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18
FIRESIDE EDUCATION.
the rest of the community. Knowledge was even then known to be power, and these crafty despots feared its dissemination among the peo­ple. They sought, therefore, to confine it to the loyal college, knowing that it was in this way a mighty weapon which they might wield at pleasure.
Such were the current notions, such the preva­lent policy throughout civilized Europe, when our fathers set their foot upon the rock at Ply­mouth. What a glorious bursting of the chains of prejudice did these men display, when they adopted, as the very platform of their political system, that every member of society was to receive the benefits of enlightened instruction ! Education was not here to be the exclusive boon of the few—it was to be shared by the whole people. The Bastile of human igno­rance, in which European despotism was accus­tomed to imprison the minds of men, was never to be erected on these happy shores. The light of learning, which tyranny would permit to shine only within the walls of the university, was here to spread its rays, not upon the fortu­nate few alone, but upon all alike. The sun, which had been appropriated as of right belong­ing only to a privileged class, was to shed its illumination and bestow its vivifying power
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