Test of Orthodoxy

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XVIII (14) | Start of Chapter

The mother put a basket of potatoes into a tub, and washed them with her feet, and suspended them over the fire to boil for supper. Everything was in train for a repast, but making my exit as civilly as I could, after heartily thanking them (for their hospitality could not be disputed), my lodgings were reached, with an escort which had increased from cabin to cabin, and from passengers on the way; some asking for books, some inquiring about America, and one among the better learned asked, "What I thought of the 'Blessed Virgin?'" "This will cut the garment," retorted a woman. "As ye think of the mother, so ye'd love the Son, and if yer tracts say nothin' of her, we would not read 'em." I found in this town more suspicion that my books were dangerous, than in any other. The just reason was, that a well-meaning person, with more zeal than knowledge, had scattered through it tracts, treating entirely on controversial points between Romanism and Protestantism; which so aroused the bishop, that he had issued an edict that no book or tract should be received from a Protestant, unless its contents were first ascertained to be of the genuine kind. Happily for me, mine were unexceptionable, and when they found that neither my books nor myself were designed to proselyte them to a party, but lead them to Christ, they rejoiced exceedingly, and received the books with great cordiality during my whole stay in the place.

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.