Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver has the honor to "lick the Dust before his [the King's] footstool." What does this episode tell us about Swift's thoughts on Kings?

Pg 189

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This was a regular custom........ and adhered to be everyone wishing to seek admittance. The floor was actually made impeccably clean before Gulliver was made to;

"....... crawl upon my belly, and lick the floor as I advanced; but, on account of my being a stranger, care was taken to have it made so clean, that the dust was not offensive."

For someone the King is unhappy with, the floor might be dirtied on purpose;

".......sometimes the floor is strewed with dust on purpose, when the person to be admitted happens to have powerful enemies at court; and I have seen a great lord with his mouth so crammed, that when he had crept to the proper distance from the throne; he was not able to speak a word."

As far as revenge, another form of dirtying took place;

".....when the king has a mind to put any of his nobles to death in a gentle indulgent manner, he commands the floor to be strewed with a certain brown powder of a deadly composition, which being licked up, infallibly kills him in twenty-four hours."

Swift is not a fan of monarchies.


Gulliver's Travels/ Part 3/ Chapter 9