Page images
PDF
EPUB

collected by those who have inquired into the affair, it is plain, that scarce one in a hundred dies by the inoculated small-pox; whereas many more in proportion are destroyed by the ordinary disease.

A remarkable instance of this difference, and with what security this transplanting the distemper may be made, is given in the following relation, communicated to me by a gentleman of great credit. He was a merchant at St Christopher's, in the West Indies, and in the making of sugar (which is the trade of that place) employed a great number of flaves. In one year, when the small-pox raged with more than ordinary violence in the neighbouring islands, with his own hands, he inoculated three hundred of them, from five to thirty years of age, with such fuccess, that not one of them died, though most of them were negroes.

And whereas all the Americans fuffer this distemper in a most terrible manner; yet experience fhews, that it is much more dangerous, when it attacks the natives of Africa.

Things being thus, it may be proper to consider, whether any reasons can be alleged to the contrary. And, in the first place, there are fome who insist upon it, that the eruptions produced by inoculation are not the genuine finall-pox, and consequently that they cannot secure any one from having the disease hereafter. Moreover, they take pains to bring testimonies of patients, who, after having undergone the artificial distemper, have nevertheless been afterwards fcized with the true one.

Now, I own, I cannot understand how contagion, that is, the very feed of the disease, should produce, not its own proper distemper, but another of a quite

different different kind. Neither certainly does it matter, by which way the infection is received, provided it brings forth manifest marks of the disease. And as to those, who, after having been inoculated with success, are, notwithstanding this, said to have fuffered the smallpox; I must protest, that, after the most diligent inquiry, I have not been able to find out one convincing proof of this kind. I very well know, that a story is spread abroad, particularly by a late author, of a boy, upon whom, about three years after he had contracted the disease by inoculation, it broke out again. But I am well assured, that this narration is of doubtful credit ; and that there were some of the family, who affirmed, that no small-pox appeared upon the inoculation; that the parents (as we easily believe what we wilh) deceived themselves, and that the by-standers did not care to take away from them this pleasing mistake.

But to speak plainly, if such a thing happened once, why do we not see it come to pass oftener ? Or what can a single example, supposing it to be true and certain, avail, when innumerable experiments have produced nothing like it? However, some men are infected with an incurable itch of writing, and take great pleasure in contradicting others, to whom they bear envy. Let us therefore give them leave to applaud themselves, and enjoy their own vainglory.

But they will still go on to terrify us, by saying, that there is danger left, together with the small-pox, fome other infectious disease, inherent in the blood and humours of the fick person, should be transmitted into the found body; all contagion being very

U 2

subtile,

fubtile, and wonderfully active. And it is indeed not improbable, that some other distemper, besides thofe which are cutaneous, may, by such a way as this, get admittance into the skin ; and such perhaps are fcrophulous swellings, and the venereal disease. Yet I can hardly believe, that it ever happens, that the feed of one distemper should bring along with it mix. ed, the procreative matter of another, of a nature quite different from it. However it be, it would be madness in a physician, without any choice, to take the morbid matter for this purpose, out of fick bodies, without distinction. The most proper subjects are infants or children, found in all other respects, as far as can be judged, and bord of healthy parents. Besides, it is, in my opinion, more material, into what kind of a body the venom be infused, than out of what it be taken. And this I the rather mention, because I have more than once known rafh and unwary furgeons to implant the discafe into bodies weak, and of an ill habit, with a fatal event. Laftly, it is of very great consequence to take care not to throw a new infection into one already infected : for I have observed this to prove mortal ; nature being oppressed and finking under a double disease, when perhaps the might have got the better of either of thern single.

I have often considered for what reasons it is, that the inoculated is fafer than the natural small-pox; and the following feem to be the chief. First, the venom is communicated to a young, healthy, and, for the age, strong body. In the next place, the violence of the fever, which follows, is prevented, if there be occasion, by bleeding, and gentle purging. And

lastly, lastly, through the whole time that the contagious matter is exerting its malignity upon the humours (which is generally eight or nine days), quietness, moderation in diet, and every thing else is strictly observed : whereas, many incur the natural distemper on a sudden, when the blood is heated with wine and exercise ; by which means, all the symptoms must necessarily prove more severe and dangerous. Some have alto been of opinion, that the discharge out of the wound made to introduce the purulent matter, and likewise from the small pimples which break out round it, may contribute something to the safety of the patient. But the fmall quantity which runs out this way, cannot, I think, avail much. Two blisters laid, one to an arm, the other to a leg, will certainly do much more ; especially if they be kept running throughout the whole course of the disease.

And I make no question, but this practice would be of very great service.

It is proper to mention, that this artificial disease is usually fo mild, that it scarce requires any help from medicines. But where it happens otherwise, as it sometimes does, the same will be neceffary, which have been directed in the several kinds of the natural

small-pox.

To conclude; it ought not to be omitted, that boils, and swellings under the ears, and in the armpits, arise more frequently after the distemper procured by art, than after that which comes of its own accord; for this reason, as I suppose, that the venomous matter is pushed forward with less force, which disadvantage nature makes amends for this way. Therefore, all possible means are to be used to

ripen ripen such tumours, of whatever kind they are : if this cannot be done, they must be opened by incision; and when all the matter is drawn out, the body must be purged by proper medicines, which are to be oftener repeated in this, than in the natural disease.

[blocks in formation]

THE

THE mcalles have a great affinity with the fmall

pox ; being originally bred in the same couptry, propagated in the same manner, by infection, into distant parts of the world, and never seizing ang perfon more than once.

The history of this disease, as it generally appears among us, Dr Sydenham has described with his usual accuracy, calling it a fever, which in its nature and method of cure agrees very much with the smallpox; that is, accompanied with a great inflammation, and in which pustules of a particular kind are thrown out upon the skin.

Now, this inflammation does not only affect the surface of the body, but the inner parts also, and particularly the lungs : hence follows a cough, with a difficulty of breathing. And although the distemper in its nature be less dangerous than the small pox, and continues a shorter time ; for it usually is ended in fix or feren days, or, at the farthest, in eight, very thin, and light scales, like fine flower, falling off from the skin at that time ; yet it feizes with more violent

heat,

« PreviousContinue »