From Dresden he was sent upon an expedition to Surinam, a Dutch colony in the north of South America, its purpose being the examination of the interesting flora and fauna there, a commission to which young Hering devoted himself with great enthusiasm. He there made the acquaintance of German missionaries, Moravians, to whom he soon became a friend and medical adviser.


Greeting to the town of Oschatz whose walls enshrined the cradle of him we celebrate today. Greeting to those of his family and relations who have come from Germany and from across the ocean to us. Greetings to all friends of the works of Dr. Constantine Hering.

“Wie an dem Tag, der dich der Welt verliehn,

Die Sonne stand zum Grusse der Planeten

Bist allsobald und fort und fort gediehn

Nach dem Gesetz, wonach du angetreten.

“So must du sein; du kannst dir nicht entfliehn,

So sagten schon Sybillen, so Propheten,

Und keine Zeit und keine Macht zerstuckelt

Gepragte Form, die leband sich entwickelt”.

“As on the day that gave thee to the world,

The sun consociate to the planets stood,

Thou didst prosper, evermore develop

According to the laws that governed them.

“So must thou be; from self thous canst not flee,

So sibyls spoke, so prophets wisely told.

Nor any time, nor any might can break

The graven form by destiny prepared”.

Over everyones life a star presides. Guardian spirits hover near, and demons lie in wait to drag him down. With iron pen the ruinic characters that mark our fate are graven into the book of history. Scratching in, charizo the Greeks have named it, and that which is so inscribed is the character of the man. According to his being his destiny is formed. It was to this natural observation the seeker Goethe gave poetic expression in the above verses.

Happy the man who can see the lines of his destiny, who again according to an ancient Greek word can know himself and act according to this knowledge. Such a man was Dr. Constantine Hering. Today, on the occasion of this celebration, when his life is already familiar to many, we will undertake to observe, from a different viewpoint, according to principles, his life and his labours.

A change of years is surely nothing extraordinary, purely a human arrangement and yet thoughtful people will at mid-night pause to wish one another a happy New Year while folding their hands in gratitude for the old and a wish for the new. Also the division of time into years is based upon ancient astronomical observations and each year bears its stamp upon it. How much more each century. Exactly on the advent of the nineteenth century on January 1, 1800, Constantine Hering was born here in Oschatz in the dwelling of the cantor. His father was organist and choirmaster in the church.

Another natural observation says, “mans years are seventy, if more are added they come to eighty.” This external law was also fulfiled by Constantine Hering. A noble life, full of energy and labor stretches from the young century to July 23, 1880. Another imprint, the third, attaches to this life – the name. Hering signifies leader, general, Constantia: steadfastness, perseverance. A steadfast leader in the army of light, was Constantine Hering. The commander in chief of this army had sounded his call to arms four years before Herings birth.

Samuel Hahnemann then published his first ideas on homoeopathy in Hufelands Journal. This is not the place to enter into the principles of the new system. Only this much may be said that medical science at that time was but poorly equipped. Medical art spent itself in blood-letting, leeching and the mixing of an incredible number of drugs. Hahnemann pondered over that which great physician to Frederick William III and Queen Louise, although never a homoeopathic physician, was generous enough to smooth the way for the new doctrine. Hering, as we will later see, became its true apostle.

He was brought up simply and naturally. He sprang from a prolific family. In him was verified the same observation we so often make in Germany that from such families come notable men (Bach, Lessing, Arndt, Jahr, etc.) He was a good pupil who particularly liked to occupy his mind with the natural sciences and nature studies. His acute thinking powers qualified him to be a mathematician. At the same time there developed in him a strong sense for justice. When the French army marched through Oschatz in 1806 a soldier begged him for bread. He handed him a piece of good plain rye which the Frenchman refused.

He wished for white bread. The blood of the six year old boy was up and he said: “If you will not eat the bread my mother baked God will punish you!” Curiously, as Hering often in his lifetime reaped the fruits of his manly acts, so it happened here. In the disastrous retreat of the army from Russia in 1812 the soldier humbly begged for a piece of black bread. It is told that this time gave him a piece of white.

His aptitude for treating the sick first showed itself when at the age of twelve, he removed a tick, a troublesome parasite, from his sisters scalp. After his schooldays were over Hering attended medical lectures in Dresden, Leipzig and Wurzburg. Early in his years of the study of medicine he was made acquainted with Homoeopathy through the Moravian, Dr. Ruckert, The Moravians again played a part in his later life. Thoughtful and clear thinking in matters of science as Hering was, he did not at once enter the new camp with flying colors. He waited a good while. More vivid experiences brought him nearer to homoeopathy.

In making an autopsy a finger became infected. The wound rapidly became gangrenous. Amputation of the forearm was proposed. It was then that Hering, at the advice of a friend took a homoeopathic dose of Arsenic. His hand and arm were saved. He was at the time an assistant of Surgeon Robbi who at first was favorable to homoeopathy but later turned away from it. Baumgarten, a book publisher, desired a book written to lampoon Hahnemann who had been driven from Leipzig and was to be made impossible in the rest of Germany. Robbi referred this work to his assistant, Hering, who, honoured by the charge, began the work with ardour.

With customary thoroughness, he, to avoid superficial judgment, took up the study of Hahnemanns writings and also began the proving of drugs. In consequence of his conversion to the teachings of Hahnemann, his employer had to be disappointed. From a Saul he had become a Paul. Already Herings fearlessness and steadfastness proved itself when professing his convictions. Because his means were slender he had applied for a stipend, but when this was handed him with a warning to keep away from the heretical doctrine he flung back the money saying: “Rather will I hunger than prove untrue to myself”! In consequence of this manly bearing his principal earnestly looked into the new doctrine and became favorable to it.

With all his firmness, Hering must have possessed an unusual amount of tact not to have made a greater number of enemies. One of his contemporaries, Hornburg by name, who entered the homoeo- ranks with youthful enthusiasm, was so crushed by opposition and legal persecution that he pined away and died at the age of forty-one. It must be admitted that this hot head had made use of the most unpractical methods to convert his friends. Hering dared to make favorable mention of homoeopathy before his medical examiners, and in his thesis, Medicine of the Future, predicted a great future for it.

After having received his diploma, he took a position as teacher in mathematics and natural science in Blockmanns Institute in Dresden, his purpose being to discipline and perfect himself in these branches of learning; another proof of his thoroughness.

From Dresden he was sent upon an expedition to Surinam, a Dutch colony in the north of South America, its purpose being the examination of the interesting flora and fauna there, a commission to which young Hering devoted himself with great enthusiasm. He there made the acquaintance of German missionaries, Moravians, to whom he soon became a friend and medical adviser. In gratitude, they cheerfully assisted him in making provings of drugs which Hering conducted systematically with plants and even snake poisons.

The first proving of Lachesis was made by him. One must realize that under then existing circumstances such a proving required a large measure of personal courage. From that time on he sent regular reports to Germany, above all to his homoeopathic colleagues. The King of Saxony, under whose patronage the expedition had been fitted out, and those in office under him, were, however, not well pleased with this kind of work, and demanded that Hering should abandon his experiments. Hering relates that by return mail he resigned his position. He remained true to his principles and as usual this turned out for the best for himself and his mission.

He had, in the meanwhile, become acquainted with the mayor of the town of Surinam by rescuing and restoring to health one of his friends whom he had found helpless and sick by the wayside. For this benevolent act of Samaritanism the mayor chose him for his medical attendant. Now that he had lost his job he had to look for another. He became a homoeopathic practitioner and settled in Paramaribo, the capital of Surinam. By his thorough fitness for his calling, his love for humanity, his knowledge and skill he soon won the hearts and confidence of all. He did much to relieve the sufferings of those afflicted with leprosy to whom he gave his human sympathy.

It happened that at this time Hahnemann advanced his theory of psor which met with considerable opposition. Hering, who with all his great veneration for Hahnemann, held to his own judgment, often said he could not follow Hahnemann in his theories, while adopting all of his practical rules, he could not help acknowledging the great results obtained from the action of the psoric remedies in the treatment of leprosy.

He made the acquaintance in Paramaribo of a German physician, Dr. Bute, who became his student, and later came to Philadelphia to cope with an epidemic of cholera which raged there at that time. Soon after, Dr. Bute called Hering to his aid, the latter reluctantly leaving his practice to come north. In order to leave a souvenir to the missionaries who had assisted him in making his experiments and in the care of the sick and to enable them to prescribe for themselves as first aid, he wrote his Domestic Physician, which translated into many languages reached an enormous circulation.

He founded the Hahnemannian Society in Philadelphia, and two years later, in 1835, at Allentown, Pa., with Drs. Wesselhoeft, Detwiller, Freytag, Rev. John Helfrich and other German friends, the North American Academy for the Homoeopathic Healing Art. This was the first educational institution for homoeopathy in the world. It was now that Hering more thoroughly became organizer and tactician. The enterprise failed partly because finances had to come from private sources; but mainly, through the dishonesty of a bank official.

Hering strove manfully, offering all his mental and financial resources, which were limited, to help the cause, and a certain amount of good sprang from the failure. Homoeopathy became known, general interest was aroused among the American people who were not so heavily burdened with prejudices. The scientific works on homoeopathy were translated into English and made accessible to American physician.

Hering continued to practise, wrote books, taught indefatigably, in order with his earnings, to further the cause and promote his ideas. In 1848 he founded the Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia. What mattered the thirteen years of uncertainty, opposition, scanty means and care? A born leader is needed to weather so many years of war, unshakeable faith in his inner powers, and a belief in God such as Hering possessed.

The homoeopathic institutions in Philadelphia today represent a value of several millions. Material derived from more than fifty thousand patients furnished seventy professors with the opportunity to instruct about three hundred students clinically in the most modern way. About 3,500 students have graduated from these institutions and become pioneers to carry the work of Hahnemann into all parts of the world.

Later there followed the establishment of homoeopathic colleges and hospitals in Boston, St. Louis, Cleveland, Chicago and New York. Today there are 107 hospitals and colleges in America. This statement does not hold at the present time. – ED. At first there were established by private aid, later the government lent its support.

It cannot be said that Hering was one sided. At the age of seventy he founded a surgical hospital. His interest extended to institutions for the insane, lying-in hospitals, and county hospitals for the poor. In 1892, twelve years after his death, the Hering Institute was established in Chicago.

With all the numerous demands upon his time he was devoted to his family and remained true to his fatherland. A certain steadfastness was manifest in his matrimonial relations. He was married three times. His first wife died in Surinam, his second in Philadelphia. In 1833 when coming to this city, on his way to Germany, once more to visit his old home, he met Marianna Husmann who became his second wife who bore him two children, Max and Odelia. After her death he resolved to continue his journey to the fatherland, where in 1845 in Bautzen he married Therese Buchheim, the daughter of a physician.

In all he had thirteen children. His last wife outlived him a number of years. She was a true helpmate, mother, and companion who sustained him in his manifold labors. In this respect Hering had a happier life than his master Hahnemann for his second wife, Madame Melanie Hahnemann, a French woman, though likewise a clever and competent helper, in whose care he must have taken comfort in his last years, did not have the qualities of heart possessed by Therese Buchheim. This, however, is not the place to go further into the matter.

In other ways, also, Hahnemann might have had cause to envy his disciple, and so wrote in his letters to him. He congratulated him upon his living in the “land of liberty, action and newness,” where his activity was not hampered by restraint and the opposition even of those amongst ones closest colleagues. Hering knew how to appreciate his freedom because he had the proper insight into it. With the genuine high-minded skill of a general leading in battle against spirits he spoke the words: “May it grow green, flourish, blossom and ripen true fruit of freedom, ever hand in hand with law and order and the real science that never comes in conflict with religion and morals”.

In this purity of mind and sincerity he was enabled to push his methods of the utmost to arrive at his goal. He organized fairs and bazaars and entertainments to collect funds for the building of a hospital. His fertile imagination, active in all directions, served him well. He had an inexhaustible talent for writing, not only scientific works, but also novels, poems, fairy tales and verses for songs. He excelled in satire, always employed for the good of the cause, never to injure. In his scientific books there is always to be discovered a grain of Attic salt giving flavor to even the driest material.

As a teacher he excelled in the use of the most characteristic methods. With many a student to whom he wished to make a subject clear, he closed himself until the knowledge was hammered into his head. To students from strange races to whom access to colleges was then made difficult, he was particularly kind and helpful, often inviting them to his home to instruct them.

In a two fold manner, Hering has been compared to Lincoln. Like Lincoln he wished to see slavery abolished, and in another sense he may be said to have freed humanity from the bondage of sickness.

It was not science only that he taught to his students. He aimed to help them to form their characters. Philosophic subtleties he disregarded. His philosophy must be understood by shoemaker and tailor.

Upon himself he made great demands, but in himself he showed great humility. He made his bed in his study, surrounded by many notes and his writing material. When the drawn awoke him he must have everything at hand. At sunrise his soul was uplifted to God. He then, after preparing for himself his morning beverage, over a small flame, began his work. He joined his family at breakfast only twice a year, at Christmas and on New Years day, his birthday. Thus in the performance of his manifold activities as practising physician, humanitarian, and writer he became the “Father of Homoeopathy” in America. He was the recipient of countless honors on the occasion of his fiftieth anniversary of doctor of medicine, and on the celebration of his eightieth birthday. He was always modest and retiring and constantly active.

In his eighty-first year, on July 23, 1880, he passed out while engaged in work upon the third volume of his Guiding Symptoms. Only a few hours before, he had prescribed for a patient in his office. In one of the memorial addresses it is remarked, “He who never rested, rests!” It may be said of him that he was the embodiment of unrest in the pursuit of the development of the new healing art.

He deservedly has the honour of spreading homoeopathy in America, admitting that conditions there were quite other than here. While there had been German homoeopaths over there before him they were far behind Constantine Hering in creative force and organizing ability. His outward unrest was counterbalanced by his deep inner repose. He was a plain, pious man who stood in the radiance that came from his God, and allowed himself to be filled by it. Commit Thy Ways Unto Him (Befiehl Du deine Wege) was his favorite hymn. When asked if he believed in a future life he replied: “If this were not so I would not care to live.” So he continues to live according to his belief and law, and he lives in our remembrance and in that of all those for whom he labored.

Once more I greet the beautiful town of Oschatz which today is about to honor her famous son in so fine and fitting a manner. Gratitude is a virtue of posterity. It is true gratitude to trace the vents that have happened in our own homes and to live over again the deeds of our citizens. To the honor of generals we erect monuments; poets are immortalized in all ways. Constantine Hering belonged to both classes. His great fight is not heralded by loud rumor. His instruments of war were different. As he was wont to write in his delicate yet manly handwriting, “Die milde Macht ist gross” (mild power is great), by which he meant the power of the finely prepared infinitesimal homoeopathic potencies. We also understand by it the all healing power of a pure heart, and the power of Christian love. May it radiate hence forward on you from above, upon your city, upon our German fatherland. God grant it.

H.A. Roberts
Dr. H.A.Roberts (1868-1950) attended New York Homoeopathic Medical College and set up practrice in Brattleboro of Vermont (U.S.). He eventually moved to Connecticut where he practiced almost 50 years. Elected president of the Connecticut Homoeopathic Medical Society and subsequently President of The International Hahnemannian Association. His writings include Sensation As If and The Principles and Art of Cure by Homoeopathy.