It certainly gives me great pleasure to respond to a toast upon this occasion–an occasion which, from its very nature, it seems to me, is one of the most memorable that it is within the privilege of our medical generation to enjoy–a Hahnemann Fest, or, as the Germans called it, a Hahnemann Fest-Jubilee. These jubilees, be it said, were very common in the later years of Hahnemanns life, beginning, if I mistake not, at the fiftieth anniversary of his graduation from Erlangen, which was held at Coethen, August 10th, 1829. Upon this memorable occasion, Hahnemanns friends gathered from all parts of Germany, and from many other places far and near, to do honor to the Grand Old Man of Homoeopathy.
He was presented with a jewel box by Stapf, inscribed in Latin: Hoffrath Muhlenbein, with a Latin address, presented a list of all the contributors to the occasion. Rummel presented him an honorary diploma from the University of Erlangen. The Duke and Duchess of Anhalt-Coethen, his patrons and benefactors, presented him with a gold snuff box with the letter “H” inlaid in brilliants, also a valuable antique drinking cup, with personal letters of congratulation. Out of this meeting grew the Central Homoeopathic Union of Germany.
It is recorded that every anniversary after 1829 was taken as an occasion for the friends of Hahnemann to show their mark of respect to his genius and service to mankind. In the year 1833 there was a special celebration at Coethen by the Society of Homoeopathic Physicians, when, according to Albrecht, deputations were received by Hahnemann from far and near.
Upon the occasion of the dinner, at which his Highness the Duke of Coethen was chairman, three songs adapted for the occasion were sung and received with great applause. The following day scientific sessions were held.
It will be remembered that it was this very year that Hahnemann had been notified of his election as a member of the Medical Society of the County of New York, a society composed of the leading allopathists of New York. It is well to note carefully the import of this honor, for, as was pointed out at the Centenary exercises of the Introduction of Homoeopathy into America last year, this diploma, which while rescinded finally by the Society on July 10th, 1843, was valid throughout the remainder of Hahnemanns life; and as his death occurred July 2, 1843, we are assured the Society could not have known of this fact. Samuel Hahnemann, therefore, died an honorary member of this allopathic society in far-away America.
On Hahnemanns birthday, April 10th, 1835, a short time before he married his young and accomplished wife and removed to Paris, he was elected honorary member of the board of directors of the North American Academy of Homoeopathy (the first homoeopathic medical college in the world, which was organized on this date), and from his wife, Madame Melanie dHervilly Hahnemann, received an honorary diploma a short time afterward.
In France, as in Germany, the 10th of August was still celebrated in 1836; and in Paris, on that date poems were read, of such distinction that one writer said of them: “Only upon Napoleon have we read odes which breathe equal heartiness and truthfulness of feeling and warmth of ardor”.
Hahnemanns eighty-third birthday was made the occasion of a great fete, and was celebrated at his residence, the Rue de Milan, where the large salon was crowded with guests, the beau monde of Paris, in the middle of which stood Hahnemanns bust, ornamented with golden laurel crown and wreaths of the flowers of Cicuta, Belladonna and Digitalis. The bust was the work of the celebrated sculptor, David, who designed the bust of Napoleon I, himself an ardent admirer of homoeopathy. As, upon previous occasions, poems of distinction were read in Italian and French, and delighted their audience.
On his eighty-fourth birthday and upon the sixtieth anniversary of his graduation from Erlangen, there were appropriate festivities. At the graduation exercises, all of the European nations sent their representatives.
His eighty-fifth birthday was marked by an assemblage of the elite of Paris in his salons to congratulate, as reported in the Leipsic press, “the aged Commander-in-Chief of our Homoeopathic Phalanx.” Upon this occasion there was a new statue of Hahnemann executed by Woltreck, of Dessau. It was at about this time that Hahnemann made his famous cure of the little daughter of the celebrated French poet, Legouve, which created such a stir in social and literary circles.
As a result of this cure Hahnemann was by some regarded as an almost mythical person, not as a being of real flesh and blood. The circumstances of this incident are well known to all who have intimate knowledge of Hahnemann and his great benefactions to humanity. Two interesting facts stand out above all others, one being the fact that, in his great love for his little one, the poet, fancying her about to die, had engaged his friend, Amaury Duval, one of M. Ingress most distinguished pupils, to paint the portrait of his dying daughter, In the midst of this painful and sad office, the parents were prevailed upon to send for Hahnemann.
With what a masterful, yet graceful authority, Hahnemann, upon his arrival, swept away all the powerful medicines with which the child was being tormented, and substituted the salutary regimen of fresh air, cold water and specific remedial, measures. And how quickly to the joy of the astonished parents, he announced to them: “Dear M. Legouve, your daughter is saved.” This from the personage whom the poet has described as follows:.
“In the midst of all the troubles that distracted my poor head, racked by pain and want of sleep, I thought I saw one of the queer people of Hoffmans fairy tales enter the room. Short in stature but stout, and with a firm step, he advanced, wrapped in a great fur coat and supported by a thick gold-headed cane. He was about eighty years of age; his head of admirable shape; his hair white and silky, brushed back carefully curled around his neck; his eyes were dark blue in the centre, with a whitish circle around the pupils; his month imperious; the lower lip projecting; his nose aquiline.” . . . Such was Hahnemann.
“When my daughter was cured, I showed him Amaury Duvals delicious drawing. He gazed long and admiringly at this portrait, which represented the resuscitated girl as she was when he first saw her, when she seemed so near death. He then asked me to give him a pen, and he wrote beneath it:
“Dieu la bene et la sauvee.
SAMUEL HAHNEMANN”. In 1840, one “Guancialis” wrote an epic poem in praise of Hahnemann, which was published in Naples, and contained eight books of Latin hexameters. This poem gives a history of the discovery of the law of similars, Hahnemanns inspiration by Sophia, the spirit of learning, and its introduction into the various lands of the earth. While the original is written in hexameters, the translation which was published in part in the British Journal of Homoeopathy, Vol. IV, and which I have personally examined, is couched in pentameters. This is probably the most exhaustive poem that has ever been written upon Hahnemann and Homoeopathy, and its author was anonymous.
On the 10th of April, 1841, the burgomaster of the city of Meissen, Hahnemanns birthplace, bestowed honorary citizenship upon him and presented a diploma to him through the Minister of Saxony, which are said to have been the best possible proofs of the considerations and esteem in which homoeopathy was held throughout the country.
The 10th of August of this year was also celebrated as usual, at which time poems were read by Drs. Calandra, of Palermo, and Sommers, of Berlin, in mark of their friendship, in their native tongues. Of this fete the brilliant Crosserio wrote:.
“The language of the country is the one least spoken, and I had the pleasure of conversing in Spanish, Italian, English and German. This is a centre where all nations unite in brotherhood, in sentiments of veneration for the illustrious founder of homoeopathy, and in reciprocal testimonies to the superiority of this doctrine over all others which have preceded it, being for the most part living proofs of that power to which they owe their health, and many of them their lives.
“What more potent answer to the great little men of the present day,” writes Bradford, “who just so often inform us what an old ignoramus Hahnemann was, than to invite them to picture themselves this scene of his declining years. The old man, with his fine intellectual face, his white hair curling on either side of his lofty brow, his manner filled with the enthusiasm and unrest of genius, surrounded by learned men of half a dozen countries, able to speak to each in his mother tongue.
Imagine this brilliant assembly, met to do honor to the most brilliant of them all. Here a sentence in English, there a soft Italian phrase, then some witty sentence in the diction of his fatherland, anon a Spanish question, again a witty French bon mot–Hahnemann answering each in his own tongue. The while Madame Hahnemann, the hostess, charming in her easy grace, giving to all a worthy welcome, and honoring the dear old man, her medical master and her beloved husband. And this in the brightest city in the world . . . As has been seen, all of the birthdays of Hahnemann were utilized to honor him. His life at Paris was one long fete”.
On July 2d, 1843, Hahnemann died in Paris of a listening illness. He was buried in the cemetery of Montmartre near the grave of the poet Heine, among the poor of Paris. These arrangements were in accordance with the wishes of Madame Hahnemann, so that the wish of Hahnemann himself to have engraved upon his stone the words “non inutilis vixi” were never realized.
[The following year after Hahnemanns death, the idea of a permanent monument began to take shape. The design and management of this memorial were in the hands of Dr. Rummel, President of the Committee of the German Central Homoeopathic Association. The appeal for funds for this monument was a noteworthy one. It read in part as follows:].
“It is at once the glory and the misfortune of the great discoverer to be before his age; while it is the reproach and the safety of the age to be behind him. It was so with Galileo, with Kepler, and Harvey. And although the general unsettling of opinion, which occurred at the end of the last century, made men less averse to investigate novelties, and recognize truth in new systems, this arose more from prevailing confusion, than extending charity. . . . The ambassador of a great truth, which threatens mighty changes, and perplexes the minds of men, is looked on still as the herald of war, as the troubler of mankind, who is to be stifled, if he cannot be silenced.
Such was the fate of Hahnemann. He fought his lonely way for a many a dark night, without human encouragement and support. And the proclamation of his discovery, was the signal for his persecution. His steady and starlike course is now run.” (British Journal of Hom., Vol. 2, 1844.).
I should like also to quote from Dr. Eugene Austins report of the “Eighth Quinquennial Congress of Homoeopathy: a Monument to Samuel Hahnemann” (Homoeopathician, Vol.1, No. 1, Jan., 1912):
“Last September, we stood at Hahnemanns tomb, in Pere la Chaise, Paris, France. A broad shaft, winged toward the base, forms the solid background for the noble bust. Above is inscribed, in large deep letters, the legend, HAHNEMANN, FONDATEUR DE L’HOMOEOPATHIE, and the dates. On each side of the pedestal are tablet memorials of his great achievements. On the base is inscribed SOUSCRIPTION INTERNATIONALE.
“In the name of the host of his American followers, with my grateful patients, we covered his grave with choice roses. On the ornamental cap of one wing of the shaft hangs a large permanent wreath, which was presented by several French homoeopathic physicians. To the other side I lifted a sweet child–yes, a beautiful little girl, healed, when all other help had failed,by the use of Hahnemannian Homoeopathy. With loving hands and grateful heart, she placed over it a corresponding wreath–all speaking words of praise of him whose sacred dust rests beneath. I thought of teachers and comrades and patients at home, and for their sakes also, I laid my tribute, with tender emotion, on the grave of Samuel Hahnemann”.
It is interesting to note that Hahnemanns famous motto is engraved, along with other well-known inscriptions, upon the exquisite bronze and granite monument by Niehaus, in Scott Circle, Washington.
On the 10th August, 1843, the great master having departed this life, a festival was held as usual, at which, in accord with the usual custom a poem was read; this time by his friend, Dr. Rummel, which was a sonnet in German, enscribed: “An Hahnemann,” which begins with these lines:
“Du willst schon schlafen, muder Wahrheitspflueger?
Des neuen Lichtes Strahlen rothen kaum.
Der alten Nachte tiefsten Wolkensaum.
Und Deine freunde schleichen trag and trager”.
So distinguished was this poem that it was translated into all the languages in the different countries where the death of Hahnemann was reported. So ended the earthy life of Samuel Hahnemann. I have dwelt thus exhaustively upon these various anniversary and birthday festivals of Hahnemann by reason of the fact that these two dates, that of his birth and his graduation from the University, have been the pivotal points around which so much of the activities connected with the public observance of his service to mankind has centred.
It is a fact that Hahnemanns birthday still remains the date of choice for similar celebrations, even to the present time; as, for example, witness this very date that your Society has chosen for this dinner in Hahnemanns memory. I might remind you, furthermore, that the birthday of Hahnemann is set apart in the State of California and observed by the members of the California State Homoeopathic Society by contributing (in so far as is possible) all the earnings of the individual members on this day as a permanent fund for the perpetuation of homoeopathy. I have already mentioned the fact that the Academy at Allentown was organized on this date, and the American Institute of Homoeopathy had its birth, April 10th, 1844, with Constantine Hering, of Philadelphia, as its first president.
I should like to say a word, however, regarding the confusion of dates, as to whether April 10th or April 11th is the correct one to observe. Basing my proofs upon Bradfords life and letters, I had for long believed the correct date to be April 11th. Dr. Richard Haehl quotes Hahnemann to the effect that he was born before midnight on the 10th, rather than after midnight on the 11th. With regard to this matter, I may call to your attention the following note from the British Journal of Homoeopathy (Vol. 13, page 525), where we are told that the question of the 11th of April was raised by the testimony of Dr. Hirschel, in Zeitschrift, 1851, in which reference to the baptismal records of Meissen was said to have been shown that Hahnemann was born on the 11th of April, his baptism having occurred on April 13th.
He was entered there as Christian Friedrich Samuel, whereas the school register where he first attended gave his name as Christian Gottfried Samuel. His biographers had previously given his name as Samuel Christian Friedrich. This latest authority gives it as Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann. In this Bradford concurs, yet the 10th was the date always mentioned by Hahnemann, and was the date on which all his birthday festivals were held.
When we come to the consideration of Samuel Hahnemann–the man himself and his impress upon the world–we must first of all view him as an historical figure, and therefore in perspective. Could any one of us have lived in those stirring and eventful days when homoeopathy was young, when Hahnemann was himself in full vigor, we might better comprehend the task that beset this great adventurer in the uncharted paths of medical mediaevalism. It seems almost astounding to us, who go about with our small cases of carefully arranged and cared-for homoeopathic vials, without odor, taste, or color, acceptable to the taste and temperament of even the crabbiest child.
It seems almost incredible to us to believe that this great revolution in medicine has all come about since Hahnemann first announced his New Principle and published his famous letter to Hufeland. But the wise Hufeland himself was not unmindful that here at last there had come, out of the mists and chaos, a mariner who should lead the world to new discoveries and to lands before unknown.
Hufeland, whose acquaintance with Hahnemann was, as he said, “of long standing, and who, connected with him for more than thirty years by ties both of friendship and of letters valued him always as one of our most distinguished, intelligent and original medical men.” . . . “I had subsequently the opportunity,” he continues, “of observing many instances of good results from the use of homoeopathic remedies, which necessarily drew my attention to this subject and convinced me that it ought not to be contemptuously pushed on one side, but deserves careful investigation.”
This, the statement of one who was called “The Nestor of German medicine”; from one who was an eyewitness to the origin, development and progress of the whole movement. Again let us hear the testimony of one who, leaving his native American soil, in those days when to announce oneself as a follower of Hahnemann spelled anathema. I refer to that veteran editor and pioneer in homoeopathy, Dr. Gerald Hull, for many years the editor of the Homoeopathic Examiner, the earliest of our published American journals.
“The American homoeopathist,” he wrote, “besides his mere pleasure of travelling, has a sacred and unwearying pilgrimage to perform, not to the mausoleums of the departed, but to the sanctuary of a living genius. The authors of most reforms have hallowed them by death; but Hahnemann, whom a venerable senectitude of fourscore and seven years personalities as their type, more fortunate than they, has lived to witness his system pass triumphantly through the ordeal of prospective persecution, and is now blessed in the autumn of his life, with the vision of its elevation to a brilliant distinction, constantly progressive, and as exalted as its dispensations are prolific in happiness to the countless victims of medicine and disease”.
Dr. Hulls description of his visit to Hahnemann is classic:
“At this period Hahnemann occupied a spacious mansion in the vicinity of the Jardine de Luxembourg, at Paris. Ushered by the attendant into the grand salon, at a moment when he was engaged with a patient in his adjoining study, I had an opportunity of individualizing the appointments of this noble apartment. Its walls were hung with varied and choice paintings in oil, many of them the productions of his accomplished wife; vases, busts and medals–donatives from those whose gratitude his cures have evoked–were disposed in tasteful arrangement, and his centre table was laden with the productions of German, French and other tongues–presentation copies–alike giving evidence of the abundant labours of his zealous disciples, and of the almost miraculous extension his system has acquired throughout the entire civilized world.
“Introduced into the library or study, I had, for the first time, the inexpressible gratification of beholding the face and grasping the hand of the great reformist of our century. I felt myself in the presence of a mighty intellect–once compelled to struggle with keen adversity, to contend with the persecution and cupidity of his rivals, and in banishment, to depend upon the protective shelter of a noble stranger–now independently situated in the heart of Europe, and proudly eminent in the admiration of literati, philosophers, noblemen and crowned heads”.
Dr. Hulls description of Hahnemann, his nobility of bearing, his massive Socratic head, and silvery locks, and the kindly way in which he was received are to be found in records of Hahnemanns biographers. It would certainly be a painful parallel to contrast this opportune meeting with the story of the Rev. Mr. Everest, his fidus achates during those long and arid years of profitless waiting, scanty remunerative translating; to those days at Stotteritz, in the Trial or Wander years, when we are told that he was so poor that he himself wore rude clogs of wood, helped his wife bake bread, and with her other household tasks; and finally to review that pathetic story of the division of bread among his starving children.
No; let us rather dwell upon the majesty and fullness of those master years (Mejsterjahre), when, crowned with his well-earned success, he rested upon the lofty summit of his fame, and watched the sun of his triumph melt into the golden afterglow of a life well spent and a nights well-earned repose.
Dudgeon, in the preface to Drysdales translation of Amekes “History of Homoeopathy,” states that:
“The history of homoeopathy is the indictment of the medical profession. A physician distinguished above his fellows for his services to medicine, chemistry and pharmacology, endowed with quite a phenomenal talent for ancient and modern languages, and well read in all the medical lore of past times, after mature thought and at a ripe age, announces to the profession that, as the result of years of arduous experiment, investigation and reflection, he believes he has discovered a therapeutic rule which will enable us to find the remedies for disease with greater certainty and precision than can be effected by any of the methods hitherto taught.