Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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

Famous As: Satirist & Author of 'Gulliver's Travels',' A Tale of a Tub' and 'A Modest Proposal'
Born On: November 30, 1667
Died On: October 19, 1745
Born In: Dublin, 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.

May you live every day of your life.

Jonathan Swift
Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fine words! I wonder where you stole them.

Jonathan Swift
Every dog must have his day.

Every dog must have his day.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

Jonathan Swift
Happiness is the perpetual possession of being well deceived.

Happiness is the perpetual possession of being well deceived.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Jonathan Swift
A soldier is a

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

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

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

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

Jonathan Swift
Words are the clothing of our thoughts.

Words are the clothing of our thoughts.

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

... 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.

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

Jonathan Swift
Coffee makes us severe, and grave and philosophical.

Coffee makes us severe, and grave and philosophical.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
As learnd commentators view
In Homer more than Homer knew.

As learnd commentators view In Homer more than Homer knew.

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

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

Jonathan Swift
Based on Gulliver's descriptions of their behaviour, the King describes Europeans as

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

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

Jonathan Swift
Truth shines the brighter clad in verse.

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.

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.

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
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.

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.

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
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.

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

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

Jonathan Swift
May you live all the days of your life.

May you live all the days of your life.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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