Jonathan Swift


'Here is laid the body of
Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Divinity,
Dean of this cathedral Church,
Where fierce indignation can no longer 
Rend his heart.
Go, traveller, and imitate if you can
This earnest and dedicated
Champion of Liberty'


Jonathan Swift is buried inside St Patrick's Cathedral, Patrick St, Dublin, Ireland. 

Grave of Jonathon Swift and Esther Johnson

He is buried close to  Esther Johnson (known as Stella in his writings) who died twelve years before him. Swift first met Stella when he tutored her as part of his duties as private secretary to Sir William Temple. (She was only 16 years old.) The exact nature of their relationship has never been fully established. Swift, who never married, was devoted to Stella and wrote a number of poems for her including On Stella's Birthday and Stella's Distress.

Swift is best known for his long work Gulliver's Travels in which he satirised the vices of humanity. Yet he produced many other satirical poems and pamphlets  including the famous: A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burden in which he suggested that the English rulers of Ireland should simply eat Irish children. The ferociousness of his satirical work may have contributed to his lack of success in public life and certainly offended Queen Anne.

In 1713 Swift was appointed Dean of St Patrick's, a post that he held until the end of his life. Towards the end of life he suffered from an unidentified illness with symptoms of severe dizziness, deafness and nausea which led him to believe he was becoming insane. It is now thought he was suffering from Meniere's Disease, a degenerative disorder of the middle ear.


In his final years he bequeathed money to build a hospital for the insane which opened in 1757 and was one of the first psychiatric hospitals in the world.  

The north pulpit in St Patrick's contains Swift's portrait, death mask, writing table and chair.

Swift wrote his own epitaph which appears on a black slab with gold lettering and is located close to his grave.

See also irony and scriblerus club.

He gave the little wealth he had,
To build a house for fools and mad:
And show'd by one satiric touch,
No nation wanted it so much:
That kingdom he hath left his debtor,
I wish it soon may have a better.

From Verses On The Death of Dr Swift (complete poem)

Read more of Swift's Poetry

St. Patrick's Cathedral






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