Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/37

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17
THE ELIZABETHAN CHARACTER

the stake." Finally, such as having walls or banks near the sea, and do suffer the same to decay (after convenient admonition), whereby the water entereth and drowneth up the country, are, by a certain ancient custom, apprehended, condemned, and staked in the breech, where they remain forever as parcel of the foundation of the new wall that is to be made upon them." (Harrison, p. 245.)

Thus, though there was no torture in the characteristic sense of the word, crimes, great and small alike, were requited by death, inflicted in the most brutal manner. There were, however, lighter punishments quite as savage. Rogues and vagabonds often lost one or both of their ears; the letter P was burnt into the forehead of perjurers, who also had to stand in the pillory. The pillory and stocks were to be found in every village throughout the kingdom, and were frequently used on market days as punishment for disorderly conduct. Kent was put in the stocks for beating Osric; had he done so in Stratford-on-Avon in Shakespeare's time he would have met with the same punishment. The "cucking" stool was equally a part of the equipment of every village and town. Scolding women were always ducked in order to sweeten their tempers.

Whipping was one of the commonest punish-