Sue Young Histories

Robert Liston 1794 - 1847

February 08, 2009

Robert Liston 1794 - 1847 was a pioneering Scottish surgeon, and Surgeon in Ordinary to Prince Albert (who was himself an advocate of homeopathy),

Robert Liston was a close friend of Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, and extremely interested in homeopathy, especially in the power of aconite and belladonna to subdue inflammation.

Liston lectured to his students on the efficacy of homeopathy, telling his class that the best medicine in the treatment of erysipelatous inflammation were the homeopathic remedies, as ‘… he had cured some of the worst cases he ever saw with them…[Anon, Homeopathic Record, Volume I, (Tweedie, 337 Strand, London, 1855). Many pages.]‘, and he also told William Hitchman (?1817-?1889), a British orthodox physician, who converted to homeopathy to become a Physician and Surgeon at the Liverpool Homeopathic Dispensary ‘… Robert Liston, the greatest surgeon of modern times, told me himself that he was an Homœopathist; Sir John Forbes, I can personally testify, was an Eclectic; Sir James Clark, like Herbert Mayo, was an Hydropathist, and Sir Benjamin Brodie advocated Medical Freedom.’…[Alexander Wilder, History of Medicine: A Brief Outline of Medical History from the Earliest Historic Period with an Extended Account of the Various Sects of Physicians and New Schools of Medicines in Later Centuries (Augusta, ME: Maine Farmer Publishing Company. 1904).]’ that ‘… the longer a man of science practiced his profession, the smaller became his doses[Anon, Homeopathic Record, Volume I, (Tweedie, 337 Strand, London, 1855). Many pages.]‘

Robert Liston accompanied Frederick Hervey Foster Quin to visit one of Frederick Hervey Foster Quin’s patients to observe the effects of these remedies, which were immediate and rapid.

Robert Liston and Frederick Hervey Foster Quin were also friends of George Gulliver.

Robert Liston experimented with aconite and belladonna, devoting some paragraphs to the use of these remedies in his Elements of Surgery, and in The Lancet and the Reports of the North London Hospital in 1836.

Robert Liston also asked Frederick Hervey Foster Quin to teach him how to use arnica, rhus tox, nux vomica, bryonia, chamomilla, pulsatilla and mecury sol, all of which Robert Liston also experimented with to great effect.

Robert Liston and Frederick Hervey Foster Quin often attended cases together, and Robert Liston was quite happy to leave all the constitutional prescribing to Frederick Hervey Foster Quin.

Robert Liston and he warned his students ’not to reject the doctrine of homeopathy without due examination and enquiry (Stephen YeldhamHomoeopathy in acute diseases, (Leath and Ross, 1858). Pages 10 and 196.).’

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin wrote an extensive and warm Obituary to his friend in The British Journal of Homeopathy in 1847 (John James Drysdale, Robert Ellis Dudgeon, Richard Hughes, John Rutherford RussellThe British Journal of Homoeopathy, Volume 6, Obituary of Robert Liston, (1848). Page 138 onwards.).

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin recalled that during twelve years of ’close professional intercourse’, the two friends had discussed homeopathy with great interest and delight together.

Robert Liston and Frederick Hervey Foster Quin had both trained in Edinburgh and then lived in Paris, where they had met and become friends.

Robert Liston died suddenly of an aneurism of the aorta, and after bringing up great quantities of blood, his allopathic colleagues then proceeded to bleed him until he was dead.

Just before he died, Robert Liston joked to Frederick Hervey Foster Quin that if he continued to deteriorate under allopathic treatment, he would call on Frederick Hervey Foster Quin for some homeopathy.

He never made it.


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