Voyages through vanities

Gulliver’s New Travels: Lemuel Gulliver Collides with the 21st Century

Guy Walker, self-published, 2022, 140pp, £4.99

DEREK TURNER is entertained by a clever updating of a classic

Satire, often thought of today as a liberal genre, can also be a conservative art. Any writing that relies for its comical or scourging effects upon the discrepancies between fantasy and truth, hypocrisy and sincerity, can lend itself easily to a conservative sense of realism, and distrust of fine rhetoric. Cant, dishonesty and foolishness are perennial, and no respecters of parties.

Satire was practised by Aeschylus and Euripides amongst others, who wrote plays as jocular tragedies, wherein the actions and words of serious characters were constantly being undercut by drunken, foul-mouthed, priapic satyrs. Such contrasts have a recurring appeal to a certain type of person, who may be of either ‘Left’ or ‘Right’, depending on who is in power, and how badly they are abusing that trust.

Chaucer belaboured corrupt clerics, not on anti-clerical but on pro-Church grounds. Satire was also deployed by reforming humanists like Sebastian Brant, whose still-read 1494 Das Narrenschiff (‘Ship of Fools’) was just one of many similar salutary works – not to mention Thomas More’s Utopia (1516). Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel was officially condemned, but 16th century Cardinals kept copies in their cassocks. Juvenal’s withering satires of the Rome of the first and second centuries were of intrinsic appeal to the 18th/19th century writer William Gifford, editor of the Quarterly Review (the journal which coined the term ‘Conservative’), who became one of the poet’s most successful interpreter-translators. The contemporary comedian Andrew Doyle uses his avatar ‘Titania McGrath’ to lampoon the inconsistencies of ‘intersectionalism’, and prick the priggishness and pomposity of over-sensitive orthodoxies. 

Jonathan Swift was first a Whig and then a Tory, whose loathing of the Deist and mercantilist currents of his time led him into morally outraged vituperation, most famously his 1829 Modest Proposal to deal with Irish poverty by advocating anthropophagy, at a time when the English authorities seemed content to let the Irish starve – a phrase which has become shorthand for any straight-faced outrageous suggestion. Most lastingly, of course, he dreamed up the disingenuous Lemuel Gulliver – a supposedly simple mariner cast up by shipwreck into a parallel universe, where the assumptions, institutions and practises are oddly reminiscent of those of early 18th century Europe, with just a wicked twist to emphasise the essential ridiculousness of the originals.

Gulliver epitomises Swift’s ideal of the Englishman – brave, enterprising, inquisitive, resourceful and sturdily commonsensical, with a tincture of Protestant prejudice. Gulliver’s Travels was deservedly successful, even if at times Swift’s touch is too heavy, and the conceit is carried on too long. Two centuries on, the English writer Guy Walker has been inspired to follow this great unflagging example, and apply Swiftian lucidity and smiling scorn to some of the deceits and rodomontade of today.

Walker is notably widely read and a retired teacher of language, attributes made evident by the orthographical exactitude of his text (‘atchieve’, ‘Emmets’, ‘extream’, ‘Fanfaronade’, ‘smoak’), and his familiarity with the atmosphere and state of knowledge of the England of Swift’s time. An unwary reader could easily assume that the ‘real’ Gulliver did indeed visit the fantastical realms of Khiliastika, Obversia and Ypsilosia, especially as these are interponed on this itinerary with Swift’s Houyhnhnms and non-fiction’s St. Helena. The ‘authenticity’ of Walker’s style and vocabulary inescapably entails offensiveness to certain refined members of modern audiences, for whose delicate benefit he includes a prior ‘WARNING’ that is all part of his vigorous joke. But inside all his rumbustious humour, as inside Swift’s, is a swingeing critique of some of our prevailing reductive philosophies, a wonderfully witty appraisal of some of the ways we delude ourselves.

Khiliastika is a land of ostentatious self-abasement, whose inhabitants vie with each other in demonstrations of humility, even publicly classing themselves below animals. Inevitably, this so-public humility is really private pride, a neat inversion of the former worldview, when pride in being part of the hierarchical ‘Great Chain of Being’ had really been a kind of modesty, which acted as restraint. The present Khiliastikan elite is idly rich, existing parasitically on the fruits of former industry and responsibility, with rather too much time to adorn themselves and consider their own reflections in strategically placed mirrors. Domestic servants and other workers on Khiliastika (as elsewhere!) are largely disregarded as irrelevant, even as their masters and mistresses vie with each other in expressing egalitarian and internationalist sentiments, and loudly apologising for their very existence. Parallels with modern middle-class checking of privilege and virtue-signalling (a phrase Swift could almost have coined) hardly need to be adumbrated.

Wealthy Khiliastikans are also subscribers to an apocalyptic philosophy, which holds that the old industries had critically damaged the world through over-heating of the air, exacerbated by the ‘Flatus and Ructations’ of ‘Cattell’, horses, and the islanders themselves. People are ergo expected to abstain from meat-eating and leather- or wool-wearing, and await the coming of a braided young ‘Prophetess’ bearing a not wholly adventitious resemblance to Greta Thunberg.

Prestigious ‘Virtuosi’ and ‘Universal Artists’ are employed to find ways of storing the animals’ involuntary emissions, and even to plug an active volcano. Others are building vehicles powered by magnets, springs or wind, others metal domes to afford protection for when the sky falls in, yet others an Ark for the end of days. Those who diverge from any detail of the orthodoxy are pilloried, ridiculed and excluded even from employment. Even for readers less sceptical of anthropogenic climate-change than this author, the satirical strokes fall fast, and hard.

Onwards to Obversia, a black kingdom whose inhabitants treat the mariners with extraordinary condescension – because amazed ‘at the Miracle of Humans of a white Complexion shewing that they too could make Shift to build and navigate a Merchantman.’ Rich Obversians compete to offer accommodation to the pale barbarians, because they see this as an opportunity to demonstrate their non-racist charitableness. They are haunted by Obversia’s one-time prominence in the slave trade, which had long ago entailed the kidnapping of countless ‘white-Complexioned’ people to boost the economies of Africa.

Obversia’s impressive-looking Grand Academy is staffed by grave intellectuals, determined to upturn all assumptions (such as that men differ from women), and ultimately erase Nature. According to the Academy’s overarching theory, everyone is equal and interchangeable, and everything inherited from the past, including maths and science, is illegitimate. Politicians, including the rather ponderously-named ‘Sir Kirkley Streamer’, when not in power themselves, as a matter of both principle and policy always advocate the opposite of whatever the government is doing, irrespective of its merits. Poor and starving people are kept on a barren offshore island, so they can be inspected and publicly petted by wealthy mainlanders, who have themselves painted in such edifying poses. A whole ‘Œconomy’ has grown up around this practice, and when Gulliver asks why the poor are not allowed off this island, to settle in available fertile land on the mainland, he is laughed at for his simplicity – because they are more valuable to the exchequer (and public morality) where they are.

They leave this island gladly, and are then captured by the airborne ships of the powerful Ypsilosian Navy. All the Ypsilosians’ military might is dedicated ironically to the service of a state which advocates a universal language and ultimately universal peace. The savants and wealthy residents of the capital, Schro Dinga on the River Phrenos, float serenely above the ground, uplifted by the rarefaction of their reasoning, while earth-bound drudges toil below. Beautiful women in elegant salons condemn their Objectifycation and oppression by men, and bewail the squalid necessity of child-bearing. Prominent businessmen call for higher taxes, and condemn the common people for worrying about the price of food and value of their hovels. Senior military men espouse saccharine pacifism, and the country’s leading intellectual urges the severance of all connections to culture and nation – and biology and geography. At the Temple of Transcendence, a gorgeously attired celebrant preaches disbelief in deities, but foresees lifespans of a thousand years and in the meantime, the survival of intelligence by means of electricity.

Gulliver and his companion dislike all this vastly; ‘we had begun to find the Attempt to be and not be the same Thing at the same Time inimical to the Composure of our Brain and the Quietude of our Minds.’ They escape, and make sail to St Helena, a British colony and assumed safe haven – only to find that ideas like those prevailing in his recently-visited dystopias have made their way here too.

Under the rule of a party calling itself the Know-Alls, the common islanders have been discouraged from making up their own minds about anything until ‘This might extend to their not even being able to distinguish confidently between their Posteriors and their Elbows.’ Now called contemptuously Know-Nothings, ordinary people have been fenced out of old land-holdings by Projectors, enclosed out of ‘Common Sense’. Philosophers strive to reduce life on even this tiny outpost to rigid formulae, even trying to mathematize the arts, banning dangerous displays of spontaneity and enjoyment. This abhorrent state of affairs calls for outraged action, and Gulliver is just the kind of Englishman to act. Condign punishments ensue, and ancient arrangements are resumed, to general contentment.

Gulliver sails on eventually, the ever-restless Englishman, an Anglo-Saxon Everyman – but he leaves behind a better island, and real-life readers wishing real-life restorations could be quite so easy, or swift.

A VOYAGE to OBVERSIA

LEMUEL GULLIVER continues to indite his extraordinary adventures to GUY WALKER
WARNING : THIS TEXT FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY CONTAINS DISCRIMINATORY LANGUAGE

Before Dawn we heaved Anchor and steered to the West in our Passage to the West-Indies but, for four Days, we were driven by a violent Storm eastwards towards the Coast of Africa. We lost a Man who fell from the Fore-mast into the Sea. When the Storm abated and the Wind slack’ned I took an Observation and computed that we werein the Latitude of 14 Degrees and 4 Minutes North and 20 Degrees Longitude West. The Vessel was staunch but there was some Damage to our Rudder which we repaired in a make-shift Manner with heavy Cordage. McRory, who knew the Region, was of the Opinion that we should seek the Island Nation of Obversia which he estimated to be in our Environs. He recommended a Visit to the Island for the Purpose of repairing our Rudder and also because he considered Obversia, and especially its reputed Grand Academy, which he had visited while with the Khiliast Navy, a Curiosity which might be a Diversion and an Occasion of Learning to me. He related that, being so close to Africa, the Island was populated by Blackamoors[1] of great Beauty and the most sable Complexion. He also discovered[2] to me that the Island had once, for a Century, been a Portugueze Out-post for which Reason the Portugueze Tongue was spoken there. For this Reason, although inhabited by Blackamoors, European Manners, Cloathes and Customs and a European Language were in Use amongst them. In Truth the Island rejoyced in all the Benefits of Mind and Spirit under which the Flowers of Christendom flourish which was an Anomaly to the Western Coast of the Continent of Africa[3]. I remarked to McCrory that I had a great Facility in learning Languages and I was sure that my Portugueze would be sufficient for me to be understood in Obversia.

The following Day the Island was descryed and, with a fair Wind, we steered with Ease towards the Harbour of the capital City which was known by the Citizens simply as Obversia City. As we drew near to the Port  we saw common Blackamoors on fishing Canoos practising their Trade with Nets. On marking[4] us they became greatly enlivened and began to steer back to the Port alongside us. As we came closer we saw Blackamoors and their Ladies on Pleasure-boats. I supposed from their Habit that they were Persons of Quality. They were dressed in fine European Cloathes and the Ladies carryed Parasols and other Effects of Luxury. They too became excited upon seeing us and directed their serving men to turn their Boats towards the Harbour-side. We made a Signal for a Pilot as there were some Shoals and Rocks near the Harbour Mouth and a Pilot-craft approached us. We apprehended that, counter to normal Use, the Obversian Pennant at the Stern of the Craft was flown at the nether Part of the Flag-pole instead of the superior Extream. The Officers, once aboard, to our Consternation, prostrated them selves before us tho’ we were much at a Loss to understand the Cause of this.

On disembarking on the Quay-side we were honoured by being met by a Party which included the Blackamoor King and Queen of Obversia in their royal Persons. They were accompanied by the Cavalry of the Body-guard stretched along the Quay-side and a liveryed military Band played beautiful Airs in Welcome of us. The King wore on his Head a light Helmet of Gold, adorned with Jewels, and he had a Sword encrusted on the Hilt and Scabbard with Diamonds. We could not forebear to Notice that he wore it suspended in such a Manner that the Hilt was towards the Ground with the Scabbard uppermost. His Queen and her Courtiers were magnificently clad with fine Gowns and Petticoats embroidered with Figures of Gold and Silver.

We were supplied with a Legate and were thrown into great Disquietude as all of the Obversian Nobility, including the King and Queen, gave strong Marks[5] of Rivalry with each other in the Degree of Pleasure they could express at our Coming and in the fawning Nature of their Greetings to us. I asked the Legate the Cause of this. He bowed deeply and removing his plumed Tricorn, he answered that the Obversian People of Quality wished to demonstrate how much they appreciated and were in Astonishment at the Miracle of Humans of a white Complexion shewing that they too could make Shift to build and navigate a Merchant-man. This in Spight of all the Disadvantages preventing such an Atchievement which Triumph they, therefore, wished to celebrate. I was curious as to how they had contrived to forget the Aptitudes of the Portugueze In-comers who had departed the Island only Decades before but kept my Counsel on this Affair. In Addition to this Enthusiasm the Citizens of the City showed Rivalry in their Eagerness to provide Billets for our Sailers in their Homes. I marked some of their Number coming to Blows at the Periphery of the Croud upon this Article. It was clear that they saw the Advent of white People they considered to be at a disadvantage by their Whiteness as an Opportunity for the Display of their Virtue, Solicitude and the Degree to which they could graciously descend[6] to us. We became sensible[7] that we were much prized by them as an Opportunity to Ostentation.

We were presented to the King and Queen and we were in great Surprize when they made the lowest of Reverences[8] to us. Before yet speaking any Words of Welcome the King instantly made a Discourse to us in a Manner, the abject Nature of which is not expected of a royal Personage and which, therefore, caused us a great Disturbance in our Minds. He beat his Breast, dishonoured himself and told us that it pained and grieved him sorely that the Continent from which he and his People hailed was guilty of manifold Crimes. He told us unbidden that Tribes from Africa of which we had not heard and which he named the Yoruba, the Igbo and the Fulani[9] had been known to traffic in slaves they had taken from other Tribes in Warfare. We wondred why he was treating of the Article of[10] Slavery but he continued that many Hundreds of Thousands of white Folk had been abducted for the Purpose of Slavery from the Shoars of Nations such as Ireland, the Nether-lands, Britain, Iceland, Greece and Italy for many Centuries by Pyrates and Corsairs from the Barbary Coast[11] of Northern Africa. Although none of his Kin or his Forbears had taken part in such Commerce and none of our Party’s Kin or Forbears had been affected by it he bore a terrible Burden of Guilt for his Continent. This was in Spight of our bearing no personal Grievance against him. Our Admiration[12] increased as we knew that Slavery had always been conducted without Scruple in every Empire on Earth including our own. His Regret at a Lack of Adherence by his Kin to an Ideal which, it seemed to us, had seldom been witnessed on Earth seemed a great Curiosity to us. In spite of it being past our Conception what had guided him to make such Disclosure to us we made a Semblance of accepting his Entreaties and those of his Queen graciously and smiling.

On completing these Acts of Prostration he promised obligingly that our Ship should be repaired in Dry-dock, our Provisions replenished and that there should be a Banquet in our Honour that Evening. He then asked me if there was any further Assistance or Entertainment he could provide for us. As McRory had mentioned the Fame of the Grand Academy of Obversia I took the Boldness to ask his Majesty if it might please him for us to be shown this august and renowned Institution. He could scarcely forebear to shew his Delight that we took such an Interest in Obversian Learning. He immediately consented and directed the Legate to accompany us on a Visit as soon as we had been refreshed with Victuals and Beverages provided by his Royal Kitchen. He told us that the Grand Academy of Obversia was one of the most illustrious places of Learning in Christendom and that it was founded on the finest European Traditions of Inquiry and Study established by Scholars of Distinction such as Aristotle, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Albertus Magnus, Peter Abelard, Erasmus, Mercator, Bacon, Kepler, Newton and Des Cartes.

The Grand Academy of Obversia

After Noon we were raized on garlanded Litters and taken in Procession to the Gates of the Grand Academy. Here, to our Relief, the Crouds departed leaving us in Peace. Above the entrance Portal bearing the royal Crest was inscribed the motto QUIDQUID EST, FALSUS EST which was ascribed to a great Obversian poet named Epop. Through the Portal we could discern that the Academy was arranged in a Multitude of Colledges with fine Chapels, and Schools in the same Manner as Oxford or Cambridge. We spied conversing Scholars, young and old, in black Gowns taking their Leisure in the Paths in the Courts of the Colledges.

At the Entrance we were greeted by the Warden of the Grand Academy who was to be our Guide. This grand Personage wore gilded Robes of great Volume. McCrory spied that  his Eye-glasses were upside down on his Nose. He entreated us, before he led us on our Visit, to hear him as he set out for us the noble Principles on which his Academy was founded. We consented to his Entreaty upon which he proudly descanted for us on the Purpose of the Academy. This was, firstly, following Aristotle and Aquinas, to study profoundly and at length the Forms in which Nature was clothed and disposed according to the good Offices of the Creator. Having made such Discoveries which he gave the Appellation of The Coin of Nature it was the Travail and dedicated Industry of his devoted Scholars to find the Contrary to such Dispositions – this he named the Obverse of Nature.

He lamented to us the Discovery of an unfortunate Principle that he and his Scholars had encountered in their Enquiries. They had discovered that it was impossible to reverse Nature and find the Truth in its Contraries without depending on the prior existence of that Nature. Or, to express it differently, It was not possible for them to operate on No-thing at all in the Beginning and so they were obliged to operate on the Something that was, by Casualty[13], already provided for them. He boasted that, in the Face of such Adversity it was their Determination not to be defeated, but to struggle with Valor, by these Means, for the Publick Good.

In the Future their Hope was to be able to erase Nature and re-make it solely as the Product of their good Offices and their Science in place of those of the Almighty. He described this as the Principle of the Clean Slate or Tabula Rasa. This Principle, he hoped, might, in Time, permit them to take full Ownership of all Knowledge and all Being. He continued that, in this Undertaking, it was their Pleasure to replace the Will of the Almighty with their Will, an Aim, once achieved, which they would consider the greatest Triumph. He sighed and repined that, for the Moment, they had found them selves unable to dispense with the Inconvenience of original Nature.

The Grand Library

On Purpose to survey the first Stage in this Procedure he led us to the grand Library of the Academy where a Multitude of Scholars and Doctors studyed the Forms in which Nature, the Earth and human Beings were cloathed and embodied according to the Disciplines established by learned Men of the Past.

The Warden disclosed to us that, once the Substance of the Objects under Scrutiny had been established they took their Findings to the Chamber of Opticks out of a Design of finding what was their Opposite which is where he led us next.

The Chamber of Opticks

This was set in a large kind of a Room, containing a gently smoaking Fire ventilated with Bellows, and filled with Handicrafts[14] employed with polishing Lenses and silvered Glasses purchased at great Expense in the Low Countries. We also saw many Examples of the Apparatus known as the Camera Obscura.

We were fortunate enough to witness a young Scholar bring the detailed Diagrams of the internal Anatomy and outward Form of the Body of a human Female he had garnered in the Grand Library to the Chamber. He gave them to a Servant operating the Lenses, Mirrors and the Camera Obscura. The Servant set the Parchment Diagrams in Frames. He was soon able to direct his Apparatus in such a Manner as to project Images which reversed the Drawings so that the Left was on the Right and the Feet were where the Head is by Custom. The Scholar immediately set to sketching the up-ended and reversed Images. He divulged to us his Enthusiasm at finally arriving at the end of his Journey to see the Truth. He felt Pity for the un-schooled and ignorant who were deceived by the lying Appearance of Nature as she was and the shallow Belief that this was all there was. He continued in his Enterprise by using Optickal Contrivances which erased the Visage from the female Body so that she was no more than a Body with no Person inhabiting it. Another piece of Machinery erased her entirely from the projected Image of the Parchment.  To our Horror a final optickal Engine rendered the Female Body Male by removing the Dugs and appending a Beard and a male Organ of Encrease to her. We were in great Amazement at the Appetite for Perversity that this Scholar displayed. He told us of a Volume he was intending to publish in a short time, which would guarantee his Renown in the great Universities of Europe, upon the Obversian Method and which he hoped to name Definire se Contra Natura.

As we departed from the Chamber of Opticks we noticed a low Building into which a Stream of earnest young Scholars with scant Beards in the Coats of common Working-men were entering while another Stream of bemired Scholars issued from the other End. Two Chimneys, from which Smoak emerged stood above the Roof of the Building. There was also a Tower made of Wood with a great mounted Wheel, Cables, Pullies and Hoists. Waggons and Horses waited beneath the Tower. We enquired of the Warden what the Purpose of this Building was. He told us it was the Structure set above the Vertue Mines.

The Vertue Mines

We enquired of him in what these Mines consisted and he was pleased to tell us that, the raw Material of Conceptions for Re-appraisal had constantly to be dug out of the Ground in order to generate the Coins of Nature by Means of the Investigations that took place in the Grand Library. These could then be obverted in the Chamber of Opticks. For the Purpose of unearthing the Material in sufficient Quantity the young Scholars made excavations in the Mines. They had already made Discovery of things in Nature that were subjected to Study in the Library and obverted in the Chamber of Opticks such as “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female  created he them.”[15]which we had seen corrected in the Chamber of Opticks. He related that the Scholars had also mined un-formed Potential in Botany, Agri-culture, Architecture, and Military Engineering which were being driven to the Grand Library in Waggons as we spoke. The Miners had recently discovered a new Vein of Material which they had named History. They had brought to the Surface Practices and Institutions formerly regarded as of Benefit to Man-kind such as the Christian Church and the Effects of good Government. Here I durst ask the Warden in Point of the Appellation of the Vertue Mines. He assured me that this would become manifest as we proceeded on our Visit. Our next Visit did indeed satisfy my need of Understanding in this Respect.

The Schools of the Oeconomy of Vertue and Obversian Ethics and the Royal Mint

On the other Side of the Vertue Mines was a grand Edifice which seem’d a series of Buildings joyned together which the Warden informed us was the School of the Oeconomy[16] of Vertue combined with the Royal Mint and The School of Obversian Ethics. He was pleased to inform us these Buildings had been founded after the Revelations granted to certain Obversian Sages. It had been revealed to one that if the Truth lay on the Obverse of the Coin then what laid on the other Face must needs be a Lie. As telling Truth and Lies are moral Actions then this betokened that an entirely new System of Vice and Vertue might be established on the Foundation of such Coins.

Another esteemed Sage who began his Career as a Theologian but who later worked in the Treasury of Obversia had further been granted a Series of what he termed Epiphanys. In the first he grasped that if there were sufficient Coins of Vertue and Vice a whole new Currency of Ethics could be founded upon them. This caused him to found the School of Obversian Ethics.

The second Sage was sensible that moral Powers are the Commodity of greatest Value to Humans, which are, uniquely, the moral Creatures on the Earth. He had observed that they alone care about Reputation, Swine for example seldom being troubled by such Things, and that the Thirst for Righteousness and Justification is greatest in them. This being so it was revealed of a sudden to him, in his second Epiphany, that if a Nation were in Possession of enough of this Currency of Truth and Lies and, hence, of the Vertue attached to the Obverse Side of them it might be possible to convert this new Virtue into an Authority which affords moral Dominion. Supremacy in the moral Domain would be the true Supremacy. This Undertaking he imagined in the Guise of the Atchievement of the Transmuation of base Metal to Gold sought for so long by the Alchemists.

He made the Calculation that, to compleat the Venture, Obversia must needs claim Authority for their Ethics by boldly seizing the Hill of Legitimacy in the moral Domain from the other Nations that previously held it. This Annexation, what is more, had best be executed with a good Supply of the Fewel of a burning Indignation at the Manner whereof Human Kind has been fraudulently deceived into believing that the Coin of Nature is the Truth. Accompanied, thus, with the Indignation of a Jeremiah[17], it would be the more credible.

For this Reason the Nation that seized the high Hill of Legitimacy in such Matters and  the Authority to say what was right and wrong might rule all Nations. It would also permit them to declare their own unceasing and impregnable Goodness. In this Manner they could truly become Self-righteous and Justified by their own Proclamations. They hoped the Authority seized in this way might entail their Right to pronounce on the Vice of others and that they might be endowed with the Power to justify and condemn their Fellows. It was on these intellectual Foundations that he set the new School of the Oeconomy of Vertue. 

We could not forebear observing privately among our-selves that his Calculations were in a curious Contrast to the Teaching of the Customs of our Church which insists on our fallen Nature rather than our Self-proclaimed Goodness. We recalled to Mind that in our Dispensation it is only for Almighty God and his Son Jesus Christ to confer Righteousness on helpless Sinners. We were put in Mind of the Chief-priests and Pharisees who condemned our sovereign Lord.

The Warden continued that the Sage made the further Observation that if the new Currency might be sold abroad the Influence of Obversia would become great in the World. By Force of Confidence Obversia could set the golden Standard of what was good and evil in the World and arrive through several Gradations to the Superior Nation taking the Role of Instructor in Wisdom and Knowledge to all other Nations and Races who would be obliged to pay a Subaltern Court[18] to it. For this Reason the Royal Mint was established to stamp out new Currency. He and the King were hopeful that, in Time, the People of all Nations must clamour to be taught of this newly minted Currency of Vertue in their Grand Academy. As a Consequence, it was their earnest Hope that all former false Currencies would be debased. This would give Obversia Dominion over much of the Earth.

The School of Active Repudiation

As we drew near to this Institution we observed its Semblance to a Seminary. I descryed the Inscription Malum sit Bonum Meum carvedover the Lintel of the Entrance. The Warden happily imparted to us that, to improve the Likelihood of the Obversian Currency becoming dominant in the World, Doctors and Virtuosi in the School of Repudiation had bred up innumerable Examples of a type of zealous Jesuitical Scholar skilled in the beneficial Undermining and Repudiation of the Commonplaces foolishly accepted in the World as normal Currency. These Scholars were despatched into other Lands to prepare them for the Advent of Coin from the Obversian Mint as fore-running Propagators of correct Ideas in the like Manner in which the Church of Rome broadcasts its Faith from the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide. In their Mission, the Head of the School related to us, they counted them selves as performing a Role like that of John the Baptist who made streight the Way of the Lord[19] and prepared the People for his Truth. Each Scholar worked assiduously in a Cell in the School. As we passed the Cells, for our Benefit, the Warden proudly elicited the Exhibition of the Talents of several of the Scholars trained in these Aptitudes.

The first we encountered boasted to us that he was preparing the Repudiation of the Music of the West which he derived from a Coin stamped in the Royal Mint which had been entrusted to him. On the Reverse of the Coin was the Music of Europe. In much of Europe People mistakenly had some Imagination that Composers such as Cima, Scarlatti, Corelli, Lully, Purcell, Byrd and those of our Period such as Johann Bach and Antonio Vivaldi brought Delight to those who heard their Music and enabled the Worship of the Almighty. In egregious Folly such Compositions were considered the Height of the Excellence of Atchievement. It was his Mission to lead Europeans away from such Mis-conceptions and to shew them the true Malevolence in the Music, rejoycing in revealing Truth in Opposition for them on the Obverse of his Coin. It was his Contention that, because of the Susceptibility of the fairer Sex to the sweet Enchantments pretended as the Aim of Music the Men who, exclusively, were its Practitioners, were enabled in their disguising the real Aim of it behind a deceiving Veil and a Plot. For, in Truth, Music was a Fraudulence whose real Purpose was to beguile Women in to continued domestick Drudgery and Subservience.

A second Scholar in his Cell told us of the Eagerness of his Anticipation for the Commencement of his Mission in Europe. He had been vouchsafed a Coin on which the Truth about Time and Time-keeping had been inscribed. He would carry the good News that the Purpose of Time and the Keeping of Time with Time-pieces and Sun-dials was the Subjection of Citizens and other Races to the Tyranny of Europe. He would reveal to his Audience that their Predilection for Orderliness in Publick Affairs and in Commerce had acted as a Trojan Horse whereby they had been en-slaved by Monarchs and others charged with keeping good Order. For, in their Folly, they had accepted the Measuring of the Movements of the Stars, the Planets, the Earth, the Seasons and the Passage of the Light as chosen by iniquitous Europeans driven by the most pernicious Motives. The Cosmolabes, Pantocosms, Planispheres, Scaphes, Quadrants, Sextants, Octants, Alidades Armillery Spheres, Orrerys, Globes, Dioptras, Astrolabes, Pocket-glasses, Perspectives, Clepsydras, Torquetums, Triquetums, Telescopes, Meridian Circles and other Satanic Instruments used by Astronomers for these Purposes were all part of an occult Conspiracy whose Design was to keep People in Thrall. He had a Design to promise them that when such a Tyranny had been overthrown they would know true Contentment. There must be a Bonfire of these Instruments which had brought Nothing but Woe to human Kind. When all of this had been encompassed it would be assuredly to the Satisfaction of the Common Weals[20].

A third Scholar confided in our Party that his Destination was to be the new World of the Americas. He was pleased to relate that Projectors[21] working in the Grand Library had carried out a Study of  the Science of Mathematicks which had been taken to the Chamber of Opticks in the certain Knowledge that it must have been conceived in Iniquity. In the Chamber its Principles had mercifully been reversed and it was the new Incarnation that he had been entrusted with taking to the new World. The wicked Conceit[22] that Mathematicks is a Language which trades in publick Certainties that cannot be disputed or that there are Answers in the Discipline which are Right and others which are Wrong has been abandoned. Indeed, to insist on such Conceptions to young Children he regarded as an Oppression and a Tyranny on Citizens and their Children. The perpetuating of the Conception that it treats of Matters which can be commonly agreed in Publick as Objects that cannot be contradicted has been up-ended to the Benefit of all Nations. Discovered in the Grand Library, the Babylonians, Egyptians and Greeks such as Euclid and Archimedes have been designated as Reprobates and their Works have been proscribed for the Injury that they undoubtedly cause to human-Kind. The same has been decreed for the Mahometans who invented Al-gebra and those who carry on this villainous Trade close to our own Times such as Newton and Leibnitz have been revealed for the Deceivers and Corrupters of Youth that they are. It is suffered to be believed, tho’, that Newton brought some Advantage to us in his Study of Opticks. Otherwise, without these pernicious Influences it is sure that Societies must be able to thrive more successfully.

As we proceeded and were presented to more Scholars we marvelled at the Extent and Variety of their comprehensive Undertakings and the Profundity of the Enmity they felt for the Common-wealth in which they had been raised and the Extent to which they were devoted to repudiating it. A great Impression was made upon us by how studiously and comprehensively they employed the Methods of Study they had been tutored in according to the Instruction set down by the great Doctors whose works they encountered in the Grand Library. Their Zeal was an Occasion of great Admiration to us. We questioned in secret amongst our selves why it may be that these Scholars felt such active Hatred of Matters which we had considered as Advancements in our Societies.

We departed from the School of Repudiation and took some Refreshment with the Legate and the Warden in the Dwelling of the Latter. He was pleased to invite our Party to spend the Night in his Residence and, in the Morning we were shewn the School of Politickal Science.

The School of Politickal Science

The Doctors here had discovered in the Grand Library that the Human Polities that thrive in Nature and in History are conceived in two Matters. Firstly they have rescued Human-kind from the Predicament of constant War by establishing the Authority of Kings who can ensure the Rule of Law. Secondly, they have established, in England for example, Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and a Constitution which act as a Bulwark against the Tyranny of Kings tempted to exceed their Power and as a Pledge of the Liberty of the Common Citizen.

In Obversian Reverse of these Achievements their Endeavour was to under-mine Authority and blame it for all the Ills that befall us. Their Legend was that all Aspects of Lacrimae Rerum[23] are always the Fault of the Government on which we depend and which protects us from our natural Condition of War. They also sought to malign those Regimes which had established a Tradition of Liberty and were an Example and a Beacon to other Nations for their being wicked and depraved in their Essence and Founding just as Adam and Eve were the Origin of our Woe in the Garden of Paradise.

The Master of the School of Politickal Science was especially delighted to enlarge upon one Principle of Government particular to Obversia of which he was manifestly proud on behalf of his Nation. This was the Obversian Principle of politickal Opposition whose Champion was a notable Member of Parliament by the Name of Sir Kirkley Streamer. Under a Necessity of conforming with Obversion the Party not in Government made it their chief Priority to avoid forming Policy on the Grounds of any independent Philosophy to which they adhered. Instead, they set to, like the Scholars in the Grand Library, studying the Policy of the Government. The Product of their Studies was then submitted to a Cabal of those skilled in the Art of Mathematicks. They would discover the mathematickal opposite to the Policy of the Government and this would immediately become the Policy of the Party not in Power. The Government would then be castigated with righteous Vehemence for not doing the diametrickal Opposite of what it was doing.

I further made bold to own [24] to the Warden that upon one Article I was confounded. I was not mercurial enough to discover nor were my Intellects [25] strong enough to conceive how it was that the King of Obversia, who commanded the Empire of Vertue in the ways made plain to us, could fall to grovel before us as he had on the Quay-side for the Wickedness of his Forbears. To us this appeared as a Confession of his Guilt. The Warden was pleased to make clear to us that this Display had been a Shew of the King’s great Vertue of Humility. This Vertue depended on the greatest Obversion of all, one that was known as The Royal Obversion. The King had made it his Endeavour to carry out a personal Study of Obversion and the Coining of Vertues it led to. In this Study he had happened on the Conception of Progress in Morals. He seized on the Opportunity this offered for defining himself compleatly in Opposition – or Obversion – to the Past. If the Coin of the Past was decreed entirely vicious then the other Side of the Coin was that the Obversian Present under his Reign was entirely good. This allowed him to grovel and make Penance for past Actions that he manifestly had no Part in while making a fine Exhibition of the Quality of his Humility in the Present. This was seen as Evidence of the great Genius of the King and he was much applauded for this Master-stroak. This Strife in the Comparison between the Present and the Past put me in Mind of a similar Struggle carried on in my own Country between the Ancients and the Moderns[26] where the Moderns falsely insisted that Sweetness and Light were the sole Preserve of present Authors schooled in modern Sciences.

I further enquired of the Warden whether the Royal Obversion might not be founded on an inherent Loathing of Man-kind and its History. The Warden was gratified by this Insight which he took as witness to my growing Understanding of what he named the Obversian Enlightenment. He agreed that such Loathing supplied the perfect Pretext for the Signalling and bragging him self of Humility of which the King and his Subjects were so desirous. It was a Contrivance – for truly the King felt no sincere Loathing for himself – which the whole Body Politick had greeted with Satisfaction at its Adroitness. He continued that in the final Building on our Tour we would see this Principle brought to Fruition in the most gratifying Manner.

The School of Performing Arts

The Legate who continued to accompany our Party, confided in us that one of the King’s Ministers in the Treasury had arrived at the Conclusion from Observation that the Obversian Monopoly on Vertue could be achieved by the minting of less costly and debased Counterfeit Coinage which used smaller Quantities of Gold and Silver. The King claimed his Authority in the World on the Perception of his Humility and other Vertues. However, this Perception had been secured at no personal Cost to him in Point of the unknown Victims of those Africans who had trafficked in Slaves a Century before. The King had no real Connexion to the Victims. The Advisor understood that the critical Necessity was the Force of Confidence in the Perception rather than the genuine Nature of the Currency of Vertue and for this Reason invented the Idea of a Bubble or Vertual Currency which would be of great Use in saving the Expense on the King’s Exchequer of real Vertue. Once the Principle of the Primacy of Perception was understood it was equally understood that it might be extended to a Range of other Vertues. McRory was bold to say to me that this was a Tradition that differed from the Scottish one that considered that a Man’s true Vertue and Vice lay in his Heart visible only to his Creator who can see all Things.

In the School of Performing Arts the Students were, therefore, being schooled in the Art of the Performance of Vertue with no Foundation in Reality. For this Reason we were shewn Students who enacted the Semblance of Humility by making Grimaces and by bowing and scraping before us in respectful Imitation of the King’s much admired Practice. We also witnessed Students who beat their Breasts, tore their Garments and lamented loudly the Pain they suffered upon witnessing the Woes of the Poor which were represented by Players[27] in Rags hired for the Purpose. They made great Advertisement of their Pity and Compassion and wiped away Tears with Kerchiefs made of fine Silk. Largely, it seemed to us that they were the Children of the Obversian Gentry. Others made a Fanfaronade[28] of their Zeal under the Colour of grieving for the Injustices of those oppressed by Tyrants in foreign Lands thousands of Miles away of whom they had read in the Volumes produced by Travellers and Writers of fantastickal Tales. There was a special Class in the Art of conveying Sincerity.

As another Day had almost come to an End the Warden invited us once more to return to his Lodgings for Sustenance and to take rest that Night. He told us that we would witness the crowning Example of Obversian Ingenuity of which he, the Legate and the King and Queen were justly proud the next Morning.

The Island of the Poor

In the Morning we were taken by Carriages to the opposing Side of the Island of Obversia. We arrived at a small Port and were embarked in Wherries[29] and were steered to an Island at little above a League from the Shoar. On departing we beheld Companies of Soldiers acting as Centrys posted in the Port and along the Coast to either Side for a considerable Distance and it was a Matter of Conjecture to us what their Purpose might be. In our Wherry we were accompanied by more Soldiers and by two Paynters of Portraits with their Assistants who carryed their Material for Painting and Easels. In other Craft there were also some Families of the Obversian Nobility accompanied by Valets and Ladies-in-waiting. As we neared the Coast of the Island we descryed more military Centrys along the Shoar facing their Fellows on the opposing Coast. We drew near to the Quay-side and the Wherrys’ Companies disembarked save the Sailers charged with steering them. At first we did not see any poor People. We marked that the small Landing-stage was fortified against the Interior of the Island and that, to visit the Island, we must needs pass through a large Gate set in a Bastion of stone mounted with Crenellations and watching Fusiliers with their Pieces charged[30].

Our Party mounted Carriages with the Legate, the Paynters and the noble Families and their Entourages and we were driven to the Interior accompanied by a detachment of Cavalry. We were able to distinguish that the Country was miserably wast. We drew near to a small Hamlet consisting of five or six Hovels in Ruins with smoaking Chimneys wherein some Families kept[31]. We could see a Knot of uncouth Children playing in the Dirt near a Dung-heap. We witnessed a Valet speak to some of the filthily bemired Children and their Mother. He offered them a Joynt of Mutton which the Mother secreted in her Hovel before she returned. One of the Painters next required the poor Family of Mother and Children to strike poses denoting their Indigence. The poorly clad Creatures assumed attitudes of Supplication. At this the Father of one of the noble Families stepped forward leading with him his Wife and his Children carrying Paniers of Bread and Fruit brought over with them from Obversia. He arranged his Family and him self in Attitudes of giving Succour to the poor Family, proffering Food to them. Tho’ one of the poor Children looked wild and cried at the Sight of the Bread it was not permitted that they might taste the Provender for that it might spoil the Composition. The Paynter’s Assistants set up an Easel and the Paynter fell to making Drawings for his Portrait of the wealthy Family giving their Alms. As the Painter was working we espied other Inhabitants at the Edge of the Hamlet, among them some of the Fathers dressed in Rags and half dead with Weariness. They carryed the Implements of Farming such as Hoes and Mattocks.

The Numbers of poor Islanders encreased by Gradation until there was a small Croud. I made bold to ask the Legate the Number of the Islanders. He told me it rose to an Estimate of five Thousand Souls. I enquired whence they derived and he was pleased to make plain to me that some were the Families of Debtors from Obversia while others were made up of Samples of poor People purchased by  Obversian Merchant-men and the Obversian Navy in foreign Lands on Promise of better Lives. As I was inquisitive on every Particular I further enquired of the Cause of their current Penury and Misery  and he was at Pains to explain that there was little natural Shelter and that the Soil on the Island was extremely thin on the Rock beneath and of a poor Quality so that it was barely possible to scrape a Living from it. For this Reason the Island people lived in an Abjection of Poverty. I further enquired if it was not true that, at a Distance of only one League, was the Bounty of Obversia with a Populace of thirty Thousands and excellent and plentiful Soil for Cultivation and the Grazing of Cattell[32] of all Kinds. He told me that this was indeed true. Obversia supplied all Manner of Luxury. When I asked him why, therefore, the Obversians did not suffer the Islanders to make their Passage to Obversia to live in greater Felicity he shewed him self greatly amused. He enlarged upon the Attempts that Islanders often made to take Boats to Obversia and how, due to the Vigilance of the Military Forces on the Coasts being sure to destroy all small Boats that were discovered, by holing them or setting them on Fire, successful Traverses of the Streight were rare. I confessed that I was in much Admiration why such unnecessary Efforts might be made when there was such Plenty on the larger Island. The Legate once more rallied[33] me upon my Question. He said it was manifest that I had still gained no Understanding through Custom of the Oeconomy of Obversia. He agreed that it was true that the Plight of the Islanders might be resolved with little Difficulty. The Obversians chose to maintain the poor Islanders in their mean Condition tho’ they could easily rescue them from it and bring them to encrease the Numbers of contented Citizens living in Plenty without overburthening the Realm. However, in Terms of the Oeconomy of Vertue, farming the Islanders for the Pretexts and Assistance they furnished for the Performance of Vertue was the most profitable Form of Industry in the Realm and the most useful Employment to which they might be put. That true Pity for such Creatures would be desirous of remedying their suffering by alleviating it was of small Concern as this was a Calculation for the Exchequer alone. Indeed he considered it a Mark of the Genius and Wisdom of the King and his Treasurers that the Maintenance of the Island at a Distance from Obversia betokened that no Drain on true Compassion was ever required as the Islanders might be easily forgotten on returning to Obversia. At this Juncture he revealed him self manifestly amused by our Innocence in these Matters. He continued that the Use of the Islanders for the Purpose of generating a fine Reputation for Charity was a most effective Manner of increasing the Authority of the Obversians and, thence, their Power. For this Reason the Island was a great Convenience to the Gentry and the Usefulness of the Islanders for this Purpose was greater than any Benefit they might bring as super-numerary Citizens. What is more the Opportunities that the Islanders supplied for the Performance of Vertue by Obversian People of Quality also sustained another profitable Industry in the Form of the Paynters who made a Record of the Charity of the Nobility for publick Display. The Islanders, maintained as they were, were a wonderful Advantage to Obversia.

Continuation of A VOYAGE TO THE HOUYHNHNMS

I had several Men died in my Ship of Calentures, so that I was forced to get Recruits out of Barbados, and the Leeward Islands, where I touched by the Direction of the Merchants who employed me, which I had soon too much cause to repent; for I found after-wards that most of them had been Bucaneers………


[1] An archaic term for a black person now considered disparaging and offensive

[2] Revealed

[3] It is known that in the East of Africa the Christian Coptic church flourished

[4] Noticing

[5] Signs

[6] Condescend

[7] Aware

[8] Bows

[9] All tribes from what is modern day Nigeria

[10] Addressing the subject of

[11] The Coast of North Africa

[12] Astonishment

[13] Accident

[14] Labourers

[15] Genesis 1:27

[16] This word at this time generally meant rules for living but was slowly evolving into the modern sense of economy

[17] Prophet from the Old Testament notable for his denunciations of poor morals or Jeremiads

[18] To accept the role of inferiors paying tribute to Obversia as the superior nation

[19] Isaiah 40:3 and Mark 1:3

[20] Realms

[21] Men of Science

[22] Idea

[23] The tears in things – Human suffering

[24] Admit

[25] Intellectual capacity

[26] A battle in which Swift was fully engaged. It is thought that he invented the phrase Sweetness and Light

[27] Actors

[28] Noisy parade

[29] Sailing skiffs

[30] Muskets loaded

[31] Lived

[32] Livestock in general

[33] Made fun of

Travels into several remote Nations of the World by Captain Lemuel Gulliver – A Voyage to Khiliastica

This is the opening extract from a hitherto unknown chapter of Gulliver’s Travels, as discovered by GUY WALKER. The full version is here

I continued at home with my Wife and Children about Five Months in a very happy condition, if I could have learned the Lesson of knowing when I was well. I left my poor Wife big with Child, and accepted an advantagious Offer made me to be Captain of the Adventure, a stout Merchant-man of 350 Tuns: For I understood Navigation well, and being grown weary of a Surgeon’s Employment at Sea, which however I could exercise upon occasion, I took a skilful young Man of that Calling, one Robert Purefoy, into my Ship. We set sail from Portsmouth upon the second day of August, 1710; On the Fourteenth we met with Captain Pocock of Bristol at Tenariff, who was going to the Bay of Campechy, to cut Logwood. On the Sixteenth, he was parted from us by a Storm; I heard since my Return, that his Ship foundered, and none escaped, but one Cabbin-Boy. He was an honest Man, and a good Sailor, but a little too positive in his own Opinions, which was the Cause of his Destruction, as it hath been of several others. For if he had followed my Advice, he might have been safe at home with his Family at this Time, as well as myself.

Four days from quitting Captain Pocock at Tenariff and 100 Leagues South of the Azores my Ship’s Company discovered that several of our fresh Water Barrels were holed and that an urgent Need for new Provision in this Respect pressed on us. Amongst my Men was a Scotsman by the Name of McCrory. He made it known to me that he had once been taken Prisoner near to Antigua and obliged to serve for two Years on Board a Man of War from the Island Nation of Khiliastica which he believed nearest our Position.

On the Sixth day a Boy on the Top-mast discovered Land and Signs of Humanity. A large and a much smaller Island were descryed together with a third Island to the East composed entirely of a Volcanoe. The Wind being northerly, and approaching from the North East we ran South-West Half a League off the long North-West shoar of the Island. McCrory agreed that this was indeed Khiliastica.

By use of a Perspective-glass I had purchased in Woolwich I could see that the main Island rose high out of the Sea and was well-cultivated. Beeves and Sheep grazed in well-ordered Pastures inclosed with good Fencing and Windmills were plentiful. Smoke rose from many Habitations. On the opposed side of the Island to ourselves I was able to distinguish the small Volcanic Island with a little Smoak issuing from it. My Curiosity was rouzed by the long wide Strand that ran on our side from the northern Tip of the larger Island diagonally to its Western Extream. Beginning at the Tip were considerable Piles of darken’d Wood in Heaps. After each Heap another, every one in a Gradation of lesser states of Dilapidation than the last which signified, as we progressed South-West along the shoar it was as though the true original Form of the Heaps disclosed itself to us. It soon became clear that they were once finely crafted Vessels set on towering Trestles which had collapsed with Age. The south-westerly Examples were intact and made of new Wood. Planked, Ship-carpentered and caulked with Competence, they were very broad of Beam and stoutly built with a deep Draught. The Super-structure consisted of a wide, long House with a low Roof and a Dove-Cote in the Prow giving the Vessels the appearance of nothing so much as Noah’s Ark. I espyed a new set of Trestles with no Ship resting on it which completed the Procession at its South Western end.

Ahead of us began to rise the small Island situated just North of the larger Island’s western Tip and divided from it by a Streight, by my Computation, of one Third of a League in Width. On the main Island the procession of Arks was succeeded by the Opening of a large Harbour. The first Half of this was devoted to a Miscellany of Basons and Dry-docks, taken together forming a Dock-yard as impressive as that of Venice or of Chatham or Portsmouth. Derricks and Cranes were in abundance as were many-masted Merchantmen and Men of War tyed up on the Dock-sides. This Array was again succeeded by the Habitations of a Town. McCrory confirmed to me that this Metropolis was the capital Town of Khiliastica. By means of my Perspective-glass I was able to discern that these Habitations gave Evidence of Prosperity in the Quality of their Decoration and Maintenance. The Roofs were in excellent Repair, the Windows were plentiful and filled with Glass and the stone Lintels richly carved. Publick Statues, Fountains and Flowers abounded. I was under Perplexity of Mind occasioned by the seeming absence of any Token of human Presence or Activity. Another Mystery I was at a loss to understand was a Con-stellation of sparkling Lights that danced constantly about the Town even in places where there were no Windows. The Lights, danced as Sun-light does on the Sea in Summer.

It was my Intention to weigh Anchor and lower the Long-Boat in order to enter the Harbour and investigate the Town when The Adventure was overcome by a sudden Flurry from the North-East and driven past the Harbour Mouth towards the lesser Island. The Wind fell as suddenly as it had arisen and, noticing Signs of Habitation and Husbandry equally on the small Island and the Convenience of a sufficient Jetty, we took in our Sails, hove to and moored beneath the Island.

Above us we could see a simple Chapel with a Bell-cot for a single Bell and the thatched Cover of a Well where we hoped we might replenish our Water-barrels. We were greeted hospitably at the Jetty by a bearded Man of middle Years and his Children. McCrory revealed at this Juncture that he could speak the Tongue of Khiliastica having been obliged to learn it on board the Man of War in which he had been pressed into Service. He was content to act as my Interpreter. The Native of the small Island gave his Name as Khelat Per Zhall. He invited myself and my Landing-party to take the Steps up to the Farm-stead wherein he dwelt. He presented his Wife to us and, with great Courtesy, consented to my Men drawing Spring-water from his Well for the replenishment of our Provisions. He also consented to dining on board The Adventure that evening. His Wife was pleased to give us Refreshment in the Form of a small Cyder. Khelat Per Zhall also shewed me his Family’s House and their Chapel from which it was evident that they were properly observant of their Religion. This Chapel contained simple Statues, the Scriptures of that Religion and an Altar-Table.

Credit: Shutterstock

That Evening, encouraged by the Presence of McCrory who was able to converse in his language, I asked Khelet how he and his Family came to live in Separation from the Inhabitants of the Metropolis. In Answer he related the Tale of his Determination to remove himself and his Family to the smaller island for Reasons of religious Dissension. He told me that, in their Idleness and much in the manner of the Israelites when they began to worship the Golden Calf in the Absence of Moses, above ten Years before, the Khiliasts had happened on vicious and novel Creeds and Practices of their own Invention which had turned them into a Sect. According to the Chain of Being and in the true Humility to which their Station obliged them their old Religion enjoyned them to show Gratitude to their Creator and to his Minister on earth, their King who, for the Care of them shewed much Diligence. Their new Creed turned upside down such Doctrine. Instead of Gratitude for the Blessings of the Condition of being human and of its Sustenance they practised perverse Scorn and Derision for them. In their Conception the more they were seen to take Pleasure in trampling on and rejecting their Humanity the more they demonstrated the Virtue of Humility. This led them to strive ostentatiously in Rivalry with each other in the Degree of Abasement they could atchieve. They derided the Gift of being sapient Creatures above mere Animals and even took Pleasure in counting themselves as lesser than Crows and Apes. Their newly created Humility was in truth the Opposite of and an inversion of true Humility and signified instead that their Hearts were filled with Pride – a Pride taken in how humble they were. Hearing of such Perversion it was easy to understand Khelet’s Disgust and the Cause of his Desire to remove himself and his family apart from this Sect of Inversion.

Next he explained that the people of the Town were all engaged that day in an annual religious Festival of great Moment to them. This explained to me the Absence of human Activity. I pressed him further as to the Nature of their religious Practices and, being of a hospitable Character, he offered to act as my Guide on a Visit to Khiliastica – for that was the Name he gave the larger Island. I asked Khelat if he feared meeting his former Country-men from whom he had dissented so violently. He told me that he had visited the Festival on several Occasions before out of Curiosity and had succeeded in not being recognised by disguising him self. He told me it was his Custom on such Occasions to wear a leathern Mask covering half of his Face and the principal Lineaments of his Countenance and to give out, if asked, that he was the Victim of burning and Laceration in a Fire which had made his Face unsightly. I accepted his kind Offer and, the next morning, the Wind having settled and the Day set fair, we left The Adventure tyed at the Jetty and embarked in the Long-boat with Khelat Per Zhall and McCrory in the Party. Landing at the Quayside in the Harbour of Khiliastica we found the Town as deserted as it had appeared the day before.

Immediately on disembarking the Mystery of the dancing Lights was resolved for me. In many Places, on Squares, on Streets and on the Quay-side were placed long Fences twelve Foot high. These Fences bore silvered Glasses attached to them like those found on a Lady’s Dressing Table but of a giant Proportion. Everywhere we went we were accompanied, consequently, by our own Reflexions which was a disturbing Sensation for me. Glancing through the Windows of the Habitations I was able to see rich Furnishings and musical Instruments such as Guittars, Spinets and Lutes. Khelat found some fine Horses which had been left with plenty of Water and Oats in a nearby Stable so that we were able to quit the Town towards the Interior of the Island. I was relieved to find that the giant Glasses ceased as we left the outer Precincts of the Town.

I asked him, by Means of McCrory, further in point of the great Appearance of Prosperity and Industry of the Isle, Town and Dock-yard. He told me that this was due to the countenance and encouragement of the King who was a renowned Patron of Learning. He had made it his Business, in his Youth, to make Mercantile Œconomy one of many studies effected in Venice, London and Antwerp. Returning to Khiliastica he had guaranteed the extensive Prosperity of his Subjects by instructing them in the Wisdom he had acquired in the Domains of Iron-smelting, Animal Husbandry, Agri-culture, Glass-blowing and Maritime Commerce. As a result of his good Offices on their Behalf his Subjects lived in considerable Comfort and Security while the King was able to live chiefly upon his Demesnes without troubling the Khiliasts with Subsidies brought upon them. He told me that such was the Opulence the King had brought to their Land through the good Ordering of their Industry that his Subjects, discounting, of course, their Domesticks, had many hours of Leisure at their Disposal and it was this that had led to the Idleness which was a Cause of their Folly.

The Road rose to a Hill which our Party mounted with Ease on our fine Coursers. Reaching the Summit of the Hill a grand Prospect was laid out before us. A wide Valley was shewn with, at its extreme End, a grand Demesne inclosing a Palace and voluminous Royal Parks and Woods of at least twenty Stangs [1] within a circular Wall of hewn Stone with iron Gates. The Demesne lay at half a League’s Distance. I concluded that this must be the Residence of the King of Khiliastica which Conclusion Khelat confirmed to me. He told me the Demesne was named the King’s Kapital.

In the Fore-ground, in the Valley’s Bottom was a Ring of Tents and luxurious Pavilions encircling a large Ground in the Semblance of a Country Show in which a Variety of Diversions was taking place. At the Center of the Show-ground a large number of what appeared as Emmets from our Hillock swarmed around a new Ark set on a Stage fashioned in Beams of Wood. Khelat informed me that the grand Festival of the Catastrophe lay before me. I could descry a Multitude of human Figures moving across the Ground and around the Tents. We began to descend. Arriving in the Valley Bottom we dismounted so as the easier to investigate the Festival and the Khiliasts on foot. My first Observations were of the Appearance of the Khiliasts and their Habit. The Ladies bore Gowns of watered Silk resplendent with Figures of Gold and Silver. Their Petticoats were of the finest Lace and they wore Pearls and Diamonds fastned in their Hair and on their Forms. The Gentlemen were dressed finely in the European Manner and wore plumed silver Helmets and Swords sheathed in golden Scabbards enriched with Diamonds. More remarkable than the Extravagance of their Attire was a singular Accoutrement that each wore. Framed around their Necks and placed over their Shoulders was a small Harness in the form of a metal Bracket which held a small Glass of the size of a Lady’s Hand-glass beneath their Visage at the top of their Chest. The Glass was so tilted that, at all times, these Persons of Quality could observe their every Expression. It was evident that they did or said few things without verifying the Attitudes that they struck in the silvered Glass about their Necks. Much of their Attention was given to this Activity. I saw many of them making Grimaces and complaisant Smiles at their Glass. It seem’d, in truth, that they had brought portable Versions of the Mirrors of giant Proportions that adorned their Town by the Harbour-side. Only the Domesticks and the Children were not furnished in this way.

In point of Domesticks these Persons were attended by an Army of Valets, Ladies-in-waiting, Cooks, Waiters, Servants, Handicrafts , Postilions, Coachmen, Grooms and Ostlers for their Horses and Carriages. The Servicing of their Needs was largely conducted outside the Circle behind the Tents. It was here that the Victuals, Dainties and Delicacies that they consumed were dressed.

The Festival-ground was broad of a Diameter of a Quarter of an English Mile and arranged into a Variety of Tryals and Contests, in which the Khiliastic Nobility and Gentry particularly encouraged their children, with Prizes awarded to the best Attempts. At one Point on the Circumference of the Show-ground was a Table of great Length at which sate a row of venerable Professors, Virtuosi, Projectors , Universal Artists and Doctors in the Manner of Jurymen and in the greatest Solemnity with all of the outward Tokens of their Learning on Display. It was they who judged the Outcome of the Tryals and Contests making Judgements and Pronouncements from whence there could be no Appeal. These grave Personages were known as The Panel.

To aid my understanding of the Spectacles before me Khelat thought it fit to describe to me somewhat the Khiliastic Religion and its Import. He told me that a great Virtuoso, the most venerable, indeed, at The Panel, sitting in his Hours of Idleness, had suffered a Series of Visions or Revelations concerning the End of Days. These he had committed to Parchment and given the name of The Apocalyptick Prognostickations. Thereafter these served as the Scriptures of the new Khiliastic Religion.

A Procession of Flagellants, By Goya

The Import of these Scriptures was that the Prosperity and Contentedness of the King’s Island was a Chimaera given Creedence only by Fools and Blockheads. Those things that bore the Semblance of great Benefit were, truly, the Occasions of great Disaster. It had been revealed to the Professor that a Cataclysm of terrible Proportions was imminent. This was to be engendered by the Heat from the Island’s Smithys, the Furnaces of the Glass-blowers and the Dock-yard, the Establishment of all of which the King had so encouraged, and from the Multitude of domestick Fires. All, taken together, would burn a Hole in the Sky. Through this Hole would enter Comets with blazing Tails and Fire-balls from the Sun which must end in a Conflagration of the Island. The Sky and the Clouds would fall to Earth with great Combustion and the Habitations of the Khiliasts, the Kapital, the Metropolis and the Dock-yard would be devoured in an infernal Blaze.

In addition to the disastrous Effect of the Smithys and Furnaces it was revealed to the Virtuoso that the Flatus and Ructations issuing from Cattell and Horses and even from the Islanders themselves, taken together with Emanations of a Natural Gas generated from Leaves turning to faetid purulent Matter after their Fall from the Trees were adding to the Erosion of the Clouds. Because it increased the Volume of Flatus from Live-stock kept for eating the Consumption of Shoulders, Legs, Loins and other Joynts of Animal Flesh was deemed a Sin. In the same Manner the Use of Wool and Leather for the making of Cloaths was despized.

Many Trees were felled each Year in the Forests of the Island for Timber to make the Ships in the Khiliast Navy and for the Merchant-men and other Barques. The Virtuoso condemned this Practice for the Reason that the Trees removed the Natural Gas from the Air that burned a Hole in the Sky.

The first Signs that the general Conflagration was to be visited on the Island would be Fires in the Forests and a Rising of the Ocean’s Waters to overwhelm the Metropolis and the Dock-yard. A young Prophetess would arise in the last Days tearing her Weeds in the Manner of Job .She would be known by her braided Hair and her Denunciation of earthly Kings as Satans. This Maid would un-Mask these Evil-doers in their true Nature – as dysmal Architects of the Extinction of the Earth rather than great Benefactors of their People. If there were Apostates from this Creed in some Quarters such Schismatics of Religion would be taken as infallible Proof of its Veracity. In this Way the Sheep would be divided from the Goats.

This Account aided me in my Understanding of how, in Addition to the moral Causes described before by Khelat, the Khiliasts rejoyced in the Occasions the vain Prognostickations afforded them for Play-acting, Dramatick Conceits and other Distractions. In the Opinion of Khelat the Khiliasts took Pleasure and found Entertainment in the constant Condition of Disquietude and Disturbance of Mind these Apprehensions and Alarms engendered and in the Opportunities for Zeal and Evangelism they afforded to them as a Remedy to their Idleness.

Khelat further related that it was chiefly the Eminences of the Panel who sustained the Apprehensions of Calamity in the Minds of the remaining Mortals of the Island. It was they who confirmed the Visions of the Virtuoso who wrote the Apocalyptick Prognostickations by means of regular Observations of the Effluvia of the Sun, Changes in the Celestial Bodies and in the Progress of certain Comets and of the Levels of the Sea and the Temperature of the Air. For these Purposes they used a large Selection of mathematickal measuring Instruments, Globes, Rules, Compasses, Quadrants and Astrolabes. These Paraphernalia conferred an Authority, and Reverence as great as that attendant on Priests on them.

As a Consequence the Khiliasts had little Time for the common Pleasures or Amusements of Life and all their Conversation was taken up in Questions about the Health of the Sun and the latest Reports of the Panel. Their chief Discovery was of a guiding Purpose in their complaisant Idleness. It also gave them Contentment to know that they were virtuous in their constant Condition of Disturbance.


[1] A rood or one fourth of an acre