Sketch of a Christian Missionary, such as Ireland needs

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XXV (13) | Start of Chapter

This family's benevolence was on the lips of all the poor in the vicinity; though with a stinted salary, that salary is divided among the children of want, till, as I was informed, oftentimes a scanty supply is left for their own necessities. Would to God, Ireland could boast many more such among the full-fed, over-paid clergy of the country. Here I found a devoted, active, efficient Bible reader, with a salary of thirty pounds a year, who goes from house to house among all classes, and explains the Word of God to those who have not access to it. He met in most cases with a kind reception, and why? Because he went with the love of God in his heart, and talked of this love; held up Christ and him crucified, which is all the sinner needs. If love will not melt the flinty heart, will bitterness do it? I truly believe that the Word of God would not only have been received with willingness, but sought after by the greater part of the peasantry of Ireland, had it been presented with no sectarian denunciations, and had all the teachers, like this one, been humble, self-denying, and kindly. It is a most important item in the qualification of teachers, that they understand human nature in its various developements. It is not enough that they can pronounce well, elevate and depress the voice according to the rules of punctuation, expatiate on the eloquence of St. Paul, or the sin of Ananias. They should know well not only the broad avenues to the heart, but the narrow streets; yes, and every repulsive forbidden alley. They should know, too, the time of day when these paths can most prudently and easily be trodden. There is not a heart but has its waxings and wanings; there is not a temperament but has its ebbings and flowings; and, like the skilful mariner, they should know where to cast anchor, and when to trim the sails. They should know when in deep water, and when near shoals and quicksands. In travelling the entire coast of Ireland, I needed not to see a Bible-reader, to know his abilities or faithfulness. The Irish peasantry have an uncommonly just conception of propriety and impropriety, right and wrong, benevolence and covetousness. A dabster at his trade, or a filthy-lucre laborer is quickly discerned.

"Lay not careless hands," &c.

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.