jueves, 1 de diciembre de 2011

The Art of Ingeniously Tormenting

One requisite for approbation I confess is wanting in this work; for, alas! I fear it will contain nothing new. But what is wanting in novelty, shall be made up in utility; for, although I may not be able to show one new and untried method of plaguing, teasing, or tormenting; yet will it not be a very great help to anyone, to have all the best and most approved methods collected together, in one small pocket volume? Did I promise a new set of rules, then, whatever was not mine, might be claimed by its proper owner; and, like the jay in the fable,* I should justly be stripped of my borrowed plumes: but, as I declare myself only a humble collector, I doubt not, but everyone who has practised, or who in writing has described, an ingenious Torment, will thank me for putting it into this my curious collection.

That a love to this science is implanted in our natures, or early inculcated, is very evident, from the delight many children take in teasing and tormenting little dogs, cats, squirrels, or any other harmless animal, that they get into their power.
This love of Tormenting may be said to have one thing in common with what, some writers affirm, belongs to the true love of virtue; namely, that it is exercised for its own sake, and no other: For, can there be a clearer proof, that, for its own sake
alone, this art of Tormenting is practised, than that it never did, nor ever can, answer any other end? I know that the most expert practitioners deny this; and frequently declare, when they whip, cut, and slash the body, or when they tease, vex, and torment the mind, that ’tis done for the good of the person that suffers.

Let the vulgar believe this if they will; but I, and my good pupils, understand things better; and, while we can enjoy the high pleasure of Tormenting, it matters not what the objects of our power either feel, think, or believe.

With what contempt may we, adepts in this science, look down on the tyrants of old! On Nero, Caligula, Phalaris,* and all such paltry pretenders to our art! Their inventions ending in death, freed the sufferer from any farther Torments; or, if they extended only to broken bones, and bodily wounds, they were such as the
skill of the surgeon could rectify, or heal: But where is the hand can cure the wounds of unkindness, which our ingenious artists inflict?

The practice of tormenting the body is not now, indeed, much allowed, except in some particular countries, where slavery and ignorance subsist: but let us not, my dear countrymen, regret the loss of that trifling branch of our power, since we are at
full liberty to exercise ourselves in that much higher pleasure, the tormenting the mind. Nay, the very laws themselves, although they restrain us from being too free with our bastinado,* pay so much regard to this our strong desire of Tormenting,
that, in some instances, they give us the fairest opportunities we could wish, of legally indulging ourselves in this pleasant sport.

To make myself clearly understood, examine the case, as it stands (if I mistake not) between the debtor and creditor. If a person owes me a thousand pounds (which perhaps, too, may be my all), and has an estate of yearly that value, he may, if he
pleases, and has a mind to plague, distress, and vex me, refuse paying me my money. ‘Arrest him, then,’ cry you.—If he be not in parliament, I do.*—He gives bail; and, with my own money, works me through all the quirks of the law.—At last (if he be of
the true blood of those my best disciples, who would hang themselves to spite their neighbours) he retires into the liberties of the Fleet, or King’s Bench;* lives at his ease, and laughs at me and my family, who are starving. However, as some inconveniences attend such a proceeding, this method of plaguing a creditor is not very often practised.

But on the other hand, how can I be thankful enough to our good laws, for indulging me in the pleasure of persecuting and tormenting a man who is indebted to me, and who does not want the will, but the power, to pay me! As soon as I perceive this to be the case, I instantly throw him into jail, and there I keep him to pine away his life in want and misery.—How will my pleasure be increased, if he should be a
man in any business or profession! For I then rob him of all probable means of escaping my power. It may be objected, perhaps, that in this last instance I act imprudently; that I defeat my own ends, and am myself the means of my losing my whole
money.—How ignorant of the true joys of Tormenting is such an objector! You mistake greatly, my friend, if you think I defeat my own ends;—for my ends are to plague and torment, not only a fellow creature but a fellow Christian.—And are there not
instances enough of this kind of practice, to make us fairly suppose, that the value of one thousand, or ten thousand pounds, is nothing, compared to the excessive delight of Tormenting?

But let me raise this joyous picture a little higher.—Must not my sport be doubled and trebled by the consideration, that his children are starving; that his wife is in the same condition, oppressed also with unspeakable anguish for not being able to
give her helpless infants any relief?—Suppose, too, that the husband, with the reflection of all this, and his own incapacity to help them, should be driven to distraction! Would not this exceed the most malicious transports of revenge ever exercised by an ancient or modern tyrant?

If there are some odd sort of people, who have no great relish for this kind of pleasure,* which I have here attempted to describe; yet let them not hastily condemn it, as unnatural: for I appeal to the experience of mankind; and ask—whether there is anyone who has not heard of, at least, one instance of distress, near as
high as the scene before described? And that the love of Tormenting must have been the sole motive to a creditor’s acting in such a manner, when his debtor could not pay him, is evident, from the impossibility of reasonably assigning any other cause.
One strong objection, I know, will be made against my whole design, by people of weak consciences; which is, that every rule I shall lay down will be exactly opposite to the doctrine of Christianity. Greatly, indeed, in a Christian country, should I fear the force of such an objection, could I perceive, that any one vice
was refrained from on that account only. Both theft and murder are forbidden by God himself: yet can anyone say, that our lives and properties would be in the least secure, were it not for the penal laws of our country?

Who is there, that having received a blow on one cheek, will turn the other,* while revenge can be had from the law of assault and battery? Are there any who exercise the virtues of patience and forgiveness, if they can have legal means of punishing the aggressor, and revenging themselves tenfold on the person who gives them the most slight offence?

Innumerable are the instances that could be given to show, that the doctrine of the Gospel has very little influence upon the practice of its followers; unless it be on a few obscure people, that nobody knows. The foregoing formidable objection, therefore, we hope, is pretty well got over, except with the obscure few abovementioned.

But as I would willingly remove every the least shadow of an objection that I am acquainted with, I must take notice of one which was made by a person very zealous indeed for our cause; but who feared, he said, that people would not bear publicly to
avow their love of Tormenting, and their disregard of that very religion which they profess. This, at first, almost staggered me,and I was going to throw by my work, till I recollected several books (some too written by divines*) that had been extremely wellreceived, although they struck at the very foundation of our
religion. These precedents are surely sufficient to make me depend upon coming off with impunity, let me publish what I will, except a libel against any great man. For to abuse Christ himself is not, at present, esteemed so high an offence, as to
abuse one of his followers; or, rather, one of his Abusers; for such may we term all those, who, without observing his laws, call themselves after his name.

It has been already observed, that the torments of the body are not much allowed in civilized nations: but yet, under the notion of punishments for faults, such as whipping and picketing* amongst the soldiers; with some sorts of curious marine discipline, as the cat-of-nine-tails, keelhauling,* and the like; a man may
pick out some excellent fun; for if he will now and then inflictthose punishments on the good, which were intended for the chastisement and amendment of the bad, he will not only work the flesh, but vex the spirit, of an ingenious youth; as nothing can
be more grating to a liberal mind, than to be so unworthily treated.

If I should be so happy, my good pupils, by these my hearty endeavours, as to instruct you thoroughly in the ingenious art of plaguing and tormenting the mind, you will have also more power over the body than you are at first aware of. You may take the Jew’s forfeit of a pound of flesh,* without incurring the imputation of barbarity which was cast on him for that diverting joke. He was a mere mongrel at Tormenting, to think of cutting it off with a knife; no—your true delicate way is to waste it off by degrees.—For has not every creditor (by the pleasant assistance
of a prison) the legal power of taking ten or twenty pounds of Christian flesh, in forfeit of his bond?

However, without such violent measures, you may have frequent opportunities (by teasing and tormenting) of getting out of your friends a good pretty picking.* But be very careful daily to observe, whether your patient continues in good health, and is fat and well-liken:* if so, you may be almost certain, that your whole labour is thrown away. As soon, therefore, as you perceive this to be the case, you must (to speak in the phrase of surgeons, when they hack and hew a human body) immediately choose another Subject.

Jane Collier
An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting

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