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Chapter 8

  • [The author relates several particulars of the YAHOOS. The great virtues o_he HOUYHNHNMS. The education and exercise of their youth. Their genera_ssembly.]
  • As I ought to have understood human nature much better than I supposed i_ossible for my master to do, so it was easy to apply the character he gave o_he YAHOOS to myself and my countrymen; and I believed I could yet mak_urther discoveries, from my own observation. I therefore often begged hi_onour to let me go among the herds of YAHOOS in the neighbourhood; to whic_e always very graciously consented, being perfectly convinced that the hatre_ bore these brutes would never suffer me to be corrupted by them; and hi_onour ordered one of his servants, a strong sorrel nag, very honest and good-
  • natured, to be my guard; without whose protection I durst not undertake suc_dventures. For I have already told the reader how much I was pestered b_hese odious animals, upon my first arrival; and I afterwards failed ver_arrowly, three or four times, of falling into their clutches, when I happene_o stray at any distance without my hanger. And I have reason to believe the_ad some imagination that I was of their own species, which I often assiste_yself by stripping up my sleeves, and showing my naked arms and breasts i_heir sight, when my protector was with me. At which times they would approac_s near as they durst, and imitate my actions after the manner of monkeys, bu_ver with great signs of hatred; as a tame jackdaw with cap and stockings i_lways persecuted by the wild ones, when he happens to be got among them.
  • They are prodigiously nimble from their infancy. However, I once caught _oung male of three years old, and endeavoured, by all marks of tenderness, t_ake it quiet; but the little imp fell a squalling, and scratching, and bitin_ith such violence, that I was forced to let it go; and it was high time, fo_ whole troop of old ones came about us at the noise, but finding the cub wa_afe (for away it ran), and my sorrel nag being by, they durst not ventur_ear us. I observed the young animal's flesh to smell very rank, and the stin_as somewhat between a weasel and a fox, but much more disagreeable. I forgo_nother circumstance (and perhaps I might have the reader's pardon if it wer_holly omitted), that while I held the odious vermin in my hands, it voide_ts filthy excrements of a yellow liquid substance all over my clothes; but b_ood fortune there was a small brook hard by, where I washed myself as clea_s I could; although I durst not come into my master's presence until I wer_ufficiently aired.
  • By what I could discover, the YAHOOS appear to be the most unteachable of al_nimals: their capacity never reaching higher than to draw or carry burdens.
  • Yet I am of opinion, this defect arises chiefly from a perverse, restiv_isposition; for they are cunning, malicious, treacherous, and revengeful.
  • They are strong and hardy, but of a cowardly spirit, and, by consequence,
  • insolent, abject, and cruel. It is observed, that the red haired of both sexe_re more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet they much excee_n strength and activity.
  • The HOUYHNHNMS keep the YAHOOS for present use in huts not far from the house;
  • but the rest are sent abroad to certain fields, where they dig up roots, ea_everal kinds of herbs, and search about for carrion, or sometimes catc_easels and LUHIMUHS (a sort of wild rat), which they greedily devour. Natur_as taught them to dig deep holes with their nails on the side of a risin_round, wherein they lie by themselves; only the kennels of the females ar_arger, sufficient to hold two or three cubs.
  • They swim from their infancy like frogs, and are able to continue long unde_ater, where they often take fish, which the females carry home to thei_oung. And, upon this occasion, I hope the reader will pardon my relating a_dd adventure.
  • Being one day abroad with my protector the sorrel nag, and the weathe_xceeding hot, I entreated him to let me bathe in a river that was near. H_onsented, and I immediately stripped myself stark naked, and went down softl_nto the stream. It happened that a young female YAHOO, standing behind _ank, saw the whole proceeding, and inflamed by desire, as the nag and _onjectured, came running with all speed, and leaped into the water, withi_ive yards of the place where I bathed. I was never in my life so terribl_rightened. The nag was grazing at some distance, not suspecting any harm. Sh_mbraced me after a most fulsome manner. I roared as loud as I could, and th_ag came galloping towards me, whereupon she quitted her grasp, with th_tmost reluctancy, and leaped upon the opposite bank, where she stood gazin_nd howling all the time I was putting on my clothes.
  • This was a matter of diversion to my master and his family, as well as o_ortification to myself. For now I could no longer deny that I was a rea_AHOO in every limb and feature, since the females had a natural propensity t_e, as one of their own species. Neither was the hair of this brute of a re_olour (which might have been some excuse for an appetite a little irregular),
  • but black as a sloe, and her countenance did not make an appearance altogethe_o hideous as the rest of her kind; for I think she could not be above eleve_ears old.
  • Having lived three years in this country, the reader, I suppose, will expec_hat I should, like other travellers, give him some account of the manners an_ustoms of its inhabitants, which it was indeed my principal study to learn.
  • As these noble HOUYHNHNMS are endowed by nature with a general disposition t_ll virtues, and have no conceptions or ideas of what is evil in a rationa_reature, so their grand maxim is, to cultivate reason, and to be wholl_overned by it. Neither is reason among them a point problematical, as wit_s, where men can argue with plausibility on both sides of the question, bu_trikes you with immediate conviction; as it must needs do, where it is no_ingled, obscured, or discoloured, by passion and interest. I remember it wa_ith extreme difficulty that I could bring my master to understand the meanin_f the word opinion, or how a point could be disputable; because reason taugh_s to affirm or deny only where we are certain; and beyond our knowledge w_annot do either. So that controversies, wranglings, disputes, an_ositiveness, in false or dubious propositions, are evils unknown among th_OUYHNHNMS. In the like manner, when I used to explain to him our severa_ystems of natural philosophy, he would laugh, "that a creature pretending t_eason, should value itself upon the knowledge of other people's conjectures,
  • and in things where that knowledge, if it were certain, could be of no use."
  • Wherein he agreed entirely with the sentiments of Socrates, as Plato deliver_hem; which I mention as the highest honour I can do that prince o_hilosophers -I have often since reflected, what destruction such doctrin_ould make in the libraries of Europe; and how many paths of fame would b_hen shut up in the learned world.
  • Friendship and benevolence are the two principal virtues among the HOUYHNHNMS;
  • and these not confined to particular objects, but universal to the whole race;
  • for a stranger from the remotest part is equally treated with the neares_eighbour, and wherever he goes, looks upon himself as at home. They preserv_ecency and civility in the highest degrees, but are altogether ignorant o_eremony. They have no fondness for their colts or foals, but the care the_ake in educating them proceeds entirely from the dictates of reason. And _bserved my master to show the same affection to his neighbour's issue, tha_e had for his own. They will have it that nature teaches them to love th_hole species, and it is reason only that makes a distinction of persons,
  • where there is a superior degree of virtue.
  • When the matron HOUYHNHNMS have produced one of each sex, they no longe_ccompany with their consorts, except they lose one of their issue by som_asualty, which very seldom happens; but in such a case they meet again; o_hen the like accident befalls a person whose wife is past bearing, some othe_ouple bestow on him one of their own colts, and then go together again unti_he mother is pregnant. This caution is necessary, to prevent the country fro_eing overburdened with numbers. But the race of inferior HOUYHNHNMS, bred u_o be servants, is not so strictly limited upon this article: these ar_llowed to produce three of each sex, to be domestics in the noble families.
  • In their marriages, they are exactly careful to choose such colours as wil_ot make any disagreeable mixture in the breed. Strength is chiefly valued i_he male, and comeliness in the female; not upon the account of love, but t_reserve the race from degenerating; for where a female happens to excel i_trength, a consort is chosen, with regard to comeliness.
  • Courtship, love, presents, jointures, settlements have no place in thei_houghts, or terms whereby to express them in their language. The young coupl_eet, and are joined, merely because it is the determination of their parent_nd friends; it is what they see done every day, and they look upon it as on_f the necessary actions of a reasonable being. But the violation of marriage,
  • or any other unchastity, was never heard of; and the married pair pass thei_ives with the same friendship and mutual benevolence, that they bear to al_thers of the same species who come in their way, without jealousy, fondness,
  • quarrelling, or discontent.
  • In educating the youth of both sexes, their method is admirable, and highl_eserves our imitation. These are not suffered to taste a grain of oats,
  • except upon certain days, till eighteen years old; nor milk, but very rarely;
  • and in summer they graze two hours in the morning, and as many in the evening,
  • which their parents likewise observe; but the servants are not allowed abov_alf that time, and a great part of their grass is brought home, which the_at at the most convenient hours, when they can be best spared from work.
  • Temperance, industry, exercise, and cleanliness, are the lessons equall_njoined to the young ones of both sexes: and my master thought it monstrou_n us, to give the females a different kind of education from the males,
  • except in some articles of domestic management; whereby, as he truly observed,
  • one half of our natives were good for nothing but bringing children into th_orld; and to trust the care of our children to such useless animals, he said,
  • was yet a greater instance of brutality.
  • But the HOUYHNHNMS train up their youth to strength, speed, and hardiness, b_xercising them in running races up and down steep hills, and over hard ston_rounds; and when they are all in a sweat, they are ordered to leap over hea_nd ears into a pond or river. Four times a year the youth of a certai_istrict meet to show their proficiency in running and leaping, and othe_eats of strength and agility; where the victor is rewarded with a song in hi_r her praise. On this festival, the servants drive a herd of YAHOOS into th_ield, laden with hay, and oats, and milk, for a repast to the HOUYHNHNMS;
  • after which, these brutes are immediately driven back again, for fear of bein_oisome to the assembly.
  • Every fourth year, at the vernal equinox, there is a representative council o_he whole nation, which meets in a plain about twenty miles from our house,
  • and continues about five or six days. Here they inquire into the state an_ondition of the several districts; whether they abound or be deficient in ha_r oats, or cows, or YAHOOS; and wherever there is any want (which is bu_eldom) it is immediately supplied by unanimous consent and contribution. Her_ikewise the regulation of children is settled: as for instance, if _OUYHNHNM has two males, he changes one of them with another that has tw_emales; and when a child has been lost by any casualty, where the mother i_ast breeding, it is determined what family in the district shall bree_nother to supply the loss.