Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith

Overview
Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish
Irish
Irish may refer to:*Irish cuisine* Ireland, an island in north-western Europe, on which are located:** Northern Ireland, a constituent country of the United Kingdom** Republic of Ireland, a sovereign state...

 writer, poet and physician
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 known for his novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield is a novel by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith. It was written in 1761 and 1762, and published in 1766, and was one of the most popular and widely read 18th-century novels among Victorians...

(1766), his pastoral poem The Deserted Village (1770) (written in memory of his brother), and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man
The Good-Natur'd Man
The Good-Natur'd Man is a play written by Oliver Goldsmith in 1768. The play was written in the form of a comedy and staged at the Covent Garden Theatre. It was a middling success for Goldsmith, and the printed version of the play became popular with the reading public...

(1768) and She Stoops to Conquer
She Stoops to Conquer
She Stoops to Conquer is a comedy by the Irish author Oliver Goldsmith, son of an Anglo-Irish vicar, first performed in London in 1773. The play is a great favourite for study by English literature and theatre classes in Britain and the United States. It is one of the few plays from the 18th...

(1771, first performed in 1773). He also wrote An History of the Earth and Animated Nature. He is thought to have written the classic children's tale The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes
The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes
The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes is a little children's story published by John Newbery in London in 1765. The story popularized the phrase "goody two-shoes", often used to describe an excessively virtuous person.-Plot:...

, the source of the phrase "goody two-shoes".

Goldsmith's birth date and year are not known with certainty.
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Quotations

Men may be very learned, and yet very miserable; it is easy to be a deep geometrician, or a sublime astronomer, but very difficult to be a good man. I esteem, therefore, the traveller who instructs the heart, but despise him who only indulges the imagination. A man who leaves home to mend himself and others, is a philosopher; but he who goes from country to country, guided by the blind impulse of curiosity, is only a vagabond.

The Citizen of the World (1762) Letter VII

Such dainties to them, their health it might hurt;It's like sending them ruffles, when wanting a shirt.

The Haunch of Venison (1776)

There is no arguing with Johnson: for if his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it.

From James Boswell's Life of Johnson (1791), October 26, 1769

[To Mr. Johnson] If you were to make little fishes talk, they would talk like whales.

From James Boswell's Life of Johnson (1791), April 27, 1773

You may all go to pot.

Verses in reply to an invitation to dine at Dr. Baker's

One writer, for instance, excels at a plan or a title page, another works away at the body of the book, and a third is a dab at an index.

No. 1

As writers become more numerous, it is natural for readers to become more indolent.

No. 175, Upon Unfortunate Merit

Good people all, with one acord,Lament for Madame Blaize,Who never wanted a good word —From those who spoke her praise.

Elegy on Mrs. Mary Blaize, st. 1

That strain once more; it bids remembrance rise.

Act I
Encyclopedia
Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish
Irish
Irish may refer to:*Irish cuisine* Ireland, an island in north-western Europe, on which are located:** Northern Ireland, a constituent country of the United Kingdom** Republic of Ireland, a sovereign state...

 writer, poet and physician
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 known for his novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield is a novel by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith. It was written in 1761 and 1762, and published in 1766, and was one of the most popular and widely read 18th-century novels among Victorians...

(1766), his pastoral poem The Deserted Village (1770) (written in memory of his brother), and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man
The Good-Natur'd Man
The Good-Natur'd Man is a play written by Oliver Goldsmith in 1768. The play was written in the form of a comedy and staged at the Covent Garden Theatre. It was a middling success for Goldsmith, and the printed version of the play became popular with the reading public...

(1768) and She Stoops to Conquer
She Stoops to Conquer
She Stoops to Conquer is a comedy by the Irish author Oliver Goldsmith, son of an Anglo-Irish vicar, first performed in London in 1773. The play is a great favourite for study by English literature and theatre classes in Britain and the United States. It is one of the few plays from the 18th...

(1771, first performed in 1773). He also wrote An History of the Earth and Animated Nature. He is thought to have written the classic children's tale The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes
The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes
The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes is a little children's story published by John Newbery in London in 1765. The story popularized the phrase "goody two-shoes", often used to describe an excessively virtuous person.-Plot:...

, the source of the phrase "goody two-shoes".

Biography


Goldsmith's birth date and year are not known with certainty. According to the Library of Congress authority file, he told a biographer that he was born on 29 November 1731, or perhaps in 1730. Other sources have indicated 10 November, on any year from 1727 to 1731. 10 November 1730 is now the most commonly accepted birth date.

The location of his birthplace is also uncertain. He was born either in the townland of Pallas, near Ballymahon
Ballymahon
Ballymahon on the River Inny is a town in the southern part of County Longford, Ireland. It is located at the junction of the N55 National secondary road and the R392 regional road. Ballymahon derives its name from Gaelic Baile Mathuna Town of Mahon...

, County Longford
County Longford
County Longford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Longford.Longford County Council is the local authority for the county...

, Ireland, where his father was the Anglican curate
Curate
A curate is a person who is invested with the care or cure of souls of a parish. In this sense "curate" correctly means a parish priest but in English-speaking countries a curate is an assistant to the parish priest...

 of the parish of Forgney
Forgney
Forgney is an area in County Longford associated with the poet Oliver Goldsmith. The Church of Ireland church in Forgney, the Church of St. Munis, is where the Rev. Charles Goldsmith, father of the poet, administered from 1718 to 1730....

, or at the residence of his maternal grandparents, at the Smith Hill
Smith Hill (house)
Smith Hill or Smithhill is an early nineteenth century house situated about 1.5 km east of Elphin, County Roscommon, in Ardnagowan. It is believed that the poet, playwright and novelist Oliver Goldsmith may have been born in an earlier house on the site while his mother, Ann Goldsmith , was...

 House in the diocese of Elphin, County Roscommon
Elphin, County Roscommon
Elphin, sometimes spelt Elfin , is a village in north County Roscommon, Ireland. It forms the southern tip of a triangle with Boyle and Carrick-on-Shannon to the north west and north east respectively. It is at the junction of the R368 and R369 regional roads...

 where his grandfather Oliver Jones was a clergyman and master of the Elphin diocesan school. When he was two years old, Goldsmith's father was appointed the rector
Rector
The word rector has a number of different meanings; it is widely used to refer to an academic, religious or political administrator...

 of the parish of "Kilkenny West" in County Westmeath
County Westmeath
-Economy:Westmeath has a strong agricultural economy. Initially, development occurred around the major market centres of Mullingar, Moate, and Kinnegad. Athlone developed due to its military significance, and its strategic location on the main Dublin–Galway route across the River Shannon. Mullingar...

. The family moved to the parsonage
Rectory
A rectory is the residence, or former residence, of a rector, most often a Christian cleric, but in some cases an academic rector or other person with that title...

 at Lissoy, between Athlone and Ballymahon, and continued to live there until his father's death in 1747.

In 1744 Goldsmith went up to Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin , formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, was founded in 1592 by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I as the "mother of a university", Extracts from Letters Patent of Elizabeth I, 1592: "...we...found and...

. His tutor was Theaker Wilder
Theaker Wilder
Theaker Wilder was the first Regius Professor of Greek and Senior Register at Trinity College, Dublin and became famous for being Oliver Goldsmith's 'learned savage' of a tutor.- Family :...

. Neglecting his studies in theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 and law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, he fell to the bottom of his class. He was graduated in 1749 as a Bachelor of Arts, but without the discipline or distinction that might have gained him entry to a profession in the church or the law; his education seemed to have given him mainly a taste for fine clothes, playing cards, singing Irish airs and playing the flute. He lived for a short time with his mother, tried various professions without success, studied medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

 desultorily at the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

 and the University of Leiden, and set out on a walking tour of Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and Northern Italy
Northern Italy
Northern Italy is a wide cultural, historical and geographical definition, without any administrative usage, used to indicate the northern part of the Italian state, also referred as Settentrione or Alta Italia...

, living by his wits (busking with his flute).

He settled in London in 1756, where he briefly held various jobs, including an apothecary
Apothecary
Apothecary is a historical name for a medical professional who formulates and dispenses materia medica to physicians, surgeons and patients — a role now served by a pharmacist and some caregivers....

's assistant and an usher of a school. Perennially in debt and addicted to gambling, Goldsmith produced a massive output as a hack writer
Hack writer
Hack writer is a colloquial and usually pejorative term used to refer to a writer who is paid to write low-quality, rushed articles or books "to order", often with a short deadline. In a fiction-writing context, the term is used to describe writers who are paid to churn out sensational,...

 for the publishers of London, but his few painstaking works earned him the company of Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

, with whom he was a founding member of "The Club
The Club (dining club)
The Club was a London dining club founded in February 1764 by the artist Joshua Reynolds and essayist Samuel Johnson.-Description:Initially, the club would meet one evening per week at seven, at the Turk's Head Inn in Gerrard Street, Soho. Later, meetings were reduced to once per fortnight whilst...

". The combination of his literary work and his dissolute lifestyle led Horace Walpole to give him the epithet inspired idiot. During this period he used the pseudonym "James Willington" (the name of a fellow student at Trinity) to publish his 1758 translation of the autobiography of the Huguenot Jean Marteilhe.

Goldsmith was described by contemporaries as prone to envy, a congenial but impetuous and disorganised personality who once planned to emigrate to America but failed because he missed his ship.

His premature death in 1774 may have been partly due to his own misdiagnosis of his kidney infection. Goldsmith was buried in Temple Church
Temple Church
The Temple Church is a late-12th-century church in London located between Fleet Street and the River Thames, built for and by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters. In modern times, two Inns of Court both use the church. It is famous for its effigy tombs and for being a round church...

. The inscription reads; "HERE LIES/OLIVER GOLDSMITH". There is a monument to him in the center of Ballymahon
Ballymahon
Ballymahon on the River Inny is a town in the southern part of County Longford, Ireland. It is located at the junction of the N55 National secondary road and the R392 regional road. Ballymahon derives its name from Gaelic Baile Mathuna Town of Mahon...

, also in Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

 with an epitaph
Epitaph
An epitaph is a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial...

 written by Samuel Johnson.

Works


See The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield is a novel by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith. It was written in 1761 and 1762, and published in 1766, and was one of the most popular and widely read 18th-century novels among Victorians...

, The Good-Natur'd Man
The Good-Natur'd Man
The Good-Natur'd Man is a play written by Oliver Goldsmith in 1768. The play was written in the form of a comedy and staged at the Covent Garden Theatre. It was a middling success for Goldsmith, and the printed version of the play became popular with the reading public...

, and She Stoops to Conquer
She Stoops to Conquer
She Stoops to Conquer is a comedy by the Irish author Oliver Goldsmith, son of an Anglo-Irish vicar, first performed in London in 1773. The play is a great favourite for study by English literature and theatre classes in Britain and the United States. It is one of the few plays from the 18th...

.

The Citizen of the World


In 1760 Goldsmith began to publish a series of letters in the Public Ledger under the title The Citizen of the World. Purportedly written by a Chinese traveler in England named Lien Chi, they used this fictional outsider's perspective to comment ironically and at times moralistically on British society and manners. It was inspired by the earlier essay series Persian Letters
Persian Letters
Persian Letters is a literary work by Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu, recounting the experiences of two Persian noblemen, Usbek and Rica, who are traveling through France.-Plot summary:...

by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

.

The Hermit


Goldsmith wrote this romantic ballad of precisely 160 lines in 1765. The hero and heroine are Edwin, a youth without wealth or power, and Angelina, the daughter of a lord "beside the Tyne." Angelina spurns many wooers, but refuses to make plain her love for young Edwin. "Quite dejected with my scorn," Edwin disappears and becomes a hermit. One day, Angelina turns up at his cell in boy's clothes and, not recognizing him, tells him her story. Edwin then reveals his true identity, and the lovers never part again. The poem is notable for its interesting portrayal of a hermit, who is fond of the natural world and his wilderness solitude but maintains a gentle, sympathetic demeanor toward other people. In keeping with eremitical tradition, however, Edwin the Hermit claims to "spurn the [opposite] sex." This poem appears under the title of "A Ballad" sung by the character of Mr. Burchell in Chapter 8 of Goldsmith's novel, The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield is a novel by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith. It was written in 1761 and 1762, and published in 1766, and was one of the most popular and widely read 18th-century novels among Victorians...

.

The Deserted Village


In the 1760s Goldsmith witnessed the demolition of an ancient village and destruction of its farms to clear land to become a wealthy man's garden. His poem The Deserted Village, published in 1770, expresses a fear that the destruction of villages and the conversion of land from productive agriculture to ornamental landscape garden
Landscape garden
The term landscape garden is often used to describe the English garden design style characteristic of the eighteenth century, that swept the Continent replacing the formal Renaissance garden and Garden à la française models. The work of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown is particularly influential.The...

s would ruin the peasant
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

ry.

The Deserted Village gave the demolished village the pseudonym "Sweet Auburn" and Goldsmith did not disclose the real village on which he based it. However, he did indicate it was about 50 miles (80.5 km) from London and it is widely believed to have been Nuneham Courtenay in Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire is a county in the South East region of England, bordering on Warwickshire and Northamptonshire , Buckinghamshire , Berkshire , Wiltshire and Gloucestershire ....

, which Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt
Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt
Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt, of Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, PC, FRS, Viceroy of Ireland , known as 2nd Viscount Harcourt, of Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, between 1727 and 1749, was a British diplomat and general....

 had demolished and moved 1 miles (1.6 km) away to make the park for his newly built Nuneham House
Nuneham House
Nuneham House is a Palladian villa, at Nuneham Courtenay in Oxfordshire England. It was built for Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt in 1756. It is owned by Oxford University and is currently used as a retreat centre by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University...

.

In Ireland the village described in the poem is thought to be Glasson village, nr Athlone. Signage around the village points out the association with Oliver Goldsmith. The village is also described as the "village of the roses" since in the poem Glasson appears as Sweet Auburn which locally means 'Roses'. Glasson was famous in the 1800s for its rose bloom and the local landlord, Robert Temple is said to have walked the village giving prizes for the best presented houses.

In popular culture, the poem's first line "Sweet Auburn, Loveliest village of the plain" is the basis for the term "Auburn Plainsman/Plainsmen" which is used to refer to an Auburn University
Auburn University
Auburn University is a public university located in Auburn, Alabama, United States. With more than 25,000 students and 1,200 faculty members, it is one of the largest universities in the state. Auburn was chartered on February 7, 1856, as the East Alabama Male College, a private liberal arts...

 student and is also the source for the name of the University student Newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman
The Auburn Plainsman
The Auburn Plainsman is the student-run newspaper for Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. It has notably received awards for excellence from the Associated Collegiate Press and is the second-most decorated student publication in the history of the National Pacemaker competition.It is published...

.

Other works


The ironic poem, An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog was published in 1766.

Goldsmith is also thought to have written the classic children's tale The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes
The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes
The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes is a little children's story published by John Newbery in London in 1765. The story popularized the phrase "goody two-shoes", often used to describe an excessively virtuous person.-Plot:...

.

Memorials concerning Oliver Goldsmith



Goldsmith lived in Kingsbury
Kingsbury
Kingsbury is an area in the London Borough of Brent, northwest London. The name Kingsbury means "The King's Manor".-History:Kingsbury was historically a small parish in the Hundred of Gore and county of Middlesex. Until the nineteenth century it was largely rural with only scattered settlements....

, now in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 between 1771–1774 and the Oliver Goldsmith Primary School there is named after him.

In the play Marx In Soho by Howard Zinn
Howard Zinn
Howard Zinn was an American historian, academic, author, playwright, and social activist. Before and during his tenure as a political science professor at Boston University from 1964-88 he wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United...

, Marx makes a reference to Goldsmiths' poem, The Deserted Village.

A statue of him stands at the Front Arch of Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin , formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, was founded in 1592 by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I as the "mother of a university", Extracts from Letters Patent of Elizabeth I, 1592: "...we...found and...

.

His name has been given to a new lecture theatre and student accommodation on the Trinity College campus: Goldsmith Hall.

Somerset Maugham used the last line from An Elegy On The Death Of A Mad Dog in his novel The Painted Veil (1925). The character Walter Fane's last words are The dog it was that died.

Auburn, Alabama
Auburn, Alabama
Auburn is a city in Lee County, Alabama, United States. It is the largest city in eastern Alabama with a 2010 population of 53,380. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area...

 and Auburn University
Auburn University
Auburn University is a public university located in Auburn, Alabama, United States. With more than 25,000 students and 1,200 faculty members, it is one of the largest universities in the state. Auburn was chartered on February 7, 1856, as the East Alabama Male College, a private liberal arts...

 were named for the first line in Goldsmith's poem: "Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain." Auburn is still referred to as the 'loveliest village on the plain.'

There is a statue in Ballymahon
Ballymahon
Ballymahon on the River Inny is a town in the southern part of County Longford, Ireland. It is located at the junction of the N55 National secondary road and the R392 regional road. Ballymahon derives its name from Gaelic Baile Mathuna Town of Mahon...

 County Longford
County Longford
County Longford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Longford.Longford County Council is the local authority for the county...

.

London Underground locomotive number 16 (used on the Metropolitan line
Metropolitan Line
The Metropolitan line is part of the London Underground. It is coloured in Transport for London's Corporate Magenta on the Tube map and in other branding. It was the first underground railway in the world, opening as the Metropolitan Railway on 10 January 1863...

 of the London Underground
London Underground
The London Underground is a rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in England...

 until 1962) was named Oliver Goldsmith.

External links