The Loss Of The Atlantic (Kenneth Peacock)

Ye kind and tender Christians,
I pray you now draw near,
It's of a terrible shipwreck
I mean to let you hear,
The loss of the Atlantic
upon the ocean wave
Where fully seven hundred souls
met with a watery grave.

'Twas on the twentieth day of March
our gallant ship did sail,
Bound for the harbor of New York,
she had a pleasant gale;
We called next day at Queenstown
as we always had before,
And took on board three hundred souls,
their loss we now deplore.

We steamed away for seven days
without either dread or fear,
Our brave and honored captain
his course right well did steer,
Until he found to his dismay
his coal was rather low,
He changed his course for Halifax
which proved our overthrow.

'Twas on the first of April
in the morning at three o'clock,
When all on board were sunk in sleep
she ran upon a rock;
To hear the cries of wild despair
'twould make you for to weep,
And those loud cries of anguish
as they sank into the deep.

Oh heavens, 'twas an awful sight
the struggle there for life,
The mother parted from the child,
the husband from the wife;
The billows raged, the breakers roared
and o'er the vessel tore,
And washed o'erboard those human beings
to sink and rise no more.

So hard it is for to describe
all that they suffered there,
The men and women rushed on deck
with wild cries of despair;
And some climbed up the rigging,
for so we had been told,
And after hours of suffering
they died there with the cold.

One man escaped into a boat,
with terror looked behind,
And trembling there upon the deck
he saw his wife so kind.
"Without my wife I cannot live
so with her I will die,
And hope we soon will meet again
before the Lord on high."

And when the news had reached New York
'twould grieve your heart full sore
To see the people cry and weep for
their friends they'll see no more;
The office of the White Star
in crowds they did surround
To see if news from those they loved
could anywhere be found.

To see the agèd mother
it would melt your heart with pain:
"Where is my loving daughter,
shall I ne'er see her again?"
And the tender-hearted sister
with sorrow she did cry:
"Must my kind and loving brother
in the ocean's bosom lie?"

The poor old feeble father
with grief he tore his hair:
"Must I ne'er see forevermore
my sons and daughter fair?"
Now to conclude my dreary song
I've one more thing to say:
Ye kind and tender Christians,
I hope you'll for them pray.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a Copy Of Verses On The Wreck Of The Atlantic with a prose account by an unknown printer, dated 1873 and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 13(234) ....####
Collected in 1960 by Kenneth Peacock from Joshua Osbourne [c1903-?] of Seal Cove, White Bay, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3, pp.931-932, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

A very similar variant was collected in 1951 from Patrick (Pat) Critch [1882-1963] of Flatrock, NL, and published as Loss Of The Atlantic in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada, ©2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

The passenger steamship Atlantic ran aground on a rock about fifty yards from Meagher's Island off Terence Bay, NS, where 562 of the 952 passengers and crew perished on April 1, 1873, the greatest loss of life in a single North Atlantic tragedy between 1707 (Scilly, ±2000) and 1912 (Titanic, 1517). Of the 371 survivors only one child survived. All other women and children perished. Built in Belfast in 1871, The SS Atlantic was an iron vessel owned by the Ocean Steam Navigation Company of Liverpool and was one of the White Star Line ships.
(Information garnered from Shipwrecks of Nova Scotia.)


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