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Gulliver's Travels, a novel by Jonathan Swift


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[The emperor of Lilliput, attended by several of the nobility,
comes to see the author in his confinement. The emperor's person
and habit described. Learned men appointed to teach the author
their language. He gains favour by his mild disposition. His
pockets are searched, and his sword and pistols taken from him.]

When I found myself on my feet, I looked about me, and must confess
I never beheld a more entertaining prospect. The country around
appeared like a continued garden, and the enclosed fields, which
were generally forty feet square, resembled so many beds of
flowers. These fields were intermingled with woods of half a
stang, {1} and the tallest trees, as I could judge, appeared to be
seven feet high. I viewed the town on my left hand, which looked
like the painted scene of a city in a theatre.

I had been for some hours extremely pressed by the necessities of
nature; which was no wonder, it being almost two days since I had
last disburdened myself. I was under great difficulties between
urgency and shame. The best expedient I could think of, was to
creep into my house, which I accordingly did; and shutting the gate
after me, I went as far as the length of my chain would suffer, and
discharged my body of that uneasy load. But this was the only time
I was ever guilty of so uncleanly an action; for which I cannot but
hope the candid reader will give some allowance, after he has
maturely and impartially considered my case, and the distress I was
in. From this time my constant practice was, as soon as I rose, to
perform that business in open air, at the full extent of my chain;
and due care was taken every morning before company came, that the
offensive matter should be carried off in wheel-barrows, by two
servants appointed for that purpose. I would not have dwelt so
long upon a circumstance that, perhaps, at first sight, may appear
not very momentous, if I had not thought it necessary to justify my
character, in point of cleanliness, to the world; which, I am told,
some of my maligners have been pleased, upon this and other
occasions, to call in question.

When this adventure was at an end, I came back out of my house,
having occasion for fresh air. The emperor was already descended
from the tower, and advancing on horseback towards me, which had
like to have cost him dear; for the beast, though very well
trained, yet wholly unused to such a sight, which appeared as if a
mountain moved before him, reared up on its hinder feet: but that
prince, who is an excellent horseman, kept his seat, till his
attendants ran in, and held the bridle, while his majesty had time
to dismount. When he alighted, he surveyed me round with great
admiration; but kept beyond the length of my chain. He ordered his
cooks and butlers, who were already prepared, to give me victuals
and drink, which they pushed forward in a sort of vehicles upon
wheels, till I could reach them. I took these vehicles and soon
emptied them all; twenty of them were filled with meat, and ten
with liquor; each of the former afforded me two or three good
mouthfuls; and I emptied the liquor of ten vessels, which was
contained in earthen vials, into one vehicle, drinking it off at a
draught; and so I did with the rest. The empress, and young
princes of the blood of both sexes, attended by many ladies, sat at
some distance in their chairs; but upon the accident that happened
to the emperor's horse, they alighted, and came near his person,
which I am now going to describe. He is taller by almost the
breadth of my nail, than any of his court; which alone is enough to
strike an awe into the beholders. His features are strong and
masculine, with an Austrian lip and arched nose, his complexion
olive, his countenance erect, his body and limbs well proportioned,
all his motions graceful, and his deportment majestic. He was then
past his prime, being twenty-eight years and three quarters old, of
which he had reigned about seven in great felicity, and generally
victorious. For the better convenience of beholding him, I lay on
my side, so that my face was parallel to his, and he stood but
three yards off: however, I have had him since many times in my
hand, and therefore cannot be deceived in the description. His
dress was very plain and simple, and the fashion of it between the
Asiatic and the European; but he had on his head a light helmet of
gold, adorned with jewels, and a plume on the crest. He held his
sword drawn in his hand to defend himself, if I should happen to
break loose; it was almost three inches long; the hilt and scabbard
were gold enriched with diamonds. His voice was shrill, but very
clear and articulate; and I could distinctly hear it when I stood
up. The ladies and courtiers were all most magnificently clad; so
that the spot they stood upon seemed to resemble a petticoat spread
upon the ground, embroidered with figures of gold and silver. His
imperial majesty spoke often to me, and I returned answers: but
neither of us could understand a syllable. There were several of
his priests and lawyers present (as I conjectured by their habits),
who were commanded to address themselves to me; and I spoke to them
in as many languages as I had the least smattering of, which were
High and Low Dutch, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and Lingua
Franca, but all to no purpose. After about two hours the court
retired, and I was left with a strong guard, to prevent the
impertinence, and probably the malice of the rabble, who were very
impatient to crowd about me as near as they durst; and some of them
had the impudence to shoot their arrows at me, as I sat on the
ground by the door of my house, whereof one very narrowly missed my
left eye. But the colonel ordered six of the ringleaders to be
seized, and thought no punishment so proper as to deliver them
bound into my hands; which some of his soldiers accordingly did,
pushing them forward with the butt-ends of their pikes into my
reach. I took them all in my right hand, put five of them into my
coat-pocket; and as to the sixth, I made a countenance as if I
would eat him alive. The poor man squalled terribly, and the
colonel and his officers were in much pain, especially when they
saw me take out my penknife: but I soon put them out of fear; for,
looking mildly, and immediately cutting the strings he was bound
with, I set him gently on the ground, and away he ran. I treated
the rest in the same manner, taking them one by one out of my
pocket; and I observed both the soldiers and people were highly
delighted at this mark of my clemency, which was represented very
much to my advantage at court.

Towards night I got with some difficulty into my house, where I lay
on the ground, and continued to do so about a fortnight; during
which time, the emperor gave orders to have a bed prepared for me.
Six hundred beds of the common measure were brought in carriages,
and worked up in my house; a hundred and fifty of their beds, sewn
together, made up the breadth and length; and these were four
double: which, however, kept me but very indifferently from the
hardness of the floor, that was of smooth stone. By the same
computation, they provided me with sheets, blankets, and coverlets,
tolerable enough for one who had been so long inured to hardships.

As the news of my arrival spread through the kingdom, it brought
prodigious numbers of rich, idle, and curious people to see me; so
that the villages were almost emptied; and great neglect of tillage
and household affairs must have ensued, if his imperial majesty had
not provided, by several proclamations and orders of state, against
this inconveniency. He directed that those who had already beheld
me should return home, and not presume to come within fifty yards
of my house, without license from the court; whereby the
secretaries of state got considerable fees.

In the mean time the emperor held frequent councils, to debate what
course should be taken with me; and I was afterwards assured by a
particular friend, a person of great quality, who was as much in
the secret as any, that the court was under many difficulties
concerning me. They apprehended my breaking loose; that my diet
would be very expensive, and might cause a famine. Sometimes they
determined to starve me; or at least to shoot me in the face and
hands with poisoned arrows, which would soon despatch me; but again
they considered, that the stench of so large a carcass might
produce a plague in the metropolis, and probably spread through the
whole kingdom. In the midst of these consultations, several
officers of the army went to the door of the great council-chamber,
and two of them being admitted, gave an account of my behaviour to
the six criminals above-mentioned; which made so favourable an
impression in the breast of his majesty and the whole board, in my
behalf, that an imperial commission was issued out, obliging all
the villages, nine hundred yards round the city, to deliver in
every morning six beeves, forty sheep, and other victuals for my
sustenance; together with a proportionable quantity of bread, and
wine, and other liquors; for the due payment of which, his majesty
gave assignments upon his treasury:- for this prince lives chiefly
upon his own demesnes; seldom, except upon great occasions, raising
any subsidies upon his subjects, who are bound to attend him in his
wars at their own expense. An establishment was also made of six
hundred persons to be my domestics, who had board-wages allowed for
their maintenance, and tents built for them very conveniently on
each side of my door. It was likewise ordered, that three hundred
tailors should make me a suit of clothes, after the fashion of the
country; that six of his majesty's greatest scholars should be
employed to instruct me in their language; and lastly, that the
emperor's horses, and those of the nobility and troops of guards,
should be frequently exercised in my sight, to accustom themselves
to me. All these orders were duly put in execution; and in about
three weeks I made a great progress in learning their language;
during which time the emperor frequently honoured me with his
visits, and was pleased to assist my masters in teaching me. We
began already to converse together in some sort; and the first
words I learnt, were to express my desire "that he would please
give me my liberty;" which I every day repeated on my knees. His
answer, as I could comprehend it, was, "that this must be a work of
time, not to be thought on without the advice of his council, and
that first I must lumos kelmin pesso desmar lon emposo;" that is,
swear a peace with him and his kingdom. However, that I should be
used with all kindness. And he advised me to "acquire, by my
patience and discreet behaviour, the good opinion of himself and
his subjects." He desired "I would not take it ill, if he gave
orders to certain proper officers to search me; for probably I
might carry about me several weapons, which must needs be dangerous
things, if they answered the bulk of so prodigious a person." I
said, "His majesty should be satisfied; for I was ready to strip
myself, and turn up my pockets before him." This I delivered part
in words, and part in signs. He replied, "that, by the laws of the
kingdom, I must be searched by two of his officers; that he knew
this could not be done without my consent and assistance; and he
had so good an opinion of my generosity and justice, as to trust
their persons in my hands; that whatever they took from me, should
be returned when I left the country, or paid for at the rate which
I would set upon them." I took up the two officers in my hands,
put them first into my coat-pockets, and then into every other
pocket about me, except my two fobs, and another secret pocket,
which I had no mind should be searched, wherein I had some little
necessaries that were of no consequence to any but myself. In one
of my fobs there was a silver watch, and in the other a small
quantity of gold in a purse. These gentlemen, having pen, ink, and
paper, about them, made an exact inventory of every thing they saw;
and when they had done, desired I would set them down, that they
might deliver it to the emperor. This inventory I afterwards
translated into English, and is, word for word, as follows:

"Imprimis: In the right coat-pocket of the great man-mountain"
(for so I interpret the words quinbus flestrin,) "after the
strictest search, we found only one great piece of coarse-cloth,
large enough to be a foot-cloth for your majesty's chief room of
state. In the left pocket we saw a huge silver chest, with a cover
of the same metal, which we, the searchers, were not able to lift.
We desired it should be opened, and one of us stepping into it,
found himself up to the mid leg in a sort of dust, some part
whereof flying up to our faces set us both a sneezing for several
times together. In his right waistcoat-pocket we found a
prodigious bundle of white thin substances, folded one over
another, about the bigness of three men, tied with a strong cable,
and marked with black figures; which we humbly conceive to be
writings, every letter almost half as large as the palm of our
hands. In the left there was a sort of engine, from the back of
which were extended twenty long poles, resembling the pallisados
before your majesty's court: wherewith we conjecture the man-
mountain combs his head; for we did not always trouble him with
questions, because we found it a great difficulty to make him
understand us. In the large pocket, on the right side of his
middle cover" (so I translate the word ranfulo, by which they meant
my breeches,) "we saw a hollow pillar of iron, about the length of
a man, fastened to a strong piece of timber larger than the pillar;
and upon one side of the pillar, were huge pieces of iron sticking
out, cut into strange figures, which we know not what to make of.
In the left pocket, another engine of the same kind. In the
smaller pocket on the right side, were several round flat pieces of
white and red metal, of different bulk; some of the white, which
seemed to be silver, were so large and heavy, that my comrade and I
could hardly lift them. In the left pocket were two black pillars
irregularly shaped: we could not, without difficulty, reach the
top of them, as we stood at the bottom of his pocket. One of them
was covered, and seemed all of a piece: but at the upper end of
the other there appeared a white round substance, about twice the
bigness of our heads. Within each of these was enclosed a
prodigious plate of steel; which, by our orders, we obliged him to
show us, because we apprehended they might be dangerous engines.
He took them out of their cases, and told us, that in his own
country his practice was to shave his beard with one of these, and
cut his meat with the other. There were two pockets which we could
not enter: these he called his fobs; they were two large slits cut
into the top of his middle cover, but squeezed close by the
pressure of his belly. Out of the right fob hung a great silver
chain, with a wonderful kind of engine at the bottom. We directed
him to draw out whatever was at the end of that chain; which
appeared to be a globe, half silver, and half of some transparent
metal; for, on the transparent side, we saw certain strange figures
circularly drawn, and thought we could touch them, till we found
our fingers stopped by the lucid substance. He put this engine
into our ears, which made an incessant noise, like that of a water-
mill: and we conjecture it is either some unknown animal, or the
god that he worships; but we are more inclined to the latter
opinion, because he assured us, (if we understood him right, for he
expressed himself very imperfectly) that he seldom did any thing
without consulting it. He called it his oracle, and said, it
pointed out the time for every action of his life. From the left
fob he took out a net almost large enough for a fisherman, but
contrived to open and shut like a purse, and served him for the
same use: we found therein several massy pieces of yellow metal,
which, if they be real gold, must be of immense value.

"Having thus, in obedience to your majesty's commands, diligently
searched all his pockets, we observed a girdle about his waist made
of the hide of some prodigious animal, from which, on the left
side, hung a sword of the length of five men; and on the right, a
bag or pouch divided into two cells, each cell capable of holding
three of your majesty's subjects. In one of these cells were
several globes, or balls, of a most ponderous metal, about the
bigness of our heads, and requiring a strong hand to lift them:
the other cell contained a heap of certain black grains, but of no
great bulk or weight, for we could hold above fifty of them in the
palms of our hands.

"This is an exact inventory of what we found about the body of the
man-mountain, who used us with great civility, and due respect to
your majesty's commission. Signed and sealed on the fourth day of
the eighty-ninth moon of your majesty's auspicious reign.


When this inventory was read over to the emperor, he directed me,
although in very gentle terms, to deliver up the several
particulars. He first called for my scimitar, which I took out,
scabbard and all. In the mean time he ordered three thousand of
his choicest troops (who then attended him) to surround me at a
distance, with their bows and arrows just ready to discharge; but I
did not observe it, for mine eyes were wholly fixed upon his
majesty. He then desired me to draw my scimitar, which, although
it had got some rust by the sea water, was, in most parts,
exceeding bright. I did so, and immediately all the troops gave a
shout between terror and surprise; for the sun shone clear, and the
reflection dazzled their eyes, as I waved the scimitar to and fro
in my hand. His majesty, who is a most magnanimous prince, was
less daunted than I could expect: he ordered me to return it into
the scabbard, and cast it on the ground as gently as I could, about
six feet from the end of my chain. The next thing he demanded was
one of the hollow iron pillars; by which he meant my pocket
pistols. I drew it out, and at his desire, as well as I could,
expressed to him the use of it; and charging it only with powder,
which, by the closeness of my pouch, happened to escape wetting in
the sea (an inconvenience against which all prudent mariners take
special care to provide,) I first cautioned the emperor not to be
afraid, and then I let it off in the air. The astonishment here
was much greater than at the sight of my scimitar. Hundreds fell
down as if they had been struck dead; and even the emperor,
although he stood his ground, could not recover himself for some
time. I delivered up both my pistols in the same manner as I had
done my scimitar, and then my pouch of powder and bullets; begging
him that the former might be kept from fire, for it would kindle
with the smallest spark, and blow up his imperial palace into the
air. I likewise delivered up my watch, which the emperor was very
curious to see, and commanded two of his tallest yeomen of the
guards to bear it on a pole upon their shoulders, as draymen in
England do a barrel of ale. He was amazed at the continual noise
it made, and the motion of the minute-hand, which he could easily
discern; for their sight is much more acute than ours: he asked
the opinions of his learned men about it, which were various and
remote, as the reader may well imagine without my repeating;
although indeed I could not very perfectly understand them. I then
gave up my silver and copper money, my purse, with nine large
pieces of gold, and some smaller ones; my knife and razor, my comb
and silver snuff-box, my handkerchief and journal-book. My
scimitar, pistols, and pouch, were conveyed in carriages to his
majesty's stores; but the rest of my goods were returned me.

I had as I before observed, one private pocket, which escaped their
search, wherein there was a pair of spectacles (which I sometimes
use for the weakness of mine eyes,) a pocket perspective, and some
other little conveniences; which, being of no consequence to the
emperor, I did not think myself bound in honour to discover, and I
apprehended they might be lost or spoiled if I ventured them out of
my possession.

Foot note:
{1} A stang is a pole or perch; sixteen feet and a half.

Content of PART I - A VOYAGE TO LILLIPUT CHAPTER II [Jonathan Swift's novel: Gulliver's Travels] _



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