|Title:||O'Brien, Maria Wright to O'Brien, Joseph Sinton, 1841|
|Collection||The Transatlantic Letters of an Irish Quaker Family_1818-1877 [B. Jackson]|
|Sender||O'Brien, Maria Wright|
|Origin||Philadelphia, Penn., USA|
|Destination||Lake Erie, NY, USA|
|Recipient||O'Brien, Joseph Sinton|
|Genre||books, studying, socialising, family news, work prospects|
|Transcript||Dear Brother Joseph|
I was highly gratified to see thy last letter in connection with fathers. Thee writes in so much better spirits than
formerly. How pleasant that part of the country must look now- everything in the full verdure of June. Howl
would like to take a walk in the woods now, and even much earlier in the summer and spring, to gather plants for
botany of which I am very fond and I think thee will like it very much. I have had the pleasure of analyzing several
rare species ... but wild flowers are preferable as you can see them in a state of nature and can know their natural
habits and see where and how they grow — which is of great use in botanical investigations and facilitates in many
cases discovery of the classes, genera and species to which a plant belongs.
Thee wishes me to bring my books home with me: most assuredly I will, such as I have. Many that I have
studied belong to Mrs. Fling lent me - but I have all my French books, a Botany, a Geography and an Adas of
the Heavens and some others that I think thee will like to study. I took some lessons in Arithmetic in vulgar and
decimal fractions, so that now I think that I could teach, whether I would be willing to take the sum of money
that Squire Pitcher offered me or not. I did not however pay much attention to figures as I knew that Father could
teach us all that was necessary in that branch, and I thought that I had better learn other things that I did not have
an opportunity of learning. I find that painting does not agree with me and therefore [have] not become proficient
in that branch as I would like, and Mrs. Fling said that I would soon learn it as I had a natural talent for it. I painted
two small pieces and one large one of fruit and flowers. I wished to have taken some lessons in landscape painting
but found that I could not stand it. I can embroider in silk and worsted and do all kinds of wax and shell flowers
and shell-work boxes and baskets; and a sort of basket called coral baskets and two or three kinds of work bags,
and do a kind of worsted work that is very nice and very much praised — and bring them home with me so that
if they will be of any use I will have them.
I have studied botany and understand it pretty well in theory, and all that is required to make me perfect is
practice in it. Chemistry I have studied a good [deal?] but find it rather a dry subject without apparatus – though I think I could teach it as well as anyone without apparatus - as well as philosophy in which I have become perfect in by teaching it. I studied astronomy in a small work but have now got a geography and atlas of the heavens which I like much better: though I have had it but a short time and have not had much time to study it, yet I am going to bring out with me to Aunt’s and devote a half hour each evening in tracing out the constellations. Besides having all my lessons I have read a great deal – I have so many books brought to me by my acquaintances and Mrs. Fling has a great many. I suppose that Father would think I might as well not have read such as Byron’s works and Moor’s “Lallah Rookh” and several such works – many of Shakespeare’s plays. But I have read some useful works too and studied history more than I ever did before. I have just finished Irving', Sketch Book" and commenced
a very long work called Rural Lire in England by Howert. I think that Father would he delighted with it: It contains
a great many useful hurts to country people. It is a new publication and I think that you could get it in Buffalo
lo be sure there is another work by Howett which I hear spoken of very highly and intend reading when I finish
the one I am now at; some like it better than the Rural Life, it is Howett's Visits to Remarkable Places. It is a
smaller work in two volumes and from what I hear of it I think thee would like it better than the other How I
wish that thee had some of the books that I have not had time to read - but it will take thee a few weeks to read
the encyclopedias through and there is anything almost that thee could think of in it and thee gets all that is
necessary on any subject without such a long drawn out ... round of reading and study. But really my hand is
getting tired - I have written all this without stopping 5 minutes. Aunt is asleep so I am alone by myself I will
finish this letter when I go to town.
Phila 12th 7mo.
I will now try to finish my letter after so long a time. I am
now in town and on second day the 5th of July there was
no school as that day was independence. Mrs Fling went to
New York to spend a week there and in New Brunswick.
There is but a few scholars and we have nice times. Mrs
Fling came home on 7th day and has decided to vacate the
school tomorrow or next day and then I expect to go out to aunt’s.
Oh! I had like to have forgot to tell thee about a picnic
party I was on a few weeks ago; our "Social Circle" and
another called "The Round Table" joined and there were
several others invited, in all about 70. We went out to the
banks of the Wissohicon, a branch of the Schuylkill about
the size of the Cattaraugus, and a most romantic place it is.
We went in three omnibusses and had Frank Johnsons
colored minstrals with us. They rode on the top of the
omnibusses and we drove slowly along on the banks of
the river and the band played a great many beautiful tunes
which sounded beautiful revirbrating from the hill on either side. We passed Girard College and Hill Cemetery and at last arrived at the Falls of the Schuylkill where the
gentlemen had ordered an elegant supper. About an hour after supper we had strawberries and cream handed
round and everything in such profusion. The ladies were nearly all dressed in while as were also many of the
gentlemen - and upon the whole I never enjoyed myself better in my life. I went with the President of out circle,
whose name is Robert Knight. They had a great deal of fun introducing me to some that I did not know as "lady
presidentress, which was at first rather confusing to me, making me so conspicuous, but I soon got accustomed
to it and did not mind it at all. He was also the president of the committee on arrangments, so thee sees I was quite
honored. I expect to go on a sailing parry up the Delaware or the Schuylkill if nothing happens. I would have gone
to Chester last week but I was not in town - they went in an evening on a moonlight excursion - seven of our
I was at meeting yesterday morning at Cherry Street and heard a long sermon from George Trueman at
Yearly Meeting. I heard Lucretia Mott, the celebrated abolitionist who went to England to the world convention
- she is the most eloquent female speaker I have ever heard. I think that I will send a newspaper to thee when
I am about leaving here for N.Y. so thee will know and I will write on the margin "I am leaving". It may be that
I will send one paper before that but I will not write much on it, perhaps mark some words.
Oh I must tell thee how much I know about French - well I can "parli Francais" - talk French ... several french
phrases ... I will bring my French books and have thee and the rest of the children learn it. Thee will find it very
different and I think it will be of use to teach thee as it will fix it in my mind. I have a grammer and a book of
conversations, and a dictionery and history of Charles the twelvth king of the Sweden, which we have to read and
translate. We do not take lessons now. I am going to take my book with me into the country and do some
translating while I am there. I went in the evening yesterday to hear a great Universalist minister and was very
much pleased with him. His text was the 1st verse of the 15th chapter of Hebrews.
Tell Mother that Cousin James has a letter from Aunt Jane some time ago reporting the death of William Greer
of Milton. She says that they are well as usual - also tell her that Aunt desired to be remembered to her. Cousin
Mary sends her love and says that she is sorry to disappoint you about coming, but there are plenty of mote
summers and that she thinks that it will certainly not be very long before she makes a visit to Collins. Have you
a good garden this summer? And is there much fruit in your part of the country? There is very little here, or in
Jersey which is so much noted for its cider and fine fruit: in the neighborhood of New Brunswick it is an entire
failure. A young man who visits here and has just returned from the west and has been in Indiana, Ohio and
Kentucky says that every thing is very backward in the west, also that in many parts the crops have utterly failed.
The market is very high: one thing, the article of butter is 25 cts to 31 cts per lb and eggs 3 fips [?] a dozen.
There is one thing more that I forgot to tell thee: I have learned to make worsted flowers. Joseph, I want thee
to mention something about me taking our school up east this next winter. Tell them I will teach for 12 dollars a
month, and if thee will like to go in with me, thee must ask as much more as thee chooses, but I think that thee
would make more to teach by thyself. If they will not let me have their school, try and get one for me somewhere
and also one for thyself. Be sure and try in good season and not put off, as there are so many applicants for schools.
Mrs. Fling said the other day that she would be glad if I would stay and take the place of her principal teacher, who talks of going south. But I think that I can get as good a price at home and have as good a name as Drusilla
Allen She only went six months to Jamestown and I have been a little more than eight months in one of the best
schools m Philadelphia. If thee dont try to give me a good name why thee will miss it, thats all. For I am going to
teach thee all that I know if nothing happens; and the mote I know, the mote they will think that thee knows so
dont forget bur tell every one how much I have learned and how many advantages I have here. Tell me if thee thinks
that my price is too high or too little – if thee can get more, why do so of course; and if they wish us to take less, tell them that you think I will not, but try to get them to wait till I come home. Thee will of course ask more that thee did last winter –thee ought to get 16 to 18 dollars a month, and, if thee can spare the time from the farm, take one for 4 months.