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lost more by abolishing that vesper bell, than you have gained by rejecting the creature-worship wherewith the observance was connected.
MONTESINOS. · Far be it from me to deny that in the Reformation the plough and the harrow were sometimes used, where careful weeding only was wanted. Yet if it be your intention to prove that the influence of religion is less in the reformed countries than in those where the corruptions of Popery maintain their ground, or that the people are less moral when left to the tribunal of their consciences, than when under the dominion of the confessional, your arguments must indeed be cogent before they persuade me that you are really serious.
SIR THOMAS MORE. In spite of the Confessional and of the Casuists, and of the abominations which they generate, what I affirm is true, that the standard both of devotion and of morals is higher in the Romish than in the Protestant countries. Proof of this appears in the existence of a class of men, recognized by the laws, and respected by public opinion, who profess to make preparation for the next world their sole business in this, and voluntarily to lead a life of poverty and privations for that purpose. The principle may be carried to an extravagant and pitiable excess; the practice may be converted into a cover for ambition, or for meaner passions;..I allow even that while the errors and abuses with which these orders are connected, remain in force, the direct evil which arises from them is greater than the good. But the indirect good must not be undervalued: for while the principle is thus publicly and practically recognized, Mammon can never acquire that undisputed and acknowledged supremacy which he seems to have obtained in commercial countries, and in no country more decidedly than in this. The spirit which built and endowed monasteries is gone. Are you one of those persons who think it has been superseded for the better by that which erects steam-engines and cotton mills ?
MONTESINOS. They are indeed miserable politicians who mistake wealth for welfare in their estimate of national prosperity; and none have committed this great error more egregiously than some of those who have been called statesmen by the courtesy of England. Yet the manufacturing system is a necessary stage in the progress of society. Without it this nation could not have supported the long and tremendous conflict which has delivered Europe from the yoke of military despotism,..the worst of all evils. If England had not been enabled by the use of steam-engines to send out every year myriads of brave men, and millions of specie,..what had Europe, and what had England itself been now? This inestimable benefit we have seen and felt. And from the consequences of that skill in machinery which the manufacturing system alone could have produced, we may expect ultimately to obtain the greatest advantages of science and civilization at the least expense of human labour.
SIR THOMAS MORE. Sir Poet, travel not so hastily in your speculations! There is a wide gulph between you and that point, and it is not to be crost by one of these flying leaps in seven-leagued boots. Neither are you to expect that, when you reach the brink, a bridge will grow before your way as it did upon Kehama's triumphal entrance into Padalon.... If you ask me how I became acquainted with the adventures of that personage, I will tell you that I amuse myself sometimes in the Limbo where are to be found
« all things vain, Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mix'd.”
MONTESINOS. · What a happiness is in store for the collectors
when they get there!..True it is that a long time must elapse before we double the Cape of Good Hope for which we are bound, and that the navigation thither is unknown, for we are sailing in a sea of which there are no charts to direct our course.
SIR THOMAS MORE. · Why then do you give the name of Good Hope to a point which may deserve to be called the Cape of Storms?
MONTESINOS. Not in the expectation that we shall reach it by carrying easy sail all the way with a tradewind; but in the belief that good principles will more and more prevail, and that, when their ascendancy is complete, it will then be seen how all things have been ordered for the best : and the benefit will remain after all the evils of the process shall have past away.
SIR THOMAS MORE. Is it not rather the tendency of evil to generate evil ? Famine is produced by war, and pestilence by famine. There are countries in which, their prosperity having been destroyed by violence and tyranny, or by long misrule, agriculture is ruined, and earth being neglected infects the air, and brings forth disease and death. In the moral, as in the physical world, thus also evil produces evil.
SIR THOMAS MORE. A punishment assuredly,..the bitter fruit of error and of sin: but where is the people that hath ever yet been warned by it? This very manufacturing system, which you regard as introductory to your Utopian era, proves that England has taken no warning.
MONTESINOS. Where should it be found ? for in this case history affords no lessons. It contains no parallel to the present condition of Europe, and more especially of these kingdoms.
SIR THOMAS MORE. Let us see if there be not some principles, which, if kept steadily in view, might serve as a cynosure to direct you in this unknown navigation. You have lived long enough in the world to know something, both by experience and observation, of the course of human affairs. Setting aside the chances, as they are called, of health and fortune, did you ever know any one fail of happiness, except through some indiscretion or error of his own?
MONTESINOS. The exceptions are large, and a heavy drawback must be allowed for them. But taking