Main content

Title: O'Brien, Joseph Sinton to O'Brien, Maria Wright, 1842
CollectionThe Transatlantic Letters of an Irish Quaker Family_1818-1877 [B. Jackson]
SenderO'Brien, Joseph Sinton
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationclerk
Sender ReligionQuaker
OriginNYC, USA
DestinationLake Erie, NY, USA
RecipientO'Brien, Maria Wright
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1729
Genresettling in in NYC, socialising, newspapers, the 'Boz Ball', acquaintances
TranscriptNew York 24th 2 mo 1842

My dear Sister
I received thy truly acceptable letter yesterday morning, being nine days from the time it was written, and was sorry
to heat that father and Thomas [have been ill?] since I left and of thyself not being able to go to thy school. I am
glad mother is well, and I hope that it was of use co het to be able to go to Quarterly Meeting. I conclude chat she
has got home by this time, although thee does not say anything about how long she was gone or if she was alive
when she got home, or if she was a Grahamite5W or an Abolitionist. As for myself I am alive and well and have not been run over in the streets - neither have I run over any person myself. I like being here very well although at times I am lonesome when I have not much to do. I have written
very little since 1 have been here and I dont see that I have improved any in my writing. James spoke of having
me take lessons in writing from a writing master. He seems to have forgotten it or else he thinks that by practice
I may improve. All of our business letters have to be copied but it is done by a press. We have a large book the size
of a letter the leaves of which are silk paper - when we want to copy a letter we wet the leaves with a brush and
put the letter in the book and press it. We take it out immediately and we have a perfect copy which has to be read
from the other side of the leaf which being very thin is easily done. I can copy a letter in a minute.
I have not formed many acquaintances yet, although I have been introduced to a number of young people.
We always have somebody to dine with us first days, but they do not make such long visits as in the country.
I have by this time got pretty well acquainted with the [Bell] girls, but I find that they are not very easy to get
acquainted with. I think that I never saw a finer girl than Mary. I cannot say that I am well acquainted with James
yet — he says very little to me or to any other person when he is in the office except as relates to business matters.
He often goes to parties in the evening but never takes the girls. He attends to all the business that is done in the
office and writes all the letters to foreign correspondents, which are read by Abraham and signed in his name. My
business is to copy letters, file papers, go to the Post Office twice a day, go to Banks to get notes discounted, carry
letters to the packets officers, fill up Bills of lading and examine all bills that are brought for payment. Abram has
said nothing about paying me anything - he does not even know what I do, only as I copy a letter for him
occassionally. I dont think that I ever saw a man more impatient than he in my life. I would not displease him for
the world, but he has been kind to me.
I do not read many books because it takes all the spare time I have to read the papers, of which we take five
daily papers and three weekly. This is the place for news and it does not become old. - we get it, for if a house should
burn down or a vessel arrive after we go to bed, it is printed and laid on our breakfast table before we are up in
the morning. I do not think that you need to feel any uneasiness about those papers I sent you, for I have written
nothing that I care about, so that if they will not let you have them, you may leave them in the office and they
surely cant fine a person in Collins for anything that was written by a person in N.Y. But as it is I will write no
one till I hear from you again. The New World I get off a news boy sometimes and off Mary sometimes, but I
do not like to ask for it.
I suppose thee has heard before this rime of the great excrement caused by the arrival of "Boz" in New York.
They have had a ball here that goes ahead of anything out west. James went to it and he said it was a grand affair.
I was alone in the office that evening, having some writing to do until about eight o'clock and on the way home
passed the Park theatre where the ball was, which is at the lower end of the Park at the left hand side of Broadway
as that goes down. The carriages all came up in a long line and each carriage as it came had to go to the end of the
line and take its turn with the rest. Well when I came in sight of the theatre there was a great crowd around the
doors all anxious to get a sight of the immortal Boz. Not being known and being willing to see how foolish people
could act (for I look upon it in no other light), I mingled with the crowds and suffered myself to be born along
till I reached the door where by laying hold of the iron railing I kept myself in one place long enough to see what
was passing; there was a large space in front kept clear by the policemen so that three carriages might drive up at once, and three men employed to open their doors and let the people
out in this manner about six were emptied in the minute - the ladies
all dressed for dancing. I stood watching them going in at this rate for
about a half hour expecting every minute to see Boz. As every good
looking carriage drove up some one would cry "there he is" - but I
dont know whether I saw him or not; if I did he was nothing more
than a man. Well after staying about a half an hour and proving that
it was not very comfortable to be crowded to death, I thought that I
would go back down the street to see how many carriages there were
m the prosession but after going a half mile I gave it up and went home
saying very little but thinking a great deal about the ball.
I have been to meeting every first day since I have been here. I have
got so that I can go anyplace in the city without any fear that I will get
lost, and Abram seems pleased with the dispatch with which I do
errands. L[arry] Graham is not a person that I would choose for a
companion - he goes often into bad company and drinks a good deal
- he keeps a bottle of whiskey in the office, but Abram and James do
not know it. He offered to treat me a go many times at first, but he
found that I would not drink with him so he says no more about it; and I have said so much to him that he will not let me see him drink.
He thinks of going to South America in the summer and I hope he
will, then if I stay they will be more dependent on me. He has a brother
in S. America that is a good deal like himself that writes for him there. He has two other brothers in the
city that ate very respectable young men and often visit at Abram's. He is a very good writer but otherwise I find
that he does not know very much more about books than I do and he does not try to learn.
Abram has given up the agency of the transatlantic steamship company, and dissolved partnership with Jacob Harvey, so that I think that he will not do business on so large a scale or require so much assistance in the office:
yet I think that they will want me to stay.
I did fed a little awkward at first but not so much as I expected and I have got over that. I do not feel so much
Difference to the people of the country –I find they are not proud. So Rache Healy is going to be married; also James Goodell and Eliza!!!!! Who waited on them? The Governor was the Witness? What does Mrs. Sloan? What does Sam? I mean what does George and Mary Ann say?
I have got acquainted with Joseph Beale - his family wish to be remembered to you all, to dice particularly. He
wants me to go home with him some seventh day and I think I will sometime. He gave me a paper to send home
a few days ago and says that he will give me more. Thomas Richardson has been to Ireland again. He saw Grandfather and Aunts Jane and husband. They were well. We have had no news from Ireland here nor had we heard of Cousin Margaret’s marriage. We hear from Rebecca [in Mobile] very often, she is well and enjoying herself very much and says that she has been gardening ever since she has been there and has flowers planted by her own hands. Tell Margareta I am sorry to hear nothing from her: if she will write I will answer. Tell Susan and
Julie much obliged and my best respects in return. Remember me to Cortes and tell him to write to me. Remember
me to all who are kind enough to enquire for me - to all the girls especially to Portia and Hariett, and Polly and
Eunice Herrick and all of Stephen] & I[saac] White's families. My love to Father and Mother and a kiss for
Willy and Margaretta. There are several other things that thee wants to know, but I left thy letter at the house and
cannot remember them - the rest the next time. I remain

thy affectionate Brother