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Chapter 6

  • Of the inhabitants of Lilliput; their learning, laws, and customs; the manne_f educating their children. The author's way of living in that country. Hi_indication of a great lady.
  • Although I intend to leave the description of this empire to a particula_reatise, yet, in the mean time, I am content to gratify the curious reade_ith some general ideas. As the common size of the natives is somewhat unde_ix inches high, so there is an exact proportion in all other animals, as wel_s plants and trees: for instance, the tallest horses and oxen are betwee_our and five inches in height, the sheep an inch and half, more or less:
  • their geese about the bigness of a sparrow, and so the several gradation_ownwards till you come to the smallest, which to my sight, were almos_nvisible; but nature has adapted the eyes of the Lilliputians to all object_roper for their view: they see with great exactness, but at no grea_istance. And, to show the sharpness of their sight towards objects that ar_ear, I have been much pleased with observing a cook pulling a lark, which wa_ot so large as a common fly; and a young girl threading an invisible needl_ith invisible silk. Their tallest trees are about seven feet high: I mea_ome of those in the great royal park, the tops whereof I could but just reac_ith my fist clenched. The other vegetables are in the same proportion; bu_his I leave to the reader's imagination.
  • I shall say but little at present of their learning, which, for many ages, ha_lourished in all its branches among them: but their manner of writing is ver_eculiar, being neither from the left to the right, like the Europeans, no_rom the right to the left, like the Arabians, nor from up to down, like th_hinese, but aslant, from one corner of the paper to the other, like ladies i_ngland.
  • They bury their dead with their heads directly downward, because they hold a_pinion, that in eleven thousand moons they are all to rise again; in whic_eriod the earth (which they conceive to be flat) will turn upside down, an_y this means they shall, at their resurrection, be found ready standing o_heir feet. The learned among them confess the absurdity of this doctrine; bu_he practice still continues, in compliance to the vulgar.
  • There are some laws and customs in this empire very peculiar; and if they wer_ot so directly contrary to those of my own dear country, I should be tempte_o say a little in their justification. It is only to be wished they were a_ell executed. The first I shall mention, relates to informers. All crime_gainst the state, are punished here with the utmost severity; but, if th_erson accused makes his innocence plainly to appear upon his trial, th_ccuser is immediately put to an ignominious death; and out of his goods o_ands the innocent person is quadruply recompensed for the loss of his time,
  • for the danger he underwent, for the hardship of his imprisonment, and for al_he charges he has been at in making his defence; or, if that fund b_eficient, it is largely supplied by the crown. The emperor also confers o_im some public mark of his favour, and proclamation is made of his innocenc_hrough the whole city.
  • They look upon fraud as a greater crime than theft, and therefore seldom fai_o punish it with death; for they allege, that care and vigilance, with a ver_ommon understanding, may preserve a man's goods from thieves, but honesty ha_o defence against superior cunning; and, since it is necessary that ther_hould be a perpetual intercourse of buying and selling, and dealing upo_redit, where fraud is permitted and connived at, or has no law to punish it,
  • the honest dealer is always undone, and the knave gets the advantage. _emember, when I was once interceding with the emperor for a criminal who ha_ronged his master of a great sum of money, which he had received by order an_an away with; and happening to tell his majesty, by way of extenuation, tha_t was only a breach of trust, the emperor thought it monstrous in me to offe_s a defence the greatest aggravation of the crime; and truly I had little t_ay in return, farther than the common answer, that different nations ha_ifferent customs; for, I confess, I was heartily ashamed. (2)
  • Although we usually call reward and punishment the two hinges upon which al_overnment turns, yet I could never observe this maxim to be put in practic_y any nation except that of Lilliput. Whoever can there bring sufficien_roof, that he has strictly observed the laws of his country for seventy-thre_oons, has a claim to certain privileges, according to his quality o_ondition of life, with a proportionable sum of money out of a fun_ppropriated for that use: he likewise acquires the title of SNILPALL, o_egal, which is added to his name, but does not descend to his posterity. An_hese people thought it a prodigious defect of policy among us, when I tol_hem that our laws were enforced only by penalties, without any mention o_eward. It is upon this account that the image of Justice, in their courts o_udicature, is formed with six eyes, two before, as many behind, and on eac_ide one, to signify circumspection; with a bag of gold open in her righ_and, and a sword sheathed in her left, to show she is more disposed to rewar_han to punish.
  • In choosing persons for all employments, they have more regard to good moral_han to great abilities; for, since government is necessary to mankind, the_elieve, that the common size of human understanding is fitted to some statio_r other; and that Providence never intended to make the management of publi_ffairs a mystery to be comprehended only by a few persons of sublime genius,
  • of which there seldom are three born in an age: but they suppose truth,
  • justice, temperance, and the like, to be in every man's power; the practice o_hich virtues, assisted by experience and a good intention, would qualify an_an for the service of his country, except where a course of study i_equired. But they thought the want of moral virtues was so far from bein_upplied by superior endowments of the mind, that employments could never b_ut into such dangerous hands as those of persons so qualified; and, at least,
  • that the mistakes committed by ignorance, in a virtuous disposition, woul_ever be of such fatal consequence to the public weal, as the practices of _an, whose inclinations led him to be corrupt, and who had great abilities t_anage, to multiply, and defend his corruptions.
  • In like manner, the disbelief of a Divine Providence renders a man incapabl_f holding any public station; for, since kings avow themselves to be th_eputies of Providence, the Lilliputians think nothing can be more absurd tha_or a prince to employ such men as disown the authority under which he acts.
  • In relating these and the following laws, I would only be understood to mea_he original institutions, and not the most scandalous corruptions, into whic_hese people are fallen by the degenerate nature of man. For, as to tha_nfamous practice of acquiring great employments by dancing on the ropes, o_adges of favour and distinction by leaping over sticks and creeping unde_hem, the reader is to observe, that they were first introduced by th_randfather of the emperor now reigning, and grew to the present height by th_radual increase of party and faction.
  • Ingratitude is among them a capital crime, as we read it to have been in som_ther countries: for they reason thus; that whoever makes ill returns to hi_enefactor, must needs be a common enemy to the rest of mankind, from whom h_as received no obligation, and therefore such a man is not fit to live.
  • Their notions relating to the duties of parents and children differ extremel_rom ours. For, since the conjunction of male and female is founded upon th_reat law of nature, in order to propagate and continue the species, th_illiputians will needs have it, that men and women are joined together, lik_ther animals, by the motives of concupiscence; and that their tendernes_owards their young proceeds from the like natural principle: for which reaso_hey will never allow that a child is under any obligation to his father fo_egetting him, or to his mother for bringing him into the world; which,
  • considering the miseries of human life, was neither a benefit in itself, no_ntended so by his parents, whose thoughts, in their love encounters, wer_therwise employed. Upon these, and the like reasonings, their opinion is,
  • that parents are the last of all others to be trusted with the education o_heir own children; and therefore they have in every town public nurseries,
  • where all parents, except cottagers and labourers, are obliged to send thei_nfants of both sexes to be reared and educated, when they come to the age o_wenty moons, at which time they are supposed to have some rudiments o_ocility. These schools are of several kinds, suited to different qualities,
  • and both sexes. They have certain professors well skilled in preparin_hildren for such a condition of life as befits the rank of their parents, an_heir own capacities, as well as inclinations. I shall first say something o_he male nurseries, and then of the female.
  • The nurseries for males of noble or eminent birth, are provided with grave an_earned professors, and their several deputies. The clothes and food of th_hildren are plain and simple. They are bred up in the principles of honour,
  • justice, courage, modesty, clemency, religion, and love of their country; the_re always employed in some business, except in the times of eating an_leeping, which are very short, and two hours for diversions consisting o_odily exercises. They are dressed by men till four years of age, and then ar_bliged to dress themselves, although their quality be ever so great; and th_omen attendant, who are aged proportionably to ours at fifty, perform onl_he most menial offices. They are never suffered to converse with servants,
  • but go together in smaller or greater numbers to take their diversions, an_lways in the presence of a professor, or one of his deputies; whereby the_void those early bad impressions of folly and vice, to which our children ar_ubject.
  • Their parents are suffered to see them only twice a year; the visit is to las_ut an hour; they are allowed to kiss the child at meeting and parting; but _rofessor, who always stands by on those occasions, will not suffer them t_hisper, or use any fondling expressions, or bring any presents of toys,
  • sweetmeats, and the like.
  • The pension from each family for the education and entertainment of a child,
  • upon failure of due payment, is levied by the emperor's officers.
  • The nurseries for children of ordinary gentlemen, merchants, traders, an_andicrafts, are managed proportionably after the same manner; only thos_esigned for trades are put out apprentices at eleven years old, whereas thos_f persons of quality continue in their exercises till fifteen, which answer_o twenty-one with us: but the confinement is gradually lessened for the las_hree years.
  • In the female nurseries, the young girls of quality are educated much like th_ales, only they are dressed by orderly servants of their own sex; but alway_n the presence of a professor or deputy, till they come to dress themselves,
  • which is at five years old. And if it be found that these nurses ever presum_o entertain the girls with frightful or foolish stories, or the commo_ollies practised by chambermaids among us, they are publicly whipped thric_bout the city, imprisoned for a year, and banished for life to the mos_esolate part of the country. Thus the young ladies are as much ashamed o_eing cowards and fools as the men, and despise all personal ornaments, beyon_ecency and cleanliness: neither did I perceive any difference in thei_ducation made by their difference of sex, only that the exercises of th_emales were not altogether so robust; and that some rules were given the_elating to domestic life, and a smaller compass of learning was enjoine_hem: for their maxim is, that among peoples of quality, a wife should b_lways a reasonable and agreeable companion, because she cannot always b_oung. When the girls are twelve years old, which among them is th_arriageable age, their parents or guardians take them home, with grea_xpressions of gratitude to the professors, and seldom without tears of th_oung lady and her companions.
  • In the nurseries of females of the meaner sort, the children are instructed i_ll kinds of works proper for their sex, and their several degrees: thos_ntended for apprentices are dismissed at seven years old, the rest are kep_o eleven.
  • The meaner families who have children at these nurseries, are obliged, beside_heir annual pension, which is as low as possible, to return to the steward o_he nursery a small monthly share of their gettings, to be a portion for th_hild; and therefore all parents are limited in their expenses by the law. Fo_he Lilliputians think nothing can be more unjust, than for people, i_ubservience to their own appetites, to bring children into the world, an_eave the burthen of supporting them on the public. As to persons of quality,
  • they give security to appropriate a certain sum for each child, suitable t_heir condition; and these funds are always managed with good husbandry an_he most exact justice.
  • The cottagers and labourers keep their children at home, their business bein_nly to till and cultivate the earth, and therefore their education is o_ittle consequence to the public:
  • but the old and diseased among them, are supported by hospitals; for beggin_s a trade unknown in this empire.
  • And here it may, perhaps, divert the curious reader, to give some account o_y domestics, and my manner of living in this country, during a residence o_ine months, and thirteen days. Having a head mechanically turned, and bein_ikewise forced by necessity, I had made for myself a table and chai_onvenient enough, out of the largest trees in the royal park. Two hundre_empstresses were employed to make me shirts, and linen for my bed and table,
  • all of the strongest and coarsest kind they could get; which, however, the_ere forced to quilt together in several folds, for the thickest was som_egrees finer than lawn. Their linen is usually three inches wide, and thre_eet make a piece. The sempstresses took my measure as I lay on the ground,
  • one standing at my neck, and another at my mid-leg, with a strong cor_xtended, that each held by the end, while a third measured the length of th_ord with a rule of an inch long. Then they measured my right thumb, an_esired no more; for by a mathematical computation, that twice round the thum_s once round the wrist, and so on to the neck and the waist, and by the hel_f my old shirt, which I displayed on the ground before them for a pattern,
  • they fitted me exactly. Three hundred tailors were employed in the same manne_o make me clothes; but they had another contrivance for taking my measure. _neeled down, and they raised a ladder from the ground to my neck; upon thi_adder one of them mounted, and let fall a plumb-line from my collar to th_loor, which just answered the length of my coat: but my waist and arms _easured myself. When my clothes were finished, which was done in my house
  • (for the largest of theirs would not have been able to hold them), they looke_ike the patch-work made by the ladies in England, only that mine were all o_ colour.
  • I had three hundred cooks to dress my victuals, in little convenient hut_uilt about my house, where they and their families lived, and prepared me tw_ishes a-piece. I took up twenty waiters in my hand, and placed them on th_able: a hundred more attended below on the ground, some with dishes of meat,
  • and some with barrels of wine and other liquors slung on their shoulders; al_hich the waiters above drew up, as I wanted, in a very ingenious manner, b_ertain cords, as we draw the bucket up a well in Europe. A dish of their mea_as a good mouthful, and a barrel of their liquor a reasonable draught. Thei_utton yields to ours, but their beef is excellent. I have had a sirloin s_arge, that I have been forced to make three bites of it; but this is rare. M_ervants were astonished to see me eat it, bones and all, as in our country w_o the leg of a lark. Their geese and turkeys I usually ate at a mouthful, an_ confess they far exceed ours. Of their smaller fowl I could take up twent_r thirty at the end of my knife.
  • One day his imperial majesty, being informed of my way of living, desired
  • "that himself and his royal consort, with the young princes of the blood o_oth sexes, might have the happiness," as he was pleased to call it, "o_ining with me." They came accordingly, and I placed them in chairs of state,
  • upon my table, just over against me, with their guards about them. Flimnap,
  • the lord high treasurer, attended there likewise with his white staff; and _bserved he often looked on me with a sour countenance, which I would not see_o regard, but ate more than usual, in honour to my dear country, as well a_o fill the court with admiration. I have some private reasons to believe,
  • that this visit from his majesty gave Flimnap an opportunity of doing me il_ffices to his master. That minister had always been my secret enemy, thoug_e outwardly caressed me more than was usual to the moroseness of his nature.
  • He represented to the emperor "the low condition of his treasury; that he wa_orced to take up money at a great discount; that exchequer bills would no_irculate under nine per cent. below par; that I had cost his majesty above _illion and a half of SPRUGS" (their greatest gold coin, about the bigness o_ spangle) "and, upon the whole, that it would be advisable in the emperor t_ake the first fair occasion of dismissing me."
  • I am here obliged to vindicate the reputation of an excellent lady, who was a_nnocent sufferer upon my account. The treasurer took a fancy to be jealous o_is wife, from the malice of some evil tongues, who informed him that he_race had taken a violent affection for my person; and the court scandal ra_or some time, that she once came privately to my lodging. This I solemnl_eclare to be a most infamous falsehood, without any grounds, further tha_hat her grace was pleased to treat me with all innocent marks of freedom an_riendship. I own she came often to my house, but always publicly, nor eve_ithout three more in the coach, who were usually her sister and youn_aughter, and some particular acquaintance; but this was common to many othe_adies of the court. And I still appeal to my servants round, whether they a_ny time saw a coach at my door, without knowing what persons were in it. O_hose occasions, when a servant had given me notice, my custom was to g_mmediately to the door, and, after paying my respects, to take up the coac_nd two horses very carefully in my hands (for, if there were six horses, th_ostillion always unharnessed four,) and place them on a table, where I ha_ixed a movable rim quite round, of five inches high, to prevent accidents.
  • And I have often had four coaches and horses at once on my table, full o_ompany, while I sat in my chair, leaning my face towards them; and when I wa_ngaged with one set, the coachmen would gently drive the others round m_able. I have passed many an afternoon very agreeably in these conversations.
  • But I defy the treasurer, or his two informers (I will name them, and let the_ake the best of it) Clustril and Drunlo, to prove that any person ever cam_o me INCOGNITO, except the secretary Reldresal, who was sent by expres_ommand of his imperial majesty, as I have before related. I should not hav_welt so long upon this particular, if it had not been a point wherein th_eputation of a great lady is so nearly concerned, to say nothing of my own;
  • though I then had the honour to be a NARDAC, which the treasurer himself i_ot; for all the world knows, that he is only a GLUMGLUM, a title inferior b_ne degree, as that of a marquis is to a duke in England; yet I allow h_receded me in right of his post. These false informations, which I afterward_ame to the knowledge of by an accident not proper to mention, made th_reasurer show his lady for some time an ill countenance, and me a worse; an_lthough he was at last undeceived and reconciled to her, yet I lost al_redit with him, and found my interest decline very fast with the empero_imself, who was, indeed, too much governed by that favourite.