Chapter IX of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser
NORTH VASSALBORO, May, 26th, 1850.
Dr. P. P. Quimby,
DEAR SIR: I shall address you as the good Samaritan who came along and took me by the hand and opened my understanding, and took my disease from me in so remarkable a manner that I can say, Blessed be the name of the Lord for raising up such a servant as you are. It seems to me as though you took my disease, for it has never returned. But still I have many bad feelings to contend with, even to wrestling all day to the going down of the sun. I am still able to come out victorious over all bad feelings, for my health has been improving ever since you came to our house. I am now ten times as well as any living man could have supposed. I am able to walk over a mile a day without much inconvenience. [I have] only to think for a moment of the good Samaritan taking me by the hand and putting me on the road to health. . . . Only to think of my being almost four years a bed—keeper and now so well! Why, it is nothing short of a miracle. You can imagine how I am enjoying everything, sun, moon, earth, every living thing, never looked so grand, so beautiful or sublime. . . .
Your fame is still sounding as on the wings of the wind. Many questioners are asking about you. . . . I am saying it is the only true way whereby man can be healed. I am daily preaching your doctrines to the children of men. . . . I hope by strict attention to your rules to remain well.
[The letter concludes with references to sick people in the neighborhood who need Quimby’s treatment. The writer describes the maladies he labored under for years and the difficulties he encountered in travelling about and overworking. His statements indicate that he is a man well along in years, and that he has now taken a new start in life, with the realization that he is in possession of an intelligible principle to live by. Quimby early began the practice of treating silently at a distance. The following extract is with regard to a woman who was clairvoyant enough to see Quimby in the case of one of his mental visits.]
Last Friday evening, Oct. 3rd, between 7 and 10 o’clock, mother and a niece of hers, who is here on a visit, were sitting together talking, and this lady says she saw you standing by mother, about to lay your hand on her head. Just at that moment mother left the room, before her friend had told her what she saw, so your visit was interrupted. What was quite strange was that this lady described some of your characteristics, in looks and appearance, very accurately, although you have never been described to her. Mother wishes to know if you were really here in spirit at that time.
[Fortunately, a letter was preserved in which Quimby, under date of Oct. 3rd, wrote to the patient in question that he would visit her on that day, the day he was seen by the stranger. This letter was not sent and the patient did not therefore know that Mr. Quimby expected to visit her in spirit at that time. But it is evidence that the visit was real on Quimby’s part, and that it coincided with the time his presence was perceived by the stranger. In a letter written five days later, responding to the above, Quimby makes another appointment, adding, “If that lady is still with you, I will try to make myself appear to her eyes next Sunday, between 7 and 8 o’clock.” This was in the days when it was still important to prove beyond all doubt that a person’s presence could actually be perceived in this way, at an appointed time. Some would regard the instance in which Quimby was seen by a stranger without prearrangement as more significant than in the case of his plan to make himself “seen” at an appointed time.
The impression produced by some of Quimby’s more remarkable cures is indicated by a letter dated, Exeter, Feb. 18, 1858, in which the writer, David Barker, speaks of the case of a Mrs. Crane, who is described as “perfectly happy and free from all pain and care.” The writer goes on to say that the house is thronged by people anxious to witness a miracle, for a greater miracle was never performed since Christ raised Lazarus.” A few days later, writing to Dr. Quimby, Mr. Barker says:]
Whether by accident or not, you performed as great a miracle in my mother’s case as in Mrs. Crane’s. You will remember stopping there with my brother two weeks ago tomorrow night and examining her ankle, which was so badly broken eleven years ago. She has only stepped on her toes since, and that with the aid of crutches. Her foot was nearly straight on a line with her ankle. Immediately after you left she found that the contracted cords in her foot were all relaxed, and that she could put her foot square upon the floor and walk well without the aid of crutch or cane. She was at my house today, and although nearly seventy years old she convinced me that you had given her the use of her foot by dancing a regular “pigeon’s wing.” The whole country is crazy to have you visit us again.
[Several letters were written to substantiate the case of Maria Towne, of Lancaster, N. H. The first is from her father and bears the date of March 18th, 1860:]
My daughter was attacked with lameness and unable to walk, nine years last December. The physicians called it a disease of the hip, and treated her for the same. She partially recovered in six months. In ten or twelve months she appeared to be quite firm. Five years last September she had another attack in the hips and limbs that has given her severe pain up to this time, and baffled the skill of our physicians. . . . She has constantly been under the care of the best medical aid.
Last August she was attacked with a weakness in the eyes, and unable to see; had been kept in a dark room since the twenty—fifth of August. She has subsisted for the last six months on the value of from four to two teacups full of milk in twenty—four hours. She has not walked any for the last five and a half years, with the exception of a few steps five years ago this winter.
Through the solicitation of a friend, we sent for Dr. P. P. Quimby of Portland, who came to her Saturday evening, March 17, at 9 o’clock. The next day at one P. M., she got up from her chair alone and walked ten feet without assistance. She can now bear some light in the room, and begins to see quite well. She walked from her room to the dining—room with very little help this evening, to tea, and ate quite a hearty meal without causing her any pain.
[The second letter, signed Harriet F. Towne, is apparently from the mother, and is dated March 21, 1860.]
Thinking you would like to hear from Maria by this time, I hasten to inform you that she is in fine spirits, can have a little more light in the room; but cannot hold her eyes open any longer than when you were here. . . . She is all courage and walks a little every day, and enjoys her food very much. Maria wants to hear from you soon. Please write if that lady in Wayne walked last Monday, and if you come here often. Maria imagines you do. 1
1 The “lady in Wayne” was one whom Quimby treated absently while in Lancaster attending Miss Towne. Such cases were interesting to patients as well as to onlookers, because they gave evidence of the great healer’s power to make himself felt at a distance, and this was a new phenomenon in those days.
[The third letter is from the father, under date of April 1, 1860:]
Dear Sir: Maria gains strength a little every day. She has gained in one week ending last Thursday two and a half pounds in weight. She walks across the room six or eight times in a day with a little help. Her appetite is good. Her eyes grow stronger, she can have considerable light in the room. . . . There are several here that are anxious for you to see them. One man that is very much troubled with the phthsic wanted me to ask if you had any control over that disease. . . .
[This is the first installment of a two—part series originally written and published as Chapter IX. LETTERS FROM PATIENTS, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]
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Today, and then again next week, we are reviewing extracts of Letters From Patients, as Chapter 9, in Horatio W. Dresser’s 1921 publication of The Quimby Manuscripts.
These letters and more, are now housed in the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center of Boston University, Boston, MA., and provide testimonial evidences of the astonishing cures facilitated by P. P. Quimby.
I have photocopies of all of these letters, and I have read them, and personally transcribed them. Dresser has the date wrong on the first letter; it should be May 8, either 1850 or 1856.
We will conclude our review of this chapter in our next week’s newsletter.
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