Utopia by Thomas More

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Utopia by Thomas More

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by Thomas More





Sir Thomas More, son of Sir John More, a justice of the King’s Bench,
was born in 1478, in Milk Street, in the city of London. After his
earlier education at St. Anthony’s School, in Threadneedle Street, he
was placed, as a boy, in the household of Cardinal John Morton,
Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor. It was not unusual for
persons of wealth or influence and sons of good families to be so
established together in a relation of patron and client. The youth wore
his patron’s livery, and added to his state. The patron used,
afterwards, his wealth or influence in helping his young client forward
in the world. Cardinal Morton had been in earlier days that Bishop of
Ely whom Richard III. sent to the Tower; was busy afterwards in
hostility to Richard; and was a chief adviser of Henry VII., who in
1486 made him Archbishop of Canterbury, and nine months afterwards Lord
Chancellor. Cardinal Morton—of talk at whose table there are
recollections in “Utopia”—delighted in the quick wit of young Thomas
More. He once said, “Whoever shall live to try it, shall see this child
here waiting at table prove a notable and rare man.”

At the age of about nineteen, Thomas More was sent to Canterbury
College, Oxford, by his patron, where he learnt Greek of the first men
who brought Greek studies from Italy to England—William Grocyn and
Thomas Linacre. Linacre, a physician, who afterwards took orders, was
also the founder of the College of Physicians. In 1499, More left
Oxford to study law in London, at Lincoln’s Inn, and in the next year
Archbishop Morton died.

More’s earnest character caused him while studying law to aim at the
subduing of the flesh, by wearing a hair shirt, taking a log for a
pillow, and whipping himself on Fridays. At the age of twenty-one he
entered Parliament, and soon after he had been called to the bar he was
made Under-Sheriff of London. In 1503 he opposed in the House of
Commons Henry VII.’s proposal for a subsidy on account of the marriage
portion of his daughter Margaret; and he opposed with so much energy
that the House refused to grant it. One went and told the king that a
beardless boy had disappointed all his expectations. During the last
years, therefore, of Henry VII. More was under the displeasure of the
king, and had thoughts of leaving the country.

Henry VII. died in April, 1509, when More’s age was a little over
thirty. In the first years of the reign of Henry VIII. he rose to large
practice in the law courts, where it is said he refused to plead in
cases which he thought unjust, and took no fees from widows, orphans,
or the poor. He would have preferred marrying the second daughter of
John Colt, of New Hall, in Essex, but chose her elder sister, that he
might not subject her to the discredit of being passed over.

In 1513 Thomas More, still Under-Sheriff of London, is said to have
written his “History of the Life and Death of King Edward V., and of
the Usurpation of Richard III.” The book, which seems to contain the
knowledge and opinions of More’s patron, Morton, was not printed until
1557, when its writer had been twenty-two years dead. It was then
printed from a MS. in More’s handwriting.

In the year 1515 Wolsey, Archbishop of York, was made Cardinal by Leo
X.; Henry VIII. made him Lord Chancellor, and from that year until 1523
the King and the Cardinal ruled England with absolute authority, and
called no parliament. In May of the year 1515 Thomas More—not knighted
yet—was joined in a commission to the Low Countries with Cuthbert
Tunstal and others to confer with the ambassadors of Charles V., then
only Archduke of Austria, upon a renewal of alliance. On that embassy
More, aged about thirty-seven, was absent from England for six months,
and while at Antwerp he established friendship with Peter Giles
(Latinised Ægidius), a scholarly and courteous young man, who was
secretary to the municipality of Antwerp.

Cuthbert Tunstal was a rising churchman, chancellor to the Archbishop
of Canterbury, who in that year (1515) was made Archdeacon of Chester,
and in May of the next year (1516) Master of the Rolls. In 1516 he was
sent again to the Low Countries, and More then went with him to
Brussels, where they were in close companionship with Erasmus.

More’s “Utopia” was written in Latin, and is in two parts, of which the
second, describing the place ([Greek text]—or Nusquama, as he called it
sometimes in his letters—“Nowhere”), was probably written towards the
close of 1515; the first part, introductory, early in 1516. The book
was first printed at Louvain, late in 1516, under the editorship of
Erasmus, Peter Giles, and other of More’s friends in Flanders. It was
then revised by More, and printed by Frobenius at Basle in November,
1518. It was reprinted at Paris and Vienna, but was not printed in
England during More’s lifetime. Its first publication in this country
was in the English translation, made in Edward’s VI.’s reign (1551) by
Ralph Robinson. It was translated with more literary skill by Gilbert
Burnet, in 1684, soon after he had conducted the defence of his friend
Lord William Russell, attended his execution, vindicated his memory,
and been spitefully deprived by James II. of his lectureship at St.
Clement’s. Burnet was drawn to the translation of “Utopia” by the same
sense of unreason in high places that caused More to write the book.
Burnet’s is the translation given in this volume.

The name of the book has given an adjective to our language—we call an
impracticable scheme Utopian. Yet, under the veil of a playful fiction,
the talk is intensely earnest, and abounds in practical suggestion. It
is the work of a scholarly and witty Englishman, who attacks in his own
way the chief political and social evils of his time. Beginning with
fact, More tells how he was sent into Flanders with Cuthbert Tunstal,
“whom the king’s majesty of late, to the great rejoicing of all men,
did prefer to the office of Master of the Rolls;” how the commissioners
of Charles met them at Bruges, and presently returned to Brussels for
instructions; and how More then went to Antwerp, where he found a
pleasure in the society of Peter Giles which soothed his desire to see
again his wife and children, from whom he had been four months away.
Then fact slides into fiction with the finding of Raphael Hythloday
(whose name, made of two Greek words [Greek text] and [Greek text],
means “knowing in trifles”), a man who had been with Amerigo Vespucci
in the three last of the voyages to the new world lately discovered, of
which the account had been first printed in 1507, only nine years
before Utopia was written.

Designedly fantastic in suggestion of details, “Utopia” is the work of
a scholar who had read Plato’s “Republic,” and had his fancy quickened
after reading Plutarch’s account of Spartan life under Lycurgus.
Beneath the veil of an ideal communism, into which there has been
worked some witty extravagance, there lies a noble English argument.
Sometimes More puts the case as of France when he means England.
Sometimes there is ironical praise of the good faith of Christian
kings, saving the book from censure as a political attack on the policy
of Henry VIII. Erasmus wrote to a friend in 1517 that he should send
for More’s “Utopia,” if he had not read it, and “wished to see the true
source of all political evils.” And to More Erasmus wrote of his book,
“A burgomaster of Antwerp is so pleased with it that he knows it all by

H. M.


Henry VIII., the unconquered King of England, a prince adorned with all
the virtues that become a great monarch, having some differences of no
small consequence with Charles the most serene Prince of Castile, sent
me into Flanders, as his ambassador, for treating and composing matters
between them. I was colleague and companion to that incomparable man
Cuthbert Tonstal, whom the King, with such universal applause, lately
made Master of the Rolls; but of whom I will say nothing; not because I
fear that the testimony of a friend will be suspected, but rather
because his learning and virtues are too great for me to do them
justice, and so well known, that they need not my commendations, unless
I would, according to the proverb, “Show the sun with a lantern.” Those
that were appointed by the Prince to treat with us, met us at Bruges,
according to agreement; they were all worthy men. The Margrave of
Bruges was their head, and the chief man among them; but he that was
esteemed the wisest, and that spoke for the rest, was George Temse, the
Provost of Casselsee: both art and nature had concurred to make him
eloquent: he was very learned in the law; and, as he had a great
capacity, so, by a long practice in affairs, he was very dexterous at
unravelling them. After we had several times met, without coming to an
agreement, they went to Brussels for some days, to know the Prince’s
pleasure; and, since our business would admit it, I went to Antwerp.
While I was there, among many that visited me, there was one that was
more acceptable to me than any other, Peter Giles, born at Antwerp, who
is a man of great honour, and of a good rank in his town, though less
than he deserves; for I do not know if there be anywhere to be found a
more learned and a better bred young man; for as he is both a very
worthy and a very knowing person, so he is so civil to all men, so
particularly kind to his friends, and so full of candour and affection,
that there is not, perhaps, above one or two anywhere to be found, that
is in all respects so perfect a friend: he is extraordinarily modest,
there is no artifice in him, and yet no man has more of a prudent
simplicity. His conversation was so pleasant and so innocently
cheerful, that his company in a great measure lessened any longings to
go back to my country, and to my wife and children, which an absence of
four months had quickened very much. One day, as I was returning home
from mass at St. Mary’s, which is the chief church, and the most
frequented of any in Antwerp, I saw him, by accident, talking with a
stranger, who seemed past the flower of his age; his face was tanned,
he had a long beard, and his cloak was hanging carelessly about him, so
that, by his looks and habit, I concluded he was a seaman. As soon as
Peter saw me, he came and saluted me, and as I was returning his
civility, he took me aside, and pointing to him with whom he had been
discoursing, he said, “Do you see that man? I was just thinking to
bring him to you.” I answered, “He should have been very welcome on
your account.” “And on his own too,” replied he, “if you knew the man,
for there is none alive that can give so copious an account of unknown
nations and countries as he can do, which I know you very much desire.”
“Then,” said I, “I did not guess amiss, for at first sight I took him
for a seaman.” “But you are much mistaken,” said he, “for he has not
sailed as a seaman, but as a traveller, or rather a philosopher. This
Raphael, who from his family carries the name of Hythloday, is not
ignorant of the Latin tongue, but is eminently learned in the Greek,
having applied himself more particularly to that than to the former,
because he had given himself much to philosophy, in which he knew that
the Romans have left us nothing that is valuable, except what is to be
found in Seneca and Cicero. He is a Portuguese by birth, and was so
desirous of seeing the world, that he divided his estate among his
brothers, ran the same hazard as Americus Vesputius, and bore a share
in three of his four voyages that are now published; only he did not
return with him in his last, but obtained leave of him, almost by
force, that he might be one of those twenty-four who were left at the
farthest place at which they touched in their last voyage to New
Castile. The leaving him thus did not a little gratify one that was
more fond of travelling than of returning home to be buried in his own
country; for he used often to say, that the way to heaven was the same
from all places, and he that had no grave had the heavens still over
him. Yet this disposition of mind had cost him dear, if God had not
been very gracious to him; for after he, with five Castalians, had
travelled over many countries, at last, by strange good fortune, he got
to Ceylon, and from thence to Calicut, where he, very happily, found
some Portuguese ships; and, beyond all men’s expectations, returned to
his native country.” When Peter had said this to me, I thanked him for
his kindness in intending to give me the acquaintance of a man whose
conversation he knew would be so acceptable; and upon that Raphael and
I embraced each other. After those civilities were past which are usual
with strangers upon their first meeting, we all went to my house, and
entering into the garden, sat down on a green bank and entertained one
another in discourse. He told us that when Vesputius had sailed away,
he, and his companions that stayed behind in New Castile, by degrees
insinuated themselves into the affections of the people of the country,
meeting often with them and treating them gently; and at last they not
only lived among them without danger, but conversed familiarly with
them, and got so far into the heart of a prince, whose name and country
I have forgot, that he both furnished them plentifully with all things
necessary, and also with the conveniences of travelling, both boats
when they went by water, and waggons when they travelled over land: he
sent with them a very faithful guide, who was to introduce and
recommend them to such other princes as they had a mind to see: and
after many days’ journey, they came to towns, and cities, and to
commonwealths, that were both happily governed and well peopled. Under
the equator, and as far on both sides of it as the sun moves, there lay
vast deserts that were parched with the perpetual heat of the sun; the
soil was withered, all things looked dismally, and all places were
either quite uninhabited, or abounded with wild beasts and serpents,
and some few men, that were neither less wild nor less cruel than the
beasts themselves. But, as they went farther, a new scene opened, all
things grew milder, the air less burning, the soil more verdant, and
even the beasts were less wild: and, at last, there were nations,
towns, and cities, that had not only mutual commerce among themselves
and with their neighbours, but traded, both by sea and land, to very
remote countries. There they found the conveniencies of seeing many
countries on all hands, for no ship went any voyage into which he and
his companions were not very welcome. The first vessels that they saw
were flat-bottomed, their sails were made of reeds and wicker, woven
close together, only some were of leather; but, afterwards, they found
ships made with round keels and canvas sails, and in all respects like
our ships, and the seamen understood both astronomy and navigation. He
got wonderfully into their favour by showing them the use of the
needle, of which till then they were utterly ignorant. They sailed
before with great caution, and only in summer time; but now they count
all seasons alike, trusting wholly to the loadstone, in which they are,
perhaps, more secure than safe; so that there is reason to fear that
this discovery, which was thought would prove so much to their
advantage, may, by their imprudence, become an occasion of much
mischief to them. But it were too long to dwell on all that he told us
he had observed in every place, it would be too great a digression from
our present purpose: whatever is necessary to be told concerning those
wise and prudent institutions which he observed among civilised
nations, may perhaps be related by us on a more proper occasion. We
asked him many questions concerning all these things, to which he
answered very willingly; we made no inquiries after monsters, than
which nothing is more common; for everywhere one may hear of ravenous
dogs and wolves, and cruel men-eaters, but it is not so easy to find
states that are well and wisely governed.

As he told us of many things that were amiss in those new-discovered
countries, so he reckoned up not a few things, from which patterns
might be taken for correcting the errors of these nations among whom we
live; of which an account may be given, as I have already promised, at
some other time; for, at present, I intend only to relate those
particulars that he told us, of the manners and laws of the Utopians:
but I will begin with the occasion that led us to speak of that
commonwealth. After Raphael had discoursed with great judgment on the
many errors that were both among us and these nations, had treated of
the wise institutions both here and there, and had spoken as distinctly
of the customs and government of every nation through which he had
past, as if he had spent his whole life in it, Peter, being struck with
admiration, said, “I wonder, Raphael, how it comes that you enter into
no king’s service, for I am sure there are none to whom you would not
be very acceptable; for your learning and knowledge, both of men and
things, is such, that you would not only entertain them very
pleasantly, but be of great use to them, by the examples you could set
before them, and the advices you could give them; and by this means you
would both serve your own interest, and be of great use to all your
friends.” “As for my friends,” answered he, “I need not be much
concerned, having already done for them all that was incumbent on me;
for when I was not only in good health, but fresh and young, I
distributed that among my kindred and friends which other people do not
part with till they are old and sick: when they then unwillingly give
that which they can enjoy no longer themselves. I think my friends
ought to rest contented with this, and not to expect that for their
sakes I should enslave myself to any king whatsoever.” “Soft and fair!”
said Peter; “I do not mean that you should be a slave to any king, but
only that you should assist them and be useful to them.” “The change of
the word,” said he, “does not alter the matter.” “But term it as you
will,” replied Peter, “I do not see any other way in which you can be
so useful, both in private to your friends and to the public, and by
which you can make your own condition happier.” “Happier?” answered
Raphael, “is that to be compassed in a way so abhorrent to my genius?
Now I live as I will, to which I believe, few courtiers can pretend;
and there are so many that court the favour of great men, that there
will be no great loss if they are not troubled either with me or with
others of my temper.” Upon this, said I, “I perceive, Raphael, that you
neither desire wealth nor greatness; and, indeed, I value and admire
such a man much more than I do any of the great men in the world. Yet I
think you would do what would well become so generous and philosophical
a soul as yours is, if you would apply your time and thoughts to public
affairs, even though you may happen to find it a little uneasy to
yourself; and this you can never do with so much advantage as by being
taken into the council of some great prince and putting him on noble
and worthy actions, which I know you would do if you were in such a
post; for the springs both of good and evil flow from the prince over a
whole nation, as from a lasting fountain. So much learning as you have,
even without practice in affairs, or so great a practice as you have
had, without any other learning, would render you a very fit counsellor
to any king whatsoever.” “You are doubly mistaken,” said he, “Mr. More,
both in your opinion of me and in the judgment you make of things: for
as I have not that capacity that you fancy I have, so if I had it, the
public would not be one jot the better when I had sacrificed my quiet
to it. For most princes apply themselves more to affairs of war than to
the useful arts of peace; and in these I neither have any knowledge,
nor do I much desire it; they are generally more set on acquiring new
kingdoms, right or wrong, than on governing well those they possess:
and, among the ministers of princes, there are none that are not so
wise as to need no assistance, or at least, that do not think
themselves so wise that they imagine they need none; and if they court
any, it is only those for whom the prince has much personal favour,
whom by their fawning and flatteries they endeavour to fix to their own
interests; and, indeed, nature has so made us, that we all love to be
flattered and to please ourselves with our own notions: the old crow
loves his young, and the ape her cubs. Now if in such a court, made up
of persons who envy all others and only admire themselves, a person
should but propose anything that he had either read in history or
observed in his travels, the rest would think that the reputation of
their wisdom would sink, and that their interests would be much
depressed if they could not run it down: and, if all other things
failed, then they would fly to this, that such or such things pleased
our ancestors, and it were well for us if we could but match them. They
would set up their rest on such an answer, as a sufficient confutation
of all that could be said, as if it were a great misfortune that any
should be found wiser than his ancestors. But though they willingly let
go all the good things that were among those of former ages, yet, if
better things are proposed, they cover themselves obstinately with this
excuse of reverence to past times. I have met with these proud, morose,
and absurd judgments of things in many places, particularly once in
England.” “Were you ever there?” said I. “Yes, I was,” answered he,
“and stayed some months there, not long after the rebellion in the West
was suppressed, with a great slaughter of the poor people that were
engaged in it.

“I was then much obliged to that reverend prelate, John Morton,
Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal, and Chancellor of England; a man,”
said he, “Peter (for Mr. More knows well what he was), that was not
less venerable for his wisdom and virtues than for the high character
he bore: he was of a middle stature, not broken with age; his looks
begot reverence rather than fear; his conversation was easy, but
serious and grave; he sometimes took pleasure to try the force of those
that came as suitors to him upon business by speaking sharply, though
decently, to them, and by that he discovered their spirit and presence
of mind; with which he was much delighted when it did not grow up to
impudence, as bearing a great resemblance to his own temper, and he
looked on such persons as the fittest men for affairs. He spoke both
gracefully and weightily; he was eminently skilled in the law, had a
vast understanding, and a prodigious memory; and those excellent
talents with which nature had furnished him were improved by study and
experience. When I was in England the King depended much on his
counsels, and the Government seemed to be chiefly supported by him; for
from his youth he had been all along practised in affairs; and, having
passed through many traverses of fortune, he had, with great cost,
acquired a vast stock of wisdom, which is not soon lost when it is
purchased so dear. One day, when I was dining with him, there happened
to be at table one of the English lawyers, who took occasion to run out
in a high commendation of the severe execution of justice upon thieves,
‘who,’ as he said, ‘were then hanged so fast that there were sometimes
twenty on one gibbet!’ and, upon that, he said, ‘he could not wonder
enough how it came to pass that, since so few escaped, there were yet
so many thieves left, who were still robbing in all places.’ Upon this,
I (who took the boldness to speak freely before the Cardinal) said,
‘There was no reason to wonder at the matter, since this way of
punishing thieves was neither just in itself nor good for the public;
for, as the severity was too great, so the remedy was not effectual;
simple theft not being so great a crime that it ought to cost a man his
life; no punishment, how severe soever, being able to restrain those
from robbing who can find out no other way of livelihood. In this,’
said I, ‘not only you in England, but a great part of the world,
imitate some ill masters, that are readier to chastise their scholars
than to teach them. There are dreadful punishments enacted against
thieves, but it were much better to make such good provisions by which
every man might be put in a method how to live, and so be preserved
from the fatal necessity of stealing and of dying for it.’ ‘There has
been care enough taken for that,’ said he; ‘there are many handicrafts,
and there is husbandry, by which they may make a shift to live, unless
they have a greater mind to follow ill courses.’ ‘That will not serve
your turn,’ said I, ‘for many lose their limbs in civil or foreign
wars, as lately in the Cornish rebellion, and some time ago in your
wars with France, who, being thus mutilated in the service of their
king and country, can no more follow their old trades, and are too old
to learn new ones; but since wars are only accidental things, and have
intervals, let us consider those things that fall out every day. There
is a great number of noblemen among you that are themselves as idle as
drones, that subsist on other men’s labour, on the labour of their
tenants, whom, to raise their revenues, they pare to the quick. This,
indeed, is the only instance of their frugality, for in all other
things they are prodigal, even to the beggaring of themselves; but,
besides this, they carry about with them a great number of idle
fellows, who never learned any art by which they may gain their living;
and these, as soon as either their lord dies, or they themselves fall
sick, are turned out of doors; for your lords are readier to feed idle
people than to take care of the sick; and often the heir is not able to
keep together so great a family as his predecessor did. Now, when the
stomachs of those that are thus turned out of doors grow keen, they rob
no less keenly; and what else can they do? For when, by wandering
about, they have worn out both their health and their clothes, and are
tattered, and look ghastly, men of quality will not entertain them, and
poor men dare not do it, knowing that one who has been bred up in
idleness and pleasure, and who was used to walk about with his sword
and buckler, despising all the neighbourhood with an insolent scorn as
far below him, is not fit for the spade and mattock; nor will he serve
a poor man for so small a hire and in so low a diet as he can afford to
give him.’ To this he answered, ‘This sort of men ought to be
particularly cherished, for in them consists the force of the armies
for which we have occasion; since their birth inspires them with a
nobler sense of honour than is to be found among tradesmen or
ploughmen.’ ‘You may as well say,’ replied I, ‘that you must cherish
thieves on the account of wars, for you will never want the one as long
as you have the other; and as robbers prove sometimes gallant soldiers,
so soldiers often prove brave robbers, so near an alliance there is
between those two sorts of life. But this bad custom, so common among
you, of keeping many servants, is not peculiar to this nation. In
France there is yet a more pestiferous sort of people, for the whole
country is full of soldiers, still kept up in time of peace (if such a
state of a nation can be called a peace); and these are kept in pay
upon the same account that you plead for those idle retainers about
noblemen: this being a maxim of those pretended statesmen, that it is
necessary for the public safety to have a good body of veteran soldiers
ever in readiness. They think raw men are not to be depended on, and
they sometimes seek occasions for making war, that they may train up
their soldiers in the art of cutting throats, or, as Sallust observed,
“for keeping their hands in use, that they may not grow dull by too
long an intermission.” But France has learned to its cost how dangerous
it is to feed such beasts. The fate of the Romans, Carthaginians, and
Syrians, and many other nations and cities, which were both overturned
and quite ruined by those standing armies, should make others wiser;
and the folly of this maxim of the French appears plainly even from
this, that their trained soldiers often find your raw men prove too
hard for them, of which I will not say much, lest you may think I
flatter the English. Every day’s experience shows that the mechanics in
the towns or the clowns in the country are not afraid of fighting with
those idle gentlemen, if they are not disabled by some misfortune in
their body or dispirited by extreme want; so that you need not fear
that those well-shaped and strong men (for it is only such that
noblemen love to keep about them till they spoil them), who now grow
feeble with ease and are softened with their effeminate manner of life,
would be less fit for action if they were well bred and well employed.
And it seems very unreasonable that, for the prospect of a war, which
you need never have but when you please, you should maintain so many
idle men, as will always disturb you in time of peace, which is ever to
be more considered than war. But I do not think that this necessity of
stealing arises only from hence; there is another cause of it, more
peculiar to England.’ ‘What is that?’ said the Cardinal: ‘The increase
of pasture,’ said I, ‘by which your sheep, which are naturally mild,
and easily kept in order, may be said now to devour men and unpeople,
not only villages, but towns; for wherever it is found that the sheep
of any soil yield a softer and richer wool than ordinary, there the
nobility and gentry, and even those holy men, the abbots! not contented
with the old rents which their farms yielded, nor thinking it enough
that they, living at their ease, do no good to the public, resolve to
do it hurt instead of good. They stop the course of agriculture,
destroying houses and towns, reserving only the churches, and enclose
grounds that they may lodge their sheep in them. As if forests and
parks had swallowed up too little of the land, those worthy countrymen
turn the best inhabited places into solitudes; for when an insatiable
wretch, who is a plague to his country, resolves to enclose many
thousand acres of ground, the owners, as well as tenants, are turned
out of their possessions by trick or by main force, or, being wearied
out by ill usage, they are forced to sell them; by which means those
miserable people, both men and women, married and unmarried, old and
young, with their poor but numerous families (since country business
requires many hands), are all forced to change their seats, not knowing
whither to go; and they must sell, almost for nothing, their household
stuff, which could not bring them much money, even though they might
stay for a buyer. When that little money is at an end (for it will be
soon spent), what is left for them to do but either to steal, and so to
be hanged (God knows how justly!), or to go about and beg? and if they
do this they are put in prison as idle vagabonds, while they would
willingly work but can find none that will hire them; for there is no
more occasion for country labour, to which they have been bred, when
there is no arable ground left. One shepherd can look after a flock,
which will stock an extent of ground that would require many hands if
it were to be ploughed and reaped. This, likewise, in many places
raises the price of corn. The price of wool is also so risen that the
poor people, who were wont to make cloth, are no more able to buy it;
and this, likewise, makes many of them idle: for since the increase of
pasture God has punished the avarice of the owners by a rot among the
sheep, which has destroyed vast numbers of them—to us it might have
seemed more just had it fell on the owners themselves. But, suppose the
sheep should increase ever so much, their price is not likely to fall;
since, though they cannot be called a monopoly, because they are not
engrossed by one person, yet they are in so few hands, and these are so
rich, that, as they are not pressed to sell them sooner than they have
a mind to it, so they never do it till they have raised the price as
high as possible. And on the same account it is that the other kinds of
cattle are so dear, because many villages being pulled down, and all
country labour being much neglected, there are none who make it their
business to breed them. The rich do not breed cattle as they do sheep,
but buy them lean and at low prices; and, after they have fattened them
on their grounds, sell them again at high rates. And I do not think
that all the inconveniences this will produce are yet observed; for, as
they sell the cattle dear, so, if they are consumed faster than the
breeding countries from which they are brought can afford them, then
the stock must decrease, and this must needs end in great scarcity; and
by these means, this your island, which seemed as to this particular
the happiest in the world, will suffer much by the cursed avarice of a
few persons: besides this, the rising of corn makes all people lessen
their families as much as they can; and what can those who are
dismissed by them do but either beg or rob? And to this last a man of a
great mind is much sooner drawn than to the former. Luxury likewise
breaks in apace upon you to set forward your poverty and misery; there
is an excessive vanity in apparel, and great cost in diet, and that not
only in noblemen’s families, but even among tradesmen, among the
farmers themselves, and among all ranks of persons. You have also many
infamous houses, and, besides those that are known, the taverns and
ale-houses are no better; add to these dice, cards, tables, football,
tennis, and quoits, in which money runs fast away; and those that are
initiated into them must, in the conclusion, betake themselves to
robbing for a supply. Banish these plagues, and give orders that those
who have dispeopled so much soil may either rebuild the villages they
have pulled down or let out their grounds to such as will do it;
restrain those engrossings of the rich, that are as bad almost as
monopolies; leave fewer occasions to idleness; let agriculture be set
up again, and the manufacture of the wool be regulated, that so there
may be work found for those companies of idle people whom want forces
to be thieves, or who now, being idle vagabonds or useless servants,
will certainly grow thieves at last. If you do not find a remedy to
these evils it is a vain thing to boast of your severity in punishing
theft, which, though it may have the appearance of justice, yet in
itself is neither just nor convenient; for if you suffer your people to
be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy,
and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education
disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this but that you
first make thieves and then punish them?’

“While I was talking thus, the Counsellor, who was present, had
prepared an answer, and had resolved to resume all I had said,
according to the formality of a debate, in which things are generally
repeated more faithfully than they are answered, as if the chief trial
to be made were of men’s memories. ‘You have talked prettily, for a
stranger,’ said he, ‘having heard of many things among us which you
have not been able to consider well; but I will make the whole matter
plain to you, and will first repeat in order all that you have said;
then I will show how much your ignorance of our affairs has misled you;
and will, in the last place, answer all your arguments. And, that I may
begin where I promised, there were four things—’ ‘Hold your peace!’
said the Cardinal; ‘this will take up too much time; therefore we will,
at present, ease you of the trouble of answering, and reserve it to our
next meeting, which shall be to-morrow, if Raphael’s affairs and yours
can admit of it. But, Raphael,’ said he to me, ‘I would gladly know
upon what reason it is that you think theft ought not to be punished by
death: would you give way to it? or do you propose any other punishment
that will be more useful to the public? for, since death does not
restrain theft, if men thought their lives would be safe, what fear or
force could restrain ill men? On the contrary, they would look on the
mitigation of the punishment as an invitation to commit more crimes.’ I
answered, ‘It seems to me a very unjust thing to take away a man’s life
for a little money, for nothing in the world can be of equal value with
a man’s life: and if it be said, “that it is not for the money that one
suffers, but for his breaking the law,” I must say, extreme justice is
an extreme injury: for we ought not to approve of those terrible laws
that make the smallest offences capital, nor of that opinion of the
Stoics that makes all crimes equal; as if there were no difference to
be made between the killing a man and the taking his purse, between
which, if we examine things impartially, there is no likeness nor
proportion. God has commanded us not to kill, and shall we kill so
easily for a little money? But if one shall say, that by that law we
are only forbid to kill any except when the laws of the land allow of
it, upon the same grounds, laws may be made, in some cases, to allow of
adultery and perjury: for God having taken from us the right of
disposing either of our own or of other people’s lives, if it is
pretended that the mutual consent of men in making laws can authorise
man-slaughter in cases in which God has given us no example, that it
frees people from the obligation of the divine law, and so makes murder
a lawful action, what is this, but to give a preference to human laws
before the divine? and, if this is once admitted, by the same rule men
may, in all other things, put what restrictions they please upon the
laws of God. If, by the Mosaical law, though it was rough and severe,
as being a yoke laid on an obstinate and servile nation, men were only
fined, and not put to death for theft, we cannot imagine, that in this
new law of mercy, in which God treats us with the tenderness of a
father, He has given us a greater licence to cruelty than He did to the
Jews. Upon these reasons it is, that I think putting thieves to death
is not lawful; and it is plain and obvious that it is absurd and of ill
consequence to the commonwealth that a thief and a murderer should be
equally punished; for if a robber sees that his danger is the same if
he is convicted of theft as if he were guilty of murder, this will
naturally incite him to kill the person whom otherwise he would only
have robbed; since, if the punishment is the same, there is more
security, and less danger of discovery, when he that can best make it
is put out of the way; so that terrifying thieves too much provokes
them to cruelty.

“But as to the question, ‘What more convenient way of punishment can be
found?’ I think it much easier to find out that than to invent anything
that is worse; why should we doubt but the way that was so long in use
among the old Romans, who understood so well the arts of government,
was very proper for their punishment? They condemned such as they found
guilty of great crimes to work their whole lives in quarries, or to dig
in mines with chains about them. But the method that I liked best was
that which I observed in my travels in Persia, among the Polylerits,
who are a considerable and well-governed people: they pay a yearly
tribute to the King of Persia, but in all other respects they are a
free nation, and governed by their own laws: they lie far from the sea,
and are environed with hills; and, being contented with the productions
of their own country, which is very fruitful, they have little commerce
with any other nation; and as they, according to the genius of their
country, have no inclination to enlarge their borders, so their
mountains and the pension they pay to the Persian, secure them from all
invasions. Thus they have no wars among them; they live rather
conveniently than with splendour, and may be rather called a happy
nation than either eminent or famous; for I do not think that they are
known, so much as by name, to any but their next neighbours. Those that
are found guilty of theft among them are bound to make restitution to
the owner, and not, as it is in other places, to the prince, for they
reckon that the prince has no more right to the stolen goods than the
thief; but if that which was stolen is no more in being, then the goods
of the thieves are estimated, and restitution being made out of them,
the remainder is given to their wives and children; and they themselves
are condemned to serve in the public works, but are neither imprisoned
nor chained, unless there happens to be some extraordinary circumstance
in their crimes. They go about loose and free, working for the public:
if they are idle or backward to work they are whipped, but if they work
hard they are well used and treated without any mark of reproach; only
the lists of them are called always at night, and then they are shut
up. They suffer no other uneasiness but this of constant labour; for,
as they work for the public, so they are well entertained out of the
public stock, which is done differently in different places: in some
places whatever is bestowed on them is raised by a charitable
contribution; and, though this way may seem uncertain, yet so merciful
are the inclinations of that people, that they are plentifully supplied
by it; but in other places public revenues are set aside for them, or
there is a constant tax or poll-money raised for their maintenance. In
some places they are set to no public work, but every private man that
has occasion to hire workmen goes to the market-places and hires them
of the public, a little lower than he would do a freeman. If they go
lazily about their task he may quicken them with the whip. By this
means there is always some piece of work or other to be done by them;
and, besides their livelihood, they earn somewhat still to the public.
They all wear a peculiar habit, of one certain colour, and their hair
is cropped a little above their ears, and a piece of one of their ears
is cut off. Their friends are allowed to give them either meat, drink,
or clothes, so they are of their proper colour; but it is death, both
to the giver and taker, if they give them money; nor is it less penal
for any freeman to take money from them upon any account whatsoever:
and it is also death for any of these slaves (so they are called) to
handle arms. Those of every division of the country are distinguished
by a peculiar mark, which it is capital for them to lay aside, to go
out of their bounds, or to talk with a slave of another jurisdiction,
and the very attempt of an escape is no less penal than an escape
itself. It is death for any other slave to be accessory to it; and if a
freeman engages in it he is condemned to slavery. Those that discover
it are rewarded—if freemen, in money; and if slaves, with liberty,
together with a pardon for being accessory to it; that so they might
find their account rather in repenting of their engaging in such a
design than in persisting in it.

“These are their laws and rules in relation to robbery, and it is
obvious that they are as advantageous as they are mild and gentle;
since vice is not only destroyed and men preserved, but they are
treated in such a manner as to make them see the necessity of being
honest and of employing the rest of their lives in repairing the
injuries they had formerly done to society. Nor is there any hazard of
their falling back to their old customs; and so little do travellers
apprehend mischief from them that they generally make use of them for
guides from one jurisdiction to another; for there is nothing left them
by which they can rob or be the better for it, since, as they are
disarmed, so the very having of money is a sufficient conviction: and
as they are certainly punished if discovered, so they cannot hope to
escape; for their habit being in all the parts of it different from
what is commonly worn, they cannot fly away, unless they would go
naked, and even then their cropped ear would betray them. The only
danger to be feared from them is their conspiring against the
government; but those of one division and neighbourhood can do nothing
to any purpose unless a general conspiracy were laid amongst all the
slaves of the several jurisdictions, which cannot be done, since they
cannot meet or talk together; nor will any venture on a design where
the concealment would be so dangerous and the discovery so profitable.
None are quite hopeless of recovering their freedom, since by their
obedience and patience, and by giving good grounds to believe that they
will change their manner of life for the future, they may expect at
last to obtain their liberty, and some are every year restored to it
upon the good character that is given of them. When I had related all
this, I added that I did not see why such a method might not be
followed with more advantage than could ever be expected from that
severe justice which the Counsellor magnified so much. To this he
answered, ‘That it could never take place in England without
endangering the whole nation.’ As he said this he shook his head, made
some grimaces, and held his peace, while all the company seemed of his
opinion, except the Cardinal, who said, ‘That it was not easy to form a
judgment of its success, since it was a method that never yet had been
tried; but if,’ said he, ‘when sentence of death were passed upon a
thief, the prince would reprieve him for a while, and make the
experiment upon him, denying him the privilege of a sanctuary; and
then, if it had a good effect upon him, it might take place; and, if it
did not succeed, the worst would be to execute the sentence on the
condemned persons at last; and I do not see,’ added he, ‘why it would
be either unjust, inconvenient, or at all dangerous to admit of such a
delay; in my opinion the vagabonds ought to be treated in the same
manner, against whom, though we have made many laws, yet we have not
been able to gain our end.’ When the Cardinal had done, they all
commended the motion, though they had despised it when it came from me,
but more particularly commended what related to the vagabonds, because
it was his own observation.

“I do not know whether it be worth while to tell what followed, for it
was very ridiculous; but I shall venture at it, for as it is not
foreign to this matter, so some good use may be made of it. There was a
Jester standing by, that counterfeited the fool so naturally that he
seemed to be really one; the jests which he offered were so cold and
dull that we laughed more at him than at them, yet sometimes he said,
as it were by chance, things that were not unpleasant, so as to justify
the old proverb, ‘That he who throws the dice often, will sometimes
have a lucky hit.’ When one of the company had said that I had taken
care of the thieves, and the Cardinal had taken care of the vagabonds,
so that there remained nothing but that some public provision might be
made for the poor whom sickness or old age had disabled from labour,
‘Leave that to me,’ said the Fool, ‘and I shall take care of them, for
there is no sort of people whose sight I abhor more, having been so
often vexed with them and with their sad complaints; but as dolefully
soever as they have told their tale, they could never prevail so far as
to draw one penny from me; for either I had no mind to give them
anything, or, when I had a mind to do it, I had nothing to give them;
and they now know me so well that they will not lose their labour, but
let me pass without giving me any trouble, because they hope for
nothing—no more, in faith, than if I were a priest; but I would have a
law made for sending all these beggars to monasteries, the men to the
Benedictines, to be made lay-brothers, and the women to be nuns.’ The
Cardinal smiled, and approved of it in jest, but the rest liked it in
earnest. There was a divine present, who, though he was a grave morose
man, yet he was so pleased with this reflection that was made on the
priests and the monks that he began to play with the Fool, and said to
him, ‘This will not deliver you from all beggars, except you take care
of us Friars.’ ‘That is done already,’ answered the Fool, ‘for the
Cardinal has provided for you by what he proposed for restraining
vagabonds and setting them to work, for I know no vagabonds like you.’
This was well entertained by the whole company, who, looking at the
Cardinal, perceived that he was not ill-pleased at it; only the Friar
himself was vexed, as may be easily imagined, and fell into such a
passion that he could not forbear railing at the Fool, and calling him
knave, slanderer, backbiter, and son of perdition, and then cited some
dreadful threatenings out of the Scriptures against him. Now the Jester
thought he was in his element, and laid about him freely. ‘Good Friar,’
said he, ‘be not angry, for it is written, “In patience possess your
soul.”’ The Friar answered (for I shall give you his own words), ‘I am
not angry, you hangman; at least, I do not sin in it, for the Psalmist
says, “Be ye angry and sin not.”’ Upon this the Cardinal admonished him
gently, and wished him to govern his passions. ‘No, my lord,’ said he,
‘I speak not but from a good zeal, which I ought to have, for holy men
have had a good zeal, as it is said, “The zeal of thy house hath eaten
me up;” and we sing in our church that those who mocked Elisha as he
went up to the house of God felt the effects of his zeal, which that
mocker, that rogue, that scoundrel, will perhaps feel.’ ‘You do this,
perhaps, with a good intention,’ said the Cardinal, ‘but, in my
opinion, it were wiser in you, and perhaps better for you, not to
engage in so ridiculous a contest with a Fool.’ ‘No, my lord,’ answered
he, ‘that were not wisely done, for Solomon, the wisest of men, said,
“Answer a Fool according to his folly,” which I now do, and show him
the ditch into which he will fall, if he is not aware of it; for if the
many mockers of Elisha, who was but one bald man, felt the effect of
his zeal, what will become of the mocker of so many Friars, among whom
there are so many bald men? We have, likewise, a bull, by which all
that jeer us are excommunicated.’ When the Cardinal saw that there was
no end of this matter he made a sign to the Fool to withdraw, turned
the discourse another way, and soon after rose from the table, and,
dismissing us, went to hear causes.

“Thus, Mr. More, I have run out into a tedious story, of the length of
which I had been ashamed, if (as you earnestly begged it of me) I had
not observed you to hearken to it as if you had no mind to lose any
part of it. I might have contracted it, but I resolved to give it you
at large, that you might observe how those that despised what I had
proposed, no sooner perceived that the Cardinal did not dislike it but
presently approved of it, fawned so on him and flattered him to such a
degree, that they in good earnest applauded those things that he only
liked in jest; and from hence you may gather how little courtiers would
value either me or my counsels.”

To this I answered, “You have done me a great kindness in this
relation; for as everything has been related by you both wisely and
pleasantly, so you have made me imagine that I was in my own country
and grown young again, by recalling that good Cardinal to my thoughts,
in whose family I was bred from my childhood; and though you are, upon
other accounts, very dear to me, yet you are the dearer because you
honour his memory so much; but, after all this, I cannot change my
opinion, for I still think that if you could overcome that aversion
which you have to the courts of princes, you might, by the advice which
it is in your power to give, do a great deal of good to mankind, and
this is the chief design that every good man ought to propose to
himself in living; for your friend Plato thinks that nations will be
happy when either philosophers become kings or kings become
philosophers. It is no wonder if we are so far from that happiness
while philosophers will not think it their duty to assist kings with
their counsels.” “They are not so base-minded,” said he, “but that they
would willingly do it; many of them have already done it by their
books, if those that are in power would but hearken to their good
advice. But Plato judged right, that except kings themselves became
philosophers, they who from their childhood are corrupted with false
notions would never fall in entirely with the counsels of philosophers,
and this he himself found to be true in the person of Dionysius.

“Do not you think that if I were about any king, proposing good laws to
him, and endeavouring to root out all the cursed seeds of evil that I
found in him, I should either be turned out of his court, or, at least,
be laughed at for my pains? For instance, what could I signify if I
were about the King of France, and were called into his cabinet
council, where several wise men, in his hearing, were proposing many
expedients; as, by what arts and practices Milan may be kept, and
Naples, that has so often slipped out of their hands, recovered; how
the Venetians, and after them the rest of Italy, may be subdued; and
then how Flanders, Brabant, and all Burgundy, and some other kingdoms
which he has swallowed already in his designs, may be added to his
empire? One proposes a league with the Venetians, to be kept as long as
he finds his account in it, and that he ought to communicate counsels
with them, and give them some share of the spoil till his success makes
him need or fear them less, and then it will be easily taken out of
their hands; another proposes the hiring the Germans and the securing
the Switzers by pensions; another proposes the gaining the Emperor by
money, which is omnipotent with him; another proposes a peace with the
King of Arragon, and, in order to cement it, the yielding up the King
of Navarre’s pretensions; another thinks that the Prince of Castile is
to be wrought on by the hope of an alliance, and that some of his
courtiers are to be gained to the French faction by pensions. The
hardest point of all is, what to do with England; a treaty of peace is
to be set on foot, and, if their alliance is not to be depended on, yet
it is to be made as firm as possible, and they are to be called
friends, but suspected as enemies: therefore the Scots are to be kept
in readiness to be let loose upon England on every occasion; and some
banished nobleman is to be supported underhand (for by the League it
cannot be done avowedly) who has a pretension to the crown, by which
means that suspected prince may be kept in awe. Now when things are in
so great a fermentation, and so many gallant men are joining counsels
how to carry on the war, if so mean a man as I should stand up and wish
them to change all their counsels—to let Italy alone and stay at home,
since the kingdom of France was indeed greater than could be well
governed by one man; that therefore he ought not to think of adding
others to it; and if, after this, I should propose to them the
resolutions of the Achorians, a people that lie on the south-east of
Utopia, who long ago engaged in war in order to add to the dominions of
their prince another kingdom, to which he had some pretensions by an
ancient alliance: this they conquered, but found that the trouble of
keeping it was equal to that by which it was gained; that the conquered
people were always either in rebellion or exposed to foreign invasions,
while they were obliged to be incessantly at war, either for or against
them, and consequently could never disband their army; that in the
meantime they were oppressed with taxes, their money went out of the
kingdom, their blood was spilt for the glory of their king without
procuring the least advantage to the people, who received not the
smallest benefit from it even in time of peace; and that, their manners
being corrupted by a long war, robbery and murders everywhere abounded,
and their laws fell into contempt; while their king, distracted with
the care of two kingdoms, was the less able to apply his mind to the
interest of either. When they saw this, and that there would be no end
to these evils, they by joint counsels made an humble address to their
king, desiring him to choose which of the two kingdoms he had the
greatest mind to keep, since he could not hold both; for they were too
great a people to be governed by a divided king, since no man would
willingly have a groom that should be in common between him and
another. Upon which the good prince was forced to quit his new kingdom
to one of his friends (who was not long after dethroned), and to be
contented with his old one. To this I would add that after all those
warlike attempts, the vast confusions, and the consumption both of
treasure and of people that must follow them, perhaps upon some
misfortune they might be forced to throw up all at last; therefore it
seemed much more eligible that the king should improve his ancient
kingdom all he could, and make it flourish as much as possible; that he
should love his people, and be beloved of them; that he should live
among them, govern them gently and let other kingdoms alone, since that
which had fallen to his share was big enough, if not too big, for
him:—pray, how do you think would such a speech as this be heard?”

“I confess,” said I, “I think not very well.”

“But what,” said he, “if I should sort with another kind of ministers,
whose chief contrivances and consultations were by what art the
prince’s treasures might be increased? where one proposes raising the
value of specie when the king’s debts are large, and lowering it when
his revenues were to come in, that so he might both pay much with a
little, and in a little receive a great deal. Another proposes a
pretence of a war, that money might be raised in order to carry it on,
and that a peace be concluded as soon as that was done; and this with
such appearances of religion as might work on the people, and make them
impute it to the piety of their prince, and to his tenderness for the
lives of his subjects. A third offers some old musty laws that have
been antiquated by a long disuse (and which, as they had been forgotten
by all the subjects, so they had also been broken by them), and
proposes the levying the penalties of these laws, that, as it would
bring in a vast treasure, so there might be a very good pretence for
it, since it would look like the executing a law and the doing of
justice. A fourth proposes the prohibiting of many things under severe
penalties, especially such as were against the interest of the people,
and then the dispensing with these prohibitions, upon great
compositions, to those who might find their advantage in breaking them.
This would serve two ends, both of them acceptable to many; for as
those whose avarice led them to transgress would be severely fined, so
the selling licences dear would look as if a prince were tender of his
people, and would not easily, or at low rates, dispense with anything
that might be against the public good. Another proposes that the judges
must be made sure, that they may declare always in favour of the
prerogative; that they must be often sent for to court, that the king
may hear them argue those points in which he is concerned; since, how
unjust soever any of his pretensions may be, yet still some one or
other of them, either out of contradiction to others, or the pride of
singularity, or to make their court, would find out some pretence or
other to give the king a fair colour to carry the point. For if the
judges but differ in opinion, the clearest thing in the world is made
by that means disputable, and truth being once brought in question, the
king may then take advantage to expound the law for his own profit;
while the judges that stand out will be brought over, either through
fear or modesty; and they being thus gained, all of them may be sent to
the Bench to give sentence boldly as the king would have it; for fair
pretences will never be wanting when sentence is to be given in the
prince’s favour. It will either be said that equity lies of his side,
or some words in the law will be found sounding that way, or some
forced sense will be put on them; and, when all other things fail, the
king’s undoubted prerogative will be pretended, as that which is above
all law, and to which a religious judge ought to have a special regard.
Thus all consent to that maxim of Crassus, that a prince cannot have
treasure enough, since he must maintain his armies out of it; that a
king, even though he would, can do nothing unjustly; that all property
is in him, not excepting the very persons of his subjects; and that no
man has any other property but that which the king, out of his
goodness, thinks fit to leave him. And they think it is the prince’s
interest that there be as little of this left as may be, as if it were
his advantage that his people should have neither riches nor liberty,
since these things make them less easy and willing to submit to a cruel
and unjust government. Whereas necessity and poverty blunts them, makes
them patient, beats them down, and breaks that height of spirit that
might otherwise dispose them to rebel. Now what if, after all these
propositions were made, I should rise up and assert that such counsels
were both unbecoming a king and mischievous to him; and that not only
his honour, but his safety, consisted more in his people’s wealth than
in his own; if I should show that they choose a king for their own
sake, and not for his; that, by his care and endeavours, they may be
both easy and safe; and that, therefore, a prince ought to take more
care of his people’s happiness than of his own, as a shepherd is to
take more care of his flock than of himself? It is also certain that
they are much mistaken that think the poverty of a nation is a means of
the public safety. Who quarrel more than beggars? who does more
earnestly long for a change than he that is uneasy in his present
circumstances? and who run to create confusions with so desperate a
boldness as those who, having nothing to lose, hope to gain by them? If
a king should fall under such contempt or envy that he could not keep
his subjects in their duty but by oppression and ill usage, and by
rendering them poor and miserable, it were certainly better for him to
quit his kingdom than to retain it by such methods as make him, while
he keeps the name of authority, lose the majesty due to it. Nor is it
so becoming the dignity of a king to reign over beggars as over rich
and happy subjects. And therefore Fabricius, a man of a noble and
exalted temper, said ‘he would rather govern rich men than be rich
himself; since for one man to abound in wealth and pleasure when all
about him are mourning and groaning, is to be a gaoler and not a king.’
He is an unskilful physician that cannot cure one disease without
casting his patient into another. So he that can find no other way for
correcting the errors of his people but by taking from them the
conveniences of life, shows that he knows not what it is to govern a
free nation. He himself ought rather to shake off his sloth, or to lay
down his pride, for the contempt or hatred that his people have for him
takes its rise from the vices in himself. Let him live upon what
belongs to him without wronging others, and accommodate his expense to
his revenue. Let him punish crimes, and, by his wise conduct, let him
endeavour to prevent them, rather than be severe when he has suffered
them to be too common. Let him not rashly revive laws that are
abrogated by disuse, especially if they have been long forgotten and
never wanted. And let him never take any penalty for the breach of them
to which a judge would not give way in a private man, but would look on
him as a crafty and unjust person for pretending to it. To these things
I would add that law among the Macarians—a people that live not far
from Utopia—by which their king, on the day on which he began to reign,
is tied by an oath, confirmed by solemn sacrifices, never to have at
once above a thousand pounds of gold in his treasures, or so much
silver as is equal to that in value. This law, they tell us, was made
by an excellent king who had more regard to the riches of his country
than to his own wealth, and therefore provided against the heaping up
of so much treasure as might impoverish the people. He thought that
moderate sum might be sufficient for any accident, if either the king
had occasion for it against the rebels, or the kingdom against the
invasion of an enemy; but that it was not enough to encourage a prince
to invade other men’s rights—a circumstance that was the chief cause of
his making that law. He also thought that it was a good provision for
that free circulation of money so necessary for the course of commerce
and exchange. And when a king must distribute all those extraordinary
accessions that increase treasure beyond the due pitch, it makes him
less disposed to oppress his subjects. Such a king as this will be the
terror of ill men, and will be beloved by all the good.

“If, I say, I should talk of these or such-like things to men that had
taken their bias another way, how deaf would they be to all I could
say!” “No doubt, very deaf,” answered I; “and no wonder, for one is
never to offer propositions or advice that we are certain will not be
entertained. Discourses so much out of the road could not avail
anything, nor have any effect on men whose minds were prepossessed with
different sentiments. This philosophical way of speculation is not
unpleasant among friends in a free conversation; but there is no room
for it in the courts of princes, where great affairs are carried on by
authority.” “That is what I was saying,” replied he, “that there is no
room for philosophy in the courts of princes.” “Yes, there is,” said I,
“but not for this speculative philosophy, that makes everything to be
alike fitting at all times; but there is another philosophy that is
more pliable, that knows its proper scene, accommodates itself to it,
and teaches a man with propriety and decency to act that part which has
fallen to his share. If when one of Plautus’ comedies is upon the
stage, and a company of servants are acting their parts, you should
come out in the garb of a philosopher, and repeat, out of _Octavia_, a
discourse of Seneca’s to Nero, would it not be better for you to say
nothing than by mixing things of such different natures to make an
impertinent tragi-comedy? for you spoil and corrupt the play that is in
hand when you mix with it things of an opposite nature, even though
they are much better. Therefore go through with the play that is acting
the best you can, and do not confound it because another that is
pleasanter comes into your thoughts. It is even so in a commonwealth
and in the councils of princes; if ill opinions cannot be quite rooted
out, and you cannot cure some received vice according to your wishes,
you must not, therefore, abandon the commonwealth, for the same reasons
as you should not forsake the ship in a storm because you cannot
command the winds. You are not obliged to assault people with
discourses that are out of their road, when you see that their received
notions must prevent your making an impression upon them: you ought
rather to cast about and to manage things with all the dexterity in
your power, so that, if you are not able to make them go well, they may
be as little ill as possible; for, except all men were good, everything
cannot be right, and that is a blessing that I do not at present hope
to see.” “According to your argument,” answered he, “all that I could
be able to do would be to preserve myself from being mad while I
endeavoured to cure the madness of others; for, if I speak truth, I
must repeat what I have said to you; and as for lying, whether a
philosopher can do it or not I cannot tell: I am sure I cannot do it.
But though these discourses may be uneasy and ungrateful to them, I do
not see why they should seem foolish or extravagant; indeed, if I
should either propose such things as Plato has contrived in his
‘Commonwealth,’ or as the Utopians practise in theirs, though they
might seem better, as certainly they are, yet they are so different
from our establishment, which is founded on property (there being no
such thing among them), that I could not expect that it would have any
effect on them. But such discourses as mine, which only call past evils
to mind and give warning of what may follow, leave nothing in them that
is so absurd that they may not be used at any time, for they can only
be unpleasant to those who are resolved to run headlong the contrary
way; and if we must let alone everything as absurd or
extravagant—which, by reason of the wicked lives of many, may seem
uncouth—we must, even among Christians, give over pressing the greatest
part of those things that Christ hath taught us, though He has
commanded us not to conceal them, but to proclaim on the housetops that
which He taught in secret. The greatest parts of His precepts are more
opposite to the lives of the men of this age than any part of my
discourse has been, but the preachers seem to have learned that craft
to which you advise me: for they, observing that the world would not
willingly suit their lives to the rules that Christ has given, have
fitted His doctrine, as if it had been a leaden rule, to their lives,
that so, some way or other, they might agree with one another. But I
see no other effect of this compliance except it be that men become
more secure in their wickedness by it; and this is all the success that
I can have in a court, for I must always differ from the rest, and then
I shall signify nothing; or, if I agree with them, I shall then only
help forward their madness. I do not comprehend what you mean by your
‘casting about,’ or by ‘the bending and handling things so dexterously
that, if they go not well, they may go as little ill as may be;’ for in
courts they will not bear with a man’s holding his peace or conniving
at what others do: a man must barefacedly approve of the worst counsels
and consent to the blackest designs: so that he would pass for a spy,
or, possibly, for a traitor, that did but coldly approve of such wicked
practices; and therefore when a man is engaged in such a society, he
will be so far from being able to mend matters by his ‘casting about,’
as you call it, that he will find no occasions of doing any good—the
ill company will sooner corrupt him than be the better for him; or if,
notwithstanding all their ill company, he still remains steady and
innocent, yet their follies and knavery will be imputed to him; and, by
mixing counsels with them, he must bear his share of all the blame that
belongs wholly to others.

“It was no ill simile by which Plato set forth the unreasonableness of
a philosopher’s meddling with government. ‘If a man,’ says he, ‘were to
see a great company run out every day into the rain and take delight in
being wet—if he knew that it would be to no purpose for him to go and
persuade them to return to their houses in order to avoid the storm,
and that all that could be expected by his going to speak to them would
be that he himself should be as wet as they, it would be best for him
to keep within doors, and, since he had not influence enough to correct
other people’s folly, to take care to preserve himself.’

“Though, to speak plainly my real sentiments, I must freely own that as
long as there is any property, and while money is the standard of all
other things, I cannot think that a nation can be governed either
justly or happily: not justly, because the best things will fall to the
share of the worst men; nor happily, because all things will be divided
among a few (and even these are not in all respects happy), the rest
being left to be absolutely miserable. Therefore, when I reflect on the
wise and good constitution of the Utopians, among whom all things are
so well governed and with so few laws, where virtue hath its due
reward, and yet there is such an equality that every man lives in
plenty—when I compare with them so many other nations that are still
making new laws, and yet can never bring their constitution to a right
regulation; where, notwithstanding every one has his property, yet all
the laws that they can invent have not the power either to obtain or
preserve it, or even to enable men certainly to distinguish what is
their own from what is another’s, of which the many lawsuits that every
day break out, and are eternally depending, give too plain a
demonstration—when, I say, I balance all these things in my thoughts, I
grow more favourable to Plato, and do not wonder that he resolved not
to make any laws for such as would not submit to a community of all
things; for so wise a man could not but foresee that the setting all
upon a level was the only way to make a nation happy; which cannot be
obtained so long as there is property, for when every man draws to
himself all that he can compass, by one title or another, it must needs
follow that, how plentiful soever a nation may be, yet a few dividing
the wealth of it among themselves, the rest must fall into indigence.
So that there will be two sorts of people among them, who deserve that
their fortunes should be interchanged—the former useless, but wicked
and ravenous; and the latter, who by their constant industry serve the
public more than themselves, sincere and modest men—from whence I am
persuaded that till property is taken away, there can be no equitable
or just distribution of things, nor can the world be happily governed;
for as long as that is maintained, the greatest and the far best part
of mankind, will be still oppressed with a load of cares and anxieties.
I confess, without taking it quite away, those pressures that lie on a
great part of mankind may be made lighter, but they can never be quite
removed; for if laws were made to determine at how great an extent in
soil, and at how much money, every man must stop—to limit the prince,
that he might not grow too great; and to restrain the people, that they
might not become too insolent—and that none might factiously aspire to
public employments, which ought neither to be sold nor made burdensome
by a great expense, since otherwise those that serve in them would be
tempted to reimburse themselves by cheats and violence, and it would
become necessary to find out rich men for undergoing those employments,
which ought rather to be trusted to the wise. These laws, I say, might
have such effect as good diet and care might have on a sick man whose
recovery is desperate; they might allay and mitigate the disease, but
it could never be quite healed, nor the body politic be brought again
to a good habit as long as property remains; and it will fall out, as
in a complication of diseases, that by applying a remedy to one sore
you will provoke another, and that which removes the one ill symptom
produces others, while the strengthening one part of the body weakens
the rest.” “On the contrary,” answered I, “it seems to me that men
cannot live conveniently where all things are common. How can there be
any plenty where every man will excuse himself from labour? for as the
hope of gain doth not excite him, so the confidence that he has in
other men’s industry may make him slothful. If people come to be
pinched with want, and yet cannot dispose of anything as their own,
what can follow upon this but perpetual sedition and bloodshed,
especially when the reverence and authority due to magistrates falls to
the ground? for I cannot imagine how that can be kept up among those
that are in all things equal to one another.” “I do not wonder,” said
he, “that it appears so to you, since you have no notion, or at least
no right one, of such a constitution; but if you had been in Utopia
with me, and had seen their laws and rules, as I did, for the space of
five years, in which I lived among them, and during which time I was so
delighted with them that indeed I should never have left them if it had
not been to make the discovery of that new world to the Europeans, you
would then confess that you had never seen a people so well constituted
as they.” “You will not easily persuade me,” said Peter, “that any
nation in that new world is better governed than those among us; for as
our understandings are not worse than theirs, so our government (if I
mistake not) being more ancient, a long practice has helped us to find
out many conveniences of life, and some happy chances have discovered
other things to us which no man’s understanding could ever have
invented.” “As for the antiquity either of their government or of
ours,” said he, “you cannot pass a true judgment of it unless you had
read their histories; for, if they are to be believed, they had towns
among them before these parts were so much as inhabited; and as for
those discoveries that have been either hit on by chance or made by
ingenious men, these might have happened there as well as here. I do
not deny but we are more ingenious than they are, but they exceed us
much in industry and application. They knew little concerning us before
our arrival among them. They call us all by a general name of ‘The
nations that lie beyond the equinoctial line;’ for their chronicle
mentions a shipwreck that was made on their coast twelve hundred years
ago, and that some Romans and Egyptians that were in the ship, getting
safe ashore, spent the rest of their days amongst them; and such was
their ingenuity that from this single opportunity they drew the
advantage of learning from those unlooked-for guests, and acquired all
the useful arts that were then among the Romans, and which were known
to these shipwrecked men; and by the hints that they gave them they
themselves found out even some of those arts which they could not fully
explain, so happily did they improve that accident of having some of
our people cast upon their shore. But if such an accident has at any
time brought any from thence into Europe, we have been so far from
improving it that we do not so much as remember it, as, in aftertimes
perhaps, it will be forgot by our people that I was ever there; for
though they, from one such accident, made themselves masters of all the
good inventions that were among us, yet I believe it would be long
before we should learn or put in practice any of the good institutions
that are among them. And this is the true cause of their being better
governed and living happier than we, though we come not short of them
in point of understanding or outward advantages.” Upon this I said to
him, “I earnestly beg you would describe that island very particularly
to us; be not too short, but set out in order all things relating to
their soil, their rivers, their towns, their people, their manners,
constitution, laws, and, in a word, all that you imagine we desire to
know; and you may well imagine that we desire to know everything
concerning them of which we are hitherto ignorant.” “I will do it very
willingly,” said he, “for I have digested the whole matter carefully,
but it will take up some time.” “Let us go, then,” said I, “first and
dine, and then we shall have leisure enough.” He consented; we went in
and dined, and after dinner came back and sat down in the same place. I
ordered my servants to take care that none might come and interrupt us,
and both Peter and I desired Raphael to be as good as his word. When he
saw that we were very intent upon it he paused a little to recollect
himself, and began in this manner:—

“The island of Utopia is in the middle two hundred miles broad, and
holds almost at the same breadth over a great part of it, but it grows
narrower towards both ends. Its figure is not unlike a crescent.
Between its horns the sea comes in eleven miles broad, and spreads
itself into a great bay, which is environed with land to the compass of
about five hundred miles, and is well secured from winds. In this bay
there is no great current; the whole coast is, as it were, one
continued harbour, which gives all that live in the island great
convenience for mutual commerce. But the entry into the bay, occasioned
by rocks on the one hand and shallows on the other, is very dangerous.
In the middle of it there is one single rock which appears above water,
and may, therefore, easily be avoided; and on the top of it there is a
tower, in which a garrison is kept; the other rocks lie under water,
and are very dangerous. The channel is known only to the natives; so
that if any stranger should enter into the bay without one of their
pilots he would run great danger of shipwreck. For even they themselves
could not pass it safe if some marks that are on the coast did not
direct their way; and if these should be but a little shifted, any
fleet that might come against them, how great soever it were, would be
certainly lost. On the other side of the island there are likewise many
harbours; and the coast is so fortified, both by nature and art, that a
small number of men can hinder the descent of a great army. But they
report (and there remains good marks of it to make it credible) that
this was no island at first, but a part of the continent. Utopus, that
conquered it (whose name it still carries, for Abraxa was its first
name), brought the rude and uncivilised inhabitants into such a good
government, and to that measure of politeness, that they now far excel
all the rest of mankind. Having soon subdued them, he designed to
separate them from the continent, and to bring the sea quite round
them. To accomplish this he ordered a deep channel to be dug, fifteen
miles long; and that the natives might not think he treated them like
slaves, he not only forced the inhabitants, but also his own soldiers,
to labour in carrying it on. As he set a vast number of men to work,
he, beyond all men’s expectations, brought it to a speedy conclusion.
And his neighbours, who at first laughed at the folly of the
undertaking, no sooner saw it brought to perfection than they were
struck with admiration and terror.

“There are fifty-four cities in the island, all large and well built,
the manners, customs, and laws of which are the same, and they are all
contrived as near in the same manner as the ground on which they stand
will allow. The nearest lie at least twenty-four miles’ distance from
one another, and the most remote are not so far distant but that a man
can go on foot in one day from it to that which lies next it. Every
city sends three of their wisest senators once a year to Amaurot, to
consult about their common concerns; for that is the chief town of the
island, being situated near the centre of it, so that it is the most
convenient place for their assemblies. The jurisdiction of every city
extends at least twenty miles, and, where the towns lie wider, they
have much more ground. No town desires to enlarge its bounds, for the
people consider themselves rather as tenants than landlords. They have
built, over all the country, farmhouses for husbandmen, which are well
contrived, and furnished with all things necessary for country labour.
Inhabitants are sent, by turns, from the cities to dwell in them; no
country family has fewer than forty men and women in it, besides two
slaves. There is a master and a mistress set over every family, and
over thirty families there is a magistrate. Every year twenty of this
family come back to the town after they have stayed two years in the
country, and in their room there are other twenty sent from the town,
that they may learn country work from those that have been already one
year in the country, as they must teach those that come to them the
next from the town. By this means such as dwell in those country farms
are never ignorant of agriculture, and so commit no errors which might
otherwise be fatal and bring them under a scarcity of corn. But though
there is every year such a shifting of the husbandmen to prevent any
man being forced against his will to follow that hard course of life
too long, yet many among them take such pleasure in it that they desire
leave to continue in it many years. These husbandmen till the ground,
breed cattle, hew wood, and convey it to the towns either by land or
water, as is most convenient. They breed an infinite multitude of
chickens in a very curious manner; for the hens do not sit and hatch
them, but a vast number of eggs are laid in a gentle and equal heat in
order to be hatched, and they are no sooner out of the shell, and able
to stir about, but they seem to consider those that feed them as their
mothers, and follow them as other chickens do the hen that hatched
them. They breed very few horses, but those they have are full of
mettle, and are kept only for exercising their youth in the art of
sitting and riding them; for they do not put them to any work, either
of ploughing or carriage, in which they employ oxen. For though their
horses are stronger, yet they find oxen can hold out longer; and as
they are not subject to so many diseases, so they are kept upon a less
charge and with less trouble. And even when they are so worn out that
they are no more fit for labour, they are good meat at last. They sow
no corn but that which is to be their bread; for they drink either
wine, cider or perry, and often water, sometimes boiled with honey or
liquorice, with which they abound; and though they know exactly how
much corn will serve every town and all that tract of country which
belongs to it, yet they sow much more and breed more cattle than are
necessary for their consumption, and they give that overplus of which
they make no use to their neighbours. When they want anything in the
country which it does not produce, they fetch that from the town,
without carrying anything in exchange for it. And the magistrates of
the town take care to see it given them; for they meet generally in the
town once a month, upon a festival day. When the time of harvest comes,
the magistrates in the country send to those in the towns and let them
know how many hands they will need for reaping the harvest; and the
number they call for being sent to them, they commonly despatch it all
in one day.


“He that knows one of their towns knows them all—they are so like one
another, except where the situation makes some difference. I shall
therefore describe one of them, and none is so proper as Amaurot; for
as none is more eminent (all the rest yielding in precedence to this,
because it is the seat of their supreme council), so there was none of
them better known to me, I having lived five years all together in it.

“It lies upon the side of a hill, or, rather, a rising ground. Its
figure is almost square, for from the one side of it, which shoots up
almost to the top of the hill, it runs down, in a descent for two
miles, to the river Anider; but it is a little broader the other way
that runs along by the bank of that river. The Anider rises about
eighty miles above Amaurot, in a small spring at first. But other
brooks falling into it, of which two are more considerable than the
rest, as it runs by Amaurot it is grown half a mile broad; but, it
still grows larger and larger, till, after sixty miles’ course below
it, it is lost in the ocean. Between the town and the sea, and for some
miles above the town, it ebbs and flows every six hours with a strong
current. The tide comes up about thirty miles so full that there is
nothing but salt water in the river, the fresh water being driven back
with its force; and above that, for some miles, the water is brackish;
but a little higher, as it runs by the town, it is quite fresh; and
when the tide ebbs, it continues fresh all along to the sea. There is a
bridge cast over the river, not of timber, but of fair stone,
consisting of many stately arches; it lies at that part of the town
which is farthest from the sea, so that the ships, without any
hindrance, lie all along the side of the town. There is, likewise,
another river that runs by it, which, though it is not great, yet it
runs pleasantly, for it rises out of the same hill on which the town
stands, and so runs down through it and falls into the Anider. The
inhabitants have fortified the fountain-head of this river, which
springs a little without the towns; that so, if they should happen to
be besieged, the enemy might not be able to stop or divert the course
of the water, nor poison it; from thence it is carried, in earthen
pipes, to the lower streets. And for those places of the town to which
the water of that small river cannot be conveyed, they have great
cisterns for receiving the rain-water, which supplies the want of the
other. The town is compassed with a high and thick wall, in which there
are many towers and forts; there is also a broad and deep dry ditch,
set thick with thorns, cast round three sides of the town, and the
river is instead of a ditch on the fourth side. The streets are very
convenient for all carriage, and are well sheltered from the winds.
Their buildings are good, and are so uniform that a whole side of a
street looks like one house. The streets are twenty feet broad; there
lie gardens behind all their houses. These are large, but enclosed with
buildings, that on all hands face the streets, so that every house has
both a door to the street and a back door to the garden. Their doors
have all two leaves, which, as they are easily opened, so they shut of
their own accord; and, there being no property among them, every man
may freely enter into any house whatsoever. At every ten years’ end
they shift their houses by lots. They cultivate their gardens with
great care, so that they have both vines, fruits, herbs, and flowers in
them; and all is so well ordered and so finely kept that I never saw
gardens anywhere that were both so fruitful and so beautiful as theirs.
And this humour of ordering their gardens so well is not only kept up
by the pleasure they find in it, but also by an emulation between the
inhabitants of the several streets, who vie with each other. And there
is, indeed, nothing belonging to the whole town that is both more
useful and more pleasant. So that he who founded the town seems to have
taken care of nothing more than of their gardens; for they say the
whole scheme of the town was designed at first by Utopus, but he left
all that belonged to the ornament and improvement of it to be added by
those that should come after him, that being too much for one man to
bring to perfection. Their records, that contain the history of their
town and State, are preserved with an exact care, and run backwards
seventeen hundred and sixty years. From these it appears that their
houses were at first low and mean, like cottages, made of any sort of
timber, and were built with mud walls and thatched with straw. But now
their houses are three storeys high, the fronts of them are faced
either with stone, plastering, or brick, and between the facings of
their walls they throw in their rubbish. Their roofs are flat, and on
them they lay a sort of plaster, which costs very little, and yet is so
tempered that it is not apt to take fire, and yet resists the weather
more than lead. They have great quantities of glass among them, with
which they glaze their windows; they use also in their windows a thin
linen cloth, that is so oiled or gummed that it both keeps out the wind
and gives free admission to the light.


“Thirty families choose every year a magistrate, who was anciently
called the Syphogrant, but is now called the Philarch; and over every
ten Syphogrants, with the families subject to them, there is another
magistrate, who was anciently called the Tranibore, but of late the
Archphilarch. All the Syphogrants, who are in number two hundred,
choose the Prince out of a list of four who are named by the people of
the four divisions of the city; but they take an oath, before they
proceed to an election, that they will choose him whom they think most
fit for the office: they give him their voices secretly, so that it is
not known for whom every one gives his suffrage. The Prince is for
life, unless he is removed upon suspicion of some design to enslave the
people. The Tranibors are new chosen every year, but yet they are, for
the most part, continued; all their other magistrates are only annual.
The Tranibors meet every third day, and oftener if necessary, and
consult with the Prince either concerning the affairs of the State in
general, or such private differences as may arise sometimes among the
people, though that falls out but seldom. There are always two
Syphogrants called into the council chamber, and these are changed
every day. It is a fundamental rule of their government, that no
conclusion can be made in anything that relates to the public till it
has been first debated three several days in their council. It is death
for any to meet and consult concerning the State, unless it be either
in their ordinary council, or in the assembly of the whole body of the

“These things have been so provided among them that the Prince and the
Tranibors may not conspire together to change the government and
enslave the people; and therefore when anything of great importance is
set on foot, it is sent to the Syphogrants, who, after they have
communicated it to the families that belong to their divisions, and
have considered it among themselves, make report to the senate; and,
upon great occasions, the matter is referred to the council of the
whole island. One rule observed in their council is, never to debate a
thing on the same day in which it is first proposed; for that is always
referred to the next meeting, that so men may not rashly and in the
heat of discourse engage themselves too soon, which might bias them so
much that, instead of consulting the good of the public, they might
rather study to support their first opinions, and by a perverse and
preposterous sort of shame hazard their country rather than endanger
their own reputation, or venture the being suspected to have wanted
foresight in the expedients that they at first proposed; and therefore,
to prevent this, they take care that they may rather be deliberate than
sudden in their motions.


“Agriculture is that which is so universally understood among them that
no person, either man or woman, is ignorant of it; they are instructed
in it from their childhood, partly by what they learn at school, and
partly by practice, they being led out often into the fields about the
town, where they not only see others at work but are likewise exercised
in it themselves. Besides agriculture, which is so common to them all,
every man has some peculiar trade to which he applies himself; such as
the manufacture of wool or flax, masonry, smith’s work, or carpenter’s
work; for there is no sort of trade that is in great esteem among them.
Throughout the island they wear the same sort of clothes, without any
other distinction except what is necessary to distinguish the two sexes
and the married and unmarried. The fashion never alters, and as it is
neither disagreeable nor uneasy, so it is suited to the climate, and
calculated both for their summers and winters. Every family makes their
own clothes; but all among them, women as well as men, learn one or
other of the trades formerly mentioned. Women, for the most part, deal
in wool and flax, which suit best with their weakness, leaving the
ruder trades to the men. The same trade generally passes down from
father to son, inclinations often following descent: but if any man’s
genius lies another way he is, by adoption, translated into a family
that deals in the trade to which he is inclined; and when that is to be
done, care is taken, not only by his father, but by the magistrate,
that he may be put to a discreet and good man: and if, after a person
has learned one trade, he desires to acquire another, that is also
allowed, and is managed in the same manner as the former. When he has
learned both, he follows that which he likes best, unless the public
has more occasion for the other.

The chief, and almost the only, business of the Syphogrants is to take
care that no man may live idle, but that every one may follow his trade
diligently; yet they do not wear themselves out with perpetual toil
from morning to night, as if they were beasts of burden, which as it is
indeed a heavy slavery, so it is everywhere the common course of life
amongst all mechanics except the Utopians: but they, dividing the day
and night into twenty-four hours, appoint six of these for work, three
of which are before dinner and three after; they then sup, and at eight
o’clock, counting from noon, go to bed and sleep eight hours: the rest
of their time, besides that taken up in work, eating, and sleeping, is
left to every man’s discretion; yet they are not to abuse that interval
to luxury and idleness, but must employ it in some proper exercise,
according to their various inclinations, which is, for the most part,
reading. It is ordinary to have public lectures every morning before
daybreak, at which none are obliged to appear but those who are marked
out for literature; yet a great many, both men and women, of all ranks,
go to hear lectures of one sort or other, according to their
inclinations: but if others that are not made for contemplation, choose
rather to employ themselves at that time in their trades, as many of
them do, they are not hindered, but are rather commended, as men that
take care to serve their country. After supper they spend an hour in
some diversion, in summer in their gardens, and in winter in the halls
where they eat, where they entertain each other either with music or
discourse. They do not so much as know dice, or any such foolish and
mischievous games. They have, however, two sorts of games not unlike
our chess; the one is between several numbers, in which one number, as
it were, consumes another; the other resembles a battle between the
virtues and the vices, in which the enmity in the vices among
themselves, and their agreement against virtue, is not unpleasantly
represented; together with the special opposition between the
particular virtues and vices; as also the methods by which vice either
openly assaults or secretly undermines virtue; and virtue, on the other
hand, resists it. But the time appointed for labour is to be narrowly
examined, otherwise you may imagine that since there are only six hours
appointed for work, they may fall under a scarcity of necessary
provisions: but it is so far from being true that this time is not
sufficient for supplying them with plenty of all things, either
necessary or convenient, that it is rather too much; and this you will
easily apprehend if you consider how great a part of all other nations
is quite idle. First, women generally do little, who are the half of
mankind; and if some few women are diligent, their husbands are idle:
then consider the great company of idle priests, and of those that are
called religious men; add to these all rich men, chiefly those that
have estates in land, who are called noblemen and gentlemen, together
with their families, made up of idle persons, that are kept more for
show than use; add to these all those strong and lusty beggars that go
about pretending some disease in excuse for their begging; and upon the
whole account you will find that the number of those by whose labours
mankind is supplied is much less than you perhaps imagined: then
consider how few of those that work are employed in labours that are of
real service, for we, who measure all things by money, give rise to
many trades that are both vain and superfluous, and serve only to
support riot and luxury: for if those who work were employed only in
such things as the conveniences of life require, there would be such an
abundance of them that the prices of them would so sink that tradesmen
could not be maintained by their gains; if all those who labour about
useless things were set to more profitable employments, and if all they
that languish out their lives in sloth and idleness (every one of whom
consumes as much as any two of the men that are at work) were forced to
labour, you may easily imagine that a small proportion of time would
serve for doing all that is either necessary, profitable, or pleasant
to mankind, especially while pleasure is kept within its due bounds:
this appears very plainly in Utopia; for there, in a great city, and in
all the territory that lies round it, you can scarce find five hundred,
either men or women, by their age and strength capable of labour, that
are not engaged in it. Even the Syphogrants, though excused by the law,
yet do not excuse themselves, but work, that by their examples they may
excite the industry of the rest of the people; the like exemption is
allowed to those who, being recommended to the people by the priests,
are, by the secret suffrages of the Syphogrants, privileged from
labour, that they may apply themselves wholly to study; and if any of
these fall short of those hopes that they seemed at first to give, they
are obliged to return to work; and sometimes a mechanic that so employs
his leisure hours as to make a considerable advancement in learning is
eased from being a tradesman and ranked among their learned men. Out of
these they choose their ambassadors, their priests, their Tranibors,
and the Prince himself, anciently called their Barzenes, but is called
of late their Ademus.

“And thus from the great numbers among them that are neither suffered
to be idle nor to be employed in any fruitless labour, you may easily
make the estimate how much may be done in those few hours in which they
are obliged to labour. But, besides all that has been already said, it
is to be considered that the needful arts among them are managed with
less labour than anywhere else. The building or the repairing of houses
among us employ many hands, because often a thriftless heir suffers a
house that his father built to fall into decay, so that his successor
must, at a great cost, repair that which he might have kept up with a
small charge; it frequently happens that the same house which one
person built at a vast expense is neglected by another, who thinks he
has a more delicate sense of the beauties of architecture, and he,
suffering it to fall to ruin, builds another at no less charge. But
among the Utopians all things are so regulated that men very seldom
build upon a new piece of ground, and are not only very quick in
repairing their houses, but show their foresight in preventing their
decay, so that their buildings are preserved very long with but very
little labour, and thus the builders, to whom that care belongs, are
often without employment, except the hewing of timber and the squaring
of stones, that the materials may be in readiness for raising a
building very suddenly when there is any occasion for it. As to their
clothes, observe how little work is spent in them; while they are at
labour they are clothed with leather and skins, cut carelessly about
them, which will last seven years, and when they appear in public they
put on an upper garment which hides the other; and these are all of one
colour, and that is the natural colour of the wool. As they need less
woollen cloth than is used anywhere else, so that which they make use
of is much less costly; they use linen cloth more, but that is prepared
with less labour, and they value cloth only by the whiteness of the
linen or the cleanness of the wool, without much regard to the fineness
of the thread. While in other places four or five upper garments of
woollen cloth of different colours, and as many vests of silk, will
scarce serve one man, and while those that are nicer think ten too few,
every man there is content with one, which very often serves him two
years; nor is there anything that can tempt a man to desire more, for
if he had them he would neither be the, warmer nor would he make one
jot the better appearance for it. And thus, since they are all employed
in some useful labour, and since they content themselves with fewer
things, it falls out that there is a great abundance of all things
among them; so that it frequently happens that, for want of other work,
vast numbers are sent out to mend the highways; but when no public
undertaking is to be performed, the hours of working are lessened. The
magistrates never engage the people in unnecessary labour, since the
chief end of the constitution is to regulate labour by the necessities
of the public, and to allow the people as much time as is necessary for
the improvement of their minds, in which they think the happiness of
life consists.


“But it is now time to explain to you the mutual intercourse of this
people, their commerce, and the rules by which all things are
distributed among them.

“As their cities are composed of families, so their families are made
up of those that are nearly related to one another. Their women, when
they grow up, are married out, but all the males, both children and
grand-children, live still in the same house, in great obedience to
their common parent, unless age has weakened his understanding, and in
that case he that is next to him in age comes in his room; but lest any
city should become either too great, or by any accident be dispeopled,
provision is made that none of their cities may contain above six
thousand families, besides those of the country around it. No family
may have less than ten and more than sixteen persons in it, but there
can be no determined number for the children under age; this rule is
easily observed by removing some of the children of a more fruitful
couple to any other family that does not abound so much in them. By the
same rule they supply cities that do not increase so fast from others
that breed faster; and if there is any increase over the whole island,
then they draw out a number of their citizens out of the several towns
and send them over to the neighbouring continent, where, if they find
that the inhabitants have more soil than they can well cultivate, they
fix a colony, taking the inhabitants into their society if they are
willing to live with them; and where they do that of their own accord,
they quickly enter into their method of life and conform to their
rules, and this proves a happiness to both nations; for, according to
their constitution, such care is taken of the soil that it becomes
fruitful enough for both, though it might be otherwise too narrow and
barren for any one of them. But if the natives refuse to conform
themselves to their laws they drive them out of those bounds which they
mark out for themselves, and use force if they resist, for they account
it a very just cause of war for a nation to hinder others from
possessing a part of that soil of which they make no use, but which is
suffered to lie idle and uncultivated, since every man has, by the law
of nature, a right to such a waste portion of the earth as is necessary
for his subsistence. If an accident has so lessened the number of the
inhabitants of any of their towns that it cannot be made up from the
other towns of the island without diminishing them too much (which is
said to have fallen out but twice since they were first a people, when
great numbers were carried off by the plague), the loss is then
supplied by recalling as many as are wanted from their colonies, for
they will abandon these rather than suffer the towns in the island to
sink too low.

“But to return to their manner of living in society: the oldest man of
every family, as has been already said, is its governor; wives serve
their husbands, and children their parents, and always the younger
serves the elder. Every city is divided into four equal parts, and in
the middle of each there is a market-place. What is brought thither,
and manufactured by the several families, is carried from thence to
houses appointed for that purpose, in which all things of a sort are
laid by themselves; and thither every father goes, and takes whatsoever
he or his family stand in need of, without either paying for it or
leaving anything in exchange. There is no reason for giving a denial to
any person, since there is such plenty of everything among them; and
there is no danger of a man’s asking for more than he needs; they have
no inducements to do this, since they are sure they shall always be
supplied: it is the fear of want that makes any of the whole race of
animals either greedy or ravenous; but, besides fear, there is in man a
pride that makes him fancy it a particular glory to excel others in
pomp and excess; but by the laws of the Utopians, there is no room for
this. Near these markets there are others for all sorts of provisions,
where there are not only herbs, fruits, and bread, but also fish, fowl,
and cattle. There are also, without their towns, places appointed near
some running water for killing their beasts and for washing away their
filth, which is done by their slaves; for they suffer none of their
citizens to kill their cattle, because they think that pity and
good-nature, which are among the best of those affections that are born
with us, are much impaired by the butchering of animals; nor do they
suffer anything that is foul or unclean to be brought within their
towns, lest the air should be infected by ill-smells, which might
prejudice their health. In every street there are great halls, that lie
at an equal distance from each other, distinguished by particular
names. The Syphogrants dwell in those that are set over thirty
families, fifteen lying on one side of it, and as many on the other. In
these halls they all meet and have their repasts; the stewards of every
one of them come to the market-place at an appointed hour, and
according to the number of those that belong to the hall they carry
home provisions. But they take more care of their sick than of any
others; these are lodged and provided for in public hospitals. They
have belonging to every town four hospitals, that are built without
their walls, and are so large that they may pass for little towns; by
this means, if they had ever such a number of sick persons, they could
lodge them conveniently, and at such a distance that such of them as
are sick of infectious diseases may be kept so far from the rest that
there can be no danger of contagion. The hospitals are furnished and
stored with all things that are convenient for the ease and recovery of
the sick; and those that are put in them are looked after with such
tender and watchful care, and are so constantly attended by their
skilful physicians, that as none is sent to them against their will, so
there is scarce one in a whole town that, if he should fall ill, would
not choose rather to go thither than lie sick at home.

“After the steward of the hospitals has taken for the sick whatsoever
the physician prescribes, then the best things that are left in the
market are distributed equally among the halls in proportion to their
numbers; only, in the first place, they serve the Prince, the Chief
Priest, the Tranibors, the Ambassadors, and strangers, if there are
any, which, indeed, falls out but seldom, and for whom there are
houses, well furnished, particularly appointed for their reception when
they come among them. At the hours of dinner and supper the whole
Syphogranty being called together by sound of trumpet, they meet and
eat together, except only such as are in the hospitals or lie sick at
home. Yet, after the halls are served, no man is hindered to carry
provisions home from the market-place, for they know that none does
that but for some good reason; for though any that will may eat at
home, yet none does it willingly, since it is both ridiculous and
foolish for any to give themselves the trouble to make ready an ill
dinner at home when there is a much more plentiful one made ready for
him so near hand. All the uneasy and sordid services about these halls
are performed by their slaves; but the dressing and cooking their meat,
and the ordering their tables, belong only to the women, all those of
every family taking it by turns. They sit at three or more tables,
according to their number; the men sit towards the wall, and the women
sit on the other side, that if any of them should be taken suddenly
ill, which is no uncommon case amongst women with child, she may,
without disturbing the rest, rise and go to the nurses’ room (who are
there with the sucking children), where there is always clean water at
hand and cradles, in which they may lay the young children if there is
occasion for it, and a fire, that they may shift and dress them before
it. Every child is nursed by its own mother if death or sickness does
not intervene; and in that case the Syphogrants’ wives find out a nurse
quickly, which is no hard matter, for any one that can do it offers
herself cheerfully; for as they are much inclined to that piece of
mercy, so the child whom they nurse considers the nurse as its mother.
All the children under five years old sit among the nurses; the rest of
the younger sort of both sexes, till they are fit for marriage, either
serve those that sit at table, or, if they are not strong enough for
that, stand by them in great silence and eat what is given them; nor
have they any other formality of dining. In the middle of the first
table, which stands across the upper end of the hall, sit the
Syphogrant and his wife, for that is the chief and most conspicuous
place; next to him sit two of the most ancient, for there go always
four to a mess. If there is a temple within the Syphogranty, the Priest
and his wife sit with the Syphogrant above all the rest; next them
there is a mixture of old and young, who are so placed that as the
young are set near others, so they are mixed with the more ancient;
which, they say, was appointed on this account: that the gravity of the
old people, and the reverence that is due to them, might restrain the
younger from all indecent words and gestures. Dishes are not served up
to the whole table at first, but the best are first set before the old,
whose seats are distinguished from the young, and, after them, all the
rest are served alike. The old men distribute to the younger any
curious meats that happen to be set before them, if there is not such
an abundance of them that the whole company may be served alike.

“Thus old men are honoured with a particular respect, yet all the rest
fare as well as they. Both dinner and supper are begun with some
lecture of morality that is read to them; but it is so short that it is
not tedious nor uneasy to them to hear it. From hence the old men take
occasion to entertain those about them with some useful and pleasant
enlargements; but they do not engross the whole discourse so to
themselves during their meals that the younger may not put in for a
share; on the contrary, they engage them to talk, that so they may, in
that free way of conversation, find out the force of every one’s spirit
and observe his temper. They despatch their dinners quickly, but sit
long at supper, because they go to work after the one, and are to sleep
after the other, during which they think the stomach carries on the
concoction more vigorously. They never sup without music, and there is
always fruit served up after meat; while they are at table some burn
perfumes and sprinkle about fragrant ointments and sweet waters—in
short, they want nothing that may cheer up their spirits; they give
themselves a large allowance that way, and indulge themselves in all
such pleasures as are attended with no inconvenience. Thus do those
that are in the towns live together; but in the country, where they
live at a great distance, every one eats at home, and no family wants
any necessary sort of provision, for it is from them that provisions
are sent unto those that live in the towns.


If any man has a mind to visit his friends that live in some other
town, or desires to travel and see the rest of the country, he obtains
leave very easily from the Syphogrant and Tranibors, when there is no
particular occasion for him at home. Such as travel carry with them a
passport from the Prince, which both certifies the licence that is
granted for travelling, and limits the time of their return. They are
furnished with a waggon and a slave, who drives the oxen and looks
after them; but, unless there are women in the company, the waggon is
sent back at the end of the journey as a needless encumbrance. While
they are on the road they carry no provisions with them, yet they want
for nothing, but are everywhere treated as if they were at home. If
they stay in any place longer than a night, every one follows his
proper occupation, and is very well used by those of his own trade; but
if any man goes out of the city to which he belongs without leave, and
is found rambling without a passport, he is severely treated, he is
punished as a fugitive, and sent home disgracefully; and, if he falls
again into the like fault, is condemned to slavery. If any man has a
mind to travel only over the precinct of his own city, he may freely do
it, with his father’s permission and his wife’s consent; but when he
comes into any of the country houses, if he expects to be entertained
by them, he must labour with them and conform to their rules; and if he
does this, he may freely go over the whole precinct, being then as
useful to the city to which he belongs as if he were still within it.
Thus you see that there are no idle persons among them, nor pretences
of excusing any from labour. There are no taverns, no ale-houses, nor
stews among them, nor any other occasions of corrupting each other, of
getting into corners, or forming themselves into parties; all men live
in full view, so that all are obliged both to perform their ordinary
task and to employ themselves well in their spare hours; and it is
certain that a people thus ordered must live in great abundance of all
things, and these being equally distributed among them, no man can want
or be obliged to beg.

“In their great council at Amaurot, to which there are three sent from
every town once a year, they examine what towns abound in provisions
and what are under any scarcity, that so the one may be furnished from
the other; and this is done freely, without any sort of exchange; for,
according to their plenty or scarcity, they supply or are supplied from
one another, so that indeed the whole island is, as it were, one
family. When they have thus taken care of their whole country, and laid
up stores for two years (which they do to prevent the ill consequences
of an unfavourable season), they order an exportation of the overplus,
both of corn, honey, wool, flax, wood, wax, tallow, leather, and
cattle, which they send out, commonly in great quantities, to other
nations. They order a seventh part of all these goods to be freely
given to the poor of the countries to which they send them, and sell
the rest at moderate rates; and by this exchange they not only bring
back those few things that they need at home (for, indeed, they scarce
need anything but iron), but likewise a great deal of gold and silver;
and by their driving this trade so long, it is not to be imagined how
vast a treasure they have got among them, so that now they do not much
care whether they sell off their merchandise for money in hand or upon
trust. A great part of their treasure is now in bonds; but in all their
contracts no private man stands bound, but the writing runs in the name
of the town; and the towns that owe them money raise it from those
private hands that owe it to them, lay it up in their public chamber,
or enjoy the profit of it till the Utopians call for it; and they
choose rather to let the greatest part of it lie in their hands, who
make advantage by it, than to call for it themselves; but if they see
that any of their other neighbours stand more in need of it, then they
call it in and lend it to them. Whenever they are engaged in war, which
is the only occasion in which their treasure can be usefully employed,
they make use of it themselves; in great extremities or sudden
accidents they employ it in hiring foreign troops, whom they more
willingly expose to danger than their own people; they give them great
pay, knowing well that this will work even on their enemies; that it
will engage them either to betray their own side, or, at least, to
desert it; and that it is the best means of raising mutual jealousies
among them. For this end they have an incredible treasure; but they do
not keep it as a treasure, but in such a manner as I am almost afraid
to tell, lest you think it so extravagant as to be hardly credible.
This I have the more reason to apprehend because, if I had not seen it
myself, I could not have been easily persuaded to have believed it upon
any man’s report.

“It is certain that all things appear incredible to us in proportion as
they differ from known customs; but one who can judge aright will not
wonder to find that, since their constitution differs so much from
ours, their value of gold and silver should be measured by a very
different standard; for since they have no use for money among
themselves, but keep it as a provision against events which seldom
happen, and between which there are generally long intervening
intervals, they value it no farther than it deserves—that is, in
proportion to its use. So that it is plain they must prefer iron either
to gold or silver, for men can no more live without iron than without
fire or water; but Nature has marked out no use for the other metals so
essential as not easily to be dispensed with. The folly of men has
enhanced the value of gold and silver because of their scarcity;
whereas, on the contrary, it is their opinion that Nature, as an
indulgent parent, has freely given us all the best things in great
abundance, such as water and earth, but has laid up and hid from us the
things that are vain and useless.

“If these metals were laid up in any tower in the kingdom it would
raise a jealousy of the Prince and Senate, and give birth to that
foolish mistrust into which the people are apt to fall—a jealousy of
their intending to sacrifice the interest of the public to their own
private advantage. If they should work it into vessels, or any sort of
plate, they fear that the people might grow too fond of it, and so be
unwilling to let the plate be run down, if a war made it necessary, to
employ it in paying their soldiers. To prevent all these inconveniences
they have fallen upon an expedient which, as it agrees with their other
policy, so is it very different from ours, and will scarce gain belief
among us who value gold so much, and lay it up so carefully. They eat
and drink out of vessels of earth or glass, which make an agreeable
appearance, though formed of brittle materials; while they make their
chamber-pots and close-stools of gold and silver, and that not only in
their public halls but in their private houses. Of the same metals they
likewise make chains and fetters for their slaves, to some of which, as
a badge of infamy, they hang an earring of gold, and make others wear a
chain or a coronet of the same metal; and thus they take care by all
possible means to render gold and silver of no esteem; and from hence
it is that while other nations part with their gold and silver as
unwillingly as if one tore out their bowels, those of Utopia would look
on their giving in all they possess of those metals (when there were
any use for them) but as the parting with a trifle, or as we would
esteem the loss of a penny! They find pearls on their coasts, and
diamonds and carbuncles on their rocks; they do not look after them,
but, if they find them by chance, they polish them, and with them they
adorn their children, who are delighted with them, and glory in them
during their childhood; but when they grow to years, and see that none
but children use such baubles, they of their own accord, without being
bid by their parents, lay them aside, and would be as much ashamed to
use them afterwards as children among us, when they come to years, are
of their puppets and other toys.

“I never saw a clearer instance of the opposite impressions that
different customs make on people than I observed in the ambassadors of
the Anemolians, who came to Amaurot when I was there. As they came to
treat of affairs of great consequence, the deputies from several towns
met together to wait for their coming. The ambassadors of the nations
that lie near Utopia, knowing their customs, and that fine clothes are
in no esteem among them, that silk is despised, and gold is a badge of
infamy, used to come very modestly clothed; but the Anemolians, lying
more remote, and having had little commerce with them, understanding
that they were coarsely clothed, and all in the same manner, took it
for granted that they had none of those fine things among them of which
they made no use; and they, being a vainglorious rather than a wise
people, resolved to set themselves out with so much pomp that they
should look like gods, and strike the eyes of the poor Utopians with
their splendour. Thus three ambassadors made their entry with a hundred
attendants, all clad in garments of different colours, and the greater
part in silk; the ambassadors themselves, who were of the nobility of
their country, were in cloth-of-gold, and adorned with massy chains,
earrings and rings of gold; their caps were covered with bracelets set
full of pearls and other gems—in a word, they were set out with all
those things that among the Utopians were either the badges of slavery,
the marks of infamy, or the playthings of children. It was not
unpleasant to see, on the one side, how they looked big, when they
compared their rich habits with the plain clothes of the Utopians, who
were come out in great numbers to see them make their entry; and, on
the other, to observe how much they were mistaken in the impression
which they hoped this pomp would have made on them. It appeared so
ridiculous a show to all that had never stirred out of their country,
and had not seen the customs of other nations, that though they paid
some reverence to those that were the most meanly clad, as if they had
been the ambassadors, yet when they saw the ambassadors themselves so
full of gold and chains, they looked upon them as slaves, and forbore
to treat them with reverence. You might have seen the children who were
grown big enough to despise their playthings, and who had thrown away
their jewels, call to their mothers, push them gently, and cry out,
‘See that great fool, that wears pearls and gems as if he were yet a
child!’ while their mothers very innocently replied, ‘Hold your peace!
this, I believe, is one of the ambassadors’ fools.’ Others censured the
fashion of their chains, and observed, ‘That they were of no use, for
they were too slight to bind their slaves, who could easily break them;
and, besides, hung so loose about them that they thought it easy to
throw their away, and so get from them.” But after the ambassadors had
stayed a day among them, and saw so vast a quantity of gold in their
houses (which was as much despised by them as it was esteemed in other
nations), and beheld more gold and silver in the chains and fetters of
one slave than all their ornaments amounted to, their plumes fell, and
they were ashamed of all that glory for which they had formed valued
themselves, and accordingly laid it aside—a resolution that they
immediately took when, on their engaging in some free discourse with
the Utopians, they discovered their sense of such things and their
other customs. The Utopians wonder how any man should be so much taken
with the glaring doubtful lustre of a jewel or a stone, that can look
up to a star or to the sun himself; or how any should value himself
because his cloth is made of a finer thread; for, how fine soever that
thread may be, it was once no better than the fleece of a sheep, and
that sheep, was a sheep still, for all its wearing it. They wonder much
to hear that gold, which in itself is so useless a thing, should be
everywhere so much esteemed that even man, for whom it was made, and by
whom it has its value, should yet be thought of less value than this
metal; that a man of lead, who has no more sense than a log of wood,
and is as bad as he is foolish, should have many wise and good men to
serve him, only because he has a great heap of that metal; and that if
it should happen that by some accident or trick of law (which,
sometimes produces as great changes as chance itself) all this wealth
should pass from the master to the meanest varlet of his whole family,
he himself would very soon become one of his servants, as if he were a
thing that belonged to his wealth, and so were bound to follow its
fortune! But they much more admire and detest the folly of those who,
when they see a rich man, though they neither owe him anything, nor are
in any sort dependent on his bounty, yet, merely because he is rich,
give him little less than divine honours, even though they know him to
be so covetous and base-minded that, notwithstanding all his wealth, he
will not part with one farthing of it to them as long as he lives!

“These and such like notions have that people imbibed, partly from
their education, being bred in a country whose customs and laws are
opposite to all such foolish maxims, and partly from their learning and
studies—for though there are but few in any town that are so wholly
excused from labour as to give themselves entirely up to their studies
(these being only such persons as discover from their childhood an
extraordinary capacity and disposition for letters), yet their children
and a great part of the nation, both men and women, are taught to spend
those hours in which they are not obliged to work in reading; and this
they do through the whole progress of life. They have all their
learning in their own tongue, which is both a copious and pleasant
language, and in which a man can fully express his mind; it runs over a
great tract of many countries, but it is not equally pure in all
places. They had never so much as heard of the names of any of those
philosophers that are so famous in these parts of the world, before we
went among them; and yet they had made the same discoveries as the
Greeks, both in music, logic, arithmetic, and geometry. But as they are
almost in everything equal to the ancient philosophers, so they far
exceed our modern logicians for they have never yet fallen upon the
barbarous niceties that our youth are forced to learn in those trifling
logical schools that are among us. They are so far from minding
chimeras and fantastical images made in the mind that none of them
could comprehend what we meant when we talked to them of a man in the
abstract as common to all men in particular (so that though we spoke of
him as a thing that we could point at with our fingers, yet none of
them could perceive him) and yet distinct from every one, as if he were
some monstrous Colossus or giant; yet, for all this ignorance of these
empty notions, they knew astronomy, and were perfectly acquainted with
the motions of the heavenly bodies; and have many instruments, well
contrived and divided, by which they very accurately compute the course
and positions of the sun, moon, and stars. But for the cheat of
divining by the stars, by their oppositions or conjunctions, it has not
so much as entered into their thoughts. They have a particular
sagacity, founded upon much observation, in judging of the weather, by
which they know when they may look for rain, wind, or other alterations
in the air; but as to the philosophy of these things, the cause of the
saltness of the sea, of its ebbing and flowing, and of the original and
nature both of the heavens and the earth, they dispute of them partly
as our ancient philosophers have done, and partly upon some new
hypothesis, in which, as they differ from them, so they do not in all
things agree among themselves.

“As to moral philosophy, they have the same disputes among them as we
have here. They examine what are properly good, both for the body and
the mind; and whether any outward thing can be called truly _good_, or
if that term belong only to the endowments of the soul. They inquire,
likewise, into the nature of virtue and pleasure. But their chief
dispute is concerning the happiness of a man, and wherein it
consists—whether in some one thing or in a great many. They seem,
indeed, more inclinable to that opinion that places, if not the whole,
yet the chief part, of a man’s happiness in pleasure; and, what may
seem more strange, they make use of arguments even from religion,
notwithstanding its severity and roughness, for the support of that
opinion so indulgent to pleasure; for they never dispute concerning
happiness without fetching some arguments from the principles of
religion as well as from natural reason, since without the former they
reckon that all our inquiries after happiness must be but conjectural
and defective.

“These are their religious principles:—That the soul of man is
immortal, and that God of His goodness has designed that it should be
happy; and that He has, therefore, appointed rewards for good and
virtuous actions, and punishments for vice, to be distributed after
this life. Though these principles of religion are conveyed down among
them by tradition, they think that even reason itself determines a man
to believe and acknowledge them; and freely confess that if these were
taken away, no man would be so insensible as not to seek after pleasure
by all possible means, lawful or unlawful, using only this caution—that
a lesser pleasure might not stand in the way of a greater, and that no
pleasure ought to be pursued that should draw a great deal of pain
after it; for they think it the maddest thing in the world to pursue
virtue, that is a sour and difficult thing, and not only to renounce
the pleasures of life, but willingly to undergo much pain and trouble,
if a man has no prospect of a reward. And what reward can there be for
one that has passed his whole life, not only without pleasure, but in
pain, if there is nothing to be expected after death? Yet they do not
place happiness in all sorts of pleasures, but only in those that in
themselves are good and honest. There is a party among them who place
happiness in bare virtue; others think that our natures are conducted
by virtue to happiness, as that which is the chief good of man. They
define virtue thus—that it is a living according to Nature, and think
that we are made by God for that end; they believe that a man then
follows the dictates of Nature when he pursues or avoids things
according to the direction of reason. They say that the first dictate
of reason is the kindling in us a love and reverence for the Divine
Majesty, to whom we owe both all that we have and, all that we can ever
hope for. In the next place, reason directs us to keep our minds as
free from passion and as cheerful as we can, and that we should
consider ourselves as bound by the ties of good-nature and humanity to
use our utmost endeavours to help forward the happiness of all other
persons; for there never was any man such a morose and severe pursuer
of virtue, such an enemy to pleasure, that though he set hard rules for
men to undergo, much pain, many watchings, and other rigors, yet did
not at the same time advise them to do all they could in order to
relieve and ease the miserable, and who did not represent gentleness
and good-nature as amiable dispositions. And from thence they infer
that if a man ought to advance the welfare and comfort of the rest of
mankind (there being no virtue more proper and peculiar to our nature
than to ease the miseries of others, to free from trouble and anxiety,
in furnishing them with the comforts of life, in which pleasure
consists) Nature much more vigorously leads them to do all this for
himself. A life of pleasure is either a real evil, and in that case we
ought not to assist others in their pursuit of it, but, on the
contrary, to keep them from it all we can, as from that which is most
hurtful and deadly; or if it is a good thing, so that we not only may
but ought to help others to it, why, then, ought not a man to begin
with himself? since no man can be more bound to look after the good of
another than after his own; for Nature cannot direct us to be good and
kind to others, and yet at the same time to be unmerciful and cruel to
ourselves. Thus as they define virtue to be living according to Nature,
so they imagine that Nature prompts all people on to seek after
pleasure as the end of all they do. They also observe that in order to
our supporting the pleasures of life, Nature inclines us to enter into
society; for there is no man so much raised above the rest of mankind
as to be the only favourite of Nature, who, on the contrary, seems to
have placed on a level all those that belong to the same species. Upon
this they infer that no man ought to seek his own conveniences so
eagerly as to prejudice others; and therefore they think that not only
all agreements between private persons ought to be observed, but
likewise that all those laws ought to be kept which either a good
prince has published in due form, or to which a people that is neither
oppressed with tyranny nor circumvented by fraud has consented, for
distributing those conveniences of life which afford us all our

“They think it is an evidence of true wisdom for a man to pursue his
own advantage as far as the laws allow it, they account it piety to
prefer the public good to one’s private concerns, but they think it
unjust for a man to seek for pleasure by snatching another man’s
pleasures from him; and, on the contrary, they think it a sign of a
gentle and good soul for a man to dispense with his own advantage for
the good of others, and that by this means a good man finds as much
pleasure one way as he parts with another; for as he may expect the
like from others when he may come to need it, so, if that should fail
him, yet the sense of a good action, and the reflections that he makes
on the love and gratitude of those whom he has so obliged, gives the
mind more pleasure than the body could have found in that from which it
had restrained itself. They are also persuaded that God will make up
the loss of those small pleasures with a vast and endless joy, of which
religion easily convinces a good soul.

“Thus, upon an inquiry into the whole matter, they reckon that all our
actions, and even all our virtues, terminate in pleasure, as in our
chief end and greatest happiness; and they call every motion or state,
either of body or mind, in which Nature teaches us to delight, a
pleasure. Thus they cautiously limit pleasure only to those appetites
to which Nature leads us; for they say that Nature leads us only to
those delights to which reason, as well as sense, carries us, and by
which we neither injure any other person nor lose the possession of
greater pleasures, and of such as draw no troubles after them. But they
look upon those delights which men by a foolish, though common, mistake
call pleasure, as if they could change as easily the nature of things
as the use of words, as things that greatly obstruct their real
happiness, instead of advancing it, because they so entirely possess
the minds of those that are once captivated by them with a false notion
of pleasure that there is no room left for pleasures of a truer or
purer kind.

“There are many things that in themselves have nothing that is truly
delightful; on the contrary, they have a good deal of bitterness in
them; and yet, from our perverse appetites after forbidden objects, are
not only ranked among the pleasures, but are made even the greatest
designs, of life. Among those who pursue these sophisticated pleasures
they reckon such as I mentioned before, who think themselves really the
better for having fine clothes; in which they think they are doubly
mistaken, both in the opinion they have of their clothes, and in that
they have of themselves. For if you consider the use of clothes, why
should a fine thread be thought better than a coarse one? And yet these
men, as if they had some real advantages beyond others, and did not owe
them wholly to their mistakes, look big, seem to fancy themselves to be
more valuable, and imagine that a respect is due to them for the sake
of a rich garment, to which they would not have pretended if they had
been more meanly clothed, and even resent it as an affront if that
respect is not paid them. It is also a great folly to be taken with
outward marks of respect, which signify nothing; for what true or real
pleasure can one man find in another’s standing bare or making legs to
him? Will the bending another man’s knees give ease to yours? and will
the head’s being bare cure the madness of yours? And yet it is
wonderful to see how this false notion of pleasure bewitches many who
delight themselves with the fancy of their nobility, and are pleased
with this conceit—that they are descended from ancestors who have been
held for some successions rich, and who have had great possessions; for
this is all that makes nobility at present. Yet they do not think
themselves a whit the less noble, though their immediate parents have
left none of this wealth to them, or though they themselves have
squandered it away. The Utopians have no better opinion of those who
are much taken with gems and precious stones, and who account it a
degree of happiness next to a divine one if they can purchase one that
is very extraordinary, especially if it be of that sort of stones that
is then in greatest request, for the same sort is not at all times
universally of the same value, nor will men buy it unless it be
dismounted and taken out of the gold. The jeweller is then made to give
good security, and required solemnly to swear that the stone is true,
that, by such an exact caution, a false one might not be bought instead
of a true; though, if you were to examine it, your eye could find no
difference between the counterfeit and that which is true; so that they
are all one to you, as much as if you were blind. Or can it be thought
that they who heap up a useless mass of wealth, not for any use that it
is to bring them, but merely to please themselves with the
contemplation of it, enjoy any true pleasure in it? The delight they
find is only a false shadow of joy. Those are no better whose error is
somewhat different from the former, and who hide it out of their fear
of losing it; for what other name can fit the hiding it in the earth,
or, rather, the restoring it to it again, it being thus cut off from
being useful either to its owner or to the rest of mankind? And yet the
owner, having hid it carefully, is glad, because he thinks he is now
sure of it. If it should be stole, the owner, though he might live
perhaps ten years after the theft, of which he knew nothing, would find
no difference between his having or losing it, for both ways it was
equally useless to him.

“Among those foolish pursuers of pleasure they reckon all that delight
in hunting, in fowling, or gaming, of whose madness they have only
heard, for they have no such things among them. But they have asked us,
‘What sort of pleasure is it that men can find in throwing the dice?’
(for if there were any pleasure in it, they think the doing it so often
should give one a surfeit of it); ‘and what pleasure can one find in
hearing the barking and howling of dogs, which seem rather odious than
pleasant sounds?’ Nor can they comprehend the pleasure of seeing dogs
run after a hare, more than of seeing one dog run after another; for if
the seeing them run is that which gives the pleasure, you have the same
entertainment to the eye on both these occasions, since that is the
same in both cases. But if the pleasure lies in seeing the hare killed
and torn by the dogs, this ought rather to stir pity, that a weak,
harmless, and fearful hare should be devoured by strong, fierce, and
cruel dogs. Therefore all this business of hunting is, among the
Utopians, turned over to their butchers, and those, as has been already
said, are all slaves, and they look on hunting as one of the basest
parts of a butcher’s work, for they account it both more profitable and
more decent to kill those beasts that are more necessary and useful to
mankind, whereas the killing and tearing of so small and miserable an
animal can only attract the huntsman with a false show of pleasure,
from which he can reap but small advantage. They look on the desire of
the bloodshed, even of beasts, as a mark of a mind that is already
corrupted with cruelty, or that at least, by too frequent returns of so
brutal a pleasure, must degenerate into it.

“Thus though the rabble of mankind look upon these, and on innumerable
other things of the same nature, as pleasures, the Utopians, on the
contrary, observing that there is nothing in them truly pleasant,
conclude that they are not to be reckoned among pleasures; for though
these things may create some tickling in the senses (which seems to be
a true notion of pleasure), yet they imagine that this does not arise
from the thing itself, but from a depraved custom, which may so vitiate
a man’s taste that bitter things may pass for sweet, as women with
child think pitch or tallow taste sweeter than honey; but as a man’s
sense, when corrupted either by a disease or some ill habit, does not
change the nature of other things, so neither can it change the nature
of pleasure.

“They reckon up several sorts of pleasures, which they call true ones;
some belong to the body, and others to the mind. The pleasures of the
mind lie in knowledge, and in that delight which the contemplation of
truth carries with it; to which they add the joyful reflections on a
well-spent life, and the assured hopes of a future happiness. They
divide the pleasures of the body into two sorts—the one is that which
gives our senses some real delight, and is performed either by
recruiting Nature and supplying those parts which feed the internal
heat of life by eating and drinking, or when Nature is eased of any
surcharge that oppresses it, when we are relieved from sudden pain, or
that which arises from satisfying the appetite which Nature has wisely
given to lead us to the propagation of the species. There is another
kind of pleasure that arises neither from our receiving what the body
requires, nor its being relieved when overcharged, and yet, by a secret
unseen virtue, affects the senses, raises the passions, and strikes the
mind with generous impressions—this is, the pleasure that arises from
music. Another kind of bodily pleasure is that which results from an
undisturbed and vigorous constitution of body, when life and active
spirits seem to actuate every part. This lively health, when entirely
free from all mixture of pain, of itself gives an inward pleasure,
independent of all external objects of delight; and though this
pleasure does not so powerfully affect us, nor act so strongly on the
senses as some of the others, yet it may be esteemed as the greatest of
all pleasures; and almost all the Utopians reckon it the foundation and
basis of all the other joys of life, since this alone makes the state
of life easy and desirable, and when this is wanting, a man is really
capable of no other pleasure. They look upon freedom from pain, if it
does not rise from perfect health, to be a state of stupidity rather
than of pleasure. This subject has been very narrowly canvassed among
them, and it has been debated whether a firm and entire health could be
called a pleasure or not. Some have thought that there was no pleasure
but what was ‘excited’ by some sensible motion in the body. But this
opinion has been long ago excluded from among them; so that now they
almost universally agree that health is the greatest of all bodily
pleasures; and that as there is a pain in sickness which is as opposite
in its nature to pleasure as sickness itself is to health, so they hold
that health is accompanied with pleasure. And if any should say that
sickness is not really pain, but that it only carries pain along with
it, they look upon that as a fetch of subtlety that does not much alter
the matter. It is all one, in their opinion, whether it be said that
health is in itself a pleasure, or that it begets a pleasure, as fire
gives heat, so it be granted that all those whose health is entire have
a true pleasure in the enjoyment of it. And they reason thus:—‘What is
the pleasure of eating, but that a man’s health, which had been
weakened, does, with the assistance of food, drive away hunger, and so
recruiting itself, recovers its former vigour? And being thus refreshed
it finds a pleasure in that conflict; and if the conflict is pleasure,
the victory must yet breed a greater pleasure, except we fancy that it
becomes stupid as soon as it has obtained that which it pursued, and so
neither knows nor rejoices in its own welfare.’ If it is said that
health cannot be felt, they absolutely deny it; for what man is in
health, that does not perceive it when he is awake? Is there any man
that is so dull and stupid as not to acknowledge that he feels a
delight in health? And what is delight but another name for pleasure?

“But, of all pleasures, they esteem those to be most valuable that lie
in the mind, the chief of which arise out of true virtue and the
witness of a good conscience. They account health the chief pleasure
that belongs to the body; for they think that the pleasure of eating
and drinking, and all the other delights of sense, are only so far
desirable as they give or maintain health; but they are not pleasant in
themselves otherwise than as they resist those impressions that our
natural infirmities are still making upon us. For as a wise man desires
rather to avoid diseases than to take physic, and to be freed from pain
rather than to find ease by remedies, so it is more desirable not to
need this sort of pleasure than to be obliged to indulge it. If any man
imagines that there is a real happiness in these enjoyments, he must
then confess that he would be the happiest of all men if he were to
lead his life in perpetual hunger, thirst, and itching, and, by
consequence, in perpetual eating, drinking, and scratching himself;
which any one may easily see would be not only a base, but a miserable,
state of a life. These are, indeed, the lowest of pleasures, and the
least pure, for we can never relish them but when they are mixed with
the contrary pains. The pain of hunger must give us the pleasure of
eating, and here the pain out-balances the pleasure. And as the pain is
more vehement, so it lasts much longer; for as it begins before the
pleasure, so it does not cease but with the pleasure that extinguishes
it, and both expire together. They think, therefore, none of those
pleasures are to be valued any further than as they are necessary; yet
they rejoice in them, and with due gratitude acknowledge the tenderness
of the great Author of Nature, who has planted in us appetites, by
which those things that are necessary for our preservation are likewise
made pleasant to us. For how miserable a thing would life be if those
daily diseases of hunger and thirst were to be carried off by such
bitter drugs as we must use for those diseases that return seldomer
upon us! And thus these pleasant, as well as proper, gifts of Nature
maintain the strength and the sprightliness of our bodies.

“They also entertain themselves with the other delights let in at their
eyes, their ears, and their nostrils as the pleasant relishes and
seasoning of life, which Nature seems to have marked out peculiarly for
man, since no other sort of animals contemplates the figure and beauty
of the universe, nor is delighted with smells any further than as they
distinguish meats by them; nor do they apprehend the concords or
discords of sound. Yet, in all pleasures whatsoever, they take care
that a lesser joy does not hinder a greater, and that pleasure may
never breed pain, which they think always follows dishonest pleasures.
But they think it madness for a man to wear out the beauty of his face
or the force of his natural strength, to corrupt the sprightliness of
his body by sloth and laziness, or to waste it by fasting; that it is
madness to weaken the strength of his constitution and reject the other
delights of life, unless by renouncing his own satisfaction he can
either serve the public or promote the happiness of others, for which
he expects a greater recompense from God. So that they look on such a
course of life as the mark of a mind that is both cruel to itself and
ungrateful to the Author of Nature, as if we would not be beholden to
Him for His favours, and therefore rejects all His blessings; as one
who should afflict himself for the empty shadow of virtue, or for no
better end than to render himself capable of bearing those misfortunes
which possibly will never happen.

“This is their notion of virtue and of pleasure: they think that no
man’s reason can carry him to a truer idea of them unless some
discovery from heaven should inspire him with sublimer notions. I have
not now the leisure to examine whether they think right or wrong in
this matter; nor do I judge it necessary, for I have only undertaken to
give you an account of their constitution, but not to defend all their
principles. I am sure that whatever may be said of their notions, there
is not in the whole world either a better people or a happier
government. Their bodies are vigorous and lively; and though they are
but of a middle stature, and have neither the fruitfullest soil nor the
purest air in the world; yet they fortify themselves so well, by their
temperate course of life, against the unhealthiness of their air, and
by their industry they so cultivate their soil, that there is nowhere
to be seen a greater increase, both of corn and cattle, nor are there
anywhere healthier men and freer from diseases; for one may there see
reduced to practice not only all the art that the husbandman employs in
manuring and improving an ill soil, but whole woods plucked up by the
roots, and in other places new ones planted, where there were none
before. Their principal motive for this is the convenience of carriage,
that their timber may be either near their towns or growing on the
banks of the sea, or of some rivers, so as to be floated to them; for
it is a harder work to carry wood at any distance over land than corn.
The people are industrious, apt to learn, as well as cheerful and
pleasant, and none can endure more labour when it is necessary; but,
except in that case, they love their ease. They are unwearied pursuers
of knowledge; for when we had given them some hints of the learning and
discipline of the Greeks, concerning whom we only instructed them (for
we know that there was nothing among the Romans, except their
historians and their poets, that they would value much), it was strange
to see how eagerly they were set on learning that language: we began to
read a little of it to them, rather in compliance with their
importunity than out of any hopes of their reaping from it any great
advantage: but, after a very short trial, we found they made such
progress, that we saw our labour was like to be more successful than we
could have expected: they learned to write their characters and to
pronounce their language so exactly, had so quick an apprehension, they
remembered it so faithfully, and became so ready and correct in the use
of it, that it would have looked like a miracle if the greater part of
those whom we taught had not been men both of extraordinary capacity
and of a fit age for instruction: they were, for the greatest part,
chosen from among their learned men by their chief council, though some
studied it of their own accord. In three years’ time they became
masters of the whole language, so that they read the best of the Greek
authors very exactly. I am, indeed, apt to think that they learned that
language the more easily from its having some relation to their own. I
believe that they were a colony of the Greeks; for though their
language comes nearer the Persian, yet they retain many names, both for
their towns and magistrates, that are of Greek derivation. I happened
to carry a great many books with me, instead of merchandise, when I
sailed my fourth voyage; for I was so far from thinking of soon coming
back, that I rather thought never to have returned at all, and I gave
them all my books, among which were many of Plato’s and some of
Aristotle’s works: I had also Theophrastus on Plants, which, to my
great regret, was imperfect; for having laid it carelessly by, while we
were at sea, a monkey had seized upon it, and in many places torn out
the leaves. They have no books of grammar but Lascares, for I did not
carry Theodorus with me; nor have they any dictionaries but Hesichius
and Dioscerides. They esteem Plutarch highly, and were much taken with
Lucian’s wit and with his pleasant way of writing. As for the poets,
they have Aristophanes, Homer, Euripides, and Sophocles of Aldus’s
edition; and for historians, Thucydides, Herodotus, and Herodian. One
of my companions, Thricius Apinatus, happened to carry with him some of
Hippocrates’s works and Galen’s Microtechne, which they hold in great
estimation; for though there is no nation in the world that needs
physic so little as they do, yet there is not any that honours it so
much; they reckon the knowledge of it one of the pleasantest and most
profitable parts of philosophy, by which, as they search into the
secrets of nature, so they not only find this study highly agreeable,
but think that such inquiries are very acceptable to the Author of
nature; and imagine, that as He, like the inventors of curious engines
amongst mankind, has exposed this great machine of the universe to the
view of the only creatures capable of contemplating it, so an exact and
curious observer, who admires His workmanship, is much more acceptable
to Him than one of the herd, who, like a beast incapable of reason,
looks on this glorious scene with the eyes of a dull and unconcerned

“The minds of the Utopians, when fenced with a love for learning, are
very ingenious in discovering all such arts as are necessary to carry
it to perfection. Two things they owe to us, the manufacture of paper
and the art of printing; yet they are not so entirely indebted to us
for these discoveries but that a great part of the invention was their
own. We showed them some books printed by Aldus, we explained to them
the way of making paper and the mystery of printing; but, as we had
never practised these arts, we described them in a crude and
superficial manner. They seized the hints we gave them; and though at
first they could not arrive at perfection, yet by making many essays
they at last found out and corrected all their errors and conquered
every difficulty. Before this they only wrote on parchment, on reeds,
or on the barks of trees; but now they have established the
manufactures of paper and set up printing presses, so that, if they had
but a good number of Greek authors, they would be quickly supplied with
many copies of them: at present, though they have no more than those I
have mentioned, yet, by several impressions, they have multiplied them
into many thousands. If any man was to go among them that had some
extraordinary talent, or that by much travelling had observed the
customs of many nations (which made us to be so well received), he
would receive a hearty welcome, for they are very desirous to know the
state of the whole world. Very few go among them on the account of
traffic; for what can a man carry to them but iron, or gold, or silver?
which merchants desire rather to export than import to a strange
country: and as for their exportation, they think it better to manage
that themselves than to leave it to foreigners, for by this means, as
they understand the state of the neighbouring countries better, so they
keep up the art of navigation which cannot be maintained but by much


“They do not make slaves of prisoners of war, except those that are
taken in battle, nor of the sons of their slaves, nor of those of other
nations: the slaves among them are only such as are condemned to that
state of life for the commission of some crime, or, which is more
common, such as their merchants find condemned to die in those parts to
which they trade, whom they sometimes redeem at low rates, and in other
places have them for nothing. They are kept at perpetual labour, and
are always chained, but with this difference, that their own natives
are treated much worse than others: they are considered as more
profligate than the rest, and since they could not be restrained by the
advantages of so excellent an education, are judged worthy of harder
usage. Another sort of slaves are the poor of the neighbouring
countries, who offer of their own accord to come and serve them: they
treat these better, and use them in all other respects as well as their
own countrymen, except their imposing more labour upon them, which is
no hard task to those that have been accustomed to it; and if any of
these have a mind to go back to their own country, which, indeed, falls
out but seldom, as they do not force them to stay, so they do not send
them away empty-handed.

“I have already told you with what care they look after their sick, so
that nothing is left undone that can contribute either to their ease or
health; and for those who are taken with fixed and incurable diseases,
they use all possible ways to cherish them and to make their lives as
comfortable as possible. They visit them often and take great pains to
make their time pass off easily; but when any is taken with a torturing
and lingering pain, so that there is no hope either of recovery or
ease, the priests and magistrates come and exhort them, that, since
they are now unable to go on with the business of life, are become a
burden to themselves and to all about them, and they have really
out-lived themselves, they should no longer nourish such a rooted
distemper, but choose rather to die since they cannot live but in much
misery; being assured that if they thus deliver themselves from
torture, or are willing that others should do it, they shall be happy
after death: since, by their acting thus, they lose none of the
pleasures, but only the troubles of life, they think they behave not
only reasonably but in a manner consistent with religion and piety;
because they follow the advice given them by their priests, who are the
expounders of the will of God. Such as are wrought on by these
persuasions either starve themselves of their own accord, or take
opium, and by that means die without pain. But no man is forced on this
way of ending his life; and if they cannot be persuaded to it, this
does not induce them to fail in their attendance and care of them: but
as they believe that a voluntary death, when it is chosen upon such an
authority, is very honourable, so if any man takes away his own life
without the approbation of the priests and the senate, they give him
none of the honours of a decent funeral, but throw his body into a

“Their women are not married before eighteen nor their men before
two-and-twenty, and if any of them run into forbidden embraces before
marriage they are severely punished, and the privilege of marriage is
denied them unless they can obtain a special warrant from the Prince.
Such disorders cast a great reproach upon the master and mistress of
the family in which they happen, for it is supposed that they have
failed in their duty. The reason of punishing this so severely is,
because they think that if they were not strictly restrained from all
vagrant appetites, very few would engage in a state in which they
venture the quiet of their whole lives, by being confined to one
person, and are obliged to endure all the inconveniences with which it
is accompanied. In choosing their wives they use a method that would
appear to us very absurd and ridiculous, but it is constantly observed
among them, and is accounted perfectly consistent with wisdom. Before
marriage some grave matron presents the bride, naked, whether she is a
virgin or a widow, to the bridegroom, and after that some grave man
presents the bridegroom, naked, to the bride. We, indeed, both laughed
at this, and condemned it as very indecent. But they, on the other
hand, wondered at the folly of the men of all other nations, who, if
they are but to buy a horse of a small value, are so cautious that they
will see every part of him, and take off both his saddle and all his
other tackle, that there may be no secret ulcer hid under any of them,
and that yet in the choice of a wife, on which depends the happiness or
unhappiness of the rest of his life, a man should venture upon trust,
and only see about a handsbreadth of the face, all the rest of the body
being covered, under which may lie hid what may be contagious as well
as loathsome. All men are not so wise as to choose a woman only for her
good qualities, and even wise men consider the body as that which adds
not a little to the mind, and it is certain there may be some such
deformity covered with clothes as may totally alienate a man from his
wife, when it is too late to part with her; if such a thing is
discovered after marriage a man has no remedy but patience; they,
therefore, think it is reasonable that there should be good provision
made against such mischievous frauds.

“There was so much the more reason for them to make a regulation in
this matter, because they are the only people of those parts that
neither allow of polygamy nor of divorces, except in the case of
adultery or insufferable perverseness, for in these cases the Senate
dissolves the marriage and grants the injured person leave to marry
again; but the guilty are made infamous and are never allowed the
privilege of a second marriage. None are suffered to put away their
wives against their wills, from any great calamity that may have fallen
on their persons, for they look on it as the height of cruelty and
treachery to abandon either of the married persons when they need most
the tender care of their consort, and that chiefly in the case of old
age, which, as it carries many diseases along with it, so it is a
disease of itself. But it frequently falls out that when a married
couple do not well agree, they, by mutual consent, separate, and find
out other persons with whom they hope they may live more happily; yet
this is not done without obtaining leave of the Senate, which never
admits of a divorce but upon a strict inquiry made, both by the
senators and their wives, into the grounds upon which it is desired,
and even when they are satisfied concerning the reasons of it they go
on but slowly, for they imagine that too great easiness in granting
leave for new marriages would very much shake the kindness of married
people. They punish severely those that defile the marriage bed; if
both parties are married they are divorced, and the injured persons may
marry one another, or whom they please, but the adulterer and the
adulteress are condemned to slavery, yet if either of the injured
persons cannot shake off the love of the married person they may live
with them still in that state, but they must follow them to that labour
to which the slaves are condemned, and sometimes the repentance of the
condemned, together with the unshaken kindness of the innocent and
injured person, has prevailed so far with the Prince that he has taken
off the sentence; but those that relapse after they are once pardoned
are punished with death.

“Their law does not determine the punishment for other crimes, but that
is left to the Senate, to temper it according to the circumstances of
the fact. Husbands have power to correct their wives and parents to
chastise their children, unless the fault is so great that a public
punishment is thought necessary for striking terror into others. For
the most part slavery is the punishment even of the greatest crimes,
for as that is no less terrible to the criminals themselves than death,
so they think the preserving them in a state of servitude is more for
the interest of the commonwealth than killing them, since, as their
labour is a greater benefit to the public than their death could be, so
the sight of their misery is a more lasting terror to other men than
that which would be given by their death. If their slaves rebel, and
will not bear their yoke and submit to the labour that is enjoined
them, they are treated as wild beasts that cannot be kept in order,
neither by a prison nor by their chains, and are at last put to death.
But those who bear their punishment patiently, and are so much wrought
on by that pressure that lies so hard on them, that it appears they are
really more troubled for the crimes they have committed than for the
miseries they suffer, are not out of hope, but that, at last, either
the Prince will, by his prerogative, or the people, by their
intercession, restore them again to their liberty, or, at least, very
much mitigate their slavery. He that tempts a married woman to adultery
is no less severely punished than he that commits it, for they believe
that a deliberate design to commit a crime is equal to the fact itself,
since its not taking effect does not make the person that miscarried in
his attempt at all the less guilty.

“They take great pleasure in fools, and as it is thought a base and
unbecoming thing to use them ill, so they do not think it amiss for
people to divert themselves with their folly; and, in their opinion,
this is a great advantage to the fools themselves; for if men were so
sullen and severe as not at all to please themselves with their
ridiculous behaviour and foolish sayings, which is all that they can do
to recommend themselves to others, it could not be expected that they
would be so well provided for nor so tenderly used as they must
otherwise be. If any man should reproach another for his being
misshaped or imperfect in any part of his body, it would not at all be
thought a reflection on the person so treated, but it would be
accounted scandalous in him that had upbraided another with what he
could not help. It is thought a sign of a sluggish and sordid mind not
to preserve carefully one’s natural beauty; but it is likewise infamous
among them to use paint. They all see that no beauty recommends a wife
so much to her husband as the probity of her life and her obedience;
for as some few are caught and held only by beauty, so all are
attracted by the other excellences which charm all the world.

“As they fright men from committing crimes by punishments, so they
invite them to the love of virtue by public honours; therefore they
erect statues to the memories of such worthy men as have deserved well
of their country, and set these in their market-places, both to
perpetuate the remembrance of their actions and to be an incitement to
their posterity to follow their example.

“If any man aspires to any office he is sure never to compass it. They
all live easily together, for none of the magistrates are either
insolent or cruel to the people; they affect rather to be called
fathers, and, by being really so, they well deserve the name; and the
people pay them all the marks of honour the more freely because none
are exacted from them. The Prince himself has no distinction, either of
garments or of a crown; but is only distinguished by a sheaf of corn
carried before him; as the High Priest is also known by his being
preceded by a person carrying a wax light.

“They have but few laws, and such is their constitution that they need
not many. They very much condemn other nations whose laws, together
with the commentaries on them, swell up to so many volumes; for they
think it an unreasonable thing to oblige men to obey a body of laws
that are both of such a bulk, and so dark as not to be read and
understood by every one of the subjects.

“They have no lawyers among them, for they consider them as a sort of
people whose profession it is to disguise matters and to wrest the
laws, and, therefore, they think it is much better that every man
should plead his own cause, and trust it to the judge, as in other
places the client trusts it to a counsellor; by this means they both
cut off many delays and find out truth more certainly; for after the
parties have laid open the merits of the cause, without those artifices
which lawyers are apt to suggest, the judge examines the whole matter,
and supports the simplicity of such well-meaning persons, whom
otherwise crafty men would be sure to run down; and thus they avoid
those evils which appear very remarkably among all those nations that
labour under a vast load of laws. Every one of them is skilled in their
law; for, as it is a very short study, so the plainest meaning of which
words are capable is always the sense of their laws; and they argue
thus: all laws are promulgated for this end, that every man may know
his duty; and, therefore, the plainest and most obvious sense of the
words is that which ought to be put upon them, since a more refined
exposition cannot be easily comprehended, and would only serve to make
the laws become useless to the greater part of mankind, and especially
to those who need most the direction of them; for it is all one not to
make a law at all or to couch it in such terms that, without a quick
apprehension and much study, a man cannot find out the true meaning of
it, since the generality of mankind are both so dull, and so much
employed in their several trades, that they have neither the leisure
nor the capacity requisite for such an inquiry.

“Some of their neighbours, who are masters of their own liberties
(having long ago, by the assistance of the Utopians, shaken off the
yoke of tyranny, and being much taken with those virtues which they
observe among them), have come to desire that they would send
magistrates to govern them, some changing them every year, and others
every five years; at the end of their government they bring them back
to Utopia, with great expressions of honour and esteem, and carry away
others to govern in their stead. In this they seem to have fallen upon
a very good expedient for their own happiness and safety; for since the
good or ill condition of a nation depends so much upon their
magistrates, they could not have made a better choice than by pitching
on men whom no advantages can bias; for wealth is of no use to them,
since they must so soon go back to their own country, and they, being
strangers among them, are not engaged in any of their heats or
animosities; and it is certain that when public judicatories are
swayed, either by avarice or partial affections, there must follow a
dissolution of justice, the chief sinew of society.

“The Utopians call those nations that come and ask magistrates from
them Neighbours; but those to whom they have been of more particular
service, Friends; and as all other nations are perpetually either
making leagues or breaking them, they never enter into an alliance with
any state. They think leagues are useless things, and believe that if
the common ties of humanity do not knit men together, the faith of
promises will have no great effect; and they are the more confirmed in
this by what they see among the nations round about them, who are no
strict observers of leagues and treaties. We know how religiously they
are observed in Europe, more particularly where the Christian doctrine
is received, among whom they are sacred and inviolable! which is partly
owing to the justice and goodness of the princes themselves, and partly
to the reverence they pay to the popes, who, as they are the most
religious observers of their own promises, so they exhort all other
princes to perform theirs, and, when fainter methods do not prevail,
they compel them to it by the severity of the pastoral censure, and
think that it would be the most indecent thing possible if men who are
particularly distinguished by the title of ‘The Faithful’ should not
religiously keep the faith of their treaties. But in that new-found
world, which is not more distant from us in situation than the people
are in their manners and course of life, there is no trusting to
leagues, even though they were made with all the pomp of the most
sacred ceremonies; on the contrary, they are on this account the sooner
broken, some slight pretence being found in the words of the treaties,
which are purposely couched in such ambiguous terms that they can never
be so strictly bound but they will always find some loophole to escape
at, and thus they break both their leagues and their faith; and this is
done with such impudence, that those very men who value themselves on
having suggested these expedients to their princes would, with a
haughty scorn, declaim against such craft; or, to speak plainer, such
fraud and deceit, if they found private men make use of it in their
bargains, and would readily say that they deserved to be hanged.

“By this means it is that all sort of justice passes in the world for a
low-spirited and vulgar virtue, far below the dignity of royal
greatness—or at least there are set up two sorts of justice; the one is
mean and creeps on the ground, and, therefore, becomes none but the
lower part of mankind, and so must be kept in severely by many
restraints, that it may not break out beyond the bounds that are set to
it; the other is the peculiar virtue of princes, which, as it is more
majestic than that which becomes the rabble, so takes a freer compass,
and thus lawful and unlawful are only measured by pleasure and
interest. These practices of the princes that lie about Utopia, who
make so little account of their faith, seem to be the reasons that
determine them to engage in no confederacy. Perhaps they would change
their mind if they lived among us; but yet, though treaties were more
religiously observed, they would still dislike the custom of making
them, since the world has taken up a false maxim upon it, as if there
were no tie of nature uniting one nation to another, only separated
perhaps by a mountain or a river, and that all were born in a state of
hostility, and so might lawfully do all that mischief to their
neighbours against which there is no provision made by treaties; and
that when treaties are made they do not cut off the enmity or restrain
the licence of preying upon each other, if, by the unskilfulness of
wording them, there are not effectual provisoes made against them;
they, on the other hand, judge that no man is to be esteemed our enemy
that has never injured us, and that the partnership of human nature is
instead of a league; and that kindness and good nature unite men more
effectually and with greater strength than any agreements whatsoever,
since thereby the engagements of men’s hearts become stronger than the
bond and obligation of words.


They detest war as a very brutal thing, and which, to the reproach of
human nature, is more practised by men than by any sort of beasts.
They, in opposition to the sentiments of almost all other nations,
think that there is nothing more inglorious than that glory that is
gained by war; and therefore, though they accustom themselves daily to
military exercises and the discipline of war, in which not only their
men, but their women likewise, are trained up, that, in cases of
necessity, they may not be quite useless, yet they do not rashly engage
in war, unless it be either to defend themselves or their friends from
any unjust aggressors, or, out of good nature or in compassion, assist
an oppressed nation in shaking off the yoke of tyranny. They, indeed,
help their friends not only in defensive but also in offensive wars;
but they never do that unless they had been consulted before the breach
was made, and, being satisfied with the grounds on which they went,
they had found that all demands of reparation were rejected, so that a
war was unavoidable. This they think to be not only just when one
neighbour makes an inroad on another by public order, and carries away
the spoils, but when the merchants of one country are oppressed in
another, either under pretence of some unjust laws, or by the perverse
wresting of good ones. This they count a juster cause of war than the
other, because those injuries are done under some colour of laws. This
was the only ground of that war in which they engaged with the
Nephelogetes against the Aleopolitanes, a little before our time; for
the merchants of the former having, as they thought, met with great
injustice among the latter, which (whether it was in itself right or
wrong) drew on a terrible war, in which many of their neighbours were
engaged; and their keenness in carrying it on being supported by their
strength in maintaining it, it not only shook some very flourishing
states and very much afflicted others, but, after a series of much
mischief ended in the entire conquest and slavery of the Aleopolitanes,
who, though before the war they were in all respects much superior to
the Nephelogetes, were yet subdued; but, though the Utopians had
assisted them in the war, yet they pretended to no share of the spoil.

“But, though they so vigorously assist their friends in obtaining
reparation for the injuries they have received in affairs of this
nature, yet, if any such frauds were committed against themselves,
provided no violence was done to their persons, they would only, on
their being refused satisfaction, forbear trading with such a people.
This is not because they consider their neighbours more than their own
citizens; but, since their neighbours trade every one upon his own
stock, fraud is a more sensible injury to them than it is to the
Utopians, among whom the public, in such a case, only suffers, as they
expect no thing in return for the merchandise they export but that in
which they so much abound, and is of little use to them, the loss does
not much affect them. They think, therefore, it would be too severe to
revenge a loss attended with so little inconvenience, either to their
lives or their subsistence, with the death of many persons; but if any
of their people are either killed or wounded wrongfully, whether it be
done by public authority, or only by private men, as soon as they hear
of it they send ambassadors, and demand that the guilty persons may be
delivered up to them, and if that is denied, they declare war; but if
it be complied with, the offenders are condemned either to death or

“They would be both troubled and ashamed of a bloody victory over their
enemies; and think it would be as foolish a purchase as to buy the most
valuable goods at too high a rate. And in no victory do they glory so
much as in that which is gained by dexterity and good conduct without
bloodshed. In such cases they appoint public triumphs, and erect
trophies to the honour of those who have succeeded; for then do they
reckon that a man acts suitably to his nature, when he conquers his
enemy in such a way as that no other creature but a man could be
capable of, and that is by the strength of his understanding. Bears,
lions, boars, wolves, and dogs, and all other animals, employ their
bodily force one against another, in which, as many of them are
superior to men, both in strength and fierceness, so they are all
subdued by his reason and understanding.

“The only design of the Utopians in war is to obtain that by force
which, if it had been granted them in time, would have prevented the
war; or, if that cannot be done, to take so severe a revenge on those
that have injured them that they may be terrified from doing the like
for the time to come. By these ends they measure all their designs, and
manage them so, that it is visible that the appetite of fame or
vainglory does not work so much on there as a just care of their own

“As soon as they declare war, they take care to have a great many
schedules, that are sealed with their common seal, affixed in the most
conspicuous places of their enemies’ country. This is carried secretly,
and done in many places all at once. In these they promise great
rewards to such as shall kill the prince, and lesser in proportion to
such as shall kill any other persons who are those on whom, next to the
prince himself, they cast the chief balance of the war. And they double
the sum to him that, instead of killing the person so marked out, shall
take him alive, and put him in their hands. They offer not only
indemnity, but rewards, to such of the persons themselves that are so
marked, if they will act against their countrymen. By this means those
that are named in their schedules become not only distrustful of their
fellow-citizens, but are jealous of one another, and are much
distracted by fear and danger; for it has often fallen out that many of
them, and even the prince himself, have been betrayed, by those in whom
they have trusted most; for the rewards that the Utopians offer are so
immeasurably great, that there is no sort of crime to which men cannot
be drawn by them. They consider the risk that those run who undertake
such services, and offer a recompense proportioned to the danger—not
only a vast deal of gold, but great revenues in lands, that lie among
other nations that are their friends, where they may go and enjoy them
very securely; and they observe the promises they make of their kind
most religiously. They very much approve of this way of corrupting
their enemies, though it appears to others to be base and cruel; but
they look on it as a wise course, to make an end of what would be
otherwise a long war, without so much as hazarding one battle to decide
it. They think it likewise an act of mercy and love to mankind to
prevent the great slaughter of those that must otherwise be killed in
the progress of the war, both on their own side and on that of their
enemies, by the death of a few that are most guilty; and that in so
doing they are kind even to their enemies, and pity them no less than
their own people, as knowing that the greater part of them do not
engage in the war of their own accord, but are driven into it by the
passions of their prince.

“If this method does not succeed with them, then they sow seeds of
contention among their enemies, and animate the prince’s brother, or
some of the nobility, to aspire to the crown. If they cannot disunite
them by domestic broils, then they engage their neighbours against
them, and make them set on foot some old pretensions, which are never
wanting to princes when they have occasion for them. These they
plentifully supply with money, though but very sparingly with any
auxiliary troops; for they are so tender of their own people that they
would not willingly exchange one of them, even with the prince of their
enemies’ country.

“But as they keep their gold and silver only for such an occasion, so,
when that offers itself, they easily part with it; since it would be no
convenience to them, though they should reserve nothing of it to
themselves. For besides the wealth that they have among them at home,
they have a vast treasure abroad; many nations round about them being
deep in their debt: so that they hire soldiers from all places for
carrying on their wars; but chiefly from the Zapolets, who live five
hundred miles east of Utopia. They are a rude, wild, and fierce nation,
who delight in the woods and rocks, among which they were born and bred
up. They are hardened both against heat, cold, and labour, and know
nothing of the delicacies of life. They do not apply themselves to
agriculture, nor do they care either for their houses or their clothes:
cattle is all that they look after; and for the greatest part they live
either by hunting or upon rapine; and are made, as it were, only for
war. They watch all opportunities of engaging in it, and very readily
embrace such as are offered them. Great numbers of them will frequently
go out, and offer themselves for a very low pay, to serve any that will
employ them: they know none of the arts of life, but those that lead to
the taking it away; they serve those that hire them, both with much
courage and great fidelity; but will not engage to serve for any
determined time, and agree upon such terms, that the next day they may
go over to the enemies of those whom they serve if they offer them a
greater encouragement; and will, perhaps, return to them the day after
that upon a higher advance of their pay. There are few wars in which
they make not a considerable part of the armies of both sides: so it
often falls out that they who are related, and were hired in the same
country, and so have lived long and familiarly together, forgetting
both their relations and former friendship, kill one another upon no
other consideration than that of being hired to it for a little money
by princes of different interests; and such a regard have they for
money that they are easily wrought on by the difference of one penny a
day to change sides. So entirely does their avarice influence them; and
yet this money, which they value so highly, is of little use to them;
for what they purchase thus with their blood they quickly waste on
luxury, which among them is but of a poor and miserable form.

“This nation serves the Utopians against all people whatsoever, for
they pay higher than any other. The Utopians hold this for a maxim,
that as they seek out the best sort of men for their own use at home,
so they make use of this worst sort of men for the consumption of war;
and therefore they hire them with the offers of vast rewards to expose
themselves to all sorts of hazards, out of which the greater part never
returns to claim their promises; yet they make them good most
religiously to such as escape. This animates them to adventure again,
whenever there is occasion for it; for the Utopians are not at all
troubled how many of these happen to be killed, and reckon it a service
done to mankind if they could be a means to deliver the world from such
a lewd and vicious sort of people, that seem to have run together, as
to the drain of human nature. Next to these, they are served in their
wars with those upon whose account they undertake them, and with the
auxiliary troops of their other friends, to whom they join a few of
their own people, and send some man of eminent and approved virtue to
command in chief. There are two sent with him, who, during his command,
are but private men, but the first is to succeed him if he should
happen to be either killed or taken; and, in case of the like
misfortune to him, the third comes in his place; and thus they provide
against all events, that such accidents as may befall their generals
may not endanger their armies. When they draw out troops of their own
people, they take such out of every city as freely offer themselves,
for none are forced to go against their wills, since they think that if
any man is pressed that wants courage, he will not only act faintly,
but by his cowardice dishearten others. But if an invasion is made on
their country, they make use of such men, if they have good bodies,
though they are not brave; and either put them aboard their ships, or
place them on the walls of their towns, that being so posted, they may
find no opportunity of flying away; and thus either shame, the heat of
action, or the impossibility of flying, bears down their cowardice;
they often make a virtue of necessity, and behave themselves well,
because nothing else is left them. But as they force no man to go into
any foreign war against his will, so they do not hinder those women who
are willing to go along with their husbands; on the contrary, they
encourage and praise them, and they stand often next their husbands in
the front of the army. They also place together those who are related,
parents, and children, kindred, and those that are mutually allied,
near one another; that those whom nature has inspired with the greatest
zeal for assisting one another may be the nearest and readiest to do
it; and it is matter of great reproach if husband or wife survive one
another, or if a child survives his parent, and therefore when they
come to be engaged in action, they continue to fight to the last man,
if their enemies stand before them: and as they use all prudent methods
to avoid the endangering their own men, and if it is possible let all
the action and danger fall upon the troops that they hire, so if it
becomes necessary for themselves to engage, they then charge with as
much courage as they avoided it before with prudence: nor is it a
fierce charge at first, but it increases by degrees; and as they
continue in action, they grow more obstinate, and press harder upon the
enemy, insomuch that they will much sooner die than give ground; for
the certainty that their children will be well looked after when they
are dead frees them from all that anxiety concerning them which often
masters men of great courage; and thus they are animated by a noble and
invincible resolution. Their skill in military affairs increases their
courage: and the wise sentiments which, according to the laws of their
country, are instilled into them in their education, give additional
vigour to their minds: for as they do not undervalue life so as
prodigally to throw it away, they are not so indecently fond of it as
to preserve it by base and unbecoming methods. In the greatest heat of
action the bravest of their youth, who have devoted themselves to that
service, single out the general of their enemies, set on him either
openly or by ambuscade; pursue him everywhere, and when spent and
wearied out, are relieved by others, who never give over the pursuit,
either attacking him with close weapons when they can get near him, or
with those which wound at a distance, when others get in between them.
So that, unless he secures himself by flight, they seldom fail at last
to kill or to take him prisoner. When they have obtained a victory,
they kill as few as possible, and are much more bent on taking many
prisoners than on killing those that fly before them. Nor do they ever
let their men so loose in the pursuit of their enemies as not to retain
an entire body still in order; so that if they have been forced to
engage the last of their battalions before they could gain the day,
they will rather let their enemies all escape than pursue them when
their own army is in disorder; remembering well what has often fallen
out to themselves, that when the main body of their army has been quite
defeated and broken, when their enemies, imagining the victory
obtained, have let themselves loose into an irregular pursuit, a few of
them that lay for a reserve, waiting a fit opportunity, have fallen on
them in their chase, and when straggling in disorder, and apprehensive
of no danger, but counting the day their own, have turned the whole
action, and, wresting out of their hands a victory that seemed certain
and undoubted, while the vanquished have suddenly become victorious.

“It is hard to tell whether they are more dexterous in laying or
avoiding ambushes. They sometimes seem to fly when it is far from their
thoughts; and when they intend to give ground, they do it so that it is
very hard to find out their design. If they see they are ill posted, or
are like to be overpowered by numbers, they then either march off in
the night with great silence, or by some stratagem delude their
enemies. If they retire in the day-time, they do it in such order that
it is no less dangerous to fall upon them in a retreat than in a march.
They fortify their camps with a deep and large trench; and throw up the
earth that is dug out of it for a wall; nor do they employ only their
slaves in this, but the whole army works at it, except those that are
then upon the guard; so that when so many hands are at work, a great
line and a strong fortification is finished in so short a time that it
is scarce credible. Their armour is very strong for defence, and yet is
not so heavy as to make them uneasy in their marches; they can even
swim with it. All that are trained up to war practise swimming. Both
horse and foot make great use of arrows, and are very expert. They have
no swords, but fight with a pole-axe that is both sharp and heavy, by
which they thrust or strike down an enemy. They are very good at
finding out warlike machines, and disguise them so well that the enemy
does not perceive them till he feels the use of them; so that he cannot
prepare such a defence as would render them useless; the chief
consideration had in the making them is that they may be easily carried
and managed.

“If they agree to a truce, they observe it so religiously that no
provocations will make them break it. They never lay their enemies’
country waste nor burn their corn, and even in their marches they take
all possible care that neither horse nor foot may tread it down, for
they do not know but that they may have use for it themselves. They
hurt no man whom they find disarmed, unless he is a spy. When a town is
surrendered to them, they take it into their protection; and when they
carry a place by storm they never plunder it, but put those only to the
sword that oppose the rendering of it up, and make the rest of the
garrison slaves, but for the other inhabitants, they do them no hurt;
and if any of them had advised a surrender, they give them good rewards
out of the estates of those that they condemn, and distribute the rest
among their auxiliary troops, but they themselves take no share of the

“When a war is ended, they do not oblige their friends to reimburse
their expenses; but they obtain them of the conquered, either in money,
which they keep for the next occasion, or in lands, out of which a
constant revenue is to be paid them; by many increases the revenue
which they draw out from several countries on such occasions is now
risen to above 700,000 ducats a year. They send some of their own
people to receive these revenues, who have orders to live magnificently
and like princes, by which means they consume much of it upon the
place; and either bring over the rest to Utopia or lend it to that
nation in which it lies. This they most commonly do, unless some great
occasion, which falls out but very seldom, should oblige them to call
for it all. It is out of these lands that they assign rewards to such
as they encourage to adventure on desperate attempts. If any prince
that engages in war with them is making preparations for invading their
country, they prevent him, and make his country the seat of the war;
for they do not willingly suffer any war to break in upon their island;
and if that should happen, they would only defend themselves by their
own people; but would not call for auxiliary troops to their


“There are several sorts of religions, not only in different parts of
the island, but even in every town; some worshipping the sun, others
the moon or one of the planets. Some worship such men as have been
eminent in former times for virtue or glory, not only as ordinary
deities, but as the supreme god. Yet the greater and wiser sort of them
worship none of these, but adore one eternal, invisible, infinite, and
incomprehensible Deity; as a Being that is far above all our
apprehensions, that is spread over the whole universe, not by His bulk,
but by His power and virtue; Him they call the Father of All, and
acknowledge that the beginnings, the increase, the progress, the
vicissitudes, and the end of all things come only from Him; nor do they
offer divine honours to any but to Him alone. And, indeed, though they
differ concerning other things, yet all agree in this: that they think
there is one Supreme Being that made and governs the world, whom they
call, in the language of their country, Mithras. They differ in this:
that one thinks the god whom he worships is this Supreme Being, and
another thinks that his idol is that god; but they all agree in one
principle, that whoever is this Supreme Being, He is also that great
essence to whose glory and majesty all honours are ascribed by the
consent of all nations.

“By degrees they fall off from the various superstitions that are among
them, and grow up to that one religion that is the best and most in
request; and there is no doubt to be made, but that all the others had
vanished long ago, if some of those who advised them to lay aside their
superstitions had not met with some unhappy accidents, which, being
considered as inflicted by heaven, made them afraid that the god whose
worship had like to have been abandoned had interposed and revenged
themselves on those who despised their authority.

“After they had heard from us an account of the doctrine, the course of
life, and the miracles of Christ, and of the wonderful constancy of so
many martyrs, whose blood, so willingly offered up by them, was the
chief occasion of spreading their religion over a vast number of
nations, it is not to be imagined how inclined they were to receive it.
I shall not determine whether this proceeded from any secret
inspiration of God, or whether it was because it seemed so favourable
to that community of goods, which is an opinion so particular as well
as so dear to them; since they perceived that Christ and His followers
lived by that rule, and that it was still kept up in some communities
among the sincerest sort of Christians. From whichsoever of these
motives it might be, true it is, that many of them came over to our
religion, and were initiated into it by baptism. But as two of our
number were dead, so none of the four that survived were in priests’
orders, we, therefore, could only baptise them, so that, to our great
regret, they could not partake of the other sacraments, that can only
be administered by priests, but they are instructed concerning them and
long most vehemently for them. They have had great disputes among
themselves, whether one chosen by them to be a priest would not be
thereby qualified to do all the things that belong to that character,
even though he had no authority derived from the Pope, and they seemed
to be resolved to choose some for that employment, but they had not
done it when I left them.

“Those among them that have not received our religion do not fright any
from it, and use none ill that goes over to it, so that all the while I
was there one man was only punished on this occasion. He being newly
baptised did, notwithstanding all that we could say to the contrary,
dispute publicly concerning the Christian religion, with more zeal than
discretion, and with so much heat, that he not only preferred our
worship to theirs, but condemned all their rites as profane, and cried
out against all that adhered to them as impious and sacrilegious
persons, that were to be damned to everlasting burnings. Upon his
having frequently preached in this manner he was seized, and after
trial he was condemned to banishment, not for having disparaged their
religion, but for his inflaming the people to sedition; for this is one
of their most ancient laws, that no man ought to be punished for his
religion. At the first constitution of their government, Utopus having
understood that before his coming among them the old inhabitants had
been engaged in great quarrels concerning religion, by which they were
so divided among themselves, that he found it an easy thing to conquer
them, since, instead of uniting their forces against him, every
different party in religion fought by themselves. After he had subdued
them he made a law that every man might be of what religion he pleased,
and might endeavour to draw others to it by the force of argument and
by amicable and modest ways, but without bitterness against those of
other opinions; but that he ought to use no other force but that of
persuasion, and was neither to mix with it reproaches nor violence; and
such as did otherwise were to be condemned to banishment or slavery.

“This law was made by Utopus, not only for preserving the public peace,
which he saw suffered much by daily contentions and irreconcilable
heats, but because he thought the interest of religion itself required
it. He judged it not fit to determine anything rashly; and seemed to
doubt whether those different forms of religion might not all come from
God, who might inspire man in a different manner, and be pleased with
this variety; he therefore thought it indecent and foolish for any man
to threaten and terrify another to make him believe what did not appear
to him to be true. And supposing that only one religion was really
true, and the rest false, he imagined that the native force of truth
would at last break forth and shine bright, if supported only by the
strength of argument, and attended to with a gentle and unprejudiced
mind; while, on the other hand, if such debates were carried on with
violence and tumults, as the most wicked are always the most obstinate,
so the best and most holy religion might be choked with superstition,
as corn is with briars and thorns; he therefore left men wholly to
their liberty, that they might be free to believe as they should see
cause; only he made a solemn and severe law against such as should so
far degenerate from the dignity of human nature, as to think that our
souls died with our bodies, or that the world was governed by chance,
without a wise overruling Providence: for they all formerly believed
that there was a state of rewards and punishments to the good and bad
after this life; and they now look on those that think otherwise as
scarce fit to be counted men, since they degrade so noble a being as
the soul, and reckon it no better than a beast’s: thus they are far
from looking on such men as fit for human society, or to be citizens of
a well-ordered commonwealth; since a man of such principles must needs,
as oft as he dares do it, despise all their laws and customs: for there
is no doubt to be made, that a man who is afraid of nothing but the
law, and apprehends nothing after death, will not scruple to break
through all the laws of his country, either by fraud or force, when by
this means he may satisfy his appetites. They never raise any that hold
these maxims, either to honours or offices, nor employ them in any
public trust, but despise them, as men of base and sordid minds. Yet
they do not punish them, because they lay this down as a maxim, that a
man cannot make himself believe anything he pleases; nor do they drive
any to dissemble their thoughts by threatenings, so that men are not
tempted to lie or disguise their opinions; which being a sort of fraud,
is abhorred by the Utopians: they take care indeed to prevent their
disputing in defence of these opinions, especially before the common
people: but they suffer, and even encourage them to dispute concerning
them in private with their priest, and other grave men, being confident
that they will be cured of those mad opinions by having reason laid
before them. There are many among them that run far to the other
extreme, though it is neither thought an ill nor unreasonable opinion,
and therefore is not at all discouraged. They think that the souls of
beasts are immortal, though far inferior to the dignity of the human
soul, and not capable of so great a happiness. They are almost all of
them very firmly persuaded that good men will be infinitely happy in
another state: so that though they are compassionate to all that are
sick, yet they lament no man’s death, except they see him loath to part
with life; for they look on this as a very ill presage, as if the soul,
conscious to itself of guilt, and quite hopeless, was afraid to leave
the body, from some secret hints of approaching misery. They think that
such a man’s appearance before God cannot be acceptable to Him, who
being called on, does not go out cheerfully, but is backward and
unwilling, and is as it were dragged to it. They are struck with horror
when they see any die in this manner, and carry them out in silence and
with sorrow, and praying God that He would be merciful to the errors of
the departed soul, they lay the body in the ground: but when any die
cheerfully, and full of hope, they do not mourn for them, but sing
hymns when they carry out their bodies, and commending their souls very
earnestly to God: their whole behaviour is then rather grave than sad,
they burn the body, and set up a pillar where the pile was made, with
an inscription to the honour of the deceased. When they come from the
funeral, they discourse of his good life, and worthy actions, but speak
of nothing oftener and with more pleasure than of his serenity at the
hour of death. They think such respect paid to the memory of good men
is both the greatest incitement to engage others to follow their
example, and the most acceptable worship that can be offered them; for
they believe that though by the imperfection of human sight they are
invisible to us, yet they are present among us, and hear those
discourses that pass concerning themselves. They believe it
inconsistent with the happiness of departed souls not to be at liberty
to be where they will: and do not imagine them capable of the
ingratitude of not desiring to see those friends with whom they lived
on earth in the strictest bonds of love and kindness: besides, they are
persuaded that good men, after death, have these affections; and all
other good dispositions increased rather than diminished, and therefore
conclude that they are still among the living, and observe all they say
or do. From hence they engage in all their affairs with the greater
confidence of success, as trusting to their protection; while this
opinion of the presence of their ancestors is a restraint that prevents
their engaging in ill designs.

“They despise and laugh at auguries, and the other vain and
superstitious ways of divination, so much observed among other nations;
but have great reverence for such miracles as cannot flow from any of
the powers of nature, and look on them as effects and indications of
the presence of the Supreme Being, of which they say many instances
have occurred among them; and that sometimes their public prayers,
which upon great and dangerous occasions they have solemnly put up to
God, with assured confidence of being heard, have been answered in a
miraculous manner.

“They think the contemplating God in His works, and the adoring Him for
them, is a very acceptable piece of worship to Him.

“There are many among them that upon a motive of religion neglect
learning, and apply themselves to no sort of study; nor do they allow
themselves any leisure time, but are perpetually employed, believing
that by the good things that a man does he secures to himself that
happiness that comes after death. Some of these visit the sick; others
mend highways, cleanse ditches, repair bridges, or dig turf, gravel, or
stone. Others fell and cleave timber, and bring wood, corn, and other
necessaries, on carts, into their towns; nor do these only serve the
public, but they serve even private men, more than the slaves
themselves do: for if there is anywhere a rough, hard, and sordid piece
of work to be done, from which many are frightened by the labour and
loathsomeness of it, if not the despair of accomplishing it, they
cheerfully, and of their own accord, take that to their share; and by
that means, as they ease others very much, so they afflict themselves,
and spend their whole life in hard labour: and yet they do not value
themselves upon this, nor lessen other people’s credit to raise their
own; but by their stooping to such servile employments they are so far
from being despised, that they are so much the more esteemed by the
whole nation.

“Of these there are two sorts: some live unmarried and chaste, and
abstain from eating any sort of flesh; and thus weaning themselves from
all the pleasures of the present life, which they account hurtful, they
pursue, even by the hardest and painfullest methods possible, that
blessedness which they hope for hereafter; and the nearer they approach
to it, they are the more cheerful and earnest in their endeavours after
it. Another sort of them is less willing to put themselves to much
toil, and therefore prefer a married state to a single one; and as they
do not deny themselves the pleasure of it, so they think the begetting
of children is a debt which they owe to human nature, and to their
country; nor do they avoid any pleasure that does not hinder labour;
and therefore eat flesh so much the more willingly, as they find that
by this means they are the more able to work: the Utopians look upon
these as the wiser sect, but they esteem the others as the most holy.
They would indeed laugh at any man who, from the principles of reason,
would prefer an unmarried state to a married, or a life of labour to an
easy life: but they reverence and admire such as do it from the motives
of religion. There is nothing in which they are more cautious than in
giving their opinion positively concerning any sort of religion. The
men that lead those severe lives are called in the language of their
country Brutheskas, which answers to those we call Religious Orders.

“Their priests are men of eminent piety, and therefore they are but
few, for there are only thirteen in every town, one for every temple;
but when they go to war, seven of these go out with their forces, and
seven others are chosen to supply their room in their absence; but
these enter again upon their employments when they return; and those
who served in their absence, attend upon the high priest, till
vacancies fall by death; for there is one set over the rest. They are
chosen by the people as the other magistrates are, by suffrages given
in secret, for preventing of factions: and when they are chosen, they
are consecrated by the college of priests. The care of all sacred
things, the worship of God, and an inspection into the manners of the
people, are committed to them. It is a reproach to a man to be sent for
by any of them, or for them to speak to him in secret, for that always
gives some suspicion: all that is incumbent on them is only to exhort
and admonish the people; for the power of correcting and punishing ill
men belongs wholly to the Prince, and to the other magistrates: the
severest thing that the priest does is the excluding those that are
desperately wicked from joining in their worship: there is not any sort
of punishment more dreaded by them than this, for as it loads them with
infamy, so it fills them with secret horrors, such is their reverence
to their religion; nor will their bodies be long exempted from their
share of trouble; for if they do not very quickly satisfy the priests
of the truth of their repentance, they are seized on by the Senate, and
punished for their impiety. The education of youth belongs to the
priests, yet they do not take so much care of instructing them in
letters, as in forming their minds and manners aright; they use all
possible methods to infuse, very early, into the tender and flexible
minds of children, such opinions as are both good in themselves and
will be useful to their country, for when deep impressions of these
things are made at that age, they follow men through the whole course
of their lives, and conduce much to preserve the peace of the
government, which suffers by nothing more than by vices that rise out
of ill opinions. The wives of their priests are the most extraordinary
women of the whole country; sometimes the women themselves are made
priests, though that falls out but seldom, nor are any but ancient
widows chosen into that order.

“None of the magistrates have greater honour paid them than is paid the
priests; and if they should happen to commit any crime, they would not
be questioned for it; their punishment is left to God, and to their own
consciences; for they do not think it lawful to lay hands on any man,
how wicked soever he is, that has been in a peculiar manner dedicated
to God; nor do they find any great inconvenience in this, both because
they have so few priests, and because these are chosen with much
caution, so that it must be a very unusual thing to find one who,
merely out of regard to his virtue, and for his being esteemed a
singularly good man, was raised up to so great a dignity, degenerate
into corruption and vice; and if such a thing should fall out, for man
is a changeable creature, yet, there being few priests, and these
having no authority but what rises out of the respect that is paid
them, nothing of great consequence to the public can proceed from the
indemnity that the priests enjoy.

“They have, indeed, very few of them, lest greater numbers sharing in
the same honour might make the dignity of that order, which they esteem
so highly, to sink in its reputation; they also think it difficult to
find out many of such an exalted pitch of goodness as to be equal to
that dignity, which demands the exercise of more than ordinary virtues.
Nor are the priests in greater veneration among them than they are
among their neighbouring nations, as you may imagine by that which I
think gives occasion for it.

“When the Utopians engage in battle, the priests who accompany them to
the war, apparelled in their sacred vestments, kneel down during the
action (in a place not far from the field), and, lifting up their hands
to heaven, pray, first for peace, and then for victory to their own
side, and particularly that it may be gained without the effusion of
much blood on either side; and when the victory turns to their side,
they run in among their own men to restrain their fury; and if any of
their enemies see them or call to them, they are preserved by that
means; and such as can come so near them as to touch their garments
have not only their lives, but their fortunes secured to them; it is
upon this account that all the nations round about consider them so
much, and treat them with such reverence, that they have been often no
less able to preserve their own people from the fury of their enemies
than to save their enemies from their rage; for it has sometimes fallen
out, that when their armies have been in disorder and forced to fly, so
that their enemies were running upon the slaughter and spoil, the
priests by interposing have separated them from one another, and
stopped the effusion of more blood; so that, by their mediation, a
peace has been concluded on very reasonable terms; nor is there any
nation about them so fierce, cruel, or barbarous, as not to look upon
their persons as sacred and inviolable.

“The first and the last day of the month, and of the year, is a
festival; they measure their months by the course of the moon, and
their years by the course of the sun: the first days are called in
their language the Cynemernes, and the last the Trapemernes, which
answers in our language, to the festival that begins or ends the

“They have magnificent temples, that are not only nobly built, but
extremely spacious, which is the more necessary as they have so few of
them; they are a little dark within, which proceeds not from any error
in the architecture, but is done with design; for their priests think
that too much light dissipates the thoughts, and that a more moderate
degree of it both recollects the mind and raises devotion. Though there
are many different forms of religion among them, yet all these, how
various soever, agree in the main point, which is the worshipping the
Divine Essence; and, therefore, there is nothing to be seen or heard in
their temples in which the several persuasions among them may not
agree; for every sect performs those rites that are peculiar to it in
their private houses, nor is there anything in the public worship that
contradicts the particular ways of those different sects. There are no
images for God in their temples, so that every one may represent Him to
his thoughts according to the way of his religion; nor do they call
this one God by any other name but that of Mithras, which is the common
name by which they all express the Divine Essence, whatsoever otherwise
they think it to be; nor are there any prayers among them but such as
every one of them may use without prejudice to his own opinion.

“They meet in their temples on the evening of the festival that
concludes a season, and not having yet broke their fast, they thank God
for their good success during that year or month which is then at an
end; and the next day, being that which begins the new season, they
meet early in their temples, to pray for the happy progress of all
their affairs during that period upon which they then enter. In the
festival which concludes the period, before they go to the temple, both
wives and children fall on their knees before their husbands or parents
and confess everything in which they have either erred or failed in
their duty, and beg pardon for it. Thus all little discontents in
families are removed, that they may offer up their devotions with a
pure and serene mind; for they hold it a great impiety to enter upon
them with disturbed thoughts, or with a consciousness of their bearing
hatred or anger in their hearts to any person whatsoever; and think
that they should become liable to severe punishments if they presumed
to offer sacrifices without cleansing their hearts, and reconciling all
their differences. In the temples the two sexes are separated, the men
go to the right hand, and the women to the left; and the males and
females all place themselves before the head and master or mistress of
the family to which they belong, so that those who have the government
of them at home may see their deportment in public. And they
intermingle them so, that the younger and the older may be set by one
another; for if the younger sort were all set together, they would,
perhaps, trifle away that time too much in which they ought to beget in
themselves that religious dread of the Supreme Being which is the
greatest and almost the only incitement to virtue.

“They offer up no living creature in sacrifice, nor do they think it
suitable to the Divine Being, from whose bounty it is that these
creatures have derived their lives, to take pleasure in their deaths,
or the offering up their blood. They burn incense and other sweet
odours, and have a great number of wax lights during their worship, not
out of any imagination that such oblations can add anything to the
divine nature (which even prayers cannot do), but as it is a harmless
and pure way of worshipping God; so they think those sweet savours and
lights, together with some other ceremonies, by a secret and
unaccountable virtue, elevate men’s souls, and inflame them with
greater energy and cheerfulness during the divine worship.

“All the people appear in the temples in white garments; but the
priest’s vestments are parti-coloured, and both the work and colours
are wonderful. They are made of no rich materials, for they are neither
embroidered nor set with precious stones; but are composed of the
plumes of several birds, laid together with so much art, and so neatly,
that the true value of them is far beyond the costliest materials. They
say, that in the ordering and placing those plumes some dark mysteries
are represented, which pass down among their priests in a secret
tradition concerning them; and that they are as hieroglyphics, putting
them in mind of the blessing that they have received from God, and of
their duties, both to Him and to their neighbours. As soon as the
priest appears in those ornaments, they all fall prostrate on the
ground, with so much reverence and so deep a silence, that such as look
on cannot but be struck with it, as if it were the effect of the
appearance of a deity. After they have been for some time in this
posture, they all stand up, upon a sign given by the priest, and sing
hymns to the honour of God, some musical instruments playing all the
while. These are quite of another form than those used among us; but,
as many of them are much sweeter than ours, so others are made use of
by us. Yet in one thing they very much exceed us: all their music, both
vocal and instrumental, is adapted to imitate and express the passions,
and is so happily suited to every occasion, that, whether the subject
of the hymn be cheerful, or formed to soothe or trouble the mind, or to
express grief or remorse, the music takes the impression of whatever is
represented, affects and kindles the passions, and works the sentiments
deep into the hearts of the hearers. When this is done, both priests
and people offer up very solemn prayers to God in a set form of words;
and these are so composed, that whatsoever is pronounced by the whole
assembly may be likewise applied by every man in particular to his own
condition. In these they acknowledge God to be the author and governor
of the world, and the fountain of all the good they receive, and
therefore offer up to him their thanksgiving; and, in particular, bless
him for His goodness in ordering it so, that they are born under the
happiest government in the world, and are of a religion which they hope
is the truest of all others; but, if they are mistaken, and if there is
either a better government, or a religion more acceptable to God, they
implore His goodness to let them know it, vowing that they resolve to
follow him whithersoever he leads them; but if their government is the
best, and their religion the truest, then they pray that He may fortify
them in it, and bring all the world both to the same rules of life, and
to the same opinions concerning Himself, unless, according to the
unsearchableness of His mind, He is pleased with a variety of
religions. Then they pray that God may give them an easy passage at
last to Himself, not presuming to set limits to Him, how early or late
it should be; but, if it may be wished for without derogating from His
supreme authority, they desire to be quickly delivered, and to be taken
to Himself, though by the most terrible kind of death, rather than to
be detained long from seeing Him by the most prosperous course of life.
When this prayer is ended, they all fall down again upon the ground;
and, after a little while, they rise up, go home to dinner, and spend
the rest of the day in diversion or military exercises.

“Thus have I described to you, as particularly as I could, the
Constitution of that commonwealth, which I do not only think the best
in the world, but indeed the only commonwealth that truly deserves that
name. In all other places it is visible that, while people talk of a
commonwealth, every man only seeks his own wealth; but there, where no
man has any property, all men zealously pursue the good of the public,
and, indeed, it is no wonder to see men act so differently, for in
other commonwealths every man knows that, unless he provides for
himself, how flourishing soever the commonwealth may be, he must die of
hunger, so that he sees the necessity of preferring his own concerns to
the public; but in Utopia, where every man has a right to everything,
they all know that if care is taken to keep the public stores full no
private man can want anything; for among them there is no unequal
distribution, so that no man is poor, none in necessity, and though no
man has anything, yet they are all rich; for what can make a man so
rich as to lead a serene and cheerful life, free from anxieties;
neither apprehending want himself, nor vexed with the endless
complaints of his wife? He is not afraid of the misery of his children,
nor is he contriving how to raise a portion for his daughters; but is
secure in this, that both he and his wife, his children and
grand-children, to as many generations as he can fancy, will all live
both plentifully and happily; since, among them, there is no less care
taken of those who were once engaged in labour, but grow afterwards
unable to follow it, than there is, elsewhere, of these that continue
still employed. I would gladly hear any man compare the justice that is
among them with that of all other nations; among whom, may I perish, if
I see anything that looks either like justice or equity; for what
justice is there in this: that a nobleman, a goldsmith, a banker, or
any other man, that either does nothing at all, or, at best, is
employed in things that are of no use to the public, should live in
great luxury and splendour upon what is so ill acquired, and a mean
man, a carter, a smith, or a ploughman, that works harder even than the
beasts themselves, and is employed in labours so necessary, that no
commonwealth could hold out a year without them, can only earn so poor
a livelihood and must lead so miserable a life, that the condition of
the beasts is much better than theirs? For as the beasts do not work so
constantly, so they feed almost as well, and with more pleasure, and
have no anxiety about what is to come, whilst these men are depressed
by a barren and fruitless employment, and tormented with the
apprehensions of want in their old age; since that which they get by
their daily labour does but maintain them at present, and is consumed
as fast as it comes in, there is no overplus left to lay up for old

“Is not that government both unjust and ungrateful, that is so prodigal
of its favours to those that are called gentlemen, or goldsmiths, or
such others who are idle, or live either by flattery or by contriving
the arts of vain pleasure, and, on the other hand, takes no care of
those of a meaner sort, such as ploughmen, colliers, and smiths,
without whom it could not subsist? But after the public has reaped all
the advantage of their service, and they come to be oppressed with age,
sickness, and want, all their labours and the good they have done is
forgotten, and all the recompense given them is that they are left to
die in great misery. The richer sort are often endeavouring to bring
the hire of labourers lower, not only by their fraudulent practices,
but by the laws which they procure to be made to that effect, so that
though it is a thing most unjust in itself to give such small rewards
to those who deserve so well of the public, yet they have given those
hardships the name and colour of justice, by procuring laws to be made
for regulating them.

“Therefore I must say that, as I hope for mercy, I can have no other
notion of all the other governments that I see or know, than that they
are a conspiracy of the rich, who, on pretence of managing the public,
only pursue their private ends, and devise all the ways and arts they
can find out; first, that they may, without danger, preserve all that
they have so ill-acquired, and then, that they may engage the poor to
toil and labour for them at as low rates as possible, and oppress them
as much as they please; and if they can but prevail to get these
contrivances established by the show of public authority, which is
considered as the representative of the whole people, then they are
accounted laws; yet these wicked men, after they have, by a most
insatiable covetousness, divided that among themselves with which all
the rest might have been well supplied, are far from that happiness
that is enjoyed among the Utopians; for the use as well as the desire
of money being extinguished, much anxiety and great occasions of
mischief is cut off with it, and who does not see that the frauds,
thefts, robberies, quarrels, tumults, contentions, seditions, murders,
treacheries, and witchcrafts, which are, indeed, rather punished than
restrained by the severities of law, would all fall off, if money were
not any more valued by the world? Men’s fears, solicitudes, cares,
labours, and watchings would all perish in the same moment with the
value of money; even poverty itself, for the relief of which money
seems most necessary, would fall. But, in order to the apprehending
this aright, take one instance:—

“Consider any year, that has been so unfruitful that many thousands
have died of hunger; and yet if, at the end of that year, a survey was
made of the granaries of all the rich men that have hoarded up the
corn, it would be found that there was enough among them to have
prevented all that consumption of men that perished in misery; and
that, if it had been distributed among them, none would have felt the
terrible effects of that scarcity: so easy a thing would it be to
supply all the necessities of life, if that blessed thing called money,
which is pretended to be invented for procuring them was not really the
only thing that obstructed their being procured!

“I do not doubt but rich men are sensible of this, and that they well
know how much a greater happiness it is to want nothing necessary, than
to abound in many superfluities; and to be rescued out of so much
misery, than to abound with so much wealth: and I cannot think but the
sense of every man’s interest, added to the authority of Christ’s
commands, who, as He was infinitely wise, knew what was best, and was
not less good in discovering it to us, would have drawn all the world
over to the laws of the Utopians, if pride, that plague of human
nature, that source of so much misery, did not hinder it; for this vice
does not measure happiness so much by its own conveniences, as by the
miseries of others; and would not be satisfied with being thought a
goddess, if none were left that were miserable, over whom she might
insult. Pride thinks its own happiness shines the brighter, by
comparing it with the misfortunes of other persons; that by displaying
its own wealth they may feel their poverty the more sensibly. This is
that infernal serpent that creeps into the breasts of mortals, and
possesses them too much to be easily drawn out; and, therefore, I am
glad that the Utopians have fallen upon this form of government, in
which I wish that all the world could be so wise as to imitate them;
for they have, indeed, laid down such a scheme and foundation of
policy, that as men live happily under it, so it is like to be of great
continuance; for they having rooted out of the minds of their people
all the seeds, both of ambition and faction, there is no danger of any
commotions at home; which alone has been the ruin of many states that
seemed otherwise to be well secured; but as long as they live in peace
at home, and are governed by such good laws, the envy of all their
neighbouring princes, who have often, though in vain, attempted their
ruin, will never be able to put their state into any commotion or

When Raphael had thus made an end of speaking, though many things
occurred to me, both concerning the manners and laws of that people,
that seemed very absurd, as well in their way of making war, as in
their notions of religion and divine matters—together with several
other particulars, but chiefly what seemed the foundation of all the
rest, their living in common, without the use of money, by which all
nobility, magnificence, splendour, and majesty, which, according to the
common opinion, are the true ornaments of a nation, would be quite
taken away—yet since I perceived that Raphael was weary, and was not
sure whether he could easily bear contradiction, remembering that he
had taken notice of some, who seemed to think they were bound in honour
to support the credit of their own wisdom, by finding out something to
censure in all other men’s inventions, besides their own, I only
commended their Constitution, and the account he had given of it in
general; and so, taking him by the hand, carried him to supper, and
told him I would find out some other time for examining this subject
more particularly, and for discoursing more copiously upon it. And,
indeed, I shall be glad to embrace an opportunity of doing it. In the
meanwhile, though it must be confessed that he is both a very learned
man and a person who has obtained a great knowledge of the world, I
cannot perfectly agree to everything he has related. However, there are
many things in the commonwealth of Utopia that I rather wish, than
hope, to see followed in our governments.
(*) will never forget goatse sig (*)
(*) 2023/09/20 - 2023/09/20 (*)
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