Thursday, December 22, 2011
Cruelty at Sea
This will probably be the last post of 2011—but there will be much more new things to come in the new year!
I was reading a post on the Under the Lash blog (because it’s a private blog I am not giving a link out of respect for the owner) that described a British sea captain who was despised by his officers and crew—and even by a colonial governor—for his “cruelty” in exercising his authority to flog his men:
He was notorious at Auckland, and the governor disapproved of his cruelty to his crew. So Loring did not flog when in port there. Every now and again, when sentences of punishment accumulated, he would go out to sea for a cruise of three or four days, in the Hauraki Gulf, to work off the arrears of flogging in “pace and comfort”.
I quote this for two reasons: Think of it from the perspective of each party, the captain and the crew! Can you imagine having the authority to sentence men to flogging, but letting the number of men with sentences accumulate and then—at your whim—set your ship to sail just for the purpose of disciplining their strong backs? Just order a grating rigged and call a half dozen men every day to writhe in agony under your unquestioned authority!
And the crew: They never have a choice on when the ship is going to leave port. The men with floggings hanging over them dreaded the order to set sail, knowing that it was to get the ship out of port just to carry out punishments. The anticipation itself must have been a form of agony—knowing that you can’t escape punishment, but having to wait for possibly weeks for the day to set sail, and then once at sea being forced to watch as whips whistle down across bare backs, the flogged men bleeding and screaming under the lash, until your name is called to step forward, strip off your shirt, and answer for your crime.
I like to add a touch of my own cruelty to this scenario: If I were the captain, I would ensure that three or four malefactors would each be sentenced for more than one offense, and require them to take the flogging for each transgression separately. This way, they would get to experience the lash, watch other men endure it, and then wait for the next assembly where they would be seized up again. Each such offender would be flogged every day we were out at sea. Imagine the fear in each man’s eyes when the lieutenant calls out his name to have his still-raw back helplessly exposed to another round of lawfully harsh military punishment.
On that note: Happy Holidays from WhippingDudes!