Jonathan Swift - Gulliver's Travels (1726—1727)
Travels into Several Remote Natlons of the World, by Lemuel Gulliver, was written by Swift while he was Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin, in his so-called "exile" to Ireland which began with the accession of George I and the downfall of Swift's party, the Tories, in 1714. In this year Swift had founded in London the Scriblerus Club, of which Pope, Arbuthnot, Bolingbroke, and Gay were members. Their object was to collaborate in a satire of literary incompetence written. in the form of memoirs of a pedant. Arbuthnot asked Swift to work upon it in his retirement. But the Dean's literary cynicism broadened with years into a misanthropy that embraced the whole human race, and his book deepened into the same complexion. Little by little he wrote it, until the whole was completed in 1726, when, on a visit to England, Swift published Part One; the rest appeared in 1727. The authorship was carefully concealed, yet it was recognized by everyone. It was "so new and so strange," said Dr. Samuel Johnson, "that it filled the reader with a mingled emotion of merriment and amazement. It was read by the high and the low, the learned and the illiterate." The fame of the book passed to the Continent, and it was translated into French at the suggestion of Voltaire. Swift made no secret of his motive. He wrote Gulliver, he said in a letter to Pope, "to vex the world rather than to divert it." He "hated and detested that animal called man." "I love only individuals," he confessed. "No word," says Sir Walter Scott, "drops from Gulliver's pen in vain. Where his work ceases for a moment to satirize the vices of mankind in general it becomes a stricture upon the parties, politics, and courts of Britain; or presents a lively picture of the vices and follies of the fashionable world, or of the vain pursuits of philosophy; while the traveler's own adventures form a humorous and striking parody of the manners of old voyagers, their dry and minute style, and the unimportant personal incidents with which their journals are encumbered." Swift was greatly pleased to hear that some readers accepted the story as true. Arbuthnot had an acquaintance who sought for Lilliput on the map. A shipmaster declared that he knew Gulliver well. But the Dean was most delighted when he heard of an Irish bishop who thought the book full of lies, in fact, "hardly believed a word of it."
A VOYAGE TO LILLIPUT
FROM my youth I was bent upon becoming a sailor, in order to visit strange lands and peoples. Accordingly I applied myself to the study of navigation and the languages, wherein I made great progress, owing to my native ingenuity and excellent memory. I also studied physic, knowing it would be useful in long voyages.
In May, 1699, I accepted an offer from Captain Prichard, of the Antelope, to go with him as surgeon on a voyage to the South Seas. The venture was prosperous, and we were returning with full cargo in November, when a violent storm drove us to the northwest of Van Diemen's Land, where our vessel split upon a rock. What became of my companions I know not. I saved myself by swimming, for I had great endurance. Both wind and tide drove me a considerable distance, until I came in sight of a low-lying, seemingly desolate shore. Then the storm subsided. I was, however, too spent to swim the remaining distance to land. Letting my legs drop from exhaustion, I found myself within my depth. I waded ashore and dropped in deep slumber upon a little plot of remarkably short, soft, and delicate grass.
When I awoke and attempted to rise I found that my legs and arms were bound to the ground, even my hair, which I wore long, being fastened in the same manner. I could look only up-ward, and saw nothing but the sky. I heard a confused noise all about me. In a little while I felt something alive moving along my left leg and advancing gently over my breast to my chin. Bending my eyes downward, I perceived it to be a miniature archer, not six inches high. I felt what I took to be forty of his kind streaming behind him. I roared so loud in astonishment that they ran back whence they came, some laming themselves by leaping from my sides to the ground, as I learned afterward.
I struggled to arise and finally tore my left arm from its fastenings. As I raised the hand to unbind my head I felt it sharply stung by many pricks. At the same time a flight of tiny arrows fell upon my face from the air, paining me severely. Protecting my face with my hand from further assault, I had the wisdom to lie quiet and suppress my groans so far as possible, for the pain was most severe. Each prick had drawn blood, and the thought came to me that in their fear my captors might resort to poisoned arrows.
Soon I heard a knocking near my left ear, like that of carpenters at work. This continued more than an hour, when the top of a stage rose within my depressed vision. The strings that bound the hair upon my left were then loosed, permitting me to turn my head to view the structure. I beheld a manikin mount the stage by a ladder, and he addressed me in an oration of which I understood never a word, yet in which I could discern many periods of threatenings, and others of promises, pity, and kindness. Indeed, he acted every part of an orator.
I lifted my eyes and my free hand to the sun, as if to call him for a witness to my submission, and then pointed to my mouth to indicate that I wanted food.
My signs were understood, and soon afterward a train of servants mounted my sides and deposited many baskets on my chest, containing quarters of meat smaller than larks' wings, and loaves of bread about the size of musket-bullets. I dropped the quarters and loaves into my mouth, three and four at a time, whereat I heard a buzz of astonishment from the spectators, who by this time had greatly increased in number.
I then pursed my lips, and drew in my breath to indicate that I was thirsty. Thereupon they slung up one of their largest hogsheads of wine, and, setting it on end, beat out the top. I drank it off at a draught, for it did not hold half a pint. It tasted like a small wine of Burgundy, but was much more delicious. They brought me a second hogshead, which I drank in the same manner, and made signs for more; but they had none at hand to give me. They made signs, however, that I should throw the barrels down to be refilled. The crowd retired out of harm's way, and I tossed the empty hogsheads. in the air, whereat there was a universal shout of "Hekinah degul!"
In a little while a personage in robes of state, followed by a retinue, came walking over my body up to my face. He presented credentials, signed with the imperial signet, close to my eyes, and pointed with his hand to indicate that I must be conveyed to the Emperor at the capital city. I gave tokens that they might do with me as they pleased.
Soon afterward a number of servants came and applied to the wounds on my hand and face an ointment that removed the smart, and at the same time all the cords on my left side were relaxed, enabling me to turn upon my right side. In a few moments I fell into a deep sleep, induced, I afterward learned, by a drug in the wine.
While I was unconscious a great engine was brought, such as they use to convey their men-of-war from the forest where they are constructed to the sea, and I was hoisted thereon by a score of derricks, directed by as many engineers and operated by nine hundred workmen. Fifteen hundred of the Emperor's largest horses, each about a hand high, were employed to draw me to the metropolis, which was distant about half a mile, or a day's journey.
Here I was lodged in an ancient temple, which had been polluted by an unnatural murder, and therefore was devoted to profane uses. Its dimensions just sufficed for me to lie at length within it. My left leg was fastened to the temple by a cable about two yards long, composed of fourscore and eleven chains, each as large as a European lady's watch-chain. It gave me about as much liberty as an English watch-dog is permitted in and around his kennel.
When I found myself on my feet I looked out toward my right over the country. It appeared like a continued garden of flower-beds, each about forty feet square, interspersed with woods, the tallest trees in which were about seven feet high. The town on my left looked like the painted scenes of a city in a theater.
The Emperor and his court paid me a visit that afternoon. He was a man of spirit, as was indicated by his management of his horse, which reared and plunged in fear at the animated mountain that rose before him. The ladies and courtiers were magnificently clad, so that the spot they stood upon resembled a cloth of embroidered gold and silver.
After the court had departed the rabble pressed around me. As I sat myself down on the ground six of them let fly with arrows, one of which narrowly missed my left eye. The captain of my guard, however, arrested the offenders, bound them and turned them over to me for punishment. I put five in my pocket, and made a countenance as if I would eat the sixth alive, at the same time opening my penknife. The poor man squalled terribly, and the crowd and guard were aghast, but I relieved all alarm by cutting the bonds of the fellow and setting him gently on the ground. Away he ran, and I released the other prisoners in similar fashion. This clemency made me a popular hero and secured me the favor of the Emperor and his court.
Sleeping within the temple was very uncomfortable, so I was greatly pleased when the Emperor ordered a mattress to be made for me of six hundred of their beds, and sheets and cover-lets by the same computation. Every day six beeves and forty sheep, with a proportionable quantity of bread and wine, were delivered to me, to be prepared and served by six hundred servants.
The six greatest scholars of the empire were assigned to instruct me in the language of the country, and in three weeks I was able to converse with the Emperor. He informed me that the laws of the land required me to be searched; to this I agreed. His officers went through my pockets by my assistance, and made an inventory of my possessions, to wit:
INVENTORY OF POSSESSIONS OF QUINBUS FLESTRIN (MAN-MOUNTAIN)
(1.) One great piece of coarse white cloth, large as the carpet of your Majesty's room of state.
(2.) A huge silver chest filled with coarse, pungent dust, which set us all a-sneezing.
(3.) A comb of prodigious teeth.
(4.) A hollow pillar of iron with movable iron attachments, all mounted on a huge piece of timber.
(5.) A fisherman's net made in the form of a bag with clasp, containing nine circular disks of gold and ten of silver. They represent an enormous and incalculable value.
(6.) Two great folding knives, with one of which Quinbus Flestrin slices off his growing beard, and with the other cuts his meat.
(7.) A great silver chain, attached to a wonderful spheroidal engine, composed half of silver and half of a transparent substance, behind which may be seen two rods radiating from a common center and moving at different speeds. These rods point in their circuit to twelve differing signs situated at regular intervals near the circumference. The engine makes an incessant noise like a water-mill, and probably contains the god of Quinbus Flestrin, for he calls it his oracle and says it points out the time for his every action.
(8.) A girdle made of the hide of an enormous animal. To this is hung a scabbard containing a sword of the length of five men.
(9.) A huge bag, also of hide, with two cells; one containing twenty-one heavy metal balls each the size of a man's head, and one many small lumps of charcoal impregnated with unknown substances.
I explained to his Majesty as well as I could by signs the use of all these implements. I loaded the pistol, for my ammunition-pouch had been so tightly tied that the sea-water had not wet the gunpowder, and fired it in the air. All present but the Emperor fell flat on the ground at the report, and even his Majesty did not recover himself for some time.
I reserved in a secret pocket a pair of spectacles, a small spy-glass, and some other personal conveniences, which, being of no consequence to anyone but myself, I did not feel bound in honor to discover.
I represented to his Majesty that my assent to this disarmament indicated that I was peaceably inclined, and I asked for my enlargement, which he graciously granted, the more readily because he required my services in an attack that he contemplated upon a neighboring kingdom.
Lilliput, for this I discovered was the name of the country to which I had come, was on a continent, separated from which by a strait was the island of Blefuscu. These two kingdoms had been at war for six and thirty moons past. It began over the question of the proper mode of eating boiled eggs. The grandfather of the present Emperor of Lilliput, when a boy, cut his fingers in breaking an egg upon the larger end, according to the ancient custom of the kingdom. His imperial father there-fore commanded that in eating eggs the little end should be broken. The people so highly resented this law that six rebellions ensued, wherein one Emperor lost his life and another his crown. Eleven thousand persons in all suffered death rather than submit to break their eggs at the smaller end. These civil commotions were fomented by the monarchs of Blefuscu, whither the exiles of the Big-endian party were wont to flee. These monarchs accused the reigning house of Lilliput of of-fending against a fundamental doctrine of the great prophet Lustrog, as set forth in the fifty-fourth chapter of the Blundecral, the sacred book of both kingdoms, which says that all true believers break their eggs "at the more convenient end." The Little-endians, however, contended that the construction of the term "convenient" lay with the chief magistrate.
Blefuscu, I was informed, had prepared a great armada to descend upon the shores of Lilliput and dethrone its Emperor. As his humble vassal I promised to protect his person and state against the invaders.
Going to the coast lying over against Blefuscu, I took out my spy-glass, and descried the enemy's fleet of about fifty men-of-war and transports lying at harbor in its chief seaport. I had as many cables made of rope, each fastened to a heavy iron hook. Taking these and a box of the healing ointment, and putting on my spectacles and leathern jerkin for protection against arrows, I waded out into the strait. It was high tide, and for about thirty yards in the middle the water was over my head and I was compelled to swim.
My arrival in the harbor created the greatest consternation among the Blefuscuans. They manned their vessels with archers, who sent a hail of arrows from the tops against my face. My spectacles, however, protected my eyes, and I bore the smart of my skin wounds with equanimity, knowing that I could relieve them at my leisure with the ointment.
I cut the cables of the vessels and then fastened to each a hook and line. Gathering the ends of the lines, I threw them over my shoulder and waded back toward Lilliput, drawing the entire fleet after me. Arrived at the middle of the strait, I waited an hour for low tide, when I waded through the mid-channel in water to my neck.
At this point the fleet, but not my head, became visible to the Lilliputians. Seeing the vessels moving forward in a crescent, they surmised that I had been slain and that the armada was approaching in regular line of battle, whereat they were thrown into great confusion. I relieved their fears, however, by raising my hand and shouting: "Long live the most puissant Emperor of Lilliput, ruler of the waves!"
This great Prince received me at my landing with all possible encomiums, and created me a nardac, which is the highest title in Lilliput.
But so immeasurable is the ambition of princes that his Majesty was not satisfied with my victory, and desired me to assist him in reducing Blefuscu to a subject province. This I refused, saying that I would never be an instrument of bringing a free and brave people into slavery. Accordingly I fell into his disfavor, seeing which, certain subservient courtiers preferred articles of impeachment against me, with the result that it was decreed that my eyes be put out, in order that thereafter I might "see by the eyes of the ministers—since the greatest princes do no more." Learning of this decree in advance of its promulgation through a friend at court, I went to the fleet, seized one of the captured vessels, placed my clothing in it, and, drawing it behind me, swam to the royal port of Blefuscu. There I was received with scant welcome, for the Emperor, having lost his navy, feared the vengeance of his Majesty of Lilliput for shielding an outlaw.
Accordingly he was relieved when a great boat, which proved to be a European yawl, was cast on the shore of the island on the farther side from Lilliput, and I proposed that it be fitted out with sails for me to take my departure therein. These were made by five hundred tailors, who quilted thirteen folds of their linen together. I made the ropes by twisting ten, twenty, or thirty of their strongest cables together. I took a great stone for an anchor, and cutting down some of their tallest trees, shaped them into oars and masts. I stored in the boat the carcasses of a hundred oxen and three hundred sheep, with bread and drink proportionable. I took with me six cows and two bulls alive, with as many ewes and rams, with their forage, to propagate the breed in my own country. I wished to take along several natives, but this the Emperor refused:
I steered northeast toward the China seas. About twenty-four leagues from Blefuscu I fell in with an English vessel re-turning from Japan, and I put my cows and sheep in my pocket and climbed on board. The Captain, Mr. John Biddle, of Deptford, asked me whence I came, and on my reply he thought me raving. But when I showed my cattle and sheep he believed me.
I landed in England with all my live stock but one ewe, which the rats killed and ate on the voyage. I turned them loose to graze in a bowling-green at Greenwich, where the fineness of the grass enabled them to feed very heartily. I exhibited them at considerable profit and then sold them to several stock-breeders for six hundred pounds, which I used as capital for my second voyage. Since my return I find that the breed is considerably increased, especially the sheep, which I trust will prove much to the advantage of the woolen manufacture by the fineness of their fleeces.
A VOYAGE TO BROBDINGNAG
On the twentieth day of June, 1702, I took shipping in the Adventure—Captain John Nicholas, commander—bound for Surat. We had a good voyage till we passed the Straits of Madagascar, when a gale arose that drove us before it for twenty days to the east into uncharted waters.
The wind subsided, and on June 17, 1703, we came in sight of a great island or continent. A few of us landed and set out separately in search of fresh water. I found the country all barren and rocky and devoid of springs. Returning to the boat, I saw it on the sea, filled with the rest of the party, who were rowing for life toward the ship. I was about to call to them, when I observed a huge creature wading with prodigious strides after the boat. The sea, however, was full of sharp rocks, which delayed the monster, and my comrades reached the ship, which immediately sailed away with an off-shore breeze.
As the giant turned to come back, I ran as fast as I could into the interior. Finally I came to a region as rife in vegetation as the shore was barren, the grass being twenty feet high. Plunging through this, I entered a field of gigantic barley, the stalks reaching an altitude of forty feet. I fell into what seemed a highroad, but which really served the inhabitants as a foot-path. After an hour's walking I came to a hedge at least one hundred and twenty feet high. There was a stone stile to pass into the next field, which it was impossible for me to climb, since each lower step was six feet high, and the upper stone about twenty. While I was seeking to find a hole in the hedge, a giant as tall as a church spire appeared on the top of the stile, and, turning, called in a voice of thunder to others of his kind, who shortly appeared, each with a sickle in hand. I had run back into the grain, where I lay trembling. The barley was here laid in a tangle, having been beaten down by the rain, which, I after-ward found, is of prodigious force in this country. It was impossible for me to advance a step. The reapers set their hooks into the corn, and soon one of them came where I lay. So, to escape death, I screamed as loud as fear could make me. The reaper paused, looked close in the laid corn, and finally spied me. Cautiously, as an English laborer lays hold of a weasel, he pinched me cruelly by the middle between forefinger and thumb, and lifted me within three yards of his eyes. I folded my hands in supplication and appealed to him for mercy in a humble tone, whereat he appeared pleased. Noting that I was in pain from his pinching, he placed me in a fold of his coat, and ran with me to his master, the man whom I had seen on the stile. The farmer blew my hair aside to see my face. He then placed me on all fours on the ground, while the reapers gathered in a circle about me. Standing up, I made a low bow, to indicate I had no intent to run away. Then I fell on my knees, raised my hands and spoke as loud as I could. I humbly presented my purse to the farmer, who received it on the palm of his hand, held it close to his eye, and then, taking a pin from his sleeve, turned it over several times with the point, but could make nothing of it. He handed it back to me on his open hand, placing this on the ground. I then opened the purse and poured forth its con-tents. He wet the tip of the forefinger of his other hand and took up one after another of the larger pieces. Shaking his head, he handed purse and coins to me, making signs that I should retain them.
Sending his reapers to work, he spread his handkerchief on the ground and motioned to me to step upon it. Then he wrapped me up to the head in it and carried me to his home.
He called his wife and showed me to her; but she screamed and started back as women in England do at the sight of a spider. However, when she noted how well I observed the signs her husband made, she was soon reconciled, and by degrees grew extremely tender of me.
It was, however, their daughter, a girl of nine, who made me an especial pet. She took the greatest care imaginable of me, mincing my food, making me clothes of the most delicate fabrics to be obtained, which, nevertheless, were coarse to me as sackcloth, preparing my bed in her doll's cradle, and teaching me the language of. Brobdingnag, which I learned was the name of the country.
She was small of her age, being only forty feet high. She gave me the name of Grildrig, or Manikin, and I called her Glumdalclitch, or Little Nurse.
It soon became noised around that my master had found a little animal in the field, about the size of a splacknuck, but shaped exactly like a man. The neighbors crowded in to see me. I was placed on the table, where I performed ordinary human actions, and addressed the spectators in a few expressions of their own language. The amazement of the beholders gave my master the idea of exhibiting me for pay in the neighboring town, whereat the dear girl, knowing how nicely I regarded my honor, was greatly grieved. She said her papa and mamma had promised that Grildrig should be hers; but now she found that they meant to serve her as they did last year, when they pretended to give her a lamb, and yet, as soon as it was fat, sold it to a butcher.
Next market-day my master rode to town, with his daughter on a pillion behind him. She carried me in a box, which she had padded with her doll's quilt. Nevertheless I was terribly shaken, though the journey was but of half an hour, for the horse trotted about forty feet at every step.
I was placed upon a table in the largest room of the inn, which might be near three hundred feet square. But thirty people were permitted to see me at a time. I went through my performances, such as drinking the company's health in a thimble, fencing with my hanger, and exercising a straw as a pike, and I made my silly speeches, for twelve sets of company, until I was half dead with weariness and vexation. It was three days before I recovered strength to give another exhibition.
I was taken by slow stages of about eight score miles a day through the towns of the kingdom to the capital city, giving performances at each stopping-place. Glumdalclitch often took me from my box to show me the country. We forded six rivers, each many degrees broader and deeper than the Ganges, and there was hardly a rivulet so small as the Thames at London Bridge.
We reached the capital city after a journey of ten weeks, on October 26th. It is called Lorbrulgrud, or Pride of the Universe. Here I was shown ten times a day, for the whole city was wild to see me. I was worn to a skeleton by my exertions, and would certainly have died had not the Queen heard of me and commanded that I be produced at court. Here she became very fond of me and bought me from my heartless master, who was quite willing to sell me, since it seemed I had not a month to live—for a thousand pieces of gold, each as big as eight hundred moidores, which amount is about as valuable in purchasing power as a thousand guineas are in England. At Glumdalclitch's earnest request, in which I joined, she was retained as my caretaker.
I became a great favorite with the King as well as the Queen. He took pleasure in inquiring into the manners, religion, government, and learning of Europe. Once when I became very animated in talking of my beloved country and her institutions, her marvelous trade, her glorious wars by land and sea, and the ferment of her religious and political controversies, into which I entered at some length, he burst into a hearty fit of laughter, and, taking me up in his right hand and stroking me with his left, asked me whether I was a Whig or a Tory? Turning to his prime minister, he observed how contemptible was human grandeur, which could be mimicked by such diminutive insects as I. Then addressing me he said :
" My little friend Grildrig, you have spent the greatest part of your manhood in traveling, and so must have escaped many vices of your country; but from your own relation, I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth."
Then he stated what he considered were the right principles of ruling a nation. He confined the knowledge of governing within very narrow bounds—to common sense and reason, to justice and lenity, to the speedy determination of civil and criminal causes; with some other obvious topics, which are not worth considering. And he gave it for his opinion that whoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind and do more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.
This contempt of my kind, as well as the humiliation I endured because of my helplessness, so preyed on my mind that I began earnestly to desire to return to England. To further this end I feigned illness and expressed a wish to be taken to the seacoast to recover, hoping there to find some means of escape such as I had procured from Blefuscu.
My rescue came about in most unexpected fashion. Glumdalclitch had taken me out for a walk on the seashore. I was in my new box, for I had acquired at court a handsome and convenient one, made of tortoise-shell. Placing it on the sands and carefully closing me within, she wandered off a short distance of ten or fifteen miles, gathering pebbles and shells. Poor Glumdalclitch! she was never to see her Grildrig more; for, as I lay in my hammock, an eagle, supposing my little house to be a tortoise or shellfish, swooped down and, seizing it by the ring with which my mistress carried it, raped it high in the air with an intent to let it fall on a rock, and then to pick out from the fragments the body enclosed and devour it.
I heard the scream of other eagles, as if several were con-tending for the prize, and then felt myself falling. My box alighted upon the sea, where, after a brief submergence, it floated like a corked and empty bottle.
I now gave myself up for lost. Hour after hour I lay in my hammock expecting and wishing death. Then I heard a grating noise above me, as if a chain were being passed through the ring of the box, and a voice called in English: "If anybody be below, let him speak." I answered that I was an Englishman who had suffered unbelievable miseries, and I pleaded to be released from my dungeon. The voice assured me that I was safe, that the box was being towed by the ship, and that the carpenter would shortly saw an opening for my release.
I murmured at the needless delay, and said that there was no more to be done but to let one of the crew put his finger in the ring and lift the box upon the deck, and so into the Captain's cabin, where the door on the side could be opened.
I heard one man say: "Poor fellow, he's mad." Others laughed. The carpenter came, sawed a hole in the top of the box, and then let down a ladder, descending by which, he took me in his arms and carried me out in a very weak condition.
I was confounded by the sight of so many pygmies, as I took the sailors to be, after having accustomed mine eyes to the monstrous objects I had left.
The Captain, Mr. Thomas Wilcocks, an honest, worthy Shropshire man, observing I was ready to faint, took me into his cabin, put me in his bed, and, giving me a cordial, bade me go to sleep.
In the morning I began to tell him of my experiences. He thought I was demented, until the sailors brought to him certain curiosities they had found in my box: needles and pins from a foot to half a yard Iong; four wasp-stings like joiner's tacks; one of Glumdalclitch's milk-teeth, big as a surgeon-dentist's sign; and the Queen's gold finger-ring, as large as a horse-collar.
When I arrived in England I thought myself in Lilliput, so small did the houses, the trees, and the cattle, as well as the people, appear.
When I came to my own house I bent down to enter the door like a goose under a gate. My wife ran to embrace me, and I stooped lower than her knees to enable her to kiss me. My daughter kneeled to ask my blessing, but I did not notice her, so accustomed was I to throw my head back in order to see faces sixty feet above me. This I mention as an instance of the great power of habit and prejudice.
A VOYAGE TO LAPUTA
On my next voyage I was captured by a Dutch pirate in Japanese waters, and marooned upon a rocky island. While I stood upon it, gazing out to sea, and hoping for the sight of a friendly ship, my deliverance from certain starvation came from a most unexpected quarter. The sun was suddenly obscured, and the air became chill as when that luminary descends behind a mountain. I looked up and beheld a vast opaque body moving in the air toward the island. It appeared to be about two miles high and hid the sun six or seven minutes. As it came above me, I noticed that the bottom was flat and smooth, shining very brightly from the reflection of the sea beneath it. On the edge were men fishing with long lines in the sea. I shouted to them, and they disappeared. Shortly afterward the island gently descended toward me, and a rope ladder was let down from it. Upon this I ascended to the floating island, and found myself among a most singular race of mortals. Their heads were all reclined, either to the right or to the left; one of their eyes turned inward and the other up to the zenith. The garments of the superior persons among them were embroidered with figures of musical instruments, and of suns, moons, and stars. Servants with blown bladders at the ends of flails kept flapping the mouths and ears of their masters, who, I afterward learned, are so spellbound by their cogitations upon celestial matters that they must be continually reminded of mundane affairs.
I was led before the Prince of the island, who, being gently flapped on the mouth by a page, took languid notice of my presence and invited me to dinner. In the first course there was a shoulder of mutton cut into an equilateral triangle, a piece of beef into a rhomboid, and a pudding into a cycloid. The second course was two ducks trussed up in the form of fiddles; sausages and puddings resembling flutes and hautboys, and a breast of veal in the shape of a harp.
After dinner a tutor was assigned me to teach me the language of the country. I very quickly discovered its principle, which, is mathematical. The speech is absolutely literal, and therefore easy to learn.
I was next measured for clothes such as they wear in that country. The tailor took my altitude with a quadrant, and then, with rule and compasses, described my various dimensions, which he entered upon paper. In six days he brought me the clothes, very ill fitting through a mistake in calculation. But such accidents are frequent and are little regarded.
I found the island, which is known as Laputa, to be a perfect circle, containing ten thousand acres. The locomotive power is a great lodestone placed in a cave in the exact center of the island. The stone has two poles, positive and negative, and being set on a pivot is either attracted or repelled by the earth beneath, or propelled along its surface obliquely by alternations in its position.
The houses are very ill built, owing to the abstruse geometrical instructions that they give to their ignorant workmen. They themselves are very clumsy in the common actions of life, and are slow and perplexed upon all other subjects than mathematics and music. Imagination and invention are wholly foreign to them, and they are bad reasoners, though very prone to dispute about politics—a disposition which I have observed also among European mathematicians, who think, seemingly, that because the smallest circle contains as many degrees as the largest, therefore the management of the world requires no more ability than the handling of a school globe.
They live in constant dread that the sun is approaching the earth to swallow it up, or is losing its heart, so that we shall all be frozen, or that the tail of the next comet will sweep through our planet, reducing it to ashes. So they have no relish for the common amusements of life, and when they meet they inquire not about each other's health, but about the condition of the sun or the approach of the comet. They have a belief in astrology, though this they are ashamed to profess openly.
The women are very vivacious; they contemn their husbands, choosing gallants from the continent of Balnibarbi, to which Laputa belongs. The husband is always so rapt in speculation that mistress and lover may proceed to the greatest familiarity before his face.
Arriving above Lagado, the metropolis of Balnibarbi, I received permission to descend to terra firma.
I noted that the houses were greatly out of repair; that the people in the streets walked rapidly, looked wild, and were generally in rags. I went out into the country, and, though the soil seemed rich and there were many laborers in the fields, I saw no signs of crops. I made the acquaintance of a noble-man, who privately deplored this condition of the country, saying that it arose from the influence of the mathematicians of Laputa, who had founded an Academy of projectors in Lagado, by which the entire systems of agriculture, manufacture, and architecture had been overturned.
Under his guidance I visited the Academy. The first projector I saw was a gaunt man in rags, with sooty face and hands, and long, unkempt hair and beard singed in several places. He had been engaged eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams from cucumbers, in order to supply the Governor's garden with sunshine in winter.
I saw another at work endeavoring to calcine ice into gun-powder. He likewise showed me a manuscript upon the malleability of fire, soliciting a contribution to its publication.
There was a most ingenious architect, who, taking a hint from the bee and the spider, had contrived a new method for building houses, by beginning with the roof and ending with the foundation.
There was a man, born blind, who was instructing others like himself in the art of mixing painters' colors through distinguishing them by feeling and smelling.
I was highly pleased with an agricultural projector who had invented a device for plowing without implements. This was to bury acorns in the ground in rows, for hogs to furrow up with their snouts, at the same time manuring the ground with their dung.
There was one man engaged in softening marble for pin-cushions; another in producing a breed of naked sheep; and still another in developing the chaff in wheat, contending that this, rather than the grain, contained the nutriment.
There was a professor who had evolved a method for producing treatises on every subject mechanically. All the words in the language were written in their due proportion of verbs, nouns, prepositions, etc., on movable blocks in a vast machine. By turning a lever a row of words would appear as numbers do by chance in a gambling-device. These were copied down by clerks, and afterward pieced together, forming a cyclopedia of universal knowledge.
The next room I visited was of a professor who taught his pupils mathematics by writing demonstrations on thin wafers with a cephalic tincture, and having them swallow these. As the wafer digested) the tincture mounted to the brain, bearing the proposition along with it. But this bolus of learning appears so nauseous to the lads that they usually steal aside and discharge it upward before it can operate.
The professor of politics was a physician. Arguing from the analogy of the natural and political body, he had prepared a plan for purging Parliament at the beginning of every session, and relieving orators of their excessive wind. He proposed that the occiputs of opposing party leaders should be opened, and half of the brains of each be transferred to the other's head, producing a desirable equanimity in the councils of the nation, As to the difference of the politicians' brains, in quality or quantity, the doctor assured us that it was merely a trifle:
There were two conflicting schools of taxation. One professor proposed to levy on vice and folly, the rating to be fixed by the citizen's neighbors; another, to tax estimable qualities, such as wit and valor, upon the possessor's own valuation Both professors agreed that honor, justice, wisdom, and learning should go untaxed, since no man will either allow them in his neighbor or value them in himself.
Leaving Balnibarbi, I visited a small island known as Glubbdubdrib, or the isle of sorcerers. Here I talked with the spirits of the dead) and so learned many secrets of history. A general confessed that he got a victory purely by the fore of a fortunate blunder; being a coward, he had ordered a retreat, which turned opt to be an advance. An admiral confessed that for want of proper intelligence he defeated the enemy to whom he intended to betray his fleet. Three kings t protested to me that they never had preferred a person of merit) unless by mistake; they defended this policy by urging that virtue in a minister was a perpetual clog to business.
From the land of magicians I journeyed to Luggnagg, an island about one hundred leagues southeast of Japan. Here I sought an audience with the King. To approach him I was compelled to crawl on my belly and lick the floor as I advanced.
On account of my being a stranger the floor had been swept. Sometimes when the suitor has enemies at court dust is thickly strown before him; I have seen a great lord with his mouth crammed so full that when he had crept to the proper distance from the throne he was not able to utter a word. Occasionally, when the King himself is inimical, he causes poison to be mixed with the dust.
The King very courteously discoursed with me upon the interesting and peculiar features of the country. Among other things, he asked whether I had seen any of their struldbrugs, or immortals. I said I had not and desired to be informed about them. He told me that sometimes, though rarely, a child was born with a red circular spot on the forehead, which was an in-fallible mark that it never would die.
I cried out in rapture : "Happy nation that enjoys living examples of ancient virtue, and teachers in the learning of the ages, and thrice happy struldbrugs, who are free to enjoy the world without the constant depressing reminder that they must leave it!"
The King and his court laughed at my enthusiasm, and his Majesty informed me that the habit and purpose of life with the struldbrugs were far different from my supposition. They commonly acted like mortals till about thirty years old, after which they grew more and more melancholy till they came to fourscore. Then they had not only the follies and infirmities of other old men, but many more, which arose from the prospect of never dying, such as a lack of all natural affection, a total incapacity for pleasure, and an envy of everyone, especially in the case of a dying person. They remember only what occurred in their youth, and this so imperfectly that it is safer to depend on common tradition than on their recollection.
The state is very commiserate of the evil lot of the struldbrugs. Thus, if one is married he is freed from his wife when the younger of the two reaches the age of eighty, the law considering that a man who is condemned, without fault of his own, to a perpetual continuance in the world, should not have his miseries doubled by the load of a wife. Indeed, after eighty the struldbrug is relieved of all responsibility. His heirs succeed to his property, a portion being reserved for his support.
I afterward saw several struldbrugs and found them horrible beyond description. Although it was told to each that I was a great traveler, he had no curiosity to ask me a question; instead, he begged a slumskudash, or "token of remembrance," which is a modest way of evading the law made against their begging, as the state provides for their support. Since avarice is the be-setting vice of old age, the laws forbidding the accumulation of property by struldbrugs are necessary for the preservation of the kingdom. Otherwise these immortals would own the whole nation and wield the civil power to its utter ruin. I desired permission of the King to take a struldbrug home with me to England, to arm our people against the fear of death, but his Majesty informed me that this was against the law.
From Luggnagg I sailed to japan with a letter of the King to the Mikado representing me as a Dutch merchant and re-questing that the ceremony of trampling on the crucifix as a condition of entering the country be excused in my case. At this his Japanese Majesty was quite a little surprised, saying that I was the first of my countrymen that ever made any scruple on this point, and therefore he doubted whether I were a real Hollander, but rather suspected I must be a Christian. However, out of regard for the King of Luggnagg he granted the request.
From Japan I came in a Dutch merchantman to Amsterdam, whence I crossed to London in a packet. I reached my home at Redriff on April 16, 1710, after an absence of five years and six months, and found my wife and family in good health.
A VOYAGE TO THE HOUYHNHNMS
I continued at home with my wife and children about five months in a very happy condition, when I was tempted again to try the sea, this time as a principal. Our purpose was to go to the Bay of Campeachy to cut logwood. On the voyage thither we lost most of our men by an epidemic and were forced to ship what was virtually a new crew at the Leeward Islands. Unknown to us, these were pirates; they seized the ship and set me ashore on an unknown island.
As I journeyed inland I was amazed to see cultivated fields of oats and hay, with paths between, whereon I discovered many tracks of naked feet and horses' hoofs. At last I beheld several apelike animals sitting at the foot of a tree. At my approach they bounded up the tree, leaping from branch to branch with great agility; for, as I saw, they were provided with strong claws with sharp, hooked points. As I stood looking up at them they screamed discordantly at me, distorted their evil visages, and spewed upon me like vultures. As I walked onward they came down from the tree and followed me, as if from curiosity. Suddenly they scattered, running away in all directions. Looking forward, I saw the cause of their flight—a noble dapple-gray horse approaching softly over a meadow. He came up and walked around me several times, viewing me with great intelligence. I extended my hand to stroke his neck, whereat he drew back with seeming disdain. Then he began to neigh in so measured a cadence that I began to think he was trying to converse with me in a language of his own.
By this time another horse, a bay, had come up, and the two struck hoofs together, as if in greeting, and began neighing responsively to each other, as if conversing about me. I was amazed to see such actions in brute beasts, and inferred that if the inhabitants of this country were endued with a proportion-able degree of reason, they must needs be the wisest people on earth,
Thinking the horses might be magicians who for purposes of their own had assumed the forms of animals, I made bold to address them, telling them my condition. The dapple gray answered in an inquiring, and at the same time incredulous tone, "Yahoo?" To this I replied "Yahoo," in a confirmatory tone. Then, nodding his head, as if referring to himself, the horse said, as nearly as I can transcribe the word, "Houyhnhnm." After several trials I succeeded in repeating this word, whereat they were greatly amazed.
Preceded by the dapple-gray, I walked about three miles farther and came upon a long log building with a straw-thatched roof. To my surprise there was no creature in the house save horses. I saw a comely mare, with a half-grown colt and a foal, sitting on their haunches upon mats of straw, clean and artfully made. The mare rose and inspected me as had the other horses. Finally she gave a snort of contempt, pronouncing the word "Yahoo." At this I looked up at the dapple gray inquiringly, and he sighed that I should follow him. He preceded me to a filthy outbuilding, and there I saw several creatures like those that had assailed me from the tree, hitched to a beam and eating carrion. To my horror, they appeared to be human beings, and I understood why the mare had applied the term Yahoo to me with such disgust. Observing that the sight of the carrion filled me with loathing, my guide ordered a mare-servant to bring me some oats in a wooden tray. From these I rubbed the husks and there boiled the grains in milk, making a most palatable and healthful dish, upon which I chiefly lived during my stay with the Houyhnhnms.
I quickly learned the language, which, being pronounced through the nose, is very like German in sound. My proficiency amazed the Houyhnhnms, because the Yahoos, whom I resembled, were regarded as the most unteachable of brutes.
My master was curious to know about my own country, asking whether we had many of his kind. I replied that we had great numbers; that in summer they grazed in the fields, and in winter were kept in houses with hay and oats, where Yahoo servants were employed to rub their skins smooth, comb their manes, pick their feet, serve them with food, and make their beds,
"It is very plain," said my master, "that whatever share of reason the Yahoos pretend to, the Houyhnhnms are your masters." But when I described how we harnessed his kind and scourged them to labor, and bitted and bridled and mounted them, and rode them forth to war, my master was filled with indignation, although upon reflection he concluded that if Houyhnhnms were deprived of reason and Yahoos endowed with it, as I assured him was the case in my country, the situation might be as I described it. Still, he deplored that reason should be given to a, creature so unfitted in body to use it as a Yahoo. He instanced my clothing as a ridiculous makeshift for a coat of hair, rendered necessary by my tender skin, and my shoes, which seemed to him a very poor substitute for hoofs.
He was curious to know what I meant by "war," to which I had referred, and when I had informed him of this he asked how wars arose: I answered that the causes were innumer able. Thus, a difference of opinion as to whether flesh be bread, or bread be flesh; whether the juice of a certain berry be blood or wine; whether it be better to kiss a post or throw it into the fire.
" Surely, creatures of the same kind will not kill each other over these trivial matters!" he objected; and I replied that the closer the kinship of peoples the more bitter the hatred was between them, especially if one nation were powerful and the other weak.
"A soldier," I said, "is hired to kill, in cold blood, as many as he can of his own species, who personally never have offended him. It is therefore held to be the most honorable of trades."
Here my master commanded me to silence. He said that, although he hated the Yahoos of his own country, yet he no more blamed them for their odious qualities than he blamed a gnnayh (a vulture) for its cruelty, or a sharp stone for cutting. But when a creature pretending to reason could be capable of such enormities, he dreaded lest the corruption of that faculty might be worse than brutality itself.
In my discourse I had mentioned the word "law" as some-thing besides nature and reason by which human conduct was ruled, and he asked me what I meant by it. I said that there was a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in proving, by words multiplied for that purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are slaves, for no man is permitted to plead his cause himself. If I as a suitor have right upon my side, I am at a disadvantage, for my lawyer, being practised in deceit, is quite out of his element as an advocate for justice, which is an unnatural office that he always attempts with great awkwardness, if not with ill will. The judges, too, are prejudiced against the just side, the maintenance of which lessens the practise of law. And therefore I have but two methods to win my cause: the first, to fee my adversary's lawyer to insinuate that he has justice on his side, and so prejudice the judge against him; and the second, to bribe the judge himself in my favor. But the latter course is not always effective, since judges, who are lawyers that won their honorable position by preeminence in deceit, lie under such a fatal necessity of favoring oppression that I have known some of them refuse a large bribe from the side where justice lay, rather than injure the faculty by doing anything unbecoming their nature or their office.
Here my master, interposing, said it was a pity that creatures endowed with such prodigious ability were not rather encouraged to be instructors in wisdom and knowledge. I assured his honor that in all points out of their trade they were usually the most ignorant and stupid generation among us; the most despicable in common conversation, avowed enemies of learning, and equally disposed to pervert the general reason of mankind on every other subject as on that of their own profession.
My master asked me whether these judges made the laws, and I replied: only in so far as they do so by interpreting them. The lawmakers, I said, were noblemen who are bred from their childhood in idleness and luxury, and when, by their excesses, they have been brought to penury, they recoup their fortunes by marrying some woman of mean birth, disagreeable person, and unsound constitution, but with money, whom they despise. Thus they increase in their offspring their own imperfections of body and mind. Without the consent of this illustrious body, I remarked, no law can be enacted or repealed, and all our possessions are thus wholly subject to their decision.
The existence of such a senate was incomprehensible to my Houyhnhnm, for these creatures are entirely governed by reason. Their administration is wholly practical. Thus every four years, at the vernal equinox, there is a representative council of the whole nation, which inquires into the state of the several districts, whether they be deficient in crops or stock; and whenever there is any want, which is but seldom, it is supplied by unanimous consent and contribution.
Their chief concern is the training of the young. Temperance, industry, and exercise are enjoined upon both sexes; and my master thought it monstrous in us to give the women an inferior education to that of the men, whereby one half of our natives were rendered good for nothing but bringing children into the world; and he considered it a still greater in-stance of brutality to trust the care of our children to such useless animals.
The buildings of the Houyhnhnms are rude, but comfortable, There is a kind of tree in the county which at forty years old loosens in the root and falls to the ground, The boles of these they sharpen with stones, and stick them in the earth like palisades, weaving wattles between them. The roofs are of thatched straw.
These creatures use the hollow between the pastern and the hoof as we use our hands, becoming remarkably dexterous in it. They milk their cows and reap their oats, and form implements of flint and vessels of clay by this means. They use the Yahoos chiefly as beasts of burden. There is no sickness among the Houyhnhnms, and they die contentedly of old age at about seventy.
It is worth observing that there is but one word in the language to express anything evil, and that is the epithet Yahoo. Thus foul weather is known as ynlhmndwiklma Yahoo.
At the next general assembly the chief subject of discussion was what disposition should be made of me. It was thought that my master's receiving me into his home upon a degree of social equality was a dangerous example, which might lead to insurrection among the other Yahoos, and it was decreed that I should go back to the place whence I came.
I swooned when my master gently informed me of this sentence. When I came to my senses, I uttered my despair at passing my days among Yahoos and relapsing into my old corruptions for want of examples of virtue. However, when my agitation subsided, I thanked my master humbly for his kindness to such an inferior creature as I, and accepted grate-fully the offer he made of having a boat built according to my directions.
In this, when it was finished and stored with provisions, I set out, purposing to find a desolate island on which to spend the remainder of my days; for in such a solitude I could at least reflect with delight on the virtues of those inimitable Houyhnhnms, without an opportunity of degenerating into the vices and corruptions of my own species.
However, such a tolerable fate was not in store for me, I was picked up by a Portuguese vessel. When, in response to the Captain's inquiry who I was, I answered in Portuguese, "A poor Yahoo, banished from the Houyhnhnms," they were greatly perplexed, and at the same time could not refrain from laughing at my strange tone in speaking, which resembled the neighing of a horse.
When I told my story in full they refused to accept it as true, whereat I was greatly incensed, for I had forgotten that there was such a thing as lying in the world, On December 5, 1715, we cast anchor in the Downs about nine in the morning, and at three that afternoon I got safe to my house at Redriff. My wife and family received me with great joy, because they had believed me to be dead; but I" must confess the sight of them filled me only with contempt and disgust, and the more by reflecting on the near alliance I had to them.
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
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