Letter from CHARLES ELIOT NORTON to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated September 6, 1870.
My dear Mr. Marsh
I thank you for writing to me,-but we all are most truly sorry that you cannot send us better accounts of Miss Crane's health. We sympathize from our hearts with Mrs. Marsh's & your anxiety & trouble, and we wish that we were near you to offer you such services as we might render.
I am glad to say that my Mother is doing well. Her recovery is steady but slow,--but that it should be slow is not surprising considering her age. Tomorrow is her 77 birthday. She does not yet leave her chamber, but in the course of a week or two I hope she may once more be about house.
Personally I often wish that I were near you;--not only that I might have the benefit of your opinions on difficult questions of language or history, but that I might have the satisfaction of exchanging with you the expressions of wonder which the surprising incidents of these days call out, & the speculations which instantly follow the surprise.
For my part, the prospect of France seems to me exceedingly gloomy. The worst result
of the last 20 years of Napoleonism is that it has sapped the foundations not only
of moral character in the nation, but of intelligence as well. Had events been
different the harm might in time have been remedied without great manifest
calamity,--but now it would seem
as if society in France were likely to experience to the full the bitterest evils of which a nation can have experience,--foreign invasion followed by internal disorganization. There is a folly which would be ludicrous, were it not likely to have such shocking consequences, in the attempt of the France of 1870 to imitate the France of /92.
That Europe must go through another long & trying period of revolution before
arriving at an order or social system which shall afford a solid basis for real
progress, and be the commencement of a true social organization, has long been my
opinion,--but I regret that this revolutionary period should seem to be beginning in
such a way as to give strength to the reactionary forces. One could
only hope that the revolution might be rapid & complete. I fear that events in France are likely to prolong & embitter it.
I shall be greatly obliged to you if you will send me ("per grande velocità) the manuscript history of Siena of which you spoke to me. I have been at work, since I saw you, in the Archivio di Stato here, & have found some curious documents. I should like much to see whether the ms. history supplies the defects of the printed works of Malavolti, Tommasi, & Gigli.
My Mother, my sisters, and Mrs. Norton join me in kindest regards to Mrs. Marsh
& yourself. My Mother desires me to thank you once more for your kindness in
coming to Siena, [The following appears vertically on the left margin of the page
beginning "Villa Spannocchi, Siena."]
a kindness of which you will believe me, I am very sensible.
Always with true respectFaithfully Yours
References in this letter:
Caroline Crane Marsh had several nieces as companions at various times in Italy. The one here mentioned is called "Ellen" in a letter by George Perkins Marsh on May 24, 1871.
Italian: "very quickly"
Ubaldino Malavolti was a writer of comedies and poems of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries; Girolami Gigli (1660-1722) was an authority on the Tuscan dialect. Which of several Tommasis Norton is referring to is not known.