Letter from SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated October 3, 1851.
My Dear Mr Marsh.
You cannot think with what anxiety Mary and I have perused the papers to learn of your welfares, after seeing the announcement of the illness of both yourself and Mrs. M. Nor with what gratitude we say by the last advices that you had returned to Constantinople, much improved in health. I hope it may continue so a long--long time.
I have just returned after a two month absence; first to Albany to attend the meeting
of the American Association, next to Otsego Lake, to fish and to see Cooper, authoress of that charming book, "Rural
Hours"; next to Mt. Washington to overlook creation; then to Cambridge, to rummage
amongst Prof. Agassiz collections and carry off duplicates;
and finally to Washington again, via NYork, Phila. and Reading. Mary and Lucy had
gone to Carlisle the beginning of June, and staid there during the summer, joining
in Reading, and returning to Washington when I did. Right glad I was to get back once more to steady work, and plenty I found to do. We shall have a third volume of Smithsonian Contributions out by next spring, and there will be nuts for me to crack in superintending its safe passage. Have you yet received the box of books, sent you by Yasigi and Goddard for distribution? The same with the kegs I shipped at an earlier date.
Yesterday brought the keg announced in your letter of May 3. All the specimens in perfect order; and all acceptable. What fruits and other pickled vegetables are there, you said nothing about them. Are the grasshoppers veritable locusts. Are all the fish from the Nile, and the reptiles from its banks. I look daily for a letter detailing your adventures in Asia, and in its expectation write no more now as I have to do this morning. With warmest love to dear Mrs. M. I am most
affectionately yoursS. F. BairdHon. Geo. P. MarshConstantinople
[The following appears vertically on the left margin of the page beginning "Smithsonian Institution."]
P.S. Mary was going to write, but cannot now; will do so soon. Can you get about a dozen or more skulls of dogs, common dogs, such as live in Constantinople? Dont forget the camels skulls, c.
References in this letter:
During their tour of Palestine and Syria, Marsh, his wife, and his son, George, became seriously ill.
Susan Fenimore Cooper, Rural Hours. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1850.
Swiss born zoologist and geologist, Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) emigrated to the U.S. in 1846 to join the faculty at Harvard where he became a leading figure in American science. He a member of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian and initially supported Baird but later disparaged his scientific accomplishments and, in 1863, attempted to block Baird's election to the National Academy of Sciences.
In 1847 Joseph Henry proposed a publishing program for the Smithsonian Institution to honor Smithson's bequest for the increase and diffusion of knowledge. In 1849, the first volume, edited by Marsh, was published in a series called "Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge." This volume was distributed to 173 foreign institutions and marked the beginning of the Smithsonian's exchange network. Subsequent monographs were based on original scientific work sponsored by the Smithsonian and on Smithsonian collections. The series was apparently conceived as part of a larger series called "Transactions of the Institution."
A Boston shipping company.