Ryklof Michael van Goens - Philologist

Personal data
Ryklof Michael van Goens
Born 1748
Died July 25, 1810
in Werningerode

Son of Daniel François van Goens (1717-1791) and Catharina Juliana Cuninghame (1714-1779).

"A prodigy of learning", who was appointed Professor Extraordinary of Ancient Literature at the University of Utrecht in 1766.1  As early as 1765 he had supplied the notes to a new edition of Porphyrius' De Antro Nymphorum.2 He stayed on as a professor at the University but apparently was forced to leave in 1776. As a member of the party of the Stadtholder William V, he became a member of the city council that same year, and in the following years, he was one of the major critics of the Dutch support to the Americans. In 1786 he had to leave the council as well, after which he left the country entirely. During the remainder of his life he lived in Basel, Erfurt and Dresden before, in 1802, he arrived in Werningerode where he died on July 25, 1810.

  • 1 Boswell in Holland, p. 247n2
  • 2Entry Porphyrius in Chalmers' Biographical Dictionary Volume 25. Porphyrius ((233-304 AD) was an ancient philosopher of some renown. He wrote the first biography of the more famous Plotinus.
Life with Boswell

Boswell met the boy wonder on May 23, 1764, describing him as "lively though very learned" and made a note to "see him often" which, apparently, he didn't.


A couple of Goens' political writings are available via AbeBooks, as is Wille's (1924) De literator R.M.van Goens en zijn Kring. Studiën over de tweede helft der 18e Eeuw, which I suspect is partly a biography of Goens.