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to the second point, that no case of practical necessity, or even practical benefit, can be made out in support of an adherence to the system. Upon this proposition we appeal without fear to history and experience, and the practical knowledge of military men.
The onus of proof, it is sufficiently evident, lies with the advocates of the lash. The primâ facie case is entirely against them. According to the general principles of reasoning the practice is clearly indefensible. At first sight the punishment appears destructive of the courage of a soldier, and degrading to the feelings of a man. The eye turns with loathing from the sight; and the mind recoils with horror from the recollection. The champions of flogging, therefore, must demonstrate that the practice is indispensable in our military and naval service; that the discipline of a regiment cannot be adequately maintained without its continuance. They must prove, that in those armies, or divisions of armies, where this system is most rigorously adhered to, there is the greatest share of bravery and the highest degree of order and good conduct.
But how stand the facts? We could produce instances in the English army, where there has been the worst discipline in the very regiments where there has been the most flogging. But here, it may be said, we have mistaken cause and effect. There was the most flogging because there was the worst discipline, not the worst discipline, because there was the most flogging. Suppose it to have been so in the first instance; suppose a regiment to have been formed from a idle and disorderly set of rogues and vagabonds; will all their bad habits be expelled, and better qualities be instilled into them in their stead, by the application of the lash? Absolute riot and drunkenness and theft may, perhaps, be checked and diminished by such means; but it must be a far other course of treatment, which can draw forth the latent sparks of virtue, which can bring to light the true feelings which should characterize and distinguish the warlike defenders of Great Britain ; a proud sense of honour, a generous spirit of emulation, and the noble union of humanity with courage.
In short, this degrading and terrible severity can produce
at the very best only negative good effects; it can only contribute to the lowest and most common merits of the soldier. A system of terror may prevent à man from running away in battle; but it is encouragement, or the hope of reward, which can alone inspire feats of active heroism, and the cheerful endurance of fatigue and danger. Thus, too, the fear of the lash may sometimes restrain a man in his career of rape and plunder ; but here its utility must stop. Yet a good soldier must have some positive qualifications; these the practice and the dread of flogging can never give. A good soldier must be something more than not a liar, not a drunkard, not a thief. In soldiers, above all men, the sense of honour must be never lost, never impaired. But the system of flogging has a certain tendency to impair and to destroy it.
In addressing your Royal Highness we have purposely refrained from that indulgence in declamation which the subject might invite. Our statement, we trust, has been plain and calm and temperate ; with little to mislead, and nothing to inflame. But our whole argument, we may be told, is a mere idle theory, which an accurate investigation of real facts immediately overturns. We may be told, that the slightest glance at the events of the last war must convince ourselves that it is erroneous. We may be told to look at the character and the achievements of the British army; to observe of what elements it is composed, and what deeds it has performed. We may be asked, if the British soldiers in the Peninsula and at Waterloo have displayed no bravery, no honour, no humanity, no heroism; if they have proved themselves to possess the mere negative merits of servile obedience and tolerable discipline. To all this we answer, that it is nothing to the purpose. God forbid, that we should underrate the courage, or depreciate the glories, of our gallant countrymen ! But we say, that they have retained their noble and characteristic qualities, not with the assistance of the lash, but in spite of it. They have carried into the army, and kept in the army, the high and honourable feelings which they derive from their fathers, and imbibe from the freedom of the constitution with the very air they breathe. What wonder is it, that an Englishman should be valiant, or humane? is the circumstance so surprising, that we must look for the cause in a cruel and unmanly and beastly punishment ? Away with the absurd and degrading supposition! The acknowledged character of the British army is in itself a conclusive argument, that the infliction of the lash is not to be defended on the ground of necessity or of utility. In justice to that character the practice ought for ever to be abolished. We appeal to the British officers, when we assert that instead of producing any salutary effects, the fact of having been flogged, and the fear of being flogged, has led to treachery in some instances, and to desertion in many.
But the abolition of the practice, it may be urged, would be attended with much inconvenience and much danger. Let us turn, then, from our own, to foreign services. We will content ourselves with instancing the French service. In the French service the punishment of flogging has been abolished without danger and without inconvenience. On the contrary, the change has been accompanied with undeniable and manifest advantages in every point of view. We should be glad of a direct answer to a few simple questions. Are not the French excellent soldiers ? As far as military qualities are concerned, are there better soldiers in the world? Would they be improved by a recurrence to the lash, as the ordinary mode of punishment? We are well convinced, that the morale of any army would be improved by the discontinuance of flogging ; but it is quite sufficient for our argument, that it is not deteriorated. Our opponents have to prove, both that there is a necessity for the system; and that its use confers a real and evident superiority on the service, which employs it.
If we turn from the practice of nations to the opinion of individuals, we have at once that of Buonaparte in our favour-certainly no incompetent judge in military matters. Napoleon was not only a great general, but a man of most acute and comprehensive mind: he was no dreaming theorist, no speculative philanthropist; nor had he in his nature so much of the milk of human kindness as would stop him from using the shortest and most effectual means to preserve discipline among his troops. Napoleon was averse to terror and the lash, not from humanity, but policy; not from a tender regard for his soldiers, but from a knowledge of their feelings and dispositions; and a conviction that he best consulted his own interests, as a commander and a monarch, by acting on another system. We shall quote his words from the late publication of Mr. O'Meara without scruple, as there is no probability that his sentiments upon such a point have been misrepresented or exaggerated. He says in one place, “ I had a conversation with Bingham about it; and although he is of a different opinion, I would alter your system. Instead of the lash, I would lead them by the stimulus of honour.” And afterwards : “ Bingham says, however, that the greatest part of your soldiers are brutes, and must be driven by the stick. But surely, continued he, the English soldiers must be possessed of sentiments sufficient to put them at least on a level with the soldiers of other nations, where the degrading system of the lash is not used. What.. ever debases man cannot be serviceable. Bingham says, that none but the dregs of the canaille voluntarily enter as soldiers. This disgraceful punishment is the cause of it. I would remove it, and make even the situation of a private soldier be considered as conferring honour upon the individual who bore it. I would act as I did in France. I would encourage young men of education, the sons of merchants, gentlemen, and others, to enter as private soldiers, and promote them according to their merits. I would substitute confinement, bread and water, the contempt of his comrades (le mépris de ses camarades,) and such other punishments for the lash. Quando il soldato è avrilito e disonorato colle fruste poco gli preme la gloria o l'onore della sua patria. When a soldier has been debased and dishonoured by stripes, he cares but little for the glory or the honour of his country.' What honour can a man possibly have who is flogged before his comrades? He loses all feeling, and would as soon fight against as for his country, if he were better paid by the opposite party. When the Austrians had possession of Italy, they in vain attempted to make soldiers of the Italians. They either deserted as fast as they raised them; or else, when compelled to advance against an enemy, they ran away on the first fire. It was impossible to keep together a single regiment. When I got Italy, and began to raise soldiers, the Austrians laughed at me, and said that it was in vain; that they had been trying for a long time, and that it was not in the nature of the Italians to fight, or to make good soldiers. Notwithstanding this, I raised many thousands of Italians, who fought with a bravery equal to the French, and did not desert me even in my adversity. What was the cause? I abolished flogging and the stick, which the Austrians had adopted. I promoted those amongst the soldiers who had talents, and made many of them generals. I substituted honour and emulation for terror and the lash.”
We are aware that one plausible objection may be here raised to the discontinuance of flogging in the British service. In our army and navy, it may be said, where a common soldier can only hope to rise to the rank of serjeant, and a common sailor can be little better than a common sailor for life," honour and emulation,” are altogether insufficient for the maintenance of discipline ; and recourse must still be had to a more severe and summary method of proceeding. We answer, that a worse libel on the service than such an argument can hardly be imagined ; and that it is an objection infinitely more formidable to the existence of the system than to the disuse of the lash. The immediate retort will be, It is better to make a sweeping alteration, than-adhere to a system, of which the infamous and debasing punishment of flogging is a necessary concomitant. But we must stop-we are on tender ground.
The truth, however, is that, 'even as things are, this ignominious practice is unnecessary. What then? are severe punishments to be wholly done away? Must there be nothing to correct the offender, and strike a salutary apprehension into his companions? Can honour and emulation and the sense of shame have the requisite degree of force and efficacy among men, taken from the lowest ranks of life; in whom strict principles, delicate feelings, and regular habits, are neither to be found nor expected ? No;