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Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Part 3 out of 6

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[Several contrivances of the author to please the king and queen.
He shows his skill in music. The king inquires into the state of
England, which the author relates to him. The king's observations

I used to attend the king's levee once or twice a week, and had
often seen him under the barber's hand, which indeed was at first
very terrible to behold; for the razor was almost twice as long as
an ordinary scythe. His majesty, according to the custom of the
country, was only shaved twice a-week. I once prevailed on the
barber to give me some of the suds or lather, out of which I picked
forty or fifty of the strongest stumps of hair. I then took a
piece of fine wood, and cut it like the back of a comb, making
several holes in it at equal distances with as small a needle as I
could get from Glumdalclitch. I fixed in the stumps so
artificially, scraping and sloping them with my knife toward the
points, that I made a very tolerable comb; which was a seasonable
supply, my own being so much broken in the teeth, that it was
almost useless: neither did I know any artist in that country so
nice and exact, as would undertake to make me another.

And this puts me in mind of an amusement, wherein I spent many of
my leisure hours. I desired the queen's woman to save for me the
combings of her majesty's hair, whereof in time I got a good
quantity; and consulting with my friend the cabinet-maker, who had
received general orders to do little jobs for me, I directed him to
make two chair-frames, no larger than those I had in my box, and to
bore little holes with a fine awl, round those parts where I
designed the backs and seats; through these holes I wove the
strongest hairs I could pick out, just after the manner of cane
chairs in England. When they were finished, I made a present of
them to her majesty; who kept them in her cabinet, and used to show
them for curiosities, as indeed they were the wonder of every one
that beheld them. The queen would have me sit upon one of these
chairs, but I absolutely refused to obey her, protesting I would
rather die than place a dishonourable part of my body on those
precious hairs, that once adorned her majesty's head. Of these
hairs (as I had always a mechanical genius) I likewise made a neat
little purse, about five feet long, with her majesty's name
deciphered in gold letters, which I gave to Glumdalclitch, by the
queen's consent. To say the truth, it was more for show than use,
being not of strength to bear the weight of the larger coins, and
therefore she kept nothing in it but some little toys that girls
are fond of.

The king, who delighted in music, had frequent concerts at court,
to which I was sometimes carried, and set in my box on a table to
hear them: but the noise was so great that I could hardly
distinguish the tunes. I am confident that all the drums and
trumpets of a royal army, beating and sounding together just at
your ears, could not equal it. My practice was to have my box
removed from the place where the performers sat, as far as I could,
then to shut the doors and windows of it, and draw the window
curtains; after which I found their music not disagreeable.

I had learned in my youth to play a little upon the spinet.
Glumdalclitch kept one in her chamber, and a master attended twice
a-week to teach her: I called it a spinet, because it somewhat
resembled that instrument, and was played upon in the same manner.
A fancy came into my head, that I would entertain the king and
queen with an English tune upon this instrument. But this appeared
extremely difficult: for the spinet was near sixty feet long, each
key being almost a foot wide, so that with my arms extended I could
not reach to above five keys, and to press them down required a
good smart stroke with my fist, which would be too great a labour,
and to no purpose. The method I contrived was this: I prepared
two round sticks, about the bigness of common cudgels; they were
thicker at one end than the other, and I covered the thicker ends
with pieces of a mouse's skin, that by rapping on them I might
neither damage the tops of the keys nor interrupt the sound.
Before the spinet a bench was placed, about four feet below the
keys, and I was put upon the bench. I ran sideling upon it, that
way and this, as fast as I could, banging the proper keys with my
two sticks, and made a shift to play a jig, to the great
satisfaction of both their majesties; but it was the most violent
exercise I ever underwent; and yet I could not strike above sixteen
keys, nor consequently play the bass and treble together, as other
artists do; which was a great disadvantage to my performance.

The king, who, as I before observed, was a prince of excellent
understanding, would frequently order that I should be brought in
my box, and set upon the table in his closet: he would then
command me to bring one of my chairs out of the box, and sit down
within three yards distance upon the top of the cabinet, which
brought me almost to a level with his face. In this manner I had
several conversations with him. I one day took the freedom to tell
his majesty, "that the contempt he discovered towards Europe, and
the rest of the world, did not seem answerable to those excellent
qualities of mind that he was master of; that reason did not extend
itself with the bulk of the body; on the contrary, we observed in
our country, that the tallest persons were usually the least
provided with it; that among other animals, bees and ants had the
reputation of more industry, art, and sagacity, than many of the
larger kinds; and that, as inconsiderable as he took me to be, I
hoped I might live to do his majesty some signal service." The
king heard me with attention, and began to conceive a much better
opinion of me than he had ever before. He desired "I would give
him as exact an account of the government of England as I possibly
could; because, as fond as princes commonly are of their own
customs (for so he conjectured of other monarchs, by my former
discourses), he should be glad to hear of any thing that might
deserve imitation."

Imagine with thyself, courteous reader, how often I then wished for
the tongue of Demosthenes or Cicero, that might have enabled me to
celebrate the praise of my own dear native country in a style equal
to its merits and felicity.

I began my discourse by informing his majesty, that our dominions
consisted of two islands, which composed three mighty kingdoms,
under one sovereign, beside our plantations in America. I dwelt
long upon the fertility of our soil, and the temperature of our
climate. I then spoke at large upon the constitution of an English
parliament; partly made up of an illustrious body called the House
of Peers; persons of the noblest blood, and of the most ancient and
ample patrimonies. I described that extraordinary care always
taken of their education in arts and arms, to qualify them for
being counsellors both to the king and kingdom; to have a share in
the legislature; to be members of the highest court of judicature,
whence there can be no appeal; and to be champions always ready for
the defence of their prince and country, by their valour, conduct,
and fidelity. That these were the ornament and bulwark of the
kingdom, worthy followers of their most renowned ancestors, whose
honour had been the reward of their virtue, from which their
posterity were never once known to degenerate. To these were
joined several holy persons, as part of that assembly, under the
title of bishops, whose peculiar business is to take care of
religion, and of those who instruct the people therein. These were
searched and sought out through the whole nation, by the prince and
his wisest counsellors, among such of the priesthood as were most
deservedly distinguished by the sanctity of their lives, and the
depth of their erudition; who were indeed the spiritual fathers of
the clergy and the people.

That the other part of the parliament consisted of an assembly
called the House of Commons, who were all principal gentlemen,
freely picked and culled out by the people themselves, for their
great abilities and love of their country, to represent the wisdom
of the whole nation. And that these two bodies made up the most
august assembly in Europe; to whom, in conjunction with the prince,
the whole legislature is committed.

I then descended to the courts of justice; over which the judges,
those venerable sages and interpreters of the law, presided, for
determining the disputed rights and properties of men, as well as
for the punishment of vice and protection of innocence. I
mentioned the prudent management of our treasury; the valour and
achievements of our forces, by sea and land. I computed the number
of our people, by reckoning how many millions there might be of
each religious sect, or political party among us. I did not omit
even our sports and pastimes, or any other particular which I
thought might redound to the honour of my country. And I finished
all with a brief historical account of affairs and events in
England for about a hundred years past.

This conversation was not ended under five audiences, each of
several hours; and the king heard the whole with great attention,
frequently taking notes of what I spoke, as well as memorandums of
what questions he intended to ask me.

When I had put an end to these long discources, his majesty, in a
sixth audience, consulting his notes, proposed many doubts,
queries, and objections, upon every article. He asked, "What
methods were used to cultivate the minds and bodies of our young
nobility, and in what kind of business they commonly spent the
first and teachable parts of their lives? What course was taken to
supply that assembly, when any noble family became extinct? What
qualifications were necessary in those who are to be created new
lords: whether the humour of the prince, a sum of money to a court
lady, or a design of strengthening a party opposite to the public
interest, ever happened to be the motive in those advancements?
What share of knowledge these lords had in the laws of their
country, and how they came by it, so as to enable them to decide
the properties of their fellow-subjects in the last resort?
Whether they were always so free from avarice, partialities, or
want, that a bribe, or some other sinister view, could have no
place among them? Whether those holy lords I spoke of were always
promoted to that rank upon account of their knowledge in religious
matters, and the sanctity of their lives; had never been compliers
with the times, while they were common priests; or slavish
prostitute chaplains to some nobleman, whose opinions they
continued servilely to follow, after they were admitted into that

He then desired to know, "What arts were practised in electing
those whom I called commoners: whether a stranger, with a strong
purse, might not influence the vulgar voters to choose him before
their own landlord, or the most considerable gentleman in the
neighbourhood? How it came to pass, that people were so violently
bent upon getting into this assembly, which I allowed to be a great
trouble and expense, often to the ruin of their families, without
any salary or pension? because this appeared such an exalted strain
of virtue and public spirit, that his majesty seemed to doubt it
might possibly not be always sincere." And he desired to know,
"Whether such zealous gentlemen could have any views of refunding
themselves for the charges and trouble they were at by sacrificing
the public good to the designs of a weak and vicious prince, in
conjunction with a corrupted ministry?" He multiplied his
questions, and sifted me thoroughly upon every part of this head,
proposing numberless inquiries and objections, which I think it not
prudent or convenient to repeat.

Upon what I said in relation to our courts of justice, his majesty
desired to be satisfied in several points: and this I was the
better able to do, having been formerly almost ruined by a long
suit in chancery, which was decreed for me with costs. He asked,
"What time was usually spent in determining between right and
wrong, and what degree of expense? Whether advocates and orators
had liberty to plead in causes manifestly known to be unjust,
vexatious, or oppressive? Whether party, in religion or politics,
were observed to be of any weight in the scale of justice? Whether
those pleading orators were persons educated in the general
knowledge of equity, or only in provincial, national, and other
local customs? Whether they or their judges had any part in
penning those laws, which they assumed the liberty of interpreting,
and glossing upon at their pleasure? Whether they had ever, at
different times, pleaded for and against the same cause, and cited
precedents to prove contrary opinions? Whether they were a rich or
a poor corporation? Whether they received any pecuniary reward for
pleading, or delivering their opinions? And particularly, whether
they were ever admitted as members in the lower senate?"

He fell next upon the management of our treasury; and said, "he
thought my memory had failed me, because I computed our taxes at
about five or six millions a-year, and when I came to mention the
issues, he found they sometimes amounted to more than double; for
the notes he had taken were very particular in this point, because
he hoped, as he told me, that the knowledge of our conduct might be
useful to him, and he could not be deceived in his calculations.
But, if what I told him were true, he was still at a loss how a
kingdom could run out of its estate, like a private person." He
asked me, "who were our creditors; and where we found money to pay
them?" He wondered to hear me talk of such chargeable and
expensive wars; "that certainly we must be a quarrelsome people, or
live among very bad neighbours, and that our generals must needs be
richer than our kings." He asked, what business we had out of our
own islands, unless upon the score of trade, or treaty, or to
defend the coasts with our fleet?" Above all, he was amazed to
hear me talk of a mercenary standing army, in the midst of peace,
and among a free people. He said, "if we were governed by our own
consent, in the persons of our representatives, he could not
imagine of whom we were afraid, or against whom we were to fight;
and would hear my opinion, whether a private man's house might not
be better defended by himself, his children, and family, than by
half-a-dozen rascals, picked up at a venture in the streets for
small wages, who might get a hundred times more by cutting their

He laughed at my "odd kind of arithmetic," as he was pleased to
call it, "in reckoning the numbers of our people, by a computation
drawn from the several sects among us, in religion and politics."
He said, "he knew no reason why those, who entertain opinions
prejudicial to the public, should be obliged to change, or should
not be obliged to conceal them. And as it was tyranny in any
government to require the first, so it was weakness not to enforce
the second: for a man may be allowed to keep poisons in his
closet, but not to vend them about for cordials."

He observed, "that among the diversions of our nobility and gentry,
I had mentioned gaming: he desired to know at what age this
entertainment was usually taken up, and when it was laid down; how
much of their time it employed; whether it ever went so high as to
affect their fortunes; whether mean, vicious people, by their
dexterity in that art, might not arrive at great riches, and
sometimes keep our very nobles in dependence, as well as habituate
them to vile companions, wholly take them from the improvement of
their minds, and force them, by the losses they received, to learn
and practise that infamous dexterity upon others?"

He was perfectly astonished with the historical account gave him of
our affairs during the last century; protesting "it was only a heap
of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions,
banishments, the very worst effects that avarice, faction,
hypocrisy, perfidiousness, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy,
lust, malice, and ambition, could produce."

His majesty, in another audience, was at the pains to recapitulate
the sum of all I had spoken; compared the questions he made with
the answers I had given; then taking me into his hands, and
stroking me gently, delivered himself in these words, which I shall
never forget, nor the manner he spoke them in: "My little friend
Grildrig, you have made a most admirable panegyric upon your
country; you have clearly proved, that ignorance, idleness, and
vice, are the proper ingredients for qualifying a legislator; that
laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied, by those whose
interest and abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding
them. I observe among you some lines of an institution, which, in
its original, might have been tolerable, but these half erased, and
the rest wholly blurred and blotted by corruptions. It does not
appear, from all you have said, how any one perfection is required
toward the procurement of any one station among you; much less,
that men are ennobled on account of their virtue; that priests are
advanced for their piety or learning; soldiers, for their conduct
or valour; judges, for their integrity; senators, for the love of
their country; or counsellors for their wisdom. As for yourself,"
continued the king, "who have spent the greatest part of your life
in travelling, I am well disposed to hope you may hitherto have
escaped many vices of your country. But by what I have gathered
from your own relation, and the answers I have with much pains
wrung and extorted from you, I cannot but conclude the bulk of your
natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that
nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth."


[The author's love of his country. He makes a proposal of much
advantage to the king, which is rejected. The king's great
ignorance in politics. The learning of that country very imperfect
and confined. The laws, and military affairs, and parties in the

Nothing but an extreme love of truth could have hindered me from
concealing this part of my story. It was in vain to discover my
resentments, which were always turned into ridicule; and I was
forced to rest with patience, while my noble and beloved country
was so injuriously treated. I am as heartily sorry as any of my
readers can possibly be, that such an occasion was given: but this
prince happened to be so curious and inquisitive upon every
particular, that it could not consist either with gratitude or good
manners, to refuse giving him what satisfaction I was able. Yet
thus much I may be allowed to say in my own vindication, that I
artfully eluded many of his questions, and gave to every point a
more favourable turn, by many degrees, than the strictness of truth
would allow. For I have always borne that laudable partiality to
my own country, which Dionysius Halicarnassensis, with so much
justice, recommends to an historian: I would hide the frailties
and deformities of my political mother, and place her virtues and
beauties in the most advantageous light. This was my sincere
endeavour in those many discourses I had with that monarch,
although it unfortunately failed of success.

But great allowances should be given to a king, who lives wholly
secluded from the rest of the world, and must therefore be
altogether unacquainted with the manners and customs that most
prevail in other nations: the want of which knowledge will ever
produce many prejudices, and a certain narrowness of thinking, from
which we, and the politer countries of Europe, are wholly exempted.
And it would be hard indeed, if so remote a prince's notions of
virtue and vice were to be offered as a standard for all mankind.

To confirm what I have now said, and further to show the miserable
effects of a confined education, I shall here insert a passage,
which will hardly obtain belief. In hopes to ingratiate myself
further into his majesty's favour, I told him of "an invention,
discovered between three and four hundred years ago, to make a
certain powder, into a heap of which, the smallest spark of fire
falling, would kindle the whole in a moment, although it were as
big as a mountain, and make it all fly up in the air together, with
a noise and agitation greater than thunder. That a proper quantity
of this powder rammed into a hollow tube of brass or iron,
according to its bigness, would drive a ball of iron or lead, with
such violence and speed, as nothing was able to sustain its force.
That the largest balls thus discharged, would not only destroy
whole ranks of an army at once, but batter the strongest walls to
the ground, sink down ships, with a thousand men in each, to the
bottom of the sea, and when linked together by a chain, would cut
through masts and rigging, divide hundreds of bodies in the middle,
and lay all waste before them. That we often put this powder into
large hollow balls of iron, and discharged them by an engine into
some city we were besieging, which would rip up the pavements, tear
the houses to pieces, burst and throw splinters on every side,
dashing out the brains of all who came near. That I knew the
ingredients very well, which were cheap and common; I understood
the manner of compounding them, and could direct his workmen how to
make those tubes, of a size proportionable to all other things in
his majesty's kingdom, and the largest need not be above a hundred
feet long; twenty or thirty of which tubes, charged with the proper
quantity of powder and balls, would batter down the walls of the
strongest town in his dominions in a few hours, or destroy the
whole metropolis, if ever it should pretend to dispute his absolute
commands." This I humbly offered to his majesty, as a small
tribute of acknowledgment, in turn for so many marks that I had
received, of his royal favour and protection.

The king was struck with horror at the description I had given of
those terrible engines, and the proposal I had made. "He was
amazed, how so impotent and grovelling an insect as I" (these were
his expressions) "could entertain such inhuman ideas, and in so
familiar a manner, as to appear wholly unmoved at all the scenes of
blood and desolation which I had painted as the common effects of
those destructive machines; whereof," he said, "some evil genius,
enemy to mankind, must have been the first contriver. As for
himself, he protested, that although few things delighted him so
much as new discoveries in art or in nature, yet he would rather
lose half his kingdom, than be privy to such a secret; which he
commanded me, as I valued any life, never to mention any more."

A strange effect of narrow principles and views! that a prince
possessed of every quality which procures veneration, love, and
esteem; of strong parts, great wisdom, and profound learning,
endowed with admirable talents, and almost adored by his subjects,
should, from a nice, unnecessary scruple, whereof in Europe we can
have no conception, let slip an opportunity put into his hands that
would have made him absolute master of the lives, the liberties,
and the fortunes of his people! Neither do I say this, with the
least intention to detract from the many virtues of that excellent
king, whose character, I am sensible, will, on this account, be
very much lessened in the opinion of an English reader: but I take
this defect among them to have risen from their ignorance, by not
having hitherto reduced politics into a science, as the more acute
wits of Europe have done. For, I remember very well, in a
discourse one day with the king, when I happened to say, "there
were several thousand books among us written upon the art of
government," it gave him (directly contrary to my intention) a very
mean opinion of our understandings. He professed both to abominate
and despise all mystery, refinement, and intrigue, either in a
prince or a minister. He could not tell what I meant by secrets of
state, where an enemy, or some rival nation, were not in the case.
He confined the knowledge of governing within very narrow bounds,
to common sense and reason, to justice and lenity, to the speedy
determination of civil and criminal causes; with some other obvious
topics, which are not worth considering. And he gave it for his
opinion, "that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades
of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before,
would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to
his country, than the whole race of politicians put together."

The learning of this people is very defective, consisting only in
morality, history, poetry, and mathematics, wherein they must be
allowed to excel. But the last of these is wholly applied to what
may be useful in life, to the improvement of agriculture, and all
mechanical arts; so that among us, it would be little esteemed.
And as to ideas, entities, abstractions, and transcendentals, I
could never drive the least conception into their heads.

No law in that country must exceed in words the number of letters
in their alphabet, which consists only of two and twenty. But
indeed few of them extend even to that length. They are expressed
in the most plain and simple terms, wherein those people are not
mercurial enough to discover above one interpretation: and to
write a comment upon any law, is a capital crime. As to the
decision of civil causes, or proceedings against criminals, their
precedents are so few, that they have little reason to boast of any
extraordinary skill in either.

They have had the art of printing, as well as the Chinese, time out
of mind: but their libraries are not very large; for that of the
king, which is reckoned the largest, does not amount to above a
thousand volumes, placed in a gallery of twelve hundred feet long,
whence I had liberty to borrow what books I pleased. The queen's
joiner had contrived in one of Glumdalclitch's rooms, a kind of
wooden machine five-and-twenty feet high, formed like a standing
ladder; the steps were each fifty feet long. It was indeed a
moveable pair of stairs, the lowest end placed at ten feet distance
from the wall of the chamber. The book I had a mind to read, was
put up leaning against the wall: I first mounted to the upper step
of the ladder, and turning my face towards the book, began at the
top of the page, and so walking to the right and left about eight
or ten paces, according to the length of the lines, till I had
gotten a little below the level of mine eyes, and then descending
gradually till I came to the bottom: after which I mounted again,
and began the other page in the same manner, and so turned over the
leaf, which I could easily do with both my hands, for it was as
thick and stiff as a pasteboard, and in the largest folios not
above eighteen or twenty feet long.

Their style is clear, masculine, and smooth, but not florid; for
they avoid nothing more than multiplying unnecessary words, or
using various expressions. I have perused many of their books,
especially those in history and morality. Among the rest, I was
much diverted with a little old treatise, which always lay in
Glumdalclitch's bed chamber, and belonged to her governess, a grave
elderly gentlewoman, who dealt in writings of morality and
devotion. The book treats of the weakness of human kind, and is in
little esteem, except among the women and the vulgar. However, I
was curious to see what an author of that country could say upon
such a subject. This writer went through all the usual topics of
European moralists, showing "how diminutive, contemptible, and
helpless an animal was man in his own nature; how unable to defend
himself from inclemencies of the air, or the fury of wild beasts:
how much he was excelled by one creature in strength, by another in
speed, by a third in foresight, by a fourth in industry." He
added, "that nature was degenerated in these latter declining ages
of the world, and could now produce only small abortive births, in
comparison of those in ancient times." He said "it was very
reasonable to think, not only that the species of men were
originally much larger, but also that there must have been giants
in former ages; which, as it is asserted by history and tradition,
so it has been confirmed by huge bones and skulls, casually dug up
in several parts of the kingdom, far exceeding the common dwindled
race of men in our days." He argued, "that the very laws of nature
absolutely required we should have been made, in the beginning of a
size more large and robust; not so liable to destruction from every
little accident, of a tile falling from a house, or a stone cast
from the hand of a boy, or being drowned in a little brook." From
this way of reasoning, the author drew several moral applications,
useful in the conduct of life, but needless here to repeat. For my
own part, I could not avoid reflecting how universally this talent
was spread, of drawing lectures in morality, or indeed rather
matter of discontent and repining, from the quarrels we raise with
nature. And I believe, upon a strict inquiry, those quarrels might
be shown as ill-grounded among us as they are among that people.

As to their military affairs, they boast that the king's army
consists of a hundred and seventy-six thousand foot, and thirty-two
thousand horse: if that may be called an army, which is made up of
tradesmen in the several cities, and farmers in the country, whose
commanders are only the nobility and gentry, without pay or reward.
They are indeed perfect enough in their exercises, and under very
good discipline, wherein I saw no great merit; for how should it be
otherwise, where every farmer is under the command of his own
landlord, and every citizen under that of the principal men in his
own city, chosen after the manner of Venice, by ballot?

I have often seen the militia of Lorbrulgrud drawn out to exercise,
in a great field near the city of twenty miles square. They were
in all not above twenty-five thousand foot, and six thousand horse;
but it was impossible for me to compute their number, considering
the space of ground they took up. A cavalier, mounted on a large
steed, might be about ninety feet high. I have seen this whole
body of horse, upon a word of command, draw their swords at once,
and brandish them in the air. Imagination can figure nothing so
grand, so surprising, and so astonishing! it looked as if ten
thousand flashes of lightning were darting at the same time from
every quarter of the sky.

I was curious to know how this prince, to whose dominions there is
no access from any other country, came to think of armies, or to
teach his people the practice of military discipline. But I was
soon informed, both by conversation and reading their histories;
for, in the course of many ages, they have been troubled with the
same disease to which the whole race of mankind is subject; the
nobility often contending for power, the people for liberty, and
the king for absolute dominion. All which, however happily
tempered by the laws of that kingdom, have been sometimes violated
by each of the three parties, and have more than once occasioned
civil wars; the last whereof was happily put an end to by this
prince's grand-father, in a general composition; and the militia,
then settled with common consent, has been ever since kept in the
strictest duty.


[The king and queen make a progress to the frontiers. The author
attends them. The manner in which he leaves the country very
particularly related. He returns to England.]

I had always a strong impulse that I should some time recover my
liberty, though it was impossible to conjecture by what means, or
to form any project with the least hope of succeeding. The ship in
which I sailed, was the first ever known to be driven within sight
of that coast, and the king had given strict orders, that if at any
time another appeared, it should be taken ashore, and with all its
crew and passengers brought in a tumbril to Lorbrulgrud. He was
strongly bent to get me a woman of my own size, by whom I might
propagate the breed: but I think I should rather have died than
undergone the disgrace of leaving a posterity to be kept in cages,
like tame canary-birds, and perhaps, in time, sold about the
kingdom, to persons of quality, for curiosities. I was indeed
treated with much kindness: I was the favourite of a great king
and queen, and the delight of the whole court; but it was upon such
a foot as ill became the dignity of humankind. I could never
forget those domestic pledges I had left behind me. I wanted to be
among people, with whom I could converse upon even terms, and walk
about the streets and fields without being afraid of being trod to
death like a frog or a young puppy. But my deliverance came sooner
than I expected, and in a manner not very common; the whole story
and circumstances of which I shall faithfully relate.

I had now been two years in this country; and about the beginning
of the third, Glumdalclitch and I attended the king and queen, in a
progress to the south coast of the kingdom. I was carried, as
usual, in my travelling-box, which as I have already described, was
a very convenient closet, of twelve feet wide. And I had ordered a
hammock to be fixed, by silken ropes from the four corners at the
top, to break the jolts, when a servant carried me before him on
horseback, as I sometimes desired; and would often sleep in my
hammock, while we were upon the road. On the roof of my closet,
not directly over the middle of the hammock, I ordered the joiner
to cut out a hole of a foot square, to give me air in hot weather,
as I slept; which hole I shut at pleasure with a board that drew
backward and forward through a groove.

When we came to our journey's end, the king thought proper to pass
a few days at a palace he has near Flanflasnic, a city within
eighteen English miles of the seaside. Glumdalclitch and I were
much fatigued: I had gotten a small cold, but the poor girl was so
ill as to be confined to her chamber. I longed to see the ocean,
which must be the only scene of my escape, if ever it should
happen. I pretended to be worse than I really was, and desired
leave to take the fresh air of the sea, with a page, whom I was
very fond of, and who had sometimes been trusted with me. I shall
never forget with what unwillingness Glumdalclitch consented, nor
the strict charge she gave the page to be careful of me, bursting
at the same time into a flood of tears, as if she had some
forboding of what was to happen. The boy took me out in my box,
about half an hours walk from the palace, towards the rocks on the
sea-shore. I ordered him to set me down, and lifting up one of my
sashes, cast many a wistful melancholy look towards the sea. I
found myself not very well, and told the page that I had a mind to
take a nap in my hammock, which I hoped would do me good. I got
in, and the boy shut the window close down, to keep out the cold.
I soon fell asleep, and all I can conjecture is, while I slept, the
page, thinking no danger could happen, went among the rocks to look
for birds' eggs, having before observed him from my window
searching about, and picking up one or two in the clefts. Be that
as it will, I found myself suddenly awaked with a violent pull upon
the ring, which was fastened at the top of my box for the
conveniency of carriage. I felt my box raised very high in the
air, and then borne forward with prodigious speed. The first jolt
had like to have shaken me out of my hammock, but afterward the
motion was easy enough. I called out several times, as loud as I
could raise my voice, but all to no purpose. I looked towards my
windows, and could see nothing but the clouds and sky. I heard a
noise just over my head, like the clapping of wings, and then began
to perceive the woful condition I was in; that some eagle had got
the ring of my box in his beak, with an intent to let it fall on a
rock, like a tortoise in a shell, and then pick out my body, and
devour it: for the sagacity and smell of this bird enables him to
discover his quarry at a great distance, though better concealed
than I could be within a two-inch board.

In a little time, I observed the noise and flutter of wings to
increase very fast, and my box was tossed up and down, like a sign
in a windy day. I heard several bangs or buffets, as I thought
given to the eagle (for such I am certain it must have been that
held the ring of my box in his beak), and then, all on a sudden,
felt myself falling perpendicularly down, for above a minute, but
with such incredible swiftness, that I almost lost my breath. My
fall was stopped by a terrible squash, that sounded louder to my
ears than the cataract of Niagara; after which, I was quite in the
dark for another minute, and then my box began to rise so high,
that I could see light from the tops of the windows. I now
perceived I was fallen into the sea. My box, by the weight of my
body, the goods that were in, and the broad plates of iron fixed
for strength at the four corners of the top and bottom, floated
about five feet deep in water. I did then, and do now suppose,
that the eagle which flew away with my box was pursued by two or
three others, and forced to let me drop, while he defended himself
against the rest, who hoped to share in the prey. The plates of
iron fastened at the bottom of the box (for those were the
strongest) preserved the balance while it fell, and hindered it
from being broken on the surface of the water. Every joint of it
was well grooved; and the door did not move on hinges, but up and
down like a sash, which kept my closet so tight that very little
water came in. I got with much difficulty out of my hammock,
having first ventured to draw back the slip-board on the roof
already mentioned, contrived on purpose to let in air, for want of
which I found myself almost stifled.

How often did I then wish myself with my dear Glumdalclitch, from
whom one single hour had so far divided me! And I may say with
truth, that in the midst of my own misfortunes I could not forbear
lamenting my poor nurse, the grief she would suffer for my loss,
the displeasure of the queen, and the ruin of her fortune. Perhaps
many travellers have not been under greater difficulties and
distress than I was at this juncture, expecting every moment to see
my box dashed to pieces, or at least overset by the first violent
blast, or rising wave. A breach in one single pane of glass would
have been immediate death: nor could any thing have preserved the
windows, but the strong lattice wires placed on the outside,
against accidents in travelling. I saw the water ooze in at
several crannies, although the leaks were not considerable, and I
endeavoured to stop them as well as I could. I was not able to
lift up the roof of my closet, which otherwise I certainly should
have done, and sat on the top of it; where I might at least
preserve myself some hours longer, than by being shut up (as I may
call it) in the hold. Or if I escaped these dangers for a day or
two, what could I expect but a miserable death of cold and hunger?
I was four hours under these circumstances, expecting, and indeed
wishing, every moment to be my last.

I have already told the reader that there were two strong staples
fixed upon that side of my box which had no window, and into which
the servant, who used to carry me on horseback, would put a
leathern belt, and buckle it about his waist. Being in this
disconsolate state, I heard, or at least thought I heard, some kind
of grating noise on that side of my box where the staples were
fixed; and soon after I began to fancy that the box was pulled or
towed along the sea; for I now and then felt a sort of tugging,
which made the waves rise near the tops of my windows, leaving me
almost in the dark. This gave me some faint hopes of relief,
although I was not able to imagine how it could be brought about.
I ventured to unscrew one of my chairs, which were always fastened
to the floor; and having made a hard shift to screw it down again,
directly under the slipping-board that I had lately opened, I
mounted on the chair, and putting my mouth as near as I could to
the hole, I called for help in a loud voice, and in all the
languages I understood. I then fastened my handkerchief to a stick
I usually carried, and thrusting it up the hole, waved it several
times in the air, that if any boat or ship were near, the seamen
might conjecture some unhappy mortal to be shut up in the box.

I found no effect from all I could do, but plainly perceived my
closet to be moved along; and in the space of an hour, or better,
that side of the box where the staples were, and had no windows,
struck against something that was hard. I apprehended it to be a
rock, and found myself tossed more than ever. I plainly heard a
noise upon the cover of my closet, like that of a cable, and the
grating of it as it passed through the ring. I then found myself
hoisted up, by degrees, at least three feet higher than I was
before. Whereupon I again thrust up my stick and handkerchief,
calling for help till I was almost hoarse. In return to which, I
heard a great shout repeated three times, giving me such transports
of joy as are not to be conceived but by those who feel them. I
now heard a trampling over my head, and somebody calling through
the hole with a loud voice, in the English tongue, "If there be any
body below, let them speak." I answered, "I was an Englishman,
drawn by ill fortune into the greatest calamity that ever any
creature underwent, and begged, by all that was moving, to be
delivered out of the dungeon I was in." The voice replied, "I was
safe, for my box was fastened to their ship; and the carpenter
should immediately come and saw a hole in the cover, large enough
to pull me out." I answered, "that was needless, and would take up
too much time; for there was no more to be done, but let one of the
crew put his finger into the ring, and take the box out of the sea
into the ship, and so into the captain's cabin." Some of them,
upon hearing me talk so wildly, thought I was mad: others laughed;
for indeed it never came into my head, that I was now got among
people of my own stature and strength. The carpenter came, and in
a few minutes sawed a passage about four feet square, then let down
a small ladder, upon which I mounted, and thence was taken into the
ship in a very weak condition.

The sailors were all in amazement, and asked me a thousand
questions, which I had no inclination to answer. I was equally
confounded at the sight of so many pigmies, for such I took them to
be, after having so long accustomed mine eyes to the monstrous
objects I had left. But the captain, Mr. Thomas Wilcocks, an
honest worthy Shropshire man, observing I was ready to faint, took
me into his cabin, gave me a cordial to comfort me, and made me
turn in upon his own bed, advising me to take a little rest, of
which I had great need. Before I went to sleep, I gave him to
understand that I had some valuable furniture in my box, too good
to be lost: a fine hammock, a handsome field-bed, two chairs, a
table, and a cabinet; that my closet was hung on all sides, or
rather quilted, with silk and cotton; that if he would let one of
the crew bring my closet into his cabin, I would open it there
before him, and show him my goods. The captain, hearing me utter
these absurdities, concluded I was raving; however (I suppose to
pacify me) he promised to give order as I desired, and going upon
deck, sent some of his men down into my closet, whence (as I
afterwards found) they drew up all my goods, and stripped off the
quilting; but the chairs, cabinet, and bedstead, being screwed to
the floor, were much damaged by the ignorance of the seamen, who
tore them up by force. Then they knocked off some of the boards
for the use of the ship, and when they had got all they had a mind
for, let the hull drop into the sea, which by reason of many
breaches made in the bottom and sides, sunk to rights. And,
indeed, I was glad not to have been a spectator of the havoc they
made, because I am confident it would have sensibly touched me, by
bringing former passages into my mind, which I would rather have

I slept some hours, but perpetually disturbed with dreams of the
place I had left, and the dangers I had escaped. However, upon
waking, I found myself much recovered. It was now about eight
o'clock at night, and the captain ordered supper immediately,
thinking I had already fasted too long. He entertained me with
great kindness, observing me not to look wildly, or talk
inconsistently: and, when we were left alone, desired I would give
him a relation of my travels, and by what accident I came to be set
adrift, in that monstrous wooden chest. He said "that about twelve
o'clock at noon, as he was looking through his glass, he spied it
at a distance, and thought it was a sail, which he had a mind to
make, being not much out of his course, in hopes of buying some
biscuit, his own beginning to fall short. That upon coming nearer,
and finding his error, he sent out his long-boat to discover what
it was; that his men came back in a fright, swearing they had seen
a swimming house. That he laughed at their folly, and went himself
in the boat, ordering his men to take a strong cable along with
them. That the weather being calm, he rowed round me several
times, observed my windows and wire lattices that defended them.
That he discovered two staples upon one side, which was all of
boards, without any passage for light. He then commanded his men
to row up to that side, and fastening a cable to one of the
staples, ordered them to tow my chest, as they called it, toward
the ship. When it was there, he gave directions to fasten another
cable to the ring fixed in the cover, and to raise up my chest with
pulleys, which all the sailors were not able to do above two or
three feet." He said, "they saw my stick and handkerchief thrust
out of the hole, and concluded that some unhappy man must be shut
up in the cavity." I asked, "whether he or the crew had seen any
prodigious birds in the air, about the time he first discovered
me." To which he answered, that discoursing this matter with the
sailors while I was asleep, one of them said, he had observed three
eagles flying towards the north, but remarked nothing of their
being larger than the usual size:" which I suppose must be imputed
to the great height they were at; and he could not guess the reason
of my question. I then asked the captain, "how far he reckoned we
might be from land?" He said, "by the best computation he could
make, we were at least a hundred leagues." I assured him, "that he
must be mistaken by almost half, for I had not left the country
whence I came above two hours before I dropped into the sea."
Whereupon he began again to think that my brain was disturbed, of
which he gave me a hint, and advised me to go to bed in a cabin he
had provided. I assured him, "I was well refreshed with his good
entertainment and company, and as much in my senses as ever I was
in my life." He then grew serious, and desired to ask me freely,
"whether I were not troubled in my mind by the consciousness of
some enormous crime, for which I was punished, at the command of
some prince, by exposing me in that chest; as great criminals, in
other countries, have been forced to sea in a leaky vessel, without
provisions: for although he should be sorry to have taken so ill a
man into his ship, yet he would engage his word to set me safe
ashore, in the first port where we arrived." He added, "that his
suspicions were much increased by some very absurd speeches I had
delivered at first to his sailors, and afterwards to himself, in
relation to my closet or chest, as well as by my odd looks and
behaviour while I was at supper."

I begged his patience to hear me tell my story, which I faithfully
did, from the last time I left England, to the moment he first
discovered me. And, as truth always forces its way into rational
minds, so this honest worthy gentleman, who had some tincture of
learning, and very good sense, was immediately convinced of my
candour and veracity. But further to confirm all I had said, I
entreated him to give order that my cabinet should be brought, of
which I had the key in my pocket; for he had already informed me
how the seamen disposed of my closet. I opened it in his own
presence, and showed him the small collection of rarities I made in
the country from which I had been so strangely delivered. There
was the comb I had contrived out of the stumps of the king's beard,
and another of the same materials, but fixed into a paring of her
majesty's thumb-nail, which served for the back. There was a
collection of needles and pins, from a foot to half a yard long;
four wasp stings, like joiner's tacks; some combings of the queen's
hair; a gold ring, which one day she made me a present of, in a
most obliging manner, taking it from her little finger, and
throwing it over my head like a collar. I desired the captain
would please to accept this ring in return for his civilities;
which he absolutely refused. I showed him a corn that I had cut
off with my own hand, from a maid of honour's toe; it was about the
bigness of Kentish pippin, and grown so hard, that when I returned
England, I got it hollowed into a cup, and set in silver. Lastly,
I desired him to see the breeches I had then on, which were made of
a mouse's skin.

I could force nothing on him but a footman's tooth, which I
observed him to examine with great curiosity, and found he had a
fancy for it. He received it with abundance of thanks, more than
such a trifle could deserve. It was drawn by an unskilful surgeon,
in a mistake, from one of Glumdalclitch's men, who was afflicted
with the tooth-ache, but it was as sound as any in his head. I got
it cleaned, and put it into my cabinet. It was about a foot long,
and four inches in diameter.

The captain was very well satisfied with this plain relation I had
given him, and said, "he hoped, when we returned to England, I
would oblige the world by putting it on paper, and making it
public." My answer was, "that we were overstocked with books of
travels: that nothing could now pass which was not extraordinary;
wherein I doubted some authors less consulted truth, than their own
vanity, or interest, or the diversion of ignorant readers; that my
story could contain little beside common events, without those
ornamental descriptions of strange plants, trees, birds, and other
animals; or of the barbarous customs and idolatry of savage people,
with which most writers abound. However, I thanked him for his
good opinion, and promised to take the matter into my thoughts."

He said "he wondered at one thing very much, which was, to hear me
speak so loud;" asking me "whether the king or queen of that
country were thick of hearing?" I told him, "it was what I had
been used to for above two years past, and that I admired as much
at the voices of him and his men, who seemed to me only to whisper,
and yet I could hear them well enough. But, when I spoke in that
country, it was like a man talking in the streets, to another
looking out from the top of a steeple, unless when I was placed on
a table, or held in any person's hand." I told him, "I had
likewise observed another thing, that, when I first got into the
ship, and the sailors stood all about me, I thought they were the
most little contemptible creatures I had ever beheld." For indeed,
while I was in that prince's country, I could never endure to look
in a glass, after mine eyes had been accustomed to such prodigious
objects, because the comparison gave me so despicable a conceit of
myself. The captain said, "that while we were at supper, he
observed me to look at every thing with a sort of wonder, and that
I often seemed hardly able to contain my laughter, which he knew
not well how to take, but imputed it to some disorder in my brain."
I answered, "it was very true; and I wondered how I could forbear,
when I saw his dishes of the size of a silver three-pence, a leg of
pork hardly a mouthful, a cup not so big as a nut-shell;" and so I
went on, describing the rest of his household-stuff and provisions,
after the same manner. For, although he queen had ordered a little
equipage of all things necessary for me, while I was in her
service, yet my ideas were wholly taken up with what I saw on every
side of me, and I winked at my own littleness, as people do at
their own faults. The captain understood my raillery very well,
and merrily replied with the old English proverb, "that he doubted
mine eyes were bigger than my belly, for he did not observe my
stomach so good, although I had fasted all day;" and, continuing in
his mirth, protested "he would have gladly given a hundred pounds,
to have seen my closet in the eagle's bill, and afterwards in its
fall from so great a height into the sea; which would certainly
have been a most astonishing object, worthy to have the description
of it transmitted to future ages:" and the comparison of Phaeton
was so obvious, that he could not forbear applying it, although I
did not much admire the conceit.

The captain having been at Tonquin, was, in his return to England,
driven north-eastward to the latitude of 44 degrees, and longitude
of 143. But meeting a trade-wind two days after I came on board
him, we sailed southward a long time, and coasting New Holland,
kept our course west-south-west, and then south-south-west, till we
doubled the Cape of Good Hope. Our voyage was very prosperous, but
I shall not trouble the reader with a journal of it. The captain
called in at one or two ports, and sent in his long-boat for
provisions and fresh water; but I never went out of the ship till
we came into the Downs, which was on the third day of June, 1706,
about nine months after my escape. I offered to leave my goods in
security for payment of my freight: but the captain protested he
would not receive one farthing. We took a kind leave of each
other, and I made him promise he would come to see me at my house
in Redriff. I hired a horse and guide for five shillings, which I
borrowed of the captain.

As I was on the road, observing the littleness of the houses, the
trees, the cattle, and the people, I began to think myself in
Lilliput. I was afraid of trampling on every traveller I met, and
often called aloud to have them stand out of the way, so that I had
like to have gotten one or two broken heads for my impertinence.

When I came to my own house, for which I was forced to inquire, one
of the servants opening the door, I bent down to go in, (like a
goose under a gate,) for fear of striking my head. My wife run out
to embrace me, but I stooped lower than her knees, thinking she
could otherwise never be able to reach my mouth. My daughter
kneeled to ask my blessing, but I could not see her till she arose,
having been so long used to stand with my head and eyes erect to
above sixty feet; and then I went to take her up with one hand by
the waist. I looked down upon the servants, and one or two friends
who were in the house, as if they had been pigmies and I a giant.
I told my wife, "she had been too thrifty, for I found she had
starved herself and her daughter to nothing." In short, I behaved
myself so unaccountably, that they were all of the captain's
opinion when he first saw me, and concluded I had lost my wits.
This I mention as an instance of the great power of habit and

In a little time, I and my family and friends came to a right
understanding: but my wife protested "I should never go to sea any
more;" although my evil destiny so ordered, that she had not power
to hinder me, as the reader may know hereafter. In the mean time,
I here conclude the second part of my unfortunate voyages.



[The author sets out on his third voyage. Is taken by pirates.
The malice of a Dutchman. His arrival at an island. He is
received into Laputa.]

I had not been at home above ten days, when Captain William
Robinson, a Cornish man, commander of the Hopewell, a stout ship of
three hundred tons, came to my house. I had formerly been surgeon
of another ship where he was master, and a fourth part owner, in a
voyage to the Levant. He had always treated me more like a
brother, than an inferior officer; and, hearing of my arrival, made
me a visit, as I apprehended only out of friendship, for nothing
passed more than what is usual after long absences. But repeating
his visits often, expressing his joy to find I me in good health,
asking, "whether I were now settled for life?" adding, "that he
intended a voyage to the East Indies in two months," at last he
plainly invited me, though with some apologies, to be surgeon of
the ship; "that I should have another surgeon under me, beside our
two mates; that my salary should be double to the usual pay; and
that having experienced my knowledge in sea-affairs to be at least
equal to his, he would enter into any engagement to follow my
advice, as much as if I had shared in the command."

He said so many other obliging things, and I knew him to be so
honest a man, that I could not reject this proposal; the thirst I
had of seeing the world, notwithstanding my past misfortunes,
continuing as violent as ever. The only difficulty that remained,
was to persuade my wife, whose consent however I at last obtained,
by the prospect of advantage she proposed to her children.

We set out the 5th day of August, 1706, and arrived at Fort St.
George the 11th of April, 1707. We staid there three weeks to
refresh our crew, many of whom were sick. From thence we went to
Tonquin, where the captain resolved to continue some time, because
many of the goods he intended to buy were not ready, nor could he
expect to be dispatched in several months. Therefore, in hopes to
defray some of the charges he must be at, he bought a sloop, loaded
it with several sorts of goods, wherewith the Tonquinese usually
trade to the neighbouring islands, and putting fourteen men on
board, whereof three were of the country, he appointed me master of
the sloop, and gave me power to traffic, while he transacted his
affairs at Tonquin.

We had not sailed above three days, when a great storm arising, we
were driven five days to the north-north-east, and then to the
east: after which we had fair weather, but still with a pretty
strong gale from the west. Upon the tenth day we were chased by
two pirates, who soon overtook us; for my sloop was so deep laden,
that she sailed very slow, neither were we in a condition to defend

We were boarded about the same time by both the pirates, who
entered furiously at the head of their men; but finding us all
prostrate upon our faces (for so I gave order), they pinioned us
with strong ropes, and setting guard upon us, went to search the

I observed among them a Dutchman, who seemed to be of some
authority, though he was not commander of either ship. He knew us
by our countenances to be Englishmen, and jabbering to us in his
own language, swore we should be tied back to back and thrown into
the sea. I spoken Dutch tolerably well; I told him who we were,
and begged him, in consideration of our being Christians and
Protestants, of neighbouring countries in strict alliance, that he
would move the captains to take some pity on us. This inflamed his
rage; he repeated his threatenings, and turning to his companions,
spoke with great vehemence in the Japanese language, as I suppose,
often using the word Christianos.

The largest of the two pirate ships was commanded by a Japanese
captain, who spoke a little Dutch, but very imperfectly. He came
up to me, and after several questions, which I answered in great
humility, he said, "we should not die." I made the captain a very
low bow, and then, turning to the Dutchman, said, "I was sorry to
find more mercy in a heathen, than in a brother christian." But I
had soon reason to repent those foolish words: for that malicious
reprobate, having often endeavoured in vain to persuade both the
captains that I might be thrown into the sea (which they would not
yield to, after the promise made me that I should not die),
however, prevailed so far, as to have a punishment inflicted on me,
worse, in all human appearance, than death itself. My men were
sent by an equal division into both the pirate ships, and my sloop
new manned. As to myself, it was determined that I should be set
adrift in a small canoe, with paddles and a sail, and four days'
provisions; which last, the Japanese captain was so kind to double
out of his own stores, and would permit no man to search me. I got
down into the canoe, while the Dutchman, standing upon the deck,
loaded me with all the curses and injurious terms his language
could afford.

About an hour before we saw the pirates I had taken an observation,
and found we were in the latitude of 46 N. and longitude of 183.
When I was at some distance from the pirates, I discovered, by my
pocket-glass, several islands to the south-east. I set up my sail,
the wind being fair, with a design to reach the nearest of those
islands, which I made a shift to do, in about three hours. It was
all rocky: however I got many birds' eggs; and, striking fire, I
kindled some heath and dry sea-weed, by which I roasted my eggs. I
ate no other supper, being resolved to spare my provisions as much
as I could. I passed the night under the shelter of a rock,
strewing some heath under me, and slept pretty well.

The next day I sailed to another island, and thence to a third and
fourth, sometimes using my sail, and sometimes my paddles. But,
not to trouble the reader with a particular account of my
distresses, let it suffice, that on the fifth day I arrived at the
last island in my sight, which lay south-south-east to the former.

This island was at a greater distance than I expected, and I did
not reach it in less than five hours. I encompassed it almost
round, before I could find a convenient place to land in; which was
a small creek, about three times the wideness of my canoe. I found
the island to be all rocky, only a little intermingled with tufts
of grass, and sweet-smelling herbs. I took out my small provisions
and after having refreshed myself, I secured the remainder in a
cave, whereof there were great numbers; I gathered plenty of eggs
upon the rocks, and got a quantity of dry sea-weed, and parched
grass, which I designed to kindle the next day, and roast my eggs
as well as I could, for I had about me my flint, steel, match, and
burning-glass. I lay all night in the cave where I had lodged my
provisions. My bed was the same dry grass and sea-weed which I
intended for fuel. I slept very little, for the disquiets of my
mind prevailed over my weariness, and kept me awake. I considered
how impossible it was to preserve my life in so desolate a place,
and how miserable my end must be: yet found myself so listless and
desponding, that I had not the heart to rise; and before I could
get spirits enough to creep out of my cave, the day was far
advanced. I walked awhile among the rocks: the sky was perfectly
clear, and the sun so hot, that I was forced to turn my face from
it: when all on a sudden it became obscure, as I thought, in a
manner very different from what happens by the interposition of a
cloud. I turned back, and perceived a vast opaque body between me
and the sun moving forwards towards the island: it seemed to be
about two miles high, and hid the sun six or seven minutes; but I
did not observe the air to be much colder, or the sky more
darkened, than if I had stood under the shade of a mountain. As it
approached nearer over the place where I was, it appeared to be a
firm substance, the bottom flat, smooth, and shining very bright,
from the reflection of the sea below. I stood upon a height about
two hundred yards from the shore, and saw this vast body descending
almost to a parallel with me, at less than an English mile
distance. I took out my pocket perspective, and could plainly
discover numbers of people moving up and down the sides of it,
which appeared to be sloping; but what those people where doing I
was not able to distinguish.

The natural love of life gave me some inward motion of joy, and I
was ready to entertain a hope that this adventure might, some way
or other, help to deliver me from the desolate place and condition
I was in. But at the same time the reader can hardly conceive my
astonishment, to behold an island in the air, inhabited by men, who
were able (as it should seem) to raise or sink, or put it into
progressive motion, as they pleased. But not being at that time in
a disposition to philosophise upon this phenomenon, I rather chose
to observe what course the island would take, because it seemed for
awhile to stand still. Yet soon after, it advanced nearer, and I
could see the sides of it encompassed with several gradations of
galleries, and stairs, at certain intervals, to descend from one to
the other. In the lowest gallery, I beheld some people fishing
with long angling rods, and others looking on. I waved my cap (for
my hat was long since worn out) and my handkerchief toward the
island; and upon its nearer approach, I called and shouted with the
utmost strength of my voice; and then looking circumspectly, I
beheld a crowd gather to that side which was most in my view. I
found by their pointing towards me and to each other, that they
plainly discovered me, although they made no return to my shouting.
But I could see four or five men running in great haste, up the
stairs, to the top of the island, who then disappeared. I happened
rightly to conjecture, that these were sent for orders to some
person in authority upon this occasion.

The number of people increased, and, in less than half all hour,
the island was moved and raised in such a manner, that the lowest
gallery appeared in a parallel of less then a hundred yards
distance from the height where I stood. I then put myself in the
most supplicating posture, and spoke in the humblest accent, but
received no answer. Those who stood nearest over against me,
seemed to be persons of distinction, as I supposed by their habit.
They conferred earnestly with each other, looking often upon me.
At length one of them called out in a clear, polite, smooth
dialect, not unlike in sound to the Italian: and therefore I
returned an answer in that language, hoping at least that the
cadence might be more agreeable to his ears. Although neither of
us understood the other, yet my meaning was easily known, for the
people saw the distress I was in.

They made signs for me to come down from the rock, and go towards
the shore, which I accordingly did; and the flying island being
raised to a convenient height, the verge directly over me, a chain
was let down from the lowest gallery, with a seat fastened to the
bottom, to which I fixed myself, and was drawn up by pulleys.


[The humours and dispositions of the Laputians described. An
account of their learning. Of the king and his court. The
author's reception there. The inhabitants subject to fear and
disquietudes. An account of the women.]

At my alighting, I was surrounded with a crowd of people, but those
who stood nearest seemed to be of better quality. They beheld me
with all the marks and circumstances of wonder; neither indeed was
I much in their debt, having never till then seen a race of mortals
so singular in their shapes, habits, and countenances. Their heads
were all reclined, either to the right, or the left; one of their
eyes turned inward, and the other directly up to the zenith. Their
outward garments were adorned with the figures of suns, moons, and
stars; interwoven with those of fiddles, flutes, harps, trumpets,
guitars, harpsichords, and many other instruments of music, unknown
to us in Europe. I observed, here and there, many in the habit of
servants, with a blown bladder, fastened like a flail to the end of
a stick, which they carried in their hands. In each bladder was a
small quantity of dried peas, or little pebbles, as I was
afterwards informed. With these bladders, they now and then
flapped the mouths and ears of those who stood near them, of which
practice I could not then conceive the meaning. It seems the minds
of these people are so taken up with intense speculations, that
they neither can speak, nor attend to the discourses of others,
without being roused by some external taction upon the organs of
speech and hearing; for which reason, those persons who are able to
afford it always keep a flapper (the original is climenole) in
their family, as one of their domestics; nor ever walk abroad, or
make visits, without him. And the business of this officer is,
when two, three, or more persons are in company, gently to strike
with his bladder the mouth of him who is to speak, and the right
ear of him or them to whom the speaker addresses himself. This
flapper is likewise employed diligently to attend his master in his
walks, and upon occasion to give him a soft flap on his eyes;
because he is always so wrapped up in cogitation, that he is in
manifest danger of falling down every precipice, and bouncing his
head against every post; and in the streets, of justling others, or
being justled himself into the kennel.

It was necessary to give the reader this information, without which
he would be at the same loss with me to understand the proceedings
of these people, as they conducted me up the stairs to the top of
the island, and from thence to the royal palace. While we were
ascending, they forgot several times what they were about, and left
me to myself, till their memories were again roused by their
flappers; for they appeared altogether unmoved by the sight of my
foreign habit and countenance, and by the shouts of the vulgar,
whose thoughts and minds were more disengaged.

At last we entered the palace, and proceeded into the chamber of
presence, where I saw the king seated on his throne, attended on
each side by persons of prime quality. Before the throne, was a
large table filled with globes and spheres, and mathematical
instruments of all kinds. His majesty took not the least notice of
us, although our entrance was not without sufficient noise, by the
concourse of all persons belonging to the court. But he was then
deep in a problem; and we attended at least an hour, before he
could solve it. There stood by him, on each side, a young page
with flaps in their hands, and when they saw he was at leisure, one
of them gently struck his mouth, and the other his right ear; at
which he startled like one awaked on the sudden, and looking
towards me and the company I was in, recollected the occasion of
our coming, whereof he had been informed before. He spoke some
words, whereupon immediately a young man with a flap came up to my
side, and flapped me gently on the right ear; but I made signs, as
well as I could, that I had no occasion for such an instrument;
which, as I afterwards found, gave his majesty, and the whole
court, a very mean opinion of my understanding. The king, as far
as I could conjecture, asked me several questions, and I addressed
myself to him in all the languages I had. When it was found I
could neither understand nor be understood, I was conducted by his
order to an apartment in his palace (this prince being
distinguished above all his predecessors for his hospitality to
strangers), where two servants were appointed to attend me. My
dinner was brought, and four persons of quality, whom I remembered
to have seen very near the king's person, did me the honour to dine
with me. We had two courses, of three dishes each. In the first
course, there was a shoulder of mutton cut into an equilateral
triangle, a piece of beef into a rhomboides, and a pudding into a
cycloid. The second course was two ducks trussed up in the form of
fiddles; sausages and puddings resembling flutes and hautboys, and
a breast of veal in the shape of a harp. The servants cut our
bread into cones, cylinders, parallelograms, and several other
mathematical figures.

While we were at dinner, I made bold to ask the names of several
things in their language, and those noble persons, by the
assistance of their flappers, delighted to give me answers, hoping
to raise my admiration of their great abilities if I could be
brought to converse with them. I was soon able to call for bread
and drink, or whatever else I wanted.

After dinner my company withdrew, and a person was sent to me by
the king's order, attended by a flapper. He brought with him pen,
ink, and paper, and three or four books, giving me to understand by
signs, that he was sent to teach me the language. We sat together
four hours, in which time I wrote down a great number of words in
columns, with the translations over against them; I likewise made a
shift to learn several short sentences; for my tutor would order
one of my servants to fetch something, to turn about, to make a
bow, to sit, or to stand, or walk, and the like. Then I took down
the sentence in writing. He showed me also, in one of his books,
the figures of the sun, moon, and stars, the zodiac, the tropics,
and polar circles, together with the denominations of many plains
and solids. He gave me the names and descriptions of all the
musical instruments, and the general terms of art in playing on
each of them. After he had left me, I placed all my words, with
their interpretations, in alphabetical order. And thus, in a few
days, by the help of a very faithful memory, I got some insight
into their language. The word, which I interpret the flying or
floating island, is in the original Laputa, whereof I could never
learn the true etymology. Lap, in the old obsolete language,
signifies high; and untuh, a governor; from which they say, by
corruption, was derived Laputa, from Lapuntuh. But I do not
approve of this derivation, which seems to be a little strained. I
ventured to offer to the learned among them a conjecture of my own,
that Laputa was quasi lap outed; lap, signifying properly, the
dancing of the sunbeams in the sea, and outed, a wing; which,
however, I shall not obtrude, but submit to the judicious reader.

Those to whom the king had entrusted me, observing how ill I was
clad, ordered a tailor to come next morning, and take measure for a
suit of clothes. This operator did his office after a different
manner from those of his trade in Europe. He first took my
altitude by a quadrant, and then, with a rule and compasses,
described the dimensions and outlines of my whole body, all which
he entered upon paper; and in six days brought my clothes very ill
made, and quite out of shape, by happening to mistake a figure in
the calculation. But my comfort was, that I observed such
accidents very frequent, and little regarded.

During my confinement for want of clothes, and by an indisposition
that held me some days longer, I much enlarged my dictionary; and
when I went next to court, was able to understand many things the
king spoke, and to return him some kind of answers. His majesty
had given orders, that the island should move north-east and by
east, to the vertical point over Lagado, the metropolis of the
whole kingdom below, upon the firm earth. It was about ninety
leagues distant, and our voyage lasted four days and a half. I was
not in the least sensible of the progressive motion made in the air
by the island. On the second morning, about eleven o'clock, the
king himself in person, attended by his nobility, courtiers, and
officers, having prepared all their musical instruments, played on
them for three hours without intermission, so that I was quite
stunned with the noise; neither could I possibly guess the meaning,
till my tutor informed me. He said that, the people of their
island had their ears adapted to hear "the music of the spheres,
which always played at certain periods, and the court was now
prepared to bear their part, in whatever instrument they most

In our journey towards Lagado, the capital city, his majesty
ordered that the island should stop over certain towns and
villages, from whence he might receive the petitions of his
subjects. And to this purpose, several packthreads were let down,
with small weights at the bottom. On these packthreads the people
strung their petitions, which mounted up directly, like the scraps
of paper fastened by school boys at the end of the string that
holds their kite. Sometimes we received wine and victuals from
below, which were drawn up by pulleys.

The knowledge I had in mathematics, gave me great assistance in
acquiring their phraseology, which depended much upon that science,
and music; and in the latter I was not unskilled. Their ideas are
perpetually conversant in lines and figures. If they would, for
example, praise the beauty of a woman, or any other animal, they
describe it by rhombs, circles, parallelograms, ellipses, and other
geometrical terms, or by words of art drawn from music, needless
here to repeat. I observed in the king's kitchen all sorts of
mathematical and musical instruments, after the figures of which
they cut up the joints that were served to his majesty's table.

Their houses are very ill built, the walls bevil, without one right
angle in any apartment; and this defect arises from the contempt
they bear to practical geometry, which they despise as vulgar and
mechanic; those instructions they give being too refined for the
intellects of their workmen, which occasions perpetual mistakes.
And although they are dexterous enough upon a piece of paper, in
the management of the rule, the pencil, and the divider, yet in the
common actions and behaviour of life, I have not seen a more
clumsy, awkward, and unhandy people, nor so slow and perplexed in
their conceptions upon all other subjects, except those of
mathematics and music. They are very bad reasoners, and vehemently
given to opposition, unless when they happen to be of the right
opinion, which is seldom their case. Imagination, fancy, and
invention, they are wholly strangers to, nor have any words in
their language, by which those ideas can be expressed; the whole
compass of their thoughts and mind being shut up within the two
forementioned sciences.

Most of them, and especially those who deal in the astronomical
part, have great faith in judicial astrology, although they are
ashamed to own it publicly. But what I chiefly admired, and
thought altogether unaccountable, was the strong disposition I
observed in them towards news and politics, perpetually inquiring
into public affairs, giving their judgments in matters of state,
and passionately disputing every inch of a party opinion. I have
indeed observed the same disposition among most of the
mathematicians I have known in Europe, although I could never
discover the least analogy between the two sciences; unless those
people suppose, that because the smallest circle has as many
degrees as the largest, therefore the regulation and management of
the world require no more abilities than the handling and turning
of a globe; but I rather take this quality to spring from a very
common infirmity of human nature, inclining us to be most curious
and conceited in matters where we have least concern, and for which
we are least adapted by study or nature.

These people are under continual disquietudes, never enjoying a
minutes peace of mind; and their disturbances proceed from causes
which very little affect the rest of mortals. Their apprehensions
arise from several changes they dread in the celestial bodies: for
instance, that the earth, by the continual approaches of the sun
towards it, must, in course of time, be absorbed, or swallowed up;
that the face of the sun, will, by degrees, be encrusted with its
own effluvia, and give no more light to the world; that the earth
very narrowly escaped a brush from the tail of the last comet,
which would have infallibly reduced it to ashes; and that the next,
which they have calculated for one-and-thirty years hence, will
probably destroy us. For if, in its perihelion, it should approach
within a certain degree of the sun (as by their calculations they
have reason to dread) it will receive a degree of heat ten thousand
times more intense than that of red hot glowing iron, and in its
absence from the sun, carry a blazing tail ten hundred thousand and
fourteen miles long, through which, if the earth should pass at the
distance of one hundred thousand miles from the nucleus, or main
body of the comet, it must in its passage be set on fire, and
reduced to ashes: that the sun, daily spending its rays without
any nutriment to supply them, will at last be wholly consumed and
annihilated; which must be attended with the destruction of this
earth, and of all the planets that receive their light from it.

They are so perpetually alarmed with the apprehensions of these,
and the like impending dangers, that they can neither sleep quietly
in their beds, nor have any relish for the common pleasures and
amusements of life. When they meet an acquaintance in the morning,
the first question is about the sun's health, how he looked at his
setting and rising, and what hopes they have to avoid the stroke of
the approaching comet. This conversation they are apt to run into
with the same temper that boys discover in delighting to hear
terrible stories of spirits and hobgoblins, which they greedily
listen to, and dare not go to bed for fear.

The women of the island have abundance of vivacity: they, contemn
their husbands, and are exceedingly fond of strangers, whereof
there is always a considerable number from the continent below,
attending at court, either upon affairs of the several towns and
corporations, or their own particular occasions, but are much
despised, because they want the same endowments. Among these the
ladies choose their gallants: but the vexation is, that they act
with too much ease and security; for the husband is always so rapt
in speculation, that the mistress and lover may proceed to the
greatest familiarities before his face, if he be but provided with
paper and implements, and without his flapper at his side.

The wives and daughters lament their confinement to the island,
although I think it the most delicious spot of ground in the world;
and although they live here in the greatest plenty and
magnificence, and are allowed to do whatever they please, they long
to see the world, and take the diversions of the metropolis, which
they are not allowed to do without a particular license from the
king; and this is not easy to be obtained, because the people of
quality have found, by frequent experience, how hard it is to
persuade their women to return from below. I was told that a great
court lady, who had several children,--is married to the prime
minister, the richest subject in the kingdom, a very graceful
person, extremely fond of her, and lives in the finest palace of
the island,--went down to Lagado on the pretence of health, there
hid herself for several months, till the king sent a warrant to
search for her; and she was found in an obscure eating-house all in
rags, having pawned her clothes to maintain an old deformed
footman, who beat her every day, and in whose company she was
taken, much against her will. And although her husband received
her with all possible kindness, and without the least reproach, she
soon after contrived to steal down again, with all her jewels, to
the same gallant, and has not been heard of since.

This may perhaps pass with the reader rather for an European or
English story, than for one of a country so remote. But he may
please to consider, that the caprices of womankind are not limited
by any climate or nation, and that they are much more uniform, than
can be easily imagined.

In about a month's time, I had made a tolerable proficiency in
their language, and was able to answer most of the king's
questions, when I had the honour to attend him. His majesty
discovered not the least curiosity to inquire into the laws,
government, history, religion, or manners of the countries where I
had been; but confined his questions to the state of mathematics,
and received the account I gave him with great contempt and
indifference, though often roused by his flapper on each side.


[A phenomenon solved by modern philosophy and astronomy. The
Laputians' great improvements in the latter. The king's method of
suppressing insurrections.]

I desired leave of this prince to see the curiosities of the
island, which he was graciously pleased to grant, and ordered my
tutor to attend me. I chiefly wanted to know, to what cause, in
art or in nature, it owed its several motions, whereof I will now
give a philosophical account to the reader.

The flying or floating island is exactly circular, its diameter
7837 yards, or about four miles and a half, and consequently
contains ten thousand acres. It is three hundred yards thick. The
bottom, or under surface, which appears to those who view it below,
is one even regular plate of adamant, shooting up to the height of
about two hundred yards. Above it lie the several minerals in
their usual order, and over all is a coat of rich mould, ten or
twelve feet deep. The declivity of the upper surface, from the
circumference to the centre, is the natural cause why all the dews
and rains, which fall upon the island, are conveyed in small
rivulets toward the middle, where they are emptied into four large
basins, each of about half a mile in circuit, and two hundred yards
distant from the centre. From these basins the water is
continually exhaled by the sun in the daytime, which effectually
prevents their overflowing. Besides, as it is in the power of the
monarch to raise the island above the region of clouds and vapours,
he can prevent the falling of dews and rain whenever he pleases.
For the highest clouds cannot rise above two miles, as naturalists
agree, at least they were never known to do so in that country.

At the centre of the island there is a chasm about fifty yards in
diameter, whence the astronomers descend into a large dome, which
is therefore called flandona gagnole, or the astronomer's cave,
situated at the depth of a hundred yards beneath the upper surface
of the adamant. In this cave are twenty lamps continually burning,
which, from the reflection of the adamant, cast a strong light into
every part. The place is stored with great variety of sextants,
quadrants, telescopes, astrolabes, and other astronomical
instruments. But the greatest curiosity, upon which the fate of
the island depends, is a loadstone of a prodigious size, in shape
resembling a weaver's shuttle. It is in length six yards, and in
the thickest part at least three yards over. This magnet is
sustained by a very strong axle of adamant passing through its
middle, upon which it plays, and is poised so exactly that the
weakest hand can turn it. It is hooped round with a hollow
cylinder of adamant, four feet yards in diameter, placed
horizontally, and supported by eight adamantine feet, each six
yards high. In the middle of the concave side, there is a groove
twelve inches deep, in which the extremities of the axle are
lodged, and turned round as there is occasion.

The stone cannot be removed from its place by any force, because
the hoop and its feet are one continued piece with that body of
adamant which constitutes the bottom of the island.

By means of this loadstone, the island is made to rise and fall,
and move from one place to another. For, with respect to that part
of the earth over which the monarch presides, the stone is endued
at one of its sides with an attractive power, and at the other with
a repulsive. Upon placing the magnet erect, with its attracting
end towards the earth, the island descends; but when the repelling
extremity points downwards, the island mounts directly upwards.
When the position of the stone is oblique, the motion of the island
is so too: for in this magnet, the forces always act in lines
parallel to its direction.

By this oblique motion, the island is conveyed to different parts
of the monarch's dominions. To explain the manner of its progress,
let A B represent a line drawn across the dominions of Balnibarbi,
let the line c d represent the loadstone, of which let d be the
repelling end, and c the attracting end, the island being over C:
let the stone be placed in position c d, with its repelling end
downwards; then the island will be driven upwards obliquely towards
D. When it is arrived at D, let the stone be turned upon its axle,
till its attracting end points towards E, and then the island will
be carried obliquely towards E; where, if the stone be again turned
upon its axle till it stands in the position E F, with its
repelling point downwards, the island will rise obliquely towards
F, where, by directing the attracting end towards G, the island may
be carried to G, and from G to H, by turning the stone, so as to
make its repelling extremity to point directly downward. And thus,
by changing the situation of the stone, as often as there is
occasion, the island is made to rise and fall by turns in an
oblique direction, and by those alternate risings and fallings (the
obliquity being not considerable) is conveyed from one part of the
dominions to the other.

But it must be observed, that this island cannot move beyond the
extent of the dominions below, nor can it rise above the height of
four miles. For which the astronomers (who have written large
systems concerning the stone) assign the following reason: that
the magnetic virtue does not extend beyond the distance of four
miles, and that the mineral, which acts upon the stone in the
bowels of the earth, and in the sea about six leagues distant from
the shore, is not diffused through the whole globe, but terminated
with the limits of the king's dominions; and it was easy, from the
great advantage of such a superior situation, for a prince to bring
under his obedience whatever country lay within the attraction of
that magnet.

When the stone is put parallel to the plane of the horizon, the
island stands still; for in that case the extremities of it, being
at equal distance from the earth, act with equal force, the one in
drawing downwards, the other in pushing upwards, and consequently
no motion can ensue.

This loadstone is under the care of certain astronomers, who, from
time to time, give it such positions as the monarch directs. They
spend the greatest part of their lives in observing the celestial
bodies, which they do by the assistance of glasses, far excelling
ours in goodness. For, although their largest telescopes do not
exceed three feet, they magnify much more than those of a hundred
with us, and show the stars with greater clearness. This advantage
has enabled them to extend their discoveries much further than our
astronomers in Europe; for they have made a catalogue of ten
thousand fixed stars, whereas the largest of ours do not contain
above one third part of that number. They have likewise discovered
two lesser stars, or satellites, which revolve about Mars; whereof
the innermost is distant from the centre of the primary planet
exactly three of his diameters, and the outermost, five; the former
revolves in the space of ten hours, and the latter in twenty-one
and a half; so that the squares of their periodical times are very
near in the same proportion with the cubes of their distance from
the centre of Mars; which evidently shows them to be governed by
the same law of gravitation that influences the other heavenly

They have observed ninety-three different comets, and settled their
periods with great exactness. If this be true (and they affirm it
with great confidence) it is much to be wished, that their
observations were made public, whereby the theory of comets, which
at present is very lame and defective, might be brought to the same
perfection with other arts of astronomy.

The king would be the most absolute prince in the universe, if he
could but prevail on a ministry to join with him; but these having
their estates below on the continent, and considering that the
office of a favourite has a very uncertain tenure, would never
consent to the enslaving of their country.

If any town should engage in rebellion or mutiny, fall into violent
factions, or refuse to pay the usual tribute, the king has two
methods of reducing them to obedience. The first and the mildest
course is, by keeping the island hovering over such a town, and the
lands about it, whereby he can deprive them of the benefit of the
sun and the rain, and consequently afflict the inhabitants with
dearth and diseases: and if the crime deserve it, they are at the
same time pelted from above with great stones, against which they
have no defence but by creeping into cellars or caves, while the
roofs of their houses are beaten to pieces. But if they still
continue obstinate, or offer to raise insurrections, he proceeds to
the last remedy, by letting the island drop directly upon their
heads, which makes a universal destruction both of houses and men.
However, this is an extremity to which the prince is seldom driven,
neither indeed is he willing to put it in execution; nor dare his
ministers advise him to an action, which, as it would render them
odious to the people, so it would be a great damage to their own
estates, which all lie below; for the island is the king's demesne.

But there is still indeed a more weighty reason, why the kings of
this country have been always averse from executing so terrible an
action, unless upon the utmost necessity. For, if the town
intended to be destroyed should have in it any tall rocks, as it
generally falls out in the larger cities, a situation probably
chosen at first with a view to prevent such a catastrophe; or if it
abound in high spires, or pillars of stone, a sudden fall might
endanger the bottom or under surface of the island, which, although
it consist, as I have said, of one entire adamant, two hundred
yards thick, might happen to crack by too great a shock, or burst
by approaching too near the fires from the houses below, as the
backs, both of iron and stone, will often do in our chimneys. Of
all this the people are well apprised, and understand how far to
carry their obstinacy, where their liberty or property is
concerned. And the king, when he is highest provoked, and most
determined to press a city to rubbish, orders the island to descend
with great gentleness, out of a pretence of tenderness to his
people, but, indeed, for fear of breaking the adamantine bottom; in
which case, it is the opinion of all their philosophers, that the
loadstone could no longer hold it up, and the whole mass would fall
to the ground.

By a fundamental law of this realm, neither the king, nor either of
his two eldest sons, are permitted to leave the island; nor the
queen, till she is past child-bearing.


[The author leaves Laputa; is conveyed to Balnibarbi; arrives at
the metropolis. A description of the metropolis, and the country
adjoining. The author hospitably received by a great lord. His
conversation with that lord.]

Although I cannot say that I was ill treated in this island, yet I
must confess I thought myself too much neglected, not without some
degree of contempt; for neither prince nor people appeared to be
curious in any part of knowledge, except mathematics and music,
wherein I was far their inferior, and upon that account very little

On the other side, after having seen all the curiosities of the
island, I was very desirous to leave it, being heartily weary of
those people. They were indeed excellent in two sciences for which
I have great esteem, and wherein I am not unversed; but, at the
same time, so abstracted and involved in speculation, that I never
met with such disagreeable companions. I conversed only with
women, tradesmen, flappers, and court-pages, during two months of
my abode there; by which, at last, I rendered myself extremely
contemptible; yet these were the only people from whom I could ever
receive a reasonable answer.

I had obtained, by hard study, a good degree of knowledge in their
language: I was weary of being confined to an island where I
received so little countenance, and resolved to leave it with the
first opportunity.

There was a great lord at court, nearly related to the king, and
for that reason alone used with respect. He was universally
reckoned the most ignorant and stupid person among them. He had
performed many eminent services for the crown, had great natural
and acquired parts, adorned with integrity and honour; but so ill
an ear for music, that his detractors reported, "he had been often
known to beat time in the wrong place;" neither could his tutors,
without extreme difficulty, teach him to demonstrate the most easy
proposition in the mathematics. He was pleased to show me many
marks of favour, often did me the honour of a visit, desired to be
informed in the affairs of Europe, the laws and customs, the
manners and learning of the several countries where I had
travelled. He listened to me with great attention, and made very
wise observations on all I spoke. He had two flappers attending
him for state, but never made use of them, except at court and in
visits of ceremony, and would always command them to withdraw, when
we were alone together.

I entreated this illustrious person, to intercede in my behalf with
his majesty, for leave to depart; which he accordingly did, as he
was pleased to tell me, with regret: for indeed he had made me
several offers very advantageous, which, however, I refused, with
expressions of the highest acknowledgment.

On the 16th of February I took leave of his majesty and the court.
The king made me a present to the value of about two hundred pounds
English, and my protector, his kinsman, as much more, together with
a letter of recommendation to a friend of his in Lagado, the
metropolis. The island being then hovering over a mountain about
two miles from it, I was let down from the lowest gallery, in the
same manner as I had been taken up.

The continent, as far as it is subject to the monarch of the flying
island, passes under the general name of Balnibarbi; and the
metropolis, as I said before, is called Lagado. I felt some little
satisfaction in finding myself on firm ground. I walked to the
city without any concern, being clad like one of the natives, and
sufficiently instructed to converse with them. I soon found out
the person's house to whom I was recommended, presented my letter
from his friend the grandee in the island, and was received with
much kindness. This great lord, whose name was Munodi, ordered me
an apartment in his own house, where I continued during my stay,
and was entertained in a most hospitable manner.

The next morning after my arrival, he took me in his chariot to see
the town, which is about half the bigness of London; but the houses
very strangely built, and most of them out of repair. The people
in the streets walked fast, looked wild, their eyes fixed, and were
generally in rags. We passed through one of the town gates, and
went about three miles into the country, where I saw many labourers
working with several sorts of tools in the ground, but was not able
to conjecture what they were about: neither did observe any
expectation either of corn or grass, although the soil appeared to
be excellent. I could not forbear admiring at these odd
appearances, both in town and country; and I made bold to desire my
conductor, that he would be pleased to explain to me, what could be
meant by so many busy heads, hands, and faces, both in the streets
and the fields, because I did not discover any good effects they
produced; but, on the contrary, I never knew a soil so unhappily
cultivated, houses so ill contrived and so ruinous, or a people
whose countenances and habit expressed so much misery and want.

This lord Munodi was a person of the first rank, and had been some
years governor of Lagado; but, by a cabal of ministers, was
discharged for insufficiency. However, the king treated him with
tenderness, as a well-meaning man, but of a low contemptible

When I gave that free censure of the country and its inhabitants,
he made no further answer than by telling me, "that I had not been
long enough among them to form a judgment; and that the different
nations of the world had different customs;" with other common
topics to the same purpose. But, when we returned to his palace,
he asked me "how I liked the building, what absurdities I observed,
and what quarrel I had with the dress or looks of his domestics?"
This he might safely do; because every thing about him was
magnificent, regular, and polite. I answered, "that his
excellency's prudence, quality, and fortune, had exempted him from
those defects, which folly and beggary had produced in others." He
said, "if I would go with him to his country-house, about twenty
miles distant, where his estate lay, there would be more leisure
for this kind of conversation." I told his excellency "that I was
entirely at his disposal;" and accordingly we set out next morning.

During our journey he made me observe the several methods used by
farmers in managing their lands, which to me were wholly
unaccountable; for, except in some very few places, I could not
discover one ear of corn or blade of grass. But, in three hours
travelling, the scene was wholly altered; we came into a most
beautiful country; farmers' houses, at small distances, neatly
built; the fields enclosed, containing vineyards, corn-grounds, and
meadows. Neither do I remember to have seen a more delightful
prospect. His excellency observed my countenance to clear up; he
told me, with a sigh, "that there his estate began, and would
continue the same, till we should come to his house: that his
countrymen ridiculed and despised him, for managing his affairs no
better, and for setting so ill an example to the kingdom; which,
however, was followed by very few, such as were old, and wilful,
and weak like himself."

We came at length to the house, which was indeed a noble structure,
built according to the best rules of ancient architecture. The
fountains, gardens, walks, avenues, and groves, were all disposed
with exact judgment and taste. I gave due praises to every thing I
saw, whereof his excellency took not the least notice till after
supper; when, there being no third companion, he told me with a
very melancholy air "that he doubted he must throw down his houses
in town and country, to rebuild them after the present mode;
destroy all his plantations, and cast others into such a form as
modern usage required, and give the same directions to all his
tenants, unless he would submit to incur the censure of pride,
singularity, affectation, ignorance, caprice, and perhaps increase
his majesty's displeasure; that the admiration I appeared to be
under would cease or diminish, when he had informed me of some
particulars which, probably, I never heard of at court, the people
there being too much taken up in their own speculations, to have
regard to what passed here below."

The sum of his discourse was to this effect: "That about forty
years ago, certain persons went up to Laputa, either upon business
or diversion, and, after five months continuance, came back with a
very little smattering in mathematics, but full of volatile spirits
acquired in that airy region: that these persons, upon their
return, began to dislike the management of every thing below, and
fell into schemes of putting all arts, sciences, languages, and
mechanics, upon a new foot. To this end, they procured a royal
patent for erecting an academy of projectors in Lagado; and the
humour prevailed so strongly among the people, that there is not a
town of any consequence in the kingdom without such an academy. In
these colleges the professors contrive new rules and methods of
agriculture and building, and new instruments, and tools for all
trades and manufactures; whereby, as they undertake, one man shall
do the work of ten; a palace may be built in a week, of materials
so durable as to last for ever without repairing. All the fruits
of the earth shall come to maturity at whatever season we think fit
to choose, and increase a hundred fold more than they do at
present; with innumerable other happy proposals. The only
inconvenience is, that none of these projects are yet brought to
perfection; and in the mean time, the whole country lies miserably
waste, the houses in ruins, and the people without food or clothes.
By all which, instead of being discouraged, they are fifty times
more violently bent upon prosecuting their schemes, driven equally
on by hope and despair: that as for himself, being not of an
enterprising spirit, he was content to go on in the old forms, to
live in the houses his ancestors had built, and act as they did, in
every part of life, without innovation: that some few other
persons of quality and gentry had done the same, but were looked on
with an eye of contempt and ill-will, as enemies to art, ignorant,
and ill common-wealth's men, preferring their own ease and sloth
before the general improvement of their country."

His lordship added, "That he would not, by any further particulars,
prevent the pleasure I should certainly take in viewing the grand
academy, whither he was resolved I should go." He only desired me
to observe a ruined building, upon the side of a mountain about
three miles distant, of which he gave me this account: "That he
had a very convenient mill within half a mile of his house, turned
by a current from a large river, and sufficient for his own family,
as well as a great number of his tenants; that about seven years
ago, a club of those projectors came to him with proposals to
destroy this mill, and build another on the side of that mountain,
on the long ridge whereof a long canal must be cut, for a
repository of water, to be conveyed up by pipes and engines to
supply the mill, because the wind and air upon a height agitated
the water, and thereby made it fitter for motion, and because the
water, descending down a declivity, would turn the mill with half
the current of a river whose course is more upon a level." He
said, "that being then not very well with the court, and pressed by
many of his friends, he complied with the proposal; and after
employing a hundred men for two years, the work miscarried, the
projectors went off, laying the blame entirely upon him, railing at
him ever since, and putting others upon the same experiment, with
equal assurance of success, as well as equal disappointment."

In a few days we came back to town; and his excellency, considering
the bad character he had in the academy, would not go with me
himself, but recommended me to a friend of his, to bear me company
thither. My lord was pleased to represent me as a great admirer of
projects, and a person of much curiosity and easy belief; which,
indeed, was not without truth; for I had myself been a sort of
projector in my younger days.


[The author permitted to see the grand academy of Lagado. The
academy largely described. The arts wherein the professors employ

This academy is not an entire single building, but a continuation
of several houses on both sides of a street, which growing waste,
was purchased and applied to that use.

I was received very kindly by the warden, and went for many days to
the academy. Every room has in it one or more projectors; and I
believe I could not be in fewer than five hundred rooms.

The first man I saw was of a meagre aspect, with sooty hands and
face, his hair and beard long, ragged, and singed in several
places. His clothes, shirt, and skin, were all of the same colour.
He has been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out
of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed,
and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers. He told me,
he did not doubt, that, in eight years more, he should be able to
supply the governor's gardens with sunshine, at a reasonable rate:
but he complained that his stock was low, and entreated me "to give
him something as an encouragement to ingenuity, especially since
this had been a very dear season for cucumbers." I made him a
small present, for my lord had furnished me with money on purpose,
because he knew their practice of begging from all who go to see

I went into another chamber, but was ready to hasten back, being
almost overcome with a horrible stink. My conductor pressed me
forward, conjuring me in a whisper "to give no offence, which would
be highly resented;" and therefore I durst not so much as stop my
nose. The projector of this cell was the most ancient student of
the academy; his face and beard were of a pale yellow; his hands
and clothes daubed over with filth. When I was presented to him,
he gave me a close embrace, a compliment I could well have excused.
His employment, from his first coming into the academy, was an
operation to reduce human excrement to its original food, by
separating the several parts, removing the tincture which it
receives from the gall, making the odour exhale, and scumming off
the saliva. He had a weekly allowance, from the society, of a
vessel filled with human ordure, about the bigness of a Bristol

I saw another at work to calcine ice into gunpowder; who likewise
showed me a treatise he had written concerning the malleability of
fire, which he intended to publish.

There was a most ingenious architect, who had contrived a new
method for building houses, by beginning at the roof, and working
downward to the foundation; which he justified to me, by the like
practice of those two prudent insects, the bee and the spider.

There was a man born blind, who had several apprentices in his own
condition: their employment was to mix colours for painters, which
their master taught them to distinguish by feeling and smelling.
It was indeed my misfortune to find them at that time not very
perfect in their lessons, and the professor himself happened to be
generally mistaken. This artist is much encouraged and esteemed by
the whole fraternity.

In another apartment I was highly pleased with a projector who had
found a device of ploughing the ground with hogs, to save the
charges of ploughs, cattle, and labour. The method is this: in an
acre of ground you bury, at six inches distance and eight deep, a
quantity of acorns, dates, chestnuts, and other mast or vegetables,
whereof these animals are fondest; then you drive six hundred or
more of them into the field, where, in a few days, they will root
up the whole ground in search of their food, and make it fit for
sowing, at the same time manuring it with their dung: it is true,
upon experiment, they found the charge and trouble very great, and
they had little or no crop. However it is not doubted, that this
invention may be capable of great improvement.

I went into another room, where the walls and ceiling were all hung
round with cobwebs, except a narrow passage for the artist to go in
and out. At my entrance, he called aloud to me, "not to disturb
his webs." He lamented "the fatal mistake the world had been so
long in, of using silkworms, while we had such plenty of domestic
insects who infinitely excelled the former, because they understood
how to weave, as well as spin." And he proposed further, "that by
employing spiders, the charge of dyeing silks should be wholly
saved;" whereof I was fully convinced, when he showed me a vast
number of flies most beautifully coloured, wherewith he fed his
spiders, assuring us "that the webs would take a tincture from
them; and as he had them of all hues, he hoped to fit everybody's
fancy, as soon as he could find proper food for the flies, of
certain gums, oils, and other glutinous matter, to give a strength
and consistence to the threads."

There was an astronomer, who had undertaken to place a sun-dial
upon the great weathercock on the town-house, by adjusting the
annual and diurnal motions of the earth and sun, so as to answer
and coincide with all accidental turnings of the wind.

I was complaining of a small fit of the colic, upon which my
conductor led me into a room where a great physician resided, who
was famous for curing that disease, by contrary operations from the
same instrument. He had a large pair of bellows, with a long
slender muzzle of ivory: this he conveyed eight inches up the
anus, and drawing in the wind, he affirmed he could make the guts
as lank as a dried bladder. But when the disease was more stubborn
and violent, he let in the muzzle while the bellows were full of
wind, which he discharged into the body of the patient; then
withdrew the instrument to replenish it, clapping his thumb
strongly against the orifice of then fundament; and this being
repeated three or four times, the adventitious wind would rush out,
bringing the noxious along with it, (like water put into a pump),
and the patient recovered. I saw him try both experiments upon a
dog, but could not discern any effect from the former. After the
latter the animal was ready to burst, and made so violent a
discharge as was very offensive to me and my companion. The dog
died on the spot, and we left the doctor endeavouring to recover
him, by the same operation.

I visited many other apartments, but shall not trouble my reader
with all the curiosities I observed, being studious of brevity.

I had hitherto seen only one side of the academy, the other being
appropriated to the advancers of speculative learning, of whom I
shall say something, when I have mentioned one illustrious person
more, who is called among them "the universal artist." He told us
"he had been thirty years employing his thoughts for the
improvement of human life." He had two large rooms full of
wonderful curiosities, and fifty men at work. Some were condensing
air into a dry tangible substance, by extracting the nitre, and
letting the aqueous or fluid particles percolate; others softening
marble, for pillows and pin-cushions; others petrifying the hoofs
of a living horse, to preserve them from foundering. The artist
himself was at that time busy upon two great designs; the first, to
sow land with chaff, wherein he affirmed the true seminal virtue to
be contained, as he demonstrated by several experiments, which I
was not skilful enough to comprehend. The other was, by a certain
composition of gums, minerals, and vegetables, outwardly applied,
to prevent the growth of wool upon two young lambs; and he hoped,
in a reasonable time to propagate the breed of naked sheep, all
over the kingdom.

We crossed a walk to the other part of the academy, where, as I
have already said, the projectors in speculative learning resided.

The first professor I saw, was in a very large room, with forty
pupils about him. After salutation, observing me to look earnestly

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