Chapter XI of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser
1These letters have been somewhat condensed to avoid repetitions.
[Continued from last week.—editor.]
A LETTER REGARDING A PATIENT
Yours of Aug. 27th was received, after a long journey through the state of Maine. I will give you all the information that I am aware I possess.
If certain conditions of mind exist, certain effects will surely follow. For instance, if two persons agree as touching one thing, it will be granted. But if one agrees and the other knows not the thing desired, then the thing will not be accomplished.
For example, the lady in question wishes my services to restore her to health. Now her health is the thing she desires. Her faith is the substance of her hope. Her hope is her desire, it is founded on public opinion, and in this is her haven, the anchor to her desire, public opinion the ocean on which her barque or belief floats. Reports of me are the wind that either presses her along to the haven of health or down to despair. The tide of public opinion is either against her or in her favor. Now, as she lies moored on the sea, with her desire or cable attached to her anchor of hope, tossed to and fro in the gale of disease, if she can see me or my power walking on the water, saying to her aches and pains, “Be still,” then I have no doubt that she will get better. The sea will then be calm, and she will get that which she hoped for her faith or cure. For her faith is her cure. . . . This is the commencement of her cure. I, like Jesus, will stand at her heart and knock. If she hears my voice or feels my influence, and opens the door of her belief, I will come in and talk, and help her out of her trouble.
PORTLAND, Sept, 17th, 1860. P. P. Q.
TO A GENTLEMAN REQUESTING HELP WITHOUT A PERSONAL INTERVIEW
In answer to your inquiry, I would say that, owing to the scepticism of the world I do not feel inclined to assure you of any benefit which you may receive from my influence while away from you, as your belief would probably keep me from helping you. But it will not cost me much time nor expense to make the trial. So if I stand at your door and knock, and you know my voice or influence and receive me, you may be benefited. If you do receive any benefit, give it to the Principle, not to me as a man, but to that Wisdom which is able to break the bonds of the prisoner, set him free from the errors of the doctors, and restore him to health. This I will try to do with pleasure. But if this fails and your case is one which requires my seeing you, then my opinion is of no use.
Portland, Oct. 20th, 1860. P. P. Q.
TO A CLERGYMAN 1
1Printed in part in “Health and the Inner Life,” p. 60.
Oct. 28th, 1860.
Your letter of the eighteenth was received, but owing to a press of business I neglected answering it. I will try to give you the wisdom you ask. So far as giving an opinion is concerned, it is out of my power as a physician, though as man I might. But it would be of no service, for it would contain no wisdom except of this world.
My practice is not of the wisdom of man, so my opinion as a man is of no value. Jesus said, “If I judge of myself, my judgment is not true: but if I judge of God, it is right,” for that contains no opinion. So if I judge as a man it is an opinion, and you can get plenty of them anywhere.
You inquire if I have ever cured any cases of chronic rheumatism. I answer, “Yes.” But there are as many cases of chronic rheumatism as there are of spinal complaint, so that I cannot decide your case by another. You cannot be saved by pinning your faith on another’s sleeve. Every one must answer for his own sins or belief. Our beliefs are the cause of our misery. Our happiness and misery are what follow our belief. So as we measure out to another, it will be measured to us again.
You ask me if I ascribe my cures to spiritual influence. Not after the [manner of] Rochester rappings, nor after Dr. Newton’s way of curing. I think I know how he cures, though he does not. I gather by those I have seen who have been treated by him that he thinks it is through the imagination of the patient’s belief. So he and I have no sympathy. If he cures disease, that is good for the one cured. But the world is not any wiser.
You ask if my practice belongs to any known science. My answer is, “No,” it belongs to Wisdom that is above man as man. The Science that I try to practice is the Science that was taught eighteen hundred years ago, and has never had a place in the heart of man since; but is in the world, and the world knows it not. To narrow it down to man’s wisdom, I sit down by the patient and take his feelings, and as the rest will be a long story I will send you one of my circulars, so that you may read for yourself.
Hoping this may limber the cords of your neck, I remain, Yours, etc.,
P. P. QUIMBY
[The circular reprinted below is the one referred to in this letter. It was in circulation for some years before Dr. Quimby began to practise in Portland, and had blank spaces to be filled in by the name of the town and the location of Quimby’s office.]
TO THE SICK 1
1Published in part in “The True History of Mental Science.”
Dr. P. P. QUIMBY would respectfully announce to the citizens of .................... and vicinity, that he will be at the .................... where he will attend to those wishing to consult him in regard to their health, and, as his practice is unlike all other medical practice, it is necessary to say that he gives no medicines and makes no outward applications, but simply sits down by the patients, tells them their feelings and what they think is their disease. If the patients admit that he tells them their feelings, &., then his explanation is the cure; and, if he succeeds in correcting their error, he changes the fluids of the system and establishes the truth, or health. The Truth is the Cure. This mode of practice applies to all cases. If no explanation is given, no charge is made, for no effect is produced. His opinion without an explanation is useless, for it contains no knowledge, and would be like other medical opinions, worse than none. This error gives rise to all kinds of quackery, not only among regular physicians, but those whose aim is to deceive people by pretending to cure all diseases. The sick are anxious to get well, and they apply to these persons supposing them to be honest and friendly, whereas they are made to believe they are very sick and something must be done ere it is too late. Five or ten dollars is then paid, for the cure of some disease they never had, nor ever would have had but for the wrong impressions received from these quacks or robbers, (as they might be called,) for it is the worst kind of robbery, tho’ sanctioned by law. Now, if they will only look at the true secret of this description, they will find it is for their own selfish objects—to sell their medicines. Herein consists their shrewdness!—to impress patients with a wrong idea, namely—that they have some disease. This makes them nervous and creates in their minds a disease that otherwise would never have been thought of. Wherefore he says to such, never consult a quack: you not only lose your money, but your health.
He gives no opinion, therefore you lose nothing. If patients feel pain they know it, and if he describes their pain he feels it, and in his explanation lies the cure. Patients, of course, have some opinion as to what causes pain—he has none, therefore the disagreement lies not in the pain, but in the cause of the pain. He has the advantage of patients, for it is very easy to convince them that he had no pain before he sat down by them. After this it becomes his duty to prove to them the cause of their trouble. This can only be explained to patients, for which explanation his charge is ............ dollars. If necessary to see them more than once........... dollars. This has been his mode of practice for the last seventeen years.
There are many who pretend to practice as he does, but when a person while in “a trance,” claims any power from the spirits of the departed, and recommends any kind of medicine to be taken internally or applied externally beware! believe them not, “for by their fruits ye shall know them.”
[This is the fifth and final installment of a five—part series originally written and published as Chapter XI. LETTERS TO PATIENTS AND INQUIRERS, 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.
The “Comments and Reviews” page is here.
Live outside the United States? Contact us for international shipping rates at
Today we are reviewing the fifth and final installment of a five—part serial review of Chapter 11, LETTERS TO PATIENTS AND INQUIRERS, of the 1921 publication, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser.
Before delving deeper into one of the letters included in our discussion today, I would like to mention that a transcription of Quimby’s circular To The Sick is available on our web site, along with a microfilm image of the actual document. You can view it here.
Our primary focus will be on the Letter to a Clergyman. There are four copies of this letter in the scattered collections of Quimby documents. There are two copies in the Boston University collection; one copy in the Library of Congress collection; and one additional copy in the Harvard University collection. These collections and microfilm designations are identified in the Primary Resources section of our publication, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond.
I have again gone back and freshly transcribed this letter for today’s discussion. This comes from the Boston University collection, on microfilm reel number 3, frame number 0570.
In this letter, Quimby is responding to an inquiry that he received from an unnamed clergyman.
Letter to a clergyman.
Portland, Oct. 28th, 1860.
Your letter of the 18th was received in due season but owing to a press of business, I neglected answering it. I will try to give you the wisdom you ask. So far as giving an opinion is concerned it is out of my power as a physician, though as man I might, but it would be of no service, for it would contain no wisdom except of this world.
My practice is not of the wisdom of man, so my opinion as a man is of no value. Jesus said, if I judge of myself my judgment is not good: but if I judge of God, it is right, for that contains no opinion. So if I judge as a man it is an opinion and you can get plenty of them anywhere.
Here Quimby is paraphrasing Jesus from John chapter 8, verses 15 and 16. “Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” (KJV)
You inquire if I have ever cured any cases of chronic rheumatism? I answer, yes: but there are as many kinds of chronic rheumatism as there are of spinal complaints, so that I cannot decide your case by another. You cannot be saved by pinning your faith on another’s sleeve. Every one must answer for his own sins or belief: our beliefs are the cause of our misery and our happiness and misery is what follow our belief. So as we measure out to another, it will be measured to us again.
You ask me if I ascribe my cures to spiritual influence? Not after the Rochester rappings, nor after Dr. Newton’s way of curing. I think I know how he cures, though he does not. I gather from those I have seen, who have been treated by him, that he thinks it is through the imagination of the patient’s belief. So he and I have no sympathy in common. If he cures disease, that is good for the one cured, but the world is not any wiser.
I would like to call your attention to Quimby’s reference to Dr. Newton, and his assessment of Newton’s methodology. We will explore this in detail below. Continuing the letter:
You ask if my practice belongs to any known science? My answer is, no, it belongs to wisdom that is above man as man. The Science I try to practice is the Science that was taught eighteen hundred years ago, and has never had a place in the hearts of man since, but is in the world and the world knows it not. To narrow it down to man’s wisdom, I sit down by the patient and take his feelings and as the rest will be a long story, I will send you one of my circulars, so that you may read for yourself.
Hoping this may limber the cords of your neck I remain
P. P. Q.
If you will reflect on this for a moment, you might come to understand the radical nature of this letter that Quimby has written to a clergyman. Quimby is claiming to this minister, that he is practicing the same science employed by Jesus, eighteen hundred years earlier. We can also infer that this is a teachable science, and others can practice it as well.
This brings us to Quimby’s reference of Dr. Newton. James Rogers Newton, a contemporary of Quimby, advertised himself as “Dr. J. R. Newton,” a “magnetic healer.” In many ways, Newton’s healing practice sounds incredibly similar to that of Quimby’s, and it is no wonder this clergyman might question Quimby about the similarities.
Newton practiced variously in New York, Boston, and Cincinnati, as well as other locations. He would even show up in Portland, Maine, several months after Quimby closed his practice there in 1865.
However, when you scratch the surface of Newton’s methodology, you will find sharp differences.
A reporter for the New York Herald interviewed Newton for an article that appeared in the July 2, 1861 issue of that newspaper. Of Newton’s history as a healer, the reporter wrote, “At the early age of ten years he first conceived the idea that he was possessed of the healing power in a great and extraordinary degree.” In other words, this seems to be more of a gift or magic, than a healing methodology or science that could be taught to others.
Still, the reporter continued to quiz Newton about his healing art:
On being questioned as to his means of curing, he stated that it was utterly impossible for him to convey any adequate idea of the vitality which he brings into use. He was satisfied that he possessed this curing power in his system to such a degree that it would be impossible for him to operate upon a diseased subject without imparting to him a considerable portion of his vital force.
In treating a patient all he does is to lay his hands on him, and rub the affected parts with considerable vigor; the sufferer of course wincing and dodging under the powerful and unaccommodating arm of the operator. On these occasions the muscles of his body become distended to a surprising extent, the flexers and extensors of his arm becoming as firm as a whip cord. In cases of deafness, he places a piece of white and another of blue flannel over the ears and head, manipulates rapidly for several minutes, and then blows into the ear.
In fact, Newton’s physical manipulations were so strenuous, that he was arrested for assault and battery of a three-year-old child in 1862. The Boston Herald reported that the incident took place in Philadelphia, where the child’s father took her to be treated by Newton, for the swelling of the knee caused by a fall. It was charged that in the course of Newton’s manipulations of the child, he violently raised her feet while pressing the upper part of her body downwards—and fractured her spinal column in the process. The child’s father reported that he heard “something snap.”
In the interest of historical accuracy, it should be noted that Newton also claimed his methodology was the same used by Jesus and his disciples, but Newton portrayed this as a gift, rather than a science that could be learned and taught by others. Newton also failed to distinguish the difference between Jesus as a natural man, and the indwelling Christ consciousness, that is available to every person.
As late as June 4, 1875, or more than 9 years after Quimby’s transition, Newton was still advertising himself in the Portland Daily Press, as “DR. NEWTON, THE GREAT Magnetic Healer, and Clairvoyant Physician.”
This same advertisement continues, “The Doctor’s Terms for Advice, Medicine and Prescription will be $1.00, which places it within the reach of all, so the poor as well as the rich may alike receive the benefit of the Dr.’s gift.” (Emphasis added.)
In our July 14, 2013 issue of our Science of Wisdom newsletter, I pointed out that Quimby had rejected the concepts of “magnetized water, silk, silk handkerchiefs, cedar twigs, other articles, and the entire magnetic fluid theory,” in Booklet 4 of his Lecture Notes, from the mid or late 1840s. Quimby’s exact words are, “Yet I have been compelled to reject them all…”
It would seem, that Dr. J. R. Newton, is “J. R.,” the subject of Quimby’s article, Clairvoyance—A Detective in Disease, and Clairvoyance—A Detective in Disease—Supplemental, the latter article being published for the first time in Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond.
It would further seem that Quimby’s assessment of Dr. Newton’s healing methodology is historically accurate.
This concludes our review of Chapter 11, LETTERS TO PATIENTS AND INQUIRERS, of The Quimby Manuscripts.
My purpose of this review is to focus on Phineas Quimby, so I will skip over Chapter 12, MRS. EDDY: 1862—1875, and next week, we will move on to Chapter 13, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
In Wisdom, Love and Light,
P.S. Do you have your copy of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond as of yet? This is our flagship publication, and within its pages, you will find a great source of Quimby information that is published for the very first time!
Stop by our Book Store and see all of our publications!
You may now keep in touch with us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PPQuimby and follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ppquimby. Our YouTube Channel is http://www.youtube.com/ppquimby and visit our Gift Shop on Zazzle here.
As a reminder, notification of our Science of Wisdom newsletter can be delivered to your email address each week at no charge. Just go to the Phineas Parkhurst Quimby Resource Center at http://www.ppquimby.com, and use the sign-up form that is found on nearly every page.