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Topic: Quimby Manuscripts
Section: Chapter 08 - Contemporary Testimony, part 3 of 3
Table of Contents to this Topic
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.

[The following was inserted as an advertisement in a Portland, Maine, paper, Feb. 3, 1861, in gratitude for the work Dr. Quimby was doing.]


Disease is the great enemy of life. Even those who are free from it admit that they are liable to it and are in constant fear of the danger.

It is quite a new idea that disease cannot only be eradicated but annihilated, and might be questioned were it not daily proved by the practice of Dr. P. P. QUIMBY, of Portland, Maine, who has discovered an entirely new method of curing disease upon scientific principles, without the use of medicine or any material agency: also, without the use of mesmerism or any spiritual (1) influence whatever. He is constantly curing the more desperate cases of disease-paralysis, consumption, neuralgia yield to his control, and the deaf, blind and lame are made whole by a philosophy which is perfectly intelligent to themselves, and is able not only to rid them of present trouble, but also from the liability to disease in the future.

(1) i. e. spiritistic.

These statements are made without the knowledge of Dr. Quimby, for the benefit of any who, suffering from disease, have failed to find relief, and are left. without hope of finding assistance, by one who has been in that condition, but was saved by his cure from despair and death.

Dr. Quimby has, after years of patient investigation, discovered this new principle in metaphysics, which cannot fail to interest the well, and is of incalculable importance to the sick. But his superior knowledge and skill in applying it to the cure of disease is accompanied by such rare modesty of character that he has never taken any means to make himself known to the world, and therefore he is only known within the limits of the influence which his patients may hold in society.

As a token of gratitude to him, as well as for the benefit of any who may be suffering from disease, he is thus un?hesitatingly and publicly recommended.

[The name of E. Chase, Portland, is appended in ink to the following testimonial, clipped from the Portland Advertiser, 1860:]

Reader, did you ever see Dr. Quimby? You have heard of him. As a Doctor he is nondescript. He ignores all material medicines. He does not give the infinitestimal atoms of Homeopathy or bread pills. He repudiates all spiritual medicineship as he does the whole catalogue of pills and liquids recorded in the M. D.'s Materia Medics. These he asserts are all humbugs, and the works of darkness.

His patients come from the four winds of heaven . . . no, not from the South. The Doctor is a strong Union man; and would as soon cure a sick rattlesnake as a sick rebel. He has patients from all parts of New England, the Middle States, and the West. And his patients are all from the wealthier and educated classes. He has a large practice in this city and neighborhood. Most of his patients get well under his curative process, which differs from all other modes and theories of medical practice. (1)

(1) The writer puts in his own opinion when he speaks as if Quimby had only wealthy and educated patients. This was not true. According to his own statement above, "medical" should be omitted in the last sentence.

We have been boarding at the International Hotel, in this city, during the last six weeks, and we have witnessed some remarkable cases; as have all the regular boarders. We express no opinion about the modus operandi; except to say positively that the Doctor's practice, if it do not cure, can do no possible harm, as he gives no medicines.

[The Portland Evening Courier also took to reporting instances of Dr. Quimby's cures and giving space to articles by patients. Some of the latter were by Mrs. Eddy, then Mrs. Patterson, and are reprinted in another chapter. Mrs. Patterson's sonnet, also quoted elsewhere, was called out by the striking cure of Capt. Deering. Commenting on this cure, a writer in the Courier says:]

Persons who know but little of the theory or practice of Dr. P. P. Quimby are constantly misrepresenting both. The Doctor has received hundreds of testimonials as to the permanency and wonderful nature of his cures. The following statement from Capt. John W. Deering, of Saco, written by himself, will have great weight with those who know Mr. Deering, and it is published as much to refute statements made by some interested persons to the effect that the Doctor acts as a spirit medium and mesmeriser, as for the testimony it offers in support of the healing power which the Doctor claims to exercise, even in cases called chronic, and given over by old-school physicians.

[The editor also takes pains to say that this wonderful cure, one of many equally remarkable and astonishing cures which have come to his knowledge, is evidence of Quimby's theory, as "original and entirely distinct from spirit mediums and mesmerisers. . . . Below will be found Capt. Deering's statement."]

"Early in August, 1862, I was attacked with a slight pain in the small of my back, and immediately my right leg commenced drawing up, so that in ten days, while standing on my left foot, I could but just touch my right leg on the seat of a common chair. All this time I suffered great pain in my knee pan. I was attended by two of the best physicians in York County, who applied blisters, leaches, and cappings to my right thigh, with no effect except to increase the pain.

"I became entirely discouraged, when I heard of Dr. P. P. Quimby; and after many solicitations on the part of my friends I yielded to their entreaties and visited him. After an examination, he told me that the cause of my difficulty was a contraction of the muscles about the right side. Physicians that I had previously consulted had treated me for disease of the hip. Almost despairing of a cure, but willing to gratify the wishes of my friends, I remained in the Doctor's care.

Without calling on the spirits of the departed for aid, without mesmerism and without the use of medicines of any kind, he succeeded in completely restoring the muscles of my side and leg to their proper functions, and I am now as well as ever. I visited Dr. Quimby under the impression that he was some mysterious personage who had acquired a great reputation for curing diseases, and who must exercise some kind of mesmeric control over the will and imagination of his patients. But I am convinced that he is a skilful physician, whose cures are not the result of accident, but of a thorough knowledge and application of correct curative principles." (1)

SACO, Jan 8, 1863. JOHN W. DEERING

(1) What most impressed people who, like Capt. Deering, supposed Quimby would undertake to exercise some mesmeric control over their wills, was the fact that after making his intuitive diagnosis and giving his silent treatment he would put his patients in command of the curative principle and aid them to help themselves the first moment possible. This convinced them that he was no charlatan but a genuine friend to the sick.

[It is interesting, also, to note the zeal with which some took up the idea of absent treatment as a perfectly intelligible process in contrast with the difficult explanation offered by spiritists. The following is from a communication addressed to the editor of the Courier by a writer who signs himself, C. C. Whitney:]

"As spiritualism seems to be to many the only way of accounting for all phenomena of the present day, I thought it might be of some interest to your readers to state a case that came under my own observation, and I will leave the public to judge of the manner in which it was done.

"Two years ago last March, I sent to Dr. Quimby to visit my wife, then living in Wayne, in this state, who had been confined to her bed for over a year, and unable to lie on her left side, or raise herself in bed.

"The Doctor replied that he could not visit her in person, but would try an experiment, and wished me to keep him informed of his success. His plan was that on my receiving his letter be would commence to operate on her [absently,] and continue his visits till the next Sunday, when he would, between the hours of 11 and 12, make her walk. I received this letter Wednesday, and that night she was very uneasy and nervous, and the next day, Thursday, she was more comfortable, and turned over on her left side, a thing she had not done for nearly a year. She continued improving, and [I] sent the Doctor letters informing him of his success. On Sunday, not expecting her to rise, I attended church, and on my return I found her up and dressed. Between the hours of 11 and 12 she arose from her bed and walked across the room, returning to the bed, and then walked out into the dining room, and the next morning she took breakfast with the family, and continued to improve" (1)

(1) This case shows the clearness with which Quimby discerned a patient's condition at a distance, also his skill in telling how long his absent work would take before the patient would be up and about.

[The letter goes on to say that the patient suffered a partial relapse a year later, and her husband, being in Portland, called on Quimby for help; the help was given without informing the wife, and her husband reports that it was with success according to Quimby's predictions. Evidently, there had been no opportunity in this case for Quimby to converse with the patient and give her advice regarding her health. The editor, commenting on the above instance, thinks it invites explanation from those who would attribute it to spiritistic influences. The editor was much impressed by the genuineness of the explanation offered by Quimby in such cases, namely, that it was intelligent use of therapeutic power, not the agency of spirits; for he learned from a woman in Lancaster, N. H., that at the time appointed by Quimby for visiting Mrs. Whitney absently, Quimby, then in Lancaster, remarked that he "must go to Wayne to visit a patient." After retiring to the parlor for an hour, Quimby returned and said he had "got the lady up from her bed, and that she walked, and three persons were present in the room who witnessed it. Upon writing Mr. Whitney, it was found that he and two friends, who had accompanied him home from meeting were present at that time, and saw her walk." This again shows the clarity of Quimby's perception at a distance, also the fact that what he gave as facts could be verified.

A writer in another Portland paper, name and date not given in the scrap-book, after pointing out the usual misconceptions gathering around Quimby's name and declaring that Quimby is "always conscious of what he says and does," adds that]

"He takes as a starting-point that disease was never created by God, but has been made by the false opinions which have been given and believed by man, and he contends that disease can be cured by simply explaining to the patient wherein he has been deceived. . . . He says that if he cures at all he knows how he does it, and that all the power he exerts is simply in what he says to the patient, while sitting with him. [This of course involved the silent realization known as a treatment.] . . The Doctor also contends that if he can cure an individual case . . . he can produce the same effect by addressing himself to many at the same time. He has [the intention] of publishing his ideas at some future time, and also the idea of treating disease publicly, when he feels that the people are ready.

[It will be noticed that the writers in the above excerpts from the press uniformly speak of the fact that Dr. Quimby practised according to a "new principle," not by giving medicine or by making any material applications, and not by the use of mesmerism or spiritism. These excerpts have not been selected and published here because they are favorable, but because they are frank statements of Dr. Quimby's practice as it impressed contemporary observers. The newspaper ex?cerpt which shows the least understanding of Quimby's practice is the following from the Bangor Jeffersonian, 1856. This excerpt was republished in "The Philosophy of P. P. Quimby," 1895. When the writer quoted below uses the term "animal spirit," he is using his own term, not Quimby's, for this term was not employed by Dr. Quimby. What Quimby taught was that the false ideas and mental imagery causing the disease were directly impressed on the plastic substance of the mind, which included what we now call the subconscious. Quimby did indeed find the soul, (not the "animal spirit,") partly disconnected from the body in certain extreme cases, when the patient lay at the point of death, and he conversed with the soul, or, as he says in most of his writings, "the scientific man." The statement quoted below shows that it was difficult for some observers to under?stand what Quimby meant.]

A gentleman of Belfast, P. P. Quimby, who was remarkably successful as an experimenter in mesmerism some sixteen years ago, and has continued his investigations in psychology, has discovered, and in his daily practice carries out, a new principle in the treatment of disease. . . . His theory is that the mind gives immediate form to the animal spirit, and that the animal spirit gives form to the body. His first course in the treatment of a patient is to sit down beside him and put himself en rapport with him, which he does without producing the mesmeric sleep. He says that in every disease the animal spirit or spiritual form is somewhat dis?connected from the body, and that when he comes en rapport with a patient, he sees that spirit form standing beside the body; that it imparts to him all its grief, and the cause of it, which may have been mental trouble, or a shock to the body, or over-fatigue, excessive cold or heat, etc. This impresses the mind with anxiety, and the mind reacting upon the body, produces disease. . . . With this spirit form Dr. Quimby converses, and endeavors to win it away from its grief, and when he has succeeded in doing so, it disappears, and reunites with the body. In a short time the spirit again appears, exhibiting some new phase of trouble.

[The following is one of the last newspaper references to Dr. Quimby and his work in Portland, after he had announced his intention of retiring from his practice there, that he might revise his writings for publication. It was written by a former patient.]

It is with feelings of surprise and regret that many of your readers receive the announcement, given in your advertising columns, that Dr. P. P. Quimby has determined to leave Portland. The Doctor has been in this city for nearly seven years, and by his unobtrusive manners and sincerity of practice has won the respect of all who know him. To those especially who have been fortunate enough to receive benefit at his hands-and they are many-his departure will be viewed as a public loss. That he has manifested wonderful power in healing the sick among us, no well?informed and unprejudiced person can deny. Indeed, for more than twenty years the Doctor has devoted himself to this one object, viz., to cure the sick, and to discover through his practice the origin and nature of disease. By a method entirely novel, and at first sight. quite unintelligible, he has been slowly developing what he calls the "Science of Health;" that is, as he defines it, a science founded on - principles that can be taught and practised, like that of mathematics, and not on opinion or experiments of any kind whatsoever.

Hitherto he has confined his efforts to individual cases only, seeking to discover in them what disease is, how it arises, and whether it may not, with the progress of truth, be entirely eradicated. The results of his practice have been such as to convince him that disease, that great enemy to our happiness, may be destroyed, and that, too, on grounds and by a method purely rational; and he goes from us not to abandon the cause, we are rejoiced to learn, but to enter a broader field of usefulness, wherein he hopes not only to cure, but as far as he can, to prevent disease.

The path he treads is a new one and full of difficulties; but with the evidence he has already given, in numberless instances, of his extraordinary ability in detecting the hidden sources of suffering, we are led to hope he may yet accomplish something for the permanent good of mankind. An object so pure, and a method so unselfish, must, when understood, claim the favorable attention of all. We bid him God speed.
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