and inclination to examine the occupations 
of other people. The contemplation of so 
great a variety of objects necessarily exercises 
their minds in endless comparisons end combinations
and renders their understandings
in an extraordinary degree, both acute and 
comprehensive. Unless those few, however, 
happen to be placed in some very particular 
situations, their great abilities, though honourable 
to themselves, may contribute very 
little to the good government or happiness of 
their society. Notwithstanding the great abilities 
of those few, all the nobler parts of the 
human character may be, in a great measure, 
obliterated end extinguished in the great 
body of the people
The education of the common people requires
perhaps, in a civilized and commercial 
society, the attention of the public, more than 
that of people of some rank and fortune
People of some rank and fortune are generally 
eighteen or nineteen years of age, before 
they enter upon that particular business, profession
or trade, by which they propose to 
distinguish themselves in the world. They 
have, before that, full time to acquire, or at 
least to fit themselves for afterwards acquiring
every accomplishment which can recommend 
them to the public esteem, or render 
them worthy of it. Their parents or guardians 
are generally sufficiently anxious that 
they should be so accomplished, and are, in 
most cases, willing enough to lay out the expense 
which is necessary for that purpose. If 
they are not always properly educated, it is 
seldom from the want of expense laid out upon 
their education, but from the improper application 
of that expense. It is seldom from 
the want of masters, but from the negligence 
and incapacity of the masters who are to be 
had, and from the difficulty, or rather from 
the impossibility, which there is, in the present 
state of things, of finding any better. 
The employments, too, in which people of 
some rank or fortune spend the greater part 
of their lives, are not, like those of the common 
people, simple and uniform. They are 
almost all of them extremely complicated, 
and such as exercise the head more than the 
hands. The understandings of those who are 
engaged in such employments, can seldom 
grow torpid for want of exercise. The 
employments of people of some rank and fortune
besides, are seldom such as harass them 
from morning to night. They generally have 
a good deal of leisure, during which they 
may perfect themselves in every branch, either 
of useful or ornamental knowledge, of which 
they may have laid the foundation, or for 
which they may have acquired some taste in 
the earlier part of life
It is otherwise with the common people
They have little time to spare for education
Their parents can scarce afford to maintain 
them, even in infancy. As soon as they are 
able to work, they must apply to some trade, 
by which they can earn their subsistence
That trade, too, is generally so simple and 
uniform, as to give little exercise to the understanding
while, at the same time, their 
labour is both so constant and so severe, that 
it leaves them little leisure and less inclination 
to apply to, or even to think of any thing 
But though the common people cannot, in 
any civilized society, be so well instructed as 
people of some rank and fortune; the most 
essential parts of education, however, to read
write, and account, can be acquired at so 
early a period of life, that the greater part
even of those who are to be bred to the lowest 
occupations, have time to acquire them before 
they can be employed in those occupations
For a very small expense, the public can facilitate, 
can encourage, and can even impose 
upon almost the whole body of the people, the 
necessity of acquiring those most essential 
parts of education
The public can facilitate this acquisition
by establishing in every parish or district a 
little school, where children may be taught 
for a reward so moderate, that even a common 
labourer may afford it; the master being partly, 
but not wholly, paid by the public; because, if 
he was wholly, or even principally, paid by it, 
he would soon learn to neglect his business
In Scotland, the establishment of such parish 
schools has taught almost the whole common 
people to read, and a very great proportion of 
them to write and account. In England, the 
establishment of charity schools has had an 
effect of the same kind, though not so universally, 
because the establishment is not so 
universal. If, in those little schools, the 
books by which the children are taught to 
read, were a little more instructive than they 
commonly are; and if, instead of a little 
smattering in Latin, which the children of the 
common people are sometimes taught there, 
and which can scarce ever be of any use to 
them, they were instructed in the elementary 
parts of geometry and mechanics; the literary 
education of this rank of people would, perhaps, 
be as complete as can be. There is 
scarce a common trade, which does not afford 
some opportunities of applying to it the principles 
of geometry and mechanics, and which 
would not, therefore, gradually exercise and 
improve the common people in those principles
the necessary introduction to the most 
sublime, as well as to the most useful sciences
The public can encourage the acquisition 
of those most essential parts of education, by 
giving small premiums, and little badges of 
distinction, to the children of the common 
people who excel in them. 
The public can impose upon almost the 
whole body of the people the necessity of acquiring 
the most essential parts of education
by obliging every man to undergo an examination