This collection comprises papers and manuscripts collected and created by Hobbes and members of the Cavendish family. They reflect Hobbes's role as tutor, secretary and advisor to the Earls of Devonshire, as well as his life as philosopher, scientist, scholar and correspondent to a circle of foreign academics and scholars of the time.
The collection includes: some scribal manuscripts of Hobbes's life works (some with autograph annotations); some of Hobbes's unpublished or preparatory works; works of other contemporary scholars; mathematical and scientific notes; exercise books and writings belonging to Cavendish family members tutored by Hobbes; a legal document concerning the 3rd Earl's inheritance; letters to Hobbes; his translations of Italian letters; digests of Aristotle and Scaliger; copies of parliamentary documents; poetry; contemporary library catalogues and brief administrative memoranda.
The greatest number of collected papers here are those belonging to Hobbes's friend, the mathematician and clergyman, Robert Payne. These papers are Payne's notes on mathematical and scientific problems and are largely found in HS/C. Payne was the chaplain to the Earl of Newcastle and Cavendish family at Welbeck Abbey (cousins of the Cavendishes at Chatsworth) and through this link was known to Hobbes and influenced his work. Payne's papers include his notes on a draft of Hobbes's work De Corpore (HS/A/10 and HS/C/4/2). Other collected papers include enclosures from correspondence and scribal copies of works - including papers and manuscripts collected by the Cavendishes and preserved here because of their known or assumed connection to Hobbes.
The majority of the papers span from just before Hobbes's initial employment by the 1st Earl of Devonshire as tutor to his son William Cavendish (1590-1628) in 1608, to his death in 1679. This includes the period when Hobbes was exiled and living in Paris (1641-1651). In addition, there is some material which post-dates Hobbes's death, including book catalogues of the libraries at Chatsworth and Hardwick (HS/ADD).
The first two series in this collection are largely made up of manuscripts of Hobbes s and other eminent contemporary academics' works (HS/A and HS/B). They show Hobbes's working practice through annotations he made on some manuscripts as well as his scholastic influences in the manuscripts he kept in his possession.
The annotations on some of these manuscripts provide examples of Hobbes's handwriting. The best examples of his fair hand however are his scribal copy of William Cavendish s essays (HS/D3) and his library catalogue (HS/E/1A), both probably produced during his time as secretary to the 2nd Earl. This was before his hand became affected by 'shaking Palsy' (probably Parkinson's). His manuscripts in the collection from after 1656 are all in the hand of a scribe, with occasional shaky corrections showing where Hobbes has amended the documents.
A number of the manuscripts in this collection are written in the hand of the professional scribe known amongst Hobbes scholars as the 'Parisian scribe'. Noel Malcolm suggests that the scribe may have been passed from Mersenne to Hobbes, first to copy items in Mersenne's collection such as the book by de Beaugrande (HS/B/6) and de Fermat (HS/B4) and then to make fair copies of Hobbes's own works, for the duration of Hobbes's time living in Paris in the 1640s (HS/A4, HS/A5 and HS/A7). Another prolific hand in this collections is that of James Whildon, who was amanuensis to Hobbes from 1656.
Whildon's hand recorded Hobbes s autobiographical verse Vita Carmine as well as Hobbes's response to the 4th Earl's critical query on Hobbes's political theory on sovereignty, both with tiny almost illegible corrections by Hobbes. Whildon was also responsible for making a copy of the Earl of Shaftsbury's speech for Hobbes's use (HS/G/2) and compiling a new catalogue of the library at Hardwick in 1657 (HS/ADD/1), based on Hobbes's original catalogue (HS/E/1A). A memorandum which seems to have little to do with Hobbes (HS/D/7) was likely assumed to be Hobbes-related and put with the Hobbes papers because the hand is Whildon's.
As a member of the Cavendish household (where he lived and worked for most of his life), who used the same library as the Earls and shared the same servants, Hobbes was tied up with many of the administrative processes and therefore records produced in the Cavendish household. He and the Earl used the same secretary (Whildon) as has already been seen. And the presence of Humphrey Poole's memoranda that relate to Hobbes (see HS/E/3 and HS/D/8) show the extent to which Hobbes was embedded in the household. (Poole was responsible for accounts and management of the Cavendish estates as Derbyshire receiver ).
No records highlight the interconnectedness between Hobbes, the Earls and the creation of documents more than the earlier exercise books and literary writings in this collection. HS/D1, HS/D2, HS/D3 and HS/9 (formerly HS/F/1) are all works likely produced by the 2nd and 3rd Earls during their education or just after it, in the early 17th century. But the extent to which Hobbes was involved with these and to what extent they were written by the Earls without Hobbes's input has been much discussed and debated by Hobbes scholars. If nothing else the uncertainty of where the work of the pupil begins and the tutor ends in these works illuminates how closely one may have influenced the other.
This collection provides a valuable source of information regarding the education of the 2nd and 3rd Earls not only under Hobbes but prior to his employment (see HS/D/9, formerly HS/F/1). It also provides some of the best extant examples of the early handwriting of the 2nd and 3rd Earl in the Chatsworth Archives, which can be compared to related manuscripts in the Hardwick Manuscripts collection (HMS/4).
Hobbes's translations of the 2nd Earl's letters from Fulgenzio Micanzio (HS/H) are records produced in Hobbes's role as secretary and provide information about the type of connections Cavendish made whilst travelling Europe with Hobbes that were then continued and strengthened on his return to England.
Another internationally significant and well-used series of the collection are the letters from foreign correspondents (HS/L) which provide insight into Hobbes s influences and networks. The series of 73 letters contains only incoming letters. As a group, these letters provide a picture of the types of friendship Hobbes kept with these correspondents he had largely first connected with in Paris. They are a rich resource for Hobbes scholars in the reassessment of Hobbes's reputation amongst his contemporaries. They show the understanding and reverence some of his correspondents had for his work and the way in which they encouraged him to publish more.
The additional series of material added to this collection (HS/ADD) is made up of library catalogues and book lists mostly related to Chatsworth and Hardwick, and created by other servants in the Cavendish household, but largely based on Hobbes's original cataloguing of the library collections (HS/E/1A).
Although an artificial collection, compiled from across the archival and library collections at Chatsworth over many years and added to in the nineteenth century, this collection provides the best example of primary sources relating to Hobbes (apart from the collection of Hobbes manuscripts in the British Library). Whilst his published works present Hobbes the philosopher 'polished and somewhat inaccessible' these manuscripts and papers allow a consideration of Hobbes's other roles, within the setting of the Cavendish household.
This collection also crucially sheds light on the work of Robert Payne and the influence he had on Hobbes in his role as philosopher publishing public works, but also in his more private role as an improving mathematics tutor to aristocrats and royalty.
Close analysis of the manuscripts in this collection reveals the complexity of Hobbes's changing role within the Cavendish household. It also sheds light on the formative years of the 2nd and 3rd Earls. Particularly significant in this collection are the works created by the 2nd Earl, who is underrepresented in the archives in comparison to his father and son. The records here are some of the only known examples of his writings, making them essential to understanding him and his role within the Cavendish dynasty.