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Gulliver's Travels
by Jonathan Swift

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[Mildendo, the metropolis of Lilliput, described, together with
the emperor's palace. A conversation between the author and a
principal secretary, concerning the affairs of that empire. The
author's offers to serve the emperor in his wars.]

The first request I made, after I had obtained my liberty, was,
that I might have license to see Mildendo, the metropolis; which
the emperor easily granted me, but with a special charge to do no
hurt either to the inhabitants or their houses. The people had
notice, by proclamation, of my design to visit the town. The
wall which encompassed it is two feet and a half high, and at
least eleven inches broad, so that a coach and horses may be
driven very safely round it; and it is flanked with strong towers
at ten feet distance. I stepped over the great western gate, and
passed very gently, and sidling, through the two principal
streets, only in my short waistcoat, for fear of damaging the
roofs and eaves of the houses with the skirts of my coat. I
walked with the utmost circumspection, to avoid treading on any
stragglers who might remain in the streets, although the orders
were very strict, that all people should keep in their houses, at
their own peril. The garret windows and tops of houses were so
crowded with spectators, that I thought in all my travels I had
not seen a more populous place. The city is an exact square,
each side of the wall being five hundred feet long. The two
great streets, which run across and divide it into four quarters,
are five feet wide. The lanes and alleys, which I could not
enter, but only view them as I passed, are from twelve to
eighteen inches. The town is capable of holding five hundred
thousand souls: the houses are from three to five stories: the
shops and markets well provided.

The emperor's palace is in the centre of the city where the two
great streets meet. It is enclosed by a wall of two feet high,
and twenty feet distance from the buildings. I had his majesty's
permission to step over this wall; and, the space being so wide
between that and the palace, I could easily view it on every
side. The outward court is a square of forty feet, and includes
two other courts: in the inmost are the royal apartments, which
I was very desirous to see, but found it extremely difficult; for
the great gates, from one square into another, were but eighteen
inches high, and seven inches wide. Now the buildings of the
outer court were at least five feet high, and it was impossible
for me to stride over them without infinite damage to the pile,
though the walls were strongly built of hewn stone, and four
inches thick. At the same time the emperor had a great desire
that I should see the magnificence of his palace; but this I was
not able to do till three days after, which I spent in cutting
down with my knife some of the largest trees in the royal park,
about a hundred yards distant from the city. Of these trees I
made two stools, each about three feet high, and strong enough to
bear my weight. The people having received notice a second time,
I went again through the city to the palace with my two stools in
my hands. When I came to the side of the outer court, I stood
upon one stool, and took the other in my hand; this I lifted over
the roof, and gently set it down on the space between the first
and second court, which was eight feet wide. I then stept over
the building very conveniently from one stool to the other, and
drew up the first after me with a hooked stick. By this
contrivance I got into the inmost court; and, lying down upon my
side, I applied my face to the windows of the middle stories,
which were left open on purpose, and discovered the most splendid
apartments that can be imagined. There I saw the empress and the
young princes, in their several lodgings, with their chief
attendants about them. Her imperial majesty was pleased to smile
very graciously upon me, and gave me out of the window her hand
to kiss.

But I shall not anticipate the reader with further descriptions
of this kind, because I reserve them for a greater work, which is
now almost ready for the press; containing a general description
of this empire, from its first erection, through along series of
princes; with a particular account of their wars and politics,
laws, learning, and religion; their plants and animals; their
peculiar manners and customs, with other matters very curious and
useful; my chief design at present being only to relate such
events and transactions as happened to the public or to myself
during a residence of about nine months in that empire.

One morning, about a fortnight after I had obtained my liberty,
Reldresal, principal secretary (as they style him) for private
affairs, came to my house attended only by one servant. He
ordered his coach to wait at a distance, and desired I would give
him an hours audience; which I readily consented to, on account
of his quality and personal merits, as well as of the many good
offices he had done me during my solicitations at court. I
offered to lie down that he might the more conveniently reach my
ear, but he chose rather to let me hold him in my hand during our
conversation. He began with compliments on my liberty; said "he
might pretend to some merit in it;" but, however, added, "that if
it had not been for the present situation of things at court,
perhaps I might not have obtained it so soon. For," said he, "as
flourishing a condition as we may appear to be in to foreigners,
we labour under two mighty evils: a violent faction at home, and
the danger of an invasion, by a most potent enemy, from abroad.
As to the first, you are to understand, that for about seventy
moons past there have been two struggling parties in this empire,
under the names of TRAMECKSAN and SLAMECKSAN, from the high
and low heels of their shoes, by which they distinguish themselves.
It is alleged, indeed, that the high heels are most agreeable to
our ancient constitution; but, however this be, his majesty has
determined to make use only of low heels in the administration of
the government, and all offices in the gift of the crown, as you
cannot but observe; and particularly that his majesty's imperial
heels are lower at least by a DRURR than any of his court (DRURR
is a measure about the fourteenth part of an inch). The
animosities between these two parties run so high, that they will
neither eat, nor drink, nor talk with each other. We compute the
TRAMECKSAN, or high heels, to exceed us in number; but the power
is wholly on our side. We apprehend his imperial highness, the
heir to the crown, to have some tendency towards the high heels;
at least we can plainly discover that one of his heels is higher
than the other, which gives him a hobble in his gait. Now, in
the midst of these intestine disquiets, we are threatened with an
invasion from the island of Blefuscu, which is the other great
empire of the universe, almost as large and powerful as this of
his majesty. For as to what we have heard you affirm, that there
are other kingdoms and states in the world inhabited by human
creatures as large as yourself, our philosophers are in much
doubt, and would rather conjecture that you dropped from the
moon, or one of the stars; because it is certain, that a hundred
mortals of your bulk would in a short time destroy all the fruits
and cattle of his majesty's dominions: besides, our histories of
six thousand moons make no mention of any other regions than the
two great empires of Lilliput and Blefuscu. Which two mighty
powers have, as I was going to tell you, been engaged in a most
obstinate war for six-and-thirty moons past. It began upon the
following occasion. It is allowed on all hands, that the
primitive way of breaking eggs, before we eat them, was upon the
larger end; but his present majesty's grandfather, while he was a
boy, going to eat an egg, and breaking it according to the
ancient practice, happened to cut one of his fingers. Whereupon
the emperor his father published an edict, commanding all his
subjects, upon great penalties, to break the smaller end of their
eggs. The people so highly resented this law, that our histories
tell us, there have been six rebellions raised on that account;
wherein one emperor lost his life, and another his crown. These
civil commotions were constantly fomented by the monarchs of
Blefuscu; and when they were quelled, the exiles always fled for
refuge to that empire. It is computed that eleven thousand
persons have at several times suffered death, rather than submit
to break their eggs at the smaller end. Many hundred large
volumes have been published upon this controversy: but the books
of the Big-endians have been long forbidden, and the whole party
rendered incapable by law of holding employments. During the
course of these troubles, the emperors of Blefusca did frequently
expostulate by their ambassadors, accusing us of making a schism
in religion, by offending against a fundamental doctrine of our
great prophet Lustrog, in the fifty-fourth chapter of the
Blundecral (which is their Alcoran). This, however, is thought
to be a mere strain upon the text; for the words are these:
'that all true believers break their eggs at the convenient end.'

And which is the convenient end, seems, in my humble opinion to
be left to every man's conscience, or at least in the power of
the chief magistrate to determine. Now, the Big-endian exiles
have found so much credit in the emperor of Blefuscu's court, and
so much private assistance and encouragement from their party
here at home, that a bloody war has been carried on between the
two empires for six-and-thirty moons, with various success;
during which time we have lost forty capital ships, and a much a
greater number of smaller vessels, together with thirty thousand
of our best seamen and soldiers; and the damage received by the
enemy is reckoned to be somewhat greater than ours. However,
they have now equipped a numerous fleet, and are just preparing
to make a descent upon us; and his imperial majesty, placing
great confidence in your valour and strength, has commanded me to
lay this account of his affairs before you."

I desired the secretary to present my humble duty to the emperor;
and to let him know, "that I thought it would not become me, who
was a foreigner, to interfere with parties; but I was ready, with
the hazard of my life, to defend his person and state against all



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