Tetotalism unfashionable

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter IV (4) | Start of Chapter

The reader will not think that the flowers and shrubbery, the politeness and attention of the people of Kilbride, had so won upon me as to dim my vision to all that is unseemly, when I add that in this intelligent, refined, and religious little party, I felt that a wiser and holier Being might say, "I have somewhat against thee." Here was a sudden check upon my happy evening, when, to my surprise, I saw the wine giving its color in the cup. So long had I been accustomed to view it as an evil and bitter thing, that I thought all Christians felt the same, since the Lord commands us not to "look upon it when it is red," "when it moveth itself aright;" and especially since in America it is generally believed that in Ireland all classes of the people have got rid of the sin of intemperance. I had seen it before on Protestant tables, but did not expect it among the clergy; but I had many things to learn, and this fact was one, that this heaven-inspired movement of temperance in Ireland not only owes its effectual origin to the Papists, but is continued and supported mostly by them. May God in mercy to poor Ireland open the eyes of the officers of the church, and the leading men among the nobility, to act as he would have them act. I looked back on New England twenty-five years ago, and then saw the clergy and nobility demurring whether it was sinful to drink in "moderation." I looked upon them now, and heard them unitedly cry out, "Touch not, taste not, handle not, but shun the appearance of evil," and I looked upon this lovely family down the vista of a few short years, hoping and believing that they too would be emancipated, and walk forth unshackled from tyrant custom and tyrant appetite.

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.