JOURNEY FROM SAXONY TO PARAMARIBO, SOUTH AMERICA, IN 1827. (Written by Dr. Hering while waiting in Amsterdam for the East Wind.)
It was on Oct. 10th, at noon that Weigel and I entered the stagecoach. The space about us was crammed with people. We felt in our new surroundings as must feel a peasant bride in her wedding outfit, scarcely knowing knowing how to move, yet compelled to do so constantly. The horses pulled us along, indifferent to all but their load, which concerned them far more than the burden that lay upon our hearts and minds.
I stopped off in Oschatz for a painful parting with Luise who would not listen to the word America, which, she said, would shatter all her hopes. Even the word Amsterdam sounded harshly to her ears. I had to let the matter rest there, although keeping silence pained me. Every thing seemed to conspire to keep me in Oschatz. Many things had to be done in Leipzig, where my companion, Weigel (a botanist appointed by the crown) was chafing at the delay. The passage money for the diligence had been paid. I had to hire a private conveyance; no other being available. There was sufficient time, when later. I arrived in Leipzig, to attend to my affairs and to deliver a letter to Plass.
It is well, when at parting, the gray threads in the fabric of care are shot through with the red of joyful anticipation, as was the case with us who were leaving. It is always those who remain behind that doubly feel the pain of separation. For us the burden was lighter; for our friends in Dresden, Oschatz and Leipzig it was heavier.
In the evening the leave taking in Leipzig was enlivened by a quarrel with the authorities over our firearms. There was plenty of room, for besides the main coach there were four extra wagons, nevertheless we were to be debarred from taking our rifles. The Prussian officer did not wish to shoulder the responsibility, and the matter had to be referred to his eminence, the Postmaster General of Saxony himself, who was willing to let us take our guns, but ruled that we must leave our dogs behind.
We started on journey. We occupied first places in one of the extra coaches. There was a scramble among the passengers. Weigel and I were to be separated, because armed as we were, to the teeth, with four guns, numbering five barrels, and two swords, we were accounted unsafe, and no one was willing to share our conveyance, to which we did not object in the least. For a while we harbored a Prussian officer, a major, who had missed the coach ahead in the scramble for seats.
He later gave a favorable report of us to the rest of the passengers. The caravan reminded one of a centipede, with a very rapid crawl. It had about fifty horses’ feet with which to cover the road. Its segmented body was equipped, in front, with a yellow head and chest, and whips for antennae. Its entrails, with ramifications, were represented by the twenty-four or twenty-five passengers inside the coaches. As Parasites, on its sides, rode five outriders on horseback; that these were suckers was shown at every stop.
In all the centipede numbered one hundred and ten legs, ten more than belong to the many jointed myriapod, commonly named hundred-legger. If at first we had a mathematical problem to solve, it was now a geographic one. Our journey took us through seven lordly domains. The second country we came to was Prussia, where, in Naumburg, where we had a longer stop, I received a warm welcome and godspeed. Stapf, a mainstay of our school of medicine, who was expecting me, according to appointment, was waiting.
Although in correspondence with him for a long time we had never met, and the time seemed all too short for this meeting, in the brief time allowed for the stopover. We had expected to arrive at midnight, but it was two o’clock when I alighted to look for my friend. I made out to see strangers, whom if I had known them I could not have recognized in the dark, there being no moon. My principal object in meeting Stapf was to obtain certain medicines which I needed to complete my outfit, and also to get his counsel about certain to be done for our cause. Furthermore there were medicines to reach me at the local postoffice, and possibly a letter.
Anxiety gripped me; for rather than be without my Hahnemannian medicines I would go without coat and pants. Nothing at the postoffice Furiously I demanded to see the postmaster, who was asleep. A postilion nearby asked: What is the matter? Why the hurry? Here is a package from Dr. Stapf for a traveler who is to come through. This must be the party, he said, pointing his finger at me. He had observed me with my cap off, my mantle over my ears, under it gun and hunting knife, a terrifying object.
At this moment a man slightly stooped, simply dressed, of scholarly appearance, with a box under his arm, stepped forward saying: Surely you must be Dr. Hering? That I am; and you, Dr. Stapf My dear friend, said he What a solemn first meeting with so soon a parting What an enormous undertaking, this journey, what gain, very great gain, and what danger in a thousand ways But come; come quickly.
As we walked through the dark streets, our voices made us acquainted, our faces being revealed but in shadowy outlines. At his home my friend provided me with the medicines I had asked for in my letter, with several more, all genuine and of the best preparations, carefully packed and ready for the long journey. All I had to give in return was promises, thanks and some observations for his advice. Doubtful things were cleared up. Uncertain matters corroborated. But more of this for a later page.
With all the worries and anxieties the prospect of leaving home had caused me, my heart was made glad by meeting face to face a great man, like Stapf, whom I had thus far only been able to admire form a distance. To me this was the crowning point: that words such as he spoke would illuminate whatever of darkest night might come over me.
It was granted me, at the last moment before leaving, to receive a greeting from another, from Hahnemann himself, who stands, and ever will stand high above all of us, our master, the man foremost, not only in his century, but in the history of a thousand years. All of what has been ridiculed, pitifully derided, proclaimed as folly, most of it childish prattle, shall not hinder me from doing honour to the man who is pitted against the world of superstition, and this flame shall forever be kept alive within me, May I be denounced should I have said one word too many Gladly will I bear all the scorn that may be heaped upon me.
It will be but an infinitesimal part of the mountains of mud that they have tried to pile upon his name. To be blessed and victorious in him will forever make life happy for me. My heart’s desires, the intense longings in my soul, ever glowing with a warmer love, will find consummation in his service, in giving to the world what he intends. With all knowledge bestowed upon mankind there can be no other, none greater for me than he, until death. There can be nothing wider or higher than the heavens and what belongs therein. Often, have I not only felt and spoken this, but have put it in writing, as I do now, and will continue to do.
It was fitting that in darkest night, under the roof of heaven, this greeting was brought to me by one whose heart beats in joyous union with mine. The words were: Hahnemann sends you his heartfelt greeting; gives you his blessing and wishes you Godspeed. Twice he told it to me; a third time and I would have embraced him, but the time had come to enter the stagecoach. It seemed to me as though the dark night had suddenly become illuminated by this message, received through my friend Stapf. It was like a benediction upon my head, and my feet seemed to touch consecrated ground. More greetings in Weimar, and a parcel. Oken had sent a book on botany, and to add to my pleasure there was a letter from home.
We stopped over in Frankfort from six in the evening of the fifteenth, until six in the evening of the seventeenth. Much enjoyment was crowded into the forty-eight hours. I took my passports to secretary von Carlowitz who received them with exclamations of delight when he saw the signatures upon them of a dear friend, whose name has escaped me. Ah said he, the signature of my very dear N.N. I must introduce you to the ambassador. I made apology for my coat and shoes. Not the slightest bit of different. You have come from my dear N.N. Here his handwriting, the dear man Come as you are; you are on a journey. His handwriting I will show your passports to the ambassador and acquaint him with your wishes. Your hand in welcome
I was kindly received by the Minister of foreign affairs, who was politeness itself, without any show of formality. His excellency, as also some of the servants in his house, claimed knowledge of Frau Blum, my landlady in Dresden. His Grace had the faculty of extracting information without the least discourtesy. We were invited to dinner. My friend Weigel, occupied with affairs of botany, declined the invitation. I went and enjoyed a perfect afternoon.