Gullivers travels into s.., p.11
Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Regions of the World, p.11Jonathan Swift
THE AUTHOR, BEING INFORMED OF A DESIGN TO ACCUSE HIM OF HIGH TREASON, MAKES HIS ESCAPE TO BLEFUSCU. HIS RECEPTION THERE.
Before I proceed to give an account of my leaving this kingdom, it maybe proper to inform the reader of a private intrigue which had been fortwo months forming against me.
I had been hitherto all my life a stranger to courts, for which I wasunqualified by the meanness of my condition. I had indeed heard and readenough of the dispositions of great princes and ministers, but neverexpected to have found such terrible effects of them in so remote acountry, governed, as I thought, by very different maxims from those inEurope.
When I was just preparing to pay my attendance on the emperor ofBlefuscu, a considerable person at court (to whom I had been veryserviceable, at a time when he lay under the highest displeasure of hisimperial majesty) came to my house very privately at night, in a closechair, and without sending his name, desired admittance. Thechairmen were dismissed; I put the chair, with his lordship in it, intomy coat-pocket; and, giving orders to a trusty servant to say I wasindisposed and gone to sleep, I fastened the door of my house, placedthe chair on the table, according to my usual custom, and sat down byit. After the common salutations were over, observing his lordship'scountenance full of concern, and inquiring into the reason, he desired Iwould hear him with patience, in a matter that highly concerned my honorand my life. His speech was to the following effect, for I took notes ofit as soon as he left me:--
You are to know, said he, that several committees of council have beenlately called in the most private manner on your account; and it is buttwo days since his majesty came to a full resolution.
You are very sensible that Skyrris Bolgolam (_galbet_ or high-admiral)hath been your mortal enemy almost ever since your arrival: his originalreasons I know not; but his hatred is increased since your great successagainst Blefuscu, by which his glory, as admiral, is much obscured. Thislord, in conjunction with Flimnap the high treasurer, whose enmityagainst you is notorious, Limtoc the general, Lalcon the chamberlain,and Balmuff the grand justiciary, have prepared articles of impeachmentagainst you, for treason, and other capital crimes.
This preface made me so impatient, being conscious of my own merits andinnocence, that I was going to interrupt; when he entreated me to besilent, and thus proceeded.
"HE DESIRED I WOULD HEAR HIM WITH PATIENCE." P. 80.]
Out of gratitude for the favors you have done for me, I procuredinformation of the whole proceedings, and a copy of the articles;wherein I venture my head for your service.
ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST QUINBUS FLESTRIN, THE MAN-MOUNTAIN.
Whereas, by a statute made in the reign of his Imperial Majesty Calin Deffar Plune, it is enacted, That whoever shall lay hands upon the empress, or upon any of the royal children, shall be liable to the pains and penalties of high treason. Notwithstanding, the said Quinbus Flestrin, in open breach of the said law, under color of extinguishing the fire kindled in the apartment of his Majesty's most dear imperial consort, did maliciously, and traitorously, pull her by the arms, and lift her high in the air in both his hands, against the statute in that case provided, &c., against the duty, &c.
That the said Quinbus Flestrin, having brought the imperial fleet of Blefuscu into the royal port, and being afterwards commanded by his imperial majesty to seize all the other ships of the said empire of Blefuscu, and reduce that empire to a province, to be governed by a viceroy from hence, and to destroy and put to death, not only all the Big-endian exiles, but likewise all the people of that empire who would not immediately forsake the Big-endian heresy. He, the said Flestrin, like a false traitor against his most auspicious, serene, imperial majesty, did petition to be excused from the said service, upon pretence of unwillingness to force the consciences or destroy the liberties and lives of an innocent people.
That, whereas certain ambassadors arrived from the court of Blefuscu, to sue for peace in his majesty's court; he, the said Flestrin, did, like a false traitor, aid, abet, comfort, and divert the said ambassadors, although he knew them to be servants to a prince who was lately an open enemy to his imperial majesty, and in open war against his said majesty.
That the said Quinbus Flestrin, contrary to the duty of a faithful subject, is now preparing to make a voyage to the court and empire of Blefuscu, for which he hath received only verbal license from his imperial majesty; and under color of the said license, doth falsely and traitorously intend to take the said voyage, and thereby to aid, comfort, and abet the emperor of Blefuscu, so late an enemy, and in open war with his imperial majesty aforesaid.
There are some other articles, but these are the most important, ofwhich I have read you an abstract.
In the several debates upon this impeachment, it must be confessed thathis majesty gave many marks of his great lenity, often urging theservices you had done him, and endeavoring to extenuate your crimes. Thetreasurer and admiral insisted that you should be put to the mostpainful and ignominious death, by setting fire on your house at night;and the general was to attend, with twenty thousand men armed withpoisoned arrows, to shoot you on the face and hands. Some of yourservants were to have private orders to strew a poisonous juice on yourshirts and sheets, which would soon make you tear your own flesh, anddie in the utmost torture. The general came into the same opinion; sothat for a long time there was a majority against you: but his majestyresolving, if possible, to spare your life, at last brought off thechamberlain.
Upon this incident, Reldresal, principal secretary for private affairs,who always approved himself your true friend, was commanded by theemperor to deliver his opinion, which he accordingly did; and thereinjustified the good thoughts you have of him. He allowed your crimes tobe great, but that still there was room for mercy, the most commendablevirtue in a prince, and for which his majesty was so justly celebrated.He said, the friendship between you and him was so well known to theworld, that perhaps the most honorable board might think him partial;however, in obedience to the command he had received, he would freelyoffer his sentiments; that if his majesty, in consideration of yourservices, and pursuant to his own merciful disposition, would please tospare your life, and only give orders to put out both your eyes, hehumbly conceived that, by this expedient, justice might in some measurebe satisfied, and all the world would applaud the lenity of the emperor,as well as the fair and generous proceedings of those who have the honorto be his counsellors: that the loss of your eyes would be no impedimentto your bodily strength, by which you might still be useful to hismajesty: that blindness is an addition to courage, by concealing dangersfrom us: that the fear you had for your eyes was the greatest difficultyin bringing over the enemy's fleet: and it would be sufficient for youto see by the eyes of the ministers, since the greatest princes do nomore.
This proposal was received with the utmost disapprobation by the wholeboard. Bolgolam, the admiral, could not preserve his temper, but risingup in fury, said he wondered how the secretary durst presume to give hisopinion for preserving the life of a traitor: that the services you hadperformed were, by all true reasons of state, the great aggravation ofyour crimes: that you, who extinguished the fire in that unprincipledmanner, might at another time inundate and drown the whole palace; andthe same strength, which enabled you to bring over the enemy's fleet,might serve, upon the first discontent, to carry it back: that he hadgood reasons to think you were a Big-endian in your heart; and, astreason begins in the heart, before it appears in overt acts, so heaccused you as a traitor on that account, and therefore insisted youshould be put to death.
The treasurer was of the same opinion. He showed to what straits hismajesty's revenue was reduced, by the charge of maintaining you, whichwould
But his imperial majesty, fully determined against capital punishment,was graciously pleaded to say, that since the council thought the lossof your eyes too easy a censure, some other might be inflictedhereafter. And your friend, the secretary, humbly desiring to be heardagain, in answer to what the treasurer had objected concerning the greatcharge his majesty was at in maintaining you, said that his excellency,who had the sole disposal of the emperor's revenue, might easily provideagainst that evil, by gradually lessening your establishment; by which,for want of sufficient food, you would grow weak and faint, and loseyour appetite, and consume in a few months; neither would the stench ofyour carcase be then so dangerous when it should become more than halfdiminished; and, immediately upon your death, five or six thousand ofhis majesty's subjects might in two or three days cut your flesh fromyour bones, take it away by cart-loads, and bury it in distant parts, toprevent infection, leaving the skeleton as a monument of admiration toposterity.
Thus, by the great friendship of the secretary, the whole affair wascompromised. It was strictly enjoined that the project of starving youby degrees should be kept a secret, but the sentence of putting out youreyes was entered on the books, none dissenting except Bolgolam, theadmiral, who, being a creature of the empress, was perpetuallyinstigated by her majesty to insist upon your death, she having borneperpetual malice against you, on account of that illegal method you tookto remove her and her children the night of the fire.
In three days, your friend the secretary will be directed to come toyour house and read before you the articles of impeachment; and then tosignify the great lenity and favor of his majesty and council, wherebyyou are only condemned to the loss of your eyes, which his majesty dothnot question you will gratefully and humbly submit to; and twenty of hismajesty's surgeons will attend, in order to see the operation wellperformed, by discharging very sharp-pointed arrows into the balls ofyour eyes as you lie on the ground.
I leave to your prudence what measures you will take; and, to avoidsuspicion, I must immediately return, in as private a manner as I came.
His lordship did so, and I remained alone, under many doubts andperplexities of mind.
It was a custom, introduced by this prince and his ministry (verydifferent, as I have been assured, from the practices of former times),that after the court had decreed any cruel execution either to gratifythe monarch's resentment or the malice of a favorite, the emperor alwaysmade a speech to his whole council, expressing his great lenity andtenderness, as qualities known and confessed by all the world. Thisspeech was immediately published through the kingdom; nor did anythingterrify the people so much as those encomiums on his majesty's mercy;because it was observed that, the more these praises were enlarged andinsisted on, the more inhuman was the punishment, and the sufferer moreinnocent. Yet, as to myself, I must confess, having never been designedfor a courtier, either by my birth or education, I was so ill a judge ofthings that I could not discover the lenity and favor of this sentence,but conceived it (perhaps erroneously) rather to be rigorous thangentle, I sometimes thought of standing my trial; for although I couldnot deny the facts alleged in the several articles, yet I hoped theywould admit of some extenuation. But having in my life perused manystate-trials, which I ever observed to terminate as the judges thoughtfit to direct, I durst not rely on so dangerous a decision, in socritical a juncture, and against such powerful enemies. Once I wasstrongly bent upon resistance, for, while I had liberty, the wholestrength of that empire could hardly subdue me, and I might easily withstones pelt the metropolis to pieces; but I soon rejected that projectwith horror, by remembering the oath I had made to the emperor, thefavors I received from him, and the high title of _nardac_ he conferredupon me. Neither had I so soon learned the gratitude of courtiers as topersuade myself that his majesty's present seventies acquitted me of allpast obligations.
At last I fixed upon a resolution, for which it is probable I may incursome censure, and not unjustly; for I confess I owe the preserving mineeyes, and consequently my liberty, to my own great rashness and want ofexperience; because if I had then known the nature of princes andministers, which I have since observed in many other courts, and theirmethods of treating criminals less obnoxious than myself, I should withgreat alacrity and readiness have submitted to so easy a punishment.But, hurried on by the precipitancy of youth, and having his imperialmajesty's license to pay my attendance upon the emperor of Blefuscu, Itook this opportunity, before the three days were elapsed, to send aletter to my friend the secretary, signifying my resolution of settingout that morning for Blefuscu pursuant to the leave I had got; and,without waiting for an answer, I went to that side of the island whereour fleet lay. I seized a large man-of-war, tied a cable to the prow,and lifting up the anchors, I stript myself, put my clothes (togetherwith my coverlet, which I carried under my arm) into the vessel, anddrawing it after me, between wading and swimming arrived at the royalport of Blefuscu, where the people had long expected me; they lent metwo guides to direct me to the capital city, which is of the same name.I held them in my hands until I came within two hundred yards of thegate, and desired them to signify my arrival to one of the secretaries,and let him know I there waited his majesty's command. I had an answerin about an hour, that his majesty, attended by the royal family andgreat officers of the court, was coming out to receive me. I advanced ahundred yards. The emperor and his train alighted from their horses, theempress and ladies from their coaches, and I did not perceive they werein any fright or concern. I lay on the ground to kiss his majesty's andthe empress's hand.
I told his majesty that I was come, according to my promise, and withthe license of the emperor, my master, to have the honor of seeing somighty a monarch, and to offer him any service in my power consistentwith my duty to my own prince, not mentioning a word of my disgrace,because I had hitherto no regular information of it, and might supposemyself wholly ignorant of any such design; neither could I reasonablyconceive that the emperor would discover the secret while I was out ofhis power, wherein however it soon appeared I was deceived.
I shall not trouble the reader with the particular account of myreception at this court, which was suitable to the generosity of sogreat a prince; nor of the difficulties I was in for want of a house andbed, being forced to lie on the ground, wrapped up in my coverlet.
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