Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Who said: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign..."

BookBrowse's Favorite Quotes

"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."
— Jonathan Swift

Jonathan SwiftThe clergyman and satirist, Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), was born in Dublin, Ireland. He completed his education in Ireland by attending Trinity College, Dublin and then moved to live with his mother in Leicestershire, England (his mother was English; his father died seen months before he was born). In 1689 he became secretary to the diplomat, Sir William Temple. Within three years he had gained the confidence of his employer to the point that he was introduced to William III and sent to London to petition the newly crowned king on political matters.

By 1694 Swift had tired of his position and resolved to go into the church. He was ordained in the Anglican church the following year and obtained a prebend, near Belfast, Ireland (a prebend was originally a post connected to a cathedral, usually of an administrative nature; however, the role had been dissolved by Henry VIII more than a century earlier, but the term remained in use in some places as an honorary title for a senior parish priest)

In 1696 he returned to Temple's employment to help prepare his memoirs and correspondence for publication. Temple died three years later and Swift returned to Ireland where he ministered to a congregation of about 15 people, allowing him plenty of time for other pursuits, which included taking his doctor's degree at Dublin University.

In 1701 he returned to England where he published, anonymously, his first political pamphlet. He remained politically active up until 1713, but following the fall of the Tories* after the death of Queen Anne, he moved to Dublin where he was made Dean of St Patricks.

In 1723 he became engrossed in the Irish agitation which led to the publication of the Drapier's Letters, and in 1726 he completed Gulliver's Travels.

He died in 1745 after a long period of illness. He wrote his own epitaph which (translated from Latin by William Butler Yeats) reads as follows:

Swift has sailed into his rest.
Savage indignation there
cannot lacerate his breast.
Imitate him if you can,
world-besotted traveler.
He served human liberty.

*The word 'tories' was originally used to describe rural Irish bandits. In the 17th century it was applied to monarchists in the British House of Commons. By the 18th century the Tories were a group of politicians who favored royal authority and the established church, and opposed parliamentary reform. After 1834 the political group preferred to use the term 'Conservative' - but 'Tories' remains in common usage.

More Quotes

This quote & biography originally ran in an issue of BookBrowse's membership magazine. Full Membership Features & Benefits.

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Song of the Six Realms
    Song of the Six Realms
    by Judy I. Lin
    Xue'er has no place in the kingdom of Qi or any of the Six Realms. Her name means "Solitary Snow" ...
  • Book Jacket: The Demon of Unrest
    The Demon of Unrest
    by Erik Larson
    In the aftermath of the 1860 presidential election, the divided United States began to collapse as ...
  • Book Jacket: Daughters of Shandong
    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung
    Daughters of Shandong is the debut novel of Eve J. Chung, a human rights lawyer living in New York. ...
  • Book Jacket: Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    by Xochitl Gonzalez
    Brooklyn-based novelist Xochitl Gonzalez is an inspiring writer to follow. At forty, she decided to ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Romantic Comedy
by Curtis Sittenfeld
A comedy writer's stance on love shifts when a pop star challenges her assumptions in this witty and touching novel.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung

    Eve J. Chung's debut novel recounts a family's flight to Taiwan during China's Communist revolution.

  • Book Jacket

    This Strange Eventful History
    by Claire Messud

    An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.