Dear Mr Hobbes,
I have now had time to contemplate your new MS, Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civill, and after receiving several readers reports, I am sorry to inform you that we will not be able to proceed with publication.
The principle problem is that too much material is repeated from your earlier De Cive (which has already gone through a second edition with added notes). I appreciate that the De Cive has sold well in Europe to learned audiences, and thus you might think that producing the same work in the vernacular for an English readership might have repeated success. I am afraid I do not share your confidence. Aside from your insistences that this book be taught in the Universities (something I think unlikely my distributors could ensure), it is often unclear who you are addressing. Portions of the work appear to be aimed directly at sovereigns, but at times you seem to be writing for subjects. If the latter, is it reasonable to expect those of low breeding and education to follow such a complex work?
Those with sufficient education will find your De Cive ample enough. Although Leviathan expands on your materialistic philosophy of matter in motion, I struggled to see how this was relevant to the bulk of your political argument. Indeed, the only material change I could detect in your thought was the introduction of the concept of ‘authorisation’ in Chapter 16. Although I can see the appeal of this with regards to the internal mechanics of your theory (the transition from the ‘multitude’ to the ‘unity’ of a people is more smoothly achieved, whilst reducing the problem of resistance rights for those harmed by sovereigns), it is simply not plausible. From whence this concept of ‘authorisation’? How does it gain such binding power? Can it reasonably be supposed that one owns another’s actions simply be agreeing not to be killed? I cannot see such an idea being taken at all seriously by readers (referee reports indicated as much).
As for the entire second portion of this book, which does amount to a new work, I’m afraid I cannot publish this either. Your doctrine of the Trinity is both heretical and (if I may say so) difficult to make sense of. Whilst I appreciate and share your distaste for the Popish religion, a serious work must do better than denigrate the Roman Church as the kingdom of the ‘fairies’ whilst making crude insinuations that priests are succubi.
Finally, your ‘A Review and Conclusion’ only serves to confuse. Whilst I appreciate that upon your return to Britain after your time in Royalist exile you must ingratiate yourself to our new Council of State, nonetheless this appears to come at the cost of coherence. Is obedience due only to those who protect? Is it due retrospectively? Doesn’t this readmit the problem of individual judgement you have all along sought to resolve? As for your twentieth law of nature, it seems to me that it does not fit your (already deeply controversial) model of natural law.
However, I hear that you have a new work on optics in progress. Please do consider publishing this work with us. The academic market for such books is currently a large growth opportunity, one in which we are looking to expand with regards to going forwards in the next cycle, and I would be happy to recommend you to my colleagues in that division.
The General Editor.