The Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Robinson) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 21.]
My Dear Mr. Secretary: In conformity with my agreement to keep your Department closely in touch with the progress of events concerning the endeavors of this Museum to prevent a change in, the antiquity laws of Egypt which would affect the rights we have hitherto enjoyed, especially that entitling us to one half of the portable antiquities discovered in our excavations, I beg to inform you of the following developments which have occurred since my return from Washington on May 15.
On May 17 a cablegram was received at this Museum from Mr. Ambrose Lansing, a member of our expedition who still remains in Egypt, which decoded reads as follows:
Old antiquities law will not be changed, but permits will include Lacau’s proposed basis of division which will be interpreted liberally, the Egyptian Government not desiring cessation of work. Howell’s sailing delayed.
As you will observe, in spite of the statement that the law will not be changed, the words which I have underscored do constitute a very important change, and one which affects most seriously the conditions under which we should be allowed to work. Indeed it embodies the very project which M. Lacau has been trying to enforce for the last two years, and which we have been doing our utmost to prevent. It will bring about a situation in which this, Museum cannot continue its work of excavation in Egypt, as it gives us no rights or assurances whatever on the point at issue. Consequently, at a meeting of our Board of Trustees yesterday afternoon the following vote was unanimously passed:
Resolved: That the Director be instructed to forward the following cablegram to Mr. Lansing:
Yours received. Inform Dr. Howell that Trustees positively decline to resume excavations under conditions proposed or under any permit which threatens or infringes upon the eminently fair and equitable arrangement under which Metmusart has hitherto excavated.
This vote was transmitted to Mr. Lansing by cable immediately after the meeting.[Page 720]
In sending you this information, and in behalf of the Trustees of the Museum, I beg to express the hope that we may continue to count upon the sympathy of the State Department in our position, and the continuance of the support which has been so very helpful to us in the past towards maintaining the rights and privileges which we, in common with all other foreign excavators in Egypt, have enjoyed for many years past. The situation appears to be critical and to call for immediate action.
Very respectfully yours