Fracastorio, Jerom,

an eminent Italian poet and physician, was born at Verona in 1483. Two singularities are related of him in his infancy; one, that his lips adhered so closely to each other when he came into the world, that a surgeon was obliged to divide them with his knife; the other, that his mother, Camilla Mascarellia, was killed by lightning, while he, though in her arms at the very moment, escaped unhurt. Fracastorio was of parts so exquisite, and made so wonderful a progress in every thing he undertook, that he became eminently skilled, not only in the belles lettres, but in all arts and sciences. He was a poet, a philosopher, a physician, an astronomer, and a mathematician. He was a man also of great political consequence, as appears from pope Paul Ill.'s making use of his authority to remove the council of Trent to Bologna, under the pretext of a contagious distemper, which, as Fracastorio deposed, made it no longer safe for him to continue at Trent. He was intimately acquainted with cardinal Bembo, Julius Scaliger, and all the great men of his time. He died of an apoplexy, at Casi near Verona, in 1553; and in 1559 the town of Verona erected a statue in honour of him.

He was the author of many productions, both as a poet and as a physician; yet never man was more disinterested in both these capacities, evidently so as a physician, for he practised without fees; and as a poet, whose usual reward is glory, no man could be more indifferent. It is owing to this indifference that we have so little of his poetry, in comparison of what he wrote; and that among other | compositions his odes and epigrams, which were read in manuscript with infinite admiration, and would have been most thankfully received by the public, yet not being printed, were lost. He wrote in Latin, and with great elegance. His poems now extant are the three books of “Siphilis, or De Morbo Gallico,” a book of miscellaneous poems, and two books of his^ poems, entitled “Joseph,” which he began at the latter end of his life, but did not live to finish. And these works, it is said, would have perished with the rest, if his friends had not taken care to preserve and communicate them: for Fracastorius, writing merely for amusement, never took any care respecting his works, when they were out of his hands.

His astronomical, critical, and philosophical treatises are enlivened with occasional poems. Several of them are composed in the form of conversations: a species of writing sanctioned by some of the finest models of antiquity, and much used in those early periods of the revival of letters. Their titles are borrowed from the names of the speakers, The “De Anima Dialogus” is denominated Fracastorius; the treatise “De Poetica” is entitled Naugerius; and the books “De Intellectione” have the title of Turrius. A young man, in the character of a minstrel, who is supposed to be more especially subject to the authority of Naugerius, sings to his lyre the verses that are occasionally introduced. The pretence is merely relaxation from severer thought; and the poeius are often unconnected with the main subject.

Perhaps the productions of no modern poet have beea more commended by the learned, than those of Fracastorio. His poems are, in general, written with a spirit which never degenerates into insipidity. But on his “Siphilis” the high poetical reputation of Fracastorio is principally founded. Sannazarius, on reading this poem, declared he thought it superior to any thing produced by himself, or his learned contemporaries, and Julius Scaliger was not content to pronounce him the best poet in the world next to Virgil, but affirmed him to be the best in every thing else; and, in sh.-irt, though he was not generally lavish of his praise, ith respect to Fracastorio he scarcely retained himself within the bounds of adoration. Fracastorio’s medical pieces /are, “De sympathia et antipathia, De contagione et contagiosis morbis, De causis criticorum dierum De vim temperature, &c.” His works | have been printed separately and collectively. The best edition of them is that of Padua, 1735, in 2 vols. 4to. 1

1

Tiraboschi.Moreri. —Niceron, vnl. Xvif. Grswell’s Pelitian. The Ixeet account, we think, is in Ryscoc’s Leo X. Saxii Onoinas’.