Homeopathy 2011; 100(01/02): 5-8
DOI: 10.1016/j.homp.2010.11.001
Social and Historical
Copyright © The Faculty of Homeopathy 2010

Reflections on 100 years of the journal

Anthony Campbell

Subject Editor:
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
29 December 2017 (online)

In the late nineteenth century British homeopathy was dominated by the ideas of Richard Hughes, who advocated pathology as a guide to prescribing and favoured the use of low (material) potencies; he also tried to build bridges to conventional medicine. But soon after the British Homœopathic Journal began publication in 1911, a radical change occurred in British homeopathy.

In the early years of the twentieth century Margaret Tyler had gone to America to become a disciple of James Tyler Kent, and on her return she published a pamphlet in which she criticised the prevailing Hughesian orthodoxy. This publication seems to have disappeared, but it is alluded to by other homeopaths of the time and it evidently caused friction, because Tyler ceased to attend the meetings of the British Homeopathic Society for a couple of years. But in 1907, in conjunction with her mother, Lady Tyler, she instituted a scholarship to send doctors to the USA to study under Kent. An early beneficiary was Dr (later Sir) John Weir. Soon after his return to London in 1909 he was appointed Compton Burnett Professor and Honorary Secretary of the British Homeopathic Society. Under the influence of Tyler and Weir in London and Robert Gibson Miller (an earlier pupil of Kent) in Glasgow, Kentianism made rapid progress towards becoming homeopathic orthodoxy in Britain. The Hughesians naturally resisted this, but they were getting old, and – in an illustration of Thomas Kuhn’s theory of paradigm shift – as they died out their ideas were replaced by those of the Kentians. The change was pretty well complete by the end of the First World War.

Throughout much of the twentieth century the journal largely reflected the Kentian approach. High potencies predominated, single doses were the rule, the polychrests were widely used, and there was a lot of emphasis on constitutional prescribing, which by now was considered to be the main method to use in chronic disease. Yet there were exceptions. A prominent homeopath of the time, Charles Wheeler, had a lot of respect for Hughes; see, for example, his 1935 “Random Reflections”.[ 1 ] And in 1970 Frank Bodman gave an excellent review of Hughes’s contribution in his Hughes Memorial Lecture, in which he reflected on the clash between Hughes, with his emphasis on pathology as a guide to prescribing, and those, such as John Clarke, who insisted on the need to rely on symptoms.[ 2 ]