Charles Herbert Sylvester.

Journeys Through Bookland — Volume 5 online

. (page 4 of 29)
Online LibraryCharles Herbert SylvesterJourneys Through Bookland — Volume 5 → online text (page 4 of 29)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


letter to my friend the secretary, signifying my resolution of setting
out that morning for Blefuscu, pursuant to the leave I had got; and,
without waiting for an answer, I went to that side of the island where
our fleet lay. I seized a large man-of-war, tied a cable to the prow,
and, lifting up the anchors, I stripped myself, put my clothes (together
with my coverlet, which I brought under my arm) into the vessel, and,
drawing it after me, between wading and swimming, arrived at the royal
port of Blefuscu, where the people had long expected me: they lent me
two guides to direct me to the capital city, which is of the same name.
I held them in my hands till I came within two hundred yards of the
gate, and desired them to signify my arrival to one of the secretaries,
and let him know I there waited his majesty's command. I had an answer
in about an hour, that his majesty, attended by the royal family, and
great officers of the court, was coming out to receive me. I advanced a
hundred yards. The emperor and his train alighted from their horses; the
empress and ladies from their coaches; and I did not perceive they were
in any fright or concern. I lay on the ground to kiss his majesty's and
the empress' hand. I told his majesty that I was come, according to my
promise, and with the license of the emperor my master, to have the
honor of seeing so mighty a monarch, and to offer him any service in my
power, consistent with my duty to my own prince; not mentioning a word
of my disgrace, because I had hitherto no regular information of it, and
might suppose myself wholly ignorant of any such design; neither could I
reasonably conceive that the emperor would discover the secret while I
was out of his power.

Three days after my arrival, walking out of curiosity to the northeast
coast of the island, I observed, about half a league off in the sea,
somewhat that looked like a boat overturned. I pulled off my shoes and
stockings, and, wading two or three hundred yards, I found the object to
approach nearer by force of the tide; and then plainly saw it to be a
real boat, which I supposed might by some tempest have been driven from
a ship: whereupon I returned immediately toward the city, and desired
his imperial majesty to lend me twenty of the tallest vessels he had
left, after the loss of his fleet, and three thousand seamen under the
command of the vice-admiral.

This fleet sailed round, while I went back the shortest way to the
coast, where I first discovered the boat. I found the tide had driven it
still nearer. The seamen were all provided with cordage, which I had
beforehand twisted to a sufficient strength. When the ships came up, I
stripped myself, and waded till I came within an hundred yards of the
boat, after which I was forced to swim till I got up to it. The seamen
threw me the end of the cord, which I fastened to a hole in the fore
part of the boat, and the other end to a man-of-war, but I found all my
labor to little purpose; for, being out of my depth, I was not able to
work. In this necessity, I was forced to swim behind, and push the boat
forward, as often as I could, with one of my hands; and the tide
favoring me, I advanced so far that I could just hold up my chin and
feel the ground. I rested two or three minutes, and then gave the boat
another shove, and so on, till the sea was no higher than my armpits,
and now, the most laborious part being over, I took out my other cables,
which were stowed in one of the ships, and fastened them first to the
boat, and then to nine of the vessels which attended me; the wind being
favorable, the seamen towed and I shoved, till we arrived within forty
yards of the shore; and waiting till the tide was out, I got dry to the
boat, and, by the assistance of two thousand men, with ropes and
engines, I made a shift to turn it on its bottom, and found it was but
little damaged.

[Illustration: GULLIVER BRINGS IN THE DRIFTING BOAT]

I shall not trouble the reader with the difficulties I was under, by the
help of certain paddles, which cost me ten days' making, to get my boat
to the royal port of Blefuscu, where a mighty concourse of people
appeared upon my arrival, full of wonder at the sight of so prodigious a
vessel. I told the emperor that my good fortune had thrown this boat in
my way to carry me some place from whence I might return into my native
country; and begged his majesty's orders for getting materials to fit it
up, together with his license to depart; which, after some kind
expostulations, he was pleased to grant.

Five hundred workmen were employed to make two sails to my boat,
according to my directions, by quilting thirteen folds of their
strongest linen together. I was at the pains of making ropes and cables
by twisting ten, twenty or thirty of the thickest and strongest of
theirs. A great stone that I happened to find served me for an anchor. I
had the tallow of three hundred cows for greasing my boat, and other
uses. I was at incredible pains in cutting down some of the largest
timber-trees for oars and masts; wherein I was much assisted by his
majesty's ship carpenters, who helped me in smoothing them after I had
done the rough work.

In about a month, when all was prepared, I sent to receive his majesty's
commands, and to take my leave. The emperor and royal family came out of
the palace: I lay on my face to kiss his hand, which he very graciously
gave me: so did the empress and young princes of the blood. His majesty
presented me with fifty purses of two hundred _sprugs_ apiece,
together with his picture at full length, which I put immediately into
one of my gloves, to keep it from being hurt. The ceremonies at my
departure were too many to trouble the reader with at this time.

I stored the boat with the carcasses of an hundred oxen and three
hundred sheep, with bread and drink proportionable, and as much meat
ready dressed as four hundred cooks could provide. I took with me six
cows and two bulls alive, with as many ewes and rams, intending to carry
them into my own country, and propagate the breed. And, to feed them on
board, I had a good bundle of hay and a bag of corn. I would gladly have
taken a dozen of the natives, but this was a thing which the emperor
would by no means permit; and, besides a diligent search into my
pockets, his majesty engaged my honor not to carry away any of his
subjects, although with their own consent and desire.

Having thus prepared all things as well as I was able, I set sail on the
24th day of September, 1701, at six in the morning; and when I had gone
about four leagues to the northward, the wind being at southeast, at six
in the evening I descried a small island, about half a league to the
northwest. I advanced forward, and cast anchor on the lee-side of the
island, which seemed to be uninhabited. I then took some refreshment,
and went to my rest. I slept well, and I conjecture at least six hours,
for I found the day broke in two hours after I awaked. It was a clear
night. I eat my breakfast before the sun was up; and, heaving anchor,
the wind being favorable, I steered the same course that I had done the
day before, wherein I was directed by my pocket compass. My intention
was to reach, if possible, one of those islands which I had reason to
believe lay to the northeast of Van Diemen's Land.[14]

[Footnote 14: Australia is a short distance from Tasmania, or Van
Diemen's Land. There are no islands to the northeast for a long
distance.]

I discovered nothing all that day; but upon the next, about three in the
afternoon, when I had, by my computation, made twenty-four leagues from
Blefuscu, I described a sail steering to the southeast; my course was
due east. I hailed her, but could get no answer; yet I found I gained
upon her, for the wind slackened. I made all the sail I could, and in
half an hour she spied me, then hung out her ancient,[15] and discharged
a gun. It is not easy to express the joy I was in, upon the unexpected
hope of once more seeing my beloved country, and the dear pledges I left
in it. The ship slackened her sails, and I came up with her between five
and six in the evening, September 26; but my heart leaped within me to
see her English colors. I put my cows and sheep into my coat pockets,
and got on board with all my little cargo of provisions.

[Footnote 15: _Ancient_ is an old word for _ensign_.]

The vessel was an English merchantman, returning from Japan by the North
and South Seas; the captain, Mr. John Biddel of Deptford, a very civil
man and an excellent sailor. We were now in the latitude of thirty
degrees south; there were about fifty men in the ship; and I met an old
comrade of mine, one Peter Williams, who gave me a good character to the
captain. This gentleman treated me with kindness, and desired I would
let him know what place I came from last, and whither I was bound; which
I did in few words, but he thought I was raving, and that the dangers I
underwent had disturbed my head; whereupon I took my black cattle and
sheep out of my pocket, which, after great astonishment, clearly
convinced him of my veracity. I then showed him the gold given me by the
Emperor of Blefuscu, together with his majesty's picture at full length,
and some other rarities of that country. I gave him two purses of two
hundred _sprugs_ each, and promised, when we arrived in England, to
make him a present of a cow and a sheep.

I shall not trouble the reader with a particular account of this voyage,
which was very prosperous for the most part. We arrived in the Downs on
the 13th of April, 1702. I had only one misfortune, that the rats on
board carried away one of my sheep: I found her bones in a hole, picked
clean from the flesh. The rest of my cattle I got safe on shore, and set
them a-grazing in a bowling green at Greenwich, where the fineness of
the grass made them feed very heartily, though I had always feared the
contrary; neither could I possibly have preserved them in so long a
voyage, if the captain had not allowed me some of his best biscuit,
which, rubbed to powder and mingled with water, was their constant food.
The short time I continued in England, I made a considerable profit by
showing my cattle to many persons of quality and others; and before I
began my second voyage, I sold them for six hundred pounds. Since my
last return I find the breed is considerably increased, especially the
sheep, which I hope will prove much to the advantage of the woolen
manufacture, by the fineness of the fleeces.




ADVENTURES IN BROBDINGNAG

_I. Among the Giants_


Having been condemned, by nature and fortune, to an active and restless
life, in two months after my return I again left my native country, and
took shipping in the Downs, on the 20th day of June, 1702, in the
_Adventure_, Captain John Nicholas, a Cornishman, commander, bound
for Surat.

We had a very prosperous gale till we arrived at the Cape of Good Hope,
where we landed for fresh water; but discovering a leak, we unshipped
our goods and wintered there; for the captain falling sick of an ague,
we could not leave the Cape till the end of March. We then set sail, and
had a good voyage till we passed the Straits of Madagascar; but having
got northward of that island, and to about five degrees south latitude,
the winds, which in those seas are observed to blow a constant equal
gale between the north and west, from the beginning of December to the
beginning of May, on the 19th of April began to blow with much greater
violence, and more westerly than usual, continuing so for twenty days
together; during which time we were driven a little to the east of the
Molucca Islands,[16] and about three degrees northward of the line, as
our captain found by an observation he took the 2d of May, at which time
the wind ceased, and it was a perfect calm; whereat I was not a little
rejoiced. But he, being a man well experienced in the navigation of
those seas, bid us all prepare against a storm, which accordingly
happened the day following; for a southern wind, called the Southern
monsoon,[17] began to set in, and soon it was a very fierce storm.

[Footnote 16: They could not really have been driven to the east of the
Molucca Islands without passing Sumatra, Java, Borneo or other islands.]

[Footnote 17: _Monsoons_ are winds that blow part of the year in
one direction, and the rest of the year in the opposite direction.]

During this storm, which was followed by a strong wind west-southwest,
we were carried, by my computation, about five hundred leagues to the
east, so that the oldest sailor on board could not tell in what part of
the world we were. Our provisions held out well, our ship was staunch,
and our crew all in good health; but we lay in the utmost distress for
water. We thought it best to hold on the same course, rather than turn
more northerly, which might have brought us to the northwest parts of
Great Tartary, and into the Frozen Sea.

On the 16th day of June, 1703, a boy on the topmast discovered land. On
the 17th we came in full view of a great island, or continent (for we
knew not whether), on the south side whereof was a small neck of land
jutting out into the sea, and a creek too shallow to hold a ship of
above one hundred tons. We cast anchor within a league of this creek,
and our captain sent a dozen of his men well armed in the longboat, with
vessels for water, if any could be found. I desired his leave to go with
them, that I might see the country, and make what discoveries I could.

When we came to land we saw no river or spring, nor any sign of
inhabitants. Our men therefore wandered on the shore to find out some
fresh water near the sea, and I walked alone about a mile on the other
side, where I observed the country all barren and rocky. I now began to
be weary, and, seeing nothing to entertain my curiosity, I returned
gently down toward the creek; and the sea being full in my view, I saw
our men already got into the boat, and rowing for life to the ship.

I was going to halloo after them, although it had been to little
purpose, when I observed a huge creature walking after them in the sea,
as fast as he could; he waded not much deeper than his knees, and took
prodigious strides; but our men had got the start of him half a league,
and the sea thereabouts being full of sharp-pointed rocks, the monster
was not able to overtake the boat. This I was afterward told, for I
durst not stay to see the issue of that adventure; but ran as fast as I
could the way I first went, and then climbed up a steep hill, which gave
me some prospect of the country. I found it fully cultivated; but that
which first surprised me was the length of the grass, which in those
grounds that seemed to be kept for hay was above twenty foot high.

I fell into a highroad, for so I took it to be, though it served to the
inhabitants only as a footpath through a field of barley. Here I walked
on for some time, but could see little on either side, it being now near
harvest, and the corn rising at least forty foot. I was an hour walking
to the end of this field, which was fenced in with a hedge of at least
one hundred and twenty foot high, and the trees so lofty that I could
make no computation of their altitude. There was a stile to pass from
this field into the next. It had four steps, and a stone to cross over
when you came to the uppermost. It was impossible for me to climb this
stile, because every step was six foot high, and the upper stone above
twenty.

I was endeavoring to find some gap in the hedge, when I discovered one
of the inhabitants in the next field, advancing toward the stile, of the
same size with him whom I saw in the sea pursuing our boat. He appeared
as tall as an ordinary spire steeple, and took about ten yards at every
stride, as near as I could guess. I was struck with the utmost fear and
astonishment, and ran to hide myself in the corn, from whence I saw him
at the top of the stile, looking back into the next field on the right
hand, and heard him call in a voice many degrees louder than a
speaking-trumpet; but the noise was so high in the air that at first I
certainly thought it was thunder. Whereupon seven monsters, like
himself, came toward him with reaping hooks in their hands, each hook
about the largeness of six scythes. These people were not so well clad
as the first, whose servants or laborers they seemed to be; for, upon
some words he spoke, they went to reap the corn in the field where I
lay.

I kept from them at as great a distance as I could, but was forced to
move with extreme difficulty, for the stalks of the corn were sometimes
not above a foot distant, so that I could hardly squeeze my body betwixt
them. However, I made a shift to go forward till I came to a part of the
field where the corn had been laid by the rain and wind. Here it was
impossible for me to advance a step; for the stalks were so interwoven
that I could not creep through, and the beards of the fallen ears so
strong and pointed that they pierced through my clothes into my flesh.
At the same time I heard the reapers not above an hundred yards behind
me. Being quite dispirited with toil, and wholly overcome by grief and
despair, I lay down between two ridges, and heartily wished I might
there end my days. I bemoaned my desolate widow and fatherless children.
I lamented my own folly and willfulness in attempting a second voyage,
against the advice of all my friends and relations. In this terrible
agitation of mind I could not forbear thinking of Lilliput, whose
inhabitants looked upon me as the greatest prodigy that ever appeared in
the world; where I was able to draw an imperial fleet in my hand, and
perform those other actions which will be recorded forever in the
chronicles of that empire, while posterity shall hardly believe them,
although attested by millions. I reflected what a mortification it must
prove to me to appear as inconsiderable in this nation as one single
Lilliputian would be among us. But this I conceived was to be the least
of my misfortunes; for, as human creatures are observed to be more
savage and cruel in proportion to their bulk, what could I expect but to
be a morsel in the mouth of the first among these enormous barbarians
that should happen to seize me? Undoubtedly philosophers are in the
right when they tell us that nothing is great or little otherwise than
by comparison. It might have pleased fortune to let the Lilliputians
find some nation, where the people were as diminutive with respect to
them as they were to me. And who knows but that even this prodigious
race of mortals might be equally overmatched in some distant part of the
world, whereof we have yet no discovery.

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 trod 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 may not be able either to scratch or to bite him, as I myself have
sometimes done with a weasel in England.

At length he ventured to take me up behind, by the middle, between his
forefinger 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 foot from the
ground, although he grievously pinched my sides, for fear I should slip
through his fingers. All I ventured was to raise mine eyes toward the
sun, and place my hands together in a supplicating posture, and to speak
some words in an humble, melancholy tone, suitable to the condition I
then was in; for I apprehended every moment that he would dash me
against the ground, as we usually do any little hateful 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 began to look upon me as a
curiosity, much wondering to hear me pronounce articulate words,
although he could not understand them. In the meantime I was not able to
forbear groaning and shedding tears, and turning my head toward 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 supposed by their talk) received such an account
of me as his servant could give him, took a piece of a 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. He blew my hairs aside to take a better view of my
face. He called his hinds about him, and asked them, as I afterward
learned, whether they had ever seen in the fields any little creature
that resembled me. He then placed me softly on the ground upon all four,
but I got immediately up, and walked slowly backward and forward, to let
those people see I had no intent to run away.

They all sate down in a circle about me, the better to observe my
motions. I pulled off my hat, and made a low bow toward the farmer. I
fell on my knees, and 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 afterward turned it
several times with the point of a pin (which he took out of his sleeve),
but could make nothing of it. Whereupon I made a sign that he should
place his hand on the ground. I then took the purse, and opening it,
poured all the gold into his palm. There were six Spanish pieces of four
pistoles[18] each, besides twenty or thirty smaller coins. I saw him wet
the tip of his little finger upon his tongue, and 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 to him several
times, I thought it best to do.

[Footnote 18: A _pistole_ is equivalent to about four dollars.]

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 yards 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 that I desired his son
might 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 this
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 foot off; and although my mistress held her fast, for
fear she might give a 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 fierce 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 draw herself back, as if she were more afraid of me.

I had less apprehension concerning the dogs, whereof three or four came



Online LibraryCharles Herbert SylvesterJourneys Through Bookland — Volume 5 → online text (page 4 of 29)