INTERPRETATION OF HIS PHYSIOGNOMY.
BY C. BESSONNET-FAVRE
(In “L’Homoeopathie Francais, Revue Mensuelle,” 1912, No.!) We extract from the essay the following description:
Hahnemann’s physiognomy contains all the indications of a remarkable and self-confident intelligence, an unbending will, and an undaunted energy. The study of the cranium, of the face, and of the hand of this unwearied worker, indicated with accuracy, boldness and the consistency of his system.
After a detailed exposition of Hahnemann’s life and work, the author continues:
Nature having produced the type Hahnemann would appear to have rejoiced in her handiwork; she created a beautiful, harmonious, idealistic being. Life with all its contradictions, society with its fetters, have imprinted their seal upon his face. The scepticism of his day had limited his genius. From the infinitely great by turned to the infinitely small, and his original type became modified by the special development of energy, common-sense and the poise of the positive man.
When examining the various portraits of Hahnemann, I am surprised at the striking contrast between the cranium and the face. The cranium is large, the face is closely-knit. Without the firm, square chin, which makes it took longer, the face would be short; there is only a small distance between the root of the nose and the lips.
The contours of the skull denote a mystical tendency; a quick power of comprehension is revealed in the protruding arch of the eyebrows, whilst the capacity for composition and a constructive talent are expressed in the development of the forehead and in the height of the frontal suture.
The comprehensive faculties and the capacities for combination are equally balanced. The slight depression in the centre of the forehead, and the development of the crown of the head, show that the powers of reflection and development are placed at the back in the region of the instincts. Impressions and ideas when once submitted to the control of reason in the brain, go there to be moulded and bought into perfect equilibrium.
The vertical wrinkles which cross each other between the thick eyebrows, are an indication of that inner working which is made slower and more laborious through the disposition to doubt and to test, which broadens the skull at the sides over the ears. His clear and shining eyes betray intuition, and yet commonsense predominated throughout. Hence the slow process of intellectual elaboration, in spite of his mystical tendencies he is a constructor — an experimenter — his system is therefore devoid of all metaphysics. Metaphysics would have made a visionary of Hahnemann, but his thirst for knowledge coupled with reflection made a schoolmaster of him.
He was too ambitious to lose himself in dreams; he was too self-willed and stubborn to tread the beaten track. If he followed a tradition it must be one that was eternal; when he expounded a teaching he could tolerate denial, but not discussion.
His narrow, short, slightly curved nose would, but for the open and vibrating nostrils have presented the severe aspect which the beak gives to a bird of prey. Just as the nostrils inhale life so do the clear eyes shed light. It is these nostrils and these eyes which endow the face with its striking benevolence and make it sympathetic in spite of its severity.
The upper lip is small, and sharply outlined, somewhat proud, resting,. with a touch of derision on the more benevolent an fuller lower lip, which induces a smile when the mouth is compressed at the corners. A dimple forms in the cheek the upper portion of which is prominent, in this amusing formation lies the joy of life, but the full, self-willed, almost immovable chin shows that will power has always held the instincts in check, and subordinate desires. From this point he little dimple in the cheek remains only a sign of constraint. the fold which begins at the nostrils and which naturally accentuates the movements of the Risorius (laughing muscle) give the face an expression of mild bitterness, and the placid melancholy of the sage, who was not born to vegetate merely, but was impelled to live be it of necessary or of pride.
The heavy lobe of the low, protruding, open ear confirms the presence of desires and inclinations which have been dominated by reason. Hahnemann understood how to restrain himself, and it is this which enabled him to control circumstances and to compel the respect of his ideas.
His hand, which is not large, might almost be termed a feminine hand; the very variously formed fingers are short, thin and full of expression; it is an intelligent hand which shows personality. Unfortunately I have only seen the imprint of the dorsum of the hand, to judge from the prominence of the tendons and small bones, the palm would be flat, but what were the lines engraved on it? It would have been an interesting hand to examine. The thumb betrays extraordinary strength and long life, which I observed before in other hands of old people who possessed unbounded energy. The first joint is long, broad and grooved; the nail lies deeply embedded in the fold of raised skin, and is cut off short; it possesses a knotty and powerful joint which is an absolute indication of that physiological brutish, unconscious will-power which defends itself instinctively, against every influence, against the dominations of others and against the slightest aggressiveness of the society in which he lives.
The second joint, the one which indicates the living logic of the temperament is unusually long. With such a thumb a man never wavers, either when attacking or defending, he is certain to overcome all obstacles and difficulties.
The somewhat thick index finger inclines towards the middle finger as if seeking support there; it has a conical spindle nail, which is indicatives of idealistic endeavors and which negatives the inflexibility of the thumb. The middle finger is strong, the joint with the nail is round; it is a strong ordinary finger. The ring finger is smooth, and is as long as the index finger, which is always a sign of balance by will-power and of domination of the environment by an inner harmony or a fatalistic indifference. The nail is square, high and broad, which denotes practical sense and a slightly egotistic peculiarity. The little finger is thin, the extremely small nail for a man’s hand is oval, spindle-shaped and of perfect form; it is the nail of a child, the nail of that roguish little finger which says much to the listener. Hahnemann’s little finger discloses to the observer an aesthetic coquettishness, and allows him to apprehend a refinement of soul which had not previously been evident.
If Hahnemann had been a Frenchman, the gifts of inward enlightment, dreaming fancies and spiritualised creative power expressed by the nature in his personality would have been more firmly established; but in a Saxon the tendencies to sombre meditations were bound to develop according to the taste and the choice of a constructive investigator who works according to plan. This was more a question of origin than of circumstances.
(“Leipsig. Pop. Ztschr. f. H.,” 1897, 28th year, page 141)
Dr. H. Goullon, of Weimar, submitted in 1897, several letters of Hahnemann, among them being one of the 21st April, 1828 — naturally without giving the name of the writer — to the Institute of Graphology in Erfurt, and received the following information:
The specimen of writing sent is at least sixty years old. It denotes a fine intellect and a refined character rather than one with a broad outlook; one that considers things in detail rather than as a whole. The character is clear and determined, the temper is generally even, but at times somewhat harsh, or, even impetuously inconsiderate. He avoids all that is superfluous, and is partial to concise forms of expression; he is thrifty and simple.
Yet it is a harmonious nature, calm and peaceful, avoiding extravagances, thoughtful and considerate, naturally benevolent and polite.
On the whole, frank, yet wisely reticent and at times secretive.
An observer of even the most minute details; very accurate and punctual. A quick, intuitive, correct power of judgment, a keen sense of perception, careful and critical.
Neither vain nor conceited, endowed with a sense of beauty, but taking little interest in outward display and appearance.
It expresses a predominantly logical development, bringing a diligent and searching intelligence to bear on the work while boldly pursuing its course.
HAHNEMANN’S USE OF A STEEL PEN.
Letters of Inspector Dellbruck to his father-in-law Hahnemann:
Stotteritz, October 23rd, 1833.
I send you for the present only one steel pen with the appropriate ink-powder, which produces the only suitable medium for it, as the ordinary ink rapidly corrodes it. The pen cost 6
November 24, 1833.
If you like the metal pen you might give me a further order. We have already 14 gr. in hand.
Stotteritz, August 30th, 1834.
If you meant by the word steel-pen, a writing pen, I send you six nibs having no more in stock; they cost one Rthl. and they come from Mag. Steyer of Great Joachimstahl.
People think that it would better if you wrote yourself, so that a correct representation of your life was available, and then if your portrait were bound in the frontispiece it would receive a quick circulation. How greatly do our impressions of the same man vary when his life has been chronicled by several biographers.
Dr. Schweikert writes to Hahnemann:
The steel pens which had been packed for a long time, had unfortunately been forgotten but they are coming at last; may you use them in good health in the service of suffering humanity as the High Priest of the temple of Aesculapius.
THE HISTORY OF THE STEEL PEN.
The inventor of the steel nib, which has become so indispensable, was a school teacher of Konigsberg, named Burger. In 1808 he made the first metal writing pens which he praised as “pen-beaks.” The Englishman Perry of Birmingham, utilised this invention in 1830 and patented it. Perry become a millionaire and Burger died in )the poor-house.
HAHNEMANN OPINION OF KANT AND OTHER PHILOSOPHERS.
A letter to Mr.von Villers:
Torgau, January 30th, 1811.
I had known for some time that you had made our Kant available in France, but had not considered what an enormous effort it must have cost you even to understand his “Critic of Pure Reason” as so many German-born scientists cannot fathom or understand Kant, let alone translate him into a language which is hardly capable of reproducing his modes of expression. This has been done for the good of mankind. Your health, however, has suffered through this and other similar work, and you must now try to regain it completely. This the world asks of you through
I admire Kant very much, particularly because he draws the line of philosophy, and of all human knowledge, where experience ends. If the remaining part of what he has thought and written had only unfolded itself a little more clearly before his inner vision, I think that he would not have enveloped himself in a cloud of such obscure sentences. His whole accepted philosophy ought, I think, to have been easily understood at least by all educated people, and to have been so comprehensible that no misunderstanding could arise. It is, however only my humble self who thinks this, and perhaps I am wrong. It is for this reason that I only value Plato when he is quite comprehensible and speaks clearly.
If the so-called philosophers who followed Kant had not written even more mystically and allowed their imagination so much play, if in one word they had kept, as Kant wanted them to, within the boundaries of experience. My fight to-day with the reform in medical science would have been an easier one.
HAHNEMANN ON RELIGIOUS AND GENERAL PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS.
Baron von Gersdorff writes to Hahnemann:
Eisenach, April 7th, 1832.
I hope to see our kind Duchess Julie von Kothen in Rome, and I suppose I may remember you to her? i shall not become a Catholic, and I would prefer not even to limit myself to the creed of the Protestant, but rather to hold with you to Deism only in a higher sense than is taught by the sect of that name, as that is the faith which most nearly satisfies.
Your faithful friend and Godfather, A. BARON VON GERSDORFF.
Hahnemann to Stapf:
(without more definite date but approximately, 1826 — R.H.)
The translation from the Chinese into German of Confucius’ works, by Schott, is very desirable. It conveys to the reader, Divine wisdom without miracles, fables or superstition. It is an important sign of the times that Confucius can now be read in our country. I shall soon embrace him in the realm of happy spirits; this benefactor of men who showed us the straight path to wisdom and to God, six and a half centuries before that Arch-Visionary (Christus — R.H.)
Kothen, July 19th, 1827.
The book on Entomology which you kindly sent me is very good, and I think that it would be difficult to obtain better information (albeit this is somewhat obscure) on the continued movements of the spider: it is a kind of flight, horizontally to and fro, and perpendicularly upwards. If this branch of Natural History (entomology) were not an infallible revelations of God’s wisdom, might and goodness briefly, if it did not reveal all that is necessary to urge every good man to joyfully accomplish His Will as it manifests itself in his conscience if we could not apprehend true religion even from this, then I have been spiritually blind.
Now in regard to the book by Wild! That is an entirely unknown fragment by the excellent Reimarus. Hermann Samuel Reimarus (born September 22nd, 1694, died March Ist, 1768), published as a thorough philologist but especially as an expert scholar of Hebrew, an essay on the “noblest truths of Natural Region” (Hamb., 1754); and further “The Doctrine of Reason” (Vernunftlehre), (1756). The rules laid down in these writings he amplified in the “Fragments”, which Lessing published in the years 1774, 1777, and 1778, as originating from one “unknown”. We know nothing of it except the middle portion which refers to Moses’ passage through the Red Sea. The Old Testament is there duly appreciated.
Oh! god, that truth and freedom from prejudice are so rare and that they have to hide so much before the senseless busy swarm of worldlings, who wish to indulge in their animal passions till their last breath, and yet wish to furtively acquire eternal happiness by a wrong path! Do try to procure for me if you can through Wild all the fragments whatever they may cost.
Kothen, January 14th, 1828.
I am so sorry that you should have so much trouble in procuring the fragments. Precisely that is withheld from the view of mankind, whence truth might beam into their eyes, and might divert their vision to themselves and to the grand universe in whose constant presence they would be obliged to be perfectly good, for nought can deliver them from the hell of their conscience when in the omnipresence of their supreme Benefactor, they forget the purpose of their being, and prefer the satisfaction of their animal passions to His approbation. There cannot possibly be anything in verum natura which can make the immoral blessed. That is self-contradictory, and woe to the seducers who delude the immoral by holding out the assured prospect of attaining perfect felicity; they thereby only increase the number o9f human devils — they bring unspeakable, incalculable misery on mankind. The all-good Deity who animates the infinite universe, lives also in us, for our highest, inestimable dowry, gave us reason and a spark of holiness in our conscience — out of the fulness of His own morality — which we only need to keep kindled by constant watchfulness over our actions, in order that it may glow through our whole beings, and thus be visible in all our transactions, that pure reason may with inexorable severity hold in subjugation our animal nature, so that the end of our existence here below may be profitably fulfilled, or which purpose the Deity has endowed us with sufficient strength.
Kothen, March 24th, 1828.
Great are the wondrous works of the Lord of Creation, immeasurable are His wisdom, power and goodness. I hope that you will be fortunate enough to obtain at Mohrenzoll’s suction the “Fragments” of Reimarus, a man who would not be bribed by superstition.
April 10th, 1828.
Is there any greater happiness than to do good?
Even when we have departed hence, the great, the only, the infinite Being, who promoted the happiness of all creatures will show us how to come nearer to His perfection and blessedness by further acts of beneficience, and how to become more like to Him through all eternity.
From a letter of Hahnemann to a patient, of October 16th, 1830:
Distribute your hours carefully. Every lost hour (not employed to our best advantage and to that of others) is an irreparable loss, which a sensitive conscience can never quite forgive.
There is nothing that we must watch over and restrain more than our physical inclinations, including that of imagination. The animal part of us requires constant supervision and as strict and unremitting control as our power of reason possesses;it is only through constant victory that we are made happy through this salutory and lofty consciousness — we feel then that we are resting in the friendship of the Only One.
Do you desire any other relations? There is none. Everything else is a miserable low human conception full of superstition — a true destruction of humanity.
HAHNEMANNS CONCEPTION OF HIS LIFE’S TASK AS ONE GIVEN BY GOD.
Hahnemann to Stapf:
April 15th, 1827.
I acknowledge with sincere thankfulness the infinite mercy of the one great Giver of all good for having preserved me hitherto in strength and cheerful spirits amidst all the assaults of my enemies; and I have no other wish left than to lay before the world in a worthy manner, the good which the Supreme Being has permitted me to discover, or I may say revealed to me, for the alleviation of the sufferings of mankind. Then I am ready to depart this life.