The Best Jonathan Swift quotes

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Despite his egotistical and at times scandalous behavior, Jonathan Swift was one of the most brilliant minds of his time. A renowned satirist, essayist, and poet, Swift was also a key figure in the political life of 18th century Britain. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the life and work of this remarkable man.

Discover the strongest Truth, Love, Power, Wise, Nature, Life, World, Reason quotes from Jonathan Swift, and much more.


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About Jonathan Swift

birth of the author

30 November 1667

death of the author

19 October 1745

occupation of the author

Satirist, Essayist, Political Pamphleteer, Poet, Priest And More.

college of the author

Alma Mater:
Trinity College, Dublin

award of the author

Notable Works:
A Tale Of A Tub, Drapier’s Letters, Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal


Tell truth, and shame the devil. — Jonathan Swift

Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it. — Jonathan Swift

Truth shines the brighter clad in verse. — Jonathan Swift

Many a truth is told in jest. — Jonathan Swift

tell truth and shame the devil Jonathan Swift quote

Falsehood flies,’ observed Jonathan Swift, ‘and the truth comes limping after it. — Madeleine K. Albright

Unjustly poets we asperse: Truth shines the brighter clad in verse, And all the fictions they pursue Do but insinuate what is true. — Jonathan Swift

It is an uncontrolled truth, that no man ever made an ill figure who understood his own talents, nor a good one who mistook them. — Jonathan Swift

Under the rose, since here are none but friends, To own the truth we have some private ends. — Jonathan Swift

Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect. — Jonathan Swift

falsehood flies and the truth comes limping after it Jonathan Swift quote

Hoever wishes to win in this game must have patience and money, since the values are so little constant and the rumors so little founded on truth Vision is the art of seeing things invisible. — Jonathan Swift


Life is a tragedy wherein we sit as spectators for a while and then act our part in it. — Jonathan Swift

Everyone desires long life, not one old age. — Jonathan Swift

It is a miserable thing to live in suspense; it is the life of the spider. — Jonathan Swift

Hobbes clearly proves, that every creature Lives in a state of war by nature. — Jonathan Swift

life is a tragedy wherein we sit as spectators for a while and then act our part in it Jonathan Swift quote

The best Maxim I know in this life is, to drink your Coffee when you can, and when you cannot, to be easy without it. — Jonathan Swift

May you live every day of your life. — Jonathan Swift


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Human brutes, like other beasts, find snares and poison in the provision of life, and are allured by their appetites to their destruction. — Jonathan Swift

Why is Jonathan Swift important?

Jonathan Swift was an Anglo-Irish author who is widely regarded as the foremost prose satirist in the English language.

He wrote essays, poetry, pamphlets, and a novel.

He often published anonymously or under pseudonyms, including Isaac Bickerstaff, and is noted for his use of ironic invented personas. .

No man was ever so completely skilled in the conduct of life, as not to receive new information from age and experience. — Jonathan Swift

Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending. May you live all the days of your life. — Jonathan Swift

everyone desires long life not one old age Jonathan Swift quote

Men who possess all the advantages of life are in a state where there are many accidents to disorder and discompose, but few to please them. — Jonathan Swift

It is the first rule in oratory that a man must appear such as he would persuade others to be: and that can be accomplished only by the force of his life. — Jonathan Swift

Physicians ought not to give their judgment of religion, for the same reason that butchers are not admitted to be jurors upon life and death. — 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

I’ve often wish’d that I had clear, For life, six hundred pounds a year; A handsome house to lodge a friend; A river at my garden’s end; A terrace walk, and half a rood Of land set out to plant a wood. — Jonathan Swift

it is a miserable thing to live in suspense it is the life of the spider Jonathan Swift quote


Wise people are never less alone than when they are alone. — Jonathan Swift

No wise man ever wished to be younger. — Jonathan Swift

A wise man will find us to be rogues by our faces. — Jonathan Swift

Let a man be ne’er so wise, he may be caught with sober lies. — 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

wise people are never less alone than when they are alone Jonathan Swift quote

A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart. — Jonathan Swift

When I am reading a book, whether wise or silly, it seems to me to be alive and talking to me. — Jonathan Swift

Ale is meat, drink and cloth; it will make a cat speak and a wise man dumb. — Jonathan Swift

A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than yesterday. — Jonathan Swift

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

no wise man ever wished to be younger Jonathan Swift quote


Praise is the daughter of present power. — Jonathan Swift

Power is no blessing in itself, except when it is used to protect the innocent. — Jonathan Swift

Arbitrary power is but the first natural step from anarchy, or the savage life. — Jonathan Swift

The power of fortune is confessed only by the miserable, for the happy impute all their success to prudence or merit. — Jonathan Swift

In all I wish, how happy should I be, Thou grand Deluder, were it not for thee? So weak thou art that fools thy power despise; And yet so strong, thou triumph’st o’er the wise. — Jonathan Swift

praise is the daughter of present power Jonathan Swift quote

Few are qualified to shine in company, but it is in most men’s power to be agreeable. — 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

A prince, the moment he is crown’d, Inherits every virtue sound, As emblems of the sovereign power, Like other baubles in the Tower: Is generous, valiant, just, and wise, And so continues till he dies. — Jonathan Swift

Arbitrary power is the natural object of temptation to a prince, as wine and women to a young fellow, or a bribe to a judge, or avarice to old age. — Jonathan Swift

When any one person or body of men seize into their hands the power in the last resort, there is properly no longer a government, but what Aristotle and his followers call the abuse and corruption of one. — Jonathan Swift

power is no blessing in itself except when it is used to protect the innocent Jonathan Swift quote

Real vision is the ability to see the invisible. — Jonathan Swift


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

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

I love white Portugal wine better than claret, champagne, or burgundy. I have a sad vulgar appetite. — Jonathan Swift

I love good creditable acquaintance; I love to be the worst of the company. — Jonathan Swift

i love good creditable acquaintance i love to be the worst of the company Jonathan Swift quote

War: that mad game the world so loves to play. — Jonathan Swift

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

What was Jonathan Swift’s family like?

Jonathan Swift’s father, Jonathan Swift the elder, was an Englishman who had settled in Ireland after the Stuart Restoration and become steward of the King’s Inns, Dublin.

He married Abigail Erick in 1664 and died in 1667, leaving his wife, baby daughter, and unborn son—the younger Jonathan—to the care of his brothers. .

Principally I hate and detest that animal called man; although I heartily love John, Peter, Thomas, and so forth. — Jonathan Swift

Company is like a dog, who dirts those most whom he loves best. — Jonathan Swift

Love of flattery, in most men, proceeds from the mean opinion they have of themselves; in women, from the contrary. — Jonathan Swift

war that mad game the world so loves to play Jonathan Swift quote

I always love to begin a journey on Sundays, because I shall have the prayers of the church to preserve all that travel by land, or water. — Jonathan Swift

Redundant Thematics

In Jonathan Swift Statements


Venus, a beautiful, good–natured lady, was the goddess of love; Juno, a terrible shrew, the goddess of marriage: and they were always mortal enemies. — Jonathan Swift

I have ever hated all nations, professions, and communities, and all my love is toward individuals. — Jonathan Swift

I never knew any man cured of inattention. — Jonathan Swift


I hate nobody: I am in charity with the world. — Jonathan Swift

i hate nobody i am in charity with the world Jonathan Swift quote

There is nothing in this world constant, but inconstancy. — Jonathan Swift

To acknowledge you were wrong yesterday is simply to let the world know that you are wiser today than you were then. — Jonathan Swift

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

Once kick the world, and the world and you will live together at a reasonably good understanding. — Jonathan Swift

I’m up and down and round about, Yet all the world can’t find me out; Though hundreds have employed their leisure, They never yet could find my measure. — Jonathan Swift

there is nothing in this world constant but inconstancy Jonathan Swift quote

There never appear more than five or six men of genius in an age, but if they were united the world could not stand before them. — Jonathan Swift

A maxim in law has more weight in the world than an article of faith. — Jonathan Swift

If the world had but a dozen Arbuthnots in it, I would burn my Travels. — Jonathan Swift

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

What was Jonathan Swift’s occupation?

Jonathan Swift was an Anglican priest. He was appointed vicar of Kilroot, near Belfast, in 1695, and he rose to become dean of St.
Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin in 1713.

During a stint in England beginning in 1710, Swift became the Tories’ chief pamphleteer and political writer and took over the Tory journal The Examiner


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

the best doctors in the world are doctor diet doctor quiet and doctor merryman Jonathan Swift quote

I am convinced that if the virtuosi could once find out a world in the moon, with a passage to it, our women would wear nothing but what directly came from thence. — 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

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

When a man of genius appears in the world, it is immediately recognized by the fact that all the blockheads join forces against him. — Jonathan Swift

I am of the level with common Astrologers; who, with an old paltry cant, and a few pot–hooks for planets to amuse the vulgar, have too long been suffered to abuse the world. — Jonathan Swift

I can discover no political evil in suffering bullies, sharpers, and rakes, to rid the world of each other by a method of their own; where the law hath not been able to find an expedient. — 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

How is it possible to expect that mankind will take advice when they will not so much as take warning. — Jonathan Swift


You cannot reason a person out of something they were not reasoned into. — Jonathan Swift

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

you cannot reason a person out of something they were not reasoned into Jonathan Swift quote

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

God hath intended our passions to prevail over reason. — Jonathan Swift

Politics, as the word is commonly understood, are nothing but corruptions, and consequently of no use to a good king or a good ministry; for which reason Courts are so overrun with politics. — Jonathan Swift

Reason is a very light rider, and easily shook off. — Jonathan Swift

Old men and comets have been reverenced for the same reason: their long beards, and pretences to foretell events. — Jonathan Swift

it is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into Jonathan Swift quote

Such a man, truly wise, creams off Nature leaving the sour and the dregs for philosophy and reason to lap up. — Jonathan Swift

What is Jonathan Swift best known for?

Jonathan Swift is best known for Gulliver’s Travels, which, in parodying the popular travel narrative, mocks English customs and the politics of the day, and “A Modest Proposal,” a satiric essay that suggests improving living conditions in Ireland by butchering children of the Irish poor and selling them as food to wealthy English landlords


An idle reason lessens the weight of the good ones you gave before. — 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

Where I am not understood, it shall be concluded that something very useful and profound is couched underneath. — Jonathan Swift

If you were not reasoned into your beliefs, you cannot be reasoned out of them. — Jonathan Swift

god hath intended our passions to prevail over reason Jonathan Swift quote


That incessant envy wherewith the common rate of mankind pursues all superior natures to their own. — Jonathan Swift

Pride, ill nature, and want of sense, are the three great sources of ill manners. — Jonathan Swift

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

By the laws of God, of nature, of nations, and of your country you are and ought to be as free a people as your brethren in England. — Jonathan Swift

For though, in nature, depth and height Are equally held infinite: In poetry, the height we know; ‘Tis only infinite below. — Jonathan Swift

pride ill nature and want of sense are the three great sources of ill manners Jonathan Swift quote

It is the talent of human nature to run from one extreme to another. — Jonathan Swift

A little grain of the romance is no ill ingredient to preserve and exalt the dignity of human nature, without which it is apt to degenerate into everything that is sordid, vicious and low. — 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

There is no quality so contrary to any nature which one cannot affect, and put on upon occasion, in order to serve an interest. — 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

In all distresses of our friends We first consult our private ends; While Nature, kindly bent to ease us, Points out some circumstance to please us. — Jonathan Swift

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