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Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Part 5 out of 6

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hinder them from propagating their kind, and to render them more
servile. He said, "if it were possible there could be any country
where Yahoos alone were endued with reason, they certainly must be
the governing animal; because reason in time will always prevail
against brutal strength. But, considering the frame of our bodies,
and especially of mine, he thought no creature of equal bulk was so
ill-contrived for employing that reason in the common offices of
life;" whereupon he desired to know whether those among whom I
lived resembled me, or the Yahoos of his country?" I assured him,
"that I was as well shaped as most of my age; but the younger, and
the females, were much more soft and tender, and the skins of the
latter generally as white as milk." He said, "I differed indeed
from other Yahoos, being much more cleanly, and not altogether so
deformed; but, in point of real advantage, he thought I differed
for the worse: that my nails were of no use either to my fore or
hinder feet; as to my fore feet, he could not properly call them by
that name, for he never observed me to walk upon them; that they
were too soft to bear the ground; that I generally went with them
uncovered; neither was the covering I sometimes wore on them of the
same shape, or so strong as that on my feet behind: that I could
not walk with any security, for if either of my hinder feet
slipped, I must inevitably fail." He then began to find fault with
other parts of my body: "the flatness of my face, the prominence
of my nose, mine eyes placed directly in front, so that I could not
look on either side without turning my head: that I was not able
to feed myself, without lifting one of my fore-feet to my mouth:
and therefore nature had placed those joints to answer that
necessity. He knew not what could be the use of those several
clefts and divisions in my feet behind; that these were too soft to
bear the hardness and sharpness of stones, without a covering made
from the skin of some other brute; that my whole body wanted a
fence against heat and cold, which I was forced to put on and off
every day, with tediousness and trouble: and lastly, that he
observed every animal in this country naturally to abhor the
Yahoos, whom the weaker avoided, and the stronger drove from them.
So that, supposing us to have the gift of reason, he could not see
how it were possible to cure that natural antipathy, which every
creature discovered against us; nor consequently how we could tame
and render them serviceable. However, he would," as he said,
"debate the matter no farther, because he was more desirous to know
my own story, the country where I was born, and the several actions
and events of my life, before I came hither."

I assured him, "how extremely desirous I was that he should be
satisfied on every point; but I doubted much, whether it would be
possible for me to explain myself on several subjects, whereof his
honour could have no conception; because I saw nothing in his
country to which I could resemble them; that, however, I would do
my best, and strive to express myself by similitudes, humbly
desiring his assistance when I wanted proper words;" which he was
pleased to promise me.

I said, "my birth was of honest parents, in an island called
England; which was remote from his country, as many days' journey
as the strongest of his honour's servants could travel in the
annual course of the sun; that I was bred a surgeon, whose trade it
is to cure wounds and hurts in the body, gotten by accident or
violence; that my country was governed by a female man, whom we
called queen; that I left it to get riches, whereby I might
maintain myself and family, when I should return; that, in my last
voyage, I was commander of the ship, and had about fifty Yahoos
under me, many of which died at sea, and I was forced to supply
them by others picked out from several nations; that our ship was
twice in danger of being sunk, the first time by a great storm, and
the second by striking against a rock." Here my master interposed,
by asking me, "how I could persuade strangers, out of different
countries, to venture with me, after the losses I had sustained,
and the hazards I had run?" I said, "they were fellows of
desperate fortunes, forced to fly from the places of their birth on
account of their poverty or their crimes. Some were undone by
lawsuits; others spent all they had in drinking, whoring, and
gaming; others fled for treason; many for murder, theft, poisoning,
robbery, perjury, forgery, coining false money, for committing
rapes, or sodomy; for flying from their colours, or deserting to
the enemy; and most of them had broken prison; none of these durst
return to their native countries, for fear of being hanged, or of
starving in a jail; and therefore they were under the necessity of
seeking a livelihood in other places."

During this discourse, my master was pleased to interrupt me
several times. I had made use of many circumlocutions in
describing to him the nature of the several crimes for which most
of our crew had been forced to fly their country. This labour took
up several days' conversation, before he was able to comprehend me.
He was wholly at a loss to know what could be the use or necessity
of practising those vices. To clear up which, I endeavoured to
give some ideas of the desire of power and riches; of the terrible
effects of lust, intemperance, malice, and envy. All this I was
forced to define and describe by putting cases and making
suppositions. After which, like one whose imagination was struck
with something never seen or heard of before, he would lift up his
eyes with amazement and indignation. Power, government, war, law,
punishment, and a thousand other things, had no terms wherein that
language could express them, which made the difficulty almost
insuperable, to give my master any conception of what I meant. But
being of an excellent understanding, much improved by contemplation
and converse, he at last arrived at a competent knowledge of what
human nature, in our parts of the world, is capable to perform, and
desired I would give him some particular account of that land which
we call Europe, but especially of my own country.


[The author at his master's command, informs him of the state of
England. The causes of war among the princes of Europe. The author
begins to explain the English constitution.]

The reader may please to observe, that the following extract of
many conversations I had with my master, contains a summary of the
most material points which were discoursed at several times for
above two years; his honour often desiring fuller satisfaction, as
I farther improved in the Houyhnhnm tongue. I laid before him, as
well as I could, the whole state of Europe; I discoursed of trade
and manufactures, of arts and sciences; and the answers I gave to
all the questions he made, as they arose upon several subjects,
were a fund of conversation not to be exhausted. But I shall here
only set down the substance of what passed between us concerning my
own country, reducing it in order as well as I can, without any
regard to time or other circumstances, while I strictly adhere to
truth. My only concern is, that I shall hardly be able to do
justice to my master's arguments and expressions, which must needs
suffer by my want of capacity, as well as by a translation into our
barbarous English.

In obedience, therefore, to his honour's commands, I related to him
the Revolution under the Prince of Orange; the long war with
France, entered into by the said prince, and renewed by his
successor, the present queen, wherein the greatest powers of
Christendom were engaged, and which still continued: I computed,
at his request, "that about a million of Yahoos might have been
killed in the whole progress of it; and perhaps a hundred or more
cities taken, and five times as many ships burnt or sunk."

He asked me, "what were the usual causes or motives that made one
country go to war with another?" I answered "they were
innumerable; but I should only mention a few of the chief.
Sometimes the ambition of princes, who never think they have land
or people enough to govern; sometimes the corruption of ministers,
who engage their master in a war, in order to stifle or divert the
clamour of the subjects against their evil administration.
Difference in opinions has cost many millions of lives: for
instance, whether flesh be bread, or bread be flesh; whether the
juice of a certain berry be blood or wine; whether whistling be a
vice or a virtue; whether it be better to kiss a post, or throw it
into the fire; what is the best colour for a coat, whether black,
white, red, or gray; and whether it should be long or short, narrow
or wide, dirty or clean; with many more. Neither are any wars so
furious and bloody, or of so long a continuance, as those
occasioned by difference in opinion, especially if it be in things

"Sometimes the quarrel between two princes is to decide which of
them shall dispossess a third of his dominions, where neither of
them pretend to any right. Sometimes one prince quarrels with
another for fear the other should quarrel with him. Sometimes a
war is entered upon, because the enemy is too strong; and
sometimes, because he is too weak. Sometimes our neighbours want
the things which we have, or have the things which we want, and we
both fight, till they take ours, or give us theirs. It is a very
justifiable cause of a war, to invade a country after the people
have been wasted by famine, destroyed by pestilence, or embroiled
by factions among themselves. It is justifiable to enter into war
against our nearest ally, when one of his towns lies convenient for
us, or a territory of land, that would render our dominions round
and complete. If a prince sends forces into a nation, where the
people are poor and ignorant, he may lawfully put half of them to
death, and make slaves of the rest, in order to civilize and reduce
them from their barbarous way of living. It is a very kingly,
honourable, and frequent practice, when one prince desires the
assistance of another, to secure him against an invasion, that the
assistant, when he has driven out the invader, should seize on the
dominions himself, and kill, imprison, or banish, the prince he
came to relieve. Alliance by blood, or marriage, is a frequent
cause of war between princes; and the nearer the kindred is, the
greater their disposition to quarrel; poor nations are hungry, and
rich nations are proud; and pride and hunger will ever be at
variance. For these reasons, the trade of a soldier is held the
most honourable of all others; because a soldier is a Yahoo hired
to kill, in cold blood, as many of his own species, who have never
offended him, as possibly he can.

"There is likewise a kind of beggarly princes in Europe, not able
to make war by themselves, who hire out their troops to richer
nations, for so much a day to each man; of which they keep three-
fourths to themselves, and it is the best part of their
maintenance: such are those in many northern parts of Europe."

"What you have told me," said my master, "upon the subject of war,
does indeed discover most admirably the effects of that reason you
pretend to: however, it is happy that the shame is greater than
the danger; and that nature has left you utterly incapable of doing
much mischief. For, your mouths lying flat with your faces, you
can hardly bite each other to any purpose, unless by consent. Then
as to the claws upon your feet before and behind, they are so short
and tender, that one of our Yahoos would drive a dozen of yours
before him. And therefore, in recounting the numbers of those who
have been killed in battle, I cannot but think you have said the
thing which is not."

I could not forbear shaking my head, and smiling a little at his
ignorance. And being no stranger to the art of war, I gave him a
description of cannons, culverins, muskets, carabines, pistols,
bullets, powder, swords, bayonets, battles, sieges, retreats,
attacks, undermines, countermines, bombardments, sea fights, ships
sunk with a thousand men, twenty thousand killed on each side,
dying groans, limbs flying in the air, smoke, noise, confusion,
trampling to death under horses' feet, flight, pursuit, victory;
fields strewed with carcases, left for food to dogs and wolves and
birds of prey; plundering, stripping, ravishing, burning, and
destroying. And to set forth the valour of my own dear countrymen,
I assured him, "that I had seen them blow up a hundred enemies at
once in a siege, and as many in a ship, and beheld the dead bodies
drop down in pieces from the clouds, to the great diversion of the

I was going on to more particulars, when my master commanded me
silence. He said, "whoever understood the nature of Yahoos, might
easily believe it possible for so vile an animal to be capable of
every action I had named, if their strength and cunning equalled
their malice. But as my discourse had increased his abhorrence of
the whole species, so he found it gave him a disturbance in his
mind to which he was wholly a stranger before. He thought his
ears, being used to such abominable words, might, by degrees, admit
them with less detestation: that although he hated the Yahoos of
this country, yet he no more blamed them for their odious
qualities, than he did a gnnayh (a bird of prey) for its cruelty,
or a sharp stone for cutting his hoof. But when a creature
pretending to reason could be capable of such enormities, he
dreaded lest the corruption of that faculty might be worse than
brutality itself. He seemed therefore confident, that, instead of
reason we were only possessed of some quality fitted to increase
our natural vices; as the reflection from a troubled stream returns
the image of an ill shapen body, not only larger but more

He added, "that he had heard too much upon the subject of war, both
in this and some former discourses. There was another point, which
a little perplexed him at present. I had informed him, that some
of our crew left their country on account of being ruined by law;
that I had already explained the meaning of the word; but he was at
a loss how it should come to pass, that the law, which was intended
for every man's preservation, should be any man's ruin. Therefore
he desired to be further satisfied what I meant by law, and the
dispensers thereof, according to the present practice in my own
country; because he thought nature and reason were sufficient
guides for a reasonable animal, as we pretended to be, in showing
us what he ought to do, and what to avoid."

I assured his honour, "that the law was a science in which I had
not much conversed, further than by employing advocates, in vain,
upon some injustices that had been done me: however, I would give
him all the satisfaction I was able."

I said, "there was a society of men among us, bred up from their
youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose,
that white is black, and black is white, according as they are
paid. To this society all the rest of the people are slaves. For
example, if my neighbour has a mind to my cow, he has a lawyer to
prove that he ought to have my cow from me. I must then hire
another to defend my right, it being against all rules of law that
any man should be allowed to speak for himself. Now, in this case,
I, who am the right owner, lie under two great disadvantages:
first, my lawyer, being practised almost from his cradle in
defending falsehood, is quite out of his element when he would be
an advocate for justice, which is an unnatural office he always
attempts with great awkwardness, if not with ill-will. The second
disadvantage is, that my lawyer must proceed with great caution, or
else he will be reprimanded by the judges, and abhorred by his
brethren, as one that would lessen the practice of the law. And
therefore I have but two methods to preserve my cow. The first is,
to gain over my adversary's lawyer with a double fee, who will then
betray his client by insinuating that he hath justice on his side.
The second way is for my lawyer to make my cause appear as unjust
as he can, by allowing the cow to belong to my adversary: and
this, if it be skilfully done, will certainly bespeak the favour of
the bench. Now your honour is to know, that these judges are
persons appointed to decide all controversies of property, as well
as for the trial of criminals, and picked out from the most
dexterous lawyers, who are grown old or lazy; and having been
biassed all their lives against truth and equity, lie under such a
fatal necessity of favouring fraud, perjury, and oppression, that I
have known some of them refuse a large bribe from the side where
justice lay, rather than injure the faculty, by doing any thing
unbecoming their nature or their office.

"It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever has been done
before, may legally be done again: and therefore they take special
care to record all the decisions formerly made against common
justice, and the general reason of mankind. These, under the name
of precedents, they produce as authorities to justify the most
iniquitous opinions; and the judges never fail of directing

"In pleading, they studiously avoid entering into the merits of the
cause; but are loud, violent, and tedious, in dwelling upon all
circumstances which are not to the purpose. For instance, in the
case already mentioned; they never desire to know what claim or
title my adversary has to my cow; but whether the said cow were red
or black; her horns long or short; whether the field I graze her in
be round or square; whether she was milked at home or abroad; what
diseases she is subject to, and the like; after which they consult
precedents, adjourn the cause from time to time, and in ten,
twenty, or thirty years, come to an issue.

"It is likewise to be observed, that this society has a peculiar
cant and jargon of their own, that no other mortal can understand,
and wherein all their laws are written, which they take special
care to multiply; whereby they have wholly confounded the very
essence of truth and falsehood, of right and wrong; so that it will
take thirty years to decide, whether the field left me by my
ancestors for six generations belongs to me, or to a stranger three
hundred miles off.

"In the trial of persons accused for crimes against the state, the
method is much more short and commendable: the judge first sends
to sound the disposition of those in power, after which he can
easily hang or save a criminal, strictly preserving all due forms
of law."

Here my master interposing, said, "it was a pity, that creatures
endowed with such prodigious abilities of mind, as these lawyers,
by the description I gave of them, must certainly be, were not
rather encouraged to be instructors of others in wisdom and
knowledge." In answer to which I assured his honour, "that in all
points out of their own trade, they were usually the most ignorant
and stupid generation among us, the most despicable in common
conversation, avowed enemies to all knowledge and learning, and
equally disposed to pervert the general reason of mankind in every
other subject of discourse as in that of their own profession."


[A continuation of the state of England under Queen Anne. The
character of a first minister of state in European courts.]

My master was yet wholly at a loss to understand what motives could
incite this race of lawyers to perplex, disquiet, and weary
themselves, and engage in a confederacy of injustice, merely for
the sake of injuring their fellow-animals; neither could he
comprehend what I meant in saying, they did it for hire. Whereupon
I was at much pains to describe to him the use of money, the
materials it was made of, and the value of the metals; "that when a
Yahoo had got a great store of this precious substance, he was able
to purchase whatever he had a mind to; the finest clothing, the
noblest houses, great tracts of land, the most costly meats and
drinks, and have his choice of the most beautiful females.
Therefore since money alone was able to perform all these feats,
our Yahoos thought they could never have enough of it to spend, or
to save, as they found themselves inclined, from their natural bent
either to profusion or avarice; that the rich man enjoyed the fruit
of the poor man's labour, and the latter were a thousand to one in
proportion to the former; that the bulk of our people were forced
to live miserably, by labouring every day for small wages, to make
a few live plentifully."

I enlarged myself much on these, and many other particulars to the
same purpose; but his honour was still to seek; for he went upon a
supposition, that all animals had a title to their share in the
productions of the earth, and especially those who presided over
the rest. Therefore he desired I would let him know, "what these
costly meats were, and how any of us happened to want them?"
Whereupon I enumerated as many sorts as came into my head, with the
various methods of dressing them, which could not be done without
sending vessels by sea to every part of the world, as well for
liquors to drink as for sauces and innumerable other conveniences.
I assured him "that this whole globe of earth must be at least
three times gone round before one of our better female Yahoos could
get her breakfast, or a cup to put it in." He said "that must
needs be a miserable country which cannot furnish food for its own
inhabitants. But what he chiefly wondered at was, how such vast
tracts of ground as I described should be wholly without fresh
water, and the people put to the necessity of sending over the sea
for drink." I replied "that England (the dear place of my
nativity) was computed to produce three times the quantity of food
more than its inhabitants are able to consume, as well as liquors
extracted from grain, or pressed out of the fruit of certain trees,
which made excellent drink, and the same proportion in every other
convenience of life. But, in order to feed the luxury and
intemperance of the males, and the vanity of the females, we sent
away the greatest part of our necessary things to other countries,
whence, in return, we brought the materials of diseases, folly, and
vice, to spend among ourselves. Hence it follows of necessity,
that vast numbers of our people are compelled to seek their
livelihood by begging, robbing, stealing, cheating, pimping,
flattering, suborning, forswearing, forging, gaming, lying,
fawning, hectoring, voting, scribbling, star-gazing, poisoning,
whoring, canting, libelling, freethinking, and the like
occupations:" every one of which terms I was at much pains to make
him understand.

"That wine was not imported among us from foreign countries to
supply the want of water or other drinks, but because it was a sort
of liquid which made us merry by putting us out of our senses,
diverted all melancholy thoughts, begat wild extravagant
imaginations in the brain, raised our hopes and banished our fears,
suspended every office of reason for a time, and deprived us of the
use of our limbs, till we fell into a profound sleep; although it
must be confessed, that we always awaked sick and dispirited; and
that the use of this liquor filled us with diseases which made our
lives uncomfortable and short.

"But beside all this, the bulk of our people supported themselves
by furnishing the necessities or conveniences of life to the rich
and to each other. For instance, when I am at home, and dressed as
I ought to be, I carry on my body the workmanship of a hundred
tradesmen; the building and furniture of my house employ as many
more, and five times the number to adorn my wife."

I was going on to tell him of another sort of people, who get their
livelihood by attending the sick, having, upon some occasions,
informed his honour that many of my crew had died of diseases. But
here it was with the utmost difficulty that I brought him to
apprehend what I meant. "He could easily conceive, that a
Houyhnhnm, grew weak and heavy a few days before his death, or by
some accident might hurt a limb; but that nature, who works all
things to perfection, should suffer any pains to breed in our
bodies, he thought impossible, and desired to know the reason of so
unaccountable an evil."

I told him "we fed on a thousand things which operated contrary to
each other; that we ate when we were not hungry, and drank without
the provocation of thirst; that we sat whole nights drinking strong
liquors, without eating a bit, which disposed us to sloth, inflamed
our bodies, and precipitated or prevented digestion; that
prostitute female Yahoos acquired a certain malady, which bred
rottenness in the bones of those who fell into their embraces; that
this, and many other diseases, were propagated from father to son;
so that great numbers came into the world with complicated maladies
upon them; that it would be endless to give him a catalogue of all
diseases incident to human bodies, for they would not be fewer than
five or six hundred, spread over every limb and joint--in short,
every part, external and intestine, having diseases appropriated to
itself. To remedy which, there was a sort of people bred up among
us in the profession, or pretence, of curing the sick. And because
I had some skill in the faculty, I would, in gratitude to his
honour, let him know the whole mystery and method by which they

"Their fundamental is, that all diseases arise from repletion;
whence they conclude, that a great evacuation of the body is
necessary, either through the natural passage or upwards at the
mouth. Their next business is from herbs, minerals, gums, oils,
shells, salts, juices, sea-weed, excrements, barks of trees,
serpents, toads, frogs, spiders, dead men's flesh and bones, birds,
beasts, and fishes, to form a composition, for smell and taste, the
most abominable, nauseous, and detestable, they can possibly
contrive, which the stomach immediately rejects with loathing, and
this they call a vomit; or else, from the same store-house, with
some other poisonous additions, they command us to take in at the
orifice above or below (just as the physician then happens to be
disposed) a medicine equally annoying and disgustful to the bowels;
which, relaxing the belly, drives down all before it; and this they
call a purge, or a clyster. For nature (as the physicians allege)
having intended the superior anterior orifice only for the
intromission of solids and liquids, and the inferior posterior for
ejection, these artists ingeniously considering that in all
diseases nature is forced out of her seat, therefore, to replace
her in it, the body must be treated in a manner directly contrary,
by interchanging the use of each orifice; forcing solids and
liquids in at the anus, and making evacuations at the mouth.

"But, besides real diseases, we are subject to many that are only
imaginary, for which the physicians have invented imaginary cures;
these have their several names, and so have the drugs that are
proper for them; and with these our female Yahoos are always

"One great excellency in this tribe, is their skill at prognostics,
wherein they seldom fail; their predictions in real diseases, when
they rise to any degree of malignity, generally portending death,
which is always in their power, when recovery is not: and
therefore, upon any unexpected signs of amendment, after they have
pronounced their sentence, rather than be accused as false
prophets, they know how to approve their sagacity to the world, by
a seasonable dose.

"They are likewise of special use to husbands and wives who are
grown weary of their mates; to eldest sons, to great ministers of
state, and often to princes."

I had formerly, upon occasion, discoursed with my master upon the
nature of government in general, and particularly of our own
excellent constitution, deservedly the wonder and envy of the whole
world. But having here accidentally mentioned a minister of state,
he commanded me, some time after, to inform him, "what species of
Yahoo I particularly meant by that appellation."

I told him, "that a first or chief minister of state, who was the
person I intended to describe, was the creature wholly exempt from
joy and grief, love and hatred, pity and anger; at least, makes use
of no other passions, but a violent desire of wealth, power, and
titles; that he applies his words to all uses, except to the
indication of his mind; that he never tells a truth but with an
intent that you should take it for a lie; nor a lie, but with a
design that you should take it for a truth; that those he speaks
worst of behind their backs are in the surest way of preferment;
and whenever he begins to praise you to others, or to yourself, you
are from that day forlorn. The worst mark you can receive is a
promise, especially when it is confirmed with an oath; after which,
every wise man retires, and gives over all hopes.

"There are three methods, by which a man may rise to be chief
minister. The first is, by knowing how, with prudence, to dispose
of a wife, a daughter, or a sister; the second, by betraying or
undermining his predecessor; and the third is, by a furious zeal,
in public assemblies, against the corruption's of the court. But a
wise prince would rather choose to employ those who practise the
last of these methods; because such zealots prove always the most
obsequious and subservient to the will and passions of their
master. That these ministers, having all employments at their
disposal, preserve themselves in power, by bribing the majority of
a senate or great council; and at last, by an expedient, called an
act of indemnity" (whereof I described the nature to him), "they
secure themselves from after-reckonings, and retire from the public
laden with the spoils of the nation.

"The palace of a chief minister is a seminary to breed up others in
his own trade: the pages, lackeys, and porters, by imitating their
master, become ministers of state in their several districts, and
learn to excel in the three principal ingredients, of insolence,
lying, and bribery. Accordingly, they have a subaltern court paid
to them by persons of the best rank; and sometimes by the force of
dexterity and impudence, arrive, through several gradations, to be
successors to their lord.

"He is usually governed by a decayed wench, or favourite footman,
who are the tunnels through which all graces are conveyed, and may
properly be called, in the last resort, the governors of the

One day, in discourse, my master, having heard me mention the
nobility of my country, was pleased to make me a compliment which I
could not pretend to deserve: "that he was sure I must have been
born of some noble family, because I far exceeded in shape, colour,
and cleanliness, all the Yahoos of his nation, although I seemed to
fail in strength and agility, which must be imputed to my different
way of living from those other brutes; and besides I was not only
endowed with the faculty of speech, but likewise with some
rudiments of reason, to a degree that, with all his acquaintance, I
passed for a prodigy."

He made me observe, "that among the Houyhnhnms, the white, the
sorrel, and the iron-gray, were not so exactly shaped as the bay,
the dapple-gray, and the black; nor born with equal talents of
mind, or a capacity to improve them; and therefore continued always
in the condition of servants, without ever aspiring to match out of
their own race, which in that country would be reckoned monstrous
and unnatural."

I made his honour my most humble acknowledgments for the good
opinion he was pleased to conceive of me, but assured him at the
same time, "that my birth was of the lower sort, having been born
of plain honest parents, who were just able to give me a tolerable
education; that nobility, among us, was altogether a different
thing from the idea he had of it; that our young noblemen are bred
from their childhood in idleness and luxury; that, as soon as years
will permit, they consume their vigour, and contract odious
diseases among lewd females; and when their fortunes are almost
ruined, they marry some woman of mean birth, disagreeable person,
and unsound constitution (merely for the sake of money), whom they
hate and despise. That the productions of such marriages are
generally scrofulous, rickety, or deformed children; by which means
the family seldom continues above three generations, unless the
wife takes care to provide a healthy father, among her neighbours
or domestics, in order to improve and continue the breed. That a
weak diseased body, a meagre countenance, and sallow complexion,
are the true marks of noble blood; and a healthy robust appearance
is so disgraceful in a man of quality, that the world concludes his
real father to have been a groom or a coachman. The imperfections
of his mind run parallel with those of his body, being a
composition of spleen, dullness, ignorance, caprice, sensuality,
and pride.

"Without the consent of this illustrious body, no law can be
enacted, repealed, or altered: and these nobles have likewise the
decision of all our possessions, without appeal." {6}


[The author's great love of his native country. His master's
observations upon the constitution and administration of England,
as described by the author, with parallel cases and comparisons.
His master's observations upon human nature.]

The reader may be disposed to wonder how I could prevail on myself
to give so free a representation of my own species, among a race of
mortals who are already too apt to conceive the vilest opinion of
humankind, from that entire congruity between me and their Yahoos.
But I must freely confess, that the many virtues of those excellent
quadrupeds, placed in opposite view to human corruptions, had so
far opened my eyes and enlarged my understanding, that I began to
view the actions and passions of man in a very different light, and
to think the honour of my own kind not worth managing; which,
besides, it was impossible for me to do, before a person of so
acute a judgment as my master, who daily convinced me of a thousand
faults in myself, whereof I had not the least perception before,
and which, with us, would never be numbered even among human
infirmities. I had likewise learned, from his example, an utter
detestation of all falsehood or disguise; and truth appeared so
amiable to me, that I determined upon sacrificing every thing to

Let me deal so candidly with the reader as to confess that there
was yet a much stronger motive for the freedom I took in my
representation of things. I had not yet been a year in this
country before I contracted such a love and veneration for the
inhabitants, that I entered on a firm resolution never to return to
humankind, but to pass the rest of my life among these admirable
Houyhnhnms, in the contemplation and practice of every virtue,
where I could have no example or incitement to vice. But it was
decreed by fortune, my perpetual enemy, that so great a felicity
should not fall to my share. However, it is now some comfort to
reflect, that in what I said of my countrymen, I extenuated their
faults as much as I durst before so strict an examiner; and upon
every article gave as favourable a turn as the matter would bear.
For, indeed, who is there alive that will not be swayed by his bias
and partiality to the place of his birth?

I have related the substance of several conversations I had with my
master during the greatest part of the time I had the honour to be
in his service; but have, indeed, for brevity sake, omitted much
more than is here set down.

When I had answered all his questions, and his curiosity seemed to
be fully satisfied, he sent for me one morning early, and commanded
me to sit down at some distance (an honour which he had never
before conferred upon me). He said, "he had been very seriously
considering my whole story, as far as it related both to myself and
my country; that he looked upon us as a sort of animals, to whose
share, by what accident he could not conjecture, some small
pittance of reason had fallen, whereof we made no other use, than
by its assistance, to aggravate our natural corruptions, and to
acquire new ones, which nature had not given us; that we disarmed
ourselves of the few abilities she had bestowed; had been very
successful in multiplying our original wants, and seemed to spend
our whole lives in vain endeavours to supply them by our own
inventions; that, as to myself, it was manifest I had neither the
strength nor agility of a common Yahoo; that I walked infirmly on
my hinder feet; had found out a contrivance to make my claws of no
use or defence, and to remove the hair from my chin, which was
intended as a shelter from the sun and the weather: lastly, that I
could neither run with speed, nor climb trees like my brethren," as
he called them, "the Yahoos in his country.

"That our institutions of government and law were plainly owing to
our gross defects in reason, and by consequence in virtue; because
reason alone is sufficient to govern a rational creature; which
was, therefore, a character we had no pretence to challenge, even
from the account I had given of my own people; although he
manifestly perceived, that, in order to favour them, I had
concealed many particulars, and often said the thing which was not.

"He was the more confirmed in this opinion, because, he observed,
that as I agreed in every feature of my body with other Yahoos,
except where it was to my real disadvantage in point of strength,
speed, and activity, the shortness of my claws, and some other
particulars where nature had no part; so from the representation I
had given him of our lives, our manners, and our actions, he found
as near a resemblance in the disposition of our minds." He said,
"the Yahoos were known to hate one another, more than they did any
different species of animals; and the reason usually assigned was,
the odiousness of their own shapes, which all could see in the
rest, but not in themselves. He had therefore begun to think it
not unwise in us to cover our bodies, and by that invention conceal
many of our deformities from each other, which would else be hardly
supportable. But he now found he had been mistaken, and that the
dissensions of those brutes in his country were owing to the same
cause with ours, as I had described them. For if," said he, "you
throw among five Yahoos as much food as would be sufficient for
fifty, they will, instead of eating peaceably, fall together by the
ears, each single one impatient to have all to itself; and
therefore a servant was usually employed to stand by while they
were feeding abroad, and those kept at home were tied at a distance
from each other: that if a cow died of age or accident, before a
Houyhnhnm could secure it for his own Yahoos, those in the
neighbourhood would come in herds to seize it, and then would ensue
such a battle as I had described, with terrible wounds made by
their claws on both sides, although they seldom were able to kill
one another, for want of such convenient instruments of death as we
had invented. At other times, the like battles have been fought
between the Yahoos of several neighbourhoods, without any visible
cause; those of one district watching all opportunities to surprise
the next, before they are prepared. But if they find their project
has miscarried, they return home, and, for want of enemies, engage
in what I call a civil war among themselves.

"That in some fields of his country there are certain shining
stones of several colours, whereof the Yahoos are violently fond:
and when part of these stones is fixed in the earth, as it
sometimes happens, they will dig with their claws for whole days to
get them out; then carry them away, and hide them by heaps in their
kennels; but still looking round with great caution, for fear their
comrades should find out their treasure." My master said, "he
could never discover the reason of this unnatural appetite, or how
these stones could be of any use to a Yahoo; but now he believed it
might proceed from the same principle of avarice which I had
ascribed to mankind. That he had once, by way of experiment,
privately removed a heap of these stones from the place where one
of his Yahoos had buried it; whereupon the sordid animal, missing
his treasure, by his loud lamenting brought the whole herd to the
place, there miserably howled, then fell to biting and tearing the
rest, began to pine away, would neither eat, nor sleep, nor work,
till he ordered a servant privately to convey the stones into the
same hole, and hide them as before; which, when his Yahoo had
found, he presently recovered his spirits and good humour, but took
good care to remove them to a better hiding place, and has ever
since been a very serviceable brute."

My master further assured me, which I also observed myself, "that
in the fields where the shining stones abound, the fiercest and
most frequent battles are fought, occasioned by perpetual inroads
of the neighbouring Yahoos."

He said, "it was common, when two Yahoos discovered such a stone in
a field, and were contending which of them should be the
proprietor, a third would take the advantage, and carry it away
from them both;" which my master would needs contend to have some
kind of resemblance with our suits at law; wherein I thought it for
our credit not to undeceive him; since the decision he mentioned
was much more equitable than many decrees among us; because the
plaintiff and defendant there lost nothing beside the stone they
contended for: whereas our courts of equity would never have
dismissed the cause, while either of them had any thing left.

My master, continuing his discourse, said, "there was nothing that
rendered the Yahoos more odious, than their undistinguishing
appetite to devour every thing that came in their way, whether
herbs, roots, berries, the corrupted flesh of animals, or all
mingled together: and it was peculiar in their temper, that they
were fonder of what they could get by rapine or stealth, at a
greater distance, than much better food provided for them at home.
If their prey held out, they would eat till they were ready to
burst; after which, nature had pointed out to them a certain root
that gave them a general evacuation.

"There was also another kind of root, very juicy, but somewhat rare
and difficult to be found, which the Yahoos sought for with much
eagerness, and would suck it with great delight; it produced in
them the same effects that wine has upon us. It would make them
sometimes hug, and sometimes tear one another; they would howl, and
grin, and chatter, and reel, and tumble, and then fall asleep in
the mud."

I did indeed observe that the Yahoos were the only animals in this
country subject to any diseases; which, however, were much fewer
than horses have among us, and contracted, not by any ill-treatment
they meet with, but by the nastiness and greediness of that sordid
brute. Neither has their language any more than a general
appellation for those maladies, which is borrowed from the name of
the beast, and called hnea-yahoo, or Yahoo's evil; and the cure
prescribed is a mixture of their own dung and urine, forcibly put
down the Yahoo's throat. This I have since often known to have
been taken with success, and do here freely recommend it to my
countrymen for the public good, as an admirable specific against
all diseases produced by repletion.

"As to learning, government, arts, manufactures, and the like," my
master confessed, "he could find little or no resemblance between
the Yahoos of that country and those in ours; for he only meant to
observe what parity there was in our natures. He had heard,
indeed, some curious Houyhnhnms observe, that in most herds there
was a sort of ruling Yahoo (as among us there is generally some
leading or principal stag in a park), who was always more deformed
in body, and mischievous in disposition, than any of the rest; that
this leader had usually a favourite as like himself as he could
get, whose employment was to lick his master's feet and posteriors,
and drive the female Yahoos to his kennel; for which he was now and
then rewarded with a piece of ass's flesh. This favourite is hated
by the whole herd, and therefore, to protect himself, keeps always
near the person of his leader. He usually continues in office till
a worse can be found; but the very moment he is discarded, his
successor, at the head of all the Yahoos in that district, young
and old, male and female, come in a body, and discharge their
excrements upon him from head to foot. But how far this might be
applicable to our courts, and favourites, and ministers of state,
my master said I could best determine."

I durst make no return to this malicious insinuation, which debased
human understanding below the sagacity of a common hound, who has
judgment enough to distinguish and follow the cry of the ablest dog
in the pack, without being ever mistaken.

My master told me, "there were some qualities remarkable in the
Yahoos, which he had not observed me to mention, or at least very
slightly, in the accounts I had given of humankind." He said,
"those animals, like other brutes, had their females in common; but
in this they differed, that the she Yahoo would admit the males
while she was pregnant; and that the hes would quarrel and fight
with the females, as fiercely as with each other; both which
practices were such degrees of infamous brutality, as no other
sensitive creature ever arrived at.

"Another thing he wondered at in the Yahoos, was their strange
disposition to nastiness and dirt; whereas there appears to be a
natural love of cleanliness in all other animals." As to the two
former accusations, I was glad to let them pass without any reply,
because I had not a word to offer upon them in defence of my
species, which otherwise I certainly had done from my own
inclinations. But I could have easily vindicated humankind from
the imputation of singularity upon the last article, if there had
been any swine in that country (as unluckily for me there were
not), which, although it may be a sweeter quadruped than a Yahoo,
cannot, I humbly conceive, in justice, pretend to more cleanliness;
and so his honour himself must have owned, if he had seen their
filthy way of feeding, and their custom of wallowing and sleeping
in the mud.

My master likewise mentioned another quality which his servants had
discovered in several Yahoos, and to him was wholly unaccountable.
He said, "a fancy would sometimes take a Yahoo to retire into a
corner, to lie down, and howl, and groan, and spurn away all that
came near him, although he were young and fat, wanted neither food
nor water, nor did the servant imagine what could possibly ail him.
And the only remedy they found was, to set him to hard work, after
which he would infallibly come to himself." To this I was silent
out of partiality to my own kind; yet here I could plainly discover
the true seeds of spleen, which only seizes on the lazy, the
luxurious, and the rich; who, if they were forced to undergo the
same regimen, I would undertake for the cure.

His honour had further observed, "that a female Yahoo would often
stand behind a bank or a bush, to gaze on the young males passing
by, and then appear, and hide, using many antic gestures and
grimaces, at which time it was observed that she had a most
offensive smell; and when any of the males advanced, would slowly
retire, looking often back, and with a counterfeit show of fear,
run off into some convenient place, where she knew the male would
follow her.

"At other times, if a female stranger came among them, three or
four of her own sex would get about her, and stare, and chatter,
and grin, and smell her all over; and then turn off with gestures,
that seemed to express contempt and disdain."

Perhaps my master might refine a little in these speculations,
which he had drawn from what he observed himself, or had been told
him by others; however, I could not reflect without some amazement,
and much sorrow, that the rudiments of lewdness, coquetry, censure,
and scandal, should have place by instinct in womankind.

I expected every moment that my master would accuse the Yahoos of
those unnatural appetites in both sexes, so common among us. But
nature, it seems, has not been so expert a school-mistress; and
these politer pleasures are entirely the productions of art and
reason on our side of the globe.


[The author relates several particulars of the Yahoos. The great
virtues of the Houyhnhnms. The education and exercise of their
youth. Their general assembly.]

As I ought to have understood human nature much better than I
supposed it possible for my master to do, so it was easy to apply
the character he gave of the Yahoos to myself and my countrymen;
and I believed I could yet make further discoveries, from my own
observation. I therefore often begged his honour to let me go
among the herds of Yahoos in the neighbourhood; to which he always
very graciously consented, being perfectly convinced that the
hatred I bore these brutes would never suffer me to be corrupted by
them; and his honour ordered one of his servants, a strong sorrel
nag, very honest and good-natured, to be my guard; without whose
protection I durst not undertake such adventures. For I have
already told the reader how much I was pestered by these odious
animals, upon my first arrival; and I afterwards failed very
narrowly, three or four times, of falling into their clutches, when
I happened to stray at any distance without my hanger. And I have
reason to believe they had some imagination that I was of their own
species, which I often assisted myself by stripping up my sleeves,
and showing my naked arms and breasts in their sight, when my
protector was with me. At which times they would approach as near
as they durst, and imitate my actions after the manner of monkeys,
but ever with great signs of hatred; as a tame jackdaw with cap and
stockings is always persecuted by the wild ones, when he happens to
be got among them.

They are prodigiously nimble from their infancy. However, I once
caught a young male of three years old, and endeavoured, by all
marks of tenderness, to make it quiet; but the little imp fell a
squalling, and scratching, and biting with such violence, that I
was forced to let it go; and it was high time, for a whole troop of
old ones came about us at the noise, but finding the cub was safe
(for away it ran), and my sorrel nag being by, they durst not
venture near us. I observed the young animal's flesh to smell very
rank, and the stink was somewhat between a weasel and a fox, but
much more disagreeable. I forgot another circumstance (and perhaps
I might have the reader's pardon if it were wholly omitted), that
while I held the odious vermin in my hands, it voided its filthy
excrements of a yellow liquid substance all over my clothes; but by
good fortune there was a small brook hard by, where I washed myself
as clean as I could; although I durst not come into my master's
presence until I were sufficiently aired.

By what I could discover, the Yahoos appear to be the most
unteachable of all animals: their capacity never reaching higher
than to draw or carry burdens. Yet I am of opinion, this defect
arises chiefly from a perverse, restive disposition; for they are
cunning, malicious, treacherous, and revengeful. They are strong
and hardy, but of a cowardly spirit, and, by consequence, insolent,
abject, and cruel. It is observed, that the red haired of both
sexes are more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet
they much exceed in strength and activity.

The Houyhnhnms keep the Yahoos for present use in huts not far from
the house; but the rest are sent abroad to certain fields, where
they dig up roots, eat several kinds of herbs, and search about for
carrion, or sometimes catch weasels and luhimuhs (a sort of wild
rat), which they greedily devour. Nature has taught them to dig
deep holes with their nails on the side of a rising ground, wherein
they lie by themselves; only the kennels of the females are larger,
sufficient to hold two or three cubs.

They swim from their infancy like frogs, and are able to continue
long under water, where they often take fish, which the females
carry home to their young. And, upon this occasion, I hope the
reader will pardon my relating an odd adventure.

Being one day abroad with my protector the sorrel nag, and the
weather exceeding hot, I entreated him to let me bathe in a river
that was near. He consented, and I immediately stripped myself
stark naked, and went down softly into the stream. It happened
that a young female Yahoo, standing behind a bank, saw the whole
proceeding, and inflamed by desire, as the nag and I conjectured,
came running with all speed, and leaped into the water, within five
yards of the place where I bathed. I was never in my life so
terribly frightened. The nag was grazing at some distance, not
suspecting any harm. She embraced me after a most fulsome manner.
I roared as loud as I could, and the nag came galloping towards me,
whereupon she quitted her grasp, with the utmost reluctancy, and
leaped upon the opposite bank, where she stood gazing and howling
all the time I was putting on my clothes.

This was a matter of diversion to my master and his family, as well
as of mortification to myself. For now I could no longer deny that
I was a real Yahoo in every limb and feature, since the females had
a natural propensity to me, as one of their own species. Neither
was the hair of this brute of a red colour (which might have been
some excuse for an appetite a little irregular), but black as a
sloe, and her countenance did not make an appearance altogether so
hideous as the rest of her kind; for I think she could not be above
eleven years old.

Having lived three years in this country, the reader, I suppose,
will expect that I should, like other travellers, give him some
account of the manners and customs of its inhabitants, which it was
indeed my principal study to learn.

As these noble Houyhnhnms are endowed by nature with a general
disposition to all virtues, and have no conceptions or ideas of
what is evil in a rational creature, so their grand maxim is, to
cultivate reason, and to be wholly governed by it. Neither is
reason among them a point problematical, as with us, where men can
argue with plausibility on both sides of the question, but strikes
you with immediate conviction; as it must needs do, where it is not
mingled, obscured, or discoloured, by passion and interest. I
remember it was with extreme difficulty that I could bring my
master to understand the meaning of the word opinion, or how a
point could be disputable; because reason taught us to affirm or
deny only where we are certain; and beyond our knowledge we cannot
do either. So that controversies, wranglings, disputes, and
positiveness, in false or dubious propositions, are evils unknown
among the Houyhnhnms. In the like manner, when I used to explain
to him our several systems of natural philosophy, he would laugh,
"that a creature pretending to reason, should value itself upon the
knowledge of other people's conjectures, and in things where that
knowledge, if it were certain, could be of no use." Wherein he
agreed entirely with the sentiments of Socrates, as Plato delivers
them; which I mention as the highest honour I can do that prince of
philosophers. I have often since reflected, what destruction such
doctrine would make in the libraries of Europe; and how many paths
of fame would be then shut up in the learned world.

Friendship and benevolence are the two principal virtues among the
Houyhnhnms; and these not confined to particular objects, but
universal to the whole race; for a stranger from the remotest part
is equally treated with the nearest neighbour, and wherever he
goes, looks upon himself as at home. They preserve decency and
civility in the highest degrees, but are altogether ignorant of
ceremony. They have no fondness for their colts or foals, but the
care they take in educating them proceeds entirely from the
dictates of reason. And I observed my master to show the same
affection to his neighbour's issue, that he had for his own. They
will have it that nature teaches them to love the whole species,
and it is reason only that makes a distinction of persons, where
there is a superior degree of virtue.

When the matron Houyhnhnms have produced one of each sex, they no
longer accompany with their consorts, except they lose one of their
issue by some casualty, which very seldom happens; but in such a
case they meet again; or when the like accident befalls a person
whose wife is past bearing, some other couple bestow on him one of
their own colts, and then go together again until the mother is
pregnant. This caution is necessary, to prevent the country from
being overburdened with numbers. But the race of inferior
Houyhnhnms, bred up to be servants, is not so strictly limited upon
this article: these are allowed to produce three of each sex, to
be domestics in the noble families.

In their marriages, they are exactly careful to choose such colours
as will not make any disagreeable mixture in the breed. Strength
is chiefly valued in the male, and comeliness in the female; not
upon the account of love, but to preserve the race from
degenerating; for where a female happens to excel in strength, a
consort is chosen, with regard to comeliness.

Courtship, love, presents, jointures, settlements have no place in
their thoughts, or terms whereby to express them in their language.
The young couple meet, and are joined, merely because it is the
determination of their parents and friends; it is what they see
done every day, and they look upon it as one of the necessary
actions of a reasonable being. But the violation of marriage, or
any other unchastity, was never heard of; and the married pair pass
their lives with the same friendship and mutual benevolence, that
they bear to all others of the same species who come in their way,
without jealousy, fondness, quarrelling, or discontent.

In educating the youth of both sexes, their method is admirable,
and highly deserves our imitation. These are not suffered to taste
a grain of oats, except upon certain days, till eighteen years old;
nor milk, but very rarely; and in summer they graze two hours in
the morning, and as many in the evening, which their parents
likewise observe; but the servants are not allowed above half that
time, and a great part of their grass is brought home, which they
eat at the most convenient hours, when they can be best spared from

Temperance, industry, exercise, and cleanliness, are the lessons
equally enjoined to the young ones of both sexes: and my master
thought it monstrous in us, to give the females a different kind of
education from the males, except in some articles of domestic
management; whereby, as he truly observed, one half of our natives
were good for nothing but bringing children into the world; and to
trust the care of our children to such useless animals, he said,
was yet a greater instance of brutality.

But the Houyhnhnms train up their youth to strength, speed, and
hardiness, by exercising them in running races up and down steep
hills, and over hard stony grounds; and when they are all in a
sweat, they are ordered to leap over head and ears into a pond or
river. Four times a year the youth of a certain district meet to
show their proficiency in running and leaping, and other feats of
strength and agility; where the victor is rewarded with a song in
his or her praise. On this festival, the servants drive a herd of
Yahoos into the field, laden with hay, and oats, and milk, for a
repast to the Houyhnhnms; after which, these brutes are immediately
driven back again, for fear of being noisome to the assembly.

Every fourth year, at the vernal equinox, there is a representative
council of the whole nation, which meets in a plain about twenty
miles from our house, and continues about five or six days. Here
they inquire into the state and condition of the several districts;
whether they abound or be deficient in hay or oats, or cows, or
Yahoos; and wherever there is any want (which is but seldom) it is
immediately supplied by unanimous consent and contribution. Here
likewise the regulation of children is settled: as for instance,
if a Houyhnhnm has two males, he changes one of them with another
that has two females; and when a child has been lost by any
casualty, where the mother is past breeding, it is determined what
family in the district shall breed another to supply the loss.


[A grand debate at the general assembly of the Houyhnhnms, and how
it was determined. The learning of the Houyhnhnms. Their
buildings. Their manner of burials. The defectiveness of their

One of these grand assemblies was held in my time, about three
months before my departure, whither my master went as the
representative of our district. In this council was resumed their
old debate, and indeed the only debate that ever happened in their
country; whereof my master, after his return, give me a very
particular account.

The question to be debated was, "whether the Yahoos should be
exterminated from the face of the earth?" One of the members for
the affirmative offered several arguments of great strength and
weight, alleging, "that as the Yahoos were the most filthy,
noisome, and deformed animals which nature ever produced, so they
were the most restive and indocible, mischievous and malicious;
they would privately suck the teats of the Houyhnhnms' cows, kill
and devour their cats, trample down their oats and grass, if they
were not continually watched, and commit a thousand other
extravagancies." He took notice of a general tradition, "that
Yahoos had not been always in their country; but that many ages
ago, two of these brutes appeared together upon a mountain; whether
produced by the heat of the sun upon corrupted mud and slime, or
from the ooze and froth of the sea, was never known; that these
Yahoos engendered, and their brood, in a short time, grew so
numerous as to overrun and infest the whole nation; that the
Houyhnhnms, to get rid of this evil, made a general hunting, and at
last enclosed the whole herd; and destroying the elder, every
Houyhnhnm kept two young ones in a kennel, and brought them to such
a degree of tameness, as an animal, so savage by nature, can be
capable of acquiring, using them for draught and carriage; that
there seemed to be much truth in this tradition, and that those
creatures could not be yinhniamshy (or aborigines of the land),
because of the violent hatred the Houyhnhnms, as well as all other
animals, bore them, which, although their evil disposition
sufficiently deserved, could never have arrived at so high a degree
if they had been aborigines, or else they would have long since
been rooted out; that the inhabitants, taking a fancy to use the
service of the Yahoos, had, very imprudently, neglected to
cultivate the breed of asses, which are a comely animal, easily
kept, more tame and orderly, without any offensive smell, strong
enough for labour, although they yield to the other in agility of
body, and if their braying be no agreeable sound, it is far
preferable to the horrible howlings of the Yahoos."

Several others declared their sentiments to the same purpose, when
my master proposed an expedient to the assembly, whereof he had
indeed borrowed the hint from me. "He approved of the tradition
mentioned by the honourable member who spoke before, and affirmed,
that the two Yahoos said to be seen first among them, had been
driven thither over the sea; that coming to land, and being
forsaken by their companions, they retired to the mountains, and
degenerating by degrees, became in process of time much more savage
than those of their own species in the country whence these two
originals came. The reason of this assertion was, that he had now
in his possession a certain wonderful Yahoo (meaning myself) which
most of them had heard of, and many of them had seen. He then
related to them how he first found me; that my body was all covered
with an artificial composure of the skins and hairs of other
animals; that I spoke in a language of my own, and had thoroughly
learned theirs; that I had related to him the accidents which
brought me thither; that when he saw me without my covering, I was
an exact Yahoo in every part, only of a whiter colour, less hairy,
and with shorter claws. He added, how I had endeavoured to
persuade him, that in my own and other countries, the Yahoos acted
as the governing, rational animal, and held the Houyhnhnms in
servitude; that he observed in me all the qualities of a Yahoo,
only a little more civilized by some tincture of reason, which,
however, was in a degree as far inferior to the Houyhnhnm race, as
the Yahoos of their country were to me; that, among other things, I
mentioned a custom we had of castrating Houyhnhnms when they were
young, in order to render them tame; that the operation was easy
and safe; that it was no shame to learn wisdom from brutes, as
industry is taught by the ant, and building by the swallow (for so
I translate the word lyhannh, although it be a much larger fowl);
that this invention might be practised upon the younger Yahoos
here, which besides rendering them tractable and fitter for use,
would in an age put an end to the whole species, without destroying
life; that in the mean time the Houyhnhnms should be exhorted to
cultivate the breed of asses, which, as they are in all respects
more valuable brutes, so they have this advantage, to be fit for
service at five years old, which the others are not till twelve."

This was all my master thought fit to tell me, at that time, of
what passed in the grand council. But he was pleased to conceal
one particular, which related personally to myself, whereof I soon
felt the unhappy effect, as the reader will know in its proper
place, and whence I date all the succeeding misfortunes of my life.

The Houyhnhnms have no letters, and consequently their knowledge is
all traditional. But there happening few events of any moment
among a people so well united, naturally disposed to every virtue,
wholly governed by reason, and cut off from all commerce with other
nations, the historical part is easily preserved without burdening
their memories. I have already observed that they are subject to
no diseases, and therefore can have no need of physicians.
However, they have excellent medicines, composed of herbs, to cure
accidental bruises and cuts in the pastern or frog of the foot, by
sharp stones, as well as other maims and hurts in the several parts
of the body.

They calculate the year by the revolution of the sun and moon, but
use no subdivisions into weeks. They are well enough acquainted
with the motions of those two luminaries, and understand the nature
of eclipses; and this is the utmost progress of their astronomy.

In poetry, they must be allowed to excel all other mortals; wherein
the justness of their similes, and the minuteness as well as
exactness of their descriptions, are indeed inimitable. Their
verses abound very much in both of these, and usually contain
either some exalted notions of friendship and benevolence or the
praises of those who were victors in races and other bodily
exercises. Their buildings, although very rude and simple, are not
inconvenient, but well contrived to defend them from all injuries
of and heat. They have a kind of tree, which at forty years old
loosens in the root, and falls with the first storm: it grows very
straight, and being pointed like stakes with a sharp stone (for the
Houyhnhnms know not the use of iron), they stick them erect in the
ground, about ten inches asunder, and then weave in oat straw, or
sometimes wattles, between them. The roof is made after the same
manner, and so are the doors.

The Houyhnhnms use the hollow part, between the pastern and the
hoof of their fore-foot, as we do our hands, and this with greater
dexterity than I could at first imagine. I have seen a white mare
of our family thread a needle (which I lent her on purpose) with
that joint. They milk their cows, reap their oats, and do all the
work which requires hands, in the same manner. They have a kind of
hard flints, which, by grinding against other stones, they form
into instruments, that serve instead of wedges, axes, and hammers.
With tools made of these flints, they likewise cut their hay, and
reap their oats, which there grow naturally in several fields; the
Yahoos draw home the sheaves in carriages, and the servants tread
them in certain covered huts to get out the grain, which is kept in
stores. They make a rude kind of earthen and wooden vessels, and
bake the former in the sun.

If they can avoid casualties, they die only of old age, and are
buried in the obscurest places that can be found, their friends and
relations expressing neither joy nor grief at their departure; nor
does the dying person discover the least regret that he is leaving
the world, any more than if he were upon returning home from a
visit to one of his neighbours. I remember my master having once
made an appointment with a friend and his family to come to his
house, upon some affair of importance: on the day fixed, the
mistress and her two children came very late; she made two excuses,
first for her husband, who, as she said, happened that very morning
to shnuwnh. The word is strongly expressive in their language, but
not easily rendered into English; it signifies, "to retire to his
first mother." Her excuse for not coming sooner, was, that her
husband dying late in the morning, she was a good while consulting
her servants about a convenient place where his body should be
laid; and I observed, she behaved herself at our house as
cheerfully as the rest. She died about three months after.

They live generally to seventy, or seventy-five years, very seldom
to fourscore. Some weeks before their death, they feel a gradual
decay; but without pain. During this time they are much visited by
their friends, because they cannot go abroad with their usual ease
and satisfaction. However, about ten days before their death,
which they seldom fail in computing, they return the visits that
have been made them by those who are nearest in the neighbourhood,
being carried in a convenient sledge drawn by Yahoos; which vehicle
they use, not only upon this occasion, but when they grow old, upon
long journeys, or when they are lamed by any accident: and
therefore when the dying Houyhnhnms return those visits, they take
a solemn leave of their friends, as if they were going to some
remote part of the country, where they designed to pass the rest of
their lives.

I know not whether it may be worth observing, that the Houyhnhnms
have no word in their language to express any thing that is evil,
except what they borrow from the deformities or ill qualities of
the Yahoos. Thus they denote the folly of a servant, an omission
of a child, a stone that cuts their feet, a continuance of foul or
unseasonable weather, and the like, by adding to each the epithet
of Yahoo. For instance, hhnm Yahoo; whnaholm Yahoo, ynlhmndwihlma
Yahoo, and an ill-contrived house ynholmhnmrohlnw Yahoo.

I could, with great pleasure, enlarge further upon the manners and
virtues of this excellent people; but intending in a short time to
publish a volume by itself, expressly upon that subject, I refer
the reader thither; and, in the mean time, proceed to relate my own
sad catastrophe.


[The author's economy, and happy life, among the Houyhnhnms. His
great improvement in virtue by conversing with them. Their
conversations. The author has notice given him by his master, that
he must depart from the country. He falls into a swoon for grief;
but submits. He contrives and finishes a canoe by the help of a
fellow-servant, and puts to sea at a venture.]

I had settled my little economy to my own heart's content. My
master had ordered a room to be made for me, after their manner,
about six yards from the house: the sides and floors of which I
plastered with clay, and covered with rush-mats of my own
contriving. I had beaten hemp, which there grows wild, and made of
it a sort of ticking; this I filled with the feathers of several
birds I had taken with springes made of Yahoos' hairs, and were
excellent food. I had worked two chairs with my knife, the sorrel
nag helping me in the grosser and more laborious part. When my
clothes were worn to rags, I made myself others with the skins of
rabbits, and of a certain beautiful animal, about the same size,
called nnuhnoh, the skin of which is covered with a fine down. Of
these I also made very tolerable stockings. I soled my shoes with
wood, which I cut from a tree, and fitted to the upper-leather; and
when this was worn out, I supplied it with the skins of Yahoos
dried in the sun. I often got honey out of hollow trees, which I
mingled with water, or ate with my bread. No man could more verify
the truth of these two maxims, "That nature is very easily
satisfied;" and, "That necessity is the mother of invention." I
enjoyed perfect health of body, and tranquillity of mind; I did not
feel the treachery or inconstancy of a friend, nor the injuries of
a secret or open enemy. I had no occasion of bribing, flattering,
or pimping, to procure the favour of any great man, or of his
minion; I wanted no fence against fraud or oppression: here was
neither physician to destroy my body, nor lawyer to ruin my
fortune; no informer to watch my words and actions, or forge
accusations against me for hire: here were no gibers, censurers,
backbiters, pickpockets, highwaymen, housebreakers, attorneys,
bawds, buffoons, gamesters, politicians, wits, splenetics, tedious
talkers, controvertists, ravishers, murderers, robbers, virtuosos;
no leaders, or followers, of party and faction; no encouragers to
vice, by seducement or examples; no dungeon, axes, gibbets,
whipping-posts, or pillories; no cheating shopkeepers or mechanics;
no pride, vanity, or affectation; no fops, bullies, drunkards,
strolling whores, or poxes; no ranting, lewd, expensive wives; no
stupid, proud pedants; no importunate, overbearing, quarrelsome,
noisy, roaring, empty, conceited, swearing companions; no
scoundrels raised from the dust upon the merit of their vices, or
nobility thrown into it on account of their virtues; no lords,
fiddlers, judges, or dancing-masters.

I had the favour of being admitted to several Houyhnhnms, who came
to visit or dine with my master; where his honour graciously
suffered me to wait in the room, and listen to their discourse.
Both he and his company would often descend to ask me questions,
and receive my answers. I had also sometimes the honour of
attending my master in his visits to others. I never presumed to
speak, except in answer to a question; and then I did it with
inward regret, because it was a loss of so much time for improving
myself; but I was infinitely delighted with the station of an
humble auditor in such conversations, where nothing passed but what
was useful, expressed in the fewest and most significant words;
where, as I have already said, the greatest decency was observed,
without the least degree of ceremony; where no person spoke without
being pleased himself, and pleasing his companions; where there was
no interruption, tediousness, heat, or difference of sentiments.
They have a notion, that when people are met together, a short
silence does much improve conversation: this I found to be true;
for during those little intermissions of talk, new ideas would
arise in their minds, which very much enlivened the discourse.
Their subjects are, generally on friendship and benevolence, on
order and economy; sometimes upon the visible operations of nature,
or ancient traditions; upon the bounds and limits of virtue; upon
the unerring rules of reason, or upon some determinations to be
taken at the next great assembly: and often upon the various
excellences of poetry. I may add, without vanity, that my presence
often gave them sufficient matter for discourse, because it
afforded my master an occasion of letting his friends into the
history of me and my country, upon which they were all pleased to
descant, in a manner not very advantageous to humankind: and for
that reason I shall not repeat what they said; only I may be
allowed to observe, that his honour, to my great admiration,
appeared to understand the nature of Yahoos much better than
myself. He went through all our vices and follies, and discovered
many, which I had never mentioned to him, by only supposing what
qualities a Yahoo of their country, with a small proportion of
reason, might be capable of exerting; and concluded, with too much
probability, "how vile, as well as miserable, such a creature must

I freely confess, that all the little knowledge I have of any
value, was acquired by the lectures I received from my master, and
from hearing the discourses of him and his friends; to which I
should be prouder to listen, than to dictate to the greatest and
wisest assembly in Europe. I admired the strength, comeliness, and
speed of the inhabitants; and such a constellation of virtues, in
such amiable persons, produced in me the highest veneration. At
first, indeed, I did not feel that natural awe, which the Yahoos
and all other animals bear toward them; but it grew upon me by
decrees, much sooner than I imagined, and was mingled with a
respectful love and gratitude, that they would condescend to
distinguish me from the rest of my species.

When I thought of my family, my friends, my countrymen, or the
human race in general, I considered them, as they really were,
Yahoos in shape and disposition, perhaps a little more civilized,
and qualified with the gift of speech; but making no other use of
reason, than to improve and multiply those vices whereof their
brethren in this country had only the share that nature allotted
them. When I happened to behold the reflection of my own form in a
lake or fountain, I turned away my face in horror and detestation
of myself, and could better endure the sight of a common Yahoo than
of my own person. By conversing with the Houyhnhnms, and looking
upon them with delight, I fell to imitate their gait and gesture,
which is now grown into a habit; and my friends often tell me, in a
blunt way, "that I trot like a horse;" which, however, I take for a
great compliment. Neither shall I disown, that in speaking I am
apt to fall into the voice and manner of the Houyhnhnms, and hear
myself ridiculed on that account, without the least mortification.

In the midst of all this happiness, and when I looked upon myself
to be fully settled for life, my master sent for me one morning a
little earlier than his usual hour. I observed by his countenance
that he was in some perplexity, and at a loss how to begin what he
had to speak. After a short silence, he told me, "he did not know
how I would take what he was going to say: that in the last
general assembly, when the affair of the Yahoos was entered upon,
the representatives had taken offence at his keeping a Yahoo
(meaning myself) in his family, more like a Houyhnhnm than a brute
animal; that he was known frequently to converse with me, as if he
could receive some advantage or pleasure in my company; that such a
practice was not agreeable to reason or nature, or a thing ever
heard of before among them; the assembly did therefore exhort him
either to employ me like the rest of my species, or command me to
swim back to the place whence I came: that the first of these
expedients was utterly rejected by all the Houyhnhnms who had ever
seen me at his house or their own; for they alleged, that because I
had some rudiments of reason, added to the natural pravity of those
animals, it was to be feared I might be able to seduce them into
the woody and mountainous parts of the country, and bring them in
troops by night to destroy the Houyhnhnms' cattle, as being
naturally of the ravenous kind, and averse from labour."

My master added, "that he was daily pressed by the Houyhnhnms of
the neighbourhood to have the assembly's exhortation executed,
which he could not put off much longer. He doubted it would be
impossible for me to swim to another country; and therefore wished
I would contrive some sort of vehicle, resembling those I had
described to him, that might carry me on the sea; in which work I
should have the assistance of his own servants, as well as those of
his neighbours." He concluded, "that for his own part, he could
have been content to keep me in his service as long as I lived;
because he found I had cured myself of some bad habits and
dispositions, by endeavouring, as far as my inferior nature was
capable, to imitate the Houyhnhnms."

I should here observe to the reader, that a decree of the general
assembly in this country is expressed by the word hnhloayn, which
signifies an exhortation, as near as I can render it; for they have
no conception how a rational creature can be compelled, but only
advised, or exhorted; because no person can disobey reason, without
giving up his claim to be a rational creature.

I was struck with the utmost grief and despair at my master's
discourse; and being unable to support the agonies I was under, I
fell into a swoon at his feet. When I came to myself, he told me
"that he concluded I had been dead;" for these people are subject
to no such imbecilities of nature. I answered in a faint voice,
"that death would have been too great a happiness; that although I
could not blame the assembly's exhortation, or the urgency of his
friends; yet, in my weak and corrupt judgment, I thought it might
consist with reason to have been less rigorous; that I could not
swim a league, and probably the nearest land to theirs might be
distant above a hundred: that many materials, necessary for making
a small vessel to carry me off, were wholly wanting in this
country; which, however, I would attempt, in obedience and
gratitude to his honour, although I concluded the thing to be
impossible, and therefore looked on myself as already devoted to
destruction; that the certain prospect of an unnatural death was
the least of my evils; for, supposing I should escape with life by
some strange adventure, how could I think with temper of passing my
days among Yahoos, and relapsing into my old corruptions, for want
of examples to lead and keep me within the paths of virtue? that I
knew too well upon what solid reasons all the determinations of the
wise Houyhnhnms were founded, not to be shaken by arguments of
mine, a miserable Yahoo; and therefore, after presenting him with
my humble thanks for the offer of his servants' assistance in
making a vessel, and desiring a reasonable time for so difficult a
work, I told him I would endeavour to preserve a wretched being;
and if ever I returned to England, was not without hopes of being
useful to my own species, by celebrating the praises of the
renowned Houyhnhnms, and proposing their virtues to the imitation
of mankind."

My master, in a few words, made me a very gracious reply; allowed
me the space of two months to finish my boat; and ordered the
sorrel nag, my fellow-servant (for so, at this distance, I may
presume to call him), to follow my instruction; because I told my
master, "that his help would be sufficient, and I knew he had a
tenderness for me."

In his company, my first business was to go to that part of the
coast where my rebellious crew had ordered me to be set on shore.
I got upon a height, and looking on every side into the sea;
fancied I saw a small island toward the north-east. I took out my
pocket glass, and could then clearly distinguish it above five
leagues off, as I computed; but it appeared to the sorrel nag to be
only a blue cloud: for as he had no conception of any country
beside his own, so he could not be as expert in distinguishing
remote objects at sea, as we who so much converse in that element.

After I had discovered this island, I considered no further; but
resolved it should if possible, be the first place of my
banishment, leaving the consequence to fortune.

I returned home, and consulting with the sorrel nag, we went into a
copse at some distance, where I with my knife, and he with a sharp
flint, fastened very artificially after their manner, to a wooden
handle, cut down several oak wattles, about the thickness of a
walking-staff, and some larger pieces. But I shall not trouble the
reader with a particular description of my own mechanics; let it
suffice to say, that in six weeks time with the help of the sorrel
nag, who performed the parts that required most labour, I finished
a sort of Indian canoe, but much larger, covering it with the skins
of Yahoos, well stitched together with hempen threads of my own
making. My sail was likewise composed of the skins of the same
animal; but I made use of the youngest I could get, the older being
too tough and thick; and I likewise provided myself with four
paddles. I laid in a stock of boiled flesh, of rabbits and fowls,
and took with me two vessels, one filled with milk and the other
with water.

I tried my canoe in a large pond, near my master's house, and then
corrected in it what was amiss; stopping all the chinks with
Yahoos' tallow, till I found it staunch, and able to bear me and my
freight; and, when it was as complete as I could possibly make it,
I had it drawn on a carriage very gently by Yahoos to the sea-side,
under the conduct of the sorrel nag and another servant.

When all was ready, and the day came for my departure, I took leave
of my master and lady and the whole family, my eyes flowing with
tears, and my heart quite sunk with grief. But his honour, out of
curiosity, and, perhaps, (if I may speak without vanity,) partly
out of kindness, was determined to see me in my canoe, and got
several of his neighbouring friends to accompany him. I was forced
to wait above an hour for the tide; and then observing the wind
very fortunately bearing toward the island to which I intended to
steer my course, I took a second leave of my master: but as I was
going to prostrate myself to kiss his hoof, he did me the honour to
raise it gently to my mouth. I am not ignorant how much I have
been censured for mentioning this last particular. Detractors are
pleased to think it improbable, that so illustrious a person should
descend to give so great a mark of distinction to a creature so
inferior as I. Neither have I forgotten how apt some travellers
are to boast of extraordinary favours they have received. But, if
these censurers were better acquainted with the noble and courteous
disposition of the Houyhnhnms, they would soon change their

I paid my respects to the rest of the Houyhnhnms in his honour's
company; then getting into my canoe, I pushed off from shore.


[The author's dangerous voyage. He arrives at New Holland, hoping
to settle there. Is wounded with an arrow by one of the natives.
Is seized and carried by force into a Portuguese ship. The great
civilities of the captain. The author arrives at England.]

I began this desperate voyage on February 15, 1714-15, at nine
o'clock in the morning. The wind was very favourable; however, I
made use at first only of my paddles; but considering I should soon
be weary, and that the wind might chop about, I ventured to set up
my little sail; and thus, with the help of the tide, I went at the
rate of a league and a half an hour, as near as I could guess. My
master and his friends continued on the shore till I was almost out
of sight; and I often heard the sorrel nag (who always loved me)
crying out, "Hnuy illa nyha, majah Yahoo;" "Take care of thyself,
gentle Yahoo."

My design was, if possible, to discover some small island
uninhabited, yet sufficient, by my labour, to furnish me with the
necessaries of life, which I would have thought a greater
happiness, than to be first minister in the politest court of
Europe; so horrible was the idea I conceived of returning to live
in the society, and under the government of Yahoos. For in such a
solitude as I desired, I could at least enjoy my own thoughts, and
reflect with delight on the virtues of those inimitable Houyhnhnms,
without an opportunity of degenerating into the vices and
corruptions of my own species.

The reader may remember what I related, when my crew conspired
against me, and confined me to my cabin; how I continued there
several weeks without knowing what course we took; and when I was
put ashore in the long-boat, how the sailors told me, with oaths,
whether true or false, "that they knew not in what part of the
world we were." However, I did then believe us to be about 10
degrees southward of the Cape of Good Hope, or about 45 degrees
southern latitude, as I gathered from some general words I
overheard among them, being I supposed to the south-east in their
intended voyage to Madagascar. And although this were little
better than conjecture, yet I resolved to steer my course eastward,
hoping to reach the south-west coast of New Holland, and perhaps
some such island as I desired lying westward of it. The wind was
full west, and by six in the evening I computed I had gone eastward
at least eighteen leagues; when I spied a very small island about
half a league off, which I soon reached. It was nothing but a
rock, with one creek naturally arched by the force of tempests.
Here I put in my canoe, and climbing a part of the rock, I could
plainly discover land to the east, extending from south to north.
I lay all night in my canoe; and repeating my voyage early in the
morning, I arrived in seven hours to the south-east point of New
Holland. This confirmed me in the opinion I have long entertained,
that the maps and charts place this country at least three degrees
more to the east than it really is; which thought I communicated
many years ago to my worthy friend, Mr. Herman Moll, and gave him
my reasons for it, although he has rather chosen to follow other

I saw no inhabitants in the place where I landed, and being
unarmed, I was afraid of venturing far into the country. I found
some shellfish on the shore, and ate them raw, not daring to kindle
a fire, for fear of being discovered by the natives. I continued
three days feeding on oysters and limpets, to save my own
provisions; and I fortunately found a brook of excellent water,
which gave me great relief.

On the fourth day, venturing out early a little too far, I saw
twenty or thirty natives upon a height not above five hundred yards
from me. They were stark naked, men, women, and children, round a
fire, as I could discover by the smoke. One of them spied me, and
gave notice to the rest; five of them advanced toward me, leaving
the women and children at the fire. I made what haste I could to
the shore, and, getting into my canoe, shoved off: the savages,
observing me retreat, ran after me: and before I could get far
enough into the sea, discharged an arrow which wounded me deeply on
the inside of my left knee: I shall carry the mark to my grave. I
apprehended the arrow might be poisoned, and paddling out of the
reach of their darts (being a calm day), I made a shift to suck the
wound, and dress it as well as I could.

I was at a loss what to do, for I durst not return to the same
landing-place, but stood to the north, and was forced to paddle,
for the wind, though very gentle, was against me, blowing north-
west. As I was looking about for a secure landing-place, I saw a
sail to the north-north-east, which appearing every minute more
visible, I was in some doubt whether I should wait for them or not;
but at last my detestation of the Yahoo race prevailed: and
turning my canoe, I sailed and paddled together to the south, and
got into the same creek whence I set out in the morning, choosing
rather to trust myself among these barbarians, than live with
European Yahoos. I drew up my canoe as close as I could to the
shore, and hid myself behind a stone by the little brook, which, as
I have already said, was excellent water.

The ship came within half a league of this creek, and sent her long
boat with vessels to take in fresh water (for the place, it seems,
was very well known); but I did not observe it, till the boat was
almost on shore; and it was too late to seek another hiding-place.
The seamen at their landing observed my canoe, and rummaging it all
over, easily conjectured that the owner could not be far off. Four
of them, well armed, searched every cranny and lurking-hole, till
at last they found me flat on my face behind the stone. They gazed
awhile in admiration at my strange uncouth dress; my coat made of
skins, my wooden-soled shoes, and my furred stockings; whence,
however, they concluded, I was not a native of the place, who all
go naked. One of the seamen, in Portuguese, bid me rise, and asked
who I was. I understood that language very well, and getting upon
my feet, said, "I was a poor Yahoo banished from the Houyhnhnms,
and desired they would please to let me depart." They admired to
hear me answer them in their own tongue, and saw by my complexion I
must be a European; but were at a loss to know what I meant by
Yahoos and Houyhnhnms; and at the same time fell a-laughing at my
strange tone in speaking, which resembled the neighing of a horse.
I trembled all the while betwixt fear and hatred. I again desired
leave to depart, and was gently moving to my canoe; but they laid
hold of me, desiring to know, "what country I was of? whence I
came?" with many other questions. I told them "I was born in
England, whence I came about five years ago, and then their country
and ours were at peace. I therefore hoped they would not treat me
as an enemy, since I meant them no harm, but was a poor Yahoo
seeking some desolate place where to pass the remainder of his
unfortunate life."

When they began to talk, I thought I never heard or saw any thing
more unnatural; for it appeared to me as monstrous as if a dog or a
cow should speak in England, or a Yahoo in Houyhnhnmland. The
honest Portuguese were equally amazed at my strange dress, and the
odd manner of delivering my words, which, however, they understood
very well. They spoke to me with great humanity, and said, "they
were sure the captain would carry me gratis to Lisbon, whence I
might return to my own country; that two of the seamen would go
back to the ship, inform the captain of what they had seen, and
receive his orders; in the mean time, unless I would give my solemn
oath not to fly, they would secure me by force. I thought it best
to comply with their proposal. They were very curious to know my
story, but I gave them very little satisfaction, and they all
conjectured that my misfortunes had impaired my reason. In two
hours the boat, which went laden with vessels of water, returned,
with the captain's command to fetch me on board. I fell on my
knees to preserve my liberty; but all was in vain; and the men,
having tied me with cords, heaved me into the boat, whence I was
taken into the ship, and thence into the captain's cabin.

His name was Pedro de Mendez; he was a very courteous and generous
person. He entreated me to give some account of myself, and
desired to know what I would eat or drink; said, "I should be used
as well as himself;" and spoke so many obliging things, that I
wondered to find such civilities from a Yahoo. However, I remained
silent and sullen; I was ready to faint at the very smell of him
and his men. At last I desired something to eat out of my own
canoe; but he ordered me a chicken, and some excellent wine, and
then directed that I should be put to bed in a very clean cabin. I
would not undress myself, but lay on the bed-clothes, and in half
an hour stole out, when I thought the crew was at dinner, and
getting to the side of the ship, was going to leap into the sea,
and swim for my life, rather than continue among Yahoos. But one
of the seamen prevented me, and having informed the captain, I was
chained to my cabin.

After dinner, Don Pedro came to me, and desired to know my reason
for so desperate an attempt; assured me, "he only meant to do me
all the service he was able;" and spoke so very movingly, that at
last I descended to treat him like an animal which had some little
portion of reason. I gave him a very short relation of my voyage;
of the conspiracy against me by my own men; of the country where
they set me on shore, and of my five years residence there. All
which he looked upon as if it were a dream or a vision; whereat I
took great offence; for I had quite forgot the faculty of lying, so
peculiar to Yahoos, in all countries where they preside, and,
consequently, their disposition of suspecting truth in others of
their own species. I asked him, "whether it were the custom in his
country to say the thing which was not?" I assured him, "I had
almost forgot what he meant by falsehood, and if I had lived a
thousand years in Houyhnhnmland, I should never have heard a lie
from the meanest servant; that I was altogether indifferent whether
he believed me or not; but, however, in return for his favours, I
would give so much allowance to the corruption of his nature, as to
answer any objection he would please to make, and then he might
easily discover the truth."

The captain, a wise man, after many endeavours to catch me tripping
in some part of my story, at last began to have a better opinion of
my veracity. But he added, "that since I professed so inviolable
an attachment to truth, I must give him my word and honour to bear
him company in this voyage, without attempting any thing against my
life; or else he would continue me a prisoner till we arrived at
Lisbon." I gave him the promise he required; but at the same time
protested, "that I would suffer the greatest hardships, rather than
return to live among Yahoos."

Our voyage passed without any considerable accident. In gratitude
to the captain, I sometimes sat with him, at his earnest request,
and strove to conceal my antipathy against human kind, although it
often broke out; which he suffered to pass without observation.
But the greatest part of the day I confined myself to my cabin, to
avoid seeing any of the crew. The captain had often entreated me
to strip myself of my savage dress, and offered to lend me the best
suit of clothes he had. This I would not be prevailed on to
accept, abhorring to cover myself with any thing that had been on
the back of a Yahoo. I only desired he would lend me two clean
shirts, which, having been washed since he wore them, I believed
would not so much defile me. These I changed every second day, and
washed them myself.

We arrived at Lisbon, Nov. 5, 1715. At our landing, the captain
forced me to cover myself with his cloak, to prevent the rabble
from crowding about me. I was conveyed to his own house; and at my
earnest request he led me up to the highest room backwards. I
conjured him "to conceal from all persons what I had told him of
the Houyhnhnms; because the least hint of such a story would not
only draw numbers of people to see me, but probably put me in
danger of being imprisoned, or burnt by the Inquisition." The
captain persuaded me to accept a suit of clothes newly made; but I
would not suffer the tailor to take my measure; however, Don Pedro
being almost of my size, they fitted me well enough. He accoutred
me with other necessaries, all new, which I aired for twenty-four
hours before I would use them.

The captain had no wife, nor above three servants, none of which
were suffered to attend at meals; and his whole deportment was so
obliging, added to very good human understanding, that I really
began to tolerate his company. He gained so far upon me, that I
ventured to look out of the back window. By degrees I was brought
into another room, whence I peeped into the street, but drew my
head back in a fright. In a week's time he seduced me down to the
door. I found my terror gradually lessened, but my hatred and
contempt seemed to increase. I was at last bold enough to walk the
street in his company, but kept my nose well stopped with rue, or
sometimes with tobacco.

In ten days, Don Pedro, to whom I had given some account of my
domestic affairs, put it upon me, as a matter of honour and
conscience, "that I ought to return to my native country, and live
at home with my wife and children." He told me, "there was an
English ship in the port just ready to sail, and he would furnish
me with all things necessary." It would be tedious to repeat his
arguments, and my contradictions. He said, "it was altogether
impossible to find such a solitary island as I desired to live in;
but I might command in my own house, and pass my time in a manner
as recluse as I pleased."

I complied at last, finding I could not do better. I left Lisbon
the 24th day of November, in an English merchantman, but who was
the master I never inquired. Don Pedro accompanied me to the ship,
and lent me twenty pounds. He took kind leave of me, and embraced
me at parting, which I bore as well as I could. During this last
voyage I had no commerce with the master or any of his men; but,
pretending I was sick, kept close in my cabin. On the fifth of
December, 1715, we cast anchor in the Downs, about nine in the
morning, and at three in the afternoon I got safe to my house at
Rotherhith. {7}

My wife and family received me with great surprise and joy, because
they concluded me certainly dead; but I must freely confess the
sight of them filled me only with hatred, disgust, and contempt;
and the more, by reflecting on the near alliance I had to them.
For although, since my unfortunate exile from the Houyhnhnm
country, I had compelled myself to tolerate the sight of Yahoos,
and to converse with Don Pedro de Mendez, yet my memory and
imagination were perpetually filled with the virtues and ideas of
those exalted Houyhnhnms. And when I began to consider that, by
copulating with one of the Yahoo species I had become a parent of
more, it struck me with the utmost shame, confusion, and horror.

As soon as I entered the house, my wife took me in her arms, and
kissed me; at which, having not been used to the touch of that
odious animal for so many years, I fell into a swoon for almost an
hour. At the time I am writing, it is five years since my last
return to England. During the first year, I could not endure my
wife or children in my presence; the very smell of them was
intolerable; much less could I suffer them to eat in the same room.
To this hour they dare not presume to touch my bread, or drink out
of the same cup, neither was I ever able to let one of them take me
by the hand. The first money I laid out was to buy two young
stone-horses, which I keep in a good stable; and next to them, the
groom is my greatest favourite, for I feel my spirits revived by
the smell he contracts in the stable. My horses understand me
tolerably well; I converse with them at least four hours every day.
They are strangers to bridle or saddle; they live in great amity
with me and friendship to each other.


[The author's veracity. His design in publishing this work. His
censure of those travellers who swerve from the truth. The author
clears himself from any sinister ends in writing. An objection
answered. The method of planting colonies. His native country
commended. The right of the crown to those countries described by
the author is justified. The difficulty of conquering them. The
author takes his last leave of the reader; proposes his manner of
living for the future; gives good advice, and concludes.]

Thus, gentle reader, I have given thee a faithful history of my
travels for sixteen years and above seven months: wherein I have
not been so studious of ornament as of truth. I could, perhaps,
like others, have astonished thee with strange improbable tales;
but I rather chose to relate plain matter of fact, in the simplest
manner and style; because my principal design was to inform, and
not to amuse thee.

It is easy for us who travel into remote countries, which are
seldom visited by Englishmen or other Europeans, to form
descriptions of wonderful animals both at sea and land. Whereas a
traveller's chief aim should be to make men wiser and better, and
to improve their minds by the bad, as well as good, example of what
they deliver concerning foreign places.

I could heartily wish a law was enacted, that every traveller,
before he were permitted to publish his voyages, should be obliged
to make oath before the Lord High Chancellor, that all he intended
to print was absolutely true to the best of his knowledge; for then
the world would no longer be deceived, as it usually is, while some
writers, to make their works pass the better upon the public,
impose the grossest falsities on the unwary reader. I have perused
several books of travels with great delight in my younger days; but
having since gone over most parts of the globe, and been able to
contradict many fabulous accounts from my own observation, it has
given me a great disgust against this part of reading, and some
indignation to see the credulity of mankind so impudently abused.
Therefore, since my acquaintance were pleased to think my poor
endeavours might not be unacceptable to my country, I imposed on
myself, as a maxim never to be swerved from, that I would strictly
adhere to truth; neither indeed can I be ever under the least
temptation to vary from it, while I retain in my mind the lectures
and example of my noble master and the other illustrious Houyhnhnms
of whom I had so long the honour to be an humble hearer.

- Nec si miserum Fortuna Sinonem
Finxit, vanum etiam, mendacemque improba finget.

I know very well, how little reputation is to be got by writings
which require neither genius nor learning, nor indeed any other
talent, except a good memory, or an exact journal. I know
likewise, that writers of travels, like dictionary-makers, are sunk
into oblivion by the weight and bulk of those who come last, and
therefore lie uppermost. And it is highly probable, that such
travellers, who shall hereafter visit the countries described in
this work of mine, may, by detecting my errors (if there be any),
and adding many new discoveries of their own, justle me out of
vogue, and stand in my place, making the world forget that ever I
was an author. This indeed would be too great a mortification, if
I wrote for fame: but as my sole intention was the public good, I
cannot be altogether disappointed. For who can read of the virtues
I have mentioned in the glorious Houyhnhnms, without being ashamed
of his own vices, when he considers himself as the reasoning,
governing animal of his country? I shall say nothing of those
remote nations where Yahoos preside; among which the least
corrupted are the Brobdingnagians; whose wise maxims in morality
and government it would be our happiness to observe. But I forbear
descanting further, and rather leave the judicious reader to his
own remarks and application.

I am not a little pleased that this work of mine can possibly meet
with no censurers: for what objections can be made against a
writer, who relates only plain facts, that happened in such distant
countries, where we have not the least interest, with respect
either to trade or negotiations? I have carefully avoided every
fault with which common writers of travels are often too justly
charged. Besides, I meddle not the least with any party, but write
without passion, prejudice, or ill-will against any man, or number
of men, whatsoever. I write for the noblest end, to inform and
instruct mankind; over whom I may, without breach of modesty,
pretend to some superiority, from the advantages I received by
conversing so long among the most accomplished Houyhnhnms. I write
without any view to profit or praise. I never suffer a word to
pass that may look like reflection, or possibly give the least
offence, even to those who are most ready to take it. So that I
hope I may with justice pronounce myself an author perfectly
blameless; against whom the tribes of Answerers, Considerers,
Observers, Reflectors, Detectors, Remarkers, will never be able to
find matter for exercising their talents.

I confess, it was whispered to me, "that I was bound in duty, as a
subject of England, to have given in a memorial to a secretary of
state at my first coming over; because, whatever lands are
discovered by a subject belong to the crown." But I doubt whether
our conquests in the countries I treat of would be as easy as those
of Ferdinando Cortez over the naked Americans. The Lilliputians, I
think, are hardly worth the charge of a fleet and army to reduce
them; and I question whether it might be prudent or safe to attempt
the Brobdingnagians; or whether an English army would be much at
their ease with the Flying Island over their heads. The Houyhnhnms
indeed appear not to be so well prepared for war, a science to
which they are perfect strangers, and especially against missive
weapons. However, supposing myself to be a minister of state, I
could never give my advice for invading them. Their prudence,
unanimity, unacquaintedness with fear, and their love of their
country, would amply supply all defects in the military art.
Imagine twenty thousand of them breaking into the midst of an
European army, confounding the ranks, overturning the carriages,
battering the warriors' faces into mummy by terrible yerks from
their hinder hoofs; for they would well deserve the character given
to Augustus, Recalcitrat undique tutus. But, instead of proposals
for conquering that magnanimous nation, I rather wish they were in
a capacity, or disposition, to send a sufficient number of their
inhabitants for civilizing Europe, by teaching us the first
principles of honour, justice, truth, temperance, public spirit,
fortitude, chastity, friendship, benevolence, and fidelity. The
names of all which virtues are still retained among us in most
languages, and are to be met with in modern, as well as ancient
authors; which I am able to assert from my own small reading.

But I had another reason, which made me less forward to enlarge his
majesty's dominions by my discoveries. To say the truth, I had
conceived a few scruples with relation to the distributive justice
of princes upon those occasions. For instance, a crew of pirates
are driven by a storm they know not whither; at length a boy
discovers land from the topmast; they go on shore to rob and
plunder, they see a harmless people, are entertained with kindness;
they give the country a new name; they take formal possession of it
for their king; they set up a rotten plank, or a stone, for a
memorial; they murder two or three dozen of the natives, bring away
a couple more, by force, for a sample; return home, and get their
pardon. Here commences a new dominion acquired with a title by
divine right. Ships are sent with the first opportunity; the
natives driven out or destroyed; their princes tortured to discover
their gold; a free license given to all acts of inhumanity and
lust, the earth reeking with the blood of its inhabitants: and
this execrable crew of butchers, employed in so pious an
expedition, is a modern colony, sent to convert and civilize an
idolatrous and barbarous people!

But this description, I confess, does by no means affect the
British nation, who may be an example to the whole world for their
wisdom, care, and justice in planting colonies; their liberal
endowments for the advancement of religion and learning; their
choice of devout and able pastors to propagate Christianity; their
caution in stocking their provinces with people of sober lives and
conversations from this the mother kingdom; their strict regard to
the distribution of justice, in supplying the civil administration
through all their colonies with officers of the greatest abilities,
utter strangers to corruption; and, to crown all, by sending the
most vigilant and virtuous governors, who have no other views than
the happiness of the people over whom they preside, and the honour
of the king their master.

But as those countries which I have described do not appear to have
any desire of being conquered and enslaved, murdered or driven out
by colonies, nor abound either in gold, silver, sugar, or tobacco,
I did humbly conceive, they were by no means proper objects of our
zeal, our valour, or our interest. However, if those whom it more
concerns think fit to be of another opinion, I am ready to depose,
when I shall be lawfully called, that no European did ever visit
those countries before me. I mean, if the inhabitants ought to be
believed, unless a dispute may arise concerning the two Yahoos,
said to have been seen many years ago upon a mountain in

But, as to the formality of taking possession in my sovereign's
name, it never came once into my thoughts; and if it had, yet, as
my affairs then stood, I should perhaps, in point of prudence and
self-preservation, have put it off to a better opportunity.

Having thus answered the only objection that can ever be raised
against me as a traveller, I here take a final leave of all my
courteous readers, and return to enjoy my own speculations in my
little garden at Redriff; to apply those excellent lessons of

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