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Jonathan Swift Quotes - Quotations Book

Quotes by Jonathan Swift

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Jonathan Swift (November 30, 1667 October 19, 1745) was an Anglo-Irish writer who is famous for works like Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, although he is also well known for his poetry and essays. He also used the name Isaac Bickerstaff among other pseudonyms. more

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Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.

When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so universal as death, should ever have been designed by providence as an evil to mankind.
As love without esteem is capricious and volatile; esteem without love is languid and cold.
The proper words in the proper places are the true definition of style.
I wonder what fool it was that first invented kissing.
Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own; which is the chief reason for that kind of reception it meets in the world, and that so very few are offended with it.
I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.
What they do in heaven we are ignorant of; what they do not do we are told expressly.
One enemy can do more hurt than ten friends can do good.
As blushing will sometimes make a whore pass for a virtuous woman, so modesty may make a fool seem a man of sense.
No wise man ever wished to be younger.
Where I am not understood, it shall be concluded that something very useful and profound is couched underneath.
A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.
Reason is a very light rider, and easily shook off.
Interest is the spur of the people, but glory that of great souls. Invention is the talent of youth, and judgment of age.
Two friendships in two breasts requires The same aversions and desires.
I never saw, heard, nor read, that the clergy were beloved in any nation where Christianity was the religion of the country. Nothing can render them popular, but some degree of persecution.
There's none so blind as they that won't see.
Argument, as usually managed, is the worst sort of conversation, as in books it is generally the worst sort of reading.
Every one desires to live long, but no one would be old.
It is as hard to satirize well a man of distinguished vices, as to praise well a man of distinguished virtues.
Vanity is a mark of humility rather than of pride.
May you live all the days of your life.
Nothing is so great an example of bad manners as flattery. If you flatter all the company, you please none; If you flatter only one or two, you offend the rest.
Observation is an old man's memory.
Men are happy to be laughed at for their humor, but not for their folly.
There are few, very few, that will own themselves in a mistake.
Poor nations are hungry, and rich nations are proud; and pride and hunger will ever be at variance.
Positiveness is a good quality for preachers and speakers because, whoever shares his thoughts with the public will convince them as he himself appears convinced.
In the school of political projectors, I was but ill entertained, the professors appearing, in my judgment, wholly out of their senses; which is a scene that never fails to make me melancholy. These unhappy people were proposing schemes for persuading monarchs to choose favorites upon the score of their wisdom, capacity, and virtue; of teaching ministers to consult the public good; of rewarding merit, great abilities, and eminent services, of instructing princes to know their true interest, by placing it on the same foundation with that of their people; of choosing for employment persons qualified to exercise them; with many other wild impossible chimeras, that never entered before into the heart of man to conceive; and confirmed in me the old observation, that there is nothing so extravagant and irrational which some philosophers have not maintained for truth.
The two maxims of any great man at court are, always to keep his countenance and never to keep his work.
Power is no blessing in itself, except when it is used to protect the innocent.
It is a maxim among these lawyers, that whatever hath been done before, may legally be done again: and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.
Promises and pie crusts are made to be broken.
It is the folly of too many to mistake the echo of a London coffee-house for the voice of the kingdom.
If Heaven had looked upon riches to be a valuable thing, it would not have given them to such a scoundrel.
It was a bold person that first ate an oyster.
Nor do they trust their tongue alone, but speak a language of their own; can read a nod, a shrug, a look, far better than a printed book; convey a libel in a frown, and wink a reputation down.
He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put into vials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw, inclement summers.
But you think that it is time for me to have done with the world, and so I would if I could get into a better before I was called into the best, and not die here in a rage, like a poisoned rat in a hole.
Human brutes, like other beasts, find snares and poison in the provision of life, and are allured by their appetites to their destruction.
Although men are accused of not knowing their own weakness, yet perhaps 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.
A footman may swear; but he cannot swear like a lord. He can swear as often: but can he swear with equal delicacy, propriety, and judgment?
Come, agree, the law's costly.
I said there was a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in the art of proving by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are as slaves.
All human race would be wits. And millions miss, for one that hits.
Invention is the talent of youth, as judgment is of age.
What some people invent the rest enlarge.
Happiness is a perpetual possession of being well deceived.
I never knew a man come to greatness or eminence who lay abed late in the morning.
Your notions of friendship are new to me; I believe every man is born with his quantum, and he cannot give to one without robbing another. I very well know to whom I would give the first place in my friendship, but they are not in the way, I am condemned to another scene, and therefore I distribute it in pennyworths to those about me, and who displease me least, and should do the same to my fellow prisoners if I were condemned to a jail.
I will venture to affirm, that the three seasons wherein our corn has miscarried did no more contribute to our present misery, than one spoonful of water thrown upon a rat already drowned would contribute to his death; and that the present plentiful harvest, although it should be followed by a dozen ensuing, would no more restore us, than it would the rat aforesaid to put him near the fire, which might indeed warm his fur-coat, but never bring him back to life.
Pretense is the overrating of any kind of knowledge we pretend to.
And he gave it for 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.
She wears her clothes as if they were thrown on with a pitch folk.
The best doctors in the world are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman.
We are so fond of one another because our ailments are the same.
For the rest, whatever we have got has been by infinite labor, and search, and ranging through every corner of nature; the difference is that instead of dirt and poison, we have rather chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax, thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light.

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