John Francis Maguire

Newfoundland—Monstrous Policy—Bad Times for the Irish Papists—How the Bishop saved the Colony—The Cathedral of St. John's—Evil of having but one Pursuit—Useful Efforts—The Plague of Dogs—Proposal to exterminate the 'Noble Newfoundland'—Wise Legislation—Reckless Improvidence—Kindly Relations—Irish Girls

THERE is not within the circle of the British Empire a more interesting colony than Newfoundland, or whose inhabitants have had to struggle against a more stupid and perverse policy than that deliberately adopted towards it by the Home Government, and faithfully enforced by its willing representatives. The policy of this day is to stud the earth with vigorous offshoots from the parent stock, and foster them into sturdy growth by the gift of free institutions; and the natural result of a policy so wise and enlightened is this—that there being no wrongs to avenge, no bitter memories to cherish, no galling restrictions to chafe or irritate the public mind, the colony cheerfully bears the light yoke of loyalty to the mother country, whose manufactures it consumes, whose commerce it extends, whose resources it developes, and whose people it enriches and employs. But the policy pursued towards Newfoundland was the very opposite to everything wise and enlightened. To say that it was discouraging would not express its character in adequate terms: it was rather repressive, if not actually crushing. The absurd idea of the wiseacres of that day was to make of Newfoundland a mere fishing-station, and of St. John's a landing place. By the Treaty of Utrecht the British obtained the island from the French in 1713. When the island thus came into possession of its new masters it contained a not inconsiderable French population, to whom freedom of worship had been guaranteed by treaty 'as far as the laws of England permitted;' and so successfully did the Governor of the day take advantage of this dangerous proviso, that the disgusted French Catholics and their clergy sold their property and 'abandoned' the questionable protection of the conquerors. The French Catholics having been effectually got rid of, their Irish brethren became the objects of special proscription.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America