A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Beginnings Of Civilization
The Round Table soon heard of the challenge, and of course it was a good deal discussed,
for such things interested the boys. The king thought I ought now to set forth in quest of
adventures, so that I might gain renown and be the more worthy to meet Sir Sagramor
when the several years should have rolled away. I excused myself for the present; I said it
would take me three or four years yet to get things well fixed up and going smoothly;
then I should be ready; all the chances were that at the end of that time Sir Sagramor
would still be out grailing, so no valuable time would be lost by the postponement; I
should then have been in office six or seven years, and I believed my system and
machinery would be so well developed that I could take a holiday without its working
I was pretty well satisfied with what I had already accomplished. In various quiet nooks
and corners I had the beginnings of all sorts of industries under way--nuclei of future vast
factories, the iron and steel missionaries of my future civilization. In these were gathered
together the brightest young minds I could find, and I kept agents out raking the country
for more, all the time. I was training a crowd of ignorant folk into experts--experts in
every sort of handiwork and scientific calling. These nurseries of mine went smoothly
and privately along undisturbed in their obscure country retreats, for nobody was allowed
to come into their precincts without a special permit--for I was afraid of the Church.
I had started a teacher-factory and a lot of Sunday-schools the first thing; as a result, I
now had an admirable system of graded schools in full blast in those places, and also a
complete variety of Protestant congregations all in a prosperous and growing condition.
Everybody could be any kind of a Christian he wanted to; there was perfect freedom in
that matter. But I confined public religious teaching to the churches and the Sunday-
schools, permitting nothing of it in my other educational buildings. I could have given my
own sect the preference and made everybody a Presbyterian without any trouble, but that
would have been to affront a law of human nature: spiritual wants and instincts are as
various in the human family as are physical appetites, complexions, and features, and a
man is only at his best, morally, when he is equipped with the religious garment whose
color and shape and size most nicely accommodate themselves to the spiritual
complexion, angularities, and stature of the individual who wears it; and, besides, I was
afraid of a united Church; it makes a mighty power, the mightiest conceivable, and then
when it by and by gets into selfish hands, as it is always bound to do, it means death to
human liberty and paralysis to human thought.
All mines were royal property, and there were a good many of them. They had formerly
been worked as savages always work mines--holes grubbed in the earth and the mineral
brought up in sacks of hide by hand, at the rate of a ton a day; but I had begun to put the
mining on a scientific basis as early as I could.
Yes, I had made pretty handsome progress when Sir Sagramor's challenge struck me.