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Small-pox among the natives

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: Apr 1789 to May 1789
Location: The colony of New South Walesmap
Profile manager: Simon Ross private message [send private message]
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April (1789)

"Early in the month, and throughout its continuance, the people whose business called them down the harbour daily reported, that they found, either in excavations of the rock, or lying upon the beaches and points of the different coves which they had been in, the bodies of many of the wretched natives of this country. The cause of this mortality remained unknown until a family was brought up, and the disorder pronounced to have been the small-pox. It was not a desirable circumstance to introduce a disorder into the colony which was raging with such fatal violence among the natives of the country; but the saving the lives of any of these people was an object of no small importance, as the knowledge of our humanity, and the benefits which we might render them, would, it was hoped, do away the evil impressions they had received of us."

"Two elderly men, a boy, and a girl were brought up and placed in a separate hut at the hospital. The men were too far overcome by the disease to get the better of it; but the children did well from the moment of their coming among us. From the native who resided with us we understood that many families had been swept off by this scourge, and that others, to avoid it, had fled into the interior parts of the country. Whether it had ever appeared among them before could not be discovered, either from him or from the children; but it was certain that they gave it a name (gal-gal-la); a circumstance, which seemed to indicate a pre-acquaintance with it."

May (1789)

"Of the native boy and girl who had been brought up in the last month, on their recovery from the small-pox, the latter was taken to live with the clergyman’s wife, and the boy with Mr. White, the surgeon, to whom, for his attention during the cure, he seemed to be much attached."

"While the eruptions of this disorder continued upon the children, a seaman belonging to the Supply, a native of North America, having been to see them, was seized with it, and soon after died; but its baneful effects were not experienced by any white person of the settlement, although there were several very young children in it at the time."

"From the first hour of the introduction of the boy and girl into the settlement, it was feared that the native who had been so instrumental in bringing them in, and whose attention to them during their illness excited the admiration of every one that witnessed it, would be attacked by the same disorder; as on his person were found none of those traces of its ravages which are frequently left behind. It happened as the fears of every one predicted; he fell a victim to the disease in eight days after he was seized with it, to the great regret of every one who had witnessed how little of the savage was found in his manner, and how quickly he was substituting in its place a docile, affable, and truly amiable deportment."[1]

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