Medical societies, academies of medicine, if endowed by the State, as they generally are, with special privileges and immunities, are so endowed for the following reasons. They are associations of professional men who avow their determination to devote their time and energies to the investigation and elaboration of questions relating to medical sciences with a view to the improvement of these sciences. By the fact of their organization they pledge themselves to make these investigations in good faith, and with a single eye to the elucidation of Truth. They constitute, then a band of Experts, laboring, with all the power of associated effort, for the good of the community in this particular department of theoretical and practical knowledge. No wonder, then, that the people in their legislative capacity, recognizing the value of such a body of Experts, gladly give them special powers and immunities and clothe their decisions with a very high official and prescriptive authority!
But, admirably as such an organization of Experts is adapted to the investigation of new truths and their introduction into practical medicine, so long as the elucidation of truth and the progress of science are its supreme motives, what would be its power to suppress a new truth and to hinder its application to practical medicine, if so base a desire should ever come to rule the administration of such a body? Obviously its power for evil would be just as great as its power for good so long as its prescriptive and official authority and influence with the community should remain unimpaired.
When, therefore, a medical association has deliberately exerted its official power to the prejudice of scientific progress, the only recourse of the friends of truth and progress lies in an appeal to the people against the authority of the association.
The New York Academy of Medicine is in every respect such an association as we have described. We charge it with having exerted its influence for the suppression and perversion of truth by acts which, however they may affect them in their official position, would have brought indelible disgrace, in their private capacity, on the members engaged in them.
We, ourselves, disapproved of these efforts, holding that there should be neither legislative prescription nor legislative prescription of any special systems of medical practice in the public service or in civil life; but that the right to practice medicine being confined by legislative enactments to such as should have proved themselves thoroughly versed in all branches of medical science (including the homoeopathic method) the physician should be considered competent, and should be left free to select for each individual case of disease the most appropriate treatment.
As we have stated, however, petitions in favor of Homoeopathy were presented to Congress. The history of the counter-movement is sufficiently well known. We propose to refer only to the action of the New York Academy of Medicine.
“4th. That such appointments would dissatisfy and dishearten the medical staff of the army who understand the true nature of Homoeopathy, and who have entered the service of their country with confidence that the Government would strive to elevate the standard and promote the efficiency of the medical staff, results surely to be defeated by the appointment of Homoeopaths. ”American Med. Times, Vol. IV., 71.
Resolutions three and four obviously derive all their weight from the assumption of the truth of resolutions one and two, and chiefly of resolution one, viz.: that,” wherever subjected to accurate observation, Homoeopathy has failed to establish itself in any hospital.” If this were true it would determine the whole question against Homoeopathy.
In fact, however, it is as positively false as any statement could possibly be, and so notoriously false, that we cannot conceive how a man of Dr. Valentine Mott's reputation could suffer himself to utter it. Indeed, giving an equitable interpretation to words we may affirm the converse to be true and say that, wherever subjected to accurate observation, Homoeopathy has never failed to establish itself in every hospital where it has been honestly tested by an Expert with a view to its establishment in case of its success.
In 1832 the Sisters of Charity in Gumpendorf, a suburb of Vienna, opened a hospital in their convent. All Austrian hospitals, and this among them, are under the strict supervision of the Government At this time a stringent law of the Empire prohibited the practice of Homoeopathy in Austria. Notwithstanding this law, Dr. Mayerhofer, physisician to the above-named hospital, made secret experiments with homoeopathic remedies, and especially during the first epidemic of cholera. When cholera appeared again in 1836, Dr. Marenzeller, who had succeeded Mayerhofer, applied to the Government for permission to receive cholera patients in Gumpendorf hospital and treat them homoeopathically — detailing the success of previous (secret) experiments. Permission was granted and two allopathic physicians were detailed to supervise and report upon the treatment; and it was promised that if the report were favorable permission would be given to continue the hospital as a homoeopathic hospital. Dr. Wilde, of Dublin, the distinguished occulist and aurist, author of a work on “Aural Surgery,” says in his ”Austria, its Literary, Scientific and Medical Institutions, etc., Dublin,“ 1843: “Upon comparing the report made of the treatment of cholera in the homoeopathic hospital in Vienna with that of other hospitals at the same time, it appeared that while two-thirds of those treated homoeopathically were cured, two-thirds of those treated in the other (hospitals died. This extraordinary result led Count Kolowrat, Minister of the Interior, to repeal the law relative to the practice of Homoeopathy.”
The edict of the Emperor Ferdinand is in the following words: “I annul the ordinance of my father of 1819 and 1825 for the abolition of Homoeopathy, the practice of which is from this time forth permitted.”
Dr. Fleischman succeeded Marenzeller in the administration of this hospital, in which, after being subjected to “accurate observation” by no less a person than Knolz, the protomedicus of Austria, and two professors of the Josephinum Military Medical Academy, Homoeopathy did “establish itself” (the New York Academy of Medicine to the contrary notwithstanding).
Dr. Wilde, in the work from which we have already quoted, says, in 1843, “Whatever the opponents of this system may put forward against it, I am bound to say, and I am far from being a homoeopathic practitioner, that the cases I saw treated by it, in the Vienna hospital (Dr. Fleischman's) were fully as acute and virulent as those which came under my observation elsewhere, and the statistics show that the mortality is much, less than in the other hospitals of that city.”
Even Dr. Mott must have read Dr. Forbes famous essay on “Homoeopathy, Allopathy and Young Physic,” in the B. and F. Medical Review, 1846. Certainly the members of the New York Academy of medicine ought to be familiar with it.
In this essay Dr. Forbes says, “Numerous hospitals and dispensaries for the treatment of the poor on the new system have been established, many of which publish reports blasoning its successes, not merely in warm phrases but in the hard words and harder figures of statistical tables. A physician (not a Homoeopath) who attended Dr. Fleischmann's wards for three months * * watched the course of several cases of pneumonia and traced their progress by physical signs through the different stages of congestion, hepatization and resolution up to perfect cure, within a period of time which would have appeared short under the most energetic treatment of Allopathy.”
We have, here, the testimony of Dr. Forbes that Homoeopathy had maintained up to 1846, a period of ten years, a vigorous existence in this hospital, in which, after “accurate (unfriendly) observation, she established herself” in 1836.
The writer attended Dr. Fleischmann's visitations in 1851 and again in 1856. Regular reports submitted to the promedicus and then published in the official medical journal attest the fact that the hospital is still in active operation under the care of Dr. Fleischmann, who was last year decorated by the Emperor for his distinguished contributions to medical science. Thus for twenty-eight years has Homoeopathy been practiced in this hospital to which it was admitted only on proof of its superior excellence afforded by actual experiments and testified to by its opponents.
In 1849 the Sisters of Charity in the Leopoldstadt, another suburb of Vienna, opened a hospital in their convent. It came of course under the supervision of the Government, as all Austrian hospitals do. The practice of Homoeopathy being permitted throughout the Empire, this hospital was at once placed under the care of Dr. Wurmb, who continues to preside over it. The writer attended his cliniques in 1851 and 1856. His treatment is subject to Government supervision and his reports are duly rendered to the protomedicus. Homoeopathy having established itself here in 1849, and being constantly under “accurate observation,” still maintains herself in 1863, a period of fourteen years.
In 1857 a hospital was opened in Sechshaus, another suburb of Vienna, and placed under the charge of Dr. J. O. Muller, a homoeopathic practitioner. Here, as in the other instance, Homoeopathy, established in 1857, and constantly “under accurate observation,” liable at any moment to be ejected so soon as her opponents can convict her, even before an allopathic tribunal, of any malpractice, whether positive or negative, still maintains herself in 1863.
This may suffice for the present. We shall soon take occasion to refer in detail to the History of Homoeopathy in other hospitals, and to its relation to the Army and Navy of Germany and France, as alluded to in resolution number two of the New York Academy of Medicine.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 03 No. 10, 1863, pages 434-439
|The Appeal to The People 03.
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