Railway and Other Vandals
Theosophist, April, 1881
We learn from an Italian journal that hardly two years ago “nothing but the intervention of the most distinguished influence prevented a railway company from destroying the venerable remains of the old city wall built by Servius Tullius.”
This is real Vandal-work, and every archæologist will feel deeply grateful to the “distinguished influence”—whatever it was—for the timely intervention. Ethnology, philology, archæology, as also every other branch of science concerned with the past history of mankind, ought to protest against such ruthless destructiveness. But we feel less inclined to sympathize with the Diritto newspaper when it tells us that the Municipal Council of Rome “has just decreed the demolition of the Ghetto—a quarter of the town which is still inhabited for the most part by Jews.” True, the Diritto gives some good reasons why it should not be done; but it does not tell us how the municipality of any large city could without causing every municipal nose to rise in rebellion against it, have any longer left intact a pest-breeding stench hole noted throughout the world as being the most malodorous that any city can boast of. We confess that the projected demolition has some rights, though to the world’s regrets, not because as the same paper puts it, “it is probably the oldest ‘Jewry’ in the world”; or, that “it was recognized as a Jewish quarter before the Roman Empire arose on the ruins of the old Republic.” But, simply, for the reason that, “King Herod the Great built a palace there, and the Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, lived within it during their visit to the capital of the empire.” The Diritto remarks that “modern, utilitarianism has little respect for historic souvenirs.” True, but how can the Diritto say that the Municipality regards St. Peter and St. Paul as historical personages? Many do not.