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soners, and vehemently given to opposition, unless when they happen to be of the right opinion, which is seldom their case. Imagination, fancy, and invention, they are wholly strangers to, nor have any words in their language, by which those ideas can be expressed ; the whole compass of their thoughts and mind being shut up within the two forementioned sciences.
Most of them, and especially those who deal in the astronomical part, have great faith in judicial astrology, although they are ashamed to own it publickly. But what I chiefly admired, and thought altogether unaccountable, was the strong disposition I observed in them, towards news and politicks, perpetually inquiring into publick affairs, giving their judgments in matters of state, and passionately disputing every inch of a party opinion. I have indeed observed the same disposition, among most of the mathematicians I have known in Europe, although I could never discover the least analogy between the two sciences ; unless those people suppose, that because the smallest circle has as many degrees as the largest, therefore the regulation and management of the world, require no more abilities, than the handling and turning of a globe : but I rather take this quality to spring from a very common infirmity of human nature, inclining us to be most curious and conceited, in matters where we have least concern, and for which we are least adapted by study or nature.
These people are under continual disquietudes, never enjoying a minute's peace of mind; and their disturbances proceed from causes, which very little affect the rest of mortals. Their apprehensions arise
from several changes they dread in the celestial bodies. For instance, that the earth, by the continual approaches of the sun towards it, must, in course of time, be absorbed, or swallowed up. That the face of the sun, will, by degrees, be encrusted with its own effluvia, and give no more light to the world. That the earth, very narrowly escaped a brush from the tail of the last comet, which would have infallibly reduced it to ashes; and that the next, which they have calculated for one and thirty years hence, will probably destroy us. For, if in its perihelion, it should approach within a certain degree of the sun, (as by their calculations they have reason to dread) it will receive a degree of heat ten thousand times more intense, than that of red hot glowing iron; and, in its absence from the sun, carry a blazing tail ten hundred thousand and fourteen miles long; through which if the earth should pass at the distance of one hundred thousand miles from the nucleus, or main body of the comet, it must in its passage be set on fire, and reduced to ashes. That the sun, daily spending its rays without any nutriment to supply them, will at last be wholly consumed and annihilated; which must be attended with the destruction of this earth, and of all the planets that receive their light from it *.
They are so perpetually alarmed with the apprehensions of these, and the like impending dangers, that they can neither sleep quietly in their beds, nor have any relish for the common pleasures and amusements of life. When they meet an acquaintance in the morning, the first question is about the sun's
* All these were suppositions of persons eminent in their time for mathematical knowledge.
health, how he looked at his setting and rising, and what hopes they have to avoid the stroke of the approaching comet. This conversation they are apt to run into with the same temper, that boys discover, in delighting to hear terrible stories of spirits and hobgoblins, which they greedily listen to, and dare not go to bed for fear.
The women of the island have abundance of vivacity ; they contemn their husbands, and are exceedingly fond of strangers; whereof there is always a considerable number from the continent below, attending at court, either upon affairs of the several towns and corporations, or their own particular occasions, but are much despised, because they want the same endowments. Among these, the ladies choose their gallants : but the vexation is, that they act with too much ease and security; for the husband is always so rapt in speculation, that the mistress and lover may proceed to the greatest familiarities before his face, if he be but provided with paper and implements, and without his flapper at his side.
The wives and daughters lament their confinement to the island, although I think it the most delicious spot of ground in the world ; and although they live here in the greatest plenty and magnificence, and are allowed to do whatever they please, they long to see the world, and take the diversions of the metropolis, which they are not allowed to do without a particular license from the king; and this is not easy to be obtained, because the people of quality have found, by frequent experience, how hard it is to persuade their women to return from below. I was told, that a great court lady, who had
several children, is married to the prime minister, the richest subject in the kingdom, a very graceful person, extremely fond of her, and lives in the finest palace of the island, went down to Lagado on the pretence of health, there hid herself for several months, till the king sent a warrant to search for her; and she was found in an obscure eating-house all in rags, having pawned her clothes to maintain an old deformed footman, who beat her every day, and in whose company she was taken, much against her will. And although her husband received her with all possible kindness, and without the least reproach, she soon after contrived to steal down again, with all her jewels, to the same gallant, and has not been heard of since.
This may perhaps pass with the reader rather for a European or English story, than for one of a country so remote. But he may please to consider, that the caprices of womenkind are not limited by any climate or nation, and that they are much more uniform than can be easily imagined.
In about a month's time, I had made a tolerable proficiency in their language, and was able to answer most of the king's questions, when I had the honour to attend him. His majesty discovered not the least curiosity to inquire into the laws, government, history, religion, or manners of the countries where I had been ; but confined his questions to the state of mathematicks, and received the account I gave him, with great contempt and indifference, though often roused by his flapper on each side.
CHAP. CHAP. III.
A phenomenon solved by modern philosophy and astro
nomy. The Laputians great improvements in the latter. The king's method of suppressing insur. rections.
I DESIRED leave of this prince to see the curiosities of the island, which he was graciously pleased to grant, and ordered my tutor to attend me.
I chiefly wanted to know, to what cause in art or in nature it owed its several motions, whereof I will now give a philosophical account to the reader.
The flying or floating island is exactly circular, its diameter 7837 yards, or about four miles and a half, and consequently contains ten thousand acres. It is three hundred yards thick. The bottom, or under surface, which appears to those who view it below, is one even regular plate of adamant, shooting up to the height of about two hundred yards. Above it lie the several minerals in their usual order, and over all is a coat of rich mould, ten or twelve feet deep. The declivity of the upper surface, from the circumference to the centre, is the natural cause why all the dews and rains, which fall upon the island, are conveyed in small rivulets toward the middle, where they are emptied into four large basins, each of about a half a mile in circuit, and two hundred yards distant from the centre. From these basins the water is continually exhaled by the sun in the