Thomas Hobbes

Noel Malcolm (ed.), The Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes, Vol. 7: The Correspondence, Vol. 2: 1660–1679

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pg 525 letter 1463 [/13] march 1662Hobbes to Samuel Sorbière, from London

BN MS f.l. 10352, part 2, fo. 153v (transcript).

Printed in Illustrium virorum epistolae, pp. 590–1; Tönnies, 'Siebzehn Briefe', pp. 213–14.

Thomas Hobbius Samueli Sorberio. S.

Amicissime, doctissime Sorberi, Epistolarum tuarum volumen1 omni genere doctrinae refertissimum perlegi, relegi, et dum sententiam tuam auidé expecto de ijs quae nuper tibi scripsi circa experimenta Londini nuper exhibita in Collegio Greshamensi, saepius legam. Inter multa quae sparsim in libris tuis testimonia honorifica de me inuenio (nam videris mihi vbique data opera existimationem meam tueri, et promouere velle) nihil libentiùs legi quàm finem Epistolae quartae a pagina 146. ad paginam 173.2 Nam quae ibi scripsisti sufficient mihi (Si opus est Latiné versa) etiam sola responsuro ad librum quem Chymistarum quidam nostratiûm breui (vt audio) editurus est contra libellum ilium quem tibi dedicaui3 Summas ergo tibi gratias habeo, et semper habiturus sum tam insignis beneuolentiae; quam vt putes mutuam, et recté collocatam summo studio efficere conabor, vale.

  • Tui amantissimus et seruus
  • Thomas. Hobbes.

Londini 3. die mensis Martij 1661.

pg 526 Translation of Letter 146

Thomas Hobbes to his friend Samuel Sorbière.

Dearest and most learned Sorbière, I have read through and reread the book of your letters,1 which is crammed with every sort of teaching; and I shall read it more frequently while I eagerly await your opinion of those things which I wrote to you recently about the experiments at Gresham College in London. Among the many honorific references to me which I find scattered through your books (for you seem everywhere willing to labour devotedly to protect and promote my reputation), none pleased me more than the end of the fourth letter, pp. 146–73.2 For what you wrote there would alone suffice (translated into Latin, if necessary) as my reply to the book which a certain one of our chemical theorists is (as I hear) about to publish against that little book which I dedicated to you.3 So I am and always shall be immensely grateful to you for such outstanding kindness; and I shall try as hard as I can to persuade you that such kindness is well employed, and mutual. Farewell.

  • Your most loving servant,
  • Thomas Hobbes

London, 3 March 1661

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Relations, lettres.
Editor’s Note
2 In this section of his fourth letter (an account of science in Holland (ibid., pp. 103–94)), Sorbière argues that chemists perform a useful service in accumulating empirical knowledge, but that this does not qualify them to theorize about the structure of matter; 'most arguments in chemistry are very faulty: either they are meaningless, or they make ill-founded suppositions' ('la pluspart des raisonnemens Chymiques sont tres-defectueux: Car ou ils ne signifient rien du tout, ou ils supposent mal' (pp. 168–9)). However, his strictures on illogicality and jargon are directed mainly at Paracelsians, Helmontians, and cabbalists. Hobbes did in fact quote a passage (in English translation) from p. 167 of Sorbière's book in Mr. Hobbes Considered, which he published later in 1662 (pp. 52–3; EW iv, pp. 435–6).
Editor’s Note
3 The book Hobbes dedicated to Sorbière was Dialogus physicus (1661); Boyle's reply was An Examen of Mr T. Hobbes his Dialogus Physicus (1662). It was published within days of the writing of this letter: Sir Robert Moray sent a copy to Huygens on 6 [/16] Mar. 1662 (HOC iv, p. 95).
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