The following vivid pen-picture of Hahnemann in his brilliant sunset-days in Paris, was painted by a contemporary and friend, Ernest Legouve of the Academie Francaise, in his Sixty Years of Recollections and translated by A. It comes to us, as circulated in a small pamphlet many years ago. ED.
THE FOUNDER OF THE HOMOEOPATHIC TREATMENT OF DISEASE.
Samuel Hahnemann was one of great revolutionaries of the nineteenth century. It was he who, towards 1835, began a revolution in medical science, which still lasts. I am not discussing the system, I am simply stating the fact. An accident, for which I could not be sufficiently grateful, brought me in contact with him at the moment when his reputation was fast changing into fame. I contributed, perhaps, something to this, and the story of the intimate friendship that sprang up between us may aid the reader in gaining and idea of that extraordinary and superior human being.
My little daughter, then about four years old, lay dying. Our family physician, who was attached to the Hotel Dieu, Dr. R., had told one of our friends in the morning that her condition was hopeless. Her mother and I were watching, perhaps for the last time, by her bedside. Schoelcher and Goubaux were with us, and in the room was also a young man in evening dress, who three hours before was a stranger to us. His name was Amaury Duval, one of the most promising pupils of M. Ingres.
We had wished to preserve at least a visible remembrance of the dear little creature we were already bewailing as lost, and Amaury, at the urgent request o Schoelcher, had left a reception, in order to paint that said portrait. When the dear and charming fellow to paint that sad portrait. When the dear and charming fellow (who was only twenty- nine then) entered the room, deeply moved by our despair, neither we nor he suspected that a few hours later he should render us the greatest service anyone could render us, and that we should be indebted to him for more than the image of our daughter, namely-for her life.
He took up his position at the foot of the cot; the light of a lamp which had been placed on a high piece of furniture fell on the face of the child. Her eyes were already closed, the dishevelled hair was falling on her temples, the small face and hands were almost as white as the pillow on which her head reclined; but childhood itself is invested with such charms, that her approaching death seemed to shed an additional grace on her features. Amaury spent the greater part of the night in making his sketch, the poor fellow furtively wiping his eyes now and then lest his tears should drop on the paper. Towards morning his drawing was finished, and influenced by his own emotion, he had simply drawn a masterpiece.
He was just going, accompanied by our affectionate and heartfelt thanks, when all of a sudden he stopped, “Look here!” he said, “seeing that your doctor has declared the case to be hopeless, why not call to your aid that new system of medicine which is beginning to make so much noise in Paris; why not send for Hahnemann?” He is right!” exclaimed Goubaux, “Hahnemann is my neighbour, he lives in the Rue de Milan, opposite my place. I do no know him but that will make no difference. I am going to him and will bring him back with me” When Goubaux got to Hahnemanns there were at least twenty people in the waiting room.
The servant explains that he must wait for his turn. “Dont talk about waiting,” shouts Goubaux. “My friends daughter is dying; the doctor must go back with me immediately.” “But, monsieur-” protests the servant. “Yes!I understand, I understand,” says Goubaux, “I came in last. What does that matter? The last shall be the first, says the gospel.” Then turning to those around him, he added, “Is it not so, mesdames? Am I not right in supposing that you will give me your turn?” and without waiting for an answer, he makes straight for the doctors consulting room.
“Doctor,” says he to Hahnemann, “I know I am acting in defiance of all regulations and conventionality, but you must put aside everything and come with me. I want to take you to a little girl of four, who will surely die if you do not go to her; you cannot let her die, can you?” and his irresistible fascination produces its usual effect; an hour afterwards, Hahnemann and his wife enter the sick room, accompanied by Goubaux.
In spite of all my trouble and grief, in spite of my brain racking with pain for want of sleep, I could not help comparing the man who entered the room to one of the characters from the weird tales of Hoffman. Short, but well-knitted, and walking with firm step, wrapped in a fur coat from nape to heel, and leaning on a thick cane with golden knob, he walked at once to the bedside.
He was close upon eighty then, with an admirable head of long and silky hair combed backwards, and carefully arranged into a roll around the neck; eyes of a dark blue in the centre, with an almost white ring round the pupil; a proud, commanding mouth, with protruding lower lip and aquiline nose. After having cast a first look at the child, he asked for particulars of her illness without taking his eyes off her for an instance. Then his cheeks flushed, the veins in his forehead stood out like whipcord, and in an angry voice exclaimed, “Fling all those drugs out of the window; every vial and bottle thats there. Take the cot from this room, change the sheets and pillow, and give her as much water as she will drink.
They have lighted a furnace in the poor childs body. We must first of all extinguish the fire. After that well see.” We timidly objected that this change of temperature and linen might prove very dangerous to her. “What will prove fatal to her,” was the answer, “is this atmosphere and the drug! Carry her into the drawing-room, Ill come back tonight; and above all give her water, as much water as possible.” He came back that night; he came back next morning, and began to give her medicines of his own. He expressed no opinion as to the final issue, but merely said each time, “We have gained another day.” On the tenth day the danger grew all at once imminent. The childs knees had almost become rigid with the chill of death.
At eight oclock at night he made his appearance and remained for a quarter of an hour. Apparently he was in a state of intense anxiety, and having consulted with his wife, who always accompanied him, he careful to note whether between now and one oclock her pulse becomes stronger.” At eleven oclock I was holding my daughters arm, when I fancied I felt a slight modification in the pulsation. I called my wife, I called Goubaux and Schoelcher. Let the reader picture to himself the four of us, looking at his watch, counting the beats of the pulse, nod daring to affirm anything, fearing to rejoice until a few minutes had elapsed when we absolutely flung ourselves into one anothers arms; the pulse had “gone up.”
Towards midnight Chretien Urhan entered the room. After looking at the child he drew to my side saying with an air of profound conviction, “My dear M. Legouve, your daughter is safe.” “She as for her being out of danger, let alone on the way to recovery”.. “I tell you she is safe,” he insisted; then bending over the cot by which I was sitting alone, he kissed her on the forehead, and went away. A week later the patient was, in fact, on the road to recovery. This cure assumed the importance of an event in Paris, I might almost say that it created a scandal! I was not altogether unknown, and people freely used the words “miracle” and “resurrection.”
The whole of the medical faculty showed itself intensely annoyed and poor Dr. R-was taken to task by all his colleagues. Very animated discussions took place both in society and at the Faculty. One physician was not ashamed to say aloud in M. de Jouys drawing- room, “I am very sorry his little girl did not die.” The majority of the doctors confined themselves to repeating the parrots cry: “Its not the quack who has cured her, but nature; he simply benefited by the allopathic treatment left to him by his predecessors.” To all of which objections I simply made the same answer I still make. What does it matter to me whether he was the cause or the means of saving her? What does it matter to me whether she was saved at his hands or between his hands? Was she as good as dead when he entered my house? Was she cured when he left it?
I wish to know no more than that, in order to be everlastingly grateful to him. Though I may prove faithless to his doctrine, I will not be faithless to his memory, and to me he will always remain one of the most potential men I ever met. The very way in which he conceived his doctrine is in itself a portrait. Was it calculation, self-interest, desire for fame that led to the conception? Did he arrive at it by purely scientific research? Not at all! The system sprang from his patients the most powerful and wealthy in Germany, he claimed one day the co- operation of one of his colleagues for his youngest child. The case was very serious, and the most drastic treatment resorted to.
All at once, after a terrible night of suffering on the part of the little one, Hahnemann beside himself with pity and grief, exclaimed, “No, it is not possible that God should have created those dear and innocent beings for us to inflict such tortures upon. No,a thousand times, no! I will not be the executioner of my children,” and aided by his profound knowledge of chemistry begotten from long study, he rushed as it were in quest of new remedies, and built up a complete medical system, of which his fatherly affection was virtually the foundation. [ All this is inexact, Hahnemann made no theory, but made the discovery that “Like cures like.”] Such was the man, and as he was then, he had always been.
The powerful structure of his face, his square jaws, the almost incessant quiver of his nostrils, the constant twitching of the mouth, the corners of which had dropped from age, everything of the mouth, the corners of which had dropped from age, everything attested conviction, passion, power. His language was as original as his character and figures. One day I asked him why he always prescribed water even to people in good health? “What is the use of crutches to people who have got sound legs, and wine is after all no better than crutches.” It is also from his lips that I heard that strange sentence which, taken in its absolute sense, is apt to puzzle one, but which, if properly understood, goes to the very foundation of medical science.
“There are no disease, there are people who are ill.” His religious faith was as intense as his medical faith. I had two striking proofs of this. One spring day, on entering his room, I said, “Oh, monsieur, what a beautiful day.” “They are all beautiful days,” he replied in his calm and grave voice. Like Marc Aurelius, he lived in the bosom of a harmonious universe. When my daughter was quite recovered, I showed him the charming drawing of Amaury Duval. He looked for a long while, and with intense emotion, at the picture of the dear little creature he had snatched as it were from the jaws of death, at the little creature such as he had seen for the first time when she was on the brink of the grave; then he asked me to give him a pen, and he wrote at the bottom:.
“God has blessed her and saved her.
He simply looked upon himself as a minister who countersigns the orders of his master.