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 Raphael says:
"There is another cause of stealing which I suppose is proper and peculiar to you Englishmen alone."
"What is that?" asked the Cardinal.
"Oh, my 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?"
The disastrous 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 days.)
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.
Thomas More's "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.