HC Deb 16 February 1860 vol 156 cc1161-91

, in rising to call the attention of the House to flogging in the Army and Navy, said the system was most injurious to those services because it prevented respectable men from joining them. Upon their soldiers and sailors the country depended for fame, for honour and for security, and yet under the existing practice our soldiers and sailors were liable, for trivial offences, to receive worse treatment than that given to convicted criminals and felons. By the present law no culprit could be flogged in the public streets except one who had actually threatened the life of the Queen. Yet our soldiers and sailors were placed on the same degraded level as that execrable miscreant; and even one quarter of the cruelty to which they might be subjected with impunity would, if only inflicted on a horse or an ass bring the perpetrators of such brutality within the penalties of imprisonment and hard labour. It was said by many officers that the abolition of flogging would lead to a total subversion of discipline. But the hon. and gallant General (Sir He Lacy Evans), whose opinion on such a subject was most valuable, declared some years ago, when examined before a Commission, that he believed the system of Hogging in the army to be totally useless, and most injurious in its effect, by preventing respectable persons from enlisting. The officers who opposed the abolition of this punishment were influenced just as the Judges and Recorders were influenced when it was proposed to humanize our criminal code. "If," they said, "you do away with the penalty of death for a vast number of offences, the country will be overwhelmed with crime." Yet the result had been a diminution instead of an increase of crime throughout the land. The same result in his opinion would follow, if flogging were abolished in the army and navy. Within his recollection the maximum number of lashes inflicted in the army was 1,000. This number was reduced to 300, and after a soldier had been flogged to death at Hounslow barracks the Duke of Wellington, much to his cre- dit, reduced it still further to fifty lashes, without in the least impairing the discipline of the army. It was not often that descriptions of this punishment appeared in the newspapers, but whenever they did they excited the greatest disgust in the public mind. A short time ago two soldiers were flogged at Woolwich, and this was a description of the scene taken from the highest source:— The first man, named Green, lore his punishment, as stated by an eye-witness, 'like a true soldier;' but the second, named Davis, a young recruit, protested his innocence of the crime of desertion, bellowed and screamed for mercy, and supplicated Colonel Talbot and the medical officer, and others who were present, to have compassion on him, or he should die. His back was covered with a mass of large, red, inflamed boils, which bled profusely at every stroke, and reddened the ground under his feet, upon which the cat was ordered to be withheld for a few moments, when, finding that the punishment was not at an end, he gave vent to exclamations for mercy, and partly succeeded in delivering himself by force from the straps which bound him to the halyards. The punishment was again ordered to be continued, when, at every succeeding stroke, his cries and exclamations were most lamentable, insomuch that officers and men swooned away at the sickening spectacle, and had to he carried into the open air. One officer and upwards of twenty non-commissioned officers and men long in the service closed their eyes, lest they too should become unnerved, and be subject to the reproach and ridicule of their comrades. It was a disgrace to our Christianity and our civilization that such disgusting-exhibitions should be allowed. Soldiers who were flogged suffered severely in constitution. Some years ago Mr. Wakley stated that, in his opinion, and that of the medical profession, when a man of nervous temperament was flogged, some fatal disease, probably consumption, was almost invariably produced. They were obliged to abolish flogging for the Sepoys, and yet they treated in this cruel and inhuman manner men who were equal to a dozen Sepoys. The Duke of Cambridge, much to his honour and credit, had recently issued regulations in restraint of flogging; but he (Mr. Williams) did not anticipate much effect from them, and he hoped his Royal Highness would abolish flogging altogether. If the system were now gradually falling into disuse, there might be some encouragement for those who opposed it; but a recent Return; seemed to show that it was extending. In 1847 only forty-two men were flogged in the whole army, the number of lashes being 2,200; in 1852 forty-five men were flogged, the number of lashes being 2,250; but in 1858 the number of men flogged was 218, and of lashes inflicted 9,338. He now turned to the navy. The punishment in the army was mercy itself compared with that in the navy. The cat was heavier in the navy; it was wielded in a different manner, and it was admitted that fifty lashes in the navy were equivalent to 150 in the army. The maximum punishment was the flogging round the fleet, from which he believed a man rarely recovered; and it was a common saying that it would be far less cruel to string up the criminal at the yardarm at once. He (Mr. Williams) was sorry to say that flogging had also of late increased in the navy. In 1852 the number of men punished was 578, and they received 17,570 lashes; whereas in 1858, 997 men received 32,420 lashes. In the army the flogging was inflicted to a certain extent in an open manner, for, though in some cases the barracks might be closed, still the news spread to the whole neighbourhood around, and this circumstance operated as a check on the punishment in the army. In the navy, however, the flogging was kept quite close. If a stranger not belonging to the navy happened to be aboard ship when flogging was about to be inflicted he was ordered ashore, so that he could not be a witness to the punishment. In 1858 there were inflicted in the army 23,000 fewer lashes than in the navy. The present Admiralty had followed the example of the Duke of Cambridge with respect to regulations as to flogging, and he trusted that some effect would be experienced in the diminution of the punishment, if it was not, as he trusted it would be, abolished altogether. It appeared to him most extraordinary and unaccountable that the greatest number of punishments in the navy was inflicted for drunkenness. It seemed a marvel to him how men could get drunk on board ship, where there was no beershop or grogshop. He was told that this result was accomplished by one man selling his grog to another, and then the extra quantity got in the head and made the man drunk. It only required ordinary common sense either in the officers or the Admiralty to put a stop to that practice. If a man did not wish to drink his grog, let him be paid the full value of it instead; but let him be punished if he received it and then sold it to another. In the navy a certain number of sailors messed together, with a sort of head man over them—at least such used to be the case— and it would put an end to the system of drunkenness if that head man had authority to prevent the grog being drunk by any but the person to whom it was served. Then more than half of the flogging in the navy would cease. A dreadful case had occurred within the last three months. A sailor had been found guilty by a court-martial of insubordination approaching to mutiny, his offence consisting in having, when in a state of drunkenness, put his head out of the porthole of the ship to which he belonged, and called out, "Lads, do what they did on board the Liffey, and roll shot about." He had also done something to the boatswain. Such was his crime, and for it he was ordered to receive fifty lashes. Now, if he had been sober when he had made use of the words imputed to him, there could be no doubt that he would have deserved punishment; but it was clear that the poor creature was drunk at the time. The scene which occurred at the punishment was described in a local print of very moderate politics, the Plymouth Journal, which slated that when the boatswain, who had been insulted by the culprit, was seen preparing to give him the first dozen lashes, the excitement of the dockyard labourers was intense; and the affair ended in a fight between them and the authorities of the Casar, to which the man belonged. It had been stated that the first American frigate which took one of our frigates of larger force in the late war was manned almost entirely by English deserters, all of whom had been flogged; and that these men all the time loved their country as much as ever, but that they had been so disgusted by the barbarities of the service, that there were no lengths to which they were not prepared to go in order to show their hatred of the system. The principal offences for which sailors were flogged were drunkenness, absence without leave, insubordination, dirtiness, neglect of duty, telling untruths, theft, smoking at a man's post, fighting, &c. Was it right that a brave fellow should have his back flayed and his flesh torn from his bones for such offences? Why, it was one of the greatest qualities a seaman could possess to be always ready for a fight. Was it to be endured that men to whom the country owed so much of its greatness should be subjected to such treatment because old gentlemen with high naval titles had no ideas but such as were in vogue fifty years ago, when their ships were manned by means of the press-gang? He was persuaded that flogging was the cause why such difficulty was found in manning the navy, and that if it were abolished, they would have the choice of the best men in the merchant service. For several years past he had moved for a series of returns relating to this subject, and he now proposed to add to them a new feature, which was the name of the captain of each ship in which men were flogged. He would tell the House why he did this. For two years the noble and gallant Officer (Lord C. Paget) had commanded in the Princess Royal. Notwithstanding the high state of discipline and efficiency to which he brought the crew, he had never flogged a man. Well, he was succeeded by a captain who flogged 53 of his men, on whom he inflicted no fewer than 2,700 lashes. Having stated that fact in the House, he (Mr. Williams) received a letter from a gallant Admiral assuring him that he must have made some mistake, for no man had a higher character for humanity than Captain Baillie, who was then commanding the ship. Accordingly, he (Mr. Williams) made further inquiries, and at length he ascertained that the captain who had flogged 53 men was one who came between the noble Lord and Captain Baillie. To prevent mistakes of that kind, which might be very prejudicial to the characters of meritorious officers, he (Mr. Williams) should propose the addition he had named. Men were sometimes ordered to be flogged for drunkenness by officers who themselves were guilty of the same offence. This year more than £500,000 had been expended in bounties, and it was stated that the Government had obtained 10,000 men, it did not appear that more than 1,500 of them were able seamen. Let them only abolish flogging and he had no doubt that they would get without difficulty as many of the sort they wanted as they pleased. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving for the following Returns:— Return of the number of men flogged in the Army and Militia in the year 1859, specifying the offence, the regiments, the place of station, the time, the sentence, and the number of lashes inflicted on each man (in continuation of Parliamentary paper, No. 519, of Session 1858); also, Return of the number of persons flogged in the Navy in the year 1859, specifying the name of the ships and of the commanding officers, the offence, the sentence, and the number of lashes inflicted on each person, stating whether by order of Court Martial or the Commanding Officer (in continuation of Parliamentary Paper, No. 41, of Session 1, 1859).


, in seconding the Motion, said, that both the War Office and the Admiralty had recently issued excellent regulations on the subject, but he wished to see flogging altogether abolished. It was a cruel punishment and formed one of the most prominent anomalies which existed between our civil and our military jurisprudence. The ordinary tribunals of the country inflicted the same penalty for the same offence, whoever the culprit might be but in the army and navy there was one law for officers and another for men. If at a time like the present, when they were endeavouring to make the army and navy efficient, and, if possible, to popularize them —if at such a time the returns quoted by his hon. Friend be true, he would ask was that the means to obtain the increased number of men asked for, for both services? Another paradox in the system was this—What was there in the character of an Englishman so degraded that this punishment must be inflicted upon him, while there was no such thing as flogging in the French army? He remembered last year asking a French officer, who had held a distinguished position in the Crimea, if there was any flogging in the French army, and that officer's reply was, "Neither the French men nor the French soldiers are brutes." The time was come when this punishment, degrading alike to the person who ordered it, the person who administered it, and the person who received it, should be entirely done away with.


asked the hon. Member for Lambeth whether he had ascertained the truth of the statements he had made to the House? [Mr. W. WILLIAMS: Yes.] He recollected as far back as 1855 or 1856 the hon. Member made a most serious charge against the commanding officer and the officers of the 26th Regiment. But the hon. Member made the statement in so clumsy a manner that he (Colonel North) had no hesitation in getting up and denying it from beginning to end. The following day he (Colonel North) had received a letter from the commanding officer of the 26th, stating that every word of the statement was incorrect. On the present occasion the hon. Gentleman had made use of the name of Colonel Talbot, of the Artillery, who commanded the parade on the occasion referred to, and he (Colonel North) wished to ask the hon. Gentleman if he had taken the trouble to ascertain whether it was in the power of Colonel Talbot to remit a single one of the lashes? Why, possibly, he had no more power to do so than the hon. Member for Lambeth himself. Under these circumstances it was perfectly intolerable that a person should get up and brand an officer with cruelty and discreditable conduct without first ascertaining whether that officer had power to remit the sentence or not. The only person who had power, under ordinary circumstances, to remit the punishment in the absence of the officer who had confirmed the sentence was the surgeon of the regiment. A more painful duty could not devolve on any officer than to be obliged to superintend a punishment parade; but he should have a mean opinion of one who shirked the duty if it fell to his lot. The hon. Member had year after year complained of flogging in the army and navy. If the hon. Member, or any other civilian who joined in his complaints, could devise a punishment which, while it was, severe, would keep the soldier only a short time away from his duty, he would be hailed with the greatest gratitude by the whole army and navy. What was wanted was a punishment that would not throw extra duty on the well-behaved soldier. He had known many men who did not care for being three months in confinement; and while they were there, who was doing their work? Why, the good soldier, who ought to be protected by the officers instead of having the duties of his disorderly comrades thrust upon him in addition to his own. The hon. Seconder of the Motion had stated that in the Trench army there was no flogging. Did he inquire how crimes were punished in that army? If he had done so he would have found that where we flog the French shoot. Would the English public like a man to be shot for knocking down a non-commissioned officer? Do not then talk about our treating men as brutes, when the French shot where we flogged. In Berlin soldiers were punished by being placed in a room six feet by four, with a series of re-entering angles, so that it was impossible for him to stand. The punishment was, in fact, so severe, that they were obliged to take the culprits into the guardhouse at night. But would that be tolerated in England? The officers of the army and navy had to curb the natural passions of men. A civilian might get as drunk as he liked for a 5s. fine; but what would be the state of the navy and army if drunkenness were allowed in those services? Discipline must be maintained in the army, drunkenness checked, and orderly behaviour enforced; if it were not, the hon. Member for Lambeth would be one of the first to complain.


said, he could corroborate the statement of the hon. Member for Lambeth in regard to the flogging at Woolwich. He thought it was not enough to condemn military men for flogging men for slight offences, but this House ought also to bear its share of the blame for having given them authority to do so.


said, he had no objection to the Returns desired by the hon. Member, provided he would leave out the names of the officers who were obliged to inflict corporal punishment. [Mr. W. WILLIAMS: Oh, no‡] As his hon. and gallant Friend had stated, it was one of the most painful duties that officers could perform to superintend the infliction of that dreadful corporal punishment. But, as the service was at present constituted, it was one that, he was bound to say, could not be immediately and wholly abolished. During the past year the heads of the two services had endeavoured, by introducing a system of classification, to lessen gradually this disgraceful punishment, and it was a proof of the anxiety of the officers to prevent flogging as much as possible, that out of the whole Channel Fleet only three per cent of the men had been put into the second class—that is to say, the class which was liable to corporal punishment without the sentence of a court-martial. His hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth had of late been in the habit of quoting him as an officer who did not flog. He could assure his hon. Friend that he was not the man to shrink from flogging if he thought it absolutely necessary. He had had the good fortune to have very excellent officers with him, and likewise very good crews, and had consequently been able to get rid of much of it in his ships. But he must positively state that the hon. Member for Lambeth was very much mistaken if he supposed that he (Lord C. Paget) should not flog a man to-morrow if he thought it absolutely necessary. His hon. Friend had quoted returns of the entries of seamen into the navy. He said Ave could not get good seamen; that out of the recent entries there was only a very small proportion of able seamen. He wished to correct his hon. Friend. They had entered within the last year upwards of 10,000 seamen; and out of that number there were upwards of 4,000 able seamen, showing that more than a third were ablebodied. He could not give a better proof to him than this, that we had the pick of the best seamen of the country. And to show that the navy was not in so unfortunate a condition as had been represented, he might state that out of the whole fleet there was only three per cent of desertions. This was most satisfactory, and showed that the fleet was not so unpopular at this moment as was asserted. He had stated to the hon. Member for Lambeth last year that the present articles of Avar were not at all in accordance with the feelings of the age, and that it was the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill to improve the naval code and discipline; and if the hon. Member would have patience he would see a Bill shortly introduced to that end. It would deal with all the matters that had been referred to by the hon, Member; and he hoped would prove satisfactory to the House. He trusted the hon. Member would consent to leave out the names of the officers, whose misfortune, and not whose fault, it had been that they had been compelled to inflict corporal punishment on any of their men.


said, he thought the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel North) had spoken of the Motion in somewhat of an angry tone; but it appeared to him a wise and good thing to bring it forward. It was not directed in a spirit of animosity against the officers of the army and navy, who were acting under necessity. Those who, with himself and the hon. Member for Lambeth, held that the punishment of flogging should be done away with wished an inquiry into the matter. He was old enough to recollect when hanging was the universal punishment in England, and when nothing else could be done with a culprit. No classes of persons were so bent upon hanging as the Judges. And when they were told that certain philosophers and philanthropists were persuaded that men could be kept in the path of duty without hanging, they held up their hands and turned up their eyes at so preposterous an idea. But they had seen that those learned persons were utterly mistaken. In the same way the authorities of the army and navy might not he infallible. All that was asked was to inquire whether the certainty of other punishments would not have the same effect. It was not only the bad effect on the culprit, but the bad effect on those who stood round, and on the society in which it was perpetrated; and he, therefore, asked whether it was not the duty of persons in authority seriously to inquire whether they could not do away with this dire and degrading punishment? The noble Lord said he was about to bring in a Bill for a reform of the penal code of the navy, and he (Mr. Roebuck) trusted that in the reformed code there would be found a clause for the abolition of the lash. He was sorry to sec the noble Lord shake his head in negation of that hope, but he would tell him that unless there was a diminution of these dreadful punishments, his reform would be no reform at all; because he was sure no man after being flogged was an equal man to what he was before, and he would never believe that a soldier or sailor was the same man in the defence of his country and the honour of his flag after being degraded before his fellows by this dire punishment. They were told that it was absolutely requisite to flog boys at school; and there were people now so obtuse as to believe that their children were improved by being flogged. He was quite sure that the infliction of flogging in our public and other schools was one of the most mischievous things which could be done to any body of children, and that, if it were abolished in schools, it would not continue in the army and navy. To tell him that they could not guide a child without flogging was like saying there were no other means of making a good soldier. The noble Lord said it had been his good fortune to command ships in which there were officers and crews among whom it was unnecessary to inflict this punishment. It was the officer, his conduct, and his manner of guiding the men which determined the conduct of the men, and wherever they found a ship or a regiment where flogging was rife they might be sure the colonel or captain was unworthy of command. A great soldier, who, unfortunately, had lately departed, told him that flogging in an army before the enemy in the field was a thing to leave in the hands of the commanding officer; but he added, "Depend upon it that a good commanding officer will seldom have to inflict that punishment." It was the irascible, ignorant, incapable man who resorted to flogging, and in his impotence to govern inflicted pain on the bodies of those over whose minds he could obtain no influence. He said that its infliction was not only a disgrace to the British army, but clearly pointed out the incompetency of the officers who encouraged it in practice.


said, that he heartily concurred in the observations of the hon. Member who had just addressed the House. Indeed, he had placed a notice on the Paper of his intention to move a Substantive Resolution, to the effect: "That the punishment of flogging in the Army and Navy is impolitic, and ought to be abolished." But it would hardly be convenient to have two debates in the same Session on the same subject, and therefore he trusted the division on the Motion of the hon. Member for Lambeth would be taken as an expression of the opinion of the House. Having given the subject great attention and thought, he was persuaded that it would be sound policy on the part of the authorities to altogether abolish the use of the lash. He only regretted that the question had not been mooted by some naval or military officer, which would have weighed more with the country. But there was no doubt that a large number of naval and military officers were anxious for the abolition of flogging; and, on the other hand, they need not be discouraged at meeting with a most determined opposition on the part of the military authorities; for it was impossible not to remember that scarcely one reform in the management of the army had sprung from the military authorities themselves, until it had been thrust upon them from without. To whom, for instance, did we owe a reduction in the number of lashes from 1,000 to 50? To whom did we owe the introduction of regimental libraries and reading-rooms? To whom did we owe the Enfield rifle itself? To whom did we owe the sanitary measures, which, however, had still to be carried out? To whom did we owe the abolition of the stock and the tight dresses of our soldiers? We owed all these reforms, whether already carried out, or about to be carried out, not to the military authorities, but to the press and public opinion of this country. He did not think, then, that civilians need be very much terrified by their own rashness, if they ventured to press still further reforms upon those who seemed to need so much spurring. When the new orders were issued from the Horse Guards and the Admiralty last autumn, he thought the matter was put upon a perfectly satisfactory footing; but prolonged inquiry and investigation had made him feel that the reform adopted by the authorities, though an undoubted improvement, yet would be far, indeed, from abolishing this mode of punishment, or getting rid of the serious evils which it engendered. He saw that by those orders, there were still, as regarded the army, no less than ten offences, five of them being infractions of discipline, the first commission of which would degrade the offender into the second class; and, once there, he would be liable to corporal punishment for that or for any other of those ten offences. In the navy every man, whether in the first class or in the second, would still be liable to be flogged. The main difference made by the new orders would be this—that while the men in the first class could only be flogged after a trial by a court martial, those in the second could be flogged at the will and pleasure of the captain for any one of eight offences. The only wonder to him was, that these restrictions should not have been adopted long ago, without waiting for an outburst of public opinion. It seemed to him almost incredible that our countrymen should hitherto have been liable to this terrible punishment for a first offence, at the caprice of a naval captain; knowing, as they did, how natural it was for the tempers of seafaring men to be quickened by the excitement and vexation incident to their profession. While we maintained a naval and military force of little less than 300,000 men, there would inevitably be a large amount of theft, and frequent cases of intoxication on duty, and so forth; and for any second or subsequent offence, there would still be inflicted corporal punishment. If flogging was to be maintained, then undoubtedly the limits imposed by the new orders were most just and reasonable. But when it was alleged by the advocates of the lash that these just and reasonable restrictions would virtually put an end to flogging, he wished to know how, in that case, they defended the great excess of flogging which there had been in former years. If the moment they adopted a just and reasonable system flogging vanished, was not the inevitable inference that the flogging hitherto had been unjust and unreasonable? There could be no more severe condemnation of the use of the lash hitherto. However, as far as they went, every one must approve these restrictions; but he thought no mere restrictions would suffice, and that not only common humanity, but common sense, demanded the total abolition of the cat-o'-nine tails. It was to the common sense rather than to the humanity of the House, that he wished to appeal that night. And now let the House note this—that the distinctions drawn by the new orders, excellent in themselves, would have no effect whatever in getting rid of the obvious and extreme impolicy of this punishment in this respect, that it degraded the army and navy in the eyes of the working class of this country. He could hardly believe that the military authorities were aware how strong the feeling was in the working class, that if a man goes for a soldier or a sailor, he may become liable to a flogging, and how powerfully that feeling operated in repelling the working men from the service of the Queen. They were for ever hearing of the difficulty of obtaining recruits. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of War, told them last year it was no good to vote a larger number of men, because they might vote them, but the Government could not get them. An immense bounty was offered to any man who would enter our army or navy. We kept up the militia at immense and vast expense, mainly on the ground that it helped to feed the regular army with men. We had had a Commission during the last autumn to inquire into the best mode of manning the navy; but the noble Lord who had just spoken, had told them the other night that the result appeared to be that the navy cannot be manned. He had spoken of the difficulty of filling the naval reserve, and stated that the men were afraid of being kidnapped into the service. But there was not a shipowner who could not obtain hands to man his ship for any part of the world. There was not a scavenger, there was not a chimney-sweep in any town of the United Kingdom, who could not obtain all the help he needed. But there was one employment which the working men despised, there was one employer from whose service they shrunk, and that service was the service of the Queen. Now, to serve Her Majesty, to defend their country, to share in the pomp and glory of war, ought to be an honourable and a popular employment. On the contrary, it was regarded with aversion by the better portion of the working class. Any decent working man looked upon it as a calamity if his son went soldiering. No doubt there were other reasons, just because there were other stupidities in the treatment of the soldier; but the main reason was the consciousness that possibly some day he might become liable to have this degrading punishment inflicted upon him. And he must say that this feeling had been justified by the facts of the case, and especially as regards the navy. Why, in the last three years, on n average, no less than 1,160 men have undergone this punishment, and the average number of lashes had been 37,586. And, although the seaman might perhaps be under such a captain as that of the Agamemnon, who contrived to keep order among 807 men without a lash; or of the Royal George, who, out of 879 men, had flogged but one; on the other hand, he might be under the captain of the Lyra, who flogged sixteen men out of seventy-eight; or of the Swallow, who flogged eight men out of only forty-five. We might be sure of this, that the new orders would do absolutely nothing to dispel the feeling he had referred to, so long as flogging was allowed at all. Let the advocates of the lash distinctly prove that it was necessary—that without it order and discipline could not be preserved—and then he admitted that this incidental evil, serious though it be, must be put up with for the sake of the still greater good. But it did seem to him that the impolicy in this respect of the use of the lash was so great that nothing could justify its maintenance except such a clear and proved necessity. The same conclusion which was forced upon them by the impolicy of corporal punishment was forced upon them no less by its inhumanity. The plain truth was, that flogging was a punishment of so barbarous a character that ere long it must be inevitably sent by the feelings of a Christian and humane country to the same limbo to which had been consigned those ancient instruments of torture, and those horrid penalties for treason, which used to be defended upon the very same ground as the lash is now. He thought we ought to know what it was we were talking about. He might disgust, perhaps he would even horrify the feelings of the House, but if there was anything in the world that he despised, it was that squeamish humanity which shrunk from hearing of suffering, while it would not move a finger to remove it. He should, therefore, take the liberty to read a description of this mode of punishment, written by a sufferer himself. He might premise that not only did the cat-o'-nine-tails spread out and actually inflict nine separate blows, unless—to quote the words of one of his informants —unless they became clotted together by the blood—but each tail was two or three times the thickness of ordinary whipcord, and each tail had several hard knots tied upon it. At any rate, so terrible was the effect, that he remembered that a relative of his, writing to him soon after he joined the army an account of a flogging he witnessed, said that numbers of the men in the ranks actually fainted away with horror at the sight they were compelled to witness, and he had since heard that that was no uncommon occurrence. The description he wished to read was from the autobiography of Mr. Somerville, formerly a private in the Scotch Greys, who had been sentenced to receive 200 lashes. After describing how nooses were placed round his wrists and his ancles, he went on to say:— The sergeant-major, who stood behind with a book and pencil to count each lash, gave the command, 'Farrier Simpson you will do your duty.' The manner of doing that duty is to swing the cat twice round the head, give a stroke, draw the tails of the cat through the fingers of the left hand, to rid them of slush, flesh, or blood; again swing the instrument twice round the head slowly, and so forth. Simpson took the cat, as ordered, at least, I believe so; I did not see him, but I felt an astounding sensation between the shoulders, which went to the toenails in one direction, my finger nails in another, and stung me to the heart as if a knife had gone through my body. The sergeant-major called in a loud voice, 'One.' I felt it would be kind of Simpson not to strike me on the same place again. He came on a second time, a few inches lower, and then I thought the former stroke was sweet and agreeable compared with this one. When the third fell I felt my flesh quiver in every nerve, from the scalp of my head to my toenails. The time between each stroke seemed so long as to be agonizing, and yet the next came too soon. It was lower down, and felt to be the severest. At' 25 'the serjeant-major said' Halt." Simpson stood back, and a young trumpeter took his cat and began. He gave me some dreadful cuts about the ribs, first on one side and then on the other. Some one bade him hit higher, I do not know whom. He then gave them upon the blistered and swollen places, where Simpson had been practising. He went on to describe the increasing torments caused by the descent of the lash as his back became more and more and more mangled; and at length, he said,— I felt as if I could yield and beg forgiveness, but the next moment the coward thought was rebuked within me, and banished. After a hundred lashes had been inflicted, he was taken down. And mark this, that these atrocious cruelties were inflicted by sentence of court martial, the sole charge against Somerville being, that he had refused to remount a furious horse when ordered to do so by the riding-master, though he had reason to suspect that he was really punished on political grounds. He must, however, remind the House that this flogging was much less terrible than many, because it was inflicted in warm weather. In cold weather it is said to be a still more fearful punishment. He had in his hand an account of the flogging of a poor fellow who afterwards shot himself. That flogging took place on a bitter cold morning, "when," the writer says, The mere exposure of a man's naked body was of itself a severe punishment. When the victim was tied, or rather hung up, by the hands, his back, from the effect of previous floggings and the intense cold, looked quite black and blue. On the first lash, the blood spirted out some yards, and after he had received fifty, his back, from the neck to the waist, was one stream of blood. He could scarcely imagine that any one would deny that such a punishment as the one described was, as he said before, a barbarous punishment. He would refrain from expressing his feeling that it was a disgrace to this country; that it was a disgrace to the officers who ordered it; that it was a disgrace and a degradation to that body of men upon any one of whom it might some day be inflicted. He could not hope that those who heard him would go with him so far as that, but of this he was confident, that every hon. Gentleman present, even if he did not look upon it with horror, yet at least would regard it with regret. He was not so absurd as to imagine that they, the enemies of the lash, had a monopoly of humanity. He was quite sure that every one would feel as much as he did, that to strip a man half naked, tie him up by his hands and legs, and then lash him with a whip till the skin was torn off his shoulders, and the blood streamed down, was a punishment at once so degrading and so terrible, that it could only be justified by a real and strong necessity. Assuredly they should all rejoice in resolving that the lash should never again descend upon a British soldier, provided only that its abolition would not be followed by that relaxation of discipline which would, he owned, be fatal to the well-being of the army and navy. But if so, it was obvious that the onus probandi lies not on the opponents of the lash, but on its advocates. They might fairly claim from them clear, full, and conclusive proof that the lash was essential; that its use was a real necessity; that without it order and discipline could not be maintained. The a priori assump- tion in the mind of any right-thinking man must be against the use of such torture: prove its necessity, and they would hold their peace; show that without it those services must fall into disorder or demoralisation, and they would say no more; but if they failed to do so, if they could not—and he thought it would be seen that they could not prove anything of the kind—then, he said, no more was needed; the case for the lash fell to the ground. The fact that flogging was not necessary—that we could do as well without as with it—that its abolition needed not be followed by any relaxation of discipline or order, was demonstrated, not by mere theoretical reasoning, but by actual experience of the most striking kind. He supposed that no one would doubt that of all the Continental armies the French army was the one most distinguished for its discipline, as well as for its valour; in fact that, except our own, it was the most powerful military instrument in the world. But in the French army, in war, as well as in peace, the lash was unknown. Again, it was acknowledged by military authorities, that no army displays more perfect order and good conduct in campaigning, as well as in quarters, than the army of Prussia. He knew that on one occasion the Duke of Wellington was asked which Continental army he would rather command, and his reply was, the Prussian, and expressly because it was so peculiarly manageable. But in the Prussian army the lash was unknown. Again, he found in accounts of the Peninsular war it was incidentally mentioned that the German Legion showed remarkably good order and discipline; on the other hand, he found that it went through the Peninsular war without the use of the lash. To his mind the force of these examples was overwhelming. They offered a demonstration from which no escape was possible; that the highest order and the highest discipline could be kept up without the use of the cat-o'-nine-tails; in other words, tried by the test by which it must stand or fall—the lash stood condemned. What rendered this conclusion still more emphatic was, that in the armies of Austria and of Russia the use of the lash was incessant and terrible; and he doubted whether the result, as seen in the last few years, could be deemed altogether satisfactory. Turn from the Continent to England itself, and they were taught the very same lesson. Thirty years ago, flogging went on in the British army to an extent which he could not have formed an idea of if he had not investigated the subject—to an extent which, in his opinion, was scandalous and wicked. At length the country interfered, and imposed a limit on the use of the lash. The military authorities then, as probably now, declared that it would be impossible to maintain discipline. Public opinion compelled them to impose that limit, and what was the result? So far from the army having deteriorated in character, he found it the universal opinion that it never stood higher in character than it did at the present moment. The same with regard to our navy. There had been an immense reduction, and again, he asked, what was the result? Why, in those old times—those good old times—as the advocates of the lash must think them, we had two general mutinies of whole fleets besides a number of terrible mutinies on board single ships; whereas in our own time mutiny was unknown. To be sure, he might be reminded of the case of the Princess Royal. But it certainly was a most remarkable coincidence (if a mere coincidence it be) that only last Session the attention of the House was called to the atrocious amount of flogging that had taken place on board the Princess Royal under Captain Giffard. It was certainly remarkable that the same ship which had. been made notorious by a mutiny, had a short time before been made notorious for the 2,100 odd lashes which had been inflicted on the crew in a single year. Now it was impossible to imagine how these facts could be got over, except, indeed, by the discreditable allegation that our army and navy contained a larger proportion of scoundrels than those of other lands. For his part, he thought that the system was radically wrong if they retained in the Queen's service a single known scoundrel. He held that those services would never stand on a sound footing till it was thought a privilege by any working man to get into them, and a sufficient penalty for any infraction of discipline to be driven from them; but waiving that, he should like to ask those who assert, as he had often heard naval and military men assert, in talking this question over with them, that there were a number of blackguards in every ship and every regiment who could only be kept under by the lash. He should like to ask them this question:—"How came it that last year there were sixty-seven regiments?—how came it that last year there were forty- three ships, containing nearly 6,000 men, whose commanding officers practically repudiated the use of the lash?" Could they want a stronger demonstration of the fact that the lash was not necessary, when they found it flung aside as useless in so great a proportion of regiments and of ships of war? He challenged those who would be against him that night to invalidate these facts; but, if not, to admit his conclusion—the conclusion that the lash could not be supported on the plea of its necessity. But now was it surprising to find that abstinence from a degrading and brutal punishment had not been followed by more crime, but by less crime, not by worse order and worse discipline, but by better order and by higher discipline? Why, every one who had looked into the subject of the treatment of criminals must be aware that the very same lesson which experience teaches so decisively with regard to the cat had been taught again, again, and again, with regard to all punishments of that violent and degrading kind. It had been the great blunder which shortsighted rulers in every age had made, and which had been attended with invariable failure, to suppose that it was by fierce and appalling punishments that crime is best prevented. He should have supposed that of all the dead dogmas in the world, no dogma had been so effectually disposed of. He knew not what truth in social science had been established by a larger induction of facts than the truth that it was not by cruel punishments, but that it was by those punishments which carry with them the public feeling, that men are best kept in subjection. In short, that it was the first essential of wise government that it should be gentle as well as just—not treating even criminals as brutes, but as men—not crushing and trampling under foot those who break its laws, but even in its penalties acknowledging the reverence that is due to every human being. At first sight of course it was natural to imagine men would shrink most from an offence which would involve some fearful penalty, and that was so when the penalty did not go beyond public opinion; but the moment the penalty begins to shock the feelings of humanity it ceased to be as effectual as a milder punishment in the suppression of crime, and for this plain reason, that then public opinion passed over from the law and from those who administer the law to the side of the criminal; he is looked upon as harshly used, and even those who might be interested in detecting and exposing his crime, and all others as well, take a kind of merit to themselves in concealing the crime and sheltering the crime; not only so, but the hearts of the authorities are apt to be touched. In the case of flogging, it was a common occurrence, when the man was tied up to receive his punishment, for the commanding officer to relent and let him off; with that he was far from quarrelling; but the effect of all this was to prevent that certainty of punishment which, as every one knew, was the true preventive of crime. He might seem to speak too theoretically, but the House must remember that upon this theoretical principle was based that great revolution in our criminal law which Romilly and Mackintosh advocated, and which Sir Robert Peel carried into effect. That vast reform in our criminal law which swept 231 offences from the category of capital crimes was advocated and carried out expressly upon that principle, that crime is best prevented by punishments that are in unison with the humane feelings of society. All he wanted was, that the principle which permeates our civil criminal code should no longer be repudiated from our military code, just as if human nature were changed by wearing a uniform. In another respect he had found in his researches into this subject very strong reasons for believing that not only is flogging less effectual in the maintenance of order than a less savage punishment would have been, but, it was actually itself chargeable with producing no small amount of crime, and on this ground, that in nine cases out of ten, the man who had been flogged feels himself so utterly disgraced and degraded by it in his own eyes and in those of his comrades, that thenceforward he makes no effort to gain a good character. His self-esteem was destroyed, and no one was so likely to rush into the commission of acts of drunken violence and other infractions of discipline, as the man who had undergone this punishment. He would only add one word as to the last refuge of the advocates of the lash—the doctrine that it should be maintained, even if not necessary, because it was so convenient a punishment. No doubt a flogging was soon over. But after all the man was disabled, often for many days—sometimes even for weeks, as in the case of a man flogged last autumn at "Woolwich. Moreover, it involved a punishment parade, at which the regiment, or the ship's company have to be present, to their great loss of time and inconvenience, so that it had not much of that poor merit of convenience. But more than this, he would never allow that a punishment was really and truly convenient, which offends public opinion; which repels men from the Queen's service; which ruins the man on whom it is inflicted; which is not more effectual than a milder punishment would be; and which, finally, in its cruel and brutal character, was contrary to the spirit of our mild and merciful religion.


It seems to me that in this discussion we are not proceeding according to any very logical or philosophical method; and I am not sure that we have not been confounding one kind of punishment with all punishment whatever. We have, living in the midst of us, a caste—men cut off to a great extent from the communications and from the sympathies which exist in civil life; and if this be the case to some extent in all armies, it is certainly so in a much greater degree in England, where the armed class passes the greater part of its existence abroad, and the ties which connect its members with the ordinary avocations of civil life are broken at a very early period. In this country, moreover, we have a great jealousy of the military power. In other nations the military element overrides the civil in a striking manner. It does so in Austria, perhaps more than anywhere in the world; it does so in Prussia, and in France likewise in no slight degree. But in those countries how do they obtain their army? It is, after all, an average specimen of the ordinary civil classes from which it is drawn. By means of the conscription they drew into the ranks the respectable and steady, the wild and lawless, just as they come, and in the game proportions which exist in civil life. We do nothing of the kind. We have no conscription. The steady and the industriously-disposed know nothing of the army, they do not enter it. Those we get are the young, the heedless, the thoughtless, the wild. (Mr. W. WILLIAMS: Hear, hear‡) Yes, Sir, and you surely would not remedy that defect by having recourse to compulsory service? Well, having got this population together, you have to adapt them to military organization, and for that purpose you must exercise over them a strong authority. 'Now, there justly exists in this country, and I trust there always will exist, the greatest jealousy of the military power. If there be any case of military outrage—if it be even a common assault committed by a man in a red coat—you have much more animadversion, jealousy, and alarm than if it were committed by a civilian. It is necessary, therefore, by some means to compensate for this, and to exercise over a body of men more difficult than any other to control a stronger power than exists over civilians. Now observe I am not an advocate for corporal punishment as it has been carried on. But the stories we have heard on this subject are not of yesterday, but are derived from a period when punishment was inflicted with such brutal ferocity that the public mind was justly disgusted, and the public feeling has outlived these punishments. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) has treated this question in a philosophic spirit, and has argued the whole question of corporal punishment. I do not, however, agree with him in what he has said with regard to the punishment of boys. It was the Spartan system of discipline, and as in this country, when mature we take strong exercise, are used to strong labour, drink strong wine, so in youth we want strong repressive discipline. Our English nature is a strong nature and a turbulent nature, and in all ages and among all classes has required a stronger code than nations of a quieter and more pliable disposition. It has been stated that Sir William Napier was against flogging, but he thought it necessary in war. I cannot allude to Sir William Napier without taking this opportunity of expressing my regret for the loss of the last of that band of heroes of all of whom, save perhaps one, he was the most distinguished by pen and sword, and who so illustrated the great name he bore. Sir W. Napier had a bias against authority from the generosity of his nature, and a bias against what he considered the prejudices of his day; and yet he recognized the necessity of this punishment in war, because war, after all, is a moment when men are devils let loose, and when they require the strongest effort of authority to repress and keep them within the limits of order and obedience. But how do you treat civilians in this respect? The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Buxton) says you have here a punishment which you do not inflict upon civilians. Is that so? I applied to the Home Office for information on the state and practice of the law on this subject. I do not say that it is wrong to flog civilians and right to flog soldiers; only when we are told that we have a different punishment for civilians and soldiers I think it right to tell you how you treat civilians. I have here a list of Acts of Parliament inflicting the punishment of flogging for certain offences. There is the 7 & 8 Geo. IV., c. 28, S. 8. Perhaps you will say that is rather ancient. There are the 7 & 8 Geo. IV., c. 29, and the 9th Geo. IV, c. 31. There is also the 5 & 6 Viet., c. 51, for the punishment of outrages against the Queen. There is, I think another Act, which was passed after the destruction of a vase in the British Museum, and which imposes the punishment of flogging for the wilful destruction of works of art. I think, too, I remember a very strong pressure being put upon my noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston), when he was Home Secretary, to introduce flogging for brutal assaults on wives. After all, then, this is not a punishment unknown to civilians, or peculiar to military life. The results may be stated generally that, as the law now stands, for a great majority of felonies not capital, male prisoners, convicted by a jury, whatever may be their age, are liable to be publicly as well as privately whipped not more than three times for the offence committed. It may be said that these laws are obsolete, and are not put in practice. But I asked what was the number of floggings inflicted upon civilians in the course of the year. I find in England and Wales that the number of males sentenced to be whipped by Courts of Assize or Quarter Sessions in the year 1858, was 83. The hon. Gentleman may say that these were mostly boys. That is quite true, but it is also true that these offenders of twenty years and above, were 22 in number. I have also a return of the number of males sentenced to be whipped on summary convictions by justices in the year 1858. The number was not less than 502, of which 472 were under the Juvenile Offenders Act. The rest were not so, and the offences were under Wilful Damage Acts, Vagrant Acts, Railway Acts, and for other offences. I do not say this is right, but it is the fact; and you have, therefore, no right to argue that a severe, exceptional, and intolerable punishment is inflicted upon soldiers which is not inflicted on civilians. I say that with an army composed in the peculiar manner I have described, it is necessary to have more summary, severe, and deterring punish- ments than among other classes. I have described the class of men with which you are compelled to recruit your army under a system of voluntary enlistment. You trust them necessarily with deadly weapons. But what is the effect of the system of military discipline on those subject to it? They are more disciplined, and, therefore, more dangerous when they act' together than civilians. I have received a letter which I will read to the House, omitting the date and place for reasons which will be obvious as I read. The writer, who is a magistrate at the head of the police in an important town, says:— I beg leave to suggest to you that in Parliamentary debates and other public discussions, a very important topic in reference to the army has never been properly noticed. It has only been considered as a military institution costing a great sum, and performing great services; but there is no doubt that the army has done much for society as a reformatory institution, and I am convinced that an inquiry in the police departments of the empire would produce results equally extraordinary and satisfactory. I believe that —is one of the principal recruiting districts, and although we constantly see loose, idle, drunken, and dishonest characters coming before us for military attestation we scarcely ever find them, after a period of service, relapsing into their former habits. The county and city of —regiments of militia, at their first embodiment, almost emptied —of the description of persons to which I allude. If the colonels of these regiments were present, it might be painful to them if I mentioned the name for them to know the materials of which they have had to make soldiers. The writer goes on to say:— On their return after the peace I saw scarcely one of them who had not been greatly reformed, and there are many of them now pursuing an industrious and creditable course. I hope, sir, that you will not consider this note an intrusion, and that you will allow me to assure you that I address you from a motive of public utility. That is a reflection which has often occurred to me. First, as to the materials of which our army is composed; and secondly, the results that the discipline, of which corporal punishment is a portion, but a very small portion, produces. I have not taken an active part in the establishment of reformatories. For children and boys a little older they may, no doubt, do good. With regard to adult criminals, although I am not disposed to go so far as the gentleman who said he would walk sixteen miles to see a reformed convict, I do not believe in the reformation of adults unless they can be withdrawn from the scene of their temptations. I have seen in our own walks of life persons of bad character and disposition, and I have never seen any one of them reform that I can recollect. That this system of discipline has succeeded in improving the materials of which your army is composed cannot be denied. Last year the hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. Williams) alluded to the increased amount of corporal punishment disclosed by these Returns. I do not deny that the increase has been greater than it ought to have been. The hon. Gentleman to my mind, however, has not put the case quite fairly. He says there were so many floggings in. 1847, and so many in 1858. It should be recollected that the army is very nearly double what it was at the former period, but still the percentage has also greatly increased, and in a very alarming manner. I have inquired into the cause of this increase. If you trace a period when you make great efforts to increase the army, you will find that many of the recruits are such as are described by this magistrate—idle, drunken, and dissolute—and you will have at such periods a great deal of crime and insubordination, and, consequently, a great deal of punishment. It is at the same time satisfactory in one respect to find that the great crime for which this punishment is inflicted is that of desertion. One effect of the increased bounty given last year was to lead to a good deal of desertion for re-enlistment in other regiments. Inconsequence of this, corporal punishment had been applied, and it had proved a check. Now let me say a word on a case that has been alluded to in this debate—the case of Somerville. He was a man of great ability and talent; he wrote remarkably well, and in after life raised himself to a good social position. He was not however degraded by having undergone that punishment, for, as I have said, in after life he raised himself to a good social position, and lived, I am told, to think that within limits corporal punishment is necessary in the army. Let me say a word of the recent case at Woolwich. I think it was a bad one, but in the description of that case there was very considerable exaggeration. Writers for the press must paint vividly, in order to produce an effect at a distance; it is the prevailing fault of our modern literature. The case, however, excited some discussion and comment, the Commander-in-Chief was not in England at the time; he arrived two days aferwards. I immediately called his attention to it. The Duke of Cambridge at once ordered an inquiry into the case, and the result was that the officers conducting the punishment were severely reprimanded in public. Another result of the inquiry was the issuing of the general order that has been before referred to. I think we shall find that the amelioration of military law, with regard to the punishment of military offences, has always followed at a certain interval the amelioration of the law with respect to the punishment of crimes committed by civilians, and I think it ought so to follow that improvement; for in the army an extraordinary degree of discipline must necessarily be maintained. Now, the general order of November last, specifies the military offences for which the soldier was previously liable to corporal punishment; they were, "absence from parade, drunkenness, riotous conduct, absence without leave from tatoo, preferring frivolous complaints, disrespect to noncommissioned officers, striking a comrade, absence without leave, as defined by the 51st Article of War, escaping from confinement, insubordination, making away with necessaries, falsely imputing improper conduct to a superior, and sleeping on post, depending on the circumstances and nature of the service. "By the late general order a man cannot now be flogged for any of these crimes. The respectable, well-conducted, and steady soldier—and there are thousands such in the army—may now feel, as he ought to feel, a complete immunity from corporal punishment, except for aggravated mutiny, which, by any and every means, must be repressed. But well-conducted men ought to feel confident of an immunity from a degrading punishment, and by this order they have that security. A soldier cannot be flogged, unless by previous misconduct and the commission of grave offences he has placed himself in a second class, and so made himself liable to it. But even when reduced to this second class, he cannot be flogged for these specified offences, merely because he is in this class. The offences for which a man, reduced to the second class, is liable to corporal punishment are: desertion, mutinous conduct, aggravated cases of insubordination and violence, drunkenness on duty or on the line of march, embezzling public money, stealing from a comrade, designedly maiming, repeated acts of making away with necessaries, arms, & c, and other disgraceful acts, showing vicious propensities. After being reduced to the second class, a man, on repeating these last offences, is liable to be flogged. Yet even when thus reduced "uninterrupted good conduct for a year will again restore the soldier from the second to the first class, as proving a desire for reformation and amendment." The general order further says:— Though thus classified, it does not follow that all men under the second class are to be condemned to corporal punishment. Each case is to be decided upon its own merits, and corporal punishment as much avoided as possible; but a man who by misconduct has placed himself in the second class is liable thereafter to corporal punishment, whereas the man in the first class is not liable to such punishment, except in the case of aggravated mutinous conduct, when severity must at once be resorted to to repress more serious mischief resulting from such conduct. His Royal Highness trusts that the above classification will greatly simplify to the officers of the army the method of dealing with crime: will deter the evil-disposed from committing offences, justly subjecting them to severe punishment, which, though necessary to maintain discipline, should be restricted as much as possible; and will give confidence to the good soldier by securing to him, on entering Her Majesty's service, an immunity from degrading punishment, which immunity it will be in his power to preserve to the day when his engagement shall expire. Now, that is a just and humane order, an order that does credit to the Commander-in-Chief. The hon. Member (Mr. Buxton) says, in these matters we must not trust to military men, because everything that has been done for the mitigation of military punishments has originated with civilians, not with officers of the army. There is a certain degree of truth in that; yet it happens that in this case it was the Duke of Wellington who reduced the infliction of corporal punishment to fifty lashes. And, in justice to a deceased friend of mine—the late Lord Hardinge—I must contradict, as I have often contradicted in this House, the assertion that every improvement in the army has proceeded from civilians, and not from military men. So far from public opinion having forced the Minie rifle upon Lord Hardinge, it is a fact that Lord Hardinge's own efforts led to its introduction into the army. He was far a-head of the public in this respect. As regards the Motion, the hon. Member may, as far as I am concerned, have the Return he asks for. I am anxious the public should know what the exact state of the army is with regard to military punishments. It is very difficult to say what is the degree of severity of any punishment. All punishments are painful. We have heard harrowing descriptions of floggings; but in the novel of Never Too Late to Mend you may read a description of solitary imprisonment infinitely more terrible than the descriptions of the infliction of corporal punishment. What would be severe to one man would not be so severe to another; the degree of severity must depend very much on the peculiar nature or constitution of the individual on whom punishment is inflicted. That applies even more to the mind than the body. I know that the Commander-in-Chief is as much alive as any man to the necessity of resorting to other modes of punishment than flogging; he is most sincere and earnest in his intention; and I hope the House and the country will be willing to leave the question in hands so well able to deal with it without shaking the discipline of the army.


said, he thought the cause of humanity was indebted to the hon. Member for Lambeth for bringing forward this question, and the House must feel indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for his speech. In it he had alluded to the punishments inflicted for civilian crime, but he thought the right hon. Gentleman could hardly point to a single instance in the last ten years of any Judge ordering an adult to be flogged, though the punishment was occasionally inflicted on boys who had been previously convicted. He had also alluded to its infliction for any attack on the person of the Sovereign, or the destruction of public property; but it was for the purpose of making those offences infamous by a degrading penalty. On the other hand, it was still retained in the army for many offences which in civil life would not be considered very serious. With regard to desertion he believed that flogging was the great cause of that offence. In the case in which a man died at Hounslow after the punishment an action for libel was brought by the colonel of the regiment, and it was proved on the trial that six men fainted on the ground during the infliction; and of those six men four afterwards deserted. The only effect of the present system was to prevent men from enlisting, and to cause others frequently to desert from the service. If his hon. Friend wont to a division he would support him, but he thought it unjust that men of honour and probity should be invidiously held up to public reprobation for discharging what was only their duty, and therefore he hoped that his. hon. Friend would not insist on that part of his Motion which would have this injurious effect.


said, that as a naval officer he could not omit expressing his opinion on the subject before the House. He was the first naval officer in that House who pointed out the horrible barbarity of our articles of war, and insisted on a change, especially as regarded the navy. He had always held that it was illegal to inflict punishment by flogging on a man, except after trial by a court-martial, and he was the first who succeeded in putting an end to flogging round the fleet. But the question was, whether it was possible altogether to abolish corporal punishment? He did not see how it was possible to preserve discipline in a ship where there were hundreds of men without having the power to inflict flogging. How, for example, could they punish men who, when the ship was caught in a squall, were found below, when they should have been on watch on deck? And how without flogging would they put down mutiny? He hated corporal punishment. He believed it was worse for the man who inflicted it than for the man who bore the punishment. Still he believed it to be occasionally necessary, but he would have it inflicted only after trial by court-martial; and he would have it provided that the captain should never be present at the punishment, as he, having the power to remit the sentence, was regarded by the men as a brute when he looked on and did not do so. He hoped the Admiralty would before this Session was over prepare a new system of naval discipline, and that they would provide some description of punishment which would have the effect of checking the practice of breaking leave, so common among the men. At present no captain could depend upon his men coming back at the time specified when leave was given to them, and this was so subversive of discipline that it ought to be vigorously checked.


said, he was very loth to continue the debate, but he hoped the House would excuse a few practical observations from a practical man on this subject. Those who belonged to the service were very glad when gentlemen not connected with it let in a little daylight upon subjects of this kind; but he wished to impress upon the House that those who belonged to the service were not naturally cruel men—that they were quite as humane as others—and that they would be exceedingly happy if some other description of punishment than flogging could be found to keep in order the description of men who to a great extent composed the army and navy. He need hardly inform the House that those who went to sea or who followed the drum were not the best part of the community, but were men who hung loosely on society, and those men into whose hands arms were put had to be controlled by necessary discipline. The fear and dread of punishment made soldiers good, just as it did civilians. The soldier was a very different man, when once he became a soldier, from any other person. He (Captain L. Vernon) had seen a man shot in the West Indies for doing that for which any hon. Member of that House who was a magistrate would have fined a civilian only 10s. in this country. But why was the man in question so dealt with? Because, the regiment to which he belonged being in a state approaching to mutiny, he struck the adjutant in the presence of his colonel. After the execution had taken place, General Sir Lionel Smith, the officer in command, assembled the regiment and addressed them. The General was an old man, and he (Captain L. Vernon) remembered what he said on the occasion as if it were but yesterday. Addressing the troops, he said, —"It is a hard thing for an old man like myself to send such a young man as that so soon out of the world; but, although I am an old man, I am not an old woman, and so long as Her Majesty intrusts me with the command of one of her regiments, I will insist on the maintenance of discipline." What happened in another regiment? A regiment, composed of the sweepings of our gaols, was hurried away to Sierra Leone. It had not been long there until it fell to pieces; for the men mutinied and killed half their officers. All that was the effect of want of discipline. The punishments in other services were much more severe than in ours. He did not want a recourse to severe punishments, but he wished to see discipline maintained, for without that our army would not be worth sixpence.


said, there were numbers of young men belonging to respectable families in all parts of the country, too poor to enter any of the professions, who would gladly avail themselves of employment in the army and navy but for the circumstance that a degrading system of punishment obtained in both services. It was a strange anomaly that, while the men in the army and navy were now being supplied with libraries and other facilities for education, the degrading punishment of the lash was still resorted to. He felt confident, if that punishment were abolished, that neither of the services would lack recruits from the best portions of the middle and working classes.


said, he would join earnestly in the appeal which had been made to the hon. Member for Lambeth to omit from the latter portion of his Motion, relating to the navy, the names of the commanding officers. The settlement of the question of flogging must depend on the power and progress of public opinion; but that public opinion would be weakened and retarded if an attempt were made to concentrate it on individuals instead of directing it against the system itself. If the hon. Member, however, should refuse to comply, he should, though reluctantly, vote against the Motion.


said, the hon. and gallant Member for Oxfordshire (Colonel North) had been entirely misinformed in the statement he had made relative to him (Mr. Williams). As to the request of the noble Lord (Lord C. Paget) that he should leave out the names of the commanding officers, he (Mr. Williams) held that the Return would be of no value without them.

Address for Return relative to flogging in the Army and Militia agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed,— That there be laid before this House, a Return of the number of Persons flogged in the Navy in the year 1859, specifying the name of the ships, and of the commanding officers, the offence, the sentence, and the number of lashes inflicted on each person, stating whether by order of Court Martial or the Commanding Officer (in continuation of Parliamentary Paper, No. 41, of Session 1, 1859).


said, he would now move, by way of Amendment, that the names of the commanding officers be omitted.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "and of the commanding officers."

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 46, Noes 124; Majority 78,

List of the AYES.
Adam, W. P. Ayrton, A. S.
Alcock, T. Baines, E.
Angerstein, W. Baxter, W. E.
Arnott, Sir J. Black, A.
Buxton, C. Mitchell, T. A.
Caird, J. Morris, D.
Coningham, W. Noble, J. W.
Crossley, F. Norris, J. T.
Dalglish, R. Pease, H.
Davey, R. Pollard-Urquhart, W.
Dillwyn, L. L. Rothschild, Baron L. do
Douglas, Sir C. Roupell, W.
Duff, M. E. G. Salt, Titus
Goldsmid, Sir F. H. Scholefield, W.
Greene, J. Shelley, Sir J. V.
Gurney, S. Sturt, N.
Hodgkinson, G. Sullivan, M.
Jackson, W. Sykes, Col. W. H.
King, hon. P. J. L. Trelawny, Sir J. S.
Lawson, W. Whalley, G. H.
Locke, John Wyld, J.
MacEvoy, E.
Maguire, J. F. TELLERS.
Martin, J. Williams, W.
Mellor, J. Bristow, A. R.
List of the NOES.
Agar-Ellis, hon. L. G. F. Hervey, Lord A.
Antrobus, E. Holland, E.
Atherton, W. Hope, G. W.
Bagwell, J. Horsfall, T. B.
Baring, A. H. Ingham, R.
Baring, T. Ingram, H.
Baring, T. G. James, E.
Beaumont, W. B. Jermyn, Earl
Beecroft, G. S. Kendall, N.
Bond, J. W. M'G. Kennard, R. W.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Kingscote, Col.
Bouverie, hon. P. P. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Lacon, Sir E.
Browne, Lord J. T. Laing, S.
Bruce, Major C. Langton, W. H. G.
Buller, J. W. Liddell, hon. H. G.
Burke, Sir T. J. Locke, Joseph
Byng, hon. G. Longfield, R.
Calthorpe. hn. F. H. W. G. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Lyall, G.
Carnegie, hon. C. Lygon, hon. F.
Castlerosse, Visct. Lysley, W. J.
Cave, S. Mackie, J.
Clifford, C. C. Matheson, A.
Clinton, Lord R. Merry, J.
Clive, G. Mildmay, H. F.
Collier, R. P. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Collins, T. Newdegate, C. N.
Crawford, R. W. Nicol, W.
Davie, Col. F. North, Col.
Dawson, R. P. Northcote, Sir S. H.
Dunbar, Sir W. O'Brien, P.
Dunkellin, Lord Onslow, G.
Esmonde, J. Paget, Lord C.
Evans, T. W. Palmerston, Visct.
Finlay, A. S. Parker, Major W.
Fortescue, C. S. Peel, Sir R.
Freeland, H. W. Peto, Sir S. M.
Card, R. S. Powys, P. L.
Gavin, Major Pritchard, J.
Gordon, C. W. Pugh, D., (Carmarthen
Gower, hon. F. L. Puller, C. W. G.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Quinn, P.
Gurdon, B. Ricardo, O.
Hanbury, R. Ridley, G.
Hankey, T. Robertson, D.
Henley, Lord Salomons, Mr. A.
Hennessy, J. P. Salt, Thomas
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Selwyn, C. J.
Seymour, Sir M. Walter, J.
Sibthorp, Major Warre, J. A.
Smyth, Col. Watlington, J. W. P.
Somes, J. Way, A. E.
Stirling, W. Wemyss, J. H. E,
Steuart, A. Western, S.
Stuart, Col. Westhead, J. P. B.
Tempest, Lord A. V. Whitbread, S.
Turner, J. A. Wickham, H. W.
Vandeleur, Col. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Vansittart, W. Wyndham, hon. H.
Vernon, L. V.
Villiers, rt. hon. C. P. TELLERS.
Walcott, Admiral Knatchbull-Hugessen, E
Walpole, rt. hon. S. H. Brand, hon. H. B.

Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.