“Now to the specific questions you ask. My answers must, of course, be based upon general principles—the special application, often so very difficult a matter, must be left to you. To begin with corporal punishment. You say you are ’personally opposed, but that your early training and the literal interpretation of Solomon’s rod keep you undecided.’ Surely your own comment later shows that part, at least, of the influence of your early training was against corporal punishment, because you saw and felt its evils in yourself. Such early training may have made you unapt in thinking of other means of discipline; but it can hardly have made you think of corporal punishment as right.
“And how can anyone take Solomon’s rod any more literally than she does the Savior’s cross? We are bid, on a higher authority than Solomon’s proverbs, to take up our cross and follow Him. This we all interpret figuratively. Would you dream, for instance, of binding heavy crosses of wood upon the backs of your children because you felt yourselves so enjoined in the literal sense of the Scriptures? Why, then, take the rod literally? It is as clearly used to designate any form of orderly discipline as the cross is used to designate endurance of necessary sorrows. ’The letter killeth, but the spirit maketh alive.’
“As to your next question about quick results, I must recognize that you are in a most difficult position. For not the best conceivable intentions, nor the highest wisdom, can make the unnatural conditions you have to meet, as good as natural ones. In any asylum many purely artificial requirements must be made to meet the artificial situation. Time and space, those temporal appearances, grow to be menacing monsters, take to themselves the chief realities. Nevertheless, so far as you are able, you surely want to do the natural, right, unforced thing. And with each successful effort will come fresh wisdom and fresh strength for the next.
“Let me suggest, in the case you mention, of insolence, that three practical courses are open to you: one to send or lead the child quietly from the room, with the least aggressiveness possible, so as not further to excite her opposition, and to keep her apart from the rest until she is sufficiently anxious for society to be willing to make an effort to deserve it; or two, to do nothing, permitting a large and eloquent silence to accentuate the rebellious words; or three, to call for the condemnation of the child’s mates. Speaking to one or two whose response you are sure of first, ask each one present for a expression of opinion. This is so severe a punishment that it ought not often to be invoked; but it is deadly sure.”