Jonathan Swift Quotes

Jonathan Swift, 1667 – 1745

Born: 30 November 1667, Dublin, Ireland
Died: 19 October 1745, Dublin, Ireland

Swift was born seven months after his father died, his mother moved to England leaving him in the care of an uncle. He was sent to Kilkenny Grammar School in 1674 and to Trinity College, Dublin in 1682 where he earned his B.A. in 1686. He was studying for his M.A. when the anti-Catholic revolution of 1688 broke out, causing Swift to take a position with Sir William Temple at Moor Park, Surrey. (He did receive his M.A. in 1692.) He worked as secretary and personal assistant to Temple, and tutored the daughter of one of the servants, until Temple’s death in 1699. He did leave that position for a year, becoming an ordained priest in the Church of Ireland and serving a small rural parish, but felt isolated and returned to England. Although Temple was retired while Swift worked for him, he was still connected politically and on one occasion sent Swift to present an argument to King William III. After Temple’s death, Swift returned to Ireland to take a position that had already been given to another, he accepted the small parish of Laracor about twenty miles from Dublin which allowed him ample time for a garden and his writing. In 1702 he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Trinity, Dublin, the same year his first prose work, A Tale of a Tub, was published. He spent a great deal of time at London from about 1710 to 1714 and was among the inner circle of the Tory party, but returned to Ireland when they left power, having gained much material for his future satires. From 1713 to 1742 he was dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. His most known work, Gulliver’s Travels, was published in 1726, and A Modest Proposal followed in 1729. Like most, if not all, of his work, these were published anonymously or under an alias. He apparently began to lose his sanity around 1738, in 1741 guardians were appointed to manage his affairs and prevent him from violent acts. When he died he left twelve thousand pounds for the establishment of St Patrick’s Hospital for Imbeciles, a psychiatric hospital that exists to this day.

Jonathan Swift quotes:

A bad man becomes worse when he apes a saint.
    Jonathan Swift

A great fortune enslaves its owner.
    Jonathan Swift

A kindness spontaneously offered to him who needs it, is doubly gratifying.
    Jonathan Swift

A loss, of which we are ignorant, is no loss.
    Jonathan Swift

A man should never be ashamed to own up when he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
    Jonathan Swift

A pleasant traveling companion helps us on our journey as much as a carriage.
    Jonathan Swift

A tavern is a place where madness is sold by the bottle.
    Jonathan Swift

A wise man should have money in his head, not in his heart.
    Jonathan Swift

Although men are accused of not knowing their own weakness, yet perhaps as few know their own strength. It is in men as in soils, where sometimes there is a vein of gold, which the owner knows not of.
    Jonathan Swift

Ambition often puts men upon doing the meanest offices; so climbing is performed in the same posture with creeping.
    Jonathan Swift

And he gave it as his opinion that whoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind and do more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.
    Jonathan Swift

And surely one of the best rules in conversation is, never to say a thing which any of the company can reasonably wish had been left unsaid.
    Jonathan Swift

Argument is the worst sort of conversation.
    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

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.
    Jonathan Swift

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