Under the above title, Brander Matthews, Professor of Dramatic Literature at Columbia University, has written a very interesting and delightful collection of essays by way of reminiscences.
“When a man squares himself at his desk,” he writes “and for a moment stays his hand from the pen while he tries to squeeze the sponge of memory” – to borrow the apt phrase of Henry James – when he seeks to recall and to set in order his most salient recollections, he finds himself confronted by the duty of making a choice between the two kinds of autobiography, loosely so called; He must decide whether he will write about himself, bringing up to date the log of his own voyage through life, or whether he will not talk mainly about his fellow – passengers on that Noahs Ark whereon we are all embarked as it drifts over the endless waters. If he shall choose rather to recall what he remembers about others than what he remembers about himself, the result will be only a book of reminiscences, and a true autobiography.
I should like to reminisence at this time of these many years – they really are but few in number – that I have had the honor of being a number of this Society (it is, in fact, but a dozen short years). It is not, however, to speak of my own experience, or of my own decades, but to go back over these many years bridging a century to the introduction of homoeopathy in America – not entering into a discussion of all the interesting history of that period. In fact this period has already been reviewed most exhaustively and admirably by Dr. Stuart Close, in his paper on ” A century of Homoeopathy in America.” published in THE HOMOEOPATHIC RECORDERS for November, 1925.
There are a few salient features pertaining to our discussions of Hans Burch Gram and his associates that were not brought to light upon the occasion of the Centenary Celebration of the Introduction of Homoeopathy into American Some of these points were singularly neglected, if not in a great measure entirely overlooked; and it is to the consideration of some of data that I wish to call the attention of the International Hahnemannian Association at this time.
The facts concerning Gram himself, and his immediate associates. Dr. John F. Gray, Dr. R.B. Folger, his friend Mr. Wilsey (vide Trans. Worlds Homoeopathic Convention, 1876, p. 440, et seq.) Dr. A.G Hull, the first student of homoeopathy in America. et al., were comparatively well covered at that time. a few important points, are however, worthy of note.
First as to Gram; As we generally know, he was the grandson of a wealthy sea captain of Copenhagen. His father, Hans Burch Gram, was private secretary to the Governor of the Danish Island of SantaCruz, who while touring the United States en route to his destination, in the year 1782 (or 1783), stopped in Boston at a well-known hostelry. Here he met and married (against his fathers consent) a Miss Burdick, the daughter of the tavern keeper. Resigning thereupon from his position he remained in Boston until his fathers death, which occurred, in all probability in 1803; he himself died on the eve of his departure to Denmark to attend to his inheritance. For, as is always the case in well – regulated romances, his dignified and worthy parent had repented his rash act in disinheriting his son and, upon reconsideration, had bestowed upon him the bulk of his property, which for the times, was a sizeable legacy.
The sons story is soon told; On the death of his father (who had earned a meager existence for himself and family as an organist and teacher of music and while in Boston had lived at successive periods on Common Street) Gram left America in 1803 for Copenhagen, at the age of eighteen to attend to his family estates, which were now descended to him He was successful in recovering to a large extent the family inheritance, but not being content merely with the life of a gentleman of leisure, he resolved upon some useful pursuit. At the suggestion of his uncle, Dr. Fenger, who was a physician to the king he began the study of medicine; and so gifted was he that he graduated from the University of Copenhagen with the highest of the three honors conferred, the degree of C.M.L. (Magister in Surgery), and being held in high esteem in court circles, he soon acquired a distinguished practice.