A VOYAGE TO LAPUTA, Etc. 189
his own mistakes in natural philosophy, because he proceeded in many things upon conjecture, as all men must do; and he found that Gassendi, who had made the doctrine of Epicurus as palatable as he could, and the vortices of Descartes were equally exploded. He predicted the same fate to attraction, whereof the present learned are such zealous asserters. He said that new systems of nature were but new fashions, which would vary in every age; and even those who pretend to demonstrate them from mathematical principles would flourish but a short period of time, and be out of vogue when that was determined.
I spent five days in conversing with many others of the ancient learned. I saw most of the first Roman Emperors. I prevailed on the governor to call up Eliogabalus's cooks to dress us a dinner, but they could not show us much of their skill for want of materials. A helot of Agesilaus made us a dish of Spartan broth, but I was not able to get down a second spoonful.
The two gentlemen who conducted me to the island were pressed by their private affairs to return in three days, which I employed in seeing some of the modern dead, who had made the greatest figure for two or three hundred years past, in our own and other countries of Europe; and having been always a great admirer of old illustrious families, I desired the governor would call up a dozen or two of kings, with their ancestors, in order, for eight or nine generations. But my disappointment was grievous and unexpected: for, instead of a long train with royal diadems, I saw in one family two fiddlers, three spruce courtiers, and an Italian prelate; in another a barber, an abbot, and two cardinals. I have too great a veneration for crowned heads to dwell any longer on so nice a subject. But as to counts, marquesses, dukes, earls, and the like, I was not so scrupulous. And, I confess, it was not without some pleasure that I found myself able to trace the particular features by which certain families are distinguished