The Slit Nose
The ghost stories of M. R. James are some of the best in the english language. they are often set in East Anglia, and were originally told to the boys at Eton School, where M. R. James was the Provost, on Summer Camps. He was bought up near Bury St Edmunds, the son of a local vicar, and knew the region
When he came to write his 'perambulation' of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1930, he produced one of the best introductions to the two counties, but occasionally he managed to introduce the odd tale that were more reminiscent of his more popular books
Turning into the churchyard (of Bury Cathedral), which is a beautiful place, you may see the shapeless ruin of the charnel-chapel, a good view of the north side of St. Mary's with the Notyngham porch, and a fine old house of 1730, once the " Clopton Asylum," now devoted to Church uses. In this churchyard it was that on New Year's Day of 1722 Arundel Coke, barrister, invited his brother-in-law Edward Crispe to take a stroll after supper ; and had a man waiting with a bill-hook, who fell upon Crispe and hacked him and left him for dead.
Coke went back to his house and said that Crispe would be in shortly, and spoke more truly than he thought, for soon afterwards Crispe did crawl in covered with blood. He was mended up, and Coke and his accomplice Woodburne were tried under the Coventry Act for slitting Crispe's nose. Coke's defence was that he did not intend to slit Crispe's nose, but to kill him ; and was insistent to know whether the nose could be said to be slit within the meaning of the statute, when the edge of it was not cut through. Lord Chief Justice Sir Peter King was of opinion that it was duly slit, and Coke was hanged.