The history of homeopathy in the Russian Empire
until World War I, as compared with other European countries and the USA: similarities and
by Alexander Kotok, M.D.
On-line version of the Ph.D. thesis improved and enlarged
due to a special grant of the Pierre Schmidt foundation.
Homeopathic facilities: Societies, Hospitals, Pharmacies, Periodicals
The only parameters enabling a quantitative comparison of the development of homeopathy in
different countries, is the number of homeopathic facilities, like societies, hospitals, pharmacies
and periodicals. The number of doctors who practiced homeopathy is obviously relevant as well.
Homeopathic societies played an especially important role in moving homeopathy to become
distinguished from regular medical practice and its further professionalisation. The growing
hostility of allopathic practitioners who refused homeopaths the right of being members of the
physicians' societies on the one hand, and the need to distinguish themselves from unskilled
healers and non medically qualified practitioners on the other hand, led homeopaths to create their
own societies. Unfortunately, the theme of the comparative history of homeopathic societies may be
treated only within certain limitations. The detailed history of homeopathic societies worldwide
waits still for its future researchers, whilst the history of the French societies is almost
"tabula rasa". Nevertheless, while aiming at a comparison made along general, major
lines, I believe that this inquiry could be done, based on the data already researched and
As in other countries chosen for comparison, Russian homeopaths had to turn to laypeople to be
supported financially and morally. I demonstrate this phenomenon partially, while describing the
Russia-wide involvement of the Orthodox clergy in the homeopathic activity. The small number of
homeopathic doctors in the Russian Empire did not allow Russian homeopaths to establish
"pure" societies, comprised of physicians exclusively, both on organizational and
financial grounds. The attempt at creating such a society "for doctors only" in St.
Petersburg, led to the isolation of St. Petersburgian doctors-homeopaths from lay supporters, who
was not won over, at least on organizational ground, until WWI, and this led to the establishment
of the main Russian homeopathic society by the St. Petersburgian lay adherents of homeopathy. Thus,
laymen were playing the key role in the Russian homeopathic societies during the period under
study. In this chapter I shall try to analyze in detail the development of Russian homeopathic
societies, focusing on their social structure and activities. As far as possible, the Russian
homeopathic societies will be compared with their foreign counterparts.
2.2.1 The St. Petersburg Society of Homeopathic Physicians - from the establishment to the
Before I start analyzing the 10-years long history of the first Russian homeopathic society, the
St. Petersburg Society of Homeopathic Physicians, from its establishment in 1870 and until its
division in 1880, we should note that at the time of the founding of the society, Russia had
already numerous physicians' societies. The first Russian society concerned with medical issues
had been established in 1804, at the Moscow State University. This was the Physical-Medical
Society. A society of physicians was founded in Vilna in 1805. Those societies were mostly composed
of physicians of non-Russian (mainly of German and Baltic) origin. The first society where the
number of native Russian physicians represented an overwhelming part of its members, was
established in 1833, in St. Petersburg. In 1840 in Kiev and in 1849 in Odessa, societies of
physicians were also created. Apart from this, there were the societies of German physicians in St.
Petersburg, Moscow and Riga. As far as I can judge, there are meager sources dealing with the
activities of those societies. In fact, they existed mainly on paper and did not leave either
reports or periodicals, except 1-2 starting issues1. Significant changes took place only in the second part of the
The rapid growth of the medical press and proliferation of medical societies in
the Reform Era stimulated professional consciousness. The sheer quantity of such activity is
impressive: between 1858 and 1864 twenty-five societies incorporated, compared to eight societies
in the preceding half-century, twenty-three new periodicals appeared between 1856 and 1865 compared
to fourteen between 1792 and 18552.
It is not my aim to analyze all the reasons that led to this rapid development at that period.
Together with a general enlivening of Russian society at the beginning of the rule of Alexander II, it was in 1849, that the conclusions of the Committee appointed in 1841
by the Minister of Education Sergei Uvarov (1776—1855) and headed by Nicholas Pirogov, were submitted to the government and adopted as a law later on. The
committee was concerned with the catastrophic situation of physicians in the Russian Empire and
proposed different measures meant to increase the number of physicians and to improve their
financial and social status. This was the policy of Minister Uvarov himself, who intended to
attract many of the young nobility to the medical faculties, which was extremely important and
played its role3.
In 1858, Russian homeopaths attempted for the first time to establish their own society, whilst
the initiator of its establishment was Vasily Deriker
(1816—1878)4. He was supported by the owner of the homeopathic pharmacy in St.
Petersburg, Fedor Flemming (1812—1894). Here we can rely exclusively
upon the narrative given by Carl
Bojanus in his "Gomeopatiia v Rossii", as I have not been able to find any other
materials related to this subject. According to Bojanus, Vasily Deriker, when he "was working
in the homeopathic direction", i.e., was dealing with editing and issuing homeopathic
[...] Became convinced that homeopathy in Russia would stay on hard soil only when
its therapeutic experiences will be open to the public and will provide a full possibility of
following, examining and concluding [...] on the one hand, as well as when, on the other hand, the
number of homeopathic doctors will rise [...]5.
Deriker emphasized the importance of opening a homeopathic hospital:
It goes without saying that the establishment of such a hospital, in the absence
of State support, might have been possible only if based upon the joint efforts of all the
adherents of homeopathic medicine. [This was the source] of Deriker's idea of the founding a
homeopathic society, which would also issue its own periodical. In order to ensure financial
support, Deriker planned to allow lay people to become honorary members of the society6.
Nevertheless, the new Minister of Interior, Sergey Lanskoy (1787—1862), who had replaced
his pro-homeopathic predecessor Count Perovsky, together with the Director of the Medical
Department at the Ministry of Interior Otsolikh refused the petition signed by 50 persons calling
for opening a homeopathic society, announcing that:
The homeopathic method of treatment is only permissible, but has not yet been
investigated; a special scientific society has no right to admit lay persons [as members].
Therefore, the Minister is considering that those physicians who signed the petition should prove
the advantage of homeopathic treatment as compared to the commonly used [i.e., allopathic] one.
This proof may be reached by discussions, according to a special program, of homeopathic physicians
with the members of a committee, which would be appointed by the Medical Council7.
Bojanus called this proposal a "Pharisaic trick":
There was no mention of experiment, the only possible way enabling the examination
of the homeopathic method, but they spoke exclusively of discussions, according to some program,
which would be obviously prepared without participation of homeopaths. Naturally, homeopaths paid
no attention to this reckless proposal. Nevertheless, because those physicians residing in St.
Petersburg felt a need to be in direct contact with each other, they began to meet in the house of
Flemming, while patients were received in his pharmacy. Thus, in such a non-official and indirect
way, the society of homeopathic physicians made its first steps8.
The future events confirmed that homeopaths were right when they decided not be involved in
fruitless discussions. Four years later a "discussion" with Profs. Kozlov and Zdekauer,
which was analyzed in the chapter "Allopathy vs. Homeopathy", demonstrated that allopaths
of higher ranks had no serious intention to examine homeopathy practically, nor to discuss it with
The next attempt of creating a society was made in 1868, when the situation had obviously
changed to the advantage of homeopaths. Together with above mentioned factors of all-Russian
significance, homeopaths were experiencing in the 1860s some additional reasons which encouraged
them to try again. First of all, although the issuing of "Vestnik gomeopaticheskogo
lecheniia" under Vasily Deriker and Dr. Bogdan Herring
(1812—1888) failed after 3 years of publication, the periodical did play its role in unifying
Russian homeopaths. The post of Minister of Interior, passed in 1868 to General Alexander Timashev
(1818—1893), who "being one of the adherents of the new medicine did not recognize any
other method of treatment but the homeopathic one only"9. Timashev held the post of Minister of
Interior until 1878. As to the post of Director of the Medical Department at the Ministry of
Interior, this important post for homeopaths was in the hands of Dr. Evgeny Pelikan
(1824—1884), who, according to Bojanus, was
[...] An impartial and independent person [...], who, although not being
Hahnemann's follower, was strange to any biases against the [homeopathic] doctrine [...]; the
problem of homeopathy he treated with the tolerance of a man of true education and science. He
considered any obstacles to a free development of the scientific thought, to be harmful10.
Bojanus failed to evaluate this "impartial and independent" person right. A year after
the publication of Bojanus' book, Dr. Pelikan, being the President of the Medical Council,
signed the "Decision" in which Dr. Vladimir von Ditman, who had proposed to treat
diphtheria with homeopathically prepared Mercurius cyanatus, was stigmatized as an
ignoramus, whilst his proposal was considered as "not deserving any attention"11. One should not
forget that Dr. Pelikan was an assistant of Dr. Mandt in the Exemplary hospital (which will be
further discussed in the section devoted to homeopathic
hospitals) in 1853—1856; Dr. Yacov Chistovich (1820—1885)
could be right while supposing that
[E. V. Pelikan] was invited to be an assistant of Mandt with a fine salary and the
full right of idleness, in order to get the permission of his father, V. V. Pelikan, Director of
the Medical Department, to open a hospital12.
In any case, E. Pelikan may have had some homeopathic or partial homeopathic educational
background. Even if he was not "an impartial and independent" person, as Bojanus tried to
represent him, he could not reject the petition without being reminded about his own past and
accused of certain dishonesty. This may be a possible reason for his speaking of the
"tolerance of a man of true education and science".
The petition and the project of regulations of a new society submitted by homeopaths headed by
V. Deriker in 1868, were approved by Timashev on July 17th , of the same year. The
"Regulations" of the newly formed society included the following 20 paragraphs:
§1. The meetings of the members of the society take place at an appointed time.
Their goals are the following: 1. An enriching of homeopathy with different information by bringing
observations from private practice and delivering articles written by the members 2. Working out
the rules of the homeopathic method of treatment, examining its laws, investigating the
physiological and therapeutical effect of the medicines 3. Establishment of a library and different
collections related to homeopathy 4. Preparation of the most interesting protocols of the meetings
and the publication of articles submitted by the members.
§2. The society is to be composed of full and honorary members as well as of
corresponding members, without any limitation in number.
§3. Every physician, pharmacist or veterinary, residing in St. Petersburg or its
suburbs, may be chosen to be a full member.
§4. Persons famous for their services to homeopathy may be granted the title of
§5. A person wishing to be admitted as a member of the society, should be proposed
by one of the members and be chosen by balloting, by the majority.
§6. All the affairs of the society are being decided by the majority of the votes.
When there is equality of the votes, the side to which the president belongs, gets the
§7. The affairs of the society are managed by:
a.) The President. He opens and closes the meetings, keeps order, proposes
subjects to be deliberated and discussed;
b.) The Secretary. He manages the record-keeping of the Society;
c.) The Cashier, also fulfilling the duties of a librarian, manages the financial
section of the Society and the library.
§8. All these persons are chosen by the majority for one year and may be
re-elected. They present reports yearly, each one on his section.
§9. In the absence of the President, his duties are fulfilled by one of the
members chosen by the Society.
§10. The meetings of the Society take place from September 15th of the
one year until May 15th of the next year, every month or more often, depending on the
number of meetings.
§11. At the opening of the meeting:
- 1. The Secretary reads a protocol of the previous meeting;
- 2. The affairs of the Society are discussed, the elections and balloting are carried out;
- 3. The homeopathic articles are read and discussed;
- 4. The notable cases from practice are then reported; different problems, particularly from the
field of homeopathy and other medical sciences are discussed.
§12. Discussions that do not fit the goals of the Society are not allowed by the
§13. Until the appropriate office will be found, the Society will have its
meetings at homes of the members, in turn.
§14. The fund of the Society is comprised of annual fees paid by the members and
from voluntary donations.
§15. The library of the Society is comprised of writings relevant to homeopathy.
Additionally, collections of medical instruments and pathological preparations will be
§16. The full and honorary members of the Society [...] vote on all the affairs
rose for discussion. They may use the books and instruments which are at the disposal of the
Remark 1: The right of voting may be transferred from one member to
another; the latter has to inform the Secretary before all the votes are counted, in order to
insert [this fact] into the protocol.
Remark 2: Those members who do not attend the meetings and do not exercise
the right of voting, are considered as being in agreement with the decisions which were taken at
§17. The corresponding members may attend meetings but without having the right to
§18. Every full member of the Society deposits a certain sum of money at the
beginning of the year. The size of this sum is set up by vote.
§19. In case the Society ceases to exist, it retains the right to decide about
disposition of its property.
§20. If any of the Regulations are deemed unsatisfactory, the Society may invite
additions or can change them13.
Indeed, already at the first meeting of the Society held on October 10, 1869, it turned out
(exactly according to §20 of the "Regulations"!) that "the Regulations are
unsatisfactory" and the Society should "invite additions". An interesting
explanation to this was made three years later:
The Society was then composed of 59 members, 10 full members and 14 honorary
members participated [in the first meeting]. It was proposed to issue a journal, but they found no
money. Thus, it was decided to open admissions to the Society for the public with the right to
participate in the Society's activities without any limitations. [As this stipulation required
changing the Regulations], it was decided to apply for a change in the Regulations, as the
Regulations approved on July 18, 1868, blocked open admission. It was also decided to start with a
collection of money in order to open a dispensary14.
So, purely utilitarian purposes caused the changing of the "Regulations". The new
"Regulations" were approved on January 3, 1870, by the Minister of Interior. As I have
cited all of the previous "Regulations" of 1868, I find it unnecessary to also cite the
complete "Regulations" of 1870, but will only record the main parts which were not
already part of the Regulations of 1868. First of all, §2 of the new "Regulations"
declares the intention of establishing
[...] A dispensary for a time, and later a hospital, as the only true means for
obtaining facts available for scientific control and public opinion [and in order] to provide data
to those seeking a possibility to be convinced clearly of the efficacy of homeopathic treatment.
[They could] examine [...] the facts which would lead in due course to full recognition of
The "improved" §5 (instead of §3 in the previous Regulations) abolished any
geographical restriction for full members. The most important change was §4 which stated that
"the Society is composed of full and honorary members and supported by "incomplete
members [chleny-sorevnovateli] without limitation of their number". According to §6 of
the new Regulations, the following may be recognized as an honorary member: a. "a specialist
having especial scientific merits; b. persons who are ready to patronize the Society; c. persons
rendering considerable services to homeopathy by their moral support or by significant donations to
the Society". As to "incomplete members", §7 clarifies that every one who pays a
year in advance (§9) an annual fee of no less than 5 rubles (§12) can be a member of an
"incomplete" kind. It is explained in the remark given in §7 that women may be
"incomplete" members too.
The core of the future conflict which led several years later to the division of the Society,
was laid in the chapters "Meetings" (Sobraniia) and "Managing and
Book-Keeping" (Upravlenie i otchiotnost') of the Regulations. So, according to §14
the Society had two kinds of meetings: special meetings in which only the full members
participated, and common meetings in which also "incomplete" and honorary members
participated with an equal right of voting. §18 explains that "the special meetings are
devoted to a scientific investigation of homeopathy. [The meetings] represents the Board of the
Society in all the affairs of the latter". Probably, the latter sentence, which cannot be
understood with certainty, means that only the special meetings have the right of decision on the
most important problems. §22 states that for these affairs President, Secretary and Cashier are in
charge, whilst they are being elected exclusively by full members and from among them. Although §31
allows two honorary or "incomplete" members to being members of the Committee chosen to
manage an out-patient clinic or hospital together with two Committee's members who are full
members of the Society, §32 makes it immediately clear that even when these two "non-full
members" are invited to be present at the meetings of full members, they have right of speech
exclusively on matters related to the activity of the Committee16.
Probably, the full members of the Society viewed these new Regulations as being of great
importance, as on March 10, 1870 the first President of the Society Dr. Carl
Hempel (1832—1882) and the Secretary Vasily Deriker issued a special "information
notice" in which they notified the public that
There are no obstacles any more. The St. Petersburg Society, in its new
Regulations, has the right to invite all those wishing to join, without restrictions and without
difference in gender. Every one can make his/her contribution to support an out-patient clinic and
contribute to the establishment [...] of a hospital which will lead to the recognition of
homeopathy at the [medical] faculties and to the establishment of a chair of homeopathy [...] The
success will depend now exclusively upon the sympathy of the adherents of homeopathy, who are being
invited, according to the decision of the common meeting held on February 26, to join the Society
in the capacity of honorary or 'incomplete' members17.
Thus, the only real members of the Society were full members, while honorary and
"incomplete" members were meant to provide a financial basis for the Society. In return
for that, they had the right of voting on auxiliary matters. According to §1 of both versions of
the Regulations, the only aims of the establishment of the Society were scientific ones. Because
only full members had the right to discuss and vote at their meetings on scientific matters, one
may conclude that, in fact, the Society was founded for physicians and their own purposes; other
members of the Society were simple supporters with no part in the true aims of the
The following several years seem to have been quiet but difficult ones for the Society on all
the evidence I was able to find. Although there was a gradual numerical increase of the members of
the Society, according to the protocols of the meetings, it was evident that the financial affairs
of the Society were far from being good. Before I start speaking of these financial difficulties
which were experienced by the Society, I have to offer some statistics concerning the number of the
members of the Society.
By the 3rd Meeting (held on October 10, 1870) there were 128 members
registered: 15 full St. Petersburgian members, 18 full members of other towns, 10 full members from
abroad and 85 honorary members-philanthropists18.
By the 5th Meeting (held on October 28, 1871) 141 members were counted in the
Society; the increase from the previous year was due to the category of "incomplete"
members: now there were 47 honorary and 51 "incomplete" members19.
By the 7th Meeting (held on December 19, 1872) there were 184 members: 15 full
St. Petersburg members, 20 full members of other towns, 11 honorary members 'medics'
[mediki] from abroad (this sentence is not clear; probably, they meant doctors and
pharmacists?), 60 honorary members-philanthropists and 78 "incomplete" members20. Since 1872, the
Society published only annual reports. One may guess that the meetings, most probably, were
discontinued. The "Zhurnal St. Peterburgskogo Obshchestva vrachei-gomeopatov" (see below)
was issued until 1876. In the middle of 1873, the Society counted 206 members21. In 1874 there were 214
October 1875, there were 218 members23. Thus, the number of the members grew modestly enough from 59 in 1868, to
218 in 1875, whilst there was no significant increase during the last three years.
Other activities of the Society are also of importance. According to what had been planned in
the "Regulations" of the Society of 1870, a dispensary was indeed opened. This happened
on July 26, 1870. Analyzing the "Regulations of the Homeopathic Dispensary", one may
conclude that homeopaths undertook an expensive affair. Although all the physicians, three or four
by number, full members of the Society, were working at the clinic without any reward (§3), the
rent of the premises in the center of the city (§1), a free-of-charge reception of the poor
patients and also free-of-charge providing them with medicines (§4), hiring a feldsher and other
officials (§11) — all these items were doubtless significantly expensive24.
Bojanus organized the statistics provided in the reports on the activity of the dispensary
during a 10-year period. I briefly summarize this table: 17,093 patients were received, while 7,218
of them recovered, 2,878 patients improved, 29 patients died and regarding 8,172 patients no data
were provided or they came back to get treatment25.
As Bojanus did not mention how many of the patients were poor sick who received free treatment,
I had to re-check the reports. According to a report presented at the 5th common meeting
in October 1871, 1831 patients visited the clinic 4542 times during a period of 14 months, of which
364 visits were not paying26. The report of the Society for 1872—73 (from October 1872, to
October 1873) provides the following figures: 2,112 patients made 5,560 visits, while 133 patients
who got treatment free of charge, made 620 visits27. 1873—74: 2,430 patients, 6,755 visits, 864
free-of-charge28. 1874—75: 2,396 patients, 5,764 visits, 434 visits -
free-of-charge29. Thus, the rate of charitable health care was about 7-8% average.
Besides managing the organization itself and the dispensary, the Society at its 4th
Meeting (held April 30, 1871) decided to renew the publication of its own periodical. Bojanus
comments on this decision:
After having discussed the topic seriously, [the members of the meeting] concluded
that even by the terms of attracting a maximal possible number of subscribers [...], one could
hardly expect to cover the costs of issuing it, and, even in the best case, a deficit of 500 rubles
is unavoidable. Like 8 years ago, this obstacle was removed by F. Flemming, who proposed accepting
on himself the management of the financial affairs of the periodical and its sale, with the society
granting a budget of 800 rubles to be paid for editing [...]. In exchange Flemming requested a
right of property for all the exemplars printed. [...] After hearing this proposal and taking it
into account, it was decided [by the members of the meeting] to start issuing the periodical, with
provision that a deficit of 500 rubles yearly will be covered from the cash of the Society. Deriker
was elected to be the editor30.
It is not clear from Bojanus' explanation why the Society decided to cover the 500 rubles
deficit from the cash of the Society "after hearing the proposal". One may get the
impression that Flemming's proposal was rejected, when in reality it was the opposite.
Unfortunately, one can sometimes feel that Russian is not the native language of Bojanus. Most
probably, he tried to say that these 500 rubles taken "from the cash of the Society"
represented a part of the 800 rubles proposed by Flemming.
The above mentioned monthly periodical, entitled "Zhurnal Sankt-Peterburgskogo Obshchestva
vrachei-gomeopatov", began its career in 1872. Only 4 years later it discontinued. I believe
that one could have foreseen such a development after having read the editorial in No. 11 of
"Zhurnal" (1872). Deriker and his colleagues repeated the same mistake which had earlier
caused the failure of "Zhurnal gomeopaticheskogo lecheniia"!31 Although Deriker in his editorial
pointed out that it was the scientific character of the journal which led the public to be
dissatisfied with an earlier discontinued periodical, he probably supposed that now, when a new
"scientific society" had been established, he could ultimately bring about his idea of
issuing a scientific journal, "for physicians only".
[...] Only in this way will it be possible to strengthen the position of
homeopathy in Russia and to attract to it new manpower, i.e., homeopathic physicians, whose absence
is a matter of complaint Russia-wide. Only in this way can homeopathy in our country, like it has
happened in other countries, be transformed from domestic help into a true medical science [...].
The subscribers would make a mistake by requiring only the satisfaction of their own needs or
providing them with a light reading. Our periodical needs such subscribers who wish success to our
venture and who are ready to collaborate for the sake of our future benefit, although the material
they receive for their money may be considered by them as not completely satisfactory...32
Thus, the journal, like the legislative building of the Society, was meant to serve only
physicians and their "scientific" interests. The seeds of the future failure were sown.
1876 was the last year when the journal was issued. However, even 6 years later, in 1882, Bojanus
did not acknowledge that the cause of the failure was in the wrong approach. He believed that
[...] The journal ceased for the same reason as [it had ceased] in the 1860s,
i.e., because of the small number of subscribers, who would have been scientifically
prepared to read the journal. The editorial staff had received from subscribers many demands of
the kind which cannot be satisfied33.
Nevertheless, the main failure of the Society was connected neither with the journal, nor with
the expensive dispensary. The unity within the Society was ruined once and forever by the issue of
the founding of a hospital. From the very beginning Deriker regarded the possible opening of a
hospital as a matter of highest importance:
One will achieve this [the proof of the superiority of homeopathy] only when a
separate, independent clinical homeopathic hospital will exist. In Deriker's opinion, all the
efforts of the establishment of homeopathic departments, like, for example, at the Toulchin and St.
Petersburg military hospitals, as well as at the St. Petersburg Hospital for non-qualified workers,
could bring no success, because homeopaths were working in a closed space, not open to a wide
public, space, whilst it was allopaths who judged the treatment of homeopaths. No data regarding
the results were available to the press [...]. Thus, homeopaths should have their own hospitals,
where allopaths could observe exclusively, without the right of getting involved into the treatment
or directing practice34.
Although at that period V. Deriker and F. Flemming constantly rejected the idea of the
establishment of an expensive homeopathic hospital, the majority of the members forced the Society
to undertake this adventurous step35. A small hospital of only 10 beds was opened on September 14, 1873. The
following payments were set: 40 rubles monthly for a bed in the common room, 75 rubles for a bed in
the room for two persons, 120 rubles for a bed in the single-bed room. Bojanus remarks:
Because of the very high cost of hospitalization and of the small number of beds,
the hospital was available for only a few people [...]. The hospital had no firm financial basis
and this led to constant fear for its future. Lacking financial support, already in the first
half-year the hospital had had a deficit, which since then had been growing. It was easy to foresee
how this adventure of the fervent adherents of homeopathy would end. Indeed, three years later
after having been opened, the hospital was closed, while depleting the resources of the
As to the statistics, 129 patients were received. 106 of them recovered, 11 improved and 12
Thus, two of three initiatives of the Society proved to be unsuccessful. Generally speaking, the
main purpose of the Society, i.e., to become a center dedicated to attract Russian physicians to
homeopathy, which could partially justify an obvious discrimination against non-specialists by the
Regulations, was not reached during the first 10 years of the existence of the Society. There were
no reasons for great optimism and enthusiasm in 1877, when both the hospital and the periodical
The activity of Petersburg homeopathic physicians concentrated mainly on private
practice and on the dispensary to which people were coming. Unfortunately, we have to recognize
that because of some misunderstandings, one can mention a lack of concord in the affairs of the
Society. The unanimity which had united the members of the Society during its early period,
disappeared. Some people became dissatisfied with 'something' or 'by somebody',
which resulted in discords and disagreements. As the most sad addition to all that, the Society
lost its most active member, the main supporter of homeopathy in Russia [...]: on October
2nd 1878, Deriker died [...]. A year and a half after his death, the Society
disintegrated: the malcontents formed their own circle called the St.-Petersburg Society of the
Followers of Homeopathy38.
Nevertheless, before the new society was created, initiatives intended to make changes within
the society had been made. Later the chairman of a new lay homeopathic society, the engineer
Dmitry Zhuravsky (1821—1891)39 reminded to his counterpart at the
physicians' society, Dr. Bogdan Herring, in a letter written in 1882, that
[...] During some years I had been a member of the society which had you as its
chairman. The society [...] was dragging on a miserable existence, when several of its non-medical
members [...] promoted actions in order to strengthen its activity. A Committee to find new ways to
increase income was elected. I had the honor of belonging to this Committee. [...]
The Committee presided over by Count Golitsyn worked out a project of new
Regulations, according to which the physicians would have to deal with scientific activity, whilst
for the administrative activity the [lay] followers of homeopathy would be in charge. I understood
the difficulties of the situation when the physicians, who formed the hard core of the society and
who had spent so much time and energy to establish the dispensary, had to limit their activity to
scientific matters. It was hard to them to pass the administrative power to those persons who had
been invited only to provide the society with financial means. [...] Therefore, the proposals of
the Committee were rejected. The Committee then stopped its meetings; the members of the society
began to leave. Some dissatisfactions and disagreements developed between physicians and
non-physicians, then they appeared between physicians themselves. The income of the society had
decreased, and the society was in the process of dying, when the common meetings were discontinued,
and the physicians rarely visited the clinic with an insignificant number of patients...40
Thus, these efforts failed. The establishment of a new homeopathic organization which would
answer the needs of the lay adherents of homeopathy, became unavoidable.
Copyright © Alexander Kotok 2001
Mise en page, illustrations Copyright © Sylvain Cazalet 2001