Unexpected Assistance from New York

I was sitting in solitude, alone, at eleven o'clock, when the man of the house unexpectedly arrived. He had a parcel; in that parcel there was money from New York, and that money was for me!

No being, either Christian or pagan, if he never saw a famine, nor possesses a feeling heart, can understand what I then felt. I adored that watchful Hand that had so strangely led and upheld me in Ireland; and now, above all and over all, when my heart was sinking in the deepest despondency, when no way of escape appeared, this heavenly boon was sent! The night was spent in adoration and praise, longing for the day, when I might again hang over the "blessed pot," as the Irish called it. I lay below on a sofa, and saw no tombstones that night.

The morning came—the pot was over the fire. As soon as shops were opened, meal, bread, and milk were purchased. The man of the house went early to his business in Dublin. The gate was unlocked—the breakfast was prepared. The quantity was well-nigh doubled, though enough had always been provided before. The sight of the man was more than I wished to abide; he was again sinking—had taken nothing but a "sup," as he termed it, of some meager slop but once in the day, because his children would all die if he took it from them. The other soon followed; and while they were taking their breakfast, I was reading from New York the result of a meeting there in behalf of the Irish. This awakened gratitude toward my country unknown before; and now, should I not be unmindful of the Hand that had led me through this wilderness thus far, and in every emergency carried me almost miraculously through, if what I am about to record of the few following months, so far as self is concerned, should be withheld?

That day my mind was most active, devising how the greatest good might be effected by the little which God had intrusted to me. Indian meal, when cooked in a suitable manner, was now becoming a great favorite; this I knew how to do, and determined to use the money for this object, always cooking it myself. When this was adjusted in my mind, the remainder of the day was devoted to writing letters to America, mostly for the two objects of thanking them for what they had done, and giving them, from eye-witness, a little account of the famine. In this, the desire and even the thought was entirety withheld of receiving anything myself to give; acting entirely as a passive instrument; moving, because moved upon. Here, afterward, was the wisdom of Him who sees not as man seeth, peculiarly manifest; for had I that day, by the parcel put into my hands from New York, been in possession of a hundred pounds, the day would have been spent in going into the cabins of the starving, and distributing to the needy—the money would have soon been expended, and then no more means would have been in my power to do good. But my weakness was God's strength, my poverty His riches; and as He had shown me, all the journey through, that my dependence should be entirely on Him, so now, more than ever, it was to be made manifest. The letters crossed the ocean, found the way to the hands and hearts of those to whom they were sent, and, when in the multitude of other thoughts and cares they were by the writer forgotten as a past dream, they were returned, embodied in a printed parcel, accompanied with donations of meal, money, and clothing; and this, like the other, reached me when all means were exhausted.

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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