You are commenting using your WordPress. Tagged as corporal punishmentludwigsburgmuseum. In several of nell in bridewell later chapters, various characters lecture one another on methods of punishment used in Americain Englandand in the home. Post was not sent — check your email addresses!
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This is a print version of story Nell in Bridewell by elephas from xHamster. Useless and cruel delays — An aristocratic old lady says, "What a magnificent bottom the girl has got! The body writhes and suffers, but the soul awakens and gains strength — Cynical and risky observation of the aristocratic old lady — The strokes succeed each other in slowly-measured rhythm.
She is rebuked by another — The fearful torture suffered by Helen — The Governor is taking revenge on her for repelling his immoral overtures. The high-born ladies came first; everybody else had to give way before them and make room as they passed to the middle of the workroom, where places had been specially reserved for them in front of the whipping-bench.
Almost immediately after them came the Governor and the two overseers who were to operate. An elderly very stylish lady, evidently belonging to high society, with sparkling dark eyes and highly rouged cheeks, who possessed unmistakable remains of former beauty and evidently looked forward with keen pleasure to what was about to take place, said, speaking to one of the two overseers, "Well, I hear that you are going to leave us. You have often contributed on similar occasions to make the scene more complete and interesting, and, as I have been informed, this is to be your last appearance.
Yonder are four girls, to whom we shall serve a treat before we go, as it should be done and where it will fit them best, and we shall so manage that they may long remember us. There is not another figure like hers; you will recognize that when you look at her.
She always seems to want to assume a position out of the common, and I shall take care that to-day she shall get something quite out of the common too. She is a dainty bit, such as one cannot get every day, and must be properly relished. I sat still, praying. The Governor read out the sentence aloud. She was now seized, stretched upon the bench and fastened down; her frock was turned up high and the whipping drawers pulled tight down, so that they did indeed seem to form a "second skin.
The outlines of the body show quite distinctly, and one can see the very life of the flesh. All that is needed is now and then to pull them tight, in order that the fork may be well drawn down and detach itself clearly. This can console one pretty well for the loss of the birch. And the stuff is so thin and light! Poor girl! Still it will give pleasure to others, and she has brought this fate on herself. It can do her no harm that we look on, and the more publicity is given to the punishment, the more it is likely to deter others.
There must be penalties. This was necessary, he used to say, when he had to deal with hardened, refractory rebellious natures. I can assure you, ladies, that it is impossible in a House of Correction to deal otherwise with a subject of that kind, of which there are but too many, or that they are but amenable to kind words and take the slightest heed of threats or reprimands. The only language they understand and listen to is that of the rod; with it and with the birch wonders may be done.
He has a sure sign in the way of shedding tears, in the voice, in the words, in the whole appearance, in the features. Oh, yes! What say you, comrade? Waving the instrument above his head, he brought down the first stroke with a whirr and a slash on the firm elastic flesh, barely dissimulated beneath the thin and very tight-fitting whipping-drawers.
At each succeeding stroke he lifted the pizzle quite slowly above his head, and then, giving it two or three swings with increasing rapidity and raising himself on tiptoe, would bring it with all the strength of his powerful arm on the unhappy target of holy justice. Not a single one of these blows fell that did not communicate a fearful rapid tremor to all that part of the body.
The Overseer, who now saw nothing else before him but the flesh given up to be martyrized, fixed his experienced eye upon it, inflamed with the brutal lust of causing a creature to suffer; nor could any change be noticed on his features as the cries of pain became louder and more distressing together with other symptoms of real torture.
Yet this man was the younger, smaller and less robust of the two. I could see through the tricks of this perfidious, ever smiling Governor and recognize his motive for delivering us poor girls to the brutality of these two coarse barbarians and for having reserved me for the taller; more powerful and more savage of the two!
Already in this choice of a torturer there was an arbitrary modification, and for me an aggravation of my unhappy fate. The high and mighty dames, pretty and ugly, and old and young, even some who had but a few years before themselves felt the birch, thronged impatiently round, eager to witness the sight, their eyes sparkling, fixed on the victim, their cheeks flushed with excitement, as poor Sabina, on her couch of torture, called on God and all the saints for mercy, her whole body quivering with agony, starting convulsively upward to fall back again on the hard wooden bench, upon which her knees rattled at each blow.
No doubt it was meant for use after the flogging and not before that; a means of attenuating the pain inflicted by the rod is altogether incompatible with the ways and character of Cunigund.
Indeed it was hardly credible how that part of the body could stand such attacks if the executioner had not somewhat diminished the pain by spreading his blows over a more extended surface, for several times he would take a step backwards so that the blow should fall also on the left hip in order to make it even with the right.
At last something moist pressed through the stuff, which became red; presently the redness extended downwards and along the thighs as far as the knees, and even down to the calves. Great heavens! I was, as it were, struck motionless and yet far more determined than a few weeks previously. God gave me strength, for I much required it.
She was now released from the bench. She could still stand, and even walk away. But here comes the beautiful Helen, the fair delinquent who sacrificed herself to save her sweetheart.
I shuddered, my limbs trembled, for a moment my sense of hearing was obliterated, and my feet refused to do their office. I called upon God, thought of Isidor and prayed for that strength and for moral self-possession, which lifts one above all that is physical and common, and cares nothing for even the most fashionable mob. All this sustained me and, proud and determined, I stepped forward. My appearance and the history of what had brought me here set all tongues in motion, and immediately occasioned an irregular, tumultuous and simultaneous conversation from many sides at once, in which there was neither order nor connection.
It was indeed a very olla podrida of clashing words and phrases, cries and exclamations. Well, she will have her pride rather brought down when she is on the bench! Has she not all the dignity of a Juno, and all the charm of a Venus? I was fastened down by the neck and the heels, my frock was forcibly thrown up, nearly to the shoulders, so that it could hardly hold together, and a considerable portion of my naked skin was exposed-and there were a number of other manipulations to be gone through from the waist to the knees before I should be found to be in the proper orthodox position.
At this moment I would fain have been hidden from all the world; I closed my eyes, a warm flood of blood rose to my cheeks and a boiling heat invaded my heart. In this shameful position, exposed to the gaze of so many eyes, how did I differ from a common criminal?
What a terrible thought! The cruellest maltreatment of my body, all that has been as yet done to me, has in the opinion of everybody, even of those who are good and humane, been done justly, according to law and because I have deserved it by my crime! And how many are there who in such circumstances put away all feelings of compassion, forget that the criminal is a human being, and believe that it may be done to him as one likes-he has forfeited all right to complain!
Then how cruelly again does memory evoke the past! Was it for this you educated me, my teachers? My fond girlish friends, is this the flattered, caressed Helen-who may have actually sometimes awakened a passing feeling of envy in your breasts? I had ample time for this torture of the soul, for everything took place very slowly, as if they wanted to gain time, so that my body, the prey of Justice and of cruel lust, should be as long as possible exposed to public gaze.
Of course mean, vulgar souls cannot understand-that to those who have to be thus castigated the above-mentioned exposure of their persons to the eyes and appreciations of the crowd is a serious aggravation of their penalty.
The Overseer now placed himself at my head and, stooping down, seized my drawers with both hands at the loins and hips and pulled them down on both sides so as to stretch them to the utmost, which he did with such force as to cause the groove between the legs to hurt me. The stuff of which the drawers were made was barely more protection to my skin than a very thin night shift would have been!
All this he did with all the knowledge acquired by long experience. No doubt he also wanted to take note of the firmness of my flesh and of its resonant power. Shame and dread vied with hellish distress. At last the victim was ready for the sacrifice extended flat on my belly on the bench, my head at one end, my feet at the other, my arms crossed so as to form a cushion for my head, the frock so arranged as to leave the back free; the thighs pressed close together, and the body fastened at the neck and at the heels by a wooden bolt to the bench, without interfering, however, with the free movements of the intervening portion of the body.
The most prominent parts of the person were thus exactly over the middle of the bench, the forms of the body fully exposed in all their fleshy development beneath a stuff so thin as to be an almost transparent veil, and-putting aside all further preamble-the seat chosen by mother Nature, and destined by her for such a solemn act as that which was about to be accomplished, being manifest to all.
The spectators, nearly all of them of the female sex for, besides the officials and a very few favoured young gentlemen, kept carefully in the background, all the rest were ladies , strictly ordered according to rank, now crowded closely round, almost all of them manifesting the utmost delight at being able to assist at such a pleasant spectacle, their eyes fixed upon my face to observe the least signs of anguish and of fear, and still more upon the threatened parts, accompanied by experienced prognostics of the effects of the strokes and of the pain caused thereby, so soon to be visible.
Oh, God! My whole body trembled; I shrank and quivered in dread of the imminent castigation, so horribly pictured in my imagination and rendered still more direful by the long-drawn preparations, the sinister apparatus and the unfeeling crowd around me, awaiting with eager curiosity to feast their eyes upon my martyrdom.
I almost suffered more than, a little while later, under the strokes. I can perfectly understand now how people sometimes die from excessive fright! Was it really a part of my sentence that I should first be ignominiously exhibited, and only after that submitted to the lash?
I do not even now know what induced the Governor to delay so long, and why this prologue was so unreasonably lengthened out. Even the noble ladies began to show signs of impatience, being quite taken meantime with the play of my features and the form of my limbs.
The principal scene was now to begin, when the well-prepared victim was to be methodically martyrized in soul and body, which process they would be able to follow in all its interesting details-details of a nature to furnish them with matter for conversation for a long time to come.
It may seem nearly incredible, but I almost longed for the first stroke to fall, for the unavoidable castigation to begin in earnest, merely to be delivered from this arbitrary and capricious additional torture which pierced my very soul and body! At last I heard someone enter; the crowd made room for him to pass.
It was, I believe, an actuary, whose presence was wanting to give greater solemnity to the ceremony, or else perhaps he brought something with him. I now heard someone call for silence, and in a moment all was still.
The latter, now that my affair was to come off, had become much more grave and important in face and manner. With eyes continually fixed upon his superior denoting his readiness for duty, he stood awaiting the order, which might be, as I was afterwards assured, not only the signal to begin, but also that for sharp or mild, for extreme or attenuated severity, as indicated by well-known discreet signs usually resorted to on such occasions. The Governor now slowly read out in a loud voice my sentence with all the endless preambles and considerations.
From one second to another the deadly bolt may fall. Such fullness, such firmness, will defy the hardest bastinade; it is indeed an indestructible mass, and every agitation of its magnificent substance must cause a sympathetic chord to vibrate among the men, aye, and among the women too, for the sex is not visible and such forms may be supposed to belong to either sex.
Fear at sight of the terrible exhibition of strength made by the executioner more than actual pain forced a cry from me. I felt the flesh quiver and swell up, a glowing heat spread itself quickly over the part which had been struck, a rapid fire of dread ran through me; I did not yet start, it was as if this first thunder-bolt from the storm which had burst over my head, poor helpless maiden, had paralysed my body.
And there are nineteen more to come, thought I; Oh, God in Heaven, what will become of me? The foreboding of horrible pains, of cruel maltreatment, had become a crushing truth; against such blows, or rather outbursts of savage ferocity, the inhuman contrivance of the whipping-drawers was as good as no protection at all; they would only spare me a blush, only serve to save half appearances. From my all but despairing soul there rose a silent fervent prayer for strength and mercy. My condition was now entirely changed; at the first strokes my soul entered into a new phase altogether.
The dominion of fear gave way to the dominion of corporal pain; my thoughts no longer wandered hither and thither, but became concentrated and fixed; formerly I felt only a submissive passivity, but now, under the influence of positive suffering, there is a reaction which, commencing in the body, extends to the soul.
I had left the vestibule of hell and entered hell itself; but-strange to say! I lived again, all my being was in movement. Previously I had been half dead, brooding, half stupefied, with my eyes staring before me; now I took heed of everything, I observed and heard everything, and could have jotted it all down.
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