Part I. — A Survey of Parties and their Tendencies. — In the midst of a tedious war, which is a burden to our souls, every bold exploit to which a man arouses himself, every adventurous exercise of power, every progress, every victory, however limited, is greeted with joy — with that penetrating joy which desires peace, and sees in every such step a guarantee that the time is approaching when there will be a mutual understanding, at least among those who long for that which alone is worthy of desire.
In a similar fashion may we greet, of late years, in the domain of Homoeopathic literature, a series of monographs, treatises and works, which, although they differ as much from each other as the marshes of our southeastern coast from the wild highlands of the west, must yet all be regarded as signs of a progress which gives us room to hope that also in the history of our school a leaf will at last be turned and a new page begun with a new chapter of our history.
We propose to justify the assumption that our school is on the threshold of a new development, by a short survey of the most important of these signs, before passing to a closer consideration of one of these works, “Bahr's Monograph on Digitalis.”*[“Digitalis purpurea in ihrem physiologisch-therapeutischen Wirkungen von Dr. B. Bahr, Leipzig bei Weigel, 1859.”] This prize essay is a fruit grown upon the soil of that thirty years' opposition which has existed within the domain of Homoeopathy. We may regard it therefore as a representative of this party, which by its majority of numbers has in our day become the dominant party.
It is just half a century since the first publication in opposition to Hahnemann, that of Hecker,†[† Annalen der gesammten Medicin.] burst like a plague-boil, and scattered its stinking ichor over Germany, whence it has ever since been spreading wider and wider. But Homoeopathy had already become of age — she was 21 years old.
1790. First experiment upon the healthy. 1795. “Essay upon a new Principle in Medicine.” 1805. Medicine of Experience, “as Manual Fragmenta de Viribus medicamentorum positivis,' as Materia Medica; and AEsculapius in the Balance” as Critique. 1810 Organon. 1811. Hecker's Criticism.
And, as at the official jubilee, or at the golden wedding friends flock together to exchange congratulations and good wishes on the fifty year's continuance in office or in the wedded state, so in this year the first respectful scientific opponent presents himself before us — thee very first in fifty years.
Dr. Hoppe, of Basle, who is generally recognized as one of the foremost representatives of the physiological new school, has, expressly as a Non-Homoeopath, but yet in one of our own journals,[Allg. Hom. Zeitung, Vol. 60 (1860), No. 18, p. 137, etc., etc.] given his opinion of the Hahnemannian pharmacology in a scientific manner, and with such penetration and acuteness that a reaction toward the old school may reasonably be expected from it, and upon the rising generation such an enduring reaction as has never yet been produced.
The writer of this paper has endeavored to counteract the effect of this opinion in so far as it might prove a hindrance to the younger Homoeopathic physicians (in Cl. Muller's Hom Viertcljahr-schrift, vol. 12, pp. 236-289, 1861). He desires — he who has been so very often misunderstood — to express again and again his great esteem for so eminent an investigator as Hoppe, not only on account of his achievements, but because among the opponents of Homoeopathy, he stands without a rival — and all the more so because almost at the very same time that he published the above-mentioned defense, the writer had lashed as mercilessly as he could, nay torn to pieces the wishy-washy Wunderlich in his History of Medicine,*[Geschichte der Medicin, Vorlesungen von C. A. Wunderlich, Stuttgart, 1859, pp.-271 and 84. Neue Hanheckeln, No. 3, Philad., 1860.] without any regard to the high and influential position of the latter.
For the influence of Wunderlich, where he has any, is simply a hurtful one, smearing over and bedaubing, instead of solving the real question of science, while that of Hoppe is invigorating, stimulating, and inciting to investigation and to progress. Hoppe speaks as a scientific man to other men of science. Wunderlich has never known what science is; he thinks, in his self-complacency that accumulated knowledge may be held together by a handful of meaningless phrases.
With the weapons of the new school of German philosophy, the “physiological school of medicine,” which pretends to be based upon this philosophy, is demolished, yes, crushed to powder, in the persons of its representative Virchow and of other renowned contemporaries (especially Liebig in a subsequent publication†[†Das Homoeopathische Aehollchkeitsgesetz von Dr. Von Grauvogl, Leipzig bei Purflirst, 1861.]), and this with such acuteness that among really thinking men there can not remain the least doubt in the world which school has under its feet a solid, unshakable foundation — our Homoeopathic or the physiological.
Physicians who have not busied themselves with Philosophy, nevertheless know that advance in the Natural Sciences began to be made when the maxims of Bacon were more and more. closely followed. “Natural science has made its greatest progress since Kepler and Newton through the means of induction.” In the schools of medicine, the necessity of a corresponding method has, it is true, been much talked about; attempts have been made, too, to base on this idea certain modifications of existing deeply-rooted false opinions. In so far as physiology and pathology are concerned, exceedingly important contributions to our knowledge have been made, and powers of the first order have been exerted in the endeavor to make what has been acquired in these departments directly available in the art of curing, but in vain! From Virchow, the worthy successor of Johannes Muller, also of the greatest of German investigators — from Virchow down to the compiler and imitator of the French — down to Wunderlich the phrase-rider, who is incapable of reasoning, they rear their structures, so far as the art of curing is directly concerned, all in confusion, and without any real foundation under their feet; in other words, they are in their therapeutics without method. They have only a semblance of method. Grauvogl has irrefutably demonstrated this, and that from the writings of these very gentlemen. He bases his argument chiefly upon Apelt. He it is who has established the Theory of Induction in Germany. Even Whewell, the historian and philosopher of Induction, confesses that “the logic of Induction is hitherto a vain wish.” Apelt, to the honor of German philosophy, has solved this problem.*[Die Theorie der Induction von E. F. Apelt, Leipzig, Eagelmann, 1854.]
Grauvogl has shown that Hahnemann had already made all his incontrovertible discoveries by following this, the only right path of the strict inductive method, and that the dominant schools have followed either no method at all or only such a one as involve in contradiction — that is, a false method.
At the same time a work appeared in Homoeopathic literature which was received among Homoeopathists themselves, on the one side with a real horror, and on the other with a transport of astonishment. Wolfs “Fundamental Poisoning of Man-kind and their emancipation therefrom”*[Grundvergiftungen der Menschheit and ihre Befreinng davon. Hom. Erfahrungen von C. W. Wolf. 2d. bis 5, Heft. Berlin bei Herbig, 1860.] It could hardly be believed to be possible that from the same basis and soil of the Hahnemannian doctrine, two works so diametrically opposite could have grown. Indeed, it appears on a superficial observation almost impossible that the two works can agree in a common fundamental principle. This, however, is the case. A brief historical review will put every one in a position to see that this is really so.
The adherents of the Hahnemannian art of healing, at a very early period, separated into two parties. The first, Hahnemann's oldest pupils and their real successors, accepted the doctrine of the master, and all that he discovered and observed, as an indication how to become healers; accepted the drugs that he proved, as instruments wherewith to heal the sick, and bestirred themselves truly and honestly to do as he had done. They contented themselves with striving day by day to become masters of the art. We call them the party of the Artists.
Among the physicians who gave in their adhesion at a later day and who, it is true, admitted the Homoeopathic law of cure, induced thereto, especially by the sensation which the Homoeopathic cures of cholera in 1830 made, there were, however, a great many who nevertheless did not become real and hearty adherents of the Homoeopathic mode of cure. They accorded to the theories, as well as to the practical maxims, only a halfway acceptance and called this criticism and themselves Reformers.
There arose meanwhile in the first division, that of Artists, many who accepted, in the full extent, Hahnemann's practical directions for curing the sick but not his theories; as far as art was concerned they were strict followers of Hahnemann; but as regards the theory, they sought, in manifold ways, to make it tenable and to bring it into accord and agreement with general science. In this party we may reckon as representative men, Grauvogl in Germany, and Fincke in America, who have brilliantly carried out that which the author of the introduction to the American translation of the Organon has at all times striven to accomplish.
Of the representatives of the other party — that of Artists — who do not dispute Hahnemann's explanations, and who give themselves no concern about theory, Boenninghausen stands at the head. To this party Wolf belongs, with his most remarkable book, in which is contained a real treasure of the finest observations for the art as such.
These remarks may serve as an explanation of these two equally important phenomena in our literature, and which required to be mentioned here in order that we might rightly appreciate the Homoeopathic opposition party — that of the half, or pseudo Homoeopathists — to which we owe both of the Monographs upon Digitalis.
We do not propose to discuss here the sub-parties into which this opposition has divided. We notice them only in the hope that in the course of manifest progress, some of their numbers may gradually approximate again the Hahnemannian art of curing. From this party, the collaborators of the Austrian Journal of Homoeopathy separated, to their great honor. The drug provings in this journal are gigantic labors and have furnished confirmations of Hahnemann's Pharmacology in such abundance and completeness, that they have not yet been digested either by the old school nor by the new. There is as yet no critique of them anywhere. On the other hand, there has arisen from this opposition in our day a critic of the Hahnemannian Materia Medica who, corresponding in this respect to Hoppe, is the first to confine himself to scientific rigor — Roth of Paris, in his “Studies of the Materia Medica.*[CI. Muller's Vierteljahrschrift, 10-12 Band, 1859-61.] He goes to work in a thoroughly scientific manner and with such industry and carnestness, and so vigorously as thereby alone to compel respect and regard from all sides; and without agreeing with him we must recognize him as the worthiest representative of this opposition INTRA MUROS.
Along with this almost exclusively negative spirit came at the same time the above mentioned prize article. If we now examine Black's previous article*[† Dr. Francis Black of Edinburgh. British Journal of Homoeopathy, Vol. IV., 1846, pp. 61-91 and 267 to 280.] on the same subject, we shall recognize in the difference between the two articles the progress that has taken place within the limits of this party, and in the errors which are common to both we shall see the errors of the whole party. Both monographs then are equally indefatigable in contemptuous disparagement of the Hahnemannian Materia Medica, our great treasure. In this they agree, too, with Roth. And it is with especial reference to this disparagement, now kept up for thirty years, and which must of necessity render the younger Homoeopathists averse to the study of the Materia Medica — a study in itself sufficiently tiresome — that I regard it as a duty to expose with all my powers the utter groundlessness of all the objections which the above named publications offer.
A preliminary sketch of this party is indispensable to a correct comprehension of what is to be said concerning these studies of Digitalis. We can in no other way form a judgment respecting the progress of our art than, on the one hand, by means of history and of criticism, and on the other and contrariwise, by a survey of the practical contributions which have been made by it and of their value.
Among those physicians who accepted only the Homoeopathic law of cure, without thereby becoming real pupils of Hahnemann, a great number took umbrage at all sorts of accessory and incidental matters, and allowed themselves to be led astray to such a degree as to shove aside Hahnemann's fundamental doctrines which alone are capable of insuring a rich and beneficent exercise of the art. Among other difficulties, too, was a dread of exertion, an indisposition to become students again; they desired to have the new art made more convenient and easy, and so, remaining entangled in their preconceived errors, they accepted scarcely one half of what Hahnemann had observed and discovered; they followed not the great “Pathfinder” in his maxims as healer; they gave credence, as did the old school, to the most wretched calumnies which envy and jealousy *[* Indeed the people in our day, and in the greatest and mightiest State, are doing the very same thing with their greatest hero, “the hero of the West”] had raised against him; yes, they even assumed to be critics of a higher order, who would not in blind admiration “swear by the words of the master;” in short, as Hahnemann said, “they stopped half-way” and completely misunderstood the great man in his entire scope and tendency. As it has frequently occurred in history the half-and-half party has succeeded in winning the multitude to itself; it has become the majority; and all that, in our day, belongs to preponderating numbers — recognition, influence, power — is at its command. In America it has even succeeded in fastening upon the people and making them believe the plausible lies, that the science has taken forward strides since Hahnemann's day, and that the old Hahnemannians are narrow and behind the age. These lies do not deserve a word here — it would be necessary only with very ignorant persons.
But the half-way position of this majority calls for untiring admonition, from the fact that in consequence of its destructive teachings cures of the sick are much diminished in number, as the more honorable of their body must confess and have indeed publicly admitted.
By the limited recognition of the Hahnemannian doctrine which the half Homoeopathists have chosen to adopt and to regard as “scientific” they find themselves in a position of two fold difficulty. For their recognition is not sufficiently complete to enable them to imitate Hahnemann in his cures and thus console themselves by the result; but it is more than sufficient to make them participants in that odium with which we have always found and still find ourselves regarded in our relations with the old school. This explains their bitterness, which is directed more especially against the unreserved adherents and followers of Hahnemann. They really believe in sober earnest that if we should all, with one accord, follow their example, the unfounded hatred on the part of the old school would soon come to an end. This too is nothing new; it is the hereditary fashion of the half and half. There was once a government engaged in a contest for law and liberty, and which, nevertheless, was far more assiduous in providing for the alienation and subjugation of all who were really in earnest in the struggle than in carrying on the war itself, and this through a fear lest the inordinate zeal of those earnest people might do some mischief. And just as the supreme authority thought no measures too bad to be employed for this end, but welcomed even the most despicable methods, so, too, our halfway adherents of Homoeopathy have availed themselves, at times, of the basest means. It is indeed in the very nature of halfness to hate all wholeness and greatness.
The half Homoeopathists concede much to Hahnemann, but in respect of some principal matters they stop half way. The fundamental law that the remedy for each case is to be chosen according to the maxim Similia Similibus Curantur, they admit; but many of them say at the same time, there are other laws of cure which have a value too. They do not comprehend how it is that all the facts which they adduce in favor of the law of cure work no damage whatever to the universal applicability of the law of similarity; just as the law of gravitation suffers no abatement of its extent, although it be shown that magnetism, also, and light, electricity and caloric move the world. The mathematical expression for the law of gravitation is the same as that for all the others. They are all, at bottom, one and the same, although we may not understand how to demonstrate it.
The half Homoeopathists, moreover, admit the doctrine of one remedy at a time, but the majority, in the most ordinary cases, give two or three remedies in alternation or succession. If each remedy be only half right, they shall jointly make up one that is wholly right! And then, in addition, they select the remedies wholly at random, without the least rational grounds in the world!
The half Homoeopathists, again, give, it is true, smaller doses than the old school, but yet they give sometimes so much as to endanger the life of the patient; for example, tincture of Aconite in poisonous doses, tincture of Belladonna in the same, and sometimes the two in alternation! I have more than once unquestionably seen death induced by this treatment. As one of the most ignorant and least scrupulous of them openly said, they give poisonous doses, “but endeavor to stop short of poisoning” Only a very few, it is true, have gone so far as this; and if such extremes are depicted, it is only for the purpose of pointing out the end to which that path in which the majority are now walking leads, and must, of necessity, lead!
The half Homoeopathists do not make the examination of the patient in the manner which Hahnemann regarded as indispensable; they, for the most part, do not take down the symptoms in writing, or, in many cases, they only pretend to do so; for they do not follow the only indications which the Hahnemannian physician recognizes — the symptoms; but their choice of a remedy is determined rather by the pathological name which they give to the so-called disease, i. e., the name which, according to their degree of cultivation at the time, they are in a position to give, one giving one name, another another. They declare that this is “scientific” — to betake themselves to the uncertain swamp of pathological abstraction, because, forsooth, the world has been so stupid since Galen's time as to as to take it for granted that if a doctor knows what ailsa man, and where it ails, he can surely also cure him.
Of all the indications which enable the Homoeopathic physician to select the remedy, the symptoms of the case takes first rank. It matters not whether a child has Scarlatina or Measles, or a bastard of the two; whether a patient has Gout or Rheumatism, although these diseases stand diametrically opposed; it matters not whether heart or kidneys, or both, be “the seat of the disease,” he is to be guided by the symptoms; and all besides is and remains only accessory and auxiliary It is to be understood, as a matter of course, that this is said only of the choice of the remedy; for it is universally admitted and conceded by all Homoeopathists, and by Hahnemann himself that a physician should and must understand pathology in so far as it is a natural science; he must make as accurate a diagnosis as possible, were it only for the sake of the prognosis. But in the choice of the remedy, pathology can determine nothing, and least of all should the Materia Medica be pathologized, that is, dressed up and rectified after the fashions of the day.
The half Homoeopathists marshal their opposition to Hahnemann — just as the old school do — chiefly upon two fields. Hahnemann's theories are one, and certain alleged or real errors in his Materia Medica are the other.
As to the former, they are completely amazed and shocked, one at one theory, another at another; but all, with one accord, at the Psora doctrine. A mite, they seem to think, can overthrow the fruits of tens of years of continued observation — wrong letter on the coin destroy the gold!
Hahnemann's endeavors to explain the facts observed and newly discovered by him, are open, certainly, to numberless corrections; but let no one imagine that anything of any moment is said in this, or that thereby any great practical gain is achieved. Whoever will take the trouble to read the before mentioned introduction to the American translation of the Organon, which was written in 1834, while the Master was still alive, by one of his truest adherents, will find that the author declares all of Hahnemann's theories to be unimportant, since they appear to him to be, each and all, untenable; whereas, on the other hand, he admits all the practical instructions of the Master to be, without exception, sound and full of value. But upon these latter, all cures are based; upon the development of these practical rules, depends all true progress.
It is with Hahnemann's discoveries just as it is with gold. That it may circulate and subserve the needs of the people in their daily life, the gold is coined. Hahnemann gave to the gold of his discoveries and experiences a coinage also, in order that it might be transferable. This coinage corresponded to the coinage of his time. All genuine experiences are imperishable and eternal, but the explanations that are given of them are often subject to wide changes. What is once true, remains true forever; but the manner of expressing it, the coinage, the explanation of it may, in the course of time, become obsolete or require changes. Hahnemann coined his gold as well as he could half a century ago, and now the half Homoeopathists, as well as our opponents of the old school, throw away the gold because it has an antiquated form, a form that does not please them — form which, perhaps, might rightly enough be discarded. But instead of bringing the gold into another form, they substitute for it Nickel, which, at the very highest, is good only to make pennies of, or imitations of silver spoons. So much for the subject of the Theory.
The most important distinction, however, of the half Homoeopathists, and that which, above all others, is characteristic of them, is the manner in which, like boring worms, they penetrate and eat away the Hahnemannian Materia Medica. Since 1830, they have, with untiring zeal, thrown contempt upon it. The whole of the last generation of Homoeopathists have seen, heard, and understood scarcely anything else from all aides than shrugging of shoulders, doubting, striking out this or that symptom, with a constant outcry about indispensable corroborative provings, about necessary reconstruction, and such like phrases in abundance.
Let one imagine a company of young laborers, as, hungry and eager, they draw near to a well-spread table covered with food and begin to partake, in order to gain fresh strength for future work, and thus, day by day, maintain their vigorous condition. Thus it was formerly when the previous generation of young physicians came over to Homoeopathy. And now let us suppose that first one and then several of the company, day after day, before the eyes of all, draw a hair out of the soup, or discover worms upon the smoking roast, and, with solemn head-shaking, declare that such an unseemly thing must cease. The result is inevitable; the majority of the company will lose appetite; the keenest will hardly be able to hold out; many will even, like nervous girls, be seized with nausea; others will on a sudden turn their backs, like the sea-sick on shipboard!
How can beginners determine to make it the chief business of their lives, day by day, to read the Hahnemannian Materia Medica, to study, to collate it, ”nulla dies sine linea,“ until at last they master it? And how can we expect this when the only words we hear on the subject are forever those of contemptuous disparagement?
And yet all the talk of these so-called critics, as we shall here show, is either utterly groundless, or, if an error of Hahnemann's can really be shown, it is by no means worth all the bustle they make about it, for it effects no complete alteration in anything, and gains nothing for practice.
This depreciation of the Materia Medica, either groundless or profitless, shall form the chief subject of the following remarks, the aim of which is to arouse and strengthen love and respect for the Materia Medica.
Digitalis may serve as our best example for the elucidation of this subject, inasmuch as it furnishes an opportunity also to show, in a practical way, what are the characteristic symptoms, and how to seek them out and discover them. Digitalis, it is true, is' not, at least in our day, and in this country, a polychrest, not a remedy applicable every day and in a majority of cases; but it is an indispensable remedy in very serious cases, in which all the polychrests we have would leave us in the lurch.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 03 No. 02, 1862, pages 49-61
|Digitalis According to The Monographs of Baehr and Black.
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