Ten years at an English public school do not encourage dreaming. Georgie won his growth and chest measurement, and a few other things which did not appear in the bills, under a system of cricket, football, and paper-chases, from four to five days a week, which provided for three lawful cuts of a ground-ash if any boy absented himself from these entertainments.

This is from "The Brushwood Boy" by Rudyard Kipling.

I don't understand the meaning of
lawful cuts of a ground-ash

I am glad if someone would kindly teach me.

  • 1
    It refers to corporal punishment, which for many decades now has been unlawful in Britain, as it is in most civilised countries.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 7:58

1 Answer 1


Ash is a tree known for producing very strong and straight wood. A "ground ash" is a walking stick made from an ash sapling. This stick won't break when you hit someone over the back with it.

Here, a "cut" means a hit or blow.

So the phrase, means "three hits with a very hard stick".

"Lawful" has its normal meaning.

  • thank you very much for your clear and precise answer. It is so helpful! Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 0:05

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