Sunday, November 18, 2012


Et Nos Ergo Manum Ferulae Subduximus

A.B.R. Young, Reminiscences of an Irish Priest 1845-1920 (Dundalk: Dundalgan Press, 1931), pp. 61-62:
My education at Nutgrove was not a great success. The system then in vogue was to put boys in classes according to their ages. I being nearly 13, but woefully backward for that age, was duly installed in the age class, the boys of which were reading Lucian and Caesar, while I had never as much as seen a Greek letter or heard a Latin word. Accordingly I daily received my chastisement for, what dear old Phil[ip Jones] considered my daily failure to be, laziness.

By the way, his peculiar brand of punishment was thus inflicted—he would grasp a boy's left wrist and with a hazel rod (hundreds of which he grew in the Grove, and cut and seasoned for the purpose) inflict crash after crash on the imprisoned "paw," as he called it, until the pain gave way to numbness.

His reason for only striking the left hand, he quite frankly gave. It was to save the "writing claw" so that the wretched victim would be able to write his weekly letter home.
Id., p. 63:
In the Register of those who pass the entrance examination of Trinity College, Dublin, each one has his place of schooling entered under the heading "Cujus sub ferula educatus," freely translated this means, "Where were you at school?" Any boy who entered direct from Drogheda in my time must have squirmed and shifted uneasily in his seat if had had the Latin query literally explained to him! Rev. Edward Maynard Goslett, LL.D., was a pedagogue of the old school. He flogged knowledge into his pupils, and enforced discipline with the cane.

As an example of his method I may give just one instance. His temper was ungovernable and once aroused he lost all self-control. On the occasion which I am about to relate he acted more like a maniac than a sane person. A German master had rendered himself most objectionable to the boys, who one holiday when the doctor was to be away from home, went for the Herr and gave him a sound drubbing. On the return of the Head the affair was reported to him. Without a moment's delay he rushed to his study, seized a new bundle of canes, ordered all the school to assemble in the Prep. Hall, and thrashed everyone soundly, breaking in the process a dozen canes!

Fortunately I was absent during this ordeal, having dined out with my kind old friend, Dr. Pentland. As I was one of the ringleaders in chastening Herr Fred Müller I deserved the flogging as much as anyone else.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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