PART III. A VOYAGE TO LAPUTA, BALNIBARBI, LUGGNAGG, GLUBBDUBDRIB, AND JAPAN.
3. CHAPTER III.
But there is still indeed a more weighty reason, why the kings of
this country have been always averse from executing so terrible an
action, unless upon the utmost necessity. For, if the town
intended to be destroyed should have in it any tall rocks, as it
generally falls out in the larger cities, a situation probably
chosen at first with a view to prevent such a catastrophe; or if it
abound in high spires, or pillars of stone, a sudden fall might
endanger the bottom or under surface of the island, which, although
it consist, as I have said, of one entire adamant, two hundred
yards thick, might happen to crack by too great a shock, or burst
by approaching too near the fires from the houses below, as the
backs, both of iron and stone, will often do in our chimneys. Of
all this the people are well apprised, and understand how far to
carry their obstinacy, where their liberty or property is
concerned. And the king, when he is highest provoked, and most
determined to press a city to rubbish, orders the island to descend
with great gentleness, out of a pretence of tenderness to his
people, but, indeed, for fear of breaking the adamantine bottom; in
which case, it is the opinion of all their philosophers, that the
loadstone could no longer hold it up, and the whole mass would fall
to the ground.
By a fundamental law of this realm, neither the king, nor either of
his two eldest sons, are permitted to leave the island; nor the
queen, till she is past child-bearing.