Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to SPENCERN FULLERTON BAIRD, dated November 6, 1857.
Gilliss wrote me on the 30'- of Sept. that he had
been quite ill & Mrs G. indisposed. I inferred that neither of them was
quite recovered, & hearing nothing further from them, I wrote to G. on the
21'- of October saying that we were anxious about them, and hoped soon to hear that
they were quite well. I have received no reply, and as Mr G. is extremely prompt in
his correspondence, I very much fear some of them are seriously ill. You know how
strongly, and with what good reason, Mrs Marsh and I are attached to them all and
we cannot but be much distressed at the thought of any serious calamity befalling them. I beg therefore that you will drop me a word, to let me know how they are, by an early mail.
Among my many blanks I have drawn one small prize--or rather I ought to be reasonable enough to call it a large one -- It is the appointment of Rail Road Commr. for this state, with a salary of $1000. & expenses paid by state. Nothing could come in better time, & I am by no means disposed to look this gift horse in the mouth.
Is Toussenel a writer of authority, & what
are his books? Also, has Quartrefages written
only for journals. or published independent works, & in which of his
works would his description of the marine products of the coast of Sicily be found?
Mrs Marsh has been rather better than usual for some months until within four weeks or so, but has now got back again to the old level.
She joins me in affectionate remembrances to you & Mary, as well as to the two other generations between which you and she form a link! Isn't that fine writing?
One more question. Has Desor published
anything on the Phys. Geography of America
& if so what is the title of his book?
References in this letter:
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.
In November 1857 Marsh was appointed Vermont Railroad Commissioner, a post he held until 1859. An informed critic of railroad corporate abuses, he wrote three devastating reports, incurring the wrath of the railroad lobby. Using its influence in the Vermont legislature, the lobby sought to block his reappointment.
Alphonse Toussenel, L'esprit des betes. Le mondes des oiseux, ornitholgie passionnell. Paris: Librarie phalanstérienne, 1853.
Armand de Quatrefages de Bréau was the author of the second volume of Recherches anatomique et zoologiques faite pendant un voyage sur les co)circumflex)tes de la Sicile.... 3 vols. Paris: V. Masson, 1845-1850. And The Rambles of a Naturalist on the Coasts of France, Spain and Sicily. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longman and Roberts, 1857.
A friend and asisistant of Louis Agassiz, the geologist Pierre Jean Edouard Desor (1811-1882) followed Agassiz to the United States in 1846. Before returning to Europe, he studied the Atlantic shelf and Lake Superior. He is the author of a two volume work on glacial theory.