Portland, May 9th, 1861
To Mr. __
I will say, in answer to your letter, that it is impossible to give any correct opinion in regard to your wife's case; nor do I wish to give any encouragement that I may afterwards regret. I know the sick, like a drowning man, are ready to catch at a straw, and this places them and their friends in the hands of all kinds of quackery. They are not the judges of their own case, from the fact that health is all they want, and money, to them, is nothing in comparison to it. This I know from experience; and when they compare their cases with others, the comparison will not hold good.
I have been deceived by the sick; not knowing anything about their case, except from their own account. I have advised some not to come; from the description of their cases and on sitting with them, I have found their trouble amounted to a mere nothing. I have advised others to come and found them far worse than I expected, then felt concerned for advising them to come. So I have concluded to let people take their chance, and I do the best I can.
Now in regard to my going to Chicago. I am not in a situation to leave here at present, as I have as many patients as I can attend to, and my expenses here amount to not less than $5.00 a day, which goes on, whether I am in town or not; and my business varies from twelve to twenty a day; therefore I cannot live on uncertainties. If I were certain of curing your wife and others, that would alter the case; but the uncertainty I do not wish to risk, nor can you, lest I should fail.
I do not wish your wife to come here, unless you feel as though there was a fair chance for her recovery. Mrs. Ware might be of some service to you; she, having some ideas of my cures, might be a better judge than you or your wife; but if you feel inclined to come this way, then I would do the very best I could. If your wife would write me the facts of her case, I will devote one hour to her, and send her an account of her case. Then she may feel better satisfied what course to pursue.
P. P. Quimby