Study Guide

Gulliver's Travels Part 4, Chapter 6

By Jonathan Swift

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Part 4, Chapter 6

"A continuation of the state of England under Queen Anne. The character of a first minister of state in European courts."

  • Next up, Gulliver tries to explain the concept of greed to the Master Horse.
  • He claims that England grows enough food to support its population comfortably, but because they want luxury, they must export what they grow in exchange for things that they don't need.
  • This luxury – wine, rich food, too much sex – all leads the English to diseases, the likes of which the Houyhnhnms have never seen.
  • Another group of people have arisen to treat these diseases – to profit off them – using fake potions to make people purge their insides.
  • This group of people (doctors, of course) make so much profit on disease that they encourage people to think that they are sick even when they aren't.
  • They also use their wisdom to poison people who have become inconvenient: when husbands and wives have gotten tired of their partners or sons have gotten fed up with their fathers, doctors can take care of the problem.
  • The Master Horse wants to know what a "Minister of State" is (in American terms, something like a Cabinet Member for the President).
  • Gulliver tells the Master Horse that the First Minister of State is someone totally without any emotion besides ambition for money and power.
  • The chief qualifications for the First Minister of State are: (1) to know how to get rid of an inconvenient wife, daughter, or sister; (2) to betray the Minister who has come before you; (3) to shout endlessly against corruption at court (though, of course, Ministers always lie).
  • Chief Ministers of State dedicate themselves to bribing and intimidating others to follow their orders.
  • And Gulliver's tirade continues: he tells the Master Horse that the nobility in his country are educated to be lazy and ignorant, and that there is frequent mixing of classes that damages noble bloodlines.
  • Despite their total uselessness, they still have authority over all lower-born people in the country.

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