The grape cure; the bread-and-wine cure, did no better. Nor did diet and change help me.

However, when I was studying what the peculiar people called homoeopaths have to say about their Bryonia alba, and its affinity for serous membranes, I what?-abused them and called them quacks? No!-I bought some Bryonia alba, and took it as they recommended, and in a fortnight my side was well, and has never troubled me since!

There, friend, that is my second reason for being a homoeopath, and when I cease to be grateful to dear old Hahnemann for his Bryonia, may my old pleural trouble return to remind me of the truth of his teaching.

What you and the world in general may think of it I care not one straw: I speak well of the bridge that carried me over.

For my part, I make but one demand of medicine, and one only, viz. that it shall cure! The pathy that will cure is the pathy for me. For of your fairest pathy I can but say-

What care I how fair she be,

If she be not fair to me?


You can have what opinion you like of my old pleuritis affection : I had the wretched thing till I took Bryonia, and I have never had it since. Myself, I am sweetly content with my second reason for being a homoeopath. I never said the remedy was first used by the homoeopaths; that is not of the essence of my proposition.

Since going over into the homoeopathic camp, I have often had to treat pleurisy : that you will not find it difficult to believe. Aconite and Bryonia are the big-guns of the homoeopaths for pleurisy, but I will remark, as the outcome of my own experience, that it is only in what I would call.


that they really hit the mark. Let me relate such a case to you as my third reason for being a homoeopath.

Some years since I was suddenly summoned to the suburban house of a city merchant, who had caught a chill two evenings before on returning from a political meeting. When I arrived, an exquisite case of pleurisy, pleuritis rheumatica, presented itself.

The gentleman’s wife informed me that she was much exercised in her mind, as many friends had strongly urged her not to have Homoeopathy in such a serious case. All very well, said they, perhaps, for women and children, but she surely was not going to risk her dear husband’s life in the hands of a homoeopathic practitioner? No, she would have Dr. X., who lived near by. But though, as a rule, L’homme propose et la femme dispose, in this case if was the other way about. The husband flatly refused any other than homoeopathic treatment, and hence my presence. He was in a raging and much pain, and merely moaned, “Doctor, give me relief from this pain, and procure me some sleep.”

I gave Aconite and Bryonia-strong.

Next day he was already a little round the corner, and not in much pain, unless he incautiously turned. “Doctor,” said he, “my friend Mr.-in-road over yonder, has, I am told, something of the same thing as I have, only more in the shoulder, and he has sent to me to beg me to give you up, and have his medical man, who liver near by, and who is considered a very clever man-what am I to say?” I replied, “Tell him from me that I shall have you well in your city office in a few days at work, and that on your way home from the city you may call, and you will still find HIM ill, and then you can tell him your experience, and compare notes!”

And so it happened, in a few days-I do not remember the exact number-my patient went to his city office, did a small amount of work, and on returning home called on or sent to his said friend, who was still in great pain, and remained so for some time.


Your note would infer that I was not dealing in my last letter with a case of true pleurisy.

Given a man who had pleurisy himself twice: who laboured twelve weeks in bed therewith; who went about all his student life with a painful sequel of pleurisy; who read all he could find in literature on pleurisy; who listened to lectures by Skoda on pleurisy for weeks together with personal interest; who saw scores of cases of pleurisy while walking the hospitals; who was, as it happened, examined at his “final” on pleurisy; and who, in his own subsequent practice, has treated very many cases of pleurisy-I am that man!.

Well, now I must give you my fourth reason for being a homoeopath. The gentleman referred to in my last letter (my patient’s friend), after he got over his acute sufferings went to a specialist for gout, but was still so stiffened in his shoulder and side that he was not able to do his office duty, and after remaining faithfully under his own doctor for a further period and still not getting well, finally-What? Came to me! And what next? Bryonia alba, Chelidonium majus, and Sulphur, cured him in a few weeks.

It seems to me that Aconite and Bryonia alone, if well studied and rightly used, would covert the whole world to Homoeopathy, at least I see no escape for any honest unprejudiced man.

But prejudice is well-nigh almighty. As Bolingbroke says, “It may sound oddly, but it is true, in many cases, that if men had learned less, their way to knowledge would be shorter and easier. It is, indeed, shorter and easier to proceed from ignorance to knowledge than from error. They who are in the last must unlearn before they can learn to any good purpose; and the first part of this double task is not in many respects the least difficult, for which reason it is seldom undertaken.”

Did you understand anything about Homoeopathy I would explain to you why I gave the Bryonia, why it was followed by Chelidonium, and why Sulphur had to be interposed; as you are, however, ignorant, you must take it empirically.


I leave you to study the wider therapeutic bearings of Aconite in common feverishness and as a preventive of inflammatory localizings, and also the specific elective affinity of the white Bryonia for the serous membranes. as exemplified in my own case, as well as in the other tow; I did not promise you didactic lectures on the various points I bring forward, but only my Fifty Reasons. So now for my fifth: it is this-Homoeopathy lifts me at one stroke from the dependent position of a groping journeyman healer of disease to the proud position of a master of the healing art. Let me exemplify by quoting almost in full a case I once published, under this heading :- ON THE USE OF CHLORAL HYDRATE IN LETHARGIC SOMNOLENCY

Those who have watched old chloral-eaters may have noticed that they slowly get lethargic, somnolent, and listless. Towards the end of the chapter of chronic chloralism there is a condition of fatty degeneration of a slow, lazy type, and the very mode of death seems peculiar. I have seen a case where the subject of chronic chloralism lay for days a-dying; she was for several days so that it was very difficult to determine whether she was dead or not.

Occasionally one comes across a remarkable case of somnolence, and then the narcotics are to be thought of by the therapeutist.

I will shortly relate two such cases from my own practice.

No.I. A lady about forty-five years of age, stout, fresh- looking and the mother of a family, was the subject of remark of her friends, on account of her lethargy and sleepiness. Her weakness was such that even crossing the street was almost impossible; the weakness was peculiarly lethargic, a kind of listless heaviness. She was almost constantly asleep; she would get up in the morning after a good night’s rest and, even while dressing, she seemed compelled to sit down, and no sooner seated but she would fall asleep. This state of things went on for weeks and months, and her allopathic adviser did his best in vain. After she came under my care I tried first Arnica and then Opium, with but indifferent success, when all at once I bethought me of the great similarity of the case before me to that of a confirmed old chloral-eater of my clientele.

Chloral in a low dilution cured my patient, and she again became brisk, active and wide awake.

No. 2. An elderly lady came under my care on April 21st, 1881, for lethargy, languor, and somnolence.

R Trit. 2x Chloral hydrat., 6 grains in water every three hours. May 7th. Under this date I find these notes in my case book : “Feels a different creature; vastly improved; less lethargic, and decidedly less languid.”

She then got the third decimal trituration in lieu of the second, and only two doses a day, and then needed no further treatment, as she subsequently informed me when calling with her husband.

Now you can see what I mean : I had before me cases that would not readily fit into any nosological cadre, and yet I was enabled to treat the case en maitre. This is therapeutic independence which I love, and affords, as I submit, a very sound reason indeed for being a homoeopath.

Had I not so many more reasons to give I should very much like to dilate on this transcendental advantage of Homoeopathy: its law is a guide in the darkest disease; of this more in my next.


What I mean in my fifth reason requires to be insisted upon a little more, that you may perceive my meaning the more clearly. I said Homoeopathy raises one from the dependent position of a journeyman therapeutist to that of a master.

James Compton Burnett
James Compton Burnett was born on July 10, 1840 and died April 2, 1901. Dr. Burnett attended medical school in Vienna, Austria in 1865. Alfred Hawkes converted him to homeopathy in 1872 (in Glasgow). In 1876 he took his MD degree.
Burnett was one of the first to speak about vaccination triggering illness. This was discussed in his book, Vaccinosis, published in 1884. He introduced the remedy Bacillinum. He authored twenty books, including the much loved "Fifty Reason for Being a Homeopath." He was the editor of The Homoeopathic World.