IT is a little difficult to keep one's patience with the Government's attitude towards compulsory inocula- tion. It is a capital example of " Letting ' I daro not' wait upon ' I would,' like the poor cat i' the adage." "The cat would eat fish, and would not wet her feet." The Government would like to knock enteric out altogether from the list of serious Army diseases. They know that they can do so and ought to do so, but they have not done so as yet because they do not want to wet their feet politically—i.e., antagonize the faddists of their party. In reality the Government have hardly anything to be afraid of —something even lees than the pin-prick of the inoculation needle, which, for some inscrutable reason, is so much dreaded by a large portion of the male population of these islands. The faddists are not in the ascendant during the war. While the Opposition are very properly determined to support the Government in this matter, any threat to turn the Government out because they have not toed the anti-inoculation line is perfectly ridiculous. We do not suppose that on a resolution censuring the Gorernmeny for making enterio inoculation compulsory in the Army the faddists could put together a dozen votes.
The dread that there would be ill-feeling amongst the soldiers already with the colours, or that there would be any serious interference with recruiting, is equally fallacious. The moment the ordinary soldier knew that inoculation against Ontario was compulsory he would not dream of resisting it or resenting it, any more than be would dream of resisting or resenting an order to occupy a particular trench. The men who refuse to be inoculated refuse, not from any serious disbelief in the advantages of inoculation or dread of its consequences, but out of what we may term a mixture of shyness, ignorance, and childish terror. Strange as it sounds, it is undoubtedly true that lads who are perfectly willing to take knowingly all the risks of bullet and shrapnel, and will, if necessary, go to their graves like beds, are frightened, just as a blood horse is frightened at a scrap of paper in the road, by the thought of the terrible doctor approaching their bare backs or arms with that awful little needle which is to be shoved into the living flesh, etc., Ito., Ao. I The real impediment in the ranks to inoculation is this dread of the needle and nothing else.
The soldiers feel about the matter just as the majority of.
thoughtless boys and girls feel about a visit to the dentist.. Nothing will induce them to sit down in the chair of torture except absolute and unavoidable parental compulsion, or else
the compulsion of superior pain. They will go to the dentist if the toothache is worse than anything they have dreamt of
in the way of dentist's pain, but if that condition does not
exist they are not going, as they would say, to look for trouble. To tell them that if they do not visit the-
dentist they may have excruciating agony six months hence has no effect upon them whatever. In addition to his shying all across the road at the immediate peril of the pin-prick, the soldier is very apt to argue that the whole thing is obviously an officer's or doctor's fad. If not, and if the Government really believed that titers was anything in it, they would not make it optional, but would force all men to be inoculated. The general attitude of the Army towards optional duties, it should never be forgotten, is not to do them. There are plenty of com- pulsory things in a soldier's life already, they argue ; why then add to them ? In a word, the philosophic Tommy's comment is : •• It will be plenty of time to be inoculated when the Government say • You must' instead of • You may.'" The moment, however, that enteric inoculation becomes compulsory in the Army all the mulish refusal to seek protection aoainst the disease now shown by a section of soldiers will disappear. We shall base no more trouble then than we have with our soldiers about keeping their feet free from blisters and sore heels, for that is a matter of compulsion.
In case there should be any people foolish enough to wonder whether the State has a moral right to compel those who are serving it in arms to protect themselves against disease, we would ask them to consider the matter from this point of view. They will admit, we presume, that an officer has a right to give a peremptory order to his men not to expose themselves unnecessarily to fire by failing to take cover, or to keep their beads down in the trenches when not actually shooting. To such an order no man has a right to reply that he is not afraid, and that nobody will hit him, and so forth. His life is valuable to the nation, if not to himself, and therefore he is not expected to throw it away wantonly. In the same way the State has a perfect right to order those in its military service to take precautions against enteric fever, and to insist that they are taken. An order to take cover against bacilli must be obeyed as cheerfully as an order to take cover against bullets. But it will be urged, perhaps, that a great many people hold the opinion that inocu- lation is not an effective or legitimate form of cover against bacilli Inoculated people sometimes catch the disease. The answer to that, as the facts show, is that, on the whole, the protection given by inoculation is very much higher than the protection given by a trench. One soldiers in the field would be only too delighted if there were any form of trench which would give such a high percentage of protection as that afforded by inoculation. Not only does inoculation save some ninety per cent. of men who would otherwise in all probability be hit from being hit at all, bat those who are hit after inoculation are practically never killed. Not one man who was properly inoculated has died of typhoid. One man, it is true, has died who had had one of the two inoculations which are generally necessary unto hygienic salvation, but he, of course, scientifically counts as a non-inoculated man. It is notorious that the first inoculation does not give protection. If any form of shelter as effectual as that could be provided against the danger of the bullet and the shell, war would he a very different thing from what it is.
Before the present writer leaves the subject of inoculation be would like to point out that it behaves civilians as well as soldiers who come within reach of the typhoid microbe to set a good example in the matter of inoculation. No man ought to preach compulsory inoculation who is not willing to practise what he preaches should be be in any danger of infection. [In ease there may be any personal recrimination on the point, the present writer may mention that he was himself inocu- lated last Sunday, and found, of course, like others before him, that the pin-prick was infinitely less painful than the first whirr of a dentist's drill, and that the subsequent malaise was at the worst no more inconvenient than a feverish cold, and instead of lasting a fortnight only lasted two days. He was not so foolish, of course, as to try to set an example in the abstract, but dared the awful horrors of the needle because his house is full of enteric soldier convalescents who may possibly be, nay, probably are, "carriers.") It behoves all persons who run any risks of this kind, even though they are small, to take the proper cover. If that is done, there is not the slightest fear of an outbreak of enteric in England. If it is not done, the "coteries" who return from the front may conceivably cause serious trouble here. In the effort to stampout a disease of this kind no precautions ought to be neglected. The trumpery inconvenience of seeking protection ought not to weigh for a moment with any of those who are in the least exposed to infection. We do not, of course, suggest that every man, woman, and child in the country should be inoculated. That would indeed be overdoing things. All we want is that the resources of medical science should not be neglected by any one exposed to infection.