Last Look of Ireland, and the Summing Up

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter IX

"Shall I see thee no more, thou lov'd land of sorrow?"

The time had come when the last long adieu must he taken of a people and country, where four years and four months had been passed, and it would be impossible to put the last penciling upon a picture like this, and not pause before laying it aside, and look again at its "Lights and Shades" as a whole. In doing so, the task is more painful than was the first labor,—First, because these "Lights and Shades" are imperfectly drawn; and second, because no future touch of the artist, however badly executed, can be put on; what is "written" is "written," and what is done is done forever. My feet shall never again make their untried way through some dark glen, or wade through a miry bog, or climb some slippery crag to reach the isolated mud cabin, and hear the kind "God save ye kindly, lady; come in, come in, ye must be wairy." Never again can the sweet words of eternal life be read to the listening way-side peasant, when he is breaking stones, or walking by the way; never will the potato be shared with the family group around the basket, or the bundle of straw be unbound and spread for my couch. Never will the nominal professor, who learned his Christ through respectability, without even the shadow of a cross, again coolly say, "We do not understand your object, and do you go into the miserable cabins among the lower order and never, oh never! again will the ghastly stare of the starving idiot meet me upon the lonely mountains I have trod; never again will the emaciated fingers of a starving child be linked in supplication for a "bit of bread," as I pass in the busy street; though the painful visions will forever haunt me, yet the privilege to relieve will never again be mine in that land of sorrow. It is over. Have I acted plainly?—have I spoken plainly?—have I written plainly? This is all right,—for this no apology is made. But have all these plain actions, plain speakings, and plain writings, been performed with an eye single to the glory of God? If so, all is as it should be; if not, "Mene, Tekel" must be written.

These pages speak plainly of Clergymen, of Landlords, of Relief Officers, of the waste of distributions, and of Drinking Habits. Are these things so? Glad should I be to know, that in all these statements a wrong judgment has been formed, and that they have been and are misrepresented. Yes, let me be proved even a prejudiced writer, an unjust writer, a partial writer, rather than that these things shall be living, acting truths. But alas! Ireland tells her own story, and every stranger reads it.