Excerpts from

  "True History of Mental Science"
by Julius A. Dresser

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THE facts given in the following address have been held for many years, until there should be such a general demand for them that they would receive a willing and an unprejudiced ear, and an appreciation in accordance with their merits. Portions of this history have been contributed by this author to the "Mental Healing Monthly," of Boston, in nearly the same words as here given; and also, some portions to the "Christian Metaphysician," of Chicago. But this pamphlet includes extracts from the unpublished manuscripts of P. P. Quimby, which appear in no other publication.



THE foundation principles of what we now term Mental Science are shown by history to have been largely understood by the philosophers of all ages. The philosophy of Plato, who flourished four hundred years before Christ, was essentially one of idealism; and the same idealistic theory is found in different forms of expression set forth by leading thinkers of succeeding generations, notably by Spinoza, and by Bishop Berkeley, in the seventeenth century. But while they mainly agreed that all reality is in the realms of spirit, of which what we see is only an emanation or manifestation, they all failed to apply their views to the healing of disease. Of those who had this understanding previous to our time, only Jesus and his disciples applied it to relieving human ills; all others devoted their teachings simply to modifying and forming character.

Coming down to this nineteenth century, we find Ralph Waldo Emerson's writings tilled and permeated with the idealistic theory, and running over with the belief of an omnipresent Goodness as the substance of all things, with here and there a hint that the so-called "ills that flesh is heir to" may be eradicated as errors when held up to the light of truth, the same as can moral evils. But the first person in this age who penetrated the depths of truth so far as to discover and bring forth a true science of life, and openly apply it to the healing of the sick, was Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, of Belfast, Me. I am well aware that with some people this is a disputed point, they respecting the claims of certain others; but I have been requested, by many persons interested in this history, to say what I know about it, and, believing that the time has come to do so, I shall now give you a series of facts, and you can judge of them for yourselves.

The first that I knew of P. P. Quimby was in June, 1860, when I went to him as a patient, in Portland, Me. This was five and a half years before his death. He had then, 1860, been in the regular practice of mental healing for many years, in different towns in Maine, and had been located in Portland about two years. There was at that time, 1860, no one else in the practice in New England, nor in this country, nor in the world, so far as was then known, or has since been heard of; nor was there at that time anyone else who understood it as a science, he having been the discoverer and founder, as I think I shall show you. He had then, 1860, been at work twenty years in this field of investigation and discovery and ultimate practice, which carries his first investigations back to the year 1840.

The question may be asked, "Was Quimby ever a mesmerist?" I reply that he was, for a limited time, and for purposes of experiment and investigation. The truth came to him, not as a revelation pure and simple, but as the result of practical experiment and patient research among the phenomena of life, urged on by the impulses of an active, inquiring, comprehensive mind. I have seen extracts from newspapers as far back as 1842-3, giving accounts of his public exhibitions of mesmerism, in some of which newspaper accounts he was rated with a few others in this country and Europe who were the leading mesmerizers in the world. Dr. Quimby had been a watch and clock maker for some years, when mesmerism attracted his attention.

 The subject of mesmerism was first introduced into this country by Mr. Charles Poyan, a French gentleman, in the year 1836. A few years later, a certain Dr. Collyer lectured upon it in New England and elsewhere. In 1840, P. P. Quimby commenced experimenting with it, although this did not furnish him his first lesson in the truth he afterwards developed, as I have seen from accounts of his earlier experiences. From a newspaper account of one of his public exhibitions of mesmerism in Belfast, Me., dated April 17, 1843, I make this extract: -

"Before we proceed to describe the experiments" (the newspaper says), "we will say that Mr. Quimby is a gentleman, in size rather smaller than the medium of man, with a well-proportioned and well-balanced phrenological head, and with the power of concentration surpassing anything we have ever witnessed. His eyes are black and very piercing, with rather a pleasant expression, and he possesses the power of looking at one object without even winking, for a great length of time."

In his mesmeric experiments, as reported in the Maine papers in those years so long ago, Quimby is shown to have progressed gradually out of mesmerism, into a knowledge of the hidden powers of mind; and he soon found in man a principle, or a power, that was not of man himself, but was higher than man, and of which he could only be a medium. Its character was goodness and intelligence; and its power was great. He also found that disease was nothing but an erroneous belief of mind. Here was a discovery of truth, and on this discovery he founded a system of treating the sick, and founded a science of life. As a better testimony than my own on these points, I will here introduce an extract from a letter I received from his son, Geo. A. Quimby, of Belfast, Me., in reply to one in which I wrote for certain data relating to his father. Speaking of his father, the son wrote as follows: -

"Some time in 1840, he became deeply interested in mes-merism, and for quite a number of years, in connection with his other business, he gave exhibitions with a clairvoyant subject through the State of Maine, and also treated disease, using his mesmeric power, as it was termed then. This method he kept up, but gradually working out of the mesmeric idea, into a train of reasoning of his own, which he applied to the patient, till finally he gave up putting the patient to sleep mesmerically, and followed the mode of treatment which he originated and continued up to the time of his death, which treatment, in his own words, was this: -

"He says, 'My practice is unlike all medical practice. I give no medicine, and make no outward applications. I tell the patient his troubles, and what he thinks is his disease, and my explanation is the cure. If I succeed in correcting his errors, I change the fluids of the system and establish the truth or health. The truth is the cure. This mode of practice applies to all cases.'"

These are Dr. Quimby's own words, and any one can see that they mean a purely mental treatment, for he speaks of what the patient thinks is his disease and calls it his error, by saying that if he succeeds in correcting the patient's errors, he then establishes the truth, and the truth is the cure. You see from this that he had discovered that disease was an error of mind, and nothing else, and the God-power of truth which he had discovered in man, being set up again in the victim of disease, destroyed the error or disease, and reestablished the harmony.

This discovery, you observe, was not made from the Bible, but from mental phenomena and searching investigations; and after the truth was discovered, he found his new views all portrayed and illustrated in Christ's teachings and works. If you think this seems to show that Quimby was a remarkable man, let me tell you that he was one of the most unassuming of men that ever lived, for no one could well be more so, nor make less account of his own achievements. Humility was a marked feature of his character (I knew him intimately). To this was united a benevolent and an unselfish nature, and a love of truth, with a remarkably keen perception. But the distinguishing feature of his mind was that he could not entertain an opinion, because it was not knowledge. His faculties were so practical and perceptive that the wisdom of mankind, which is largely made up of opinions, was of little use to him, hence the charge that he was not an educated man is literally true. True knowledge to him was positive proof, as in a problem of mathematics, therefore he discarded books and sought phenomena, where his perceptive faculties made him master of the situation. Therefore, he got from his experiments in mesmerism what other men did not get, a stepping-stone to a higher knowledge than man possessed, and a new range to mental vision.  He wrote out his discoveries at great length, and from these yet unpublished writings, now in the possession of his son, before referred to, I am privileged to incorporate in this lecture the following article, which was written in the year 1863, and thus allow Quimby to tell an important part of his own story. These are his words:-



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