Obstinacy, and telling a lie, and committing a wilful fault, and then persisting in it, are, I agree with this gentleman, the only causes for which the child should be punished with stripes: and I admire the reasons he gives against a too rigorous and severe treatment of children.
But I will give Mr. Locke’s words, to which I have some objection.
“It may be doubted,” says he, “concerning whipping, when, as the last remedy, it comes to be necessary, at what time, and by whom, it should be done; whether presently, upon the committing the fault, whilst it is yet fresh and hot. I think it should not be done presently,” adds he, “lest passion mingle with it; and so, though it exceed the just proportion, yet it lose of its due weight. For even children discern whenever we do things in a passion.”
I must beg leave, dear Sir, to differ from Mr. Locke in this point; for I think it ought rather to be a rule with parents, who shall chastise their children, to conquer what would be extreme in their own passion on this occasion (for those who cannot do it, are very unfit to be the punishers of the wayward passions of their children), than to defer the punishment, especially if the child knows its fault has reached its parent’s ear. It is otherwise, methinks, giving the child, if of an obstinate disposition, so much more time to harden its mind, and bid defiance to its punishment.
Just now, dear Sir, your Billy is brought into my presence, all smiling, crowing to come to me, and full of heart-cheering promises; and the subject I am upon goes to my heart. Surely I can never beat your Billy!—Dear little life of my life! how can I think thou canst ever deserve it, or that I can ever inflict it?—No, my baby, that shall be thy papa’s task, if ever thou art so heinously naughty; and whatever he does, must be right. Pardon my foolish fondness, dear Sir!—I will proceed.
If, then, the fault be so atrocious as to deserve whipping, and the parent be resolved on this exemplary punishment, the child ought not, as I imagine, to come into one’s presence without meeting with it: or else, a fondness too natural to be resisted, will probably get the upper hand of one’s resentment, and how shall one be able to whip the dear creature one had ceased to be angry with? Then after he has once seen one without meeting his punishment, will he not be inclined to hope for connivance at his fault, unless it should be repeated? And may he not be apt (for children’s resentments are strong) to impute to cruelty a correction (when he thought the fault had been forgotten) that should always appear to be inflicted with reluctance, and through motives of love?