Counsel, Command and Crisis

In: Hobbes Studies

Although the distinction between counsel and command in Hobbes’s works, especially Leviathan, has been often acknowledged, it has been little studied. This article provides background and analysis of this critical distinction by placing it in conversation with the works of Henry Parker and in the context of the English Civil War, especially as regards the discussion of prudence, interests and crisis. In so doing, three conclusions can be drawn. First, it becomes clear that for both Parker and Hobbes, counsel serves as a foundation to their arguments about the placement and function of sovereignty. Second, in grounding their arguments about sovereignty in the discourse of counsel, both authors – intentionally or unintentionally – undermine the previously critical discourse of counsel. Finally, we see that especially Hobbes’s engagement with and overthrow of the discourse of counsel profoundly alters of the terms and focus of modern political debate, moving from a ‘monarchy of counsel’ to a discussion of political sovereignty.

  • 4

    MendleHenry Parker167; see Fukuda Sovereignty 52–3; Q. Skinner Visions of Politics Vol. III (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002) 205; Malcolm Leviathan 23.

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  • 6

    A. Blau‘Hobbes on Corruption’History of Political Thought30.4 (2009) 596–616. Blau has also written on counsel as an analogue for reason A. Blau ‘Reason Deliberation and the Passions’ in A. P. Martinich and K. Hoekstra (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Hobbes (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2013) online.

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  • 8

    J. R. CollinsThe Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes (Oxford: Oxford University Press2005) 124; P. Springborg ‘Leviathan and the Problem of Ecclesiastical Authority’ Political Theory 3.3 (1975) 291; G. Wright Religion Politics and Thomas Hobbes (Dordrecht: Springer 2006) 196.

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  • 10

    M. PeltonenRhetoric Politics and Popularity in Pre-Revolutionary England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2012) 13 see also 14–20.

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  • 13

    F. Bacon‘Of Counsell’ in The Essayes(London 1612) 59–61.

  • 15

    J. BodinSix Bookes156.

  • 16

    J. BodinSix Bookes717.

  • 19

    FelipeThe Counseller70–1.

  • 20

    FelipeThe Counseller71.

  • 21

    FelipeThe Counseller70 71.

  • 23

    FelipeThe Counseller71.

  • 30

    MiltonEikonoklestes538.

  • 31

    J. ParkinTaming the Leviathan: The Reception of the Political and Religious Ideas of Thomas Hobbes in England 1640–1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2010) 28.

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  • 32

    ParkinTaming the Leviathan32 43–6 47; see also N. D. Jackson Hobbes Bramhall and the Politics of Liberty and Necessity: A Quarrel of the Civil Wars and Interregnum (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2007) 244.

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  • 36

    MendleHenry Parker8–10.

  • 38

     See MendleHenry Parker37–8 43–8.

  • 40

     See Paul‘Counsel and Command’27–51.

  • 41

    [Parker]Shipmony35.

  • 42

    MendleHenry Parker75–85. For this situation of crisis and the language of ‘emergency’ and ‘crisis’ see P. Zagorin Rebels and Rulers 15001660 Vol. ii: Provincial Rebellion Revolutionary Wars 15601660 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1982) 144–53.

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  • 44

    Paul‘Counsel and Command’27–34 105–146.

  • 45

    [Parker]Shipmony35.

  • 46

    [Parker]Discourse52; see Mendle Henry Parker 53–61.

  • 47

    [Parker]Shipmony35. See also Parliament The declaration 22: ‘we still desire and hope that his Majesty will not be guided by his own understanding… to which he shall be advised by the Wisdome of both Houses of Parliament; which are the Eyes in this Politique Body’. For ‘privado’ see Mendle Henry Parker 11–13.

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  • 48

    [Parker]Some few observations9. This is not just the collective judgment of those sitting in parliament at any given time however but a collective memory and prudence as Parker alludes to in writing against the Leveller John Lilburne. Lilburne’s ‘exceeding defective and insufficient’ knowledge and judgement ought to bow to the ‘Authority of so many Parliaments’ and ‘the prudence of so many ages’ as should all royalists [H. Parker] A letter of due censure (London 1650) 10.

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  • 50

    SkinnerReason and Rhetoric259–62.

  • 52

    HobbesLeviathan52.

  • 53

    HobbesLeviathan22.

  • 54

    HobbesLeviathan87.

  • 55

    HobbesLeviathan22.

  • 57

    HobbesLeviathan22.

  • 58

    HobbesLeviathan21.

  • 59

    HobbesLeviathan22; see also Hobbes Elements i 4.6 14–15.

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     See HobbesElements i 4.10 16; A. V. Houten ‘Prudence in Hobbes’s Political Philosophy’ History of Political Thought 23.2 (2002) 266–70; L. van Apeldoorn ‘Reconsidering Hobbes’s Account of Practical Deliberation’ Hobbes Studies 25 (2012) 160.

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  • 61

    HobbesLeviathan458.

  • 62

    HobbesLeviathan35–6.

  • 63

     See N. MalcolmAspects of Hobbes (Oxford: Oxford University Press2002) 146–52.

  • 64

    HobbesLeviathan37.

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    HobbesLeviathan46.

  • 66

    HobbesLeviathan46.

  • 67

    HobbesLeviathan73.

  • 68

    HobbesLeviathan179.

  • 69

    HobbesLeviathan145.

  • 70

    HobbesLeviathan180.

  • 71

    HobbesLeviathan180.

  • 72

    HobbesLeviathan180.

  • 73

    HobbesLeviathan180.

  • 75

    HobbesLeviathan180.

  • 76

    HobbesLeviathan180.

  • 77

     See MalcolmLeviathan157.

  • 78

    HobbesLeviathan242.

  • 80

    HobbesLeviathan242.

  • 81

    [Parker]Some few observations5.

  • 82

    [Parker]Shipmony36; see also [Parker] Discovrse 53.

  • 83

    [Parker]Observations11; see also [Parker] Shipmony 36 and [Parker] True grounds 53.

  • 84

    [Parker]Observations13.

  • 85

    [Parker]Observations33. This is because for Parker parliament virtually (in the sense of being a portrait or a picture) represents the state even is the state. This is opposed to Hobbes who sees the sovereign as the representative of the state (not requiring the sense of virtual representation but rather authorship); see Skinner ‘Hobbes on Representation’ 155–84.

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  • 86

    [Parker]Some few observations9.

  • 87

    [Parker]Observations5.

  • 90

    [Parker]Observations22.

  • 91

    [Parker]Observations23.

  • 93

    [Spelman]A Review18; see Mendle Henry Parker 105–7.

  • 94

    MendleHenry Parker123–6.

  • 96

    MaxwellSacro-sancta242.

  • 97

    MaxwellSacro-sancta246. I have changed this passage from a series of rhetorical questions to positive statements for sake of clarity.

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  • 98

    MaxwellSacro-sancta246.

  • 99

    MaxwellSacro-sancta289.

  • 100

    HobbesLeviathan131.

  • 101

    HobbesLeviathan131.

  • 102

    HobbesLeviathan131.

  • 103

    HobbesLeviathan179.

  • 104

    HobbesLeviathan179.

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    HobbesLeviathan179; for more on the corruption of counsellors see Blau ‘Corruption’.

  • 106

    HobbesLeviathan179. The Latin edition of 1668 is more concerned with a specifically political application than the English for in place of ‘and passions that render their Counsells alwayes suspected and many times unfaithfull’ the Latin reads ‘nec semper cum scopo Civitatis congruentem’ and where it reads ‘Ends and Interest of him he Counselleth’ the Latin gives: ‘Finibus & Bono publico’ T. Hobbes Leviathan Vol. ii ed. N. Malcolm (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012) 404 405.

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  • 107

    HobbesLeviathan181; Latin: ‘Monarchae cui Consiliarii sunt audire illos satiùs est seorsim unumquemque’ Hobbes Leviathan Vol. ii 409.

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  • 108

    HobbesLeviathan179.

  • 109

     See SkinnerReason and Rhetoric334–73.

  • 110

    HobbesLeviathan182.

  • 111

    [Parker]Discourse58–9.

  • 112

    [Parker]Some few observations10 14.

  • 114

    [Parker]Shipmony2. For the connection between the ship-money debates and the languages of necessity and reason of state see Mendle Henry Parker 43; G. Baldwin ‘Reason of State and English Parliaments 1610–42’ Parergon 25.4 (2004) 638.

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  • 115

    [Parker]Shipmony12.

  • 116

    [Parker]Shipmony23 25.

  • 117

    [Parker]Shipmony47.

  • 118

    [Parker]Divine and Politike62; [Parker] Observations 30. The first two of Parliament’s Nineteen Propositions of 1642 reflect this concern: ‘I. That the Lords and others of our Majesties Privie Councell… may be put from your Privie Councell… excepting such as shall be approved of by both Houses of Parliament… II. That the great Affairs of the Kingdome may not be Concluded or Transacted by the Advice of private men… but that such Matters as concern the Publick and are proper for the high Court of Parliament which is your Majesties great and supreme Councell may be Debated Resolved and Transacted onely in Parliament and not elsewhere’ Charles I Nineteen Propositions Made By both Houses of Parliament… With His Majesties Answer (London 1642) 2.

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  • 119

    [Parker]Observations6.

  • 120

    [Parker]True grounds23.

  • 121

    [Parker]True grounds23–4.

  • 122

    [Parker]True grounds25.

  • 123

    [Parker]True grounds24.

  • 124

    [Parker]True grounds24.

  • 125

    [Parker]Observations30. The 1641 Answer to the Lord Digbies Speech in the House of Commons most likely written by Parker (see Mendle Henry Parker 73–4) had already established that counsel even when not executed could constitute treason (12–13).

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  • 126

    [Parker]Observations16.

  • 127

    [Parker]Observations16.

  • 128

    [Parker]Observations30.

  • 129

    [Parker]Observations29.

  • 130

    [Parker]The contra-replicant18–19.

  • 131

    [Parker]Observations19.

  • 132

    [Parker]Observations19.

  • 133

    [Parker]Observations29.

  • 134

    [Parker]Observations29.

  • 135

    [Parker]Political Catechism5.

  • 136

    [Parker]Political Catechism8.

  • 137

    [Parker]Political Catechism10.

  • 138

    [Parker]Political Catechism10.

  • 139

    [Parker]Political Catechism11–12; emphasis added to ‘command’ other emphasis original. Parker had laid the foundations for such an argument in Some few observations in which he writes that because the king ‘is now seduced by wicked Councell and therefore rejects [parliament’s] requests to the danger of the State’ the members of parliament ‘conceive there is a power in them to secure the State without [the king’s] concurrence… At other times when the Kings are not seduced [parliament] ought to do nothing without [kings’] consent’ (13).

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  • 140

    [Spelman]Review16.

  • 141

    [Spelman]Review17.

  • 142

    [Spelman]Review17.

  • 143

     See MartinichDictionary70–3.

  • 144

    HobbesLeviathan176.

  • 145

    HobbesElementsii 10.1 185; ii 10.4 186.

  • 146

    HobbesElementsii 10.4 186.

  • 151

    HobbesLeviathan176. The confusion between these types of speech Hobbes suggests is not one of mere ignorance but based on the interests of those making the judgement for those who ‘mistake sometimes the Precepts of Counsellours for the Precepts of them that Command’ do it ‘according as it best agreeth with the conclusions they would inferre or actions they approve’ (176).

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  • 153

    HobbesLeviathan45.

  • 154

    HobbesLeviathan45.

  • 155

    HobbesLeviathan176.

  • 156

    HobbesLeviathan177.

  • 157

    HobbesLeviathan176.

  • 158

    HobbesLeviathan177.

  • 159

    HobbesLeviathan181.

  • 161

    HobbesLeviathan177.

  • 162

    HobbesLeviathan177–8.

  • 163

    HobbesLeviathan178.

  • 166

    HobbesDialogue26.

  • 167

    HobbesDialogue26.

  • 168

    HobbesBehemoth164.

  • 169

    HobbesBehemoth164.

  • 170

    HobbesBehemoth165.

  • 171

    HobbesBehemoth165.

  • 172

    HobbesLeviathan243.

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