Richard Mead’s Mechanical Account of Poisons includes a study of viper venom as well as a critical commentary on Redi and Charas. The several editions of Mead’s Mechanical Account showcase the state and dynamics of medical thought in the first half of the eighteenth century and its effect on research into poisons, and they illuminate conventions for writing, expectations for medical scholarship, and the different ways in which methods discourse could be integrated in a treatise about experimental research. For the history of methods discourse, Mead’s Mechanical Account of Poisons serves as a proof of concept. The chapter presents Mead’s work an experimentalist treatise, which contains almost no discussion of research techniques, experimental strategies, and criteria for proper procedure.
Keywords: snake venom, methods discourse, experimentalism, mechanical philosophy, Richard Mead