New York: Sold at the Anti-Slavery Office, 1858. 7 3/8” x 5¼”. Brown cloth over boards. Pp. 312. Good: front cover split at joint, nearly detached but holding; light to moderate wear, spotting and small stains to covers and throughout; owner name inked to front free endpaper and penciled in two spots.
This is a travelogue written by an American woman who spent several years working as a missionary, humanitarian and writer in the United Kingdom and Europe, Asenath Nicholson.
Asenath Hatch Nicholson was born in Vermont in 1792. She was trained as a teacher in her hometown before she married and moved to New York. She opened a boardinghouse based on the tenets of temperance and vegetarianism, and in 1835 penned what is believed to be the first American vegetarian cookbook, Nature's Own Book. Widowed in 1844, Nicholson left for Ireland and spent 15 months walking the country. She distributed bibles, lived among the poor and witnessed the early days of the potato blight. She returned to Ireland in 1847 where she ran a soup kitchen, organized relief efforts and published two accounts of her experiences during the Great Famine. Nicholson left Ireland in 1848 but continued to live in Europe until 1852. In 1850 she was an American delegate to the Peace Conference in Frankfurt.
This book, Nicholson's last, was published after her return to the United States. It is a journal of her travels relayed in several short anecdotes, which in her preface she described as “simple facts, taken by personal observation.” She explained, “long experience in travelling has shown me that the little things, the common things . . . are the under-currents which throw up and throw out all that is great, all that is needful, all that is to be valued.”
The majority of this work recounts Nicholson's travels through Ireland, Scotland and England. Topics include the natural beauty of regions like the Isle of Wight and the Kerry Mountains, with historical anecdotes about Empress Josephine, Queen Grana and her castles. Much of the text relates to the Great Famine and poverty, including one section on beggars in Ireland:
“Numerous are the evils attendant on beggary, beside the annoyance to those who are solicited. The suffering of the beggar, by cold and hunger, the contemptuous manner in which he is treated, soon divest him of all self-respect.”
Fifteen pages were dedicated to Nicholson's experiences at the opening of the 1851 World's Fair in London. She described the palace, the grand events and excitement, with special note given to her observations of the different classes of people that were in attendance. She also expressed her admiration for England's departure from slavery:
“Can she not write on her banner, 'All men are born free and equal,' with more propriety than can her wayward child, who has run away that she might be free, and set up a shop to forge bonds and thumbscrews that the black man may be a slave?”
After the fair, she was invited to join a party of Londoners on a trip to Paris, where she commented on the charities and provisions made for the poor in that city, as well as her time with a Jewish family in Frankfurt, Germany.
A scarce journal of an adventurous woman's humanitarian work and travels in Europe. OCLC shows 16 holdings. Good. Item #7065