44 Old-time Schools and School-books
master had a short ladder beside his desk, and when he called forth a culprit for punishment, the boy had to step up on the ladder to receive his caning. It is related of a certain rustic schoolmaster that he kept a long birch rod with the butt-end resting on his chair, so that he could use it without rising. Another master would sit with his feet on the table and call up all the boys to march around the table in single file. As they passed in front of him he hit them each in turn with his ruler. In this way, though some of the innocent may have suffered, he made sure that none of the guilty escaped. But not all the discipline in the old schools was muscular. Instances are recorded of an offender's being ordered out to cut a small branch from a tree, and when he returned with it, the teacher squared and partially split the larger end and fitted the cleft on the culprit's nose. Pinched and ridiculous, the boy was forced to stand in full sight of the school until the teacher relented.
In the dame schools premiums of gingerbread were now and then bestowed for good behavior, but these were not a chief reliance in the cultivation of virtue. Most dames had great faith in a thimble tapped sharply on the delinquents' craniums. Whisperers were sometimes compelled to silence by having inserted in their mouths a short stick, like the bit of a bridle, with strings at the ends which could be tied at the back of the head. There were schools where transgressors were made to stand on the benches and wear dunce caps, or huge leather spectacles; or they might have pinned to their persons