Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD and MARY CHURCHILL BAIRD, dated April 7, 1870.
Dear Mr & Mrs Baird
I am ashamed to send one sheet for two--and such two, but I have not much time, & both Mrs M. & I are obliged to save what eyesight we have as stingily as old sooty deals with a dead nigger.
Your letters gave us great pleasure and I can assure you that Mrs Marsh's indignation--I can't use a milder word--was not less than your own at being disappointed of meeting you. We should be very glad to see you at Washington, much more so, for your sake's, as well as our own to see you here, as I hope we shall some day.
I have caused the stinging part of Mr B's letter
to be copied several times & put in the right places. I am assured & believe the wrong will be speedily righted. The only trouble is, that the ministry here is always perched on an inverted pyramid, & so entirely occupied in keeping themselves & their seats well balanced that they have no time to think of anything else. If they promise anything, it is always with the pious formula, "if we live," and they are very apt to cease living, before the promise is fulfilled.
I am mightily obliged to you for trouble about the documents. There is a most urgent
demand for such, & I can dispose of any number except of Diplomatic
which cannot be given away.
The improvement in the chirography of the man of the house struck me at once. I was afraid he was in his second childhood, but was relieved to find that it was only the work of a scribe. Well, I wish I had as good as one.
There is a good deal of activity here in a scientific way. No great results, but
there are many earnest students. Schiff you know about. What
an idea! an anti-materialist arguing that the human spirit material,
because he thinks he can measure its operations by a stop watch, & warm his
hands, at the same time, by the heat the brain develops in hard thinking!
We like Schiff very much, nevertheless. He has given over vivi-section, but I am afraid he a turkey or a frog now & then, just to see them hop.
I am mightly obliged to you both for your kindness to my dear nieces. Only a childess old man can understand how strong an affection I have for them -- What you do for them is better than if done for me --
There are photographs of Powers & of his bust of Longfellow, very nearly if not quite his best work; also autographs & things for Lucy.
Mrs Marsh joins me in affectionate regards to you all
Yours trulyGeo P Marsh
Mr & Mrs Baird
References in this letter:
The German physiologist, Moritz Schiff (1823-1896), performed controversial vivisections that provided new information about spinal cord physiology and clarified the role of the autonomic nervous system. In 1876 he was forced to leave Florence for the University of Geneva.
Hiram Powers (1805-1873), the most famous 19th century American sculptor and a friend of Marsh's from their early childhood in Woodstock, Vermont. Powers emigrated to Italy in 1837.
Powers made this bust of American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), in 1869 when Longfellow was touring in Europe. It was executed in plaster and shortly thereafter sculpted in marble.