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The way we were: The purpose of education

Extracts from memoirs and diaries, chosen by Ian Irvine

By Ian Irvine   April 2014

Pupils at Harrow, where Norwood was headmaster, wheel books to class, 1930 ©Mary Evans Picture Library/Imagno

In 1757, Soames Jenyns MP writes in praise of ignorance: “Ignorance, or the want of knowledge and literature, the appointed lot of all born to poverty and the drudgeries of life, is the only opiate capable of infusing that insensibility, which can enable them to endure the miseries of the one, and the fatigues of the other. It is a cordial, administered by the gracious hand of providence, of which they ought never to be…

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