TWO OF HAHNEMANN’S LETTERS TO DR. STAPF ON THE PROVING OF MEDICINES.
Stapf, physician of Naumberg, was one of the first disciples of Hahnemann.
Leipsic, 3rd September, 1813. (Stapf’s Archiv, Vol. 21, Part I, p.156.)
You are right, that the aggravation caused by a medicine most probably indicates, that the prescribed medicine has the power of exciting these symptoms of itself. We must not, however, incorporate such symptoms in the list of the purely positive effect of medicine, at least not in writing. We can only bear them in mind in order to give them due attention, should they occur pure (that is, not having been there previously) on using the same medicine.
When I propose anything for proving, I will take care that it is nothing which will ruin health, and so prepared that it will not affect you too violently; for we are not entitled to do injury to ourselves. I send you along with this some tincture of pure Helleborus niger, which I gathered myself. Each drop contains only one twentieth grain of the root. Any day when you are well, and have no very urgent business, and are not eating any medicinal substances (such as parsley or horse-radish, etc.) with your mid-day meal, take one drop of this to eight ounces of water, and a scruple of alcohol (to prevent its decomposition during the time of using it), shake it briskly, and take one ounce before breakfast; and so every hour and a half, or two hours another ounce, as long as you are not too severely affected by what you take. But should severe symptoms set in, which I am not afraid of, you may take some drops of tincture of Camphor in one ounce of water, or more if necessary, and this will allay the symptoms.
After all the effects of the Hellebore have subsided, I wish you to try the effects of Camphor alone (it is a divine remedy). About two grains dissolved in a scruple of alcohol, and shaken with eight ounces of water, are to be taken four or six times a day, with similar precautions as the other.
In another letter to Dr. Stapf we read: Leipsic, 17th December, 1816. Stapf’s Archiv, Vol. 21, Part I, p.160.
I thank you for the symptoms you sent me, some of them are of importance. Strive more and more to discover the exact expression for the sensations which have arisen, and the changes in your well-being, as well as the conditions under which they appear. My pupils here have an easier task in this respect. Whenever they present me with such a list, I go through the symptoms along with them, and question them right and left, so as to complete from their recollection whatever requires to be more explicit, such as time, conditions under which the changes took place, etc. But you must do all this yourself, go through the already written observations by yourself, in order to discover where there is still a gap to be found, where there is still something to correct. In that respect yours is a more difficult task.
This strictness of mine for the promotion of truth, will show you that your plan, (Stapf had proposed to Hahnemann to issue an appeal to all physicians, and invite them to join in the proving of medicines.) although very well meant, is quite impracticable; they would smile at us and even scoff. Which of our everyday colleagues would undertake such laborious experiments, when he can tap upon his well-filled receipt-book and say:
“Thou art my comfort! never can I be in doubt what to prescribe when I have thee at hand. It may go with my patients as it likes; I am quite safe. These receipts of the learned masters, as long as I prescribe them, no person can find fault with me.” It would be in vain to attempt to elevate the views of such people, even in an eternity they could not be elevated to this purer idea. They will never resolve to carry out these careful observations, seeing that the ordinary physician feels quite comfortable with-out observing, but just leisurely imitating others in leaving everything to the old ways, to assumptions and despotism! No, let all such hopes vanish. Such resolutions are not to be thought of such people. And what would the execution be like, if they made an attempt (perhaps out of curiosity)? Deceptions, imaginative stuff, or positive falsehoods, with their irregular mode of life, their volatility and their deficiency in the spirit of observation and integrity; may God keep the pure doctrine from such dross.
No, it is only the young whose heads are not deluged to over-flowing with a flood of everyday dogmas, and in whose arteries there runs not yet the stream of medical prejudices; it is only such young and unconstrained natures, who consider truth and philanthropy of some value, that are open to our simple doctrines of medicine; only these will of their own free-will endeavour, as I notice with joy in my pupils, to bring to the light, by their own sacrifice, those endless treasures of medicinal powers, which have been left hidden, or unexplored from the beginning of time by a crazy and self-complacent ignorance; I think some of them have made considerable progress in the practice of observation-so will the good be sown-but only where it finds suitable soil. One word more; no encomiums of me; I dislike them; for I feel myself to be nothing more than an upright man who merely does his duty. Let us express our regard for one another only in simple words and conduct indicating mutual respect.
HOW HAHNEMANN CARRIED OUT HIS PROVINGS OF MEDICINES.
To this enquiry from an unknown D.G., in the “Allgem. Anzeiger der Deutschen,” No. 24, of January 25th, 1839, Hahnemann gives the following reply which affords a deeper insight into the manner in which these provings were undertaken, as well as all the details under consideration, together with a description of all his pupils and friends who took part in the provings.
This enquiry in the “Allgem. Anzeiger d. Deutschen” (No. 24, January 25th, 1839) by a to me unknown D.G. would not have come forth if he had appreciated what I have taught (“Organon,” fifth edition, 121 to 142) and if he had presupposed (as would be presupposed in my case) that I would not have taught anything of which I had not previously convinced myself through personal experiments. Therefore he cannot possibly have read it.
I gave the medicines prepared by myself for this purpose in higher or lower dynamisations, in larger or smaller doses, as everyone could take without being too exhausted by it. Most of the symptoms as one will see, where the name of the prover is not mentioned, have been observed by me, or by members of my family, to whom I gave the remedy myself. The medicines were usually taken dissolved in a larger or smaller quantity of water, once or twice daily, or less frequently, in order to become acquainted with the effects of the medicines in every respect. The chief thing was, always to see that the provers should be free from erroneous diet and mode of living, as healthy as possible, and keen to explore the high truths which we are expecting to find, with a strong sense of conscientious honestly, without expecting the slightest worldly advantage, not even to hope for the honour of being publicly mentioned as a prover. They were mostly well- known friends and hearers of my lectures. Each one of them was interrogated daily, or every two or three days, on the symptoms experienced by them, partly in order to enquire if any one of them had previously experienced by them, partly in order to enquire if anyone of them had previously experienced similar sensations (that this might be put in brackets when printing as not altogether due to the medicine), partly that the exact character of his sensations and observations might be compared with the words written down, and perhaps afterwards be able to choose with his consent more definite expressions. All the important secondary considerations of any value were mentioned at the same time together with the symptoms under which they occurred; I drew the attention of each of them, beforehand, to such conditions.
All were persons capable of carrying out observations, and of absolute honesty of purpose, so that I could vouch for them, and I do; each was striving for the holy purpose of seeking these new and indispensable discoveries for the welfare of suffering humanity, giving his time, even sacrificing his health, so as to carry out with true zeal, the best possible work for the good cause. In this way I continue even now to perfect the true art of healing. Those who are not satisfied with the simple carefulness required to reach the desired goal, which is all that is necessary, and those who seem to think unnecessary the pure zeal for holy truth and the strict conscientiousness in these medicinal provings that were not done for the sake of money, let them enquire from the great talker of Carlsruhe (he means, Dr. Griesselich-R.H.) who does not trouble so much about truth and conscientiousness, and zeal for the welfare of humanity, (He conducted his military hospital unashamed on allopathic lines. and who still endeavours to keep the world, which has been deceived for thousands of years, in these deceptions by writing in No. 10 of the eighth vol. of the Allgem. hom. Zeit., 1836, of more perfect new medical provings, that his wisdom is dreaming about, for the price of twelve ducats, and who appoints the so- called judges who are to award the prize for the best (?) essay. Among whom he is included, who also shows his inexperience in homoeopathy by asserting that: “Hahnemann’s Causticum, does not exist” (is nothing). Why? This so important, so extremely powerful, healing and indispensable medicinal substance he does not even know it!)
All that is to be quoted in it, is such voluminous scribble and so unworthy of notice, that a big pamphlet is to be expected from every single remedy. Every outsider, every unknown quisquis sit, can contribute, and that which can only be discovered with difficulty by close and careful intercourse with the provers, is not mentioned. That is, (1) if the prover is capable of carrying out accurate observations upon himself, or if he follows the right diet, and observes the correct conduct for body and soul, and is capable of putting before us in the most adequate words and sentences, what he has observed. (2) If he is so thoroughly imbued and animated by pure and unselfish desire, as to be willing to sacrifice his time and even jeopardise his health for the acknowledgment of truth.
Of this the judge who has to allot the prize has already been able to convince himself, after reading the scribble of the unknown Quidem, and declare himself satisfied, while he can do nothing else but crown the most voluminous and drawn out essay of the unknown, of whom he can assume rightly, that he must be in great need of money, if he is willing to write so much for twelve ducats! It is impossible for the judge to elicit more from the scribble, and he cannot possibly be so impudent as to presume that this scribble be pure truth; he cannot find out from it, if it (in the best of cases) is not at least partly incorrect, if the symptoms recorded are not altogether false, as a few years ago Fickel (to whom had been handed over by his colleagues in Leipsic, the post of physician to the homoeopathic hospital) invented all the printed symptoms, in his so-called proving of the chemical preparation, Osmium, which he had never seen, for the sake of snapping up a bookseller’s fee.
How can anyone expect that by offering miserable money prizes to unknown contributors, for the exploration of unknown experiences and experiments, which can only be obtained by honest self-scratching zeal for the welfare of suffering humanity, it could be anything more than mystifications and untruths-this the all-wise talker of Carlsruhe did not see in his conceit, and thus he deceives the world.
Fickel’s colleagues in Leipsic imitate him, honouring his wisdom as non plus ultra, and let the homoeopathic hospital disintegrate in order to obtain from the proceeds of the small local money similar prizes for such imaginative self-provings.
Dear humanity, who art in need of pure truth for the healing art, be no longer deceived.
Paris, 5th May, 1838.
HOMOEOPATHY WITHOUT PROTECTION.
Hahnemann writes to Stapf: (Stapf’s Archiv, Vol. 21, Part 2, p. 128.)
That you will find a great man, who will come over to our side is, in the nature of things, impossible. If he be already a man of celebrity as you represent him, he can have become so only by means of the gross empirical art, which he contrived to support, after some new fashion, by compiling in manuals the thousand times ruminated trash of common medicine, or by hatching some in-elaborate unintelligible, fine-spun system, or by processes and fooleries of the ordinary sort, which he carried further than his colleagues, and raised himself above them only by telling greater and more audacious falsehoods than they. Such an one has long ago decided on the part he must play; he can worship only the false and sophistical system which raised him to his place of honour. Never would he be able to recognise from the wilderness of his multifarious knowledge the dignity of simple, humbling truth; and he would take care to consider them as little as ever he could, should some rays of it tumble upon him, because they would expose the falsehood of all his former knowledge, by which he has become so great, and would leave nothing sound or entire about him, and destroy himself in his knowledge. He would first have to tread underfoot all his mock-consequence before he could even begin to be our pupil; and where would then be the great man, who could have raised us by his high position, when his previous infallibility falls in the dust, and he has to extinguish completely the light of that wisdom to which he owed his exalted station, and learn the new truth, before he could become a worthy pupil of ours? How could he become our protector without first receiving the truth we teach, that is, without having first entered our school? And then must be thrown away all that rendered him great in the eyes of the world; and even to perform a moderate service in our cause he would need our protection, not we his.
Our science requires no political levers, no worldly decorations. At present it grows with slow progress amid the abundance of weeds which luxuriate about it; it grows unobserved, from an unlikely acorn into a little plant; soon may its head be seen overtopping the tall weeds. Only wait-it is striking deep its roots in the earth; it is strengthening itself unperceived, but all the more certainly in its own time it will increase, till it becomes an oak of God, whose arms unmoved by the wildest storm, stretch in all directions, that the suffering children of men may be revived under its beneficient shadow.
Kind regards from my family and myself.
SAMUEL HAHNEMANN. Leipsic, 19th September, 1815.
WORKS AND ESSAYS WRITTEN BY HAHNEMANN DURING HIS SOJOURN IN LEIPSIC.
1811-1821. Materia Medica Pura. Dresden, Arnold.
Part I, 1811, 248 pp.; 2nd amplif. edit., 1823; 3rd amplif. edit., 1830.
Part 2, 1816, 396 pp.; 2nd amplif. edit., 1824; 3rd amplif. edit., 1833.
Part 3, 1816, 288 pp.; 2nd amplif. edit., 1825.
Part 4, 1818, 284 pp.; 2nd amplif. edit., 1825.
Part 5, 1819, 306 pp.; 2nd amplif. edit., 1826.
Part 6, 1821, 255 pp.; 2nd amplif. edit., 1826.
1812. His Dissertation on Helleborismus Veterum. (Lesser Writings).
1813. Spirit of the New Medical Doctrine, “Allg. Anz. d. Deutschen,” March, pp. 626 (later completed and printed in front of Part 2 of M.M.P.).
1814. Method of Treatment for the Now Prevailing Nerve and Hospital Fever (“Allg. Anz. der Deutschen,” No. 6). (Lesser Writings).
1816. On Venereal Diseases and its Ordinary Improper Treatment. (Ibid., No. 211). (Lesser Writings).
1816. On the Treatment of Burns. (Ibid., No. 156 and 204). (Lesser Writings).
1819. On Uncharitableness towards Suicides. (Ibid., No. 144). (Lesser Writings).
1820. On the Preparation and Dispensing of Medicines by Homoeopathic Physicians themselves. Reply to an accusation of the Leipsic Apothecaries. (Stapf, Lesser Writings).
1821. Medical Advice on Purpura Miliaris. “Allg. Anz. d. Deutschen,” No. 26. (Lesser Writings).
The separate volumes of the Materia Medica Pura frequently contain very particular and detailed Symptom-Index of the individual medicines.
These were always preceded by instructions on the preparation of medicines for Homoeopathic use, together with an historical account on the use of the respective medicine, and the chief disease symptoms in which this medicine is to be used. Special mention is made of the co-operation of his pupils in establishing the effect of medicines.
Of the third edition of the Materia Medica Pura, only the two first volumes appeared; the four others did not appear. C. Hering writes on this in “North. Amer. Jour. of Hom.” (Vol. 22, p. 102):
We have not received the last four volumes of the third edition of Materia Medica Pura, because the “anti-Hahnemannians” have by their shouting and boasting brought such disrepute on this work that the Materia Medica as well as the greater part of the second edition of Chronic Diseases, 1835-1839, became void.
A Latin translation under the title “Materia Medical Pura,” was made by Dr. Stapf, Dr. Wilh. Gross, and Ernst Georg von Brunnow (but only the first two volumes appeared, Leipsic, 1826- 1828, by Arnold).
The Materia Medica Pura was translated into Italian by Dr. Romani (Naples) and published 1825-1828. A second Italian translation by Dr. Dadea, appeared in 1873 at Turin. Dr. Bigel of Warschau made a French translation in 1828. A second French translation was published by Dr. Jourdan in Paris, 1834, and in the year 1877, followed a third translation by Dr. Leon Simon. Dr. Hempel made (1846) an English translation which was published by Radde, in New York. In the year 1880. Dr. Dudgeon published, in London, by the Homoeopathic Publishing Co., an English translation in two volumes.
Hahnemann wrote, preceding the second amplified edition of “Materia Medica Pura” (Vol. 4, 1825), “A Remonstrance.” In it he attacks strongly the “existing humdrum routine of treatment,” the “pathology,” the artificially built up, invented phantom diseases, the generally manufactured disease forms, for which, specialised methods of treatment, even with pocket-books of prescriptions, were devised by therapeutics. If the physician found that the illness of a patient did not correspond sufficiently with one of the pathological forms of disease, so that he was unable to give it a name, he was then free according to his books, to attribute the evil to a much deeper and hidden origin, and then (on this fabrication) arrange a treatment (of which Hahnemann gives several instances-R.H.). “Is perhaps,” asks Hahnemann, “after 2,300 years duration, of this criminal mode of proceeding, not even yet to dawn the day of release for suffering humanity? Are the requests of patients to listen to their tale of sufferings, to vanish into empty air, unheeded by their brethren, without attracting the attention of any human heart, in a practical way?”
Thus Hahnemann demands here that the strikingly different accounts which every patient has to give of his complaints, shall be listened to, because they signify his specific disease. “It would be, therefore, the duty of the physician to distinguish the subtle differentiations of every individual case”-that is to specialise and individualise in each case, instead of treating groups of diseases.
Then he attacks large doses of medicine:
These harmful, often very harmful substances (which are only useful in the appropriate case) the specific effects of which are unknown, are blindly seized upon, or else in accordance with the orders of that book of lies, called-that is misnamed-Materia Medica, are mixed together (unless the prescription is copied as it stands, from the prescription-book) although their own specific action is unknown, as if they were taken from the wheel of fortune, or rather misfortune, and then the already suffering patient is tortured still more with this barbaric hotch-potch of a vile smell and taste.
The honest physician will proceed differently. He “will watch the patient carefully with all his faculties, will have made the patient tell him directly all his pains and attacks, and have them completed by the relatives, and note them down in writing, without adding or subtracting anything.” Then he has a true knowledge of the disease, of what has to be removed and cured. But before a physician begins to practise, he must have acquainted himself well “with the changes in health which are brought about in man by individual medicines, so that he may choose that medicine which would bring about such changes in the particular case of illness.” This leads us to the proving of medicines on healthy subjects, and the rejection of mixed remedies.
In a second foreword with the title “The Medical Observer,” which has explicitly been called only a “fragment,” Hahnemann demands from the scientific healer the capacity and practice, “to perceive accurately and clearly the disease conditions, either of natural diseases, or those brought about artificially by the proving of medicines, and to note them down in suitable terms.” This requires of the physician that he, so to speak, holds on to the object with all his intellectual grasp, so that nothing may remain unnoticed which is actually there and belongs to the case. The inventive imagination, the deceiving wit, every kind of supposition, all subtle reasoning, strained interpretations, and desire to explain, must all retreat. Then Hahnemann continues: