Jonathan on the Mason-Slidell Affair.

Wa’ll, I haint laaft, I dunno w’en—
That is, not really laaft right aout—
‘S I did w’en I herd how Cap’n Wilkes
Had put them chaps to the right abaout!
They’d done it up so al-mighty slick!
Run the blockade, with their trunks and things,
Soaped themselves into a British craft—
An’ there they wooz baound for the land o’ kings!
Said Mason, said he to old Slidell,
A-lightin’ a weed: “Its all right, Slidell!
Thet air Red Cross, a-floppin there,
Says: ‘Brave Ambassadors, all is well!’
“We’ve got the start o’ the mudsill folks,
For all they’re so dretful cute and smart!”
“I ain’t so sartain,” said old Slidell
“Thought it seems ‘s ef Providence took aour part!
“I shan’t feel sure till we get ashore!”
Said Slidell, said he, a-lookin’ araound:
Wilkes’ craft wooz jest heavin’ in sight,
An’ the sekil proved that their views wooz saound.
“Haow dy’e feel?” said the Cap’n, said he,
W’en the job wooz doon. Said Mason: “’So well
I wish I was hung!” “All right!” said Wilkes.
“And wa’t e’n we deo [?] for yeou, Slidell?”
A pooty sort of a send-up, that,
For the two Ambassadors, an’ their zoot,
That started off, so terribly grand,
With everything nice, an’ money to boot!
I reckon the big secessioners
‘D a leetle rather it ded’nt occurred;
It’s wus’n loosing them Beaufort forts—
It’s the richest thing I ever heerd!
The above appeared, probably, in Vanity Fair, or some other facetious Northern publication, just previous to the rendition of Messrs. Mason and Slidell. The news of that important event reached Jonathan in the midst of his soliloquy, which proceeded something in this wise:
S’pos’n them air British chaps sh’d make a fuss
‘Baout stoppin’ their counfoanded old steam tub?
‘Twon’t make the matter none the wuss for us,
‘Cos then we’ll hev the Johnny Bulls to drub.
‘F they don’t mind right cute what they’re abaout,
We’ll ‘nex all Canada ‘n Irelan’ tew;
‘N ‘f parley-voo Bull Frog pokes in his long snaout,
We’ll lick right slick the hull tarnation crew.
Here’s news from Was’h’non—great squash!
I swaow! deou tell!
‘F they aint gone an’ gin them fellers up!
Seward’ backt aout! the nasty, sneakin’ feller
Ain’t got no more grit than a mangy flop-ear pup.
W’at in thunder ‘n all creation ‘dye s’pose he’s abaout?
Them pesky sessioners, ‘n Britishers, ‘n parley-voos, too,
‘ll kick up their heels ‘n crow, and laaf right aout—
I feel ‘s if I sh’d—hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo.

Title:Jonathan on the Mason-Slidell Affair.


Publication:Charleston Mercury

Published in:

Date:February 3rd 1862

Keywords:politics, war


This satirical poem published in the Confederate Charleston Mercury assumes the voice of a Union observer of the Trent Affair of November 1861. However, the layer of satire acquires another level when the mid-poem commentary cheekily claims that this was published in ‘Vanity Fair, or some other facetious Northern publication’. The representation of Union antipathy towards both the British and the French here arises from the fact that the American navy intercepted two Confederate diplomats on a British mail ship (the ‘Trent’) sailing to those countries to petition for their support for Confederate secession. The reference to Canada is a reflection of the fact that Britain began to strengthen its military presence there in anticipation of a possible war. The ‘rendition’ referred to here was when Lincoln eventually ordered the release of the two diplomats, and they sailed to Europe anyway. However this poem crows about this outcome, the Confederacy ultimately failed in its attempts to enlist European support for secession. During all of this, cotton was the main commercial bargaining tool being employed; both Britain and France (to a lesser degree) were suffering by this time from the lack of American cotton imports. – SR