The Romance of Chastisement

The Romance of Chastisement

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Something About Thanksgiving

When I think of Thanksgiving I think of turkeys and stuffing and all that, but I also think of Puritans in wide funny hats with big buckles on them (query--what do the buckles do?) When I think of Puritans in funny hats I think of witches and town stocks and stern punishments and when I think of town stocks and punishments I think of birching and flogging. It's just the way my brain operates.

I got this story from Usenet. The author is identified as one Sam Brannan. It was a mess (sorry, Sam), so I've edited and reworked it, but essentially it's a scene in a seventeenth century Puritan village, presumably somewhere in New England.

                                                                    THE PILLORY 

  A hush quickly fell over the assembled villagers, and all eyes focused on the pillories in the town square as the women were led out.   To many young women this preparation for the punishment was the worst part of the sentence.  The shame and embarrassment at having this done as they looked out on relatives, friends, and neighbors was nearly unbearable. 

  Then they were locked in the pillories and the baring began. Constable Morgan prepared the woman at the right first.  A fair young woman, tall, with light brown hair, she bowed her head as much as the barred yoke in which her neck was locked would allow so as not to look at the group before her.  But the Constable was not to permit this.

  "Head up, please, Mistress", he said, "Look to your neighbors."  The young woman slowly raised her head, her pretty face blushing red as she saw her husband and family directly in front of her.  Part of the discipline was to have the parishioners, family, and friends and neighbors, witness punishment.  In back the Constable now began the dreadful process the women hated so badly.  Reaching to the young woman's feet, he took hold of the hem of her dress and began lifting it upward all the way to the small of her back, exposing her long white cotton underwear. 
The stocks into which the woman had been placed were such that her backside protruded outward with her back slightly arched, so that the dress stayed up where it had been placed.  Slowly he then untied the strings of her underwear at her waist.  The woman's face blushed even redder now and she let out a low moan as the drawers were slid downward over her wide hips, buttocks, and legs to come to rest at her ankles.  

Stepping back, the Constable looked upon the young woman he had just stripped.  Wide hips curved nicely to long shapely legs.  Round firm buttocks protruded backwards towards him, the mounds quivering as the woman nervously shifted from foot to foot. He saw how fair the woman's skin was, how delicate and smooth, and he knew she would suffer immensely.

  "And now, Goodwife, you are about to see what it is like to have your bare bottom put under the birch!" he said as he walked away.

 The woman cringed, thinking of the pain she would soon suffer and the embarrassment at having these men, her husband included, see her take a hard switching on the bare!  The man now stepped to the left behind a young maiden of no more that 18 years.  A slim girl, she too tried to look away from the crowd as the Constable approached and had to be reminded to look straight ahead into the snicker of her younger brother who stood with her parents.  She blushed beet red as her dress was lifted and drawers pulled down.  This tall girl had long slim legs that ran to a tight upturned little backside. 

  "A good spanking on this tight little bottom will teach you to behave, Miss," said the Constable, placing a sharp pat or two on the girl’s rump. 
 The last set of stocks held an older woman, mature, certainly early 40s.  In front of her stood her daughter and her daughter's husband, and her two sons.  She had tears in her eyes from the shame and the fear of what was to be done as the Constable raised her dress in back.  Wide matronly hips and stocky legs met at a large well fleshed behind whose cheeks vibrated from the motion of her drawers being stripped down.  

"Mary, you should be ashamed of yourself", he said lowly. 

 "Ohhhh", the woman moaned softly, shifting her weight from foot to foot, not realizing that in doing so her fleshy buttocks rolled for the men's view.  How long had it been since last she had been spanked?  Many, many years … but still she remembered well the loud smack as her late husband's strap connected.  Then the pain … the sting ... the fire consuming the backside.  "O please, constable," she pleaded, "I don't want to be whipped!"
Now the man stood in front of the three stocks and addressed the onlookers:  "We are met here this day to discipline these three women, our sisters who have sinned.”
 He produced a scroll and read from it, an account of offenses committed against the commonweal. Gossip, delinquency, and slander were among the charges.

 “While hidden from your eyes, each of them stands now with her buttocks and legs bare,” he continued. “The sentence of the Elders was that each would receive a sound dose of the birch rod or the strap at my discretion until her buttocks are well spanked so as to make her unable to sit for some time thereafter.” 

A low chuckle broke out from the assembled group upon hearing this. A public spanking was not as severe as some village punishments, but it was certainly humiliating, all could attest to that.

 “Is there anyone here who knows of any reason why this sentence should not be carried out?"  (Silence from the group as the Constable looked across).  "Very well then", he continued, "The head of the household of each of these women will please step back behind the stocks to witness punishment." 
"No. Please, sir constable," came a soft plea from the Matron as her eldest son, along with the girl's father and the woman's husband, stepped forward.  All three women bore expressions of anguish as the men walked around the side of their line to bring into view their bared rear ends.   Then, to complete the embarrassment for the errant women, the Constable called foreword three of his deputies. 

 Wide eyed, the three women, each now with tears rolling down her face, stared hard at the implement each carried in his hand.  The wife and the matron would get the birch rod, a thin bundle of three long switches tied with twine at one end and splaying out in a narrow fan pattern at the other. The women knew well the terrible sting and burn these rods could produce!  Each knew she would not be sitting that evening!  The young miss quailed in fear at the sight of the wide strap in her deputy’s hand. It would burn like fire. 

The Constable watched closely as each of his deputies took a position to the left and rear of the pilloried women.  From the front, the assembled villagers saw each of the women flinch as her buttocks were touched lightly with rod or strap
The Constable walked to the right front of the platform gave the order. "Deputies, do your duty. Three dozen, well laid on." 

 "NO … Please, no," cried the wife near the Constable. 
"Ahhh, no," moaned the older woman as she tightened her fists.
 “Ohhh,” came a long exhale of air from the girl as she too braced for the flogging.
 Almost immediately the loud and crisp WHACK of the strap against soft female flesh was heard.  A loud cry of pain came from the young girl while the other two took the first swish of the birch in near silence, the older woman letting out a low moan.
 It has been so very long since I felt punishment, she thought as she tried to brace herself for the blows. 

"Slowly now, men," the Constable said, "Make each one felt." 

At different intervals now there arose a near constant sound --  the whine of the birch and the crack of the strap against bare flesh mingled with cries, moans, pleas and sobs from each of the women being disciplined.  The assembly bore witness to the humiliating correction, observing each face contort and brace from the pain, observing the tears running down the woman's faces, hearing the anguished cries. 
In back, the family witnesses clearly saw plump female bottom cheeks ripple, jerk, vibrate, and shake as the birch rods and the strap spanked them.  Once white seats reddened under the steady barrage of strokes.  That it hurt was obvious to all watching.  In front, heads and hair shook from side to side. Fists tightened and opened as the women tried to bear up to the pain.  In back, feet began to dance on the boards of the platform.

  "Lay on well, men", ordered the Constable, "Make them feel it; do your duty." 

The deputies obeyed, drawing back and delivering carefully measured strokes that impacted the buttocks of the three penitents. The rods swished down in a blur and the strap smacked bare flesh with a loud retort.

 "Please… oh please..oh please…NO", cried the wife as the sting in her buttocks became unbearable. The birch switches felt like hot brands. It was a whipping like none other she’d ever endured. Each stroke produced an unbearable sting that spread from the crowns of her buttocks to the top of her head, washing over her in a wave of agony.

"OH..Dear God (sob)..My poor..(sob)..poor hiney," cried the older matron. The flogging was worse than any she’d ever received.

“Ow! Yow! Ow! Yow!” The young girl took her spanking with the strap with squeals, sobs and expulsions of air. Each sharp lick pushed her forward in the yoke chafing her neck. Her bottom felt seared as if she had backed naked into the family’s cooking fire.

 A member of the Parish in the audience asked aloud if anyone had been counting.  "Twenty four strokes so far for Goodwife Atkins", came an answer from a young man.  "Twenty-six for the other two", came a second reply.  "Oh my, oh my" whispered a young woman to her husband, "That must be terrible painful!"
  "It is like the fires of hell licking at your seat," replied one who knew as she softly put hands over the back of her dress. 

 It was clear to all the three women were suffering terribly.  That they were in a great deal of pain was obvious.  The viewers in front saw faces contorted, hands opening and shutting, heads shaking from side to side, and the streams of tears running down red faces.  And, of course, each time the switches or strap smacked across a bare fanny of one she yelled like a banshee.  

The older matron fared no better. "Please..(sob) oh please..(so) NO.MORE..(sob)..NO MORE", she cried as the punishment continued. It had been many years since last she had had a whipping like this and it was indeed horrible!  

The young wife on the far right was also suffering as she had never done before!  Dancing up and down, her feet tapping out a lurid jig, her full bottom cheeks bobbed with each step of her dance and then compressed and jerked with each stinging swish of the birch rod across their rounded surfaces.

The young miss burst into tears. “No more! Please stop! I’m sorry!”

The matron’s flogging finished first. A few seconds later the young wife received her 36th searing stroke. A final smack of the strap signaled the end of the young girl’s punishment.
The constable nodded. “Well, done, men. Please lower their dresses.” The deputies dropped the instruments of fustigation to do his bidding. Modesty was restored. He stood in front of the stocks and addressed the penitents. “You will remain in the stocks for one hour,” he said, knowing that they would have to endure the hot throbbing in their scorched buttocks without relief.

Then he addressed the crowd. “Justice has been done this day.”

 Then he added, “Well, that's that. The turkey dinner will now be served in the town hall.”

[Of course he didn’t say that, but hell, it is Thanksgiving and it seems to me that a Puritan village would get the punishing out of the way before supper was served.]

Art by Paula Russell


sixofthebest said...

Yes, the Puritans loved to spank their naughty women, for various reasons. For being a naughty wife, for not going to church, for stealing, for adultery, for swearing. So many a woman's naked rear end came into play, when they were sentenced to the pillory and their flogged on their bare bottoms. 25 lashes with a leather whip, met their naked rear ends, most painfully.

John said...

The birching on the pillory was commonly used in England to punish prostitutes. The women tied to the cart were being "beaten at the arse of the cart", a common punishment for theft & minor offences.

Hardwood52 said...

Held my attention to the bitter end. Your second art work: Paula's
drawing of three women about to be whipped by a Puritan constable, has naught to do with domestic offenses against the commonwealth. The ladies there portrayed are Friends (Quakers), about to be whipped in each of several townships, merely for practicing their religion. Whittier's "How The Women Went From Dover" tells the story best; Paula Meadows drew this picture to illustrate the poem.