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number of the American Antiquarian (page 378), under the heading "The Art of Ancient Yucatan: "
"I recently passed an evening with Dr. and Mrs. Le Plongeon, who, after twelve years spent in exploring the ruined cities of Yucatan, and studying the ancient and modern Maya language and character, are passing a few months in this country. The evening was passed in looking at photographs of the remains of architectural and plastic art, in examining tracings and squeezes from the walls of the buildings, in studying the accurate plans and measurements made by the doctor and his wife of those structures, in reviewing a small but exceedingly choice collection of relics, and in listening to the doctor's explanation of the Maya hieroglyphic system. Whatever opinion one may entertain of the analogies the doctor thinks he has discovered between Maya culture and language and those of Asia and Africa, no one who, as I had the privilege of doing, goes over the actual product of his labors and those of his accomplished wife, can doubt the magnitude of his discoveries and the new and valuable light they throw upon ancient Maya civilization. They correct, in various instances, the hasty deductions of Charnay, and they prove that buried under the tropical growth of the Yucatan forests still remain monuments of art that would surprise the world were they exhumed and rendered accessible to students."
Compare this with his other statement. It would indeed be most interesting to know if it was envy or charity that thus caused him to alter his mind. He has never visited the ruined cities of Yucatan, unless it be in imagination. He has, therefore, never made measurements of the buildings erected by the Mayas. How, then, can he know, of his own knowledge, which of our modern standards of lineal measures applies to them exactly? This, however, I do know, not from hearsay, but from actual experience, that the metre is the only measure which, when applied to said buildings, leaves no fraction. How, then, does he, a mere closet archeologist, dare impute to eccentricity my statement to the "American Antiquarian Society of Worcester," made first in June, 1878, and reiterated in 1881, which reads: "I have adopted the metric standard of lineal measure, not from choice, but from necessity, and
made the strange discovery that the metre is the only measure of dimension which agrees with that adopted by these most ancient artists and architects; another very striking point of contact with the Chaldean priests, the Magi"? In August, 1893, in the New York Advertiser, I publicly challenged Dr. Brinton to a conference before any scientific society of his own choice, to show what he really knew about the Mayas, their language, manners, customs, and history. He prudently took no notice of my challenge. But, being as desirous to defend my reputation in my chosen field of study as he is to shield his, I seized the opportunity offered by the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science holding their annual meetings, under his presidency, a few steps from my residence in the city of Brooklyn, to send him this second challenge, a copy of which was placed in his hand on August 20th, while he was standing with other members of the association in the reception room of the Polytechnic Institute:
DR. LE PLONGEON TO DR. BRINTON.
AN OPEN LETTER WHICH CONTAINS AN INVITATION TO A SCIENTIFIC DUEL.
The Eagle has received the following:
Dr. Daniel G. Brinton, President of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
SIR Do you remember that in 1887, when the American Association for the Advancement of Science met in New York at Columbia College, by direction of Professor Putnam, I wrote to you from this city, inquiring if I might be permitted to read a paper on "Ancient American Civilization " before the archæological department of said association, you being then the President of said section? Do you remember also that I did not receive until three weeks after the closing of the sessions of said association the answer to my letter, it having somehow been sent to San Francisco, Cal., instead of Brooklyn, L. I.? It is to avoid another such clerical mistake that I now take this mode of reaching the association and yourself.
You are well aware that during the last quarter of a century, particularly, human knowledge has made great progress in all branches of science except that of American archæology, which is not now much more advanced than it was a century ago. You also feel, if you do not admit it, that all that has been written on that subject in Europe and America does not pass from mere speculation on the part of the writers, and is therefore, scientifically and historically speaking, scarcely worth the paper on which said speculations and theories are printed; that none of the pretended authorities on the subject can read a single sentence of the Maya books and mural inscriptions; that they therefore know nothing about the ancient Mayas, their culture and scientific attainments, although some of said writers presume to pronounce magisterially on these subjects. You pose as, and are therefore considered, the authority in the United States on all questions pertaining to the ancient Mayas; for this reason I address myself to you, and also because you are now the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, whose members should be proud to help in shedding light on the ancient civilization of the continent on which they live.
In your book, "Essays of an Americanist" (p. 439), you aver that my asserting that the ancient Maya standard of lineal measures was the metre, or be it the ten millionth part of the quarter of the meridian, is one of my eccentricities, but give no reasons for so attacking my statement. A year
ago, through the columns of the New York Advertiser, a copy of which I mailed to your address, I sent you an invitation to prove your averment before any scientific society of your own choosing, provided the meeting were public.
There can be no better opportunity than the present, no better qualified audience than the scientists now assembled under your presidency, for passing judgment on all such questions.
Will you, then, appoint a day, at your own convenience, to meet me before the members of the association and discuss all points treated by you in your book above mentioned? 1. Maya phonetics. 2. What were the true signs used by ancient Mayas for the cardinal points? 3. Landa alphabet and Maya prophecies. 4. Maya standard of measures. And, besides, the following: (1) Maya science of numbers; (2) Maya cosmogony; (3) Maya knowledge of geography, geology; and, if you please (4), Maya language and its universal spread among all ancient civilized nations of antiquity in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
All said discussion to rest altogether on hard facts, scientific or historical, not on mere conjectures or suppositions, so as to be of real value to the scientific world, and thus give ancient America its proper place in the universal history of the world. Of course, the four hundred photographic
slides made by me from photos also taken by me in situ I most willingly place at your disposal to sustain your part of the discussion, which I doubt not you will readily accept to redeem your written promise, made to me as far back as 1885, as I intend using them to demonstrate my side of the case. Hoping, sir, that you will gladly improve the opportunity to show that you are really an authority, with right therefore to criticise others on such an important subject, to all American scientists, and afford me one for displaying my extravagancies or eccentricities before the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, I beg to subscribe myself, Yours most respectfully,
18 SIDNEY PLACE, August 18, 1894.1
AUGUSTUS LE PLONGEON.
Dr. Brinton took no more notice of this challenge than he had taken of the former one, published in August, 1893, in the New York Advertiser.
Is it that he regards me, claiming no title of professor in any university, nor even that of member of any scientific society, as an adversary unworthy of him, whose defeat would bring him neither fame nor honor? Or is it on prudential grounds? Does he fear lest his ignorance of a subject on which he claims to be an authority should be made manifest, and his reputation as a learned archæologist be lost forever? Since he has refused to give me the opportunity to defend myself against his unwarranted aspersion, I will say here what I would have said to him personally before the members of the A. A. A. S. had he accepted my challenge.
The learned Professor of American Archæology and Linguistics of the University of Pennsylvania seems to be ignorant of the fact that the Chaldeans, who, we have shown, were in
their origin a Maya colony, also used the metre as their standard of lineal measures. Will he likewise accuse Ernest Renan, the late famous French scientist and professor in the Collège de France, of eccentricity, because on pages 60 and 61 of his "Histoire Générale des langues Sémitiques," he says: "Le caractère grandiose des constructions Babyloniennes et Ninivites, le développement scientifique de la Chaldée, les rapports incontestables de la civilisation Assyrienne avec celle de l'Egypte, auraient leur cause dans cette première assise de peuples matérialistes, constructeurs, auxquels le monde entier doit avec LE SYSTÈME MÉTRIQUE les plus anciennes connaissances qui tiennent à l'astronomie, aux mathématiques et à l'industrie."
No doubt the Professor of Archæology of the Pennsylvania University will also accuse the learned English astronomer John Wilson of downright lunacy for stating in his work, "The Lost Solar System of the Ancients Discovered":1
"The adaptation of the Babylonian standard, based on a knowledge of the earth's circumference, to the monumental records of science prove that the Druids of Britain, the Persian Magi, the Brahmins of India, the Chaldees of Babylonia, the Egyptian hierarchy, the priests of Mexico and Peru, were all acquainted, as Cæsar says of the Druids, with the form and magnitude of the earth; or, as Pomponius Mela states, with the form and magnitude of the earth and motion of the stars.
"Hence it is evident that the world had been circumnavigated at an unknown epoch, and colonies formed in the old and new world, all making use of the same standard in the con
1 John Wilson, The Lost Solar System of the Ancients Discovered, vol. ii.,