A Letter to Sir Benjamin Brodie, Bart., P. R. S., in Reply to his Letter in “Frazer's Magazine” for September, 1861. By William Sharp, M. D., F. R. S. Second Edition. London, H. Turner and Co., 1861, 8vo., pp. 160.
Early in the summer, myriads of these extraordinary insects were seen emerging from the ground in orchards, woods and gardens. They took possession of trees, shrubs and vines until every twig was covered with their bodies. The sharp metallic noise which they made without cessation, day and night, was almost deafening. The less experienced farmers and gardeners and those who are easily disheartened, apprehended a total destruction of vegetation, and called to mind the plague of the locusts which fell upon the Egyptians. Those whose memory could run back seventeen years took courage and believed that the damage would not of necessity be in the ratio of the noise. As autumn came on, there began to drop from the trees by scores and by hundreds what proved to be the empty shells of the locusts; and so the plague passed away. The trees and shrubs showed a dead and brown tip on the extremity of every branch and twig, but otherwise their thriftiness was in no way impaired. On the contrary the ensuing summer witnessed a vigor and productiveness in the vegetable kingdom, which had been unparalleled for years in this section of the country.
Not very unlike these visitations of the locusts, save that they lack that regularity and that beneficence of purpose which denote a Divine hand and mind presiding over and directing them, are the periodical pestilences of Letters, Essays and Expositions to which homoeopathic practitioners, every few years, are subjected at the hands of their brethren of the Old School. After a period of freedom from polemics, of quiet enjoyment of the right to think, study and practice as may best please one self and one's patients, we see emerge, one after another, from places of retirement where we had never supposed they existed, a letter from Brodie, a book by Simpson, a lecture or two by Holmes, a recantation and denunciation by Fergusson, with edicts by Royal Medical Councils, vetoes by Medical Colleges, manifestoes by Academies of Medicine, essays in ponderous Quarterlies and squibs and crackers in the daily journals, until every twig of every tree in the medical groves and orchards is loaded down with these unexpected visitors and we are at once deafened by their clatter and threatened with starvation from their apparent voracity. The younger members of our school look and listen with sad misgivings of heart, as though present destruction awaited them. The elders not without astonishment, perhaps, nevertheless pursue their avocations with unshaken confidence for they have seen such things before. The Brodie of 1861 reminds them of the Brodie of 1856 and of 1842, and they perceive that he shows the same wings and legs and makes the same noises as then, “nothing forgotten and nothing learned,” and they remember that no harm came of his former chatterings and that his devastations were of no account; he was almost “vox et praeterea nihil.” And surely enough; the event is as the elders predict. After a summer made unpleasant to rational mortals by this deafening, monotonous chirping, but spent by them, no doubt, in much cicadal jollification and interfolial mutual gratulations, down begin to drop the empty lifeless form of Brodie's letter, the unexecuted edicts of the councils, the derided vetoes of the Colleges, the rectified misrepresentations of Simpson, the exploded squibs of Holmes. The wholesome winter breath of unprejudiced popular judgement passes over them, and when spring comes again their dust is not discernable from other dust.
To Sir Benjamin Brodie, by reason of age, experience and official position, may perhaps be conceded the rank of Leader of the Medical Profession in Great Britain. Anything that he might have to say on a strictly medical question would carry with it a great weight of authority. This position of authority renders it incumbent on Sir Benjamin to treat any such question which he touches with all the earnestness, thoroughness and logical fitness of method which should characterize the “verba magistri,” by which the profession are expected to swear. Sir Benjamin has written on Homoeopathy. In 1842, in the London Quarterly Review, he published an elaborate essay in which he pronounces Homoeopathy to be a mixture of quackery and fraud, its practitioners, at one and the same time, persons “who have very probably never studied disease at all” and “empirics,” who, when they get a patient from a “regular” doctor who has erred in his diagnosis, take advantage of that error for their own profit, cure the patient and thus, “with such knowledge as they possess of these matters (of diagnosis namely) gain much credit with the public.” He thus explains away a part of the success which he acknowledges attends the homoeopathic treatment to a great extent, accounts for a still farther measure of success by stating that many diseases require no active treatment at all, and therefore recover as well under Homoeopathists as under old school doctors and finally makes his only direct charge, to wit; that Homoeopaths fail to employ active treatment in some cases which. need it and that in consequence many die who might be saved. This assertion rests on Sir Benjamin Brodie's authority. It is a question of fact to be maintained by statistics. It is not a matter of opinion or of argument. Yet Sir Benjamin Brodie's adduces no facts, refers to no statistics — whereas on the contrary, Homoeopathists bring forward statistics, in numbers that preludes all possibility of error and on authority which cannot be gainsaid, to show that in the very diseases which Sir Benjamin alleges to require more active treatment than that which Homoeopathists employ — in these very diseases the ratio of cure under homoeopathy is astonishingly greater than that under allopathic treatment. — The burden of proof lies upon Sir Benjamin and his fellow letter-writers. We challenge them to it.
In 1856 Sir Benjamin Brodie published a resume of his former article, and in 1861 he published still another in the form of a letter to a friend. This appeared in Frazer's Magazine. It is remarkable that our old school friends who so earnestly deprecate the discussion of strictly scientific subjects before a popular audience or in a popular journal should yet so frequently allow themselves to seek such a means of publication when their object is to pass judgement upon Homoeopathy, or more truly, as Dr. Sharp expresses it, to “alarm and deter” the public upon the subject of homoeopathic practice. In his last letter, which is a reproduction or the first essay, “not matured by age nor moulded by experience,” leaving unuttered not a single one of his former statements, nor introducing a single new one, the name of Dr. Sharp, of Rugby, is brought in. He is classed among empirics and pretenders, and his writings are pronounced puerile and illogical. It was incumbent on Dr. Sharp to notice this letter. Frazer's magazine refused to admit any reply whatever. Hence Dr. Sharp's letter in answer to Sir Benjamin takes the form of a separate publication; a fact on which we may congratulate ourselves because of the greater scope and freedom of which such a form admits, and because of the opportunity it has given Dr. Sharp to introduce arguments and matters relevant only as illustrations but yet of great value to his colleagues.
Like a man who is not afraid of his antagonist, Dr. Sharp gives Sir Benjamin fair play by reprinting his letter in an appendix to his own. His readers may therefore verify his quotations and test his construction.
“You commence thus, 'addressing a friend, 'you desire me to give you my opinion of what is called Homoeopathy * * I have made myself sufficiently acquainted with several works, especially those of Hahnemann, the founder of the homoeopathic sect and those of Curie and Sharp. The result is, that, with all the pains I have been able to take, I have been unable to form any very distinct notion of the system which they profess to teach' This being so, I cannot help expressing surprise that you did not here close your letter. Under the conviction that it was a subject you did not yet understand, how could you feel justified in writing more? Did it not strike you that the confidence of your readers must be shaken by this acknowledgement? As in another place, you repeat the confession that you 'cannot comprehend it,' and, in still another, that 'it is wholly unintelligible;' your meaning cannot be misapprehended, and, in the minds of many, this consideration alone has disposed of your letter altogether.”
Dr. Sharp shows that the question of the merits of Homoeopathy is an “experimental one,” and that “no amount of mere 'reading' is 'sufficient' to qualify you to give an opinion on the matter. It is an experimental question and no one who has not repeated the experiments, however well informed he may be upon other topics, is competent to offer an opinion, much less to pronounce an adverse judgement upon it. Would a chemist be permitted to question or deny the results obtained in the laboratory of another chemist, unless he had himself repeated the experiments and could not obtain the same results? Certainly not, you will say; neither is a medical man justified in denying the experience of another who has not himself tried the same remedies in similar cases. Did you acquire your surgical experience and deserved reputation by the reading of books. And would you criticise another surgeon, whose experience differed from your own, if that experience was founded on a mode of operating which you had not yourself tried? * * * For the reason, then, that you have not made experiments or practical observations with your own hands and under your own eyes, nor even witnessed them in the hands of others — either of which if done, you were bound to record — your whole letter and whatever further you may have said on the subject, may be dismissed without injustice as of no weight.”
“Suffer me to repeat, that this is not a matter which admits of a priori reasoning. It is one of experiment and observation; and until you personally try these experiments and make these observations, however much we may respect your judgment on affairs with which you are conversant, your opinion on this subject is of no value. Forgive me Sir Benjamin for speaking thus plainly; I mean it not uncourteously; I feel as John Hunter did, when he wrote to Jenner — Why think? Why not try the experiment?”
After effectually exposing in this manner the illogical nature of the objections which are made to Homoeopathy, and furthermore the contradictory and stultifying character of the explanation by which Brodie offers to account for the admitted great success of Homoeopathy in practice, Dr. Sharp very clearly and happily treats the differences between our method and that of the old school, shows them to be radical, growing out of differences in our philosophical views of the great elements of Therapeutics, viz.: the disease, the remedy and the principle of applying the latter to the former, differences so great as to amount to contrariety.
Furthermore, in his section upon state medicine he gives us a chapter of the secret history of the Medical Act passed a few years ago in Great Britain, shows how the Royal College of Physicians had slyly introduced into the Act. while in the House of Commons, a clause which would give them power to exclude all Homoeopathists from the rights and privileges of practitioners of medicine and would render their practice penal — how this was discovered by mere accident at a late period when the bill was near its final reading — how the facts being represented by himself and colleagues to the Committee of the Commons a saving clause was added, protecting Homoeopathists — how through a period of months this clause was rejected, reintroduced, rejected again, modified and brought back, accordingly as, for the moment, he or the Royal College of Physicians prevailed with the Committee and how at last, by great exertions, they procured that the bill should pass in a form which grants some measure of protection to Homoeopaths. And yet after proving this fundamental diversity of doctrine and exposing this malignity of spirit which reminds one of the silversmiths of Ephesus whose “craft was in danger,” — Dr. Sharp deprecates a breach with the old school, hopes for a better spirit in them, looks forward to the possibility of fraternal union with them and virtually makes overtures for a compromise with them!
We know all about compromises on this side of the water. We have tried them to our sorrow. The agony of civil war which now convulses our land is the fruit of compromises patched up between systems, whose principles, faith and practice are directly and incompatibly opposed. But slavery and freedom are not more incapable of combination, are not more radically diverse, than are old school medicine and Homoeopathy.
But compromise implies a mutual concession. What does Dr. Sharp propose to lay on the altar of brotherly Union — What but the poor, well-banged theories of Hahnemann and that unlucky “globule.” He will denounce the former and “disclaim all sympathy” with the latter, as fervently as any Allopath and thus he hopes to open the hearts of the Royal College! Alas, dear colleague. you would find that this is not the “Open Sesame!” but only a ineffectual “Open Barley!”
If rejection of the hypotheses by which honest old Hahnemann tried to make his method acceptable to the theorists of his day, would unite us to the old school, we had been at one with them long ago, for every Homoeopath who has written within thirty years has repudiated them, though almost every one for a different reason.
And, then, the “globule!” If the dose is to be divided and made small, why not avail ourselves of the globule as a means of dividing it. It is convenient and accurate. A repudiation of the globule while yet one adheres to dilution or trituration, in any form, is only to exchange the opposition of the Allopaths for their contempt, as was found by Dr. of New York, whose pretended “Renunciation” of what he had never professed nor practised, has left him in the unpleasant position of that nondescript which is neither an apostate nor a martyr nor yet a respectable fellow of any organization.
The dose is a direct sequence of the law of cure. The Allopaths are logically right in using large doses so long as they prescribe allopathically. We are constrained by true logic to use infinitesimal doses when we prescribe homoeopathically. The Allopaths know this and they respect us, if we are true to our principles. But if we profess to prescribe according to the homoeopathic law and yet disclaim infinitesimal doses and ask for recognition from the Allopaths on the score of this disclaimer, we shall be snubbed as we deserve and shall gain, as we shall merit, their contempt alone.
Let us not mistake our position. We do not exist, nor practice for the sake of the old school nor with reference to them. We need ask no recognition nor countenance from them. We live for the sake of the sick. We ask recognition at their hands, and we shall get it just in proportion as we show ourselves de. serving of it, by curing the sick and relieving those who suffer. To this end alone should our labors be directed. When our professional brethren who are still in darkness come to us asking light and knowledge, then, it will be proper to consider our relations to them and to open the way for a union with them. For the present we need, first, a clear view of our exalted vocation and an earnest devotion to it, and, second, as concerns our ethical relations, we need what Charles Sumner prescribed for the North — “Backbone, backbone, backbone.”
Die Dispensirfreiheit, oder das Recht und die Verpflichtung der homoeopathischen Aerzte, wie auch aller Aerzte, die von ihnen verordneten Arzneimittel selbst auszutheilen. Eine Denkschrift den hoben Ministerien Deutschlands ueberreicht von Prof., Dr. J. Hoppe. Leipzig, Otto Purfurst, 1861. 8vo., pp. 133.
The Liberty to Dispense Medicines, or the Right and Duty of the Homoeopathic Physicians as well as all other Physicians to Dispense the Prescribed Medicines themselves. A memorial laid before the Cabinets of the German States, by Prof. Dr. J. Hoppe. Leipzig, Otto Purfurst, 1861, 8vo., pp. 133.
Professor Dr. Hoppe, of the University of Basel, styling himself still the Non-homoeopathist. has issued a memorial of 133 pages for which not only the homoeopathic physicians but all physicians who have laid aside the gold-headed cane, and are progressively inclined owe to him their gratitude and their united thanks.
Professor Hoppe says in his preface: “It is the duty of a man to stand up for and recognize truths. In this essay, which concerns Homoeopathy so closely, I have done this with respect to all the good which this school possesses in so large a measure. I have even expressed this acknowledgement with some warmth. I hope that I shall thereby atone in part for the wrong I have helped to inflict on Homoeopathy in former times.”
This very first sentence of Professor Hoppe's preface bespeaks the enquiring, unprejudiced and honest man. He confesses that in former times he has assisted in inflicting an injury, which he now acknowledges to be a “wrong;” he admits that Homoeopathy as a medical school is in a great measure possessed of good, and that his action is based on a conviction of a truth which, by his acknowledgements, must have been acquired by experiment.
Professor Hoppe continues in his preface thus: “This acknowledgement of the good in Homoeopathy I have turned to account in a plea for the liberty to dispense homoeopathic medicines. The question of this liberty to dispense medicines which at present again agitates the minds of the people has been difficult to understand like everything else appertaining to Homoeopathy. I have been compelled to decide this question in favor of Homoeopathy, by reason of arguments partly new and weighty. But the same weighty arguments have caused me to demand for all physicians the same liberty to dispense medicines. It is equally the duty of a man to retain his independence and to be progressive according to his ability. That I have tried and succeeded in fulfilling this duty the contents of this essay will prove sufficiently, although the nature of my task has forbidden me all criticism and has only permitted me passing remarks. Strongly as I am inclined to criticism I cannot encourage the hope many may entertain of beholding me engaged in a mischievous tirade over a great work. There are in Homoeopathy a series of thoughts, earnest, deep, difficult to fathom, and while pursuing a critical and inquiring study of these thoughts one no longer stands in the position in which it would be proper to seek out the unfavorable sides, the mistakes and errors, or even to accord much weight to these. That was the criticism of Homoeopathy of former days, when we were unable to attain to the thoughts which are the substance of Homoeopathy, and unable to direct our questions to Homoeopathy itself, and therefore squandered our own time and the time of others in unessential attacks upon nonessentials. We deal at first with the question of “the ideal” before we are allowed to measure its realization.
“I therefore commit no wrong on the science nor do I inflict a wrong on the reader, but I serve the truth if I simply unfold the good which I am compelled to say in favor of Homoeopathy, and I therefore beg to be followed in the representation of it.”
What glad tidings this preface brings to the friends of progressive truth! — Here we find an acknowledgement “at last” of an enquiring man, that the “ideal” of Homoeopathy has not been understood and that the critics in days gone by have only dealt with unessential questions, that whatever may be the short-comings of a new system of medicine the one who is willing and capable of understanding the Ideal of Homoeopathy will find himself compelled to praise the good to be found in it. How different from the everyday common-place opposition to a new truth, an opposition based on culpable ignorance. What great hopes for the future must not all progressive men be inspired with, who follow Professor Hoppe in his representations as we now shall follow him.
In the introduction Professor Hoppe says: “Two events in the course of time have, in part, already caused a mighty revulsion in the practice of medicine, and in part they are still at work creating them more and more. These two events are:
He then dwells on the necessity of making these questions a matter of enquiry; as the truths slumbering in these two events will assist men in solving many important world-questions. In this short introduction the learned author gives full evidence of his knowledge and appreciation of Homoeopathy, of the great fundamental doctrine of individualization and his appreciation of the curative virtue of small doses. In the first division, “The Leading Thoughts in Homoeopathy,” he commences thus:
” Paracelsus was the first physician who tried to give a scientific expression to the unmistakable facts of miraculous sudden cures. This philosopher's stone remained covered by crude dross, and unset, and as mankind thought themselves nearly in possession of it, it disappeared again and seemed still further — it appeared to have been but a dream. And then appeared Hahnemann who said in clear words and in very well considered language: 'The specific and the individually specific remedy must be searched for, and must be discovered for each single case of sickness, and in each single case of sickness the curative treatment is a treatment (or process) of discovery.”
He says farther “that Hahnemann demanded the necessity of discovering for each case the specific medicine, and by this demand he created the first regulated medical science of discovery. The formula to his attempted discovery was 'Similia Similibus,' which, although frequently foreshadowed before his day, he caused to be largely acknowledged and promulgated. Hahnemann created a new art of healing and here we have only to do with the solution of one question, which is, whether there exists for each individual case of sickness one individually specific or at least a specific medicine, an exclusively curative medicine or at least a medicine curative in a particular degree, the one which among all other medicines is the only one proper and necessary for the cure of the patient.” He further says
“That the question now arises, whether this is true or not, or whether only partially true?” And then he says “No government can settle these questions, no potentate on earth has a right to decide upon them. Neither can the Anatomist, the Physiologist, or any Scientific Committee assist the government in such a decision.”
How very true! And like Homoeopathy how little understood as yet. The medical faculty without following Hahnemann, nay, without even knowing the great questions involved in this, the only regulated medical science of discovery, has condemned its truth; and even in a Republic it has so far succeeded as to prelude the possibility of practice in the army or navy. The faculty has assumed what Professor Hoppe distinctly says, they have no right to do, they decide questions of which they know nothing; in their singular spirit of persecution and intention to annihilate Homoeopathy, they have even not allowed Homoeopathists to be examined when applying for positions as Surgeons in the armies, and not satisfied with such deplorable injustice they go still further. But a few days ago the Managers of the Homoeopathic Hospital in the city of Philadelphia received official notice from the medical authorities, that, should a soldier in the service of the United States be taken into said Hospital, the Managers thereof would be held as much responsible as though they had harbored a deserter. No matter how much a sick or wounded soldier may wish to be treated homoeopathically the stern possessor of a brief authority forbids it; the homoeopathic hospital erected here by patriotic citizens cannot be opened to assist the sufferer. It must indeed be a weak cause that seeks refuge behind illiberality, ignorance and prejudice. Does this self-instituted medical committee know anything at all about Homoeopathy? Or about the principles contended for? They do not! And not knowing anything about the principles of this school, how can they judge, and of what weight is their verdict? Of no weight whatever. But let us follow the Non-homoeopathist Hoppe, who now, tells the faculty what they can do, should do, must do in order to enable themselves and the medical profession in general to examine the questions and bring them to an issue.
Professor Hoppe continues: “The teachers of science may only assist in giving a form to these questions or in particularizing them more correctly; — further, they can assist by teaching and educating in the knowledge which enables to solve them, and the government can attend and see that the external conditions necessary for the solution of these questions exist. These questions have been urged by the patient in his suffering and in his hopes of assistance and by the physician in his wish to help, and by his successful cures, therefore let practice decide upon it, and practice alone can do it.”
Here we see Professor Hoppe appeal to the last, the only competent tribunal — “the experiment.” The experiment will decide these pending and kindred questions; the experiment has decided — but the attempt to bring government and teachers of medicine to such a decision still continues.
Dr. Hoppe proceeds: “Truly Homoeopathy is the latest effort made to find again the religion of revelation in medicine. Does a specific remedy for every disease exist in the kingdom of nature? Does the law of God so live in every abnormal movement of life? Let the question be decided by those who feel the necessity of it, and who does not? This medical question with its histories of cures is in medicine what the question of the granting of prayer is in religion; and could religion not endure such enquiries? It appears to me worth remarking that Hahnemann was a protestant, and as a passing remark I should dike to know what proportion of members, according to statistics, existed and exist between protestants and catholics among the adherents of Homoeopathy. There is a decidedly religious question involved in Homoeopathy, a question by which the whole being of a man is penetrated who has any intimations of Homoeopathy; this question leaves him no rest and urges him incessantly to spend his life in the solution of the great truths Hahnemann has laid before the world. For this reason we ask for liberty of thought!”
“When a physician becomes a Homoeopathist, his reason is at first a religious sentiment; his second feeling a thirst for knowledge, which is more and more satisfied after embracing Homoeopathy. To follow Hahnemann in the train of thoughts which he has opened and pointed out in the endeavor to solve the truths in nature, becomes the object of his strongest desire. I call it a religious sentiment, that is a belief in certain (although not supernatural) powers in nature, and this belief involves the belief in a Creator who has ordered all things as they are; a reverance for the action of those powers and a devout admiration of their effects. These are faith and veneration, and whoever lacks both of these has never hitherto, either become a Homoeopathist a physician, or an adherent of Homoeopathy as layman, but whoever possesses both feelings is not proof against the adoption of Homoeopathy if opportunity offer, and the only reason why he has not yet become a Homoeopathist is that he has not chanced to obtain a sufficient knowledge of the facts relating to Homoeopathy or has been too entirely absorbed in other occupations.”
The Professor after dwelling on these motives which coupled with the results in practice are much more satisfactory than ever before, finds the physician asking the question, “How far do these brilliant results extend?”
The Professor thus says, “Homoeopathy is the medical science of discovery, if not the only possible one, it is the only one which until now possesses proper rules, and the question which the science takes upon herself and makes her own is as follows: Is it true that there exists a specific for each case of sickness; and that an individually specific remedy is the only one to be adapted to a true cure? The solution of this question is the task Homoeopathy has undertaken.”
Furthermore he also says, “Judge who may! But no one can pass a sentence, who does not first try the experiment, exactly as Homoeopathy requires it to be tried; or, secondly, who cannot open new paths and produce something still better. To bring forward anything better cannot be thought of at present, and that is what constitutes the greatness of Hahnemann's discovery. Truly if any mortal since the year 1795 had been able to produce anything even so wonderful, he would certainly have done it, and it would have been received with wild joy from the sheer pleasure of opposition. Admitting that it were possible that this method of finding the appropriate remedy was fallacious, the question has at least caused us 'to think.' We will find a depth of truth when we begin to think.”
Further he says, “As to extremes, it is as well that the Homoeopathists are divided into two factions; nevertheless an accurate enquiry into the results of homoeopathic treatment show, that as far as accomplished cures are concerned the preference is due to the pure Homoeopathists, and not to the party who have chosen a narrower stand-point ”
Here again the Professor shows his most valuable gift, “the art of observation.” He has ere this pointed out with almost unparalelled distinctness the great question which Homoeopathy asks, and he now, by giving the results of his observations concerning the practical success of the two divisions of Homoeopathists clearly shows that as far as accomplished cures (experiment) are concerned the preference is due to the pure Homoeopathists (Hahnemannians), and not to the party who have chosen a narrower stand-point. The professor had enquired and penetrated so truly into the true spirit of Homoeopathy that he proves himself possessed of the full knowledge of the position that Homoeopathy occupies as a science and clearly has he judged of the practical results (accomplished cures).
He beholds the pure Homoeopathist following Hahnemann and inspired with the same devotion towards the development of the new medical science of discoveries — he finds him successful. On the other hand he beholds the man who stands on a small limited and narrow platform talking of the necessity of stopping where began the great error of a great man (the theory of potentization)! He finds him contending for but one specific dose of a specific remedy for a specific disease, like a modern writer whose superior wisdom led him to proclaim that because Crotalus 30, in pellets, had many years ago cured some cases of yellow fever among the crew of a merchant ship, that now in modern days a repetition of Crotalus, low, was a specific remedy for the specific disease, “yellow fever.” He hears him speak of alternate specifics for a specific disease; he finds him mixing two or three specific remedies for specific diseases; he even looks upon him about to mix all specifics and medicines and thus concoct a universal nostrum! He notices this, but to express his disapprobation of the small stand-point which they must occupy; and allowing them to remain unnoticed until they fall, he returns to the pure Homoeopathist, and we follow him now in his memorial.
The Professor concludes the first part by saying, “Thus powerfully in her first creation arose from the mind of Hahnemann the methodical medical science of discovery, a religion, a scientific and a strictly logical work of experience, not fully finished but full of good results and promising still greater rewards if more cultivated and ripened into perfection. And, if the practising faculty does not explore and investigate the developing process which is involved in Homoeopathy, it is impossible for her to make any progress. The question is not whether Homoeopathy is “to be or not to be,” the question is simply one of progress in medical practice, and we will see the parties opposing and hindering each other until either Homoeopathy is conquered by reasoning, or she herself gains the victory or is used as a stepping-stone or platform for the attainment of a clearer perception of scientific light. It is a great work and one full of thought! Important in its signification to mankind and in its part in the history of progress! Therefore, if only as a developing step in medicine, give full liberty to such a work and if not able to further it, let no stumbling block be placed before it.
“Before closing this first part I again look over the writings of her adversaries to see whether I have not said too much; but I need not to take back one single word. It is necessary to study Homoeopathy conscientiously in its teachings before one may form a judgement, but then how different will the judgement be from the previous one.”
“The second event which moves the medical world is Hahnemann's discovery that medicines produce more effect in small, very small doses, far smaller than anyone anticipated, and that the medicines may be much more efficacious in very small doses than in larger ones; this discovery of Hahnemann's must be looked upon as the highest and most astonishing of his inspirations. The idea of the specific remedy which he elevated to the individually specific remedy does not originally belong to Hahnemann, but it is found in the whole previous history of medicine; his provings of medicines and his Materia Medica admit of criticisms, corrections and improvements, and their value is limited and is ascertained in a great measure only by correctness of treatment and by the results; the simile doctrine is still a mysterious problem and was stated before Hahnemann's time although not with the same clearness and distinctness. One hundred years before Hahnemann, the English Physician, Groenvelt, was tried, sentenced and imprisoned because he prescribed Cantharides according to the simile doctrine in diseases of the bladder.”
Let us pause here for a moment. What Groenvelt did 100 years before Hahnemann, every enlightened physician does today. Homoeopathy teaches clearly in what diseased conditions of the bladder Cantharides is and must be the sole individually specific remedy. The imprisonment of one thinking physician could not stay the further and certain progress in medicine. The Professors in Salamanca could not understand how any large body of land could lie where now millions of men of European descent dwell; and so in medicine, the development of the medical science of discovery will go on as certainly as Columbus discovered the terra firma of this great continent, notwithstanding the tirades of the modern Professors of Salamanca against progress.
Professor Hoppe whilst admitting that like all human productions, Homoeopathy may be criticised, considers that the question of the doctrine of doses is by no means settled in its details. He says, “It is nevertheless true that potencies are more efficient than crude medicines in large doses, and very often only make the rightly selected medicine the truly curative agent; the doses frequently decide alone and the otherwise properly selected remedy may and can remain without effect if not given in the right dose.”
As soon as Professor Hoppe has experimented in his progressive investigations with the higher and highest potencies he will no doubt report as favorably of them as all other investigating physicians before him have done. On the point of dilutions he wavers yet and thinks that it is only on account of the smallness and weakness of the diluted medicine that better results can be produced. Professor Hoppe has probably not yet administered Natrum mur., Sil., Lycopod., etc.; when he has, and has seen the most salutary results and unprecedently marvelous cures follow their truly homoeopathic administration, he will think differently of dilutions and perceive in them potencies. — Then he says that Homoeopathy has learned to pay attention to subjective symptoms by applying these small doses, and also by observing closely the effects of medicines. He still further calls the attention of Homoeopathy to “the state of activity in the tissues” which he has elaborately demonstrated in previous writings.
In the third division “The Critics on Homoeopathy,” Professor Hoppe remarks, “It is not our intention to write here a criticism on Homoeopathy, but we have only to view it as a historical event and an event in natural science, we therefore allow ourselves to become fully embued with the spirit of Homoeopathy, compelled thereto by a regard for truth and justice, as well as by a positive pleasure for these reasons, viz.: that Homoeopathy has certainly brought to light great truths, and that the disputed questions in Homoeopathy claim certain rights. Libelous criticism on Homoeopathy abounds and even in medico-historical works Homoeopathy is either condemned or under the garb of fairness is represented as possessing but little good, or as having had some indirect salutary effect on the healing art in general. But libel is not admissible and earnest historical enpuiries into the practice of medicine do not exist (for the reason that in the medical practice and in her methods of cure the leading thought, respecting the exact and therewith the truth, is wanting), not that I mean here to write a criticism.”
At the fourth section the Author writes thus: “Does there exist for each case one individually specific solely applicable remedy, taking into consideration all deviations in health and possible future changes of the individual? On that question greatly depends the existence of Homoeopathy. Homoeopathy herself asserts without hesitation that many facts lead to an affirmative reply, and the homoeopathic physician spends a life of enthusiasm devoted to the solution of this question. The nearest means for this solution is his theory of similars, and in order to apply this theory he needs the small doses. These are facts and they must follow each other. The Government has no right to place obstacles in the way of medical corporations who are desirous to solve a question by the treatment of the sick for the benefit of mankind.”
Dr. Hoppe further continues, 'We have investigated in the first section the most important question in Homoeopathy, viz.: whether there exists for each individual case an individually specific remedy, in the second section we have studied the potencies and small doses, and we have found in the third no reason or right to make any comment or criticisms; considering the aim of Homoeopathy and looking at her results compared with the shortcomings of all former medical schools; we have besides shown that there exists as yet no one who could sit in judgement against her, and no one yet capable of producing anything else more satisfactory in her stead; and now we will show further that the State which has no right to prohibit Homoeopathy, is also bound to grant her the liberty of dispensing medicines.”
Professor Hoppe has fully treated this subject. He demonstrates at first that the only certainty the prescribing physician has and should have that the patient has actually received the proper dose of the prescribed medicine is by his receiving the medicine from his own hands. He then alludes to the variety of preparations, even crude preparations, obtained at the various Pharmacies; the want of interest which an ordinary druggist may have in furnishing properly prepared homoeopathic medicines, next, to the impossibility of detecting maliciously, carelessly, incompetently prepared or spoiled medicines. The responsibility that the patients receives the properly prepared medicine lies with the physician and should not be transferred to the druggist. The homoeopathic physician can save the patient a great amount of expense and can relieve many poor patients who are compelled to abstain even from the effort to procure relief, as they must carry a large amount of money which they do not always possess to the druggist; and he points further to another great consideration and that is the loss of time which elapses before the prescribed medicine can be obtained from the druggist especially in the country or at night, etc.
In the fifth section, the Author claims the same privileges for all physicians, and alludes to the proposition made by other parties years ago, that the physician should not only himself dispense the medicines but dispense them gratuitously. Many physicians have done so for many years and do it still to this day. Since the introduction of Homoeopathy into the United States the physicians of that school have enjoyed the uninterrupted liberty of dispensing their own medicines, and we in the United States can therefore ardently hope that our foreign brethren may soon like us enjoy this privilege.
This memorial claiming for homoeopathic physicians and all other physicians the legal right to prescribe their own medicines, and making it a duty to the physician to do so is the opening of a new era in medical literature. The same potent reasons which the Non-Homoeopathist Hoppe holds forth for the privilege claimed, and for the right of Homoeopathy to test by practice the correctness of the questions are as potent here as in Germany and should be laid before our own Government. Professor Hoppe urges it, argues it in strong terms that no Government has a right to decide the questions Homoeopathy demands, and it is time that the Government of this vast Republic should have a memorial presented to Congress asking a relief from painful and unjust oppression now exercised over Homoeopathy by the medical authorities in the Service of the United States. What right has a State or the United States to reject an applicant for examination as Surgeon because he is a Homoeopathist? And what right has any medical officer in the United States to close a homoeopathic hospital to such suffering soldiers as prefer this treatment? Will the Republic deny to free citizens the rights enjoyed for many years by Subjects in Monarchies? Can political liberty exist where liberty in science is denied ?
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 03 No. 07, 1863, pages 320-333
|Book Notices; a Letter to Sir Benjamin Brodie, Bart., P. R. S., in Reply to his Letter in “frazer's Magazine” for September, 1861, by William Sharp; The Liberty to Dispense Medicines, or the Right and Duty of the Homoeopathic Physicians as well as all other Physicians to Dispense the Prescribed Medicines themselves - a memorial laid before the Cabinets of the German States, by Prof. Dr. J. Hoppe.
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