Thomas Hobbes and the Political Philosophy of Glory

By Gabriella Slomp | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
The Axiom of Glory

Introduction

Aubrey's portrait of Hobbes is that of a person completely lacking in pomposity:

[he had] whiskers yellowish-reddish, which naturally turned up — which is a sign of a brisk wit. Below he was shaved close, except a little tip under his lip. Not but that nature could have afforded a venerable beard, but being naturally of a cheerful and pleasant humour, he affected not at all austerity and gravity and to look severe. He desired not the reputation of his wisdom to be taken from the cut of his beard, but from his reason ( Brief Lives, 156).

Aubrey remarks that Hobbes 'was well-beloved' by people who knew him: 'they loved his company for his pleasant facetiousness and good nature' (ibid.). The King himself liked his 'pleasant discourse' and was 'always much delighted in his wit and smart repartees.' Aubrey adds that

The wits at court were wont to bait him, but he feared none of them, and would make his part good. The king would call him the bear; here come the bear to be baited ( Brief Lives, 154).

According to Aubrey, Hobbes 'was marvellous happy and ready in his replies and that without rancour (except provoked).' (ibid.); however 'as he had many friends ... so he had many enemies (though undeserved; for he would not provoke, but if provoked he was sharp and bitter)'( Brief Lives, 161).

In the Correspondence we find many corroborations of Aubrey's characterisation. Here Hobbes comes across as witty

I have a cold that makes me keepe my chamber, and a chamber ... that makes me keepe my Cold ( Correspondence I, letter 24, 41).

epigrammatic:

-31-

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