Citizen of the World

Date: 1900

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Goldsmith’s England



Fine Gentlemen and Fine Ladies


To make a fine gentleman, several trades are required, but chiefly a barber; you have undoubtedly heard of the Jewish champion,3 whose strength lay in his hair: one would think that the English were for placing all wisdom there. To appear wise, nothing more is requisite here than for a man to borrow hair from the heads of all his neighbors, and clap it like a bush on his own: the distributors of law and physic stick on such quantities, that it is almost impossible even in idea to distinguish between the head and the hair.

Those whom I have been now describing affect the gravity of the lion; those I am going to describe more resemble the pert vivacity of smaller animals. The barber, who is still master of the ceremonies, cuts their hair close to the crown; and then with a composition of meal and hog’s lard, plasters the whole in such a manner as to make it impossible to distinguish whether the patient wears a cap or a plaster; but to make the picture more perfectly striking, conceive the tail of some beast, a grayhound’s tail, or a pig’s tail for instance, appended to the back of the head, and reaching down to that place where tails in other animals are generally seen to begin; thus betailed and bepowdered, the man of taste fancies he improves in beauty, dresses up his hard-featured face in smiles, and attempts to look hideously tender. Thus equipped, he is qualified to make love, and hopes for success more from the powder on the outside of his head than the sentiments within.

Yet when I consider what sort of a creature the fine lady is, to whom he is supposed to pay his addresses, it is not strange to find him thus equipped in order to please. She is herself every whit as fond of powder, and tails, and hog’s lard as he: to speak my secret sentiments, most reverend Fum Hoam,1 the ladies here are horridly ugly; I can hardly endure the sight of them; they no way resemble the beauties of China: the Europeans have a quite different idea of beauty from us; when I reflect on the small-footed perfections of an Eastern beauty, how is it possible I should have eyes for a woman whose feet are ten inches long. I shall never forget the beauties of my native city of Nanfew. How very broad their faces; how very short their noses; how very little their eyes; how very thin their lips; how very black their teeth; the snow on the tops of Bao is not fairer than their cheeks; and their eyebrows are small as the line by the pencil of Quamsi. Here a lady with such perfections would be frightful; Dutch and Chinese beauties indeed have some resemblance, but English women are entirely different; red cheeks, big eyes, and teeth of a most odious whiteness are not only seen here, but wished for; and then they have such masculine feet as actually serve some for walking!

Yet uncivil as nature has been, they seem resolved to outdo her in unkindness; they use white powder, blue powder, and black powder for their hair, and a red powder for the face on some particular occasions.

They like to have the face of various colors, as among the Tartars of Koreki, frequently sticking on, with spittle, little black patches on every part of it, except on the tip of the nose, which I have never seen with a patch. You’ll have a better idea of their manners of placing these spots, when I have finished a map of an English face patched up to the fashion, which shall shortly be sent to increase your curious collection of paintings, medals, and monsters.

But what surprises more than all the rest, is, what I have just now been credibly informed by one of this country: "Most ladies here," says he, "have two faces; one face to sleep in, and another to show in company; the first is generally reserved for the husband and family at home, the other put on to please strangers abroad; the family face is often indifferent enough, but the outdoor one looks something better; this is always made at the toilet, where the looking-glass and toad-eater sit in council and settle the complexions of the day."

1 Oliver Goldsmith, , edited by Austin Dobson. 2 vols. London, 1900. J. M. Dent and Sons, Ltd.

2 Goldsmith, , vol. i, pp. 24#8211;26.

3 Samson.

1 Goldsmith took this name from the title of a work Chinese Tales; or the Wonderful Adventures of the Mandarine Fum Hoam, translated from the French and published in 1725.


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Chicago: Austin Dobson, ed., "Fine Gentlemen and Fine Ladies," Citizen of the World in Readings in Modern European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: D.C. Heath, 1926), 170–171. Original Sources, accessed September 29, 2023,

MLA: . "Fine Gentlemen and Fine Ladies." Citizen of the World, edited by Austin Dobson, Vol. i, in Readings in Modern European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, D.C. Heath, 1926, pp. 170–171. Original Sources. 29 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: (ed.), 'Fine Gentlemen and Fine Ladies' in Citizen of the World. cited in 1926, Readings in Modern European History, ed. , D.C. Heath, Boston, pp.170–171. Original Sources, retrieved 29 September 2023, from