AMONG the many things that are good for children and that parents are

in duty bound to supply is--the rod! This may sound old-fashioned, and

it unfortunately is; there is a new school of home discipline in vogue


Slippers have outgrown their usefulness as implements of persuasion,

being now employed exclusively as foot-gear. The lissom birch thrives

ungarnered in the thicket, where grace and gent
eness supply the whilom

vigor of its sway. The unyielding barrel-stave, that formerly occupied

a place of honor and convenience in the household, is now relegated, a

harmless thing, to a forgotten corner of the cellar, and no longer

points a moral but adorns a wood-pile. Disciplinary applications of the

old type have fallen into innocuous desuetude; the penny now tempts,

the sugar candy soothes and sugar-coated promises entice when the rod

should quell and blister. Meanwhile the refractory urchin, with no fear

to stimulate his sluggish conscience, chuckles, rejoices and is glad,

and bethinks himself of some uninvented methods of devilment.

Yes, it is old-fashioned in these days to smite with the rattan as did

the mighty of yore. The custom certainly lived a long time. The author

of the Proverbs spoke of the practise to the parents of his generation,

and there is no mistaking the meaning of his words. He spoke with

authority, too; if we mistake not, it was the Holy Ghost that inspired

his utterances. Here are a few of his old-fashioned sayings: "Spare the

rod and spoil the child; he who loves his child spares not the rod;

correction gives judgment to the child who ordinarily is incapable of

reflection; if the child be not chastised, it will bring down shame and

disgrace upon the head of its parent." It is our opinion that authority

of this sort should redeem the defect of antiquity under which the

teaching itself labors. There are some things "ever ancient, ever new;"

this is one of them.

The philosophy of correction may be found in the doctrine of original

sin. Every child of Adam has a nature that is corrupted; it is a soil

in which pride in all its forms and with all its cortege of vices takes

strong and ready root. This growth crops out into stubbornness,

selfishness, a horror of restraint, effort and self-denial; mischief,

and a spirit of rebellion and destruction. In its native state,

untouched by the rod of discipline, the child is wild. Now, you must

force a crooked tree to grow straight; you must break a wild colt to

domesticate it, and you must whip a wild boy to make him fit for the

company of civilized people. Being self-willed, he will seek to follow

the bent of his own inclinations; without intelligence or experience

and by nature prone to evil, he will follow the wrong path; and the

habits acquired in youth, the faults developed he will carry through

life to his own and the misery of others. He therefore requires

training and a substitute for judgment; and according to the Holy

Ghost, the rod furnishes both. In the majority of cases nothing can

supply it.

This theory has held good in all the ages of the world, and unless the

species has "evolved" by extraordinary leaps and bounds within the last

fifty years, it holds good to-day, modern nursery milk-and-honey

discipline to the contrary notwithstanding. It may be hard on the

youngster--it was hard on us!--but the difficulty is only temporary;

and difficulty, some genius has said, is the nurse of greatness, a

harsh nurse, who roughly rocks her foster-children into strength and

athletic proportions.

The great point is that this treatment be given in time, when it is

possible to administer it with success and fruit. The ordinary child

does not need Oft-repeated doses; a firm hand and a vigorous

application go a long way, in most cases. Half-hearted, milk-and-water

castigation, like physic, should be thrown to the dogs. Long

threatenings spoil the operation; they betray weakness which the child

is the first to discover. And without being brutal, it is well that the

chastisement be such as will linger somewhat longer in the memory than

in the sensibility.

The defects that deserve this corrective especially are

insubordination, sulkiness and sullenness; it is good to stir up

the lazy; it is necessary to instil in the child's mind a saving

sense of its own inferiority and to inculcate lessons of humility,

self-effacement and self-denial. It should scourge dishonesty and lying.

The bear licks its cub into shape; let the parent go to the bear,

inquire of its ways and be wise. His children will then have a moral

shape and a form of character that will stand them in good stead in

after life; and they will give thanks in proportion to the pain

inflicted during the process of formation.