« ÖncekiDevam »
be seized with a total insensibility in all could be continued only in holes and his parts, and so resolutely persisted in corners. He would not disguise his feel. it, that after pins had been run under his ings on the barbarous and ignominious nails, and every torture ingenuity could punishment which hung over the backs devise had been exhausted, a surgeon was of the army, and now, indeed, of the nacalled in, who, supposing that he had met tion also : nor could he at present join in with a hurt in the head, recommended the encomium passed on the Commander that he should be trepanned, which ope. in Chief, being totally ignorant on the ration was accordingly, performed upon subject. If the papers called for were him, and it was not till they were scraping once before the House, and warranted that his brain, that a low groan at length burst encomium, he should feel pleasure in joinfrom him. He obtained bis discharge, ing in it; but he could not, without every soon rapidly recovered, and on the rumour information which could be required beof a press-gang being in the neighbouring before the House, join in covering the hood, disappeared. The name of the foulness of the cat-o'-nine-tails. As to regiment, and of the surgeon, had been petitions for reforms, or for the redress of stated, and the officers of that regiment grievances, what were they in comparison or the surgeon would have undoubtedly of this measure? If England was to be contradicted this statement if it could be flogged, it was a species of infamy which contradicted. And would it after this be no other people, he believed, had ever maintained, that men were not struck been condemned to, or would have en. with dismay, at the very idea of being dured. When he saw attempts thus made driven into a service, where this punish- to baffle all enquiry into the actual state ment of flogging was part of the system of things, and to throw dust into the eyes Would it be alleged that they not only of the House, he could not sit still and would not wish to see it changed; but, as see such despicable chains fastened on was alleged on the other side, that it even the people. The great benefit to be deformed a bond of union between the of- rived from the present motion in his mind ficer and soldier? If this was so, he knew was, that it bad in view the total abolition nothing to which he could compare that of this punishment, which he trusted would sort of affection on the part of the sol - be speedily effected. Gentlemen on the diers, except to the idea of Juvenal in other side wished to be esteemed religi. one of his satires, where it is said, that ous; if they believed the Bible to be the the fish was anxious that it might be taken, word of God, they must agree that this in order that it might form part of the was a punishment forbidden by it. Forty emperor's dinner. In the year 1808 there stripes lacking one, were as many as were were found to be nearly eight thousand allowed by that which they themselves blind men in the army, applying for their called the law of God. It was a punishdischarge on that account, but as it was ment against the policy of the military suspected that the greater part of those law itself. It was known in the military men had caused their own blindness to code of no other country; and what was procure their discharge, there was an there in the nature of the English, that it order issued to deprive those discharged should be palatable to them alone? Was for this cause, of the benefits of the pen. it to be endured, that the image of God sions they would otherwise have had. in man should thus be disgraced ? When it was considered what dreadful Mr. Lockhart observed, that this punishsufferings men had thus borne or inflicted ment was not peculiar to this country, as upon themselves to get their discharge, it thc bon. baronet appeared to imagine; was hard to believe that the situation of but that among the Romans, the most a soldier was quite so comfortable as had bigh-minded and military nation of anbeen represented. Young officers were cient times, corporal punishments were obliged to attend these dreadful punish allowed. The dictators and consuls were ments in order to inure them to it; and attended by lictors, and the order was private soldiers, who, perhaps, would have often given “ 1, lictor, perge, cadite." In had fortitude enough to have undergone the French army, formerly, there was the them, had often fainted in the ranks at punishment of running the gauntlet, and being obliged to witness them. He was there still was imprisonment in a dunconvinced that if such a practice took geon, working at fortifications in irons, place, in the face of day, and the public, serving on board the gallies in irons, and, it must be soon laid aside, and that it above all, death, which was inflicted at least 100 times for once that it was in the nerals of great reputation had expressly English army. He had conversed with declared their disapprobation of corporal many French officers, prisoners in this punishment, but ai the same time he country; who had assured him, that no- thought that it could not be done away all thing could be more precarious than the of a sudden, and especially in such times condition of the French soldier, or more
It was very satisfactory, howdependent upon the particular character ever, to know, that those punishments were or caprice of the officers. As to the num. now much less frequent than they were ber of stripes given, he certainly agreed formerly; and he thought it might be a with the hon. baronet, that such a number great improvement to refer those cases should never be given as would endanger (whenever they could be referred) to the life; and, indeed, he believed that our judgment of general courts-martial, rather code was too loose upon this subject. than to the judgment of a few officers, and He thought that it might, perhaps, be use- perhaps some of them young and ignorant ful to have our military code revised; and of what was really most conducive to the he hoped it would be found possible, in good of the army. As to the difficulty of ordinary cases, to fix the proportion of the procuring discharges, that had formerly punishment to each offence. He did not been a great hardship, but considerable think any danger of oppression and cruel- | improvements had already taken place in ty was to be apprehended in the militia or the regulations on that subject, and other local militia, as in both those services the improvements might be expected. He officers were gentlemen accustomed to must own he felt a dread of the army look. serve on juries, and acquainted with the ing up either to the House of Commons, spirit of our constitution. As to the Eng- or to any individual member of il, for relish being a flogged nation, as the hon. dress of their complaints. He should be baronet expressed it, that was a mistake. glad to get the information required, but Punishment was not made for the English not in the way proposed. If the governnation, but for the guilty, or those who ment had such accounts regularly filed at deserved it. Ignominy depended on pub- some public office, he believed the effect lic opinion-it was not punishment but would be produced of diminishing those crime which conferred ignominy.
punishments. 1. Mr. C. W. Wynn would vote for this Sir Samuel Romilly begged to call back motion, although he was not prepared to the attention of the House to the question agree to the total abolition of corporal really before them. This was not a mopunishment. He thought that the fre- tion for the abolition of corporal punishquency of it, however, might and ought to ments, but for the production of certain be much diminished ; and that, except in papers regarding military punishments. extraordinary cases, such as the suppression In resisting the production of the paper of a mutiny, corporal punishment ought now called for, gentlemen on the other never to be inflicted without previously side did more mischief to the cause they consulting the commanding officer of the wished to support than any return, howdistrict. He believed that cruel punish- ever great as to the number and extent of ments frequently proceeded from the mis- punishments it contained, which the ingetaken notions of very young officers, who nuity of man could conceive, could by considered that nothing was more for the possibility effect. Must not it go out to good of the army than great strictness and the world that they opposed the producseverity.
tion of the paper in question, because the Mr. Wilberforce said, that he felt it im- number of punishments which it contained possible to avoid being carried away, in must fill all who perused it with astonish. some measure, by the powerful effect of ment and horror? And was not this idea the statement of the hon. baronet, and by calculated to irritate: If the account would the warm feelings which he had displayed shew a diminution of punishment, why so honourably, and so forcibly: At the should they run the risk of those misresame time, when he considered what an presentations or exaggerated reports which army was, and how sharp and powerful an their refusing the information would natuinstrument it had proved against the ene- rally produce? It was not the bon. baronet mies of the country, he thought there therefore who was to blame in making to should be great caution used before any the House a statement calculated to provery important alteration was made in our duce alarm. It was the right bon. gentlemilitary system. He was aware that ge- man opposite, who told the House, that to
produce the paper called for must lead to cussion of this subject had produced the the abolition of corporal punishment. If most important benefits, since within these this was really to be the result, must it not few years, in consequence of it, corporal be supposed to proceed from this, that the punishment had been greatly lessened. An return would be found to be so enormous, hon. gentleman had said, that in the mithat this must be expected as the neces. litia nothing was to be feared, because the sary consequence? The hon. and learned officers were frequently magistrates,or had gentleman (Mr, Lockhart) said, he should served upon the grand juries. How true wish to revise the military code. But this assertion was, might be gathered from would he wish to do so without knowing the writings of military men, best acquaintwhat it was, and without information whe- ed with the subject, among whom was sir ther it required revision or not? The re- Robert Wilson, who had stated expressly, turn now sought for ought to be made, if that corporal punishment was more fregentlemen opposite were correct, in order quent in the militia, ihan in any other den to remove false impressions. Did any man partment of the service, and had supported say, that false statements, on such a sub- his observation, by making it appear,
that ject, ought to be suffered to go out, while if as many men were continued to be so they were capable, by a fair view of the punished annually, as had hitherto suffered, subject, of satisfactory explanation? Was for only six years, the whole 70,000 men there ever an assembly of human beings would have undergone the inhuman senso infatuated as to suffer such a statement tence. With respect to the nature of the to go forth; preferring to cover facts in punishment, it was almost needless to the veil of darkness, rather than to allow quote the well known authority of judge them to meet the light; particularly when Blackstone, who bad declared that by the the production demanded was calculated constitution of England simple death, unto remove unpleasant impressions or sur- attended with any circumstances of tormises ? He could not forbear expressing ture, was the severest punishment that the bis astonishment at his hon. friend behind law allowed; the rack and the knout were him (Mr. Wilberforce), who agreeing in unknown, and it remained for us by a rethe desire to remove the evil complained finement of cruelty to drive a man to the of, suill refused to be informed on the very verge of existence, a surgeon stand. subject. He hoped his bon. friend would ing by to feel the pulse of the sufferer, and see the propriety of altering his opinion. to pronounce when nature could bear no As to his fear of the army looking to that additional infliction, and when his soul was House; nothing, he thought, could be about to forsake his tortured body, to leap more natural than that they should look to into eternity, he was taken down from the parliament. Did not parliament legislate halberts, removed to an hospital, and every for them? Did not parliament annually means taken to call back life only to be pass their Mutiny Act? And was it not again tortured. Here the
wretch was proper that parliament, and also the tri- left, his body more at ease, but his mind bunals which sat to give effect to the le- still upon the rack, reflecting, that the gislative provisions enacted by parliament, faster his wounds healed, the nearer he should be informed of the consequences, was to the infliction of the remainder of beneficial or otherwise, produced by the his sentence; and that his wounds were regulations of the one, and adopted for the only healed by his tormentors that they government of the other?
might again be torn open.
It was mere One of the greatest objections to the hypocrisy' to say, that the minds of the present system of military punishment was, soldiers would be inflamed by what passed that there was no limit to the punishment in parliament; they perhaps would never courts-martial might inflict, but the mercy hear it; and would ihose be affected by of the members. They might order the statements in a deliberative assembly who infliction of 5, or 5,000 lashes, without were compelled to witness unmoved the control, and it was most important, that sufferings of their fellow.creatures ? The they should in future know, what it was substitution of death would be comparathey did, and what they ought to do. He tively merciful, for individuals had been would be glad to be informed, what mis- known to fly into his arnis to be shieldies chief was to be dreaded ? Was it discus. from the lash. It should likewise be resion? The other side of the House, by their membered, that the persons wno were thus resistance to this motion, provoked it, and, degraded and tormented, were not volun. according to their own tement, the dis- tary victims; they were first compelled (VOL. XXIL)
to enter the army, and afterwards to en- it marks of fabrication; it was said, that dure its punishments ; bòys, who in law the man had pins thrust under his nails, had no power of disposing of their pro- and endured the most exquisite tortures perty, were, in the army, permitted to sell that could be invented, unmoved, until at their lives and liberties for a few guineas, last he was trepanned, and the brain being spent in licentious debauchery. Under scraped, he simply exclaimed, Oh!" all these circumstances he was of opinjon, | This might be true, as well as the addition that the account moved for ought instantly to it that the man being discharged, into be laid upon the table.
stantly recovered; but on hearing that a The Chancellor of the Exchequer would press-gang was in the neighbourhood, impute only the purest motives to the sup- made his escape, and never was heard of porters of the motion, but the effect of afterwards. He confessed, he thought that their arguments he was convinced would he never had been heard of before. This be productive of mischiefs of the greatest story shewed the distress to wbich the hon. magnitude. Thinking as he did that the baronet was reduced, and the state of mind continuance of corporal infliction was a in which he came to the discussion of the necessary evil, he was of opinion that he subject, when he who professed in general could not have done any thing more de- very little respect for newspaper authotrimental to the service, ihan if he had em rity, could still for his own purposes think ployed such language as had been used every word of this improbable narration on ihe other side. He did not dread so strictly true.-(Sir F. Burdett said, across much the dissemination of the truth, as he tbe House, that the man belonged to the did the exaggerated misrepresentations 1st Somersetshire militia, and that the that had been employed, and bringing surgeon who trepanned him was a Mr. forward into notice solitary instances of Welsh of Taunton.)-No doubt, then, severity or suffering for which no parallel since the hon. baronet was so well accould be discovered. He admitted that quainted with the names and addresses, he there had formerly been cases where the had taken pains to write to Mr. Welsh, of punishment was partially inflicted at one Taunton ; but until better authority was time and completed at another, but the quoted, he should think it a complete modern practice had been directly the fabrication, since those who would naturalreverse. It would have been well, there. Iy have received information about it fore, had his hon. and learned friend, be knew nothing of a circumstance so extrafore he drew such a picture of the repeti- ordinary. The case of suicide introduced tion of the punishment of flogging for the bad no better foundation, it had been ensame offence, enquired whether such a quired into, and the newspaper in which practice was continued. The question of it was inserted was now the subject of its legality had been submitted to his right prosecution. Besides, upon these matters hon. friend, the present Judge Advocate, ihe document required would afford no inand he had pronounced it not lawful. telligence, although it was preposterously Why then was such a representation made, held out to be one, the contents of which when no grounds for it any longer exist would throw the country into a state of ed? It was likewise true that in some revolt.—One of the great objections to regiments corporal punishment was more laying this account upon the table was, frequent than in others; but the obvious that it would point out particular regiments reason was, because it was more deserved. in which more flogging was inflicted, Would the production of the document (although deservedly) than in others, and required throw the faintest light upon any would hold up the officers commanding of the cases which the hon. baronet had such regiments to the odium of the army, selected from the newspapers; to which and of the whole country, from which not authority, however, he declared that he the slightest benefit could be derived, gave little credit? Would it afford any since the necessary punishments must be information upon the instance of singular continued. The number of corporal puinsensibility which he had adduced with nishments would appear, but the grounds so much ostentation, and which (though and merits of each case would remain out taken from a newspaper) the hon. baronet of sight. If officers were thus to be put implicitly believed? For his part, he was upon their trial, it would be far better to not quite so credulous, for he discredited make any law that might be deemed adthe story altogether. The statement that visable prospective.--Another reason for was published bore upon the face of refusing it was, that it would only produce future debate, since the avowed object was were not such, as to excite a spirit of mu. to bring the general question under the tiny among the soldiery, the motion itself notice of the House. In his opinion, was replete with every danger. It was imnothing but the most trying necessity possible to allude to the punishments of the could justify the discussion of military army; the bare mention of flogging was affairs by the legislature, and yet the pre- it seemed the watchword to discontent; sent was the third or fourth time that gen- and those who were disposed to avert this tlemen had volunteered to introduce the danger would oppose every motion which subject during the present session. To in any way interfered with the management this it was answered, that resistance to the of the army. Where was the consistency motion provoked discussion. How could of the hon. member for Yorkshire ? In the it be avoided ? For gentlemen finding that same breath he had declared himself unbecause they should not have the docu- willing to interfere at all with the army, ment required to debate upon on a future and pronounced an eulogium on the late day, had taken this opportunity of de Mr. Windham, whose plans began and claiming, not on the point before the ended in the amelioration of the army. House, but upon the general question of He had pointed out freely the abuses of the propriety of flogging in the army. all kinds which existed in his time-the An bon. and learned gentleman (sir S. enlistment of individuals intoxicated or Romilly) had set out with recalling the under age into a state of service or slavery attention of members to the true matter for life. But no such motives were ever at issue, but led away by the warmth of imputed to Mr. Windham. It was rehis feelings, and by the wide scope the served to the present question to hear arsubject gave to his eloquence, had wan- guments of such a nature brought forward. dered from the line he had in the begin- Why, there was not a single session in ning chalked out, and had entertained the which parliament did not interfere with House with highly wrought pictures of the army, and in which they did not dismiseries attending corporal punishment. cuss questions which had a tendency to If, therefore, the return were made, the agitate the passions of those of which it consequence would be to ensure two de. was composed even more nearly perhaps bales, instead of getting rid of the subject than the present. To whom were the in one. The hon. baronet had repeated army to look up but to parliament ? now what he had before stated, that be. Who paid them ? Every thing, however, cause we had a local militia, Great Britain belonging to the army was not a prowas a flogged nation. It might as truly per subject for parliamentary discussion. be said that we were a banged nation, They could not with propriety venture to because all were subject to the criminal sit in judgment on the shape of a button, laws; and doubtless the hon. baronet (as or on the cut of a whisker or of a coat, bewell as others) could point out many in- cause this being a more weighty business, dividuals who, on this account, would wish required abler heads than could be supthis punishment also to be abolished; it posed to be found in parliament; but the might be urged too with much greater rewards which the army ought to receive truth, that many persons had hanged and the period at which they should be themselves, rather than undergo the same discharged; the commissariat, also, that ceremony by the hands of a public execu- most delicate subject, were matters that tioner. He concluded by expressing bis came with propriety before them. The determination to give his decided nega- retreat to Corunna, and the expedition to tive to the motion.
Walcheren, where thousands and tens of Sir S. Romilly, in explanation, pointed thousands of our countrymen perished, out several misrepresentations in the speech were subjects upon which the House bad of the right hon. the Chancellor of the deliberated; but never, till this day, did Exchequer, which misrepresentations be those who wished to scare them fron enwas astonished to find cheered by the hon. quiry, resort to such arguments as those gentleman opposite.
of that night. Not even the planner of Mr. Brougham supported the motion. the Walcheren expedition, ner bis coadjuHe was astonished at the line of argument tor, who caused ihe question to be disa adopted by the Chancellor of the Exche.cussed with shut doors, ventured to hold quer and the hon. member for Yorkshire. such a language to the House. If such a The House were told, that if the motives of ground for the refusing of papers was listhose who supported the present motion, tened to, then there would be an end of