JOHN HENRY CLARKE.
AN APPRECIATION BY DR. EDGAR WHITAKER.
THERE are many eminent professional men in Homoeopathy, such is the vitality of the science there always will be, but in the passing of John Henry Clarke there is something of drama-of the suddenly darkened stage-a blacking out.
What can be done by friends when their friend dies? To express adequately what is felt is impossible. Here is a man by far the greatest figure in English homoeopathic circle who in his lifetime entirely refused public recognition; a kind of king who has just slipped out of our lives.
In 1925 we proposed, some friends of his, to make him a public presentation. I was deputed to explore the ground. As delicately as possible, knowing him so well, I asked him (when he refused) to think for fourteen days, quietly considering the pleasure of his friends in doing it. Here is the answer, after a few days:.
“My DEAR FRIEND, I cannot wait a fortnight before putting you out our of your misery-the answer is definitely No. U feel it too strongly.
“The affection of yourself and others and the good use you are able to put my writings to are infinitely more be. This would be very distasteful. I cannot give you my reasons in writing but they are final.
My warmest regards and sincerest thanks to you all for your affection. Believes me always most truly yours,
CLARKE J H.”.
It was no use.
The best we could do was for me to slip into the “WORLD,” unknown to him, a few lines of appreciation, in 1926. “A word of thanks,” he says, “for the most kind and moving terms of your unauthorised letter in December “WORLD. It has come from your heart and has found mine. My work has been done for the most part behind the scenes. It is best so.”.
To come to the man himself. In the first place he had exceptional brains. He took his M.B., C.M. at Edinburgh University in 1875 as gold medalist in several subjects, following it up with the M.D. and further academic successes and appointments in 1877. His work in the homoeopathic field commenced almost immediately. He became a keen follower of Dr. Compton Burnet, who was himself in the direct hierarchy of Shyldham and the great Ruddock who died in 1876. In April, 1885, Dr. Burnett edited his last number of THE HOMOEOPATHIC WORLD (which was founded by Dr. Ruddock in 1965 and published from 2 Finsbury Circus until 1885 when Joseph Whitaker at his request took over the whole of his business and removed it to the present office), and the next month, May of 1885, Dr. Clarke commenced as Editor.
We must remember that at that time Homoeopathy was fighting a very uphill battle. If it had not been for Dr. Clarke it would never won. There is no doubt whatever about that; but why do I, how can I, state it so positively. It is incontestable. Think for a moment of the situation.
Here was a science extraordinarily successful on the Continent, sweeping in fact over Germany, owing to the personality of Hahnemann. But in England, though carried on with the greatest courage, it was faced with conventional opposition of the deadliest kind. True that Ruddocks Homoeopathic Vade Mecum of Modern Medicine and Surgery put Homoeopathic Vade Mecum of Modern Medicine and Surgery put Homoeopathic soundly on its feet-no one could knock it over after that-but few men have ever been able to write like Ruddock. John Henry Clarke with his brilliant brain saw even further-that the science needed exposition which would teach the subject and bind it down to scientific principles.
It was not done hurriedly, for the told me he had been gathering notes and putting them down long after midnight for many years. In 1895 we published for him the colossal undertaking: Clarkes Dictionary of Materia Medica and his Clinical Repertory. Hitherto (as Clarke related himself in the history published in the “WORLD” in 1922) there had been something furtive, almost secret, about homoeopathic publishing. Dr. Ruddock had been compelled to keep his publishing department in his own basement. Every homoeopathic doctor had had to seek a chemist-Clarke himself had to do so for his early works-for publication, no reputable publishing house daring to touch what was “officially” anathema.
That this furtiveness seared Clarkes soul is without question. His attacks upon the authorised school were continuous and unflinching, his scorn of empirical prescribing “pouring drugs into the system” flung out like fire from the pages of the “WORLD”. Though always right, he went in Joseph Whitakers opinion too far. Smallpox was in the country. Clarke hated vaccination-and no doubt he had Kings Government must be carried on. With all its drawbacks smallpox was being stamped out by vaccination. Clarke resigned in 1908. The owners had to accept the fact that an indispensable man had gone and that the “WORLD” would decline.
It did so. But in those years the gradual building up of the fine Homoeopathic Hospital, of the Homoeopathic Association and of homoeopathic dispensaries, schools of thought and the efforts of courageous laymen had done their work nobly. America had taken up the science. Money had come into it. Clarke was in touch (in fluent German) with the centre of the science, he was instrumental in carrying it into Brazil, his works were being translated into Spanish and German_Ruddocks Vade Mecum was put into Spanish as far back as 1885-and the “official” medical mind had “discovered” the infinitesimal dose!.
In 1923 I was instrumental in bringing back Dr. Clarke to the Editorship of the “WORLD” and on January 19th, 1923, received the following from Mr. Lee Mathews, the Chairman of the British Homoeopathic Association:.
“DEAR DR. WHITAKER, I brought the matter of THE HOMOEOPATHIC WORLD before my Executive Committee today. They congratulate you in having obtained the services of so able an Editor as Dr. J.H. Clarke and wish the “WORLD” every success.”.
That interpreted the feeling of all of us. Though we knew well enough it had always been in capable hands, something was lacking, some inspirational fire had gone out of it with the recognition of all for which it had been combating. Let it be publicly known now that Dr. Clarke would accept no remuneration, beyond the barest expenses. He would carry on the fight, but not for payment. By that date over one hundred thousand Ruddocks Vade Mecum volumes had been issued.
Clarkes Dictionary of Materia volumes had been issued. Clarkes Dictionary of Materia Medica, of which 7,500 had been printed, were down to their last 2,000, his clinical Repertory had kept pace and Prescriber had been twice revised and re-issued. He started at once on another revision. Only as late as September, 1925, we made a contract for its translation into German.
To claim Dr. John Clarke as a Master is not hyperbole. Medical men make their mark almost always by their personal skill. If they are not (at call) available that mark is unmade. But in the case of a doctor who has the rare “gift” (for it is a gift) of putting down on paper readable, instructive and permanent directions for the treatment of all kinds of sickness and trouble the mark is indelible.
For the science of which it treats it is simply invaluable. Clarke many times spoke to me of the lack of homoeopathic doctors. He directed his mind towards helping layman and kept the columns of the “WORLD” always open to him. People from all parts of the universe wrote to him for help and guidance. When I handed him a bundle of letter I used to call him the Universal Provider.
I do not doubt that he antagonised some. I know we suffered from it here. Without question he had antipathies which were out of proportion, but I think these were the reactions to the struggles on his early life. He could not admire the laggards who were reaping the benefit of his bayonet work. Why should he? And yet back of this attitude there shone the light of sympathy to everyone.
In later years he was attracted by the poetry of William Blake, and wrote two small books on him. He was in fact in search of another battle ground, this time of a mystical and religious nature. He “hated” all Germans pre-war, he “loathed” all Jews post-war-they were against England. He failed in these last battles simply because he had made so many friends.
So we come to the last phase. I am not proud about it and speak of it humbly and with sorrow. I had a little lost touch with him, because as Manager of the parent firm also I am so busy all day long. I had expected him to go on for ever, for he had looked so well on the last occasion. Until the news suddenly came upon me I too, like you perhaps, could not see the wood for the trees! Homoeopathy is so generally accepted that we do not sufficiently realise how it has become so or how enormously this one man had contributed during those long years. I was not even aware of his sudden illness till, in the broken lines of his handwriting just decipherable, there came: “I can write as you see, but to read what I have written is another matter. I am sorry to close our association in this way”.
The association is not closed. The “WORLD” and his publications will continue the work for which John Henry Clarke both lived and died. There is a saying that none of us is indispensable, but in Clarkes case that does not hold. In the first place he had them knowledge, in the second the energy, enthusiasm and capacity for the meeting or opposition, and finally the gift of teaching by way of books. If he had not been a good practitioner even these great qualities might have lacked, but settling himself down in the most exclusive part of the West End of London he there reflected honour upon the profession, built up a fine practice and maintained it to his death, amidst a host of friends.
Of just such a man Cicero was thinking when he wrote: Mortales inimicitias, sempiternas amicitias-for of few is it more true than of the late John Henry Clarke: May our enemities be short- lived, our friendships eternal.
God rest his soul and make us mindful of a life well lived, well done.
SOME OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.
By the late DR. J.H. CLARKE.
(from his book, Homoeopathy Explained).
[ Some readers having suggested the re-publishing in this commemorative issue of some of the writing of Dr. Clarke, we have chosen this chapter from his book published in 1905].
IN the course of conversation at a public dinner the subject of homoeopathy cropped up, and my neighbour, a layman of intelligence, frankly stated the objections he had to the system, looked at from the outside. He owned that he had no personal acquaintance with homoeopathy, and had not studied it; but it seemed to him that a man who did not pin himself to a system was more free to use any and Further, he thought that medicines which were of such an innocent nature that they could be safely prescribed in domestic practice, must have very little power of doing any good at all. I will take these two objections and discuss them in their order.
I. HOMOEOPATHY TRAMMELS ITS ADHERENTS.
This is a very natural view for any one not acquainted with the system to take. Really the very opposite is the case. Homoeopathy does not fetter its adherents: it sets them free. It gives those who follow it a point of view from which they can discern clearly them at their proper worth. By its double-sided method of studying drugs it can estimate their power and use them with a precision unknown to allopathy. Further, it can take advantage and make good use of the mistakes and over-dosings of the allopaths, which invariably occur with drugs newly brought out. For example, when chloral was first lunched upon the medical world, it was declared to be perfectly harmless, and was given in large doses to numbers of patients.
In some instances severe attacks of nettle-rash followed its use. This at once showed to homoeopaths its power over skin disease, and it has been used by them in certain cases of nettle-rash ever since. Again , when salicylic acid and its salts were first given in cases of rheumatism, it produced in many patients who were over-dosed with it, deafness,s noises in the ear, and vertigo. The hint was at once taken by homoeopathists, and salicylate of soda in its homoeopathic form has cured many patients suffering from a disease which presents this distressing set of symptoms, and is called after the man who first described it, :Menieres disease.”
I may mention also the drug Thyroidin, lately brought forward )prepared from the thyroid gland of the sheep) has produced alarming symptom sin many patients, and in the hands of homoeopaths has been used successfully in cases presenting similar symptoms. Homoeopaths are free to use anything-just as free as allopaths; only they have this advantage: knowing the doublesidedness of drug action-that a drug can cure conditions like those it can produce in the healthy-they have a much more intimate knowledge of any drug that is brought forward than an allopath can have. The latter has to blunder on in the dark,m and learn from his mistakes as much as he can; but his mistakes can never teach him so much as they teach a homoeopath.
But, really, there is no comparison between the system of homoeopathy and the no-system of allopathy. There is reason, light, and orderly orderly progress in the one; there is nothing but chaotic fragments in the other. Homoeopathy no more trammels its adherents than the laws of Nature trammel the mechanician.
2. HOMOEOPATHY IS TOO HARMLESS TO BE OF ANY USE.
It is quite true that homoeopathy is of no use for poisoning vermin or for killing patients. If patients must die, it prefers that they shall die a natural death. It is also true that the homoeopathic preparations of deadly poisons may be used with perfect safety in household practice. But it does not follow that because a preparation cannot kill, therefore it cannot cure.
I may here mention incidentally another objection that has been raised: “If homoeopathy is true,” it is said, “a drug must cure in the which it is given.” But the objector in this case leaves out of account the difference in the sensitiveness of the human organism under the different conditions of health and disease. Homoeopathy simply demands that there shall be a correspondence between the disease symptoms and the drug symptoms.
The rest is a matter of experience, and experience shows that in a normal healthy state the organism requires a larger dose of a drug to disturb by disease. The difference in the sensitiveness of an organ in health and disease may be seen any time. Take an inflamed eye and compare that with a normal eye in its reaction to light. A normal eye can near a very strong light which to an inflamed eye would cause exquisite pain.
This fact supplied the answer to the objection to homoeopathic medicines, on the score of their harmlessness. Remarking, by were equally harmless, I may add that the sensitiveness of the diseased human organism to the homoeopathically indicated drug is intensified beyond conception. It is impossible to get the dose too small if attenuated in the graduate manner directed by Hahnemann. And even in certain individuals when not diseased there is a peculiar sensitiveness to certain drugs infinitely transcending the sensitiveness of Drosera to phosphate of ammonia, which gave Darwin such a fright.
Some persons cannot be in the attic of a house whilst a few grains of ipecacuanha are being powdered in the basement without being powerfully affected thereby. In THE HOMOEOPATHIC WORLD of July, 1885, I quoted the report of a case from the British Medical Journal of February 7th of the same year, in which a medical man tells how he nearly killed a patient by simply applying a linseed poultice, though the patient protested that every time such a poultice had been applied she had had an intense attack of asthma.
The doctor pooh- poohed her statement, insisted on the with the result that three hours later he was “summoned to see her, as he sister thought she was dying.” And he continues: “I found her livid, and struggling for breath, and certainly in as bad an attack of asthma as I ever saw.” To an allopath an observation of this kind is a curiosity and nothing more. To a homoeopath it is full of useful significance.
It is exceptional to find a patient as sensitive as this to a remedy not homoeopathically related to the case. But in disease, the patient becomes excessively sensitive to the remedy which has caused corresponding symptoms, that is to say, to the remedy which is homoeopathic to his condition. Experience taught Hahnemann that a very much smaller amount of the corresponding drug was needed to cure than that required to produce the symptoms. Experience has confirmed the fact in the practice of thousands of his followers; and it now remains established beyond the possibility of disproof.
I will now pass on to answer other objections we sometimes hear.
HOMOEOPATHY HAS NO TONICS.
On the contrary; every properly chosen homoeopathy remedy is a tonic to the case treated. Again and again I have been asked by patients, “Was not that a tonic you gave me? My appetite has been so much better since I took it,” when it was merely the appropriate homoeopathic remedy. By “tonic,” people generally understand something which increase the appetite and the feeling of strength. The appropriate remedy will do both; but this implies that the patient is in a state of debility. There are no such things as “tonic” in and absolute sense. Quinine is only “tonic” when given for debility; when taken in health it is one of the most debilitating drugs known.
The same may be said of Arsenic, Iron, Phosphorus, and Strychnine. They are only “tonic” to special kinds of debility, like those they are capable of creating. There is thus an inconceivable amount of harm done by indiscriminate indulgence in “tonic.” It is a relic of the old barbarous treatment of names of disease by names of drugs, against which Hahnemann protested. A patient is feeling “want of tone”; what could be simpler than to take a “tonic”? In nine cases out of ten the result is slow poisoning.
In homoeopathy we differentiate the different kinds of debility,and prescribe the remedy which corresponds, in a dose which is quite large enough to remove the debility without depositing a mineral or vegetable poison in the patients body to breed future trouble. In a large number of cases of debility there is one of the chronic miasms at the bottom of it. Relieve the system of that by the appropriate homoeopathic remedy, and the feeling of wellness and natural appetite at once return without the help of strong drugs.
HOMOEOPATHY HAS NO APERIENTS.
This is often alleged against homoeopathy as a grave defect. Homoeopaths hold themselves free to make use of the physiological effects of any drug if they think the occasion calls for it, only they do not delude themselves with the idea that they are curing a patient of constipation by simply ordering a purge. Homoeopaths have a much higher opinion of the unaided powers of Nature than allopaths, lay or medical, entertain. Some of the latter think that no natural function can be properly carried out unless assisted by some drug-no meal can be digested without the aid of some digestive, or else some mineral water.
The perpetual resort to aperients on the part of such vast numbers is another relic of barbarism, and a survival of the Facultys teaching in the days when the whole of medical practice was summed up in bleeding, purging, and administering. A young medical man, fresh from one of the London schools, recently told me that there was always a sigh of relief from the physician when examining a patient in the wards if he found that he had constipation, for then he knew what to prescribe-a purgative.
The thing that is lost sight of by allopaths is that constipation is a constitutional disease. A purgative does not cure it, but only gives temporary relief, and aggravates the actual condition. Homoeopathy cures constipation without any purging. The drugs most used by the allopaths to check diarrhoea- Opium, Sulphur, Nux vomica, Lead, Alum, and many other so-called astringents-have cured in their homoeopathic form the most inveterate cases of constipation without any disturbance whatever.
Homoeopathy has thus the very best of aperients; and though it does not possess and does not want active purgative, homoeopathists are free to use drugs in that way if in any case they think it worth while as a temporary expedient. The need for that is so rare, however, in the practice of many homoeopathists, as to be scarcely worth taking into account.
5. HOMOEOPATHY CURES TOO QUICKLY.
The most valid argument against homoeopathy was given me by a doctor in the navy who related a case. The ship this doctor was appointed to was stationed in the Red SEa during one of the Egyptian wars, and acted as hospital ship to the fighting force on shore. During this time many case of dysentery were received on board, and as my friend found no satisfactory treatment for it under allopathy, and as he knew something about homoeopathy, he determined to treat his cases according to Hahnemanns method. The cases all presented symptoms like those produced by Mercurius corrosivus, and this he gave minute doses with the result that his patients got well in a very short time.
One officer-and it is his case that I particularly allude to-was brought on board exceedingly ill with dysentery; but to everyones astonishment he recovered under the treatment by Mercurius corrosivus so rapidly that he became perfectly well and ready to return to duty in a very short time. The day after he rejoined his regiment, the next battle of the campaign was fought, and he was the first man to be killed on the British side! Under allopathy he could not possibly have got well in time.