Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio
(Return to Web Text-ures)
Several adventures that happened to the Author. The Author shows his skill in navigation.
SHOULD have lived happy enough in that country, if my littleness had not exposed me to several ridiculous and troublesome accidents: some of which I shall venture to relate. Glumdalclitch often carried me into the gardens of the court in my smaller box, and would sometimes take me out of it and hold me in her hand, or set me down to walk. I remember, before the dwarf left the Queen, he followed us one day into those gardens, and my nurse having set me down, he and I being close together, near some dwarf apple-trees, I must needs show my wit by a silly allusion between him and the trees, which happens to hold in their language as it doth in ours. Whereupon, the malicious rogue watching his opportunity, when I was walking under one of them, shook it directly over my head, by which a dozen apples, each of them near as large as a Bristol barrel, came tumbling about my ears; one of them hit me on the back as I chanced to stoop, and knocked me down flat on my face, but I received no other hurt, and the dwarf was pardoned at my desire, because I had given the provocation.
Another day Glumdalclitch left me on a smooth grass-plot to divert myself while she walked at some distance with her governess. In the meantime there suddenly fell such a violent shower of hail, that I was immediately by the force of it struck to the ground: and when I was down, the hailstones gave me such cruel bangs all over the body, as if I had been pelted with tennis-balls; however I made a shift to creep on all four, and shelter myself by lying flat on my face on the lee-side of a border of lemon thyme, but so bruised from head to foot that I could not go abroad in ten days. Neither is this at all to be wondered at, because nature in that country observing the same proportion through all her operations, a hailstone is near eighteen hundred times as large as one in Europe, which I can assert upon experience, having been so curious to weigh and measure them.
But a more dangerous accident happened to me in the same garden, when my little nurse believing she had put me in a secure place, which I often entreated her to do, that I might enjoy my own thoughts, and having left my box at home to avoid the trouble of carrying it, went to another part of the garden with her governess and some ladies of her acquaintance. While she was absent, and out of hearing, a small white spaniel belonging to one of the chief gardeners, having got by accident into the garden, happened to range near the place where I lay. The dog following the scent, came directly up, and taking me in his mouth, ran straight to his master, wagging his tail, and set me gently on the ground. By good fortune he had been so well taught, that I was carried between his teeth without the least hurt, or even tearing my clothes. But the poor gardener, who knew me well, and had a great kindness for me, was in a terrible fright. He gently took me up in both his hands, and asked me how I did; but I was so amazed and out of breath, that I could not speak a word. In a few minutes I came to myself, and he carried me safe to my little nurse, who by this time had returned to the place where she left me, and was in cruel agonies when I did not appear, nor answer when she called: she severely reprimanded the gardener on account of his dog. But the thing was hushed up, and never known at court; for the girl was afraid of the Queen's anger, and truly as to myself, I thought it would not be for my reputation that such a story should go about.
This accident absolutely determined Glumdalclitch never to trust me abroad for the future out of her sight. I had been long afraid of this resolution, and therefore concealed from her some little unlucky adventures that happened in those times when I was left by myself. Once a kite hovering over the garden made a stoop at me, and if I had not resolutely drawn my hanger, and run under a thick espalier, he would have certainly carried me away in his talons. Another time walking to the top of a fresh mole-hill, I fell to my neck in the hole through which that animal had cast up the earth, and coined some lie, not worth remembering, to excuse myself for spoiling my clothes. I likewise broke my right shin against the shell of a snail, which I happened to stumble over, as I was walking alone, and thinking on poor England.
The Queen, who often used to hear me talk of my sea-voyages, and took all occasions to divert me when I was melancholy, asked me whether I understood how to handle a sail, or an oar, and whether a little exercise of rowing might not be convenient for my health. I answered, that I understood both very well: for although my proper employment had been to be surgeon or doctor to the ship, yet often, upon a pinch, I was forced to work like a common mariner. But I could not see how this could be done in their country, where the smallest wherry was equal to a first-rate man of war among us, and such a boat as I could manage would never live in any of their rivers. Her Majesty said, if I would contrive a boat, her own joiner should make it, and she would provide a place for me to sail in. The fellow was an ingenious workman, and, by my instructions, in ten days finished a pleasure-boat with all its tackling, able conveniently to hold eight Europeans. When it was finished, the Queen was so delighted, that she ran with it in her lap to the King, who ordered it to be put in a cistern full of water, with me in it, by way of trial; where I could not manage my two sculls, or little oars, for want of room. But the Queen had before contrived another project. She order the joiner to make a wooden trough of three hundred foot long, fifty broad, and eight deep; which being well pitched to prevent leaking, was placed on the floor along the wall, in an outer room of the palace. It had a cock near the bottom to let out the water when it began to grow stale, and two servants could easily fill it in half an hour. Here I often used to row for my own diversion, as well as that of the Queen and her ladies, who thought themselves well entertained with my skill and agility. Sometimes I would put up my sail, and then my business was only to steer, while the ladies gave me a gale with their fans; and when they were weary, some of the pages would blow my sail forward with their breath, while I showed my art by steering starboard or larboard as I pleased. When I had done, Glumdalclitch always carried my boat into her closet, and hung it on a nail to dry.
In this exercise I once met an accident which had like to have cost me my life: for, one of the pages having put my boat into the trough, the governess, who attended Glumdalditch, very officiously lifted me up to place me in the boat, but I happened to slip through her fingers, and should have infallibly fallen down forty feet upon the floor, if by the luckiest chance in the world, I had not been stopped by a corking-pin that stuck in the good gentlewoman's stomacher; the head of the pin passed between my shirt and the waistband of my breeches, and thus I was held by the middle in the air till Glumdalclitch ran to my relief.
Another time, one of the servants, whose office it was to fill my trough every third day with fresh water, was so careless to let a huge frog (not perceiving it) slip out of his pail. The frog lay concealed till I was put into my boat, but then seeing a resting-place, climbed up, and made it lean so much on one side, that I was forced to balance it with all my weight on the other, to prevent overturning. When the frog was got in, it hopped at once half the length of the boat, and then over my head, backwards and forwards, daubing my face and clothes with its odious slime. The largeness of its features made it appear the most deformed animal that can be conceived. However, I desired Glumdalclitch to let me deal with it alone. I banged it a good while with one of my sculls, and at last forced it to leap out of the boat.
the greatest danger I ever underwent in that kingdom, was from a
monkey, who belonged to one of the clerks of the kitchen.
Glumdalclitch had locked me up in her closet, while she went
somewhere upon business, or a visit. The weather being very warm, the
closet-window was left open, as well as the windows and the door of
my bigger box, in which I usually lived, because of its largeness and
conveniency. As I sat quietly meditating at my table, I heard
something bounce in at the closet-window, and skip about from one
side to the other; whereat, although I were much alarmed, yet I
ventured to look out, but not stirring from my seat; and then I saw
this frolicsome animal, frisking and leaping up and down, till at
last he came to my box, which he seemed to view with great pleasure
and curiosity, peeping in at the door and every window. I retreated
to the farther corner of my room, or box, but the monkey looking in
at every side, put me into such a fright, that I wanted presence of
mind to conceal myself under the bed, as I might easily have done.
After some time spent in peeping, grinning, and chattering, he at
last espied me, and reaching one of his paws in at the door, as a cat
does when she plays with a mouse, although I often shifted place to
avoid him, he at length seized the lappet of my coat (which being
made of that country silk, was very thick and strong) and dragged me
out. He took me up in his right fore-foot, and held me as a nurse
does a child, just as I have seen the same sort of creature do with a
kitten in Europe: and when I offered to struggle, he squeezed me so
hard, that I thought it more prudent to submit. I have good reason to
believe that he took me for a young one of his own species, by his
often stroking my face very gently with his other paw. In these
diversions he was interrupted by a noise at the closet door, as if
somebody were opening it; whereupon he suddenly leaped up to the
window, at which he had come in, and thence upon the leads and
gutters, walking upon three legs, and holding me in the fourth, till
he clambered up to a roof that was next to ours. I heard
Glumdalclitch give a shriek at the moment he was carrying me out. The
poor girl was almost distracted: that quarter of the palace was all
in an uproar; the servants ran for ladders; the monkey was seen by
hundreds in the court, sitting upon the ridge of a building, holding
me like a baby in one of his fore-paws, and feeding me with the
other, by cramming into my mouth some victuals he had squeezed out of
the bag on one side of his chaps, and patting me when I would not
eat; whereat many of the rabble below could not forbear laughing;
neither do I think they justly ought to be blamed, for without
question the sight was ridiculous enough to every body but myself.
Some of the people threw up stones, hoping to drive the monkey down;
but this was strictly forbidden, or else very probably my brains had
been dashed out.
The monkey was seen by hundreds in the court, sitting upon
the ridge of a building, holding me like a baby in one of his fore-paws
The ladders were now applied, and mounted by several men, which the monkey observing, and finding himself almost encompassed; not being able to make speed enough with his three legs, let me drop on a ridge tile, and made his escape. Here I sat for some time three hundred yards from the ground, expecting every moment to be blown down by the wind, or to fall by my own giddiness, and come tumbling over and over from the ridge to the eaves; but an honest lad, one of my nurse's footmen, climbed up, and putting me into his breeches pocket, brought me down safe.
I was almost choked with the filthy stuff the monkey had crammed down my throat: but my dear little nurse picked it out of my mouth with a small needle, and then I fell a vomiting, which gave me great relief. Yet I was so weak and bruised in the sides with the squeezes given me by this odious animal, that I was forced to keep my bed a fortnight. The King, Queen, and all the court, sent every day to enquire after my health, and her Majesty made me several visits during my sickness. The monkey was killed, and an order made that no such animal should be kept about the palace.
I attended the King after my recovery, to return him thanks for his
favours, he was pleased to rally me a good deal upon this adventure.
He asked me what my thoughts and speculations were while I lay in the
monkey's paw; how I liked the victuals he gave me; his manner of
feeding; and whether the fresh air on the roof had sharpened my
stomach. He desired to know what I would have done upon such an
occasion in my own country. I told his Majesty, that in Europe we had
no monkeys, except such as were brought for curiosities from other
places, and so small, that I could deal with a dozen of them
together, if they presumed to attack me. And as for that monstrous
animal with whom I was so lately engaged, (it was indeed as large as
an elephant) if my fears had suffered me to think so far as to make
use of my hanger, (looking fiercely and clapping my hand upon the
hilt as I spoke) when he poked his paw into my chamber, perhaps I
should have given him such a wound, as would have made him glad to
withdraw it with more haste than he put it in. This I delivered in a
firm tone, like a person who was jealous lest his courage should be
called in question. However, my speech produced nothing else besides
a loud laughter, which all the respect due to his Majesty from those
about him could not make them contain. This made me reflect how vain
an attempt it is for a man to endeavour doing himself honour among
those who are out of all degree of equality or comparison with him.
And yet I have seen the moral of my own behaviour very frequent in
England since my return, where a little contemptible varlet, without
the least title to birth, person, wit, or common sense, shall presume
to look with importance, and put himself upon a foot with the
greatest persons of the kingdom.