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Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, Page 2

Jonathan Swift



  The author gives some account of himself and family. His firstinducements to travel. He is shipwrecked, and swims for his life. Getssafe on shore in the country of Lilliput; is made a prisoner, and carriedup the country.

  My father had a small estate in Nottinghamshire: I was the third of fivesons. He sent me to Emanuel College in Cambridge at fourteen years old,where I resided three years, and applied myself close to my studies; butthe charge of maintaining me, although I had a very scanty allowance,being too great for a narrow fortune, I was bound apprentice to Mr. JamesBates, an eminent surgeon in London, with whom I continued four years.My father now and then sending me small sums of money, I laid them out inlearning navigation, and other parts of the mathematics, useful to thosewho intend to travel, as I always believed it would be, some time orother, my fortune to do. When I left Mr. Bates, I went down to myfather: where, by the assistance of him and my uncle John, and some otherrelations, I got forty pounds, and a promise of thirty pounds a year tomaintain me at Leyden: there I studied physic two years and seven months,knowing it would be useful in long voyages.

  Soon after my return from Leyden, I was recommended by my good master,Mr. Bates, to be surgeon to the Swallow, Captain Abraham Pannel,commander; with whom I continued three years and a half, making a voyageor two into the Levant, and some other parts. When I came back Iresolved to settle in London; to which Mr. Bates, my master, encouragedme, and by him I was recommended to several patients. I took part of asmall house in the Old Jewry; and being advised to alter my condition, Imarried Mrs. Mary Burton, second daughter to Mr. Edmund Burton, hosier,in Newgate-street, with whom I received four hundred pounds for aportion.

  But my good master Bates dying in two years after, and I having fewfriends, my business began to fail; for my conscience would not suffer meto imitate the bad practice of too many among my brethren. Havingtherefore consulted with my wife, and some of my acquaintance, Idetermined to go again to sea. I was surgeon successively in two ships,and made several voyages, for six years, to the East and West Indies, bywhich I got some addition to my fortune. My hours of leisure I spent inreading the best authors, ancient and modern, being always provided witha good number of books; and when I was ashore, in observing the mannersand dispositions of the people, as well as learning their language;wherein I had a great facility, by the strength of my memory.

  The last of these voyages not proving very fortunate, I grew weary of thesea, and intended to stay at home with my wife and family. I removedfrom the Old Jewry to Fetter Lane, and from thence to Wapping, hoping toget business among the sailors; but it would not turn to account. Afterthree years expectation that things would mend, I accepted anadvantageous offer from Captain William Prichard, master of the Antelope,who was making a voyage to the South Sea. We set sail from Bristol, May4, 1699, and our voyage was at first very prosperous.

  It would not be proper, for some reasons, to trouble the reader with theparticulars of our adventures in those seas; let it suffice to informhim, that in our passage from thence to the East Indies, we were drivenby a violent storm to the north-west of Van Diemen's Land. By anobservation, we found ourselves in the latitude of 30 degrees 2 minutessouth. Twelve of our crew were dead by immoderate labour and ill food;the rest were in a very weak condition. On the 5th of November, whichwas the beginning of summer in those parts, the weather being very hazy,the seamen spied a rock within half a cable's length of the ship; but thewind was so strong, that we were driven directly upon it, and immediatelysplit. Six of the crew, of whom I was one, having let down the boat intothe sea, made a shift to get clear of the ship and the rock. We rowed,by my computation, about three leagues, till we were able to work nolonger, being already spent with labour while we were in the ship. Wetherefore trusted ourselves to the mercy of the waves, and in about halfan hour the boat was overset by a sudden flurry from the north. Whatbecame of my companions in the boat, as well as of those who escaped onthe rock, or were left in the vessel, I cannot tell; but conclude theywere all lost. For my own part, I swam as fortune directed me, and waspushed forward by wind and tide. I often let my legs drop, and couldfeel no bottom; but when I was almost gone, and able to struggle nolonger, I found myself within my depth; and by this time the storm wasmuch abated. The declivity was so small, that I walked near a milebefore I got to the shore, which I conjectured was about eight o'clock inthe evening. I then advanced forward near half a mile, but could notdiscover any sign of houses or inhabitants; at least I was in so weak acondition, that I did not observe them. I was extremely tired, and withthat, and the heat of the weather, and about half a pint of brandy that Idrank as I left the ship, I found myself much inclined to sleep. I laydown on the grass, which was very short and soft, where I slept sounderthan ever I remembered to have done in my life, and, as I reckoned, aboutnine hours; for when I awaked, it was just day-light. I attempted torise, but was not able to stir: for, as I happened to lie on my back, Ifound my arms and legs were strongly fastened on each side to the ground;and my hair, which was long and thick, tied down in the same manner. Ilikewise felt several slender ligatures across my body, from my arm-pitsto my thighs. I could only look upwards; the sun began to grow hot, andthe light offended my eyes. I heard a confused noise about me; but inthe posture I lay, could see nothing except the sky. In a little time Ifelt something alive moving on my left leg, which advancing gentlyforward over my breast, came almost up to my chin; when, bending my eyesdownwards as much as I could, I perceived it to be a human creature notsix inches high, with a bow and arrow in his hands, and a quiver at hisback. In the mean time, I felt at least forty more of the same kind (asI conjectured) following the first. I was in the utmost astonishment,and roared so loud, that they all ran back in a fright; and some of them,as I was afterwards told, were hurt with the falls they got by leapingfrom my sides upon the ground. However, they soon returned, and one ofthem, who ventured so far as to get a full sight of my face, lifting uphis hands and eyes by way of admiration, cried out in a shrill butdistinct voice, _Hekinah degul_: the others repeated the same wordsseveral times, but then I knew not what they meant. I lay all thiswhile, as the reader may believe, in great uneasiness. At length,struggling to get loose, I had the fortune to break the strings, andwrench out the pegs that fastened my left arm to the ground; for, bylifting it up to my face, I discovered the methods they had taken to bindme, and at the same time with a violent pull, which gave me excessivepain, I a little loosened the strings that tied down my hair on the leftside, so that I was just able to turn my head about two inches. But thecreatures ran off a second time, before I could seize them; whereuponthere was a great shout in a very shrill accent, and after it ceased Iheard one of them cry aloud _Tolgo phonac_; when in an instant I feltabove a hundred arrows discharged on my left hand, which, pricked me likeso many needles; and besides, they shot another flight into the air, aswe do bombs in Europe, whereof many, I suppose, fell on my body, (thoughI felt them not), and some on my face, which I immediately covered withmy left hand. When this shower of arrows was over, I fell a groaningwith grief and pain; and then striving again to get loose, theydischarged another volley larger than the first, and some of themattempted with spears to stick me in the sides; but by good luck I had ona buff jerkin, which they could not pierce. I thought it the mostprudent method to lie still, and my design was to continue so till night,when, my left hand being already loose, I could easily free myself: andas for the inhabitants, I had reason to believe I might be a match forthe greatest army they could bring against me, if they were all of thesame size with him that I saw. But fortune disposed otherwise of me.When the people observed I was quiet, they discharged no more arrows;but, by the noise I heard, I knew their numbers increased; and about fouryards from me, over against my right ear, I heard a knocking for above anhour, like that of people at work; when turning my head that way, as wellas the pegs and strings would permit me, I saw a stage
erected about afoot and a half from the ground, capable of holding four of theinhabitants, with two or three ladders to mount it: from whence one ofthem, who seemed to be a person of quality, made me a long speech,whereof I understood not one syllable. But I should have mentioned, thatbefore the principal person began his oration, he cried out three times,_Langro dehul san_ (these words and the former were afterwards repeatedand explained to me); whereupon, immediately, about fifty of theinhabitants came and cut the strings that fastened the left side of myhead, which gave me the liberty of turning it to the right, and ofobserving the person and gesture of him that was to speak. He appearedto be of a middle age, and taller than any of the other three whoattended him, whereof one was a page that held up his train, and seemedto be somewhat longer than my middle finger; the other two stood one oneach side to support him. He acted every part of an orator, and I couldobserve many periods of threatenings, and others of promises, pity, andkindness. I answered in a few words, but in the most submissive manner,lifting up my left hand, and both my eyes to the sun, as calling him fora witness; and being almost famished with hunger, having not eaten amorsel for some hours before I left the ship, I found the demands ofnature so strong upon me, that I could not forbear showing my impatience(perhaps against the strict rules of decency) by putting my fingerfrequently to my mouth, to signify that I wanted food. The _hurgo_ (forso they call a great lord, as I afterwards learnt) understood me verywell. He descended from the stage, and commanded that several laddersshould be applied to my sides, on which above a hundred of theinhabitants mounted and walked towards my mouth, laden with baskets fullof meat, which had been provided and sent thither by the king's orders,upon the first intelligence he received of me. I observed there was theflesh of several animals, but could not distinguish them by the taste.There were shoulders, legs, and loins, shaped like those of mutton, andvery well dressed, but smaller than the wings of a lark. I ate them bytwo or three at a mouthful, and took three loaves at a time, about thebigness of musket bullets. They supplied me as fast as they could,showing a thousand marks of wonder and astonishment at my bulk andappetite. I then made another sign, that I wanted drink. They found bymy eating that a small quantity would not suffice me; and being a mostingenious people, they slung up, with great dexterity, one of theirlargest hogsheads, then rolled it towards my hand, and beat out the top;I drank it off at a draught, which I might well do, for it did not holdhalf a pint, and tasted like a small wine of Burgundy, but much moredelicious. They brought me a second hogshead, which I drank in the samemanner, and made signs for more; but they had none to give me. When Ihad performed these wonders, they shouted for joy, and danced upon mybreast, repeating several times as they did at first, _Hekinah degul_.They made me a sign that I should throw down the two hogsheads, but firstwarning the people below to stand out of the way, crying aloud, _Borachmevolah_; and when they saw the vessels in the air, there was a universalshout of _Hekinah degul_. I confess I was often tempted, while they werepassing backwards and forwards on my body, to seize forty or fifty of thefirst that came in my reach, and dash them against the ground. But theremembrance of what I had felt, which probably might not be the worstthey could do, and the promise of honour I made them--for so Iinterpreted my submissive behaviour--soon drove out these imaginations.Besides, I now considered myself as bound by the laws of hospitality, toa people who had treated me with so much expense and magnificence.However, in my thoughts I could not sufficiently wonder at theintrepidity of these diminutive mortals, who durst venture to mount andwalk upon my body, while one of my hands was at liberty, withouttrembling at the very sight of so prodigious a creature as I must appearto them. After some time, when they observed that I made no more demandsfor meat, there appeared before me a person of high rank from hisimperial majesty. His excellency, having mounted on the small of myright leg, advanced forwards up to my face, with about a dozen of hisretinue; and producing his credentials under the signet royal, which heapplied close to my eyes, spoke about ten minutes without any signs ofanger, but with a kind of determinate resolution, often pointingforwards, which, as I afterwards found, was towards the capital city,about half a mile distant; whither it was agreed by his majesty incouncil that I must be conveyed. I answered in few words, but to nopurpose, and made a sign with my hand that was loose, putting it to theother (but over his excellency's head for fear of hurting him or histrain) and then to my own head and body, to signify that I desired myliberty. It appeared that he understood me well enough, for he shook hishead by way of disapprobation, and held his hand in a posture to showthat I must be carried as a prisoner. However, he made other signs tolet me understand that I should have meat and drink enough, and very goodtreatment. Whereupon I once more thought of attempting to break mybonds; but again, when I felt the smart of their arrows upon my face andhands, which were all in blisters, and many of the darts still stickingin them, and observing likewise that the number of my enemies increased,I gave tokens to let them know that they might do with me what theypleased. Upon this, the _hurgo_ and his train withdrew, with muchcivility and cheerful countenances. Soon after I heard a general shout,with frequent repetitions of the words _Peplom selan_; and I felt greatnumbers of people on my left side relaxing the cords to such a degree,that I was able to turn upon my right, and to ease myself with makingwater; which I very plentifully did, to the great astonishment of thepeople; who, conjecturing by my motion what I was going to do,immediately opened to the right and left on that side, to avoid thetorrent, which fell with such noise and violence from me. But beforethis, they had daubed my face and both my hands with a sort of ointment,very pleasant to the smell, which, in a few minutes, removed all thesmart of their arrows. These circumstances, added to the refreshment Ihad received by their victuals and drink, which were very nourishing,disposed me to sleep. I slept about eight hours, as I was afterwardsassured; and it was no wonder, for the physicians, by the emperor'sorder, had mingled a sleepy potion in the hogsheads of wine.

  It seems, that upon the first moment I was discovered sleeping on theground, after my landing, the emperor had early notice of it by anexpress; and determined in council, that I should be tied in the manner Ihave related, (which was done in the night while I slept;) that plenty ofmeat and drink should be sent to me, and a machine prepared to carry meto the capital city.

  This resolution perhaps may appear very bold and dangerous, and I amconfident would not be imitated by any prince in Europe on the likeoccasion. However, in my opinion, it was extremely prudent, as well asgenerous: for, supposing these people had endeavoured to kill me withtheir spears and arrows, while I was asleep, I should certainly haveawaked with the first sense of smart, which might so far have roused myrage and strength, as to have enabled me to break the strings wherewith Iwas tied; after which, as they were not able to make resistance, so theycould expect no mercy.

  These people are most excellent mathematicians, and arrived to a greatperfection in mechanics, by the countenance and encouragement of theemperor, who is a renowned patron of learning. This prince has severalmachines fixed on wheels, for the carriage of trees and other greatweights. He often builds his largest men of war, whereof some are ninefeet long, in the woods where the timber grows, and has them carried onthese engines three or four hundred yards to the sea. Five hundredcarpenters and engineers were immediately set at work to prepare thegreatest engine they had. It was a frame of wood raised three inchesfrom the ground, about seven feet long, and four wide, moving upontwenty-two wheels. The shout I heard was upon the arrival of thisengine, which, it seems, set out in four hours after my landing. It wasbrought parallel to me, as I lay. But the principal difficulty was toraise and place me in this vehicle. Eighty poles, each of one foot high,were erected for this purpose, and very strong cords, of the bigness ofpackthread, were fastened by hooks to many bandages, which the workmenhad girt round my neck, my hands, my body, and my legs. Nine hundred ofthe strongest men were employed to draw up these cords, by many pulleysf
astened on the poles; and thus, in less than three hours, I was raisedand slung into the engine, and there tied fast. All this I was told;for, while the operation was performing, I lay in a profound sleep, bythe force of that soporiferous medicine infused into my liquor. Fifteenhundred of the emperor's largest horses, each about four inches and ahalf high, were employed to draw me towards the metropolis, which, as Isaid, was half a mile distant.

  About four hours after we began our journey, I awaked by a veryridiculous accident; for the carriage being stopped a while, to adjustsomething that was out of order, two or three of the young natives hadthe curiosity to see how I looked when I was asleep; they climbed up intothe engine, and advancing very softly to my face, one of them, an officerin the guards, put the sharp end of his half-pike a good way up into myleft nostril, which tickled my nose like a straw, and made me sneezeviolently; whereupon they stole off unperceived, and it was three weeksbefore I knew the cause of my waking so suddenly. We made a long marchthe remaining part of the day, and, rested at night with five hundredguards on each side of me, half with torches, and half with bows andarrows, ready to shoot me if I should offer to stir. The next morning atsun-rise we continued our march, and arrived within two hundred yards ofthe city gates about noon. The emperor, and all his court, came out tomeet us; but his great officers would by no means suffer his majesty toendanger his person by mounting on my body.

  At the place where the carriage stopped there stood an ancient temple,esteemed to be the largest in the whole kingdom; which, having beenpolluted some years before by an unnatural murder, was, according to thezeal of those people, looked upon as profane, and therefore had beenapplied to common use, and all the ornaments and furniture carried away.In this edifice it was determined I should lodge. The great gatefronting to the north was about four feet high, and almost two feet wide,through which I could easily creep. On each side of the gate was a smallwindow, not above six inches from the ground: into that on the left side,the king's smith conveyed fourscore and eleven chains, like those thathang to a lady's watch in Europe, and almost as large, which were lockedto my left leg with six-and-thirty padlocks. Over against this temple,on the other side of the great highway, at twenty feet distance, therewas a turret at least five feet high. Here the emperor ascended, withmany principal lords of his court, to have an opportunity of viewing me,as I was told, for I could not see them. It was reckoned that above ahundred thousand inhabitants came out of the town upon the same errand;and, in spite of my guards, I believe there could not be fewer than tenthousand at several times, who mounted my body by the help of ladders.But a proclamation was soon issued, to forbid it upon pain of death.When the workmen found it was impossible for me to break loose, they cutall the strings that bound me; whereupon I rose up, with as melancholy adisposition as ever I had in my life. But the noise and astonishment ofthe people, at seeing me rise and walk, are not to be expressed. Thechains that held my left leg were about two yards long, and gave me notonly the liberty of walking backwards and forwards in a semicircle, but,being fixed within four inches of the gate, allowed me to creep in, andlie at my full length in the temple.