Gullivers travels into s.., p.18
Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Regions of the World, p.18Jonathan Swift
SEVERAL ADVENTURES THAT HAPPENED TO THE AUTHOR. THE AUTHOR SHOWS HIS SKILL IN NAVIGATION.
I should have lived happily enough in that country, if my littleness hadnot exposed me to several ridiculous and troublesome accidents, some ofwhich I shall venture to relate. Glumdalclitch often carried me into thegardens of the court in my smaller box, and would sometimes take me outof it, and hold me in her hand, or set me down to walk. I remember,before the dwarf left the queen, he followed us one day into thosegardens, and my nurse having set me down, he and I being close together,near some dwarf apple-trees, I must needs show my wit by a sillyallusion between him and the trees, which happens to hold in theirlanguage, as it doth in ours. Whereupon the malicious rogue, watchinghis opportunity, when I was walking under one of them, shook it directlyover my head; by which a dozen apples, each of them near as large as aBristol barrel, came tumbling about my ears; one of them hit me on theback as I chanced to stoop, and knocked me down flat on my face; but Ireceived no other hurt; and the dwarf was pardoned at my desire, becauseI had given the provocation.
Another day, Glumdalclitch left me on a smooth grass-plot to divertmyself, while she walked at some distance with her governess. In themeantime there suddenly fell such a violent shower of hail, that I wasimmediately, by the force of it, struck to the ground; and when I wasdown, the hail stones gave me such cruel bangs all over the body as if Ihad been pelted with tennis-balls, however, I made a shift to creep onall fours, and shelter myself by lying flat on my face on the lee-sideof a border of lemon-thyme, but so bruised from head to foot that Icould not go abroad in ten days. Neither is this at all to be wonderedat, because nature, in that country, observing the same proportionthrough all her operations, a hail-stone is near eighteen hundred timesas large as one in Europe, which I can assert upon experience, havingbeen so curious to weigh and measure them.
But a more dangerous accident happened to me in the same garden, when mylittle nurse, believing she had put me in a secure place, which I oftenentreated her to do, that I might enjoy my own thoughts, and having leftmy box at home, to avoid the trouble of carrying it, went to anotherpart of the garden with governess and some ladies of her acquaintance,she was absent and out of hearing, a small white belonging to one of thechief gardeners, having got by accident into the garden, happened toplace where I lay: the dog, following the scent, came directly up, andtaking me in his mouth, ran straight to his master, wagging his tail,and set me gently on the ground. By good fortune, he had been so welltaught, that I was carried between his teeth without the least hurt, oreven tearing my clothes. But the poor gardener, who knew me well, andhad a great kindness for me, was in a terrible fright: he gently took meup in both his hands, and asked me how I did; but I was so amazed andout of breath, that I could not speak a word. In a few minutes I came tomyself, and he carried me safe to my little nurse, who by this time hadreturned to the place where she left me, and was in cruel agonies when Idid not appear nor answer when she called. She severely reprimanded thegardener on account of his dog, but the thing was bushed up and neverknown at court; for the girl was afraid of the queen's anger, and truly,as to myself, I thought it would not be for my reputation that such astory should go about.
This accident absolutely determined Glumdalclitch never to trust meabroad for the future out of her sight. I had been long afraid of thisresolution, and therefore concealed from her some little unluckyadventures that happened in those times when I was left by myself. Oncea kite, hovering over the garden, made a stoop at me; and if I had notresolutely drawn my hanger, and run under a thick espalier, he wouldhave certainly carried me away in his talons. Another time, walking tothe top of a fresh mole-hill, I fell to my neck in the hole throughwhich that animal had cast up the earth. I likewise broke my right shinagainst the shell of a snail, which I happened to stumble over as I waswalking alone and thinking on poor England.
I cannot tell whether I were more pleased or mortified to observe inthose solitary walks that the smaller birds did not appear to be at allafraid of me, but would hop about within a yard's distance, looking forworms and other food, with as much indifference and security as if nocreature at all were near them. I remember a thrush had the confidenceto snatch out of my hand with his bill a piece of cake thatGlumdalclitch had just given me for my breakfast.
When I attempted to catch any of these birds they would boldly turnagainst me, endeavoring to pick my fingers, which I durst not venturewithin their reach; and then they would hop back unconcerned to hunt forworms and snails as they did before. But one day I took a thick cudgel,and threw it with all my strength so luckily at a linnet that I knockedhim down, and seizing him by the neck with both my hands ran with him intriumph to my nurse. However, the bird, who had only been stunned,recovering himself, gave me so many boxes with his wings on both sidesof my head and body, though I held him at arm's length and was out ofthe reach of his claws, that I was twenty times thinking of letting himgo. But I was soon relieved by one of our servants, who wrung off thebird's neck, and I had him next day for dinner by the queen's command.This linnet, as near as I can remember, seemed to be somewhat largerthan an English swan.
The queen, who often used to hear me talk of my sea-voyages, and tookall occasions to divert me when I was melancholy, asked me, whether Iunderstood how to handle a sail or an oar, and whether a little exerciseof rowing might not be convenient for my health. I answered, that Iunderstood both very well; for, although nay proper employment had beento be surgeon or doctor to the ship, yet often, upon a pinch, I wasforced to work like a common mariner. But I could not see how this couldbe done in their country, where the smallest wherry was equal to afirst-rate man-of-war among us, and such a boat as I could manage wouldnever live in any of their rivers.
"THE SMALLER BIRDS DID NOT APPEAR TO BE AT ALL AFRAID OFME." P. 57.]
Her majesty said, if I could contrive a boat, her own joiner should makeit, and she would provide a place for me to sail in. The fellow was aningenious workman, and, by my instructions, in ten days finished apleasure-boat, with all its tackling, able conveniently to hold eightEuropeans. When it was finished, the queen was so delighted that sheran with it in her lap to the king, who ordered it to be put in acistern full of water, with me in it, by way of trial; where I could notmanage my two sculls, or little oars, for want of room.
But the queen had before contrived another project. She ordered thejoiner to make a wooden trough of three hundred feet long, fifty broad,and eight deep; which, being well pitched, to prevent leaking, wasplaced on the floor along the wall in an outer room of the palace. Ithad a cock near the bottom to let out the water, when it began to growstale; and two servants could easily fill it in half-an-hour. Here Ioften used to row for my own diversion, as well as that of the queen andher ladies, who thought themselves well entertained with my skill andagility. Sometimes I would put up my sail, and then my business was onlyto steer, while the ladies gave me a gale with their fans; and when theywere weary, some of their pages would blow my sail forward with theirbreath, while I showed my art by steering starboard or larboard, asI pleased. When I had done, Glumdalclitch always carried back my boat,into her closet, and hung it oh a nail to dry.
In this exercise I once met an accident, which had like to have cost memy life; for one of the pages having put my boat into the trough, thegoverness, who attended Glumdalclitch, very officiously lifted me up toplace me in the boat, but I happened to slip through her fingers, andshould infallibly have fallen down forty feet upon the floor, if, by theluckiest chance in the world, I had not been stopped by acorking-pin that stuck in the good gentlewoman's stomacher; thehead of the pin passed between my shirt and the waistband of mybreeches, and thus I held by the middle in the air, till Glumdalclitchran to my relief.
"GAVE ME A GALE WITH THEIR FANS." P. 60.]
Another time, one of the servants, whose office it was to fill my troughevery third day with fresh water, was so careless as to let a huge
But the greatest danger I ever underwent in that kingdom was from amonkey, who belonged to one of the clerks of the kitchen. Glumdalclitchhad locked the up in her closet, while she went somewhere upon businessor a visit. The weather being very warm the closet window was left open,as well as the windows and the door of my bigger box, in which I usuallylived, because of its largeness and conveniency. As I sat quietlymeditating at my table, I heard something bounce in at the closetwindow, and skip about from one side to the other; whereat, although Iwas much alarmed, yet I ventured to look out, but not stirring from myseat; and then I saw this frolicsome animal frisking and leaping up anddown, till at last he came to my box, which he seemed to view withgreat pleasure and curiosity, peeping in at the door and every window.
I retreated to the farther corner of my room or box; but the monkeylooking in at every side, put me into such a fright that I wantedpresence of mind to conceal myself under the bed, as I might easily havedone. After some time spent in peeping, grinning, and chattering, he atlast espied me, and reaching one of his paws in at the door, as a catdoes when she plays with a mouse, although I often shifted place toavoid him, he at length seized the lappet of my coat (which, being madeof that country silk, was very thick and strong), and dragged me out. Hetook me out in his right fore-foot, and held me as a nurse does a child,just as I have seen the same sort of creature do with a kitten inEurope: and, when I offered to struggle, he squeezed me so hard that Ithought it more prudent to submit. I have good reason to believe that hetook me for a young one of his own species, by his often stroking myface very gently with his other paw.
In these diversions he was interrupted by a noise at the closet door, asif somebody were opening it; whereupon he suddenly leaped up to thewindow, at which he had come in, and thence upon the leads and gutterswalking upon three legs, and holding me in the fourth, till he clamberedup to a roof that was next to ours. I heard Glumdalclitch give a shriekat the moment he was carrying me out. The poor girl was almostdistracted. That quarter of the palace was all in an uproar; theservants ran for ladders; the monkey was seen by hundreds in the court,sitting upon the ridge of a building, holding me like a baby in one ofhis fore-paws: whereat many of the rabble below could not forbearlaughing; neither do I think they justly ought to be blamed, for withoutquestion, the sight was ridiculous enough to everybody but myself. Someof the people threw up stones, hoping to drive the monkey down; but thiswas strictly forbidden, or else very probably my brains had been dashedout.
The ladders were now applied, and mounted by several men, which themonkey observing, and finding himself almost encompassed, not being ableto make speed enough with his three legs, let me drop on a ridge tile,and made his escape. Here I sat for some time, five hundred yards fromthe ground, expecting every moment to be blown down by the wind, or tofall by my own giddiness, and come tumbling over and over from the ridgeto the eaves; but an honest lad, one of my nurse's footmen, climbed up,and putting me into his breeches-pocket, brought me down safe.
I was so weak and bruised in the sides with the squeezes given me bythis odious animal, that I was forced to keep my bed a fortnight. Theking, queen, and all the court, sent every day to inquire after myhealth, and her majesty made me several visits during my sickness. Themonkey was killed, and an order made that no such animal should be keptabout the palace.
When I attended the king, after my recovery, to return him thanks forhis favors, he was pleased to rally me a good deal upon this adventure.He asked me what my thoughts and speculations were while I lay in themonkey's paw. He desired to know what I would have done upon such anoccasion in my own country. I told his majesty that in Europe we had nomonkeys, except such as were brought for curiosities from other places,and so small, that I could deal with a dozen of them together if theypresumed to attack me. And as for that monstrous animal with whom I wasso lately engaged (it was, indeed, as large as an elephant) if my fearshad suffered me to think so far as to make use of my hanger (lookingfiercely, and clapping my hand upon the hilt, as I spoke) when he pokedhis paw into my chamber, perhaps I should have given him such a wound aswould have made him glad to withdraw it with more haste than he put itin. This I delivered in a firm tone, like a person who was jealous lesthis courage should be called in question.
However, my speech produced nothing else besides a loud laughter, whichall the respect due to his majesty from those about him could not makethem contain. This made me reflect how vain an attempt it is for a manto endeavor to do himself honor among those who are out of all degree ofequality or comparison with him. And yet I have seen the moral of my ownbehavior very frequent in England since my return, where a littlecontemptible varlet, without the least title to birth, person, wit,or common-sense, shall presume to look with importance, and put himselfupon a foot with the greatest persons of the kingdom.
I was every day furnishing the court with some ridiculous story; andGlumdalclitch, although she loved me to excess, yet was arch enough toinform the queen whenever I committed any folly that she thought wouldbe diverting to her majesty. The girl, who had been out of order, wascarried by her governess to take the air about an hour's distance, orthirty miles from town. They alighted out of the coach near a smallfootpath in a field, and, Glumdalclitch setting down my travelling-box,I went out of it to walk. There was a pool of mud in the path, and Imust needs try my activity by attempting to leap over it. I took a run,but unfortunately jumped short, and found myself just in the middle upto my knees. I waded through with some difficulty, and one of thefootmen wiped me as clean as he could with his handkerchief, for I wasfilthily bemired; and my nurse confined me to my box till we returnedhome, when the queen was soon informed of what had passed, and thefootman spread it about the court; so that all the mirth for some dayswas at my expense.
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