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Swift's Influence on Godwin's Doctrine of Anarchism Author(s): James Preu Source: Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol.

15, No. 3 (Jun., 1954), pp. 371-383 Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2707760 . Accessed: 08/03/2011 01:45
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SWIFT'S INFLUENCE ON GODWIN'S DOCTRINE OF ANARCHISM


BY JAMES PREU

No stranger case of the attraction of opposites can be found in the entire history of ideas than the curious influence of Jonathan Swift upon William Godwin. When a writer exerts a strong influence upon a man whose whole pattern of thought is diametrically opposed to his own, one of the most interesting aspects of the influence is the remarkable "sea change" which the influencing ideas may undergo in the mind of him who takes them over. The influence which Jonathan Swift exerted upon William Godwin affords an excellent illustration of how such a change may operate. Obviously, there was nothing of the anarchist in Swift, yet Godwin, who was the first of the anarchists,l seized upon certain of Swift's ideas, distorted them strangely, and incorporated them in his manifesto of anarchism, Political Justice. Never were two men more different than Jonathan Swift, D.D., High Churchman and Tory, and William Godwin, atheist and anarchist. Swift was a pessimist whose thinking was dominated by a negative philosophy of history, a belief that history is not a record of man's progressive improvement but rather of his constant and frequently unsuccessful struggles to preserve the values which had been fixed forever by antiquity.2 Godwin, on the other hand, possessed a calm confidence in man's ability to make infinite progress toward perfection. He firmly believed that man's reason would free him of all weakness and vice and that men like gods would one day walk the earth. Godwin has been criticized for having too great a confidence in the power of human reason and " an inadequate appreciation of the brute forces in human nature that oppose reason," 3 but Swift has been
1
"

It was W. Godwin ... who was first to formulate the political and economical

conceptionsof anarchism" (Petr AleksyeevichKropotkin, "Anarchism,"EncyclopaediaBritannica [1949], I, 874). 2 Basil Willey, The Eighteenth CenturyBackground (New York, 1941), 103. For expressionsof Swift's negative philosophyof history see Contestsand Dissensions,The Prose Worksof JonathanSwift, D.D., ed. TempleScott, 12 vols. (London,1898) (this edition hereafterreferredto as Works), I, 252; A Proposalfor the Advancement of Religionand the Reformationof Morals, Works,III, 46-47; Gulliver'sTravels (hereafterreferredto as G. T. without citation of volume number), Works,VIII, 135-136, 205, 211. ProfessorRicardo Quintana has pointed out that Swift's negative philosophy of history was expressedin linthe English Improving,and Ascertaining guistic terms in A Proposalfor Correcting, Tongue (The Mind and Art of Jonathan Swift [London, 1936], 56). 3 David Fleisher,WilliamGodwin,a Study in Liberalism(London,1951), 146. 371

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accused of having a "horrible, shameful, unmanful, blasphemous "4 opinion of human nature. Such criticisms of Swift are based largely on the fourth book of Gulliver's Travels, entitled "A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms," in which Swift seems, on the surface at least, to have portrayed mankind as loathsome and groveling Yahoos, utterly incapable of reason, degenerate brutes who live in kennels and feed on filth. "A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms " has been called "a curse hurled at humanity," 5 but strangely enough, it was " A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms " which inspired Godwin's vision of a gloriously bright and brave new world. There is abundant evidence that Swift played a major role in the genesis of the anarchistic doctrine which Godwin proclaimed in Political Justice. In the preface to the first edition (1793), Godwin undertook " to describe the progress by which the author's mind was led to its present sentiments" and named Swift as one of the four men who had contributed to the formation of his ideas.6 There are ten references to Swift in Political Justice, and in Godwin's Enquirer (1797), there are twelve references to Swift. Seven of the references to Swift in Political Justice come at key points in Godwin's argument and prove that Swift influenced some of the most vital phases of Godwin's thinking. Entries in Godwin's diary show that he was reading Gulliver's Travels while he was writing Political Justice,7 and of all Swift's writings, it was Gulliver which had the most decisive influence upon Godwin's ideas. We know, furthermore, that Godwin admired Swift profoundly and believed him to be " the most powerful mind of the time in which he lived." 8 He had an extraordinarily high regard for Swift as a political theorist, and he was particularly impressed by the political wisdom of Gulliver's Travels.9 He saw a representation of men "in their highest improvement" 10in Swift's description of the Houyhn4William Makepeace Thackeray, The English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century,ed. Derek Stanford (London,1949), 35. 5 WilliamDuncan Taylor, JonathanSwift, a CriticalStudy (London,1933), 228. For recent, interesting studies which challenge the misanthropicinterpretationof "A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms," see Arthur E. Case, Four Essays on " Gulliver's Travels" (Princeton,1945), 97-126; Edward Stone, "Swift and the Horses: Misanthropyor Comedy?" MLQ,X (Sept., 1949), 367-376. 6 WilliamGodwin,An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice,ed. F. E. L. Priestley, 3 vols. (Toronto, 1946) (hereafterreferredto as P. J.), I, ix. 7 The entriesare extremelylaconic and merely list the numberof pages in Gulliver which Godwinhad read on each day, e.g., "May 9, 1792 Gulliver, 15 pages." This informationcomesfrom the microfilm of Godwin'sdiary in the library of Duke University, and it is quoted by permissionof Lord Abinger,owner of the original manuscript. 8 WilliamGodwin,The Enquirer;Reflectionson Education,Manners,and Literature (Philadelphia,1797), 359. 9P. J., II, 209. 0Enquirer,107. 11Ibid.

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hnms, the intelligent horses who used the brutish Yahoos as domestic animals, and he affirmed that "no book breathes more strongly a generous indignation against vice, and an ardent love of everything that is excellent and honourable to the human heart." 11 Oddly enough, Godwin would have admired Swift less had he understood him better, for it is evident that his admiration for Swift was based on a misunderstanding of Swift's purpose. For this paradoxical situation, two factors were mainly responsible. In the first place, Godwin was literalminded to an extraordinary degree and was almost completely lacking in a sense of humor.l2 This literalmindedness led him to take at face value what Swift had written with the overemphasis characteristic of satire. An amusing example of Godwin's literalmindedness was his great concern over the King of Brobdingnag's description of mankind as " the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth." 13 Godwin was deeply distressed by the king's speech, and in his Thoughts on Man, he assured his readers with the utmost seriousness, that Swift's words were not really an accurate description of the human race.l4 Another important factor in Godwin's tendency to mistake Swift's meaning is the fact that Godwin's interpretation of Swift was colored by his own preconceptions. In his essay " Of Choice in Reading," Godwin brought out the point that " the impression we derive from a book, depends much less upon its real contents, than upon the temper of mind and preparation with which we read it." 15 Obviously Godwin's remarks apply to his own reading of Gulliver, for he interpreted "A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms" as a manifesto of anarchism and Swift's description of Houyhnhnm society as a prophecy of the utopia which mankind would some day attain. If Swift could have known of Godwin's interpretation, he would probably have regarded it as a signal example of the Yahoo tendency to perversity. Before forming an estimate of the nature and extent of Swift's contribution to Godwin's system of anarchism it will be necessary to note briefly the main outline of Godwin's argument. Godwin based his reasoning upon two principal assumptions: first, that reason and truth will prevail if they are adequately communicated,6 and secondly, that reason is the best guide to virtuous conduct.l7 These assumptions are, of course, to be found in Gulliver. The Houyhnhnms believed that reason's rules are "unerring 18 and "will in time alSo far as the present writer has been able to ascertain,Godwinmade but one in joke his life. See Ford Keeler Brown, The Life of William Godwin (London, 1926), 8. 13G. T., 136. 14Thoughtson Man, His Nature, Productions,and Discoveries (London,1831), 117. 15 Enquirer,108-109. 16 P. J., I, 86. 17 p. J., I, 70, 170, 309, 316. 18 G. T.,
12

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ways prevail against brutal strength." 19 Gulliver himself asserted


that " truth always forceth its way into rational minds .. ."
20

and

that reason " strikes you with immediate conviction; as it needs must do where it is not mingled, obscured, or discoloured by passion and interest." 21 The Houyhnhnms "thought nature and reason were sufficient guides for a reasonable animal, as we pretended to be, in showing us what we ought to do, and what to avoid." 22 Being perfectly reasonable, the Houyhnhnms are endowed " with a general disposition to all virtues, and have no conceptions or ideas of what is evil in a rational creature, so their grand maxim is, to cultivate reason, and to be wholly governed by it." 23 Basing his reasoning upon these assumptions, Godwin argued that reason and truth would make gradual progress in the minds of men. As men become more reasonable and more enlightened, they will become more virtuous, and the more reasonable and virtuous they become, the less need they will have for government. Government, therefore, can be gradually simplified until it consists of neighborhood juries to deal with local matters and a representative, national assembly to look after affairs of general interest. These national assemblies will convene only in extreme emergencies " or else sit, periodically, 24 The juries and assembly will one day for example in a year. .. at first be obliged to enforce their edicts. But when men have reached an advanced stage of development, the juries and assembly can abandon coercion and simply invite cooperation, relying solely upon reason to convince men of the justice of the measures proposed. When men have outgrown government, law, and coercion, there will exist a society of individuals as benevolent and rational as the Houyhnhnms. These rational beings, though free from external coercion, will not be free to act irresponsibly since each man will govern himself in strict accordance with "those laws of reason that are equally obligatory wherever man is to be found." 25 Although each man will be guided by his individual reason, there will be no conflict because the rules of reason are universal and unvarying. Therefore, as the reason of each individual becomes clearer and stronger, men will draw closer and closer to uniformity of judgment and conduct.26
289.
21

19 G. T., 250.

20

G. T., 151.

G. T., 278. Like Gulliver,Godwinwas fully awarethat men's reasonwas frequentlydominatedby their interestsand passions. See P. J., I, 154, 322. 22 G. T.,
257.
24 25 p. J., II, 332. 26 p. J., II, 501. Godwin'sanarchismis somethingquite differentfrom anarchy,a state of disorderin which everyoneis free as he chooses. to act as irresponsibly 23 G. T., 278. P. J., II, 207.

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When Godwin reached the point in his argument where he predicted that society could eventually function without coercion, he declared, " Such is the idea of the author of Gulliver's Travels (Part IV.), a man who appears to have had a more profound insight into the true principles of political justice, than any preceding or contemporary author. It was unfortunate, that a work of such inestimable wisdom failed, at the period of its publication, from the mere playfulness of its form, in communicating adequate instruction to mankind. Posterity only will be able to estimate it as it deserves." 27 Obviously Godwin was thinking of the rational and virtuous Houyhnhnms who thought that European "institutions of government and law were plainly owing to our gross defects in reason, and by consequence, in virtue; because reason alone is sufficient to govern a rational creature. . . 28 It is likewise evident that Godwin was thinking of the Houyhnhnms when he described his representative general assembly which would meet one day a year and might persuade but not coerce. The Houyhnhnms' representative assembly met " five or six days " every fourth year,29and its decrees were " expressed by the word hnhloayn, which signifies an exhortation, as near as I can render it; for they have no conception of how a rational creature can be compelled, but only advised, or exhorted; because no person can disobey reason, without giving up his claim to be a rational
creature." 30

This reference to Swift makes it obvious that "A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms " was the immediate source of Godwin's doctrine of anarchism; that is, it was the particular work which Godwin had in mind when he formulated the doctrine. Furthermore, although the concept of anarchism is implied in various undeveloped hints in writers from Plato to Paine,31 it was only in Swift that Godwin could have found so explicit and detailed a presentation of the anarchistic ideal.32
28 G. T., 270. 30 G. T., 291. 29 G. T., 281. 31Plato, The Republic, Dialogues of Plato, trans. B. Jowett, 3rd ed., 5 vols. (London, 1924), III, 304; Thomas Paine, Common Sense, The Life and Works of Thomas Paine, ed. W. M. Van de Weyde, 10 vols. (New Rochelle, New York, 1925), II, 97. 32 Godwin's anarchistic utopia resembles Swift's society of Houyhnhnms much more than it does Rousseau's state of nature. Godwin admired Emile, but declared that in Rousseau's political writings " the superiority of his genius seems to desert him." One of Godwin's criticisms of Rousseau was that he " substituted, as the topic of his eulogium, the period that preceded government and laws, instead of the period that may possibly follow upon their abolition " (P. J., II, 129-130).

27 P. J., II, 209.

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It is interesting to note the manner in which Swift's meaning was diffracted by the rose-tinted lenses of Godwin's perfectibilitarian spectacles. Swift evidently intended the Houyhnhnms to represent the state of society which might exist if only the animal rationis capax could become an animal rationale,33 but it is clear that Swift had no hope that man would ever attain this ideal state.34 In fact, as Professor Willey has suggested, Swift's despair may explain why he made the Houyhnhnms, not men, but horses.35 Godwin, on the other hand, saw in the Houyhnhnms the state of society which would exist when the animal rationis capax became an animal rationale. Curiously enough, Godwin seems to have been completely unaware of this difference between his and Swift's thinking.3 The ideal society which Godwin envisioned for the future corresponds almost exactly to Swift's delineation of Houyhnhnm society.37 Furthermore, in describing his utopia, Godwin made two more references to the Houyhnhnms. The three references to the Houyhnhnms, together with the remarkable similarity of the two descriptions, make it altogether probable that " A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms " was not only the immediate source of Godwin's concept of anarchism but also the direct inspiration for his whole vision of the future of society. Godwin, of course, was an indefatigable conversationalist and an omnivorous reader, and he probably took hints and suggestions from
In a letter to Pope, September29, 1725, Swift wrote, " I have got materials towarda treatise,provingthe falsity of that definitionanimalrationale,and to prove it wouldbe only rationiscapax" (The Correspondence of JonathanSwift, D.D., ed. F. ElringtonBall, 6 vols. [London,1914], III, 277). 34Upon this point, the authoritieson Swift are in completeagreement. It by no means follows, however, that Swift regarded mankind as hopelessly degenerate Yahoosand that he had no belief whateverin the possibilityof any humanimprovement. See Case,Four Essays on " Gulliver'sTravels,"102-126. To Swift, of course, improvementwould not mean progresstoward utopia, but a return to previously fixed standards. 35The Eighteenth CenturyBackground,239. 86 In the Enquirer, published four years later than Political Justice, Godwin revealedthat he was aware of interpretationsof Gulliver which differedfrom his own, but he never changedhis opinionof the true interpretation(Enquirer,106-107). 37The two societies differonly in minor details. Godwinpredictedlabor-saving were immortal, machineryand the prolongationof human life. Swift's Struldbrugs life expectancyof seventy-fiveyears was far beyondthe averand the Houyhnhnms' age of the eighteenthcentury,but it was BenjaminFranklinwho suggestedboth the labor-savingdevices and the longevity to Godwin (P. J., II, 503, 519). Godwin, but his " comunlike Swift, foresawthe abolitionof marriage" as now understood," " resemblethe Houyhnhnmmarriagesrather closely. There panionate marriages were two classesof Houyhnhnms, and, of course,Godwindid not take over this idea. he did "the that However, say inequality of mind would, in a certain degree, be permanent..." (P. J., II, 461-462).
33

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many other sources. Nevertheless, it seems evident that the Houyhnhnms gave Godwin the ground plan, the blueprint as it were, of his New Jerusalem. Godwin's utopians, like Swift's Houyhnhnms, would have no government, no laws, no coercion, no wars, no vices, and no diseases.38 Like the Houyhnhnms, they would have no religion, no commerce, no regimentation.39 The Houyhnhnms' "grand maxim is, to cultivate reason, and to be wholly governed by it." 40 Godwin's men of the future will strive " never to act independently of the principles of reason." 41 The Houyhnhnms delighted in the pleasures of intellectual conversation.42 In the future, said Godwin, man will have leisure "to let loose his faculties in the search of intellectual improvement." 43 The Houyhnhnms were " endowed by nature with a general dis44 Godwin predicted that the day would come position to all virtues." when vice would "be universally deserted, and virtue every where 45 " Friendship and benevolence are the two principal virpracticed." tues among the Houyhnhnms; and these not confined to particular objects, but universal to the whole race." 46 Godwin believed that in the future " all would have leisure to cultivate the kindly and philanthropical affections . . . each would lose his individual existence, in the thought of the general good." 47 The benevolence of the Houyhnhnms, like that of Godwin's men of the future, was completely impersonal. The Houyhnhnms had no particular fondness for their own colts and foals, and their care "in educating them proceeds entirely from the dictates of reason. And I observed my master to show the same affection to his neighbour's issue that he had for his own." 48 In Godwin's future society, whoever was most capable would see to the support and education of the children.49 "It is of no consequence that I am the parent of a child, when it has once been ascertained that the child will live with greater benefit under the superintendence of a stranger." 50 The Houyhnhnms and Godwin's men of tomorrow tended to be quite unemotional; 51 therefore, overpopulation was no very serious
38 G. T., 252, 264, 269, 273, 284, 286, 288, 291; P. J., I. 331, II, 209-212, 462-466, 526-528. 39 Swift and Godwin did not specifically exclude religion, bue neither of them 40 G. T., 278. made any mention of it. 44 G. 43 P. J., II, 461. 41 P. J., II, 497. 42 G. T., 288-289. T., 278. 45 P. J., I, 331. 46 G. T., 279. 47 P. J., II, 460-461, 464. 48 G. T., 279. 49 P. J., II, 510-511. 50 P. J., I, 217. 51 G. T., 250; P. J., II, 508, 527-528.

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problem. As soon as " the matron Houyhnhnms have produced one of each sex, they no longer accompany with their consorts. .... This caution is necessary to prevent the country from being overburthened with numbers."52 In Godwin's brave new world, the population would be kept down by " a systematical abstinence." 53 The Houyhnhnms and Godwin's utopians practiced "universal sincerity." From the Houyhnhnms, Gulliver learned " an utter detestation of all falsehood or disguise; and truth apeared so amiable to me, that I determined upon sacrificing every thing to it." 54 The Houyhnhnms could not understand why anyone should wish to lie, since the purpose of language was to communicate truth.55 When they talked with Gulliver, they were obliged to use the expression, " the thing which was not. (For they have no word in their language to express lying or falsehood.) " 56 In discussing the "unspeakable advantages" of sincerity, Godwin wrote, "To assert . . . the thing that is not, is an action from which the human mind unconquerably revolts." 57 Since the English language, unlike that of the Houyhnhnms, has a verb to lie and an abundant supply of synonyms, Godwin's use of the Houyhnhnms' awkward circumlocution makes it evident that he was thinking of the Houyhnhnms when he wrote of the glorious day "when each man shall speak truth with his neighbour." 58 Even the economy of Godwin's utopia was organized upon Houyhnhnm principles. The Houyhnhnms believed that "all animals
had a title to their share in the productions of the earth. ..
." 59

They did not believe in the accumulation of wealth.60 They lived simply, enjoyed a frugal diet, and indulged in a moderate amount of wholesome labor and exercise.61 Godwin envisioned the day when men would accept the principle that "the good things of the world are a common stock, upon which one man has as valid a title as another to draw for what he wants." 62 He believed that men would cease to accumulate wealth,63 and that they " will be contented . .. with the means of healthful existence, and of unexpensive pleasure." 64 Like the Houyhnhnms, "Every man would have a frugal, yet wholesome diet; every man would go forth to that moderate exercise of his corporal functions, that would give hilarity to the spirits .. ." 65
G. T., 279; " if a Houyhnhnm hath two males, he changeth one of them with another that hath two females ..." (G. T., 281). 53 P. J., II, 518. 54 G. T., 269. 55 G. T., 248. 56 G. T., 243. 57 P. J., I, 352. The italics are the present writer's. 58 P. J., I, 341. 59 G. T., 262. 60 G. T., 262-263, 270-272. 61 G. T., 280-281,285. 62 P. J., II, 423. 64 P. J., II, 478. 65 p. J., II, 460. 63 P. J., II, 424-426, 442.
52

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In a footnote to his argument against accumulation, Godwin stated, " Specimens of very powerful reasoning on the same side, may be found in Gulliver's Travels, particularly Part IV, Chapter VI." In the same note, he also named Plato, More, Mably, Ogilvie, and Wallace as authorities by whom " the system of accumulated property is openly attacked." To this list of theorists, Godwin added "the great practical authorities," Crete, Sparta, Peru, and Paraguay.66 All Godwin's authorities may have furnished him with arguments against accumulation, but only Swift could have given him the blueprint of his utopia, for with the exception of Swift, all of these authorities placed their reliance on government, law, and coercion. Plato and More and the states of Crete, Sparta, Peru, and Paraguay found the solution to the problem of property in a highly regimented, communistic state, and their systems entailed community of property, state-distributed rations, common labor, dining halls, dormitories, and storehouses. To all these elements of regimentation, Godwin vehemently objected. He affirmed that a system of equality "requires no restrictions or superintendence. There is no need of common labour, meals, or magazines." 67 Godwin would have no community of property and insisted that there should be no more organized community activity than was absolutely essential.68 Ogilvie's system was purely agrarian and consisted of a complicated arrangement of laws, regulations, provisos, and penalties which would permit every citizen when he reached the age of twenty-one to rent a farm of forty acres.69 In short, Ogilvie placed his faith in the sort of agrarian laws which Godwin described as "remedies more pernicious than the disease they are intended to cure." 70 Wallace and Mably advocated a regimented communistic state as the ideal solution to the problem of property, but they abandoned their ideal in despair-Wallace, because he foresaw that it would result in overpopulation,71 and Mably,
66 P. J., II, 459. 67 p. J., II, 497. 68 P. J., II, 501. Those who write on Godwin frequently,for lack of a better name, call his system communism or anarchistic communism,but Godwin'ssystem was not communisticin any generallyaccepted meaning of the word. Godwin argued that each man has a right-by which he meant a just claim or passive right which could not be enforced-to anything he needed. On the other hand, even in Godwin'sutopia, every article of property wouldhave an owneror trustee who would have an equal " right" to disposeof his property accordingto the dictates of his private judgment,althoughhe would be morallyobligatedto bestow the articleupon him who neededit most (P. J., I, 133137, 158-168; II, 420-453). 69 William Ogilvie, An Essay on the Right of Property in Land, reprinted as Birthrightin Land,ed. D. C. MacDonald(London,1891), 92-120. 70P. J., II, 438. 71 Robert Wallace,VariousProspectsof Mankind,Nature, and Providence(London, 1761), 107-125.

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because he thought that the Europeans had been so corrupted by the established system of property that they would never accept communism.7 Having given up the idea of communism in Europe, Mably devoted the last three books of De la Legislation to a discussion of the various laws and penalties by which the spirit of avarice and ambition might be curbed. Since Godwin named Swift as one of those who had attacked " the system of accumulated property," it will be interesting to investigate the extent to which Swift's " specimens of very powerful reasoning " may have persuaded Godwin that there must be no accumulation of wealth in his utopian society. While making this investigation, we must, of course, bear in mind that most of Godwin's arguments against accumulation were fairly commonplace and that Swift's influence was undoubtedly supplemented and reinforced by that of Godwin's other authorities. One of Godwin's main arguments against accumulation was that nature is easily satisfied. He declared that luxuries are the products of artificial desires, that they " are by no means essential to healthful and vigorous existence, and cannot be purchased but with considerable labour and industry." 73 This argument may have been suggested by the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver's Houyhnhnm master was amazed by Gulliver's account of how the Europeans destroyed their constitutions and befuddled their minds with costly food and strong drink.74 He remarked to Gulliver that the Europeans had multiplied their original wants and then spent their lives endeavoring to satisfy their artificial desires.75 Gulliver profited by the Houyhnhnms' example and soon learned "how easily nature is satisfied." 76 He made his own clothes and furniture, ate simple, natural foods, and, as a result, " enjoyed perfect health of body, and tranquillity of mind." 77 In speaking of the artificiality of men's desires, Godwin asserted that the greater part of a man's energies is exerted " that he may wear a better coat, that he may clothe his wife with gay attire, that he may have not merely a shelter, but a handsome habitation .. ." 78 This pas72 " C'est sur les bords de l'Oyo ou du Mississippique Platon pourraitetablir sa " (GabrielBonnet de Mably, De la Legislation,ou Principes des Loix, Republique 2 vols. in one [Amsterdam,1776], I, 115).
73

ed. Henry Morley I, 12-21, 49 and Thomas More, Utopia, Ideal Commonwealths, (London,1885), 99-101, 109-114, 119-120.
74

P. J., II, 424. Similar arguments may be found in Mably, De la Legislation,

nastinessand greedinessof that sordidbrute" (G. T., 273).

75 G. T., 270. G. T., 263-264. 76 G. T., 240. 77 G. T., 287. The Yahoos sufferedfrom a variety of diseases caused " by the

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sage may have been inspired by Gulliver who informed the Houyhnhnms that " when I am at home and dressed as I ought to be, I carry on my body the workmanship of an hundred tradesmen; the building and furniture of my house employ as many more, and five times the number to adorn my wife." 79 Another of Godwin's arguments against accumulation was that the superfluities of the rich deprive the poor of the necessities of life. The rich, dissipated and indolent, revel in luxuries produced by the racking toil of underprivileged laborers who are forced to live in the utmost squalor and penury.80 This argument may have been suggested by several passages in Swift, for example, the passage in which Gulliver told the Houyhnhnms that "the bulk of our people were forced to live miserably, by labouring every day for small wages to make a few live plentifully." 81 Godwin stressed the point that the accumulation of luxury was one of the principal causes of crime and the general corruption of society.82 This fact had not escaped Gulliver who told his Houyhnhnm master that " in order to feed the luxury and intemperance of the males, and the vanity of the females, we sent away the greatest part of our necessary things to other countries, from whence in return we brought the materials of diseases, folly, and vice, to spend among ourselves. Hence it follows of necessity, that vast numbers of our people are compelled to seek their livelihood by begging, robbing, stealing, cheating, pimping, forswearing, flattering, suborning, forging . . . and the like occupations: every one of which terms, I was at much pains to make him understand." 83 Godwin believed that one of the worst evils of the system of accumulated property was that it fostered a universal passion for the acquisition of wealth.84 This unnatural passion for accumulation was sharply satirized by Swift. The Yahoos were violently fond of certain shiny stones, which they laboriously dug out of the ground and
J., II, 426. 79 G. T., 264. 80 p. J., II, 424-426, 435, 459-461, 482-483. G. T., 262. Swift expressed this idea frequently. See G. T., 263-264; Thoughts on Various Occasions, Works, I, 283; A Sermon on the Causes of the Wretched Condition of Ireland, Works, IV, 213. Similar arguments may be found in Ogilvie, Right of Property in Land, 26-42; Mably, De la Legislation, I, 43-44; More, Utopia, 85, 163-165; Wallace, Various Prospects, 9-10, 51. 82 P. J., II, 454-455, 462-464. 83 G. T., 263. See also G. T., 211. Similar arguments may be found in Mably, De la Legislation, I, 12, 53-54, 101-112; More, Utopia, 61-66, 164-165; Wallace, Various Prospects, 100. 84 P. J., II, 456-457. Mably and More also mention this point (De la Legislation, I, 40, 79; Utopia, 162).
81

78 P.

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hoarded in their kennels. Gulliver's master said that " he could never discover the reason for this unnatural appetite, or how those stones could be of any use to a Yahoo; but now he believed it might proceed from the same principle of avarice which I had ascribed to
mankind....
" 85

The correspondence between Godwin's world of the future and Swift's society of Houyhnhnms is so close as almost to rule out the possibility of coincidence. We have seen that "A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms" was the immediate source of Godwin's concept of anarchism, and we know that Godwin had the Houyhnhnms in mind when he predicted the practice of universal sincerity. We know, furthermore, that the Houyhnhnms helped to convince Godwin that there would be no accumulation of property in an ideal society. Godwin's references to the Houyhnhnms plus the remarkable similarity of the two works make it highly probable that "A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms " was not only the immediate source of Godwin's concept of anarchy but also the blueprint for his brave new world. It is strange that Godwin's evident indebtedness should have gone almost unnoticed,86 but as far as the present writer has been able to ascertain, the anonymous author of a review of the first edition of Political Justice was the only critic who approached a full realization of the importance of "A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms " to Godwin's system. This worthy gentleman thought that Political Justice was too long and its price too high. He complained that "one pound sixteen is too serious a sum for any man to give, merely to see . . . Swift's exaggerated descriptions of the depravity of man, advanced into a grave system, gravely intended at least, for the conduct of the world." 87 Swift's influence upon William Godwin has a twofold significance. For one thing, it affords a striking illustration of the strange manner in which ideas may be diffracted in transmission. More important perhaps is the fact that, through his influence upon Political Justice,
85 G. T., 272.
86

Leslie Stephendid not suggestinfluence,but he noted that " The Houyhnhnms

It is in this doctrine . . . that Swift falls in ... represent Godwin's Utopia .... with Godwin and the revolutionists ..." (Swift [London, 1903], 182). Henry

Brailsfordmade only a passing referenceto the fact that Godwin'svirtuous men resembledthe Houyhnhnms(Shelley, Godwin,and Their Circle [New York, 1913], 131); and ProfessorPriestley said merely that Godwin'sreferenceto Swift "indicates that he found in Gulliver'sTravelsstrong corroboration of his view of an ultimate rationaland informalsociety" (" Introduction," P. J., III, 46). 87 The British Critic, I (July, 1793), 309.

SWIFT S INFLUENCE

ON GODWIN

383

Swift has exerted an influence far wider than has hitherto been suspected. Godwin's influence upon the English romantic poets has been the subject of much scholarly attention. Estimates of Godwin's influence upon Wordsworth have varied widely, but it is generally agreed that Godwin exerted an important influence upon Shelley and upon the associates of Pantisocracy. Dr. Menger has pointed out that Political Justice " exerted a very marked influence on Hall, Owen, and Thompson, and through them on the development of Socialism," 88 and Dr. Earle has shown that Political Justice had also an important influence in America.89 There seems to be no external evidence that Political Justice had a direct influence upon the French anarchist, Proudhon, or upon his disciple, Bakunin, but Godwin's ideas probably reached Proudhon indirectly, possibly through Robert Owen. There is no doubt, however, of Godwin's direct influence upon the anarchists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Grossman, Kropotkin, and other latter day anarchists read Political Justice with enthusiasm, praised it highly, and hailed Godwin as the founder of the anarchist movement. But strange though it may be, it yet seems evident that the founder of anarchism drew much of his inspiration from the fourth book of Gulliver's Travels. Florida State University.
88Anton Menger, The Right to the Whole Produce of Labour, trans. M. E. Tanner, intro. H. S. Foxwell (London, 1899), 40. 89 Osborne Earle, The Reputation and Influence of William Godwin in America, Harvard University Summaries of Ph.D. Theses, 1938 (Cambridge, Mass., 1940), 289-294. Dr. Earle's dissertation has not been published. 90Rudolph Grossman, William Godwin, der Theoretiker des Kommunistischen Anarchismus (Leipzig, 1907); Petr Aleksyeevich Kropotkin, " Anarchism," Encyclopaedia Britannica (1949), I, 873-878.