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Gulliver's Travels (1726)

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Jonathan Swift


Chapter VI

A further Account of the Academy. The Author proposes some Improvements which are honourably received.
1 IN the School of Political Projectors I was but ill entertained, the Professors appearing in my Judgment wholly out of their Senses, which is a Scene that never fails to make me melancholy. These unhappy People were proposing Schemes for persuading Monarchs to chuse Favourites upon the Score of their Wisdom, Capacity and Virtue; of teaching Ministers to consult the Publick Good; or rewarding Merit, great Abilities and eminent Services; of instructing Princes to know their true Interest by placing it on the same Foundation with that of their People: Of chusing for Employments Persons qualified to exercise them; with many other wild impossible Chimaeras, that never entred before into the heart of Man to conceive, and confirmed in me the old Observation, that there is nothing so extravagant and irrational which some Philosophers have not maintained for Truth.
2 BUT, however I shall so far do Justice to this Part of the Academy, as to acknowledge that all of them were not so visionary. There was a most Ingenious Doctor who seemed to be perfectly versed in the whole Nature and System of Government. This illustrious Person had very usefully employed his Studies in finding out effectual Remedys for all Diseases and Corruptions, to which the several kinds of publick Administration are subject by the Vices or Infirmities of those who govern, as well as by the Licentious ness of those who are to obey. For instance; Whereas all Writers and Reasoners have agreed, that there is a strict universal Resemblance between the Natural and the Political Body; can there be any thing more evident, than that the health of both must be preserved, and the Diseases cured by the same Prescription? It is allowed, that Senates and great Councils are often troubled with redundant, ebullient, and other peccant Humours, with many Diseases of the Head, and more of the Heart; with strong Convulsions, with grievous Contractions of the Nerves and Sinews in both Hands, but especially the Right: With Spleen, Flatus, Vertigos and Deliriums; with Scrophulous Tumours full of faetid purulent Matter; with sower frothy Ructations, with Canine Appetites and crudeness of Digestion, besides many others needless to mention. This Doctor therefore proposed, that upon the meeting of a Senate, certain Physicians should attend at the three first Days of their sitting, and at the Close of each days Debate, feel the Pulses of every Senator; after which having maturely considered, and consulted upon the Nature of the several Maladies, and the method of Cure, they should on the fourth Day return to the Senate House, attended by their Apothecaries stored with proper Medicines, and before the Members sate, administer to each of them Lenitives, Aperitives, Abstersives, Corrosives, Restringents, Palliatives, Laxatives, Cephalagicks, Ictericks, Apophlegmaticks, Acousticks, as their several cases required, and according as these Medicines should operate, repeat, alter, or omit them at the next Meeting.
3 THIS Project could not be of any great Expence to the Publick, and would in my poor opinion, be of much Use for the dispatch of Business in those Countries where Senates have any share in the Legislative Power, beget Unanimity, shorten Debates, open a few Mouths which are now closed, and close many more which are now open; curb the Petulancy of the Young, and correct the Positiveness of the Old; rouze the Stupid, and damp the Pert.
4 AGAIN, Because it is a general Complaint that the Favourites of Princes are troubled with short and weak Memories; the same Doctor proposed, that whoever attended a First Minister, after having told his business with the utmost Brevity, and in the plainest Words; should at his Departure give the said Minister a Tweak by the Nose, or a kick in the Belly, or tread on his Corns, or lug him thrice by both Ears, or run a Pin into his Breech, or pinch his Arm black and blew, to prevent Forgetfulness: and at every Levee Day repeat the same Operation, till the Business were done or absolutely refused.
5 HE likewise directed, that every Senator in the great Council of a Nation, after he had delivered his Opinion, and argued in the Defence of it, should be obliged to give his Vote directly contrary; because if that were done, the Result would infallibly terminate in the Good of the Publick.
6 WHEN Parties in a State are violent, he offered a wonderful Contrivance to reconcile them. The Method is this. You take an Hundred Leaders of each Party, you dispose of them into Couples of such whose Heads are nearest of a size; then let two nice Operators saw off the Occiput of each Couple at the same time, in such a manner that the Brain may be equally divided. Let the Occiputs thus cut off be interchanged, applying each to the Head of his opposite Party-man. It seems indeed to be a Work that requireth some exactness, but the Professor assured us, that if it were dextrously performed, the Cure would be infallible. For he argued thus; that the two half Brains being left to debate the Matter between themselves within the space of one Scull, would soon come to a good Understanding, and produce that Moderation as well as Regularity of thinking, so much to be wished for in the Heads of those, who imagine they come into the World only to watch and govern its Motion: And as to the difference of Brains in Quantity or Quality, among those who are Directors in Faction; the Doctor assured us from his own knowledge, that it was a perfect Trifle.
7 I heard a very warm Debate between two Professors, about the most commodious and effectual ways and means of raising Money without grieving the Subject. The first affirmed the justest Method would be to lay a certain Tax upon Vices and Folly, and the Sum fixed upon every Man, to be rated after the fairest manner by a Jury of his Neighbours. The second was of an Opinion directly contrary, to tax those Qualities of Body and Mind for which Men chiefly value themselves, the Rate to be more or less according to the Degrees of excelling, the Decision whereof should be left entirely to their own Breast. The highest Tax was upon Men, who are the greatest Favourites of the other Sex, and the Assessments according to the Number and Natures of the Favours they have received; for which they are allowed to be their own Vouchers. Wit, Valour, and Politeness were likewise proposed to be largely Taxed, and collected in the same manner, by every Persons giving his own Word for the Quantum of what he possessed. But as to Honour, Justice, Wisdom and Learning, they should not be taxed at all, because they are Qualifications of so singular a kind, that no Man will either allow them in his Neighbour, or value them in himself.
8 THE Women were proposed to be taxed according to their Beauty and skill in Dressing, wherein they had the same Priviledge with the Men, to be determined by their own Judgment. But Constancy, Chastity, good Sense, and good Nature were not rated, because they would not bear the Charge of Collecting.
9 TO keep Senators in the Interest of the Crown, it was proposed that the Members should raffle for Employments, every Man first taking an Oath, and giving Security that he would Vote for the Court, whether he won or no, after which the Losers had in their Turn the liberty of Raffling upon the next Vacancy. Thus Hope and Expectation would be kept alive, none would complain of broken Promises, but impute their Disappointments wholly to Fortune, whose Shoulders are broader and stronger than those of a Ministry.
10 ANOTHER Professor shewed me a large Paper of Instructions for discovering Plots and Conspiracies against the Government. He advised great Statesmen to examine into the Dyet of all suspected Persons; their times of eating; upon which side they lay in Bed; with which Hand they wiped their Posteriors; take a strict View of their Excrements, and from the Colour, the Odour, the Taste, the Consistance, the Crudeness, or Maturity of Digestion form a Judgment of their Thoughts and Designs. Because Men are never so Serious, Thoughtful, and Intent, as when they are at Stool, which he found by frequent Experiment: For in such Conjunctures, when he used meerly as a Trial, to consider which was the best way of murdering the King, his Ordure would have a Tincture of Green, but quite different when he thought only of raising an Insurrection or burning the Metropolis.
11 THE whole Discourse was written with great Acuteness, containing many Observations both curious and useful for Politicians, but as I conceived not altogether compleat. This I ventured to tell the Author, and offered if he pleased to supply him with some Additions. He received my Proposition with more Compliance than is usual among Writers, especially those of the projecting Species, professing he would be glad to receive farther Information.
12 I told him, that should I happen to live in a Kingdom where Plots and Conspiracies were either in vogue from the turbulency of the meaner People, or could be turned to the use and service of the higher Rank of them, I first would take care to cherish and encourage the breed of Discoverers, Witnesses, Informers, Accusers, Prosecutors, Evidences, Swearers, together with their several subservient and subaltern Instruments; and when I had got a competent Number of them of all sorts and Capacities, I would put them under the Colour and conduct of some dextrous Persons in sufficient power both to protect and reward them. Men thus qualified and thus empowered might make a most excellent use and advantage of Plots, they might raise their own Characters and pass for most profound Politicians, they might restore new Vigor to a crazy Administration, they might stifle or divert general Discontents; fill their Pockets with Forfeitures, and advance or sink the Opinion of Publick Credit, as either might answer their private Advantage. This might be done by first agreeing and settling among themselves what suspected Persons should be accused of a Plot. Then effectual care is taken to secure all their Letters and Papers, and put the Criminal in safe and secure Custody. These Papers might be delivered to a Sett of Artists of Dexterity sufficient to find out the mysterious Meanings of Words, Syllables, and Letters. They should be allowed to put what Interpretation they pleased upon them, giving them a Sense not only which has no relation at all to them, but even what is quite contrary to their true Intent and real Meaning; thus for Instance, they may, if they so fancy, interpret a Sieve to signify a Court Lady, a lame Dog an Invader, the Plague a standing Army, a Buzzard a great Statesman, the Gout a High Priest, a Chamber-pot a Committee of Grandees, a Broom a Revolution, a Mouse-trap an Imployment, a Bottomless-pit a Treasury, a Sink a Court, a Cap and Bells a Favorite, a broken Reed a Court of Justice, an empty Tun a General, a running Sore an Administration.
13 BUT should this Method fail, recourse might be had to others more effectual, by Learned Men called Acrosticks and Anagrams. First, might be found Men of Skill and Penetration who can discern that all initial Letters have political Meanings. Thus N shall signify a Plot, B a Regiment of Horse, L a Fleet at Sea. Or secondly, by transposing the Letters of the Alphabet in any suspected Paper, who can discover the deepest Designs of a discontented Party. So for example, if I should say in a Letter to a Friend, Our Brother Tom has just got the Piles, a Man of Skill in this Art would discover how the same Letters which compose that Sentence, may be analysed into the following Words; Resist,-- a Plot is brought Home--The Tour. And this is the Anagrammatick Method.
14 THE Professor made me great Acknowledgments for communicating these Observations, and promised to make honourable mention of me in his Treatise.
15 I saw nothing in this Country that could invite me to a longer Continuance, and began to think of returning home to England.

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