Gustav Wilhelm Gross 1794 – 1847 was a German orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy, and became an early disciple of Samuel Hahnemann after he consulted him as a patient for his skin disease.
Together with John Ernst Stapf he represented pure Homeopathy, and they were the founders, in 1822, together with Moritz Wilhelm Mueller, of the famous Archiv fur die homoopathische Heilkunst (Archive for the Homeopathic Healing Art), the first magazine on Homeopathy.
Gustav Wilhelm Gross was the eldest of eight children. His father was the pastor, John Gottfried Gross. He was born at Kaltenborn, near Juterbogk, September 6, 1794. His mother’s maiden name was Christiane Eleonore and she was born at Schuricht.
After receiving his first instruction in the home of his parents he attended, from 1809 to Michaelmas 1813, the gymnasium at Naumburg, on the Saale.
He was obliged to give up his intention of going from there to Wittenburg to study medicine, since this university had been discontinued; and so he went at Easter, 1814, to Leipsic, and there applied himself to medical studies.
This circumstance is important, for the reason that he there became acquainted intimately with Samuel Hahnemann, whereby his life’s career received a definite direction, which, but for this acquaintanceship might have been delayed to a later period.
To his close acquaintanceship, and confidential intercourse with the founder of Homeopathy is due the fact that he then already belonged to those investigators who, under the eye and special guidance of the master, were helping to furnish the materials for building tip the true system of healing; and, an fact, he began his experiments with Chamomilla….
It is certain that this practice an testing the virtues of medicines especially contributed to develop an him that fine observing faculty, which he had an eminent degree, as well as to give such knowledge of remedies as is possessed by but few Homeopaths.
He had seen the infancy of Homeopathy, had grown up with it and had observed many of the effects of its medicines upon himself; and all this, combined with his unusual faculty of observation, helped him to find his way an the wilderness of symptoms before they perplexed his powers of mind by their vast number.
Moreover, the guidance given him by Samuel Hahnemann may have induced him to keep aloof front the purely fine spun theories of the schools and to pay more attention to the practical side of the art of healing, so as to become the successful physician that lie was, an the true sense of the word.
Because his native place had meanwhile become Prussian, he left Leipsic in the fall of 1816, and won for himself on January 6, 1817 the degree of doctor of medicine an the University of Halle, on the Saal, by vindicating his Dissertatio inauguralis medica, quae versatur an questione: Num usui sit in curatione morborum nomenclatura.
Already…. he was practicing as a Homeopathic physician an Juterbogk: but he was obliged, because the Prussian medical statutes had come in force meanwhile, to undergo in the winter of 1817-18 the medical examinations authorized by the Government.
Besides this he had to contend with many cares and privations, since his means were very limited, so that he was actually necessitated to perform his studies and labors in the dwelling room of a tradesman: and only his strong powers of endurance and his fervent religious spirit enabled him to hive down his oppressive burden of toil and care.
These inconveniences continued to harass his practice for a number of years: for the newness of the homeopathic method of healing roused many opponents, and his continued testing of medicines on his own person, which he did not disguise, led people to believe that he was really making only experiments with his sick people also.
From the Easter of the year he received his permit to practice medicine, up to the time of his death, he was constantly busy as a homeopathic physician in Juterbogk, for he had declined a call to Magdeburg and another to Brunswick.
Although his residence was only a small provincial town, yet his success as a physician gradually procured for him an extensive practice in a wide field of operation, even as far as Berlin, several miles distant; and besides this patients frequently came to him from a distance or consulted him by letter.
His extensive practice as a physician did not prevent him from being busy with his pen. Already in 1822, he was an industrious collaborator, and the founder of the Archiv fur die homoopathische Heilkunst, which was published by John Ernst Stapf, with the assistance of several young members of the new school of medicine. Besides provings of medicines and clinical articles, he contributed many solid essays and important critical works.
Among these is his criticism of Prof. Heinroth’s “Anti-Organon” in 1826, which was published as a supplement to the 5th volume of the Archiv, and also issued separately, and which is characterized with great compass and depth of thought.
He began editing the Archiv in its 16th volume (1837), and worked, then as before, in connection with John Ernst Stapf as a director and promulgator of the new ideas which he accepted and in the real Hahnemannian spirit.
When the founding and editing of the Allgemeine homoopathische Zeitung was proposed to me (Friedrich Jakob Rummel), in 1832, I accepted the proposition only on condition that Gross and Frantz Hartmann should be associated editors. Both of these friends consented, and Gross faithfully and diligently aided the undertaking until the 31 St volume, when death called him away much too soon.
He never opposed the publication of what his own views disposed him to exclude. Homeopathy favored me (Friedrich Jakob Rummel) also at the outset with the friendship of John Ernst Stapf, who lived near me, and through him I became acquainted, almost at the same time, with Samuel Hahnemann, who after, the publication of my Light and Schattenseite der Homoopathie, became more friendly, and also with Gross, who lived at a distance and who favored the with his cordial friendship.
We three saw each other frequently, especially in Samuel Hahnemann‘s house at Coethen, which was in many respects a desirable rendezvous for our friendly meetings.
There I learned to appreciate more and more the eminent worth of Gross as a man, friend and physician. His health was not materially affected at that time though he must have had to endure much hardship and excessive toil ; but his features and the greenish gray color of his somewhat puffed up cheeks, then already gave warning of the unseen enemy which was to end his busy life.
On first getting acquainted with him one might have thought him to be of a phlegmatic nature, for he seemed somewhat cold and but little sympathetic ; but when an idea reigned in his mind, his rather sleepy features became animated and he gave utterance with ready tongue and in eloquent language to his enthusiastic thoughts.
He was the very opposite of a charlatan ; for he was earnest and truthful, and one could readily read his inmost thoughts. He won the fall confidence of his patients, not by his outward appearance, but rather by his kindly stature and active benevolence.
New ideas animated not only his countenance, as already stated, but also his whole being. He grasped them, as it were, with a fiery zeal ; and since his frankness would not permit him to lock tip his soul-stirring thoughts for any length of time in his bosom to mature, he not only soon gave them words but also caused these words to make a deep impression.
This peculiarity of his mind doubtless beguiled hips into a certain over-hastiness and exaggeration, which he must have atoned for by many sad hours and many bitter reproofs of conscience.
In fact, this peculiarity even caused him sometimes to incur the estrangement of Samuel Hahnemann, to whom he exhibited the despondent heart of a despairing father, (At the death of Gross’ child, when he told Samuel Hahnemann that homeopathy could not cure everything, and for which Samuel Hahnemann was greatly displeased), which the stern reformer interpreted as an apostasy.
He thereby showed himself not to be inflexible to the admonitions of his friends and to be less one-sided than would have been thought, as I have often observed ; but the oft too little restrained remorse of his conscience drove him to bitter despondency.
He was so thoroughly convinced of the truth and superiority of Homeopathy that he followed unswervingly the teachings of its founder without bringing his own opinions to the test of a sacrifice in this matter; and so Samuel Hahnemann loved him dearly and esteemed him highly.
Bitter were the reproofs which he experienced from the literary side of his conscience; and he felt them the more keenly the more he manifested too slight enthusiasm in defending the truth of his views or opinions.
Later in life he escaped the influence of these affronts to his conscience, in that he completely overlooked them.
Herein also lay the reason why he participated less in the conventions of homeopathic physicians than one would have supposed in view of his genuine enthusiasm for the cause.
Although a member of the Central Union he stayed away from the meetings in the latter part of his life, and refused most decisively the position of director repeatedly assigned to him.
He no longer felt at home among the young generation, as he called them, as his old acquaintance but seldom attended. It must not be supposed, though, that he had got thereby into an isolated position.
He maintained a spirited correspondence with friends and with several homeopathic physicians, and took an active and eager part in all that could promote the success of homeopathy.
The Silesian Union of Physicians, the Free Union of Leipsic, and the homeopathic societies, of Paris, Palermo and Madrid elected him an honorary member.
The government, too, acknowledged his services and appointed him a member of the Chief Examining Board of Homeopathic Physicians.
Where it was very important that he should be an active worker, as in the case of the Samuel Hahnemann jubilee, he was on hand. He not only furnished most of the matter for the jubilee memorial, but also elaborated most of it himself and then cheerfully handed it over to me for remodelling, improving and appending literary mementoes.
As in his public life there occurred many a gloomy experience to becloud his pure joy in the success of homeopathy and of its future diffusion, so in his private life, sorrow was coupled with the blessing of a happy marriage.
He married, in 1818, Marianne Herrmann, daughter of Pastor Herrmann, and they had five children. But death took from this happy family a promising son and a beloved daughter, leaving but two sons, a daughter and the wife.
One of the sons became a physician and the other chose the position of a master builder.
Neither his own medical skill, nor that of his friend John Ernst Stapf, nor a second sojourn at Karlsbad, had been able to restore his deranged and enlarged liver to its normal condition. And to these ills were added gouty pains, dropsy and oppression in the chest; and a sojourn during the last summer at the Baltic Sea, from which he hoped to obtain relief, seems to have been disadvantageous to his weak and enfeebled body.
In order to recuperate as much as possible, he went to live with his son in law (who had already became a widower), Pastor Weise, in Klebitz, near Zahna.
Here an easy and peaceful death suddenly overtook him at six o’clock in the morning of September 18, 1847, a death much too soon for his sorrowing family, for the friends, for the sick who sought his professional skill and, more than all else, much too soon for the cause of homeopathy.
But his works still live in the grand results they have achieved for medical skill and science. [Friedrich Jakob Rummel]
Frantz Hartmann who was a fellow student, says:
“Gross, too, was a friend most valued by us all, and my intimacy with him continued till his premature death. However unassuming and modest he was, it was not easy for one, full of the joy and buoyancy of youth, to associate himself with a man naturally so serious that he seemed almost cold and but little communicative, and it was only after a long intercourse with him, that I at last learned that Gross could not only be a cheerful but a truly sympathizing friend.
Although at the university a year before myself, yet he was but a little before me in making Samuel Hahnemann‘s acquaintance.
When I first saw him at Samuel Hahnemann‘s house, I took him for a patient who wished to submit himself to homeopathic treatment, since his whole outer man, his yellowish grey complexion, his bloated countenance, his backwardness in conversation, were all expressive of a diseased condition.
As he left the room, however, before I did, I learned from Samuel Hahnemann that Gross had engaged in homeopathy with zeal, and that he bade fair to he one of his best pupils; he earnestly recommended me to seek his intimacy, and I never had occasion to regret having followed his advice.
It was necessary entirely to disregard his exterior, for by this he gained the affections of none, and consider only the inner man, the very kernel itself, for there one would soon find his benevolent and warm disposition, and then it was impossible ever to separate from him unless one’s own quarrelsome or perverse disposition or distrust of his affection led to the rupture.
Time has shown that Samuel Hahnemann justly considered him one of his best pupils, for Gross was, in truth, during the whole course of his practice, the most zealous homeopathist possible; he never swerved from the course pointed out, and earnestly contended for the cardinal points of the master’s doctrine, and even where he was of a different opinion he subjected his views to those of Samuel Hahnemann.
This devotion to Samuel Hahnemann he practiced for a long time, till the many sad hours which he experienced from the frequent and bitter reproaches of his younger, but differently thinking colleagues led him to change his mind and determined him to use the same frankness in expressing his divergent opinions that Samuel Hahnemann had used in declaring his views.
This led to discussions which were extremely unpleasant and he ever after leaned upon two stools, since he could never quite agree with either party, yet he did not suffer himself to be misled but ever remained a most zealous homeopathist, and did all in his power to advance the new system of cure.
Notwithstanding his sickly appearance Gross never suffered from any disease while I knew him, hence Samuel Hahnemann did not hesitate to accept him as a member of the Provers’ Union; he even hoped that Gross would derive advantage from the provings and hence, if it were possible even for him to determine this a priori, he selected those remedies which he hoped would affect the inner and apparently suffering organs of Gross and produce consequent external manifestations.
Gross was the most skillful prover of us all, and the symptoms observed by him have a great practical value. Indeed I place them with Frantz Hartmann and John Ernst Stapf, on an equality with Samuel Hahnemann‘s.
Gross was one of Samuel Hahnemann’s earliest disciples, and from his first adoption of homeopathy up to his death the find him actively engaged in the work of disseminating a knowledge of the new system, at one time in furnishing practical and theoretical papers to the
Archiv and editing that journal in connection with John Ernst Stapf, now engaged in the translation of his master’s works into Latin, and again occupied with the editorship of the Allgemeine homoopathische Zeitung in conjunction with Friedrich Jakob Rummel and Frantz Hartmann, besides publishing divers small works and being perpetually occupied with the proving of new medicines, some of the most valuable of which we owe entirely to him, and most of those given us by Samuel Hahnemann being enriched by his experiments on himself and others.
Nor has his career been unmarked by deviations from Samuel Hahnemann‘s beaten path.
And after Samuel Hahnemann‘s death he immediately broached his extraordinary views on dynamization and the high dilutions.
Whatever may be the opinion of Gross’s novel views and therapeutic eccentricities, none will deny him the character of indefatigable industry and untiring zeal in advancing the new system, nor is it possible to doubt the sincerity of its convictions nor his earnestness of purpose, and hereafter, when the sifting hand of time shall have winnowed the good seed from the chaff the name of Gross will be regarded and respected as that of one of the stoutest champions of our faith – as that of one of the largest contributors to our remedial treasury. continue reading:
Gustav Wilhelm Gross wrote Die Homöopathische Heilkunst und Ihr Verhältnis Zum Staate.