Beccaria, James Bartholomew

, a very eminent physician, was born in 1682 at Bononia. He received the first rudiments of education among the Jesuits. He then proceeded to the study of philosophy, in which he made great progress; but cultivated that branch of it particularly which consists in the contemplation and investigation of nature. Having gone through a course of philosophy and mathematics, he applied himself to medicine. Being appointed teacher of natural philosophy at an academy in Bononia, in consequence of his ardent pursuits in | philosophy, his fellow citizens conferred on him the office of public professor. His first step in this chair was the interpretation of the Dialectics. He kept his house open to students, who found there a kind 6*f philosophical society. Here it was his practice to deliver his sentiments on the different branches of science, or to explain such metaphysical subjects as had been treated of by Descartes, Malebranche, Leibnitz, and others of the moderns. Among the frequenters of this little Society we find the names of John Baptist Morgagni, Eustathius Manfred, and Victorius Franciscus Stancarius, who, in concurrence with Beccaria, succeeded in shaking oil the old scholastic yoke, and formed themselves into an academy, adopting a new and more useful method of reasoning. In this institution it was thought fit to elect twelve of their body, who were called ordinarii, to read the several lectures In natural history, chemistry, anatomy, medicine, physics, and mathematics, in which partition the illustration of natural history fell to the share of Beccaria; who gave such satisfaction, that it was difficult to determine which was most admired, his diligence or his ingenuity. In 1712 he was called to give lectures in medicine, in which he acquired so great a reputation, that he found it scarcely practicable to answer the desires of the incredible number of those who applied to him for instruction. At the beginning of the year 1718, while entirely occupied in this station, and in collecting numberless anatomical subjects to exhibit and to explain to his auditors, he was attacked by a putrid fever, which brought his life in imminent danger, and from which he did not recover till afte.r a confinement of eight months; and even then it left him subject to intermitting attacks, and a violent pain in his side. But the vigour of his mind triumphed over the weakness of his body. Having undertaken to demonstrate and explain his anatomical preparations, he would not desist; and went on patiently instructing the students that frequented his house. On the death of Antonio Maria Valsalva, who was president of the institution, Beccaria, already vice-president, was unanimously chosen by the academicians to succeed him, in which post he did the academy much signal service; and to this day it adheres to the rules prescribed by Beccaria. He now practised as well as taught the art of medicine, and in this he acquired an unbounded fame; for it was not confined to his owa countrymen, but was | spread throughout Europe. He communicated to the royal society of London several barometrical and meteorological observations; with others on the ignis fatuus, and on the spots that appear in stones, and in acknowledgement he was chosen a member of that learned body in 1728. He confesses thai in his constitution he was not without some igneous sparks, which were easily kindled into anger and other vehement emotions; yet he was resolved to evince by example what he had constantly taught, that the medicine of the mind is more to be studied than that of the body; and that they are truly wise and happy who have learnt to heal their distorted and bad affections. He had brought himself to such an equal temper of mind, that but a few hours before his death he wanted to mark the heights of the barometer and thermometer, which was his usual practice three times every day. Thus, after many and various labours, died this learned and ingenious man, the 30th of Jan. 1766, and was buried in the church of St. Maria ad Baracanum, where an inscription is carved en his monument. He published the following works: 1. “Lettere al cavaliere Tommaso Derham, intorno la nieteora chiamata fuoco fatuo. Edita primum in societatis Lond. transact.1720. 2. “Dissertatio mctheorologicamedica, in qua ae’ris temperies et morbi Bononizegrassantes annis 1729, et sequent! describuntur.” 3. “Pa re re intorno al taglio delia macchiadi Viareggio,Lucca, 1739, 4to. 4. “De longis jejuniis dissertatio.” Patavii, 1743, fo’l. 5. “De quamplurimis phosphoris nunc primum detectis commentarius,” Bononia?,“1744, 4to. 6.” De quamplurim. &c. commentarius alter.“7.” De motu intestino corporum fluidorum.“8.” De medicatis Recobarii aquis.“9.” De lacte.“10.” Epistolrc tres mediciP ad Franciscum lloncalium Parolinum,“Brixiir, 1747, fol. 11.” Scriptura medico-legalis," 1749; and some others. He left behind him several manuscripts. 1


Fabroni vitæ Italorum vol. V.—Dict. Hist.