Johnson on not praise but discipline

Emma the Emo writes on “Don’t Praise Your Daughter for Being Intelligent… or your son, for that matter.”

These words from Johnson, courtesy of Boswell’s “Life of Johnson” are apropos:

Indeed Johnson was very sensible how much he owed to Mr. Hunter. Mr. Langton one day asked him how he had acquired so accurate a knowledge of Latin, in which, I believe, he was exceeded by no man of his time; he said, ‘My master whipt me very well. Without that, Sir, I should have done nothing.’ He told Mr. Langton, that while Hunter was flogging his boys unmercifully, he used to say, ‘And this I do to save you from the gallows.’ Johnson, upon all occasions, expressed his approbation of enforcing instruction by means of the rod. ‘I would rather (said he) have the rod to be the general terrour to all, to make them learn, than tell a child, if you do thus, or thus, you will be more esteemed than your brothers or sisters. The rod produces an effect which terminates in itself. A child is afraid of being whipped, and gets his task, and there’s an end on’t; whereas, by exciting emulation and comparisons of superiority, you lay the foundation of lasting mischief; you make brothers and sisters hate each other.’

When Johnson saw some young ladies in Lincolnshire who were remarkably well behaved, owing to their mother’s strict discipline and severe correction, he exclaimed, in one of Shakspeare’s lines a little varied,

Rod, I will honour thee for this thy duty.’

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One Response to Johnson on not praise but discipline

  1. Pat Hannagan says:

    Just realised Percy Grainger was an Ozzie.

    I don;t know what to make of this.

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