October 21, 2012


    by Horatio W. Dresser

The only member of the little group not formerly a patient was Quimby’s son, George. Dr. Quimby hoped that his son would devote himself to “the Truth,” for George had exceptional opportunities as his father’s secretary during the Portland period to see the fruits of the new Science. Fortunately for us, George had an exceptional memory for all important details, he was conscientious to the limit in preserving the manuscripts until the time should come to fulfill all conditions and publish them, and his keen sense of humor was oftentimes the saving grace of the long-drawn-out controversy which began in 1883. He had as intimate knowledge of his father’s teachings and methods as one could have who had not himself demonstrated them by healing or being healed, or by teaching. His correspondence with inquirers discloses little interest in the spiritual side of his father’s teachings, and so he dwells rather on the mental theory of the origin of disease and its cure. But he well knew that what he calls the “religious” part of Mrs. Eddy’s book and church were her own, not his father’s, as greatly indebted as she was for the ideas and methods without which her work could never have come to be.

Quimby’s followers were remarkably free from hero-worship. Hence they did not put down wise sayings to any extent, did not make note of impressive incidents, and have not handed down material for the elaborate biography which some have hoped the editor of this book would write. All this is in perfect keeping with the truth which Quimby taught. It is disappointing to those who care little except for human anecdotes. It is taken as a matter of course by those who love truth above its prophets.

His patients tell us that Quimby had remarkable insight into the character of the sick. He judged character, not by external signs, not through reasoning from facts to conclusions, but by silent impressions gained as he rendered his mind open to discern the real life and “see it whole.” The quest for facts and the inventive ability of his earlier years became the love for truth regarding his patients and the creative insight of his constructive period. He was in the habit of telling the truth as he saw it, even if it aroused momentary resentment in the mind of his patients. If a patient was in bondage to medical or priestly opinion, he disclosed this servitude with startling directness. He addressed himself to the real or “scientific” man, summoning the true self into power.

One of his patients has said, “P. P. Quimby’s perceptive powers were remarkable. He always told his patient at the first sitting what the latter thought was his disease; and, as he was able to do this, he never allowed the patient to tell him anything about his case. Quimby would also continue and tell the patient what the circumstances were which first caused the trouble, and then explain to him how he fell into his error, and then from this basis he would prove...that his state of suffering was purely an error of mind, and not what he thought it was. Thus his system of treating diseases was really and truly a science, which proved itself... He taught his patients to understand... and [they were] instructed in the truth as well as restored to health.” 1

    1 J. A. Dresser, in “The True History of Mental Science,” revised edition.

That is to say, Quimby’s work, emulating that of Jesus, was fundamental and central. It began with bodily and mental healing, when this was called for first, as it was in nearly every instance. It became spiritual and regenerative if a person desired. For he could not compel a person to be born anew. He could but disclose the way persuasively. That his way was indeed persuasive was seen in the case of followers who came to him as a last resort, deeming him some sort of irregular practitioner, his method a “humbug,” and went away deeply touched by his spirit and the power of the great truths he had to give.

Some effort will be required to discern his inner type, on the part of those who have heard adverse opinions circulated about him during the long controversial years. It is by no means a mere question of doing him justice at last. He desired no credit, and there is no reason for underestimating what others have done in order to win recognition for him. His work and teachings were both like and unlike the teachings and work of his later followers. He undoubtedly possessed greater intuition and greater healing power than the therapeutists who have come after him. He did not stop with nervous or functional diseases, but more often healed organic disorders. A closet full of canes and crutches left by patients in his office in Portland in the last years of his practice testified to his remarkable power. His followers lacked the requisite confidence to try to heal as he did, while he was still with them. Later, when his ideas and methods began to become known outside of Maine and New Hampshire, the therapeutists who took up the work had to depend upon questioning their patients, and some of the early writers restated the Quimby philosophy in a much more abstract way.

The reader will see why the Christian Science of Mrs. Eddy’s type could not have come into being without Quimby’s work as healer and teacher, but will as surely see that what Quimby meant by “Science” was something greater and nobler. What was most original with Quimby was his method of silent spiritual healing, with its dependence on the Divine presence. Without this method neither Mrs. Eddy nor any other follower could have developed the special variations of the theory known as Divine or mental science. The present day disciple of mental healing will recognize much that is familiar in Quimby’s writings and will be deeply interested to learn how it all came to be; but will also notice that the language is different, and that far-reaching consequences will follow if this theory is taken seriously.

[This is the third installment of a four part series originally written and published as Chapter I. BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]

From the Archives:

The New Thought Bulletin

Published by the International New Thought Alliance

General Headquarters, 1713 K Street, N. W.


Vol. 27 No. 1        Washington, D. C.        January, 1944

"The History of New Thought"

The purely spiritual message of Jesus Christ began to be clouded over as the years passed and those who had known him personally disappeared. Early in the 4th century Christianity was made an established and subsidized church by Constantine, and after that the Spiritual Idea rapidly faded out. As the centuries passed, the Spiritual Idea would emerge from time to time here or there among small groups of people (of which the 17th century Quakers are probably the most notable) but it was not until modern New Thought appeared a hundred years ago in New England that the Spiritual Idea became fairly wide-spread in the world. This is really the Second Coming of the Christ prophesied by Jesus himself.

Like all significant movements it came into the race mind through several different channels at about the same time. No one person can be said to have "originated" it. Emerson may be regarded as the prophet of the movement. Phineas Parkhurst Quimby did practical healing in Portland, Maine, and taught several students who afterwards went out and spread the teaching in different ways. The New England Transcendentalist Movement was really part of the same current of thought, and included in addition to Emerson himself, Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Thoreau, Theodore Parker and others.

New Thought as such has always been a practical movement and has stood for healing, and in this respect gradually separated itself from those who were primarily concerned with philosophical speculation.

Doubtless, it was, in part, a reaction to the terrible Calvinism which had gripped New England for so long.

What we call New Thought is, of course, only the primitive New Testament teaching restated in modern form. It is essentially a Back-to-Jesus movement.

In the 1880's there were several independent leaders teaching New Thought. One of these, Mrs. Emma Curtis Hopkins, had a genius for inspiring teachers. She might be called the teacher's teacher. About 1886 she held a class of 15 or 20 people in Chicago and most of these students went out and started a movement of some kind for spreading the Truth. Several of today's well known organizations spring from that class.

New Thought or Christian metaphysics was taken to England in the late 80's by two or three people who had studied with Mrs. Hopkins, or independently. The best known was Frances Lord who wrote a text book that had considerable vogue in its day. Since that time there have always been several metaphysical centers in London. The best known has been the old Higher Thought Center which began in the late 90's in Kensington and is still continuing under the name of New Thought at 6 Henrietta Place, Cavendish Square. Miss Alice Callow, the original secretary, still lives in London and continues her interest in the movement. Judge Troward joined this center on his return from India, and delivered some of his lectures there.

The New Thought movement does not seem to have been influenced in any way by the other churches. Its approach to God is radically different. On the other hand, all the orthodox churches have been influenced to a greater or lesser extent by New Thought. New Thought ideas have been appearing more and more in sermons and religious books during the last forty years. Gradually, and almost unconsciously it has helped to wear down the old theology in its various forms, and today we find New Thought ideas (although not so designated) in religious writings of every kind. They also turn up regularly in newspaper editorials and political speeches. New Thought books are actually used in the pulpits of a number of orthodox churches today with credit being honorably given.

This kind of infiltration is the way in which the New Thought movement has chiefly influenced the world. The number of people calling themselves New Thoughters has always been comparatively small, but their indirect influence has been correspondingly large.

New Thought Centers have been most successful when the teachings has been kept strictly on the Christ lines, extraneous subjects being excluded, and where, in consequence, good healing work has been done. One good healing in a Center brings more converts then a hundred sermons.


Dr. Fox is the Pastor of the Church of the Healing Christ, New York City, which holds its Sunday and Wednesday services in the Manhattan Opera House. Dr. Fox is also a member of the Executive Board of the I.N.T.A.



Ella Pomeroy, Brooklyn, Chairman
Eleanor Mel, Boston
Ida Jane Ayres, Washington, D. C.
Elmer Gifford, Milwaukee
Emma J. Henderson, Texas
Daisy May Beckett, California


Fletcher Harding, St. Louis, Chairman
Emma M. Smiley, Victoria, B. C.
Erma W. Wells, Spokane
Ervin Seale, New York City
Lavinia Wyatt Garns, Minneapolis
Gladys Leight, Rochester, N.Y.
Maebel V. Carrell, Louisville
Florence E. Frisbie, Washington


Thomas Brindley, Boston, Chairman
Elizabeth Carrick-Cook, San Francisco
Florence E. Frisbie, Washington


Elizabeth Carrick-Cook, San Francisco
Harry Granison Hill, Cincinnati
Eleanor Mel, Boston
Ruth E. Chew, Calgary, Canada
Maebel V. Carrell, Louisville
Ervin Seale, New York City


Paul LaPrade, Providence, Chairman
Maude Allison Lathem, Los Angeles
James Dodds, Portland, Ore.
Amelia Randall, Minneapolis
Nona Brooks, Denver
Virginia Neuhausel, Washington, D. C.


Rev. Ruth Chew, Calgary, Canada,
Nona Brooks, Denver
Eleanor Mel, Boston
Paul LaPrade, Providence
Emma Smiley, Victoria, B.C.
Virginia Neuhausel, Washington, D.C.


Dr. John Seaman Garns, Chairman
Florence E. Frisbie, Washington, D.C.
Ruth Chew, Calgary, Canada
Louie White, Tulsa


Dr. James E. Dodds, Chairman
Florrie Beal Clark, Oklahoma City
Maude Allison Latham, Los Angeles
Maebel V. Carrell, Louisville


Ernest Holmes, Chairman
Brown Landone, Winter Park, Fla.
Elmer Gifford, Milwaukee
Irwin Gregg, Denver
Ervin Seale, New York City
Erma Wells, Spokane
Ruth Chew, Calgary, Canada
Lavinia Wyatt Garns, Minneapolis

Editor's Corner

Another new free section of Quimby Quotables is now available on our web site. Here is a sample:

Quotation by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

To see this collection, just click on the new “Quotes” tab on the top navigation bar of every web page, or this link: http://www.ppquimby.com/quotes/quotes001.htm

In Wisdom, Love and Light,
Ron Hughes

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