My Friend Peter

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER I (18) start of chapter

In an honest compatriot, Peter C——, to whom I speedily became known, I saw the type of the true-hearted Irishman, who not only maintained the character of his faith by his own conduct, but would make any sacrifice for the honour of his church.

Peter, commencing with little indeed, had worked his way with resolute energy, and was then a prosperous man, with something laid by for the rainy day. The new church, which the Archbishop was to consecrate in a few days after my departure, was the delight of Peter's heart; and from Peter I heard how grandly the little congregation responded to the appeal of their pastor, who, his Glengarry blood notwithstanding, had the face of a Spanish saint. Peter gloried in the site, at once beautiful and commanding—in the solid well-made bricks, and the manner in which they were laid—in the buttresses, which he patted with a caressing hand, as if he were encouraging them to do their duty faithfully; but, above all, in the steeple, which could be seen far and wide, 'I collected 100l. myself from Protestants for it; and what is more, they helped to clear the foundations, which was done in a single day. 'Tis the blessed truth I'm telling you,' said my friend Peter, with emphatic triumph.

Peter, like all sober and steady Irishmen whom I have met with in America, had a keen relish for 'real estate,' and being already possessed of an odd 'lot' here and there, he had his eye on other bits in convenient sites,—I shall not say where, as in that case I should be deliberately violating the promise of strict secrecy imposed on me as the condition of his unreserved confidence. I trust Peter will have gratified the object of his honest ambition before these pages reach Pictou; but if not, he may feel sure that the identical 'bits' will never be even indicated by me either to friend or foe.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America