Swift’s Personality

  • T. G. Wilson


There can be few historical or literary figures who have aroused more controversy or who have had more nonsense written about them than Jonathan Swift. Since his death more than two hundred years ago the comment about him has grown steadily more abusive. Dr. Johnson started the process and it has continued ever since. Thackeray’s vilification of his character in English Humourists is quite absurd. Robert Louis Stevenson likened him to ‘a kind of human goat, leaping and wagging [his] scut on mountains of offence’.1 Sir Harold Nicolson calls him ‘… a turncoat, a place seeker, and a most untruthful journalist’ and speaks of ‘his cruelty’ and of ‘the envy that turned his soul a putrid green’.2 These are hard words, but they can at least be supported by a superficial knowledge of Swift’s career. But Malcolm Muggeridge’s statement in the same national Sunday newspaper that he suffered from general paralysis of the insane, better known as G.P.I. which is a late effect of syphilis, is quite unjustifiable.3


Sexual Immaturity Elderly Teacher Superior Petrosal Sinus General Paralysis Hard Word 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan & Co. Ltd. 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. G. Wilson

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