Utopia was an ideal commonwealth where perfect justice and social harmony existed, controlled solely by reason. The name implied the unattainable, a dream world in which communism (in its purest apolitical form) was the cure for the predominating evils in public and private life. Gold was valueless (that was what the chamberpots were made of), and gems (diamonds and rubies) were used by children as toys. (Perhaps that is why Lord Macaulay once said, «An acre in Middlesex is better than a principality in Utopia».)
This beautiful dream was the gem of Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), an English statesman and author whose title for his two-volume book, written in 1516, was a coinage, Utopia. The term, a composite of Greek ou («no») and topos, («place»), means nowhere, an apt title because the subject of the book is a nonexistent island.
More, whose head was placed on the chopping block because he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy in favor of King Henry VIII, was supposedly as idealistic in the conduct of his own life as in the life he pictured on the imaginary island of Utopia. He was incorruptible. When someone tried to bribe him with a glove stuffed with gold, he returned the money, saying he preferred unlined gloves. On another occasion, when proffered a valuable goblet, his lordship immediately filled it with wine, drank to the briber’s health, and then returned the empty vessel.