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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/672

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to the two milder grades, the other two being reserved for men accused of atrocious crimes.

Then comes a minute and intricate code of procedure for those very common and puzzling cases when the sufferer pleads guilty under torture, but reasserts his innocence after it, declaring that the pain irresistibly drove him to make a false confession to obtain a brief respite. In such cases the judge is forbidden to "put him to the question" anew till he has certified the conflicting statements to a higher court, and received new orders to proceed. But the good empress commands that "beyond three times shall no one be tortured; but he who endures it three times without confession, or who has each time recanted his confession, shall be set at liberty, because he is sufficiently cleansed from the accusations by the martyrdom endured. And the martyr can not say that injustice was done him, for the judge has the evidence to justify his action," etc.

The four grades are then defined, the first being the thumbscrew (polletrum, Daumstöcke). Two separate forms are pictured by life-size scale drawings; one sort was legal in Austria and one in Bohemia. It is a strong little vise, seven inches long, of two flat iron bars connected by screw bolts. The thumbs are to be inserted to the first joint, and the inner surfaces are armed with toothlike points. While the questions are asked one servant helps hold the vise and turn the nuts with a wrench or key, while another clasps the victim tight around the body to prevent contortions. A third may or may not be employed to increase the pain by hammering on the vise.

The picture of this scene is very effectively drawn. The conflict of stubborn wills between the roaring victim and the ironhearted bailiffs is fearful to witness. The judge is in no hurry; he gives the wrench an additional turn now and then till the very bones are crushed, and the clerk can triumphantly write down the confession of guilt.

The second grade, which is now seldom heard of, was the cord (fidicula). Its exact size and use are fully pictured. The arms of the accused are stretched forward with the palms together. A strong rope, like sash-cord, is looped upon the wrist, then wound tightly round both arms to the elbows, cutting deep into the flesh and tending to break the elbow joints. This was regarded more terrible than the thumb stocks. This was the Bohemian method; but another form was prescribed for Austria equally effective and ingenious.

The famous rack, which comprised the third grade, was of great utility in the "discovery of the truth." It was called equuleus, or little horse, by the Austrian as well as the Roman jurists. Four full-page engravings depict the exact form, size, mechani-