Jonathan Swift quotes on work and ambition

Jonathan Swift was very ambitious and worked hard from childhood. He went to university when he was only 15 and graduated at 19. He went on to get a masters degree at Oxford and became a Doctor of Divinity at Trinity College Dublin.

As well as carrying out his work as a priest and Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, he was a prolific writer of novels, satirical and political pamphlets, essays, letters and poems. However, he believed that the main purpose of work, ambition and power should not be to gain riches but to help others.

Jonathan Swift - I’ve always believed

Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling

The power of fortune is confessed only by the miserable; for the happy impute all their success to prudence and merit.

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I’ve always believed no matter how many shots I miss, I’m going to make the next one.

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I’ve often wished that I had clear,
For life, six hundred pounds a year;
A handsome house to lodge a friend;
A river at my garden’s end;
A terrace walk, and half a rood
Of land set out to plant a wood.

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Where there are large powers with little ambition… nature may be said to have fallen short of her purposes.

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The two maxims of any great man at court are, always to keep his countenance and never to keep his work.
Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling
Instead of dirt and poison we have rather chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax; thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light.

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Seamen have a custom, when they meet a whale, to fling him out an empty tub by way of amusement, to divert him from laying violent hands upon the ship.

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I never knew a man come to greatness or eminence who lay abed late in the morning.

Jonathan Swift quote. I never knew a man come to greatness or eminence who lay abed late in the morning. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Ambition often puts men upon doing the meanest offices; so climbing is performed in the same posture with creeping.

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Jonathan Swift I won’t quarrel with my bread and butter

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Positiveness is a good quality for preachers and orators, because he that would obtrude his thoughts and reasons upon a multitude, will convince others the more, as he appears convinced himself.

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Jonathan Swift quote They say a carpenter’s known by his chips.

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Interest is the spur of the people, but glory that of great souls.

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This evil fortune, which generally attends extraordinary men in the management of great affairs, has been imputed to divers causes, that need not be here set down, when so obvious a one occurs, if what a certain writer observes be true, that when a great genius appears in the world the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

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