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The Stocks

Anecdotes Home




Lord Camden once presided at a trial in which a charge was
brought against a magistrate for false imprisonment, and for putting the
plaintiff in the stocks. The counsel for the magistrate, in his reply,
said, the charges were trifling, particularly that of putting in the
stocks, which everybody knew was no punishment at all. The chief justice
rose, and leaning over the bench, said, in a half whisper, "Brother, were
you ever in the stocks?" "In the stocks, my lord! no, never." "Then I
have," said his lordship, "and I assure you, brother, it is no such trifle
as you represent." His lordship's knowledge of the stocks arose from the
following circumstance. When he was on a visit to Lord Dacre, his
brother-in-law, at Alveley in Essex, he walked out one day with a gentleman
remarkable for his absence of mind. When they had reached a hill, at some
distance from the house, his lordship sat down on the parish stocks, which
stood by the road side; and after some time, asked his companion to open
them, as he wished to know what kind of punishment it was; this being done,
the absent gentleman took a book from his pocket, and sauntered about,
until he forgot both the judge and his situation, and returned to Lord
Dacre's house. When the judge was tired of the experiment he had so rashly
made, he found himself unable to open the stocks, and asked a countryman
who passed by to assist him. "No, no, old gentleman," replied Hodge, "you
was not set there for nothing, I'll be bound!" Lord C. protested his
innocence, but in vain; the countryman walked on, and left his lordship to
meditate for some time longer in his foolish situation, until some of Lord
Dacre's servants, chancing to pass that way, released him.





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