Letter from CHARLES ELIOT NORTON to CAROLINE CRANE MARSH, dated September 14, 1881.

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Publication InformationAshfield, Massachusetts.September 14, 1881.

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My dear Mrs. Marsh

Mr. Longfellow, who has generously undertaken to bear the cost of the copy of the Benvenuto comment, writes to me that he sees nothing to change in the contract. I therefore return the form, without alteration, for Sig Bencini's signature.

"I think the confronto very important," says Mr. Longfellow, "and will pay the expense

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thereof very willingly. We must have everything done in the best manner possible."

Your suggestion that Sig Pasquale Villari should be asked to decide upon the trustworthiness of the copy, either by personal examination or by employing some one whom he should judge competent for the work, is most excellent. I trust that Signor Villari may be willing to accede to it. We should esteem ourselves very fortunate to be able to rely upon his approval

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of the copy, and we should be under great obligations to him, and to yourself.

I have read the pages sent by Signor Bencini as a sample of his work, and find them entirely satisfactory. If the copy be throughout as clear and as exact as these sheets, it will be as good as could be wished for.

I hope you will not be put to much more trouble in the matter. Will you allow me to send you the money for Sig Bencini as it may become due, that you may pay it to him? Or would you prefer to have it remitted without

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your intervention? In that case Signor Bencini must send me his address.


It gives me real pleasure to know that Mr. Marsh and you have been reading my volume on Church-Building not without interest. I suspect that Mr. Marsh and I do not differ very much in our estimate of the moral conditions of the Middle Ages. And, as regards our own times, your faith and hope are certainly what we all might desire to share.


I was interrupted as I was writing the last words by the coming in of my old friend and summer neighbor George William Curtis. Our talk fell upon old times, and in the course of it he happened to mention some branch of his family through which there was a distant connection with yourself. When I told him I had been writing to you he said "I wish I had known it, for though I never saw Mrs. Marsh, I would [the following is written vertically on the page beginning "Ashfield, Massachusetts."] have asked you to send her my most respectful salutations." I comply, with pleasure, with his wish. And adding to his my own best respects for yourself & Mr. Marsh, I am Very sincerely YoursC. E. Norton.

I return tomorrow to Cambridge.

References in this letter:

Benvenuto Rambaldi da Imola's commentary in Latin on the Divine Comedy was one of the earliest and most valuable discussions of Dante's great work. A manuscript of the commentary in the Laurentian library in Florence had been copied by Signor Bencini.


Pasquale Villari (1827-1917) was a noted historian, statesman, and educator, many of whose works are in Marsh's library. He had verified the accuracy of Signor Bencini's transcription of Benvenuto Rambaldi da Imola's commentary in the Laurentian library in Florence.

Historical Studies of Church Building in the Middle Ages: Venice, Siena, Florence, 1880.

George William Curtis (1824-1892), author and reformer, wrote essays for "The Editor's Easy Chair" in Harper's New Monthly Magazine from 1854 until 1892.