On May 24, 1898, Samuel Hahnemann was exhumed and transferred to Père Lachaise. A report was printed in the “Society Homeopathists Francaise.”
“Wrapped in silk and linen, the long tresses of woman’s hair were entwined around his neck. His wedding ring was removed for further identification. The inscription read, ‘Samuel Hahnemann, Melanie d’Hervilly, united at Kothen, January 18, 1835. ‘ At his feet there was a glass bottle which contained the embalming report, a gold medallion made by David von Angers, showing Hahnemann’s profile on one side, and the inscription of the other that read, ‘a leur maitre, les homeopathists francais. Similia similibus curentur’ (To their master, from the French homeopaths.)
Also at his feet, there was a bottle containing a manuscript written by Melanie.
Hahnemann’s grave was not sealed. It had been his request that he and Melanie be buried in the same grave. Melanie was criticized once again for failing to seal his coffin, when she was in fact obeying the last requests of her husband, a request safeguarded to her in his will. Their wishes to be buried together remain unheeded to this day (Haele 1:360).
“The coffins of Hahnemann and his widow were laid on a hearse, and 10 persons accompanied them to Peré Lachaise cemetery. Hahnemann was placed with his head to the right, and his widow’s remains were placed at his feet” (Haele 1:360). On July 21, 1900, a monument was erected by the International Homeopathic Congress, with great ceremony. The Scottish red-granite monument displays a bust of Hahnemann, a facsimile of that by the sculptor, David. The cost of the monument was 20,000 francs.
Nowhere on the new grave site is there mention of the presence of Melanie Hahnemann. With the expense and ceremony taken to immortalize Hahnemann, she was neglected, not even her name marked.
One of the few comments published in her favor was in the editor’s preface to Haele’s biography, English edition in 1922. John Henry Clarke and Francis James Wheeler write:
“We feel that he (Haele) hardly realizes the importance of the Paris episode in the spread of homeopathy. Germany had hampered one of the greatest of her sons in every possible way, had driven him from one city and one kingdom to another, and had at last buried him in a sort of hermitage in the small duchy of Anhalt Kothen. From this obscure retreat he was brought into the very center of European life and intellect, allowed to practice without any of the absurd regulations of which the German countries seemed so fond, he was brought into immediate contact with disciples, not only in France, but from all European countries, England and America.
With all her faults and peculiarities, Madame Melanie Hahnemann’s action had this effect; and even the impossible price she put on Hahnemann’s literary remains had this good result -it preserved them all intact until the one man in all the world who ever could make proper use of them arrived- Dr. Richard Haele himself! …Therefore we think that Madame Melanie Hahnemann has a not unworthy place in the history of Hahnemann and his homeopathy and that Paris, which gave him hospitality, freedom and scope, has a very good right to his bones.”
History has long overlooked her contribution to homeopathy. Her influence on Hahnemann’s work is barely noted. Where would homeopathy have ended up without her uncommon devotion? Who knows what degree her inspiration was to have on the growth and furtherance of homeopathy? Would it have ever grown to the degree of international recognition or even to the degree of scientific achievement that his years in Paris inspired? We cannot know. We can, however, look at the value of a life spent in practicing, preserving, guarding, treasuring, and nurturing this art. Her place in eternity has been reserved by Hahnemann.
Melanie’s diary entries at the time of Hahnemann’s death:
“Two days before leaving me he said to me: ‘I have chosen you among all my disciples and I leave you my scientific heritage which is of such importance to humanity. Continue to work as we have done for such a long time, carry on my mission; you know homeopathy and you know how to cure as well as I do.’ I replied: ‘but I am a woman, my body has grown tired, my hair has become white under the strain of this difficult work, I have well earned a little rest.’ ‘Rest!’ said Hahnemann, and raised himself up in his bed, ‘Have I ever rested? Forward, ever forward, against the wind, struggle against the strain, always cure and everywhere, and by constantly curing you will compel justice to be done to you; call faithful disciples to your side, teach them all that I could not tell them, what you alone now know; hand on my tradition, and when your hour to leave this earth has arrived, come and join me where I shall await you. Your body will be put in the same coffin as mine, not beside mine, but inside, and they will write on our tomb
“Heic nostro cineri cinis ossibus osa sepulrco, Miscentur vivos ut sociavit amor.”
(As love united us in life, so does the tomb. Ashes to ashes and bones to bones.)
I promised all he wanted, then he added: ‘God will recompense you,’ and five minutes before he departed, he said to me full of tenderness: ‘You will be mine in eternity.’ These were his last words.” (Haele 2:325)
Haehl, Richard, Samuel Hahnemann. His Life and Work 1992 Jain Pub. 1992
Handley, Rima. Homeopathic Love Story, 1990, North Atlantic Books 1990
Melanie Kornfeld Grimes, RSHom(NA) lives in Seattle where she has been re-reading the Organon since 1972.