Homoeopathy Science of Therapeutics by Caroll Dunham


Last modified on March 28th, 2016


  ANNOTATIONS on the History of Homoeopathic Literature in the English Language. Letter from Dr. Lippe.

Dr. Carroll Dunham in his excellent article “Homoeopathy the Science of Therapeutics,” published in the AMERICAN HOMOEOPATHIC REVIEW, after complaining that it is humiliating to be compelled to say that there are no trustworthy manuals of our Materia Medica in the English language, alludes to the Preface of Jahr’s New Manual and Symptomen Codex, by Dr. Constantine Hering and refers to the to the subsequent publication of that Preface in the original German manuscript, in the Allg. Hom. Zeitung, and which contains also the following foot-note by Dr. Hering: “After comparison of the translation with the original, the above indorsement is hereby altogether and completely with-drawn.” Dr. Dunham further says that if he were asked why this retraction was not made in the language and in the country in which the commendation was suffered to be published, he would have nothing to say. Dr. Dunham further continues: “It avails not to say, why find fault with these translations and this manual, inasmuch as we have no other? Had the unworthiness of these been made known, had they not, on the contrary, been indorsed by high authority, we had long since had other and trustworthy. An exposure of the imperfections we have spoken of would have created a demand for other works, and it is not less true in science than in that ‘demand creates a supply.'”

Dr. D. Wilson, who is not publishing an article in the Monthly Homoeopathic Review, beginning in No. 7, vol. vi., headed “How far is Dr. Hempel to be trusted as a translator of Hahnemann’s works,” says, in that number: “Yet, strange to say, no one, as far as I am aware, has hitherto publicly pointed out the blunders that have been perpetrated by Dr. Hempel in his voluminous translations of Hahnemann’s works.” To correct the above erroneous statements allow me then to publish the following facts:

Jahr’s New Manual and Symptomen Codex, by Dr. C.J. Hempel, vol. iii., was reviewed by me for the Philadelphia journal of Homoeopathy, in 1852, in vol. i., page 427 to 432, my name not appearing. Dr. Hempel puts in a demurrer in vol. i., page 467 to 476 of the same Journal, dated December 15th, 1852. In col. i., page 518 to 521 of that Journal, I felt compelled as the Author of the Review to answer, and there say: “I write (this criticism) for the American Homoeopathists, to vindicate ourselves before the world,” etc. Dr. Hempel answers again, February 24th, 1853, vol. i., page 549, and remarks that the interest of the publisher must be protected; he then appeals to the recommendations of Dr. C. Hering in the preface to the first volume of the work, to which I replied, March 24th, 1853, vol. ii., page 59 to 61, vindicating DR. Hering by stating that he could not then publish his original German preface or its correct translation, nor could he withdraw his recommendations in the country in which that commendation was published, as the Homoeopathic Journal then published was in the hands of the publisher of the New Manual, who would not receive and circulate communications adverse to his interests. I further then gave there the foot-note of Dr. Hering in the Allg. Hom. Zeitung, above referred to. “After comparing the translation with the original, I solemnly withdraw this my above communication and indorsement.”

Dr. Hempel again replies, in vol. ii., pages 318 and 319, declaring me to stand convicted of libel, threatening legal proceedings or demanding an arbitration by committee. The committee report of the 24th of September and the 8th of October, 1853, is published in vol. ii., page 430, and this committee, having examined Dr. C. Hering’s original German manuscript of the preface to the New Manual and its publication in the Allg. Hom. Zeitung, with the translation by Dr. Hempel as published, find, that the point assumed by me, viz., that the translation of DR. C. Hering preface to the New Manual and Symptomen Codex contained wilful perversions and omissions, has been established. A reply to this report by Dr. C. Hempel is published in vol ii. page 573, in which he boldly denies that he is guilty to any essential alterations. Later the publishers succeeded in obtaining by some means the names of a few physicians as a recommendations to the Complete Repertory.

The Review was published ten years ago. It has only the effect to procure for Dr. C. J. Hempel a professorship in the Pennsylvania College of Homoeopathy. What effect his teachings and publications had while Professor in that Institute are well known.

That ten years later DR. Wilson, in England, and Dr. Dunham, in the United States, should indorse my review of 1852 is exceedingly gratifying to me, but unfortunately does not remedy the evil done to Homoeopathy and its progress during that length of time.

I sincerely hope that Drs. Wilson and Dunham will be more successful in 1862 in arousing the English-reading members of the profession to the necessity of accurate translations and correct versions of Hahnemann’s writings and our standard works.. AD. LIPPE, M.D.

NOTE. The facts respecting the publications in the Philadelphia Journal in 1852-53, are essentially as above stated by Dr. Lippe. The reasons why they did not attract general attention and were not accepted by the profession as a withdrawal, by Dr. Hering of his strong indorsement of Dr. Hempel’s translation of the Symptomen Codex, I suppose to be the following:

1. The first paper by Dr. Lippe was anonymous, and therefore was not authoritative in any personal sense.

2. The foot-note attached by Dr. Hering to the German publications of his preface was not quoted by Dr. Lippe until after a succession of demurrers by Dr. Hempel and replications by himself had given the matter the aspect of a somewhat personal controversy; and even then it was introduced as a kind of bitter dictum, because the foot -note referred to the “Symptomen Codex or New Manual,” in two volumes, whereas DR. Lippe’s review had treated almost exclusively of the Repertory, or vol. iii.

Now, this repertory was really to all intents and purposes not so much a translation as a new work by Dr. Hempel, and he is entitled to commendation or adverse criticism according to the merits or demerits of the work, as an Author rather than as a Translator. In such a capacity Dr. Hering’s foot-note and preface could hardly refer to hi,, and hence the foot-note, introduced “by the way,” in Dr. Lippe’s letter concerning his review of the REpertory failed to attract general attention and to vindicated Dr. Hering.

But the above “annotations” are entirely satisfactory. Coming, as they do, from a confidential friend of Dr. Hering, and with his express sanction and approval, they are a complete withdrawal of his indorsement of the English version of Jahr’s New Manual. They give, moreover, a satisfactory reason why this withdrawal could not have been published at an earlier date in this country, viz., the fact that the publishing interest controlled all of our Journals from the year 1850 to 1858, to such an extent that nothing in the shape f an adverse criticism of any important publication was allowed to appear in any Journal. This statement the writer can corroborate from personal experience.

While accepting Dr. Lippe’s annotations as full and satisfactory on these points, I am not disposed to adopt unreservedly his criticisms of Dr. Hempel. I have no evidence that the errors and omissions which render it impossible to receive his works, as trustworthy translations of the books they profess to represent, are willful or malicious. I think they may be all accounted for by the fact that the translations were made in haste and therefore carelessly, and that to some of the tasks which he undertook Dr. Hempel may have been, at the time, hardly competent. And when we consider the immense amount of labor required by these numerous translation, we can hardly wonder that errors have been committed and omissions made. Unhappily, this does not make the books any less undeserving of confidence. Of course an error or an omission is just as fatal t the trustworthiness of a translation, whether it be the result of haste, of carelessness, or of willful perversion-but the interests of science do not require the critic to go beyond a statement of the fact that the work is not trustworthy, and of the particulars in which it fails.

In my remarks on Manuals to which DR. Lippe alludes, I refer only to that part of the New Manual which relates to the Materia Medica. The faults of the English version of the preface, however provoking to the Author of the preface, have not the same kind of relation to the general interests of the science. They do, however, concern the personal and professional reputation of Dr. Gardiner, Editor of the Philadelphia, Journal of Homoeopathy at the time of the publication of Dr. Lippe’s Review of the Repertory before alluded to.


PHILADELPHIA, August 18th, 1853.


Sir: You say, in your Journal, the last number, page 318, you “wish to deal justly” “nothing further to be published on that subject.” On the same page you allow your own name to be put at the head of a committee to examine the original manuscript of Dr. Hering’s preface, or as an alternative the mean treat of setting New-York pettiforggers upon the first one who has had ability and courage to awake the attention of American Homoeopaths to the danger to which monopolizing and book manufacturing leads our cause. I am willing to lay in the hands of any respectable committee meeting in Philadelphia, at any time.

1. My original manuscript.

2. The verbatim printed copy in the Allg. Hom. Zeitung.

3. The English translation of it as a preface to the Symptomen Codex.

4. A comparison of the translation with the original, pointing out the willful perversions and omissions.

Said committee, according to common sense and custom, cannot have any interested parties members of it, but ought to be appointed by them, and of course only of such physicians as understand the German language. You ought to be the umpire. Is not your Journal the proper organ in which such a report of such a committee ought to be published?





Address, delivered at the semi0annual meeting of the Homoeopathic Medical Society of the State of New-York, Albany, February 10, 1863.

Gentlemen of the Society:

By the request of your president and other officers, I appear before you to perform that duty which, on such an occasion as this, devolves upon the president of the Society, but which the special engagements of that officer, at this season of the year, in New-York, have prevented his fulfilling.

The session of this evening brings to a close the first regular meeting of the Homoeopathic Medical Society of the State of New-York.

The object of this Society is declared to be “the advancement of the science of medicine.”

In these days, when the value of associated labor is so well understood, one might certainly ask, with surprise, “Can it be that, prior to this year, there has existed in the State of New-York no central organization for the advancement of the science of medicine?”

The fact is, there has been a State Medical Society in active operation since 1806. Its object is the same as that of our Society; its organization and its mode of operation are identical with ours.

What, then, is necessity for a second Society? Why should men of the same profession, engaged in similar labors, for a common object, divide their forces, and thereby diminish their efficiency? What is the nature of the antagonism which this division implies, and what is the necessity for its perpetuation? Candid and exhaustive replies to these questions will explain and justify our position of separation from the Old School of medicine. They will, at the same time, sharply define the outlines of that branch of medical science to which we have especially devoted ourselves, and will give us a clear view of the labors which devolve upon us for its advancement and development.

I propose, therefore, to discus this antagonism- first from a historic and then from a philosophical point of view.

Samuel Hahnemann, the great reformer of medicine, was a regularly educated physician, of great learning and very uncommon general culture and literary attainments. In the words of Sir John Forbes, who surely cannot be accused of any partiality for the founder of Homoeopathy: “No candid observer of his actions, or candid reader of his writings, can hesitate for a moment to admit that he was a very extraordinary man, one- whose name will descend to posterity as the exclusive excogitator and founder of an original system of medicine, probably, to be the remote, if not the immediate, cause of more important fundamental changes in the practice of the healing art than have resulted from any promulgated since the days of Galen himself; ** he was undoubtedly a man of genius, and a scholar; a man of indefatigable industry and of dauntless energy.” (1 British and Foreign Medical Review, xli., 1846).

Hufeland, the Nestor of orthodox medicine in Germany, in calling attention to an essay published by Hahnemann, in his Journal, in 1801, speaks of him as “one of the most distinguished physicians in Germany.”

This being the estimate in which Hahnemann was held by his most distinguished contemporary (Hufeland) and by his most learned critic (Forbes), both of whom, be it observed, were opposed to the medical reform which he had instituted, let us glance at this professional career.

After practitioner in various localities and positions, with such success and acceptance as to acquire the reputation which Hufeland records of being “one of the most distinguished physicians in Germany,” Hahnemann tells the profession, in several essays on medical subjects, that he has become so deeply convinced of the uncertainty of medical practice, and of the positive injurious effects of many methods in common use among physicians at that day, that at length he really doubts whether his patients would not, in many cases, have thriven as well, or better, without his aid as with it.”

This conviction of the uncertainty of medicine, this suspicion of the injury which it sometimes inflict on the patients, were not peculiar to Hahnemann. Girtanner and several others, before his day, expressed them. Sir John Forbes, from whom we have already quoted, says, in 1846, of the medical method of our own time, “In a considerable proportion of diseases it would fare as well, or better, with patients, in the actual condition of the medical art, as more generally practiced, if all remedies, at least all active remedies, especially drugs, were abandoned.” “Things (in medicine( have arrived at such a pitch, that they cannot be worse; they must mend or end.” (1 British and Foreign Medical Review, xli, 1846.) Such views have been repeatedly expressed by members of the medical profession in this country.

Hahnemann has said nothing severe nor more sweeping than this condemnation of practical medicine, by the late head of the profession in England.

But what did Hahnemann do when the become convinced of the inutility and mischievousness of the current medical methods? Did he continue a routine practice for the sake of “making a living?” B\No! like a noble, honest man, he refused to make a pretense of curing where he believed he did not cure. He relinquished the practice of medicine and devoted himself to the collateral science of chemistry and to literary labors. But his mind was ever at work on the great question of the improvement of the practice of medicine, for he was “sure that the Creator had not left His creatures without a means of succour from the pangs and ravages of disease.”

Thus intent on this subject, he could not fail to remark that although the prevailing treatment of diseases was, in general, blind and at least ineffectual to cure, yet there were certain remedies which were used in the case of certain diseases with almost uniformly happy result-or at least with such results as left no room for doubting that in these cases, at least, real cures were effected. This he had observed to be the result of the use of mercury in certain cases, not unfrequently encountered by medical men; but his attention was especially called to the fact in connection with Peruvian bark, the febrifuge properties of which had, during the latter part of the preceding century, become well established and highly prized on the continent.

“If,” he thought to himself, “if the number of these specific remedies could be vastly increased, and if some system could be discovered in accordance with which we could ascertain their exact properties and could know before-hand in what cases of disease they would be applicable, then indeed would the uncertainties of medical practice be removed, then might we anticipate as great success in the treatment of all diseases as we not attain in the treatment of a few for which we have specifics.”

This desire for specific was not original with Hahnemann. It has been expressed before his day by Bacon and by Boyle. Sydenham had longed for them in expressions almost pathetic in their hopelessness. But Hahnemann, with his “dauntless energy and indefatigable industry,” went to work to discover this system.

A casual observation in Cullen’s Materia Medica gave him the clue to his discovery, as the falling apple did to Newton, and the swinging chandelier in the church at Pisa, to Galileo. From this observation it occurred to him that provings of drugs upon healthy persons might furnish a knowledge of their specific properties, and that the administration of drugs in cases presenting symptoms similar to those which the drug produces in the healthy, subject, might be the law of the application of specifics.

About the author

Carroll Dunham

Carroll Dunham

Dr. Carroll Dunham M.D. (1828-1877)
Dr. Dunham graduated from Columbia University with Honours in 1847. In 1850 he received M.D. degree at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York. While in Dublin, he received a dissecting wound that nearly killed him, but with the aid of homoeopathy he cured himself with Lachesis. He visited various homoeopathic hospitals in Europe and then went to Munster where he stayed with Dr. Boenninghausen and studied the methods of that great master. His works include 'Lectures on Materia Medica' and 'Homoeopathy - Science of Therapeutics'.

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