A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court HTML version

Well, it was a curious country, and full of interest. And the people! They were the
quaintest and simplest and trustingest race; why, they were nothing but rabbits. It was
pitiful for a person born in a wholesome free atmosphere to listen to their humble and
hearty outpourings of loyalty toward their king and Church and nobility; as if they had
any more occasion to love and honor king and Church and noble than a slave has to love
and honor the lash, or a dog has to love and honor the stranger that kicks him! Why, dear
me, any kind of royalty, howsoever modified, any kind of aristocracy, howsoever pruned,
is rightly an insult; but if you are born and brought up under that sort of arrangement you
probably never find it out for yourself, and don't believe it when somebody else tells you.
It is enough to make a body ashamed of his race to think of the sort of froth that has
always occupied its thrones without shadow of right or reason, and the seventh-rate
people that have always figured as its aristocracies--a company of monarchs and nobles
who, as a rule, would have achieved only poverty and obscurity if left, like their betters,
to their own exertions.
The most of King Arthur's British nation were slaves, pure and simple, and bore that
name, and wore the iron collar on their necks; and the rest were slaves in fact, but without
the name; they imagined themselves men and freemen, and called themselves so. The
truth was, the nation as a body was in the world for one object, and one only: to grovel
before king and Church and noble; to slave for them, sweat blood for them, starve that
they might be fed, work that they might play, drink misery to the dregs that they might be
happy, go naked that they might wear silks and jewels, pay taxes that they might be
spared from paying them, be familiar all their lives with the degrading language and
postures of adulation that they might walk in pride and think themselves the gods of this
world. And for all this, the thanks they got were cuffs and contempt; and so poor-spirited
were they that they took even this sort of attention as an honor.
Inherited ideas are a curious thing, and interesting to observe and examine. I had mine,
the king and his people had theirs. In both cases they flowed in ruts worn deep by time
and habit, and the man who should have proposed to divert them by reason and argument
would have had a long contract on his hands. For instance, those people had inherited the
idea that all men without title and a long pedigree, whether they had great natural gifts
and acquirements or hadn't, were creatures of no more consideration than so many
animals, bugs, insects; whereas I had inherited the idea that human daws who can consent
to masquerade in the peacock-shams of inherited dignities and unearned titles, are of no
good but to be laughed at. The way I was looked upon was odd, but it was natural. You
know how the keeper and the public regard the elephant in the menagerie: well, that is the
idea. They are full of admiration of his vast bulk and his prodigious strength; they speak
with pride of the fact that he can do a hundred marvels which are far and away beyond
their own powers; and they speak with the same pride of the fact that in his wrath he is
able to drive a thousand men before him. But does that make him one of them? No; the
raggedest tramp in the pit would smile at the idea. He couldn't comprehend it; couldn't
take it in; couldn't in any remote way conceive of it. Well, to the king, the nobles, and all
the nation, down to the very slaves and tramps, I was just that kind of an elephant, and
nothing more. I was admired, also feared; but it was as an animal is admired and feared.
The animal is not reverenced, neither was I; I was not even respected. I had no pedigree,