Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/127

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117
THE SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES OF ITALY.

leader in science, as Viviani, the great geometer, and Torricelli, the inventor of the barometor, at Florence, the Morgagni at Bologna, and Da Vinci at Milan.

If all these could have been consolidated into one central corporation, their Transactions would have compared favorably with those of any other similar society. Another source of the unfruitfulness of Italian scientific societies was the emigration of some of their most eminent members to foreign cities, induced by the wider fields and richer rewards which such cities as Paris and St. Petersburg offered in contrast to those of one of their narrow republics.

But more than all this, more than all else combined, was the deadening influence of ecclesiastical disapprobation. In this atmosphere no freedom of thought or independence of research was possible.

To what purpose were life and energies to be devoted to the discovery of some great law of Nature, to find the results, if displeasing to the ecclesiastical authorities, interdicted from publication, and the person, instead of decorations, subjected to imprisonment, or worse? But the present and future are more hopeful. The atmosphere is clearer and healthier, although it required the thunder and lightning of Garibaldi and Victor Emanuel to effect it.

The old Italy has passed away.

There is now a Giovine Italia, and there is every indication of a new impetus to scientific research.

When we recall such names as Columbus, Cardan, Leonardo da Vinci, Bruno, Galileo, Porta, Cesi, Fabricius, Torricelli, Viviani, Telesio, Campanella, Vanini, Bovelli, Cassini, Bellini, Morgagni, Malpighi, Galvani, and Volta, it is but to be reminded of many of the most glorious achievements of science, though some of the authors were obliged to go to other countries to obtain them, while of those who remained in Italy some were rewarded with the stake. If so much was done under such adverse circumstances, one can not but wonder what would have been the result had science received the same encouragement in Italy that fostered art and music, and which science received in London, Paris, Berlin, and St. Petersburg.

 


 
The present position of anthropology, says Dr. Alexander Macalister, of the Anthropological Section of the British Association, is critical and peculiar; for while on the one hand the facilities for research are daily growing greater in some directions, the material is diminishing in quantity and accessibility—treasures both of the structure and the works of man are accumulating in our museums, but, at the same time, some of the most interesting tribes have vanished, and others are rapidly disappearing or being absorbed in other races.