Transcript of Will Fletcher Video’s About Oliver Goldsmith, April 29 2022 by John Smithin


Hello. My name is John Smithin and I am the Executive Co-Director and a Fellow of the Aurora Philosophy Institute, here in Aurora, Ontario, Canada. I am here today with Will Fletcher who, I think, has a few philosophical suggestions for us. Welcome, Will.




I remember so well the lessons of one of my Mathematics teachers many, many years ago when I was in my early teens. Before starting any session in arithmetic, algebra, or geometry, he would say a few words on the news of the day or on a completely different subject – the Great Wall of China or the Pyramids of Egypt, for example, or even the subtleties of the English language.

In this spirit of touching non-conformity, I suggest a few words from a favoured poetmaybe at the beginning of one of our Philosophy Club sessions.


Extracts From: The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith - 1728 to 1774

            And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,

50        Far, far away, thy children leave the land.

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:

55        But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,

When once destroy'd, can never be supplied.

 A time there was, ere England's griefs began,

When every rood of ground maintain'd its man;

For him light labour spread her wholesome store,

60       Just gave what life requir'd, but gave no more:

His best companions, innocence and health;

And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.

                        ……       …..       ……                                          

205     Yet he [the village schoolmaster] was kind, or, if severe in aught,

The love he bore to learning was in fault;

The village all declar'd how much he knew;

'Twas certain he could write, and cypher too:

Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,

210      And ev'n the story ran that he could gauge.

In arguing, too, the parson own'd his skill,

For, ev'n though vanquish'd, he could argue still;

While words of learned length and thundering sound

Amazed the gazing rustics rang'd around;

215      And still they gaz'd, and still the wonder grew,

That one small head could carry all he knew.



The Maths teacher once blended Arithmetic and English by asking: What’s the difference between ten square feet and ten feet squared?  Answer: Ninety square feet.



Thanks Will – very good, very good indeed! So, I think what we will do (with your permission) is to put this up on the API You Tube Channel. And, also the transcript in the API Blog at Thanks a lot.