some of their courts were so very numerous), 
could not fall very heavy upon any individual
At Rome, on the contrary, the principal 
courts of justice consisted either of a 
single judge, or of a small number of judges, 
whose characters, especially as they deliberated 
always in public, could not fail to be 
very much affected by any rash or unjust decision
In doubtful cases such courts, from 
their anxiety to avoid blame, would naturally 
endeavour to shelter themselves under the example 
or precedent of the judges who had sat 
before them, either in the same or in some 
other court. This attention to practice and 
precedent, necessarily formed the Roman 
law into that regular and orderly system in 
which it has been delivered down to us; and 
the like attention has had the like effects upon 
the laws of every other country where 
such attention has taken place. The superiority 
of character in the Romans over that 
of the Greeks, so much remarked by Polybius 
and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, was 
probably more owing to the better constitution 
of their courts of justice, than to any of 
the circumstances to which those authors 
ascribe it. The Romans are said to have 
been particularly distinguished for their superior 
respect to an oath. But the people 
who were accustomed to make oath only before 
some diligent and well informed court of 
justice, would naturally be much more attentive 
to what they swore, than they who were 
accustomed to do the same thing before mobbish 
and disorderly assemblies
The abilities, both civil and military, of 
the Greeks and Romans, will readily be allowed 
to have been at least equal to those of 
any modern nation. Our prejudice is perhaps 
rather to overrate them. But except in 
what related to military exercises, the state 
seems to have been at no pains to form those 
great abilities; for I cannot be induced to 
believe that the musical education of the 
Greeks could be of much consequence in 
forming them. Masters, however, had been 
found, it seems, for instructing the better 
sort of people among those nations, in every 
art and science in which the circumstances of 
their society rendered it necessary or convenient 
for them to be instructed. The demand 
for such instruction produced, what it 
always produces, the talent for giving it; and 
the emulation which an unrestrained competition 
never fails to excite, appears to have 
brought that talent to a very high degree of 
perfection. In the attention which the ancient 
philosophers excited, in the empire 
which they acquired over the opinions and 
principles of their auditors, in the faculty 
which they possessed of giving a certain tone 
and character to the conduct and conversation 
of those auditors, they appear to have been 
much superior to any modern teachers. In 
modern times, the diligence of public teachers 
is more or less corrupted by the circumstances 
which render them more or less independent 
of their success and reputation in 
their particular professions. Their salaries
too, put the private teacher, who would pretend 
to come into competition with them, in 
the same state with a merchant who attempts 
to trade without a bounty, in competition 
with those who trade with a considerable one. 
If he sells his goods at nearly the same price
he cannot have the same profit; and poverty 
and beggary at least, if not bankruptcy and 
ruin, will infallibly be his lot. If he attempts 
to sell them much dearer, he is likely 
to have so few customers, that his circumstances 
will not be much mended. The privileges 
of graduation, besides, are in many 
countries necessary, or at least extremely convenient
to most men of learned professions
that is, to the far greater part of those who 
have occasion for a learned education. But 
those privileges can be obtained only by attending 
the lectures of the public teachers
The most careful attendance upon the ablest 
instructions of any private teacher cannot always 
give any title to demand them. It is 
from these different causes that the private 
teacher of any of the sciences, which are 
commonly taught in universities, is, in modern 
times, generally considered as in the 
very lowest order of men of letters. A man 
of real abilities can scarce find out a more 
humiliating or a more unprofitable employment 
to turn them to. The endowments of 
schools and colleges have in this manner not 
only corrupted the diligence of public teachers
but have rendered it almost impossible 
to have any good private ones. 
Were there no public institutions for education
no system, no science, would be 
taught, for which there was not some demand, 
or which the circumstances of the 
times did not render it either necessary or 
convenient, or at least fashionable to learn
A private teacher could never find his account 
in teaching either an exploded and antiquated 
system of a science acknowledged to be useful, 
or a science universally believed to be a 
mere useless and pedantic heap of sophistry 
and nonsense. Such systems, such sciences
can subsist nowhere but in those incorporated 
societies for education, whose prosperity and 
revenue are in a great measure independent 
of their industry. Were there no public institutions 
for education, a gentleman, after 
going through, with application and abilities
the most complete course of education which 
the circumstances of the times were supposed 
to afford, could not come into the world completely 
ignorant of every thing which is the 
common subject of conversation among gentlemen 
and men of the world
There are no public institutions for the 
education of women, and there is accordingly 
nothing useless, absurd, or fantastical, in the