The Quimby Manuscripts, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, ed. by Horatio W. Dresser , at sacred-texts.com
[Under date of July 8th, 1856, a former patient wrote a brief article entitled "An Important Discovery in the Healing Art," as if intending it for publication. The Ms. has been preserved, and from it we quote the following:]
Tits truly wonderful discovery is now practised by Dr. Quimby, of Belfast, a very respectable gentleman, for intelligence, agreeableness and integrity. He is able to cure without the use of medicine diseases which have baffled the skill of most eminent physicians. Of this we have evidence in his curing those who have been afflicted with sickness and pain for several years, without once knowing the cause of their sufferings, and were given up by their physicians as having a complication of diseases that were incurable. Having therefore to abandon all hope of a recovery and giving themselves up to die, they heard of Dr. Quimby and his successful mode of curing disease. Feeling no longer able to swallow the poisonous draughts administered for their relief, they with faith as a grain of mustard seed were at last induced to put themselves under his treatment. By the blessing of God they were in a short time healed of their infirmities. They also learned something of the nature and cause of disease, the effects of the mind upon the bodily functions, and how the mind may become a physician for the body, which is of more real worth than all the mines of Golcond. For when in possession of this knowledge we learn to remedy our own ills, and no longer remain a prey to disease.
I now come to speak of myself and will give a short sketch of my own experience. For almost four years previous to my consulting Dr. Quimby I had been an invalid. In December, 1851, I contracted a violent cold, which brought on influenza, attended with a severe cough. Every part of me seemed wracked with pain, and it was with much difficulty I could move at all. This continued for some six weeks, when
there was a change in my case which presented no favorable aspect. My physician was a man of considerable skill and experience, as I had received medical aid at his hand some two years previous, which produced the desired effect. I felt the fullest confidence that he would be successful a second time. But all his efforts proved unavailing, as the medicine I took only afforded me momentary relief. . . . My suffering at times was such as I shall not attempt to describe. I continued to take medicine, getting a little better and then worse until nearly two years of my sickness had elapsed . . . until August, 1854, when I was no longer able to walk, and obliged to lie down more than two thirds of the time . . . to the time of my consulting Dr. Quimby, October, 1855.
I had heard of his effecting wonderful cures in hopeless cases of long standing. Although I could not readily conceive the manner in which it was done, I did not doubt the truth of the assertion or think it absurd; but deemed it impossible for anything in like manner to be wrought in my case. I therefore listened with indifference to all I heard respecting his wonderful skill and superior knowledge until a few weeks previous to putting myself under his treatment. I had used every restorative recommended for my case, and all without benefit. I was at last compelled to give up trying, as it was only something simple I could take at all. I therefore concluded there could be no risk in applying to one who was represented to cure without the use of medicines, and hearing his mode of treatment spoken of in the best terms by many of the learned class.
I had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Quimby at my own home a few weeks before I was carried to Belfast. He gave me encouragement, said he could help me and soon enable me to walk again. This I thought was doing too much. I dared not believe. And yet I was impotent to know the truth . . . that I could not even fancy to be a reality . . . I set out on my journey with as much fortitude as could reasonably be expected of one so weak. . . . I felt glad to lie down and rest myself after so fatiguing a journey. I was much distressed, but wished to make as little ado as possible, for fear of alarming those who accompanied me.
Dr. Quimby made me a visit the same day, and expressed an opinion a second time that he could help me. In one week's time I was able by slight assistance from Dr. Quimby
to walk down stairs. It was learning to walk a second time in life. I began to think, feel and act like a new being. Although I was very deficient in knowledge of the truth which was to set me free, I had already learned sufficiently to enable me to perform in one week what I had not done for the past fourteen months. I had never known what true happiness was before, so thankful did I feel for the pleasure of walking. Yet so sudden was the change and so speedy the recovery that it seemed like trying to do something altogether unnatural.
During my stay at Belfast Dr. Quimby had more practice than he could well attend to, and several whose cases came under my own observation had long been considered hopeless were in a short time restored to their natural strength. By the leave of one young lady, Miss C., from Bucksport, I will narrate her sufferings and the help she received. She had been a sufferer for more than ten years, and had had fifteen medical attendants that were considered men of skill in their profession, who were at last obliged to admit her case as something which surpassed their knowledge of disease. She learning of my speedy recovery, desired to learn more particularly concerning it, and consequently came to see for herself. . .. Dr. Quimby examined her case and bid her be of good cheer, and thought he could help her. . Strange as it may seem, in a little less than three weeks she was able to leave for home, and could walk two miles with much pleasure. She lives with a heart full of gratitude to God for the blessed means by which she was restored.
Ever since my return home my health has been improving, although very many thought my sudden cure was nothing to be relied on, and if I still persisted in taking exercise I might ere long be in as perilous a situation as when I first applied to Dr. Quimby. But they have become convinced that it is reality, and think me almost a miracle in the history of disease. I have been able to attend a singing school during the past winter without experiencing the slightest injury. Permit me to say to those like myself when looking for a remedy that you have only to go to Dr. Quimby and "apply thy heart unto understanding, and thy ears to the words of knowledge. So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul. When thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off."
I have deferred publishing this statement until the present time that all might know that I am now well, and suffer from none of my former difficulties, that I have recently gone to housekeeping and have "nothing to molest me, or make me afraid" as regards to my former difficulties. I desire always to bless the Lord, who has so wonderfully dealt with me, and also to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Quimby, as the means employed to change my conditions. . . .
[A writer in the Bangor Times tells of the case of a Mrs. Hodsdon of Kenduskeag, who had been sick with a complication of diseases for two years. "Dyspepsia in its worst form, and a difficulty about the head, had utterly prostrated her, so that, for the two years, she had been unable to walk a step or to be moved in an upright position without fainting. Dr. Quimby called upon the sufferer, and in two hours the patient rose from her bed without assistance, seated herself in a chair and sat up two hours. She rested well that night, she steadily improved and in due time gained twenty pounds of flesh. All this came as the result of a single visit. The writer states that he has heard of other cases of remarkable relief, and he wonders what power there is behind Dr. Quimby's "gift." The testimony of others is mentioned regarding the "marvellous power" following Quimby's efforts. No theory is proposed, but the writer evidently agrees with one signing himself "Exeter" in the Bangor Jeffersonian, Feb., 1858, who declares that it is "too late an hour for the cry of 'humbug' in Mr. Quimby's treatment of disease. . . . People are beginning to inquire, 'Who and what is Dr. Quimby? By what strange agency does he cure disease which for years has baffled the skill of our most eminent physicians?'" Another newspaper writer of the period says,]
"We have been told that the 'age of miracles' is passed, but we have recently heard of several astonishing cures performed by a Dr. P. P. Quimby, which seem to border on the miraculous. How these cures are effected, it is impossible to say, as no visible means are employed. The most obstinate cases of disease have been made to disappear at the mere will, it would seem, of the Doctor. . . . Having heard of a remarkable recovery, we called on the patient, an intelligent young lady, who stated to us her case, and the manner of her cure, the facts of which she embodied, at our request, in the following letter."
PORTLAND, ME., August 29th, 1860.
I have been sick since five years ago last July, having a great deal of pain in my back and limbs, "caused by blue pills taken two years before," physicians said, giving me "spinal disease." Very soon I was unable to walk, or even stand, and for months I was prostrate upon my bed and confined to a dark room, having neuralgia in the optic nerve, dyspepsia in its worst form, making me a great sufferer. After being for two years in the care of my uncle and brother, they decided medicine would not cure me, and took me to a Water Cure, at Hill, N. H. At this time I could not stand and was wheeled about in a wheel chair; my general health improved, and two years ago this fall I was able to walk about the room for two weeks only, and with this exception I have not walked in five years. The Water Cure physician decided there was no help for me there, concluding the spinal marrow was diseased.
Hearing of you, I set out at once to see you. Arriving at the United States Hotel in Portland, August 15th, A.M., I was carried up stairs to my room in my wheel chair, and in fifteen minutes after I saw you, Dr. Quimby, I was walking. I went down stairs to dinner without any assistance, and to my room again, and during the P. M., I took long walks of about forty steps and back again, and when you consider that in the morning of the same day, I could only stand for an instant, and take two or three steps with assistance, you will not wonder that I was wild with delight, or that I was to myself like one risen from the dead. The second day I walked on the street sixteen rods, and during the sixth day I walked four miles and a half, and in less than two weeks I walked into Portland from Falmouth, four miles. My disease is entirely gone, my back is perfectly well, and I have no fears of a relapse.
Yours with much esteem,
F. C. B.
Residence, Williamstown, Vt.
[To this testimony may be added that of Mr. Julius Dresser, restored to health by Mr. Quimby three months before and devoting himself to conversing with patients on "the Truth." Mr. Dresser saw Miss B. in her invalid condition, then walked
and talked with her during some of the trips above mentioned, learning the facts of the case at first hand, and seeing that she was perfectly restored to health. The newspaper writer above quoted continues his account in the Evening Courier, Sept., 1860, as follows:]
Now, if this were a solitary case, we might ascribe the cure to the imagination, as it is well known that imagination has worked wonders in this way. But this is but one of a number of equally remarkable cases which have occurred here in our midst, and witnesses stand ready to bear testimony to the facts. One lady who had been severely afflicted with rheumatism, and for years was bent nearly double, a perfect cripple, unable to use her hands or feet, was in a short time restored to health, and is now a living, working evidence of the Doctor's skill. A gentleman, a friend of ours, had for years been afflicted with a hip complaint. He had for a long time been confined to his bed, and was brought so low his physicians had given him up, with the intimation he could live but a few days. It was purposed to call in Dr. Quimby. This the gentleman objected strenuously to, being bitterly opposed to anything like humbuggery, and the Dr. he considered one of the biggest of humbugs. His wife, however, insisted on calling in Dr. Q. He visited him—and yesterday we met the patient on the street, going home to dinner, looking heartier than we have seen him for a long time. He considers himself entirely cured of the complaint. We told him people considered all these cures as humbugs. So did I, was his reply, but here I am, and if humbug can work such wonders, glory be to humbug, say I: and so say we. We might cite a dozen other cases, but we refrain. We have no other motive in mentioning these rare cures than to make our readers acquainted with the remarkable phenomena. We have but a slight acquaintance with Dr. Quimby, and have no interest in publishing his astonishing cures to the world. We have mentioned them as affording matters of curious speculation. We must confess there is something about them more than our philosophy ever dreamed of. 1
[The next testimonial first appeared in the Lebanon, N. H., Free Press, and was then copied by other papers in Maine and New Hampshire.]
LEBANON, Dec. 3, 1860.
Just at the present time there is a good deal said about Dr. Quimby, of Portland, and it may not be considered amiss to mention the case of a young lady of this town who has been greatly benefitted by him. For nearly three years she has been an invalid—a great part of the time confined to her bed, and never left her room unless carried out by her friends. A few weeks since she heard of Dr. Quimby, and resolved to visit him. She did so, and after remaining under his care four days she returned home free from all pain and disease, and is now rapidly regaining health and strength.
The reputation of Dr. Quimby as a man who cures diseases has extended without the narrow limits of his own state, and the sick from various parts have learned to avail themselves of his services. The increasing respect and confidence of the public in his success suggests the day of miracles, and brings up a question as absurd as that of two thousand years ago, "Can any good come out of Nazareth?" Can actual disease be cured by humbug? Dr. Quimby effects his cures without the aid of medicine or outward applications, and his practice embraces cases like the above, where all ordinary treatment has failed to relieve. These facts at first place him in the rank of the mysteries of a superstitious world, but there are few of his patients after a second interview who do not think the mystery is in them and not in him. . . . It is here that Dr. Quimby stands, his explanation and his cures go hand in hand. While his senses [intuition] are penetrating the dark mystery of the sick, he is in complete possession of his consciousness as a man. Not fearing to investigate the operation of the mind, he penetrated the region [where] nothing but magicians, sorcerers, witchcraft and spiritualists have ventured, and going far beyond them in his experiments, he arrived at the knowledge of the principle regulating happiness.
Therefore his curing disease is perfectly intelligent and is in itself a new philosophy of life. The foundation of his
theory . . . is that disease is not self-existent, nor created by God, but that it is purely the invention of man. Yet it is so firmly established in our belief, and substantiated by so much wisdom that its existence as an independent entity is never questioned. In his treatment he makes a complete separation between the sufferer and the sickness; for the latter he has no respect, and while he is battling or destroying the faith or belief of which it is made, he respects the intelligence of the patient, which he leaves free and unchained.
It is impossible in a brief communication to do anything like justice to Dr. Quimby's system. Enough has been said to separate him from quacks and imposters. The case cited above is not a solitary instance of his skill in practising his science, and his increasing popularity with all classes shows that the confidence of the public is not misplaced.
[Having heard that Quimby had restored a woman who had been dumb, an interested reader reported the results of investigations he had been prompted to make concerning this cure, which occurred during the same year, 1856, the patient being a daughter of Capt. Blodgett, of Brooksville. The patient had been suddenly deprived of her speech two years before.]
No cause was known, and the fact excited a melancholy surprise in herself. . . . She had not been sick . . . nor had any trouble of mind or body been known to have produced speechlessness. . . . One evening her speech was observed to be slightly impaired. She retired as usual, and on waking in the morning she found herself utterly speechless. From that time . . . she had not uttered an audible word. . . . She is now in full possession of her former powers of speech. . . . One physician attributed the cause to a sort of paralysis of the vocal organs. [The best medical aid had been sought without avail]. . . .
Mr. Q. says he employs no medicine of any kind for any complaint he is called upon to treat. His theory is . . . that all diseases of the body are caused by a derangement of the mind! And that the cure of all diseases may be effected, theoretically, by a restoration or rectification of the mind of the invalid, to its natural, proper condition. He has this faith, and when he succeeds in imparting it to the patient,
the disease vanishes and the whole person is restored to harmonious natural functions. His formula of faith is confessedly that of the Saviour and the woman who touched the hem of his garment and became whole. The operation is purely mental. Mr. Q. discards this scriptural fact as a "miracle," but regards it as natural, as properly reproductive by those who have the right idea of diseases and their cure, and who have the faith to attempt to relieve human suffering. . . . He refrains entirely from any manipulation over the patients, such as are generally known to be the accompaniments of mesmeric experiments. He neither puts them to sleep nor biologizes them, but takes them as he finds them . . . explains the method he proposes for a cure. . . . This is the way in which he says he restored this young lady to the power of speech—with no other application but the power of his speech upon her mind. . .. We have no reason to doubt the material statements in this case. . . . Mr. Quimby is not a "spiritualist" in any sense of the term.
[Interest in this case led to the reporting of another instance by the same writer, that of a Miss Buker, afflicted with a hip disease, the conditions being described in much detail. In an utterly hopeless condition she consulted Mr. Quimby in Belfast, and the account continues as follows:]
She began immediately to improve, and has grown better every week to a wonderful degree. The disease has measure-ably departed from the hip, and the leg has resumed almost its natural length and strength. She threw aside her crutches a week or two ago . . . and now she walks with considerable ease and no pain, with the aid of only a small cane in one hand. She lifts her foot with ease, and bears her whole weight upon it momentarily while walking—a thing which until within a few weeks she had not been able to do for fifteen long years. The reader may imagine the enthusiastic congratulations in which she indulges at the cheering prospect she now has of being completely restored to health. She is apparently in the enjoyment of a new life. . .. Dr. Quimby has used no medicine or material appliances whatever, internally or externally—he has not even seen nor touched the part afflicted. All he has done has been by acts of volition, conversing with his patient daily for about six weeks, "teaching her," as he says, "the use of her limbs and how to walk." He feels confident that he has obtained the mastery of the disease . . .
he got the mind and most of the body of the patient on the winning side. He believes that their mutual "faith" will yet make his patient "whole." "He says he is not performing a miracle" but a "cure," by the exercise, in a novel way, of those powers of intellect and reason with which the Creator has endowed him in common with all intelligent beings. [This eminently fair-minded man appeals to his readers to visit the patient if so inclined and see for themselves while the actual process of restoration to health is going on.]
[More convincing to some will be the testimony of F. L. Town, assistant Surgeon, U. S. A., Louisville, Ky., who, in a communication over his own signature, March, 1862, wrote to a Portland paper concerning his observations and knowledge of the experience of a patient under Quimby's care. The editor, in introducing the letter says, "The Doctor himself came to the International Hotel . . . an invalid, so feeble that he had to be assisted in getting into the door, and afterwards to his room on the second floor. He was so terribly dyspeptic that he could eat no solid food, nor could he swallow cold water. . . . The Doctor left completely cured, in about six weeks from his coming to visit Mi. Quimby. . . . About the facts of the Doctor's remarkable cures there is no doubt; but there may be question about how they are done." Dr. Town's communication is as follows:]
Mr. Editor: I believe you have some knowledge of Dr. Quimby of the International and his peculiar mode of practice. By a chain of unforeseen circumstances. I have been led to know something of Dr. Q. and the modus operandi in the treatment of his patients. With a broad faith in the virtue of men I believe him to be an honest man in his profession, who practises as he believes, and would not intentionally deceive anyone. His treatment is peculiar to himself and independent of all systems or forms of practice whatever. For that pretentious class, who in the guise of spiritualists, clairvoyants, and all other charlatans who with no previous study, or knowledge of the power or effect of the medicines they prescribe, seek to humbug communities . . . he has as little esteem, and holds himself as sensitively separate from them as the most orthodox practitioner. He has no sympathy or connection with them. Neither is his practice more nearly allied to that of the regular practitioner. He gives no medicine. . . .
The patient will find him unassuming in his manners, and no more ready to talk of his successes than other men of theirs. . . He will explain to you his way of practice, give you the benefit of his treatment, entertain you with stereoscopic views of his theory or belief, and end off perhaps by explaining a few passages of Scripture. However, a man's belief is one thing, and his success in practice is another; this alone wins a favorable opinion and wise confidence. There can be no doubt that Dr. Q. has been the means of doing much good, as many patients from their homes, now in the enjoyment of health, are willing to testify. In some instances his treatment has been attended by the most unexpected and happy results, affording great and immediate relief, when hope almost had failed. These are not isolated cases, but none the less wonderful.
I will briefly relate the history of the following case, in which the ties of near consanguinity awakened the liveliest sympathy, and the happy termination of which was the cause of equal surprise and pleasure. A member of our family had, while in that transition period between happy childhood and budding womanhood, gradually lost the power of walking or standing, and for a number of years (some five or six) was wholly unable to make any use of her limbs whatever. There was no deformity, nor any discoverable lesion, but weakness, and all attempts to use them were attended by such excessive pain that they had to be given up. During this time she was confined exclusively to the house, as the jar of a carriage could not be borne; and often the tread of an incautious foot across the floor was productive of pain. She was visited by some of our most skilful practitioners, men of acknowledged ability and professors in popular colleges. They expressed a belief that in time a recovery might be hoped for.
Several years passed, and time brought no healing on its wings, but new causes of suffering. Her disease began to assume a much graver type—the eyes became morbidly sensitive to light, which increased to such an extent that the least degree of light seemed unbearable. The shutters were closed, curtains were drawn, and heavy blankets followed, tacked closely over the windows. The digestive powers became much impaired. The stomach, in failing to perform its office, sympathized with the rest of the system. . . . For five months the only nourishment that could be borne . . . was a
few cups of milk and water drank during the twenty-four hours. In darkness, helpless and unable to take any proper food, she wasted away till she was but the shadow of her former self. Greatly prostrated and seemingly emaciated to the last degree, scarcely a hope was left for recovery.
Through the earnest representation of friends, Dr. Quimby was employed, certainly with the least expectation of any benefit. We were little prepared to witness the surprising and gratifying amendment that attended his visit.
The relief afforded was immediate, entire. All pain and irritation ceased, and the patient was convalescent. Light again began to shed its cheering rays through the room, for six months darkened. The digestive powers increased, and she was able to eat simple food. The use of her limbs returned; and under a more generous diet, and as new strength gave power to them, she was able to walk. In a few months her weight more than doubled. . . . At that time, stopping at a distant city, I soon came home to witness these happy results. How great was the change! . . . Like a child, she was again learning to walk. The hue of health was chasing from the cheek the pallor of sickness, whilst her returning smile and speaking eye told of the happiness within. Her whole aspect showed that she was indeed a new being.
Save an occasional drawback, which a visit of a few weeks to Dr. Q. set all right, she has steadily mended to the present, (nearly two years). The eyes are still troublesome, but improving; otherwise her health is apparently confirmed.
Other cases equally remarkable have come to my knowledge, whose history and symptoms were every way different. It is apparent that his influence is not confined to one class of diseases, and in no case could one safely predicate whether or not relief might be expected. However, all may not hope to be set at once in the broad highway to health. . . . Considering the means employed, and the diversity of the cases, Dr. Q.'s success is remarkable—whether it depends more upon the man, or he acts upon the first principle of that which, when better understood, shall be recognized as a new remedial agency . . . time will tell.
These few remarks are made as an act of justice to Dr. Q. . . . Let us then in the exercise of Christian charity, if plain facts are before us, and we find an individual who can alleviate the pains of a single sufferer, strew flowers in his
pathway through life, accept them as a verity and bid him Godspeed.
[Writing under the head of "The Art of Healing," another interested observer, signing himself "H.," communicates to the Portland Advertiser, Feb. 1860, his conclusions in the case of Quimby's practice. He says in part:]
Every theory admitting evil as an element cannot annihilate it. If disease is ever driven out of existence, it must be by a theory and practice entirely at variance with what we now put our trust in. . . . In every age there have been individuals possessing the power of healing the sick and foretelling events. . . . Spiritualists, mesmerists, and clairvoyants, making due allowance for imposition, have proved this power is still in existence. Like this in the vague impression of its character, but infinitely beyond any demonstration of the same intelligence and skill, is the practice of a physician who has been among us a year and to whose treatment some hopeless invalids owe their recovered health.
I refer to Dr. P. P. Quimby. With no reputation except for honesty, which he carries in his face and the faint rumor of his cures, he has established himself in our city and by his success merits public attention. . . . He stands among his patients as a reformer, originating an entirely new theory in regard to disease and practising it with a skill and ease which only comes from knowledge and experience. His success in reaching all kinds of diseases, from chronic cases of years’ standing to acute disease, shows that he must practise upon a principle different from what has ever been taught. His position as an irregular practitioner has confined him principally to the patronage of the ignorant, the credulous and the desperate, and the most of his cases have been those which have not yielded to ordinary treatment. 1
[In introducing the following letter to the Portland Advertiser, the editor says; "We publish this morning a communication over the name of 'Vermont,' from a very intelligent young lady who, with her mother, was a boarder at the International Hotel during the most of last winter. The mother was a lady, we judge, of about fifty years, and the daughter about twenty. The mother had been treated for
scrofula, which her physician thought was incurable. The daughter was simply afflicted with general debility. Both left restored to health. The lady, whose voice was restored, lost it nearly three years since by scarlet fever, and during that whole time had not spoken."]
One of the most noticeable characteristics of the present time is a growing distrust in the virtue of medicine, as in itself able to cure disease; and this state of the public mind—this demand for some better mode of treating the sick has either created or finds ready an army of new school practitioners of every possible kind, some sincerely desirous of doing good and firmly believing what they profess, while others are only too willing to impose upon credulity and benefit themselves thereby. Under such circumstances it would be extremely difficult for a true reformer, who not only sees the errors of the past and present, but dares to take entirely different views even of the origin of disease, to acquire for himself a reputation distinct from the many who also profess to have advanced far in the new paths they have chosen, though in reality having started from the same point that all others have in times past, they will in the end arrive at nearly the same conclusions. Even great success in the practice of his theory, might for a time be insufficient to establish public confidence, and prevent his being ranked with all the innovators of the day.
[This states in an admirable way precisely the difficulty Quimby encountered, classified as he was with humbugs, spiritualists, magnetic healers, and the like, although radically different from them. This writer goes on to say:]
Many people who have lost faith in the ancient school, are at the same time startled by such reasoning as Dr. Quimby uses with regard to disease. It is so contrary to the commonly received opinions, they hardly dare believe there can be any truth in it. They hear of remarkable success in his practice, but are then still more incredulous and say, 'The age of miracles has passed away, and this is too much to believe.' But 'seeing is believing' . . . and after having opportunity to see some of the remarkable effects which Dr. Quimby has had upon obstinate cases of long standing disease, they are compelled to yield, though it may be reluctantly, that there is living truth in his principles—that he has cast off the shackles of opinion, which would narrowly enclose the limits
of investigation. . . . They came to him suspicious, almost unwilling to believe what they saw, ignorant of his theory which, even after it was explained, they found difficult to understand, and therefore had to go through with this process of gradual conviction before they would receive its truths. So it may be said that he has to contend with those who would be his friends, as well as with his enemies.
The following outline of his theory was written after having passed through a similar change of feeling, and may give some general idea—though a very imperfect one—of the principles which are so effective in opposing disease.
According to this new theory, disease is the invention of man. It is caused by a disturbance of the mind—which is spiritual matter [or substance]—and therefore originates there. We can call to mind instances where disease has been produced instantly by excitement, anger, fear or joy. Is it not the more rational conclusion that disease is always caused by influences upon the mind, rather than that it has an identity, and comes to us and attacks us?
Living in a world full of error in this respect and [educated] to believe that disease is something we cannot escape, it is not strange that our fear comes upon us. We take the opinions of men which have no knowledge in them for truth. So we all agree to arbitrary rules with regard to our mode of life, and suffer the penalties attached to any disobedience of the same. These diseases or penalties are real to us though they are the results of our own belief.
It is reasonable to infer from these statements that the only way to approach and eradicate disease must be through the mind, to trace the cause of this misery and hold up to it the light of reason, or disbelief in the existence of disease independent of the mind. Then the cloud like shadows vanishes as error always will when overpowered by the light of truth.
Dr. Quimby proves the truth of this belief by his daily works. The marvelous cures he is effecting are undeniable evidence of his superior knowledge and skill in applying it for the benefit of suffering humanity. He does not use medicine or .any material agency, nor call to his aid mesmerism or any [spiritistic] influences whatever; but works upon scientific principles, the philosophy of which is perfectly understood by the patient, therefore [the patient]
is not only rid of the present trouble but also of the liability to disease in the future. . . .
Accepting this new theory, man is placed superior to circumstances, easily adapting himself to any necessity. Free from all fear, he lives a more simple, natural and happy life. He is enabled to control the body and make it subservient to his will, instead of his being a slave, completely at its mercy, which he will be if he allows that it is subject to disease.
This truth is capable of extensive practical application in all the exigencies of life, and we learn to make constant use of it as we advance in knowledge. It helps us to place a just estimate upon everything, the value of life is enhanced, and as we have more of this true knowledge in ourselves we shall love and worship God, who is the source of all wisdom, more sincerely and intelligently.
[The following was inserted as an advertisement in a Portland, Maine, paper, Feb. 3, 1861, in gratitude for the work Dr. Quimby was doing.]
Disease is the great enemy of life. Even those who are free from it admit that they are liable to it and are in constant fear of the danger.
It is quite a new idea that disease cannot only be eradicated but annihilated, and might be questioned were it not daily proved by the practice of Dr. P. P. QUIMBY, of Portland, Maine, who has discovered an entirely new method of curing disease upon scientific principles, without the use of medicine or any material agency: also, without the use of mesmerism or any spiritual 1 influence whatever. He is constantly curing the more desperate cases of disease—paralysis, consumption, neuralgia yield to his control, and the deaf, blind and lame are made whole by a philosophy which is perfectly intelligent to themselves, and is able not only to rid them of present trouble, but also from the liability to disease in the future.
These statements are made without the knowledge of Dr. Quimby, for the benefit of any who, suffering from disease, have failed to find relief, and are left without hope of finding
assistance, by one who has been in that condition, but was saved by his cure from despair and death.
Dr. Quimby has, after years of patient investigation, discovered this new principle in metaphysics, which cannot fail to interest the well, and is of incalculable importance to the sick. But his superior knowledge and skill in applying it to the cure of disease is accompanied by such rare modesty of character that he has never taken any means to make himself known to the world, and therefore he is only known within the limits of the influence which his patients may hold in society.
As a token of gratitude to him, as well as for the benefit of any who may be suffering from disease, he is thus unhesitatingly and publicly recommended.
[The name of E. Chase, Portland, is appended in ink to the following testimonial, clipped from the Portland Advertiser, 1860:]
Reader, did you ever see Dr. Quimby? You have heard of him. As a Doctor he is nondescript. He ignores all material medicines. He does not give the infinitesimal atoms of Homeopathy or bread pills. He repudiates all spiritual medicineship as he does the whole catalogue of pills and liquids recorded in the M.D.'s Materia Medica. These he asserts are all humbugs, and the works of darkness.
His patients come from the four winds of heaven . . . no, not from the South. The Doctor is a strong Union man; and would as soon cure a sick rattlesnake as a sick rebel. He has patients from all parts of New England, the Middle States, and the West. And his patients are all from the wealthier and educated classes. He has a large practice in this city and neighborhood. Most of his patients get well under his curative process, which differs from all other modes and theories of medical practice. 1
We have been boarding at the International Hotel, in this city, during the last six weeks, and we have witnessed some remarkable cases; as have all the regular boarders. We express no opinion about the modus operandi; except to say positively that the Doctor's practice, if it do not cure, can do no possible harm, as he gives no medicines.
[The Portland Evening Courier also took to reporting instances of Dr. Quimby's cures and giving space to articles by patients. Some of the latter were by Mrs. Eddy, then Mrs. Patterson, and are reprinted in another chapter. Mrs. Patterson's sonnet, also quoted elsewhere, was called out by the striking cure of Capt. Deering. Commenting on this cure, a writer in the Courier says:]
Persons who know but little of the theory or practice of Dr. P. P. Quimby are constantly misrepresenting both. The Doctor has received hundreds of testimonials as to the permanency and wonderful nature of his cures. The following statement from Capt. John W. Deering, of Saco, written by himself, will have great weight with those who know Mr. Deering, and it is published as much to refute statements made by some interested persons to the effect that the Doctor acts as a spirit medium and mesmeriser, as for the testimony it offers in support of the healing power which the Doctor claims to exercise, even in cases called chronic, and given over by old-school physicians.
[The editor also takes pains to say that this wonderful cure, one of many equally remarkable and astonishing cures which have come to his knowledge, is evidence of Quimby's theory, as "original and entirely distinct from spirit mediums and mesmerisers. . . . Below will be found Capt. Deering's statement."]
"Early in August, 1862, I was attacked with a slight pain in the small of my back, and immediately my right leg commenced drawing up, so that in ten days, while standing on my left foot, I could but just touch my right leg on the seat of a common chair. All this time I suffered great pain in my knee pan. I was attended by two of the best physicians in York County, who applied blisters, leaches, and cappings to my right thigh, with no effect except to increase the pain.
"I became entirely discouraged, when I heard of Dr. P. P. Quimby; and after many solicitations on the part of my friends I yielded to their entreaties and visited him. After an examination, he told me that the cause of my difficulty was a contraction of the muscles about the right side. Physicians that I had previously consulted had treated me for disease of the hip. Almost despairing of a cure, but willing to gratify the wishes of my friends, I remained in the Doctor's care.
Without calling on the spirits of the departed for aid, without mesmerism and without the use of medicines of any kind, he succeeded in completely restoring the muscles of my side and leg to their proper functions, and I am now as well as ever. I visited Dr. Quimby under the impression that he was some mysterious personage who had acquired a great reputation for curing diseases, and who must exercise some kind of mesmeric control over the will and imagination of his patients. But I am convinced that he is a skilful physician, whose cures are not the result of accident, but of a thorough knowledge and application of correct curative principles." 1
SACO, Jan 8, 1863.
JOHN W. DEERING
[It is interesting, also, to note the zeal with which some took up the idea of absent treatment as a perfectly intelligible process in contrast with the difficult explanation offered by spiritists. The following is from a communication addressed to the editor of the Courier by a writer who signs himself, C. C. Whitney:]
"As spiritualism seems to be to many the only way of accounting for all phenomena of the present day, I thought it might be of some interest to your readers to state a case that came under my own observation, and I will leave the public to judge of the manner in which it was done.
"Two years ago last March, I sent to Dr. Quimby to visit my wife, then living in Wayne, in this state, who had been confined to her bed for over a year, and unable to lie on her left side, or raise herself in bed.
"The Doctor replied that he could not visit her in person, but would try an experiment, and wished me to keep him informed of his success. His plan was that on my receiving his letter he would commence to operate on her [absently,] and continue his visits till the next Sunday, when he would, between the hours of 11 and 12, make her walk. I received this letter Wednesday, and that night she was very uneasy and nervous, and the next day, Thursday, she was more
comfortable, and turned over on her left side, a thing she had not done for nearly a year. She continued improving, and [I] sent the Doctor letters informing him of his success. On Sunday, not expecting her to rise, I attended church, and on my return I found her up and dressed. Between the hours of 11 and 12 she arose from her bed and walked across the room, returning to the bed, and then walked out into the dining room, and the next morning she took breakfast with the family, and continued to improve." 1
[The letter goes on to say that the patient suffered a partial relapse a year later, and her husband, being in Portland, called on Quimby for help; the help was given without informing the wife, and her husband reports that it was with success according to Quimby's predictions. Evidently, there had been no opportunity in this case for Quimby to converse with the patient and give her advice regarding her health. The editor, commenting on the above instance, thinks it invites explanation from those who would attribute it to spiritistic influences. The editor was much impressed by the genuineness of the explanation offered by Quimby in such cases, namely, that it was intelligent use of therapeutic power, not the agency of spirits; for he learned from a woman in Lancaster, N. H., that at the time appointed by Quimby for visiting Mrs. Whitney absently, Quimby, then in Lancaster, remarked that he "must go to Wayne to visit a patient." After retiring to the parlor for an hour, Quimby returned and said he had "got the lady up from her bed, and that she walked, and three persons were present in the room who witnessed it. Upon writing Mr. Whitney, it was found that he and two friends, who had accompanied him home from meeting were present at that time, and saw her walk." This again shows the clarity of Quimby's perception at a distance, also the fact that what he gave as facts could be verified.
A writer in another Portland paper, name and date not given in the scrap-book, after pointing out the usual misconceptions gathering around Quimby's name and declaring that Quimby is "always conscious of what he says and does," adds that] "He takes as a starting-point that disease was
never created by God, but has been made by the false opinions which have been given and believed by man, and he contends that disease can be cured by simply explaining to the patient wherein he has been deceived. . . . He says that if he cures at all he knows how he does it, and that all the power he exerts is simply in what he says to the patient, while sitting with him. [This of course involved the silent realization known as a treatment.] . . . The Doctor also contends that if he can cure an individual case . . . he can produce the same effect by addressing himself to many at the same time. He has [the intention] of publishing his ideas at some future time, and also the idea of treating disease publicly, when he feels that the people are ready.
[It will be noticed that the writers in the above excerpts from the press uniformly speak of the fact that Dr. Quimby practised according to a "new principle," not by giving medicine or by making any material applications, and not by the use of mesmerism or spiritism. These excerpts have not been selected and published here because they are favorable, but because they are frank statements of Dr. Quimby's practice as it impressed contemporary observers. The newspaper excerpt which shows the least understanding of Quimby's practice is the following from the Bangor Jeffersonian, 1856. This excerpt was republished in "The Philosophy of P. P. Quimby," 1895. When the writer quoted below uses the term "animal spirit," he is using his own term, not Quimby's, for this term was not employed by Dr. Quimby. What Quimby taught was that the false ideas and mental imagery causing the disease were directly impressed on the plastic substance of the mind, which included what we now call the subconscious. Quimby did indeed find the soul, (not the "animal spirit,") partly disconnected from the body in certain extreme cases, when the patient lay at the point of death, and he conversed with the soul, or, as he says in most of his writings, "the scientific man." The statement quoted below shows that it was difficult for some observers to understand what Quimby meant.]
A gentleman of Belfast, P. P. Quimby, who was remarkably successful as an experimenter in mesmerism some sixteen years ago, and has continued his investigations in psychology, has discovered, and in his daily practice carries out, a new principle in the treatment of disease. . . . His theory is
that the mind gives immediate form to the animal spirit, and that the animal spirit gives form to the body. His first course in the treatment of a patient is to sit down beside him and put himself en rapport with him, which he does without producing the mesmeric sleep. He says that in every disease the animal spirit or spiritual form is somewhat disconnected from the body, and that when he comes en rapport with a patient, he sees that spirit form standing beside the body; that it imparts to him all its grief, and the cause of it, which may have been mental trouble, or a shock to the body, or over-fatigue, excessive cold or heat, etc. This impresses the mind with anxiety, and the mind reacting upon the body, produces disease. . . . With this spirit form Dr. Quimby converses, and endeavors to win it away from its grief, and when he has succeeded in doing so, it disappears, and reunites with the body. In a short time the spirit again appears, exhibiting some new phase of trouble.
[The following is one of the last newspaper references to Dr. Quimby and his work in Portland, after he had announced his intention of retiring from his practice there, that he might revise his writings for publication. It was written by a former patient.]
It is with feelings of surprise and regret that many of your readers receive the announcement, given in your advertising columns, that Dr. P. P. Quimby has determined to leave Portland. The Doctor has been in this city for nearly seven years, and by his unobtrusive manners and sincerity of practice has won the respect of all who know him. To those especially who have been fortunate enough to receive benefit at his hands—and they are many—his departure will be viewed as a public loss. That he has manifested wonderful power in healing the sick among us, no well-informed and unprejudiced person can deny. Indeed, for more than twenty years the Doctor has devoted himself to this one object, viz., to cure the sick, and to discover through his practice the origin and nature of disease. By a method entirely novel, and at first sight quite unintelligible, he has been slowly developing what he calls the "Science of Health;" that is, as he defines it, a science founded on principles that can be taught and practised, like that of mathematics, and not on opinion or experiments of any kind whatsoever.
Hitherto he has confined his efforts to individual cases only, seeking to discover in them what disease is, how it arises, and whether it may not, with the progress of truth, be entirely eradicated. The results of his practice have been such as to convince him that disease, that great enemy to our happiness, may be destroyed, and that, too, on grounds and by a method purely rational; and he goes from us not to abandon the cause, we are rejoiced to learn, but to enter a broader field of usefulness, wherein he hopes not only to cure, but as far as he can, to prevent disease.
The path he treads is a new one and full of difficulties; but with the evidence he has already given, in numberless instances, of his extraordinary ability in detecting the hidden sources of suffering, we are led to hope he may yet accomplish something for the permanent good of mankind. An object so pure, and a method so unselfish, must, when understood, claim the favorable attention of all. We bid him God speed.
91:1 The editor of a Lowell, Mass., paper prints a communication from Miss B. in which she gives the same facts cited above, and says, "The young lady who sends us the following . . . has relatives in this city whom she has recently visited. We have no question of p. 92 the entire truthfulness of her statements, which we have heard orally and with more particularity." The communication is dated Oct. 22, 1860.
98:1 This communication was reprinted in full in "The Philosophy of P. P. Quimby," p. 25.
101:1 i.e. spiritistic.
102:1 The writer puts in his own opinion when he speaks as if Quimby had only wealthy and educated patients. This was not true. According to his own statement above, "medical" should be omitted in the last sentence.
104:1 What most impressed people who, like Capt. Deering, supposed Quimby would undertake to exercise some mesmeric control over their wills, was the fact that after making his intuitive diagnosis and giving his silent treatment he would put his patients in command of the curative principle and aid them to help themselves the first moment possible. This convinced them that he was no charlatan but a genuine friend to the sick.
105:1 This case shows the clearness with which Quimby discerned a patient's condition at a distance, also his skill in telling how long his absent work would take before the patient would be up and about.