--We have recently heard of the public flogging of ladies in Warsaw
with the Russian
knout, and as many are not aware of the nature of this means of torture, we publish the following description of the instrument:
"The knout had a short massive handle, and a heavy leather lash about eight feet long.
It resembled those tremendous whips with which the Cossacks of the Ukraine, when they have brought a wolf to bay, can kill him at a single blow.
The lash was formed of leather, curved so as to give two sharp edges along its whole length, and sometimes bound with wire thread, the end terminated in a little iron hook.
It had no handle, but one end was left supple, so that the executioner could wind it round his wrist.
At every blow the sharp edges of the stiff curved lash fell on the criminal's back, and cut him as with eight yards of a pliant double- edged sword.
The executioner, subtle in his cruelty, had learnt not to roughly withdraw the lash, but to draw it towards him, so as to remove along flaky bands of flesh, the hook being devised with devilish ingenuity for this detestable purpose.
The lash was also purposely long, that it lapped round the body and cut deep into the chest at the same time that it destroyed the whole of the back.
Indeed, to tell you the whole truth, my dear, sir, it was well known that the executioner could, if he chose, kill any man at one blow of the knout by lapping him round the lungs and heart; but, as the "Bourreau" was generally bribed, he seldom put forth his whole force.
When the knout was honestly used, the criminal, if he survived the first blow, usually fainted at the third, and died about the fifth.
A ukase of Peter the Great
fixed the maximum of blows at 101, (we Russians have a superstitious respect for odd numbers;) but whether the knout became heavier, or we became more effeminate, the 101 blows — which, of course, implied death — were never given in the Emperor Nicholas's time,"