[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

I am almost ashamed, dearest Peter, of sending you this tract of the Utopian commonwealth, after a delay of nearly a year, when you no doubt expected it within six weeks. For you knew I was eased of the labour of invention on this occasion, and that I had no thought to bestow upon method, having only to repeat what you as well as myself heard Raphael relate. Neither, on this account, was there any occasion for eloquence, since his discourse could not be highly polished, being off-hand and from one less learned in Latin' than in Greek; and my narrative, the nearer it approaches his ease and simplicity, the nearer will it resemble the truth, my sole duty and care on this occasion.

I confess, dear Peter, so much of the labour was thus taken from my hand, that little or nothing was left me ; though the invention and arrangement might have demanded from no mean or unlearned capacity some time as well as study. Had eloquence as well as truth been requisite, no time or study would have enabled me to accomplish it. But as it was, these difficulties being removed, my part was only to repeat what I had heard.

Yet little of my time as this required, that little was long denied me by my other avocations. For while, in pleading and attending, in judging or settling causes, in waiting upon some on business, on others from respect, the greater part of the day is spent on other men's affairs, the remainder must be devoted to my family at home: thus I can reserve no part to myself and study. I must chat with my wife and prattle with my children, and something I have to say to my servants. These things I reckon a part of a man's business, unless he will resolve to be a stranger at home.. For with whomever nature, chance, or choice, hath engaged a man in any intercourse, he must endeavour to make himself as acceptable to those about him as he can; still preserving such a disposition, that he may not spoil them by excessive gentleness, or let his servants become his masters.

Thas days, months, and years, slip away: what time then is left for writing? And hitherto I have said nothing of those hours which must be devoted to sleep; or of those to meals, on which many waste nearly as much time as in sleep, the consumer of almost half our life. Indeed all the time I can gain to myself, I steal from sleep and my meals ; and because it is little, I have made slow progress. Yet being something, I have at last got to the end of Utopia, which I now send you; and expect, after you have read it, that you will inform me, if you can remind me of any thing which has escaped me. For though I should be happy had I as much invention and learning, as I know I have memory, and which makes me in general depend greatly upon it, yet do I not so entirely rely on my memory, as to think I can forget nothing.

My lad, John Clement, hath made some observations which startle me. You know he was present with us, as I think he ought to be at every conversation which may be useful to him ; for I promise myself great things from his early progress in Greek and Roman learning. According to my memory, the bridge over Anider at Amaurot was, by Raphael's account, 500 paces; but John as. sures me he said 500, therefore, pray recollect what you can of this. For, if you agree with him, I will believe

that I have been mistaken ; but if you remember nothing of it, I shall not alter what I have written, because it is according to my recollection. I shall take care that there be nothing falsely written, and if there be any thing doubtful, though I may perhaps tell a lie, I will not make one ; for I had rather pass for a good than a wise man. But it will be easy to correct this mistake, if you can either meet with Raphael, or know how to address him by letter.

Another difficulty presses me still more, and makes your writing to him more necessary. I know not whether to blame Raphael, you, or myself for it; since we neither thought of asking him, nor he of telling us—in what part of the new world Utopia is situate. This was such an omission that I would gladly redeem it at any rate; for I am ashamed, after having told so much of this island, that I cannot inform my readers in what sea it lies.

There are some among us who have a strong desire to go thither. A pious divine, in particular, is very earnest in it, not so much from a vain curiosity of seeing unknown countries, as that he may advance our religion, so happily begun, to be planted there. And that he may proceed with regularity in this, he intends to procure a mission from the Pope, and be sent thither as their bishop. In a case like this, he makes no scruple of aspiring to that character ; but thinks such ambition meritorious, being solely instigated by pious zeal. He desireth it only as a mean of advancing the Christian religion, and not for any honour or advantage which may accrue to himself. .

I therefore earnestly beg, if you can possibly meet with Raphael, or know how to address him, that you will be pleased to inform yourself on these points ; that no falsehood may be left in my book, nor any important truth be wanting. And perhaps it will not be improper to let him see the book. For no man can correct its errors so well as he, and by perusing it, he will be able to give a more perfect judgment of it, than from any discourse about it. You will likewise be able to discover whether my undertaking be acceptable to him or not. For if he intend writing a relation of his travels, perhaps he will not be pleased that I should anticipate him in what belongs to the Utopian Commonwealth ; since, in that case, his book will not sure prise the world with the pleasure which this new discovery will give it.

I am so little fond of appearing in print on this occasion, that if he dislike it, I will lay the piece aside ; and even though he should approve it, I am not determined on pube'

« VorigeDoorgaan »