Swift scholars are agog at the discovery of a manuscript apparently intended for Part Three of Gulliver’s Travels into Remote Nations, where Gulliver visits the Academy of Lagado. In the published version, the Academy houses an assortment of Utopians and Professors, including the Projectors (scientists) one of whom is conducting experiments to extract Sun-Beams from Cucumbers, to be stored in glass Vials, and let out to warm the air during raw inclement summers.
In the recently discovered manuscript, Gulliver also visits a Council of Negotiators at the Academy; the function of which is to promulgate Grand Edicts for the Harmonisation of the Universe, and the Protection of Mankind and all Creatures. He is accompanied by a Most High Official, a HORSE in the manner of the Emperor Caligula; and not a Houhynhym (See Part Four).
Gulliver is shown one such Edict, for the Protection of Mankind from the effects of Rain and Raining. To this end, all Raining is prohibited by the Edict. Raining is permitted in the following protected circumstances only, to wit, when there are Moisture Bearing Clouds in the sky, and when the effect of other Atmospheric and Natural Forces is such that Droplets form and fall to Earth.
The Negotiators had devoted much attention in prolonged convocations to the location and computation of Clouds; to distinctions between varieties of Rain, and whether some varieties possessed more Raininess than others; to the nature of Permitted Drops, by size, wetness, and transparency; and whether Drops, though often Identical, were Individual by reason of Separateness.
Gulliver was much surprised on stormy days to see the whole population of Lagado stand in PUBLIC with open umbrellas upturned, to collect permitted Drops, rather than use them to Protect their own Persons, such was the effect of the Edict in stretching and disturbing the minds of those who attempted to understand it; when it would have been better had they remained PRIVATE and IN-DOORS.
This, he reflected gloomily, was the effect of Edicts intended to improve Mankind, which resulted in depriving Men of their COMMON-SENSE, much to the advantage of GOVERNMENTS.
Gulliver then relates how the Negotiators were overcome by Confusion and Division when asked to Rule on the Nature of Water Evaporating Skywards. Some thought this was Preliminary Raining; others believed it to be Reverse Raining, while a most Extreme Faction claimed it was Shared Precipitation.
The Council being uncertain as to the TRUE OBJECT of the EDICT, a Standing Inquiry was created to investigate and establish the Origins, Nature and Circulations of Rain, with a remit to report within Fifty Five Years. In the meantime, an Extraordinary Exemption was provided in the Edict, Permitting Prohibited Rain other than that which falls from the Sky.
Well, you can imagine how I felt on reading the Manuscript. The only thing I can think to do now is to beat a path to Swift’s memorial in his Cathedral Church, Dublin, and, showing my respect in the current fashion, place close by a Large Cucumber wrapped in a damp copy of Directive 95/46/EC.