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offence is committed, what must be done with colonial delinquents, what with those who may be dexterous enough to conceal their frauds for years, and what with libellers, whom it might be inexpedient or dangerous to try while the public mind is yet in a state of ferment produced by the very libel for which punishment is to be inflicted 2 The bill, in short, even if its principle had been good, was altogether defective in its provisions; while the changes which it did propose were highly absurd and mischievous.—The bill was thrown out by a very large majority. The employment of foreigners in the British service had occasioned much clamour, and had furnished an excellent topic for the tribe of libellers, now so numerous in the metropolis.-The various acts by which the crown is empowered, under certain limitations, to avail itself of the assistance of foreigners, were severely reprobated; and it was strongly insinuated, that, dangerous as were the powers conferred by these statutes to the liberties of the country, the ministers had contrived to exceed them, and had thus very grossly betrayed their high trust. Declamations on this subject were well suited to the taste . the lower orders, who were carefully reminded of the jealousy which, at an early period, had been entertained against foreigners, and of the dangerous attempts upon the liberties # the people, of which strangers had been made the instruments. The authors of such inflammatory discourses were either unable or unwilling to make the proper distinction betwixt the past and present condition of England; they forgot, or concealed the fact, that, in ancient times, the sovereign possessed an authority almost despotic; that he was continually attempting encroachments on - the slender privileges which had been extorted from his predecessors;
that, as he often possessed extensive territories abroad, where the notions of civil liberty were little understood, the best instruments which he could employ for the purposes of tyranny, were foreigners, whom his independent revenue, not then subject to the controul of parliament, might enable him to take into pay. How great has been the change in all these particulars, every one must be satisfied who is capable of the slightest reflection. The government is no longer a despotism as in former times; the king, whatever interest a bad prince might suppose himself to have in secret attacks on national liberty, will no longer dare to make such encroachments by violence; the revenue which supports the very considerable military establishment of England, is not hereditary to the sovereign, but is annually controuled by parliament; and, above all, the army is so numerous, and the proportion of British soldiers in it so great, that a small admixture of foreigners can never excite alarm for the liberties of the country, but in the minds of the most fanatical politicians.—The population of the British empire is much more limited than that of her most powerful neighbours; and, although it might justly excite alarm were the military spirit of the English, so much reduced, that the ranks of their army were filled by foreigners in very large numbers, there seems not to be any reason, in the present circumstances of the world, for adhering to a system of utter exclusion. The enemies of England were, at this very moment, fighting her, not with their own population alone, but with the assistance of almost all the other states of Europe; and, if among the people of those conquered countries, some were to be found too high-minded to bend their necks under the yoke of oppression, would it not have been absurd in the British government to have refused that aid which they willingly proffered, and of which the empire and Europe stood at this time so much in need —Such were the considerations which led to the passing of the acts of the 36th, 39th, 40th, and 46th, of the king, by which the employment of foreigners in the British service is regulated; and, when their provisions are well understood, they will not only appear to be founded in a wise policy, but to have been faithfully executed by the ministers of the crown.
Such, however, was not the opinion of some members of opposition; and Lord Folkestone, with the view of founding charges against the government, moved in the House .# Commons for a return of all foreigners ...; in the army, with the exception of those serving in foreign corps. —The employment of foreigners in the British army was said to be unconstitutional, and had been considered as unlawful, until special statutes were made, authorising his majesty, under certain limitations, to take them into British pay. That there seems to have been at all times a desire on the part of government to introduce foreign soldiers into England; that ministers had, on a former occasion, been indemnified for bringing no less than 16,000 of them into this country; and it was not improbable, that, if circumstances should occur to render it expedient to withdraw the foreign troops then in the British service from the places where they were stationed, another bill would be proposed to indemnify ministers for bringing in a much larger number. That this is an alarming consideration to all those who are concerned about the liberties of their country; that the act of the 36th of the king, did not justify the employing foreign soldiers, except in foreign corps, and did not warrant the appointment of German generals to British regiments; yet instances of this kind
had lately occurred. That a practice had also creptin of admitting foreigners into our own native corps, a practice which outraged the best feelings of the country, and which, in cases where the interference of the military might be required to suppress disorders in the interior, exposed the persons and liberties of the people to the mercy of men who have no sympathies and no feelings in common with them. Reference was made to the terms of Magna Charta, and to some transactions in the reigns of Elizabeth and Charles the . First, from which it appeared, that the strongest jealousy of foreigners had been entertained and acted upon by the government and the people; and it was added, that however perilous the situation of the country might be, it was better to trust to the constitution and to the native energies of the people, than to the mercenary soldiers of other countries, which had been conquered almost without a struggle, because the people had exhibited neither valour nor patriotism in defence of their independence. It was maintained on the other side, that all discussion and enquiry must be superfluous in this instance, since the subject had been already, on various occasions, under the consideration of the legislature, and solemnly determined—That no inference could be safely drawn from periods of English history, which bore little resemblance to the present; and that every thing which had been done by government was amply justified by the statute 46th of the king, the provisions of which had altogether escaped the supporters of the motion. By this statute, it was enacted, that it should be lawful to admit into the British service such foreigners as should be desirous to enlist; and a power was also given to grant commissions and letters of service to foreign officers and engineers. It followed, from this enact
ment, that if such persons should distinguish themselves, they might be promoted according to their deserts, a principle which could not be abandoned without the grossest injustice. —That the foreigners admitted into the British service could never exceed the number of 16,000; and of these a large proportion were employed abroad; that when this number was compared with the aggregate amount of the whole British army, it seemed quite whimsical to talk of danger to the liberties of the people; that, at all events, as the law stood, the ministers were perfectly justified in what they had done to † its provisions; and if the act itself were really considered to be dangerous or impolitic, the proper course would be to move for its repeal, and not to throw an unjust censure on those who had done their duty by executing it, so long as it continued to be a part of the law of the land.—The motion was negatived without a division. The subject of corporal punishment in the army, a subject of great delicacy and deep interest, was twice brought forward in the course of this session; in the first instance by Sir Francis Burdett, on the third reading of the mutiny bill; and again by Mr Bennet, in a specific motion for official returns, to shew the frequency of its infliction. That the practice of flogging soldiers is disagreeable and disgusting to all who are connected with the army, and that the continuance of such a punishment is an evil which nothing but extreme necessity can justify, were freely admitted on all sides; and upon this, as on many other occasions, much of the declamation of the reformers might have been spared, since it was exhausted on topics on which there was no difference
punishment of flogging is both severe and degrading, would have been admitted by all, even without those unnecessary exaggerations in which Sir Francis Burdett is apt to indulge ; and the only question, therefore, on which the parties were at issue, was a question not of declamation, but of reasoning, which might well have been referred to the understanding, without any aid from the passions. It was simply this: Whether, from the known habits of soldiers, it would be possible to preserve discipline without a punishment of this character and severity; and whether any other punishment could be devised of equal efficacy, and less repugnant to the feelings of humanity ? Sir Francis Burdett, however, and his friends, said very little on this topic; they disdained to think or talk oany substitute for a punishment which they contemplated with abhorrence; they declaimed at great length on points about which there could be no dispute, and repeated all the stories respecting the practice of flogging, which their zeal and industry had enabled them to collect. They did not care much for examining the authority on which such stories were circulated; it was enough that they were such as to raise a strong feeling of disgust in the mind of the hearer, and to impress a general belief that the British army is governed by a tyranny more fierce and capricious than has ever before existed in the world. Every man who sincerely wishes to see the punishment of flogging abolished, or who is desirous to have it put under such regulations as may alleviate the sufferings of the soldier, must regret, that a question so delicate, with reference to the discipline of the army and the stability of government, and, above all, so interesting to humanity, should have fallen into the hands of Sir Francis Burdett, the warmth of whose feelings so frequently overpowers the higher faculties of his mind.—He began, by stating, that he was about to deliver his sentiments on the practice of “flogging,”—for he did not choose to denominate the punishment by a circumlocution, and to call it “corporal punishment,” as those persons are accustomed to do who are ashamed to give it its proper name, although they are not ashamed to defend and practise it :—That any other punishment, short of death, might be inflicted with much greater advantage than that of flogging ; and even death itself would be to many less severe :-That the pumishment of flogging is stamped with peculiar infamy by the civil law of the land, which places those who have suffered it on a footing with persons who have been convicted of the most disgraceful crimes, and considers them as so infamous that they are unfit for the discharge of the most important functions of citizens:—How the practice 9f flogging had first been introduced into the army, it is difficult to ascertain; but, like all other bad punishments, it had gradually become more and more severe, till at last it was carried to extremities at which humanity shudders: That the practice, however, is not ancient ; since, in the time of Henry the Eighth and Elizabeth, military offences were tried by the same tribunals, and were punished in the same manner with other offences:— That it had formerly been usual to dismiss delinquents from the service as a disgrace; but this is no longer done, since it is considered as an advantage to get out of the army. Parliament had been told, that the punishment of flogging was now less frequently inflicted; and, in proof of this, a list had been laid before the house of the punishments awarded by general courts-martial; but there was no proof that flogging had not been frequently inflicted by regimental courts-martial, of whose proceedings no accounts had
been presented:—That even if it were impossible to dispense altogether with the punishment, its infliction ought to be regulated, and the offences on which it may be visited ought to be pointed out with precision: That it ought never to be inflicted in the army except for crimes, which, by the civil law, would bring on the offender the same suffering and ignominy :-That so degrading a punishment ought not to be inflicted upon men who have so lately astonished the whole world by their valour: That the best regiments in the service are those in which flogging has been discontinued: That much might be done towards rendering it unnecessary by the care of the officers to check oftences on their first appearance; and, above all, that the British soldier ought to be encouraged by high rewards, rather than intimidated by cruel punishments :Even the punishment of death would be attended with this advantage over flogging, that men would not condemn their fellow-creatures to the loss of life on light and insufficient grounds; whereas they may often condemn a man to be lashed without giving his case the grave consideration which it merits:—That it is singularly barbarous to continue the flogging, as is of. ten done, from time to time; and that the amount and degree of the punish
ment frequently depend on the ca
price of the commanding officer, or the officers composing the court martial ; —that it is an insult on the army to say that this punishment cannot be dispensed with: That the loss of men, which would be sustained by the more frequent infliction of capital punishments, is far more than compensated by the horror which the practice of flogging, diffuses throughout the country, to the great prejudice of the recruiting service:—That the regiment of his royal highness the Duke of Gloucester, which is one of the fi
nest in the service, although the practice of flogging has been for sometime abolished in it, affords a practical refutation of the arguments urged against the proposed alteration of the law; and that many excellent officers, such as Generals Stewart, Money, Sir Robert Wilson, and Lords Moira and Hutchinson, all men of great experience, had expressed their marked disapprobation of this mode of punishIment. The members who spoke on the other side, were anxious to confine themselves to the topics more immediately connected with the question before the house, as they justly conceived that the extreme delicacy of the subject called for more than usual circumspection.—It was well observed that an appeal had been made to the hearts rather than to the understandings of members; to their passions rather than their reason. That however conscientious the motives of the honourable baronet, there was no reproach which the British army would repel with more disgust and impatience, than the description which he had been pleased to give of the situation of the soldier. What I was it true that a British soldier was subject only to punishment? Was he entitled to no reward 2 Was he in a worse state than an African slave 2 There were no assertions so untrue, nor so much calculated to incense the feelings of the British army. Opinions had been haZarded not founded on any enquiry. It had been said, that no soldier who underwent corporal punishment could over raise his head again among his friends and companions; but it would be found, that in many regiments soldiers who had suffered proper corporal correction, so far from having become worthless, had afterwards conducted themselves in a most exemplary man-' her. That the hon, baronet was not justified in coming down to the house,
and, uninformed as he was, broadly stating, that punishment was invariably followed by the self-abandonment of the soldier on whom it had been inflicted.—Nothing could be more ridiculous than to suppose, that after the house had read, for the third time, a bill, which recited corporal punishment as intimately connected with its provisions, they would agree to tack to it a clause, by which cor.
oral punishments o be wholly abolished.—That the statements made relative to punishments actually inflicted, had been grossly exaggerated. That it was necessary to confide in the discretion of the courts-martial; that the best security the soldier could have was in the humanity of his superiors; as it was owing to that highminded and liberal feeling which guided the conduct of officers, that the condition of the men had been so much improved.—In foreign armies, where corporal punishment was not inflicted, there existed what was still more degrading to the men—a system of wanton and capricious ill-usage.—Trial by courts-martial was governed by the strict principles of justice, and therefore could not be said to destroy the energies of the men; and corporal punishment was not coeval with the present war, as had been asserted, but had always existed when the army was called into action.—The soldiers in our service had great rewards to look up to ; not only might they rise to be non-commissioned officers, and afterwards be advanced to the rank of ensigns, but they might even rise from the ranks to be generals; and, instead of being in a miserable condition, were better paid, clothed, and attended to, than the soldiers of any other country in the world.—That the continuance of corporal punishment was a necessary evil; and although the dissemination of truth was not dreaded, the misrepresentations that had been o