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NOTES to Chapter XV.
Character of Hertford.
The young King discovered an extreme attachment to his uncle, who was, in the main, a man of moderation and probity. - Hume's History of England, vol. iii.p324.
But if he (the Protector) gave offence by assuming too much state, he deserves great praise on account of the laws passed this session, by which the rigour of former statutes was much mitigated, and some security given to the freedom of the constitution. All laws were repealed which extended the crime of treason beyond the statute of the twenty-fifth of Edward III.; all laws enacted during the late reign extending the crime of felony; all the former laws against Lollardy or heresy, together with the statute of the Six Articles. None were to be accused for words, but within a month after they were spoken. By these repeals several of the most rigorous laws that ever had passed in England were annulled; and some dawn, both of civil and religious liberty, began to appear to the people. A repeal also passed of that law, the destruction of all laws, by which the King's proclamation was made of equal force with a statute. - Ibid. vol. iii. p. 339.
Boiling to Death.
In the reign of Henry VIII. poisoners were, by Act of Parliament, condemned to be BOILED TO DEATH. This Act was repealed in the following reign.
In Germany, even in the seventeenth century, this horrible punishment was inflicted on coiners and counterfeiters. Taylor, the Water Poet, describes an execution he witnessed in Hamburg in 1616. The judgment pronounced against a coiner of false money was that he should 'BE BOILED TO DEATH IN OIL; not thrown into the vessel at once, but with a pulley or rope to be hanged under the armpits, and then let down into the oil BY DEGREES; first the feet, and next the legs, and so to boil his flesh from his bones alive.' - Dr. J. Hammond Trumbull's Blue Laws, True and False, p. 13.
The Famous Stocking Case.
A woman and her daughter, NINE YEARS OLD, were hanged in Huntingdon for selling their souls to the devil, and raising a storm by pulling off their stockings! - Dr. J. Hammond Trumbull's Blue Laws, True and False, p. 20.
NOTE 10, Chapter XVII. Enslaving.
So young a King and so ignorant a peasant were likely to make mistakes; and this is an instance in point. This peasant was suffering from this law BY ANTICIPATION; the King was venting his indignation against a law which was not yet in existence; for this hideous statute was to have birth in this little King's OWN REIGN. However, we know, from the humanity of his character, that it could never have been suggested by him.
Turn to the next chapter: NOTES to Chapter XXIII. Death for Trifling Larcenies.