In the Articles of War established for the government of the English Navy, in Art. 32, after providing with respect to this offence [sodomy] and other species of impurity that they “shall be punished with death” it is added without mercy. […] Of all the offences of which a man in the maritime service can be guilty, burning a fleet, betraying it to the enemy and so forth, this is the only one which it was thought proper to exclude from mercy. The safety of the fleet and of the Empire were in the eyes of the legislator objects of inferior account in comparison with the preservation of a sailor’s chastity.

Offences against One’s Self by Jeremy Bentham (c. 1785) The passage above is from the section of notes for the essay.

(No offence intended to modern sailors of any leaning.  Note, the essay is entirely concerned with the suggested decriminalisation of homosexual acts a very long time ago – and has nothing to do with children, its subtitle not withstanding.)

This article was filed under * My Recordings, Non-Fiction, Quotes from Books.

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