Fellow Passengers

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter I (3) | Start of Chapter

My chum now entered; we were shut in—and, like or dislike, there was no alternative; snugly packed as we were, there was no escape, and we immediately set ourselves about, as Eve's daughters are wont to do, ascertaining each other's pedigree, object, and destination.

I found her to be an Irish lady, born and bred in the city of Dublin, but she had passed five years in the city of New York, to which she had become greatly attached. She had left her husband and three children to go on business to Ireland, and though she cast many a "longing, lingering look" back to them, yet she never forgot that she must do good unto all when opportunity presented, and she never neglected the performance of that duty, when necessity required it. Her tall and noble figure, her high open forehead, united with an unpretending though dignified manner, and the benevolence of her heart, which beamed in her placid eye, made her to me an object not only of interest, but of warm attachment. Often when she returned to the berth from some errand of kindness among the sick and distressed have I said in my heart,"Who would not love such an angel of mercy?" Thus was the beginning of my journey prosperous, and all anxiety for the morrow was banished by the blessings of to-day.

Our cabin companions consisted of the widow of a clergyman, with her son and daughter, who were returning from New York to England, their native country; an Irishman, who had spent the last twenty-five years in America, a naval officer, an editor from the United States (a genuine American), and the young Irish wife of the mate, on a visit to "her people." These, with one exception, gave more cause of praise than blame, and made me quite willing to balance accounts with them all when we parted.

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.