I have reached the conclusion, after due thought and observation, that if times are hard at Newlyn the men have only themselves to blame.
I shall set pen to paper, and address the culprits by means of the Cornish Telegraph. More of a thinking man’s newspaper, I always think, than the Cornishman. Favourably disposed to change and to the interests of the sober working man: not in the pocket of the drinks trade and the Tories, unlike its jumped-up new rival.
And I shall develop my argument at a suitable length. First, I must take care to show my sympathies. It is important not to be dismissed as hard-hearted. So, to begin: “I should be sorry to say one single word to stop the flow of charity”. And now, of course, the “but”. “But I do think it is a crying shame that, when opportunities occur to enable fishermen to earn their living, they should not have the energy and industry to embrace them”. There. That sets the right tone. Fatherly, you might say. Concerned, but unafraid to say what has to be said.
The phrases are pouring forth from me now in a flood of elegance. Fishermen not putting out to sea on a Saturday night? A “senseless craze…. sabbatarianism run mad”. The “very ghost of an excuse” is enough these days to keep the men in port, where they “loaf around Newlyn with their hands in their pockets”. A touch of light irony never goes amiss and so I’ve taken the liberty of calling them “stalwart manhood”. But I close with a forthright attack on “that fatal indolence of character which prefers propping up the schools, sunning itself in front of the Dolphin, and disporting on Tolcarne Bridge, rather than face the dangers of a fine moonlight night and the inconveniences of a capful of wind”.
Use my real name? I think perhaps not. There will doubtless be tiresome replies, not to mention the possibility of threats to my person. After all, some of the Telegraph’s readership can only be described as Radical.
I shall style myself, simply and wittily enough, “Jack Lane”.
Cornish Telegraph 26th April 1883 page 8. And there were indeed replies – see also 3rd May page 5