Re: DR. JOHN H. CLARKE (1853-1931) - Homeopath

"rpautrey2" <rpautrey2@xxxxxxxxx> wrote in message

by Peter Morrell

A few musings about English homeopathy during the early part of this
century, and much more about the controversial Dr Clarke.


a century and a half ago


what will it take to get you to cease publishing useless info that is so
outdated as to be hysterical..and pathetic

how about "transportation in 1830's"....hmmm horse and buggy at best

sorta like comparing "health care" in 2008 to that in 1830....when there was homeopathy might have looked good...


It is fairly common knowledge that homeopathy has been practised in
the UK since the early 1830s and chiefly by medical doctors. It
arrived in Britain at a very interesting time for several reasons. The
1830s were very turbulent politically; socio-economically; in terms of
religious struggles [the rise of non-conformism and the Victorian fad
for Spiritualism]; in medical terms generally [the importation of the
popular Botanic, Galvanic and Mesmeric systems]; and also in terms of
such powerful influences as the ideas of Thomas Malthus.

For example, Charles Darwin, who returned on H.M.S. Beagle from his
famous 5-year voyage in the southern hemisphere in 1836, was somewhat
dismayed to find that ultra-right-wing Malthusian dogmas were being
vigorously employed as a political experiment for 'dealing with' the

We do well to consider the character of the England of Darwin's

'Darwin was returning to a re-energised Malthusian had
been scrapped, and the poor made to compete or face the
workhouse.' [Desmond & Moore, Darwin, Penguin, 1991, p196].

As a result

'..riots had broken out in the southern counties in May 1835...and
running battles fought with the police...Darwin found that Malthus had
acquired a new meaning. His name was on everyone's lips, as either
Satan or Saviour.' [Ibid.. p196-7].

'The economic condition of the working class in the 1830s was indeed
so bad as to render impossible their steady cooperation with other
classes in a purely political programme.' [Trevelyan's British History
in The 19th Century, 1965, p.251]

All of this is relevant, as it depicts a turbulent period, a decade of
change, uncertainty and experimentation, when people were more likely
to try something new and abandon old habits, albeit temporarily in
most cases.

Mostly, after Dr Quin and the early struggles to get homeopathy
established, the rest of 19th century British homeopathy presents a
fairly flat story with few lively figures or interesting developments
to punctuate its slow but steady progress.


The next new twist in the story comes with Dr John Henry Clarke
[1853-1931], who established himself as a very successful and highly
influential London homeopath in the 1870s. But he 'fell out' with
figures like Hughes and Dudgeon, who controlled the movement, to such
an extent that all offices became closed to him, except the editorship
of The Homeopathic World, which he retained to the end. He left the
BHS in disgust, c1900, never to 'return to the fold.' He thus became a
powerful 'loose cannon' and effectively divided the movement. This was
so for two main reasons.

Firstly, he was wholly disenchanted with the direction English
homeopathy had taken. He disliked the way it eventually failed to
continue challenging allopathy or winning many new converts to its
dwindling ranks --especially after 1900. And it seemed to lack the
will for a good fight. It simply 'gave up' in his view and came to
occupy an all-too-cosy niche within Victorian society, conveniently
devoting itself to serving solely the rich upper classes. The second
point is connected to the first: he started to teach laypersons all
about homeopathy [e.g. Upcher, Puddephatt and Barker], towards whom
many of his books were directed, and he became increasingly convinced
that its future lay with them rather than with servile doctors who had
'sold out' to allopathy. This very radical viewpoint turned out to be
an astonishingly accurate premonition, really, as subsequent history
has shown.

Single-handedly, by the 1920s, Clarke had created a completely divided
movement, composed of doctors on the one hand, and lay practitioners
on the other. And it was mainly the latter who carried British
homeopathy forward throughout the dismal 1930s, 40s and 50s, their
light never dimming. Yet the two strands had little contact with, and
only contempt for, each other. Even in the 1960s, homeopathy was still
very much a ridiculed medical minority and deep in the doldrums. Not
until the late-70s did it start taking off again, and that was mainly
due to the lay revival, not to any action on the part of the doctors --
who, in fact, never lifted a finger to promote homeopathy. And why
should they? From their lucrative London practices in Harley Street
and Wimpole Street?


It is quite true that Clarke was a typical early-century right-wing
fascist and an anti-Semite, which does not endear him to anyone today.
How weird, therefore, that he formed such a fruitful allegiance with J
Ellis Barker, who was a left-winger? All that united them, I suppose,
was homeopathy and a desire to 'do something with it' and 'put it back
on the map'. Barker was handed the editorship of the Homeopathic World
in the spring of 1932, just after Clarke died, and this brilliantly
stage-managed act caused great ripples of embarrassment to flow
through UK homeopathy; a pervasive horror, really, that this
prestigious position hadn't been passed, as expected, to another
doctor, but to a lay practitioner and a German immigrant to boot! How
sweet Clarke's revenge must have been, even from the grave! He must
have lain smiling in his coffin.

Barker [1869-1948] --a doctor's son from Cologne --had been a
journalist and historical and political writer in his early life and
had turned to homeopathy and nature cure in his 40s. He was a
brilliant, often acidic, writer who never shrank from upsetting folks
by 'telling it how it is' or of revealing his burning desire to take
homeopathy to the masses bigstyle. He turned the journal around and
vastly increased its sales, such that by the mid-30s it was a very
popular magazine which was available on newsstands up and down the
land. It also sold well abroad. [see: Barker, J.Ellis [1931] Miracles
Of Healing and How They are Done, John Murray, London]. When he died
in 1948, he was effectively in charge of a mass movement. Barker's
real name was Otto Julius Eltzbacher.

With some justification, Clarke regarded his fellow doctors as the
vilest of traitors to homeopathy, who had succeeded only in turning
themselves into the easily-manipulated and servile puppets of their
rich aristocratic clientele. He regarded them with enormous contempt.
Thus we can justly regard Dr Clarke as the single most important
English homeopath of this century and truly the darling of the
movement. In terms of bold and experimental ideas and methods; for his
writings; for his fierce independence; his great energy, which he
poured into homeopathy with abandon; as a political force within the
movement; and finally for his deep radicalism re lay practice, he
towers like a colossus over all the rest. From him flows nearly every
tradition or strand within the fabric of modern British homeopathy,
other than Kentianism.

Yet it is surely a very rich irony, that a right-wing fascist should
come to be the one who turned his back on the stuffy homeopathic
establishment, accusing them of humbug in their failure to give
homeopathy to the masses! Ironic also that it took his alliance with
the Marxist, Barker, to establish a new lineage of British homeopathy,
wholly devoid of any roots within the class system, and thus to truly
transform it into a 'tool of liberation' Ivan Illich-style. [see:
Illich, 1977, Limits to Medicine, Penguin, London, UK]


Yes, and thank goodness, the divide which Clarke created, still lives
on! Today, UK homeopathy is dominated by many 100s of lay
practitioners, the older ones being mostly self-taught, while most
younger ones having graduated from the 20+ colleges of homeopathy
which have sprung up in the wake of its late-70s revival. And they are
still the Bette-noir of the doctors! Only recently yet another caustic
attack upon them was published by Dr John Hughes-Games. They want no
contact with the lay practitioners, who they disparagingly call NMQPs
--non-medically qualified practitioners. They would dearly love to see
them outlawed.

They seem to present feeble, hamfisted and hateful arguments which
completely ignore the historical facts about the therapy in Britain.
Whatever else we might think of him as a human being, if it weren't
for the wayward Dr Clarke, and the laypersons he taught, there would
be precious little homeopathy practised in the UK today; it would
still be the exclusive and minority preserve of the stuffy old rich
and titled.

It was Clarke who broke the mould and it was his lay practitioners who
have revived its fortunes in recent years.

[NB. the single best source of info about English homeopathy is by my
friend and Sociology Tutor, Philip A Nicholls, 'Homeopathy and the
Medical Profession', published in 1988 by Croom Helm; it is packed
with info, but is now sadly out of print. But most of this comes from
'Dr Clarke An Appreciation' from April 1932 BHJ, and from Barker's
many 'Homeopathic World' articles of the early 30s]

Homeopathe International


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