Page images

pentes, or at the leaste wyse, with people, that be no lesse savage, wylde and noysome, then the verye beastes theim selves be. But a little farther beyonde that, all thynges

beginne by litle and lytle to waxe pleasaunte; the ayre 5 softe, temperate and, gentle; the grounde covered with

grene grasse; lesse wildnesse in the beastes. At the last shall ye come agayne to people, cities and townes wherein is continuall entercourse and occupiyng of merchaundise

and chaffare, not only among themselves and with theire 10 borderers, but also with merchauntes of farre countreyes,

bothe by lande and water. There I had occasion (sayd he) to go to many countreyes on every syde. For there was no shippe ready to any voyage or journey, but I and my

fellowes were into it very gladly receyved. The 15

Straunge fassions shippes that thei founde first were made playn,

flatte and broade in the botome, trough wise. The sayles were made of great russhes, or of wickers, and in some places of lether. Afterwarde thei founde shippes

with ridged kyeles, and sayles of canvasse, yea, and shortly 20 after, havyng all thynges lyke oures. The shipmen also very experte and cunnynge,

bothe in the sea and in the wether. But he saide that he founde great favoure and frendship

amonge them, for teachynge them the feate and

the use of the lode stone, whiche to them 25 before that time was unknowne. And therfore they were

wonte to be verye timerous and fearfull upon the sea; nor to venter upon it, but only in the somer time.

But nowe they have suche a confidence in that stone, that they feare

not stormy winter: in so dooynge farther from care then zo daunger; in so muche, that it is greatly to be doubted, lest

that thyng, throughe their owne folish hardinesse, shall tourne them to evyll and harme, which at the first was supposed shoulde be to them good and commodious.

The lode stone.

But what he tolde us that he sawe in everye countreye where he came, it were very longe to declare ; neither it is my purpose at this time to make rehersall therof.

But peradventure in an other place I wyll speake of it, chiefly suche thynges as shall be profitable too bee knowen, as in

5 speciall be those decrees and ordinaunces, that he marked to be well and wittely provided and enacted amonge suche peoples, as do live together in a civile policye and good ordre. For of suche thynges dyd wee buselye enquire and demaunde of him, and he likewise very willingly tolde us 10 of the same. But as for monsters, bycause they be no newes, of them we were nothyng inquisitive. For nothyng is more easye to bee founde, then bee barkynge Scyllaes, ravenyng Celenes, and Lestrigones devourers of people, and suche lyke great, and incredible monsters. But to fynde

15 citisens ruled by good and holsome lawes, that is an exceding rare, and harde thyng. But as he marked many fonde, and folisshe lawes in those newe founde landes, so he rehersed divers actes, and constitutions, whereby these oure cities, nations, countreis, and kyngdomes may take example 20 to amende their faultes, enormities and errours. Wherof in another place (as I sayde) I wyll intreate.

Now at this time I am determined to reherse onely that he tolde us of the maners, customes, lawes, and ordinaunces of the Utopians. But first I wyll repete oure 25 former communication by th[e] occasion, and (as I might saye) the drifte wherof, he was brought into the mention of that weale publique.

For, when Raphael had very prudentlye touched divers thynges that be amisse, some here and some there, yea, 30 very many on bothe partes ; and againe had spoken of suche wise lawes and prudente decrees, as be established and used, bothe here amonge us and also there amonge theym,

as a man so perfecte, and experte in the lawes, and customes of every severall countrey, as though into what place soever he came geastwise, there he had ledde al his life :

then Peter muche mervailynge at the man : Surely maister 5 Raphael (quod he) I wondre greatly, why you gette you not

into some kinges courte. For I am sure there is no prince livyng, that wold not be very glad of you, as a man not only hable highly to delite him with your profounde learn

yng, and this your knowlege of countreis, and peoples, but 10 also mete to instructe him with examples, and helpe him

with counsell. And thus doyng, you shall bryng your selfe in a verye good case, and also be of habilitie to helpe all your frendes and kinsfolke.

As concernyng my frendes and kynsfolke (quod he) 15 I passe not greatly for them. For I thinke I have suffici

ently doone my parte towardes them already. For these thynges, that other men doo not departe from, untys they be olde and sycke, yea, whiche they be then verye lothe to

leave, when they canne no longer keepe; those very same 20 thynges dyd I beyng not only lustye and in good helth, but

also in the floure of my youth, divide among my frendes and kynsfolkes. Which I thyrke with this my liberalitie ought to holde them contented, and not to require nor to

loke that besydes this, I shoulde for their sakes geve myselfe 25 in bondage unto kinges.

Nay, God forbyd that (quod Peter) it is notte my mynde that you shoulde be in bondage to kynges, but as a retainour to them at your pleasure. Whiche surely I thinke

is the nighest waye that you can devise howe to bestowe 30 your time frutefully, not onlye for the private commoditie of

your frendes and for the generall profite of all sortes of people, but also for th[e] advauncement of your self to a much welthier state and condition, then you be nowe in.

To a welthier condition (quod Raphael) by that meanes, that my mynde standeth cleane agaynst? Now I lyve at libertie after myne owne mynde and pleasure, whiche I thynke verye fewe of these great states and pieres of realmes can saye. Yea, and there be ynow of them that sue for great 5 mens frendeshippes : and therfore thinke it no great hurte, if they have not me, nor in. or iii. suche other as I am.

Well, I perceive playnly frende Raphael (quod I) that you be desirous neither of richesse nor of power. And truly I have in no lesse reverence and estimation a man of 10 your mynde, then anye of theim all that bee so high in power and authoritie. But you shall doo as it becometh you : yea, and accordyng to this wisdome, to this high and free courage of yours, if you can finde in your herte so to appoynt and dispose your selfe, that you mai applye 15 your witte and diligence to the profite of the weale publique, thoughe it be somewhat to youre owne payne and hyndraunce. And this shall you never so wel doe, nor wyth so greate proffitte perfourme, as yf you be of some greate princes counsel, and put into his heade (as I doubte not but 20 you wyl) honeste opinions and vertuous persuasions. For from the prince, as from a perpetual wel sprynge, commethe amonge the people the floode of al that is good or evell. But in you is so perfitte lernynge, that withoute anye experience, and agayne so greate experience, that wythoute 25 anye lernynge you maye well be any kinges counsellour.

You be twyse deceaved, maister More, (quod he) fyrste in me, and agayne in the thinge it selfe. For neither is in me the habilitye that you force upon me, and yf it wer never so much, yet in disquieting myne owne quietnes I 30 should nothing further the weale publique. For first of all, the moste parte of all princes have more delyte in warlike matters and feates of chivalrie (the knowlege wherof I

neither have nor desire) than in the good feates of peace : and employe muche more study, how by right or by wrong to enlarge their dominions, than howe wel and peaceablie

to rule and governe that they have alredie. Moreover, they 5 that be counsellours to kinges, every one of them eyther is

of him selfe so wise in dede, that he nedeth not, or elles he thinketh himself so wise, that he wil not allowe another mans counsel, saving that they do shamefully and flatter

ingly geve assent to the fond and folishe sayinges of certeyn 10 great men. Whose favours, bicause they be in high autho

ritie with their prince, by assentation and flatterie they labour to obteyne. And verily it is naturally geven to all men to esteme their owne inventions best. So both the

raven and the ape thincke their owne yonge ones fairest. 15 Than if a man in such a company, where some disdayne

and have despite at other mens inventions, and some counte their owne best, if among suche menne (I say) a man should bringe furth any thinge, that he hath redde done in tymes

paste, or that he hath sene done in other places: there the 20 hearers fare as though the whole existimation of their wis

dome were in jeoperdye to be overthrowen, and that ever after thei shoulde be counted for verye diserdes, unles they

could in other mens inventions pycke out matter Triptakers.

to reprehend, and find fault at. If all other 25 poore helpes fayle, then this is their extreame refuge.

These thinges (say they) pleased our forefathers and auncestours; wolde God we coulde be so wise as thei were: and as though thei had wittely concluded the matter, and with

this answere stopped every mans mouth, thei sitte downe 30 againe. As who should sai, it were a very daungerous

matter, if a man in any pointe should be founde wiser then his forefathers were. And yet bee we content to suffre the best and wittiest of their decrees to lye unexecuted: but if

« PreviousContinue »