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-severely punished ; and this is a power which ought not to be trusted, I think, with any man whatsoever, espe. cially as the offender may be immediately confined, and very quickly brought before a court-martial.

What is the end of punisbment, sir ? Not merely resentment or revenge, I hope : Is it not, ought it not always to be inflicted as an example and a terror, for preventing others from being guilty of the like offence ? How can it answer this end, when the offence is not publicly and certainly known ? Is not this always the case, when it is inflicted by the sole arbitrary authority of the colonel, or commander in chief? He may pub: lish his reason for punishing, and he may assign a justifiable reason ; but mankind generally and rightly em: brace the maxim, that every man ought to be presumed innocent till he is proved guilty. The army will therefore reason thus with themselves : if this was the true reason, why was not the man tried by a court-martial? Why was not the fact there proved against him? They will therefore conclude, that the reason assigned was not the true reason ; and they will probably suppose a reason not much to the honour of him who ordered the punishment to be inflicted. Thus, sir, a colonel or commanding officer should, for the sake of his own character, as well as for the sake of example, never order any punishment to be inflicted, especially that of reducing a staff-officer to a centinel, but by the sentence of a court-martial.

Let us consider, sir, that the success of our armies, in time of war depends as much upon the bravery of our common soldiers, as upon the bravery and conduct of our officers; and that it is this alone which makes our troops superior to any equal number of those of France : for without being accused of disrespect, I believe I may say, that the French officers are equal to our own both in conduct and courage. For this reason we should take care not to depreciate that which is the chief incitement to bravery in our common men. What is this incite: ment? An halbert, sir, is almost the only reward, the Vol. I.


highest prcferment, that a common soldier can expect. While this continues dependent upon the mere whim of a colonel, can it be such an enticement as it would be, were a man insured for holding it during life, unless justly deprived of it by a fair trial before a court-martial, for some heinous crime or neglect of duty ?

Besides, sir, I think, that for the safety of the commissioned officers in our army, this power which the colonel has over the staff-officers of his regiment ought to be abridged. Suppose a colonel should conceive a pique against some captain in his regiment, and should bring him to be tried by a court-martial for some pretended military crime, which might affect his honour, if not his life: the witnesses against him would probably be two or three serjeants or corporals of the same regiment; and when they know that they must either swear against the captain accused, or be reduced to private centinels, and obliged to serve for ever after as common soldiers in the regiment, could such a captain depend upon his in. nocence ? Could he expect that the crime would not be fully proved against him?

This is therefore, sir, a power, which may be of the most dangerous consequence to every officer in our army, below the rank of a colonel ; and if we add to this, the power assumed by the commander in chief, to inflict severe punishments by his sole authority, we must admit, that all the staff-officers and soldiers of our army are in a more slavish subjection than this house ought to endure any innocent British subject to be in. For this reason, sir, I have prepared a clause to be added by way of rider to the bill now before you, for providing, that nonon-commissioned officer shall be cashiered or reduced to a private centinel, and that no officer or soldier shall be punished, but by the sentence of a court-martial; therefore I shall conclude with moving for leave to bring it up.

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His Speech on the Mutiny Bill. Mr. Speaker, I hope I have as great a regard to the liberties and properties of the subject as any gentleman in this house ; but I think, that the liberties and properties, and even the religion of the people of this kingdom, depend upon our preserving a strict discipline in our army; and there. fore I shall always be extremely cautious of introducing any new regulation, or abolishing any old custom relating to our army. The power which the colonel has over the serjearts and corporals of his regiment, I mean the power of creating and reducing them

whenever he pleases, is a power coeval with our army ; and while we have an army, I think it is necessary that it should subsist. In advancing a common soldier to be a corporal, or a corporal to be a serjeant, the colonel generally takes the advice of the captain in whose company such serjeant or corporal is wanted ; and a man's knowledge of the exercise, his di.

; ligence in performing his duty, and his bravery, are the qualifications that usually recommend a common soldier to be a corporal, or a corporal a serjeant. But there are likewise other qualifications necessary, and qualifications that cannot be known till a man comes to be tried; therefore both the colonel and captain are often mistaken in their man ; and when they find themselves mistaken, it is absolutely necessary for the good of the service, that the colonel should have an unlimited power to reduce him again to a private centinel. Nay, a captain may find that he has got a very incapable or troublesome serjeant or corporal into his company, and yet it may be impossible for him to make his incapacity or troublesomeness appear by proper proofs, to the satisfaction of a courtmartial.

I must likewise observe, sir, that as bravery, activity, and diligence are necessary for recommending a soldier to the rank of a corporal or serjeant, so it is necessary, that after he is advanced to that rank, he should continue to be as brave, active, and diligent as ever he was before : and yet, when he is advanced to the rank of a serjeant, which is, perhaps, the summit of his desires, or at least of his hopes, he may very naturally grow lazy and indolent, or perhaps in a day of battle take more care of his life than is consistent with his duty. For which reason I think it is necessary for the service, that such officers should always remain under the apprehension of being reduced by their colonel, if they are guilty of the least cowardice, negligence, or misbehaviour.

Whatever notions some gentlemen may have of absolute power, sir, it has been thought necessary in all countries for preserving subordination and discipline in an army,

In the Roman commonwealth, from its very first original ; the generals of their armies had a most ab. solute and unlimited power over every officer and sol. dier in the army. They could not only prefer and reduce, but punish even with death itself, by their sole authority, and without the sentence of any court-martial. The story of Manlius, who put his own son to death for fighting the enemy against his orders, is so well known, that I need not put gentlemen in mind of it. Not only particular men, but whole armies, were among the Romans subject to be punished by the sole and absolute power of their general; for we read hat Appius, in the very infancy of that commonwealth, caused every tenth man in his army to be whipped, for flying from the enemy ; besides punishing, some of the officers with death. And, I believe, there is now no country in the world, where their armies enjoy so much freedom, or so mueh security against being oppressed by their commanders, as both the officers and soldiers of our British army enjoy.

But in this, sir, as in most other things, there is an extreme, there is a ne plus ultra; for if you extend this freedom and security ioo far, you will destroy all discipline and subordination in your army; and i am afraid, that what is now proposed will be running into that extreme, without so much as a pretended necessity : for though this power of reducing staff officers to private centinels has been enjoyed by every colonel in our army time (ut of mind, yet there has never been so much as one complaint of its having been made a bad use of, or applied to any wicked purpose ; and indeed, if it ever be exercised, it is always at the desire of the captain of the company to which the serjeant or corporal belongs, and aiter an examination into the complaints against him; so that the colonel really acts as judge in the affair, and is as good and as impartial a judge as any regimental court-martial can be supposed to be.

As this has always been the practice in our army, sir, I must presume, that the hopes of an halbert will be as great an incitement for common soldiers to behave well, as it could be, were the clause now offered made part

of this bill; for when once they have got an halbert, they are now sure of keeping it as long as they perform their duty ; and surely, no gentleman will desire that they should hold it any lorger. But if this clause should be passed into a law, I am airaid it would have one of these two bad effects: the staff-officers would trust so much to this securi'y, that they would behave negligently; and if courts-martial acted with rigour, more of them would be cashiered or reduced, than ever were so by our colonels : on the other hand, if courts-martial did not act with rigour, and never punished one, unless he was guilty of some heinous crime or egregious neglect, the posts of serjeant or co poral would become a sort of civil employment, and would, I fear, be too often sold to the highest bidder; which would in a short time ren. der our army little better than a common militia.

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