„Do not let your zeal for the cause of democracy deceive you as to the fact of the opaque ignorance in which the great bulk of the people of England are wrapt. If you write for the masses politically, and write soundly and honestly, they will not be able at present to appreciate you, and consequently will not support you…There is no remedy for all this but improved education. Such as the tail and the body are, such will be the character of the head. Nature does not produce such monsters as an ignorant or vicious community, and virtuous and wise leaders. In Scotland you are better off because you are better educated. The great body of the English peasants are not a jot advanced in intellect since the days of their Saxon ancestors. I hope you will join us in a cry for schoolmasters as a first step to Radicalism.“
Letter to W. Tait (17 August 1838), quoted in John Morley, The Life of Richard Cobden (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1905), p. 127.