THE PEACE PRESERVATION ACT IN IRELAND
The first arrest under the Peace Preservation (Ireland) Act was made at Dundalk, County Louth on a Tuesday evening lately, when a Mr. John Matthews, printer and news vendor of that town, was taken into custody by three police constables on a charge of having on that day “sold a printed pamphlet entitled the farmers catechism, containing diverse of seditious and treasonable words and sentences”. Constable McKee deposed to having purchased a copy of the pamphlet in question at Mr. Matthews’ shop. The prisoner declined to state whence he obtained the pamphlet, and was remanded to enable the authorities be consulted with, bail for his appearance being taken.
The following is a complete copy of the publication referred to, which for some time past has been largely circulated in the different market towns of Ireland: --
What is your name? Oppression.
Who gave you this name? My landlord and agent in the days of my youth, wherein I was made a child of toil, a man of sorrow, and inheritor of a bundle of rags.
What did your landlord and agent then do for you? -- They did promise and vow three things in my name – first, that I should renounce all the comforts of this life, and all the pleasures founde therein; secondly, that I should be a hewer of wood and drawer of water; and thirdly that I shall be a slave for them all the days of my life.
Dost thou not think that thou art bound to believe and to do as they imposed upon you? -- No, verily, and by God's help I will endeavor to shake off the chains by which I am bound, better my condition, and continue in the same until my life's end.
Rehearse the articles of belief. -- I believe that God is no respecter of persons and that he is King of Kings and Lord of Lords; and that he created all things for the good of man, and that every man should enjoy the fruits of his labor; for the labourer is worthy of his hire. I also believe that I do not enjoy the fruits of my labour, for I am compelled to give it to men who reap they do not sow, and gather where they have not strewn, who are better known in the banqueting-hall, the foreign clubhouse, or on the betting-field then in the school of industry or among their honest, care-worn tenantry, save when the corn is ripe. I also believe that I am not able to pay my rent from the produce of my farm, and that the pomp and vanity of these men who, like birds of passage, leave when they get the last grain of corn; men who live in ease and indolence rolling about in purple and fine linen and faring sumptuously every day on the toil and sweat of their fellow creatures, and reveling on the bread of idleness, have reached its highest climax, and that it is full-time they should be brought to know and feel that the stalwart farmers are the bone and sinew of the land, and that they will longer endure or submit to the burdens heaped on them by a class of extravagant landlords, who are the chief cause of the grievances of this country. I believe in the fall of rents and lowering of taxes, the suppression of crime, and the emancipation of all slaves.
What does thou chiefly learn in these articles of a belief? – First, I learn that justice demands such a state of things to cease, that rents must fall, and the tenant-right must be carried, to the satisfaction of the people, no matter what the Government rules, or who wields the scepter; and secondly that honest independent men must be sent out to value the land, at a fair price laid on according to quality; and that no lands must exceed 25s per acre no matter what quality; for according to the terms of the Ulster plantation, landlords are not entitled to benefits arising from the improvements of the soil, as all is owing to the labour of the industrious farmer; and further, that proper security must be given to the tenant farmer that he or his heirs cannot be removed so long as they pay their rents, and conduct themselves as becometh honest, peaceful members of society; and thirdly that all classes will go hand in hand and stand shoulder to shoulder in this legal warfare, and never give up till they bring Landlord and tenant on a closer equality, and, if needs be, stand their opponents to the face in the hour of battle, for he who would not fight for his bread would not fight for his Sovereign.
You said that your landlord and agent did bind you to keep all their laws and commandments. Tell me how many there be? Ten.
Which be they? -- The same which they spake in their office when they brought me out of the land of peace into the land of bondage.
1st Commandment -- Thou shalt have no tenant right.
2 -- though shalt not make to thyself any changes on the farm, nor buy nor sell, without our consent, nor complain against us for rearing game thereon for our own amusement on coursing days, nor keep dog, nor gun, nor cat, to disturb in any way no matter what damage thou mayst sustain thereby; thou shalt bow down and pay obeisance unto us, for we are thy landlords and jealous ones, who visit thee and thy children with heavy rents, notices and ejectment processes, if thou disobey us or neglect to pay thy rents.
3 -- Thou shalt not take the name of the landlord nor agent in vain, nor speak lightly of us, no matter what we do, for we will not hold them guiltless who take our name in vain.
4th -- Remember that thou art a tenant at will; 365 days shalt thou labor and do all that thou has to do; but on the first day of November each year is our rent day, in which thou shalt do no manner of work till you reach your office and pay us the uttermost farthing.
5th -- Honour thy landlord and the agent with hat in hand, and be punctual in your payments, so that thy days may be long in the farm which we give unto thee.
6th -- Thou shalt not kill any of our game.
7th -- Thou shalt not commit thyself by violating any of our imperative commands, even to the obeying of our wippers in or bailiffs.
8th -- Thou shalt not cut down or remove any of our trees or turbary, no matter what your wants may be, or how they inconvenience you, for all that grows thereon is ours, no matter who planteth it.
9th -- Thou shalt not murmur or complain against us, or expose our misgivings in courts of law or through the public press, but endure with all patience forebearance, and long-suffering, so that thou mayst be called a profitable servant.
10th -- Thou shalt not covet thy landlord's house, thou shalt not covet thy landlord's wife, nor his servants, nor his maids, nor his oxen, nor his asses, nor anything that is his, though all is supported and procured by the toil and sweat of his tenantry.
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