We review the best reflections of the author of “Gulliver’s Travels”.
Today there are few people who do not know a fragment of “Gulliver’s Travels”, especially the part that takes place in Lilliput.
This work (which is in fact much longer and refers to multiple trips of the main character) was written by Jonathan Swift, a well-known Irish writer and clergyman characterized by his satirical critique of society.
Throughout his life, this author made multiple observations and reflections on various topics, some of which we collect in this article, in which we present a small collection of phrases by Jonathan Swift.
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50 unforgettable quotes from Jonathan Swift
Here are some fifty phrases by Jonathan Swift referring to various topics, in some cases taken from his work.
1. May you live every day of your life!
The author expresses the need to live as we want to do it, getting excited and acting according to our deepest convictions and desires.
2. The best doctors in the world are: the diet doctor, the rest doctor and the joy doctor
Phrase that reflects some of the most important elements in maintaining health and well-being.
3. When a great genius appears in the world, he can be recognized by this sign: all fools conspire against him
Swift tells us about envy towards those who stand out and attacks towards them by those who do not.
4. Nothing is constant in this world but inconstancy
This phrase reflects that everything is subject to change over time, no matter how safe it is.
5. Books: children of the brain
Phrase that reflects that literature is a form of intellectual and emotional expression.
6. A single enemy can do more harm than good than ten friends can do together.
Swift believed that those who want to harm us are going to be fierce to do so and we are going to perceive it in a more intense way than what our relatives tend to do habitually.
7. Most of the diversions to which men, boys and other animals give are imitations of the fight
The author indicates the role of aggressiveness and fighting in nature.
8. We have enough religion to hate each other, but not enough to love each other.
Despite being religious, Swift was also critical of faith and the distorted use of it as an element for confrontation and segregation.
9. Freedom of conscience is understood today not only as the freedom to believe what one wants, but also to be able to propagate that belief
The author indicates at the same time that he criticizes the attempt to force the propagation of beliefs.
10. Laws are like cobwebs, which catch the poor flies and let wasps and bumblebees pass
The author criticizes the inequity with which the laws are applied, which the powerful skip with hardly any consequences.
11. Vision is the art of seeing invisible things
Knowing how to see, knowing how to go beyond the merely perceptible, allows us to know and appreciate much more what surrounds us as well as to act accordingly.
12. It is an axiom that the one to whom everyone gives second place, has unquestionable merits to occupy the first
People who stay near the top (regardless of the life domain we are talking about) often have more than enough capabilities to reach it, sometimes even more so than the person who gets the first place.
13. Ambition often leads people to perform the vilest tasks. Therefore, to climb, the same posture is adopted as to crawl
The author criticizes those who out of ambition and greed betray, step on and destroy others.
14. Most people are like pins: their heads are not the most important thing
The author criticizes the low capacity for reflection that most people manifest, who simply let themselves be carried away without questioning anything.
15. Happy is he who does not expect anything because he will always be satisfied
Commentary that ironic about those who do not have hopes and expectations, who do not suffer disappointments but are not going to take great joys either.
16. A man should never be ashamed to admit that he was wrong, which is to say that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
It is not bad to make mistakes, and admitting to having done it only makes us capable of accepting and learning from those mistakes.
17. Everyone would like to live long, but no one would want to be old
Although almost no one wants to die, neither do we want time to pass and grow old (which on the other hand implies the fact of living). Maintaining a young and active spirit is essential.
18. Arbitrary power is a natural temptation for a prince, like wine or women for a young man, or bribery for a judge, or greed for an old man, or vanity for a woman
The author expresses the ease with which we can fall into temptation ignoring any criteria. This includes the ease of the powerful to apply their power on a whim without regulating themselves with any moral criteria.
19. Censorship is the tribute that a man pays to the public to be eminent
The changes and the daring to break with the established are not initially well seen by the majority, having initially been censored great works and discoveries.
20. Satire is a kind of mirror in which those who observe generally discover the faces of everyone except their own, the main reason why it is well received in the world and why so few are offended by it
People often laugh at satire but fail to realize that in many cases it also reflects their own behavior.
21. No wise man ever wanted to be young
The author associates wisdom with experience and youth with the lack of it. The wise man is also able to see that everything has its time, being that of youth that of experimentation that has led the wise to be where they are.
22. Although lying is a universal practice, I do not remember having heard three good lies in my entire life or even in those who were most celebrated by this faculty
We all lie at times, but this is seldom positive and even the most gifted at it often do not know how to keep their lies.
23. There are many who do not know their weakness, but there are many others who do not know their strength
Swift proposes that people tend to either overestimate or underestimate their own abilities, not recognizing themselves enough.
24. The stoic scheme of meeting our needs by lowering our desires is like cutting off our feet when we want shoes.
The author believes that we must strive to fulfill our goals, dreams and desires, however ambitious they may seem, without settling for the crumbs.
25. What some invent, the rest enlarge
This phrase tells us about the transmission of rumors and how as it passes from one person to another they tend to be exaggerated and magnified.
26. Now I am trying a very frequent experiment among modern authors, that is, to write about nothing
Swift criticizes the frequent elaboration of texts and ramblings that lead to nothing, something very common even today.
27. Beware of flattery. He is feeding you with an empty spoon.
Vanity is something that most like to be nurtured, but in reality it is often used as a method of manipulation without obtaining any real benefit.
28. We can observe in the republic of the dogs that the whole state enjoys the most absolute peace after an abundant meal, and that civil strife arises between them as soon as a large bone comes to fall into the power of some main dog, the which distributes it with a few, establishing an oligarchy or keeps it for himself, establishing a tyranny
The author criticizes the political system and the structure of the society in which he lived, with favoritism and use of power for his own benefit.
29. Elders and comets have been revered for the same reason: their long beards and their claims to predict events
Age usually involves a greater number of experiences, which allow us to compare the past with the present and make predictions about the future. This is what makes the experience of the elderly so highly valued.
30. Naturalists have observed that a flea carries other smaller fleas on its body, which in turn feed smaller fleas. And so on to infinity
The author considers that in society we tend to take advantage of each other, in such a way that someone takes advantage of someone but in turn others take advantage of him.
31. Do you want to lose your enemy? Flatter him
Again the author exposes the role of vanity when it comes to being manipulated.
32. Whoever walks attentively through the streets will undoubtedly have the happiest faces in the mourning carriages
This phrase reflects the lack of joy and dynamism visible in the day to day, the dead pretending a greater happiness when escaping from suffering.
33. The writer who wants to know how he should conduct himself in relation to posterity has only to examine in the old books what it is that he likes and what omissions he most regrets.
The author pushes us to learn from the past, and to dare to try new things to achieve new results.
34. Sir, I would like to know who was the madman who invented the kiss
The act of kissing is one of the most pleasant acts and the greatest union and intimacy between two people.
35. A brave man was the first to eat an oyster
Swift expresses the bravery of being the first to do something.
36. It is impossible that a thing so natural, so necessary and so universal as death could have been destined for humanity, by providence as an evil
Human beings are usually afraid of death, but it is something natural that we must accept that it will happen to all of us sooner or later.
37. No man will take advice, but everyone will take money. From where it follows that money is worth more than advice
Criticism of the social value given to money, as well as the difficulty in accepting advice and directions from others.
38. I’ve always believed that no matter how many shots I miss … I’ll hit the next one
This phrase reflects the need not to be defeated by failures, since with perseverance we can achieve our goals.
39. As love without self-love is capricious and volatile, esteem without love is languid and cold
The author expresses the need to love oneself to be able to give love to others, as well as to get emotionally involved with those who say love.
40. Life is a tragedy that we watch as spectators for a while, and then we play our part in it
Jonathan Swift indicates that sooner or later we have our role in life, having attended and learned from experience.
41. The best preacher is time, which makes us come to have those same thoughts that older people tried in vain to get into our heads
As we experiment, little by little and over time we can come to understand and think like those who precede us.
42. A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart
Although the economy is a part of our lives that we have to take into account, we should not act out of economic interest but out of our convictions and values.
43. Invention is the talent of young people, as judgment is older
It is usually young people who have the greatest interest in experimenting, managing to find new things never seen before due to motivation, energy, imagination and taking risks typical of age, while as we grow we tend to reach a greater understanding of things and assess more risks and benefits.
44. All moments of pleasure are balanced by an equal degree of pain or sadness
In life there are not only good or bad things, but throughout our life cycle we will experience both types of situations.
45. Power is not a blessing in itself, except when used to protect the innocent
The main objective of power should be the protection of those it leads, trying to achieve a stable and fair world for all.
46. Leisure time is the time to do something useful.
Although it seems a contradiction, our free time is usually the one that we use the most and in which we do the most significant things for our lives.
47. If a man keeps me at a distance, it consoles me that he also keeps
Whoever distances himself from us, in turn, is preventing us from maintaining a relationship that one of the parties does not want to be maintained without our having to make any effort to avoid it.
48. Apollo, the god of medicine, used to send disease. In the beginning the two trades were one and it continues to be so
The author establishes a criticism against the medicine of the time.
49. Happiness is the privilege of being well deceived
The author establishes a relationship between happiness and ignorance, so that the more ignorant we are of the difficulties, obstacles and hard and painful elements of life, the more possible it is to be happy, without worrying.
50. Promises and the crust of bread were made to be broken
The author considers that norms and promises do not always have to be kept, since circumstances may change.