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With deep sorrow we record the death of this distinguished physician. For many years a warm personal friend of Hahnemann — associated with Hahnemann's immediate pupils, Stapf, Gross, Muhlenbein, Hartmann and Ruckert, in those early labors which placed Homoeopathy on an immovable foundation as a practical method — he survived, an indefatigable laborer in the good cause, long after Hahnemann and his pupils had all passed away.

To the day of his death he was in constant intercourse, by correspondence or through the journals, with all the earnest hard working younger homoeopathic practitioners. He was, therefore, the link connecting the past generation of the Master, and the active generation of today — at once the venerable relic of the former and a trusted leader of the latter.

And now this link is broken. The last “Veteran of the Old Guard” has gone to his rest. The genial voice is hushed forever. The clear, serene and honest eye is closed. The sagacious judgment which so rarely erred — the ever active brain — have ceased from their labors on earth. The kindly heart, whose even beat no selfish impulse over quickened, pulsates no longer.

For us remain — for those who were his personal friends — a deep and abiding sense of a great loss — for the profession in general, the ripe fruits of his experience and scholarship in his published works, and the bright example of his busy life.

CLEMENS MARIA FRANZ, BARON VON BOENNINGHAUSEN, Doctor of Civil and Criminal Laws and of Medicine, was born March 12th, 1785, on the ancestral estate of Heringhaven in Overyssel, a province of the Netherlands. His ancestors, whose names and arms may be traced back into the thirteenth century and one of whom was made an Austrian Field-Marshal by Ferdinand II, in 1632, belonged to the oldest nobility of Westphalia and the Rhine. Inasmuch, however, as for three hundred years past, they had devoted themselves exclusively to the profession of arms, their property always remained quite moderate in amount.

Von Boenninghausen's early youth was passed in the country, where his bodily vigor was fostered by riding, swimming, hunting and other manly exercises, while his mental faculties were but sparingly cultivated. When, therefore, in his twelfth year, he entered the high school in Munster he found his place at the foot of his classes. But his diligence during the first half year was so great that, at the end of that period, he had reached the head, a position he always retained.

After remaining six years at this school, von Boenninghausen went to the University of Groningen, where he spent three years, devoting himself not only to the studies proper to the profession of the law, to which he intended to devote himself but also, and with great zest, to the study of Natural History and of Medicine.

On the 30th of August, 1806, he received the degree of Doctor of Civil and Criminal Laws, and about the 1st of October in the same year he began his career as advocate.

This career was destined to be brief. In August, 1807, von Boenninghausen accompanied his father to Utrecht, whither the latter was sent as delegate from the Electoral Committee of Overyssel to the then king of Holland, Louis, Bonaparte (father of Napoleon III), who at that time resided at Utrecht. Being more familiar with the French language than his companions, the young von Boenninghausen was admitted to the audience to act as interpreter. In consequence of this circumstance he soon received the quite unexpected appointment of Auditor to the State Council. From this time on, his career, at the Court of Holland was a remarkably rapid one. Within a year, he was promoted, over the heads of some colleagues much older than himself, to the post of Auditor to the King, and a fortnight afterwards to that of Secretaire generate des requetes. This laborious but influential office, to which were subsequently added the duties of royal librarian and chief of the topographical bureau, he continued to hold until the abdication of the King of Holland, July 1st, 1810.

After the loss of his very kind and benevolent chief, of whose council he was the youngest member, under circumstances so very painful to him, von Boenninghausen declined every position that was offered him in the service of Holland and returned in 1810 to the paternal estate to devote himself to the study of Agriculture and of the auxiliary sciences, especially that of Botany which gradually became his favorite pursuit.

He married in 1812, and in 1814 removed to his inherited estate of Darop. Here he gradually entered into correspondence with the most prominent Agriculturists of Germany, especially with Thaer and Schwerz. Several essays from his pen appeared in the Moglischen Annalen.

He endeavored by advice and example to improve the agriculture of Westphalia. Among his efforts of this kind, was the founding of the Agricultural Society for the district of Munster, which still exists in a more extended form and which was the first association of the kind in the Western part of the Prussian Monarchy. On the organization of the Prussian provinces of the Rhine and Westphalia in 1816, the position of Landrath for circle of Coesfeld, in which his estate of Darop lies, was offered to von Boenninghausen. He accepted it and filled it until 1822. During this period, the necessity of an appraisement of the two above named provinces of the Rhine and Westphalia was recognized and von Boenninghausen, being the only Landrath, was summoned to the conferences held on the subject at Godesburg, near Bonn, in order that he might testify, as both a theoretically and practically educated agriculturist, on the technology of the appraisements. He was subsequently, in 1822, papointed General Commissioner of Appraisements for the two provinces.

This new office involved almost constant traveling about in these provinces; but this, again, gave him increased opportunities for the study of their flora. He published, in 1824, a “Prodromus Flora Monasteriensts,” which contained much that was new, and which showed the similarity between the Westphalian flora and the English. At this time, also, was entrusted to him the direction of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Munster, which he conducted for many years and through which he came into relations with many of the first Botanists of Europe. In consequence of his agricultural and botanical writings, he received many diplomas from learned societies, and C. Sprugel (Syst. veg., III, 245), and Reichenbach (Uebers. des Gewachsreich, 197), awarded him the highest honor known to a botanist, by each naming a genus of plants after him.

In the autumn of 1827, his health, which had hitherto been very robust, became seriously impaired and his disease, which was pronounced by two most distinguished physicians, to be purulent consumption, grew so rapidly worse that in the spring of 1828 all hope of his recovery was abandoned. This was the first occasion of his acquiring a knowledge of Homoeopathy. Having given up all hope of recovery, he wrote a farewell letter to his old and cherished botanical friend Dr. A. Weihe, of Herford, who was a homoeopathic physician the first in the whole of Westphalia and the Rhine, a fact, however, of which Boenninghausen was not aware, inasmuch at their frequent correspondence had treated only of botanical subjects.

Weihe, much concerned at the intelligence of Boenninghausen's illness, requested an accurate description of the case, expressing the hope that he might be the means of saving his valuable friend through the aid of the newly discovered method of cure. Boenninghausen complied with his request, followed implicitly the directions he received, and gradually recovered, so that, by the end of the summer, he was regarded as cured.

From this period he was not only a decided adherent, but an active and earnest advocate of Homoeopathy. After ineffectual endeavors to arouse an interest on the subject among the physicians of Munster with whom he came into frequent intercourse as member and one of the founders of the Medical Society, he put his own hand to the work, revived the half forgotten knowledge of medicine acquired at the University of Groningen, and had the good fortune to be of service to many who sought his aid. He had not, however, a license to practice as a physician, a fact which might have subjected him to many impediments and disamenities had he undertaken to engage in a general medical practice. For this reason, for a few years he expended his energies to a great extent upon literary labors which had for their object to study thoroughly the practical part of Homoeopathy and to facilitate and extend its application. At length, so generally were his learning and success acknowledged that, by a cabinet order of His Majesty King 'Wilhelm IV, dated July 11th, 1843, all the rights and immunities of a practising physician were bestowed upon him.

It was during the former period, from 1828 to 1843, that most of the systematic works, for which we are indebted to Boenninghausen, were composed and published. These were of a practical nature, designed to aid the student of Materia Medica and the physician at the bedside. They were cordially received, were preferred by Hahnemann to all others, and were used by him to the time of his death. They have served as models, originals, or points of departure for most of the manuals, guides and repertories that have been published. During this period too, Boenninghausen was a constant and prolific contributor to the Archiv., of the new series of which, the Neues Archiv., he became associate editor along with Stapf, after the death of Gross; to the Allgemeine Homoeopathische Zeitung and to the Homoeopathe Belge.

In these labors and in the discharge of his functions as a practitioner, his days were filled with honorable toil. His fame as a successful practitioner and as the acknowledged master of our Materia Medica, brought him many visitors from among professional men. These his genial cordiality converted into warm and steadfast friends. Advancing years dealt with him tenderly and death has at last overtaken him at his post of duty, still earnest in his labors, warm in his friendships and at peace with God and man.

Boenninghausen was in constant correspondence with Hahnemann from 1880 till the death of the old master, and he more than once permitted the writer to examine a large volume of letters from Hahnemann, the last of which was written six weeks before Hahnemann's death.

In 1848 he founded the society of the Homoeopathic Physicians of “Westphalia and the Rhine, the yearly meetings of which still continue. Almost every homoeopathic society has elected him a member. The Homoeopathic Medical College of Cleveland, in 1854, conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine, and, on the 20th of April, 1861, the Emperor of the French, Napoleon III, whom, when a boy, Boenninghausen then, Councillor to Louis of Holland, had known, made him Knight of the Legion of Honor.

Of Boenninghausen's seven sons two have chosen the profession of medicine. The elder (Karl, born November 5tb, 1826) after practising for a year or more in Westphalia, in his father's neighborhood, where his success in treating a severe epidemic of typhus demonstrated his possession of rare endowments and great knowledge, is now settled in Paris under most fortunate circumstances. He married the amiable adopted daughter of Hahnemann's venerable widow. He resides with Madame Hahnemann and has access to the literary relics of oar illustrious master. From these we may hope that, “in the fullness of time,” much that is most valuable and interesting will be made public.

The second son Frederick (born April 14th, 1828) had at first determined to study law, and had actually made considerable progress therein. The example of his brother however induced him to abandon this profession for that of medicine. He repaired to the University of Berlin, where after the usual period of study, he graduated as his brother had done, with great distinction, and received the degree of Doctor of Medicine with a license to practice. Having up to this time paid little or no attention to Homoeopathy, he now returned to the paternal roof for the purpose of watching the result of his father's practice, and of comparing these results with those with which he had become familiar in the allopathic hospitals in Berlin. He proposed after sufficient comparative observations of this kind, to make his choice between Homoeopathy and Allopathy. The nature of the choice could not be doubtful. His unqualified and enthusiastic preference was given to Homoeopathy. After one year of careful study he engaged in general practice near Munster, where, we believe, he still resides.

It will be perceived, from the above sketch, that the life of our friend and colleague was full of a diversified activity. In his official employments, as well as in his agricultural and botanical studies, he had always in view some well defined practical object, and this was generally something of a beneficent character. And when he began to labor in the field of homoeopathic medicine, his energies were exerted in a corresponding direction. Although deeply learned in ancient and modern philosophy, his mind was essentially of a practical turn. Those subjects had most attractions for him which presented the problem of definite labor for definite results. The theories and speculations and system making which have charms for many Homoeopathists, seemed to Boenninghausen to have but a secondary importance. He perceived that the matter of prime necessity was such a study of the Materia Medica as should bring out into bold relief the characteristic peculiarities of each individual remedy, so that the practitioner might easily and surely single out that remedy which might be most similar in its symptoms to the disease under treatment. To such a study he devoted himself. The success of his practice is the measure of the success of these studies as well as an indication of Boenninghausen's sagacity in selecting this as the most important subject of study.

As a result of these studies he published a small work containing the “Characteristics of Homoeopathic Remedies” and also a “Concordance of the Relations of the Remedies to each other.” About the same time he published his “Therapeutic Pocket Book, or, manual for the student of the Materia Medica and for the physician at the bedside,” a work designed chiefly to aid the student of the Materia Medica in following the course which Boenninghausen had found so successful. He published also a “Repertory of the Materia Medica,” and which is on the whole the best yet constructed. In these works Boenninghausen brings prominently into view, the great importance of the characteristic symptoms and the value of the conditions aad concomitants of the symptoms, as marks of individualization.

It may be remarked that the work on “Characteristics” has never been translated into English, a similar but immeasurably inferior book of Jahr's having been unhappily preferred by the publishers. The “Therapeutic Pocket Book was translated into French and into English. But Boenninghausen pointed out to the writer the fact that the French translation was so carelessly made that the lists of remedies in several cases are placed under different headings from those under which they properly belong, thus making the work a false guide. This was done by Dr. Roth, the same who in his studies of Materia Medica is now making such charges of inaccuracy and carelessness against Hahnemann, and whom Dr. Hering has just convicted of grossly careless misquotation in his remarks upon Sabadilla. The English translation by Dr. Laurie has the same faults, having been translated from the ”improved French” translation, and not from the original German. In America, two translations have appeared by Dr. Hempel and Dr. Okie.

Boenninghausen published also a little pamphlet on the “Treatment of Intermittent Fever,” which was translated by Dr. Hempel.

In the last letter which the writer received from him, dated November 9th, 1863, he says, “I have now in press, at Leipzig, a treatise (as complete as possible) on the 'Treatment of Fevers,' a new edition of my pamphlet on this subject published in 1833, but not only considerably enlarged, but better arranged.”

It is believed that he had nearly completed a work on the “Treatment of Epilepsy,” as well as a new and enlarged edition of his “Repertory.”

An essay on the treatment of “Hooping Cough” was published in 1856. An English translation with additions is now in the hands of the publisher.

The crowning literary work of his life however was that which appeared early in 1863, the “Aphorisms of Hippocrates, with the glosses of a Homoeopathist,” a large octavo volume so full of learning and of sagacious observation as to have won enthusiastic commendation from the entire allopathic press. A French translation will soon appear at Brussels. Boenninghausen was anxious that the English translation should be made and published in America, where he believed that Homoeopathy had made greater and sounder progress than in England, and, but for the disturbances in business occasioned by the existing war, it is probable the translation would already have appeared. He desired that it should be proceeded by a biographical sketch of the author, and it is from materials furnished him for the compilation of this sketch that the writer has derived the data for the foregoing hasty memoir. The English translation will be adorned by a finely engraved portrait, from a painting by Roting in the possession of the writer.

Boenninghausen began to practise Homoeopathy according to the practical rules laid down by Hahnemann. When the high potencies were first introduced, he, at the instigation of Gross, began very cautiously to make experiments with them first upon domestic animals and afterwards, when encouraged by the results, very cautiously upon his patients. Seven years was devoted to these experiments, the results of which were always recorded and carefully collated. Finally he became convinced of the superiority of the higher over the the lower potencies and for twenty-two years, up to the time of his death, he used only the high potencies, at last, exclusively the 200th in all cases. It was his custom to record every case for which he prescribed. In 1862, he informed the writer that he had just begun the 112th volume of his “Clinical Record.” Of these 112 volumes it is safe to estimate that at least eighty contain records of cases treated almost exclusively with high potencies. A rich mine of experience for the conscientious and intelligent explorer!

Boenninghausen adhered closely to Hahnemann's practical rules in prescribing. He was careful never to repeat the remedy until the effects of the dose already given were exhausted. He thoroughly disapproved of alternation of remedies.

In a work on “Domestic Practice” by Lutze, Boenninghausen has been referred to as recommending a combination of remedies. This is utterly false. The writer has in his possession, and will ere long publish, a letter in which he utterly denies any such recommendation, expresses most hearty reprobation of the practice and gives a history of the origin of the proposition to combine two or more remedies in a single prescription.

On resigning the offices which he held under the Prussian Government, Boenninghausen removed to Monster, where he built the house in which he lived when the writer visited him and in which he died. In. this house it was his custom to receive patients daily from nine, a.m., to two, p.m. From two to five, p.m., he spent in diversion, generally in walking about the suburbs, or along the beautiful promenade which surrounds the city, occupying the site of the former rampants, or else in the Botanical Garden attached to the Ducal Residence. It was in these hours of relaxation that his genial social qualities, his wit and his full and varied knowledge were seen to best advantage. The writer will ever remember how, in course of one of these walks, Boenninghausen, having gently rallied him on some evidences of home-sickness which he thought he had detected, gravely told him that he would take him to see a compatriot who resided in Munster. He accordingly led the way to the Botanical Garden, and there, with charming courtly ceremony, presented the writer to a stately Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), which he said he had imported from America forty years ago, and which he said he believed was the only immigrant from the United State in Westphalia.

His interest in the history and progress of Homoeopathy in all parts of the world was very great. Especially was he interested in its development in America, a country from which he had received many tokens of esteem and admiration.

On receiving a copy of the volume of “Transactions of the Homoeopathic Medical Society of the State of New York,” published in 1863 by the Legislature of the State, he expressed great pleasure, using the following language:

“I have been very agreeably surprised by the progress of Homoeopathy in your country. Your Government, indeed, does not cease to favor everything which is truly salutary to mankind. In truth it may well serve as a model for all other Governments. Its merit is all the greater, in that the calamity of war does not hinder it from extending a protecting hand over the public weal.”

Thus, active, earnest in every good work, filling with honor positions of high public trust, but devoting his faculties with equally conscientious fidelity to the cure of peasant and noble, indifferent to nothing that concerns the welfare of mankind, ever ready to point out to the seeker after knowledge the paths which he had himself so successfully trodden, thus lived trusted, honored and beloved this distinguished physician and christian gentleman who has now gone to his rest. D.


Source: The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 04 No. 10, 1864, pages 433-443
Description: Dr. C. von Boenninghausen.
Author: Dunham, C.
Year: 1864
Editing: errors only; interlinks; formatting
Attribution: Legatum Homeopathicum
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