Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD, dated August 4, 1852.
We arrived here in the San Jacinto steam frigate on Sunday after a very pleasant trip,
& after remaining here a few days shall probably sail in the same vessel for Trieste
where the ship is to repair her broken engine, and shall then return here to spend a longer
time. We have seen nothing of Athens, partly because our reminiscences of Syrian fever at this
season last year deter us from exposing ourselves to the sun of Attica at this most unhealthy
period of the year, & partly because I have
been almost constantly occupied with business. I have collected some things for you--and Mary--[...]which Mr [...] will send you. It is odd I can't get Salamanders, although I see hundreds of them, I can't catch them, & money won't hire the natives to do it. I have tried boys, Croats, Bulgarians, my own servants but in vain. I hope Mr [ ] will do better. As to eggs, there is but one birds nest in my neighborhood - a stork's, and I should certainly get a bullet through me in spite of diplomatic privileges, were I to climb the chimney to rob it. There is a bird at Stanboul called by the Turks [Arabic script] by the Greeks , by the Chinese if I remember right, [Chinese character?)] Its English name will never be known until your book on ornithological synon
yms shall appear. Well, this bird had nested in the garden of the English palace, & I sent my niece to plunder it, but the boys had anticipated her However I don't care about it. You wanted eggs for Master Haldemann to hatch. Now I read in some book, that Haldemann said, that the Germans pronounce glauben as if it was spelled ylauden, which is not true (had he said Berlinese & such like it had been ) Argal. Haldemann is a false man, & according to proverb I often heard when I was travelling in Cathay, a false man is not to be trusted with an egg-shell.
I said there would appear in the N.Y. Times an article on
Camels, which proved a mistake. The facts be these. Last year the Editor of the Times
neglected a [text is lost]
paper regular letters, procure somebody else to furnish him intelligence from Turkey. The personage declined procured a much abler correspondent, but offered ocaisionally to send notes of travel. Accordingly, the correspondent began & has since written by almost every mail. The other gentleman sent 30 to 40 half sheets on camels c. The first parcel was sent on the 19'- M'ch with the other on the 5'- of April. The article has not appeared in the Times, nor have either I (for I may as well drop the third person) or the correspondent, who has been writing regularly for more than eight months, ever received a word of acknowledgment from the editor, though he prints my friend's letters. So far as I am concerned I am glad he did not print. I have got ashamed of what I have written as trifling-silly even perhaps--& I write to Raymond by today's
[The following appears on page beginning "Athens Aug 4 1852"]
mail to send you the manuscript, or rather to deliver it to your address. You may read it, & Mary, & Mr Jewett, but nobody else, but don't print a word of it.
Yours trulyG P M
References in this letter:
The entomologist Samuel Stehman Haldemann (1812-1880) was professor of Natural Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. Marsh sent him specimens from Constantinople.
Marsh published two works on the Camel: "The Camel," in Report of the Smithsonain Institution for 1854, 98-122. 33 Cong. 2 Sess., Sen. Misc. Doc. 24. Washington, 1855. The Camel: His Organization, Habits and Uses, considered with Reference to His Introduction into the United States. Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1856.
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.