Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Marsh, Charles
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|Edition of 1900. See also Charles Marsh, George Perkins Marsh and James Marsh (philosopher) on Wikipedia, and our Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography disclaimer.|
MARSH, Charles, lawyer, b. in Lebanon, Conn., 10 July, 1765; d. in Woodstock, Vt., 11 Jan., 1849. He settled with his parents in Vermont before the Revolutionary war, and was graduated at Dartmouth in 1786. After studying law he was admitted to the bar and practised at Woodstock, Vt., for about fifty years, becoming the senior member of the profession in Vermont. In 1797 he was appointed by President Washington to the office of district attorney of his state, and later was elected as a Federalist to congress, serving from 4 Dec., 1815, to 3 March, 1817. While in Washington he was a founder of the American colonization society, and he was a liberal benefactor of various missionary and Bible societies. He was prominent in the Dartmouth college controversy, a trustee in 1809-'49, and received the degree of LL. D. from that college in 1828. Mr. Marsh was president of the Vermont Bible society and vice-president of the American Bible society and of the American education society. —
His son, George Perkins, diplomatist, b. in Woodstock, Vt., 15 March, 1801; d. in Vallombrosa, Italy, 23 July, 1882. He was graduated at Dartmouth in 1820, admitted to the bar after studying law in Burlington, and speedily obtained a large practice. Meanwhile he was active in politics, and in 1835 was elected a member of the legislature, becoming at the same time one of the supreme executive council of Vermont. In 1842 he was elected as a Whig to congress, and served with re-elections until 1849, when he resigned to accept the appointment of minister to Turkey. This post he held until December, 1853, during which time he rendered valuable service to the cause of civil and religious toleration in that empire, and in 1852 he was charged with a special mission to Greece. (See King, Jonas.) He accomplished this task with a vigor that surprised the diplomatists of Athens and showed a masterly knowledge of the Greek constitution and legislation, as well as of international law. In 1857 he was appointed by the governor of Vermont to make a report to the legislature in regard to the artificial propagation of fish. He had previously been appointed one of the commissioners to rebuild the state-house at Montpelier, and in 1857-'9 he held the office of state railroad commissioner. In 1861 he was appointed the first U. S. minister to the new kingdom of Italy, and retained that post for the remainder of his life. No American living ever had anything approaching the personal prestige with the Italian government that Mr. Marsh enjoyed; and that not for the sake of the government, but for his own. The length of his diplomatic service is said to have exceeded that of any other American, not excepting Benjamin Franklin. He received the degree of LL. D. from Harvard in 1859, and from Dartmouth in 1860, and was connected with the National academy of sciences and other learned societies. Mr. Marsh achieved a reputation by his philological studies, especially in the languages and literature of the north of Europe. He was an admirer of the Goths, whose presence he traced in whatever is great and peculiar in the character of the founders of New England. His work in this department began when he was a young lawyer in Vermont, and his first publication was “A Compendious Grammar of the Old Northern or Icelandic Language,” compiled and translated from the grammar of Rask (printed but not published, Burlington, 1838). He owned the finest collection of Scandinavian literature except those in the northern kingdoms, part of which ultimately became the property of the University of Vermont, through the liberality of Frederick Billings. During the winter of 1858-'9 he began a course of thirty lectures on the English language at Columbia, and a year later he delivered a second course, on the grammatical history of English literature, before the Lowell institute, in Boston. He also prepared an American edition of Hensleigh Wedgwood's “Dictionary of English Etymology” (New York, 1862), to which he made large additions and annotations. In addition to his published addresses, and articles on philological subjects in reviews, he was the author of “The Camel, his Organization, Habits, and Uses, considered with reference to his Introduction into the United States” (Boston, 1856); “Lectures on the English Language” (New York, 1861); “Origin and History of the English Language, and of the Early Literature it embodies” (1862); and “Man and Nature, or Physical Geography as modified by Human Action” (1864). The last work, with numerous corrections by the author, was translated into Italian (Florence, 1870), and afterward almost entirely rewritten and republished under the title “The Earth, as modified by Human Action” (New York, 1874). See “A Discourse Commemorative of the Hon. George Perkins Marsh,” by Samuel G. Brown (Burlington, 1883). — His wife, Caroline Crane, b. in Berkley, Mass., 1 Dec., 1816, married Mr. Marsh in 1838. She has published “The Hallig, or the Sheepfold in the Waters: A Tale of Humble Life on the Coast of Schleswig,” translated from the German of Biernatzki, with a biographical sketch of the author (Boston, 1857), and “Wolfe of the Knoll, and other Poems” (New York, 1860). Mrs. Marsh has now (1888) in preparation a life of her husband, the publication of which has been delayed by her serious illness. — James, nephew of Charles, clergyman, b. in Hartford, Vt., 19 July, 1794; d. in Colchester, Vt., 3 July, 1842. He was graduated at Dartmouth in 1817, and at Andover theological seminary in 1822, meanwhile serving as tutor at Dartmouth in 1818-'20, and spending several months in study at Cambridge. In October, 1824, he was ordained as a Congregational clergyman at Hanover, and then was professor of languages and biblical literature at Hampden Sidney college, Va., until 1826, when he was appointed president of the University of Vermont. This office he held until 1833, and introduced a less severe discipline among the students. He resigned to fill the chair of moral and intellectual philosophy, which he retained until his death. The religious movement of 1836, known as the “new measures,” met with his disapproval, and was severely denounced, even at the expense of his reputation, but ultimately the majority of the community accepted his view. He received the degree of D. D. from Columbia in 1830, and from Amherst in 1833. His literary work was quite large, and he was among the first to revive by his writings the scholastic dogma of “Crede ut intelligas,” in opposition to that of “Intellige ut credas.” In 1829 he contributed a series of papers on “Popular Education” to the “Vermont Chronicle,” under the pen-name of “Philopolis,” and he published a “Preliminary Essay” to Coleridge's “Aids to Reflection” (Burlington, 1829), and “Selections from the Old English Writers on Practical Theology” (1830). Besides these he issued several translations from the German, including Herder's “Spirit of Hebrew Poetry” (1833). His literary remains were collected and published, with a memoir of their author, by Joseph Torrey (1843).