RAMESAY, William.

Lifes security: or a phylosophical and physical discourse; shewing the names, natures, & vertues of all sorts of venomes and venomous things: as in poysons in general and in particular. Also describing which are poysonous animals, and which poysonous vegetables; with the signes how you shall know them, and the remedy for cure of any poyson by them. By experience, & learned prescriptions of the best authors extant: as it was humbly tendred to the Kings Majesty about four years ago; and now Anno Dom. 1665 published for the good of his subjects.

London: printed .1665

Small 8vo, pp. (lxiv), 239, (1), (16). Contemporary sheep, spine gilt and with red morocco label (label chipped, ends of spine and upper joint neatly repaired). A very good crisp copy; small blindstamps in the first three leaves of the Macclesfield library.

FIRST EDITION, third issue. This is probably the first English medical book on poisons. It includes a long section on rabies, various kinds of snakebite, and on the stings of bees, wasps, and scorpions. English books on poisons are few and far between before the nineteenth century. Mead’s Mechanical Account of Poisons was published in 1702, and Prestwich's Dissertation on Mineral, Animal, & Vegetable, Poisons in 1775. No British author wrote systematically on forensic medicine until 1788. Nemec, while not a bibliography of the subject, lists nothing in English on toxicology before 1829. A very rare book by the son of David Ramsay, an eminent Scottish clockmaker. William Ramesey altered the spelling of his surname out of a fanciful belief that his family had descended from the pharaohs of Egypt. As a young man he was a professional astrologer, but his later life was devoted to the practice of medicine. He was admitted to the College of Physicians in 1661, created MD by royal mandate, and was appointed physician in ordinary to Charles II. Wing R208. The first issue, entitled Thanasima kai deleteria [in Greek] Tractatus de venenis, or, A treatise of poysons, appeared in 1661, and the second in 1663 with the altered title De Venenis; Or, a Discourse of Poysons. This third issue consists of the original sheets with a new title-page, altering the title for a second time. All three issues are extremely uncommon.


In stock

Unsure of some of these terms? Click here to download a copy of Carter & Barker, ABC for Book Collectors (2006), which has full explanations.