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Monthly Homoeopathic Review, edited by John Ryan, M.D. London, Henry Turner & Co.

This vigorous journal which comes to us with great punctuality, each number well stored with original or selected matter of great value to the practitioner, has attained, as it deserves, a large circulation in England, where it is unquestionably exerting an influence very favorable to the spread of Homoeopathy.

In number seven of the current volume (sixth) appears the first of a series of articles by Mr. D. Wilson, of London, entitled “How far is Dr. Hempel to be trusted as a translator of Hahnemann's works,”

After showing the necessity of absolute accuracy and exactness in such labors as the translation of the provings of remedies, in which the change of a single word or even an error of punctuation may entirely alter the meaning of a symptom and cause a remedy to be used in oases which do not really call for it, or to be neglected in cases for which the practitioner would not hesitate to select it, were the proving so correctly rendered as to give him a true idea of the action of the drug — Mr. Wilson says, “ 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. His errors seem to me, however, of such magnitude, and so seriously retardative of a sound and comprehensive knowledge of Materia Medica, that, if the profession be jealously in earnest about the dissemination and ability of Hahnemann's Homoeopathy, instead of that which is spurious, our duty is plain and imperative.” * * * “It seemed to me a duty to compare Dr. Hempel's translation of the Materia Medica Pura, numbering fifty-four remedies with the German of Hahnemann, a task which has extended over several years and which I have not been able to complete until very recently. The corrections may be surmised when I state that they deface nearly every page of my copy of Dr. Hempel's translation to a far greater extent than I ever remember to have seen in any first proof sheet. Those who will take the same trouble that I have taken to compare the English with the German will discover such errors and omissions in abundance, not to mention the altered punctuation from Hahnemann's text which often obscures the simplicity and force of the original. We also frequently meet with incorrect renderings. The 'feeling and handling of a part' is often translated simply by 'touching.' Nevertheless, the nice distinction between these apparently similar acts may at times help us materially in our diagnosis of the remedy; slight touch causing aggravation, while a firmer grasp gives relief. The throat-pit (halsgrube) is sometimes translated 'pit of the stomach' (herzgrube). 'Violent' is frequently rendered 'long.' The force or intensity of a symptom is often set aside entirely by omitting the degree of comparison, as 'very,' 'most' and so forth. The full expression of a symptom is often only half translated. 'The top of the head' (oberkopf) is at times translated 'forehead' (stirn). The extremities are at times confounded. The sex upon whom the symptoms of a drug proving were manifested is frequently disregarded by the substitution of an indefinite article or of some other word. Symptoms are occasionally transposed and blended with an obscure context and not unfrequently most hideously abridged Schnauben (blowing the nose) is translated by cough (as if it were hasten), etc. In fact the blunders are endless and the literature of so slovenly an author ought to be received with extreme caution.”

“Dr. Hempel, subsequent to his translation of Hahnemann's Materia Medica and Chronic Diseases, issued one also of Jahr's Symptomen Codex with additions from Noack and Trinks; but I find this work is often a mere transcript with all its errors of what he sent forth as a translation of Hahnemann. The text of Jahr's Symptomen Codex is therefore frequently disregarded, so that its translation, the so-called American Jahr, of two large volumes, with a third as a very imperfect Repertory, turns out to be a rechauffe of an old incorrect and imperfect translation, rendered more faulty by an objectionable punctuation.”

Mr. Wilson states that there is reason to hope for a translation of Hahnemann's Materia Medica, “with notes, preface and appendix,' by Dr. Quin, of London, a work which, if done at all, would be sure to be well done and scholarly but which, we fear, we shall never see. After paying a well deserved tribute to the labors of Dr. Drysdale in the department of Materia Medica in which, in philosophic, comprehensive thought, temperate and clear and wise expression, and patient and sagacious study, he stands clearly at the head of English-speaking Homoeopathists — Mr. Wilson proceeds in his examination:

“Facts speak for themselves. I have no other cause to serve than truth, in a matter that concerns the best and dearest interests of suffering humanity. In my examination of the fifth volume of Dr. Hempel's translation of Hahnemann's Chronic Diseases, I have endeavored to be accurate, and the effort has been attended with no small difficulty from the mode in which Dr. Hempel's translations have been punctuated and the symptoms blended,”

“In some places we find commas where there ought to be periods; and in other places translations, the original of which I have failed to discover in the German of Hahnemann. * * * The subjoined enumeration of thirteen valuable remedies will show at a glance how far the translation is 'in perfect accordance with the original:'

“Symptoms Given. by Hahnemann By Hempel. Omitted.
Nitrum, 710 529 181
Petroleum, 770 730 40.
Phosphorus, 1915 1443 472
Phosphoric acid, 818 728 90
Platina, 527 469 76
Sarsaparilla, 561 330 231
Sepia, 1655 1561 94
Silicea, 1193 1082 111
Stannum, 648 591 47
Sulphur, 1969 1745 224
Sulphuric acid, 521 435 86
Zinc, 1375 1175 200
Arsenic, 1231 1104 127”

The above list is perhaps not absolutely accurate. We are led to suppose so from the fact that in a subsequent detailed translation of the symptoms which have been entirely omitted from the translation by Dr. Hempel of the proving of Sarsaparilla, Mr. Wilson gives “236” symptoms while above he states that '231' have been omitted. This is not material to the case, for the omission of even a single symptom would be sufficient to show that the translation is not as it claims to be “in perfect accordance with the original.

Mr. Wilson then quotes and translates the symptoms which Dr. Hempel has “entirely omitted” from his translation of Hahnemann's original. They are “236” in number and occupy nearly nine pages of the Monthly Homoeopathic Review.

Mr. Wilson then gives, in addition to the above, a list of the symptoms of Sarsaparilla which have, in the translation by Dr. Hempel, been partially omitted or otherwise so far inaccurately rendered as to cripple and alter their value, giving in parallel columns Dr. Hempel's translation and an accurate rendering of the original. This list occupies nearly seven pages of the Monthly Homoeopathic Review. In conclusion Mr. Wilson says:

“After the knowledge I have acquired and the recent proofs which I have given of Dr. Hempel's grave errors and omissions, I am compelled not only to express my utter distrust of him as a translator of Hahnemann's works on MATERIA MEDICA but also to denounce his FALLACIOUS and DANGEROUS expository writings on HOMOEOPATHY.”

This review so very damaging in the facts which it lays before us, is yet temperate, even regretful in its language, while in its main purport it is unanswerable and disposes forever of all the claims of Dr. Hempel's translations on the confidence of the profession. It is nevertheless open to objection in one or two minor points, which as they may tend, even though in ever so slight a degree, to exculpate Dr. Hempel it is our duty to mention.

Speaking of the translations of Jahr's Symptomen Codex with additions from Noack and Trinks, “commonly called Jahr's New Manual,” Mr. Wilson says:

“In the American Jahr, which is, as I have already said, almost entirely a rechauffe of Dr. Hempel's previous translations of the Materia Medica Pura and Chronic Diseases, if we examine Calcarea carb. we shall find at page 346 the following notice, '[Those symptoms which are included in brackets belong to Calc. acet.]' In verifying this notice, however, it will be found that Dr. Hempel has so characterized such symptoms '129' times only, being 91 omissions in excess of his prior translation of the same text — the Chronic diseases. He has not thought Baryta carbon. and Baryta acet. worthy of any distinctive notice whatever in the Symptomen Codex, so that practitioners who use this work may select either the Acetate or Carbonate of Baryta just as they please, regardless of all adaptation or fitness.

Now it is a fact that the original Symptomen Codex of Jahr, of which the “New Manual” professes to be a translation, makes no distinction between the symptoms of Calcar. carb. and those of Calcar. acet., nor between those of Baryta carb. and Baryta acet. We cannot in strict justice blame the translator if he adhere to his author even where the latter is careless. We might however commend him if he call attention to and correct the errors of the author whom he is translating. It seems that Dr. Hempel perceived this neglect of Jahr in regard to Calcarea and undertook to correct it. But the “slovenly” and imperfect manner in which Mr. Wilson states that he has done this deprives him of all merit and makes, in fact, his attempted correction only an additional snare to the student.

In some cases too in which a symptom is given with a significance altogether different from that of the original of Hahnemann, we find that Dr. Hempel has correctly rendered Jahr following him even in his blunders. Thus in the proving of Squil. mar. that very valuable cough remedy, in Hahnemann's Arznei-Mittellehre (Vol. III, 3d edition, 1825), we find “43. A tickling (kitzel) internally in the region of the thyroid cartilage, which provokes a cough, whereby the tickling is made still worse.” “45. Frequent irritation, provoking dry, short cough, consisting of four or five coughs, induced by a tickling (kitzel) under (unter) the thyroid cartilage (schild knorpel).

Jahr in his Symptomen Codex, 1843, gives these symptoms as follows: — Cough from irritation (Reiz) in the throat-pit (halsgrubchen). Dry cough from tickling under the xyphoid cartilage (sohwerbknorpel), which becomes still worse from coughing

Dr. Hempel in the “New Manual” renders this passage of his original Jahr as follows: “Titillation in the region of the xyphoid cartilage internally, occasioning a cough, which increased the titillation. Frequent desire to cough, the cough being dry and short, occasioned by a titillation below the xyphoid cartilage.”

Now it will be observed that Hahnemann in two distinct paragraphs designates the seat of the irritation which provokes the cough of Squilla. It is under the thyroid cartilage. He does not mention the xyphoid cartilage nor the pit of the throat, But Jahr changes all that, and destroys the value of this great characteristic of the cough symptoms of Squilla. And Hempel follows him in this. But should not Jahr be blamed for this rather than Dr. Hempel? One would say, yes, assuredly. And yet on referring to Dr. Hempel's translation of Hahnemann's Materia Medica Medica Pura, 1846, we find the above symptoms 43 and 45 rendered as follows:

“43. Titillation in the region of the xyphoid cartilage internally, occasioning a cough, which increased the titillation.

“45. Frequent desire to cough, the cough being dry and short, of four or five turns, occasioned by a titillation below the xyphoid cartilage.”

From this we learn two things, first that the blundering substitute of “xyphoid “for” thyroid” in the New Manual is not excused by the fact that Jahr also made it in his Symptomen Codex, for Dr. Hempel had previously made it in his translation of the Materia Medica Pura of Hahnemann; second, that, in so far at these symptoms at least are concerned, the so-called “Jahr's New Manual” is probably not a strict translation of Jahr's Symptomen Codex, but as Mr. Wilson says “almost entirely a rechauffe of Dr. Hempel's previous translations of the Materia Medica Pura.

But as the “New Manual” contains “additions from Noack and Trinks,” we are bound to see what is said in their manual concerning these symptoms of Squilla, we find “a tickling internally in the region of the thyroid cartilage, which provokes a cough, whereby the tickling is made still worse,” the German being quoted verbatim from Hahnemann's proving. Again for symptom “45. Frequent irritation, provoking dry cough, consisting of four or five coughs, induced by a tickling under the thyroid cartilage,” which is a verbatim reproduction of Hahnemann's symptom 45, with the exception of the word “short” preceding the word “cough.” Thus so far as these symptoms are concerned, Noack and Trinks are faithful to the original. But Noack and Trinks have not been translated into English. The translations, which we, unhappily do possess, make such irreducible confusion of the cough symptoms of Squilla. uncommonly clear, characteristic and valuable as they are, that the poor student stands like the Light Brigade at Balaklava:

Blunders “to right of him,”

Blunders “to left of him,”

Blunders “in front of him,”

Mock and perplex him.

This notice of Mr. Wilson's essay would not be complete if we failed to quote the following passages: “If there be any who put confidence in Dr. Hempel's edition of Jahr's “New Manual “or Symptomen Codex in consequence of Dr. Bering's preface to the same, let them also remember that he, some years since saw fit, in the Allg. Hom. Zeitung to withdraw that preface.”

Nor, when Mr. Wilson says “no one, so far as I am aware, has hitherto publicly pointed out the blunders that have been perpetrated by Dr. Hempel,” should we fail to correct the statement and to remind him that in the Homoeopathic News, published in 1854 and 1855, in Philadelphia, under the Editor-ships of Drs. Hering and Lippe; Dr. Lippe published a series of corrections of Dr. Hempel's translations of Jahr's Symptomen Codex under the title “The First One Hundred Mistakes,” this being the very first time, so far as I know, that attention was called to the demerits of the translation, and Dr. Lippe the first who did it. Dunham.


Bibliotheca Homoeopathica, verzeichniss der In-und-Auslander erschienenen auf die Homoeopathie Being habenden Schriften, Dritte bis zum Jahre 1861 fortgefuhrte Auflage, bearbeitet von Dr. phil. G. O. Kleinert. Leipzig, Baurmgartner. 1862.

A List or the Foreign and Domestic Works which have been published in reference to Homoeopathy. Third edition brought down to the year 1861

In 1700 was published Hahnemann's translation of Cullen's Materia Medica, and twenty years after, in 1810, Hahnemann published his Organon During the interim he published several works preparatory to announcing his new theories and discovery in detail; such were his “Essay upon the new method of discovering the curative powers of medicines, and a criticism upon the methods previously employed,” 1796; an Essay “Are the obstacles to the attainment of certainty and simplicity in the practice of medicine insurmountable,” 1797; and” A new system of medicine, based upon pure experience,” 1805; “An Essay on the value of the speculative systems of medicine.” “Remarks on the insufficiency of the present Materia Medica; ” “Upon the necessity of a reform in the practice of medicine,” published in 1808; “On the signs of the times as regards the practice of medicine,” and “A monograph on the only three possible methods of curing disease” 1809.

Since the publication of the Organon our homoeopathic library has been growing steadily and is not now as meagre as many suppose. In the Bibliotheca Medica Chirurgica, by Carl. J. W. Ruprecht, and in Engelmann's Bibliotheca there is published a list of over 1,300 works on Homoeopathy. This list has been alphabetically arranged by Dr. Kleinert, and the profession are indebted to him for the work which heads our article.

In looking over Dr. Kleinert's book we find errors of omission and commission, and that he may, as he promises, correct them in another edition, we shall notice some of them. Of the German works we find a few omissions. The list of American and English publications is exceedingly faulty.

The Author mentions the North American Homoeopathic Journal containing Dr Metcalfe's “American Homoeopathic Bibliography,” but evidently has not seen it, as, of the one hundred and nine works spoken of therein, he has the names of but seven. Dr. Metcalfe's list was nearly complete up to the time of publication, 1850. Of nearly two hundred works published since then, Dr. K. mentions but twenty-five, making altogether thirty-two works published in this country.

Dr. Atkin's Homoeopathic Directory is left out of his list. In this was a very full Bibliographia Homoeopathica Anglica brought down to the year 1853. Of the two hundred and forty-one books spoken of there, Dr. Kleinert mentions but thirty-six, and of the books published in England since then he gives a list of sixty-eight; making a total of one hundred and four volumes.

The American authors noticed are Beakley, Curtis, Freligh, Gleiwitz, Guernsey, Guilbert, Helmuth, Hempel, Joslin, Lillie, Mabey, Marcy, Oehme, Sherrill and Small; fifteen out of one hundred and over. Joslin is mentioned as the author of an Address before the New York Homoeopathic Medical Society. The American editions of his works are not spoken of, but the English editions and a translation are mentioned. Drs. Hering, Holcombe, Hull and Pulte are noticed only in connection with English editions of their works. We were unaware that editions of either Holcombe's or Hull's works had appeared in England. The compilations of Dr. Peters are utterly ignored, his name is not given once. The names of Drs. Gray and Hull have been removed from the Examiner and Williamson's substituted.

Of errors committed, we notice “Chambers on Digestion,” five of Erasmus Wilson's works, and Wood and Bache's “Dispensatory,” classified as homoeopathic books. With all its inaccuracies we are glad to get it, and hope it will not be long before another edition, with the American and English lists completed, will be issued. S


Source: The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 03 No. 08, 1863, pages 379-384
Description: Book Notices; Dunham's commentary on “how far is Dr. Hempel to be trusted as a translator of Hahnemann's works”; Bibliotheca Homoeopathica.
Author: Ahomeo03
Year: 1863
Editing: errors only; interlinks; formatting
Attribution: Legatum Homeopathicum
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