Letter from CHARLES ELIOT NORTON to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated April 27, 1862.

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Publication InformationShady Hill, Cambridge, Mass.27 April 1862.

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My dear Sir

Since I last had the pleasure of writing to you the question of my joining you at Turin as your Sec has been settled. I know nothing of the gentleman appointed to the place, but I sincerely trust that he may be such a person as you yourself would have selected. I need not tell you again how much pleasure I should have had in being with you, or how highly I should have esteemed the advantages which such close personal intercourse would have brought to me, but I must thank you once more for your kindness in the matter, and for your friendly interest in promoting my wishes so far as lay in your power. And I trust to your friendliness so far as to believe that it will give you pleasure to hear that I am about to be married. I am engaged to Miss Sedgwick, the daughter of the late Mr Theodore Sedgwick. My engagement gives

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happiness to all those whose happiness I most desire to promote, and my marriage, which, I trust, will take place toward the end of May, will not lead to my leaving our old home. If you were not abroad I should hope to have the pleasure of presenting Miss Sedgwick to you before long;--perhaps I may yet have that pleasure in Europe in the course of your stay in Italy.

I have received too lately to have the opportunity of studying it as carefully as I intend to do, a copy of your edition of Mr Wedgwood's first volume. I have been greatly interested in and instructed by what I have already read of your additions,--and if I had not before had some idea of the width and depth of your knowledge I should have been astounded at the amount and the character of the learning displayed in them. I am very glad to see that a new volume of your lectures is about to appear. Beside the interest and importance that belong to the subject which you treat, your manner of treating it is such as to

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raise the character of linguistic studies among us, and to set a standard for other scholars. American students will be grateful to you for the thoroughness and the ability of your work, and for rescuing the subject from the hands of the semi-ignorant, and the shallow pretenders to learning who are so common.

I hope that you continue to find your residence at Turin agreeable, and that the duties of your office are not so laborious as to deprive you of leisure for your own studies. I hope too that Mrs. Marsh finds a permanent improvement in health. I am greatly interested in the present aspect of Italian affairs, and am somewhat anxious as to the issue of events. I cannot but regret the retirement of Ricasoli from the ministry. But it is very likely that affairs have a different look to one on the spot from that which they present at so great a distance. It seems as if the party of the im-moderates was becoming too strong, and was likely to control the policy of the government too forcibly.

Our own public affairs afford ground alike for satisfaction and for discontent.

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When one compares our condition now with our condition a year ago a great gain is evident. The North has attained to a consciousness of national existence such as it never had before, such as promises the most important results in the future. Many delusions which hampered the minds of the people have been swept away. Whatever be the issue of the war it will leave us a much wiser and stronger nation than it found us. If the war practically end with two more battles, one at Yorktown & the other at Corinth, or if it be brought to a conclusion in any way within the next five or six months, slavery will still retain for a time considerable political power. There are many indications that the old subservient party at the North will revive, and give support to the Slave power, to promote its own selfish ends. But the longer the war continues the weaker does Slavery become. -- Our whole army as it sees the South is turned into an army of abolitionists. The most proslavery 'hunker' in the ranks is educated by his new life in an incredibly short time, & brought into the college of the Anti-slavery. ---- The President's Emancipation message, feeble as it was in expression, was an immense move forward in the right direction; and the passage of the bill for the emancipation of the Slaves in the District of Columbia has a significance [the following is written vertically on the page beginning "Shady Hill, Cambridge, Mass."] far deeper than is contained in the mere fact of freeing a few thousand negroes. The first step toward general freedom has been taken, and certainly in this case it is le premier pas qui coute.

We may be glad at the results of the first year of a Republican administration.

My Mother & sisters join me in kindest regards to Mrs. Marsh & yourself, and I am, with sincere respect,

Most truly YoursCharles Eliot Norton.

I have sent a small parcel for you to Trübner. I trust it will reach you safely.

References in this letter:

Green Clay, of Kentucky, 21 years old when appointed, was Marsh's Secretary of Legation from 1862 to 1868.

Norton married Susan Ridley Sedgwick in May 1862.

A Dictionary of English Etymology, by Hensleigh Wedgwood, Vol. 1 (A-D); with notes and additions by George Perkins Marsh, 1862.

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.

Trübner & Co., founded 1851 in London by Nikolaus Trübner (1817-1884), a native of Germany, published scholarly works for, among others, the Early English Text Society and the Royal Asiatic Society.

Union forces under Major General Henry Halleck took Corinth, Mississippi, on May 30, 1862, a move which contributed to the Confederate evacuation of Memphis, Tennessee, on June 6.

On April 16, 1862, President Lincoln signed a bill, previously passed by the Senate 29-14 and the House of Representatives 93-39, abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia.

This French mot, "it is the first step that costs," is credited to Marie de Vichy-Chamrond, Madame du Deffand (1697-1780).

Trübner & Co., founded 1851 in London by Nikolaus Trübner (1817-1884), a native of Germany, published scholarly works for, among others, the Early English Text Society and the Royal Asiatic Society.