Saturday, March 19, 2005

Wisdom from Swift

Some pearls from Jonathan Swift's Thoughts on Various Subjects:

No preacher is listened to but Time, which gives us the same train and turn of thought that older people have tried in vain to put into our heads before.

When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

The greatest inventions were produced in the times of ignorance, as the use of the compass, gunpowder, and printing, and by the dullest nation, as the Germans.

It is pleasant to observe how free the present age is in laying taxes on the next. FUTURE AGES SHALL TALK OF THIS; THIS SHALL BE FAMOUS TO ALL POSTERITY. Whereas their time and thoughts will be taken up about present things, as ours are now.

It is in disputes as in armies, where the weaker side sets up false lights, and makes a great noise, to make the enemy believe them more numerous and strong than they really are.

What they do in heaven we are ignorant of; what they do not we are told expressly: that they neither marry, nor are given in marriage.

Complaint is the largest tribute heaven receives, and the sincerest part of our devotion.

The common fluency of speech in many men, and most women, is owing to a scarcity of matter, and a scarcity of words; for whoever is a master of language, and hath a mind full of ideas, will be apt, in speaking, to hesitate upon the choice of both; whereas common speakers have only one set of ideas, and one set of words to clothe them in, and these are always ready at the mouth. So people come faster out of a church when it is almost empty, than when a crowd is at the door.

The preaching of divines helps to preserve well-inclined men in the course of virtue, but seldom or never reclaims the vicious.

If the men of wit and genius would resolve never to complain in their works of critics and detractors, the next age would not know that they ever had any.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.