Gulliver's Travels HTML version

Chapter II.7
[The author's love of his country. He makes a proposal of much advantage to the king,
which is rejected. The king's great ignorance in politics. The learning of that country very
imperfect and confined. The laws, and military affairs, and parties in the state.]
Nothing but an extreme love of truth could have hindered me from concealing this part of
my story. It was in vain to discover my resentments, which were always turned into
ridicule; and I was forced to rest with patience, while my noble and beloved country was
so injuriously treated. I am as heartily sorry as any of my readers can possibly be, that
such an occasion was given: but this prince happened to be so curious and inquisitive
upon every particular, that it could not consist either with gratitude or good manners, to
refuse giving him what satisfaction I was able. Yet thus much I may be allowed to say in
my own vindication, that I artfully eluded many of his questions, and gave to every point
a more favourable turn, by many degrees, than the strictness of truth would allow. For I
have always borne that laudable partiality to my own country, which Dionysius
Halicarnassensis, with so much justice, recommends to an historian: I would hide the
frailties and deformities of my political mother, and place her virtues and beauties in the
most advantageous light. This was my sincere endeavour in those many discourses I had
with that monarch, although it unfortunately failed of success.
But great allowances should be given to a king, who lives wholly secluded from the rest
of the world, and must therefore be altogether unacquainted with the manners and
customs that most prevail in other nations: the want of which knowledge will ever
produce many prejudices, and a certain narrowness of thinking, from which we, and the
politer countries of Europe, are wholly exempted. And it would be hard indeed, if so
remote a prince's notions of virtue and vice were to be offered as a standard for all
To confirm what I have now said, and further to show the miserable effects of a confined
education, I shall here insert a passage, which will hardly obtain belief. In hopes to
ingratiate myself further into his majesty's favour, I told him of "an invention, discovered
between three and four hundred years ago, to make a certain powder, into a heap of
which, the smallest spark of fire falling, would kindle the whole in a moment, although it
were as big as a mountain, and make it all fly up in the air together, with a noise and
agitation greater than thunder. That a proper quantity of this powder rammed into a
hollow tube of brass or iron, according to its bigness, would drive a ball of iron or lead,
with such violence and speed, as nothing was able to sustain its force. That the largest
balls thus discharged, would not only destroy whole ranks of an army at once, but batter
the strongest walls to the ground, sink down ships, with a thousand men in each, to the
bottom of the sea, and when linked together by a chain, would cut through masts and
rigging, divide hundreds of bodies in the middle, and lay all waste before them. That we
often put this powder into large hollow balls of iron, and discharged them by an engine
into some city we were besieging, which would rip up the pavements, tear the houses to
pieces, burst and throw splinters on every side, dashing out the brains of all who came