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Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to CHARLES ELIOT NORTON, dated June 12, 1862.

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Title: Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to CHARLES ELIOT NORTON, dated June 12, 1862.


  • Marsh, George Perkins, 1801-1882


  • Norton, Charles Eliot

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Extent: 1 letter

Genre(s): letter

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, Center for Digital Initiatives, University of Vermont Libraries

Type of Resource: text

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Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to CHARLES ELIOT NORTON, dated June 12, 1862., Original located at the University of Vermont's Special Collections in the George Perkins Marsh Collection, filed by date., (accessed January 16, 2018)

Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to CHARLES ELIOT NORTON, dated June 12, 1862.

Transcribed by :

TEI mark-up by : James P. Tranowski andEllen Thomson

Published by: University of Vermont. All rights reserved.

Publication Information

Turin June 12 1862

My dear Sir

I had no very confident expectation of your appointment to the secretaryship of this Legation, but when the announcement of Mr Clay's preferment to a second post of that character in a single year reached me, I found that I was more disappointed than, with my experience in public affairs, I ought to have been. In spite of probability, Mrs Marsh and I had looked forward with great pleasure to the possibility of your being officially connected with us, and our regret at the disappointment is much increased by the intelligence you so kindly communicate of your expected marriage to a lady, who, we are sure, would have been a very agreeable addition to our social circle. We shall still hope to see you in Italy and as Mr Clay, though apparently a well disposed young man, has no taste, and not a single qualification, for the duties of his position, I do not des- -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- pair of a change which may still bring you to Turin in his place. It is much to be regretted that the government is so little solicitous for the respectability of its diplomatic service, but I do not know that any former administration since the time of J. Q. Adams has been more so.

I received several copies of your pamphlet on the Translation of B. da Imola's commentary on Dante. I have read it with much interest, & think you have done a very good service to the cause of Italian literature and the fame of its greatest ornament by exposing the imposture. There are at Turin no Dantophilists, though Dante is much read. I have given copies to Mr J. Artoni, who has lived long in America, and may be known to you, to my learned friend Count Miniscalchi of Verona, and to Fraticelli, Padre Giuliani and Vieusseux of Florence. The others I retain to distribute as I find favorable opportunities.

I think it much to be regretted that the Italians study so little the ancient forms of their language. Old authors, you know, are universally modernized, and I have not met a single scholar, who could be -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- brought to admit that the publication of old codices in their original form was a matter of the slightest importance. I should have supposed that a German, like Witte, would have preferred a good literal text, with various readings and notes, to a made-up recension, but I am afraid it will be long before we shall see an edition, which will satisfy those who want the nearest approach to the ipsissima verba of the poet himself.

I am much obliged to you for your favorable opinion of my Wedgwood. I did not know that it was published, and yours is the only notice I have seen of it. The labor it cost me is greatly disproportioned to the results arrived at, but I intended it rather as an exercitation in--it would be claiming too much for it to call it a specimen of--historical etymology, than as an exhibition of definite conclusions. These latter we cannot certainly, now arrive at, but I think the actual biography of words has been sadly neglected, and that general etymology must in the end, like history, be built up out of the life of individuals, not constructed à priori from assumed data. My second course of Lectures on the English Language is half through the press, & will be published in London and New York in September. It will hardly be as well received -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- in England as the first series, because it throws stones at some of the current English idola tribus, particularly at the theory (which I can only characterize by the epithet applied by a writer in the Saturday Review to the opposite doctrine, as a very "silly" one), that the English language, English literature, and English genius owe nothing to the influence of the Norman-French speech, poetry, and blood.

My latest American dates are a telegram of June 1 in one line, announcing Banks's re- capture of Port-Royal. One thing about this war is clear even to a pékin, ; we have no generalship on our side, unless possibly in the West. McClellan is very severely, and I have no doubt justly, criticized by European militaires, though I am not clear that what they regard as unmitigated imbecility is not a compound of stupidity and treachery. We shall have a European intervention soon, unless the war is immediately terminated. I think France would incline to propose a restoration of the Union upon terms honorable to the North, but the jealousy and malice of the English aristocracy in the state, the church, and the Exchange, will be satisfied with nothing short of the overthrow of our political institutions, and the destruction of every distinctive feature of American civilisation. I still trust that we shall [the follow appears on the top of the page beginning: "Turin June 12 1962"] outlast that most wicked and malignant of modern political societies, the British government, and that the world is not to lose the benefit of the example we have given it. I venture to offer to Mrs Norton, as well as to your mother, your sisters and self the congratulations and kind wishes of Mrs Marsh and of

yours truly

G. P. MarshC E Norton Esq

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