‘There is no Disease that can be less guarded against, than the Small Pox.’
This quotation from Worth’s copy of Jean Claude Adrien Helvétius’ An essay on the animal oeconomy. Together with observations upon the small pox (London, 1723), sums up the impact of smallpox on early eighteenth-century populations. Sir Richard Blackmore (1654–1729), the author of another work on the subject collected by Worth, succinctly defines the disease in conjunction with one of its chief symptoms, fever: ‘The Small-Pox is an Inflammatory Fever, accompanied by an Eruption or breaking out of small red Spots, like Flea-bites, that by degrees encrease, and ripening like little Boils, grow full of Matter, and at length, but not in less than in ten Days, after the first Assault, compleat their Course.’ The occurrence of its most characteristic symptom, these disfiguring pustules, suggested that there two main classes or types, distinguished by Helvetius as ‘distinct’ and ‘confluent’, depending on the pattern of the pustules.
Giovanni Battista Sitoni, Miscellanea medico-curiosa(Cologne, 1677), engraved title plate.
Books specifically on Smallpox in the Edward Worth Library:
Anon, (1722), A collection of pamphlets: containing the way and manner of inoculating the small-pox both in Britain and New-England. To which is added, a letter by Dr. D. Cumyng (Dublin). 8o.
Blackmore, Richard, Sir, (1723) A treatise upon the small-pox, in two parts. Containing, I. An account of the nature and several kinds of that disease, with the proper methods of cure. II. A dissertation upon the modern practice of inoculation (London). 8o.
Freind, John, (1723) Johannis Freind ad celeberrimum virum Ricardum Mead, M. D. de Quibusdam Variolarum generibus epistola (London, 1723). 4o.
Helvétius, Jean Claude Adrien (1723) An essay on the animal oeconomy. Together with observations upon the small pox (London). 8o.
Woodward, John, (1718) The state of physick: and of diseases; with an inquiry into the causes of the late increase of them: but more particularly of the small-pox. … To which is premised, an idea of the nature and mechanism of man … By John Woodward (London).8o
Elluchasem Elimithar Tacuini Sanitatis (Strasbourg, 1531), p. 117.