Sir Thomas More's Utopia

Section on Religion


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(Now, this is not a true Deist text, but read on and you will see why it is here)


THERE are several sorts of religions, not only in different parts
of the island, but even in every town; some worshipping the sun,
others the moon or one of the planets: some worship such men as
have been eminent in former times for virtue or glory, not only as
ordinary deities, but as the supreme God: yet the greater and
wiser sort of them worship none of these, but adore one eternal,
invisible, infinite, and incomprehensible Deity; as a being that
is far above all our apprehensions, that is spread over the whole
universe, not by His bulk, but by His power and virtue; Him they
call the Father of All, and acknowledge that the beginnings, the
increase, the progress, the vicissitudes, and the end of all
things come only from Him; nor do they offer divine honors to any
but to Him alone. And indeed, though they differ concerning other
things, yet all agree in this, that they think there is one
Supreme Being that made and governs the world, whom they call in
the language of their country Mithras. They differ in this, that
one thinks the god whom he worships is this Supreme Being, and
another thinks that his idol is that God; but they all agree in
one principle, that whoever is this Supreme Being, He is also that
great Essence to whose glory and majesty all honors are ascribed
by the consent of all nations.

By degrees, they fall off from the various superstitions that are
among them, and grow up to that one religion that is the best and
most in request; and there is no doubt to be made but that all the
others had vanished long ago, if some of those who advised them to
lay aside their superstitions had not met with some unhappy
accident, which being considered as inflicted by heaven, made them
afraid that the God whose worship had like to have been abandoned,
had interposed, and revenged themselves on those who despised
their authority. After they had heard from us an account of the
doctrine, the course of life, and the miracles of Christ, and of
the wonderful constancy of so many martyrs, whose blood, so
willingly offered up by them, was the chief occasion of spreading
their religion over a vast number of nations; it is not to be
imagined how inclined they were to receive it. I shall not
determine whether this proceeded from any secret inspiration of
God, or whether it was because t seemed so favorable to that
community of goods, which is an opinion so particular as well as
so dear to them; since they perceived that Christ and his
followers lived by that rule and that it was still kept up in some
communities among the sincerest sort of Christians. From
whichsoever of these motives it might be, true it is that many of
them came over to our religion, and were initiated into it by
baptism. But as two of our number were dead, so none of the four
that survived were in priest's orders; we therefore could only
baptize them; so that to our great regret they could not partake
of the other sacraments, that can only be administered by priests;
but they are instructed concerning them, and long most vehemently
for them. They have had great disputes among themselves, whether
one chosen by them to be a priest would not be thereby qualified
to do all the things that belong to that character, even though he
had no authority derived from the Pope; and they seemed to be
resolved to choose some for that employment, but they had not done
it when I left them.

Those among them that have not received our religion, do not
fright any from it, and use none ill that goes over to it; so that
all the while I was there, one man was only punished on this
occasion. He being newly baptized, did, notwithstanding all that
we could say to the contrary, dispute publicly concerning the
Christian religion with more zeal than discretion; and with so
much heat, that he not only preferred our worship to theirs, but
condemned all their rites as profane; and cried out against all
that adhered to them, as impious and sacrilegious persons, that
were to be damned to everlasting burnings. Upon his having
frequently preached in this manner, he was seized, and after trial
he was condemned to banishment, not for having disparaged their
religion, but for his inflaming the people to sedition: for this
is one of their most ancient laws, that no man ought to be
punished for his religion. At the first constitution of their
government, Utopus having understood that before his coming among
them the old inhabitants had been engaged in great quarrels
concerning religion, by which they were so divided among
themselves, that he found it an easy thing to conquer them, since
instead of uniting their forces against him, every different party
in religion fought by themselves; after he had subdued them, he
made a law that every man might be of what religion he pleased,
and might endeavor to draw others to it by force of argument, and
by amicable and modest ways, but without bitterness against those
of other opinions; but that he ought to use no other force but
that of persuasion, and was neither to mix with it reproaches nor
violence; and such as did otherwise were to be condemned to
banishment or slavery.

This law was made by Utopus, not only for preserving the public
peace, which he saw suffered much by daily contentions and
irreconcilable heats, but because he thought the interest of
religion itself required it. He judged it not fit to determine
anything rashly, and seemed to doubt whether those different forms
of religion might not all come from God, who might inspire men in
a different manner, and be pleased with this variety; he therefore
thought it indecent and foolish for any man to threaten and
terrify another to make him believe what did not appear to him to
be true. And supposing that only one religion was really true, and
the rest false, he imagined that the native force of truth would
at last break forth and shine bright, if supported only by the
strength of argument, and attended to with a gentle and
unprejudiced mind; while, on the other hand, if such debates were
carried on with violence and tumults, as the most wicked are
always the most obstinate, so the best and most holy religion
might be choked with superstition, as corn is with briars and

He therefore left men wholly to their liberty, that they might be
free to believe as they should see cause; only he made a solemn
and severe law against such as should so far degenerate from the
dignity of human nature as to think that our souls died with our
bodies, or that the world was governed by chance, without a wise
overruling Providence: for they all formerly believed that there
was a state of rewards and punishments to the good and bad after
this life; and they now look on those that think otherwise as
scarce fit to be counted men, since they degrade so noble a being
as the soul, and reckon it no better than a beast's: thus they are
far from looking on such men as fit for human society, or to be
citizens of a well-ordered commonwealth; since a man of such
principles must needs, as oft as he dares do it, despise all their
laws and customs: for there is no doubt to be made that a man who
is afraid of nothing but the law, and apprehends nothing after
death, will not scruple to break through all the laws of his
country, either by fraud or force, when by this means he may
satisfy his appetites. They never raise any that hold these
maxims, either to honors or offices, nor employ them in any public
trust, but despise them, as men of base and sordid minds: yet they
do not punish them, because they lay this down as a maxim that a
man cannot make himself believe anything he pleases; nor do they
drive any to dissemble their thoughts by threatenings, so that men
are not tempted to lie or disguise their opinions; which being a
sort of fraud, is abhorred by the Utopians. They take care indeed
to prevent their disputing in defence of these opinions,
especially before the common people; but they suffer, and even
encourage them to dispute concerning them in private with their
priests and other grave men, being confident that they will be
cured of those mad opinions by having reason laid before them.

There are many among them that run far to the other extreme,
though it is neither thought an ill nor unreasonable opinion, and
therefore is not at all discouraged. They think that the souls of
beasts are immortal, though far inferior to the dignity of the
human soul, and not capable of so great a happiness. They are
almost all of them very firmly persuaded that good men will be
infinitely happy in another state; so that though they are
compassionate to all that are sick, yet they lament no man's
death, except they see him loth to depart with life; for they look
on this as a very ill presage, as if the soul, conscious to itself
of guilt, and quite hopeless, was afraid to leave the body, from
some secret hints of approaching misery. They think that such a
man's appearance before God cannot be acceptable to him, who being
called on, does not go out cheerfully, but is backward and
unwilling, and is, as it were, dragged to it. They are struck with
horror when they see any die in this manner, and carry them out in
silence and with sorrow, and praying God that he would be merciful
to the errors of the departed soul, they lay the body in the
ground; but when any die cheerfully, and full of hope, they do not
mourn for them, but sing hymns when they carry out their bodies,
and commending their souls very earnestly to God: their whole
behavior is then rather grave than sad, they burn the body, and
set up a pillar where the pile was made, with an inscription to
the honor of the deceased.

When they come from the funeral, they discourse of his good life
and worthy actions, but speak of nothing oftener and with more
pleasure than of his serenity at the hour of death. They think
such respect paid to the memory of good men is both the greatest
incitement to engage others to follow their example, and the most
acceptable worship that can be offered them; for they believe that
though by the imperfection of human sight they are invisible to
us, yet they are present among us, and hear those discourses that
pass concerning themselves. They believe it inconsistent with the
happiness of departed souls not to be at liberty to be where they
will, and do not imagine them capable of the ingratitude of not
desiring to see those friends with whom they lived on earth in the
strictest bonds of love and kindness: besides they are persuaded
that good men after death have these affections and all other good
dispositions increased rather than diminished, and therefore
conclude that they are still among the living, and observe all
they say or do. From hence they engage in all their affairs with
the greater confidence of success, as trusting to their
protection; while this opinion of the presence of their ancestors
is a restraint that prevents their engaging in ill designs.

They despise and laugh at auguries, and the other vain and
superstitious ways of divination, so much observed among other
nations; but have great reverence for such miracles as cannot flow
from any of the powers of nature, and look on them as effects and
indications of the presence of the Supreme Being, of which they
say many instances have occurred among them; and that sometimes
their public prayers, which upon great and dangerous occasions
they have solemnly put up to God, with assured confidence of being
heard, have been answered in a miraculous manner.

They think the contemplating God in His works, and the adoring Him
for them, is a very acceptable piece of worship to Him.

There are many among them, that upon a motive of religion neglect
learning, and apply themselves to no sort of study; nor do they
allow themselves any leisure time, but are perpetually employed.
believing that by the good things that a man does he secures to
himself that happiness that comes after death. Some of these visit
the sick; others mend highways, cleanse ditches, repair bridges,
or dig turf, gravel, or stones. Others fell and cleave timber, and
bring wood, corn, and other necessaries on carts into their towns.
Nor do these only serve the public, but they serve even private
men, more than the slaves themselves do; for if there is anywhere
a rough, hard, and sordid piece of work to be done, from which
many are frightened by the labor and loathsomeness of it, if not
the despair of accomplishing it, they cheerfully, and of their own
accord, take that to their share; and by that means, as they ease
others very much, so they afflict themselves, and spend their
whole life in hard labor; and yet they do not value themselves
upon this, nor lessen other people's credit to raise their own;
but by their stooping to such servile employments, they are so far
from being despised, that they are so much the more esteemed by
the whole nation

Of these there are two sorts; some live unmarried and chaste, and
abstain from eating any sort of flesh; and thus weaning themselves
from all the pleasures of the present life, which they account
hurtful, they pursue, even by the hardest and painfullest methods
possible, that blessedness which they hope for hereafter; and the
nearer they approach to it, they are the more cheerful and earnest
in their endeavors after it. Another sort of them is less willing
to put themselves to much toil, and therefore prefer a married
state to a single one; and as they do not deny themselves the
pleasure of it, so they think the begetting of children is a debt
which they owe to human nature and to their country; nor do they
avoid any pleasure that does not hinder labor, and therefore eat
flesh so much the more willingly, as they find that by this means
they are the more able to work; the Utopians look upon these as
the wiser sect, but they esteem the others as the most holy. They
would indeed laugh at any man, who from the principles of reason
would prefer an unmarried state to a married, or a life of labor
to an easy life; but they reverence and admire such as do it from
the motives of religion. There is nothing in which they are more
cautious than in giving their opinion positively concerning any
sort of religion. The men that lead those severe lives are called
in the language of their country Brutheskas, which answers to
those we call religious orders.

Their priests are men of eminent piety, and therefore they are but
few for there are only thirteen in every town, one for every
temple; but when they go to war, seven of these go out with their
forces, and seven others are chosen to supply their room in their
absence; but these enter again upon their employment when they
return; and those who served in their absence attend upon the
high-priest, till vacancies fall by death; for there is one set
over all the rest. They are chosen by the people as the other
magistrates are, by suffrages given in secret, for preventing of
factions; and when they are chosen they are consecrated by the
College of Priests. The care of all sacred things, the worship of
God, and an inspection into the manners of the people, are
committed to them. It is a reproach to a man to be sent for by any
of them, or for them to speak to him in secret, for that always
gives some suspicion. All that is incumbent on them is only to
exhort and admonish the people; for the power of correcting and
punishing ill men belongs wholly to the Prince and to the other
magistrates. The severest thing that the priest does is the
excluding those that are desperately wicked from joining in their
worship. There is not any sort of punishment more dreaded by them
than this, for as it loads them with infamy, so it fills them with
secret horrors, such is their reverence to their religion; nor
will their bodies be long exempted from their share of trouble;
for if they do not very quickly satisfy the priests of the truth
of their repentance, they are seized on by the Senate, and
punished for their impiety. The education of youth belongs to the
priests, yet they do not take so much care of instructing them in
letters as in forming their minds and manners aright; they use all
possible methods to infuse very early into the tender and flexible
minds of children such opinions as are both good in themselves and
will be useful to their country. For when deep impressions of
these things are made at that age, they follow men through the
whole course of their lives, and conduce much to preserve the
peace of the government, which suffers by nothing more than by
vices that rise out of ill-opinions. The wives of their priests
are the most extraordinary women of the whole country; sometimes
the women themselves are made priests, though that falls out but
seldom, nor are any but ancient widows chosen into that order.

None of the magistrates has greater honor paid him than is paid
the priests; and if they should happen to commit any crime, they
would not be questioned for it. Their punishment is left to God,
and to their own consciences; for they do not think it lawful to
lay hands on any man, how wicked soever he is, that has been in a
peculiar manner dedicated to God; nor do they find any great
inconvenience in this, both because they have so few priests, and
because these are chosen with much caution, so that it must be a
very unusual thing to find one who merely out of regard to his
virtue, and for his being esteemed a singularly good man, was
raised up to so great a dignity, degenerate into corruption and
vice. And if such a thing should fall out, for man is a changeable
creature, yet there being few priests, and these having no
authority but what rises out of the respect that is paid them,
nothing of great consequence to the public can proceed from the
indemnity that the priests enjoy.

They have indeed very few of them, lest greater numbers sharing in
the same honor might make the dignity of that order which they
esteem so highly to sink in its reputation. They also think it
difficult to find out many of such an exalted pitch of goodness,
as to be equal to that dignity which demands the exercise of more
than ordinary virtues. Nor are the priests in greater veneration
among them than they are among their neighboring nations, as you
may imagine by that which I think gives occasion for it.

When the Utopians engage in battle, the priests who accompany them
to the war, apparelled in their sacred vestments, kneel down
during the action, in a place not far from the field; and lifting
up their hands to heaven, pray, first for peace, and then for
victory to their own side, and particularly that it may be gained
without the effusion of much blood on either side; and when the
victory turns to their side, they run in among their own men to
restrain their fury; and if any of their enemies see them, or call
to them, they are preserved by that means; and such as can come so
near them as to touch their garments, have not only their lives,
but their fortunes secured to them; it is upon this account that
all the nations round about consider them so much, and treat them
with such reverence, that they have been often no less able to
preserve their own people from the fury of their enemies, than to
save their enemies from their rage; for it has sometimes fallen
out, that when their armies have been in disorder, and forced to
fly, so that their enemies were running upon the slaughter and
spoil, the priests by interposing have separated them from one
another, and stopped the effusion of more blood; so that by their
mediation a peace has been concluded on very reasonable terms; nor
is there any nation about them so fierce, cruel, or barbarous as
not to look upon their persons as sacred and inviolable.

The first and the last day of the month, and of the year, is a
festival. They measure their months by the course of the moon, and
their years by the course of the sun. The first days are called in
their language the Cynemernes, and the last the Trapemernes; which
answers in our language to the festival that begins, or ends, the

They have magnificent temples, that are not only nobly built, but
extremely spacious; which is the more necessary, as they have so
few of them; they are a little dark within, which proceeds not
from any error in the architecture, but is done with design; for
their priests think that too much light dissipates the thoughts,
and that a more moderate degree of it both recollects the mind and
raises devotion. Though there are many different forms of religion
among them, yet all these, how various soever, agree in the main
point, which is the worshipping of the Divine Essence; and
therefore there is nothing to be seen or heard in their temples in
which the several persuasions among them may not agree; for every
sect performs those rites that are peculiar to it, in their
private houses, nor is there anything in the public worship that
contradicts the particular ways of those different sects. There
are no images for God in their temples, so that everyone may
represent Him to his thoughts, according to the way of his
religion; nor do they call this one God by any other name than
that of Mithras, which is the common name by which they all
express the Divine Essence, whatsoever otherwise they think it to
be; nor are there any prayers among them but such as every one of
them may use without prejudice to his own opinion.

They meet in their temples on the evening of the festival that
concludes a season: and not having yet broke their fast, they
thank God for their good success during that year or month, which
is then at an end; and the next day being that which begins the
new season, they meet early in their temples, to pray for the
happy progress of all their affairs during that period upon which
they then enter. In the festival which concludes the period,
before they go to the temple, both wives and children fall on
their knees before their husbands or parents, and confess
everything in which they have either erred or failed in their
duty, and beg pardon for it. Thus all little discontents in
families are removed, that they may offer up their devotions with
a pure and serene mind; for they hold it a great impiety to enter
upon them with disturbed thoughts, or with a consciousness of
their bearing hatred or anger in their hearts to any person
whatsoever; and think that they should become liable to severe
punishments if they presumed to offer sacrifices without cleansing
their hearts, and reconciling all their differences. In the
temples, the two sexes are separated, the men go to the right
hand, and the women to the left; and the males and females all
place themselves before the head and master or mistress of that
family to which they belong; so that those who have the government
of them at home may see their deportment in public; and they
intermingle them so, that the younger and the older may be set by
one another; for if the younger sort were all set together, they
would perhaps trifle away that time too much in which they ought
to beget in themselves that religious dread of the Supreme Being,
which is the greatest and almost the only incitement to virtue.

They offer up no living creature in sacrifice, nor do they think
it suitable to the Divine Being, from whose bounty it is that
these creatures have derived their lives, to take pleasure in
their deaths, or the offering up of their blood. They burn incense
and other sweet odors, and have a great number of wax lights
during their worship; not out of any imagination that such
oblations can add anything to the divine nature, which even
prayers cannot do; but as it is a harmless and pure way of
worshipping God, so they think those sweet savors and lights,
together with some other ceremonies, by a secret and unaccountable
virtue, elevate men's souls, and inflame them with greater energy
and cheerfulness during the divine worship.

All the people appear in the temples in white garments, but the
priest's vestments are parti-colored, and both the work and colors
are wonderful. They are made of no rich materials, for they are
neither embroidered nor set with precious stones, but are composed
of the plumes of several birds, laid together with so much art and
so neatly, that the true value of them is far beyond the costliest
materials. They say that in the ordering and placing those plumes
some dark mysteries are represented, which pass down among their
priests in a secret tradition concerning them; and that they are
as hieroglyphics, putting them in mind of the blessings that they
have received from God, and of their duties both to Him and to
their neighbors. As soon as the priest appears in those ornaments,
they all fall prostrate on the ground, with so much reverence and
so deep a silence that such as look on cannot but be struck with
it, as if it were the effect of the appearance of a deity. After
they have been for some time in this posture, they all stand up,
upon a sign given by the priest, and sing hymns to the honor of
God, some musical instruments playing all the while. These are
quite of another form than those used among us: but as many of
them are much sweeter than ours, so others are made use of by us.

Yet in one thing they very much exceed us; all their music, both
vocal and instrumental, is adapted to imitate and express the
passions, and is so happily suited to every occasion, that whether
the subject of the hymn be cheerful or formed to soothe or trouble
the mind, or to express grief or remorse, the music takes the
impression of whatever is represented, affects and kindles the
passions, and works the sentiments deep into the hearts of the
hearers. When this is done, both priests and people offer up very
solemn prayers to God in a set form of words; and these are so
composed, that whatsoever is pronounced by the whole assembly may
be likewise applied by every man in particular to his own
condition; in these they acknowledge God to be the author and
governor of the world, and the fountain of all the good they
receive, and therefore offer up to Him their thanksgiving; and in
particular bless Him for His goodness in ordering it so that they
are born under the happiest government in the world, and are of a
religion which they hope is the truest of all others: but if they
are mistaken, and if there is either a better government or a
religion more acceptable to God, they implore Him goodness to let
them know it, vowing that they resolve to follow Him whithersoever
He leads them. But if their government is the best and their
religion the truest, then they pray that He may fortify them in
it, and bring all the world both to the same rules of life, and to
the same opinions concerning Himself; unless, according to the
unsearchableness of His mind, He is pleased with a variety of
religions. Then they pray that God may give them an easy passage
at last to Himself; not presuming to set limits to Him, how early
or late it should be; but if it may be wished for, without
derogating from His supreme authority, they desire to be quickly
delivered, and to be taken to Himself, though by the most terrible
kind of death, rather than to be detained long from seeing Him by
the most prosperous course of life. When this prayer is ended,
they all fall down again upon the ground, and after a little while
they rise up, go home to dinner, and spend the rest of the day in
diversion or military exercises.

Thus have I described to you, as particularly as I could, the
constitution of that commonwealth, which I do not only think the
best in the world, but indeed the only commonwealth that truly
deserves that name. In all other places it is visible, that while
people talk of a commonwealth, every man only seeks his own
wealth; but there, where no man has any property, all men
zealously pursue the good of the public: and, indeed, it is no
wonder to see men act so differently; for in other commonwealths,
every man knows that unless he provides for himself, how
flourishing soever the commonwealth may be, he must die of hunger;
so that he sees the necessity of preferring his own concerns to
the public; but in Utopia, where every man has a right to
everything, they all know that if care is taken to keep the public
stores full, no private man can want anything; for among them
there is no unequal distribution, so that no man is poor, none in
necessity; and though no man has anything, yet they are all rich;
for what can make a man so rich as to lead a serene and cheerful
life, free from anxieties; neither apprehending want himself, nor
vexed with the endless complaints of his wife? He is not afraid of
the misery of his children, nor is he contriving how to raise a
portion for his daughters, but is secure in this, that both he and
his wife, his children and grandchildren, to as many generations
as he can fancy, will all live both plentifully and happily; since
among them there is no less care taken of those who were once
engaged in labor, but grow afterward unable to follow it, than
there is elsewhere of these that continue still employed.

I would gladly hear any man compare the justice that is among them
with that of all other nations; among whom, may I perish, if I see
anything that looks either like justice or equity: for what
justice is there in this, that a nobleman, a goldsmith, a banker,
or any other man, that either does nothing at all, or at best is
employed in things that are of no use to the public, should live
in great luxury and splendor, upon what is so ill acquired; and a
mean man, a carter, a smith, or a ploughman, that works harder
even than the beasts themselves, and is employed in labors so
necessary, that no commonwealth could hold out a year without
them, can only earn so poor a livelihood, and must lead so
miserable a life, that the condition of the beasts is much better
than theirs? For as the beasts do not work so constantly, so they
feed almost as well, and with more pleasure; and have no anxiety
about what is to come, whilst these men are depressed by a barren
and fruitless employment, and tormented with the apprehensions of
want in their old age; since that which they get by their daily
labor does but maintain them at present, and is consumed as fast
as it comes in, there is no overplus left to lay up for old age.

Is not that government both unjust and ungrateful, that is so
prodigal of its favors to those that are called gentlemen, or
goldsmiths, or such others who are idle, or live either by
flattery, or by contriving the arts of vain pleasure; and on the
other hand, takes no care of those of a meaner sort, such as
ploughmen, colliers, and smiths, without whom it could not
subsist? But after the public has reaped all the advantage of
their service, and they come to be oppressed with age, sickness,
and want, all their labors and the good they have done is
forgotten; and all the recompense given them is that they are left
to die in great misery. The richer sort are often endeavoring to
bring the hire of laborers lower, not only by their fraudulent
practices, but by the laws which they procure to be made to that
effect; so that though it is a thing most unjust in itself, to
give such small rewards to those who deserve so well of the
public, yet they have given those hardships the name and color of
justice, by procuring laws to be made for regulating them.

Therefore I must say that, as I hope for mercy, I can have no
other notion of all the other governments that I see or know, than
that they are a conspiracy of the rich, who on pretence of
managing the public only pursue their private ends, and devise all
the ways and arts they can find out; first, that they may, without
danger, preserve all that they have so ill acquired, and then that
they may engage the poor to toil and labor for them at as low
rates as possible, and oppress them as much as they please. And if
they can but prevail to get these contrivances established by the
show of public authority, which is considered as the
representative of the whole people, then they are accounted laws.
Yet these wicked men after they have, by a most insatiable
covetousness, divided that among themselves with which all the
rest might have been well supplied, are far from that happiness
that is enjoyed among the Utopians: for the use as well as the
desire of money being extinguished, much anxiety and great
occasions of mischief is cut off with it. And who does not see
that the frauds, thefts, robberies, quarrels, tumults,
contentions, seditions, murders, treacheries, and witchcrafts,
which are indeed rather punished than restrained by the severities
of law, would all fall off, if money were not any more valued by
the world? Men's fears, solicitudes, cares, labors, and watchings,
would all perish in the same moment with the value of money: even
poverty itself, for the relief of which money seems most
necessary, would fall. But, in order to the apprehending this
aright, take one instance.

Consider any year that has been so unfruitful that many thousands
have died of hunger; and yet if at the end of that year a survey
was made of the granaries of all the rich men that have hoarded up
the corn, it would be found that there was enough among them to
have prevented all that consumption of men that perished in
misery; and that if it had been distributed among them, none would
have felt the terrible effects of that scarcity; so easy a thing
would it be to supply all the necessities of life, if that blessed
thing called money, which is pretended to be invented for
procuring them, was not really the only thing that obstructed
their being procured!

I do not doubt but rich men are sensible of this, and that they
well know how much a greater happiness it is to want nothing
necessary than to abound in many superfluities, and to be rescued
out of so much misery than to abound with so much wealth; and I
cannot think but the sense of every man's interest, added to the
authority of Christ's commands, who as He was infinitely wise,
knew what was best, and was not less good in discovering it to us,
would have drawn all the world over to the laws of the Utopians,
if pride, that plague of human nature, that source of so much
misery, did not hinder it; for this vice does not measure
happiness so much by its own conveniences as by the miseries of
others; and would not be satisfied with being thought a goddess,
if none were left that were miserable, over whom she might insult.
Pride thinks its own happiness shines the brighter by comparing it
with the misfortunes of other persons; that by displaying its own
wealth, they may feel their poverty the more sensibly. This is
that infernal serpent that creeps into the breasts of mortals, and
possesses them too much to be easily drawn out; and therefore I am
glad that the Utopians have fallen upon this form of government,
in which I wish that all the world could be so wise as to imitate
them; for they have indeed laid down such a scheme and foundation
of policy, that as men live happily under it, so it is like to be
of great continuance; for they having rooted out of the minds of
their people all the seeds both of ambition and faction, there is
no danger of any commotion at home; which alone has been the ruin
of many States that seemed otherwise to be well secured; but as
long as they live in peace at home, and are governed by such good
laws, the envy of all their neighboring princes, who have often
though in vain attempted their ruin, will never be able to put
their State into any commotion or disorder.

When Raphael had thus made an end of speaking, though many things
occurred to me, both concerning the manners and laws of that
people, that seemed very absurd, as well in their way of making
war, as in their notions of religion and divine matters; together
with several other particulars, but chiefly what seemed the
foundation of all the rest, their living in common, without the
use of money, by which all nobility, magnificence, splendor, and
majesty, which, according to the common opinion, are the true
ornaments of a nation, would be quite taken away;--yet since I
perceived that Raphael was weary, and was not sure whether he
could easily bear contradiction, remembering that he had taken
notice of some who seemed to think they were bound in honor to
support the credit of their own wisdom, by finding out something
to censure in all other men's inventions, besides their own; I
only commended their constitution, and the account he had given of
it in general; and so taking him by the hand, carried him to
supper, and told him I would find out some other time for
examining this subject more particularly, and for discoursing more
copiously upon it; and indeed I shall be glad to embrace an
opportunity of doing it. In the meanwhile, though it must be
confessed that he is both a very learned man, and a person who has
obtained a great knowledge of the world, I cannot perfectly agree
to everything he has related; however, there are many things in
the Commonwealth of Utopia that I rather wish, than hope, to see
followed in our governments.