New Observations on Inoculation/Conclusion
IN order to fulfil my plan, I shall briefly sum up the few propositions, which, in my opinion, contain the whole doctrine of inoculation and offer some general observations upon the whole.
From what has been said, it appears that the best method, and consequently the whole practical art, of inoculation consists in these three things; I. the choice of a healthy subject; 2. the applying to the skin, under the cuticle, a well chosen variolous atom; 3. fresh air and amusement.
This method is natural, simple, easy, convenient, and safe. Natural, both as it springs from the very nature of the small-pox, and as it readily occurs to every sensible and unprejudiced person. Hence it was practised by those barbarous people, who, for aught we know, were the inventors of inoculation; and by tender fearful mothers, who were desirous of preserving their children from a cruel distemper, by hurting them as little as possible.
It is simple; for what can be more so than a method, which prescribes but three rules and these so plain as to be easily understood by every one?
Easy it certainly is, since a woman, a mother, a nurse, can practice it as well as the best physician. Who is a better judge than the mother, of her child's health? who more dexterous in performing the operation? who less likely to frighten the child, or more fit to divert it?
How convenient must that method be, which requires no confinement either before or after the disorder, if a slight indisposition can be called so, which lasts but three or four days at most, and requires no assistance from art, no operator, no expence?
Lastly, it is safe, both as it has been constantly successful, when and wherever practised, and as the few miscarriages of inoculation have been owing to a deviation from it.
Other methods have been invented. These were the result of much thinking; they require no small degree of attention and sagacity to comprehend them, can only be practised by skilful persons, are tedious, and require much care and patience; they not unfrequently render the distemper severe, or even mortal, add other needless disorders to the small-pox, and often leave troublesome, and sometimes dangerous, remains.
From this comparison between a simple, easy, and safe method, with those complicated, difficult, and unsafe practices, who can hesitate upon the choice?
Inoculation never will become universal, unless it has that simplicity, that ease, and above all, that safety, which it can acquire by no method than ours; Methinks the advocates for the practice should have been aware that, till it is quite safe, it can never become general; and all computations to shew that a lesser risk ought to be incurred rather than a greater, will be found of little weight with the multitude. Mankind will always be more affected by a present danger, though exceedingly small, than by a much greater one, if remote, and in some degree uncertain.
But if inoculation can be brought to be absolutely safe, and the disorder to be constantly mild, and only an indisposition, the practice will be cleared of all the imputations it has lain under, and must become universal.
As truth finally triumphs over error, I am in hopes that the method, which I have been re commending, will one day be the general and settled one; and it will then be matter of wonder how it came to be so long unknown, or neglected, when known.
The time will come when health will not be impaired, under pretence of preparing one that is already well; when sores will no longer be made at the place of insertion, to give a vent to the variolous matter; and when the disorder will not be made worse by the usual helps intended to cure it. Then, I repeat it, inoculation will no longer be charged with the mischiefs done by injudicious preparation, insertion, and treatment.