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The fragment seems to consist of the front & back cover on one side and pages 2 & 7 on the reverse suggesting that a sheet bearing  pp 3,4,5 & 6 are missing, The poem appears on the back cover (page 8)

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Page 2

The publisher of this work, feeling that the public at large (and more especially that section of it who are sufferers by the melancholy event of which it is the record) would like to possess a permanent memorial of the truly national disaster of September 3rd, 1878, has taken down the following narrative from a survivor, and supplemented it by such particulars and details as could be gathered from authentic sources, and with illustrations sketched on the actual scone of the occurrence. There is no need to say that the heart-stricken man whose narrative forms a portion of this book could give no details of anything beyond his own individual experience. The general features of the calamity given in the following pages are therefore distinguished from his story, the editor thinking it better to let the narrative itself stand as given. It is many years since a disaster of such magnitude has needed a record. Within five minutes of the time the ill-fated vessel was struck she went down - with her crowded freight of holiday passengers exhilarated with the fresh air, joyous with the merriment of health and good spirits, and happy in the thought of returning to the loved ones at home-and "for a hundred yards the river was full of drowning people screaming in anguish, hopelessly struggling, and vainly praying for help." Who is there throughout England who in the presence of so awful a calamity does not stand aghast, paralyzed and heartstricken ? We think of the dead who, within a few miles of their homes, buoyant with innocent excitement, tilled with pleasant retrospection and glad anticipation, with no thought of danger, and no preparation for being so suddenly "called to their last account," surrounded by their loved relations or intimate associates, were suddenly called, and, with a "short. sharp summons," snatched away into the jaws of death at the very moment when their cup of cart hly enjoyment was full and sweet. Whom shall we pity most-those who wore engulphed, or those who escaped ? All our commiseration, all our sympathetic feeling, all the tears that may be shed (and God knows that throughout His universe tears will fall al rain for this calamity), cannot recall the dead to life -BUT THE LIVING ARE WITH US STILL. sympathy mitigate their grief, and kindly aid lessen in some degree their suffering. Hundreds of homes are rendered desolate ; orphans and widows are left to our thoughtful care. In a calamity in which so many breadwinners have been snatched away whilst seeking recreation (so necessary to maintain our moral and physical health under the pent-up conditions of our town life, and suffering as we do from the pressure of business), it behoves the public to subscribe largely for the relief of the sufferers. Widely will this appeal be made, and we have every confidence that it will be nobly responded to.

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NARRATIVE OF A SURVIVOR.

"If you will bear with me, Sir, let me use my own words, excusing mistakes in grammar, for I am not a man of education ; and if you won't mind looking on one side and leaving to myself, and saying nothing for a few minutes, when I feel overcome, like, I'll do my best to tell you my story of Tuesday evening. You see, Sir, this is Sunday, and I have had time to think a bit, and settle down since I found her; and I think you're right, and it will do the public good to know my story, as a sort of sample, like, of many other poor creatures who have suffered as well as me; and I am sorry I spoke to you so gruff about it on Wednesday, but I had no thought then but of finding my poor girl, and I think you know me too well, Sir, to think. I should be uncivil to you after the many kindnesses you have shown to me and mine. Trade has been bad, especially in my line, for months past; and it's few holidays I have had the chance of getting, except holidays looking for work, which ain't holiday-like much, especially with no money in your pocket ; but three weeks ago I fell into a job that was likely to last for a long time to come, and might even be permanent if I gave satisfaction ; and very glad I was, and so was Lizzy. Well, Sir, I saw her Sunday, and. she asked me if I could get a day off on Tuesday without asking too much on a now job. Now, there is one thing, Sir, in being a teetotaller; I am not in the habit of losing Monday or having a day off now and then on the fuddle¹ when you're most wanted, so that I felt I could ask the foreman for a day, especially as he knew me, and no great harm done ; [Note 735.1]
so I agreed, and poor Lizzy soon arranged to go….

 

Page 7

found my brother swimming about-we two are both good swimmers-and we made for the screw steamer. The water was full of people, especially about the hull of the screw, and wo had great difficulty in avoiding them. A woman clutched me, but I got away; and I saw her go down like a stone. The Princess Alice sank as I leaped off, and I was one of the last left on board, working my way to the stern before I jumped. I took off my boots, coat, and waistcoat., and reached here in my trousers and shirt only. My brother is twenty-one years of age, and I am twenty."

= = = = = =

NOBLE EFFORTS TO SAVE LIFE.

With regard to the action of the Bywell Castle's crew, the undisputed fact that 35 men were got on board by the 22 hands in the few minutes men were likely to live in the water-such a state of things tells much more effectively than the statements of persons in mortal jeopardy, to whom every instant's delay of succour would seem an age.

MESSAGES FROM THE QUEEN AND THE PRINCE OF WALES.

The following letters have been addressed to the Lord Mayor .-
Board of Trade, S.W., September 6th, 1878.
My Lord, - I am directed by the President of the Board of Trade to inform your lordship that the Queen, who has repeatedly telegraphed to him for particulars relative to the recent terrible collision between the Princess Alice and the Bywell Castle, has now commissioned him to express Her Majesty's sincere condolence with the relatives of those who have lost their lives in, and Her Majesty's sympathy with the survivors from that fearful catastrophe. As Lord Sandon is unable to obtain the names and addresses, and is therefore precluded from communicating personally with all the sufferers from that fearful calamity, he trusts that your lordship will assist him in making known Her Majesty's gracious message of sympathy.-I have the honour to be, my lord, your most obedient servant, HENRY O. G. CALCRAFT.

Marlborough House, Pall Mall, September 6th, 1878.
My Lord,- I am directed by the. Prince anti Princess of Wales to enclose your lordship a cheque for £52 10s., in aid of the fund now being raised under your auspices for the relief of the sufferers from the late terrible calamity on the Thames, caused by the running down of the Princess Alice steamer, on the evening of the 3rd inst. I am at the time desired to wake known through you through the medium of the Press, the feelings of sorrow their Royal Highnesses experienced on hearing of this dreadful accident, and on hearing that se many of their fellow-creatures had been suddenly hurried into eternity. Their Royal Highnesses feel the deepest sympathy for the relatives of those who were drowned. on this melancholy occasion, and condole with them most sincerely in the grief and distress they must suffer from the loss which they have sustained under such terrible circumstances. - I have the honour to be, your faithful and most obedient- servant,
D. M. PROBYN, Lieutenant-General, Comptroller and Treasurer to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales

ROBBING THE DEAD.

A correspondent writes I have soon enough, and more than enough, and I hasten out of the Dockyard, there to witness the last scene in the day's tragedy. As I go through the narrow street, I hear the tramp of hurrying feet behind, and the next minute an old man, with a dark face, very suggestive of a bird of prey, is marched past at a double quick pace between two policemen. Like lightning the news flies apace-' He's been robbing the dead ! ' and did the constables once linger, and allow a crowd to gather, it would go hard with this human vulture. But they hurry him on, amid loud imprecations from man and woman, and hootings from children, and he is soon lost to sight. Sadly I make my way to the North Woolwich shore, and with the doggrel-

The Princess Alice went down in sight of shore-
Five hundred sunk to rise no more!'

-the refrain of a song composed by some unknown poet for the occasion, and sung by four cunning-looking vocalists, who were doing literally a roaring trade-ringing in my ears, I am borne by the train swiftly away."

THE NUMBER LOST.

FROM THE DAILY TELEGRAPH," TUESDAY, SEPT. 10.

Yesterday the melancholy work of recovering the dead made much progress, and it is to be hoped that the list is nearly complete. In the uncertainty as to the actual number on board at the time of the disaster, and with the impression produced at the inquest on Friday and Saturday- that there might ho 800 to account for, there remained the apprehension of a discovery that might swell the total to the very worst that has been suggested. A survivor who was in the cabin at the time of the collision gives it as his opinion that there were not more than fifteen passengers there, and several of these followed him on deck. The total of the recovered dead at night fall yesterday was 581, of whom no fewer than seventy six wore reported in the course of the day. As many as sixty-five were found at various points down the river, two at Westminster, five at Blackwall, and four at the Victoria. Docks.

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On Monday, September 9, 1878, a number of the "unrecognised dead" wore buried. The service was impressively read by the Hon. and Rev. A. Anson, Rector of Woolwich. A great concourse of people gathered, and all joined reverently in the hope that those buried as Christians, and with the rites of Christian burial, would rise again at the Day of Judgement to receive a Crown of Glory, and eater into their eternal rest.

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The autumn moon in its splendour,
Looked down on river and shore,
And the moonlight soft and tender,
Lit a scene, that for ever more
Shall bring sad notes of sorrow
And grief too deep for tears
To desolate homes on the morrow,
Where the stricken will mourn for years.

Oh ! those cries, how unavailing,
That wildly rang in the dark,
When the monster madly sailing
Dashed into our fated bark.
No heed to our captain calling,
No heed to our lamps, though bright,
Our last grains of sand are falling,
We shall see no morning light.

No ! the merciless ship rode proudly,
And struck us through the gloom ;
And the crash of our sides rang loudly
As the "Alice" went to her doom.
She sank with her side all riven,
And the waters closed o'erhead.
There was welcome for souls in heaven,
For earth had six hundred dead.

'Twas a moment of sweetest pleasure,
When death struck a myriad down,
And sent of life such treasure
In the black, cruel wave to drown.
Drowned was the infant's prattle,
As the water o'er us rushed,
And in sob and deathly rattle
The lover's words were hushed.

Not on the field of battle,
Where a hero seeks his death,
Mid strife and warlike rattle
Wore they called to yield their breath ;
But on a peaceful river,
With the smoke of their hearths in sight,
They were called from friends to sever
And sent to eternal night.

"Where is my boy, with hair all gold,
My girl with eyes so blue ?
She is just got from water cold,
But he'll never meet your view."
"Oh, take me away to my desolate home,
My husband's washed out to sea;
Oh, that each billow that hides my poor fellow
Washed its cruel cold wave o'er me."

'Tis many, ah! many a year ago
Since death such a harvest reaped ;
Since six hundred, all with health aglow,
In one watery grave were heaped.
'Tis a heavy blow at a nation's breast,
Let the nation help those left.
The dead are all in peaceful rest,
But think of those bereft.

The widow and orphan will need our care,
For the father and mother are gone;
Oh, leave them not if you've wealth to spare.
To bear their cross alone.
Give freely, yea, as God has given;
Let them not want for bread,
And a blessing to you shall be given,
"When the earth yields up her dead"

 

Sources (texts, music) & Publishing data

Click to show Sources etc
Origin Broadside
Source Title The Loss of the Princess Alice Saloon Steamer in the Thames, Sept. 3rd, 1878. An Authentic Narrative by a Survivor. Not hitherto published.
Bargery Number 735
Roud Not in the Roud Index
Earliest Date 1878
Evidence for Earliest Date Date of the event described
Latest Date 1878
Evidence for Latest Date Publication date
Comments on Song The style of the 'Narrative of a Survivor' is similar to the personification of members of the working class found in Music Hall monologues of the time and is in marked contrast to the accounts of survivors published in the Illustrated London News and elsewhere.
Source of Text National Maritime Museum Caird Library Collection of Fine art, Prints, drawings and watercolours Object ID PAD6772
Printer or Publisher Nash
Where Printed London
Other Imprints No other imprints found
First Line The autumn moon in its splendour,

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