Newfoundland and the Jingoes: An Appeal to England’s Honor

Newfoundland and the Jingoes: An Appeal to England’s Honor

Author:
John Fretwell
Author:
John Fretwell
Format:
epub
language:
English

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Author: Fretwell, John
Newfoundland and Labrador — History
Newfoundland and the Jingoes: An Appeal to England’s Honor


NEWFOUNDLAND AND THE
JINGOES

AN APPEAL TO ENGLAND’S HONOR

BY

JOHN FRETWELL

Boston Mass.: Geo H. Ellis
Toronto, Canada: Hunter Rose & Co.
Westminster England: Archibald Constable & Co.

Copyright 1895 by John Fretwell.

Copyrighted in England and the United States
Right of Translation and Republication Reserved

GEO. H. ELLIS, PRINTER, 141 FRANKLIN STREET, BOSTON.


“To be taken into the American Union is to be adopted into a partnership. To belong as a Crown Colony to the British Empire, as things stand, is no partnership at all.
“It is to belong to a power which sacrifices, as it has always sacrificed, the interest of its dependencies to its own. The blood runs freely through every vein and artery of the American body corporate. Every single citizen feels his share in the life of his nation. Great Britain leaves her Colonies to take care of themselves, refuses what they ask, and forces on them what they had rather be without.
“If I were a West Indian, I should feel that under the stars and stripes I should be safer than I was at present from political experimenting. I should have a market in which to sell my produce where I should be treated as a friend. I should have a power behind me and protecting me, and I should have a future to which I could look forward with confidence. America would restore me to hope and life: Great Britain allows me to sink, contenting herself with advising me to be patient. Why should I continue loyal when my loyalty was so contemptuously valued?”—James Anthony Froude (from “The English in the West Indies,” Nov. 15, 1887).
“In the United States is Canada’s natural market for buying as well as for selling, the market which her productions are always struggling to enter through every opening in the tariff wall, for exclusion from which no distant market either in England or elsewhere can compensate her, the want of which brings on her commercial atrophy, and drives the flower of her youth by thousands and tens of thousands over the line.
“The Canadian North-west remains unpeopled while the neighboring States of the Union are peopled, because it is cut off from the continent to which it belongs by a fiscal and political line.”—Goldwin Smith, D.C.L., in “Questions of the Day,” page 159. (Macmillan & Co., London, 1893).


PREFACE.

It would be evidence of gross ignorance, or something worse, to pretend that the United States, under like conditions, would have treated the Newfoundlanders better than England has done. It would be especially so after the humiliating spectacle presented to the world by our Democratic majorities last year in Congress and in the State and city of New York.
With material resources superior to those of any other country in the world, we are obliged to appeal to the European money-lender for gold.
Even the chosen head of our Tory Democracy tells Congress that we must sacrifice $16,000,000 to obtain gold on the terms offered by his Secretary of the Treasury.
England’s past blunders have been singularly favorable to American interests, when real statesmen were at the helm in Washington. Any strategist can see that, if Lord Palmerston, instead of bullying weak Greece and China, had done justice to Newfoundland, his government might have acquired so strong a position in America as to seriously imperil the preservation of the Union some thirty years ago. That he failed to do his duty was as fortunate for the United States as it was unfortunate for Newfoundland. To-day, but for the emasculating influence of our Tory Democracy, England’s blunders in the same island would be profitable to the United States.
Even for our small and expensive navy we cannot find sufficient able seamen among our citizens; and the starving fishermen of Newfoundland are just the men we need. But there is no money in the national treasury to pay them; while our ridiculous immigration and suffrage laws exclude the men we need, and enable the scum of Europe to influence our legislation.
I trust this tract may suggest to some Englishmen the best way to prevent a repetition of the present distress, and so show the world that, after all, loyalty is sometimes appreciated in imperial circles. The old project of a rapid line of steamers from Bay St. George to Chaleurs Bay, giving England communication via Newfoundland with Montreal in less than five days, has been revived; but the route is closed by winter ice, and too far north for the United States.
A better route, open all the year round, is that from Port aux Basques to Neil’s Cove, a distance of only fifty-two miles by sea against two hundred and fifty miles from Bay St. George to Paspebiac or Shippegan; and still better is the route via Port aux Basques and Louisbourg, which will soon be connected with the American lines, with a single break of three miles at the Gut of Canso Ferry. With all its faults, British rule has one advantage over that of all other colonial powers: it gives the foreigner, no matter what his faith or nation, exactly the same commercial rights as the British subject; and so, although Newfoundland will lose by the exclusion of its fish from our protected markets, and by the diplomatic inability of the British government to protect it from the effects of French bounties and treaty rights, the enlightened selfishness of the New Englander will find that, “there is money for him” in the development of those resources which have been so singularly neglected by the British capitalists who invest their money in the most rotten schemes that Yankee ingenuity can invent.
J.F.
Feb. 11, 1895.


AUTHORITIES.

In the following pages I have drawn largely on the well-known works of Hatton and Harvey, Bonnycastle, Pedley, Bishop Howley, and Spearman’s article in the Westminster Review for 1892, concerning Newfoundland; and, on the general question, on Froude’s “England to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada,” Lecky’s “History of England in the Eighteenth Century,” Blaine’s “Twenty Years of Congress,” Hansard’s Debates, “The Annual Register,” McCarthy’s “History of our own Times,” and the Blue Books of the British government.
To the tourist who proposes to visit the island I can recommend Rev. Moses Harvey’s “Newfoundland in 1894,” published in St. John’s, as the best guide to the island. Mr. Harvey has also written an excellent article on the island for Baedeker’s “Canada.” For the hunter, painter, photographer, angler, yachtsman, or geologist, there is not a more attractive excursion, for from one to three months, along the whole American coast than that through and round Newfoundland.
J.F.


NEWFOUNDLAND AND THE JINGOES.

BY JOHN FRETWELL.

The most prominent and able intellectual representative of the money power in the world, the London Times, writes of Newfoundland:—
“Even if we were disposed to do so, we cannot in our position as a naval power view with indifference the disaster to, and possibly the ruin of, a colony we may sometimes regard as amongst the most valuable of our naval stations. Neither can we view the position without consideration for the wide-spread suffering that an absolute refusal to grant assistance would entail. It is probable that a cheaper system of administration would retrieve the position without casting an overwhelmingly heavy burden upon the imperial tax-payers. If we interpret public feeling aright, it will be in favor of giving the colony the help that may be found essential; but, if the assistance required takes anything like the radical proportion that at present seems necessary, it can only be granted at a price,—the surrender of the Constitution and the return of Newfoundland to the condition of a crown colony.”
While we may safely concede to the editors of the Times as much “consideration for wide-spread suffering” as to a Jay Gould or a Napoleon, the above-quoted words are significant, because they show that what the ruling powers in England would never concede to charity or justice they will give to self-interest, now that the Times has discovered “there is money in it.”
But to us Americans the words have their lessons also. Newfoundland not only belongs to our Continental system, but it can never be really prosperous until it becomes a State in our Union. What it is to-day, New England might have been, had it not been delivered by the Continental forces, and by the French navy, from the rule of British Tories. And, as a member of our Union, this island, five times the size of Massachusetts, might not only be as prosperous as Rhode Island or Connecticut, but also the chief training ground for our future navy, which, checked by the piracies of the British-built “Alabama,” will become in the near future an indispensable necessity of our national existence.
Since the English people seem to have taken to heart, far more than his own countrymen have done, the lesson taught by our Captain Mahan in his “Influence of the Sea-power in History,” it is well that we should consider the past history of England’s relations to that first-born colony which she has so infamously sacrificed, and for whose misfortunes she alone is responsible.
The lesson that we may learn from that history is quite as much needed by the American as by the Briton. Edmund R. Spearman, writing in the Westminster Review (Vol. 137, page 403, 1892), says:—
“No English Homer has yet risen to tell the tale of Newfoundland, shrouded in mystery and romance, the daring invasion and vicissitudes of those exhaustless fisheries, the battle of life in that seething cauldron of the North Atlantic, where the swelling billows never rest, and the hurricane only slumbers to bring forth the worse dangers of the fog-bank and the iceberg. Fierce as has been during the four centuries the fight for the fisheries by European rivals, their petty racial quarrels sink into insignificance before the general struggle for the harvest. The Atlantic roar hides all minor pipings. The breed of fisher-folk from these deep-sea voyagings consist of the toughest specimens of human endurance. All other dangers which lure men to venture everything for excitement or for fortune, the torrid heat or arctic cold, the battle against man or beast, the desert or the jungle, all land adventures are as nothing compared to the daring of the hourly existence of the heroic souls whose lives are cast upon the banks of Newfoundland. The fishermen may seem wild and reckless, rough and illiterate; but supreme danger and superlative sacrifice breed noble qualities, and beneath the rough exterior of the fisherman you will never fail to find a MAN, and no cheap imitation of the genuine article. None but a man can face for a second time the frown of the North Atlantic, that exhibition of mighty, all-consuming power, beside the sober reality of which all the ecstasies of poets and painters are puny failures. Among these heroes of the sea England’s children have always been foremost. We should expect England to be especially proud of such an offspring, familiar with their struggles, and ever heedful of their welfare, lending an ear to their claims or complaints above all others. Strange to say, it has always been the exact reverse.”
Though discovered by John and Sebastian Cabot in 1494, “the twenty-fourth of June at five o’clock in the morning,” it was not until ninety years later that the island was formally organized as an English colony (Aug. 5, 1582, by Sir Humphrey Gilbert).
The persecutions of Bloody Mary and the massacre of St. Bartholomew had roused the indignation of Englishmen to the highest pitch. They were ready for any risk in open war against France and Spain, but Queen Elizabeth was always trying to shirk responsibility; and so the sea-captains who would avenge the wrongs done to the Protestants were obliged to run the risk of being condemned as pirates.
One of them wrote to Queen Elizabeth, Nov. 6, 1577, offering to fit out ships, well armed, for the Banks of Newfoundland, where some twenty-five thousand fishermen went out from France, Spain, and Portugal every summer to catch the food of their Catholic fast days. He proposed to treat these fishermen as the Huguenots of France had been treated,—to bring away the best of their ships, and to burn the rest. Nine days after the date of this letter Francis Drake sailed from Plymouth, commanding a fleet of five ships, equipped by a company of private adventurers, of whom Queen Elizabeth was the largest shareholder. Fortunately, they never committed the horrible crime suggested in that letter. In those five ships, says Froude, lay the germ of Great Britain’s ocean empire.
In 1585 Sir John Hawkins, who had meanwhile annexed Newfoundland to the English Dominion, proposed again to take a fleet to the Fishing Banks, whither half the sailors of Spain and Portugal went annually to fish for cod.
He would destroy them all at one fell swoop, cripple the Spanish marine for years, and leave the galleons to rot in the harbors for want of sailors to man them.
Had this been done, Philip of Spain would never have been able to threaten England with his “Invincible Armada.” But the brave Englishmen of those days had to deal with a treacherous queen. The Hollanders who had engaged in a desperate struggle that they might have done with lies, and serve God with honesty and sincerity, were willing and eager to be annexed to England, and in union with her would have formed so strong a power as to be able to resist any Continental league against them.
But Elizabeth cared more for herself than for her country and her cause, and thus made warlike measures necessary which an Oliver Cromwell would have avoided.
Her duplicity may have provoked those republican ideas that were brought by Brewster and the other Pilgrim Fathers to America. Brewster was the friend and companion of Davison, Queen Elizabeth’s Secretary of State, who was sent on an embassy to the Netherlands by her; and the contrast between these brave citizens and the treachery of the “good Queen Bess” must have given him a profound sense of the injury done to a great nation by the vices and follies of royalty.
The infamous manner in which the queen afterwards used her faithful secretary, Davison, as her scapegoat, and the sycophancy of Sandys, Archbishop of York, at Davison’s mock trial, were strong arguments both against royalty and prelacy.
Under the cowardly, childish, and pedantic king who succeeded Elizabeth, Newfoundland was the bone of contention between the factions at his court, between Catholics and Protestants, and men who were neither, and men who were both.
Among the latter was the gallant Yorkshireman, Sir George Calvert, who was Secretary of State to James, but was compelled to resign his office in 1624, because he became a Catholic.
The British and Irish Catholics who came over seem to have been the men who came out to Newfoundland with the most honest intent of any,—to better themselves without injury to others, and to seek there “freedom to worship God” at a time when that freedom was denied in England, both to the Catholic and the Puritan. In 1620 Calvert had bought a patent conveying to him the lordship of all the south-eastern peninsula, which he called Avalon, the ancient name of Glastonbury in England.
He proposed to found there an asylum for the persecuted Catholics; and at a little harbor on the eastern shore, just south of Cape Broyle, which he called Verulam, a name since corrupted to Ferryland, he built a noble mansion, and spent altogether some $150,000, a much larger sum in those days than it seems now. But the site was ill chosen; and the imbecility of King James encouraged the French to attack the colony, so that at last Calvert wrote to Burleigh, “I came here to plant and set and sow, but have had to fall to fighting Frenchmen.” He went home, and in the last year of his life he obtained a grant of land, which is now occupied by the States of Delaware and Maryland; and to its chief city his son gave the name of the wild Irish headland and fishing village, whence he took his own name of Lord Baltimore in the Irish peerage.
After Calvert’s departure, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland sent out a number of settlers; and in 1638 Sir David Kirke, one of the bravest of England’s sea-captains, who had taken Quebec, received from Charles I. a grant of all Newfoundland, and settled at Verulam, or Ferryland, the place founded by Calvert. Under Kirke the colony prospered; but, as he took the part of Charles in the civil war, his possessions were confiscated by the victorious Commonwealth.
At that time there were nearly two thousand settlers along the eastern shore of Avalon; and the great Protector, Oliver Cromwell, protected the rights of the Newfoundland settlers as he did those of the Waldensians.
After his death came what Mr. Spearman calls the “blots in the English history known as the reigns of Charles II. and his deposed brother.”
Mr. Spearman continues, “Frenchmen must understand that no Englishman will for a moment accept as a precedent anything in those two reigns affecting the relations of France and of England.”
But here Mr. Spearman counts without his host. He should recollect that the British government has, since the death of Charles II., paid an annual pension to the Dukes of Richmond simply because they were descended from the Frenchwoman, Louise de la Querouaille, whose influence induced Charles II. to betray English interests to France, and that but the other day the Salisbury government recognized that precedent by paying the Duke of Richmond a very large sum of money to buy off this infamous claim. So long as the names of the Dukes of Richmond and Saint Alban’s (both descendant of Charles II.’s mistresses) remain on the roll of the British Peerage, the Frenchman will have a right to laugh at Mr. Spearman’s claim; for we cannot ignore a precedent in our intercourse with foreigners, so long as we act upon it in our domestic affairs.
Scarcely was Charles the Libertine seated on the throne of England, when the Frenchmen, in 1660, settled on the southern shore of Newfoundland, at a place which they called La Plaisance (now known as Placentia).
They were certainly either wiser or more fortunate in their choice of a location than the English; for, while St. John’s and Ferryland, on the straight shore of Avalon, are exposed to the wildest gales of the Atlantic, and shut out by the arctic ice from all communication with the ocean for a part of the winter, Placentia is a protected harbor, open all the year round, and having a sheltered waterway navigable for the largest ships to the northernmost and narrowest part of the Isthmus of Avalon.
We must believe that the French would have managed Newfoundland better than the English if they had kept the island; for the men who cut the Isthmus of Suez would surely long ago have made a passage, three miles long, by which the ships of Trinity Bay might have found their way at the close of autumn to the safe winter harbors of the southern coast.
All along the southern shore the names on the map tell us of French occupation.
Port aux Basques, Harbor Breton, Rencontre Bay (called by the English Round Counter), Cape La Hune, Bay d’Espoir, are but a few of them.
The name which the English have given to this last is strangely characteristic. The Bay of Hope (Baie d’Espoir) of the French has been changed into the Bay of Despair of the English. It was really a Bay of Hope to the French; for from the head of one of its fiords, deep enough for the largest of our modern ships, an Indian trail goes northwards in less than 100 miles to the fertile valley of the Exploits River. Can we suppose that the French engineers would have allowed 200 years to elapse without building a road along this trail? And yet not a single road was built

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