A Christian Sister

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter VIII (15) | Start of Chapter

Monday morning, rose at five, to meet my engagement with the boys, where the lumpers were to be in readiness, and bade my hostess adieu, with her scolded servant and hopeful son, whose every look and action reminded me of Solomon's rod, the nicely kept Testament, and the bar of whiskey, and I said, on going out,

"I would not live always, I ask not to stay,"

if I must stay in a tabernacle like this. The rain poured, and passing a few doors, I was spoken to by a daughter-in-law of my hostess, who invited me to stop a few days; this was an unexpected kindness. She belonged to the society of Christian Brethren, and seemed to understand the gospel principle of treating strangers, better than many who are sitting under the teaching of learned theologians. "I have staid," she said "in the Protestant church, which had the 'form without the power,' till I could stay no longer." She visited with me in the houses of those of like faith, whom I found very spiritual; but I fear in danger of running into the same error that others in America of their belief have done, viz. that of being so afraid of the law, as having no law at all. Father Mathew, they said, had been a great curse; because all he did was under the law; and they really regretted he had ever been among them; though some families had had more bread, they acknowledged. And I was severely rebuked for wishing to see him; and, as a Christian, I had no right to have anything to do with him.

Had I never seen the hydra-headed monster, bigotry, before, I should have put myself on the defensive; but here, reader, the case is hopeless. With but one eye, one ear, and a darkened understanding, boasting heart, and half a dozen tongues, he has so much religion, he has none at all, or nothing that is tangible. He stalks through the earth wielding a rod of iron, and woe to the victim who comes in his way; boasting of being taught of God, he lacks the first principles of religion, viz., charity and humility, without which all is lost. But all such people have a certain race to run, and if the seeds of saving grace are sown in their hearts, this grace will sooner or later break off the fetters. I said no more of Father Mathew, but went to hear him two days in succession.

What a pity, pity, that the reasoning faculties of the Irish as a nation have been left so uncultivated, and that instinct and impulse have so powerful an ascendancy. But above all, what a miserable religion is it that does not humble but exalt the possessor!

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.