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| Home | Reading Room Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels
by Jonathan Swift

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[The author, being informed of a design to accuse him of
high-treason, makes his escape to Blefuscu. His reception

Before I proceed to give an account of my leaving this kingdom,
it may be proper to inform the reader of a private intrigue which
had been for two months forming against me.

I had been hitherto, all my life, a stranger to courts, for which
I was unqualified by the meanness of my condition. I had indeed
heard and read enough of the dispositions of great princes and
ministers, but never expected to have found such terrible effects
of them, in so remote a country, governed, as I thought, by very
different maxims from those in Europe.

When I was just preparing to pay my attendance on the emperor of
Blefuscu, a considerable person at court (to whom I had been very
serviceable, at a time when he lay under the highest displeasure
of his imperial majesty) came to my house very privately at
night, in a close chair, and, without sending his name, desired
admittance. The chairmen were dismissed; I put the chair, with
his lordship in it, into my coat-pocket: and, giving orders to a
trusty servant, to say I was indisposed and gone to sleep, I
fastened the door of my house, placed the chair on the table,
according to my usual custom, and sat down by it. After the
common salutations were over, observing his lordship's
countenance full of concern, and inquiring into the reason, he
desired "I would hear him with patience, in a matter that highly
concerned my honour and my life." His speech was to the following
effect, for I took notes of it as soon as he left me:-

"You are to know," said he, "that several committees of council
have been lately called, in the most private manner, on your
account; and it is but two days since his majesty came to a full

"You are very sensible that Skyresh Bolgolam" (GALBET, or
high-admiral) "has been your mortal enemy, almost ever since your
arrival. His original reasons I know not; but his hatred is
increased since your great success against Blefuscu, by which his
glory as admiral is much obscured. This lord, in conjunction
with Flimnap the high-treasurer, whose enmity against you is
notorious on account of his lady, Limtoc the general, Lalcon the
chamberlain, and Balmuff the grand justiciary, have prepared
articles of impeachment against you, for treason and other
capital crimes."

This preface made me so impatient, being conscious of my own
merits and innocence, that I was going to interrupt him; when he
entreated me to be silent, and thus proceeded:--

"Out of gratitude for the favours you have done me, I procured
information of the whole proceedings, and a copy of the articles;
wherein I venture my head for your service.

"'Articles of Impeachment against QUINBUS FLESTRIN, (the


"'Whereas, by a statute made in the reign of his imperial majesty
Calin Deffar Plune, it is enacted, that, whoever shall make water
within the precincts of the royal palace, shall be liable to the
pains and penalties of high-treason; notwithstanding, the said
Quinbus Flestrin, in open breach of the said law, under colour of
extinguishing the fire kindled in the apartment of his majesty's
most dear imperial consort, did maliciously, traitorously, and
devilishly, by discharge of his urine, put out the said fire
kindled in the said apartment, lying and being within the
precincts of the said royal palace, against the statute in that
case provided, etc. against the duty, etc.


"'That the said Quinbus Flestrin, having brought the imperial
fleet of Blefuscu into the royal port, and being afterwards
commanded by his imperial majesty to seize all the other ships of
the said empire of Blefuscu, and reduce that empire to a
province, to be governed by a viceroy from hence, and to destroy
and put to death, not only all the Big-endian exiles, but
likewise all the people of that empire who would not immediately
forsake the Big-endian heresy, he, the said Flestrin, like a
false traitor against his most auspicious, serene, imperial
majesty, did petition to be excused from the said service, upon
pretence of unwillingness to force the consciences, or destroy
the liberties and lives of an innocent people.


"'That, whereas certain ambassadors arrived from the Court of
Blefuscu, to sue for peace in his majesty's court, he, the said
Flestrin, did, like a false traitor, aid, abet, comfort, and
divert, the said ambassadors, although he knew them to be
servants to a prince who was lately an open enemy to his imperial
majesty, and in an open war against his said majesty.


"'That the said Quinbus Flestrin, contrary to the duty of a
faithful subject, is now preparing to make a voyage to the court
and empire of Blefuscu, for which he has received only verbal
license from his imperial majesty; and, under colour of the said
license, does falsely and traitorously intend to take the said
voyage, and thereby to aid, comfort, and abet the emperor of
Blefuscu, so lately an enemy, and in open war with his imperial
majesty aforesaid.'

"There are some other articles; but these are the most important,
of which I have read you an abstract.

"In the several debates upon this impeachment, it must be
confessed that his majesty gave many marks of his great lenity;
often urging the services you had done him, and endeavouring to
extenuate your crimes. The treasurer and admiral insisted that
you should be put to the most painful and ignominious death, by
setting fire to your house at night, and the general was to
attend with twenty thousand men, armed with poisoned arrows, to
shoot you on the face and hands. Some of your servants were to
have private orders to strew a poisonous juice on your shirts and
sheets, which would soon make you tear your own flesh, and die in
the utmost torture. The general came into the same opinion; so
that for a long time there was a majority against you; but his
majesty resolving, if possible, to spare your life, at last
brought off the chamberlain.

"Upon this incident, Reldresal, principal secretary for private
affairs, who always approved himself your true friend, was
commanded by the emperor to deliver his opinion, which he
accordingly did; and therein justified the good thoughts you have
of him. He allowed your crimes to be great, but that still there
was room for mercy, the most commendable virtue in a prince, and
for which his majesty was so justly celebrated. He said, the
friendship between you and him was so well known to the world,
that perhaps the most honourable board might think him partial;
however, in obedience to the command he had received, he would
freely offer his sentiments. That if his majesty, in
consideration of your services, and pursuant to his own merciful
disposition, would please to spare your life, and only give
orders to put out both your eyes, he humbly conceived, that by
this expedient justice might in some measure be satisfied, and
all the world would applaud the lenity of the emperor, as well as
the fair and generous proceedings of those who have the honour to
be his counsellors. That the loss of your eyes would be no
impediment to your bodily strength, by which you might still be
useful to his majesty; that blindness is an addition to courage,
by concealing dangers from us; that the fear you had for your
eyes, was the greatest difficulty in bringing over the enemy's
fleet, and it would be sufficient for you to see by the eyes of
the ministers, since the greatest princes do no more.

"This proposal was received with the utmost disapprobation by the
whole board. Bolgolam, the admiral, could not preserve his
temper, but, rising up in fury, said, he wondered how the
secretary durst presume to give his opinion for preserving the
life of a traitor; that the services you had performed were, by
all true reasons of state, the great aggravation of your crimes;
that you, who were able to extinguish the fire by discharge of
urine in her majesty's apartment (which he mentioned with
horror), might, at another time, raise an inundation by the same
means, to drown the whole palace; and the same strength which
enabled you to bring over the enemy's fleet, might serve, upon
the first discontent, to carry it back; that he had good reasons
to think you were a Big-endian in your heart; and, as treason
begins in the heart, before it appears in overt-acts, so he
accused you as a traitor on that account, and therefore insisted
you should be put to death.

"The treasurer was of the same opinion: he showed to what
straits his majesty's revenue was reduced, by the charge of
maintaining you, which would soon grow insupportable; that the
secretary's expedient of putting out your eyes, was so far from
being a remedy against this evil, that it would probably increase
it, as is manifest from the common practice of blinding some kind
of fowls, after which they fed the faster, and grew sooner fat;
that his sacred majesty and the council, who are your judges,
were, in their own consciences, fully convinced of your guilt,
which was a sufficient argument to condemn you to death, without
the formal proofs required by the strict letter of the law.

"But his imperial majesty, fully determined against capital
punishment, was graciously pleased to say, that since the council
thought the loss of your eyes too easy a censure, some other way
may be inflicted hereafter. And your friend the secretary,
humbly desiring to be heard again, in answer to what the
treasurer had objected, concerning the great charge his majesty
was at in maintaining you, said, that his excellency, who had the
sole disposal of the emperor's revenue, might easily provide
against that evil, by gradually lessening your establishment; by
which, for want of sufficient for you would grow weak and faint,
and lose your appetite, and consequently, decay, and consume in a
few months; neither would the stench of your carcass be then so
dangerous, when it should become more than half diminished; and
immediately upon your death five or six thousand of his majesty's
subjects might, in two or three days, cut your flesh from your
bones, take it away by cart-loads, and bury it in distant parts,
to prevent infection, leaving the skeleton as a monument of
admiration to posterity.

"Thus, by the great friendship of the secretary, the whole affair
was compromised. It was strictly enjoined, that the project of
starving you by degrees should be kept a secret; but the sentence
of putting out your eyes was entered on the books; none
dissenting, except Bolgolam the admiral, who, being a creature of
the empress, was perpetually instigated by her majesty to insist
upon your death, she having borne perpetual malice against you,
on account of that infamous and illegal method you took to
extinguish the fire in her apartment.

"In three days your friend the secretary will be directed to come
to your house, and read before you the articles of impeachment;
and then to signify the great lenity and favour of his majesty
and council, whereby you are only condemned to the loss of your
eyes, which his majesty does not question you will gratefully and
humbly submit to; and twenty of his majesty's surgeons will
attend, in order to see the operation well performed, by
discharging very sharp-pointed arrows into the balls of your
eyes, as you lie on the ground.

"I leave to your prudence what measures you will take; and to
avoid suspicion, I must immediately return in as private a manner
as I came."

His lordship did so; and I remained alone, under many doubts and
perplexities of mind.

It was a custom introduced by this prince and his ministry (very
different, as I have been assured, from the practice of former
times,) that after the court had decreed any cruel execution,
either to gratify the monarch's resentment, or the malice of a
favourite, the emperor always made a speech to his whole council,
expressing his great lenity and tenderness, as qualities known
and confessed by all the world. This speech was immediately
published throughout the kingdom; nor did any thing terrify the
people so much as those encomiums on his majesty's mercy; because
it was observed, that the more these praises were enlarged and
insisted on, the more inhuman was the punishment, and the
sufferer more innocent. Yet, as to myself, I must confess,
having never been designed for a courtier, either by my birth or
education, I was so ill a judge of things, that I could not
discover the lenity and favour of this sentence, but conceived it
(perhaps erroneously) rather to be rigorous than gentle. I
sometimes thought of standing my trial, for, although I could not
deny the facts alleged in the several articles, yet I hoped they
would admit of some extenuation. But having in my life perused
many state-trials, which I ever observed to terminate as the
judges thought fit to direct, I durst not rely on so dangerous a
decision, in so critical a juncture, and against such powerful
enemies. Once I was strongly bent upon resistance, for, while I
had liberty the whole strength of that empire could hardly subdue
me, and I might easily with stones pelt the metropolis to pieces;
but I soon rejected that project with horror, by remembering the
oath I had made to the emperor, the favours I received from him,
and the high title of NARDAC he conferred upon me. Neither had I
so soon learned the gratitude of courtiers, to persuade myself,
that his majesty's present seventies acquitted me of all past

At last, I fixed upon a resolution, for which it is probable I
may incur some censure, and not unjustly; for I confess I owe the
preserving of mine eyes, and consequently my liberty, to my own
great rashness and want of experience; because, if I had then
known the nature of princes and ministers, which I have since
observed in many other courts, and their methods of treating
criminals less obnoxious than myself, I should, with great
alacrity and readiness, have submitted to so easy a punishment.
But hurried on by the precipitancy of youth, and having his
imperial majesty's license to pay my attendance upon the emperor
of Blefuscu, I took this opportunity, before the three days were
elapsed, to send a letter to my friend the secretary, signifying
my resolution of setting out that morning for Blefuscu, pursuant
to the leave I had got; and, without waiting for an answer, I
went to that side of the island where our fleet lay. I seized a
large man of war, tied a cable to the prow, and, lifting up the
anchors, I stripped myself, put my clothes (together with my
coverlet, which I carried under my arm) into the vessel, and,
drawing it after me, between wading and swimming arrived at the
royal port of Blefuscu, where the people had long expected me:
they lent me two guides to direct me to the capital city, which
is of the same name. I held them in my hands, till I came within
two hundred yards of the gate, and desired them "to signify my
arrival to one of the secretaries, and let him know, I there
waited his majesty's command." I had an answer in about an hour,
"that his majesty, attended by the royal family, and great
officers of the court, was coming out to receive me." I advanced
a hundred yards. The emperor and his train alighted from their
horses, the empress and ladies from their coaches, and I did not
perceive they were in any fright or concern. I lay on the ground
to kiss his majesty's and the empress's hands. I told his
majesty, "that I was come according to my promise, and with the
license of the emperor my master, to have the honour of seeing so
mighty a monarch, and to offer him any service in my power,
consistent with my duty to my own prince;" not mentioning a word
of my disgrace, because I had hitherto no regular information of
it, and might suppose myself wholly ignorant of any such design;
neither could I reasonably conceive that the emperor would
discover the secret, while I was out of his power; wherein,
however, it soon appeared I was deceived.

I shall not trouble the reader with the particular account of my
reception at this court, which was suitable to the generosity of
so great a prince; nor of the difficulties I was in for want of a
house and bed, being forced to lie on the ground, wrapped up in
my coverlet.



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