Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD, dated September 8, 1854.
The postmaster at Boston says your pretense of writing to me there is a fable.
Letter, saith he, (Major) never miscarry, and (Minor) no such has been received,
argal (conclusion) no such was ever written. I am loth to believe the postmaster,
but I must. Syllogisms be conclusive, and as a lawyer, I am bound to hold for truth
whatever is proved. I am grieved you should meet your ancient gossip, with a fib, on
the threshold of his native land, but 'tis a proof of the degeneracy of manners
since my departure, Well,
I shall forgive you, if you write me forthwith at East Greenwich, R.I. (whither I go after my wife), and if not, not. I have, in small quantity, seeds & shells for you, as well as a vivarium of the snails I wrote of, but I think I shall keep them till I go to Washington, which I think will be about Dec. 1'-
The evil tidings we heard of dear Mary were very painful to us, and I am very happy
to learn, that her health is improved. I trust we shall find her quite well in the
autumn. Mrs Marsh's mother died on Sunday last,
having been taken ill a day or two after Mrs M. reached her ancient home. It was a happy circumstance, that the old lady's life was spared until her daughters return, after so long a separation, & it is remarkable, that of her nine children, seven should have returned from California, Turkey, Missouri & Illinois to be present at her death.
I am sorry about the quarrel. I don't know the details, but I do
know, that the law has been injudiciously and what is worse
administered. The mere question, what is , may have two
sides to it, but that, what is , can have but one. I dare say Jewett is glad to be off. I wish Choate had the moral courage and disinterestedness to expose some people as they deserve, but I am sorry to say (inter nos), that I see no ground for any such expectation. Kindest regards to Mary-
Yours trulyG P Marsh
References in this letter:
Charles Coffin Jewett (1816-1868), a distinguished librarian from Brown University, was appointed senior assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1848. He and Joseph Henry were continually in conflict over the importance of the library within the Institution's mandate and he was fired by the Board in 1855. He later became superintendent of the Boston Public Library.
Rufus Choate Choate and Marsh attended Dartmouth at the same time and remained close friends. Together they represented the faction that wanted to use James Smithson's bequest to establish a great public library. A U.S. Senator and member of the Smithsonian Board of Regents, Choate (1799-1859) was Charles Coffin Jewett's principal sponsor. When Jewett was forced to leave, Choate submitted his own resignation, making his objections public. In the ensuing uproar a House select committee was formed to investigate Joseph Henry's administration but Henry was ultimately exonerated