CONFIDENTIAL NOTES ON THE LIFE OF MADAME HAHNEMANN. ( Written by Melanie Hahnemann in 1846, in defence against an accusation of practising homoeopathy without the right of doing so) (Translated from the original French.).
Had I not been forced by imperative circumstances I should never have written this, although these details may be interesting in themselves apart from medical science. Having uninterruptedly devoted my whole life to good works it is painful to be obliged to speak of them. Good deeds done in secret are such a treasure to a heart which has the right to be proud of them, that neither the praise of the world, nor the glory, otherwise so agreeable, resulting from the knowledge of these good deeds, can compensate for the loss of that secret enjoyment. This applies all the more to woman who by the law of exclusion, which man instituted against her, constantly finds opposition, which makes it impossible for her to give expression to her intellectual capacities. But, when she possesses these in supper abundance, to an overflowing measure, especially if morally pure, she becomes all the more an object of jealousy and aversion to men, as well as to the every-day type of woman. The women whom men find it in their own interest to deceive on this point have been trained to it and misunderstand the esprit de corps and the dignity of their own sex. In other words they arouse the envy of all, and the censure of men who persecute them if they can, as is apparent in this case, until the greatness of their talents, or their virtue forces them to be silent on the subject of their obvious superiority which they take great care not to display although inwardly they clearly recognise it.
Smart women who are gifted, at times find favour with men because they have become their toys, and men are fond of that which they own; even when these have become faithless, when they have committed adultery, men try to defend them, or pretend not to see. I say, at times because whilst extending an interested protection, man never allows woman to overstep the barrier that his tyrannical spirit has erected in the intellectual field into which he was powerless to prevent her entering. Women do not need man’s permission to become musicians painters, poets, writers, mathematicians, astronomers, or scientists, but man has arrogated to himself the right to forbid them the practice of certain liberal professions, in which they might even excel, occasionally.
This subject would bear amplification, but it is not our intention to speak of it here. We are not dealing here with woman, but with Madame Hahnemann, the physicians who cures, and to prove that she was obliged to act in the way she did.
My father’s name is d’ Hervilly’ he is man of great knowledge and intelligence who loves me dearly. His gentleness and kindness are indescribable. He was my first tutor, and his first teachings were more like endearments than lessons. The purest reason and the soundest philosophy formed the basis of his precepts which he formulated in a simple manner, graduating them in accordance with my young intelligence. From childhood onwards he taught me to seek for the truth of things by pointing out to me their fallacies.
I was born with an extraordinary character which manifested itself in early childhood; I never played but was always thinking and, therefore, appeared sad without actually feeling so. Thence forth the ordinary life was insufficient for my mind, which found in its own contemplation a much greater enjoyment than in games and pleasures. I was happiest when I could withdraw into a secluded corner of the house, or into the country, and give myself up to all those uncoordinated thoughts which then passed through my mind like the rosettes of a kaleidoscope without troubling about the outside world. And if at times I felt the need of self-expression I would record my sensations in formless verses on the beauty of nature, which I already adored, and through improvised melodies to the modulations of which my mother’s friend were won’t to listen with astonishment. I did not wish to learn to read because the alphabet bored me, and distracted me from my dear thoughts; all this took place before I was eight years old. However, I then learned to read in a few hours through a happy idea of my father’s who being distressed by my ignorance made me a present of “A Thousand and One Nights,” and read one of the tales to me, and when he saw my joy and curiosity, he said, “all these volumes are full of equality interesting tales, here they are learn, to read and you will know them.” The next morning I could spell, and three days later I could read fluently; from that time onwards mountains of books could no longer satisfy my burning desire for knowledge; I despised children’s books; I was given more solid intellectual food, and my father charmed at the predispositions which revealed themselves in me, gave me an excellent education. The love of art joined that of science; I became a very good musician; I studied painting in which I made rapid progress in a very short time.