Read before the Connecticut Homoeopathic Medical Society, Derby, Conn., October 20, 1931.
BENJAMIN C. WOODBURY, M.D.
The request of the Executive Committee of the Connecticut Homoeopathic Medical Society for me to present a paper on the subject of Books That the Homoeopathic Physician Cannot Do Without, and Something About Them, reminds me that there is after all no subject that is more important from the standpoint of the homoeopathic physician than his literary equipment.
What is meant, briefly, by this literary armamentarium? In the first place,it must be taken for granted that the homoeopathic physician, like any other physician, must have had at the outset of his career, a well-rounded training in the classics or their equivalent, one or more modern languages, a good knowledge of the general sciences, of chemistry and physics particularly, and, if he is destined to succeed, a certain inborn or indwelling love of his fellowmen and the innate desire to become to the fullest extent in his power, a healer of the sick. He must, either consciously or unconsciously, embody in his cosmos, or more specifically perhaps within his ego, that divine purpose so well set forth by our immortal Hahnemann in the first paragraph of the Organon, namely : “The fist and sole duty of the physician is to restore health to the sick. This is the true art of healing.”
The edition just quoted is the First American, from the British Translation of the Fourth German Edition, by Stratten, of Dublin. There is another version by Dudgeon that is much better known, that reads thus: “The physicians high and only mission is to restore the sick to health, to cure, as it is termed.” The late Conrad Wesselhoeft of Boston renders it thus: “The physicians highest and only calling is to restore health to the sick, which is called healing.” And Fincke, one of the most profound thinkers of the Hahnemannian wing of the profession, in an unpublished translation of the Fifth edition, transcribes this same passage as follows: “The physicians highest and only calling is to make sick people well, which is called healing”.
However we may translate this remarkable aphorism of Hahnemanns, we are brought face to face with the dignity of the physician, his superior worth in the world of men, and the high calling to which the God, All-Heal has called him. I am reminded here of the story of a small boy who was asked by someone who had called at his fathers office, and was about to turn away in disappointment, if he knew where his father, who was a physician, could be found. “I do not know,” replied the sturdy little fellow, “where my daddy can be just now, but wherever he is, I am sure he is helping somebody.” If this be the end and aim of the student of medicine, and of the homoeopathic physician, I am sure his future career will be a successful one. Thus to heal the sick, to make sick folk well, is the be-all and the end-all of the physician.
It is to the wisdom of Bacon that we are indebted for the observation that of the making of many books there is no end; and John Milton has remarked that “a good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.”
Richard le Gallienne has said in one of his exquisite romances that “books are the good Samaritans that find us robbed of all our dreams by the roadside of life, bleeding and weeping and desolate; and such is their skill and wealth and goodness of heart, that they not only heal up our wounds, but restore to us the lost property of our dreams” and “a library is a better world, built by the brains and hearts of poets and dreamers, as a refuge from the real world outside; and in it alone is to be found the land of milk and honey which it promises.”
If this sort of works obtains in the secular, why should it not apply likewise to the scientific or medical shelves? I believe there is a world of romance hidden within the mighty tomes of all ages, and who shall say that there is not a divine in the man of science or the man of medical learning, as well as in the poet or the dilettante?.
Before entering into more details respecting our subject, let me call your attention to the general opinions of some literary minds concerning books. If we are, first of all, as interested in books for their own sake as the late Dr. Crothers Old Librarian (Among Friends, p.96) we can never allow them to suffer from lack of care. For there is much neglect that may befall a book, especially an old one. But here again modern ingenuity has devised ways and means for the permanent preservation of a library of books that are well worthy of the collectors notice.
In the antiquarians “convention of books” cited by Dr. Crothers, the books themselves assume the responsibility for the care not of themselves but of their readers, and arrange them carefully in order and groupings, and decide upon their various merits. For books in their own way set great store by their readers, and when a book misplaces its readers, or loses them, it is looked upon as an especial faux pas. It is no small achievement for a work to look after a large collection of miscellaneous readers, and to select those that are worthy of cultivation.
It has not perhaps occurred to some of us that there is a specificity among readers as well as among books. Yet such, Dr. Crothers would have us believe. This gifted author and critic also wrote another essay entitled The Hundred Worst Books in which he says that: “Like all the lower organisms, poor books multiply prodigiously, though the total number is kept down by a corresponding mortality. The worst books sink speedily into the depths of oblivion. It is in these black waters that we must dredge for our specimens”.
Fortunately, homoeopathy boasts of a multitude of good books, and of a comparatively small number of bad ones, even applying all the strictures that the critic of general literature would unfeelingly employ. Certainly the works of Hahnemann, Jahr, Boenninghausen, Hempel, Hering, Kent and Allen, (to mention only a few of the earlier compilers of homoeopathic literature) measure up to a high literary value.
Let us examine some of the treasures to be found in the literary armamentarium of the homoeopathic physician.
First, let us go back to the fountain head, and see what contributions were made by Hahnemann himself that are still worthy of a place in modern times. Hahnemanns chief works include, as is well known, The Organon, The Materia Medica Pura and The Chronic Diseases. There is much, however, in his Lesser Writings that is worthy of the consideration of every physician of whatever method of practice.
In his monumental volumes, Samuel Hahnemann: His Life and Work, Dr. Richard Haehl of Stuttgart has included a list of the Essays and Works of Hahnemann. By actual count, this list embraces no less than twenty-two extensive volumes of Translations and Revisions of the leading medical writers of the times, from the year 1777 to 1800. Of Hahnemanns own works and essays, there are sixty listed from the year 1779 to 1810 which marks the publication of the first edition of the Organon, and from this time on until 1833 there are various editions of The Materia Medica Pura and The Chronic Diseases, with such epoch-making papers as The spirit of the Homoeopathic Doctrine of Medicine, which, though imperfectly rendered into English, formed the medium for the introduction of homoeopathy into America by Hans Burch Gram, in the year 1825;
Dissertation on the Helleborism of the Ancients, his thesis to the Faculty of Leipsic; On the Preparation and Dispensing of Medicines by Homoeopathic Physicians; Allopathy, a Word of Warning to Sick people; The Cure of Cholera; and his papers on the Anti-psorics; and Boenninghausens writings in general. This list includes some twenty-two or more essays, also introduction by Weber and Lich and Kammerer of Ulm. And finally, his sixth and last edition of the Organon, with his own annotations, as presented to the profession through the energies of Drs. James W. Ward and the late William Boericke of San Francisco. What ones of these works can the homoeopathic physician do without? Certainly not the great triad – The Organon, The Materia Medica Pura and The Chronic Diseases.
I have long conceived the idea of formulating a list of homoeopathic works to occupy a similar place in the library of the homoeopathic physician as that so popularly known at one time as Dr. Eliots Five Foot Shelf of Books. This the great educator set forth in his Harvard Classics (Collier, N.Y., 1910). This collection consisted of fifty selected volumes which, when one had carefully familiarized himself with them, would enable him to become a man or woman of culture. Dr. Crothers naively remarked of this Five Foot Shelf that:.
There are little jealousies among books, and it is impossible to please all of them. The old Librarian was conscious of this when, in a corner of the hall, he saw a number of books chosen for their especial serviceableness being seated on a divan five feet long. Each as his name was called came forward with a look of modest merit, while betraying a momentary surprise at his neighbor.
In the above-mentioned essay, Doctor Crothers makes reference to between ninety and one hundred authors. Let us see how comprehensive a list of homoeopathic works one could select for a five foot shelf. Hahnemann, we are told by Bradford, gives in his article on Arsenical Poisoning no less than 861 quotations from 389 different authors and books, in different languages and belonging to different ages, and gives these references “accurately both volume and page.”
And Haehl informs us that in his Dissertation on the Helleborism of the Ancients he was “able to quote verbatim (and give the location of the passages concerned) from manifold German, French, English, Italian, Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Arabic medical writers and he could examine their views – either in disagreement or in extension. He quoted from more than fifty more or less known doctors, philosophers and naturalists.” Such was the wisdom of Hahnemann!.
To return to our own homoeopathic classics. As the director of the Bureau of Publication of the American Foundation for Homoeopathy, I have frequently been asked to compile lists of Homoeopathic reference books which can be recommended for the use of the laity, for beginners in homoeopathy and for more advanced study. A partial list of such works was published in the Homoeopathic Survey for January, 1918, and in the Homoeopathic Recorder for April, 1931 will be found a paper read before the Foundation Post-Graduate Summer School on The Homoeopathic Library and How to Profit by It, which outlines in a general way the fundamentals of homoeopathic literature and their uses in the library of the homoeopathic physician.
In the lists of reference works on homoeopathy suggested for library and home study the textbooks were arranged in four groups as follows: Some forty to fifty or more works were listed on materia medica in Group I; Group II consisted of fifty works on homoeopathic philosophy; Group III, of some ninety or more works on the repertory; and Group IV, of some eighty or more works on therapeutics and homoeopathic practice. If we were to select from this list of three hundred or more works fifty volumes for our five foot shelf of homoeopathic classics we might well condense the above groupings about thus:.
GROUP I – MATERIA MEDICA
H.C. Allens Keynotes
Hahnemanns Materia Medica Pura
Herings Condensed Materia Medica
T.F. Allens Hand Book
Boerickes Pocket Manual of Materia Medica
Bogers Synoptic Key
Clarkes Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica (3 vols.)
Farringtons Clinical Materia Medica
Gross Comparative Materia Medica
Kents Lectures on Materia Medica
Guernseys Keynotes to Materia Medica
Hughes Manual of Pharmacodynamics
Wheelers Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Homoeopathy.
Chowdhuris Repertory (with the Materia Medica).
GROUP II – HOMOEOPATHIC PHILOSOPHY.
Boenninghausens Lesser Writings
Clarkes Homoeopathy Explained
Closes Genius of Homoeopathy
Dunhams Homoeopathy, the Science of Therapeutics
Dudgeons Lectures on the Theory and Practice of Homoeopathy
Fincke on High Potencies and Homoeopathic
Grams Characteristics of Homoeopathic
Hahnemanns Organon (1st Edition, Everymans Library Edition and 6th Short Edition, Boericke)
Hahnemanns Chronic Diseases (Theoretical Part only) (translated by Prof. L.H. Tafel)
Joslins Principles of Homoeopathy
Kents Lectures on Homoeopathic Philosophy.
Kents Lesser Writings
R. Gibson Millers Outlines of Homoeopathic Philosophy
Wheelers The Case for Homoeopathy.
GROUP III – REPERTORIES.
Allens Boenninghausens Therapeutic Pocket Book
Bells Repertory of Diarrhoea
Bogers Boenninghausens Characteristics and Repertory
Fields Symptom – Register
Gentrys Concordance Repertory
Herings Analytical Therapeutics (Vol. 1 only one published)
Jahrs Repertory and the New Manual
Kents Repertory of the Materia Medica
Knerrs Repertory to Herings Guiding Symptoms
Lippes Repertory to the More Characteristic Symptoms of the Materia Medica
Lee and Clarks Cough and Expectoration
Shedds Clinical Repertory
Worcesters Repertory to the Modalities
Lilienthals Homoeopathic Therapeutics.
GROUP IV – THERAPEUTICS AND HOMOEOPATHIC PRACTICE.
Arndts System of Medicine
Baehrs Science of Therapeutics
Burnetts New Cure for Consumption
Carletons Homoeopathy in Medicine and Surgery
Cowperthwaites Text-Book of the Practice of Medicine
Deweys Practical Homoeopathic Therapeutics
Guernseys Application of the principles and Practice of Homoeopathy to Obstetrics
Jahrs Forty Years Practice
Nashs Leaders in Homoeopathic Therapeutics
Pulfords Leaders in Pneumonia
Raues Special Pathology and Diagnostics
Royals Textbook of Homoeopathic Theory and Practice of Medicine
Schusslers Tissue Remedies.
It will be observed that in compiling even a five foot shelf of homoeopathic books, many well-known works must needs be omitted, owing to their bulk; as, for example, Allens Encyclopaedia, of ten volumes, and Herings Guiding Symptoms, likewise of ten volumes. Of the later sets of books it might well be said that no library could be considered complete without them, yet here we have listed only The Handbook and the Condensed Materia Medica. Bartletts three-volume work on Practice might well be included, as this is the latest work of its kind from the pen of a living author, and contains an up-to-date resume of the general field of medicine, including homoeopathic therapeutics.
There are countless smaller works, such as Burnetts classic monographs, Dudgeons Essays, bound volumes of Skinners Organon, Kents Journal of Homoeopathics, many of the essays of Clarke, Wheeler. Weir, Tyler, and other modern writers, which should find a place in the library of every homoeopathic physician. The above list and many not here mentioned are books which the homoeopathic physician cannot well do without. In case-taking, such works as Boger, Close, Kent, Nashs How to Take the Case and Find the Similimum, Bidwells How to Use the Repertory, Margaret Tylers Repertorizing and How Not to Do It, are of inestimable value. In the study of philosophy one should familiarize himself with all of Hahnemanns works.
He should should know Kent from cover to cover, and he can read with profit Joslin and Carroll Dunham, many of the essays and introductions of Hempel, and the lectures of Stuart Close. He must have read the Lesser Writings of Boenninghausen and the latters translation of the Aphorisms of Hippocrates. He should know materia medica thoroughly, the materia medica of no fewer than one hundred remedies, should have a comprehensive knowledge of the thousand more which comprise the complete materia medica. He must have read such comprehensive works as Bradfords Life of Hahnemann, Haehls Samuel Hahnemann, His Life and Work, Amekes History of Homoeopathy, and be familiar with Bradfords Pioneers.
He must be more or less conversant with homoeopathic bibliography, he must be familiar with the Boenninghausen Method, the Kent Method, and with the use of different types of card-index repertories. He must be familiar with, and have in his possession, if possible, a varied collection of the works of the old masters, and bound volumes of early homoeopathic journals. Such an array, transcending to an immeasurable degree any five foot shelf of collected works, would constitute a comprehensive library for the studious and conscientious homoeopathic practitioner.
The student of homoeopathic classics, the bibliophile, the true connoisseur of Hahnemannian could never cease to wander amid the fascinating highways and byways of homoeopathic literature. The libraries of the pioneers of our art consisted of such an omnium gatherum. Many of these libraries have been in recent years bequeathed to our generation. Happy indeed is he, and fortunate, who is the possessor of such a literary armamentarium. Whenever possible, may each and every one of us gather together these literary treasures. For what a priceless treasure is a book, of whose possessor it has been so well said:.
He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more than he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty.
A loosened spirit brings!.