Scanned, proofed and corrected from the original edition for your reading pleasure. (Worth every penny!)
An excerpt from the Preface:
OF Hobbes’s "Behemoth", or (as it was commonly called) the "Dialogue of the Civil Wars of England", though written probably a few years after the Restoration, there was no genuine edition during the author’s lifetime, which lasted until 1679. But three years later his old publisher, William Crooke, issued a volume entitled, Tracts of Mr. Th. H. of Malmsbury, containing in the first place the treatise entitled Behemoth, which is followed by three other pieces, and introduced by the following remarks: “My duty, as well to the Public as to the memory of Mr. Hobbs, has obliged me to procure, with my utmost diligence, that these Tracts should come forth with the most correct exactness. I am compelled by the force of Truth to declare, how much both the world and the name of Mr. Hobbs have been abused by the several spurious editions of the ‘History of the Civil Wars,’ wherein, by various and unskilful transcriptions, are committed above a thousand faults, and in above a hundred places whole lines left out, as I can make appear. I must confess Mr. Hobbs, upon some considerations, was averse to the publishing thereof; but since it is impossible to suppress it, no book being more commonly sold by all book-sellers, I hope I need not fear the offence of any man, by doing right to the world and this work, which I now publish from the original manuscript, done by his own amanuensis, and given me by himself above twelve years since,” &c. In the meantime, Mr. Crooke had been printing a letter by Hobbes, written to him shortly before the philosopher’s death, and relating to the same affair, which in part explains, in part modifies, his foregoing statements. This letter he prefixed to his new edition of Hobbes’s apology for his own life and character, in 1680 (Considerations upon the reputation, loyalty, manners, and religion of Thomas Hobbes of Malmsbury written by himself by way of letter to a learned person), inserting it in the following “advertisement to the readers”: “I do here present you with a piece of Mr. Hobbes’s writing, which is not published from an imperfect MS., as his ‘Dialogue of the Civil Wars of England’ was (by some that had got accidentally a copy of it) absolutely against his consent, as you may see by some passages out of some of his letters to me which I have here inserted. In his letter of June, 1679, he saith: I would fain have published my ‘Dialogue of the Civil Wars of England’ long ago, and to that end I presented it to his Majesty; and some days after, when I thought he had read it, I humbly besought him to let me print it; but his Majesty (though he heard me graciously, yet he) flatly refused to have it published. Therefore I brought away the book, and gave you leave to take a copy of it; which, when you had done, I gave the original to an honourable and learned friend, who about a year after died. The king knows better, and is more concerned in publishing of books than I am: therefore I dare not venture to appear in the business, lest it should offend him. Therefore I pray you not to meddle in the business. Rather than to be thought any way to further or countenance the printing, I would be content to lose twenty times the value of what you can expect to gain by it,” &c. To this now may be added the following unprinted passage from a letter, which was addressed at a still later date (August 19, 1679) by the aged philosopher to his friend John Aubrey (the end of it being inserted in Aubrey’s Sketch of Hobbes’s Life, published in “Letters from the Bodleian,” vol. ii., ubi vid. p. 614), running thus: “I have been told that my book of the civil war is come abroad, and am sorry for it, especially because I could not get his Majesty to license it, not because it is ill printed or has a foolish title set to it, for I believe that any ingenious man may understand the wickedness of that time, notwithstanding the errors of the press.”
Now, though it is true that Crooke’s edition was very much improved as compared with the spurious ones, yet it was not made from the original copy, which I believe myself to have discovered and made use of now for the first time. The copy of which I speak is a beautifully written MS., preserved in St. John’s College, Oxford; and upon this, as a matter of course, the present new edition, after a careful collation, has been founded, and may justly be said to stand in the same relation to the text as hitherto known, which this one had to the unauthorized pamphlets above mentioned. For not only are there in this edition a very great number of places corrected, but also many deficient passages have been supplied....