LORD J. RUSSELL
In rising to move the Order of the Day for the Committee of Supply, I will answer those inquiries which my hon. Friend the Member for 375 Bolton made with respect to corporal punishment in the army. In so doing I will state what has been done by the Commander-in-Chief of the army; but previously I beg to say that I wish neither to have the credit of suggesting any alterations which the Commander-in-Chief has thought proper to make, nor to shrink from any responsibility with respect to the limit at which the Commander-in-Chief has stopped, declining to comply with what appears to be a wish among some persons, that there should be a total abolition of corporal punishment in the army. I say, therefore, that the plan that has been at present adopted, is the plan of the Duke of Wellington; and I conceive that the Duke of Wellington is perfectly right in saying that, as matters stand at present, corporal punishment ought not to be totally abolished in the army. The House should know what is the existing regulation with respect to corporal punishment in the army. By the articles of war, no offender convicted before a general court-martial is liable to be sentenced to any corporal punishment exceeding 200 lashes; the punishment of an offender convicted before a district or garrison court-martial cannot exceed 150 lashes; and if convicted before a regimental court-martial the punishment cannot exceed 100 lashes. Now the Duke of Wellington, in taking this subject into consideration, has given directions to the officers to whom the duty appertains of ordering such courts-martial, that by no court-martial whatever, whether general, district, garrison, or regimental, shall any greater punishment be inflicted than fifty lashes. This is a very considerable diminution, and this the Commander-in-Chief has ordered to be carried into effect throughout the army. He has also at the same time given special directions that every precaution shall be taken in order to ascertain the state of health of any soldier who shall be sentenced to corporal punishment, for the purpose of knowing whether it is such as to enable him to hear the punishment ordered. He has likewise directed that other circumstances should be attended to, such as any extreme heat or severity of weather, or any other circumstance whatever which might make the infliction of corporal punishment dangerous to the offender. Such, then, are the directions given by the Commander-in-Chief in respect to corporal punishment in the army. Now, I know that many persons wish, and my hon. Friend 376 the Member for Bolton has given notice of a Motion for the purpose, that corporal punishment in the army should be at once and totally abolished. I think that every one must desire, and I am sure that the Ministers desire that it may be possible, to keep the army in a high state of discipline without the infliction of any corporal punishment whatever. I should be glad, for my own part, to see the day when corporal punishment should be entirely abolished. But I do think that the maintenance of the discipline of the army is a paramount object. I consider that a well-disciplined soldiery is a protection to the country to which it belongs, and a terror to the enemy which it has to meet; but an ill-disciplined soldiery, on the contrary, is a terror to the country to which it belongs, and an object of scorn to the enemy which it has to oppose. I, therefore, consider that the Duke of Wellington is perfectly right in making the proposed reduction without taking any ulterior steps; because, if we are to look to the abolition of corporal punishment, and at the same time to the maintenance of discipline—which I think I perceive that this House values as highly as I have just stated that I do myself—that object can only be effected by two modes: one mode is, that we should be able to ascertain that there is some other kind of punishment which is as effective, and which will maintain as high and complete a state of discipline as that of which the British army is at the present moment justly proud, and which the House must acknowledge that it possesses; the other mode is, by changing the moral feeling of those who belong to the army, so that other punishments, and other methods of government, will have a greater effect, and produce a stronger impression, than they do in the present state of the military service. To both these objects have those who have commanded the army in late times—Lord Hill, the Duke of Wellington, and the several Secretaries at War who have succeeded each other. Lord Howick, Mr. Macaulay, Mr. Sidney Herbert, and my hon. Friend who is now in that situation—applied themselves. The question of other punishments has been much discussed; and in 1835, I think, a Commission sat for the purpose of considering different methods of imprisonment, for short periods, in military prisons connected with the barracks; and for taking into consideration improved military prisons, where solitary confinement could be 377 inflicted. A great advance has been made on this subject. A considerable number of buildings have been constructed; in other instances prisons have been altered; but as yet the system has not come into complete alteration. The following is an account in reference to these prisons:—Military prisons have been established at—England and Scotland.—Fort Clarence, for 200 persons; Weedon, for 100; South Sea Castle, for 80 to 100; Greenlaw, for 100 to 150; and Devonport, for 30.Ireland.—Dublin, for 100; Cork, for 80; Limerick, for 80; and Athlone, for 40.These are the old provost prisons used experimentally, but upon the new system. It is intended to erect entirely new prisons at Dublin and at Cork, and to maintain Athlone.Abroad—Canada.—A prison erected at St. Helen's is nearly ready, if not quite ready, for occupation.Gibraltar.—A part of the old provost prison has been converted into a military prison. Mr. Vouleks has been superintending the discipline, and a governor is now going out.Ionian Islands.—Plans for a new prison ordered.Malta.—Plans for converting St. Elmo into a military prison ordered.Nova Scotia.—Plans for a prison at Halifax ordered.Newfoundland.—A stone building on Signalhill proposed. Plans called for.West Indies.—A Committee of officers ordered to report upon the works required for prisons and cells in the different islands.Cape.—Inquiry as to best means of military imprisonment.Mauritius.—Prisons to be erected. Plans called for.Bermuda and China.—Plans and estimates called for.Cells for short imprisonments have been certified at almost every barrack-station in this country, and at very many abroad.In regard to the cells for short imprisonments, they have been prepared very recently. Major Jebb has been engaged on this subject for the greater part of the last year, and almost in every barrack-station cells are now constructed. At the same time, this system is for the greater part new. The prisons are not completed, and with respect to several of our foreign stations, the account I have read to the House shows that they are only in the commencement of erection, or form subject of inquiry. With, respect, however, to the infliction of corporal punishment, there has been a considerable diminution, in consequence of the application of these other modes of punishment. I will read a return on this subject:— 378
Therefore we may say that at present the rate is that only one man in 190 receives corporal punishment in the course of the year. Now, if any one bears in mind what was the case formerly with respect to corporal punishment, that the number of lashes, according to the orders contained in the articles of war, have been very much diminished, and that the number of persons punished is also very much less than the amount in former days, it must be confessed that there has been a great change with respect to the infliction of corporal punishment in the army. The second method through which corporal punishment may be reduced, and may at length altogether cease in practice, is by the improvement of the moral condition of the soldier, inducing him thereby to the maintenance of a better and more orderly behaviour, so that he should be deterred from the commission of offence more through a feeling of shame than by the mere infliction of punishment. On this point, likewise, a very great change has taken place of late years. In the first place, rewards have been established for good conduct, and also increased pay after a certain number of years. There have also been more frequently given—what I remember used to be very much required—commissions in the army to private soldiers; and I am informed that in the course of the present year, that is to say, between the 31st of December last to this time, thirty commissions have been given to private soldiers in the army, and sums also furnished them for the outfits necessary on the acceptance of those commissions. With respect likewise to the improvement of the minds of the soldiers, and to the direction of their attention to subjects likely to induce them to maintain a more orderly conduct, and render them less liable to intoxication, my 379 right hon. Friend the Secretary at War stated the other day the pains which have been taken to establish soldiers' libraries in the United Kingdom. No less than 100 libraries have been established, containing no less than 60,000 volumes. I believe this will lead to a very great improvement in the army. A normal school is likewise projected. The late Secretary at War was one of the advisers of that excellent plan; and it certainly is most desirable that instead of the school at Chelsea, which I used to think useless to the public, there should be a normal school for the purpose of providing good regimental schools. To young men entering the army these schools and libraries will be of the greatest possible use. I happened many years ago to be, in consequence of an official appointment, at the head of the establishment at Chelsea. The men there being constantly in the public-house, I proposed that they should have a certain number of small gardens in which they might employ themselves. That plan was successful; 130 small gardens were granted, in the cultivation of which the men delighted, and from which they derived some small profit; and yet I remember being told at the time I made this proposal that I did not understand soldiers; that they might take to the gardens for a short time, but that they would go back to the public-house again. Now, I believe that every person who understands anything of human nature, will admit that, if you encourage persons in idleness, they will be idle; but that, if you give them the fit and proper means of employment, they will make use of those means for their own advantage. With respect to another subject, a great change has taken place in the army. When I was at the head of the Chelsea establishment, I remember speaking to some experienced officers respecting the utility of establishing savings banks in the several regiments. I was told, that the old officers had objections to it, and I heard that an officer, who came with his regiment from Malta, hearing that savings banks were established in his regiment, would not allow them, but ordered the money to be returned to the men to be spent. I believe the disposition existing in the army with respect to this matter is now different, and that regimental savings banks are now encouraged. Indeed, everything calculated to elevate the soldier is anxiously promoted by the military and civil authorities connected with the army. These questions 380 do not occupy the attention of the Commander-in-Chief merely for a single day or week, with the view of producing some great plan on the subject, but they engage the attention of the military and civil authorities continually, with a view to the maintenance of the discipline of the army, and at the same time of diminishing, as far as possible, the necessity for corporal punishment. I trust that I have now stated enough to induce my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton to forego the Motion of which he has given notice. I am sorry to see that he does not assent to my proposal. I must, therefore, go on to make one or two statements with respect to this subject, which I think will merit the attention of the House. In 1835, there was a Commission appointed on this subject, and that Commission was composed of Lord Wharncliffe, Lord Sandon, and other civil as well as military authorities. The Commissioners, after examining a great many witnesses, from Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington down to several privates in the Guards, as well as officers of all the intermediate ranks, came to the conclusion—and this is the opinion of almost every witness—that the substitution of other punishments for corporal punishment in the army on actual service and in the field, is impracticable, and, if practicable, would be insufficient for the maintenance of proper discipline. Their fourth Resolution was to the following effect: That it appears that even supposing that some effective substitute was devisable, or that those punishments now in use were made more effective, so as to render corporal punishment ultimately unnecessary, still it would be unsafe to proceed at once to abolish it entirely; but that the abolition should be gradual. Such was the opinion given by that Commission, some of the members of which were politicians, others military and civil authorities of experience. I think that the military authorities have proceeded on that opinion, endeavouring to reduce as much as possible the amount of corporal punishment, and to substitute other punishments in its place. I consider that this House ought not, at the end of the Session, suddenly—perhaps in consequence of some occasion that would hardly warrant a material alteration of military law—to carry any resolution by which the whole system of military discipline would be altered, and the confidence of the army in general, both in those military authorities which are placed 381 over them, and in the Government of the Queen, would be materially shaken. I cannot but think, even if my hon. Friend professes no confidence in the expressed desire and wish of the present Government, to see this corporal punishment retained only as long as it is absolutely necessary; still it is due to that illustrious man who is at the head of the army to rest satisfied with the orders he has now given, showing, as those orders do, the utmost desire to consider both the benefit of the army and what is due to humanity on this subject. Even omitting any reference to the glorious achievements of that Chief, I think that sixty years spent in the army in every position—serving in the lowest ranks, and afterwards raising himself up to that eminence which he has attained, I think that the experience which he has had in commanding armies, both in the field and at home, as well as the knowledge he possesses of the modes of discipline pursued in other armies, should entitle him to the confidence of the House with respect to the mode in which he proposes to carry on the discipline of the army. For my part, I tell you, as I told you at the beginning, that these are the views which the Commander-in-Chief takes, and in which the Government entirely concur with him. I ask this House, therefore, to pause before they adopt an inconsiderate resolution. I ask hon. Members to rest satisfied with what has been done in the way of useful improvement; and if they wish not to mar the fair work which has been commenced, to abstain from interposing a Resolution of this House in the way of the reforms I have stated. The noble Lord concluded by moving that the Order of the Day for the Committee of Supply be now read.
A RETURN SHOWING THE RATIO OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENTS TO THE STRENTH OF THE ARMY DURING THE LAST EIGHT YEARS. Adjutant-General's Office, July 27, 1846. Years. Average Effectives. Number of Corporal Punishments. Ratio. 1838 96,907 894 1 man in 108 1839 103,152 843 1 man in 122 1840 112,653 874 1 man in 129 1841 116,369 925 1 man in 126 1842 120,313 862 1 man in 140 1843 123,452 637 1 man in 194 1844 125,105 645 1 man in 194 1845 124,252 659 1 man in 189
§ DR. BOWRING
never rose under emotions of such heavy and painful responsibility as now oppressed him. He did justice, as all would, to the tone and temper in which the noble Lord had addressed the House; but it was to him (Dr. Bowring) a matter of grief and disappointment that the noble Lord had come to the conclusion at which he had arrived. It might have been hoped that public opinion, which had removed such a mass of the abominations connected with military flogging in our past history — that opinion being now again called into energy, and reaching every bosom—would have so influenced the Government as to persuade them that the total abolition of military punishment by flog- 382 ging could be safely delayed no longer; that we must get rid of it at once and for over; that not a fragment or a vestige could be any longer tolerated; and that the House was to consider what was the constitution of the army and what measures were to be taken for preserving its discipline, but always bearing in mind that the lash was no longer to be visited upon the soldier. When he (Dr. Bowring) considered the illustrious names connected with the various modifications of this system which had from time to time marked the progress of benevolent legislation; when he considered how much of kindness, of wisdom, of eloquence, had been engaged in this cause, he felt that it had fallen into feeble hands; but he felt also that after all, one single word, one sole and solitary argument was brought forward—the argument of "necessity" which had been put forward by all tyrants, the justification of every misdeed, from the beginning of time. Torquemada, when he burnt his tens of thousands by the Inquisition, defended it with the plea of "necessity;" Charles IX., when he ordered the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, satisfied his conscience by the belief that "necessity" demanded the frightful outrage; slavery and the slave trade were long justified by the same plea. When 1,500 lashes were laid upon the back of a human being, "necessity" was put forward as the excuse; and necessity had justified everything that was done by tyrants. But he (Dr. Bowring) hoped to be able to show that necessity did not warrant the retention of any portion of this abominable system, and that the day had arrived in which the House ought to determine that, whatever was to be substituted in its stead, military flogging could no longer be endured. Time was when in our West India Colonies the lash was laid upon the back of the slave without interference and without responsibility, and when the power of life and death was practically held by the slaveowner, as much as it was by a Grecian or a Roman master in the worst period of domestic slavery; but before slavery in our Colonies was overthrown, legislation had gone so far as to deny to the master the power of inflicting more than twenty-five lashes, and to limit that to cases of theft, repeated desertions, and refusal to work. Education, too, had progressed, and flogging had been done away in the majority of our public schools; it was felt to be far better to act by moral power upon the hopes and the fears of the 383 child as well as of the man. Seeing, moreover, that whereas there were once more than 200 capital offences on our Statute-book, and that 19–20ths of them were now capitally punished no longer, he (Dr. Bowring) could not but feel encouraged in asking for some mitigation of our military code. What was the character of the punishment in question? Let the House hear how it was described by the late Dr. Fergusson, Inspector General of Military Hospitals, in his Notes and Recollections of a Professional Life, edited by his son; and let it be borne in mind that if the power was retained at all it might be exorcised to an incredible extent; in Russia the knout was managed with such dexterity that by twelve blows a human being could be deprived of life; and the preservation of this power here would deliver its victim over to the dominion of an unregulated despotism. Dr. Fergusson said—After the termination of the expedition to Holland in the year 1799, the 5th Regiment was established at Silverhall Barracks, in Sussex, where a marauding soldier of the light company broke into a neighbouring farm under the cover of night, severely wounded with his bayonet the woman of the house when she tried to save some of her property, and perpetrated as much outrage as a single man without accomplices could well inflict. There can be no doubt that such a ruffian should immediately have been given over to the civil power, and hanged, or executed before the assembled troops by sentence of a general court martial; but he was brought before a court martial of the regiment, and sentenced to receive a thousand lashes. When brought up for punishment, he stripped as if in scorn, and presented as fine a model of compact form, hard muscle, and dark thick skin, as ever I beheld. The drummers were well-grown sturdy lads, who had always performed their duty well, and to them, after the punishment began, he particularly directed his abuse, daring them to do their worst, for they would never extract a single groan from him. Seven hundred and seventy-five lashes were most severely inflicted, when, perceiving from his countenance alone that nature was giving way, I had him taken down and carried to the hospital. In a few weeks he was reported cured, and the commanding officer declared that the sentence should be inflicted to the utmost lash. He was accordingly brought out again. It was winter, and the snow was on the ground. He was tied up with his back to the wind, and the punishment began. At the first lash the newly-organized skin gave way, the blood streamed down his back, and he who, on the first infliction, was all defiance, now writhed and cried out. As the flogging proceeded the lash became clogged with blood, which at every wave of the drummer's arm was driven in showers by the wind over the snow-covered ground; his cries became actual yells, and the integuments of his newly-cicatrized back were cut literally in pieces. I stopped the punishment when he had received sixty lashes; but his second cure was now a very different affair. 384 Healthy suppuration could not be established after such reiterated injury, and sloughing and deep-seated abscesses were formed amongst the great muscles of the back. When I left the regiment, on promotion, some months afterwards, he was still in the hospital, a poor hectic wretch, utterly broken down from the terrible effect of the second flogging. I never learned whether he ultimately recovered.In Dr. Marshall's Military Miscellany there was quoted the case of an officer who had been a drummer, and who said—For eight years it was my disgusting duty to flog men at least three times a week. After a poor fellow had received about one hundred lashes, the blood would pour down in streams, and fly about in all directions, with every additional blow of the cat; so that by the time he had received three hundred, I found my clothes all over blood from the knees to the crown of the head. Horrified at my disgusting appearance, I have, immediately after parade, run into the barrack-room to escape from the observations of the soldiers, and to rid my clothes and person of my comrade's blood. Here I have picked and washed off my clothes pieces of skin and flesh that had been cut from the poor sufferer's back.Men have declared to me," says an officer, "that the sensation experienced at each lash, was as though the talons of a hawk were tearing their flesh off their bones.There was a case reported in The Times of the 31st of July, the punishment of a man in a dragoon regiment, for an impudent expression addressed to his superior officer, a lance-corporal; and it was well known that that paper was particularly guarded in not admitting communications without having ascertained beforehand that they merited attention and emanated from competent authority. The writer said—He was a fine young man, but being given to habits of intemperance, and the use of insubordinate language, the officers, it was said, were determined to make an example of him. He was accordingly tried by a regimental court martial, and sentenced to receive 100 lashes. That punishment the writer saw inflicted. The victim was tied with cords by the wrists and legs to four staples driven into the wall of the riding-school (not to a ladder), and being a fleshy man he had not received six lashes before he began to show signs of suffering, and prayed the colonel to forgive him. In a few more minutes his cries and groans were really soul-sickening. Sentries were sent round to drive the civilians from the barrack walls, lest they should hear them; and he who, perhaps, had never called upon his Maker seriously before, now did so most vehemently, to deliver him from that agony; his words still ring in my ears—'Christ Jesus, have mercy upon me! What is this for? Oh! what have I done to deserve this?' And in his dreadful writhings he drew one of the staples out of the wall; but they flogged on, never minding, until his head fell back, and it appeared to me that he received the last twenty-five lashes while in a state of insensibility.He remembered that the latest years of a venerable friend of his, Jeremy Ben- 385 tham, were tortured in consequence of his residence being adjacent to a flogging-yard; and he had often spoken of his agony when he heard the shrieks of the soldiers under the lash. In the same number of The Times there was also given the testimony of Mr. Abernethy, as recorded in Dr. Carlyon's Early Years and Late Reflections: and it was stated—One of the severest operations of surgery is that for the stone, which, when skilfully performed, is not, upon an average, more than a few minutes in hand. Whereas a soldier has not unfrequently been fixed to the halberds under the lash for more than an hour; and every lash, until the sensibility of the parts may have been destroyed with their texture, was, perhaps, equivalent to the incision through the skin in the operation to which I have alluded.And so the British soldier was still to be subjected to a punishment which might be equal to fifty incisions for the stone! It was among the worst features of it, that the punishment was uncertain; it must depend on the strength, the dexterity, and the animus of the flogger, on the length of the handle, the character of the cord, the number and size of the knots—none of which things appeared to be regulated by law. It must depend also upon the susceptibility of the sufferer; for though there was to be a previous inquiry into the health of the individual subjected to this castigation, yet who could doubt that to a man of delicate structure, though his general health might be good, the punishment of fifty lashes was a very different thing from what it was upon a man of robust temperament? In fact, it was impossible to say what the human frame in some instances might not endure. Dr. Fergusson stated—Mr. Guthrie has recorded the case of a soldier who, in the regiment of which he was surgeon, had received in the course of his service 15,000 lashes.In the evidence given by Mr. Slade before the Committee of the House of Commons on Transportation, he stated that, as superintendent of a barrack in New South Wales, he was bound to see carried into effect a sentence of two convict servants to fifty lashes each; and Slade added—I, being an independent officer, and being anxious to do my duty, was determined to see the law properly administered; the consequence was, that 50 lashes under my superintendence were equal to 1,000 under any other man's ever before in the Colony. The lashes administered by others had been always conducted under the superintendence of parties who were liable to bribes; consequently the scourger, though you would think by looking at him that the force of his arm was 386 so great that every cut took effect, yet the result was, that hardly the skin was broken.Slade, therefore, having charge of the flogging department, took especial care that justice should be done on the sufferers:—I ordered the cats to have a handle about 2 feet long; I had five lashes put to them of whipcord, and on each of those I had about six or seven knots. I stood by, and saw every punishment inflicted myself; and in cases where the scourger did not do his duty, I adopted the system, as has been the practice in His Majesty's army, of having the scourger brought up to account for his relaxation of duty; and when the scourger discovered that I was determined that punishment should be duly inflicted, I found that, by superintending myself, 25 lashes, under my surveillance, had the same effect as 1,000 under any other person's hand.In the same way, here was the statement of an eye-witness of a flogging:—I have seen a drummer in the Coldstream Guards weeping, unnerved, and unable to strike with vigour during the whole 25 lashes; the drum-major continually beating him with his cane to keep him to his duty.The man perhaps being influenced by a natural feeling of humanity. In the unfortunate case which had lately attracted so much attention, it was stated that the party flogged as he thought best, and had no special instructions how to strike, or with what force. But what a frightful power was this to put into the hands of any man! It reminded him of a case in France, of which he was an eyewitness; an unfortunate man was ordered to be branded; staggering out of the prison he trod upon the foot of the executioner; this latter exclaimed, "You shall suffer for that," and thrusting the branding-iron into the fire till it was red hot, he drove it into the man's forehead until it met the bone, and said, "Now you will learn whether you are to tread on a gentleman's toes." But the severity of the punishment ought not to depend on the strength of any drummer or farrier. The power of inflicting even fifty lashes would open a door to great abuse. Some cases reported by Dr. Hamilton would serve to show how differently the same punishment might operate upon different men; let the House hear three of them:—Edwards, in the end of 1781, was sentenced to receive fifty lashes. He had got drunk, and otherwise misbehaved. In the army this number is accounted next to nothing. So much, however, did this small punishment affect him, that, notwithstanding every degree of attention to his case, it was upwards of three months before he could bear his cross-belts, or even move his arms to 387 work. Perhaps fifty more would have placed his life in most imminent danger. He was of a thin, tall, genteel shape—his hair black, but soft, woolly, and thin on his head, with a skin remarkably white and smooth.Henley, for desertion, received 200 lashes only; acute inflammation followed, and the back sloughed. When the wounds were cleaned, and the sloughed integuments removed, the back-bone and part of the shoulder-bone were laid bare. I never had seen so much of the muscular parts destroyed in any case from punishment before… It was upwards of seven months before he was so far recovered as to be able to do his duty.In 1803, at Chatham, a private of the 9th Regiment, having been found asleep on his post, was tried by a court martial, and sentenced to be flogged. The soldier was a fine-looking lad, and bore an excellent character in his regiment. The officers were much interested in his behalf, and it was said they endeavoured to prevail upon the general in command to give his case a favourable consideration, but without success. All the troops were assembled to witness the punishment, and during the infliction I saw the drum-major strike a drummer to the ground for not using his strength sufficiently. The man's back became black as the darkest mahogany, and greatly swelled. He was taken down at the recommendation of the medical officer, after he had received 229 lashes, and sent to the hospital, where he died in eight days, his back having mortified. I have witnessed 700 lashes inflicted, but I have never seen a man's back so black and swelled.It was supposed in many quarters that the presence of a medical man was some security; but what said Dr. Marshall—A medical officer, who is officially present at a military punishment, is placed in a most unenviable situation, being in some measure held responsible for the consequences of the injury thereby inflicted, which responsibility is obviously unjust, inasmuch as the punishment is too uncertain in its operation for any medical officer to ascertain the boundaries of danger. Moral feeling, age, strength, nervous irritability, climate, previous disease, organic defects, and other circumstances, many of which it would be impossible for the most skilful and the most careful to detect, may render a punishment fatal, which had been intended to be but moderate or lenient. No medical officer can answer either for the immediate or ultimate consequences of this species of corporal punishment. Inflammation of the back, or general fever, may occur after a very moderate infliction, which may terminate fatally, notwithstanding the greatest diligence and attention on the part of a well-informed, conscientious medical officer.With regard, again, to the legal position of the medical officer, what was the opinion of Dr. Paris and Mr. Fonblanque, writing on Medical Jurisprudence, and Dr. Smith, on Forensic Medicine?—It is generally supposed, that the surgeon who is present at a military execution is responsible for its consequences: this is not legally true, and it is physiologically impossible; the punishment is too uncertain in its operation to allow of any me- 388 dical officer ascertaining the boundaries of danger.… No surgeon can answer either for the ultimate or immediate consequences of this species of corporal punishment. He may, indeed, err on the safe side by interposing as early as possible, but there is no criterion by which he may be guided in forming an absolute opinion on the danger or safety of the punishment."—Paris and Fonblanque, vol. iii. p. 149.Let a medical officer bear in mind, whatever his sentiments may be concerning the nature of the punishment, that he has nothing to do with the merits of the case; and if the prisoner is able to endure the award, he has no business to stop the course of law or justice. If he gives way to his feelings once or twice, he will find himself unpleasantly situated, unless he can show satisfactory cause for his interference."—Forensic Medicine, by Dr. J. Gordon Smith, p. 403.How much, then, depended on the accident of the greater or less humanity of the surgeon, and his experience and knowledge! There were some men who at the sight of human suffering were instantly touched, and would do what they could to rescue a fellow creature from it; but there were others, cold and depraved and reckless, who could see execution done without repugnance, and many who could look upon human suffering without any sympathy or desire to mitigate it. There were many cases recorded in which the interference of the surgeon had not been attended to. Here was a case detailed by Dr. Marshall:—I once attended a corporal punishment, and suggested at what I considered due time to the commanding officer that the punishment should be suspended; but no attention was paid to my recommendation. The following case is a remarkable example of disregard to the suggestions of a medical officer: Dr. G—, surgeon to the — regiment, officially attended the punishment of a soldier in an island in the West Indies, who had been sentenced to receive 500 lashes. When about 250 lashes had been inflicted, Dr. G— recommended that he should be taken down, but the commanding officer lost his temper, and censured the surgeon for interfering; he at the same time declined to suspend the punishment. Nay, more, while the punishment was going on he continued to reprimand the medical officer for interfering, and finally ordered the adjutant to put him under arrest, which was done, and he remained under arrest until, in consequence of an appeal to the general officer, through the principal medical officer, he was liberated, having been confined for about ten days.What did Sir Charles Grey, formerly an hon. Member of that House, say on this subject? He said—The position of the surgeon is degrading to the noblest art to which human talent can attain, the art of healing, when the attendance of a medical man is rendered necessary, not to assuage pain and relieve suffering, but to ascertain the extreme limit of human endurance.389 Here was an unanswerable passage from Sir S. Romilly:—We tolerate," says Sir Samuel Romilly, "this species of punishment, this refinement of cruelty; we permit a fellow creature to be driven to the very verge of existence, a surgeon standing by to feel the pulse of the sufferer, and to pronounce at what moment exhausted nature can bear no additional infliction. Then, when his soul is about to forsake his body, and to leap into eternity, then, indeed, the poor wretch is taken down from the halberts, and removed into an hospital, where he is left, his body more at ease, but his mind still upon the rack, reflecting that the faster his wounds heal, the nearer he is to a renewal of his sufferings, and that his life is thus cherished by his tormenters only that it may be again subjected to their torments.He would not refer at any length to the recent case, which, in his mind, had most happily excited the public attention and the public indignation to this subject, and which he had no doubt had been the primary cause of the movement which had led to the contemplated alteration. He had nothing to say with reference to Colonel Whyte. He had no doubt that he was an average sample of the gallant officers composing our army. That gallant officer said he "had been devilishly well flogged in his boyhood;" and he had no doubt he was really a fair and honourable sample of the military profession; but he must say that, during the whole progress of this investigation, the subject was talked of with lightheartedness and indifference: that seemed to be the generally pervading tone of the remarks made on this occasion. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War might say this was an ordinary case, and formed no exception to the manner of dealing with soldiers in such cases; but on that subject there must be great difference of opinion, for on looking over the evidence at the inquest, it did appear to be somewhat contradictory. One man said, there was no difference in it from other cases. Others said, it was more severe than ordinary. One soldier said, "the punishment was exceedingly severe;" and Dr. Hall stated that "the punishment was inflicted in the usual manner, in the presence of Dr. Warren, and without any degree of severity calculated to attract more than an ordinary degree of attention." But he could scarcely believe his eyes when he read that Dr. Reid said, "This was the first case which had ever occurred among all the men who had been punished at home or abroad which had had a fatal termination." If it was so, what, he asked, was the value of such a gentleman's experience? Adjutant Ire- 390 land said, "he had seen many men worse flogged than White;" and the Colonel "never saw a man flogged more lightly than the unfortunate White." He believed this unfortunate case would yet lead to the total abolition of corporal punishment in the army; and if poor White's death was the means of ridding us of the system, he had not died in vain. It might be some consolation to him, if he could look down on what was passing here, to learn that his punishment was instrumental in suppressing so horrible a system. What was the unanimous verdict of a British jury in this case? A more important decision had seldom been come to, and, with the liberty of the House, he would now read it:—That the deceased soldier, Frederick John White, died on the 11th of July, 1846, from the mortal effects of a severe and cruel flogging of 150 lashes, which he received on the 15th of June, 1846, at the Cavalry Barracks on Hounslow Heath, at Heston; that the said flogging was inflicted upon his back and neck, under the sentence of a district court martial, composed of officers of the 7th Regiment of Hussars, held on the 10th of June previous, duly constituted for his trial. That the said court martial was authorized by law to pass the said severe and eruel sentence; that the flogging was inflicted upon him by two farriers in the presence of John James Whyte, the Lieutenant Colonel, and James Low Warren, the surgeon of the said regiment; and that so, and by means of the said flogging the death of the said Frederick John White was caused. In returning this verdict, the jury cannot refrain from expressing their horror and disgust at the existence of any law amongst the statutes or regulations of this realm, which permits the revolting punishment of flogging to he inflicted upon British soldiers; and at the same time the jury implore every man in this kingdom to join hand and heart in forwarding petitions to the Legislature, praying in the most urgent terms for the abolition of every law, order, and regulation which permits the disgraceful practice of flogging to remain one moment longer a slur upon the humanity and fair name of the people of this country.A jury of the people of this country recorded this as their verdict, and sent that verdict forth for the consideration of the House of Commons; and he called upon them, as the representatives of the people, to give effect to their verdict. The matter might, indeed, be summed up in a few words: "A man was whipped to death who was not condemned to death—a thing the British Parliament could not tolerate." But other cases had occurred within these few days. He saw that there had been two cases at Devonport. He had in his hand a paper of the 3rd of July, in which it was stated that—The brutal and demoralising practice of manflogging has been resorted to in two cases at De- 391 vonport. One of the victims of this barbarous mode of punishment was a man named Higgins, of the 55th Regiment, who had been found guilty of selling a portion of his kit, and of threatening to throw his boots at colour-sergeant Williams. The poor fellow was sentenced to 200 lashes; and one day last week the garrison was assembled in George's-square to witness the punishment. During its infliction, one of the soldiers informs us that Higgins 'never winked an eye,' or let a sound escape him. But notwithstanding this, the surgeon felt it necessary to stop the flogging when the man had received 150 of the 200 lashes, as the soldier, he said, could not safely take any more. During the infliction of the punishment, at least a dozen of the men were carried out of the square, they being unable to stand the distressing scene. Another soldier of the same regiment, named Lee, received 100 lashes and twelve days' imprisonment.Now, what was the effect of such scenes on all the parties concerned—on the soldiers, the floggers, and the spectators? They inflicted the lash on the soldier's back or shoulders—the spectators, almost as agonized as himself, witnessing his tortures. They then carried away the victim exhausted and bleeding; but was he anything the better for the awful visitation they had inflicted upon him? Did their inhumanity make that man who was bad either better or worse? The universal testimony was that it ruined the man. A person, who was many years a soldier, states, as the result of careful observation, that in "100 cases of flogging, 99 of them produced such a recklessness of character, such an entire annihilation of all self-respect, that the men were good for nothing afterwards."There is not an instance in a thousand," says Dr. Jackson, "where severe punishment has made a soldier what he ought to be; there are thousands where it has rendered those who were forgetful and careless, rather than vicious, insensible to honour, and abandoned to crime." "After an experience of thirty-one years' service," says Major M'Pherson, of the 99th Foot, "during the early part of which period I witnessed much military flogging, I have no hesitation in saying that I never knew a single instance of a bad character being reformed by it. I beg to express my firm belief that any mode of punishment is better than corporal punishments.And Dr. Fergusson has said—The lash when used judicially is a vile expedient, for every such exposure is the loss and ruin of the man. It has destroyed many a gallant spirit, and never reformed a bad one; for, however contrite and repentant the culprit may have been before this public disgrace, he is contrite no longer. Malignity and disaffection then take possession of his mind; for he feels that he has been disgraced and treated like a beast. It hardens the criminal of mature years, and makes the youth malignant and cowardly, or reckless. Let it henceforth be expunged from the rules of disci- 392 pline, and if that were once done, there can be little fear of the castigators soon being led to discover far more salutary and efficacious methods of correction.And what was the testimony of General Sir C. Napier? He says—I have seen many hundreds of men flogged, and have always observed that when the skin is thoroughly cut up or flayed off, the great pain subsides; and they bear the remainder without a groan. They will often lie as if without life, and the drummers appear to be flogging a lump of dead raw flesh. The faces of the spectators (soldiers) assumed a look of disgust; there was a low whispering sound, scarcely audible, issuing from the apparently stern and silent ranks—a sound arising from lips that spoke not, but that sound was produced by hearts that felt deeply.I have known" (says an old soldier in the Sketches and Tales of a Soldier's Life) "regiments entirely demoralized by a system of flogging. In a particular corps that came under my observation, and which for some time bore the name of the 'bloody regiment,' the consequence of this system was that all sense of shame was lost, and every blackguard made it a boast of manhood that he had received thousands of lashes on his back and on the calves of his legs—nay, in the fleshy part of his thighs. He who could name the greatest number considered himself the most honourable soldier.And what influence could the system have upon those who inflicted the punishment but that of brutalizing them?—for what other effect could follow the exercise of a task only comparable to that of the public executioner? They had often heard it noticed that the French drummer had a bold, manly, soldierly air about him—a manner which they might rest assured he would not long retain were he called upon to perform so degrading an office as that required of the drummer in the British service. If the feelings of the army were expressed on this question, if they could venture to convey a full statement of their sentiments with respect to the necessity of abolishing this system, that statement would be very unequivocally expressed. He had received letters most touching from officers who had been fifty years in the army, and had received communications in which it was ardently stated that, blessed would be the day on which this torture was taken out of their hands. One old soldier said, "Give us the power of death. It brings with it an awful responsibility, but it would be a most charitable exchange." What were the opinions of Lord W. Bentinck, which had been often referred to on the subject?—I, in common with ninety-nine hundred parts of the officers of the army, considered corporal punishment as the sole security against every military distemper, and as the sole guarantee for the efficiency and good regulation of the army. It is 393 only from reflection, from the effects of discussion, from the observation that, since that time, though corporal punishment a hundred, perhaps a thousandfold, discipline has decidedly improved, and the soldier treated like a rational being, and not as a brute, that my own prejudices, and that of others, have given way. I now feel confident that this degradation will speedily disappear before a more reasonable and enlightened legislation in the British army.Sir C. Napier said—It is the duty of Government at once to put rewards and punishment into full activity and in a complete manner, Thus the last will soon become obsolete; and this is the safest mode that can be adopted for the abolition of flogging.The system of flogging characterized our country almost alone. It had been abandoned by most of the civilized nations of Europe; and he asked whether there was something so essentially, so naturally base and brutal in British blood, that it only was to be subjected to this species of discipline? In 1839 the main strength of the French army was 317,578 men, of whom 4,367 were brought to trial, being one out of 73. There were 112 condemned to death; but of these 112 only five were executed, and of these five all had committed murders. Thus, in an army of 320,000 in France, death was inflicted on five, who would have suffered death by the laws of this country; 2,028 were imprisoned; 243 suffered hard labour, or imprisonment in irons; 220 were sentenced to the log; 419 to the public works; three were reduced to the ranks; and four were fined. The punishments were only 1 per cent, while in this country the number flogged was 1 per cent, and of other punishments 8 per cent; consequently the punishment in the British army, compared with that in the French army, was as 9 to 1. Punishment by flogging in the American army was abolished in 1812. In many respects their soldiers resembled our own; and he thought, that after thirty-four years' experience in America, we might determine to abolish the punishment now. Dr. Southey said—The martial laws of England are the most barbarous which at this day exist in Europe. The offender is sometimes sentenced to receive 1,000 lashes; a surgeon stands by to feel his pulse during the execution, and determine how long the flogging can be continued without killing him. When human nature can stand no more, he is remanded to prison (hospital), his wound—for from the shoulders to the loins it leaves him one wound—is dressed, and as soon as it is sufficiently healed to be laid open in the same manner, he is brought out to undergo the remainder of his sentence. And this is repeatedly and openly practised in a country where they read in their churches and in their 394 houses that Bible, in their own language, which saith, 'Forty stripes may the judge inflict upon the offender, and not exceed.'We had means not possessed by other countries which enabled us to abolish this system. We had penal Colonies and possessions in every part of the world, which would facilitate the adoption of any means to extinguish it. It might be asked what they intended to substitute for the present mode of punishment; but he did not think they were called on to reply to that question. It was their business to see that those corporal punishments were no longer tolerated — to show that public opinion would not allow them to be any longer inflicted; but it was for others to suggest the kinds of punishment to be substituted. He might point, however, at prolonged service, at diminished pensions, severe imprisonment, or anything but this horrible system. The abolition of it was demanded by the almost universal opinion of the nation. Most admirably had the press generally reflected the sentiments of the public mind on this question. The most eloquent and invaluable aid had been rendered by the press towards rooting up this intolerable abomination. Even that most strenuous supporter of Conservatism, Blackwood's Magazine, that very month had come forward and declared that this visitation must be got rid of; and that the time was come when flogging must be abolished in the British army. The press had suggested measures to be taken in substitution for this mode of punishment, most of which he could approve of. The hon. Member (Captain Layard) appeared to him to have made out an admirable case for the adoption of a limited service. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had pointed out an excellent remedy in a more easy access to commissions for non-commissioned officers. That was a remedy calculated to elevate the condition of the British army; and if it was determined to carry it into effect, he would venture to say that the people of this country would not put pounds, shillings, and pence into one scale, when in the other scale were placed the interests of humanity. As to the principal objection to limited service, if more relief were wanted in the Colonies, let more relief be granted. He was sure there would be found no indisposition, either on the part of Parliament or of the community, to concur in any changes, though they might be costly, which would enable us to get rid of this national evil. There was something in the details of this 395 horrid system at which humanity recoiled, and Christianity blushed; and with respect to which a man could not restrain his feelings when they came under his notice. Romance or poetry had painted nothing more harrowing than the details of this kind, which they continually met with in the newspapers. But it was very satisfactory to find that a diminution was determined upon. The noble Lord stated that the proportion of the whole army flogged was only one man in every 190. He observed that in 1826 the proportion was one in 50 according to the returns. It also appeared that the punishments in use in the army were now of a much lighter and tolerable character than formerly. Yet no one complained that the discipline of our army had deteriorated. The noble Lord had declared that the discipline of the army was in a satisfactory state. Nevertheless, it had always, up to the present day, been insisted that the power of punishment by flogging was indispensably necessary for the maintenance of that discipline. It was even yet so insisted, notwithstanding a great mitigation had taken place in the mode and extent of punishments, without any diminution of discipline. The Gentlemen of the army and the navy had always insisted that without this power the officers could not preserve discipline. Now, however, those Gentlemen, he was sure, must delight that the experiments which had been tried had proved successful in this country. In the Colonies the diminution of punishments was more striking. In the Windward and Leeward Islands, in 1817, the number of men per 1,000 admitted into hospital in consequence of flogging was 135; in 1836, it had come down to eight. In Jamaica, in 1817, the number was 193; in 1836 it had also come down to eight; and the same was the case in the whole of the Colonies; and could it be said that injury had been done? In consequence of this attention to the claims of humanity, was the army in the Colonies less efficient? Could any man say that any injury had been done by the infliction of a less amount of punishment? Dr. Fergusson said—Within the last half century the lash was in universal requisition. It was then the approved maxim that whipcord made the soldier; and the commander who spared the whip was to lay his account with having a bad regiment. In fact, the cruel discipline of the army outraged human nature, and stained the national character. The fruits were strikingly characteristic of the seed—universal depravity, desertion, crime, the halberds. Unless in the strictly national regiments, where character still bore its value, the common soldier 396 was a ruffian, than whom, when he came to be discharged, a more dangerous character could not be received back into the bosom of his country. Some regiments, under more enlightened commanders, at length tried the experiment of diminished flogging. The effect in many instances was magical; for crime disappeared along with the lash. Public opinion was brought to bear upon the infamy of the practice: and now, with one tithe, or less, of the cruelty, we have, in a tenfold degree, a better army.The Commissioners on Military Punishments truly said, that—No practice can be long maintained which is really contrary to the well-considered judgment and settled feelings of the country.He believed that the practice of flogging in the army was "contrary to the well-considered judgment and settled feelings" of the people; and that they demanded the abolition of it. He believed there was no longer any means of repressing the public agitation of this question. The remarks of the noble Lord were valuable on this account, that they would create some hopes that the present system was to be got rid of. It would be evident, he (Dr. Bowring) thought, that the noble Lord had been compelled to make some concessions to the prejudices of the army, and to the opinion of that distinguished man who was at the head of it; but nobody would believe that the noble Lord was not in favour of the total abolition of the punishment. The country would believe that the noble Lord had been temporarily overruled; but that the resistance at present offered by the Horse Guards would be removed in time. He (Dr. Bowring) hoped that the noble Duke at the head of the army, who had now made some concession to public opinion, but proposed still to maintain a fragment of that state of things which had been delivered over to public opprobrium, would before long consent to surrender this little fragment of cruelty which he still desired to retain; and that the period was not far off when this foul stain and stigma on the British name would no longer be suffered to exist. The noble Lord had referred to the fourth resolution of the Commissioners on Corporal Punishments; and he (Dr. Bowring) must say that resolution did hold out some hope that a time would come when the cat would no longer be used as an instrument of punishment. Let, then, the noble Lord give his aid to the advocates of that abolition. The noble Lord had done many popular acts; his history was associated with many things in which he might feel pride, and for which his country was grateful; he had done 397 much for the political emancipation of his countrymen; let him remove this disgusting oppression which hangs over the British soldier. Dr. Fergusson said—Flogging is so easy and compendious an operation, saves so much trouble to the instructor; and the power is so gratifying to human pride, that whoever has flogged men, women, or children (for the exception of the negro woman is yet a very recent one) will continue to flog as long as he is permitted to insist upon its being the perfection of human discipline.To be sure, the officers who inflict the punishment were not subject to it. Whatever offence the officers committed, they were not visited with this cruel punishment; and the fact was, that many of these offences which were so cruelly visited with punishment on the rank and file, were committed more in consequence of human infirmity than anything else; and against that neither officers nor men could guard; but these offences led to very different consequences. They were judged by a very different tribunal. They were visited by a very different degree of punishment, accordingly as they were perpetrated by the officers or the men. He was about to conclude with a prayer that the system might be speedily abolished which made of its victims nothing but wrecks and ruins. The time was come when it must be swept away. That which would have been tolerated fifty years ago, would no longer be tolerated; that which was blameable fifty years ago, could not now be forgiven; and therefore he said, without hesitation and without delay let the House resolve that flogging in the army be now and for ever abolished. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving as an Amendment—That in the opinion of this House, the punishment of Flogging in the Army ought to be immediately abolished.
MR. HENRY BERKELEY,
in rising to second the Motion, said, hon. Members must feel that the march of public opinion on this subject had been so rapid that it was no longer possible to pass by the question, or attempt to sneer at those who brought it forward. Whenever a civilian rose to speak on this question, he met with a sneer. However, the march of intelligence and the decided state of public opinion rendered the advocacy of the proposition of his hon. Friend more easy now than it had been. After due consideration he had come to the conclusion that it was essential to the best interests of the service that a practice, abhorrent to humanity and disgraceful to mankind, should be abolish- 398 ed. The debates which had arisen on this subject, presented the same remarkable feature in them, as in all the early discussions of great reform questions, viz., argument met by dictatorial assertion, and upset by large majorities. Such had been the career of every measure of reform, where reason would ever have been found to have been at first opposed by prejudice, and ultimately to have triumphed by the spread of intelligence and the pressure from without. He would not stop to point out the many vile laws and gross abuses which had yielded after the most protracted defence. But there was one institution now, thank God, no more, which seemed to him to have a strange analogy in its effects and details to the cherished system of military flogging—he meant the old custom of inflicting the question, or torture. There was just this difference—the soldier was tortured by way of punishment; the witness was tortured to compel him to speak the truth. The details of both species of torture, the ancient and the modern, were alike brutal and repulsive. The steel boot, with its frightful compression by wedges, had a fair rival in the dreadful scourge, with its torn flesh and quivering muscles. In both species of torture the presence of a surgeon was necessary, to mediate between human suffering and death. Both species of torture were too horrible to be endured by the bystanders. We read of Members of Parliament unable to endure the sight of the horrors they had ordered, and raw recruits faint by dozens at the ghastly sights in our barrack yards. Now, we turn with loathing and disgust from the barbarous times when the torture formed part of the high judicial privileges of Parliament; and yet we hug, with complacency, the same kind of power invested in our courts martial. Let us not forget, likewise, that when the rack, steel boot, and other hellish inventions were abolished, there were men, and high legal authorities, too, who mourned over their loss, and foretold the downfal of justice in consequence of it; just as there are now high military authorities who cling to the cat, and insist upon it that unless they are permitted to mangle mankind, there is an end of all discipline. How do they know this? Had it ever been tried? Never; but the French do not use the scourge, and they have a gallant and a well-disciplined army. It likewise seemed to him that there was a very invidious and infinitely too wide distinction made between the officers and privates of our army, going 399 far beyond that necessary distinction required for the maintenance of discipline. On that distinction, even in the days of Elizabeth, our great bard had commented—That in the captain's but a choleric word,Which in the soldier is rank blasphemy.Now, carrying this out, he complained that it was assumed that the profession of arms conferred upon the rich that right which it denied to the poor—the right of being considered a man of honour. As thus, a blow inflicted upon a man who had purchased a commission, and received good pay, was an insult which must be washed out in blood; but the man who went into the army at a cheaper rate, and was badly paid, was flogged and obliged to put up with any number of blows. But the flogged man, by good fortune, might be promoted and gain a commission, and the moment this occurred a blow would dishonour him; consequently, it was very evident that our military code did not admit of a feeling of honour in a private. Officers alone were privileged to be honourable men. The honourable profession of arms! In England, honourable only to those who wear broad cloth. He had often speculated upon the feelings of French officers in passing over a field of battle, when they viewed the stripped bodies of the slain, how it must astonish them that those heroes, who exposed their gallant breasts to the musket balls and bayonet thrusts, animated by a sense of honour and love of country, should bear on their lacerated backs the brand of the most degraded slavery. How they must congratulate their more fortunate service. Honour! An honourable profession as it applies to privates! A gross farce—honourable only in outward show. What so imposing as a soldier's funeral? There indeed was all the pomp, pride, and circumstance of glorious war—everything tending to manifest deep respect for the departed. The panoply of the dead soldier borne by a comrade, the reversed arms of the firing party party, the dead march, and the muffled drum—ay, but then stole in the reflection, that the same drum which was now muffled in honour of a departed hero, might have clamoured loudly on that morning to conceal the agonized shrieks of a whipped slave; and the drummer had probably performed the same office for the very man he now heralded to the grave with such respect. There were contradictions in all this which appeared to him most absurd. He was almost ashamed to offer to the House any further cases of 400 the evil of flogging after the full statement made by his hon. Friend the Member for Bolton; but he could not refrain from calling their attention to two letters he had received on the subject, both of which he assured the House were authentic; the one was from a clergyman of the Church of England, the other was from an officer in the army. The case from the officer in the army was to this effect:—In a certain regiment was a man of exemplary habits, honest, industrious, scrupulously punctilious in his military discipline and obeying orders, and so severe in censuring breach of discipline in others as to have acquired the nickname of 'Corporal Trim.' One day a visit from some friends caused him to break the golden rules of his whole military life; he got drunk, committed some act of gross insubordination, and was sentenced to the mildest punishment of the sort, and received a few lashes only. His former excellent character was now, however, the means resorted to by the envious and dissolute to taunt him with his present disgrace; his corporeal agony had ceased, but his mental anguish proved too severe for his constitution; the collapse of his moral energies caused the decay of his physical powers; he never held up his head again, and died in six months. The surgeon, of course, reported that he died of disease of the lungs, and a break up of the constitution. The regiment knew to a man that he died a victim to the lash.The other instance was related in a letter he had received from a clergyman of the Church of England. It was the case of a man, the son of an agricultural labourer, who had been bred by his father to a trade, and not liking it, enlisted in the army. He was absent for many years, and when he returned, set up in business in a place where his father was much respected, and succeeded in creating by degrees a good connexion. He formed an attachment to the daughter of a farmer; the family were very much opposed to the marriage, for they thought she was bestowing herself in an unworthy manner, and the parents refused to acknowledge the match. It took place, and in the course of a short time the man became well to do in the world, and was generally respected among the tradesmen of the town. Every prospect seemed to exist of a reconciliation taking place between the family of his wife and his own, when he went one day to the city of Bath (for the circumstance had happened in Somersetshire). There in the public gardens he was enjoying himself with his wife and child, as happy as any man could be, when a party of men slightly intoxicated drew near. The former soldier seemed startled, annoyed, and frightened and, from a want, of nerve or some unpleasant recollection, refused to accept the proffered hand of one 401 individual of the party. This person went away, and returning, again offered his hand, which was again refused, the first saying, "I do not recollect you." "Yes, you do," said the other, "you are in better circumstances than I am now, and are too proud to remember; but you must remember; for I cut you down from the triangles, and this is the hand you refused to grasp, which dressed the gashes in your bloody back." Fancy the effect; the man's prospect ruined for over by the fact of his having endured this disgraceful and demoralising punishment, which sticks by a man during the whole of his life. He returned to his village, but the story got about; the parents of his wife became more exasperated, and refused to notice him. He lost caste in the town in which he lived—his business fell off—he took to drinking—his wife became melancholy and wretched, and died. One morning, shortly afterwards, he knocked at the farmer's door, left his child there, and disappeared, since which he had never been heard of. The clergyman concluded his letter by saying that he had often seen in the village where this occurred, a little child driven home by the taunts of its school-fellows—the child of a flogged father. He (Mr. Berkeley) asked the House if such a state of things ought to exist? whether such a punishment could be at all measured by the crime? The effect of such a punishment was not simply its effect on the body: it also affected the mind, and it literally extended itself to the relations of the victim, and from generation to generation. This state of things was a disgrace to the nation, and ought to be done away with. From such instances as he had stated—and he was sure hundreds of such cases could easily be collected by members among their constituents—he had come to the conclusion that the system of corporal punishment was most destructive and demoralising. I object to the lash (said the hon. Member in conclusion), because it is degrading to that spirit of honour which should pervade the military service, and if used at all should be used in cases of the lowest moral grade, such as theft or bestiality, only. I object to the lash, because its indiscriminate use, as awarded by courts martial, is productive of that particular disorganization of the human frame, that collapse of the energies, mental and physical, commonly called a broken heart, the results of which are not confined to the victim alone, but extend to his relations. In short, Sir, it has been 402 well said, that as far inferior as is corporal pain to mental anguish, so do the pangs of a crushed reputation exceed the agonies of death; and because this atrocious species of punishment well exemplifies that axiom, I now second my hon. Friend's Motion with pleasure.
in justice to Colonel White, wished to say a few words; but before he adverted to the unfortunate occurrence at Hounslow, he would express his opinion on the general question. If he imagined that any undue severity or harshness had been exhibited in this particular case, he should be the last person in the House to stand up as the defender of the person who had shown it. His own opinion as to corporal punishment, founded on the experience of several years' service in the best disposed regiments, was, that it was absolutely necessary, constituted as the army at present was, to maintain the power. If it were possible, and no man would wish it more sincerely than himself, so to raise and better the condition of the British soldier as to render his dismissal from the service a punishment, he should most heartily rejoice. But so long as it was necessary for colonels to retain in their service men of the very worst character, on whom every other species of punishment would be wasted, whose conduct must be of the worst example to their comrades, it was impossible to do without it. The punishment, however, was one which, he admitted, ought to be administered cautiously, and with judgment. It was a notorious fact, that those regiments which were in the constant habit of seeing corporal punishment inflicted usually looked on with indifference at its infliction; and it was to be feared that in such cases it was of little service to the individual, and did not produce any beneficial effect by way of example. Great sensation had in some cases been occasioned in the public mind by statements to the effect that men who were drawn up to witness the infliction of flogging, found the sight too strong for their nerves and fainted away; but, for his part, he would not hesitate to say, that if he were a colonel in command, and were obliged to have recourse to corporal punishment at all, he would very much prefer seeing, the men faint away by sections, to seeing them look on in dogged silence and stolid indifference. Having offered these remarks on the general question, he now approached the consideration of the circumstances connected with the late unfor- 403 tunate occurrence at Hounslow; but, before doing so, he ventured to express a hope that the House would concede to him this position, that whatever might be the feeling in that House, or amongst the public, as to the propriety or impropriety of corporal punishment, nothing could be more unfair or unjust than to attach to individuals in authority the stigma and unpopularity with which a certain system was viewed, unless, indeed, it could be proved that they had exceeded their power, or committed some abuse in the execution of it. Many persons inside and outside of that House were anxious for the abolition of the punishment of death; but who that held such a doctrine would think of attaching odium or censure to the judges who pronounced the judgment of death on a criminal, or to the officers who carried that sentence into execution. And yet a course of conduct not at all dissimilar had been pursued in the present unfortunate instance. From the first moment that any allusion to the Hounslow case appeared in the public newspapers up to the present hour, Colonel Whyte, of the 7th Hussars, had been assailed with every kind of abuse and misrepresentation that calumny could invent, or falsehood furnish. It had been even asserted, that he had superseded the authority of the surgeon, and insisted on the punishment being proceeded with, notwithstanding that the surgeon had directed that the man should be taken down. There was not the slightest foundation in truth for any such assertion; but, notwithstanding that it had been contradicted, it had created such an impression against Colonel Whyte, that calumny upon calumny was heaped upon him, and in the public papers the two Whites—the colonel, and the private who had been punished—were put in juxtaposition; the one as the tyrant, and the other as the martyr. If he thought that the justification of Colonel Whyte required anything more than a mere statement of the actual facts of the case, he would not be the man to undertake his defence; but such was not the case. He would not go beyond a simple detail of the facts; nor was it necessary that he should, for facts were all powerful for his Friend's defence, and needed no ornaments of language. He would in a few words detail the circumstances of this unhappy case. The first fact he would call attention to was this, that for two years previous to the punishment of the private White, there had been only one case of corporal punish- 404 ment in the 7th Hussars; and in that case, not only had the man been flogged, but dismissed the regiment with ignominy. This proportion of punishment did not even come up to the calculation made by the noble Lord the Member for London. The second fact he would call attention to was, that Colonel Whyte had little more to do with the punishment of the delinquent than he had. Most assuredly he took no part in passing the sentence on him. The man had been guilty of an offence of the gravest and most serious character; and, taking into consideration his previous bad character, Colonel Whyte had felt it to be his duty to report the affair to the Horse Guards. This done, the matter was out of the colonel's hands. The report was taken into consideration at the Horse Guards; and it was from the Commander-in-Chief that the warrant issued in virtue of which the court martial was assembled. Nay, more, it should be borne in mind that Colonel Whyte did not sit on the court martial at all. He was not a member of the court. Up to this period, therefore, it was clear that Colonel White was quite blameless. The court investigated the case in all its bearings with the utmost care, and pronounced its sentence. That sentence was referred to the Horse Guards for approval. The authorities at the Horse Guards confirmed it, and gave their directions to the colonel to see it carried into effect in the usual way. This direction was implicitly obeyed. He had not heard it alleged that there was anything unusual in the manner in which this punishment was carried into effect. It was, in point of fact, carried out in the ordinary way; just as it would have been if Colonel White had not been there at all, or if some other officer had been in command of the regiment. Was it not evident, therefore, that no censure could with propriety be imputed to Colonel Whyte? But exception had been taken to the speech—to the observation, he would rather say—addressed by Colonel Whyte to the regiment, after the flogging, and to this the hon. Member for Finsbury had called attention; but he could not think that even here Colonel Whyte was reprehensible. It was the constant practice—nay, more, it was the duty of all commanding officers, after a punishment of this kind had taken place, to draw the attention of the troops present to the causes which had led to that punishment. Colonel Whyte had merely stated that the repetition of a similar course 405 of conduct to that pursued by the offender then present would be visited with similar punishment. Now, what was the conduct of private Whyte before the occurrence which had led to his being flogged? He had previously been found guilty of assaulting a policeman in Birmingham, of ill treating a woman and child, and of striking a corporal. All these offences he had committed before the offence for which he was condemned to corporal punishment. Under these circumstances no more proper speech could have been addressed to the regiment than that which Colonel Whyte addressed to it. The circumstances of the case not only justified it, but rendered it necessary. So much with respect to Colonel Whyte. With regard to Dr. Warren, the surgeon of the regiment, who had also been much maligned, all he would say was, that he appeared to be a very mild, kind-hearted man, and to have paid every attention in his power to his patient. Moreover, Dr. Warren, and other highly-competent medical men had on their oaths solemnly declared that they did not believe that the punishment of the unfortunate man had any connexion with his death. The hon. Member for Coventry had introduced an allusion to another case—that of a man who, he said, had been flogged for saying "hallo!" to a sergeant—
explained. He had not said that such was the man's offence. The circumstances as they appeared in the papers, and as they had been deposed to on oath by the man himself (Mathewson), were these. A sergeant called out to him to do something or another. Mathewson, on hearing the voice, cried "hollo!" The sergeant reprimanded him for using such a phrase. The man apologized; but on the sergeant persisting to reprimand him, he asked whether he wanted him to go on his knees? For this the man was brought before the commanding officer. Colonel Whyte reprimanded him, and the man rejoined by asking how he (the solder) was to address a sergeant? This was his offence. For this he was tried, and sentenced to receive 100 lashes. The statement appeared in the newspapers, and had never been contradicted.
would have no hesitation in contradicting it. It was by no means an accurate version of the story. A few days before this offence, Mathewson had been confined by the commanding officer of his troop for grossly disrespectful 406 conduct to him. The matter was reported to Colonel Whyte, who, on that occasion, displayed the utmost possible leniency. After admonishing him in the kindliest spirit, he tore up the charge before his eyes, and told him that he would forgive him, but at the same time warned him that any repetition of such conduct would certainly be visited with punishment. A week had not elapsed before the man was again brought before Colonel Whyte for insolence and insubordination to his sergeant. Nothing could be more difficult to define than what actually constituted insolence; but it should be remembered that a man might be insolent and insubordinate without uttering a single disrespectful word. The insolence might be in the tone and manner with which words of little harm in themselves might be pronounced. The sergeant, in the execution of his duty, called out to the man by name. The man answered surlily, "hillo!" The sergeant remonstrated, observing that that was not a proper way in which to address him. Mathewson replied that he did not know that it was a sergeant who was calling him. The sergeant's reply was exceedingly mild, and showed how unwilling he was to take offence. "If," said he, "you always made it a practice to answer properly and respectfully, it would be immaterial to you to know whether it was a sergeant or not." Mathewson then surlily replied, "Would you have me go on my knees to beg your pardon?" This he repeated several times, and as he continued to speak in a surly insulting manner, he was placed under arrest, and brought before Colonel Whyte. The colonel, however, so far from sentencing him to be flogged on this, the second occasion of his being brought before him, merely sentenced him to be confined for seven days in the guard-room. He then turned round and in the most insolent manner inquired, "How would you have me answer a sergeant?" The colonel merely replied that it was his duty to do so in a respectful manner. He (Colonel Peel) had read the evidence of all the witnesses who were present on this occasion—adjutant, corporals, privates, and all—and they one and all agreed that the conduct of this man to his superior officer was almost the most insubordinate they had ever witnessed. In marshalling him to the guard-room he muttered most insolently, and used language which could not be repeated in that House. One of his comrades, a private, remonstrated with him, saying, "Why 407 don't you hold your tongue? you will be sure to get 100 lashes." But he only laughed, observing that he would not be silenced by any one—officers, sergeants, corporals, or privates, as long as he was in the regiment. He was then taken up and brought to court martial. He (Colonel Peel) would not dwell further on the case. After what he had stated, he was sure that the House, however opposed to the system of corporal punishment, would concur with him in believing that Colonel Whyte and the officers of the 7th Hussars were actuated by no other motives but those which were suggested by a desire to do their duty.
confessed that he was shocked and disgusted with the statements which had been made respecting the practices which were permitted in the British army. The nation in which such a state of things was permitted to exist might call itself civilized, but the rest of the world would regard it as being in a state of comparative barbarity. The persons who were legally and constitutionally responsibile for such practices were the advisers of the Crown. The colonel of a regiment had no more power to flog a man than any corporal in the service. Powers had been given by Parliament to the Sovereign to issue such orders and regulations for the army as the Sovereign might think fit and necessary; but there was a special reservation with respect to the punishment of soldiers, that it was not to be such as to inflict injury on life or limb. It was further provided that the Secretary at War should sign every such order with his hand and seal. It was clear, therefore, that it was to the advisors of the Crown that the responsibility of these punishments properly belonged, and to them it should be practically attached. With respect to the proposition for reducing the number of lashes to fifty, he did not think that it would remedy the evil so much complained of. A flogging was not a less degrading punishment because it was limited to fifty lashes. Moreover, the change might not be conducive to humanity. One hundred and fifty lashes had been known to cause a frightful death; and fifty lashes might, under certain circumstances, be made to be as severe as 150 or 200. It very much depended on the weight and fashion of the instrument of torture. With regard to the late unfortunate event at Hounslow, it should not be forgotten that Mr. Wilson had unhesitatingly pronounced it as his 408 opinion that the man's death was caused by the flogging. Had it not been for the admirable conduct of that worthy Christian minister, the Rev. Mr. Trimmer, public attention would never have been called to the case at all. Mr. Trimmer had rendered a signal service to the cause of humanity, and done more for the good of the community than the whole bench of bishops. The system of flogging was an atrocious and disgraceful one. It was not permitted in Prussia; and Napoleon, as good a soldier as the Duke of Wellington, or any man that ever lived, abolished it in the French army. [Mr. B. OSBORNE: No, the Convention.] Well, be it so. Admitting that it was the Convention that abolished it, it was certain that it had never been re-established by Napoleon. The noble Lord at the head of the Government proposed to limit the number of lashes in the army; but what did he intend to do with respect to the navy, for which he was also responsible? He could prove that the infliction of 48 lashes (a power now vested in the captain of a ship) was as severe a punishment as 200 lashes in the army. A captain in the navy, at his mere whim and caprice, could order a man to be flogged to the extent of 48 lashes by merely filling up a blank warrant. He knew that this had been done for the most trivial offence, such as a man spitting on deck. It was true that the punishment could not be inflicted for the space of twelve hours. [Captain BERKELEY: For twenty-four hours.] Not so—the Admiralty order distinctly stated twelve hours. The whole country looked with astonishment and indignation at the punishment inflicted on those men who were called upon to hazard their lives in their country's service. It was not because certain generals and admirals expressed an opinion that flogging was necessary that it was to be retained; and if it was left to the discretion of such persons, it never would be got rid of. He therefore called upon the Government at once to take the subject into their own hands, and take the responsibility on themselves of getting rid of this system of flogging, for it was clear they must ultimately do so.
§ CAPTAIN LAYARD
said, that instead of being disappointed at the course taken by the noble Lord, he rejoiced that so far this cruel description of punishment would be done away with; and considering for how short a time this question had been affected by public opinion, he considered that they should feel gratified that so much had 409 been done. The Government deserved the greatest credit for having exercised its influence and authority with the heads of the army to bring about this result. [Mr. FOX MAULE: No, no!] Then, at any rate, the authorities in the army deserved great credit. It seemed, however, to him to have been a very late conversion on their account, for not a fortnight ago the extent of punishment by a general court martial was 200 lashes, by a district court martial 150 lashes, and by a regimental court martial 100 lashes; but now, for the future, no punishment by any description of court martial could exceed 50 lashes. He had long adhered to the opinion under which he had been brought up in the army, and felt for many years that this description of punishment was necessary. His hon. and gallant Friend opposite, some years ago, brought forward the question of flogging, when nothing could be more unpopular than interfering with the punishments of the army; but his hon. Friend's measure only went to lessen the punishments. On that occasion he had intended to come down to answer him, and to vote against the Motion; but he now had to thank his hon. Friend for having brought forward his Motion, as it had forced him to reconsider the subject, and he had arrived at an opposite conclusion to that which he had previously entertained. He had been prevented coming down to the House on the occasion to which he alluded; and he rejoiced that that had been the case, for if he had been present he should have voted against the Motion, and thus have done great injustice to the subject itself as well as to the soldiers of the British army. Since that time he had got all the information which he possibly could on the subject, and had consulted all the books that he could meet with on the matter, as well as the opinions of those of large professional experience, and the result that he had arrived at some time ago was, that he ought to bring forward a Motion for doing away with corporal punishments in the army. He, however, on reflection, thought that under the circumstances of the case at that particular time, his exertions in behalf of the soldier might do great injury. He knew that at that time public opinion was not with him; and those who entertained similar feelings to his were taken up with a great and absorbing subject; and if he had come forward with his proposition he should not have succeeded, and the result would have been to produce only discontent in a quar- 410 ter where no feeling of the kind should exist. As he saw no clear prospect of carrying his proposition, he thought, instead of bringing it forward so as to excite expectations and engender discontent, that it would be better to abstain from bringing the subject before the House until there was a greater probability of its being carried. The public mind was not then ripe for the subject; but now he believed that public opinion had been so roused on the subject, and had set in so strong a current, that no body of men could long resist it. He believed that the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and those who sat on the same bench with him, were the last who would stand in the way of public opinion. He (Captain Layard) knew that there were several Members on the benches opposite who entertained a strong opinion against flogging, and he trusted that the noble Lord would leave it as an open question, and he knew what the result would then be. He considered that Colonel Whyte and Dr. Warren, of the 7th Hussars, had been most unjustly attacked. As for poor White, who had unfortunately died, he felt bound to say that, if he had had command of a body of troops, and any soldier had struck a sergeant in the manner that White did, he would have had him brought to a general court martial, and would have had the punishment awarded by it carried out. He would not say a word on the other case of Mathewson; but in this proceeding he considered that Colonel Whyte and Dr. Warren had been most improperly attacked. He believed that since the French revolution, no case had occurred of a French soldier having been punished by flogging. He knew that his hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe, who had much studied the subject, thought that if they got rid of flogging entirely, that they must substitute the punishment of death in many cases. The learned Doctor who had so ably brought forward the subject, showed that there was no fear to be entertained on this point. His (Captain Layard's) own opinion was, that he would rather be shot than be flogged to the extent of 150 lashes. Lord W. Bentinck abolished corporal punishment in India; and he stated at that time that it was found that the high caste sepoys of Bengal would not submit to the punishment. Was this to be allowed as sufficient, when the soldiers of England, Ireland, and Scotland, must submit to be flogged. Two commissions, comprised of 411 officers in India, had been appointed in 1831–32, by Lord W. Bentinck, to investigate the whole question of military punishments; and both of them distinctly declared against the abolition of the punishment of flogging amongst the native troops. Notwithstanding this, Lord W. Bentinck persisted in his intentions, and stated that the members of these commissions seemed to labour under some infatuation that flogging in the army was the only means of securing disciplne. He (Captain Layard) believed that this noble and gallant Lord was right in the course which he took. This had long been adhered to in the Indian army; and if flogging was not essential for the maintenance of discipline amongst the native troops, why was it deemed so for the English soldiers? The Indian army was one of the largest in the world, and yet kept up its efficiency without resorting to flogging. [Mr. BERNAL: Flogging has been restored since in the Indian army.] He was sorry to hear it; but still this circumstance furnished him with an argument for the present Motion. It had been said, if they once did away with flogging in the army, they could not go back to it if it should appear that discipline could not be kept up without it. Would his hon. Friend tell him that they could not go back to this punishment in this country as well as in India? If they found that it was necessary—if they found that discipline could not be maintained without it — it would be time enough to go back to it; but was it not well to try the experiment? The noble Lord did not state whether there was to be any alteration as to the crimes for which these punishments were to be inflicted. The noble Lord said that punishments of 200, 150, and 100 lashes respectively were to be abolished, and a punishment not exceeding fifty lashes was to be substituted. [Lord J. RUSSELL said that there was to be a limitation of punishment to certain offences.] He had to complain of the present system of military punishments, for in many instances a man was punished more for a smaller offence than for one of the most serious character. For instance, if a man sold his shirt he would get flogged, but if he deserted they could not flog him. He held desertion to be one of the greatest crimes which a soldier could commit. It was an inducement to commit the greater crime of the two, for the man was sure to get the smaller punishment. Would any hon. Gentleman suggest that he was wrong on 412 this point? It was clear that the military law in this country was in a most imperfect state. The officers on a court martial were constantly puzzled in these procedings, and it repeatedly happened that these proceedings were sent back for revision, and that even for such a trivial cause as the neglecting to dot an "i," or cross a "t." The present Judge Advocate had made the observation to him that it was an extraordinary fact, that court martials always gave the fullest extent of punishment they were enabled by law to do. What was the reason of this? Gentlemen who had not been in the service did not know, and many who had served were not acquainted with the reason. It was the intention that there should be thirteen officers in a general court martial, seven in a district court martial, and five or three in a regimental court martial; after the evidence had been gone through, the junior officer was first called upon to give his opinion, guilty or not guilty; and so on, until all the opinions had been taken but the president's, who would have to give the casting voice. The junior officers might no doubt take a conscientious view of the evidence before them, and after two or three had declared themselves in favour of a verdict of guilty, it would have an influence with those immediately above them. The consequence was, that it often happened that the senior officers, who were the best judges of the case, had no voice in the matter. But after a man had been found guilty, a comparative boy, who had just entered the service, might be asked whether the soldier was to be flogged or confined, and he might declare for a flogging, with other juniors, so that the opinion of the senior officers might be overruled. He knew that the object of this arrangement in courts martial was that the senior officers should not have too great a bias; but it defeated itself. This arrangement operated to prevent a wholesome jurisdiction in the army. He recollected hearing of a case of a military court martial, in which, on the opinion being called, the junior member declared in favour of confinement. The president of it asked for how long? The junior officer said, for life. The president had to reply, that the law only allowed three months' imprisonment for the offence. He was sorry that the noble Lord, when he alluded to the many ameliorations which have taken place in the military service, made no allusion to that which would be the most beneficial, namely, limited en- 413 listment. He was satisfied that within a few years they would not be able to hold the army together without the adoption of this; and it would be found that this was the only sound and available mode of enlisting for the army. What was the case in the Russian army? The whip was not used in the Russian army on any officers or soldiers of the class of nobles; but instead of 1,000 or 800 lashes being inflicted, as was formerly the case in our army, twenty lashes was the greatest extent to which flogging could be carried in the Russian army. This was the state of things which existed in the Russian army when they were boasting of the kindness manifested in reducing the number of lashes from 200 to fifty. This information he had obtained from Mr. Marshall's recent book on military affairs. The fact was, that without the assistance of Mr. Marshall's valuable work, he could not have come forward with so full a statement as he had been enabled to do. He felt bound to say that the feeling of the army was, that great credit was due to that gentleman for the manner in which he had got up his book. He could read several anecdotes from this work which strikingly pointed out the effects of the present system of punishment, but he would not detain the House beyond referring to one or two of them. He found it stated that, some years ago, an order was issued by the commander at Belfast, stating that soldiers found wandering out of barracks after a certain hour should be fined five shillings each, or if they had not the money, that each should receive 100 lashes. Thus he supposed that 5s. was taken to be an equivalent for 100 lashes. He felt that the reduction of the military punishment from 200 to fifty lashes would not be sufficient, and he was convinced that with a limited enlistment they might safely do away with the lash altogether. It had been said that no encouragement for good conduct could do away with the lash. He did not ask for any increase in the pay of the troops; but he thought that the pensions and retiring allowances might be increased and he better apportioned, and this with limited enlistment would have the most beneficial effect. He asked, therefore, whether sound policy as well as humanity did not call for the prevention of crime by the means he had pointed out? He knew that there was a strong feeling on the part of many hon. Members in favour of ameliorating the condition of the soldier; and he thought 414 that the right hon. Baronet the late Secretary at War had been most attentive to everything brought under his consideration for this purpose. He differed in polities from the right hon. Gentleman; and he felt bound to say that, although he went several times to him, instead of refusing to listen to his suggestions, with the exception of the proposition on limited enlistment, he did everything which he (Captain Layard) asked. To show the fidelity of the troops of the British army, he would refer to an account in Mr. Marshall's book. The gallant captain then read an extract from this work, to the effect that some years ago a most serious riot broke out in a Scotch Highland regiment stationed at Glasgow, and such was the number of men who had taken part in it, that it was difficult to find who to select for punishment. The soldiers were made most sensible of the serious nature of their conduct, and four men came forward from the ranks and offered to give themselves up to punishment. They were subsequently tried, and, although they were found guilty and sentenced to be shot, three were reprieved; the fourth was shot. A circumstance, however, occurred on the march of three or four men in custody from Glasgow to Edinburgh, which showed the honour of a British soldier, even when exposed to an almost certainty of suffering death. He appealed to his commanding officer to allow him to return home, pledging his honour to return in time for the trial; and, worn out by fatigue and over exertion, he did arrive at the moment when the officer was giving up the other prisoners. Such were the men whom they were to submit to the degradation of the lash. It was also to be recollected that men who were so treated might immediately after be called into action; and yet where was there an instance of a commanding officer falling by the fire of his own men, though the lives of the officers were at such times necessarily very much exposed, should the soldiers entertain any animosity against them? But what did Sir Charles Napier say on this subject? That gallant general, on whose judgment and military skill so much dependance was now placed in India, expressed his decided hostility to the system of flogging in the army, in his Treatise on Military Discipline, published in 1837: Sir Charles enumerated eight specific objections which he had to the punishment of flogging. They were as follows:—1. That it is torture. All torture (said Sir 415 Charles) is objectionable, and therefore should be avoided, when to avoid it is possible; it savours too strongly of vengeance, which is not the object of law. Torture is worse than death to many who suffer; to some it is both agonizing and fatal. Yet no crime can demand from mortal judges a greater punishment than death; so that he whose crime, at most, only merits a moderate share of pain, may suffer a greater punishment than is established for the monster whose fell deeds seem to merit death in this world, and court damnation in the next. 2. That it is torture of very unequal infliction. Drummers can so flog a man that he could receive 1,000 lashes, and it is probable they could kill a strong man with 500. 3. Because it is an unequal punishment; some men being able to bear a much larger infliction than others. 4. Because the variety of the punishment is in some measure in the option or according to the strength of the drummers employed, and also according to the temper of the commanding officer and drum-major. 5. Because the state of a man's health and ability of a man to endure severe corporal punishment cannot be always correctly ascertained. 6. Because the danger of life from flogging is greater in a tropical than a temperate climate. The fact is, that medical officers are placed in a most unfair and perilous position. The danger to which the life of the culprit and the life of the surgeon are exposed, appears to be a powerful objection to this punishment. As to making the surgeon responsible, it is unjust to do so. The law places a man by force in a certain position, and orders him to act according to the best of his judgment; he does so, and there is an end of the matter, whatever may be the consequence, unless it can be shown he was drunk or mad. 7. Because the punishment of flogging is not only an unequal infliction for the above reasons, namely, that for similar offences it is applied by unequal force, in unequal quantities, and by unequal wills, to unequal powers of endurance; but also the first punishment is the most cruel. 8. Because the lash brands the sufferer with indelible marks." Sir C. Napier said, "That although martial law has been influenced by the spirit of the age, and softened both in its ordinance and its practice, we have maintained, if not surpassed our former military glory and discipline. Can we have a more satisfactory evidence that military discipline may be established and sustained without the frequent infliction of excessively severe punishment.That seventh reason was, in his mind, the strongest of all. If they had maintained the military glory of the country unimpaired with a diminution of punishment, was it not an argument for supposing that they might perpetuate that glory with an entire abolition of this degrading system of discipline? Was it necessary for him to proceed further with authorities in favour of his position? He thought not; but yet he would beg to trouble the House with the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who was then speaking to the Secretary to the Admiralty (Sir John C. Hobhouse). He was sure the right hon. Gentleman had not forgotten his former opinion on this subject, because it was a 416 humane one. On the 15th of March, 1824, the honourable Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) brought forward a Motion for the abolition of flogging in the army, which was lost by a majority of twenty-seven. On the 12th of March, 1827, the same Motion was brought again before the House by Mr. Leycester, and on that occasion he found the following remarks attributed to the right honourable Gentleman:—He had the other night expressed a wish to see a clause in the Bill, making it necessary that the persons composing a court martial should be unanimous previous to its passing any sentence. The noble Secretary at War had objected, that any factious subaltern might then, in order to acquire popularity, prevent any corporal punishment from being inflicted in the regiment. He did not know how it could be reconciled, that one out of five on a court martial, should not prevent a sentence, seeing that twelve men were required to be unanimous in our courts, before the slightest punishment could be inflicted. The improvement he proposed was only a palliative; and, perhaps, it would not be wise to attempt a reform in what was radically bad. He had attentively listened to what had fallen from the gallant officers in the army on this subject; but the only reason they gave for defending it, that he could discover, was, that it ought to be continued because it had existed. But this, he thought, was bad reasoning, and not such as should induce the House to continue such a degradation on our brave defenders. He had heard an officer say, that in his regiment some of the men were brought out so frequently to be flogged, that they were known by the name of the flogging-blocks; and this circumstance demonstrated that, so far from flogging making them better soldiers or men, no good could be derived from it; and as no benefit resulted from the revolting custom, it ought to be abolished as being a national disgrace, and as placing our army in its discipline and honour second to that of France.He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman remained of the same opinion still, though in the interim he (Captain Layard) had, he rejoiced to think, changed his on the same point. He gave full credit to hon. Gentlemen who differed from him on this subject, because he knew that they were actuated by a feeling of the great difficulty which they believed to exist in maintaining the discipline of the army without such a system of punishment. He knew that they felt that an army without discipline was only to be feared by the unfortunate country in which it was stationed. He could only say for himself, that while on service he had obeyed implicitly those who had been his commanding officers, and that he made those who happened to serve under him also obey him implicitly. He did not mean to say that those honourable Gentlemen thought a more Christian and a better 417 mode of discipline might not be adopted than that which they advocated; but he knew it was for the sake of the country that they resisted this Motion. It was not that they loved Cæsar less, but that they loved Rome more. It was for fear that they might bring a curse on the country, which an undisciplined army would surely prove, that they dreaded the entire abolition of this species of punishment. He would, however, again beg to remind them of the opinions of the professional men who had been quoted. He need not allude to the opinion of Sir Charles Grey, as it had been already referred to by the learned Doctor who had brought forward this Motion; but he might mention, in addition, the opinion of Lord Lauderdale in support of the view which he advocated. It was, that public opinion could not be held too sacred by public men—that the voice of enlightened public opinion was irresistible—and, that nothing but time was wanting to render it triumphant. The recent unfortunate affair at Hounslow had given an impetus to the voice of public opinion against this degrading punishment, which must have the effect of setting it shortly, and he trusted finally, at rest. He would conclude in the words of another medical witness (Dr. Malcolmson) on this subject:—There can be no doubt," said Dr. Malcolmson, "of the truth of the principle that no punishment can be just, or, in the eye of God, lawful, which tends to impair the efficiency, injure the health, and shorten the life of the soldier, or which produces any effect that cannot be estimated by the judges when they assign a punishment for an offence. Let us recollect that soldiers are men of like appetites and passions with ourselves, and let us act toward them according to the dictates of humanity and the lessons of experience. Military law and military usages, where wisely and justly administered, like the law of God, do not desire the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live. Good men may be made bad; but bad men will not be made good by degrading and depreciating them.
§ MR. NEVILLE
thought every one would hail the present reduction in the amount of corporal punishment as a step towards its total abolition; those who wished to continue the power of inflicting it, only did so from a fear that the abolition might militate against the discipline of the army. The reason for that apprehension was alleged to be the present state of the soldier: let them, then, instead of recurring to obsolete horrors, strain every nerve to elevate his condition. He had listened with great interest to the speech 418 of the noble Lord; but he thought he had laid too much stress on the prisons that were preparing for the incarceration of the soldier; the schools, gardens, and commissions the noble Lord had alluded to, were also but a very few steps towards bettering the soldier's condition. When the private soldier had had a commission conferred on him, he had not disgraced it; he could not but recollect that he occupied the seat filled before him by a gallant General who had risen from the ranks. But while they were urging on the House the propriety of ameliorating the condition of the private soldier, they should not forget the condition of the inferior officers—not inferior in valour or zeal for the defence of their country, but who, from the chances of war or misfortune, had not risen to the high rank he had just alluded to. The Military Knights of Windsor were established by Edward VI., a refuge for those who had spent their lives in the service of their country. But the allowance they received was very scanty, and remained unaltered till the reign of James I., who added something to it; at that amount it had remained ever since, At the present moment the knights had nothing but their houses and about 40l. a year each. His late Majesty William IV. promised them a considerable addition, which would have made the allowance 100l. a year for the knights, and 150l. for the governor; but, unfortunately for the knights, His Majesty died before he could carry out the intention. It was too late in the Session to take any steps to bring the case of these gentlemen under consideration, but he had availed himself of a favourable opportunity for mentioning it; and he trusted the kindness with which the state of the private soldier had been regarded, would ere long place the class he had alluded to on a footing becoming officers and gentlemen.
though unwilling to intrude on the attention of the House, would not shrink from a public duty because the question was a painful and embarrassing one. He was deeply interested in the efficacy of the profession to which he had the honour to belong, and to which he was warmly attached. He had served in the army for nearly thirty years; and, during some portion of that time, having commanded a regiment, he had necessarily acquired some experience as to the efficacy of punishments. If it was painful to a humane mind to reflect on a fellow creature 419 subjected to personal chastisement, much more painful was it to witness the infliction. He hoped, therefore, the House would believe that nothing but a firm and settled conviction that the time had not yet arrived for the entire abolition of corporal punishment induced him for a moment to hesitate in supporting the Motion. It was his deliberate opinion, formed from long experience, that it was utterly impossible to abolish flogging altogether. There were two punishments awarded for military offences—corporal chastisement and imprisonment. The offences committed in the army might be divided into two classes—offences purely military, such as insubordination and mutiny, and moral offences. If corporal punishment were abolished, a court martial would only be able to award one kind of punishment to each class of offences. Now, he thought the man who broke open the box of a comrade, and stole the small savings of his pay, ought to be punished more severely than a man charged with neglect of duty, or drunkenness. As to the moral effect of punishment, he believed that imprisonment was in many cases inoperative as an example. Criminal justice in the army was not retributive; men were there punished to deter others from crime, and to prevent the repetition of it by the offender himself. But by hardened and bad soldiers imprisonment would be scarcely felt; it would sometimes be rather a relief than otherwise. Under the present regulations, imprisonment was not so severely felt as it was a few years ago. Men were not sent to the county gaol, but to a military prison, which was little more than going from one barrack to another; nor was it attended with the moral disgrace that attached to imprisonment in the county gaol. Corporal punishment did not produce a great moral effect; the mere existence of the power to inflict it was efficacious; it was the only punishment a bad man feared, both for the moral disgrace attending it, and the physical infliction. It was easy to decry it, to inflame the public mind, and to declaim against it; but many of the assertions were groundless. How often was it said that the soldiers viewed corporal punishment with abhorrence and disgust, and that they felt ashamed to belong to a service in which they were subjected to it: he utterly denied that such was the feeling in the army. In a well-disciplined regiment, he firmly believed the men were just as jealous of its reputation as the officers; and they viewed 420 the punishment of a man who, by his conduct, had injured that reputation, with no such feelings of disgust. Some years ago, there was a practice in the army which he thought an excellent one, though now forbidden by the Commander-in-Chief, of the private soldiers bringing their comrades to what was called a troop court martial. If a man did anything to disgrace his troop, and his comrades felt the reputation of the regiment suffering, they held a court martial on him. The proceedings were conducted with as much solemnity and punctiliousness as those of a court martial of officers; and in every instance where the offence was proved, corporal punishment was awarded. The practice was abolished by the Commander-in-Chief, from an apprehension that that punishment might be inflicted too severely. Instead of declaiming against this punishment, and interfering with the discipline of the army, they should direct attention to the moral condition of the soldier. They should endeavour to elevate his character and position, to kindle in his breast the feelings of self-respect and personal pride, to attend to his comforts, and make the barracks his home. He had had the gratification of witnessing the effects of this moral system. In the regiment he had the honour to command, crime was almost unknown, and irregularities were of rare occurrence. For whole months there had not been a case of irregularity, and in the space of twelve years but two cases of corporal punishment; and in those cases, if the offenders had been tried by the civil power, they would have been transported for life. He would mention one of these cases, to show the efficacy of corporal punishment. There had been several thefts in the regiment, and the men were most anxious to discover the offender; at last they succeeded in detecting him; he was tried by a district court martial, and sentenced to corporal punishment. He felt that the discipline and state of the regiment did not render the punishment necessary by way of example, and he therefore solicited the remitting of the sentence, and permission to dismiss the man with ignominy from the regiment. The Commander-in-Chief determined that the punishment should be carried out; the sentence was accordingly executed, and from that hour to the present there had been no recurrence of a similar offence. This was a fair evidence of its efficacy in checking crime. In the regiment to which he belonged, high moral offences scarcely ever 421 occurred, which he attributed to the officers doing everything they could to ameliorate the condition of the men, by attending to their comforts, contributing to their amusements, and to the improvement of their moral condition. Every suggestion mentioned by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), on the part of the Government, had been carried out years and years ago in his regiment, and in other regiments of the Household Brigade. A library was established in his regiment before the Government thought of such a thing; a reading-room had been provided, furnished with periodicals, newspapers, and maps, and everything that could induce the men to frequent it. The gardens the noble Lord spoke of had been formed, and in the Household Brigade the men had portions of ground to cultivate. He had tried also to establish a savings-bank in his regiment, but this he regretted to say had entirely failed; the men would not deposit a farthing in it, though they were lodging sums of money in other banks, and he guaranteed them four per cent for what they deposited. He at last discovered the cause: it was a want of confidence in the civil authorities of the army. The men had an idea that there was an intention to reduce their pay, and they dared not deposit their money in the regimental bank lest it should be used as evidence against them that they had more money than they wanted, thus increasing the chance of a reduction being made in their pay. It was tender ground, but he could not help saying that the civil department of the army was by no means so perfect as it might be. The comforts of the soldier were neglected. A great deal had been done; but a great deal more ought to be done. With respect to the comforts of the soldier, would the House believe that, at this moment, soldiers had not common means of properly washing themselves? Personal cleanliness was a great point of discipline, most strictly enforced, and if a soldier appeared dirty on parade he was liable to punishment. Now not less than twenty or thirty men slept in one room, and the only means they had of washing themselves was a couple of buckets of water, and they had all to wash in them. Then the crowded way in which they lived, twenty or thirty men being crowded into one room, had an ill effect upon their health. At the age of forty or forty-five, a man became old and unfit for service, and he could only attribute this to the foul air the soldiers breathed. The win- 422 dows could not be opened, because a man slept close to the window. In regard to their condition in after life, day after day his heart had bled at the visits of old soldiers, who were almost pennyless and destitute. After twenty-four years' service they had a pension of only 6d. a day. When he had the command of the regiment, he had recommended that old soldiers should obtain their discharge before they were worn out, in order that they might get civil employment. If they remained in the regiment till they were worn out, they were unfit for anything, and then their only resource was the miserable pittance of 6d. a day. He had considered it to be his duty to recommend men to apply for their discharge: they were allowed to do so, submitting to a modified pension, a deduction of 2d. from the 6d. He had told men that it was better to submit to this modified pension whilst they were able-bodied. There was a case of a man named Batley, who had an opportunity of getting a very good situation; and he took his (Colonel Reid's) advice, and applied for his discharge. He had been in the regiment thirty-one years, but his service only counted twenty-four, as he was a boy when he first came into the regiment as a trumpeter, and he rose to be trumpet-major. He had an opportunity of being band-master to a yeomanry regiment, and he consented to apply for his discharge upon the modified pension; and he (Colonel Reid) wrote to the Adjutant General on the subject. The following correspondence took place:—
§ "Hyde-park Barracks, September 6, 1844.
§ "Sir—I have the honour to transmit to you a statement of the services of the man named in the margin (2nd Life Guards, Trumpet Major, as sergeant, William Batley), who applies for his discharge, with modified pension, as sanctioned by the King's warrant, dated 14th of November, 1829; and to request that you will be pleased to give the necessary instructions respecting him.
§ "GEORGE ALEXANDER REID,
§ "Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel,
§ 2nd Life Guards.
§ "The Adjutant General of the Forces, &c."
§ "Horse Guards, September 30, 1844.
§ "Sir—By the Commander-in-Chief's desire, I have the honour to acquaint you that your letter of the 6th instant, proposing Trumpet Major Batley, of the 2nd Life Guards, for admission to modified pension, having been referred to the War Office in the usual manner, the Secretary at War requests to be informed whether there are any special circumstances in the case of that individual which have led to his being recommended for the indulgence in question for the present year in 423 addition to Corporal Shields.—I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient humble servant,
§ "JOHN MACDONALD, A.G.
§ "Colonel Reid, commanding, 2nd Life Guards."
§ "Hyde-park Barracks, October 2, 1844.
§ "Sir—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, dated the 30th of September, desiring to know, for the information of the Secretary at War, whether there are any special circumstances in the case of Trumpet Major Batley, of the 2nd Life Guards, which have led to his being recommended for admission to a modified pension.
§ "In reply, I beg to state that I have recommended this individual for the indulgence in question, on the grounds of his good conduct and his length of service, agreeably to Articles 47 and 48 in the Pension Warrant, dated November 14, 1829. "GEORGE ALEXANDER REID,
§ "Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel,
§ 2nd Life Guards.
§ "The Adjutant General of the Forces."
§ "Horse Guards, October 3, 1844.
§ "Sir—In reply to your letter of yesterday's date, I have the honour to acquaint you, that as there are no special circumstances connected with the case of Trumpet Major Batley, rendering it expedient to press his immediate admission to modified pension upon the notice of the Secretary at War, who has laid down a rule that the selection of the indulgence shall not exceed the proportion of one man annually for every regiment of cavalry, the Commander-in-Chief would prefer your renewing your application in favour of the individual in question in the early part of April next. — I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient humble Servant, "JOHN MACDONALD, A.G.
§ "Colonel Reid, commanding, 2nd Life Guards."
§ "Knightsbridge Barracks, October 10, 1844.
§ "Sir—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, dated 3rd instant, acquainting me 'that as there are no special circumstances connected with the case of Trumpet Major Batley, rendering it expedient to press his immediate admission to modified pension, upon the notice of the Secretary at War, who has laid down a rule that the selection for the indulgence shall not exceed the proportion of one man annually for every regiment of cavalry, the Commander-in-Chief would prefer your renewing your application in favour of the individual in question in the early part of April next.'
§ "Entertaining a strong opinion as to the salutary effect and expediency of the new rule, I beg to be permitted to draw your attention to it, in the hope that through your instrumentality it may be reconsidered by Her Majesty's Secretary at War. The injurious tendency of this restriction will be best seen by pointing out the advantages of the hitherto more extended indulgence—advantages which, in my opinion, have not only accrued to the old soldier but to the public.
§ "The wretched condition of discharged old soldiers, who have no other means of subsistence than their scanty pension, is so distressing as to excite the sympathy of all classes of the community. Participating warmly in this general sympathy, it has been my earnest desire, ever since I assumed the command of the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards, to secure to deserving old soldiers 424 the certainty of some civil employment previously to applying for their discharge; but it now becomes hopeless to obtain for them any such situations if they are not to be discharged, until they are absolutely worn out, and are no longer able-bodied. I have hitherto encouraged those of twenty-four years' service to look out for civil employment, and have endeavoured to make them sensible of the prudence of applying for a modified pension, rather than wait until their health is so seriously broken as to render them unfit for any employment.
§ "The benefit of this advice has, I have the satisfaction to know, been experienced in this regiment; old soldiers are fully sensible of it, and appreciate the consideration manifested towards them. But this new restriction is a death-blow to their future comfort and welfare, and the good old soldier who has taken care of his health and preserved his physical strength by habits of temperance and regularity, is, as to the future, in no better position than the drunkard or habitual defaulter.
§ "Another great disadvantage of this new measure is, I think, in the tendency it indirectly has to eneourage malingering. As soon as an old soldier has a chance or opportunity of obtaining a situation in civil life, he will now find his way very quickly to the hospital, and from that hour there is virtually an end of his services. Malingering is not easy of detection at any time; but in the case of an old soldier most difficult. And is it not to be regretted, in a moral as well as a military point of view, that a soldier of good character should be thus tempted, by the severity of this rule, to act dishonestly and fraudulently? I could cite several instances of men in this humble sphere of life who have spurned the idea of feigning disability for the sake of additional pension; but when they find that their freedom is wholly denied to them, after a steady and faithful discharge of their duties during the best part of their lives, and when they are ready to forfeit a portion of their well-earned pension, can it be a matter of surprise or of reprobation that they should now have recourse to a stratagem for the purpose of effecting their discharge?
§ "Nor in a finaneial point of view can I see the advantage of this new rule. A man who wants his discharge and is not allowed to have it upon a modified pension, will, as I have already observed, soon manage to be invalided, in spite of the surgeon's scrupulous and faithful discharge of his duty, and the public then lose the difference between the two pensions during the remainder of that man's life.
§ "Taking this view of the question, and being thoroughly convinced that this new restriction is in its operation practically injurious alike to the soldier and to the public, I would earnestly recommend the reconsideration of it; and I conscientiously feel that the indulgence, instead of being contracted by confining it to one man annually, ought to be extended unconditionally to every good soldier who has completed his 24th year of service. "GEORGE ALEXANDER REID,
§ "Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel,
§ 2nd Life Guards.
§ "The Adjutant General of the Forces."
§ What was the consequence of this refusal? The man lost the situation; and in that very year he had his discharge upon the 425 full pension. This was the operation of the rule. He should not trouble the House with any further observations. He thought that the time had not arrived for the abolition of flogging; but he did think that in a short time it would arrive, and that it would be accelerated by the Legislature attending more than it had hitherto done to the personal comforts of the soldier.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
said, as it was his intention, in the event of the failure of the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, to press the Motion of which he had himself given notice, for the abolition of corporal punishment, save for offences committed on a line of march, mutiny, or theft, and in those cases to limit the number of lashes to fifty, perhaps it would be convenient to the House if he were to make the remarks upon the present occasion which he intended to have made upon his own Motion. He had listened with great pleasure to the remarks of the gallant Officer who last addressed the House, with reference to the great discomfort which the soldier suffered, as well as to the pleasing testimony which he bore of the good discipline in his own regiment. He (Mr. Osborne), however, could not exactly agree in the deduction which the gallant Officer drew from that circumstance, that the time had not yet arrived for the abolition of corporal punishment. He thought, if the Motion of the hon. Gentleman below him should not be carried, that the House would exercise a wise discretion in making the experiment of the abolition on the Household Brigade, to which the gallant Officer had once belonged; and in which regiment there was a better class of men than in any other. The gallant Officer had warned the House not to be led away by any hasty and ill-digested feeling of sympathy. In that warning, he (Mr. Osborne) concurred; for he felt that, in dealing with this subject, they should endeavour to take a practical view of it; and not attempt to lead away the House with inflated statements of what took place forty years ago. Agreeing, as he did generally, with the hon. Member for Bolton, he did not like the raw head and bloody-bone style of oratory. They must deal with the question practically. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Amendment had thought proper to lead away the House by asking, in the most pathetical manner, whether it were not a shocking thing that the drum which followed the soldier to his grave, should upon another occasion be employed to 426 drown his cries? He knew not of what time the hon. Member spoke; but he could only say that such a thing as using the drum to drown the cries of a soldier under punishment was never heard of in these days—it could only have existed in the hon. Member's imagination; and was like some of those touching stories which the hon. Member was in the habit of inserting in the newspapers. He held that the question before the House was not a mere question of secondary punishments: for it involved not only the whole nature and discipline of the army, but the safety and peace of society. It might be as well to glance for a moment at the origin of corporal punishment in the army; and perhaps those who were so great admirers of revolutions would not be disposed to think so well of William III. when he informed them that it was first introduced after the Revolution, in the reign of that monarch. The fact was, it had always been the policy of the State to degrade the trade of the soldier so low that nothing but the most ignominious punishment was of any avail. He found that by the Act of 1704 the magistrates were empowered to press all men into Her Majesty's land service who had no vote for a Member of Parliament. By that Act, also, the punishment of death was awarded for desertion, which was construed to apply to all who were one mile distant from the camp without leave; and at that very time the enlistment of felons was allowed by Act of Parliament. In 1752 a Bill for mitigating military punishments was introduced into Parliament; but it was thrown out by the Duke of Cumberland, the then Commander-in-Chief, who thought that the system then in vogue could not be dispensed with, though the military code of that time, as Horace Walpole had testified, was so extremely severe that death was a very common punishment. In looking at this question, it was necessary to consider how far flogging was a necessary part of the punishment of this country in its prison discipline; and he found that in the year 1832 there were 2,082 persons flogged in the prisons in England and Wales, by order of the civil authorities. In the same year, the number of soldiers flogged was 485. In the present year 36 persons had been flogged in the county of Middlesex alone. In 1827, after corporal punishment had been done away with in the Milbank Penitentiary, the present Lord Bexley, a man remarkable for his humanity, was compelled to recom- 427 mend its renewal in that Penitentiary, finding that the secondary punishment of solitary confinement was by no means safe or effectual. The Committee stated that they were convincedThe framers of the statute under which the Penitentiary is now governed acted erroneously in remitting the power of inflicting corporal punishments.His great objection to flogging, as inflicted at present, was, that it might not be a secondary punishment; for that it might and often did lead to the destruction of a man's life or his reason. Here, however, they had a nobleman of the greatest humanity, belonging to the high evangelical party of this country, calling upon them to restore the application of corporal punishment to the inmates of Milbank Penitentiary, because the secondary punishment of solitary confinement was not found effectual. With regard to the system of punishment in the French army, the House would find that flogging was abolished in 1794; and that was, because no Frenchman in France, whether in a civil or a military station, in prison or out of prison, could be punished by flogging. But what were the punishments in France? The number of offences for which death was awarded in the French army was 45. His gallant Friend near him (Captain Layard) said, that he would rather be shot than be flogged. That might be very well; but he (Mr. Osborne) knew that that was not the feeling of the British army, and what was more, that the British public would not allow the substitution of death for flogging. Other punishments in the French army were imprisonment for a number of years, with or without the boulet, that was a cannon ball attached to the culprit's leg; and of such a nature was that punishment, that Lord Hill had described it as being more fit for a beast than a man. He (Mr. Osborne), however, did not agree with Lord Hill upon that point; for he thought that the boulet was preferable to flogging. There were 19 offences also for which the French soldier was sentenced to the galleys. His gallant Friend near him (Captain Layard) had ridiculed the notion that the soldier was not well fed; but he asserted, considering all the privations and hardships which the soldier had to endure, that he was not adequately fed; and he found also, from Dr. Wade's History of the Middle and Working Classes, that the pay of soldiers in the army for the last 200 years had been much under the wages of any 428 other labouring man, a circumstance for which the author accounted in the following terms:—The army is mostly filled from the same set as the gaols; muscular strength and not character is required; hence the low rate of wages. The army has long been the lowest trade in this country, being the common sewer for unemployed labour.He was astonished, under the circumstances, to hear the hon. Member for Coventry talk of 36,000l. a year for soldiers' beer money. Let them look at what the soldier endured: he passed only four years of his time in this country; and what did they give him at last? It was a curious fact that though since 1688 the pay had been doubled, the pension remained just the same; or the soldier was rather worse off in consequence of the warrant which had been introduced by the right hon. Member for Nottingham (Sir J. C. Hobhouse) in 1833. The Secretary at War stated in 1834, that in the preceding year one in five of the enlistments were taken from the gaols. Why was there not at that time some comprehensive measure brought forward by which the whole system of recruiting and the whole constitution of the army should have been inquired into? Was it too late to do it now? They must get a better class of men—they must have an improved order of recruits, or it would not do to make a great change in the system of punishments. Agreeing, as he did in the main, with the hon. Member for Bolton, still he must observe, as the hon. Member had quoted Sir S. Romilly, that that statesman had never proposed the absolute abolition of corporal punishment, but that it should be limited to certain offences; and in that recommendation he was supported by Mr. Wilberforce, who said that they must consider the civilian as well as the soldier. He (Mr. Osborne) should like to know what the hon. Member for Rochdale or the hon. Member for Coventry would think, if the soldiers were to desert on a line of march, and were to break into their houses, and commit robberies and devastation in the neighbourhood? On a line of march he contended that they must have an instantaneous punishment. He was not for inflicting a great amount of torture. He thought that 25 lashes would be as good as 200; but some instantaneous mode of punishment they must have. Sir Octavius Carey, who was entirely opposed to flogging, when examined before the Corporal Punishment Commission, was asked— 429With respect to an army in the field or on a line of march, how could you apply the punishment of solitary confinement?The answer was—I think it impossible in such cases. I would allow corporal punishment by drumhead court-martial and prevôt court martial, and by no other.Lieutenant-Colonel Oglander and Colonel Considine also gave evidence to the same effect. He had several statistical statements which he was prepared to quote; but he was aware that the House was averse to listening to figures: he would therefore only say, that in the hope that there would be an entire revision of the system of enlistment—in the hope that they would get a better class of men in the army—he should vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Bolton; but in the event of that being lost, he should press the Motion of which he had himself given notice.
§ CAPTAIN LAYARD
explained. It appeared by a return in the Moniteur, that in 1839, out of 112 capital convictions in the French army, only five were executed. Those were in the army of Algeria; and one of them only was a Frenchman, the other four being natives of Africa. All of those executions were for the crime of murder, an offence for which they would also be liable to capital convictions in the English army.
§ MR. F. MAULE
said that he was much surprised at the announcement made by his hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. Osborne) of his determination to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Bolton; for after one of the most conclusive speeches he (Mr. F. Maule) had ever heard proving how inexpedient it would be to deprive military tribunals of the power of inflicting corporal punishment, and showing how dangerous a step that would be with reference not only to the discipline of the army, but with reference also to the safety of the citizen, his hon. Friend had come to the conclusion that for the purpose of forcing the Government to take a particular step with respect to enlistment in the army, he would, by his vote, risk all the evils he anticipated from a total abolition of corporal punishment. The question before the House was one which it was at all times disagreeable to discuss. It was not a question which those who were entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining the discipline of the army could discuss upon fair and equal terms with those who took the purely popular 430 view of the subject. It was very easy to dress up the question of corporal punishment in language calculated to harrow up the feelings of those even who might at first be disposed to look upon the question with the greatest indifference. If they looked at the question in the abstract, no man could deny that punishment by the lash, and to the extent to which military punishment had been often, at least formerly, carried, was a most revolting punishment, and one which could only be justified on the principle of the sternest necessity. The hon. Gentleman who had brought forward that Motion had said that they were not entitled to look to those who made a Motion of that description for a substitute for the punishment they would abolish. But he begged leave to differ from the hon. Gentleman upon that point; and he should say that when Gentlemen, actuated, no doubt, by the very best feelings, came forward to disturb the discipline under which the whole army was governed, they had a right to expect, and the public had a right to expect, that those Gentlemen should substitute for the punishment which they proposed to remove, some other system equally efficacious. The public mind had been moved upon that question by an unfortunate occurrence; and had it not been for that occurrence, he believed he might take it upon himself to say, that so satisfied were the Members of that House—so satisfied were the public in general, of the anxiety which existed on the part of the great Officer at the head of the British army, and on the part of the civil Government of the country, to improve the condition of the soldier, and to diminish the necessity for that revolting punishment, that no notice would have been taken, at least during the present Session of Parliament, of the system which had just attracted so much public attention. No one could regret that unfortunate circumstance more than he did; but at the same time he felt bound to state in justice to those whose names had been mixed up with it, that though the occurrence was a most lamentable one, it had taken place in entire consistency with the rules of the service, and with the customs, however objectionable they might be, which had been observed in similar cases. He should say that he thought great injustice had been done to the commanding officer and the officers of the 7th Hussars. He thought that unmerited obloquy had been attempted to be thrown on those officers; 431 and if there were any other regiment in question than one which bore so high a character, he should be very much afraid that all that had taken place within the last few days would tend much to shake the discipline of that very distinguished corps. But he had great confidence in that regiment, and he thought it right to make it known to the House and to the public the character which it bore in the last quarter in which it had been stationed, and which he presumed it also carried to the barracks at Hounslow. He had received a letter upon that subject from the rector of Ipswich, the town in which the 7th Hussars had last been quartered. That letter he would proceed to read to the House. [The right hon. Gentleman read the letter, in which the writer bore his testimony to the admirable discipline and to the high moral character of the officers and men of the 7th Hussars during their stay of twelve months at Ipswich.] That was the character that regiment had obtained; and that was the character, he was sure, which they would continue to maintain. He should say, however, that he most deeply regretted having read in the newspapers the manner in which some of the privates of that regiment had been called on to give evidence at the late inquest, and which could not in that or in any other corps, rest as the matter then stood, but should lead to further investigation. Having said so much upon that subject, he would pass to the question which they had to discuss that evening. His hon. Friend the Member for Bolton proposed to deprive military tribunals of the power of inflicting corporal punishment. His noble Friend at the head of the Government, in concert with the Commander-in-Chief, and following out the views which that illustrious individual himself took of the subject, admitting it might be possible that the death of the unfortunate man at Hounslow had been the result of the punishment he had received—an admission contrary to the opinion of the vast majority of the medical men examined at the inquest; admitting, however, that that might have been the case, his Grace the Duke of Wellington, with a speed that reflected the greatest credit on him, at once said—This must not occur again; and although I maintain my opinion as strongly as ever, that in the present condition of the army, flogging cannot be dispensed with as a mode of keeping up its discipline, still I will not sanction such an extension of that punishment as might lead in any case to a 432 loss, as the articles of war have it, of life or limb on the part of the individual flogged.The noble Duke immediately suggested that all punishment should be reduced to fifty lashes. Now, he felt assured that if, following the example of his hon. and gallant Friend who had last spoken, he had gone back to the past for the details of military crimes and military punishment, fifty lashes, in comparison with the ruthless punishment of those days, would be equal to no punishment at all. Her Majesty's Government had adopted the suggestion of the Commander-in-Chief, and had determined, moreover, to carry out a principle adopted by a Secretary of War some years ago, and continued by his successors under governments of various politics—namely, to raise as far as possible the character of the British soldier, in the hope of arriving ultimately at that epoch, for which he was as anxious as any hon. Member, when, by having men of improved character and condition, while they retained the power of inflicting corporal punishment in great emergencies, still that power would become unknown in the British army. To that consummation did he look forward at no very distant period; but it must be arrived at in the course of time by the exercise of great discretion, when the punishment should have become so rare in consequence of the improved character of the men, and a judicious system of rewards, that no man would risk the disgrace which would attach to it. What was the object of maintaining corporal punishment at present? Not, as had been insinuated, the adherence to some antiquated notion that discipline could not be carried on without it. He was given to no such antiquated notions, and if he could suppose that it could be done without tomorrow, he would have no hesitation in abolishing it to-night. He was, however, quite convinced of the necessity of retaining the power. It was all very well for hon. Gentlemen not acquainted with the nature of the service to talk broadly and very humanely about these matters; but he should like to ask them how the discipline of the army was to be maintained? By the obedience of the major to the colonel, of the captain to the major, the lieutenant to the captain, the ensign to the lieutenant, the serjeant to the ensign, the corporal to the serjeant, and the private to the corporal. The parties on whom was cast the greatest responsibility in maintaining the discipline were the non-commis- 433 sioned officers; and if they were not supported and protected in the execution of their duty, the result would be that no men of respectability would be found in the ranks willing to undertake so responsible a post. His hon. Friend was bound, before depriving the military tribunals of the power of inflicting this kind of punishment, which followed immediately upon the commission of an act of military insubordination, to point out some means of protecting non-commissioned officers in the execution of their duty. But there were stronger grounds still for the maintenance of due subordination, and that was the duty of protecting the British public. Those charged with the responsibility of maintaining the discipline of the army, had not only to look to a well-regulated army as the object of their care, but also to take into account the natural jealousy which existed in the minds of the people of this country against having a standing army amongst them at all, and that if that army were not in the best possible state of discipline—if the public were not most effectually guaranteed against all the vagaries and all the outrages which might be perpetrated by the kind of men who joined our ranks—the public would rebel and refuse to submit to the nuisance of having men quartered on them of all characters, unrestrained by any kind of discipline. His hon. Friend who had last spoken had pointed out the necessity, on a line of march was, of maintaining this punishment, for the entire abolition of which he was nevertheless prepared to vote. A line of march was, no doubt, a very strong instance; but might not the necessity arise also, where troops were quartered in a town, of making an instant example of a military offender for the protection of its inhabitants? Take away this power without substituting any other means, and they would betray the trust reposed in them and the authorities in the army, not only for preserving good discipline amongst the troops, but for the protection of the British citizen from the outrages of an undisciplined soldiery. It had been said that while they visited the soldier with these severe punishments, they had been inattentive to his personal comfort and character, and perhaps much might still remain to be done for improving his condition. Without giving any opinion on the question of enlistment, pensions, or pay, all of them questions requiring much care and grave deliberation, and which he had no 434 doubt would receive due attention at the hands of the Government, he begged to refer the House to what had been done in this direction by the establishment of military prisons, nine of which were now in existence: four in England, four in Ireland, and one in Scotland. The number of prisoners who had gone through these military prisons during fourteen months was 4,276, out of which only twenty had suffered corporal punishment; and the highest penalty suffered was 100 lashes, and the lowest 24, while the re-committals were only three per cent. When this system should have been fully established, combined with a proper course of moral and religious instruction, and taking care that the soldier, who was frequently sent there for no moral crime, but for some breach of discipline only, should not during imprisonment be exposed to contamination, he trusted that the necessity for corporal punishments would no longer exist. He had the authority of several commanding officers for stating that those who had been discharged from these prisons returned to the ranks better men and better soldiers. But while they were providing prisons and punishments for the soldier, he was bound to say that much had been done, and much more would he hoped still be done, to induce the soldier to avoid a prison. There was already the good conduct pay. He knew it was the fashion amongst some military gentlemen rather to look with contempt than otherwise on these good conduct warrants; but, for his own part, he did not entertain so low an opinion of the soldier, even in his present state, as to think that such an inducement would not act as an incentive to many. Then there was the promotion from the ranks. Since December, 1845, thirty deserving noncommissioned officers had received commissions. Then there was the establishment of savings banks. On the 31st of March, 1844, there were 1,890 depositors in these banks, and the deposits amounted to 15,000l. In the last year, the depositors were 3,414, and the deposits upwards of 34,000l.; and the returns made since showed a steady progressive increase. By these means, and by showing the soldier that they did not neglect that which was conducive to his interest, they might in a short time make the power of inflicting corporal punishment entirely dormant, reserving, at the same time, the power of recalling it into action on an emergency. Should, however, the adoption of this 435 Motion deprive the military tribunals of this power without laying down any other rule for maintaining the discipline of the army, the responsibility must lie on the House, who would thus take one of the most effectual steps for unhinging the soldier's mind, and raising in him unfounded expectations which could never be realized—and at once expose the public to a curse which, in their good nature, they never would have anticipated, namely, that of having quartered amongst them bands of men under no control.
§ SIR C. NAPIER
said, that if the punishment of flogging were abolished in the army, it must also be abolished in the navy; and though he might not be taking a course that would increase his popularity, he felt bound to oppose the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bolton. Indeed, after the proposition of the noble Lord to fix fifty lashes as the highest punishment to be inflicted in the army, he was quite astonished that the hon. Gentleman had brought his Motion forward at all. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Dr. Bowring) proposed, as he understood, to abolish flogging entirely, even on the march or in the field. Now he would ask that hon. Gentleman, whether he had read the Duke of Wellington's despatches? It would be admitted that the Duke of Wellington had commanded the finest and most strictly disciplined army in the world; but the noble Duke stated, that though he could place the most perfect reliance on his troops before they went into action, yet after the fight was over and a victory was gained, he could not find what had become of his army. He believed that was stated in several parts of the noble Duke's despatches. Now, if corporal punishment was prohibited in the field, how was the soldier to be restrained from plundering, from murdering, from disobedience to his officers—he might almost say from shooting them? If it was so difficult to keep troops in proper order under a severe system of discipline, how were they to be restrained without any discipline at all? He recollected that during the Peninsular war a division of the army which entered the town of Leiria broke completely adrift from their officers; and the town presented a scene of the most horrible devastation and plunder. The Duke of Wellington went into the town, and, seeing the disorder, he ordered the provost-martial to seize upon a British soldier and a Portuguese, both of whom were hung without 436 judge or jury, and the troops were compelled to march past the place where they were executed. If it were necessary to make such examples in a well-disciplined army, what examples must be made where there was no discipline? He considered that if the Motion of the hon. Member for Bolton was negatived, great advantage would arise from the statements which had been made in the House to-night. Those statements would direct attention to means of improving the condition of the British soldiers and sailors; a better class of men would be induced to enter the army and navy; and corporal punishments would then be no longer necessary.
§ MR. WAKLEY
observed, that the gallant Commodore had spoken of fifty lashes as if he thought them a treat. The hon. and gallant Officer seemed astonished that any one should be dissatisfied with the proposition of the Government; but had he tried fifty lashes himself? He was astonished—but on another account he was astonished—after what had transpired, that the punishment of flogging was not to be immediately and for ever abolished. Public opinion willed it; public feeling demanded it; and that demand was confirmed by the public judgment. He could assure the House, from his own personal observation, that the public feeling on this subject was infinitely stronger than it was on the subject of the repeal of the Corn Laws. The feeling in favour of the abolition of flogging was, indeed, universal; and he would say that so strong a feeling existed on the subject, that it was perfectly impossible for that House to resist it. On many accounts he felt great reluctance to engage in this discussion; and he would not have interfered in the debate but for some remarks which fell from the Secretary at War. He had very little to complain of in the remarks of that right hon. Gentleman; but the House would excuse him for adverting to two points which had been mentioned by the right hon. Member. In the first place, the Secretary at War had appeared to throw out an imputation that there had been something wrong in the mode of regulating the proceedings at the recent inquest at Hounslow, because some of the private soldiers had been permitted to give evidence. Now what course, he would ask, was the officer who presided at that inquiry to pursue? When he arrived at Hounslow, the hour for the burial of the deceased man was appointed. Was any effort made, by the military authorities 437 there, to assist him (Mr. Wakley) in the investigation he felt it his duty to institute? On the contrary, when the jury assembled to view the body, it was stated by the officers in attendance that there was not the least necessity for an inquiry; and that the flogging had not in the slightest degree any relation to the death. How was the coroner, who derived no aid whatever from the authorities, to know who could give evidence on the inquiry? Instead of trusting the matter to a common inexperienced constable, he (Mr. Wakley) thought it infinitely better to place it in the hands of the inspector of police of the district—a most respectable and prudent man—Mr. Lawrence, who went to the barracks, and obtained all the evidence. He should like to know what other course could, under the circumstances, have been pursued? If any expression calculated to give pain had been used during the inquiry, no one could regret the occurrence more than himself. He saw an hon. Member laughing. Now, what did the hon. Gentleman mean by that laugh? It was a very significant intimation, and one which he thought did the hon. Gentleman very little credit. If any complaint was to be made against him (Mr. Wakley), it was much better that he should resume his seat without troubling the House further, for he was quite sure that the House would not allow any impertinent attack to be made upon him, and then refuse him an opportunity of defending himself. Having heard that an attack would be made upon him, he had been waiting in the House for a considerable time. If the hon. Gentleman had any observation or any attack to make, he would sit down; if not, he would proceed. [The Hon. MEMBER alluded to, did not evince any disposition to address the House.] The police inspector, as he had observed, had to go into the barracks, to make inquiries there, and to obtain evidence as to the flogging and the treatment of the deceased at the hospital. The inspector obtained the best information he could, and the witnesses were produced at the inquest entirely under his management and control; and from the beginning to the end of the inquiry, he (Mr. Wakley) did not interfere with them. The Secretary at War had stated that the verdict of the jury was opposed to the evidence of a majority of the medical witnesses. There were five medical witnesses examined—Dr. Hall, Dr. Reid, Dr. Warren, Mr. Day, and Mr. 438 Erasmus Wilson. Now what was done by three of those medical witnesses when the inquiry first commenced? Without examining the whole of the body of the deceased, and making a complete post mortem inspection, they formed their opinion as to the cause of death, and made an official report to the Government. Dr. Hall, Dr. Reid, and Dr. Warren, had so committed themselves, without making a complete inspection of the body; and it was on the information conveyed by those gentlemen to the right hon. Secretary at War, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. Maule) made his unfortunate statement on the Monday in that House. He believed that the Secretary at War was justified, from the information the right hon. Gentleman had received, in making that statement; for his conviction was, that the doctors had at that time deceived themselves in consequence of not having made a sufficient examination. Finding that these medical gentlemen had thus committed themselves, and had so far prejudiced the case, and having been called upon to interfere by the Rev. Mr. Trimmer, who with some of the neighbours entertained an idea that the man had lost his life from flogging, his only course as coroner was to submit to the jury whether they would name their own medical man to make a complete examination of the body. They named Mr. Day, jun., of Isleworth. After the jury had viewed the corpse, he adjourned the court, without taking any evidence, to afford time for a post mortem examination of the body of the deceased man. Something had been said about protracted adjournments, and it had been complained that the inquiry had been carried over too long a period. He would explain his reason for the adjournment. He saw plainly that the jury were excited from viewing the body; at that moment the circumstances connected with the removal of a piece of skin between the shoulders, extending eleven inches in one direction and seven inches in another, were unexplained; and he thought it better to adjourn the inquest to a somewhat distant day, rather than call upon the jury to return a verdict under that excitement. It must be admitted, that it was far more desirable for the interests of justice that the decision of the jury should be founded on mature and deliberate consideration, than that it should be adopted under a feeling of strong excitement. On the second occasion when he (Mr. Wakley) went down, 439 it was stated incidentally by Mr. Day, that although he had made a post mortem examination of the body, he had not examined the back and spine, which were indeed the most important parts that required examination. Finding it impossible, under such circumstances, that the evidence of the medical practitioners could be conclusive, especially as it was proved that the deceased had suffered under paralysis of the lower extremities for twenty-four hours before his death, and the jury appearing from some cause or other to be dissatisfied with their own choice of a medical man, they requested him (Mr. Wakley) to name a gentleman wholly unconnected with local interests to examine the body. He selected, as he had frequently done on similar occasions, Mr. Erasmus Wilson. A complaint had been made, in a not very reputable quarter, that he had chosen Mr. Wilson, because he had once been connected with that gentleman in literary pursuits; and he might therefore be pardoned for showing the House that Mr. Wilson's opinion was entitled to some weight and authority. Mr. Wilson was a student under Mr. Abernethy; he was house pupil of Mr. Langstaff, the celebrated anatomist; in 1828 and 1829 he attended hospital practice and operative surgery in Paris; and, after passing the examinations at Apothecaries' Hall and the College of Surgeons, he was engaged from 1831 to 1835 as prosector to Dr. Quain, and demonstrator in the dissecting room at University College. Mr. Wilson was subsequently lecturer on anatomy and physiology in the Blenheim-street Medical School, Sydenham College, and in the Medical School of the Middlesex Hospital; in 1843 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, and in 1845 a Fellow of the Royal Society. Mr. Wilson was also the author of several works on medical subjects; he had given great attention to the anatomy, physiology, and diseases of the skin; and, as in the case to which he was referring, death was supposed to have resulted from injury to the skin, he thought he could not have selected in the metropolis a man better qualified to form a correct judgment than Mr. Wilson. It had been intimated that Mr. Wilson being a friend of his, and having been his associate, he had selected him because he knew that gentleman's opinions. The fact was, that he never in his life exchanged a sentence with Mr. Wilson on the subject of flogging, and he was as 440 ignorant of his opinions on the matter as any Member of that House. From the first moment that Mr. Wilson was called, to the conclusion of the inquiry, he did not exchange a single word with that gentleman; and until he heard his evidence, he did not know what Mr. Wilson's opinions were, nor did Mr. Wilson know his. It was true that Dr. Hall, Dr. Reid, and Dr. Warren adhered to their opinions: their opinions remain unchanged. Mr. Day also expressed an opinion different from that of Mr. Wilson; but he did not dispute the pathological discovery that Mr. Wilson had made—the change in the muscles of the back—the pulpy matter which surrounded the one, and the extravasated blood which surrounded another—he did not dispute that the change in the muscles had a close proximity to the inflamed chest. Mr. Wilson, having heard the opinions of the other witnesses, stated to the jury, in a firm and decided manner, his opinion that the flogging was the cause of the death. The jury placed more reliance on the opinion of such an authority than on the opinion of those who had prejudged the case, and who had not seen the entire examination before they gave that opinion; and he perfectly agreed with the jury in their decision—in his opinion it was right, and this brought him to the question immediately before the House. The noble Lord's proposal was, that for the future each flogging should be limited to fifty lashes. Yet there were circumstances under which those fifty lashes might be administered, which would make them infinitely worse than the 200 lashes inflicted at the present time. What was to be the length of the cat, what was its weight, what kind of thongs were there to be, how many were to be the knots, what was to be the length of time which the fifty lashes were to occupy, for they might be extended over an hour? The 150 lashes, in the last case, occupied half an hour. If all these things were taken into consideration, and were fairly examined, the fifty lashes might be made infinitely worse than the 200. What had been exhibited before him? Five cats with three different thongs; and he would rather receive 150 lashes from some than 120 from others. Some thongs had ten or twelve knots, others had only five or six—so carelessly was this punishment inflicted. One of the officers stated he had never had a cat in his hands before: the preparation of them was left to the farrier-major, and if the farrier-major owed 441 a man a grudge he might select the cat which would inflict the heaviest punishment. He wished also to guard the House, and the noble Lord, and the Commander-in-Chief, against the supposition that with fifty lashes, or twenty, or one—he said even with one lash—there was a certainty that the infliction would not lead to the destruction of life. The subject connected with the influence which external injuries inflict upon the internal body, had engaged much attention of late years. But it seemed an established rule in the army that it should never be understood that flogging was the cause of any death. Was not that the case in the present instance? Was not an official report made, and was it not communicated to the House that the flogging had nothing to do with the death? His conviction was that such an opinion was the very opposite of every principle of common sense. He said, that such was his conviction, and he could have no motive in stating a conviction he did not feel. Altogether this was a most painful case, and it had given him much annoyance. Let him state to the House a case in point; and there were similar cases which occurred every week. On the 12th of last month a footman in the family of one of the former Members of that House (Mr. Serjeant Spankie) had the misfortune to burn his finger in his endeavours to extinguish the flames which had caught the dress of one of the young ladies. His finger was not much burnt, and on the following Saturday he returned to his work. He was a robust and a healthy man; but, like Mathewson and White, after a time he felt a severe pain in his chest; but he went to work on the Saturday. On the following Saturday where was he? In the North London Hospital with inflammation of the pleura. And where was he on the Sunday? A corpse. Dr. Quain had stated to him that the injury in the finger was the cause of the inflammation of the chest. Nor was this a particular instance: it was the rule; and death from diseases which were excited by the injury to the skin, was an everyday occurrence. In thirty out of forty cases, where deaths arose from injuries to the skin from burns or scalds, there was inflammation of the pleura and lungs. Dr. Quain had told him of a boy brought into the hospital with a very slight scratch on the skin of the knee, and the boy died of abscesses on the lungs. The influence of the skin on the human econo- 442 my had been much overlooked. Now many men must have died from injuries of the skin where there had been inflammation of the lungs, and the real cause of death had never been suspected. But it was said that great caution was to be exercised, and that they would make the surgeon take especial care to ascertain whether the man was in a condition to endure the suffering and to have the integuments of his body lacerated. It was the most presumptuous and most daring supposition that ever entered into any man's head. What medical man, however great might be his observation, and however acute might be his perception, could ascertain the latent seeds of disease in the human body? And yet the application of any irritants might put them in a course of action in a few hours. A slight injury to the skin might produce erysipelas in a very different part of the body: the brain, the heart, the lungs, or the kidneys might be affected from a like cause; and yet, by the examination of the body, the medical man was immediately to ascertain that a punishment could be inflicted, mutilating that body, without producing death. The House, then, would see that fifty lashes might produce death, as well as 100. He knew—and it was notorious to all medical men acquainted with the facts—that death might be produced from injuries to the skin inflicted by a single lash of a cat-o'nine-tails. Under these circumstances could the Government be justified in continuing this punishment? From the tone of the noble Lord, and from the noble Lord's manner, he inferred that the noble Lord was not favourable to the continuance of this punishment. The House was about to divide on the Motion of the hon. Member for Bolton: he hoped the hon. Member would be in a a majority; but if, unfortunately, he should be in a minority, he entreated the noble Lord to refer this matter to medical gentlemen for their consideration and decision—not depend on the opinions of army or navy surgeons, but of first-rate anatomists and physiologists, and who had experience and practice—of men who saw disease in all its forms in our various public institutions—and he told the noble Lord that he had a strong conviction that they would agree in their opinions; but if they made a report to the noble Lord, attaching their names to it, which should declare that they were enabled themselves, or that other men in practice could foretell, that fifty lashes could be in- 443 flicted without there being any danger to life, he would give up the subject, and never address the House again in relation to it.
§ MR. C. BERKELEY,
having been alluded to by the hon. Member for Finsbury, must, as an independent Member of that House, express his opinion of the hon. Gentleman in his capacity of coroner, in his conduct of the recent inquiry at Hounslow; and, in the remarks he was about to make, he assured the hon. Member he spoke of him only in his capacity as a public servant, and, therefore, as a man whose public conduct would be rightly and thoroughly commented on, and distinctly sifted. What then were the facts of the case with respect to the hon. Gentleman, and the subject of the inquiry he held? The death of a private soldier of the 7th Hussars had taken place at Hounslow; the hon. Gentleman was duly informed of it. [Mr. WAKLEY: Not duly informed.] The hon. Gentleman was informed of it, and he summoned an inquest to ascertain the cause of private White's death. Four medical men were applied to. The surgeon of the regiment made a post mortem examination, as well as two other surgeons appointed by Sir James M'Gregor, Inspector General of Hospitals; and the jury very properly also appointed a surgeon of their own choosing to make a medical examination. The medical men, without examining, as the hon Gentleman caused to be examined, the spine of this unfortunate man, upon opening the body came to the conclusion that the cause of death was totally unconnected with the punishment. But, unfortunately, Mr. Day, a most respectable gentleman, whose acquaintance he enjoyed, allowed his opinion, somehow or other, to get forth that the flogging was not the cause of the death of this man. What did the hon. Gentleman then do? He caused the body to be exhumed and submitted to the examination of Mr. Erasmus Wilson, a clever anatomist, no doubt; but if everything was fair and aboveboard, why did the hon. Gentleman exclude the other medical men from the examination, which took place in the churchyard? When they presented themselves in the churchyard, they were instantly informed by the inspector of police that he had the coroner's orders to exclude them. If everything was fair and aboveboard, the more medical men present the better. He held in his hand one of the cleverest medical periodicals, and he would 444 read to the hon. Gentleman a short extract from it:—It is abundantly clear, from the medical evidence, that the cause of death, in the case of the soldier White, was not the lash; and even Mr. Wilson's evidence, although shaped to order, goes to prove this fact. That the effects of the lash penetrated through the mass of muscle (very considerable in the thinnest subjects) which flanks the spine, produced old adhesions, inflamed the pleura, the heart, its valves, carnæ columnæ, and leading arteries, besides engorging the left lung with serum, is an assumption so truly ridiculous in a medical point of view, that were it not for the approaching general election, and the dearth of popular subjects for electioneering purposes, I should be inclined to think the hon. Member for Finsbury demented, aud his garrulity at the Hounslow inquest a melancholy exhibition of an effete intellect.The hon. Gentleman had made himself somewhat notorious by his long and frequent correspondence with the late Secretary for the Home Department in reference to holding inquests on the bodies of murdered persons; and he had over and over again said that he would never take evidence against a man unless that man was present, and heard the evidence. But what did the hon. Gentleman do in the case of the Hounslow inquest? Why, he allowed the most extraneous matter to be introduced, and examined privates, bringing the most extraneous charges against the officers of the regiment; and yet he did not allow a single officer to be present. He therefore had a right to complain of the manner in which the hon. Gentleman conducted the inquiry. [Mr. WAKLEY: That is not true.] The hon. Gentleman might say that it was not true; but he referred to the public accounts—to the accounts in The Times and every other newspaper. The hon. Gentleman was there made to say, that he would not allow the officers to be present for fear of intimidating the men. The hon. Gentleman allowed the men—he referred particularly to the evidence of private Mathewson—to go into charges especially against Colonel Whyte, which if proved would make that officer unfit to serve Her Majesty. With respect to the general question, it had been observed by the hon. Gentleman (Dr. Bowring), who brought the subject forward, that corporal punishment in the army had a degrading effect, and that a man never recovered from the disgrace. Now, in the regiment with which he was connected, there was a man who had deserted, taking with him a month's money of the company. He went to America, but was brought back, and 445 being tried by a general court martial was reduced to the ranks and sentenced to 200 lashes. When he joined the regiment that man had become a corporal, and before he left he was a sergeant-major, and one of the best soldiers. Then with regard to the assertion that the privates thought that this punishment ought not to be inflicted, was it not notorious that formerly when offences were committed against the men, it was the custom to bring the offender to a court martial composed of his comrades? The court martial so composed invariably resorted to corporal punishment, and to such an extravagant extent that the Horse Guards were compelled to put a stop to that system. He wished to see the service put on the footing proposed by the noble Lord at the head of the Government; but he was sure that they could not keep up the discipline of the army without occasionally resorting to corporal punishment.
§ MR. WAKLEY
hoped he might be allowed to offer a few words in refutation of what had been stated by the hon. Member. In the first place, the hon. Member complained that he excluded the medical officers from the post mortem examination made by Mr. Wilson. He certainly did exclude them, and would do so again; and he would tell the House under what circumstances. The three medical gentlemen who requested to be present had prejudged the case; they had made their report, and had determined that the cause of death was not connected with the wounds on the back. Now, he wanted to know whether, after the jury had complained of what had previously transpired, he should have been justified in permitting them to be present at an examination to be made by a person who was perfectly unbiassed, and whose only object was to state nothing but what he discovered on the examination of the body? Those gentlemen could not want to see more—they had seen enough, and had already discovered the cause of death; but would not the jury have complained of his conduct if he had permitted them to be present? The rule he adopted, was the rule adopted in other and superior courts; and he should have violated the first principles of justice if he had acted otherwise. He had not acted from any feeling of disrespect to those gentlemen. Nothing could have been more improper than to have permitted those gentlemen to be present. There were three examinations of the body. In the first instance 446 the examination was made by Doctors Hall, Reid, and Warren. Mr. Day was then appointed by the jury, and he went with the former gentlemen; but when it was discovered that he had fallen into the same error as the preceding medical gentlemen, and had formed his opinion without making a complete examination, it was necessary to adopt a different rule on the third examination. Nevertheless Mr. Day was not excluded from the third examination. What fairer course could have been adopted? and if he had pursued a different course he would have exposed himself to reproach, and the jury would not have been satisfied. The hon. Member had read something from what he called a medical work; but that was written by a stupid lawyer, who knew as much about physic as the hon. Member seemed to know, judging from the style in which he read the extract. The hon. Member said that he had refused to hear evidence when the prisoner was not present. But was there any prisoner in the present case? Was not every difficulty thrown in the way of obtaining evidence? They were obliged to fish for it; and if the privates had not volunteered evidence, they would not have succeeded in obtaining it. One of the privates said that he wanted protection, and that the sergeant-major was at the door, and the jury appealed to him to give that protection; consequently he desired all persons who were witnesses to leave the room; but no person should have had evidence given against him in his absence, if he could have secured his presence. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to hear what the solicitor of the officers said in reference to his conduct? He was prepared for attack, and was not without ammunition, though he was not in the army. He had anticipated that some young and indiscreet officer, or some hon. Gentleman, still youthful in judgment, would make some charges against him.
§ MR. C. BERKELEY
rose to order. He wanted to know whether the hon. Gentleman had a right to make a second speech.
§ MR. WAKLEY
said, that the hon. Gentleman had read an extract throwing out a foul imputation on him, to the effect that Mr. Wilson's evidence was "shaped to order," and he had instructed his solicitor to move for a criminal information on the subject against the publication. [Mr. C. BERKELEY: It is not my imputation.] No! But the hon. Gentleman had 447 adopted it on the authority of that publication, and now the hon. Gentleman complained because he wished to say a word in reply. He had no desire to say anything personally offensive to the hon. Gentleman; but if the solicitor who acted for the officers—a perfect stranger to him—was satisfied with his conduct, surely the hon. Gentleman, who was not present, might be satisfied. The solicitor wrote to him as follows:—
§ "Sion-place, Isleworth, August 6.
§ "Sir—You request me to state to you what was my impression as to the manner in which the inquest on late private White, of the 7th Hussars, was conducted by you; and as I conclude your inquiry to have reference only to your own conduct on that occasion, I have no hesitation in saying that you allowed us to have any witnesses examined we pleased, and to make any statements we thought either necessary or desirable, and the ends of justice demanded; and you certainly conducted the investigation with extraordinary patience and attention.—I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, "G. CLARK.
§ "Thomas Wakley, Esq., M.P."
§ Mr. Trimmer, the clergyman, had also sent him the following communication:—
§ "Heston Vicarage, August 6.
§ "My dear Sir—I am favoured with your letter, in which you request me to state to you my impression as to the manner in which the inquest on Frederick John White, of the 7th Hussars, was conducted, and whether I consider your charge to have been fairly made? In reply to these questions, I have great pleasure in stating, that having been present (with the exception of about one hour) during the whole of the proceedings, and having heard your charge from its commencement to its close, I cannot but express my decided opinion, that throughout the inquiry there appeared the greatest readiness and anxiety on your part to receive and fairly to examine all legal evidence, without respect to the parties bringing it forward, which might tend to ensure an impartial verdict; and that nothing could be fairer towards all parties, or better calculated to assist the jury in coming to a correct conclusion on the whole evidence, than your charge, of which, on my return to my family after the inquest, I expressed my admiration, considering it, as I really did, as at once judicious, luminous, and impartial.—I beg to remain, my dear Sir, very faithfully yours,
§ "H. S. TRIMMER.
§ "Thomas Wakley, Esq."
§ He had also a letter from Mr. Twining, a magistrate, a gentleman seventy years of age, who was formerly a judge in India, and who was present at the inquest; that letter was couched in still stronger terms, and was indeed too complimentary, nor would he trouble the House by reading it. He trusted he had satisfied the hon. Member and the House that there was nothing at all unfair or prejudiced in his conduct during the whole of the inquiry.448
§ MR. C. BULLER
thought the House would agree that no good could arise from following further the history of the melancholy event which led to the recent inquest; nor should he have risen to say a word on the subject but for a particular argument of the hon. Member for Finsbury, which seemed likely, if it could have any weight, to raise so false and injurious an impression, that he felt bound formally and distinctly to repudiate it, and point out its fallacy. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had stated that it had been determined by the authorities at the Horse Guards, with his consent—and he must bear testimony to the promptness and cordiality with which the Commander-in-Chief gave his consent—to diminish to fifty the number of lashes to be inflicted by any court martial; and that was a great diminution; but, then, said the hon. Member, "how do we know that may not be evaded by making an alteration—a fraudulent alteration in the nature of the instrument by which the punishment is to be inflicted?" [Mr. WAKLEY: I did not say "fraudulent."] No doubt the hon. Member did not use that word; but would not the alteration be fraudulent? He did not mean to charge the hon. Member with accusing the Commander-in-Chief or the Government of that deliberate fraud. The hon. Member disclaimed it the moment it was put into words; but he would see that, in order to find fault with the arrangements of the Government, he was led in reality to attribute to them what would be a disgraceful and wicked fraud. The hon. Member had said that one cat was very different from another; and then he left the House to infer, that though nominally a reduction of lashes would be made, yet by some trick the authorities at the Horse Guards, who were supposed to thirst with an infernal kind of zeal for excessive corporal punishments, would inflict a much more severe sentence, by altering the instrument of punishment, and lengthening the duration of it. Now, he must say that, not only in the conduct of the noble Lord on this occasion, but of every person who had any voice in the matter, there was nothing that would at all justify the House in supposing that they made the alteration with any unwillingness, much less that they would be guilty of so palpable a fraud as this. From his own communications with the noble Duke at the head of the Horse Guards, he must say, that he never saw greater promptitude and greater good will in effecting an alter- 449 ation, which some hon. Gentlemen were pleased to assume was particularly incompatible with the views of those in authority. Parliament had in fact a guarantee that the change would be carried out in the spirit in which it had been made; and he would go further, and say, that not only would the number of lashes be reduced, but that the House might be assured that hereafter there would be great care taken in the infliction of corporal punishment altogether, so that by no possibility would the House or the country have any reason to complain of any undue severity in that infliction. The hon. Member was then induced, in his endeavour to make out that this reduction was wholly unsatisfactory, to give the House some surgical views, which would tend to establish that the simplest abrasion of the skin—that even five lashes, nay, one—would probably produce disease of the lungs, and therefore death. The hon. Member had told the House of instances where burning your fingers, or a scratch of the knee, had produced a fatal result. Without pretending to dispute the hon. Member's medical authority, or denying that under certain circumstances those slight injuries might produce fatal effects, it was enough to say that these were anomalies in the constitution of the human body, and in the history of individuals, for which it was impossible by any rules to provide; and if the hon. Member objected to a punishment of fifty lashes, because it was one which might by possibility, under certain circumstances, and in certain peculiarly constituted frames, produce fatal results, would he say what secondary punishment there was which might not? The same thing might be alleged against the treadmill. There had been inquests, when the public blood was up, at which such medical authorities had been brought forward to show the horrors of the treadmill, that a simple man might suppose that to condemn a man to it for a month was certain death. So of solitary confinement. That had been stated to have produced, over and over again, a total loss of reason, which, if not involving an immediate loss of life, was not preferable to it. It was impossible, in deciding on punishments for offences, to say with perfect mathematical certainty that you apportioned one which could not produce worse effects than you purposed; but there was no sound authority for maintaining that fifty lashes inflicted in the way they now would be, were at all likely to produce 450 serious consequences. The maximum in the navy was four dozen lashes; and he had never heard of any serious result from naval flogging; and since the instrument of punishment was much more severe in the navy than in the army, there was a fair right to infer that the proposed maximum of fifty lashes in the army would be safe. He must own that he was not at all sorry to have seen the public mind much excited on the subject of flogging; he believed that it had produced a most wholesome reform, and that in spite of all that the hon. Member for Finsbury had said, the measure adopted would satisfy the demands of public opinion. No man could look with greater horror than he did on the abuse of this corporal punishment in former times; but the total and immediate abolition of it would be a very serious interference with the entire discipline of the army. The House must look to the composition of the army; and though he would not disguise that he sincerely hoped we might ere long be able to carry on its discipline without corporal punishments, yet not merely the general opinion of those who were responsible for that discipline, but his own opinion, induced him to say that a total abolition of corporal punishment at the present time, would be an exceedingly dangerous and unwise proceeding. But at any rate the alteration now proposed stript the punishment of every thing that was revolting or dangerous; and whatever might be the disadvantages of that punishment, still there was no human probability that the public mind would be again shocked by such occurrences as had taken place, or that there would be occasion for discussing the question under excitement arising from such a source.
§ MR. BRIGHT
had listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down; but he found that the only thing the hon. Gentleman had attempted to prove was, that under the proposed change the punishment might be safely inflicted without any great chance of permanent injury to the individual on whom it fell. Now, if this question had been discussed two or three months ago, that speech might have been delivered without contradiction; it might then have been said, that 150 lashes was an amount of punishment not beyond what a man of strong health might endure; but the hon. Gentleman stated farther, that the measure of the Government and of the Horse 451 Guards would remove from the punishment everything revolting or dangerous in connexion with it. On the inquest, however, no information was given at what particular lash officers and men had fallen down fainting. It might have been at the 49th or 51st lash; but if it was before the 49th, they must assume that there was something still in this punishment of a revolting and dangerous character. He agreed with the Government that the public would at present be satisfied with the change about to be made; but he believed they would be much better pleased by the total abolition of the punishment. The public would come to the opinion that the Government had succumbed to the Horse Guards on this question. He did not believe an equal number of men could be found in the House to those situate on the Treasury bench more opposed to the punishment of flogging; but he considered that they had been led to the conclusions they had arrived at by finding that the Horse Guards were as averse to the abolition of the punishment of flogging as ever they had been to any modification of it. The opinion of the noble Duke at the head of that department might be of importance in the eyes of the Government; and his long experience in connexion with that department certainly gave him authority to speak on the subject; but he begged to say that military men and military officers in general were the worst authorities on a question of this kind. Was it to be supposed that men who had throughout their whole lives exercised an entirely despotic authority—an authority unknown to any other officers or servants that govern the State—could have anything but the most arbitrary views of this subject? They had been uniformly opposed to any amelioration of the present system. He was surprised that military officers should take the course they did, looking at the question in another point of view. If it was said that these punishments were still necessary, then one of two things were called for. It might be that the soldiers were of a brutal, ferocious, ignorant nature, and on that account the punishment was necessary; but it might be also that among the officers of that department there was a great lack of those moral qualities that were essential to the management of a number of men. They might find regiments in the service where there had been only two cases of flogging in twelve years, and there 452 might be cases where they were most frequent; but he did not believe there was any great difference in the one set of men as compared with the others. The great difference, in his opinion, lay with the men by whom they were commanded, and with whom they came so much in contact. He had heard repeatedly from soldiers, that the insults and irritations to which they were subjected by the non-commissioned officers and by those raised from the ranks were such as flesh and blood could not stand; quarrels accordingly ensued, and then came such scenes as they had been discussing that evening. Much had been said about filling the ranks with superior men. He believed that in this country they never, would have the ranks of the army filled but with the lowest classes of the people. When a man had run through every species of degradation, and committed every vice, and become an outcast from those with whom he had been accustomed to associate in youth, that man then became a soldier. He knew it to occur in his own neighbourhood; and if a person wished to express the extreme degradation into which an individual had fallen, the last thing said of him, after telling all that he had successively become, was that he had enlisted as a soldier. The reasons why they would never get any but the lowest of the people was, that there was not a warlike spirit in England. There was a commercial spirit in England, and the people found the means of a more profitable and honourable existence in the walks of trade and commerce than in the gaudy trappings offered them in the service of the State. It was not to be expected that when a man could live comfortably in his own cottage, earning in an honourable way a subsistence for himself and his family, that he would become a soldier. He should rejoice to see the warlike spirit die away, and less occasion for armaments, and forces, and military displays, not to speak of those horrors by which the people of England had of late been excited. The noble Lord had not gone the length he ought to have done on this question. He should therefore support the Motion of the hon. Member for Bolton. He did not blame the Government; but he thought that future events would yet convince the Government and the Horse Guards that our fellow countrymen might be trained to their duty and might be taught to elevate and respect themselves by the continuance of just and sympathetic treatment, rather than by that barbarous 453 usage which had so often disgusted the country.
§ MR. GOULBURN
was sorry to be called on, after the statement made by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, to give an opinion on the measure proposed by the hon. Member for Bolton. There was something in the opinions of the noble Lord, which he thought, to the mind of every reasonable man, must have been in the highest degree satisfactory; and he did not think it desirable, either for the discipline of the army or for the public feeling, that the question should be agitated as it had been in the course of the evening. But he must say, that, of all the speeches made on the present occasion, that which had fallen from the hon. Member who had just sat down, as well as the vote which he proposed to give, was the most indefensible. The hon. Gentleman told them that the army was composed of men who were the very outcasts of society. He denied that proposition; but he was now dealing with the hon. Gentleman's arguments. He said the army was recruited from the very outcasts of society—that we were a commercial nation, and could not find hands for the military and naval services otherwise than from that low class of society; and, having condemned the army as receiving men from the lowest and most degraded classes, the hon. Member said he would not allow that species of punishment which, however unnecessary with regard to educated men, and men advanced in civilization and the cultivation of their intellect, was the only way in which they could keep under control men who were devoid of any sensibility but the sensibility to punishment. And the hon. Member had told them that these men were selected from the lowest society, by another class of men who were wholly unfitted for the duty of governing them. [Mr. BRIGHT: The right hon. Gentleman has mistaken my argument.] Well, he hoped he had mistaken the hon. Gentleman's argument. The question of apportioning punishment to crime was, under any circumstances, one of considerable difficulty; and when that question was agitated in a popular assembly, there was always a tendency to consider rather the suffering of the criminal, than the object of the punishment. Indeed, the tendency of men generally was to look to the sufferings of the criminal, rather than to the object of the punishment, and the causes which rendered that punishment necessary. But if 454 this was the ordinary state of men's minds with regard to crime, how much more difficult was it to judge rightly when they were considering the punishment they were to apply to military offences? They had to consider, in such cases, not only what was the moral guilt of the offence, but what would be the effect upon society of allowing the offence to go unpunished. If they permitted offences which might not be in themselves marked with moral turpitude, but which became of importance when committed in the army, and which, being committed by soldiers, led to the greatest injuries to society, to go unpunished, great mischief would be done. A person who in a civil employment, as, for instance, a workman who should strike a blow or use insulting language towards the person who was placed over him in his occupation, would not be considered guilty of a crime, and no one would wish to visit his offence with severity; but if a private soldier were to use insulting language or give a blow to his corporal, who had been perhaps but a few days raised from the same rank as himself, the offence could not be looked on as of other than a grave nature; and to let it go unpunished would destroy the discipline of the soldier, and render him not a means of defence to the community, but a nuisance to society. There was this conflict between the arguments of the hon. Gentlemen opposite: On the one hand, the House was pressed by the hon. Gentlemen with the importance of being humane in the punishment of our troops; on the other hand, however, the same individuals who talked so loudly of humanity in punishing those among the soldiers who did wrong, were equally loud in enforcing economy in the pay of the army, although it was liberality in that respect that could alone enable them, by rewarding those who did right, to recruit the army from a better class, and to dispense with the present mode of punishment. The hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. W. Williams), who was one of the strongest advocates for the abolition of military punishments, was always for reducing the emoluments of the army; and only the other evening had urged the necessity of diminishing the pay of those particular regiments which were the best disciplined, and in which the pay, being commensurate to the duty performed, had the effect of rendering them most efficient. Now it was not easy to discriminate between these conflicting elements so as to see what was to be done. Then 455 the public, who were so excitable on the subject of military punishments, did also complain very much if those bodies of men did not conduct themselves with propriety towards the rest of the community. Looking to those parts of the public press who were at present calling for the abolition of these punishments, it would be found that when the soldiery committed any outrage, these very same parts of the press urged every argument for the necessity of controlling that body, and represented that in order to control them effectually, it was necessary to invent some mode of punishment. He was quite prepared to admit that corporal punishment in the army should be kept within the narrowest possible limits; he was anxious not to use this kind of punishment without the greatest possible necessity; but it was of great importance that the power of punishment should be known to exist. It was a very different thing in the control of a body of men, whether the persons placed in authority over them have the power of punishment or not. The knowledge that such a power existed in the hands of their officers, might frequently prevent serious evils—for instance, it might prevent mutiny. The hon. Gentlemen who had objected to the present system, had made very few, if any, suggestions as to what was to be done if the system were abolished. Other modes of punishment would be found to be in a very slight degree applicable to the case. The hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. B. Osborne) admitted that on the march, and for mutiny and theft, it was necessary to retain the power of punishment; but neither he nor any other hon. Gentleman had given the House any insight into the mode in which they were to control military bodies in ordinary circumstances. The Judge Advocate had well observed, that if they adopted solitary confinement as a punishment, it might lead to evils no less prejudicial to the health, and even to the life, of the men, than the punishment they wished to abolish. Then the system of perpetual drills had been spoken of; but perpetual drills might wear down the soldier's constitution by keeping him to severe exertion from morning to night. The press had taken up that subject lately, if he was not mistaken; and he thought one newspaper had said that an officer who had been shot by one of his men, had been justly shot, because he had carried that punishment to excess. Looking, then, at the whole question, he agreed in the views 456 which had been adopted by the Commander-in-Chief, and supported by Her Majesty's Government; and though it was expedient to reduce the punishment within 50 lashes, which was a less amount than that which had been long used in the navy without injury to the parties subjected to it, yet at the same time he thought it would be their duty to do whatever was in their power to improve the condition of the soldier, not by selecting him from that class of society of which the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Bright) spoke, but by drawing to the ranks men of more elevated feelings, who would do their duty beneficially at home, and to the honour of their country abroad, without the necessity of recurring to those means of restraint and those punishments which were necessary when the army was composed of less worthy materials, but which, when he saw the army improved, the officers improved, and the whole tone of society improved, he should say were no longer necessary to preserve an effectual control.
§ MR. HUME
said, it was satisfactory to him to hear that the right hon. Gentleman was contented with fifty lashes. He could remember the time when nothing less than 300 lashes would satisfy the right hon. Gentleman; but the present were times of great changes, and this was one of them; and he (Mr. Hume) was glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman had changed. When it was said that hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House were opposed to ameliorating the condition of the soldier, he repudiated the charge. He had always been favourable to anything calculated to effect that object. When Lord Howick had brought forward his plan for establishing libraries and rewards in the army, there was nobody in the House more ready to give the plan support than he had been. He was sorry to hear the statements of the hon. Member for Windsor (Colonel Reid) as to the want of means of cleanliness on the part of the soldier. There ought not to be a barrack without a proper supply of water. What was the use of officers visiting the barracks if they allowed such a want of water and such, improper ventilation to prevail as had been complained of? He thought the Secretary at War, or some other of the military authorities, ought to make an inquiry into the matter; and he would also suggest to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, that if he would give directions to snpply, as far as possible, the means of 457 cleanliness, good ventilation, and all the other requisites of health and comfort in the army, there was not one man in the House or the country who would not rejoice to see it carried into effect. He was quite surprised to hear the late Chancellor of the Exchequer charging any individual in the House with niggard administration. He who had so long held the situation of commanding the public purse, must have had representations from some quarters of the state of matters which had been mentioned to the House; and it was he, therefore, who was the niggard. It was he who, having neglected the opportunity when in power of removing these grievances, was answerable for all the evils which existed in consequence. He differed entirely from his hon. Friend the Member for Durham, in thinking that it was only the riffraff and reckless part of the community who entered the army. He differed from him also in thinking that there should be no army at all. He was a friend of peace; but in the situation in which the world was placed, he was satisfied that we must have a navy and army. He would have them, however, kept in the most respectable way. He would make the situation of sailors and soldiers an enviable one, so that people should be desirous to get into the army and navy, instead of being deterred from entering by the condition they were now in. His early opinions might perhaps bias him in this matter. He had served for several years in a time of war, and out of 12,000 troops not one had seen the lash; and these native troops too. He regretted that the noble Lord at present at the head of the Government in India (Lord Hardinge) had allowed himself to re-establish the system of flogging among the natives. He drew the attention of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) to the fact that the men in the Bengal army were (at least when he knew it) of a superior class, and that punishments were unnecessary among them, for whenever a man misbehaved, he was turned out of the regiment. The army at Madras was of a more mixed description, and that at Bombay equally so. Now, he would place the English army in the situation of that of Bengal, so that when a vacancy took place, there should, so far from there being any necessity to seek for troops, be twenty or thirty candidate sready to fill it. He assured the House, that in Bengal he never knew a man discharged or killed, but there were about fifty candidates for 458 the situation. Was it not possible to place the British army in a situation of this kind? It had been said that they must support the authority of the corporals, the sergeants, and the different officers, and they could not do that unless they had flogging. But in France there was no flogging. He recollected also, that corporal punishment had been abolished in the State of Wurtemburg fifteen years ago; and he understood that the army was in a better condition since than it ever had been before. He believed there was no instance of abating brutality towards man which did not make him better. An hon. Member near him had mentioned the case of a regiment composed of 400 and odd men, among whom perfect discipline had been maintained without the use of the lash; and he himself knew of two line-of-battle ships in the North Sea in which the lash was never employed. When, therefore, they saw one part of the service conducted with perfect discipline without the necessity of the lash, the Government would do well to inquire why it was that every part could not dispense with it. When, some years ago, he brought this subject before the House, when the Government were saved only by a majority of eleven, and when a strong feeling existed in the country on the matter, the Horse Guards issued an order for limiting the punishment to certain cases. The cases to which it was limited were cases of mutiny, insubordination, and using or offering violence to superior officers, drunkenness on duty, and making away with accoutrements and necessaries. He was not aware that this order had been repealed; and if this was still the regulation, he held that Mathewson, who was flogged for crying "Halloa" to his sergeant, was punished illegally. He suspected that innumerable cases of improper punishment had taken place in the same way. The tendency of all power was to abuse, unless properly looked after. If they had had a return annually—which he hoped they would have in future—of the number of punishments in every regiment, and on board every ship at sea, together with the number of lashes inflicted in each case, which would let the light of day in and show whether particular officers ought to be entrusted with command—if this had been done, there would have been much less punishment than had taken place. He thought that the improvement which had taken place since the order to limit flogging was made, justified the expectation 459 that the Government would abolish the practice of flogging altogether. It would be regarded as a great boon in the present state of the public mind. It should be remembered that 50 lashes implied 450 stripes, and that there were no regulations as to the length and size of the cat. He thought that some such regulations should be made. Nor should it be forgotten that even 50 lashes might cause death. It was true that there were no cases on record of men in the navy dying from that number, but then there were no coroners' inquests in the navy. The real evil, however, lay in the disgrace attending the punishment, and the consequent degradation of the soldier. There might be cases where men who had suffered the lash had nevertheless risen afterwards, possibly even to be officers; but in the majority of cases this mode of punishment made beasts of the men. There ought now to be an effort finally to abolish it. A more favourable time there could not be than when we were at peace, and had a complete command over the men. He should vote with his hon. Friend.
§ MR. GOULBURN
called on the hon. Gentleman to state when he (Mr. Goulburn) had been in favour of the infliction of 300 lashes?
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
was sure the House would receive with sovereign contempt a proposal coming from such a man as the hon. Mover. From such a man only could it emanate. The service at least would rejoice in the reflection that the hon. Member never did belong to it; and when the hon. Member said that it was composed of the outcasts of society, the service would equally rejoice to know that he never could belong to it.
expressed a hope that the hon. Member for Montrose, and those who, with him, were usually the advocates of economy in the public expenditure, would be prepared to vote the money that would be necessary to make the soldiers more comfortable in barracks. He could conceive nothing more calculated to promote discipline and good conduct among the troops. With regard to the question before the House, he might speak from personal experience. Though he at one time 460 had from 1,200 to 1,500 men under his command, yet such was his objection to the infliction of corporal punishment, that very few cases had occurred to call for it. He had always regarded the punishment with disgust. Everything that could be done ought to be done to raise the character of the soldier, and improve the service. Nothing would tend so much to improve the service as a limited period of enlistment. The experiment had been tried, but not fairly. The period of seven years was too short for the first term; if ten years were tried, and the power were exercised of refusing a man if of bad character, and, if merited, soldiers at the end of a second period extending to eleven years were to receive a better pension than was now allowed, he believed the effect would be greatly for the benefit of the army. The soldier now received but a miserable pittance of pension; after a twenty-four or twenty-five years' service, he got only sixpence a day. He thought the pension should be raised to tenpence or one shilling a day, and should be given after twenty-one years' service. A limited period of enlistment and an increase of pension would do much to improve the service, and render such severe corporal punishments as had been inflicted in the late unfortunate case altogether unnecessary.
§ MR. CURTEIS
said, since he had been in Parliament he had done his utmost to procure the abolition of corporal punishment. He would abolish it in the army, the navy, the prisons, and the public schools. The country was under obligations to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) for the advance he had made in the right direction. Having been asked to join an association for promoting the abolition of corporal punishment, he (Mr. Curteis) had declined, on the ground that he had it in his power to express his views in that House; but if it would be any accommodation to the noble Lord, he should have much pleasure in transferring to his Lordship a ticket of admission for the platform, to a meeting which was to be held on the subject upon Wednesday week. He mentioned this circumstance only to show the resolution of the country. He would recommend the gentlemen of the Horse Guards to put their house in order; for undoubtedly, in a few years, they would have to concede to public opinion. The country expected that the Horse Guards would make their preparations, so that in the course of a few years corporal punish- 461 ment should be entirely abolished. In regard to the recent case which had urged the question on public attention, the coroner and jury had manfully done their duty; and though the verdict was indirectly sneered at by the right hon. the Secretary at War (Mr. F. Maule), still in the face of the country no such sneer could deprive the jury of the honour and credit they deserved for the good they had done. He did not think that it was just to throw any unfair imputation upon the officers of the regiment. They did not seem to have had more to do with the matter than officers had in other cases. It was the system which was at fault. It was true that facilities which could have been wished for carrying on the investigation had not been afforded to the coroner; and it was to the immortal honour of the Rev. Mr. Trimmer, that owing to him the inquest had been hèld. He deserved the greatest possible praise; for had it not been for him the inquiry would not have taken place, and the feeling of the country would not have been so strongly evoked as it had been against the continuance of corporal punishment.
§ The House divided on the Question, that the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Question:—Ayes 90; Noes 37: Majority 53.
|List of the AYES.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Hall, Col.|
|Antrobus, E.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Archdall, Capt.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Bannerman, A.||Hawes, B.|
|Bateson, T.||Henley, J. W.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Howard, P. H.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Howard, Sir R.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Ingestre, Visct.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Borthwick, P.||Kemble, H.|
|Buller, C.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Byng, rt. hon. G. S.||Langston, J. H.|
|Cardwell, E.||Le Marchant, Sir D.|
|Churchhill, Lord A. S.||Lindsay, hon. Capt.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Maitland, T.|
|Craig, W. G.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Mildmay, H. St. J.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Mitcalfe, H.|
|Dundas, D.||Morpeth, Visct.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Forster, M.||O'Conor Don|
|Fox, C. R.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Gore, M.||Parker, J.|
|Gore, W. O.||Peel, J.|
|Gore, hon. R.||Pigot, rt. hon. D.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Greene, T.||Polhill, F.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Price, Sir R.|
|Pulsford, R.||Taylor, E.|
|Reid, Col.||Traill, G.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Ward, H. G.|
|Rutherfurd, A.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Wood, rt. hon. C.|
|Seymour, Lord||Wood, Col.|
|Seymour, Sir H. B.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Wyse, T.|
|Smith, J. A.||TELLERS.|
|Somerville, Sir W. M.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Sutton, hon. H. M.||Tufnell, H.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Fuller, A. E.|
|Baine, W.||Layard, Capt.|
|Bernard, E. G.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Moffatt, G.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Morris, D.|
|Bridgeman, H.||Osborne, B.|
|Bright, J.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Brotherton, J.||Protheroe, E. D.|
|Browne, W.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Collett, J.||Thornely, T.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Turner, E.|
|Curteis, H. B.||Wakley, T.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Warburton, H.|
|Duncan, G.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Duncombe, T.||Williams, W.|
|Escott, B.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Evans, Sir D. L.||TELLERS.|
|Ewart, W.||Hume, J.|
|Fielden, J.||Bowring, Dr.|
§ Main Question agreed to. Order read. Motion made that Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
then moved the following Resolution as an Amendment:—That it shall not be lawful to inflict corporal punishment by flogging, on any private soldier, corporal, or non-commissioned officer in the Army or Militia of the United Kingdom, save for offences committed on a line of march, mutiny, or theft, and that in all such cases the number of lashes be limited to fifty.
LORD J. RUSSELL
said, the principal point, the limitation of the number of lashes, had been already settled by the directions to be given by the Commander-in-chief. As to the other part of the Resolution, the House could not then attempt to fix the offences for which punishment should be awarded. The Resolution appeared to leave the punishment for open mutiny, but not for insubordination, or violence to a superior officer that might endanger his life. They could not consent to the Resolution without further deliberation.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
believed striking an officer would be considered mutiny. He should go to a division.
§ Main Question agreed to. Supply considered in Committee. House resumed. Committee to sit again.
§ House adjourned at half-past One o'clock.
§ [We insert only the names on the first division. The names on the second division were the same as those on the first, with the exception that some hon. Members had left the House.]