« VorigeDoorgaan »
larch. The syphogrants, 200 in number, choose the prince from a list of four, named by the people of the four divisions of the city, taking an oath beforehand, that they will choose him whom they think fittest for the office. They vote privately, so that it is not known for whom each giveth his suffrage ; and the prince is for life, unless he be removed on suspicion of a design to enslave his people.
The tranibors are newly chosen every year, yet generally continued ; while all their other magistrates are annual. They meet every third day (oftener if necessary), and consult with the prince concerning the general interests of the state, or private dissensions among the people, though the ‘latter seldom happen. Two syphogrants are alway called into the council-chamber, and are changed daily. It is a fundamental rule of the constitution, that nothing relative to the public can be concluded, until the matter hath been debated three days in the council. And it is death for any to meet and hold consultation concerning the state, except at their council, or in the general assembly of the people.
This hath been so provided, that the prince and the tranibors may not conspire to change the government and enslave the people. Therefore, when any thing of great importance is on foot, the syphogrants are made acquainted with it, who, when they have communicated it to the families belonging to their divisions, and have considered it themselves, make report to the senate ; and on great occasions, the matter is referred to the council of the whole island. all the dexterity in your power, that if you cannot make things go well, you may make them go as little otherwise as possible. Unless all are good, every thing cannot be right; and that is a blessing I have no hopes of seeing at present.'
One rule observed in their council is, never to debate a subject on the day on which it is proposed. It is ever referred to the next meeting, for fear of rashness and the heat of argument; which might lead them, instead of con-sulting the public good, to support their first opinions, and hazard their country rather than endanger their own reputation. To prevent this, they are made deliberate rather than expeditious.
Agriculture is so universally understood among them, that neither man nor woman is ignorant of it. They are instructed in it from their childhood, partly at school and partly by practice, being frequently led into the fields near the town, where they not only see others at work, but become exercised in it themselves. Beside agriculture, so common to them, every man hath some peculiar trade, as the manufacture of wool or flax, masonry, smith's or carpenter's work. No other trade is in great esteem among them. Throughout the island they wear one sort of clothes, without any other distinction than what is necessary for different sexes, and the married and unmarried. The fashion never changes, is easy and agreeable, suited to the climate, and for summer as well as winter.
Every family maketh clothes for itself; and women as well as men all learn some one of the trades before men
tioned. The women generally engage in the wool and flax, leaving the ruder trades to the men. One trade is generally followed by father and son, their inclinations often agreeing. But if any man's genius pointeth another way, he is adopted into a family professing the trade he prefers, and care is taken by his father and by the magistrate that his master be a proper person. If, when one hath learned a certain trade, he desire to acquire another, that is also allowed, and is managed as before. And when he hath learned both, he follows that which he prefers, unless the public, hath more occasion for one than the other.
The chief and almost only business of the syphogrants, is to take care that no man liveth idly, but that every one followeth his trade diligently. Yet they exhaust not themselves with perpetual toil from morning to night, as if they were beasts of burden ; which is indeed a heavy slavery, yet the common course of life among all mechanics save the Utopians. But, dividing the day and night into twentyfour hours, they appoint six for work, three before and three after dinner. They then sup, and at eight o'clock, reckoning from noon, they go to bed and sleep eight hours. The rest of his time is left to every man's discretion. Yet they are not to dissipate the interval in luxury and idleness, but must employ it in some proper exercise, according to their various inclinations, which is generally reading
They have public lectures every morning before day
break. None are obliged to attend, except those who are appointed to literary professions ; yet many women as well as men go to hear lectures of one sort or other, according to their inclinations. If others, not formed for contemplation, prefer employing themselves at that time in their trades, as many of them do, they are not hindered, but are commended as subjects desirous of serving their country.
After supper, they spend an hour in some diversion, in summer in the garden, and in winter in their halls, entertaining each other with music or discourse. They have no idea of dice, or of any foolish and mischievous game. They have, however, two games not unlike our chess. The one, a battle of numbers, in which number consumes number. The other, a contest between the virtues and vices, in which the discord among the vices themselves and their union against virtue is not unpleasantly represented ; together with the particular opposition between certain virtues and vices, and the methods in which vice openly assaults, or se. cretly undermines virtue, and virtue resists.
The time appointed for labour must be narrowly examined, or, as you may conceive, since only six hours are ap- . propriated thereto, a scarcity of the necessaries of life might ensue. But this time is so far from being insufficient for supplying them with necessaries and conveniencies, that part of it is superfluous, as you may apprehend by considering how large a proportion of all other nations is totally idle. VOL. II.
I K :
. By following your counsel, replied he, ' I should run a violent risk of going mad myself, while endeavouring to cure madness in others. If I will speak the truth, I must repeat what I have already said to you; and whether philosophers can lie, I will not determine; certain I am, I cannot. But though such discourse may be disagreeable to them, I see not why it should seem foolish or extravagant. Indeed, if I should propose such inventions as Plato's in his Commonwealth, or those of the Utopians, though they might seem better, as certainly they be, yet differ they so much from our establishment, founded on property (which is unknown among them) that I could not expect any effect from it. But discourses like mine, which only recal past evils to mind, and warn of what may happen, contain no such absurdity, but they may be used at any time; for they can be unpleasant only to those who are resolved to run headlong the contrary way. And if we must pass over as absurd or extravagant every thing which, owing to the wickedness of many, may seem harsh, we must not urge most of those truths which Christ hath taught us, even among Christians; though he hath commanded, we should proclaim on the house-tops what he taught in secret. Most of his precepts oppose themselves to the lives of this age,