Fenian Movements 21apr1866
The movements of the Fenians on our frontier are quite inexplicable. The Oâ€™Mahony Fenians repudiated the idea of invading the Provinces, and ridiculed the proposition made by General Sweeny; yet we find that the small bands now collected at Eastport and the neighborhood belong to that faction and that they are under the immediate control of the redoubtable B. D. Killian himself, once an intimate friend of the Hon. T. D. McGee and his associate in the management of the American Celt, a rabid anti-British journal, now the right-hand man of Oâ€™Mahoney and some time ago accused of furnishing information to the Canadian Government for a consideration.
The way in which these men act shows conclusively â€“ unless we can believe them all madmen â€“ that they never meant to attempt an invasion. Instead of the rapidity and secrecy which would [characterise] a real movement, we see all the display and fuss and noise that usually [characterise] feints or sham movements. They first take care that their intentions are made known to the world; then after a long delay they begin to come down in small squads. Their officers carry side arms and swagger and boast much. Their leader comes down and holds public meetings in Eastport and Calais. They give ample time to the British ambassador to send to the West Indies for the fleet, and to the fleet to return to this station; for the general in command at Halifax to send vessels and troops to the frontier; for our volunteers to turn out and organize thoroughly â€“ and we may almost add, for a regiment to come all the way from Malta: and during all this time they do not collect men enough to form a single regiment, and their only achievement is the cowardly attack on a Custom House officer living on a rocky islet in Passamaquoddy Bay â€“ a piece of mere wanton bravado, which could only be meant to insult and annoy.
After looking at all these circumstances, and the remarkable fact that these parties appear on the frontier just when the Governor is preparing for his coup dâ€™etat, read what, according to the Journal, Mr. Killian said at Eastport:
â€œThe Fenian Brotherhood saw that the British Government would force Confederation on the Provinces, and the Fenians wonâ€™t let them force it on them. The Fenian Brotherhood will side with people against their ministers.
We will hold conventions on the frontier until question of Confederation be settled, but we will respect neutrality laws.
Every difficulty of England is hope to Ireland; and if by peaceful occupation of this frontier we can draw away a great part of the fleet from England, we may cross to Ireland and raise the flag like yours, with a green ground, and throw it to the breeze.
If Mr. Killian were in the pay of the Canadians, and Mr. Dâ€™Arcy McGee himself wrote his speech for him, he could not have said anything better suited to the purposes of the Canadian party. The majority of the people, we trust, have sense and manliness enough not to care what Mr. Killian or any other [fillibuster] may say on a subject which concerns only the people themselves. They will judge and determine for themselves wholly indifferent to what the Fenians or any other enemies of theirs may say about it or about them; but the Canadian party evidently believe that Mr. Chileanâ€™s nonsense will help them and their cause amazingly. Under this impression the Intelligencer, most pious and meek of papers, blows the trumpet loudly and swells the chorus which the Canadian party try to raise. It says:
â€œWithout are threatened invasion; within is unprecedented political commotion and excitement, with â€“ as many thoughtful and judicious men fear â€“ a growing desire to weaken our union to the British empire, disintegrate these Provinces from each other and the mother country, play into the hands of our invading foes, and hand over the rights and liberties of a free and loyal people to a Fenian Republic! or, hasten annexation to the States, with all their burdens, taxes, and licentious democracy!
â€œIt would seem as though the threatening and mercenary enemy on our border was giving boldness and encouragement to restless and dissatisfied elements within; and it no longer requires extraordinary penetration to see that fealty and loyalty to the British Crown and British Institutions are regarded by some as a flimsy thread, to be sundered at the first opportunity.
â€œIn view of these things, and of other evils which loom in the distance, it becomes the christian, loyal, and peace-loving men of this country to exercise a calm and dispassionate consideration; to maintain a decision and firmness in their attachment to the Throne and Constitution of the mother country â€“ a reliance upon her fostering and protecting care; with a determination to co-operate with the QUEEN and the Imperial Parliament in uniting and strengthening these North American portions of her empire into one great and prosperous country, which will awe our murderous enemies without, and crush out forever the disloyal hopes of those within, who would turn the homes now sheltered and protected by the British flag and British laws, into charred and desolated heaps of ashes, the legitimate fruit of the Fenian and annexation torch!â€
This is but a specimen of the wicked trash with which those papers now abound.
We would ask out readers to put the case to themselves in this way.
If those Fenians are on the frontier to do the work of any party in this Province, is it not natural that they would say and do what the party whom they sought to assist wished and directed, or at least what would be best calculated to help that party?
Is it not very plain that all they say and do is, in the belief of the Intelligencer and its fellows, calculated to aid the Canadian party, the foes of Responsible Government and of the people?
It is idle for the men who would overthrow our constitution and destroy our independence â€“ who show themselves the willing slaves and tools of despotism and arbitrary power â€“ to pretend that they are the loyal men of the Province, and to fasten the taint of disloyalty on the men who love the constitution and would preserve at once the liberties of the people and the prerogatives of the crown â€“ who would maintain the independence of the Province and its connection with the Empire, who were the first to provide against the danger of invasion, and who have ever shown themselves ready to make sacrifices for the country. Loyalty is something more than mere words in times like these, and it will not be easy to convince the people that those who would destroy the country are the most loyal to the sovereign.