MF – 1865.12.12 – The Fenian Scare – St. Croix Courier – #128 – F12250

The Fenian Scare.

We copy to-day in full from the St. Croix Courier, the report of the meeting held at St. Stephen, to make provision for the defence of that part of the frontier from any Fenian raid that may be attempted. The people, it would appear, were not in the least alarmed, and with a prudence that is crowning proof of their perfect coolness, they determined to know who was to bear the cost before they resolved to make any preparations whatever. When told that if their Volunteers were called out the Province would defray the expense, they showed some alacrity in passing resolutions, and the Courier says that active measures have been taken to raise a second Volunteer Company.

The Governor, in a speech, the report of which, as the Courier states, was revised by himself, gives some idea of the character of the danger to be apprehended. It would seem not to be of a formidable nature, as he calculates that the mere show of such preparations as can be made in that small town will effectually ward it off, and he declared expressly that it is at worst not so great an evil as that caused by setting class against class, as is done – he more than hinted – by some who are not themselves so credulous as to believe such stories, and who are doing “a work that he did not think could be too harshly characterized.”

It would be well if this complaint and remonstrance made by the Queen’s representative, in the discharge of what he believed to be his duty to his Sovereign and her subjects in this Province, had the effect he intended it should have; but the men who are engaged in the wicked work he so describes will persevere in it while it promises to be profitable, and yet profess to have no desire to array class against class, or to inflict on the community whose interests they profess to guard, that evil, the enormity of which the Governor so well [pourtrays].

The Journal is evidently one of those of whom the Governor speaks as engaged in this wicked work. Yet, commenting on the speech, it employs its usual hypocrisy, and says:

“The Lieutenant Governor’s remarks on the guilt of exciting class against class and race against race may be deemed unquestionably sound in principle, and yet we are not sure that they are fitted to produce the good effects which we are confident his Excellency had in view. It was not with a mere abstract topic that the was dealing, but with some occurrence of the day. It being conceded that it is very reprehensible to excite class against class, it must be admitted that the persons obnoxious to such a charge should be so well [defined], and the time or manner of their committing the offence so well specified, as to leave no doubt as to the persons who were intended. We very much regret that his Excellency’s remarks on this subject have not been more explicit.”

Any one who knows how Mr. Fisher and Mr. Tilley and their friends canvassed York, how the Journal and Intelligencer and News and Reporter strive to excite alarm about Fenianism, and by [inuendoes] and hints and other such crafty means, as well as by more open assertions, to create the impression that Fenianism has [sympathisers] in this Province, and that the only way to save the Province from being gobbled up by them is to elect Mr. Fisher and the other nominees of the Canadian party, can not fail to understand precisely what the Governor [means]. The Journal betrays its consciousness of being amenable to the charge, and at the same time assuming a bullying tone, shows that it will persist in the same course. – It says:

“For our own part we have had no hesitation, from first to last, in chronicling the Fenian movements, so far as known, in the United States, Canada and Ireland, and in declaring that, mad and reckless as are these men, they may work a great deal of mischief, mulcting us in the expenses of defence, embroiling us with the United States, especially if the Fenians should get any privateers afloat, and in doing what in them lies to prevent the union and consolidation of the [Brish] North American Provinces. Their organs and advocates avow this object, and a section of the French Canadians opposed to the Government and to union, join the Fenians in their designs, declare they will ‘liberate’ Canada and extinguish Confederation.”

To this no one would object; but when it says:

“It is well known that the publication of such an estimate of Fenianism is very distasteful to some of his Excellency’s advisers, but the feeling is surely not shared by his Excellency.”

Then it employs falsehood of the most gross and unqualified kind to convert what would have been a comparatively harmless statement of facts, and surmises into a most flagitious attempt to alarm the public and destroy their confidence in those to whom, should danger really threaten, they must look for guidance and counsel. And when it pretends, as in the subjoined paragraph, that those who question the accuracy of its extravagant statements sympathise with the Fenians, and that those who naturally resent the infamous attempts of the party to represent them as identified with Fenianism, only feel hurt because of the animadversions made on it, the Journal labours most cunningly to excite the very felling of class against class, the growth of which His Excellency has reason to deplore:

“If our people generally, as it is to be hoped is the case, are free from the taint of Fenianism or any sympathy with it, except what crops out in one or two of our newspapers, they will not feel hurt by the animadversions made on Fenianism and its leaders, of whose traitorous and fraudulent designs his Excellency, himself, spoke very freely. Those, on the other hand, whose susceptibilities are wounded by such remarks, if any such there be, are hardly worth propitiating. They would make poor defenders of his Excellency and of the honor of our Queen. Considering the movements that are now going on in the United States and in Canada, and the tone of the press which either propagates or sympathizes with, Fenianism, the duty of all loyal men of all creeds and classes is plain. They should not be at all backward in expressing their sentiments, and they should take good care not to encourage the diffusion of disloyal and traitorous anti-British publications.”

The Journal knows well that sympathy with Fenianism has never cropped out in any paper in the Province, and that itself and its fellows are the only papers that diffuse “disloyal and traitorous anti-British publications,” such as the Fenian Constitution and speeches of Fenian orators and articles from Fenian newspapers. The Journal is incorrigible. At its very start a career of falsehood, misrepresentation, and treachery was deliberately adopted; from this it can not be turned by any feeling of shame or remorse, and remonstrance is quite thrown away on it. Its proprietor is only to be influenced by more substantial considerations.

The Governor was not mistaken when he said:

“For himself he could only say that, were any attack made, there was no class on whose loyalty and readiness to defend their homes and their country he could more certainly rely than Her Majesty’s Roman Catholic subjects in this Province.

The Catholics who have chosen this Province as their home regard it as truly their country, in whose welfare they are as deeply interested as any other class of its inhabitants. They have done as much as any other to [develope] its resources, promote its prosperity and increase its wealth. In attachment to its free institutions, in ready and cheerful obedience to its wise, equitable and beneficent laws and in honest and faithful allegiance to its Government, they yield to no class of Her Majesty’s subjects. A better form of government they could not desire, and even if no higher or better motives influenced them, they assuredly would be as ready as others to protect the property which many of them have acquired by many years of incessant toil and strict frugality. Irish Catholics, semper et ugbique fideles, are loyal in this Province, for the best of all reasons – because loyalty here is reason and justice and common sense; is love of liberty and of independence, and the French Catholics are quite as loyal as the Irish. Did danger really threaten, they would be found in the van when the editor of the Journal and his faction, frightened like curs – valorous and noisy while danger was distant – fled howling to the rear.