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Title: Letter from SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated June 5, 1851.


  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton, 1823-1887


  • Marsh, George Perkins, 1801-1882

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Extent: 1 letter

Genre(s): letter


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Letter from SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated June 5, 1851., Original located at the University of Vermont's Special Collections in the George Perkins Marsh Collection, filed by date., (accessed January 18, 2018)


Transcribed by : John Thomas, Ralph H. Orth and Ellen Thomson

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

Published by: University of Vermont. All rights reserved.

Publication Information

Washington June 5' 1851

My dear Mr. Marsh

I have but this instant received your welcome letter of May 3', and I hasten to answer it, and the one from the 2' Cataract of the Nile, at one heat. I am a thousand times obliged to you for writing so often, especially when you have so much else to attend to. And the enclosed letter from dear Mrs. Marsh was (shall I say it?) read twice before taking up yours at all. Mary will be delighted with her letter, and yours, when they are sent, which d. v., shall be tomorrow. I am that most unfortunate of mortals, a bachelor pro-tem, keeping a suite of rooms all alone. Mary and Lucy (Baird) have gone to Carlisle for the summer. I accompanied them to Baltimore last Tuesday, and then returned solitary and alone. They are in rather better health now than during the winter, and I hope that their mountain climate of Carlisle will do them much good. I shall visit them during Commencement week at Dickinson, June 26', and then again about the beginning of August, on which latter occasion I hope to carry them off to the sea shore, nay perhaps to the Green Hills of Vermont. I cannot tell why I should feel towards Vermont as I do, whether that it is my wifes country, and yours, or what, but on a recent run down the North River a few weeks ago (of which more anon) I sat on the upper deck of the boat all day, thinking in a perfect ecstacy of home-sickness of Lake Champlain, with its border of Mountains, of Burlington, of the Steamboats, and indeed of every thing connected in my mind with that region. It seems to me that I ought to go there this summer, probably I will: I may take Mary to Clarendon Springs, or Highgate.

As Permanent Secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, I attended the Meeting held in Cincinnati May 5', in company with Profs Henry, Bache, Coffin, Coakley, Capt. Wilkes, Sears C. Walker, and other scientific notabilities of this neighborhood. We had a capital meeting and were treated like princes, invited to revel in wine cellars, by the Longworths, Buchanans and others, tea'd, dined, and otherwise eaten and drunken. I had my hands full of business and could not participate in any of these amusements. The number of members present was very large, and some of the communications quite valuable. The Cincinnatians gave gratuitous entertainment to all who were willing to stay at private houses, and collected money enough to pay all expenses of meeting, and to publish the volume of proceedings. Not a single item was at the cost of the Association's Treasury, save my traveling expenses which I charged, as had been agreed upon. Coming back I -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- stopped a day with my good old friend Dr. T. P. Rutland of Cleveland, where I got an undescribed species of bird. Thence to Buffalo by steamboat, with next a touch at Niagara, and off again to Albany. Here the next meeting of the Association in August, takes place.

Wonderful now are the facilities of traveling in the west. The regular period of transit from New-York to Cincinnati, via Albany and Buffalo, is forty eight hours, the two nights being spent in comfortable state rooms of boats on North River, and Lake Erie. And now by the Erie Railroad, finished through to Dunkirk, this period is diminished some eight hours, making 40 the time. The distance by the first route is about 910 miles, by the second 875!! In one year passengers will go from Philadelphia to Cincinnati in about 28 hours! And now to resume the personal part of my discourse. I am hard at work preparing for the emission of the 2' vol. Of Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, which goes off, accompanied by hosts of companions from all parts of the country. Our proposed operations in the way of scientific international exchange, are enthusiastically welcomed by other societies, and we have received from various sources, numerous documents and other things which will be sure cards. Our friend J. C. M'Guire of Washington is to send us some 400 Patent Reports of 1847-48. We have also Jewetts Library report, just out. Best of all we have copies of Schoolcraft's Indian book for about 130 of the principal European Societies. This lot will no doubt bring back many valuable returns; as it is, you would be astonished to see the quantities of Foreign Transactions coming in almost daily. We have received over one hundred distinct parcels during the present year, embracing fully one thousand titles. The last lot is a complete series of the Memoirs of the Bavarian Academy in 17 quarto and heaven knows how many octavo volumes. This has not yet come to hand, but is in New York. We shall probably send a copy of contributors to the Stiftisbokasafn at Reykjavik Iceland; at the instance of Daniel W. Fisk now at Copenhagen. Is this right!

Dont fear for my health. I never was so stout and perhaps well, in my life. Although I work hard (from 5 AM. till I fall asleep spontaneously P.M) yet I take so much exercise as to keep me up. I have to visit all the -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- printers, binders, lithographers camp;c in the city almost every day, walking from one extreme of the city to the other. As a good sign, I always have a ravenous appetite. And besides I talk a great deal about going out fishing, and doing other foolish things; and at any rate I hope to have a good run next summer. As to the nature of my business, I sometimes feel as if I were wasting time in attending to these details; but then again I become reconciled in a measure, on knowing as I do, that if I do not attend to them no one will, and I flatter myself that the publications of the Smithsonian Institution could not go on without me. Mr. Jewett has his hands full of the Library and Catalogue matters, and Prof. Henry is not practical enough for such details. It is a fact that I have scarcely done a single hours work of original investigation, since my arrival, of ab-original, I will not speak, on account of that modesty which should characterize juveniles. Still, I trust a better day is coming, when I can do something, and no one would be more happy to see that time, than Prof. Henry. No one could be kinder or more considerate than he, and I flatter myself he considers his Asst. Secretary, a prize in a small way.

Are not you getter tired of this prosy letter, written when I should have been in bed an hour ago, but for your epistle. To come to an end, however, I will carefully follow all your directions about vessels, c., and will indicate on a separate slip some additional desiderata.

I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing Master Wizlieenus, though I understand from Mister W. that he is a wonderful individual, in fact something remarkable. Of the accuracy of this impression, coming from such a source there can, of course be no question. Mrs. W. is not yet allowed to see company but is doing well. And now with inexpressible love to dear Mrs. M. and plenty of the same to yourself Goodby.

from your affectionate

S F Baird
Hon. Geo. P. Marsh
U.S. Minister Resident

I met old Pres. Wheeler in Cincinnati, who begged me to visit him in Burlington, and promised to go fishing to any extent, would take one end of the seine, with me at the other, and wade into the deep waters. Two storks!

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