Saturday, January 29, 2011

Today -100: January 29, 1911: Of guillotines, crimes passionelles, matches, badgers, and bigamists

A Paris jury sentences a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old to the guillotine for killing a bank collector. “Alluding to the different prison régime to which they would be henceforth subjected, one of them said: ‘Now, at last we can play cards,’ and the other added, ‘Yes, and drink wine.’”

France is moving to change the law – yes, an actual written law – allowing a husband to kill his wife’s lover. It may also equalize the law of adultery. At present a husband guilty of adultery can only be fined around $5, while a wife can be imprisoned.

A (unnamed by the NYT) London newspaper says that there are many more pretty British women now (-100) than there were a year ago. It attributes this to their getting more rest because there have been fewer parties and bridge has gotten less popular. I think the fewer parties thing is because the death of Edward VII put a crimp on the London season.

At the strong request of President Taft, The Diamond Match Company (aka, the Match Trust), has granted everybody free use of its patent for matches manufactured without white phosphorus. Match workers tended to get poisoned, which produced something called phossy jaw (do an image search in your favorite search engine if you want to be grossed out).

Disappointing Headline of the Day -100: “Banker Badger Victim.” A couple kidnapped a banker and forced him to write a check (but he was able to throw a help note out the window). No actual badgers involved.

King George V has instituted criminal libel proceedings against Edward Mylius (that is, a criminal trial, not a civil suit; Mylius has been in prison since December) for reports in the republican newspaper The Liberator (printed in Paris) that the king is a bigamist, having married the daughter of an admiral.

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