Boccone, Paolo

, an ingenious naturalist, was born at Palermo, in Sicily, April 24th 1633, of a wealthy and respectable family, originally from Savona in Genoa. To improve himself in natural history, particularly in botany, to which he was early attached, he travelled over Sicily, Corsica, Malta, many parts of Germany, Holland, and England, conversing with the most eminent literary characters in the places he visited, with | whom he afterwards kept up a correspondence. At Paris he became acquainted with the abbé Bourdalot, to whom he communicated various observations he had made, which, were published at Amsterdam in 1674 under the title “Recherches et observations d’Histoire Naturelle.” In the course of his travels, he was admitted doctor in medicine at Padua, was elected member of the Academ. Naturae Curios, and made botanist to the grand duke of Tuscany. In 1682, he entered among the Cistertian monks at Florence, and with the habit of the order took the name of Sylvio, which he affixed to his latter works, but he was still permitted to continue his researches in natural history. Returning at length to Sicily, he retired to one of the houses of the Cistertians near Palermo, where he died, Dec. 22, 1704. As he had been indefatigable in his researches, his colleciion of plants and other natural productions was very considerable. Sherrard, who saw his hortus siccus, or specimens of dried plants, in 1697, was so struck with their number and beauty, that he engaged him to give a catalogue of them to the public, which he did in his “Musrco plante rare,” published at Venice in 4to, the same year. The catalogue was also published by itself. Several of his works appear to have been printed while he was on his travels; the first of them, “De abrotano mare monitum,” in 1668 and in the same year, “Manifesturn botanicum, de plantis Siculis,” Catatue, 4to. By an advertisement at the beginning of the work he offers to botanists the seeds of many of the curious and rare plants he had collected, at moderate prices. Morison published an edition of this work at Oxford in 1674, 4to, under the title of “Icones et descriptiones rariarum plantarum Sicilian, Melitae, Galliae, et Italioe.” Many of the plants, Haller says, were new. The figures are small, and in general not well delineated or engraved. His next production was “Recherches et observations naturelles,” published at Paris in 1671, 12mo, again at Amsterdam in 1674, and again in 1744, in 8vo. It consists of letters to his correspondents in France, Italy, England, &c. In 1684, in 16mo, “Opcrvazioni natural) ove si contengono materie medico fisiche e di botanica,Bologna. The observations are twenty in number, and dedicated, or addressed to so many of the author’s friends and patrons, among whom are many perons of high rank. He is very profuse in his elogia on the | medical virtue of many of the plants, which he praises far beyond their real value. “Tenere oportet,” Haller says, “creduium esse virum et in viribus medicis plantarum liberalem.” “Musæo di fisica e cli esperienze decorate di opervazioni naturali,” Venet. 1697, 4to. The author here assumes the name of Sylvlo. The observations are, as in the former work, dedicated to his noble patrons, and contain ample accounts of the medical virtues of various plants, much beyond what, from experience, they have been found to possess. Some smaller dissertations were printed in Miscel. Naturae Curias, and in the Journal des Savans. On the whole, Boccone appears to have been an industrious and intelligent writer, possessing considerable originality, and deserves to be classed among botanists of the third rate. 1

1 Bio. Unfv. —Rees’s Cyclopædia.Pulteney’s Sketches, art. Morison. —Niceron. Saxii Ouomasticon.