** UPDATE ** The Problems Relating to the Management & Excavations of the Archaeological Ruins of Herculaneum / Pompeii & Prof. Charles Waldstein – “Herculaneum”: An international Committee to Fund and Excavate Herculaneum (1904-10).
Foto: Fonte / source: Prof. Charles Waldstein, in: The Literary Digest, Vol. 30. n. 5, Feb. 4th, 1905, p. 162-163.
– s.v., Prof. Charles Waldstein, Herculaneum: past, present & future. (Maxsimillian Co., 1908). =
Ercolano: nel passato, nel presente e nell’avenire (S.T.E.N., Società Tipografico-Editrice Nazionale, 1910).
– s.v., PROFESSOR WALDSTEIN AND THE EXCAVATION OF HERCULANEUM. [ American architect and architecture, Volumes 91-92, n. 1639 (May 25th, 1907), pp. 210-211.]
IN a recent letter to the London Times, Professor Charles Waldstein sets forth in this wise his position in his controversy with the Italian Government on the subject of the excavation of Herculaneum. He says:
Sir:—When, in April. 1904, I had succeeded in gaining the support of the chief Italian authorities for my plan of an international excavation of Herculaneum, in conjunction with and under the direction of the Italian archaeologists and under Italian laws, the matter was settled in its first stage by the warm assent of the then Minister of Public Instruction, Signor Orlando. He supplied me with my credentials, which were to show the world that I was acting with the cognizance and the direct encouragement of the Italian Government, by giving me, at my request, the letter which has already been published. In this letter he recognized all the difficulties which lay before me in this iniziotka modioli’ before I could secure the co-operation of the civilized world for such a colossal and ideal task, and expressed the hope that I should not meet with insuperable difficulties.
I thereupon began my propaganda for the international enter prise in Europe and the United States, and carried the first stage almost to completion, in a manner which was as satisfactory to me as it was surprising.
When, however, in January of 1905, from utterances in the Italian press, and from a speech made by Signor Orlando in the Italian Chamber, it became manifest that the Italian Government was no longer prepared to support my scheme whole-heartedly, I wrote as follows, in a letter published in the Times of January 23. I9°5. in which letter 1 also insisted upon the competence of Italian archaeologists. “Compare,” I urged upon the reader, “the appropriations made by the Italian Government for archaeological, scientific and artistic work with those of our own Budget, and our admiration of the Italian sense of intellectuality as a factor of national life may not exclude a sense of shame as regards our own national attitude in such matters.” The letter ended with the following passage:
“Should the Italian nation object to such international work and excavate Herculaneum themselves, I shall not regret the efforts I have made for the wider plan. Herculaneum will be restored to light, which is the most important matter. But at the same time I shall regret that Italy docs not also seize this opportunity of making itself the centre for a great work in which all civilized nations will unite in harmony on the very soil upon which the essence of their common civilization rests. This would be thttype for other similar enterprises in science and art, and would confirm de facto what the peace conferences and the treaties of arbitration are establishing de jure. One thing remains certain, that without the cordial and unqualified assent, nay, the positive encouragement, of the Italian Government, the Italian people, and my Italian confreres, the work on which I am engaged cannot proceed.”
What I then said in 1905 was meant in all sincerity and applies to the present moment. Herculaneum must be excavated as soon as possible, because of the quite exceptional character of what we have every reason to expect to find, because of the increased difficulties and cost which every year and week of delay entail, and because of the advantages to the living and coming generations which the results will yield, and of which they ought not to be deprived. On this all who have any right to an opinion —from Beule and Gaston Boissier to Reinach and Professor Dall’ Osso of the Museum of Naples, the greatest authority on such matters in the present day—are agreed.
What happened since January, 1905, may be outlined briefly by the following salient events:
In the autumn of 1905 the project was submitted by the Italian Government to the Central Commission dealing with such matters. This commission recommended its adoption by nine votes to four—four abstaining; while Professor de Salinas, of Palermo, subsequently published the fact that he was temporarily absent when the vote was taken, but that he would have voted for the proposal. It is a noteworthy fact, which has only become known recently, that Commendatore Boni absented himself from the meeting held at Rome which other members, travelling from Palermo and Milan, made a point of attending.
After some delay I was officially informed of this vote through the Italian embassy in London. The Government had changed, and Signor Bianchi succeeded Signor Orlando. In the spring of 1906 I informed Signor Bianchi, through the British embassy of Rome and the Italian embassy of London, that I was willing to travel to Rome to see him, if there was any chance that the whole question could be finally settled one way or the other. I was informed that Signor Bianchi could not undertake to promise this.
Thus the matter remained undecided, until, last autumn (September, 1906), a Giolitti cabinet having again come to power, I traveled to Rome to see Signor Tittoni by appointment, as well as S’ignor Rava, the present Minister of Public Instruction. Signor Rava had gone to Milan (whence I came) on my arrival in Rome, and had returned to Rome when I arrived in Milan, owing to exigencies of his office. But the Minister of Foreign Affairs—with whom I, as a foreigner, would also naturally deal —though he pointed out that the matter was not in his immediate competence (ressort), manifested his sympathetic interest in it, and assured me that the question would be pushed to a conclusion without delay. This promise was manifestly fulfilled, for the project was again referred to the Central Commission, who, in November of last year, to the agreeable surprise of all concerned, unanimously recommended its acceptance, and strongly urged upon the Government its speedy realization. I must again point out—which I did not know before—that Commendatore Boni had absented himself from this meeting also. Meanwhile, besides this remarkable support of the archaeologists, public opinion in Italy, as represented by the press, had emphatically turned in favor of my international plan and gave it unqualified and enthusiastic approval. This can prove at any moment, as I have received the newspaper cuttings from all parts of Italy. The Giornale d’Italia, of Rome—formerly more or less opposed to the scheme—printed a long article by Professor Conti, who had been the most decided opponent before, in which that archaeologist generously recanted his previous condemnation of my efforts, and lavished unqualified praise on myself and my work. The Tribuna—the paper supposed to be most immediately in touch with the Government, formerly distinctly unfavorable to the scheme—published three long articles by Professor Dall’ Osso, supporting it in the strongest manner, and giving a most luminous expose of the way in which the actual work should be undertaken. It was thus assumed, from November to February, by the Italians and by the whole world that the question was settled and the project accepted. I was myself informed by those competent that this was the case, and, though I received no official intimation to that effect, 1 myself felt convinced that the matter was settled.
Then, towards the end of February, there appeared the extract from Commendatore Boni’s letter to me—-which I had not yet received—and in three days the decision of the Italian authorities was apparently reversed. I say “apparently,” because I have only the conflicting newspaper reports and private information to go upon, for I have not yet received official information on the matter. The subjoined letter to Signor Corrado Ricci will make clear this last phase:
Propriety St. Franqols, Gairaut, Nice, April 7, 1907.
Sir:—In the month of October of last year you sent me a very courteous reply to a letter in which I had pointed out to you the interpretation which had been given to certain expressions of yours cited by the newspapers to my disadvantage, and you assured me that it was not to me that your words applied. At the same time you announced to me that my project concerning Herculaneum, which had been discussed for two years past, would shortly be submitted afresh to the Central Commission, adding that, although at the moment your personal opinion was not favorable, you would not in any way use your official position to influence the members of the commission.
Evidently you had loyally kept this promise, for. at the beginning of the month of November, all the newspapers announced that the commission had expressed itself unanimously in favor of the project, while laying down certain just conditions and recommending its speedy realization to the Government. Of this I had information from the newspapers and from private sources, but I have had no direct or official communication. Our ambassador at Rome and yours in London assured me that they had more than once written and requested that this direct and official communication should be sent to me. In reply to a letter written by me to Signor Tittoni, the only member of the Government with whom I had conferred in person, his Excellency wrote to me in the month of February that the question would be immediately decided by the Council of Ministers, and that I should receive a direct communication.
You know the events that followed the publication of Commendatore Boni’s letter. The newspapers announced that my project had been rejected by the Government. On the 23d of February our ambassador at Rome informed me that he had received a letter from H. E. Signor Rava, in which the latter said that the decision of the Government would be sent to me. Since then, in reply to a letter addressed to H. E. Signor Tittoni, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied to me that the information would be immediately sent direct to me from that of Public Instruction. It is now the 7th of April, and I have yet received no official communication either of the decision passed by the Central Commission at the beginning of last November or of the rejection of my project in the month of February, while the newspapers write of the subject and discuss it repeatedly. I am receiving letters from all quarters asking me for information concerning the facts of a matter in which I am believed to be the person most immediately concerned.
This is the simple state of the case, and I must ask you and also the Minister of Public Instruction to take cognizance of it, and to act as seems to you appropriate in the interest of a question of such importance for science, for Italy, and for the world of culture. Yours very truly, Charles Waldstein.
To: Professor Corrado Ricci, Director-General of Fine Arts and Antiques.
It now only remains for me again to express the hope that the Italian authorities will speedily undertake the excavation of Herculaneum themselves, and will carry it to a successful issue, and to give utterance to my sincere gratification that under the present Government such splendid appropriations are being made for archaeological research. Such efforts can but evoke joy and admiration in all those interested in archaeology, in science, art and culture.
Allow me, in fine, to seize this opportunity of thanking all those, in Italy, and every part of the world, who directly or indirectly have given me help and encouragement. Above all, I should like to acknowledge publicly my debt of gratitude to my friend, Mr. Leonard Shoobridge. It was he who, in 1903, urged me actually to take in hand the international scheme, which I had developed for so many years, but did not see my way to carry into effect owing to my numerous duties. His active cooperation led to my decision. We traveled to Italy together in the spring of 1904. He prepared the way, by study, on the spot, by procuring copious illustrations and collecting the literature on the subject, and has since given me moral and actual support in the work which has demanded some energy and sacrifice.
P. S.—Since the above was written, I have received a letter from Signor Corrado Ricci, to which I have sent the following reply, here given in translation:
“Propriety St. Franqois, Galraut, Nice, “April 17. 1907.
“Sir:—I have just received your kind letter, which you tell me is ‘privee et personnelle.’ I am thus debarred from publishing its contents. My letter to you was in no way personal, but purely official. I asked of you and of the Minister of Public Instruction that, at last, some direct and authentic information be given me as to the fate of my ‘international project,’ which has now been discussed for three years. Your letter does not provide this information, and I must again beg that this he sent to me in accordance with the promise made by the Minister of Public Instruction to our ambassador on February 23.
“Believe me yours very truly, Charles Waldstein.”
Fonte / source: PROFESSOR WALDSTEIN AND THE EXCAVATION OF HERCULANEUM. American architect and architecture, Volumes 91-92, n. 1639 (May 25th, 1907), pp. 210-211. =
– s.v., VARIE. – [Bollettino d’arte, La Libreria dello Stato., 1907 p. 34.] Per gli scavi di Ercolano. — Non è vera l’affermazione fatta che il Governo italiano non abbia mai risposto alle lettere del prof. Waldstein. Risulta infatti che con lettera 2 luglio 1905 l’Ambasciatore italiano a Londra gli comunicò la decisione del Ministero dell’Istruzione di voler sentire sulla sua proposta di scavo il parere della Commissione centrale delle antichità e belle arti, e che questo parere, dato nel dicembre del 1905, fu presto comunicato al prof. Waldstein, il quale ringraziò il nostro Ambasciatore a Londra con lettera 3 gennaio 1906.
Il secondo parere dato – di sua iniziativa dalla Commissione centrale nel novembre 1906 – mentre l’oggetto non era all’ordine del giorno – toccava solamente una parte della quistione, cioè quella d’indole scientifica; l’altra parte, relativa al concorso finanziario straniero, doveva essere esaminata e risoluta dall’autorità politica. Perciò nessuna comunicazione poteva essere l’atta al prof. Waldstein prima che di ciò si fossero occupati i ministri competenti. Appena presa una decisione in proposito, il Ministero dell’Istruzione l’ha comunicata a quello degli Esteri. Il ministro Rava non ebbe mai lettera dal signor prof. Waldstein e perciò non doveva rispondere.
Non sono nemmeno esatte le altre affermazioni del prof. Waldstein. Egli dice che la Commissione centrale votò unanime in favore della sua proposta, mentre è da notare che Giacomo Boni, il quale vi appartiene, ha scritta la lettera che tutti conoscono contro il progetto Waldstein. Molto meno è esatto che la stampa italiana sia stata unanime, perchè oltre quella lettera del Boni vi ha quella del prof. Zuretti dell’Università di Palermo pubblicata dal Giornale d’Italia dell’8 marzo, che conclude: « E necessario far da noi e non lasciar fare ad altri. L’attuale decisione del Consiglio dei Ministri bene « risponde ai doveri ed alle necessità d’Italia ed io, uomo non di fazione, me ne allieto col Ministro « della Pubblica Istruzione ». E vi e il voto dell’Accademia di S. Luca, proposto dal senatore Finali, assolutamente contrario al progetto Waldstein.
A questo stesso proposito, il Direttore Generale delle antichità e delle belle arti ebbe occasione di scrivere:
Nel « Colloquio col prof. Waldstein sugli Scavi di Ercolano » pubblicato nel Corriere della Sera del 24 corrente leggo questo periodo : « Posso dire di non aver mai avuto risposta, dalle autorità competenti, alle mie lettere e alle mie sollecitazioni ». Ora io non so se il prof. Waldstein riconosca in me, per la mia qualità di Direttore Generale per le Antichità e Belle Arti, una autorità competente. In tal caso è bene che si sappia che alla sua lettera del 18 ottobre sugli scavi d’Ercolano risposi senz’altro il 26 dello stesso mese, e che egli ne accusò ricevuta tre giorni dopo con una sua da Cambridge che comincia proprio cosi :« je vous remercie pour votre lettre du 26 d. e. m. »
Bollettino d’arte, La Libreria dello Stato., 1907 p. 34. By Italy. Ministero dell’educazione nazionale, Italy. Direzione generale per le antichità e belle arti. =
– s.v., NOTIZARIO — La questione di Ercolano [Rivista Rassegna contemporanea (1908), p. 678] — L’archeologo inglese Carlo Waldstein ha pubblicato un volume, esponendo il suo vasto progetto, per il quale doveva risorgere dalla sua tomba di lava e di cenere l’antica Ercolano mediante il concorso sia di danaro sia di lavoro di tutte le nazioni. È noto che il governo italiano rifiutò la generosa proposta affermando che l’escavazione di Ercolano doveva essere opera nazionale. Ora infatti una Commissione governativa, incaricata dello studio della questione, è sul posto, procedendo a sondaggi, dopo essere stata autorizzata a scavare dei pezzi di esplorazione. La Commissione è composta del prof. De Petra, insegnante di archeologia all’Università di Napoli, presidente, del prof. Di Lorenzo, ordinario di geologia nello stesso Ateneo, del comm. Giacomo Boni, direttore degli scavi del Foro Romano, degli ing. Simonetti e di Mauro del genio civile.
Si tratta anzitutto di accertare la costituzione geologica della formazione vulcanica sotto cui é rimasta sepolta Ercolano e sulla quale è sorto, in riva al golfo partenopeo, il comune di Resina. Ciò è essenziale per la soluzione del problema che si debba procedere a scavi con sterri alla superficie dopo espropriata e demolita la nuova città sorta sopra l’antica, o se si possa procedere sotterra all’apertura di gallerie e di incunaboli senza pericoli statici. C’è anche di mezzo l’avvocatura erariale per la questione degli esproprii. Ma è certo che gli scavi governativi si faranno e che ad essi non saranno negati i fondi necessari. Speriamo che le cose non procedano con la lentezza burocratica, alla quale purtroppo siamo abituati, si che non debba rimanere quasi vano il nobile gesto di rifiuto dell’aiuto straniero.
Fonte / source: NOTIZARIO — La questione di Ercolano [Rivista Rassegna contemporanea (1908), p. 678]
– s.v., Amedeo Maiuri, Vita d’archeologo: cronache dell’archeologia napoletana (Rusconi, 1992 ).
– s.v, Laurentino García y García, Nova bibliotheca pompeiana: 250 anni di bibliografia archeologica : Vol. II ( Bardi, 1998).