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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 Homeopathic Review, after complaining (page 263) 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 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“After comparison of the translation with the original, the above endorsement is hereby altogether and completely withdrawn.” Dr. Dunham further says (page 265), 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 others. Had the unworthiness of these been made known, had they not, on the contrary, been endorsed by high authority, we had long since had others 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 then in trade that 'demand creates a supply.'”

Dr. D. Wilson who is now 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 (page 403), “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 Vol. 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 recommendation 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 footnote 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 endorsement.”

Dr. Hempel again replied in Vol. II, page 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's 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 of any essential alterations. Later the publisher succeeded in obtaining by some means the name of a few physicians as a recommendation to the Complete Repertory.

The Review was published ten years ago. It had 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 endorse 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.

Philadelphia, December 7th, 1862. 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 endorsement 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 publication 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 obiter 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 him, and hence the foot-note, introduced “by the way,” in Dr. Lippe's letters concerning his review of the Repertory failed to attract general attention and to vindicate 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 endorsement 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 of 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 wilful 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 translations, 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 to the trustworthiness of a translation, whether it be the result of haste, of carelessness, or of wilful 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. Hering, and at his request we publish a letter addressed by him to Dr. Gardiner, Editor of Philadelphia Journal of Homoeopathy, at the time of the publication of Dr. Lippe's Review of the Repertory, before alluded to. Dunham.


Philadelphia, August 18th, 1853.

Dr. Wm. Gardiner,

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 threat of setting New York pettifoggers 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 wilful 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.

(Signed), Yours, Constantine Hering.


HYDROPHOBIA FROM THE BITE OF A SKUNK. — We have received from Dr. C. T. HARRIS, of Delavan, Walworth Co., Wis., an interesting account of a case of Hydrophobia consequent upon the bite of a Skunk.

January 1, 1862. A child often years was seen by her parents, not far from their dwelling, with something apparently in her arms, screaming. The object proved to be a skunk (Mephitis putorius), which clung to her and could not be shaken off. It had bitten her hand and she was holding it by the neck to prevent it biting again. It was promptly killed. The wound healed readily.

Two weeks afterwards, in the same neighborhood, another skunk, which had been caught alive in a trap, was teased for sometime by a lad and finally broke its cage and escaped. Meeting a child soon after it sprang upon her and bit her hand severely. In a few weeks she was seized with Hydrophobia and died in three days.

This death alarmed the parents of the first child, who thereupon consulted Dr. Harris, the child meanwhile appearing well. He gave as a prophylactic Bell. 3. The second or third dose produced decided effects. The child said she “felt badly all over, in her feet, as if she would kick, and in her teeth as if she wished to bite.” Medicine was discontinued. The symptoms soon disappeared and the child has continued well.


Source: The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 03 No. 07, 1863, pages 333-336
Description: Miscellaneous 07; Controversy regarding Hempel's translations; Letter from Dr. Hering; Hydrophobia From The Bite of a Skunk.
Author: Ahomeo03
Year: 1863
Editing: errors only; interlinks; formatting
Attribution: Legatum Homeopathicum
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