238 GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
on the dominions himself, and kill, imprison, or banish the prince he came to relieve. Alliance by blood, or marriage, is a frequent cause of war between princes; and the nearer the kindred is, the greater is their disposition to quarrel: poor nations are hungry, and rich nations are proud; and pride and hunger will ever be at variance. For these reasons the trade of a soldier is held the most honourable of all others: because a soldier is a Yahoo hired to kill in cold blood as many of his own species, who had never offended him, as possibly he can.
There is, likewise, a kind of beggarly princes in Europe, not able to make war by themselves, who hire out their troops to richer nations, for so much a day to each man; of which they keep three-fourths to themselves, and it is the best part of their maintenance; such are those in Germany and other northern parts of Europe.
' What you have told me " (said my master) " upon the subject of war, does, indeed, discover most admirably the defects of that reason you pretend to: however, it is happy that the shame is greater than the danger; and that Nature hath left you utterly incapable of doing much mischief.
" For, your mouths lying flat with your faces, you can hardly bite each other to any purpose, unless by consent. Then as to the claws upon your feet before and behind, they are so short and tender, that one of our Yahoos would drive a dozen of yours before him. And, therefore, in recounting the numbers of those who have been killed in battle, I cannot but think that you have said the thing which is not."
I could not forbear shaking my head, and smiling a little at his ignorance. And, being no stranger to the art of war, I gave him a description of cannons, culverins, muskets, carbines, pistols, bullets, powder, swords, bayonets, battles, sieges, retreats, attacks, undermines, countermines, bombardments, sea-fights; ships sunk with a thousand men; twenty thousand killed on each side; dying groans, limbs iiying in the air; smoke, noise, confusion, trampling to death