Woman in Science / With an Introductory Chapter on Woman’s Long Struggle for Things of the Mind


E-text prepared by Bryan Ness, Josephine Paolucci,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive/American Libraries


Note:Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See http://www.archive.org/details/womaninsciencewi00mozaiala








H. J. MOZANS, A.M., Ph.D.


Que e piu bella in donna que savere?

Dante, Convito.


Copyright, 1913, by

Printed in the United States of America



The following pages are the outcome of studies begun many years ago in Greece and Italy. While wandering through the famed and picturesque land of the Hellenes, rejoicing in the countless beauties of the islands of the Ionian and Ægean seas or scaling the heights of Helicon and Parnassus, all so redolent of the storied past, I saw on every side tangible evidence of that marvelous race of men and women whose matchless achievements have been the delight and inspiration of the world for nearly three thousand years. But it was especially while contemplating, from the portico of the Parthenon, the magnificent vista which there meets the charmed vision, that I first fully experienced the spell of the favored land of Hellas, so long the home of beauty and of intellect. The scene before me was indeed enchanting beyond expression; for, every ruin, every marble column, every rock had its history, and evoked the most precious memories of men of godlike thoughts and of

“A thousand glorious actions that may claim
Triumphal laurels and immortal fame.”

It was a tranquil and balmy night in midsummer. The sun, leaving a gorgeous afterglow, had about an hour before disappeared behind the azure-veiled mountains of Ithaca, where, in the long ago, lived and loved the hero and the heroine of the incomparable Odyssey. The full moon, just rising above the plain of Marathon, intensified the witchery of that memorable spot consecrated by the valor of patriots battling victoriously against the invading hordes of Asia. Hard by was the Areopagus, where St. Paul preached to the “superstitious” Athenians on “The Unknown God.” Almost adjoining it was the Agora, where Socrates was wont to hold converse with noble and simple on the sublimest questions which can engage the human mind. Not distant was the site of the celebrated “Painted Porch,” where Zeno developed his famous system of ethics. In another quarter were the shady walks of the Lyceum, where Aristotle, “the master of those who know,” lectured before an admiring concourse of students from all parts of Hellas. Farther afield, on the banks of the Cephissus, was the grove of Academus, where the divine Plato expounded that admirable idealism which, with Aristotelianism, has controlled the progress of speculative thought for more than twenty centuries, and enunciated those admirable doctrines which have become the common heritage of humanity.

But where, in this venerable city—”the eye of Greece, mother of arts and eloquence”—was the abode of Aspasia, the wife of Pericles and the inspirer of the noblest minds of the Golden Age of Grecian civilization? Where was that salon, renowned these four and twenty centuries as the most brilliant court of culture the world has ever known, wherein this gifted and accomplished daughter of Miletus gathered about her the most learned men and women of her time? Whatever the location, there it was that the wit and talent of Attica found a congenial trysting-place, and human genius burst into fairest blossom. There it was that poets, sculptors, painters, orators, philosophers, statesmen were all equally at home. There Socrates discoursed on philosophy; there Euripides and Sophocles read their plays; there Anaxagoras dilated upon the nature and constitution of the universe; there Phidias, the greatest sculptor of all time, and Ictinus and Callicrates unfolded their plans for that supreme creation of architecture, the temple of Athena Parthenos on the Acropolis. Like Michaelangelo, long centuries afterwards, who “saw with the eyes and acted by the inspiration” of Vittoria Colonna, these masters of Greek architecture and sculpture saw with the eyes and acted by the sublime promptings of Aspasia, who was the greatest patron and inspirer of men of genius the world has ever known.

I felt then, as I feel now, that this superb monument to the virgin goddess of wisdom and art and science was in great measure a monument to the one who by her quick intelligence, her profound knowledge, her inspiration, her patronage, her influence, had so much to do with its erection—the wise, the cultured, the richly dowered Aspasia.

This thought it was that started the train of reflections on the intellectual achievements of women which eventually gave rise to the idea of writing a book on woman’s work in things of the mind.

The following day, as I was entering the University of Athens, I noticed above the stately portal a large and beautiful painting which, on inspection, proved, to my great delight, to be nothing less than a pictorial representation of my musings the night before on the portico of the Parthenon. For there was Aspasia, just as I had fancied her in her salon, seated beside Pericles, and surrounded by the greatest and the wisest men of Greece. “This,” I exclaimed, “shall be the frontispiece of my book; it will tell more than many pages of text.” Nor did I rest till I had procured a copy of this excellent work of art.

Shortly after my journey through Greece I visited the chief cities and towns of Italy. I traversed the whole of Magna Græcia and, to enjoy the local color of things Grecian and breathe, as far as might be, the atmosphere which once enveloped the world’s greatest thinkers, I stood on the spot in Syracuse where Plato discoursed on the true, the beautiful and the good, before enthusiastic audiences of men and women, and wandered through the land inhabited by the ancient Bruttii, where Pythagoras has his famous school of science and philosophy—a school which was continued after the founder’s death by his celebrated wife, Theano. For in Crotona, as well as in Athens, and in Alexandria in the time of Hypatia, women were teachers as well as scholars, and attained to marked distinction in every branch of intellectual activity.

As I visited, one after the other, what were once the great centers of learning and culture in Magna Græcia, the idea of writing the book aforementioned appealed to me more strongly from day to day, but it did not assume definite form until after I had tarried for some weeks or months in each of the great university towns of Italy. And as I wended my way through the almost deserted streets of Salerno, which was for centuries one of the noblest seats of learning in Christendom, and recalled the achievements of its gifted daughters—those wonderful mulieres Salernitanæ, whose praises were once sounded throughout Europe, but whose names have been almost forgotten—I began to realize, as never before, that women of intellectual eminence have received too little credit for their contributions to the progress of knowledge, and should have a sympathetic historian of what they have achieved in the domain of learning.

But it was not until after I had visited the great university towns of Bologna, Padua and Pavia, had become more familiar with their fascinating histories and traditions, and surveyed there the scenes of the great scholastic triumphs of women as students and professors, that I fully realized the importance, if not the necessity, of such a work as I had in contemplation. For then, as when standing in silent meditation on the pronaos of the Parthenon, the past seemed to become present, and the graceful figures of those illustrious daughters of Italia la Bella, who have conferred such honor on both their country and on womankind throughout the world, seemed to flit before me as they returned to and from their lecture halls and laboratories, where their discourses, in flowing Latin periods, had commanded the admiration and the applause of students from every European country, from the Rock of Cashel to the Athenian Acropolis.

Only then did the magnitude and the difficulty of my self-imposed task begin to dawn upon me. I saw that it would be impossible, if I were to do justice to the subject, to compass in a single volume anything like an adequate account of the contributions of women to the advancement of general knowledge. I accordingly resolved to restrict my theme and confine myself to an attempt to show what an important rôle women have played in the development of those branches of knowledge in which they are usually thought to have had but little part.

The subject of my book thus, by a process of elimination, narrowed its scope to woman’s achievements in science. Many works in various languages had been written on what women had accomplished in art, literature, and state-craft, and there was, therefore, no special call for a new volume on any of these topics. But, with the exception of a few brief monographs in German, French and Italian, and an occasional magazine article here and there, practically nothing had been written about woman in science. The time, then, seemed opportune for entering upon a field that had thus far been almost completely neglected; and, although I soon discovered that the labor involved would be far greater than I had anticipated, I never lost sight of the work which had its virtual inception in the peerless sanctuary of Pallas Athena in the “City of the Violet Crown.”

Duties and occupations innumerable have retarded the progress of the work. But not the least cause of delay has been the difficulty of locating the material essential to the production of a volume that would do even partial justice to the numerous topics requiring treatment. My experience, parva componere magnis, was not unlike that of Dr. Johnson, who tells us in the preface to his Dictionary of the English Language, “I saw that one inquiry only gave occasion to another, that book referred to book, that to search was not always to find, and that thus to pursue perfection was, like the first inhabitants of Arcadia, to chase the sun, which, when they reached the hill where he seemed to rest, was still beheld at the same distance from them.”

Although I have endeavored to give a place in this work to all women who have achieved special distinction in science, it is not unlikely that I may have inadvertently overlooked some, particularly among those of recent years, who were deserving of mention. Should this be the case, I shall be grateful for information which will enable me to correct such oversights and render the volume, should there be a demand for more than one edition, more complete and serviceable. And, although I have striven to be as accurate as possible in all my statements, I can scarcely hope, in traversing so broad a field, to have been wholly successful. For all shortcomings, whether through omission or commission,

“Quas aut incuria fudit,
Aut humana parum cavit natura,”

I crave the reader’s indulgence, and trust that the present volume will have at least the merit of stimulating some ambitious young Whewell to explore more thoroughly the interesting field that I have but partially reconnoitred, and give us ere long an adequate and comprehensive history of the achievements of woman, not only in the inductive but in all the sciences.



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