Charles Gaspard Peschier MD (13 March 1782 – 31 May 1853) was a French orthodox physician and Regimental Surgeon of the Carabiniers of Aubonne, who converted to homeopathy, to become one of the earliest homeopaths in France, Editor of the Bibliotheque Homeopathique de Geneva alongside Pierre Dufresne and Comte Sebastien Gaeten Salvador Maxime Des Guidi, Secretary of the Gallic Homeopathic Society, President of the Medical Society of Geneva, member of the Medical Society of Zurich, Berne and Vaud, and correspondent for the Society of Rio de Janeiro, member of the Royal Society of Science and of the Arts in Nancy, of the Academy of Science, the Arts and des Lettres in Dijon, of the Society of the Sciences and of Arts in Macon, of the Archeological Society in Athens. of the Central Society of Homeopathic Physicians, of the Homeopathic Society in Liege, member of the Medical Homeopathic College in Pennsylvania, and member of the Homeopathic Society in Turin.
Peschier was a member of the L’Union des Coeurs Masonic Lodge
Peschier was a student of Samuel Hahnemann, and he was a colleague of Simon Felix Camille Croserio, Jean Marie Dessaix, Gayrard, and Pierre Augustus Rapou.
Peschier also knew Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot, who gave permission for Samuel Hahnemann to practice in Paris,
Peschier practiced in Geneva.
The Zeitung list of homoeopathic physicians practicing in 1832 places Dr. Peschier in Geneva. Frederick Hervey Foster Quin‘s list of two years later also mentions his name.
In the British Journal for January, 1854, appears the following: The subject of this memoir was born at Geneva on Friday, March 13, 1782. We mention the day of the week because it was the circumstance of having been born on a Friday that Dr. Peschier was wont to attribute the misfortune that seemed constantly to overtake him in life.
He went to Paris to study medicine, and devoted himself to the cultivation of the medical sciences with such diligence and zeal as to command the esteem of his masters, especially of the celebrated Antoine Dubois, with whom he was a great favorite. He took his degree in 1809.
Before this, in 1804, he published a memoir on croup on the occasion of a concours established by the government on the subject, which was very highly thought of. In 1812 he followed the course of medical instruction at Montpellier.
In 1822 he published an essay on the treatment of pneumonia and pleurisy by Tartar emetic in large doses, and asserted that by so treating these diseases he had not lost a case. This essay created a great sensation in the medical world, and spread the fame of its author far and wide – in fact, he gained a reputation from it disproportionate to his merits as the originator of the system, for there is little doubt the treatment was derived from Rasori, and disproportionate to its merits as a successful method, for Dietl has proved that the fatality attending the administration of Tartar emetic in pneumonia is nearly equal to that of bleeding in the same disease.
In 1832 his attention was called by a Russian gentleman of rank to Homeopathy, and as his knowledge of the German language was perfect he set about studying Samuel Hahnemann‘s works, and the same year he visited Samuel Hahnemann at Coethen.
During his journey he was very well received by the medical men of Germany, to whom his name was familiar by his treatise on tartar emetic, and he got a cordial reception from Samuel Hahnemann, who was proud to claim a man of his distinction as pupil.
On his return to Geneva he commenced, in 1833, the publication of a monthly journal devoted to Homeopathy, entitled, Bibliotheque Homeopathique de Geneva, which continued in existence until 1842; it was the first homeopathic periodical published in the French language, and it exercised an undoubted influence in promoting the extension of Homeopathy, not only in Switzerland, but throughout France.
Among the articles in this journal from Dr. Peschier’s pen, his Troisième lettre du Dr. Peschier (Letters on Homeopathy), addressed to Professors Forget, Louis, and Gerdy, deserve especial mention.
The Bibliotheque Homeopathique de Geneva was not a good pecuniary speculation; in fact, its publication was only abandoned on account of financial difficulties. Dr. Peschier belonged more to the specific school of homeopathists than to the so called Hahnemannists.
He was an indefatigable worker, he spoke most of the languages of Europe, and at the age of sixty he set himself to study Hebrew, in order to be able to read the Bible in the original. In addition to the medical sciences, his attainments were considerable in literature, philosophy, botany, astronomy, mathematics, and theology.
He was a great lover of the arts, and was very fond of the theatre, thereby greatly offending his more rigid and puritanical friends. He was a member of many scientific societies, and was elected honorary member by almost all the homeopathic societies of Europe and America.
His benevolence of disposition was so great that he could not resist the claims of others on his purse, the consequence of which was, that in the last years of his life he actually was reduced to extreme poverty, and was often unable to pay for his daily meals.
He died on the 31st of May last, and has left a name that will be remembered with gratitude and affection, not only by those who enjoyed his friendship, but also by all who are interested in the extension of Homeopathy.
Henry Victor Malan, in a letter written in 1844, mentions Peschier as a man distinguished by his talents and writings, who, since his adoption of Homeopathy, had published many books in its favor, and is well known as the editor of the Bibliotheque Homeopathique de Geneva.
Peschier, of Geneva, became interested in Homeopathy in 1832. He attended a meeting of the Central Union at Leipzig, in August of that year, and afterwards visited Samuel Hahnemann at Coethen.
An account of the meeting of the society, and also of the visit to Samuel Hahnemann, was furnished by him in two letters published in the Bibliotheque Homeopathique de Geneva, Vol. 1., 1833. This is the first homeopathic periodical published in the French language, and Dr. Peschier afterwards became its editor.
Dr. Peschier was at Coethen about the middle of August, 1832, and remained there for some time, learning new medical doctrine at the home and from the lips of its discoverer.
The Allg. hom. Zeitung contains the following: Dr. Charles Gaspard Peschier died in Geneva, his native city, on the 31st of May, 1853. He was born there on Friday, the 13th of March, 1782 ; he is said to have ascribed to these dates, namely to Friday and to the 13th of March, the various misfortunes of his life.
Having received his education in the institutions of Geneva he went to Paris to perfect himself in medicine. The celebrated Dubois even then considered him a perfect master of his art, and in his examinations he, indeed, received the highest honors.
Having received his diploma on the 31st of August, 1809, he went back to his native city to practice as physician. As early as 1804 he had written a treatise on croup, which received great praise at the governmental competition for the premium essay.
In 1812, with the consent of the Supreme Chancellor of the University, he delivered a course of lectures concerning medical studies at the school in Montpellier. He took a very active part in the Bibliothèque Britannique, a compilation which is highly valued.
Being dissatisfied with the results of venesection in inflammation of the chest, he used Tartar emetic in large doses in this disease, and published in 1822 in the Journal des Sciences et Arts de Genève a letter to the editor concerning this treatment, in which he assured him that he had used this method for inflammation of the chest for five years and had not lost a single patient.
He stated that he had been led to this remedy because: (I) It made the circulation more easy by cleansing the first circulatory paths, and those freed the chest; (2) that by disturbing the digestion it diminished the amount of blood prepared, and (3) by the excitation of the whole organism it diminished the rush of blood to the chest.
This material explanation, though the cure is effected without such disturbances, is totally different from the physiological theory of Rasori. his predecessor, yea, it is contrary to it; this explains his silence as to the inventor, as well as the generally received name of the Peschierian Method, though it does not excuse it, for Rasori is really its author and his publication of the method was made as early as 1794.
It may be said that Peschier, so to say, smuggled in the use of the tartar emetic into medicine, because he left aside and unnoticed the whole radical revolution of a counter stimulant and ignored it. Only in so far can he be considered its founder.
In the year 1809 he published a treatise on Children’s Diseases,’ and in 1832 his Instruction Succincte Pour le Traitement Homéopathique (Notices et Documents sur le Cholera).
About this time his attention was directed to Homeopathy by a noble Russian, and as he was a master of the German language he studied it from the original fountain, and he soon was completely convinced of its truth through the cures of diseases considered incurable, effected by Comte Sebastien Gaeten Salvador Maxime Des Guidi, in Lyon and Geneva.
From this time he devoted all his strength to the new doctrine, and in 1832 he traveled to Coethen to gain an entirely accurate knowledge and to make the acquaintance of Samuel Hahnemann, who gave him a most friendly reception.
He published his remarks about this journey and the reception given him by physicians on account of his celebrity owing to Tartar emetic while these same physicians rejected the far greater merits of Samuel Hahnemann, deeply wounded his modesty.
At his return to Geneva, he found several of his colleagues already united in a homeopathic society, and became the Secretary of this union. With the members of this society he published a monthly journal, the Bibliotheque Homeopathique de Geneva, which for ten years served to spread a knowledge of Homeopathy in France, England, Spain and Italy.
His literary labors are well known and used; he especially sought to spread a knowledge of the labors of the German homeopaths, through translations and extracts. Besides this, during his last years, after the death of his colleague Pierre Dufresne, all the work of the publication of the journal lay on his shoulders. But he would have mastered these labors if financial difficulties had not, in 1841, disturbed the publication.
He looked closely to the purity of the homeopathic teaching, and was therefore frequently insulted by imprudent innovators. But he most delighted in directing the sharpness of his criticism against the opponents of Homeopathy, and his Troisième Lettre du Dr. Peschier (letters to Professors Forget, Louis and Gerdy) remain unanswered.
His mathematical mind fought against the potencies, and in the last years of his practice he more frequently used the mother tinctures than the 4th and higher dilutions.
Charles Peschier was gifted with a wonderful memory and was remarkably industrious. He could speak most of the European languages, and was resolute enough to undertake in his sixtieth year the study of Hebrew in order to be able to read the Bible in the original, in which he succeeded. He had knowledge in everything worthy of being known, in literature, botany, anatomy, mathematics and even in theology.
During the last years of his life he would read his works concerning the Bible the society of his friends. He also loved the arts: next to the intercourse with his friends the theatre was his recreation, which caused sonic disfavor with his rigorous fellow citizens.
He was Regimental Surgeon of the Carabiniers of Aubonne: honored by many foreign learned societies, for a long time secretary of the first Gallic Society, corresponding member of the Royal Society of Science and of the Arts in Nancy, of the Medical Academy of Bern, of the Academy of Science, the Arts and des Lettres in Dijon, of the Society of the Sciences and of Arts in Macon, of the Archeological Society in Athens. of the Central Society of Homeopathic Physicians, of the Homeopathic Society in Liege, of the Medical Society in Rio Janeiro, of the Medical Homeopathic College in Pennsylvania, of the Homeopathic Society in Turin, etc.
Although he was an original character, he had a fine feeling heart, wholly devoted to his friends. His inexhaustible benefactions caused him to lose his paternal fortune in the latter end of his life, so that he lived almost in destitution.
“When a man in his seventieth year cannot every day pay for his dinner, although he has worked all his life long,” so he wrote to Simon Felix Camille Croserio, “I see no refuge from this misery but death, which I hope will not let me wait a long time.”
And even so it came to pass.
As a summary of the whole number of cholera patients treated with homeopathy, up to 1832, collected by Dr. Peschier, we have: In Russia, from the documents of Admiral Mordrinoff, there were 1557 patients treated: 1394 were cured, 163 died. In Austria, documents of Mathias Roth and observations of Dr. Shutor, Hanessch and Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, 1406 cases were treated; 1314 were cured and 95 died. At Berlin, observations of Drs. Stuller and Hayne, there were 32 cases treated: 26 were cured, and 6 died. At Paris, observation of Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, there were 19 cases treated and 19 cured.
From the foregoing statistics it will be observed, that of 3017 cases, 2753 were cured, and 264 died; or a proportion of eight and a half per cent. Such results, occurring in portions of country where the mortality under the ordinary methods of treatment varied from fifty to eighty or even to seventy per cent, could not fail to attract attention.
Peschier’s Obituary is in the British Journal of Homeopathy and The North American Journal of Homeopathy.
- Deux mots au public sur l’homoeopathie (1832)
- Éclaircissmens sur l’homoeopathie (1832)
- Instruction succincte pour le traitement homéopathique, préservatif et curatif du choléra (1832)
- Troisième lettre du Dr. Peschier (1832)
- Visite à Hahnemann (1832)
In 1822, Henri Boissier 1762 – 1845 (founder of Geneva’s natural history museum), wrote to Andre Melly – 1851 (a Swiss Businessman and agent to the Viceroy of India and then to the Egyptian Government):
Boissier informs Melly that the museum’s collections have recently been augmented… by a gift of coleoptera from Dr. Peschier containing some good things…
Jacques Peschier was a pharmacist in Geneva in 1825, and a colleague of Johann Bartholomaus Trommsdorff.
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