Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/121

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THE SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES OF ITALY.

French Institute in theirs. Considering the adverse spirit surrounding it throughout the two centuries and a half of its existence, one can not but wonder that it ever survived or ever was revived.

Frederico Cesi, son of the Duke of Acqua Sparta, was but eighteen years of age when he founded the Academy in 1603, having been born in 1585, nor had either of his three associates passed the age of twenty-three. Young as was Frederico, he already enjoyed the acquaintance, personally or by correspondence, of the foremost scientists and philosophers of his time. His first associate in his undertaking was Francesco Stelluti, who appears to have been prompted by an ardor for study and a nobility of character similar to that of Frederico. The third of this little band was Heck, Eckius, or Reckius, as he was variously called, a Hollander and a Catholic, who found the Calvinistic inhabitants uncongenial, left the Low Countries and settled in the town of Scandriglia, in Sabina, where he practiced medicine. His fame as a profound student in all the branches of philosophy reached the ears of Cesi, who invited him to Rome as an attaché to his family. A fourth member was added in the person of Anastasio de Filiis, a relative of the Cesi family, residing with them, and who was devoted to mechanics.

In order to give method to their studies these young men organized an Academy upon the 17th of August, 1603, which date was to be annually remembered by a day of festivity, and gave it the title of dei Lincei or the Lynx, from the well-known acuteness of vision of this animal, and with the motto, "Sagacitas ista." The plans were drawn upon an ambitious scale. With the orders of the Church and the Masonic fraternity in their mind, they conceived of the organization of a world-wide society, embracing at the same time investigations of a scientific character with a broad philosophical brotherhood connected by affiliated lodges.

The meetings were to be private, and the members were required to be "philosophers eager for real knowledge, who will give themselves to the study of Nature, and especially to mathematics."

They met three times a week and had five lectures at each meeting, each one performing his own duty. Heck was reader in Platonic and Transcendental Philosophy. In one of his theses he proposed a medicine of his own to "keep the soul alert" and to prevent it from growing sluggish by reason of the heaviness of the body. Unfortunately, he could not have taken his own medicine, if it possessed the virtues claimed, neither does he inform us of what his medicine consisted. So we can never know whether Brown-Séquard's mixture had a prior discoverer or not. Each worked industriously, and besides their literary