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Homeopathic Materia Medica by Dunham


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"His life was gentle; and the elements so

mixed in him, that Nature might stand up

And say to all the world—THIS WAS A MAN!"


The memory of this great and good man is enshrined in the work he accomplished on earth, as well as in the hearts of all who came within the circle of his wise and helpful benevolence.


"Si monumentum quaeris, circumspice ! " Although no words can enrich such a record, they may serve, even in a fragmentary review, to present the leading traits of this noble life with sufficient distinctness for profitable study.


Carroll Dunham was the youngest of four sons of Edward Wood Dunham and Maria Smyth Parker, and was born in the city of New York, October 29, 1828. The families of both parents were old and prominent residents of New Brunswick, in the State of New Jersey. Mr. Dunham was for many years a successful merchant, and was distinguished for his intelligence, energy, probity and methodical habits of business. About the year 1820 he removed with his family from New Brunswick to New York, and in 1853 he retired from business with an ample fortune, honorably acquired He soon afterward became president of the Corn Exchange Bank, which position he retained until his death. His wife was a lady whose character happily combined gentleness with prudence and firmness ; qualities which her son Carroll seems to have inherited along with the business aptitude, energy and uprightness of his father. Mrs. Dunham died during the cholera epidemic of 1832, when Carroll was but four years old.


Those who remember Carroll Dunham as a boy, speak of him as remarkably docile, bright and cheerful, and considerate of the feelings of others. His general health was good, but he usually avoided the rough sports of his companions. " He was always," says one of his elder brothers, " looking into things, with an eager desire to know all about their qualities and uses." As a youth he was affectionate, truthful and energetic, more fond of books than play; and even at that time, his demeanor toward his fellows was marked by that same modest reserve—far removed from timidity—which was a prominent characteristic throughout his whole life.


He entered Columbia College in 1843, and graduated with honor in 1847. Immediately afterward, he commenced the study of medicine under Dr. Whittaker, an old-school practitioner, very capable, and at that time of high repute as a trainer of students. In 1850 he received his degree of M. D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York, then located in Crosby street. His previous mental training, as well as his greater natural ability, enabled him, during his student life, to outstrip his fellows; and the cheerful readiness and patience with which he smoothed the difficulties of those who sought his aid soon drew around him a select number of followers, to whom he explained, in his own way, the lectures of the day.


About this period of his life, Carroll was cured of a dangerous illness by a homeopathic physician, after eminent practitioners of the " regular" school had failed. This circumstance made a deep impression upon both father and son, and led the latter to investigate the principles of homeopathy, and to institute comparisons between the old and new methods of treatment. In furtherance of this inquiry, after completing his college studies, he went to Philadelphia to seek the acquaintance of Dr. Constantine Hering, as one of the most learned physicians of the new school; and not only profited largely by his teachings and advice, but (to use his own words) " I gained the most helpful, generous and genial friend I have ever made."


It was the wise desire of both his father and himself that his preparation for the arduous duties of his profession should be as complete as possible. After graduating, therefore, instead of beginning to practice, he sailed for Europe, to glean a further harvest of observation and study in foreign hospitals, and from the leaders of medical and surgical science abroad. In Dublin, he served as an " interne " in the Lying-in-Hospital; he also investigated the Stokes treatment of fevers in Meath Hospital. While in Dublin he received a dissecting-wound, which nearly ended his career; but, after the resident physicians had given him up to die, he called homeopathy to his aid, and cured himself with Lachesis.


From Dublin, Dr. Dunham went to Paris, where he studied specialties under such instructors as Bouillard, Velpeau, Trousseau, Ricord, Simon, Heurteloup, and others, while he also regularly visited the Homeopathic Hospital under the charge of Tessier. From Paris he went to Berlin, and thence, after a brief stay, to Vienna, where he remained several months, attending the hospital cliniques of Wurmb, and the lectures of Kaspar on Materia Medica. From Vienna he directed his course to Munster, to visit Boenninghausen, who received the young physician with cordiality, and very soon learned to appreciate his tireless industry and active intelligence, and prophesied for him a brilliant future. Here the eager student remained long enough to watch numerous cases treated by Boenninghausen, and to become thoroughly familiar with the methods of examining and prescribing for patients practised by that distinguished German.


Having thus liberally availed himself of the advantages of foreign culture, Dr. Dunham turned his steps homeward. During the whole period of his absence he was in close correspondence with his father, between whom and himself there existed a rare degree of affection and confidence. It had been his practice from his boyhood, when absent from home, to correspond almost daily with his father, and thus he acquired the habit of clear and terse expression, which is characteristic of all his writings. At a later period, his most elaborate articles were rarely re-written, so effectual was his early training in intellectual work. It is worthy of remark, that wherever the young physician tarried for a season in his travels, he was sure to make warm and constant friends, with many of whom, eminent in the homeopathic world, he kept up a life-long correspondence.


On his return to America, he began practice in Brooklyn; and at the very outset, so marked were his ability and success, that Dr. P. P. Wells, who had been an esteemed friend, as well as the physician, of the Dunham family for many years, says of Carroll: " He was always my friend, never my pupil." In February, 1854, Dr. Dunham married Miss Harriet E. Kellogg, daughter of Edward and Esther F. Kellogg,— a woman of rare personal beauty and highly endowed mind. From this union resulted many years of domestic happiness, a helpful companionship and co-operation in his arduous labors, and the prolongation of his useful life through her tender watchfulness and devotion. So thoroughly were their two lives intertwined and identified, that they repeatedly told their children—as if to prepare them for the future— that should one parent die, they must expect the other soon to follow,—a prediction which was literally fulfilled, as in less than a year after Dr. Dunham's death, his wife was laid by his side in Greenwood. Her sad, brief widowhood was spent in an attempt to continue his life-labors by collecting and publishing in book-form his numerous, but scattered, contributions to medical science. In the year 1858, a severe attack of illness necessitated a removal from Brooklyn, and he took up his residence at Newburgh, Í. Õ. In this removal he sought rest of mind as well as of body, and it was not his intention to resume practice until fully restored; but the remarkable success which attended his prescriptions in one or two cases which were pressed upon him with an urgency not to be denied, brought other claimants to his door; and thus, in spite of the delicate state of his health, he soon became professionally busy. After residing in Newburgh about six years, his health again gave way under an attack of cardiac rheumatism, and he removed for a short time to New York. While there he had the assurance of leading specialists of the old school, whose prognosis was invited, that he could not long survive. Upon this he sought the advice of Dr. Hering, who, after a careful and exhaustive examination of the symptoms, prescribed a single remedy (Lithium carbonicum), which promptly conquered the disease. His own case thus, more than once, forcibly illustrated the soundness of the medical rule which he so often advocated, "a single remedy, and if possible, a single dose." Soon after, he moved his residence to Irvington-on-Hudson, which he made his home, for the most part, until his death, having, however, an office and consulting practice in New York to which he attended upon certain days in the week.


During the whole of his active professional career, his health often gave way under the strain he put upon it, and he was several times compelled to seek a change of scene and climate. He visited Europe thrice in the pursuit of health; also, Nassau and other foreign resorts; but no suffering or sickness could prevent his active mind from utilizing his travels in the acquisition of knowledge, or blunt his zeal in the promotion of medical interests. During his last visit to Europe, though so weak and worn as to contemplate an unusually long absence, he exerted himself successfully to secure the good-will and co-operation of foreign physicians in his project of a "World's Homeopathic Convention."


The confidence in his ability to manage this scheme and carry it to a successful issue was so general among his colleagues, that our National Society conferred on him plenary power to arrange its details and to choose his associate workers. And in 1875, as has been truthfully said, " Our National Institute honored itself by electing him President for 1876, when the fruit of his special labor should be fully ripe." How efficiently he performed the duties of that office, and with what dignity, courtesy and fine tact he presided over that convention, few who were present will ever forget. A detailed history of that convention would show that in planning, arranging and executing his plans, he performed an amount of labor which few men could have borne. On April 27, 1876, he thus wrote to a professional friend: "The responses of our friends from abroad are very gratifying. Two years ago I had not much confidence; but when I found that the thing was to be, I determined that it should be a success." And this letter contained a list of foreign communications aggregating one thousand four hundred and fifty-six pages of large paper, and in half a dozen different languages. More came in May and the first week of June, from foreign and home contributors, presenting a mass of manuscript to be translated, abridged, corrected and put through the press, before which a literary Hercules might have stood appalled. This work was done by him or under his personal supervision; every article was carefully re-read by him, and the proofs were finally corrected by his pen; and all this material was collected by him through a voluminous correspondence. In addition, he assumed the care of the general arrangements for the sessions of the convention in Philadelphia. " Of course," he wrote at this time to a friend, " I have convention on the brain. I eat, sleep and live it; and have put some of my best blood into it;" adding words which now have a peculiar pathos, "but hope to have some left, when all is over."


During the sessions of the convention in the latter part of June, 1876, the heat was extreme, being often not less than 100 Fahr. in the shade; but he clung to his post, though in daily danger of utter prostration, performing all his duties to the end. He left Philadelphia, exhausted by his labors, and took a trip to the Upper Lakes, from which he returned so much improved that he thought himself strong enough for the remaining work of the convention. But he was immediately stricken down by a severe attack of diphtheria, from which, in his enfeebled condition, he convalesced slowly. He resumed his labors too soon; but in the presence of duties unfulfilled, it was simply impossible for him to be idle. On June 19th he had written to a friend: "I am better, but not yet in working order. I hope to be in New York on Wednesday, however, and to be fit for work next week." The central desire in his mind, the one thing to strive for, was "to be fit for work." On September 11, while confined to his bed at Irvington, he dictated to a friend at his bedside clear and definite instructions concerning the revisal of some manuscripts for the Centennial volume, and, nine days after, writes: " I am convalescent, but miserably feeble. It seems as if I never should feel strong again. I sit up part of the day." Again, on October 6th: "Strength comes slowly, but it comes."


He took to his bed, for the last time, on December 2d, 1876, where he lingered, under the devoted care of his family, and his physicians Drs. Wells and Joslin, until February 18th following, when he passed peacefully to his rest, in his 49th year. "Though his death," says Dr. Joslin, " was obviously caused by exhausted vitality, consequent on his labors in connection with the World's Homeopathic Convention, and though the nervous system must be looked upon as the main seat of trouble, still the mind remained clear to the last, and was never clouded during any period of his illness. His old friend and physician, Dr. Wells, who attended Dr. Dunham with me, remarked to me that he died of no disease, but from exhaustion produced by excessive and protracted labor. He had a certain irritating cough, originating apparently in a small spot in the larger bronchi, and relieved after a time by the expectoration of a small quantity of tough mucus. This was an annoyance, but could not be said to have had much influence on his decline. An irregular fever was present, evidently varying with every slight strain on his nervous system. His kidneys showed evidence of acute disease for several weeks, but this difficulty seemed to be passing off before his death. His old enemy, rheumatism, appeared in slight degree several times during his last illness. He had for many years been a sufferer from valvular disease of the heart; but this was apparently rather improved than otherwise. He said he had kept watch over his heart with a flexible stethoscope, and was confident that no hypertrophy had taken place, which he attributed to the fact of his always being careful to keep well nourished, contrary, as he remarked, to some advice he had received." In a private letter, written to correct some misapprehensions about his last illness, his wife writes thus: " A mind so acute as Dr. Dunham's could not have death approach his body and be unaware of it. Neither could a mind so exalted fail to submit tranquilly to an inevitable fate, from which the spirituality of his life took away all fear. He passed as from one phase of life to another of equal or greater activity; from one room in his Father's house to another. He said: º do not see my way through this illness;' and at the end of the seventh week, a month before he died, he said, with perfect tranquility: 'I shall go on in this way two weeks longer, and then I shall slip into my grave.' And again: 'I shall go on in this way through the ninth week, and then I shall go to Greenwood.' Any one who knew the correctness of his professional prophecy, must, after these remarks, have struggled against conviction, to have any hope of his recovery. # # # He complained of no pain; but from the beginning of his confinement, he constantly spoke of being 'perfectly wretched,' he could not tell how; but he never showed, as in former illnesses, any vigor underneath. # # # About five days before the last morning, I noticed a change in his complexion, and this deepened and became more permanent every day until the last moment. Up to that time he had wished the room cool; from that time he frequently asked if it was warm enough. Sunday morning, about eight o'clock, he asked the temperature. When told that it was between 69 and 70, he said: 'There is an unfriendly feeling in the air; you had better light the fire.' He lay and looked into the flame, saying: 'That is very pleasant;' and he watched us feed the flame, and seemed to enjoy the cheery influence, speaking now and then. And so he passed away a little before nine o'clock, without any struggle. He peacefully ceased to breathe."


In some characters, opposing principles contend with varying fortune for mastery, and thus produce a complexity of contradictory phenomena, very difficult of analysis. It is not easy, out of such conflicting elements, to form a just judgment of the man they constitute. But the character of Carroll Dunham was like a clear crystal, many-sided, indeed, but transparent throughout; and his whole life was so harmonious, his consecration of himself to a noble ideal of duty so evident, that the friend of a few weeks and the friend of a life-time would form, essentially, the same judgment of him ; differing only in the degree in which they would comprehend and revere the rare nobility of his nature.


Dr. Dunham was a voluminous writer, though he never concentrated his energies on the production of a single large work. He began to contribute articles to the medical journals when in Europe in 1852, and continued to do so steadily for twenty-five years, until death ended his labors. He devoted his efforts principally to the elaboration and perfection of the materia medica; though many of his writings are of a miscellaneous character, being reports, reviews, clinical cases, public addresses, lectures, monographs and translations; the most notable of the last being Boenninghausen's work on whooping-cough. But these productions of his pen are not to be classed among the lighter or more ephemeral growths of medical literature. His faculty of giving his best powers to whatever he found to do, great or small, confers a permanent value on all that he wrote. He touched no subject without revealing something new and instructive, while the confidence he inspires in his statements, the judicial impartiality with which he treats matters in debate, and the lucid and manly language which he employs, give a rare zest to his compositions. There was no flaw in the fabric of his thought. He never said an unkind word or a silly one; and his opponents (he had no enemies) always admitted that his criticisms were just and manly. Every utterance of his was as perfect as the workings of that noble mind could make it. All his speeches, all his writings, all his labors were, in every part, symmetrical; for all were born of his earnest desire to " do good and communicate." Many of these contributions to our literature appeared in the "American Homeopathic Review," of which he was editor for some years; but all the prominent journals of our school, with scarcely an exception, were frequently enriched by articles from his pen. Besides his published writings, he maintained a more or less active correspondence with professional friends at home and abroad; in which way his great influence was the more widely and thoroughly felt, in the advancement of medical science and especially of homeopathic therapeutics.


Always subordinating his private interests to his elevated sense of duty, Dr. Dunham never sought titular honors or any public recognition of what he was or what he had done. But honors found him out; and he was, at various times, elected to high positions in many learned and scientific societies, both foreign and domestic; testimonials to his reputation as a physician and a scholar which were fully deserved.


When the death of Dr. Dunham was announced, so general and profound was the sense of an irreparable loss, that the whole homeopathic profession rose up as one man, both in this country and in Europe, to give utterance to their sorrow, to do honor to his memory, and to commemorate his character and services. Every one felt that we had "lost our best man." Special memorial meetings were called in many of our cities; all our societies paid their mournful tribute to his worth; obituary notices from the pens of our most distinguished men appeared in all our journals. Not even the death of Hahnemann stirred up such depths of grief; for Dunham, stricken down in the prime of his manhood, was nearly as widely known and admired, and was vastly more beloved. Perhaps we cannot give a better idea of the man, and of the impression which he made, than by quoting from some of the remarks and addresses which were then made as an offering to his memory.


A life-long friend remarked : "He was many-sided to such an extent as I have never seen in any other man. His learning was surprising, his literary culture great, and his modesty great as either. He spoke the languages of modern Europe as his own. His insight into the elements of disease, and into the nature of the agents by which they are cured, was wonderful. He has left an example which may God help us to follow! "


Another friend said of him: "Not long after the beginning of our acquaintance, we were associated in the investigation of some professional controversies. I confess I was hardly prepared for the display of clear, discriminating sagacity with which he took up the subject in dispute ; and the earnestness with which he pursued the delicate and unpleasant task to a logical conclusion. # # # Most of the members of this society know something of the important part he took in the reorganization of our medical college. But few are aware of the amount of arduous labor which he gave to that business, or of the peculiar difficulties he surmounted in its accomplishment. # # # His opinions always commanded respect, and usually controlled the course of action. And it may be said, without hesitation, that the existing laws of the State for regulating medical practice and for suppressing quackery owe much of their fair and liberal character to the influence he exerted. # # # Though the functions of arbitrator or inquisitor were not congenial to his modest and retiring disposition, yet he never hesitated to occupy any position or perform any duty legitimately imposed upon him. # # # In the social circle, amongst neighbors and friends, his genial nature shone conspicuous. With a vast fund of curious and interesting information, gathered from books and travel, he possessed a rare wit, and a fine appreciation of humor, which gave to his conversation a delightful charm and freshness."


The committee of the New York County Homeopathic Medical Society, after bearing grateful testimony to his invaluable contributions to the materia medica, in the knowledge and practical application of which he was almost without a peer, speak thus of his qualities : " Possessing intellectual capacities of the highest order, he never exerted them for selfish ends, but always for the public good. Pure in his private life, exceptionally modest and retiring in his demeanor, ever gentle and kind, he knew not how to stoop to meanness and detraction ; generous and large-hearted, he was always ready to aid others, and all who were brought in contact with his noble and tender nature were compelled not only to admire and venerate the accomplished physician, but to trust and love the true-hearted Christian man."


From a Western physician we have this testimony: " At the meetings of our institute, he was the one who moved about the most quietly, who came and went with the least parade, and who, while he spoke very seldom in debate, always spoke to the purpose. He was the member whose committee never failed to report, and whose papers were always well digested, clear, concise, practical, and ready for the printer. He was the source of appeal for men on both sides of mooted questions. His influence was almost unbounded. He had the skill and tact of a great diplomatist, but these were never used for his own personal purposes. His pen was his sword,—the sword of Melancthon and not of Luther, bright, keen, trenchant,—but it can truly be said that it 'never carried a heart-stain away on its blade.'"


Another friend said : " His life was one of truth and goodness. His name can never be mentioned without awakening feelings of love and reverence. His action in all matters, great or small, was prompted by purity of heart and love of right. By years of devotion to his profession, by his searching investigations, by his lucid writings, by his spotless integrity, and by his sincerity of purpose, he acquired unequaled influence among his colleagues; and I truly believe that Carroll Dunham has done more for the interests of homeopathy, not only in this city or country, but in the world at large, than any other man since the time of Hahnemann."


His life-long friend, Dr. P. P. Wells, said, after his death: "I would willingly have died for him."


One who had known him from his boyhood thus spoke of him: " When I pass in review the thirty-five years of our friendship, I can honestly and heartily say, that I do not remember a single word or act of his for which any of his friends need blush, or which he, now gone to his last account, would wish to be unsaid or undone. The only impatience I ever felt toward him during this long period, arose a few times because his calm, deliberative nature refused to plunge into the arena of medical polemics. But he was so magnanimous, or to use the more expressive Saxon word, so large-minded, that he could not be partisan; he could not but view both sides of every question at issue, and, as a consequence, he was liberal and generous even to his opponents, always ready to make allowance for the opinions and acts of those who differed with him. He was truly one of the 'blessed peace-makers.' The character of his mind was essentially judicial ; approaching a subject impartially, he calmly weighed it in all its bearings; and had he been educated for the bar, his keen intellect and sound judgment would have graced the highest bench in the land. Actuated by an earnest love of truth and justice, he was thoroughly unselfish and always subordinated his private interests to the good of the cause with which he was identified. More than this : his whole life was devoted, in a most self-sacrificing spirit, to the duties which the profession laid upon his willing shoulders ; duties and responsibilities which he never refused and which came to him unsought, simply because all recognized his eminent fitness for their discharge. Thus he was often overburdened, and on several occasions his failing health compelled him to break off from all labor, and go abroad to rest and recuperate. But the moment he returned, those labors were resumed ; and when, at last, exhausted nature succumbed, his death was merely the crowning act of a whole life of self-sacrifice. Though not physically strong, he was a steady worker and close student; and though independent of his income as a practitioner, and possessed of a competence by inheritance, which would, especially in view of his impaired health, have justified him in leading a life of elegant leisure, he accomplished an immense amount of literary labor; more, in fact, than most men, in full health and impelled by necessity, could have performed.


"His judgment was so sound, his convictions so sincere, his aims so unselfish, his life so pure, his sympathies so tender; he was so free from conceit or arrogance, so modest and unobtrusive, so devoid of petty ambitions, so intent on doing his whole duty, so liberal and tolerant toward those who differed with him, that he commanded the respect and won the affection of all who knew him. He wielded an immense power for good, not only by what he actually did, but by the mere force of his example, of a quiet, honest, thoughtful life.


"I have spoken of him as unselfish; I may add, from my private knowledge, that he was very generous and open-handed to all in need, imparting freely not only of his stores of knowledge, but of his purse. I could recount many acts of kindly charity and timely aid to poor struggling brethren; but I refrain, for he was one of those who never let their right hand know what their left hand gives.


"His unvarying cheerfulness was another marked characteristic. Notwithstanding his physical infirmities and his engrossing labors, he always seemed to dwell in a bright and serene atmosphere, full of hope and peace. His very presence was refreshing and inspiriting; he went in and out among us, impressing all with the conviction that he was a true man, who had consecrated his life to a noble ideal of duty.


"Yes, friends and colleagues, we have lost our noblest and best man, one who was the heart and soul of the highest work done in our profession. In him we lose more than we now know; for, ' take him all in all, we ne'er shall look upon his like again.' But those who were so blessed as to call him friend, will always be thankful for his life and example; for such a man as he ennobles not only the age in which he lived, but humanity itself."


Much more might be quoted of the same purport; but these extracts will suffice to show how great and good a man was Carroll Dunham; as true a hero as ever fell in the front of battle, fighting for the right.


We cannot close this brief memorial more fitly than by quoting his parting words to his class, for they strike the key-note of his own life:


"May you have the pleasant consciousness, not only that you have made some permanent additions to the common stock of knowledge for the common good, but also that many men and women have been the happier for your lives."