Thursday, May 25, 2017
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PUNISHING WRITERS AND BURNING BOOKS

By Jim MacNeill

If you lived in the Middle Ages, you could be warmed by the fires of knowledge when people burned even the Bible. The following little couplet written by the English poet, Collingbourne, was dedicated to King Richard III. The king’s coat of arms featured a boar. Gatesby, Ratcliff, and Lovel were his henchmen. The couplet ran as follows:

And this was true of all transported children from 1663 to 1963. The records were falsified so that the children in later years could never track their birth parents.

“The cat, the rat, and Lovel our dog,
Rule all England under a hog.”

The king had Collingbourne hanged, but cut down before he strangled. Then his intestines and body organs were removed and thrown into a fire. Collingbourne was conscious throughout his torture, dying only when the executioner removed his heart.

A writer’s punishment was rarely that extreme. Usually bureaucrats or politicians had the writer’s hands and head locked in stocks and paraded through town. Sometimes the writer’s ears were nailed to the stocks. The townspeople often threw rotten vegetables and dead cats and rats at him. Daniel Dafoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, was punished like this; however, people loved him so, that the crowd threw flowers at him and forced the authorities to release him.

 

"Jim's Snapshot" is updated each Monday with a fresh, provocative and stimulating insight from local writer and visionary, Jim MacNeill.


 

 
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