MY LAST WRITING IN THIS BOOK
The 1st day of May, 1516.
 AS I draw near to the end of my life—and indeed my years have already approached that which the Psalmist hath
laid down as the further limit of the days of man—some things that were before dark to me become clear, and
some that I thought much to be desired appear no longer to be wished; and some for which I had scarce dared to
hope, or of which I had not so much as thought, have come to pass beyond all expectation.
It is now more than fifty years since, being entertained at the Priory of Worcester and seeing how the brethren
dwelt in great peace and content, I conceived the desire of being a monk. And though when this desire was
fulfilled I found the life to fall somewhat short of
 my hope, yet it was no small trouble to me when I was constrained to leave it for another. But now the matter
is otherwise with me, so that I rather am thankful that I have been led away from that very place wherein I
most desired to stay. And this thankfulness I first felt some twenty-and-five years since when, by the
commandment of the Holy Father himself, Pope Innocent VIII. Dr. Morton, being then Archbishop of Canterbury,
made a visitation of the House of St. Alban, of which visitation I wrote nothing at the time in this book,
being neither willing to believe nor able to deny the things which the said archbishop laid to the charge of
them that aforetime were my brethren, but of which I will now set down so much, to wit: that some things were
magnified beyond the truth to the end that the King, who looked rather to the increasing of his treasure than
to the encouragement of good living, might with the more reason exact a fine from the wrong-doers, but that the
truth itself was such as no Christian man could hear without shame; that there had been much sinful and riotous
living and very grievous breaking of vows; and that there
 had been wasting of the revenues of the house; cutting down of timber beyond custom, so that whole woods had
vanished away and selling of jewels and cups, nay of the very offerings from the shrine of St. Alban himself.
And I do hear from those that are not like to speak falsely in such matters, that though there be houses in
which all things are done decently and in order, yet there are others, and these especially of the smaller
sort, in which such like abuses do flourish to this very day. Moreover I can see for myself—for I do hear it
not unfrequently in the common talk of men—that this realm of England is growing somewhat weary of monks and
their ways, and this the more now that their chief office of promoting learning and letters hath passed, it
would seem, into other hands. And of this I heard but just now a most notable confirmation. For being at the
house of the Worshipful Sir John More, of whom I will write more presently, the talk fell upon my lord of
Winchester, than whom there is not in this realm of England a more notable scholar and patron of learning. The
said Bishop was minded to found a college for a
 warden and certain monks and scholars that should belong to the Priory of St. Swithin in Winchester; and indeed
had already begun to build the same when he chanced to talk with my lord Bishop of Exeter on the matter.
Whereupon saith my lord of Exeter, "Nay, my lord, shall we build houses and provide livelihoods for a swarm of
buzzing monks, who have already more than they are like to hold, and whose end and fall we ourselves may live
to see?" Whereupon the said Bishop hath changed his counsel, and will set up another college at Oxford, whereof
much, I hear, is already finished, so that it shall in all likelihood be opened this same year.
And now to speak of a certain thing of which I have thought many times since the days of my youth, and which I
have now in my old age been suffered by the grace of God to see with mine eyes.
This Sir John More, of whom I have written above, hath a house of which the name is Gobions, or, as some of the
country-folk call it, More Place (for it hath been the inheritance of the Mores for sundry generations). He is
 old man, having indeed been born in the same year with myself, and hath been for many years one of the King's
judges. I have had acquaintance with him for these many years, the said acquaintance beginning, if my memory
serveth me, in the year 1489, and on this occasion. In this year the plague was in London, and Sir John dwelt
longer than was his common use at his house of Gobions, to which he for the most part resorted only after that
the courts had risen. Now he had a son, Thomas by name, that had then eleven years of age, and was a scholar in
a school of some note in London, to wit, St. Antony's in Threadneedle Street, where he had made notable
progress in learning. It disturbed him much that his son should endure such interruption to his studies, the
lad himself being, I do verily believe, not the less vexed thereat. Seeking thus for some one who should give
the boy instruction, that the time might not be altogether wasted, there was brought him a report of me, who
did then teach the rudiments of polite learning to such as were willing to learn, and indeed continued so to do
so long as my
 strength permitted. So for the space of three months or thereabouts the lad came daily to me, riding on a
little horse which his father had given him, and would not be hindered by any rain, howsoever great; and if his
mother, being careful of his health, after the manner of women, was like to hinder him for cause of the
weather, he would escape out of the house by stealth. He had marvellous parts, such as I never saw in any other
whom I taught, and for jests there was no one that could match him. Nor did I give him such instruction that
year only, but also afterwards, till indeed he had passed beyond my poor powers of teaching. This Thomas More
has risen to a high place in the state, and is like to rise to yet higher. For when he was but twenty-four
years of age he was a burgess of the Commons' House, in which place he showed a notable freedom, not altogether
to the liking of them that were in power. And of late years he has been in high repute as an advocate, in which
profession he has had such returns of money for his labours as have scarce been known before in this country,
that is to say, more than three hundred and fifty
 pounds by the year. And even now he hath been sent by the King's Majesty on an embassage to Flanders, from
which office he hath returned with much credit and success. But for all his honours, to me he hath shown not
kindness only but reverence, forgetting not that I taught him in old time, and ordering himself to me as doth a
scholar to his master.
Some days ago being called to dinner at Sir John More's house (whither I was conveyed in a carriage, as his
custom with me is), I found, besides two or three others, gentlemen of these parts, or whom Francis Goodere was
one, Master Thomas More, and with him a right worthy and learned divine of whom I have heard many speak, and
that with much praise, for these twenty years past, yet have never chanced to see; that is to say, Master
Colet, the Dean of St. Paul's Church in London. There be some, I know, that fear him, thinking that he goeth
overmuch after novelties and forsaketh the soundness of the faith. And indeed I have heard that my lord of
London would gladly have deposed him from his dignity, yea, and have brought him into judgment for heresy, but
 that the King's Majesty bare him harmless. 'Tis certain that he is a lover of the new learning, for the better
promoting of which he hath newly founded a grammar school in London; and he hath so far departed from the old
way, that he hath studied the Greek tongue; yea, and did lecture at Oxford on the Epistles of St. Paul, as so
written. (Methinks that they who do rail at Greek forget in marvellous fashion that the words of Christ and His
Apostles are written down for our edification in that tongue.) I noted that he gave me but a passing regard, as
though it were enough to have seen my monk's habit (for he is no lover of monks). Then saith Master Thomas
More, "I would have you acquainted, Master Dean, with Sir Thomas Aylmer, chantry priest of Barnet," which he
did of mischief, knowing that Master Colet, if he loveth monks but little, loveth chantry priests yet less.
Then when he had greeted me—not discourteously indeed, for this it is not in the nature of the man to do, but
as one that seeketh not further acquaintance proceedeth Master More, "and is learned also in the Greek tongue;"
at which I saw Master
 Dean regard me with no little amazement. But before he could speak Master More saith further, "I do hope that
my father will not turn him from his house as one that hath about him a dangerous commodity. Say, father, didst
thou not cut short my sojourn in Oxford, fearing that I should learn overmuch Greek, and so fall into dangerous
heresies?" Then the old man laughed and said, "'Twas even so; but I am wiser now, having grown to years of
discretion, for then I was but a youth of three-score or so." After this Master Colet and I had much talk
together, and I told him how I had gained some knowledge of the Greek tongue, with which relation he was
mightily pleased. And he would have me sit by him at dinner, desiring, it would seem, to make amends if
perchance I had thought him wanting in courtesy.
After dinner Master Thomas discoursed in wittier fashion than ever before I heard from the lips of man on a
certain book which he hath it in his mind to write. 'Tis of the ensample of a State, and he will call it by the
title of Utopia, which may be interpreted "Nowhere." I cannot
 call to mind a tenth part of the things that he told us, but I do remember that he said that these said
Utopians have it for a fixed rule that they will make no treaties with other nations, as having learnt that
there is nothing in this world that can so easily be broken; and that those who rule this commonwealth have
ordered it in such wise as never commonwealth was ordered upon earth, for every man's house has a fair garden
to it, and their watercourses such that none lack of clean water as much as they need; and that there are
hospitals where all sick folk may be healed, none being in danger of infection from another, and common halls
where the citizens make good cheer together with all sobriety; and that every child, from the highest to the
lowest, is taught even as though he were to follow the calling of a lawyer or a priest.
When he had finished his discourse he opened the door of the chamber and rang upon a bell that was hard by.
Thereupon came a serving-man carrying something wrapped in a cover of black silk. This Master Thomas More
taking in his hand gave to the Dean,
 saying, "There is no man in this realm of England that deserveth better to have the first handling of this
treasure than thou. Take it, then, as my gift; and I doubt not, that though thou hast long looked for its
appearing, 'twill even now be somewhat of a surprise."
Then Master Dean openeth the cover, and lo! beneath it a book, of a folio size, somewhat thin. And he read
aloud the title page, which, being in Latin, I shall here set down in English.
"THE NEW TESTAMENT OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST,
Brought forth under the care of Desiderius Erasmus."
When he had read this we all sat silent for a space. Then said Master Colet: "What if some learned man should
render this book, wherein are the very words of Christ and His Apostles, into our English tongue; and this
dream also of thine, Master More, come true, and every child shall learn to read it!"
But Master More shook his head as one that doubted. "Thou rememberest that there are
 therein many things hard to understand, which the unlearned wrest to their own destruction."
"Yea, but it was of the unlearned that the gospel was first preached and first received," answered Master
As for me, I held my peace. But I do not doubt in my heart that Master Colet's words shall come true. For what
end can there be to the multiplying of books by this new art of printing? And what book should be multiplied
rather than this? And if books be multiplied what shall hinder the people from reading? And as for the
rendering of the book into English it hath been done already, though not from the original tongue, by Baeda,
surnamed the Venerable, and by others; and that it shall be done wholly and from the original itself, as indeed
is fitting, I am assured. And though I live not to see this, for I am old, and there are yet many who are of
Master More's way of thinking, yet now I rejoice to have looked upon this book. It is well that the printer
take the place of the scribe, if he can give such a gift to Christian men. And here I end my writing in this