most essential parts of literary education, to 
read, write, and account, it still continues to 
be more common to acquire in private than in 
public schools; and it very seldom happens, 
that anybody fails of acquiring them to the 
degree in which it is necessary to acquire 
In England, the public schools are much 
less corrupted than the universities. In the 
schools, the youth are taught, or at least may 
be taught, Greek and Latin; that is, every 
thing which the masters pretend to teach, or 
which it is expected they should teach. In 
the universities, the youth neither are taught
nor always can find any proper means of 
being taught the sciences, which it is the business 
of those incorporated bodies to teach
The reward of the schoolmaster, in most 
cases, depends principally, in some cases almost 
entirely, upon the fees or honoraries of 
his scholars. Schools have no exclusive privileges
In order to obtain the honours of 
graduation, it is not necessary that a person 
should bring a certificate of his having studied 
a certain number of years at a public school
If, upon examination, he appears to understand 
what is taught there, no questions are 
asked about the place where he learnt it. 
The parts of education which are commonly 
taught in universities, it may perhaps be 
said, are not very well taught. But had it 
not been for those institutions, they would 
not have been commonly taught at all; and 
both the individual and the public would have 
suffered a good deal from the want of those 
important parts of education
The present universities of Europe were 
originally, the greater part of them, ecclesiastical 
corporations, instituted for the education 
of churchmen. They were founded by 
the authority of the pope; and were so entirely 
under his immediate protection, that 
their members, whether masters or students
had all of them what was then called the benefit 
of clergy, that is, were exempted from 
the civil jurisdiction of the countries in which 
their respective universities were situated, and 
were amenable only to the ecclesiastical tribunals
What was taught in the greater part 
of those universities was suitable to the end 
of their institution, either theology, or something 
that was merely preparatory to theology
When Christianity was first established by 
law, a corrupted Latin had become the common 
language of all the western parts of 
Europe. The service of the church, accordingly, 
and the translation of the Bible which 
were read in churches, were both in that corrupted 
Latin; that is, in the common language 
of the country. After the irruption of 
the barbarous nations who overturned the 
Roman empire, Latin gradually ceased to be 
the language of any part of Europe. But 
the reverence of the people naturally preserves 
the established forms and ceremonies of religion 
long after the circumstances which first 
introduced and rendered them reasonable, are 
no more. Though Latin, therefore, was no 
longer understood anywhere by the great 
body of the people, the whole service of the 
church still continued to be performed in that 
language. Two different languages were 
thus established in Europe, in the same manner 
as in ancient Egypt: a language of the 
priests, and a language of the people; a 
sacred and a profane, a learned and an unlearned 
language. But it was necessary that 
the priests should understand something of 
that sacred and learned language in which 
they were to officiate; and the study of the 
Latin language therefore made, from the 
beginning, an essential part of university 
It was not so with that either of the Greek 
or of the Hebrew language. The infallible 
decrees of the church had pronounced the 
Latin translation of the Bible, commonly 
called the Latin Vulgate, to have been equally 
dictated by divine inspiration, and therefore 
of equal authority with the Greek and 
Hebrew originals. The knowledge of those 
two languages, therefore, not being indispensably 
requisite to a churchman, the study 
of them did not for a long time make a necessary 
part of the common course of university 
education. There are some Spanish 
universities, I am assured, in which the study 
of the Greek language has never yet made 
any part of that course. The first reformers 
found the Greek text of the New Testament
and even the Hebrew text of the Old, more 
favourable to their opinions than the vulgate 
translation, which, as might naturally 
be supposed, had been gradually accommodated 
to support the doctrines of the Catholic 
Church. They set themselves, therefore, to 
expose the many errors of that translation
which the Roman catholic clergy were thus 
put under the necessity of defending or explaining
But this could not well be done 
without some knowledge of the original languages
of which the study was therefore gradually 
introduced into the greater part of 
universities; both of those which embraced, 
and of those which rejected, the doctrines of 
the reformation. The Greek language was 
connected with every part of that classical 
learning, which, though at first principally 
cultivated by catholics and Italians, happened 
to come into fashion much about the same 
time that the doctrines of the reformation 
were set on foot. In the greater part of universities
therefore, that language was taught 
previous to the study of philosophy, and as 
soon as the student had made some progress 
in the Latin. The Hebrew language having 
no connection with classical learning, and, 
except the Holy Scriptures, being the language 
of not a single book in any esteem