Henry Oldenburg

Noel Malcolm (ed.), The Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes, Vol. 6: The Correspondence, Vol. 1: 1622–1659

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pg 211 letter 736 [/16] june 1655Henry Oldenburg to Hobbes

R.Soc. MS MM 1 Oldenburg, 'Liber epistolaris', fo. 6 (autograph copy).

Printed in OC i, pp. 74–5.

To my most honored friend Mr. T. Hobs.

As I found no trouble at all in ye reading of yr hand, wch in ye close of yr letter you seemed to apprehend, I might, so I hope, you will find none in the receaving of these my thanks, wch I was bound to send you for yr favor. Giue me leave, to adde to ym, [here deleted] yt my friends1 question did not at all call in question the use of ye Mathematiques, but supposing yt as granted and vnquestionable, desireth only a direction to such authors, as haue written of their uses particularly; For, ye benefit of a science [being deleted] knowne not only in grosse, but also by retaile and in parcels, moue ye mind to a more eager and vigorous pursuit of acquiring ye same. Neither have all men yt felicity of nature, as to invent much to things already invented, but many are glad to take from ye pregnancy of others, and breed it vp in stead of their owne issue. Low men must climbe vp to ye shoulders off ye tall, if they will see a farre off. Neither is the question made for any use of trade, but of enriching and entertaining ye mind, both wth ye theory and the particular knowledge of ye use of yt theory. These two joined together cannot but procure indeed ye end of all things, you mention, pleasure; seing this demonstratif knowledge stayeth and satisfieth the mind as much as food doth an hungry stomach: and the same diffusing itself through and to ye good of all ye parts of ye body politique, as good meat well concocted doth to all ye limmes of ye body naturall, [& deleted] must needs beget ye greatest contentmt yt any sublunary thing can doe. The only desire of my questionist was, and is still, to know ye best authors, yt haue specified those uses, wch he hath only a general knowledge off. That looking-glasse, you sent me among ye rest, is a very excellent one, and I should think is the compleatest of any, yt euer I saw, if besides those things, you mention, and the secrets of nature, it might shew one secret more, wch is about ye state of man after this life. This I judge a secret of yt weight yt, if we were [once]2 resolued and established in it, we should enjoy ourselves wth much more setlednes and security, yn now we doe. But I dare not digresse into this point for fear of troubling you. I shall therefore end wth repeating my former pg 212intreaty, yt, if a second letter inconuenience you not, you would fauor us wth ye culling out of such authors, and send their names; wth is a thing, you will oblige my friend and self very much in, who both doe value yr knowledge, and honor yr worth, as I in particular rest,

  • Yr humble and obliged servt
  • H.O.

A. 1655. jun. 6.

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Editor’s Note
1 The editors of OC suggest that this may have been Robert Boyle, who has a section on the usefulness of mathematics in his book The Usefulnesse of Experimental Naturall Philosophy (1663), on which he was already working at this time. See also the Biographical Register, 'Oldenburg'.
Editor’s Note
2 one MS.
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