Those who disbelieve in the efficacy of vaccination to protect against small-pox are under the disadvantage that, owing to the practice having been so rapidly adopted by all civilized people, there are no communities who have rejected it while adopting methods of general sanitation, and who have also kept satisfactory records of mortality from various causes. Any such country would have afforded what is termed a "control" or test experiment, the absence of which vitiates all the evidence of the so-called "variolous test" in Jenner’s time, as was so carefully pointed out before the Commission by Dr. Creighton and Professor Crookshank. We do, however, now possess two such tests on a limited, but still a sufficient scale. The first is that of the town of Leicester, which for the last twenty years has rejected vaccination till it has now almost vanished altogether. The second is that of our Army and Navy, in which, for a quarter of a century, every recruit has been revaccinated, unless he has recently been vaccinated or has had small-pox. In the first we have an almost wholly "unprotected" population of nearly 200,000, which, on the theory of the vaccinators, should have suffered exceptionally from small-pox; in the other we have a picked body of 220,000 men, who, on the evidence of the medical authorities, are as well protected as they know how to make them, and among whom, therefore, small-pox should be almost or quite absent, and small-pox deaths quite unknown. Let us see, then, what has happened in these two cases.

Perhaps the most remarkable and the most complete body of statistical evidence presented to the Commission was that of Mr. Thomas Biggs, a sanitary engineer and a town councillor of Leicester. It consists of fifty-one tables exhibiting the condition of the population in relation to health and disease from almost every conceivable point of view. The subject is further illustrated by sixteen diagrams, many of them in colours, calculated to exhibit to the eye in the most clear and simple manner the relations of vaccination and sanitation to small-pox and to the general health of the people, and especially of the children, in whose behalf it is always alleged vaccination is enforced. From this wealth of material I can give only two diagrams exhibiting the main facts of the case, as shown by Mr. Biggs’ statistics in the Fourth Report of the Royal Commission, all obtained from official sources.

The first diagram (No. VIII.) shows in the upper part, by a dotted line, the total vaccinations, public and private, since 1850 (From 1850 to 1873 the private vaccinations have been estimated according to their proportion of the whole since they have been officially recorded).   The middle line shows the mortality per million living from the chief zymotic diseases—fevers, measles, whooping-cough, and diphtheria — while the lower line gives the small-pox mortality. We notice here a high mortality from zymotics and from small-pox epidemics, during the whole period of nearly complete vaccination from 1854 to 1870. Then commenced the movement against vaccination, owing to its proved uselessness in the great epidemic when Leicester had a very much higher small-pox mortality than London, which has resulted in a continuous decline, especially rapid for the last fifteen years, till it is now reduced to almost nothing. For that period not only has small-pox mortality been continuously very low, but the zymotic diseases have also regularly declined to a lower amount than has ever been known before.

The second diagram (No. IX.) is even more important, as showing the influence of vaccination in increasing both the infantile and the total death-rates to an extent which even the strongest opponents of that operation had not thought possible. There are four solid lines on the diagram showing respectively, in five-year averages from 1838—42 to 1890—95, (1) the total death-rate per 1,000 living, (2) the infant death-rate under five years, (3) the same under one year, and (4), lowest of all, the small-pox death-rate under five years. The dotted line shows the percentage of total vaccinations to births.

The first thing to be noted is the remarkable simultaneous rise of all four death-rates to a maximum in 1868—72, at the same that the vaccination rate attained its maximum. The decline in the death-rates from 1852 to 1860 was due to sanitary improvements which had then commenced; but the rigid enforcement of vaccination checked the decline owing to its producing a great increase of mortality in children, an increase which ceased as soon as vaccination diminished. This clearly shows that the deaths which have only recently been acknowledged as due to vaccination, directly or indirectly, are really so numerous as largely to affect the total death-rate; but they were formerly wholly concealed, and still are partially concealed, by being registered under such headings as erysipelas, syphilis, diarrhoea, bronchitis, convulsions, or other proximate cause of death.

Here, then, we have indications of a very terrible fact, the deaths by various painful and often lingering diseases of thousands of children as the result of that useless and dangerous operation termed vaccination.

It is difficult to explain the coincidences exhibited by this diagram in any other way, and it is strikingly corroborated by a diagram—of infant mortality in London and in England which I laid before the Royal Commission, and which I here reproduce (No. X.). The early part of this diagram is from a table calculated by Dr. Farr from all the materials available in the Bills of Mortality, and it shows for each twenty years the marvellous diminution in infant mortality during the hundred years from 1730 to 1830, proving that there was some continuous beneficial change in the conditions of life. The materials for a continuation of the diagram are not given by the Registrar-General in the case of London, and I have had to calculate them for England. But from 1840 to 1890 we find a very slight fall, both in the death-rate under five years and under one year for England, and under one year for London, although both are still far too high, as indicated by the fact that in St. Saviour’s it is 213, and in Hampstead only 123 per 1,000 births. There appear to have been some causes which checked the diminution in London after 1840, then produced an actual rise from 1860 to 1870, followed by a slight but continuous fall since. The check to the diminution of the infant death-rate is sufficiently accounted for by that extremely rapid growth of London by immigration which followed the introduction of railways and which would appreciably increase the child-population (by immigration of families) in proportion to the births. The rise from 1860 to 1870 exactly corresponds to the rise in Leicester, and to the strict enforcement of infant vaccination, which was continuously high during this period; while the steady fall since corresponds also to that continuous fall in the vaccination rate due to a growing conviction of its uselessness and its danger. These facts strongly support the contention that vaccination, instead of saving thousands of infant lives, as has been claimed, really destroys them by thousands, entirely neutralising that great reduction which was in progress from the last century, and which the general improvement in health would certainly have favoured. It may be admitted that the increasing employment of women in factories is also a contributory cause of infant mortality, but there is no proof that a less proportion of women have been thus employed during the last twenty years, while it is certain that there has been a great diminution of vaccination, which is now admitted to be a vera causa of infant mortality.

Before leaving the case of Leicester it will be instructive to compare it with some other towns of which statistics are available. And first as to the great epidemic of 1871—2 in Leicester and in Birmingham. Both towns were then well vaccinated, and both suffered severely by the epidemic. Thus:




S.P cases per 10,000 population



S.P deaths per 10,000 population



But since then Leicester has rejected vaccination to such an. extent that in 1894 it had only seven vaccinations to ten thousand population, while Birmingham had 240, or more than thirty times as much, and the proportion of its inhabitants who have been vaccinated is probably less than half those of Birmingham. The Commissioners themselves state that the disease was brought into the town of Leicester on twelve separate occasions during the recent epidemic, yet the following is the result:

1891-4 Leicester Birmingham
S.P. cases per 10,000 population 19 63
S.P. deaths per 10,000 population 1.1 5

Here we see that Leicester had less than one-third the cases of small-pox, and less than one-fourth the deaths in proportion to population than well-vaccinated Birmingham; so that both the alleged protection from attacks of the disease, and mitigation of its severity when it does attack, are shown, not only to be absolutely untrue, but to apply really, in this case, to the absence of vaccination! 

But we have yet another example of an extremely well-vaccinated town in this epidemic—Warrington, an official report on which has just been issued. It is stated that 99.2% of the population had been vaccinated, yet the comparison with unvaccinated Leicester stands as follows:

Epidemic of 1892-3



S.P cases per 10,000 population



S.P. deaths per 10,000



Here then we see that in the thoroughly vaccinated town the cases are more than six times, and the deaths more than eight times, that of the almost unvaccinated town, again proving that the most efficient vaccination does not diminish the number of attacks, and doss not mitigate the severity of the disease, but that both these results follow from sanitation and isolation.

Now let us see how the Commissioners, in their Final Report deal with the above facts, which are surely most vital to the very essence of the enquiry, and the statistics relating to which have been laid before them with a wealth of detail not equalled in any other case. Practically they ignore it altogether. Of course I am referring to the Majority Report, to which alone the Government and the unenlightened public are likely to pay any attention. Even the figures above quoted as to Leicester and Warrington are to be found only in the Report of the Minority, who also give the case of another town, Dewsbury, which has partially rejected vaccination, but not nearly to so large an extent as Leicester, and in the same epidemic it stood almost exactly between unvaccinated Leicester and well-vaccinated Warrington, thus:

 Leicester .         had 1.1 mortality per 10,000 living
Dewsbury . . .had  6.7 mortality per 10,000 living
Warrington . .had 11.8  mortality per 10,000 living

Here again we see that it is the unvaccinated towns that suffer least, not the most vaccinated. The public of course have been terrorised by the case of Gloucester, where a large default in vaccination was followed by a very severe epidemic of small-pox. The Majority Report refers to this in par. 373, intending to hold it up as a warning, but strangely enough in so important a document, say the reverse of what they mean to say, giving to it "very little," instead of "very much" small-pox. This case, however, has really nothing whatever to do with the question at issue, because, although anti-vaccinators maintain that vaccination has not the least effect in preventing or mitigating small-pox, they do not maintain that the absence of vaccination prevents it. What they urge is, that sanitation and isolation are the effective and only preventives, and it was because Leicester attended thoroughly to these matters, and Gloucester wholly neglected them that the one suffered so little and the other so much in the recent epidemic. On this subject every enquirer should read the summary of the facts given in the Minority Report, paragraph 261

To return to the Majority Report. Its references to Leicester are scattered over 80 pages, referring separately to the hospital staff, and the relations of vaccinated and unvaccinated to small-pox; while in only a few paragraphs (par. 480—486) do they deal with the main question and the results of the system of isolation adopted. These results they endeavour to minimise by declaring that the disease was remarkably "slight in its fatality," yet they end by admitting that "the experience of Leicester affords cogent evidence that the vigilant and prompt application of isolation . . . is a most powerful agent in limiting the spread of small-pox." A little further on (par. 500) they say, when discussing this very point—how far sanitation may be relied on in place of vaccination—" The experiment has never been tried," Surely a town of 180,000 inhabitants which has neglected vaccination for twenty years, is an experiment. But a little further on we see the reason of this refusal to consider Leicester a test experiment. Par. 502 begins thus: "The question we are now discussing must, of course, be argued on the hypothesis that vaccination affords protection against small-pox." What an amazing basis of argument for a Commission supposed to be enquiring into this very point! They then continue: "Who can possibly say that if the disease once entered a town the population of which was entirely or almost entirely unprotected, it would not spread with a rapidity of which we have in recent times had no experience?" But Leicester is such a town. Its infants—the class which always suffers in the largest numbers—are almost wholly unvaccinated, and the great majority of its adults have, according to the bulk of the medical supporters of vaccination, long outgrown the benefits, if any, of infant-vaccination. The disease has been introduced into the town twenty times before 1884, and twelve times during the last epidemic (Final Report, par. 482 and 483). The doctors have been asserting for years that once small-pox comes to Leicester it will run through the town like wild-fire. But instead of that it has been quelled with far less loss than in any of the best vaccinated towns in England. But the Commissioners ignore this actual experiment, and soar into the regions of conjecture with, "Who can possibly say ? "—concluding the paragraph with—"A priori reasoning on such a question is of little or no value." Very true. But a posteriori reasoning, from the cases of Leicester, Birmingham, Warrington, Dewsbury, and Gloucester, is of value; but it is of value as showing the utter uselessness of vaccination, and it is therefore, perhaps, wise for the professional upholders of vaccination to ignore it. But surely it is not wise for a presumably impartial Commission to ignore it as it is ignored in this Report.*

*[Although the Commission make no mention of Mr. Bigg’s tables and diagrams showing the rise of infant-mortality with increased vaccination, and its fall as vaccination diminished, they occupied a whole day cross-examining him upon them, endeavouring by the minutest criticism to diminish their importance. Especially it was urged that the increase or decrease of mortality did not agree in detail with the increase or decrease of vaccination, forgetting that there are numerous causes contributing to all variations of death-rate, while vaccination is only alleged to be a contributory cause, clearly visible in general results, but not to be detected in smaller variations (see Fourth Report, Q. 17,518-17,744, or pp. 870 to 881). Mr. Bigg’s cross-examination in all occupies 110 pages of the Report]


In the Report of the Medical Officer of the Local Government Board for 1884 it is alleged that when an adult is re-vaccinated "he will receive the full measure of protection that vaccination is capable of giving him." In the same year the Medical Officer of the General Post Office stated in. a circular "It is desirable, in order to obtain full security, that the operation (vaccination) should be repeated at a later period of life"; and the circular of the National Health Society already referred to states that "soldiers who have been revaccinated can live in cities intensely affected by small-pox without themselves suffering to any appreciable degree from the disease." Let us then see how far these official statements are true or false.

In their Final Report the Commissioners give the statistics of small-pox mortality in the Army and Navy from 1860 to 1894 and, although the latest order for the vaccination of the whole force in the Navy was only made in 1871, there can be no doubt that, practically, the whole of the men had been revaccinated long before that period; (It was introduced into the Navy in 1801, and in that year the medical officers of the fleet presented Jenner with a special gold medal!) but certainly since 1873 all without exception, both English and foreign, were revaccinated; and in the Army every recruit has been revaccinated since 1860 (see 2nd Report, Q. 3,453, 3,455; and for the Navy, Q. 2,645, 6, 8,212—13, and 3,226—8,229). Brigade-Surgeon William Nash, M.D., informed the Commission that the vaccination and revaccination of the Army was " as perfect as endeavours can make it," and that he can make no suggestion to increase its thoroughness (Q. 3,559, 3,560).

Turning now to the diagram (No. XI) which represents the official statistics, the two lower solid lines show the small-pox death-rate per 100,000 of the force of the Army and Navy for each year, from 1860 to 1894. The lower thick line shows the Army mortality, the thin line that of the Navy. The two higher lines show the total death-rate from disease of the Navy, and of the Home force of the Army, as the tables supplied do not separate the deaths by disease of that portion of the Army stationed abroad.

Looking first, at these upper lines, we notice two interesting facts. The first is, the large and steady improvement of both forces as regards health-conditions during the thirty-five years; and the second is the considerable and constant difference in the disease mortality of the two services, the soldiers having thoroughout the whole period a much higher mortality than the sailors. The decrease of the general mortality is clearly due to the great improvements that have been effected in diet, in ventilation, and in general health-conditions; while the difference in health between the two forces is almost certainly due to two causes, the most important being that the sailors spend the greater part of every day in the open-air, and in air of the maximum purity and health-giving properties, that of the open sea; while soldiers live mostly in camps or barracks, often in the vicinity of large towns, and in a more or less impure atmosphere. The other difference is that soldiers are constantly subject to temptations and resulting disease, from which sailors while afloat are wholly free.

Turning now to the lower lines, we see that, as regards small-pox mortality, the Navy suffered most down to 1880, but that since that period the Army has had rather the higher mortality. This has been held to be due to the less perfect vaccination of the Navy in the earlier period, but of that there is no proof, while there is evidence as to the causes of the improvement in general health. Staff-Surgeon T. J. Preston, R.N., stated them thus: "Shorter sea-voyages; greater care not to overcrowd; plentiful and frequent supplies of fresh food; the introduction of condensed water; and the care that is now taken in the general economy and hygiene of the vessels" (Q. 3,253). These seem sufficient to have produced also the comparative improvement in small-pox mortality, especially as the shorter voyages would enable the patients to be soon isolated on shore. The question we now have to consider is, whether the amount of small-pox here shown to exist in both Army and Navy demonstrates the "full security" that revaccination is alleged to give whether as a matter of fact our soldiers and sailors when exposed to the contagion of intense small-pox do suffer to "any appreciable degree"; and lastly whether they show any immunity whatever when compared with similar populations who have been either very partially or not at all revaccinated. It is not easy to find a fairly comparable population but after due consideration it seems to me that Ireland will be the best available, as the statistics are given in the Commissioners’ Reports, and it can hardly be contended that it has any special advantages over our soldiers and sailors,—rather the other way. I have therefore given a diagram, XII, in which a dotted line shows the small-pox mortality of the Irish people of the ages 15 to 45 in comparison with the Army and the Navy mortality for the same years. (The figures for this diagram, as regards Ireland, have been calculated from the table at p. 37 of the Final Report, corrected for the ages 15 to 45 by means of Table J. at p. 274 of the Second Report.)

This dotted line shows us that, with the exception of the great epidemic of 1871, when for the bulk of the Irish patients there was neither isolation nor proper treatment, the small-pox mortality of the Irish population of similar ages has been on the average below that of either the Army or the Navy; while if we take the mean mortality of the three for the same period (1864—1894) inclusive, the result is as follows:

Army, mean of the annual small-pox death rate,                         58 per million.
Navy mean of the annual small-pox death rate                            90
Ireland (ages 15—45)mean of the annual small-pox death rate   65.8 *

*These figures (for the Army and Navy) are obtained by averaging the annual death-rates given in the tables referred to, and are therefore not strictly accurate on account of the irregularly varying strength of the forces. But the error is small. In the case of the Navy, from 1864 to 1888 the mortality accurately calculated comes out more, by nearly six per cent. than the mean above given, and in the case of the Army for the same years about one per cent, more. For Ireland the calculation has been accurately made by means of the yearly populations given at p. 87 of the Final Report, but for the Army and Navy materials for the whole period included in the diagrams materials are not available in. any of the Reports.

If we combine the Army and Navy death-rates in the proportion of their mean strength so as to get the true average of the two forces, the death-rate is 64.3 per million, or almost exactly the same as that of Ireland.

Now if there were no other evidence which gave similar results, this great test case of large populations compared over a long series of years, is alone almost conclusive; and we ask with amazement,—Why did not the Commissioners make some such comparison as this, and not allow the public to be deceived by the grossly misleading statements of the medical witnesses and official apologists for a huge imposture? For here we have on one side a population which the official witnesses declare to be as well vaccinated and revaccinated as it is possible to make it, and which has all the protection that can be given by vaccination. It is a population which, we are officially assured, can live in the midst of the contagion of severe small-pox and not suffer from the disease "in any appreciable degree." And on comparing this population of over 200,000 men, thus thoroughly protected and medically cared for, with the poorest and least cared for portion of our country—a portion which the official witness  regarding it declared to be badly vaccinated, while no amount of revaccination was even referred to—we find the less vaccinated and less cared for community to have actually a much lower small-pox mortality than the Navy, and the same as that of the two forces combined. The only possible objections that can be taken, or that were suggested during the examination of the witnesses are, that during the early portion of the period, the Navy was not wholly and absolutely revaccinated; and secondly, that troops abroad, and especially in India and Egypt, are more frequently subjected to infection. As to the first objection, even if revaccination were not absolutely universal in. the Navy prior to 1873, it was certainly very largely practised, and should have produced a great difference when compared with Ireland. And the second objection is simply childish. For what are vaccination and revaccination for, except to protect from infection?  And under exposure to the most intense infection they have been officially declared "not appreciably to suffer"!

But let us make one more comparison comprising the period since the great epidemic of 1871—2, during which the Navy as well as the Army are admitted to have been completely revaccinated, both English and foreign. We will compare this (supposed) completely protected force with Leicester, an English manufacturing town of nearly the same population, by no means especially healthy, and which has so neglected vaccination that it may now claim to be the least vaccinated town in the kingdom. The average annual small-pox death-rate of this town for the twenty-two years 1873—94 inclusive is thirteen per million (see 4th Report, p. 440); but in order to compare with our Army and Navy we must add one-ninth for the mortality at ages 15-45 as compared with total mortality, according to the table at p. 155 of the Final Report, bringing it to 144 per million, when the comparison will stand as follows:

  Per Million.
Army (1878-94)small-pox death rate 37 *
Navy (1878-94)small-pox death rate 36.8
Leicester ages (1878-94) small-pox death rate ages 15—45 14.4

*The figures for the Army are obtained from the Second Report, p. 278, down to 1888, the remaining six years being obtained from the Final Report, pp. 86, 87; but this small addition has involved a large amount of calculation, because the Commissioners have given the death-rates ,,per 10,000 strength of four separate forces—Home, Colonial, Indian, and Egyptian, and have not given the figures for the whole Army, so as to complete the table in. the Second Report. The figures for the Navy are obtained’ from the Final Report, p.88.

It is thus completely demonstrated that all the statements by which the public has been gulled for so many years, as to the almost complete immunity of the revaccinated Army and Navy, are absolutely false. It is all what Americans call "bluff." There is no immunity. They have no protection. When exposed to infection, they do suffer just as much as other populations, or even more. In the whole of the nineteen years 1878-1896 inclusive, unvaccinated Leicester had so few small-pox deaths that the Registrar-General represents the average by the decimal 0.01 per thousand population, equal to ten per million, while for the twelve years 1878-1889 there was less than one death per annum! Here we have real immunity, real protection; and it is obtained by attending to sanitation and isolation, coupled with the almost total neglect of vaccination. Neither Army nor Navy can show any such results as this. In the whole twenty-nine years tabulated in. the Second Report the Army had not one year without a small-pox death, while the Navy never had more than three consecutive years without a death, and only .,six years in the whole period.

Now if ever there exists such a thing as a crucial test, this of the Army and Navy, as compared with Ireland, and especially with Leicester, affords such a test. The populations concerned are hundreds of thousands; the time extends to a generation; the statistical facts are clear and indisputable while the case of the Army has been falsely alleged again and to afford indisputable proof of the value of vaccination when performed on adults. It is important, therefore to see how the Commissioners deal with these conclusive test-cases. They were appointed to discover the truth and to enlighten the public and legislature, not merely to bring together huge masses of undigested facts.

What they do is, to make no comparison whatever with any other fairly comparable populations, to show no perception of the crucial test they have to deal with, but to give the Army and Navy statistics separately, and as regards the Army piecemeal, and to make a few incredibly weak and unenlightening remarks. Thus, in par. 333, they say that, during the later years, as the whole force became more completely revaccinated, small-pox mortality declined. But they knew well that during the same period it declined over all England, Scotland, and Ireland, with no special revaccination, and most of all in unvaccinated Leicester! Then with regard to the heavy small-pox mortality of the wholly revaccinated and protected troops in Egypt, they say, "We are not aware what is the explanation of this." And this is absolutely all they say about it! But they give a long paragraph to the Post Office officials, and make a great deal of their alleged immunity. But in this case the numbers are smaller, the periods are less, and no statistics whatever are furnished except for the last four years! All the rest is an extract from a parliamentary speech by Sir Charles Dilke in 1883, stating some facts, furnished of course by the medical officers of the Post Office, and therefore not to be accepted as evidence [Neither Sir C. Dilke nor the Post Office medical officers of the period referred to gave evidence before the Commission, and it shows to what lengths the Commissioners would go to support vaccination when such unverified verbal statements are accepted in their Final Report]. This slurring over the damning evidence of the absolute inutility of the most thorough vaccination possible, afforded by the Army and Navy, is sufficient of itself to condemn the whole Final Report of the majority of the Commissioners. It proves that they were either unable or unwilling to analyse carefully the vast mass of evidence brought before them, to separate mere beliefs and opinions from facts, and to discriminate between the statistics which represented those great "masses of national experience" to which Sir John Simon himself has appealed for a final verdict, and those of a more partial kind, which may be vitiated by the prepossessions of those who registered the facts. That they have not done this, but without any careful examination or comparison have declared that revaccinated communities have "exceptional advantages" which, as a matter of fact, the Report itself show they have not, utterly discredits all their conclusions, and renders this Final Report not only valueless but misleading.

[Index] [Chapter 5]