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Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD, dated July 4 and July 14, 1854.

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Title: Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD, dated July 4 and July 14, 1854.


  • Marsh, George Perkins, 1801-1882


  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton, 1823-1887

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Extent: 1 letter

Genre(s): letter


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Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD, dated July 4 and July 14, 1854., Original located at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washinton, D.C., file 7002., (accessed January 18, 2018)

Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD, dated July 4 and July 14, 1854.

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TEI mark-up by : James P. Tranowski and

Published by: University of Vermont. All rights reserved.

Publication Information

Primeval Ocean N. Lat. 46o56'
E. Long. 7o50'
July 4'- 1854

Dear Baird

You will no doubt be suprised to learn, that the place I date from has emerged from the waters and become dry land. Trees have grown, shed their leaves & perished, & been suceeded by new forests, a vegetable soil has been formed, & subdued by tillage, & men have built here a city called Berne, of the bears which once abounded here. All this is recent, & the oldest inhabitants inform us that it is not above fifty million years since the highest part of the town was upheaved above the sea. I have made other equally curious discoveries in these regions, visited a mountain called Blank, where there are glaciers, & came hither through clefts in the mountains -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- called Tête Noire & Gemmi, grand & wonderful to behold. I wrote you from Rome in March & in April but have no reply, which is a pity, in regard that punctuality in correspondence is a virtue much to be commended in juvenile persons. I perceive the Huma has arrived, & hope you are happy in your keg of reptiles. I have nothing to add to them but a box of snails of various sorts I gathered on the Alps & Jura, & which I hope to bring home alive, to the end that you may introduce them if you think them likely to be useful.

Paris July 14 1854

We came hither certain days since having seen the Munster-Thal that is the way of Nature, & the two cathedrals of Freyburg (Breisgau) & Strasburg in that of art, since we left Berne. I found here yours of May 6: & two from Gilliss of May 8 & 23. I thank you both for them. I grieve at what you say of Mary, but as Gilliss says she returned from New York improved in health, I hope she is essentially better. I am sorry for the condition of the -------------------------------- Page --------------------------------Smithsonian, but have expected, no better. I never liked the compromise, but was willing to abide by it, & regret that others have been so reluctant to carry it fairly out. It has been a mistake, & public opinion will some day make it right. Jewett will be an impossible loss, & what's more a troublesome opponent, & I think there will be a general explosion by & by. I am glad I am not in the board, as I know very well that I could be of no use under present circumstances, if indeed under any. I rather congratulate Jewett on his probable release from what must long have been a very disagreeable position.

As to my future movements I begin to see a little ahead, & think we shall go to London next week, & sail for Boston about Aug 5'- I don't think I shall go to Washington before October, though I may proceed immediately thither. I go very reluctantly, & there is hardly anything but the meeting with your family, Gilliss & one or two other Washington friends, that I look forward to with any pleasure. Jewett I shall very likely meet in N. England, (& why not you too?) as I presumed he has -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- withdrawn before this. My wife acknowledges her shortcomings towards Mary, but writing by amanuensis is hard, and she has too many correspondents. Let Mary take as much of mine to you as she thinks good to herself, but this that follows is to you. Waterton (quick isn't he?) says the water ouzel don't walk on the bottom, contrary to the laws of gravity c c. Well, I was at Tegernsee on the Tyrol one day, looking out of the window, & watching an ouzel on a log. Pretty soon he jumped into shallow water, walked down into deeper, & when he got fairly under partly spread his wings and shuffled along the bottom, keeping his wings shivering about 20 feet. I think he used the wings to counteract the buoyancy of his body, as a man may his hands & feet, to, swim down, when he can't dive. Don't steal this. I shall put it into my work on Nat. Hist. along with the bicipitous saints. Fare you well.

Yours truly

G. P. Marsh note:Prof. S. F. Baird

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