Jonathan Swift quotes on good manners

Jonathan Swift quote. Fingers were made before forks and hands before knives. Image copyright Ireland Calling
Jonathan Swift quote. Fingers were made before forks and hands before knives. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Jonathan Swift set great store by good manners and basic decency. As a satirist he saw it as his role to attack human weaknesses and vices. However, it was never his aim to attack or embarrass individuals. He preferred the approach of criticising the fault rather than the person.

This approach is summed in the first lines quoted below. They are a kind living epitaph, written by Swift himself, indicating how he would like to be remembered after his death.

Jonathan Swift quote. Yet malice never was his aim. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Good manners is the art of making those people easy with whom we converse. Whoever makes the fewest people uneasy is the best bred in the room.

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A nice man is a man of nasty ideas.

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One of the very best rules of conversation is to never, say anything which any of the company wish had been left unsaid.

Jonathan Swift quote. One of the very best rules of conversation is to never, say anything which any of the company wish had been left unsaid. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Nothing is so great an example of bad manners as flattery. If you flatter all the company, you please none; If you flatter only one or two, you offend the rest.

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Jonathan Swift quote. Fingers were made before forks, and hands before knives. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Conversation is but carving!
Give no more to every guest
Than he’s able to digest.
Give him always of the prime,
And but little at a time.
Carve to all but just enough,
Let them neither starve nor stuff,
And that you may have your due,
Let your neighbour carve for you.

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If a proud man makes me keep my distance, the comfort is that he keeps his at the same time.

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Illustration of Jonathan Swift quote: "She has more goodness in her little finger, than he has in his whole body." Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Pride, ill nature, and want of sense are the three great sources of ill manners; without some one of these defects, no man will behave himself ill for want of experience, or what, in the language of fools, is called knowing the world.

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Argument, as usually managed, is the worst sort of conversation, as in books it is generally the worst sort of reading.

Jonathan Swift quote. Pride, ill nature and want of sense. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Quotes Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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