Morning Levee

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XVI (12) | Start of Chapter

But sleep or no sleep, the Sabbath dawned pleasantly on this wicked den, and I hoped to be first in the kitchen; but to my chagrin a goodly number were in waiting, and in ten minutes from my landing at the bottom of the stairs, not less than a score had arranged themselves, making sure of a suitable stand or sit, where the most favorable gape could be secured. Nor had one wasted a precious moment too long at the toilet. Some stood with hair erect, some with an apology for a shirt, and some with remnants of coats; some with waistbands sufficiently strong to hold both hands and despairing legs, hanging with a deadly grasp by a tatter here and there; some with dresses turned over their heads, and some pinned about their waists; some with cloaks, and some with caps, and all with naked feet. They had all got most quietly fixed, when I gathered up my effects, put them in charge of the girl, and hurried into the glen, stopping neither to warn nor rebuke.—A morning long to be remembered.

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.