In volume three of Ashbee’s famous erotic bibliography, Catena Librorum Tacendorum, there exists reference to an account called “An Essay on the Art of Strangling, &c., Illustrated with several Anecdotes. With Memoirs of Susannah Hill, and a Summary of Her Trial at the Old-Bailey, on Friday, September 16, 1791, On the Charge of Hanging Francis Kotzwarra, At her Lodgings in Vine Street, on September 2.” I find the detailed excerpt from this account fascinating because, although I never imagined that the too-often deadly practice of erotic asphyxiation was uniquely modern, I equally never imagined that it would be so prevalent and so well understood 220 years ago that the law could take cognizance of it, to the extent of “dismissing” someone accused of murder for assisting in it:

That in the afternoon of 2d of September, between one and two o’clock, a man whom she had never seen before, and who was the deceased, came past the house where she lived — That he came into the house, the street door being open, and asked her if she would have anything to drink. That she replied, if she chose anything, it should be a little porter. The deceased said he should like some brandy and water; and gave her money to buy both porter and brandy-with two shillings for some ham and beef, which she accordingly bought.

Some time after this, they went into a back room, where several acts of the grossest indecency passed; in particular he pressed her to cut off the means of generation, and expressly wished to have it cut in two. But this she refused. He then said he should like to be hanged for five minutes; and while he gave her money to buy a cord, observed that hanging would excite his passions — that it would produce all he wanted. But as a cord large enough could not be immediately procured, she brought two small ones, and put them round his neck. He then tied himself up to the back parlour door, a place where he hung very low, and bending down his knees.

[elision in Ashee’s quotation — Bacchus]

After hanging five minutes, she cut him down; he immediately fell to the ground: she thought he was in a fit, and called to an opposite neighbor for help.

The prisoner was dismissed.

If you need a “don’t try this at home” warning after reading that account, I’m afraid you’re too stupid to live in any case.

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