Gullivers travels into s.., p.7
Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Regions of the World, p.7Jonathan Swift
THE AUTHOR DIVERTS THE EMPEROR AND HIS NOBILITY OF BOTH SEXES IN A VERY UNCOMMON MANNER. THE DIVERSIONS OF THE COURT OF LILLIPUT DESCRIBED. THE AUTHOR HAS HIS LIBERTY GRANTED HIM UPON CERTAIN CONDITIONS.
My gentleness and good behavior had gained so far on the emperor and hiscourt, and indeed upon the army and people in general, that I began toconceive hopes of getting my liberty in a short time, I took allpossible methods to cultivate this favorable disposition. The nativescame by degrees to be less apprehensive of any danger from me. I wouldsometimes lie down, and let five or six of them dance on my hand, and atlast the boys and girls would venture to come and play at hide and seekin my hair. I had now made a good progress in understanding and speakingtheir language.
The emperor had a mind, one day, to entertain me with one of the countryshows, wherein they exceed all nations I have known, both for dexterityand magnificence. I was diverted with none so much as that of therope-dancers, performed upon a slender white thread, extended about twofeet, and twelve inches from the ground. Upon which I shall desireliberty, with the reader's patience, to enlarge a little.
This diversion is only practised by those persons who are candidates forgreat employments and high favor at court. They are trained in this artfrom their youth, and are not always of noble birth or liberaleducation. When a great office is vacant, either by death or disgrace(which often happens) five or six of those candidates petition theemperor to entertain his majesty, and the court, with a dance on therope, and whoever jumps the highest, without falling, succeeds in theoffice. Very often the chief ministers themselves are commanded to showtheir skill, and to convince the emperor that they have not lost theirfaculty. Flimnap, the treasurer, is allowed to cut a caper on thestraight rope, at least an inch higher than any lord in the wholeempire. I have seen him do the summersault several times together upon atrencher, fixed on a rope, which is no thicker than a commonpackthread in England. My friend Reldresal, principal secretary forprivate affairs, is, in my opinion, if I am not partial, the secondafter the treasurer; the rest of the great officers are much upon a par.
These diversions are often attended with fatal accidents, whereof greatnumbers are on record. I myself have seen two or three candidates breaka limb. But the danger is much greater when the ministers themselves arecommanded to show their dexterity! for, by contending to excelthemselves and their fellows, they strain so far that there is hardlyone of them who hath not received a fall, and some of them two or three.I was assured that a year or two before my arrival, Flimnap would haveinfallibly broke his neck if one of the king's cushions, thataccidentally lay on the ground, had not weakened the force of his fall.
There is likewise another diversion, which is only shown before theemperor and empress and first minister, upon particular occasions. Theemperor lays on the table three fine silken threads, of six inches long;one is purple, the other yellow, and the third white. These threads areproposed as prizes for those persons whom the emperor hath a mind todistinguish by a peculiar mark of his favor. The ceremony is performedin his majesty's great chamber of state, where the candidates are toundergo a trial of dexterity very different from the former, and such asI have not observed the least resemblance of in any other country of theold or new world.
The emperor holds a stick in his hands, both ends parallel to thehorizon, while the candidates, advancing one by one, sometimes leap overthe stick, sometimes creep under it, backwards and forwards severaltimes, according as the stick is advanced or depressed. Sometimes theemperor holds one end of the stick, and his first minister the other:sometimes the minister has it entirely to himself. Whoever performs hispart with most agility, and holds out the longest in leaping andcreeping, is rewarded with the blue-colored silk; the yellow is given tothe next, and the green to the third, which they all wear girt twiceabout the middle; and you see few great persons round about this courtwho are not adorned with one of these girdles.
The horses of the army, and those of the royal stables, having beendaily led before me, were no longer shy, but would come up to my veryfeet without starting. The riders would leap them over my hand as I heldit on the ground; and one of the emperor's huntsmen, upon a largecourser, took my foot, shoe and all, which was indeed a prodigious leap.
I had the good fortune to divert the emperor one day after a veryextraordinary manner. I desired he would order several sticks of twofeet high, and the thickness of an ordinary cane, to be brought me;whereupon his majesty commanded the master of his woods to givedirections accordingly; and the next morning six wood-men arrived withas many carriages, drawn by eight horses to each.
I took nine of these sticks, and fixing them firmly in the ground in aquadrangular figure, two feet and a half square, I took four othersticks and tied them parallel at each corner, about two feet from theground; then I fastened my handkerchief to the nine sticks that stooderect, and extended it on all sides, till it was as tight as the top ofa drum; and the four parallel sticks, rising about five inches higherthan the handkerchief, served as ledges on each side.
When I had finished my work, I desired the emperor to let a troop of hisbest horse, twenty-four in number, come and exercise upon this plain.His majesty approved of the proposal, and I took them up one by one inmy hands, ready mounted and armed, with the proper officers to exercisethem. As soon as they got into order, they divided into two parties,performed mock skirmishes, discharged blunt arrows, drew their swords,fled and pursued, attacked and retired, and, in short, discovered thebest military discipline I ever beheld. The parallel sticks secured themand their horses from falling over the stage: and the emperor was somuch delighted that he ordered this entertainment to be repeated severaldays, and once was pleased to be lifted up and give the word of command;and, with great difficulty, persuaded even the empress herself to let mehold her in her close chair within two yards of the stage, from whenceshe was able to take a full view of the whole performance.
It was my good fortune that no ill accident happened in theseentertainments; only once a fiery horse, that belonged to one of thecaptains, pawing with his hoof, struck a hole in my handkerchief, andhis foot slipping, he overthrew his rider and himself; but I immediatelyrelieved them both, and covering the hole with one hand, I set down thetroop with the other, in the same manner as I took them up. The horsethat fell was strained in the left shoulder, but the rider got no hurt,and I repaired my handkerchief as well as I could; however, I would nottrust to the strength of it any more in such dangerous enterprises.
About two or three days before I was set at liberty, as I wasentertaining the court with feats of this kind, there arrived an expressto inform his majesty that some of his subjects riding near the placewhere I was first taken up, had seen a great black substance lying onthe ground, very oddly shaped, extending its edges round as wide as hismajesty's bed-chamber, and rising up in the middle as high as a man;that it was no living creature, as they had at first apprehended, for itlay on the grass without motion; and some of them had walked round itseveral times; that, by mounting upon each other's shoulders, they hadgot to the top, which was flat and even, and, stamping upon it, theyfound it was hollow within; that they humbly conceived it might besomething belonging to the man-mountain; and if his majesty pleased,they would undertake to bring it with only five horses.
I presently knew what they meant, and was glad at heart to receive thisintelligence. It seems, upon my first reaching the shore after ourshipwreck, I was in such confusion that, before I came to the placewhere I went to sleep, my hat, which I had fastened with a string to myhead while I was rowing, and had stuck on all the time I was swimming,fell off after I came to land; the string, as I conjecture, breaking bysome accident which I never observed, but thought my hat had been lostat sea. I intreated his imperial majesty to give orders it might bebrought to me as soon as possible, describing to him the use and natureof it; and the next day the wagoners arrived with it, but not in a verygood condition; they had bored two holes in
Two days after this adventure, the emperor, having ordered that part ofthe army which quarters in and about his metropolis to be in readiness,took a fancy of diverting himself in a very singular manner. He desiredI would stand like a colossus, with my legs as far asunder as Iconveniently could. He then commanded his general (who was an old,experienced leader and a great patron of mine) to draw up the troops inclose order and march under me; the foot by twenty-four abreast and thehorse by sixteen, with drums beating, colors flying, and pikes advanced.This body consisted of three thousand foot and a thousand horse.
I had sent so many memorials and petitions for my liberty, that hismajesty at length mentioned the matter, first in the cabinet, and thenin full council; where it was opposed by none, except Skyrris Bolgolamwho was pleased, without any provocation, to be my mortal enemy. But itwas carried against him by the whole board, and confirmed by theemperor. That minister was _galbet_, or admiral of the realm, very muchin his master's confidence, and a person well versed in affairs, but ofa morose and sour complexion. However, he was at length persuaded tocomply; but prevailed, that the articles and conditions upon which Ishould be set free, and to which I must swear, should be drawn up byhimself.
These articles were brought to me by Skyrris Bolgolam in person,attended by two under-secretaries, and several persons of distinction.After they were read, I was demanded to swear to the performance ofthem, first in the manner of my own country, and afterwards in themethod prescribed by their laws; which was, to hold my right foot in myleft hand, and to place the middle finger of my right hand on the crownof my head, and my thumb on the tip of my right ear.
But because the reader may be curious to have some idea of the style andmanner of expression peculiar to that people, as well as to know thearticles upon which I recovered my liberty, I have made a translation ofthe whole instrument, word for word, as near as I was able, which I hereoffer to the public.
_Golbasto Momaren Evlame Gurdilo Shefin Mully Ully Gue_, Most MightyEmperor of Lilliput, delight and terror of the universe, whose dominionsextend five thousand _blustrugs_ (about twelve miles in circumference) tothe extremities of the globe; monarch of all monarchs, taller than thesons of men; whose feet press down to the centre, and whose head strikesagainst the sun; at whose nod the princes of the earth shake theirknees; pleasant as the spring, comfortable as the summer, fruitful asautumn, dreadful as winter. His most sublime majesty proposeth to theman-mountain, lately arrived at our celestial dominions, the followingarticles, which by a solemn oath he shall be obliged to perform.
First. The man-mountain shall not depart from our dominions without ourlicense under our great seal.
Second. He shall not presume to come into our metropolis, without ourexpress order, at which time the inhabitants shall have two hourswarning to keep within doors.
Third. The said man-mountain shall confine his walks to our principalhigh roads, and not offer to walk or lie down in a meadow or field ofcorn.
Fourth. As he walks the said roads, he shall take the utmost care not totrample upon the bodies of any of our loving subjects, their horses orcarriages, nor take any of our subjects into his hands without their ownconsent.
Fifth. If an express requires extraordinary despatch, the man-mountainshall be obliged to carry in his pocket the messenger and horse asix-days' journey once in every moon, and return the said messenger back(if so required) safe to our imperial presence.
Sixth. He shall be our ally against our enemies in the island ofBlefuscu, and do his utmost to destroy their fleet, which is nowpreparing to invade us.
Seventh. That the said man-mountain shall at his times of leisure beaiding and assisting to our workmen, in helping to raise certain greatstones, towards covering the wall of the principal park, and other ourroyal buildings.
Eighth. That the said man-mountain shall, in two moons time, deliver inan exact survey of the circumference of our dominions, by a computationof his own paces round the coast.
Lastly. That upon his solemn oath to observe all the above articles, thesaid man-mountain shall have a daily allowance of meat and drinksufficient for the support of 1724 of our subjects, with free access toour royal person, and other marks of our favor. Given at our palace atBelfaborac, the twelfth day of the ninety-first moon of our reign.
I swore and subscribed to the articles with great cheerfulness andcontent, although some of them were not so honorable as I could havewished; which proceeded wholly from the malice of Skyrris Bolgolam, thehigh admiral; whereupon my chains were immediately unlocked, and I wasat full liberty. The emperor himself in person did me the honor to be byat the whole ceremony. I made my acknowledgments, by prostrating myselfat his majesty's feet: but he commanded me to rise; and after manygracious expressions, which, to avoid the censure of vanity, I shall notrepeat, he added, that he hoped I should prove a useful servant, andwell deserve all the favors he had already conferred upon me, or mightdo for the future.
The reader may please to observe, that, in the last article for therecovery of my liberty, the emperor stipulates to allow me a quantity ofmeat and drink sufficient for the support of 1724 Lilliputians. Sometime after, asking a friend at court, how they came to fix on thatdeterminate number, he told me, that his majesty's mathematicians havingtaken the height of my body by the help of a quadrant, and findingit to exceed theirs in the proportion of twelve to one, they concluded,from the similarity of their bodies, that mine must contain at least1724 of theirs, and consequently would require as much food as wasnecessary to support that number of Lilliputians. By which the readermay conceive an idea of the ingenuity of that people, as well as theprudent and exact economy of so great a prince.
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