Gulliver's Travels HTML version

Chapter I.4
[Mildendo, the metropolis of Lilliput, described, together with the emperor's palace. A
conversation between the author and a principal secretary, concerning the affairs of that
empire. The author's offers to serve the emperor in his wars.]
The first request I made, after I had obtained my liberty, was, that I might have license to
see Mildendo, the metropolis; which the emperor easily granted me, but with a special
charge to do no hurt either to the inhabitants or their houses. The people had notice, by
proclamation, of my design to visit the town. The wall which encompassed it is two feet
and a half high, and at least eleven inches broad, so that a coach and horses may be
driven very safely round it; and it is flanked with strong towers at ten feet distance. I
stepped over the great western gate, and passed very gently, and sidling, through the two
principal streets, only in my short waistcoat, for fear of damaging the roofs and eaves of
the houses with the skirts of my coat. I walked with the utmost circumspection, to avoid
treading on any stragglers who might remain in the streets, although the orders were very
strict, that all people should keep in their houses, at their own peril. The garret windows
and tops of houses were so crowded with spectators, that I thought in all my travels I had
not seen a more populous place. The city is an exact square, each side of the wall being
five hundred feet long. The two great streets, which run across and divide it into four
quarters, are five feet wide. The lanes and alleys, which I could not enter, but only view
them as I passed, are from twelve to eighteen inches. The town is capable of holding five
hundred thousand souls: the houses are from three to five stories: the shops and markets
well provided.
The emperor's palace is in the centre of the city where the two great streets meet. It is
enclosed by a wall of two feet high, and twenty feet distance from the buildings. I had his
majesty's permission to step over this wall; and, the space being so wide between that and
the palace, I could easily view it on every side. The outward court is a square of forty
feet, and includes two other courts: in the inmost are the royal apartments, which I was
very desirous to see, but found it extremely difficult; for the great gates, from one square
into another, were but eighteen inches high, and seven inches wide. Now the buildings of
the outer court were at least five feet high, and it was impossible for me to stride over
them without infinite damage to the pile, though the walls were strongly built of hewn
stone, and four inches thick. At the same time the emperor had a great desire that I should
see the magnificence of his palace; but this I was not able to do till three days after,
which I spent in cutting down with my knife some of the largest trees in the royal park,
about a hundred yards distant from the city. Of these trees I made two stools, each about
three feet high, and strong enough to bear my weight. The people having received notice
a second time, I went again through the city to the palace with my two stools in my
hands. When I came to the side of the outer court, I stood upon one stool, and took the
other in my hand; this I lifted over the roof, and gently set it down on the space between
the first and second court, which was eight feet wide. I then stept over the building very
conveniently from one stool to the other, and drew up the first after me with a hooked
stick. By this contrivance I got into the inmost court; and, lying down upon my side, I