Still, if the mother possess these qualities in any tolerable degree, or is able to acquire them, this method of training her children to the habit of submitting implicitly to her authority, by calmly and good-naturedly, but firmly and invariably, affixing some slight privation or penalty to every act of resistance to her will, is the easiest to practice, and will certainly be successful. It requires no ingenuity, no skill, no contrivance, no thought—nothing but steady persistence in a simple routine. This was the first of the three modes of action enumerated at the commencement of this discussion. There were two others named, which, though requiring higher qualities in the mother than simple steadiness of purpose, will make the work far more easy and agreeable, where these qualities are possessed.
Some further consideration of the subject of punishment, with special reference to the light in which it is to be regarded in respect to its nature and its true mode of action, will occupy the next chapter.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF PUNISHMENT.
It is very desirable that every parent and teacher should have a distinct and clear conception of the true nature of punishment, and of the precise manner in which it is designed to act in repressing offenses. This is necessary in order that the punitive measures which he may employ may accomplish the desired good, and avoid the evils which so often follow in their train.
Nature and Design of Punishment.
The first question which is to be considered in determining upon the principles to be adopted and the course to be pursued with children in respect to punishment, is, which of the two views in respect to the nature and design of punishment which prevail in the minds of men we will adopt in shaping our system. For,
1. Punishment may be considered in the light of a vindictive retribution for sin—a penalty demanded by the eternal principles of justice as the natural and proper sequel and complement of the past act of transgression, with or without regard to any salutary effects that may result from it in respect to future acts. Or,
2. It may be considered as a remedial measure, adopted solely with reference to its influence as a means of deterring the subject of it, or others, from transgression in time to come.
According to the first view, punishment is a penalty which justice demands as a satisfaction for the past. According to the other it is a remedy which goodness devises for the benefit of the future.
Theologians have lost themselves in endless speculations on the question how far, in the government of God, punishment is to be considered as possessing one or the other of these two characters, or both combined. There seems to be also some uncertainty in the minds of men in relation to the precise light in which the penalties of violated law are to be regarded by civil governments, and the spirit in which they are to be administered—they being apparently, as prescribed and employed by most governments, in some respects, and to some extent, retributive and vindictive, and in other respects remedial and curative.