Those masters who allege the incapacity of tender years, only tacitly reproach their own: those who are incapable of teaching young minds to reason, pretend that it is impossible. The truth is they are fonder of making their pupils talk well than think well; and much the greater number are better qualified to give praise to a ready memory than a sound judgment.

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) Irish poet, playwright, novelist
The History of England; in a Series of Letters from a Nobleman to His Son, Letter 1 (1764)

Added on 8-Jun-17 | Last updated 12-Jun-17
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2 thoughts on “<i>The History of England; in a Series of Letters from a Nobleman to His Son</i>, Letter 1 (1764)”

  1. Hugh Hyatt

    I found several Goldsmith works that might reasonably be referred to by the title “The History of England”, all in the list of selected works of Goldsmith, with links, at

    • An History of England in a Series of Letters from a Nobleman to His Son (1764);
    • The history of England: from the Earliest Times to the Death of George II (1771); and
    • Dr. Goldsmith’s History of England, Abridged by Himself, to which is added a very Extensive and Faithful Continuation to the Death of the Duke of York (1774).

    I looked in the second of these for this quote without success. Then I discovered the first and found the quote therein. It’s in Letter I on p. 3, not in any introduction. You have the correct publication date, but my searching indicates that “The History of England” almost always refers to the second of these three titles.

    Just for fun, I also learned that there is also “Pinnock’s improved edition of Dr Goldsmith’s abridgment of the History of England with a Continuation to the Reign of Terror of George the Fourth” (1821?) and even “Whittaker’s improved edition of Pinnock’s Goldsmith’s History of England, from the invasion of Julius Cæsar to the death of George II, with a continuation to the present time” (no later than 1843). I didn’t look to see the relationship of these to Goldsmith’s original works.

    1. Thanks, Hugh. I’ve updated the title (I had the date for the correct one, at least, but I can understand the confusion). Oddly enough, in the volume at the link you provide, it does have that quotation in the section labeled “Introduction” (, but in the Google Book I found that is strictly the History (linked to as “Source”), it shows up in Letter 1 as you suggest, and given the form of address, I’m going to update the title to reflect that as well.

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