~From Danse des Morts, Todten-Tanz, 1744~
~From the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) of 1487~
This is an excerpt from the text Malleus Maleficarum, which is considered to be the “handbook” for the persecution of witches used by male perpetrators of the misogynistic and bloodthirsty attempted extirpation that took place during the 16th and 17th centuries. Continue reading
Ex libris, or bookplates, are placards inscribed with the name of a tome’s owner and affixed to the inside of its cover. Ex libris establish some amount of provenance — a clue into the history of a book’s possession. The art decorating bookplates is often heraldic, fantastic, ornate, and gorgeous. This collection is comprised mostly of plates created in Europe during the 17th & 18th centuries.
This inconspicuous looking text was the impetus behind a rash of suicides in the late 18th century. Written by Goethe, this epistolary novel followed the sorrows of a young man whose true love is betrothed to another. The book accounts the man’s decent into depression and ultimately suicide.
The Scold’s Bridle, also known as “branks,” was a piece of equipment used to punish and oppress women in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds. The bridle was made of an iron frame that encased the head of the victim. At the front of this contraption, a bridle “bit” piece extended into the mouth, holding down the tongue with a spiked plate, rendering the victim mute. In effect, a scold’s bridle was a muzzle used on human females.
What type of crimes deserved such a punishment? Women were bridled for being “gossips,” “scolds,” “riotous,” “troublesome,” and even on suspicion of witchcraft.
~The First Stage of Cruelty ~
“While various Scenes of sportive Woe,
The Infant Race employ,
And tortur’d Victims bleeding shew,
The Tyrant in the Boy.
Behold! a Youth of gentler Heart,
To spare the Creature’s pain,
O take, he cries—take all my Tart,
But Tears and Tart are vain.
Learn from this fair Example—You
Whom savage Sports delight,
How Cruelty disgusts the view,
While Pity charms the sight.
~The Second Stage of Cruelty ~
“The generous Steed in hoary Age,
Subdu’d by Labour lies;
And mourns a cruel Master’s rage,
While Nature Strength denies.
The tender Lamb o’er drove and faint,
Amidst expiring Throws;
Bleats forth it’s innocent complaint
And dies beneath the Blows.
Inhuman Wretch! say whence proceeds
This coward Cruelty?
What Int’rest springs from barb’rous deeds?
What Joy from Misery?”
My mistress has been the best of women to me, and my conscience flies in my face as often as I think of wronging her; yet I am resolved to venture body and soul to do as you would have me, so do not fail to meet me as you said you would, for I will bring along with me all the things I can lay my hands on. So no more at present; but I remain yours till death.
~ The Third Stage of Cruelty ~
Cruelty in perfection
“To lawless Love when once betray’d.
Soon Crime to Crime succeeds:
At length beguil’d to Theft, the Maid
By her Beguiler bleeds.
Yet learn, seducing Man! nor Night,
With all its sable Cloud,
can screen the guilty Deed from sight;
Foul Murder cries aloud.
The gaping Wounds and bloodstain’d steel,
Now shock his trembling Soul:
But Oh! what Pangs his Breast must feel,
When Death his Knell shall toll.”
~ The Fourth Stage of Cruelty ~
The Reward of Cruelty
“Behold the Villain’s dire disgrace!
Not Death itself can end.
He finds no peaceful Burial-Place,
His breathless Corse, no friend.
Torn from the Root, that wicked Tongue,
Which daily swore and curst!
Those Eyeballs from their Sockets wrung,
That glow’d with lawless Lust!
His Heart expos’d to prying Eyes,
To Pity has no claim;
But, dreadful! from his Bones shall rise,
His Monument of Shame.”
I wish it had never been painted. There is indeed great skill in the grouping, and profound knowledge of character; but the whole effect is gross, brutal and revolting. A savage boy grows into a savage man, and concludes a career of cruelty and outrage by an atrocious murder, for which he is hanged and dissected.” ~ Allan Cunningham on The Four Stages of Cruelty.