Paris: Sold by F. Louis... 1818. First edition under this title. The letters collected here first appeared as part of Mary Wortley Montagu’s (1689 – 1762) Turkish Embassy Letters (1763), which also compiled many other letters written by Montagu from 1716 to 1718. The present work collects the letters that would likely be most relevant to young women in school: descriptions the architecture, gender relations, fashion, food, and other cultural aspects of Turkey, plus Montagu’s observations on smallpox. Rubbing to extremities. Marbled edges and endpapers. A very good, clean, and crisp copy of this uncommon collection of correspondence that includes the earliest description of smallpox inoculation by a European. Contemporary blindstamped brown sheep. Gilt spine. Sixteenmo. vii, [1, errata], 208 pp. Item #17111
The present work includes a letter from Montagu in which she describes smallpox inoculation as practiced in the Ottoman Empire. She observed the practice while traveling in Turkey and explains the concept in a letter addressed to a “Mrs. S.C.” Montagu writes, “The small-pox, so fatal, and so general amongst us, is here entirely harmless, by the invention of ingrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of old women, who make it their business to perform the operation, every autumn…” (p. 111). Montagu describes how these women would cut the skin, introduce a mild strain of live smallpox to the cut, and bandage it. Montagu’s account introduced the concept of smallpox inoculation to Europe in the 1720s and inspired Edward Jenner’s technique of vaccination with cowpox (rather than the more dangerous live smallpox virus) in 1798.
OCLC records six copies in North America: four in Ohio and one each at West Virginia University at Parkersburg and Brigham Young.