Sue Young Histories

Johann Wilhelm Wahle 1794 - 1853

July 19, 2009

Johann Wilhelm Wahle 1794 - 1853 was a German orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy and graduated from the Allentown Homeopathic Academy in America,

Wahle was a student of Samuel Hahnemann, and he practiced homeopathy in the Vatican with the official permission of Pope Gregory XVI, and he became the homeopathic physician to the Jesuit Convent there, and personal physician of Christian Karl Josias Bunsen, Ambassador of Prussia in Rome.

Wahle was present at the unveiling of the Samuel Hahnemann statue in Liepsig in 1851.

Wahle was a colleague of Clemens Maria Franz Baron von Boenninghausen, Ernst von Brunnow, Carl Franz, Philip Wilhelm Ludwig Greisselich, Carl Georg Christian Hartlaub, Frantz Hartmann, Christian Gottlob Hornburg, Christian Freidrich Langhammer, Giuseppe Mauro, Viet Meyer, Georg August Heinrich Muhlenbein, Rodolphe Noack, Francesco Romani, G Severin, Karl Friedrich Gottfried Trinks, Paul Wolf and many others.

On the fourth of April, 1853, died in Rome, after a six months illness, Dr. Johann Wilhelm Wahle, a true friend and protector of the Homoeopathic method of healing; the immediate cause of death being repeated strokes of apoplexy.

While we are inclined to attribute his death (which occurred far too early for the interest of science) to the fact that his stout build of body could not acclimatize itself in Rome, we are not disposed in any way to doubt the assertion of the family who believe his death caused by persecution.

It is well known that Wahle, I believe about the year 1848, in the time of the disturbances in Italy, was arrested and imprisoned for several days, during which time he was more than elsewhere exposed to the influence of the Italian climate.

The consciousness of his innocence, which, indeed, was also soon satisfactorily established, sustained him, and although the most just and honorable satisfaction was given him, he could not in his acknowledged uprightness get over his grief for the bitterness of his disgrace, since he thought that his moral standing had been injured.

His family think that ever since that time they have perceived in him traces of illness which, manifesting themselves more distinctly every year, caused an ever more eager wish to be delivered from it by returning to his German fatherland. Whatever the cause the fact is undeniable, and we survivors can only lament Wahle’s death without criticising the wise rulings of Providence.

Wahle was born in the year 1794, in Radisleben near Ballenstaedt, a little town in the Duchy of Anhalt Bernburg. His father, who was at the same time shoemaker and farmer, had no other intention than to bring up his son to tire same occupation. But the talents of the boy showed themselves so prominently that the pastor of the place himself took the trouble of instructing him in the Latin language.

This had at least the effect that Wahle on his confirmation, when he had to choose his future career, did not enter his father’s workshop, but went as an apprentice in Ballenstaedt, with a barber, and after serving his apprenticeship carne in his journeyings, then customary with journeymen, to the city of Leipsic. When he had made himself well acquainted with the state of affairs there, being eager to enlarge his knowledge, he attended medical lectures from 1819 to 1823.

Much of what he heard may not have suited him; at least we may think so from the fact that he desired to make Samuel Hahnemann’s acquaintance. This occurred just at the time when owing to the death of Karl Philipp Schwarzenberg, under Samuel Hahnemann’s treatment, the public judgment was not so favorable, and a beginner in medicine would easily have been excused if he had kept far from Samuel Hahnemann.

Nevertheless the impulse in Wahle to learn something better than his calling at that time was so strong, that in the year 1820 he made himself better acquainted with Samuel Hahnemann’s system, soon after made his personal acquaintance, and faithfully supported him in his provings of medicines. But this intercourse did not last long, for Samuel Hahnemann soon accepted a call to Coethen and left Leipsic.

After this Wahle joined some of the few beginners in Homeopathy who lived in a closely united circle (in ecclesia pressa), and he sought to continually enlarge his knowledge of this new doctrine, using all the leisure time at his disposal especially for the proving of medicines.

By this he acquired such a remarkable gift of observation that few could excel him therein, and his practiced eye together with his skillful use of Homeopathic medicines gave him the super eminence over many who mockingly looked down on limn because they had regularly learned by rote the old conventional formulas of medicine.

Despite of this they could not deprive him of the reputation of a very skillful practitioner. In time his position became even more difficult, his successful cures bordered on the fabulous and gained for him an ever increasing fame among patients far and near, as being a most successful healer.

He therefore entirely gave up his former occupation and married. With the increase of his fame the attention of the medical police was also more pointedly drawn to him, for the authorities had in no way ceased in the fury of their persecution of Homeopathy. They were indeed no more able to lay any impediments in the way of this new doctrine, and only indirectly sought to be rid of its adherents by an ever renewed edict against their dispensing their own medicines, raising thus as their breastwork the apothecary’s privilege. Still they did not despise any smaller aids in order to neutralize more and more the courage of Homeopathic physicians.

To avoid the frequent oppressive measures on the part of the authorities, Wahle had gladly accepted the proposition of his friend Carl Haubold to treat the more difficult cases which would excite the attention of the public, under his protection, as his assistant. In this way quiet action seemed for a tune secured to him, but a new law expressly passed to affect the Homeopathic physicians soon destroyed this modus vivendi, for they were forbidden to employ an assistant who had not studied in Leipsic, who had not made clinical visits and passed the baccalaureate examination. With the Homeopaths this law was strictly enforced while other physicians, who were in a like case, received all manner of indulgences.

Fortunately our friend Wahle had already received a doctor’s diploma from Allentown Homeopathic Academy in America, and his voluntary determination to leave Leipsic received a distinct direction through the mediation of the Royal Counsellor, Paul Wolf, in Dresden. This physician had been asked by Dr. Braun whether he could recommend to him a good practicing Homeopathic physician for Rome, and he recommended Dr. Wahle, of Leipsic, as a man in every way desirable.

Thus Wahle, in the year 1840, emigrated to Rome, and his removal was lamented by many whom he had restored to life and health, and who regretted the future loss of his services. Our friend Wahle left Leipsic to his own advantage, for with all his industry and all the acknowledgment of his worth he would never at Leipsic have acquired so extensive a circle of usefulness as he found in Rome, where his extraordinary practical talents introduced him into the most cultivated circles in which he had access to the highest personages and received their confidence.

Love for Homeopathy with him always advanced with equal steps with the love of diseased humanity, and the latter continually incited him to new investigations, whereby he was often enabled to make possible what had formerly seemed impossible, and more and more to prove the sufficiency of Homeopathy. His reputation as an author is just as well established in Homeopathy as his fame as a successful practitioner has spread throughout the whole of Europe. With respect to this his articles on encephalitis and on croup should he mentioned, where the truth is given in a faithful and unvarnished planner.

We have, indeed, no independent works from his hands, but the Archiv and the Allgem. hom. Zeitung contain many observations and relations of experience from his pen, among which the provings of Kreosote and Cimex lectularius deserve especial mention. Many other provings made on himself and on other, with great circumspection and exactness were written out completely by hint and only awaited the critical file to prepare them for the press, when death called him away from the completion of his work.

As a man, equally as a father of a numerous family, he stood worthy of honor. The great sympathy manifested when his death became known confirms the esteem, love and intense devotion which he enjoyed and which are the fairest laurel wreath on his call too early grave. He is reaping the reward of the harvest cultivated with so much assiduity, and many tears of sadness and mourning on the part of his poor, now forsaken parents, flow at his departure from this life. (Signed Frantz Hartmann)

Viet Meyer says: (Hom. Vierteljahrschrift, Vol. IV., p. 239) Again one of the disciples of Samuel Hahnemann has gone to the eternal home. On April 9 of this year (1853) Dr. Wahle died in Rome where he had practiced his noble profession for the past ten years. His name and work are well known to all Homeopathists.

He passed through the severe struggle which Homeopathy had to endure in its infancy. He came out of the conflict as a conqueror. After he had endured innumerable and varied discords and attacks in his native land, he repaired to Rome where he kindled a new torch, as a genuine Apostle of our doctrine. Here also he waged a new warfare and achieved a new victory. Here he diligently sowed the new seed and reaped a delightful and rich harvest. With the same honesty of belief and with the same zeal he had formerly shown, he labored here in the seven hilled city.

His fame spread abroad and hundreds sought his help, which he distributed in unstinted measure but, alas, for only a short span of life. There now weep and mourn for him those whose sufferings filled his mind with tears and his heart with sorrow. We plainly saw what love and confidence he enjoyed. Actuated by a feeling of gratitude to Samuel Hahnemann he came to Leipsic to participate in the erection of a monument to his memory.

The report of his presence there was scarcely noised about when a great multitude 0f his former patients flocked to him for consultation. It was wonderful to see how he led back backsliders to Homeopathy by some significant word, or by reminding them of what he had done for them. He departed from Leipsic as reluctantly as from a place to which he would never return. He had scarcely arrived again at Rome when he was attacked by a disease which soon proved fatal.

We mourn in him a valiant colleague, a profound thinker, a shrewd observer and a true friend. Would that it may be permitted us to rear an everlasting memorial to him by the publication of his highly important literary remains. And may we right soon be enabled to inscribe in the annals of Homeopathy a record of this stirring and fruitful life whose dissolution has afflicted us so grieviously. Farewell, dear friend, thou who didst present us with thy favor and love for a few moments of acquaintanceship! Rest from thy weary pilgrimage! Rest, yea, rest in peace! May the grave give to thee that peace of which so many of the sons of earth sought to deprive thee! Leipsic, April, 1853.

In the American Homeopathic Review for January, 1860, is an article by Carroll Dunham upon Mezereum, in which he says: The late Dr. Wahle, of Rome, one of the most distinguished of Samuel Hahnemann’s own pupils, and well known by his acquirement’s in the science of Materia Medica, considered the provings of Mezereum, which were first published in the fourth volume of the Archiv, to be both erroneous and defective. It is no very uncommon thing to find a Homeopath who considers a portion or the whole of our Materia Medica defective.

But the peculiarity which distinguished Wahle was this: whenever he saw an error or a defect, he thought it his duty rather to go to work and correct the error or supply the defect than simply to expose them and denounce the Materia Medica, taking credit meanwhile for his own acuteness. Accordingly he instituted a new proving of Mezereum.

Kleinert says: (Geschichte der Homöopathie) Wahle was an indefatigable Homeopathic worker, prover and exceedingly skillful connoisseur of remedies who began his career as a common barber, and died a renowned physician, in Rome, at a very early age. He published no books, but was an extensive writer for the Homeopathic magazines.

Richard Hughes says of him (Chronic Diseases, p. 328) in a foot note to Arsenicum: The remainder (of symptoms) are Samuel Hahnemann’s, obtained in his later manner, and Wahle’s (eighteen en all), a prover unnoticed in the preface, but whose name frequently occurs among the second series of the Master’s followers. This biography is extracted from the book of Thomas Lindsley BradfordThe Pioneers of Homeopathy 678 pages, Boericke Tafel (Philadelphia, 1897). Pages 128 to 133.

Wahle’s Obituary is in the British Journal of Homeopathy, the North American Journal of Homeopathy, the British and Foreign Homœopathic Medical Directory and Record,

Wahle was a prover of homeopathic remedies, and he submitted cases and wrote numerous articles for various homeopathic publications.


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