An English Prophecy

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter II (2) | Start of Chapter

A cleanly woman, knitting upon a wall, told me she was English; had been in Dublin a year; her health was poor, and she had come out for an airing. "But oh! these miserable beggars. They think they shall get free; but England is so grabbing they never will; and besides there is an ancient prophecy that England is to fight and conquer the whole world, and give them all the gospel."

"Where did you find this prophecy?"

"They say it's in the Bible."

"To what church do you belong?"

"To the Protestant."

"You should read the Bible for yourself, and see if you can find such a prophecy."

"I've a prayer-book"—

Leaving this learned theologian, I found a woman sitting upon a stone, with a basket of gooseberries by her side, from which she had sold but three halfpence farthing's worth since the preceding morning.

"I have three children to feed," said she, "and God knows how I can do it; when they were babies around my feet, I could feed 'em, and put decent clothes on their bodies; but now I can get no work."

For a halfpenny she poured twice the value into my bag, which I refused; when, with the tear in her eye, she said, "You would give more if you had it, and you speak a kind word to the poor; and what's a handful of gooseberries?" Turning to the old men who were breaking stones, I said to them, "You are aged, and how much do you have for this labor?"

"Sixpence ha'penny a day, ma'am."

"Is that all?"

" Ah! that is better than idleness," said the younger, "and my wife gets a job now and then which helps us a little."

Ireland’s Welome to the Stranger is one of the best accounts of Irish social conditions, customs, quirks and habits that you could wish for. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, was an American widow who travelled extensively in Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine and meticulously observed the Irish peasantry at work and play, as well as noting their living conditions and diet. The book is also available from Kindle.