It was a time when obedience was considered the most important virtue, and elders with authority could do what they wanted in the name of instilling discipline and putting people in their place.
Joseph, a servant, boxes his little orphaned mistress' ears. (What does 'box someone's ears' mean?)
Catherine, the girl who is beaten runs away to play instead of suffering the punishment of sitting in a corner. Her diary expresses her anguish at the ill treatment meted out to her. Surprisingly, I can still relate to such a scene.
How could that be?
Today, psychology recommends a better parenting strategy, and parents are willingly permissive.
But Joseph is a bully, and the bullies are still around. Not just in schools but on the streets, in our buildings and particularly, in the work place.
They overtake our vehicles in rude and shocking ways, comment unnecessarily in public, form cliques and spread rumours. They yell at us, write misinforming reviews of our work. They want to put us in our place. They want us to lag behind so that they can zoom past, come up in life and appear good at the same time.
Such people never succeed in the long run. I am old enough to know that.
I just wish that I had smooth things to tell them, with a subtle hint of a smile on my face, like lawyers in soaps.