Imatges de pàgina

of the Dean's Yard by the King's Scholars, there he met with a college salutation; for he was first presented with the ceremony of the blanket, in which, when the skeleton had been well shook, he was carried in triumph to the school: and, after receiving a grammatical construction for his false concords, he was reconducted to the Dean's Yard, and, on his knees asking pardon of the aforesaid Mr. Barber for his offense, he was kicked out of the yard and left to the huzzas of the rabble.' The incident was commemorated in a pamphlet entitled “Neck or Nothing,' with the unfortunate Curll figuring prominently in a series of tableaux, first being presented with the ceremony of the blanket,' then stretched on a table undergoing a flagellation on the breech, and lastly, on his knees between two files of Westminster scholars, asking pardon of Mr. Barber.

The rod in use at Winchester School is not of birch, but is composed of four apple-tree twigs, set in a wooden handle, and provided by two juniors who hold the office of rod-makers under the orders of the Prefect of Hall. The invention of this instrument is ascribed to Dr. John Baker, who was warden of the school for thirty-three years, from 1454–87. The mode of application was specially prescribed. The delinquent knelt down to the block or bench, and two boys 'took him up'—that is, removed the shirt between the waistband of his trousers and his waistcoat-and then the master inflicted four cuts called a 'scrubbing,' or six cuts called a "bibling,' on which occasion the Bible clerk introduced the victim. Queen Elizabeth visited Winchester in 1570. Her Majesty asked a young scholar if he had ever made acquaintance with the celebrated Winton Rod, and he replied, with more readiness than was to be expected, by an apt quotation from Virgil:

* Infandum, Regina, jubes renovare dolorem.'
'Great Queen, what you command me to relate

Renews the sad remembrance of our fute.'-DRYDEN. Shrewsbury School, about the beginning of the present century, was presided over by a great flogger, in the person of Dr. Butler. The whippings which be administered with his left hand are not yet forgotten. At this school there was a small room lighted by one narrow loophole, a receptacle for the flogging block and birch, where delinquents were confined. It was called the Blackhole, or sometimes 'Rowe's Hole,' from a youth who is said to have been a very regular occupant.

Dr. Parr deserves mention in the annals of school flagellation. He had a firm belief in the utility of the birch. At his school in Norwich there was usually a flogging levee before the classes were dismissed. His rod-maker was a man who had been sentenced to be hanged, but had been cut down and resuscitated by the surgeons; and from the hands of this amiable character, according to the account of a pupil, Parr "used to receive the birches with a complacent expression of countenance.' Another pupil speaks feelingly of the lightning of his eye, the thunder of his voice, and the weight of his arm.' One of the under masters told him one day that a certain pupil appeared to show signs of genius. “Say you so ?' said Parr, 'then begin to flog him to-morrow morning.'

Flogging went on briskly at Rugby in Dr. James's time, about 1790; and there was, in addition, plenty of caping on the hand. During the mastership of Dr. Wooll in 1813, a memorable scene occurred. One day the whole of the lower fourth class, except the boy who was up at lesson by the master's side, rushed out before the usual time. The matter was at once reported to the doctor, who sent notice that every boy in the form was to be flogged at three o'clock, before the third legson commenced. A few minutes before that hour the rod-bearer made his appearance, and preparations for the doleful ceremony were soon made. Punctually at the time Dr. Wooll entered the class-room, and calling for the list, began with the head boy, and went regularly through the thirty-eight, including, unfortunately, the boy who had not run out with the rest. The whole thirty-eight were finished off in a quarter of an hour. The late Lord Lyttelton was being shown by Dr. Wooll the room at Rugby in which the flogging was usually inflicted. "What motto would be appropriate ?' asked the doctor. "Great cry and little wool,' replied the other, looking at the diminutive form of the master.

The following note to a letter written by Mrs. Piozzi to Sir James Fellowes, from Bath, 30th March, 1819, is curious:-'I bad met Mr. Wickens a few days before at Mrs. Piozzi's. As we were brother Rugbeans, the conversation took place about the mode of punishing the boys in Dr. James's time, when Mrs. Piozzi related the story of Vandyke, who, when a boy, first evinced his genius in a remarkable manner, by painting the exact likeness of the master upon the person of a school-fellow about to be flogged, which so astonished and amused the pedagogue that he burst out a laughing, and excused the boy the punishment that awaited him.'

An anecdote, illustrative of how bogs took their birch long ago, is given in 'The Guide to Eton:'—Sir Henry B-n, some seventy years since (at which period collegers always held down boys who were being flogged), calmly looked up at his two supporters, who were still holding him down, instead of releasing him, though his flogging was over, and said, 'Gentlemen of the black robe, 1 believe the ceremony is over.'

Birçhing is a time honored practice at Eton. We say is, because, on the appointment of the last new head master, the Rev. Mr. Hornby, he was presented by the 'captain' of the school, in the name of his fellows, with an elegant birch rod, tied with a blue riband. The usual rod at Eton consisted of three long birchen twigs (no branches), bound with a string for about a quarter of their length, and a charge of half a guinea for birch was made in every boy's bill, whether he was flogged or not. Dr. Keate was among the most remarkable of the Eton floggers. He was celebrated for the celerity with which he dispatched those who were down in the bill' or flogging list. According to the Eton boys' code of propriety, there was not the least disgrace attached to a flogging; there might indeed be some reproach in never having tasted birch, to avoid which lads have been known to get themselves flogged on purpose. A few years ago, a youth of eighteen years of age was condemned to be flogged for smoking, but, acting on his father's orders, he refused to take his punishment, for wbich contumacy he was dismissed from the school. In the olden time, that ill-omened day, Friday, was the only flogging day at Eton.

Or Keate's flogging exploits one very good story is told. On one occasion when a confirmation was to be held for the school, each master was requested to make out a list of the candidates in his own form. A master wrote down the names on the first piece of paper which came to hand, which happened unluckily to be one of the slips of well known size and shape, used as flogging bills, and sent up regularly with the names of delinquents for execution. The list being put into Keate's hands without explanation, he sent for the boys in the regular course, and, in spite of all protestations on their part, pointing to the master's siguature to the fatal bill,' he flogged them all.

Another day, a culprit who was due for punishment could not be found, and the doctor who was kept waiting on the scene of action, but a namesake of the missing one happened to pass the door: he was at once seized by Keate's orders, and brought to the block as a vicarious sacrifice. Absence from roll-call was punished by flogging. Keate had imposed on one division an additional rollcall as a punishment. They held a consultation, and resolved that none of them should attend. The doctor came and found himself alone. He had just left a dinner party at his own house. He collected his assistants, and waited until the whole division was brought into his presence. He then went to work and flogged them all about eighty--and returned to his guests as placid and agreeable as usual.

Only one instance is on record of a condemned culprit having escaped the birch of Dr. Keate. A boy who had got into trouble was looking forward to his first flogging with considerable nervousness. Some mischievous school-sellows recommended a preparation of gall-nuts as an infallible recipe for making the surface to which it was applied insensible to pain. The result was one of those cases better imagined than described. It was impossible for the boy to put in an appearance before the doctor in that state; and a strictly private conversation with his tutor ended in that gentleman's waiting upon Keate, in order to explain the impossibility of the impending operation being performed without great risk to the gravity of both head master and attendant collegers: a 'pæna' of some hundred lines was therefore accepted in commutation.

* Among the many good stories told of “Old Keate,” ' says the Saturday Review, perhaps the best is that of the boy who called on him to take leave. * You seem to know me very well," said the great head master; “but I have no remembrance of ever having seen your face before." "You were better asquainted, sir, with my other end," was the unblushing reply.' A similar anecdote has been versified as follows:

An old Etonian once met Keate abroad,
And seized his hand; but he was rather floored
To see the Doctor seemed to know him not :
*Doctor,' quoth he, 'you've flogged ine of I wot;
And yet it seems that me you've quite forgot.'
"E'en now,' says Kente, 'I can not guess your name

Boys' b-s are so very much the same.' A hundred years since, and, indeed, up till within a quarter of a century ago, the punishments at Christ's Hospital were beavy and frequent. The monitors or heads of wards had a license to chastise their inferiors, which they used freely. Writing of them, Charles Lamb says: 'I have been called out of my bed, and waked for the purpose, in the coldest winter nights-and this not once, but night after night—in my shirt, to receive the discipline of a leathern thong. with eleven other sufferers, because it pleased my callow overseer, when there had been any talking heard after we were gone to bed, to make the six last beds in the dormitory, where the youngest children slept, answerable for any offense they neither dared to commit nor had any power to hinder.' The King's boys, or those intended for the sea, who studied navigation under William Wales, had peculiarly hard lines of it; as, in order to inure them to the hardships of a sailor's life, Wales brought up his boys with Spartan severity, using the lash on every occasion, and dealing out his punishments with an unsparing hand. These chastisements were expected to be borne with patience, and the training, whatever might be its effects in after times, had the immediate result of rendering the youths hardy but brutal, and, as a consequence, mercilessly severe on their younger companions. They were the mortal terror of the young boys; but, at the same time, it must be confessed that they maintained the prowess of the school outside : the apprentices and butchers' boys of the neighborhood stood in considerable awe of their fighting powers. The formal punishment for runaways was, in the first instance, fetters. For a second offense the culprit was confined in a cell, large enough for bim to lie at full length upon straw and blauket, a glimmer of light being admitted through a small window. The confinement was solitary-the prisoner only seeing the porter who brought his bread and water, or the beadle who came twice a week to take him out for an airing and a whipping. A third attempt at flight was usually the last, because, the offender was, after certain formalities, expelled. The culprit, divested of the school uniform and clad in a penitential robe, was brought from his cell into the hall, where were assembled the whole of his school-fellows, the steward of the hospital, the beadle, who was the executioner, and, as befitting, was clad in state for the occasion; two of the governors were also present, to certify that the extreme rigor of the law was inflicted. The culprit being hoisted, was slowly flogged round the ball by the beadle, and then for. mally handed over to his friends, if he had any, or to his parish officer, who was stationed outside the gate.

In Scotland scholastic flagellation was carried to as great an extent as in England, only the instrument in use was more commonly the taws,' a long strap of tolerably stout leather, with the ends cut into stripes. The orders for the discipline of the school at the Kirk of Dundonald, in Ayresluire, for the year 1640, have been preserved, and they indicate the manner in which flagellation was to be performed. After the regulations for prayers, &c., the master is enjoined to teach his scholars good manners, “how to carry themselves fashionably and courteously towards all '—superiors, inferiors, or equals. Then he was to appoint a clandestine censor, who should secretly acquaint the master with every thing that concerned the scholars, and 'according to the quality of the faults, the master shall inflict punishment, striking some on the hand with a birk wand or pair of taws, others on the hips as their faults deserve, but none at any time or in any case on the head or cheeks.' The master is further counseled to repress insolence, and enforce duty rather by a grave and authoritative manner than by strokes, yet he is by no means to neglect the Rod when it is needful.

The Rod was not always in Scotland administered in this serious mood. In the High School of Edinburgh, one of the masters, named Nicol, would occasionally have a dozen of culprits to whip at once, arranging them in a row for that purpose. When all was ready, he would send a polite message to his col. league, Mr. Cruickshank, 'to come and hear his organ.' Cruickshank having responded to his summons, Mr. Nicol would proceed to inflict a rapid cursory flagellation up and down the row, producing a variety of notes from the patients. Mr. Cruickshank was sure to take an early opportunity to return the compliment, by inviting his friend to assist at a similar operation.

The master of a grammar school in the central district of Scotland, some ninety years ago, was a vigorous upholder of flagellation. This worthy, named Hacket, practiced all the varieties of flagellation then in vogue. Heavy applications of the taws to the hands of the offenders were the mildest operations. Many times the culprit was stretched on the table, held down with one hand, and thrashed with the other. Sometimes the boy was made to stride between two boards, while the master applied the rod behind. The dull boys were birched for their own demerits, and the bright lads suffered for the deficiencies of their fellows. Belonging to the former class was a boy, named Anderson, who had many a bitter taste of the birch to stimulate his faculties. His punishments were so many and unjust, that he conceived the most deadly sentiments of revenge against his master. He left the school, went to India, acquired a competency, and returned to spend his days in Scotland. During his long residence in India he never forgot his floggiogs at school, or his determination to be revenged on Hacket. On his arrival in Scotland he purchased a whip, traveled to the town where he had been educated, and having ordered dinner for two at an inn, sent a message to Hacket (who had retired from the profession) inviting him to dine with an old pupil. Old Hacket accepted the invitation, dressed himself in his best, and went to the inn. He was ushered into the room, where he saw a gentleman, who, as soon as he entered, locked the door. Then, taking down the whip, he introduced himself, and informed the astonished Hacket that he was now about to punish him for the many flagellations he had inflicted on him at school. So saying, he ordered him to strip and receive the punishment. Hacket's presence of mind did not desert him in such untoward circumstances. He acknowledged that perhaps he was a little too severe with his boys in old times, but if he was to be punished he would prefer having dinner first and the flogging afterwards. Anderson could not but assent to such a reasonable proposal, although inwardly resolving that the flogging should be none the lighter for the waiting. So they sat down to dinner, which proved excellent; and old Hacket's conversation was so fascinating and agreeable, that gradually Anderson found his purpose of revenge growing weaker. At last be gave up all thoughts of his whip and the intended flagellation. Hacket got home in perfect safety, for his host insisted upon escorting him to his own door.

Even at the present day the old-fashioned style of whipping boys and girls still prevails in some remote districts of Scotland; and forty years ago, 'houpsy doupsy' (being laid over the master's knee), as it was called, was practiced even in schools in Edinburgh. A present dignitary of the Scottish dissenting church, who, at the date indicated, was master of a small village school, regularly whipped his pupils, male and female, in the mode indicated, and he did so with the full knowledge of their parents. At one time he punished his scholars without removing their clothes, but finding that a lad had placed within his trousers a skin of soft leather with a view to lesson the pain of the 'skelping,' he ever after insisted upon laying on the taws after the orthodox mode. The boy who

« AnteriorContinua »