§ The Report of the Committee of Supply was brought up, and several Resolutions were agreed to.
§ On the Resolution granting a sum for defraying the charge of Widows' Pensions, and the question that the House agreed on the said Resolution,
rose pursuant to notice to move for a copy of any letter or correspondence which had passed between the Secretary at War and the widow of the late Lieutenant Colonel David Lynar Fawcett, C.B., relative to the withholding of her Pension. Before doing so, he said he wished to return thanks to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary at War for the prompt courtesy and kindness with which he had received his request on a late occasion, and at the same time to express a hope, that however the subject which he was about to bring before the House might suffer from being committed to his hands, when there were so many more able and experienced Members on either side of the House, it would at least be discussed in that spirit of good temper and moderation which, more than any other, it pre-eminently demanded. It would first be his duty to recall to the attention of the House the question put on a former evening by the hon. Member for Truro, to the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury. The House would no doubt very forcibly remember that the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion took credit to his Government for having (to use the right hon. Baronet's own words) "exerted their legitimate influence, as far as they could, against the practice of Duelling by refusing a pension to the widow of an officer of great military reputation, who had distinguished himself in the service of his country, but who had unfortunately fallen in a duel." He begged also to remark, that the right hon. Baronet in making that declaration, had urged no special circumstances as affording ground for refusing this particular Pension; the credit he claimed for the Government was simply discouraging duelling. ["No, no."] If he was misstating, the right hon. Gentleman would, no doubt, set him right. When he heard this 802 volunteer declaration of the right hon. Baronet, he felt astonished, not so much on account of the manifest injustice of the act itself, as on account of the credit that was taken for its performance. On further inquiry, he was still more astonished to learn that precedents were adduced in support of this mode of proceeding. He had himself made a close and diligent search, and he had not been successful in a single instance in finding a precedent. It was true that in the year 1817, when the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was Secretary at War, an instance occurred of the refusal of a Pension to the widow of an officer who committed suicide; but he would leave it to the House to decide whether any analogy existed between that case and the one he was now bringing before them. It was not his intention, on the present occasion, to raise the question of Duelling generally. Where a majority of the Members of that House were so ready to follow in the footsteps of Pitt and Fox in at least one respect—that of the appeal to the duel—it was not likely that such a question could be discussed with any hope of a satisfactory result. Therefore, if he might advise his hon. Friend (Mr. Turner) who had a notice on the paper on the subject of duelling for Thursday next, he would say, that he would pursue a prudent course if he were to withdraw his notice, and, turning his attention more to the details of the subject, endeavour to bring in a Bill by which the relations of a deceased in a duel might come on the survivor for compensation. This he believed was the law of France, and in Scotland the same law existed under the technical name of "assythment." By adopting this course the hon. Member might effect a practical good with respect to Duelling, which no mere general resolution would ever bring about. The right hon. and gallant Officer had told the House the other night, that by a clause in the Mutiny Act any officer sending or conveying a challenge to another would be liable to a court-martial, and to be cashiered if convicted. [The hon. Member here read the terms of the clause in question, which were to the effect that the officer "giving, sending, conveying, or promoting" a challenge, should be liable to be cashiered on conviction by a court-martial, or suffer such other punishment according to the nature of the of- 803 fence as the judgment of the court-martial might award.] Now, he took upon himself to say, that this clause was now entirely a dead letter; and as far as regarded his own experience of the Army, he could say that no officers in an ordinary case would refuse a challenge, and that he had not known of any instance of either the conveyer or promoter of a challenge having been brought before a court-martial. There was, he believed, one instance of an officer having in the year 1824 been deprived of his half-pay for having fought a duel. That was the case of Ensign Battier; but his offence was not so much fighting a duel as fighting his superior officer, and in a General Order, issued that year from the Horse Guards the noble Marquess who was his antagonist was blamed for fighting a duel with his inferior officer. The clause referred to by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was practically therefore a dead letter. It was impossible for an officer now to submit to insult without sending a challenge; and he (Captain Bernal) held in his hand a very remarkable document which was at once conclusive on the subject. It was a letter written by an individual possessing the very highest military reputation—of the highest character in every sense of the word, and in it the writer said:—Is a Gentleman who happens to be the King's Minister to submit to be insulted by any Gentleman who thinks proper to attribute to him disgraceful or criminal motives for his conduct as an individual? I cannot doubt of the decision which I ought to make on this question. Your Lordship is alone responsible for the consequences. I now call upon your Lordship to give me that satisfaction for your conduct which a Gentleman has a right to require, and which a Gentleman never refuses to give.That letter was signed "Wellington." It was needless for him to remind the House that that noble and distinguished individual now held the command at the Horse Guards. Nor was it perhaps necessary to remind them that the Gentleman who conveyed that letter now ably filled the office of Secretary at War. And yet, with such acts, by such high authorities before them, they were told of the exertion of legitimate influence to discourage Duelling, and there was a boast of depriving an unfortunate widow of her pension, the widow too of a man who probably thought that in sending a challenge he was "making that request which no gen- 804 tleman would refuse to accede to, and which every gentleman ought to make." He refrained from referring to other painful cases where fatal consequences had ensued, not from the absence of examples, but from the consideration of the feelings of the parties concerned. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman would immediately recognize the case of a distinguished Officer, now a Major of a cavalry regiment in India, who had been concerned in a duel which unfortunately proved fatal. The right hon. and gallant Officer had said the other night that there was no instance of an officer being cashiered for not fighting a duel. He (Captain Bernal) was not aware whether an officer had ever been cashiered, but in 1818 there was an instance (he refrained for obvious reasons from mentioning names) of a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Marines being tried by a court-martial "for neglecting to demand the honourable adjustment of a quarrel." And very recently an ensign in the 1st Bombay European Regiment was tried for conduct unbecoming an officer, because he had received a blow without resorting to those means of redress which were open to him. He was sentenced to be deprived of his rank and pay for six months. Of another case he (Captain Bernal) could speak from his own knowledge. An officer, after having been insulted, refused to fight a duel and was driven out of his regiment. He was more inexperienced when he took part in that transaction than at present, but he did not mean now to shrink from the part he took, nor did he hesitate to avow the sentiments which then actuated him. He believed he had now said enough to show what anomalies there were in the system. If an officer refused to take part in a duel he was judged and condemned accordingly —if he took part in one and his antagonist fell, he was liable to be tried for his life, and, as if to fill up the measure of vengeance, his widow was after his death liable to be deprived of her pension. With regard to the subject of pensions of this sort there appeared to be considerable misapprehension. Hon. Gentlemen appeared to think that widows had a right to pensions. Under correction, he asserted his belief that widows had no such right. If a widow would declare that she was not left in competent circumstances, and satisfied the Treasury as to other matters, there was no reason to suppose that a pension would be declined. In the present case, how- 805 ever, he wished to remind hon. Gentlemen on both sides that had Colonel Fawcett sold his commission a week before he died the sum of 3,200l. would have been at his widow's disposal; so that the unfortunate lady had not only been deprived of her pension, but also of the capital which her husband had embarked in the service. He wished also to call the attention of the House to the circumstances that had occurred on the late trials in Ireland, and, in doing so, he begged to disclaim all desire to cast unworthy taunts on the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Smith). Whatever difference of opinion might be entertained as to other parts of the right hon. Gentleman's conduct, the manly way in which be had come to that House and explained the circumstances of the transaction alluded to was sufficient to obliterate all feeling which might at first have been entertained. But he was, nevertheless at a loss to understand how the right hon. Baronet could reconcile it to himself to treat the affair of the Irish Attorney General as a mere breach of decorum, while in the case of Colonel Fawcett (and he, too, a military officer) he was going the length of depriving the widow of her pension.Dat veniam corvis, vexat censura columbas.For that lady to have lost her husband by the hand of her brother-in-law was surely cruel suffering enough without this additional aggravation; and now that the seconds had been acquitted, and still held commissions in the service, surely it savoured rather of persecution to withhold a paltry pension from a wretched and aggrieved woman. He could assure the House that he had no knowledge of or acquaintance with the lady in question; but he called on the House to treat her case with kind consideration, and he still could not help entertaining a lively hope that the right hon. Gentleman, whose character for courage was only equalled by his reputation for humanity, would, on further reflection, be inclined not to withdraw this pension, but to grant it to the widow of a man who, in the words of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, "was a man of great military reputation, who had distinguished himself in the service of his country." The hon. Member concluded by moving for the papers.
§ Sir H Hardinge
would endeavour 806 to follow the example of the gallant Officer, and make the remarks he should offer to the House with the same excellent temper and good feeling which the gallant Officer had shown in introducing his Motion. He felt called upon to justify to the House the decision which he, in the exercise of the responsibility and discretion with which he was entrusted by virtue of his office, had formed, and which had been subsequently confirmed by his right hon. Friend. He might, however, at the outset, be allowed to say that in the exercise of that responsibility and discretion, he had been influenced by special circumstances, and not, as the hon. and gallant Officer supposed, by any direct or general rule; on the contrary, he had been actuated by the consideration that there were circumstances so unjustifiable in this duel as to require the Government to show as much discouragement and as marked a displeasure as possible. He would inform the House what had taken place. In September he had received a communication from the Army agent, asking for a pension for Mrs. Fawcett. He sent to the agent—not a letter, because at the time, he desired not to record his opinion of the circumstances out of which the application had arisen—but a communication, informing him that in his (Sir H. Hardinge's) opinion, it was a case in which a pension could not be recommended by him; but, under all the circumstances of the case, he recommended the agent through his private secretary not to press his application at that time. In the course of a month he received another letter from the agent withdrawing the first application. He did this, as he had already said, in order that the case of Lieutenant Munro, who was then understood to be about to take his trial, might not be prejudiced from any record of his that he considered the duel unjustifiable; and, not wishing to prejudice the case, he thought it best to take the course he had stated—not to make any record of his reasons for withholding the pension, but merely stating to the widow, that under all the circumstances, he thought the case was one in which pension ought not to be granted. Now, with regard to what passed between him and his right hon. Friend; his right hon. Friend wrote to him upon the subject of Mr. Munro from the country, asking him when steps had been taken to supersede that officer? His (Sir H. Hardinge's) answer was, that he understood expectations were held not by the friends of Mr. 807 Munro that in a month or two that gentleman would surrender and take his trial. This was subsequent to his decision upon the application of Mrs. Fawcett. Expecting that Mr. Munro would take his trial, he thought it would be equally prejudging his case if he had been superseded by the Horse Guards previous to his taking his trial; and he further stated that he would confer with the Commander-in-chief on the subject; but he at the same time stated to his right hon. Friend, that considering the near relationship of the parties, he had taken the step of informing the agent that he did not think he should be justified in recommending that a pension should be given to Mrs. Fawcett. In that decision his right hon. Friend ultimately concurred. Therefore the gallant Officer (Captain Bernal) would see that the refusal of the pension rested upon special grounds, and not on any general rule. He would now state to the House what was the usual practice of the War Office in regard to granting pensions to the widows of officers who fell in duels. And as illustrating that practice, he would state a case that had occurred. In 1829, when he had the honour to hold the office of Secretary at War, a duel between two officers, which terminated fatally in the case of one of them, occurred in Ceylon; the circumstance was reported in due course to him, and the claim of the widow of the officer who had fallen came before him for consideration. He found the report he had received from Ceylon was not sufficient to give him a perfect knowledge of the merits of the case, and he therefore referred it back for further particulars. He (Sir H. Hardinge) left office in 1830, before the answer from Ceylon was received. The noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) who had preceded him in that office, in reference to the case of the widow of an officer who had committed self-destruction at a moment of temporary insanity, stated his opinion in a Minute in 1826:—That the case of an officer who lost his life by his own act, was the same as that of an officer killed in a duel; the widow had no claim to the pension, but the case must be governed by its own special circumstances.That was the precedent to which he had referred in 1829, and after expressing some dissatisfaction as to the insufficiency of the report from Ceylon, he made a Minute dated December, 1829—having the Minute of the noble Lord before him at the time—which was as follows:— 808The Secretary-at-War (Sir H. Hardinge) must defer coming to any decision on the case submitted to him, in the absence of information as to the conduct of the parties, and the special circumstances of the duel. The claim of the widow to a pension was derived from the public services of the husband, and not from circumstances of compassion. If the husband lost his life in a private or personal quarrel, unless the circumstances admitted of palliation, the widow would not be entitled to a pension—but making all due allowance for custom and prejudice, as regards Duelling, if the Secretary-at-War can recommend the granting of the pension, he will exercise his discretion in favour of the widow.He had been unable to decide, from the absence of sufficient information, up to the period at which he left office. In the year 1830 it would be remembered he was succeeded by Mr. Wynn as Secretary-at-War, and when the case came before that right hon. Gentleman, he referred to the Minutes which had been made by him Sir H. Hardinge and Lord Palmerston; and an answer having been in the mean time received from the General commanding in Ceylon as to the facts of the case, Mr. Wynn made a Minute, which was to this effect—"That, as there were no circumstances of palliation, he must on the principle laid down by Sir Henry Hardinge and Lord Palmerston, negative the application." And accordingly, a letter was written to the lady, informing her that her application for the pension could not be granted. He (Sir H. Hardinge) thought he had now shown that in certain cases, when an application was made for the pension by the widow of any officer who had fallen in a duel, and circumstances of palliation could be brought forward, the Government were not disposed to refuse to give to such an application due consideration. But looking further to those cases in which pensions had actually been granted, he found a case in which the circumstances attending the affair were still more unfortunate than in that now under consideration. He alluded to the case in which Captain Boyd lost his life in a duel with Major Campbell. In that case, on its being proved to the satisfaction of the Government, that Captain Boyd had been forced into the duel, that the pistols had been actually forced into his hand, and that there were circumstances of palliation, they at once accorded the pension to his widow. Now, he had brought forward two cases—one decided by Mr. Wynn, in which no pension had been granted, because no circumstances of palliation could be shown; and 809 another, which had been decided in 1807, or 1808, in which the Government had granted the pension, there being circumstances of palliation. He now came to the case of Mrs. Fawcett. His noble Friend, the Commander-in-chief, during the recess, had been anxious to consider the subject with the view of devising, if possible, some means by which the practice of duelling in the Army might be discouraged and prevented. Being also engaged in that investigation, and taking the circumstances of Mrs. Fawcett's case as they appeared before him—judging from the words of the opinions of previous Secretaries of War, and judging as a person filling the office he had the honour to hold would be supposed to judge, it did appear to him, that under all the circumstances of the case, it was impossible for him to recommend, that the pension should be granted to Mrs. Fawcett. Looking at the near relationship which had existed between the principals in the duel, and to the fact that no insult had been given which might not have been explained away—no difference which might not have been adjusted without detracting from the honour of either party—for he believed nothing more had passed than the one party saying to the other, "your manner and language are so unpleasant that you had better leave the room"—seeing that the insult was so very trifling as to afford no palliation, no justification for two men so nearly allied as brothers-in-law to go out and fight a duel—and Colonel Fawcett being a man of distinguished courage and distinction in the service, recently displayed in China, could have had no excuse for going out so readily to shoot his brother-in-law. Looking at all those circumstances, his opinion had been from the first, and was still, that this was a case in which the pension ought not to be granted. Although he had a due respect for the services of Colonel Fawcett, he could not bring himself to believe that it was within the province of his discretion to recommend the case as one deserving of favourable consideration. But it should not be forgotten that the pension of the widow was not granted as a mere matter of right, or upon consideration of whether the services performed by the husband entitled her to it, but, also upon the circumstances attending his death; for instance, if killed in action, a double pension was awarded, while, on the other hand, circumstances might arise on the death of the husband to deprive a widow of her 810 pension altogether. In the case of an officer whose public accounts were involved, or who had been guilty of embezzlement, no pension would be given to his widow. Special grounds, therefore, would be sufficient either to give or refuse a pension. He could assure the House that he had, in dealing with the present case, desired to consider it in the most liberal point of view, but, nevertheless, he did not see how he could have made an exception in regard to it. He had, after due consideration, come to a decision on the subject, and in that decision the Government concurred. He was confident, too, that his decision was the correct one, and that it would go far to discourage a repetition of similar proceedings under such unjustifiable circumstances. He felt that he had exercised a sound discretion in the matter, and he was sorry to inform the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Bernal) that he had heard nothing to induce him to alter his determination, and by that determination be meant to stand. There were numerous cases in which the claims for pensions, on behalf of officers' widows, had been admitted; but in these, also, special circumstances existed. When the British Army was on the Continent, it was no uncommon occurrence for four or five duels to occur in the course of a single day. Officers in Her Majesty's service, dressed in their uniform, were often insulted by foreign officers, and compelled to fight, and if any officer's widow, whose husband had been thus killed in a duel, was to apply for a pension, it was justifiable to grant her pension in a case where the officer had been forced to fight in defence of his uniform, and the service to which he belonged. He thought, then, be had shown that the exercise of a discretion in these matters was a part of the duty of the Secretary at War. The hon. and gallant Officer had said, that he could not admit any distinction in the granting of pensions to officer's widows, on the ground that the husband lied fallen in a duel, when very high military authorities had set examples of duelling. The hon. and gallant Officer had stated that Lord Londonderry had fought with an officer of lower rank than himself, and that no punishment had followed. But Lord Londonderry, it must be remembered, fought an officer who was, at the time, on half-pay, and not, therefore, amenable to military law—and the noble Lord fought him, not as an officer, but on the same condition as he would have felt bound to give a meeting to any other gentleman. And in 811 the case of the Duke of Wellington, the person with whom the noble Duke fought, was another noble Lord not in the Army. And let the House distinctly understand, that it was no part of the military code to deprive an officer of the right to demand or give satisfaction, in case of a difference with a person not in the Army—in the case of a difference in which the vindication of his character required such a course to be taken. With regard to the statement that no superior officer had been dismissed for being engaged in a duel, he would remind him that General Burton, who fought an officer on full pay, was dismissed. The hon. and gallant Officer had also spoken of the case of a colonel of Marines, who had been engaged in a duel. In that case the officer had submitted to repeated insults directed against him for a long period, and at length, on those insults being reported by another officer of Marines, he found it was impossible to avoid noticing them, and in that case the circumstances were considered by the authorities so bad, that one officer was dismissed the service, and the other reduced to half-pay. He had a great desire to discourage and suppress the practice of duelling, so far as it could be done, and Her Majesty's Government had been occupied during the recess with the consideration of means to put a stop to it. And he was now prepared to state what he was not in a condition to announce on a former evening, when the subject was under discussion, for he had not at that time the official sanction of Her Majesty to do so; now he was enabled to say that Her Majesty, to show her disapprobation and abhorrence of the practice of duelling, had authorised him to amend the Articles of War, by the insertion of additional Articles, which he hoped would have the effect of materially suppressing it. Perhaps the House would prefer that he should read the proposed Articles, which he would do, merely premising that Her Majesty, when she heard of the unfortunate occurrence between Colonel Fawcett and Mr. Munro, with that humanity and consideration for the welfare of her subjects which always characterised her, expressed a strong desire that measures should be devised for putting an end to this barbarous custom. The first amended Article was to this effect:—Every officer who shall give or send a challenge, or who shall accept any challenge to fight a duel with another officer, or who being 812 privy to an intention to fight a duel, shall not take active measures to prevent such duel, or who shall upbraid another for refusing or for not giving a challenge, or who shall reject, or advise the rejection, of a reasonable proposition made for the honourable adjustment of a difference, shall be liable, if convicted before a general court martial, to be cashiered, or suffer such other punishment as the court may award.The second was:—In the event of an officer being brought to a court martial for having acted as a second in a duel, if it shall appear that such officer had strenuously exerted himself to effect an adjustment of the difference on terms consistent with the honour of both parties, and shall have failed through the unwillingness of the adverse parties to accept terms of honourable accommodation, then our will and pleasure is, that such officer shall suffer such punishment as the court may award.Then there was a declaratory clause, in which Her Majesty expressed her approval of officers who endeavoured to repress the practice of duelling; and as the wishes expressed by Her Majesty in this clause were most reasonable, he was quite sure they would meet with every attention:—We hereby declare our approbation of the conduct of all those who, having had the misfortune of giving offence to, or injured, or insulted others, shall frankly explain, apologise, or offer redress for the same; or who, having had the misfortune of receiving offence, injury, or insult from another, shall cordially accept frank explanations, apology, or redress for the same, or who, if such explanations, apology, or redress are refused to be made or accepted, shall submit the matter to be dealt with by the commanding officer of the regiment or detachment, fort or garrison, and we accordingly acquit you of disgrace, or opinion of disadvantage, all officers and soldiers, who, being willing to make or except such redress, refuse to accept challenges, as they will only have acted as is suitable to the character of honourable men, and have done their duty as good soldiers, who subject themselves to discipline.Now the manner in which this would act was this; when a difficulty arose in the settlement of a quarrel between two officers, and their mutual friends should be unable to accommodate the matter to the satisfaction of the parties, it would be referred to the commanding officer of the regiment or detachment, and if the commanding officer should not be able to arrange the difference between them, then they would be liable to be brought before a court martial, and subjected to punishment, as he had stated. And by the second 813 Article, if it should appear that the second in any duel had used every endeavour to arrange the difference between the parties, and to prevent the duel, but should fail through the unwillingness of one of the parties, he should not be liable to be punished to the same extent by the court martial as those who had refused honourable terms of adjustment. He could only state generally on the subject, that the effect of these new Articles would necessarily tend to discourage the practice of duelling in the Army. And he must observe, too, that when Her Majesty's opinion upon the subject should become known to the public at large, it would tend much to prevent the practice, and that not only officers in the Army and Navy, but private gentlemen, when they did wrong or gave offence to others, would be ready to apologise, and when offence had been received, to accept apologies like gentlemen, instead of resorting to duelling for the settlement of their quarrels. He had but little doubt when it was found that the officers of the Army took this course of redressing their wrongs, before long the other portions of the community would follow the example, and duelling would, in a great degree, be put an end to. He could not hope at once to check an evil that had existed so long, all he could expect was, to diminish it and to modify it. The Army was never in a better state than at this moment; and in corroboration of what he had asserted last week, he could now state that at Chatham where there were twenty-five regimental dépôts, and from seventy to eighty officers of different regiments messing and living together, there had not been a single instance of duelling for eight years; and he had every reason to believe that that disgraceful, criminal, and unreasonable practice was fast going into disuse in all societies; and that there was quite as little of it in the Army as elsewhere. He did not think it necessary, on that occasion, to go into the question of the military discipline of the Army in regard to duelling. He could conceive cases in which men acting disreputably and without proper courage, had been forced to leave their regiment, as the hon. and gallant officer had stated; but these were cases which defied legislation, and it was impossible for any Government or Secretary at War to devise Articles of War to meet such cases. All they could do, was to propose such rules and regulations as they thought best, and carry them out fairly, and with as much energy as they could. But, having said so much, 814 he must beg the House not to be misled by a wrong impression; it must be distinctly understood that the Articles of War applied only to officers on full pay, and performing military duty. Officers living in garrison, barracks, or forts, and living in a family as it were together, required to be kept in subordination, and under discipline; and these, therefore, were governed by military laws, and it was necessary that means should be proposed by the authorities of immediately redressing those grievances and differences which might arise between the officers. But if any officer in the Army quarrelled with another gentleman in private life, he would he as free to vindicate his private honour as any man who did not hold the Queen's commission. He would never be a party to impose on any man in the profession of arms—however barbarous the custom, and however much he disliked the practice—the liability to be insulted in the streets or elsewhere, without the power of redressing his own honour, merely because he was an officer in Her Majesty's service. It was impossible to devise Articles to affect officers on half-pay, or to make them amenable to military law; and they could not interfere should an officer so circumstanced engage in a duel, unless in a case so distinctly and obviously wrong, that public opinion was against him; and in that case Her Majesty would, without doubt, exercise Her prerogative, whether the guilty party were on half pay or full pay. He believed so much had the practice gone down, that where there was one duel now there had been fifty formerly. With regard to the papers for which the hon. and gallant Officer had moved, they should be laid on the Table; but he again had to express his regret that he could hold out no hope of being able to recommend the granting of the pension to the unfortunate lady, Mrs. Fawcett. The hon. and gallant Officer was right in saying that there were other considerations which governed the granting of these pensions than the deserts of the deceased officer—he meant considerations of need. When an officer's widow applied, and it was found that she was in wealthy circumstances, the pension would not be accorded. And, in the case of Mrs. Fawcett, if the circumstances attending the death of Colonel Fawcett had been different, the question would still come under the consideration of the War Office, whether the lady was in such reduced circumstances as to require it. He was happy to say that he understood she was not. But it must 815 be distinctly understood that that was not the principle upon which his decision had been come to, the principle was that which he had stated, and he was sorry to say he could hold out no hope whatever of reversing that decision.
§ Mr. T. Duncombe
having just heard the announcement of the Government's intention to propose certain new regulations for the army, felt that the House would not consider it convenient at that time to discuss them. He might, however, be permitted to observe, that he did not think they would have the effect which the right bon, and gallant Officer anticipated. In some respects they appeared to him (Mr. T. Duncombe) to be a relaxation of the existing law as to Duelling and the sending of challenges in the army, as laid down in the Mutiny Act. In the case of seconds, the right hon. and gallant Officer had stated, that if it should appear that they had done every thing in their power to bring about an amicable arrangement and prevent a duel, the punishment was to be mild. But there was nothing more stringent than the present law on the subject, and what became of the new regulation, when the law of the country de-dared that the second in a duel was as guilty as the principal? He had no acquaintance with either the officer who had fallen in the duel which had been referred to or with Lieutenant Munro. But, at the request of his friends, the latter Gentleman had addressed to him (Mr. T. Duncombe) a letter on the subject, and he thought it due to the character of that Gentleman, and of the seconds engaged in the affair, whose conduct had been blamed that evening, to read it:—He must state, that he believed that in this case the seconds were not the parties to blame, and, indeed, that if all the particulars of the case were known, that Lieutenant Munro would be found entitled to the deep commiseration and sympathy, instead of the censure of the public. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had stated, that he had been told that the affair might and ought to have been settled easily. That it ought to have been settled there was no doubt, but the right hon. Gentleman had stated, that the duel arose from the circumstance of Lieutenant Munro having been told to leave the room; but if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was acquainted with all the circumstances, he would have known that 816 language very different from such a request was used to Lieutenant Munro. Again, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that the parties went out, and the duel had taken place the morning after the night on which the insult had been given. He had certainly been under the same impression until he received the statement which he now held in his hand, and he thought that the public would be inclined to judge differently of the case, when they knew all the circumstances connected with the transactions which occurred during the day intervening between the quarrel and the duel. The quarrel took place on the Thursday evening, and the duel was not fought until Saturday morning, the 1st of July. The whole of the day was passed by the seconds and Lieutenant Munro in taking the opinions of persons in high stations—not only in military life, but in general society, as to what course ought to be adopted in reference to the matter. The hon. Gentleman then proceeded to read the statement of Lieutenant Munro to the following effect:—I returned, and said, that if it had not been for the connection that existed between us, and the unseemly nature of such a proceeding, that I would bring him to account for it, or have resented it upon the spot; be replied, that as to the connection, he wished never to hear of it again, and hoped that it would not prevent me from doing hat I referred to. I then went away. Upon the following morning I took the opinion of an officer of acknowledged judgment, and of upwards of thirty years, standing in the Army, upon the unfortunate occurrence. He said, that during the course of his service he had never heard of so gross an outrage, and that, as a British officer upon full pay, I had no alternative whatever but what was usual, viz., an apology or a meeting. I then called upon Mr. Grant, and took him with me to consult with a friend of much experience in these unhappy affairs. His opinion entirely coincided with that of my other friend, but he said he would take the advice of a general officer about it, whose reply was, that no officer holding her Majesty's Commission could possibly exist under such an insult. In the course of the same day I took the opinions of three other friends (all officers, or having been in the Army); they all said that, however lamentable the proceeding was, that I was compelled to uphold the honour of the station I held in the service at the hazard of my life. I hoped that one word of regret might have been expressed for the wanton and gross insult put upon me, but none would be given, and a meeting was proposed that day by Lieutenant Colonel Faw- 817 cett, to which Mr. Grant objected. When I found, late in the evening of the 30th of June, that no amicable arrangement was likely to be come to, although I had left the affair entirely in the hands of my seconds, I wrote a note, recommending my wife and children to the care of some friends; and also a paper (which I signed in the presence of two witnesses), declaring that I most deeply deplored being obliged to go out with Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett, and that, from circumstances over which I had no control, I was forced to do so; I most earnestly desired that some arrangement might be come to the following morning, and I made three appeals to Mr. Grant upon the ground, with that view, saying each time, 'Good God, Grant, can nothing be done to stop this dreadful affair from going on?" but it appears that he was so obstinately and violently received the day before by Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett, that he had no hope of coming to a friendly understanding. It would be both imprudent and improper for me to proceed further with the details of this most melancholy transaction, but I think I have said enough to convince most fair, thinking men, that I am much more to be sympathized with than blamed for what has happened.The hon. Gentleman continued: That statement placed the affair in quite a different light. Why, what was the state of the case? Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett's widow had been deprived of her pension in consequence of this duel. If her husband had fallen in the service of his country, she would have had a pension. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had stated, that there were special circumstances in Colonel Fawcett's case which prevented him from making the provision of a pension. [Sir Henry Hardinge: the special circumstances referred principally to the relationship of the parties.] He admitted that there might be cases in which peculiar circumstances might justify a Government in refusing a pension, such as when it could be proved that the wife was a party to the transaction, and knew of the duel beforehand. But what was the case as regarded Lieutenant Munro? Indeed, he would wish to make an addition to the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend, and to have all the correspondence which had passed between the Horse-Guards and Lieutenant Munro in reference to his having been superseded, laid on the Table of the House. The duel took place upon the 1st of July last, and Lieutenant Munro was not superseded until February. He purchased his commission that was lost, and his pay was stopped from the 1st of July last, although 818 he belonged to the Army until the end of February. He did not see what right the Horse-Guards had, in such a case, to stop the pay as they did. [An Hon. Member: Lieutenant Munro was absent without leave.] But the right hon. Gentleman had stated, that be would not supersede Lieutenant Munro, because he understood that he was going to take his trial. Why, that was a tacit acquiescence in his absence. But what was the condition of Lieutenant Munro now? He described his condition thus:—I will not attempt to describe my own most unhappy state of mind since I have been forced to fly from my country, my profession, and my beloved wife, children, father, mother, and relatives; but those who have known me from my childhood, and my gallant comrades, can conceive what I have suffered. I had a happy and a contented home; my utmost and constant endeavours were directed to perform, to the best of my power, my duties to my God, to all men, and also as a faithful subject to Her Most Gracious Majesty, and I am now a marked and wretched exile! It has been said that I was to enter a foreign service, and I have occasionally, in my solitude and wretchedness, thought of doing so; but my heart and my affections are and ever will, remain with my kindred and my country; and I do not think that I need be ashamed of owning that, when alone, I have shed many a bitter tear for what has happened, but what I could not prevent; but I have a great consolation in the assurance that my Merciful and All-seeing Maker will hold me guiltless of the abominable and horrible crime that erring men like myself lay to my charge.Lieutenant Munro was not to be blamed for this duel. He was a victim to the barbarous system of Duelling. The persons who were to blame were those who promoted and upheld the system. The persons who were to blame were, or at least one of them, that General Officer, who told him that, at the hazard of his life, he must stand not only by his own honour but by that of his corps; that if he had not done this he would have been dismissed from that service to which he was an ornament. Now, after having followed what to him were really the commands of this General Officer, if Lieutenant Munro had come forward, and, as the phrase goes, thrown himself upon God and his country, what would have been the consequence? Most probably he would have been visited by transportation. That was the way in which Officers were exposed to transportation upon the one hand, or to stigma and dismissal from the service upon 819 the other. It really behoved the House to do something to put an end to this state of things, and merely passing these Articles of War would not do. They must go one step further, and should pronounce that they would not consider the man degraded in the eyes of society who did not fall into the melancholy error of Lieutenant Munro. But he was afraid that, notwithstanding, they must go through the farce of confirming these declarations which Her Majesty was about to issue; he considered it a farce, unless this House was prepared to express some stronger opinion than they had yet done upon the subject, for he did believe that, heartily as they all seemed to unite in condemning this system, there was hardly a man now hearing him who, if he received an insult such as Lieutenant Munro had been subjected to, would not have adopted a similar way of avenging it. It was true that public opinion generally condemned duelling, but they must go further than public opinion. Half-pay officers engaged in duelling should be punished, he thought, as well as officers on full-pay. It was a most painful subject for the House to enter into, but he did say that the man, the Minister of the Crown, or merely a private Member of the House, who could by possibility put a stop to Duelling, would be entitled, he thought, to the gratitude and respect not only of the House, but of the country.
§ Sir C. Napier
admitted, that the widow of an officer had no abstract right to a pension. The Crown bestowed a pension upon widows, but a warrant was issued stating the cases of those widows who were not to have pensions. Duelling was not one of those cases. It was true, that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had read a minute as to the case of an officer in Ceylon, who had been killed in a duel. But that minute had not been made public. He doubted whether any officer ever knew of it, and he thought that if Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett had not heard of this minute, his widow had not been justly treated. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had stated, that there were special circumstances attending the case of Mrs. Fawcett, which precluded her from receiving a pension, but he did not tell the House what these circumstances were. He would wish to hear whether Mrs. Fawcett had anything to do with the duel, and whether she knew 820 beforehand that it was to take place? He did not believe that she knew anything of the sort. There might be delicate circumstances connected with the case which prevented the right hon. Secretary at War from letting the House know all that he was acquainted with; but he could not be satisfied that Mrs. Fawcett was properly treated unless they had some distinct declaration that she was in some way privy to the melancholy transaction. He agreed with all that had been said relative to the hideousness of Duelling in general, but particularly to that of Duelling between near relations. As to the late case, there was nothing on earth to excuse it; surely brothers, or even brothers-in-law, should never fight. No, nor even cousins. These were his sentiments upon the matter. They could not put an end to Duelling at once, but they should discourage it as far as they could by stating their opinion of such quarrels, particularly between relations. They had heard that a general officer had given it as his opinion that the duel should take place. He thought it lamentable that a man, at a time of life at which it was probable that that officer had arrived, should give such advice. But that advice did not justify the seconds. They should have said—we will not go out, or take a part in this matter, and if you are determined to fight, you must find other seconds. Now, according to the rules and customs of the duel, if two seconds, after mature deliberation, come to the conclusion of not going out, the principals would not find other seconds, who, on knowing the previous circumstances, would consent to act as such. In the present ease, the seconds had been acquitted, and he believed that they had not been punished at all. Surely the case was of such a character, that if the Secretary at War punished the widow, he was punishing the least culpable party of all. He did hope that the matter would yet be reconsidered. They had heard of new regulations touching Duelling to be introduced into the Army. He agreed with the hon. Member for Finsbury in thinking that these Resolutions would not answer the purpose they were intended to serve. It was not necessary that officers should make it public that they were going to fight a duel. The public would know nothing of the matter unless one of the combatants should be killed or wounded. And every person in the regiment 821 would think himself bound to keep the affair as secret as he could, for the purpose of evading the regulations. He would suggest another means of putting down Duelling. It was true that Duelling was going out of fashion; but there were few officers in the Army and Navy who had not seen or heard of persons in both services—practised duellists—men who made a habit of practising pistol-shooting, and attained such a degree of proficiency that they could almost shoot a sparrow's eye out—at all events, that the person who went out with them had not the slightest chance of his life. Now the pistol was not a necessary weapon in war. It was not necessary that a man should be a pistol-shot; and he should like to see some regulation adopted in the Army to the effect that if it was brought home to any officer that he was a practised pistol-shot with a view to duelling, that such an officer should be severely punished. But they should go further, and provide against duelling in civil life. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary at War had stated that duelling had almost gone out of the Army; but to hear the discussions which had lately taken place in this House upon the subject, one would suppose that it existed in the Army alone. He thought then, that they had better begin with civilians—ay, with the First Minister of the Crown, and go down from him to every Minister who ever sat on the Benches on either side of the House. He would make one and all of them incapable of becoming a Minister of the Crown after it was proved either that he had sent a challenge or fought a duel. He would go further, and apply the same rule to Solicitors General and Attorneys General, and all Gentlemen of the same genus. If such a regulation had been long in practice, however, he feared that there were a considerable number of Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench who would not be sitting there now. He did not know how the rule would affect the ex-Treasury Bench on his side of the House, but he repeated, that he would like to see a regulation issuing from Her Majesty, to the effect that no person could be competent to become a Minister of the Crown, who had been engaged in a duel. That would be a powerful preventative. But then, on the other hand the remedy might prove worse than the disease, for had the plan been in operation they must have lost, 822 among others, the services of the Commander-in-chief the Duke of Wellington. He did not think it fair or right, however, for the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War to promulgate his Regulations as to the Army unless some such measures were applied to the Navy, and also to persons in civil life. He would tell them a way of putting down Duelling at once. He would not allow a duel to be fought unless across a table. First let one pistol be loaded with ball and the other not, and let lots be drawn who shall have the loaded pistol; then, if that had no effect, let both he loaded with ball, and then let the Gentleman who was not shot be hanged.
Colonel T. Wood
thought, with reference to the late case, that had the plan been adopted of calling together the officers of the regiment and submitting the matter to them, the result would have been different from that which it unfortunately was. He could not but remark that the discussion had turned principally upon the Army, among the Members of which the practice of Duelling was less common than with almost any class of the community. The Articles of War proposed, embodied the spirit and practice of the Army. He had frequently seen in his own connection with the Army, officers called together and consulted upon the subject of disagreements arising between them. He wished that something of the sort had been effected in the late case.
§ Viscount Palmerston
having been alluded to by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary at War thought it right to say one or two words. The gallant Officer had quoted a case in which he, when Secretary at War, had determined, that a pension should not be granted to an officer's widow, in consequence of that officer having lost his life by his own hand. The right hon. Gentleman stated that in recording that decision, he had given an opinion that the same rule should hold good as to the widow of an officer killed in a duel. He had no distinct recollection of the case alluded to, many matters had since passed through his hands which might have caused him to forget it; but as the right hon. Gentleman had stated it, he had no doubt that such was his decision. He thought that the principle upon which that decision must have been founded was the 823 principle on which pensions were granted. Pensions were granted not on considerations connected with the widows of officers, but on considerations connected with the officers themselves. He considered a pension to be in some respects an increase of an officer's pay. It was one of the advantages given him as a reward for his services; and the knowledge that a pension would be granted to his widow, rendered it unnecessary that he should make those sacrifices, of a portion of his pay, which would be necessary to secure an annuity to his widow by other means. Therefore, he looked upon a pension as a part of those pecuniary advantages which were given to officers in return for services rendered. It, therefore, had always been usual that the claims of a widow to a pension should depend upon the services of the husband, and, as the right hon. and gallant Officer opposite had observed, there were cases in which, after very distinguished service, when the officer had lost his life in a brilliant manner in action, it had been usual to increase the amount of the widow's pension, although the loss was only the same to her whether her husband had died in action or in any other way. He thought it very likely that, in applying that principle, he should have felt it his duty to have abstained from recommending to the Crown the granting of a pension to the widow of an officer who had committed suicide, as he had deprived the army of his services by his own act, and had in no way increased by his death his claims upon his country. With respect to Duelling, this principle did not apply in the strictest and most unvariable manner. The claims of the widow depended upon the circumstances of the duel—and speaking in this case under great ignorance of detail—knowing only what he had read upon the subject in the ordinary channels of information, he should have been disposed to have come to a different conclusion from that arrived at by Government. Because, judging merely from the common sources of report, it appeared to him that Lieutenant-Colonel Fawcett was least to blame of all the parties concerned. The challenge did not come from him, but from his antagonist, who, therefore, was primâ facie the party the most to be blamed. The seconds were blameable in the next place, because, though it was painful to speak so as to im- 824 pute censure to men who were not present to answer for themselves, yet he could not conceive that in a case like that in question, any two Gentlemen acting as seconds, and inspired with a desire to accommodate matters without having recourse to extremities, could not find means for arranging the matter. Therefore he should say, that in the view which he took of the case, Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett was least to blame, and on that ground he should have felt disposed to take a favourable view of the claims of his widow for a pension. At the same time, not knowing the nature of the facts which might have come to the knowledge of the Government in regard to the parties, he could not pronounce any decided opinion. Upon the subject of Duelling, he must say, that it appeared to him that in general the seconds were the parties who could with most difficulty shift the blame from their shoulders. Because in most quarrels one party, if not both, would be found to be in the wrong—indeed, a case could hardly be supposed in which one of the parties was not to blame; and if the principals were placed in the hands of their friends, as they should be placed, and as their friends should require them to place them selves, then if the friend of either party saw that his principal had been in the wrong, and used his own judgment, in regard to making a suitable and becoming concession, it would rarely happen that there would not be found means of adjusting the matter in dispute honourable for both parties. As to the additional Articles of War which they had heard read, he certainly felt with his hon. Friend, the Member for Finsbury, that in one respect the change which had been made was rather a relaxation of what now existed; but he must say, that if the Articles of War, as they at present stood, had been strictly enforced, there would have been no necessity for greater stringency; and if the new Articles were not to be enforced more strictly than the old ones had been, he was afraid that the best disposition on behalf of the public and of the House to put down the system of Duelling would be ineffectual. He agreed that they could not expect the Army to stand in this matter on a different footing from the community at large; and any expectations that, so long as Duelling could find favour or protection with the 825 community at large, it could be effectually put an end to in the Army, must infallibly be disappointed. The Army would keep pace with the rest of the community in the abandonment of this practice, but could not be required to do more. But if it wasto be held that, in all cases in which an officer lost his life in a duel, a pension was to be withheld from his widow, he agreed with his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir C. Napier), that such rule should be made publicly and generally known. However, if discretion was to be used, and if the decision was to depend upon the circumstances of the case, he should hope that, however firmly the right hon. and gallant General the Secretary at War had at present made up his mind, this case might still remain open for consideration; and if it should be found that Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett had not been the most to blame in the transaction, and if Mrs. Fawcett, were not by the amount of her own independent income excluded from the pension by the standing regulations of the service, then he hoped that the melancholy fate of her husband would not be an insurmountable bar to prevent a pension from being granted to her.
§ Sir Robert Peel
wished to take this opportunity of stating the ground on which after hearing of the Resolution of his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War—he had cordially approved of that Resolution. In the course of last Session, after the public mind had been strongly excited by this unfortunate duel, he was called on to state whether, during the recess, Government would take into their consideration any means for 'discouraging the practice of Duelling. He then stated that Government were prepared to take the subject into consideration, although not to bring forward any definite measure with respect to it. In accordance with this pledge the matter was taken into consideration. A few nights ago an hon. Gentleman opposite had put a question to him upon the subject. He then thought it right to state the course which the military authorities had taken with reference to the late unfortunate duel. He approved of that course, on the ground that he understood the general rule of the War Office to be, that the claim of the widow of a deceased officer to a pension was not admitted as an absolute right—that the admission of such a claim was to depend upon the circumstances of each 826 particular case. He understood the rule to be, that in cases of suicide, the claim for a pension of the widow would not be good. He did not, however, understand, and he did not think there should be an absolute rule, that in cases of death in consequence of Duelling the pension should be irredeemably lost. He understood the general principle to be, that in such cases the particular circumstances attending each should be taken into account. So far as the widow was concerned, it was impossible to deny that the application of the rule might be attended with individual hardship; but the hardship would, at least, press as heavily on the widow in cases of suicide as in cases of death by Duelling. If they looked to the position of the widow, it was easy to believe that her condition, upon losing her husband by his own hand, might be as deserving of sympathy as the cases in which the death of the husband had been produced by Duelling. The rule was laid down, not so much on considerations respecting the widow, as with a view to deter others from following the example of her husband. The case then arose as to whether the widow of the late Lieutenant-Colonel Fawcett was entitled to receive a pension. In former cases of the sort, the granting or withholding of the pension had been regulated by the particular circumstances of each case. He was loth to enter into the consideration of the circumstances of the present case, and he hoped that he had said nothing derogatory to the memory of Lieutenant-Colonel Fawcett, or harsh towards Lieutenant Munro. What were the circumstances of the case? Colonel Fawcett was the brother-in-law of Lieutenant Munro. True, he had a second; but that second was an extremely young man, of far inferior rank to Colonel Fawcett, and therefore not likely to exercise that influence over his principal which every second ought to command. There, then, was the case of a distinguished officer, who it could not be denied was the party to offer the offence, and that under the most aggravating circumstances, turning his brother-in-law out of the room—turning Lieutenant Munro, he believed down stairs in the presence of a servant. He was very sorry to enter at all into those details. He must say that he had a very strong impression that no duel was necessary in this case; and that the only potent offence being the turning down stairs in the man- 827 ner he had stated, Colonel Fawcett might have said—"I acted hastily in turning you down stairs, and for the language at which you justly took offence, I tender an apology." That was his impression; and the rule being such as his right hon. and gallant Friend had stated, he thought his right hon. Friend was perfectly justified in refusing his widow a pension. He thought if it had been given, his right hon. Friend would have acted on a principle different from that adopted in previous cases, and would in effect have announced to officers, "no reference shall be had to special circumstances; and, however aggravating, you may rely on it your widows shall be entitled to pensions." These were the grounds on which he thought himself justified in performing the painful duty of withholding this pension. With respect to Lieutenant Munro, he had no knowledge of the circumstances which the hon. Member for Finsbury had referred to. Lieutenant Munro was not superseded. Being charged with an offence cognizable by the law of the land, no immediate step was taken with regard to him, though he was absent without leave. It was felt that there was some justification for his having so absented himself, on the ground that, with the prejudices then existing, he could not well come before a jury; but it was distinctly stated to him that when that public prejudice had subsided, he must submit his case to examination before a jury. He declined to do so: two Sessions passed, and being absent without leave, he thought his noble Friend, the Commander-in-Chief, fully justified in superseding Lieutenant Munro. As to the additional Article of War, he must observe there was a general impression that if an officer refused to fight, he subjected himself to dismissal by court-martial. The public declaration on the part of Her Majesty must effectually remove that impression. [The right hon. Baronet then read the additional article, which we have given above]. This was a decisive declaration of opinion that officers were exempt from blame or disgrace who refused an appeal to arms; and the terms were so explicit, that he thought it would tend much to discourage the practice of Duelling.
regretted that the supposed circumstances of this case were canvassed in the House. It was true that the seconds had no high rank, and were not of 828 mature years; yet, in the absence of all proof, it was hard to judge, or to throw on the heads of these young men an additional share of public odium. He thought there should be a positive, distinct announcement that no widow of an officer who fell in a duel should receive a pension, if the object of the Government was to put down Duelling. But the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said, that there should be an inquiry into the particular merits and circumstances of each case. What were the particular circumstances of the present case? He knew little more of them than what he saw in the newspapers. The hon. Member for Fins-bury had told them that when Lieutenant Munro submitted his case to his superior officers, they told him that the circum-stances were so gross that he must go out. But the offence, as far as the world knew, was simply that Colonel Fawcett had turned Lieutenant Munro out of doors. Why, if the facts were so gross that there was in the opinion of those officers but one, and that the extreme remedy, must there not be something concealed from public view much worse than anything that had been stated? Would it be believed, that Colonel Fawcett would have refused to hear his relative speak, would have said, "I will hear nothing about the Brighton houses; I will not hear a sentence from you about my property,"—if there had been no other cause of dissension than that which was stated in the public prints? Now, these hints which had been thrown out that evening put the case in a different point of view. The hon Member for Finsbury had said, that Lieu-tenant Grant, the second, had declared upon the field, "I can do nothing; after the manner in which we have been treated, I can do nothing." Yet, knowing so little of the real facts as they appeared to know, they sat there, as it were, a Pseudo Court of Justice, to try the merits of the case: one hon. Member passing an opinion upon one part of the transaction, and another upon another, but few really possessing a fair opportunity of judging. He was not aware of the state of Mrs. Fawcett's circumstances; all he knew was, that her husband had received the honour of a Commander of the Bath for his distinguished services in China, and that, putting aside this unfortunate occurrence, she would have been entitled to a pension. As to Lieutenant Munro, he had always 829 heard him spoken of as a gentlemanly sort of man, who had attained the rank of Adjutant in the Blues—an officer to whom it was well known the men looked up more than to all other officers, and that he had a character to lose. Under those circumstances he should hope that his right hon. Friend would think it consistent with the execution of the important duties he had to discharge to look a little more into this case. With respect to the new regulations which were proposed to be promulgated in Her Majesty's service, he agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, that little good would result from them. It was a mistake to say that there was an impression in the Army that officers would be dismissed for not fighting a duel; but they knew that not responding to a challenge, and being therefore sent to Coventry, was a great deal worse than being cashiered. As to Lieutenant Munro's not submitting to be tried by the proper legal tribunals, such was the feeling in the country at that time that he could not be surprised at his evading it.
§ Viscount Howick
thought the result of this debate showed either that the pension should be granted to the widow of Colonel Fawcett, or that more should be done by Government towards suppressing the practice of Duelling. There was none who would not most deeply regret that the sorrows of that lady might possibly be added to by straitened circumstances. He could see no justifiable ground upon which her pension was refused, except that such a measure, severe and painful as it was, might have the effect in future of putting a stop to Duelling. But if they were to allow Duelling to go on hereafter, as it had done heretofore, he asked the House and the country what they gained by denying to this unfortunate lady, what, by her husband's death under ordinary circumstances, she would have been entitled to? Let the House, however, consider whether the course taken by the Government, and the debate of that evening, were calculated to check Duelling? What had been the tone of this discussion; had it been to reprobate Duelling as a general practice? Or had it not been to blame a particular duel, and to say, that this was a case in which the frightful alternative was unnecessary, and in which both seconds and principals were to blame for resorting to it? What had the right hon. and gallant Officer told 830 them? That this pension was withheld on the grounds of the particular circumstances. They were not then indiscriminately to lay down a rule for all officers who fell in a duel, but the circumstances of their death were to be considered. Those were to bar the claims of widows to a pension, but in particular cases they were not to interfere. What, then, were the circumstances of this case? The right hon. and gallant Officer had the other night read an Article of War by which Duelling was strictly prohibited, and he took credit to the Government for their determination to enforce that Article of War. But he did not perceive that the moment he said special circumstances were to be the ground upon which a pension was to be refused, that in a case where there were not those special circumstances, and the party was supposed to be in the right, a duel was the proper course, and the widow was to have a pension? Did he not see that by laying down that principle he gave a sanction to Duelling, because he compelled the Government, the War Office, and the military authorities to sit in judgment upon such particular case? He, for one, believed Duelling to be a most unchristain and barbarous practice. But the right hon. and gallant Officer had read certain new Articles of War which he meant to propose with Her Majesty's sanction: in fact, he stated that Her Majesty had already signified her approbation of those Articles, and that as soon as the Mutiny Act was passed those Articles would be brought forward. Now what was the result of those new Articles? Why with regard to officers on full pay, they were, in reference to duelling, as the hon. Member for Finsbury had stated, a positive relaxation of the severity of the existing Articles. But with respect to an officer on full pay who had a quarrel with an officer on half-pay, or a civilian, they were not meant to apply. The right hon. and gallant Officer said he could not consent to deprive an officer of the army of the privilege—[Sir H. Hardinge: I did not say privilege.] Well, not privilege, but the power of defending himself against an insult the same as the other subjects of Her Majesty. But he conceived that that argument amounted to a direct sanction on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, to an officer on full pay fighting a duel when insulted by a civilian or an officer on half-pay, against whom he could have 831 no redress under the Articles of War. But what was the distinction between an officer on full pay and another with respect to the immorality of the offence? As to officers in a regiment, it might interfere with military discipline and there might be strong military objections to it. But in this case that objection did not apply; for though it was true that both were on full pay, they were not serving together. So far as this quarrel was concerned it was the same thing as a quarrel between officers on half-pay or between civilians, though technically within the jurisdiction of a court-martial. Well, then, he wished to know, if the right hon. and gallant Officer admitted that officers on half-pay who were insulted might properly avail themselves of this mode of protection, with what consistency did he in this case make the duel fought by Colonal Fawcett a bar to his widow obtaining her pension? The right hon. and gallant Officer, by his own showing admitted that a half-pay officer who was insulted by a civilian was not called upon to abstain from fighting a duel.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
I am sorry to be obliged to interrupt the noble Lord. I said this Article did not apply to those who were not amenable to court-martial. If an officer on full pay were grievously insulted id the streets by one on half-pay or a civilian, I said the proposed Article did not apply; for it would aggravate the evil we intended to put down if we thus placed officers on an unequal footing with their fellow-subjects. I thought it right to tell the whole truth, and say this Article would have no such effect. It was chiefly intended for the purpose of keeping up military discipline; and when applied to men holding high station, and actively pursuing their duties, I am in hopes it will gradually have the effect of suppressing this practice.
§ Viscount Howick
What the right hon. and gallant Officer now said, bore out his argument which was this:—let them refuse Mrs. Fawcett her pension if they meant to put down Duelling but not without; for the right hon. and gallant Officer said that an officer on half-pay could not be expected to abstain from fighting a duel if insulted. ["No, No."] What else was the meaning of what the right hon. and gallant Officer said? By his own showing he was not prepared to put down Duelling, for this new Article of War was solely directed to the case of 832 an officer on full pay, and left the case of an officer on half-pay as it now stood. But how could they expect duelling to cease in the army if they kept up the practice in civil life? He agreed with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, that it was greatly to the credit of the army, that whilst the practice was sanctioned it was of such rare occurrence that they were now looking to a much wider question—to an evil not confined to officers in the Army, but extending also to civil life. He asked the House, then, once more to consider what was the advantage they proposed to gain by refusing this pension, unless it would have the effect of discouraging the practice generally? If no further useful or beneficial object were to be gained by such refusal, it would be a gratuitous act of hardship towards Mrs. Fawcett; but if such object were to be produced by it, individual hardship ought not to interfere.
§ Lord C. Fitzroy
said, that with reference to the late unfortunate duel, one thing very much struck him as to Colonel Fawcett's conduct, and that was that it was not clear he had ever fired at his opponent. He never could understand why officers were held up as a pugnacious part of the community, and considering their profession he thought they did not deserve that character. He regretted that there seemed little prospect that the present debate would elicit from Her Majesty's Government the expression of a firm resolution to suppress the practice of Duelling. At present a most anomalous state of things existed; for the military authorities might bring officers to trial by Court-martial if they refused to fight a duel, and if they did fight, they ran the risk of being superseded; or, if they fell in the encounter, of pensions being refused to their widows or relatives.
Mr. W. Cowper
regretted that so much of the present discussion had been conducted in what might be supposed to be a tone of indirect sanction of Duelling; and also that so much attention had been turned towards the peculiar circumstances of the duel which had proved fatal to Colonel Fawcett, as if the disapprobation of the House were to depend upon the manner in which the several steps of that affair had been carried on. The hon. Member for Finsbury had broadly stated that he considered no blame attached to Lieutenant Munro, while the hon. and gallant Member for Marylebone seemed 833 to think that there was no harm in anybody fighting a duel, provided he did not go out with a first cousin or a near relative. He regarded Duelling as a crime condemned alike by the laws of God and of man, and he conceived that it was not justifiable under any circumstances whatever. The hon. Member for Weymouth (Mr. Bernal) had said that he doubted whether any individual would, upon the ground of religious scruples, refuse to fight a duel. He felt bound to say, and he did it without hesitation, that he, for one, would give such a refusal; and he also begged to inform that hon. Member that there were many officers of high reputation, both in the Army and Navy, who had on many occasions, exhibited their personal courage in the most indubitable manner, who had enrolled themselves in an Association for the suppression of Duelling, and who had thereby virtually pledged themselves not to engage in such transactions. He believed that the tide of public opinion in this country, was now setting in against the practice of Duelling; and he hoped that on a future occasion, when opportunity should be afforded for the purpose, a strong expression of this opinion would be made in that House: be hoped that an impression would not go forth to the public, from what had taken place to-night, that any feeling existed in that House in favour of continuing the practice of Duelling. There appeared to him to be two points that were new in the regulations which had been read to-night by the right hon. Secretary at War. One was that of taking into consideration the various degrees of culpability on the part of the seconds, with a view to their being punished with more or less severity; and the other related to the reference of disputes between officers to the commanding officers of regiments. He was glad that the latter regulation had been adopted, for he conceived that it was a step in the right direction. He wished, however, that power should be given to commanding officers to make inquiry into cases, and to summon courts-martial or courts of inquiry, for the purpose of examining the peculiar circumstances of the dispute, and dictating the apology which might be due from one or both parties. There were precedents for such a course. He found it stated in Mr. Samuel's History of the Army, that two disputes had been so settled 834 by the Horse-Guards in the reign of George III. One case occurred in 1773, in a dispute between Lieutenant General Murray and Sir W. Draper; the other related to certain differences which arose out of the trial of Major Browne, of 67th Regiment. On these occasions His Majesty constituted the courts-martial of their respective regiments, into courts of honour for investigating the affair, with power to inquire into the grounds of quarrel, enjoining submission to their sentence, and exacting from all parties a pledge of honour to observe it. Much more would be done by the general measure of establishing Courts of Inquiry than by withdrawing the pension from any solitary and innocent victim of this unfortunate practice. Many modes could be pointed out by which an effectual substitute for duelling could be found. The subject was one well worthy of the care and attention of Her Majesty's Government. If they would but proceed still further in the direction in which they had entered, he was sure they would be supported by public opinion, and would gain much more credit than by taking the step they had done in reference to the late unhappy case.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
must express the cordial approval and pleasure with which he had listened to the declaration of the gallant officer who had just spoked—a declaration honourable to the gallant officer from the moral courage which dictated it, and requiring much higher courage than would be needed for accepting a challege. He did not pretend to enter into the immediate subject before the House, but he could not resist taking occasion to call on the Government to consider whether they might not exercise a sounder discretion in discountenancing the practice generally than had been exercised in the course of these proceedings. It might not be in the knowledge of every Member of the House, but he knew it was in the knowledge of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had addressed them—it was in reference to the professional as well as to the personal character of the hon. Gentleman, that he had taken the liberty of paying him his humble tribute—and it was also in the knowledge of his noble Friend behind him, that an Association had been some time ago formed for the discouragement of Duelling. That Association did not ask for legislation generally on the subject, they asked only for such discouragement to be shown by 835 the fountain of honour, as would best have shown the feeling of the authorities on this point, and they asked it only in terms, he would venture to say, the most respectful and at the same time earnest. They asked that Her Majesty would be graciously pleased to take into consideration the evils arising from the sin, and he would say crime, of Duelling. This Association numbered among its body members on both sides of the House; there were the noble Member for Chester, and the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire, and others; it was impossible to conceive any society, or question, more free from party pollution or taint, or more devoid of anything like a suspicion of political motive on the part of any of the Members. They had been received with personal courtesy, indeed, by his right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department, when a deputation waited upon him; but he must complain of the written answer which, at a later period, the right hon. Gentleman had returned to their memorial. If they had been a body of Chartists, asking for the five points of the Charter, or of Leaguers, asking for a Repeal of the Corn-laws, their memorial could not have received a less satisfactory—he might be permitted to say, a less courteous answer. It was simply this: "I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of the memorial to be presented to Her Majesty from your Lordship, and I have to acquaint you that I have laid the same before Her Majesty." His right hon. Friend might have reflected that the memorial came from a society composed of his supporters as well as his opponents—from officers both of the Army and Navy, and he might have given them a better answer. By so doing, his right hon. Friend would not have violated the rules of official propriety, and would have satisfied the wishes of many of his Friends. He repeated that he did not complain of any want of personal courtesy; but his right hon. Friend would have thrown discouragement on the practice even if he had stated no more than this, namely, that Her Majesty had taken the subject into consideration, and that she appreciated the purity of the motives of those from whom the memorial came. Thus a practice most hateful to God, and condemned by the laws of the country, would have been discouraged.
§ Mr. W. O. Stanley
did not think, that the public would be satisfied with the 836 mere declaration which had been made to-night on the part of the Government. What did the Government propose to do? Not to enact new and stringent laws for the suppression of Duelling, but merely to amend the old laws contained in the Articles of War. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had referred to one of the Articles which had been read to-night, as if it was a new regulation,—the Article which declared that Officers who refused a challenge were acquitted of all disgrace or disadvantage which might arise from such refusal—but that was in substance an old law. He did not consider this a sufficient regulation; for his conviction was, that, both as regarded the military and civilians, the Government should adopt firm anti determined measures to suppress the practice of Duelling. The House would not be satisfied with a mere declaration on this subject, even from a law officer of the Crown; and he hoped the Government would be called upon to express their strong and decided disapproval of the majesty of the law having been outraged in the very presence of the Judges. There was one point in the case which had been brought specially under the notice of the House, which he thought deserved the consideration of the authorities at the Horse-Guards. He alluded to the assertion that, during the day which elapsed between the challenge being given and accepted in the case of Colonel Fawcett, the challenger and his second consulted five General Officers in the Army; and he asked the right hon. Baronet whether it was not known that the officer to whom he alluded consulted several Officers of high rank in his own regiment? [An hon. Member—" I hope not."] It had been contended, as essential to the welfare of the Army, that Officers should not shrink from fighting duels; but, for his own part, he believed that the honour and discipline of the Army might be fully and efficiently maintained if such a practice were suppressed. He hoped that some alteration would be made in the amended Articles of War to release Officers from their liability to be tried by court-martial if they refused to fight a duel, and that it would be made imperative upon all Commanding Officers, or Officers invested with supreme authority, to bring to trial by court-martial, all Officers who fought or engaged in duels. He did not, however, wish that Officers who were guilty of such offences should 837 be cashiered, if there were circumstances which extenuated their conduct.
§ Mr. Turner
exceedingly regretted the answer which had been given to the questions he had put to the right hon. Baronet on the subject of Duelling. Government having refused to take any further steps on the subject, he should be under the necessity of bringing the question forward in the best manner he could on Thursday next. The hon. and gallant Member for Weymouth had said, that the Motion he (Mr. Turner) meant to make would be of no service; but he thought that what had occurred that night had arisen chiefly from the notice he had put upon the Paper of the House. He felt very grateful for what had been already done to discountenance the practice, of which such general disapprobation had been expressed, and he was quite sure that, sooner or later, whatever might be the fate of his Resolution, Her Majesty's Government would be obliged to bring in a Bill for the entire suppression of the practice which all allowed to be unjustifiable.
§ Lord R. Grosvenor
said, that the House would clearly be aware, from the allusions of the hon. Baronet opposite, of the opinions he entertained on the subject; but though, in his own case, he would admit of no compromise, he was willing to make great allowances for other persons. He felt that this was a most difficult question to deal with: and he was grateful to Her Majesty's Government for having taken up the subject, and for having gone so far as they had done. The House must feel that it would be impossible to apply a system of Legislation with reference to Duelling to the Army and Navy, unless they also legislated on the same question with regard to other classes of Her Majesty's subjects. He felt especially thankful to Her Majesty for having graciously permitted her name to be used for the discouragement of the practice of Duelling. He was sure after what had been said, more would be done on the subject. He trusted that those who felt with himself would afford some time for the matter to be settled. The habit and practice of Duelling was too deeply rooted to be destroyed in a moment. Any hurried legislation on the subject would only aggravate the evil. He would take another opportunity of stating to the House more fully his views on the subject.
§ Mr. Brotherton
said, the hon. Baronet 838 the Member for the University of Oxford had justly said, that the practice of Duelling was contrary to the word of God and opposed to the spirit of Christianity; and yet it was strange that Duelling was confined principally to the upper classes, those classes which were said to be the most civilized of mankind. He had no hesitation in stating that he would refuse to fight a duel, although he must confess that it did not require as much courage on his part to make such an avowal as it did on the part of the hon. and Member for Hertford, who had that night addressed the House. They could not make Christians by Acts of Parliament. There must be in existence first the principle of Christianity to influence the mind; if that influenced the mind then the same spirit which discouraged Duelling would also discountenance all war. When the House was asked to pass a Vote of Thanks to the Army for distinguished services, then they saw the spirit which influenced military men. The man who killed one of his fellow-creatures was called a murderer, whilst he who caused the death of hundreds was called a hero. How great the inconsistency! Let it be considered disgraceful either to carry or send a challenge—let it be pronounced inconsistent with the character of a Christian and a Gentleman to do so. Let the House openly express its abhorrence of the practice. Were they to do so, he felt satisfied it would be followed by a good result.
§ Motion withdrawn.
§ Resolution agreed to.