Howard Warrender (ed.), The Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes, Vol. 2: De Cive: The Latin Version

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To his most learned and good friend Samuel Sorbière, Pierre Gassendi sends greetings.

I have received the note, which you sent me from Calais, when you were about to set sail. There was no need to apologize for not having taken leave of me in person; for our excellent friend Martel2 sufficiently made clear how unexpected was the occasion of your departure, and how none the less you had looked for me, but I was not at home. What you add, however, that you were able, before you left, to obtain from the excellent Hobbes that copy of his book the De Cive, to which he in his own hand has added notes in the margins, so that when you arrive where I wish you a safe journey, you may have it reissued—that gave special pleasure. Obviously so few copies of the book were printed, that they produced rather than satisfied a thirst for it; since indeed I see many who eagerly seek the book, but without success. The book is truly uncommon, and worthy of being handled by all who are sensible of higher things; nor (if I set aside those parts which pertain to religion,3 in which we are ἑτερόδοξοι‎ [of different beliefs]), do I know of any writer who examines an argument more deeply than he. Is there any chance indeed that you might also likewise have got the other things with which he has dealt? For by bringing them to light, you would have bestowed a great blessing on the whole nation of those who take philosophy seriously; since I indeed know no one who in his philosophical work is more free from prejudice, or who looks more deeply into what he has published. But in truth you know the man well enough; and it would be pointless, if anything further were to be added in his praise.

Farewell, and convey my salutations to our good friends, especially Curcellius [de Courcelles], Heereboordius [Heereboord], Bornius [Born],4 and others.

Paris, 28 April 1646.


2 Probably Thomas de Martel, a member of Mersenne's circle and a friend of Hobbes.

3 As Sortais remarks, the manuscript of Gassendi's letter at this point reads 'Religionem chatolicam' with the word 'chatolicam' written above the line. Unless this was added later, therefore, Gassendi intended a more specific reference to the Catholic religion, but Sorbière omitted the word in his publication of the letter at the beginning of De Cive (L3). (Cf. G. Sortais, La Philosophie moderne —depuis Bacon jusqu'à Leibniz, 2nd edn. Paris 1922, vol. II, p. 215 n. 3.)

4 Étienne de Courcelles (1586–1659); of French Protestant background, became an Arminian minister at Amsterdam; author of Opera theologica, published Amsterdam 1675. Adrian Heereboord (1614–59); professor of philosophy at the University of Leyden. Henry Born (floruit c.1645) studied philosophy at Utrecht; for a period a fervent admirer of Gassendi and corresponded with him. (Cf. Sortais, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 242–4.)

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