« VorigeDoorgaan »
by their intercession, will restore them to liberty, or at least greatly mitigate their slavery.
Who tempts a woman to adultery is no less severely punished than he who commits the crime. They deem a deliberate design to commit a crime equal to the actual perpetration of it; since its not taking effect diminisheth not the guilt of him who miscarried in his attempt.
They take great pleasure in fools. It is esteemed base and unbecoming to use them ill, and they think it not amiss for people to divert themselves with their folly, and that it is an advantage to the fools. For were men so morose and severe as not to be at all amused with their ridiculous behaviour and foolish sayings (which is all 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 otherwise.
Should any man reproach another for being mishapen, or imperfect in any part of his body, it would be thought no reflection on the person so treated, but scandalous in him who had upbraided another with what he could not prevent..
It is thought a mark of a sluggish and sordid mind, not to preserve natural beauty with care; but it is infamous among them to paint. They all see that no beauty recommendeth a wife to her husband so strongly as her probity
and obedience ; few only are attracted by beauty, but the other excellencies charm the whole world.
As they terrify from the commission of crimes, by punishments, they invite to the practice of virtue by public honours. They erect statues in their market-places to the memory of such as have deserved well of their country, to perpetuate the remembrance of their actions, and be an incitement to posterity to follow their example.
If a man aspire ambitiously to any office, he loseth it for certain. They live in loving intercourse with each other, the magistrates never behaving either insolently or cruelly to the people. They affect rather to be called fathers, and by really being such, well merit the appellation. The people pay them all marks of honour, the more freely because none are exacted from them. The prince himself hath no distinction either of garments or a crown; a sheaf of corn only is carried before him, and a wax-light before the high-priest.
They have few laws, and such is their constitution, they require not many. They much condemn other countries, whose laws, with the commentaries on them, swell so many volumes ; esteeming it unreasonable to oblige men to obey a body of laws so large and intricate, as not to be read and understood by every subject.
They have no lawyers among them. For they esteem
them a class, whose profession it is to disguise matters, and to writhe the laws. Therefore they think it much better that every man should plead his own cause, and trust it to the judge, as elsewhere the client trusteth it to his counsellor. By this plan they avoid many delays, and find out the truth with more certainty. For after the parties have opened the merits of the cause without the artifices of lawyers, the judge examines the matter and supports the simplicity of those well-meaning persons whom otherwise the crafty would run down. And thus they avoid those evils which appear so remarkable in those countries which labour under a vast load of laws.
Every one of them is skilled in their law. It is a very short study, and the plainest meaning of which words are capable, is ever the sense of it. They argue thus. All laws are promulgated that every man may know his duty. Therefore the plainest construction of words is, what ought to be put upon them. A more refined exposition could not easily be comprehended, and would only make the laws useless to the greater part of mankind, especially to those who most need the guidance of them. It is the same thing, whether you make no law at all, or couch it in terms of which, without a quick apprehension and much study, men cannot find out the true meaning; for the generality of mankind are so dull and so busied in their avocations, that they have neither the leisure nor capacity requisite for such an inquiry.
Some of their neighbours, who long ago, by the assistance of the Utopians, shook off the yoke of tyranny, being struck with the virtue they observed among them, have come to desire magistrates of them, some changing them yearly, others every five years. When they change them, it is with strong expressions of honour and esteem; and in this they seen to have hit upon a very good expedient for their own happiness and safety. Since the good or ill condition of a country dependeth so much on its magistrates, they could not have made a better choice than men whom no advantages can bias. Wealth is of no use to them, who must so soon return to their own country; and being strangers among them, no party interests can agitate them. When public judicatories are swayed by avarice or partiality, justice, the grand sinew of society, is lost..
The Utopians call those who ask magistrates from them, neighbours; but those to whom they have rendered more particular services, friends. While all other nations are perpetually making and breaking leagues, they never enter into alliance with any state. They think leagues useless, and believe, that if the common ties of humanity knit men not together, the faith of promises will have little effect. They are the more confirmed in this by what they see of the nations around them, who are no strict observers of leagues and treaties.
We know how religiously they are observed in Europe. Where the christian doctrine is received, they are particu
larly sacred and inviolable. This is partly owing to the justice and goodness of the princes themselves, and partly to the reverence they pay the popes. Who, being most religious observers of their own promises, exhort all other princes to perform theirs ; and when gentler methods prevail not, they compel them to it by the severity of the pastoral censure; thinking it would be the height of indecency, if men distinguished by the title, the faithful, should not religiously observe the faith of treatics.
But in that new-found world, which is not less distant from us in point of situation than in the manners of its inhabitants, there is no relying on leagues 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 is found in the words of the treaty (purposely couched in such ambiguous terms, as never so strictly to bind but that a loop-hole remains), and thus they break both their leagues and their faith. This is practised with such impudence, that those very men who pride themselves in having suggested such expedients to their princes, would declaim scornfully against such craft, or (to speak plainer) such fraud and deceit, if they found individuals practising it in their bargains; and would not scruple to say, they deserve to be hanged.
Thus it is that justice passeth for a low-spirited and vulgar virtue, far beneath the dignity of royal greatness; or at least there are two kinds of it. The one is mean and