This article had been taken from lesser writings of Hahnemann and it gives an insight into the life and learning of this great and good man from each sphere of life….


[The following article by Hahnemann gives an insight into the life and learning of this great and good man that may be read with interest and profit] :

I lately paid a visit to one of my relatives. Our conversation soon turned upon my favorite subject, children. My fair cousin (her husband very properly left her to speak) talked like a book about physical education, and made me very desirous to see her young family.

She led me to the corridor at the back of the house that abutted on the courtyard, and opened the door of a dark, low receptacle full of disgusting smells, which she informed me was her nursery. A steaming tub, in which dirty linen was soaking, stool in the front of the room surrounded by some low washerwomen, whose unmannerly chattering polluted the ear as the vapor from the dirty hot water did the lungs. The steam, condensed into drops, ran down the window panes.

I expressed to my fair cousin my incredulity as to the utility of this arrangement, and hinted how much the emanations from the clothes that were being washed must deteriorate the air the little ones had to breathe, how the excessive humidity thereby engendered relaxed all the fibres of our bodies and must consequently be doubly injurious to children of a tender age.

“Do you really mean to say,” cried she, “that washing causes any pollution? I’m sure I see no dirt made by it, and a little moisture can’t do much harm.”

“I allude to the invisible, but very injurious deterioration of the air, the bad effects of which on such delicate creatures as children are you must have heard of.”

“Oh!” she replied, “I fumigate occasionally with juniper berries, and they soon remove all impurities.”

I now perceived that a learned demonstration of the difference betwixt the properties of azotic gas and pure oxygen, although they differ but slightly in odor and not at all in appearance, would have been quite incomprehensible to my dear cousin, nor could I hope to make her understand how a prolonged sojourn in impure air acted as a slow poison on animal life, especially at a tender age, and how impossible it was that children could enjoy even tolerable health in such an atmosphere and so forth. Neither did I venture to speak of the quality of humidity that was imperceptibly taken up by the warm air of the room from the scalding water, and equally imperceptibly absorbed by the open mouths of the absorbent vessels in the child’s soft body, whereby the natural exhalations were obstructed. Nor did I attempt to prove to her by the syllogyism in Barbara, though I had it on my scholastic tongue, that fumigation with juniper berries and such like things would rather tend to phlogisticate and deteriorate the air, but could never transform the impure air into vital gas. However, as I have said, I luckily suppressed my logical refutation that was about to burst forth, and endeavored to bring forward some argumentum and hominem.

“It is possible,” I said, “that I may be mistaken, and that you, my esteemed cousin, contrary to all expectations, are in the right in supposing that the frequent repetition of a washing festival in a nursery, together with the exhalations that arise from the blankets hung to dry near the stove there, may be without any unfavorable influence on the health of children, and I shall give up my point at once when you produce me your dear little children, who doubtless are very lively and stout.” “Produce them,” she replied, “I cannot, but you may see them yourself back there. I don’t know what ails my poor Freddy yonder; he is nine years old, but cannot walk well without his crutches.”

At these words a little miserable looking figure crawled towards us with difficulty. His knees were bent inwards and his legs completely destitute of muscle. His head, drawn backwards, stuck betwixt his shoulders; his face was pale and withered; his eyes dull, but projecting beyond the prominent forehead. His large ears stuck out; his nostrils were expanded; his broad tongue always hung partially out of his half-open mouth. His emaciated arms could scarcely support him on his crutches. He soon returned panting to his little armchair to rest himself after this slight exertion. I involuntarily shrugged my shoulders and heard a deep sigh.

A mixed feeling of gratitude to God and profound pity took possession of me as I called my own rosy-cheeked Fritz to my side and bade him shake hands with this innocent victim if a false and injurious method of bringing up children. My little urchin kissed this poor object affectionately, and asked him what it was he drank out of the large jug beside him. “My afternoon coffee,” was his reply, and at the same time he poured out a cup for my boy, who, however, refused it, as he was not in the habit of drinking things he was not acquainted with.

“You do not seem to approve of that,” said my cousin, “but what else can the child drink; it is the only thing that seems to do him good; he cannot enjoy anything else?”

“Do him good?” I hastily asked, in a paroxysm of half suppressed, but extreme anger–and I turned away from the odious sight.

Oh! what an inclination I felt to give this unhappy mother a severe lecture, and to show her that a drink which sets out blood in agitation, whilst in exalts the irritability of our muscular fibre to such a degree as in course of time to render it quite lax and to weaken it so that it trembles–which gradually exhausts our vital heat–which, possessing to nutritive properties in itself, unnaturally stifles hunger and thirst, and which communicates a false overstrained liveliness to its votaries, who are often reduced to the last stage of weakness that, like a transient intoxication, leaves behind it an opposite state of the nervous system–how injurious such a drink must be for the delicate child, endowed as it is with great irritability, and how impossible it is that such a badly-treated creature can become anything but rachitic and cachectic in the last degree–a shriveled diminutive of a human being, for whom death were the most desirable lot.

With all of these evident truths I should have wished to fan the smouldering spark of a mother’s love in her breast, but I refrained from so doing because it occurred to me that coffee was the favorite beverage of mamma herself; so suppressing my feelings I mildly gave her to understand that in my opinion coffee should only be an occasional beverage for persons above forty of age, or employed in certain cases as medicine.

“I suppose, my censorious cousin,” was her reply, “you would be for depriving the little creature yonder at the table of her favorite food?”

It was some kind of confectionery which the girl, three years old, who could not stand on her legs and could not be taught to walk, was swallowing with a degree of greediness that excited my disgust and horror. This pale, bloated creature had a rattling at the chest, slavered at the mouth, had a dull look, a projecting abdomen, and, as I learned, little sleep, and a perpetual diarrhoea, whereby, my cousin assured me, all impurities of the body were discharged.

I begged her to try whether she herself would remain in good health if she were constantly eating sweet things, and if she would not get sour eructations, worms, deficient or excessive appetite and diarrhoea, and, if so, how much more the delicate stomach of a child, who was incapable of taking exercise, and in whom there was a natural tendency to acidity.

This seemed to make some impression on her, especially when I begged her to try the strength of my home-made vinegar, which was made of sugar and yeast alone.

“I wish you would advise me what to do for the miserable skeleton yonder in the cradle at the side of the stove; it has constant cold sweats, it does not sleep, and is always crying as if it were on the rack. It has fits occasionally. I wish God would mercifully take it to Himself, it sufferings are so heart- rending to witness. I have already buried three boys, peace be with them! they all died teething. The little fellow has been about his teeth these three months; he is always putting his little hands to his mouth. I only trust he has not got into this state from the evil eye of some bad people, as my mother-in-law confidently asserts be the case; it was she who tied the scarlet rags around its little hands. They are said to be good for bewitchment. She also often fumigates with nine kinds of wood.”

“What harm,” I replied, “could the poor, innocent child have done to the bad people? Where are these bad people that possess the power of make ill by a few words a healthy child, fed moderately on wholesome food and strengthened by exercise in the open air and cleanliness? I am perfectly convinced, ” I continued, with some bitterness, caused by the sight of so much misery, “I am convinced that if you left off letting the poor child such such a quantity of chewed bread from that bag, whereby its stomach is made sour and overloaded; if you would clean and dry it often enough, so that all the stench I observe about its cradle were removed; if you would not cover it up so warm, would wash it all over every day with cold water and take it away from the unnatural heat of the stove; if you would send it, or, better take it yourself frequently into the open air, would never give it unwholesome food, nor overload its stomach with the most wholesome–the little creature might still be able to enjoy life, it would not have to whine so much at all the misery you heap upon it and which you attribute to teething and witchcraft; it would become healthy and lively; in a word, it would be to you a source of joy, and not, as now, one of sorrow. Believe me, teething diseases are almost impossible, almost unheard of among quite healthy children; this name is a mere invention of ignorant persons, and is applied by them to children’s diseases which they know nothing about, and the blame of which they lay upon nature, whereas they are in reality the fault of the mothers, the nurses and the doctors!

Thomas C. Duncan
Thomas C.Duncan, M.D., Ph.D., LL.D. Consulting Physician to the Chicago Foundlings' Home.
Editor of The United States Medical Investigator. Member of the Chicago Paedological Society. First President of the American Paedological Society Author of: Diseases of infants and children, with their homoeopathic treatment. Published 1878 and Hand book on the diseases of the heart and their homeopathic treatment. by Thomas C. Duncan, M.D. Published 1898