Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/565

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SKETCH OF PAOLO MANTEGAZZA.
SKETCH OF PAOLO MANTEGAZZA.

By Prof. FREDERICK STARR.

AS a nation-we know far too little of what is being accomplished in the world outside. We do in some degree keep track of the work of our English brothers, and occasionally some French or German worker compels our recognition. But there are many intelligent readers who do not know that Italy is to-day a veritable center of scientific work. Yet such is the case, and in such sciences as astronomy, zoölogy, and botany great progress is making there. Nor are they at all behind in anthropology; and the man who leads in Italian anthropology is Paolo Mantegazza.

No doubt to many American readers his Physiognomy and Expression, lately put into an English dress, is the only work of Mantegazza's known. It is a remarkable book — not only on account of its matter, which is of great value, but also on account of its style. There is scarcely a scientific book in any language that so plainly reflects its author, in his individual and ethnic characteristics. To read it is to gain a wonderful insight into the Italian mind and into the Italian mode of thought and expression.

Paolo Mantegazza was born at Monza, near Milan, Italy, on October 31, 1831. His mother was a remarkable woman — Laura Solera — well known for philanthropy and patriotism. No small part of the force of character, the strength of purpose, and the clearness which Mantegazza shows in his work seems to be inherited from this woman. She established the first crèche and founded the first professional school for women in Italy. During the wars of 1848 and 1859 she cared for the wounded soldiers. There appears to have been an unusual love between this mother and son, and Mantegazza refers to her at times in his writings. He always deferred much to her opinion; and in 1883, when some question had arisen as to the propriety of his famous book upon the Physiology of Love, the author submitted the book to her for judgment. Her letter of approval is presented in full in the introductory chapter of the work, and ends thus: "When I shall have the happiness of having you near me, I shall point out to you the passages which most please me. Meantime receive the enthusiastic greetings of your affectionate mama."

Mantegazza studied medicine in the Universities of Pisa and Pavia. Having become a physician, he spent several months in Paris and then journeyed over a large part of Europe. At the age of nineteen years he published a memoir upon Spontaneous Generation, and was appointed Acting Professor of Chemistry in the Technical School at Milan. The first of the remarkable series of anthropological works which has rendered his name famous —