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prognosticks, wherein they seldom fail ; their predictions in real diseases, when they rise to any degree of malignity, generally portending death, which is always in their power, when recovery is not: and therefore, upon any unexpected signs of amendment, after they have pronounced their sentence, rather than be accused as false prophets, they know how to approve their sagacity to the world, by a seasonable dose.
They are likewise of special use to husbands and wives, who are grown weary of their mates; to eldest sons, to great ministers of state, and often to princes.
I had formerly, upon occasion, discoursed with my master upon the nature of government in general, and particularly of our own excellent constitution, deservedly the wonder and envy of the whole world. But having here accidentally mentioned a minister of state, he commanded me some time after to inform him, what species of yahoo I particularly meant by that appellation.
I told him, that a first or chief minister of state, who was the person I intended to describe, was a creature wholly exempt from joy and grief, love and hatred, pity and anger ; at least, makes use of no other passions, but a violent desire of wealth, power, and titles ; that he applies his words to all uses, except to the indication of his mind; that he never tells a truth, but with an intent that you should take it for a lie; nor a lie, but with a design that you should take it for a truth; that those he speaks worst of behind their backs, are in the surest way of
pre. ferment; and whenever he begins to praise you to others, or to yourself you are from that day forlorn,
The worst mark you can receive, is a promise, espez cially when it is confirmed with an oath; after which, every wise man retires, and gives over all hopes.
There are three methods, by which a man may rise to be chief minister. The first is, by knowing how, with prudence, to dispose of a wife, a daughter, or a sister : the second, by betraying or undermining his predecessor : and the third is, by a furious zeal in publick assemblies, against the corruptions of the court. But a wise prince would rather choose to employ those, who practise the last of these methods ; because such zealots prove always the most obsequious and subservient to the will and passions of their master. That these ministers, having all employments at their disposal, preserve themselves in power, by bribing the majority of a senate or great council ; and at last, by an expedient, called an act of indemnity, (whereof I described the nature to him) they secure themselves from after reckonings, and retire from the publick laden with the spoils of the nation.
The palace of chief minister is a seminary to breed up others in his own trade : the pages, lackeys, and porter, by imitating their master, become ministers of state in their several districts, and learn to excel in the three principal ingredients, of insolence, lying, and bribery. Accordingly they have a subaltern court paid to them by persons of the best rank; and sometimes, by the force of dexterity and impudence, arrive, through several gradations, to be successors to their lord.
He is usually governed by a decayed wench, or favourite footman, who are the tunnels through which all graces are conveyed, and may properly
be called, in the last resort, the governors of the kingdom.
One day in discourse, my master, having heard me mention the nobility of my country, was pleased to make me a compliment, which I could not pretend to deserve : that he was sure I must have been born of some noble family, because I far exceeded in shape, colour, and cleanliness, all the yahoos of his nation, although I seemed to fail in strength and agility, which must be imputed to my different way of living from those other brutes; and besides, I was not only endowed with the faculty of speech, but likewise with some rudiments of reason, to a degree, that with all his acquaintance I passed for a prodigy.
He made me observé, that among the Houyhnhnms, the white, the sorrel, and the iron-gray, were not so exactly shaped as the bay, the dapple-gray, and the black ; nor born with equal talents of mind, or a capacity to improve them; and therefore continued always in the condition of servants, without ever aspiring to match out of their own race, which in that country would be reckoned monstrous and unnatural.
I made his honour my most humble acknowledgments for the good opinion he was pleased to conceive of me; but assured him at the same time, that my birth was of the lower sort, having been born of plain honest parents, who were just able to give me a tolerable education : that nobility, among us, was altogether a different thing from the idea he had of it; that our young noblemen are bred from their childhood in idleness and luxury ; that as soon as years will permit, they consume their vigour, and contract odious diseases among lewd females; and when their fortunes are almost ruined, they marry some woman of mean birth, disagreeable person, and unsound constitution, (merely for the sake of money) whom they hate and despise. That the productions of such marriages, are generally scrofulous, ricketty, or deformed children; by which means the family seldom continues above three generations, unless the wife takes care to provide a healthy father, among her neighbours or domesticks, in order to improve and continue the breed. That a weak diseased body, a meagre countenance, and sallow complexion, are the true marks of noble blood ; and a healthy robust appearance, is , so disgraceful in a man of quality, that the world concludes his real father to have been a groom, or a coachman. The imperfections of his mind, run parallel with those of his body, being a composition of spleen, dulness, ignorance, caprice, sensuality, and pride.
Without the consent of this illustrious body, no law can be enacted, repealed, or altered : and these nobles have likewise the decision of all our posses, sions, without appeal.
The author's great love of his native country. His
master's observations upon the constitution and administration of England, as described by the author, with parallel cases and comparisons. His master's observations ироп
human nature. The reader may be disposed to wonder, how I could prevail on myself to give so free a representation of my own species, among a race of mortals, who are already too apt to conceive the vilest opinion of human kind, from that intire congruity between me and their yahoos. But I must freely confess, that the many virtues of those excellent quadrupeds, placed in opposite view to human corruptions, had so far opened my eyes, and enlarged my understanding, that I began to view the actions and passions of man, in a very different light; and to think the honour of my own kind, not worth managing; which, besides, it was impossible for me to do, before a person of so acute a judgment as my master, who daily convinced me of a thousand faults in myself, whereof I had not the least perception before, and which, with us, would never be numbered even among hu* man infirmities. I had likewise learned, from his example, an utter detestation of all falsehood or disguise ; and truth appeared so amiable to me, that I determined upon sacrificing every thing to it.
Let me deal so candidly with the reader, as to confess, that there was yet a much stronger motive Vol. VI. X