Gulliver's Travels
Jonathan Swift
Novels
12:23 h
Level 6
Gulliver's Travels, or Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships is a 1726 prose satire by the Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift, satirising both human nature and the "travellers' tales" literary subgenre. It is Swift's best known full-length work, and a classic of English literature. Swift claimed that he wrote Gulliver's Travels "to vex the world rather than divert it".

Gulliver’s Travels

by
Jonathan Swift


The Publisher to the Reader.

[As given in the original edition.]

The author of these Travels, Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, is my ancient and intimate friend; there is likewise some relation between us on the mother’s side. About three years ago, Mr. Gulliver growing weary of the concourse of curious people coming to him at his house in Redriff, made a small purchase of land, with a convenient house, near Newark, in Nottinghamshire, his native country; where he now lives retired, yet in good esteem among his neighbours.

Although Mr. Gulliver was born in Nottinghamshire, where his father dwelt, yet I have heard him say his family came from Oxfordshire; to confirm which, I have observed in the churchyard at Banbury in that county, several tombs and monuments of the Gullivers.

Before he quitted Redriff, he left the custody of the following papers in my hands, with the liberty to dispose of them as I should think fit. I have carefully perused them three times. The style is very plain and simple; and the only fault I find is, that the author, after the manner of travellers, is a little too circumstantial. There is an air of truth apparent through the whole; and indeed the author was so distinguished for his veracity, that it became a sort of proverb among his neighbours at Redriff, when any one affirmed a thing, to say, it was as true as if Mr. Gulliver had spoken it.

By the advice of several worthy persons, to whom, with the author’s permission, I communicated these papers, I now venture to send them into the world, hoping they may be, at least for some time, a better entertainment to our young noblemen, than the common scribbles of politics and party.

This volume would have been at least twice as large, if I had not made bold to strike out innumerable passages relating to the winds and tides, as well as to the variations and bearings in the several voyages, together with the minute descriptions of the management of the ship in storms, in the style of sailors; likewise the account of longitudes and latitudes; wherein I have reason to apprehend, that Mr. Gulliver may be a little dissatisfied. But I was resolved to fit the work as much as possible to the general capacity of readers. However, if my own ignorance in sea affairs shall have led me to commit some mistakes, I alone am answerable for them. And if any traveller hath a curiosity to see the whole work at large, as it came from the hands of the author, I will be ready to gratify him.

As for any further particulars relating to the author, the reader will receive satisfaction from the first pages of the book.

RICHARD SYMPSON.


A Letter from Captain Gulliver to His Cousin Sympson.

Written in theYear 1727.

I hope you will be ready to own publicly, whenever you shallbe called to it, that by your great and frequent urgency youprevailed on me to publish a very loose and uncorrect account ofmy travels, with directions to hire some young gentleman ofeither university to put them in order, and correct the style, asmy cousin Dampier did, by my advice, in his book called “AVoyage round the world.” But I do not remember I gaveyou power to consent that any thing should be omitted, and muchless that any thing should be inserted; therefore, as to thelatter, I do here renounce every thing of that kind; particularlya paragraph about her majesty Queen Anne, of most pious andglorious memory; although I did reverence and esteem her morethan any of human species. But you, or your interpolator,ought to have considered, that it was not my inclination, so wasit not decent to praise any animal of our composition before mymaster Houyhnhnm: And besides, the fact was altogetherfalse; for to my knowledge, being in England during some part ofher majesty’s reign, she did govern by a chief minister;nay even by two successively, the first whereof was the lord ofGodolphin, and the second the lord of Oxford; so that you havemade me say the thing that was not. Likewise in the accountof the academy of projectors, and several passages of mydiscourse to my master Houyhnhnm, you have either omittedsome material circumstances, or minced or changed them in such amanner, that I do hardly know my own work. When I formerlyhinted to you something of this in a letter, you were pleased toanswer that you were afraid of giving offence; that people inpower were very watchful over the press, and apt not only tointerpret, but to punish every thing which looked like aninnuendo (as I think you call it). But, pray howcould that which I spoke so many years ago, and at about fivethousand leagues distance, in another reign, be applied to any ofthe Yahoos, who now are said to govern the herd;especially at a time when I little thought, or feared, theunhappiness of living under them? Have not I the mostreason to complain, when I see these very Yahoos carriedby Houyhnhnms in a vehicle, as if they were brutes, andthose the rational creatures? And indeed to avoid somonstrous and detestable a sight was one principal motive of myretirement hither.

Thus much I thought proper to tell you in relation toyourself, and to the trust I reposed in you.

I do, in the next place, complain of my own great want ofjudgment, in being prevailed upon by the entreaties and falsereasoning of you and some others, very much against my ownopinion, to suffer my travels to be published. Pray bringto your mind how often I desired you to consider, when youinsisted on the motive of public good, that the Yahooswere a species of animals utterly incapable of amendment byprecept or example: and so it has proved; for, instead of seeinga full stop put to all abuses and corruptions, at least in thislittle island, as I had reason to expect; behold, after above sixmonths warning, I cannot learn that my book has produced onesingle effect according to my intentions. I desired youwould let me know, by a letter, when party and faction wereextinguished; judges learned and upright; pleaders honest andmodest, with some tincture of common sense, and Smithfieldblazing with pyramids of law books; the young nobility’seducation entirely changed; the physicians banished; the femaleYahoos 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 inprose and verse condemned to eat nothing but their own cotton,and quench their thirst with their own ink. These, and athousand other reformations, I firmly counted upon by yourencouragement; as indeed they were plainly deducible from theprecepts delivered in my book. And it must be owned, thatseven months were a sufficient time to correct every vice andfolly to which Yahoos are subject, if their natures hadbeen capable of the least disposition to virtue or wisdom. Yet, so far have you been from answering my expectation in any ofyour letters; that on the contrary you are loading our carrierevery week with libels, and keys, and reflections, and memoirs,and second parts; wherein I see myself accused of reflecting upongreat state folk; of degrading human nature (for so they havestill the confidence to style it), and of abusing the femalesex. I find likewise that the writers of those bundles arenot agreed among themselves; for some of them will not allow meto be the author of my own travels; and others make me author ofbooks to which I am wholly a stranger.

I find likewise that your printer has been so careless as toconfound the times, and mistake the dates, of my several voyagesand returns; neither assigning the true year, nor the true month,nor day of the month: and I hear the original manuscript is alldestroyed since the publication of my book; neither have I anycopy left: however, I have sent you some corrections, which youmay insert, if ever there should be a second edition: and yet Icannot stand to them; but shall leave that matter to my judiciousand candid readers to adjust it as they please.