Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD, dated May 20, 1880.
My dear Prof. Baird
Your official & private letters of April 1 arrived at a moment when the Ministry was about to go out [...] a [...] & it seemed hardly worth while to commence negotiations with outgoing officers which must be concluded with their successors. Besides this, there was a stil more formidable difficult. I could not, without authority from the State Department, propose such a measure to this government & then, I was not well enough informed as to what you could offer in exchange to act intelligently on the subject. I concluded, therefore, not to move in the matter at present, but lest time might not be lost, I took measures to inquire as to the facts reported by your correspondent as to the alleged accumulation of antiques at Naples. His letter is confimed in substance but not quite in degree. There is, I learn a great collection of such objects in store, but these are said to be almost wholly without archaeological interest and artistic value. The govenrment does not part with these objects, even to local museums, on any terms, but I think it not impossible that it would enter into an arrangement with us provided you can send anything of real historical & artistic interest in exchange.
If you can send any information on this point & procure instructions from the State Department, I will, as soon as we have a settled ministry, make an attempt
But apart from Pompeii & Herculaneum, the finds of antiquities are infinite in Italy, & by employing a competent agent with funds a fine collection could soom be formed. I hardly suppose this Congress would make an appropriation for such a purpose but perhaps after Mch 4 1881 things will be in a better position.
We were greatly disappointed, that you did not come over (including wife & daughter) to the fish exposition and take a short view of Rome. The American show seems to have excited great attention & I hope in the official report [it] will have the credit it deserves. I have passed a bad winter, the coldest known in Rome for more than a generation & like other old people, suffered much. Mrs M is very well. God bless you
Yours trulyG P Marsh
References in this letter:
An International Fishery Exhibition was held in Berlin in April, 1880.