페이지 이미지

hope that this subject would be at. ging has produced evils much greater tended to.

than any good it may have done by Sir Francis Burdett, in making this putting an end to intoxication, and remark, alluded to the circumstance inattention to drills and parades. Its that happened only two days before, moral effects are unquestionably injuof a motion by Mr Bennet, for the rious, whether considered with relaabolition of corporal punishments in tion to the object, or to the witnesses the army, being thrown out without of the punishment. It is, in its naa division, which he seems to have in- ture, independently of its barbarity, troduced on this occasion, lest any dis- to the last degree ignominious and decussion in Parliament should have been grading. The man who suffers it, is, permitted to pass unmingled with to- from that moment, sunk, never to rise pics calculated to excite popular dis- again ; and the depth of his degradacontent. But, however misplaced and tion, and extent of his wretchedness, mistimed the reference to this un- are generally in proportion to the repleasant subject; we do not less agree spectability of his former character. with Sir Francis upon the abstract con- The brave and high-minded soldier, clusion, and only regret that the abo- who, after having spent his blood in lition of this shameful punishment had many a well-fought field, is tied up not been brought forward from a to the halberts, in consequence of quarter not liable to be charged witi some momentary forgetfulness of his that affectation of popularity, which duty, arising perhaps from temptamarks the political conduct of the mem- tions which even in a higher sphere ber for Westminster, and some other it requires no common virtue to withgentlemen. Mr Bennet supported this stand, becomes, from that time, an motion by an able and eloquent altered man. The continued sense speech; in which, however, the argu- of his degradation seizes upon his ments on the general question were mind, and soon reduces it to a level 80 mixed up with censures on indivi- with his situation. The pride and higli dual officers, and remarks on parti- spirit, which made his duty a pleasure, cular regiments, that it is impossible, are gone. Repetitions of his offence in a work of this nature, to extract are followed by repetitions of his puany part of it. The only plca on nishment; till, by this brutalizing prowhich the system of corporal punish- cess, every principle of virtue and homents has been defended, is that of nour is extinguished, and he becomes necessity; such punishments being a debased wretch,-mean, ferocious, held to be absolutely requisite to pre- and profligate. On the spectators of serve the strict discipline which must such scenes the effects are not much be kept up in the army. The sub- more salutary. In the officers, they stance of all the arguments advanced produce either unutterable aversion in the House of Commons on the oc- and horror,-many brave men, who casion alluded to was, that certain could, with unshaken nerves, march regiments, the discipline of which had up to a battery of cannon, being formerly been much relaxed, had been wholly unable to bear the sight of brought into a state of admirable sub- them,—or, if these feelings are overordination by the application of the come by habit, they give place to a lash; and thence it was inferred, by a callous indifference to human suffervery summary process of reasoning, that ing, and even, in some instances, to a such effects could not have been pro- certain pleasure in the exercise of duced by any other means. But we cruelty. As to the men, those who greatly fear, that the system of flog. have witnessed such scenes, describe the appearance of the surrounding ent commanding officers have recircle as full of indignation at the nounced the punishment of the lash, cruelty of the infliction. Every eye and have substituted other modes is burning with resentment, and every of enforcing discipline, more con. tongue seems on the point of impre- genial to the high spirit of a Bricating curses, not loud, but deep, on tish soldier; and the result is, in our the authors of such barbarity. It is apprehension, decisive of the ques. well known, that officers, who, by their tion, as the regiments, so governed, proneness to such punishments, have have been found to be among the best incurred the hatred of their men, in the service. The case appears perhave often, when opportunity offered, fectly analogous to that of the edu. been sacrificed to their vengeance, cation of youth, in which the lash Punishments can never be salutary was, till very lately, held to be a very in their effects, if it is not apparent necessary agent. In the literal and to the spectators that they are justly conscientious application of the sayinflicted, duly proportioned to the ing of Solomon, that "he who spaoffence, and as free as possible from reth the rod hateth the child,” many cruelty. But the punishments in ques- a youth of spirit and talents has had tion produce impressions exactly the his spirit broken, and his talents ren, reverse of all these. While they are dered useless, for life. It has now often inflicted for offences of a venial been found, however, that the proverb kind, they are barbarous in their na- of Solomon is susceptible of a more ture, and more grievous than even liberal interpretation; and the total death itself,--for which, in many in- disappearance of the rods of our pe. stances, they would willingly be ex. dagogues, which were nearly as terri. changed. When it was once attempt. ble as those that of yore frightened ed to revive, in the French army, the the Egyptians in the shape of serpents, old punishment of beating the culprit -is one of the greatest blessings of with the flat of a sabre, a soldier, on be our time. We may add, that the ing brought out to receive this punish- scourge is no longer an instrument of ment, exclaimed, “ Je n'aime du sabre punishment in our judicial sentences. que le tranchant !” A phrase which be- An improvement of manners and feelcame proverbial in the army, and con- ing, without any special legal enacttributed to the abolition of that pu- ment, has occasioned its falling into nishment. Is it, then, possible to very general disuse, though once the justify punishments so shocking in comu on punishment for petty of their character, and baneful in their fences. li is fervently to be hoped, effects, on the ground of necessity ? that the cat-o-nine-tails, both naval Is there no geniler way than this, of and military, will soon disappear in preserving order and discipline among like manner; and we have no appreour gallant soldiers ? Corporal pu- hension that means will not still be nishments have been abolished in the found to preserve the good order and French army, the Prussian army, the discipline of our soldiers, Austrian army; in short, in every army

On the 29th of June, it was moved, in Europe but our own. Is this, be- and unanimously agreed to, that an cause the British troops are more address should be presented to the prone to disorder, or more insensible Prince Regent, that he might give to the more liberal incitements to directions that a great national monu. duty, than those of other nations ? ment should be erected in honour of But the experiment has been tried, the victory of Waterloo, and to comeven in the British army. Differ• memorate the fame of those who fell on the 16th and 18th June, particu- sustained in the death of so many va. Jarly Sir Thomas Picton and Sir W. lued friends. The glory of such acPonsonby. It was, besides, suggested tions is no consolation to me, and I and agreed to, that monuments should cannot suggest it as a consolation to be erected to each of those officers in you; but a result so decisive will, in St Paul's Church. It is melancholy all probability, be followed by the lo reflect, that, in the case of the gal- early attainment of the just object of lant Picton, these honours came too our wishes and exertions, and this late to cure the anguish of a wounded may afford us some consolation for spirit. It was stated in the House, our loss." that nearly the last words which he A suggestion was made, but most uttered before he left this country, properly rejected, that as Paris was, were to express a hope, that if he in all probability, by that time in should fall

, which he seemed to anti. the possession of Wellington, a por. cipate, he might not be forgotten, but tion of the plunder of Burope, colreceive the same distinction as had lected in that capital, could not be been conferred upon other officers. better employed than in comme When it is recollected how marked morating the deliverance of Europe. was the neglect of the former services It was said, that a national monuof this gallant officer, when honours ment to our army ought never to and rewards were showered down on be ornamented by pillage from the all the others who shared in those capital of another country; and that services, it may easily be imagined, the conduct of our illustrious comhow bitter were the feelings which mander was a powerful authority wrung from him such an expression. against such a proposition. When From the moment that he left this he was reminded, while advancing country till he joined the army, he into France after his victory, that, on had never slept in a bed. On the the last occasion on which the Engday before the great conflict of the lish army entered France, they be18th, he had received a wound, from haved with extreme delicacy towards the effects of which his body, it is said, that country, his answer was, “ I was much swelled, and even blacken- promise you that, if it is in my power, ed. Notwithstanding this, he fell at the they shall behave with equal delicacy head of his column, firmly maintain- now;" a magnanimous declaration, ing a position, the loss of which might which did as much honour to the have been fatal to our army. It would man as to the soldier. be painful to think that his last mo- Proceedings of precisely the same ments may have been embittered by nature took place in the House of the doubt, whether he had purchased, Lords. even with his blood, those marks of Several high honours and importpublic gratitude, which are so dear to ant privileges were conferred on the the mind of a soldier.-In revolving troops who fought at Waterloo. The these great national deprivations, it Prince Regent declared himself colois impossible to avoid quoting the ex- nel-in-chief of both the regiments of pressions of the Duke of Wellington Life-guards, as a mark of his full himself to the Earl of Aberdeen, con- approbation of their conduct; and he doling with him upon the death of granted permission to all the regihis gallant brother, Sir Alexander ments of cavalry and infantry who Gordon. “I cannot express, in ade- had been engaged in the battle, to quate terms, the grief which I feel in bear on their colours and appointcontemplating the loss which we have ments the word “ WATERLOO," in


addition to the badges or devices this immense subscription has been which they formerly bore. The Earl intrusted, appear to be employing it of Uxbridge was created Marquis of in the most judicious and beneficial Anglesea; and a very extensive pro- manner. They have adopted, as far motion took place of the officers who as possible, the mode of granting anhad been engaged. Besides these nuities. Besides annuities for life to honours, several valuable privileges the widows of the killed, and to solwere conferred both on the officers diers disabled by the loss of limbs, anand men. Every subaltern officer nuities are granted for limited periods, who served in the battle of Water- not only for the maintenance of the leo, or in any of the actions which orphan-children, but adequate to afimmediately preceded it, was allowed ford them an education suited to their to account two years service in virtue different situations in life.

In cases of that victory, in reckoning his ser- where annuities were not applicable, vices for increase of pay given to donations of money have been given lieutenants of seven years standing to the wounded officers and soldiers, It was also ordered, that every non- and to the parents, and other depend. commissioned officer and private who ent relatives of the killed, who have served in these battles should be borne left no children. The sum invested upon the muster-rolls of their corps in annuities down to the 31st May,

“ Waterloo men;" and that every 1817, amounts to 20,992. ; and the Waterloo man should be allowed to donations amount to 162,2031.* The count two years in virtue of that vic- gentlemen employed in this most betory, in reckoning his services for in- nevolent work are busily continuing crease of pay, or for pension when their labours ; and we are well wardischarged.

ranted in believing, from what we But the most splendid and substan- have seen, that the magnificent fund tial monument of national gratitude in their hands will produce its full to the deliverers of Europe, was the measure of benefit. Such a statement subscription for the relief of the as this requires no commentary. Hapwounded, and of the relatives of those py the nation, who, in her time of who fell at Waterloo. It was set on need, can rely on such troops as those foot immediately after the battle, and who fought at Waterloo ! and happy was eagerly entered into by all classes the troops whose services are so muof the community, from the prince tonificently rewarded by a grateful the peasant. The inhabitants of the country! Who will, after this, talk of most obscure villages, and of the most the hard fate of a soldier, who falls, remote districts, contributed sums al among thousands like himself, unpitied most incredible, when contrasted with and unknown, to swell the triumph of the circumstances of the contribu- some great commander ? The Duke tors; as an instance of which, it is of Wellington, in a circle of princes worthy of being recorded, that the and nobles, is not greater than the poor inhabitants of the small parish humblest Waterloo man, who, in the of Morven, in the West Highlands, midst of an admiring throng of his old subscribed the sum of twenty-four rustic friends, shews his scars, and pounds. The sum received amounts tells how the field was won. The to above half a million sterling ; and meanest soldier who fell, receives in those to whom the management of the persons of his dearest relatives,

* See Report of the Committee, dated June 18th, 1817.

the most substantial tokens of his of service before he can be promoted. country's gratitude; and the disabled It was also admitted, that the excelveteran, who is placed, while he lives, lence of the present system of military beyond the reach of want or distress, tactics is to be attributed to the duke. will receive with pride the bounty of Our readers, who have followed us his country, as the reward for his ex. through the details of the splendid ploits and sufferings at Waterloo. The achievements of our troops, under sword is now in the scabbard, where, the Duke of Wellington, cannot fail we hope and trust, it will long conti- to be struck with the rapidity and nue; but when the day again shall precision, with which they appear to come, as come it must, when Britain have executed the most complicated must array herself to resist foreign movements, and with the confidence aggression or injustice, her soldiers with which these movements were will march to the field with redoubled ordered, when there was hardly an inenergy, when they remember the ho- stant to execute them-circumstances nours and rewards which were shower. which prove the tactics of our army to ed on the heroes of Waterloo.

be of the highest excellence. The On the 4th of July, Sir John Mar. motion, however, was objected to, on joribanks moved a vote of thanks to the grounds, that it ought not to have the Duke of York, for his conduct as been brought forward till the close commander-in-chief of the army. This of the services in which the army was motion produced a long discussion, engaged ; and, besides, that it was arising from several objections, not unconstitutional, in consequence of one of which, however, had the slight- the individual in question uniting the est reference to any doubt as to the character of a member of the royal claims of the duke to the gratitude of family, and that of the commander of the country for his services as com. the forces.--Mr Whitbread, after ex. mander-in-chief. In the greatness of pressing his concurrence, in some dethose services all parties agreed. It gree, in these objections, said, that was universally admitted, that the still looking to the compliments duke performed the duties of an which had been paid to the Duke of arduous office with unremitting zeal York-compliments, the result, not and assiduity, and that it was by a of partiality, but of conviction, he course of great exertion on his part, conceived the House ought to agree that the British army had attained a to the resolution. When it was recol. degree of discipline, and of organiza. lected, that, by the excellence of the tion, which bad contributed, in a system which had been matured by great measure, to the late glorious the Duke of York, a number of troops results. When the duke was placed were enabled to act together, who at the head of the army, the system had never before been employed in of military promotion was unfair and an united operation, no person could unequal. Mere interest could effect deny his royal bighness praise ; and, the most rapid promotion; and boys admitting praise to be due, it would frequently were to be seen in the be rather extraordinary, when the command of regiments. The Duke question came before them, to say, of York put an end to this system; that, on account of any collateral cirand introduced the present whole- cumstances, it ought to be withheld.” some regulations, by which every of- The resolution was carried without a ficer, whatever bis connections may 'division. be, must go through a certain course

« 이전계속 »