The nut tree saying

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There is an old English saying that compares the assumed character-improving nature of wife beating to a similar beneficial effect of beating on certain domestic animals (asses or dogs) and nut trees. The saying can be traced back to the 16th century:

A nut tree, an ass and a woman are bound together by the same law: None of the three will do well if the blows cease.
  — Cognatus, Adagia (c. 1560)

It is said that an ass, a walnut-tree, and a woman asketh much beating before they are good.
  — Leonard Wright, Display of Dutie (1589)

A woman, a dog, and a walnut-tree,
The more you beat them the better they be.
  — Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, No. 6404

The third variant of this phrase appears in the classic Victorian era erotic spanking novel "Frank" and I, (Vol. 2, chapter 13) published anonymously in 1902. The novel contains many scenes of M/F and F/F birching and spanking.

See also