hop'd by me,
That it will last to all Eternity.
'Twill be the Rule of Justice, and severe
Reproof of those that Men Ambitious are.
The King's Defence and Guard, the peoples Good,
And satisfaction, read, and understood.
I, two years after, Print a Book to show
How every Reader may himself well know.
Page 13Where I Teach Ethicks, the Phantomes of Sense,
How th'Wise with Spectres, fearless may dispense.
Publish'd my Book de Corpore withal,
Whose Matter's wholly Geometrical.
With great Applause the Algebrists then read
Wallis his Algebra now Published,
A Hundred years that Geometrick Pest
Ago began, which did that Age Infest.
The Art of finding out the Numbers sought,
Which Diophantus once, and Gheber Taught:
And then Vieta tells you that by this,
Each Geometrick Problem solved is
Savil the Oxford Reader did supply
Wallis with Principles Noble and High,
That Infinite had end, and Finite shou'd
Have parts, but yet those without end allow'd.
Both which Opinions did Enrage and Scare
All those who Geometricasters were.
This was enough to set me Writing, who
Was then in years no less than Seaventy two,
And in Six Dialogues I do Inveigh
Against that new and Geometrick way,
But to no purpose, Great Men it doth please,
And thus the Med'cine yields to the Disease.
Page 14I Printed then two Treatises that stung
The Bishop Bramhal, in our Mother-Tongue.
The Question at that Time was, and is still,
Whether at God's, or our own Choice We Will.
And this was the Result proceeding thence,
He the Schools follow'd, I made use of Sense.
Six Problems, not long after, Publish'd I,
A Tract but small, yet pure Philosophy.
Wherein I Teach how Nature does cast down
All weighty Bodies, and huge massy Stone:
How Vapors are exhaled by the Sun;
How Winds engender Cold, when that is done:
The Reason of their Levity, and how
The Barren Clouds do hang on Heaven's Brow;
How move, and when that they are pregnant grown
With Moisture, do in violent Showers pour down.
By what Cement hard Matter is conjoyn'd,
And how Hard Things grow Soft, the Cause do find:
Whence Lightning, Snow, Ice do proceed, and Thunder,
Breaking through wat'ry Clouds, even to wonder:
How Loadstones Iron attract: how, and which way
They th' Arctick and Antarctick Poles obey.
Why from the Sea unequal Waves do glide,
I'th' Year, or Month, each Day a double Tide;
Page 15And why a Ship doth Sail against the Wind,
In that small Treatise all these things you find,
Which may in time tread with applause the Stage,
As yet unblam'd in such a Carping Age.
The Nature of the Air I do discry
In a small Volume; and most pithily,
Compos'd on purpose for to obviate
An Inanifick Machin form'd of late.
Then, leaving Physicks, I return again
To my Beloved Mathematick strain:
For now the Barb'rous, Bloody Enemy
Had left the place, where my Estate did ly.
The Truth I cou'd not Teach; for none but Foole
May hope t'Instruct in their declaming Schools.
Another Book of Principles I Print,
Nothing cou'd be more clear than what was in't.
Whereby the Nature of Proportion is
Explain'd so fully, none can say amiss.
Upon this Subject most agreed that I
Of every one had gain'd the Victory;
Others seem in it to find Errors store,
But they are crazy grown, and I the more
Press upon them; then do ascend the high
And lofty Summet of Geometry.
Page 16The Circles Quadrature I Publish then;
The Pythian God's Porisma Teach all Men.
By a new Method I thought to o'rcome,
Though not by the same Reasons neither, some
O'th' Former Demonstrations, but in vain.
Mathematicians Half-Witted complain,
Who blush for to Subscribe; but I'll not lose
My Labour any longer, thinking those
Indocil Brutes will ever master Sense,
Or with good Literature ever dispense.
Then my Rosetum was put forth, which I
Stor'd with Rare Flowers of Geometry.
Wallis opposes, and I lost the day,
As both Divines and Algebrists do say.
The Army then Discamp'd, and gone, thereby
Wallis of nothing thinks, but Victory;
Who having chosen an unpleasant Field,
Which Thick and Troublesome deep Roots did yield,
Liking the Combat, I turn, scatter quite
All in a moment, Numbers Infinite.
These were my Wars; what more have I to say?
How Rich am I, that is, how wise, I pray?
No matter for my Money or my Land;
If any ask that, let him understand,
Page 17A small parcel of Ground I had to show,
My own Inheritance, and let him know,
That This I on my Brother did bestow:
Of small Extent, but a most Fertil Ground,
Which did with store of bladed Wheat abound
Fit for a Prince; and had not ev'ry thing
Run cross, I had been counted a great King.
When I the Civil War approaching find,
And people led by every breath of wind,
I sought than this a more commodious place
To live and study in, and that Paris was.
Stock'd with five hundred pounds of Coin before
I did desert, or leave my Native Shore;
To these two hundred added, but withal,
A Weighty Lasting Grief did me befal.
(Thou'rt Dead, Godolphin, who lov'dst Reason, true
Justice and Peace, Soldier Belov'd, Adieu)
Twice forty pounds, a yearly Pension, then
I from my own Country receiv'd; and when
King Charles restored was, a hundred more
Was allow'd me out of his private Store.
A Noble Gift: I slight Reproaches, when
I know I'm Good, from other Black-mouth'd Men.
Page 18Content with this, desire no more Pelf;
Who but a Mad-man lives beneath himself?
Let my Estate by yours Computed be,
And greater seem; if not, it's enough for me.
My Sums are small, and yet live happy so,
Richer than Croesus far, and Crassus too.
Verdusius, thou know'st my Temper well,
And those who read my Works, and with thee dwell.
My Life and Writings speak one Congruous Sense;
Justice I Teach, and Justice Reverence.
None but the Covetous we Wicked call,
For Avarice can do no good at all.
I've now Compleated my Eighty fourth year,
And Death approaching, prompts me not to fear.