Morbid Fact Du Jour For April 23, 2017

I know, I’ve been away so long, haven’t I?  Mostly work has kept me away, but busy personal life hasn’t helped.  I’m going to try to get back to the regular morbidity now, but I can’t guarantee I’ll get one out every day.  But I will do my best, and I guess that’s all you can ask of a decrepit old Comtesse, right?  

Today’s Compulsory Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In Japan the honor suicide was mainly recourse to committing hari-kiri, the ancient practice of self-disembowelment. There were two types of hara-kiri: compulsory and voluntary. When a nobleman was found to have broken the laws or to have been disloyal, the usual punishment was to commit hara-kiri using a jeweled dagger sent for that very purpose by the mikado (emperor). In an elaborate and dignified ceremony, the suicide would kneel on a red felt carpet raised a few feet above the ground in order to afford the audience a good view. Dressed for the occasion, the victim would take the mikado’s dagger and plunge it up to the hilt into his left side, just below the waist. Slowly the blade would be moved to the right inside the abdomen, being first turned and then drawn upwards. Added honor was bestowed on the suicide if he managed to inflict the fatal wound without flinching. When it was clear that the dagger had pierced the stomach, a friend of the victim would put the man out of his agony by swiftly decapitating him. The practice of hara-kiri was once so common that Montesquieu could comment wryly that the Japanese ‘rip open their bellies for the least fancy’. Compulsory hara-kiri was made illegal in 1868, but the voluntary type has never been completely eliminated from Japanese culture and continues to be a method of dispatch even in our own time – especially to avoid disgrace or humiliation. 

Culled from: Death: A History of Man’s Obsessions and Fears


Garretdom: Shot Him While Asleep

For those who are unfamiliar, Garretdom is a feature of the Asylum Eclectica where I share old newspaper clippings that I find suitably grim.  Today we look back to 1886 and a tragic tale of a husband who never used his wife right!

December 7, 1886
A Buffalo Woman Sends a Bullet Through Her Husband’s Heart.

BUFFALO, N. Y., Dec. 7A deliberate and cold-blooded murder was committed in this city at an early hour this morning. At about eight o’clock a boy rushed into No. 8 police station and stated that a man had been shot by his wife in rooms occupied by Emil Penseyres and his wife in the Miller block. Officers immediately proceeded to the place. They were met by a woman who appeared to be in a high state of excitement. She said her husband was in a bedroom , the door of which stood partly open. A cloth had been nailed up over the window. In the bed lay the body of Emil Penseyres. A bullet had penetrated his heart. The shooting occurred at about 6 A.M., according to the best reports, and the man was evidently lying asleep in bed when the murderess fired the fatal shot.

 There were no evidences of a struggle and every indication was that the woman deliberately shot the man in his sleep. The discovery of her terrible deed seemed to drive her into a frenzy of rage. The pistol she had used had been thrown under the bed, and she managed to regain possession of it before the officers were aware of her purpose. She flourished the revolver in the faces of the officers and screamed that she would never be arrested. They rushed at the furious woman and felled her to the floor, and after a severe struggle succeeded in getting the revolver away from her. She still resisted, but in vain, and was informed that she was under arrest and must go to the station-house.
She gave her name as Hattie F. Penseyres, and her age as thirty-three years. Her occupation, she said, was that of a housekeeper. The only remark she made on the way to the station was that her husband “never used her right.” He was some years her junior, and was a wood-worker by trade. It appears that he married the woman who took his life in February, 1885. They had no children, but the woman has a son and daughter by a former marriage. It is said that her reputation was not good, and that she was formerly an inmate of a house of ill-fame.

From the Collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1886 Morbid Scrapbook

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *