It is pretty generally known that the Surgeon-General of the United States Army, after having been suspended for several months from the exercise of his official functions, is now on trial before a court martial. The circumstances attending the whole affair are enveloped in mystery. There is a wide spread feeling in the profession that Dr. Hammond has been unfairly dealt with. In this feeling, we, who have watched his course as Surgeon-General with no little respect and admiration, fully sympathize. The following observations from the American Medical Times, of January 2d, 1861; seem to us no less appropriate than forcible:
“There is evidently a wide-spread and growing impression in our profession that the Medical Department of the Army is not dealt with justly and honorably; that it is subject to the caprices of superior officers; that its operations are trammelled. * * The Medical Department is today suffering under a humiliation which both the medical staff and the profession at large ought to resent with the most determined protestations. * * To a fair and honest investigation into the affairs of his department there was no objection by the Surgeon-General; he courted such an examination and, if necessary, would have demanded it. But such an investigation should have been by impartial and disinterested parties. The books and accounts should have furnished the basis of the prosecution, the Surgeon-General and his immediate assistants should have been principal witnesses in the trial; and the testimony of contractors, agents, etc., should have been received only as collateral and circumstantial. Such should be the course of proceedings dictated by judicial eastona, and, by such an investigation only could real fraud be detected.”
“But so different has been this investigation that the whole affair has the appearance of a secret and deliberate conspiracy against the Surgeon-General directly and against the Medical Department indirectly. The commission is, in the first place, headed by a person known to be hostile to the Surgeon-General. This fact throws suspicion upon the object of the investigation. Our doubts of fair dealing are increased when we find this commission evading the real sources of information and seeking it persistently where it was necessarily perverted and unreliable. For, instead of commencing at the Surgeon-General's Bureau and extending their investigations from this proper point of departure, they have carefully kept aloof from the central office and have gone to commercial towns where they could examine agents, contractors, etc. From time to time they have thrown a morsel of their accumulating evidence into the secular papers to give the public a relish for the approaching feast, and from these specimens we learn what will be the character of the forthcoming report.”
After many words of the same purport, the Medical Times concludes as follows: “If his honesty or competency is questioned, it is due to the President, Senate and the People that this should be made known by the results of a formal procedure and not from an investigation conducted by a secret, ex parte, and anonymous commission. Let the accused have the same hearing as his accusers. Let the examination be as severe and searching as you please so that it is but fair and open.”
It is with great pleasure that we endorse these utterances of our contemporary; not merelyin their immediate application to the present case of Surgeon-General Hammond; but alee and more especially in their general application to questions at issue between any members, or between any schools of the medical profession. And as concerns the great question between Homoeopathy and the Allopathists, we address to our contemporary the very words of protest which he has so warmly and so justly uttered against the assailants of General Hammond.
“Mutato nomine fabula narrator de te.“No examination of the homoeopathic method — no investigation of the homoeopathic practice — no alleged trial of homoeopathic procedures has ever been made by the dominant school of medicine to which the objection just quoted from the Medical Times does not fully apply.
That Homoeopathy and homoeopathic practitioners have “been placed under an espionage, discreditable “as well as “unjust” is notorious. The pretence for such behavior towards them has been, as in the case of Dr. Hammond, alleged “fraud,” or, as it is called, “charlatanism and deception.” To a fair and honest investigation “into their practice and its results there have never been any objections on the part of Homoeopathists. They have “courted such an investigation;” nay, going farther even than Dr. Hammond, they have never ceased “to demand it. “But.” as the Medical Times justly remarks, “such an investigation should have been by impartial and disinterested parties,” that is to say, by parties not committed beforehand against Homoeopathy. “The books, etc., should have furnished the basis of the investigation.” In other words, the investigators should first have made themselves thoroughly familiar with the practical rules laid down by Hahnemann and with the Materia Medica Pura, instead of beginning to put Homoeopathy to the trial, as Andral by his own admission did, without having ever studied a single work on the subject.
“The Surgeon-General and his immediate assistants should have been principal witnesses in the trial,” that is to say, the testimony and statistics of practising homoeopathic physicians of good character and standing should be received in evidence of what Homoeopathy has done and can do against disease; and the absurdity of refusing to receive evidence in favor of Homoeopathy except from its declared adversaries should be repudiated. It should no longer be regarded, as hitherto it always has been, a sufficient reason for ruling out a witness in favor of Homoeopathy, that he avowed himself a believer in that system on behalf of which he testifies.
“The testimony of contractors, agents, etc., should have been received only as collateral and circumstantial.” Or, in other words, nurses, gossips, and scandal-mongers generally, who now supply our opponents with their most delectable stories against Homoeopathy, should be estimated at their proper value.
“But so different” — we may still apply to the question of Homoeopathy the words of our contemporary relating to the Surgeon. General-” so different has been the investigation that the whole affair has the appearance of a secret and deliberate conspiracy against” the truths which Homoeopathy involves and the benefits which it is capable of conferring.
“The commission is, in the first place, headed by a person known to be hostile to” the system to be investigated. This is true of the investigations made in Paris, in Naples, in Vienna, in London during the cholera season, and in New York when the question of committing a portion of Bellevue Hospital to, the charge of homoeopathic practitioners was referred by the Commissioners to the Medical Staff of the Hospital. As the Medical Times sagaciously remarks “this fact throws suspicion upon the object of the investigation.”
The Times proceeds: “our doubts of fair dealing are increased when we find this commission evading the real sources of information and seeking it persistently where it was necessarily prejudiced and unreliable. “Just so. It has always been a matter of amazement to men of candid minds that gentlemen of the dominant school, professing a desire to know something about Homoeopathy, should invariably seek that information from its avowed enemies, when there are homoeopathic hospitals conducted by physicians of undisputed integrity and ability, homoeopathic statistics the correctness of which has been admitted by the leading allopathic authorities and, in every town, homoeopathic practitioners of good repute, all accessible and ready to respond to any call for information.
“Instead of commencing from the Central Bureau and extending their investigations from this proper point of departure, they have kept carefully aloof from the central office and have gone where they could examine contractors, etc.” In like fashion, instead of studying, first, the origin and history of Homoeopathy, and then its literature and statistics and then inspecting its existing institutions, our self-constituted inquisitors of the old school carefully avoid these sources of information and declare, in the words of some anonymous young traveling physician, a monoglot unquestionably, that Homoeopathy “has died out in Germany;” or, as the President of the New York Academy of Medicine stated, that there are no homoeopathic hospitals in Vienna, whereas, in fact, any Homoeopathist could have told him, that there are three, that the London Homoeopathic Hospital has ” closed its doors;” whereas, in fact, it closed them in Golden Square only to open them next day still more widely in Bloomsbury Square; that there is no homoeopathic hospital Ste Marguerite, in Paris, where a terrible Tessier practices Homoeopathy, whereas the truth is that the Ste Marguerite has indeed been demolished to make room for a street, but, before this was done, Tessier and Homoeopathy were duly installed in Beanjon Hospital. All this, and much more of the same sort, is akin to that mean and contemptible testimony obtained from “contractors and agents “to which the Times so sorely objects.
And then it is true of our opponents that, as the Times states, “they, from time to time, have thrown a morsel of their accumulated evidence into the secular papers, to give the public a relish for the approaching feast, and from these specimens we learn what will be the character of the final report.”
It is no wonder that our colleagues find reason to complain of a disposition in the public to discredit and degrade the medical profession. An unconscious disposition, we may call it, to mete out to the profession at large, the same treatment which the profession at large has visited upon its dissenting minority — the Homoeopathists. Dante showed a most profound insight into the workings and compensations of nature, when he represented the penalties inflicted on malefactors in the next world as the repetition there, upon themselves, of their evil deeds towards others in this world; a retribution which is tersely embodied in the proverb, of which an analogue is found in every language, “curses, like chickens, come home to roost.” DUNHAM.
|Source:||The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 04 No. 12, 1864, pages 529-534|
|Editing:||errors only; interlinks; formatting|