Letter from CAROLINE CRANE MARSH to HIRAM POWERS, dated April 13, 1863.

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Publication InformationCastello di PiobesiApril 13 '63

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My dear Mr Powers,

Mr Marsh tells me he is about sending you some seeds, and I want to have a word with you myself on two very different topics. The Eve--and the rebellion. As to the first, I cannot tell you how much we admire it. You know Mr Marsh has said from the first that it is your finest thing. I thought so too when I was looking at it, but when I was looking at the Slave, at the America, c I could not find it in my heart to put anything above them. Now I see the face by itself it strikes me as far lovelier than I had remembered it. It is wonderfully original in its type, certainly not less remarkable in this respect than the Sybil or Cleopatra of Story, and far, far more beautiful than

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either of them. I do not know whether Mr Marsh will write to you what he says to me--at any rate you know we are too old friends to say anything about it in the way of praise that we do not most sincerely. I long for it to be finished in marble. Now for the rebellion. Last summer and autumn, with McClellan in command and the Democrats in the ascendant, I admit that not only you and Mr Marsh, but every American who loves his country, had good reason well-nigh to despair. But now, with McClellan fast sinking into obscurity, with the Democratic party dwindled down to a greatly reduced number of Copperheads, and these Copperheads nearly everywhere turning tail; with our financial condition improving; with a spirit on the part of the Nation ready to declare war against Great Britain if she does not behave herself, and not in the least afraid of the consequences, I cant imagine why you despond. The Proclamation of the President has done us much service in Europe, the negroes have behaved admirably in Kansas, they have worked faithfully and most successfully on the Sea-Islands, they have fought heroically in Florida, been guilty of none of the barbarous excesses foretold of them, and if they have not risen to claim their freedom as widely as was hoped, the previous action of the government, the shameful course so long pursued by our officers in sending back fugitives, the faithlessness of such fellows as Greeley, who is at this moment advocating the right of the President to recall his Proclamation and reestablish Slavery in any State that may choose to come back--are not these enough to explain the slowness of the Slave to risk the little well-being he has upon such chances? We may get bad news today perhaps--that is, we may hear of a repulse here, or a repulse there,--but we shall triumph in the end--we shall see England as obsequious as she now is abusive--we

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shall see that impertinent French Emperor back out from his pretensions to limit the extent of the territory of the United States,--we shall see him glad enough to quit the Mexican soil even if he should succeed in taking the Capital, and in humbling the Mexicans at this moment when he knows we are in no condition to tell him to keep on the other side of the Water. We tell him so yet though, and I trust we may all live to see that day--no distant one I believe. Here end politics except that I add for your diversion a precious specimen of immortal verse from a distinguished Copperhead. I beg you to read, mark, and inwardly digest. We have just had a hearty laugh over it and it was voted unanimously to "send it to Mr Powers." What comes next is especially for --for men don't like to hear about household plagues. Tell her we have been trying all winter to get a house in Turin, that we couldn't without paying fifteen thousand francs a year which we couldn't possibly afford, that we took one out here a dozen miles from town at a lower rent, that now we are here we find we cant stay--we have every thing to bring from Turin which is very expensive and obliges us to keep a carriage--worse than this, the situation is unhealthy, and, after all the trouble of moving to this distance we shall go back to Turin the first moment we can find a house there. All this would be very annoying to persons less experienced than ourselves in such overturnings, but we are like the eels and dont mind it. I was more disappointed last Winter in not having a home in Turin to which I could ask dear Nannie

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for a few weeks than for any other reason, but I still hope that is only a pleasure postponed. How much she, as well as all the rest of you must have enjoyed Lulie's visit. As you do not speak of Florence in your last we trust she is quite well again.

Now I must maintain the reputation of my sex by closing my sheet with asking a favour. Let me premise my request by assuring you that if you have the least reason in the world for not acceeding to it I shall be perfectly satisfied. By fulfilling it you will enable me to gratify the ravenous curiosity of a great many friends of mine--by objecting you will furnish me with a good excuse for not gratifying them which you know is much the same thing. What I have to ask is a photograph, or, rather some photographs, of the model on which you were working in the early part of June last--alias, that of your humble petitioner. If one of your photographers will do this for me with your consent he shall receive an equivalent in the form of a vaglia postale by due return of mail. But don't mind saying if you had say no, I shan't pout. Will you remember me kindly to good Mr Hart and tell him I ought to have thanked him long ago for some fine patriotic lines received from him at New Years, but we have had a half feeling that we might come to Florence this spring and I have waited to see him. To the Browns also a friendly message. Oh, I shall have such a funny story to tell you when we meet about my correspondence with Mrs Stout--how it began and how it ended--, but I have no room now. Very affec. messages to dear Mrs Powers and all the young people.

Always very faithfully your friendC. C. Marsh.

References in this letter:

"Eve Disconsolate," a full-size bust of a nude female figure made in 1862, was taken from the full-size statue of the same name which Powers sculpted between 1859 and 1861 and which, Powers wrote, depicts "Eve accusing the serpent." Over the next decade numerous marble replicas were sold, several of which are today in American museums like the Smithsonian Institution, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Powers' heroic statue of a partially-clothed female figure representing the United States was modeled in plaster between August 1848 and September 1849. The marble replica made from it, completed in 1855, never found a buyer and was destroyed in a warehouse fire in Brooklyn, New York, in 1865.

William Wetmore Story (1819-1895), a graduate of Harvard Law School, eventually left the law for sculpture, settling in Rome. Two of his most famous pieces, both reflecting an interest in exotic subjects, are "Cleopatra" (1858) and "The Libyan Sibyl" (1861).

On September 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which abolished slavery in the states of the Confederacy as of January 1, 1863.

Anna Barker Powers ("Nannie"), Hiram and Elizabeth Powers' fourth child, was born in Florence in 1841 and died in 1919.

Powers, as a gesture of friendship to Caroline Crane Marsh (1816-1901) and her husband, George Perkins Marsh, American ambassador to Italy, had her sit for a bust in June 1862. The marble replica made from the plaster cast, presented to the Marshes in late 1864 or early 1865, is now in the Fleming Museum of the University of Vermont.

Joel Tanner Hart (1810-1877), a largely self-taught sculptor from Kentucky who lived much of his life in Florence, is primarily known for his statue and bust of Henry Clay, but in his early years he also produced busts of Andrew Jackson and Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903), an abolitionist and fellow Kentuckian.