Gulliver's Travels HTML version

Chapter II.6
[Several contrivances of the author to please the king and queen. He shows his skill in
music. The king inquires into the state of England, which the author relates to him. The
king's observations thereon.]
I used to attend the king's levee once or twice a week, and had often seen him under the
barber's hand, which indeed was at first very terrible to behold; for the razor was almost
twice as long as an ordinary scythe. His majesty, according to the custom of the country,
was only shaved twice a-week. I once prevailed on the barber to give me some of the
suds or lather, out of which I picked forty or fifty of the strongest stumps of hair. I then
took a piece of fine wood, and cut it like the back of a comb, making several holes in it at
equal distances with as small a needle as I could get from Glumdalclitch. I fixed in the
stumps so artificially, scraping and sloping them with my knife toward the points, that I
made a very tolerable comb; which was a seasonable supply, my own being so much
broken in the teeth, that it was almost useless: neither did I know any artist in that country
so nice and exact, as would undertake to make me another.
And this puts me in mind of an amusement, wherein I spent many of my leisure hours. I
desired the queen's woman to save for me the combings of her majesty's hair, whereof in
time I got a good quantity; and consulting with my friend the cabinet-maker, who had
received general orders to do little jobs for me, I directed him to make two chair-frames,
no larger than those I had in my box, and to bore little holes with a fine awl, round those
parts where I designed the backs and seats; through these holes I wove the strongest hairs
I could pick out, just after the manner of cane chairs in England. When they were
finished, I made a present of them to her majesty; who kept them in her cabinet, and used
to show them for curiosities, as indeed they were the wonder of every one that beheld
them. The queen would have me sit upon one of these chairs, but I absolutely refused to
obey her, protesting I would rather die than place a dishonourable part of my body on
those precious hairs, that once adorned her majesty's head. Of these hairs (as I had always
a mechanical genius) I likewise made a neat little purse, about five feet long, with her
majesty's name deciphered in gold letters, which I gave to Glumdalclitch, by the queen's
consent. To say the truth, it was more for show than use, being not of strength to bear the
weight of the larger coins, and therefore she kept nothing in it but some little toys that
girls are fond of.
The king, who delighted in music, had frequent concerts at court, to which I was
sometimes carried, and set in my box on a table to hear them: but the noise was so great
that I could hardly distinguish the tunes. I am confident that all the drums and trumpets of
a royal army, beating and sounding together just at your ears, could not equal it. My
practice was to have my box removed from the place where the performers sat, as far as I
could, then to shut the doors and windows of it, and draw the window curtains; after
which I found their music not disagreeable.