London Times on American Affairs.

John Bull was a valkin his parlor von day,
He fixin’ the vorld wery much his hown vay,
Ven igstrawnary news come from hover the sea,
Habout the great country vot brags it is free.
Hand these vos the tidins this news it did tell,
That great Yankee Doodle vos going to— vell
That he vos a volloped by Jefferson D.,
Hand no longer “some punkins” vos likely to be.
John Bull, slyly vinkin, then said hunto me
“My dear Times, my bold covey, go pitch hinto he”
Let us vollop great Doodle, now when he s down,
Hif ve vollops his vell ve vill ‘do hip up brown.’
“His long-legged boots hat my ‘ed he ‘as ‘urled,
I’d rather not see ‘em a trampin’ the vorld;
Hand I how him a grudge for his conduc so wile,
In himportin’ shillalahs from Herin’s green isle.
“I knows Jefferson D. is a rascally chap,
Who goes hin for cribbin’ the government pap;
That Hexeter ‘All may be down upon me,
But as Jeff. ‘as the cotton I’ll cotton to he.
“I cares for the blacks not a drat more nor he,
Though on principle I goes for settin’ ‘em free;
But hinterests, my covey, we must look hafter now,
Unless principal yields, it is poor any how.”
So spoke Jonny Bull, so he spoke unto me,
Hand I ‘inted it slyly to Jefferson D;
Who wery much pleased rubbed his ‘ands in his joy,
He exclaimed, “You’re the man for my money, old boy.”
“Go in, Jonny Times! I will feather your nest,
Never mind if you soil it, ‘tis foul at the best;
Strange guests have been thar, but my cotton is clean,
And a cargo is yourn, if you manage it keen.”
So I pitched into Doodle like a thousan’ of brick,
May ‘ap it want prudent to do it— on tick;
But John Bull is almighty, he’ll see I am pade,
And my cargo of cotton will break the blockade.
So Bull he went hin the blockade for to bust,
The Christians they cried, and the sinners they cussed;
There vos blowin’ and blustrin,’ and mighty parade,
And hall to get ready to break the blockade.
Ven hall hof a sudden it came in the ‘ed
Hof a prudent hold covey, who hup and he said”
“Hit’s bad to vant cotton, but worser by far
His the sufferin’ hand mis’ry you’ll make by a war.
“There is cotton in Hingy, Peru and Assam,
‘Arf a loaf, or ‘arf cotton, tight papers hi call,
But a ‘ole var entire his the devil and hall”
So he sent not ‘is wessels across the broad sea,
Vich vos hawful ‘ard lines for poor Jefferson D;
And wrote unto Doodle, “ ‘Old hon and be true!”
And Jonathan hanswered Bull, “Bully for you!”
Has Bull vos a valkin in London haround,
‘E found the Times lying hupon the cold ground,
With a big bale hof cotton right hover ‘is side,
Says Bull: “Hi perceive ‘was by cotton he died!”

Title:London Times on American Affairs.


Publication:Charleston Mercury

Published in:Charleston

Date:November 30th 1861

Keywords:cotton, politics, war


This satirical poem, mocking a Cockney London accent, imagines a conversation between John Bull and The Times, here expressive of British commercial interest and foreign-policy opinion. In the poem, Bull instructs The Times to pitch his views on the Civil War, as his instinctive sympathies lie with the Confederacy and its President, Jefferson Davies, owing ultimately to his lust for cotton: ‘But as Jeff. ‘as the cotton I’ll cotton to he.’ The poem captures the initial confidence held by the Confederacy in their strategy of ‘cotton diplomacy’, feeling that British neutrality would eventually give way to the need for raw cotton. As ‘Part Second’ depicts, though, Britain remained steadfast in its neutral policy, and sought cotton from alternative global sources – in particular, Indian, Brazilian and Egyptian cotton became a major presence on Western markets.

l. 16 ‘himportin’ shillalahs from Herin’s green isle’ – Many Irish Americans fought during the Civil War for the Union in the Irish Brigade. ‘Shilalahs’ is a misspelling of the Irish weapon, Shillelagh.

l. 19 ‘Hexeter ‘All’ – Exeter Hall was a venue in London which had hosted meetings of the Anti-Slavery Society. It had become a metonym for the British anti-slavery sentiment.

Jack Cottam