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Chapter 10

  • [The author's economy, and happy life, among the Houyhnhnms. His grea_mprovement in virtue by conversing with them. Their conversations. The autho_as notice given him by his master, that he must depart from the country. H_alls into a swoon for grief; but submits. He contrives and finishes a cano_y the help of a fellow-servant, and puts to sea at a venture.]
  • I had settled my little economy to my own heart's content. My master ha_rdered a room to be made for me, after their manner, about six yards from th_ouse: the sides and floors of which I plastered with clay, and covered wit_ush-mats of my own contriving. I had beaten hemp, which there grows wild, an_ade of it a sort of ticking; this I filled with the feathers of several bird_ had taken with springes made of YAHOOS' hairs, and were excellent food. _ad worked two chairs with my knife, the sorrel nag helping me in the grosse_nd more laborious part.
  • When my clothes were worn to rags, I made myself others with the skins o_abbits, and of a certain beautiful animal, about the same size, calle_NUHNOH, the skin of which is covered with a fine down. Of these I also mad_ery tolerable stockings. I soled my shoes with wood, which I cut from a tree,
  • and fitted to the upper-leather; and when this was worn out, I supplied i_ith the skins of YAHOOS dried in the sun. I often got honey out of hollo_rees, which I mingled with water, or ate with my bread. No man could mor_erify the truth of these two maxims, "That nature is very easily satisfied;"
  • and, "That necessity is the mother of invention." I enjoyed perfect health o_ody, and tranquillity of mind; I did not feel the treachery or inconstancy o_ friend, nor the injuries of a secret or open enemy. I had no occasion o_ribing, flattering, or pimping, to procure the favour of any great man, or o_is minion; I wanted no fence against fraud or oppression: here was neithe_hysician to destroy my body, nor lawyer to ruin my fortune; no informer t_atch my words and actions, or forge accusations against me for hire: her_ere no gibers, censurers, backbiters, pickpockets, highwaymen, housebreakers,
  • attorneys, bawds, buffoons, gamesters, politicians, wits, splenetics, tediou_alkers, controvertists, ravishers, murderers, robbers, virtuosos; no leaders,
  • or followers, of party and faction; no encouragers to vice, by seducement o_xamples; no dungeon, axes, gibbets, whipping-posts, or pillories; no cheatin_hopkeepers or mechanics; no pride, vanity, or affectation; no fops, bullies,
  • drunkards, strolling whores, or poxes; no ranting, lewd, expensive wives; n_tupid, proud pedants; no importunate, overbearing, quarrelsome, noisy,
  • roaring, empty, conceited, swearing companions; no scoundrels raised from th_ust upon the merit of their vices, or nobility thrown into it on account o_heir virtues; no lords, fiddlers, judges, or dancing-masters.
  • I had the favour of being admitted to several HOUYHNHNMS, who came to visit o_ine with my master; where his honour graciously suffered me to wait in th_oom, and listen to their discourse. Both he and his company would ofte_escend to ask me questions, and receive my answers. I had also sometimes th_onour of attending my master in his visits to others. I never presumed t_peak, except in answer to a question; and then I did it with inward regret,
  • because it was a loss of so much time for improving myself; but I wa_nfinitely delighted with the station of an humble auditor in suc_onversations, where nothing passed but what was useful, expressed in th_ewest and most significant words; where, as I have already said, the greates_ecency was observed, without the least degree of ceremony; where no perso_poke without being pleased himself, and pleasing his companions; where ther_as no interruption, tediousness, heat, or difference of sentiments. They hav_ notion, that when people are met together, a short silence does much improv_onversation: this I found to be true; for during those little intermission_f talk, new ideas would arise in their minds, which very much enlivened th_iscourse. Their subjects are, generally on friendship and benevolence, o_rder and economy; sometimes upon the visible operations of nature, or ancien_raditions; upon the bounds and limits of virtue; upon the unerring rules o_eason, or upon some determinations to be taken at the next great assembly:
  • and often upon the various excellences of poetry. I may add, without vanity,
  • that my presence often gave them sufficient matter for discourse, because i_fforded my master an occasion of letting his friends into the history of m_nd my country, upon which they were all pleased to descant, in a manner no_ery advantageous to humankind: and for that reason I shall not repeat wha_hey said; only I may be allowed to observe, that his honour, to my grea_dmiration, appeared to understand the nature of YAHOOS much better tha_yself. He went through all our vices and follies, and discovered many, whic_ had never mentioned to him, by only supposing what qualities a YAHOO o_heir country, with a small proportion of reason, might be capable o_xerting; and concluded, with too much probability, "how vile, as well a_iserable, such a creature must be."
  • I freely confess, that all the little knowledge I have of any value, wa_cquired by the lectures I received from my master, and from hearing th_iscourses of him and his friends; to which I should be prouder to listen,
  • than to dictate to the greatest and wisest assembly in Europe. I admired th_trength, comeliness, and speed of the inhabitants; and such a constellatio_f virtues, in such amiable persons, produced in me the highest veneration. A_irst, indeed, I did not feel that natural awe, which the YAHOOS and all othe_nimals bear toward them; but it grew upon me by decrees, much sooner than _magined, and was mingled with a respectful love and gratitude, that the_ould condescend to distinguish me from the rest of my species.
  • When I thought of my family, my friends, my countrymen, or the human race i_eneral, I considered them, as they really were, YAHOOS in shape an_isposition, perhaps a little more civilized, and qualified with the gift o_peech; but making no other use of reason, than to improve and multiply thos_ices whereof their brethren in this country had only the share that natur_llotted them. When I happened to behold the reflection of my own form in _ake or fountain, I turned away my face in horror and detestation of myself,
  • and could better endure the sight of a common YAHOO than of my own person. B_onversing with the HOUYHNHNMS, and looking upon them with delight, I fell t_mitate their gait and gesture, which is now grown into a habit; and m_riends often tell me, in a blunt way, "that I trot like a horse;" which,
  • however, I take for a great compliment. Neither shall I disown, that i_peaking I am apt to fall into the voice and manner of the HOUYHNHNMS, an_ear myself ridiculed on that account, without the least mortification.
  • In the midst of all this happiness, and when I looked upon myself to be full_ettled for life, my master sent for me one morning a little earlier than hi_sual hour. I observed by his countenance that he was in some perplexity, an_t a loss how to begin what he had to speak. After a short silence, he tol_e, "he did not know how I would take what he was going to say: that in th_ast general assembly, when the affair of the YAHOOS was entered upon, th_epresentatives had taken offence at his keeping a YAHOO (meaning myself) i_is family, more like a HOUYHNHNM than a brute animal; that he was know_requently to converse with me, as if he could receive some advantage o_leasure in my company; that such a practice was not agreeable to reason o_ature, or a thing ever heard of before among them; the assembly did therefor_xhort him either to employ me like the rest of my species, or command me t_wim back to the place whence I came: that the first of these expedients wa_tterly rejected by all the HOUYHNHNMS who had ever seen me at his house o_heir own; for they alleged, that because I had some rudiments of reason,
  • added to the natural pravity of those animals, it was to be feared I might b_ble to seduce them into the woody and mountainous parts of the country, an_ring them in troops by night to destroy the HOUYHNHNMS' cattle, as bein_aturally of the ravenous kind, and averse from labour."
  • My master added, "that he was daily pressed by the HOUYHNHNMS of th_eighbourhood to have the assembly's exhortation executed, which he could no_ut off much longer. He doubted it would be impossible for me to swim t_nother country; and therefore wished I would contrive some sort of vehicle,
  • resembling those I had described to him, that might carry me on the sea; i_hich work I should have the assistance of his own servants, as well as thos_f his neighbours." He concluded, "that for his own part, he could have bee_ontent to keep me in his service as long as I lived; because he found I ha_ured myself of some bad habits and dispositions, by endeavouring, as far a_y inferior nature was capable, to imitate the HOUYHNHNMS."
  • I should here observe to the reader, that a decree of the general assembly i_his country is expressed by the word HNHLOAYN, which signifies a_xhortation, as near as I can render it; for they have no conception how _ational creature can be compelled, but only advised, or exhorted; because n_erson can disobey reason, without giving up his claim to be a rationa_reature.
  • I was struck with the utmost grief and despair at my master's discourse; an_eing unable to support the agonies I was under, I fell into a swoon at hi_eet. When I came to myself, he told me "that he concluded I had been dead;"
  • for these people are subject to no such imbecilities of nature. I answered i_ faint voice, "that death would have been too great a happiness; tha_lthough I could not blame the assembly's exhortation, or the urgency of hi_riends; yet, in my weak and corrupt judgment, I thought it might consist wit_eason to have been less rigorous; that I could not swim a league, an_robably the nearest land to theirs might be distant above a hundred: tha_any materials, necessary for making a small vessel to carry me off, wer_holly wanting in this country; which, however, I would attempt, in obedienc_nd gratitude to his honour, although I concluded the thing to be impossible,
  • and therefore looked on myself as already devoted to destruction; that th_ertain prospect of an unnatural death was the least of my evils; for,
  • supposing I should escape with life by some strange adventure, how could _hink with temper of passing my days among YAHOOS, and relapsing into my ol_orruptions, for want of examples to lead and keep me within the paths o_irtue? that I knew too well upon what solid reasons all the determinations o_he wise HOUYHNHNMS were founded, not to be shaken by arguments of mine, _iserable YAHOO; and therefore, after presenting him with my humble thanks fo_he offer of his servants' assistance in making a vessel, and desiring _easonable time for so difficult a work, I told him I would endeavour t_reserve a wretched being; and if ever I returned to England, was not withou_opes of being useful to my own species, by celebrating the praises of th_enowned HOUYHNHNMS, and proposing their virtues to the imitation of mankind."
  • My master, in a few words, made me a very gracious reply; allowed me the spac_f two months to finish my boat; and ordered the sorrel nag, my fellow-servant
  • (for so, at this distance, I may presume to call him), to follow m_nstruction; because I told my master, "that his help would be sufficient, an_ knew he had a tenderness for me."
  • In his company, my first business was to go to that part of the coast where m_ebellious crew had ordered me to be set on shore. I got upon a height, an_ooking on every side into the sea; fancied I saw a small island toward th_orth-east. I took out my pocket glass, and could then clearly distinguish i_bove five leagues off, as I computed; but it appeared to the sorrel nag to b_nly a blue cloud: for as he had no conception of any country beside his own,
  • so he could not be as expert in distinguishing remote objects at sea, as w_ho so much converse in that element.
  • After I had discovered this island, I considered no further; but resolved i_hould if possible, be the first place of my banishment, leaving th_onsequence to fortune.
  • I returned home, and consulting with the sorrel nag, we went into a copse a_ome distance, where I with my knife, and he with a sharp flint, fastened ver_rtificially after their manner, to a wooden handle, cut down several oa_attles, about the thickness of a walking-staff, and some larger pieces. But _hall not trouble the reader with a particular description of my ow_echanics; let it suffice to say, that in six weeks time with the help of th_orrel nag, who performed the parts that required most labour, I finished _ort of Indian canoe, but much larger, covering it with the skins of YAHOOS,
  • well stitched together with hempen threads of my own making. My sail wa_ikewise composed of the skins of the same animal; but I made use of th_oungest I could get, the older being too tough and thick; and I likewis_rovided myself with four paddles. I laid in a stock of boiled flesh, o_abbits and fowls, and took with me two vessels, one filled with milk and th_ther with water.
  • I tried my canoe in a large pond, near my master's house, and then correcte_n it what was amiss; stopping all the chinks with YAHOOS' tallow, till _ound it staunch, and able to bear me and my freight; and, when it was a_omplete as I could possibly make it, I had it drawn on a carriage very gentl_y YAHOOS to the sea-side, under the conduct of the sorrel nag and anothe_ervant.
  • When all was ready, and the day came for my departure, I took leave of m_aster and lady and the whole family, my eyes flowing with tears, and my hear_uite sunk with grief. But his honour, out of curiosity, and, perhaps, (if _ay speak without vanity,) partly out of kindness, was determined to see me i_y canoe, and got several of his neighbouring friends to accompany him. I wa_orced to wait above an hour for the tide; and then observing the wind ver_ortunately bearing toward the island to which I intended to steer my course,
  • I took a second leave of my master: but as I was going to prostrate myself t_iss his hoof, he did me the honour to raise it gently to my mouth. I am no_gnorant how much I have been censured for mentioning this last particular.
  • Detractors are pleased to think it improbable, that so illustrious a perso_hould descend to give so great a mark of distinction to a creature s_nferior as I. Neither have I forgotten how apt some travellers are to boas_f extraordinary favours they have received. But, if these censurers wer_etter acquainted with the noble and courteous disposition of the HOUYHNHNMS,
  • they would soon change their opinion.
  • I paid my respects to the rest of the HOUYHNHNMS in his honour's company; the_etting into my canoe, I pushed off from shore.