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by Sir Thomas More (Written in 1516.)



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 com-
panion 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 com-
mendations unless I would, according to the proverb, "Show
the sun with a lanthorn." Those that were appointed by the
Prince to treat with us, met us at Bruges, according to agree-
ment; 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 con-
curred 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 agree-
ment, 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 honor,
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 candor and
affection, that there is not perhaps above one or two anywhere
to be found that are 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 talk-
ing with a stranger, who seemed past the flower of his age; his
face was tanned, he had a long beard, and his cloak was hang-
ing 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

"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 Hythlo-
day, 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 Vespucius, 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 heaven 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 Castilians,
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 kind-
ness, 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 passed 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 dis-
course. He told us that when Vespucius had sailed away, he
and his companions that stayed behind in New Castile, by de-
grees 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 dan-
ger, 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 wagons 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 gov-
erned 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 neighbors, but traded both by sea and land, to
very remote countries. There they found the conveniences of
seeing many countries on all hands, for no ship went any
voyage into which he and his companions were not very wel-
come. 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 afterward they found ships made
with round keels and canvas sails, and in all respects like our
ships; and the seamen understood both astronomy and naviga-
tion. He got wonderfully into their favor, by showing them
the use of the needle, of which till then they were utterly ignor-
ant. They sailed before with great caution, and only in sum-
mer-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 ob-
served among civilized 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 will-
ingly; only we made no inquiries after monsters, than which
nothing is more common; for everywhere one may hear of
ravenous dogs and wolves, and cruel man-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 passed, 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, are 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 incum-
bent 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 sake 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

"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 favor 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 counsel 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 learn-
ing, would render you a very fit counsellor to any king whatso-

"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 favor, whom by their fawnings and flatteries they en-
deavor 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 interest 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 Eng-
land: 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 experi-
ence. When I was in England the King depended much on
his counsels, and the government seemed to be chiefly sup-
ported 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 dread-
ful punishments enacted against thieves, but it were much bet-
ter 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 labor, on the labor
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 neighborhood 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 par-
ticularly 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 honor than is to be found among trades-
men 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

"'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 experi-
ence shows that the mechanics in the towns, or the clowns in
the country, are not afraid of fighting with those idle gentle-
men, 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 effemi-
nate 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 agricul-
ture, 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 in soli-
tudes, 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 posses-
sions, by tricks, or by main force, or being wearied out with
ill-usage, they are forced to sell them. By which means those
miserable people, both men and women, married and unmar-
ried, 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 labor, 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 like 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 labor 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 ap-
parel, and great cost in diet; and that not only in noblemen's
families, but even among tradesmen, among the farmers them-
selves, and among all ranks of persons. You have also many
infamous houses, and, besides those that are known, the
taverns and alehouses are no better; add to these, dice, cards,
tables, foot-ball, tennis, and quoits, in which money runs fast
away; and those that are initiated into them, must in the con-
clusion 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 monopo-
lies; 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 vaga-
bonds 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 punish-
ment 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 is 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 these terrible laws that make the small-
est offences capital, nor of that opinion of the Stoics that makes
all crimes equal, as if there were no difference to be made be-
tween 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 man in making laws can authorize manslaughter 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
license to cruelty than he did to the Jews. Upon these rea-
sons 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-conse-
quence 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 is much more 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, ac-
cording to the genius of their country, have no inclination to
enlarge their borders; so their mountains, and the pension they
pay to the Persians, secure them from all invasions.

"'Thus they have no wars among them; they live rather
conveniently than with splendor, 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
neighbors. 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 happened to
be some extraordinary circumstances 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 re-
proach, 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 labor; 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 of a poll-money raised for their main-
tenance. 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 beside their livelihood, they earn
somewhat still to the public. They all wear a peculiar habit,
of one certain color, 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 color, 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 capi-
tal 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, to-
gether 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 pre-
served, but they 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 have 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 convic-
tion: 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 neighborhood can do nothing to any purpose,
unless a general conspiracy were laid among 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 discov-
ery 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 the sentence of death was 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, incon-
venient, or at all dangerous, to admit of such a delay: in my
opinion, the vagabonds ought to be treated in the same man-
ner; 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 de-
spised it when it came from me; but more particularly com-
mended what related to the vagabonds, because it was his own

"I do not know whether it be worth while to tell what fol-
lowed, 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 some-
times 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 sick-
ness or old age had disabled from labor, '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 dole-
fully soever as they have told their tale, they could never pre-
vail 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 labor, 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 send-
ing all these beggars to monasteries, the men to the Bene-
dictines 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 vag-
abonds, and setting them to work, for I know no vagabonds like

"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 imag-
ined, and fell into such a passion that he could not forbear rail-
ing 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 cardi-
nal; '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 accord-
ing 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 one 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 mat-
ter, he made a sign to the fool to withdraw, turned the discourse
another way, and soon after rose from the table, and, dismiss-
ing 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 con-
tracted it, but I resolved to give it to 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 pres-
ently 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 honor his mem-
ory 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 pro-
pose 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 councils.

"'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 child-
hood are corrupted with false notions would never fall in en-
tirely with the councils 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 endeavoring 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 in-
stance, what could it 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
had so oft slipped out of their hands, recovered; how the Vene-
tians, 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 Vene-
tians, to be kept as long as he finds his account in it, and that
he ought to communicate councils 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 Em-
peror by money, which is omnipotent with him. Another pro-
poses a peace with the King of Arragon, and, in order to cement
it, the yielding up the King of Navarre's pretensions. Another
thinks 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 read-
iness, 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

"Now when things are in so great a fermentation, and so
many gallant men are joining councils, how to carry on the
war, if so mean a man as I should stand up, and wish them to
change all their councils, 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
southeast 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
interests of either.

"When they saw this, and that there would be no end to
these evils, they by joint councils 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 con-
tented with his old one. To this I would add that after all
those warlike attempts, the vast confusions, and the consump-
tion both of treasure and of people that must follow them; per-
haps 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, gov-
ern 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 ap-
pearances 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 been
also 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 pro-
poses 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 compo-
sitions, 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 licenses 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 favor 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 pre-
tence or other to give the King a fair color 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 ex-
pound the law for his own profit; while the judges that stand
out will be brought over, either out of 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 pre-
tences will never be wanting when sentence is to be given in the
prince's favor. It will either be said that equity lies on 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 prop-
erty, 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 less willing to submit to a cruel
and unjust government; whereas necessity and poverty blunt
them, make them patient, beat them down, and break 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 councils were both unbecoming
a king, and mischievous to him: and that not only his honor
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 endeavors 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 shep-
herd 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 quar-
rel 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 have 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 cer-
tainly better for him to quit his kingdom, than to retain it by
such methods, as makes him while he keeps the name of au-
thority, 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 ex-
alted temper, said, he would rather govern rich men than be
rich himself; since for one man to abound in wealth and pleas-
ure, when all about him are mourning and groaning, is to a
gaoler and not a king. He is an unskilful physician, that can-
not 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 accommo-
date his expense to his revenue. Let him punish crimes, and
by his wise conduct let him endeavor 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 begins to reign, is tied by an oath con-
firmed by solemn sacrifices, never to have at once above 1,000
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 excel-
lent 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 a moderate sum might be sufficient for any
accident, if either the King had occasion for it against 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 at propositions or advice that we are cer-
tain 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 au-

"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 philoso-
phy 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's 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 'Octa-
via,' 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 common-
wealth; for the same reasons 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 pre-
vent 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 arguments," answered he, "all that I
could be able to do would be to preserve myself from being mad
while I endeavored 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 establish-
ment, 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, have
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 house-tops 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 seemed 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 cast-
ing about, or by the bending and handling things so dexter-
ously, 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 bare-
facedly 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 prac-
tices: 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 bet-
ter 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 unreasona-
bleness of a philosopher's meddling with government. If a
man, says he, was 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 him-
self 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 con-
stitution of the Utopians -- among whom all things are so well
governed, and with so few laws; where virtue hath its due re-
ward, 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 consti-
tution to a right regulation, where notwithstanding everyone
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 an-
other'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 favorable to Plato, and do not wonder that he resolved
not to make any laws for such as would not submit to a com-
munity 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, sin-
cere and modest men. From whence I am persuaded, that till
property is taken away there can be no equitable or just distri-
bution 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 anxi-
eties. 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 as-
pire 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 effects, 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 ap-
plying 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
labor? 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 can-
not 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 fall 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 constitu-
tion: 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 Euro-
peans; 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 inhab-
ited. And as for those discoveries, that have been either hit on
by chance, or made by ingenious men, these might have hap-
pened 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 ar-
rival 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 1,200 years
ago; and that some Romans and Egyptians that were in the
ship, getting safe ashore, spent the rest of their days among
them; and such was their ingenuity, that from this single op-
portunity 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 ship-
wrecked men: and by the hints that they gave them, they them-
selves 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 after-times 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 understand-
ing or outward advantages."

Upon this I said to him: "I earnestly beg you would de-
scribe 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 con-
cerning 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 200 miles broad, and
holds almost at the same breadth over a great part of
it; but it grows narrower toward 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 500 miles, and
is well secured from winds. In this bay there is no great cur-
rent; the whole coast is, as it were, one continued harbor, 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 be easily 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 har-
bors; 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 remain good marks of it to make it
credible) that this was no island at first, but a part of the con-
tinent. Utopus that conquered it (whose name it still carries,
for Abraxa was its first name) brought the rude and uncivilized
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 ac-
complish 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 sol-
diers, to labor 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 neighbors who at first laughed at
the folly of the undertaking, no sooner saw it brought to per-
fection 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 re-
mote 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 its 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 con-
venient 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 en-
large 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 are
furnished with all things necessary for country labor. Inhabi-
tants are sent by turns from the cities to dwell in them; no
country family has fewer than forty men and women in it, be-
sides 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 shift-
ing 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 vast numbers 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 dis-
eases, 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 labor, 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 lic-
orice, with which they abound; and though they know exactly
how much corn will serve every town, and all that tract of coun-
try 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 neighbors.
When they want anything in the country which it does not pro-
duce, 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.


Of Their Towns, Particularly of Amaurot

HE that knows one of their towns knows them all, they are
so like one another, except w here the situation makes some dif-
ference. 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 altogether 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 for 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 ships without
any hinderance 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
town; so that 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 shall river cannot be conveyed, they have great cisterns for
receiving the rain-water, which supplies the want of the other.
The town is cormpassed 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 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
humor 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 found-
ed 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
backward 1,760 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 stories high: the fronts of them
are faced with stone, plastering, or brick; and between the fac-
ings of their walls they throw in their rubbish. Their roofs are
flat, and on them they lay a sort of plaster, which costs very lit-
tle, 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.


Of Their Magistrates

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
tranibor, but of late the archphilarch. All the syphogrants,
who are in number 200, 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 their voices secretly, so that it is not known for whom
everyone 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 people.

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 fami-
lies that belong to their divisions, and have considered it among
themselves, make report to the Senate; and upon great occa-
sions, 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


Of Their Trades, and Manner of Life

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 car-
penter's work; for there is no sort of trade that is not 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 dis-
agreeable nor uneasy, so it is suited to the climate, and calculat-
ed 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 among 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 in-
clinations, 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 of other, according
to their inclinations. But if others, that are not made for con-
templation, 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 mis-
chievous 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 spe-
cial oppositions 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 labor is to be narrowly examined, other-
wise you may imagine, that since there are only six hours ap-
pointed 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 man-
kind; 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 ac-
count you will find that the number of those by whose labors
mankind is supplied, is much less than you perhaps imagined.
Then consider how few of those that work are employed in
labors that are of real service; for we who measure all things
by money, give rise to many trades that are both vain and super-
fluous, and serve only to support riot and luxury. For if those
who work were employed only in such things as the conven-
iences 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 labor about use-
less 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 labor, 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
500, either men or women, by their age and strength, are capa-
ble of labor, 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 labor, 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
labor, you may easily make the estimate how much may be done
in those few hours in which they are obliged to labor. But
besides all that has been already said, it is to be considered that
the needful arts among them are managed with less labor 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 succes-
sor 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 an-
other 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
buildlngs are preserved very long, with but little labor, 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 labor, they are clothed with leather and skins.
cast 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 color, and that
is the natural color 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 labor, and they value cloth only by the white-
ness 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 colors,
and as many vests of silk, will scarce serve one man; and while
those that are nicer think ten are 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 labor, and since they content them-
selves with fewer things, it falls out that there is a great abun-
dance 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 per-
formed, the hours of working are lessened. The magistrates
never engage the people in unnecessary labor, since the chief
end of the constitution is to regulate labor by the necessities of
the public, and to allow all the people as much time as is neces-
sary for the improvement of their minds, in which they think
the happiness of life consists.


Of Their Traffic

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 grandchildren, live still in the same house,
in great obedience to their common parent, unless age has weak-
ened 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 6,000 families,
besides those of the country round 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
neighboring 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 accord-
ing 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 sev-
eral families, is carried from thence to houses appointed for
that purpose, in which all things of a sort are laid by them-
selves; 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 that 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 sy-
phogrants 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 con-
veniently, 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 ambassa-
dors, and strangers, if there are any, which indeed falls out but
seldom, and for whom there are houses well furnished, par-
ticularly appointed for their reception when they come among
them. At the hours of dinner and supper, the whole sypho-
granty 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 hin-
dered 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 at hand.
All the uneasy and sordid services about these halls are per-
formed 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 toward 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
among 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 anyone that
can do it offers herself cheerfully; for as they are much inclined
to that piece of mercy, so the child whom the 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 sypho-
grant and his wife; for that is the chief and most conspicu-
ous place: next to him sit two of the most ancient, for there go
always four to a mess. If there is a temple within that sypho-
granty, the priest and his wife sit with the syphogrant ahove
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 dis-
tribute 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 honored with a particular respect; yet all
the rest fare as well as they. Both dinner and supper are be-
gun 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 con-
trary, they engage them to talk, that so they may in that free
way of conversation find out the force of everyone'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 noth-
ing that may cheer up their spirits: they give themselves a large
allowance that way, and indulge themselves in all such pleas-
ures as are attended with no inconvenience. Thus do those
that are in the towns live together; but in the country, where
they live at great distance, everyone 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.


Of the Travelling of the Utopians

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 license that is granted for travelling, and limits the
time of their return. They are furnished with a wagon, and a
slave who drives the oxen and looks after them; but unless
there are women in the company, the wagon 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
nothing, but are everywhere treated as if they were at home.
If they stay in any place longer than a night, everyone 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 con-
demned 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 labor with them and conform to their rules:
and if he does this, he may freely go over the whole precinct;
being thus as useful to the city to which he belongs, as if he
were still within it. Thus you see that there are no idle per-
sons among them, nor pretences of excusing any from labor.
There are no taverns, no alehouses 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
tasks, 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-conse-
quences of an unfavorable season, they order an exportation
of the overplus, 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 Uto-
pians 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 neigh-
bors 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 oc-
casion 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 thern 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 treas-
ure, 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 my-
self, 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 propor-
tion as they differ from our own customs. But one who can
judge aright will not wonder to find that, since their constitu-
tion 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 pro-
vision 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 es-
sential 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 pub-
lic 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 ear-ring of gold, and make others wear
a chain or 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 was 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 coast, 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 ac-
cord, without being bid by their parents, lay them aside; and
would be as much ashamed to use them afterward 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 impres-
sions that different customs make on people, than I ob-
served 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 to-
gether 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 splendor. Thus three ambassa-
dors made their entry with 100 attendants, all clad in garments
of different colors, 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, ear-rings, 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 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 ambas-
sadors 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 ambassador's
fools." Others censured the fashion of their chains, and ob-
served 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 them 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
formerly 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 men
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 ad-
mire 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 honors, 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 has 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 labor as to give
themselves entirely up to their studies, these being only such
persons as discover from their childhood an extraordinary ca-
pacity 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, 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 man in the abstract, as com-
mon 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 everyone, 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 judg-
ing 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 causes of the saltness of the sea,
of its ebbing and flowing, and of the origin 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 en-
dowments 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 in-
clinable 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 re-
ligion, notwithstanding its severity and roughness, for the sup-
port 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 possi-
ble 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 of 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 our-
selves as bound by the ties of good-nature and humanity to use
our utmost endeavors 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 amia-
ble dispositions. And from thence they infer that if a man
ought to advance the welfare and comfort of the rest of man-
kind, 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 con-
trary, 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 favorite 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 preju-
dice others; and therefore they think that not only all agree-
ments between private persons ought to be observed, but like-
wise 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 pleasures.

They think it is an evidence of true wisdom for a man to
pursue his own advantages as far as the laws allow it. They
account it piety to prefer the public good to one's private con-
cerns; 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 pos-
sess the minds of those that are once captivated by them with
a false notion of pleasure, that there is no room left for pleas-
ures 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 mis-
taken, both in the opinion that 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 gar-
ment, 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 stand-
ing 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 de-
light themselves with the fancy of their nobility, and are
pleased with this conceit, that they are descended from ances-
tors 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

The Utopians have no better opinion of those who are much
taken with gems and precious stones, and who account it a de-
gree 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 hav-
ing hid it carefully, is glad, because he thinks he is now sure
of it. If it should be stolen, 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 of 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 pleas-
ure, you have the same entertainment to the eye on both these
occasions, since that is the same in both cases: but if the pleas-
ure 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. There-
fore 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 the frequent returns of so brutal a
pleasure must degenerate into it.

Thus, though the rahble 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 pleas-
ure), 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 tastes 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. An-
other kind of bodily pleasure is that which results from an un-
disturbed 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 accom-
panied 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 subtilty, 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
vigor? 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

But of all pleasures, they esteem those to be most valuable
that lie in the mind, the chief of which arises out of true virtue,
and the witnesses 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 dis-
eases 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 scratch-
ing himself; which anyone may easily see would be not only a
base but a miserable state of life. These are indeed the low-
est 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 ve-
hement, so it lasts much longer; for as it begins before the
pleasure, so it does not cease but with the pleasure that extin-
guishes it, and both expire together.

They think, therefore, none of those pleasures is to be
valued any further than as it is 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 dis-
eases 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 seasonings 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 dis-
cords 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 dis-
honest 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
favors, and therefore reject 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 whatsoever may be said of their
notions, there is not in the whole world either a better peo-
ple 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 in-
dustry 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 arts 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 car-
riage, 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 in-
dustrious, apt to learn, as well as cheerful and pleasant; and
none can endure more labor, when it is necessary; but ex-
cept 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 be-
gan 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 labor was
like to be more successful than we could have expected. They
learned to write their characters and to pronounce their lan-
guage so exactly, had so quick an apprehension, they remem-
bered 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 mas-
ters 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 diction-
aries but Hesichius and Dioscorides. 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 Aris-
tophanes, 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 "Micro-
techne," 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 honors 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 among mankind, has exposed this great machine of the
universe to the view of the only creatures capable of contem-
plating 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 glori-
ous scene with the eyes of a dull and unconcerned spectator.

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 super-
ficial 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 bark of trees; but now they have
established the manufacture 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 extraordi-
nary talent, or that by much travelling had observed the cus-
toms 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 ex-
portation, 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 neighboring countries better, so they keep up
the art of navigation, which cannot be maintained but by much


Of Their Slaves, and of Their Marriages

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 labor, 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 re-
strained by the advantages of so excellent an education, are
judged worthy of harder usage. Another sort of slaves are
the poor of the neighboring 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, ex-
cept their imposing more labor 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 in-
deed 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 outlived 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 man-
ner 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 persua-
sions, 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 at-
tendance and care of them; but as they believe that a voluntary
death, when it is chosen upon such an authority, is very honora-
ble, so if any man takes away his own life without the appro-
bation of the priests and the Senate, they give him none of the
honors of a decent funeral, but throw his body into a ditch.

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 wis-
dom. Before marriage some grave matron presents the bride
naked, whether she is a virgin or a widow, to the bride-
groom; and after that some grave man presents the bridegroom
naked to the bride. We indeed both laughed at this, and con-
demned it as very indecent. But they, on the other hand, won-
dered 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
hand's-breadth of the face, all the rest of the body being cov-
ered, under which there 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 con-
sider the body as that which adds not a little to the mind: and
it is certain there may be some such deformity covered with the
clothes as may totally alienate a man from his wife when it is
too late to part from 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 reg-
ulation 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 mar-
riage. 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 treach-
ery to abandon either of the married persons when they need
most the tender care of their comfort, 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 peo-
ple. 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 labor to which the slaves are con-
demned; and sometimes the repentance of the condemned, to-
gether 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 par-
doned 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, un-
less 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 labor 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 labor 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 inter-
cession, 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

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 them-
selves with their ridiculous behavior 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 reflec-
tion on the person so treated, but it would be accounted scan-
dalous 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 prob-
ity of her life, and her obedience: for as some few are caught
and held only by beauty, so all are attracted by the other excel-
lences 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 honors: there-
fore 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 honor the more
freely, because none are exacted from them. The Prince him-
self 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 labor 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 prom-
ulgated 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 neighbors, who are masters of their own lib-
erties, 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 honor 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 magis-
trates from them, neighbors; 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 human-
ity 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 Chris-
tian doctrine is received, among whom they are sacred and in-
violable; 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 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 par-
ticularly 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 sorts of justice passes in the
world for a low-spirited and vulgar virtue, far below the dig-
nity of royal greatness. Or at least, there are set up two sorts
of justice; the one is mean, and creeps on the ground, and there-
fore 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 pe-
culiar 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 inter-
est. 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 confederacies; perhaps they
would change their mind if they lived among us; but yet though
treaties were more religiously observed, they would still dis-
like 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 neighbors 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 license of preying upon each other, if by the unskilfulness
of wording them there are not effectual provisos made against
them. They, on the other hand, judge that no man is to be es-
teemed our enemy that has never injured us; and that the part-
nership of the 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 there-
by the engagements of men's hearts become stronger than the
bond and obligation of words.


Of Their Military Discipline

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 al-
most all other nations, think that there is nothing more inglori-
ous 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 de-
mands of reparation were rejected, so that a war was unavoida-
ble. This they think to be not only just, when one neighbor
makes an inroad on another, by public order, and carry away
the spoils; but when the merchants of one country are op-
pressed 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 color 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 neighbors 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 mis-
chief ended in the entire conquest and slavery of the Aleopoli-
tanes, 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 obtain-
ing 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 trad-
ing with such a people. This is not because they consider their
neighbors more than their own citizens; but since their neigh-
bors trade everyone upon his own stock, fraud is a more sensi-
ble injury to them than it is to the Utopians, among whom the
public in such a case only suffers. As they expect nothing 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 per-
sons; but if any of their people is 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 com-
plied with, the offenders are condemned either to death or

They would be both troubled and ashamed of a bloody vic-
tory over their enemies, and think it would be as foolish a pur-
chase 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 honor 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 em-
ploy 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 terri-
fied 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 them as a just care of their own security.

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 indem-
nity, 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 an-
other, 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 unmeasurably
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 ob-
serve the promises they make of this kind most religiously.

They very much approve of this way of corrupting their ene-
mies, 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 en-
gage their neighbors 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 occa-
sion, so when that offers itself they easily part with it, since it
would be no inconvenience 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 500 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 labor, 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 oppor-
tunities 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 ad-
vance 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 whatso-
ever, 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 relig-
iously 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 peo-
ple; 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 aux-
iliary troops of their other friends, to whom they join a few
of their own people, and send some men of eminent and ap-
proved 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 ill events, that
such accidents as may befall their generals may not endan-
ger 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 impossi-
bility of flying, bears down their cowardice; they often make a
virtue of necessity and behave themselves well, because noth-
ing 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 con-
trary, 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 an-
other, or if a child survives his parents, 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 endanger-
ing their own men, and if it is possible let all the action and dan-
ger fall upon the troops that they hire, so if it becomes necessary
for themselves to engage, they then charge with as much cour-
age 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 con-
cerning 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 vigor
to their minds: for as they do not undervalue life so as prodi-
gally to throw it away, they are not so indecently fond of it as
to preserve it by base and unbecoming methods. In the great-
est heat of action, the bravest of their youth, who have devoted
themselves to that service, single out the general of their ene-
mies, 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 possi-
ble, 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 en-
tire 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 them-
selves 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 wrestling out of their hands a victory that
seemed certain and undoubted, while the vanquished have sud-
denly 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 re-
tire in the daytime, 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 are fin-
ished in so short a time that it is scarce credible. Their armor
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 practice 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 dis-
guise 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 considera-
tion had in the making them is that they may be easily car-
ried 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 opposed 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 spoil.

When a war is ended, they do not oblige their friends to
reimburse their expenses; but they obtain them of the con-
quered, either in money, which they keep for the next occa-
sion, 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 magnifi-
cently, 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 com-
monly 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 en-
courage to adventure on desperate attempts. If any prince
that engages in war with them is making preparations for in-
vading 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 assistance.


Of the Religions of the Utopians

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 honors 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 honors 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 accident, which being considered as in-
flicted by heaven, made them afraid that the God whose wor-
ship 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 won-
derful 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 t seemed so favorable to that com-
munity 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 priest's orders; we
therefore could only baptize 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 concern-
ing 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 baptized, did, notwithstand-
ing all that we could say to the contrary, dispute publicly
concerning the Christian religion with more zeal than discre-
tion; 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 man-
ner, he was seized, and after trial he was condemned to ban-
ishment, 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 re-
ligion. 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 endeavor to draw others to it by force of
argument, and by amicable and modest ways, but without bit-
terness 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 other-
wise 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 men 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 vio-
lence 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 degen-
erate 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 prin-
ciples 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 honors or offices, nor em-
ploy 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 him-
self 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, espe-
cially before the common people; but they suffer, and even
encourage them to dispute concerning them in private with
their priests 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 ex-
treme, 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 loth to
depart 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 ap-
proaching 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 behavior 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 honor 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 fol-
low their example, and the most acceptable worship that can
be offered them; for they believe that though by the imper-
fection of human sight they are invisible to us, yet they are
present among us, and hear those discourses that pass con-
cerning 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 dimin-
ished, and therefore conclude that they are still among the
living, and observe all they say or do. From hence they en-
gage in all their affairs with the greater confidence of success,
as trusting to their protection; while this opinion of the pres-
ence of their ancestors is a restraint that prevents their en-
gaging 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 an-
swered 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 relig-
ion neglect learning, and apply themselves to no sort of study;
nor do they allow themselves any leisure time, but are per-
petually 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 high-
ways, cleanse ditches, repair bridges, or dig turf, gravel, or
stones. 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 labor 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 labor; 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 endeavors 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 labor, 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 labor 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
employment 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 all the rest. They are chosen by the
people as the other magistrates are, by suffrages given in se-
cret, 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 pun-
ished 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 ten-
der 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 extraordi-
nary 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 has greater honor paid him 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 indem-
nity that the priests enjoy.

They have indeed very few of them, lest greater numbers
sharing in the same honor 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 ex-
alted 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 neighboring nations, as you may imagine by that
which I think gives occasion for it.

When the Utopians engage in battle, the priests who accom-
pany 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 ene-
mies see them, or call to them, they are preserved by that
means; and such as can come so near them as to touch their gar-
ments, 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 ene-
mies 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 an-
other, 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

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 season.

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 dis-
sipates 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 wor-
shipping of the Divine Essence; and therefore there is nothing
to be seen or heard in their temples in which the several per-
suasions 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 everyone may represent Him
to his thoughts, according to the way of his religion; nor
do they call this one God by any other name than 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 con-
cludes the period, before they go to the temple, both wives
and children fall on their knees before their husbands or par-
ents, 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 recon-
ciling 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 that family to which they
belong; so that those who have the government of them at
home may see their deportment in public; and they inter-
mingle 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 in-
citement 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 of their blood. They burn
incense and other sweet odors, 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
savors and lights, together with some other ceremonies, by a
secret and unaccountable virtue, elevate men's souls, and in-
flame 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-colored, and both the work
and colors 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 blessings that they have received
from God, and of their duties both to Him and to their neigh-
bors. 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 honor 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 whatso-
ever 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 Him 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 pre-
suming to set limits to Him, how early or late it should be;
but if it may be wished for, without derogating from His su-
preme 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 common-
wealth 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 pro-
vides 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 dis-
tribution, 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 grandchildren, 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 labor, but grow after-
ward 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 noth-
ing at all, or at best is employed in things that are of no use
to the public, should live in great luxury and splendor, upon
what is so ill acquired; and a mean man, a carter, a smith,
or a ploughman, that works harder even than the beasts them-
selves, and is employed in labors so necessary, that no com-
monwealth 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 apprehen-
sions of want in their old age; since that which they get by
their daily labor does but maintain them at present, and is con-
sumed as fast as it comes in, there is no overplus left to lay
up for old age.

Is not that government both unjust and ungrateful, that is
so prodigal of its favors 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 advan-
tage of their service, and they come to be oppressed with age,
sickness, and want, all their labors 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
endeavoring to bring the hire of laborers 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 de-
serve so well of the public, yet they have given those hard-
ships the name and color 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 labor 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 au-
thority, 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, sedi-
tions, 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, labors, 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 neces-
sary, 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 consump-
tion of men that perished in misery; and that if it had been
distributed among them, none would have felt the terrible ef-
fects 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 pro-

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 con-
veniences 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 hap-
pily 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 com-
motion 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 neighboring princes, who have often
though in vain attempted their ruin, will never be able to put
their State into any commotion or disorder.


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, splendor, 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 contra-
diction, remembering that he had taken notice of some who
seemed to think they were bound in honor to support the
credit of their own wisdom, by finding out something to cen-
sure 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.

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