SWIFT JONATHAN

Title:GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Subject:ENGLISH FICTION Scarica il testo


1726
GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
by Jonathan Swift
A LETTER FROM CAPTAIN GULLIVER TO HIS COUSIN SYMPSON

I hope you will be ready to own publicly, whenever you shall be
called to it, that by your great and frequent urgency you prevailed on
me to publish a very loose and uncorrect account of my travels; with
direction to hire some young gentlemen of either university to put
them in order, and correct the style, as my cousin Dampier did by my
advice, in his book called A Voyage round the World. But I do not
remember I gave you power to consent that any thing should be omitted,
and much less that any thing should be inserted: therefore, as to
the latter, I do here renounce every thing of that kind;
particularly a paragraph about her Majesty the late Queen Anne, of
most pious and glorious memory; although I did reverence and esteem
her more than any of human species. But you, or your interpolator,
ought to have considered, that as it was not my inclination, so was it
not decent to praise any animal of our composition before my master
Houyhnhnm: and besides the fact was altogether false; for to my
knowledge, being in England during some part of her Majesty's reign,
she did govern by a chief minister; nay, even by two successively; the
first whereof was the Lord of Godolphin, and the second the Lord of
Oxford; so that you have made me say the thing that was not. Likewise,
in the account of the Academy of Projectors, and several passages of
my discourse to my master Houyhnhnm, you have either omitted some
material circumstances, or minced or changed them in such a manner,
that I do hardly know my own work. When I formerly hinted to you
something of this in a letter, you were pleased to answer that you
were afraid of giving offense; that people in power were very watchful
over the press, and apt not only to interpret, but to punish every
thing which looked like an innuendo (as I think you called it). But
pray, how could that which I spoke so many years ago, and at about
five thousand leagues distance, in another reign, be applied to any of
the Yahoos who now are said to govern the herd; especially at a time
when I little thought on or feared the unhappiness of living under
them? Have not I the most reason to complain, when I see these very
Yahoos carried by Houyhnhnms in a vehicle, as if these were brutes,
and those the rational creatures? And indeed, to avoid so monstrous
and detestable a sight was one principal motive of my retirement
hither.
Thus much I thought proper to tell you in relation to yourself,
and to the trust I reposed in you.
I do in the next place complain of my own great want of judgement,
in being prevailed upon by the entreaties and false reasonings of
you and some others, very much against my own opinion, to suffer my
travels to be published. Pray bring to your mind how often I desired
you to consider, when you insisted on the motive of public good;
that the Yahoos were a species of animals utterly incapable of
amendment by precepts or examples: and so it hath proved; for
instead of seeing a full stop put to all abuses and corruptions, at
least in this little island, as I had reason to expect: behold,
after above six months warning, I cannot learn that my book hath
produced one single effect according to my intentions: I desired you
would let me know by a letter, when party and faction were
extinguished; judges learned and upright; pleaders honest and
modest, with some tincture of common sense; and Smithfield blazing
with pyramids of lawbooks; the young nobility's education entirely
changed; the physicians banished; the female Yahoos abounding in
virtue, honour, truth and good sense; courts and levees of great
ministers thoroughly weeded and swept; wit, merit and learning
rewarded; all disgracers of the press in prose and verse condemned
to eat nothing but their own cotton, and quench their thirst with
their own ink. These and a thousand other reformations, I firmly
counted upon by your encouragement; as indeed they were plainly
deducible from the precepts delivered in my book. And it must be owned
that seven months were a sufficient time to correct every vice and
folly to which Yahoos are subject, if their natures had been capable
of the least disposition to virtue or wisdom: yet so far have you been
from answering my expectation in any of your letters, that on the
contrary you are loading our carrier every week with libels, and keys,
and reflections, and memoirs, and second parts; wherein I see myself
accused of reflecting upon great states-folk, of degrading human
nature (for so they have still the confidence to style it), and of
abusing the female sex. I find likewise that the writers of those
bundles are not agreed among themselves; for some of them will not
allow me to be author of my own travels; and others make me author
of books to which I am wholly a stranger.
I find likewise that your printer hath been so careless as to
confound the times, and mistake the dates of my several voyages and
returns; neither assigning the true year, or the true month, or day of
the month: and I hear the original manuscript is all destroyed since
the publication of my book. Neither have I any copy left: however I
have sent you some corrections, which you may insert, if ever there
should be a second edition: and yet I cannot stand to them, but
shall leave that matter to my judicious and candid readers, to
adjust it as they please.
I hear some of our sea-Yahoos find fault with my sea-language, as
not proper in many parts, nor now in use. I cannot help it. In my
first voyages, while I was young, I was instructed by the oldest
mariners, and learned to speak as they did. But I have since found
that the sea-Yahoos are apt, like the land ones, to become new-fangled
in their words, which the latter change every year, insomuch as I
remember upon each return to my own country their old dialect was so
altered that I could hardly understand the new. And I observe, when
any Yahoo comes from London out of curiosity visit me at my own house,
we neither of us are able to deliver our conceptions in a manner
intelligible to the other.
If the censure of Yahoos could any way affect me, I should have
great reason to complain that some of them are so bold as to think
my book of travels a mere fiction out of my own brain, and have gone
so far as to drop hints that the Houyhnhnms and Yahoos have no more
existence than the inhabitants of Utopia.
Indeed I must confess, that as to the people of Lilliput,
Brobdingrag (for so the word should have been spelt, and not
erroneously Brobdingnag), and Laputa, I have never yet heard of any
Yahoo so presumptuous as to dispute their being, or the facts I have
related concerning them; because the truth immediately strikes every
reader with conviction. And is there less probability in my account of
the Houyhnhnms or Yahoos, when it is manifest as to the latter,
there are so many thousands even in this city, who only differ from
their brother brutes in Houyhnhnm-land, because they use a sort of a
jabber, and do not go naked? I wrote for their amendment, and not
their approbation. The united praise of the whole race would be of
less consequence to me than the neighing of those two degenerate
Houyhnhnms I keep in my stable; because from these, degenerate as they
are, I still improve in some virtues, without any mixture of vice.
Do these miserable animals presume to think that I am so far
degenerated as to defend my veracity? Yahoo as I am, it is well
known through all Houyhnhnm-land, that by the instructions and example
of my illustrious master I was able in the compass of two years
(although I confess with the utmost difficulty) to remove that
infernal habit of lying, shuffling, deceiving, and equivocating, so
deeply rooted in the very souls of all my species, especially the
Europeans.
I have other complaints to make upon this vexatious occasion; but
I forbear troubling myself or you any further. I must freely
confess, that since my last return some corruptions of my Yahoo nature
have revived in me by conversing with a few of your species, and
particularly those of my own family, by an unavoidable necessity; else
I should never have attempted so absurd a project as that of reforming
the Yahoo race in this kingdom; but I have now ...

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