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56
FIRESIDE EDUCATION.
people, ought we not especially to make ar­rangements for the education of every member of society to this extent ? In the choice of legis­lators, ought we not carefully to select only those who entertain just views on this subject 1
I am afraid there is great error, or at least dangerous indifference, even among enlightened men, as to this matter. The people ought to consider the point well, and exact of those who are charged with the business of legislation a conscientious and wise performance of their high duty in respect to education.
Let us, for a moment, consider the influence exercised by the legislature over the community. This body consists of the delegates of the peo­ple. It is regarded as the assembled wisdom of the state. The acts of the assembly go home to every man's mind, and produce their effect. If they enact a law, it lays its heavy impress upon the whole mass of society. Even in despotic countries, where the people look upon the lawgiver with aversion, and fear the government as an adversary, even there, the legislative edicts fashion the manners of the people, establish the standard of morals, and become the mould into which the opinions of society are cast. If such be the power of legis­lation in a monarchical country, what must it
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