Friday, March 1, 2013

Crime and Punishment

I am thrilled to say that today (1st March) Innerpeffray Library re-opened after its annual hibernation, so I took a morning off and went over to see its new exhibition, Crime and Punishment.
I very rarely have the car during the working week so I had made my mind up to cycle over, whatever the weather. Fortunately, it was a really gorgeous dry sunny morning, so it was very pleasant indeed to cycle through the Perthshire countryside. My bicycle (pictured, outside the library) has been christened La lanterne rouge, after the competitor in the last place in cycle races such as the Tour de France, because whenever we go cycling as a family I am always at the back! Also, handily, it is red.
Whenever I cycle anywhere I pass keen sporty cyclists in head-to-toe lycra and high vis jackets; generally we greet each other cheerfully, but I don't belong to that particular club (not fit enough, hem-hem). La lanterne rouge is a means of transport, one that hugely extends the range I could manage on foot, and using it to get about always gives me the delicious sensation of having stepped back into the 1950s. Really, I should put a bottle of ginger beer in my backpack!
When I arrived at the library it was to find that the gardens outside were full of snowdrops. Sometimes I stop to look at the leper squint in Innerpeffray church, or some of the old gravestones, but I didn't do any of that today; I have missed my visits to the library over the winter months so I was dying to get inside.

The new exhibition is excellent. I never get tired of telling people that if they are in the area they should visit the library, and here is a new reason. I am not going to detail every single book on display because that might discourage you, dear reader, from actually visiting the library if you find yourself in the area. But I have to tell you about one that for me really was the star of the show. It is Richard Sanders' book of Physiognomie and chiromancie, metopopscopie, published in 1653.
The book purports to be a scientific work demonstrating how a person's disposition can be judged from his physical appearance. This includes, apparently, relating the facial features to the signs of the Zodiac!

The most entertaining aspect of this work is that there is a series of pages depicting different facial types and explaining what type of character each of them represents:

One of these pictures represents a murderer and "one that shall suffer a violent death"! See below - ring any bells? If your boss looks exactly like this, then according to Sanders it is time to be worried. Very worried. 

The picture below, from a different page, shows a gentleman with a couple of parallel wavy lines on his forehead, which is supposed to predict "drowning, or great perils by water"! 

Other intriguing books on display include my perennial favourite the Discoverie of Witchcraft, as well as the supremely nasty Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Interestingly, the library also has a Victorian copy of Foxe's, with very much milder illustrations than the original, so that you can compare and contrast, should you so desire. 
If you find yourself in Scotland and would like to visit the exhibition, you can find directions, visiting hours, etc. on the library's website here:

No comments:

Post a Comment