Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting

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Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting is the title of a satirical essay by Jonathan Swift. It also has appeared under the title Thoughts on Various Subjects. It consists of a series of short epigrams or apothegms with no particular connections between them.

It contains the quotation "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." which is the source for the title of A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

Other typical quotes include:

  • "The latter part of a wise man's life is taken up in curing the follies, prejudices, and false opinions he had contracted in the former."
  • "Whatever the poets pretend, it is plain they give immortality to none but themselves; it is Homer and Virgil we reverence and admire, not Achilles or Aeneas. With historians it is quite the contrary; our thoughts are taken up with the actions, persons, and events we read, and we little regard the authors."
  • "When a man is made a spiritual peer he loses his surname; when a temporal, his Christian name."
  • "If a man would register all his opinions upon love, politics, religion, learning, etc., beginning from his youth and so go on to old age, what a bundle of inconsistencies and contradictions would appear at last!"
  • "What they do in heaven we are ignorant of; what they do not we are told expressly: that they neither marry, nor are given in marriage."

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