Jonathan Swift quotes on satire and humour

Jonathan Swift is known primarily as a satirist, possibly the best satirist to have ever written in the English language. His work contains scathing attacks of people’s foolishness, greed, vanity and pomposity.

Despite his uncompromising descriptions of people’s weaknesses, he was at heart a gentle man and felt great powers should never be set against the weak or disadvantaged. He was no bully; intellectually speaking, he only picked on people his own size.

One thing that always surprised and delighted Swift was that while people were quick to recognise the faults he satirised in others, they could rarely see when the joke was on them.
Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling

That’s as well said as if I had said it myself.
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There were many times my pants were so thin I could sit on a dime and tell if it was heads or tails.

Jonathan Swift quote. There were many times my pants were so thin I could sit on a dime and tell if it was heads or tails. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Men are contented to be laughed at for their wit, but not for their folly.
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Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do 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 very few are offended with it.
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Punning is an art of harmonious jingling upon words, which, passing in at the ears, excites a titillary motion in those parts; and this, being conveyed by the animal spirits into the muscles of the face, raises the cockles of the heart.
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It is as hard to satirise well a man of distinguished vices, as to praise well a man of distinguished virtues.
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Jonathan Swift quote. Don't set your wit against a child. Image copyright Ireland Calling
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Punning is a talent which no man affects to despise but he that is without it.
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All human race would be wits. And millions miss, for one that hits.
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Strange an astrologer should die, without one wonder in the sky.

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Quotes Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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