Passage to Dublin

I sailed from that harbor with a heart full of gratitude to all with whom I had been conversant, and full of sorrow, that my eyes would never again see those kind friends who had made my stay so pleasant, and the last farewell of the kind Theobald Mathew, and the hospitable, intelligent Beales, who were ready at the packet, was the finishing touch to sensations already too pressing upon me.

The captain had generously given my passage, and ordered the steward to see that all and everything was prepared for my comfort. This, by my own negligence, or in some other way, was not performed, and the night to me was a sad one. When all had stepped on shore, and the ring of the packet bell died on the ear, I sat down upon the side of the vessel, and with feelings much like those when sailing out of New York, a passive, stoical indifference, amounting almost to selfishness, passed over me; and I turned away, and could not or would not look upon the sweet hills that hung over the Lee, and scarcely did I see the wave of the handkerchiefs on that lovely South Terrace, as the steamer sailed, where I had enjoyed so much. The passage was rough, the wind high, and the night long, cold and dreary. Wrapping my cloak about me, I had reclined under a little awning on the deck, not once asking for a berth in the cabin, and not till a stranger aroused me, and said, "It is both imprudent and late to be stopping here," did my stupor leave me in the least. Then it was too late to find a bed, and the remainder of the night was passed as uncomfortably as it commenced.

It was not wholly the parting with kind friends, or shutting my eyes forever on waters, flowers, rich valleys and hills, that so unnerved me; but it was Ireland, that land of song and of sorrow, that I was leaving forever. It was Ireland, where I had been so strangely sent, so strangely preserved, and to which I was so strangely linked, by sights of suffering and unparalleled woe. It was Ireland that was still drinking that fathomless cup of misery extreme, whose bottom has yet never been sounded, and whose brim is still running over, welling up and oozing out, in spite of long and deep draughts continually tasted. The visitor among strangers, who is receiving tokens of kindness and presents of remembrance, in the routine of other engagements may not examine and appreciate all in possession, till the hurry is past, the visit ended; and then coolly and calmly the parcel is opened, and every memento, however valuable or trifling, has a just estimate, if judgment be competent to the task. My parcel was left untouched that night; passive, enduring, as if covered suddenly by an avalanche, which only left room for breathing, with no room for struggling, was all that could effectually be done.

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

Annals of the Famine in Ireland

Read Annals of the Famine in Ireland at your leisure and help support this free Irish library.

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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