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She mounts again, and rages more
And, rather than your patience lose,
In Prior's skilful lines we see
A mouthful of the same she'd take,
A note informs us, "To the honour of the fair sex in the neighbourhood of R****y, this machine has been taken down (as useless) several years.
[According to the Chelmsford Chronicle, April 10, 1801: "Last week, a woman notorious for her vociferation, was indicted for a common scold, at Kingston; and the facts being fully proved, she was sentenced to receive the old punishment of being ducked, which was accordingly executed upon her in the Thames by the proper officers, in a chair preserved in the town for that purpose; and as if to prove the justice of the court's sentence, on her return from the water's side, she fell upon one of her acquaintance, without provocation, with tongue, tooth, and nail, and would, had not the officers interposed, have deserved a second punishment, even before she was dry from the first."]
Borlase, in his Natural History of Cornwall, p. 303, tells us: "Among the punishments inflicted in Cornwall, of old time, was that of the cocking-stool, a seat of infamy where strumpets and scolds, with bare foot and head, were condemned to abide the derision of those that passed by, for such time as the bailiffs of manors, which had the privilege of such jurisdiction, did appoint."
Morant, in his History of Essex, i. 317, speaking of Canuden, in the hundred of Rochford, mentions "Cuckingstole Croft,
as given for the maintenance of a light in this church; as appears by inquisition, 10 Eliz."
In the Regiam Majestatem, by Sir John Skene, this punishment occurs as having been used anciently in Scotland: under "Burrow Lawes," chap. lxix., speaking of Browsters, i. e. "Wemen quha brewes aill to be sauld," it is said, "gif she makes gude ail, that is sufficient. Bot gif she makes evill ail, contrair to the use and consuetude of the burgh, and is convict thereof, she sall pay ane unlaw of aucht shillinges, or sal suffer the justice of the burgh, that is, she sall be put upon the cock-stule, and the aill sall be distributed to the pure folke."
These stools seem to have been in common use when Gay wrote his Pastorals; they are thus described in the Dumps, 1. 105:
"I'll speed me to the pond, where the high stool
["A ducking-stool, a relic of bygone times, and dread of all scolding women, has, by direction of the mayor of Ipswich, been painted and renovated, and suspended over the staircase leading to the council-chamber of the Town Hall, where it will remain a striking memento of the customs of our ancient "townsfolke.'"-Newspaper paragraph, 1843.]
In his xlviiith vol. (MS. Brit. Mus.) p. 172, Cole says: "In my time, when I was a boy, and lived with my grandmother in the great corner house at the bridge foot next to Magdalen College, Cambridge, and re-built since by my uncle, Mr. Joseph Cock, I remember to have seen a woman ducked for scolding. The chair hung by a pulley fastened to a beam about the middle of the bridge, in which the woman was confined, and let down under the water three times, and then taken out. The bridge was then of timber, before the present stone bridge of one arch was builded. The ducking-stool was constantly hanging in its place, and on the back panel of it was engraved devils laying hold of scolds, &c. Some time after a new chair was erected in the place of the old one, having the same devils carved on it, and well painted and ornamented. When the new bridge of stone was erected, about 1754, this was taken away, and I lately saw the carved and gilt back of it nailed up by the shop of one Mr. Jackson, a
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. I 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 'tis 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.
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: "PYREWINKES. 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 durè 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 several 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 was the punishment most commonly inflicted upon thievish millers and bakers. An interesting article upon the history of this punishment, and of its abolition, in the different States of Europe, will be found in the Penny Cyclopædia, xviii.
"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.1 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 Constantinople, and exchanged the thoughts of war for those of devotion." Apposite is 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."