More from Dr. Dwight Baldwin on the state of leprosy in Hawaii, 1865.

After reading the previous article in the Kuokoa signed D. Baldwin, read this statement from the same man dated just seven days after the article appeared, which is quoted on pp. 16–17 of “LEPROSY IN HAWAII: A Supplement to the Report of the President of the Board of Health,” 1886. Also, I just noticed that the original English of the Kuokoa article is shown, along with the places where portions were edited out (marked by asterisks) on pp. 15–16.

From Dr. D. Baldwin, Lahaina, April 20th, 1865.

“We have a foul and dangerous disease among us, and must, therefore, not quiet the fears of the public beyond what the truth will bear. The native population are not too much alarmed. In this region the healthy are often seen mingling with the leprous, which thing ought not so to be. In some of the extracts (of my letter in the Kuokoa) which you made, I have expressed myself strongly in favor of the curability of our Hawaiian leprosy, because I wished to turn the attention of natives from their ignorant and dangerous practitioners to foreign physicians. By extracting the paragraphs which utter this opinion, and omitting others, you make me seem to speak more confidently of future success in curing this disease than I intended to do; and therefore, I wish to add a few remarks by way of explanation; and,

“1. * * * The cases I was able to report are sufficient, I think, to encourage us to persevere in efforts to cure the frightful malady, and to banish it from the land. They should lead natives to look to those for help who alone can be supposed to have any means of combating so fearful a disease. They may be permanent cures, or the disease may break out more unmanageable than ever. Similar cures reported in other countries should encourage us.

“2. While I write thus hopefully, I am aware that men of the highest medical talent have studied the disease of leprosy, and they have sought for remedies, and many of them have pronounced it utterly incurable. It is certainly not a little staggering to our hopes in this matter, that while eminent physicians have bestowed so much attention, for many hundred years, and while the very remedies I have now been using have been used for ages in Asia and elsewhere, still there is a widespread belief that leprosy is an incurable disease. But there are authorities on the other side. An English medical dictionary has the finest descrip- I have ever met with of leprosy of the middle ages, which spread over Europe. The author says, recent cases may be cured. An eminent French physician says he has seen a multitude of cases of this disease treated without a single failure to cure. There is no way of accounting for such opposite opinions of great men, only by supposing that they are speaking of different species of the disease. * * * *

“As your China correspondent well observes (Feb. 25), we have now only a mild form of leprosy. But, it will, doubtless, in time assume more terrible features. Indeed, we have already had, in this place, some horrible cases. The disease has been considered in all countries, contagious. It has been so in Lahaina, though it does not appear in a new subject till a long time after exposure to its infection; and we have the proof of it in several families. We are beginning to have a crop of leprous young children.”

[It is important to read the information read by Hawaiians in the Hawaiian-Language Newspapers, but it is also important to read the English documents for a wider perspective on what happened historically.]

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