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The Australasian Medical Gazette, Sydney, January 1884, p.91
Flogging in Sydney.
Two medical gentlemen, from professional reasons, who were present at the administering on Saturday last of the flogging to the four men who so richly deserved it, have given us their impressions. They express the opinion that, the necessity of corporal punishment being admitted, the object of the authorities should be to inflict as great an amount of physical pain, with as little proportionate injury as is possible. They believe this might be best done by causing the lashes to be given with due deliberation, instead of being hurriedly administered as on this occasion, the whole punishment of twenty-five lashes being got through in considerably less time than three minutes.
Were a regulation made that there should be an interval of thirty seconds between each stroke the punishment would be unutterably more severe, without causing any more injury to the man flogged, and with less shock to his nervous system. It would also bear a more just relative proportion to the time during which the prisoners' victim had suffered under the assaults which resulted in their conviction.
On this occasion the whole of the lashes were given by one officer, and towards the end, in consequence of his tired arm, many of the strokes were very feeble. It was most evident that for the proper administration of the punishment two flagellators are necessary, who should give a dozen strokes each, alternately. To those who have witnessed flogging, as formerly practiced in the army and navy, the punishment appeared absurdly lenient, blood having been brought in one case only, and in this but very slightly, whilst in military and naval punishments it generally ran pretty freely. No one can possibly believe that these larrikins deserve greater consideration or less severity than a soldier or sailor punished for drunkenness or insubordination.
They also think that the lashes are administered too much on one spot, and that they should be distributed more generally over the dorsal region, so as to produce more superficial and less deep injury. They suggest that half the punishment to adults should be administered on the buttocks, so that for the next fortnight or so the men flogged, would be in such a state as to prefer standing to sitting, thus advertising their punishment, and be exposed to the ridicule of unsympathising companions. The short term of imprisonment, and their consequent liberation before the effects of the lash have disappeared, is a good thought on the part of the Stipendiary Magistrates who ordered the infliction.
Australian Town and Country Journal, Sydney, 19 January 1884, p.17
Well Deserved Flogging.
The carrying out of the sentences of flogging which were passed last week in the Sydney police courts aroused a tremendous sensation amongst the stamp of humans from which the culprits come. It is doubtless in the hope that such a dreadful punishment as the cat will have a beneficial effect upon those of that class which have not yet come under its immediate application, as well as upon the sufferers themselves, that the law administers the lash. Every scream, every groan, calls forth a responsive twinge from the auditors, some of whom will perhaps take it as a caution for their future conduct.
The law provided that criminals sentenced to be flogged shall receive the punishment privately. The Woolloomooloo watch-house was the spot, and Saturday the day fixed upon, and at half past 11 in the forenoon a large crowd chiefly composed of the larrikin type began to gather in front of the building. A number of constables also sought admission, which was not permitted. By the appointed time the triangle had been fitted up in one of the small yards, and straps properly placed to buckle up the culprits. This implement, which is made of bar iron, and can be adjusted to various sizes, has a cross-bar about half way up to keep the culprit's back well out, and over this was thrown a large blanket. The man who wielded the cat was a stout brawny warder from the gaol.
At 12 o'clock all was ready, and Dr. Egan having arrived, operations were at once commenced. Only a few gentlemen who had obtained orders were present, in addition to the officers of the police. The first candidate for flogging was Magner aged 23, who was stripped to the waist, and secured to the triangle. He received his 25 lashes in about 4½ minutes, each stroke averaging a little over 10 seconds. Mulholland followed and got the same number.
The prisoners bore their punishment with great fortitude, but appeared very weak when it was over, as if they were thoroughly exhausted.
The effect of the lash is fearful. The first blow in each case left a number of parallel pink stripes running from the top of the right shoulder in a diagonal line towards the centre of the back. The second blow deepened the pink to a deep dark red, and blood began to ooze slowly from the skin; the nerves over the whole of the back were quivering and twitching, and as every succeeding blow fell, it was succeeded by a convulsive shudder of the whole body. When the number of strokes had been completed, the backs of the prisoners bore the appearance of bruised raw meat. There can be no doubt that the punishment is a fearful ordeal, and no man, however callous, is likely to commit himself for it a second time.
The next candidate operated on was O'Brien. He was sentenced to 20 lashes, and on the receipt of each stroke of the cat he uttered fearful screams of pain. As the number were laid on, his shrieks grew more terrible till the 13th stroke; they resembled those emanating from a wild beast rather than a human being. Once or twice he showed a disposition to faint, but every stroke to the last brought out a cry from him which could be heard for some distance beyond the walls. At the end of the flogging he was barely able to stand and was given a drop of brandy which revived him a little. These three men were flogged for their brutal assault on the Chinaman Wong Ken, in Campbell-street, last week.
The man James Deane, of Gundagai, who was convicted of indecently assaulting some ladies in George-street, last week, was the last to be flogged. He had been waiting for his turn, and as he came forward, pulling his shirt off, he looked as if he did not much care for what he had to go through. The first stroke, however, he looked as if he had changed his views, and at the fourth stroke he shrieked in agony. Once he struggled madly for freedom, but it was of no use. At the fourteenth stroke he fainted and hung helplessly to the straps for a few moments. When he came to he was told there was one more, an announcement which he received with a groan. After getting the fifteenth he was untied and walked back to the cell. The men's backs were afterwards dressed with ointment.
When the gates of the station were locked at 12 o'clock the crowd retired to the back of the building where every swish of the cat could be plainly heard, and although at first the crowd seemed to have the idea that "it didn't hurt much," still when the men began to cry out, the hushed stillness, and, in some instances, the pale faces would seem to show that they estimated the cat at its true value. There was no sympathy shown for the sufferers, the general verdict being that it served them right.
The three first-named men were to be released on Thursday about 1 o'clock. Deane, who is committed for trial, will spend the intervening time in gaol. It is to be sincerely hoped that the punishments inflicted will deter the culprits from committing such crimes again, and that it will have a like effect upon the whole class of larrikins who disgrace the name of mankind.
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