Life of masters - Karl Fedrich Trinks
NATIONAL JOURNAL OF HOMOEOPATHY 1993 Jan / Feb Vol II No 1.
Dr. K Das
Editor: With Trinks, we continue the series, Life of Masters! The birthdate should coincide with the month of this issue.]
"I would not on any account possess the reputation of being
an opponent of homoeopathy, the reputation of having the most ruthless
persecutions of their fellow creatures because they thought and acted
differently from the teachings of the Galenic dogmatism".
These were the firm words of K F Trinks one of the earliest disciples of Hahnemann and who was amongst the earliest band of provers. Although an earnest lover of homoeopathy, he formed the sharpest contrast to Hahnemann, in his nature and views and on certain other matters.
Ancestors & Family
Dr. Karl F Trinks was born in a rich family, yet he was never free from want and economic stress. Daniel Gottfried, his father, was the owner of a water-mill. Though his father was a very good person, his mother Marie Rosine was a dominating lady of miserly and covetous nature. Trinks had only one sister who was four years younger to him.
Birth and Childhood
Trinks was born on 8th January 1800 in Eythra, a small village not very far from leipsic. When he was 9 years old he was admitted to the village school. He was given primary education by his uncle who later adopted him, perceiving that Trinks was a boy of more than ordinary ability and he needed care and help. Under his direction Trinks learnt Latin, French, History, Mathematics and some branches of natural sciences. Trinks was very sharp, diligent and meritorious. He learnt Greek language with the help of only a Greek grammar book. At this time his uncle placed him in the grammar school at Merseburg, where he continued his Greek studies under the guidance of one of his school colleagues. In 1814 he attended school at Pastor Heckers in Eythra. In school he was loved by all because of his tenacity, earnestness and attention in study. His promotion encouraged his uncle very much. Unfortunately his beloved uncle who cared for all his wants, died of pleuropneumonia in 1916. A cloud of bad -fortune came over Trinks head after his uncles death. His means of living became greatly strained. His mother always having opposed his desire to become a physician, in the hope of turning him into a miller, restricted his allowance to only six Thallers a week, which was pitiably small and not sufficient for even a part of his most urgent requirements. Therefore Trinks started earning his livelihood by private tuitions and proof reading.
From childhood Trinks wanted to become a physician. He received some elementary knowledge of practical surgery and medicine from a surgeon of his native village. Trinks helped him in his daily duties and derived practical knowledge about medical practice. In 1917, Trinks went to Lepsic and enrolled himself under Dr. Becl, a well known physician of that time at University of Easter. He studied a lot, made his own extracts and copies. In 1819, he passed Bachelors examinations with honours. After this he was the favourite student of Prof Clarus in the Kackob Hospital. Till 1823 he remained at this University and got his MD degree on 30th Sept 1823. The title of his thesis was "On some principal obstacles and difficulties in the way of distinguishing and estimating correctly the powers of medicine." The very choice for this paper shows Trinks special interest in Materia Medica,v which he considered to be the basis of all medical practice and which he found to be inadequate. Moreover his thesis paper afforded him the opportunity for individual experiments with the separate remedies and for the investigation of their dynamic effects.
Conversion to Homoeopathy
Trinks was influenced by Homoeopathy through some of Hahnemanns disciples. Although he never attended the great masters lectures, but by 1820 Trinks was friendly with a lot of Hahnemannian scholars engaged in proving of drugs like Franz, Hamburg and later Hartlaub, Langhammer and others. But amongst them all Hartlaub had more influence on the mind of young Trinks, with whom he formed a most intimate and enduring friendship. Hartlaub directed him towards new therapeutic light, and because of his critical faculties, he soon realised the advantages of Homoeopathy. The influence of the Homoeopathic school could be observed by his desire for experiment, for obtaining the specific and dynamic action of drugs. He pointed out the difficulties in the prescription of medicines by variations in the susceptibility and power of reaction of the organism, influences by age, sex, constitution, mode of life and by the combination of drugs in estimating the right nature of medicinal action.
After completing study, in 1824 Trinks went on a tour with his intimate friend Hartlaub. They visited Dusseldorf, Brussels, Paris, then Germany of Wurzburg and from there to Naumburg where he met Stapf.
In 1824, Trinks finally settled in Dresden. Trinks and Ernest von Brunnow were known to be the earliest Homoeopathis in Dresden. Subsequently Mosdorf, Albrecht, Wolf and Schewarze joined them. It is said that these six Homoeopaths started propagating Homoeopathic theories in the Saxon capital. After settling in Dresden, he went to Bremsen for a short time but returned at the end of the same year. His sharp intelligence, deep penetrating knowledge, smartness, wisdom, clear perception and capability as a physician, gave him a very prominent position within a very short period. His rapidly extended practice and that of his homoeopathic colleagues, invited the envy and jealousy of the allopathic physicians; who persecuted him with caricatures and charged him for violating the laws by self dispensation. He had to face so much enemity that he was summoned before the magistrate on the charge of dispensing his own medicine.
In spite of all oppositions Trinks enjoyed a very good practice and a large circle of patients. Throughout the north of Germany, Trinks was regarded as the most distinguished physician who practised homoeopathy since the time of Hahnemann. He was entrusted with the treatment of Princess Caroline of Austria, for which he travelled to Vienna. Trinks practised for forty-four years. He had patients from higher classes of society. He was honoured with the title of Medical Councilor. In 1863 on July 2nd he received Knightship of the Royal Order of Albrecht from the King of Saxony.
Trinks had special affinity and interest in studying two diseases, viz Typhus and Cholera.
Marriage and Family Life
In 1827, this sharp intellectual fell in love with Auguste Henriette Uhlig, a very beautiful young lady from Merseburg. After a courtship of 3 months, in the company of a few friends at home, and in a very simple manner, avoiding all ceremonies and outer display, Trinks married her in the month of December. He lead a very peaceful domestic life. In 1829 a daughter was born whom he named Elisa. He had a great affection for her and used to devote at least an hour with the kid. In 1831 his son took birth. Trinks son became a high judicial officer and his daughter married a military officer.
Trinks was known, respected and admired by the entire homoeopathic world.
He was more a critic than a creative writer. He was a practical man with limited interest in art. He had no affection for music or theatre. He did not like poetry, literature or painting or sculpture. Neither the joys of companionship nor holidays could give him recreation. Only books afforded him pleasure and recreation from professional duty.
As a person, Trinks was tall and handsome; earnest with deep penetrating blue eyes. Intellectually he was clear and keen. He was a man of genial disposition and had good stock of humor which sparkled in his conversations and often appears in his writings. He had a very powerful retentive memory. He always preferred facts to theories, practical than ideal. He loved and practised homoeopathy because he felt the necessity of development of principal of pure observation for the practice of medicine. Once he had a very rough discussion with Boenninghausen, when he tried mixed medicines into the practice of homoeopathy. He was a supporter of lower dilutions and always opposed the so-called high potencies. At an early period in the history of Homoeopathy, when Hahnemann was in danger of being led away by some of his disciples, to promulgate crude and untested notions Trinks critical sense prevailed with the Founder of Homoeopathy and prevented him commiting himself to views that could not stand the test of experience. Trinks opposition did not help him come close to Hahnemann. Though it first seemed that he was to join the master more closely, but after publication of Chronic Diseases, he severely criticised Hahnemann.
In 1830, Trinks and the publisher Arnold attended Leipsic Homoeopathic Physicians meeting. This helped the promotion of the foundation of the Central Association of Homoeopathy. He contributed a great lot of articles to Hygeia and other homoeopathic journals, especially in the Homoeopathic Quarterly and Journal of Homoeopathic Clinics. Trinks contributed a good part of his time to the construction of the Homoeopathic Materia Medica.
He edited the Arzneimittellehre and Annalen with Hartlaub. With Noack he published a Handbook of Materia Medica. Till his death he regularly contributed useful articles, practical remarks, criticisms, to the homoeopathic periodicals. He was always keen in knowing the latest progress in all branches of medicine.
In the autumn of 1867, this 66 year old physician of dignified and vigorous stature, fell sick and died on 15th July 1868. He was buried at his native place according to his own desire. In his death, the Dresden Journal (No.163) wrote: "In him the Homoeopathic School lost their first reforming authority, and the most important successor of Hahnemann".