vendredi 25 juin 2010

À propos de Caviglia - 4e partie

Avec la présente note, nous voici parvenus au terme d'un mini-inventaire sur l'apport de Caviglia, marin converti sur le tard à l'égyptologie, à ladite science.
Après les propos "sur", place maintenant aux propos, même indirects, "de" Caviglia, qui ne se prive pas de répondre à celui qui fut d'abord son maître, pour devenir ensuite son critique déclaré : Howard Vyse.
Il y est question de règlement de comptes (dans tous les sens de l'expression), la défense répondant à l'accusation. Sous des airs de chamaillerie surréaliste concernant l'appellation à retenir pour telle ou telle chambre de décharge dans la Chambre du Roi de la Grande Pyramide, l'autodéfense de Caviglia est un brin pathétique. Elle concerne surtout sa crédibilité, le sérieux de ses travaux, le jugement que portera l'histoire sur des années de longues et pénibles recherches de nouveaux indices ou autres constats venant éclairer un pan essentiel de l'archéologie égyptienne.
Aux propos on ne peut plus explicites de Vyse le taxant d'incompétence, Caviglia riposte en mettant en cause le comportement hégémonique et arrogant de son accusateur. Et de revendiquer la paternité de ses "discoveries", quoi qu'il en coûte à l' "esprit de corps" bien mis à mal en la circonstance.
Où se trouve donc la vérité dans cette polémique ? Ce blog est ouvert aux points de vue plus autorisés que le mien. Il importerait en tout premier lieu de savoir si l'histoire a tranché entre les deux présentations, pour le moins divergentes, d'une même page, ô combien importante, des découvertes archéologiques sur le plateau de Guizeh.
Les textes qui suivent sont extraits, sous le titre "A brief account of the discoveries made in Egypt, between the years 1820 and 1836, by T.B. Caviglia", de la revue Tait's Edinburgh Magazine for 1837, vol. IV.
Le colonel Patrick Campbell y est plusieurs fois cité. Cet officier diplomate britannique fut Consul général en Égypte de 1833 à 1841. L'une des chambres de décharge dans la Grande Pyramide porte son nom, sur une proposition de Giovanni Battista Caviglia.

Lettre de présentation par B.C.
To the Editor of Tait's Magazine. 

"The following, being translations of letters which have been sent to me for publication, by Mr. Caviglia, you will probably think worthy of an early insertion in your Magazine. The facts alleged in these letters rest for proof entirely upon the authority and veracity of the writer ; and you will, therefore, probably deem it due to justice, and to the characters of Colonel Vyse and Colonel Campbell, to proffer the use of your pages to those gentlemen, for an explanation of the part they have taken in the interesting transactions referred to. For your justification, and the satisfaction of your readers, however, I can state, in corroboration of the principal incidents alluded to, that, having myself visited Egypt in the course of a tour in the East, during portions of the last and present year, and having paid several visits to the Pyramids, I there made the acquaintance of Mr Caviglia, who was, at the time, engaged in superintending the labours of a party of workmen, who were paid by Colonel Campbell, Colonel Vyse, Mr Sloane, and himself, jointly, as described in the following letters. I spent the month of January in Cairo and the neighbourhood, and frequently met and conversed with Mr Caviglia, upon the subject of his views and projects ; but I found that, both towards myself and others, who took an interest in his scientific labours, he maintained a prudent reserve respecting the discoveries he expected to make, and the operations by which he hoped to effect them. I mention this to shew that, if he imparted his secrets to Colonel Vyse, it must have been in a spirit of confidence, springing from the intimate alliance they had entered into. How far that confidence has been abused must be determined by other testimony than mine, as I have no means of judging of the circumstances of the case, excepting such as are given in Mr Caviglia's own letters below.
One word as to the names with which the chamber discovered by Caviglia, is to be christened ; for it seems that rival godfathers are disputing over the subject. It appears that, whilst the discoverer of the chamber in question would give it the title of O'Connell, Colonel Vyse, with an esprit-de-corps, not a little natural, assigns to it the name of Wellington. Neither name is, in my opinion, well chosen. For the Liberator of Ireland, a fame more imperishable than even the Pyramids themselves has already been secured, at the hands of the historian : whilst the hero of Waterloo, if he be not remembered in the bridges, streets, and tools, which are named after him, will for ever be preserved in our memory, by those annual instalments which, in the form of taxation, are levied in payment for his glory. In my opinion, the apartment should be named after its discoverer, Caviglia, as both the most proper and most euphonious title. Colonel Campbell, whose name has been given to one of these discoveries, has no right to identify himself in any way with the triumph of antiquarian science ; not having, since his residence in Egypt, as British Cosul, until the present questionable instance, lent the slightest assistance to the cause of such researches. I would recommend to his notice and imitation, the very opposite conduct of his worthy predecessor, Mr Salt, who, whilst he patronised the exertions of such enterprising individuals as Belzoni and others, left them in the undisputed possession of all the honour which justly accrued from their meritorious labours. I venture, then, to give to the lately-discovered apartment the name of the Caviglia Chamber ; in justice to the fame of an amiable and enthusiastic devotee at the shrine of antiquarian learning - in justice to one who has sacrificed country, home, friends, and fortune, for the indulgence of the refined though eccentric taite, for exploring the hidden mysteries of the Pyramids and tombs of Egypt."
B.C. Manchester, 20th Aug. 1837

Photo Marc Chartier
"Captain Caviglia - already known by the discoveries which he made in 1817 in the intent of the great Pyramid, by the discovery of the temple situated betwixt the fore-feet of the Andro-Sphinx ; as well as by other labours crowned with similar success - begs to submit to the notice of the scientific world the results of his subsequent exertions in the same great field of antiquarian learning.
In 1820, upon revisiting the great Pyramid, he was induced to try an experiment, by pushing into the two small apertures which are on the north and south sides of the "King's Chamber", a great number of palm branches, tied together, to the length of about 120 feet ; and which led him to the opinion that there were other apartments in the interior of this monument. But, having failed in the attempt to enlarge these small openings, owing to the want of proper implements for working the granite with which the chamber is lined, he determined to pierce another passage in the calcareous stone of which the body of the Pyramid is formed, beginning at the right-hand side of the entrance to the chamber, in the hope of striking upon the above small passage, in the calcareous mass to the north.
Having excavated to the distance of about 15 feet, the above-named small aperture, the course of which tended at an angle of about 271 to the westward, was encountered ; and afterwards the labours of the workmen were diligently continued in the same direction.
But, with a view to come upon the track of the other hole which opens into the south side of the King's Chamber, Captain Caviglia caused another passage to be opened in the calcareous stone to the south of the ''Davison Chamber" ; and, having penetrated about 20 feet, without rinding the object of his search, he gave orders to the workmen to continue their labours in another direction.
After much labour, in 1817, Caviglia exposed to view the north and east sides of the Andro-Sphinx, which, together with the base, he discovered to be so delicately coated with a reddish-coloured composition, that it left him in doubt whether the covering had originally been of plaster or paint. In 1820, he moreover discovered the west side of this monument, which he now found to be placed upon a pedestal, likewise plastered or painted, and surrounded by a ditch cut in the rock, intended probably for the circulation of water, which was supplied from a canal in the neighbourhood, an indicated by a bridge in the embankment, to the south-east of the trees in the valley.
Whilst engaged in superintending the above works, Captain Caviglia discovered, in a valley five miles to the north-west of the great Pyramid, several houses and tombs, together with a large cistern, the whole cut from the solid rock, and presenting no traces of hieroglyphics ; which latter circumstance has given rise to the opinion that this valley was peopled by an ancient race, of whose name and history we are totally ignorant. In the same valley, Caviglia having observed the traces of a road, which conducted him to the summit of a small hill, he there laid open to view the base of a Pyramid of about 300 feet square, surrounded by small pyramids of granite, which had nearly crumbled to dust beneath the hand of time. There is little doubt that these monuments had a much earlier origin than the Pyramids of Gizeh, the granite that covers the smallest of which is still in a tolerable state of preservation. Having suspended his labours in the neighbourhood of the great Pyramids, he went, in 1821, to the vicinity of Memphis, where his labours were that year rewarded by the discovery of the colossal statue of the great Sesostris, the magnitude and beauty of which are known throughout the scientific world.
In 1836, Captain Caviglia resumed his labours at the great Pyramids, with the hope of finding some additional chambers. He discovered, in the second of these monuments, at the point where the passages of the two entries unite, to conduct to the chamber discovered by Belzoni in the centre, a third passage, which, in the circumstance of its communicating with the other entries of Belzoni, by means of a small well, presents a feature of interest to the scientific student of the principles of Egyptian architecture. After considering as to the best mode of prosecuting further investigations in the interior of the above Pyramid, it was determined to open its exterior entry, situated at the base ; when it was found, at the distance of 43 feet from this entrance, that the rocky foundation had been plastered or painted red, in the same manner as the Andro-Sphinx ; and a similar circumstance was observed with reference to a step, situated at eleven feet nearer the soughtfor entrance. As this red plaster or paint is of the same kind as that which is found upon the stones which have crumbled from the faces of the Pyramids, there is reason to conclude that the whole of the exterior surface of those monuments, as well as the principal part of their foundations, was painted or plastered red. Another incident tends to confirm this supposition. Having picked up, at the eastern base of the great Pyramid, a stone covered with a coat of red paint, which he accidentally shewed to an English traveller, Mr H. B. Agnew, that gentleman produced a stone of the same kind, covered also with a red paint or plaster, which he had found on the west side of the same monument. From that time there was no longer reason to doubt that the two great Pyramids, as well as the Andro-Sphinx, had been originally covered with a surface of plaster, in colour very much resembling the red granite with which the third Pyramid only was cased.
The unsuccessful attempts which have been made by a variety of persons to open the smallest of the three great Pyramids, induced Caviglia to make an experiment, by piercing another passage at a certain height on the north side, in the hope of being able to penetrate more easily the interior, than by searching for an entrance at the base.
As the works before referred to, in the interior of the great Pyramid, proceeded necessarily very slowly, it was determined, without interrupting them, to commence an opening above that of the entrance to Davison's Chamber ; and it is hoped that, in a short time, it will be found practicable to penetrate above the ceiling of that chamber.
Besides the above labours, Caviglia has discovered, at a distance of 300 feet to the west-north-west of the Andro-Sphinx, a large tomb, surrounded with a ditch sixty-eight feet long, and six wide, and already excavated to the depth of about fifty feet, cut out of the solid rock, and altogether of a style of construction so peculiar as to warrant the hope that it may lead to still more interesting results.
Captain Caviglia has found it necessary to suspend his labours ; but he hopes soon to be able to resume them, and to continue his operations without further interruption. And he will deem it his duty to announce his further progress to the scientific world, of which he has the honour to regard himself as the devoted and obliged servant."
(Signed) T. B. Caviglia.
Alexandria, 2d April 1837


Letter from T. B. Caviglia, addressed to Colonel Campbell, Consul-General and Agent of his Britannic Majesty in Egypt and its dependencies :
In the brief account which I have published to the scientific world of my discoveries in the Pyramids of Gizeh and their environs, I stated :
1. That I had commenced an opening above that of the entrance to Davison's Chamber, and that I hoped soon to be able to penetrate above the ceiling of that chamber.
2. That I had discovered, at a distance of 300 feet to the west-north-west of the Andro-Sphinx, a large tomb, surrounded with a ditch, sixty-eight feet long, and six wide, and already excavated to the depth of about fifty feet, cut out of the solid rock, and of a construction so peculiar as to lead to the hope of still more important results.
At the moment when these hopes have been realized, and these results obtained by Colonel Vyse, it becomes my duty to make known to the public why I have been compelled to suspend my labours : and how I have been superseded as director by that gentleman : justice requires that we should render unto every one according to his works.
When, in the month of November last, in conjunction with Colonel Vyse and Mr Charles Sloane, your vice-consul at Alexandria, you made me an offer that, if I would again take upon myself to direct the works at the Pyramids of Gizeh and the neighbourhood, you would furnish me with the funds and the firman necessary to the undertaking ; and that, as a recompense for my services, I should receive a fourth part of such antiquities as I might discover - I accepted the proposal, begging you, at the sane time, to be good enough to offer to the disposal of the British Museum my share of our future discoveries. It was thus that I disposed of the antiquities which I found in the year 1817.
In fulfilment of the above arrangement, having received £ 40 from each of my three associates, and being provided with a.firman from the Pasha in my own name, I forthwith commenced my labours. A short time afterwards, you paid me a visit, accompanied by Colonel Vyse, when you were so fully satisfied with an inspection of the works, that you gave orders to your vice-consul at Cairo to furnish me with additional funds for the further prosecution of the undertaking. Soon afterwards, however, Colonel Vyse came and took up his residence at the Pyramids with me. Regarding him in the relation of a partner, I felt no hesitation in confiding to him my views and ideas as to the direction of our works ; and I explained to him, in all the security of the most perfect confidence, the minutest details of my plans. Of course, I did not allow the unworthy suspicion to enter my mind, that he would profit by my frankness, in a manner so unbecoming his rank as to supplant me in my capacity of director of the works.
On the 10th February last, I was superintending the labour of 150 work-people at different points, when Colonel Vyse, without assigning any other reason than his own humour, proposed to employ, at his expense, and on his own account, 300 additional labourers. It became my duty to sustain the rights of the partnership ; and I explained to him that one individual had not the right to embark in such an undertaking, on his own account, without the previous consent of all the members of the association ; and, besides that, being the holder of the government firman in my own name, and having been the first to discover the unexplored passage in which we were still prosecuting our labours, I could not consent that he should take upon himself to act thus despotically, to the injury of the rights of the partnership, and to the detriment of my own individual reputation. Having, in consequence of that which had passed between Colonel Vyse and myself, paid you a visit in Cairo, to apprise you of the proceedings of that gentleman, 1 was a good deal hurt at finding a character of indecision in your observations upon the subject ; but the letter you did me the honour to transmit me two days afterwards, 
a copy of which is given below, cleared up my doubts as to your intentions ; and I now perceive, that it was determined, by Colonel Vyse and yourself, to dispense with my services, and to profit, in concert, by the results of my previous studies and researches in these monuments, which I had so freely imparted to you. Nevertheless, I obeyed your orders, and returned to you the firman which had been granted to me by the Egyptian government. But let it not be imagined that, in doing so, I acted from ignorance of my own rights or duties. I was influenced entirely by a prudent sense of the deference and respect which are due to power, especially in a foreign land.
But, further, when Colonel Vyse affected to solicit your permission to continue the works in the large tomb which I had discovered, I stated, in reply to the letter which you did me the favour to send me on the subject, that not only were the parties interested at liberty to proceed with the works in that tomb, but also to pursue further discoveries in all those other monuments which I had brought to light in the years 1817, 1820, 1821, 1836, and 1837 ; thus preferring the progress of scientific discovery to my own private resentment. This correspondence, however, which took place after my return to Alexandria, offers no palliation for the injustice previously exercised towards me.
Subsequently, in a conversation with you at Cairo, I requested your consent to be allowed to form another association, for the purpose of continuing my labours, but which you formally refused ; intimating, as a reason, that, not having, like Colonel Vyse, the command of great pecuniary resources, I was not in a condition, like him, to prosecute such expensive undertakings : thus, then, because Colonel Vyse is a richer man than myself, he has been allowed to commit an act of injustice, to despoil me, probably, of the fruits of a life of study and labour, and to trample under foot those courtesies of society which are reciprocally due from one individual to another. I addressed a similar request to you in writing, to which you replied, verbally, through your vice-consul at Alexandria, that the firman, though made out in my name, was specially intended for you and Colonel Vyse ; which leaves no room to doubt the deplorable fact of a special understanding having been entered into to my prejudice.
I am then forced to conclude, that, to favour Colonel Vyse, a great abuse of authority has been committed against myself; and I am bound to add, that a just sense of what is due to my character, will compel me to submit to the tribunals of public opinion the above statement of facts ; and to demand, at the hands of the scientific world, an award of the fame due for the discoveries which have just been made, and which were only seized upon by others at the very moment when, after years of labour and study, I was about to realize them. In the capacity of proprietor of these discoveries, seeing that the author has alone the right to name his own works, I have, moreover, to announce to you that I have given to the chamber in the great pyramid, situated above that of Davison, the name of the O'Connell Chamber, which will serve as a memorial of the toils he has endured for the cause of the people - as, in fact, this monument itself does of the sufferings of the oppressed people whose hands erected it.
I have the honour to be, etc."
(Signed) T. B. Caviolia. Alexandria, 21st April 1837.

N.B. - Since forwarding the above letter to Colonel Campbell, I have learned that Colonel Vyse has given the names of Wellington and Campbell to the two discoveries above referred to, and I understand that he is following up successfully other works, according to the plan traced out in my account, published in the Journal of Malta of the 22d March.

Cairo, 12th Feb. 1837.
"My Dear Mr Caviglia,
As I find that the affair of the Pyramids gives me nothing but trouble and annoyance, I have determined, though with much regret, to withdraw altogether from the undertaking.
It therefore becomes necessary that you should consider our labours as finished, and you will be pleased to send me the firman, and the translation ; as it at present belongs by right to Colonel Vyse, with whom the sheiks of the villages will henceforth concert their operations. You will also be pleased to pay the government cavass and dismiss him.
It now only remains for me to assure you how sensible I feel of the zeal you have manifested in our undertaking ; and that it is with the utmost regret, that I find myself compelled by circumstances to decline your co-operation, as well as the pleasure which I had promised myself, from the prosecution of the works at the Pyramids.
I beg you to believe that I remain, etc."
(Signed) Pat. Campbell 

Aucun commentaire: