James Jeffrey Roche.

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country, leaving the reputation: "He was very brave and very eccentric;
of violent temper, but good-hearted and very devout. He never went into
battle without praying for the souls of the Spaniards who might be

The news of the tragedy had been carried to the United States, and the
American and English consuls interested themselves to protect the
remaining prisoners; but the sham trials went on in spite of their
protests. Here in the face of death came out all the manliness, the
tenderness, the unselfishness, and the simple piety of the brave Fry.
For himself he expected no mercy and asked for none. He made his formal
protest against the seizure of his ship on the high seas and the unfair
trial by which he and his men had been condemned; but it was for them
alone that he besought mercy. To General Buriel, the Spanish Governor,
he wrote, saying:

"Running the blockade is considered a risky business among sailors,
for which good pay is received. It is notorious that a great number
of vessels were employed in it during the American war, and,
although captures were numerous, not a single life was lost; the
greater part of the prisoners were set at liberty after a short
imprisonment. I never heard a word before the night of my sentence,
of Cuban law and the proclamation relative to an attempt to
introduce arms into Cuba. If, with superior opportunities, I was
ignorant that the case could be decided by another law than the
international, how complete may have been the ignorance of these
poor people! I was continually in the company of people who ought
to have known it, and not one alluded to the fact. In a word, I
believe it is not known, and that the world will be painfully
surprised on learning the sacrifice of these lives.

"The Consul knows well that I am not pleading for my own life. I
have not prayed to God for it, nor even to the Blessed Mother. I
have neither home nor country - a victim of war and persecution, the
avenues to the securing of property being closed to me to such a
point that I have not been able to provide bread for my wife and
seven children, who know what it is to suffer for the necessaries
of life. My life is one of suffering, and I look upon what has
happened to me as a benefit of God, and it is not for me,
therefore, to ask favors of anyone.

"The engineer, Knight, I know, came contrary to his will. He was
bitterly opposed to it, as I learn from the person who obtained him
to come.

"Spaniards, the world is not so full of people who prefer honor to
life. Save poor Santa Rosa! Poor gentleman, with heart as tender
and as compassionate as that of a woman, of irreproachable honor,
his business was that of charity. He was devoted to others, and
though he was aboard the vessel for the benefit of their health, I
believe he will not use this advantage for himself....

"The greater portion of the crew were entrapped by their lodging
house keepers, who gained possession of them, and watched the
opportunity to put them on board on receiving advances on their

"Spaniards, I believe I am the only one who dies in the entire
Christian faith of our holy religion. Consider the souls of these
poor people; give them an opportunity to ask mercy of God. I know
that you must fulfil your duty, but my blood ought to be
sufficient, because innocent and defenceless people will suffer
with my fall.

"May these considerations have influence with the authorities to
whom I beg to appeal! These poor people had no knowledge of what
you think their crime. Pardon me if I say that I don't believe
their deaths would have on the fate of Cuba the good effect the law
foresees - our civilization is so opposed to such proceeding. I
don't say this in tone of complaint, but we are accustomed to at
least identify victims when we are going to sacrifice.

"According to my view, there should have been some intervention.
Our Government, by its influence, should have been pronounced, and
perhaps in that way their lives might have been saved without
compromising the dignity of Spain.

"Señores, farewell. I know that the members of the council who
condemn me accomplish a painful duty. Let them remember us in their
prayers to God, and ask their wives and children to do the same for
us. Respectfully,


"Written on board the _Tornado_, Nov. 7, 1873."

At six o'clock on the morning of November 7, Captain Fry and thirty-six
of his crew and twelve passengers were brutally butchered in the
presence of a ferocious mob, who mangled the senseless remains.

There still survived ninety-three unfortunates. By this time the
telegraph had spread the terrible news throughout the world, and
awakened a tempest of indignation everywhere save in Havanna and
Madrid. Even in Spain, at the time enjoying a government nominally
republican, there was some surprise at the horrible tragedy, and Señor
Castelar, his humanity spurred up by a peremptory despatch from the
English Foreign Office, was moved to beseech of his lieutenant to be a
little less hasty in his action. The appeal was unheeded, and all of
the hapless victims were condemned to immediate execution. But General
Buriel had made an epicure's mistake in prolonging his feast.

There was no American vessel of war in the neighbourhood of Santiago de
Cuba, but, what was more to the purpose, as far as the fate of the
prisoners was concerned, there was the inevitable British man-of-war
within a day's sail. The sloop _Niobe_ lay in the harbour of Kingston,
with half of her crew on shore liberty, when the news of the massacre
reached her commander, Sir Lambton Loraine. He sailed at once for
Santiago. An English captain does not need instructions in such an
emergency. He has standing orders and can trust to his nation for
support of his acts. "I am an English subject," said Thompson, a sailor
of the _Virginius_, "and they won't dare lay hands on me." He knew his
countrymen, but he mistook the Spaniard.

He and fifteen compatriots were among the murdered fifty-three.

Then did the hearts of other British subjects and American citizens
fail them as they awaited their doom. The Americans had long abandoned
hope. The English were giving way to despair, when a glad sight met
their eyes. It was the _Niobe_ entering the harbour, with the cross of
St. George flying at her peak. She did not stop to salute the fort, but
gracefully rounded to, a few cables' lengths from the _Tornado_ and her
prize, with port-holes open and her crew at quarters. Ere her anchor
fell, the captain's gig was in the water, and soon its oars were
flashing spray as it sped shoreward. In the stern sheets sat the young

His veto of the massacres was delivered not a moment too soon. Buriel
demurred, questioning the Englishman's right to interfere. Loraine
insisted on the right, claiming that there were British subjects among
the prisoners. To the Spaniard's denial of that fact, he answered that
he would take upon himself, then, the responsibility of protecting
American citizens, in the absence of their own defenders. The delicate
points of this officious interference, Señor Buriel might have debated,
long and ingeniously, with a different kind of adversary. But the
English sailor was no casuist. His arguments were brutally direct.
"Stop the murders, or I bombard your town," they said in so many words.
Indeed, he was a very rash and impulsive young man. Under a free
government he would have been cashiered, without benefit of clergy.
Only a few months before, so the rumour went, he had fired hot shot and
shell into the town of Omoa, Honduras; and there was no guessing what
he might not be tempted to do with Santiago, upon such very strong
provocation. Extreme measures were averted, however, by Buriel's
consenting to reprieve his prisoners.

Then arose the question of reparation. Minister Sickles at Madrid took
high and dignified ground, insisting upon the fullest apology for the
insult offered to his country's flag, and indemnity to the families of
the murdered men. Castelar assented to a treaty covering every demand
of Mr. Sickles, and was about to sign it formally, when he received
advices from Washington which made him retract his concession, and made
General Sickles telegraph his resignation. It appeared that the Spanish
minister at Washington had proved himself a skilful diplomat by
negotiating with the American Secretary of State a protocol, the terms
of which were as extraordinary as the secret manner in which they were
drawn up.

By this arrangement, which settled the question for ever, the United
States waived its demands for a salute to the insulted flag, accepting
a formal apology instead, waived the question of indemnity, and did not
press for the punishment of the guilty officials of Santiago. What the
Government did demand and obtain, it would be hard to say. The only
visible reparation was the conditional surrender of the captured
vessel, for trial before an American court of admiralty. Should it
transpire that she had been in lawful possession of her American
register, then she was to be given to her owners; if otherwise, she was
to be restored to her captors. Strangely enough, there was no provision
made in the latter contingency for the rendition and punishment of the
survivors. All possible dispute on that point was happily averted by
the inscrutable catastrophe which befell the luckless craft. She
foundered, opportunely, in a gale off Cape Fear on her voyage to the
United States, to the great relief of two governments.

There was much indignation in the United States over the awful tragedy
and accompanying insult to the national flag. A vast amount of money
was expended on the navy, and certain commanders were ordered to review
their forces and manoeuvre their squadrons almost in sight of the
Cuban shores. Warlike talk was in the air; but the sober second thought
of the people was averse to a war in defence of the insulted banner,
when it had been used to shelter adventurers in an illegal undertaking.
The American is slow to be angered, and has none of the Englishman's
sentimental reverence for bunting, unless it covers a clearly just
cause. Sir Lambton was speedily promoted by his Government. Somebody in
the American Congress proposed a resolution of thanks to him also, but
it was promptly tabled, with a perception of the fitness of things
hardly to have been expected in that sagacious body. More fitting and
spontaneous was the gift sent to him by the miners of far Nevada, a
fourteen-pound silver brick, emblematic of the highest expression of

_The Virginius_ tragedy, and the indifference with which it was
beheld by the American Government, were sufficient warnings, had any
been needed, to the Filibuster, that his day was past. In unmistakable
language he was told that his country's flag should not and would not
shield him in the violation of international law. Theoretically the
execution of the _Virginius_ adventurers was as much of an outrage
on the dignity of the United States as if it had occurred on American
soil. Practically, the delicate points of flag and register and
high-seas neutrality were dismissed from consideration, and the
evidently hostile mission of the vessel was held to excuse the severe
punishment meted out to her passengers. Whether or not the lesson may
be heeded when the example shall have grown old, it is plain that for
the present at least, the race of filibusters is extinct. Although the
Cuban insurrection broke out again five years later and several cargoes
of war munitions were landed on the island during the months preceding
the American invasion, there were no filibustering expeditions on a
large scale from the United States or any other country.

The nearest approach to genuine filibusterism in recent years was the
raid of Dr. Jameson and some eight hundred adventurers on the
Transvaal, on New Year's Day, 1896. It was badly planned and conducted
without any show of skill or courage. The raiders were entrapped and
surrendered almost without firing a shot. The Boer authorities, with
more magnanimity than wisdom, pardoned the demoralized rank and file,
permitted the civilian leaders to go free after a brief imprisonment
and the exaction of a fine, and delivered "Dr. Jim" and his military
associates over to the English for trial. They were found guilty and
subjected to a nominal imprisonment of a few months, as "first-class
misdemeanants." Four years later the English forces were in the Boer
capital and Dr. Jameson as a member of the Cape Colony parliament, was
passing judgment on the Dutch burghers as "rebels" against the British
Empire! The career of the Filibuster is no longer open to private
individuals. The great powers have monopolized the business, conducting
it as such and stripping it of its last poor remnant of romance,
without investing it with a scrap of improved morality.

The Filibusters were a virile race, with virtues and vices of generous
growth. They played no mean part on the world's stage, albeit a part
often wayward and mistaken. They were American dreamers. Had they been
Greeks or Norsemen, or free to roam the world in the days of Cortez,
Balboa, and Pizarro, victors like them, History would have dealt more
kindly by them. As it is, spite of faults and failures, they do not
deserve the harshest of all fates, oblivion.


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_A Powerful Realistic Novel of American Life._



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_Quicksand_ is a strong argument against a certain condition which the
author believes exists too generally in American society, and is, in
effect, an appeal for the freedom of the individual in family life. It
is a powerful tragedy, developing very naturally out of the effects of
the interference of parents in the lives of their children, and of
brothers and sisters in the affairs of each other. It becomes
therefore, not only the story of an individual, but the life history of
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vividness and realism. The hero of the book also illustrates, in his
sufferings and failures, the unfortunate effects of a too narrow
orthodoxy in religion, coupled with his family's interference with his
growth out of this environment. Offsetting the tragedy of the story is

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Online LibraryJames Jeffrey RocheBy-Ways of War → online text (page 16 of 17)