Utopia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about Utopia.
which a garrison is kept; the other rocks lie under water, and are very dangerous.  The channel is known only to the natives; so that if any stranger should enter into the bay without one of their pilots he would run great danger of shipwreck.  For even they themselves could not pass it safe if some marks that are on the coast did not direct their way; and if these should be but a little shifted, any fleet that might come against them, how great soever it were, would be certainly lost.  On the other side of the island there are likewise many harbours; and the coast is so fortified, both by nature and art, that a small number of men can hinder the descent of a great army.  But they report (and there remains good marks of it to make it credible) that this was no island at first, but a part of the continent.  Utopus, that conquered it (whose name it still carries, for Abraxa was its first name), brought the rude and uncivilised inhabitants into such a good government, and to that measure of politeness, that they now far excel all the rest of mankind.  Having soon subdued them, he designed to separate them from the continent, and to bring the sea quite round them.  To accomplish this he ordered a deep channel to be dug, fifteen miles long; and that the natives might not think he treated them like slaves, he not only forced the inhabitants, but also his own soldiers, to labour in carrying it on.  As he set a vast number of men to work, he, beyond all men’s expectations, brought it to a speedy conclusion.  And his neighbours, who at first laughed at the folly of the undertaking, no sooner saw it brought to perfection than they were struck with admiration and terror.

“There are fifty-four cities in the island, all large and well built, the manners, customs, and laws of which are the same, and they are all contrived as near in the same manner as the ground on which they stand will allow.  The nearest lie at least twenty-four miles’ distance from one another, and the most remote are not so far distant but that a man can go on foot in one day from it to that which lies next it.  Every city sends three of their wisest senators once a year to Amaurot, to consult about their common concerns; for that is the chief town of the island, being situated near the centre of it, so that it is the most convenient place for their assemblies.  The jurisdiction of every city extends at least twenty miles, and, where the towns lie wider, they have much more ground.  No town desires to enlarge its bounds, for the people consider themselves rather as tenants than landlords.  They have built, over all the country, farmhouses for husbandmen, which are well contrived, and furnished with all things necessary for country labour.  Inhabitants are sent, by turns, from the cities to dwell in them; no country family has fewer than forty men and women in it, besides two slaves.  There is a master and a mistress set over every family, and over thirty families there is a magistrate.  Every year twenty

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Utopia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.