Most of the attempts to inoculate human beings with scarlet fever have been made, not for the purposes of studying the nature and mode of infection in this disease, but in the hope that a mild attack might result that would protect against further attacks. It was the success of inoculation of smallpox as a protective measure that led to the hope of like success from the inoculation of scarlet fever. Thus, Erasmus Darwin,1 the grandfather of Charles Darwin, wrote:
No one could do an act more beneficial to society, or glorious to himself, than by teaching humanity how to inoculate this fatal disease [scarlet fever]; and thus to deprive it of its malignity. Matter might be taken from the ulcers in the throat, which would probably convey the contagion. Or warm water might be put on the eruption, and scraped off again by the edge of a lancet.