He was born in the family of Ivan Matveevich dal, lecturer of the mining Department, and his wife Maria Khristoforovna, nee Freitag. Dal is one of the twelve founding members of The Russian geographical society.
“Take a look at Germany, France, England, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, North America, browse the lists of homeopaths, stop at every name known in the academic world, and ask yourself,’ And is this lying or wandering?””…you will be tired, gentlemen, maybe even blush involuntarily and thoughtful. Take a look at the catalogues of the abyss of homeopathic books, magazines, Newspapers, let yourself know: is it possible, unprofitable business, that all this was woven from deception, cheating and delusions? Don’t forget that homeopaths have a theory yet, but there’s only one practice, experience; that much, and year on year more doctors passes from the old to the new teachings, but not to hear something about the transitions of the opposite: who once experienced and ascertained, in order to mislead and turn up hard.”from the letter of HOMEOPATHY. (Letter to Prince V. F. Odoevsky). Published in Sovremennik, vol. 12, 1838.
(It was thanks to his close acquaintance with count Lev Perovsky (1792-1856), who headed the Ministry of internal Affairs from the 1840s until his death, that homeopaths managed to open several homeopathic departments at the capital’s hospitals.)