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By Constantine Hering, M.D., Philadelphia, PA

In Vienna and in Prague, according to Heyne (page 36), the caesarling, Agaricus caesareus, is not allowed to be brought to market; it is forbidden by an order of the police. Why forbidden? Because the caeasarling has a red hat, and so also has the Agaricus muscarius, and because the former might be confounded with the latter! The ordinance is certainly a well-meaning, paternal one, and likewise judicious. In the first place, by means of it the ignorant are protected from injury; in the second place, by means of it this noble fungus is protected and preserved for him who alone deserves to enjoy it. The solitary connoisseur knows that the spathous naked pileus, the yellow flesh on the outer circumference of the stipes distinguish the prince of the fungi. But above all, he is made certain, by the pure yellow color of the larmelloe, that there stands before him the most complete of all the agarics - the noblest, the fairest, the one in flavor all others surpassing, the one highly - renowned since the earliest ages - of which even Pliny speaks as that to be preferred (Hist. Nat. c. 22) - that the imperial agaric stands before his eyes, and is in his hands, and is thus worthy to reward him who knows it, and to pass over into his juices and blood.

But few may have had the good fortune to hold both in their hands at the same time - in the right the caesar, in the left the fly-killer; [The Agaricus muscarius or “Bug Agaric” is used as a fly-poison. - D] but whoever is so fortunate as to be able to lay before himself Harper's work on the fungi, let him compare the first plate with the last.

As nobility of sentiment displays itself in every word, and imprints itself on every stage of development - so here nobility is to be seen in every line, even down to the burgeoning egg - on the other hand, in every line of the fly-agaric, the malignant, the adder like, the toad-like, even in the very egg. There is healthy, laughing, red gold, like apples; here a sinister, livid aspect, by reason of its sickly warts.

Just so it is in the Hahnemannian materia medica. What in Austria is called the police, is called, in relation to the materia medica, criticism. Our police requites that we should rather leave patients uncured than cure them by means of symptoms among which there are perhaps false ones, because these symptoms come from provers whom it pleases us to regard with suspicion, or because they were observed on patients.

The police allows no mushroom with red hat; scientific criticism allows no symptoms from patients, no symptoms from timid dosers, no symptoms which appeared after the potencies, etc. The police say: they have red caps; they may be poisoners; away with them; we are no connoisseurs! Our criticism goes still farther, for it not only says: they may be false, but it says: they are false! Surely this criticism might learn so much as this from the police, as to say: they may, they might, they could be! For precaution's sake let everything that resembles them be culled out. Many of our critics go still one step farther. They not only say: these symptoms are altogether good for nothing; no, they regard them as a kind of scabby sheep; they think that even the good symptoms may be poisoned by these bad symptoms! It reminds one of the tooth-puller of the last century, who taught the people that the black teeth must come out, because otherwise they would infect the lest. In like manner they would tear out. the carious symptoms, 60 that the rest might then stand so much the firmer; but that, in consequence, the entire row of teeth becomes loose, can only be shown by the result on many thousands of maltreated persons.

That this horrible delusion has fixed itself in the best heads like a mold upon the brain, and disseminates itself probably after the manner of such yeast sporules floating in the air, let an example show.

In a quarto volume begun in 1852, an honored commentator of the provings of Kali bichrom. says (p. 4, note): “I have subjected the narratives of the provers to what may appear somewhat rigid criticism; and in the fear of incorporating any useless or doubtful symptoms, may have left out many that really belong to the drug, and which may turn out to be valuable. But I hold that it is better to reject many real symptoms than admit one false one, as one false symptom tends to vitiate the whole by destroying our confidence in the rest.

Truly we must be thankful for this, that a man has the courage boldly to write and send out into the world such horrible nonsense as this. Thereby we learn things which, otherwise, we should not have understood how to regard as possible.

There are then really men, physicians, Homoeopathicians, who have “confidence” in the collection of drug symptoms; And what sort of confidence? A confidence in the hundreds and thousands of symptoms of the various remedies - a confidence more tender than the sugar manikin upon a macaroon - one jolt and down it goes!

“One false symptom tends to vitiate the whole.” What is a false symptom? Neither is there a single one, among many thousands and thousands, which positively and certainly is a false one, nor has it ever been, in a strictly scientific manner, demonstrated of any single one. We have hitherto only suspected, we have sought to make it probable, very probable, in the highest degree probable; but all this is no proof!

There are many “false symptoms” in all probability — it could not reasonably be expected to be otherwise; and, for this reason the old school too knew nothing better to say in opposition to this greatest product of the century, than to throw suspicion on the whole of it. Now come along such imitators of our opponents, and think if they throw suspicion on single symptoms - for a proof that the suspicion is well-grounded has never yet succeeded even in one single case — the not only must these symptoms be thrown out, but even the good, the true ones along with them! If, among the servants of a house, one falls under suspicion, we hang them all; for the “sugar manikin” of our confidence has come to grief! In this way have they thought to rescue science and to build the highways of truth!

But by what means do we find out that any symptoms whatever, of any drug, really and truly belong to that drug? There must be ways and means, for even the most conscientious, most careful prover, the most attentive observer, may possibly err; for he remains a man, and “to err is human.” That such a thing is possible, and is to be taken for granted, follows from the very words of the same critic; for not without emotion do we read his confession that he may, in his zeal for the rescue of our science, “have left out many that really belong to the drug;” and he is willing to admit that these“ may” perhaps, later in the course of time, “turn out to be valuable.” But how shall these unlucky symptoms begin to “turn out to be valuable” if, in the collocation of symptoms in the Symptomen-codex they have been already thrown overboard?

There is but one way in which we can, from time to time, render single symptoms more probable; in this way many symptoms may gradually turn out to be valuable; but this is only possible on condition that we do not throw them overboard into the jaws of the ravenous sharks of criticism.

But this way is that of the strictest method, the method of Hahnemann who, a full half-century before Apelt wrote his theory of induction, solved the great problem practically in the very same manner. In the same way we must continue to travel; we must develop after the manner of all sound growth, and we shall attain what Hahnemann had in view — mathematical certainty.

To this may belong:

1. Provings on the healthy, with or without poisonings.

2. Observations on the sick.

3. Cures of groups of symptoms.

4. Collocation of all these symptoms in all their relations.

5. Comparison among themselves of the symptoms of each remedy.

The last, the great essential, the estimation of the value or the single symptoms, the sifting, the separating, the valuing and everything else that is based on this estimate of the value of single symptoms - in the region of the art: determination in the choice of the remedy; in the region of the science: columns and arches to be erected - all this, however, is most plainly impossible unless we first have collections of all the symptoms — collections the completest possible! These, too, must be in the hands of everyone, in order that a few prominent ones may not, through their preconceived opinions, confuse and throw dust into the eyes of the many who ought to see for themselves, whether by means of clouds of learned dust from the quartos and folios which they flap open and shut, or through the whirlwinds of sand which they raise.

We must have our materia medica before us accessible to all, and just as it was proposed in this journal (Allg. Hom. Zeit., 69, 12, 89, and American Hom. Review, Vol. V, p. 88), on the one hand historico-genetic monographs as the foundation of the science (American Hom. Review, p. 90); on the other hand the pure symptomatology in the encyclopaedic form as the foundation of the art. All of our contentions bring us not a step forward, and they tend, in spite of our thirty years' war, at the very best, only to a peace of Westphalia, that is, to a still greater distraction. The three editions of the Organon will certainly not unite us, but these two collections of the materia medica might at least render a sound and healthy criticism possible.

In the lottery to raise money for the completion of the tower of Cologne Cathedral, every ticket costs one dollar, and it is hoped that the two towers will be built simultaneously. In the enterprise for the building up of our two towers, each share is to cost five dollars. That is a difference to be sure; but on the other hand, there a building only is to be completed; here one is to be begun. And whereas there it may chance that one gets something; here everyone is sure of getting his portion. But to contribute to our enterprise is by no means to come over to our party; and one may contribute for no other reason than this, that he approves the simple accomplishment of an enterprise, solely that the thing may at last come into existence, and that the world may have it. But perhaps even this is asking too much; if so, then we must nurse it quietly until the world is ready to have. [D.]


Source: The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 06 No. 06, 1865, pages 201-206
Description: Sifting The Drug Symptoms.
Author: Hering, C.
Year: 1865
Editing: errors only; interlinks; formatting
Attribution: Legatum Homeopathicum
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