History of Punishment & Torture

Punishments of Authors and Books,
page 8 of 8

Of course, for the correction of slaves the whip was in constant use till our Civil War banished slavery and the whipping-post from every state save Maryland and Delaware. This latter-named commonwealth has been much censured for countenancing the continuance of whipping as a punishment. It is, however, stiffly contended by Delaware magistrates that as a restraint over wife-beaters and other cruel and vicious criminals, the whipping post is a distinct success and of marked benefit in its influence in the community. It should also be remembered that these are not the only civilized states to approve of whipping for certain crimes. About thirty years ago, when garroting became so frequent and so greatly feared in England, the whipping-post was reestablished in England, and whipping once more became an authorized punishment.

There was one hard-hearted and unjust use of the whip which was prevalent in London and other English cities in olden times which I wish to recount with abjuration. At the time of public executions parents were wont to whip their children soundly to impress upon them a lesson of horror of the gallows. As trivial offenses, such as stealing anything in value over a shilling, were punishable by death, and capital crimes were over three hundred in number, executions were of deplorable frequency; hence the condition of children at that time was indeed pitiable. Whipped by most illogical parents, whipped by cruel teachers — even Roger Ascham used to “pinch, nip and bob” Queen Elizabeth when she was his pupil — whipped by masters, whipped by mistresses, it would seem that the moral force of the whipping-post for adults must have been very slight, after so many castigory experiences in youth.



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