The Converts

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXII (8) | Start of Chapter

Attended church and met the converts, and whether they had changed the Latin version for the English, in changing their prayer books, and knew not the difference, I know not, but only a few among them could read. I visited the converts, and talked with them on their great change, and found them as I found their Papist neighbors, in all respects but one. They invariably answered me, when I inquired concerning the great change that had taken place in their minds, "We do not worship images." But what the new birth implied, or any work of conviction and operation of the Holy Spirit on their hearts, they could tell nothing, for they seemed to know nothing. But here I would be understood. I did not talk with all the converts of Dingle, and would not presume to say but that God has done a great work there; if he has, man cannot overthrow it; if he has not, man cannot support even what they seem to have. But this is certain, that they have the unadulterated Word of God; and if they cannot read it, they hear it, and some seed may be sown on good ground, and bear fruit. I visited the Protestant and national schools in Dingle; the infant school was under good regulations; the national school in so boisterous a state, that, with knocking and calling, we could not be heard, and were obliged to go aloft into the second room, and there things seemed but a little improved. We had some specimens of grammar and geography from the noisy urchins, which would puzzle the most learned of any language to define, and we went out with a rabble of boys in pursuit, calling out, "American! American!" till we reached our homes.

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.