Discipline in the Good Old Days
Wanting elbow room, the chair would be quickly
thrust on one side, and Master John Todd was to be seen
dragging his struggling suppliant to the flogging ground
upon the center of the room. Having placed his left foot
upon the end of a bench, with a patent jerk peculiar to
himself, he would have the boy completely horsed across
his knee, with his left elbow on the back of his neck to keep him securely on. . . . Having his victim thus com-
pletely at his command . . . , once more to the staring
crew would be exhibited the dexterity of master and
strap. . . . Moving in quick time, the fifteen inches of bridle rein would be seen, . . . leaving on "the place beneath" a fiery streak at every slash.
"Does it hurt?"
"Oh yes, Master! Oh don't Master!"
"Then I'll make it hurt thee more. . . . Thou shan't want a warming pan tonight."1
Such were the memories of school life from one American school. These were the "good old days," but I suspect that very few of us would care to go back to this particular type of discipline. We would not feel completely at ease watching Master Todd's face assume a deep claret color, or admire the grimace of his face as the long pen, which, in the passion of the moment, he gripped in his teeth, was diabolically bent downward at both ends, paralleling his chin. It is no wonder that little George Fudge took the only means of defense open to him -- that of wearing a pair of leather breeches against which Master Todd's strap flailed in vain.
Similarly, the Memoir of William Ellery Channing recounts the discipline which was enforced in the dame school of his boyhood, by means of
Reprinted by permission of Phi Delta Kappan. "Discipline in the Good Old Days", by John Manning, December 1959.