Main content

Title: O'Brien, Maria Wright to O'Brien (n. Greeves), Anne, 1841
CollectionThe Transatlantic Letters of an Irish Quaker Family_1818-1877 [B. Jackson]
SenderO'Brien, Maria Wright
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationstudent
Sender ReligionQuaker
OriginPhiladelphia, Penn., USA
DestinationLake Erie, NY, USA
RecipientO'Brien (n. Greeves), Anne
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1652
Genrefamily news, school, socialising, travelling, going back home
TranscriptPenn Township nr Philadelphia 4th 7th mo 1841

Dear Father
Thine and Joseph's letter of the 25th mailed on 28th came safely to hand yesterday afternoon and I embrace this
early opportunity of answering it, chinking that having written J Kerr you will soon expect an answer to that; but
I thought better to wait awhile and hear from you again, as I concluded that some of you would write again before
a great while and was very glad indeed to get a letter, as the last one I had you all seemed in such bad spirits and
every prospect seemed so gloomy. What a contrast between that and the last in which I am pleased to hear that
you are getting on with the mill and other things so well.
Joseph says that Thomas health is not so good as usual, which I am sorry to hear and am of his opinion that
the confinement at school was too much for him. I was telling Aunt about it and she says I must tell Thomas to
get up early and inhale the perfume of the camomile bed while the dew is upon it. Tell him from me to make a
free use of the decoction of feverwort. It did him so much good when he was first taken. He and Joseph could
gather enough of a first day afternoon to last him as a tea through the week. Tell Joseph not to neglect it and tell
Thomas not to drink any water but to use the tea altogether as a drink. Now I do hope thee will make them do
all that I have told them, for I have so much faith in the feverwort and dont forger for it is now in its prime and
should be gathered for drying. I am very sorry to hear that Uncle Hugh [McMillen junior] is so low. I am afraid
that I shall not see him again, and also Mary Smith. What a silly woman she is not to try some other doctor
besides ... I went out to Aunt's a week ago and had intended to go back on second day but was attacked with
something like disentary, which weakened me so much that I could not sit up for five minutes, and Aunt insisted
that I send in word that I would spend at least a week with her to get recruited. I am quite well now and will go
in town tomorrow, I expect.
Our school will keep only a week longer, I suppose, and then break up for vacation - that is till the first of 9th
month. So I will not be in school any mote till I return home, which will be about the time I left last fall, that is
the last of 9th month. I will tell thee the way my time will be spent till then. Aunt's housekeeper is going to spend
a few weeks with het relations about a day's journey from here and Aunt wishes me to stay here while she is gone,
which will be 4 or 5 weeks; and although it will be a great confinment to me I cannot refuse - it would be very
ungrateful after her kindness. After being here I have several visits to pay in Philadelphia which will occupy several
weeks, and one or two they insist that I spend a week but I will not stay more than a day or two at each. After finishing all my visits I am to spend a week in New Brunswick, New Jersey with a young girl who boarded with me at Caroline Flings. I had a letter a few days ago and she says that she will feel very much hurt if I do not pay her a visit, as I will pass through that place on my way Co New York; and her mother also insists on my stopping.
I may visit in Philadelphia, and stopping with them. The young girl's name is Henrietta Suydam, a cousin to that
gentleman who was murdered in New Brunswick last winter, which no doubt you have heard of, it made such a
stir in the papers. Her mother is a widow and she is an only child with the exception of a step-brother, who is
married. She is a most amiable girl, I think, and we formed an attachment that will not very soon be broken of[f]
- and indeed I have been very fortunate since I came here in forming many agreeable acquaintances and such as
I think have been very improving to me.
Becoming a member of the "Social and Literary Circle" threw me into the society of many that I would never
have seen otherwise, many of whom are very intelligent and well informed young people, and I being from (he
west and of course a kind of a lion among them, I had a great many pleasant and improving conversations on the
habits, manners, customs, improvments and resources of the west, of which I thought I know nothing until asked
about them and found a pleasure in telling them who seemed to take an interest in listening. It is not more than
a week ago I spent an evening at Mr. Kelly's in 5th street, and spent nearly the whole evening in conversation with
his oldest son, a lad lately returned from school and almost as inquisitive as a Yankee. He seemed as if he never
would be tired of asking me questions or let me have an opportunity to talk with anyone else. At last I began to
feel really annoyed, for he was so earnest in asking questions about making sugar and about the Indians and how
they made their houses before they had any saw mills and how they ground their corn before they had any grist
mills, that he did not observe that nearly all the rest had quit talking and were amusing themselves at the expense
of his "spirit of Inquiry" as they chose to call it. At last he saw what they were at and being very diffident he
blushed and stammered out something in the shape of an apology for being so inquisitive &c. I was sorry for him
- he did not think at all how it looked. He was so earnest that I could not help thinking it was something would
do when the spirit of inquiry moved him, for I think that he and Mr. Kelly have the bump of inquisitivness about
equally, and prominently developed.
But I am digressing from my subject, which was how I will spend my time after a week at New Brunswick.
I will spend as much as 3 weeks in New York, much of which will be at Bayside with Thomas & Eliza and about
the last week in 9th month will be ready to set out for home. I intend going out to Germantown before I go and
while in New York will try to get to see Cousin Mary Beale. Aunt and I have been busy all morning getting out
the books she is going to send and packing them as loosely as possible in order to take the dimensions and get a
box made for them to go in. Aunt wished to have sent them sooner, as early as the opening of navigation would
have permitted, but she kept thinking that I would conclude to go soon and I had better have charge of them as
far as N.Y. at least, but now she will send them soon. I think that we will have no difficulty in sending them as
far as N.Y. I know a young gentleman who is an agent for the Railroad company and often goes to N.Y. and I have
no doubt he will be willing to take charge of the box if I ask him, as he appears a very kind and accommodating
person. He visited at Mrs. Fling's in the winter, where I became acquainted with him.
I am so glad that thy health is so much better and Aunt says tell thee that she thinks that currants and different
kinds of berries ate good for thee and recommends currants very strongly for Thomas and for Mother's bilous
complaint. She says there is nothing like rheubarb taken in small quantities every night going to bed, and thinks
she is a fitstrate doctress; and she Is very much pleased to be humoured, with which I have acquired the tact to do
now, though at first I was very much annoyed with some of her whims. However all turned out to my advantage,
though I would have been well sooner if she had let me alone. She made me some kind of a health drink in which
I will not say there was a dozen kinds of leaves, for I do not know, but there was no particular taste - for there
were all kinds of tastes from the nausious bitter of the camomile, the soft soothing fragrance of the tea balsam —
and such mugs and mugs of it as I must drink. I thought of the poor fellow' ... syble made him a "pert drink"
which, however much he drunk, had only one head of catnip to flavor it - which had in its favor that his dose
had hardly any flavor while mine had almost every taste in the nation, except all the good ones excepted, but
drink it I must and I made the best of it: but I did not dare to make any very wry faces. I thought that I would
have prefered thy dose of through wort580, much as I disliked it. I must close or I will not have any space for Joseph
and Thomas. With love to thyself and mother and the children as if named, I am

thy affectionate daughter
Maria O'Brien