Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to CHARLES ELIOT NORTON, dated May 24, 1871.
My dear Mr Norton
I think you once spoke to me of a London bookseller as both intelligent in his profession and trust worthy as a purchasing agent. The remark did not strike me much at the time for I could not at once conceive the possibility of such an entity. Upon reflection, however, I have concluded to ask his address, for though I am afraid I shall never read any more books, I cannot help buying them. I have, in my time, speculated much on the question: are there degrees in the absolute? I think there may be, and therefore, though no bookseller can with propriety of speech be said to be than any other, possibly some one, yours for example, may be less bad than his fellows.
Since I saw you, we have made an excursion to several of the old Etruscan towns in
southern Tuscany. There are, as you know doubtless, several collec-
tions of Etruscan antiquities for sale in these towns . Several of them, one at Sarteano especially, I should think very valuable, and the host of the Golden Lion at Chiusi has many very interesting objects. Would it not be well for the managers of the Boston museum that is to be, to turn their attention to these things? The supplies from the tombs are running dry, and important discoveries seem now to be rare.
We think Ellen was the better for an excursion, which we made
after the manner of the ancients, that is, as people travelled twenty years ago, in
our own carriage,my satisfaction, Jones
Very's little volume. I had seen in Dana's collection two or three of his poems before & am very glad to possess the collection. I have never read anything which carried me back to my childhood & early youth so completely as "The bubbling brook doth leap when I come by," for I was country, or rather I might almost say, forest born, and in those juvenile days, the bubbling brook, the trees the flowers, the wild animals were to me persons, not things, & though not of a poetic nature, I sympathised with those , as I have never done since with the society of men, too many of whom would find it hard to make out as good a claim to as a respectable oak can establish.
I had forgotten the moulded brick and horse-shoe arches of San Gimignano, at least
the details of them. I know no such specimens
elsewhere on this side of the Apennines.
I think in spite of D Mannhart that my eyes though bad enough, are not the worse for a little use of them, but I find the ne quid nimis a hard rule to follow.
Mrs Marsh, whose anxieties about Ellen seem to be wearing her out, joins me in kindest regards to all your party.
Very truly yoursGeo P MarshC E Norton Esq
References in this letter:
The first section of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the west wing, was opened in July 1876.
Caroline Crane Marsh had several nieces as companions at various times in Italy, of which Eleen was one.
Jones Very (1813-1880) published Essays and Poems, edited by Ralph Waldo Emerson, in 1839. The poem Marsh mentions is titled "Nature," one of four poems so titled; it also appears in The Household Book of Poetry, ed. Charles A. Dana, 1858. "Silsbee" is probably Benjamin Hodges Silsbee (1811-1880), a prominent merchant and civic leader in Salem, Massachusetts, Very's home.