Thursday, February 14, 2008
NOONTIME FUN, THE COMPLETE TEXT: LONDON, 1810. The disgust felt by all ranks in Society at the detestable conduct of these wretches occasioned many thousands to become spectators of their punishment. At an early hour the Old Bailey was completely blockaded, and the increase of the mob about 12 o’clock, put a stop to the business of the Sessions. The shops from Ludgate-Hill to the Haymarket were shut, and the streets lined with people, waiting to see the offenders pass . . . ¶ Shortly after twelve, the ammunition wagons from the neighbouring markets appeared in motion. These consisted on a number of carts which were driven by butcher’s boys, who had previously taken care to fill them with offal, dung, etc. from various slaughterhouses. A number of hunksters were also involved, carrying on their heads baskets of apples, potatoes, turnips, cabbage stalks and other vegetables, together with the remains of diverse dogs and cats. The whole of these were sold to the populace at a high price, who spared no expense to provide themselves with the necessary articles of assault. ¶ A number of fishwomen attended with stinking flounders and the entrails of other fish that had been in preparation for several days. These articles, however, were not for sale, as their proprietors, hearty in their cause, declared they wanted them “for their own use.” ¶ About half-past 12 the Sheriffs and the City Marshals arrived with more than 100 Constables mounted and armed with pistols, as well as 100 on foot. This force was ordered to rendezvous in the Old Bailey Yard, where a caravan, used occasionally to conveying prisoners from the jails of London to the Hulks, waited to receive the culprits. The caravan was drawn by two shaft horses, led by two men armed with a brace of pistols. The gates of the Old Bailey Yard were shut, and all strangers turned out. The miscreants were then brought out, and all placed in the caravan. They all sat upright, apparently in a composed state, but having cast their eyes upwards, the sight of the spectators on the tops of the houses operated strongly on their fears, and they soon appeared to feel terror and dismay. At the instant the church clock struck half-past twelve, the gates were thrown open. The mob at the same time attempted to force their way in, but they were repulsed. A grant sortie of the police was then made. About 60 officers, armed and mounted as before described, went forward with the City Marshals. The caravan went next, followed by about 40 officers and the Sheriffs. The first salute received by the offenders was a volley of mud, and a serenade of hisses, hooting, and execration, which compelled them to fall flat on their faces in the caravan. The mob -- and particularly the women -- had piled up balls of mud to afford the objects of their indignation a warm reception. The depots in many places appeared like pyramids of shot in a gun wharf. These were soon exhausted, and when the caravan passed the old house which once belonged to the notorious Jonathan Wild, the prisoners resembled bears dipped in a stagnant pond. The shower of mud continued during their passage to the Haymarket. Before they reached half way to the scene of their exposure, they were not discernable as human beings. If they had had much further to go, the cart would have been absolutely filled over them. The one who sat rather aloof from the rest was the landlord of the house, a fellow of a stout bulky figure, who could not stow himself away as easily as the others, who were slighter; he was therefore, as well as being known, attacked with double fury. Dead cats and dogs, offal, potatoes, turnips etc. rebounded from him on every side; while his manly appearance drew down peculiar execrations on him, and nothing but the motion of the cart prevented him from being killed on the spot. At one o’clock four of them were exalted on a new pillory made purposely for their accomodation. The remaining two, Cook and Amos, were honoured by being allowed to enjoy a triumph in the pillory alone. They were accordingly taken back in the caravan to St. Martin’s watch house. Before any of them reached the place of punishment, their faces were completely disfigured by blows and mud; and before they mounted, their whole persons appeared one heap of filth. Upwards of 50 women were permitted to stand in the ring, who assailed them incessantly with mud, dead cats, rotten eggs, potatoes, and buckets filled with blood, offal, and dung, which were brought by a number of butcher’s men from St. James Market. These criminals were very roughly handled; but as there were four of them, they did not suffer so much as a lesser number might. When the hour was expired, they were again put in the cart and conveyed to Cold Bath Fields Prison, through St. Martin’s Lane, Compton Street, and Holborn, and in their journey received similar salutes to what they met in their way from Newgate. When they were taken from the stand, the butchers’ men and the women were plentifully regaled with gin and beer, procured from a subscription made upon the spot. In a few minutes, the remaining two, Cook, (who had been the landlord) and Amos, alias Fox, were de-sired to mount. Cook held his hand to his head, and complained of the blows he had already received; and Amos made the same complaint, and showed a large brick-bat which had struck him in the face. The Under Sheriff told them that the sentence must be executed, and they reluctantly mounted. Cook said nothing; but Amos seeing the preparations they were making, declared in the most solemn manner that he was innocent; but it was vociferated from all quarters that he had been convicted before, and in one minute they appeared a complete heap of mud, and their faces were much more battered than those of the former four. Cook received several hits in the face, and he had a lump upon his eyebrow as large as an egg. Amos’s two eyes were completely closed up; and when they were untied, Cook appeared almost insensible, and it was necessary to help them both down and into the cart. Cook continued to lie upon the seat in the cart, but Amos laid down among the filth, till their entrance into Newgate sheltered the wretches from the further indignation of the most enraged populace we had ever seen. ¶ It is impossible for language to convey an adequate idea of the universal expressions of execrations which accompanied these monsters on their journey; it was fortunate for them that the weather was dry, had it been otherwise they would have been smothered. They were chained and placed in such a manner that they could not lie down in the cart, and could only hide and shelter their heads from the storm by stooping. This, however, could afford but little protection. Some of them were cut in the head and bled profusely. The streets resounded with the universal shouts of the populace.