INOCULATION. If the matter of a variolous (or small-pox) pustule, taken after the commencement of the eighth day, be inserted in or beneath the skin of a person who has not previously suffered from small-pox, the following phenomena are Induced: 1. Local inflammation is set up; 2. At of six days there is fever similar to that of small-pox; and 3. After the lapse of three more days, there is a more or less abundant eruption of pustules. This process is termed inoculation, and the disease thus produced is denominated inoculated small-pox. The disease produced in this artificial manner is much simpler and less dangerous than ordinary small-pox; and, as it was an almost certain means of preventing a subsequent attack of the ordinary disease, inoculation was much practiced till the discovery (about 1790*) of the aetivariolous power of vaccination.
The Importance of inoculation was recognized in the east at a very early period. According to Dr. Collinson and Vaccination Ilistorically and Medically Con sidered, p. 14), the Chinese had practiced this process from the 6th c., and the Brah mins from a very remote antiquity. In Persia, Armenia, and Georgia it was in use, and it is even said to have been employed in Scotland and Wales. It was not, how ever, till lady Mary Wortley Montagu wrote her celebrated letter from Adrianople in 1717 that the operation became generally known in this country. In that letter she writes: "The small-pox, so fatal and so general amongst us, is here entirely harmless . by the invention of engrafting, which is the term they give it. Every rear, thousand4 undergo the operation. There is no example of any one who has died of it, and you may believe that I am well satisfied of the safety of this experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son," Four years afterwards, she had her daughter publicly inoculated in this country; the experiment was then performed successfully on six condemned criminals at Newgate, and on the strength of these successful cases, "the critical course was taken of inoculating two children of Caroline, princess of Wales, which gave a sanction to the practice."—Collinson, op, oft. p. 15.
Inoculation was not, however, thoroughly established for more than a quarter of a century after its introduction. It met with virulent opposition both from the medical profession and the clergy. A sermon is extant which was preached in 1722, by the rev. Edward Massey, in which it is asserted that " Job's distemper was confluent small-pox, and that he had been inoculated by the devil." The great drawback to inoculation turned out, however, to be this: while it was invaluable to hint who underwent the operation, and completely guarded him from the natural disease in its severe form, its effect upon the community at large was extremely pernicious, in keeping alive the natural disease, and increasing its spread amongst those who were not protected by inoculation. While one in five or six of those who took the natural disease died, thb average number of deaths at the inoculation hospital was only 3 in 1000; and yet, according to the authority of Heberden, iu every thousand deaths within the bills of mortality in the first 30 years of the 18th c. (before inoculation was at all general), only 74 were due to small-pox. The deaths from this disease amounted to 95 in 1000 during the last 30 years of the century; so that, notwithstanding the preservative effects of inoculation on almost all who were operated on, the total number of deaths from this disease increased in 100 years in the ratio of shout 5 to 4. Moore (The History of Small pav, 1815) states that, at the beginning of the 18th c., about one-fourteenth of the popu lation died of small-pox; whereas, at thelatter end of the same century, the number (notwithstanding, or perhaps rather in consequence of, inoculation) had increased to one tenth and this immense consumption of human lives was not the total evil, for many survivors were left with the partial or entire loss of sight and with destroyed constitu tions. From these remarks it will be seen that the benefits which were expected from inoculation were far from being realized, and small-pox would doubtless have gone on increasing in its destructive power, if it had not been checked by Jenner's invaluable discovery of vaccination (q.v.).