Jonathan swift

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745). Portrait by Charles Jervas (1675-1739). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Jonathan Swift
Born November 30 1667(1667-Template:MONTHNUMBER-30)
Dublin, Ireland1
Died October 19 1745(1745-Template:MONTHNUMBER-19) (aged 77)
Pen name M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff
Occupation Satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet, priest
Language English
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin
Notable work(s) Gulliver's Travels
A Modest Proposal
A Tale of a Tub
Drapier's Letters

Rev. Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 - 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish poet,satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for the Whigs, then for the Tories), and cleric who became Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

He is remembered for works such as Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier's Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift has been called the foremost prose satirist in the English language;[1] he is less well known for his poetry. Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms — such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B. Drapier — or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.



Jonathan Swift was born at No. 7, Hoey's Court, Dublin, and was the second child and only son of Jonathan Swift (a second cousin of John Dryden) and wife Abigail Erick (or Herrick), paternal grandson of Thomas Swift and wife Elizabeth Dryden, daughter of Nicholas Dryden (brother of Sir Erasmus Dryden, 1st Baronet Dryden) and wife Mary Emyley. His father was Irish born and his mother was the sister of the vicar of Frisby-on-the-Wreake, England. Swift arrived seven months after his father's untimely death. Most of the facts of Swift's early life are obscure, confused and sometimes contradictory. It is widely believed that his mother returned to England when Jonathan was still very young, then leaving him to be raised by his father's family. His uncle Godwin took primary responsibility for the young Jonathan, sending him with one of his cousins to Kilkenny College (also attended by the philosopher George Berkeley).

In 1682 he attended Dublin University (Trinity College, Dublin), receiving his B.A. in 1686. Swift was studying for his Master's degree when political troubles in Ireland surrounding the Glorious Revolution forced him to leave for England in 1688.

His mother helped him get a position as secretary and personal assistant of Sir William Temple at Moor Park, Farnham. Temple was an English diplomat who, having arranged the Triple Alliance of 1668, retired from public service to his country estate to tend his gardens and write his memoirs. Gaining the confidence of his employer, Swift "was often trusted with matters of great importance."Template:Cite quote Within three years of their acquaintance, Temple had introduced his secretary to William III], and sent him to London to urge the King to consent to a bill for triennial Parliaments.

When Swift took up his residence at Moor Park, he met Esther Johnson, then 8 years old, the fatherless daughter of one of the household servants. Swift acted as her tutor and mentor, giving her the nickname "Stella", and the two maintained a close but ambiguous relationship for the rest of Esther's life.

Swift left Temple in 1690 for Ireland because of his health, but returned to Moor Park the following year. The illness, fits of vertigo or giddiness — now known to be Ménière's disease — would continue to plague Swift throughout his life. During this second stay with Temple, Swift received his M.A. from Hertford College, Oxford in 1692. Then, apparently despairing of gaining a better position through Temple's patronage, Swift left Moor Park to become an ordained priest in the Established Church of Ireland and in 1694 he was appointed to the prebend of Kilroot in the Diocese of Connor, with his parish located at Kilroot, near Carrickfergus in County Antrim.

Swift appears to have been miserable in his new position, being isolated in a small, remote community far from the centers of power and influence. While at Kilroot, however, Swift may well have become romantically involved with Jane Waring. A letter from him survives, offering to remain if she would marry him and promising to leave and never return to Ireland if she refused. She presumably refused, because Swift left his post and returned to England and Temple's service at Moor Park in 1696, and he remained there until Temple's death. There he was employed in helping to prepare Temple's memoirs and correspondence for publication. During this time Swift wrote The Battle of the Books, a satire responding to critics of Temple's Essay upon Ancient and Modern Learning (1690). Battle was however not published until 1704.

On 27 January 1699 Temple died. Swift stayed on briefly in England to complete the editing of Temple's memoirs, and perhaps in the hope that recognition of his work might earn him a suitable position in England. However, Swift's work made enemies of some of Temple's family and friends who objected to indiscretions included in the memoirs. His next move was to approach King William directly, based on his imagined connection through Temple and a belief that he had been promised a position. This failed so miserably that he accepted the lesser post of secretary and chaplain to the Earl of Berkeley, one of the Lords Justices of Ireland. However, when he reached Ireland he found that the secretaryship had already been given to another. But he soon obtained the living of Laracor, Agher, and Rathbeggan, and the prebend of Dunlavin in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

At Laracor, a mile or two from Trim, County Meath, and twenty miles (32 km) from Dublin, Swift ministered to a congregation of about fifteen people, and had abundant leisure for cultivating his garden, making a canal (after the Dutch fashion of Moor Park), planting willows, and rebuilding the vicarage. As chaplain to Lord Berkeley, he spent much of his time in Dublin and traveled to London frequently over the next ten years. In 1701, Swift published, anonymously, a political pamphlet, A Discourse on the Contests and Dissentions in Athens and Rome.


In February 1702, Swift received his Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity College, Dublin. That spring he traveled to England and returned to Ireland in October, accompanied by Esther Johnson—now twenty years old—and his friend Rebecca Dingley, another member of William Temple's household. There is a great mystery and controversy over Swift's relationship with Esther Johnson nicknamed "Stella". ManyTemplate:Who hold that they were secretly married in 1716.

During his visits to England in these years Swift published A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books (1704) and began to gain a reputation as a writer. This led to close, lifelong friendships with Alexander Pope, John Gay, and John Arbuthnot, forming the core of the Martinus Scriblerus Club (founded in 1713).

Swift became increasingly active politically in these years. From 1707 to 1709 and again in 1710, Swift was in London, unsuccessfully urging upon the Whig administration of Lord Godolphin the claims of the Irish clergy to the First-Fruits and Twentieths ("Queen Anne's Bounty"), which brought in about £2,500 a year, already granted to their brethren in England. He found the opposition Tory leadership more sympathetic to his cause and Swift was recruited to support their cause as editor of the Examiner when they came to power in 1710. In 1711, Swift published the political pamphlet "The Conduct of the Allies," attacking the Whig government for its inability to end the prolonged war with France. The incoming Tory government conducted secret (and illegal) negotiations with France, resulting in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) ending the War of the Spanish Succession.

Swift was part of the inner circle of the Tory government, and often acted as mediator between Henry St. John (Viscount Bolingbroke) the secretary of state for foreign affairs (1710–15) and Robert Harley (Earl of Oxford) lord treasurer and prime minister (1711–1714). Swift recorded his experiences and thoughts during this difficult time in a long series of letters to Esther Johnson, later collected and published as The Journal to Stella. The animosity between the two Tory leaders eventually led to the dismissal of Harley in 1714. With the death of Queen Anne and accession of George I that year, the Whigs returned to power and the Tory leaders were tried for treason for conducting secret negotiations with France.

Also during these years in London, Swift became acquainted with the Vanhomrigh family and became involved with one of the daughters, Esther, yet another fatherless young woman and another ambiguous relationship to confuse Swift's biographers. Swift furnished Esther with the nickname "Vanessa" and she features as one of the main characters in his poem Cadenus and Vanessa. The poem and their correspondence suggests that Esther was infatuated with Swift, and that he may have reciprocated her affections, only to regret this and then try to break off the relationship. Esther followed Swift to Ireland in 1714, where there appears to have been a confrontation, possibly involving Esther Johnson. Esther Vanhomrigh died in 1723 at the age of 35. Another lady with whom he had a close but less intense relationship was Anne Long, a toast of the Kit-Cat Club.


File:St. Patrick's Cathedral Swift bust.jpg

Before the fall of the Tory government, Swift hoped that his services would be rewarded with a church appointment in England. However, Queen Anne appeared to have taken a dislike to Swift and thwarted these efforts. The best position his friends could secure for him was the Deanery of St. Patrick's, Dublin. With the return of the Whigs, Swift's best move was to leave England and he returned to Ireland in disappointment, a virtual exile, to live "like a rat in a hole".

Once in Ireland, however, Swift began to turn his pamphleteering skills in support of Irish causes, producing some of his most memorable works: Proposal for Universal Use of Irish Manufacture (1720), Drapier's Letters (1724), and A Modest Proposal (1729), earning him the status of an Irish patriot.

Also during these years, he began writing his masterpiece, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts, by Lemuel Gulliver, first a surgeon, and then a captain of several ships, better known as Gulliver's Travels. Much of the material reflects his political experiences of the preceding decade. For instance, the episode in which the giant Gulliver puts out the Lilliputian palace fire by urinating on it can be seen as a metaphor for the Tories' illegal peace treaty; having done a good thing in an unfortunate manner. In 1726 he paid a long-deferred visit to London, taking with him the manuscript of Gulliver's Travels. During his visit he stayed with his old friends Alexander Pope, John Arbuthnot and John Gay, who helped him arrange for the anonymous publication of his book. First published in November 1726, it was an immediate hit, with a total of three printings that year and another in early 1727. French, German, and Dutch translations appeared in 1727, and pirated copies were printed in Ireland.

Swift returned to England one more time in 1727 and stayed with Alexander Pope once again. The visit was cut short when Swift received word that Esther Johnson was dying and rushed back home to be with her. On 28 January 1728, Esther died; Swift had prayed at her bedside, even composing prayers for her comfort. Swift could not bear to be present at the end, but on the night of her death he began to write his The Death of Mrs. Johnson. He was too ill to attend the funeral at St. Patrick's. Many years later, a lock of hair, assumed to be Esther Johnson's, was found in his desk, wrapped in a paper bearing the words, "Only a woman's hair."


Final yearsEdit

Death became a frequent feature in Swift's life from this point. In 1731 he wrote Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift, his own obituary (published in 1739). In 1732, his good friend and collaborator John Gay died. In 1735, John Arbuthnot, another friend from his days in London, died.

In 1738 Swift began to show signs of illness, and in 1742 he appears to have suffered a stroke, losing the ability to speak and realizing his worst fears of becoming mentally disabled. ("I shall be like that tree," he once said, "I shall die at the top.") To protect him from unscrupulous hangers on, who had begun to prey on the great man, his closest companions had him declared of "unsound mind and memory."

However, it was long believed by many that Swift was really insane at this point. In his book Literature and Western Man, author J.B. Priestley even cites the final chapters of Gulliver's Travels as proof of Swift's approaching "insanity".

In part VIII of his series, The Story of Civilization, Will Durant describes the final years of Swift's life as such:

Definite symptoms of madness appeared in 1738. In 1741 guardians were appointed to take care of his affairs and watch lest in his outbursts of violence he should do himself harm. In 1742 he suffered great pain from the inflammation of his left eye, which swelled to the size of an egg; five attendants had to restrain him from tearing out his eye. He went a whole year without uttering a word."[2]

In 1744, Alexander Pope died. Then, on October 19, 1745, Swift died. After being laid out in public view for the people of Dublin to pay their last respects, he was buried in his own cathedral by Esther Johnson's side, in accordance with his wishes. The bulk of his fortune (£12,000) was left to found a hospital for the mentally ill, originally known as St. Patrick’s Hospital for Imbeciles, which opened in 1757, and which still exists as a psychiatric hospital.

Epitaph Edit

File:St. Patrick's Cathedral Swift epitaph.jpg
Text extracted from the introduction to The Journal to Stella by George A. Aitken and from other sources)

Jonathan Swift wrote his own epitaph:

Hic depositum est Corpus
Hujus Ecclesiæ Cathedralis
Ubi sæva Indignatio
Cor lacerare nequit,
Abi Viator
Et imitare, si poteris,
Strenuum pro virili
Libertatis Vindicatorem.
Obiit 19º Die Mensis Octobris
A.D. 1745 Anno Ætatis 78º.

The literal translation of which is: "Here is laid the Body of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Sacred Theology, Dean of this Cathedral Church, where fierce Indignation can no longer injure the Heart. Go forth, Voyager, and copy, if you can, this vigorous (to the best of his ability) Champion of Liberty. He died on the 19th Day of the Month of October, A.D. 1745, in the 78th Year of his Age."

William Butler Yeats freely translated it from the Latin as:

Swift has sailed into his rest.
Savage indignation there
cannot lacerate his breast.
Imitate him if you dare,
world-besotted traveller; he
served human liberty.


Swift was a prolific writer, notable for his satires. The most recent collection of his prose works (Herbert Davis, ed. Basil Blackwell, 1965-) comprises fourteen volumes. A recent edition of his complete poetry (Pat Rodges, ed. Penguin, 1983) is 953 pages long. One edition of his correspondence (David Woolley, ed. P. Lang, 1999) fills three volumes.

Critical introductionEdit

by John Nichol

Dryden, then the veteran of our literature, sitting in the dictator’s chair left vacant by Ben Jonson and waiting for Samuel Johnson, having perused an ode on the Athenian Society dating from Moor Park, February 14, 1691, hazarded the prediction: "Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet." The unforgiven criticism has received from the judgment of posterity an assent qualified by respect for the strongest satirist of England and for an ability which cannot help making itself here and there manifest even in his verse.

Swift’s satire is of two kinds: the party polemic of his earlier years, which culminated in 1724 in the Drapier’s Letters, and the expression of a misanthropy as genuine as that of Shakespeare’s Timon, of a rage directed not against Dissent or Church or Whig or Tory, but mankind, finding mature vent in the most terrible libel that has ever been imagined — a libel on the whole of his race — the hideous immortal mockery of the closing voyage of Gulliver. Such a work could only have been written by one born a cynic, doubly soured by some mysterious affliction, and by having had

‘To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to ride, to run,
To spend, to give, to want, to be undone,’

till he had lost any original capacity he may have had for becoming a poet. His genius, moreover, was from the first as far removed from that peculiar to poetry as it is possible for any genius of the first rank to be.

The power of Swift’s prose was the terror of his own, and remains the wonder of after times. With the exception of a few clumsy paragraphs thrown off in haste, he says what he means in the homeliest native English that can be conceived. Disdaining even those refinements or shades of expression to which most writers touching on delicate or dangerous subjects feel compelled to resort, he owes almost nothing to foreign influence. "I am," he wrote, "for every man’s working on his own materials, and producing only what he can find within himself".: he consistently carved everything he had to set before his readers out of the plain facts with which he professed to deal.

In his masterpieces there is scarce a hint from any known source, rarely a quotation: his sentences are self-sufficient, and fit the occasion as a glove the hand. In the Tale of a Tub he anticipates Teufelsdröckh in his contempt for trappings of speech as of person; he regarded fine language as leather and prunella. Though Swift’s Allegories are abundant, he disdained ordinary metaphor, in the spirit in which Bentham defined poetry as misrepresentation.

But towards the close of the seventeenth and during the early years of the eighteenth century, almost every English writer — apart from those purely scientific — had to pay toll to what he called the Muses. Bunyan seems to have written his bad lines to italicise the distinction between the most highly imaginative prose and poetry. In the next age no one who addressed the general public could escape the trial; and Swift’s verses are at least as worthy of preservation as Addison’s.

In following a fashion he also gratified a talent,— nor Pope nor Byron had a greater,— for fluent rhyme. Generally careless, often harsh, his versification is seldom laboured: his pen may run till it wearies the reader; but we see no reason in fall of energy why Swift’s Hudibrastic jingle should cease, any more than why the waves of Spenser’s stanza should not roll for ever.

The other merits of our author’s verse are those of his prose — condensation, pith, always the effect, generally the reality, of sincere purpose, and, with few exceptions, simplicity and directness. The exceptions are in his unhappy Pindaric odes, and some of his later contributions to the pedantry of the age. The former could scarcely be worse, for they have almost the contortions of Cowley, without his occasional flow and elevation. Take the following lines from the "Athenian Ode:"

  ‘Just so the mighty Nile has suffered in its fame
  Because ’tis said (and perhaps only said)
We ’ve found a little inconsiderable head
  That feeds the huge, unequal stream.’

And again:

  ‘And then how much and nothing is mankind,
  Whose reason is weighed down by popular air,
Who by that vainly talks of baffling death:
  And hopes to lengthen life by a transfusion of breath,
Which yet whoe’er examines right will find
  To be an art as vain as bottling up of wind.’

As in Congreve’s "Address to Silence," the force of cacophony can no further go. It may be said that these lines were the products of "green, unknowing youth," but during the same years the same writer was maturing the Tale of a Tub.

Swift had no ear save for the discords of the world, and in such cases a stiff regular measure, which is a sort of rhythmic policeman, is the only safe guard. Pindaric flights, unless under the guidance of the genius that makes music as it runs, invariably result in confusion worse confounded. Not least among our debts to Dryden may be ranked his fencing the ode from his cousin Swift.

Of the pseudo-classic efforts of the latter, "Cadenus and Vanessa," published in 1723, probably written about ten years earlier, may be taken as a type. No selection from his verses would be esteemed satisfactory that did not exhibit a sample of this once celebrated production: but, apart from the tragic interest of the personal warning it conveys, it is, as M. Taine says, "a threadbare allegory in which the author’s prosaic freaks tear his Greek frippery." The same critic justly remarks that Swift "wore his mythology like a wig: that his pleading before Venus is like a legal procedure," and that he habitually "turns his classic wine to vinegar." The other writers of the time had turned it into milk and water, but Prior and the rest had a grace to which Swift was a stranger. Their laughter is genuine though light; his was funereal and sardonic. His pleasantry is rarely pleasant, and he is never at heart more gloomy than when he affects to be gay.

Most of his occasional verses, written at intervals from 1690 till 1733, are either frigid compliments or thinly veiled invectives, many of which, like the epigrams that disfigure the otherwise exquisite pages of Herrick, have all the coarseness with only half the wit of Martial. His addresses to women are, as might be expected, singularly unfortunate. He says truly of himself that he

‘could praise, esteem, approve,
But understood not what it was to love.’

He can never get out of his satiric pulpit, and while saluting his mistresses as nymphs, he lectures them as school-girls. His verses to Stella, whom he came as near to loving as was for him possible, and whose death certainly hastened his mental ruin, are as unimpassioned as those to Vanessa, with whose affections he merely trifled.

Swift’s tendency to dwell on the meaner, and even the revolting facts of life, pardonable in his prose, is unpardonable in those tributes to Venus Cloacina, in which he intrudes on a lady’s boudoir with the eye of a surgeon fresh from a dissecting-room or an hospital. His society verses are like those of a man writing with his feet, for he delights to trample on what others caress. Often he seems, among singing birds, a vulture screeching over carrion.

Of Swift’s graver satiric pieces, the Rhapsody on Poetry has the fatal drawback of suggesting a comparison with The Dunciad. In The Beast’s Confession, vivid and trenchant though it be, the author appears occasionally to intrude on the gardens of Prior and Gay. Had he been an artist in verse, he might have written something in English more like the sixth satire of Juvenal than Churchill ever succeeded in doing. But Swift despised art: he rode rough-shod, on his ambling cynic steed, through bad double rhyme and halting rhythm, to his end.

War with the cold steel of prose was his business: his poems are the mere side-lights and pastimes of a man too grim to join heartily in any game. Only here and there among them, as in the strange medley of pathos and humour on his own death, there is a flash from the eyes which Pope — good hater and good friend — said were azure as the heavens, a touch of the hand that was never weary of giving gifts to the poor and blows to the powerful, a reflection of the universal condottiere, misanthrope and sceptic, who has a claim to our forbearance in that he detested, as Johnson and as Byron detested, cowardice and cant.[3]

Major prose worksEdit

File:Jonathan Swift - Project Gutenberg eText 18250.jpg
File:Swift works.png

Swift's first major prose work, A Tale of a Tub, demonstrates many of the themes and stylistic techniques he would employ in his later work. It is at once wildly playful and funny while being pointed and harshly critical of its targets. In its main thread, the Tale recounts the exploits of three sons, representing the main threads of Christianity, who receive a bequest from their father of a coat each, with the added instructions to make no alterations whatsoever. However, the sons soon find that their coats have fallen out of current fashion, and begin to look for loopholes in their father's will that will let them make the needed alterations. As each finds his own means of getting around their father's admonition, they struggle with each other for power and dominance. Inserted into this story, in alternating chapters, the narrator includes a series of whimsical "digressions" on various subjects.

In 1690, Sir William Temple, Swift's patron, published An Essay upon Ancient and Modern Learning a defense of classical writing (see Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns) holding up the Epistles of Phalaris as an example. William Wotton responded to Temple with Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning (1694) showing that the Epistles were a later forgery. A response by the supporters of the Ancients was then made by Charles Boyle (later the 4th Earl of Orrery and father of Swift's first biographer). A further retort on the Modern side came from Richard Bentley, one of the pre-eminent scholars of the day, in his essay Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris (1699). However, the final words on the topic belong to Swift in his Battle of the Books (1697, published 1704) in which he makes a humorous defense on behalf of Temple and the cause of the Ancients.

In 1708, a cobbler named John Partridge published a popular almanac of astrological predictions. Because Partridge falsely determined the deaths of several church officials, Swift attacked Partridge in Predictions For The Ensuing Year by Isaac Bickerstaff, a parody predicting that Partridge would die on March 29. Swift followed up with a pamphlet issued on March 30 claiming that Partridge had in fact died, which was widely believed despite Partridge's statements to the contrary. According to other sources,(Citation needed) Richard Steele uses the personae of Isaac Bickerstaff and was the one who wrote about the "death" of John Partridge and published it in The Spectator, not Jonathan Swift.*

Drapier's Letters (1724) was a series of pamphlets against the monopoly granted by the English government to William Wood to provide the Irish with copper coinage. It was widely believed that Wood would need to flood Ireland with debased coinage in order make a profit. In these "letters" Swift posed as a shop-keeper—a draper—in order to criticize the plan. Swift's writing was so effective in undermining opinion in the project that a reward was offered by the government to anyone disclosing the true identity of the author. Though hardly a secret (on returning to Dublin after one of his trips to England, Swift was greeted with a banner, "Welcome Home, Drapier") no one turned Swift in. The government eventually resorted to hiring none other than Sir Isaac Newton to certify the soundness of Wood's coinage to counter Swift's accusations. In "Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift" (1739) Swift recalled this as one of his best achievements.

Gulliver's Travels, a large portion of which Swift wrote at Woodbrook House in County Laois, was published in 1726. It is regarded as his masterpiece. As with his other writings, the Travels was published under a pseudonym, the fictional Lemuel Gulliver, a ship's surgeon and later a sea captain. Some of the correspondence between printer Benj. Motte and Gulliver's also-fictional cousin negotiating the book's publication has survived. Though it has often been mistakenly thought of and published in bowdlerized form as a children's book, it is a great and sophisticated satire of human nature based on Swift's experience of his times. Gulliver's Travels is an anatomy of human nature, a sardonic looking-glass, often criticized for its apparent misanthropy. It asks its readers to refute it, to deny that it has adequately characterized human nature and society. Each of the four books—recounting four voyages to mostly-fictional exotic lands—has a different theme, but all are attempts to deflate human pride. Critics hail the work as a satiric reflection on the shortcomings of Enlightenment thought.

In 1729, Swift published A Modest Proposal]] for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick, a satire in which the narrator, with intentionally grotesque logic, recommends that Ireland's poor escape their poverty by selling their children as food to the rich: ”I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food...” Following the satirical form, he introduces the reforms he is actually suggesting by deriding them:

Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients ... taxing our absentees ... using [nothing] except what is of our own growth and manufacture ... rejecting ... foreign luxury ... introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance ... learning to love our country ... quitting our animosities and factions ... teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants.... Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, 'till he hath at least some glympse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.</blockquote>

Recognition Edit

John Ruskin named Swift as one of the three people in history who were the most influential for him.[4]



  • "Ode to the Athenian Society," in Supplement To The Fifth Volume Of The Athenian Gazette. London: John Dunton, 1692.
  • Baucis and Philemon: Imitated from Ovid. Oxford, UK: Leon LIchfield, 1709; London: H. Hills, 1710.
  • The Fable of Midas. London: John Morphew, 1712.
  • The Bubble: A poem. London: Benj. Tooke, 1721.
  • Apollo's Edict. 1721.
  • Cadenus and Vanessa. A poem. Dublin: 1726.
  • An Epistle Upon An Epistle; from a certain Doctor To a certain great Lord: Being A Christmas-Box for D.D---y. Dublin: 1730.
  • An Epistle To His Excellency John Lord Carteret, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Dublin: 1730.
  • A Libel On D--------D-------And A Certain Great Lord. 1730.
  • Lady A--S--N Weary of the Dean (single sheet). 1730.
  • A Panegyric On the Reverend Dean Swift. London: J. Roberts / N. Blandford, 1730..
  • An Apology To The Lady C--R--T. 1730.
  • Traulus ... in a dialogue between Tom and Robin. (2 volumes), 1730.
  • A Soldier And A Scholar; or, The Lady's Judgment Upon those two Characters In the Persons of Captain---and D--n S--T. London: J. Roberts, 1732;
    • also published as The Grand Question Debated. London: A. Moore, 1732.
  • An Elegy On Dicky and Dolly, With the Virgin: A poem; to which is added, The Narrative of D.S. when he was in the North of Ireland. Dublin: James Hoey, 1732.
  • The Lady's Dressing Room. London: J. Roberts, 1732.
  • An Epistle To A Lady, Who desired the Author to make Verses on Her, In The Heroick Stile; also A Poem, Occasion'd by Reading Dr. Young's Satires, Called the Universal Passion. Dublin & London: J. Wilford, 1734 [1733].
  • On Poetry: A rapsody. Dublin & London: J. Huggonson, 1733.
  • A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed. Written for the Honour of the Fair Sex ; Pars minima est ipsa Puella sui. Ovid Remed. Amoris; to Which Are Added, Strephon and Chloe; and Cassinus and Peter. Dublin & London: J. Roberts, 1734.
  • "The Legion Club," in S---t contra omnes: An Irish miscellany. Dublin & London: R. Amy & Mrs. Dodd, 1736.
  • The Beasts Confession: To the priest, on Observing how most Men mistake their own Talents. Written in the Year 1732. Dublin: George Faulkner, 1738.
  • Verses On The Death Of Dr. Swift. Written by Himself: Nov. 1731. London: C. Bathurst, 1739.
  • Poetical Works (edited by Thomas Park). (4 volumes), London: Charles Whittingham, for J. Sharpe, 1806.
  • The Poems of Jonathan Swift (edited by William Ernst Browning). (2 volumes), London: George Bell, 1910. Volume I, Volume II
  • The Poems of Jonathan Swift (edited by Harold Williams). (3 volumes), Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1937; revised, 1958.
  • Collected Poems (edited by Joseph Horrell). (2 volumes), London: Routledge & Kegan Paul / Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958.
  • Poetical Works (edited by Herbert Davis). Oxford, UK: Standard Authors / London: Oxford University Press, 1967.
  • The Complete Poems (edited by Pat Rogers). London: Penguin Books / New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983.


  • A Tale Of A Tub: Written for the universal improvement of mankind which is added, An Account of a Battel Between the Antient and Modern Books in St. James's Library. London: John Nutt, 1704)
    • enlarged as A Tale of a Tub ... the fifth edition; with the author's apology and explanatory notes. London: John Nutt, 1710.
  • Travels Into Several Remote Nations Of The World, in Four Parts; by Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships. (2 volumes), London: Benj. Motte, 1726
    • enlarged as Travels Into Several Remote Nations Of The World ... to which are prefix'd, Several Copies of Verses Explanatory and Commendatory; never before printed. (2 volumes), London: Benj. Motte, 1728.
    • Gulliver's Travels (edited by Robert A. Greenberg). New York: Norton, 1970.


  • A Discourse of the Contests and Dissensions between The Nobles and the Commons In Athens and Rome, with The Consequences they had upon both those States. London: John Nutt, 1701; Boston, 1728.
  • A Project For The Advancement of Religion, and the Reformation of Manners. London: Benjamin Tooke, 1709.
  • A Meditation Upon A Broom-Stick; and somewhat beside, of the same author's. London: E. Curll, 1710.
  • The Conduct Of The Allies, and Of The Late Ministry, in Beginning and Carrying on the Present War. London:John Morphew, 1712 [1711].
  • A Proposal For Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining The English Tongue; in a letter to the Most Honourable Robert Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain. London: Benj. Tooke, 1712.
  • The Lucubrations Of Isaac Bickerstaff Esq. (with Richrd Steele, et al). (5 volumes), London: E. Nutt, A. Bell, J. Darby, A. Bettesworth, J. Pemberton, J. Hooke, C. Rivington, R. Cruttenden, T. Cox, J. Battley, F. Clay & E. Simon, 1720.
  • Fraud Detected; or, The Hibernian patriot: Containing ll the Drapier's Letters to the People of Ireland, on Wood's Coinage, &c. Dublin: George Faulkner, 1725.
  • A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children Of Poor People From being a Burthen to their Parents, Or The Country, And For making them Beneficial to the Publick. Dublin: S. Harding, 1729.
  • The Life And Genuine Character Of Doctor Swift, Written by Himself. London: J. Roberts, 1733.
  • A Complete Collection Of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation, According to the Most Polite Mode and Method Now Used at Court, and in the Best Companies of England; in three dialogues (as "Simon Wagstaff"). London: B. Motte / C. Bathurst, 1738)
    • also published as A Treatise On Polite Conversation. Dublin: George Faulkner, 1738)
    • dramatized as Tittle Tattle; or, Taste a-la-Mode: A New Farce (as "Timothy Fribble"). London: R. Griffiths, 1749.
  • Directions To Servants. Dublin: George Faulkner, 1745
    • enlarged as Directions To Servants In General. London: R. Dodsley / M. Cooper, 1745.
  • The Last Will And Testament Of Jonathan Swift, D.D. Dublin & London: M. Cooper, 1746.
  • The History of the Four Last Years of the Queen. London: A. Millar, 1758.
  • Sermons. Glasgow: Robert Urie, 1763.

Collected editionsEdit

  • Miscellanies in Prose and Verse. London: John Morphew, 1711;
    • enlarged edition, (5 volumes), London: Benjamin Motte / Lawton Gilliver / Charles Davis, 1727-1735.
  • The Works of J. S, D.D, D.S.P.D.. (4 volumes), Dublin: George Faulkner, 1735; (20 volumes), 1738-1772.
  • Works. (14 volumes), London: C. Bathurst, 1751.
  • Works ... to which is prefixed, The Doctor's Life, with Remarks on his Writings. (9 volumes), Dublin & Edinburgh: G. Hamilton / J. Balfour / L. Hunter, 1752.
  • Works ... with Some Account of the Author's Life (edited by John Hawkesworth, Deane Swift, & John Nichols). (27 volumes), London: C. Bathurst, 1754-1779.
  • Works ... arranged, revised, and corrected, with notes (edited by Thomas Sheridan). (17 volumes), London: C. Bathurst, 1784
    • corrected & revised by John Nichols. (24 volumes), London: J. Johnson, John Nichols & Son, 1803; New York: Durell, 1812.
  • Works ... containing additional letters, tracts, and poems, not hitherto published (edited by Sir Walter Scott). (19 volumes), Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1814).
  • Works ... containing onteresting and valuable papers, not hitherto published (edited by Thomas Roscoe). (2 volumes), London: Washbourne, 1841.
  • The Portable Swift (edited by Carl van Doren). New York: Viking, 1948.


  • Horace, Part of the Seventh Epistle Of The First Book Of Horace Imitated; and address'd to a noble peer. London: A. Dodd, 1713.
  • Horace, The First Ode Of The Second Book Of Horace Paraphras'd: And Address'd to Richard St--le, Esq. London: A. Dodd, 1713.
  • Callimachu, The Birth Of Manly Virtue. Dublin: George Grierson, 1725.
  • Horace, Book I. Ode XIV: O navis, referent, &c.; paraphrased and inscribed to Ir--d. 1730.
  • Horace, An Imitation Of The Sixth Satire Of The Second Book Of Horace (by Swift and Alexander Pope). London: B. Motte / C. Bathurst / J. & P. Knapton, 1738).


  • The Examiner (newspaper; by Swift et al). (6 volumes), London: John Morphew, 1710-1714.
  • The Intelligencer (newspaper; by Swift et al). Dublin: S. Harding, II May 1728-7 May 1729; collected edition, London: Francis Cogan, 1730.
  • John Creighton, Memoirs of Capt. John Creichton: Written by himself 1731.

Letters and journalsEdit

  • Letters Between Dr. Swift, Mr. Pope, &c. From the Year 1714 to 1736. London: T. Cooper, 1741.
  • The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, In Prose: Volume 2 (includes letters by Swift). London: J. & P. Knapton / C. Bathurst / R. Dodsley, 1741.
  • Letters To and From Dr. J. Swift, D.S.P.D.; from the Year 1714, to 1738. Dublin: George Faulkner, 1741.
  • Journal to Stella. London: George Routledge, 1900.
  • Correspondence (edited by F. Elrington Ball). (6 volumes), London: Bell, 1910-1914.
  • Correspondence (edited by Harold Williams). (5 volumes), Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1963-1965.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[5]

See alsoEdit

"A Description of the Morning" by Jonathan Swift (read by Tom O'Bedlam)01:07

"A Description of the Morning" by Jonathan Swift (read by Tom O'Bedlam)

References Edit

  • Samuel Johnson's "Life of Swift": JaffeBros. From his Lives of the Poets.
  • William Makepeace Thackeray's influential vitriolic biography: JaffeBros. From his English Humourists of The Eighteenth Century.
  • Bullitt, John M. Jonathan Swift and the Anatomy of Satire: A Study of Satiric Technique, 1953, Cambridge: Harvard U P,
  • Jae Num Lee "Swift and Scatological Satire", 1971, University of New Mexico Press, ISBN 0826301967 jstor review
  • Lee, Jae Num. "Scatology in Continental Satirical Writings from Aristophanes to Rabelais" and "English Scatological Writings from Skelton to Pope." Swift and Scatological Satire. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1971. 7–22; 23–53.
  • Susan Gubar "The Female Monster in Augustan Satire" Signs, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Winter, 1977), pp. 380–394
  • Many other sources are listed here.


  1. Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Anglo-Irish author, who was the foremost prose satirist in the English language".
  2. "The Story of Civilization", V.8., 362.
  3. from John Nichol, "Critical Introduction: Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)," The English Poets: Selections with critical introductions (edited by Thomas Humphry Ward). New York & London: Macmillan, 1880-1918. Web, Feb. 19, 2016.
  4. John Ruskin: Sesame and Lillies
  5. Bibliography, Jonathan Swift 1667-1745, Poetry Foundation. Web, Dec. 10, 2016.

External links Edit

  • Swift Quotations: JaffeBros – many choice, well-documented Swift quotations here
  • Swift quotes at Bartleby: – 59 quotations, with notes
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