Young Folks' Treasury: Classic Tales and Old-Fashioned Stories HTML version

Gulliver's Travels: Voyage To Lilliput
Two hundred years ago, a great deal of the world as we now know it was still undiscovered;
there were yet very many islands, small and great, on which the eyes of white men had never
looked, seas in which nothing bigger than an Indian canoe had ever sailed.
A voyage in those days was not often a pleasant thing, for ships then were very bluff-bowed and
slow-sailing, and, for a long voyage, very ill-provided with food. There were no tinned meats
two hundred years ago, no luxuries for use even in the cabin. Sailors lived chiefly on salt junk, as
hard as leather, on biscuit that was generally as much weevil as biscuit, and the water that they
drank was evil-smelling and bad when it had been long in the ship's casks.
So, when a man said good-by to his friends and sailed away into the unknown, generally very
many years passed before he came back—if ever he came back at all. For the dangers of the seas
were then far greater than they now are, and if a ship was not wrecked some dark night on an
unknown island or uncharted reef, there was always the probability of meeting a pirate vessel
and of having to fight for life and liberty. Steam has nowadays nearly done away with pirates,
except on the China coast and in a few other out-of-the-way places. But things were different
long ago, before steamers were invented; and sailors then, when they came home, had many very
surprising things to tell their friends, many astonishing [pg
Gulliver was born in Nottinghamshire, and when he was only fourteen years old he was sent to
Emanuel College, Cambridge. There he remained till he was seventeen, but his father had not
money enough to keep him any longer at the University. So, as was then the custom for those
who meant to become doctors, he was bound apprentice to a surgeon in London, under whom he
studied for four years. But all the time, as often as his father sent him money, he spent some of it
in learning navigation (which means the art of finding your way across the sea, far from land).
He had always had a great longing to travel, and he thought that a knowledge of navigation
would be of use to him if he should happen to go a voyage.
After leaving London, he went to Germany, and there studied medicine for some years, with the
view of being appointed surgeon of a ship. And by the help of his late master in London, such a
post he did get on board the "Swallow" on which vessel he made several voyages. But tiring of
this, he settled in London, and, having married, began practise as a doctor.
He did not, however, make much money at that, and so for six years he again went to sea as a
surgeon, sailing both to the East and to the West Indies.
adventures to speak of, among the
strange peoples that they said they had met in far-off lands. One man, who saw more wonderful
things than any one else, was named Lemuel Gulliver, and I will try to tell you a little about one
of his voyages.