BIRCHING

Foreigners in the past were amazed by the English addiction to flagellation. Mrs. Colet ran a famous whipping establishment (established about 1766) in Convent Garden for example and Mrs. Berkely (died in 1836) had one in Charlotte Street. The latter even designed the Berkley Horse (in 1828), an apparatus to flog gentlemen upon. [.] Her instruments of torture were more numerous than those of any other Governess. Her supply of birch was extensive, and kept in water, so that it was always green and pliant: she had shafts with a dozen whip thongs on each of them; a dozen different sizes of cat-o’-nine-tails, some with needle points worked into them; various kinds of thin bending canes; leather straps like coach traces; battledoors, made of thick sole-leather, with inch nails run through to docket, and currycomb tough hides rendered callous by many years flagellation. Holly brushes, furze brushes; a prickly evergreen, called butcher’s bush; and during the summer, a glass and China vases, filled with a constant supply of green nettles, with which she often restored the dead to life. Thus, at her shop, whoever went with plenty of money, could be birched, whipped, fustigated, scourged, needle-pricked, half-hung, holly-brushed, furze-brushed, butcher-brushed, stinging-nettled, curry-combed, phlebotomized, and tortured.

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