MEAD, Richard

MEAD, Richard. Medica Sacra: sive, de morbis insignioribus, qui in Bibliis memorantur, commentarius.

London, Joannes Brindley, 1749.




£ 2,000


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, ff. 2 (half-title and title), pp. xix, (3), 108. Roman letter, some Italic, sporadic Greek. Head and tailpieces. 19th-century armorial bookplate of the Earls of Macclesfield’s “South Library” at Shirburn Castle with the motto: “Sapere aude” and press mark in ink (152. D. 15.) on left pastedown, dated 1860; partially covering older library number in pen. “From the Author” written in pen on verso of left endpaper. Printed on thick high-quality paper in elegant type; a fresh, clean and crisp copy. Bound in contemporary beige calf over boards, single gilt-tooled along edges with stamped angular gilt fleurons. Gilt spine in seven compartments with suns in splendour tooled on the centre, plus four stars at corners of each section, raised bands. Orange morocco label with gilt lettering. Upper extremity of joints a bit tender, very minor rubbing on edges. A.e.r., a fine copy.


Richard Mead (1673-1754) was an English physician. His work, “A Short Discourse concerning Pestilential Contagion, and the Method to be used to prevent it” (1720), was of historic importance in the understanding of contagious epidemics. He was admitted to the Royal Society, to whose ‘Transactions’ he contributed through writing about the parasitic nature of scabies. Mead soon became the recognised head of his profession. He attended Queen Anne on her deathbed and was later appointed physician to George II,  having previously served him when the latter was Prince of Wales.


In this work, Mead argued that pagan ideas regarding demons had entered Christianity. In fact, he thought that demons in the New Testament corresponded to illnesses of different kinds:


“That the Daemoniacs, daimonizomenoi, mentioned in the gospels, laboured under a disease really natural, though of an obstinate and difficult kind, appears to me very probable from the accounts given of them.”


Contemporaries such as Isaac Newton, Joseph Mede, and Arthur Ashley Sykes shared Mead’s opinion on the subject. The book was translated from Latin into English by Thomas Stack in 1755.


Bibliography: ESTC T55017.