Gullivers travels into s.., p.9
Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Regions of the World, p.9Jonathan Swift
THE AUTHOR, BY AN EXTRAORDINARY STRATAGEM, PREVENTS AN INVASION. A HIGH TITLE OF HONOR IS CONFERRED UPON HIM. AMBASSADORS ARRIVE FROM THE EMPEROR OF BLEFUSCU, AND SUE FOR PEACE. THE EMPRESS'S APARTMENT ON FIRE, BY ACCIDENT; THE AUTHOR INSTRUMENTAL IN SAVING THE REST OF THE PALACE.
The empire of Blefuscu is an island, situate to the north northeast ofLilliput, from whence it is parted only by a channel of eight hundredyards wide. I had not yet seen it; and upon this notice of an intendedinvasion, I avoided appearing on that side of the coast, for fear ofbeing discovered by some of the enemy's ships, who had received nointelligence of me, all intercourse between the two empires having beenstrictly forbidden during the war, upon the pain of death, and anembargo laid by our emperor upon all vessels whatsoever.
I communicated to his majesty a project I had formed, of seizing theenemy's whole fleet; which, as our scouts assured us, lay at anchor inthe harbor, ready to sail with the first fair wind. I consulted the mostexperienced seamen upon the depth of the channel, which they had oftenplumbed; who told me, that in the middle, at high water, it was seventy_glumgluffs_ deep, which is about six feet of European measure; and therest of it fifty _glumgluffs_ at most. I walked towards the northeastcoast, over against Blefuscu; where, lying down behind a hillock, I tookout my small perspective glass, and viewed the enemy's fleet at anchor,consisting of about fifty men-of-war, and a great number of transports;I then came back to my house, and gave orders (for which I had awarrant) for a great quantity of the strongest cable and bars of iron.The cable was about as thick as packthread, and the bars of the lengthand size of a knitting needle. I trebled the cable, to make it stronger;and, for the same reason, I twisted three of the iron bars together,bending the extremities into a hook.
Having thus fixed fifty hooks to as many cables, I went back to thenortheast coast, and putting off my coat, shoes, and stockings, walkedinto the sea in my leathern jerkin, about half an hour beforehigh-water. I waded with what haste I could, and swam in the middleabout thirty yards, till I felt ground; I arrived at the fleet in lessthan half an hour. The enemy were so frightened, when they saw me, thatthey leaped out of their ships, and swam to shore, where there could notbe fewer than thirty thousand souls: I then took my tackling, andfastening a hook to the hole at the prow of each, I tied all the cordstogether at the end.
While I was thus employed, the enemy discharged several thousand arrows,many of which stuck in my hands and face; and, besides the excessivesmart, gave me much disturbance in my work. My greatest apprehension wasfor mine eyes, which I should have infallibly lost, if I had notsuddenly thought of an expedient. I kept, among other littlenecessaries, a pair of spectacles, in a private pocket, which, as Iobserved before, had escaped the emperor's searchers. These I took out,and fastened as strongly as I could upon my nose, and thus armed, wenton boldly with my work, in spite of the enemy's arrows, many of whichstruck against the glasses of my spectacles, but without any othereffect, farther than a little to discompose them. I had now fastenedall the hooks, and, taking the knot in my hand, began to pull: but not aship would stir, for they were all too fast held by their anchors; sothat the boldest part of my enterprise remained. I therefore let go thecord, and, leaving the hooks fixed to the ships, I resolutely cut withmy knife the cables that fastened the anchors, receiving above twohundred shots in my face and hands; then I took up the knotted end ofthe cables, to which my hooks were tied, and, with great ease, drewfifty of the enemy's largest men-of-war after me.
The Blefuscudians, who had not the least imagination of what I intended,were at first confounded with astonishment. They had seen me cut thecables, and thought my design was only to let the ships run adrift, orfall foul on each other: but when they perceived the whole fleet movingin order, and saw me pulling at the end, they set up such a scream ofgrief and despair as it is almost impossible to describe or conceive.When I had got out of danger, I stopped awhile to pick out the arrowsthat stuck in my hands and face: and rubbed on some of the same ointmentthat was given me at my first arrival, as I have formerly mentioned. Ithen took off my spectacles, and waiting about an hour, till the tidewas a little fallen, I waded through the middle with my cargo, andarrived safe at the royal port of Lilliput.
The emperor and his whole court stood on the shore, expecting the issueof this great adventure. They saw the ships move forward in a largehalf-moon, but could not discern me, who was up to my breast in water.When I advanced to the middle of the channel, they were yet more inpain, because I was under water to my neck. The emperor concluded me tobe drowned, and that the enemy's fleet was approaching in an hostilemanner: but he was soon eased of his fears; for the channel growingshallower every step I made, I came in a short time within hearing; andholding up the end of the cable, by which the fleet was fastened, Icried in a loud voice, Long live the most puissant emperor ofLilliput! This great prince received me at my landing, with all possibleencomiums, and created me a _nardac_ upon the spot, which is the highesttitle of honor among them.
His majesty desired I would take some other opportunity of bringing allthe rest of his enemy's ships into his ports. And so immeasurable is theambition of princes, that he seemed to think of nothing less thanreducing the whole empire of Blefuscu into a province, and governing itby viceroy; of destroying the Big-endian exiles, and compelling thatpeople to break the smaller end of their eggs, by which he would remainthe sole monarch of the whole world. But I endeavored to divert him fromthis design, by many arguments, drawn from the topics of policy, as wellas justice. And I plainly protested, that I would never be an instrumentof bringing a free and brave people into slavery. And when the matterwas debated in council, the wisest part of the ministry were of myopinion.
"AND CREATED ME A _NARDAC_ UPON THE SPOT." P. 58.]
This open, bold declaration of mine was so opposite to the schemes andpolitics of his imperial majesty, that he could never forgive me; hementioned it, in a very artful manner, at council, where, I was told,that some of the wisest appeared, at least by their silence, to be of myopinion; but others, who were my secret enemies, could not forbear someexpressions, which by a side-wind reflected on me. And, from this timebegan an intrigue between his majesty and a junto of ministersmaliciously bent against me, which broke out in less than two months,and had like to have ended in my utter destruction. Of so little weightare the greatest services to princes, when put into the balance with arefusal to gratify their passions.
About three weeks after this exploit, there arrived a solemn embassyfrom Blefuscu, with humble offers of peace; which was soon concluded,upon conditions very advantageous to our emperor, wherewith I shall nottrouble the reader. There were six ambassadors, with a train of aboutfive hundred persons; and their entry was very magnificent, suitable tothe grandeur of their master, and the importance of their business. Whentheir treaty was finished, wherein I did them several good offices, bythe credit I now had, or at least appeared to have at court, theirexcellencies, who were privately told how much I had been their friend,made me a visit in form. They began with many compliments upon my valorand generosity, invited me to that kingdom, in the emperor theirmaster's name, and desired me to show some proofs of my prodigiousstrength, of which they had heard so many wonders; wherein I readilyobliged them, but shall not trouble the reader with the particulars.
When I had for some time entertained their Excellencies, to theirinfinite satisfaction and surprise, I desired they would do me the honorto present my most humble respects to the emperor their master, therenown of whose virtues had so justly filled the whole world withadmiration, and whose royal person I resolved to attend, before Ireturned to my own country. Accordingly, the next time I had the honorto see our emperor, I desired his general license to wait on theBlefuscudian monarch, which he was pleased to grant me, as I couldplainly perceive, in a very cold manner; but could not guess the reason,till I had a whisper from a certain person, that Flimnap and Bolgolamhad represented my intercour
It is to be observed, that these ambassadors spoke to me by aninterpreter, the languages of both empires differing as much from eachother as any two in Europe, and each nation priding itself upon theantiquity, beauty, and energy of its own tongue, with an avowed contemptfor that of its neighbor; yet our emperor, standing upon the advantagehe had got by the seizure of their fleet, obliged them to deliver theircredentials, and make their speech in the Lilliputian tongue.
And it must be confessed, that, from the great intercourse of trade andcommerce between both realms; from the continual reception of exiles,which is mutual among them; and from the custom in each empire, to sendtheir young nobility, and richer gentry, to the other, in order topolish themselves, by seeing the world, and understanding men andmanners; there are few persons of distinction, or merchants, or, seamen,who dwell in the maritime parts, but what can hold conversation in bothtongues, as I found some weeks after, when I went to pay my respects tothe Emperor of Blefuscu, which, in the midst of great misfortunes,through the malice of my enemies, proved a very happy adventure to me,as I shall relate in its proper place.
The reader may remember, that when I signed those articles, upon which Irecovered my liberty, there were some which I disliked, upon account oftheir being too servile; neither could anything but an extreme necessityhave forced me to submit. But, being now a _nardac_ of the highest rankin that empire, such offices were looked upon as below my dignity, andthe emperor, to do him justice, never once mentioned them to me.However, it was not long before I had an opportunity of doing hismajesty, at least as I then thought, a most signal service. I wasalarmed at midnight with the cries of many hundred people at my door, bywhich, being suddenly awaked, I was in some kind of terror. I heard theword _burglum_ repeated incessantly.
Several of the emperor's court, making their way through the crowd,entreated me to come immediately to the palace, where her imperialmajesty's apartment was on fire, by the carelessness of a maid of honor,who fell asleep while she was reading a romance. I got up in an instant;and orders being given to clear the way before me, and it being likewisea moonshine night, I made a shift to get to the palace, withouttrampling on any of the people. I found they had already applied laddersto the walls of the apartment, and were well provided with buckets, butthe water was at some distance. These buckets were about the size of alarge thimble, and the poor people supplied me with them as fast as theycould; but the flame was so violent that they did little good. I mighteasily have stifled it with my coat, which I unfortunately left behindme for haste, and came away only in my leathern jerkin. The case seemedwholly desperate and deplorable, and this magnificent palace would haveinfallibly been burnt down to the ground, if, by a presence of mindunusual to me, I had not suddenly thought of an expedient by which inthree minutes the fire was wholly extinguished, and the rest of thatnoble pile, which had cost so many ages in erecting, preserved fromdestruction.
It was now daylight, and I returned to my house, without waiting tocongratulate with the emperor; because, although I had done a veryeminent piece of service, yet I could not tell how his majesty mightresent the manner by which I had performed it: for, by the fundamentallaws of the realm, it is capital in any man, of what quality soever, toeven touch the empress or the royal princesses without invitation. But Iwas a little comforted by a message from his majesty, that he would giveorders to the grand justiciary for passing my pardon in form, which,however, I could not obtain. And I was privately assured that theempress, conceiving the greatest abhorrence of me, and, in the presenceof her chief confidants, could not forbear vowing revenge.
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