VOYAGE TO THE HOUYHNHNMS 245
and that the use of this liquor filled us with diseases, which made our lives uncomfortable and short.
But, beside all this, the bulk of our people supported themselves by furnishing the necessities or conveniences of life to the rich, and to each other. For instance, when I am at home, and dressed, as I ought to be, I carry on my body the workmanship of an hundred tradesmen; the building and furniture of my house employ as many more, and five times the number to adorn my wife.
I was going on to tell him of another sort of people, who get their livelihood by attending the sick, having upon some occasions informed his honour that many of my crew had died of diseases. But here it was with the utmost difficulty that I brought him to apprehend what I meant. He could easily conceive that a Houyhnhnm grew weak and heavy a few days before his death; or, by some accident, might hurt a limb. But that Nature, who works all things to perfection, should suffer any pains to breed in our bodies, he thought impossible, and desired to know the reason of so unaccountable an evil. I told him we fed on a thousand things, which operated contrary to each other; that we ate when we were not hungry, and drank without the provocation of thirst; that we sat whole nights drinking strong liquors without eating a bit, which disposed us to sloth, inflamed our bodies, and precipitated or prevented digestion. That it would be endless to give him a catalogue of all diseases incident to human bodies; for they could not be fewer than five or six hundred spread over every limb and joint; in short, every part, external and intestine, having diseases appropriated to each. To remedy which, there was a sort of people bred up among us, in the profession, or pretence, of curing the sick. And, because I had some skill in the faculty, I would, in gratitude to his honour, let him know the whole mystery and method by which they proceed.
But, besides real diseases, we are subject to many that