TWT logo

Together We Teach
Reading Room

Take time to read.
Reading is the
fountain of wisdom.

| Home | Reading Room Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels
by Jonathan Swift

< BACK    NEXT >




[The author diverts the emperor, and his nobility of both sexes,
in a very uncommon manner. The diversions of the court of
Lilliput described. The author has his liberty granted him upon
certain conditions.]

My gentleness and good behaviour had gained so far on the emperor
and his court, and indeed upon the army and people in general,
that I began to conceive hopes of getting my liberty in a short
time. I took all possible methods to cultivate this favourable
disposition. The natives came, by degrees, to be less
apprehensive of any danger from me. I would sometimes lie down,
and let five or six of them dance on my hand; and at last the
boys and girls would venture to come and play at hide-and-seek in
my hair. I had now made a good progress in understanding and
speaking the language. The emperor had a mind one day to
entertain me with several of the country shows, wherein they
exceed all nations I have known, both for dexterity and
magnificence. I was diverted with none so much as that of the
rope-dancers, performed upon a slender white thread, extended
about two feet, and twelve inches from the ground. Upon which I
shall desire liberty, with the reader's patience, to enlarge a little.

This diversion is only practised by those persons who are
candidates for great employments, and high favour at court. They
are trained in this art from their youth, and are not always of
noble birth, or liberal education. When a great office is
vacant, either by death or disgrace (which often happens,) five
or six of those candidates petition the emperor to entertain his
majesty and the court with a dance on the rope; and whoever jumps
the highest, without falling, succeeds in the office. Very often
the chief ministers themselves are commanded to show their skill,
and to convince the emperor that they have not lost their
faculty. Flimnap, the treasurer, is allowed to cut a caper on the
straight rope, at least an inch higher than any other lord in the
whole empire. I have seen him do the summerset several times
together, upon a trencher fixed on a rope which is no thicker
than a common pack-thread in England. My friend Reldresal,
principal secretary for private affairs, is, in my opinion, if I
am not partial, the second after the treasurer; the rest of the
great officers are much upon a par.

These diversions are often attended with fatal accidents, whereof
great numbers are on record. I myself have seen two or three
candidates break a limb. But the danger is much greater, when
the ministers themselves are commanded to show their dexterity;
for, by contending to excel themselves and their fellows, they
strain so far that there is hardly one of them who has not
received a fall, and some of them two or three. I was assured
that, a year or two before my arrival, Flimnap would infallibly
have broke his neck, if one of the king's cushions, that accidentally
lay on the ground, had not weakened the force of his fall.

There is likewise another diversion, which is only shown before
the emperor and empress, and first minister, upon particular
occasions. The emperor lays on the table three fine silken
threads of six inches long; one is blue, the other red, and the
third green. These threads are proposed as prizes for those
persons whom the emperor has a mind to distinguish by a peculiar
mark of his favour. The ceremony is performed in his majesty's
great chamber of state, where the candidates are to undergo a
trial of dexterity very different from the former, and such as I
have not observed the least resemblance of in any other country
of the new or old world. The emperor holds a stick in his hands,
both ends parallel to the horizon, while the candidates
advancing, one by one, sometimes leap over the stick, sometimes
creep under it, backward and forward, several times, according as
the stick is advanced or depressed. Sometimes the emperor holds
one end of the stick, and his first minister the other; sometimes
the minister has it entirely to himself. Whoever performs his
part with most agility, and holds out the longest in leaping and
creeping, is rewarded with the blue-coloured silk; the red is
given to the next, and the green to the third, which they all
wear girt twice round about the middle; and you see few great
persons about this court who are not adorned with one of these

The horses of the army, and those of the royal stables, having
been daily led before me, were no longer shy, but would come up
to my very feet without starting. The riders would leap them
over my hand, as I held it on the ground; and one of the
emperor's huntsmen, upon a large courser, took my foot, shoe and
all; which was indeed a prodigious leap. I had the good fortune
to divert the emperor one day after a very extraordinary manner.
I desired he would order several sticks of two feet high, and the
thickness of an ordinary cane, to be brought me; whereupon his
majesty commanded the master of his woods to give directions
accordingly; and the next morning six woodmen arrived with as
many carriages, drawn by eight horses to each. I took nine of
these sticks, and fixing them firmly in the ground in a
quadrangular figure, two feet and a half square, I took four
other sticks, and tied them parallel at each corner, about two
feet from the ground; then I fastened my handkerchief to the nine
sticks that stood erect; and extended it on all sides, till it
was tight as the top of a drum; and the four parallel sticks,
rising about five inches higher than the handkerchief, served as
ledges on each side. When I had finished my work, I desired the
emperor to let a troop of his best horses twenty-four in number,
come and exercise upon this plain. His majesty approved of the
proposal, and I took them up, one by one, in my hands, ready
mounted and armed, with the proper officers to exercise them. As
soon as they got into order they divided into two parties,
performed mock skirmishes, discharged blunt arrows, drew their
swords, fled and pursued, attacked and retired, and in short
discovered the best military discipline I ever beheld. The
parallel sticks secured them and their horses from falling over
the stage; and the emperor was so much delighted, that he ordered
this entertainment to be repeated several days, and once was
pleased to be lifted up and give the word of command; and with
great difficulty persuaded even the empress herself to let me
hold her in her close chair within two yards of the stage, when
she was able to take a full view of the whole performance. It
was my good fortune, that no ill accident happened in these
entertainments; only once a fiery horse, that belonged to one of
the captains, pawing with his hoof, struck a hole in my
handkerchief, and his foot slipping, he overthrew his rider and
himself; but I immediately relieved them both, and covering the
hole with one hand, I set down the troop with the other, in the
same manner as I took them up. The horse that fell was strained
in the left shoulder, but the rider got no hurt; and I repaired
my handkerchief as well as I could: however, I would not trust
to the strength of it any more, in such dangerous enterprises.

About two or three days before I was set at liberty, as I was
entertaining the court with this kind of feat, there arrived an
express to inform his majesty, that some of his subjects, riding
near the place where I was first taken up, had seen a great black
substance lying on the around, very oddly shaped, extending its
edges round, as wide as his majesty's bedchamber, and rising up
in the middle as high as a man; that it was no living creature,
as they at first apprehended, for it lay on the grass without
motion; and some of them had walked round it several times; that,
by mounting upon each other's shoulders, they had got to the top,
which was flat and even, and, stamping upon it, they found that
it was hollow within; that they humbly conceived it might be
something belonging to the man-mountain; and if his majesty
pleased, they would undertake to bring it with only five horses.
I presently knew what they meant, and was glad at heart to
receive this intelligence. It seems, upon my first reaching the
shore after our shipwreck, I was in such confusion, that before I
came to the place where I went to sleep, my hat, which I had
fastened with a string to my head while I was rowing, and had
stuck on all the time I was swimming, fell off after I came to
land; the string, as I conjecture, breaking by some accident,
which I never observed, but thought my hat had been lost at sea.
I entreated his imperial majesty to give orders it might be
brought to me as soon as possible, describing to him the use and
the nature of it: and the next day the waggoners arrived with
it, but not in a very good condition; they had bored two holes in
the brim, within an inch and half of the edge, and fastened two
hooks in the holes; these hooks were tied by a long cord to the
harness, and thus my hat was dragged along for above half an
English mile; but, the ground in that country being extremely
smooth and level, it received less damage than I expected.

Two days after this adventure, the emperor, having ordered that
part of his army which quarters in and about his metropolis, to
be in readiness, took a fancy of diverting himself in a very
singular manner. He desired I would stand like a Colossus, with
my legs as far asunder as I conveniently could. He then
commanded his general (who was an old experienced leader, and a
great patron of mine) to draw up the troops in close order, and
march them under me; the foot by twenty-four abreast, and the
horse by sixteen, with drums beating, colours flying, and pikes
advanced. This body consisted of three thousand foot, and a
thousand horse. His majesty gave orders, upon pain of death,
that every soldier in his march should observe the strictest
decency with regard to my person; which however could not prevent
some of the younger officers from turning up their eyes as they
passed under me: and, to confess the truth, my breeches were at
that time in so ill a condition, that they afforded some
opportunities for laughter and admiration.

I had sent so many memorials and petitions for my liberty, that
his majesty at length mentioned the matter, first in the cabinet,
and then in a full council; where it was opposed by none, except
Skyresh Bolgolam, who was pleased, without any provocation, to be
my mortal enemy. But it was carried against him by the whole
board, and confirmed by the emperor. That minister was GALBET,
or admiral of the realm, very much in his master's confidence,
and a person well versed in affairs, but of a morose and sour
complexion. However, he was at length persuaded to comply; but
prevailed that the articles and conditions upon which I should be
set free, and to which I must swear, should be drawn up by
himself. These articles were brought to me by Skyresh Bolgolam
in person attended by two under-secretaries, and several persons
of distinction. After they were read, I was demanded to swear to
the performance of them; first in the manner of my own country,
and afterwards in the method prescribed by their laws; which was,
to hold my right foot in my left hand, and to place the middle
finger of my right hand on the crown of my head, and my thumb on
the tip of my right ear. But because the reader may be curious
to have some idea of the style and manner of expression peculiar
to that people, as well as to know the article upon which I
recovered my liberty, I have made a translation of the whole
instrument, word for word, as near as I was able, which I here
offer to the public.

"Golbasto Momarem Evlame Gurdilo Shefin Mully Ully Gue, most
mighty Emperor of Lilliput, delight and terror of the universe,
whose dominions extend five thousand BLUSTRUGS (about twelve
miles in circumference) to the extremities of the globe; monarch
of all monarchs, taller than the sons of men; whose feet press
down to the centre, and whose head strikes against the sun; at
whose nod the princes of the earth shake their knees; pleasant as
the spring, comfortable as the summer, fruitful as autumn,
dreadful as winter: his most sublime majesty proposes to the
man-mountain, lately arrived at our celestial dominions, the
following articles, which, by a solemn oath, he shall be obliged
to perform:--

"1st, The man-mountain shall not depart from our dominions,
without our license under our great seal.

"2d, He shall not presume to come into our metropolis, without
our express order; at which time, the inhabitants shall have two
hours warning to keep within doors.

"3d, The said man-mountain shall confine his walks to our
principal high roads, and not offer to walk, or lie down, in a
meadow or field of corn.

"4th, As he walks the said roads, he shall take the utmost care
not to trample upon the bodies of any of our loving subjects,
their horses, or carriages, nor take any of our subjects into his
hands without their own consent.

"5th, If an express requires extraordinary despatch, the
man-mountain shall be obliged to carry, in his pocket, the
messenger and horse a six days journey, once in every moon, and
return the said messenger back (if so required) safe to our
imperial presence.

"6th, He shall be our ally against our enemies in the island of
Blefuscu, and do his utmost to destroy their fleet, which is now
preparing to invade us.

"7th, That the said man-mountain shall, at his times of leisure,
be aiding and assisting to our workmen, in helping to raise
certain great stones, towards covering the wall of the principal
park, and other our royal buildings.

"8th, That the said man-mountain shall, in two moons' time,
deliver in an exact survey of the circumference of our dominions,
by a computation of his own paces round the coast.

"Lastly, That, upon his solemn oath to observe all the above
articles, the said man-mountain shall have a daily allowance of
meat and drink sufficient for the support of 1724 of our
subjects, with free access to our royal person, and other marks
of our favour. Given at our palace at Belfaborac, the twelfth
day of the ninety-first moon of our reign."

I swore and subscribed to these articles with great cheerfulness
and content, although some of them were not so honourable as I
could have wished; which proceeded wholly from the malice of
Skyresh Bolgolam, the high-admiral: whereupon my chains were
immediately unlocked, and I was at full liberty. The emperor
himself, in person, did me the honour to be by at the whole
ceremony. I made my acknowledgements by prostrating myself at
his majesty's feet: but he commanded me to rise; and after many
gracious expressions, which, to avoid the censure of vanity, I
shall not repeat, he added, "that he hoped I should prove a
useful servant, and well deserve all the favours he had already
conferred upon me, or might do for the future."

The reader may please to observe, that, in the last article of
the recovery of my liberty, the emperor stipulates to allow me a
quantity of meat and drink sufficient for the support of 1724
Lilliputians. Some time after, asking a friend at court how they
came to fix on that determinate number, he told me that his
majesty's mathematicians, having taken the height of my body by
the help of a quadrant, and finding it to exceed theirs in the
proportion of twelve to one, they concluded from the similarity
of their bodies, that mine must contain at least 1724 of theirs,
and consequently would require as much food as was necessary to
support that number of Lilliputians. By which the reader may
conceive an idea of the ingenuity of that people, as well as the
prudent and exact economy of so great a prince.



Top of Page

< BACK    NEXT >

| Home | Reading Room Gulliver's Travels




Why not spread the word about Together We Teach?
Simply copy & paste our home page link below into your emails... 

Want the Together We Teach link to place on your website?
Copy & paste either home page link on your webpage...
Together We Teach 





Use these free website tools below for a more powerful experience at Together We Teach!

****Google™ search****

For a more specific search, try using quotation marks around phrases (ex. "You are what you read")


*** Google Translate™ translation service ***

 Translate text:


  Translate a web page:

****What's the Definition?****
(Simply insert the word you want to lookup)

 Search:   for   

S D Glass Enterprises

Privacy Policy

Warner Robins, GA, USA