Gulliver's Travels
Jonathan Swift

Part 4 out of 6

upon a frame, which took up the greatest part of both the length
and breadth of the room, he said, "Perhaps I might wonder to see
him employed in a project for improving speculative knowledge, by
practical and mechanical operations. But the world would soon be
sensible of its usefulness; and he flattered himself, that a more
noble, exalted thought never sprang in any other man's head. Every
one knew how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and
sciences; whereas, by his contrivance, the most ignorant person, at
a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, might write
books in philosophy, poetry, politics, laws, mathematics, and
theology, without the least assistance from genius or study." He
then led me to the frame, about the sides, whereof all his pupils
stood in ranks. It was twenty feet square, placed in the middle of
the room. The superfices was composed of several bits of wood,
about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others. They were
all linked together by slender wires. These bits of wood were
covered, on every square, with paper pasted on them; and on these
papers were written all the words of their language, in their
several moods, tenses, and declensions; but without any order. The
professor then desired me "to observe; for he was going to set his
engine at work." The pupils, at his command, took each of them
hold of an iron handle, whereof there were forty fixed round the
edges of the frame; and giving them a sudden turn, the whole
disposition of the words was entirely changed. He then commanded
six-and-thirty of the lads, to read the several lines softly, as
they appeared upon the frame; and where they found three or four
words together that might make part of a sentence, they dictated to
the four remaining boys, who were scribes. This work was repeated
three or four times, and at every turn, the engine was so
contrived, that the words shifted into new places, as the square
bits of wood moved upside down.

Six hours a day the young students were employed in this labour;
and the professor showed me several volumes in large folio, already
collected, of broken sentences, which he intended to piece
together, and out of those rich materials, to give the world a
complete body of all arts and sciences; which, however, might be
still improved, and much expedited, if the public would raise a
fund for making and employing five hundred such frames in Lagado,
and oblige the managers to contribute in common their several

He assured me "that this invention had employed all his thoughts
from his youth; that he had emptied the whole vocabulary into his
frame, and made the strictest computation of the general proportion
there is in books between the numbers of particles, nouns, and
verbs, and other parts of speech."

I made my humblest acknowledgment to this illustrious person, for
his great communicativeness; and promised, "if ever I had the good
fortune to return to my native country, that I would do him
justice, as the sole inventor of this wonderful machine;" the form
and contrivance of which I desired leave to delineate on paper, as
in the figure here annexed. I told him, "although it were the
custom of our learned in Europe to steal inventions from each
other, who had thereby at least this advantage, that it became a
controversy which was the right owner; yet I would take such
caution, that he should have the honour entire, without a rival."

We next went to the school of languages, where three professors sat
in consultation upon improving that of their own country.

The first project was, to shorten discourse, by cutting
polysyllables into one, and leaving out verbs and participles,
because, in reality, all things imaginable are but norms.

The other project was, a scheme for entirely abolishing all words
whatsoever; and this was urged as a great advantage in point of
health, as well as brevity. For it is plain, that every word we
speak is, in some degree, a diminution of our lunge by corrosion,
and, consequently, contributes to the shortening of our lives. An
expedient was therefore offered, "that since words are only names
for things, it would be more convenient for all men to carry about
them such things as were necessary to express a particular business
they are to discourse on." And this invention would certainly have
taken place, to the great ease as well as health of the subject, if
the women, in conjunction with the vulgar and illiterate, had not
threatened to raise a rebellion unless they might be allowed the
liberty to speak with their tongues, after the manner of their
forefathers; such constant irreconcilable enemies to science are
the common people. However, many of the most learned and wise
adhere to the new scheme of expressing themselves by things; which
has only this inconvenience attending it, that if a man's business
be very great, and of various kinds, he must be obliged, in
proportion, to carry a greater bundle of things upon his back,
unless he can afford one or two strong servants to attend him. I
have often beheld two of those sages almost sinking under the
weight of their packs, like pedlars among us, who, when they met in
the street, would lay down their loads, open their sacks, and hold
conversation for an hour together; then put up their implements,
help each other to resume their burdens, and take their leave.

But for short conversations, a man may carry implements in his
pockets, and under his arms, enough to supply him; and in his
house, he cannot be at a loss. Therefore the room where company
meet who practise this art, is full of all things, ready at hand,
requisite to furnish matter for this kind of artificial converse.

Another great advantage proposed by this invention was, that it
would serve as a universal language, to be understood in all
civilised nations, whose goods and utensils are generally of the
same kind, or nearly resembling, so that their uses might easily be
comprehended. And thus ambassadors would be qualified to treat
with foreign princes, or ministers of state, to whose tongues they
were utter strangers.

I was at the mathematical school, where the master taught his
pupils after a method scarce imaginable to us in Europe. The
proposition, and demonstration, were fairly written on a thin
wafer, with ink composed of a cephalic tincture. This, the student
was to swallow upon a fasting stomach, and for three days
following, eat nothing but bread and water. As the wafer digested,
the tincture mounted to his brain, bearing the proposition along
with it. But the success has not hitherto been answerable, partly
by some error in the quantum or composition, and partly by the
perverseness of lads, to whom this bolus is so nauseous, that they
generally steal aside, and discharge it upwards, before it can
operate; neither have they been yet persuaded to use so long an
abstinence, as the prescription requires.


[A further account of the academy. The author proposes some
improvements, which are honourably received.]

In the school of political projectors, I was but ill entertained;
the professors appearing, in my judgment, wholly out of their
senses, which is a scene that never fails to make me melancholy.
These unhappy people were proposing schemes for persuading monarchs
to choose favourites upon the score of their wisdom, capacity, and
virtue; of teaching ministers to consult the public good; of
rewarding merit, great abilities, eminent services; of instructing
princes to know their true interest, by placing it on the same
foundation with that of their people; of choosing for employments
persons qualified to exercise them, with many other wild,
impossible chimeras, that never entered before into the heart of
man to conceive; and confirmed in me the old observation, "that
there is nothing so extravagant and irrational, which some
philosophers have not maintained for truth."

But, however, I shall so far do justice to this part of the
Academy, as to acknowledge that all of them were not so visionary.
There was a most ingenious doctor, who seemed to be perfectly
versed in the whole nature and system of government. This
illustrious person had very usefully employed his studies, in
finding out effectual remedies for all diseases and corruptions to
which the several kinds of public administration are subject, by
the vices or infirmities of those who govern, as well as by the
licentiousness of those who are to obey. For instance: whereas
all writers and reasoners have agreed, that there is a strict
universal resemblance between the natural and the political body;
can there be any thing more evident, than that the health of both
must be preserved, and the diseases cured, by the same
prescriptions? It is allowed, that senates and great councils are
often troubled with redundant, ebullient, and other peccant
humours; with many diseases of the head, and more of the heart;
with strong convulsions, with grievous contractions of the nerves
and sinews in both hands, but especially the right; with spleen,
flatus, vertigos, and deliriums; with scrofulous tumours, full of
fetid purulent matter; with sour frothy ructations: with canine
appetites, and crudeness of digestion, besides many others,
needless to mention. This doctor therefore proposed, "that upon
the meeting of the senate, certain physicians should attend it the
three first days of their sitting, and at the close of each day's
debate feel the pulses of every senator; after which, having
maturely considered and consulted upon the nature of the several
maladies, and the methods of cure, they should on the fourth day
return to the senate house, attended by their apothecaries stored
with proper medicines; and before the members sat, administer to
each of them lenitives, aperitives, abstersives, corrosives,
restringents, palliatives, laxatives, cephalalgics, icterics,
apophlegmatics, acoustics, as their several cases required; and,
according as these medicines should operate, repeat, alter, or omit
them, at the next meeting."

This project could not be of any great expense to the public; and
might in my poor opinion, be of much use for the despatch of
business, in those countries where senates have any share in the
legislative power; beget unanimity, shorten debates, open a few
mouths which are now closed, and close many more which are now
open; curb the petulancy of the young, and correct the positiveness
of the old; rouse the stupid, and damp the pert.

Again: because it is a general complaint, that the favourites of
princes are troubled with short and weak memories; the same doctor
proposed, "that whoever attended a first minister, after having
told his business, with the utmost brevity and in the plainest
words, should, at his departure, give the said minister a tweak by
the nose, or a kick in the belly, or tread on his corns, or lug him
thrice by both ears, or run a pin into his breech; or pinch his arm
black and blue, to prevent forgetfulness; and at every levee day,
repeat the same operation, till the business were done, or
absolutely refused."

He likewise directed, "that every senator in the great council of a
nation, after he had delivered his opinion, and argued in the
defence of it, should be obliged to give his vote directly
contrary; because if that were done, the result would infallibly
terminate in the good of the public."

When parties in a state are violent, he offered a wonderful
contrivance to reconcile them. The method is this: You take a
hundred leaders of each party; you dispose them into couples of
such whose heads are nearest of a size; then let two nice operators
saw off the occiput of each couple at the same time, in such a
manner that the brain may be equally divided. Let the occiputs,
thus cut off, be interchanged, applying each to the head of his
opposite party-man. It seems indeed to be a work that requires
some exactness, but the professor assured us, "that if it were
dexterously performed, the cure would be infallible." For he
argued thus: "that the two half brains being left to debate the
matter between themselves within the space of one skull, would soon
come to a good understanding, and produce that moderation, as well
as regularity of thinking, so much to be wished for in the heads of
those, who imagine they come into the world only to watch and
govern its motion: and as to the difference of brains, in quantity
or quality, among those who are directors in faction, the doctor
assured us, from his own knowledge, that "it was a perfect trifle."

I heard a very warm debate between two professors, about the most
commodious and effectual ways and means of raising money, without
grieving the subject. The first affirmed, "the justest method
would be, to lay a certain tax upon vices and folly; and the sum
fixed upon every man to be rated, after the fairest manner, by a
jury of his neighbours." The second was of an opinion directly
contrary; "to tax those qualities of body and mind, for which men
chiefly value themselves; the rate to be more or less, according to
the degrees of excelling; the decision whereof should be left
entirely to their own breast." The highest tax was upon men who
are the greatest favourites of the other sex, and the assessments,
according to the number and nature of the favours they have
received; for which, they are allowed to be their own vouchers.
Wit, valour, and politeness, were likewise proposed to be largely
taxed, and collected in the same manner, by every person's giving
his own word for the quantum of what he possessed. But as to
honour, justice, wisdom, and learning, they should not be taxed at
all; because they are qualifications of so singular a kind, that no
man will either allow them in his neighbour or value them in

The women were proposed to be taxed according to their beauty and
skill in dressing, wherein they had the same privilege with the
men, to be determined by their own judgment. But constancy,
chastity, good sense, and good nature, were not rated, because they
would not bear the charge of collecting.

To keep senators in the interest of the crown, it was proposed that
the members should raffle for employment; every man first taking an
oath, and giving security, that he would vote for the court,
whether he won or not; after which, the losers had, in their turn,
the liberty of raffling upon the next vacancy. Thus, hope and
expectation would be kept alive; none would complain of broken
promises, but impute their disappointments wholly to fortune, whose
shoulders are broader and stronger than those of a ministry.

Another professor showed me a large paper of instructions for
discovering plots and conspiracies against the government. He
advised great statesmen to examine into the diet of all suspected
persons; their times of eating; upon which side they lay in bed;
with which hand they wipe their posteriors; take a strict view of
their excrements, and, from the colour, the odour, the taste, the
consistence, the crudeness or maturity of digestion, form a
judgment of their thoughts and designs; because men are never so
serious, thoughtful, and intent, as when they are at stool, which
he found by frequent experiment; for, in such conjunctures, when he
used, merely as a trial, to consider which was the best way of
murdering the king, his ordure would have a tincture of green; but
quite different, when he thought only of raising an insurrection,
or burning the metropolis.

The whole discourse was written with great acuteness, containing
many observations, both curious and useful for politicians; but, as
I conceived, not altogether complete. This I ventured to tell the
author, and offered, if he pleased, to supply him with some
additions. He received my proposition with more compliance than is
usual among writers, especially those of the projecting species,
professing "he would be glad to receive further information."

I told him, "that in the kingdom of Tribnia, {3} by the natives
called Langdon, {4} where I had sojourned some time in my travels,
the bulk of the people consist in a manner wholly of discoverers,
witnesses, informers, accusers, prosecutors, evidences, swearers,
together with their several subservient and subaltern instruments,
all under the colours, the conduct, and the pay of ministers of
state, and their deputies. The plots, in that kingdom, are usually
the workmanship of those persons who desire to raise their own
characters of profound politicians; to restore new vigour to a
crazy administration; to stifle or divert general discontents; to
fill their coffers with forfeitures; and raise, or sink the opinion
of public credit, as either shall best answer their private
advantage. It is first agreed and settled among them, what
suspected persons shall be accused of a plot; then, effectual care
is taken to secure all their letters and papers, and put the owners
in chains. These papers are delivered to a set of artists, very
dexterous in finding out the mysterious meanings of words,
syllables, and letters: for instance, they can discover a close
stool, to signify a privy council; a flock of geese, a senate; a
lame dog, an invader; the plague, a standing army; a buzzard, a
prime minister; the gout, a high priest; a gibbet, a secretary of
state; a chamber pot, a committee of grandees; a sieve, a court
lady; a broom, a revolution; a mouse-trap, an employment; a
bottomless pit, a treasury; a sink, a court; a cap and bells, a
favourite; a broken reed, a court of justice; an empty tun, a
general; a running sore, the administration. {5}

"When this method fails, they have two others more effectual, which
the learned among them call acrostics and anagrams. First, they
can decipher all initial letters into political meanings. Thus N,
shall signify a plot; B, a regiment of horse; L, a fleet at sea;
or, secondly, by transposing the letters of the alphabet in any
suspected paper, they can lay open the deepest designs of a
discontented party. So, for example, if I should say, in a letter
to a friend, 'Our brother Tom has just got the piles,' a skilful
decipherer would discover, that the same letters which compose that
sentence, may be analysed into the following words, 'Resist -, a
plot is brought home--The tour.' And this is the anagrammatic

The professor made me great acknowledgments for communicating these
observations, and promised to make honourable mention of me in his

I saw nothing in this country that could invite me to a longer
continuance, and began to think of returning home to England.


[The author leaves Lagado: arrives at Maldonada. No ship ready.
He takes a short voyage to Glubbdubdrib. His reception by the

The continent, of which this kingdom is apart, extends itself, as I
have reason to believe, eastward, to that unknown tract of America
westward of California; and north, to the Pacific Ocean, which is
not above a hundred and fifty miles from Lagado; where there is a
good port, and much commerce with the great island of Luggnagg,
situated to the north-west about 29 degrees north latitude, and 140
longitude. This island of Luggnagg stands south-eastward of Japan,
about a hundred leagues distant. There is a strict alliance
between the Japanese emperor and the king of Luggnagg; which
affords frequent opportunities of sailing from one island to the
other. I determined therefore to direct my course this way, in
order to my return to Europe. I hired two mules, with a guide, to
show me the way, and carry my small baggage. I took leave of my
noble protector, who had shown me so much favour, and made me a
generous present at my departure.

My journey was without any accident or adventure worth relating.
When I arrived at the port of Maldonada (for so it is called) there
was no ship in the harbour bound for Luggnagg, nor likely to be in
some time. The town is about as large as Portsmouth. I soon fell
into some acquaintance, and was very hospitably received. A
gentleman of distinction said to me, "that since the ships bound
for Luggnagg could not be ready in less than a month, it might be
no disagreeable amusement for me to take a trip to the little
island of Glubbdubdrib, about five leagues off to the south-west."
He offered himself and a friend to accompany me, and that I should
be provided with a small convenient bark for the voyage.

Glubbdubdrib, as nearly as I can interpret the word, signifies the
island of sorcerers or magicians. It is about one third as large
as the Isle of Wight, and extremely fruitful: it is governed by
the head of a certain tribe, who are all magicians. This tribe
marries only among each other, and the eldest in succession is
prince or governor. He has a noble palace, and a park of about
three thousand acres, surrounded by a wall of hewn stone twenty
feet high. In this park are several small enclosures for cattle,
corn, and gardening.

The governor and his family are served and attended by domestics of
a kind somewhat unusual. By his skill in necromancy he has a power
of calling whom he pleases from the dead, and commanding their
service for twenty-four hours, but no longer; nor can he call the
same persons up again in less than three months, except upon very
extraordinary occasions.

When we arrived at the island, which was about eleven in the
morning, one of the gentlemen who accompanied me went to the
governor, and desired admittance for a stranger, who came on
purpose to have the honour of attending on his highness. This was
immediately granted, and we all three entered the gate of the
palace between two rows of guards, armed and dressed after a very
antic manner, and with something in their countenances that made my
flesh creep with a horror I cannot express. We passed through
several apartments, between servants of the same sort, ranked on
each side as before, till we came to the chamber of presence;
where, after three profound obeisances, and a few general
questions, we were permitted to sit on three stools, near the
lowest step of his highness's throne. He understood the language
of Balnibarbi, although it was different from that of this island.
He desired me to give him some account of my travels; and, to let
me see that I should be treated without ceremony, he dismissed all
his attendants with a turn of his finger; at which, to my great
astonishment, they vanished in an instant, like visions in a dream
when we awake on a sudden. I could not recover myself in some
time, till the governor assured me, "that I should receive no
hurt:" and observing my two companions to be under no concern, who
had been often entertained in the same manner, I began to take
courage, and related to his highness a short history of my several
adventures; yet not without some hesitation, and frequently looking
behind me to the place where I had seen those domestic spectres. I
had the honour to dine with the governor, where a new set of ghosts
served up the meat, and waited at table. I now observed myself to
be less terrified than I had been in the morning. I stayed till
sunset, but humbly desired his highness to excuse me for not
accepting his invitation of lodging in the palace. My two friends
and I lay at a private house in the town adjoining, which is the
capital of this little island; and the next morning we returned to
pay our duty to the governor, as he was pleased to command us.

After this manner we continued in the island for ten days, most
part of every day with the governor, and at night in our lodging.
I soon grew so familiarized to the sight of spirits, that after the
third or fourth time they gave me no emotion at all: or, if I had
any apprehensions left, my curiosity prevailed over them. For his
highness the governor ordered me "to call up whatever persons I
would choose to name, and in whatever numbers, among all the dead
from the beginning of the world to the present time, and command
them to answer any questions I should think fit to ask; with this
condition, that my questions must be confined within the compass of
the times they lived in. And one thing I might depend upon, that
they would certainly tell me the truth, for lying was a talent of
no use in the lower world."

I made my humble acknowledgments to his highness for so great a
favour. We were in a chamber, from whence there was a fair
prospect into the park. And because my first inclination was to be
entertained with scenes of pomp and magnificence, I desired to see
Alexander the Great at the head of his army, just after the battle
of Arbela: which, upon a motion of the governor's finger,
immediately appeared in a large field, under the window where we
stood. Alexander was called up into the room: it was with great
difficulty that I understood his Greek, and had but little of my
own. He assured me upon his honour "that he was not poisoned, but
died of a bad fever by excessive drinking."

Next, I saw Hannibal passing the Alps, who told me "he had not a
drop of vinegar in his camp."

I saw Caesar and Pompey at the head of their troops, just ready to
engage. I saw the former, in his last great triumph. I desired
that the senate of Rome might appear before me, in one large
chamber, and an assembly of somewhat a later age in counterview, in
another. The first seemed to be an assembly of heroes and
demigods; the other, a knot of pedlars, pick-pockets, highwayman,
and bullies.

The governor, at my request, gave the sign for Caesar and Brutus to
advance towards us. I was struck with a profound veneration at the
sight of Brutus, and could easily discover the most consummate
virtue, the greatest intrepidity and firmness of mind, the truest
love of his country, and general benevolence for mankind, in every
lineament of his countenance. I observed, with much pleasure, that
these two persons were in good intelligence with each other; and
Caesar freely confessed to me, "that the greatest actions of his
own life were not equal, by many degrees, to the glory of taking it
away." I had the honour to have much conversation with Brutus; and
was told, "that his ancestor Junius, Socrates, Epaminondas, Cato
the younger, Sir Thomas More, and himself were perpetually
together:" a sextumvirate, to which all the ages of the world
cannot add a seventh.

It would be tedious to trouble the reader with relating what vast
numbers of illustrious persons were called up to gratify that
insatiable desire I had to see the world in every period of
antiquity placed before me. I chiefly fed mine eyes with beholding
the destroyers of tyrants and usurpers, and the restorers of
liberty to oppressed and injured nations. But it is impossible to
express the satisfaction I received in my own mind, after such a
manner as to make it a suitable entertainment to the reader.


[A further account of Glubbdubdrib. Ancient and modern history

Having a desire to see those ancients who were most renowned for
wit and learning, I set apart one day on purpose. I proposed that
Homer and Aristotle might appear at the head of all their
commentators; but these were so numerous, that some hundreds were
forced to attend in the court, and outward rooms of the palace. I
knew, and could distinguish those two heroes, at first sight, not
only from the crowd, but from each other. Homer was the taller and
comelier person of the two, walked very erect for one of his age,
and his eyes were the most quick and piercing I ever beheld.
Aristotle stooped much, and made use of a staff. His visage was
meagre, his hair lank and thin, and his voice hollow. I soon
discovered that both of them were perfect strangers to the rest of
the company, and had never seen or heard of them before; and I had
a whisper from a ghost who shall be nameless, "that these
commentators always kept in the most distant quarters from their
principals, in the lower world, through a consciousness of shame
and guilt, because they had so horribly misrepresented the meaning
of those authors to posterity." I introduced Didymus and
Eustathius to Homer, and prevailed on him to treat them better than
perhaps they deserved, for he soon found they wanted a genius to
enter into the spirit of a poet. But Aristotle was out of all
patience with the account I gave him of Scotus and Ramus, as I
presented them to him; and he asked them, "whether the rest of the
tribe were as great dunces as themselves?"

I then desired the governor to call up Descartes and Gassendi, with
whom I prevailed to explain their systems to Aristotle. This great
philosopher freely acknowledged his own mistakes in natural
philosophy, because he proceeded in many things upon conjecture, as
all men must do; and he found that Gassendi, who had made the
doctrine of Epicurus as palatable as he could, and the vortices of
Descartes, were equally to be exploded. He predicted the same fate
to ATTRACTION, whereof the present learned are such zealous
asserters. He said, "that new systems of nature were but new
fashions, which would vary in every age; and even those, who
pretend to demonstrate them from mathematical principles, would
flourish but a short period of time, and be out of vogue when that
was determined."

I spent five days in conversing with many others of the ancient
learned. I saw most of the first Roman emperors. I prevailed on
the governor to call up Heliogabalus's cooks to dress us a dinner,
but they could not show us much of their skill, for want of
materials. A helot of Agesilaus made us a dish of Spartan broth,
but I was not able to get down a second spoonful.

The two gentlemen, who conducted me to the island, were pressed by
their private affairs to return in three days, which I employed in
seeing some of the modern dead, who had made the greatest figure,
for two or three hundred years past, in our own and other countries
of Europe; and having been always a great admirer of old
illustrious families, I desired the governor would call up a dozen
or two of kings, with their ancestors in order for eight or nine
generations. But my disappointment was grievous and unexpected.
For, instead of a long train with royal diadems, I saw in one
family two fiddlers, three spruce courtiers, and an Italian
prelate. In another, a barber, an abbot, and two cardinals. I
have too great a veneration for crowned heads, to dwell any longer
on so nice a subject. But as to counts, marquises, dukes, earls,
and the like, I was not so scrupulous. And I confess, it was not
without some pleasure, that I found myself able to trace the
particular features, by which certain families are distinguished,
up to their originals. I could plainly discover whence one family
derives a long chin; why a second has abounded with knaves for two
generations, and fools for two more; why a third happened to be
crack-brained, and a fourth to be sharpers; whence it came, what
Polydore Virgil says of a certain great house, Nec vir fortis, nec
foemina casta; how cruelty, falsehood, and cowardice, grew to be
characteristics by which certain families are distinguished as much
as by their coats of arms; who first brought the pox into a noble
house, which has lineally descended scrofulous tumours to their
posterity. Neither could I wonder at all this, when I saw such an
interruption of lineages, by pages, lackeys, valets, coachmen,
gamesters, fiddlers, players, captains, and pickpockets.

I was chiefly disgusted with modern history. For having strictly
examined all the persons of greatest name in the courts of princes,
for a hundred years past, I found how the world had been misled by
prostitute writers, to ascribe the greatest exploits in war, to
cowards; the wisest counsel, to fools; sincerity, to flatterers;
Roman virtue, to betrayers of their country; piety, to atheists;
chastity, to sodomites; truth, to informers: how many innocent and
excellent persons had been condemned to death or banishment by the
practising of great ministers upon the corruption of judges, and
the malice of factions: how many villains had been exalted to the
highest places of trust, power, dignity, and profit: how great a
share in the motions and events of courts, councils, and senates
might be challenged by bawds, whores, pimps, parasites, and
buffoons. How low an opinion I had of human wisdom and integrity,
when I was truly informed of the springs and motives of great
enterprises and revolutions in the world, and of the contemptible
accidents to which they owed their success.

Here I discovered the roguery and ignorance of those who pretend to
write anecdotes, or secret history; who send so many kings to their
graves with a cup of poison; will repeat the discourse between a
prince and chief minister, where no witness was by; unlock the
thoughts and cabinets of ambassadors and secretaries of state; and
have the perpetual misfortune to be mistaken. Here I discovered
the true causes of many great events that have surprised the world;
how a whore can govern the back-stairs, the back-stairs a council,
and the council a senate. A general confessed, in my presence,
"that he got a victory purely by the force of cowardice and ill
conduct;" and an admiral, "that, for want of proper intelligence,
he beat the enemy, to whom he intended to betray the fleet." Three
kings protested to me, "that in their whole reigns they never did
once prefer any person of merit, unless by mistake, or treachery of
some minister in whom they confided; neither would they do it if
they were to live again:" and they showed, with great strength of
reason, "that the royal throne could not be supported without
corruption, because that positive, confident, restiff temper, which
virtue infused into a man, was a perpetual clog to public

I had the curiosity to inquire in a particular manner, by what
methods great numbers had procured to themselves high titles of
honour, and prodigious estates; and I confined my inquiry to a very
modern period: however, without grating upon present times,
because I would be sure to give no offence even to foreigners (for
I hope the reader need not be told, that I do not in the least
intend my own country, in what I say upon this occasion,) a great
number of persons concerned were called up; and, upon a very slight
examination, discovered such a scene of infamy, that I cannot
reflect upon it without some seriousness. Perjury, oppression,
subornation, fraud, pandarism, and the like infirmities, were among
the most excusable arts they had to mention; and for these I gave,
as it was reasonable, great allowance. But when some confessed
they owed their greatness and wealth to sodomy, or incest; others,
to the prostituting of their own wives and daughters; others, to
the betraying of their country or their prince; some, to poisoning;
more to the perverting of justice, in order to destroy the
innocent, I hope I may be pardoned, if these discoveries inclined
me a little to abate of that profound veneration, which I am
naturally apt to pay to persons of high rank, who ought to be
treated with the utmost respect due to their sublime dignity, by us
their inferiors.

I had often read of some great services done to princes and states,
and desired to see the persons by whom those services were
performed. Upon inquiry I was told, "that their names were to be
found on no record, except a few of them, whom history has
represented as the vilest of rogues and traitors." As to the rest,
I had never once heard of them. They all appeared with dejected
looks, and in the meanest habit; most of them telling me, "they
died in poverty and disgrace, and the rest on a scaffold or a

Among others, there was one person, whose case appeared a little
singular. He had a youth about eighteen years old standing by his
side. He told me, "he had for many years been commander of a ship;
and in the sea fight at Actium had the good fortune to break
through the enemy's great line of battle, sink three of their
capital ships, and take a fourth, which was the sole cause of
Antony's flight, and of the victory that ensued; that the youth
standing by him, his only son, was killed in the action." He
added, "that upon the confidence of some merit, the war being at an
end, he went to Rome, and solicited at the court of Augustus to be
preferred to a greater ship, whose commander had been killed; but,
without any regard to his pretensions, it was given to a boy who
had never seen the sea, the son of Libertina, who waited on one of
the emperor's mistresses. Returning back to his own vessel, he was
charged with neglect of duty, and the ship given to a favourite
page of Publicola, the vice-admiral; whereupon he retired to a poor
farm at a great distance from Rome, and there ended his life." I
was so curious to know the truth of this story, that I desired
Agrippa might be called, who was admiral in that fight. He
appeared, and confirmed the whole account: but with much more
advantage to the captain, whose modesty had extenuated or concealed
a great part of his merit.

I was surprised to find corruption grown so high and so quick in
that empire, by the force of luxury so lately introduced; which
made me less wonder at many parallel cases in other countries,
where vices of all kinds have reigned so much longer, and where the
whole praise, as well as pillage, has been engrossed by the chief
commander, who perhaps had the least title to either.

As every person called up made exactly the same appearance he had
done in the world, it gave me melancholy reflections to observe how
much the race of human kind was degenerated among us within these
hundred years past; how the pox, under all its consequences and
denominations had altered every lineament of an English
countenance; shortened the size of bodies, unbraced the nerves,
relaxed the sinews and muscles, introduced a sallow complexion, and
rendered the flesh loose and rancid.

I descended so low, as to desire some English yeoman of the old
stamp might be summoned to appear; once so famous for the
simplicity of their manners, diet, and dress; for justice in their
dealings; for their true spirit of liberty; for their valour, and
love of their country. Neither could I be wholly unmoved, after
comparing the living with the dead, when I considered how all these
pure native virtues were prostituted for a piece of money by their
grand-children; who, in selling their votes and managing at
elections, have acquired every vice and corruption that can
possibly be learned in a court.


[The author returns to Maldonada. Sails to the kingdom of
Luggnagg. The author confined. He is sent for to court. The
manner of his admittance. The king's great lenity to his

The day of our departure being come, I took leave of his highness,
the Governor of Glubbdubdrib, and returned with my two companions
to Maldonada, where, after a fortnight's waiting, a ship was ready
to sail for Luggnagg. The two gentlemen, and some others, were so
generous and kind as to furnish me with provisions, and see me on
board. I was a month in this voyage. We had one violent storm,
and were under a necessity of steering westward to get into the
trade wind, which holds for above sixty leagues. On the 21st of
April, 1708, we sailed into the river of Clumegnig, which is a
seaport town, at the south-east point of Luggnagg. We cast anchor
within a league of the town, and made a signal for a pilot. Two of
them came on board in less than half an hour, by whom we were
guided between certain shoals and rocks, which are very dangerous
in the passage, to a large basin, where a fleet may ride in safety
within a cable's length of the town-wall.

Some of our sailors, whether out of treachery or inadvertence, had
informed the pilots "that I was a stranger, and great traveller;"
whereof these gave notice to a custom-house officer, by whom I was
examined very strictly upon my landing. This officer spoke to me
in the language of Balnibarbi, which, by the force of much
commerce, is generally understood in that town, especially by
seamen and those employed in the customs. I gave him a short
account of some particulars, and made my story as plausible and
consistent as I could; but I thought it necessary to disguise my
country, and call myself a Hollander; because my intentions were
for Japan, and I knew the Dutch were the only Europeans permitted
to enter into that kingdom. I therefore told the officer, "that
having been shipwrecked on the coast of Balnibarbi, and cast on a
rock, I was received up into Laputa, or the flying island (of which
he had often heard), and was now endeavouring to get to Japan,
whence I might find a convenience of returning to my own country."
The officer said, "I must be confined till he could receive orders
from court, for which he would write immediately, and hoped to
receive an answer in a fortnight." I was carried to a convenient
lodging with a sentry placed at the door; however, I had the
liberty of a large garden, and was treated with humanity enough,
being maintained all the time at the king's charge. I was invited
by several persons, chiefly out of curiosity, because it was
reported that I came from countries very remote, of which they had
never heard.

I hired a young man, who came in the same ship, to be an
interpreter; he was a native of Luggnagg, but had lived some years
at Maldonada, and was a perfect master of both languages. By his
assistance, I was able to hold a conversation with those who came
to visit me; but this consisted only of their questions, and my

The despatch came from court about the time we expected. It
contained a warrant for conducting me and my retinue to
Traldragdubh, or Trildrogdrib (for it is pronounced both ways as
near as I can remember), by a party of ten horse. All my retinue
was that poor lad for an interpreter, whom I persuaded into my
service, and, at my humble request, we had each of us a mule to
ride on. A messenger was despatched half a day's journey before
us, to give the king notice of my approach, and to desire, "that
his majesty would please to appoint a day and hour, when it would
by his gracious pleasure that I might have the honour to lick the
dust before his footstool." This is the court style, and I found
it to be more than matter of form: for, upon my admittance two
days after my arrival, I was commanded to crawl upon my belly, and
lick the floor as I advanced; but, on account of my being a
stranger, care was taken to have it made so clean, that the dust
was not offensive. However, this was a peculiar grace, not allowed
to any but persons of the highest rank, when they desire an
admittance. Nay, sometimes the floor is strewed with dust on
purpose, when the person to be admitted happens to have powerful
enemies at court; and I have seen a great lord with his mouth so
crammed, that when he had crept to the proper distance from the
throne; he was not able to speak a word. Neither is there any
remedy; because it is capital for those, who receive an audience to
spit or wipe their mouths in his majesty's presence. There is
indeed another custom, which I cannot altogether approve of: when
the king has a mind to put any of his nobles to death in a gentle
indulgent manner, he commands the floor to be strewed with a
certain brown powder of a deadly composition, which being licked
up, infallibly kills him in twenty-four hours. But in justice to
this prince's great clemency, and the care he has of his subjects'
lives (wherein it were much to be wished that the Monarchs of
Europe would imitate him), it must be mentioned for his honour,
that strict orders are given to have the infected parts of the
floor well washed after every such execution, which, if his
domestics neglect, they are in danger of incurring his royal
displeasure. I myself heard him give directions, that one of his
pages should be whipped, whose turn it was to give notice about
washing the floor after an execution, but maliciously had omitted
it; by which neglect a young lord of great hopes, coming to an
audience, was unfortunately poisoned, although the king at that
time had no design against his life. But this good prince was so
gracious as to forgive the poor page his whipping, upon promise
that he would do so no more, without special orders.

To return from this digression. When I had crept within four yards
of the throne, I raised myself gently upon my knees, and then
striking my forehead seven times against the ground, I pronounced
the following words, as they had been taught me the night before,
Inckpling gloffthrobb squut serummblhiop mlashnalt zwin
tnodbalkuffh slhiophad gurdlubh asht. This is the compliment,
established by the laws of the land, for all persons admitted to
the king's presence. It may be rendered into English thus: "May
your celestial majesty outlive the sun, eleven moons and a half!"
To this the king returned some answer, which, although I could not
understand, yet I replied as I had been directed: Fluft drin
yalerick dwuldom prastrad mirpush, which properly signifies, "My
tongue is in the mouth of my friend;" and by this expression was
meant, that I desired leave to bring my interpreter; whereupon the
young man already mentioned was accordingly introduced, by whose
intervention I answered as many questions as his majesty could put
in above an hour. I spoke in the Balnibarbian tongue, and my
interpreter delivered my meaning in that of Luggnagg.

The king was much delighted with my company, and ordered his
bliffmarklub, or high-chamberlain, to appoint a lodging in the
court for me and my interpreter; with a daily allowance for my
table, and a large purse of gold for my common expenses.

I staid three months in this country, out of perfect obedience to
his majesty; who was pleased highly to favour me, and made me very
honourable offers. But I thought it more consistent with prudence
and justice to pass the remainder of my days with my wife and


[The Luggnaggians commended. A particular description of the
Struldbrugs, with many conversations between the author and some
eminent persons upon that subject.]

The Luggnaggians are a polite and generous people; and although
they are not without some share of that pride which is peculiar to
all Eastern countries, yet they show themselves courteous to
strangers, especially such who are countenanced by the court. I
had many acquaintance, and among persons of the best fashion; and
being always attended by my interpreter, the conversation we had
was not disagreeable.

One day, in much good company, I was asked by a person of quality,
"whether I had seen any of their struldbrugs, or immortals?" I
said, "I had not;" and desired he would explain to me "what he
meant by such an appellation, applied to a mortal creature." He
told me "that sometimes, though very rarely, a child happened to be
born in a family, with a red circular spot in the forehead,
directly over the left eyebrow, which was an infallible mark that
it should never die." The spot, as he described it, "was about the
compass of a silver threepence, but in the course of time grew
larger, and changed its colour; for at twelve years old it became
green, so continued till five and twenty, then turned to a deep
blue: at five and forty it grew coal black, and as large as an
English shilling; but never admitted any further alteration." He
said, "these births were so rare, that he did not believe there
could be above eleven hundred struldbrugs, of both sexes, in the
whole kingdom; of which he computed about fifty in the metropolis,
and, among the rest, a young girl born; about three years ago:
that these productions were not peculiar to any family, but a mere
effect of chance; and the children of the struldbrugs themselves
were equally mortal with the rest of the people."

I freely own myself to have been struck with inexpressible delight,
upon hearing this account: and the person who gave it me happening
to understand the Balnibarbian language, which I spoke very well, I
could not forbear breaking out into expressions, perhaps a little
too extravagant. I cried out, as in a rapture, "Happy nation,
where every child hath at least a chance for being immortal! Happy
people, who enjoy so many living examples of ancient virtue, and
have masters ready to instruct them in the wisdom of all former
ages! but happiest, beyond all comparison, are those excellent
struldbrugs, who, being born exempt from that universal calamity of
human nature, have their minds free and disengaged, without the
weight and depression of spirits caused by the continual
apprehensions of death!" I discovered my admiration that I had not
observed any of these illustrious persons at court; the black spot
on the forehead being so remarkable a distinction, that I could not
have easily overlooked it: and it was impossible that his majesty,
a most judicious prince, should not provide himself with a good
number of such wise and able counsellors. Yet perhaps the virtue
of those reverend sages was too strict for the corrupt and
libertine manners of a court: and we often find by experience,
that young men are too opinionated and volatile to be guided by the
sober dictates of their seniors. However, since the king was
pleased to allow me access to his royal person, I was resolved,
upon the very first occasion, to deliver my opinion to him on this
matter freely and at large, by the help of my interpreter; and
whether he would please to take my advice or not, yet in one thing
I was determined, that his majesty having frequently offered me an
establishment in this country, I would, with great thankfulness,
accept the favour, and pass my life here in the conversation of
those superior beings the struldbrugs, if they would please to
admit me."

The gentleman to whom I addressed my discourse, because (as I have
already observed) he spoke the language of Balnibarbi, said to me,
with a sort of a smile which usually arises from pity to the
ignorant, "that he was glad of any occasion to keep me among them,
and desired my permission to explain to the company what I had
spoke." He did so, and they talked together for some time in their
own language, whereof I understood not a syllable, neither could I
observe by their countenances, what impression my discourse had
made on them. After a short silence, the same person told me,
"that his friends and mine (so he thought fit to express himself)
were very much pleased with the judicious remarks I had made on the
great happiness and advantages of immortal life, and they were
desirous to know, in a particular manner, what scheme of living I
should have formed to myself, if it had fallen to my lot to have
been born a struldbrug."

I answered, "it was easy to be eloquent on so copious and
delightful a subject, especially to me, who had been often apt to
amuse myself with visions of what I should do, if I were a king, a
general, or a great lord: and upon this very case, I had
frequently run over the whole system how I should employ myself,
and pass the time, if I were sure to live for ever.

"That, if it had been my good fortune to come into the world a
struldbrug, as soon as I could discover my own happiness, by
understanding the difference between life and death, I would first
resolve, by all arts and methods, whatsoever, to procure myself
riches. In the pursuit of which, by thrift and management, I might
reasonably expect, in about two hundred years, to be the wealthiest
man in the kingdom. In the second place, I would, from my earliest
youth, apply myself to the study of arts and sciences, by which I
should arrive in time to excel all others in learning. Lastly, I
would carefully record every action and event of consequence, that
happened in the public, impartially draw the characters of the
several successions of princes and great ministers of state, with
my own observations on every point. I would exactly set down the
several changes in customs, language, fashions of dress, diet, and
diversions. By all which acquirements, I should be a living
treasure of knowledge and wisdom, and certainly become the oracle
of the nation.

"I would never marry after threescore, but live in a hospitable
manner, yet still on the saving side. I would entertain myself in
forming and directing the minds of hopeful young men, by convincing
them, from my own remembrance, experience, and observation,
fortified by numerous examples, of the usefulness of virtue in
public and private life. But my choice and constant companions
should be a set of my own immortal brotherhood; among whom, I would
elect a dozen from the most ancient, down to my own contemporaries.
Where any of these wanted fortunes, I would provide them with
convenient lodges round my own estate, and have some of them always
at my table; only mingling a few of the most valuable among you
mortals, whom length of time would harden me to lose with little or
no reluctance, and treat your posterity after the same manner; just
as a man diverts himself with the annual succession of pinks and
tulips in his garden, without regretting the loss of those which
withered the preceding year.

"These struldbrugs and I would mutually communicate our
observations and memorials, through the course of time; remark the
several gradations by which corruption steals into the world, and
oppose it in every step, by giving perpetual warning and
instruction to mankind; which, added to the strong influence of our
own example, would probably prevent that continual degeneracy of
human nature so justly complained of in all ages.

"Add to this, the pleasure of seeing the various revolutions of
states and empires; the changes in the lower and upper world;
ancient cities in ruins, and obscure villages become the seats of
kings; famous rivers lessening into shallow brooks; the ocean
leaving one coast dry, and overwhelming another; the discovery of
many countries yet unknown; barbarity overrunning the politest
nations, and the most barbarous become civilized. I should then
see the discovery of the longitude, the perpetual motion, the
universal medicine, and many other great inventions, brought to the
utmost perfection.

"What wonderful discoveries should we make in astronomy, by
outliving and confirming our own predictions; by observing the
progress and return of comets, with the changes of motion in the
sun, moon, and stars!"

I enlarged upon many other topics, which the natural desire of
endless life, and sublunary happiness, could easily furnish me
with. When I had ended, and the sum of my discourse had been
interpreted, as before, to the rest of the company, there was a
good deal of talk among them in the language of the country, not
without some laughter at my expense. At last, the same gentleman
who had been my interpreter, said, "he was desired by the rest to
set me right in a few mistakes, which I had fallen into through the
common imbecility of human nature, and upon that allowance was less
answerable for them. That this breed of struldbrugs was peculiar
to their country, for there were no such people either in
Balnibarbi or Japan, where he had the honour to be ambassador from
his majesty, and found the natives in both those kingdoms very hard
to believe that the fact was possible: and it appeared from my
astonishment when he first mentioned the matter to me, that I
received it as a thing wholly new, and scarcely to be credited.
That in the two kingdoms above mentioned, where, during his
residence, he had conversed very much, he observed long life to be
the universal desire and wish of mankind. That whoever had one
foot in the grave was sure to hold back the other as strongly as he
could. That the oldest had still hopes of living one day longer,
and looked on death as the greatest evil, from which nature always
prompted him to retreat. Only in this island of Luggnagg the
appetite for living was not so eager, from the continual example of
the struldbrugs before their eyes.

"That the system of living contrived by me, was unreasonable and
unjust; because it supposed a perpetuity of youth, health, and
vigour, which no man could be so foolish to hope, however
extravagant he may be in his wishes. That the question therefore
was not, whether a man would choose to be always in the prime of
youth, attended with prosperity and health; but how he would pass a
perpetual life under all the usual disadvantages which old age
brings along with it. For although few men will avow their desires
of being immortal, upon such hard conditions, yet in the two
kingdoms before mentioned, of Balnibarbi and Japan, he observed
that every man desired to put off death some time longer, let it
approach ever so late: and he rarely heard of any man who died
willingly, except he were incited by the extremity of grief or
torture. And he appealed to me, whether in those countries I had
travelled, as well as my own, I had not observed the same general

After this preface, he gave me a particular account of the
struldbrugs among them. He said, "they commonly acted like mortals
till about thirty years old; after which, by degrees, they grew
melancholy and dejected, increasing in both till they came to
fourscore. This he learned from their own confession: for
otherwise, there not being above two or three of that species born
in an age, they were too few to form a general observation by.
When they came to fourscore years, which is reckoned the extremity
of living in this country, they had not only all the follies and
infirmities of other old men, but many more which arose from the
dreadful prospect of never dying. They were not only opinionative,
peevish, covetous, morose, vain, talkative, but incapable of
friendship, and dead to all natural affection, which never
descended below their grandchildren. Envy and impotent desires are
their prevailing passions. But those objects against which their
envy seems principally directed, are the vices of the younger sort
and the deaths of the old. By reflecting on the former, they find
themselves cut off from all possibility of pleasure; and whenever
they see a funeral, they lament and repine that others have gone to
a harbour of rest to which they themselves never can hope to
arrive. They have no remembrance of anything but what they learned
and observed in their youth and middle-age, and even that is very
imperfect; and for the truth or particulars of any fact, it is
safer to depend on common tradition, than upon their best
recollections. The least miserable among them appear to be those
who turn to dotage, and entirely lose their memories; these meet
with more pity and assistance, because they want many bad qualities
which abound in others.

"If a struldbrug happen to marry one of his own kind, the marriage
is dissolved of course, by the courtesy of the kingdom, as soon as
the younger of the two comes to be fourscore; for the law thinks it
a reasonable indulgence, that those who are condemned, without any
fault of their own, to a perpetual continuance in the world, should
not have their misery doubled by the load of a wife.

"As soon as they have completed the term of eighty years, they are
looked on as dead in law; their heirs immediately succeed to their
estates; only a small pittance is reserved for their support; and
the poor ones are maintained at the public charge. After that
period, they are held incapable of any employment of trust or
profit; they cannot purchase lands, or take leases; neither are
they allowed to be witnesses in any cause, either civil or
criminal, not even for the decision of meers and bounds.

"At ninety, they lose their teeth and hair; they have at that age
no distinction of taste, but eat and drink whatever they can get,
without relish or appetite. The diseases they were subject to
still continue, without increasing or diminishing. In talking,
they forget the common appellation of things, and the names of
persons, even of those who are their nearest friends and relations.
For the same reason, they never can amuse themselves with reading,
because their memory will not serve to carry them from the
beginning of a sentence to the end; and by this defect, they are
deprived of the only entertainment whereof they might otherwise be

The language of this country being always upon the flux, the
struldbrugs of one age do not understand those of another; neither
are they able, after two hundred years, to hold any conversation
(farther than by a few general words) with their neighbours the
mortals; and thus they lie under the disadvantage of living like
foreigners in their own country."

This was the account given me of the struldbrugs, as near as I can
remember. I afterwards saw five or six of different ages, the
youngest not above two hundred years old, who were brought to me at
several times by some of my friends; but although they were told,
"that I was a great traveller, and had seen all the world," they
had not the least curiosity to ask me a question; only desired "I
would give them slumskudask," or a token of remembrance; which is a
modest way of begging, to avoid the law, that strictly forbids it,
because they are provided for by the public, although indeed with a
very scanty allowance.

They are despised and hated by all sorts of people. When one of
them is born, it is reckoned ominous, and their birth is recorded
very particularly so that you may know their age by consulting the
register, which, however, has not been kept above a thousand years
past, or at least has been destroyed by time or public
disturbances. But the usual way of computing how old they are, is
by asking them what kings or great persons they can remember, and
then consulting history; for infallibly the last prince in their
mind did not begin his reign after they were fourscore years old.

They were the most mortifying sight I ever beheld; and the women
more horrible than the men. Besides the usual deformities in
extreme old age, they acquired an additional ghastliness, in
proportion to their number of years, which is not to be described;
and among half a dozen, I soon distinguished which was the eldest,
although there was not above a century or two between them.

The reader will easily believe, that from what I had hear and seen,
my keen appetite for perpetuity of life was much abated. I grew
heartily ashamed of the pleasing visions I had formed; and thought
no tyrant could invent a death into which I would not run with
pleasure, from such a life. The king heard of all that had passed
between me and my friends upon this occasion, and rallied me very
pleasantly; wishing I could send a couple of struldbrugs to my own
country, to arm our people against the fear of death; but this, it
seems, is forbidden by the fundamental laws of the kingdom, or else
I should have been well content with the trouble and expense of
transporting them.

I could not but agree, that the laws of this kingdom relative to
the struldbrugs were founded upon the strongest reasons, and such
as any other country would be under the necessity of enacting, in
the like circumstances. Otherwise, as avarice is the necessary
consequence of old age, those immortals would in time become
proprietors of the whole nation, and engross the civil power,
which, for want of abilities to manage, must end in the ruin of the


[The author leaves Luggnagg, and sails to Japan. From thence he
returns in a Dutch ship to Amsterdam, and from Amsterdam to

I thought this account of the struldbrugs might be some
entertainment to the reader, because it seems to be a little out of
the common way; at least I do not remember to have met the like in
any book of travels that has come to my hands: and if I am
deceived, my excuse must be, that it is necessary for travellers
who describe the same country, very often to agree in dwelling on
the same particulars, without deserving the censure of having
borrowed or transcribed from those who wrote before them.

There is indeed a perpetual commerce between this kingdom and the
great empire of Japan; and it is very probable, that the Japanese
authors may have given some account of the struldbrugs; but my stay
in Japan was so short, and I was so entirely a stranger to the
language, that I was not qualified to make any inquiries. But I
hope the Dutch, upon this notice, will be curious and able enough
to supply my defects.

His majesty having often pressed me to accept some employment in
his court, and finding me absolutely determined to return to my
native country, was pleased to give me his license to depart; and
honoured me with a letter of recommendation, under his own hand, to
the Emperor of Japan. He likewise presented me with four hundred
and forty-four large pieces of gold (this nation delighting in even
numbers), and a red diamond, which I sold in England for eleven
hundred pounds.

On the 6th of May, 1709, I took a solemn leave of his majesty, and
all my friends. This prince was so gracious as to order a guard to
conduct me to Glanguenstald, which is a royal port to the south-
west part of the island. In six days I found a vessel ready to
carry me to Japan, and spent fifteen days in the voyage. We landed
at a small port-town called Xamoschi, situated on the south-east
part of Japan; the town lies on the western point, where there is a
narrow strait leading northward into along arm of the sea, upon the
north-west part of which, Yedo, the metropolis, stands. At
landing, I showed the custom-house officers my letter from the king
of Luggnagg to his imperial majesty. They knew the seal perfectly
well; it was as broad as the palm of my hand. The impression was,
the town, hearing of my letter, received me as a public minister.
They provided me with carriages and servants, and bore my charges
to Yedo; where I was admitted to an audience, and delivered my
letter, which was opened with great ceremony, and explained to the
Emperor by an interpreter, who then gave me notice, by his
majesty's order, "that I should signify my request, and, whatever
it were, it should be granted, for the sake of his royal brother of
Luggnagg." This interpreter was a person employed to transact
affairs with the Hollanders. He soon conjectured, by my
countenance, that I was a European, and therefore repeated his
majesty's commands in Low Dutch, which he spoke perfectly well. I
answered, as I had before determined, "that I was a Dutch merchant,
shipwrecked in a very remote country, whence I had travelled by sea
and land to Luggnagg, and then took shipping for Japan; where I
knew my countrymen often traded, and with some of these I hoped to
get an opportunity of returning into Europe: I therefore most
humbly entreated his royal favour, to give order that I should be
conducted in safety to Nangasac." To this I added another
petition, "that for the sake of my patron the king of Luggnagg, his
majesty would condescend to excuse my performing the ceremony
imposed on my countrymen, of trampling upon the crucifix: because
I had been thrown into his kingdom by my misfortunes, without any
intention of trading." When this latter petition was interpreted
to the Emperor, he seemed a little surprised; and said, "he
believed I was the first of my countrymen who ever made any scruple
in this point; and that he began to doubt, whether I was a real
Hollander, or not; but rather suspected I must be a Christian.
However, for the reasons I had offered, but chiefly to gratify the
king of Luggnagg by an uncommon mark of his favour, he would comply
with the singularity of my humour; but the affair must be managed
with dexterity, and his officers should be commanded to let me
pass, as it were by forgetfulness. For he assured me, that if the
secret should be discovered by my countrymen the Dutch, they would
cut my throat in the voyage." I returned my thanks, by the
interpreter, for so unusual a favour; and some troops being at that
time on their march to Nangasac, the commanding officer had orders
to convey me safe thither, with particular instructions about the
business of the crucifix.

On the 9th day of June, 1709, I arrived at Nangasac, after a very
long and troublesome journey. I soon fell into the company of some
Dutch sailors belonging to the Amboyna, of Amsterdam, a stout ship
of 450 tons. I had lived long in Holland, pursuing my studies at
Leyden, and I spoke Dutch well. The seamen soon knew whence I came
last: they were curious to inquire into my voyages and course of
life. I made up a story as short and probable as I could, but
concealed the greatest part. I knew many persons in Holland. I
was able to invent names for my parents, whom I pretended to be
obscure people in the province of Gelderland. I would have given
the captain (one Theodorus Vangrult) what he pleased to ask for my
voyage to Holland; but understanding I was a surgeon, he was
contented to take half the usual rate, on condition that I would
serve him in the way of my calling. Before we took shipping, I was
often asked by some of the crew, whether I had performed the
ceremony above mentioned? I evaded the question by general
answers; "that I had satisfied the Emperor and court in all
particulars." However, a malicious rogue of a skipper went to an
officer, and pointing to me, told him, "I had not yet trampled on
the crucifix;" but the other, who had received instructions to let
me pass, gave the rascal twenty strokes on the shoulders with a
bamboo; after which I was no more troubled with such questions.

Nothing happened worth mentioning in this voyage. We sailed with a
fair wind to the Cape of Good Hope, where we staid only to take in
fresh water. On the 10th of April, 1710, we arrived safe at
Amsterdam, having lost only three men by sickness in the voyage,
and a fourth, who fell from the foremast into the sea, not far from
the coast of Guinea. From Amsterdam I soon after set sail for
England, in a small vessel belonging to that city.

On the 16th of April we put in at the Downs. I landed next
morning, and saw once more my native country, after an absence of
five years and six months complete. I went straight to Redriff,
where I arrived the same day at two in the afternoon, and found my
wife and family in good health.



[The author sets out as captain of a ship. His men conspire
against him, confine him a long time to his cabin, and set him on
shore in an unknown land. He travels up into the country. The
Yahoos, a strange sort of animal, described. The author meets two

I continued at home with my wife and children about five months, in
a very happy condition, if I could have learned the lesson of
knowing when I was well. I left my poor wife big with child, and
accepted an advantageous offer made me to be captain of the
Adventurer, a stout merchantman of 350 tons: for I understood
navigation well, and being grown weary of a surgeon's employment at
sea, which, however, I could exercise upon occasion, I took a
skilful young man of that calling, one Robert Purefoy, into my
ship. We set sail from Portsmouth upon the 7th day of September,
1710; on the 14th we met with Captain Pocock, of Bristol, at
Teneriffe, who was going to the bay of Campechy to cut logwood. On
the 16th, he was parted from us by a storm; I heard since my
return, that his ship foundered, and none escaped but one cabin
boy. He was an honest man, and a good sailor, but a little too
positive in his own opinions, which was the cause of his
destruction, as it has been with several others; for if he had
followed my advice, he might have been safe at home with his family
at this time, as well as myself.

I had several men who died in my ship of calentures, so that I was
forced to get recruits out of Barbadoes and the Leeward Islands,
where I touched, by the direction of the merchants who employed me;
which I had soon too much cause to repent: for I found afterwards,
that most of them had been buccaneers. I had fifty hands onboard;
and my orders were, that I should trade with the Indians in the
South-Sea, and make what discoveries I could. These rogues, whom I
had picked up, debauched my other men, and they all formed a
conspiracy to seize the ship, and secure me; which they did one
morning, rushing into my cabin, and binding me hand and foot,
threatening to throw me overboard, if I offered to stir. I told
them, "I was their prisoner, and would submit." This they made me
swear to do, and then they unbound me, only fastening one of my
legs with a chain, near my bed, and placed a sentry at my door with
his piece charged, who was commanded to shoot me dead if I
attempted my liberty. They sent me own victuals and drink, and
took the government of the ship to themselves. Their design was to
turn pirates and, plunder the Spaniards, which they could not do
till they got more men. But first they resolved to sell the goods
the ship, and then go to Madagascar for recruits, several among
them having died since my confinement. They sailed many weeks, and
traded with the Indians; but I knew not what course they took,
being kept a close prisoner in my cabin, and expecting nothing less
than to be murdered, as they often threatened me.

Upon the 9th day of May, 1711, one James Welch came down to my
cabin, and said, "he had orders from the captain to set me ashore."
I expostulated with him, but in vain; neither would he so much as
tell me who their new captain was. They forced me into the long-
boat, letting me put on my best suit of clothes, which were as good
as new, and take a small bundle of linen, but no arms, except my
hanger; and they were so civil as not to search my pockets, into
which I conveyed what money I had, with some other little
necessaries. They rowed about a league, and then set me down on a
strand. I desired them to tell me what country it was. They all
swore, "they knew no more than myself;" but said, "that the
captain" (as they called him) "was resolved, after they had sold
the lading, to get rid of me in the first place where they could
discover land." They pushed off immediately, advising me to make
haste for fear of being overtaken by the tide, and so bade me

In this desolate condition I advanced forward, and soon got upon
firm ground, where I sat down on a bank to rest myself, and
consider what I had best do. When I was a little refreshed, I went
up into the country, resolving to deliver myself to the first
savages I should meet, and purchase my life from them by some
bracelets, glass rings, and other toys, which sailors usually
provide themselves with in those voyages, and whereof I had some
about me. The land was divided by long rows of trees, not
regularly planted, but naturally growing; there was great plenty of
grass, and several fields of oats. I walked very circumspectly,
for fear of being surprised, or suddenly shot with an arrow from
behind, or on either side. I fell into a beaten road, where I saw
many tracts of human feet, and some of cows, but most of horses.
At last I beheld several animals in a field, and one or two of the
same kind sitting in trees. Their shape was very singular and
deformed, which a little discomposed me, so that I lay down behind
a thicket to observe them better. Some of them coming forward near
the place where I lay, gave me an opportunity of distinctly marking
their form. Their heads and breasts were covered with a thick
hair, some frizzled, and others lank; they had beards like goats,
and a long ridge of hair down their backs, and the fore parts of
their legs and feet; but the rest of their bodies was bare, so that
I might see their skins, which were of a brown buff colour. They
had no tails, nor any hair at all on their buttocks, except about
the anus, which, I presume, nature had placed there to defend them
as they sat on the ground, for this posture they used, as well as
lying down, and often stood on their hind feet. They climbed high
trees as nimbly as a squirrel, for they had strong extended claws
before and behind, terminating in sharp points, and hooked. They
would often spring, and bound, and leap, with prodigious agility.
The females were not so large as the males; they had long lank hair
on their heads, but none on their faces, nor any thing more than a
sort of down on the rest of their bodies, except about the anus and
pudenda. The dugs hung between their fore feet, and often reached
almost to the ground as they walked. The hair of both sexes was of
several colours, brown, red, black, and yellow. Upon the whole, I
never beheld, in all my travels, so disagreeable an animal, or one
against which I naturally conceived so strong an antipathy. So
that, thinking I had seen enough, full of contempt and aversion, I
got up, and pursued the beaten road, hoping it might direct me to
the cabin of some Indian. I had not got far, when I met one of
these creatures full in my way, and coming up directly to me. The
ugly monster, when he saw me, distorted several ways, every feature
of his visage, and stared, as at an object he had never seen
before; then approaching nearer, lifted up his fore-paw, whether
out of curiosity or mischief I could not tell; but I drew my
hanger, and gave him a good blow with the flat side of it, for I
durst not strike with the edge, fearing the inhabitants might be
provoked against me, if they should come to know that I had killed
or maimed any of their cattle. When the beast felt the smart, he
drew back, and roared so loud, that a herd of at least forty came
flocking about me from the next field, howling and making odious
faces; but I ran to the body of a tree, and leaning my back against
it, kept them off by waving my hanger. Several of this cursed
brood, getting hold of the branches behind, leaped up into the
tree, whence they began to discharge their excrements on my head;
however, I escaped pretty well by sticking close to the stem of the
tree, but was almost stifled with the filth, which fell about me on
every side.

In the midst of this distress, I observed them all to run away on a
sudden as fast as they could; at which I ventured to leave the tree
and pursue the road, wondering what it was that could put them into
this fright. But looking on my left hand, I saw a horse walking
softly in the field; which my persecutors having sooner discovered,
was the cause of their flight. The horse started a little, when he
came near me, but soon recovering himself, looked full in my face
with manifest tokens of wonder; he viewed my hands and feet,
walking round me several times. I would have pursued my journey,
but he placed himself directly in the way, yet looking with a very
mild aspect, never offering the least violence. We stood gazing at
each other for some time; at last I took the boldness to reach my
hand towards his neck with a design to stroke it, using the common
style and whistle of jockeys, when they are going to handle a
strange horse. But this animal seemed to receive my civilities
with disdain, shook his head, and bent his brows, softly raising up
his right fore-foot to remove my hand. Then he neighed three or
four times, but in so different a cadence, that I almost began to
think he was speaking to himself, in some language of his own.

While he and I were thus employed, another horse came up; who
applying himself to the first in a very formal manner, they gently
struck each other's right hoof before, neighing several times by
turns, and varying the sound, which seemed to be almost articulate.
They went some paces off, as if it were to confer together, walking
side by side, backward and forward, like persons deliberating upon
some affair of weight, but often turning their eyes towards me, as
it were to watch that I might not escape. I was amazed to see such
actions and behaviour in brute beasts; and concluded with myself,
that if the inhabitants of this country were endued with a
proportionable degree of reason, they must needs be the wisest
people upon earth. This thought gave me so much comfort, that I
resolved to go forward, until I could discover some house or
village, or meet with any of the natives, leaving the two horses to
discourse together as they pleased. But the first, who was a
dapple gray, observing me to steal off, neighed after me in so
expressive a tone, that I fancied myself to understand what he
meant; whereupon I turned back, and came near to him to expect his
farther commands: but concealing my fear as much as I could, for I
began to be in some pain how this adventure might terminate; and
the reader will easily believe I did not much like my present

The two horses came up close to me, looking with great earnestness
upon my face and hands. The gray steed rubbed my hat all round
with his right fore-hoof, and discomposed it so much that I was
forced to adjust it better by taking it off and settling it again;
whereat, both he and his companion (who was a brown bay) appeared
to be much surprised: the latter felt the lappet of my coat, and
finding it to hang loose about me, they both looked with new signs
of wonder. He stroked my right hand, seeming to admire the
softness and colour; but he squeezed it so hard between his hoof
and his pastern, that I was forced to roar; after which they both
touched me with all possible tenderness. They were under great
perplexity about my shoes and stockings, which they felt very
often, neighing to each other, and using various gestures, not
unlike those of a philosopher, when he would attempt to solve some
new and difficult phenomenon.

Upon the whole, the behaviour of these animals was so orderly and
rational, so acute and judicious, that I at last concluded they
must needs be magicians, who had thus metamorphosed themselves upon
some design, and seeing a stranger in the way, resolved to divert
themselves with him; or, perhaps, were really amazed at the sight
of a man so very different in habit, feature, and complexion, from
those who might probably live in so remote a climate. Upon the
strength of this reasoning, I ventured to address them in the
following manner: "Gentlemen, if you be conjurers, as I have good
cause to believe, you can understand my language; therefore I make
bold to let your worships know that I am a poor distressed
Englishman, driven by his misfortunes upon your coast; and I
entreat one of you to let me ride upon his back, as if he were a
real horse, to some house or village where I can be relieved. In
return of which favour, I will make you a present of this knife and
bracelet," taking them out of my pocket. The two creatures stood
silent while I spoke, seeming to listen with great attention, and
when I had ended, they neighed frequently towards each other, as if
they were engaged in serious conversation. I plainly observed that
their language expressed the passions very well, and the words
might, with little pains, be resolved into an alphabet more easily
than the Chinese.

I could frequently distinguish the word Yahoo, which was repeated
by each of them several times: and although it was impossible for
me to conjecture what it meant, yet while the two horses were busy
in conversation, I endeavoured to practise this word upon my
tongue; and as soon as they were silent, I boldly pronounced Yahoo
in a loud voice, imitating at the same time, as near as I could,
the neighing of a horse; at which they were both visibly surprised;
and the gray repeated the same word twice, as if he meant to teach
me the right accent; wherein I spoke after him as well as I could,
and found myself perceivably to improve every time, though very far
from any degree of perfection. Then the bay tried me with a second
word, much harder to be pronounced; but reducing it to the English
orthography, may be spelt thus, Houyhnhnm. I did not succeed in
this so well as in the former; but after two or three farther
trials, I had better fortune; and they both appeared amazed at my

After some further discourse, which I then conjectured might relate
to me, the two friends took their leaves, with the same compliment
of striking each other's hoof; and the gray made me signs that I
should walk before him; wherein I thought it prudent to comply,
till I could find a better director. When I offered to slacken my
pace, he would cry hhuun hhuun: I guessed his meaning, and gave
him to understand, as well as I could, "that I was weary, and not
able to walk faster;" upon which he would stand awhile to let me


[The author conducted by a Houyhnhnm to his house. The house
described. The author's reception. The food of the Houyhnhnms.
The author in distress for want of meat. Is at last relieved. His
manner of feeding in this country.]

Having travelled about three miles, we came to a long kind of
building, made of timber stuck in the ground, and wattled across;
the roof was low and covered with straw. I now began to be a
little comforted; and took out some toys, which travellers usually
carry for presents to the savage Indians of America, and other
parts, in hopes the people of the house would be thereby encouraged
to receive me kindly. The horse made me a sign to go in first; it
was a large room with a smooth clay floor, and a rack and manger,
extending the whole length on one side. There were three nags and
two mares, not eating, but some of them sitting down upon their
hams, which I very much wondered at; but wondered more to see the
rest employed in domestic business; these seemed but ordinary
cattle. However, this confirmed my first opinion, that a people
who could so far civilise brute animals, must needs excel in wisdom
all the nations of the world. The gray came in just after, and
thereby prevented any ill treatment which the others might have
given me. He neighed to them several times in a style of
authority, and received answers.

Beyond this room there were three others, reaching the length of
the house, to which you passed through three doors, opposite to
each other, in the manner of a vista. We went through the second
room towards the third. Here the gray walked in first, beckoning
me to attend: I waited in the second room, and got ready my
presents for the master and mistress of the house; they were two
knives, three bracelets of false pearls, a small looking-glass, and
a bead necklace. The horse neighed three or four times, and I
waited to hear some answers in a human voice, but I heard no other
returns than in the same dialect, only one or two a little shriller
than his. I began to think that this house must belong to some
person of great note among them, because there appeared so much
ceremony before I could gain admittance. But, that a man of
quality should be served all by horses, was beyond my
comprehension. I feared my brain was disturbed by my sufferings
and misfortunes. I roused myself, and looked about me in the room
where I was left alone: this was furnished like the first, only
after a more elegant manner. I rubbed my eyes often, but the same
objects still occurred. I pinched my arms and sides to awake
myself, hoping I might be in a dream. I then absolutely concluded,
that all these appearances could be nothing else but necromancy and
magic. But I had no time to pursue these reflections; for the gray
horse came to the door, and made me a sign to follow him into the
third room where I saw a very comely mare, together with a colt and
foal, sitting on their haunches upon mats of straw, not unartfully
made, and perfectly neat and clean.

The mare soon after my entrance rose from her mat, and coming up
close, after having nicely observed my hands and face, gave me a
most contemptuous look; and turning to the horse, I heard the word
Yahoo often repeated betwixt them; the meaning of which word I
could not then comprehend, although it was the first I had learned
to pronounce. But I was soon better informed, to my everlasting
mortification; for the horse, beckoning to me with his head, and
repeating the hhuun, hhuun, as he did upon the road, which I
understood was to attend him, led me out into a kind of court,
where was another building, at some distance from the house. Here
we entered, and I saw three of those detestable creatures, which I
first met after my landing, feeding upon roots, and the flesh of
some animals, which I afterwards found to be that of asses and
dogs, and now and then a cow, dead by accident or disease. They
were all tied by the neck with strong withes fastened to a beam;
they held their food between the claws of their fore feet, and tore
it with their teeth.

The master horse ordered a sorrel nag, one of his servants, to
untie the largest of these animals, and take him into the yard.
The beast and I were brought close together, and by our
countenances diligently compared both by master and servant, who
thereupon repeated several times the word Yahoo. My horror and
astonishment are not to be described, when I observed in this
abominable animal, a perfect human figure: the face of it indeed
was flat and broad, the nose depressed, the lips large, and the
mouth wide; but these differences are common to all savage nations,
where the lineaments of the countenance are distorted, by the
natives suffering their infants to lie grovelling on the earth, or
by carrying them on their backs, nuzzling with their face against
the mothers' shoulders. The fore-feet of the Yahoo differed from
my hands in nothing else but the length of the nails, the
coarseness and brownness of the palms, and the hairiness on the
backs. There was the same resemblance between our feet, with the
same differences; which I knew very well, though the horses did
not, because of my shoes and stockings; the same in every part of
our bodies except as to hairiness and colour, which I have already

The great difficulty that seemed to stick with the two horses, was
to see the rest of my body so very different from that of a Yahoo,
for which I was obliged to my clothes, whereof they had no
conception. The sorrel nag offered me a root, which he held (after
their manner, as we shall describe in its proper place) between his
hoof and pastern; I took it in my hand, and, having smelt it,
returned it to him again as civilly as I could. He brought out of
the Yahoos' kennel a piece of ass's flesh; but it smelt so
offensively that I turned from it with loathing: he then threw it
to the Yahoo, by whom it was greedily devoured. He afterwards
showed me a wisp of hay, and a fetlock full of oats; but I shook my
head, to signify that neither of these were food for me. And
indeed I now apprehended that I must absolutely starve, if I did
not get to some of my own species; for as to those filthy Yahoos,
although there were few greater lovers of mankind at that time than
myself, yet I confess I never saw any sensitive being so detestable
on all accounts; and the more I came near them the more hateful
they grew, while I stayed in that country. This the master horse
observed by my behaviour, and therefore sent the Yahoo back to his
kennel. He then put his fore-hoof to his mouth, at which I was
much surprised, although he did it with ease, and with a motion
that appeared perfectly natural, and made other signs, to know what
I would eat; but I could not return him such an answer as he was
able to apprehend; and if he had understood me, I did not see how
it was possible to contrive any way for finding myself nourishment.
While we were thus engaged, I observed a cow passing by, whereupon
I pointed to her, and expressed a desire to go and milk her. This
had its effect; for he led me back into the house, and ordered a
mare-servant to open a room, where a good store of milk lay in
earthen and wooden vessels, after a very orderly and cleanly
manner. She gave me a large bowlful, of which I drank very
heartily, and found myself well refreshed.

About noon, I saw coming towards the house a kind of vehicle drawn
like a sledge by four Yahoos. There was in it an old steed, who
seemed to be of quality; he alighted with his hind-feet forward,
having by accident got a hurt in his left fore-foot. He came to
dine with our horse, who received him with great civility. They
dined in the best room, and had oats boiled in milk for the second
course, which the old horse ate warm, but the rest cold. Their
mangers were placed circular in the middle of the room, and divided
into several partitions, round which they sat on their haunches,
upon bosses of straw. In the middle was a large rack, with angles
answering to every partition of the manger; so that each horse and
mare ate their own hay, and their own mash of oats and milk, with
much decency and regularity. The behaviour of the young colt and
foal appeared very modest, and that of the master and mistress
extremely cheerful and complaisant to their guest. The gray
ordered me to stand by him; and much discourse passed between him
and his friend concerning me, as I found by the stranger's often
looking on me, and the frequent repetition of the word Yahoo.

I happened to wear my gloves, which the master gray observing,
seemed perplexed, discovering signs of wonder what I had done to my
fore-feet. He put his hoof three or four times to them, as if he
would signify, that I should reduce them to their former shape,
which I presently did, pulling off both my gloves, and putting them
into my pocket. This occasioned farther talk; and I saw the
company was pleased with my behaviour, whereof I soon found the
good effects. I was ordered to speak the few words I understood;
and while they were at dinner, the master taught me the names for
oats, milk, fire, water, and some others, which I could readily
pronounce after him, having from my youth a great facility in
learning languages.

When dinner was done, the master horse took me aside, and by signs
and words made me understand the concern he was in that I had
nothing to eat. Oats in their tongue are called hlunnh. This word
I pronounced two or three times; for although I had refused them at
first, yet, upon second thoughts, I considered that I could
contrive to make of them a kind of bread, which might be
sufficient, with milk, to keep me alive, till I could make my
escape to some other country, and to creatures of my own species.
The horse immediately ordered a white mare servant of his family to
bring me a good quantity of oats in a sort of wooden tray. These I
heated before the fire, as well as I could, and rubbed them till
the husks came off, which I made a shift to winnow from the grain.
I ground and beat them between two stones; then took water, and
made them into a paste or cake, which I toasted at the fire and eat
warm with milk. It was at first a very insipid diet, though common
enough in many parts of Europe, but grew tolerable by time; and
having been often reduced to hard fare in my life, this was not the
first experiment I had made how easily nature is satisfied. And I
cannot but observe, that I never had one hours sickness while I
stayed in this island. It is true, I sometimes made a shift to
catch a rabbit, or bird, by springs made of Yahoo's hairs; and I
often gathered wholesome herbs, which I boiled, and ate as salads
with my bread; and now and then, for a rarity, I made a little
butter, and drank the whey. I was at first at a great loss for
salt, but custom soon reconciled me to the want of it; and I am
confident that the frequent use of salt among us is an effect of
luxury, and was first introduced only as a provocative to drink,
except where it is necessary for preserving flesh in long voyages,
or in places remote from great markets; for we observe no animal to
be fond of it but man, and as to myself, when I left this country,
it was a great while before I could endure the taste of it in
anything that I ate.

This is enough to say upon the subject of my diet, wherewith other
travellers fill their books, as if the readers were personally
concerned whether we fare well or ill. However, it was necessary
to mention this matter, lest the world should think it impossible
that I could find sustenance for three years in such a country, and
among such inhabitants.

When it grew towards evening, the master horse ordered a place for
me to lodge in; it was but six yards from the house and separated
from the stable of the Yahoos. Here I got some straw, and covering
myself with my own clothes, slept very sound. But I was in a short
time better accommodated, as the reader shall know hereafter, when
I come to treat more particularly about my way of living.


[The author studies to learn the language. The Houyhnhnm, his
master, assists in teaching him. The language described. Several
Houyhnhnms of quality come out of curiosity to see the author. He
gives his master a short account of his voyage.]

My principal endeavour was to learn the language, which my master
(for so I shall henceforth call him), and his children, and every
servant of his house, were desirous to teach me; for they looked
upon it as a prodigy, that a brute animal should discover such
marks of a rational creature. I pointed to every thing, and
inquired the name of it, which I wrote down in my journal-book when
I was alone, and corrected my bad accent by desiring those of the
family to pronounce it often. In this employment, a sorrel nag,
one of the under-servants, was very ready to assist me.

In speaking, they pronounced through the nose and throat, and their
language approaches nearest to the High-Dutch, or German, of any I
know in Europe; but is much more graceful and significant. The
emperor Charles V. made almost the same observation, when he said
"that if he were to speak to his horse, it should be in High-

The curiosity and impatience of my master were so great, that he
spent many hours of his leisure to instruct me. He was convinced
(as he afterwards told me) that I must be a Yahoo; but my
teachableness, civility, and cleanliness, astonished him; which
were qualities altogether opposite to those animals. He was most
perplexed about my clothes, reasoning sometimes with himself,
whether they were a part of my body: for I never pulled them off
till the family were asleep, and got them on before they waked in
the morning. My master was eager to learn "whence I came; how I
acquired those appearances of reason, which I discovered in all my
actions; and to know my story from my own mouth, which he hoped he
should soon do by the great proficiency I made in learning and
pronouncing their words and sentences." To help my memory, I
formed all I learned into the English alphabet, and writ the words
down, with the translations. This last, after some time, I
ventured to do in my master's presence. It cost me much trouble to
explain to him what I was doing; for the inhabitants have not the
least idea of books or literature.

In about ten weeks time, I was able to understand most of his
questions; and in three months, could give him some tolerable
answers. He was extremely curious to know "from what part of the
country I came, and how I was taught to imitate a rational
creature; because the Yahoos (whom he saw I exactly resembled in my
head, hands, and face, that were only visible), with some
appearance of cunning, and the strongest disposition to mischief,
were observed to be the most unteachable of all brutes." I
answered, "that I came over the sea, from a far place, with many
others of my own kind, in a great hollow vessel made of the bodies
of trees: that my companions forced me to land on this coast, and
then left me to shift for myself." It was with some difficulty,
and by the help of many signs, that I brought him to understand me.
He replied, "that I must needs be mistaken, or that I said the
thing which was not;" for they have no word in their language to
express lying or falsehood. "He knew it was impossible that there
could be a country beyond the sea, or that a parcel of brutes could
move a wooden vessel whither they pleased upon water. He was sure
no Houyhnhnm alive could make such a vessel, nor would trust Yahoos
to manage it."

The word Houyhnhnm, in their tongue, signifies a HORSE, and, in its
etymology, the PERFECTION OF NATURE. I told my master, "that I was
at a loss for expression, but would improve as fast as I could; and
hoped, in a short time, I should be able to tell him wonders." He
was pleased to direct his own mare, his colt, and foal, and the
servants of the family, to take all opportunities of instructing
me; and every day, for two or three hours, he was at the same pains
himself. Several horses and mares of quality in the neighbourhood
came often to our house, upon the report spread of "a wonderful
Yahoo, that could speak like a Houyhnhnm, and seemed, in his words
and actions, to discover some glimmerings of reason." These
delighted to converse with me: they put many questions, and
received such answers as I was able to return. By all these
advantages I made so great a progress, that, in five months from my
arrival I understood whatever was spoken, and could express myself
tolerably well.

The Houyhnhnms, who came to visit my master out of a design of
seeing and talking with me, could hardly believe me to be a right
Yahoo, because my body had a different covering from others of my
kind. They were astonished to observe me without the usual hair or
skin, except on my head, face, and hands; but I discovered that
secret to my master upon an accident which happened about a
fortnight before.

I have already told the reader, that every night, when the family
were gone to bed, it was my custom to strip, and cover myself with
my clothes. It happened, one morning early, that my master sent
for me by the sorrel nag, who was his valet. When he came I was
fast asleep, my clothes fallen off on one side, and my shirt above
my waist. I awaked at the noise he made, and observed him to
deliver his message in some disorder; after which he went to my
master, and in a great fright gave him a very confused account of
what he had seen. This I presently discovered, for, going as soon
as I was dressed to pay my attendance upon his honour, he asked me
"the meaning of what his servant had reported, that I was not the
same thing when I slept, as I appeared to be at other times; that
his vale assured him, some part of me was white, some yellow, at
least not so white, and some brown."

I had hitherto concealed the secret of my dress, in order to
distinguish myself, as much as possible, from that cursed race of
Yahoos; but now I found it in vain to do so any longer. Besides, I
considered that my clothes and shoes would soon wear out, which
already were in a declining condition, and must be supplied by some
contrivance from the hides of Yahoos, or other brutes; whereby the
whole secret would be known. I therefore told my master, "that in
the country whence I came, those of my kind always covered their
bodies with the hairs of certain animals prepared by art, as well
for decency as to avoid the inclemencies of air, both hot and cold;
of which, as to my own person, I would give him immediate
conviction, if he pleased to command me: only desiring his excuse,
if I did not expose those parts that nature taught us to conceal."
He said, "my discourse was all very strange, but especially the
last part; for he could not understand, why nature should teach us
to conceal what nature had given; that neither himself nor family
were ashamed of any parts of their bodies; but, however, I might do
as I pleased." Whereupon I first unbuttoned my coat, and pulled it
off. I did the same with my waistcoat. I drew off my shoes,
stockings, and breeches. I let my shirt down to my waist, and drew
up the bottom; fastening it like a girdle about my middle, to hide
my nakedness.

My master observed the whole performance with great signs of
curiosity and admiration. He took up all my clothes in his
pastern, one piece after another, and examined them diligently; he
then stroked my body very gently, and looked round me several
times; after which, he said, it was plain I must be a perfect
Yahoo; but that I differed very much from the rest of my species in
the softness, whiteness, and smoothness of my skin; my want of hair
in several parts of my body; the shape and shortness of my claws
behind and before; and my affectation of walking continually on my
two hinder feet. He desired to see no more; and gave me leave to
put on my clothes again, for I was shuddering with cold.

I expressed my uneasiness at his giving me so often the appellation
of Yahoo, an odious animal, for which I had so utter a hatred and
contempt: I begged he would forbear applying that word to me, and
make the same order in his family and among his friends whom he
suffered to see me. I requested likewise, "that the secret of my
having a false covering to my body, might be known to none but
himself, at least as long as my present clothing should last; for
as to what the sorrel nag, his valet, had observed, his honour
might command him to conceal it."

All this my master very graciously consented to; and thus the
secret was kept till my clothes began to wear out, which I was
forced to supply by several contrivances that shall hereafter be
mentioned. In the meantime, he desired "I would go on with my
utmost diligence to learn their language, because he was more
astonished at my capacity for speech and reason, than at the figure
of my body, whether it were covered or not;" adding, "that he
waited with some impatience to hear the wonders which I promised to
tell him."

Thenceforward he doubled the pains he had been at to instruct me:
he brought me into all company, and made them treat me with
civility; "because," as he told them, privately, "this would put me
into good humour, and make me more diverting."

Every day, when I waited on him, beside the trouble he was at in
teaching, he would ask me several questions concerning myself,
which I answered as well as I could, and by these means he had
already received some general ideas, though very imperfect. It
would be tedious to relate the several steps by which I advanced to
a more regular conversation; but the first account I gave of myself
in any order and length was to this purpose:

"That I came from a very far country, as I already had attempted to
tell him, with about fifty more of my own species; that we
travelled upon the seas in a great hollow vessel made of wood, and
larger than his honour's house. I described the ship to him in the
best terms I could, and explained, by the help of my handkerchief
displayed, how it was driven forward by the wind. That upon a
quarrel among us, I was set on shore on this coast, where I walked
forward, without knowing whither, till he delivered me from the
persecution of those execrable Yahoos." He asked me, "who made the
ship, and how it was possible that the Houyhnhnms of my country
would leave it to the management of brutes?" My answer was, "that
I durst proceed no further in my relation, unless he would give me
his word and honour that he would not be offended, and then I would
tell him the wonders I had so often promised." He agreed; and I
went on by assuring him, that the ship was made by creatures like
myself; who, in all the countries I had travelled, as well as in my
own, were the only governing rational animals; and that upon my
arrival hither, I was as much astonished to see the Houyhnhnms act
like rational beings, as he, or his friends, could be, in finding
some marks of reason in a creature he was pleased to call a Yahoo;
to which I owned my resemblance in every part, but could not
account for their degenerate and brutal nature. I said farther,
"that if good fortune ever restored me to my native country, to
relate my travels hither, as I resolved to do, everybody would
believe, that I said the thing that was not, that I invented the
story out of my own head; and (with all possible respect to
himself, his family, and friends, and under his promise of not
being offended) our countrymen would hardly think it probable that
a Houyhnhnm should be the presiding creature of a nation, and a
Yahoo the brute."


[The Houyhnhnm's notion of truth and falsehood. The author's
discourse disapproved by his master. The author gives a more
particular account of himself, and the accidents of his voyage.]

My master heard me with great appearances of uneasiness in his
countenance; because doubting, or not believing, are so little
known in this country, that the inhabitants cannot tell how to
behave themselves under such circumstances. And I remember, in
frequent discourses with my master concerning the nature of manhood
in other parts of the world, having occasion to talk of lying and
false representation, it was with much difficulty that he
comprehended what I meant, although he had otherwise a most acute
judgment. For he argued thus: "that the use of speech was to make
us understand one another, and to receive information of facts;
now, if any one said the thing which was not, these ends were
defeated, because I cannot properly be said to understand him; and
I am so far from receiving information, that he leaves me worse
than in ignorance; for I am led to believe a thing black, when it
is white, and short, when it is long." And these were all the
notions he had concerning that faculty of lying, so perfectly well
understood, and so universally practised, among human creatures.

To return from this digression. When I asserted that the Yahoos
were the only governing animals in my country, which my master said
was altogether past his conception, he desired to know, "whether we
had Houyhnhnms among us, and what was their employment?" I told
him, "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."
"I understand you well," said my master: "it is now very plain,
from all you have spoken, that whatever share of reason the Yahoos
pretend to, the Houyhnhnms are your masters; I heartily wish our
Yahoos would be so tractable." I begged "his honour would please
to excuse me from proceeding any further, because I was very
certain that the account he expected from me would be highly
displeasing." But he insisted in commanding me to let him know the
best and the worst. I told him "he should be obeyed." I owned
"that the Houyhnhnms among us, whom we called horses, were the most
generous and comely animals we had; that they excelled in strength
and swiftness; and when they belonged to persons of quality, were
employed in travelling, racing, or drawing chariots; they were
treated with much kindness and care, till they fell into diseases,
or became foundered in the feet; but then they were sold, and used
to all kind of drudgery till they died; after which their skins
were stripped, and sold for what they were worth, and their bodies
left to be devoured by dogs and birds of prey. But the common race
of horses had not so good fortune, being kept by farmers and
carriers, and other mean people, who put them to greater labour,
and fed them worse." I described, as well as I could, our way of
riding; the shape and use of a bridle, a saddle, a spur, and a
whip; of harness and wheels. I added, "that we fastened plates of
a certain hard substance, called iron, at the bottom of their feet,
to preserve their hoofs from being broken by the stony ways, on
which we often travelled."

My master, after some expressions of great indignation, wondered
"how we dared to venture upon a Houyhnhnm's back; for he was sure,
that the weakest servant in his house would be able to shake off
the strongest Yahoo; or by lying down and rolling on his back,
squeeze the brute to death." I answered "that our horses were
trained up, from three or four years old, to the several uses we
intended them for; that if any of them proved intolerably vicious,
they were employed for carriages; that they were severely beaten,
while they were young, for any mischievous tricks; that the males,
designed for the common use of riding or draught, were generally
castrated about two years after their birth, to take down their
spirits, and make them more tame and gentle; that they were indeed
sensible of rewards and punishments; but his honour would please to
consider, that they had not the least tincture of reason, any more
than the Yahoos in this country."

It put me to the pains of many circumlocutions, to give my master a
right idea of what I spoke; for their language does not abound in
variety of words, because their wants and passions are fewer than
among us. But it is impossible to express his noble resentment at
our savage treatment of the Houyhnhnm race; particularly after I
had explained the manner and use of castrating horses among us, to


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