[The author at his master's command, informs him of the state of England. Th_auses of war among the princes of Europe. The author begins to explain th_nglish constitution.]
The reader may please to observe, that the following extract of man_onversations I had with my master, contains a summary of the most materia_oints which were discoursed at several times for above two years; his honou_ften desiring fuller satisfaction, as I farther improved in the HOUYHNHN_ongue. I laid before him, as well as I could, the whole state of Europe; _iscoursed of trade and manufactures, of arts and sciences; and the answers _ave to all the questions he made, as they arose upon several subjects, were _und of conversation not to be exhausted. But I shall here only set down th_ubstance of what passed between us concerning my own country, reducing it i_rder as well as I can, without any regard to time or other circumstances,
while I strictly adhere to truth. My only concern is, that I shall hardly b_ble to do justice to my master's arguments and expressions, which must need_uffer by my want of capacity, as well as by a translation into our barbarou_nglish.
In obedience, therefore, to his honour's commands, I related to him th_evolution under the Prince of Orange; the long war with France, entered int_y the said prince, and renewed by his successor, the present queen, wherei_he greatest powers of Christendom were engaged, and which still continued: _omputed, at his request, "that about a million of YAHOOS might have bee_illed in the whole progress of it; and perhaps a hundred or more citie_aken, and five times as many ships burnt or sunk."
He asked me, "what were the usual causes or motives that made one country g_o war with another?" I answered "they were innumerable; but I should onl_ention a few of the chief. Sometimes the ambition of princes, who never thin_hey have land or people enough to govern; sometimes the corruption o_inisters, who engage their master in a war, in order to stifle or divert th_lamour of the subjects against their evil administration. Difference i_pinions has cost many millions of lives: for instance, whether flesh b_read, or bread be flesh; whether the juice of a certain berry be blood o_ine; whether whistling be a vice or a virtue; whether it be better to kiss _ost, or throw it into the fire; what is the best colour for a coat, whethe_lack, white, red, or gray; and whether it should be long or short, narrow o_ide, dirty or clean; with many more.
Neither are any wars so furious and bloody, or of so long a continuance, a_hose occasioned by difference in opinion, especially if it be in thing_ndifferent.
"Sometimes the quarrel between two princes is to decide which of them shal_ispossess a third of his dominions, where neither of them pretend to an_ight. Sometimes one prince quarrels with another for fear the other shoul_uarrel with him. Sometimes a war is entered upon, because the enemy is to_trong; and sometimes, because he is too weak. Sometimes our neighbours wan_he things which we have, or have the things which we want, and we both fight,
till they take ours, or give us theirs. It is a very justifiable cause of _ar, to invade a country after the people have been wasted by famine,
destroyed by pestilence, or embroiled by factions among themselves. It i_ustifiable to enter into war against our nearest ally, when one of his town_ies convenient for us, or a territory of land, that would render ou_ominions round and complete. If a prince sends forces into a nation, wher_he people are poor and ignorant, he may lawfully put half of them to death,
and make slaves of the rest, in order to civilize and reduce them from thei_arbarous way of living. It is a very kingly, honourable, and frequen_ractice, when one prince desires the assistance of another, to secure hi_gainst an invasion, that the assistant, when he has driven out the invader,
should seize on the dominions himself, and kill, imprison, or banish, th_rince he came to relieve. Alliance by blood, or marriage, is a frequent caus_f war between princes; and the nearer the kindred is, the greater thei_isposition to quarrel; poor nations are hungry, and rich nations are proud;
and pride and hunger will ever be at variance. For these reasons, the trade o_ soldier is held the most honourable of all others; because a soldier is _AHOO hired to kill, in cold blood, as many of his own species, who have neve_ffended him, as possibly he can.
"There is likewise a kind of beggarly princes in Europe, not able to make wa_y themselves, who hire out their troops to richer nations, for so much a da_o each man; of which they keep three-fourths to themselves, and it is th_est part of their maintenance: such are those in many northern parts o_urope."
"What you have told me," said my master, "upon the subject of war, does indee_iscover most admirably the effects of that reason you pretend to: however, i_s happy that the shame is greater than the danger; and that nature has lef_ou utterly incapable of doing much mischief. For, your mouths lying flat wit_our faces, you can hardly bite each other to any purpose, unless by consent.
Then as to the claws upon your feet before and behind, they are so short an_ender, that one of our YAHOOS would drive a dozen of yours before him. An_herefore, in recounting the numbers of those who have been killed in battle,
I cannot but think you have said the thing which is not."
I could not forbear shaking my head, and smiling a little at his ignorance.
And being no stranger to the art of war, I gave him a description of cannons,
sea fights, ships sunk with a thousand men, twenty thousand killed on eac_ide, dying groans, limbs flying in the air, smoke, noise, confusion,
trampling to death under horses' feet, flight, pursuit, victory; field_trewed with carcases, left for food to dogs and wolves and birds of prey;
plundering, stripping, ravishing, burning, and destroying. And to set fort_he valour of my own dear countrymen, I assured him, "that I had seen the_low up a hundred enemies at once in a siege, and as many in a ship, an_eheld the dead bodies drop down in pieces from the clouds, to the grea_iversion of the spectators."
I was going on to more particulars, when my master commanded me silence. H_aid, "whoever understood the nature of YAHOOS, might easily believe i_ossible for so vile an animal to be capable of every action I had named, i_heir strength and cunning equalled their malice. But as my discourse ha_ncreased his abhorrence of the whole species, so he found it gave him _isturbance in his mind to which he was wholly a stranger before.
He thought his ears, being used to such abominable words, might, by degrees,
admit them with less detestation: that although he hated the YAHOOS of thi_ountry, yet he no more blamed them for their odious qualities, than he did _NNAYH (a bird of prey) for its cruelty, or a sharp stone for cutting hi_oof. But when a creature pretending to reason could be capable of suc_normities, he dreaded lest the corruption of that faculty might be worse tha_rutality itself. He seemed therefore confident, that, instead of reason w_ere only possessed of some quality fitted to increase our natural vices; a_he reflection from a troubled stream returns the image of an ill shapen body,
not only larger but more distorted."
He added, "that he had heard too much upon the subject of war, both in thi_nd some former discourses. There was another point, which a little perplexe_im at present. I had informed him, that some of our crew left their countr_n account of being ruined by law; that I had already explained the meaning o_he word; but he was at a loss how it should come to pass, that the law, whic_as intended for every man's preservation, should be any man's ruin. Therefor_e desired to be further satisfied what I meant by law, and the dispenser_hereof, according to the present practice in my own country; because h_hought nature and reason were sufficient guides for a reasonable animal, a_e pretended to be, in showing us what he ought to do, and what to avoid."
I assured his honour, "that the law was a science in which I had not muc_onversed, further than by employing advocates, in vain, upon some injustice_hat had been done me: however, I would give him all the satisfaction I wa_ble."
I said, "there was a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in th_rt of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, an_lack is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest o_he people are slaves. For example, if my neighbour has a mind to my cow, h_as a lawyer to prove that he ought to have my cow from me. I must then hir_nother to defend my right, it being against all rules of law that any ma_hould be allowed to speak for himself. Now, in this case, I, who am the righ_wner, lie under two great disadvantages: first, my lawyer, being practise_lmost from his cradle in defending falsehood, is quite out of his elemen_hen he would be an advocate for justice, which is an unnatural office h_lways attempts with great awkwardness, if not with ill-will. The secon_isadvantage is, that my lawyer must proceed with great caution, or else h_ill be reprimanded by the judges, and abhorred by his brethren, as one tha_ould lessen the practice of the law. And therefore I have but two methods t_reserve my cow. The first is, to gain over my adversary's lawyer with _ouble fee, who will then betray his client by insinuating that he hat_ustice on his side. The second way is for my lawyer to make my cause appea_s unjust as he can, by allowing the cow to belong to my adversary: and this,
if it be skilfully done, will certainly bespeak the favour of the bench. No_our honour is to know, that these judges are persons appointed to decide al_ontroversies of property, as well as for the trial of criminals, and picke_ut from the most dexterous lawyers, who are grown old or lazy; and havin_een biassed all their lives against truth and equity, lie under such a fata_ecessity of favouring fraud, perjury, and oppression, that I have known som_f them refuse a large bribe from the side where justice lay, rather tha_njure the faculty, by doing any thing unbecoming their nature or thei_ffice.
"It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever has been done before, ma_egally be done again: and therefore they take special care to record all th_ecisions formerly made against common justice, and the general reason o_ankind. These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities t_ustify the most iniquitous opinions; and the judges never fail of directin_ccordingly.
"In pleading, they studiously avoid entering into the merits of the cause; bu_re loud, violent, and tedious, in dwelling upon all circumstances which ar_ot to the purpose. For instance, in the case already mentioned; they neve_esire to know what claim or title my adversary has to my cow; but whether th_aid cow were red or black; her horns long or short; whether the field I graz_er in be round or square; whether she was milked at home or abroad; wha_iseases she is subject to, and the like; after which they consult precedents,
adjourn the cause from time to time, and in ten, twenty, or thirty years, com_o an issue.
"It is likewise to be observed, that this society has a peculiar cant an_argon of their own, that no other mortal can understand, and wherein al_heir laws are written, which they take special care to multiply; whereby the_ave wholly confounded the very essence of truth and falsehood, of right an_rong; so that it will take thirty years to decide, whether the field left m_y my ancestors for six generations belongs to me, or to a stranger thre_undred miles off.
"In the trial of persons accused for crimes against the state, the method i_uch more short and commendable: the judge first sends to sound th_isposition of those in power, after which he can easily hang or save _riminal, strictly preserving all due forms of law."
Here my master interposing, said, "it was a pity, that creatures endowed wit_uch prodigious abilities of mind, as these lawyers, by the description I gav_f them, must certainly be, were not rather encouraged to be instructors o_thers in wisdom and knowledge." In answer to which I assured his honour,
"that in all points out of their own trade, they were usually the mos_gnorant and stupid generation among us, the most despicable in commo_onversation, avowed enemies to all knowledge and learning, and equall_isposed to pervert the general reason of mankind in every other subject o_iscourse as in that of their own profession."