Having told M'Coy about Molly's imminent concert tour in Belfast, a trigger for considerable anxiety about her infidelity, Bloom then proceeds to worry also about her health: "Thought that Belfast would fetch him. I hope that smallpox up there doesn't get worse. Suppose she wouldn't let herself be vaccinated again." Belfast did have an outbreak of smallpox in May 1904, and it lasted through the month of June. Bloom is right to be concerned. He may be remembering an even worse outbreak in Dublin that had ended only the previous autumn, conquered by a program of compulsory vaccination in which many people were re-vaccinated.

John Hunt 2022

Oil on canvas painting by Edwin Board showing Dr. Edward Jenner inoculating 8-year-old James Phipps with cowpox (the first such vaccination) on 14 May 1796. Source:

A ward in the Hampstead Smallpox Hospital in Hampstead, London ca. 1820. Source:

A smallpox victim. Source:

Parisians being inoculated with cowpox (from cow at right) in an illustration from the 23 April 1870 Harper's Weekly. Source:

1807 English cartoon by an unknown artist showing health authorities feeding children to a cow-like monster. Source: