Gulliver's Travels HTML version

Chapter III.2
[The humours and dispositions of the Laputians described. An account of their learning.
Of the king and his court. The author's reception there. The inhabitants subject to fear and
disquietudes. An account of the women.]
At my alighting, I was surrounded with a crowd of people, but those who stood nearest
seemed to be of better quality. They beheld me with all the marks and circumstances of
wonder; neither indeed was I much in their debt, having never till then seen a race of
mortals so singular in their shapes, habits, and countenances. Their heads were all
reclined, either to the right, or the left; one of their eyes turned inward, and the other
directly up to the zenith. Their outward garments were adorned with the figures of suns,
moons, and stars; interwoven with those of fiddles, flutes, harps, trumpets, guitars,
harpsichords, and many other instruments of music, unknown to us in Europe. I observed,
here and there, many in the habit of servants, with a blown bladder, fastened like a flail to
the end of a stick, which they carried in their hands. In each bladder was a small quantity
of dried peas, or little pebbles, as I was afterwards informed. With these bladders, they
now and then flapped the mouths and ears of those who stood near them, of which
practice I could not then conceive the meaning. It seems the minds of these people are so
taken up with intense speculations, that they neither can speak, nor attend to the
discourses of others, without being roused by some external taction upon the organs of
speech and hearing; for which reason, those persons who are able to afford it always keep
a flapper (the original is climenole) in their family, as one of their domestics; nor ever
walk abroad, or make visits, without him. And the business of this officer is, when two,
three, or more persons are in company, gently to strike with his bladder the mouth of him
who is to speak, and the right ear of him or them to whom the speaker addresses himself.
This flapper is likewise employed diligently to attend his master in his walks, and upon
occasion to give him a soft flap on his eyes; because he is always so wrapped up in
cogitation, that he is in manifest danger of falling down every precipice, and bouncing his
head against every post; and in the streets, of justling others, or being justled himself into
the kennel.
It was necessary to give the reader this information, without which he would be at the
same loss with me to understand the proceedings of these people, as they conducted me
up the stairs to the top of the island, and from thence to the royal palace. While we were
ascending, they forgot several times what they were about, and left me to myself, till their
memories were again roused by their flappers; for they appeared altogether unmoved by
the sight of my foreign habit and countenance, and by the shouts of the vulgar, whose
thoughts and minds were more disengaged.
At last we entered the palace, and proceeded into the chamber of presence, where I saw
the king seated on his throne, attended on each side by persons of prime quality. Before
the throne, was a large table filled with globes and spheres, and mathematical instruments
of all kinds. His majesty took not the least notice of us, although our entrance was not
without sufficient noise, by the concourse of all persons belonging to the court. But he