PART IV--A VOYAGE TO THE COUNTRY OF THE HOUYHNHNMS.
10. CHAPTER X.
I had the favour of being admitted to several Houyhnhnms, who came
to visit or dine with my master; where his honour graciously
suffered me to wait in the room, and listen to their discourse.
Both he and his company would often descend to ask me questions,
and receive my answers. I had also sometimes the honour of
attending my master in his visits to others. I never presumed to
speak, except in answer to a question; and then I did it with
inward regret, because it was a loss of so much time for improving
myself; but I was infinitely delighted with the station of an
humble auditor in such conversations, where nothing passed but what
was useful, expressed in the fewest and most significant words;
where, as I have already said, the greatest decency was observed,
without the least degree of ceremony; where no person spoke without
being pleased himself, and pleasing his companions; where there was
no interruption, tediousness, heat, or difference of sentiments.
They have a notion, that when people are met together, a short
silence does much improve conversation: this I found to be true;
for during those little intermissions of talk, new ideas would
arise in their minds, which very much enlivened the discourse.
Their subjects are, generally on friendship and benevolence, on
order and economy; sometimes upon the visible operations of nature,
or ancient traditions; upon the bounds and limits of virtue; upon
the unerring rules of reason, or upon some determinations to be
taken at the next great assembly: and often upon the various
excellences of poetry. I may add, without vanity, that my presence
often gave them sufficient matter for discourse, because it
afforded my master an occasion of letting his friends into the
history of me and my country, upon which they were all pleased to
descant, in a manner not very advantageous to humankind: and for
that reason I shall not repeat what they said; only I may be
allowed to observe, that his honour, to my great admiration,
appeared to understand the nature of Yahoos much better than
myself. He went through all our vices and follies, and discovered
many, which I had never mentioned to him, by only supposing what
qualities a Yahoo of their country, with a small proportion of
reason, might be capable of exerting; and concluded, with too much
probability, "how vile, as well as miserable, such a creature must