ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Victorian School Punishments

Updated on June 21, 2011
Corporal Punishment, from conceptexcellence.blogspot.com
Corporal Punishment, from conceptexcellence.blogspot.com
Caning, from victorianschool.wordpress.com
Caning, from victorianschool.wordpress.com

Victorian School Punishments

INTRODUCTION

I'm trying to recollect what prompted me to write the poem below, written about four decades ago. I guess it was my reading of Tom Brown's Schooldays, because you have Dr Thomas Arnold in the poem. But I think it was F.W. Farrar's morbid tale, 'Eric, or Little by Little' that influenced me; that was a grim account, that horrified me when I read it as a school-boy in the late '60s.

Recollecting my own school-days, I must say that I was caned only once, that too, on the calves of my legs. I was not the lone victim; the entire high-school class of 16 boys was given this punishment. In the 8th grade, I received a few sharp 'knocks' with a wooden 'ruler' or 'scale' on my knuckles. Not with the flat end of the scale, but the narrow, sharp end. It hurt really bad. I remember once, when caught doing mischief in class (I was in 8th grade, age 12 or so), I thought I would be subject to some really old-style Victorian caning (like you see in the second cartoon below); but I got a more refined form of punishment from the Principal himself, who I now remember was a cultured gentleman named Brinnicombe. I was asked to memorize a poem of about 16-20 lines in an hour and a half, and after a desperate struggle I did it!

While checking out the Internet, I found tons of material on corporal punishment, which seems to have been widely practised in schools in Victorian times. Well, the same school punishments were carried over to the British colonies across the globe. Schools in our country have been practicising corporal punishment well into the '90s. I think the anti-corporal-punishment movement has since picked up and we keep reading nowadays in the newspapers, sensational stories of how teachers in the districts (countryside) revel in punishing their students in sadistic ways.

Well, I hope you enjoy the poem. It seems morbid, but is actually very sarcastic.

Pratonix

Crime and Punishment in the Dark Ages


'Beat him till his back is blue, '
Said Arnold Thomas with a grin;
'If two and two is twenty-two
Then stealing is a mortal sin;
Proverbs thirteen, twenty-four
Is good as anything you know,
So beat him till his back is blue;

'For little boys with playful ways
May lose themselves in Satan's maze
And never find their way out till
They're beaten and the blood doth spill,
Freeing them of fiery fumes
That burn from nasty witches' brooms;
Let all the gleams of she-cats' eyes
Fade far away with every blow;
Likewise the crooked tales and lies,
Until the beaten back is sore:

'Then you may (but better not)
Pour some brandy down his throat,
Some salad-oil on his wounds
To alleviate the twinge of pain;
But if he tries to fake a swoon
Get up and beat him blue again.'

© Tan Pratonix/Roland N Oliver

(This poem was written at the age of 18! It strongly inveighs against corporal punishment.)

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      3 months ago from London England

      Floggings in prisons were common during the Victorian era,

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      3 months ago from London England

      There are only a few countries in the world now where corporal punishment is still legal.

    • profile image

      Gadfly 

      3 months ago from Olde London Towne

      They ought to bring it back.

    • profile image

      Gadfly 

      10 months ago from Olde London Towne

      Was it really 12 months since the last posting on the site?

      P.S. Double dose or six of the best!

    • profile image

      Gadfly 

      22 months ago from Olde London Towne

      One of our teachers was Miss Kane and she never used the school cane on errant school boys.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      23 months ago from London England

      I'm just reminded of the 1968 English public school feature with Malcolm McDowell as a student. The three chums are caught drinking alcohol in their dorm resulting in a violent thrashing in the school's gym. Leaning over a wood vaulting horse, 40 strokes are administered to the boy's buttocks after which McDowell's character thanks the person who caned him. Got to admit myself after the pain has gone it did leave a warm sensation!

    • profile image

      Gadfly 

      2 years ago from Olde London Towne

      WHACKO !

    • profile image

      Gadfly 

      2 years ago from Olde London Towne

      To say that the sting of the cane was painful is an understatement. In our secondary school every teacher was issued a cane to administer corporal punishment. It was used to maintain classroom discipline either by deterrant or actual chastisement. The school canes were imported from India and made from rattan although we heard of canes made of bamboo also from Asian sources or birch which was locally crafted. Before my time corporal punishment could be metered out by the head boys or prefects but this was stopped due to overzealous beatings. Girls were exempt from receiving the cane and lady teachers seldom caned boys. Though they could be sent to the headmaster for canning. School punishments were recorded in a register.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      3 years ago from London England

      I did a count up of all the teachers i had that used the cane in classes during my schooling The result only five used corporal punishment to maintain school discipline out of the whole 30 teachers during my education. The five does not include the two 'sicko's' not my teachers who presumed they had the right to cane boys for their own gratification.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      3 years ago from London England

      merrie we meet

      Must confess that i never got caned by a Lady teacher during my school days. Their punishments were more like 'stand in the corner facing the wall' etc. In the infants class one paticular teacher would glue a piece of paper to a naughty boy's nose for humiliation in front of the class. I did however once get a tight slap from a Lady teacher for annoying her.

      They were the days!

      limpet

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      3 years ago from London England

      merrie we meet

      Punishment at school was mild compared to what we got at home. There a cane was called 'the switch' with no limitations on how many strokes and also with shorts removed.

      bless

      the limpet

    • profile image

      Gadfly 

      3 years ago from Olde London Towne

      Yes! As for the different size school canes, the smallest for boys under the age of 7 was known as the nursery cane. No boy i knew received the cane until after the age of 7 at my first school anyway. Then the junior cane was used on boys up to the age of 14 which could be any length of wooden dowell. Whacked across the seat of the pants it wouldn't leave any welts unless the boy concerned was wearing light summer clothing. The senior cane was for the older students and was whippy, designed to sting. A swish of the school cane was a terrifying sound accompanied by the nunbing pain.

    • profile image

      Gadfly 

      3 years ago from Olde London Towne

      I never heard of any boys traumatised by getting the cane. Actually it was a rite of passage for many of us. Girls were luckier as they were exempted from corporal punishment. It was mainly but not always administered to the bad boys. One particular headmaster had a cane collection in his office and the boys sent for a dose of it were classed by their age for the size of the cane to be used. It was customary for the teachers and prefects to have a fag and to enforce the school rules there would be deterant punishment as well as standard punishment.

      the gadfly

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      4 years ago from London England

      merrie we meet

      Another form of chastisement in schooling of my tymes was 'the strap'.

      They could strap a pupil for no reason and say it was 'impudence'. They would make you hold out your hand and if the strap clipped the fingers it wouldn't count and was delivered to the palm of the hand. Each teacher had his own style in delivery of the strap and one brutal monster had massed strapping sessions for boys during lunch hour with smaller boys looking on in fear. Alternatively you could be strapped across the ankles.

      Bless

      limpet

    • profile image

      Gadfly 

      4 years ago from Olde London Towne

      I vividly recall receiving 6 strokes of the school cane across my rump whilst facing the class to see my facial grimance with each swish. When the next boy bended over for his '6 of the best' the stick broke causing uproarious laughter from the class and the sadist administering the punishment unable to complete his lusting for power.

    • profile image

      Doug Turner Jr. 

      7 years ago

      Harsh but how true of boarding schools. Good poem.

    • kaltopsyd profile image

      kaltopsyd 

      7 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      This poem is awesome! I think it's a very powerful piece. You're very talented... but of course you already know that.

    • profile image

      Darlene Turpin 

      7 years ago

      This poem again was marvalous..It sure was dark though, but then I can see back then and they way they punished in schools and in the homes..Boy Roland..you sure have changed in so many ways..I see them with each and everything you pen..You have matured, grown through Christ!..What a blessing to read your earlier poems..Your words always make me ponder and think..and you always bring your poems to life!

      Voted up and awesome!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)