The Quimby Manuscripts, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, ed. by Horatio W. Dresser , at sacred-texts.com
We have noted the fact that Mrs. Eddy, then Mrs. Patterson, was a patient under Dr. Quimby's care during the period of his practice in Portland. At that time Mrs. Eddy was recovering from invalidism of long standing. Hence she was greatly handicapped at first. She had firmly believed in doctors and medicine, and accepted the conventional teachings in regard to disease. But while burdened with these allegiances she also possessed a strong desire to make the change to the new point of view as thoroughly and quickly as possible. To understand her relationship to Dr. Quimby and his teachings we need then to put ourselves appreciatively into the point of view of her inner life.
Dr. D. Patterson, Mrs. Eddy's husband, became interested in the new method of healing and urged his wife to consult Dr. Quimby. Two of his letters to Dr. Quimby have been preserved and are here printed in full.
Rumney, N. H., Oct. 14, 1861.
DEAR SIR: I have heard that you intended to come to Concord, N. H. this fall to stop a while for the benefit of the suffering portion of our race: do you intend, and if so, how soon? My wife has been an invalid for a number of years; is not able to sit up but a little, and we wish to have the benefit of your wonderful power in her case. If you axe soon coming to Concord I shall carry her up to you, and if you
are not coming there we may try to carry her to Portland if you remain there.
Please write me at your earliest convenience and oblige,
(Address) DR. D. PATTERSON,
No. 76 UNION ST., LYNN, MASS. Apl. 24th, 1865.
Dr. P. P. Quimby.
DEAR SIR: My wife arrived safely Sat. eve., and is greatly improved in her health, but says she did not settle with you. If you will send your bill by mail, I will send the balance due you by the same conveyance.
The first of these letters is especially important since it gives the date of the request for Dr. Quimby's treatment. Dr. Quimby's circular 1 deeply interested Mrs. Eddy and as he was unable to leave his practice in Portland to visit Mrs. Eddy in New Hampshire, Mrs. Eddy wrote personal appeals from Rumney, and from a water cure in Hill, N. H., whither she had gone for treatment but without avail. It is plain that Mrs. Eddy had now reached the limit of endurance and the end of her faith in material methods of treatment. No record of Dr. Quimby's answer has been preserved, but doubtless he wrote to her with all the more interest and conviction in view of the fact that she had given up hope in all other directions. For under such conditions he anticipated the best results.
There is no record of the exact date of Mrs. Eddy's arrival in Portland, hut one of Dr. Quimby's patients, still living, was present in the office when she came and distinctly remembers seeing the invalid assisted up the steps to his office. In the journal of Mr. Julius A. Dresser, under date of October 17, 1862, mention is made for the first time of this new patient, who manifested special interest in Dr. Quimby's teaching and was eager to converse with the patients who best understood the new theory. Mr. Dresser
devoted the larger part of his time at that period to conversations with patients, and it was natural that he should talk at length with Mrs. Eddy. These conversations were highly important because they gave Mrs. Eddy her first connected idea of Quimby's great truth.
First of all, Mr. Dresser could speak with the conviction of one whose life had been saved at the point of death with typhoid pneumonia. Again, he had seen the results in hundreds of cases,, since his own cure in June, 1860, and could substantiate whatever he said by describing the conditions and the appearance of patients when they first came for treatment and by telling how great were the changes wrought by Quimby's wisdom. Mrs. Eddy indicated her increasing interest in this "wisdom," and her desire to read a statement of it in Quimby's own words. Accordingly Mr. Dresser loaned her Vol: 1 of the manuscripts, as he possessed a copy in his own handwriting, this copy having been preserved with the others until the present time. 1
The turning-point with Mrs. Eddy, as with all who came to Dr. Quimby, was of course the silent spiritual treatment which she received at regular intervals during her stay in Portland. Dr. Quimby always depended primarily on this silent work to bring about the fundamental or decisive change, to overcome the adverse influences and start the reaction in favor of health. In Mrs. Eddy's case there were years of invalidism to overcome, together with the beliefs and habits which bound her to another mode of life. Hence a gradual change in consciousness and attitude followed upon the remarkable effects of the silent treatment which lifted her out of her invalidism. To understand what Dr. Quimby accomplished for her we should not only bear in mind that the silent treatment took her past the decisive point, but note that the conversations were in their way no less essential, and that these were made good by the many opportunities to listen to the reading of manuscripts, to hear discussions and to read the manuscripts herself. We have the direct testimony of those who were present during the conversations and readings in the office to the effect that Mrs. Eddy showed unusual eagerness to acquire all she could through these exceptional opportunities. Indeed her zeal seems at
times to have exceeded her understanding, for some of her letters indicate that she made ventures beyond her returning strength. She was nervously susceptible in type, easily took on the feelings or mental atmospheres of the sick. Hence the problem in her case was not merely that of the recovery of her health; it was to find a way to temperamental control so that she could apply the new "Science" and yet keep free.
After her return from Portland to Sanbornton Bridge (1863) she was not sure of herself in all respects and found it necessary to send for absent treatment on occasion, but she had begun to care for the sick by Quimby's method. Later, at Warren, Maine, (1864) she acquired the power to detect others’ feelings and atmospheres, had become accustomed to the feeling of Quimby's presence during absent treatments and had advanced to knowledge of that presence when there was no apparent reason for his coming.
It was at Warren that Mrs. Eddy gave her first public lectures expounding Quimby's views. She felt impelled to give these lectures because she found herself classified as a spiritualist and a public denial seemed necessary—she disclaimed any connection with phenomena involving rappings, trances, or any agency in healing the sick said to come from the dead, and contrasted Quimby's science of healing with Rochester rappings, spiritualism and deism in general. Her remarks attracted attention and a newspaper editor asked her for a communication on the subject.
Throughout this period, from the time of her acquaintance with Dr. Quimby by reputation and then as her healer in Portland and by means of "angel visits," Mrs. Eddy looked up to Quimby as the great discoverer and healer of the day, the one whose privilege it was to rediscover the truth which Jesus taught. She felt and expressed the profound gratitude and loyalty of one who had been marvellously restored to health. She made no claims for herself. She did not make light of Quimby's teaching or identify it with either mesmerism, magnetism or any other of the isms of the day, as we shall soon see more plainly, in her communication to a Portland paper. In fact, she showed herself more than an ardent disciple; she was eager to come to Quimby's defense, lest he should be misunderstood and classed with the isms and humbugs then current.
In order to depreciate Mrs. Eddy's indebtedness to Dr.
[paragraph continues] Quimby, some critics have tried to make out that she was not cured by him. The recurrence of weakness seems to confirm this. Mrs. Eddy several times wrote for absent healing, and on one occasion felt it necessary to return to Portland for treatment. She frankly confessed that she had temporary recurrences of former troubles. But the critics who make this charge overlook the fact that she was at the point of death when she first went to Portland, and the fact that she was brought out of that condition so that she could walk, as she herself says in her communication to the Courier, unaided after only a week's treatment; and that Dr. Quimby gave her the therapeutic impetus and the wisdom which carried her through to the point where she herself began to understand and to demonstrate.
Suggested by Reading the Remarkable Cure of Captain F. W Deering 1
For the Courier.
TO DR. P. P. QUIMBY
The confessions of weakness were evidences of the regenerative work in process, as she realizes when it comes to her that to see the great new truth and to live by it consciously are two different things. For the mere restoration to physical health was only the beginning. There remained the great problem of a temperament which made her unduly aware of the ills and feelings of others. The problem of one's temperament is not to be solved in a week. Hence
to Dr. Quimby she wrote as much of her weaknesses and failures as of her faith in his new Science that, seeing precisely where she stood, he might help her to take the next great step. Dr. Quimby always encouraged this frank statement of a patient's actual needs. Mrs. Eddy responded in full faith. Meanwhile her public lectures and her conversations with interested persons showed how strong was her belief that Quimby possessed the true Science of the Christ. This faith is shown, for example, in the sonnet written at the time of one of Dr. Quimby's great cures, and in her article in a Portland daily paper.
The following is from Mrs. Eddy's article published in the Portland Evening Courier in 1862. It plainly shows the writer's real attitude toward her restorer.
"When our Shakespeare decided that 'there were more things in this world than were dreamed of in your philosophy,' I cannot say of a verity that he had a foreknowledge of P. P. Quimby. And when the school Platonic anatomized the soul and divided it into halves, to be reunited by elementary attractions, and heathen philosophers averred that old Chaos in sullen silence blooded o'er the earth until her inimitable form was hatched from the egg of night, I would not at present decide whether the fallacy was found in their premises or conclusions, never having dated my existence be fore the flood. When the startled alchemist discovered, as he supposed, an universal solvent, or the philosopher's stone, and the more daring Archimedes invented a lever wherewithal to pry up the universe, I cannot say that in either the principle obtained in nature or in art, or that it worked well, having never tried it. But, when by a falling apple an immutable law was discovered, we gave it the crown of science, which is incontrovertible and capable of demonstration: hence that was wisdom and truth. When from the evidence of the senses my reason takes cognizance of truth, although it may appear in quite a miraculous view, I must acknowledge that as science which is truth uninvestigated. Hence the following demonstration:—
"Three weeks since I quitted my nurse and sick-room en route for Portland. The belief of my recovery had died out of the hearts of those who were most anxious for it. With this mental and physical depression I first visited P. P. Quimby; and in less than one week from that time I ascended
by a stairway of one hundred and eighty-two steps to the dome of the City Hall, and am improving ad infinitum. To the most subtle reasoning, such a proof, coupled, too, as it is with numberless similar ones, demonstrates his power to heal. Now for a brief analysis of this power.
"Is it spiritualism. Listen to the words of wisdom. 'Believe in God, believe also in me; or believe me for the very work's sake.' Now, then, his works are but the result of superior wisdom, which can demonstrate a science not understood: hence it were a doubtful proceeding not to believe him for the work's sake. Well, then, he denies that his power to heal the sick is borrowed from the spirits of this or another world; and let us take the Scriptures for proof. 'A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.' How, then, can he receive the friendly aid of the disenthralled spirit, while he rejects the faith of the solemn mystic who crosses the threshold of the dark unknown to conjure up from the vasty deep the awe-struck spirit of some invisible squaw?
"Again, is it by animal magnetism that he heals the sick? Let us examine. I have employed electro-magnetism and animal magnetism, and for a brief interval have felt relief, from the equilibrium which I fancied was restored to an exhausted system or by a diffusion of concentrated action. But in no instance did I get rid of a return of all my ailments, because I had not been helped out of the error in which opinions involved us. My operator believed in disease independent of the mind; hence, I could not be wiser than my teacher. But now I can see dimly at first, and only as trees walking, the great principle which underlies Dr. Quimby's faith and works; and just in proportion to my light perception of truth is my recovery. This truth which he opposes to the error of giving intelligence to matter and placing pain where it never placed itself, if received understandingly, changes the currents of the system to their normal action; and the mechanism of the body goes on undisturbed. That this is a science capable of demonstration becomes clear to the minds of those patients who reason upon the process of their cure. The truth which he establishes in the patient cures him (although he may be wholly unconscious thereof); and the body, which is full of light, is no longer in disease. At present I am too much in error to elucidate the truth, and can touch only the key-note for the master
hand to wake the harmony. May it be in essays instead of notes! say I. After all, this is a very spiritual doctrine; but the eternal years of God are with it, and it must stand firm as the rock of ages. And to many a poor sufferer may it be found, as by me, 'the shadow of a great rock in a weary land'."
The day following the publication of the above article, it was criticized by the Portland Advertiser; and Mrs. Eddy then wrote a second article, replying to the criticism. In it appeared the following paragraph, referring to Quimby and his doctrine:
"P. P. Quimby stands upon the plane of wisdom with his truth. Christ healed the sick, but not by jugglery or with drugs. As the former speaks as never man before spake, and heals as never man healed since. Christ, is he not identified with truth, and is not this the Christ which is in him? We know that in wisdom is life, 'and the life was the light of man.' P. P. Quimby rolls away the stone from the sepulchre of error, and health is the resurrection. But we also know that 'light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.'"
"These excerpts" says J. A. Dresser, "are in plain language, and they speak for themselves. The statements are made with too evident an understanding of their truth to be doubted or questioned, or afterward reversed in any particular. It should be borne in mind that your speaker was there at the time, and was familiar with all the circumstances she relates and the views expressed. The devoted regard the lady formed for her deliverer, Quimby, and for the truth he taught her, which proved her salvation, was continued to be held by her from this time (the autumn of 1862) up to a period at least four years later; for in January, 1866, Quimby's death occurred, and on February 15 she sent to me a copy of a poem she had written to his memory, and accompanied it by letter."
This letter, which was published in full in "The True History of Mental Science," 1887, was both an expression of gratitude and a personal appeal. Knowing that Mr. Dresser was Quimby's most enthusiastic follower, Mrs. Eddy expressed the hope that he would take up the work of their much-loved friend. She then goes on to speak of a fall on the sidewalk which left her momentarily unconscious.
When she was brought to, she found herself in a crippled condition like that which Dr. Quimby had cured in 1862. The attending physician declared that she would never walk again. But so firm was her faith in Quimby's principle that she was out of bed in two days, with the declaration that she would walk. Nevertheless she found that the mishap had thrown her back into the old associations for the time being, also that her friends were helping her back into the spinal affection from which she had suffered so long. In this state of suspense between opposing forces she appealed to Mr. Dresser for help, according. to Quimby's method of silent spiritual treatment. If another person were in her condition she believed she could give help in this way, that is, if the other had not attributed intelligence to matter. But despite her strung faith that all intelligence should be identified with Divine power, she found herself weakening. Hence her appeal to one who had followed Dr. Quimby with such ardor and understanding.
The poem, which had been printed in a Lynn newspaper, is as follows:—
LINES ON THE DEATH OF DR. P. P. QUIMBY, WHO HEALED WITH THE TRUTH THAT CHRIST TAUGHT, IN CONTRADISTINCTION TO ALL ISMS.
It is interesting to realize how much depended on the answer to that letter. Had Mr. Dresser decided to take up Dr. Quimby's work at that time, no one would have disputed
his right to do so or his worthiness, since he was the best fitted of Quimby's followers to succeed him. But, lacking the confidence to take over the work of a master hand, he expressed his unfitness and declined the opportunity which Mrs. Eddy's appeal put before him. There was then no resource for Mrs. Eddy save to apply the Quimby method in her own way.
On the other hand, as we have seen above, Mrs. Eddy was for sometime in the throes of proving Quimby's principle in her own way. With no healer to depend on, she had to look to that principle alone. She still remained loyal to Quimby. There is no reason for believing that her attitude toward him changed in any way until sometime in 1872. He was to her the modern representative of the great saving truths taught by Jesus. He had developed the method by which those truths could once more be applied to the healing of the sick. Her own necessity had proved the efficacy of that method anew. There was no reason for any revelation. There was no reason for any kind of claim in her own behalf. Her revelation was simply this: that when hard pressed she too could demonstrate the wisdom and power of the Science which Quimby had taught. It always comes to a person with the force of a revelation when one realizes that it is within one's power actually to apply a line of teaching which hitherto has seemed so wonderful that apparently its discoverer is the only person who can demonstrate it. This proof of his teaching was precisely what Dr. Quimby hoped his followers would make. For, as we have noted, he himself made no special claims. He knew that his teaching, fundamentally speaking, was eternally true. He knew that it was all to be found in the Bible. What he had discovered was a' new key to unlock supposed mysteries which had been kept from the world throughout the Christian centuries. Years of experience were required on Dr. Quimby's part to work out this Science and to prove its efficacy. Quimby's followers really demonstrated it for themselves only so far as they added to the great work wrought for them by Quimby the personal proof which experience must give. Mrs. Eddy's case was no exception. A challenging experience gave her the conclusive evidence that the Science of the Christ had been brought to light once more.
Some allowance must always be made for the personal
equation. Readers of the works of Rev. Warren F. Evans, the first author to produce a book on the rediscovered science of healing, have found in that writer's six volumes one type of interpretation of Quimby's teaching. Well versed in philosophy, the teachings of Swedenborg, and especially in the idealism of Berkeley, Evans put Quimby's views in terms of idealism, with scant emphasis on the realities of the material world. The interpretation made by Mrs. Eddy went farther in the same direction, that is, in her emphasis on the intelligence and power of spirit, as if the world of nature had no existence. The original sources of this interpretation, as based on Quimby's writings, have never been disclosed until the publication of the present volume.
The direct sources were "Questions and Answers," and Vol. 1 of the manuscripts, supplemented by notes based on the readings and conversations in Dr. Quimby's office. Given Mrs. Eddy's version of Christian Science as it is to be found in her various books, in "The Science of Man" and other small writings, and in the different editions of "Science and Health," including the first, the reader will be able to trace out her version of the Quimby theory from its inception. Given the present volume in its fulness, the reader will also see what the later version of Christian Science might have been had Mrs. Eddy enjoyed the benefit of all the Quimby manuscripts. For .he later writings are in various respects correctives of the view which underestimates the place and reality of the natural world.
It is not necessary to trace out the changes made in the writings which were in Mrs. Eddy's possession. The manuscript known as "Questions and Answers" 1 is the typical instance. With great care Miss Milmine 2 followed all these changes throughout the period which intervened between 1866 and 1875, when Mrs. Eddy, then Mrs. Glover, lived in Maine and in Stoughton, Mass. She has shown how "Questions and Answers" gradually became "The Science of Man, by which the sick are healed, Embracing Questions and Answers in Moral Science, arranged for the learner by Mrs. Mary Baker Glover," 1870. She has disclosed the fact that this manuscript was still attributed to Dr. Quimby while Mrs. Eddy lived in Stoughton, but that Mrs. Eddy
introduced a preface of her own which was later incorporated into the text, which in turn was put forth as Mrs. Eddy's (Mrs. Glover's) own during the period of her work in Lynn. Thus we have before us all the stages which led from entire fidelity to Quimby to the later attitude as expressed in "Science and Health" after the first edition. Then, too, in the New York Times, July 10, 1904, portions of "Questions and Answers" were printed side by side with passages from "Science and Health," together with a facsimile showing emendations in Mrs. Eddy's copy of the manuscript in her own hand. The article in the Times was conclusive evidence regarding this important transition from "Questions and Answers" to "The Science of Man." All that was needed to make the textual history complete was the publication in full of "Questions and Answers" in the present volume.
From all the evidence before us it is perfectly clear, that until sometime in 1872, at the close of her intermediate period, Mrs. Eddy maintained her attitude of loyalty to Quimby as expressed in her letters, 1862-65, and her newspaper contributions and lectures of those years. We find her in the Stoughton period still attributing "Questions and Answers" to him without qualification. After that time, as Miss Milmine has clearly shown, changes in terminology were gradually introduced, and Dr. Quimby was no longer mentioned as the writer and discoverer. What followed is not for us to chronicle here.
For our present purposes it is a question of the gradual development of Dr. Quimby's own views, which have reached a certain stage of clearness only in the case of "Questions and Answers." Dr. Quimby was not at his best when thus answering questions, but rather when giving the silent treatment and conversing with his patients. While Mrs. Eddy was limited to a few manuscripts, in so far as she copied or rewrote them for her own purpose as a teacher, she had also had the benefit of that decisive silent healing and the touch with a quickening personality which gave her the directive impetus for her own work. This is the main consideration. And this ought not to be lost sight of in our interest in tracing the vicissitudes of such a manuscript as "Questions and Answers."
For better or worse, that manuscript is Quimby's. We may read it as a secondary expression of what Quimby
believed, or we may read it to see just how it led to the development of the later Christian Science. One should guard against claiming too much either for this particular manuscript or for the use to which it was put by Mrs. Eddy. For no one who knows the facts from within has ever claimed that Dr. Quimby actually wrote Mrs. Eddy's book, "Science and Health." What has been claimed, and rightfully so, is that from Dr. Quimby in the period under consideration in this chapter Mrs. Eddy, then Mrs. Patterson, having been restored to health by the great healer, whom she publicly acknowledged as working by the truth which Jesus taught, acquired the essential ideas and methods which gave being to her version of Christian Science.
"Question and Answers," used as the basis for teaching for several years, was the connecting link. The "Science of Man" stands for another link in the chain of development, the first and second editions of "Science and Health" for other links. To understand all these in their connection is to understand the origin and the various expressions of the later Christian Science.
152:1 Fourteen of Mrs. Eddy's personal letters were found with the "Quimby Manuscripts." While we are not at liberty to print the text of these letters, it may be said that they corroborate the statements made in this chapter and elsewhere regarding the relations of Mrs. Eddy to Dr. Quimby and her acceptance of his theories.
153:1 See page 150.
154:1 See pages 179-229.
156:1 Printed from the original manuscript preserved by George A. Quimby. See Appendix.
162:1 See pages 165-178.
162:2 See Appendix page 435.