Front Page Titles (by Subject) Appendix 2: Hezekiah Burton’s “Address to the Reader” - A Treatise of the Laws of Nature
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Appendix 2: Hezekiah Burton’s “Address to the Reader” - Richard Cumberland, A Treatise of the Laws of Nature 
A Treatise of the Laws of Nature, translated, with Introduction and Appendix, by John Maxwell (1727), edited and with a Foreword by Jon Parkin (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005).
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At the end of his own copy, Cumberland included an extra section in manuscript (Cumberland, Trinity College MS.adv.c.2.4, three leaves following p. 421). The original manuscript is in Latin, but Barbeyrac also translates the addition into French (Traité Philosophique, pp. 423–25). The text below gives an English translation translation of Cumberland’s manuscript addition prepared for this edition.
§XXIV.1 It seems quite clear, in my opinion, through the observations that I have made on many of Hobbes’s principles, that whilst with one hand he offers them gifts, he holds in the other a sword ready to pierce their breast. Let us nonetheless add two other consequences which are born of these principles, equally pernicious to civil government and especially to the sovereignty of princes and monarchs. Firstly I say that princes could never be safe from the designs of their successors apparent. One always knows them, both by Hobbes’s principles and by those of other politicians. But, following the doctrine of our philosopher, there is no law, which can properly be called such, which obliges these successors to abstain from killing the kings which they must succeed. For he destroys the obligation of the natural laws, and founds the authority of the Holy Scripture on civil law alone: But this law could have no sway with regard to the person who, having treacherously slain the reigning king, seized that very power that the deceased had; and who henceforth is subject to no penalty, unless he punishes himself, which situation no-one will think to fear. The consequence of this is particularly pernicious, not only for our king, whom God preserve from such attempts on his life, for all other monarchs of this world, and all those who will succeed them, be it legitimately or by the crime in which Hobbes encourages whosoever may wish to replace the reigning king. These villainous successors will be exposed to the same danger from those around them, who are just as entitled, by Hobbes’s principles, to commit all sorts of crimes. But the real maxims of true reason forbid all that, as being contrary to the majesty of God, whose lieutenants here below are the kings, and to the well-being of all peoples, and even to the interest of those who commit such infamous deeds, by which they call down upon themselves very great evils, amongst which is that of which I have just spoken, which is included in part of the sanction of natural law, which is to say, in that part which is associated with the defense of murder, and above all the murder of kings. In his English edition of Leviathan, Hobbes himself mentions the consequence with which I am dealing here, of the danger to which he is exposing kings, namely that of being killed by their successors.2 But all that he says in response, is that such an act is contrary to reason, 1. Because one could not reasonably hope that in such a way the successor could immediately make himself master of the kingdom; and 2. because he would teach others, by his example, to undertake the same action against himself. But here is my reply to that. It is clear that such a crime can very often be committed successfully; especially if the successor has found a way of including in his party many people who, imbued with Hobbes’s principles, and believing them to be proven, are persuaded that there is no other actual law than the civil law, and that in the case in point, there is nothing to fear from this law. As for our philosopher’s second response, I say that, when reason makes the successor envisage the identical danger to which he himself will be exposed by the person who must follow him next, either it imposes this like a law that it prescribes, accompanied by a sanction which is binding with regard to exterior actions, quite apart from the fear of civil laws, or it does not impose it in this way. If Hobbes means the former, he destroys his own principles, and he recognizes a law with sufficient support from a natural sanction. If the latter, he is in truth arguing consequentially, but then he is delivering up to the dagger of a successor the life of his king and that of all other monarchs, since he leaves them no safety founded in actual law, which might shelter them from the murderous actions of their successors. These principles of Hobbes must therefore be abhorrent to all princes.
I note secondly that these same principles are destructive of the safety of all sovereigns, excepting one. And who should that be, that one sovereign? We know not: unless we may conjecture, that it will be the empire of the Turk. For the arguments of our politician seem to establish, that there can be no justice on Earth, whose laws are common to all men, unless we suppose that all kingdoms and states subject them-selves to a single, common Sovereign. Either Hobbes’s arguments prove that or they prove nothing. I am persuaded that they are very false, and thus that one can draw from them no well-founded conclusion. But those who believe them to be true, must also accept the conclusion that I have just indicated. Thus, all princes have no other recourse but to reject and condemn Hobbes’s principles; unless they wish either to be perpetually at war with all others, or to be subjects of one powerful prince, that is the Turk, who is the one whom Hobbes may have had in mind as such. We must therefore believe one of two things, either that this philosopher wrote for the good of no prince or state, but recklessly poured out his wild imaginings, to corrupt the morals of all men; which is very likely: or that he desired to clear a path to universal domination for the Turk, for the destruction not only of Christianity, but also of all rights of property that subjects have over their goods. There are here certainly only the principles of the Muslims, with which Hobbes’s opinions concur, in matters ranging from the fatal necessity of all human actions, to the absolute power of sovereigns. And his lessons on atheism are closely linked with the ideas of that political sect of Turks which, if I remember correctly, Ricaut, the modern author, calls the sect of the Muserim.3
Let us also note, that all that Hobbes wrote on the duties of sovereigns, in a chapter of his treatise On The Citizen,4 is either false, or does not agree in any way with his principles. For, if the natural laws do not bind princes with regard to exterior actions, as he teaches, the princes are not obliged to do anything for the good of their people, since, according to him, neither they, nor their subjects, were bound by the natural laws to perform any exterior action, in keeping with it, before the conventions drawn up for the establishment of civil societies; and the princes themselves are in no way bound by these conventions, nor in consequence since they were made. If Hobbes takes as true and compelling the maxims that he prescribes for princes, it follows that the natural laws, whence these precepts come, bind princes at least with regard to exterior actions, but also to interior actions, or conscience, independent of the weight of conventions constituted by the state. So assuming this to be the case, all the foundations of Hobbes’s thesis and all the individual principles that he built on it, necessarily collapse.
Hezekiah Burton’s “Address to the Reader”
The Reverend Doctor HEZEKIAH BURTON’s ALLOQUIUM AD LECTOREM: or, A short Admonition to the Readers of this Philosophical Enquiry, &c. Translated into English by J.T.1
I beg the Favour of the learned Readers to take Notice, that our Author, in this his Philosophical Dissertation, did not study to captivate the Fancy with enticing Words, nor with the laboured Refinements of Rhetoric.
He did not waste his Time and Pains in collecting far and near, elegant Turns of Expression, nor in modelling the Harmony of his Periods.
As his Readers, however, are not, on the one Hand, to walk in the Flower-gardens of Oratory; so, neither are they, on the other, to tread the thorny Ways of dry Schoolmen, nor travel a dreary Journey thro’ the wild Thickets of Briers and Brambles only. They will not find in our Author Monkish Barbarisms; and but few, if any, Terms of Art, as they are commonly called, neither, in short, will he ensnare them with the Fallacies of Sophistical Reasoning.
Our Philosopher does not cherish such rigid, austere, Stoical Principles; neither does he abominate all kind of Elegance with such an Abhorrence, as to place the whole Value of his Performance upon a careless, wild Neglect: And yet, he cannot be ranked in the Class of what are termed your finished Men, your nice, polite, courtly Authors. He does not set up for so absolute an Admirer of Cicero, neither did he exert all his Talents in pleasing those, who place the whole Value of Writing in Language and Expression: He values Expression, indeed, so far, as to understand his own Meaning himself, and convey the full Sense of it to others. And, since he could not be exact in every minute Article, he would not neglect the most material.
[Objection] “But, his Attention being closely engaged upon his Subject, like all those who chiefly study the main Point, he appears in a Negligence of Style, and in a Sort of an Undress.”
[Answer] In order to clear him from this kind of Imputation, he entrusted me with his Manuscript. Whether thro’ Inability or Idleness, or (which is pretty much the same Thing) thro’ many other Avocations and trifling Kinds of other Business, I certainly have not fully executed the Task by some expected of me.
I must therefore intreat the Readers, to take off every Imputation of this Kind from our Author, and to lay it at my Door.
Now as to that most heinous Offence which I have committed against the grammatical Folks (which to be sure is an Offence no less than capital) I acknowledge myself deservedly worthy of their severest Indignation and Punishment.
If none of these Excuses, in short, can plead my Pardon, I must appeal to Scioppius,2 and the other critical, strict Judges of the Latin Tongue; I will call them to my Assistance, who never refused Patronage to such Votaries as invoke their Aid. These Gentlemen are, to be sure, the high and mighty Judges, who have a Right to ascertain and vindicate the just Forms, and proper Modes of Expression.
It is the usual Practice of these Critics, and with the whole Weight of their Authority, to transplant and naturalize foreign Phrases. Now they will, beyond all Doubt, strenuously maintain, That a plain stile is agreeable to a Philosophical Subject; because it is the easiest, and the most naturally adapted to handle every such Subject well.
Take heed therefore, my good Readers, and be advised by me, not to find Fault with our Author’s Stile, lest ye proclaim and wage War publicly with the whole Herd of Critical Grammarians.
There is also another Caution necessary, and that is, not to expect in this Treatise any witty Points, satyrical Turns, or facetious Jokes, either in the Thought or in the Expression. Because, our Author was, to be sure, an utter Enemy to all that Kind of Confutation; and from which Sort of Reasoning, in such numberless Instances, he so heavily reproaches his Adversary, and would never have spared him, but that he did not care always to give a Loose to his just Indignation.
It is the most difficult Thing in the World, to refrain from Satyr, in treating that rude, barbarous Philosophy, which lays the Foundations of all Irreligion, Injustice, Villainy, and even Rebellion itself.
However, our Author, who is of a most beneficent Nature, chose to use a gentle, mild Expression, and that upon many Accounts:
First, He was fully resolved to treat Mr. Hobbes with Humanity and Gentleness, not only upon Account of his great Learning; but, more especially, because Mr. Hobbes,—poor Gentleman! is now emaciated, and almost quite sunk beneath the Weight and Infirmities of Age.3
Secondly, Because, our Author imagines it equally barbarous, to declaim with bitter Invectives against a dying old Man, continually under the dreadful Apprehensions of Death, as to insult over the last Remains of a departing Soul, or to torture the Manes of the Dead.
Thirdly, Because, our Author employed a great deal of his Time and Pains in mathematical Studies, from which Kind of Studies he learned a Simplicity and Purity of Expression, quite disengaged from rhetorical Ornaments, and free from all Points of Wit.
Fourthly, No possible Reason can be assigned, why our Author should not use this plain Manner of Writing, altho’ upon a Subject different from Mathematics.
For the Case is pretty much the same, in writing upon other Subjects, as upon those of Mathematics. You seldom find Authors, well principled in the mathematical Science, mistaken in Point of Reasoning; unless, perhaps, it happens, now and then, that a mathematical Scholar may grow somewhat mad: A melancholy Instance of which we have in Mr. Hobbes!
That our Author, therefore, might investigate and trace our Truths of the most Importance and Difficulty, and fairly lay these Truths before his Readers in a clear, regular Stile, he judged, that reasoning upon a moral Subject with mathematical Demonstration, could the better banish from his Thoughts and Writings the uneven and turbulent Irregularities of an unsettled Genius.
In a Word, to avoid Prolixity, whoseover will cavil at this Book (as a jejune, barren Performance, without any Spirit, Wit or Beauty) ought to consider, that our Author’s sole Intent was, to discover and lay the most weighty Truths open in the clearest Manner, and confirm them by the most conclusive Demonstrations; which, if he has not effectually performed, we may despair of ever seeing such a Work well executed, even unto the End of Time.
This Caution, however, I give you, by the Bye, That whatsover Commendation I most deservedly bestow either upon our Author or upon his Performance, not to understand it as if I would pre-engage your Favour by too early, hasty an Encomium.
Every one is at all the Liberty in the World (notwithstanding any Thing that I have said to the contrary) to judge for himself: But with this Proviso, that he first reads over, with Patience and Attention, the Book itself; and that he thoroughly understands it; and then, when this is done, he may (but yet with Candour and Impartiality) pass Sentence upon it.
Whatever ignorant, malevolent, invidious Scoffers object against our Author, or his Performance; whatever muttering Noises, by way of Contradiction, lazy Sophists may snarl out against it; whatsoever little Cavils Atheists, and the Enemies to God and Man, we shall esteem, rather praise than reproach.
The best of Men will, to be sure, behave themselves with Candour; and they all, even to a Man, will take upon themselves the Defence of that Cause [the common Good] which our Author defends. Nay,—I have no Doubt upon me, but that this Book will be acceptable to all, except the very worst of Men, especially since the main Design of this Under-taking is to prove, That every Individual, to the best of his Abilities, must promote the common Happiness of All.—And, unless I am mistaken in my Conjecture, the present Generation will highly commend, and Posterity, with Wonder and Surprize, esteem our Author. For, if I have the least Judgement at all, this Book is written, not only for the present Age, but for endless Ages to come.
Go on, therefore, O thou most excellent Author, according to that boundless, diffusive Benevolence with which thou art blessed! Go on, I say, to deserve the best Gratitude from the whole human Race! That is, go on and communicate to ALL, those most excellent Precepts which you yourself have traced out:—Precepts which truly may be called your own,—Precepts incessantly flowing from your own Mind, as from a Fountain of the clearest, purest, best Ideas: And,—may the whole Universe reap the blessed, most delicious Fruits of your Learning, your Wisdom, your Integrity.—Fruits which very few,—too few, indeed, as yet, either feel, taste or understand.
And now—by way of Conclusion—I address myself to all, the whole rational System of created Agents, and who, upon Principles of Universal Benevolence, are my Parents and Brethren. I address myself to you all, as many as ye be, altho’ in Number passing Numeration, diffused and spread over the whole Expanse of boundless Space, whether ye be Indians, or Scythians, or Africans, or the Inhabitants of Regions and Countries as yet unknown; whether ye be more widely different on your Sentiments of Religion, in your Notions and Affections, than in Situation and Place. I address and beseech you all, with Care and Observance, to peruse The Holy Bible, and this admirable Book of our Author, if happily, by any Means, these two most excellent Books of divine Instruction happen to fall into your Hands—Hearken to your own Reason,—Hearken to your own Experience,—Hearken unto your own Senses,—All silently admonishing and pronouncing Instructions— Hearken, in a Word, to Universal Nature, with one Voice declaring, That nothing is more humane, more lovely, more amiable, more perfective of human Nature: That nothing more nearly resembles the Nature of God, than Benevolence universally extended and exerted towards All.
All these Monitors with a clear, with an audible Voice, (A Voice by the deep Ear of Meditation heard) and with one Consent declare, That a Good-will, the most diffusive and boundless, is the first Principle, the just Measure, and the only sure Rule of all our Duty: That is the ultimate End of all our Actions; the amplest Reward the Fulness of Hope can reach: And—in short,—that it is Man’s chief Good.
To what exorbitant Degrees of Excess, or to what Ends and Purposes, therefore, shall we, a wretched Race of stupid, absurd Mortals, indulge our Hatred and Malice, our Envy and Jealousy, our Simulation and Dissimulation?
Let us rather, having laid aside Malevolence, Anger, Wrath, and an Over-violence of Self-love [Nimia ϕιλαντία,] provoke one another to Love, to a Love unfeigned, to a Love without End and without Bounds towards All.
By these Means we shall arrive at the highest, most exalted State of human Happiness, where we shall consult and act, not only the Good of ourselves, and of our own Flesh and Blood: Not only the Good of those who agree with us in Opinions and Sentiments: Not only the Good of our Friends and Countrymen, but the Good of All, let that All be as many, as numberless, as Imagination can conceive. Rare is the Happiness of such an Age! A Golden Age scarce to be found! When ALL, with their highest their purest Affections, and with their best-united Endeavours will promote the Happiness of ALL.—O Blessed Time!—O most amiable Age!—Let us, my Brethren, as much as in us lies, press forward to so blessed a State.—And—that—our most bountiful God, the one eternal Fountain, Prototype and original Parent of Love, would assist our own Endeavours, and (having purged all Rancour and Malignity of Envy and Malice from our Souls) plentifully pour into our Hearts and Minds his holy Spirit, his Mankind-loving Spirit. That we All, all who inhabit the universal Frame of Nature, may firmly unite and be linked together by indissoluble Bonds of beneficent Affection. And this, from the inmost Recesses of a sincere Soul, is my fervent Prayer, who am, with ardent Zeal,
Your truly Benevolent,
Published Works of Richard Cumberland
Other Works Referenced in the Text and Notes
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[1. ]The section number continues from the final section of the Latin edition (see ch. 9, n. 100).
[2. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 15, pp. 92–93.
[3. ]Rycaut, The Present State of the Ottoman Empire (1668), II.12, pp. 129–31.
[4. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 13, pp. 142–52.
[1. ]Hezekiah Burton’s “Address to the Reader” (Cumberland, De Legibus Naturae, “Alloquium ad Lectorem,” A3r-b1r), translated into English by the Rev. John Towers for his edition of Cumberland, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Laws of Nature (1750), Appendix, Part IV, pp. 86–88.
[2. ]Kaspar Schoppe, or Scioppius (1576–1649), was the author of several Latin pedagogical texts.
[3. ]In 1671 Hobbes (1588–1679) was 83 years old.