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how much good one individual may accomplish. The small-pox had been for ages the great dread of mankind. It is a matter of dispute whether it was known to the ancients; the earliest writer who expressly treated of it, was Rhazes, an Arabian physician, who died A. D. 932. He, however, confounded it with measles, and the two diseases were considered as identical, till the time of Sydenham, 1660. But whatever obscurity may rest on the origin and the early history of small-pox, prior to Jenner's discovery it had become one of the most formidable diseases which had ever afilicted mankind. It spread itself to all quarters of the globe, and has often been known to depopulate whole districts. It was especially fatal to the poor. The Europeans brought it to America, and its ravages among the ignorant natives were almost as fatal as the sword.
The terrors of the disease had been in some degree mitigated, by the discovery that it could be had but once, and that it was of a milder nature if taken by artificial inoculation. This practice had prevailed in Turkey, especially among females, for the presetvation of the beauty of young girls. The celebrated lady Montague, who accompanied her husband to Constantinople, where he was the ambassador of England in 1716, observed the custom, and on her return, first introduced it into the western part of Europe. The practice met with the greatest opposition, especially among the ignorant, but it finally overspread the enlightened classes of Christendom.
The fatality of this disease may be ascertained by
the returns of the hospitals. Here thirty per cent. of those attacked without inoculation, have been found to die, and, this under every favorable circumstance, and with the best medical treatment. much more destructive in ordinary cases. Even with the mitigation afforded by inoculation, it continued to be one of the scourges of mankind. The importance of Dr. Jenner's discovery may be estimated, when it is stated, that very few persons, after being vaccinated, can take the small-pox, and of those who do, not more than one cnse in four hundred and fifty, proves mortal!
Yet, this discovery, which has done more to prolong life than all other medical improvements for a hundred years preceding, met with ridicule at the outset, and the most determined opposition in later times. As there is a class of persons---even among the intelligent--who are unduly credulous, so there is another class who are as unreasonably skeptical; and the latter are commonly those who pretend to unusual wisdom. These are found, by a sort of instinct, to resist what is new, and to condemn it without examination, only because of its novelty. Among the ignorant, there are multitudes who are ready to swallow the most egregious impositions if offered by a quack, who yet resist the greatest benefits if they come from the hands of science.
In its early stages, vaccination had to contend with these sources of opposition. For several years rejected by the mass, and, even in Boston, several eminent physicians lost their standing with a large share of the community, in their attempts to introduce it. Happily, these prejudices have subsided, and the great plague of the world has quailed before the magic wand of science, wielded by the hand of benevolence.
Was a native of Strasbourg, and, after being educated as a Lutheran clergyman, was appointed, in 1767, when twenty-seven years of age, to the cure of Waldbach, in the Ban de la Roche, a high and sterile valley in Alsace. His mind was animated with the most ardent desire of usefulness, not only in his profession, but in many other respects; and greatly did his parish need the attentions of such a philanthropist. The whole valley afforded subsistence, and that of the most wretched kind, for only about a hundred families, who were a race of rude and ignorant rustics, cut off by their peculiar dialect, as well as by the inaccessibility of their situation, from all the rest of mankind. The husbandmen were destitute of the commonest implements, and had no means of procuring them; they had no knowledge of agriculture, beyond the routine practices of their forefathers; they were ground down and irritated by a hateful feudal service. He devoted himself to the correction of these evils, at the same time that he labored in his spiritual vocation.
The people, at first, did not comprehend his plans, or appreciate his motives. Ignorance is always suspicious. They resolved, with the dogged pertinacity with which the uneducated of all ranks cling to the rubbish of old customs, not to submit to innovation. The peasants agreed, on one occasion, to waylay and beat him, and on another, to duck him in a cistern. He boldly confronted them, and subdued their hearts by his courageous mildness. But he did more; he gave up exhorting the people to pursue their real interests; he practically showed them the vast benefits which competent knowledge and well-directed industry would procure for them. These mountaineers in many respects were barbarians; and he resolved to civilize them, as all savages are civilized, by bringing them into contact with more enlightened communities.
The Ban de la Roche, had no roads. The few passes in the mountains were constantly broken up by the torrents, or obstructed by the loosened earth which fell from the overhanging rocks. The river Bruche, which flows through the canton, had no bridge but one of stepping-stones. Within a few miles of this