January 13, 2013 by History in a Hurry
A corrupt, opportunistic political class is universal to the human condition, as this excerpt from Gulliver’s Travels shows. It is from James Riordan and Victor G. Ambrus’ picture-book adaption of the Jonathan Swift original.
The king of Brobdingnag, the land of giants, is taken aback by Gulliver’s account of English history:
“He was perfectly astonished with the account I gave him of our affairs during the last century; he protested it was just one heap of conspiracies, rebellions, and murders — the very worst effects that greed, cruelty, hatred, and ambition could produce. …
“[He said,] ‘My little friend, Grildrig, you have given an admirable account of your country. And you have clearly proved that ignorance, idleness, and vice are the proper qualifications for governing it. Your laws are applied by people who are interested only in breaking and avoiding them. It does not appear that a man has to have any one virtue to obtain a high post in England, much less that men become nobles through virtue, priests promoted through their learning, soldiers for their valour, judges for their honesty, Members of Parliament for love of their country.'”