Ironically I was reading an immigrant ship journal today, dated 1863 (UK - NZ), which included this reference (shows the song was popular in the UK in the early 60s):
"We have now been two months or eight weeks out of sight of land; and as I tread the deck of our lonely bark, how often the words of the song occur to me.
While the waves are round me breaking,
As I pace the deck alone,
And my eye is vainly seeking,
Some green leaf to rest upon,
What would I not give to wander,
Where my old companions dwell.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder,
Verily I may sing with a vengeance, for I have good cause 'Hard times come again no more'."
Isle of Beauty, Fare-thee-well (click)