Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

in all the territory about it, you can scarcely find 500 either men or women, who, from their age and strength, are capable of labour, and are not engaged in it. The very syphogrants, though excused by law, excuse not themselves, but work that their example may incite the industry of the rest. A similar exemption is allowed to those who are recommended to the people by the priests, and privi. leged from labour by the private suffrages of the syphogrants, that they may devote themselves wholly to study. But if any of them fall short of the hopes they seemed to give, they are obliged to return to manual labour. And sometimes a mechanic, who so employs his leisure as to advance considerably in learning, is raised to the rank of one of their learned. From these they choose their ambassadors, priests, tranibors, and the prince himself, formerly called their Barzanes, but of late their Ademus.

Thus, from the number among them who are neither suffered to be idle nor to be uselessly employed, you may estimate how much may be done in their few hours of labour. But beside this, we are to remember that the useful arts are managed with less labour among them than elsewhere. The building or repair of houses employeth many hands with us. For a thriftless heir often suffers the house bis father built to fall into decay, and his successor is at great cost to repair what might have been kept up at small expence. It often happens too, that the house which one person built at a great expence, is neglected by another who thinks he hath better taste in architecture, and, let. In the first place, women generally do little, and they are half of mankind; and if a few women be diligent, their husbands are idle. Then consider the great number of idle priests, and what are called religious persons. Add to these the rich, those chiefly who have landed property, called noblemen and gentlemen, with their families of idle persons, kept for show rather than use. Then add those strong and lusty beggars who go about pretending disease in extenuation of begging. On the whole, you will find that the number of those, by whose labour mankind is supplied, is much smaller than you imagine.

Next, consider how few of those who work are employed in labours of real utility. For we, who measure all things by money, give rise to many trades which are vain and superfluous, and which serve only to support riot and luxury. If the labouring part of mankind were employed only on the necessaries of life, these would so abound, that their price would fall, and the tradesman could not be maintained. But if all they who labour in useless avocations were more profitably employed, and all they who languish out their lives in idleness and sloth (each of whom consumeth as much as two of the laborious), were compelled to labour, you may readily conceive, that little time would accomplish all that is necessary, profitable, or agreeable to mankind, especially while pleasure is kept within due bounds.

This is proved in Utopia. For there, in a large city, and

in all the territory about it, you can scarcely find 500 either men or women, who, from their age and strength, are capable of labour, and are not engaged in it. The very syphogrants, though excused by law, excuse not themselves, but work that their example may incite the industry of the rest. A similar exemption is allowed to those who are recommended to the people by the priests, and privi. leged from labour by the private suffrages of the syphogrants, that they may devote themselves wholly to study. But if any of them fall short of the hopes they seemed to give, they are obliged to return to manual labour. And sometimes a mechanic, who so employs his leisure as to ada vance considerably in learning, is raised to the rank of one of their learned. From these they choose their ambassadors, priests, tranibors, and the prince himself, formerly called their Barzanes, but of late their Ademus. x

Thus, from the number among them who are neither suffered to be idle nor to be uselessly employed, you may estimate how much may be done in their few hours of labour. But beside this, we are to remember that the useful arts are managed with less labour among them than elsewhere. The building or repair of houses employeth many hands with us. For a thriftless heir often suffers the house his father built to fall into decay, and his successor is at great cost to repair what might have been kept up at small expence. It often happens too, that the house which one person built at a great expence, is neglected by another who thinks he hath better taste in architecture, and, let. ting it go to ruin, builds another at no less expence. But among the Utopians, all is so regulated, that they seldom require new building-ground. They not only repair their houses with great expedition, but shew much skill in preventing their decay; and their buildings are preserved very long with little labour. Thus too, their builders are often without employment, except in hewing timber and squaring stone, in case of wanting to raise a building on a sudden emergency

As for their clothes, observe how little labour is spent on them. While at work, they wear loose dresses of leather and skins, which will last seven years. When they appear in public, they put on an upper garment which hides the other. These garments are all of one colour, the natural one of the wool. They need less woollen cloth than is used anywhere else, and what they use is much less costly. Of linen cloth they use more, but it is made with less labour ; and they value cloth only from the whiteness of the linen or 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 colours, and as many silken vests, are hardly sufficient, and while the nicer sort think ten too few, here every man is content with one, which often lasteth him two years. Nor is there any temptation to desire more ; for no man would be the warmer, nor make one jot the better appearance for them.

Thus, employed in useful labour, and content with little,

abundance of all things prevaileth among them. It frequently happens indeed, that for want of other work, numbers of them are sent out to repair the highways. But when no public call requires their attendance, the hours of labour are curtailed. The magistrates never impose unnecessary labour on the people. For, the chief end of the constitution is, to regulate labour by the public wants, and to allow all as much time as possible for mental improve ment, in which they judge the happiness of life to con. sist.

But it is now time to explain to you the mutual intercourse of this people, their commerce and regulations.

As their cities are composed of families, so their families are made up of those who are nearly related to each other. Their women, as they grow up, are married into other families. But the males, children and grandchildren, live still in the same house, in great obedience to the common parent; unless age hath weakened his understanding, and then the next in age supplieth his place. But due care is taken that no city become too populous, or be dispeopled. No city may contain above 6000 families beside those of the circumjacent country. And no family may have less than ten, or more than sixteen, persons in it; without any limitation for the children under age. This rule is easily observed, by removing some of the children of a more fruitful couple to a less abundant family.

« VorigeDoorgaan »