Redi, Francis

, an ancient Italian scholar and physician, was born of a noble family at Arezzo, in 1626. He studied at Padua, where he took the degree of doctor in philosophy and physic: and very soon afterwards rendered himself so conspicuous by his talents and acquirements in these sciences, that he was appointed first physician to the grand dukes Ferdinand II. and Cosmo III. At this time the academy del Cimento was occupied in a series of philosophical experiments which gave full scope and employment to Redi’s genius; and at the desire of his noble patron, he undertook the investigation of the salts which are obtainable from different vegetables. With what success these experiments were conducted, may be seen by referring to his works. His principal attention, however, was directed to two more important subjects: viz. the prison of the viper, and the generation and properties of insects. In the first of these inquiries he shewed the surprising difference there is between swallowing the viperine poison, and having it applied to the surface of the body by a wound. He also proved that, contrary to the assertion of Charas, the virulence of the poison does not depend upon the rage or exasperation of the animal, since the poison collected from a viper killed without being previously irritated, and dropped into a wound produces the same fatal effects, as that which is infused into a wound made by the animal when purposely teazed until it bites. On the subject of insects, he refuted the doctrine, maintained by all the ancients and by many moderns, of putrefaction being the cause of their generation; a doctrine which had, indeed, been attacked some years before by an Italian author named Aromatari, but not with that weight of facts and force of argument which are so conspicuous in this treatise and the rest of Redi’s writings. His observations on various natural productions brought from the Indies, and on animals that live within other living animals, “osservazioni intorno agli animali viventi che si trovano negli animali viventi,” exhibit many curious experiments and discoveries. But while he was thus engaged in philosophical pursuits, he did not neglect the duties of his profession, as a physician. His | letters contain numerous histories of diseases and of their treatment; for he kept a register of all remarkable cases and consultations. He was particularly diligent in noticing the operation of remedies, and in many disorders enjoined a very abstemious diet. Kedi’s merits, however, were not confined to philosophy and medicine. He was also an excellent philologist and an elegant poet. His “Bacco in Toscana” has lately been edited by Mr. Mathias. All his writings possess the attraction of a pure and polished style; and the Academy della Crusca justly regarded him as one of the best authorities, in the composition of their celebrated Dictionary. This indefatigable philosopher and amiable man died at Pisa in 1698, having previously suffered much from epileptic attacks. After his death, a medal was struck in honour of his name, by order of Cosmo III. His works have gone through various editions; but that which was printed at Naples in 7 vols. 4to, is esteemed the best. 1


Fabroni Vitse Italorum, vol. III. —Niceron, vol. Ilf. —Eloy, —Dict. Medicine. Baldwin’s Literary Journal, vol. I. See Mathias’s edition of his “Bacco in Toscana,1801.