Italians’ psychology in 1840

Michelangelo PISTOLETTO – Stracci d’Italia, 2007



From: Rauch, F.A. (1840). Psychology: Or a view of the human soul, including anthropology. New York: Dodd – Verbatim quotation of §2, page 74


The Italians

The name of the Italian reminds us at once of the land of beauty, of serene skies, and lovely scenery, of splendid sunsets and sunrises; and as if the genius that has thrown such loveliness over his country, had erected a dwelling in the breast of the Itahan, animated his hand, and formed his imagination: we see his public saloons and churches and buildings adorned wdth the beauties of art. Music and poetry, painting and sculpture, have all met with a friendly reception under that mild sky, and it is in Italy, where even now, we must seek for their finest models. It has justly been remarked, that as the Frenchman is distinguished for good taste in society, and for refined manners, so the Italian is characterized by a most refined taste in art. Imagination is prominent in his intellectual powers; it is nourished by the charms of nature, and easily excited by a hot and fiery temperament. Dante’s poem of the Universe; Petrarca’s songs of love; Boccaccio’s novels; Ariosto’s smoothness of style, and flow of images and ideas; Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered; Gozzi’s Comedies; Alfieri’s Tragedies, and Manzoni’s lyric and dramatic poetry, are all of them known to all the world. The Italian is, however, less celebrated for his scientific spirit. The dark side of the Italian character is his great selfishness, and his unbridled desire for gain. Guided by this desire, he invented banks, lotteries, and checks. He is fond of pomp, of public processions, carnivals, masquerades, public buildings, and is willing to endure poverty if he can only have these pleasures. In general it may be said, that no where do the greatest poverty and riches five in closer connection than in Italy. The Italian is revengeful, and his knife is always ready for use. Banditti may be hired at all times. Cruelty is well marked in his character, and expresses itself even in his physiological experiments. We need only advert to those instituted by Spallanzani.



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