Part II - Chapter II

MY MISTRESS HAD a daughter of nine years old, a child of towardly parts for her age, very dexterous at her needle and skilful at dressing her baby. Her mother and she contrived to fit up the baby's cradle for me against night. The cradle was put into a small drawer placed upon a hanging shelf for fear of the rats. This was my bed all the time I stayed with those people, though made more convenient by degrees as I began to learn their language and make my wants known. This young girl was so handy that after I had once or twice pulled off my clothes before her she was able to dress and undress me, though I never gave her that trouble when she would let me do either myself. She made me seven shirts, and some other linen, of as fine cloth as could be got, which, indeed, was coarser than sack-cloth; and these she constantly washed for me with her own hands. She was likewise my schoolmistress to teach me the language. When I pointed to anything she told me the name of it in her own tongue, so that in a few days I was able to call for whatever I had a mind to. She was very good-natured, and not above forty feet high, being little for her age. She gave me the name of Grildrig, which the family took up, and afterward the whole kingdom. The word imports what the Latins call Nanunculus, the Italians Homunceletino, and the English Mannikin. To her I chiefly owe my preservation in that country; we never parted while I was there; I called her my Glumdalclitch, or little nurse; and should be guilty of great ingratitude if I omitted this honorable mention of her care and affection toward me, which I heartily wish it lay in my power to requite as she deserves, instead of being the innocent but unhappy instrument of her disgrace, as I have too much reason to fear.

It now began to be known and talked of in the neighborhood that my master had found a strange animal in the field, about the bigness of a splacknuck, but exactly shaped in every part like a human creature, which it likewise imitated in all its actions; seemed to speak in a little language of its own; had already learned several words of theirs; went erect upon two legs; was tame and gentle; would come when it was called, do whatever it was bid; had the finest limbs in the world, and a complexion fairer than a nobleman's daughter of three years old. Another farmer, who lived hard by, and was a particular friend of my master, came on a visit on purpose to inquire into the truth of this story. I was immediately produced and placed upon a table, where I walked as I was commanded, drew my hanger, put it up again, made my reverence to my master's guest, asked him in his own language how he did, and told him he was welcome, just as my little nurse had instructed me. This man, who was old and dim-sighted, put on his spectacles to behold me better, at which I could not forbear laughing very heartily for his eyes appeared like the full moon shining into a chamber at two windows. Our people, who discovered the cause of my mirth, bore me company in laughing, at which the old fellow was fool enough to be angry and out of countenance. He had the character of a great miser, and, to my misfortune, he well deserved it, by the cursed advice he gave my master to show me as a sight upon market-day in the next town, which was half an hour's riding, about two-and-twenty miles from our house. I guessed there was some mischief contriving when I observed my master and his friend whispering long together, sometimes pointing at me; and my fears made me fancy that I overheard and understood some of their words. But the next morning Glumdalclitch, my little nurse, told me the whole matter, which she had cunningly picked out from her mother. The poor girl laid me on her bosom and fell a-weeping with shame and grief. She apprehended some mischief would happen to me from rude, vulgar folks, who might squeeze me to death or break one of my limbs by taking me in their hands. She had also observed how modest I was in my nature, how nicely I regarded my honor, and what an indignity I should conceive it to be exposed for money as a public spectacle to the meanest of the people. She said her papa and mamma had promised that Grildrig should be hers, but now she found they meant to serve her as they did last year, when they pretended to give her a lamb, and yet as soon as it was fat sold it to a butcher. For my own part, I may truly affirm that I was less concerned than my nurse. I had a strong hope, which never left me, that I should one day recover my liberty; and, as to the ignominy of being carried about for a monster, I considered myself to be a perfect stranger in the country, and that such a misfortune could never be charged upon me as a reproach if ever I should return to England, since the King of Great Britain himself, in my condition, must have undergone the same distress.

My master, pursuant to the advice of his friend, carried me in a box the next market-day to the neighboring town, and took along with him his little daughter, my nurse, upon a pillion behind him. The box was close on every side, with a little door for me to go in and out, and a few gimlet-holes to let in air. The girl had been so careful as to put the quilt of her baby's bed into it for me to lie down on. However, I was terribly shaken and discomposed in this journey, though it was but of half an hour. For the horse went about forty feet at every step, and trotted so high that the agitation was equal to the rising and falling of a ship in a great storm, but much more frequent; our journey was somewhat farther than from London to St. Alban's. My master alighted at an inn which he used to frequent; and after consulting awhile with the inn-keeper and making some necessary preparations, he hired the grultrud, or crier, to give notice through the town of a strange creature to be seen at the sign of the Green Eagle, not so big as a splacknuck (an animal in that country very finely shaped, about six feet long), and in every part of the body resembling a human creature, could speak several words, and perform a hundred diverting tricks.

I was placed upon a table in the largest room of the inn, which might be near three hundred feet square. My little nurse stood on a low stool close to the table, to take care of me and direct what I should do. My master, to avoid a crowd, would suffer only thirty people at a time to see me. I walked about on the table as the girl commanded; she asked me questions as far as she knew my understanding of the language reached, and I answered them as loud as I could. I turned about several times to the company, paid my humble respects, said they were welcome, and used some other speeches I had been taught. I took up a thimble filled with liquor, which Glumdalclitch had given me for a cup, and drank their health. I drew out my hanger and flourished with it after the manner of fencers in England. My nurse gave me a part of a straw, which I exercised as a pike, having learned the art in my youth. I was that day shown to twelve sets of company, and as often forced to go over again the same fopperies, till I was half dead with weariness and vexation. For those who had seen me made such wonderful reports that the people were ready to break down the doors to come in. My master, for his own interest, would not suffer any one to touch me except my nurse; and, to prevent danger, benches were set round the table at such a distance as to put me out of everybody's reach. However, an unlucky school-boy aimed a hazel-nut directly at my head, which very narrowly missed me; otherwise it came with so much violence that it would have infallibly knocked out my brains, for it was almost as large as a small pumpkin; but I had the satisfaction to see the young rogue well beaten and turned out of the room.

My master gave public notice that he would show me again the next market-day, and in the mean time he prepared a more convenient vehicle for me, which he had reason enough to do, for I was so tired with my first journey, and with entertaining company for eight hours together, that I could hardly stand upon my legs or speak a word. It was at least three days before I recovered my strength; and that I might have no rest at home, all the neighboring gentlemen from a hundred miles round, hearing of my fame, came to see me at my master's own house. There could not be fewer than thirty persons with their wives and children (for the country is very populous); and my master demanded the rate of a full room whenever he showed me at home, although it were only to a single family, so that for some time I had but little ease every day of the week (except Wednesday, which is their Sabbath), although I were not carried to the town.

My master, finding how profitable I was like to be, resolved to carry me to the most considerable cities of the kingdom. Having therefore provided himself with all things necessary for a long journey and settled his affairs at home, he took leave of his wife, and upon the 17th of August, 1703, about two months after my arrival, we set out for the metropolis, situated near the middle of that empire, and about three thousand miles’ distance from our house; my master made his daughter Glumdalclitch ride behind him. She carried me on her lap in a box tied about her waist. The girl had lined it on all sides with the softest cloth she could get, well quilted underneath, furnished it with her baby's bed, provided me with linen and other necessaries, and made everything as convenient as she could. We had no other company but a boy of the house, who rode after us with the luggage.

My master's design was to show me in all the towns by the way, and to step out of the road for fifty or a hundred miles to any village or person of quality's house where he might expect custom. We made easy journeys of not above seven or eight score miles a day, for Glumdalclitch, on purpose to spare me, complained she was tired with the trotting of the horse. She often took me out of my box, at my own desire, to give me air, and show me the country, but always held me fast by a leading-string. We passed over five or six rivers, many degrees broader and deeper than the Nile or the Ganges; and there was hardly a rivulet so small as the Thames at London Bridge. We were ten weeks in our journey, and I was shown in eighteen large towns, besides many villages and private families.

On the twenty-sixth day of October we arrived at the metropolis, called in their language Lorbrulgrud, or Pride of the Universe. My master took a lodging in the principal street of the city, not far from the royal palace, and put out bills in the usual form, containing an exact description of my person and parts. He hired a large room between three and four hundred feet wide. He provided a table sixty feet in diameter, upon which I was to act my part, and pallisadoed it round three feet from the edge, and as many high, to prevent my falling over. I was shown ten times a day, to the wonder and satisfaction of all people. I could now speak the language tolerably well, and perfectly understood every word that was spoken to me. Besides, I had learned their alphabet and could make a shift to explain a sentence here and there; for Glumdalclitch had been my instructor while we were at home and at leisure hours during our journey. She carried a little book in her pocket, not much larger than a Sanson's Atlas; it was a common treatise for the use of young girls, giving a short account of their religion; out of this she taught me my letters and interpreted the words.

A description of the farmer's daughter. The Author carried to a market-town, and then to the metropolis. The particulars of his journey.


  1. Here, Swift introduces clothing as a symbol for change. Throughout the rest of the novel, whenever Gulliver enters a new environment, or gains a new perspective, his clothing will change. Clothing becomes a way for Swift to illustrate both a change in Gulliver’s perspective and his tremendous adaptability when he finds himself in an unfamiliar land.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Alternate spelling of the term “palisade,” which is a fence of stakes that is typically created for defense. Gulliver is “pallisadoed” in as a spectacle so that he does not fall, but also potentially so that spectators cannot harm or steal the farmer’s business opportunity.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Note that Swift uses the same word to describe Gulliver as Gulliver initially used to describe the giant inhabitants. Consider that the Lilliputians saw Gulliver as a kind of monster as well before getting to know him. Swift’s use of repetition thus highlights the illogical nature of our tendency to view those who seem different from us as frightening or threatening.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. This is not so unlike what Gulliver did when he brought the animals from Lilliput back to England. Gulliver is treated like a curiosity and a form of capital rather than an intelligent and feeling being. Swift thus continues to build on the theme of perspective by this time emphasizing that what we deem sentient or intelligent life is subjective.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Here, the word "custom" refers customers or business—that is, enough people to make showing off Gulliver worthwhile.

    — Stephen Holliday
  6. This is an example of verisimilitude, where Swift attempts to add realism to the narrative by specifying a date. In this case, verisimilitude is an important technique because the setting of each of Gulliver's voyages is so unreal.

    — Stephen Holliday
  7. The words "Nanunculus" and "Homunceletino" don't exist in either Latin or Italian. Swift could be having fun with language or subtly satirizing Gulliver for his deficient language skills.

    — Stephen Holliday