The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

XIV. Education

§ 11. Priestley

Joseph Priestley’s Miscellaneous Observations relating to Education (1778) contains an anticipation of the first chapter of Herbert Spencer’s Education so close in thought and phrase as to suggest Spencer’s familiarity with the book. The theme is education as preparatory to “subsistence,” and the study of natural science is the means proposed. Priestley urges a claim for a type of instruction suitable to those whose destination is neither the university nor the counting-house. Like many of his contemporaries, he believed that, if the customary curriculum was to escape general repudiation, useful knowledge must be included in it; but he was even more anxious to base a liberal education upon a course of modern studies.