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Quotes by Jonathan Swift on love, hate, religion, life and other things.

75 Notable Quotes By Jonathan Swift, The Author Of Gulliver's Travels

Quick Facts

Famous As: Author and Satirist

Born On: November 30, 1667

Died On: October 19, 1745

Born In: Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Died At Age: 77

Jonathan Swift was an essayist, cleric, writer of political pamphlets for major political parties, author, poet and one of the most influential satirists of all time. Swift was born in an influential family and after acquiring his B. A. from Trinity College at Dublin University, he worked as the secretary of an English diplomat. However, it was as a writer and satirist that he became famous. Swift’s first work was the short satire ‘The Battle of the Books’ but it was published some years after it was actually written. Some of his most famous works were published in the early part of the 18th century and these include ‘A Modest Proposal’, ‘An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity’, ‘A Tale of a Tub’ and ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ among others. ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ is perhaps his most popular work. Swift was a pioneer of satire and his specific style gave rise to a particular kind of satire that came to be known as ‘Swiftian’. Needless to say, Swift was a man of rare gifts and his razor sharp humour shone through in the satirical works that he had done. Here are some of the best quotes from his life and works.

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May you live every day of your life.

Jonathan Swift

Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.

Jonathan Swift

When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." [Thoughts on Various Subjects]

Jonathan Swift

Books, the children of the brain.

Jonathan Swift

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.

Jonathan Swift

Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old.

Jonathan Swift

I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.

Jonathan Swift

It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

Jonathan Swift

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.

Jonathan Swift

He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.

Jonathan Swift

I cannot but conclude that the Bulk of your Natives, to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth.

Jonathan Swift

Fine words! I wonder where you stole them.

Jonathan Swift

Every dog must have his day.

Jonathan Swift

Proper words in proper places make the true definition of style.

Jonathan Swift

Undoubtedly, philosophers are in the right when they tell us that nothing is great or little otherwise than by comparison.

Jonathan Swift

No wise man ever wished to be younger.

Jonathan Swift

You should never be ashamed to admit you have been wrong. It only proves you are wiser today than yesterday

Jonathan Swift

The tiny Lilliputians surmise that Gulliver's watch may be his god, because it is that which, he admits, he seldom does anything without consulting.

Jonathan Swift

Happiness is the perpetual possession of being well deceived.

Jonathan Swift

There are few, very few, that will own themselves in a mistake.

Jonathan Swift

For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.

Jonathan Swift

We of this age have discovered a shorter, and more prudent method to become scholars and wits, without the fatigue of reading or of thinking.

Jonathan Swift

If a man makes me keep my distance, the comfort is, he keeps his at the same time.

Jonathan Swift

That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.

Jonathan Swift

Some men, under the notion of weeding out prejudice, eradicate virtue, honesty and religion.

Jonathan Swift

Ever eating, never cloying, All-devouring, all-destroying Never finding full repast, Till I eat the world at last.

Jonathan Swift

Difference in opinions has cost many millions of lives: for instance, whether flesh be bread, or bread be flesh; whether the juice of a certain berry be blood or wine.

Jonathan Swift

The latter part of a wise person's life is occupied with curing the follies, prejudices and false opinions they contracted earlier.

Jonathan Swift

This made me reflect, how vain an attempt it is for a man to endeavor to do himself honor among those who are out of all degree of equality or comparison with him.

Jonathan Swift

Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.

Jonathan Swift

A soldier is a "Yahoo" hired to kill in cold blood as many of his own Species, who have never offended him, as possibly he can.

Jonathan Swift

The best doctors in the world are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman.

Jonathan Swift

Good manners is the art of making people comfortable. Whoever makes the fewest people uncomfortable has the best manners.

Jonathan Swift

... a wife should be always a reasonable and agreeable companion, because she cannot always be young.

Jonathan Swift

Punning is a talent which no man affects to despise but he that is without it.

Jonathan Swift

The stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our desires, is like cutting off our feet, when we want shoes.

Jonathan Swift

Coffee makes us severe, and grave and philosophical.

Jonathan Swift

Words are the clothing of our thoughts.

Jonathan Swift

We have chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax; thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light.

Jonathan Swift

As blushing will sometimes make a whore pass for a virtuous woman, so modesty may make a fool seem a man of sense.

Jonathan Swift

Opium is not so stupefying to many persons as an afternoon sermon.

Jonathan Swift

...I hid myself between two leaves of sorrel, and there discharged the necessities of nature.

Jonathan Swift

Of so little weight are the greatest services to princes, when put into the balance with a refusal to gratify their passions.

Jonathan Swift

Gulliver describes a royal personage inspiring awe among the tiny Lilliputians because he was taller than his brethren by the breadth of a human fingernail.

Jonathan Swift

As love without esteem is capricious and volatile; esteem without love is languid and cold.

Jonathan Swift

That the universe was formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, I will no more believe than that the accidental jumbling of the alphabet would fall into a most ingenious treatise of philosophy.

Jonathan Swift

I heartily hate and detest that animal called man, although I heartily love John, Peter, Thomas, ans so forth.

Jonathan Swift

For to enter the palace of learning at the great gate requires an expense of time and forms, therefore men of much haste and little ceremony are content to get in by the back-door.

Jonathan Swift

When the world has once begun to use us ill, it afterwards continues the same treatment with less scruple or ceremony, as men do to a whore.

Jonathan Swift

So Geographers in Afric-maps With Savage-Pictures fill their Gaps; And o'er uninhabitable Downs Place Elephants for want of Towns

Jonathan Swift

As learnd commentators view In Homer more than Homer knew.

Jonathan Swift

I'm as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth.

Jonathan Swift

Poor Nations are hungry, and rich Nations are proud, and Pride and Hunger will ever be at Variance.

Jonathan Swift

Based on Gulliver's descriptions of their behaviour, the King describes Europeans as "the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.

Jonathan Swift

Undoubtedly philosophers are in the right, when they tell us that nothing is great or little otherwise than by comparison.

Jonathan Swift

There's none so blind as they that won't see.

Jonathan Swift

Truth shines the brighter clad in verse.

Jonathan Swift

Books, like men their authors, have no more than one way of coming into the world, but there are ten thousand to go out of it, and return no more.

Jonathan Swift

For they have no conception 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.

Jonathan Swift

But he may please to consider, that the caprices of womankind are not limited by any climate or nation; and that they are much more uniform than can be easily imagined.

Jonathan Swift

May you live all the days of your life.

Jonathan Swift

How vain an attempt it is for a man to endeavour to do himself honour among those who are out of all degree of equality or comparison with him.

Jonathan Swift

Readers may be divided into three classes - the superficial, the ignorant, and the learned, and I have with much felicity fitted my pen to the genius and advantage of each.

Jonathan Swift

Many hundred large volumes have been published upon this controversy: but the books of the Big-endians have been long forbidden, and the whole party rendered incapable by law of holding employments.

Jonathan Swift

So that, upon the whole, there must be some kind of subjection due from every man to every man, which cannot be made void by any power, pre-eminence, or authority whatsoever.

Jonathan Swift

Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own.

Jonathan Swift

Besides, I now considered myself as bound by the laws of hospitality, to a people who had treated me with so much expense and magnificence.

Jonathan Swift

Their education is of little consequence to the public; but the old and diseased among them are supported by hospitals: for begging is a trade unknown in this Empire

Jonathan Swift

Let that be as it will, thus much is certain, that, however spiritual intrigues begin, they generally conclude like all others; they may branch upward toward heaven, but the root is in the earth.

Jonathan Swift

Caesar freely confessed to me, that the greatest actions of his own life were not equal, by many degrees, to the glory of taking it away.

Jonathan Swift

Leagues, till we were able to work no longer, being already spent with labour while we were in the ship.

Jonathan Swift

It is the folly of too many to mistake the echo of a London coffee-house for the voice of the kingdom.

Jonathan Swift

A wise man is never less alone than when he is alone.

Jonathan Swift

Swift has sailed into his rest; Savage indignation there Cannot lacerate his Breast. Imitate him if you dare, World-Besotted Traveler; he Served human liberty.

Jonathan Swift