Melanie Hahnemann


The un-burial of Melanie Hahnemann (M. Grimes)

Melanie Hahnemann, for all her love for and devotion to Hahnemann and homeopathy, was virtually buried alive in condemnation and disgrace by the international homeopathic community when she steadfastedly refused to dishonor Hahnemann s dying request to keep the contents of the sixth edition of the Organon unknown. For her resolute compliance and dedication to Hahnemann s clearly (and publically) stated instructions, she was to be smothered under a blanket of confusion and untruths that has lasted 150 years. In reality, Melanie Hahnemann is likely the brightest star in our entire history. Where homeopathy would have ended up without the influence of this amazing woman, is a question we all need to consider.
Called "my finest student," and "the best homeopath in Europe" by none other than Hahnemann himself, the contributions of Melanie d Hervilly Gohier Hahnemann to homeopathy and to Hahnemann have been mostly overlooked.
The mission and purpose of Melanie Hahnemann has been consistently misinterpreted in history. Even in her death, she remains unacknowledged, her grave not even marked with her name. What greater slight to a woman who gave up her life, her youth, and her social position, to further the cause of our science and to spread the teaching of the Master.
When she first met Hahnemann, Melanie spoke of having "recognized in him his moral perfection, and sublime intelligence." While considering marriage, Melanie later recorded in her memoirs, "It was not the prospect of nursing an old man that frightened me, but I was afraid of losing him too soon and mourning for him so much that I should die of it."
Yet, from the moment of their first meeting, their relationship had been questioned, her motives attacked, her honesty questioned. She was considered by some a youthful temptress who lured him from his loving family to a demanding life of unnecessary opulence in a foreign capital.
Many accused her of marrying an old man for his money when, in fact, she herself was quite wealthy, having income from several properties in Paris. She had since been portrayed as selfish and domineering, and a social climber. Haele, in his biography of Hahnemann s life, says: "The motives of Madame Hahnemann were selfish and self-serving, and not in the best interests of her husband," though Hahnemann himself adored her and wrote to his friends about his joy during this period of his life.
To Hering, in 1836, he writes, "My second incomparable wife, Marie Melanie d Hervilly, who is a model of scientific and artistic achievements and industry, who is endowed with a noble heart, and clear intelligence, loves me immeasurably, and makes a heaven of earth." (Haele 2:352)
Contrary to Hahnemann s feelings was the negative sentiment from the community at large that occurred after his death when Melanie delayed, at her husband s request, the publication of the 6th edition of the Organon. Though she was honoring Hahnemann s request, many felt she delayed the publication "in the expectation of being offered higher prices," and that "the value of the first edition revised by the Master himself would increase in value"(Haehl 1:351).
Yet, without her, homeopathy might never have reached the worldwide reputation and recognition that it has. Hahnemann might have lived out a quiet life in a remote European duchy, his work not known outside a small circle of German doctors. What would homeopathy be today, had it not been for her and Hahnemann s sojourn in Paris where they treated the likes of the von Rothschilds, and Paganini, their home becoming a clinic and Mecca to those suffering, and those seeking learning, from around the world. And it is during these last years of his life, because of her support and encouragement, that Hahnemann evolved the 6th edition of the Organon, and the LM potencies, which he might not have otherwise been inspired to create. We certainly know from Hahnemann s own pen that these days were the happiest of his life.
A woman of the independent nature of Madame Melanie was not highly regarded at this time. In the face of tradition, she chose not to marry, but to pursue a career. Then, independently wealthy, and not reliant on a man for financial support, she married a foreigner, many years her senior. She then practiced medicine. A very unconventional image even now, and quite radical for the 19th century.
How did she become the "chosen disciple" of the founder of this science?
What formative influences guided her to this life of individuality and independence?
Early life
Melanie grew up during the Restoration, and was in the center of the artistic, political and intellectual circles in Paris. She was 15 when she was sent to live with her painting teacher, Guillaume Guillon- Lethiere. He was the third son of a baron who had studied with Deschamps and a friend of the well-known sculptor, David. Two of Lethiere s paintings now hang in the Louvre. His patron was Lucien Bonaparte, brother to the Emperor. He was a professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and a member of the Legion d Honneur. Melanie painted mostly realistic oil portraits, typical of the women artists of her day. Though some have questioned her artistic abilities, Rima Handley says, "She was not merely an accomplished dilettante, as Haele suggests." Several of her paintings were exhibited at the Louvre between 1822 and 1824. She won a gold medal, presented to her by Charles X, for a painting in one of those exhibits. Only two of her paintings remain known today. One is a lithograph of the Greek hero Leonidas, published in 1825, accompanied by a poem written by her on the subject of Greek independence. The other is her portrait of Hahnemann in 1835, painted three months after their marriage.
Melanie was also involved, as was most of France at that time, in politics. Her brother, Charles, went to America with the Marquis de Lafayette. She referred to Lafayette as "the apostle of liberty" (Handley 36, ft 19). Her friendship with Louis-Jerome Gohier dates from this period. He had been Minister of Justice when the Jacobins held power in the National Convention. After the fall of Robespierre, he escaped the guillotine, becoming part of the third Directory (Cabinet). Eventually he became its president, and thereby the President of the Republic. Melanie called him "the last President of the Republic." When the last Directory Government was overthrown by Bonaparte in 1799, Gohier was sent to Holland. He returned to Paris in 1810, and died in 1830. Melanie buried him in her own family plot at Montmartre. Because of the inspiration she had been to him, he willed to her money and his name, saying,"I should have been proud had I been able to adopt her, but as I was so fortunate as to be a father, it was not admissible. I would have offered her my hand, if her inclination to art, the only passion which so happily dominated her, would have allowed her to accept it" (Handley 45). Giving her his name was quite a compliment. She did use his name until her marriage with Hahnemann, but did not, however, accept any of his money.
Abbey Gregoire, yet another powerful man, was another of her friends from this period. He was a member of the Council of Five Hundred (lower chamber of the parliament) in the last days of the Republic.
Her literary mentor was Francois-Guillaume-Jean- Stanislaus-Andrieux, a professor at the Ecole Polytechnique and the College de France. He wrote his last poem "Hyme à sainte Melanie" in praise of Melanie, which begins
O sainte Melanie!
Soyez soyez benie?
Vos miracles sont doux:
Vous calmez la souffrance
Vous donnez l esperance
Dieu même est avec vous?
(Handley 42 )
Another of her friends was Neopumene Lemercier, Napoleon s favorite playwright. Melanie s two primary mentors before Hahnemann were Lethiere and Gohier. Lethiere died in 1832. As his children had died before him, it fell to Melanie to bury him. Which she did, once again, in her plot at Montmartre. A simple plaque reads, "Lethiere, paintre" (Lethiere, painter). Melanie became guardian to Lethiere s grandchildren, Ea and Charles, who came to live with her after his death. Charles was later to become a loyal companion, and her pharmacist during her years as a homeopath.
Gohier s place in her family tomb is not marked. Previous historical records have suggested that Gohier and Lethiere were her husbands. This is typical of the misunderstanding of this unusual woman and her unusual friendships.
After the deaths of Gohier and Lethiere, Melanie s own health was impaired and she could no longer paint. After reading the recently translated Organon, in French, she went to Germany to find Hahnemann and be cured. He proposed to her three days after their meeting, and three months later, they were married.
Hahnemann was at that time living with his two daughters in the isolated Duchy of Anhalt-Kothen. Because of charges against him brought by the apothecaries, Hahnemann s license had been removed and he was unable to practice medicine. The Duke of Kothen, a fellow Freemason and patient, granted him asylum in his duchy, outside German law. Hahnemann s wife of 48 years had died four years before, and Hahnemann was cared for by his two younger daughters. His life in Kothen was restricted by the law and by its remote location.
Melanie s motives for marrying Hahnemann were questioned by some from the beginning. Hahnemann was 40 years her senior. She was a foreigner and newcomer. Many of his long time students were the most disgruntled.
As she was wealthy in her own right, she arranged to have all his money left to his family at the time of their marriage, and she accepted nothing from him, only a simple gold band. But the slanders ensued, and Hahnemann s lawyer published a letter explaining their financial arrangements:
This old man, grown grey with incessant work, much persecuted and aggrieved, but highly respected by all his more intimate acquaintances, soon experienced with Mlle d Hervilly ...a higher enjoyment of life than he had previously surmised and this elicited a profound desire to end the last days of his stormy life in quiet and cheerfulness and in cordial union with her who was responsible for his higher happiness. The wife, who comes from a highly respectable and wealthy family and is 35 years old, possesses considerable unencumbered property of her own. She is talented and was educated for art and science. That she became a painter and poet has been proved. ...This woman, who had determined to devote herself to painting and scientific pursuits and not to marry, was noble-minded enough to sacrifice her beloved country, and her family ties, to neglect her artistic connections with France and Italy, to the wishes of an old man so as to render the evening of his troubled life as bright and cheerful as he deserved it should be.
Except for a plain gold marriage ring, Madame Hahnemann received nothing whatever, neither goods nor household effects, and not a penny in money of her husband s property. Shame on him who intends to disturb the peace of this couple in slanderous lies.
Isensee, Justizamtmann Kothen, March 11, 1835 (1835, Allgeem Anz der Deutschen 79 quoted in Haehl 2:329 )
Melanie writes in her diary
"In order to help with his family, honour him, and show that my devotion was not actuated by selfish motives, I asked him to give his whole fortune to his children, which matter was legally arranged, and became known throughout Germany. I voluntarily renounced the share which the law allots to the wife in the inheritance of the husband. I refused the wedding presents: everything even the smallest piece of furniture and linen was divided amongst the children.
Hahnemann was happy for the first time. I nursed him as one nurses a newborn child. I was his barber, his valet, his secretary. I loved and admired him so much that I would have served him on my bended knees. Never was tenderness more fully returned, never was a union stronger, this perfect and longed-for happiness, that each of us had found it its moral perfection was attained by our marriage. It lasted until his death and was never destroyed in spite of the extreme difference of age; thus it was again proved, that those who share the same views are of the same age." (Haehl 2:323 )
That Hahnemann was happy cannot be contradicted. The letter written to Bönninghausen, May 22, 1835, is typical of this period.
To Bönninghausen he writes,
"Such a heavenly life as the one I lead with my wife whose perfection surpasses that of mortals, you can hardly imagine. She has just completed my portrait in oils and completed it in nine days ...she had not touched a brush for three years, -now she can paint again without discomfort. That is the extent to which I have improved the health of my angelic wife!" (Haele 2:335)
Although some say he left Germany for Paris against his will, he was quite clear about his intent:
"It is quite impossible to say, when, if ever, I shall return" (Alleg. Hom. Ztg. 1864 v69 100).
Paris years
Samuel and Melanie moved to Paris in 1836. Through Melanie s political influence, she was able to obtain permission for Hahnemann to practice legally in France. She practiced by his side, becoming the first woman homeopath in Europe. Far different from the isolation Hahnemann had experienced in Germany, their practice in Paris drew visitors from around the world. Melanie set up a free out-patient clinic for the poor that she herself looked after, in the afternoons.
"Hahnemann associated me with his work. I served as interpreter and secretary when patients came to consult him, because he wrote everything; as his doctrine rests entirely upon the expression of symptoms, it cannot be practiced without written notes. He made me learn his Materia Media Pura, a dry and difficult study, but as I possess an extraordinarily good memory it remained so well and so completely impressed upon my mind that whilst the patient told his symptoms I pointed out, in German to the doctor, the remedies in which this symptom was to be found. In this way, I considerably shortened for him the search that every homeopath however capable is obliged to make if he wishes to cure. Hahnemann had created the materia medica, but he did not remember all the single details so well as I did. When he once had the few remedies which I indicated to him and from which he always made his selection, his work became so easy that he could see a larger number of patients without becoming fatigued each time. It gave him inexpressible joy to disclose to me all the mysteries of his science of healing. I must have been very stupid if I had not made rapid progress with such a teacher. He entrusted me entirely with the treatment of the poor who came at 4 o clock and frequently numbered more than a hundred. Hahnemann sometimes looked in at this consultation hour more for the sake of enjoying the benedictions which were showered upon me and for the sake of seeing me distribute the alms which I gave to the working people who in the their illness lacked necessaries, than in order to solve medical difficulties, which might impede my work; for the good results were constant. All that I did in those days passed for his work, and I was quite satisfied that it should be so, and when he said to me: Really I could not do better myself, I wish the world could know what a good homeopath you are (This was written by his own hand) I used to reply,
My life to yours is closely bound,
To your happiness devoted,
My place in your noble heart I found,
No other in this world do I desire.
(These words are engraved in his watch chain.) (Allg. Anzieger der Deutchen. Haehl v1 240).
In the daytime they would practice together, and when there were house calls, they were done by Melanie alone, as was reported in "Allg. Anzieger der Deutchen."
"He made some personal house calls, but most were undertaken by his wife. Only very few people are fortunate enough to see him personally, as his dear wife tries carefully to avoid everything that might disturb him unpleasantly (if only to a slight extent) or that might unduly tax his strength. ...All the more patients flock to his house, but the great part receive their medical advice from the lips of his highly intelligent and well-informed wife" (Haehl 1:240)
Yet many continued to attack her motives, her honesty, questioning her motives, and their finances. Hahnemann continued to practice in Paris and criticisms were leveled against her for making an old man work
-Considering it an undue pressure. It was felt that Hahnemann was old and tired and deserved a quiet old age. Hahnemann s grandson claimed, in 1864, that by leaving his old patient journals in Germany, he was planning to discontinue practice. Upon arriving in Paris, Hahnemann, himself, claimed, "I have come to France for the furthering of homeopathy and am most happy to be amongst you." ("Alg. Hom. Ztg." 1836). After visiting the Hahnemanns in Paris, Dr. Peshier wrote a report in a journal stating, "An illustrious old man enjoys a happiness which very rarely falls to the lot of the scientist... A faithful guardian watches over him day and night...she is Hahnemann s right hand" (Haehl, v2 347). Hahnemann s work was recognized, and he was elected permanent president of the Gallic society. He wrote to Bönninghausen, in 1836,
"Here they know how to appreciate and how to remunerate a physician. Even if I were fifty to sixty years younger I would never think of returning to Germany"(Haehl, 2:351).
Hahnemann retained his mental clarity until his last days, and lived some of his most productive years in Paris.
"I am better and happier than I have been for many years, and I enjoy life" July 1841 (Haehl 2:375).
Death of hahnemann
Hahnemann became ill shortly after his 88th birthday with what had been his "usual spring malady, bronchial catarrh"(Haehl 1:242); however from the beginning, Hahnemann communicated that he felt his life force was used up. He passed away on July 2, 1843, at 5 a.m. , in his home in Paris.
Hahnemann wrote in his will, "My mortal remains shall be left to my dearly beloved wife who is to have the free choice of the place of interment and of the funeral arrangements, unfettered by anyone." After attaining permission from the police to keep his body at the house, Melanie had Hahnemann embalmed the 3rd of July, by a newly patented process. Melanie writes in her diary, "My despair can only be measured by the immensity of my devotion. I suffered the most terrible affliction, my sorrow was so intense that there can be nothing like it in store for me ever again. I had Hahnemann s body embalmed in my own presence and I lay down on his bed for eleven days at the side of his inanimate body with which I should have liked to be laid out in the tomb. The tenderness which I felt for Hahnemann was moral love in its most powerful manifestation; a love so rare because to experience it one must be profoundly virtuous, the greatest physical love will never produce a devotion like it." (Haele 2:325)
Yet upon his death, the misunderstanding between Melanie and the homeopathic community escalated. On July 11, 1843, he was buried in Montmartre cemetery. A small entourage accompanied him down the streets of Paris to the cemetery. Hahnemann was placed in her family plot. Already buried there were her adoptive father, Lethiere, and Gohier. The lack of public announcement of his burial became a sore point for the homeopathic community, and turned many against the grieving widow. It was felt that Hahnemann had been deprived of the veneration and tribute that he deserved.
In 1840, the Allentown Homeopathic Academy in Philadelphia, founded by Hering, had sent Melanie a diploma which Hahnemann had requested for her when he was alive. The diploma would make her the first woman with a license to practice medicine from an American medical school. This American degree was later disputed as the school had delayed sending the diploma until after its closure due to financial problems. Still, the accomplishment of being recognized as a woman with medical doctor status at this time was extraordinary. To wit: Florence Nightingale had just been born, and the age of emancipation of woman had not yet even begun. It was not until a generation later, in 1862, that a French woman was to have received a medical degree.
After Hahnemann s death, Melanie continued practicing as a homeopath. Less than a year after his death, her credibility as a practitioner was disputed. Claiming that women should not practice medicine, the editor of "Alleg. Hom. Ztg." (1844) asks, "Shall we desecrate homeopathy to which Hahnemann had devoted the greater portion of his life, in this manner?" He goes on to state that now that Hahnemann has died, he may be seeing "more clearly" and may not be pleased with the "daring undertaking of his wife." In 1846, action was brought against her for "practicing medicine with the assumption of a doctor s title without having a diploma or certificate valid in France. And ...for having sold medicinal preparations and remedies without lawful authority" (Haele 1:347). To make things worse, many testimonials were presented from patients; she was fined and told to discontinue practice, which she disobeyed.
Many well-known homeopaths of the time, including Bönninghausen and Jahr, were not licensed doctors. Bönninghausen was a botanist and Jahr was a priest. That they had no credentials to practice medicine was not questioned. The laws that could be bent for Bönninghausen, Jahr and others, were still too rigid to allow a woman to practice medicine, even the "chosen disciple" of the founder himself. She had taken a step too far for a woman in the 19th century. Neither was Melanie respected by the French homeopathic community. In fact, she wasn t even considered a colleague of the Association of French Homeopathic Physicians, and was asked not to attend their meetings. After it was announced that Madame Hahnemann planned to attend a homeopathic congress in Brussels in 1856, the Central Homeopathic Commission in Paris created and published a policy in their journal, mentioning her by name, and stating that one could only be a member of their society if they had a diploma from a recognized University. Count Edmund de la Pommeraid, a member of Gallic Homeopathic Society, wrote in her defense: "By replying to the impertinent article addressed to a woman of the highest repute, I think that I am honoring the memory of one to whom we owe what we are and what we know. Do we not actually owe to the unexampled devotion of this remarkable woman the whole reputation which the Founder had spread from Paris? Is it not she who took him away from the persecutions to which all intellectual men are submitted in their own country? Did she not procure for him that comfortable, peaceful and honorable life which he utilized so well by putting the finishing touches to that great work of reform, which today we allow humanity to enjoy? Has she not also shared his work, received his instructions and thus become equal in knowledge with most of us, if not superior to us? Therefore the dying master said, I have long sought for a man and have found him in my wife" (Haehl 2:452).
Madame Hahnemann responded to the Commission angrily.
"What should I do there, I, one of Hahnemann s pupils whom he endeavored to teach with so much zeal, because I understood his doctrines so well, I, whose works he constantly appreciated and praised, and showed them to his followers saying, I have sought a man for fifty years and have only just found him in a woman.
She goes on to protest their lack of recognition of her educational certification. "If his wife had been so incapable medically, would Hahnemann himself have introduced to her his doctrines, of which he was so jealous? ...He would certainly not have trusted her with the execution of his medical legacy, to which he justly attached so much importance. You therefore offend him, that great man, your master, without whom your society would not exist... Whilst you accuse him and try to take away the merits in my diploma, you are contradicting each other; because whilst you are examining with police-like accuracy the diplomas of your Congress, you seem to forget that the learned and famous doctor whom you will probably elect as Chairman of the Congress (Bönninghausen) is a physician by virtue of a similar document which he has obtained in a similar way to mine!" (Haehl 2:453)
Melanie accomplished a great deal towards obtaining legal status for the practice of homeopathy, first for Hahnemann, and later for von Bönninghausen and others, though her own legal status was denied. She took the first step setting the groundwork for women in the 20th century. In 1857, Melanie arranged a marriage between her adopted daughter Sophie and Karl von Bönninghausen, who came to live in Paris. Arranged marriages were common at this time. Through Melanie s political influence, her son-in-law, who was a physician, was allowed to practice legally in France. Melanie now practiced freely under his license, and she enjoyed some respite from the attacks against her legal stature as a practitioner. In 1872, a few years before her death, a document from the ministerial Office of Public Instruction a Versailles states that Melanie Hahnemann has been granted a license to practice medicine in the Seine department (county). Melanie had practiced until 1867, but by 1869 she had mostly stopped, before the final legality of her practice was ever recognized. She was forced to sell her home, and to sell some of her pictures, as the Franco-Prussian War had stripped her of her property.
6th edition of the organon
Hahnemann had been working on the 6th edition of the Organon during the last 18 months of his life. He began using the LM potencies during those Paris years, and had written to Bönninghausen about this new method of dynamizing remedies. He died before this work was published and left specific instructions with Melanie about this. He asked her to wait until the time was right, and for her to oversee the publication personally. Many homeopaths were interested in the "new and improved mode of dynamizing the medicinal remedies" that Hahnemann had written to Bönninghausen about, and were anxious for Melanie to publish the 6th edition. (Allg. Hom. 1856 53:457)
Melanie was protective and insisted on doing the copying herself, as Hahnemann had requested, because "nobody knew the new terms last employed by Hahnemann for the process of dynamisation, " (Haele 2:457).
The rancor towards her from the homeopathic community was growing because of this delay. It was assumed that her motives for the delay were greed and egotism, and that she was intentionally denying access for her own financial benefit. Some thought she was holding on to the changes in the Organon to increase its value, thereby increasing financial value to herself. It was felt that she was withholding an important source for the growth and development of the homeopathic community.
Typical of those harboring this sentiment was Haele, who in 1922 wrote: "Now even if we take in to full consideration Hahnemann s intensely hostile disposition towards a number of German homeopaths (Trinks, Griesselich, etc.), and the grave mistrust arising out of this, yet the embargo imposed by Madame Hahnemann seems to border very closely on the delusion of persecution. We cannot believe the assertion that Hahnemann had arranged all this because he had discovered and feared that his teaching would disappear among the old allopathic methods without leaving any trace" (Haele v1 352). In 1877, Dr. Bayes, of London, on behalf of London School of Homeopathy, cites the jealousy and persecution of the part of Hahnemann s followers as the reason that these writings had not yet been published. "[Melanie] asserted that her husband had repeatedly required of her a solemn oath that all copies of his works should be made under her supervision, so that no malicious and deceptive alterations of the text, could take place. As to the publication of the works she was to wait until the rancor of his contemporaries had subsided." (Haehl 1:352) In 1877, she wrote to Dr. Bayes, assuring him that the manuscripts "have been preserved by me as precious treasure."
She then explains, "Hahnemann was pursued during the whole of his long life by the jealousy of his pupils. Some became his declared and personal enemies and have even persecuted him through newspapers, which were established for the purpose of destroying his new doctrine, for instance, Griesselich" (Haehl 2:458).
"In order to save it from destruction ...he charged me with the duty of having copies of this valuable manuscript made under my own supervision ...repeatedly demanded a solemn oath, which I shall keep, to have all copies of his works made under my supervision so that no bad and false alterations in the text should be possible. As he advised me to wait for the publication until the anger of his contemporaries had subsided. I waited in accordance with this order, and then when I was beginning with this great work, suddenly the war of 1871 came, which by destroying my property, robbed me of my capital" (Haele 2:455). She asked that money be raised, so she could obtain "the necessary peace for this great work" while she renounced the profits from the sale of the book, (Haehl 2:455).
It can be seen from these quotes that her intent was not financial gain, as was alleged, but was to fulfill her promise to her husband and to the work, of which she had been made custodian. Melanie spoke of her "most hearty desire to publish the Organon, which contains so many treasures for humanity" and was arranging to do this work, when her death broke off negotiations. (Haele 1:352-353)
Last years and burial
Madame Melanie Hahnemann died on May 27, 1878, at the age of 78. The cause of death was pulmonary catarrh, from which she had suffered for several years. She was laid to rest in Montmartre cemetery, to the left of Hahnemann. Dr. Campbell intended to visit Melanie to further the work of publication of the 6th Edition, but arrived after her death. He painted a vivid picture of her last days and of the room the recently deceased Madame Hahnemann had worked in and in which she died. The table at which she had sat contained, along with portraits of Hahnemann and the bust of him, Hahnemann s pocket handkerchief, his collar and neckerchief. This was 35 years after his passing. Though it had been Hahnemann s desire that they be united, "bones to bones, and ashes to ashes, Melanie was buried in a plot next to Hahnemann in Montmartre Cemetery. Her daughter had her tomb inscribed,
"Maman, Amour Toujours." (Mother, love always). Many thought she and Hahnemann were buried together in this tomb; some even mistook her grave for his.
But by 1896, back pay was owed to the city of Paris for the upkeep of the gravesite of Hahnemann. The persons responsible for this debt could not be found by the French authorities. Without payment, the grave was to be dug up. Dr. Platt, a lecturer at Hahnemann college visiting Paris at the time, suggested to his colleagues in Philadelphia that they assist. After payment of the debt, Hahnemann s grave was registered as the property of Hahnemann College in Philadelphia.
At a meeting of the International Congress of Homeopathic Physicians in London in 1896, the attending doctors discussed providing a monument for Hahnemann s grave site, but the plot at Montmartre was not suitable, so it was suggested that his remains be moved to Père Lachaise, a park-like and illustrious cemetery in Paris. It took 2 years for the arrangements to be complete.
Opening the grave
On May 24, 1898, Samuel Hahnemann was exhumed and transferred to Père Lachaise. A report was printed in the "Society Homeopathists Francaise."
"Wrapped in silk and linen, the long tresses of woman s hair were entwined around his neck. His wedding ring was removed for further identification. The inscription read, Samuel Hahnemann, Melanie d Hervilly, united at Kothen, January 18, 1835. At his feet there was a glass bottle which contained the embalming report, a gold medallion made by David von Angers, showing Hahnemann s profile on one side, and the inscription of the other that read, a leur maitre, les homeopathists francais. Similia similibus curentur (To their master, from the French homeopaths.)
Also at his feet, there was a bottle containing a manuscript written by Melanie.
Hahnemann s grave was not sealed. It had been his request that he and Melanie be buried in the same grave. Melanie was criticized once again for failing to seal his coffin, when she was in fact obeying the last requests of her husband, a request safeguarded to her in his will. Their wishes to be buried together remain unheeded to this day (Haele 1:360).
"The coffins of Hahnemann and his widow were laid on a hearse, and 10 persons accompanied them to Peré Lachaise cemetery. Hahnemann was placed with his head to the right, and his widow s remains were placed at his feet" (Haele 1:360). On July 21, 1900, a monument was erected by the International Homeopathic Congress, with great ceremony. The Scottish red-granite monument displays a bust of Hahnemann, a facsimile of that by the sculptor, David. The cost of the monument was 20,000 francs.
Nowhere on the new grave site is there mention of the presence of Melanie Hahnemann. With the expense and ceremony taken to immortalize Hahnemann, she was neglected, not even her name marked.
One of the few comments published in her favor was in the editor s preface to Haele s biography, English edition in 1922. John Henry Clarke and Francis James Wheeler write:
"We feel that he (Haele) hardly realizes the importance of the Paris episode in the spread of homeopathy. Germany had hampered one of the greatest of her sons in every possible way, had driven him from one city and one kingdom to another, and had at last buried him in a sort of hermitage in the small duchy of Anhalt Kothen. From this obscure retreat he was brought into the very center of European life and intellect, allowed to practice without any of the absurd regulations of which the German countries seemed so fond, he was brought into immediate contact with disciples, not only in France, but from all European countries, England and America.
With all her faults and peculiarities, Madame Melanie Hahnemann s action had this effect; and even the impossible price she put on Hahnemann s literary remains had this good result -it preserved them all intact until the one man in all the world who ever could make proper use of them arrived- Dr. Richard Haele himself! ...Therefore we think that Madame Melanie Hahnemann has a not unworthy place in the history of Hahnemann and his homeopathy and that Paris, which gave him hospitality, freedom and scope, has a very good right to his bones."
History has long overlooked her contribution to homeopathy. Her influence on Hahnemann s work is barely noted. Where would homeopathy have ended up without her uncommon devotion? Who knows what degree her inspiration was to have on the growth and furtherance of homeopathy? Would it have ever grown to the degree of international recognition or even to the degree of scientific achievement that his years in Paris inspired? We cannot know. We can, however, look at the value of a life spent in practicing, preserving, guarding, treasuring, and nurturing this art. Her place in eternity has been reserved by Hahnemann.
Melanie s diary entries at the time of Hahnemann s death:
"Two days before leaving me he said to me: I have chosen you among all my disciples and I leave you my scientific heritage which is of such importance to humanity. Continue to work as we have done for such a long time, carry on my mission; you know homeopathy and you know how to cure as well as I do. I replied: but I am a woman, my body has grown tired, my hair has become white under the strain of this difficult work, I have well earned a little rest. Rest! said Hahnemann, and raised himself up in his bed, Have I ever rested? Forward, ever forward, against the wind, struggle against the strain, always cure and everywhere, and by constantly curing you will compel justice to be done to you; call faithful disciples to your side, teach them all that I could not tell them, what you alone now know; hand on my tradition, and when your hour to leave this earth has arrived, come and join me where I shall await you. Your body will be put in the same coffin as mine, not beside mine, but inside, and they will write on our tomb
"Heic nostro cineri cinis ossibus osa sepulrco, Miscentur vivos ut sociavit amor."
(As love united us in life, so does the tomb. Ashes to ashes and bones to bones.)
I promised all he wanted, then he added: God will recompense you, and five minutes before he departed, he said to me full of tenderness: You will be mine in eternity. These were his last words." (Haele 2:325)
Haehl, Richard, Samuel Hahnemann. His Life and Work 1992 Jain Pub. 1992
Handley, Rima. Homeopathic Love Story, 1990, North Atlantic Books 1990
Melanie Kornfeld Grimes, RSHom(NA) lives in Seattle where she has been re-reading the Organon since 1972.
ain our