Source: Digger Tracts, 1649-50, published by John the Red Nose, Seattle?, 1996
(Copy provided by Mikke Sennekke and Richard Schneider)
CAST INTO THE
Queries propounded (for all men to
consider of) by him who desireth
to advance the work of public
1. Whether all men (by the grant of God) are not alike free, and all to enjoy the earth with the fullness thereof alike, (Genesis 1. from the 26. verse, to the end of the chapter, and the 9. chap. from the 1. to the 18. verse,) until they sell their birth-right and Inheritance, for a proud idle life: the 2. of the Thessalonians, and the 3. chapter, from the 6. to the 13. verse?
2. Whether the Scriptures in many places, do not complain of man's Lording over his own kind, (as in Isaiah 3. 15. Luke 22.24.25. and 26. verses. Matt. 23. chap. from the first to the 13. verse,) calling such men for their nature and cruelty, Lions, Wolves, Foxes, Dogs, (Isaiah 56.10.11. Ezek. 22.27. The men call some of them, Lords of Manors, ministers, and lawyers?)
3. Whether particular propriety, was not brought into the room of public community, by murder and theft; and accordingly have been upheld and maintained? In which acts of cruelty, whether those devouring creatures before mentioned, have not been chief, and whether such naked shameless doings do not lie lurking under fig-leaf clothing, such as Sabbath, fasting, and thanksgiving days, doctrines, forms, and worships?
4. Whether the Lords of Manors, do not hold their right and title to the commons, merely from the King's will, (which will proving a burden to the Nation, caused the King to lose his head) and whether the strongest point in their Law for the keeping up their title, be not, Take him jailor?
5. Whether the common people of England may not seize upon the land, [which] is called after their own name, to wit, the commons, for to dress and improve it for their best advantage; for these Reasons following, without paying fines, quit-rents, heriots, or swearing fealty, (or any other cursed and diabolical payments whatsoever) to any tyrant soever?
First, Because the great Creator of all things, ordained that the earth, with [the fulln]ess thereof should be a common treasury of livelihood for all, and that none should lord over his own kind; but that all should love as brethren, and so glorify the Creator in the work of his hands.
Secondly, Because the common people of England, have (these six or seven hundred years) been shut out from having any benefit of the earth, except that they have bought by their slavish payments. And all this by & through the means of that illegitimate Lord and Master propriety, which was ushered into the creation, by those two grand disturbers of our peace, murder and theft; and therefore now it is high time for them (the common people) to lay hold upon the waste land, that so they may receive some benefit freely, and may no longer live in a starving condition: and this cannot with reason be denied by the gentry and clergy, if they consider what cruelty they have acted towards fellow-creatures these many years, who have a privilege to the earth equal with themselves.
Thirdly, Because there is no Statute-Law in the Nation that doth hinder the common people from seizing upon their own land, (but only the mercenary wills of men,) and therefore where there is no Law, there is no transgression.
Fourthly, Because oppression and cruelty doth bear so much sway in the Nation, that poor men will be necessitated to make a breach of the Lawes of the Nation, if they are not suffered to labour the Earth for their maintenance.
Whether it would prove an inlet to Liberty and Freedom, if poor men which want employment, and others which work for little wages, would go to digging and manuring the commons, and most places of the earth; considering effects this would produce?
As 1. If men would do as aforesaid, rather than to go with cap in hand, bended knee, to gentlemen farmers, begging and entreating to work with them for 8d. or 10d. a day, which doth give them an occasion to tyrannize over poor people, (which are their fellow-creatures,) if poor men would not go in such a slavish posture, but do so as aforesaid then rich farmers would be weary of renting so much land of the Lords of Manors.
2. If the Lords of Manors, and other Gentlemen who covet after so much Land, could not let it out by parcels, but must be constrained to keep it in their own hands, then would they want those great bags of money, (which do maintain pride, idleness, and fullness of bread, which are carried into them by their tenants, who go in as slavish a posture as may be; namely, with cap in hand, and bended knee, crouching and creeping from corner to corner, while his lord (rather their tyrant) walks up and down the room with his proud looks, and with great swelling words, questions him about his holding.
3. If the Lords of Manors, and other gentlemen, had not those great bags of money brought into them. Then down would fall the Lordliness of their spirits, and then poor men might speak to them; then there might be an acknowledging of one another to be fellow-creatures.
For, what is the reason that great gentlemen covet after so much land, is it not because farmers and others creep to them in a slavish manner, proffering them great sums of money for such and such parcels of it, which doth give them an occasion to tyrannize over their fellow creatures which they call their inferiors.
Secondly. And what is the reason that farmers and others are so greedy to rent land of the Lords of Manors: Is it not because they expect great gains, and because poor men are so foolish and slavish as to creep to them for employment, although they will not give them wages enough to maintain them and their families comfortably: All which do give them an occasion to tyrannize over their fellow-creatures, which they call their Inferiors.
All which considered, if poor men which want employment and others which work for little wages, would go to dress and improve the common and waste Lands, whether it would not bring down the prices of land, which doth principally cause all manner of things to be dear?
Whether a livelihood be not the right and propriety of every man; Look in the first Query.
Whether this be not intruded into by those which do impoverish their fellow-creatures by their buying and selling, and by their enclosing and appropriating the earth, with the fruits thereof unto themselves (purposely to uphold their lordly spirits) as most men do; and so (in plain English) rob and steal from their fellow creatures, their proper right and Inheritance?
Whether those Scriptures which say, Love thy neighbour as thyself; and do unto all men as you would they should do unto you: and he that hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother in want, and yet shutteth up the bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? Matt. 7.12, John the first chapt. the 3. verse the 17.
And many such Scriptures; Whether they are not least spoken of, and less practised among men now a days, although in them is contained the whole Law and Prophets?
The Nation is in such a state as this,
to honour rich men because they are rich.
And poor men, because poor most do them hate,
O, but this is a very cursed State.
But those which act from love which is sincere,
Will honour truth where ever it doth appear.
And no repecting of persons will be with such,
but tyranny they will abhor in poor or rich.
And in this state is he whose name is here,
your very loving friend, Robert Costeer.