Chapter VIII of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser
[Continued from last week.—editor.]
“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)
(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 the entire truthfulness of her statements, which we have heard orally and with more particularity.” The communication is dated Oct. 22, 1860.
[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, be 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.
[This is the second installment of a four part series originally written and published as Chapter VIII. CONTEMPORARY TESTIMONY, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]
UNITED STATES HOTEL, PORTLAND, MAINE
This image of the United States Hotel in Portland, Maine, was clipped from a local newspaper by Phineas Quimby’s daughter, Augusta Quimby. Augusta spent a great deal of time with her father in Portland during his years there, and preserved her mementos in scrapbooks that now reside in a collection at the Belfast Historical Society and Museum, Belfast, Maine.
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Today we are continuing our exploration of chapter 8, CONTEMPORARY TESTIMONY, of Horatio W. Dresser’s 1921 publication of The Quimby Manuscripts.
For some reason, Dresser uses only the initials “F. C. B.” to identify the author of the first testimonial above. “Fanny C. Bass,” is the actual published name used in these source articles. Once again, presumably for the purpose of saving space in his book, Dresser has abridged these articles. If you would like to dig deeper, I have provided hyperlinks to the full articles with texts and images.
Many of Quimby’s patients became his friend, and Fanny Bass was no exception. There are five of her letters in the Boston University collection of Quimby materials.
Similarly to last week, this patient and the newspaper editors are making references to Quimby’s healing methodology with biblical overtones. We should further notice that there are no references to “mesmerism.” By this timeframe, Quimby has passed through his mesmeric period and is attempting to introduce his new spiritual science to the public.
If you follow the hyperlink to the Lowell Daily Citizen and News, published on Tuesday, October 23, 1860, you will find Bass reporting: “Dr. Quimby is continually doing just such things, and professes to have gotten hold of a science the world know not of, and believes the days of miracles are not passed.”
Next week, we will continue our exploration of Chapter 8, and CONTEMPORARY TESTIMONY.
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