The Stocks





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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