Quotation by Horace Walpole

When Prince William [later King William IV] was at Cork in 1787, an old officer ... dined with him, and happened to say he had been forty years in the service. The Prince with a sneer asked what he had learnt in those forty years. The old gentleman justly offended, said, "Sir, I have learnt, when I am no longer fit to fight, to make as good a retreat as I can" —and walked out of the room.
Horace Walpole (1717–1797), British author. Horace Walpole's Miscellany 1786-1795, p. 69, ed. Lars E. Troide, Yale University Press (1978).

originally written in 1788; the officer was Maj.-Gen. James Patterson (d. 1789).
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