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   Chapter 77 February 29th.

Two Years in the French West Indies By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 2125

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


... The whites remain exempt from the malady.

One might therefore hastily suppose that liability of contagion would be diminished in proportion to the excess of white blood over African; but such is far from being the case;-St. Pierre is losing its handsomest octoroons. Where the proportion of white to black blood is 116 to 8, as in the type called mamelouc;-or 122 to 4, as in the quarteronné (not to be confounded with the quarteron or quadroon);-or even 127 to 1, as in the sang-mêlé, the liability to attack remains the same, while the chances of recovery are considerably less than in the case of the black. Some few striking instances of immunity appear to offer a different basis for argument; but these might be due to the social position of the individual rather than to any constitutional temper: wealth and comfort, it must be remembered, have no small prophylactic value in such times. Still,-although there is reason to doubt whether mixed races have a constitutional vigor comparable to that of the original parent-races,-the liability to dise

ases of this class is decided less, perhaps, by race characteristics than by ancestral experience. The white peoples of the world have been practically inoculated, vaccinated, by experience of centuries;-while among these visibly mixed or black populations the seeds of the pest find absolutely fresh soil in which to germinate, and its ravages are therefore scarcely less terrible than those it made among the American-Indian or the Polynesian races in other times. Moreover, there is an unfortunate prejudice against vaccination here. People even now declare that those vaccinated die just as speedily of the plague as those who have never been;-and they can cite cases in proof. It is useless to talk to them about averages of immunity, percentage of liability, etc.;-they have seen with their own eyes persons who had been well vaccinated die of the verette, and that is enough to destroy their faith in the system.... Even the priests, who pray their congregations to adopt the only known safeguard against the disease, can do little against this scepticism.

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