Perilous position

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XI (11) | Start of Chapter

The conversation now turned upon the subject of giving the Bible to the common people; the Catholic urging that when they could not read it, what possible good could it do? And that it was so little valued by them, whenever they had any of it, they used it for wrapping-paper, and often for lighting their pipes. The debate was ended by passengers crowding in, so that the ride was quite uncomfortable. I had previously asked the privilege of riding outside, to escape the old man, but was denied, because the coachman said it was quite unsafe. The door now opened, and the coachman invited me to take a seat upon the top, promising to make me as comfortable as possible. I would not refuse, because I had asked the favor; and though the eminence looked perilous, it must be tried. There were no seats upon the top, and I was fixed upon the edge, my feet hanging down, with a heavy coarse sack flung across them to keep them warm, which I was obliged to hold in one hand, and with the other to grasp a wire, to secure me from falling from this dizzy height. This position I found so uneasy, I was obliged to draw my feet upon the top of the caravan, and in this cramped condition rode fifteen miles to Dublin. Here, in my old lodgings, I found additional welcome, for it was followed by an invitation to make the house my home, free from charges. My trunks had been well minded, and the kindness here seemed but the other extremity of the chain, beginning at Doctor White's.

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.