For the rest, whatever we have got has been by infinite labour, and search, and ranging through every corner of nature; the difference is that instead of dirt and poison, we have rather chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax, thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light.
Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), Anglo-Irish satirist. Aesop, in The Battle of the Books (1704).
Aesop, representing the Ancients, likened them to a bee, as opposed to the spider which stood for the Moderns. The phrase "sweetness and light" was taken up by critic Matthew Arnold in Culture and Anarchy, ch. 5 (1869), from which it has passed into general usage.