No lords, fiddlers, judges, or dancing-masters

I had no occasion of bribing, flattering, or pimping, to procure the favour of any great man, or of his minion. I wanted no fence against fraud or oppression; here was neither physician to destroy my body, nor lawyer to ruin my fortune; no informer to watch my words and actions, or forge accusations against me for hire; here were no gibers, censurers, backbiters, pickpockets, highwaymen, housebreakers, attorneys, bawds, buffoons, gamesters, politicians, wits, splenetics, tedious talkers, controvertists, ravishers, murderers, robbers, virtuosos; no leaders, or followers, of party and faction; no encouragers to vice, by seducement or examples; no dungeon, axes, gibbets, whipping-posts, or pillories; no cheating shopkeepers or mechanics; no pride, vanity, or affectation; no fops, bullies, drunkards, strolling whores, or poxes; no ranting, lewd, expensive wives; no stupid, proud pedants; no importunate, overbearing, quarrelsome, noisy, roaring, empty, conceited, swearing companions; no scoundrels raised from the dust for the sake of their vices, or nobility thrown into it on account of their virtues; no lords, fiddlers, judges, or dancing-masters

I recently finished Gullivers Travels which I must say I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m amazed it took me quite so many years to get round to reading it – especially as it’s such a well known classic. Sometimes it’s just too easy to think that ‘old’ works (this was written almost 300 years ago) are too studious, academic, fusty or dry to read when there is such an abundance of contemporary writing. But reading Gullivers Travels reminded me that the best writing endures for centuries and beyond. Swift’s writing style is masterful and the story explores so many themes. Nominally it is a travelogue of sorts, but it it has strong elements of sci-fi (!), fantasy, dystopian and utopian concepts – all explored in one book. Added to which it’s genuinely very funny in places. Ultimately – I regarded it as a study of man and of humanity in general, which it does very well.

The quote pictured is extremely long, but the rest of the book is not made up of such large blocks of text and is in fact quite easy to digest. But this final polemic – written by the author as he extols the virtues of the utopian state he is currently in (inhabited and governed by horses), a place in which he wants to stay, not wanting to return to England – I found quite stirring.

Highly recommended in the unlikely (?) event you haven’t read it.