Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to MARY CHURCHILL BAIRD, dated September 21, 1870.
I owe your husband a letter and probably always shall, for the debt is so old that he can't collect it, being outlawed, & I think I had better pay you up before I am sued.
We were in Paris at the declaration of the war. I left Mrs M. her
niece, & some charming Italian friends in the city, & went to Aix for the baths.
After a fortnight, the reports were so alarming about the state of things at P. that I went back
to look after my women, who, I found, war n't scairt a mite. My poor niece, however, was
extremely ill & we were told by the doctors, that an immediate change of air was necessary
for her, and as soon as she was able to travel, we came back to Florence, leaving Paris most
reluctantly, as we had a great desire to see the thing out. Ellen has been in a very critical
condition since our return, but we hope she is a little better, though we dare
not take too much encouragement.
Mrs Marsh experienced great relief from Dr Sims's treatment at Paris. This was most fortunate, as she otherwise would certainly have sunk under the burden of anxiety & watching. Indeed the last ten weeks have changed her in looks more than any ten year before since I have known her.
I will say nothing of the war except that I hope the Prussians won't lose all by insisting on too much.
We Italians have got Rome at last, but 'tis a large elephant, and a hungry. What shall we do with it? Also, what shall I do with my house, to which I am tied for three years more, at $1800 per year? A question to be asked --
You must have had a capitol time down East. I envy you some of it--not the taxidermical part
though--I had a line from Edmunds, but nothing from Susan. I am infinitely obliged
to you for your kindness to Carrie, which has been of infinite use to her. We very much wished to have her stay another winter within reach of you three & the Edmunds, but it seemed absolutely necessary for the poor girl to think more of earning than of learning. She is most grateful to you all.
Poor Jack Gilliss's death was a sad blow to us. He was one of my greatest favorites from his fourth year, & was a most deserving, as well as remarkable young man. Mrs Marsh will write to Mrs Gilliss as soon as her heavy burden is lightened.
I enclose for Lucy the best lot of stamps I ever sent her. What a good man I am! But I am not appreciated.
Mrs Marsh joins me in affectionate salutations to you all
Yours trulyG P MarshMrs Baird
References in this letter:
Caroline Crane Marsh had several nieces as companions at various times in Italy. The one here mentioned is called "Ellen" in a letter by George Perkins Marsh on May 24, 1871.
Dr. J Marion Sims, a gynecologist practicing in Paris, had operated on Caroline Crane Marsh for a noncancerous tumor of the womb in 1865.
George Franklin Edmunds (1828-1919) began his career practicing law in Burlington. He served in the Vermont State House of Representatives and in the State Senate. In 1866 he was elected to the United States Senate as a Republican to fill the vacancy caused by Solomon Foot's death and served for four terms. He resigned in 1891. Edmunds was married to Susan Edmunds, the daughter of Marsh's sister and Wyllys Lyman, his Burlington friend.
Susan Edmunds was Marsh's niece and the wife of Senator George Franklin Edwards.
Carrie Marsh Crane, Caroline Marsh's niece, daughter of her brother Thomas, accompanied the Marshs for a number of years during his tenure as minister to Italy. She died in a shipwreck in 1874.
James Melville Gilliss (1811-1865) was both a naval officer and astronomer. He was responsible for proposing and supervising the building of Naval Observatory in Washington, DC (1842-1844). In 1846 he was assigned to the U.S. Coast Survey and spent several years in Chile conducting astronomical observations. The Gilliss family, based in Washington, became close friends of the Marshes and the Bairds.