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the two diagrams for a few moments I replied that they were drawn on different scales, but that with that exception I could see no substantial difference between them. The other diagram was on a greatly exaggerated vertical scale, so that the line showing each year's death-rate went up and down with tremendous peaks and chasms, while mine approximated more to a very irregular curve. But my questioner could not see this simple point; and later he recurred to it a second time, and asked me if I really meant to tell them that those two diagrams were both accurate, and when I said again that though on different scales both represented the same facts, he looked up at the ceiling with an air which plainly said, “If you will say that you will say anything !”
The Commission lingered on for six years, and did not issue its final report till 1896, while the evidence, statistics, and diagrams occupied numerous bulky blue-books. The most valuable parts of it were the appendices, containing the tables and diagrams presented by the chief witnesses, together with a large number of official tables and statistics, both of our own and foreign countries, affording a mass of material never before brought together. This enabled me to present the general statistical argument more completely and forcibly than I had done before, and I devoted several months of very hard work to doing this, and brought it out in pamphlet form in January, 1898, in order that a copy might be sent to every member of the House of Commons before the new Vaccination Act came up for discussion. This was done by the National Anti-Vaccination League, and I wrote to the half-dozen members I knew personally, begging them to give one evening to its careful perusal. But so far as any of their speeches showed, not one of the six hundred and seventy members gave even that amount of their time to obtain information on a subject involving the health, life, and personal freedom of their constituents. Yet I know that in no work I have written have I presented so clear and so conclusive a demonstration of the fallacy of a popular belief as is given in this work, which was entitled “ Vaccination a Delusion: its Penal Enforcement a VOL. II.
Crime, proved by the Official Evidence in the Reports of the Royal Commission.” This was included in the second part of my “Wonderful Century," published in June, 1898, and was also published separately in the pamphlet form, as it continues to be ; and I feel sure that the time is not far distant when this will be held to be one of the most important and most truly scientific of my works.
The great difficulty is to get it read. The subject is extremely unpopular; yet as presented by Mr. William White in his “Story of a Great Delusion,” it is seen to be at once a comedy and a tragedy. The historian of epidemic diseases, Dr. C. Creighton, the man who best knows the whole subject, and should be held to be the greatest living authority upon it, terms vaccination “a grotesque delusion.' To inoculate a healthy child (or adult) with an animal disease, under the pretence of protecting it from another disease, the risk of having which is not one in a thousand, would, if now proposed for the first time, be so repugnant to every principle of sane medicine, as well as to common sense, that its proposer would be held to be a madman. The publication of this essay in the “Wonderful Century” (as one of the "failures ") did lead to its being read by a considerable number of persons, and, as I know, of making many converts. With the hope of getting it read by Sir John Gorst, I sent a copy of my pamphlet to Mr. F. W. H. Myers, asking him to be so good as to read it carefully. In reply he wrote, “I will read your pamphlet most carefully; will write and tell you how it affects me; and will, in any case, send it on with your letter and a letter of my own to Sir John Gorst, whom I know well, and whom I agree with you in regarding as the most accessible member of the Government. If I am converted, it will be wholly your doing. I have read much on the subject-Creighton, etc., and am at present strongly pro-vaccination ; at the same time, there is no one by whom I would more willingly be converted than yourself.”
The letter then goes on to quite another matter, and I may give the remainder further on.
Two days later he wrote me again :
"I can see no answer to your statistics and arguments. Of course I should like to see what the doctors can say in reply, as it is difficult to believe in such a widespread blunder. But so far as the statistics with which you deal go—and that is very far-I cannot imagine a convincing answer. much obliged to you for letting me see the pamphlet; and I shall hand it on to Sir John Gorst, with your letter and a letter of
my own. "The unveracity of W. B. Carpenter, and especially of Ernest Hart, ought not to surprise me after what I already knew of their standards in controversy ; but it is staggering all the same."
Such a letter from so clear a reasoner and so thoroughly honest and impartial a writer, was very satisfactory to me; but some months later, in September 1898, I received the following quite unsolicited testimonial from a perfect stranger to me-Lord Grimthorpe-an opponent in politics, but being a King's Counsel and a mathematician, as well as an able writer, was well fitted to form an opinion upon a rather complex statistical problem.
The letter is as follows :
“Batch Wood, St. Albans, September 14, 1898. “To DR. ALFRED R. WALLACE.
" I dare say you will excuse my troubling you with this letter on a subject on which I do not profess to be an expert, but on which it may again be my duty to form a legislative judgment. Last session I was not able to go up and sit through two probably late debates to vote; and, indeed, I had not then made up my mind as I have now, though I had written a short letter to the Times on the vacillation of the Government about the Vaccination Bill.
" Since then I have been reading the chapter about it in your recent book, the “Wonderful Century," and the subsequent letters in the Times; and those of yesterday, especially Dr. Bond's, move me to tell you that, absurd as his
statement about your 'only three converts' is, he and his associates may add me to their number. I do not profess to have wandered through the thickets of the Commissioners' contradictory Reports, but I have long learnt in controversies involving facts, to take more account of the style of the controversialists, and their apparent regard for truth, than of their assertions and references to other people, and the final balance of voting. Specially I had to do so in the somewhat similar controversy in the Times which lasted several months in 1887-8 in which, from the accident of being put in the chair of a hospital meeting that had been called to turn out some doctors for homeopathic heresy, I had gradually to take a leading part, being helped by information from the experts on both sides as the dispute went on. Finally the Times pronounced that I had completely proved the charges of medical conspiracy and tyranny, which the 'orthodox' party had been called upon at the meeting to answer, and declined to attempt, except by their own dicta.'
“Such letters as that of Dr. Bond, even without the answers to it, always go a long way to persuade me that the author has no solid case; and I regard them as mere controversial fireworks, throwing no real light on the subject of discussion. In most controversies involving facts, it soon becomes apparent to competent judges, after hearing the professed experts, on which side is the balance of truth and honesty, as it is very clearly in one of a very different kind which has been going on in the Times for two months, on what is called clerical and episcopal lawlessness, in which the writers on one side think themselves at liberty to assert anything that is ‘necessary for their position' (as their great founder avowed fifty years ago), and take their chance of being refuted.
“In your dispute, as in that, the really decisive facts are becoming more and more extant from the intolerable mass of assertions and references to other people's writings which are worth very little in the face of current genuine evidence, such as you and other writers on your side have produced in manageable form, and which the other side have now had
plenty of time to refute if they can, but certainly have not. In such a case neither past nor present majorities go for much. Indeed, a heavy discount may generally be taken off as due to laziness, and the desire of most people to take the apparently strongest side. I can only say that the more the vaccinationists go on writing and talking as they have done for a long time, the more they are likely to be wrong and conscious that they are so.
“Lest I should be thought to include your 'appendix' of a socialistic nostrum or Remedy for Want' in my general approval of your book, I think it prudent to add that I consider it more demonstrably wrong and ruinous to any country that should adopt it than any disease that has ever been propagated ; but I am not going to discuss that I only add that you may either publish this if you like, or announce me as a 'fourth convert' to anti-vaccination under your treatment-and such as Dr. Bond's.
“ Yours obediently,
“ Batch Wood, St. Albans, October 4, 1898. “ TO DR. F. T. BOND, Gloucester. “SIR,
"I am much obliged to you for the copies of your and Mr. Wallace's letters to the Echo. I have read them carefully, and compared them with the chapter on Vaccination in his “Wonderful Century," and I have no hesitation in giving my verdict as a “juryman,' and not as an expert,' in his favour.
“I take it for granted that you have made as good a case as anybody can on your side, and I have less doubt than before that we (I mean Parliament) have done right in putting an end, as the late Act practically has, to punishing parents for refusing to have their children vaccinated at the risk, as they believe, of doing them more harm than good. The few magistrates who are taking upon themselves to judge of the rightness of the belief will have to be taught that they are breaking and not obeying or executing the law. Nobody will