Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/493

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THE CROSSING OF THE RACES

Whereas Italy was once a conglomeration of petty states and absolute monarchies, torn by warring factors, and her people steeped in universal illiteracy, she now, through her own efforts, under the intelligent leadership of children of her own soil, has become a constitutional monarchy with the real power legally invested in the people where it by right belongs. Through his prime minister, the king is responsible to the chamber of deputies, which corresponds to our lower house, and are elected by the people at large.

The senate is probably as truly representative as our own, being elected by the king from the ranks of the ex-deputies, the nobility, large taxpayers and representative men of affairs.

When we consider that for fifty years preceding her final unification and freedom Italy was in an almost constant turmoil of political agitation and war, it is remarkable what advances her people have made in the thirty-nine years since the accomplishment of her great ambition. Although she still ranks high among the illiterate, she has taken great strides to overcome that evil. An education law compelling the attendance at school between the ages of six and nine, and the teaching of illiterate soldiers, although they may not as yet have accomplished great things, show that her heart is right, and that time will fast remedy the evils which the exigencies of her struggle for existence have practically forced upon her.

The study of the Italian in the Argentine ought to give us an inkling of his possibilities when given an opportunity. This republic is modeled on lines almost exactly after our own, and, all things considered, should rank as a successful experiment in self government. Its people are happy. It enjoys a high degree of culture. Its cities are modern and well governed, and its commerce is ever increasing in dignity and volume. Now, relative to its whole population, Argentine has the largest number of Italian immigrants of any country in the world. In 1895 the total population was about 4,000,000, and one third of this was foreign born. Of this foreign born population 500,000 were Italians. This enormous Italian influence still holds its own, for since 1895 it has kept up almost constantly, and for the whole period of time elapsed since she became a republic in 1853 nearly half her foreign born population has been contributed by Italy.

We should not allow the evil deeds of certain bands of outlaws, and the criminal tendencies of certain of the lower classes to blind our vision to the great things accomplished by the Italian as a nation. Viewed in the light of her past history and her rapid advances of the present day, she promises well, and it is a fair prophecy that in our own country the future citizen of Italian forebears will only be distinguished from the general average by means of his family name remaining as a sign to indicate his original ancestry.

The possibilities of the Slav, and his aptitude for conformity to the