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Post, April 27 to 30, 1745 : “Last week a woman that keeps the Queen's Head alehouse at Kingston, in Surrey, was ordered by the court to be ducked for scolding, and was accordingly placed in the chair, and ducked in the river Thames, under Kingston Bridge, in the presence of 2000 or 3000 people.”
Cole (MS. Brit. Mus. xlii. 285) in his extracts from Mr. Tabor's book, among instances of Proceedings in the ViceChancellor's Court of Cambridge, 1st Eliz., gives : “ Jane Johnson, adjudged to the duckinge stoole for scoulding, and commuted her penance.
Katherine Sanders, accused by the churchwardens of St. Andrewes for a common scold and slanderer of her neighbours, adjudged to the duckingstool.”
There is an order of the corporation of Shrewsbury, 1669, that “A ducking-stool be erected for the punishment of all scolds.” See the History of the Town, 4to. 1779, p. 172. In Harwood's History of Lichfield, p. 383, in the year 1578, we find a charge, * For making a cuckstool with appurtenances, 88."
Misson, in his Travels in England, p. 40, thus describes the cucking-stool. It may with justice be observed of this author that no popular custom escaped his notice: “Chaise. La maniere de punir les femmes querelleuses et debauchées est assez plaisante en Angleterre. On attache une chaise à bras à l'extremité de deux especes de solives, longues de douze ou quinze pieds et dans un eloignement parallele, en sorte que ces deux pieces de bois embrassent, par leur deux bouts voisins, la chaise qui est entre deux, et qui y est attachée par le côte comme avec un essieu, de telle maniere, qu'elle a du Jeu, et qu'elle demeure toujours dans l'etat naturel et horisontal auquel une chaise doit être afin qu'on puisse s'asseoir dessus, soit qu'on l'éleve, soit qu'on l'abaisse. On dressee un pôteau sur le bord d'un etang ou d'une rivierre, et sur ce poteau on pose, presque en equilibre, la double piece de bois à une des extremitez de laquelle la choise se trouve au dessus de l'eau. On met la femme dans cette chaise, et on la plonge ainsi autant de fois qu'il a été ordonné, pour rafraichir un peu sa chaleur immoderée.” See Ozell's Transl. p. 65.
In Whimzies, or a New Cast of Characters, 12mo. Lond. 1631, p. 182, speaking of a Xantippean, the author says: "He (her husband) vowes threfore to bring her in all disgrace
to the cucking-stoole ; and she vowes againe to bringe him, with all contempt, to the stoole of repentance."
[The following curious notices of it have not been previously quoted : “This month we may safely predict, that the days will be short, and the weather cold; yet not so great a frost as that there will be a fair kept on the Thames. Should all women be like to patient Grizel, then we might make Christmas-blocks of all the cucking-stools.” Poor Robin, 1693.
“Since the excellent invention of cucking-stools, to cure women of their tongue combates, 999 years :
“ Now if one cucking-stool was for each scold,
Some towns, I fear, would not their numbers hold;
Poor Robin, 1746.) In The New Help to Discourse, 3d edit. 12mo. 1684, p. 216, we read : "On a ducking-stool.—Some gentlemen travelling, and coming near to a town, saw an old woman spinning near the ducking-stool; one, to make the company merry, asked the good woman what that chair was made for? Said she, you know what it is. Indeed, said he, not I, unless it be the chair you use to spin in. No, no, said she, you know it to be otherwise : have you not heard that it is the cradle your good mother has often layn in ?”.
In Miscellaneous Poems, &c., by Benjamin West, of Weedon Beck, Northamptonshire, 8vo. 1780, p. 84, is preserved a copy of verses, said to have been written near sixty years ago, entitled “The Ducking-stool.” The description runs thus :
“ There stands, my friend, in yonder pool,
An engine call'd a ducking-stool:
whitesmith in the Butcher 'Row, behind the town-hall, who offered it to me, but I did not know what to do with it. In October, 1776, I saw in the old town-hall a third ducking-stool of plain oak, with an iron bar before it to confine the person in the seat; but I made no inquiries about it. mention these things as the practice seems now to be totally laid aside.” This was written about 1780. Mr. Cole died in 1782.
The stool is represented in a cut annexed to the Dumps, designed and engraved by Lud. du Guernier. There is a wooden cut of one in the frontispiece of the popular penny history of the Old Woman of Ratcliff Highway.
[The best account of the ducking-stool yet published will be found in Mr. Wright's Archæological Album.]
ANOTHER PUNISHMENT FOR SCOLDING WOMEN.
“ THEY have an artifice at Newcastle-under-Lyme and Walsall,” says Dr. Plott, in his History of Staffordshire, p. 389, “ for correcting of scolds, which it does too, so effectually and so very safely, that I look upon it as much to be preferred to the cucking-stoole, which not only endangers the health of the party, but also gives the tongue liberty 'twixt every dipp; to neither of which this is at all liable: it being such a bridle for the tongue as not only quite deprives them of speech, but brings shame for the transgression and humility thereupon before ʼtis taken off: which being put upon the offender by order of the magistrate, and fastened with a padlock behind, she is led round the town by an officer, to her shame, nor is it taken off till after the party begins to show all external signes imaginable of humiliation and amendment.” Dr. Plott, in a copper-plate annexed, gives a representation of a pair of branks. They still preserve a pair in the town court at Newcastle-uponTyne, where the same custom once prevailed. See Gardiner's England's Grievance of the Coal Trade, and Brand's History of that Town, ii. 192.
DRUNKARD'S CLOAK. It appears from Gardiner's England's Grievance in Relation to the Coal Trade, that in the time of the Commonwealth the magistrates of Newcastle-upon-Tyne punished scolds with the branks (just described), and drunkards by making them carry a tub with holes in the sides for the arms to pass through, called the Drunkard's Cloak, through the streets of that town. See Brand's History of Newcastle, wherein is also given a representation of it in a copper-plate, ii. 192.
PILLIWINKES, OR PYREWINKES. The pilliwinkes have been already noticed as a torture formerly used in Scotland for suspected witches. We have the following notice of them in Cowel's Law Interpreter : “PYRE
Johannes Masham et Thomas Bote de Bury, die Lunæ proxime ante Festum Apostolorum Symonis et Judæ, anno regni Henrici Quarti post Conquestum tertio, malitia et conspiratione inter eos inde præhabitis quendam Robertum Smyth de Bury-ceperunt infra predictam villam, et ipsum infra domum dicti Johannis Masham in ferro posuerunt-et cum cordis ligaverunt, et super pollices ipsius Roberti quoddam instrumentum vocatum PYREWINKES ita strictè et duré posuerunt, quod sanguis exivit de digitis illius.” Ex Cartular. Abbatiæ Sancti Edmundi. MS. fol. 341.
On the subject of this punishment the reader is referred to Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, and of Ancient Manners, i. 146-150, where sever varieties of the method of inflicting it are graphically represented. One of the oldest names of the pillory was Collistrigium, from the stretching out or projection of the head through a hole made in the pillory for that purpose, or through an iron collar or carcan sometimes
attached to the pillar itself. In early times, in England, it
“ L. Paullus Consul iterum, cum ei, bellum ut cum Rege Perse gereret, obtigisset; ut ea ipsa die domum ad vesperum rediit, filiolam suam tertiam, quæ tum erat admodum parva, osculans animum advertit tristiculam : quid est, inquit, mea tertia ? quid tristis es ? Mi pater, inquit Persa periit. Tum ille arctius puellam complexus, accipio OMEN, inquit, mea filia : erat enim mortuus catellus eo nomine." Cic. DE DIVINAT. lib. i. sect. 46.
The word Omen is well known to signify a sign, good or bad, or a prognostic. It may be defined to be that indication of something future, which we get as it were by accident, and without our seeking for.
A superstitious regard to omens seems anciently to have made very considerable additions to the common load of human infelicity. They are now pretty generally disregarded, and we look back with perfect security and indifference on those trivial and truly ridiculous accidents which alternately afforded matter of joy and sorrow to our ancestors." Omens
1 Gibbon, in his Decline and Fall, viii. 201, speaking of the wars of the Emperor Maurice against the Avars, A.D., 595, tells us that, on setting out," he (the emperor) solicited, without success, a miraculous answer to his nocturnal prayers. His mind was confounded by the death of a favourite horse, the encounter of a wild boar, a storm of wind and rain, and the birth of a monstrous child; and he forgot that the best of omens is to unsheathe our sword in defence of our country. He returned to Con. stantinople, and exchanged the thoughts of war for those of devotion.” Apposite the following from Joh. Sarisber. de Nugis Curialium, fol. 27 : “ Rusticanum et fortè Ofelli Proverbium est-Qui somniis et auguriis credit, nunquam fore securum. Ego sententiam et verissimam et fidelissimam puto. Quid enim refert ad consequentiam rerum, si quis semel aut amplius sternutaverit? Quid si oscitaverit? His mens nugis incauta seducitur, sed fidelis nequaquam acquiescit.”