Chapter VIII of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser
[Continued from last week.—editor.]
ONE WHO HAS BEEN RELIEVED.
[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 measureably 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 Creater 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 Mr. 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)
(1) This communication was reprinted in full in “The Philosophy of P. P. Quimby,” p. 25.
[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 similiar 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.
[This is the third 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.]
“At the time I am now speaking of, it showed itself in two large roses: one white and the other red, both on one side of her bonnet, the white above the red, showing her own love as pure white and the husband’s as red or bloody.” ~ Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
[Created by artist Mary Hughes, this original oil painting is available for purchase here.]
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond is the ultimate reference source for historically accurate information of this nineteenth-century clockmaker turned metaphysical teacher and healer. Including the Missing Works of P. P. Quimby; based on new and independent research by the editor, the present volume surpasses all previously published “complete” compilations of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby’s writings in size, scope and historical accuracy. Published by the Phineas Parkhurst Quimby Resource Center.
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We are covering a lot of ground today as we continue our exploration of chapter 8, CONTEMPORARY TESTIMONY, of Horatio W. Dresser’s 1921 publication of The Quimby Manuscripts.
While working on this chapter of his book, Dresser had access, and made use of, a scrapbook of newspaper clippings compiled by Phineas Quimby, his family, and friends. This scrapbook is now located in the Library of Congress collection of Quimby materials. Once again, I am providing you with hyperlinks to the full articles referenced here by Dresser.
Back in 2003, I borrowed microfilms of this Quimby collection through my local public library and printed out the entire scrapbook of newspaper clippings. (And much more!) I spent several weeks as I recall, scanning the copies into my computer; re-typing all of the articles into text files; and I uploaded the newspaper articles and images to this web site on September 7, 2003.
One common problem with microfilms is that they tend to show scratch marks after a period of usage, and these scratches show-up as horizontal lines going through the images. For this reason, and a lack of documentation, I was never completely satisfied with this section of our on-line archive.
In the ensuing years, I have obtained multiple copies of this scrapbook, and have been working at improving the quality and historical accuracy of this reference source for you. In the process of this work, I recently discovered that I had missed three articles and a stanza of poetry clipped and saved by Quimby and his helpers. These items are now included in our archive. I have also documented the actual publication of many or most of these articles, and better quality images are now included with each article.
This section of our on-line archive is here.
Next week, we will conclude our exploration of Chapter 8, and CONTEMPORARY TESTIMONY.
Follow along with us as we trace his footsteps!
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