Reason of State, Propaganda, and the Thirty Years' War: An Unknown Translation by Thomas Hobbes ; Noel Malcolm

By Noel Malcolm | Go to book overview

5
Palatine Politics: Cavendish, Mansfield,
and Hobbes

THROUGHOUT the 1620s, English public opinion was constantly concerned, and occasionally obsessed, with the issue of the Palatinate. Anyone with access to printed or written news, or with contacts in Parliament and at Court, would have followed the ups and downs—mostly downs—of the Elector Palatine’s fortunes and would have held some opinions about the ineffectual attempts of James I and Charles I to help him. This must be all the more true of Thomas Hobbes, since he was closely attached to a prominent political figure, Lord Cavendish, whose sympathies with the Palatine cause were especially strong. Striking evidence of those sympathies—and, at the same time, of his notoriously heavy debts—is provided by a letter written by Lord Cavendish to the Lords of the Privy Council in November 1620, in response to their letter ‘inuiting me to a contrebution for the defence of ye Palatinate’:

I hope I haue giuen such testemony yt yow will not beleeue I haue beene the backwardest in yt seruice Notwithstanding if my example were now of vse (as peraduenture not long since it was) your LL:ps should command all yt my credit could gather, for that is the substance of my present fortunes I shall neede no more then to remember vnto your LL.ps the streightness of my present means: for I can not feare yt your LL.ps will doubt of my affection, wch: I haue approoued before, both by borrowing mony to contribute my selfe, & by diligent & effectuall labour in the country, for the heightening of the former contribution, for wch: I dare appeale to my Lord Embassadour the Baron of Dona.1

From this it appears that Lord Cavendish had been particularly active in the fund-raising which had taken place earlier in 1620, when the Palatine Ambassador, Achatius von Dohna, had been allowed to solicit

1 PRO, SP 14/117/75 (fo. 136r), 15 [/25] November 1620; the letter is in Cavendish’s own hand.

-74-

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