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

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...
  • Book Jacket: Dadland
    Dadland
    by Keggie Carew
    In her notable debut, Keggie Carew examines the life of her father Tom, a decorated war hero whose ...
  • Book Jacket: Piecing Me Together
    Piecing Me Together
    by Renee Watson
    Race and class in American culture certainly dominate the news right now. These two things seem to ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Mercies in Disguise
    by Gina Kolata

    A story of hope, a family's genetic destiny, and the science that rescued them.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -