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The Quimby Manuscripts, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, ed. by Horatio W. Dresser [1921], at

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Early Writings

[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.]

THOUGHT, like the blossom of the rose, or tree, contains all the elements of the tree or rose. Now as the law of vegetation governs the tree or rose, so the law of mind acts upon the idea or spiritual tree, known by the name of good or evil. Now although this tree differs from all other trees in the garden of man, it cannot be detected except by its fruits, and as the fruits appear pleasant to the eye of the mind, and are supposed to make men happy, it is cultivated without knowing the peculiar properties it contains.

Now as this tree grows it sends forth its thought like blossoms, and as it is looked upon as a fruit much desired to make one well it is received with joy and cultivated in the garden of our minds. Now in the beginning of the creation of man this tree was a tree that differed from all others in man and was very like the tree of life. The fruits of this tree have been the foundation of all the philosophy of man ever since man was created.

Now as man's natural body contains the soil for this tree to grow, as the earth is the soil for the rest of the trees and herbs and creeping things that have life, it is the duty of man to investigate this tree and see what its fruits contain. The tree is to be known by its fruits. This tree is an idea like all other ideas in man, but differing in one peculiarity, happiness and misery. All the rest of the trees of knowledge contain right and wrong without any regard to happiness or misery. This is the difference between the trees.

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Now as this tree can bear the fruits of other trees, it is another reason for its being cultivated, but to understand the tree or idea is to understand its fruits or thoughts.

I shall now call this tree an idea which contains happiness or misery and also truth and error. Now as error, like the serpent, is more subtle than any other idea in man, it acts upon the weaker portion of our thoughts and ideas, and engrafts them into the idea of happiness and misery. Now as this idea grows and sends forth its fruit, it is conveyed by error to other trees or ideas in others, and thus spring up false theories, false doctrines, etc. Now as this tree or idea sends forth such a variety of thoughts or fruit, it is like Joseph's coat of many colors, hard to tell what was the original color or idea. This throws man into darkness and doubt, and he wanders about, like a sheep without a shepherd, running after false ideas. Being blind he is not capable of judging for himself, and suffers himself to be led by the blind.

Now as the tree of knowledge of good and evil was an idea of happiness and misery, it is easy to detect its fruits. All other ideas are spiritual and the fruits or thoughts are spiritual, and are not perceived till they come within our senses. We are very apt to get deceived by them, for they come like a thief in the night, when man is off his guard. Now as health and happiness is the greatest blessing that can be bestowed on man, and this was the original fruit of the tree, it can be very easily detected from the grafted fruit or ideas. The original fruit is spiritual and cannot be detected by the eye, for it does not contain even spiritual matter. Its qualities are sympathy, harmony and peace—the fruit of the evil contains matter, and has form and can be seen and felt.


Dr. Q. has been induced by the great number of cases which have come under his care within the last twelve years, to devote his time to the cure of diseases. His success in the art of healing without the aid of medicine has encouraged many persons who have been suffering from sickness of long standing to call and see him for themselves. This has given him a very great advantage over the old mode of practice, and has given him a good chance to see how the mind

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affects the body. He makes no pretension to any superior power over ordinary men, nor claims to be a seventh son, nor a son of the seventh son, but a common every-day man.

He contends there is a principle or inward man that governs the outward man or body, and when these are at variance or out of tune, disease is the effect, while by harmonizing them health of the body is the result. He believes this can be brought about by sympathy, and all persons, who are sick are in need of this sympathy.

To the well these remarks will not apply, for the well need no physician. 1 By these remarks I mean a well person does not know the feelings of the sick, but the sick alone are their own judges, and to every feeling is attached a peculiar state of mind which is peculiar to it. These states of mind are the person's spiritual identity, and this I claim to see and feel myself.

When there is discord in these two principles, or inward and outward man, it seems to me that the outward man or body conveys to me the trouble, the same as one man communicates to his friend any trouble that is weighing him down. Now all I claim is this, to put myself into communication with these principles of inward and outward man, and act as a mediator between these two principles of soul and body; and when I am in communication with the patient, I feel all his pains and his state of mind, and I find that by bringing his spirit back to harmonize with the body he feels better.

The great trouble with mankind is this, they are spiritually sick, and the remedies they apply only serve to make them worse. The invention of disease, like the invention of fashion, has almost upset the whole community. If physicians would investigate mind a little more and medicine a little less, they would be of some service; but this inventing disease is like inventing laws: instead of helping man, they make him worse. Diseases are like fashions, and people are as apt to take a new disease as they are to fall in with any new fashion. Now if there was a law made to punish any person who should through any medical journal communicate to the people any new disease and its symptoms, it would put a stop to a great deal of sickness. Seven cases out or ten throughout the whole community of old chronic cases

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are the effects of false impressions produced by medical men, giving to the people the idea they have spinal disease, or heart or kidney or liver disease, or forty others that I could name, to say nothing of the number of nervous diseases.

Now all of these ideas thrown into the community are like so many foolish fashions which the people are humbugged by. I do not dispute but that any of these diseases may be brought about through the operation of the mind, but I do say if there was no name given to disease, nor its symptoms, there would not be one-tenth of the sickness there is at this day. I have taken people who have been sick with all of the above diseases, as they thought, and by describing their symptoms and state of mind without their telling me what the trouble was, and they have recovered immediately. A person sick is like a person in a strange land, without money or friends. Now there may be some one near by who would be glad to receive such persons, but they are ignorant of them. The sick are not in communication with themselves, nor any one else—they feel as though no person could tell them how they feel. 1


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

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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

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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

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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


BELFAST, Nov. 4th, 1856.

Madam: Yours of the 2nd. inst. was received, and now I sit down to answer your inquiry in regard to your lameness.

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[paragraph continues] It seems to me that the skin on the knee is thinner and has a more healthy appearance. But you cannot be made to believe anything that is in plain contradiction to your own senses, and as your opinions have been formed from the evidence of persons in whom you have placed confidence, and facts have gone to prove these opinions correct, it is not strange that you should hold on to your belief till some kind friend should come to your aid and lead your mind in a different direction.

Now to remind you of what I tried to make you understand is a very hard task on my part; for as I said to you, some of my ideas fall on stony ground, and some on dry ground, and some on good ground. These ideas are in your mind like the little leaven, and they will work till the whole mind or lump is changed.

You have asked me many questions which time and space will not permit me to answer, but I shall write that which seems to be of the most benefit to you. In regard to your coming to Belfast, use your own judgment. The cure of your limb depends on your faith. Your faith is what you receive from me, and what you receive is what you understand. Now if you understand that the mind is the name of the fluids of which your body is composed, and your thoughts represent the change of the fluids or mind, you will then be in a state to act understandingly.

I will try to illustrate it to you so you can apply your thoughts to your body so as to receive the reward of your labor. As I told you, every thought contains a substance either good or bad, and it comes in and makes up a part of your body or mind, and as the thoughts which are in your system are poisoned, and the poison has come from without, it is necessary to know how to keep them [the thoughts] out of your system so as not to be injured by them.

Now suppose you have around you a sort of heat like the light of a candle, which embraces all your knowledge, your body being the centre and you having the power to govern and control this heat: you then have a world of your own. Now in health this globe of which your body is the centre is in harmony. The heat of this globe is a protection to itself, like a walled city, to admit none but supposed friends. Now as every person has the same globe or heat, each person is a world or nation of itself. This is the state of a person in health.

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Now as we wish to change and interchange with other nations, so does our house like to enjoy the society of other persons, and as we are liberal we admit strangers to our city or world as friends. When this proclamation goes out our globe is filled with all sorts of people from all nations, bringing with them goods, setting up false doctrines, stirring up strife till the whole population or thoughts are changed, and man becomes a stranger in his own land and his own household becomes his enemies. This is the state of a person in disease. Now as there is nothing in your own system of itself to disturb you, you must look for your enemies from the strangers whom you have permitted to come into your land.


Mrs. Norcross.

MADAM: Yours of the . . . is at hand. But a lack of faith on my part to describe your case and explain my ideas to you so you could rightly comprehended my meaning is my only excuse for not writing before. But thinking you would expect an answer, I now sit down to talk with you a short time.

After reading your letter I tried to exercise all the power I was master of to quiet and restore your limb to health. But to give a satisfactory answer to you or myself was more than I was capable of. I therefore will disturb your mind or fluids once more, and try to direct them in a more healthy state by repeating some of my ideas which I repeated to you when here.

You know I told you that mind was the name of something, and this something is the fluids of the body. Disease is the name of the disturbance of these fluids or mind. Now as the fluids are in a scalding state, they are ready to be directed to any portion of the body. You remember I told you that every idea contained this fluid, and the combination varied just according to the knowledge or idea of disease.

I will explain. Two persons are told they are troubled with scrofula. One does not know anything about it, and has never heard of the disease, is as ignorant as a child. No explanation is given to either. The other is well posted up in regard to all the bad effects of this disease. Now you can readily see the effect on the minds of these two persons. One is not affected at all till he is made acquainted with the case,

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while the other one's mind or fluids are completely changed and combined, so all that is necessary is to give direction and locate the disease in any part of the body.

I think I hear you say that a child can be troubled with scrofula, and they have no mind; then they have no body or fluids; for the fluids are the mind, as I said before. Your mother probably changed the fluids of your body, when an infant or at any early age, and some circumstance located it in your leg. Now as it is there you want to know how to get rid of it, and as it was directed there through ignorance you can't get rid of it without some knowledge.

Now as this disturbance comes like a fright or sensation, it is to be understood as a fright. Now as disease is looked upon as a thing independent of the mind, the mind is disturbed by every sensation produced upon the senses, and the soul stands apart from the disturbed part and grieves over it, as a person grieves over any trouble independent of the body. Now to cure you, you must come with me to where the trouble is, and you will find it to be nothing but a little heated fluid just under the skin, and it is kept hot and disturbed by your mind being misrepresented. 1

Now I believe that I can impart something from my mind that can enter into that distressed state of the fluids and change the heat and bring about a healthy state. I shall often try to produce a cooling sensation on your limb, at other times a perspiration so as to throw off the surplus heat. If I succeed in helping or relieving you, please let me know. But do not expect another explanation. . . . If you think you would improve faster by coming to Belfast, please let me know, and I will get you a private boarding house, if desired. I think I can hear you say by this time that your limb feels better, if so I shall be satisfied.


It may be somewhat strange to you to hear something of the mode of curing disease by a person who does not believe in any disease independent of the mind. 2 I am acquainted with a person who does not give any medicine at all, and yet he is in the constant practice of curing persons afflicted with all

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diseases flesh is heir to. He not only discards medicine but disease also, contends that all disease is in the mind, and that the cure of disease is governed by a principle as much as mathematics, and can be learned and taught. His ideas are new, not like any person's I ever heard or read of, and yet when understood by the sick they are as plain and evident as any truth that can come within a person's senses. His ideas are compared to that which troubles the sick, not to persons well; for those who are well need no physicians. He is not a spiritualist as is commonly understood, believing that he receives his power from departed spirits. But he believes the power is general and can be learned if persons would only consent to be taught. 1 He has no mystery more than in learning music or any science which requires study and practice. It cannot be learned in a day nor in a month, yet nevertheless it can be learned. He has spent sixteen years [1840-1856] learning and yet he has just begun.

I will here state what has come within my observation. A friend of mine by the name of Robinsom, of N. Vassalboro, had been sick and confined to his house for four years, and nearly the whole time confined to his bed, not being able to sit up more than fifteen minutes during the day. Hearing of Mr. Quimby, for this is his name, he sent for him to visit him. He arrived at Mr. R's in the evening and sat down, and commenced explaining to Mr. R. his feelings, telling him his symptoms nearer than Mir. R. could tell them himself, also telling him the peculiar state of his mind and how his mind acted upon his body. His explanation was entirely new to Mr. R., and it required some argument to satisfy Mr. R. that he had no disease; for he had been doctored for almost all diseases.

His eyes were so swollen that it was impossible for him to see. His head had been blistered all over, and large black spots came out all over his body. Therefore to become a convert to his theory was more than Mr. R. could do. But Q. told him he stood ready to explain all he said, and not only that but to prove it to his satisfaction; for, said he, the proof is the cure, and R. was not bound to believe any faster than he could make him understand, and the cure is in the understanding.

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So Mr. Quimby commenced taking up his feelings, one by one, like a lawyer examining witnesses, analyzing them and showing him that he [had] put false constructions on all his feelings, showing him that a different explanation would have produced a different result. In this way Quimby went on explaining and taking up almost every idea he ever had, and putting a different construction, till R. thought he did not know anything.

Mr. Q's explanation, said R. . . . "was so plain that it was impossible not to understand it. Not one of his ideas was like any that I ever heard before from any physician, yet so completely did he change me that I felt like a man who had been confined in a prison for life, and without the least knowledge of what was going on out of the prison received a pardon and was set at liberty. At about ten o'clock I went to bed, had a good night's rest, and in the morning was up before Q. and felt as well as ever. Q. and I went to Waterville the next day. I had no desire to take to my bed, and have felt well ever since." This is R's own story.

[Quimby then goes on as if writing for a third person.]

I was well acquainted with Mr. R. and know these facts to be true. This is the case with a great many others where I was not acquainted with the parties, and I was induced to go to Belfast to see if he [Quimby] could talk me out of my senses, for I thought I had a disease. At least it seemed so to me, for I had had for the last ten years a disease which showed itself in almost every joint in my limbs. My hands were drawn all out of shape. My neck was almost stiff. My legs were drawn up, my joints swollen and so painful it was impossible to move them without almost taking my life. I could not take one step nor get up without help. It would be impossible to give any account of my suffering.

When I arrived at Belfast I sent for Mr. Quimby. He came, and after telling me some of my feelings said, "I suppose it would be pretty hard to convince you that you had no disease independent of your mind." I replied I had heard that he contended all disease was in the mind, and if he could convince me that the swelling and contraction of the limbs and the pain I suffered was in my mind, I would be prepared to believe anything.

He then commenced by asking me to move my legs. I replied that I could not move them. "Why not?" said he.

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[paragraph continues] Because I have no power to move them. He said it was not for the want of physical strength, it was for the want of knowledge. I said I knew how to move them but I had not strength. As he wished me to try, I made an effort, but without the slightest effect. He said I acted against myself.

He then went on to explain to me where I even thought wrong, and showed me by explaining till I could see how I was acting against myself. In the course of a short time I could move my legs more than I had for three years. He continued to visit me and I am gaining as fast as a person can. I have been under his treatment for two weeks, and I can get up and sit down very easily. I can see now that my cure depends on my knowledge. Sometimes he asks me if I want some linament to rub on my cords or muscles. I can now see the absurdity of using any application to relax the muscles or to strengthen them. The strength is in the knowledge. This is something that he has the power to impart. But how it is done is impossible to understand. Yet I know the knowledge he imparts to me is strength, and just as I understand so is my cure. 1


75:1 Dr. Quimby here changes from the third to the first person.

76:1 Dr. Quimby's reference to "the last twelve years," would indicate that this "piece" was written between 1852 and 1855. It is his first statement concerning his spiritual method.

79:1 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.

82:1 That is, in bondage to error. The sensation of heat under the skin has been misinterpreted.

82:2 Dr. Quimby here speaks of himself in the third person.

83:1 That is, it is from the infinite Spirit or Wisdom, as Quimby later called it; not from any "spirit."

85:1 This is one of the first endeavors on Quimby's part to take up the point of view of a patient consulting him by showing how strange the new method seemed. It will be noticed that in his letters Quimby does not yet clearly distinguish between the mind, and the nervous activities and disturbed circulation of the blood. He needs an intermediate term to show that thought produces actual changes in the substance of the mind, and then subconsciously in the body. Later he uses the peculiar term "spiritual matter" to cover the activities which lie between, and says less about the changes in the "fluids." When he apparently identifies the mind with the fluids, in one letter, he is not then teaching materialism, but vaguely arguing for mental causation. The form "mind" is always used in a subordinate sense, with reference to that part of our life which is nearest the body. Dr. Quimby's higher term is "wisdom." Our wisdom is wholly distinct from the nervous "fluids" and troublesome mental states.

Next: 8. Contemporary Testimony