First book While on business
in Flanders, the author makes the acquaintance of a certain Raphael Hythloday,
a sailor who has travelled with the famous explorer Amerigo Vespucci. He has
much to tell about his voyages, Thomas More, Raphael Hythloday and a cardinal
meet together in a garden and discuss many problems. Raphael has been to
England too and expresses his surprise at the cruelty of English laws and at
the poverty of the population. Then they talk about crime in general, and
another cause of stealing which I suppose is proper and peculiar to you
that?" asked the Cardinal.
lord," said Raphael, "your sheep that used to be so meek and tame and
so small eaters, have now become so great devourers and so wild that they eat
up and swallow down the very men themselves. The peasants are driven out of
their land. Away they go finding no place to rest in. And when all is spent,
what can they do but steal and then be hanged?"
state of things in England puts Raphael Hythloday in mind of a commonwealth (a
republic) he has seen on an unknown island in an unknown sea. A description of
"Utopia" follows, and Raphael speaks "of all the good laws and
orders of this same island."
There is no private
property in Utopia. The people own everything in common and enjoy complete
economic equality. Everyone cares for his neighbour's good, and each has a
clean and healthy house to live in. Labour is the most essential feature of
life in Utopia, but no one is overworked. Everybody is engaged in usefu1 work
nine hours a day. After work, they indulge in sport and games and spend much
time in "improving their minds" (learning)-All teaching is free, and
the parents do not have to pay any schoo1 fees. (More wrote about things
unknown in any country at that time, though they are natural with us in our
For magistrates the
Utopians choose men whom they think to be most fit to protect the welfare of
the population. When electing their government, the people give their voices
secretly. There are few laws and no lawyers at all, but these few laws must be
strictly obeyed. "Virtue," says Thomas More, "lives according to
Nature." The greatest of all pleasures is perfect health. Man must be
healthy and wise.
"Utopia" was the first literary work in which the ideas of Cornmunism
appeared. It was highly esteemed by all the humanists of Europe in More's time
and again grew very popular with the socialists of the 19th century. After
More, a tendency began in literature to write fantastic novels on social
reforms, and many such works appeared in various countries.
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