The reception which this announcement met with, and which was given to all Hahnemanns subsequent efforts to give certainty and scientific accuracy to therapeutics, . . . forms one of the most melancholy and deplorable episodes in the history of medicine”.
But why dwell upon this melancholy picture? Hahnemann is not dead, but lives in the hearts of his legion of followers, from the least to the greatest. Homoeopathy is not dead, but lives in the daily and hourly application of its sane, salutary and truth- exemplifying principles and practices. New institutions are arising to carry on the great and monumental works of the founders.
Bradford tells us that Hahnemann was “born in the middle of a century whose influence shaped our own; a century prodigal in great men; in the year when Frederick, destined to be called THE GREAT, was masquerading among the art galleries of Holland; wandering in boyhood on the fair hills of Meissen when all Europe was engaged in the Seven Years War and Saxony was crushed by iron heels; going forth the young scholar to academic Leipsic just when that unfortunate monarch, Louis XVI, was ascending the guillotine-shadowed throne of France; when George the Third was king and America was only a colony of England; when Rousseau was yet writing of the Rights of Man; when cynical Voltaire was mentor to Prussian Frederick. . . .
He was of the time of the Boston Tea Party and the declaration on the State House steps of Philadelphia; of the day of Washington and Lafayette. He saw Napoleon build an empire on the ashes of a revolution; saw him march across the lands of Germany; saw Austerlitz; saw the dismal retreat from Moscow, and acted there as good physician to the sick and suffering army of 1813. He left Germany for brilliant Paris when Bismarck was a student of twenty; he, the recluse, the scholar, the thinker, became in his old age the fashionable physician in the gayest city in the world.” And finally.
His biographers highest tribute:
“Scholar whom scholars honored and respected. Physician whom physicians feared. Philologist with whom philologists dreaded to dispute. Chemist who taught chemists. Philosopher whom adversity nor honor had power to change”.
Hahnemanns impress upon the world–we find it most graphically emblazoned upon a multitude of institutions, colleges, hospitals, dispensaries, asylums, sanitariums; in thousands of earnest physicians who wear upon their brows the Seal of the Master; upon millions of loyal followers who, having felt the magic of the Masters hand, and touched the hem of his garment, rejoice in a new-found freedom and a truth that has made them free. What was there about this man that could kindle a world at his touch? He possessed a wholesome sanity, a mind of crystal clearness, a soul of unstained purity.
He was eminent, as we have seen, as chemist, physician, translator, innovator, reformer. His was a philosophy of life moulded in the crucible of toil, and hardened in the fires of poverty, privation and suffering. He could speak from the heart. Hear his advice to the health-seeker:
“Check your ambition–what you cannot accomplish in one week do in two. Too great mental exertion is especially bad for the harassed mind. You must obtain a goodly portion of cold indifference. After you are buried men will still be clothed– possibly not so tastefully, but nevertheless quite tolerably. Be a philosopher, then you will attain good old age. . . . What you cannot finish, let it not worry you. . . . Obtain a modicum of indifference–then you will be my man indeed . . . especially if you adopt all my other suggestions. . . . Care-free you will awake in the morning, quickened and soothed you will go to work, without fear about the mass of duties to be performed. . . . Thus passes with measured quiet one day after the other until the last day of a fine old age finds its goal of a well-used lifetime and you can go quietly to sleep. . . . Is not this wise, my friend, more rational? . . . Farewell and think of me after you are well and prospering”.
I like to think of this ideal attainment–of Hahnemanns man.
The criticism has many times been made that Hahnemann was autocratic, was unfriendly to his professional colleagues, was infact an enemy to the existing medical order. It is undoubtedly true that Hahnemann was dogmatic, and at times autocratic, yet many great men have held such traits. Yet in his inner heart, we know his true feelings when we recall his affirmation that all physicians were his professional brethren, and that he bore them no ill-will. It is likewise to his credit that, to all the stings and jibes of his critics he made no reply, save the one response to Hecker, “The Defense of the Organon”; and this was published under the name of his son, Frederick.
We are further reminded upon this point by Dr. William Boericke, of San Francisco, in reviewing Haehls recently published work, “The Life and Work of Samuel Hahnemann,” that, while this attitude of aloofness was most unfortunate, it had this redeeming compensation:
“His fifteen years at Coethen in comparative seclusion left him the needed quiet and freedom to develop the newly found truths, developing them according to his ideas of his wonderfully trained experienced and philosophical mind. A perfect organic whole is seen in the first edition of the Organon”.
Certainly Hahnemanns aloofness from his fellows could but have softened “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that were hurled against him by an unsympathetic world. The tender product of creation is hidden away in the mothers womb until such a time as it quickens and comes forth the child of law and circumstance. So of homoeopathy: Hahnemann had to protect it, nurture it, care for it in its embryonic stage, give it safe birth and protection until it could stand, as it does today four square against the buffetings and exigencies of the world.
Emerson has said that “an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.” Homoeopathy is, therefore, the lengthened shadow of the great and benevolent personality of Samuel Hahnemann; and we of the present day are basking in its cooling shadow, amid the torrid noon-day of medical misunderstandings.
I should like to picture again, at this hour, one of those last Fest-Jubilees–one of those unforgettable assemblies when the zealous admirers of Hahnemann gathered, as we are gathered here tonight, to do honor to one whose name must some day be written in the Valhalla of the Great. At those assemblies gathered his followers from all the nations of the earth. Here we gather, for the most part of but one blood. It is probable that nowhere at the present day are there gathered so many diversified nationalities as at the meetings of the International Homoeopathic League, which, the breech of past hostilities fortunately having been healed, meets the coming year at Paris, where the great Commander himself celebrated so many fetes, so many victories.
This year, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, is the one hundred and fiftieth of the birth of American Independence, and the eighty-second annual assembly of the American Institute of Homoeopathy. As we gather at the Cradle of Liberty in Philadelphia as a national body, and golden summer decks the earth with perfumed fragrance, let us weave our. variegated garlands of hemlock, purple fox-glove and glowing nightshade in all humility and reverence, and crown anew as of old the noble brow of Samuel Hahnemann.
I would that we had a modern David to mould again the great Hahnemanns head. In lieu of the master sculptor, I exhibit here a copy of the famous modelers medallion of Hahnemann, presented to me by my esteemed friend, Dr. Pierre Schmidt, of Geneva, Switzerland. And finally, in lieu of the famous lines of Rummel. I give you this humble tribute to the Father of Homoeopathy:
Meissen, April 10, 1755. Paris, July 2, 1843.
thou who mighty, guardst the mystic scroll,
Where mortal fate upon thy heaving breast.
Each thought, each word, in blazing prints impressed;
Didst thou for once let other hand unroll?
Didst freedom give to one to change the whole,
The message write that ancient wrongs redressed,
Wherein the past its crimes and sin confessed,
Didst thou, Great One, bow down to this great soul?.
For to this son of humble parentage.
Was given grace to blot out every line,
Age-old tradition, folly of his age,.
New truths instil, a law of cure divine.
S. Christian Hahnemann, the Seer, the Sage,
About thy head the laurel we entwine.