54 Most Famous Jonathan Swift Quotes

54 Most Famous Jonathan Swift Quotes

by / Comments Off / 66 View / Jan 8, 2015

Jonathan Swift was a politician, author, and poet from Dublin, Ireland. He is most known for his classical novels Gulliver’s Travels, A Journal to Stella, and A Modest Proposal. He wrote underneath multiple pen names such as M.B. Drapier, Isaac Bickerstaff, and Lamuel Gulliver. He died on October 19, 1745 at the age of 77.

“…one enemy can do more hurt, than ten friends can do good.”

“A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or
salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.”

“A penny for your thoughts.”

“A tavern is a place where madness is sold by the bottle.”

“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.”

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

“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…”

“As boys do sparrows, with flinging salt upon their tails.”

“Better belly burst than good liquor be lost.”

“Big-endians and small-endians.”

“Bread is the staff of life.”

“But nothing is so hard for those who abound in riches, as to conceive how others can be in want.”

“Do you think I was born in a wood to be afraid of an owl?”

“Fine words! I wonder where you stole ‘em.”

“Fingers were made before forks, and hands before knives.”

“For, in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery: but in fact, eleven men well armed will certainly subdue one single man in his shirt.”

“Good manners is the art of making those people easy with whom we converse. Whoever makes the fewest persons uneasy is the best bred in the company.”

“Hail fellow, well met.”

“He is taller by almost the breadth of my nail, than any of his court, which alone is enough to strike an awe into the beholders.”

“He made it a part of his religion never to say grace to his meat.”

“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”

“How we apples swim!”

“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.”

“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.”

“I cannot but conclude 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 have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food,
whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.”

“I love good creditable acquaintance; I love to be the worst of the company.”

“I said the thing which was not.”

“I thought you and he were hand-in-glove.”

“I told him…that we ate when we were not hungry, and drank without the provocation of thirst.”

“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.”

“It is a maxim, that those to whom everybody allows the second place have an undoubted title to the first.”

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

“May you live all the days of your life.”

“Nothing is so great an instance of ill manners as flattery. If you flatter all the company, you please none; if you flatter only one or two, you affront the rest.”

“Pedantry is properly the over-rating of any kind of knowledge we pretend to.”

“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

“Pride, ill nature, and want of sense, are the three great sources of ill manners.”

“Promises and pie-crust are made to be broken.”

“Reason is a very light rider and easily shook off.”

“Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired…”

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

“Seamen have a custom, when they meet a whale, to fling him out an empty tub by way of amusement, to divert him from laying violent hands upon the ship.”

“She has more goodness in her little finger, than he has in his whole body.”

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

“The latter part of a wise man’s life is taken up in curing the follies, prejudices, and false opinions he had contracted in the former.”

“The proper words in the proper places are the true definition of style.”

“The two maxims of any great man at court are always to keep his countenance and never to keep his word.”

“The want of belief is a defect that ought to be concealed when it cannot be overcome.”

“There are few, very few, that will own themselves in a mistake, though all the World sees them to be in downright nonsense.”

“There is nothing in this world constant, but inconstancy.”

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”

“What they do in heaven we are ignorant of; what they do not we are told expressly: that they neither marry, nor are given in marriage.”

“When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.”