30 NOVEMBER — TO THE SWIFT

As 3o days hath the month of November,
Today marks the end of a month to remember.
Swift doth the day pass into December,
Ere the twain shall meet….in a glowing ember.

The above is my Lilliputian ode to two literary giants who were born on this day: Jonathan Swift  in 1667, Mark Twain in 1835. This post celebrates the former, the latter having been extolled in a post one year ago today (THE UNIVERSAL MARK TWAIN).

Jonathan Swift’s pièce de résistance, of course, was GULLIVER’S TRAVELS, a book I gobbled up when about 12 years old (in an abridged version for children), and still own. However, at that age I didn’t fully appreciate that it was much more than a grand adventure tale — it’s also a masterpiece of parody and social/political satire, as exemplified by the enmity between the empires of Lilliput and Blefuscu over which end of an egg should be broken first before being eaten — a conflict which put Gulliver in the middle between the Big Endians and the Small Endians. Well, I suppose that makes just as much sense as real people fighting over whose god is the Big Enchilada.

Let us turn now to three quotations from the unabridged GULLIVER’S TRAVELS:

Here commences a new dominion acquired with a title by divine right. Ships are sent with the first opportunity; the natives driven out or destroyed; their princes tortured to discover their gold; a free license give to all acts of inhumanity and lust, the earth reeking with the blood of its inhabitants: and this execrable crew of butchers, employed in so pious an expedition, is a modern colony, sent to convert an idolatrous and barbarous people.

The tiny Lilliputians surmise that Gulliver’s watch may be his god, because it is that which, he admits, he seldom does anything without consulting.

It is a maxim among these lawyers, that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again: and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind. These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions; and the judges never fail of decreeing accordingly.

I close with three more Swift quotes, the last of which I intend to inscribe on a club to beat anyone who would disparage my stunning cunning punning:

When the world has once begun to use us ill, it afterwards continues the same treatment with less scruple or ceremony, as men do to a whore.

Words are the clothing of our thoughts.

Punning is a talent which no man affects to despise except he that is without it.

 

–30–

 

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13 comments on “30 NOVEMBER — TO THE SWIFT

  1. linnetmoss says:

    If only there were more authors with the wit of these two! Love the quote about punning 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don Frankel says:

    People are ambitious. They come up with rationales as they go or afterwards.

    Like

    • mistermuse says:

      Right you are, Don — though I wouldn’t confine coming up with rationales just to the ambitious. For example, I have no problem coming up with rationales for being a couch potato on Sundays, because, as I tell my wife, watching football keeps me out of trouble.

      Like

  3. arekhill1 says:

    Substitute “women” for “eggs” and the passions of the Small Endians regarding the Big Endians become more understandable. Is this what Swift really meant?

    Like

    • mistermuse says:

      Well, given the Swift quote about how men treat a whore, it appears he was able to put himself in a woman’s place and see things from her viewpoint. He was, after all, a priest in the Church of Ireland (a branch of the Anglican Church), which afforded him somewhat more latitude (in theory) than if he’d been a Catholic priest.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Don Frankel says:

    You’re not a Psychopath Muse, who sees people as objects that just need to be swept out of the way on your way to wherever and whatever. Perhaps on the way to the greater good.

    Like

  5. mistermuse says:

    Don, I’m probably more of a muse-anthrope — but whatever I am….

    Like

  6. Jane says:

    I also loved Gulliver’s Travels as a child (the abridged version). It was only much later in life I understood that there was more to it than a children’s story. I must admit I have never read the unabridged version so thank you for sharing some of it along with your thoughts. Just a comment on abridged versions. I read so many as a child and they were a great way to introduce me gently and enjoyably to many great authors and playwrights. Reading Shakespeare’s plays as a book of stories with pictures as a child was great preparation for being able to understand his works later.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mistermuse says:

    I appreciate your comment. I didn’t appreciate Shakespeare until later because I wasn’t “properly” introduced to him as a child. But, as they say, all good things come to those who wait (if you live long enough, which, fortunately, I have).

    Like

  8. Outlier Babe says:

    I have read the unabridged version but see I must go back and not only do so again, but again annually or so. Will buy a copy. Hadn’t read “Travels” since college. Decades later, I’m slower–less swift 😉 –but more patient. That makes me smart enough now to read Swift properly.

    (Aspie ego-saving non-sequiter: I was always smart enough to read Twain properly.)

    I like your posts so far, Muse-Man. Maybe I’ll read some more some time. If I’ve got nothin’ better to do.

    –O. Babe

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mistermuse says:

    That makes two of us, O. Babe, but I hope to read more of your posts sooner rather than….well, as soon as possible after researching, writing and editing my next post on Feb. 10 (I’m cursed with being something of a perfectionist, so it takes me a few days put it all together & get it – hopefully – right).

    Like

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