Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

 

Letter To A. A. Atwood

 

 

Portland

To Mr. A. A. Atwood:

In reply to your questions, I will say to you that I am unwilling to take charge of a person afflicted with fits, from the effect upon my own system. In regard to the blind, I should not recommend anyone like your description to come to see me, for I have no faith that I could cure him. If a man is simply blind, I have no chance for a quarrel, for we both agree in that fact. But if a person has any sickness which he wants cured and is partially blind, besides, then I might affect his blindness, but that is thrown in. I never undertake to cure the well; and if a man is blind and satisfied, I can't find anything to talk about. For if I undertake to tell him anything, he says, “Oh! I am all right, but my eyes,” so he is spiritually blind and cannot see that his blindness ever had a beginning. So it is hard work to get up a controversy; and therefore, I refuse to take such cases, till my popularity is such that my opinion is of some force to such persons. For opinions of popular quacks are law and gospel about blindness; and so long as the blind lead the blind, they will both be in the ditch.

Thirdly, you ask me if I can cure anyone from using intoxicating liquors. This is a hard question to answer, for it involves considerable. If you drink, it is not my business; neither is it yours if I drink, for neither can set up a standard to judge the other by. I judge no man. Judgment belongs to God or science, and that judges right; for it contains no opinion. Giving an opinion is setting up a standard to judge your neighbor by, and this is not doing as you would be done by. The true science judges in this way. If you are sick and come to me, if I tell you how you feel, this is doing as you would like to be done by; there is no discord. Now you come to me, a criminal or debtor, accused of disobeying some opinion of man, which you will not accept and worship. You are accused, condemned and cast into prison; your punishment is your feelings.

Now science, being a higher court than man's opinions, man appeals to that court. So he is brought before me, and upon examination, I find that he has committed no offense against science and is not liable to their standard. I plead his case and show that all his acts were committed in self-defense. His drinking is the effect of something he is accused of, and he takes to the cup to drown his sorrow. When I convince him how he has been deceived by his tormentors and explain the truth, he comes to his reason and abandons his old associates, who have been the means of all this trouble. If he likes smoking and drinking, he is satisfied and wants no physician. But if sick, and I find that liquor is his enemy, then it is my duty to tell him so. And if I convince him, he has no more difficulty in cutting his acquaintance than he would an old friend whom he discovered plotted against his life; one case must be proved.

P. P. Quimby

 

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