The history of homeopathy in the Russian Empire
until World War I, as compared with other European countries and the USA: similarities and discrepancies

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.

Chapter Two
Homeopathic facilities: Societies, Hospitals, Pharmacies, Periodicals

2.1 Introduction

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.

2.2 Societies

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 published.

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 split

Dr Adolf HEMPEL (1846—1893)

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 1850s onwards.

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.

Alexander II Nicholas Pirogov (1810—1881)

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 literature,

Vasily DERIKER (1816—1878) Fedor (Friedrich) FLEMMING (1812—1894)

[...] 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 homeopaths.

Dr Bogdan HERRING (1812—1888)

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.

Dr Yacov Chistovich (1820—1885)

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 'Honorary Member'.

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 advantage.

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 President

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 established.

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 Society.

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 the meeting.

17. The corresponding members may attend meetings but without having the right to vote.

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 homeopathy15.

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.

Dr Carl HEMPEL (1830—1882)

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 organization.

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 members22. By 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 Society36.

As to the statistics, 129 patients were received. 106 of them recovered, 11 improved and 12 died37.

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 were discontinued.

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.

Dmitry Zhuravsky (1821—1891)

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.

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Copyright © Alexander Kotok 2001
Mise en page, illustrations Copyright © Sylvain Cazalet 2001