PORTLAND, January 25, 1861.
To Mrs. Ware:
By the request of E. (Emma) and S. (Sarah) I sit down by you to see if I can amuse you by my explanation of disease. You know I often talk to persons about religion and you often look as though you would rather have me talk about anything else. Perhaps it would be better if you knew the cause of every sensation, but you would not want a physician.
Now you will want me to tell you how you feel, and if you will give me your attention I will try to explain. This heavy feeling that you have, accompanied with a desire to lie down and a sort of indifference how things go, comes from a quiet state of your system that prevents your food from digesting as readily as it did. But it will act upon you like an emetic or cathartic. Either way is right. So give no care to what you shall eat or drink, for Wisdom will cause all things to work for the best. If you want to eat, consult your own feelings and take no one's opinion. Remember that He who made us knows our wants better than man. So keep yourself quiet and I will reverse the action from your head, and you will feel it passing out of your stomach. Then do not forget to sit up as I used to tell you and remember not to believe what the blind guides say. They will come to you, and if your throat is a little sore, they will merely ask if you think this sore throat is the diphtheria, looking as wise as though they had discovered the philosopher's stone. . . .
Remember what I tell you about this disease. For these hypocrites or blind guides are working in the minds of the people like the demagogues of the South. I do not say that you will be troubled by them. But I have kept on their track for twenty years and have not the slightest confidence in anything they say.
I hear you now for the first time asking me if I believe in another world. Yes, but not in the sense of the clergy. I will try to explain my two worlds. You live in Chicago and I in Portland, and if it will not be blasphemy to call your place heaven, we will suppose you are in heaven and I in Portland. Now, if I am here sitting and talking with you I must leave the earth and matter and come to you. If I am with you, what is it that has left the body? It cannot be matter in a visible form, yet it is something. Listen, and I will tell you.
You read that God made all living things that had life out of the earth, so that dead matter cannot produce living life nor anything else. As all matter decomposes, the dust or odor that arises from it was the matter that [the natural man] is formed of. As the child is of living matter, not wisdom, when it grows to a certain age it is ready to receive the breath of eternal life. The child was not eternal life. Eternal life is Wisdom as much above human life as Science is above ignorance. . . . Eternal life is Christ or Science, this teaches us that matter is a mere shadow of a substance which the natural man never saw nor can see, for it is never changed, is the same today and forever. This substance is the essence of Wisdom and is in every living form. Like a seed in the earth, it grows or develops in matter, and is as much under the control of the mother's Wisdom as the gold which is dissolved and held in solution is under that of the chemist. If the mother's Wisdom is of this world, the spiritual child is not under her earthly care. Nevertheless it is held in the bosom of its eternal Wisdom that will cherish it till it is developed to receive the science of Eternal Wisdom. Eternal Wisdom and eternal life are not the same. Eternal Wisdom cannot change but acts on eternal life, changes its form and identity. Eternal Wisdom teaches us that all matter is in itself a shadow and is no barrier. Matter is dense darkness. Spirit is light. If you are wise your body or wisdom is light, and just as you sink into error you become dense or dark. Therefore let your light shine, so that when this wind comes blowing round in the form of an opinion you may know it is merely the noise of a demagogue. Believe not, .and you will live and flourish. If you can understand this you have the basis of my belief.
For fear I have not made my two worlds clear to your mind, I will say a few words more. The two worlds may be divided in this way: one opinions, the other Science. Opinions are matter or the shadow of Science. One is limited in its sphere, and the other has no limits. One can be seen by the natural eyes: the other is an endless progression. The one is today, and tomorrow is not. The other is an endless progression. One is always changing, the other is always progressing. The natural man never will know this truth, for he cannot see Wisdom and live; Wisdom is the natural man's death. So he looks upon it as an enemy, prays to it, pays tribute to it as though Wisdom were a man. He often uses it as a balance to weigh his ignorance in but never to weigh the difference of his opinions. He often quotes it, talking as though it were his intimate friend, while he to Wisdom is only known as a servant or shadow, all an imitation. Science is of another character. Science rises above all narrow ideas. He who is scientific in regard to health and happiness is his own law, and is not subject to the laws of man except as he is deceived or ignorant. No one after he knows a scientific fact can ignorantly disobey it. So with Science the punishment is in the act. With man's laws it is different; the penalty may follow the act or come after. With Wisdom the laws are science. To know Science is to know Wisdom, and how can a man work a mathematical problem intelligently and at the same time say he is not aware of the fact?
If we know the true meaning of every word or thought we should know what will follow. So a person cannot scientifically act amiss. But being misled by public opinion, we believe a lie and suffer.
I have gone so far that I have reduced certain states to their causes as certain as ever a chemist saw the effect of a chemical change. For instance, take consumption. I know the character of every sensation. Its father or author is a hypocrite and deceiver. I look upon it as the most vile of all characters. It comes to a person under a most flattering form, with the kindest words, always very polite, ready to lend its aid in any way where it can get a hold.
I will illustrate this prince of hypocrites. I will come in the form of a lady, for it has many faces and characters. I enter as a neighbor with the customary salutations and you reply that you seem very well. "Oh, I am very glad, for by what I had heard I was expecting to find you abed. But you can't tell anything by gossip. You do not seem quite so well as when I saw you last." "Oh, yes, fully as well," you say. "Well, you know there are diseases which always flatter the patient. I suppose you have heard of the death of Mr. — " "No, when did he die?" "He died yesterday but was sick a long time. Sometimes he thought he was getting better, but I knew all the time he was running down. But you must not get discouraged because you are like him, for it is not always certain that a person in the same condition you are in has consumption."
Here I make you nervous and you are glad when I leave. Knowing I am not welcome in that form I assume another character. I must now appear as a doctor. I sit down and count your pulse, look at your tongue, take a stick and examine the phlegm that you have raised. Then leaning back in the chair draw a long sigh, and ask if you have a pain in your left side.
The doctor is like a dog that wags his tail while you feed him but when your back is turned will bite you. If superstition is to be put down by scientific facts, it is useless to mince matters. If a person is aiding an enemy, he is as guilty as the thief. I want you to know that every word that is spoken is either matter or Wisdom. Opinions are condensed into a belief. So, if I [as a typical doctor] tell you that you have congestion of the lungs I impart my belief to you by a deposit of matter in the form of words. As you eat my belief it goes to form a disease like its author, my belief grows, comes forth, and at last takes form as a pressure across the chest. The doctor comes to get rid of the enemy and by his remedies creates another disease in the bowels. He begins to talk about inflammation of the bowels. This frightens you. The fright contracts the stomach so the heat cannot escape, and causes a flush in the face which you call a rush of blood to the head. It makes you feel sleepy and weak; you lie down; then the stomach relaxes and the heat passes down into the bowels, this causes pains. You call it "inflammation."
All this is very simple when you know what caused it.
This letter is an essay for you to read, so good-night. Let me know how it works.
P. P. QUIMBY.