Schoolboy’s cigarette.

Headmaster’s offer of caning or dismissal.

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Under a covering letter headed “Insubordination, not Cigarette,” Mr. E.N. Marshall, headmaster of Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall, sends a statement to the “Daily Mail” concerning the recent incident at the school when a boy was offered the alternatives of being caned or dismissed.

“The statement bears the heading, “Queen Mary’s School, Walsall, and the boy Jellyman,” and Mr. Marshall, after pointing out he himself is a smoker and that “probably smoking in moderation would do little harm to the eldest boys, and if they smoked at home, with the consent of their parents, I could have no possible objection,” proceeds:

“Smoking on the way to and from school or anywhere in the town I distinctly forbade. One day his form master told me that he had seen Jellyman smoking at mid-day in the railway station.

. . . His form master told me that if I would leave the matter in abeyance he would try and bring the boy to a proper frame of mind as to his disobedience, on the assumption that if he succeeded the punishment would be neither caning nor dismissal. I gave Jellyman’s form master to understand that he could take this for granted. To my surprise, these friendly overtures were met by the uncompromising statement that he was well aware of the rule against smoking, but that the headmaster had no right to make such a rule.

“This stubbornness on the part of the boy made the question one of extreme gravity. It was not now a question of smoking or not smoking, it was a question as to whether I or the boy Jellyman was to rule the school. I then told the boy in the presence of the top forms only that he must choose one of two alternatives — either be caned or dismissed. As he refused the caning, which most manly boys would consider by far the softer option of the two, I told him to go.

“I wrote to the boy’s father explaining the matter, and expressed my regret that his son had brought this trouble upon him. This was followed by a visit of the father accompanied by his son. The whole matter was discussed, and at the end of the interview, the father decided to bring his son next morning to make an apology before the upper forms.

“Next morning Mr. Jellyman waited upon me, but instead of the apology, to my surprise he told me that he had put the matter in the hands of his lawyers, who threatened me with legal proceedings, but after a lengthy correspondence with my solicitors they abandoned that position.

“In the meantime, at my request, the governors agreed to receive Mr. Jellyman and his son, and hear all they had to say. The consequence was that governors passed a unanimous resolution confirming the action of the headmaster throughout.”