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Gulliver's Travels
by Jonathan Swift

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[A further account of the academy. The author proposes some
improvements, which are honourably received.]

In the school of political projectors, I was but ill entertained;
the professors appearing, in my judgment, wholly out of their
senses, which is a scene that never fails to make me melancholy.
These unhappy people were proposing schemes for persuading
monarchs to choose favourites upon the score of their wisdom,
capacity, and virtue; of teaching ministers to consult the public
good; of rewarding merit, great abilities, eminent services; of
instructing princes to know their true interest, by placing it on
the same foundation with that of their people; of choosing for
employments persons qualified to exercise them, with many other
wild, impossible chimeras, that never entered before into the
heart of man to conceive; and confirmed in me the old
observation, "that there is nothing so extravagant and irrational,
which some philosophers have not maintained for truth."

But, however, I shall so far do justice to this part of the
Academy, as to acknowledge that all of them were not so
visionary. There was a most ingenious doctor, who seemed to be
perfectly versed in the whole nature and system of government.
This illustrious person had very usefully employed his studies,
in finding out effectual remedies for all diseases and
corruptions to which the several kinds of public administration
are subject, by the vices or infirmities of those who govern, as
well as by the licentiousness of those who are to obey. For
instance: whereas all writers and reasoners have agreed, that
there is a strict universal resemblance between the natural and
the political body; can there be any thing more evident, than
that the health of both must be preserved, and the diseases
cured, by the same prescriptions? It is allowed, that senates
and great councils are often troubled with redundant, ebullient,
and other peccant humours; with many diseases of the head, and
more of the heart; with strong convulsions, with grievous
contractions of the nerves and sinews in both hands, but
especially the right; with spleen, flatus, vertigos, and
deliriums; with scrofulous tumours, full of fetid purulent
matter; with sour frothy ructations: with canine appetites, and
crudeness of digestion, besides many others, needless to mention.

This doctor therefore proposed, "that upon the meeting of the
senate, certain physicians should attend it the three first days
of their sitting, and at the close of each day's debate feel the
pulses of every senator; after which, having maturely considered
and consulted upon the nature of the several maladies, and the
methods of cure, they should on the fourth day return to the
senate house, attended by their apothecaries stored with proper
medicines; and before the members sat, administer to each of them
lenitives, aperitives, abstersives, corrosives, restringents,
palliatives, laxatives, cephalalgics, icterics, apophlegmatics,
acoustics, as their several cases required; and, according as
these medicines should operate, repeat, alter, or omit them, at
the next meeting."

This project could not be of any great expense to the public; and
might in my poor opinion, be of much use for the despatch of
business, in those countries where senates have any share in the
legislative power; beget unanimity, shorten debates, open a few
mouths which are now closed, and close many more which are now
open; curb the petulancy of the young, and correct the
positiveness of the old; rouse the stupid, and damp the pert.

Again: because it is a general complaint, that the favourites of
princes are troubled with short and weak memories; the same
doctor proposed, "that whoever attended a first minister, after
having told his business, with the utmost brevity and in the
plainest words, should, at his departure, give the said minister
a tweak by the nose, or a kick in the belly, or tread on his
corns, or lug him thrice by both ears, or run a pin into his
breech; or pinch his arm black and blue, to prevent
forgetfulness; and at every levee day, repeat the same operation,
till the business were done, or absolutely refused."

He likewise directed, "that every senator in the great council of
a nation, after he had delivered his opinion, and argued in the
defence of it, should be obliged to give his vote directly
contrary; because if that were done, the result would infallibly
terminate in the good of the public."

When parties in a state are violent, he offered a wonderful
contrivance to reconcile them. The method is this: You take a
hundred leaders of each party; you dispose them into couples of
such whose heads are nearest of a size; then let two nice
operators saw off the occiput of each couple at the same time, in
such a manner that the brain may be equally divided. Let the
occiputs, thus cut off, be interchanged, applying each to the
head of his opposite party-man. It seems indeed to be a work
that requires some exactness, but the professor assured us, "that
if it were dexterously performed, the cure would be infallible."
For he argued thus: "that the two half brains being left to
debate the matter between themselves within the space of one
skull, would soon come to a good understanding, and produce that
moderation, as well as regularity of thinking, so much to be
wished for in the heads of those, who imagine they come into the
world only to watch and govern its motion: and as to the
difference of brains, in quantity or quality, among those who are
directors in faction, the doctor assured us, from his own
knowledge, that "it was a perfect trifle."

I heard a very warm debate between two professors, about the most
commodious and effectual ways and means of raising money, without
grieving the subject. The first affirmed, "the justest method
would be, to lay a certain tax upon vices and folly; and the sum
fixed upon every man to be rated, after the fairest manner, by a
jury of his neighbours." The second was of an opinion directly
contrary; "to tax those qualities of body and mind, for which men
chiefly value themselves; the rate to be more or less, according
to the degrees of excelling; the decision whereof should be left
entirely to their own breast." The highest tax was upon men who
are the greatest favourites of the other sex, and the
assessments, according to the number and nature of the favours
they have received; for which, they are allowed to be their own
vouchers. Wit, valour, and politeness, were likewise proposed to
be largely taxed, and collected in the same manner, by every
person's giving his own word for the quantum of what he
possessed. But as to honour, justice, wisdom, and learning, they
should not be taxed at all; because they are qualifications of so
singular a kind, that no man will either allow them in his
neighbour or value them in himself.

The women were proposed to be taxed according to their beauty and
skill in dressing, wherein they had the same privilege with the
men, to be determined by their own judgment. But constancy,
chastity, good sense, and good nature, were not rated, because
they would not bear the charge of collecting.

To keep senators in the interest of the crown, it was proposed
that the members should raffle for employment; every man first
taking an oath, and giving security, that he would vote for the
court, whether he won or not; after which, the losers had, in
their turn, the liberty of raffling upon the next vacancy. Thus,
hope and expectation would be kept alive; none would complain of
broken promises, but impute their disappointments wholly to
fortune, whose shoulders are broader and stronger than those of a

Another professor showed me a large paper of instructions for
discovering plots and conspiracies against the government. He
advised great statesmen to examine into the diet of all suspected
persons; their times of eating; upon which side they lay in bed;
with which hand they wipe their posteriors; take a strict view of
their excrements, and, from the colour, the odour, the taste, the
consistence, the crudeness or maturity of digestion, form a
judgment of their thoughts and designs; because men are never so
serious, thoughtful, and intent, as when they are at stool, which
he found by frequent experiment; for, in such conjunctures, when
he used, merely as a trial, to consider which was the best way of
murdering the king, his ordure would have a tincture of green;
but quite different, when he thought only of raising an
insurrection, or burning the metropolis.

The whole discourse was written with great acuteness, containing
many observations, both curious and useful for politicians; but,
as I conceived, not altogether complete. This I ventured to tell
the author, and offered, if he pleased, to supply him with some
additions. He received my proposition with more compliance than
is usual among writers, especially those of the projecting
species, professing "he would be glad to receive further

I told him, "that in the kingdom of Tribnia,
[3] by the natives
called Langdon,
[4] where I had sojourned some time in my
travels, the bulk of the people consist in a manner wholly of
discoverers, witnesses, informers, accusers, prosecutors,
evidences, swearers, together with their several subservient and
subaltern instruments, all under the colours, the conduct, and
the pay of ministers of state, and their deputies. The plots, in
that kingdom, are usually the workmanship of those persons who
desire to raise their own characters of profound politicians; to
restore new vigour to a crazy administration; to stifle or divert
general discontents; to fill their coffers with forfeitures; and
raise, or sink the opinion of public credit, as either shall best
answer their private advantage. It is first agreed and settled
among them, what suspected persons shall be accused of a plot;
then, effectual care is taken to secure all their letters and
papers, and put the owners in chains. These papers are delivered
to a set of artists, very dexterous in finding out the mysterious
meanings of words, syllables, and letters: for instance, they
can discover a close stool, to signify a privy council; a flock
of geese, a senate; a lame dog, an invader; the plague, a
standing army; a buzzard, a prime minister; the gout, a high
priest; a gibbet, a secretary of state; a chamber pot, a
committee of grandees; a sieve, a court lady; a broom, a
revolution; a mouse-trap, an employment; a bottomless pit, a
treasury; a sink, a court; a cap and bells, a favourite; a broken
reed, a court of justice; an empty tun, a general; a running
sore, the administration.

[3] Britannia. -SIR W. SCOTT.

[4] London. -SIR W. SCOTT.

[5] This is the revised text adopted by Dr. Hawksworth (1766).
The above paragraph in the original editions (1726) takes another
form, commencing:-"I told him that should I happen to live in a
kingdom where lots were in vogue," &c. The names Tribnia and
Langdon an not mentioned, and the "close stool" and its
signification do not occur.

"When this method fails, they have two others more effectual,
which the learned among them call acrostics and anagrams. First,
they can decipher all initial letters into political meanings.
Thus N, shall signify a plot; B, a regiment of horse; L, a fleet
at sea; or, secondly, by transposing the letters of the alphabet
in any suspected paper, they can lay open the deepest designs of
a discontented party. So, for example, if I should say, in a
letter to a friend, 'Our brother Tom has just got the piles,' a
skilful decipherer would discover, that the same letters which
compose that sentence, may be analysed into the following words,
'Resist--, a plot is brought home--The tour.' And this is the
anagrammatic method."

The professor made me great acknowledgments for communicating
these observations, and promised to make honourable mention of me
in his treatise.

I saw nothing in this country that could invite me to a longer
continuance, and began to think of returning home to England.



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