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sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive. To tyrants, indeed, and bad rulers, the progress of knowledge among the mass of mankind is a just object of terror; it is fatal to them and their designs; they know this by an unerring instinct, and unceasingly they dread the light. But they will find it more easy to curse than to extinguish. It is spreading in spite of them, even in those countries where arbitrary power deems itself most secure; and in England any attempt to check its progress would only bring about the sudden destruction of him who should be insane enough to make it. Let no one be afraid of the bulk of the community becoming too accomplished for their superiors. Well educated, and even well versed in the most elevated sciences, they assuredly may become; and the worst consequences that can follow to their superiors, will be, that to deserve being called their betters, they too must devote themselves more to the pursuit of solid and refined learning. The present public seminaries must be
enlarged; and some of the greater cities of the kingdom, especially the metropolis, must not be left destitute of the regular means within themselves of scientific education,”
CAPACITY OF CHILDREN TO ACQUIRE
“The child, when he first comes into the world, may care very little for what is passing around him, although he is, of necessity, always learning something, even at the first; but, after a certain period, he is in a rapid progress of instruction ; his curiosity becomes irrepressible; the thirst for knowledge is predominating in his mind, and it is as universal as insatiable. During the period between the ages of eighteen months to two years and six, I will even say five, he learns much more of the material world—of his own powers—of the nature of other bodies—even of his mind, and of others' minds, than he ever after acquires, during all the years of boyhood, youth, and manhood. Every child, even of the most ordinary capacity, learns more, acquires a greater mass of knowledge, and of a more useful kind, at this tender age, than the greatest philosopher is enabled to build up during the longest life of
the most successful investigation, even were he to live to eighty years
the splendid career of a Newton or a La Place. The knowledge which an infant stores up—the ideas which are generated in his mind-are so important that, if we could suppose them to be afterwards obliterated, all the learning of a senior wrangler at Cambridge, or a first-class man at Oxford, would be as nothing to it, and would, literally, not enable its victim to prolong his existence for a week. This being altogether undeniable, how is it that so much is learned at this tender age ? Not, certainly, by teaching or by any pains taken to help the newly-arrived guest of this world. It is almost all accomplished by his own exertion—by the irrepressible curiosity--the thirst for knowledge, only to be appeased by learning, or by the fatigues and the sleep which it superinduces. It is all effected by the instinctive spirit of inquiry, which brings his mind into a perpetual course of induction, engaging him in a series of experiments, which begins when he awakes in the morning and only ends when he falls asleep.
All he learns during these years he learns, not only without pain, but with an intense delight
-a relish keener than appetite known at our jaded and listless age--and learns in one-tenth of the time which, in after life, would be required for its acquisition. Perverse and obstinate habits are formed before the age of seven, and the mind that might have been moulded like wet clay in a plastic hand, becomes sullen, untractable-obdurate, after that age. To this inextinguishable passion for all learning, succeeds a dislike for instruction amounting almost to disease. Gentle feelings -a kind and compassionate nature-an ingenuous, open temper-unsuspecting, and wanting no guard, are succeeded by violence, and recklessness, and bad morals, and base fear, and concealment, and even falsehood, till he is forced to school, not only ignorant of what is good, but also much learned in what is bad. These are the effects of the old system; the postponed education, and the neglected tuition of infants."
Speech, February 24, 1835,