A Beautiful Gem

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXVI (19) | Start of Chapter

"Will ye walk through the glen, ma'am?" A road of comfortable width, richly bordered with wild flowers for three-quarters of a mile from the cottage, opens to the eye a rare treat of wonder. A wall of stone rising above the head, upon each side, as smooth as if sawed, and appearing as if once united, overhung with rich foliage, especially the ivy, which in rich fantastical festoons is hanging and twining in every part; and upon one side a part of the wall seems set aside for more favored ornament, having a curtain of ivy, knotted at top in the centre, as if over a window, then running on either hand a distance of three yards, it falls gracefully down upon the wall, gradually coming to a point as if trimmed with shears. Between these graceful hangings the wall is entirely smooth, and water is continually percolating down its surface, giving a monotonous murmur in the stillness of the glen. As I gazed, supposing the skill of the gardener had arranged this unparalleled ivy curtain, and clustered these knots upon the top, which were three in number, a peasant approached, "Good morrow kindly, ma'am; and did ye come far in the glen?" I answered, "I am fixed to this spot. The gardener must possess exquisite skill to have fitted upon a wall such drapery as this!" "The hand of the mighty God, ma'am. Nothin' else that planted it there—no gardener has ever touched a hap'orth, ma'am, not a ha'porth." "And what a mighty God must the maker of all this be! What will become of you and me, sir, when these rocks shall be melted, and these mountains around us flee away?" "Ah! that's true for ye, ma'am, I've often haird this world's to be burnt some day or other. That's true, God help us." I was left alone, fixed in admiration for a time; then walked on till a gate and wall told me the glen was terminated. Returned, and took a second view of the enchanted spot.

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.