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.]
How does spiritualism differ from mesmerism? The word mesmerism embraces all the phenomena that ever were claimed by any intelligent spiritualists. The spiritualists claim that they get knowledge from the dead through living mediums.
Do not mesmerisers do this? Surely. Then what is the difference? In the ignorance of the people.
I will give some facts which have come under my own observation. When I first commenced mesmerising about sixteen years ago, the most of my experiments were of the following kind: after getting my subject in a mesmerised state I would try some simple experiment, for instance, imagine some person or animal which he would describe. I would then put him in communication with some person of the company, and let that person carry him to some place which he would describe. In these experiments it would often happen that he would get intelligence from some person of whom the company knew nothing. At other times the audience would like to have me send him after some one’s lost friend. This I used to do but tried to make them understand that it was the reflection of their own thoughts.
In these experiments I had an opportunity to see and hear the different opinions and beliefs of mankind in regard to whether he really saw the person that he would describe or not. I found that my own opinion could have but little effect upon the mind of the audience. Their religious opinions would govern in most all cases. Sometimes when the experiments would embrace the friend of an infidel I would confuse him some; but I found that all persons were inclined to believe just about as their religious opinions were. I also found that my subject’s religious opinions were just about like the person’s opinions that he was in communication with.
If they professed religion to the world and were a hypocrite at heart, the subject would find it out, and the same was true of the subject. I had one subject who was very religious when awake, but when asleep was just the opposite.
I will here relate an experiment when on the Kennebec I had my subject in the sleep. I then requested any of the company to bring me the name of any individual dead or alive, and the subject would find him. A name was accordingly handed me. I passed it to the subject. He took the paper on which the name was written and read the name aloud. At this time the subject was blindfolded so that it was impossible for him to see with his natural eyes. I then told him to find the person. I will relate his own story.
He said, “This is a man.” “Well,” said I, “find him and talk with him.” In a short time he said, “I have found him.” I asked, “What does he say?” He answered, “He was a married man, had a wife and three children, was a joiner by trade; left his tool chest in a barn, and left between two days, went to Boston, stopped a time, left for the state of New York, worked there for three years, and then died; has been dead three years.”
I told him to bring him here and describe him. He went on to give a general description of a man, and I told him that if there was anything peculiar in his appearance that differed from all others to describe it. “Well,” said he, “there is one thing in which he differs from any one else in the room. He has a hair lip.” This was the fact.
Now as there was no knowledge among the people of the principle by which this was done, the people were left to their own judgment. So I left them arguing, some trying to prove it was the man’s spirit, some calling it humbug and collusion. Others went away and told what they saw and heard.
This kind of experiment I was trying almost every day for over four years.
I then became a medium myself, but not like my subject. I retained my own consciousness and at the same time took the feelings of my patient. Thus I was able to unlock the secret which has been a mystery for ages to mankind. I found that I had the power of not only feeling their aches and pains, but the state of their mind. I discovered that ideas took form and the patient was affected just according to the impression contained in the idea. For example, if a person lost a friend at sea the shock upon their nervous system would disturb the fluids of their body and create around them a vapor, and in that are all their ideas, right or wrong. This vapor or fluid contains the identity of the person.
Now when I sit down by a diseased person I see the spiritual form, in this cloud, like a person driven out of his house. They sometimes appear very much frightened, which is almost always the case with insane persons. I show no disposition to disturb them, and at the last they approach me cautiously, and if I can govern my own spirit or mind, I can govern theirs. At last I commence a conversation with them. They tell me their trouble and offer to carry me spiritually to the place where their trouble commenced.
I was sitting by a lady whom I had never seen until she called upon me with her father to see if I could help her. The lady had all the appearance of dropsy. I took her by the hand. In a short time it seemed as though we were going off some distance. At last I saw water. It seemed as though we were on the ocean. At length I saw a brig in a gale. I also saw a man on the bowsprit, dressed in an oil—cloth suit. At last he fell overboard. The vessel hove to and in a short time the man sank. This was a reality, but it happened five years before. Now to cure the lady was to bring her from the scene of her troubles. This I did and the lady recovered.
I often find patients whose disease or trouble was brought on by religious excitement. I went to see a young lady during the Miller excitement. She was confined to her bed, would not converse with any person, lay in a sort of trance with her eyes rolled up in her head, took no notice of any person; the only thing she would say was that she was confined in a pit, held there by a large man whose duty it was to hold her there, and she said to me, “I shall never die, nor never get well.” She had been in this condition for one year, refused all nourishment, and was a mere skeleton at the time I went to see her. This was her story when I got her so as to converse. I sat down by the lady, and in about an hour I saw the man she had created, and described him to her, and told her that I should drive him away. This seemed to frighten her, for she was afraid for my safety. But when I assured her that I could drive the man away she kept quiet. In three hours she walked to the door, and she recovered her health.
I could name hundreds of cases showing the effect of mind upon the body. Some will say it is spiritualism. Others will say it is not. When asked to explain where the difference lies, the only answer is, that the mesmeric state is produced by some other person than the subject, while the spiritualist is thrown into this state or trance by spirits. Now the fact is known by thousands of persons that this mesmerising oneself has been common ever since mesmerism has been known, therefore there is nothing new in that. So it is with questions put to any spiritualist.
Let us now examine the proof of its being from the dead. A person is thrown into an unconscious state: while in this state the spirit of some person purporting to come from the dead enters the body and addresses itself to the company, telling some story which the company knows nothing of.
When roused from the trance he is asked if he was conscious of what he had been saying or doing. To this question they nearly all say, “No.” The company is left in the same condition as in the mesmeric experiments. Some call it mesmerism, some spiritualism.(1)
(1) Quimby gives evidence of his increasing clairvoyant and psychometric power in the above. This power made him more interiorly receptive than either a “medium” or a “subject,” hence he had the clue to both. Moreover, he could cast out an obsessing idea.
[This is the second 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 continuing to explore the EARLY WRITINGS of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby as outlined in chapter 7 of Horatio W. Dresser’s, The Quimby Manuscripts. The original first draft of Spiritualism and Mesmerism, penned in Quimby’s own handwriting, is located in the Library of Congress collection of Quimby materials.
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