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place, and whence I date all the succeeding misfortunes of my life.
The Houyhnhnms have no letters, and consequently their knowledge is all traditional. But there happening few events of any moment among a people so well united, naturally disposed to every virtue, wholly governed by reason, and cut off from all commerce with other nations; the historical part is easily preserved, without burdening their memories, I have already observed that they are subject to no diseases, and therefore can have no need of physicians. However, they have excellent medicines composed of herbs, to cure accidental bruises and cuts in the pastern or frog of the foot, by sharp stones, as well as other maims and hurts in the seve
of the body, They calculate the year by the revolution of the sun and the moon, but use no subdivisions into weeks. They are well enough acquainted with the motions of those two luminaries, and understand the nature of eclipses ; and this is the utmost progress of their astronomy.
In poetry they must be allowed to excel all other mortals ; wherein the justness of their similes, and the minuteness as well as exactness of their descriptions, are indeed inimitable. Their verses abound very much in both of these ; and usually contain either some exalted notions of friendship and benevolence, or the praises of those, who were victors in races, and other bodily exercises. Their buildings, although very rude and simple, are not inconvenient, but well contrived to defend them from all injuries of cold and heat. They have a kind of tree, which, a
forty years old, loosens in the root, and falls with the first storm; it grows yery straight, and being pointed like stakes, with a sharp stone, (for the Houyhnhnms know not the use of iron) they stick them erect in the ground about ten inches asunder, and then weave in oat-straw, or sometimes wattles, between them. The roof is made after the same manner, and so are the doors.
The Houyhnhnms use the hollow part, between the pastern and the hoof of their forefeet, as we do our hands, and this with greater dexterity, than I could at first imagine. I have seen a white mare of our family thread a needle (which I lent her on purpose) with that joint. They milk their cows, reap their oats, and do all the work which requires hands, in the same manner. They have a kind of hard flints, which, by grinding against other stones, they form into instruments, that serve instead of wedges, axes, and hammers. With tools made of these flints, they likewise cut their hay, and seap their oats, which there grow naturally in several fields: the yahoos draw home the sheaves in carriages, and the servants tread them in certain covered huts to get out the grain, which is kept in stores. They make a rude kind of earthen and wooden vessels, and bake the farmer in the sun.
If they can avoid casualties, they die only of old age, and are buried in the obscurest places that can be found, their friends and relations expressing neither joy nor grief at their departure ; nor does the dying person discover the least regret that he is leaving the world, any more than if he were upon returning home from a visit to one of his neighbours. I remember my master having once made an appointment with a friend and his family to come to his house, upon some affair of importance; on the day fixed, the mistress and her two children came very late ; she made two excuses, first for her husband, who as she said, happened that very morning to Ihnuwnh. The word is strongly expressive in their language, but not easily rendered into English; it signifies,' to retire to his first mother.' Her excuse for not coming sooner was, that her husband dying late in the morning, she was a good while consulting her servants about a convenient place where his body should be laid ; and I observed, she behaved herself at our house as cheerfully as the rest: she died about three months after.
They live generally to seventy, or seventy-five years, very seldom to fourscore : some weeks before their death, they feel a gradual decay; but without pain. During this time they are much visited by their friends, because they cannot go abroad with their usual ease and satisfaction. However, about ten days before their death, which they seldom fail in computing, they return the visits that have been made them by those, who are nearest in the neighbourhood, being carried in a convenient sledge drawn by yahoos ; which vehicle they use, not only upon this occasion, but when they grow old, upon long journies, or when they are lamed by any accident. And therefore when the dying Houyhnhnms return those visits, they take a solemn leave of their friends, as if they wete going to some remote part of the country, where they designed to pass the rest of their lives. · I know not whether it may be worth observing, that the Houyhnhnms have no word in their lan
guage to express any thing that is evil, except what they borrow from the deformities, or ill qualities of the yahoos. Thus they denote the folly of a servant, an omission of a child, a stone that cuts their feet, a continuance of foul or unseasonable weather, and the like, by adding to each the epithet o£ yahoo. For instance, hhnm yahoo, whnaholm yahoo, ynlhmndwihlma yahoo, and an ill contrived house, ynholmhnmrohlnw yahoo.
I could, with great pleasure, enlarge farther upon the manners and virtues of this excellent people ; but intending in a short time to publish a volume by itself, expressly upon that subject, I refer the reader thither. And in the mean time, proceed to relate my own sad catastrophe.
The author's economy, and happy life, among the
Houyhnhnms. His great improvement in virtue. by conversing with them. Their conversations. The author has notice given him by his master, that he must depart from the country. He falls into a swoon for grief ; but subnits. He contrives and finishes a canoe by the help of a fellow-servant,
and puts to sea at a venture. I HAD settled my little economy to my own heart's content. My master had ordered a room to be made for me, after their manner, about six yards from the house; the sides and floors of which I
plastered with clay, and covered with rush-mats of my own contriving ; I had beaten hemp, which there grows wild, and made of it a sort of ticking; this I filled with the feathers of several birds I had taken with springes made of yahoos hairs, and * were excellent food. I had worked two chairs with my knife, the sorrel nag helping me in the grosser and more laborious part. When my clothes were worn to rags, I made myself others with the skins of rabbits, and of a certain beautiful animal, about the same size, called nnuknok, the skin of which is covered with a fine down. Of these I also made very tolerable stockings. I soled my shoes with wood, which I cut from a tree, and fitted to the upper-leather; and when this was worn out, I supplied it with the skins of yahoos dried in the sun. I often got honey out of hollow trees, which I mingled with water, or eat with my bread. No man could more verify the truth of these two maxims, " That nature is very easily satisfied ;' and,
That necessity is the mother of invention.' I enjoyed perfect health of body, and tranquillity of mind; I did not feel the treachery or inconstancy of a friend, nor the injuries of a secret or open enemy. I had no occasion of bribing, flattering, or pimping, to procure the favour of any great man, or of his minion. I wanted no fence against fraud or oppression; here was neither physician to destroy
* It should be, and which were excellent food. This sentence is faulty in other respects, but there, as well as in many other passages of these voyages, the author has intentionally made use of inaccurate expression, and studied negligence in order to make the style more like that of a seafaring man : On which account they have been passed over in silence, where such intention was obvious.