The Girl of the Mountain

Another interesting character, the antipodes of the mountain girl, resided in the family of Mr. Bourne. Nature had endowed her with good sense, education had enlarged her intellect, and traveling had given her that ease of manner and address that made her accessible to all, without stooping from that dignity which properly repels all uncourteous familiarity. She had passed through great reverses:—had been to India—there had a handsome legacy bequeathed—was shipwrecked and lost all;—went to South and North America—her health was destroyed, but her heart subdued, and brought into sweet submission to Christ, and she resolved to spend the remainder of her days in doing good to others, however humble their station might be. She had heard of this family, stationed on this desolate spot, who had interesting sons and daughters that wished for instruction. There she went, and determined to die and be buried there, secluded from the world. She had written her travels, but had placed her manuscripts in hands who were not to publish them till after her death. On that bleak coast she had found where a company of seventeen shipwrecked sailors had been buried, in a mound, and she had requested to lie near their resting-place. She took me to walk, and showed me the forbidding-looking spot. I could scarcely think her sincere, but she assured me that it was a lovely spot to her. She was then perhaps not yet fifty, and why she should think of soon dying and lying there I could not tell; but the intelligent and accomplished Miss Wilson died in a few months after, in the full hope of a happy immortality, and was buried with the shipwrecked sailors on that rocky coast.

"She sleeps in unenvied repose, and I would not wake her."

Here in a humble cabin the kind Miss Carey commenced a little school, to do what she could to keep alive the scattered lambs of that desolate parish, in order that she might give them, through some relief society, a little food once a day, and teach them to read. Her cabin was soon filled, and without the promise of any reward she labored on, happy to see the avidity with which these poor children received instruction, and for a year she continued her labor of love with but little remuneration, and at last, with much regret, was obliged to return them to their mountain home—perhaps to perish. It was affecting everywhere in the famine, to witness the pale emaciated children, walking barefoot for miles to school, and study and work till three o'clock, for the scanty meal of stirabout, or piece of bread. Dr. Edgar had established an industrial school among the tenantry of Samuel Bourne, but when I visited it no other instruction had been given but knitting and sewing. It was at Samuel Bourne's that I met with James Tuke, whose faithful researches and candid recitals of the state of Erris and Connaught have lived and will live, in spite of all opposition. I rode with him from Rosport to Ballina, and many a poor suffering one received not only a kind word, but a shilling or half-crown, as we passed along. His friendship for Ireland overlooked all accidental discrepancies in that misjudged people, and from effects he went to causes, and placed the defects at the door of the lawful owner.

Read "Annals of the Famine in Ireland" at your leisure

Annals of the Famine in Ireland

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This book still has the power to shock and sadden even though the events described are ever-receding further into the past. When you read, for example, of the poor widowed mother who was caught trying to salvage a few potatoes from her landlord's field, and what the magistrate discovered in the pot in her cabin, you cannot help but be apalled and distressed.

The text of this new edition has professionally been reset and an index added to the paperback.


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