OLIVER GOLDSMITH 1728 -
xxxxxOliver Goldsmith, the Anglo-
xxxxxThe son of an Anglican
curate, he was born at Kilkenny West in central Ireland, but spent
most of his childhood at nearby Lissoy. He attended Trinity College,
Dublin and then spent two years studying medicine at Edinburgh
University. After two years travelling on the continent as a
xxxxxIn 1766 Goldsmith's reputation and livelihood were secured with his The Vicar of Wakefield, though, by all accounts, its publication had to be hastened through by his friend Samuel Johnson to prevent his going to jail as a debtor! This one and only novel told of the misfortunes which befell an ineffectual vicar, Charles Primrose, and his unfortunate family, when he found himself without an income. Perhaps based, loosely or otherwise, upon the author’s own family life as a child, its sentimental and moral context had a strong appeal, as did the dignified and steadfast way in which the Reverend Primrose bore his tribulations, unaware of the happy ending around the last corner. A melodramatic tale but not without humour, it proved extremely popular.
xxxxxHis poem The
Deserted Village was made of sterner stuff. It was a timely
social comment as well as a tender, sympathetic poem on the social
effects of the enclosure movement, lamenting as it did the demise of
the small, close-
xxxxxShe Stoops to Conquer -
xxxxxIn addition to his original works, Goldsmith was obliged by reason of extravagance, to continue his hack work throughout his life. He wrote histories of Rome, Greece and England, a number of biographies, including the lives of the poet Thomas Parnell and the politician Lord Bolingbroke, and he had a hand in translations, anthologies and articles on popular science. It must be said that Goldsmith was not the most prepossessing of men, and his incessant gambling and lack of decorum in high society raised a few eyebrows. Samuel Johnson summed him up as only Samuel Johnson could: "No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had".
xxxxxGoldsmith was buried in the churchyard of the Church of Saint Mary (known as The Temple) in London. Later The Club erected a memorial to him in Westminster Abbey. The inscription, written by Johnson, pays tribute to a man who "touched nothing that he did not adorn".
the English portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-
The gathering illustrated on the right, held at the home of the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, was attended by some of the most distinguished men of this period.
Left to Right (all seated) are the biographer James Boswell, the writer Dr. Johnson, the host Sir Joshua, the actor David Garrick, the statesman Edmund Burke, the Corsican patriot Pasqual Paoli, the music historian Charles Burney, the poet laureate Thomas Warton, and Oliver Goldsmith himself.
xxxxxIncidentally, in 1765 the English bookseller John Newbery (1713-
InX1825 the Canadian writer Oliver Goldsmith (1798-
xxxxx…… The city of Auburn in the state of New York was very likely named after “Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain”, as described in Goldsmith's The Deserted Village.