HC Deb 07 April 1837 vol 37 cc868-905

The Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee on the Mutiny Bill having been read,

Major Fancourt

said, that in rising to move the appointment of a Committee to examine and report on the question of military punishments, he might be permitted to state the precise grounds on which he had been led to submit the question of flogging in the army to the consideration of the House in this particular form. It seemed to him, that after having yearly, and, he was sorry to add, unsuccessfully, divided the House on the immediate and entire abolition of corporal punishments in the British army, that it would be in some sort trifling with the House were he to trouble hon. Members for a mere repetition of their voles, without bringing forward further evidence in support of his own views. The appointment of a military commission by his Majesty, under the advice of the right hon. Gentleman then filling the office of Prime Minister, inspired him with a hope that what the Commissioners themselves called a minute and searching inquiry into the means at present used to maintain the discipline of the army, with a view to the abolition of corporal punishments, would have been entered into. But a commission of inquiry as to the expediency of abolishing corporal punishments could not satisfy the public mind, composed as this commission was, of persons avowedly hostile, or, to say the least, none of them favourable, to such abolition. Thinking as be did, that the conclusions at which the Commissioners had arrived were very questionable, it appeared to him that the clearest and most satisfactory course to be pursued for combatting such conclusions, would be the appointment of a Select Committee by the House of Commons comprising those favourable as well as those adverse to corporal punishments. The report of such a Committee, whether favourable to the public wishes or not, would, at all events be thus far satisfactory to the public mind, that it would have resulted from a full and fair inquiry into the whole question by hon. Members on both sides of the House, or he should perhaps say of both sides of the question. They were told that this punishment might be dispensed with in time of peace, but that the power of inflicting it was at all times adviseable, and in time of war indispensable. He was, therefore, desirous that a Committee of the House should take advantage of the time of peace now enjoyed for the purpose of establishing a system of military discipline less repugnant to the popular sympathies than that now in force. The principle of inquiry into the expediency of this mode of punishment he found conceded in a passage in the Report of the Commissioners:—"Nothing can be more certain than that in this country, and with the ample means afforded to every man in it for the free discussion of any subject in Parliament, in courts of laws, in public meetings, and through the press, no practice can be long maintained which is really contrary to the well-considered judgment and settled feelings of the country." It was because he was of opinion that the judgment and feeling of the country were opposed to military flogging that he strove for its abolition. And when referring to the Report of the Commissioners he wished to avail himself of their admission that any partial abolition of the punishment must prove nugatory—in short, that for any good purpose the abolition must, in the terms of the motion which he had on former occasions submitted to the House, be a total and final abolition of flogging in the army:—"There is, however, one suggestion which has been made by those who have a strong feeling against the use of corporal punishment, to which we must advert—namely, that the power of inflicting it should be confined to the army upon actual service, and entirely taken away as respects the regiments quartered in these islands and the colonies. We cannot recommend the adoption of this suggestion. If this power be taken away at all, the rule must be universal, and applied to all circumstances equally. The soldier must not be told, that that power cannot be permitted to exist while he remains in a situation where he is called upon for comparatively easy duty without risk, but that from the moment he is required hourly and daily to undergo the severest hardships and privations, and to risk his life in the service, he is to be subject to that punishment, which has been declared to be degrading, and calculated to impair and to destroy those moral feelings, upon which the country has to depend for the energy and exertions which are the foundations of its military glory, and the success of its arms. To place him in such a position would be both inconsistent and unjust, and cannot be defended." The question was thus by the Commissioners themselves narrowed to the single point of the decided maintenance or the entire abolition of the punishment. The Commissioners had decided in favour of maintaining the punishment. He respectfully asked the House for an opportunity of proving before a Select Committee that it might be with safety entirely abolished; and he hoped to be able to show that the moral inefficacy of torture by the lash was as indisputable as its physical barbarity. On this point he would, with permission of the House, cite the testimony of the eminent army surgeon, Mr. Guthrie, who served during the Peninsular war, and filled the very important and responsible situation of inspector of hospitals. The work which he held in his hand was entitled The London Medical Gazette and contained an account of some clinical lectures delivered by Mr. Guthrie, in the course of which he gave some anecdotes of the Peninsular war:—"Colonel Lake, when he formed his regiment in the evening for the punishment of the two culprits, knew full well that every man was satisfied they deserved it, but he did not say that. He spoke to the hearts of his soldiers; he told them he flogged these men not alone because they deserved it, but that he might deprive them of the honour of going into action with their comrades in the morning, and that he might not prevent the guard who was stationed over them from participating in it. The regiment was in much too high a state of discipline to admit of a word being said, but they were repeated all the evening from mouth to mouth; and the poor fellows who were flogged declared to me they would willingly, on their knees at his feet if they dared, have begged, as the greatest favour he could bestow, to be allowed to run the risk of being shot first, with the certainty of being flogged afterwards if they escaped." Here it appeared to him they had the whole question of moral effect disposed of. Had these two men been handcuffed and marched to the rear of their regiment during the action, the moral effect would have been equally strong both on the minds of them and of their comrades, unmixed with the humiliation and disgust attending corporal punishment. If he was told that handcuffing a man on the eve of battle and during that battle was preposterous on account of loss of service, his answer was that Colonel Lake expressly told these men that his chief reason for flogging them was to prevent their sharing in the hazards and glories of the coming action. Mr. Guthrie disposed of one view of the subject beyond cavil—namely, the chance of reclaiming an offender by the lash. He says, that at the period spoken of there were several men in the 28th regiment who had received from 6,000 to 8,000 lashes, and yet were incorrigible. And he adds, that an old soldier cares little whether he receives 100 or 300 lashes. He mentions the case of a man of the name of Reardon, which is conclusive as to the comparative effect produced by corporal punishment and solitary confinement:—"I remember one of these gentlemen (Mr. Dennis Reardon by name) who, for some misdemeanour, was sentenced to receive 500 lashes. This the General commanding was pleased to commute for fourteen days' garrison black strap—that is, to work (or rather idle) fourteen days at King's works, without 7d. a day; but Mr. Dennis declined the favour, said took the 500 lashes." He also mentions the case of a grenadier, whom, he says, he saw get the last of 18,000 lashes, without their being of the smallest use to him in the way of reformation. And he adds, "Indeed, I have seen many scores of thousands of lashes given, without being aware of any benefit being derived from them. It is of little consequence whether a man receives 100 or 300 lashes; my own opinion is, that he should receive neither; a brand is not affixed to a felon, and it should not be to a soldier." He (Major Fancourt) was confident that every Gentleman would feel with Mr. Guthrie that drunkenness, certainly a grave military offence, but one which morally speaking, was daily dealt with as a venial one by the civil magistracy by the infliction of a fine of 5s., ought not in a soldier's case to be visited with a punishment which branded a man with a degradation which he must carry to his grave. Such a practice was not only cruel, it was unjust, and the result invariably was, that the self-respect of the soldier was forfeited, and he became flogged into an irreclaimable offender. In proof of this he might mention that a gallant officer, a friend of his, who had returned from serving with the British Legion in Spain, had told him that in most instances where flogging had been resorted to in that force the men were soldiers who had formerly served in our array, and had there been subjected to the lash. He wished to say one word with regard to the number of lashes inflicted. The noble Lord opposite (the Secretary-at-War) last year restricted the number of lashes to be inflicted by general courts-martial to 200, by district courts-martial to 150, and by regimental to 100. The noble Lord was entitled to the thanks of the country for this. It was the first limitation of the power of general courts-martial. It furthermore proved the disposition of the noble Lord to render the punishment as little revolting as possible, and to consult the public wishes as far as, under all circumstances, his individual influence could be exerted. He would, perhaps, be permitted to assure the noble Lord, on the eminent medical authority he had just been quoting, that the reduction might be carried much further if the efficiency of the punishment was the point in question. Mr. Guthrie stated, that after the infliction of the first fifty lashes, the acute-ness of sensation was so far gone, that the remainder of the punishment was a mere brutal exhibition. He pledged himself to prove this before a Committee by the evidence of Mr. Guthrie. He submitted that such evidence was most important, and it was, that the House might have the advantage of such evidence before deciding a question of great and very general interest, that he brought forward his motion for a Select Committee. As to the expediency of retaining the power of inflicting corporal punishments, however rarely exercised, he begged leave to read a short passage from the evidence of Sir Octavius Carey, commanding the 57th regiment. The Commissioners, in their Report to his Majesty, said—"There are some regiments in the service, in which, by the prudence and skill of the commanding officer, and by his unremitting attention and kindness to the soldier, the use of corporal punishment has been entirely avoided, and some of those officers speak confidently of being able to manage their regiment by what may be called moral discipline rather than by punishments. We have no doubt that rare instances have occurred of that sort, but it is too much to assume that, in fact, this moral discipline would have been so effectual, if there had not been a knowledge, on the part of the men, that, if driven to it, corporal punishment was within the reach of the officers." What says Sir Octavius Carey? The direct contrary. "You say you endeavoured to diminish punishment in the regiment you commanded; was your object principally to diminish corporal punishment?—Entirely, nothing but corporal punishment." "Did you find you could do that?—I should say I succeeded as nearly as a man could succeed, having the punishment on the statute; and the experiment was tried in Ireland with a regiment very much scattered, that had previously been accustomed to much corporal punishment."—"You think you succeeded as well as if you had not had the power of inflicting corporal punishment;—No; I think if I had not had the power, I should have succeeded very much better. For an officer cannot carry on discipline unless be persuades his officers and non-commissioned officers under him that they are supported; and he cannot do that unless he puts the extreme penalty of the law in force, particularly when a court-martial persists in awarding such sentence. If you try a man by court-martial, and sentence him to corporal punishment, it must be inflicted, or you must pardon; you cannot change." He is also asked.—"During the time you commanded the 57th regiment, did you endeavour to obviate the necessity of corporal punishment?—Yes, I did. I gave a good deal of attention to that, and succeeded in obviating it in a very great measure."—"Not entirely?—Not entirely, because there were a few instances in which there was punishment. Corporal punishment is inflicted by the sentence of a court-martial. If the court persevere in awarding, the commanding officer must either pardon or inflict, he cannot change the sentence."—"It was well known in the regiment, that, in certain cases, that punishment would be inflicted?—No: I do not think it was. I made a point to persuade the men as far as possible that I would not punish. The men always knew that I had the power of punishment; but the general principle on which I endeavoured to maintain discipline was, as much as possible to persuade them that I would not punish—that I did not like the punishment." "Do you think that the regiment was in a very efficient state of discipline?—There was a brigade at Chatham in the year 1824, at the time the regiment arrived from Ireland. The regiment was landed, and marched into the brigade. Sir Henry Torrens was then reviewing it. The Duke of York reviewed it the day after, and he was pleased to say he never saw a regiment in higher order." He would not weary the House with quotations, though the evidence of other gallant officers presented much valuable information in favour of the abolition of military flogging. But the chief point for consideration now was, the appointment of a Select Committee by the House of Commons to inquire and report on the question in all its relations. Much information, most important to a just settlement, would be thus for the first time elicited. Should the result of such investigation be of a nature to confirm the Report of the Commissioners appointed by his Majesty, the House would, he doubted not, act upon that Report. If, on the contrary, the result of such investigation should show that corporal punishments might be dispensed with without detriment to the discipline of the army, then he should confidently trust to the wisdom and humanity of the House for the discontinuance of this mode of punishment. The deliberations of the House of Commons, and particularly the evidence given before the military commission by the Duke of Wellington, had excited much attention in other countries, a circumstance which he merely mentioned for the purpose of availing himself of the testimony borne by a Prussian general officer, General von Grollman, to the character of the British soldier. After disputing some points in the evidence of the Duke of Wellington with reference to the discipline of the Prussian army, General von Grollman proceeded to urge that the high character of the English soldier is achieved, not in consequence, but in spite, of the present system of military punishments:—"The English common soldier is a rough, powerful, and valiant man, who, in common with the whole people, possesses a high feeling of nationality, and therefore unites in himself all the qualities of an excellent soldier; if with those qualities the discipline of the army were combined, he would be all that could be desired in a warrior. Instead of this, the soldier is, by complete alienation from social life, by a peculiarly cruel punishment, degraded and brutalised and what he effects against the foreign enemy is more to be ascribed to his original good qualities, and his contempt of all that is not English, than to a discipline which would make a wild beast of him if left to himself." He submitted that the time had now arrived when the British soldier should be relieved from this stigma. Those hon. Members who differed from him in this opinion would not, he trusted, oppose an inquiry into the grounds on which the opinion rested. This was all he then asked. He asked it in no party spirit, from no wish to embarrass his Majesty's Government. The noble Lord must be aware that the hon. Members most hostile to his views on this subject were to be found on the side of the House on which he sat. But, as he had on former occasions said, this was a national, not a party question. Were it a party question, he should hesitate in undertaking it in the presence of Gentlemen of so much more political experience and importance than himself; and, did it appear to him to be exclusively a professional one, he should be deterred by the distinguished names arrayed against him. But feeling, as he did, that every Member of that House was competent to come to a sound conclusion on the subject, he asked for a Committee of inquiry, which, as it would leave every Member unfettered to decide on the merits of the evidence adduced, he could not suppose that his Majesty's Government would refuse. He was aware that it might be objected to the appointment of such a Committee, that it would go to bring the discipline of the army under the control of that House. Why, the very Bill which they were then discussing, the Mutiny Bill, called upon them from year to year to give to Ids Majesty the power of making articles of war for the infliction of any punishment, not extending to life and limb, except in cases specially provided for. Here they had the controlling power of that House over military punishments placed beyond all possible doubt. It appeared to him to be the very spirit of that Bill, that on its yearly introduction any measure affecting the interests of that large class of our countrymen who are voted for his Majesty's military service should be freely discussed and fully inquired into. He could not sufficiently thank the House for the indulgence he had experienced now and formerly when discussing a question so often brought under its consideration. He had endeavoured to evince his sense of such indulgence by treating the question temperately. Indeed, it was not by the force of declamatory and passionate appeals that he could wish to see this question carried. No; believing, as he did, that the abolition of this mode of punishment had now become a measure of national necessity, he asked only for a full, calm, and conclusive inquiry in Committee, the result of which would decide the justice and expediency of abolishing corporal punishments in the British army. He moved, as an amendment to the Speaker leaving the chair, "That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire and report on the question of military punishments."

Captain Boldero seconded the motion.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

said, it was rather a remarkable fact, that of all the witnesses who were examined before the military commission the hon. and gallant Gentle- man opposite and the hon. Member for Hull were the only two persons who had stated that corporal punishments could be abolished without detriment to the public service. He conceived it to be the duty of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to lay such statements before the House as would prove that such would probably be the result, before he called upon the House to grant any further inquiry into the subject. The hon. and Gallant Member had stated that he had no confidence in the Report of the Commission. Was that on account of the composition of the Commission? The Members of that Commission were well known to that House. They were Lord Wharncliffe, Sir J. Kemp, Sir E. Barnes, Lord Sandon, Sir E. East, and other most excellent and competent persons. Was not the report of such persons as these worthy of being received by that House with every mark of respect and attention? Let it be remembered that every hon. Member of that House who had ever taken a part in favour of the abolition of flogging in the army was among; the first who were examined by the Commissioners; and not only that, but they were invited to bring before the Commissioners any Gentleman who was personally acquainted with the subject, and whose views were similar to those of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Could the Commissioners, then, be accused of partiality in their proceedings? The hon. Member for Middlesex was also told, that if he knew of any person whom he wished to be examined, that person would be heard. In the course of the inquiry upwards of 100 British officers of the greatest experience in the army, men whose services had been most meritorious, and who were the best persons to give judgment on the question, were examined before the Commission, or gave written answers to the circulars that were sent to them. There was not one of those Gentlemen who did not state that it was impossible to dispense with flogging without danger to the discipline of the army, except the hon. and gallant Member for Barnstaple and the Member for Hull. If corporal punishment was abolished in the home service, it must follow, that in the foreign service also it should be discontinued; for it could not be expected that those soldiers who were sent on foreign service and performed the most arduous, difficult, and dangerous duties, should be subjected to the punishment of the lash, while those who remained at home in comparative security were freed from the disgrace, if disgrace it was. If flogging was abolished in one case, it must be abolished in the other. The opinion of the military Commissioners was, not that corporal punishment was viewed in a favourable light by the general officers of the army. He know not one man, indeed, who was in favour of flogging, except so far as it was absolutely necessary to retain the power of applying it in order to keep up a proper state of discipline. The opinion of the authorities at the head of the army was, that the power to inflict corporal punishment could not be taken away from military courts-martial, but that it was desirable to reduce its frequency as much as possible. This the military authorities had done to a great extent, and unless their march in this work was impeded by such motions as that before the House, he believed in his conscience that in a few years corporal punishment would exist only in name. By returns which he held in his hand it appeared that in the course of eight years, beginning from the time when the number of corporal punishments exceeded those not corporal, the former had been reduced until they had become in relation to the latter as one is to nine. In the year 1835 the number of corporal punishments in the British army at home was 246; in 1836 the number was reduced to 163. Not only was the number of the punishments reduced, but the extent of severity was diminished in the same ratio. Such were the results of the course which had been pursued by the military authorities, and having mentioned them to the House, he believed they would vouch for the fact, that the greatest possible attention had been paid to the subject. He, for one, had felt it his duty to call the particular attention of the military authorities to this question, and he must say, that they were always disposed to pay the utmost regard to his suggestions. He could not conceive why the House should agree to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member, unless it was convinced that a Committee could point out any better course than that which the military authorities were now pursuing, aided and assisted by the officers of the British army, than whom he must say there did not exist more humane men in the country, and it was a libel upon them to say, that they desired to inflict corporal punishment, except in cases of absolute necessity. Why did the hon. Gentleman require the appointment of a Committee? To adduce facts? He took it for granted that such was his object. But what would any man give for a Committee after the extensive inquiry which had taken place? The facts were already before every Member of the House, who was as well able to judge of them without, as with, the assistance of a Committee. The facts which were stated in the Report of the military commission were so incontrovertible that it was not in the power of any hon. Member of that House to get up and point out any part of the Report that was defective. That evidence was of a most decided character, and clearly showed that flogging in the army could not be abolished without reducing the power of the military authorities and endangering the discipline of the whole army. Would the Committee enable them to judge better of the composition of the Commission, or could the composition of any Committee be better? He believed not, for that Commission was composed of as honest and excellent men as any in that House; and he might add, of men better able to judge of the matter than any hon. Gentleman in the House. That Commission had brought before them the opinions of all the military authorities in the land. Persons of every grade in the army were examined, from the Duke of Wellington down to the private soldier. Immediately after the Commission opened, a circular was sent to every general officer, desiring him to send up, without mentioning the object, a non-commissioned officer and a private from every regiment. That request was complied with, and it would be found that not one of those persons agreed in opinion with the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Those men were brought up before the Commissioners for examination without any previous intimation, and gave their evidence unbiassed and uninfluenced by any party. Unless the hon. and gallant Gentleman wished to have a Committee composed of men whose minds were made up to abolish military punishment, he should like to know, in the name of God, what was his object? A full and complete statement of facts was before them. No indisposition had been evinced by the Commissioners to receive information from any or every quarter. Nay, the utmost pains were taken to procure it in every shape. What else could be done? He confessed, that when he entered upon the perusal of the Report of the Commission, he did so without the least possible bias, for he had never voted or spoken on the question. He was prepared, therefore, to look at the evidence with an impartial eye. But when he read it, it produced an overwhelming effect upon his mind. He endeavoured to read it, and to sift it as well as he could, with a most anxious desire to see if there could be found any possible grounds for the abolition of flogging, but the result was, that he could not come to that conclusion. All the Committees in the world, or all the Commissions—for he would resist a Commission now as much as he would a Committee—could not, after the inquiry that had taken place, produce satisfactory reasons for proceeding to the immediate abolition of flogging in the army, but there could be no doubt of the propriety of endeavouring to diminish the frequency of that punishment. He denied that public opinion was so strongly against the retention of the power of inflicting corporal punishment. He would not say anything on the foreign service, but he believed the army of Great Britain was now in that state, that it would not be safe to let loose this mainstay of authority and discipline, which, however, was but rarely resorted to, except in cases of insubordination and striking a superior officer, getting drunk on duty, or making away with arms and accoutrements. He should give a decided negative to the motion, and he believed that there was a sufficient number of hon. Members in that House to support him, men who were not biassed by popular clamour, but who would honestly and conscientiously discharge their duty, by voting according to their sense of what was necessary for the good of the service, and the preservation of the peace of the country.

Major Fancourt

explained. While he disclaimed all intention of saying anything disrespectful of those who composed the Commission, he had always thought it ought to have contained the names of some whose opinions were favourable to the abolition of corporal punishment.

Mr. Lennard

cordially concurred in one at least of the statements of the right hon. Gentleman below him (Mr. R. Fergusson)—he confessed he saw no necessity for any further inquiry. His own mind was fully made up on the subject from the information which, for the last ten years, had been poured in from all quarters. Since he had had the honour of a seat in Parliament, the question had been repeatedly debated in that House; it was actively and ably canvassed in all its bearings, by the organs of the public press, and if it could be settled by the authority and opinion of those eminent in the military profession, it must long ago have been decided. But, after all, the vote they were about to come to, must rest on facts with which every one must be acquainted. The hon. and gallant Officer who introduced the discussion stated, that he would bring before the Committee the evidence of Mr. Guthrie, to prove that after fifty lashes, corporal punishment exceeded human endurance. He, for one, was not inclined to allow those fifty lashes to be given in time of peace, because he was fully prepared to say they had already arrived at that state of things in this country, that they were bound, in deference to public feeling, for the sake of humanity, and the best interests of the British army, to see whether it could not be governed, and its discipline duly maintained, without having recourse to this barbarous and cruel infliction. It was not to be forgotten, that this country alone was disgraced by the punishment of the lash; even the Sepoy army of India was exempted from it, while it was not less notorious, that every British officer who had made the attempt to govern without corporal punishment, had been completely successful. If this frightful infliction were necessary to maintain subordination and discipline in the army, how did it happen that, in the police force, a most efficient and orderly corps—in the Coast Guard service, where the men had to undergo a great variety of severe labour, and who were always at their post, perfect discipline could be maintained without having recourse to it? They had arrived at the time when an experiment must be made. He was satisfied the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Fergusson) was wrong in thinking that public feeling had retrograded upon this subject. The fact was quite the reverse, and that was one of the strongest reasons why the experiment now called for should at once be made. Public opinion had already compelled a relaxation of the sanguinary criminal code, although it had been so long defended by the judges; and if the punishment of death could no longer be inflicted for the atrocious crime of forgery, however extensive, would the people of this country allow them to punish a man with death at the halberts, for disposing of some comparatively trifling articles of his military dress? He asked whether there was not some danger in maintaining this punishment, when the soldier must know the state of public feeling, and how many Members in that House sympathised with him, and whether the same feeling might not arise in the army of England, as had been exhibited on parade in India, when it was made known to them, that corporal punishments having been abolished in the native army, were still to be retained in the British army? He maintained this species of punishment was an anomaly in the British Constitution; there was one description of punishments for the higher, and another for the inferior class of the army. He saw no chance of getting rid of it by degrees. However much it might be reduced, as long as it was held in terrorem over the heads of the men, it would be impossible to get that sort of people to enlist, which was most desirable for the King's service. The only course was, to abolish it at once. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Fergusson) had volunteered a high eulogium upon the sympathies and humanity of British officers; it was quite uncalled for. No man for a moment questioned the fact; but he could never forget, that when Sir Samuel Romilly advocated in that House the relaxation of the sanguinary criminal code, every judge on the bench denounced the adoption of secondary punishments in cases of forgery as likely to be followed by the loss of every safeguard to property; and it was quite natural that people having the administration of great powers, should be unwilling to part with them. He confessed he should have been better pleased, if the motion had been for the immediate and entire abolition of flogging in the army, but as all further information on the subject must tend to prove the unwarrant-ableness and cruelty of the present system, he should give his support to the proposition of his hon. and gallant Friend.

Captain Boldero

disclaimed being actuated on the present occasion by any desire to court popularity, as had been insinuated by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. Fergusson), On the contrary, he maintained his feelings were as honest as his motives were conscientious. The granting of this Committee was an act of justice not only to those who advocated the abolition of corporal punishments, but to those also who were for retaining them. Since the question was last mooted in the House, great alterations and improvements had taken place in the discipline of the army, both as affected the system of punishments and rewards for good behaviour, as well as length of service. With respect to the effect of that new system they were in a state of total ignorance. There had also of late been a restriction imposed on the number of lashes to 100, inflicted in the army under a regimental court-martial—a very beneficial regulation; and they ought to know the effect which it had produced. Another improvement which had taken place was, the increased facility afforded to soldiers of good conduct to purchase their discharge. When a soldier of good character went and stated to his commanding officer his desire to procure his discharge, he was to be enabled to purchase it at a diminished price. At present they were in utter ignorance whether that system worked beneficially or the reverse. The system of mulcting the soldier's pay had also been extended since the last time this question was discussed; how had that worked? Imprisonment had been suggested in lieu of corporal punishment, but the Commission stated that they had not sufficient means of ascertaining what the effect might be. Officers had since taken more care in selecting prisons for the imprisonment of soldiers, in which the discipline might be very severe, and a real punishment, or if the discipline were not very strict, the soldier might prefer imprisonment to performing his ordinary military duty. The Commission at page 15 stated, that this objection might be removed by the effect of regulations now in progress. That was last year. He presumed some of those regulations had already been carried into effect, and he should like to know the result, which a Committee would of course ascertain. This was not all: a circular dated 1833, had been issued by the noble Lord at the head of the Horse-Guards, limiting the punishment of flogging to three crimes—one of the most honourable, one of the most beneficial orders that had ever been issued, and which had done much to diminish the number of inflictions of the lash. They had a melan- choly and practical proof of the inefficiency of flogging in that disastrous and ever-to-be regretted event which had lately taken place in Spain. The argument of some was, that the more the punishment the better the discipline of the soldiers must be. In the regiments under the command of General Evans, the lash was pretty freely exercised, not only under courts-martial, but under the provost system. How had it answered? Was it efficient? Quite the contrary. As soon as the men appeared in front of the enemy, they made a rapid retreat, which was covered by between 300 and 400 British marines, to whom not one stripe had been administered where twenty had been inflicted by General Evans; so that the rule was, the fewer the stripes, the better the discipline of the army. Another reason for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into and report upon the question of military punishments was this, that the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, had obtained leave to bring in a Bill to alter and amend the criminal law; and would they allow the army to be behind him in this respect? All military law was founded, in a considerable degree, on civil practice; these were the punishments of transportation and death. Some said that the practice which prevailed in other countries of sending criminals to the galleys as a punishment for various crimes was one which was most objectionable. The report declared it to be "most objectionable, corrupting, and degrading to the criminal, even to a worse degree of wickedness." He begged to quote these words, because they were strictly applicable to the question of flogging. If then, the noble Lord, the Home Secretary, were about to alter the criminal law in respect to civil offences, he would ask that noble Lord to extend the inquiry to those who were in the army. Now, another reason why this Committee should be appointed, arose out of the curious fact—but one which was, nevertheless, equally true—that in the Report of the Commissioners no allusion whatever was made to the opinions of medical men. What, he would ask, was the reason why medical officers in the army had not been examined on this matter before the Commissioners? Only two, he believed, had been examined; and for what purpose? They were examined touching the death of an unfortunate soldier who had been flogged, and not as to the gene- ral purposes of the service. But he should like to have the opinions of military medical officers; he should wish to know what was the moral and physical effect of this system of punishment; he should like to know whether a man felt the stripes on his back as severely or more severely the first time, than he did on the fourth or fifth occasion. For his own part, he was of opinion, that by repeated punishment, the heart and the back of a soldier became alike—equally callous and hardened. They were therefore bound to consider to what good end these punishments tended in the way of example. If, then, this Committee were agreed to, they would have before them regimental surgeons, who would be closely examined, and who would be, of course, practical men. If this Committee were appointed, they would get at all the improvements which had been made in military discipline; and perhaps they would find that this system of diminishing the number of stripes had increased crime in the army. If such should be proved to be the fact, that would be a reason for the continuance of the former practice. But, on the other hand, those who advocated the abolition of flogging, contended that this was not the case. In the year 1834 the number of corporal punishments in the army was 257; in 1835 they were 246; and in the year 1836 they were diminished by nearly 100, the number being 163. This was a subject which, to dwell upon, would be bad taste; but let them exercise their ingenuity to devise some system for abolishing flogging in the time of peace. Many persons disliked separating punishments in time of peace from those which were inflicted in time of war. At all events, he hoped the Committee would be appointed, and that the effect would be to abolish in times of peace that system of punishment which they now condemned.

Mr. Gillon

supported the motion. If a better system of rewards as well as punishments were introduced into the army, a much better class of men would be found to enlist in that department of the King's service. There had lately been a brevet which cost the country a great deal; he complained that promotion was not extended to the ranks. He hoped the Committee would be appointed, and would extend their inquiries into the whole system of the discipline of the army.

Colonel Thompson

said, that having been alluded to as one of two, he was glad to take the opportunity to state, that he remained unaltered in the opinions he had formerly expressed. He was glad too to hear of the punishment by regimental court-martial being reduced to a hundred lashes, because it put him in mind that one-and-thirty years ago he voted for a hundred lashes at such a court-martial, and the gruff old captain that presided, asked him if he intended making a joke of his Majesty's service. He remembered also that about the same time, he and an officer now commanding one of the finest battalions in the army, refused to vote for corporal punishment in a particular case, and the next day they were directed by name in regimental orders, not to sit on any court-martial till further notice. If from these facts he might flatter himself that he had been in any degree in advance of the age, he was quite willing to take his chance of being proved in advance again, by stating broadly the two points he never intended to cease insisting on; first, that in an army which there had been time to discipline and organise, corporal punishment on service before the enemy was the bane and nuisance of the officer who wished to do his duty; and, secondly,—and he hoped hon. Gentlemen would not charge him with any solecism without thinking first,—that it would be much more easy to carry on the duty without corporal punishment after such punishment had been prohibited by law, than it was to do it now. Was it not melancholy, that when officers had an almost unlimited power of imprisonment, they should declare they could not carry on the duty without cutting the backs of those they ought to lead by the sentiments of devotion and attachment? Had not he been field-officer of the day in the garrison of Dublin, and seen men solitarily confined to the extent of human endurance—pale faces thrust out at holes to show the visiting officer that the culprit was alive—and was he to be told, or being told, to admit, that men of education and talent could not maintain order without the assistance of the lash? Mr. Abernethy had a story of a quaker patient, who, the less he ate, the fatter he grew; by something like the same process, he had always found, that the less soldiers were punished, the better they were. He had been lying in wait for an argument, which if it had not been used now, had been before, and probably would again. It had been thrown in the teeth of those officers who had objected to corporal punishment, that the levée en masse which had been sent to Spain, had not done without corporal punishment. Whether that had been necessary or not, he was not called on to give an opinion; but what the officers alluded to had stated, was, that in the British regular army, with all its appliances and means to boot, with its opportunities of gradually mixing new men with old, and training them by all the excitements of competition and emulation, the use of the lash might be dispensed with; and it was not fair to apply it to a different case. Finally, he saw a strong reason why the Committee asked for should be granted, notwithstanding there had been a Commission before. The country was tired of Commissions, where all the Commissioners were known to be of one way of thinking. Suppose that Major Fancourt and himself were to propose the formation of a Commission or a Committee, where all or nearly all were to be of the members of their own way of thinking. He did not imagine anybody would suggest that they would put down the thing that was not, or would send for anybody else to do it; but for all that, would hon. Gentlemen on the other side be content? If they would not, then he should hope to see the Committee granted.

Mr. Ewart

was astonished that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. Fergusson) should have employed the argument that military men were best qualified to judge of the present question. Throughout the whole course of the ameliorations effected in the criminal law, the judges had been opposed to any alteration, and they were the last persons who ought to be consulted on a reform of the jurisprudence of the country. Experience proved, that professional men were generally opposed to any change of the system which they had themselves administered, and under which they had been educated. One objection urged against the abolition of flogging, by the Commission which had made their Report last year was, that drunkenness was far more prevalent in the British army than any other. This vice, however, was gradually disappearing before the progress of education and the improvement of morals, and the army was becoming every year more temperate. It ought to be the object of a wise and en- lightened Administration to increase the comforts and elevate the character of the soldier, to inculcate better habits and higher principles; and this he was satisfied would prove to be an agency far more effectual for the maintenance of discipline than a cruel and degrading punishment. Let the House look at the effects of the military system adopted in Prussia and France. In those countries the greater proportion of the officers were promoted from the ranks, and advancement was uniformly the reward, not of political influence, but of diligent and faithful performance of duty, and thorough knowledge of the military profession. In those armies the punishment of flogging was now disused, and the consequence was, that the moral character of the soldiery had been improved, and their sense of honour heightened. If the feeling against the infliction of this barbarous punishment was daily growing stronger among the community in general, so also was it in the army. The detestation of it felt by the soldiers would increase with the spread of knowledge and the diffusion of education, and would in the end lead to its extinction. Indeed, it could hardly be otherwise, while the soldier retained the feelings of a man, for in no other profession was the humble aspirant shut out from honour and distinction, or driven to reconcile himself to the prospect of hopeless and unrewarded servitude. He hoped the House would consent to the appointment of a Committee, with a view to the substitution of a better system, more generous to the British soldier, and more worthy of the British nation.

Mr. Hume

remarked, that the right hon. Gentleman had cautioned the House against interfering, by any steps it might take on the present occasion, to impede the efforts made by the Commander-in-chief for the improvement of the military system; but the arguments of those, who thought with him on this question had been met by the same caution for the last twenty years, without leading to any substantive result. He had moved on the 2nd of April, 1833, a resolution in that House to restrict the infliction of corporal punishment to the offences of mutiny and drunkenness, which was lost by a majority of eleven, 140 voting for it, and 151 against it. It was intimated to him next day, when in his place, that the Commander-in-chief would issue an order in accordance with the feeling of the House on the subject. He adduced this fact to show, that, without the interference of the House, and the expression of its opinion, it was vain to expect the abolition, or even the mitigation, of the punishment. He should with great pleasure give his vote for the Committee; and he hoped, that the noble Lord, who was lately Governor-general of India, whom he was glad to see in his place, would also support that motion. The noble Lord (Lord W. Bentinck) had achieved a great triumph to the cause of humanity in abolishing this revolting torture in the native Indian army; and he appealed to the House, if Hindoos were exempted from the degradation, should the British soldier be compelled to submit to it. The direful prognostications of ruin and calamity from the change entertained both at the Horse Guards and the India House, had not been realised; it was found to be attended with beneficial results, and there was no reason to suppose, that fewer advantages would flow from it in an army so far superior to that of India in knowledge and intelligence, and surpassed by none on earth in the quality essential to the military character. He regretted that Ministers should obstinately refuse the inquiry which was asked; for he believed them to be ignorant of the real feeling of the people on this subject, and he could assure them, that resistance to inquiry would rather augment than diminish its force. He entreated his Majesty's Government to reconsider their determination, and to consent to the inquiry proposed, to which they would otherwise ere long be compelled to accede by the unanimous voice of the people.

Viscount Sandon

said, that it could not be supposed, that a Select Committee of the House would be able to collect a greater mass of information than the Commission appointed by his Majesty, or to deduce from it more accurate conclusions. That Commission had examined the commanding officer of almost every regiment in the service, and had investigated the subject with the greatest possible minuteness. Great stress had been laid on the Prussian military system, and the alleged beneficial effects which it produced. He was surprised that a system so utterly unfitted for the habits, manners, and feelings of the people of this country should be held up to the public as one worthy of being copied in its details; and he was still more surprised that hon. Members, who were zealous supporters of the principles which they styled liberal, should recommend to the adoption of the House a system which supposed, and which was inseparably connected with, an absolute Government. By the law of Prussia, every citizen was obliged, on arriving at the age of twenty-one, to serve in the army for a period of three years, and men of all ranks of society were obliged to enter the service as privates. Under such a system as this there could be no difficulty in finding in the ranks men of good character and education, accustomed to good society, and fit to take their place in the company of officers. But was such a system applicable to this country, were men in good circumstances prepared to encounter the toil and hardships of colonial service which the British soldier was doomed to undergo? Until this was found to be the case it would be vain to attempt to introduce such a system as that of Prussia in this country; and unless they were prepared to establish that system it would be impossible to carry into effect promotion from the ranks on an extensive scale. It was a mistake to suppose that corporal punishment was entirely abolished in Prussia. The soldiers of that army were divided into two classes, and those comprised in the second were liable to have that punishment inflicted. This distinction might perhaps be introduced with advantage into the British army, but promotion from the ranks was impossible without a total change of system. It had always been considered a safeguard to the constitution, that the officers of the army should be men of wealthy and distinguished family, that they should mingle in the best society, and should be imbued with those civil feelings which form the best guarantee that they will never turn their arms against the liberties of their fellow subjects. Nothing could be more dangerous than to have an army officered by men holding no other station in society but that which they derived from their profession, looking forward to promotion as the single object of their ambition, having no interest separate from that of their comrades, and regarding their commander with a feeling almost akin to devotion. Such a system as this, which prevailed in the continental nations, severed the army from the people and took away from its officers all community of interest with their countrymen. Though opposed to the great change in the government of the army which was now proposed, he hoped that Government would not overlook the recommendation of the Commissioners, of whom he had the honour to be one, who had expressed a very strong opinion against the frequent infliction of corporal punishment. He thought it desirable that Government should state how far they had carried into effect the recommendations of the Commissioners, who had also strongly advised the establishment of schools, libraries, and reading-rooms, in each regiment, and that encouragement should be held out to the men to employ their spare time usefully. The Commissioners had also recommended the separate confinement of military offenders, and the erection of prisons to contain them. The best substitute for the lash was imprisonment, and the Commissioners stated, that the greatest obstacle to its use was, that at present the soldiers were contaminated by the civil felons with whom they were mixed. He was anxious to know how far the wishes of the Commissioners had been attended to in this respect. The Commissioners had recommended that the amount of punishment inflicted, and the crimes for which it was to be inflicted, should be more clearly defined, and that its use should be restricted to aggravated cases of insubordination. They had also advised that more discretion should be vested in commanding officers to mitigate the sentence of regimental courts-martial, and more power to confer distinctions on the gallant and well-conducted soldier. His Majesty's Government, having adopted the report in the disagreeable measures which it recommended, were bound, in justice to the Commissioners, to act on those more gracious and agreeable parts of it, which advised the mitigation of this punishment, as well as the rewarding of faithful and meritorious service, and the improvement of the soldier's condition—steps which, he believed, would eventually lead to the entire extinction of flogging.

Mr. E. L. Bulwer

thought, that the noble Lord, the Member for Glasgow (Lord W. Bentinck), had settled this question when, in his government of India, he declared, that the native soldiers should not be subject to the degradation of corporal punishment. The question now was, not whether the English soldier should be more heavily and more severely punished than the soldiers of France or Prussia, but whether he should be continued liable to a degradation from which the Hindoos and Mussulmans of the British empire had been exempted. The noble Lord (Lord Sandon), the Member for Liverpool, had stated, that he considered it as a safeguard to the constitution, that the officers of the army should be members of high families. That might be true to a certain extent; but he thought the practice of appointing the members of high families alone, had been carried to too great an extent. If the punishment of flogging were abolished, additional facilities must necessarily be given to enable men to rise from the ranks, Mankind could be governed only by one of two principles, hope or fear. If fear were diminished, hope must be increased. If corporal punishment were abolished for offences, a prospect of advancement must be given to those who behaved well. He thought that some hon. Gentlemen who sat on that side of the House, were mistaken when they supposed that the system of punishment in the British army, was so much more harsh and terrible than the system adopted and acted upon in the armies of continental nations. It was true that there were many offences in the British army to which the punishment of the lash was attached; but in the French system there were not less than forty-eight offences liable to the punishment of death. But it must be remembered, that the punishment of flogging in the army was one to which the great mass of the people of England were ever inveterately opposed, and it therefore followed that it must be abolished. No mode of punishment could be long continued, if it went directly in the teeth of popular opinion. And he would ask the military Gentlemen present, whether the effect of the discussion that had taken place in that House upon the subject, had not been to strip the punishment of half its terrors, and thereby to weaken the discipline of the army? Could it be supposed, that the common soldiers reading the debates of that House, and finding that many Gentlemen who supported the present Administration, and by whose support alone the Administration could continue to exist, were averse from the punishment—would not be aware that their officers, rather than incur the odium and the responsibility of inflicting this unpopular punishment, would wink at many of their offences, and suffer them to pass by without notice? Under these circumstances, he was decidedly of opinion that the Government ought not to oppose the Committee moved for by the hon. and gallant Member for Barnstaple. He confessed that the question was an extremely difficult one, and one that ought to be gone into with great caution and great calmness. When flogging was proposed to be abolished, it became a matter of very serious consideration what punishment should be substituted for it. For his own part, he believed, that when flogging was altogether done away with, it would be necessary, in several cases, to adopt the punishment of shooting. But that was not to be taken as an argument against the abolition of the lash. The punishment of death was so great and terrible, that few men would be found hardy enough to commit the offences to which it was attached. Therefore, in the few instances in which it would be necessary, he would rather substitute the punishment of death than continue the miserable and degrading infliction of the lash—a mode of punishment wholly unfit to be continued amongst the freest people of the globe.

Viscount Howick

wished sincerely that the hon. Gentleman by whom this motion was brought forward, had explained a little more distinctly what was the precise object of it. He should like to know distinctly, whether it were only a renewal, in another shape, of the gallant Member's motion of last year for the immediate abolition of flogging in the army, or whether the gallant Member really conceived that before the House could make up its mind upon the subject, before it could arrive at a satisfactory decision upon this important question, further information and an additional collection of facts were required. If the latter were the gallant Member's object, if he really proposed the appointment of this Committee, not merely as an indirect means of getting a few additional votes to condemn the existing mode of punishment in the army, if he took this course on the ground that the House was not in possession of sufficient facts or sufficient information to enable it properly to decide the question, he could not help expressing the surprise he felt that in the last Session of Parliament no similar complaint was made. They heard nothing last year of the insufficiency of information before the House. The gallant Member himself and many other Gentlemen also seemed disposed to support his present motion; all argued the question upon the evidence taken before the Commission appointed by his Majesty, and all appeared to do so as if they felt that the facts of the case were fairly and distinctly before them, and that the House was in a condition to form a correct opinion upon the subject. He wished the gallant Member, therefore, to tell him distinctly why he had altered his opinion, and why he thought that the House was not now in a fit condition, without further inquiry and further information, to come to a right decision upon the matter. One ground of complaint was, that the Commission, whose Report was before them, had not been fairly appointed; that it was composed only of seven gentlemen, every one of whom was rather disposed to continue the existing mode of punishment. Why did not the gallant Member make that complaint when the Commission was originally appointed? He would remember that the Commission issued at the commencement of the Session, when his own political friends were in power, and when any suggestions from him as to the unsatisfactory composition of the commission would no doubt have been immediately attended to. But what real ground of complaint was there against the Commission? Had the gallant Member found any difficulty in stating before it all the arguments and facts upon which his opposition to the punishment of flogging was founded. He believed that every Gentleman opposed to the system had had a fair opportunity afforded to him of stating his views upon the subject. It was, besides, not correct to say that every gentleman who sat upon the commission was strongly opposed to the abolition of the punishment. One of them had been quite unable to make up his mind upon the subject; but the result of the inquiry convinced him that for the present, at least, the punishment of flogging could not with safety to the discipline of the army be abolished. As regarded the present motion, he confessed that whilst he regarded a Committee or a Commission as an admirable instrument for collecting facts and materials upon which the judgment of the House might be made up, he had never attached any great importance or great advantage either to one or the other, as a medium of controversial examination. Proceedings of that description were generally of a more vague, more unsatisfactory, and less convincing character than the arguments conducted either in the House, or through the medium of the public press. When facts were not in dispute, little good could possibly result from the appointment of a Committee; and no man he thought, would tell him that all the facts that could be elicited upon this subject had not been brought out either before the Commissioners, or in the various publications that had issued from the press. He granted that if Ministers rested their case upon the report of the Commission, the gallant Member would have to complain that it had not been composed of gentlemen of the same opinions with himself. If the House were bound to take the Report of the Commissioners as a thing conclusive in itself, like the verdict of a jury, there would no doubt be a fair ground for a further inquiry; but if the gallant Member would lay aside any feeling that he might be disposed to associate with the names of the Commissioners, and look to their report only for the value of the facts it contained, he would see that it furnished him with all the information he could possibly desire. An hon. Member who had spoken had said that he required a Committee for the purpose of enabling him to form an opinion upon this subject, because every one of them had declared that their minds were made up as to the expediency of abolishing the system. From these considerations he was warranted in coming to the conclusion, that this motion had in effect for its object the abolition of corporal punishment in the army. If this were so, then he would say that there was no form in which the question could have been mooted so inconvenient as the present; for the hon. Gentleman, while calling upon the House to come to a vote that would denounce the system of punishment in the army as a mischievous system, would still leave that system in full force. In the whole course of the present debate no hon. Gentleman had met him (Lord Howick) on the ground which he last year took—namely, that if they abolished corporal punishment, the discipline of the army could not be kept up with a less amount of pain. On the score of humanity, therefore, he did not conceive that much would be gained by changing the present system; for if they abolished corporal punishment they would be compelled to have recourse to the more awful punishment of death—an alternative which they were bound by all means to the utmost extent possible to avoid. It had been said that dismissal from the army would deter men from the commission of offences, and thus corporal punishment might be dispensed with; but experience had shown that the dread of dismissal was not an adequate motive to good conduct. It was absolutely necessary that there should exist some efficient method by which the system of plunder in the face of the enemy and in the territory of an ally might be checked. The argument that promotion would be effectual in preventing offences had been again urged; but hon. Gentlemen should bear in mind that in a time of peace promotion must necessarily be so slow that it could not be made available as a moral corrective. He had already obtained the sanction of the House to the introduction of the system of rewards in the army, and he entertained a very sanguine expectation that the result of such a system would be extremely beneficial. He agreed also in the propriety of the proposition that every facility should be given to the soldier to amuse and recreate himself consistently with a proper observance of discipline. There had been a frightful degree of mortality amongst the white troops on the western coast of Africa, and more especially amongst those troops who had been sent there as a punishment. Now, if the punishment of flogging was abolished in the army, they must in their penal code resort to the punishment of sending men to the condemned regiments. The noble Lord then read an extract from a medical report on the health of the troops on the western coast of Africa, with a view of showing the frightful state of the mortality amongst them, and more especially as regarded those men who were sent there as a punishment, for they became indifferent and careless as to their mode of living, well knowing, as they did, the fatal nature of the climate. In 1825, the strength of the white troops in the Western African colonies was 571, and out of that number there were not less than 441 deaths within the year. In 1826, the number of white troops in these colonies was 471, and the number of deaths in the year was 342. His hon. Friend, the Member for Finsbury, last year made a charge against an officer respecting the infliction of punishments, who was then out of the country. He said that Colonel Arthur, being anxious to add to the severity of the punishment imposed by a court-martial on a soldier, chose to be present at the infliction of the sentence, and ordered that the lashes should be inflicted by tap of drum, or at half-minute time. That officer had now returned to this country, and stated most distinctly that he had never attended the infliction of any punishment but when it was imposed in exact conformity with the army regulations, and he altogether denied the accuracy of the statement made by the hon. Gentleman. In addition to this, he had a number of documents from various individuals corroborative of the statement of this gallant officer. The noble Lord read three letters; the first was from a Captain Browne Willis, captain in the Royal Artillery, who commanded the artillery in Honduras from June, 1818, to 1824, and was directed to Sir Alexander Dickson. It stated that the writer, having read in The Times newspaper of the 16th of April, 1836, the statement of the hon. Member for Finsbury respecting the infliction of punishment on a soldier, of the name of Ingram, by the tap of drum, he wished to state that he was present at the punishment of this man, and he distinctly denied that it had been inflicted in a manner not conformable to the usual mode, or that there was any undue severity. The writer also stated, that he never saw punishment inflicted in the way described by the hon. Gentleman; and also, that it was notorious in the colony that Colonel Arthur was adverse to the infliction of corporal punishment, and that he never consented to it but with the greatest reluctance. The noble Lord stated that he had similar declarations from two other officers of the artillery who served at the time alluded to in the colony of Honduras. In conclusion, he would only add that he trusted that the House would not sanction the motion of the hon. Member for Barnstaple.

Mr. Thomas Duncombe

did not intend to find fault with the noble Lord for reading these letters. The noble Lord had told him about an hour ago that he intended to refer to the case, but he thought he should have some further notice on the subject. He did not feel any blame attached to himself, as he firmly believed that he was only stating the truth. He would remind the House of what took place last year on this point. The noble Lord and the right hon. the Judge-Advocate took credit to themselves for having reduced the number of lashes that could be inflicted in the army to 200. He then said, that he trusted that care would be taken that while the number of lashes was reduced, the punishment would be inflicted in the usual manner, and that the time should not be prolonged so as to add to the severity of the punishment. He then stated, that there were cases in the army of officers who protracted the time of punishment so as to increase its severity by prolonging the sufferings of the soldier; and he also stated, that Colonel Arthur had done so in Honduras, and he mentioned Colonel Bradley as his authority. He had laid on the table of the House a petition from the gallant officer he had just named, in which Colonel Arthur was charged with inflicting punishment in an unauthorised manner, and in a way calculated to prolong the sufferings of the soldiers. He had given notice of a motion founded on this petition, and he thought that it was rather unfair on the part of the noble Lord to endeavour to forestall the discussion on the subject. He waited until Colonel Arthur returned to this country, and he was now determined to proceed with the charges against him. Colonel Bradley, whose word could be taken as well as that of Colonel Arthur—and he wished that that gallant officer would be allowed to enter into his case before a Committee—Colonel Bradley had been ill-used by Colonel Arthur, and the shield of the Horse-Guards had been thrown over the latter officer in the most unjustifiable manner. He (Mr. T. Duncombe) was determined that one of these officers should go to the wall, and he had no hesitation in saying if Colonel Bradley had made a false statement he would not meet with support. But he believed that Colonel Arthur had flogged men in a most severe manner; and certainly he had been most unpopular in every colony in which he had been. He had received within the last few days a Van Diemen's Land newspaper, from which it appeared that Hobart-town was illuminated at the departure of Colonel Arthur. He meant on the 1st of June to move for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the allegations contained in the petition of Colonel Bradley; and then Colonel Arthur's friends would, he trusted, support the motion for inquiry. With regard to the question now immediately before the House, the right hon. the Judge-Advocate said, that corporal punishment was very nearly abolished in the army, and the only thing that would prevent that object being attained within a short time was the repetition of motions like the present; but he would ask his right hon. Friend whether he believed things would have been as described by the right hon. Gentleman, with regard to corporal punishment in the army, but for motions similar to the present? The right hon. Gentleman also said, that this motion cast a slur on the Commission that was appointed the year before last on this subject; but it ought not to be forgotten that all the measures of that Commission, except one, were favourable to corporal punishment, and that one Member had never given a vote. The public had no more confidence in that Commission than they had in the Committee now sitting up stairs to inquire into the working of the new poor-law; for in both instances the selection of those appointed had been all on one side. He trusted that the sense of the House would be decidedly in favour of the motion of his hon. Friend for the appointment of a Committee. Before he sat down he would mention a circumstance that had been narrated to him by an officer of the fifteenth hussars. That Gentleman told him that he had seen a man flogged two or three times who had been guilty of no crime whatever except being intoxicated on payday [Hear]. Hon. Members cried "Hear!" but if this were to be a ground for flogging, he would tell them that he should like to see every Member of that House flogged who was guilty of the same breach of propriety. The last time but one this man was brought out, the punishment was increased, and he received it in the most heroic manner, not giving utterance to a single groan or cry, but at length he fainted, and was taken down from the triangle and carried to the hospital. The adjutant of the regiment then ordered that a new cat should be made with larger knots, with which he said that he was satisfied that he would make the man feel, [Name name]. He would give the name before the Committee, and would prove his case. The man was again flogged, and when taken down from the halberts he was found to be insane, and he remained a maniac. [Name]. He was sure when the name of the officer who made this statement to him was mentioned it would satisfy hon. Gentlemen, and he trusted that a Committee would be appointed before which he could call this officer. [Name]. No, he would not name the parties, but would prove his case before the Committee. The case he alluded to occurred twenty years ago.

Viscount Howick,

in explanation, stated that the petition of Colonel Bradley was not confined to the question of the infliction of undue punishment, but embraced a variety of matters.

Mr. Bridgeman

knew many cases in which men had been flogged without having committed any offence. He knew of one case in which a man who was sentenced to be flogged said, that he should never survive it, and on being taken down and conveyed to the hospital, he took an opportunity of cutting his throat. He trusted that the House would sanction the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the whole subject.

Sir George Grey

felt himself bound to protest against the course adopted by the hon. Member for Finsbury in endeavouring to raise a prejudice against Colonel Arthur, in anticipation of the motion which the hon. Member had given notice of for the 1st., of June, and this, too, by the statement of circumstances which he (Sir G. Grey) fully believed could not be substantiated by evidence, and which were, indeed, altogether at variance with facts within his knowledge. The conduct of Colonel Arthur in Van Diemen's Land had been such as to elicit the warm thanks of each successive Colonial Secretary, and to procure for the gallant officer the esteem, nay, the affection of a great majority of the colonists, an esteem and affection unequivocally shown in the fact that a large subscription had been raised among the colonists for the purchase of a piece of plate, to be presented, in the name of the colony, to Colonel Arthur. It was well understood that Colonel Arthur was fully prepared to rebut every charge that had been made against him, and the only reason that the gallant officer had not already come forward to meet these charges in person was the very sufficient one, that on his landing at Plymouth he had been attacked by a dangerous illness, which had confined him to his apartments at Plymouth ever since.

Mr. T. Duncombe

begged to observe that the discussion had not originated with him.

Sir Henry Hardinge

entirely differed from the hon. Member for Finsbury. So far from considering it unfair on the part of the noble Lord to read those letters he thought it was no more than an act of duty. The statements of the hon. Gentleman with respect to Colonel Arthur were not characterised by that candour which he should have expected from him. The hon. Member found fault with the noble Lord for entering into any defence of Colonel Arthur's conduct, and complained of it as unfair. The hon. Member did not seem to remember that the petition presented by him contained six whole pages of attack upon that gallant officer, having reference, not merely to the subject of flogging, but embracing all the circumstances of a dispute of twenty years' standing between Colonel Arthur and Colonel Bradley, which originated at Honduras. That dispute had been four or five times the subject of discussion in that House. It was under consideration when Mr. Ellice was Secretary at War, when Sir John Hobhouse held the same situation—and upon all those occasions, whether the Whigs or Tories were in office, the conclusion come to was that Colonel Bradley had no case. The petition presented by the hon. Member for Finsbury merely stated that, in Colonel Bradley's opinion, Colonel Arthur, in the infliction of punishment at Honduras, acted with cruelty and inhumanity; but he mentioned no names, he stated no facts, he went into no detail of circumstances, he did not even say in what year it occurred. Now, was that a fair way of treating a gallant and meritorious officer, who had so long served the public faithfully and efficiently? Were his name and character to be thus brought before the public merely on account of a quarrel of twenty years' standing? The officer in command of the artillery at the time the punishment was inflicted at Honduras, and the gunners who witnessed the transaction, stated distinctly in their communications to the noble Lord (Lord Howick) that the punishment was inflicted in the usual way, without any circumstance of aggravation or of peculiar severity. From ail he knew and heard of Colonel Arthur it was his thorough conviction that no case could be made out against him. He did not entertain the smallest doubt that he performed his duties ably and honourably, and beneficially to the country, in the place where he was last employed, as well as at Honduras. What more could Colonel Arthur do, as soon as he heard such charges made against him, than state his readiness to meet any inquiry? Let a Committee be appointed, and he had no doubt they would come to the same opinion of Colonel Arthur's conduct and character as that he now entertained himself. With regard to the subject immediately before the House, he had heard no sufficient reasons stated for the appointment of a Committee. The Report of the Commissioners upon the subject was as full as it could be, and he did not see how any further information of the least importance could be obtained by further inquiry. Seventy-one individuals had given their evidence before the Commission, besides sixty or seventy military officers—130 altogether were examined. He did not see, after this, how any further information was to be obtained. General officers, field-officers, and non-commissioned officers and privates were examined, clergymen also were examined, and one of them (a Presbyterian clergyman) gave evidence which was perhaps the most valuable of all that had come before the Commissioners. The hon. Member for Barnstaple and the hon. Member for Hull (Colonel Thompson) were the only two witnesses who were of opinion that flogging in the army might be done away with altogether. Even the hon. Member for Middlesex himself (Mr. Hume) gave it as his opinion that corporal punishment must be retained in the field. Was he right or not in this interpretation of the hon. Member's evidence? [Mr. Hume nodded assent.] Well, the hon. Member admitted the necessity of it in the field, but still in the last Session the hon. Member voted for a total abolition. He did not see how the hon. Member for Middlesex could reconcile his evidence and his vote. As far as he could collect from the discussion there were only three substitutes proposed for corporal punishment—dismissal, penal companies, and shooting. It had been said that dismissal from the service was found to answer in the police force, and it was very properly observed that there it might answer well enough as the superior pay rendered dismissal a punishment of considerable severity. But even in the police force with such a check as this it had been found necessary to dismiss four thousand men. It was absurd to talk of applying that principle to the army. With respect to penal companies they were found totally inefficient as a substitute for corporal punishment, and this was fully proved from experience at Sierra Leone. Marshal Soult did not approve of penal companies. The only remaining substitute was death, and it was admitted by the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Bulwer) that the punishment of shooting must be considerably increased in the army if corporal punishment was done away with. For his part he must confess that however painful, however revolting, to the feelings, flogging might be, he much preferred it as a punishment to that of death. The distinguished poet, Mr. Campbell, in his Letters from the South, recently published, made some observations upon this subject, which he would recommend to the attention of Gentlemen who spoke so lightly of the punishment of shooting. Mr. Campbell said he found upon inquiry that there was more drunkenness in the French than in the English army, and from what he observed he came to the conclusion that to avoid the necessity of a more severe punishment, flogging might occasionally be necessary. He found that in the French army at Algiers one man a month was shot. However painful to his feelings he was inclined to see one instance of the punishment of death inflicted in this way. He had an opportunity of witnessing it in the case of a man who was to be shot for desertion. Before the punishment was inflicted, his comrades being drawn up round him, he declared that in deserting, Jus object was not to go over to the enemy, out to go to Italy to see his father and mother. Mr. Campbell described the horror of the scene in terms which he could not now call to mind, and exclaimed against the hardship of giving to men the power of depriving their fellow-man of life. He conversed with the French general upon the subject, and observed to him that, however terrible it might appear to him, perhaps it was not more revolting to French soldiers than flogging might be. "Ah!" said the distinguished officer whom he addressed, "do not think so; this man would very willingly have his punishment commuted for the infliction of 300 lashes." From this anecdote he must conclude that the gallant officer alluded to preferred the English system of corporal punishment to that of shooting. He had so often before delivered his opinion upon the subject in that House that he would not go into it again upon this occasion. He felt convinced that it would be impossible to preserve discipline in the army if the power was abolished. This being his opinion he expressed it frankly and openly, for he never would court popularity at the expense of sincerity. If the present motion was agreed to, the result would be to convert that House into a standing Committee to inquire into this subject year after year.

Sir C. Dalbiac

said, the bravery displayed by the King's troops in the North of Spain was a striking illustration of the excellent effect of a system of discipline such as that now practised in our army. The hon. and gallant Officer proceeded to observe, in the midst of considerable confusion caused by the conversation which prevailed in the House, that he thought the same principle ought to apply to the navy and the marines as to the army; it appeared, however, that the abolition of flogging in the navy was a question which had been given up, even by the advocates of the present motion. He referred to the Report of the Criminal Law Commissioners, which stated that Dr. Starkie had given it as his opinion that corporal punishment might properly be inflicted in many cases of larceny and other offences. Now, if this punishment were to be left in the hands of the officers of the law, he could not see why high officers in the army should be precluded from resorting to it. His hon. and gallant Friend when before the Commission on military punishments, made reference to our particular regiment—he begged to ask him whether that regiment was the 12th Dragoons which he (Sir C. Dalbiac) took put to Bombay in the year 1822.

Major Fancourt

declined to particularise the regiment.

Captain Polhill

said, that having passed a considerable period of his life in the army, he felt bound to say that he did not know how the power of inflicting corporal punishment could be abolished altogether without having recourse to a punishment much more awful, and much more serious to the offender, namely, that of death. He knew of cases within his own experience where, in marching regiments, but for corporal punishments being available that of shooting must have been inflicted. The hon. and gallant Member then related the case of a soldier of his own regiment who had been flogged, and who had afterwards turned out one of the best conducted men in the regiment; and concluded by declaring his opinion that a good soldier need never fear the lash.

The House divided on the original motion:—Ayes 167; Noes 72: Majority 95.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Sir C. Eaton, R. J.
Alford, Viscount Egerton, Lord F.
Angerstein, John Elley, Sir John
Archdall, M. Ferguson, George
Ashley, Visc. Fergusson, R. C.
Bagot, hon. W. Fielden, William
Baillie, Hugh D. Finch, George
Balfour, T. Follett, Sir W.
Barclay, Charles Forbes, William
Baring, Francis T. Forster, hon. G.
Baring, H. Bingham Forster, Charles S.
Beckett, Sir J. Gladstone, T.
Berkeley, hon. C. Gladstone, Wm. E.
Biddulph, R. Gordon, Robert
Blackstone, W. S. Gordon, hon. Captain
Bolling, W. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Bonham, R. Francis Goulburn, Sergeant
Borthwick, Peter Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Bowles, G. R. Grant, hon. Col.
Bradshaw, James Green, T.
Bramston, T. W. Grey, Sir George
Brownrigg, S. Grimston, Visc.
Bruce, Lord E. Grimston, hon. E. H.
Buller, Edward Hamilton, Lord C.
Buller, Sir J. Hanmer, Henry
Byng, George Harcourt, G. S.
Campbell, Sir J. Hardinge, Sir H.
Chandos, Marquess of Hay, Sir Andrew L.
Chetwynd, Captain Herries, right hon. J.
Chichester, Arthur Hillsborough, Earl of
Clerk, Sir G. Hope, James
Clive, hon. R. H. Hotham, Lord
Codrington, C. W. Houldsworth, T.
Codrington, Sir E. Houstoun, George
Colborne, N. W. Howard, Philip H.
Cole, Visc. Howick, Viscount
Compton, H. C. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Coote, Sir C. Jermyn, Earl
Copeland, W. C. Jones, Wilson
Corry, hon. H. Jones, Theobald
Cripps, J. Kerrison, Sir Edw.
Dalbiac, Sir C. Kirk, P.
Dalmeny, Lord Knight, H. Gally
Dick, Quintin Labouchere, H.
Donkin, Sir R. Law, hon. Charles E.
Duffield, Thomas Lawson, Andrew
Dunbar, G. Lees, John P.
Duncombe, hon. W. Lefevre, Charles S.
Duncombe, hon. A. Lennox, Lord G.
Dundas, hon. T. Lennox, Lord A.
Dundas, J. D. Leveson, Lord
Eastnor, Visc. Lewis, David
Lowther, J. H. Scott, Sir E. D.
Lygon, General Seymour, Lord
Mackinnon, W. A. Sharpe, General
Maclean, Donald Sheppard, Thomas
Mahon, Visc. Shirley, E. J.
Maule, hon. F. Sibthorp, Col.
Morpeth, Viscount Smith, R. V.
Norreys, Lord Somerset, Lord G.
Ossulston, Lord Speirs, A.
Paget, Frederick Stanley, E. J.
Palmer, Robert Stanley, Edward
Palmer, George Stewart, John
Palmerston, Visc. Stewart, V.
Parker, John Sturt, H. C.
Patten, J. W. Thomas, Colonel
Pechell, Captain Townley, R. G.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Troubridge, Sir T.
Peel, Jonathan Twiss, Horace
Percival, Colonel Vere, Sir C. B.
Polhill, F. Wilbraham, hon. B.
Pollock, Sir F. Wilde, Sergeant
Powell, Col. Williams, Robert
Price, S. G. Williamson, Sir H.
Rice, rt. hon. T. S. Winnington, H.
Richards, Richard Wood, Colonel T.
Rickford, W. Wynn, rt. hon. C. W.
Rolfe, Sir Robert M. Yorke, E. T.
Ross, Charles Young, George F.
Russell, Charles Young, J.
Russell, Lord John Young, Sir W.
Sanderson, R. TELLERS.
Sandon, Viscount Steuart, R.
Scarlett, hon. R. Wood, Charles
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Hastie, Archibald
Bagshaw, John Hindley, C.
Barnard, Edward G. Hume, J.
Bellew, R. M. Humphery, J.
Bewes, T. Hutt, W.
Blunt, Sir C. Johnston, Andrew
Bowes, John Leader, John
Brady, Denis C. Lennard, T B.
Bridgman, Hewitt Lynch, Andrew H.
Brodie, W, B. Macnamara, Major
Brotherton, J. Molesworth, Sir W.
Buller Charles Morrison, J.
Bulwer, Edw. L. Pattison, James
Bulwer, H. L. Pease, Joseph
Butler, hon. P. Philips, Mark
Chalmers, P. Poulter, John Sayer
Chapman, M. L. Ramsbottom, J.
Chichester, J. P. Richards, John
Collins, William Robinson, G. R.
D'Eyncourt, C. T. Roche, Wm.
Duncombe, Thomas Ruthven, Edward
Elphinstone, H. Smith, Benjamin
Etwall, R. Stuart, Lord D.
Ewart, W. Strickland, Sir G.
Farrant, Robert Talfourd, Sergeant
Fort, John Tancred, H. W.
Freshfield, J. W. Thompson, Ald.
Gillon, Wm. Downe Thompson, Colonel
Goring, H. D. Thornley, T.
Grote, George Trevor, hon. A.
Hall, B. Tulk, C. A.
Harvey, D. W. Villiers, Charles P.
Walker, R. Wilmot, Sir J. F.
Warburton, H. Wood, Alderman
Wason, Rigby
Whalley, Sir S. TELLERS.
Wilks, J. Fancourt, Major
Williams, William Boldero, Henry Geo.
For the Motion. Against.
W. Tooke. C. Baring Wall.

The Mutiny Bill went through Committee.