Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

reasons to believe that this visit from his Majesty gave Flimnap an opportunity of doing me ill offices to his master. The minister had always been my secret enemy, though he outwardly caressed me more than was usual to the moroseness of his nature. He represented to the emperor the condition of his treasury: that he was forced to take up money at a great discount; that exchequer bills would not circulate under nine per cent below par; that I had cost his Majesty above a million and a half of sprugs (their greatest gold coin, about the bigness of a spangle); and upon the whole, that it would be advisable in the emperor to take the first fair occasion of dismissing me.”

On his next voyage after his return from Lilliput, Gulliver encounters a shipwreck which throws him on the coast of Brobdingnag, or the giants' country. In saving himself from the wreck, he has seen a huge monster wading in the surf, but escapes from him and makes his way to a field of gigantic grain, whose stalks are forty feet high. As he is floundering about in this field of grain like a man in a pathless forest, there come into it a party of reapers, each as high as an ordinary church steeple, who stride ten yards at each step. Gulliver at once reflects that he would be as much of a pygmy to these people as the Lilliputians had been pygmies to him; and hiding in the grain, he begins to philosophize that nothing is either great or little except by comparison. He goes on thus:

1

“Scared and confounded as I was, I could not forbear going on with these reflections, when one of the reapers approaching within ten yards of the ridge where I lay, made me apprehend that with the next step I should be squashed to death under his foot, or cut in two with his reaping-hook; and, therefore, when he was again about to move, I screamed as loud as fear could make me; whereupon the huge creature stopped short, and looking round about under him for some time, at last espied me as I lay on the ground. He considered awhile, with the caution of one who endeavors to lay hold on a small, dangerous animal in such a manner that it shall not be able either to scratch or bite him, as I myself have sometimes done with a weasel in England. At length he ventured to take me behind, by the middle, between his finger and thumb, and brought me within three yards of his eyes, that he might behold my shape more

perfectly. I guessed his meaning, and my good fortune gave me so much presence of mind that I resolved not to struggle in the least, as he held me in the air above sixty feet from the ground, though he grievously pinched my sides, for fear I should slip through his fingers. All I ventured was to raise mine eyes towards the sun, and place my hands together in a supplicating posture, and to speak some words in a humble, melancholy tone, suitable to the condition I was now in; for I apprehended every moment that he would dash me against the ground, as we do some hateful little animal which we have a mind to destroy. But my good star would have it that he appeared pleased with my voice and gestures, and begun to look on me as a curiosity, much wondering to hear me pronounce articulate words, although he could not understand them. In the mean time I was not able to forbear groaning and shedding tears, and turning my head towards my sides, letting him know, as well as I could, how cruelly I was hurt by the pressure of his thumb and finger. He seemed to apprehend my meaning, for, lifting up the lappet of his coat, he put me gently into it, and immediately ran along with me to his master, who was a substantial farmer, and the same person I had first seen in the field.

“ The farmer, having (as I suppose by their talk) received such an account of me as his servant could give him, took a piece of small straw about the size of a walking-staff, and therewith lifted up the lappets of my coat, which it seems he thought to be some kind of covering that nature had given me. blew my hair aside to get a better view of my face; he called his hinds about him and asked them, as I afterwards learned, whether they had ever seen in the fields any little creature that resembled me;' he then placed me softly on the ground on all fours; but I immediately got up and walked slowly backward and forward to let him see I had no intent to run away. They all sat down in a circle about me, the better to observe my motions. I pulled off my hat and made a low bow to the farmer ; I fell on my knees, lifted up my hands and eyes, and spoke several words as loud as I could ; I took a purse of gold out of my pocket and humbly presented it to him. He received it on the palm of his hand, then applied it close to his eye, to see what it was, and afterwards turned it several times with the point of a pin, but could make nothing of it; whereupon I made a sign that he should put his hand upon the ground; I then took the purse, and opening it, poured all the gold into his palm. I saw him wet the tip of his finger upon his tongue and

He

6

4

a

take up one of my largest pieces, and then another; but he seemed to be wholly ignorant what they were.

He made me a sign to put them again into my purse, and the purse again into my pocket, which, after offering it to him several times, I thought it best to do.

“ The farmer by this time was convinced I must be a rational creature. He spoke often to me, but the sound of his voice pierced my ears like that of a water-mill ; yet his words were articulate enough. I answered as loud as I could in several languages, and he often laid his ear within two feet of me; but all in vain, for we were wholly unintelligible to each other. He then sent his servants to their work, and taking his handkerchief out of his pocket, he doubled it and spread it on his left hand, which he placed flat on the ground, with palm upwards, making me a sign to step into it, as I could easily do, for it was not above a foot in thickness. I thought it my part to obey; and for fear of falling, laid myself at full length upon the handkerchief, with the remainder of which he lapped me up to the head for further security, and in this manner he carried me home to his house. There he called his wife and showed me to her ; but she screamed and ran back, as women in England do at the sight of a toad or spider. However, when she had awhile seen my behavior and how well I observed the signs her husband made, she was soon reconciled, and by degrees became extremely tender to me. “ It was about twelve at noon, and a servant brought in din

It was only one substantial dish of meat (fit for the plain condition of a husbandman), in a dish of about four and twenty feet diameter. The company were the farmer and his wife, three children, and an old grandmother. When they sat down, the farmer placed me at some distance from him on the table, which was thirty feet high from the floor. I was in a terrible fright, and kept as far as I could from the edge, for fear of falling. The wife minced a bit of meat, then crumbled some bread on a trencher, and placed it before me. I made her a low bow, took out my knife and fork, and fell to eat, which gave them exceeding delight. The mistress sent her mai small dram-cup which held about two gallons, and filled it with drink; I took up the vessel with much difficulty in both hands, and in a most respectful manner drank to her ladyship’s health, expressing the words as loud as I could in English, which made the company laugh so heartily that I was almost deafened with the noise. This liquor tasted like a small cider, and was not unpleasant. Then the master made me a sign to

ner.

a

for a

come to his trencher side; but as I walked on the table, being in great surprise all the time, as the indulgent reader will easily conceive and excuse, I happened to stumble against a crust and fell flat on my face, but received no hurt. I got up immediately, and observing the good people to be in much concern, I took my hat (which I held under my arm out of good manners), and waving it over my head, made three huzzas to show that I had got no mischief by my fall.

“But advancing forward towards my master (as I shall henceforth call him), his youngest son, who sat next to him, an arch boy of about ten years old, took me up by the legs and held me so high in the air that I trembled in every limb; but his father snatched me from him, and at the same time gave

him such a box on the left ear as would have felled a European troop of horse to the earth, ordering him to be taken from the table. But being afraid the boy might owe me a spite, and well remembering how mischievous all children among us are to sparrows, rabbits, young kittens, and puppy dogs, I fell on my knees, and pointing to the boy, made my master to understand as well as I could that I desired his son should be pardoned. The father complied, and the lad took his seat again; whereupon I went to him and kissed his hand, which my master took, and made him stroke me gently with it.

“In the midst of dinner my mistress' favorite cat leaped into her lap. I heard a noise behind me like that of a dozen stocking-weavers at work, and turning my head, I found it proceeded from the purring of that animal, who seemed to be three times larger than an ox, as I computed by the view of her head and one of her paws, while her mistress was feeding and stroking her. The fierceness of this creature's countenance altogether discomposed me, though I stood at the further end of the table, above fifty feet off, and although my mistress held her fast, for fear she would spring and seize me in her talons. But it happened there was no danger, for the cat took not the least notice of me when my master placed me within three yards of her. And, as I have been always told, and found true by experience in my travels, that flying or discovering fear before a strange animal is a certain way to make it pursue or attack you, so I resolved in this dangerous juncture to show no manner of concern. I walked with intrepidity five or six times before the very head of the cat, and came within half a yard of her, whereupon she drew herself back as if afraid of me. I had less apprehension concerning the dogs, whereof three or four came into the room, as is usual in farmers' houses, one of

1 1

which was a mastiff, equal in bulk to four elephants, and a greyhound, somewhat taller than the mastiff, but not so large."

It must be kept in mind while reading the account of Gulliver's life in Brobdingnag that he was a man six feet in height, and proportionately large, otherwise he will assume to us only Lilliputian size. The whole account of his life there is very amusing, — how he was made a pet of by his master's little daughter Glumdalclitch, who fitted up her doll's cradle for him ; how he had a padded box to travel in, which was carried about by Glumdalclitch; how his master made a show of him through the kingdom of the Brobdingnagians; together with many other interesting adventures, till he finally escapes and gets home again.

Gulliver makes several other voyages besides these which we have read of, one to a flying island called Laputa; another to the land of the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos, in which horses are the superior race of animals, and man the inferior. But none are so interesting as those to Lilliput and Brobdingnag, and the story of Gulliver will always be that by which the great Dean Swift will be longest remembered.

XLI.

ENGLISH COMEDY WRITERS, CONGREVE, VANBRUGH, AND

FARQUHAR.

THR

HREE of the most brilliant comedy writers in English

were contemporaries of Pope, Swift, and Addison ; these were Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar, whose lively, brilliant, pointed style in their dialogue comes nearest to the brightness of French comedy, of anything we have ever had in our literature. Almost every sentence spoken by their characters is so sharp with wit that the dialogue reads like a string of epigrams. It is a pity that so much genius was lavished on works of which the motive is coarse and repulsive. Not one of the comedies of this

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »