Wide World of Quotes > Oliver Goldsmith Quotes


Oliver Goldsmith
Irish writer, poet and dramatist
(1728-74)



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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

Where'er I roam, whatever realms I see,
My heart untraveled fondly turns to thee;
Still to my brother turns with ceaseless pain,
And drags at each remove a lengthening chain.
-- The Traveller (1764)

Such is the patriot's boast, where'er we roam,
His first, best country ever is, at home.
-- The Traveller (1764)

Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
I see the lords of humankind pass by.
-- The Traveller (1764)

Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law
-- The Traveller (1764)

I was ever of the opinion that the honest man who married and brought up a large family, did more service than he who continued single, and only talked of population.
-- The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), opening lines

I...chose a wife, as she did her wedding gown, not for a fine glossy surface, but such qualities as would wear well.
-- The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), ch. 1

All our adventures were by the fire-side, and all our migrations from the blue bed to the brown.
-- The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), ch. 1

That virtue which requires to be ever guarded is scarce worth the sentinel.
-- The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), ch. 5

It seemed to be pretty plain, that they had more of love than matrimony in them.
-- The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), ch. 16

The man recovered of the bite,
The dog it was that died.
-- The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), Ch. 17, An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog, st. 8.

When lovely woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can soothe her melancholy?
What art can wash her guilt away?
-- The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), Ch. 29, Song, st. 1

Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain.
-- The Deserted Village (1770)

Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay;
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroyed, can never be supplied.Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain.
-- The Deserted Village (1770)

His best companions, innocence and health;
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
-- The Deserted Village (1770)

A man severe he was, and stern to view;
I knew him well, and every truant knew:
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
The day's disasters in his morning face;
Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee,
At all his jokes, for many a joke had he;
Full well the bust whisper, circling round,
Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned;
Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault;
The village all declared how much he knew;
'Twas certain he could write, and cipher too.
-- The Deserted Village (1770)

In arguing too, the parson owned his skill,
For e'en though vanquished, he could argue still;
While words of learned length, and thundering sound
Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around;
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
-- The Deserted Village (1770)

In my time, the follies of the town crept slowly among us, but now they travel faster than a stagecoach.
-- She Stoops to Conquer (1771)

I love everything that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.
-- She Stoops to Conquer (1771)

The very pink of perfection.
-- She Stoops to Conquer (1771)

Let schoolmasters puzzle their brain,
With grammar, and nonsense, and learning;
Good liquor, I stoutly maintain,
Gives genus a better discerning.
-- She Stoops to Conquer (1771)

I'll be with you in the squeezing of a lemon.
-- She Stoops to Conquer (1771)

A modest woman, dressed out in all her finery, is the most tremendous object of the whole creation.
-- She Stoops to Conquer (1771)

The first blow is half the battle.
-- She Stoops to Conquer (1771)

Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no fibs.
-- She Stoops to Conquer (1771)

Oh sir! I must not tell my age.
They say women and music should never be dated.
-- She Stoops to Conquer (1771)

When they talked of their Raphaels, Correggios, and stuff,
He shifted his trumpet and only took snuff.
-- Of the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. In: Retaliation (1774)


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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