A British Greeting to the George Griswold.

Before they stem smooth seas were curled,
Soft winds thy sails did move,
Good ship, that from the Western world
Bore freight of brothers’ love.
‘Twixt starving here and striving there
When wrath flies to and fro
Till all seems hatred everywhere,
How fair thy white wings show!
O’er the great seas thy keel plowed through
Good ships have borne the chain
That should have knit old world and new
Across the weltering main.
The chain was borne—one kindly wave
Of speech pulsed through its coil;
Then dumb and dead in ocean’s grave
Lay hope and cost and toil.
But thou, good ship, again hast brought
O’er these wide waves of blue,
The chain of kindly word and thought
To link these worlds anew.

Title:A British Greeting to the George Griswold.


Publication:The Pacific Commercial Advertiser

Published in:

Date:June 4th 1863

Keywords:politics, relief


The poem, originally published in Punch and reprinted in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, pays homage to the generosity of the donors in the Union states, who sent food to the unemployed Lancashire operatives on the George Griswold ship. Much ceremony was made of the occasion, and Captain Lunt, who oversaw the trip, was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Liverpool on the February 16, 1863. Lunt’s address to the Chamber echoes the sentiment expressed in the poem of deep-rooted transatlantic connection: ‘permit me to express the hope’, he said, ‘that this proof of national good feeling may strengthen the ties that should ever bind England and America together’*. The political framing of the donation was met with little patience from the unemployed in Lancashire, when they refused to participate in a gratuitous ceremony of thanks. In honour of the marriage of the Prince of Wales on March 10, 1863, a meeting of the operatives was to be held in Stevenson’s Square, along with the Chaplain of the George Griswold. It was intended that the operatives would march in a procession to Kersal Moor to receive 15,000 loaves. As W.O Henderson tells it: Boats drawn by lorries were to take part in the procession; one, flying the stars and stripes, to represent the relief ship, the other – a black vessel destined to be burned on the moor – to represent the Alabama. The meeting took place but the operatives declined to allow political capital to be made out of their distress: no procession was formed, and the loaves were seized from the lorries in the square. The officers of the George Griswold were not connected with the affair, and the food had come not by the George Griswold but by the Achilles.* Thus, the political symbolism and the projected narrative of transatlantic union was a distant concern for the unemployed cotton workers. JC *New York Times, March 6th1863. *Henderson, W, O, The Lancashire Cotton Famine 1861-1865, p.110 (Manchester University Press 1934)