Homoeopathic Literature is rapidly increasing, and in amount probably equals that of any other science originated since the homoeopathic law became known. The object of this paper is to review, to some extent, a certain branch of our literature, viz: the writings intended for the use of the public, and this important subject, strange to say, appears to have attracted but very little attention hitherto.
This paper will be confined only to the discussion of the most popular works, written in the English language, most of which appear to have been published in this country. Before proceeding to the separate books, a few general observations may be admissible.
First, as to the propriety and practicability of much homoeopathic literature, intended for the perusal of the lay public: Homoeopathy had scarcely passed its years of infancy, when here and there specimens of literature of a popular character began to make their appearance, and, notwithstanding the high reputation of their authors, professional opinion was not in favor of such writings, however great their merits might have been, and but trifling notice was taken of them. Thus in vol. VIII of the “Archives for the Homoeopathic Healing Art,” published since 1822, Dr. M. Muller, in speaking of Caspari's “Domestic Physician,” edited by Dr. F. Hartman, says: “We observed then, (Archive vol. V, No. 3, p. 223) that this little volume deserved recommendation as a popular work; we neither intended then nor now to speak in favor of popular medical works.” In these remarks popular homoeopathic books are of course included. The reviewer then proceeds to vindicate the “Homoeopathic Domestic Physician,” only on the ground of its preference to the numerous allopathic writings of a similar tendency, the injurious doctrines and advice of which, popular Homoeopathy might help to abolish. Certain fears then entertained, seem now to become verified, for the object of popular Homoeopathy at the present time seems to be, the rendering unnecessary of all professional aid; threatening to put thousands of volumes in the place of physicians, which, instead of containing only such matter as could be conveniently understood, and practically applied by laymen, merely contain the scum of what a physician ought to know.
The public should be prepared to receive the truths of Homoeopathy, but this object cannot be attained by forcing upon them pseudo-compends of medicine, compiled from all sorts of medical school-books, and from many doubtful sources of Homoeopathy.
There is scarcely a science, or a branch of science, so utterly unadapted to the penetration of the lay public, as that of medicine. This fact is best illustrated by the enormous impositions practised daily on the inexperienced masses, whose thorough, and almost irreparable confusion of ideas, regarding medical topics, can only be led into the channel of common sense by very careful schooling, an exhibition of true, heartfelt sympathy on the part of homoeopathic practitioners, and a simple intelligible literature, leaving no trace of doubt as to its sincerity, instead of bearing on its outward form all the marks of avarice, while its contents present a rare compound of scantiness and bulk. That there are exceptions to this rule must be admitted at the same time.
The fact that a great many books are sold in a very short time, as is stated exultingly in many of the prefaces of popular homoeopathic books, is seldom a sign that the book is really good, but, according to the present state of public medical knowledge, the rapid sale of such literature not unfrequently indicates unmitigated flattery of some popular prejudice regarding Homoeopathy. The twenty-seven thousand copies of Dr. Pulte's “Book,” form a striking example of what is here meant.
We will now proceed to examine in detail a number of the books before us; in doing which the argument shall not be. restricted to criticism, strictly speaking, of their practical and literary value, because they have, ere this, passed review in the different periodicals; but we will take the liberty of making such remarks in the course of examining each book, as may happen to be suggested by the subject in hand.
Dr. Caspari's Homoeopathic Domestic Physician which is repeatedly mentioned in the course of these remarks. It was probably the first publication of this kind ever issued; originally of a very small size, it was at a later period enlarged and revised, with numerous improvements by Dr. Hartmann of Leipsic. Following a sketch of Hahnemann's life, comes a treatise on the nature and meaning of Homoeopathy, that might be called a popular extract from the Organon. Something of this kind should be contained in every truly popular work on Homoeopathy, in place of many faults, and in a more extensive and detailed manner than is usually the case. Then succeeding the usual chapter of regimen for the sick, comes a chapter on the administration of medicine, which is simple and practical, and probably preferable to the mode of placing dose and mode of administration of medicines after the description of a disease, just as if Homoeopathy had not long since become emancipated from precautions adopted by the old school. Admitting that it has the appearance of greater convenience, it also bears strong symptoms of make-believe-accuracy to oblige lazy and prejudiced people. The alphabetical arrangement of the index is preferred in this book, which, however, is not the best method, as seems to be a pretty well acknowledged fact, even by compilers of our voluminous repertories, though in the latter case it is most difficult to devise a better method.
The book closes with a “treatise” on anatomy and physiology by W. P. Esrey, M.D. Besides questioning the right of this appendage to assume the title of “treatise” it may be said that it is attached only to give size to the work; furthermore it is useless, otherwise the authors of the book would undoubtedly have added it before it was transplanted to a foreign soil.
Without doubting the general advantages of a more widely diffused knowledge of anatomy and physiology among the public, it certainly becomes evident, that a sprinkling of these two sciences can be of no use in a popular work on Homoeopathy. It must have occurred to every homoeopathic physician, that those patients who flatter themselves with having studied anatomy and physiology, offer very severe obstacles to the anxiously inquiring practitioner, who, instead of arriving at a definite conclusion as to the case before him, is obliged to concentrate all his ingenuity in penetrating the depths of the mysterious arguments propounded to him, in place of a simple and truthful picture of subjective symptoms. In fact, medical science must be acquired by the student in its whole circumference, or, if this cannot be done, it must of necessity be left alone. On that account an apology for the insertion of a few scraps of the collateral sciences, and for the imperfections of the information derived therefrom, is a direct contradiction to the reason given for their introduction into a popular book on Homoeopathy.
Laurie's Parents Guide, to which we come next, contains only diseases of infancy and childhood, with much useful advice to mothers. Most of the subjects of this book are such as should be contained in a popular book: such as treatment at birth; nursing, rest, cleanliness, air and exercise, diet, etc. The author goes into these very minutely, for he even touches rather elaborately on the six social duties — love, duties of consanguinity, duties of wealth towards poverty, etc.; with these subjects the usefulness of the book is at an end, as also is its popularity.
The therapeutical part is arranged according to the anatomical divisions of the body, and therefore more logically than if the order of the alphabet had been employed. In trying to make a book too easy, its value is sacrificed. A good popular book on Homoeopathy must be logical; if so, it must be difficult, and study becomes unavoidable. Physicians, therefore, who recommend these books, should ardently urge the necessity of studying them thoroughly. If this were the case, people would soon learn to judge of the value of this kind of literature, on the one hand, while on the other, heads of families and patients would not be so entirely at a loss as to the course to be pursued in administering remedies.
Epps' Domestic Homoeopathy. — One of the main features of a good popular book on Homoeopathy, is, and ought to be, the introduction, which should, besides regimen, etc., for the sick, point out to the reader the innumerable prejudices so frequently brought to bear upon the sick by their officious lay friends. Nothing weighs heavier on the minds of those around the sick bed than their own anxiety; a natural, though unwise, impetuosity drives them first to get rid of their own fear, while the suffering of the patient becomes a secondary matter. Though they frequently do not know what to do, something must be done, right or wrong matters not, and hence innumerable remedies are applied in quick succession; hot and cold drinks and ablutions, nostrums and even allopathic compounds left on some former occasion, all of which are more efficient in relieving the minds of anxious friends, than in alleviating the sufferings of the patient. Much perhaps has been done already, by rapidly spreading Homoeopathy, in counteracting the injurious haste and unprincipled confusion following closely upon the tracks of allopathic practice; yet vastly more remains to be altered; and since our whole energy is directed toward removing prejudices, at least as frequently as to prescribe, a larger share of space should be devoted to this purpose in popular books of the homoeopathic school.
The author of the American edition of Epp's Domestic Homoeopathy, makes a good attempt in this direction, but confines his introductory remarks only to children and obstetrics, whence he launches off into descriptions of temperaments, gives very definite illustrations of the four “recognized” temperaments, the rationale of which is that “it is rare that we meet pure specimens of them.” It is recommended by Epps and others, simply to choose the remedy according to the most prominent symptoms of the disease. An inexperienced person will always find this to be his stumbling block, lying in the way of all his endeavors to help himself or others, particularly so long as most extant popular books continue to give indications for remedies, just as they may be picked from any repertory; while a book on domestic Homoeopathy should contain the very quintessence of indications, to find which, but few authors have the talent, and to use which but few laymen will learn, as long as they consult their books, only when agitated and frightened.
Another feature to which allusion may be made here, and which should be abolished in popular books, is the introduction of a profusion of pathological terms, and particularly the introduction of diseases classwise, rendering diagnosis of the species necessary. This arrangement however laudable in a text book of pathology designed for advanced students, is not in the least profitable, when made use of in a book intended for non-medical persons. Suppose, for instance, a lay practitioner called upon to prescribe for an attack of “cramp of the stomach;” the anxious reader will be much puzzled when the necessity of making a nice distinction between “dyspepsia,” “vomiting,” “inflammation of the stomach,” and the above named complaint flashes upon his mind. Even general distinctions, such as “diseases of the muscular system,” and “diseases of the digestive organs,” are scarcely admissible in a book for laymen. Instead of introducing all diseases possible under these heads, which an unprofessional person cannot distinguish from one another, and can much less prescribe for, it would be of more practical use to mention only those forms of disease, actually falling under the observation of people; such as rheumatism, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. Neither authors, nor physicians in general, ought to expect their patients or readers to make nicer distinctions.
Guernsey's Homoeopathic Domestic Practice, to which we come next, presents itself as a voluminous book intended for family use. The intention expressed in the introduction, to avoid technicalities, has not been carried out to the extent promised. This becomes most apparent in the pathological part of the book, where we find exclusively scientific terms, pathologically distinct diseases, and detached symptoms peculiar to distinct diseases intermingled, all under one head. The attention is particularly drawn to that fact in examining the chapter on affections of the stomach and bowels. This, like several other works of this kind, is intended, not only for the use of families, but also for students of medicine, and it appears that these two objects are very difficult to obtain in combination, when certain principles are not strictly adhered to: supposing a medical student, or a novice in the practice of Homoeopathy availing himself of a work intended for family use, he must be contented with the simplest hints, given in the most popular terms, and make up his mind to dispense with the scientific pomp of the lecture-room. He must consider the author of the family guide before him, in the light of an experienced practitioner, standing by the bedside of a patient, there administering plain, straight-forward advice, intended for one unskilled in medical topics and medical language. Those who consider a book of that kind as unworthy their notice, are on the wrong road. An advanced student may, therefore, be well contented with a popular book to guide him in his practice; a non-medical person, on the other hand, can derive nothing but confusion from literature claiming popularity, without daring to lay aside professional air and language, for fear of degradation.
In remarking that scientific terms should be avoided, the inference was not intended, that all pathological and strictly scientific names must be omitted, necessarily coming in here and there to fill the place of one or another of the many medical slang phrases, without any meaning, to which most people attach great importance. Still observation teaches that the popular medical vocabulary, in the English as well as most other languages, is rich enough to furnish a domestic book on Homoeopathy.
The Gentleman's Hand-book. — As we go along, we find the subjects for popular books increase, and, we are almost tempted to say, the excuse for book making. The matter generally collected and embraced as a whole by the larger books, after reaching a certain point of massiveness, again begins to be separated, and used as a speciality, purporting to meet the possible demands of different kinds and classes of people.
After offering to the eagerly inquiring gentleman, much good advice on diet, etc., under the usual promising head of physiology and hygiene, the author suddenly assumes the shape of spiritual adviser, and proceeds to enlarge upon the propriety of marriage, “suitableness of age,” and “harmony of feeling considered in marriage,” in a manner undoubtedly calculated to light up the fading hope of some neglected swain or maiden, but much better suited to the pulpit, than to a medical guide-book. Leave moral culture to teachers and parents.
Freligh's Homoeopathic Practice of Medicine, next claims our attention, by proposing in its preface “to serve, as far as possible the three-fold purpose of a text book for the student, a ready volume of reference for the physician, and a comprehensive and simplified guide for domestic use.” How far it is possible to combine these objects, as well as the advantage derived from such a combination of heterogeneous purposes, has already been spoken of, but we must allude to the theme once more. As a domestic work, by the multifariousness of its subjects, it defies a non-medical person at the outset, to find a complaint he is in search of, and after that should have been accomplished, the remedy will be equally hard to discover; it is particularly careless to expect a layman to use tinctures, and to give several, often more than two, remedies in alternation, as is frequently the case throughout the book. In the first place, applicants to this or similar guide-books will be sure to select the wrong remedies, and then to give them in short intervals, according to advice, until the patient actually becomes sick of the repeated doses, as all practitioners must have observed in families, where similar books are used. Secondly, advice of so superficial a kind, though it occupies much space, is worse than no advice at all, as far as laymen are concerned; physicians having more practical sources of information at their command. The want of accuracy on the part of the author, in distinguishing remedies, tends to confuse and blur Homoeopathy, which claims its superiority over the old school, on account of the completeness of its materia medica, as well as its principles of applying remedies in disease.
A book of this kind can be of little use to a student, because the descriptions of diseases are much too superficially executed, to meet the claims of pathology at the present time. As to the authorities mentioned in the preface, from whom particularly the indications for the remedies are derived, we can say little more of them now than that they have got big books into the market. The manner in which medical agents are pointed out to the reader, is no better in Freligh's book, than in the sources he derives his information from; and when we compare them, a dark shadow of doubt comes over us, as to the originality of the work; neither can we avoid the suspicion that one publication of this kind grew out of a proceeding one, with but immaterial alterations, and a proportionate amount of practical value.
Small's Manual of Homoeopathic Practice. — Though this book offers no peculiarities essentially different from the preceding ones, it has been here and there spoken of favorably and though it may possibly be read by practitioners in preference to other books of a similar tendency, its size has become an obstacle to its use in lay practice. Its arrangement, aside from its scientific merits, does not strike us as practical. For example, under the strange title of “Women and their diseases, or diseases of women,” we find vertigo and headache, subjects already dealt with at length under the head of diseases of the nervous system, etc. Headache is treated differently in the two chapters, while they might as well have been combined for the sake of method and science, or else in order to be consistent, the subject of headache should have been discussed separately in many of the other chapters treating of diseases, all of which can be complicated with headache.
The same applies to the chapter on diarrhea and constipation. These two subjects recur under the head of digestive organs; then among diseases of women, etc., (p. 667) but at this place they are to be presumed as pertaining to pregnancy; once more diarrhea and constipation, are discussed in the same chapter, in a distinct sub-division of the same (p. 693); and lastly the two inevitable topics reappear in the chapter on new-born infants and young children.
It is without doubt necessary repeatedly to allude to these and similar topics in a popular book, but there is not the slightest difficulty in making one thorough chapter of them, to which the reader may be referred, instead of scattering the same subject in so many different places over a large book, and always bearing the appearance of distinct chapters. Hereby sacrificing scientific arrangement and practical method to the mere bulk of the book.
Hempel & Beakley's Manual of Homoeopathic Theory and Practice. — The pathological arrangement of this book, bears more of scientific character than some of its contemporaries, and might thus far serve as a guide book for students of medicine, which purpose the authors intend it to serve, beside rendering aid to laymen. Regarding therapeutics, the work attracts attention in a greater degree than any of the others. The majority of books of this class strive to adhere to certain rules regarding the form and administration of homoeopathic medicines; endeavoring to keep within certain limits, beyond which Homoeopathy loses its honest name; in this book, on the contrary, a system is adopted and principles forced upon the reader with an air of supreme superiority, that might make us shudder with apprehension, were it not for the ludicrous pomp displayed in discussing them. The following quotation may stand as illustration of these remarks: “In many sections of this country, fever and ague is a prevailing disease. Some attacks will yield perfectly to a few globules of the thirtieth potency of Ipecacuanha; others have to be treated with quinine in substance; others again are readily controlled by a few globules of the thirtieth potency of Cinchona; whereas, in thousands of cases Arsenic has to be given in doses of one-fifth of a grain. ” Supposing for a moment we had been lulled into the belief that the former portion of this quotation were founded on the author's carefully gained experience and truthful investigation; the dose of Arsenic he recommends, certainly justifies doubt and distrust on the part of the reader. This arbitrary manner of administering remedies, is strikingly illustrated in many chapters throughout the book; e. g., in the chapter on hip disease. After recommending Acon., Bell, and Rhus in the third dilution, the 30th potency of Sulphur is mentioned, with the strictest injunctions not to go below it. Advice of the latter kind can certainly do less harm than to vindicate the use of tinctures, or still worse, powerful corrosive poisons, even to “an intelligent public.” On the other hand, it is much more consistent with the object and dignity of a popular book, to adopt a more logical course of reasoning, and likewise to execute the same practically, by avoiding a species of extremes, evidently intended to suit different individuals.
The salutary effects of the 30th potency of Sulphur is established without a doubt, especially in chronic complaints, such as hip disease is apt to be; why then is it necessary to use other drugs in a potency so much below the thirtieth as the third is, while Bell. and Rhus for example, every-day experience has proved to be as powerful as Sulphur? The greatest variety characterizes this book; sometimes a high dilution is recommended, soon after a low trituration of the same drug, without any apparent reason. The third dilution, and the thirtieth are used, while the reasons for jumping about in these extremes must be regarded as mysteries hidden from the gaze of the over-inquisitive. These remarks do not imply the impropriety of using high and low attenuations, but rather demand that there should be more reason for a practice so arbitrarily forced upon the public, than is accounted for in the chapter discussing potencies or attenuations to be used.
In teaching a student of medicine, or, what is still more difficult, a layman, the art of administering homoeopathic remedies, the best plan is to adopt a few safe rules regarding attenuations, repetition of dose, etc., and apply them throughout the book, instead of worrying and blinding student or patient with a sham accuracy.
The idea of adding a treatise on surgical diseases and their homoeopathic treatment, might be commendable, provided a selection be made of diseases liable to occur in lay practice, and where such manual aid is required as a layman can render. Homoeopathy can recognize only such as surgical diseases,. in which mechanical aid can, and must, be resorted to All other diseases ought to be considered with a view to their relation to the homoeopathic materia medica, whence alone relief can be expected.
Inflammation, the different kinds of ulcers, spasms, articular dropsy, white swelling, rickets and a host of others can scarcely be enumerated as strictly surgical diseases, the amount of surgical aid required with these being very insignificant. At least it is not worth while to mention these as surgical diseases, merely for the sake of making use of a few old school applications, and as an excuse for repeating the groundless remark, that medicines are of little use, on the ground that certain morbid conditions, e. g., sinuous ulcers, cannot be treated homoeopathically on account of the multiplicity of their symptoms (p. 955). The same objection is raised in the chapter on scrofulous ulcers, where “our school” is accused of “dabbling with mere symptoms, instead of looking at the true pathology of the disease and the constitutional peculiarity of the invalid.” If Homoeopathy is meant by “our school,” the author of the surgical treatise knows less about it, than many a beginner, and it actually appears as if the two authors of the book either indulged in reciprocal liberality, or one was unaware of what the other had written; else, it is to be hoped, this insult to the scientific spirit of Homoeopathy would have been avoided.
The observation is again applicable here, that a book of this kind can be of little use in lay practice on account of its size, while a student of medicine would prefer to study the different branches of medical science, separately and more in detail, or if compends are required, the originals are easily obtained.
Dr. J. H. Pulte's Homoeopathic Domestic Physician. — This book, like several of the others, contains besides pathology and treatment of diseases, anatomy, physiology, and Hydropathy, also hygiene and a treatise on domestic surgery. The merits and disadvantages of introducing these subjects in a book destined for domestic practice, have already been discussed, making a repetition unnecessary. The manner in which the pathological and therapeutical part of this book is composed, does not vary in the least from any of the others, making conjecture impossible as to the respect in which this book should excel, to an extent rendering it worthy of so unheard of a demand as its title page proclaims.
In order to ascertain the relative value of each work, especially with regard to the pathological and therapeutical arrangement, we might compare the same chapter in each book, placing them side by side, if it were not more simple to allow every one to try that interesting experiment by himself. When reading, for instance, in each book, the chapter on acute rheumatism, we are puzzled to find who was the original author of that chapter, and we are forcibly reminded of the criticism on Dr. Pulte's book, contained in vol. II, of the North American Homoeopathic Journal. Of course it is proper that descriptions of disease and indications for its remedies, should be given with as much accuracy in one book as in another, but the fact that the wording and language, used in one book, is exactly like that in another, occurs by far too frequently to raise the value of these productions in the estimation of the profession, who will ere long deserve being divided into two grand classes, one consisting of book makers, the other of book readers. It is hard to say which of the two derives the most benefit, one contending with competition in the book trade, the other with excessively stale reading.
In preparing a book, the author is supposed to be most scrupulously jealous of the language he uses, and the manner in which he conveys his thoughts. In relying on other sources for information, beside his own knowledge, he will at least strive to clothe it in a new garment, and set it forth in a new light for the benefit of the world. But strange to say, we dare not look for merits of that kind among the popular literature of Homoeopathy. Why is it so? Is not the science, whose ideal aim is to reform the whole system of medicine, worthy of an original literature? Can not the writers in its ranks go to the fountain head for information, instead of copying paltry, commonplace phrases from one another, while their works invariably claim to fill a vacancy in this kind of literature, hitherto left unnoticed?
The greater the number of books of this description disseminated among the public, the greater will be the imperfection, diversity and want of harmony in opinions regarding Homoeopathy. Though our science advances rapidly, where the work is carried on by industrious men, though we stand on a firm basis, and enjoy a harmony of thought, contrasting nobly with the strife and empty pomp of the old school, yet many questions are with us unsettled, and many years of hard labor and keen research must pass, before the initiated may dare the attempt of making Homoeopathists of laymen, by teaching them with that air of assurance so frequently made use of in the literature we have been discussing. Readers even of limited education, frequently detect differences of opinion laid down in these books; that discovery leads to want of confidence, which in its turn induces weak-minded practitioners to adapt themselves to the notions and prejudices of the public, and gain for themselves the name of “liberal Homoeopathists,” while nothing is more strange to the spirit of Homoeopathy than conservative eclecticism.
Before leaving this subject we will briefly allude to the lesser productions of this kind of literature, such as Malan's Family Guide, Tarbell's Pocket Homoeopathist, Small's Pocket Manual of Homoeopathic Practice, Oehme's Homoeopathic Domestic Physician, etc. Insignificant as these little volumes may appear, they are more practically adapted to the necessities of the lay-public, than those large compilations crammed with a diversity of subjects. In these smaller books the authors must condense and abridge their ideas, otherwise so prone to expansion, and the public has only the information it needs, and which it is able to apply; while the reader is not troubled with treatises, too long and profound to be understood by laymen, and too short and stale for one who really needs the information.
After having discussed the characteristics of the existing popular books on Homoeopathy, hoping to have enumerated and considered their merits as well as their faults, we ought in justice to say what the main features of a book on true domestic Homoeopathy should be. In doing this it will perhaps be quite to the purpose, to mention that book which can justly claim the highest merit in the field of literature here considered, viz:
Dr. C. Hering's Domestic Physician. — Although this work was not the first of its kind ever published, it soon gained a reputation surpassing its contemporaries. As early as 1829, Dr. F. Hartmann published the second edition of Caspari's Domestic and Traveller's Physician. A few years later Dr. Hering published the first edition of his Domestic Physician, of which a second was issued as early as 1838. The book rapidly found its way from America into the heart of Europe, having been translated into the Bohemian language, while several editions were speedily disposed of in England and America. It was not only eagerly sought by the people; but also patronized by the highest authorities of the homoeopathic school, such as Stapf, Goullon, Gross, and others, whose recommendation alone is sufficient guaranty for the value of the book. Adding to these testimonials the fact that it has braved the trials of criticisms for more than twenty years, we may certainly be justified in setting it down as the best book of the kind ever published; besides this, there is hardly a doubt, that many of the authors we have mentioned above, consider Dr. Hering's book in the same light. Its pathological arrangement differs from that of its competitors, by its simplicity; though the chapters are numerous, the variety of their sub-divisions exists with scarcely a shadow of that kind of scientific display, so unintelligible to the general public. The entire contents of the book are selected with that remarkable tact, that can only be attributed to an instinctive knowledge of, and true sympathy for the wants of that portion of the public, falling under the observation of a physician.
There is scarcely a subject in the book that is not given with its true popular name, while all inconvenience is avoided that would naturally occur to a layman in making his diagnosis, in the manner so frequently imposed on him by the authors of the books at first spoken of.
Instead of puzzling the patient as to the “dose,” with an air of assumed importance, discussing whether to use 3 globules of one medicine or 6 of another, whether to dissolve them in three teaspoonfuls or half a tumbler of water — Dr. Hering, like Dr. Caspari, simplifies the whole matter in one chapter of sufficient length, with which he very reasonably expects the owner of the book to make himself familiar, before he is so unfortunate as to need medical advice. The therapeutical merits of this book become apparent on comparing the distinctions between the different remedies mentioned. On taking up a homoeopathic materia medica, who is not at a loss to find the characteristics and distinguishing marks of the many different medicines contained therein? The multitude and bulk of symptoms confuse and also discourage; and in fact a degree of discerning power is required to draw out the important distinguishing marks, the quintessence as it were, from the provings of each remedy that can scarcely be acquired by protracted study. Dr. Hering's book contains these important distinctions, but in so simple a form that they are often overlooked, and undervalued by the inexperienced, while the more experienced do not hesitate to consult them. Besides their usefulness and reliability, all of Dr. Hering's therapeutical indications are remarkable for their originality.
Perhaps the great popularity which this book has gained, was the chief agency in stimulating others to make similar attempts, which, had they all been undertaken for the sake of promulgating Homoeopathy, would certainly deserve the highest praise; however the utter want of diversity in the manifold popular works on Homoeopathy is a nearly direct proof of an equal want in the diversity of motives.
Though the publication and promulgation of domestic Homoeopathy is perhaps one of the means to strengthen the foothold of our great principle; yet there are many other modes of making the public familiar with its philosophy and practical value, of which Dr. B, F. Joslin has given us so great and so good an example; and it is much to be regretted that so little attention is directed toward literature of that kind.
It cannot be denied that an elementary knowledge of the homoeopathic materia medica among the public, materially enhances its growth, by convincing many of its great efficacy, who, while they would from fear or prejudice avoid the advice of a homoeopathic physician, are easily persuaded by their lay friends just for once to try a few drops or pellets; still there is another kind of knowledge regarding Homoeopathy, which if cast abroad will in the end do more lasting good in the cause of our great truths, than the dissemination of a few scraps of homoeopathic materia medica.
The knowledge referred to consists in understanding the fundamental principles of Homoeopathy, regarding which the public are just as much in the dark now as ever. Although thousands administer medicines, and some, according to the homoeopathic law, they are still as ignorant of this law as they were many years ago. Few know how homoeopathic medicines are prepared, why they are diluted, triturated or potentized, and how it is possible for such preparations to have an effect. The only prevailing opinion among the public is, with very rare exceptions, that Homoeopathists differ from Allopathists in giving smaller doses. If nothing is done on our part to spread more rational and perfect ideas regarding Homoeopathy, it can not fail ere long to become the source of endless superstition, therein sharing the fate of the old school, beside adding profusely to medical slang and meaningless commonplaces so usual among the uninitiated.
We have an Organon of Homoeopathy for physicians, we should also have one for the public. Homoeopathists at home and abroad should determine upon certain principles for promulgation; these laid down in a strictly popular manner, and in a neat volume, by a man inspired by sympathy for his fellow men, and a mind well versed in expounding hard-gained knowledge to the non-professional public, should be strewed broadcast over the land, and homoeopathic physicians should never cease to refer their friends to this book. The advantage gained, would be that the public mind becomes prepared and educated to receive, and to understand a truth, in comprehending which we have all had much to contend with. Facts are sufficient in most cases to lead to conviction, especially if rendered intelligible by sound popular philosophy.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 02 No. 04-05, 1860, pages 167-176, pages 232-240
|Popular Literature on Homoeopathy; Dr. Caspari''s Homoeopathic Domestic Physician; Laurie's Parents Guide; Epps' Domestic Homoeopathy; Guernsey's Homoeopathic Domestic Practice; The Gentleman 's Hand-book; Freligh's Homoeopathic Practice of Medicine; Small's Manual of Homoeopathic Practice; Hempel & Beakley's Manual of Homoeopathic Theory and Practice; Pulte; Homoeopathic Domestic Physician; Hering's Domestic Physician
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