Letters to the editors of Victorian newspapers are often fascinating insights into the minds of our 19th century forebears. This one, from 1842, caught my attention – from the self-titled Flagellator (whose name should give you an immediate indication of his interests), he argued that frequent flogging was the way to deal with pretty much all offenders.
It’s also interesting as it sheds light on Victorian debates surrounding the execution of criminals. Here, for your delectation, is a letter from the Flagellator of Victorian England.
“Punishment of Flogging. To the editor of The Times. Sir: I most cordially agree with your article in this day’s Times relative to the punishment of flogging for various offences.
“It is true that there are many mawkish and morbid persons who cannot bear to hear, or see, or think, of punishments; but, as prevention of crime is the object of punishment, I should most strongly advocate frequent flogging during the period of imprisonment, which would check many crimes, and pickpocketing in particular.
“Indeed, though I should be sorry that hanging be abolished, yet, if the morbid and canting part of the world would not object, I should almost be inclined to stop hanging, provided even the convicted murderer should be kept to hard labour, and be flogged well once a month as long as he lied.
“This would effectually prevent all crimes, for men could not bear such constant inflictions. Till this is agreed on, hanging must be continued.” FLAGELLATOR, July 5.
From The Times, 7 July 1842