I hail with satisfaction Dr. Carpenter's remonstrance against my Bill
for the abolition of compulsory vaccination as a powerful aid towards
its success. I say this in no disparagement whatever of my learned
opponent's powers of argument, and if on this question they appear
to me weak, inconsistent, and illogical, I attribute this entirely to
the weakness of the cause he champions. Be this as it may, Dr.
Carpenter's attack, made as it is by one who is universally recognised
as the leading representative of vaccination, affords that oppor-
tunity for free and open discussion the lack of which has been, in
my opinion, the only cause of the continued national faith in what I
believe to be an exploded fallacy and a baseless superstition. Besides,
it appears to me that the very basis of Dr. Carpenter's thesis in-
volves a remarkable recognition of failure, and that its very statement
is sufficient to shake the faith of the stoutest believer in vaccination;
for it amounts to this, that Dr. Carpenter has to put forth an ex-
planation as to the causes of the enormous mortality from small-pox
which, to use his own words, ' doubtless furnishes a strong prima
case against the protective power of vaccination;' and this
after three-quarters of a century of the practice of Jenner's nostrum,
a practice continually extending, until in this country, and in several
of the European States, it has reached a height so great that a mere
fraction of the population escape its infliction. Lest I should be
thought to exaggerate, I will quote Dr. Carpenter's own words in his
letter to the Spectator. He says, referring to the Metropolitan
area, 'If the proportion of the vaccinated population to the unvacci-
nated residuum be 300 to 1, and this may be safely asserted to be
rather within than beyond the mark,' &c. &c. &c.

If Jenner could ever have imagined such favourable conditions
for the ' protective' system, he would clearly have held with fervour
that the perfect stamping out of the small-pox was about to become
an accomplished fact, and yet the acknowledged champion of the
system now appears in the field, not to rejoice in the extinction of
small-pox but to explain the reason why in an almost universally


protected Europe there has occurred an epidemic of small-pox thus
referred to by Dr. Carpenter :—

The United States have been traversed (in the years 1874-6) by an epidemic
of small-pox which will be long remembered there for its peculiar virulence and
the widespread mortality it occasioned. This epidemic was clearly the same as
that which had prevailed with somewhat of the same severity not only in this
country, but also over the greater part of Europe two years previously, and hence
there can be little doubt that the high rate of mortality by which it was every-
where characterised must have been due to general rather than to local causes.

And what an explanation it is when we get it! Dr. Carpenter
gravely informs us that the reason why so many people died from
small-pox in the epidemic of 1871-2 was the unusually malignant
type of the epidemic. But we used to be assured that one great ex-
cellence in vaccination consisted in greatly diminishing the virulence
of the attack in those whom it could not wholly save. In a letter I
have lately received from the venerable Dr. Buchanan of Glasgow, as
ardent an advocate of the system as Dr. Carpenter himself, he says,
' The great glory of the immortal Jenner does not consist in his
having extirpated small-pox, which is as rife as ever, but in his having
converted the most loathsome and fatal affection with which God in
His wrath ever afflicted the human race into a trifling and mild
disease.' Under which King, Bezonian ?

Now if Dr. Carpenter is correct, and vaccination is only effective
against the milder forms of variola, cadit qucestio; it is clearly not
worth while to undergo the now recognised risks and dangers of
vaccination for the sake of protection against so harmless a disease
as that known as ' discrete,' to which of course the famous Sydenham
referred when he declared, ' If no mischief be done, either by
physician or nurse, small-pox is the most slight and safe of all

It is altogether an illusion that small-pox became a mild disease
consequent on the introduction of vaccination. It was a mild and
a severe disease a century ago and two centuries ago, as it is at this
day. Dr. Wagstaffe, physician to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, stated
the fact accurately in 1722, when he wrote, 'There is scarcely, I
believe, so great a difference between any two distempers in the world
as between the best and the worst sort of small-pox in respect to the
dangers which attend them. So true is that common observation
that there is one sort in which a nurse cannot kill, and another which
even a physician cannot cure.'

Dr. Carpenter, having thus explained (!) why tens of thousands of
' protected' persons were carried off in the late epidemic, explains
further that so far from vaccination having failed to contend with this
epidemic, ' its protective power . . . has never been so conspicuously
manifested.' Surely this is an illustration of the petitio principii
in its most aggravated form. Dr. Carpenter's argument amounts to


this : (1) We know that vaccination is a very great, if not a perfect,
protection against small-pox, and that where it does not wholly pro-
tect it greatly modifies its severity; (2) therefore, however frightful
the virulence, and however great the rate of mortality of the late
epidemic, its ravages must have been much greater had not Europe
been protected by an almost universal vaccination.

Dr. Carpenter puts the ground on which I base my Bill on too
narrow a basis, viz. ' the failure of vaccination to prevent or contend
with the present small-pox epidemic' I propose to abolish compul-
sory vaccination, because I hold compulsion to be utterly indefensible,
and of course the more indefensible because I hold vaccination itself
to be wholly a delusion. Now it is somewhat remarkable that in
Dr. Carpenter's article there is not a word about compulsion as apart
from the question of the advantage of vaccination. As a defence of
the existing system this is, I think, a serious omission. The two
questions are quite distinct—-that is, it is quite possible to believe in
the excellence of vaccination, and yet to hold that compulsion is both
unjust and impolitic. The reasons for this are obvious. There is
nothing new in the principle that systems of medical treatment are not
properly a subject for the intervention of State rule ; the reverse prin-
ciple, in fact, that majorities should be all-powerful in matters which
have been hitherto left to the exercise of the right of private judgment,
is new, and in many of its illustrations most unfortunate (as I think)
in its results. Upon this question of vaccination Sir Robert Peel
declared that he would be no party to compulsion. George Canning
said in the House of Commons, in 1808, that he 'could not figure
any circumstance whatever that could induce him to follow up the
most favourable report of its infallibility which might be brought
forward with any measure of a compulsory nature,' while Sir Francis
Burdett declared that ' Government in this free country cannot com-
pel people to submit to the prescriptions of physicians or the opera-
tions of surgeons,' and that fine old country gentleman and Tory, the
late Mr. J. W. Henley, declared it as his opinion that' priestly
despotism is bad, but medical despotism is intolerable.' This cer-
tainly was the view which I ventured to take when I sat upon the
Select Committee on Vaccination in 1871. At that time I put abso-
lute faith in the tradition of the excellence of vaccination, as do now,
I fear, equally without study of the question, the great majority of
English men and women. But I was not the less impressed with the
wrong of compulsion, in regard both to its injustice and impolicy, and
I proposed a clause which should exempt from the necessity of vacci-
nating their children all who should sign a declaration that they
objected on principle to vaccination; such declaration to be made
valid by a stamp for a small amount, not by way of punishment, but
as a security that vaccination should not be neglected on no better
grounds than ignorance or apathy. Holding to that opinion, I have


naturally and gradually been led to study the statistics of the ques-
tion, and have thus been brought to the conclusion, much to my own
surprise, that the whole theory is absolutely overthrown by the statis-
tics accumulated since its introduction.

It is clear that the only ground upon which the intervention of
the State can be justified is that of protection to society, just as no-
body is permitted to create in his own house a nuisance dangerous to
the health of his neighbours. But this is not a principle that can be
applied to vaccination as a protection from small-pox, because it is
obvious that the sounder the theory upon which Government inter-
vention is called for, i.e. the certainty of the protection afforded by
vaccination against small-pox, the more evident is it that the danger
involved in neglect is not a danger to society, but only to those who
deliberately prefer the alleged risk of infection to what they consider
the evils of vaccination. To speak of the unvaccinated residuum as
forming centres of infection to a protected population is simply ridi-
culous. It would be, moreover, extremely impolitic. There is no
surer way of exciting opposition than by legal enforcement in a
matter where every one feels that he has a right to decide for himself.
As Lord Redesdale said in the House of Lords in 1814, 'If vaccina-
tion deserved to be established, it would establish itself by its own
merits, and all attempts to force it on the people would only tend to
create opposition to the practice.'

The compulsory law, moreover, acts as a piece of class legislation
in its worst form. It is the comparatively poor who fall under its
persecution. No government would dare to propose absolute com-
pulsory vaccination. All that is done is to fine those who refuse to
submit. This has made thousands who abhor the practice submit,
while in very many cases it.has involved braver men and women in
absolute ruin to their homes; while the fine, even were it levied on
the wealthy, would be a matter of the smallest consideration to them.
But practically, as every one will understand, even this slight incon-
venience does not attach to the wealthier classes of the community.
Doctors do not betray, and guardians do not prosecute, persons whose
position in society renders their heresy in regard to vaccination an
excusable eccentricity. Did the Holy Inquisition ever invent a more
infernal torture than that inflicted upon the father or mother who,
having seen their elder children sacrificed in health or life on the
altar of vaccination, are driven to the alternative of seeing their
younger children subjected to the same risk or to their own utter
pecuniary ruin ? For, be it remembered, there have been cases in
which persons have been subjected to repeated prosecutions, to the
number of twenty, thirty, and even forty times.

But far beyond and above even all these considerations stands in
ray mind this: that from the moment when it was recognised, as it
now is, that any taint in the blood of a person from whom the lymph
Vol. XI.—No. 63. 3 I


is taken is communicable to the person into whose system the dis-
eased matter is conveyed, from that moment compulsion became an
execrable tyranny. On this part of the matter I shall have more to
say presently. It is, surely, significant enough that Dr. Carpenter,
in his defence of vaccination, passes over without observation this
most grave and terrible portion of the subject.

I published last year a letter to Dr. Carpenter in answer to one
by him in the Spectator, which I have good reason to believe has not
been without effect upon many persons under whose notice it has come.1
I remember being much struck by an observation reported to me of
some one who had taken the trouble to read the pamphlet. 'But are
Mr. Taylor's figures correct ? Because, if so, we have all been in a
dream for three-quarters of a century.' The Story of a Great Delu-
forms a curious study—an examination as to the manner in which
a baseless superstition established itself, with some difficulty, it is true,
and from the moment of its establishment grew and flourished in public
estimation more and more, until any one who should venture to ex-
press a doubt of its absolute truth became the mark for contempt
and ridicule, while year by year was added up the unmistakable evi-
dence of its failure by the invincible logic of facts and figures. Such
an inquiry, I say, affords more satisfactory provend for the cynic than
the philanthropist.

It is worth, perhaps, a little space to look at vaccination in this
view. The strength of the opinion in favour of vaccination lies
(1) in the universal tradition of its success, and (2) in the belief that
the almost universal medical opinion of the world testifies to this
success. Now the history of vaccination is in fact one of continuous
failure rather than success. By this I mean that there are abundant
and continuous evidences of failure ; i.e. that numbers of persons who
had been vaccinated died of small-pox. This proves, indeed, that
Jenner's promise of perfect immunity was altogether falsified. It
does not, of course, prove the fallacy of the present fashionable theory
that vaccination, though not a perfect, is a certain, or rather un-
certain, safeguard ; and those who believe in its virtues as almost a
sacred creed have it, of course, open to them to say that but for
vaccination many more would have died. Still, I think, to candid
minds the chain of continuous evidence will not be without its

Mr. Birch, surgeon of St. Thomas's Hospital, says in 1804,
' Every post brings me accounts of the failures of vaccination.' He
adds that Jenner, to avoid the perplexing appeals that were made to
him daily and the messages that were perpetually sent requiring him
to visit untoward cases (that is, of small-pox patients who had been

1 Current Fallacies about Vaccination. E. W. Allen, 4, Ave Maria Lane, E.C.

2 The title of a work now in the press, by a gentleman who has deeply studied
the subject of vaccination.


vaccinated), retired from London. In 1807 Lord Henry Petty stated
in the House of Commons, ' It appeared by the Report of the Royal
College of Physicians that the deaths by the small-pox had increased
since the discovery of vaccine inoculation.' And again, in 1809, the
same noble Lord observed that' unless he (Dr. Jenner) was completely
blinded by conceit, he must have recognised that the general faith in
vaccination exhibited in 1801 had been much shaken by the ex-
perience of the succeeding seven years.' 1807 seems to have been a
bad year for vaccination; Jenner's biographer says,' The eruptions
which attended many of the early cases of vaccination in London
were unfortunately propagated in different parts of the country.' In
1808 I find Sir Francis Burdett protesting against any help being
given to what 'appeared to be a failing experiment.' I have an in-
teresting work before me, dated 1809 and written by Thomas Brown,
surgeon, Musselburgh, upon the subject of vaccination. In his dedi-
cation to Alexander Monro, M.D., Professor of Anatomy and Surgery
in the University of Edinburgh, F.C.P. and F.R.S., he writes, ' It is
with extreme regret that, after nearly nine years' experience in the
practice of vaccination, I am under the painful necessity of confessing
I have almost arrived at that point which your superior information
in the laws of the animal economy, your acuteness of perception, and
your accurate observation enabled you to attain at the commence-
ment of the practice.' In the body of the work he explains what this
view is in the following naive confession : ' I am now perfectly satis-
fied, from my mind being under the influence of prejudice and blind
to the expression of the fairest evidence, that the last time the small-
pox was prevalent I rejected and explained away many cases which
were entitled to the most serious attention, and showed myself as
violent and unreasonable a partisan as any of my brethren in pro-
pagating a practice which I have now but little doubt we must ere
long surrender at discretion.' Nor was his experience a slight one,
for he says, ' I have no hesitation in confessing that I became an
early convert and advocate for the new practice, and it is now eight
years and a half since I have uniformly advised and practised
vaccination; in which period I may safely say I have vaccinated up-
wards of twelve hundred.'

Baron (Jenner's biographer) says, 'In 1818 there were numerous
complaints of the bad quality of the lymph and the prevalence of
small-pox after vaccination.'

In the Monthly Gazette of Health (1820), edited by Dr. Reece
and other eminent medical men, is an acknowledgment (p. 439) that
' cases of small-pox after cow-pox are become so common as no longer
to excite any interest.' Finally, coming down to a later period, I find
Mr. Ernest Hart, in his Report to the Parliamentary Bills Committee
of the British Medical Association on Vaccination Penalties, saying,
' So fatal and prevalent was small-pox in the early part of the present

3 I 2


reign that a Committee had been appointed in 1838 to inquire into
the present state of vaccination in England;' while in 1853 the
Lancet (May 21) observes, ' In the public mind extensively, and
to a more limited extent in the profession itself, doubts are known
to exist as to the efficacy and eligibility of vaccination.'

This kind of testimony might be quoted ad infinitum. I do
not offer it, of course, as conclusive testimony, but it may serve to
open the minds of candid inquirers who have hitherto placed implicit
faith in the tradition of the success of vaccination historically con-

Let us now see how far these individual witnesses to the failure
of vaccination are confirmed by the statistics since 1837, when the
distinctive registration of deaths came into operation in England
and Wales. It would appear that at that time vaccination was not
growing in public favour, and about the year 1852 it was resolved
by certain medical experts and scientists to make a vigorous attempt
to obtain that which they had so long desired, viz. an Act for com-
pulsory vaccination. A statement was addressed by Dr. Seaton to the
Epidemiological Society and ordered to be printed by the House of
Commons, May 3, 1853, stating (as was quite true) the extent to which
vaccination was then neglected, and asserting what was not true, viz.
the great increase of small-pox, and pleading for legislative enforce-
ment of vaccination. The Act was easily passed; there was little dis-
cussion or interest on the subject; very likely not above a hundred
persons really studied the effect of such a measure; and in this
negligent sort of manner we became saddled with a law which has,
in my opinion, been productive of a vast amount of individual
suffering as well as of great injury to the public health. And with
what practical result ? Let the following figures show :—

London Small-pox Deaths.

1851-60    7,150

1861-70    8,347

1871-80    15,543

Or, to put it in another form, take the following extract from a
paper read before the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society
(Proceedings, vol. xvi. No. 9) by Joseph Baxendell, F.R.A.S.:—

As the best test of the value of vaccination, I have discussed the small-pox
statistics of London—the best vaccinated city in the kingdom—and compared the
results for the five years 1840-53, before vaccination was made compulsory, with
those for the five years 1869-73, when compulsory vaccination had been twenty
years in operation. In the former five years, when vaccination was voluntary,
and the number of vaccinated persons probably did not amount to 10 per cent. of
the total population, the death rate from small-pox in London was .292; but in
the latter five years, when vaccination had been strictly carried out for twenty
years, and the number of vaccinated persons was 95 per cent. of the population,
the rate was .679 (of the total mortality), thus showing the extraordinary increase
of 132.5 per cent.


Or take the deaths in England and Wales:—

Deaths from small-pox in the first ten years after the enforce-
ment of vaccination—1854-63     33,515

In the second ten years—1864-73    70,458

But these figures pass like the idle wind, producing no effect
whatever upon the mind of the enthusiastic advocate of vaccination ;
and this for the obvious reason that he bases his proof of the efficacy
of his system upon the bare assertion of his foregone conclusion.
Under this system all facts are equally useful to them. If small-
pox is not prevalent, what a glorious illustration of the protection
afforded by vaccination ! While if an epidemic is upon us, carrying
off its thousands, they equally congratulate us upon having been
saved from a still greater mortality by the universal application of
their (ex hypothesi) all but perfect prophylactic !

Thus it is taken as the strongest evidence in their favour, that
in the first years of the practice of vaccination there was a great
decrease in small-pox mortality, although at that time so few per-
sons were vaccinated—probably not 2 per cent.—that no perceptible
effect could have been produced, and also while other conditions
were in action sufficient to account for the diminution in the mor-
tality without reference to vaccination. Dr. Farr says, ' Small-pox
attained its maximum after inoculation was introduced : this disease
began to grow less fatal before vaccination was discovered ; indicating,
together with the diminution in fever, the general improvement in
health then taking place.'

Now compare this credulity as regards the effect produced by
vaccination in the years 1800-1810 with their incredulity as to its
failure, when by compulsion they have raised the ratio of vaccination
from, say, 50 per cent. in 1850 to 90 or 95 per cent. at the present
time, or, according to Dr. Carpenter (in London), to 99-2/3 per cent.
(300 to 1); and this contemporaneously with the tremendous out-
break of 1871-2, in regard to which Dr. Carpenter has undertaken
the not very easy task of explaining the figures without damaging

In further illustration of this strangely illogical and unscientific
state of mind, which is enabled to turn all facts, however inconsistent
with the protective powers of vaccination, into arguments in its
favour, Dr. Carpenter attributes unhesitatingly to vaccination ' the
almost complete extinction within the last two years of small-pox
in the nineteen great towns whose aggregate population (about
3-3/4 millions) equals that of the metropolis.'
What sort of reasoning is this ?

In London, where the unvaccinated are declared to be only one
in 300, there has been in these very two years a serious epidemic.
Therefore vaccination is a protection. In the nineteen other large


towns, where the amount of vaccination is certainly much less than
this proportion, there has been 'almost complete exemption' from
small-pox; and again, how excellent a protection is vaccination ! All
roads lead Dr. Carpenter to the same happy conclusion.

Again, when Dr. Carpenter is reminded that in Leicester (one of
the nineteen towns), where vaccination has been greatly neglected,
the exemption from small-pox has been as complete as in the other
(thoroughly vaccinated) towns, while in smaller places, such as
Keighley, Dewsbury, and other places, where, as Dr. Carpenter
remarks, ' the anti-vaccination feeling has been for some years so
strong that a considerable percentage of the present juvenile popula-
tion (perhaps even amounting in some places to one-third) is now
unvaccinated,' a like exemption from small-pox has prevailed, he can
only treat with lofty scorn the folly that can see in such facts any
cause for doubt as to the efficacy of vaccination. Where the un-
vaccinated do not die, Dr. Carpenter's confidence in his theory seems
but the more confirmed: and when, as in 1871, thousands of vaccinated
persons died of small-pox in London, Dr. Carpenter is driven to the
conclusion that the protective power of vaccination ' has never been
so conspicuously manifested,' and that the lesson taught by that
experience is the necessity for the ' more thorough and satisfactory
enforcement of the compulsory clauses of the Vaccination Acts.'

Surely nothing like this reasoning has been heard since the days
of Dr. Sangrado, who, when Gil Blas represented that all his patients
died, ' as if they took a pleasure in dying merely to bring our practice
into discredit,' replied, ' Why, truly, child, if I was not so sure as I
am of the principles on which I proceed, I should think my remedies
were pernicious in almost all the cases that come under my care;'
and, further, when Gil Blas suggested a change of method, the excel-
lent Doctor observed, ' I would willingly, but I have published a
book in which I have extolled the use of'—Vaccination ?

We are further informed that Gil Blas at once recognised the
force of this answer, and rejoined, ' Certainly ; you must not give
your enemies such a triumph over you; perish rather the nobility,
clergy, and people, and let us continue in our old path.'

The loose habit of Dr. Carpenter's mind is vividly illustrated in
his treatment of Scotland. He writes :—

The great and continued fatality of small-pox in its principal towns during the
four years 1871-4 may be fairly attributed in part to the very unsanitary condi-
tion of large parts of them, and in part to the existence of a much, larger propor-
tion of the unvaccinated residuum than survived in England, the compulsory
clauses which took effect in England in 1854 not having been introduced into
Scotland until 1865.

Here we have the prevalence of small-pox in 1871-4 attributed
to two causes—first, to the unsanitary condition of large parts of the
Scotch towns; and secondly, to the existence of an unvaccinated


residuum. The first cause is a permanent factor of zymotic disease,
sometimes yielding small-pox and sometimes other forms of fever,
but the second cause, the unvaccinated residuum, is a figment of Dr.
Carpenter's imagination. Compulsion as applied to vaccination was
a superfluity in Scotland, the ' long-headed people,' as Dr. Cameron
styles them, having, in common with the Irish, consented to the
practice almost without exception. Thus we read in Dr. Seaton's
Handbook of Vaccination:

The Registrar-General for Scotland was able to report to Parliament that of
221,980 children Lorn in that country between the day the Act came into opera-
tion (January 1, 1864) and December 31, 1865, there were only 5,382 respecting
whom the entries required by the Vaccination Act had not been made in Ms
registers ; a result which he justly regarded as for all practical purposes complete.

If, therefore, the vaccination of Scotland was complete in 1865,
and, as the returns prove, was maintained complete, how did an un-
vaccinated residuum come into being in the severe epidemic of
1871-4 ? Having assumed the defence of vaccination, Dr. Carpenter
appears to consider it his duty to find facts where facts are not. Small-
pox having fallen off in Scotland since 1874, he unhesitatingly ascribes
the decline to vaccination ; but if vaccination is preventive, why was
it not equally operative, when equally existent, prior to 1874 ? He
forgets the common phenomenon that after a severe outbreak of any
fever there usually follows a quiescence of that form of fever, a fever
of another fashion taking its place. ' There have not been,' says Dr.
Carpenter,' more than two small-pox deaths a year, either in Glasgow
or Edinburgh, since 1877, though other fevers have been rife.' Just
so. Other fevers have been rife, having taken the place of small-pox;
and where is the gain ? As Mr. Edwin Chadwick has taught us, we
should fix our attention firmly on the general zymotic death-rate; and
if that be not reduced, of what consequence is the special form of
mortality ?

But Dr. Carpenter is indeed a bold man to refer to Scotland at
all. Prior to 1871 there had been an absence of epidemic small-pox
for several years, and the aggregate mortality for the six years 1865-70
was but 876. Dr. Lyon Playfair (July 1870) triumphantly declared
in the House that ' there could not be the slightest doubt that
compulsory laws, when properly applied, as in Scotland and Ireland,
were perfectly equal to stamp out small-pox in a country.'

Ah! luckless speech and bootless boast.

In 1871 epidemic small-pox reappeared, and in the next four
years, 1871-4, the deaths by small-pox amounted to 7,260! Since
then there has been no return of epidemic, and Dr. Carpenter can
once more point blandly to Scotland as a crowning testimony of
the triumphs of vaccination. That vaccination can only subdue small-
pox when absent derogates not a little from its usefulness. It is said


that in certain Indian tribes the medicine men used, on occasion of an
eclipse, to gain a temporary credit by boasting that they had stamped
out the sun, but they naturally lost credit when it was found that the
sun invariably reappeared on the ensuing day.

It is no easy task to grasp and answer a style of argument such
as I have quoted. It is so flimsy that to cut through it is as hard a
task as Richard found it to sever a scarf of lace. It is, nevertheless,
a great improvement upon the ordinary tactique of the pro-vaccina-
tionist, which is simply to assert the fact which he is bound to prove.
That in this I speak without exaggeration the following extract from
that high medical authority the Lancet will show. In its issue of
June 18, 1881, it says, in relation to a statement put forth by
Dr. Buchanan, Medical Officer of the Local Government Board :—

These facts, after full allowance for all errors in the estimates used for the
calculations, afford grounds for the strongest special pleading in favour of vaccina-tion. We doubt, however, the expediency of any such special pleading. It is beyond dispute that efficient infant vaccination followed by efficient re-vaccination at
adolescence practically confer immunity from fatal small-pox.
It is wiser, we think,
for the Department having the control of vaccination simply to take its stand upon
this ground, and to accept the recent small-pox epidemic in London, so far as
regards the deaths of children, as evidence of a failure of the vaccination system
as at present carried out.

The Lancet is, indeed, wise in its generation. By this petitio
it renders the sacred cause of vaccination absolutely secure
from any argument however crushing, from any facts however
overwhelming. Does any vaccinated person die of small-pox, it only
proves that, if an infant, the vaccination, if an adult, the revaccination,
was not ' efficient.' When Doctor Sangrado's patients died, that
excellent prototype of the vaccination experts of the present day
employed the like irrefutable argument-—the bleeding and hot-
water treatment had stopped short of the point when it would have
been ' efficient.'

And now let us consider for a moment whether the general
statistics of small-pox mortality for the last hundred years afford any
testimony whatever in favour of the efficacy of vaccination.

Prior to the year 1837, as I have said, there was no dis-
criminative register of the mortality in England and Wales. Prior
therefore to that time our pro-vaccination friends have full scope
for recording such enormous small-pox mortalities in the ante-
vaccination times as tradition may have handed down, or the
requirements of their theory render desirable. Thus Dr. Carpenter,
with, I am sure, the most perfect good faith, killed off by vaccination
in Iceland more souls than there were to die ; and in regard to the
metropolitan area (to which I am about to refer, because registra-
tion records were kept in the last century and were known as the
bills of mortality) Dr. Carpenter made in his letter to the Spectator
the following astounding statement:—


None but those who have studied the medical history of the last century have
the least idea of the ravages then committed by small-pox. The 'esteemed con-
tributor ' to the Modern Review obviously considers the death of 44,000 persons
from small-pox in England during the three years 1870-2 (at the rate of 14,666
per annum), 'in spite of compulsory vaccination,' a conclusive disproof of its
efficacy. But he is clearly ignorant of the fact that a hundred years ago the
small-pox mortality of London alone (with its then population of under a million)
was often greater in six months' epidemic than that of the twenty millions of Eng-
land and Wales is now in any whole year.

Probably so astounding a misstatement, on a simple question of
figures, was never before put forth by a man of scientific reputation
and of the highest personal character ; and I can only account for it
in this case by the inordinate appetite shown by the advocates of
vaccination for statistics however erroneous, for arguments however
illogical, and for canards however incredible, which seem to tell in
favour of their pet fanaticism. It is enough to say in evidence of
this, that the highest mortality in any one year in London in the
last century was 3,992, whereas the deaths in London in 1871 were
7,912, and the deaths in England and Wales in the epidemic 1870-2
were 44,840.

The average annual small-pox mortality within the bills of
mortality during the last century is estimated to have been between
two and three thousand per million living, while in these days, when
everybody is protected by vaccination, the most prudent amongst us,
let us hope, with five wounds in each arm, and the operation repeated
every third year, and with almost boundless improvements in sanitary
and hygienic regulations, what do we find ?

In 1871 the deaths from small-pox were, per million living:—


. 5,351


. 3,900


. 4,773


. 4,140


. 8,283


. 3,150

London .

. 2,430


. 4,390


. 3,040

Or, looking abroad to places in most of which vaccination has
been carried to the highest extent, the result is still less reas-
suring :—-

Berlin .

. 6,310

Paris .

. 5,720


. 3,710


. 3,980

Buda-Pesth .

. 3,280

Rome .

. 3,090


. 3,360

Rotterdam .

. 14,280


. 14,100


. 6,980


. 15,440


. 5,170

Liege .

. 3,410

I have not unfrequently been told by friends interested in the
question, 'We are puzzled by the variety of the statistics presented
to us. Dr. Carpenter gives us certain figures, and they have a plau-
sible and reasonable air, and then you give us a number of statistics


which appear overwhelming on the other side ; and not having studied
the matter for ourselves, we find it difficult to make the two agree.
The next time you write, do not only give us your own statistics,
but take those given by Dr. Carpenter, and show their fallacy or
unfairness.' There is much sense in this, and let us now see if we
can detect the mode in which Dr. Carpenter, while doubtless quoting
correctly his figures, yet so selects or adapts them as to seem for
a moment to throw some doubt upon the tremendous results indi-
cated by my figures—not mine, by the way, for they are official, and,
as far as I know, neither selected nor adapted.

Here is a table (which, unlike Dr. Carpenter's, includes the excep-
tional) exhibiting at a glance the mean annual death-rate from
small-pox per million living in England and Wales from 1838 to

Five years—1838-42    571

1843-46     No returns published

Three years—1847-49    303

Five years—1850-54    279

Five years—1855-59     199

Five years—1860-64    190

Five years—1865-69    147

Five years—1870-74    433

Five years—1875-79. . . . . . . . 344

Dr. Carpenter's figures are placed in different form, but I think
he would fully admit the correctness of the above figures. It is not
in dispute, therefore, between us that there has been for about a
century a continuous decline in small-pox mortality; but while he
attributes this wholly to the results of vaccination, I maintain, on the
contrary, that there is no evidence whatever that vaccination has had
anything to do with it. The decline commenced before vaccination
was practised, and, as will be seen by the above figures, it bears no cha-
racter of relation to the gradual increase in the practice of vaccina-
tion, which, commencing about 1800, with perhaps 1 per cent., has
continued to the present time, when it is said to have reached 90 or 95
per cent. And the broad fact remains that having reached a com-
pleteness of vaccination which Jenner evidently would have con-
sidered sufficient to stamp out the disease, we have to encounter, in
the eightieth year of the triumph of vaccination, an epidemic
acknowledged by Dr. Carpenter to be one characterised by 'peculiar
virulence ' and ' widespread mortality.'

Considering the enormous advances that the last century has seen
in our sanitary arrangements, there seems nothing more natural than
to attribute to this improvement the diminution of the small-pox
mortality, to which indeed it seems fully adequate. Probably the
hygienic conditions of the worst slums of London now are no worse
than were those of all London when in the last century 4,000 persons


perished in one year. But to this Dr. Carpenter opposes the observa-
tion that 'those who attribute the whole of this beneficial change to
sanitation have to account for the fact that no corresponding
decrease has taken place in the mortality from other diseases of the
same class.' Now Dr. Carpenter has alluded to Dr. Farr as an
unrivalled authority on this subject, and this is what Dr. Farr says
on the matter: ' Small-pox attained its maximum after inoculation
was introduced ; this disease began to grow less fatal before vaccina-
tion was discovered, indicating, together with the diminution in
fever, the general improvement of health then taking place.' And
again, 'Fever has proportionally declined since 1771. Fever has
declined in nearly the same ratio as small-pox.' It is clear that Dr.
Carpenter has little faith in sanitation as affecting small-pox. He
says, ' To maintain that this disease is to be extinguished by any
sanitation that is practically possible shows an enthusiastic credulity,'
&c. &c. &c. This is certainly opposed to the views of many distin-
guished men. Mr. Edwin Chadwick, C.B., in his opening address to the
Health Congress lately held at Brighton, said

that cases of small-pox, of typhus, and of others of the ordinary epidemics
occur in the greatest proportion, on common conditions of foul air, from stagnant
putrefactions, from bad house drainage, from sewers of deposit, from excrement-
sodden sites, from filthy street surfaces, from impure water, and from overcrowding
in foul houses; that the entire removal of such conditions by complete sanitation
and by improved dwellings is the effectual preventive of diseases of those species,
and of ordinary as well as of extraordinary visitations, &c.

Dr. Carpenter, on the other hand, apparently believes that 'the
healthiest subjects, living under the most favourable conditions,' are
equally liable with others less favourably conditioned to be infected
with small-pox. In his letter to the Spectator he asserts that 'every
unvaccinated person retains his full congenital liability not merely to
take the disease himself and to have it in its severest form, but to
become the focus of infection to others.' A focus of infection to the
protected! Dr. Carpenter does not explain what he means by ' full
liability,' but of course the implication is that few persons would
escape in an unvaccinated community in a period of epidemic; and I
observed lately in one of our leading medical journals a statement
showing that there are really persons to endorse so extravagant an
opinion—how extravagant a single illustration will prove. The state-
ment to which I refer was (I really think it must have been written
by Dr. Carpenter himself) that' about 90 per cent, of persons in an
unvaccinated community exposed to small-pox will catch it. From
a third to a half would die, and the rest would be marked for
life.'3 Now, as I have already said, the heaviest mortality from
small-pox registered during last century in unprotected London
in any one year was under 4,000. All concurrent testimony places
the ratio of deaths to cases at a little under 20 per cent. We have,

3 Lancet, February 11, 1882.




therefore, about 20,000 cases and no more ; that is to say, that the
' full congenital liability' resulted—assuming the population to have
been three-quarters of a million—in the fact that 20,000 persons did
take small-pox and 730,000 people did not. The panic which it
would appear the object of the advocates of vaccination to produce
by such statements as the foregoing might be further alleviated by
the well-known fact that the years distinguished by large small-pox
mortality are by no means those of the largest general mortality.
Thus, take the forty years 1841-80, and we find the following curious


Small-pox deaths

General death rate
per thousand

Three lowest years. . . 1851












Three highest years . . 1871











Or, to give another not less striking illustration, the deaths by
small-pox in London in 1796 (the highest of that decade) were
3,548, and the whole number of deaths was 19,288. In 1792 the
small-pox deaths were 1,568, and the total mortality 20,213.

Dr. Carpenter endeavours to increase alarm by quoting a number
of illustrious personages who were struck down by small-pox in the
last century as proving that no favourable conditions of life can pro-
tect from small-pox, but he should remember that we have had recent
evidence that palaces may be very dangerous residences, and that it
is probable the palaces of last century were not, to say the least of it,
more sanitary than those of the present.

I have already quoted statistics showing the diminution of
small-pox mortality during the present century, but there is this
peculiarity about them well worth noting, viz. that the average de-
cline arises from the small mortality in the non-epidemic years—of
course by far the larger number—while as regards the periods of
epidemic each one has shown an increase on the previous one : thus,
vaccination was made compulsory in 1853; an additional Act was
passed in 1867, and a still more stringent one in 1871 ; since 1853 we
have had three epidemics :—

Epidemic ..................................... Deaths from small-pox in
England and Wales

1857-8-9 .......................................... . 14,244

1863-4-5 ................................................. . 20,059

1870-1-2 ............................................................................... . 44,840


I am afraid Dr. Carpenter will not be disposed to accept the con-
clusions to which I think these facts naturally lead, viz. that the
diminution of small-pox in non-epidemic periods marks the natural
improvement in general health arising from improved sanitary
conditions, while the enhanced fatality of the epidemic periods
marks the evil accomplished by a general rush to the dangerous
quackery of re-vaccination. Further on I shall offer additional
evidence in support of this hypothesis.

Naturally dissatisfied the advocates of vaccination must be with the
broad facts to which I have adverted, viz. that after eighty years of trial,
and when the system has arrived at what must be recognised as com-
plete development, small-pox is no nearer being stamped out than
before Jenner's name was heard of, while the proportion of mortality
to cases remains singularly identical, as witness the following

Before Vaccination






per cent.


Dr. Jurin quoted by Dr.

London Small-pox Hos-

Lambert quoted by
Rees' Cyclopaedia















After 40 to 80 years of





Mr. Marson's Hospital
Metropolitan Hospitals

Homerton Hospital
(Dr. Gayton)
Dublin Hospital (Or.
Grimshaw) .
Metropolitan (Jebb)

















Under these circumstances it is not surprising that within the
last few years an attempt should have been made to ignore the
general statistics of the question, and to attempt to show a protective
influence in vaccination by pretending to discriminate the victims of
small-pox as between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. This
latest dodge (I can really find no other name for it) of the vaccina-
tion specialists is warmly taken up by Dr. Carpenter, and in fact
forms one of the chief arguments in his article. Apparently Dr.
Carpenter has brought himself to believe that ' while the general
death-rate of the vaccinated is only 7.8 per cent. that of the unvacci-
nated is 44.6 per cent., or nearly six times as great.' And again,


' While the death-rate of vaccinated children was only 6.5 per cent.,
that of the unvaccinated reached the terrible figure of 47.8 per cent.,
or more than seven times as great.'

If we take the most general survey of the statistics for small-pox
mortality, the absolute incredibility of this statement must strike
every one but those impervious to reason through the force of a fore-
gone conclusion. The recognised average mortality in small-pox
cases is about 18 per cent. This is accepted on the best authorities
we have, as being true of ' unprotected' England in the last century,
and the same sort of average is maintained in the present century.
I have a long list of hospital reports before me, both at home and
abroad, and although there are naturally considerable variations, the
general average mortality is maintained with quite a singular exacti-
tude. Medical men will not, I think, deny this statement, although
they certainly do not press it before the public, and the result of my
observation upon the matter is that the public are quite astonished
when the fact is brought before them. It may, however, be well that
I should add distinct medical testimony to the fact.

I find the following in Dr. Seaton's Handbook of Vaccination,
1868, p. 191:—

Dr. Jurin writing early in the last century laid it down as the result of his
investigations that of persons of all ages taken ill of natural small-pox, there will
die of that distemper one in five or six. . . . From returns made to the Epide-
miological Society in 1852, by 156 medical practitioners in various parts of Eng-
land who had kept numerical records of their small-pox experience, it appeared
that the proportion of deaths to cases which they had met with in the natural
form of the disease was 19.7 per cent.; or as nearly as possible one in five.

Now what is it we are asked to believe, as the result of this pre-
tended subdivision of small-pox mortality at the present time into
the vaccinated and unvaccinated ? Why, that the mortality in the
last century in ' unprotected' London was 18 per cent., whereas now,
in what you consider as 'unprotected' England—that is to say, the
unvaccinated portion of it—the mortality is 44 per cent., or almost
treble! Nay, I have seen statements by even more courageous dis-
putants, that the mortality of the 'unprotected' now amounts to 60
or even 80 per cent.! And it must be remembered, in comparing
the present with the last century, that our general sanitary and
hygienic conditions have been immensely improved, and that the
hideous medical maltreatment of small-pox in the last century has
been altogether relinquished for a more natural system.

But when we descend to the practical details of this pretended
subdivision of small-pox mortality, we have to deal with something-
worse than want of logic, and to which I hardly know how to give a
milder name than positive bad faith. To decide whether persons
who have died of small-pox have or have not been vaccinated, with
any degree of scientific accuracy, is an impossibility, as is acknow-


ledged and recognised by those who have had sufficient means of
observation, and who have no foregone conclusion to uphold. The
Lancet long ago deprecated this piece of quackery. The permanence
of the vaccine marks is known to be quite uncertain. As an illustra-
tion I may quote an observation of the Earl of Morley in a debate in
the House of Lords in June last, when it was proposed to prevent
fraudulent re-enlistment in the army by an extension of the practice
of vaccination. He said, ' But would the practice be efficacious ?
He feared not. ... It appeared that out of 100 recruits who were
vaccinated, only 38 were marked.' And this failure, be it remem-
bered, was within the probably short period between vaccination and

Again, it is notorious that in the case of persons dying of con-
fluent small-pox it is quite impossible to detect the vaccination
marks. And, moreover, the whole statement is tainted with suspicion
from the commencement. Admission has in some cases been made
by medical men themselves that their fear of damaging the cause of
vaccination has been too strong for the accuracy of their returns. It
is, in fact, quite in harmony with those who avow a foregone belief
such as requires no proof and declines all argument, that they
should take for granted that a child who dies of small-pox has
not been vaccinated, even when the parent vouches for the fact,
and, as a matter of fact, numerous instances have been found on
critical inquiry, in which the same child has been registered as
' successfully vaccinated,' and in the death register as died of small-
pox ' unvaccinated.' The following medical notes speak volumes as
to the mode in, which this division into vaccinated and unvaccinated
is carried into practice. In the case of the Birkenhead epidemic I
cannot for a moment doubt that an enormous proportion of the 292
registered as ' unvaccinated' and ' unknown,' had duly undergone the
operation in infancy as by law enforced:—

Notes on the Small-pox Epidemic at Birkenhead, 1877 (p. 9).
By Fras. Vacher, M.D.

Vaccinated Unvaccinated Unknown

223 72 220

Died 12 53 28

As regards the patients admitted to the fever hospital or treated at home, those
entered as vaccinated displayed undoubted cicatrices, as attested by competent
medical witnesses, and those entered as not vaccinated were admitted unvaccinated,
or without the faintest mark. The mere assertions of patients (!) or their friends
that they were vaccinated counted for nothing, as about
80 per cent, of the patients
entered on the third column of the table were reported as having been vaccinated in

Dr. Russell's Glasgow Report, 1871-2.

P. 25. Sometimes persons were said to lie vaccinated, but no marts could be
seen, very frequently because of the abundance of the eruption. In some cases of
those which recovered, an inspection before dismission discovered vaccine marks
sometimes ' very good.'


But supposing, just for argument sake, the correctness of Dr.
Carpenter's figures, they would still afford no proof that the un-
vaccinated died because they were unvaccinated, for there is another
specialty which applies to the unvaccinated residuum, and that is,
that while the vaccinated include an enormous proportion of the
well-to-do classes of the community, the unvaccinated consist for the
most part, first, of those whom, being in feeble health, the doctors dare
not vaccinate, and secondly, of that portion of the population living
in the slums of London, and unreachable by vaccination officers, and
under each condition the ' unvaccinated residuum' is marked out to
fall under any existing epidemic in larger proportions than the more
favoured vaccinated class.

I must just notice in passing another similar attempt to show
that there is some connection between vaccination and small-pox, by
declaring that the effect produced by the former on the latter is
precisely regulated by the number of marks upon the arm. Jenner
declared that one mark was sufficient, but no matter for that, and I
fancy that physiologists have usually held that blood-poisoning could
be produced by a single inoculation as well as by a dozen. But this,
however, is no question for me to discuss, and fortunately it is quite
unnecessary, seeing that, as it happens, official statistics are sufficient
to overthrow the allegation.

I find in the ' Metropolitan District Asylums Report' the follow-
ing table of deaths under five years old from small-pox. The per-
centage of deaths is (of those reported as having any vaccination
marks at all) :—

One mark 22 per cent.

Two marks 28 „

Three „ 18 „

Four „ 0 „

Five „ . 16 „

Take, again, another table, age thirty to forty :—

One mark 16 per cent.

Two marks 20 „

Three „ 21 „

Four „ . . . ...... 23 „

Five ,, 8 „

Take, again, the number of cases admitted in various hospitals.
The Deptford Hospital Report for 1879 gives the following:—

One mark 317

Two marks 384

Three „ 447

Homerton Reports, 1871-7, give :

One mark 1,042

Two marks 1,259

Three or more 1,261


Fulham Hospital Report, 1878, gives :—

One mark 149

Two marks 156

Three and more 202

Metropolitan Hospital Report, 1870-2, gives :—

One mark 1,124

Two marks 1,722

Three and more 1,6/7

Such figures as these would really seem to show that the vaccina-
tion authorities boldly make whatever assertions fit in with their
theories, relying upon the probability that the public will not trouble
itself with hospital reports.

Dr. Carpenter in his article quotes other statistics, furnished by
Dr. Gayton, giving quite different results from the figures above.
Perhaps Dr. Carpenter will say that his figures may be taken as at
least neutralising mine, but this would not be fair, for the obvious
reason that, if his view were correct, it could not be contradicted—
although, of course, the proportions might differ—-by any correct
statistics, while, if my view be correct, namely, that the number of
marks is no factor in the question, we should expect to find, according
to the doctrine of probabilities, the greater mortality would sometimes
be found on the side of the few marks, and sometimes of the many.
I have neither time nor opportunity to test Dr. Carpenter's new
figures upon the subject, but I frankly confess that, without impugn-
ing anyone's desire to be accurate, I am not able to put fall faith in
the scientific accuracy of Dr. Gayton's returns.4

While I am putting pen to paper, I receive a report of a speech
delivered within the last few days at Eastbourne, by Mr. W. J. Collins,
M.B., B.S., B.Sc, &c, containing the following passage; and I stop to
ask myself whether the statistics quoted do not as definitely settle the
question of compulsory vaccination, as I could do were I permitted
to occupy an entire number of this Review.

The report of the Highgate Small-pox Hospital for 1871 says: 'Of the 950
cases of small-pox, 870, or 91.5 per cent. of the whole cases, had been vaccinated,'
while that for the last year informs us there were 491 cases and of these only 21
were not vaccinated. In Bromley last summer there actually occurred an epi-
demic of small-pox in which everybody attacked had been previously protected.
Dr. Nicholson, writing to the Lancet, observes: ' There were 43 cases treated in
the Bromley Hospital between April 25 and June 29. Of confluent small-pox

4 In justification of a moderate amount of scepticism I may say that I have been
favoured with a communication from Mr. M. D. Makuna, late Medical Superintendent
of the Fulham Small-pox Hospital, in which he informs me that the information
supplied to Dr. Carpenter for his article in this review in respect to the nurses at
that hospital is wholly incorrect. Mr. Makuna adds : ' I must say that as long as
indefinite statements are made simply to bewilder the public, these questions must
remain a public nuisance.'

Vol. XI.—No. 63. 3 K


there were 16 cases; of discrete, 14; of modified, 13. All the cases had been
vaccinated—3 re-vaccinated.' (F. Nicholson, L.R.C.P. Lancet, August 27, 1881.)

So much for the first point, on which, as I have said, the general
faith in vaccination for the most part depends, viz. the tradition
of its historical success. I come now to the second point, viz. the
supposed universal belief of the medical profession in the efficacy of
vaccination. This, I am convinced, is one of the chief causes of the
blind faith in vaccination amongst the middle and upper classes, who
naturally accept the opinion of their medical advisers upon what they
consider a purely medical question. Upon this point I am warned
by the length to which my paper has already run that I must content
myself with asserting what I could prove on indisputable testimony,
viz. that the unanimity of the medical profession in regard to vacci-
nation is very far indeed from being as complete as is generally
supposed. For lack of space I must likewise omit to recapitulate
the overwhelming evidence as to the other dangers attending vacci-
nation, which very strangely Dr. Carpenter altogether passes by.

Dr. Carpenter concludes his article by kindly providing me with
a Report to the House, to be drawn up by me as imaginary chairman,
of a supposititious Select Committee, after the unanimous testimony
of the medical witnesses has proved the fallacy of all my views upon
the subject. Dr. Carpenter would certainly not expect that I should
so ostentatiously ' write me down an ass' as to follow his suggestion,
and I only notice it to add the hope that, so far as compulsion, at
least, is concerned, we shall not have the question referred to a Select
Committee. On every sound principle upon which, at any rate in
the long run, English legislation is based, compulsory vaccination
stands condemned, and should suffer summary execution without
further reprieve.

P. A. Taylor.