Doctor Therne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 142 pages of information about Doctor Therne.
and when the parents, themselves the survivors of similar catastrophes, knew well that before it left the house it would take its tithe of those beloved lives.  Let him look at the brasses in our old churches and among the numbers of children represented on them as kneeling behind their parents; let him note what a large proportion pray with their hands open.  Of these, the most, I believe, were cut off by smallpox.  Let him search the registers, and they will tell the same tale.  Let him ask old people of what their mothers told them when they were young of the working of this pestilence in their youth.  Finally, let him consider how it comes about, if vaccination is a fraud, that some nine hundred and ninety-nine medical men out of every thousand, not in England only, but in all civilised countries, place so firm a belief in its virtue.  Are the doctors of the world all mad, or all engaged in a great conspiracy to suppress the truth?

These were my real views, as they must be the views of most intelligent and thoughtful men; but I did not think it necessary to promulgate them abroad, since to do so would have been to deprive myself of such means of maintenance as remained to me.  Indeed, in those days I told neither more nor less than the truth.  Evil results occasionally followed the use of bad lymph or unclean treatment after the subject had been inoculated.  Thus most of the cases of erysipelas into which I examined arose not from vaccination but from the dirty surroundings of the patient.  Wound a million children, however slightly, and let flies settle on the wound or dirt accumulate in it, and the result will be that a certain small proportion will develop erysipelas quite independently of the effects of vaccination.

In the same way, some amount of inoculated disease must follow the almost promiscuous use of lymph taken from human beings.  The danger is perfectly preventable, and ought long ago to have been prevented, by making it illegal, under heavy penalties, to use any substance except that which has been developed in calves and scientifically treated with glycerine, when, as I believe, no hurt can possibly follow.  This is the verdict of science and, as tens of thousands can testify, the common experience of mankind.

CHAPTER VII

CROSSING THE RUBICON

My appearance as an expert before the Royal Commission gave me considerable importance in the eyes of a large section of the inhabitants of Dunchester.  It was not the wealthiest or most influential section indeed, although in it were numbered some rich and powerful men.  Once again I found myself with a wide and rapidly increasing practice, and an income that was sufficient for my needs.  Mankind suffers from many ailments besides that of smallpox, indeed in Dunchester this question of the value of vaccination was at that time purely academical, as except for an occasional case there had been no outbreak of smallpox for years.  Now, as I have said, I was a master of my trade, and soon proved myself competent to deal skilfully with such illnesses, surgical or medical, as I was called upon to treat.  Thus my practice grew, especially among the small tradespeople and artisans, who did not belong to clubs, but preferred to pay for a doctor in whom they had confidence.

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Doctor Therne from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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