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tors : as, in all probability, a firm and energetic decision on their part, in the first instance, would have led to other results.”
In consequence of a communication from the Judge Advocate-general dated 31st May last, to the Deputy Judge Advocate, Captain Bailey 36th Regiment, which is inserted on the proceedings, the Court was reconvened by a General Order, dated 16th July, 1824. And, upon a revision of the proceedings, came to the following decision.
Malta, 19th July, 1824. The Court having heard the Defence, and reconsidered its proceedings and former Sentence on this Trial, is of opinion as follows; viz.—
With respect to the First Charge, That he, Lieut. G. F. Dawson, is Guilty of the same.
With respect to the Second Charge, That he is guilty of the same.
With respect to the Additional Charge, that he is Guilty of the first part of the Charge, viz. :
“ Neglect of Duty and Disobedience of orders, in not giving directions to the detachment under his command for firing a salute at Fort St. Angelo on the 9th of August last at noon.”
And with respect to the second and last part of the said Charge, diz. :
“ In being absent from the Cavalier St. Angelo, (in the aforesaid Fort) without leave, when such salute was fired by the said detachment,”
The Court find him guilty only to the extent of being absent, it appearing to the Court not to have been the practice in the Royal Artillery for officers to attend these salutes; and therefore does acquit him of being absent without leuve.
The Court having found the prisoner Guilty of the first and second Charges, and first part of the Additional Charge; and to the extent as set forth regarding the second and last part of the said Additional Charge, exhibited against him, being in breach of the Articles of War:
Does therefore, upon a most mature and deliberate re-consideration of the whole of the circumstances attending this officer's case, Sentence him the prisoner, Lieut. G. F. Dawson, of the royal Artillery, to be dismissed his Majesty's Service.
The Second held at La Valetta, on the 24th day of March, 1824, and subsequent days, and re-assembled for revision on the 21st of July, 1824, for the Trial of Captain Thomas Atchison of the Royal Artillery, who was arraigned upon the undermentioned Charge : viz. - For Disobedience of Orders, insubordinate and unofficer-like con
duct, in not carrying into execution the Orders that were conveyed to him by letter from Acting Adjutant Somerville, on or about the 9th of August last, desiring that he would give directions for firing salutes at Fort St. Angelo, on the 9th and 10th of that month; · And for writing a letter dated the 9th of August, addressed to Major Addams, his Commanding Officer, hesitating and remonstrating against carrying the said orders into effect.
The above conduct being highly subversive of Military Discipline, and holding forth a most dangerous example to the British Army.
Upon which charge the Court came to the following decision :· The Court having most maturely and deliberately weighed and considered the evidence adduced in support of the prosecution, against the prisoner, Captain Thomas Atchison, of the Royal Artillery, as well as what he has offered in his Defence, is of opinion That he is Guilty of the Charge preferred against him.
Being in breach of the Articles of War, does therefore sentence him, the prisoner Captain Thomas Atchison of the Royal Artillery, to be dismissed his Majesty's Service.
The Court, moreover, feels itself called upon to animadvert, in a particular manner, on the conduct of Brevet Major Addams, of the Royal Artillery, throughout; as in all probability the spirit of resistance, as set forth in evidence, might have been checked, and put down in its origin, but for the indecision on the part of that officer, as then commanding the Royal Artillery, stationed at Malta.
In consequence of a communication from the Judge Advocate General, dated the 31st of May last, to the Deputy Judge Advocate, Captain Bayley, 36th Regiment, which is inserted on the proceedings, the Court was reconvened by a General Order, dated the 16th of July, 1824 ; and, upon a revision of the proceedings, came to the following decision ;-viz.
educt of Bobability to, and pu
Malta, 21st July, 1824. The Court having heard the Defence, and reconsidered its proceed. ings and former sentence on this trial, is of opinion as follows; viz.
That the prisoner, Captain Thomas Atchison of the Royal Artillery, is Guilty of the charge preferred against him ; viz.
Disobedience of Orders, insubordinate and unofficer-like conduct, in not carrying into execution the Orders that were conveyed to him, by letter, from Acting Adjutant Somerville, on or about the 9th of August last, desiring that he would give direction for firing salutes at Fort St. Angelo, on the 9th and 10th of that month ;
And for writing a letter, dated the 9th of August, to Major Addams,
his commanding officer, hesitating and remonstrating against carrying the said Orders into effect.
The above conduct being highly subversive of Military discipline, and holding forth a most dangerous example to the British Army.
Being in breach of the Articles of War: Does therefore, on a most attentive reconsideration of the whole of this officer's case, sentence him the prisoner, Captain Thomas Atchison of the Royal Artillery, to be dismissed his Majesty's Service.
I am to acquaint your Lordship, that His Majesty was pleased to approve and confirm the finding and sentence of the Court in both of the above cases.
In conveying to your Lordship His Majesty's approval and confirmation, the King was further pleased to command me to direct that your Lordship will promulgate them to the garrison of Malta with the following observations, which His Majesty has thought fit to make upon the proceedings in both cases : the nature and details of which are so exactly similar, and so closely connected, as to render any distinct notice of each superfluous.
The Court has, in His Majesty's opinion, very properly treated the question, as being simply one of obedience and discipline; and, therefore, confined itself to the consideration of the evidence by which the military charges have been supported and proved, without entering into any of the abstract matter which has been introduced in the Defences made by the prisoners, or the reasoning by which they have attempted to justify the commission of a military offence; which in principle, effect, and ex. ample, would, if suffered to pass with impunity, be subversive of discipline and subordination, and destructive of the character and interests of the army, and of the security of the state.
One of the prisoners, Lieutenant Dawson, in the course of his Defence, states himself “ to be alive as any officer to the paramount duty of subor66 dination to his superiors.” The other, Capt. Atchison, admits, " the “ importance of not suffering any thing to compromise the discipline of “ the army.” And that “ all its character and efficiency to the good 66 of the nation, and all personal comfort and happiness to the individuals 56 who have devoted their lives to it, depend on this one thing, discip“ line." Yet both, while they acknowledge this, plead religious scruples as a sufficient ground for disobedience; and endeavour to maintain this ground, by establishing their own definition of what is legal or illegal; and, by a forced construction of passages from the Scripture, which would, in their opinion, prove them to be, in consequence of obedience to constituted authorities, and to the orders of their responsible superiors, partakers of idolatrous worship.
His Majesty, therefore, considers it necessary to observe, that orders are lawful when issued by authorities legally constituted and competent to give them, responsible to their sovereign and country for their acts, and for the exercise of the authority with which they are invested. That it is the duty of such' authorities to conform to instructions conveyed to them by His Majesty's command; and that the orders issued upon this occasion resulted from general and local considerations closely connected with the interests of the empire at large, and affecting generally the maintenance of peace and harmony in the government of Malta, and the tranquillity thereof. That an act of courtesy observed from these considerations in a colony in which the profession of the Roman Catholic faith is acknowledged and sanctioned by the British government, an act strictly consistent with the respect which has been customarily paid by His Majesty's troops to the Catholic ceremonies in Catholic countries, cannot be viewed as rendering the superior officer, still less the executive officer, a party to worship not recognized by the established religion of the mother country.
The attention shewn to the feelings, habits, and prejudices, of a loyal and well disposed population, subjects of His Majesty, prosessing a different creed, is in fact a civil act prescribed by the policy and general interest of the state, which those intrusted with public duties are bound to support.
To admit that the officer, to whom this duty is confided, shall be at liberty to depart, in so essential a feature, from the principles on which colonies so constituted shall be governed ; or, that the executive officer shall be at liberty to discuss the propriety of the system of government pursued, when he is ordered to execute a duty arising out of it; to oppose his scruples to the orders issued to him ; and, upon that ground, to refuse to obey. them ; would be to encourage, in all ranks and classes, a spirit of opposition and resistance to the legal and constituted authorities, which would very soon subvert the government, and reduce its component parts to a mass of anarchy and disorder. But to no class do these observations apply more decidedly than to the army ; in no ranks would the evil be more seriously felt, or become more pregnant with danger to the state ; for in no other class is the maintenance of order and subordination more essential than in a body of men, who, without discipline, would be degraded into an armed rabble ; formidable only to the country for the service of which it has been raised and embodied, innoxious to an enemy, and wholly undeserving of confidence.
· Such being Ilis Majesty's view of the question, he cannot hesitate in confirming the sentences which dismiss from his service two individuals who, not content with losing sight of the first duty of a soldier, have sought by their conduct and example to establish a doctrine, and a rule of proceeding, irreconcileable with the security and the interests of their country; and, therefore, equally at variance with the true principles of the Christian religion.
Ilis Majesty regrets that he cannot close these observations without noticing, in terms of disapprobation and reproof, the conduct of Lieutenant-colonel Raitt, Deputy Adjutant General, and Major Addams of the Royal Artillery, to which the Court has adverted, “ by lamenting “ that a different line of conduct had not been pursued by both prose“cutors; as, in all probability, a firm and energetic decision on their part, " in the first instance, would have leil to other results.”
Ilis Majesty entirely concurs in the opinion expressed by the Court; for, although a more firm and decided conduct on the part of those officers would not have relieved the prisoners from the charge or the penalty of disobedience of orders, it would have obviated the delay which has unavoidably resulted from their indecision, in bringing the question to issue; and would have tended more promptly, and more effectually, to the support of discipline.
The neglect of Lieutenant-colonel Raitt, upon this occasion, appears the more extraordinary, when contrasted with the manner in which he has treated the offence in his addresses to the Court, which proves him to have been alive to its serious character, and to its banefnl consequences. Yet it would seem, from the evidence of Major Addams, uncontradicted by Lieutenant-colonel Raitt, that when Major Addams resorted to the extraordinary proceeding of ordering another officer to execute the duty prescribed to Lieut. Dawson, without putting the latter under arrest for disobedience of orders, “ he did so by the advice of “ Lieutenant-colonel Raitt.” It also would appear, from the absence of all evidence to that effect, that Lieutenant-colonel Raitt wholly neglected to report immediately to Major-General Sir Manley Power, as the duties of his situation required that he should. bave done, what passed after Sir Manley had directed Major Addams to acquaint Lieutenant Dawson, that if he persisted in resisting the order, “he would do so at his own
The conduct of Major Addams appears to his Majesty yet more extraordinary, and more deserving of censure, as shewn by the evidence. Although in the immediate command of the detachment of Royal Artillery, at Malta, he appears wholly to have forgotten that he was responsible for its discipline. He remaining a passive observer of dis