Wanted: a Birch Rod

Appeal to “Old Boys”

By a Special Correspondent


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MEMORIES of Victorian schooldays when Greek and Latin were birched into backward boyhood will be pleasantly stirred by the following request which reached The Daily Mail yesterday from the organiser of the “Children Throughout the Ages” Exhibition at Chesterfield House, Mayfair.

“Is it possible that, treasured in the home of one of your readers, there may be a moderately well-worn birch-rod, used last century, which the owner would kindly lend for our schoolroom?

A birch-rod is missing from the exhibition. There are doubtless hundreds of boys who would gladly make good the deficiency in canes, ferulae, and other instruments of learning which leave more than an academic mark in schools from Wigan to Wolverhampton and Preston to Penzance.

But no more and no less than the real birch, a true survival of sundry whackings administered by some fierce-some Victorian pedagogue, will do; the kind which Thackeray said was used at Eton “with perfect impartiality”.

Of course we live in an age when the naughty boy, if punished at all, feels only faintly the genteel end of a cane “of approved pattern.” And then “it shall be applied over a boy’s trousers.”