An Essay on Modern Education.
From frequently reflecting upon the course and method of educating youth in this and a neighbouring kingdom, with the general success and consequence thereof, I am come to this determination: that education is always the worse, in proportion to the wealth and grandeur of the parents; nor do I doubt in the least, that if the whole world were now under the dominion of one monarch, (provided I might be allowed to choose where he should fix the seat of his empire,) the only son and heir of that monarch would be the worst educated mortal that ever was born since the creation; and I doubt the same proportion will hold through all degrees and titles, from an emperor downwards to the common gentry.
I do not say, that this has been always the case; for in better times it was directly otherwise, and a scholar may fill half his Greek and Roman shelves with authors of the noblest birth, as well as highest virtue: nor do I tax all nations at present with this defect, for I know there are some to be excepted, and particularly Scotland, under all the disadvantages of its climate and soil, if that happiness be not rather owing even to those very disadvantages. What is then to be done, if this reflection must fix on two countries, which will be most ready to take offence, and which, of all others, it will be least prudent or safe to offend?
But there is one circumstance yet more dangerous and lamentable: for if, according to the postulatum already laid down, the higher quality any youth is of, he is in greater likelihood to be worse educated; it behoves me to dread, and keep far from the verge of scandalum magnatum.
Retracting therefore that hazardous postulatum, I shall venture no farther at present than to say, that perhaps some additional care in educating the sons of nobility and principal gentry, might not be ill employed. If this be not delivered with softness enough, I must for the future be silent.
In the mean time, let me ask...