Homoeopathy a Century Ago. — Letter from Dr. I. P. Chase, Henniker, N.H. I herewith send you a couple of leaves from the London Magazine, for Sept., 1764. I think the article embraced in them worthy of a reprint in the Gentlemen's HOMOEOPATHIC REVIEW, from the fact that the proving of Colchicum by the celebrated STORCK, who by the way introduced some of our most valuable remedies to the profession, is concise and valuable, although differing essentially from the cases reported by Dr. P. P. Wells in the December number of your periodical. It is remarkable that Dr. Storck should be induced to use the drug in cases precisely similar to its toxicological effects upon himself, unless he had already grasped the great principle of Homoeopathy, afterward promulgated by Hahnemann. I hope you will print the article entire, although, perhaps, some portions of it may not exactly accord with our notions of pure Homoeopathy.
This plant is the Colchicum Linnai foliis planis, lanceolatis, erectis; it grows chiefly in very moist grounds, puts forth three or four leaves, resembling those of the lily, in spring, and flowers in autumn; the flower is of a purplish color, and a tubular form, supported by a very small, white, transparent stalk. It has two roots, both of which are bulbous and fleshy, but one is within the other; the outer one is barren and shrivelled, the other sends forth fibres, produces the plant, and is wrapt up in a membranous covering; the taste is extremely acrid when it is green, but mealy and faint when it is dry. It has been justly ranked among poisons; its quality, as well as taste, is acrid in the highest degree, and very deleterious, but is powerfully corrected by vinegar. Dr. Storck made his first experiments with this plant upon himself. A single grain of it in full sap, produced, in little more than a quarter of an hour, a great heat in his stomach, then flushings of heat in his head, and shiverings along his back bone; in an hour he felt slight flushings of heat in his belly, which at last turned to colic pains; in two hours he was seized with a perpetual inclination to make water, with great irritation in his loins, and the urinary passages. He made a small quantity of high-colored water with great difficulty; a most painful tenesmus succeeded, and a discharge of feces in a small quantity, succeeded by a copious evacuation of a transparent mucus, and soon after a great tension in the pit of the stomach, a violent head-ache, and a hiccup came on; the pulse, at the same time, was in great agitation, with an intolerable thirst, and total loss of appetite. These threatening symptoms, which greatly alarmed him, were alleviated by a mixture of four ounces of lemon-juice, two ounces of syrup of diacodium, and one drachm of dulcified nitre, mixed in two quarts of spring water, of which he took three ounces every quarter of an hour, taking also every two hours a cup of barley-water. The irritation in the urinary passages, however, still remained, and he made some high-colored water every moment with great difficulty, so that he had no rest all night; this symptom continued the next day, but upon taking a strong decoction of marsh mallows, he made water freely; this water was at first reddish, then dark-colored, then greenish, with an acid smell, and, at last, pale and watery. On the fourth day, and not before, he was well.
Two drachms of this root killed a dog, with the most excruciating torment, in about 13 hours; during which time he vomited 36 times, and had 40 evacuations by stool and urine. It is also extremely remarkable, that a short time before he expired, all these evacuations stopped, and a profuse, viscid, fetid sweat broke out all over his body. It appears, therefore, that a dog has organs by which sweat may be secreted, and pores to give it vent, though according to the common economy of his nature, he never perspires.
These experiments having sufficiently ascertained the effect of the meadow saffron, on the organs for secreting and evacuating the urine, and some others having proved that its deleterious quality might be corrected by acids, he prepared the following medicated vinegar, by which he hoped such diseases as arise from a defect in the urinary secretions, or which require them to be increased, might be alleviated or cured:
Take of the fresh root of meadow saffron, full of sap, one ounce; shred it into small slips, and put it into a pint of white-wine vinegar; let them digest in a glass vessel 48 hours, over a slow fire, often shaking the glass; and then strain off the liquor for use.
This vinegar, however, he found it necessary to reduce to an oximel, by mixing it with twice its weight of honey, and boiling the mixture over a gentle fire, often stirring it with a wooden spoon till it acquired the consistence of honey.
With this oximel the doctor proceeded to make experiments upon himself as usual. Having taken a tea-spoonful of it in a cup of tea, it produced no uneasy sensation, but in about two hours he had a most pressing call to make water, and discharged freely, and without pain, a large quantity of pale urine, almost without smell; this happened thrice in about four hours, and then the symptom went off. He repeated this experiment for several days successively, and always with the same effect; he therefore concluded that this oximel, given in small doses, produces no ill effect, nor in any degree disturbs the bodily functions; that it has a powerful diuretic quality; that it might be tried with a rational hope of advantage in every distemper in which the serum stagnates or superabounds, or which requires the morbific matter to be carried off by urine; and that, consequently, there was great probability of its being beneficial in a dropsy.
Female Education.-Letter from M. B. Jackson, M. D., Boston.-I have read with much interest Dr. Dake's article “On Medical Education” in The American Homoeopathic Review, and agree with him in believing that great good would result from the establishment of preparatory schools for persons intending to pursue the study of medicine.
By means of these schools, pupils would be so far instructed that they would be able to make the most of the lectures given by Professors during the lecture season, and instead of being obliged to refer to dictionaries to learn the meaning of medical terms used, they would understand the lecture and analyze it, and treasure what was good and true, and reject what was not so, making the valuable instruction their own and having it ready for future use. Five lectures daily cannot be examined and digested, except by one familiar with the terms used and the subjects treated of. My object in writing was not to add anything to the article of Dr Dake's, but to say what that article brought so forcibly to my mind, viz: — The duty of Homoeopathists, who are urging more thorough training for the medical student, to be consistent and progressive in all directions and to throw open their Medical Colleges to women, who are struggling for the acquisition of medical knowledge, and who will enter the profession, either poorly prepared, on account of being excluded from the only medical schools that can teach them Homoeopathy, or largely and wisely instructed by having access to them.
I feel that I have earned a right to speak on this subject, by being obliged to attend medical lectures and graduate at an allopathic college, after having served the cause of Homoeopathy sixteen years, by a large practice in Plymouth, Mass., and vicinity.
Several years ago, when Dr. W. was connected with the Philadelphia Homoeopathic College, I wrote to him in reference to this subject and desired to know whether the followers of Hahnemann, who instructed his own wife and associated with her in practice, would follow his example and open their colleges to women, and welcome them to the same privileges that they enjoyed, in preparing for the practice of medicine. I sent the letter by a friend, and the Doctor told him he would lay the subject before the faculty of the college, and inform me of the result. That is the last I have heard from it, although fire years, I think, have passed since the letter was written.
It is mortifying to me to know that those, who have entered into the labors of the great master, have so far departed from his spirit. I should hail the opening of their colleges to women as proof that the spirit of Hahnemann has not departed from his followers, but that it still animates a majority of those who call him master, to emulate his example, and recognize women as co-workers with them in this great reform, for which the intuition, the delicate perception, the nice discrimination, and the ready tact of woman, aided by her warm sympathy with suffering, and her instinctive knowledge of the wants of infancy, so eminently fit her.
I fully believe that the mortality of infancy would be greatly diminished if educated women were their medical advisers. God has appointed woman to the charge of infancy, and given her the needed qualifications to perform it well. The mother's eyes, and ears, and heart, are open to the signs of infant suffering, to a degree that man's can never attain. Custom alone makes it seem less absurd to call men to prescribe for infants, than to make child-nurses of them to the exclusion of women.
May I not hope that the College, recently chartered in New York City, will take a long step in advance of the other Colleges in the middle States, and by opening the doors to woman, secure in the end an enviable history for enlightened liberality and wise sympathy with her; and, during the course of instruction, the elevating and refining influence of her presence on the young men who listen to the lectures, will amply repay them for the sneers that coarse, ignorant and vulgar natures will throw upon her admission.
Trusting that this appeal will touch the hearts of the philantropic, magnanimous, and highly educated members of the new school of medicine, and stimulate them to remove the obstacles to women's becoming learned and useful members of a profession only second in importance and beneficence to the christian ministry; and hoping that they, who stand in the front ranks of reform in medicine, will not remain behind their old school brethren, in the spirit of the age, in opening their doors to women and welcoming them to the studies, the labors, and the rewards of the wise and faithful physician.
R. S. Bryan, M.D. — Doctor Bryan was born in Patterson, Putnam County, N.Y., in 1796. His father was a practicing physician of considerable influence Under his care, and with favorable opportunities for observing the rules of medicine and symptoms of disease, Richard, at a very early period of life became familiar with the profession in which he afterwards engaged, and for which he manifested a decided predilection.
After pursuing his studies in the office of an eminent physician of New York, and while attending a course of medical lectures in that city, he contracted measles, which was succeeded by the usual sequel — Bronchitis. This, with his common asthmatical habit, so much impaired his general health as to render a warmer climate necessary. He accordingly went to South America, and spent eighteen months in Pernambuco, when, after nearly regaining his health, he returned to New York, and having finished his studies and graduated, commenced the practice of medicine.
Having pursued his profession with success for about four years, he again found it necessary to take a sea voyage on account of ill health, and accordingly sailed to Lisbon, in Portugal, where he spent a year, improving both his mind, in a knowledge of his profession, and body in health and strength. He returned to America and resumed his profession at Norwalk, Conn., which was then the residence of his father.
After spending a few years in this place, he removed again to New York and entered into partnership with Dr. Marvin, where he continued until 1833, when from ill health he was induced to try a country practice, and accordingly removed to Lansingburgh, where he resided two years, and then came to Troy where he soon built up a good practice, which he retained as long as he lived. In 1840, the writer became more particularly acquainted with Dr. Bryan, by forming a partnership with him in business, which continued about five years, and a friendship and intimacy which continued uninterruptedly until his death. In 1841, his attention was first seriously called to the subject of Homoeopathy by reading some interesting articles in the homoeopathic Examiner published in New York, and edited by A. Gerald Hull. An article particularly “On Diet,' which Dr. Bryan said “contained plain, practical, common sense,” with many others on the treatment of particular diseases, which he carefully read, not for the purpose of criticising, or finding fault, as was then, and is now, too common, but for the honest purpose of sifting out and applying to use whatever might be of service to his patients.
About this time he obtained Hahnemann's Organon, and the two volumes of Hulls Jahr, which, to my knowledge, were more read in the office for the next year than all other medical books. He also obtained a supply of the principal remedies, and although nothing was said publicly on the subject, yet no time was lost in testing their efficacy.
In the summer following, Scarlatina prevailed as an epidemic in the city, which gave him abundant opportunity to compare the homoeopathic with the various other methods of treating this disease, and his success, compared with others, served to confirm him in the opinion, which he then first publicly ex pressed, of the superiority of that treatment, in that disease, over any other known, he having lost but two patients in a large practice through the whole epidemic, while some others, with no more business, had lost three or four times the number.
In the spring of 1842, we had many cases of Influenza with Pneumonia and Pleurisy, among those who were exposed to the sudden changes of that season, all of which, falling under his care, were treated homoeopathically, and with such decided success as to excite considerable interest in the public mind, especially in those engaged in the opposite practice.
In the following summer, Cholera Morbus and Dysentery were so much more easily controlled by his present than by his former prescriptions, that he became more convinced of the truth of the doctrine Similia Similibus, and consequently more eager to disseminate a knowledge of it among his friends and patrons.
About this time, in consequence of article appearing in the Troy Daily Whig, which bore hard on “infinitesimal doses,” in puerperal convulsions, a newspaper controversy sprung up in the city, which was continued through the winter, and characterized by considerable bitterness, especially on one side, in which Dr. Bryan took a lively interest; and in which he showed greater anxiety to disseminate a knowledge of the principles of Homoeopathy, than to contradict or irritate his opponent, using neither sarcasm or ridicule, but simple facts and plain reason as the foundation of the principles which he advocated.
As might be expected in this early age of Homoeopathy, considering the jealousy and distrust, with which every new improvement in the science of medicine is regarded by those engaged in the healing art, the Doctor's practice and even his motives were sometimes severely criticised. It was contended that the practice could not possibly succeed in curing disease, as the effect we claim to have seen produced by the action of remedies, was altogether disproportionate to the means used, thereby destroying the prevailing opinion of the exact proportion between the cause and effect. But when suffering under the censure or ridicule of the members of the profession, of those even who never possessed one tithe of his knowledge of the subject, when his word was doubted, and he was told that his course betrayed either dishonesty or ignorance, his reply was always civil and gentlemanly, and generally of a kind which carried conviction to all, of the superiority of his medical knowledge, as well as good breeding.
In his intercourse with his medical brethren, he was kind and respectful, always willing to communicate but never assuming or officious; and as a counseling physician he had no superior; his quick and correct diagnosis, minute recollection of the pathogenesis of remedies, with his kind and rather diffident manner of giving his opinion, always rendered him acceptable and profitable as a counselor and friend.' But his peculiar qualification as a physician showed to the best advantage in his ordinary and every day practice. The aged, middle aged and young sought his presence in their affliction, sure of finding in him not only the scientific and faithful physician, but the pleasant, genial and sympathizing friend, whose presence often did as much in cheering and supporting them while laboring under the disheartening effect of disease, as could be expected from the best selected remedies.
Although never enjoying robust health, his love of his profession, and satisfaction in relieving the sick, led him to attend with faithfulness to the numerous calls on his time and services, and few, if any, of our profession were more ready to visit the sick without regard to time, place, or compensation He was rightly called the “Pioneer of Homoeopathy,” having been one of the first to embrace it, as there were, to my knowledge, but two families in Troy who had tried the use of its remedies when he began to practice it, and, perhaps, there is no physician in the State, living North of the City of New York, who was prior to him in advocating its principles; his unassuming merit was duly appreciated by his associates, as he held the office of President of the State Homoeopathic Society at the time of his death.
The disease of which he died, although characterized by great obscurity, was probably a new development of the pulmonary affection, which had followed him through the most of his life. It commenced with fixed deep-seated pain in the lower part of the left lung, which confined him to his room from the 26th of November to the day of his death, which happened the 5th of March.
At times there were strong hopes of his recovery, followed by the conclusion that a fatal result was certain, as the disease gradually enveloped the glandular structure of the abdominal viscera. On Sunday, March 4th, he had but little pain and rested comfortably at night until four o'clock, Monday morning, when he was seized with excruciating pain in the left side, which threw him into convulsions, in the third of which he died.
Dr. Bryan was a man of strict unswerving integrity of character. A man to be relied upon in all he said. He had long been a consistent member of the P. E. Church, and as such, had led an unimpeachable life; was charitable and humane from nature and habit, and, although never ostentatious, was excelled by but few in those acts and habits of life, which characterize the devoted and humble christian.
A pioneer and consistent supporter of our profession has left us; may we be encouraged by his example. A good man has gone to his reward; may this example find many imitators. RICHARD BLOSS, M.D., Troy, N.Y.
Dr. Stoddard was born in Moreau, Saratoga Co., N.Y., May 9th, 1817. He commenced the practice of Homoeopathy about the year 1848 at Glens Falls at a time when there was considerable opposition to the new practice. His success, however, soon won for him a good practice and many firm friends, and at the time of his death he was doing a large business.
Dr. Wilsey was born in New York, June 23rd, 1797, and was for many years engaged in mercantile pursuits. About the year 1825, we think it was, Dr. H. B. Gram arrived in this country from Sweden, poor and friendless, and being a free-mason became acquainted with Dr. Wilsey, then a master of a lodge, who received him kindly and entertained him at his house.
As our readers are aware, Dr. Gram was the first to introduce Homoeopathy into this country, and Doctor, then Mr. Wilsey, being troubled with dyspepsia was induced to place himself in his friend's care, and thus became the first patient who was treated homoeopathically in his country. The success of the treatment was such that he desired his old-school physician, Dr. John F. Gray, to investigate the new practice, which after a while he did. Not content with merely being cured himself, Mr. Wilsey applied himself assiduously to disseminating the facts of Homoeopathy, and inducing his friends, who required medical treatment, to place themselves under the care of Dr. Gram.
Mr. Wilsey, who had long had a taste for the healing art, soon began to study the homoeopathic system under Dr. Gram's direction. At the same time he attended the lectures of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and was soon qualified to practice, and received the degree of M.D. He, however, practiced his profession only in private, and gratuitously among his friends.
The revulsion of 1837 caused him to relinquish his mercantile pursuits; and being somewhat reduced in his fortune, his friends procured for him a desirable situation in the Custom House, which he accepted, and still continued his private medical practice.
About the year 1846 or 1846, Dr. Wilsey joined a company for mining copper in Cuba, and sailed for that island to superintend the mining operations. The enterprise, however, proved disastrous; Dr. Wilsey's health foiled, and in less than a year he returned to New York and commenced, for the first time, the public practice of medicine. He soon became very successful, and his services were widely sought for. By the rewards of his diligent professional labors he retrieved his early fortunes, and became possessed of very considerable wealth, which he used for many good and benevolent purposes.
Some three or four years ago he underwent a severe and protracted illness, brought on, it is thought, by his excessive professional labors, operating upon a constitution always delicate. Since then, his friends have seen with regret that his health was failing. Often he has been confined to his house and his bed; but as soon as sufficient strength returned, he resumed his activity.
Such is the loss we are called to experience in the death of Dr. Darling; he was highly respected as a man, and greatly beloved as a physician. He possessed a kind and generous disposition, and was a man of great heart and public spirit.
Having graduated at Woodstock, Vt., in the spring of 1844, he commenced the practice of medicine in Lyndon, practising according to the principles of the school in which he was educated for about three years, when the doctrines promulgated by Hahnemann arrested his attention.
With the spirit and devotion of a true student and with a desire to avail himself of everything that would impart relief to suffering humanity, he examined and studied the teachings of Homoeopathy, and as a result became one of its firmest adherents.
The Homoeopathic profession has lost one of its best members, while the sad and numerous gathering that met to pay their last tribute of respect to his remains, gave evidence that many mourned his death. C. W. S.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 02 No. 09, 1860, pages 425-432
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