THE PORCELAIN PAINTER’S SON
T.L. Bradford, M.D.
My dear Classmate: In this, one of the banner years of Homoeopathy, the 150th anniversary of the birth of our Hahnemann, I could not resist again taking my pen in hand. Do you remember the old days when we helped polish the old hard benches in the dear college in Filbert street? What dreams we indulged in then! When Lippe expounded his emphatic Materia Medica, and Guernsey made plain to us, as has no one since, the genius of the remedy. When all the lectures were given in the one room and the professors came in and passed down through the students to the rostrum. Good old days; not so much of many practical things, things which the modern student does not half understand the good of, but after all more, perhaps, of real Homoeopathy.
I have been of late busy with the story of the pioneers of Homoeopathy in America. It is a tale of interest. In those earlier days to be a practitioner according to the law of the similar was to invite every sort of vilification; no name was bad enough for the men who had been but a short time previous honored members of the medical societies. To avow a belief in the tenets propounded by Hahnemann transformed these our pioneers from thinking, skillful physicians into lunatics, quacks, German pretenders, and menaces to the community. Did they care? Aye, they cared, for all are human, but they did not falter, for they who break new paths must be brave and not mind the tree stumps and the stones in the way.
And to-day the ten thousand homoeopathic physicians in the land, the numberless hospitals, as well equipped as any in the land, the dispensaries, the homes, the colleges where the curriculum is if possible more strict than in the colleges of the so-called regular school, the societies, and the millions of the most intelligent of our people who are believers in the Law of Homoeopathy, to-day, I say, all this would not have been had not our pioneers been willing to sacrifice present wealth and position and medical well-being to the convictions the were strong within them. They were real followers of Hahnemann, and they studied up their cases and followed the directions he gave for finding the true remedy for the case, and when they did find it they cured their patients in a way that was to them marvelous. They had no surreptitious pocket cases of coal tar derivatives, they did not coquet with polypharmacy, they had enough of that in the past, they just made themselves masters of the German language and then they read the books of Materia Medica, and they decided on the remedy for the case, and then the patient got well as if by magic. Of course he did, as he does now, when he is properly treated, because Homoeopathy is according to a law of nature.
And these, our pioneers, were also eager to tell of the faith within them, and so they wrote pamphlets polemical, and books to explain to others the beauty of the mild way in medicine. These books make mighty good reading now. There is truth within their pages. The other day I took down a little book from my favorite book shelf, the one where I keep my friendly books, it is a small book and a modest one in look, and on its side is the legend: “The Porcelain painter’s Son, A Fantasy. By Samuel Arthur Jones, M.D.” Oh, yes; I had read it before, more than once, but it is one of the few books I re-read. Have you seen it? Of course, you will guess as to the identity of the son of the porcelain painter. I believe I have all the sketches and biographies, and they are many, that have been written about Hahnemann, but to my mind this is one of the best. And it is more than a biography, it is literature and of a very high order. I wonder how many of the men of our school have read this little book? There isn’t one book that would better grace the waiting room table than this nor one that will do better pioneer and conversion work with the patient. It is a heap better than the fly blown old magazines one sees oftenest on the table in the anteroom of the doctor.
No, I do not care whether the doctors buy it or not, I am impelled by the rare pleasure it gives me, this fantasy that is more than fantasy, to say a word to you, and to say that word so loud that others may hear it, to say that when Dr. Sam. Jones wrote the porcelain painter’s son he was prompted by the same spirit that impelled the old men, our medical fathers, to write their tracts, the spirit that willed that other men should know of the beautiful life of the founder of this, our system of Homoeopathy. And full well has he accomplished his purpose. But, then, Dr. Jones is a man who has always stood up fearlessly for the right as he saw it; who has never been willing to compromise with expediency, but has many a time in his writings reminded me of the earlier pioneers in his outspoken denunciation of half-hearted measures.
And so I am saying out loud, as loud as I can, that the “Porcelain Painter’s Son” is a worthy brother to the “Grounds of a Homoeopathist’s Faith” and will live and be appreciated for what it really is, a graceful bit of biographical writing about one of the grands figures who ever lived in thee medical world.
I wish I could persuade the thinking men of our school to read this little gem of a book, and to place it where their patients could also read it.
And I wish also, dear chum, under cover to you, to say to Dr. Jones that I thank him for his charming writhing and that there is one old fellow who enjoys it when the curtains are drawn and the cigar is alight and the student lamp is burning. And that I often in fancy see “the candle light gleaming and flickering upon the fading leaves of the ancient oak that overshadowed Fran Weber’s Wirthshaus in the quaint and quiet village of Meissen.”
Pardon me, my old chum, for this effusion, but if you have not already the pleasure of owning this book buy it and read it and you will thank me for directing your attention to it and toward its gifted author.