Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Eighty-Three

The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was first published at the end of the eighteenth century, and given that the Coronavirus crisis is giving too much time to read books, I thought I’d pick a daily word from it until I got bored…..

Cold Burning

The dictionary definition probably says as much as needs saying (writing) about this…

“A punishment inflicted by private soldiers on their comrades for trifling offences, or breach of their mess laws; it is administered in the following manner: The prisoner is set against the wall, with the arm which is to be burned tied as high above his head as possible. The executioner then ascends a stool, and having a bottle of cold water, pours it slowly down the sleeve of the delinquent, patting him, and leading the water gently down his body, till it runs out at his breeches knees: this is repeated to the other arm, if he is sentenced to be burned in both”.

Most references to this bizarre punishment seem to derive from this book, but given some similar other goings-on, I imagine it was probably a real thing and not made up by the author in the way some entries perhaps are.