Monday, 15 April 2013

Released from the Jaws of Death

A gruesome account describes the suffering experienced by those who are hanged.  John Smith was hanged at Tyburn on 25 December 1705, but he did not die, and after fifteen minutes the crowd shouted for him to be cut down. He was taken to a house of safety where he shortly recovered, and he was able to describe everything.  This is what he said, and no doubt others have endured the same, although few survive to tell the tale.

His language, taken from an old newspaper, sounds a little strange to our modern ears, but I think you will get the picture!

"When I was turned off I was, for some time, sensible of a very great pain occasioned by the weight of my body and felt my spirits in strange commotion, violently pressing upwards. Having forced their way to my head, I saw a great blaze of glaring light that seemed to go out of my eyes in a flash, and then I lost all sense of pain. After I was cut down, I began to come to myself and the blood and spirits forcing themselves into their former channels put me by a prickling or shooting into such intolerable pain that I could have wished those hanged who had cut me down."

Cameron, Janet, Murder and Crime in Medway, Tempus Publishing, 2008.

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