Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

be forgotten that I was ever there. And this is the true cause why they are better governed and live happier than we do, though we fall, not short of them in understanding or external advantages.'

On this, I said to him, “ I beg you will describe that island very particularly to us; that is, her soil, rivers, towns, people, manners, constitution, laws, and, in a word, all that you think will interest us; and you will easily conceive we have much curiosity about a people so new to

us.'

I willingly comply,' he answered, “ for I have digested the matter with care, but the relation will take up some time.

· Let us go and dine then,' said I, ' after which we shall have leisure enough.'

He consented, we went to dinner, and afterward returned to the same place. I ordered my servants to take care that we were not interrupted, and Peter and I desired Raphael to perform his promise.

· Observing our attention, after a little recollection, he began thus

END OF BOOK I.

UTOPIA.

BOOK II.

• Tie island of Utopia is 200 miles broad in the middle, and over a great part of it, but grows narrower at either end. The figure of it is not unlike a crescent. Eleven miles breadth of sea washeth its horns and formeth a considerable bay, encompassed by a shore about 500 miles in extent, and well sheltered from storms. In the bay is no great current. The whole coast is as it were a continued harbour, affording the whole island every advantage of mutual intercourse. Yet the entrance into the bay, owing to rocks and shoals, is very dangerous.

In the middle is a rock which appeareth above water, on whose top is a tower inhabited by a garrison. The other

rocks lie under water, and are very dangerous. The channel is known only by the natives, and a stranger entering the bay without one of their pilots would be in imminent danger of shipwreck. Themselves could not pass it in safety, without certain marks on the coast to direct their way. And if these were a little altered, any fleet coming against them, however large, would certainly be lost. On the other side of the island are likewise many harbours; and the coast is so fortified by nature as well as art, that a small force could hinder the descent of a large army.

Report saith (and marks of its credibility remain) that this island was originally a part of the continent. Utopus, the conqueror of it, and whose name it now bears (having previously been called Abraxa), brought the government and civility of the rude inhabitants to their present highly improved state. Having easily subdued them, he formed the design of separating them from the continent and encompassing them with the sea. To this end, he ordered a deep channel to be dug 15 miles long; and that the natives might not think he treated them like slaves, he not only obliged them, but also his own soldiers to labour at the work. From the number of hands employed, it was finished with dispatch exceeding every man's expectation ; and his neighbours, who at first laughed at the folly of the undertaking, when they saw it accomplished, were struck with admiration and terror.

There are 54 cities in the island, all of them large and

well built. Their laws, manners, and customs, are the same, and they resemble each other as nearly as the ground they stand on will allow. The nearest to each other are at least 24 miles asunder; and the most remote, not above a day's journey on foot. Every city sendeth three of her wisest senators once a-year to Amaurot (the capital of the island, and situate in the center), to consult on their common interests. The jurisdiction of every city extendeth at least 20 miles, and farther where they lie wider asunder. No one desireth to enlarge her boundary, for the people consider themselves in the light of good husbands, rather than owners, of their lands.

They have built farm-houses over the whole country, which are well contrived and furnished with every necessary. Inhabitants for them are sent in rotation from the cities. No family in the country hath fewer than forty men and women in it, beside two slaves. A master and mistress preside over every family, and over thirty families a magistrate. Every year twenty of the family return to town after having been two years in the country, and in their place other twenty are sent to learn country business of those who have been there only one year, and must, in their turn, teach the next comers. Thus, those who live on the farms are never ignorant of agriculture, and commit no fatal errors, such as causing a scarcity of corn.

But, notwithstanding these yearly changes, to prevent any from being compelled against inclination to follow that

Vol. II.

hard course of life too long, many of them take such pleasure in it, that they ask leave to continue therein many years. These husbandmen till the ground, breed cattle, hew wood, and send it to the towns by land or water, as is most convenient. They breed an infinity of chickens in a very curious manner. They are not hatched by hens, but a vast number of eggs are hatched together by means of an equable artificial warmth ; and no sooner do the young quit the shell, than they consider their feeder as their dam, and follow man as other chickens do the hen.

They breed few horses, but those they have are high-mettled, and employed in exercising their youth in horsemanship. In the cart and plough they use oxen. For, though their horses be stronger, they find their oxen more patient of labour, subject to fewer disorders, and maintained at less charge and trouble; and when no longer fit for labour, they are good meat at last. .

They sow no more corn than they want for their bread, for they drink wine, cider, or perry, and often water, sometimes boiled with honey or liquorice, in which they abound. And though they know exactly how much corn every city and the tract belonging to it require, they sow much more, and breed more cattle than are necessary for their consumption, giving the overplus to their neighbours. When they want any thing in the country which it doth not produce, they fetch it from the city without carrying any thing in exchange, and the city magistrates take care to see them

« VorigeDoorgaan »