A riddle from Merrye Olde England:
10 tongues in one head,
9 living and one dead,
I flew forth to fetch some bread,
To feed the living and the dead.
The answer -- "The tomtit [bird] that built [a nest] in Tommy Otter's head." (Mr. Otter was hanged in chains.) From Hanging in Chains.
Google has endeared itself to many by embarking on an effort to digitize some very old books. Your correspondent recently had a chance to peruse the collection to see what is on offer in the vein of historic crime and found some remarkable books already fully digitized and available for free.
So far, the gem of the Google crime collection is Hanging in Chains, a book by Albert Hartshorne published in 1891. The book details severe punishments through time and cultures, covering everything from the disposal of murderers in ancient Egypt all the way up through various European manifestations of severe punishments like gibbeting or hanging in chains -- a punishment not solely reserved for pirates, and one used until well into the nineteenth century. Until Google digitized the book, you'd be hard-pressed to find a copy for less than a hundred bucks. Now it's free.
I can hardly believe our collective luck at having these amazing old books, all of them out of print for generations, free, online, and text-searchable. Wow. Enjoy!
- A copy of the Newgate Calendar, this one an 1824 edition.
- From 1826, a copy of A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, with Notes and Other Illustrations.
- From 1827: A copy of Rationale of judicial evidence, specially applied to English practice, from the MSS. of Jeremy Bentham [ed. by J.S. Mill].
- From 1860: A copy of Involuntary Confessions; A monograph by Francis Wharton.
- From 1872: A copy of Traditions, Superstitions, and Folklore (chiefly Lancashire and the North of England) by Charles Hardwick.
- From 1896: A copy of The Collected Writings of Thomas De Quincey.
- From 1898: A copy of Mysteries of Police and Crime: A General Survey of Wrongdoing and Its Pursuit by Arthur Griffiths.
"Where-as before time there was extraordinary torture, as hanging wilfull murderers alive in chaines; she having compassion... said their death satisfied for death."
--Chettle, on the mercy of Queen Elizabeth, in Hanging in Chains