Jonathan Swift: (Christian) Bishop, Social ..

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Posted by Jeff from ( on Sunday, May 19, 2002 at 1:55AM :


Here's yet another excerpt from Gulliver's Travels, which comes after Swift explains England in Great detail to the King of Brobdingnag. Of course, the King had asked Gulliver many questions which poked holes at the very foundations of English government, society, etc. (hence the satire). The king is a GIANT literally, and figuratively (intellectually), compared to puny Gulliver.

"His Majesty in another Audience was at the Pains to recapitulate the Sum of
all I had spoken, compared the Questions he made with the Answers I had
given; then taking me into his Hands, and stroaking me gently, delivered
himself in these Words, which I shall never forget nor the Manner he
spoke them in: My little Friend Grildrig, you have made a most admirable
Panegyric upon your Country: You have clearly proved that Ignorance,
Idleness, and Vice may be sometimes the only Ingredients for qualifying a
Legislator: That Laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied by those
whose Interest and Abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding
them. I observe among you some Lines of an Institution, which in its
Original might have been tolerable, but these half erazed, and the rest
wholly blurred and blotted by Corruptions. It doth not appear from all you
have said, how any one Virtue is required towards the Procurement of any
one Station among you, much less that Men are ennobled on Account of
their Virtue, that Priests are advanced for their Piety or Learning, Soldiers
for their Conduct or Valour, Judges for their Integrity, Senators for the
Love of their Country, or Counsellors for their Wisdom. As for yourself,
(continued the King,) who have spent the greatest Part of your Life in
Travelling, I am well disposed to hope you may hitherto have escaped
many Vices of your Country. But by what I have gathered from your own
Relation, and the Answers I have with much Pain wringed and extorted
from you, I cannot but conclude the Bulk of your Natives to be the most
pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl
upon the Surface of the Earth."

Such refreshing words from a man who not only beautifully criticized the Church, but his own country.... and he was always correct. Of course, there were aspects of the church and country that he agreed with and complimented as well. That goes without saying....though it was just said.

-- Jeff
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