Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to CHARLES ELIOT NORTON, dated March 29, 1865.

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Publication InformationTurin March 29 1865

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I owe you an apology for my long delay in finishing the article I had promised you for the N.A Review, and for still another postponement. The principal difficulty has been an incapacity to confine my strength to literary effort, arising from the great distress brought upon me by the mental and physical condition of my only remaining child, who, after many months of disease of mind and body, died early in February, under circumstances as painful to the heart of a parent as any, except the imputation of crime, that can well be conceived--

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whether from this, or from some obscurer cause, I do not know, my sight, always precarious, has been affected by entirely new and alarming symptoms, and though I have continued to make notes for you from time to time, I have fairly written out nothing.

I expected to have visited the US this spring, but my application for leave of absence has been refused. This, I confess, is under present circumstances, rather a relief than a disappointment to me; for the scenes I should be obliged to revisit are too full of the graves of disappointed hopes, for me to feel strength enough to return among them.

We have news to the 16', Sherman at Fayetteville & Schofield at Kingston. You

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are more sanguine of our political success than I. I never feared the war. I have always feared and still fear the peace. There are not parties only, but prominent men in our own, who fancy that they have an interest in saving slavery from the doom which ought long since to have been pronounced against it.

We have political aspirants who hope to unite the votes of the North & the South upon themselves as saviors of both the Union and of slavery, and these men, I fear, will rather obstruct than hasten the adoption of the constitutional amendment, and we shall be cursed with another criminal compromise I thought the removal of Blair from the cabinet an immense gain, but I fear he left his poisonous influence behind him, and I cannot but regard the repeated

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advances of the government to the rebels, and especially the tone of the Washington Chronicle and the N. York Times, which do not speak at random, as very alarming indications. One of the most discouraging things to me is a spirit of indulgence to the South, which shows that men in high places do not feel that righteous indignation against the perpetration of the greatest of political crimes, which it seems to me a right-minded and honest patriot cannot fail to entertain, and the patience of our I can hardly explain, expect [except] upon the supposition of a political demoralisation as deep as that which has long marked the party strategy on both sides in the State of New York.

I will write again as soon as possible. I rejoice to see that the N A Review keeps well up to its high standard. Mrs M joins me in kind remembrances to yourself & the ladies

Yours very trulyG P MarshC E Norton Esq

References in this letter:

Marsh's "The Origin of the Italian Language," a 42-page review of Cesare Cantu's Sull' origine della lingua italiana, 1865, and other works, appeared in the North American Review for July 1867.

General William Tecumseh Sherman, in an attempt to engage Confederate forces under General Joseph E. Johnston, in February 1865 led his forces north from Savannah, Georgia, through South Carolina into North Carolina, where he arrived at Fayetteville on March eleventh.

General John McAllister Schofield was an army commander in Sherman's Atlanta campaign and in 1865 became commander of the department of North Carolina.

Amendment XIII to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was passed by the Senate 38-6 on April 8, 1864, but defeated in the House of Representatives 95-66 on June 15. It was later passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6.

Montgomery Blair (1813-1883) was U.S. Postmaster General 1861-64. After the war, he sought moderation for the South and was against the disenfranchisement of the Southern whites and the enfranchisement of the Southern blacks.