Hahnemann at Leipsic University

They are making all preparations, to transmute Torgau into a big and terrible fortress, in which my family is not likely to live in peace. I have to sell my dear and comfortable freehold house and move to Leipsic….



Hahnemann wrote to von Villers (“Leipz.Pop.Zeitschr. f. Hom.,” 1880. 11 year, page 47): Torgau, January 30th, 1811.

Another few words from me. I am living (now nearly fifty-six years old) surrounded by my family which is very dear to me–a wife of exceptional kindness, and seven happy, almost grown-up daughters, who are well educated, obedient and innocent, they take every care of me, and brighten my life (also with music). I am nearly always able to heal quickly and prematurely any patients entrusted to my care, and in that way make many people happy, through the Grace of Him Who made the remedies and put them in my hands. Am I not to be envied? But, see, they are making all preparations, to transmute Torgau into a big and terrible fortress, in which my family is not likely to live in peace. I have to sell my dear and comfortable freehold house and move hence–undecided–where? You see, dear friend, in this way the all-wise Providence puts sorrow on the other side of the scales, if the first is to hold such a full measure.


The Dissertation on Venia Legendi has the following title: Dissertatio historico-medica de Helleborismo veterum Quam Gratiosi medicorum ordinis auctoritate in auditorio maiori D. XXVI Junii MDCCCXII defendet auctor Samuel Hahnemann Medicinae et chirurgiae Doctor acad. Moguntinae scientiar utilium societies phys. med. Erlang. et societ.

regiae oeconom. quae Lipsiae floret sodalis honorarius Respondente Frederico Hahnemann filio art. lib. Mag. etc. med. bacc.

Lipsiae impressit Carolus Tauchnitz.

English: Historic-medicinal essay on treatment and cure with Hellebore of the Ancients.

Delivered by kind permission of the medical faculty in the large Audience Hall, on June 26th, 1812, defended by the author Samuel Hahnemann, doctor of medicine and surgery, honorary member of the Society of applied sciences at Mayence, of the physical and medical Society of Erlangen, of the Royal economic Society, which flourishes in Leipsic; it will be answered by his son Fredrick Hahnemann, Master of Arts and Bachelor of Medicine [Student who is just about to take his examinations for his Doctor’s degree– R.H.). Leipsic, printed by Karl Tauchnitz.

The essay consisted of 86 pages. After a short introduction Hellebore is described as a remedy in insanity and as an emetic; “helleborosus,” one who require much Hellebore is not in his right mind. Then are considered consecutively: the initial use of Hellebore as a medicine; Hellebore as the oldest remedy, especially as a purgative, proved by the testimony of ancient writers. Then follows an investigation into the question, whether Helleborus albus is the same plant as our Veratrum album. Hahnemann answers this in the affirmative, for the healing properties of both are not only similar but identical. (Proof: the testimony of many earlier and recent physicians).

Then are named the districts in Greece where Hellebore grows best, and the characteristics of especially good plants are enumerated. The description of the repeated medicinal use in the majority of cases of chronic diseases is proved with examples of important cases.

After that is shown, when Hellebore was first used and to what extent; further, at what time of the year, against what kinds of diseases, and for what types of people Hellebore was used by the ancients, when according to their ideas it was advantageous and when injurious; the preparation of the patient before using it; the way in which Veratrum album should be employed; what the Ancients mixed with Veratrum as a remedy; what to do for the condition of vomiting which regularly followed its use; the curing of the unfavourable and serious symptoms which arise from the effects of Veratrum. It concludes with some remarks on Helleborus niger.

In the professional criticism this essay met with approval without-as can be well understood-paying too much attention to it. It was not a polemical writing, and therefore had disappointed all parties in their expectations, as much those who had hoped for a new fundamental precept in the homoeopathic sense as also those who had expected further violent attacks on the old medical science. As neither the one nor the other day before them they passed quickly over this profoundly scientific work. Yet the reviewer writes in the “Medorrhinum Chir. Ztg.,” Supplement 192, page 234:

Although the effects of Veratrum may not be as helpful, as the author believes, there remains yet another merit, that is, the historical compilation of all the methods of treatment with available dates, and in this way the complete historical representation belongs entirely to the author; such a work as the one before us is all the more interesting as similar works are very rare. The earliest traces of the use of Veratrum album can be followed back to 1500 B.C.

And in the “Allgem. med. Annales” of the nineteenth century, 1812, page 1053, another reviewer says that the dissertation is “an interesting contribution to the history of medical science, diligently collected and estimated with a critical spirit.” A third one calls it (in Augustin, Wissensch. Ubersetz. der ges. med-chir. Literature, 1812, page 337), “a very thorough essay.”

That must hold good, even to-day, when we consider the authors and sources of knowledge that Hahnemann mentions in his writing. From Hippocrates, the famous Aesculapius of antiquity (460-377 B.C.) the chain goes uninterruptedly on to Antyllus (Greek surgeon at the end of the third or beginning of the fourth century, handed down by Oribasius), then to Aretaeus (Greek physician of Kappadocia, at the end of the first, or early in the second century, who is considered the best observer of diseases after Hippocrates), on again to Claudius Galenus, the most renowned physician of antiquity after Hippocrates (died 31 A.D.), and then passing over to the Oriental Mesue, of whom Hahnemann, himself, says in an annotation, he–who lived under the reign of the Caliph Harun Af-Raschid, about the year 800-was a man of such importance that he has been child the Evangelist of the physicians. At his side is put Avicenna Ibn Sina, born 980, near Buchara, died 1037, at Hamadan, who is considered the greatest Oriental medical man. And so the line continues on to Theophrastus Paracelsus (born 1493, died 1541) down to the recognised great ones of the profession such as Haller and others. Then naturalists and historians are included, thus Herodotus (500 B.C.), Ktesias (400 B.C.), Plinius (79 A.D.), Pausanias (160 A.D.); an extensive and collective list of scientists of all times and all nations!



Dr. Huck wrote to a friend (Albrecht, Hahnemann’s Life and Work, page 30): Lutzen, August 9th, 1812.

Dear Friend,

Though I do not usually like to talk to anyone about one of the greatest thinkers of all the centuries, yet I gladly write to you about the man who, by evident proofs of his great ability, has in a short time wholly won over to himself the unprejudiced portion of the medical as well as the other scientists of Leipsic. To hear Hahnemann, the keenest and boldest investigator of nature, deliver a masterpiece of his intellect and industry, was to me a truly beatific enjoyment. I drove back home to my own town as if in a dream, and was desolate as I was obliged to acknowledged to myself, “You are not worthy to loose the latchets of his shoes.” He will deliver private lectures at Michaelmas. I shall be a student next year again, and if exceptional circumstances do not prevent it, will see what I can derive from this wonderful source. If Hahnemann would stoop to act contrary to his noble character and play the hypocrite, like so many other seemingly great men, even the most renowned physicians of Leipsic would be obliged to lower their pretentions. The strongest of his opponents were so courteous as to acknowledge that they were wholly of his opinion, medically speaking, and they thought that if anyone wished to say anything he would be obliged to discuss the matter philologically. He covered himself with renowned he remained victor.

Had it not been a very unsuitable time to look for him on that day, I would have gone to him, and should have voluntarily and unconditionally betaken myself to his banner.




Dr. Franz Hartmann, a pupil and friend of Hahnemann during his sojourn in Leipsic, tells us about Hahnemann’s lectures at Leipsic University (“Allg. hom. Ztg.” 1844, Vol. 26, page 182):

I cannot hide that Hahnemann presented, from his arrival to his departure from the lecture room, such a peculiar appearance, that would have taken men of his own type of mind and age, to look seriously into his eyes; but for the fact that young minds and particularly cheery students, are easily stimulated to laughter at the slightest provocation, and easily find reasons and look for them, it would have been impossible to demand a serious demeanour.

However imposing and commanding respect, Hahnemann’s external appearance was in his simple study, with his upright carriage, his firm step, his plain way of dressing, just as much was his appearance grotesque for this one hour: even he seemed to enjoy himself, and was trying to draw attention in a genial way. Think of the tension of the audience before his arrival, who as yet did not know the enthusiastic reformer, or, perhaps were rubbing their hands in joyous anticipation of the volcanic eruptions-and you will tender forgiveness for the smile, when you hear the outer door open and hear his step in the adjacent room, where he remains standing at the door, clears his throat, and then turns the key round twice in the lock; the door which is usually locked is seen to open, and a man enters of middle height and strong build; the few hairs of the thoughtful head are carefully curled and powdered, inspiring respect for his advanced age, which would have been apparent even if the bald crown and white hair had not been powdered; add to that the beautiful white linen round the neck and on the chest. The black waistcoat and the short black trousers; on the button of the latter was fastened the strap of his shining black top boots, above which appeared the finest white stockings. Think of this figure as after three measured steps he gives an almost imperceptible nod of the head as a sign of greeting, then takes three more steps and having arrived at his chair, in front of which is a little table, he sits down with pathos after removing carefully the shining tails of his coat, opens the book, takes out his watch and puts it on the table before him, then clears his throat, reads the respective paragraph with ordinary voice, but becomes more ecstatic during his explanations, with shining and sparkling eyes, and great redness of the forehead and face–I ask how could it be possible to keep a serious face in front of such a Spanish grandezza which appears in the same way every time; in young years when one is inclined to ridicule everything and not even spare old age?



Dr. Fr. Hartmann tells us from his own experience, of the family gatherings at Hahnemann’s own house (“Allg. hom. Ztg.” 1844, Vol. 26, page 183):

We often had an opportunity of admiring the amicability with which he charmed us all when we made part of his family. There sat the silver-haired old man, with his high arched, thoughtful brow, his bright, piercing eyes, and calm searching countenance, in the midst of us, as among his children, who likewise participated in those evening entertainments. Here he showed plainly that the serious exterior which he exhibited in every day life, belonged only to his deep and constant search after the goal which he had set himself, but was in no respect the mirror of his interior, the bright side of which so readily unfolded itself on suitable occasions in its fairest light, and the mirthful humour, the familiarity and openness, the wit that he displayed were alike engaging.


How comfortable the master felt in the circle of his beloved and his friends, among whom he numbered not only his pupils but also the learned of other faculties, who did homage to his learning; how beneficial was the recreation which he then allowed himself after eight o’clock in the evening seated in his arm chair wearing his velvet cap and dressing-gown, with a glass of light Leipsic white beer and his pipe. It was highly interesting at such times to see him become cheerful, as he related the procedure of the older physicians at the sick bed, when with an animated countenance he moved the little cap to and fro upon his head, and puffed out clouds of tobacco smoke, which enveloped him like a fog; when he spoke of his deeply affecting life and related circumstances of it, his pipe often went out, and one of his daughters was then instantly required to light it again. He liked to converse especially on objects of the natural sciences or on conditions of foreign countries and their inhabitants, and he appeared displeased when in these hours his advice was sought in cases of disease. He was then either laconic, or called out to the patients in a friendly way “tomorrow on this subject,” not in order to put the matter aside, but because he was too tired to speak on serious subjects, for often he would refer to the question raised, during his consulting hours on the following day, and stood by with his kind advice. He liked to see people express their opinion openly, even if they contradicted him, and occasionally he would surrender his opinion to that of his opponent.

And after describing the simple life of Hahnemann’s family, to which we shall refer again, Dr. Hartmann continues:

Perhaps the suppers which were given once or twice a year by Hahnemann to his pupils formed a suitable means of bringing a little change into this monotonous way of living, but he never invited any but those who distinguished themselves through diligence, intelligence and strict morality. During these supper parties things were not altogether homoeopathic, for although I can vouch for a perfect simplicity of the food served, yet instead of white beer, a good wine was provided, of which, however, out of deference to the Master only a moderate amount was consumed. At these entertainments Hahnemann, on the one side and his wife on the other, separated his family from the guests (five daughters; his son and two married daughters were no longer at home). Joyous humour and wit dominated these gatherings, and the desire to laugh was unending, for as a rule other talented men were invited. Here Hahnemann was the most cheerful man, even entering into the pranks of the others, yet without offending propriety, or making any one present the target of his jokes. When the meal was ended a pipe was smoked, and about 11 o’clock the gathering dispersed.



Dr. Franz Hartmann, a member of this Provers’ Union (which from the beginning consisted of Stapf, Gross, Hornburg, Franz, Wislicenus, Teuthorn, Herrmann, Ruckert, Langhammer, and Hartmann) tells us of these provings in the “Allg. hom. Ztg.” (Vol. 38, No. 19 and 20, year 1850):

I went to Leipsic University at eighteen years of age (1814) and after the first quarter was introduced to Hahnemann’s more intimate circle of pupils, by the oldest friend of my childhood, Hornburg. Unlearned as we yet were in medicine, and still more so in the proper method of proving drugs, there was nothing left for him–Hahnemann–but to teach us first, and to instruct us minutely in the course we were to pursue, in every respect; this he did in a few words, yet in the clearest and most perceptible manner, as follows:

The human body in the years when it has attained a development nearly complete, is the least exposed to sickness from transient influence, or from the deprivation of its accustomed food, because the powers of life existing in their integrity over power any injurious effects from such causes before they can make any progress; hence, in the case of young persons, a long preparatory course is not necessary before proving a drug; a resolute determination alone is requisite to avoid everything which may tend to disturb the process. During such a proving he absolutely forbade coffee, tea, wine, brandy and all other heating drinks, as well as spices, such as pepper, ginger also strongly salted foods and acids. He did not forbid the use of the light white and brown Leipsic beer. He cautioned us against close and continued application to study, or reading novels, as well as against many games which exercised not merely the imagination, but which required continued thought, such as hazard, cards, chess, or billiards, by which observation was disturbed and rendered untrustworthy. He was far from considering idleness as necessary, but advised moderate labour only, agreeable conversation, with walking in the open air, temperance in eating and drinking, early rising; for a bed he recommended a mattress with light covering.

The medicines which were to be proved he gave us himself; the vegetables in the form of essence or tincture-the others in the first or second trituration. He never concealed from us the names of the drugs which were to be proved, and his wish that we should in the future prepare all the remedies whose effects we had while students conscientiously tried, fully convinced us that in this respect he had never deceived us. Since he for the most part had previously proved the drugs upon himself and his family, he was sufficiently acquainted with their strength and properties to prescribe for each prover according to his individuality, the number of drops or grains with which he might commence, without experiencing any injurious effects. The dose to be taken was mixed with a great quantity of water, that it might come in contact with a greater surface than would be possible with an undiluted drug; it was taken early in the morning, fasting, and nothing was eaten for an hour. If no effect was experienced in three or four hours, a few more drops were to be taken; the dose might even be doubled, and the reckoning of time was to begin from the last dose; the same was the case where the drug was to be taken for the third time. If, upon the third repetition, no change was remarked, Hahnemann concluded that the organism was not susceptible to this agent, and did not require the prover to make any further experiments with it, but after several days gave him another drug to prove. In order to note down every symptom which presented itself, he required each one to carry a tablet and lead pencil with him, which had this advantage, that we could describe with precision the sensation (pain) which we had experienced at the time, while this precision might be lost if these sensations were noted down at same subsequent period. Every symptom that presented itself must be given in its connection, even though the most heterogeneous symptoms were thus coupled together; but our directions were still more precise; after every symptoms we must specify in brackets, the time of its occurrence, which time was reckoned from the last dose. It was only when one or two days had passed without the occurrence of any symptoms that Hahnemann supposed the action of the drug to be exhausted, he then allowed the system a time to rest before another proving was undertaken. He never took the symptoms which we gave him for true and faithful, but always reviewed them once with us, to be sure that we had used just the right expressions and signs, and had said neither too much nor too little. At first it often happened that there were errors, but these became fewer with every proving, and finally there were none at all. At least with those who understood the importance of the matter, and who therefore took these provings sufficiently seriously. In this matter I could always pride myself, and can therefore even now rely firmly upon my own symptoms.

It is an art of its own, this proving of medicines, and it is not as easy as it appears, because it requires a particular kind of attention to grasp properly the symptoms which could only be felt faintly, and these are often just the most important, the really characteristic ones, and of much greater significance than those which set in more violently. The former set in as a rule only after small, delicate doses, while the latter owe their onset to the stronger doses. Another thing which I experienced myself, was that, I rarely could count upon the symptoms after a second, or third, stronger dose, if the first had passed without any traces to symptoms; but if after the first dose only faint symptoms made themselves felt, I could rely with certainty that with every hour they would become more prominently developed and more characteristic. More than once I thought of accentuating their clearness by a second more powerful dose, but I deceived myself almost every time and had frequently to experience, to my sorrow, that no more symptoms showed themselves.

Many of Hahnemann’s pupils continued later with their proving when in general practice, by which means they remained in touch with the Master.

Richard Haehl
Richard M Haehl 1873 - 1932 MD, a German orthodox physician from Stuttgart and Kirchheim who converted to homeopathy, travelled to America to study homeopathy at the Hahnemann College of Philadelphia, to become the biographer of Samuel Hahnemann, and the Secretary of the German Homeopathic Society, the Hahnemannia.

Richard Haehl was also an editor and publisher of the homeopathic journal Allgemcine, and other homeopathic publications.

Haehl was responsible for saving many of the valuable artifacts of Samuel Hahnemann and retrieving the 6th edition of the Organon and publishing it in 1921.
Richard Haehl was the author of - Life and Work of Samuel Hahnemann