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This island was at a greater distance than I expected, and I did not reach it in less than five hours. I encompassed it almost round, before I could find a convenient place to land in; which was a small creek, about three times the wideness of my canoe. I found the island to be all rocky, only, a little intermingled with tufts of grass, and sweet-smelling herbs. I took out my small provisions, and after having refreshed myself, I secured the remainder in a cave, whereof there were great numbers ;
gathered plenty of eggs upon the rocks, and got a quantity of dry seaweed, and parched grass, which I designed to kindle the next day, and roast my eggs as well as I could ; for I had about me my flint, steel, match, and burning-glass. I lay all night in the cave where I had lodged my provisions. My bed, was the same dry grass and seaweed, which I intended for fewel. I slept very little, for the disquiets of my mind prevailed over my weariness, and kept me awake. I considered how impossible it was to preserve my life in so desolate a place, and how miserable my end must be. Yet found myself so listless and desponding, that I had not the heart to rise ; and before I could get spirits enough to creep out of my cave, the day was far advanced. I walked a while among the rocks, the sky was perfectly clear, and the sun so hot, that I was forced to turn my face from it: when all on a sudden it became obscure, as I thought in a manner very different, from what happens by the interposition of a cloud. I turned back, and perceiving a vast opake body between me and the sun, moving forwards towards the island : it seemed to be about two miles high, and hid the sun six or seven minutes, but I
did not observe the air to be much colder, or the sky more darkened, than if I had stood under the shade of a mountain. As it approached nearer over the place where I was, it appeared to be a firm substance, the bottom flat, smooth, and shining very bright, from the reflection of the sea below. I stood upon a height about two hundred yards from the shore, and saw this vast body descending almost to a parallel with me, at less than an English mile distance. I took out my pocket-perspective, and could plainly discover numbers of people moving up and down the sides of it, which appeared to be sloping; but, what those people were doing, I was not able to , distinguish.
The natural love of life gave me some inward motion of joy, and I was ready to entertain a hope, that this adventure might, some way or other, help to deliver me from the desolate place and condition I was in. But at the same time the reader can hardly conceive my astonishment, to behold an island in the air, inhabited by men, who were able (as it should seem) to rise or sink, or put it into progressive motion, as they pleased. But not being at that time, in a disposition to philosophise upon nomenon, I rather chose to observe what course the island would take, because it seemed for a while to stand still. Yet soon after, it advanced nearer, and I could see the sides of it encompassed with several gradations of galleries, and stairs, at certain intervals, to descend from one to the other. In the lowest gallery, I beheld some people fishing with long angling rods, and others looking on. I waved my cap (for my hat was long since worn out) and my handkerchief toward the island ; and upon
its N 2
nearer approach, I called and shouted with the utmost strength of my voice ; and then looking circumspectly, I beheld a crowd gather to that side, which was most in
view. I found, by their pointing toward me and to each other, that they plainly discovered me, although they made no return to my shouting. But I could see four or five men running in great haste, up the stairs, to the top of the island, who then disappeared. I happened rightly to conjecture, that these were sent for orders, to some person in authority, upon this occasion.
The number of people increased, and in less than half an hour, the island was moved and raised in such a manner, that the lowest gallery, appeared in a parallel of less than a hundred yards distance, from the height where I stood. I then put myself into the most supplicating postures, and spoke in the humblest accent, but received no answer. Those who stood nearest over against me, seemed to be persons of distinction, as I supposed by their habit. They conferred earnestly with each other, looking often upon me. At length one of them called out in a clear, polite, smooth dialect, not unlike in sound to the Italian : and therefore I returned an answer in-that language, hoping at least, that the cadence might be more agreeable to his ears. Although neither of us understood the other, yet my meaning was easily known, for the people saw the distress I was in.
They made signs for me to come down from the rock, and go towards the shore, which I accordingly did ; and the flying island being raised to a convenient height, the verge directly over me, a
chain was let down from the lowest gallery, with a seat fastened to the bottom, to which I fixed myself, and was drawn up by pullies.
The humours and dispositions of the Laputians described.
An account of their learning. Of the king, and his court. The author's reception there. The inhabitants subject to fear and disquietudes. An account of the women.
AT my alighting, I was surrounded with a crowd of people, but those who stood nearest, seemed to be of better quality. They beheld me with all the marks and circumstances of wonder, neither indeed was I much in their debt; having never till then, seen a race of mortals, so singular in their shapes, habits, and countenances.
Their heads were all reclined, either to the right, or the left; one of their eyes turned inward, and the other directly up to the zenith*. Their outward garments were adorned with the figures of suns, moons, and stars ; interwoven with those of fiddles, flutes, harps, trumpets, guitars, harpsicords, and many other instruments of musick, unknown to us in Europe. I observed, here and there many in the
By this description the author intended to ridicule those who waste life in speculative sciences, the powers of whose minds are as absurdly employed as the eyes of the Laputians.
habit of servants, with a blown bladder, fastened like a flail to the end of a stick, which they carried in their hands. In each bladder, was a small quantity of dried pease, or little pebbles, as I was afterwards informed. With these bladders, they now and then flapped the mouths and ears of those who stood near them, of which practice I could not then conceive the meaning. It seems, the minds of these people, are so taken up with intense speculations, that they neither can speak, nor attend to the discourses of others, without being roused by some external taction, upon the organs of speech and hearing; for which reason, those persons who are able to afford it, always keep a flapper (the original is climenole) in their family, as one of their domesticks; nor ever walk abroad, or make visits without him. And the business of this officer is, when two, three, or more persons are in company, gently to strike with his bladder the mouth of him who is to speak, and the right ear of him or them, to whom the speaker addresses himself. This flapper is likewise employed, diligently to attend his master in his walks, and upon occasion to give him a soft flap on his eyes; because he is always so wrapped up in cogitation, that he is in manifest danger of falling down every precipice, and bouncing his head against every post; and in the streets, of justling others, or being justled himself into the kennel.
It was necessary to give the reader this information, without which, he would be at the same loss with me to understand the proceedings of these people, as they conducted me up the stairs to the top of the island, and from thence to the royal