Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/307

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In the proceedings of the Inquisition torture was so universal a resource in cases of doubt, that its use for the diagnosis of insanity need not be a matter of surprise. On October 13th it was duly applied. Benito was brought in and told that if he would not confess the truth he would be tortured, to which he replied quietly and earnestly that he had told the truth and was not mad; he had acted only as a faithful Christian and at the command of the Eternal Father. In the administration of torture the nerve of the patient was tested at every step with adjurations to tell the truth and with promises of mercy—lying promises, for confession would only secure the boon of being garroted before burning. So in this case, at the making out of the sentence of torture, its formal signing, the adjournment to the torture chamber, the stripping of the prisoner, the tying him to the banquillo or trestle, the adjusting of the cordeles or sharp cords around each thigh and each upper arm—at every stage he was entreated affectionately (con mucho amor) to tell the truth and save his soul. Benito's resolution was immovable; to every adjuration his reply was the same—he had told the truth, and the inquisitors were demons. Then the torture began, scientifically graduated, and at every interval came the adjuration and the response. First a single cord around each member, successively tightened and twisted into the flesh, then another and another, until there were six on each limb and the blood was dripping from them all—in spite of the universal rule that torture was never to be carried so far as to cause effusion of blood. The official report of the examination minutely records his shrieks and groans and writhings, his fruitless prayer for water, his despairing appeals to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, his cries that he is dying, and through it all his unvarying response that he had told the truth and that the inquisitors were demons an assertion which he once offered to prove if they would give him a Bible. When the capacity of the cordeles to inflict increased torment was exhausted he was threatened with the rack, but to no purpose. It was made ready and he was stretched on it, but this augmentation of agony was fruitless. His resolution was unconquerable, and at last his wearied judges ordered him to be untied, still threatening him with a continuation of the infliction if he would not tell the truth. Exhausted nature could do no more; with a final ejaculation that he had told the truth, for they were demons, he sank motionless and remained silent.

For three unbroken hours the torture had lasted, and the inquisitors said that it was too late for more that day, so they suspended it, warning him that they were not satisfied, and that it would be resumed if he did not tell the truth. He was carried back to his cell, and two days later was brought before the tribunal again. Even in the pitiless secular criminal legislation of the