THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: From the News Letter of April 1816

News Letter urges the benefits of inoculation against small-pox

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 10:00 am
Edward Jenner vaccinating patients against smallpox. Picture: Wellcome Collection
Edward Jenner vaccinating patients against smallpox. Picture: Wellcome Collection

In these times of pandemic I was intrigued to come across the following piece from the News Letter of April 1816 concerning small-pox.

“As the public good required that the Small-pox should be banished from this country, and as it is now ascertained that the Cow-pox is the only likely means of effecting this,” declared the News Letter.

The article continued with “the following correct statement” on the two disorders. It added: “Every good subject will, it is presumed, not delay to enforce and recommend in his family and neighbourhood, the inoculation for the Cow-pox.”

Edward Jenner and his two colleagues seeing off three anti-vaccination opponents, the dead are littered at their feet. Coloured etching by I Cruikshank, 1808. Picture: Wellcome Collection

Of small-pox it was stated: “When natural, is a dangerous disease; requiring long confinement; generally disfiguring with unseemly scars; and often causing a total loss of sight or life itself. When produced by inoculation, it is milder, and seldom fatal; but it is, as well as the former, highly contagious, and is the cause of the disease being so general, to the great loss of beauty, health, and life.”

And as for cow-pox the News Letter’s report remarked: “Is always mild; is attended with little or no fever; confinement; leaves no scars or other deformities; and cannot become contagious; and although in a few persons it may seem to have failed in being a preservative against the Small-pox; in those instances that disease has been almost always mild, whilst the Small-pox happening a second time, is frequently fatal.”

Impending royal nuptials

The marriage of George IV’s daughter Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte to Prince Coburgh had been fixed for May 2, 1816, reported the News Letter.

The London despatch detailed: “Prince Coburgh is expected to arrive on Sunday next from Windsor, at the Duke of Clarence’s, in the stable yard, where he will remain until for the celebration of the happy event.

“His Royal Highness gives a dinner there on Monday, to the Prince Regent, and on Tuesday to the Lord Chancellor and Ministers.

“There will be a public breakfast at Carlton House, at which the leading fashionables will be present.

“After the ceremony the illustrious couple will leave town for the Duke of York’s seat at Oatlands, where, reports says, the honeymoon will be passed.”

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