Updated last: Jan 2, 2010
Matthew Fontaine Maury:
The story has now been confirmed to be true!
Oh the victory of this timeless story over those who called this the "Maury Myth"!
A Brief Sketch of the Work of
WHEN I took charge of the Georgia Room, in the Confederate Museum, in Richmond, Virginia in 1897, I found among the De Renne collection an engraving of the pleasant, intellectual face of Commodore Matthew Fontaine Maury, so I went to his son, Colonel Richard L. Maury, who had been with his father in all his work here, and urged him to write the history of it, while memory, papers and books could be referred to; this carefully written, accurate paper was the result.
At one time, when Commodore Maury was very sick, he asked one of his daughters to get the Bible and read to him. She chose Psalm 8, the eighth verse of which speaks of "whatsoever walketh through the paths of the sea," he repeated "the paths of the sea, the paths of the sea, if God says the paths of the sea, they are there, and if I ever get out of this bed I will find them."
He did begin his deep sea soundings as soon as he was strong enough, and found that two ridges extended from the New York coast to England, so he made charts for ships to sail over one path to England and return over the other.
The proceeds from the sale of this little pamphlet will be used as the beginning of a fund for the erection of a monument to Commodore Maury in Richmond.
KATHERINE C. STILES.
See also: God's inspired message to man. Scientific evidences to prove it!!!
Some have called into question the Story of Matthew Maury using the Bible as a guide to discover ocean currents. In a nutshell, I find it incredible that the US Naval Institute would not only publish the story if untrue in 1929, but then puts the quote of the entire verse of Ps 8:8 "Paths of the seas" on his monument. What did the US Naval academy know that modern skeptics don't know that would lead them to do this? The book also references an earlier newspaper story that says the same thing. But the evidence gets even more powerful, given the fact that the State of Virginia built a monument to Maury at Goshen Pass in 1923 and put this inscription on it: "HIS INSPIRATION HOLY WRIT Psalms 8 and 107, Verses 8, 23 and 24 Ecclesiastes Chap. 1, Verse 8". Perhaps one of the most important reasons NOT to reject the story, is because no one BACK THEN questioned it! To me the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour that the basic story must be true. The US Navel academy and the State of Virginia are not some irresponsible Internet vigilantes promoting rumors and half truths. THEY ARE THE AUTHORITATIVE HISTORIANS. The only question is about WHEN Maury was first inspired by the Bible to discover ocean currents. Bible skeptics have supplied no argument that has not been answered. Until Bible skeptics supply me with some documented reason to reject the story, it remains a basic fact of history.
Front view of the Monument
Side view. Bible sitting on floor behind his feet.
Note on the above monument:
Maury Tombstone located at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
Can someone send me the inscription text?
Did Maury discover Ocean current?
See this link: God's inspired message to man. Scientific evidences to prove it!!!
Did Maury himself know about ocean currents before his word began? Bible haters suggest that the ocean currents were quite well known and make it sound like Maury hardly discovered anything regarding the paths in the sea. The issue is not if some others knew about a single ocean current like the gulf stream, but if Maury had this information available to him.
When Did Maury's daughter say he first conceived the idea of paths of the sea?
During a time at sea, after having searched in vain for ocean current charts, when he was intensely studying the Bible. Maury likely first connected the Bible verse of Ps 8 here before he was married (2 years later) and over the next 10 years continued his research. This does not prove the story about being in a sick bed and having his son read to him Ps 8 untrue, only that it may have provided a second reminder of something he had already conceived. In any case, it is clear that the Bible was the inspiration for his work.
TRUE OR FALSE? The Maury story: "He took God at His word and believed Ps 8 "Paths of the sea" and used it as a motivation to discover the ocean currents.
See this link: God's inspired message to man. Scientific evidences to prove it!!!
Science and the Bible! Maury believed the Bible was inspired by God and contained scientific truths revealed before man discovered it for himself!
A book or a chart in the hand in Richmond monument???
1. The Encyclopedia Britannica (on Line edition) refers to this website for more information about the Maury statue that says Maury is holding a book. "In this sculpture, Maury is seated in an armchair holding a book. Behind him stands a large base on which rests a globe of the world and relief figures moving about it. The vertical axis established by Maury in the armchair and the globe hovering above is balanced by the horizontal axis of Maury's elbows splayed outward on the armrests of the chair. Sievers has rendered Maury sitting in a contemplative mood, his head is tilted downward as if the weight of this world bears upon him.
2. "In his right hand are the pencil and compass, and his left hand a chart." (Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Seas, by C.L. Lewis. 1927 by the U. S. Naval Institute)
3. This book has a good black and white photo of the monument in Richmond. Although not definitive, it appears to be a chart because of the curly shape of it. (The Pathfinder of the Seas, The Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, John W. Wayland, 1930)
This photo settles the issue:
Maury's article: The Bible And Science, Jan. 22, 1855
From the Southern Churchman : -
1etter, by M. F. MAURY.
THE BIBLE AND SCIENCE.
Observatory, Washington, Jan. 22, 1855.
Your letterrevived pleasant remembrances. Your questions are themes. It would require volumes to contain the answers to them.
You ask about the "harmony of science and revelation," and wish to know if I find distinct traces in the Old Testament of scientific knowledge, and in the Bible any knowledge of the winds and ocean currents. Yes, knowledge the most correct and reliable.
Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades ? It is a curious fact, that the revelations of science have led astronomers of our own day to the discovery, that the sun is not the dead centre of motion around which comets sweep and planets whirl, but that it, with its splendid retinue of worlds and satellites, is revolving through space at the rate of millions of miles in a year, and in obedience to some influence situated precisely in the, direction of the star Alcyon, one of the Pleiades. We do not know how far off in the immensities of space that centre of revolving cycles and epicycles may be, nor have our oldest observers or nicest instruments been able to tell us how far off in the, skies that beautiful cluster of stars is hung "whose influences man can never bind." In this question alone, and the answer to it, are involved both the recognition and the exposition of the whole theory of gravitation.
Science taught that the world was round; but potentates pronounced the belief heretical, notwithstanding the Psalmist, while apostrophizing the works of creation in one of his sublime moods of inspiration, " when prophets spake as they were moved," had called the world " the round world," and bade it rejoice."
You remember when Galileo was in prison a pump-maker came to him with his difficulties, because his pump would not lift water higher than thirty-two feet. The old philosopher thought it was because the atmosphere would not press the water up any higher; but the hand of persecution was upon him, and he was afraid to say the air had lie weight. Now had he looked to the science of the Bible would have discovered that the " perfect man of Uz," moved by inspiration, had proclaimed the fact thousands of years before-" He maketh weight for the wind." Job is very learned, and his speeches abound iii scientific lore. The persecutors of the old astronomers would also have been wiser and far more just had they paid more attention to this wonderful book, for there they would have learned that He "stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing."
Here is another proof that Job was familiar with the laws of gravitation, for lie knew how the world was held in its place ; and as for " the empty place " in the sky, Sir John Herschel has been sounding, the heavens with his powerful telescope, and gauging the stars ; and where do you think lie found the most barren part--" the empty places " of the sky ? In the north, precisely where Job told Bildad, the Shuhite, empty place was stretched out. It is there where comets most delight to roam and hide themselves in emptiness.
I pass by the history of creation as it is written on the tablets of the rocks and in the Book of Revelation, because the question has been discussed so much and so often, that you, no doubt, are familiar with the whole subject. In both the order of creation is the same. First, the plants to afford subsistence, and then the animals, the chief point of apparent difference being as to the duration of the period between "the evening and the morning." "A thousand years are in His sight as one day," and the Mosaic account affords evidence itself that the term "day," as there used, is not that which comprehends our twenty-four hours. It was a day that had its " evening and morning " before the sun was made.
I will, however, before proceeding further, ask pardon for mentioning a rule of conduct which I have adopted in order to make progress with these physical researches, which have occupied so much of my time and so many of my thoughts. The rule is, never to forget who is the Author of the great volume which Nature spreads out before us, and always to remember that the same Being is the Author of the book which revelation holds up to us, and though the two works are entirely different, their records are equally true, and when they bear upon the same point, as now and then they do, it is as impossible that they should contradict each other as it is that either should contradict itself. If the two cannot be reconciled, the fault is ours, and is because, in our blindness and weakness, we have not been able to interpret aright either the one or the other, or both.
Solomon, in a single verse, describes the circulation of the atmosphereas actual observation is now showing it to be. That it has its laws, and is obedient to order as the heavenly host in their movements, we infer from the facts announced by him, and which contain the essence of volumes by other men. " All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; " " Into the place from whence, the rivers come, thither they return again."
To investigate the laws which govern the winds and rule the sea is one of the most profitable and beautiful occupations that a man -an improving, progressive man- can have. Pecked with stars as the sky is, the field of astronomy affords no subjects of contemplation more ennobling, more sublime, or more profitable than those which we may find in the air and the sea. When we regard these from certain points of view, they present the appearance of wayward things obedient to no law, but fickle in their movements and subject only to chance.
Yet, when we go as truth-loving, knowledge -seeking explorers, and knock at their secret chambers and devoutly ask what are the laws which govern them, we are taught, in terms the most impressive, that " when the morning stars sang together the waves also lifted up their voice," and the winds too, joined in the mighty anthem."
And as the discovery advances, we find the mark of order in the sea and in the air that is in tune with the "music of the spheres," and the conviction is forced upon us that the laws of all are nothing else but perfect harmony.
M. F. MAURY, Lieut. U.S. Navy
("A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury" by Diana Fontaine Maury Corbin. 1888 AD, p158)
Maury's Public Address: Nov. 30th, 1860
Nov. 30th, 1860
Maury's address at the laying of the corner-stone of the University of the South, on the Sewanee Mountains in East Tennessee, was delivered at the request of Bishop Otey on Nov. 30th, 1860.
"Physical geography," he said, "makes the whole world kin. Of all the departments in the domains of physical science, it is the most Christianising. Astronomy is grand and sublime; but astronomy overpowers with its infinities, overwhelms with its immensities. Physical geography charms with its wonders, and delights with the benignity of its economy. Astronomy ignores the existence of man physical geography confesses that existence, and is based on the, Biblical doctrine 'that the earth was made for man.' 'Upon no other theory can it be studied-upon no other theory can its phenomena be reconciled. . . .
The astronomer regards the light and heat of the sun as emanations; -is forces to guide the planets in their orbits and light comets in their flight - nothing more. But the physical geographer, when he warms himself by the coal fire in winter, or studies by the light of the gas-burner at night, recognizes in the light and heat which lie then enjoys the identical light and heat which came from the sun ages ago, and which, with provident care, have been bottled away in the shape of a mineral, and stored away in the bowels of the earth for man's use, thence to be taken at his convenience and liberated at will for his manifold purposes.
" Here, in the schools which are soon to be opened, within the walls of this institution which we are preparing to establish in this wood, and the corner-stone of which has just been laid, the masters of this newly-ordained science will teach our sons to regard some of the commonest things as the most important agents in the physical economy of our planet. They are also mighty ministers of the Creator.
Take this water " (holding up a glassful) " and ask the student of physical geography to explain a portion only of its multitudinous offices in helping to make the, earth fit for man's habitation. There may be in it a drop of the very same (for in the economy of nature nothing is ever lost or wasted) which watered the Garden of Eden when Adam was there; escaping thence, through the veins of the earth into the rivers, it reached the sea. Passing along its channels of circulation, it was conveyed far away by its currents to those springs in the ocean which feed the winds with vapour for rains among these mountains; taking up the, heat in these southern climes, where otherwise it would become excessive, it bottles it away in its own little vesicles. These are invisible; but, rendering the heat latent and innocuous, they pass like sightless couriers of the air through their appointed channels, and arrive in the upper sky. This mountain draws the heat from them; they are formed into clouds and condensed into rain, which, falling to the earth, make it soft with showers, causing the trees of the fields to clap their hands, the valleys to shout, and the mountains to sing.". Thus the earth is made to yield her increase, and the heart of man is glad.
Nor does the office of this cup of water in the physical economy end here. It has brought heat from the sea in the, southern hemisphere to be set free here for the regulation of our climates; it has ministered to the green plants, and given meat and drink to man and beast. It has now to cater among the rocks for the fish and insects of the sea. Eating away your mountains, it fills up the valleys, and then, loaded with lime and salts of various minerals, it goes singing and dancing and leaping back to the sea, owning man, by the way, as a task-master-turning mills driving machinery, transporting merchandise for him-and finally reaching, the ocean. It there joins the currents to be conveyed to its appointed place, which it never fails to reach in due time, with food ill due quantities for the inhabitants of the deep, and with materials of the right kind to be elaborated, in the workshops of the sea, into pearls, corals, and islands-all for man's use.
"Thus the right-minded student of this science is brought to recognize in the, dewdrop the materials of which 'He who walketh upon the wings of the wind maketh His chariot.' He also discovers in the raindrop a clue by which the Christian philosopher may be conducted into the very chambers from which the, hills are watered.
I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes, and is therefore, of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority for everything it touches. What would you think of the historian who should refuse to consult the historical records of the Bible, because the Bible was not written for the purposes of history ? The Bible is true and science is true and therefore each, the truth of the other if truly read, but proves the truth of the other. The agents in the physical economy of our planet are ministers of Him who made both it and the Bible. The records which He has chosen to make through the agency of these ministers of His upon the crust of the earth are as true as the records which, by the hands of His prophets and servants, He has been pleased to make in the Book of Life.
They are both true; and when your men of science, with vain and hasty conceit, announce the discovery of disagreement between them, rely upon it, the fault is not with the witness of His records, but with the worm who essays to interpret evidence which lie does not understand.
When I, a pioneer in one department of this beautiful science, discover the truths of Revelation and the truths of science reflecting light the one upon the other, how can I as a truth-loving knowledge-seeking man, fail to point out the beauty and rejoice in its discovery? Reticence on such an occasion would be sin, and were I to suppress the emotion with which such discoveries ought to stir the soul the 'waves of the sea would lift up their voice,' and the very stones of the earth cry out against me.
As a student of physical geography, I regard earth, sea, air, and water as parts of a machine, pieces of mechanism, not made with hands, but to which, nevertheless, certain offices have been assigned in the terrestrial economy ; and when, after patient research, I am led to the discovery of one of these offices, I feel, with the astronomer of old, 'as though I had thought one of God's thoughts, and tremble. Thus as we, progress with our science, we are permitted now and then to point out here and there the physical machinery of the earth a design of the Great Architect when He planned it all.
"Take the little Nautili. Where do the fragile creatures go? What directing hand guides them from sea to sea ? What breeze fills the violet sails of their tiny craft? And by whose skill is it enabled to brave the sea, and defy the fury of the gale? What mysterious compass directs the flotilla of the graceful Argonauts? Coming down from the Indian Ocean, and arriving off the stormy Cape, they separate, the one part steering for the Pacific, the other standing for the Atlantic Ocean. Soon the ephemeral life that animates these little Navigators will be extinct; but the same power that cared for them in life, now guides them after death; for though dead, their task in the physical economy of our planet is not yet finished, nor have they ceased to afford instruction in philosophy.
The frail shell is now to lie drawn to distant seas by the lower currents. Like the leaf carried through the air by the wind the lifeless remains descend from depth to depth by an insensible fall, even to the appointed burial-place, on the bottom of the deep, there to be collected into heaps, and gathered into beds -which at some day are to appear above the surface, a storehouse rich with fertilizing ingredients for man's use. Some day science will sound the depths to which this dead shell, has fallen, and the little creature will perhaps afford solution for a problem as yet -unsolved ; for it may be the means of revealing the existence of the submarine currents that have carried it off, and of enabling the physical geographer to trace out the secret paths of the sea.
"Had I time I might show how mountains, deserts, winds, and water, when treated by the light of this beautiful science, all join in one universal harmony, for each one has its part to perform in the great concert of nature. . . .
The Church, ere yet physical geography had attained to the dignity of a science in our schools, and even before man had endowed it with a name saw and appreciated its dignity, the virtue of its chief agents. What have we heard here in this grove by a thousand voices this morning ? A song of praise, such as these hills have not heard since the morning stars sang together the 'Benedicite' of our mother Church invoking the very agents whose workings and offices it is the business of the physical geographer to study and point out. In her services she teaches her children in their songs of praise to call upon certain physical agents, principals in this newly-established department of human knowledge; upon the waters above the, firmament, upon the showers, dew, wind, fire and heat winter and summer frost and cold ice and snow, night and day, light and darkness, lightning and clouds, mountains and hills, green things, tree and plants, whales and all things that move in the waters fowls of the air, with beasts and cattle, to bless, praise, and magnify the Lord!
("A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury" by Diana Fontaine Maury Corbin. 1888 AD, p175)
"216. As our knowledge of the laws of nature has increased, so have our readings of the Bible improved.- The Bible frequently makes allusion to the laws of nature, their operation and effects. But such allusions are often so wrapped in the folds of the peculiar and graceful drapery with which its language is occasionally clothed that the meaning, though peeping out from its thin covering all the while, yet lies in some sense concealed, until the lights and revelations of science are thrown upon it; then it bursts out and strikes us with exquisite force and beauty. As our knowledge of Nature and her laws has increased, so has our understanding of many passages in the Bible been improved. The Psalmist called the earth the round world;" yet for ages it was the most damnable heresy for Christian men to say the world is round; and, finally, sailors circumnavigated the globe, proved the Bible to be right, and saved Christian men of science from the stake. Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades Astronomers of the present day, if they have not answered this question, have thrown so much light upon it as to show that, if ever it, be answered by man, he must consult the science of astronomy. It has being recently all but proved, that the earth and sun, with their splendid retinue of comets, satellites, and planets, are all in motion around some, point or centre of attraction inconceivably remote, and that the point is in the direction of the star Alcyon, one or the Pleiades. Who but the astronomer, then, Could tell their " sweet influences?" And as for the general system of atmospherical circulation which I have been so long endeavoring to describe, the Bible tells it all in a single sentence: The wind goeth towards the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits."" - Ecclesiastes 1:6 (M.F. Maury, Physical Geography of the Sea and its Meteorology, 1888 AD, p82, section 216)
The early career of Fontaine:
In 1831 Maury was appointed master of the sloop-of-war 'Falmouth,' which had been ordered to the Pacific Station. ... In the 'Falmouth' Maury had a cabin to himself, and in addition to his own small store of books he had the use of a fine collection belong to a richer messmate (William Irving brother to the author of the 'Sketch-book'). But he was never a great reader. He was often heard to say that it was not until he had been put repeatedly to the blush because. of his ignorance of the standard literature of the day and had wondered at the evident delight afforded to some of his companions on reading or quoting a beautiful or striking passage, that he resolutely set himself to work to read the English classics, and to try to enjoy what gave so much pleasure to the most cultivated of his associates. His was eminently an original mind, and he delighted to spend hours in meditation, working out his own great ideas. But he had the Bible and Shakespeare at his fingers' ends, and his many writings abound in quotations from both. It was during this voyage in the 'Falmouth' to Rio de Janeiro, on his way to the Pacific, that he conceived the idea of the celebrated Wind and Current Charts, which have since accomplished so much for the commerce of the world. This was the first occasion in which he accepted the responsibility of sailing-master and lie was naturally anxious to make a quick voyage. Before leaving New York he had searched in every direction for reliable information as to the winds and currents to be encountered, and the best path for his vessel to follow. He soon found that little was known on the subject. Here was a deplorable want which the man of genius resolved he would one day supply. It was on this voyage also that he observed and began to study the curious Phenomenon of the 'low barometer' off Cape Horn, and it was upon this subject that he wrote his first scientific paper for publication, which appeared in the American 'Journal of Science.' But the labours of his pen did not end here, for it was on this cruise also that lie began to prepare for the press a work on navigation, the, materials for which he had been gathering together in his mind for several years. (A Life of Matthew Fontain Maury, Diana Fontaine Maury Corbin, 1888 AD p21-23)
Goshen Pass Monument with inscription
The Inscription on bronze plaque:
MATTHEW FONTAINE MAURY
Born January 14th, 1806
FOR COUNTLESS AGES
HIS INSPIRATION HOLY WRIT
From: The Pathfinder of the Seas, The Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, John W. Wayland, 1930
Today the stream through the picturesque and historic gorge is called Maury River, and the winding road from Lexington to Goshen is Maury Highway. Halfway through the pass, under the shadow of a cliff and bordered by spruce and rhododendron, stands a granite shaft to Maury, erected in 1923 by the State of Virginia. A bust-relief of Maury is at the top of the bronze tablet on the shaft, and below it is this inscription:
MATTHEW FONTAINE MAURY
PATHFINDER OF THE SEAS
THE GENIUS WHO FIRST SNATCHED
FROM THE OCEAN AND ATMOSPHERE
THE SECRET OF THEIR LAWS.
Born January 14th, 1806
Died at Lexington, Va., February 1st, 1873
Carried through Goshen Pass to his Final
Resting Place in Richmond, Virginia.
FOR COUNTLESS AGES
AS HE TAKES HIS CHART TO SHAPE
HIS COURSE ACROSS THE SEAS,
WILL THINK OF THEE.
HIS INSPIRATION HOLY WRIT
Psalms 8 and 107, Verses 8, 23 and 24
Ecclesiastes Chap. 1, Verse 8
A TRIBUTE BY HIS NATIVE STATE
At the base of the granite shaft is a huge iron anchor; and around the small enclosure is the long anchor chain. On the anchor is a small bronze plate with this inscription:
OF THE SEAS"
IN APPRECIATION OF HIS SERVICES
TO THE MARINERS OF THE WORLD
VIRGINIA PILOT ASSOCIATION
(The Pathfinder of the Seas, The Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, John W. Wayland, 1930)
Information from Brooke Ramsey and Sarah Dobson at the University of Virginia
The Matthew Fontaine Maury Monument was the last of the Confederate monuments to be erected on Monument Avenue. The Women's Club of Virginia was the driving force behind the construction of this monument. Donations from the State of Virginia, the City of Richmond, and private benefactors were collected by the Women's Club in order to amass $60,000 which was the cost of the monument. The site selected was at Belmont and Monument, marking the second end point of Monument Avenue, the first had been The Jefferson Davis Monument. The Matthew Fontaine Maury Monument was unveiled on November 11, 1929.
The sculptor of The Stonewall Jackson Monument, Richmonder William F. Sievers, was also selected to design the Maury monument. In this sculpture, Maury is seated in an armchair holding a book. Behind him stands a large base on which rests a globe of the world and relief figures moving about it. The vertical axis established by Maury in the armchair and the globe hovering above is balanced by the horizontal axis of Maury's elbows splayed outward on the armrests of the chair. Sievers has rendered Maury sitting in a contemplative mood, his head is tilted downward as if the weight of this world bears upon him.
Sievers composed this statue with images of water, land, and sky, relating to Maury's achievements in oceanography, navigation, and meteorology. Jellyfish are sculpted in the arms of the chair, and bats, swallows, and fish encircle the base supporting the globe. Arguably the most arresting aspect of the statue, the globe tilts off-axis with figures of humans and animals projecting from it. Sculpted in high relief, the expressive nature of these figures lends a feeling of movement and rotation to the sculpture. The action of the figures is divided into scenes of desperation and struggle on water and land. In the water scene, Sievers created a group of people clinging to a capsized boat; the boat is being towed, possibly to safety, by a female figure. In the land scene a male farmer and his son appear to be running from danger and are followed by their dog and cow. The farmer leads this group with his hand outstretched to the woman towing the capsized boat from the water scene.
The Matthew Fontaine Maury Monument stands at the end of the historic section of statues on Monument Avenue. Stylistically speaking, this sculpture is the most complex of all the monuments. Sievers captured an entire range of experiences in this monument and equated Maury with playing a part in all of them. His talents reach beyond the Civil War, and for this reason the statue has been referred to as the man of peace amidst the other Confederate war heroes. (A web site created and maintained by Brooke Ramsey and Sarah Dobson at the University of Virginia.)
Compiled by Steve Rudd
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