Queen's County, Vicarstown, 14th May, 1854.
With your permission. I beg leave to state
That much misfortune was my lot of late,
Which, if I may intrude upon your time,
Officially I'll strive to send in rhyme.
'Twas in October last, the thirty-first,
A cloud of sorrow o'er my head did burst.
When I looked up true happiness to taste,
Ere all my days in hardship I should waste.
A rural station then I had charge,
Whilst all my duties I strove to discharge;
Between civilians and my party, too,
Impartially, which all the gentry knew.
But, sir, alas! the thorny path of life
With disappointments have been very rife,
For when i fancied all my acts secure
A slippery stone beset my barrack door.
Though prudence tells us dangers to avoid
Yet, silly man, unthoughtful, is decoyed.
Into the snares which crafty sinners throw
For a man's destruction here below;
Upon parade, when I found all was right
I placed on guard a man named Thomas White.
Then two for duty and myself made three,
Marched off to do it, underneath you'll see.
To Timoleague the two with me went down
To Petty Sessions in that little town.
Unceasing rain poured on us all the time,
Which drenched our clothes and caused us much dismay.
After the court we could not leave the town,
For rain in torrents poured unceasing down.
We ordered dinner at O'Leary's inn,
And after dinner, took a glass of gin,
One of my party, sir, named Michael Harte,
A comely lad, intelligent and smart,
Soon left the inn and rambled through the street,
Where he some idle strollers chanced to meet.
An argument they quickly did begin
At his expense, which they believed no sin ;
Nor did they stop till they his feelings hurt ;
They knocked him down and kicked him in the dirt.
They did insult him and assault him, too,
Without a cause, which everybody knew.
But why they did so i will here explain,
We fined them all, which caused them mental pain.
Their crimes were inconsistent with our code,
For cattle wandering on the public road.
They concentrated them in a crowd,
They bawled and yelled, they groaned and whistled loud.
They made a noise that Harte might not elude,
Till Sergeant Parr did on the spot intrude.
On coming up he ordered Harte away
Unto the barracks without much delay,
Lest he might have the bayonet for to use
In self-defence from malignant abuse.
On further search, sir, I was found within,
With *Paddy Pickett at O'Leary's inn,
For Paddy Pickett was the third man's name,
A young recruit who was not much to blame.
The court was over about half-past three,
And it was six when Harte had parted me.
Our station was just four miles from the town,
Where we've had great rain just poured down.
We then were ordered to the station-house,
Where off I sauntered as meekly as a mouse,
Where through our facing we went on the spot.
As Sergeant Parr said we had liquor got.
Poor Harte admitted, for he was in the fault,
But I and Pickett out our battle fought,
And to convince him I was not in error,
I did an action which many said was clever,
To show the party that my hand was steady,
My eye quite clear and no way heavy.
I told the Sergeant to stand stately by,
Whilst I a thread put through a needle's eye,
Which I repeated ten times o'er and o'er,
Whilst all the men stood round the dayroom floor,
A nicer act was never performed by man
To prove one sober, though a simple plan.
To show my speech it was quite clear,
And of my memory he need have no fear,
I pronounce and spelt, mark this please, sir,
" Belshazzar," and the great " Nebuchadnezzar."
Yet, admitted in my explanation,
Being wet and cold, I took a small collation.
Now it appears my efforts in vain,
For I was told in language very plain
That I'm disrated down to second class,
As well as Harte, who took his flowing glass ;
And though young Pickett mingled in the throng,
I'm glad to mention he had not been wrong.
For he was sober and firm as I,
As he the Sergeant's efforts did defy,
Yet he was find ten shillings for the part
He there had taken with his comrade Hart.
But, sir, to you I dare not once dictate,
As you can fine, promote, and can disrate.
Alas! my pay is made very small,
My tea is spilt, my teapot got a fall,
My coarse brown loaf I must unbuttered eat,
Whilst butter glistens in my comrade's plate.
I'm punished in another's cause,
Though twenty years I served the emperor's laws.
I risked my life my fellow man to save,
I rescued many from a watery grave,
I saved a boy in January, '51,
Near to the ground the coastguards watch upon,
When loud tempestuous billows did defy
The coastguards' boat or other to draw nigh.
My space is small, or I could largely state
Some meritorious acts I did of late
In North Tipperary, ere my transfer here
Amongst the " Terry's." without dread or fear.
Now, least I transgress on your precious time,
Ere I conclude I'll mention still in rhyme.
One single act, but one, I'll only name ;
'Twas death or glory, victory to gain.
My comrade, Flynn, and I one rainy night
An armed party quickly put to flight,
And took their leader with loaded gun,
Whom I knocked down and captured in the run.
That "Terry" bold who fell beneath my grasp,
With loaded arms I did firmly clasp,
Whom we espied as we patrolled along,
On which occasion I got half chevron.
I captured others, I could name a score,
Whose hands were stained with red agrarian gore.
I sent them cruising from the county jail,
O'er the Atlantic with a reefed topsail.
I have been active in my county's cause,
In strict obedience to my emperor's laws.
On Howley's pages oft my name was left,
At Quarter Sessions prosecuting theft.
What I have done it is a loss of time to tell,
'Tis all quite equal, be it ill or well,
Alleged offences, be they great or small,
Might have been forgotten after six months'fall,
Though I, faced bullets at the dead of night,
And armed parties oft have put to flight.
And though I braved the deep at Union Hall,
'Twas not remembered when I got a fall.
Unguarded actions oft produce offence.
And long reduction makes recompense.
And this great truth the sacred Scriptures say,
" The just man falls seven times a day."
And as it is the sacred will of Heaven,
That restitution makes a sin forgiven,
Six months' reduction, pounds, shillings and pence,
I humbly hope makes ample recompense.
Now, in conclusion, one request I crave,
Emancipation for a wretched slave.
I humbly ask the rank I held before,
Which I will keep unstained for ever more.
HENRY WATERS, 2nd Sub-Constable, 1161.
Onward, haste, make no delay.
To Major Priestly get away,
Whose answer from the Castle gate
I here in silence humbly await.
The following was Major Priestly's minute on the foregoing petition :-
" Though the Sub-Constable has been five times reduced,
yet he is restored to the rank and pay of First-Class Sub-Constable from the 1st prox."
Hoping he may study his own interests hence forward.
" E.G. Priestly, D.I.G."
Ref : THE ROYAL IRISH CONSTABULARY MAGAZINE.
*( Constable. Patrick Picket. 15765.)
Edward Jonathan. Priestly, D.I.G., Born, 1782, York's, England.-Died, 1857, Dublin, Ireland. ( Portrait in, The Police Museum Belfast.)