UNHAM, CARROLL, M. D., President of the American Institute of Homœopathy and of the World’s Homœopathic Convention of 1876. [Republished from “Transactions of the American Institute of Homœopathy ” -1877.]
No event in the history of homœopathy in this country has awakened so profound an impression or awakened such universal regret as the death of this eminent and estimable physician. Justly regarded by his colleagues, not in America only but in Europe also, as one of the most able, accomplished and zealous expositors of the Hahnemannian reform in medicine, and possessing in a remarkable degree the confidence of the entire homœopathic profession, his loss is universally felt as a public bereavement.
To the American Institute of Homœopathy, of which he was the honored and efficient president during the last year of his life and during the most eventful year of its existence, his loss is well nigh irreparable. Ever prompt, conscientious and thorough in the performance of every duty, he was the one man who could always be depended on when others failed, and whose example of systematic industry was an invaluable incentive to all. He not only assisted largely and efficiently in the work of the society, but did much by way of encouraging others, especially the younger members, to maintain and increase the value and interest of its transactions. Too modest to assume the leadership which by general consent was conceded to him, he did not shrink from accepting its duties and responsibilities. The extraordinary energy, tact and judgment that he displayed in organizing and successfully carrying through the great homœopathic convention of last year, its comprehensive plan and judicious settlement of details, and the dignity, courtesy and perfect impartiality that marked his conduct in the presidential office, elicited the spontaneous and universal tribute of admiration.
The hopes that all indulged of still more and greater benefits to the cause of homœopathy in the future from a long continuance of his wisely directed efforts, were suddenly dispelled by the news of his decease on the 18th of February last (1877) at his residence in Irvington-on-the-Hudson, in the forty-ninth year of his age.
It is an additional cause of regret that this sad event was in some degree due to the physical exhaustion consequent upon his successive and protracted exertions in connection with the world’s convention.
Dr. Dunham was born in New York in 1828. His father, Mr. Edward W. Dunham, was a substantial and prosperous merchant of the old school, of strictest integrity, exact and methodical in his business transactions. A friend of learning and himself a man of culture, he gave his son the advantages of a complete education. During the cholera epidemic of 1834 Carroll, then six years old, had the misfortune to lose his mother, and was himself very near falling a victim to the prevailing sickness. Soon after this the family removed to Brooklyn, and at a proper age he was sent to an excellent boarding school. At fifteen he matriculated at Columbia College, from which he was graduated, with honor in 1847. Even as a school boy he was of a quiet, studious disposition, more given to reading than play, especially of the rough and noisy sort. This tendency of his mind became still more marked during his college course, but his reserve had in it no touch of moodiness, for he was naturally and always of a peculiarly cheerful and friendly disposition.
After leaving college, in accordance with his father’s preference and his own tastes, he began the study of medicine, placing himself as a pupil under the direction of Dr. Whittaker, an old school physician of much repute as a trainer of medical students. Having been relieved of a trying illness by homœopathic treatment, he determined to investigate the claims of the new school, and did so during the whole course of studies, becoming in the end a firm adherent of its principles and practice. In this decision he was confirmed by his father, who had also from observation and personal experience of its advantages been fully converted to homœopathy.
Young Dunham, however, did not on this account in the least relax his diligent study of the doctrines and practice of the dominant school, but attended with the assiduity characteristic of him the course of instruction afforded by the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons and by the various clinics to which he had access.
Soon after receiving his degree of doctor of medicine, in 1850, he went to Europe, partly for the purpose of general medical and scientific improvement, but especially with the design of studying in the land of its birth the methods and results of the homœopathic practice as compared with those of the best allopathic treatment.
In pursuance of this double plan he visited Dublin, where he served a term in the lying-in hospital, Paris, Vienna and other centers of medical science. He seized every opportunity of observing, with a discrimination beyond his years, the different kinds of treatment in hospitals and private practice. Proceeding to Munster, the residence of Dr. Von Bœnninghausen, he became an assiduous pupil of that distinguished practitioner, daily attending at his office and making careful and elaborate notes of the cases that he saw, their treatment and the results.
Having thus profitably spent a year in the diligent prosecution of his mission, he returned home fully persuaded of the truth of the great therapeutic principle propounded by Hahnemann, and an ardent disciple and admirer of that master. During the period of his absence he had not only satisfied himself of the substantial verity of the fundamental dogmas of homœopathy, but had acquired already a considerable knowledge of its materia medica, a department for which he seems to have had a particular aptitude and in which, as we all know, he has for years been considered an authority. His familiarity with the effects of drug action upon the human system was something marvelous to those who have given the most attention to that difficult branch of medical science.
Immediately after his return from abroad Dr. Dunham commenced in Brooklyn the practice of the profession for which he had made such protracted and conscientious preparation, and in which he subsequently became such a shining light. Unlike the majority of young physicians, the pecuniary rewards of practice were not necessary to his support, while the uncertain state of his health, never very robust and subject to occasional lapses, might to a less enthusiastic or to a less conscientious person have seemed a sufficient reason for declining the labors and responsibilities of this arduous vocation, but inspired by noble and humane motives and stirred by a generous enthusiasm he did not feel at liberty, nor had he any desire, to rest satisfied with the theoretical and abstract knowledge he had gained, but sought to make it practical for the benefit of the sick and suffering, and to enlarge and extend the beneficent reform in the value of which he held the most implicit faith.
After practicing four or five years in Brooklyn with good success, notwithstanding some interruptions from sickness -in one instance extending over several months- it was deemed necessary for sanitary reasons to take a vacation. He again went to Europe, and a second time spent several weeks in Munster, renewing his studies with Bœnninghausen and passing the greater part of every day with him. The winter was passed in Italy, where he acquired the Italian language and reviewed his studies in anatomy.
Oil his return to Brooklyn he showed a tendency to disease of the throat, and consequently removed to Newburg on the Hudson, where for a time he enjoyed better health and soon attracted to him a numerous body of intelligent and devoted adherents.
But again the exigencies of his varying health compelled a change after a six years’ occupancy of that attractive field. He visited the West Indies and other foreign parts in search of health or relief. Finally he became a resident of the beautiful and picturesque village of Irvington-on-the-Hudson, where he continued to reside until his death. He passed much time, however, in New York, both before and after his removal to Irvington, keeping an office there and attending to professional calls as his health and strength allowed.
His last voyage to Europe, on which he was accompanied by his whole family and which was undertaken in the fall of 1874, seemed to many of his friends so hopeless of benefit that they scarcely dared to anticipate his return. He seemed to have doubts of his own recovery, as previous to his departure he resigned from all positions of trust or responsibility, and arranged his affairs with reference to an indefinite sojourn abroad. Happily, however, the result of this absence of about one year was so much more favorable to his health than was expected that he came back at the end of that time greatly improved in strength and spirits, and apparently able to resume with renewed activity his former occupations.
Some time before his last enforced departure, as early, indeed, as 1871, at a meeting of the American Institute of Homœopathy, Dr. Dunham announced a proposal for holding an international congress of the disciples of Hahnemann on the occasion of our American centennial jubilee in 1876. The idea was received with enthusiasm and a committee was appointed, of which, of course, he was chief, to make the preparatory arrangements and secure, if possible, the co-operation of homœopathists in other countries. The history of that unprecedented gathering will be a lasting and glorious memorial of the zeal, foresight and self-sacrificing devotion of its originator. None but those most intimately associated with him in the work can justly estimate the amount of labor and anxiety it cost him, and none will be more ready than they to ascribe the entire credit of its success to his masterly management. Even when obliged to seek abroad, with small encouragement, for the health he could not long retain at home, he did not lose sight of this grand and favorite project, but used every opportunity during his stay in Europe to enlist the sympathies of foreign physicians in its behalf.
So general and hearty have been the manifestations of sorrow and of tender and affectionate regard for the memory of our friend, at home and abroad, and so well understood among us were the admirable qualities of his head and heart that an extended eulogy is scarcely necessary. It is the less so in this connection because the institute will, doubtless, at this its first session since the deplored event, desire to express by some appropriate and united action its estimate of his superior merit and its grateful sense of the obligations resting upon the whole homœopathic fraternity for his very important and valuable labors.
It is a subject of congratulation for those who are, to come after us, and especially to the rising generation of physicians, that they will have an opportunity to profit by his writings, and to study to their benefit the lessons of his pure and useful life. Friendly hands, it is announced, are already gathering the most important of his widely scattered contributions to medical literature into a permanent volume, to be supplemented, it is said, with a comprehensive memoir.
Dr. Dunham was a facile and agreeable writer, clear in his statements and felicitous in expression ; his writings were chiefly contributions to the medical journals of his own school ; and comprise some of the most lucid and convincing expositions extant of the doctrines and practice of homœopathy. From 1860 he was for three years editor of the “American Homœopathic Review.”
In 1865 he accepted the professorship of materia medica in the New York Homœopathic Medical College, a position that he filled for several years with great success. During the latter part of his incumbency he was also dean of the college, which by his administration was completely reorganized and established upon a permanent and prosperous basis.
As one of the original incorporators of the New York State Homœopathic Asylum for the Insane, he labored earnestly for the foundation of that, the first institution of the kind in the world. At different times his services were invoked in various official positions of responsibility in the numerous societies and institutions that were so fortunate as to enjoy his co-operation, in all of which, small as well as great, it was a matter of conscience with him to perform the duties faithfully. Whatever was to be done he did at once ; he was never unprepared, nor ever late. And yet, while so ready and apt himself, he was always lenient and even helpful towards his tardy or inefficient associates, not unfrequently supplementing their defects in the most quiet and unobtrusive way. While president of the New York County Homœopathic Medical Society he always went to the meetings with some scientific papers -“papers concealed about his person”- ready to be brought forth in the case of the failure of any appointed essayist.
With a large and well balanced mind, a clear and discriminating judgment, a great store of learning gathered from books and observation, with definite views on most questions of human interest, he combined a wonderful simplicity and purity of character and an amiable and cheerful disposition. While his public discourses were models of clear and concise argumentation, the richness and sprightliness of his ordinary conversation made him the charm of the social and domestic circle.