Novelist and satirist Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was born on this day in Dublin, Ireland. His father, a lawyer, died before his birth. Raised by a wealthy uncle, the headstrong and opinionated Swift graduated from Trinity College and was an assistant to noted politician William Temple.
Swift once said: "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. "
Ordained an Anglican priest in 1695, Swift is best known for Gulliver's Travels (1726). Published with a pseudonym so not to offend, the novel explored the four fantastic voyages of the sea captain, including his visit with the unforgettable Lilliputians. The controversial tale brilliantly satirized English society.
"Vision is the art of seeing things invisible," he said.
Swift's remarkable essay, Modest Proposal (1729), hypothesized that the Irish rid themselves of poverty and homelessness by selling their children as food to the rich. His absurd solution highlighted the seriousness of the problems, for Ireland...and humanity.
"How wild and impertinent, how busy and incoherent a thing is the imagination, even in the best and sanest of men; insomuch, that every man may be said to be mad, but every man does not show it," he said.