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Gulliver's Travels
by Jonathan Swift

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[The author sets out as captain of a ship. His men conspire
against him, confine him a long time to his cabin, and set him
on shore in an unknown land. He travels up into the country.
The Yahoos, a strange sort of animal, described. The author
meets two Houyhnhnms.]

I continued at home with my wife and children about five months,
in a very happy condition, if I could have learned the lesson of
knowing when I was well. I left my poor wife big with child, and
accepted an advantageous offer made me to be captain of the
Adventurer, a stout merchantman of 350 tons: for I understood
navigation well, and being grown weary of a surgeon's employment
at sea, which, however, I could exercise upon occasion, I took a
skilful young man of that calling, one Robert Purefoy, into my
ship. We set sail from Portsmouth upon the 7th day of September,
1710; on the 14th we met with Captain Pocock, of Bristol, at
Teneriffe, who was going to the bay of Campechy to cut logwood.
On the 16th, he was parted from us by a storm; I heard since my
return, that his ship foundered, and none escaped but one cabin
boy. He was an honest man, and a good sailor, but a little too
positive in his own opinions, which was the cause of his
destruction, as it has been with several others; for if he had
followed my advice, he might have been safe at home with his
family at this time, as well as myself.

I had several men who died in my ship of calentures, so that I
was forced to get recruits out of Barbadoes and the Leeward
Islands, where I touched, by the direction of the merchants who
employed me; which I had soon too much cause to repent: for I
found afterwards, that most of them had been buccaneers. I had
fifty hands onboard; and my orders were, that I should trade with
the Indians in the South-Sea, and make what discoveries I could.
These rogues, whom I had picked up, debauched my other men, and
they all formed a conspiracy to seize the ship, and secure me;
which they did one morning, rushing into my cabin, and binding me
hand and foot, threatening to throw me overboard, if I offered to
stir. I told them, "I was their prisoner, and would submit."
This they made me swear to do, and then they unbound me, only
fastening one of my legs with a chain, near my bed, and placed a
sentry at my door with his piece charged, who was commanded to
shoot me dead if I attempted my liberty. They sent me own
victuals and drink, and took the government of the ship to
themselves. Their design was to turn pirates and, plunder the
Spaniards, which they could not do till they got more men. But
first they resolved to sell the goods the ship, and then go to
Madagascar for recruits, several among them having died since my
confinement. They sailed many weeks, and traded with the
Indians; but I knew not what course they took, being kept a close
prisoner in my cabin, and expecting nothing less than to be
murdered, as they often threatened me.

Upon the 9th day of May, 1711, one James Welch came down to my
cabin, and said, "he had orders from the captain to set me
ashore." I expostulated with him, but in vain; neither would he
so much as tell me who their new captain was. They forced me
into the long-boat, letting me put on my best suit of clothes,
which were as good as new, and take a small bundle of linen, but
no arms, except my hanger; and they were so civil as not to
search my pockets, into which I conveyed what money I had, with
some other little necessaries. They rowed about a league, and
then set me down on a strand. I desired them to tell me what
country it was. They all swore, "they knew no more than myself;"
but said, "that the captain" (as they called him) "was resolved,
after they had sold the lading, to get rid of me in the first
place where they could discover land." They pushed off
immediately, advising me to make haste for fear of being
overtaken by the tide, and so bade me farewell.

In this desolate condition I advanced forward, and soon got upon
firm ground, where I sat down on a bank to rest myself, and
consider what I had best do. When I was a little refreshed, I
went up into the country, resolving to deliver myself to the
first savages I should meet, and purchase my life from them by
some bracelets, glass rings, and other toys, which sailors
usually provide themselves with in those voyages, and whereof I
had some about me. The land was divided by long rows of trees,
not regularly planted, but naturally growing; there was great
plenty of grass, and several fields of oats. I walked very
circumspectly, for fear of being surprised, or suddenly shot with
an arrow from behind, or on either side. I fell into a beaten
road, where I saw many tracts of human feet, and some of cows,
but most of horses. At last I beheld several animals in a field,
and one or two of the same kind sitting in trees. Their shape
was very singular and deformed, which a little discomposed me, so
that I lay down behind a thicket to observe them better. Some of
them coming forward near the place where I lay, gave me an
opportunity of distinctly marking their form. Their heads and
breasts were covered with a thick hair, some frizzled, and others
lank; they had beards like goats, and a long ridge of hair down
their backs, and the fore parts of their legs and feet; but the
rest of their bodies was bare, so that I might see their skins,
which were of a brown buff colour. They had no tails, nor any
hair at all on their buttocks, except about the anus, which, I
presume, nature had placed there to defend them as they sat on
the ground, for this posture they used, as well as lying down,
and often stood on their hind feet. They climbed high trees as
nimbly as a squirrel, for they had strong extended claws before
and behind, terminating in sharp points, and hooked. They would
often spring, and bound, and leap, with prodigious agility. The
females were not so large as the males; they had long lank hair
on their heads, but none on their faces, nor any thing more than
a sort of down on the rest of their bodies, except about the anus
and pudenda. The dugs hung between their fore feet, and often
reached almost to the ground as they walked. The hair of both
sexes was of several colours, brown, red, black, and yellow.
Upon the whole, I never beheld, in all my travels, so
disagreeable an animal, or one against which I naturally
conceived so strong an antipathy. So that, thinking I had seen
enough, full of contempt and aversion, I got up, and pursued the
beaten road, hoping it might direct me to the cabin of some
Indian. I had not got far, when I met one of these creatures
full in my way, and coming up directly to me. The ugly monster,
when he saw me, distorted several ways, every feature of his
visage, and stared, as at an object he had never seen before;
then approaching nearer, lifted up his fore-paw, whether out of
curiosity or mischief I could not tell; but I drew my hanger, and
gave him a good blow with the flat side of it, for I durst not
strike with the edge, fearing the inhabitants might be provoked
against me, if they should come to know that I had killed or
maimed any of their cattle. When the beast felt the smart, he
drew back, and roared so loud, that a herd of at least forty came
flocking about me from the next field, howling and making odious
faces; but I ran to the body of a tree, and leaning my back
against it, kept them off by waving my hanger. Several of this
cursed brood, getting hold of the branches behind, leaped up into
the tree, whence they began to discharge their excrements on my
head; however, I escaped pretty well by sticking close to the
stem of the tree, but was almost stifled with the filth, which
fell about me on every side.

In the midst of this distress, I observed them all to run away on
a sudden as fast as they could; at which I ventured to leave the
tree and pursue the road, wondering what it was that could put
them into this fright. But looking on my left hand, I saw a
horse walking softly in the field; which my persecutors having
sooner discovered, was the cause of their flight. The horse
started a little, when he came near me, but soon recovering
himself, looked full in my face with manifest tokens of wonder;
he viewed my hands and feet, walking round me several times. I
would have pursued my journey, but he placed himself directly in
the way, yet looking with a very mild aspect, never offering the
least violence. We stood gazing at each other for some time; at
last I took the boldness to reach my hand towards his neck with a
design to stroke it, using the common style and whistle of
jockeys, when they are going to handle a strange horse. But this
animal seemed to receive my civilities with disdain, shook his
head, and bent his brows, softly raising up his right fore-foot
to remove my hand. Then he neighed three or four times, but in
so different a cadence, that I almost began to think he was
speaking to himself, in some language of his own.

While he and I were thus employed, another horse came up; who
applying himself to the first in a very formal manner, they
gently struck each other's right hoof before, neighing several
times by turns, and varying the sound, which seemed to be almost
articulate. They went some paces off, as if it were to confer
together, walking side by side, backward and forward, like
persons deliberating upon some affair of weight, but often
turning their eyes towards me, as it were to watch that I might
not escape. I was amazed to see such actions and behaviour in
brute beasts; and concluded with myself, that if the inhabitants
of this country were endued with a proportionable degree of
reason, they must needs be the wisest people upon earth. This
thought gave me so much comfort, that I resolved to go forward,
until I could discover some house or village, or meet with any of
the natives, leaving the two horses to discourse together as they
pleased. But the first, who was a dapple gray, observing me to
steal off, neighed after me in so expressive a tone, that I
fancied myself to understand what he meant; whereupon I turned
back, and came near to him to expect his farther commands: but
concealing my fear as much as I could, for I began to be in some
pain how this adventure might terminate; and the reader will
easily believe I did not much like my present situation.

The two horses came up close to me, looking with great
earnestness upon my face and hands. The gray steed rubbed my hat
all round with his right fore-hoof, and discomposed it so much
that I was forced to adjust it better by taking it off and
settling it again; whereat, both he and his companion (who was a
brown bay) appeared to be much surprised: the latter felt the
lappet of my coat, and finding it to hang loose about me, they
both looked with new signs of wonder. He stroked my right hand,
seeming to admire the softness and colour; but he squeezed it so
hard between his hoof and his pastern, that I was forced to roar;
after which they both touched me with all possible tenderness.
They were under great perplexity about my shoes and stockings,
which they felt very often, neighing to each other, and using
various gestures, not unlike those of a philosopher, when he
would attempt to solve some new and difficult phenomenon.

Upon the whole, the behaviour of these animals was so orderly and
rational, so acute and judicious, that I at last concluded they
must needs be magicians, who had thus metamorphosed themselves
upon some design, and seeing a stranger in the way, resolved to
divert themselves with him; or, perhaps, were really amazed at
the sight of a man so very different in habit, feature, and
complexion, from those who might probably live in so remote a
climate. Upon the strength of this reasoning, I ventured to
address them in the following manner: "Gentlemen, if you be
conjurers, as I have good cause to believe, you can understand my
language; therefore I make bold to let your worships know that I
am a poor distressed Englishman, driven by his misfortunes upon
your coast; and I entreat one of you to let me ride upon his
back, as if he were a real horse, to some house or village where
I can be relieved. In return of which favour, I will make you a
present of this knife and bracelet," taking them out of my
pocket. The two creatures stood silent while I spoke, seeming to
listen with great attention, and when I had ended, they neighed
frequently towards each other, as if they were engaged in serious
conversation. I plainly observed that their language expressed
the passions very well, and the words might, with little pains,
be resolved into an alphabet more easily than the Chinese.

I could frequently distinguish the word YAHOO, which was repeated
by each of them several times: and although it was impossible
for me to conjecture what it meant, yet while the two horses were
busy in conversation, I endeavoured to practise this word upon my
tongue; and as soon as they were silent, I boldly pronounced
YAHOO in a loud voice, imitating at the same time, as near as I
could, the neighing of a horse; at which they were both visibly
surprised; and the gray repeated the same word twice, as if he
meant to teach me the right accent; wherein I spoke after him as
well as I could, and found myself perceivably to improve every
time, though very far from any degree of perfection. Then the
bay tried me with a second word, much harder to be pronounced;
but reducing it to the English orthography, may be spelt thus,
HOUYHNHNM. I did not succeed in this so well as in the former;
but after two or three farther trials, I had better fortune; and
they both appeared amazed at my capacity.

After some further discourse, which I then conjectured might
relate to me, the two friends took their leaves, with the same
compliment of striking each other's hoof; and the gray made me
signs that I should walk before him; wherein I thought it prudent
to comply, till I could find a better director. When I offered
to slacken my pace, he would cry HHUUN HHUUN: I guessed his
meaning, and gave him to understand, as well as I could, "that I
was weary, and not able to walk faster;" upon which he would
stand awhile to let me rest.



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