Matthew, P. The greatest national evil. Farmer’s Magazine, Ser. 3 Vol 20 (1861, Jul-Dec), p.406-7
(Article dated Sept 26)
Matthew starts by reproducing an article titled “Tenant-right” originally published anonymously in the Mark Lane Express. I have not yet found the original. Matthew states the article was published “several years ago”. In his previous article “National Prospects” in the Farmer’s Magazine he states that an article on the same subject was published in the Mark Lane Express “several months ago”. The reason for this time discrepancy is unknown. Given that he wrote several articles on this subject, it may simply be that he is referring to different articles.
It is interesting to note that Matthew used the anonymous signature “A.O.C” in his Mark Lane Express piece. If may be that Matthew tended to write more anonymously prior to 1860, and this may be one reason why very few pre-1860 articles have come to light.
Matthew likens the British system on land tenancy to “agricultural slavery”, and notes that such a system is “inconsistent with free trade with foreign countries”. He continues:
“Herein consists the great national evil – capital, skill, and industry, rather than submit to landlord slavery and plunder, will turn to other occupations, or emigrate to other lands to enrich them, instead of remaining at home and enriching our own country. This, in the case of several of the writer’s sons, has taken place. The present law and practice, as regards farmers’ property laid out on land, is in the highest degree unpatriotic – is high treason, is sacrilege against British freedom, against British freedom to improve.”
Reinforcing the view that Matthew saw design in the workings of the world, note the following regarding the purpose of evil: “Philosophically considered, evil exists only as necessary to, and to be made productive of good.”