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Topic: Quimby Manuscripts
Section: Chapter 08 - Contemporary Testimony, part 2 of 3
Table of Contents to this Topic
[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 sen?sitive 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 treat?ment 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 practi?tioner 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 prac?titioners 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.