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was I much in their debt; having never till then feen a race of mortals fo fingular in their shapes, habits, and countenances. Their heads were all reclined either to the right or to 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 funs, moons, and stars, interwoven with thofe of fiddles, flutes, harps, trumpets, guittars, harpficords, and many other inftruments of mufic unknown to us in Europe. I ob. ferved here and there many in the habit of fervants, with a blown bladder fastened like a flayl to the end of a short stick, which they carried in their hands. In each bladder was a fmall quantity of dried peas, or little pebbles, (as I was afterwards informed.) With thefe bladders they now and then flapped the mouths and ears of those who ftood near them, of which practice I then could not conceive the meaning. It feems the minds of thofe people are fo taken up with intenfe fpeculations, that they neither can fpeak, nor attend to the difcourfes of others, without being roufed by fome external taction upon the organs of speech and hearing; for which reason, thofe perfons who are able to afford it, always keep a flapper (the original is climenole,) in their family, as one of their domeftics, nor ever walk abroad, or make vifits without him. And the business of this officer is, when two, three, or more perfons, are in company, gently to ftrike with his bladder the mouth of him who is to fpeak, and the right ear of him or them to whom the fpeaker addreffeth himfelf. This flapper is likewife employed diligently to attend his mafter in his walks, and upon occafion to give him a soft flap on his eyes, because he is always fo wrapped up in cogitation, that he is in manifeft danger of falling down every precipice, and

*By this defcription the author intended to ridicule thofe who wafte life in fpeculative fcience, the powers of whofe minds are as abfurdly employed as the eyes of the Laputians,


bouncing his head against every poft; and in the ftreets, of juftling others, or being juftled himself into the kennel.

It was neceffary to give the reader this information, without which he would be at the fame lofs with me to understand the proceedings of these people, as they conducted me up the stairs to the top of the ifland, and from thence to the royal palace. While we were afcending, they forgot feveral times what they were about, and left me to myfelf, till their memories were again roufed by their flappers; for they appeared altogether unmoved by the fight of my foreign habit and countenance, and by the fhouts of the vulgar, whofe thoughts and minds were more difengaged.

At laft we entered the palace, and proceeded into the chamber of prefence, where I faw the King feated on his throne, attended on each fide by perfons of prime quality. Before the throne was a large table filled with globes and fpheres, and mathematical inftruments of all kinds. His Majesty took not the leaft notice of us, although our entrance was not without fufficient noife, by the concourfe of all perfons belonging to the court. But he was then deep in a problem, and we attended at least an hour, before he could folve it. There ftood by him on each fide a young page with flaps. in their hands, and when they faw he was at leifure, one of them gently ftruck his mouth, and the other his right ear; at which he started like one awaked on the fudden, and, looking towards me and the company I was in, recollected the occafion of our coming, whereof he had been informed before. He fpoke fome words, whereupon immediately a young man with a flap came up to my fide, and flapt me gently on the right ear, but I made figns, as well as I could, that I had no occafion for fuch an inftrument; which, as I afterwards found, gave his Majefty and the whole court a very mean opinion


of my understanding. The King, as far as I could conjecture, afked me feveral questions, and I addreffed myself to him in all the languages I had. When it was found, that I could neither underftand, nor be understood, I was conducted by his order to an apartment in his palace, (this prince being diftinguished above all his predeceffors for his hofpitality to ftrangers, (where two fervants were appointed to attend me. My dinner was brought, and four perfons of quality, whom I remembered to have feen very near the King's perfon, did me the honour to dine with me. We had two courfes, of three difhes each. In the first course there was a fhoulder of mutton cut into an æquilateral triangle, a piece of beef into a rhomboides, and a pudding into a cycloid. The fecond courfe was two ducks truffed up into the form of fiddles; faufages and puddings resembling flutes and hautboys, and a breaft of veal in the fhape of a harp. The fervants cut our bread into cones, cylinders, parallelograms, and several other mathematical figures.

While we were at dinner, I made bold to ask the names of several things in their language, and those noble perfons, by the affiftance of their flappers delighted to give me anfwers, hoping to raife my admiration of their great abilities, if I could be brought to converse with them. I was foon able to call for bread and drink, or whatever elfe I wanted.

After dinner my company withdrew, and a perfon was fent to me by the King's order, attended by a flapper. He brought with him pen, ink, and paper, and three or four books, giving me to understand by figns, that he was fent to teach me the language. We fat together four hours, in which time I wrote down a great number of words in columns, with the tranflations over-againft them; I likewife made a fhift to learn feveral fhort fentences. For my tutor would order one of my fervants to fetch fomething, to turn about, to make a bow, to

fit, or to ftand, or walk, and the like. Then I took down the fentence in writing. He fhewed me alfo in one of his books the figures of the fun, moon, and ftars, the tropics, the zodiac, and polar circles, together with the denominations of many figures of planes and folids. He gave me the names and defcriptions of all the mufical inftruments, and the general terms of art in playing on each of them. After he had left me, I placed all my words with their interpretations in alphabetical order. And thus in a few days, by the help of a very faithful memory, I got fome infight into their language.

The word, which I interpret the flying or floating iland, is in the original Laputa, whereof I could never learn the true etymology. Lap in the old obfolete language fignifieth high, and untuth a governor, from which they fay by corruption was derived Laputa, from Lapuntuth. But I do not approve of this derivation, which feems to be a little ftrained. I ventured to offer to the learned among them a conjecture of my own, that Laputa was quafi lap outed: lap fignifying properly the dancing of the fun beams in the fea, and outed a wing, which however I fhall not obtrude, but fubmit to the judicious reader.

Those to whom the King had intrusted me, obferving how ill I was clad, ordered a taylor to come next morning, and take measure for a fuit of cloaths. This operator did his office after a different manner from thofe of his trade in Europe. He first took my altitude by a quadrant, and then with rule and compaffes defcribed the dimenfions and out-lines of my whole body, all which he entered upon paper; and in fix days brought my cloaths very ill made and quite out of fhape, by happening to miftake a figure in the calculation. But my comfort was, that I obferved fuch accidents very frequent, and little regarded.

During my confinement for want of cloaths, and


by an indifpofition that held me fome days longer, I'much enlarged my dictionary; and when I went next to court, was able to understand many things the King ipoke, and to return him fome kind of anfwers. His Majefty had given orders, that the island should move north caft and by east to the vertical point over Lagado, the metropolis of the whole kingdom below upon the firm earth. It was about ninety leagues diftant, and our voyage lafted four days and a half. I was not in the leaft fenfible of the progreffive motion made in the air by the ifland. On the fecond morning about eleven a clock the King himself in perfon attended by his nobility, courtiers, and officers, having prepared all their musical inftruments, played on them for three hours without intermiffion, fo that I was quite ftunned with the noife; neither could I poffi. bly guess the meaning, till my tutor informed me. He faid, that the people of their ifland had their ears adapted to hear the mufic of the fpheres, which always played at certain periods, and the court was now prepared to bear their part, in whats ever inftrument they moft excelled.

In our journey towards Lagado, the capital city, his Majesty ordered that the island should stop over certain towns and villages, from whence he might receive the petitions of his fubjects. And to this purpose feveral pack-threads were let down with fmall weights at the bottom. On these pack-threads the people ftrung their petitions, which mounted up directly, like the fcraps of paper faftened by fchool-boys at the end of the ftring that holds their kite. Sometimes we received wine and victuals from below, which were drawn up by pullies.

The knowledge I had in mathematics gave me great affiftance in acquiring, their phrafeology, which depended much upon that fcience, and mufic; and in the latter I was not unfkilled. Their ideas are perpetually converfant in lines and figures.

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