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Gulliver's Travels
by Jonathan Swift

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[The author sets out on his third voyage. Is taken by pirates.
The malice of a Dutchman. His arrival at an island. He is
received into Laputa.]

I had not been at home above ten days, when Captain William
Robinson, a Cornish man, commander of the Hopewell, a stout ship
of three hundred tons, came to my house. I had formerly been
surgeon of another ship where he was master, and a fourth part
owner, in a voyage to the Levant. He had always treated me more
like a brother, than an inferior officer; and, hearing of my
arrival, made me a visit, as I apprehended only out of
friendship, for nothing passed more than what is usual after long
absences. But repeating his visits often, expressing his joy to
find I me in good health, asking, "whether I were now settled for
life?" adding, "that he intended a voyage to the East Indies in
two months," at last he plainly invited me, though with some
apologies, to be surgeon of the ship; "that I should have another
surgeon under me, beside our two mates; that my salary should be
double to the usual pay; and that having experienced my knowledge
in sea-affairs to be at least equal to his, he would enter into
any engagement to follow my advice, as much as if I had shared in
the command."

He said so many other obliging things, and I knew him to be so
honest a man, that I could not reject this proposal; the thirst I
had of seeing the world, notwithstanding my past misfortunes,
continuing as violent as ever. The only difficulty that remained,
was to persuade my wife, whose consent however I at last obtained,
by the prospect of advantage she proposed to her children.

We set out the 5th day of August, 1706, and arrived at Fort St.
George the 11th of April, 1707. We staid there three weeks to
refresh our crew, many of whom were sick. From thence we went to
Tonquin, where the captain resolved to continue some time,
because many of the goods he intended to buy were not ready, nor
could he expect to be dispatched in several months. Therefore,
in hopes to defray some of the charges he must be at, he bought a
sloop, loaded it with several sorts of goods, wherewith the
Tonquinese usually trade to the neighbouring islands, and putting
fourteen men on board, whereof three were of the country, he
appointed me master of the sloop, and gave me power to traffic,
while he transacted his affairs at Tonquin.

We had not sailed above three days, when a great storm arising,
we were driven five days to the north-north-east, and then to the
east: after which we had fair weather, but still with a pretty
strong gale from the west. Upon the tenth day we were chased by
two pirates, who soon overtook us; for my sloop was so deep
laden, that she sailed very slow, neither were we in a condition
to defend ourselves.

We were boarded about the same time by both the pirates, who
entered furiously at the head of their men; but finding us all
prostrate upon our faces (for so I gave order), they pinioned us
with strong ropes, and setting guard upon us, went to search the

I observed among them a Dutchman, who seemed to be of some
authority, though he was not commander of either ship. He knew
us by our countenances to be Englishmen, and jabbering to us in
his own language, swore we should be tied back to back and thrown
into the sea. I spoken Dutch tolerably well; I told him who we
were, and begged him, in consideration of our being Christians
and Protestants, of neighbouring countries in strict alliance,
that he would move the captains to take some pity on us. This
inflamed his rage; he repeated his threatenings, and turning to
his companions, spoke with great vehemence in the Japanese
language, as I suppose, often using the word CHRISTIANOS.

The largest of the two pirate ships was commanded by a Japanese
captain, who spoke a little Dutch, but very imperfectly. He came
up to me, and after several questions, which I answered in great
humility, he said, "we should not die." I made the captain a
very low bow, and then, turning to the Dutchman, said, "I was
sorry to find more mercy in a heathen, than in a brother
christian." But I had soon reason to repent those foolish words:

for that malicious reprobate, having often endeavoured in vain to
persuade both the captains that I might be thrown into the sea
(which they would not yield to, after the promise made me that I
should not die), however, prevailed so far, as to have a
punishment inflicted on me, worse, in all human appearance, than
death itself. My men were sent by an equal division into both
the pirate ships, and my sloop new manned. As to myself, it was
determined that I should be set adrift in a small canoe, with
paddles and a sail, and four days' provisions; which last, the
Japanese captain was so kind to double out of his own stores, and
would permit no man to search me. I got down into the canoe,
while the Dutchman, standing upon the deck, loaded me with all
the curses and injurious terms his language could afford.

About an hour before we saw the pirates I had taken an
observation, and found we were in the latitude of 46 N. and
longitude of 183. When I was at some distance from the pirates, I
discovered, by my pocket-glass, several islands to the
south-east. I set up my sail, the wind being fair, with a design
to reach the nearest of those islands, which I made a shift to
do, in about three hours. It was all rocky: however I got many
birds' eggs; and, striking fire, I kindled some heath and dry
sea-weed, by which I roasted my eggs. I ate no other supper,
being resolved to spare my provisions as much as I could. I
passed the night under the shelter of a rock, strewing some heath
under me, and slept pretty well.

The next day I sailed to another island, and thence to a third
and fourth, sometimes using my sail, and sometimes my paddles.
But, not to trouble the reader with a particular account of my
distresses, let it suffice, that on the fifth day I arrived at
the last island in my sight, which lay south-south-east to the

This island was at a greater distance than I expected, and I did
not reach it in less than five hours. I encompassed it almost
round, before I could find a convenient place to land in; which
was a small creek, about three times the wideness of my canoe. I
found the island to be all rocky, only a little intermingled with
tufts of grass, and sweet-smelling herbs. I took out my small
provisions and after having refreshed myself, I secured the
remainder in a cave, whereof there were great numbers; I gathered
plenty of eggs upon the rocks, and got a quantity of dry
sea-weed, and parched grass, which I designed to kindle the next
day, and roast my eggs as well as I could, for I had about me my
flint, steel, match, and burning-glass. I lay all night in the
cave where I had lodged my provisions. My bed was the same dry
grass and sea-weed which I intended for fuel. I slept very
little, for the disquiets of my mind prevailed over my weariness,
and kept me awake. I considered how impossible it was to
preserve my life in so desolate a place, and how miserable my end
must be: yet found myself so listless and desponding, that I had
not the heart to rise; and before I could get spirits enough to
creep out of my cave, the day was far advanced. I walked awhile
among the rocks: the sky was perfectly clear, and the sun so
hot, that I was forced to turn my face from it: when all on a
sudden it became obscure, as I thought, in a manner very
different from what happens by the interposition of a cloud. I
turned back, and perceived a vast opaque body between me and the
sun moving forwards towards the island: it seemed to be about
two miles high, and hid the sun six or seven minutes; but I did
not observe the air to be much colder, or the sky more darkened,
than if I had stood under the shade of a mountain. As it
approached nearer over the place where I was, it appeared to be a
firm substance, the bottom flat, smooth, and shining very bright,
from the reflection of the sea below. I stood upon a height
about two hundred yards from the shore, and saw this vast body
descending almost to a parallel with me, at less than an English
mile distance. I took out my pocket perspective, and could
plainly discover numbers of people moving up and down the sides
of it, which appeared to be sloping; but what those people where
doing I was not able to distinguish.

The natural love of life gave me some inward motion of joy, and I
was ready to entertain a hope that this adventure might, some way
or other, help to deliver me from the desolate place and
condition I was in. But at the same time the reader can hardly
conceive my astonishment, to behold an island in the air,
inhabited by men, who were able (as it should seem) to raise or
sink, or put it into progressive motion, as they pleased. But
not being at that time in a disposition to philosophise upon this
phenomenon, I rather chose to observe what course the island
would take, because it seemed for awhile to stand still. Yet
soon after, it advanced nearer, and I could see the sides of it
encompassed with several gradations of galleries, and stairs, at
certain intervals, to descend from one to the other. In the
lowest gallery, I beheld some people fishing with long angling
rods, and others looking on. I waved my cap (for my hat was long
since worn out) and my handkerchief toward the island; and upon
its nearer approach, I called and shouted with the utmost
strength of my voice; and then looking circumspectly, I beheld a
crowd gather to that side which was most in my view. I found by
their pointing towards me and to each other, that they plainly
discovered me, although they made no return to my shouting. But I
could see four or five men running in great haste, up the stairs,
to the top of the island, who then disappeared. I happened
rightly to conjecture, that these were sent for orders to some
person in authority upon this occasion.

The number of people increased, and, in less than half all hour,
the island was moved and raised in such a manner, that the lowest
gallery appeared in a parallel of less then a hundred yards
distance from the height where I stood. I then put myself in the
most supplicating posture, and spoke in the humblest accent, but
received no answer. Those who stood nearest over against me,
seemed to be persons of distinction, as I supposed by their
habit. They conferred earnestly with each other, looking often
upon me. At length one of them called out in a clear, polite,
smooth dialect, not unlike in sound to the Italian: and
therefore I returned an answer in that language, hoping at least
that the cadence might be more agreeable to his ears. Although
neither of us understood the other, yet my meaning was easily
known, for the people saw the distress I was in.

They made signs for me to come down from the rock, and go towards
the shore, which I accordingly did; and the flying island being
raised to a convenient height, the verge directly over me, a
chain was let down from the lowest gallery, with a seat fastened
to the bottom, to which I fixed myself, and was drawn up by pulleys.



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