Online Introduction to the
HISTORY OF FLAGELLATION
AMONG DIFFERENT NATIONS.
This book is an attempt to protest the universal practice of interpersonal violence as a method of correction and the belief that the proper vehicle used for individual improvement must involve fear and pain.
The author is anonymous, and the publishing house was called the Medical Publishing Company, based in New York. Its other books are reprints, or new writings, that attempt to publicize and hopefully address long-standing social evils that were never discussed in the usual public forums. For example, one of the other books on their list of publications was The History of Prostitution, by Dr. William W. Sanger..
There is no other information about the author except what is in his anonymous Preface. The book had been published privately many years before, according to the Publisher's Preface but no mention of the date is given. This small detail from the book they had in hand and reproduced could have been more precise. It would have been helpful to mention if the illustrations were added by them for this edition, or had been included in the original..
The Publishers also imply incorrectly that Boileau and John de Lolme are one and the same. In fact, Jean Louis de l’Olme paraphrased and wrote a commentary on Boileau’s book. In addition, almost all of the material is taken directly from L’Olme, whose book is online in its second edition, coyly called Memorials of Human Superstition: Paraphrases and Commentary on the HISTOR1A FLAGELLANTIUM of the Abbe Boileau, Doctor of the Sorbonne, Canon of the Holy Chapel, &c., By One who is not Doctor of the Sorbonne; London: G. Robinson, 1884. The first edition had the title of The History of the Flagellants. The Advantages of Discipline: being a paraphrase and commentary on the Historia flagellantium of the Abbe Boileau, doctor of the Sorbonne, in 1777, but that was too racy for the 1800's, and that page was cut the second time around.
Most of the sources used for passages are properly credited but some aren't. One however has always been anonymous and that is the Anecdote about Captain St. Loe and his experience visiting Boston in 1738. The source Boileau or L’Olme used is not mentioned. The story is so good that it appeared many years later in a Naval Biography; Or, The History And Lives Of Distinguished Characters In The British Navy, From The Earliest Period Of History To The Present Time. Illustrated With Elegant Portraits, Engraved By Eminent Artists, by Edward Harding, London: Printed for John Scott, 1805. That version was borrowed again and included by Boger in her book. In her version of the event, it seems that Captain St. Loe was captain of the Ludlow Castle which wintered in Boston in 1728. His wife was with him on that trip. This detail is not included in the present text. There are other minor variations from the one in this book, and it can be read in Myths, Scenes and Worthies of Somerset, by Charlotte Boger, published in London, by George Redway in 1887, beginning on page 608.
The Historia Flagellantium by Boileau is extremely rare. It was also banned by Pope Urban VIII. According to one copy of the Index, it was first printed in 1690, under the pseudonym of Claudius Fontejus. The page of this copy of the Index of Prohibited Books is online. This is the only place this year and that pseudonym are mentioned. All other internet references only mention the edition that was printed in 1700 in Paris. No mention of two separate editions can be found anywhere. Whether you decide to trust in the accuracy of the Papal publications or in other people's bibliographic notes for the date of its first appearance must be a personal preference at this point. This work of Boileau's is so uncommon, and references to him so scanty online, that the Introduction by L’Olme is the best source of his life and work available online in English.
The anonymous author of the present text has a different purpose: he extracts the passages from Boileau and L’Olme that support his belief in the cruelty of flaying hides. It is also much shorter than the other two works. His commentary too, is sparse and overtly mild, leaving it to the historical accounts to provide the evidence. It is inescapably demonstrated that those who are pro-whip, are always the ones that are on the right end of the rod — or hope to be as soon as possible.
The pictures in the text were added for this addition and are not in the L’Olme, except for the engraving of Henry II. receiving his lashes for the death of Thomas à Becket. Most could not have been in Boileau either, because they were all made in the following two centuries. The attached captions often add much interesting information that is newly written.
Whether the pictures were included in the privately printed edition of the current text, too, or whether the publishers of the reprint added them is impossible to determine.
Until the Latin text of Boileau is more freely available, the accuracy of the translation by L’Olme, or the fairness of his comments can not be assessed.
In the goal of bringing to the forefront such brutality, the author chose the safest route: he/she let history do the talking. With very minimal commentary, Anon deftly strings together examples and incidents of flagellation from the works of historians and other writers of many ages, from the earlier works. The restraint from editorializing is undoubtedly intentional, to avoid verbal floggings from critics and being labeled as a zealot. Necessary, too, when zealously beating anyone who couldn't fight back was more widely accepted in that time. Although today in 21 states in the United States of America, children in schools were still getting beaten in school, which was euphemistically called “paddling,”
The subtle but definite proof that this is a work against beating people up is easy to figure out as you keep reading. The stories that are funny, included to “amuse” the reader, would be seen so by people that are opposed to such practices.
Despite the fact that there are a very few funny stories — it is mostly a dreary catalog of our perpetual failure to evolve into a race that uses brains, not brawn-induced fear, to change negative behavior. Pummeling the powerless for power, pleasure and profit is a uniquely human pastime.
The illustrations cover various aspects of the subject, and include material from early manuscripts to cartoons from contemporary publications: including one done by George Cruikshank, a famous 19th century artist, and one by Gillray, a well-known 18th century one. Unfortunately the quality of the book was less than stellar, the images could have been sharper and clearer, and typos and errors abounded, especially in proper names.
About the online edition: Because of the erratic usage of the spelling, especially “practise” and “practice”, which are both used throughout, I have normalized all its uses to practice, in all its forms. The mistakes all appear to have been present in L’Olme’s book, and were perpetuated in this book.
With the welcome help of Bill Thayer, standard spellings of some of the early historical figures, places, and the Latin have replaced the mistakes made in this regard. Several misspellings of more common words, and normalization of punctuation for consistency have also been done.
The biggest news, though, spotted by eagle-eyed Bill Thayer, is that all the libraries and bibliographic references to Jean Louis de l’Olme have uncritically reproduced a gross error. The man is always called Lolme in the English references to it. In the card catalogs for major universities this error persists, as well as in the few biographical notices about him in English. Roger Pearse provided the evidence that UK libraries did the same thing, which can be seen at www.copac.ac.uk. Nobody bothered to do minimal research on the man and the error has persisted for hundreds of years. This provides some proof that flogging students, before its ban in many countries, doesn't lead to better scholarship!
How could such an error occur? It didn't help that L’Olme published his work anonymously. So whoever discovered that it was his work didn't bother with the niceties. All the indexes of the libraries that hold his book, trusted in this person who discovered the author's name, and so continued the mistake.
An Online Index has been added as well, on the [NEXT] page.
Next: Title Pages and Index.