In the spring of 1650, the mathematician Charles Cavendish wrote from Antwerp to his friend John Pell on the current state of the European republic of letters. A er touching on Descartes on the passions, and Pierre Gassendi’s ‘Epicurean philosophie’, Cavendish turned to the activities of omas Hobbes. He was well-placed to comment on this latter topic, since he and his brother, the marquess of Newcastle, had until recently been intimate members of Hobbes’s circle in Paris. However, Cavendish confessed that he had not
Such impatience is understandable. Hobbes was known to be completing a major statement of his thought, De corpore (to which this letter appears to allude), on which he had been working throughout the 1640s. Cavendish’s frustration would only have been compounded had he been aware that Hobbes was in fact engaged in the composition of a yet more signi cant text, the Leviathan, which would be published the following year.2 Nevertheless, Cavendish’s surviving papers reveal that he did go on to study Hobbes’s answer to Davenant.3 And in this he may have discovered a work of philosophical, as well as purely literary, interest.