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[ Also see Allegories Argument Burlesque Caricature Contempt Criticism Epigrams Epitaphs Humor Irony Jeering Jesting Jokes Levity Ridicule Sarcasm Scandal Scorn Slander Sneer Speech Wit ]

The end of satire is the amendment of vices by correction; and he who writes honestly is no more an enemy to the offender than the physician to the patient when he prescribes harsh remedies.
      - John Dryden

Of satires I think as Epictetus did, "If evil be said of thee, and if it be true, correct thyself; if it be a lie, laugh at it." By dint of time and experience I have learned to be a good post-horse; I go through my appointed daily stage, and I care not for the curs who bark at me along the road.
      - Frederick, the Great (Frederick II)

Wycherley in his writings is the sharpest satirist of his time, but in his nature he has all the softness of the tenderest dispositions. In his writings he is severe, bold, undertaking; in his nature, gentle, modest, inoffensive.
      - George Granville, Lord Landsdowne

Of a bitter satirist it might be said that the person or thing on which his satire fell shriveled up as if the devil had spit on it.
      - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Satire is a composition of salt and mercury; and it depends upon the different mixture and preparation of these ingredients, that it comes out a noble medicine or a rank poison.
      - Lord Francis Jeffrey

The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.
      - James Joyce,
        A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

In the present state of the world it is difficult not to write lampoons.
      - Juvenal (Decimus Junius Juvenal)

It is difficult not to write satire.
  [Lat., Difficile est satiram non scribere.]
      - Juvenal (Decimus Junius Juvenal), Satires
         (I, 29)

Satire is what closes Saturday night.
      - George S. Kaufman

Among those who are able to understand it, satire has a power of fascination that no other written thing possesses.
      - Stanley Lane-Poole

Satire is at once the most agreeable and most dangerous of mental qualities. It always pleases when it is refined, but we always fear those who use it too much; yet satire should be allowed when unmixed with spite, and when the person satirized can join in the satire.
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

Men are more satirical from vanity than from malice.
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Maxims
         (no. 508)

Truth is quite beyond the reach of satire. There is so brave a simplicity in her that she can no more be made ridiculous than an oak or a pine.
      - James Russell Lowell

It is certain that satirical poems were common at Rome from a very early period. The rustics, who lived at a distance from the seat of government, and took little part in the strife of factions, gave vent to their petty local animosities in coarse Fescennine verse.
      - Thomas Babington Macaulay

Satire is, indeed, the only sort of composition in which the Latin poets whose works have come down to us were not mere imitators of foreign models; and it is therefore the sort of composition in which they have never been excelled.
      - Thomas Babington Macaulay

Satire should, like a polished razor keen,
  Wound with a touch that's scarcely felt or seen.
    Thine is an oyster knife, that hacks and hews;
      The rage but not the talent to abuse.
      - Lady Mary Wortley Montagu,
        To the Imitator of the First Satire of Horace,

Pointed satire runs him through and through.
      - John Oldham

I wear my Pen as others do their Sword.
  To each affronting sot I meet, the word
    Is Satisfaction: straight to thrusts I go,
      And pointed satire runs him through and through.
      - John Oldham, Satire upon a Printer (l. 35)

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
  And without sneering teach the rest to sneer;
    Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
      Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
        Alike reserv'd to blame, or to commend,
          A tim'rous foe, and a suspicious friend.
      - Alexander Pope, Prologue to Satires
         (l. 201)

Satire or sense, alas! Can Sporus feel?
  Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
      - Alexander Pope, Prologue to Satires
         (l. 307), (Sporus is Lord John Hervey)

There are, to whom my satire seems too bold;
  Scarce to wise Peter complaisant enough,
    And something said of Chartres much too rough.
      - Alexander Pope, Second Book of Horace
         (satire I, l. 2)

Satire's my weapon, but I'm too discreet
  To run amuck and tilt at all I meet.
      - Alexander Pope, Second Book of Horace
         (satire I, l. 71)

But the most annoying of all public reformers is the personal satirist. Though he may be considered by some few as a useful member of society, yet he is only ranked with the hangman, whom we tolerate because he executes the judgment we abhor to do ourselves, and avoid with a natural detestation of his office. The pen of the one and the cord of the other are inseparable in our minds.
      - Jane Porter

Whose wound no salve can cure. Each blow doth leave
  A lasting sear, that with a poison eats
    Into the marrow of their fame, and lives;
      Th' eternal ulcer to their memories.
      - Thomas Randolph

Friendly satire may be compared to a fine lancet, which gently breathes a vein for health's sake.
      - Samuel Richardson

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