John Harington (inventor)

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Sir John Harington (or Harrington) (August 4, 1561November 20, 1612) was a courtier, author, and scientist. He became a prominent member of Queen Elizabeth I's court, and was known as her 'saucy Godson'. But because of his poetry and other writings, he fell in and ultimately out of favor with the Queen, as well as with her successor, King James I of England. He has been credited with the invention of an early flush toilet. The flush toilet is described in his famous work The Metamorphosis of Ajax which had enjoyed considerable popularity on its publication in 1596.


  • Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
    Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
    • Epigrams, Book iv, Epistle 5. Compare: "Prosperum ac felix scelus/ Virtus vocatur" ("Successful and fortunate crime/ is called virtue"), Seneca, Herc. Furens, ii. 250.
  • Best fishing in troubled waters.
    • Orlando Furioso (completed in 1591).
  • From your confessor, lawyer and physician,
    Hide not your case on no condition.
    • Metamorphosis of Ajax (1596).

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