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In old times, a woman who was convicted of being a common mischief-maker
and scold, was sentenced to the punishment of the ducking-stool; which
consisted of a sort of chair fastened to a pole, in which she was seated
and repeatedly let down into the water, amid the shouts of the rabble.
At Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a woman convicted of the same offence was led
about the streets by the hangman, with an instrument of iron bars fitted
on her head, like a helmet. A piece of sharp iron entered the mouth, and
severely pricked the tongue whenever the culprit attempted to move it.
A great deal of vice prevails in England, among the very fashionable,
and the very low classes. Misconduct and divorces are not unfrequent
among the former, because their mode of life corrupts their principles,
and they deem themselves above the jurisdiction of popular opinion; the
latter feel as if they were beneath the influence of public censure, and
find it very difficult to be virtuous, on account of extreme poverty,
and the consequent obstructions in the way of marriage. But the general
character of English women is modest, reserved, sincere, and dignified.
They have strong passions and affections, which often develope
themselves in the most beautiful forms of domestic life. They are in
general remarkable for a healthy appearance, and an exquisite bloom of
complexion. Perhaps the world does not present a lovelier or more
graceful picture than the English home of a virtuous family.
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