‘Gulliver’s Travels’ Introduction

A LETTER FROM CAPT. GULLIVER,* TO
HIS COUSIN SYMPSON*
I hope you will be ready to own publickly, whenever you shall be
called to it, that by your great and frequent Urgency you prevailed
on me to publish a very loose and uncorrect Account of my Travels;
with Direction to hire some young Gentlemen of either University
to put them in Order, and correct the Style, as my Cousin Dampier*
did by my Advice, in his Book called, A Voyage round the World. But I
do not remember I gave you Power to consent, that any thing should
be omitted, and much less that any thing should be inserted: Therefore,
as to the latter, I do here renounce every thing of that Kind;
particularly a Paragraph* about her Majesty the late Queen Anne, of
most pious and glorious Memory; although I did reverence and
esteem her more than any of human Species. But you, or your Interpolator,
ought to have considered, that as it was not my Inclination,
so was it not decent to praise any Animal of our Composition* before
my Master Houyhnhnm:* And besides, the Fact was altogether false;
for to my Knowledge, being in England during some Part of her
Majesty’s Reign, she did govern by a chief Minister; nay, even by
two successively; the first whereof was the Lord of Godolphin, and
the second the Lord of Oxford;* so that you have made me say the
thing that was not.* Likewise, in the Account of the Academy of
Projectors, and several Passages of my Discourse to my Master
Houyhnhnm, you have either omitted some material Circumstances,
or minced or changed them in such a Manner, that I do hardly know
mine own Work.* When I formerly hinted to you something of this in
a Letter, you were pleased to answer, that you were afraid of giving
Offence; that People in Power were very watchful over the Press; and
apt not only to interpret, but to punish every thing which looked like
an Inuendo (as I think you called it.)* But pray, how could that which I
spoke so many Years ago, and at about five Thousand Leagues distance,
in another Reign, be applyed to any of the Yahoos,* who now
are said to govern the Herd; especially, at a time when I little thought
on or feared the Unhappiness of living under them. Have not I the
most Reason to complain, when I see these very Yahoos carried by
Houyhnhnms in a Vehicle, as if these* were Brutes, and those*
the rational Creatures? And, indeed, to avoid so monstrous and
detestable a Sight, was one principal Motive of my Retirement
hither.*
Thus much I thought proper to tell you in Relation to yourself,
and to the Trust I reposed in you.
I do in the next Place complain of my own great Want of Judgment,
in being prevailed upon by the Intreaties and false Reasonings of you
and some others, very much against mine own Opinion, to suffer my
Travels to be published. Pray bring to your Mind how often I desired
you to consider, when you insisted on the Motive of publick Good;
that the Yahoos were a Species of Animals utterly incapable of
Amendment by Precepts or Examples: And so it hath proved; for
instead of seeing a full Stop put to all Abuses and Corruptions, at
least in this little Island, as I had Reason to expect: Behold, after
above six Months Warning, I cannot learn that my Book hath produced
one single Effect according to mine Intentions: I desired you
would let me know by a Letter, when Party and Faction were extinguished;
Judges learned and upright; Pleaders honest and modest,
with some Tincture of common Sense; and Smithfield* blazing with
Pyramids of Law-Books; the young Nobility’s Education entirely
changed; the Physicians banished; the Female Yahoos abounding in
Virtue, Honour, Truth and good Sense: Courts and Levees of great
Ministers thoroughly weeded and swept; Wit, Merit and Learning
rewarded; all Disgracers of the Press in Prose and Verse, condemned
to eat nothing but their own Cotten* and quench their Thirst with
their own Ink. These, and a Thousand other Reformations, I firmly
counted upon by your Encouragement; as indeed they were plainly
deducible from the Precepts delivered in my Book. And, it must be
owned, that seven Months were a sufficient Time to correct every
Vice and Folly to which Yahoos are subject; if their Natures had been
capable of the least Disposition to Virtue or Wisdom: Yet so far have
you been from answering mine Expectation in any of your Letters;
that on the contrary, you are loading our Carrier every Week with
Libels, and Keys, and Reflections, and Memoirs, and Second Parts;*
wherein I see myself accused of reflecting upon great States-Folk; of
degrading human Nature, (for so they have still the Confidence to
stile it), and of abusing the Female Sex. I find likewise, that the
Writers of those Bundles are not agreed among themselves; for some
of them will not allow me to be Author of mine own Travels; and
others make me Author of Books to which I am wholly a Stranger.
I find likewise, that your Printer hath been so careless as to confound
the Times,* and mistake the Dates of my several Voyages and
Returns; neither assigning the true Year, or the true Month, or Day
of the Month: And I hear the original Manuscript is all destroyed,*
since the Publication of my Book. Neither have I any Copy left;
however, I have sent you some Corrections, which you may insert, if
ever there should be a second Edition: And yet I cannot stand to
them,* but shall leave that Matter to my judicious and candid
Readers, to adjust it as they please.
I hear some of our Sea-Yahoos find Fault with my Sea-
Language, as not proper in many Parts, nor now in Use.* I cannot
help it. In my first Voyages, while I was young, I was instructed by
the oldest Mariners, and learned to speak as they did. But I have
since found that the Sea-Yahoos are apt, like the Land ones, to
become new fangled in their Words; which the latter change every
Year; insomuch, as I remember upon each Return to mine own
Country, their old Dialect was so altered, that I could hardly
understand the new. And I observe, when any Yahoo comes from
London out of Curiosity to visit me at mine own House, we neither
of us are able to deliver our Conceptions* in a Manner intelligible
to the other.
If the Censure of Yahoos could any Way affect me, I should have
great Reason to complain, that some of them are so bold as to think
my Book of Travels a meer Fiction out of mine own Brain; and have
gone so far as to drop Hints, that the Houyhnhnms and Yahoos have
no more Existence than the Inhabitants of Utopia.*
Indeed I must confess, that as to the people of Lilliput, Brobdingrag,
(for so the Word should have been spelt, and not erroneously
Brobdingnag), and Laputa, I have never yet heard of any Yahoo so
presumptuous as to dispute their Being, or the Facts I have related
concerning them; because the Truth immediately strikes every
Reader with Conviction.* And, is there less Probability in my
Account of the Houyhnhnms or Yahoos, when it is manifest as to the
latter, there are so many Thousands even in this City, who only differ
from their Brother Brutes in Houyhnhnmland, because they use a
Sort of Jabber, and do not go naked. I wrote for their Amendment,
and not their Approbation. The united Praise of the whole Race
would be of less Consequence to me, than the neighing of those two
degenerate Houyhnhnms I keep in my Stable; because, from these,
degenerate as they are, I still improve in some Virtues, without any
Mixture of Vice.
Do these miserable Animals* presume to think that I am so far
degenerated as to defend my Veracity; Yahoo as I am, it is well
known through all Houyhnhnmland, that by the Instructions and
Example of my illustrious Master, I was able in the Compass of two
Years (although I confess with the utmost Difficulty) to remove that
infernal Habit of Lying, Shuffling, Deceiving, and Equivocating, so
deeply rooted in the very Souls of all my Species; especially the
Europeans.
I have other Complaints to make upon this vexatious Occasion;
but I forbear troubling myself or you any further. I must freely
confess, that since my last Return, some Corruptions of my Yahoo
Nature have revived in me by conversing with a few of your Species,
and particularly those of mine own Family, by an unavoidable
Necessity; else I should never have attempted so absurd a Project as
that of reforming the Yahoo Race in this Kingdom; but I have now
done with all such visionary Schemes for ever.
April 2, 1727
THE PUBLISHER TO THE READER*
The author of these Travels, Mr Lemuel Gulliver, is my ancient
and intimate Friend; there is likewise some Relation between us by
the Mother’s Side. About three Years ago Mr Gulliver growing
weary of the Concourse of curious People coming to him at his
House in Redriff,* made a small Purchase of Land, with a convenient
House, near Newark, in Nottinghamshire, his native Country; where
he now lives retired, yet in good Esteem among his Neighbours.
Although Mr Gulliver was born in Nottinghamshire, where his
Father dwelt, yet I have heard him say, his Family came from Oxfordshire;
to confirm which, I have observed in the Church-Yard at
Banbury,* in that County, several Tombs and Monuments of the
Gullivers.
Before he quitted Redriff, he left the Custody of the following
Papers in my Hands, with the Liberty to dispose of them as I should
think fit. I have carefully perused them three Times: The Style is
very plain and simple; and the only Fault I find is, that the Author,
after the Manner of Travellers, is a little too circumstantial. There
is an Air of Truth apparent through the whole; and indeed the
Author was so distinguished for his Veracity,* that it became a Sort
of Proverb among his Neighbours at Redriff, when any one affirmed
a Thing, to say, it was as true as if Mr Gulliver had spoke it.
By the Advice of several worthy Persons, to whom, with the
Author’s Permission, I communicated these Papers, I now venture to
send them into the World; hoping they may be, at least for some
time, a better Entertainment to our young Noblemen, than the
common Scribbles of Politicks and Party.
This Volume would have been at least twice as large,* if I had not
made bold to strike out innumerable Passages relating to the Winds
and Tides,* as well as to the Variations and Bearings in the several
Voyages; together with the minute Descriptions of the Management
of the Ship in Storms, in the Style of Sailors: Likewise the Account
of the Longitudes and Latitudes; wherein I have Reason to apprehend
that Mr Gulliver may be a little dissatisfied: But I was resolved
to fit the Work as much as possible to the general Capacity of
Readers. However, if my own Ignorance in Sea-Affairs shall have led
me to commit some Mistakes, I alone am answerable for them: And
if any Traveller hath a Curiosity to see the whole Work at large, as it
came from the Hand of the Author, I will be ready to gratify him.
As for any further Particulars relating to the Author, the Reader
will receive Satisfaction from the first Pages of the Book.
Richard Sympson

"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."