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and although it was impossible for me to conjecture what it meant, yet, while the two horses were busy in conversation, I endeavoured to practise this word upon my tongue; and, as soon as they were silent, I boldly pronounced Yahoo in a loud voice, imitating at the same time, as near as I could, the neighing of a horse ; at which they were both visibly surprised, and the gray repeated the same word twice, as if he meant to teach me the right accent; wherein I spoke after him as well as I could, and found myself perceivably to improve every time, though very far from any degree of perfection. Then the bay tried me with a second word much harder to be pronounced, but reducing it to the English orthography, may be spelt thus, Houyhnhnn. I did not succeed in this so well as in the former : but after two or three farther trials I had better fortune, and they both appeared amazed at my capacity.
After some farther discourse, which I then conjectured might relate to me, the two friends took their leaves with the same compliment of striking each other's hoof, and the gray made me signs that I should walk before him ; wherein I thought it prudent to comply, till I could find a better director. When I offered to slacken my pace, he would cry hhuun hhuun. I guessed his meaning, and gave him to understand as well as I could, “that I was weary, and not able to walk faster ;” upon which he would stand a while to let me rest.
Having travelled about three miles, we came to a long kind of building made of timber stuck in the ground and wattled across; the roof was low and covered with straw. I now began to be a little com
forted, and took out some toys which travellers usually carry for presents to the savage Indians of America and other parts, in hopes the people of the house would be thereby encouraged to receive me kindly. The horse made me a sign to go in first. It was a large room, with a smooth clay floor, and a rack and manger extending the whole length on one side. There were three nags and two mares, not eating, but some of them sitting down upon their hams; which I very much wondered at, but wondered more to see the rest employed in domestic business : these seemed but ordinary cattle. However, this confirmed my first opinion, that a people who could so far civilize brute animals must needs excel in wisdom all the nations of the world. The gray came in just after, and thereby prevented any ill treatment which the others might have given me. He neighed to them several times in a style of authority, and received answers.
Beyond this room there were three others reaching the length of the house, to which you passed through three doors, opposite to each other, in the manner of a vista. We went through the second room towards the third. Here the gray walked in first, beckoning me to attend : I waited in the second room, and got ready my presents for the master and mistress of the house ; they were two knives, three bracelets of false pearl, a small looking-glass, and a bead necklace. The horse neighed three or four times, and I waited to hear some answers in a human voice; but I heard no other returns than in the same dialect, only one or two a little shriller than his. I began to think that this house must belong to some person of great note among them, because there appeared so much ceremony be
fore I could gain admittance. But that a man of quality should be served all by horses, was beyond my comprehension. I feared my brain was disturbed by my sufferings and misfortunes. I roused myself, and looked about me in the room where I was left alone; this was furnished like the first, only after a more elegant manner. I rubbed my eyes often, but the same objects still occurred : I pinched my arms and sides to awake myself, hoping I might be in a dream. I then absolutely concluded that all these appearances could be nothing else but necromancy and magic. But I had no time to pursue these reflections, for the gray horse came to the door, and made me a sign to follow him into the third room; where I saw a very comely mare, together with a colt and foal, sitting on their haunches upon mats of straw not unartfully made, and perfectly neat and clean.
The mare, soon after my entrance, rose from her mat, and coming up close, after having nicely observed my hands and face, gave me a most contemptuous look; and turning to the horse, I heard the word Yahoo often repeated betwixt them, the meaning of which word I could not then comprehend, although it was the first I had learned to pronounce. But I was soon better informed, to my everlasting mortification ; for the horse beckoning to me with his head, and repeating the hhuun, hhuun, as he did upon the road, which I understood was to attend him, led me out into a kind of court where was another building at some distance from the house. Here we entered, and I saw three detestable creatures, feeding upon roots and the flesh of some animals, which I afterwards found to be that of asses and dogs and now and then a cow dead
by accident or disease. They were all tied by the neck with strong withes fastened to a beam ; they held their food between the claws of their fore-feet, and tore it with their teeth.
The master horse ordered a sorrel nag, one of his servants, to untie the largest of these animals, and take him into the yard. The beast and I were brought close together, and our countenances diligently compared both by master and servant, who thereupon repeated several times the word Yahoo. My horror and astonishment are not to be described, when I observed in this abominable animal a perfect human figure : the face of it indeed was flat and broad, the nose depressed, the lips large, and the mouth wide ; but these differences are common to all savage nations, where the lineaments of the countenance are distorted by the natives suffering their infants to lie grovelling on the earth, or by carrying them on their backs nuzzling with their face against the mother's shoulders. The forefeet of the Yahoo differed from my hands in nothing else but the length of the nails, the coarseness and brownness of the palms, and the hairiness on the backs. There was the same resemblance between our feet, with the same differences, which I knew very well, though the horses did not, because of my shoes and stockings; the same in every part of our bodies, except as to hairiness and colour, which I have already described.
THE VIRTUES OF THE HOUYHNHNMS
HAVING lived three years in this country, the reader, I suppose, will expect that I should, like other travellers, give him some account of the manners and customs of its inhabitants, which it was indeed my principal study to learn.
As these noble Houyhnhnms are endowed by nature with a general disposition to all virtues, and have no conceptions or ideas of what is evil in a rational creature, so their grand maxim is to cultivate reason and to be wholly governed by it. Neither is reason among them a point problematical, as with us, where men can argue with plausibility on both sides of the ques. tion ; but strikes you with immediate conviction, as it must needs do where it is not mingled, obscured, or discoloured, by passion and interest. I remember it was with extreme difficulty that I could bring my master to understand the meaning of the word opinion, or how a point could be disputable; because reason taught us to affirm or deny only where we are certain ; and beyond our knowledge we cannot do either : so that controversies, wranglings, disputes, and positiveness, in false or dubious propositions, are evils unknown among the Houyhnhnms. In the like manner, when I used to explain to him our several systems of