Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to HIRAM POWERS, dated April 13, 1863.
I suppose Mrs Marsh has said all that is proper to be said about the war and things in general, but I want you to tell Nannie, from me, that she is to read attentively and ponder over stanzas viii and xi of the ode, where young ladies are referred to in a touching way.
I send by express a package containing my book
& seeds for you. Also a small package for Baron
Ricasoli who will send for it. Perhaps okra wasn't invented till after Mrs
Powers left. If so, let her say as much to Mrs Marsh, who will tell her what it is
good for. 'Tis a precious vegetable to such as know how to cook it. They say the
niggers brought it from Guinea, & this is why some folks call it , which has a niggerish sound like Sambo.
As to my books' paying, they don't by any means. All I have got for them won't pay the cost of the tools, other books, I mean, I had to buy to help make them. They have brought in some praise--more than they deserve--but no pennies.
The Eve I pronounce, categorically, your best
thing, which is saying much. I have an idea about the type of the head, so beautiful
and yet so unlike your other beautiful things. It is this. It is not the head of an
American, or any of those folks that live about the Caucasus
and Mount Ararat and the neighbourhood of Eden, nor of a Greek, nor of a Roman, nor of a Goth, nor of an Egyptian. It is of more universal conception, and embraces all special types, so that there is no national form of head which might not, by possibility, have descended from this Eve, though some of them have got sadly distorted in later generations. In short it is a perfect generalization of all types, not the perfection of one narrow form of the human face divine.
I hope to get through my big book early in June, but it moves slowly like all
I should have gone to Florence with the King, but for a dozen reasons, the book & an unwillingness to leave Mrs Marsh so much alone in this country being the chief. There people are getting bad habits, robbery in the cars (I was in the train when it happened at Novi, t'other day) house-breaking and murder being common diversions in these parts.
Well, no more at presentfrom yours trulyG P Marsh
H Powers Esq
References in this letter:
Anna Barker Powers ("Nannie"), Hiram and Elizabeth Powers' fourth child, was born in Florence in 1841 and died in 1919.
Marsh's The Origin and History of the English Language, and of the Early Literature It Embodies, was published in 1862; a revised edition appeared in 1885.
Bettino Ricasoli (1809-1880), baron of Brolio, a leader of Tuscan liberal movements, was prime minister of Italy 1861-1862 and 1866-1867.
"Eve Disconsolate," a full-size bust of a nude female figure made in 1862, was taken from the full-size statue of the same name which Powers sculpted between 1859 and 1861 and which, Powers wrote, depicts "Eve accusing the serpent." Over the next decade numerous marble replicas were sold, several of which are today in American museums like the Smithsonian Institution, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.