Page images
PDF
EPUB

Murphy, who brought several times the virus from North America. This introduction found few obstacles; the cow-pox appeared under the aspect of a very trivial malady; and the smallpox inoculation had already accustomed the In. dians to the idea that it might be useful to submit to a temporary evil for the sake of evading a greater evil. If the vaccine inoculation, or even the ordinary inoculation, had been known in the new world in the sixteenth century, several mil. lions of Indians would not have perished victims to the small-pox, and particularly to the absurd treatment by which the disease was rendered so fatal. To this disease the féarful diminution of the number of Indians in California is to be ascribed. The ships of war commissioned to carry the vaccine matter into America and Asia arrived at Vera Cruz shortly after my arrival.

Don Antonio Valmis, physician general of this expedition, visited Portorico, Cuba, Mexico, and the Philippine islands; and his stay at Mexico, where nevertheless the cow-pox was known before his arrival, contributed singularly to facilitate the propagation of this salutary preservative. In the principal cities of the kingdom vaccine committees were formed (juntas centrales), composed of the inost enlightened individuals, who, by vaccinating monthly, preserve the miasma from being lost. It is so much the less liable to be lost, as it exists in the country. M. Valmis discovered it

in the environs of Valladolid, and in the village of Atlisco, near la Puebla, in the udders of the Mexican cows. The commission having fulfilled the beneficent views of the king of Spain, we may indulge a hope that through the influence of the clergy, and especially of the religious missionaries, vaccination will be gradually introduced into the very interior of the country. The voyage of M. Valmis will thus remain for ever memorable in the annals of history. The Indies saw for the first time those vessels, which were formerly freighted only with instruments of carnage and destruction, bearing about the germ of relief and consolation to distressed and suffering humanity.

The arrival of the armed frigates in which M. Valmis made the circuit of the Atlantic and Pacific, Oceans gave rise on several coasts to one of the most simple, and therefore most affecting, ceremonies. The bishops, military governors, and persons of greatest distinction, repaired to the shore, where they took in their arms the children who were to carry the cow-pox to the indigenous Americans and the Malays of the Philippine islands, and, followed with public acclamations, they laid at the foot of the altar those precious preservative deposits, returning thanks to the Supreme Being for having been the witnesses of so happy an event. We must have some knowledge of the ravages occasioned by the small-pox in the torrid zone, and especially among a race of men whose

Se

physical constitution seems adverse to cutaneous eruptions, in order to feel all the importance of M. Jenner's discovery. It is a much greater blessing for the equinoxial part of the new continent than for the temperate climate of the old.

It may be useful to relate here a fact of some importance for those who take an interest in the progress of vaccination. It was unknown at Lima till the month of November 1802. At that period the small-pox prevailed on the coast of the South Sea. A merchant vessel, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, put into Lima in the passage from Spain to Manilla. An individual had had the good sense to send by this vessel vaccine matter to the Philippine islands. They availed themselves of this opportunity at Lima ; and M. Unanue, professor of anatomy, and author of an excellent physiological treatise on the climate of Peru*, vaccinated several individuals by means of the matter brought by the merchant vessel. No pustule appeared ; and the virus appeared either altered or too weak. However, M. Unanue having observed that all the vaccinated individuals had a very mild small-pox, employed this variolous mat

means

* This work, which displays an intimate acquaintance with the French and English literature, bears the title of Obsercaciones sobre el clima de Lima y sus influencias en los seres orgunizados en especial el hombre, por el Dr. D. Hipolito Uno. !MC. Lima, 1806.

.

an

SV

ter to render, if possible by the ordinary inoculation, the disease less fatal. He thus perceived in an indirect way the effects of a vaccination supposed to have failed

It was accidentally discovered in the course of the same epidemic in 1802, that the beneficent effect of vaccination had been long known to the country people among the Peruvian Andes. A negro slave had been inoculated for the small-pox in the house of the Marquis de Valleumbroso who showed no symptom of the disease. They were going to repeat the inocula. tion, when the young man told them that he was Gertain of never having the small-pox, because in milking cows in the Cordillera of the Andes, he had had a sort of cutaneous eruptions, caused, as the Indian herdsmen said, by the contact of certain tubercules sometimes found on the udders of cows. Those who have had this eruption, said the negro, never take the small-pox. The Africans, and especially the Indians, display great sagacity in observing the character, habits, and diseases of the animals with which they live. We need not therefore be astonished, that, on the in. troduction of horned cattle into America, the lower people remarked that the pustules on the udders of cows communicated to the herdsmen a species of benignant small-pox, and that those once infected are secure from the general contagion during the epochs when the disease is epidemical.

The matlasahuntl, a disease peculiar to the Indian race, seldom appears more than once in a century. It raged in a particular manner in 1545, 1576, and 1736. It is called a plague by the Spanish authors. As the latest epidemic took place at a time when medicine was not considered a science, even in the capital, we have no exact data as to the matlazahuatl. It bears certainly some analogy to the yellow fever or black vomiting; but it never attacks white people, whether Europeans or descendants from the natives. The individuals of the race of Caucasus * do not appear subject to this mortal typhus, while, on the other hand, the yellow fever or black vomiting very seldom attacks the Mexican Indians. The principal site of the vomito prielo is the maritime region, 'of which the climate is excessively warm and humid ; but the matluzahuatl carries terror and destruction into the very interior of the country, to the central table-land, and the coldest and most arid regions of the kingdom.

Father Torribio a Franciscan, better known by

# Who are the individuals of the race of Caucasus? The Europeans. So at least we learn from the context where they are opposed to the Mexican Indians. This involves the theory of the mountains of Asia being the nursery of the old continent. Every one however will not so easily be able to understand Europeans by this denomination. Such attempts to elevate the style, at the expense of perspicuity, can never enough be reprobated. Trans.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »