January 13, 2013

THE MESMERIC PERIOD

    by Horatio W. Dresser
Other letters express the conviction that the time for ridicule has passed: people should attend the public demonstra­tions, see for themselves, then bring the sick to be diagnosed by Lucius, that the real nature of their maladies may be learned. There is much testimony regarding Lucius’ wonderful clairvoyance in the mesmeric state, and always the conviction that there is no collusion. One of the letters is from Mr. Quimby himself, in which he refers to the case of a patient put into a state of sleep during three hours while an operation upon the teeth was being performed. The patient felt no pain. Mr. Quimby states that while the patient was asleep he told her mother that he would show her how he could talk with the daughter mentally. He then stepped toward the patient but did not put his hand upon her, merely sent her a thought. The patient thereupon laughed out in response to this thought and satisfied all in the room that it was an instance of thought-transference. This experience is significant, for it points forward to the time, presently to come, when Quimby will be able to dispense with his subject, and communicate directly either through telep­athy or by the aid of his own clairvoyance, apart from mesmerism.
The last letter of this period is dated Lowell, Sept. 26, ’47, and is an appeal addressed to Mr. Quimby to make an examination by the aid of Lucius of her husband’s body, with the hope that the cause of his sudden death may be deter­mined. Mr. Quimby assented, the examination was made, and in this instance the description is appended to the letter in Lucius's own words. Lucius describes the condition of the heart, which was somewhat enlarged, the state of the lungs and stomach, liver, blood, and so on. He says, “This I write while I am in communication with Mr. Quimby in the magnetic state.”
Later, when reading over what he has written, he realizes that his description as there given does not show why death came about suddenly, and so he returns to the description, still confining his statement to an account of symptoms, and the probable sensations experienced just before death. This is what we might expect from a clairvoyant whose power consisted for the most part in making wonderfully accurate descriptions of things, events, states and conditions, or in reading thoughts in a person’s mind; never the interpretation of these states in terms of their real meaning. This remained for Quimby himself to discern when, having found the limitations under which Lucius made these descriptions, he saw the difference between mere symptoms and inner causes. Lucius might describe the actual state of an un­tenanted body, and throw a little light on the feelings its owner may have had just before he left the flesh; but he could not tell the whole story. His descriptions raised as many problems as they appeared to solve. His clairvoyance was remarkable. But it was the perception of an inferior mind in a passive condition. What was needed was intuition, showing the real state of the individual behind all these symptoms.
Fortunately, for our present interests, there still exists a personal journal in which, beginning December 26, 1843, Lucius noted down matters of interest during his travels with Mr. Quimby. Most of these details are with reference to the towns visited, the interest or credulity aroused by the experi­ments, or the people met along the way. Plainly Lucius has no theory concerning his own powers. He accepts and uses the term “magnetism” or “magnetised,” as matter of con­venience, without manifesting any interest to inquire what is behind. He is aware that Mr. Quimby possesses power over him, but that fact neither troubles nor interests him. Apparently, he was glad when the public exhibitions were successful, and he notes that scepticism is overcome. But there he always leaves the matter. One concludes that Lucius had exceptional receptive powers, so that under other auspices he might have been a spiritistic medium; but that he was almost entirely lacking in analytical power. Consequently, Lucius merely states facts and then leaves them. What he says concerning things discerned by him in the mesmeric state is probably what he could recall when he heard Mr. Quimby and others talking about his descriptions, when awakened into his normal condition.
For example, we find him referring to some of Mr. Quimby’s cures in the early period when Quimby himself still believed that “magnetism” had something to do with them. “Quimby,” he writes, “has been doing miracles. He has cured a man that couldn't walk nor speak. It has produced a great excitement here among the people. He [the patient] has been confined to his house about a year, and never has spoken or walked. In one hour [Mr. Quimby] made him walk about the room and speak so as to be heard in another room.”
Referring to the prevalent scepticism, he writes on another occasion: “As a general thing we didn’t find the people so bitter upon the subject of animal magnetism as we thought we should. We generally had the most influential men of the place upon our side of the question, and as a general thing satisfied all sceptics beyond a doubt.”
Two years later we find Lucius still noticing this scepticism, and remarking that the people seem to be very bitter upon the subject of magnetism. “But,” he continues, “we have satisfied a great many, some very hard cases. This afternoon I examined Mr. Hooper. Thought the kidney and uthera was diseased. Said there was a seated pain in the lower part of the abdomen, also a pain in the small of the back. Thought the pain in the small of the back was caused by sympathy with the kidneys. Recommended a plaster of Burgundy pitch to be worn upon the back. Told him not to drink cold water, for it did not agree with the kidneys. Also examined Mr. Pillsbury’s wife. Examined head and pronounced the brain diseased, said there was a congestion of the brain and large clots of blood laid upon the brain, and it would produce convulsions and fits. While I was examining her head she had one of these fits, as I was told by Mr. Quimby.”
It is interesting to note that Lucius frequently says merely what he “thought,” and draws upon his own opinions. For example, he writes, “Examined Mrs. Barker. Said there was a difficulty in the blood, described one of the valves of the heart as being thicker than the other. Thought she didn’t have exercise enough. Said the valve being deranged caused the blood to stop. Was asked what sensation it produced. Said it produced a faintness, said this was the great difficulty; thought there was no other functional or organic disease. At the same time examined Mrs. Bennett. This (as I understood from the Doctor) was a nameless disease.”
In another case Lucius discerns what he takes to be spinal complaint and expresses the opinion that the patient “will never get well,” although he once more recommends a “plaster of Burgundy pitch,” to be put upon the small of the back for relief. These statements show how limited is the range of his own thought in the matter. He tells us nothing whatever concerning inner causes, and nothing about the general state of mind of those he examines. All this remained for Mr. Quimby to discover.
Plainly, Lucius’s ability is more manifest when it is a question of describing material things, under the suggestion of some one in the audience who mentally tells him where to travel in spirit. Thus he speaks of being “put in communication with Mr. Buck, and being taken by him to his house.” Lucius described the room, “and saw a map lying upon the floor, and told the audience that before he left his house he put a map upon the floor.” These descriptions were con­vincing to the audience, because they proved that Lucius could actually see at a distance.
Lucius also had mind enough to follow Mr. Quimby’s lectures to some extent, for he speaks of one occasion when the lecturer “spoke of mind, and how the mind was acted upon while in the mesmeric state.” The most significant statement is that Quimby, in his remarks, “clearly demonstrated that there was no fluid, and he showed the relation between mind and matter.” But, in confession of his own lack of interest in this striking demonstration, Lucius simply goes on to say, with only a comma between, “I have been having a chit chat with a very pretty girl her name is Abey Redman but mum is the word.” (1)
(1) This sentence, a characteristic one, is given exactly as found in the journal.
[This is the third 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.]

Quotation by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby


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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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