Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/377

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ulation for smallpox was written from Adrianople in 1717 to her friend Miss Sarah Chiswell. The passage relating to inoculation is here given entire: "Apropos of distempers, I am going to tell yon of a thing that I am sure will make you wish yourself here. The smallpox, so general and so fatal among us, is entirely harmless here by the invention of ingrafting, which is the term they give it here. There is a set of old women who make it their business to perform the operation in the month of September, when the great heat is abated. People send to one another to know if any of their family has a mind to have the smallpox. They make parties for the purpose, and when they are met—commonly fifteen or sixteen together—the old woman comes with a nutshell full of the matter of the best sort of smallpox, and asks what vein you will please to have opened. She immediately rips open the one that you offer to her with a large needle, which gives you no more pain than a common scratch, and puts into the vein as much venom as can lie upon the head of her needle, and after, binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell, and in this manner opens four or five veins. The Grecians have commonly the superstition of opening one in the middle of the forehead and in each arm and on the breast, to make the sign of the cross; but this has a very ill effect, all the wounds leaving little scars, and is not done by those that are not superstitious, who choose to have them in the legs or in that part of the arm that is concealed. The children or young patients play together all the rest of the day, and are in perfect health till the eighth; then the fever begins to seize them, and they keep their beds two days, very seldom three. They have very rarely above twenty or thirty in their faces, which never mark; and in eight days' time are as well as before their illness. Where they are wounded there remain running sores during their distemper, which I doubt not is a great relief of it. Every year thousands undergo this operation, and the French ambassador says that they take the smallpox here by way of diversion, as they take the waters in other countries. There is no example of any one has died in it, and you may well believe I am very well satisfied of the safety of the experiment since I intend to try it on my dear little son. I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this useful invention into fashion in England, and I should not fail to write to some of the doctors very particularly about it if I knew any of them that I thought had virtue enough to destroy such a considerable part of their revenue for the good of mankind. But that distemper is too beneficial to them not to expose to all their resentment the hardy wight that should undertake to put an end to it. Perhaps if I live to return I shall have the courage to war with them. Upon this occasion admire the heroism in the heart of your friend."