Hahnemann’s son in Dublin

Friedrich Hahnemann Dublin Ireland New York

Julian Winston 1941-2005

In April 2004 the late great historian of homeopathy, Julian Winston, sent me the following for our journal Homeopathic Times.

Homeopathy and Dublin: Some Intersections by Julian Winston

The city of Dublin is entwined with the early history of homeopathy in several ways, two of them relating directly to Samuel Hahnemann himself.

The first intersection

Sometime about 1820, Hahnemann’s son Friedrich arrived in Dublin. Friedrich, born November 30, 1786, received his medical degree from Leipzig. He suffered rickets as a child which left him high-chested and with a spinal curvature. He became a wanderer early in his life. A letter from him to his father, dated London 1819, was so bizarre in appearance that Hahnemann said, “My poor son is certainly insane.”

Friedrich seems to have been in Dublin from June of 1820. Dr. R. Tuthill Massy wrote to the “Homeopathic Times” in August 1852 that he was told by Mr. Boyton Kirk that his brother in Dublin was attended by Friedrich in the year 1823. “The great Hahnemann, after prescribing, said that the child would have two more fits: he further stated the days and hours, and then said the child would never have another, which turned out correct to the moment. “The father, Thomas Kirk, RHA, the artist, so renowned in works of sculpture, took Hahnemann’s bust in the year 1823, while the doctor had the spark and fire of manhood. This fact has been mentioned by more than one author; Lady Morgan has referred to it, and to Hahnemann’s visit, in a number of Bolster’s Magazine, published in Dublin. “It occurred to me that each of the English Homoeopathists would like to see this head and have a copy, I therefore wrote to Mr. Kirk, of Dublin, and he has offered to do fifty casts, full size, from the original mould, for 10s. each; twenty-five for 15s. each; twelve for £1 1s., each; so that if we get fifty subscribers we can have them very cheap. “The above casts would be in plaster; but Mr. Kirr, of the Royal Porcelain Works, Worcester, has offered to get the mould from Mr. Kirk, of Dublin, and to finish fifty in Parian china, for 100 guineas, which will closely resemble the marble bust of Hahnemann in the late Sir Robert Peel’s collection, and which, Mr. Kirk tells me, Sir Robert prized beyond all the works, foreign or national, in his gallery. “Hahnemann wore a pointed beard in 1823, and with his beautiful head and elegant outline this bust has been frequently taken for that of St. Paul. You may put down my name for one in the Parian china.”

Subsequent letters to the “Homeopathic Times” pointed out that this was not the Elder Hahnemann (as Dr. Massy thought) but was Hahnemann’s son who “practiced here at that time, and made no little noise in the Dublin world; driving a coach and four, and keeping a handsome establishment in Dawson St.” W. B. B. Scriven of 40 Stevens Green, Dublin, commented on the bust in a letter on August 24, 1852: “The face is expressive of fiery energy, the eyes possessing a penetrating vividness, which is wonderfully rendered in the clay: but the head, which is bald in front, though striking and remarkably fine, does not exhibit the massive squareness and breadth of forehead of the father, being rounder and less lofty. “The lower part of the face is concealed by a large beard and mustache. It is evidently the head of no ordinary man, and never fails to attract the attention of those who visit the studio of my talented countryman. “His age might be guessed at from thirty-five to forty. The bust was executed by the father of the present Mr. Kirk while Frederick Hahnemann was in attendance on one of his sons, whom he cured of a distressing malady and is one of the numerous proofs of the remarkable facility possessed by that lamented artist of infusing speaking life into the inanimate marble.”

A further letter by Charles W. Luther, of Dublin, says of Friedrich: “His restless disposition and eccentric habits, as well as domestic circumstance, induced him to leave Germany. He went to Dublin, not to practice Homeopathy, but for the avowed and exclusive purpose of curing epilepsy. “In this, if report can be trusted, he frequently succeeded; but his professional conduct exceeded even the ordinary limits of oddity and eccentricity, to make use of the mildest terms. He soon left Dublin again, and when Hahnemann, for the last time, heard anything about him he was somewhere in the West Indies.”

Mr. Kirk then replied to the letters in the “Homeopathic News”, saying: “In reply to your favor I beg to say that I have asked my mother the questions you desired respecting the Hahnemann who practiced in Dublin in 1824, and she tells me he was hump-backed and had a very old appearance, looking like a man of sixty; but my father told her he was not more than forty at the time. “With respect to the mention made of the bust, in an article written some twenty years ago, in Bolster’s Magazine supposed to be by Lady Morgan, she merely mentions the bust as an instance of fine modeling, but says nothing whatever about him. “There is no doubt that this is the bust of Frederick Hahnemann, not Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy and father of the man whose bust I have.”

Friedrich left Dublin sometime after 1825. He was reported to be in New York State in 1828, and then was reported in Galena, Missouri during the cholera epidemic of 1832. After that, he was never heard from again.

As for the bust, it remains unknown– one of the lost treasures of homeopathy. Perhaps someone in Dublin would like to take up the trail of Joseph R. Kirk, who resided in Dublin in 1852 and had the bust in his possession.

The second intersection

In the summer of 1833, the first English translation of the Organon (the 4th edition of 1829) was published by W. F. Wakeman of 9 Dolier St. in Dublin. Titled, “The Homeopathic Medical Doctrine or Organon of the Healing Art,” it was described as “A new system of Physic,” and was translated by Charles H. Devrient, Esq. It was printed by P. D. Hardy, Cecilla St.

In the introduction, Samuel Stratton, speaks of learning of homeopathy in 1828 from a Russian Physician. Says Stratton: “Convinced, from reflection and observation, of the value of homeopathy, the first step in the propagation and dissemination of this doctrine in Britain was to obtain an English version of ‘The Organon.’ Chance made me acquainted with a gentlemen to whom I communicated my opinion of the value of the work and the advantages which would result from its translation. His perfect knowledge of German and English literature enabled him to produce a translation free from those faults which abound in English versions of German works. Each page of the manuscript was carefully revised by me, and compared with the original before it was sent to press.”

Although this was the first English translation of Hahnemann’s work, it was already out of date when it was published. Hahnemann dated the introduction to the 5th edition of the Organon as March 28, 1833. It was certainly published within a few months of that date.

The changes from the 4th to the 5th were many. For example, the now-famous Paragraph 9 which speaks of the healthy condition of man that allows “our indwelling rational spirit” to “freely employ these living, health organs for the superior purposes of our existence” (Hering translation 1836)– does not exist in the 4th edition.

In 1836, using the 4th Edition by Devrient as a starting point, Hering rearranged it in the order of the 1833 5th Edition, and added those paragraphs (like the new 9th) that were changed in the 5th. It was printed as “The first American Edition” by the Academical Bookstore in Allentown, Pennsylvania. This English edition of the 5th edition pre-dated the translation by Dudgeon in 1849 by 13 years.

The copies of the Devrient work are scarce, but a facsimile was printed in 1995 by “The Classics of Medicine Library” in a limited edition of 500 copies. It is the only translation into English of the 4th edition, and it was the first English translation of any of the editions of the Organon.

The third intersection

Dr. Carroll Dunham, most widely known for his insightful books on Philosophy (1877) and Materia Medica (1878), spent some time in Dublin in 1850. After matriculating college in 1847, he began the study of medicine, placing himself as a pupil under Dr. Whittaker, an old school physician. Having been cured of an illness by homeopathy, he investigated the claims of the new school, and became a firm believer of its principles and practice. Nevertheless, he attended the course of instruction at the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons, receiving his medical degree in 1850. After graduation he left for Europe, to continue his studies. It was then he visited Dublin, where he served a term in the lying-in hospital. He then went on to Paris and Vienna. In Munster, he became a pupil of Boenninghausen, daily attending at his office and making careful and elaborate notes of the cases that he saw, their treatment and the results. Dunham returned to the United States a year later and commenced practicing in Brooklyn. Five years later he again returned to Munster to spend time with Boenninghausen. He was one of the few who met Boenninghausen in person and studied with him.

Friedrich Hahnemann: from “Pioneers of Homeopathy” by T. L. Bradford, Boericke and Tafel, 1897. The text of the book is available here: http://www.homeoint.org/seror/biograph/hahnemannf.htm
The Devrient 4th Edition: “Homeopathic Medical Doctrine” by Samuel Hahnemann. Classics of Medicine Library, 1995. Copy number 307 or 500.
“The Organon the Healing Art” by Samuel Hahnemann. First American edition. Edited by Constantine Hering. Academical Bookstore, Allentown, PA. 1836.
Carroll Dunham: “Lectures on Materia Medica” by Carroll Dunham, MD. Francis Hart and Co., NY 1878. containing “A memoir of the author” by E. M. Kellogg.

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