Gullivers travels into s.., p.10
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Regions of the World, p.10

           Jonathan Swift
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24



  Although I intend to leave the description of this empire to aparticular treatise, yet, in the meantime, I am content to gratify thecurious reader with some general ideas. As the common size of thenatives is somewhat under six inches high, so there is an exactproportion in all other animals, as well as plants and trees: forinstance, the tallest horses and oxen are between four and five inchesin height, the sheep an inch and a half, more or less; their geese aboutthe bigness of a sparrow, and so the several gradations downwards, tillyou come to the smallest, which, to my sight, were almost invisible; butnature hath adapted the eyes of the Lilliputians to all objects properfor their view; they see with great exactness, but at no great distance.And, to show the sharpness of their sight, towards objects that arenear, I have been much pleased with observing a cook pulling[29] a lark,which was not so large as a common fly; and a young girl threading aninvisible needle with invisible silk.

  Their tallest trees are about seven feet high; I mean some of those inthe great royal park, the tops whereof I could but just reach with myfist clenched. The other vegetables are in the same proportion; but thisI leave to the reader's imagination.

  I shall say but little at present of their learning, which, for manyages, hath flourished in all its branches among them: but their mannerof writing is very peculiar, being neither from the left to the rightlike the Europeans; nor from the right to the left, like the Arabians;nor from up to down, like the Chinese, but aslant, from one corner ofthe paper to the other, like ladies in England.

  They bury their dead with their heads directly downwards, because theyhold an opinion, that in eleven thousand moons they are all to riseagain, in which period the earth (which they conceive to be flat) willturn upside down, and by this means they shall, at the resurrection, befound ready, standing on their feet. The learned among them confess theabsurdity of this doctrine, but the practice still continues, incompliance to the vulgar.

  There are some laws and customs in this empire very peculiar; and, ifthey were not so directly contrary to those of my own dear country, Ishould be tempted to say a little in their justification. It is only tobe wished they were as well executed. The first I shall mention relatesto informers. All crimes against the state are punished here with theutmost severity; but, if the person accused maketh his innocence plainlyto appear upon his trial, the accuser is immediately put to anignominious death; and, out of his goods, or lands, the innocent personis quadruply recompensed for the loss of his time, for the danger heunderwent, for the hardship of his imprisonment, and for all the chargeshe hath been at in making his defence, or, it that fund be deficient,it is largely supplied by the crown. The emperor also confers on himsome public mark of his favor, and proclamation is made of his innocencethrough the whole city.

  They look upon fraud as a greater crime than theft, and therefore seldomfail to punish it with death; for they allege, that care and vigilance,with a very common understanding, may preserve a man's goods fromthieves, but honesty has no fence against superior cunning; and, sinceit is necessary that there should be a perpetual intercourse of buyingand selling, and dealing upon credit, where fraud is permitted andconnived at, or hath no law to punish it, the honest dealer is alwaysundone, and the knave gets the advantage. I remember, when I was onceinterceding with the king for a criminal, who had wronged his master ofa great sum of money, which he had received by order, and run away with,and happening to tell his majesty, by way of extenuation, that it wasonly a breach of trust, the emperor thought it monstrous in me, to offeras a defence the greatest aggravation of the crime; and, truly, I hadlittle to say in return, farther than the common answer, that differentnations had different customs; for, I confess, I was heartily ashamed.

  Although we usually call reward and punishment the two hinges upon whichall government turns, yet I could never observe this maxim to be put inpractice by any nation except that of Lilliput. Whoever can there bringsufficient proof that he hath strictly observed the laws of his countryfor seventy-three moons, hath a claim to certain privileges, accordingto his quality and condition of life, with a proportionable sum of outof a fund appropriated for that use; he likewise acquires the title of_snillpall_, or _legal_, which is added to his name, but doth notdescend to his posterity. And these people thought it a prodigiousdefect of policy among us, when I told them that our laws were enforcedonly by penalties, without any mention of reward. It is upon thisaccount that the image of Justice, in their courts of judicature, isformed with six eyes, two before, as many behind, and on each side one,to signify circumspection, with a bag of gold open in her right hand,and a sword sheath in her left, to show she was more disposed to rewardthan to punish.

  In choosing persons for all employments, they have more regard to goodmorals than to great abilities; for, since government is necessary tomankind, they believe that the common size of human understanding isfitted to some station or other, and that Providence never intended tomake the management of public affairs a mystery, to be comprehended onlyby a few persons of sublime genius, of which there seldom are three bornin an age; but they suppose truth, justice, temperance, and the like, tobe in every man's power, the practice of which virtues, assisted byexperience, and a good intention, would qualify any man for the serviceof his country, except where a course of study is required. But theythought the want of moral virtues was so far from being supplied bysuperior endowments of the mind, that employments could never be putinto such dangerous hands as those of persons so qualified; and atleast, that the mistakes committed by ignorance, in a virtuousdisposition, would never be of such fatal consequences to the publicweal as the practices of a man whose inclinations led him to be corrupt,and who had great abilities to manage, to multiply, and defend hiscorruptions.

  In like manner, the disbelief of a Divine Providence renders a manincapable of holding any public station; for, since kings avowthemselves to be the deputies of Providence, the Lilliputians thinknothing can be more absurd than for a prince to employ such men asdisown the authority under which he acts.

  In relating these and the following laws, I would only be understood tomean the original institutions, and not the most scandalous corruptionsinto which these people are fallen, by the degenerate nature of man.For, as to that infamous practice of acquiring great employments bydancing on the ropes, or badges of favor and distinction by leaping oversticks, and creeping under them, the reader is to observe, that theywere first introduced by the grandfather of the emperor, now reigning,and grew to the present height by the gradual increase of party andfaction.

  Ingratitude is, among them, a capital crime, as we read it to have beenin some other countries; for they reason thus, that whoever makes illreturns to his benefactor, must needs be a common enemy to the rest ofmankind, from whom he hath received no obligation, and therefore such aman is not fit to live.

  Their notions relating to the duties of parents and children differextremely from ours. Their opinion is, that parents are the last of allothers to be trusted with the education of their own children; and,therefore, they have, in every town, public nurseries, where allparents, except cottagers and laborers, are obliged to send theirinfants of both sexes to be reared and educated, when they come to theage of twenty moons, at which time they are supposed to have somerudiments of docility. These schools are of several kinds, suited todifferent qualities, and to both sexes. They have certain professors,well skilled in preparing children for such a condition of life asbefits the rank of their parents, and their own capacities as well asinclinations. I shall first say something of the male nurseries, andthen of the female.

  The nurseries for males of noble or eminent birth are provided withgrave and learned professors, and their several deputies. The clothesand food of the children are plain and simple. They are bred up in theprinciples of honor, justice, courage, mo
desty, clemency, religion, andlove of their country; they are always employed in some business, exceptin the times of eating and sleeping, which are very short, and two hoursfor diversions, consisting of bodily exercises. They are dressed by mentill four years of age, and then are obliged to dress themselves,although their quality be ever so great; and the women attendants, whoare aged proportionably to ours at fifty, perform only the most menialoffices. They are never suffered to converse with servants, but gotogether in smaller or greater numbers to take their diversions, andalways in the presence of a professor, or one of his deputies; wherebythey avoid those early bad impressions of folly and vice, to which ourchildren are subject. Their parents are suffered to see them only twicea year; the visit to last but an hour; they are allowed to kiss thechild at meeting and parting; but a professor, who always stands by onthose occasions, will not suffer them to whisper, or use any fondlingexpressions, or bring any presents of toys, sweetmeats, and the like.

  The pension from each family, for the education and entertainment of achild, upon failure of due payment, is levied by the emperor's officers.

  The nurseries for children of ordinary gentlemen, merchants, traders,and handicrafts, are managed proportionally after the same manner; onlythose designed for trades are put out apprentices at eleven years old,whereas those persons of quality continue in their exercises tillfifteen, which answers to twenty-one with us; but the confinement isgradually lessened for the last three years.

  In the female nurseries, the young girls of quality are educated muchlike the males, only they are dressed by orderly servants of their ownsex; but always in the presence of a professor or deputy, till they cometo dress themselves, which is at five years old. And if it be found thatthese nurses ever presume to entertain the girls with frightful orfoolish stories, or the common follies practised by the chambermaidsamong us, they are publicly whipped thrice about the city, imprisonedfor a year, and banished for life to the most desolate part of thecountry. Thus, the young ladies there are as much ashamed of beingcowards and fools as the men, and despise all personal ornaments beyonddecency and cleanliness: neither did I perceive any difference in theireducation, made by their difference of sex, only that the exercises ofthe women were not altogether so robust, and that some rules were giventhem relating to domestic life, and a smaller compass of learning wasenjoined them: for their maxim is that, among people of quality, a wifeshould be always a reasonable and agreeable companion, because shecannot always be young. When the girls are twelve years old, whichamong them is the marriageable age, their parents or guardians takethem home, with great expressions of gratitude to the professors, andseldom without tears of the young lady and her companions.

  In the nurseries of females of the meaner sort, the children areinstructed in all kinds of works proper for their sex and their severaldegrees; those intended for apprentices are dismissed at seven yearsold, the rest are kept to eleven.

  The meaner[30] families who have children at these nurseries areobliged, besides their annual pension, which is as low as possible, toreturn to the steward of the nursery a small monthly share of theirgettings, to be a portion[31] for the child; and, therefore, all parentsare limited in their expenses by the law. For the Lilliputians thinknothing can be more unjust than for people to leave the burden ofsupporting their children on the public. As to persons of quality, theygive security to appropriate a certain sum for each child, suitable totheir condition; and these funds are always managed with good husbandryand the most exact justice.

  The cottagers and laborers keep their children at home, their businessbeing only to till and cultivate the earth, and therefore theireducation is of little consequence to the public; but the old anddiseased among them are supported by hospitals; for begging is a tradeunknown in this empire.

  And here it may perhaps divert the curious reader to give some accountof my domestic,[32] and my manner of living in this country, during aresidence of nine months and thirteen days. Having a head formechanics, and being likewise forced by necessity, I had made for myselfa table and chair, convenient enough, out of the largest trees in theroyal park. Two hundred sempstresses were employed to make me shirts,and linen for my bed and table, all of the strongest and coarsest kindthey could get; which, however, they were forced to quilt together inseveral folds, for the thickest was some degrees finer than lawn. Theirlinen is usually three inches wide, and three feet make a piece.

  The sempstresses took my measure as I lay on the ground, one standing atmy neck, and another at my mid-leg, with a strong cord extended thateach held by the end, while a third measured the length of the cord witha rule of an inch long. Then they measured my right thumb, and desiredno more; for, by a mathematical computation, that twice round the thumbis once round the wrist, and so on to the neck and the waist, and by thehelp of my old shirt, which I displayed on the ground before them for apattern, they fitted me exactly. Three hundred tailors were employed inthe same manner to make me clothes; but they had another contrivance fortaking my measure. I kneeled down, and they raised a ladder from theground to my neck; upon this ladder one of them mounted, and let fall aplumb-line from my collar to the floor, which just answered the lengthof my coat; but my waist and arms I measured myself. When my clotheswere finished, which was done in my house (for the largest of theirswould not have been able to hold them), they looked like the patchworkmade by the ladies in England, only that mine were all of a color.


  I had three hundred cooks to dress my victuals, in little convenienthuts built about my house, where they and their families lived, andprepared me two dishes a-piece. I took up twenty waiters in my hand, andplaced them on the table; an hundred more attended below on the ground,some with dishes of meat, and some with barrels of wine and otherliquors, flung on their shoulders; all of which the waiters above drewup, as I wanted, in a very ingenious manner, by certain cords, as wedraw the bucket up a well in Europe. A dish of their meat was a goodmouthful, and a barrel of their liquor a reasonable draught. Theirmutton yields to ours, but their beef is excellent, I have had a sirloinso large that I have been forced to make three bites of it; but this israre. My servants were astonished to see me eat it, bones and all, as inour country we do the leg of a lark. Their geese and turkeys I usuallyeat at a mouthful, and I must confess they far exceed ours. Of theirsmaller fowl, I could take up twenty or thirty at the end of my knife.

  One day his imperial majesty, being informed of my way of living,desired that himself and his royal consort, with the young princes ofthe blood of both sexes, might have the happiness, as he was pleased tocall it, of dining with me. They came accordingly, and I placed them inchairs of state upon my table, just over against me, with their guardsabout them. Flimnap, the lord high treasurer, attended there likewise,with his white staff; and I observed he often looked on me with a sourcountenance, which I would not seem to regard, but eat more than usual,in honor to my dear country, as well as to fill the court withadmiration. I have some private reasons to believe that this visit fromhis majesty gave Flimnap an opportunity of doing me ill offices to hismaster. That minister had always been my secret enemy, though heoutwardly caressed me more than was usual to the moroseness of hisnature. He represented to the emperor the low condition of his treasury;that he was forced to take up money at a great discount; that exchequerbills[33] would not circulate under nine per cent, below par; that I hadcost his majesty above a million and a half of _sprugs_ (their greatestgold coin, about the bigness of a spangle); and, upon the whole, that itwould be advisable in the emperor to take the first fair occasion ofdismissing me.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up