The school ferulaJuly 8 2011 at 8:08 AM
NOTES and QUERIES: A medium of Inter-communication for LITERARY MEN, ARTISTS, ANTIQUARIES, GENEALOGISTS, ETC.
THIRD SERIES - VOLUME FIRST
January - June, 1862.
LONDON: BELL & DALDY, 186, FLEET STREET. 1862.
. - I write to ask if any of your correspondents can give any information concerning that instrument of scholastic punishment, the ferula? I believe there was something peculiar in the ferula, distinguishing it from any other instrument. Can they inform me what shape it was, how it was made, and whether it was used like the birch. I am a Scotchman, and have made inquiries among several pedagogues as to what instruments they use for punishing scholars, but all they can tell me is that they have a tawse, or leather belt cut into strips, with which they inflict stripes both upon the palms of the hands and elsewhere. Perhaps the ferula was used in the same way. If you can inform me I shall be extremely obliged.
28 June 1862
THE FERULA. (3rt S. i. 450.)
Ferula, fennel, Plin. Nat. Hist. Ferule (a feriendo), a reed, or cane from the fens, giantfennel. "Tristes ferules, sceptra Padagogorum" rods (reeds) with which Roman boys were corrected at schools; Martial.
"Et nos ergo manum ferula; subduximus."
Juv. Sat. i. 15.
"Hie frangitferulas, rubet ille flagellis, Hie scuticaV' - Id. ib. vi. 478.
Valpy interprets the passage, "rods broken over the back."
"Nee scutica dignum horribili sectere fiagello. Ne ferula ceedas meritum majora subire Verbera, non vereor." - Hor. Sat. I. iii. 118. *
Anthon says, scutica, a strap, or thong of leather; ferula, a rod, or stick; both used for correcting school-boys; flagellum, a lash, or whip made of leathern thongs, or twisted cords, tied to the end of a stick, sometimes sharpened with small bits of iron or lead at the end.
Dr. Johnson says, ferule was used on the hand. He ought to understand the difference between ferula and virga (vrith, Sanscrit), switch-rod, having himself been scourged over the buttery-hatch at Oxford.
The virga of the mediaeval ages may be tested by turning up the old oak-seats in Cathedral choirs, on many of which are carved a monkish school-master with a bare-breeched boy in his lap, and the uplifted rod (fennel ?) in his hand, ready for execution.
Whether the Romans, on finally quitting the island, left the ferula a legacy for the Britons, or whether it was originally a native instrument of punishment, I know not; but this I know from personal experience, that, sixty years ago, at a writing school in the West of England, the master frequently feruled the dunces on the palm of the hand with a flat bat, such as boys use for "bat and-ball;" and more frequently gave idle scholars "a rap on the knuckles with a round ruler (ferule?) Afterwards, as an alumnus at the King's School, I found the birch and the block used for corporal punishment - the ferule being considered infra dig at a grammar school. I learn, however, from a contemporary, a Scotchman, that the tawse was the instrument of correction, in his day, at the High School, Edinburgh. He describes it as a stick-handle, with straps, or strips, of leather fastened to it, and that the ends of the straps were hardened in the fire, to make them knobbly, i. e. like the knots in a cat-o'-nine-tails, or the xxxxxxxxx of the Ethiopians, Herod, vii. 69. No doubt for the same purpose the Romans sewed bits of metal into the flagellum, that the punishment might be sharper. And so also, in the ferule a small round hole was cut out in the centre, that the skin might be drawn up, and the pain be more acute.
Only a week past, I, by accident, got into conversation with a Yorkshire mechanic, "an engine-fitter," and in discussing the change in education of the present day, he said, in the North Riding dialect, u When master feruled me, I thought to myself, I'll hide thee, when I'm s man," - the cow-hiding of the Yankees, or the bull's hide of the ancients. Here we get the tawse - taunts, a bull; Gaelic, tiur; Persian, tawbn; A.-S. hwit tawere, a dresser of white leather (vellum [veal] calf's skin) with size, not with the oak-bark the tanner uses for bull's hide. A tawer is a fellmonger (pellis), a skin-dresser; touw (Dutch) tow; to give a towse, a common vulgar phrase, may mean the rope's end, or strap. The tawse (I learn from another Scotch friend of my own age) was used both on the hand, and elsewhere; but so frequently on the hand, that boys used to ask each other in the play-ground, "How many pamees (palma) did you get to-day?" And the manum ferula subduximus was practised, not by pulling back the hand, but by pulling; down the cuff of the coat over the palm, to catch the blow of the tawse.
Allan Dunstable inquires, Whether the use of the ferula still exists? It has, as far as my observation goes, become extinct, through the modern exclusion of corporal punishment in scholastic teaching. But the birch still keeps its ground at Eton, and elsewhere. Indeed, within the present Session, it has been enacted in the House of Commons, that all boys under fourteen years of age ordered to be whipped in county gaols shall be punished with the birch, not with, the cat, with which adults are still to be corrected, when spare diet and solitary cells fail to make a due impression on them. But the critical question on the ferula still remains unanswered, viz. Whether Roman schoolmasters whipped "small boys" with a rod made from the feathery shoots, foeniculum, F. fenoil, E. fennel; or whether the giant-stalks, the big-fennel of Pliny, were the fasces carried by the Lictors before the Praetor?
The ferula properly 'made, and used, is an instrument of corporal punishment in schools less objectionable than any other. Some ferulas were made of wood, being flat pieces of wood rounded at the end, with which the delinquent was struck on the hand; and in some cases they had a small opening which pinched up the boy's band, with barbarous and unjustifiable cruelty. Indeed, the wooden ferula was a hard, ill-contrived, and cruel instrument in its best shape. I never saw one, but I have so often heard descriptions of it from boys who had felt it, that I give the above description with full confidence.
But the ferula of leather is as fair an instrument of punishment as could have been devised, and is still used in several schools. Indeed, if corporal punishment is to be retained - and it is difficult to see how it can be wholly dispensed with - the leather ferula is the least open to objection. It is about ten inches long, the end being rounded, and measuring between four and five inches in the broadest part. From this it grows gradually narrower, till it comes to the breadth of an inch and a half, and the extremity is fastened to a long wooden stick, or handle. The leather is thick, being such as shoemakers use for the soles of shoes: it is hammered rather hard, but retains its elasticity. It is used for striking the palm of the boy's hand only. The boy holds out his left hand to receive the stroke, as being most convenient for the master, who strikes with his right. The pain is a smart tingling sensation, which while it inflicts adequate chastisement, is accompanied with no danger of wounding or bruising, and is entirely free from the revolting circumstances of punishment with the rod. One or two strokes of the ferula upon the hand are commonly sufficient, though hardened delinquents may deserve half a dozen, or even more. F. C. H.
I remember seeing more than one specimen of this very effective instrument of punishment, in S. Yorkshire schools some thirty years ago; the material was usually leather, or tough wood; the form that of a spoon beaten flat; the place of infliction was the open palm of the hand. In Gerard Douw's picture of the School-master, in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the master holds in one hand an elegant specimen of the instrument inquired after. I have not seen or heard of its use in any of the numerous schools that I have of late years come in contact with. J. Eastwood.
At a large private school at Bath I remember to have seen the infliction of " pandying" by the master on the open hand of offenders, with an instrument of torture of circular shape provided with a handle, which went by the name of a ferule. A common round ruler was sometimes employed as a substitute.
Mackenzie E. C. Waxcott, M.A., F.S.A.
If your correspondent, Allen Dunstable, will refer to a Latin dictionary, he will find that ferula means,
1st. "An herb like big fennel, and which may be called fennel-giant."
2nd. " A rod, stick, or ferula, wherewith children are corrected in schools."
3rd. "A cane or reed; a walking staff."
Ecclesiastically it means Virga Pastoralis, seu Baculum Pastorale. "Episcopi pastores gregis Dominici sunt, ideo baculum (seu ferulam) in custodia praeferunt." "Per baculum (seu ferulam) potestas regiminis figuratur." (Vid. Macri Hierolexicon, verbb. Ferula, Baculum Episcopate, Narthex, &c.) Again, in the ancient churches, the first division was called the Narthex in Greek, and Ferula in Latin, and was " a narrow vestibule extending the whole width of the church ;" "so called because the figure of it was supposed to resemble a Ferula, that is, a rod, or staff, called by the Greeks Narthex." (See Bingham, book viii. ch. 4.) I fear, however, that the information contained in the latter moiety of this communication will excite but little interest (if it be not rejected), on the North of the Tweed.
E. C. Hamngton.
The Schoolmaster by Gerrit Dou
Painted: 1645, oil on panel, 27 x 19.3 cm, The Fitzwilliam
History and the ferule
|July 8 2011, 2:37 PM |
I hope this can be of some value. As in the paddle being called shingle that you found helpful there is a plethora of names used for ferule. Always glad to be of help.
Re: The school ferula
|July 8 2011, 10:40 PM |
Was the school ferule a cane-like reed or a type of paddle? There seems to be confusion concerning the ferule (and the "rod") which the following article may help elucidate.
American Way kindly drew my attention to:
which allowed me to find a full text version:
Collections historical & archaeological relating to Montgomeryshire [Wales], Volume 14
Author: Powys-land Club
Publisher: The Club, 1881
Scholastic Ferule found in Melverley Church
, by MCJ [Morris Charles Jones], pages 331-338
About two years ago, when Melverley Church was being restored, a somewhat curious and rare object was found therein. Melverley is an old timber-wattled church, and the instrument in question was discovered lying on one of the pieces of timber forming part of the frame-work of the building, within the wattle-work, and it seemed as if it had been hid there.
The object in question is a small wooden instrument, about a foot long, having at each end a disc, the one about two and a-half inches broad, and quite plain and flat; and the other a smaller one, an inch in diameter, roughly carved on both sides with the figure of a cross. The stem is ornamented on one side, for a short distance, with a pattern which points to the seventeenth century as its date.
Many have been the conjectures as to what this instrument was. Some have suggested that it was not improbably intended for mixing the wafer for the Eucharist in Roman Catholic times. Others have suggested that it may have been used for salt, formerly an item in baptism. There are fonts in existence, where there is a place for salt, attached to, or part of the font. Instruments not unlike it in shape have been, and still are, used in the Eucharist for fishing out the wafer, or part of the wafer, from the chalice. But this instrument is too large, and, being made of wood, of an unsuitable material for such a purpose. Being found in a church, the question was naturally asked - may it not be an ecclesiastical implement?
A rough tracing of the latter was submitted to Mr. H. Syer Cuming, who at a glance unravelled the difficulty. In a letter dated 1881, received from him, he states that: -
"No sooner did I gaze on your sketch of the wooden implement found in Melverley Church, than I recognised it as a representation of the old scholastic ferule, wherewith pupils were struck on the hand as a punishment for bad behaviour hence, the object was also frequently denominated a palmer, and hand-dapper. The blade of the ferule was generally discoid as in the Melverley specimen, and as seen in the hands of the pedagogues on the Grammar School seals of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and Camberwell, Surrey; but it was occasionally somewhat pyriformed, as it appears in a painting of a Dutch School, hanging in my library; and a writer in Hone's Every-day Book (vol. i, p. 967), speaks of having felt the blow of a ferule of this form in his younger days,
"The instrument is believed to have received its title of ferule from the Latin word ferio, to strike ; so that we may presume that it is an object of very considerable antiquity; but it was not wholly laid aside even as late as the end of the last century. I once knew a very old man (long since dead), who told me that he went to school with a Mr. Moneypenny, at Bethnal-green, in the north of London; and Mr. Moneypenny, dressed in the style of Thomas Dilworth, with black velvet cap, and long black gown, made free and frequent use of the ferule. I also knew a clergyman, who told me that his mother, before her marriage, kept a school, and she punished her pupils with a "hand-spanker" of stout leather, in the form of the wooden ferule. The ornamentation on the Melverley ferule points to the seventeenth century as its date."
We give an engraving of the Melverley Scholastic Ferule, half size. (See opposite.)
In January 1861, Dr. Kendrick, of Warrington, exhibited at the meeting of the British Archaeological Association, an impression from the seal of Tewkesbury Free Grammar School; and the seal itself is engraved in plate 8, fig. 5. (British Archaeological Journal, vol. xvii.) We reproduce this engraving, as it clearly shows an example of the schoolman holding in his hand a scholastic ferule, very similar to the Melverley one. [Not visible in scanned image] Dr. Kendrick has also kindly sent us, for the Powys-land Museum, an impression of the seal of Bangor Grammar School, which represents the pedagogue having in his left hand the ferule, and in his right hand a birch-rod. In the Tewkesbury Grammar School Seal, there is also an object on the floor very like a birch-rod.
In the Journal of the British Archaeological Association (vol. xvii, p. 67), Mr. H. Syer Cuming made some interesting observations upon the Tewkesbury Grammar School Seal, and also upon the subject of scholastic ferules, which seem so apposite to our subject that we shall quote them extensively.
After premising that Tewkesbury Free Grammar School was founded by William Ferrers of London, a native of Tewkesbury, in 1625, and endowed by him, and that the Charter, granted in 1701, by King William III, to the Borough of Tewkesbury, recognised the establishment of the School, Mr. Syer Cuming proceeds to remark "that the seal dates from the foundation of the school in 1625. It is of a circular form, about one inch and seven-eighths diameter, bearing on the verge the words - SIGIL: GUBERN : REVENC: LIB: SCHOL: IN: TEVKESBYRIE, the field exhibiting the master and one of the pupils, placed on a tiled floor. The bearded pedagogue is seated in a high-backed armchair, wears a domed-crowned hat, with upturned brim; long gown, decorated with buttons, and holds a formidable ferule in his hand. The youth stands in front, habited in a short tunic, and holds an open hook, on which he gazes; and between him and his preceptor appears the terrible rod."
Mr. Syer Cuming here, in a note, parenthetically remarks that, "The seal of the Priory of Totnes (fourteenth century) exhibits St. Anne menacing the Virgin with a rod, whilst instructing her from a book." Mr. Worthington Smith also informs us that he has seen a copy of an illuminated initial letter, with a monk with a thing similar to the ferule in his hand, and schoolboys on their knees around him. This shows this instrument was used at an early date.
Mr. Syer Cuming proceeds to make general remarks upon the rod, and states that on referring to engravings, in the previous part of the journal of the Brit. Arch. ***., it will be seen that the rod is held by the master on the school seals of Macclesfield, Rivington, Louth, and Kirkby Lonsdale ; on those of Oakham and St. Saviour's, Southwark, it is laid before him ; and only in one instance do we see the schoolmaster armed with the ferule, namely, on the seal of Camberwell Grammar School, founded by the Rev. Edward Wilson, M.A., in 1615 ; but the seal is manifestly of later date than the reign of James I; the Tewkesbury matrix, therefore, gives us an earlier representation of this instrument of punishment. The ferule was a sort of wooden pallet, or slice, which Hexham, in his Nederdwytck Dictionarie, 1648, well describes as "a small battledore, wherewith schoole-boyes are strooke in the palmes of their hands"; hence it is called, in Cocker's Dictionary, 1724, "a hand-clapper, or palmer", the latter title agreeing with its Spanish designation of palmatoria, as given in Minsheu, 1599. A writer in Hone's Every Day Book (vol. i, 967), says, " A ferule was a sort of flat ruler, widened at the inflicting end into a shape resembling a pear - but nothing so sweet - with a delectable hole in the middle to raise blisters, like a cupping glass." This was the only mention which Mr. Syer Cuming had met with of a perforated ferule.
Some uncertainty attends the origin of the name of this instrument. It has been derived from ferula, the giant-fennel, the stalks of which were employed by the Romans in the chastisement of slaves and pupils. The sceptre of the Byzantine Emperor was denominated ferula; and it has been thought that the name was applied derisively to the palmer, as the master's ensign of authority; but the title has been deduced, with much more probability, from the Latin ferio, to strike. The mention of the ferule in foreign dictionaries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries proves its employment on the Continent as well as in England; and Mr. Syer Cuming mentions his old oil-painting of the interior of a Dutch school-room, where the pedagogue holds the palm-mate in his left hand, as in the Tewkesbury seal. It may be remarked, that the instrument continued to be used in this country even as late as the last decade of the eighteenth century
[Footnote] In 1841, Moses Roper, an escaped slave, exhibited at public meeting in this neighbourhood (Montgomeryshire) a wooden implement similar to the ferule, the end of which, being oval instead of round, was pierced with several small holes, about a quarter of an inch in diameter, and stated that it had been used for punishing the slaves. It doubtless would produce a series of blisters, corresponding with the number of holes.
Re: The school ferula
|July 9 2011, 1:48 PM |
I'm puzzled by the quote from Allen Dunstable who describes himself as a "Scotchman". All Scots I know hate being called Scotch, which is of course a whisky.
|July 9 2011, 10:37 PM |
The item was published in 1881. Perhaps things were different then.
Re: The school ferula
|July 9 2011, 10:57 PM |
I think the name "ferula" was also sometimes given to the Irish leather strap, used on the hands.
I am pretty sure James Joyce used the word ferula and I remember working on a couple of television productions based on his books, in one of which we had one scene where the said implement was used on a young actor.
I never managed to get to try the action prop, which made an impressive smack, but it must have been padded with soft material because it seemed to cause little distress to the recipient, in spite of a number of retakes.
Re: The school ferula
|July 9 2011, 11:30 PM |
hcj: I think the name "ferula" was also sometimes given to the Irish leather strap, used on the hands.
Yes, the term does seem to have been used very loosely which is why I a researching the word.
Re: The school ferula
|July 9 2011, 11:31 PM |
I assume the scene you are discussing is from 'portrait of an artist as a young man'.
'Stephen drew back his maimed and quivering right arm and held out his left hand . The soutane sleeve swished again as the pandybat was lifted and a loud crashing sound and a fierce maddening tingling burning pain made his hand shrink together with the palms and fingers in a livid quivering mess. ........'
The scene is at about 22mins on this version :
Re: The school ferula
|July 10 2011, 6:07 AM |
Tuapeka Times, Volume XXIV, Issue 1866, 27 January 1892, Page 6
SHE WAS NOT PUNISHED
They tell an amusing little story of (US) Senator Vedder when he began to teach school. He had one pupil, who was about his own age - a merry irrepressible young girl. Her frequent outbursts of laughter were very annoying to the young teacher. It was near the close of the day, when the weary teacher's patience had been sorely tried, that he determined to give the girl a little squelcher in the way of corporal punishment. Such tortures were always inflicted on the hand with a strap or ferule in the presence of all the pupils. So, thus approaching her, ferule in hand, he addressed her thus: - "Miss , give me your hand." She dropped her head and blushed. Again he said, sternly : "Miss, I say, give me your hand." Now slowly lifting her eyes, she remarked : "Mr Vedder, this is embarrassing for me. You should not make such proposals in public. However, yon must ask my papa first." It was said the roar of laughter from the pupils must have discouraged the future Senator, for it was never ascertained that he asked her papa.
[This was back in the early days when classes were large and often contained pupils of very different ages. Presumably, the incident occurred in the USA which implies the ferule was known there.]
|July 10 2011, 12:53 PM |
A rare find. Are you sure he didn't ask her to bend over a rear before?
Commodore or rear admiral?
A REAR AGO
Re: The school ferula
|July 10 2011, 2:54 PM |
Boston Globe kiddingly, I assume, asked this question in the (I won't pay for view). Would if someone did here? Were they referring to that girl?
Did He Marry the Girl?
Pay-Per-View - Boston Daily Globe - Apr 10, 1892
Senator Vedder of York when he began to teach school had one who was about ... the young teacher It was near the close ol the clap when the weary teacher
Re: The school ferula
|July 10 2011, 10:16 PM |
Prof n wrote: I assume the scene you are discussing is from 'portrait of an artist as a young man'.
My goodness, you found that quickly! Thanks.
Re: The school ferula
|July 10 2011, 11:01 PM |
No problem . You might find this contemporary interpretation by some college students interesting . The paddling is pretty realistic ( even if not the pandybat). This was a college project from what I gather .Someone knows how to use the copy button on the editing suite ( at least I hope so for the sake of the actor !).
|July 28 2011, 9:46 PM |
I went to an English public school (several actually) but it was at Stonyhurst college, and her Prep school St. Mary's Hall, that I experienced the "ferula". The act of receiving this punishment was fondly referrd to as getting "cracks" by us boys.
One night at 2 am we wrere all told to stand outside our cubicles (where we each had a bed, chest of drawers and a chair, wooded panels on 3 sides and a curtain on the 4th) by our SJ because someone had been talking, we would all have to remain in silence untill the person owned up. After an hour I remember checking my watch for the time, unaware the priest was standing watching. I was ordered "4 ferulas", "but, but father" I said "8 ferulas" "but, but, but Father I was just..." "12 ferulas! Wish to continue boy?!" At some point after 3am that morning I returned to my bed in utter pain.
Indeed, the ferula was a flat piece of whale bone that had been covered with a rubber coating, to better enhance that flexibility
As for the severity of damage it caused? Well, I had experienced caning in another school before (Stubbington House)and it left scars on my arse that took over 8 years to go away; with the ferula however, due to its "fatness" there was never any danger of that happening, although there were examples of fractured wrists and broken fingers...over zealous SJs?
Hope this helps!
|August 16 2011, 2:44 PM |
As with Champion84, I too was at st Marys Hall & Stonyhurst College. It seems though that I was there somewhat later, 1983-91, as there was more methodology behind how boys were punished.
At St Marys Hall we used to carry around a debit/credit card, where if we received 10 debits the card was taken away, we would receive the ferula, one on each hand, and then be given back a new card with which we could accumulate more debits!
I remember quite clearly how we had lukewarm water waiting in the basins of the wash room so that we could sink our hands into to alleviate the pain.
I only received this punishment once, and by the time I moved to the college Stonyhurst it was no longer an option for punishment.
I too believed that this was a piece of whale bone covered in leather.
Re: The school ferula
|August 17 2011, 7:37 AM |
Campion84 - Interesting story. Sounds a bit excessive but I suppose the dorm master was fed up losing his sleep and wanted to make an example to ensure behaviour in the following nights. I remember a similar incident myself. What age were you when this happened? Were you given the ferula in the dorm or privately? And did the talker ever own up and what happened to him?
The Jesuit Ferula
|September 9 2011, 1:11 PM |
The Ferula was an punishment implement used primarily by the Jesuit Fathers in catholic schools, although it found its way into many catholic schools as well. Originally, it was Gutta Percha, a form of hard rubber,formed round a length of whalebone which reduced the rubbers flexibility. When Gutta Percha became very expensive after the war, it was replaced with leather, although the whalebone stiffening was retained.
The normal method of administration was across the hand with the wrist held firmly to prevent the hand being withdrawn, as well as stopping downward movement,so the full force of the ferula stroke was realized.
The number of strokes varied from two to six in middle school, and nine in senior school, although double nine was not unheard of,although it was given over two sessions.
The pain of a ferula was very different to a strap. I recieved the tawse and a flat leather strap at school, and they were immediately painful. The first stroke of the ferula deadened the hand,but by the time the second and third stroke were given, the pain didn't seem to stop getting more intense, and the hand felt twice it's normal thickness. This was repeated on the other hand, and you had to say "thank you" before you left the study.
The immediate deep pain took about ten minutes to go, leaving the hands very sore and reddened, and this would last for a couple of hours. The worst thing that could happen was to be sent for another visit the same day, as no quarter was given to the tenderness of the hands from the previous feruling.
|October 4 2011, 3:49 PM |
I too was at St Mary's Hall and then later at Stonyhurst. I started at SMH 1978 and during my years there received the ferula "cracks" on a very regular basis. At least every two weeks for exceeding 10 debits on my line card for that two week period. Funny, I normally managed to get them all in one week. You were normally ordered ferulae in sets of two. Typically for ten debits I think I remember you would receive six, three on one hand then three more on the remaining hand. After a few years, I guess as my behaviour had not improved, I was told that in future I would receive them on alternate hands. This took forever to administer and was many times more painful. Also the waiting outside the deptuty headmasters office was also part of the punishment, sometimes left for up to an hour to consider your fate.
The relief came as mentioned by a previous poster by having a friend prepare a bowl of hot water in the "washplace" (area on the ground floor full of wash basins and the shower block) for the throbbing hands to be plunged into. It did for some reason seem to work.
Re: The school ferula
|October 6 2011, 5:18 PM |
Like gallows humor (humour to you Jickies)
School corporal punishment offers up the same and abounds in many climes and times.
|October 6 2011, 5:45 PM |
The American Way of spelling is, of course, a political choice, proposed by Webster in his 1806 Dictionary.