Recently, I have been fortunate to obtain a complete set of The Homeopathic Echo, which was published in Auckland, New Zealand by Dr Carl Frank Fischer, between 1855 and 1856.
Dr Fischer arrived in New Zealand around 1853, and was influential in the spread of homeopathy in colonial New Zealand. He had a thriving private practice, and also helped to found a homeopathic hospital, published proving of two native plants, and helped to found The Homeopathic Magazine in 1866.
The Homeopathic Echo
Dr Fischer’s aim in publishing The Homeopathic Echo was to produce “a work on domestic and veterinary practice valuable to all, but more especially to the settler in the remote bush”. He publishes it in twelve issues to make it more readily available to those who would be interested. “Thus then we launch our new Journal upon the troubled waters of the world, .... labouring solely for the benefit of this community.”
Each issue of The Homeopathic Echo contained various sections: a Leading Article, a chapter on Homeopathic Law and the life of Hahnemann, a column for Domestic Practice, a column for Veterinary Practice, a Homeopathic Materia Medica and lastly some columns devoted to extracts from other publications and to correspondents.
In the March 1855 issue, the Leading Article is along the sentiments of “Health shall live free, and sickness freely die:. The article begins: “Truth is ever progressive. The golden wheels of her chariot perambulate incessantly the earth.”
The Life of Hahnemann
The life of Hahnemann is covered, up till his discovery of homeopathy, and quotes also Hypocrates (sic) on cholera and Willis on Sweating Sickness. The major Homeopathic law covered is similia similibus curator, or like cures like. The examples he gives to explain this are using turpentine for burns, using a bass note C to drown the sound of middle C, keeping warm by drinking cold water, cooling down by drinking tea, taking snuff for sneezing and putting salt onto the tongue for thirst. “All these are domestic and vulgar instances of Homeopathic cures practised every day, and known to everybody.” He also quotes the efficacy of vaccination as proof of homeopathic principles. Talking about the growth of homeopathy, he said there were then upwards of three thousand practitioners, the greater part of whom were regularly educated medical men.
In the Introduction to the Materia Medica, Dr Fischer talks about aggravations of symptoms as “assisting nature in her efforts with similar means”. There follows a discourse on The Choice of the Proper Remedy, quoting Hahnemann as directing practitioners to form “a correct image of the disease”, and covering the general symptoms and the modalities. He delays discussion of the potencies to use, but recommended the 3rd and 12th for domestic use. He also gives advice on The Dose and Its Repetition, and recommends: “Too much stress cannot be laid upon the necessity of carefully watching the effects of each dose.”
Regimen for Patients under the Treatment
In his Regimen for Patients under the Treatment her starts: “The Homeopathist knows that though diet will not cure disease, improper diet will interfere with the cure of disease”, and he gives strict dietary insights. He advises against veal, pork, seasoned dishes, coffee, alcohol and unsound fruit, and is in favour beef, mutton, eggs, bread, mealy potatoes, and especially cocoa.
With regard to Habits, he cautions against “late hours, dissipation, very close study, religious melancholy, solitude, gloomy books, anxiety about trifles, and powerful mental excitement” as being “injurious to parties in the health”. He recommends airing the bedroom in the day by leaving the upper sash of the window open, as foul and tained air rises. For Washing he states: “It is of the utmost importance that the skin be kept clean: but shower and other baths, hot or cold, are not allowed under treatment”. The body may however be sponged to tepid water, provided there is no exposure to cold air during the process.
For Clothing, the clothes must be adapted to the weather, and “in this changeable climate the Chest and Shoulders, from infancy to old age, should always be kept well covered”. Tight lacing is describes as “a miserable error for ladies who desire and elegant appearance”, and is quoted as having ”very baneful effects on young mothers during pregnancy, and afterwards upon their offspring”.
In the Condensed Materia Medica section, he states that at that time there were upwards of 300 remedies which had been proved. He gives four and five page renditions of Aconite and Belladonna, compiled from the works of Jahr, Moaks and Trinks, which are presented in quite some detail.
In the Domestic Practice department, he gives advice on influenza, catarrh or common cold, dysentery, looseness of the bowels, and inflammation of the stomach in infants. The remedies used and advice given is much the same as you would find in first aid books and courses today.
The Veterinary section covers lockjaw, particularly in horses, and colic: colic from constipation, colic from cold, flatulent or windy colic and verminous colic. It is directed towards conditions often seen by the Farmer and Settler.
Popular Lecture on Physiology
The Popular Lecture on Physiology No 1 discusses organic and inorganic matter, considers the question “What is life?” but admits there is no answer, discusses the importance of a sound and healthy body for the “play and force of the intellect”, and talks about the structure of the bones. H concludes “How beautiful and gracious are these arrangements. How worthy of that wise and loving Creator.”
Words to the Wise
Words to the Wise covers Home Sanitary Reform, discussing the air inhaled at every breath, the quantity of light in the rooms that are occupied, personal and household cleanliness, the purity of the water which is drunk, and efficient drainage, with the escape of noxious effluvia.
He expounds “Unclean and inconvenient houses, in damp and dark situations, are the very cradles of drunkenness and disease. The men, returning from their day’s labour, find nothing but discomfort, uncleanliness and annoyance. There is the public-house, ever neat, ever light, and ever gay. To it, as a natural consequence, they turn; whilst the women, neglected, sooner or later themselves take to the stimulants.”
The issue ends with some interesting quotations, and a recipe for some delicious pumpkin soup!
It is altogether a most interesting publication, and one which must have gone far toward fulfilling the motto “Health shall live free, and Sickness freely die.)
Dr Rose Isbell