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Upon my hand they cast a poring look,
Bid me beware, and thrice their heads they shook; They said that many crosses I must prove, Some in my wordly gain, but most in love. Next morn I miss'd three hens and our old cock, And, off the hedge, two pinners and a smock." The Ditty. The following beautiful lines on the same subject are from Prior's Henry and Emma. Henry is personating a Gipsy.
"A frantic Gipsy now the house he haunts,
What groom shall get, and 'squire maintain the child."
Rogers, in his Pleasures of Memory, 1. 107, has also described the Gipsy:
"Down by yon hazel copse, at evening, blaz'd
The Gipsy fagot.-There we stood and gaz'd;
Whose dark eyes flash'd thro' locks of blackest shade,
And trac'd the line of life with searching view,
How throbb'd my fluttering pulse with hopes and fears
Strype, in his Annals of the Reformation, ii. 611, mentions a book written by William Bullein, of Simples and Surgery, A.D. 1562, in which the author speaks of " dog-leaches, and Egyptians, and Jews: all pretending to the telling of fortunes and curing by charms. They (dog-leaches) buy some gross stuff, with a box of salve and cases of tools, to set forth their slender market withal, &c. Then fall they to palmistry and telling of fortunes, daily deceiving the simple. Like unto the swarms of vagabonds, Egyptians, and some that call themselves Jews, whose eyes were so sharp as lynx. For they see all the people with their knacks, pricks, domifying, and figuring, with such like fantasies. Faining that they have
familiers and glasses, whereby they may find things that be lost. And, besides them, are infinite of old doltish witches with blessings for the fair and conjuring of cattel."
Since the repeal of the act against this class of people, which, if I mistake not, took place in 1788, they are said not to be so numerous as before; they still, however, are to be met with, and still pretend to understand palmistry and telling fortunes, nor do I believe that their notions of meum and tuum are one whit less vague than before. Perhaps, in the course of time, they will either degenerate into common beggars, or be obliged to take to a trade or a business for a livelihood. The great increase of knowledge in all ranks of people has rendered their pretended arts of divination of little benefit to them, at least by no means to procure them subsistence.
THE cucking-stool was an engine invented for the punishment of scolds and unquiet women, by ducking them in the water, after having placed them in a stool or chair fixed at the end of a long pole, by which they were immerged in some muddy or stinking pond. Blount tells us that some think it a corruption from ducking-stool, but that others derive it from choking-stool.2 Though of the most remote antiquity,
'An essayist in the Gent. Mag. for May, 1732, vol. ii. p. 740, observes that "the stools of infamy are the ducking-stool and the stool of repentance. The first was invented for taming female shrews. The stool of repentance is an ecclesiastical engine, of popish extraction, for the punishment of fornication and other immoralities, whereby the delinquent publicly takes shame to himself, and receives a solemn reprimand from the minister of the parish." A very curious extract from a MS. in the Bodleian Library bearing on this subject may be seen in Halliwell's Dictionary, p. 285.
2 Blount finds it called "le Goging Stole" in Cod. MS. "de Legibus, Statutis, et Consuetudinibus liberi Burgi Villæ de Mountgomery a tempore Hen. 2," fol. 12 b.
He says it was in use even in our Saxons' time, by whom it was called Scealping-role, and described to be "Cathedra in qua rixosæ mulieres sedentes aquis demergebantur." It was a punishment inflicted also anciently upon brewers and bakers transgressing the laws.
it is now, it should seem, totally disused. It was also called a tumbrel, a tribuch or trébuchet, and a thew.2
Henry, in his History of Great Britain, i. 214, tells us that "In Germany, cowards, sluggards, debauchees, and prostitutes, were suffocated in mires and bogs,' and adds, "it is not improbable that these useless members and pests of human society were punished in the same manner in this island;" asking at the same time, in a note, "Is not the ducking-stool a relic of this last kind of punishment?"
In the Promptorum Parvulorum, MS. Harl. 221, Brit. Mus. "Esgn, or CUKKYN," is interpreted by stercoriso; and in the Doomsday Survey, in the account of the city of Chester, i. 262, we read: "Vir sive mulier falsam mensuram in civitate faciens deprehensus, iiii. solid. emendab.' Similiter malam cervisiam faciens, aut in CATHEDRA ponebatur STERCORIS, aut iiii. solid. dab' prepotis."
Mr. Lysons, in his Environs of London, i. 233, gives us a curious extract from the churchwardens' and chamberlains' accounts at Kingston-upon-Thames, in the year 1572, which contains a bill of expenses 3 for making one of these cuckingstools, which, he says, must have been much in use formerly, as there are frequent entries of money paid for its repairs. He adds, that this arbitrary attempt at laying an embargo upon the female tongue has long since been laid aside. It was continued, however, at Kingston to a late period, as appears from the following paragraph in the London Evening
At a court of the manor of Edgeware, anno 1552, the inhabitants were presented for not having a tumbrel and cucking-stool. See Lysons's Envir. of London, vol. ii. p. 244. This looks as if the punishments were different.
"The following extract from Cowel's Interpreter, in v. THEW, seems to prove (with the extract just quoted from Mr. Lysons's Environs of London) that there was a difference between a tumbrel and a cuckingstool or thew. Georgius Grey Comes Cantii clamat in manner. de Bushton et Ayton punire delinquentes contra Assisam Panis et Cervisiæ, per tres vices per amerciamenta, et quarta vice pistores per pilloriam, braciatores per tumbrellam, et rixatrices per thewe, hoc est, ponere eas super scabeilum vocat. a cucking-stool. Pl. in Itin. apud Cestr. 14 Henry VII."
1572. The making of the cucking-stool
Timber for the same
3 brasses for the same and three wheels
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,
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,