VOYAGE TO THE HOUYHNHNMS 257
with such violence, that I was forced to let it go; and it was high time, for a whole troop of old ones came about us at the noise, but finding the cub was safe (for away it ran) and my sorrel nag being by, they durst not venture near us. I observed the young animal's flesh to smell very rank, and the stink was somewhat between a weasel and a fox, but much more disagreeable.
By what I could discover, the Yahoos appear to be the most unteachable of all animals; their capacities never reaching higher than to draw or carry burthens. Yet I am of opinion this defect ariseth chiefly from a perverse, restive disposition. For they are cunning, malicious, treacherous, and revengeful. They are strong and hardy, but of a cowardly spirit, and by consequence, insolent, abject, and cruel. It is observed, that the red haired of both sexes are more mischievous than the rest, whom yet they much exceed in strength and activity.
The Houyhnhnms keep the Yahoos for present use in huts not far from the house; but the rest are sent abroad to certain fields, where they dig up roots, eat several kinds of herbs, and search about for carrion, or sometimes catch weasels and luhimuhs (a sort of wild rat) which they greedily devour. Nature hath taught them to dig holes with their nails on the side of a rising ground, wherein they lie by themselves; only the kennels of the females are larger, sufficient to hold two or three cubs.
They swim from their infancy like frogs, and are able to continue long under water, where they often take fish, which the females carry home to their young.
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