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Gulliver's Travels
by Jonathan Swift

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[The author's veracity. His design in publishing this work.
His censure of those travellers who swerve from the truth.
The author clears himself from any sinister ends in writing.
An objection answered. The method of planting colonies.
His native country commended. The right of the crown
to those countries described by the author is justified.
The difficulty of conquering them. The author takes his last
leave of the reader; proposes his manner of living for the future;
gives good advice, and concludes.]

Thus, gentle reader, I have given thee a faithful history of my
travels for sixteen years and above seven months: wherein I have
not been so studious of ornament as of truth. I could, perhaps,
like others, have astonished thee with strange improbable tales;
but I rather chose to relate plain matter of fact, in the
simplest manner and style; because my principal design was to
inform, and not to amuse thee.

It is easy for us who travel into remote countries, which are
seldom visited by Englishmen or other Europeans, to form
descriptions of wonderful animals both at sea and land. Whereas
a traveller's chief aim should be to make men wiser and better,
and to improve their minds by the bad, as well as good, example
of what they deliver concerning foreign places.

I could heartily wish a law was enacted, that every traveller,
before he were permitted to publish his voyages, should be
obliged to make oath before the Lord High Chancellor, that all he
intended to print was absolutely true to the best of his
knowledge; for then the world would no longer be deceived, as it
usually is, while some writers, to make their works pass the
better upon the public, impose the grossest falsities on the
unwary reader. I have perused several books of travels with
great delight in my younger days; but having since gone over most
parts of the globe, and been able to contradict many fabulous
accounts from my own observation, it has given me a great disgust
against this part of reading, and some indignation to see the
credulity of mankind so impudently abused. Therefore, since my
acquaintance were pleased to think my poor endeavours might not
be unacceptable to my country, I imposed on myself, as a maxim
never to be swerved from, that I would strictly adhere to truth;
neither indeed can I be ever under the least temptation to vary
from it, while I retain in my mind the lectures and example of my
noble master and the other illustrious HOUYHNHNMS of whom I had
so long the honour to be an humble hearer.


I know very well, how little reputation is to be got by writings
which require neither genius nor learning, nor indeed any other
talent, except a good memory, or an exact journal. I know
likewise, that writers of travels, like dictionary-makers, are
sunk into oblivion by the weight and bulk of those who come last,
and therefore lie uppermost. And it is highly probable, that
such travellers, who shall hereafter visit the countries
described in this work of mine, may, by detecting my errors (if
there be any), and adding many new discoveries of their own,
justle me out of vogue, and stand in my place, making the world
forget that ever I was an author. This indeed would be too great
a mortification, if I wrote for fame: but as my sole intention
was the public good, I cannot be altogether disappointed. For
who can read of the virtues I have mentioned in the glorious
HOUYHNHNMS, without being ashamed of his own vices, when he
considers himself as the reasoning, governing animal of his
country? I shall say nothing of those remote nations where
YAHOOS preside; among which the least corrupted are the
BROBDINGNAGIANS; whose wise maxims in morality and government it
would be our happiness to observe. But I forbear descanting
further, and rather leave the judicious reader to his own remarks
and application.

I am not a little pleased that this work of mine can possibly
meet with no censurers: for what objections can be made against
a writer, who relates only plain facts, that happened in such
distant countries, where we have not the least interest, with
respect either to trade or negotiations? I have carefully
avoided every fault with which common writers of travels are
often too justly charged. Besides, I meddle not the least with
any party, but write without passion, prejudice, or ill-will
against any man, or number of men, whatsoever. I write for the
noblest end, to inform and instruct mankind; over whom I may,
without breach of modesty, pretend to some superiority, from the
advantages I received by conversing so long among the most
accomplished HOUYHNHNMS. I write without any view to profit or
praise. I never suffer a word to pass that may look like
reflection, or possibly give the least offence, even to those who
are most ready to take it. So that I hope I may with justice
pronounce myself an author perfectly blameless; against whom the
tribes of Answerers, Considerers, Observers, Reflectors,
Detectors, Remarkers, will never be able to find matter for
exercising their talents.

I confess, it was whispered to me, "that I was bound in duty, as
a subject of England, to have given in a memorial to a secretary
of state at my first coming over; because, whatever lands are
discovered by a subject belong to the crown." But I doubt
whether our conquests in the countries I treat of would be as
easy as those of Ferdinando Cortez over the naked Americans. The
LILLIPUTIANS, I think, are hardly worth the charge of a fleet and
army to reduce them; and I question whether it might be prudent
or safe to attempt the BROBDINGNAGIANS; or whether an English
army would be much at their ease with the Flying Island over
their heads. The HOUYHNHNMS indeed appear not to be so well
prepared for war, a science to which they are perfect strangers,
and especially against missive weapons. However, supposing
myself to be a minister of state, I could never give my advice
for invading them. Their prudence, unanimity, unacquaintedness
with fear, and their love of their country, would amply supply
all defects in the military art. Imagine twenty thousand of them
breaking into the midst of an European army, confounding the
ranks, overturning the carriages, battering the warriors' faces
into mummy by terrible yerks from their hinder hoofs; for they
would well deserve the character given to Augustus, RECALCITRAT
UNDIQUE TUTUS. But, instead of proposals for conquering that
magnanimous nation, I rather wish they were in a capacity, or
disposition, to send a sufficient number of their inhabitants for
civilizing Europe, by teaching us the first principles of honour,
justice, truth, temperance, public spirit, fortitude, chastity,
friendship, benevolence, and fidelity. The names of all which
virtues are still retained among us in most languages, and are to
be met with in modern, as well as ancient authors; which I am
able to assert from my own small reading.

But I had another reason, which made me less forward to enlarge
his majesty's dominions by my discoveries. To say the truth, I
had conceived a few scruples with relation to the distributive
justice of princes upon those occasions. For instance, a crew of
pirates are driven by a storm they know not whither; at length a
boy discovers land from the topmast; they go on shore to rob and
plunder, they see a harmless people, are entertained with
kindness; they give the country a new name; they take formal
possession of it for their king; they set up a rotten plank, or a
stone, for a memorial; they murder two or three dozen of the
natives, bring away a couple more, by force, for a sample; return
home, and get their pardon. Here commences a new dominion
acquired with a title by divine right. Ships are sent with the
first opportunity; the natives driven out or destroyed; their
princes tortured to discover their gold; a free license given to
all acts of inhumanity and lust, the earth reeking with the blood
of its inhabitants: and this execrable crew of butchers,
employed in so pious an expedition, is a modern colony, sent to
convert and civilize an idolatrous and barbarous people!

But this description, I confess, does by no means affect the
British nation, who may be an example to the whole world for
their wisdom, care, and justice in planting colonies; their
liberal endowments for the advancement of religion and learning;
their choice of devout and able pastors to propagate
Christianity; their caution in stocking their provinces with
people of sober lives and conversations from this the mother
kingdom; their strict regard to the distribution of justice, in
supplying the civil administration through all their colonies
with officers of the greatest abilities, utter strangers to
corruption; and, to crown all, by sending the most vigilant and
virtuous governors, who have no other views than the happiness of
the people over whom they preside, and the honour of the king
their master.

But as those countries which I have described do not appear to
have any desire of being conquered and enslaved, murdered or
driven out by colonies, nor abound either in gold, silver, sugar,
or tobacco, I did humbly conceive, they were by no means proper
objects of our zeal, our valour, or our interest. However, if
those whom it more concerns think fit to be of another opinion, I
am ready to depose, when I shall be lawfully called, that no
European did ever visit those countries before me. I mean, if
the inhabitants ought to be believed, unless a dispute may arise
concerning the two YAHOOS, said to have been seen many years ago
upon a mountain in HOUYHNHNMLAND.

But, as to the formality of taking possession in my sovereign's
name, it never came once into my thoughts; and if it had, yet, as
my affairs then stood, I should perhaps, in point of prudence and
self-preservation, have put it off to a better opportunity.

Having thus answered the only objection that can ever be raised
against me as a traveller, I here take a final leave of all my
courteous readers, and return to enjoy my own speculations in my
little garden at Redriff; to apply those excellent lessons of
virtue which I learned among the HOUYHNHNMS; to instruct the
YAHOOS of my own family, is far as I shall find them docible
animals; to behold my figure often in a glass, and thus, if
possible, habituate myself by time to tolerate the sight of a
human creature; to lament the brutality to HOUYHNHNMS in my own
country, but always treat their persons with respect, for the
sake of my noble master, his family, his friends, and the whole
HOUYHNHNM race, whom these of ours have the honour to resemble
in all their lineaments, however their intellectuals came to degenerate.

I began last week to permit my wife to sit at dinner with me, at
the farthest end of a long table; and to answer (but with the
utmost brevity) the few questions I asked her. Yet, the smell of
a YAHOO continuing very offensive, I always keep my nose well
stopped with rue, lavender, or tobacco leaves. And, although it
be hard for a man late in life to remove old habits, I am not
altogether out of hopes, in some time, to suffer a neighbour
YAHOO in my company, without the apprehensions I am yet under of
his teeth or his claws.

My reconcilement to the YAHOO kind in general might not be so
difficult, if they would be content with those vices and follies
only which nature has entitled them to. I am not in the least
provoked at the sight of a lawyer, a pickpocket, a colonel, a
fool, a lord, a gamester, a politician, a whoremonger, a
physician, an evidence, a suborner, an attorney, a traitor, or
the like; this is all according to the due course of things: but
when I behold a lump of deformity and diseases, both in body and
mind, smitten with pride, it immediately breaks all the measures
of my patience; neither shall I be ever able to comprehend how
such an animal, and such a vice, could tally together. The wise
and virtuous HOUYHNHNMS, who abound in all excellences that can
adorn a rational creature, have no name for this vice in their
language, which has no terms to express any thing that is evil,
except those whereby they describe the detestable qualities of
their YAHOOS, among which they were not able to distinguish this
of pride, for want of thoroughly understanding human nature, as
it shows itself in other countries where that animal presides.
But I, who had more experience, could plainly observe some
rudiments of it among the wild YAHOOS.

But the HOUYHNHNMS, who live under the government of reason, are
no more proud of the good qualities they possess, than I should
be for not wanting a leg or an arm; which no man in his wits
would boast of, although he must be miserable without them. I
dwell the longer upon this subject from the desire I have to make
the society of an English YAHOO by any means not insupportable;
and therefore I here entreat those who have any tincture of this
absurd vice, that they will not presume to come in my sight.



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