[Francis Galton, Letter to the Editor of The Times, 4 October 1898.]

Corporal Punishment.

To The Editor Of The Times.

Sir, -Permit me as an anthropologist to point out two facts that seem to be overlooked by those who write about corporal punishment. The first is, the worse the criminal the less sensitive he is to pain, the correlation between the bluntness to moral feelings and those of the bodily sensations being very marked. The second relates to the connexion between the force of the blow and the pain it occasions, which do not vary at the same rate, but approximately, according to Weber’s law, four times as heavy a blow only producing about twice as much pain. In a Utopia the business of the Judge would be to confined to sentencing the criminal to so many units of pain in such and such a form, leaving it to anthropologists skilled in that branch of their science to make preliminary experiments and to work out tables to determine the amount of whipping or whatever it may be that would produce the desired results. Really these latter considerations might even now be made the subject of a solid scientific paper of no small interest, but they cannot be more that hinted at in a short letter like this, which has to be written in non-technical language.

Notwithstanding the encouraging example of the late Professor Haughton, F.R.S., who through his writings, based on experiments and calculations, introduced the modern "long drop" and wholly reformed the method of hanging, I rather shrink from subscribing my own name.