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Into Several Remote Nations of the World
by Jonathan Swift
The original, squashed down to read in about 25 minutes
Jonathan Swift was a political pamphleteer and Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin. Gulliver is both a satire on human nature and a parody of the travellers' tales of the day. It was immensely popular, the poet John Gay said that "it is universally read, from the cabinet council to the nursery", yet it was denounced as "wicked and obscene" in his own land.
Into Several Remote Nations of the World
THE PUBLISHER TO THE READER
PART I: A VOYAGE TO LILLIPUT
My father had a small estate in Nottinghamshire, but the charge of maintaining me at Cambridge being too great, after three years there I was bound apprentice to an eminent surgeon in London; in my spare time I studied navigation, and mathematics, useful to those who travel, as I always believed, at some time, it would be my fortune to do.
After studying physics in Leyden for two years, I became surgeon to the Swallow, and made a voyage or two in the Levant. I then settled in London, married, but after some years, my business beginning to fail, having consulted with my wife, I determined to go again to sea and made several voyages to the East and West Indies, by which I got some addition to my fortune.
In 1699, being on a voyage in the South Seas, we were driven on a rock, and the ship immediately split. I conclude my companions were all lost; for my part, I swam as fortune directed me, and being pushed forward by wind and tide, found myself at last within my depth, and had to wade near a mile before I got to shore. I was extremely tired, and lay down on the grass and slept soundly until daylight. I attempted to rise, but found myself strongly fastened to the ground, not able to turn even my head. I felt something moving gently up my leg, and over my breast, when bending my eyes downward, I perceived a human creature, not six inches high, with a bow and arrows in his hand; and felt a number more following him. I roared so loud, they all fell off in a fright, but soon returned. I struggled, and broke the strings that fastened my left hand, but the creatures ran off before I could seize them, and I felt about a hundred arrows discharged into my left hand, which pricked like so many needles. I lay still, groaning with grief and pain, till some of the inhabitants came and cut the strings that fastened my head, when turning it a little I saw one, who seemed to be a person of quality, who made me a long speech, of which I understood not one word; but in which I could observe many periods of threatening, and others of pity and kindness.
I answered in the most submissive manner, and being famished with hunger (perhaps against the strict rules of decency), put my finger in my mouth, to signify I wanted food. He understood me very well. Several ladders were applied to my sides, and a hundred of the inhabitants mounted, laden with food and drink, and supplied me as fast as they could, with marks of wonder at my bulk and appetite.
It seems that at the first moment I was discovered, the Emperor had notice by an express, and it was determined in council that I should be secured and fed, and at once conveyed to the capital city.
A sleepy potion having been mingled with my wine, I again slept. These people have arrived to a great perfection in mechanics, and by means of cords and pulleys, in less than three hours, I was raised and slung on to the largest of their machines, used for the carriage of trees and other great weights. Fifteen hundred of the largest horses, each about four and a half inches high, were employed to draw me towards the metropolis. The Emperor and all his Court came out to meet us. In the largest temple in the kingdom, disused because polluted by a murder some years before, I was to be lodged, secured by fourscore and eleven chains locked to my left leg. They were about two yards long and being fixed within four inches of the gate of the temple, allowed me to creep in and lie on the ground at my full length.
The Emperor is taller, by almost the breadth of my nail, than any of his court, his features strong and masculine, and his deportment majestic. He had reigned for seven years in great felicity, and generally victorious. I lay on my side, for the better convenience of beholding him, but I have had him many times since in my hand, and therefore cannot be deceived in this description. He held his sword drawn in his hand to defend himself, if I should happen to break loose, and spoke to me many times, and I answered, but neither of us could understand a syllable.
The Emperor had frequent councils to debate what course should be taken with me; they apprehended I might break loose; or might cause a famine; but my behaviour had made a favourable impression, and his Majesty made provision for me out of his own Treasury, and coming frequently to see me, I soon learnt to express my desire for liberty, which was after a time granted on certain conditions.
I soon learnt, in spite of its flourishing appearance, this country laboured under two evils; a violent faction at home, and the danger of invasion, by a most potent enemy, from abroad. The two parties in the kingdom were distinguished by the high or low heels of their shoes. The high heels were most agreeable to their ancient constitution, but the present Emperor was determined only to make use of low heels in the administration of the government-but the heir apparent seemed to have some tendency to high heels.
They were threatened with an invasion from the Island of Blefusco, which had been engaged in an obstinate war with Lilliput for a long time, on a question of a schism in religion. They had now prepared a numerous fleet, and were about to descend upon us, and his Majesty, in his confidence in my strength and valour, laid this account of his affairs before me.
I Depart from Blefusco
Having ascertained the depth of the channel between the two countries, and viewed the enemy's fleet through my perspective glass, I obtained a great quantity of cable and bars of iron. I twisted the bars into hooks which I fixed to fifty cables, and walked into the sea, wading with what haste I could, swam about thirty yards in the middle, and arrived at the fleet in about half an hour.
The enemy were so frightened when they saw me that they fled, and swam to shore. I then took my tackling, fixed a hook to each vessel, and tied all my cords together at the end; but not a ship would stir, they were held too fast by their anchors. The enemy's arrows disturbed me much, but I resolutely cut all the cables, and with the greatest ease drew fifty of the largest men of war with me. The tide had now fallen, and I waded safe to the royal port of Lilliput, where the Emperor received me with the highest honour. So immeasurable is the ambition of princes, that he thought now of nothing less than the complete submission of Blefusco; but I plainly protested "that I would never be an instrument of bringing a free and brave people into slavery"; and the wisest part of the Council were of my opinion.
His Majesty never forgave me, and an intrigue began which had like to have been my utter ruin; but a considerable person at Court informed me of the schemes against me, and I resolved at once to pay a visit to Blefusco, whose Emperor had sent a solemn embassy to Lilliput with humble offers of peace, and who received me with the generosity suitable to so great a Prince.
Three days after my arrival I observed a boat overturned on the coast, which with great difficulty I managed to get to the royal port of Blefusco; I told the Emperor that my good fortune had thrown this boat in my way, to carry me towards my native country, and begged his orders for materials to fit it up, together with his license to depart, which, after some kind expostulation, he was pleased to grant.
His Majesty of Lilliput had sent an envoy, to ask his brother of Blefusco to have me sent back to be punished as a traitor with the loss of my eyes; so that I resolved to "venture myself on the ocean rather than be an occasion of difference between two such mighty monarchs."
I stored the boat with the carcasses of sheep and oxen, and with bread and drink proportionable, and as much ready-dressed meat as four-hundred cooks could provide. I took with me cows and bulls, and rams and ewes, intending to propagate the breed in my own country; and would gladly have taken a dozen or two of the natives, but this his Majesty would not permit. Besides making a diligent search in my pockets, his Majesty engaged my honour "not to carry away any of his subjects, although by their own desire."
I set sail, and on the third day descried a sail steering to the south-east. I made all the sail I could, and in half an hour she espied me and flung out her flag and fired a gun.
My heart leaped within me to see her English colours, and putting my cows and sheep into my pockets, I soon got on board with all my provisions.
The Captain, a very civil man, and an excellent sailor, treated me with kindness, and we arrived in England with only one misfortune: the rats carried off one of my sheep. The rest I got safely ashore, and made a considerable profit in showing them to persons of quality, and before I began my second voyage I sold them for six hundred pounds.
I stayed but two months with my wife and family, for my insatiable desire of seeing foreign countries would suffer me to stay no longer. I left fifteen hundred pounds with my wife; my uncle had left me a small estate near Epping of about thirty pounds a year, and I had a long lease of the Black Bull in Fetter Lane; so that I was in no danger of leaving my wife and family upon the parish. My son Johnny was at the grammar school, and a towardly child. My daughter Betty (who is now well married) was then at her needlework.
I took leave of them with tears on both sides, and went on board the Adventure, a merchant ship of 300 tons, bound for Surat.
PART II: A VOYAGE TO BROBDINGNAG
We made a good voyage, until we had passed the Straits of Madagascar, when the southern monsoon set in, and we were driven many leagues out of our course. Being in distress for water, and coming in sight of land, some of us went on shore in search of it. I walked alone about a mile, when, seeing nothing to satisfy my curiosity, I was returning when I saw our men already in the boat, and rowing for life to the ship, with a huge creature walking after them, the sea up his knees.
I ran off as fast as I could, up a hill, and along what I took for a highroad, but could see little, on either side the corn rising at least forty feet, until I came to a stone stile, which it was impossible for me to climb. I was looking for a gap in the hedge, when I saw one of the inhabitants in the next field. He seemed as high as an ordinary spire steeple, and took about ten yards at each step. I ran to hide myself in the corn, whence I saw him at the stile calling out in a voice which at first I certainly took for thunder. Seven monsters like himself then came, and began to reap the field where I lay. I made a shift to get away, squeezing myself between the stalks, till I came to a part laid by the rain and wind. It was impossible to advance a step, and I heard the reapers not a hundred yards behind me. Being quite dispirited with toil, I lay down and began to bemoan my widow and fatherless children, when one of the reapers came quite near me, and I screamed as loud as I could, fearing I should be squashed to death by his foot. He looked about, and at last espying me, took me carefully behind, between his finger and thumb, as I myself had done with a weasel in England.
I resolved not to struggle, but ventured to put my hands together in a supplicating manner, and say some words in a humble, melancholy tone, and letting him know by my gestures how grievously he pinched my sides. He seemed to apprehend my meaning, and put me gently in the lapel of his coat, and ran along to show me to his master, the substantial farmer I had first seen in the field.
He placed me gently on all fours on the ground, but I immediately got up, and walked slowly backwards and forwards to let those people see I had no intent to run away. They all sat down in a circle round me, and the farmer was soon convinced I was a rational creature, but we were quite unintelligible to one another. He put me gently in his handkerchief and took me to show to his wife. She at first screamed, as women do at a toad, but seeing how well I observed the signs her husband made, she, by degrees, grew extremely fond of me.
A servant brought in dinner, and the farmer put me on the table. The wife minced some bread and meat and placed it before me. I made her a low bow, took out my knife and fork, and fell to eating, which gave them great delight. The farmer's youngest son, an arch boy of ten, took me up by the legs and held me so high in the air, that I trembled in every limb; but the farmer snatched me from him and gave him such a box on the ear, as would have felled a European troop of horse to the earth.
I fell on my knees, and pointing to the boy made my master understand I desired his son to be pardoned. The lad took his seat again and I went and kissed his hand, which my master took and made him stroke me gently with it.
When dinner was almost done, the nurse came in with a child of a year old in her arms, who at once began to squall to get me for a plaything.
The mother, out of pure indulgence, held me up to the child, who seized me by the middle and got my head into his mouth, where I roared so loud, the urchin was frightened, and let me drop, and I should have infallibly broke my neck, if the mother had not held her apron underneath.
My mistress, perceiving I was very tired, put me on her own bed after dinner, and covered me with a clean white handkerchief; I slept, and dreamed I was at home with my wife and children, which aggravated my sorrows when I awoke, to find myself alone in a bed twenty feet wide. Two rats had crept up the curtains, and had the boldness to attack me, but I had the good fortune to rip one up with my hanger, before he could do me any mischief, and the other ran away; though not without one good wound. These creatures were the size of a large mastiff, and infinitely more nimble and fierce. My mistress was extremely rejoiced to find I was not hurt, and with her little daughter fitted me up the baby's cradle against night, which was then placed on a shelf for fear of rats.
The daughter, nine years old, and not above forty feet high, was very good natured, became my schoolmistress, and called me Grildrig, which imports in English, mannikin. To her I chiefly owe my preservation: I called her Glumdalclitch, or Little Nurse, and I heartily wish it was in my power to requite her care and affection as she deserves, instead of being, as I have reason to fear, the innocent unhappy instrument of her disgrace.
My master, being advised to show me as a sight in the next town, I was carried there in a box by Glumdalclitch on a pillion behind her father, who, after consulting the inn-keeper, hired the crier to give notice to the town of a strange creature to be seen not six feet long, resembling in every part a human creature, could speak several words, and perform a hundred diverting tricks.
I was shown that day till I was half dead with weariness and vexation, for those who had seen me made such wonderful reports that the people were ready to break down the doors to come in.
My master, finding how profitable I was likely to be, showed me in all the considerable towns in the kingdom, till observing that I was almost reduced to a skeleton, concluded I must soon die, and sold me to the Queen for a thousand pieces of gold. Her Majesty asked me "whether I should be content to live at Court?" I bowed down to the table, and humbly answered, "I should be proud to devote my life to her Majesty's service," and begged the favour that Glumdalclitch might be admitted into her service and continue to be my nurse and instructor.
At the Court of Brobdingnag
Her Majesty agreed, and easily got the farmer's consent, and the poor girl herself was not able to hide her joy.
The Queen was surprised at so much wit and good sense in so small an animal, and took me in her own hand to the King, who, though as learned a person as any in his dominions, conceived I might be a piece of clockwork, until he heard me speak. He sent for three great scholars, who, after much debate, concluded that I was only lusus naturae; a determination agreeable to the modern philosophy of Europe, whose professors have invented this wonderful solution of all difficulties, to the unspeakable advancement of human knowledge.
I entreated to be heard a word or two, and assured them that I came from a country where everything was in proportion, and where, in consequence, I might defend myself and find sustenance. To which they only replied, with a smile of contempt, saying, "that the farmer had instructed me very well in my lesson." The King, who had a much better understanding, dismissed his learned men, and after some further examination, began to think what we told him might be true. A convenient apartment was provided for Glumdalclitch, a governess to attend to her education, a maid to dress her, and two other servants; but the care of me was wholly appropriated to herself. I soon became a great favourite with the King; my little chair and table were placed at his left hand, before the salt-cellar, and he took pleasure in conversing with me, inquiring into the laws, government, and learning of Europe. He made very wise observations upon all I said, but once when I had been a little too copious in talking of my beloved country, he took me up in his hand, and in a hearty fit of laughter asked me if I were a Whig or a Tory? Then, turning to his first minister, observed how contemptible a thing was human grandeur, which could be mimicked by such diminutive insects as I.
But as I was not in a condition to resent injuries, so upon mature thoughts I began to doubt whether I was injured or no. For after being accustomed to the sight of these people for some time, I really began to imagine myself dwindled many degrees below my usual size. My littleness exposed me to many ridiculous and troublesome accidents, which determined Glumdalclitch never to let me go abroad out of her sight. I was, indeed, treated with much kindness, the favourite of the King and Queen, and the delight of the whole Court. But I could never forget the domestic pledges I had left behind me, and longed to be again with people with whom I could converse on equal terms.
About the beginning of the third year of my stay in this country, Glumdalclitch and I attended the King and Queen in a progress round the south coast. I was carried as usual in my travelling box, a very convenient closet about twelve feet wide. I longed to see the ocean, which must be the only scene of my escape, and desired leave to take the air of the sea with a page who sometimes took charge of me.
I shall never forget with what unwillingness Glumdalclitch consented; we were both much tired with our journey, and the poor girl was so ill as to be confined to her chamber. The boy took me out in my box towards the seashore, when ordering him to set me down, I cast many a wistful glance toward the sea.
I found myself not very well, and hoping a nap would do me good soon fell asleep. I conjecture as I slept the page went off to look for birds' eggs, for I was awakened by finding myself raised high in the air and borne forward with prodigious speed. I called out, I looked out, but could see nothing but clouds and sky. I heard a great flapping of wings-they increased very fast, and my box was tossed up and down, and I felt myself falling with incredible swiftness. My fall was stopped by a terrible squash, I was quite in the dark for a minute, then I could see light from the tops of my windows. I had fallen into the sea. I did then, and do now, suppose that the eagle, that had flown away with me, was pursued by two or three others, and forced to let me drop. I was for four hours, under these circumstances, expecting, and, indeed, hoping, every moment to be my last.
I heard a grating sound on the side of my box, and soon felt I was being towed along the sea, and called for help until I was hoarse. In return I heard a great shout, giving me transports of joy, and somebody called in the English tongue that I was safe, for my box was fastened to their ship. The carpenter came, in a few minutes, and sawed a hole, through which I was taken into the ship in a very weak condition.
The Captain, a worthy Shropshire man, was returning to England, and we came into the Downs on the 3rd of June, 1706, about nine months after my escape.
When I came to my own house my wife protested I should never go to sea any more.
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