Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to CHARLES ELIOT NORTON, dated June 20, 1860.
I am very glad to learn that you are willing to aid in promoting the objects of the
Philol. Society. Wotton
unfortunately, has been assigned to an English collaborator. I would propose the
Morte d'Arthur, Southey's reprint, including the
preliminary matter and notes. This I presume is not new to you, but it contains many
important forms and words, and
if you should read it, I beg you will note the few cases in which the old distinction between yea & yes, nay and no, is disregarded.
The Dictionary article in the World is necessarily
incomplete, for want of space. I have written another, for the
Xtian Review, a Baptist Quarterly published by Sheldon & Co N.Y.
It is now in type, & will appear July 1'. The two are complementary to each
other, the article in the Review going fully into several points barely touched
upon--etymology, for instance, form of volume, and arrangement of matter--in that in the World.
I feel the profoundest interest in the Italian question, which I regard as the most important one which has arisen in my time. I am now contributing to the World and shall frequently discuss this matter, though not under my own name, in its columns.
Thanking you for your favorable opinion
of my labors.
I am, sir,very respectfully yoursGeo P MarshChas E Norton Esq
References in this letter:
Marsh was the American secretary of the London Philological Society, which proposed to create a New English Dictionary. As such, he sought to enlist readers of texts from Old English onward who would search out representative examples of English words in context. The project foundered in 1861 and was not re-started until almost two decades later.
Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639), English poet and diplomat.
Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur, a prose translation of a 14th-century French poem about the knights of the Round Table, was originally printed in 1485 and later edited by Robert Southey (1774-1843), Poet Laureate of England, in 1817.
"The Two Dictionaries," New York World, June 15, 1860, is a review of Goold Brown's The Grammar of English Grammars and Simon Kerl's A Treatise on the English Language.
"Our English Dictionaries," Christian Review, 101 (1860), 384-415.
The "Italian question" was that of unification. In 1861 the separate regions of Italy (except for Austrian Venetia and the Papal States) were united under Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy, who became the first King of Italy. As a further step towards unification, a September 1864 agreement included provisions that French troops be removed from Rome and the capital of Italy be moved from Turin to Florence.