Tuesday, February 14, 2012


A Pernicious Race of Little Odious Vermin

In Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Part II, Chapter VI, Lemuel Gulliver gives the King of Brobdingnag an account of the history and institutions of Great Britain. The King replies:
My little Friend, Grildrig, you have made a most admirable Panegyrick upon your Country. You have clearly proved that Ignorance, Idleness and Vice are the proper 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 erased, and the rest wholly blurred and blotted by Corruptions. It doth not appear from all you have said, how any one Perfection 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 Pains 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.

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