“Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift (1726) – Part 2: A Voyage to Brobdingnag (Ch. 5-8)

“Small… Far Away…”

“Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift (1726) – Part 2: A Voyage to Brobdingnag (Ch. 5-8)

Chapter 5

  • One day before the dwarf left, Glumdalclitch & Gulliver were out walking under a small apple tree & the little guy shook the branches & apples the size of barrels fell. One of the hit him on the back & laid him out
    • Gulliver was caught alone in a hail storm & got pelleted by hail stones the size of tennis balls. Apparently hail stones there can get to 1800x the size of those back home. Gulliver was laid out in bed for 10 days to recover from the bruises
    • Another time, while alone in the garden, the gardener’s dog grabbed him & delivered him to his owner. Fortunately, no teeth were involved. The gardener returned Gulliver to Glumdalclitch. The less said to the Queen about this, the better.
      • Glumdalclitch was determined never to let him outo f her sight because things only went wrong while she was away. Gulliver felt that he was just unlucky with animals, even back home
      • Here, birds attacked him, stole his food & made him generally nervous
  • The Queen’s friends invited him around all the time. They placed him between their tits. The smell was awful, mostly because he was so small & the smell was so large
    • It made him think how the Lilliputians must have thought he smelled like after working hard on a hot, sweaty day
    • These women were nice but strange – they stripped down to the nip – unpleasant looking because this skin seemed coarse, uneven & variant in color with loose hairs. One woman even sat him on her nipple
  • They went to an execution that nobody wanted to go to but they went anyway…
    • The condemned man had his head cut off with a 40 foot sword & the streams of blood were like the fountains at Versailles. The bounce of the head on the floor could be felt from a mile away
  • The Queen had a boat built with oars & sails for him to row & sail around in a giant 300 foot trough to play around in
    • They blew on his boat so he could use his sails to move around
    • Once Glumdalclitch nearly dropped him in the tub but he was able to hang onto a pin on her shirt
    • A frog jumped around in the trough onto his boat & Gulliver had to beat him off with an oar
  • A kitchen clerk kept a monkey who became interested in Gulliver while he was hanging out in his house. The monkey grabbed him as if he was its baby. The critter climbed up into the rafters with him & had to have half the palace staff get him down with ladders & all kinds of ad hoc tools.
    • He was so bruised by the experience he was bed ridden for 2 weeks. The monkey was killed & animals were banned from the palace.
    • The King asked Gulliver about monkeys back home. There weren’t any native to Europe but the ones imported ones were small.
    • The King couldn’t stop laughing about the story. Gulliver felt like he’d never be taken seriously in Brobdingnag.
    • Glumdalclitch felt compelled to tell the Queen about every little event that she might find funny, like Gulliver falling face down into a giant pile of cow shit

Chapter 6

  • Gulliver attended the King’s assembly & watched him shave, asking to use the King’s whiskers to make a comb & the Queen’s hair for chair backs & seats, as well as a small decorative purse that Clumdalclitch used as a toy
  • Gulliver was often invited to concerts but the music was so deafening that he had to be placed in the back of the hall with his box closed in order to appreciate the music
    • He wanted to play Glumdalclitch’s 60 foot piano but it was too large (obviously). So he devised a trick where he used 2 sticks he could use to beat on the keys while standing on the bench. It was a workout but the people listening seemed to enjoy it
  • The King asked him about Britain, Ireland & the American colonies, including Parliament, courts & society in general. Gulliver explained
    • House of Lords – Old & noble families counselled the King & the country, are a part of the legislature & judicature, representing good faith, valor & loyalty. They constituted the superiors of the religion & the spiritual fathers of the clergy & people
    • House of Commons – Gentlemen freely chosen by the people & representing wisdom of the whole nation. Combined with the King & the House of Lords, they make up the best legislature in all of Europe
    • Courts of Justice – Judges interpreted law & presided over courts, determining the rights & properties of men, punishment of crimes & protecting the innocent
    • He told the King about the Treasury, Army, Navy, Sports & Pastimes, as well as general English history
      • Gulliver told the King these things over many sessions & after going over his notes & began to ask a lot of questions:
        • Re. Lords:
          • How do they cultivate minds & bodies of young nobility?
          • How do they spend the earliest parts of life?
          • What happened with extinct noble families?
          • How do new Lords come  about: bribes, favors, etc.?
          • What happened to parties working against public interest?
          • How do the Lords decide for the public & not themselves?
          • Do the Lords in religion live holy lives or are they just given positions based on nobility?
        • Re. Commons:
          • Is there a chance a rich man can buy votes to turn voters against landlords or gentlemen?
          • Why would people spend money to become MPs if it exposed their families to financial risk?
          • Would they uphold the public good or their own?
        • Re. Justice:
          • How much time was spent on determining right from wrong?
          • To what degree & at what expense?
          • Did lawyers plead cases that were obviously unjust?
          • Did political parties play a role in justice?
          • Were lawyers educated in general equity? Or just in a nation or local sense?
          • Did they ever argue for or against the same cause & use precedents to give contrary opinions
          • How much do they earn doing this?
        • Re. Treasury:
          • About taxes: How can a kingdom run so easily at a loss but an ordinary person would be ruined doing the same thing?
          • Who were the creditors?
          • Where was the money to pay back the debt found?
        • Re. Military:
          • Expensive & extensive wars – you must be quarrelsome people or very bad neighbors
          • The generals must be richer than kings
          • How can you trade abroad without a much larger navy than you have now?
          • How can you allow a standing army around in a time of peace?
          • How can you be afraid of anyone if you’re governed by your own consent?
          • Isn’t a man’s house best defended by himself? Rather than hiring a band of ruffians who can easily hold the people hostage
        • Re. Population:
          • How can you measure population using figures from religious & political sects?
            • Why wouldn’t they lie about their numbers?
        • Re. Sports & Pastimes:
          • At what age do people to start gambling?
          • How much times is used in doing it?
          • Did it ever affect their wealth?
          • Did people ever get rich purely off gambling?
          • Are nobles & politicians ever in trouble over gambling?
          • Did it not impede people’s intellectual growth & make them do awful things?
        • Re. History:
          • The king was horrified at the conspiracies, murder, rebellion, revolutions, massacres – all out of greed, faction, hypocrisy, trickery, cruelty, anger, madness, hatred & ambition
        • The King’s reponse to all of Gulliver’s lectures:
          • The King told him that it seemed the qualifications of being a legislator were to be ignorant, lazy & vicious
          • Laws are left to be interpreted by the best at perverting, confounding & eluding the laws
          • The original purpose for the institutions may have been fine by they’ve been fine but they’ve been corrupted
            • They don’t encourage virtue, piety, learning, valor, integrity, patriotism or wisdom
            • He said that Gulliver was luck to have escaped this terrible race of vermin

Chapter 7

  • The King’s questions about England & assessment of the place put Gulliver in discomfort & made him defensive
    • He tired to put a positive spin on his answers but still told the truth by playing up the good & playing down the bad. It didn’t work
    • Gulliver thought it was due to his seclusion from the rest of the world which may have cause narrow thinking & shouldn’t be held up as a standard for manking
  • Gulliver tried to ingratiate himself to the king by explaining what gunpowder was, how it was made & how to use it
    • He had to use generic terms for “gun” & “barrel” like “iron tube”, etc. telling him of the damage & large explosions it made to people, buildings, cities & ships
    • He thought the King would be interested in it but in fact he was horrified by the descriptions & was shocked how a tiny insect like him can speak like this without flinching
    • The inventor must have been an evil genius
    • He also ordered Gulliver never to speak of it again
  • Gulliver found it strange a man who liked learning, wisdom & technology would shudder at the mention of gunpowder
    • The King didn’t like the idea of politics being reduced to a science & only left it to use of sense & reason, speedy justice & improving human welfare more important
    • Learning was confined to morality, history, poetry & math. These subjects are confined to improving technology & human welfare. But abstract uses are completely foreign to them
    • Laws were confined to 22 words (same number of letters in the Alphabet)
      • They express themselves in plain terms & don’t try to establish multiple interpretation & it was illegal to write commentaries on the law
    • They’ve had printing forever but don’t really have many books
      • He was allowed to read books with special rigging on a ladder. It was exhausting to get down & turn each page
      • The language was simple & succinct mostly on history & morality
      • One text was on the frailty of their humanity. It was interesting such giants see themselves as weak & vulnerable. They drew moral conclusions but mirrored human views
  • The military had 176000 soldiers on foot & 32000 on horseback whose commanders were unpaid nobility
    • These are very well-trained & equipped
    • Farmers are commanded by the landlords & citizens by the principal men of the cities
    • The drills & exercises would astonish you for the size & numbers
      • But it was very strange since they’re completely isolated to foreigners, no nobility vying for power, no people clamoring for liberty & everyone obeying the laws happily

Chapter 8

  • The King had orders to take any ship seen off the coast & impound it. If there was a woman on board, he hoped to mate her with Gulliver to continue the “breed”. Gulliver didn’t like the idea of being made to breed like an animal & kept as a curiosity. Plus, he had a wife back home.
    • At this point, he’d been there for 2 years
  • The King & Queen took Glumdalclitch & Gulliver down to the Southern Coast for a getaway. Both Glumdalclitch & Gulliver came down with a cold, although hers was much worse.
    • Gulliver wanted some sea air & had a page boy carry him around while Glumdalclitch slept. They went for a short walk & Gulliver asked to be left alone to take a nap in his box with the windows & ceiling closed
    • Suddenly, his room jerked around & then flew up & up. He cried out for help but in vain
    • Looking out the window, he saw only sky. He figured out that it must have been an eagle picking him up to break him over a rock & to eat him like a tortoise.
    • Then he felt himself falling, only to crash a minute later. Then there was only darkness. The eagle must have dropped him for one reason or another.
    • The box didn’t suffer much & was so well constructed that hardly any water came in
    • He thought of Glumdalclitch & how the Queen would react to the news of his appearance. Then he thought of his precarious situation & how he might die
    • Suddenly there was a grating sound with the box being pulled. He yelled out for help. Someone yelled back – it was an English ship. A carpenter sawed a hole in the ceiling & he was pulled out
    • The sailors asked him a million questions that he really did not want to answer.  The Captain offered him to sleep in his cabin. Before he went to sleep, he asked for all the furniture in the box to be taken aboard. However, must of it was badly damaged
    • Once he woke up from his nap & came to supper, the Captain asked him about his situation. Gulliver was acting squirrelly, making the Captain think he was either an escaped prisoner or crazy
    • The sailors told him of how they discovered & rescued him. They’d seen 3 eagles but they didn’t seem large. It might have been due to a trick of perspective
    • The Captain quizzed him on his reluctance to talk & the strange thing he’d said & the strange way he’d behaved when he first came aboard
    • Gulliver told the Captain everything & showed him some of his souvenirs from his box – incredibly long pins & needles, wasp stings, strand of the Queen’s hair, Glumdalclitch’s toe corn (fucking gross), mouse skin pants. He gave the Captain a giant tooth from one of the servants.
      • The Captain suggested that he publish his story once he got home. He also asked him about why he was always shouting. Gulliver answered because he was used to very tall people who could barely hear his soft voice.
  • They got home on June 3, 1706 & he went back to his house, where everything & everyone seemed so small to him that he thought he was back in Lilliput
    • He greeted his wife & kids. They all thought he had gone crazy. His wife asked him never to go back out to sea

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