Improved Quarters

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XIX (18) | Start of Chapter

I took some potatoes and bread with them, while they dined on roast veal, pork, and cabbage, the good woman saying it was Easter Sunday, and the family expected something new. It was evident here that the reading of the Scriptures was not so much needed, as the right practising of their principles. When the teacher called to invite me with him to tea, I waited not for a second invitation, and when I had reached his house, my lady sent word that she could not lodge me, though she had promised to do so. The schoolmaster, who seemed to hold the keys of the Protestant part of the parish, kept me quiet till half-past ten, by assuring me he could fix me in comfortable lodgings at almost any hour. We went to the house of a Methodist, but they were in bed; went away, and demurred awhile. "We must return," said my persevering gallant, "and knock them up." It was done, and the servant gave me a tidy bed in a tidy room, and long life to the good people of the house, whose kind salute in the morning emphatically impressed me with the force of the sweet passage, "I was a stranger and ye took me in." I was urged to take breakfast, and no charges but that of being "faithful unto death."

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.