FROM PROFESSOR F.W NEWMAN. (Vaccination Inquirer Vol 5 p130, 1883)
[Having asked Prof. Newman how he became concerned in the opposition to vaccination, he favoured me with the following communication, which I am sure will be as interesting to the readers of the Vaccination Inquirer as it is to me.---Wm WHITE.]
Norwood Villa, Weston-super-Mare, August,1883.
Dear Sir,You ask me "how I became interested in the Vaccination Question, and at what date?" I will answer as accurately as I am able without research for the date, on which I will first speak. I have volume of the Anti-Vaccinator, in a somewhat elegant exterior, and with an inscription complimentary to me (date 1870). It contains several pieces from my pen; and I have little doubt that my Convictions against vaccination were then full three years old.
The outline of my mental history in this direction is as follows. Circumstances had led me to respect Mr. Henry Pitwan, of Manchester, as a competent and truthful witness of fact. On a certain occasion he spoke publicly on the miserable state to which he had seen a poor lad, Ira Connell, of Southport, reduced by vaccination. Iras parents, and his brothers and sisters, were all hale: his mother attested that previous to vaccination so was Ira. But, after vaccination, Ira had never recovered its dreadful effects, three of his four limbs being crippled.
Some years later, I myself saw Ira Connell at Southport. I think his age was then 25, but am not sure. He had only one leg sound, and hardly one arm. I will not undertake to describe his state exactly, but it was very pitiable. I am happy to add that in nine on ten years more he has gradually recovered, so as at least not to be visibly crippled.
Previously I had refused to read anti-vaccination tracts, having too much already to read. I had never known or heard in my own circles of mischief from vaccination, and when some German ladies spoke of its "horrors" I thought them absurd and. fanatical; but now that Henry Pitman publicly attested afact, this woke me up to the duty of further inquiry.
I at once remembered that in my early youth or boyhood I had been staggered by reading in a medical journal that experience made it impossible to sustain Jenners doctrine that vaccination was a certain preventive of small-pox; but the writer nevertheless urged that it was valuable for making small-pox milder if it did follow. This struck me as an ugly shifting of the basis, and far from plausible. One school-and-college fellow of mine, after vaccination, had small-pox that marked him; but nothing further led me to pursue the argument.
I now at once saw that compulsory vaccination was an infamy, since Parliament could not secure any one from Ira Connells fate: and I was indignant on learning that doctors pooh-poohed such miseries, as endured "for the general good," a theory which justifies any amount of tyranny under the influence of superstition; and I presently remembered that in Roman pestilences sacrifices were believed efficacious, and the arguments of the priests and senators were quite as good as those of our physicians.
I find that in 1869 I bad a sharp debate with a clever young student of Medicine, who poured out the doctrines of the Faculty, which he had been getting up. My respect for the whole Faculty has rapidly got less and less; it bad long been declining. I need not obtrude on you the depth to which it has now sunk, excepting always a noble few, who are what Heretics were to the Mediaeval Church.
Next I saw that no Parliament or King has, or can have, any right (on medical theory) to stick a poisoned lancet into a healthy person; and that to fancy that Human Health can be improved by altering the natural blood of Health is an imbecile contemptible fancy. Moreover, that unless Vaccination is believed to remove the causes of small pox, those causes would entail disease in other ways, and perhaps worse, by suppressing the natural eruption, which eruption alone is called "Small-pox." My mind was thus decided.
I did not learn till some years later (what alone concerns Parliament) that the more active is small-pox, the less is the Total Mortality of any year; and conversely, the less active the small pox, the greater is the Total Mortality. This is the only form of statistics worth attending to. All the rest is dust thrown in our eyes. I greatly regret that Mr. P. A. Taylor and Mr. Hopwood allow their opponents to lure them into Medical Statistics, which are all Irrelevant; a course which I deprecated and feared would damage them in Parliament, as it has.
Statistics not founded on a scientific principle are the commonest nidus of fallacy; but if any statistics are to be listened to, those of Total Mortality are the least open to suspicion. The prima facie evidence is, that instead of Vaccination saving yearly 80,000 lives (Sir Lyon Play-fairs monstrous assertion) Vaccination does only harm; but that Small-pox saves every year many lives (some hundreds or thousands) by a natural eruption, under the morbid circumstances desirable.Truly yours, F. W. NEWMAN.
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