Gulliver's Travels HTML version

Chapter I.6
[Of the inhabitants of Lilliput; their learning, laws, and customs; the manner of educating
their children. The author's way of living in that country. His vindication of a great lady.]
Although I intend to leave the description of this empire to a particular treatise, yet, in the
mean time, I am content to gratify the curious reader with some general ideas. As the
common size of the natives is somewhat under six inches high, so there is an exact
proportion in all other animals, as well as plants and trees: for instance, the tallest horses
and oxen are between four and five inches in height, the sheep an inch and half, more or
less: their geese about the bigness of a sparrow, and so the several gradations downwards
till you come to the smallest, which to my sight, were almost invisible; but nature has
adapted the eyes of the Lilliputians to all objects proper for their view: they see with great
exactness, but at no great distance. And, to show the sharpness of their sight towards
objects that are near, I have been much pleased with observing a cook pulling a lark,
which was not so large as a common fly; and a young girl threading an invisible needle
with invisible silk. Their tallest trees are about seven feet high: I mean some of those in
the great royal park, the tops whereof I could but just reach with my fist clenched. The
other vegetables are in the same proportion; but this I leave to the reader's imagination.
I shall say but little at present of their learning, which, for many ages, has flourished in all
its branches among them: but their manner of writing is very peculiar, being neither from
the left to the right, like the Europeans, nor from the right to the left, like the Arabians,
nor from up to down, like the Chinese, but aslant, from one corner of the paper to the
other, like ladies in England.
They bury their dead with their heads directly downward, because they hold an opinion,
that in eleven thousand moons they are all to rise again; in which period the earth (which
they conceive to be flat) will turn upside down, and by this means they shall, at their
resurrection, be found ready standing on their feet. The learned among them confess the
absurdity of this doctrine; but the practice still continues, in compliance to the vulgar.
There are some laws and customs in this empire very peculiar; and if they were not so
directly contrary to those of my own dear country, I should be tempted to say a little in
their justification. It is only to be wished they were as well executed. The first I shall
mention, relates to informers. All crimes against the state, are punished here with the
utmost severity; but, if the person accused makes his innocence plainly to appear upon
his trial, the accuser is immediately put to an ignominious death; and out of his goods or
lands the innocent person is quadruply recompensed for the loss of his time, for the
danger he underwent, for the hardship of his imprisonment, and for all the charges he has
been at in making his defence; or, if that fund be deficient, it is largely supplied by the
crown. The emperor also confers on him some public mark of his favour, and
proclamation is made of his innocence through the whole city.