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Proposal to Publish a Standard Work on Materia Medica.

— The original observations on which our materia medica is based, the results of provings as well as the result of practice, are scattered about in our literature. Since Hahnemann gave us his “Arzneimittellehre” in six volumes, and its continuation in the four volumes of his “Chronic Diseases,” no larger work has appeared; and after Hahnemann's death no new edition of any of his works was published.

In the meantime Homoeopathy has had a great number of journals, besides hundreds of smaller and larger works; has spread from Germany to France and Italy, to England and Spain, and has particularly been adopted by thousands in America. Provings have been made, and re-provings (nachprufungen); but all these valuable observations are scattered about in journals and books. The difficulty which homoeopathic practitioners experienced in getting “posted up,” increased from year to year until it became an impossibility.

Extracts took the place of the original and complete reports of provings; the period of Jahr, Noak and Trinks, Possart and the period of repertories set in.

The intention of all such books was to enable physicians to find, for each case before them, the nearest corresponding medicine, as the one which would most likely cure. They not only collected what was scattered and inaccessible except to the few; they also shortened and condensed. They aimed to make it easier, but in this the same mistake was made that physicians make in ordering the extract of a pound of flesh, supposing that, if swallowed, it would give the same nourishment as the same pound of flesh properly prepared, cut, chewed and gradually digested by the stomach. It never will do such a thing, and never has done it. Besides that, the experience of the last twenty-five years has more than sufficiently proved, not only how incomplete and inefficient all such books are, but also, how injurious to our art. The period may have been a necessary one, an intermediate transition state of our art, but it has decidedly not favored mastership in the materia medica of our school.

All such books were shorter, and of course ought to have saved time; but, on the contrary, it took more time to find in them what we wanted. A large dictionary, well arranged, saves time, while with a condensed smaller one we lose time by fruitless search.

All such books seemed also cheaper, but still our literature became more and more expensive through them; when editors and publishers made arrangements to save a few dollars in the printing of them - for instance by letting the symptoms run on in the same line, or by a horrible number of abbreviations — our eyes and our minds were tortured by using such books, and we not only lost time, but even our willingness to look over the mass, and to compare and become familiar with what is the most important in our art, i. e. with the minutiae.

Whereas our eyes could glide over the large number of symptoms, if singly printed, with the same ease with which a bird, soaring in the air, views the field and its furrows, we now stumble along and totter about, more like turtles ashore or terrapins on ploughed ground; and when once we fall on our back it is hard work to get upon our feet again.

But the worst of all is the dependence in which we are placed. We depend upon the views and notions of the individual who prepared the extract. We are, in this respect, like birds caged in and hung up against the wall, to be fed with whatever our master pleases to let us have.

A Homoeopathician will never learn to master the materia medica, overlooking and commanding the whole, as a general does the regiments of his army, as long as he is dependent on such extracts.

Thus it is a large work that we need, containing all that has been obtained thus far, and as complete as it can possibly be made, spaciously printed, arranged for the eyes, facilitating the operation of the mind through them, and enabling everyone to look over it quickly and with ease, and to find particulars when wanted.

Having been engaged for the last twenty-five years, by daily additions and arrangements, in the preparation of such a work, we presume that the main objection - In fact the only one - to publishing it, might be the high price.

Books for everybody are cheap; books for a minority, and therefore for physicians in general, must bring a higher price; books only for a minority among the physicians, consequently the highest. Thus no publisher could undertake a work of such extent. The only way is to do without a publisher, to have it printed for subscribers, and at their expense, and in order to avoid all risk, the first edition of at least five hundred, if possible one thousand copies, to such only as prepay. This will make it one of the cheapest books of its kind. Thus, under the following

Conditions . - Every subscriber giving his full name and residence, and paying in advance not less than five dollars, receives a check, and for every additional five dollars a separate check. For such checks every agent of the work is bound to give to hearer, at any time when presented, as many sheets of the work as have been printed after the date of said check, for cost price, free by mail, in the form of a journal or newspaper. Said cost price consists of one per thousand, or in case of a smaller number of subscribers, one and a half or two per thousand of (the cost of) stereotyping the plates for each sheet, and the price of paper and printing, and the mailing of it by sheets. If binding is ordered, the original cost of the same is added. An account of expenses in full is to be given on the cover.

Every subscriber will receive as many sheets as are paid for in advance, and a notification of the period when his subscription runs out. No credit to be given, not even to the publisher himself, who must pay in advance for every copy he wants besides the proof sheets.

No free copies shall be sent to editors or publishers. The trade price afterwards is to be double the cost price, the plates and copyright becoming the property of the editor. Every subscriber is invited to send by mail, in legible letters, his views, propositions and preferences; every such letter will be duly acknowledged and answered on the cover.

Additions from trustworthy colaborers are welcome, and will be added; contributors receive a fee after the publication of the work is secured, by checks for the work, not cash.

The Plan of the Work . - The work will be published in monographs, the main medicines and those most proved each in a separate volume, and the clinical experience given separately.

The smaller, less known medicines are to be given in families and the clinical observations united with the symptoms in the same schema. When the smaller provings make it desirable, the symptoms of several families with their more or less known drugs shall be placed together in one volume. The main rule shall be to publish what is ready for the press as soon as the money for printing has been advanced. As nearly as possible the order is to be the following: a chemical drug, a plant and drug of animal origin, alternatively, and in each kingdom to follow the natural order.

The whole work will, even in a few years, show, like the map of a newly discovered world, how far our explanations have been extended and what still remains for us to do.

The first number will contain the schemes, fully elaborated, in German and English, serving as a key to the whole work and at the same time as a glossary to settle all the difficulties of translation. As the majority of proving thus far were originally written in German, and as now the majority of homoeopathic physicians speak the English tongue, it has been thought best to use both languages in opposite columns, facilitating at the same time a familiarity with both languages.

The first volume will contain Sulphur, all the symptoms given by Hahnemann, by the Austrian provers and others, arranged according to the schema, like all other drugs afterwards.

As another series of monographs, which will be separately announced as soon as a sufficient number of colaborers are secured to be able to continue the publication with an equal promptitude to that which can be promised in regard to the first series, a history of each of our proved drugs will be given, in the manner first introduced by Dr. Stapf and afterwards adopted by Dr. Franz, Dr. Seidel, Dr. Noak and particularly by the Austrian provers; a history containing the introduction of the drug into Materia Medica, its application according to the different opinions of the older schools and cases of poisoning, if there are such, etc. To this will be annexed all the day-books of the provers as far as they can possibly be obtained.

Such a work would be a real basis to Materia Medica, as a science, in the same measure as our first series will be the basis of our art as an art of healing.

Repertory . - A repertory according to the same schema has also been in preparation for several years, based upon the manuscript of the Materia Medica, and shall be printed in parts according to the main divisions; the first part, containing the mental symptoms, will be arranged by Dr. Raue as the most efficient colaborer in this psychological part, and shall be printed as soon as finished. It will be considered as belonging to the Materia Medica and will be sent to all the subscribers without further notice. Notwithstanding the high prices at this moment, the work may be delivered to the first thousand prepaying subscribers, in the large dictionary size, like Allibone's Biographical Dictionary, at an approximately (not binding) estimated cost of one sheet for ten or fifteen cents; for five dollars prepaid the subscriber may receive at least thirty, or if the number of subscribers amount to one thousand or if paper becomes cheaper, as many as fifty sheets. Renewing the subscriptions once or twice every year, within a few years every subscriber will be in possession of the completest work on Materia, Medica which has ever appeared, and of which the trade price may be very nearly one hundred dollars.

A homoeopathic practitioner will not be considered as fitted out for his profession without this work.

Philadelphia, July 4th, 1864. Constantine Hering.


Source: The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 05 No. 02, 1864, pages 88-96
Description: Proposal to Publish a Standard Work on Materia Medica
Author: Hering, C
Year: 1864
Editing: errors only; interlinks; formatting
Attribution: Legatum Homeopathicum
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