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Jonathan Swift Quotes

45 of the best book quotes from Jonathan Swift
01
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I winked at my own littleness, as people do at their own faults.
Jonathan Swift
author
Gulliver's Travels
book
Gulliver
character
self-esteem
self-conscious
concepts
02
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The use of speech was to make us understand one another, and to receive information of facts.
03
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You have clearly proved that ignorance, idleness, and vice, are the proper ingredients for qualifying a legislator.
04
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Laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied by those whose interest and abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them.
05
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No person can disobey reason, without giving up his claim to be a rational creature.
06
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Regard to good morals than to great abilities; for, since government is necessary to mankind, they believe, that the common size of human understanding is fitted to some station or other; and that Providence never intended to make the management of public affairs a mystery to be comprehended only by a few persons of sublime.
07
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The different nations of the world had different customs.
08
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When a great office is vacant, either by death or disgrace (which often happens,) five or six of those candidates petition the emperor to entertain his majesty and the court with a dance on the rope; and whoever jumps the highest, without falling, succeeds in the office.
09
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Many hundred large volumes have been published upon this controversy: but the books of the Big-endians have been long forbidden, and the whole party rendered incapable by law of holding employments.
10
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The cottagers and labourers keep their children at home, their business being only to till and cultivate the earth, and therefore their education is of little consequence to the public.
11
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I could not sufficiently wonder at the intrepidity of these diminutive mortals.
12
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Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old.
13
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Undoubtedly, philosophers are in the right when they tell us that nothing is great or little otherwise than by comparison.
14
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The tiny Lilliputians surmise that Gulliver’s watch may be his god, because it is that which, he admits, he seldom does anything without consulting.
15
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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.
16
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Difference in opinions has cost many millions of lives: for instance, whether flesh be bread, or bread be flesh; whether the juice of a certain berry be blood or wine.
17
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This made me reflect, how vain an attempt it is for a man to endeavor to do himself honor among those who are out of all degree of equality or comparison with him.
18
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They look upon fraud as a greater crime than theft, and therefore seldom fail to punish it with death.
19
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I enjoyed perfect health of body, and tranquility of mind; I did not feel the treachery or inconstancy of a friend, nor the injuries of a secret or open enemy.
20
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Of so little weight are the greatest services to princes, when put into the balance with a refusal to gratify their passions.
21
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My hours of leisure I spent in reading the best authors, ancient and modern, being always provided with a good number of books; and when I was ashore, in observing the manners and dispositions of the people, as well as learning their language; wherein I had a great facility, by the strength of my memory.
22
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They have a notion, that when people are met together, a short silence does much improve conversation: this I found to be true; for during those little intermissions of talk, new ideas would arise in their minds, which very much enlivened the discourse.
23
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A wife should be always a reasonable and agreeable companion, because she cannot always be young.
24
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Ingratitude is amongst them a capital crime, as we read it to have been in some other countries: for they reason thus; that whoever makes ill-returns to his benefactor, must needs be a common enemy to the rest of the mankind, from where he has received no obligations and therefore such man is not fit to live.
25
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Men are never so serious, thoughtful, and intent, as when they are at stool.
26
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“But as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which, as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real.”
27
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“These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg for sustenance for their helpless infants, who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbados.”
28
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“I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for the landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title for the children.”
29
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“After all, I am not so violently bent upon my own opinion as to reject any offer, proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap, easy, and effectual.”
30
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“It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors crowded with beggars.”
31
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“Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people who are aged, diseased, or maimed, and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken to ease the nation of so grievous an encumbrance.”
32
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“But before something of that kind shall be advanced in contradiction of that scheme, and offering a better, I desire the author or authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points.”
33
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“And secondly, there being a round million of creatures in human figure throughout this kingdom whose whole subsistence, put into a common stock, would leave them in debt two million pounds of sterling, adding those who are beggars by profession to the bulk of farmers, cottagers and labourers with their wives and children, who are beggars in effect.”
34
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“They can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing […], although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers […] as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the country of Cavan”
35
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“There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas, too frequent among us, sacrificing the poor innocent babes, I doubt, more to avoid the expense than the shame.”
36
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“Therefore, let no man talk to me of other expedients: […] of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing.”
37
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“I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is, in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance.”
38
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“But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars; it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them as those who demand our charity in the streets.”
39
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“I profess in the sincerity of my heart that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country.”
40
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“I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and perhaps be so bold to attempt an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals.”
41
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“For we [...] neither build houses (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land.”
42
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“The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders.”
43
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“And besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice (although indeed very unjustly) as a little bordering upon cruelty, which, I confess, hath always been with me the strongest objection against any project, however well intended.”
44
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“But I am not in the least pain upon that matter because it is very well known that they are every day dying and rotting by cold and famine, and filth and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected.”
45
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“Tis true, a child just dropped from its dam may be supported by her milk for a solar year with little other nourishment, at most not above the value of two shillings.”

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