Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jonathan Swift, The Mark Twain of the Late, Great 18th Century

Vintage Majolica wall pocket features a gentleman perched in a rose tree playing a golden flute or fife.  He is wearing breeches and stockings, the manly dress of the 18th Century. 

I'm a big fan of the 18th Century, the Age of Enlightenment.  At one point in my life I planned to pursue a postgraduate degree in 18th Century English Literature.  I got over it.

The century is most notable for the American and French Revolutions.  The French went a little overboard popularizing public beheadings as entertainment in my opinion, but at least they gave us the baguette.

Of course you remember that Mt. Fuji erupted in this century.  George Friederich Handel wrote his first opera. His fellow composers, those I call 'My Favorite Dead Guys', were Bach,


and Haydn. 

Antonio Stradivari made violins.

James Audubon painted his birds,

Gainsborough painted his creepy people,

and Goya painted violence.

The city of New Orleans was founded.  Slavery was abolished in Russia.  Edward Jenner administered the first smallpox vaccine.  Bartolomeo Cristofori built the first piano. 

Rubber was discovered.  Modern steel was developed.  Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals.

The 18th Century gave us Voltaire, Jane Austin,

Robert Burns, Walter Scott and my all time favorite, Jonathan Swift, author of 'Gulliver's Travels'. 
Swift stands as the most prolific satirist of the English language.  His works comprise 14 volumes of prose, over 900 pages of poetry and at least three volumes of correspondence. 

Swift was the Mark Twain of his day.  His thoughts are as witty, fresh and stinging as they were 250 years ago......................

When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign:  that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.

May you live all the days of your life.
Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.
Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.

We have enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.

Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.

Nothing is so hard for those who abound in riches as to conceive how others can be in want.

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.

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. 

Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old.

There are few, very few, that will own themselves in a mistake. 

He was a bold man that first ate an oyster. 

Books, the children of the brain.
No wise man ever wished to be younger.
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. 

There is nothing constant in this world but inconsistency.


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