Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 18
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Hobbes, of course, later qualifies this statement about the right of nature and advocates the
formation of commonwealths in which men act in accordance with the laws of the sovereign.
This sovereign is one, as noted above, who men have chosen "by mutuall Covenant of one
another" to rule (88). The right of nature, then, applies but must be checked within the
commonwealth to ensure that the rights of all its inhabitants are preserved instead of those of just
one member. Hobbes writes, "The mutuall transferring of Right, is that which men call
Contract" (Hobbes 66). Engaging in contracts allows citizens collectively to choose who
preserves the rights of all citizens in a commonwealth rather than each citizen promoting their
own rights individually in anarchy. Maintaining and ensuring the rights of one member can lead
to the detriment of the rights of others and result in living in the chaotic state of nature where
self-interest rules and the preservation of rights of any citizen does not exist.
In Hobbes's first law of nature or what he calls the "Fundamentall Law of Nature," he
And consequently it is a precept, or generall rule of Reason, That every man, ought to
endeavour Peace, as farre as he has hope of obtaining it,; and when he cannot obtain it,
that he may seek, and use, all helps, and advantages of Warre. The first branch of which
Rule, containeth the first, and Fundamentall Law of Nature; which is, to seek Peace, and
follow it. The second, the summe of the Right of Nature; which is, By all means we can,
to defend our selves. (64)
Hobbes promotes finding peace, and deems war as a last resort used only when men cannot
obtain and maintain peace within societies. According to Hobbes, war is only necessary when
all other methods of finding and keeping peace fail. Similarly, people have the right to defend
themselves when necessary and use force, "helps, [and] advantages of war" to that end (Hobbes
64). Since war by definition violates the Golden Rule, it is counter to Hobbes's advocacy of
peace and his opposition to war except as a last resort.
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Smith, Victoria. Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6051/m1/24/?q=rochester: accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .