Of the Interior Beginnings of Voluntary Motions
Commonly Called the Passions . . .
There be in animals two sorts of motions peculiar to them: One
called vital, begun in generation, and continued without interruption
through their whole life; such as are the course of the blood, the
pulse, the breathing, the concoction, nutrition, excretion, etc.;
to which motions there needs no help of imagination: the other is
animal motion, otherwise called voluntary motion; as to go, to speak,
to move any of our limbs, in such manner as is first fancied in
our minds. . . . . And although unstudied men do not conceive any
motion at all to be there, where the thing moved is invisible, or
the space it is moved in is, for the shortness of it, insensible;
yet that doth not hinder but that such motions are. For let a space
be never so little, that which is moved over a greater space, whereof
that little one is part, must first be moved over that. These small
beginnings of motion within the body of man, before they appear
in walking, speaking, striking, and other visible actions, are commonly
This endeavour, when it is toward something which causes it, is
called appetite, or desire, the latter being the general name, and
the other oftentimes restrained to signify the desire of food, namely
hunger and thirst. And when the endeavour is from ward something,
it is generally called aversion. These words appetite and aversion
we have from the Latins; and they both of them signify the motions,
one of approaching, the other of retiring. . . .
That which men desire they are said to love, and to hate those
things for which they have aversion. So that desire and love are
the same thing; save that by desire, we signify the absence of the
object; by love, most commonly the presence of the same. So also
by aversion, we signify the absence; and by hate, the presence of
the object. . . . .
And because the constitution of a man's body is in continual mutation,
it is impossible that all the same things should always cause in
him the same appetites and aversions: much less can all men consent
in the desire of almost any one and the same object.
But whatsoever is the object of any man's appetite or desire, that
is it which he for his part calleth good; and the object of his
hate and aversion, evil; and of his contempt, vile and inconsiderable.
For these words of good, evil, and contemptible are ever used with
relation to the person that useth them: there being nothing simply
and absolutely so; nor any common rule of good and evil to be taken
from the nature of the objects themselves; but from the person of
the man, where there is no Commonwealth; or, in a Commonwealth,
from the person that representeth it; or from an arbitrator or judge,
whom men disagreeing shall by consent set up and make his sentence
the rule thereof.
The Latin tongue has two words whose significations approach to
those of good and evil, but are not precisely the same; and those
are pulchrum and turpe. Whereof the former signifies that which
by some apparent signs promiseth good; and the latter, that which
promiseth evil. But in our tongue we have not so general names to
express them by. But for pulchrum we say in some things, fair; in
others, beautiful, or handsome, or gallant, or honourable, or comely,
or amiable: and for turpe; foul, deformed, ugly, base, nauseous,
and the like, as the subject shall require; all which words, in
their proper places, signify nothing else but the mien, or countenance,
that promiseth good and evil. . . . .
Of the Difference of Manners
By manners, I mean not here decency of behaviour; as how one man
should salute another, or how a man should wash his mouth, or pick
his teeth before company, and such other points of the small morals;
but those qualities of mankind that concern their living together
in peace and unity. To which end we are to consider that the felicity
of this life consisteth not in the repose of a mind satisfied. For
there is no such finis ultimus (utmost aim) nor summum bonum (greatest
good) as is spoken of in the books of the old moral philosophers.
Nor can a man any more live whose desires are at an end than he
whose senses and imaginations are at a stand. Felicity is a continual
progress of the desire from one object to another, the attaining
of the former being still but the way to the latter. The cause whereof
is that the object of man's desire is not to enjoy once only, and
for one instant of time, but to assure forever the way of his future
desire. And therefore the voluntary actions and inclinations of
all men tend not only to the procuring, but also to the assuring
of a contented life, and differ only in the way, which ariseth partly
from the diversity of passions in diverse men, and partly from the
difference of the knowledge or opinion each one has of the causes
which produce the effect desired.
So that in the first place, I put for a general inclination of
all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of power after power,
that ceaseth only in death. And the cause of this is not always
that a man hopes for a more intensive delight than he has already
attained to, or that he cannot be content with a moderate power,
but because he cannot assure the power and means to live well, which
he hath present, without the acquisition of more. And from hence
it is that kings, whose power is greatest, turn their endeavours
to the assuring it at home by laws, or abroad by wars: and when
that is done, there succeedeth a new desire; in some, of fame from
new conquest; in others, of ease and sensual pleasure; in others,
of admiration, or being flattered for excellence in some art or
other ability of the mind.
Competition of riches, honour, command, or other power inclineth
to contention, enmity, and war, because the way of one competitor
to the attaining of his desire is to kill, subdue, supplant, or
repel the other. Particularly, competition of praise inclineth to
a reverence of antiquity. For men contend with the living, not with
the dead; to these ascribing more than due, that they may obscure
the glory of the other. . . .
Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as
Concerning their Felicity and Misery
Nature hath made men so equal in the faculties of body and mind
as that, though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger
in body or of quicker mind than another, yet when all is reckoned
together the difference between man and man is not so considerable
as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit to which
another may not pretend as well as he. For as to the strength of
body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either
by secret machination or by confederacy with others that are in
the same danger with himself.
And as to the faculties of the mind, setting aside
the arts grounded upon words, and especially that skill of proceeding
upon general and infallible rules, called science, which very few
have and but in few things, as being not a native faculty born with
us, nor attained, as prudence, while we look after somewhat else,
I find yet a greater equality amongst men than that of strength.
For prudence is but experience, which equal time equally bestows
on all men in those things they equally apply themselves unto. That
which may perhaps make such equality incredible is but a vain conceit
of one's own wisdom, which almost all men think they have in a greater
degree than the vulgar; that is, than all men but themselves, and
a few others, whom by fame, or for concurring with themselves, they
approve. For such is the nature of men that howsoever they may acknowledge
many others to be more witty, or more eloquent or more learned,
yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves;
for they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance.
But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal, than unequal.
For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution
of anything than that every man is contented with his share.
From this equality of ability ariseth equality of
hope in the attaining of our ends. And therefore if any two men
desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy,
they become enemies; and in the way to their end (which is principally
their own conservation, and sometimes their delectation only) endeavour
to destroy or subdue one another. And from hence it comes to pass
that where an invader hath no more to fear than another man's single
power, if one plant, sow, build, or possess a convenient seat, others
may probably be expected to come prepared with forces united to
dispossess and deprive him, not only of the fruit of his labour,
but also of his life or liberty. And the invader again is in the
like danger of another.
And from this diffidence of one another, there is no way for any
man to secure himself so reasonable as anticipation; that is, by
force, or wiles, to master the persons of all men he can so long
till he see no other power great enough to endanger him: and this
is no more than his own conservation requireth, and is generally
allowed. Also, because there be some that, taking pleasure in contemplating
their own power in the acts of conquest, which they pursue farther
than their security requires, if others, that otherwise would be
glad to be at ease within modest bounds, should not by invasion
increase their power, they would not be able, long time, by standing
only on their defence, to subsist. And by consequence, such augmentation
of dominion over men being necessary to a man's conservation, it
ought to be allowed him.
Again, men have no pleasure (but on the contrary a great deal of
grief) in keeping company where there is no power able to overawe
them all. For every man looketh that his companion should value
him at the same rate he sets upon himself, and upon all signs of
contempt or undervaluing naturally endeavours, as far as he dares
(which amongst them that have no common power to keep them in quiet
is far enough to make them destroy each other), to extort a greater
value from his contemners, by damage; and from others, by the example.
So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of
quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory.
The first maketh men invade for gain; the second,
for safety; and the third, for reputation. The first use violence,
to make themselves masters of other men's persons, wives, children,
and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles,
as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue,
either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred,
their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name.
Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live
without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that
condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man
against every man. For war consisteth not in battle only, or the
act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend
by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time
is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature
of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower
or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together:
so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the
known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance
to the contrary. All other time is peace.
Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every
man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein
men live without other security than what their own strength and
their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition
there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain:
and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use
of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building;
no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much
force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time;
no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual
fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary,
poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
It may seem strange to some man that has not well
weighed these things that Nature should thus dissociate and render
men apt to invade and destroy one another: and he may therefore,
not trusting to this inference, made from the passions, desire perhaps
to have the same confirmed by experience. Let him therefore consider
with himself: when taking a journey, he arms himself and seeks to
go well accompanied; when going to sleep, he locks his doors; when
even in his house he locks his chests; and this when he knows there
be laws and public officers, armed, to revenge all injuries shall
be done him; what opinion he has of his fellow subjects, when he
rides armed; of his fellow citizens, when he locks his doors; and
of his children, and servants, when he locks his chests. Does he
not there as much accuse mankind by his actions as I do by my words?
But neither of us accuse man's nature in it. The desires, and other
passions of man, are in themselves no sin. No more are the actions
that proceed from those passions till they know a law that forbids
them; which till laws be made they cannot know, nor can any law
be made till they have agreed upon the person that shall make it.
It may peradventure be thought there was never such a time nor condition
of war as this; and I believe it was never generally so, over all
the world: but there are many places where they live so now. For
the savage people in many places of America, except the government
of small families, the concord whereof dependeth on natural lust,
have no government at all, and live at this day in that brutish
manner, as I said before. Howsoever, it may be perceived what manner
of life there would be, where there were no common power to fear,
by the manner of life which men that have formerly lived under a
peaceful government use to degenerate into a civil war.
But though there had never been any time wherein particular
men were in a condition of war one against another, yet in all times
kings and persons of sovereign authority, because of their independency,
are in continual jealousies, and in the state and posture of gladiators,
having their weapons pointing, and their eyes fixed on one another;
that is, their forts, garrisons, and guns upon the frontiers of
their kingdoms, and continual spies upon their neighbours, which
is a posture of war. But because they uphold thereby the industry
of their subjects, there does not follow from it that misery which
accompanies the liberty of particular men.
To this war of every man against every man, this also
is consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right
and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where there
is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice.
Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues. Justice and
injustice are none of the faculties neither of the body nor mind.
If they were, they might be in a man that were alone in the world,
as well as his senses and passions. They are qualities that relate
to men in society, not in solitude. It is consequent also to the
same condition that there be no propriety, no dominion, no mine
and thine distinct; but only that to be every man's that he can
get, and for so long as he can keep it. And thus much for the ill
condition which man by mere nature is actually placed in; though
with a possibility to come out of it, consisting partly in the passions,
partly in his reason.
The passions that incline men to peace are: fear of
death; desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living;
and a hope by their industry to obtain them. And reason suggesteth
convenient articles of peace upon which men may be drawn to agreement.
These articles are they which otherwise are called the laws of nature,
whereof I shall speak more particularly in the two following chapters.
Of the First and Second Natual Laws,
And of Contracts
The right of nature, which writers commonly call jus naturale,
is the liberty each man hath to use his own power as he will himself
for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own
life; and consequently, of doing anything which, in his own judgement
and reason, he shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto.
By liberty is understood, according to the proper signification
of the word, the absence of external impediments; which impediments
may oft take away part of a man's power to do what he would, but
cannot hinder him from using the power left him according as his
judgement and reason shall dictate to him.
A law of nature, lex naturalis, is a precept, or general rule, found
out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive
of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same, and
to omit that by which he thinketh it may be best preserved. . .
And because the condition of man (as hath been declared in the
precedent chapter) is a condition of war of every one against every
one, in which case every one is governed by his own reason, and
there is nothing he can make use of that may not be a help unto
him in preserving his life against his enemies; it followeth that
in such a condition every man has a right to every thing, even to
one another's body. And therefore, as long as this natural right
of every man to every thing endureth, there can be no security to
any man, how strong or wise soever he be, of living out the time
which nature ordinarily alloweth men to live. And consequently it
is a precept, or general rule of reason: that every man ought to
endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when
he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages
of war. The first branch of which rule containeth the first and
fundamental law of nature, which is: to seek peace and follow it.
The second, the sum of the right of nature, which is: by all means
we can to defend ourselves.
From this fundamental law of nature, by which men are commanded
to endeavour peace, is derived this second law: that a man be willing,
when others are so too, as far forth as for peace and defence of
himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all
things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men
as he would allow other men against himself. For as long as every
man holdeth this right, of doing anything he liketh; so long are
all men in the condition of war. But if other men will not lay down
their right, as well as he, then there is no reason for anyone to
divest himself of his: for that were to expose himself to prey,
which no man is bound to, rather than to dispose himself to peace.
This is that law of the gospel: Whatsoever you require that others
should do to you, that do ye to them. . . .
Of Other Laws of Nature
FROM that law of nature by which we are obliged to transfer to
another such rights as, being retained, hinder the peace of mankind,
there followeth a third; which is this: that men perform their covenants
made; without which covenants are in vain, and but empty words;
and the right of all men to all things remaining, we are still in
the condition of war.
And in this law of nature consisteth the fountain and original
of justice. For where no covenant hath preceded, there hath no right
been transferred, and every man has right to everything and consequently,
no action can be unjust. But when a covenant is made, then to break
it is unjust and the definition of injustice is no other than the
not performance of covenant. And whatsoever is not unjust is just.
But because covenants of mutual trust, where there is a fear of
not performance on either part (as hath been said in the former
chapter), are invalid, though the original of justice be the making
of covenants, yet injustice actually there can be none till the
cause of such fear be taken away; which, while men are in the natural
condition of war, cannot be done. Therefore before the names of
just and unjust can have place, there must be some coercive power
to compel men equally to the performance of their covenants, by
the terror of some punishment greater than the benefit they expect
by the breach of their covenant, and to make good that propriety
which by mutual contract men acquire in recompense of the universal
right they abandon: and such power there is none before the erection
of a Commonwealth. And this is also to be gathered out of the ordinary
definition of justice in the Schools, for they say that justice
is the constant will of giving to every man his own. And therefore
where there is no own, that is, no propriety, there is no injustice;
and where there is no coercive power erected, that is, where there
is no Commonwealth, there is no propriety, all men having right
to all things: therefore where there is no Commonwealth, there nothing
is unjust. So that the nature of justice consisteth in keeping of
valid covenants, but the validity of covenants begins not but with
the constitution of a civil power sufficient to compel men to keep
them: and then it is also that propriety begins. . . .
[Gratitude] is the fourth law of nature, which may be conceived
in this form: that a man which receiveth benefit from another of
mere grace endeavour that he which giveth it have no reasonable
cause to repent him of his good will. For no man giveth but with
intention of good to himself, because gift is voluntary; and of
all voluntary acts, the object is to every man his own good; of
which if men see they shall be frustrated, there will be no beginning
of benevolence or trust, nor consequently of mutual help, nor of
reconciliation of one man to another; and therefore they are to
remain still in the condition of war, which is contrary to the first
and fundamental law of nature which commandeth men to seek peace.
. . .
A fifth law of nature is complaisance; that is to say, that every
man strive to accommodate himself to the rest. For the understanding
whereof we may consider that there is in men's aptness to society
a diversity of nature, rising from their diversity of affections,
not unlike to that we see in stones brought together for building
of an edifice. For as that stone which by the asperity and irregularity
of figure takes more room from others than itself fills, and for
hardness cannot be easily made plain, and thereby hindereth the
building, is by the builders cast away as unprofitable and troublesome:
so also, a man that by asperity of nature will strive to retain
those things which to himself are superfluous, and to others necessary,
and for the stubbornness of his passions cannot be corrected, is
to be left or cast out of society as cumbersome thereunto. For seeing
every man, not only by right, but also by necessity of nature, is
supposed to endeavour all he can to obtain that which is necessary
for his conservation, he that shall oppose himself against it for
things superfluous is guilty of the war that thereupon is to follow,
and therefore doth that which is contrary to the fundamental law
of nature, which commandeth to seek peace. The observers of this
law may be called sociable, (the Latins call them commodi); the
contrary, stubborn, insociable, forward, intractable.
A sixth law of nature is this: that upon caution of the future time,
a man ought to pardon the offences past of them that, repenting,
desire it. For pardon is nothing but granting of peace; which though
granted to them that persevere in their hostility, be not peace,
but fear; yet not granted to them that give caution of the future
time is sign of an aversion to peace, and therefore contrary to
the law of nature.
A seventh is: that in revenges (that is, retribution of evil for
evil), men look not at the greatness of the evil past, but the greatness
of the good to follow. Whereby we are forbidden to inflict punishment
with any other design than for correction of the offender, or direction
of others. For this law is consequent to the next before it, that
commandeth pardon upon security of the future time. Besides, revenge
without respect to the example and profit to come is a triumph,
or glorying in the hurt of another, tending to no end (for the end
is always somewhat to come); and glorying to no end is vain-glory,
and contrary to reason; and to hurt without reason tendeth to the
introduction of war, which is against the law of nature, and is
commonly styled by the name of cruelty.
And because all signs of hatred, or contempt, provoke to fight;
insomuch as most men choose rather to hazard their life than not
to be revenged, we may in the eighth place, for a law of nature,
set down this precept: that no man by deed, word, countenance, or
gesture, declare hatred or contempt of another. The breach of which
law is commonly called contumely.
The question who is the better man has no place in the condition
of mere nature, where (as has been shown before) all men are equal.
The inequality that now is has been introduced by the laws civil.
I know that Aristotle in the first book of his Politics, for a foundation
of his doctrine, maketh men by nature, some more worthy to command,
meaning the wiser sort, such as he thought himself to be for his
philosophy; others to serve, meaning those that had strong bodies,
but were not philosophers as he; as master and servant were not
introduced by consent of men, but by difference of wit: which is
not only against reason, but also against experience. For there
are very few so foolish that had not rather govern themselves than
be governed by others: nor when the wise, in their own conceit,
contend by force with them who distrust their own wisdom, do they
always, or often, or almost at any time, get the victory. If nature
therefore have made men equal, that equality is to be acknowledged:
or if nature have made men unequal, yet because men that think themselves
equal will not enter into conditions of peace, but upon equal terms,
such equality must be admitted. And therefore for the ninth law
of nature, I put this: that every man acknowledge another for his
equal by nature.
The breach of this precept is pride. . . .
The laws of nature are immutable and eternal; for injustice, ingratitude,
arrogance, pride, iniquity, acception of persons, and the rest can
never be made lawful. For it can never be that war shall preserve
life, and peace destroy it.
The same laws, because they oblige only to a desire and endeavour,
mean an unfeigned and constant endeavour, are easy to be observed.
For in that they require nothing but endeavour, he that endeavoureth
their performance fulfilleth them; and he that fulfilleth the law
And the science of them is the true and only moral philosophy. For
moral philosophy is nothing else but the science of what is good
and evil in the conversation and society of mankind. Good and evil
are names that signify our appetites and aversions, which in different
tempers, customs, and doctrines of men are different: and diverse
men differ not only in their judgement on the senses of what is
pleasant and unpleasant to the taste, smell, hearing, touch, and
sight; but also of what is conformable or disagreeable to reason
in the actions of common life. Nay, the same man, in diverse times,
differs from himself; and one time praiseth, that is, calleth good,
what another time he dispraiseth, and calleth evil: from whence
arise disputes, controversies, and at last war. And therefore so
long as a man is in the condition of mere nature, which is a condition
of war, private appetite is the measure of good and evil: and consequently
all men agree on this, that peace is good, and therefore also the
way or means of peace, which (as I have shown before) are justice,
gratitude, modesty, equity, mercy, and the rest of the laws of nature,
are good; that is to say, moral virtues; and their contrary vices,
evil. Now the science of virtue and vice is moral philosophy; and
therefore the true doctrine of the laws of nature is the true moral
philosophy. But the writers of moral philosophy, though they acknowledge
the same virtues and vices; yet, not seeing wherein consisted their
goodness, nor that they come to be praised as the means of peaceable,
sociable, and comfortable living, place them in a mediocrity of
passions: as if not the cause, but the degree of daring, made fortitude;
or not the cause, but the quantity of a gift, made liberality.
These dictates of reason men used to call by the name of laws,
but improperly: for they are but conclusions or theorems concerning
what conduceth to the conservation and defence of themselves; whereas
law, properly, is the word of him that by right hath command over
others. . . . .
Of the Causes, Generation,
and Definition of a Commonwealth
The final cause, end, or design of men (who naturally love liberty,
and dominion over others) in the introduction of that restraint
upon themselves, in which we see them live in Commonwealths, is
the foresight of their own preservation, and of a more contented
life thereby; that is to say, of getting themselves out from that
miserable condition of war which is necessarily consequent, as hath
been shown, to the natural passions of men when there is no visible
power to keep them in awe, and tie them by fear of punishment to
the performance of their covenants . . . .
The only way to erect such a common power, as may be able to defend
them from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another,
and thereby to secure them in such sort as that by their own industry
and by the fruits of the earth they may nourish themselves and live
contentedly, is to confer all their power and strength upon one
man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills,
by plurality of voices, unto one will: which is as much as to say,
to appoint one man, or assembly of men, to bear their person; and
every one to own and acknowledge himself to be author of whatsoever
he that so beareth their person shall act, or cause to be acted,
in those things which concern the common peace and safety; and therein
to submit their wills, every one to his will, and their judgements
to his judgement. This is more than consent, or concord; it is a
real unity of them all in one and the same person, made by covenant
of every man with every man, in such manner as if every man should
say to every man: I authorise and give up my right of governing
myself to this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition;
that thou give up, thy right to him, and authorise all his actions
in like manner. This done, the multitude so united in one person
is called a COMMONWEALTH; in Latin, CIVITAS. This is the generation
of that great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently, of
that mortal god to which we owe, under the immortal God, our peace
and defence. For by this authority, given him by every particular
man in the Commonwealth, he hath the use of so much power and strength
conferred on him that, by terror thereof, he is enabled to form
the wills of them all, to peace at home, and mutual aid against
their enemies abroad. And in him consisteth the essence of the Commonwealth;
which, to define it, is: one person, of whose acts a great multitude,
by mutual covenants one with another, have made themselves every
one the author, to the end he may use the strength and means of
them all as he shall think expedient for their peace and common
defence. . . .
And he that carrieth this person is called SOVEREIGN, and said to
have sovereign power, and every one besides, his subject. . . .
Of Dominion Paternal and Despotical
A COMMONWEALTH by acquisition is that where the sovereign
power is acquired by force; and it is acquired by force when men
singly, or many together by plurality of voices, for fear of death,
or bonds, do authorise all the actions of that man, or assembly,
that hath their lives and liberty in his power.
And this kind of dominion, or sovereignty, differeth from sovereignty
by institution only in this, that men who choose their sovereign
do it for fear of one another, and not of him whom they institute:
but in this case, they subject themselves to him they are afraid
of. In both cases they do it for fear: which is to be noted by them
that hold all such covenants, as proceed from fear of death or violence,
void: which, if it were true, no man in any kind of Commonwealth
could be obliged to obedience. . . .
Dominion is acquired two ways: by generation and by conquest. The
right of dominion by generation is that which the parent hath over
his children, and is called paternal. And is not so derived from
the generation, as if therefore the parent had dominion over his
child because he begat him, but from the child's consent, either
express or by other sufficient arguments declared . . . .
Dominion acquired by conquest, or victory in war,
is that which some writers call despotical from Despotes, which
signifieth a lord or master, and is the dominion of the master over
his servant. And this dominion is then acquired to the victor when
the vanquished, to avoid the present stroke of death, covenanteth,
either in express words or by other sufficient signs of the will,
that so long as his life and the liberty of his body is allowed
him, the victor shall have the use thereof at his pleasure. . .
It is not therefore the victory that giveth the right
of dominion over the vanquished, but his own covenant. Nor is he
obliged because he is conquered; that is to say, beaten, and taken,
or put to flight; but because he cometh in and submitteth to the
victor; nor is the victor obliged by an enemy's rendering himself,
without promise of life, to spare him for this his yielding to discretion;
which obliges not the victor longer than in his own discretion he
shall think fit. . . .
In sum, the rights and consequences of both paternal and despotical
dominion are the very same with those of a sovereign by institution
. . . .
So that it appeareth plainly, to my understanding,
both from reason and Scripture, that the sovereign power, whether
placed in one man, as in monarchy, or in one assembly of men, as
in popular and aristocratical Commonwealths, is as great as possibly
men can be imagined to make it. And though of so unlimited a power,
men may fancy many evil consequences, yet the consequences of the
want of it, which is perpetual war of every man against his neighbour,
are much worse. The condition of man in this life shall never be
without inconveniences; but there happeneth in no Commonwealth any
great inconvenience but what proceeds from the subjects' disobedience
and breach of those covenants from which the Commonwealth hath its
being. And whosoever, thinking sovereign power too great, will seek
to make it less, must subject himself to the power that can limit
it; that is to say, to a greater.
The greatest objection is that of the practice; when
men ask where and when such power has by subjects been acknowledged.
But one may ask them again, when or where has there been a kingdom
long free from sedition and civil war? In those nations whose Commonwealths
have been long-lived, and not been destroyed but by foreign war,
the subjects never did dispute of the sovereign power. But howsoever,
an argument from the practice of men that have not sifted to the
bottom, and with exact reason weighed the causes and nature of Commonwealths,
and suffer daily those miseries that proceed from the ignorance
thereof, is invalid. For though in all places of the world men should
lay the foundation of their houses on the sand, it could not thence
be inferred that so it ought to be. The skill of making and maintaining
Commonwealths consisteth in certain rules, as doth arithmetic and
geometry; not, as tennis play, on practice only: which rules neither
poor men have the leisure, nor men that have had the leisure have
hitherto had the curiosity or the method, to find out.