S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.
[Jonathan Swift, a celebrated satirist, born in Dublin, Nov. 30, 1667; published The Tale of a Tub, 1704; became intimate with Bolingbroke, Pope, and Harley; appointed dean of St. Patricks, Dublin, 1713; wrote Gullivers Travels, 172627; died, after a failure of his mental faculties, October, 1745.]
The best of life is just tolerable: tis the most we can make of it.
When a quack pretended to cure agues, and wrote egoes on his sign, Swift was sure the cure was not made by a spell.
He gave a Mr. Coote a letter of introduction to Pope in these words: Though this little fellow be a justice of the peace and a member of our Irish House of Commons, yet he may not be altogether unworthy of your acquaintance.
When asked at a sheriffs dinner to drink to the trade of Ireland, he replied, Sir, I drink no memories.
When a drunken weaver staggered against him, saying he had been spinning it out.
After the dissipated Duke of Wharton had been narrating his frolics, Swift said to him, My lord, let me recommend one more to you. Take a frolic to be good: rely upon it, you will find it the pleasantest frolic you were ever engaged in.
When asked the easiest and at the same time the most difficult thing a man could do: Bolt a door.
In a letter to Bolingbroke, March 21, 1729, he said he did not wish to die here in a rage, like a poisoned rat in a hole.
Walking once with Pope and Addison, Swift stopped to look at a tree dead at the top. I shall end like it, he remarked.JOHNSON: Life. He died mad. His last words were, as Handel was announced, Ah, a German and a genius! a prodigy, admit him!
From Marlboroughs eyes the streams of dotage flow,
And Swift expires a driveller and a show.
JOHNSON: Vanity of Human Wishes.
No one could be an ill-tempered man, said Fox, who wrote so much nonsense as Swift did.
Coleridge called Swift the soul of Rabelais dwelling in a dry place.