VOYAGE TO THE HOUYHNHNMS 247
chief minister: the first is, by knowing how with prudence to dispose of a wife, a daughter, or a sister: the second, by betraying or undermining his predecessor: and the third is, by a furious zeal in public assemblies against the corruptions of the Court. But a wise prince would rather choose to employ those who practise the last of these methods: because such zealots prove always the most obsequious and subservient to the will and passions of their master. That these ministers, having all employments at their disposal, preserve themselves in power by bribing the majority of a senate or great council; and at last, by an expedient called an Act of Indemnity (whereof I described the nature to him) they secure themselves from after reckonings, and retire from the public, laden with the spoils of the nation.
The palace of the chief minister is a seminary to breed up others in his own trade: the pages, lacqueys, and porter, by imitating their master, become ministers of state in their several districts, and learn to excel in the three principal ingredients of insolence, lying, and bribery. Accordingly, they have a subaltern court paid to them by persons of the best rank; and sometimes, by the force of dexterity and impudence, arrive, through several gradations, to be successors to their lord.
One day, in discourse, my master, having heard me mention the nobility of my country, was pleased to make me a compliment, which I could not pretend to deserve: that he was sure I must have been born of some noble family, because I far exceeded, in shape, colour, and cleanliness, all the Yahoos of his nation, although I seemed to fail in strength and agility, which must be imputed to my different way of living from those other brutes; and, besides, I was not only endowed with the faculty of speech, but likewise with some rudiments of reason, to a degree that, with all his acquaintance, I passed for a prodigy.
He made me observe that, among the Houyhnhnms, the