Sunday, January 30, 2011

Flower Study (vanitas) 1/30/11

On weight:

Kym Hepworth, detail, the weight of flowers

Kym Hepworth, more weight

pressed to death: Giles Cory and the Salem Witch Trials, 1692:
"Immediately after the second set of trials an event occurred that was as shocking as anything that had happened during the whole of the witch-hunt. Giles Cory, who had testified against his wife Martha in March and soon afterward had been arrested and examined himself, refused to be tried. He was known for his eccentricity and stubbornness, and his attitude now was fully in character. He claimed that he was innocent but that if he went to trial the same witnesses would be brought against him as at his examination and he was bound to be found guilty. He justly pointed out that no one tried by the Court of Oyer and Terminer had ever been let off. He "rather chose to undergo what death they would put him to," he declared. . . . Sheer disinclination to continue to cooperate with a system that had tricked him into helping hang his own wife may well have been motive enough for his stubbornness.

When Cory was taken to court, either with Martha and others on September 9 or with Ann Foster and the rest on September 17, he would not speak but stood mute at the bar. On September 19 he was taken to some open space, very possibly a field near the courthouse, and made to lie on the ground while rocks were heaped on his chest. The procedure was an old English method of dealing with prisoners who refused to plead. The purpose was to force the word "guilty" or "innocent" out of them.

It must have taken him hours to die. His ribs had to crack before the breath could be squeezed from his lungs. Toward the end Cory's tongue was pressed out of his mouth and the sheriff pushed it back in again with the end of his cane. The rumor has come down through the centuries that the only words Cory would utter were "More weight, more weight." The tradition persisted into the nineteenth century that Cory's ghost walked near the spot where he died. . . . "

(source for quote: A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials by Frances Hill; introduction by Karen Armstrong, published by Da Capo Press, New York, © 1995, 1997)

Kym Hepworth, graves, (detail of a Graves B'ham Ala brick/Graves Brick Company, Birmingham, Alabama)

19th century photograph of flowers on a grave from my collection


The Cure - Fire in Cairo
(watching and thinking of Egypt)

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