January 6, 2013

THE MESMERIC PERIOD

    by Horatio W. Dresser
Another observer who was greatly impressed by Quimby’s public lectures, accompanied by experiments performed through the aid of Lucius, writes from East Machias, Feb. 1845, concerning experiments in private which he thinks more remarkable still. He says, in part:
“The power of perceiving the seat of the disease, and of describing the most minute symptoms which I do not guess but know, his subject possesses when in the mesmeric sleep is astonishing beyond words to express. He has examined my wife twice and . . . I venture to say that all have been perfectly satisfied that there is not the least deception in regard to the matter, but the most satisfactory proof of an extraordinary, I may almost say miraculous, insight. . .
Lucius [sees] every particular in regard to the internal struc­ture and state of the body, especially describing the causes of disease. . . . I write this without the knowledge or suggestion of Mr. Quimby, but hoping that hereby some who may receive inestimable benefit may not lose this opportunity. . . . Mr. Johnson has been put in communication with Lucius in public, and Mrs. Johnson this morning at our home, and he described with astonishing accuracy precisely the object which she had in her mind, which Mr. Quimby calls thought­reading, and which I am just as certain is real as that I am here and the sun shines today, and also things which she did not have in her mind in regard to the persons and places which she took him to visit in spirit. This if true, as has often happened to Mr. Quimby, will place the power of clairvoyance beyond the shadow of a doubt. [Lucius] has it beyond a shadow of a doubt as far as perceiving disease and every internal organ of the body is concerned . . . and we shall write immediately to discover [the facts of the things discerned through] clairvoyance.”
The following excerpt from the Bangor Democrat, April, 1843, gives us the date of Mr. Quimby’s first experiment away from his home town, not his “native” town, of Belfast.
“Mr. Quimby of Belfast has visited here by invitation, and made exhibitions in public for the first time out of his native town. Some of our citizens are well acquainted with him, and others are acquainted with citizens of Belfast who have the most entire confidence in him: it is therefore preposterous that he attempts to practice imposition.
“He has with him two young men, brothers, one 23 and the other 17. They are clairvoyant subjects. The first evening the experiments were not successful, but one made in private we will relate as a sample of the rest. The young man was magnetised by Mr. Quimby, when one of our citizens was put in communication with him. In imagination he took the boy to St. John, New Brunswick, before the new Custom House, and asking him what he could see, he said a building with a stone front and the rest of it brick. He then began to read the letters on it. ‘C-u-s-t-o-m. Oh, this is the Custom House.’ He then took him inside of the building and asked what he could see there, when he described the stone steps leading into the second story, the iron railing, curiously formed, and when taken into one of the rooms, de­scribed a man employed in writing.
“The gentleman says no one knew where he proposed to take the boy: the boy had never seen the building, and yet he described it as accurately as any one who has seen it. This gentleman’s word is not to be questioned by any one.
“Such was the experiment, and others can tell as well as I whether it was humbuggery, witchcraft, a juggler’s trick, magic, or the mysterious power that one person exerts over another. Real or unreal, it is extraordinary.”
The next excerpt, from the Waldo Signal, Belfast, Jan. 25, 1844, is typical of those indicating that a general effort was made to avoid all collusion and if possible to explain the strange phenomena.
“We learn from the Norridgewock Workingman of the 18th inst. that our townsman, Mr. P. P. Quimby, has recently been in that place lecturing upon the science of animal magnetism, and illustrating the subject by numerous experiments. On the evening of the 12th a committee was appointed, con­sisting of several of the most intelligent men of N. to scrutinize the experiments for the ostensible purpose of satisfying themselves and the audience that there was no deception in the matter. The result was highly satisfactory, Mr. Quimby showing no disposition to avoid any scrutiny required by the committee.”
Again, we have a letter confirming one of the experiments in clairvoyance. The letter is dated Eastport, Me., May 3d, 1845.
“Mr. Quimby,
“Sir: The lady you mesmerised at my house on Saturday last and then requested her to take you to her father’s house, a distance of about four hundred miles, you recollect, gave a minute description of the family and what they were about at that time. You also remember, I presume, that she stated that Mr. G., a member of the family died on the 14th ult., and that a Mrs. B., a particular friend of hers, had been there on a visit, was taken sick there, but had so far recovered that her brother had carried her home.
“On the Tuesday following her making the above statement she received a letter from her father in which he wrote that Mr. G. died about 8 o’clock, A. M. on the 14th of April, also stating that Mrs. B. had been there on a visit, and that she was taken sick so as to be obliged to stay a week longer than she intended, and that she had got so well that her brother had carried her home.
“You are aware that I have been sceptical about most of your mesmeric experiments. I therefore feel bound to give you the above statement of facts, and am willing you should show this to your friends. But I am not willing to have my name appear in print.”
[This is the second installment of a four part series originally written and published as Chapter IV. THE MESMERIC PERIOD, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]

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Editor's Corner

We are currently examining Phineas Quimby’s mesmeric period as outlined by Horatio W. Dresser in his 1921 publication of The Quimby Manuscripts. Quimby’s path to becoming an astonishing spiritual healer included traversing the popular mind sciences of his own timeframe. Follow along with us as we trace his footsteps!
Horatio Willis Dresser, the first child of Julius Alphonso Dresser and Annetta Gertrude (Seabury) Dresser, was born on January 15, 1866, or the day before Quimby died. His parents first met, fell in love and then married while they were each patients of Dr. Quimby during the years of his healing practice in Portland, Maine.
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