The Deserted Village "Fools, Who Came To Scoff, Remained To Pray"
by Oliver Goldsmith

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"Fools, Who Came To Scoff, Remained To Pray"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In his idealized picture of the imaginary village of Auburn in the days before the Enclosure Act and the first effects of the Industrial Revolution had drained the rural population into the cities, Goldsmith gives a series of sketches of village people with all of the virtues that he attributed to those who led simple lives close to nature. One of the most famous of these characters is the village clergyman, usually regarded as a picture drawn from the poet's own father. The clergyman is depicted as a man of simple piety, content to do his duty in humble surroundings, beloved by his parishoners for his genuine religious convictions:

At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorn'd the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevail'd with double sway,
And fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray.