Jonathan Swift was best remembered for his ruthless expose of man – at best, a fool, and at worst, a demented brute.
Swift was astounded by our dexterity at degrading reason to sustain philosophical systems and sophisticated religions that his satire diminished to absurdity: “all those mighty revolutions that have happened in empire, philosophy, and religion,” have naught to do with dignified ambitions but are the reactions of juices and gases “ascending from the lower faculties to overshadow the brain.”
Swift was distinctly intolerant of anyone and anything asserting to possess truth. Religious toleration, he claimed was itself intolerable. Why should any of us be asked to put up with superstitious idiocy? In his outrageous work, Gulliver’s Travels, a masterpiece of satire in which he ridiculed human faults and flaws. While the book demonstrates the relativity of knowledge, the target is that little odious vermin – man.
Gulliver finds the depraved, groveling servants of horses, Yahoos, exceptionally repulsive. But once he returns home to “civilization,” he is astonished by the outrageous sights and putrid odors that resemble the Yahoo too much. The stench of his own wife overwhelms him, and it is a full year before Gulliver can even approach his kids without vomiting.
Near the end, Swift bid his guests farewell with this phrase: “Good night, I hope I shall never see you again.”