page top

Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to CHARLES ELIOT NORTON, dated October 17, 1863.

Add to bookbag Add to Bookbag | Bookbag (0)

Item Description

Title: Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to CHARLES ELIOT NORTON, dated October 17, 1863.


  • Marsh, George Perkins, 1801-1882


  • Norton, Charles Eliot

Source Document

Extent: 1 letter

Genre(s): letter


Note [Digital Version]

, Center for Digital Initiatives, University of Vermont Libraries

Type of Resource: text

Parent Collections

Other Formats

Access Conditions

For usage rights related to this resource please visit:
More information.

Permanent Link:

Preferred citation

Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to CHARLES ELIOT NORTON, dated October 17, 1863., Original located at the University of Vermont's Special Collections in the George Perkins Marsh Collection, filed by date., (accessed January 22, 2018)

Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to CHARLES ELIOT NORTON, dated October 17, 1863.

Transcribed by :

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

Published by: University of Vermont. All rights reserved.

Publication Information

Turin October 17 1863

My dear Sir

You would be quite justified in holding me guilty of inexcusable neglect in not sooner replying to your very acceptable letter of May last, and in so long delaying to execute your commission with respect to the Ms of Benvenuto da Imola, but the loss of time is not wholly owing to inattention on my part. There are but two or three Dantophiles in Turin, so far as I know. One of these only knows that Ld Vernon's intended edition was never published and that Nannucci is dead. The other I have not been able to see in consequence of his and my own occasional absences from town. I had expected to go to Milan in August, but an indisposition on the part of Mrs Marsh prevented the intended journey. I now design visiting both -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- that city and Florence in November & will make your request my first business in both. There is a paleographer of reputation among the attachés of the Ambrosian at Milan, but I observe one or two palpable misreadings in a Spanish tract edited by him, and hope he will prove more accurate in Italian. In any case, I will spare no pains to secure you an exact transcript.

I had become a good deal encouraged by our recent successes in the field, but Rosecranz's sad defeat disheartens me. As to Meade, I have never seen any reason to believe him capable of much, and as he is said to belong to the class of 'no-party men,' I strongly suspect he will turn out another McClellan. In any event, Halleck will take care that he shall win no signal victory. We are losing the confidence and sympathy of our best friends -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- in Europe, because irresolution, timidity and tergiversation of our government, its indulgent treatment of the rebellion, its stopping enlistments last year, and its failure to enforce the conscription at an early period in this, have given rise to grave doubts as to its honesty of purpose and especially as to its sincerity in respect to the slave question. The mission of that rank pro-slavery advocate Bishop Hughes did our cause great mischief in Europe. His hostility to liberty of all sorts--except the liberty of domination in his own church--was well known, and it was no secret, that, though professedly a Union man, the Union he preferred was a union under a pro- slavery government. That such a man should have been sent abroad as in any sense a representative of this administration, was thought an inexplicable mystery, and his late atrocious harangue to "the men called rioters" -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- which--obvious as its purpose was--has, so far as I know, met with no rebuke from the administration or its friends, has revived the feeling which his European mission excited. We must strike in earnest this winter, or we shall have a moral, if not a material, crusade of the whole world against us.

The conduct of the government, clergy, nobility, and press of England has surprised me in nothing except the boldness of the mendacity of all of them. Their malignity was not in the least degree unexpected to me. The success of the Puseyite movement revealed to me, more than twenty years ago, such a degree of intellectual decrepitude and of moral degeneration in the governing classes and in the church of England, that no iniquity or folly on their part has since seemed incredible to me.

You are doing an admirable work with your political tracts, and I am glad to see that you have not neglected those renegades -------------------------------- Page --------------------------------Carlyle and Ruskin. One point I desire to see conspicuously brought out with reference to those gentlemen's present views of the analogy between the condition of the slave and of the European hired labourer. I refer to the Southern doctrine of the nature of the master's rights over the slave. The highest courts in both Carolina and Alabama, you know, have decided that the power of the master over the slave, unless limited by local statute, is as absolute as that of the owner over his ox. He may butcher him, and sell his skin to the tanner, his bones to the turner, his teeth to the dentist, and no indictment will lie for cruelty to the slave, or even for his murder, except where the legislature of the state limits his rights by enactments which a subsequent legislature may repeal. Could you send me some paper or pamphlet containing these decisions?

Not much is doing in a literary or scientific way at Turin. -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- You know the New Dictionary of Tommaseo, which has now published 22 or 23 dispense covering some pp. into B. It is laboured, immensely so, and valuable, but philologically speaking, behind the times. The excerpts are all modernized in orthography, and there is no etymology. Fanfani at Florence has lately published a Vocabulary of Tuscanisms--2 vol. 12 mo which is convenient. He is now issuing a periodical--Il Borghini--devoted to the Tuscan speech. Two or three series of publications of old Mss & reprints of scarce tracts are going on, and I hope the newly awakened national Italian feeling will give us at last a history of the Italian language, or rather, what is better still, a collection of materials for the history of that tongue.

I occupied many months preceding August with writing out & preparing for the press -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- notes & observations I have been for years making on Physical Geography as affected by human action. I do this to get out of my brain phantoms which have long been spooking in it, and have no notion of prosecuting such subjects far. The book must be now nearly ready for publication by Scribner of N.Y. It makes no scientific pretensions and will have no value for scientific men who will, of course, condemn it as trash, which very likely it is, but it may interest some people who are willing to look upon nature with unlearned eyes.

Mrs Marsh joins me in kind regards to your mother & sisters as well as to Mrs Norton and yourself. Yours very truly,

George P. MarshC E Norton Esq -------------------------------- Page --------------------------------

P.S. I should have dated my letter at Nimes. We were driven out of Turin by repairs now making on our house and came over the Col de Genèvre and Lantaret to spend a few days in the heart of France. Nimes and most of the Rhone valley we knew before, but we have now seen for the first time Aigues Mortes, a jewel of the first water, which, like Nuremberg, ought to be kept under glass for the benefit of those who love to peek into the life of the Middle Ages.

Add a comment:


* Optional

User Comments