Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/379

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

of his "law of equal freedom," finds recognition in civilized societies—a violation of it being with ns considered a criminal offense. But in the management of schools and colleges, where one expects to meet with complete recognition of the fundamental laws governing societies, there is but little recognition of that which forbids violation of person. Happily, in America, the system of "fagging" does not exist, at least not in that gross form which disgraces the schools of Great Britain and Ireland, where, contrary to their wishes and without remuneration, small boys are compelled to perform menial work for big bullies, who beat them brutally when the work is not satisfactorily accomplished, or sometimes for amusement, as I have myself witnessed—where the analogy between a "fag" and a slave is almost perfect, each doing under compulsion unremunerated labor and being liable to the lash. Happily, I repeat, "fagging" in this form finds little favor in American schools; but, unhappily, hazing does find favor. And nearly every form of "practical joke" practiced in schools and colleges necessitates a violation either of person or property. Newcomers are expected to bear with good humor at the hands of strangers assaults upon their persons and destruction of their property—to smile blandly upon young criminals.

Nor are the crimes of schoolboys which pass as practical jokes confined to crimes against schoolfellows; there are statesmen who, over the walnuts and the wine, tell tales of their "orchard-robbing days."

A significant example of school ethics is the method of settling "difficulties" spontaneously adopted by most schoolboys—namely, the method of physical encounter. He who declines to submit his case to the pugilistic test is branded a coward. The man who covers a crime is regarded as a criminal by society, but the schoolboy who discloses a crime is regarded as a criminal, if not by society at large, at least by his fellows.

Turning from schoolboys to schoolmasters, we find that, even if they do not openly countenance the conduct here condemned, they certainly do not sufficiently oppose it. Moreover, in many schools it is customary to punish the whole school, or a whole class, for offenses presumably committed by one or more of their number whenever the offender or offenders escape detection by the faculty. It is difficult to say which is the more barbarous, the boys' method of deciding questions of justice, or the masters' method of securing the punishment of undetected offenders.

One more example, of school ethics may be given. I am informed that in a few boys' schools and in many girls' schools the head masters or mistresses are authorized, or take it upon themselves, to open letters belonging to their pupils. This is done, as