We are so fond of one another
because our ailments are the same
Friends and Friendship
Jonathan Swift maintained several close friendships throughout his life. Many of these with rich and powerful figures in 18th century Britain and Ireland, and many with famous writers like William Congreve and Alexander Pope. He also maintained close friendships with several women, although he never married.
As a satirist, his role was to point out people’s faults and failings. His close observations of human nature made him sceptical about people in general, yet as he points out in the first quote below, he made friends of individuals from all walks of life.
“I have ever hated all nations, professions, and communities, and all my love is toward individuals: for instance, I hate the tribe of lawyers, but I love Counsellor Such-a-one, and Judge Such-a-one: so with physicians—I will not speak of my own trade—soldiers, English, Scotch, French, and the rest.
But principally I hate and detest that animal called man, although I heartily love John, Peter, Thomas, and so forth. This is the system upon which I have governed myself many years, but do not tell…”
I love good creditable acquaintance; I love to be the worst of the company.
I hate nobody: I am in charity with the world.
One enemy can do more hurt than ten friends can do good.
Two friendships in two breasts requires the same aversions and desires.
‘Your notions of friendship are new to me; I believe every man is born with his quantum, and he cannot give to one without robbing another.
I very well know to whom I would give the first place in my friendship, but they are not in the way, I am condemned to another scene, and therefore I distribute it in pennyworths to those about me, and who displease me least, and should do the same to my fellow prisoners if I were condemned to a jail.’
‘Tis very warm weather when one’s in bed.
Knock as you please, there’s nobody at home.
She pays him in his own coin.
A penny for your thoughts.
But a stranger in a strange land, he is no one: men know him not – and to know not is to care not for.
The sight of you is good for sore eyes.
I thought you and he were hand-in-glove.
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