That the successive generations of men, taken collectively, constitute one great commonwealth.
That the property of this commonwealth is pledged for the education of all its youth up to such a point as will save them from poverty and vice, and prepare them for the adequate performance of their social and civil duties.
That the successive holders of this property are trustees, bound to the faithful execution of their trust by the most sacred obligations; and that embezzlement and pillage from children have not less of criminality, and more of meanness, than the same offences perpetrated against contemporaries.
Although three generations had lived and died and been buried on the banks of the Mystic
before the first allusion to the matter of education appears on its records, we may be sure that the children had not been wholly neglected.
Domestic instruction by the mother was obliged to take the place of any public schooling, and we may be sure also that women whose hearts were brave enough to follow their husbands to this savage shore were wise enough to see that their babes were not wholly left a prey to ignorance.
And so while the husband was fighting Indians and wringing subsistence from a reluctant soil, the wife was seeing to it that the children learned to read the Bible
and repeat the catechism and obey the commandments of God.
We may not doubt that the dame school flourished— a school, as the poet Crabbe
Where a poor, deaf, patient widow sits
And awes some thirty urchins as she knits;
Infants of humble, busy wives, who pay
Some trifling price for freedom for the day.
At this good matron's hut the children meet,
Who thus becomes the mother of the street;
Her room is small, they cannot widely stray;
Her threshold high, they cannot run away;
With band of yarn she keeps offenders in,
And to her gown the sturdiest rogues can pin.