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Fr. Quimby is known as the founder of "New Thought". This series of documents, published in 1921 in response to a campaign to question its early role in Christian science, shows that Quimby has anticipated many of the key ideas of both movements.
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THE QUIMBY MANUSCRIPTS
PHINEAS PARKHURST QUIMBY
First digital edition 2017 by Gianluca Ruffini
TABLE OF CONTENTS
EDITOR’S PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
- 1. BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
- 2. HISTORY OF THE MANUSCRIPTS
- 3. QUIMBY’S RESTORATION TO HEALTH
- 4. THE MESMERIC PERIOD
- 5. THE PRINCIPLES
- 6. THE INTERMEDIATE PERIOD
- 7. EARLY WRITINGS
- 8. CONTEMPORARY TESTIMONY
- 9. LETTERS FROM PATIENTS
- 10. LETTERS TO PATIENTS
- 11. LETTERS TO PATIENTS AND INQUIRERS
- 12. MRS. EDDY 1862-1875
- 13. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
- 14. CHRIST OR SCIENCE
- 15. THE WORLD OF THE SENSES
- 16. DISEASE AND HEALING
- 17. GOD AND MAN
- 18. RELIGIOUS QUESTIONS
- 19. SCIENCE, LIFE, DEATH
THE QUIMBY-EDDY CONTROVERSY
The book as a whole contains an adequate statement of Quimby’s original theory as found in his manuscripts, 1846-65. The volume also contains the writings, hitherto inaccessible, which Mrs. Eddy borrowed during her stay in Portland as Quimby’s patient. The editor is a son of Mrs. Julius A. Dresser, who was the most active of Quimby’s followers at the time Mrs. Eddy was under treatment and who loaned Mrs. Eddy the copybooks which made her acquainted with the Quimby manuscripts.
EDITOR’S PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
FOR many years a mass of documents of interest to Christian Scientists and to their critics as well, has been withheld from publication, although earnestly sought. These documents were written by Dr. P. P. Quimby, of Portland, Maine, and contain his views regarding mental and spiritual healing. They became familiar to Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy when she visited Dr. Quimby as a patient, and it has been charged by her critics that many of the ideas later promulgated in her teachings were born of the Quimby theories.
In order to set this controversy at rest, many attempts have been made to gain access to the Quimby manuscripts, but heretofore without success except in piecemeal or disjointed form. The present editor, however, has been fortunate in securing from Mrs. George A. Quimby, owner of the manuscripts, permission to print the documents in full. Many of them now see the light of the printed page for the first time. Others give a full and authentic version of material from which only short extracts have previously appeared.
The editor’s point of view is that of the expositor, never critical save as the author of the manuscripts might have criticized his own work. All subject-matter in brackets is by the editor, also all footnotes. Italics and quotation-marks have been introduced to a slight extent.
Scriptural quotations have not been corrected, because Dr. Quimby was in the habit of paraphrasing in order to show how he interpreted the Bible. Some of the articles have been condensed to avoid repetition, but no material changes have been made. The terms Science, Truth, Wisdom, have been capitalized throughout in conformity with the usage in some of the articles in which these words are synonyms for Christ, or God.
The same is true of the general terms for Quimby’s theory, the Science of Health, the Science of Life and Happiness. The term Christian Science is used with reference to the growth of the original teaching of Jesus.
In this edition, several errors have been corrected and Chapter twelve has been re-written. H. H. W. DRESSER
- 1. BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
WHEN a man of ability and influence in the world has been misrepresented, a golden opportunity is put before us. Once in touch with his spirit, we may have the good fortune to catch his vision, see the marvels he might have achieved had he lived until our day, his genius recognized, his truth made our own. It will not then be necessary to devote much time to the controversies which have grown up around his name.
Such an opportunity is put before the truth-loving world in the case of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, gone from among us since January 16, 1866. He was not great as some account greatness. We need not praise him to do him justice. But he loved his fellowmen, lived and labored, and laid down his life for them. He was a very genuine lover of truth, and faithfully stood for a great truth of surpassing value for humanity. Whoever does this is worthy of our endeavors to put his work in its real light. Because he was persistently misrepresented, the world demands to know the full truth about him, and in knowing it may come into surer possession of his gift to humanity.
Because Dr. Quimby, as he was called by his patients and friends, has been put in a false light for many years, he is given opportunity to speak for himself, in his own words, from his letters, manuscripts and other documents, preserved precisely as he left them. Time has kept for our purposes everything needed to make the record complete.
Quimby’s writings were not meant for publication, although their author hoped to revise them for a hook, and he had already written experimental introductions. The lapse of time has brought many changes of thought, hence notes and explanations are necessary. The therapeutic movement which grew out of Quimby’s pioneer work has also undergone changes. Time has shown that the original teachings have come to possess a value which might not have been theirs had they been published fifty years ago. Now that the teachings are given to the world, many new estimates will be made. The majority of us are little accustomed to thinking in terms of inner experience without the embellishments of literary art or the interpretations of sects and schools; and some effort will be required to take up the point of view of a writer who wrote precisely as he thought.
There is little to add to the biographical sketch published by his son George A. Quimby, in the New England Magazine, March, 1888, so far as external details are concerned. Quimby was born in Lebanon, New Hampshire, February 16, 1802. When two years of age his home was moved to Belfast, Maine, where he spent his boyhood days without noteworthy incident. The family home remained in Belfast. There Quimby began his first investigations in mental phenomena. Thither he went for rest and change in the years of his greatest activities as spiritual healer in Portland, and there his earthly life came to an end, after more than twenty years devoted to the type of work which gives him title to fame among original minds.
His education in the schools was so meagre that he did not learn to spell and punctuate as most writers do. But when he misspelled he did so uniformly, and his phonetic spellings are convenient means of identification in his manuscripts. The same is true of his peculiar use of words. In one of his papers he says, with reference to his education, that if he has learning enough to convey his ideas to the world that will suffice. Had he been granted the opportunity as a young man, he would naturally have sought the best training in the special sciences, as that was the tendency of his mind. But there are other sorts of education which some of us value more. If to be educated is to have power to quicken in men and women knowledge of themselves, love for spiritual truth and love for God, then indeed he was educated in high degree. The significant fact is that with only a common-school education, and with but slight acquaintance with the ages of human thought, Quimby made the best use of his powers and grappled with the greatest problems with clear insight. To see why he came to believe as he did is to pass far beyond the external facts of his biography, and turn to his inner life with its outreachings.
Quimby early manifested ability as an inventor, but his mechanical interests do not explain him. So, too, in his occupation as watch and clockmaker there is no hint of his peculiar ability in discerning the human heart. His power as inventor was limited by his interest in mechanics. Before the period of his experiments in mental phenomena there is only one incident of any significance recorded, the recovery of his health in part without the aid of medicine; but even in this case his meagre account fails to tell us whether the change was in any sense permanent. It was not until his investigations were well begun that he wholly regained his health and began to see that health is a spiritual possession. But in reviewing this introductory period of his life everything once more depends on what we call education. Inventive or creative ability, combined with love for facts, the facts and laws of the special sciences, is a splendid beginning if one is to devote maturer years to establishing a spiritual science. Perhaps it was Quimby’s love for natural facts which kept him from ignoring the existence and reality of the natural world, when he became absorbed in the study of the mind.
Quimby’s mind was scientific in the good sense of the term. He did not stop many years in the domain of mechanics. He was not content with letters patent as signs of his ability. Nor was he satisfied with studies in mesmerism, spiritism and kindred phenomena. The impressive fact is that he continued his researches until he laid the basis for a new structure in the world of thought. During the period of his preliminary investigations he read books on the sciences to some extent. But with the beginning of his life-work he branched out in a new direction, working entirely alone, amidst opposition and with no books to help him. His more productive years should therefore be judged by his high ideal of a spiritual science.
His great love for truth, his desire to prove all things for himself, is then the most prominent characteristic of his early manhood. Apparently, those who knew him well in the early years of his life in Belfast saw nothing peculiar or exceptional in him. Hence there is nothing recorded that gives us any clue until, putting aside conventional standards of thought, we seek the man’s inner type, the sources of his insight in the Divine purpose. Yet there is an advantage in being known by one’s fellow townsmen as honest, upright, dedicated to practical pursuits, and by no means peculiar. For when Quimby took up a study that was unpopular, he was a prophet with honor in his own country. From his home town, he went forth to engage in public experiments, well recommended. And in his own town he began the practice of spiritual healing, winning there the reputation which led him to move to Portland, in 1859, and enlarge his work.
Was he a religious man? In one of his articles he says, “I have been trying all my life, ever since I was old enough to listen, to understand the religious opinions of the world, and see if people understand what they profess to believe.” Not finding spiritual wisdom, he was inclined to be sceptical, and later spent much time setting his patients free from religious beliefs. George Quimby tells us emphatically that his father was not religious in the sense in which one might understand the term religion as applied to organizations, churches and authorized text-books. We shall see reasons for this distinction as we proceed. But if to believe profoundly in the indwelling presence of God as love and wisdom, if to live by this Presence so as to realize its reality vividly in the practice of spiritual healing, is to be religious, then indeed few men have been more truly religious than he. Those of us who have known his chief followers have felt from them a spiritual impetus coming from his work which surpasses what we have elsewhere met in actual practice.
After he ceased to experiment with mesmerism, and began to study the sick intuitively, he took his starting-point in religious matters from the state in which he found his patients. He found many of them victims of what we now call the old theology. The priests and ministers of that theology were to him blind guides. Hence, as he tells us, he made war on all religious opinions and on all priestcraft. Jesus was to him a reformer who had overcome all his religion before beginning to establish “the Truth or Christ.” Quimby was very radical in opposing doctrinal conceptions of Christ. He uniformly called Jesus “a man like ourselves,” that he might win for the Master new recognition as the founder of spiritual science. To him “the Science of the Christ” was greater than a religion.
Did he allow his own personality to become a centre of interest and admiration? Not at all. He realized of course that his patients would look up to him as to any physician who had restored them to health when there was apparently no hope. So, he sometimes freely spoke of his “power or influence.” But this was to divert attention from doctors and medicines. He then disclosed the way to his great truth, and kept his “science” steadily before his patient’s mind. His manuscripts contain scarcely a reference to himself save to show what he learned from early investigations, why lie is not a spiritualist, humbug or quack, and why he believed man possesses “spiritual senses” in touch with Divine wisdom. Thus he often speaks of himself in the third person as “P. P. Q.” not “the natural man,” but the one who has seen a great truth which all might understand.
In his constructive period in Portland, Quimby had around him, not ardent disciples who compared him with the great philosophers or with Jesus, but a small group who defended him against misrepresentation, and regarded him as he wished to be regarded, as a lover of truth. His patients became his special friends, and it was to those most interested that he gave forth his ideas most freely. The Misses Ware, who did most of the copying of the manuscripts and made changes in them according to his suggestions when he heard them read, were especially fitted for this service, since they brought forward no opinions of their own and were devoted to this part of the work. So, too, Mr. Julius A. Dresser, who spent his time after his own recovery, in June, 1860, conversing with new patients and inquirers, explaining Quimby’s theory and methods, was particularly adapted to aid the great cause to which his life was dedicated. A few followers wrote brief articles for the press, but none had the confidence to undertake any elaborate exposition, hoping as they did that the manuscripts would soon be given to the world and that these would disclose the new truth in its fulness.
It has been supposed that Quimby did no teaching, and this is true so far as organized instruction is concerned. But he did the same kind of teaching that all original men engage in, he conversed with his followers, speaking out of the fulness of experience and with the force of native insight. Thus he began the educational part of his treatment as soon as his patients were in a state of mind to listen responsively. Then he explained his “Truth” more at length as responsiveness grew and interest was awakened. Coming out of his office filled with insights from his latest sitting, he would share his views with interested groups. Sometimes, too, his essays would be read and the contents discussed. His writings were loaned to patients and followers who were especially interested, and after February, 1862, copies of his “Questions and Answers” were kept in circulation among patients. The Misses Ware and Mr. Dresser had freer access to the writings and were in a position to make supplementary explanations. In a way, this is the best sort of instruction in the world, this teaching by the conversational method when the works and evidences in question are immediately accessible to those interested to follow the implied principles and learn all they can.
This was the way in which the author of “Science and Health” received her instruction. Mrs. Eddy, then Mrs. Patterson, had the full benefit of these exceptional opportunities. Soon after she had sufficiently recovered from her invalidism to give attention to the principles of which she had witnessed such an impressive demonstration in her own case, she manifested great interest in the new truths. Mr. Dresser, who understood Quimby’s ideas and methods particularly well, talked at length with her, and later loaned her Vol. I of the manuscripts, printed in Chap. XIV. We learn from George Quimby who, as his father’s secretary, was always present, that she talked at length with Dr. Quimby, in his office, at the close of the silent sittings. She was present in the groups of interested listeners above referred to. She heard essays read and discussed. Submitting some of her first attempts at expressing the new ideas in her own way, she also had the benefit of Dr. Quimby’s criticism. Then too she had opportunity to copy “Questions and Answers,” on which she was later to base her teachings. We have direct testimony on all these points from those in regular association with Dr. Quimby, and from those who knew Mrs. Eddy when she was noting down remembered sayings and modifying manuscripts preparatory to teaching. Here, in brief, was the origin of Mrs. Eddy’s type of Christian Science as she later gave it forth in successive editions of “Science and Health.” Her indebtedness was that of the student to the teacher with an original mind. Our interest is to note Quimby’s power of quickening such responsiveness by sharing his insights, contributing his peculiar terms, and explaining his methods.
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 fulfil 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)
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.
No ideas of value spring into fulness of being from the human brain. If we realize that in all discoveries there are periods of groping, followed by times of readjustment or assimilation, and then a constructive period, we shall expect the same in the case of Dr. Quimby. He needed his mechanical interests and his love of invention as incentives to progress of sufficient power to carry him beyond allegiance to medical science. Then his interest in mesmerism, awaking with the beginnings of that subject in 1838, becoming more active in 1840, and leading to his public exhibitions, 1843-47, afforded opportunity for a yet greater reaction against prevailing points of view and yielded problems enough for many a year. Next came his intermediate period, 1847-59, with its gradual assimilation of new-truths, the development of a new method of treating the sick, and the first expressions of his “Science of Health.” Finally, came the constructive period, coincident with the years of his greater work among the sick, in Portland, 1859-65, and continuing to the time of his death, in Belfast, January 16, 1866. He was a public experimenter for four years only. He was a mental and spiritual healer from 1847 through the long period when he was acquiring his original views about life and health. Thus, we have before us an inner history from small beginnings, in place of an alleged “revelation.”
It will be necessary to give some attention to the mesmeric period, 1843-47, for two reasons. First, because it put Mr. Quimby in possession of those clues which he was to follow until he rejected the hypotheses of mesmerism and animal magnetism, and developed a theory and method of his own; second, because the assertion has been made that he never passed out of this period, but remained until his death a mere mesmerist and magnetic healer (whatever that may be). The fact that there was a long intermediate period, 1847-59, will be a surprise to those who have supposed that one could suddenly acquire ideas and methods of greatest value. The fact of a gradual mental and spiritual development will be to some the conclusive evidence that they are learning the full “true history” of the discovery of Christian Science.
The “Quimby writings” are now published because they are unquestionably the most important contributions to the subject, because they show how the modern theory and practice of spiritual healing came into being. From the point of mere arguments in the light of history these writings were surpassed by the works of Rev. W. F. Evans, who acquired Quimby’s ideas when a patient under his care in Portland, in 1863. The underlying theory has been greatly elaborated since his time. The same ideas and methods have been applied in fields which he did not enter. Quimby was, if you please, a pioneer and specialist, devoted to truth as his own insight led to it, without regard to prior teachings save those of the New Testament. But it still remains impressively significant that entirely alone in an unfriendly age, he acquired ideas and discovered methods which gave him title to fame. His writings therefore have a special value of their own.
We have incorporated some of Quimby’s letters in the volume because they prepare the way for the articles and essays by showing Quimby’s great love for facts. In these letters Quimby shows himself a friend of the sick. He tells his patients precisely where they stand in such a way as to encourage true faith and well-grounded hope. He writes about symptoms in some detail because his patients must first know that they are getting well physically, because they need tangible evidence, and do not yet understand how he can diagnose their cases intuitively and heal them at a distance. He shows that he wishes those only as patients who will take him in entire good faith, responding willingly to his efforts. Hence, he returns money when patients seem to be purchasing his skill as healer. He aims above all to point the way to his Truth or Science.
Disciples of mental healing who have taken their clues from Divine Science or Mrs. Eddy’s version will think they are hearing about an inferior theory, because matters of fact are made prominent in Quimby’s writings instead of the anticipated idealism and the affirmations or denials to which they are accustomed. But they are likely to be unmindful of the unfriendly age in which Quimby worked, if not neglectful of a larger truth. Quimby, with far-reaching insight, grasped the whole situation, and looked through existing conditions to the ideal. This is a much more courageous venture than the denial of actuality in fondness for the abstract. Quimby’s standard calls for a Science that can be demonstrated, can prove itself thoroughly Christian in thought, life, interpretation of Scripture, and all. It will send us back to the Gospel anew to ask why the process of coming to judgment is essential to spiritual rebirth, why we must adopt life as given in its fulness in order to entertain as ideal “the Christ.” We will then see why Quimby never denied the existence of the natural world, although sometimes referring to it as a mere shadow, and contending that matter contains no intelligence. We will also note that he assigns “mind” to a very subordinate position in contrast with spirit, since his investigations had shown him that the average mind is subject to opinions, it is indeed a “mind of opinions,” later called by Mrs. Eddy “mortal mind.” Then we shall find him turning to that Wisdom which sees through all opinions or errors, dissipating them in favor of Science. The truth he sought to establish was a concretely verifiable truth, written in the human heart and in the Word which Jesus taught. Consequently, what was needed was not mere affirmation but real understanding, like workable knowledge of mathematics.
To read deeply in these writings is to see that the best use one can make of them is to cultivate the mode of life they call for, a life which looks forward to health and freedom, productivity and an old age that is never old. Quimby laid down his life in over-sacrifice to those needing to be led into this life of the Spirit. His work quickened a deeply spiritual impetus in those followers who spread his ideas in the world. It is primarily a question of this spiritual impetus, if we would understand the discovery of spiritual healing. His teachings are true if they do indeed contain a Science which inculcates creative humility.
Those who have supposed that Quimby borrowed from Berkeley or Swedenborg will see why this could not have been the case. Quimby was not a reader of philosophy or theology. He was not in any sense a borrower, after he took up the theory of mesmerism and found how meagre was the supposed science, and branched out into the field of his own investigations. His experience in practising the silent method of spiritual healing, after 1847, led the way to his idea of God as indwelling Wisdom, as we find it expressed in his best essays.
This same practice led to his view of matter and the natural world in general as a subordinate expression of Spirit, in contrast with the eternal inner life of man. His conversations with patients tended to awaken faith in the same great Wisdom which to him was the source of all guidance and all true knowledge. The prime result, he believed, would be a “Science of Life and Happiness” which could be taught even to children, and which will banish all error from the world.
(1)J. A. Dresser, in “The True History of Mental Science,” revised edition, p. 23.
- 2. HISTORY OF THE MANUSCRIPTS
To many it seems strange indeed that the publication of the Quimby manuscripts has been so long delayed. As far back as 1882, Mr. Julius Dresser began to make it publicly known in Boston that the writings existed, and that when published they would disclose the real history of the discovery of spiritual healing. Naturally, there was a strong desire to have them published. In his pamphlet, “The True History of Mental Science,” issued in 1887, Mr. Dresser expressed the opinion that “no such depth of understanding has yet seen the light in print as those manuscripts contain,” that is, on the subject of spiritual healing. It was not Mr. Dresser’s privilege at that time to publish more than one of the articles, and the best he could do was to give a good reason why Dr. Quimby had no opportunity to revise the writings before publication prior to his death.
“I think I see a wisdom in nearly everything,” said Mr. Dresser. “If those writings had been published, as Dr. Quimby intended, or even at any time since, previous to now, they would have found a public unprepared for them. Therefore, they are in the hands of a person whose sympathies are not stirred by a work in the truth, as some of ours are, to issue them before their time. But those manuscripts will be published at a future day.”
We had a copy of the manuscripts in the household until 1893, when by arrangement with Mr. George Quimby, the owner, this copy was sent to Belfast to be kept with the other copies. The household copy was used in connection with instruction in classes, and from time to time portions of the articles were read in the classes on spiritual healing. But we were not permitted to give the writings further publicity. We frequently urged their owner to publish them, but Mr. Quimby did not believe the right time had come. When we compiled “The Philosophy of P. P. Quimby,” in 1895, we were still unable to secure the right to print more than brief excerpts from two of the manuscript volumes, since Mr. Quimby did not wish any essay printed in full till all the chief writings should be published. Many efforts were made as the years passed to secure further privileges. Mr. Quimby was frequently besought by interested people, clergymen, writers, healers and editors, some of whom traveled to Belfast to argue the point. Mr. Quimby answered all letters courteously, sometimes giving his reasons at length, and explaining his father’s ideas; but he stoutly refused to publish the writings.
Many rumors could have been denied had he relented. For example, it could have been conclusively shown that nothing whatever was settled by a suit in court in 1883 concerning these writings, for the simple reason that the owner declined to have them taken into court. Ever since that suit took place rumors have been persistently started to the effect that the writings were proved not to exist. Again, it would have been shown once for all in what respects Mrs. Eddy was indebted to Dr. Quimby for ideas and methods. Many misunderstandings have arisen because the writings were not published, and all these must now gradually be cleared away, as matters are put in their true light by the publication of the present volume.
Mr. Quimby gave abundant evidence to honest inquirers to show that he actually possessed the writings, and that they were genuine. But it was still necessary for those of us who knew the facts at first hand to explain the matter to those who came to inquire. With one exception, we had not seen any of the manuscript books between 1893 and 1921, and inquirers had to take our word for it that the writings existed.
Although there was a tacit understanding between us with regard to the publication of the writings when certain conditions should be fulfilled, Mr. Quimby died several years ago without making provision for the disposition of them. When “A History of the New Thought Movement” was published, in 1919, I could do no more than express the hope that I might print the manuscripts at some future time. At last the way opened in December, 1920, for the publishing of those portions of the writings which have historical or permanent value. Mr. Quimby wished his father’s Mss. to be published when their truth could be established without further controversies or misstatements. He knew that I was acquainted with their history from the beginning, knew those who copied the writings, knew that they were authentic, and that they were not the “first scribblings” of any other person. It was the wish of the family that I should do the editing and annotating.
As the statement has been made that some one else served as Dr. Quimby’s secretary, revising and copying his manuscripts for him, or giving him her own writings, it is necessary to state once more that his son George was the secretary during the period in question, in Portland, 1859-60, while the copying was done either by him or by the Misses Ware, of Portland. George Quimby explained how this came about in his article in the New England Magazine, March, 1888. His statement is as follows:
“Among his earlier patients in Portland were the Misses Ware, daughters of the late Judge Ashur Ware, of the United States Supreme Court; and they became much interested in ‘the Truth,’ as he called it. But the ideas were so new, and his reasoning so divergent from the popular conceptions, that they found it difficult to follow him or remember all he said; and they suggested to him the propriety of putting into writing the body of his thoughts.
“From that time on he began to write out his ideas, which practice he continued until his death, the articles now being in the possession of the writer of this sketch. The original copy he would give to the Misses Ware; and it would be read to him by them, and, if he suggested any alteration, it would be made, after which it would be copied by the Misses Ware or the writer of this; and then reread to him, that he might see that all was just as he intended it. Not even the most trivial word or the construction of a sentence would be changed without consulting him. He was given to repetition; and it was with difficulty that he could be induced to have a repeated sentence or phrase stricken out, as he would say, ‘If that idea is a good one, and true, it will do no harm to have it in two or three times.’“
It will be seen then with what care the exact wishes of Dr. Quimby were carried out. The manuscript books were loaned to some extent by the Misses Ware, Mrs. Sabine and Mr. Dresser, but only when they deemed it wise and under conditions. The copies were kept in security after Dr. Quimby’s death so that their teachings should be given to people who appreciated them, and so that they should not be published before the right time. Thus, the few came to know that they existed. From the Misses Ware we had abundant opportunity to learn the method of producing and copying the writings as above described.
Mr. A. J. Swarts, one of the pioneers of the movement now known as New Thought, took pains to investigate the facts in order to clear away misapprehensions which prevailed concerning the discovery of Christian Science. Mr. Swarts had nothing against Mrs. Eddy nor any reason for defending Dr. Quimby except to bring out the truth. After visiting Belfast, where he had opportunity to read excerpts from the press concerning Quimby’s work and to hear portions of the manuscripts read by George Quimby, Mr. Swarts published his findings in the Mental Science Magazine, Chicago, April, 1888. (2) Learning that the facts of her indebtness to Quimby were becoming known through the endeavors of Mr. Swarts, Mrs. Eddy sent from Boston over her own signature to the Portland Daily Press, while Mr. Swarts was in Portland, a paid article called an “Important Offer.” Among other things, Mrs. Eddy offered to pay the cost of printing the Quimby manuscripts, the qualification being, in Mrs. Eddy’s own words, “provided that I am allowed first to examine said manuscripts, and that I find they were P. P. Quimby’s own compositions, and not mine that were left with him many years ago, or that they have not since his death, in 1865, been stolen from my published works.” Inasmuch as everything depended on her own decision, of course no attention was paid to this offer. Readers interested to follow this controversy in detail will be able to do so by means of the summary in the Appendix. They will then see that with the publication of this volume the matter has become one of “internal evidence,” since the writings show plainly that they were produced by a mind of Dr. Quimby’s type as that mind has been characterized by those who knew him intimately, hence that the manuscripts could not have been the products of the one who claimed to have written them.
Most of the writings were produced prior to October 1862, the later articles being mostly repetitions of earlier statements and on the whole not so clear. All the significant terms and expressions such as Science, Science or Christ, Science of Health, the Science of Life and Happiness, were in regular use by 1861. No patient of Quimby’s could have explained to him in 1862 that there was a “deeper principle” than magnetism or mesmerism underlying his cures, for he had come to that conclusion himself in 1847, when he gave up his former practice. Nor would this patient have undertaken to explain away his “manipulations,” because she knew that the occasional rubbing of the head was no essential part of the treatment. In The Evening Courier and the Portland Advertiser, Mrs. Eddy committed herself publicly to the view that Quimby’s works were wrought by the Christ-principle, in contrast with the idea that he healed as did spiritists, mesmerisers and magnetic healers. After Quimby’s death she made good this view of his work by writing her “Lines on the Death of Dr. P. P. Quimby, who healed with the Truth that Christ taught, in contradistinction to all isms.” The internal evidences show that this estimate was the true one, and that every adverse opinion since circulated has been created since 1872.
The most important date in the whole history might be called January 7, 1921, when there came into the editor’s hands the entire collection of letters, original writings, copies, and the other material so carefully preserved since the death of Dr. Quimby. I went through the entire collection in the spirit of fresh investigation. Some of the material I had never seen, and the collection proved richer in valuable data than I had thought. The rest I had not seen for twenty-seven years, with the exception referred to above. I give the facts concerning all this material as thus found.
The material consisted of the following: (1) Original manuscripts of articles and letters in P. P. Quimby’s handwriting, with his own spelling, (3) and no changes made by any other hand; (2) 6 manuscript books containing revised articles copied by the Misses Ware and George Quimby, with emendations made here and there by these writers under the direction of Dr. Quimby; (3) 3 sets of manuscript books containing the copies formerly belonging to Miss Sarah Ware, Mrs. Sabine (formerly Miss S. M. Deering, Dr. Quimby’s patient), and Julius A. Dresser; (4) a manuscript book of pieces by Dr. Quimby prior to 1856, Dr. Quimby’s letters to patients, 1860, and Miss Emma Ware’s catalogue of all the articles, 1859-65; (5) the private journal of Lucius Burkmar, 1843, Quimby’s “subject” in his mesmeric period; (6) miscellaneous notes, letters and articles in separated sheets, copied from the originals on these sheets before being copied into books; (7) letters of patients to Dr. Quimby, including 14 by Mrs. Eddy, then Mrs. Patterson, and letters by Dr. Patterson; (8) Quimby’s letters to patients after 1860; (9) 3 copies for circulation of Quimby’s “Answers to Questions,” 1862, with George Quimby’s note on one of them that these were written before Mrs. Eddy visited Mr. Quimby as patient; and (10) newspaper scrapbook of articles about Dr. Quimby, 1840-65. There was also placed at my disposal the entire correspondence between George Quimby and inquirers and critics, as well as all newspaper and magazine articles on the Christian Science controversy to date. And the material put into my hands was all that had existed, save that it was customary to destroy articles in their first form after they had been revised in consultation with the Misses Ware and copied as before indicated. P. P. Quimby’s handwriting is distinctive, unmistakable, as the facsimiles show. So too is that of Miss Emma Ware, Miss Sarah Ware and George Quimby.
Having all the material at hand, every page or line of it whatsoever, I am able not only to corroborate all statements made by George Quimby concerning the manuscripts, but to state facts which he did not mention in print. I have read carefully through all the original manuscripts, which were copied by George Quimby and the Misses Ware, and have taken note in conscientious detail to see if any revisions or changes were in the handwriting of Mrs. Eddy, then Mrs. Patterson: there is not a page, a sentence or word that bears evidence of any such thing, all revisions or changes having been made by the Misses Ware as already described. There is not anywhere a page or even a line of her own by Mrs. Patterson-Eddy, no “first scribblings.” Her name is not written on the back of any page. Nor is there any evidence of any idea that might have been suggested by her, had she been in a state to make any suggestions of value. Instead, there is an assemblage of writings that would have filled her mind with chagrin had she realized how fully Quimby’s ideas were developed, long before she ever saw him. (4) There is all the material anyone could desire to make the argument irrefragable.
The writings were plainly the work of one mind, with continuity of thought from first to last. Even the unfinished fragments are of interest, for they indicate the state of mind of their author. Dr. Quimby tells us that he frequently wrote when “excited” by learning how greatly his patients had suffered from bondage to priestcraft. Consequently, at times he did not even capitalize the first personal pronoun, but started in at once with the main idea. Quimby wrote as he thought. If his thought comprised several subjects at once, he wrote so, seldom pausing to indicate paragraphs. The copyists would then suggest changes here and there to bring out his meaning, not to interpose any view of their own; for they knew his thought exceedingly well, his peculiar use of words, and whatever was part of his style. The titles were suggested in conference with the author, although some of the articles remained unnamed till after Quimby’s death, and a few bear more than one title in different stages of revision. The dates were entered in the book when the articles were copied.
With his characteristic humor, George Quimby sometimes wrote at the close of an article copied on detached pages, “Finished, thank the Lord; G. Q., scribe.” If there were miscellaneous pages of notes or any other statement by herself or her sister, Miss Emma Ware was careful to write on the margin, “Not Dr. Quimby’s.” All these little matters are significant, for they show the fidelity of those who did their part to transmit these writings intact. A few of the articles were copied after Quimby’s death, by Miss Emma Ware. In some of the copy-books a few alterations had been made, under Dr. Quimby’s direction, with a view to preparing the articles for a book. Two pages from Vol. I as thus revised are reproduced in facsimile at the end of this volume.
The originals and first copies were kept in his safe by George Quimby, and the other copies referred to above were returned to Mr. Quimby after the death of their sometime owners. Visitors and correspondents would labor to persuade him that he was keeping the truth from the world. But he believed he was faithful to the greater good in withholding the writings until the last echo of the controversy had died away. After his death, the writings were kept in storage in a bank, and there they remained secure until January 1921. (5)
(2)Reprinted in “The True History of Mental Science,” revised edition, 1899.
(3)See the facsimile of George Quimby’s writing on the wrapper at the end of this volume.
(4)See, for example, Chap. XIV, containing Vol. I.
(5)For a complete list of the pieces and articles, see Appendix. The package of articles and pieces on separate sheets mentioned above bears this inscription on the outside, “First copies from Father’s original manuscripts, afterwards copied into blank books by Emma G. Ware, Sarah Ware, George A. Quimby.” This is written in George Quimby’s hand. The complete list of the articles is in the handwriting of Miss Emma Ware.
- 3. QUIMBY’S RESTORATION TO HEALTH
IDEALLY speaking it is of secondary consequence where an original mind begins to investigate human life. What signifies is the searching thought which discloses real conditions, laws, the causes of our misery and the way to freedom. Such thinking is likely to be productive in high degree if it be concrete, adapted to the actual state of the world, without too much theorizing, with a view to direct benefits.
In Mr. Quimby’s preliminary researches we find a capital instance. He began with a purely conventional point of view, defending in thought and attitude the prevailing medical practice of the day, and so he took the world as he found it. Moreover, he had a personal need. This is the way he states the situation he was in in an article already published in part in “The True History of Mental Science.” (6)
“Can a theory be found, capable of practice, which can separate truth from error? I undertake to say there is a method of reasoning which, being understood, can separate one from the other. Men never dispute about a fact that can be demonstrated by scientific reasoning. Controversies arise from some idea that has been turned into a false direction, leading to a false position. The basis of my reasoning is this point: that whatever is true to a person, if he cannot prove it, is not necessarily true to another. Therefore, because a person says a thing is no reason that he says true. The greatest evil that follows taking an opinion for a truth is disease. Let medical and religious opinions, which produce so vast an amount of misery, be tested by the rule I have laid down, and it will be seen how much they are founded in truth. For twenty years I have been testing them, and I have failed to find one single principle of truth in either. This is not from any prejudice against the medical faculty, for, when I began to investigate the mind, I was entirely on that side. I was prejudiced in favor of the medical faculty; for I never employed anyone outside of the regular faculty, nor took the least particle of quack medicine.
“Some thirty years ago I was very sick, and was considered fast wasting away with consumption. (7) At that time, I became so low that it was with difficulty I could walk about. I was all the while under the allopathic practice, and I had taken so much calomel that my system was said to be poisoned with it; and I lost many of my teeth from that effect. My symptoms were those of any consumptive; and I had been told that my liver was affected and my kidneys were diseased, and that my lungs were nearly consumed. I believed all this, from the fact that I had all the symptoms, and could not resist the opinions of the physician while having the proof with me. In this state, I was compelled to abandon my business; and, losing all hope, I gave up to die, not that I thought the medical faculty had no wisdom, but that my case was one that could not be cured.
“Having an acquaintance who cured himself by riding horseback, I thought I would try riding in a carriage, as I was too weak to ride horseback. My horse was contrary; and once, when about two miles from home, he stopped at the foot of a long hill, and would not start except as I went by his side. So, I was obliged to run nearly the whole distance. Having reached the top of the hill I got into the carriage; and, as I was very much exhausted, I concluded to sit there the balance of the day, if the horse did not start. Like all sickly and nervous people, I could not remain easy in that place; and, seeing a man ploughing, I waited till he had ploughed around a three-acre lot, and got within sound of my voice, when I asked him to start my horse. He did so, and at the time I was so weak I could scarcely lift my whip. But excitement took possession of my senses, and I drove the horse as fast as he could go, up hill and down, till I reached home; and, when I got into the stable, I felt as strong as I ever did.”
Here, then, was a significant fact, this reaction produced by excitement, suggesting that medical diagnosis was wrong. No other experience seems to have followed this one, and when Quimby began to experiment with mesmerism he still accepted the prevailing medical theories. So, too, he began by taking devotees of mesmerism at their own word, since that appeared to be the best way to learn the truth concerning their phenomena.
There are two reasons for bearing these facts in mind, first that we may note how far he travelled to the point where he lost all faith in the medical faculty and proposed a theory of disease of his own; second, because we can hardly understand the interests of his intermediate period unless we realize that he was still in process and had not at first wholly rejected the physical theory of disease. Some other investigation might have been as profitable to him. The point is that he learned so much from his mesmeric experiments that he gave them up forever, and in giving them up came to himself and found a new truth of incalculable benefit to humanity.
There is no reason for apologizing as if it were discreditable that Quimby was once a mesmerist and was known through his ability to “magnetize” a patient or hypnotic subject. There was nothing to be ashamed of in this procedure. The only unpardonable thing that has been said about him is that he was “an ignorant mesmerist” and that he remained so. Ignorant he was not by any means, and he ceased to be a mesmerist because he was exceptionally skilful, so acute in exercising his powers that he learned the limitations of all such experiments.
We have his own statement to the effect that when he began to investigate mesmerism he was still an entire believer in the medical science and practice of the day. We also have his own exposition of the experiences which led to his change in point of view. We have contemporary testimony to his exceptional powers and the impression produced by his public experiments. Then too we have the testimony of his son, George, associated with his father as secretary when the mesmeric experiments were things of the past. Finally, we have the direct information coming to us from those who were most intimately acquainted with Quimby’s practice in his later years, from 1859 to 1866 in Portland.
In the account of his father’s life published in the New England Magazine, George Quimby says,
“He had a very inventive mind, and was always interested in mechanics, philosophy and scientific subjects. During his middle life, he invented several devices on which he obtained letters patent. He was very argumentative, and always wanted proof of anything, rather than an accepted opinion. Anything which could be demonstrated he was ready to accept; but he would combat what could not be proved with all his energy, rather than admit it as a truth.
“With a mind of this combination, it is not strange that, when a gentleman visited Belfast, about the year 1838, and gave lectures and experiments in mesmerism, Mr. Quimby should feel deeply interested in the subject. Here was a new, to him at least, phenomenon; and he at once began to investigate the subject; and on every occasion when he could find a person who would allow him to try, he would endeavor to put him into a mesmeric sleep. He met with many failures, but occasionally would find a person whom he could influence.
“At that time Mr. Quimby was of medium height, small in stature, his weight about one hundred and twenty-five pounds, quick motioned and nervous, with piercing black eyes, black hair and whiskers; a well-shaped, well-balanced head; high, broad forehead, and a rather prominent nose, and a mouth indicating strength and firmness of will; persistent in what he undertook, and yet not easily defeated or discouraged.
“In the course of his trials with subjects, he met with a young man named Lucius Burkmar, over whom he had the most wonderful influence; and it is not stating it too strongly to assert that with him he made some of the most astonishing exhibitions of mesmerism and clairvoyance that have been given in modern times.
“At the beginning of these experiments, Mr. Quimby firmly believed that the phenomenon was the result of animal magnetism, and that electricity had more or less to do with it. Holding to this, he was never able to perform his experiments with satisfactory results when the ‘conditions’ were not right, as he believed they should be.
“For instance, during a thunder-storm his trials would prove failures. If he pointed the sharp end of a steel instrument at Lucius, he would start as if pricked with a pin; but when the blunt end was pointed toward him, he would remain unmoved.
“One evening, after making some experiments with excellent results, Mr. Quimby found that during the time of the tests there had been a severe thunder-storm, but, so interested was he in his experiments, he had not noticed it.
“This led him to further investigate the subject; and the results reached were that, instead of the subject being influenced by any atmospheric disturbance, the effects produced were brought about by the influence of one mind on another. From that time, he could produce as good results during a storm as in pleasant weather, and could make his subject start by simply pointing a finger at him as well as by using a steel instrument.
“Mr. Quimby’s manner of operating with his subject was to sit opposite to him, holding both his hands in his, and looking him intently in the eye for a short time, when the subject would go into the state known as the mesmeric sleep, which was more properly a peculiar condition of mind and body, in which the natural senses would, or would not, operate at the will of Mr. Quimby. When conducting his experiments, all communications of Mr. Quimby with Lucius were mentally given, the subject replying as if spoken to aloud.
“For several years, Mr. Quimby traveled with young Burkmar through Maine and New Brunswick, giving exhibitions, which at that time attracted much attention and secured notices through the columns of the newspapers.
“It should be remembered that at the time Mr. Quimby was giving these exhibitions . . . the phenomenon was looked upon in a far different light from that of the present day. At that time, it was a deception, a fraud, a humbug; and Mr. Quimby was vilified and frequently threatened with mob violence, as the exhibitions smacked too strongly of witchcraft to suit the people.
“As the subject gained more prominence, thoughtful men began to investigate the matter, and Mr. Quimby was often called upon to have his subject examine the sick. He would put Lucius into the mesmeric state, and prescribe remedies for its cure. (8)
“After a time, Mr. Quimby became convinced that whenever the subject examined a patient his diagnosis of the case would be identical with what either the patient himself or someone present believed, instead of Lucius really looking into the patient, and giving the true condition of the organs; in fact, that he was reading the opinion of someone, rather than stating truth acquired by himself.
“Becoming firmly satisfied that this was the case, and having seen how one mind could influence another, and how much there was that had always been considered as true, but was merely some one’s opinion, Mr. Quimby gave up his subject, Lucius, and began the developing of what is now known as mental healing, or curing disease through the mind . . .
“While engaged in his mesmeric experiments, Mr. Quimby became more and more convinced that disease was an error of the mind, and not a real thing. As the truths of his discovery began to develop, and grow in him, just in the same proportion did he begin to lose faith in the efficacy of mesmerism as a remedial agent in the cure of the sick; and after a few years he discarded it altogether.
“Instead of putting the patient into a mesmeric sleep, Mr. Quimby would sit by him; and, having given him a detailed account of what his troubles were, he would simply converse with him and explain the causes of the troubles, and thus change the mind of the patient . . .”
Despite the fact, however, that Lucius when in the mesmeric sleep would often read what was in the mind of the patient and diagnose the case according to opinions expressed byphysicians, Lucius also discerned at other times the actual state of the body. That he possessed remarkable clairvoyant power in such cases is shown by experiments in which Lucius described events and things at a distance, when en rapport with the mind of some one in the audience who thought of some distant place which he wanted Lucius to visit. There is also documentary evidence to show that Lucius could accurately describe the condition of the body after death.
There was much to learn from these experiments, therefore, besides the significant fact that a patient would often feel in regard to his own body as medical diagnosis suggested that he feel. Lucius would sometimes prescribe a remedy so simple or so absurd that Mr. Quimby saw there could be no virtue in the medicine. Plainly, both the disease and its cure must be explained on another basis. This we see clearly when we realize that Mr. Quimby himself experienced the benefits of the clairvoyant descriptions, thereby overcoming what had appeared to be threatening diseases, although the true explanation was not the one offered by Lucius.
In the article quoted from above, written when Mr. Quimby had developed and proved his theory of disease so that he could look back and understand the whole phenomenon, so new and at first so baffling in his mesmeric period, he says,
“When I commenced to mesmerise, I was not well, according to the medical science; but in my researches, I found a remedy for my disease. Here was where I first discovered that mind was capable of being changed.
“Also, that, disease being a deranged state of mind, the cause I found to exist in our belief. The evidence of this theory I found in myself; for, like all others, I had believed in medicine. Disease and its power over life, and its curability, are all embraced in our belief. Some believe in various remedies, and others believe that the spirits of the dead prescribe. I have no confidence in the virtue of either. I know that cures have been made in these ways. I do not deny them. But the principle on which they are done is the question to solve; for disease can be cured, with or without medicine, on but one principle. I have said I believed in the old practice and its medicines, the effects of which I had within myself; for, knowing no other way to account for the phenomena, I took it for granted that they were the result of medicine.
“With this mass of evidence staring me in the face, how could I doubt the old practice? Yet, in spite of all my prejudices, I had to yield to a stronger evidence than man’s opinion, and discard the whole theory of medicine, practised by a class of men, some honest, some ignorant, some selfish, and all thinking that the world must be ruled by their opinions.
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