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Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 4 Chapter 6

Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 4 Chapter 6

A continuation of the state of England under Queen Anne is given. The character of a first minister of state in European courts is described.

The discussion then turned to money and gold. The Houyhnhnm was unable to understand why human beings lied or injured fellow beings. Gulliver tried to explain the concept of greed and exploitation to his Master. He told him that when a human being had got a great store of money, he was able to purchase whatever he had a mind to; the finest clothing, the most luxurious houses, great tracts of land, and the best food. For this, the rich man enjoyed the fruit of the poor man’s labour, and the latter were a thousand to one in proportion to the former; that the bulk of people were forced to live miserably, by labouring every day for small wages, to make a few live plentifully.

He talked of the absurdities of importing and exporting, sending away necessities such as agricultural products and bringing in luxuries. He claimed that England grew enough food to support its population comfortably, but because they wanted luxury, they had to export what they grew in exchange for things that they didn’t need. A female Yahoo couldn’t get her breakfast without someone having circled the world three times for the tea she drank and the china cup she drank it from. This luxury of rich food led the English to diseases, the likes of which the Houyhnhnms had never seen. Another group of people had arisen to treat these diseases—to profit off them—using fake potions to make people cleanse their insides. This group of people, the doctors, made so much profit on disease that they encouraged people to think that they were sick even when they weren’t.

While discussing political thought, Gulliver accidentally mentioned a minister of state. At that Gulliver’s master wanted to know what a ‘Minister of State’ was. Gulliver told him that the First Minister of State was someone totally without any emotion besides ambition for money, power and titles. The chief qualifications for the First Minister of State were: to know how to get rid of an inconvenient relative; to undermine his predecessor; to shout endlessly against corruption at court.

Gulliver felt a wise prince was one who had corrupt ministers because they were given to flattery and bowed to the will and desire of their master. These ministers kept themselves in power, by bribing the majority of a senate or great council. They made laws to save themselves from being called to account on retiring. And they retired from office rich with the loot they had plundered from the nation. Chief Ministers of State bribed and intimidated others to follow their orders.

Gulliver’s tirade continued. He told his master that the nobility in his country were educated to be lazy and ignorant and that there was frequent mixing of classes that damaged noble blood lines. Despite their total uselessness, they still had authority over all lower-born people in the country.