Sunday, September 7, 2008

Leprosy, an 1893 view

I sell stuff on eBay and I just posted a listing for a book written in 1893 by William Tebb, called "Leprosy and Vaccinations". Click on the title to go to the listing, if you're interested.

Once again, I'm going to review a book I havent completely read. And I REALLY didnt completely read this one, so be warned, everything I say in here is based on incomplete knowledge. I think that's true for most of what anybody says anywhere, but at least I'm up front about it.

I suppose William Tebb was a smart man. He wrote very well according to the writing conventions of the time. 19th century writing seems to be a bit wordy and round-about, lots of clauses, long sentences and very, very passive.

Here's an example of how passive. This book has a hand written & dated inscription on the title page, "presented to ........ with the author's kind regards, January 17th, 1894, N. Cape Town, S. A.". He never signed his name. It was convention of the time for authors to refer to themselves in the 3rd person in their writings, and he was very true to that. I'm sure he wrote it, but there is no way to prove it, unless there was some other known sample of his handwriting & I wanted to go to the trouble to hire an expert to compare the two. I think not. A note to authors: Sign your name!

Anyway, this book is a summary of studies of Leprosy occurrence and such during the 19th century, and the author has written it to support his agenda, which is to ban vaccinations. It's his theory that vaccinations are spreading Leprosy, and they should be banned entirely. Of course there may be some truth to what he was saying - it is possible that leprosy and other diseases were spread through the use of un-sterile needles. So like his failure to autograph his little inscription, his vaccination theory may have had some truth to it, but was ultimately somewhat askew.

Starting on page 350, there is a neat summary of the book. It makes a very logical 10 point argument for the elimination of vaccinations. It 10th point is a 50 to 60 word sentence which basically says: Leprosy is the most terrible disease known to mankind, it is spread by vaccinations, we need to end vaccinations.

In 1893, I don't think anyone knew what caused leprosy, and there was certainly no cure for it. Left untreated it can be horribly disfiguring. Now they know its caused by a "bacilus", and its completely curable, and if caught early enough, there is no damage or disfiguring. What a difference a few decades make.

So William Tebb was on the losing side of history in this little battle, and all in all its a good thing. Because now, I dont have to worry about things like small pox.


Becki said...

Interesting. I hadn't heard of a theory like that before.

A Valdese Blogger said...

Yep, William Tebb was an anti-vaccinationatarian. (I make up words). I hadn't heard of it either, 'till I came across the book.