Note.---If Mr. Bentham had consented to revise his MSS., which were written more than forty years ago, be might have seen reason to alter many of his observations. In England, much has been done in the interval. Public opinion has sensibly changed respecting the value of classical learning. It is highly esteemed at college, but elsewhere it is now only considered as an accessary: the most enlightened parents regret that it is still the only object of instruction in our public schools.
Since the establishment of the Royal Institution, many similar institutions have been formed, and a general desire for useful knowledge has been disseminated. The ladies have displayed a persevering ardour in their attendance on these means of instruction, so much the more praiseworthy, as it has been uniformly elicited by inclination alone. Elementary works have been multiplied, but all this has been done by the exertions of individuals, without any encouragement from the State.
As to public education, it is more easily created than reformed. A good institution would be the best criticism upon the bad. If two or three colleges were founded in London, suited to the wants of the more numerous classes of those who are destined to the pursuits of art, trade, or commerce, in which not Latin or Greek (almost always useless in these avocations) should be taught, but the national language, which has generally been neglected, together with all those branches of knowledge, which if not absolutely necessary, are always useful and agreeable, we should soon see these seminaries draw together a crowd of scholars, and the old colleges would be obliged to correct their system, in order to maintain their ground.
It may be said, that private schools may supply the deficiency; but there is a great difference between public and private establishments. Private education can only succeed by a train of happy events, whilst in public education, a multitude of circumstances are overcome. Besides, domestic education is limited to the rich, whilst public instruction is adapted to the most moderate fortunes.
Dumont.RR Book 3 Chapter 3