VOYAGE TO THE HOUYHNHNMS 265
pressive in their language, but not easily rendered into English; it signifies, to retire to his first mother. Her excuse for not coming sooner was, that her husband dying late in the morning, she was a good while consulting her servants about a convenient place where his body should be laid; and, I observed, she behaved herself at our house as cheerfully as the rest: she died about three months after.
They live generally to seventy, or seventy-five years, very seldom to four-score: some weeks before their death, they feel a gradual decay; but without pain. During this time, they are much visited by their friends, because they cannot go abroad with their usual ease and satisfaction. However, about ten days before their death, which they seldom fail in computing, they return the visits that have been made them, by those who are nearest in the neighbourhood, being carried in a convenient sledge, drawn by Yahoos; which vehicle they use, not only upon this occasion, but when they grow old, upon long journeys, or when they are lamed by any accident. And, therefore, when the dying Houyhnhnms return those visits, they take a solemn leave of their friends, as if they were going to some remote part of the country, where they designed to pass the rest of their lives.
I know not whether it may be worth observing, that the Houyhnhnms have no word in their language to express any thing that is evil, except what they borrow from the deformities or ill qualities of the Yahoos. Thus they denote the folly of a servant, an omission of a child, a stone that cuts their feet, a continuance of foul or unseasonable weather, and the like, by adding to each the epithet of Yahoo. For instance, Hhnm Yahoo, Whnaholm Yahoo, Ynlhmndwihlma Yahoo, and an ill-contrived house, Ynholmhnmrohlnw Yahoo.
I could with great pleasure enlarge farther upon the manners and virtues of this excellent people; but, intending in a short time to publish a volume by itself expressly upon that subject, I refer the reader thither; and, in the meantime, proceed to relate my own sad catastrophe.