Caesalpinus, Andrew

, an eminent botanist and physician, was born at Arezzo, in the district of Florence, in 1519. He was educated under Luke Ghinus, superintendant of the public garden at Pisa, where he appears to have acquired his taste for botanical pursuits. There also he was appointed first professor of physic and botany in the university, and afterwards first physician to pope Clement VIII. a promotion which required his residence at Home, where he died in 1603. He described, says Dr. Pulteney, with exquisite skill, the plants of his own country, and left an herbarium of 768 species. He extended Gesner’s idea, and commenced the period of systematic arrangement. In his “Libri XVI de Plantis,” published in 1583, at Florence, he has arranged upwards of 800 plants into classes, founded, after the general division of the trees from herbs, on characters drawn from the fruit particularly, from the number of the capsules and cells; the number, shape, and disposition of the seeds; and from the situation of the corculum, radicle, or eye of t]ie seed, which he raised to great estimation. The orders, or subdivisions, are formed on still more various relations. On the other hand, the biographer of Linnceus remarks, that, though his genius was inventive, his knowledge of botany was neither original nor universal. He missed both leisure and opportunity. Clusius had discovered more fresh plants than he ever was acquainted with. His herbal did not contain nine hundred species, a fact fully proved by the Florentine botanist Micheli, who had it in his possession. A provision of this kind was too small to give a comprehensive view of botany, and the knowledge which Ca?salpinus acquired of the internal structure of plants was too defective | to point out the most perfect order. He was only directed by the fruit, and mostly by that part on which tlui shoots or germins repose. This system had its defects, but it brought CiEsalpinus much nearer to the truth, and he discovered more real similarities, more natural classes, than all the botanists who preceded, and many who followed him. His speculations in anatomy are still more ingenious. He describes very clearly the circulation of the blood through the heart, and was acquainted with the uses of the valves. Douglas thinks him entitled to equal praise with Harvey, who only completed what he had nearly achieved. He clearly, Douglas says, describes the contraction and dilatation of the heart, which is shewn from the following passage from his fourth book “Question um Peripateticarum.” “The lungs,” he says, “drawing the warm blood through a vein (the pulmonary artery) like the arteries, out of the right ventricle of the heart, and returning it by an anastomosis to the venal artery (the pulmonary vein) which goes to the left ventricle of the heart, the cool air being in the mean time let in through the canals of the aspera arteria, which are extended along the venal artery, but do not communicate with it by inosculations, as Galen imagined, cools it only by touching. To this circulation of the blood out of the right ventricle of the heart through the lungs into its left ventricle, what appears upon dissection answers very well: for there are two vessels which end in the right ventricle, and two in the left: but one only carries the blood in, the other sends it out, the membranes being contrived for that purpose.” His works on the practice of medicine have also their portion of merit. “Questionum Medicarum Libri ii.;” “De Facultatibus Medicamentorum Libri duo,” Venet. 1593, 4to; “Speculum Artis Medicae Hippocraticae, exhibens dignoscendos curandosque morbos, in quo multa visuntur, quae a prjcclarissimis medicis intacta relicta erant,Lyons, 1601-2-3, 3 vols. 8vo. 1


Haller and —Manget.Pulteney’s Botany.—Stoever’s Life of Linnæus, p. 60. —Gen. Dict.—Freheri Theatrum.