A reader writes:
I just came across this fascinating piece of historical evidence in a recent 'Cambridge in America Newsletter' (Issue 13, Autumn 2007):
For centuries, a fragile, 1,500-page memoir by a politically active, Cambridge-educated Puritan chaplain, covering the years 1677 to 1691, lay unread in a little-known London library. Nearly a million words in length, some 40,000 of which were written in impenetrable code (to protect the author from the King's agents), the 'Entring Book' of Roger Morrice has long tantalized scholars ... Writing twenty years after Pepys, Morrice depicted a darker England, thrown into a great crisis of "popery and arbitrary power."
Morrice wrote about the persecution faced by those who refused to abide by the laws of the Stuart state and the established Church and who, like the Quakers and Puritans, persisted in illegal worship ... In October 1684 he tells of one victim whom soldiers were ordered to "keep him from sleeping, which they did without intermission for nine or ten days. When he was ready to die ... the balls of his eyes swollen as big as tennis balls ... they tormented him by the thumbs".
The means of torture are as old as the nature of the human body and psyche. No modern president can abolish it by the abuse of the English language.