Chapter VII of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser
[These articles and letters are taken from a manuscript book containing copies of “pieces,” as they are called, written previous to the first volume of articles, which was begun in October, 1859. Most of the pieces were written before 1856. They were copied by Miss Emma Ware from the originals, and are here printed without any changes whatever. (Horatio W. Dresser)]
[Continued from last week.]
It may be somewhat strange to you to hear something of the mode of curing disease by a person who does not believe in any disease independent of the mind. (2) I am acquainted with a person who does not give any medicine at all, and yet he is in the constant practice of curing persons afflicted with all diseases flesh is heir to. He not only discards medicine but disease also, contends that all disease is in the mind, and that the cure of disease is governed by a principle as much as mathematics, and can be learned and taught. His ideas are new, not like any person’s I ever heard or read of, and yet when understood by the sick they are as plain and evident as any truth that can come within a person’s senses. His ideas are compared to that which troubles the sick, not to persons well; for those who are well need no physicians. He is not a spiritualist as is commonly understood, believing that he receives his power from departed spirits. But he believes the power is general and can be learned if persons would only consent to be taught. (1) He has no mystery more than in learning music or any science which requires study and practice. It cannot be learned in a day nor in a month, yet nevertheless it can be learned. He has spent sixteen years [1840-1856] learning and yet he has just begun.
(2) Dr. Quimby here speaks of himself in the third person.
(1) That is, it is from the infinite Spirit or Wisdom, as Quimby later called it; not from any “spirit.”
I will here state what has come within my observation. A friend of mine by the name of Robinsom, of N. Vassalboro, had been sick and confined to his house for four years, and nearly the whole time confined to his bed, not being able to sit up more than fifteen minutes during the day. Hearing of Mr. Quimby, for this is his name, he sent for him to visit him. He arrived at Mr. R’s in the evening and sat down, and commenced explaining to Mr. R. his feelings, telling him his symptoms nearer than Mr. R. could tell them himself, also telling him the peculiar state of his mind and how his mind acted upon his body. His explanation was entirely new to Mr. R., and it required some argument to satisfy Mr. R. that he had no disease; for he had been doctored for almost all diseases.
His eyes were so swollen that it was impossible for him to see. His head had been blistered all over, and large black spots came out all over his body. Therefore to become a convert to his theory was more than Mr. R. could do. But Q. told him he stood ready to explain all he said, and not only that but to prove it to his satisfaction; for, said he, the proof is the cure, and R. was not bound to believe any faster than he could make him understand, and the cure is in the understanding.
So Mr. Quimby commenced taking up his feelings, one by one, like a lawyer examining witnesses, analyzing them and showing him that he [had] put false constructions on all his feelings, showing him that a different explanation would have produced a different result. In this way Quimby went on explaining and taking up almost every idea he ever had, and putting a different construction, till R. thought he did not know anything.
Mr. Q’s explanation, said R. . . . “was so plain that it was impossible not to understand it. Not one of his ideas was like any that I ever heard before from any physician, yet so completely did he change me that I felt like a man who had been confined in a prison for life, and without the least knowledge of what was going on out of the prison received a pardon and was set at liberty. At about ten o'clock I went to bed, bad a good night’s rest, and in the morning was up before Q. and felt as well as ever. Q. and I went to Waterville the next day. I had no desire to take to my bed, and have felt well ever since.” This is R's own story.
[Quimby then goes on as if writing for a third person.]
I was well acquainted with Mr. R. and know these facts to be true. This is the case with a great many others where I was not acquainted with the parties, and I was induced to go to Belfast to see if he [Quimby] could talk me out of my senses, for I thought I had a disease. At least it seemed so to me, for I had had for the last ten years a disease which showed itself in almost every joint in my limbs. My hands were drawn all out of shape. My neck was almost stiff. My legs were drawn up, my joints swollen and so painful it was impossible to move them without almost taking my life. I could not take one step nor get up without help. It would be impossible to give any account of my suffering.
When I arrived at Belfast I sent for Mr. Quimby. He came, and after telling me some of my feelings said, “I suppose it would be pretty hard to convince you that you had no disease independent of your mind.” I replied I had heard that he contended all disease was in the mind, and if he could convince me that the swelling and contraction of the limbs and the pain I suffered was in my mind, I would be prepared to believe anything.
He then commenced by asking me to move my legs. I replied that I could not move them. “Why not?” said he. Because I have no power to move them. He said it was not for the want of physical strength, it was for the want of knowledge. I said I knew how to move them but I had not strength. As he wished me to try, I made an effort, but without the slightest effect. He said I acted against myself.
He then went on to explain to me where I even thought wrong, and showed me by explaining till I could see how I was acting against myself. In the course of a short time I could move my legs more than I had for three years. He continued to visit me and I am gaining as fast as a person can. I have been under his treatment for two weeks, and I can get up and sit down very easily. I can see now that my cure depends on my knowledge. Sometimes he asks me if I want some linament to rub on my cords or muscles. I can now see the absurdity of using any application to relax the muscles or to strengthen them. The strength is in the knowledge. This is something that he has the power to impart. But how it is done is impossible to understand. Yet I know the knowledge he imparts to me is strength, and just as I understand so is my cure. (1)
(1) This is one of the first endeavors on Quimby’s part to take up the point of view of a patient consulting him by showing how strange the new method seemed. It will be noticed that in his letters Quimby does not yet clearly distinguish between the mind, and the nervous activities and disturbed circulation of the blood. He needs an intermediate term to show that thought produces actual changes in the substance of the mind, and then subconsciously in the body. Later he uses the peculiar term “spiritual matter” to cover the activities which lie between, and says less about the changes in the “fluids.” When he apparently identifies the mind with the fluids, in one letter, he is not then teaching materialism, but vaguely arguing for mental causation. The form “mind” is always used in a subordinate sense, with reference to that part of our life which is nearest the body. Dr. Quimby’s higher term is “wisdom.” Our wisdom is wholly distinct from the nervous “fluids” and troublesome mental states.
[This is the fourth and final installment of a four part series originally written and published as Chapter VII. EARLY WRITINGS, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]
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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Today we are concluding our exploration of the EARLY WRITINGS of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby as outlined in chapter 7 of Horatio W. Dresser’s, The Quimby Manuscripts.
Next week, we will move on to Chapter 8, and CONTEMPORARY TESTIMONY.
Follow along with us as we trace his footsteps!
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