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S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
Jonathan Swift
 
  Abstracts, abridgments, summaries, etc., have the same use with burning glasses—to collect the diffused rays of wit and learning in authors, and make them point with warmth and quickness upon the reader’s imagination.
Jonathan Swift.    
  1
 
  Considering the usual motives of human actions, which are pleasure, profit, and ambition, I cannot yet comprehend how these persons find their account in any of the three.
Jonathan Swift.    
  2
 
  The nearer I find myself verging to that period of life which is to be labour and sorrow, the more I prop myself upon those few supports that are left.
Jonathan Swift.    
  3
 
  The troubles of age were intended … to wean us gradually from our fondness of life the nearer we approach to the end.
Jonathan Swift.    
  4
 
  The poor beggar hath a just demand of an alms from the rich man, who is guilty of fraud, injustice, and oppression if he does not afford relief according to his abilities.
Jonathan Swift.    
  5
 
  The ambitious, the covetous, the superficial, and the ill-designing are apt to be bold and forward.
Jonathan Swift.    
  6
 
  If your arguments be rational, offer them in as moving a manner as the nature of the subject will admit; but beware of letting the pathetic part swallow up the rational.
Jonathan Swift.    
  7
 
  Astrologers 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.    
  8
 
  I know the learned think of the art of astrology that the stars do not force the actions or wills of men.
Jonathan Swift.    
  9
 
  I never knew any man cured of inattention.
Jonathan Swift.    
  10
 
  Would a writer know how to behave himself with relation to posterity, let him consider in old books what he finds that he is glad to know, and what omissions he most laments.
Jonathan Swift.    
  11
 
  By the time that an author hath written out a book, he and his readers are become old acquaintants.
Jonathan Swift.    
  12
 
  There is no vice which mankind carries to such wild extremes as that of avarice.
Jonathan Swift.    
  13
 
  No translation our own country ever yet produced hath come up to that of the Old and New Testament; and I am persuaded that the translators of the Bible were masters of an English style much fitter for that work than any we see in our present writings; the which is owing to the simplicity that runs through the whole.
Jonathan Swift.    
  14
 
  Books give the same turn to our thoughts that company does to our conversation, without loading our memories, or making us even sensible of the change.
Jonathan Swift.    
  15
 
 
 
  The collectors only consider, the greater fame a writer is in possession of, the more trash he may bear to have tacked to him.
Jonathan Swift.    
  16
 
  It is the editor’s interest to insert what the author’s judgment had rejected; and care is taken to intersperse these additions, so that scarce any book can be bought without purchasing something unworthy of the author.
Jonathan Swift.    
  17
 
  The design is to avoid the imputation of pedantry, to show that they understand men and manners, and have not been poring upon old unfashionable books.
Jonathan Swift.    
  18
 
  The affectation of some late authors to introduce and multiply cant words is the most ruinous corruption in any language.
Jonathan Swift.    
  19
 
  The first springs of great events, like those of great rivers, are often mean and little.
Jonathan Swift.    
  20
 
  It is some commendation that we have avoided to characterize any person without long experience.
Jonathan Swift.    
  21
 
  It is in men as in soils, where sometimes there is a vein of gold which the owner knows not of.
Jonathan Swift.    
  22
 
  If things were once in this train,—if virtue were established as necessary to reputation, and vice not only loaded with infamy, but made the infallible ruin of all men’s pretensions,—our duty would take root in our nature.
Jonathan Swift.    
  23
 
  What can be a greater honour than to be chosen one of the stewards and dispensers of God’s bounty to mankind? What can give a generous spirit more complacency than to consider that great numbers owe to him, under God, their subsistence, and the good conduct of their lives?
Jonathan Swift.    
  24
 
  Such a man, truly wise, creams off nature, leaving the sour and the dregs for philosophy and reason to lap up.
Jonathan Swift.    
  25
 
  The clergy prevent themselves from doing much service to religion by affecting so much to converse with each other, and caring so little to mingle with the laity.
Jonathan Swift.    
  26
 
  A divine dares hardly show his person among the gentlemen; or, if he fall into such company, he is in continual apprehension that some pert man of pleasure should break an unmannerly jest, and render him ridiculous.
Jonathan Swift.    
  27
 
  The clergy’s business lies among the laity; nor is there a more effectual way to forward the salvation of men’s souls than for spiritual persons to make themselves as agreeable as they can in the conversations of the world.
Jonathan Swift.    
  28
 
  If the clergy would a little study the arts of conversation, they might be welcome at every party where there was the least regard for politeness or good sense.
Jonathan Swift.    
  29
 
  Neither is it rare to observe among excellent and learned divines a certain ungracious manner or an unhappy tone of voice, which they never have been able to shake off.
Jonathan Swift.    
  30
 
  It seems to be in the power of a reasonable clergyman to make the most ignorant man comprehend his duty.
Jonathan Swift.    
  31
 
  I cannot forbear warning you against endeavoring at wit in your sermons; because many of your calling have made themselves ridiculous by attempting it.
Jonathan Swift.    
  32
 
  As a man is known by his company, so a man’s company may be known by his manner of expressing himself.
Jonathan Swift.    
  33
 
  No word more frequently in the mouths of men than conscience; and the meaning of it is, in some measure, understood: however, it is a word extremely abused by many who apply other meanings to it which God Almighty never intended.
Jonathan Swift.    
  34
 
  Conscience signifies that knowledge which a man hath of his own thoughts and actions; and because if a man judgeth fairly of his actions by comparing them with the law of God, his mind will approve or condemn him, this knowledge or conscience may be both an accuser and a judge.
Jonathan Swift.    
  35
 
  It is very unfair in any writer to employ ignorance and malice together; because it gives his answerer double work.
Jonathan Swift.    
  36
 
  One of the best rules in conversation is, never to say a thing which any of the company can reasonably wish we had rather left unsaid: nor can there anything be well more contrary to the ends for which people meet together, than to part unsatisfied with each other or themselves.
Jonathan Swift.    
  37
 
  Old threadbare phrases will often make you go out of your way to find and apply them, and are nauseous to rational hearers.
Jonathan Swift.    
  38
 
  One can revive a languishing conversation by a sudden surprising sentence; another is more dexterous in seconding; a third can fill the gap with laughing.
Jonathan Swift.    
  39
 
  There is no point wherein I have so much laboured as that of improving and polishing all parts of conversation between persons of quality.
Jonathan Swift.    
  40
 
  The only invention of late years which hath contributed towards politeness in discourse is that of abbreviating, or reducing words of many syllables into one by lopping off the rest.
Jonathan Swift.    
  41
 
  Since the ladies have been left out of all meetings except parties of play, our conversation hath degenerated.
Jonathan Swift.    
  42
 
  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.    
  43
 
  The malignant deity Criticism dwelt on the top of a snowy mountain in Nova Zembla: Momus found her extended in her den upon the spoils of numberless volumes half devoured. At her right hand sat Ignorance, her father and husband, blind with age; at her left, Pride, her mother, dressing her up in the scraps of paper herself had torn. There was Opinion, her sister, light of foot, hoodwinked and headstrong, yet giddy and perpetually turning. About her played her children, Noise and Impudence, Dulness and Vanity, Positiveness, Pedantry, and Ill Manners.
Jonathan Swift.    
  44
 
  Cunning men can be guilty of a thousand injustices without being discovered; or at least without being punished.
Jonathan Swift.    
  45
 
  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.
Jonathan Swift.    
  46
 
  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.    
  47
 
  Arbitrary power is but the first natural step from anarchy, or the savage life.
Jonathan Swift.    
  48
 
  Whoever argues in defence of absolute power in a single person, though he offers the old plausible plea that it is his opinion, which he cannot help unless he be convinced, ought to be treated as the common enemy of mankind.
Jonathan Swift.    
  49
 
  When we desire anything, our minds run wholly on the good circumstances of it; when ’tis obtained, our minds run wholly on the bad ones.
Jonathan Swift.    
  50
 
  There is no talent so useful towards rising in the world, or which puts men more out of the reach of fortune, than discretion, a species of lower prudence.
Jonathan Swift.    
  51
 
  Men of wit, learning, and virtue might strike out every offensive or unbecoming passage from plays.
Jonathan Swift.    
  52
 
  Employ their wit and humour in choosing and matching of patterns and colours.
Jonathan Swift.    
  53
 
  How naturally do you apply your hands to each other’s lappets, ruffles, and mantuas!
Jonathan Swift.    
  54
 
  A wise man who does not assist with his counsels, a rich man with his charity, and a poor man with his labour, are perfect nuisances in a commonwealth.
Jonathan Swift.    
  55
 
  All nations have agreed in the necessity of a strict education which consisted in the observance of moral duties.
Jonathan Swift.    
  56
 
  You cannot but have observed what a violent run there is among … weak people against university education.
Jonathan Swift.    
  57
 
  Those of better fortune, not making learning their maintenance, take degrees with little improvement.
Jonathan Swift.    
  58
 
  It is allowed on all hands that the people of England are more corrupt in their morals than any other nation this day under the sun.
Jonathan Swift.    
  59
 
  Our mother-tongue, which truly of itself is both full enough for prose and stately enough for verse, hath long time been counted most bare and barren of both; which default when as some endeavoured to salve and cure, they patched up the holes with rags from other languages.
Jonathan Swift.    
  60
 
  The same defect of heat which gives a fierceness; to our natures may contribute to that roughness of our language which bears some analogy to the harsh fruit of colder countries.
Jonathan Swift.    
  61
 
  The Swedes, Danes, Germans, and Dutch attain to the pronunciation of our words with ease, because our syllables resemble theirs in roughness and frequency of consonants.
Jonathan Swift.    
  62
 
  The fame of our writers is confined to these two islands, and it is hard if it should be limited in time as well as place by the perpetual variations of our speech.
Jonathan Swift.    
  63
 
  Nothing would be of greater use towards the improvement of knowledge and politeness than some effectual method for correcting, enlarging, and ascertaining our language.
Jonathan Swift.    
  64
 
  Our language is extremely imperfect, and in many instances it offends against every part of grammar.
Jonathan Swift.    
  65
 
  Another cause which hath maimed our language is a foolish opinion that we ought to spell exactly as we speak.
Jonathan Swift.    
  66
 
  From the civil war to this time I doubt whether the corruptions in our language have not equalled its refinements.
Jonathan Swift.    
  67
 
  The English tongue if refined to a certain standard might perhaps be fixed forever.
Jonathan Swift.    
  68
 
  What I have most at heart is, that some method should be thought on for ascertaining and fixing our language.
Jonathan Swift.    
  69
 
  If you will not care to settle our language and put it into a state of continuance, your memory shall not be preserved above an hundred years, further than by imperfect tradition.
Jonathan Swift.    
  70
 
  If all these were exemplary in the conduct of their lives, religion would receive a mighty encouragement.
Jonathan Swift.    
  71
 
  A regard for fame becomes a man more towards the exit than at his entrance into life.
Jonathan Swift.    
  72
 
  The desire of fame hath been no inconsiderable motive to quicken you in the pursuit of those actions which will best deserve it.
Jonathan Swift.    
  73
 
  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.
Jonathan Swift.    
  74
 
  I have been considering why poets have such ill success in making their court, since they are allowed to be the greatest and best of all flatterers: the defect is that they flatter only in print or in writing.
Jonathan Swift.    
  75
 
  The power of fortune is confessed only by the miserable; the happy impute all their success to prudence or merit.
Jonathan Swift.    
  76
 
  Of what use is freedom of thought, if it will not produce freedom of action, which is the sole end, how remote soever in appearance, of all objections against Christianity? And therefore the freethinkers consider it as an edifice wherein all the parts have such a mutual dependence on each other, that if you pull out one single nail the whole fabric must fall to the ground.
Jonathan Swift.    
  77
 
  Nature and common reason, in all difficulties where prudence or courage are required, do rather incite us to fly for assistance to a single person than a multitude.
Jonathan Swift.    
  78
 
  The smallest accident intervening often produces such changes that a wise man is just as much in doubt of events as the most ignorant and unexperienced.
Jonathan Swift.    
  79
 
  The fear of punishment in this life will preserve men from few vices, since some of the blackest often prove the surest steps to favour; such as ingratitude, hypocrisy, treachery, and subornation.
Jonathan Swift.    
  80
 
  I count it a great error to count upon the genius of a nation as a standing argument in all ages.
Jonathan Swift.    
  81
 
  Every age might perhaps produce one or two true geniuses, if they were not sunk under the censure and obloquy of plodding, servile, imitating pedants.
Jonathan Swift.    
  82
 
  If there be any difference in natural parts, it should seem the advantage lies on the side of children born from wealthy parents, the same traditional sloth and luxury which render their body weak perhaps refining their spirits.
Jonathan Swift.    
  83
 
  This evil fortune which attends extraordinary men hath been imputed to divers causes that need not be set down when so obvious a one occurs, that when a great genius appears the dunces are all in conspiracy against him.
Jonathan Swift.    
  84
 
  The three forms of government have their several perfections, and are subject to their several depravations: however, few states are ruined by defect in their institution, but generally by corruption of manners.
Jonathan Swift.    
  85
 
  Hereditary right should be kept sacred; not from any inalienable right in a particular family, but to avoid the consequences that usually attend the ambition of competitors.
Jonathan Swift.    
  86
 
  An hereditary right is to be preferred before election, because the government is so disposed that it almost executes itself; and upon the death of a prince the administration goes on without any rub or interruption.
Jonathan Swift.    
  87
 
  Great changes may be made in a government, yet the form continue; but large intervals of time must pass between every such innovation, enough to make it of a piece with the constitution.
Jonathan Swift.    
  88
 
  It may pass for a maxim in state, that the administration cannot be placed in too few hands, nor the legislature in too many.
Jonathan Swift.    
  89
 
  When the balance of power is duly fixed in a state, nothing is more dangerous or unwise than to give way to the first steps of popular encroachment.
Jonathan Swift.    
  90
 
  In countries of freedom, princes are bound to protect their subjects in liberty, property, and religion, to receive their petitions and redress their grievances.
Jonathan Swift.    
  91
 
  From the practice of the wisest nations, when a prince was laid aside for maladministration, the nobles and people did resume the administration of the supreme power.
Jonathan Swift.    
  92
 
  Great abilities, when employed as God directs, do but make the owners of them greater and more painful servants to their neighbours: however, they are real blessings when in the hands of good men.
Jonathan Swift.    
  93
 
  So endless and exorbitant are the desires of men, that they will grasp at all, and can form no scheme of perfect happiness with less.
Jonathan Swift.    
  94
 
  How shall any man who hath a genius for history undertake such a work with spirit and cheerfulness, when he considers that he will be read with pleasure but a very few years?
Jonathan Swift.    
  95
 
  The Greek tongue received many enlargements between the time of Homer and that of Plutarch.
Jonathan Swift.    
  96
 
  The most plain, short, and lawful way to any good end is more eligible than one directly contrary in some or all of these qualities.
Jonathan Swift.    
  97
 
  No man of honour, as that word is usually understood, did ever pretend that his honour obliged him to be chaste or temperate, to pay his creditors, to be useful to his country, to do good to mankind, to endeavour to be wise or learned, to regard his word, his promise, or his oath.
Jonathan Swift.    
  98
 
  He appealed to me whether in those countries I had travelled, as well as my own, I had not observed the same general disposition.
Jonathan Swift.    
  99
 
  It is the talent of human nature to run from one extreme to another.
Jonathan Swift.    
  100
 
  I agree with Sir William Temple, that the word humour is peculiar to our English tongue; but not that the thing itself is peculiar to the English, because the contrary may be found in many Spanish, Italian, and French productions.
Jonathan Swift.    
  101
 
  Hypocrisy is much more eligible than open infidelity and vice: it wears the livery of religion, and is cautious of giving scandal: nay, continued disguises are too great a constraint; men would leave off their vices rather than undergo the toil of practising them in private.
Jonathan Swift.    
  102
 
  The making religion necessary to interest might increase hypocrisy; but if one in twenty should be brought to true piety, and nineteen be only hypocrites, the advantage would still be great.
Jonathan Swift.    
  103
 
  It is possible for a man who hath the appearance of religion to be wicked and an hypocrite; but it is impossible for a man who openly declares against religion to give any reasonable security that he will not be false and cruel.
Jonathan Swift.    
  104
 
  Whatever appears against their prevailing vice goes for nothing, being either not applied, or passing for libel and slander.
Jonathan Swift.    
  105
 
  All the writers against Christianity since the Revolution have been of the lowest rank in regard to literature, wit, and sense; and upon that account wholly unqualified to propagate heresies, unless among a people already abandoned.
Jonathan Swift.    
  106
 
  Men always grow vicious before they become unbelievers; but if you would once convince profligates by topics drawn from the view of their own quiet, reputation, and health, their infidelity would soon drop off.
Jonathan Swift.    
  107
 
  Let it consist with an unbeliever’s interest and safety to wrong you, and then it will be impossible you can have any hold upon him; because there is nothing left to give him a check, or to put in the balance against his profit.
Jonathan Swift.    
  108
 
  He that calls a man ungrateful sums up all the evil that a man can be guilty of.
Jonathan Swift.    
  109
 
  If in company you offer something for a jest, and nobody seconds you on your own laughter, you may condemn their taste, and appeal to better judgments; but in the meantime you make a very indifferent figure.
Jonathan Swift.    
  110
 
  No man ought to be charged with principles he actually disowns, unless his practices contradict his profession; not upon small surmises.
Jonathan Swift.    
  111
 
  Princes have it in their power to keep a majority on their side by any tolerable administration, till provoked by continual oppressions.
Jonathan Swift.    
  112
 
  The example alone of a vicious prince will corrupt an age; but that of a good one will not reform it.
Jonathan Swift.    
  113
 
  One cannot attempt the perfect reforming the languages of the world without rendering himself ridiculous.
Jonathan Swift.    
  114
 
  I would rather have trusted the refinement of our language, as to sound, to the judgment of the women than to half-witted poets.
Jonathan Swift.    
  115
 
  Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.
Jonathan Swift.    
  116
 
  A law may be reasonable in itself, although a man does not allow it, or does not know the reason of the lawgivers.
Jonathan Swift.    
  117
 
  Hobbes confounds the executive with the legislative power, though all well-instituted states have ever placed them in different hands.
Jonathan Swift.    
  118
 
  There is no commonplace more insisted on than the happiness of trials by juries; yet if this blessed part of our law be eludible by power and artifice, we shall have little reason to boast.
Jonathan Swift.    
  119
 
  I never heard a finer satire against lawyers than that of astrologers; when they pretend, by rules of art, to tell when a suit will end, and whether to the advantage of the plaintiff or defendant.
Jonathan Swift.    
  120
 
  Ink is the great missive weapon in all battles of the learned.
Jonathan Swift.    
  121
 
  A people long used to hardships lose by degrees the very notions of liberty: they look upon themselves as at mercy.
Jonathan Swift.    
  122
 
  Philosophers say that man is a microcosm, or little world, resembling in miniature every part of the great; and the body natural may be compared to the body politic.
Jonathan Swift.    
  123
 
  According to this equality wherein God hath placed all mankind with relation to himself, in all the relations between man and man there is a mutual dependence.
Jonathan Swift.    
  124
 
  It is the talent of human nature to run from one extreme to the other.
Jonathan Swift.    
  125
 
  Good manners is the art of making those people easy with whom we converse.
Jonathan Swift.    
  126
 
  One principal point of good breeding is to suit our behaviour to the three several degrees of men,—our superiors, our equals, and those below us.
Jonathan Swift.    
  127
 
  When our betters tell us they are our humble servants, but understand us to be their slaves.
Jonathan Swift.    
  128
 
  Few are qualified to shine in company; but it is in most men’s power to be agreeable.
Jonathan Swift.    
  129
 
  Civility, intended to make us easy, is employed in laying chains and fetters upon us, in debarring us of our wishes, and in crossing our most reasonable desires.
Jonathan Swift.    
  130
 
  The mock authoritative manner of the one, and the insipid mirth of the other.
Jonathan Swift.    
  131
 
  Horace advises the Romans to seek a seat in some remote part, by way of a cure for the corruption of manners.
Jonathan Swift.    
  132
 
  The reason why so few marriages are happy is because young ladies spend their time in making nets, not in making cages.
Jonathan Swift.    
  133
 
  Imaginary evils soon become real ones by indulging our reflections on them; as he who in a melancholy fancy sees something like a face on the wall or the wainscot, can, by two or three touches with a lead-pencil, make it look visible, and agreeing with what he fancied.
Jonathan Swift.    
  134
 
  A wise man should have money in his head; but not in his heart.
Jonathan Swift.    
  135
 
  It is found by experience, those men who set up for morality without regard to religion are generally but virtuous in part.
Jonathan Swift.    
  136
 
  The system of morality to be gathered from the … ancient sages falls very short of that delivered in the gospel.
Jonathan Swift.    
  137
 
  Mysteries held by us have no power, pomp, or wealth, but have been maintained by the universal body of true believers from the days of the apostles, and will be to the resurrection. Neither will the gates of hell prevail against them.
Jonathan Swift.    
  138
 
  I do not attempt explaining the mysteries of the Christian religion: since Providence intended there should be mysteries it cannot be agreeable to piety, orthodoxy, or good sense to go about it.
Jonathan Swift.    
  139
 
  If God should please to reveal unto us this great mystery of the Holy Trinity, or some other mysteries in our holy religion, we should not be able to understand them unless he would bestow on us some new faculties of the mind.
Jonathan Swift.    
  140
 
  Opinions, like fashions, always descend from those of quality to the middle sort; and thence to the vulgar, where they are dropped and vanish.
Jonathan Swift.    
  141
 
  That was excellently observed, says I, when I read a passage in an author where his opinion agrees with mine.
Jonathan Swift.    
  142
 
  If a man would register all his opinions upon love, politics, religion, and learning, what a bundle of inconsistencies and contradictions would appear at last!
Jonathan Swift.    
  143
 
  The constant design of both these orators in all their speeches was to drive some one particular point.
Jonathan Swift.    
  144
 
  Grandfathers in private families are not much observed to have great influence on their grandsons, and I believe they have much less among princes.
Jonathan Swift.    
  145
 
  Outrageous party-writers are like a couple of makebates, who inflame small quarrels by a thousand stories.
Jonathan Swift.    
  146
 
  Instead of inquiring whether he be a man of virtue, the question is only whether he be a whig or a tory; under which terms all good and ill qualities are included.
Jonathan Swift.    
  147
 
  The most violent party men are such as, in the conduct of their lives, have discovered least sense of religion or morality, and when such are laid aside as shall be found incorrigible, it will be no difficulty to reconcile the rest.
Jonathan Swift.    
  148
 
  Whether those who are leaders of a party arrive at that station more by a sort of instinct, or influence of the stars, than by the possession of any great abilities, may be a point of much dispute.
Jonathan Swift.    
  149
 
  It may serve for a great lesson of humiliation to mankind to behold the habits and passions of men trampling over interest, friendship, honour, and their own personal safety, as well as that of their country.
Jonathan Swift.    
  150
 
  When the heart is full, it is angry at all words that cannot come up to it.
Jonathan Swift.    
  151
 
  We should avoid the vexation and impertinence of pedants, who affect to talk in a language not to be understood.
Jonathan Swift.    
  152
 
  Some physicians have thought that if it were practicable to keep the humours of the body in an exact balance of each with its opposite, it might be immortal; but this is impossible in the practice.
Jonathan Swift.    
  153
 
  Should any man argue that a physician understands his own art best, and therefore, although he should prescribe poison to all his patients, he cannot be justly punished, but is answerable only to God?
Jonathan Swift.    
  154
 
  Such an aversion and contempt for all manner of innovators as physicians are apt to have for empirics, or lawyers for pettifoggers.
Jonathan Swift.    
  155
 
  A wise man will find us to be rogues by our faces: we have a suspicious, fearful, constrained countenance, often turning and slinking through narrow lanes.
Jonathan Swift.    
  156
 
  All fits of pleasure are balanced by an equal degree of pain or languor; ’tis like spending this year part of the next year’s revenue.
Jonathan Swift.    
  157
 
  The man who can make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, grow on the spot where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and render more essential service to the country, than the whole race of politicians put together.
Jonathan Swift.    
  158
 
  I could produce innumerable instances from my own observation of events imputed to the profound skill and address of a minister, which, in reality, were either mere effects of negligence, weakness, humour, passion, or pride; or at best, but the natural course of things left to themselves.
Jonathan Swift.    
  159
 
  All pretences to neutrality are justly exploded, only intending the safety and ease of a few individuals, while the public is embroiled. This was the opinion and practice of the latter Cato.
Jonathan Swift.    
  160
 
  States call in foreigners to assist them against a common enemy; but the mischief was, these allies would never allow that the common enemy was subdued.
Jonathan Swift.    
  161
 
  You are as giddy and volatile as ever; just the reverse of Mr. Pope, who hath always loved a domestic life.
Jonathan Swift.    
  162
 
  These orators inflame the people, whose anger is really but a short fit of madness.
Jonathan Swift.    
  163
 
  A usurping populace is its own dupe, a mere underworker, and a purchaser in trust for some single tyrant.
Jonathan Swift.    
  164
 
  In their [a body of commons] results we have sometimes found the same spirit of cruelty and revenge, of malice and pride, the same blindness and obstinacy and unsteadiness, the same ungovernable rage and anger, the same injustice, sophistry, and fraud, that ever lodged in the breast of any individual.
Jonathan Swift.    
  165
 
  If the poor found the rich disposed to supply their wants, or if the weak might always find protection from the mighty, they could none of them lament their own condition.
Jonathan Swift.    
  166
 
  When the balance of power is firmly fixed in a state, nothing is more dangerous or unwise than to give way to the first steps of popular encroachments.
Jonathan Swift.    
  167
 
  Power, when employed to relieve the oppressed and to punish the oppressor, becomes a great blessing.
Jonathan Swift.    
  168
 
  As I take it, the two principal branches of preaching are, to tell the people what is their duty, and then to convince them that it is so: the topics for both are brought from Scripture and reason.
Jonathan Swift.    
  169
 
  I cannot get over the prejudice of taking some little offence at the clergy for perpetually reading their sermons; perhaps my frequent hearing of foreigners, who never make use of notes, may have added to my disgust.
Jonathan Swift.    
  170
 
  In preaching, no men succeed better than those who trust to the fund of their own reason, advanced, but not overlaid, by their commerce with books.
Jonathan Swift.    
  171
 
  I know a gentleman who made it a rule in reading to skip over all sentences where he spied a note of admiration at the end. If those preachers who abound in epiphonemas would but look about them, they would find one part of their congregation out of countenance, and the other asleep, except perhaps an old female beggar or two in the aisles; who, if they be sincere, may probably groan at the sound.
Jonathan Swift.    
  172
 
  I have listened with my utmost attention for half an hour to an orator without being able to carry away one single sentence out of a whole sermon.
Jonathan Swift.    
  173
 
  Although the advantages one man possesseth more than another may be called his property with respect to other men, yet with respect to God they are only a trust.
Jonathan Swift.    
  174
 
  Quotations are best brought in to confirm some opinion controverted.
Jonathan Swift.    
  175
 
  Whoever only reads to transcribe shining remarks, without entering into the genius and spirit of the author, will be apt to be misled out of the regular way of thinking; and all the product of all this will be found a manifest incoherent piece of patchwork.
Jonathan Swift.    
  176
 
  Where wit hath any mixture of raillery, it is but calling it banter, and the work is done.
Jonathan Swift.    
  177
 
  It is hard that not one gentleman’s daughter should read her own tongue; as any one may find who can hear them when they are disposed to mangle a play or a novel, where the least word out of the common road disconcerts them.
Jonathan Swift.    
  178
 
  It is an old and true distinction, that things may be above our reason without being contrary to it. Of this kind are the power, the nature, and the universal presence of God, with innumerable other points.
Jonathan Swift.    
  179
 
  It is not so much the being exempt from faults, as the having overcome them, that is an advantage to us; it being with the follies of the mind as with the weeds of a field, which if destroyed and consumed upon the place where they grow, enrich and improve it more than if none had ever sprung there.
Jonathan Swift.    
  180
 
  It would be well if people would not lay so much weight on their own reason in matters of religion as to think everything impossible and absurd which they cannot conceive: how often do we contradict the right rules of reason in the whole course of our lives! Reason itself is true and just, but the reason of every particular man is weak and wavering, perpetually swayed and turned by his interests, his passions, and his vices.
Jonathan Swift.    
  181
 
  What remedy can be found against grievances, but to bring religion into countenance, and encourage those who, from the hope of future reward, and dread of future punishment, will be moved to justice and integrity?
Jonathan Swift.    
  182
 
  It is a very just reproach that there should be so much violence and hatred in religious matters among men who agree in all fundamentals, and only differ in some ceremonies, or mere speculative points.
Jonathan Swift.    
  183
 
  A heathen emperor said if the gods were offended it was their own concern, and they were able to vindicate themselves.
Jonathan Swift.    
  184
 
  Nothing is so hard for those who abound in riches, as to conceive how others can be in want.
Jonathan Swift.    
  185
 
  Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders 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 few are offended with it.
Jonathan Swift.    
  186
 
  It is as hard to satirize well a man of distinguished vices, as to praise well a man of distinguished virtues.
Jonathan Swift.    
  187
 
  The motives of the best actions will not bear too strict an inquiry. It is allowed that the cause of most actions, good or bad, may be resolved into love of ourselves: but the self-love of some men inclines them to please others; and the self-love of others is wholly employed in pleasing themselves. This makes the great distinction between virtue and vice.
Jonathan Swift.    
  188
 
  That was excellently observed, say I, when I read a passage in an author where his opinion agrees with mine.
Jonathan Swift.    
  189
 
  There is in most people a reluctance and unwillingness to be forgotten. We observe even among the vulgar how fond they are to have an inscription over their grave.
Jonathan Swift.    
  190
 
  Our love of God will inspire us with a detestation for sin, as what is of all things most contrary to his divine nature.
Jonathan Swift.    
  191
 
  The worthiest people are the most injured by slander, as we usually find that to be the best fruit which the birds have been pecking at.
Jonathan Swift.    
  192
 
  When men and women are mixed and well chosen, and put their best qualities forward, there may be any intercourse of civility and good will.
Jonathan Swift.    
  193
 
  Though we cannot prolong the period of a commonwealth beyond the decree of heaven, or the date of its nature, any more than human life beyond the strength of the seminal virtue, yet we may manage a sickly constitution, and preserve a strong one.
Jonathan Swift.    
  194
 
  Temperance, industry, and a public spirit, running through the whole body of the people in Holland, hath preserved an infant commonwealth of a sickly constitution, through so many dangers as a much more healthy one could never have struggled against without those advantages.
Jonathan Swift.    
  195
 
  If we would suppose a ministry where every single person was of distinguished piety, and all great officers of state and law diligent in choosing persons who in their several subordinations would be obliged to follow the examples of their superiors, the empire of irreligion would be soon destroyed.
Jonathan Swift.    
  196
 
  The ruin of a state is generally preceded by an universal degeneracy of manners, and contempt of religion, which is entirely our case at present.
Jonathan Swift.    
  197
 
  The stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our desires is like cutting off our feet when we want shoes.
Jonathan Swift.    
  198
 
  Story-telling is subject to two unavoidable defects,—frequent repetition and being soon exhausted; so that whoever values this gift in himself has need of a good memory, and ought frequently to shift his company.
Jonathan Swift.    
  199
 
  Proper words in proper places make the true definition of a style.
Jonathan Swift.    
  200
 
  The court, which used to be the standard of propriety and correctness of speech, ever since continued the worst school in England for that accomplishment.
Jonathan Swift.    
  201
 
  The best English historian, when his style grows antiquated, will be only considered as a tedious relater of facts, and perhaps consulted to furnish materials for some future collector.
Jonathan Swift.    
  202
 
  Simplicity, without which no human performance can arrive to perfection.
Jonathan Swift.    
  203
 
  The scholars of Ireland seem not to have the least conception of a style, but run on in a flat phraseology, often mingled with barbarous terms.
Jonathan Swift.    
  204
 
  Poets, although not insensible how much our language was already over-stocked with monosyllables, yet, to save time and pains, introduced that barbarous custom of abbreviating words to fit them to the measure of their verses.
Jonathan Swift.    
  205
 
  The common fluency of speech in many men, and most women, is owing to a scarcity of matter, and a scarcity of words; for whosoever is a master of language, and hath a mind full of ideas, will be apt, in speaking, to hesitate upon the choice of both.
Jonathan Swift.    
  206
 
  It is with theories as with wells: you may see to the bottom of the deepest if there be any water there, while another shall pass for wondrous profound when ’tis merely shallow, dark, and empty.
Jonathan Swift.    
  207
 
  Time is painted with a lock before, and bald behind, signifying thereby that we must take time by the forelock; for, when it is once past, there is no recalling it.
Jonathan Swift.    
  208
 
  No preacher is listened to but Time, which gives us the same train of thought that elder people have tried in vain to put into our heads before.
Jonathan Swift.    
  209
 
  If the learned would not sometimes submit to the ignorant, the old to the weaknesses of the young, there would be nothing but everlasting variance in the world.
Jonathan Swift.    
  210
 
  I used to wonder how a man of birth and spirit could endure to be wholly insignificant and obscure in a foreign country, when he might live with lustre in his own.
Jonathan Swift.    
  211
 
  Exploding many things under the name of trifles is a very false proof either of wisdom or magnanimity, and a great check to virtuous actions with regard to fame.
Jonathan Swift.    
  212
 
  While it is so difficult to learn the springs and motives of some facts, it is no wonder they should be so grossly misrepresented to the public by curious inquisitive heads.
Jonathan Swift.    
  213
 
  To be vain is rather a mark of humility than pride. Vain men delight in telling what honours have been done them, what great company they have kept, and the like; by which they plainly confess that these honours were more than their due, and such as their friends would not believe if they had not been told: whereas a man truly proud thinks the honours below his merit, and scorns to boast.
Jonathan Swift.    
  214
 
  If vice cannot wholly be eradicated, it ought to be confined to particular objects.
Jonathan Swift.    
  215
 
  Our grandchildren will see a few rags hung up in Westminster Hall which cost an hundred millions,—whereof they are paying the arrears,—and boast that their grandfathers were rich and great.
Jonathan Swift.    
  216
 
  One man pursues power in order to wealth, and another wealth in order to power, which last is the safer way, and generally followed.
Jonathan Swift.    
  217
 
  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.    
  218
 
  I have seen the dullest men aiming at wit, and others with as little pretensions affecting politeness in manners and discourse.
Jonathan Swift.    
  219
 
  Learned women have lost all credit by their impertinent talkativeness and conceit.
Jonathan Swift.    
  220
 
  Many words deserve to be thrown out of our language, and not a few antiquated to be restored, on account of their energy and sound.
Jonathan Swift.    
  221
 
  In London they clip their words after one manner about the court, another in the city, and a third in the suburbs; all which reduced to writing would entirely confound orthography.
Jonathan Swift.    
  222
 
  This disposition to shorten our words, by retrenching the vowels, is nothing else but a tendency to lapse into the barbarity of those northern nations from whom we are descended, and whose languages all labour under the same defect.
Jonathan Swift.    
  223
 
  They have joined the most obdurate consonants without one intervening vowel, only to shorten a syllable; so that most of the books we see now-a-days are full of those manglings and abbreviations.
Jonathan Swift.    
  224
 
  Several clergymen, otherwise little fond of obscure terms, are in their sermons very liberal of all those which they find in ecclesiastical writers, as if it were our duty to understand them.
Jonathan Swift.    
  225
 
  Young men look rather to the past age than the present, and therefore the future may have some hopes of them.
Jonathan Swift.    
  226
 
  If Christianity were once abolished, how could the free thinkers, the strong reasoners, and the men of profound learning, be able to find another subject so calculated, in all points, whereon to display their abilities? What wonderful productions of wit should we be deprived of from those whose genius, by continual practice, hath been wholly turned upon raillery and invectives against religion, and would therefore never be able to shine or distinguish themselves upon any other subject! We are daily complaining of the great decline of wit among us, and would take away the greatest, perhaps the only topic we have left…. For had an hundred such pens as these been employed on the side of religion, they would have immediately sunk into silence and oblivion.
Jonathan Swift: Argument against Abolishing Christianity.    
  227
 
  I procrastinate more than I did twenty years ago, and have several things to finish which I put off to twenty years hence.
Jonathan Swift: Letter to Pope.    
  228
 
  Although virtuous men do sometimes accidentally make their way to preferment, yet the world is so corrupted that no man can reasonably hope to be rewarded in it merely on account of his virtue.
Jonathan Swift: Miscell.    
  229
 
  Xenophon tells us that the city contained about ten thousand houses; and allowing one man to every house, who could have any share in the government, (the rest consisting of women, children, and servants,) and making other obvious abatements, these tyrants, if they had been careful to adhere together, might have been a majority even of the people collectively.
Jonathan Swift: On the Contests of Athens and Rome.    
  230
 
  I would engage to furnish you with a catalogue of English books, published within the compass of seven years past, which at the first hand would cost you a hundred pounds, wherein you shall not be able to find ten lines together of common grammar or common sense.  231
  These two evils, ignorance and want of taste, have produced a third; I mean the continual corruption of our English tongue, which, without some timely remedy, will suffer more by the false refinements of twenty years past, than it hath been improved in the foregoing hundred.
Jonathan Swift: Tatler, No. 230.    
  232
 
  I should be glad to see you the instrument of introducing into our style that simplicity which is the best and truest ornament of most things in life, which the politer ages always aimed at in their building and dress, simplex munditiis, as well as their productions of wit. It is manifest that all new affected modes of speech, whether borrowed from the court, the town, or the theatre, are the first perishing parts in any language; and, as I could prove by many hundred instances, have been so in ours. The writings of Hooker, who was a country clergyman, and of Parsons the Jesuit, both in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, are in a style that, with very few allowances, would not offend any present reader, and are much more clear and intelligible than those of Sir Harry Wotton, Sir Robert Naunton, Osborn, Daniel the historian, and several others who writ later; but being men of the court, and affecting the phrases then in fashion, they are often either not to be understood, or appear perfectly ridiculous.
Jonathan Swift: Tatler, No. 230.    
  233
 
  Your inattention I cannot pardon: Pope has the same defect, neither is Bolingbroke untinged with it.
Jonathan Swift: To Gay.    
  234
 
  Have you not observed that there is a lower kind of discretion and regularity, which seldom fails of raising men to the highest stations in the court, the church, and the law? Did you never observe one of your clerks cutting his paper with a blunt ivory knife? Did you ever know the knife to fail going the true way? Whereas if he had used a razor or a penknife, he had odds against himself of spoiling a whole sheet. I have twenty times compared the notion of that ivory implement to those talents that thrive best at court.
Jonathan Swift: To Lord Bolingbroke.    
  235
 
  These look up to you with reverence, and would be animated by the sight of him at whose soul they have taken fire in his writings.
Jonathan Swift: To Pope.    
  236
 
 
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