CLEANSING THE AUGEAN STABLE.
Hahnemann’s work was of a threefold kind. He had first to clear his ground of the rubbish of ages, taking care to preserve everything of value that lay concealed among the heaps; he had to build a new edifice on the ground he cleared; and all the time he had to defend his work and himself against the attacks of his numberless foes the blind lovers of darkness, the pharisaic stickers of the old order, right or wrong, for, as there were those in the days of plato who would rather be in error with him than be right with any less authority; and as, in Harvey’s time, almost all his professional brethren declared that they would rather be wrong with Galen than be “circulators” with Harvey; so at the beginning of this boasted Nineteenth Century of ours-and I fear not at the beginning alone-the medical profession were almost unanimous in preferring to slay with Galen secundum artem- according to the most approved rules of their art-than to heal with the revolutionary Hahnemann. And verily they did slay secundum artem, as we shall presently see.
The one measure most relied on by the physicians of Hahnemann’s time in their endeavours to combat disease was blood- letting.
Next in importance to this came the administration of complex mixtures, the prescriptions for which were regarded as in themselves works of art to be compiled as carefully as a sonnet, almost as much for the admiration of awe-struck apothecaries as for any possible good the compounds might do to the patients. Hahnemann’s keen eye soon perceived the folly and the wrong of both of these fashionable measures. in 1791, translation of “Monro’s Materia Medica,” Vol.II P.275. Ameke P. 76.just when the idea of homoeopathy had taken possession of his mind, we find him writing of blistering and bleeding in this philosophical strain:- “It is the common delusion that the sores produced by vesicating agents only remove the morbid fluids. When we consider that the mass of the blood during its circulation is of uniform composition through out, that the blood vessels give off no great variety o matter under otherwise identical conditions; no rational physiologist will be able to conceive how a vesicating agent can select, collect and remove only the injurious part of the humours. In fact the blister under the plaster is only filled with a part of the common blood when it is drawn from a vein. But according to the insane idea at these short-sighted doctors, venesection, too, draws off the bed blood only, ad continued purging only evacuates the depraved humours. It is terrible to contemplate the mischief which these universally held foolish ideas have caused.”
In the following year, 1792, Hahnemann’s sentiments on this question brought him for the first time into open conflict with his professional brethren. He alone of all men had the courage to criticise publicly the medical treatment of the Emperor Leopold II. of Austria, who died secundum artem, in this way.-
“The monarch was on the 28th of February attacked with Rheumatic Fever”,-This is the report of Lagusius, the Physician in Ordinary to the Emperor, with a running commentary (in the brackets) by Hahnemann:- “and a chest affection (which of the numerous chest affections, very few of which are able to stand bleeding? Let us note that he dose not say pleurisy, which he would have done to excuse the copious venesections if he had been convinced that it was this affection.) and we immediately tried to mitigate the violence of the malady by bleeding and other needful remedies (Germany-Europe-has a right to ask; which?) On the 29th the fever increased (after the bleeding! and yet) three more venesections were effected, where upon some (other reports say distinctly-no) improvement followed, but the ensuing nigh was very restless and weakened the monarch (just think! it was the night and not the four bleedings which so weakened the monarch, and her Lagusius was able to assert this positively), who on the last of March began to vomit with violent retching and threw up all he took (nevertheless his doctors left him, so that no one was present at his death, and indeed after this, one of them pronounced him out of danger).