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1. His Parents

i. Their Early Lives, in Association with Quimby

It has been said of Dresser,

No one is so well qualified to deal with the [subject of Quimby's views and the teachings developed from them] as Mr. Dresser, for he has the distinction of being the only author in New Thought circles who was born and bread in the atmosphere of the new philosophy as it was imbibed directly from Dr. Quimby, and who is thoroughly acquainted with all of Dr. Quimby's writing.1

Perhaps it should be mentioned at this point that Dresser was not identified exclusively with New Thought, but more of that is to be seen later.

The parents of Dresser were Julius Alphonso Dresser (February 12, 1838-May 10, 1893) and Annetta Gertrude Seabury Dresser (May 7, 1843-December 5, 1935).

In a February 23, 1944, letter to his daughter Dresser identified as his father the man written about in the following quotation from a 1922 Dresser book.

Two generations ago, in a small New England city, a promising young man of


1 Leonard, op. cit., part 1, X (Sept.-Oct., 1905), 3.


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twenty-two lay apparently at the point of death. On both sides of his house the ancestors were physically weak, and all save two in a family of nine had already passed from this life when our record begins. The young man of whom we are speaking was frail in physique. There seemed to be little power of resistance to withstand the oncoming of a disease accounted fatal as matters go in this world of allegiance to material things. In type he was spiritually minded and highly intuitive, inclined to think for himself and exercise individual initiative. He was zealous in religion, devoted to the church, eager in fact to prepare himself for the ministry if his health should permit the completion of his college course. On the side of faith as conventionally understood nothing more could indeed have been asked.

He had joined the church at sixteen with a large measure of emotional enthusiasm. He regularly attended all services and was especially zealous in prayer-meeting. He was a Calvinist, however, in the thorough-going sense of the word. God to him was little more than a Man seated on a white throne of authority outside the world, a God to be admired with awesome reverence rather than a Father to be loved. Naturally our young man, devout as he was, had no idea of the power of divine love as an indwelling presence to be sought as one might turn to a friend. Christianity was a doctrine of salvation interpreted as a Baptist of the period understood it. Salvation as thus conceived by no means included the problems of bodily weakness and ill health. Prayer was for certain purposes. The observances decreed by the church were to be rigidly adhered to, leaving mundane matters for consideration in their proper place. Among these matters was the question of disease, and the physicians of the old school had apparently done their utmost to save this young man.

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Then there came from a wholly unexpected source marvelous change into this young life. This change not only meant that he was rescued from the abyss of death by spiritual means when material methods had failed, but that he was given a new impetus and an understanding of life which enabled him to live on this earth during many years of great usefulness. It will be worth while considering what wrought the change, why it could be so pronounced in the case of a man emphatically spiritual in type, genuinely a Christian as the Gospel was then understood.

There came as if heaven-sent a man whose work among the sick had no place among therapeutic systems commonly known as scientific.1

This man, of course, was Quimby. Dresser says that the healing of his father

was more than victory over death and the successful staying of a disease presumably fatal. It will hardly be possible to see the meaning of this profound turning of a young life from one channel into another if we look at it as a mental cure. The change was the equivalent of a conversion and much more, if by a conversion we mean the adoption of a creed which makes of a worldly man a follower of Christ. For this man had already given himself to Christ. Strange to relate, in adopting the teachings of the new therapeutist he renounced the church as an organization, together with all its observances, also his desire to become a


1 Horatio W. Dresser, Spiritual Health and Healing (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1922), pp. 1-3.


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minister. Yet on the other hand he became more faithfully a follower of Christ than before.

The apparent paradox is resolved when we note that the transition was from the Calvinist deity to faith in God as immanent, loving, guiding Father, immediate and accessible, in a sense as intimate as that of our own self-consciousness when aware that there is an ideal self within us, when we will to have that self become actual in daily life. It meant the conviction that the true God is already present in our spirit to uplift and make us free as rapidly as we come to recognize and respond, admitting the divine life into all parts of our being. It signified the disclosure of the original gospel of health and freedom taught and proved by the Master. Sectarian Christianity no longer existed for him. He reacted against its limitations as against the faults of medical science and practice. Yet he did not in any sense cease to believe in Christ as the true Savior of the world.

That his was a genuine conversion in the practical sense of the word was shown by the fact that, once restored to active service, he began to live by what to him was a new gospel and to give his time to spreading this gospel in the world.1

This is not to say that he immediately set out on his own to spread the message. More will be seen on this point.

Later, our young man was fond of saying that one must set aside all preconceptions for the time being, to grasp the new point of view as a "spiritual science.". . .


1 Ibid., pp. 4-6.

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This gospel involved the idea that Christ is not a Person in the sense in which orthodox believers associate the Son with the Father in the Trinity. The leading idea was that Christ was divine wisdom taught and exemplified by the historical personality, Jesus of Nazareth, whom we begin truly to understand when we make this discrimination. . . ..

Even our young man with all his Christian zeal was as one in a dream. To awaken him was to give him a different idea of what it means to be faithful to the Master, to believe in God and live by the divine wisdom. It was to start from within in the living present, the divine moment of his true selfhood. It was to concentrate upon what man is ideally, touched with the fulness of life by the quickening presence of Christ....

Our young man began to reform the whole man--who needed it less in most respects than many men do. Or, rather the Spirit wrought such regeneration in him. The Spirit summoned him to live a consistent life in mind and body. He was still handicapped, with his frail physique and difficult inheritance. But he began anew to work on and up. He led a triumphant lift of the spirit. That is the great consideration.1

Elsewhere Dresser briefly summarized:

My father, Julius A. Dresser, was a patient and follower of Dr. Quimby, in Portland, Me., from June, 1860, and was in Portland when Mrs. Eddy, then Mrs. Patterson, came from Hill, N. H., to receive treatment. He owed the thirty-three years


1 Ibid., pp. 6-10.


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of his life following 1860 to Dr. Quimby, whose ideas he ardently espoused and often explained to new patients, among them Mrs. Eddy. The first mention of Mrs. Eddy in my father's journal is October 17, 1862, and my mother, Annetta G. Dresser, who was cured by Dr. Quimby after six years of hopeless invalidism, was present when Mrs. Eddy was assisted up the steps to Dr. Quimby's office....

My father lent Mrs. Eddy his copy of the first volume of Dr. Quimby's manuscripts, which she may have copied for herself.1

The journal volume referred to has not been found in connection with the present study, but another still in the possession of the family covers the period November 1, 1861-April 7, 1862. During most of that time J. A. Dresser was at Waterville, Maine, studying in Colby College.2 His journal entries show him as a sensitive, serious, not especially academic sort of person. He was much concerned about religion, and was trying to


1 Horatio W. Dresser, "The Facts in the Case" section of "Christian Science and its Prophetess," The Arena, XXI (May, 1899), 539-40. The first volume of Quimby's manuscripts is published under the title "Christ or Science" as the fourteenth chapter of The Quimby Manuscripts. Mrs. Eddy is better known for her use of "Questions and Answers," chapter 13. See Milmine, op. cit., chapter VIII, especially pp. 128-29; see also the Milmine McClure's Magazine fourth installment, April, 1907, p. 623.

2 A February 6, 1962, letter from the college library, although the registrar was addressed, says that the only information available there "is that in a general catalog of 1920. It states only that he attended Colby 1861-62."

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straighten out his thinking while influenced by both the new Quimby teachings and conventional religious thought. At this time he was maintaining his participation in the organized religious life of the community.

Something of his outlook is shown by a Christmas entry listing the presents that he gave:

I gave (by hanging on the tree) to F. and H. [presumably his sister and brother, Frances and Horatio]' "Hymns of the Ages," & "Lessons in Life," Kate Hawse, "Gold Foil," Amanda Bates, Tuppers Proverbial Philosophy, and bot. [sic] "Self Help" for myself. This morning I gave Abbie Hawse "Lessons in Life," by Timothy Titcomb. I gave, also, books to three of my class of little boys.

Fortunately, he recorded a look back to an earlier time. On November 8 he records:

I got out my old journals--back books written in, to read what was recorded last fall, and observing a book among them in which I commenced a religious journal (i.e. strictly of a religious nature), I took that & read it. I find so many mistakes and strange notions in it that I think I'll burn it, as 'tis very short. But copy a few things.

The first record is concerning my conviction of sin, which took place on my hearing a sermon, at the church where I attended service, in Lawrence, Mass.


1 Their father, Asa Dresser, died February 21, 1854, at 47, and their mother, Nancy Smart Dresser, January 16, 1857, at 46. Some children died at early ages. Of the surviving ones, J. A. was the youngest and Frances (November 29, 1832-July 6, 1870) the eldest.


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That particular event happened on sunday [sic] evening Nov. 27th 1853. Then in my sixteenth year; sixteen the following Feb. On the friday [sic] evening following the sunday [sic] evening of conviction, I experienced a change--pardon, peace and acceptance into the fold of "our Lord and His Christ." Next evening I spoke a few words in prayer meeting, and on the second sunday [sic] following was baptized--immersed of course--by Elder Timothy Cole, of that church, & recd. into the church.

I used to feel it my duty to take some part in nearly every meeting, and commenced very soon to feel it duty to pray. This duty I never faithfully performed, but experienced a great amount of trial with regard to it.

He goes on to lament his human shortcomings, but, as suggested above, he probably had less cause for concern than most people.

The next day he writes:

I burned another journal yesterday, a regular account of life, while at work in the machine shop at Lawrence[,] Mass., which I read immediately after burning the religious journal. It contained an account beginning a few weeks before I met with a change of heart, and was continued for a few weeks after. Would like to have kept it, but I considered it too imperfect.

In addition to his recording conventional religious sentiments, including a desire for the conversion of his brother and sister, J. A. Dresser from time to time refers to Quimby and his teachings. A November 5 entry tells:

This morning I experienced a clearness and command of the truth concerning disease &c, such

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as I have not before had since I learned about it. Horatio & I both woke from sleep by four o'clock, and we had quite a talk about the source & location of pain. He brot. [sic] in disease also, but I knew it was not of any use to speak of that, so I would not talk upon that, but pain alone....

I could not convince him of anything nor he me. But I wonder if it was the opposition alone that gave me that exceedingly clear view of that truth that disease is in the mind, and also enabled me to see just how the temptations come, & how they effect, to make me fear & think in the old way, to distrust this. How much alike are the experiences in the Christian life and in this. But I took the most of that blessing (for it was truly a blessing) as an answer to my prayers. Oh, if I could maintain myself in that same state of mind, that I was in while dressing myself, all of the time, I would be proof against disease, and could conquer some lesser ails in others. I believe that is so!

The brief entries of the next two days do not give additional light on this matter. On the third day, Friday, November 8, 1861, he shows more of his thought in relation to customary religious activities:

Went to prayer-meeting at the Bapt. last night, and Congl. Tuesday night. Took no part (except to sing), though I tho't some of it, as I generally do. I enjoy some parts of a prayer meeting, for instance, Mr Pepper's very feeling address to us, (remarks) last night, and any time when I observe deep feeling in any one who takes a part. But Oh! the coldness & formality of prayer-meetings here I do not like. I expect that I am by far too exacting, and need to set myself right first before I demand anything dift. from others from what I may have given me.


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I wish I knew myself, what & where I am! Perhaps I should have gotten up last night & spoken, if Dr Champlin, & perhaps some other all-knowing (?) and educated (?) heads had not been there. But I dont [sic] like to be criticized. I rather get up to speak before a heart of charity than before a head of systems & rules.

But I should be better off, if I was in that state in which I would get up and say what might be beneficial (to either myself or others or both), always when I deemed it best, and without fear or hesitancy, whoever might be present.

Oh, hard is human nature! Blind & bigoted!

On December 11 he observes:

We had a most excellent meeting last night at the Congl. vestry. 'Twas the regular Congl. prayer-meeting and the best prayer-meeting I have been to in this place. The interest increases, bless God, Mr. Hawse appointed another for friday [sic] night.

I have for several days past been trying to work out the problem of anger, irritability, impatience, so that I may scientifically, as Dr. Q. says, avoid those evils; or, in other words, so I may see, not only its foolishness, in a clearer light, but may see just the source of the impatience, how it affects or moves, as I do in the case of many other evils, to which I am subject, as prejudice, dislike to anything; appetite, amativeness, love lying in bed in cold weather, &c, &c, and that I may guard against the anger and impatience as intelligently and successfully as in case of those others. Pride & vanity, thank God, I can command much better than I used to. These diseases, too, belong to the catalogue. But I have even better success with the

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diseases than with anger and impatience. The latter seem to be hard to detect, as I wish to see them. Yet I proved that, like the other evils, the source of them is the flesh. For, when I was angry I lost my clear view of the flesh and its influence, its temptations, looking from the spirit, or in other words, I departed from the spirit into the flesh, I lived no longer in the flesh. Hence the conclusion is plain, that the anger is in the flesh. Yet I cant [sic] detect its approach and ward it off so as in the case of the other evils.

On December 14 he reports without details, "Some firey trials come up, now-a-days, concerning anger and impatience; but I trust I am gradually working out the problem and becoming wiser." On the same day he says that

while at Mr Pepper's, . . . I got into a discussion upon scripture, which lasted about an hour, and then we took long walk, . . . all the while discussing theology, &c. He brought out of me about the whole theory of things, that that is so different from others views.

He really agreed with me much better than I had an idea of me, and ... there was a great deal of truth in what I said, but that I carried it too far. Our talk before [referred to in his entry for the 9th] was a week ago tonight, and this time, as then, I got into a considerable of doubt and difficulty from hearing his views, although I tho't after we parted tonight that there was little reason for my being moved from my views this time, as came so near me, comparatively, But O, that is just my disposition. Oh! too weak to be described on paper!! But very likely I am not right in all I think. But I must be proved out of it. God will guide me! After coming home I felt a very unusual forbearance,


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mingled with love, towards my sister. Indeed I never felt so well disposed, and never talked so calmly, and patiently, as when we discussed so long [?], at tea time, our disagreements. And I could attribute the same to nothing except my talking and maintaining my ground upon what I did.

After mentioning academic and health difficulties on March 4, 1862, J. A. Dresser says,

Frances has been thinking lately of going to see Dr Quimby, and I have been thinking it would, likely, do me good, so have both decided to go tomorrow, if pleasant.

The next entry, dated Wednesday, March 12, tells of being delayed a day by snow and of the trip, followed by:

F. sat with Dr. Q. soon after getting there, & was benefitted. I sat with him, also, that afternoon, and recd. great benefit. I had been feeling debilitated, and he roused me up. Mr. Haines told me next day that the afternoon before he thot. I looked more like I did when he first saw me, in Sept. 1856 (when I was quite unwell . . .) than at any other time since then.

I sat with Dr Q. twice & recd. much benefit, but it was difficult to keep my spirit up all the time. But the good I got still continues to benefit me. F. & I both stopped at the International Hotel, but I guess for the last time.

I left on saturday [sic] noon & came back to Wat....

Recd. also a letter from F. last night. Said she went to Dr Qs room after I left & shed a "few briny tears, which Dr Q. said ought to be bottled as valuables."

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On Friday, March 14, he rejoined F. in Portland. The following Tuesday his remarks include:

I thot. some of going back to Waterville today, but wanted to talk more with Dr Q., so delayed....

How much better I do feel & get along physically under the influence of the (as it seems) more sensible way of thinking!!

Back in Waterville he found renewed "inclination to sickness" and "disinclination to books," especially when not feeling well. He considered transferring to Bowdoin College.

The journal of Julius Dresser is most helpful, not only because of the information that it gives about his own difficulties in coming to accept the Quimby views that became his own, but because it shows something of the atmosphere prevailing at the time. From reading his forthright account one comes to appreciate the gap that it was necessary for one to bridge in moving from conventional religion to Quimby. One also learns something of the living conditions then prevailing. As an important record of that time and place, the closing pages of the journal are quoted at length below.

On Saturday, April 5, 1862, he wrote:

Came to P[ortland] on Thursday [?]. Couldn't stop longer in Waterville. I am too susceptible to the influences that may exist around me, to live in so much error ... in my present weak condition. So I have come to P. to stay until I can go away from here and accomplish something.

Thought of bringing my books & making up this present college term, & last fall's term, but came away in a hurry, and had no convenient


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trunk, nor room in my carpetbag, so left them. I guess it was just as well.

Frances has improved some since she has been here, but has set herself against Dr Q's views, and partly against him, (because he dont just exactly meet her sensitive nature), so she cant improve much yet, while she stands thus. She returns to W. on monday or tuesday. I found a pleasant boarding place yesterday, Mr. Chas. Farley's, at No. 3 Federal St. They are a fine family. Have four daughters & one son at home. Two or three sons away. Pay $3.50 per week for my board & have washing included. They are not so lively at least so far, as I wish they were. I am bound [?] for a good time now, like I had a year ago last fall. And I intend to get back where I was then in the possession of the truth. But Dr Q. has so many sick folks to attend to that I can get but little opportunity to speak with him. I brot. Robinson's flute with me from Waterville, and think some of taking lessons & learn to play it.

Monday 7th, 8 A.M. Heard Mr. Stebbins preach a doleful sermon on death yesterday morning, but heard some fine music there. They have the best choir that there is, likely, in the state (Stone church, Unitarian).

In the afternoon went to Dr. Quimby's room and discussed truth & error. Frances came in after meeting (knowing I was there), and stopped a while. She never listens to Dr Q. when she can keep her mind on something else, because he dont come to her requirements, so did not then, though three or four of us were listening (Mrs Q., Mrs Thacher, & I, also Miss Deering [presumably the one whose name appears on some Quimby writing that she once had in her possession; see The Quimby Manuscripts. 1st ed., p. 18, 2nd ed., p. 24]), all that were present beside F. After a while F. said to me

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that she wished I could have heard Mr Dwight, that he preached beautifully. That made me a little angry, though it ought not to have had that effect. But even if she did dislike Dr Q's talk, it did not follow that I disliked it also, and I was not to forbear hearing to assist her in her conceit. She irritates me strangely, and I her, though I wish it was not so, and dont like to be writing such a thing. I hope, however, after I learn more of the truth that I will be able to bear every such thing. I cant endure the thought of having to bear it by self control. I want to gain a free & willing forbearance. No, I mistake. It would not be forbearance, that I know of, if free & willing I want to learn to act wisely at all such times.

I wrote to Mrs Hawes, Abbie & Kate on saty, inviting a discussion of what I have been telling them, viz, this truth. Suppose Kate, only, will take it up. Wrote that I would like all the honest opposition that they could bring against me, by giving all their own objections, bible quotations, references to anything, & sayings and assertions of Mr Hawes (their minister. No relation). Said I would like it on several accounts, namely, it would be assistance to me, to give the answers, would bring up points that I might overlook (what help I wanted I should get from Dr Q.), and it might be instructive to them.

I see more and more now as time passes, the foolishness of the world's views of things, bible & nearly everything.

There has been a great deal more going on in my mind upon the subject of Dr. Q's views since I came to Pd. a month ago (with Fs.) and also was last fall when & after I came to Pd for a few days, & through the winter too, than I wrote in my journal. Indeed I have written but very little about those things since my first falling back into error


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a year ago last fall (when I unwisely talked so much with others that I found them too much for me. Some were smarter than I, & beat me), even when I was thinking a great deal, as was the case last fall, has been to some extent through the winter, and very much during the past month. I want now, and intend to get back where I was when I left Portland for Waterville, one year ago last August (28th). And in the future I'll know enough to keep my tongue still when I can't conquer, which would be often.

It was remarkable how easily I fell into this way of thinking, or theory, or truth, when I came again where I heard it talked, last Oct. For about a year (not quite) I had lived in disbelief of it, having, about the last of the Oct. previous closed, through the conquering influence of others, I being away from any one who knew the truth, my very earnest &, to me, bright career in believing & preaching (and partly living--in joy--) this noble, liberal, high and holy truth (not holy in that very hypocritical, sanctimonious sense). I even thought of meeting Dr Q. as an opposer, some day; intending to fortify myself and expecting to present some knock-down arguments to him, such is the natural conceit I have, which is illustrated also in the case of my pitching into everybody, right & left, upon the truth, when I went to Waterville in Oct. '60, thinking I was going to conquer. But a part of that, though, may be over-confidence. But when I came to see Dr Q. last fall, without my consent, and almost unawares [?] to myself I fell, into the upright way, in spite of my boasted (to myself) ability to meet & oppose Dr Q. Then I met that Mr Carter here also, who had a great deal of influence over me. I went home, at that time, not knowing just what to think. Mr Carter told me to remain in the church & to pray,

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& so I did. After a while I got interested, with some others, in helping others to become religious, and gave much attention to that all through the winter. I spoke in the prayer meetings, and perhaps I say not wrong if I say that, I was one of the principle [sic] getters up of the late revival there. I took my letter from the Yth. [Yarmouth?] church & joined the Waterville Baptist church in Oct., and was one of their most active members.

I had some hesitancy, in Oct., after leaving Pd., to having an outward form of prayer, but I yielded to what seemed best, and took the form. But never, during the last year & a half, have I regularly had more than one kneeling prayer, which seemed enough. And in all this time I have had some difficulty in asking forgiveness of sin.

It did not seem necessary to ask forgiveness, tho' I could not account for that, but wanted to acct. [?] full [?] [act free ?] [add faith?] During the winter I thought sometimes about those common exhortations in the meetings, & wished I knew just what was right. But I wanted to do good & thinking that that was the best way I knew, I took hold on [in?] the old form, & was active. When I was home this last time they (the church brethren) noticed my apparent coldness, and some spoke with me. But now I may expect a warm time with them at some time in the future.

In one of Dresser's later writings, quoted in Appendix B in relation to Quimby, he tells of "a man [J. A. Dresser, no doubt] of frail physique who was suffering from typhoid pneumonia" who was removed from the critical phase of his illness by [Quimby's] silent treatment before being told the explanation for his disease,


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including the statement "Your religion is killing you."1 Dresser continued undoubtedly about his mother, with an account of a

case [in which] the chief bondage was not doctrinal, although this patient was also very religious; it was with regard to the patient's physician. This was a young woman of nineteen who had been an invalid for five years and had been given up as hopeless by several physicians, the disease being known rather vaguely as "spinal complaint." Despite the fact that these physicians had tried to find a cure, and had inflicted painfully exacting methods of bodily treatment, including cauterizing over the supposed vital spot in the spine, the patient still believed in the old-school practice and was devotedly attached to the family physician. In fact she was taken to Quimby amidst protestations that he was an "old humbug." Still loyal to her doctor, sustaining her loyalty by belief in his medicines and methods, her attitude was partly sustained by her religious faith. Moreover the mode of life to which she had been subject since her health broke down when she was a schoolgirl of fourteen had tended to reinforce her allegiance to everything pertaining to old-time methods. Her emotional life was greatly repressed. She had been deprived of all opportunities for physical exercise and social contacts. During the major part of the time she had been confined to her room, if not to her bed, hampered in every respect by physical weaknesses; still more by nervous disability and mental disturbances. Hence the force of Quimby's remark when he said "I am going to make you mad with your doctor today." Proceeding to carry out what he said during the


1 Horatio W. Dresser, "Quimby's Technique," p. 25.

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silent part of the treatment, the treatment had the effect of transferring her allegiance so that she reacted as forcefully against her doctors as the young man above mentioned against his Calvinism. The major servitude to old-time patterns once broken, the secondary bondages were broken more readily. In all this it is not a question of "influence" as if to compel a person to change allegiances. The patient must "get the picture," in line with what the therapeutist is accomplishing spiritually, so that the whole chain of adverse relationships shall fall. This done, re-education can begin. Quimby's work for these two people was as great as anything that can be accomplished for the human soul.

Was Quimby's technique always as efficacious? No, because some people resisted almost from the start. Some were healed in part, as in the case of a patient [Mary Baker Eddy?] who became an enthusiastic follower for a time only, and then branched out for herself, the deeper issues of her life being left unresolved. Now and then a patient was unwilling to face vital issues, but still clung to self-love, to pride, or whatever may have been the chief deterrent, such as an attempt at serving two masters. The patient who followed part way usually demurred when it became a question of the ruling love. If however a patient was willing to make any needed change, while also interiorly receptive, Quimby could apply his technique to the full.1

There is scarcely any doubt that Dresser was writing of his parents, probably about seventy years after


1 Ibid., pp. 26-27.


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their healings, but at a time when his mother still was available to check the information, if Dresser thought that necessary.

Her own remarks are of equal interest as Dresser history and as information about Quimby:

It was some time in 1860 that I first heard of Dr. Quimby. He was then practising his method of curing the sick in Portland, where he had been located about a year. My home was a few miles from that city, and we often heard of the wonderful work he was doing.1

Mrs. Dresser continued after telling of her own case.

The most vivid remembrance I have of Dr. Quimby is his appearance as he came out of his private office ready for the next patient. That indescribable sense of conviction, of clearsightedness, of energetic action,--that something that made one feel that it would be useless to attempt to cover up or hide anything from him,-made an impression never to be forgotten. Even now in recalling it; after thirty-three years, I can feel the thrill of new life which came with his presence and his look. There was something about him that gave one a sense of perfect confidence and ease in his presence,--a feeling that immediately banished all doubts and prejudices, and put one in sympathy with that quiet strength or power by which he wrought his cures.

We took our turns in order, as we happened to come to the office; and, consequently, the reception room was usually full of people waiting their turn. People were coming to Dr. Quimby from


1 A. G. Dresser, op. cit., p. 43.

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all parts of New England, usually those who had been given up by the best practitioners, and who had been persuaded to try this new mode of treatment as a last resort. Many of these came on crutches or were assisted into the office by some friend; and it was most interesting to note their progress day by day, or the remarkable-change produced by a single sitting with the doctor. I remember one lady who used crutches for twenty years, who walked without them after a few weeks.

Among those in waiting were usually several friends or pupils of Dr. Quimby, who often met in his rooms to talk over the truths he was teaching them. It was a rare privilege for those who were waiting their turn for treatment to listen to those discussions between the strangers and these disciples of his, also to get a sentence now and then from the doctor himself, who would often express some thought that would set us to thinking deeply or talking earnestly.

In this way Dr. Quimby did considerable teaching; and this was his only opportunity to make his ideas known. He did not teach his philosophy in a systematic way in classes or lectures. His personal explanations to each patient, and his readiness to explain his ideas to all who were interested, brought him in close sympathy with all who went to him for help. But further than that he had no time for teaching, as he was always overrun with patients, although it was his intention to revise his writings and publish them.1

Perhaps overlooking Evans or considering his early work in healing only experimental, she says of Quimby that


1 Ibid., pp. 47-49.


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if any one evinced any particular interest in his theory, he would lend his manuscripts and allow his early writings to be copied. Those interested would in turn write articles about his "theory" or the Truth," as he called it, and bring them to him for his criticism. But no one thought of making any use of these articles while he lived, nor even to try his mode of treatment in a public way; for all looked up to him as the master whose works so far surpassed anything they could do that they dared not try.

Among the more devoted followers were the daughters of Judge Ware . . . and Mr. Julius A. Dresser, also of Portland, who spent much of his time for several years in the endeavor to spread Dr. Quimby's ideas.

It was also at this time, 1862, that Mrs. Eddy, author of "Science and Health," was associated with Dr. Quimby; and I well remember the very day when she was helped up the steps to his office on the occasion of her first visit. She was cured by him, and afterwards became very much interested in his theory. But she put her own construction on much of his teaching, and developed a system of thought which differed radically from it.

This does not seem strange when one considers how much there was to learn from a man as original as Dr. Quimby, and one who had so long investigated the human mind. Unless one had passed through a similar experience, and penetrated to the very centre of things as he had, one could not appreciate his explanations sufficiently to carry out his particular line of thought. Hence none of the systems that have sprung up since Dr. Quimby's death, although

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originating in his researches and practice, have justly represented his philosophy....1

Information concerning Mrs. Eddy introduces a fact of interest concerning J. A. Dresser; at some time he was at a water cure establishment, whether as a patient it is not clear. A quotation from his journal entry apparently of October 17, 1862, says:

The most peculiar person I have seen of late is Mrs. Patterson, the authoress, who came last Friday, a week ago today, from Vail's Water Cure in Hill, N. H., where Melville, Fanny Bass, and I were, and is now under Dr. Quimby, and boarding also at Mrs. Hunter's. She was only able to get here, and no one else thought she could live to travel so far, but today she, with Mrs. Hunter and sister, Nettie [a footnote explains: Annetta Seabury, later Mrs. Julius Dresser] and I went up into the dome of the "New City Building" up seven flights of stairs, or 182 steps.   So much for Dr. Quimby's doings.2

This quotation is of considerable worth here for its showing that J. A. Dresser and his future wife apparently were well by that time. It also suggests that he did not know the future Mrs. Eddy before she went to Quimby. One might get a contrary impression from the following:

When Mary reached Doctor Vail's Sanatorium [during the summer of 1862], she found that Doctor Quimby of Portland and his work were one of the


1 Ibid., pp. 49-51.

2 Ernest Sutherland Bates and John V. Dittemore, Mary Baker Eddy [:] The Truth and the Tradition (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1932), p. 88.


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main topics of conversation. The whole Sanatorium seemed to be in a state of vague unrest and expectancy. Several of the patients had actually been to Portland and seen Quimby. One Julius Dresser--afterwards to figure so prominently in Mary Patterson's life and story--returned to the Sanatorium from such a visit shortly after Mary got there. He was much improved in health and quite enthusiastic about Quimby's work and methods.

Mary [who previously had tried to get Quimby's help] was more than ever satisfied that she must get to Portland at all costs.1

Perhaps she heard of J. A. Dresser, but did not meet him then. Whatever the facts about these matters may be, they do not seem to be of great consequence.

It is said that when she reached Portland, she "was received by Julius A. Dresser and introduced to Dr. Quimby."2

While most details of Mrs. Eddy's story cannot be dealt with here, the reactions of people to her when she visited Quimby may be of some importance in relation to the later relations between her and J. A. Dresser. It is reported that Quimby told another patient that she was "not so quick to perceive the Truth as Mrs. Patterson,"3


1 Hugh A. Studdert-Kennedy, Mrs. Eddy [:] Her Life, Her Work and Her Place in History (San Francisco: The Farallon Press, 1947), pp. 110-11; see also pp. 132 and 305 for assertions that it was J. A. Dresser's reports that were instrumental in causing her to call on Quimby.

2 Milmine, op. cit., p. 56.

3 Bates and Dittemore, op. cit., p. 95.   Milmine, op. cit., p. 62; installment 2, XXVIII (February, 1907), 349.

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and that "Quimby at first took a decided liking to her. 'She's a devilish bright woman,' he frequently said."1 It is reported that some around Quimby were

doubtful, not of Mrs. Patterson's intelligence, but of her character. Annetta Seabury suspected her of being too ambitious, George Quimby warned his father that she would steal his ideas, and Quimby himself admitted that she lacked "identity" or integrity. [A footnote adds: On the authority of Horatio Dresser, who received this information from his parents and from Mrs. McKay, formerly Sarah Ware.] It is significant that she never was asked to join George Quimby and the Misses Ware in copying Quimby's manuscripts and never saw any of them save two [mentioned above] ...2

Just how long J. A. Dresser continued to devote much of his time to explaining Quimby's views to new patients seems not to be known. Nor does it seem to be known whether he ever spent his full time at it. It seems unlikely that Quimby could have afforded to hire him for the purpose. The Dressers were married in September, 1863, and after that J. A. Dresser "took up newspaper work in Portland."3


1 Milmine, op. cit., pp. 57-58; McClure's Magazine installment 2, XXVIII (February, 1907), 347-48.

2 Bates and Dittemore, op. cit., p. 95.   That Quimby believed that she had "no identity in truth" was the way that Dresser once put it in a letter. See Appendix E, his letter to El. Compare Quimby on identity in Appendix A.

3 Milmine, op. cit., p. 79 n, installment 2, p. 509 n.


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On January 16, 1866, Quimby died. On February 1, 1866, Mrs. Eddy had the historic fall on the ice, which it is claimed was followed on the third day by the revelation1 on which Christian Science is supposed to be founded. On February 14, or 15, 1866, she wrote to J. A. Dresser appealing for help, and urging him to step into the place left by Quimby, as she considered him the one best qualified.2 However, he

was now engaged in newspaper work in Portland and was at the moment in no mood to take up the task of becoming Quimby's successor. Knowing Mrs. Patterson well, he was not particularly alarmed over her condition. From the tone of his reply it is evident that he assumed that she had exaggerated the seriousness of her plight.

"I am sorry to hear of your misfortune, and hope that with courage and patience neither the prediction of the doctor nor your own fears will prove true, and I think they won't. That is my prediction. . . . You say you have not, in your troubles, placed your intelligence in matter, and yet you are slowly failing. If you believe you are


1 Sibyl Wilbur, The Life of Mary Baker Eddy (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing society, 1923, originally 1907), p. 130.

2 Both dates are given. See The Quimby Manuscripts 1st ed., p. 163; Bates and Dittemore, op. cit., p. 109; Studdert-Kennedy, op. cit., p. 132; Fleta Campbell Springer. According to the Flesh [:] A Biography of Mary Baker Eddy (New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1930), p. 133; Milmine, op. cit., pp. 69-70, correcting the February 1 date given in installment 2, p. 354; and Edwin Franden Dakin, Mrs. Eddy: The Biography of a Virginal Mind (New York: Charles Scribner & Sons 1930), p. 60.

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failing, then your intelligence is placed in matter. But if you can really place your intelligence outside of matter then do so, and let the Devil take the hindmost or what he can get. Be assured he can't get you, nor any part of you. Keep your intelligence, which is yourself, out of your matter, and the Devil or death won't get you, for he is in matter, and that's what's the matter."

With regard to the vacant throne of Quimby, the following words of Dresser must have been pondered long and seriously by Mrs. Patterson, for she later turned them to good account.

"As to turning doctor myself, and undertaking to fill Dr. Quimby's place and carry on his work, it is not to be thought of for a minute. Can an infant do a strong man's work?" To be sure he did a great work, but what will avail in fifty years from now, if his theory does not come out, and if he and his ideas pass among the things that were, to be forgotten? He did work some change in the minds of the people, which will grow with the development and progress in the world. He helped to make them progress. They will progress faster for his having lived and done his work. So with Jesus. He had an effect that was lasting and still exists. He did not succeed nor has Dr. Quimby succeeded in establishing the science he aimed to do. The true way to establish it is, as I look at it, to lecture and by a paper and make that the means, rather more than the curing, to introduce the truth. To be sure faith without works is dead, but Dr. Quimby's work killed him, whereas if he had spared himself from his curing, and given himself partly and as considerately, to getting out his theory, he would then have, at least, come nearer


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success in this great aim than he did." [Footnote: Julius Dresser to Mrs. Patterson, March 2, 1866.]1

ii. Their Later Lives

Possibly his turning to newspaper work was related to his idea of publishing Quimby's ideas. He may have sought publishing experience and perhaps even a plant. In 1866 he "moved to Webster, Mass., where he edited and published the Webster Times."2

The death of Quimby was a great shock to Mr. and Mrs. Dresser. It was generally expected by Quimby's followers that Mr. Dresser would take up the work as Quimby's successor. Mrs. Dresser hesitated to attempt it publicly, knowing her own and her husband's sensitiveness, and after consideration they decided not to undertake it at that time. "This," says Mr. Horatio W. Dresser, "was a fundamentally decisive action, and much stress should be placed upon it. For Mrs. Eddy naturally looked to father as the probable successor, and when she learned from father that he had no thought of taking up the public work, the field became free for her. I am convinced that she had no desire previous to that time to make any claims for herself. Her letters give evidence of this."

Mr. Dresser's health again weakened from overwork, and after living in the West for a time he returned to Massachusetts and began his public


1 Bates and Dittemore, op.cit., pp. 109-10, ellipsis there.

2 Milmine, op.cit., p. 79n., installment 3, March, 1907, p. 509.

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work as mental teacher and healer. In Boston Mr. Dresser found that Mrs. Eddy's pupils and rejected pupils were practising with the sick, and he believed that their work was inferior to Quimby's. This gave him confidence to begin. In 1882 Mr. and Mrs. Dresser began to practice in Boston, and in 1883 they were holding class lectures, teaching from the Quimby manuscripts and practising the Quimby method.

From this the facts with regard to Mrs. Eddy and Mr. Quimby spread, and this was this beginning of the Quimby controversy.1

It may be that the Dressers began their public healing before moving to Boston. In a biography of Mrs. Eddy by a Christian Scientist who resigned from tho church, but wrote "a reverent, eminently appreciative work [that, however,] failed to win official approval,"2 it is reported:

Shortly after Quimby's death, Dresser, who had married, went west, and for some years he and his wife practised a form of mental healing out there. By 1881-1882, word of the new system being taught in Boston reached him, and when he found that the Mrs. Eddy who was identified with the movement was the Mary Patterson he had known in Portland, he determined to make his way east again and see what was going forward.

His first impression, before he set out, was possibly that Mrs. Eddy was making a success of


1 Ibid.

2 Charles S. Braden, Christian Science Today: Power, Policy, Practice (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1958), p. 12.


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"Quimbyism," and, remembering her regard for himself and the appeal she had made to him for help, he may have thought that he might as well have his share in any success that was being achieved.

He did not approach Mrs. Eddy directly after his arrival in Boston. He decided to have all the facts before he made any move, and these facts when he discovered them were not at all to his liking. As the result of judicious enquiry and sundry visits to Hawthorne Hall, all he could see in Mrs. Eddy's teaching was something very like an "apostasy" from Quimby. As George Quimby was to write several years later, "the teaching was all too evidently her own," but it ought to be the teaching of Quimby.

The possibility that what Mrs. Eddy was teaching was something she herself had evolved never occurred to him apparently. Mrs. Eddy, the Mary Patterson who for four years had been associated with Quimby and himself, ought to be teaching Quimbyism and that was all there was about it as far as Julius Dresser was concerned. If she was not teaching Quimbyism, then she must be teaching something fraudulent and in any event was clearly guilty, in some inexplicable way, plagiarism.1

Without entering into the details of the controversy, it can be said that it was maintained that although Mrs. Eddy had various thoughts of her own, the basic insights and even terminology came from Quimby. Supporters of Quimby could disown Christian Science because of its Eddy elements and at the same time attribute to Quimby its "grain of wisdom ... mixed with


1 Studdert-Kennedy, op. cit., pp. 305-306.

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a great quantity of chaff,"1 as it was put in the opening letter of the controversy, published in the Boston Post on February 8, 1883, giving some of J. A. Dresser's information. Had Mrs. Eddy granted what Quimby's supporters claimed for him and proceeded to assert the superiority of the features of her thought that differed from Quimby's substantially, the present situation promptly could have been reached: the recognition of Christian Science as one interpretation of what it means for existence be spiritual. Presumably it would have been with Mrs. Eddy as it was with Evans, who worked out a system that Dresser believed finally differed considerably from Quimby's but brought about no personal disputes. There would have been philosophical competition but not the resentment that followers of Quimby understandably felt over misrepresentations of his views, which were offered apparently to make Christian Science seem wholly different from the thought of Quimby.

In addition to writing to newspapers, and producing The True History of Mental Science in 1887, J. A. Dresser did some writing for healing periodicals that came to be established, and with his wife remained in practice in Boston. In the teaching that they did they were joined by Horatio W. Dresser. His life, in connection with which some additional details of the life of his father will be seen, is to be considered next.

2. His Life

i. Early Years

The day before Quimby died, Horatio Willis Dresser was born. This was at seven o'clock in the


1 Bates and Dittemore, op. cit., p. 233.


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morning on January 15, 1866, in Yarmouth, Maine. He was the first child of Julius and Annetta Dresser. He was followed by Ralph Howard (1872-1873), Jean Paul (1877-1935), who found his career in the New Church [Swedenborgian] ministry, and Philip Seabury (1885-1960), who took the name David Seabury, dropping Dresser, and was best known as a writer of books and articles in a New Thought vein.

Dresser lived in various places as a boy, for his father edited newspapers in Dansville, New York; Denver, Colorado; and Oakland, California.1

Financial necessities compelled him to leave school at the age of thirteen and to learn a trade, and having chosen telegraphy, he at the age of sixteen, took charge of a railroad station at Pinole, Cal., on the Central Pacific. Removing to Boston, Mass., in 1882, he became a reporter, and later business manager of the "New England Farmer," meanwhile giving as much time as possible to general reading. He fitted himself for Harvard, though he had never attended a high school, and matriculated there in 1891; but owing to the death of his father he left college during his junior year, and took up the work of writing and lecturing. He has been a serious student of Emerson since the age of seventeen, and intensely fond of philosophy.2 [He took part in the founding of a New Thought organization called the Metaphysical Club of


1 National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, XI (1901), 110.

2 This is dealt with below.

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Boston in 1895,1 an organization not to be confused with the informal, more academic "Metaphysical Club" of some years before then. ]2 In October, 1896, he founded the "Journal of Practical Metaphysics," and this periodical he edited until 1898, when it was consolidated with "The Arena," of which Mr. Dresser was for a time associate editor. In December, 1899, he founded "The Higher Law," a periodical of advanced ideals.3

This publication ceased in 1902, at which time he was conducting a correspondence course in "practical spiritual philosophy"4 and, with Warren A. Rodman, an Institute of Metaphysics.5

From 1896 to 1898 he was the proprietor of the Philosophical Publishing Company.6


1 Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement, pp. 181-82.

2 Schneider, op. cit., pp. 519-20.

3 National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, XI (1901), 110.

4 Advertisement in The Higher Law, V (August-September, 1902), 228, if the pages of advertisements were numbered.

5 Advertisement in The Higher Law, V (February, 1902), iii-iv, if numbered.

6 Dresser entry in The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, the pages of which are not numbered.


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On March 17, 1898, he married Alice Mae (originally Mattice) Reed (March 7, 1870-August 19, 1961), whom he met the previous summer at a Greenacre New Thought session, at which her brother, Frederick Reed, was a manager and Dresser a lecturer.1 She had received her A.B. degree from Wellesley College in 1893, and was a teacher of Latin and history in Natick, Massachusetts, High School.

Some details of his life are best left for mention in consideration with his thought, as distinguished from this account primarily of the "external" side of his life. Here it is enough to say that in Harvard he received his Ph.D. degree in philosophy in 1907, and served as an assistant in philosophy from 1903 to 1911.

As he went on in his academic work, he became less closely identified with New Thought. A 1902 article says that "he has recently resigned from all organizations, desiring to be identified only with his own interpretation of Christ's teaching."2

The reports of the Harvard College Class of 1895 provide valuable information given by Dresser. In the 1902 (second) Report he says, "My residence since leaving college has been Boston, and my occupation, author, lecturer and editor." (p. 129) After listing his publications and marriage he mentions that he "travelled in Holland, Switzerland and England in summers of 1898 and 1899." (p. 130)

The 1905 Report, which contains a warning that the sketches of the men may not be exact quotations, finds


1 Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement, pp. 177-78 and conversation with Mrs. Dresser, August 30, 1960.

2 Paul Tyner, "The Metaphysical Movement," The American Monthly Review of Reviews, XXV (March, 1902), 314.

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Dresser reporting more writing, the birth of his daughter Dorothea, now Mrs. Charles H. Reeves, on December 18, 1901 [still living in 1992], and:

In 1902 I returned to Cambridge to complete my philosophical training, and have now nearly finished the requirements for a Ph.D. in philosophy at Harvard. Since September, 1903, I have been assistant in philosophy at Harvard and Radcliffe, and in 1904 I was Professor Royce's assistant in the Summer School. With the publication of "Man and the Divine Order" my work as a popular writer and lecturer was completed, and I am now fitting for a professorship in the history of philosophy and ethics. (p. 47)

The publication of that book in 1903 did not close that phase of his career. In the fourth Report, in 1910, Dresser adds word of the birth of his son, Malcolm, on October 14, 1905 [died August 15, 1985], and the completion of his academic degrees. In part he says:

My time has been devoted to teaching, lecturing, and writing, and there is little of importance to tell apart from this work in the philosophical field. I have undertaken to establish vital connections between philosophy and practice by giving a part of my time to technical studies, and all the rest to individual and practical needs. Accordingly, I have held a position as assistant in philosophy ... and published books from year to year on the topics that have grown out of my private teaching outside of the university. "The Philosophy of the Spirit," published in 1908, is the book into which I have put most time and thought. Appended to this volume is my doctor's thesis on Hegel's Logic.... I have lectured before various societies round about, and served a short term as professor of applied psy-


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chology in the Massachusetts College of Osteopathy. I am a member of the Old South Club, of Boston, and president of the Harvard Philosophical Club. (p. 61)

By the time of the fifth Report in 1915, he was living at 139 Mason Terrace, Brookline, Massachusetts, but the move was not directly from Cambridge. He mentions lecturing in "Hartford, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, London, and other cities," and after referring to assisting Professor Palmer in the history of philosophy and ethics, continues:

In 1911 I went to Philadelphia for a few months, and taught philosophy for a term in Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pa. In 1912 I was appointed professor of philosophy at this college, but resigned in 1913 to return to Massachusetts and resume literary work. In 1911 I established a permanent summer home in Gray, Maine. (p. 80)

At Ursinus he was so well liked that the yearbook, The Ruby, prepared by the junior class, was dedicated to him. Written on a part of that volume in the possession of his family is:

In appreciation of kindly advice and inspiration in the higher things of life, this book is lovingly inscribed to our teacher, Dr. Horatio Willis Dresser, by the Class of 1914, Ursinus College.

In concluding a biographical sketch printed in the book, it is said:

Since coming to Ursinus, Dr. Dresser has gained the respect and esteem of the entire student body. His department is one of the best in the college. Not only is he esteemed as a teacher, but

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his courteous treatment to all, and his wise counsel have won for him a place in the hearts of the students which could not be easily filled by another.1

The briefer account of him in the preceding year's yearbook includes the information that

In 1912, he was elected Professor of Philosophy and Education in Ursinus College, where by reason of putting his personality into his subjects and giving them vital interpretation, he is at this early date meeting with success.

John W. Clawson, in a letter of December 9, 1961, says, "I believe that Dr. Dresser was teaching Education in addition to Philosophy." The Ruby of 1913 refers to him as "Professor of Philosophy." It also says that he received his A.B. degree "with honorable mention three times in philosophy, Magna Cum Laude."

ii. Recollections of People Who Knew Dresser.

Dr. Clawson, professor of mathematics and later dean of the college, indicated that the 1912 date of Dresser's election is incorrect, the faculty being that of 1911-1912. He also says:

I remember him quite well. But he was only with us for two years, 1911 to 1913, and I was not intimate with him. I remember being impressed by his wide interests and information about many things as exhibited in the meetings of a Faculty Men's Club which met from time to time during the academic year.


1 The Ruby, 1913, p. 9.


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He adds that he has "no information as to the reason for his leaving Ursinus."

Some who studied under Dresser at Ursinus have been located. Without exception, they expressed high opinions of him. In the words of Robert L. Matz, "Dr. Dresser was loved by all of us."

Rev. E. Bruce Jacobs recalls, in a letter of January 5, 1962:

I can see him slowly wandering towards his class room, early for class, then seating himself on a log or tree stump, for a period of meditation. This act reveals part of his philosophy of life. He would do it repeatedly.

In his class room, I remember most distinctly his fine English diction. One word which I will always remember as being associated with him was, or is, "awareness." He spoke of awareness with an earnestness and emphasis, quite distinctive.

He also tells of a time two years after his graduation:

I spent a summer in a small town in Ohio, and became quite well acquainted with an eighty year old Quaker citizen of that town. This eighty year old citizen was the leader of a remnant of Quakers in that community, and when he learned that I had been a pupil of Dresser's, I became highly exalted in his opinion.

Apparently Dresser did not make a practice of referring to his books, for until then, "I did not realize the eminence of Dr. Dresser as a lecturer and writer."

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In reply to more questioning, Mr. Jacobs wrote on January 27, 1962,

As I suggested previously, I knew nothing of his religious connections. To me he was a teacher of philosophy, and just what courses he taught I do not know. I know he taught no courses in religion. I have no recollection that he ever referred to Phineas Quimby, Swedenborg, New Thought or Christian Science.

Chester Robbins wrote on December 18, 1961:

I recall Dr. Dresser with great appreciation. I have no recollection, however, that he ever mentioned Swedenborg or New Thought. It seems to me that he was careful not to attempt in any way to indoctrinate his students with his own beliefs. Rather it was his constant endeavor to stimulate his students to think for themselves and encourage them to have the confidence and courage to express their own beliefs.

I remember Dr. Dresser for what he stood for and his approach to teaching rather than for anything he taught. He was one of the most stimulating teachers in whose classes I ever sat. We students had been accustomed to mastering subject matter in text books and reproducing the material in examinations in order to satisfy our instructors. Dr. Dresser insisted on original thinking by the student rather than on reproduction of the views of a text book writer. Perhaps a personal anecdote will illustrate: One of the college "grinds" who had a passion for high marks, dutifully mastered his textbook in preparation for an examination. On the other hand, I read widely and made no attempt to master the text. In response to Dr. Dresser's questions, I gave my own thoughts as a result of my reading. When the marks were given, I received an


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"A" and my classmate a "C." He was outraged and thought it unjust that he received a lower mark than I when he had followed and I had ignored the conventional way of preparing for an examination. He protested to Dr. Dresser who told him very quietly that he was interested in the student's thinking and not in the memorized views of a textbook writer.

Dr. Dresser believed in freedom of thought and the right to express it. While he was in no way an agitator, it was hearsay about the campus that he never hesitated to express his views forthrightly in faculty meetings regardless of the views of his colleagues and the college administration.

Writing under the date January 6, 1962, Walter R. Douthett, says:

I recall that in the year Dr. Dresser was at Ursinus I had one course with him. Not only was he a great and popular teacher but a friend of students on the campus. My outstanding recollection of him was his defense of [a fellow student].

In English Bible Class he was assigned the paper topic "Did Jesus Rise." After very thorough research he arrived at the conclusion that such a person never lived. For this the bible teacher and most of the faculty wanted to expel him. Dr. Dresser came to his defense and saved him.

The fellow student has confirmed the essentials of this incident, with the addition that he was not expressing his own views, but was doing an assigned term paper in relation to an author whose name he does not recall, on "Did Jesus Rise from a Lawyer's Point of View."

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iii. Middle and Later Years

Something omitted from Dresser's account in the Class of 1895 Report may help to explain why he left Ursinus. The records of the New Church Theological School in Cambridge [now in Newton], Massachusetts, indicate that he was both a student and instructor in church history there 1913-1914. It is not clear whether he ever intended to devote his life to the New Church ministry, but he did not do a great deal of preaching

In the sixth Class of 1895 Report, in 1920, he observes that since leaving college he had

taken no part in political or commercial life, or have engaged in any kind of activity on a large scale such as we single out for special mention when it is a question of success. My time has been devoted for the most part to the life of thought, in preparation for the twenty-five volumes I have written during this period. My interests have centered mainly about the inner life, on the problems of self-knowledge and self-control and human efficiency in general. My contacts have been chiefly with people in quest of light in these days of restless inquiry and uncertainty, of dissatisfaction with the teachings of conventional institutions.

I did not give up teaching in college in 1913 because I disliked it, or because of any reaction against philosophy as I was able to expound it, but because it seemed to me that there were men enough who could teach philosophy in the usual way, and my part was to do what others were not doing. Nor am I reactionary so far as the organized church as a whole is concerned: It came my way to associate rather with people who were


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exploring and thinking for themselves, and for whom I seemed to have a message.

At this point he could have added that in the April, 1915, through August, 1917, issues of Home Progress magazine, he edited a "Home History Circle" feature.

The only radical departure from this plan of life came when I enlisted with the Y.M.C.A. for service overseas during the last year of the War. I was fortunate enough to be transferred to a position under the auspices of the Fourth French Army, as director of a Foyer du Soldat, where I had uncommon opportunity to know officers and men, and to realize my main interest in connection with the War, that is, in its human side, its effect upon the men and upon their faith. I came back with increased faith in the principles of thought and life I have acquired in the course of the years. It seemed to me eminently worth while to have this privilege of serving among men who were doing their part so splendidly to win the War, and I would enlist earlier if I were to live over the last three years again. [The editor adds: Dresser received a bronze medal from the Foyer du Soldat, in recognition of his services with the French Army.]

I should find it rather difficult in looking over the twenty-five years to say what ought to have been different, what I would change another time. For life seems to exercise a kind of selection over us all, and our part is to do as well as we may under the destiny assigned to us. I have grown rather naturally into a kind of spiritual empiricism as the best working philosophy of life. It does not seem to matter especially whether one is conversing with people here at home who are troubled, or a French officer in the moonlight amid the dangers

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of air-raids and other ominous events. Everywhere the great interest is life. after all, and one's part is to help people where they are, into a better understanding, a more affirmative faith.

And so my twenty-five years have been divided between more or less interrupted college work and teaching, in conversations with individuals and lectures to small audiences, and the writing of books growing out of these lines of interest and work. The world has used me as well as I deserve meanwhile. I have no complaints to utter. What I would like most to see is the world working as steadily and unitedly for ends worth pursuing in times of peace as I found the Allies and the

"civiles" working in France during the War. That was the greatest event of the twenty-five years-that human contact with united peoples working together as brothers for a noble end.

Aside from these personal matters, I have to report concerning my family life only that which is most pleasant to hear, since the family group remains unbroken. I have had the pleasure of seeing my wife engaged in public service in war time [she did graduate work in dietetics and institutional management in Teachers College, Columbia, University, was associated with the United States Department of Agriculture Home Economics Extension Service, and in the First World War organized and directed the Food Economy Kitchen in Boston's North End] and my children developing in school and daily life. My home has been in or near Boston all this time, save in 1911-13, when I was teaching in Pennsylvania. We have a summer home in Gray, Maine, on the shore of the little [Sebago] lake; and if I have any hobby it is in cutting trees and other rural work during the three months of "the simple life," when we turn to as a family and cultivate soil. (pp. 114-116)


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Of considerable interest in connection with considering his relationship with New Thought is the listing of "clubs and societies": "International New Thought Alliance (Honorary Pres. and Field Sec.)." Perhaps this is to be explained by his having written A History of the New Thought Movement, which was published in 1919.

By the time of the seventh Report, of 1925, he had moved to South Hadley, Massachusetts, as his wife headed a dormitory at Mount Holyoke College from 1923 until 1945. The editor says that Dresser has retired from lecturing since the last Report, and Dresser adds:

I live such a quiet life that ordinarily nothing happens of interest outside of a small group of friends. About four years ago I began work on a series of textbooks for the Crowell Company, in connection with their social science series. The first of these came out in 1924, "Psychology in Theory and Application," a book which undertakes to coordinate all branches of psychology. The second one, "Ethics in Theory and Application," is now being put into type.

Meanwhile I am taking the place of a professor of philosophy in Mount Holyoke College. My daughter, Dorothea, graduated from Radcliffe last June, and my son, Malcolm, is a freshman in Massachusetts Agricultural College.

I wish there were something else to say. It is absorbing work, writing and reading to keep up to date on philosophical subjects, but I have done nothing worth recording since our Twenty-fifth. (p. 75)

The eighth Report, of 1930, finds him saying:

All my time is absorbed in literary work. Nothing else of any importance has happened to me.

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My son was graduated from Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1928 and received his Master's degree from Columbia in 1929. My daughter has presented the family with a fine boy, who is now two and one-half years old. (p. 29)

In the ninth Report, 1935, he refers to his textbook writing and continues:

For four years I have been connected with churches in Brooklyn, [New York,] doing part-time work there in personal problems of all sorts, chiefly by the aid of applied psychology. I use the term "Consultant in Personal Research" to distinguish this work from psychiatry and psychoanalysis. Last year I published a book about this work, "Knowing and Helping People," issued by The Beacon Press, Boston. Meanwhile, I have made my home in South Hadley, Mass., and during the summer I still go to Gray, Maine. (p. 31)

The birth of a granddaughter also was noted.

The fiftieth anniversary, tenth, Report in 1945 republishes some of the earlier material and adds:

Strange to say, some of us may have nothing momentous to report even in war-time. That is my case exactly. Since neither my son nor my son-in-law has been called into service, not my wife and not my daughter, everything has continued as usual. So have I, in my work as consulting psychologist in the clinic in Brooklyn. I have written no more books because when paper is short and printing is costly, I could not produce a book that would appeal to a publisher as a first-rate seller. Sometimes, however,


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business as usual is good news. For if we keep the even tenor of our way we can be of some small service at least to those who find the sledding difficult. Still agreeing with my great teacher, William James [who was like a father to him, Mrs. Dresser said] that there will always be war as long as there are warring passions in the human breast, I find it possible to put people on the right track when increased self-knowledge may lead to better self-control, thus to a victory over inward conflicts. The advance from inwardness to overt social expression may seem slow indeed when one thus advises individuals only, leaving each to make a better adjustment to his group. But that at least is my province until after the duration, "continuance in well doing" being an excellent motto for those whose pathways lie in fairly pleasant places, such as my summer home in Gray, Maine, where I still spend three months each year, cutting our season's wood, and beautifying our pine-clad acres. (pp. 152-53)

At some time he went to Europe to study with Jung and Adler, but details of this are lacking.

Dresser continued his work with the Associated Clinic of Religion and Medicine, later known as the Associated Counseling Service, from 1931 to 1953. This marked the continuance of an old friendship, for the minister of the First Unitarian Church, associated with the clinic, was John Howland Lathrop; they met as Harvard students. It was he who suggested Dresser as the spiritual advisor to succeed Elwood Worcester, who was much better known for his pioneering work in the

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Emmanuel Movement. Both of these undertakings were cooperative endeavors of clergymen and physicians.1 About a year after he retired from this work, Dresser suffered a heart attack, and died in the Osteopathic Hospital in Boston at four o'clock in the morning on March 30, 1954. Since Mrs. Dresser's retirement in 1945 they had been living first with their son and his family in Hartsdale, New York, for eight years and thereafter with their daughter and her family in Marshfield, Massachusetts. He continued his writing and might have published another book if he had lived longer.2

iv. Summarizing Characterizations of Dresser

After making numerous inquiries about Dresser, one is struck by the similarity of reactions to him. Although a considerable proportion of inquiries went to people whose names were suggested by others who had no knowledge of Dresser except what reference works might reveal, the only opinion that might be considered unfavorable was one indirectly transmitted from a person unwilling to be identified, so who could not be questioned about it. This person saw him in connection with his residence at Mount Holyoke College and considered him a "rather sad and ineffectual figure." The following reactions are more representative.

Some very interesting glimpses of her "dear and revered friend, Horatio Dresser," are given in an August 4, 1962, letter of Mrs. Ruth Ricciardi:


1 Part of this information was obtained in a conversation with Dr. Lathrop on October 24, 1960.

2 Correspondence in the Swedenborg School of Religion shows that he was exploring this possibility until nearly the end of his life.


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Our acquaintance began in June 1913 when we met on the station platform where the New York-Portland express had left me. It had been arranged through my college adviser for me to spend the summer with the Dressers as a "mother's helper" at their cottage at Gray, Maine, where people came as paying guests to consult Mr. Dresser. Mr. Dresser's tall, stately figure and fine face, with his slightly greying beard (tho' he was only 47), instantly made me feel confident that I had fallen into good hands.

On our slow trip out to Camp Content [a name it had even before Dresser acquired the place] Mr. Dresser talked gently of his family, whom I had never seen, and incidental things, putting the heart and mind of a shy, timid young stranger at rest.

During my summer's stay with the Dressers I never once saw Mr. Dresser in any but a calm and peaceful frame of mind; when his children misbehaved he talked to them quietly, pointing out the error of their ways in a gentle voice; there were no loud scoldings and spankings.

He had long talks with the people who came to stay with us for the purpose of seeking his advice and help in their mental and spiritual problems, and they went away helped and encouraged.

He had long talks with me under the stars. ... In the evenings he often read to the assembled family beside the crackling fire--for Maine evenings are chilly.

Mr. Dresser had a strong belief in the mental healing of physical ills; he told me of the parlor meetings which his parents had conducted in his youth in an endeavor to help people to help themselves. Mrs. Dresser told me of an incident which had occurred one summer while they were at their cottage; Mr. Dresser had been taken ill with a

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serious intestinal disease for which he refused to have any treatment. By the end of the summer he had cured himself without recourse to medicine, simply by his belief in his mental and spiritual powers.

Mr. Dresser was a deeply religious man but there was very little formal observance of religion in the household; sometimes on Sundays we had an informal gathering in a little clearing among the tall pines and Mr. Dresser would give a little talk, too informal to be called a sermon yet with a serious purpose. He was more inclined to the Quaker form of religious observance than to any other.

His love of nature was immense; when not writing in his upstairs study he was usually in his beloved woods, clearing out underbrush, making paths, cutting down trees which needed to be removed.

I made other visits to Camp Content and always came away feeling better for my association with a truly great man, one of the finest persons I have ever known.

The last time I met him and Mrs. Dresser in New York he was in his eighties and he made a rather sad remark--"We have lived too long." I think he felt that his usefulness had come to an end, and that from then on he might be a burden to his family, though as far as I know he retained his mental faculties and his physical health until a few weeks before his death. [On April 19, 1962, his daughter said that he was sick about a month until his death.]

After his death Mrs. Dresser wrote me that he had been confident that he would meet his parents who were "waiting for him on the other shore......

There was perfect love between Mr. & Mrs. Dresser, and perfect harmony; I never heard cross or angry words exchanged.


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His spiritual counsels, in his daily living as well as in his speeches and his books, must have influenced thousands toward a bettor life.

In an August 17, 1962, letter she continues:

I don't remember ever seeing Mr. Dresser hurry, nor even move fast; he was a large and calm man who planned his work thoughtfully and achieved results with efficiency and economy of movement. He studied and wrote in his upstairs study, we could hear the rattle of his typewriter in the kitchen below. This type of work was done largely in bad weather when he could not work in the woods, or when some thought which had come to him needed to be put down immediately.

In good weather he spent much time in his beloved woods, felling superfluous trees and keeping the wood shed stocked with wood cut for the kitchen stove and the livingroom fireplace, and improving the picturesque, winding path down the hill to the lake. Often we had a beach picnic, sometimes a supper picnic, sometimes an early morning one Mr. Dresser brought kindling and enough odd pieces of wood for the fire which he built and kept going so that Mrs. Dresser could cook our bacon on it. He was very careful to see that the cinders and ashes remaining when we were ready to leave were wet with lake water and covered with sand.

These delightful open-air meals were often finished off with a row on the lake, Mr. Dresser pulling at the oars; he was as good a boatman as he was woodman. In addition to these short boat trips, there was one long one, the highlight of the summer, our trip to Raymond, a town and tourist resort on Big Sebago, a few miles from Little Sebago Lake where the Dressers' summer home was situated. We started early in the morning, taking

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our lunch with us. Mr. Dresser rowed us across the lake with long powerful strokes; after eating our lunch in the woods on the west side of our lake we made sure the boat was securely fastened and then climbed the hill and went down to Raymond on western slope. There we wandered the streets, licking our ice cream cones, Mr. Dresser enjoying the novelty of the trip and the cones as much as the children and I did--he retained his boyish enjoyment of any variation in our everyday living-then we returned home late in the afternoon, Mr. Dresser eager to share the day's exploits with Mrs. Dresser, who had not felt like taking the long trip with us.

Once or twice during the summer he went to visit his mother at Yarmouth, about 15 miles away. As there was no means of transportation he walked--he enjoyed walking--and he had a better view of the scenery than he would have had from a fast-moving vehicle. After spending a night or two with his mother he walked back. Another summer he took the two children and a family friend to see the President Range; they climbed Mt. Washington and one of the children left the family's precious binoculars on a rock there, but when they reached home the incident was closed, there were no lamentations and no unpleasant reminders from Mr. Dresser.

At their urgent invitation I visited Mr. & Mrs. Dresser at camp one summer years later when their children were married and gone and my own were pretty nearly grown up. I went because not only did I want to see them but I had the mistaken idea that they were a lonely old couple in need of company from the outside. How wrong I was! They welcomed me gladly but it was obvious they were perfectly self-sufficient unto each other, they shared the same interests, they laughed at the same jokes, Mr. Dresser teased his wife because he had


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found a gift for him in the morning mail, but she had received none. They read the now defunct Boston Transcript with a good deal of interest, there were trips to town for supplies, and ice cream cones. Mr. Dresser still worked in the woods but not as hard as in his younger days, and we read the Atlantic Monthly by the fire in the evenings.

I have many memory pictures of Mr. Dresser: pushing the wheelbarrow loaded with logs which he had cut up the hill from the woods to be piled neatly in the woodshed; sitting at our long outdoor dining table eating Mrs. Dresser's good New England baked beans--in a bean pot--with gusto, and enjoying apple dumplings with boiled molasses sauce which she made often, "because Horatio is so fond of them"; sitting at the south side of the woodshed in a comfortable old chair, listening to the outpourings of a troubled guest, and giving her strength to go on with her life. And walking up the hill with me in the evenings, talking to me under the stars, before I went to bed.

During the winters when they lived in a small house on their son's property in Hartsdale N.Y. Mr. Dresser was accustomed to spending several days a week at a church in Brooklyn, I believe as a psychologist....

I have barely mentioned Mrs. Dresser because I knew that your chief interest was in Mr. Dresser, but I do want to pay tribute to her--she was a very fine woman and the perfect helpmate for Horatio, to whom she always looked up and loved with a perfect love.

Mrs. Jessie M. Hamilton, in a letter of May 31, 1962, says:

I first knew Dr. Dresser slightly when I was a student at Radcliffe and he was in the Philosophy Department. Later, probably 1916, I

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came across one of his books, "Living By the Spirit," and found his thought very congenial. On the jacket of the book was the information that the author gave a correspondence course on the subject, and I made arrangements to take the course. Since I lived in the Boston area Dr. Dresser suggested I come to his home in Brookline for discussions, and thus I became quite well acquainted with the family.

In the latter part of World War I Dr. Dresser went to France under the War Work Council of the Y.M.C.A., where because of his knowledge of the French language he was assigned to a French camp. Since my family was also temporarily disrupted by the war I went to live with Mrs. Dresser and the children, and remained something over two years after Dr. Dresser's return from France.

It was a real privilege to live in the Dresser home, with two highly intelligent adults and two interesting children. It was a very happy home. It was a very hospitable home, where parents complemented each other well. Mrs. Dresser was more objective than her husband though with a great appreciation for his depth of insight.1 I suspect that it was necessary that she work outside the home at her profession of dietician, for Dr. Dresser's work during that period could not have been very remunerative. He was writing, doing some speaking and some counseling, both by correspondence and in person.


1 On August 30, 1960, in a conversation with Mrs. Dresser, she called herself a good "balance" to her husband; she considering herself "a very practical person." She also said that Dresser was practical, that his philosophy was not just up in the air. But she had a more external approach to things.


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As to my impressions of Dr. Dresser as I look back more than forty years, I remember him as a quiet, scholarly man, a very thorough and logical thinker, an able writer. He was rather retiring; was not active in any group such as a church, or community or other groups. At the same time, in the small, intimate gatherings in his home he talked freely and displayed a good sense of humor.

My impression is that his influence during that period reached a rather small, select group, as you would probably expect because of his retiring personality and because of the profundity of his thought. I think he probably got closer to people in general later on when he worked at counseling in cooperation with doctors in a clinic in Brooklyn, N.Y. I have no detailed knowledge of his work there.

In a letter of July 15, 1962, Mrs. Hamilton elaborates on some points, the most relevant for this study being the following:

Dr. Dresser was instructor in a course in the History of Mediaeval Philosophy which I took at Radcliffe. The professor was Ralph Barton Perry, now deceased. The only time I remember seeing Dr. Dresser was once when Professor Perry was not able to meet the class and Dr. Dresser gave the lecture. He also assisted George Herbert Palmer in his course Philosophy IV, a course in Ethics. He told me once that Professor Palmer told him that he should have remained in teaching. So far as I know none of my classmates knew Dr. Dresser at that time. I didn't until later.

As to the correspondence course, I do not know how many people took advantage of it. It was advertised in some of his books and I suspect

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others like myself were brought in touch with him through this means.

Dr. Dresser was decidedly not in sympathy with Christian Science. You probably have learned about a man named Quimby, who was a spiritual healer. Both Mary Baker Eddy and Dr. Dresser's father were disciples of this man Quimby and the elder Dresser seems to have practised spiritual healing. Dr. Dresser said that Mrs. Eddy got her ideas in the beginning from Quimby and claimed that they originated with her. She developed these ideas further herself and in ways that Quimby would not have approved. For example, the denial of disease was not his conception at all. But the fundamental ideas with which she started were not hers though she claimed them.

Of course Dr. Dresser was himself influenced in his thought by his father and indirectly by Quimby. However, he acquired a thorough education in philosophy and psychology to supplement and perhaps correct these early ideas. His thought as expressed in his books was quite original. I do not think he can be classified with any group such as New Thought or New Church. During the period I knew him I think most of his lecturing was before New Thought groups, though I do not think he identified himself as one of them. His teaching was all his own.

His brother ... was a Swedenborgian minister. During the period with which I am familiar he, Dr. Dresser, was ordained in the ministry of that church but again I do not think he can be classified as a Swedenborgian, though he seemed to be well acquainted with Swedenborg's teachings. Frankly, I think the reason he went into this ministry at this time was that it was a means of gaining a little income at a time when he must have needed it sorely. He substituted in Swedenborgian pulpits for a while and that was about all there was


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to it. It didn't seem to be very strong "call." I do not know why he discontinued this association.

v. Dresser's Swedenborgian Activities

A memorial adopted by the General Convention of the New Jerusalem after his death says:

Ordained in 1919, Dr. Dresser had withdrawn from our ministry in 1929, that the Church would not seem to be responsible for his secular work, but was reinstated at his own request in 1942. His only pastorate was in Portland, Maine, for a short time following his ordination.1

Dresser did not see fit to tell of his Swedenborgian activities in his reports to his classmates. Little seems to be known of his attachment to the New Church. From time to time articles by him were published in New Church Journals, and shortly before his death he became a regular columnist in The New-Church Messenger, with a feature called "With the Consulting Psychologist."

How Dresser learned of Swedenborg and what influence his writings exerted on Dresser early in his life are not known. He could have learned of Swedenborg from Emerson, or from a family physician who was a Swedenborgian, or from reading Evans. As will be seen, Dresser's earliest writing does not suggest that Dresser would become a Swedenborgian.

That little or nothing was known of Swedenborg in the Dresser family, so presumably also in Quimby circles, during the nineteenth century is shown by Annetta G. Dresser's saying that Quimby's


1 Journal of the General Convention of the New Jerusalem in the United States of America for 1954, p. 57.

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method was to me a good working theory for many years, but it was not until some years after my husband's death that I felt that I understood the reasons why the theory worked. The light came to me in the writings of Emmanuel Swedenborg. Here I found the science I had been seeking.1

She adds that she wrote to Quimby's son to inquire whether "his father had been acquainted with Swedenborg's writings, and he replied that his father had read some of them before Mr. Dresser and I had known him."2 If Quimby was influenced by Swedenborg, what seems most significant is the failure of this to come out clearly in his writings or his discussions with his followers.

The Dresser family has a copy of Swedenborg's Divine Love and Wisdom marked "Horatio W. Dresser with cordial regard from John Worcester Feb. 1896," possibly his first work of Swedenborg.

However Dresser learned of Swedenborg, he eventually became a Swedenborgian, but most of his Swedenborgian career lies beyond the period covered in connection with his philosophy in this study. [Some


1 Annetta G. Dresser, The Future for the New Thought (Boston: a pamphlet originally available from the author, 1914), p. 10.

2 Ibid., pp. 11-12. John Whitehead received from George Quimby the statement, "Father was at one time quite interested in Swedenborg's ideas." The New

Church Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, has the letter from which this is taken, not otherwise relating to Quimby's seemingly passing interest in Swedenborg. The sentence also is found in John Whitehead, The Illusions of Christian Science (Boston: The Garden Press, 1907), p. 224.


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correspondence at the Swedenborg School of Religion suggests that his mother may have been important in prompting him to his going to that school.]

vi. Summary

Dresser's was a frontier life. In some degree this was so in regard to his early Western life, although the area may not have been so wild as it had been a few decades earlier. Dresser's yearly return to his Maine woods also has something of a frontier flavor.

More significantly, it was a frontier life with respect to Dresser's place in the forefront of movements seeking to advance the welfare of humankind. Early in his life this meant helping his parents to spread the teachings of Quimby in their home meetings. A little later he was helping to establish New Thought organizations. Toward the end of his life he was serving in a clinic of religion and medicine.

Dresser had a gentle, calm strength. His very appearance and attitude helped people. Dresser did not seek controversy, but would not avoid it when the occasion arose, as when his sense of justice called for the defense of anyone, whether Quimby or a student who had written an unpopular paper.

What might be called a frontier practicality and suspicion of rigid formulation of beliefs remained with Dresser, despite his Harvard education. His approach to life was marked by tentativeness, yet with trust in an abiding divine source of guidance and support.

Dresser's life was a quiet center in the midst of controversial history and theoretical disputes over the healing gospels being advocated in various ways by competing groups. It could be said that he rose above disputes of all sorts in his love for people and his desire to help them.

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3. His Constructive Idealism

i. Dresser's Approach to Philosophy

Dresser was not primarily a philosopher. Most of his writing was in the field of popular spiritual uplift. Eventually he used the title psychologist. No doubt, he meant his writing to be consistent with what he considered sound philosophy, but he was little concerned with offering a complete philosophical system. He wanted to help people; to the extent that he found philosophy useful in this aim, he used it.

Philosophy could be considered a natural interest of Dresser, or at least one that he acquired at an early age. Partly this interest may have grown out of a search for understanding of his own abilities.

ii. Dresser's Extrasensory Perception

In addition to ordinary perception, Dresser had some degree of extrasensory perception. He wrote of his boyhood "spontaneous impressions regarding things mislaid or lost,"1 as well as of later experiences. In a letter of February 8, 1943, he says:

The telepathic experiences have been the most numerous. . . . I have had comparatively few experiences of clairvoyance that are outstanding, but a sufficient number to discriminate the type in contrast with telepathy. I have heard words from a distance as if uttered in my ear when there was


1 Horatio W. Dresser, The Open Vision. A Study of Psychic Phenomena (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1920), p. 172.


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no clairvoyance and no telepathy otherwise than that of this limited experience. I was near enough to mediumship for two years, 20 to 22, to fear that I might succumb to it.1

Quimby's teachings helped to keep him from turning to spiritism,2 and provided a home atmosphere recognizing "the spiritual world as near at hand."3 Undoubtedly Quimby's method of intuitively approaching each patient individually, rather than as a case for the application of rigidly fixed principles, was of great importance in developing Dresser's empirical attitude. It was Quimby's technique that he upheld in preference to the employment of more formalized mental treatment. However, it will be seen that despite Dresser's own extrasensory abilities and beliefs about those of others, he was far from uncritical of these abilities.

Looking back to his childhood, he recalled "spending delightful hours by myself supposedly under punishment but really at home in my own world of imagination."4 This may indicate an early introspective tendency. It, or the native capacities that it may have represented, seems to have aided both in laying a foundation for the extrasensory experiences that he believed indicated the awakening of powers latent in everyone, the awakening of which "came naturally, in my


1 This letter, containing valuable biographical information, as well as comments on extrasensory perception, is given fully in Appendix F.

2 Dresser, The Open Vision, p. 180.

3 Ibid., p. 172.

4 Horatio W. Dresser, "True Punishment," Home Progress, III (February, 1914), p. 288.

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case in connection with therapeutic interests in helping people from the time I was about 17,"1 and in encouraging the development of an inclination to subject all experiences to critical examination. Dresser says, "I deliberately trained my mind to the limit in philosophy at Harvard to be as critical as the best of them......2

iii. Dresser's Acknowledgment of Influence of Philosophers on Him

Turning to the influence of standard thinkers on Dresser, it will be recalled that his early interest in Emerson was noted in a biographical entry. Eleven Emerson volumes of Dresser, in the possession of the family, contain dates ranging from Christmas, 1883, to 1888. Emerson apparently reinforced the approach of Quimby. Dresser says:

Emerson's method was always to let the inspirations of the Spirit lead the way, instead of inflicting one's hypotheses and presuppositions upon the Spirit.3

Later he summarizes:

Emerson was for years the writer who most directly guided the way to the interpretation of inner experience. Then a time came when one turned rather to Professor Royce, to Plato, Hegel,


1 February 8, 1943, letter, in Appendix F.

2 Ibid.

3 Horatio W. Dresser, Man and the Divine Order (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1903), p. 272.


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and other idealists, in quest of the system Emerson failed to supply. Meanwhile it was the stimulating instruction of William James which strengthened the empirical tendency....1

iv. Dresser's Emphasis on Reason as Well as Experience

(1) In General. From his association with spiritual healing, extrasensory perception, and various religious groups emphasizing mysticism, Dresser could have developed a view of life disparaging reason. Or he might have reacted so strongly against his background as to overemphasize reason. However, he did neither. Throughout his life he sought to exercise discrimination, a term that he liked, in trying to achieve a proper balance among the various sides of life.

Dresser set the tone for all his writings in his first book, The Power of Silence, 1895, when he wrote:

This book does not . . . advise rigorous self-analysis of the personal self alone. It seeks a way of escape from narrowing introspection and self-consciousness. It seeks the Origin of all consciousness and all life. It proceeds on the principle that man cannot fully understand himself without constant reference to the omnipresent Spirit in whom he lives, and that in this profoundest wisdom is to be found the one unfailing resource in every moment of need.2


1 Horatio W. Dresser, The Religion of the Spirit in Modern Life (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1914), pp. ix-x.

2 Horatio W. Dresser, The Power of Silence, (1st ed., Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, 1895), p. 11.

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He did not fail to give much attention to the practical end of fuller, healthier--in all ways--life to be attained, but he would not pursue any course that he considered inconsistent with his reasoning. He was ever critical of those who were less concerned with having a solid intellectual foundation for actions. His criticism was summed up succinctly. "What is the greatest need of the New Thought movement?--Scholarship."1

In The Power of Silence he shows concern about experience, as in saying:

No formula seems large enough to cover all we know and feel. There is an element in experience that always eludes us. Some experiences can never be told. They are part of us. They are sacred, and one hesitates to speak of them. Yet one can suggest them, or at least let it be known that in these rarest moments of existence one seemed most truly to live.2

But his approach in this work is shown by his observation that "experience is best explained by its immediate   environment."3   This   led   to   ontological considerations that are best left for the next section. Although Dresser's second book, The Perfect Whole, came the next year, its epistemology may be considered essentially a final statement of his epistemology. This is not to say that much thought and writing after it did nothing to refine and add to Dresser's outlook. However, the basic views are to be found in 1896.


1 Untitled section of "Editor's Study," The Higher Law, VI (August-September, 1902), 219.

2 Dresser, The Power of Silence, Ist ed., p. 12.

3 Ibid., p. 14.


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In this book Dresser devotes his first chapter to experience. He points out that "experience is both direct and indirect."1 One simply awakes at some point to the awareness of "things, beings, and events without, and of a continuous stream of thought within."2 One might think that he would consider what is purely "within" to be the direct experience and that relating to the "without" to be indirect, but this is not the way that he puts it. He says:

Direct or immediate experience originates in the world of qualities and relations. Indirect experience is our own mental reaction upon the world, the attempt to comprehend it by means of ideas. . . . The former is the concrete, the substantive, the realm of immediate feeling or intuition. The latter is the abstract, the adjective, the secondary.3

It is the indirect that gives meaning to the direct. He turns to the baby's state of being "simply conscious"4 of an "indiscriminate whole"5 that cannot well be meaningful.

Yet the infant ego is already in its first instant of conscious life in the presence of a whole of experience which, through its future


1 Horatio W. Dresser, The Perfect Whole (Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, 1896), p. 40.

2 Ibid, p. 11.

3 Ibid., pp. 33-34.

4 Ibid., p. 41.

5 Ibid.

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development, is to constitute the sole reality of its entire life. It unwittingly knows the fact that something real exists in receiving its first sensation. Its consciousness is a part, an inseparable part, of the great whole of immediate experience. Although it is utterly ignorant of this first experience and removed by years of patient thought from the reality which the philosopher distinguishes from appearance, the absolute and eternal Reality is nevertheless there in that highly important first moment of consciousness,--if it is ever to be present at all.1

Obviously one cannot say what, if anything, the baby thinks, but Dresser here is not concerned to say what the baby's outlook may be. He simply is making the point that the whole is present to the baby, although not sorted out into its elements and made meaningful by reflection. Here again Dresser's chief concerns are ontological, but he is paying increasing attention to epistemological matters. A little later he remarks:

The second moment of experience possesses increased value to the degree only that it enriches or throws light upon the first. Could the infant know all that is related to that first moment, as an inseparable part of the infinite series of relations and qualities finding their ground in the ultimate All, the infant would be omniscient. An omniscient Self or God would possess all this at once. The finite self, just because it is finite, must develop these relations bit by bit through temporal and spatial experience.2


1 Ibid.

2 Ibid., pp. 41-42.


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Dresser goes on to say that "the finite ego is made aware of itself in relation to an 'other,'"1 but this takes one to at least the border of his ontology, so at this point one turns to perhaps the most significant area in which immediate experience may be upheld most strongly-mysticism.

(2) In Regard to Mysticism. Turning to Plotinus as "the father of Western mysticism,"2 Dresser takes mysticism to be "the belief that God may be known face to face,   without   anything   intermediate."3   Having established what he means by mysticism, he expresses his respect for such "surely sublime and in the highest degree spiritual"4 experience, but proceeds to stress that it is experience, of a primary or immediate sort.5 As such, it "needs to be reflectively interpreted ."6

He observes that

the mystical transport of itself gives no immediate and unquestionable certainty; for there is no assurance, until one doubts, that one is not merely contemplating one's self, or some imagined Absolute, instead of the pure being of love and wisdom whom we call God.7


1 Ibid., p. 43.

2 Ibid., p. 103.

3 lbid.

4 Ibid., p. 104. 

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid., pp. 104-105.

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Dresser could well refer back to the baby, for mere experience is empty of meaning. The mystic has to interpret his experience. Thus Dresser says:

the mystic in accepting his transport as genuine ... does so for reasons.--[namely] because believes all reasoning to be vain. This in itself is a flat contradiction of his whole theory that the intellect is "the language of contradiction"; for this is an intellectual conclusion arrived at by a process of rapid reasoning.1

Dresser of course is operating within the bounds of reason, but is saying that the mystic has no cause for objection, since the mystic himself has to do the same.

(3) In Regard to Reason's Place in the World. Dresser sees reason as

the necessary unfoldment or interpretation of immediate experience in all its phases. It is the faculty [seemingly the term is used simply as a matter of convenience, rather than a deviation from his rejection of faculty psychology] which examines itself, and seeks the cause and meaning of things. Intuition deals with wholes, of whose parts we are for the time unaware. . . . Reason is that closer scrutiny which reveals what we mean by beauty [when we view a distant scene without being aware of its elements], how its essentials are combined, and its ultimate basis of reality. It [reason] is emotion, experience, intuition, rendered explicit. Intuition oftentimes permits us but a glimpse of truth, like the flash of lightning on the darkest night, which illumines all our surroundings for a moment, and then dies out before we grasp


1 Ibid., p. 107.


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their relationship. Reason is that measured and law-governed evolution by which all the mysteries of nature are gradually spread out before us. It is the essential and necessary verification of insight, without which truth is not truth at all.1

It is apparent that Dresser was very much concerned with the whole at this time, as the very title of this book indicates. The immediate and the mediate were seen to be indispensable to each other, and ultimately simply different stages of the same process or different perspective, separated by the form of time in our apprehension of them. It may be doubted that he could start with epistemology and work to ontology even when, as in the second book, he approached his task that way. His vision, if such it may be called, of the whole could not fail to shape his epistemology.

While the question of Dresser's conception of the nature of the world is left for the next section, it may be noted here, as his devotion to evolution suggests, that he tended to accept scientific judgments as valuable, although not final in an overall interpretation of reality. He went so far in a book published the next year as to suggest something at least approaching materialism:

Thought ... by means of motor images or mental pictures, probably blends by insensible gradations with neutral action and the nerves, muscles, and tissues of the entire physical system.2

This, of course, does not say what the ultimate nature of the body is. Whatever it may be, Dresser


1 Ibid.

2 Horatio W. Dresser, In Search of a Soul (Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, 1897), p. 46.

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emphasizes the "directive power of mind."1 Ever close to practical problems of use of our abilities, and helped in his theorizing by clues derived from spiritual healing, Dresser says:

The real problem of mind-matter relationship ... becomes the problem of motion and the power that directs it. Here we seem to have the question in its lowest terms, but terms in which mind and matter have become incidents in a larger whole. The field of the mind is literally the field of the universe with all its mysteries. Within this field you and I gather ourselves as much of all this as a finite mind can grasp, and the act of grasping we call consciousness. The thought of the moment is the emerging and entering point of consciousness. Round this centre cluster the associated sensations or vibrations of light, heat, color, sound, hardness, etc., which constitute the borders of consciousness.2

While he has been seen to criticize the Evans final view that identifies thought and existence, Dresser here seems close to the same outlook. Certainly his emphasis on wholeness makes any separation of the two realms only relative.

While there is no way of knowing what led Dresser to particular aspects of his thought, except in the most general terms, it can be seen that his reference to motion and its direction and the relatedness of a whole, while not accepting the Evans identification of thought and existence, came about the time when he also took note of the thought of Dods. It may be that Dods provided for


1 Ibid.

2 Ibid., pp. 19-20.


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Dresser either a preface to Swedenborg or a supplement to Swedenborg. The notion of degrees is similar to the system of gradations found in Dods.

In summarizing Dods, Dresser says:

According to this theory, electricity is the creative agent of God, the ultimate energy out of which all chemical and physical forces and substances have been evolved, and by which all planetary and stellar relationships are sustained. The will of God gives direction to electricity, sets up motion, whereupon all development proceeds; and all life is maintained by the involuntary or subconscious results of the creative fiat or divine volition. By a similar process, the mind or will of man commands and uses the body through the gradual transmission from will, or mental energy, electric action, nerve vibration, and muscular contraction, to movement. All action is fundamentally mental and electricity is the agent of transfer.1

It is apparent that the attitudes of Dresser and Evans were sufficiently related that Evans could ignore distinctions between epistemology and ontology, and Dresser at a time when he had growing epistemological concern could view Dods and pass over the Dods recognition of both physical and mental impressions, and find in Dods a fundamental mental action, but with real "gradation of forces ... evident from all our knowledge of


1 Dresser, Voices of Freedom (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1899) p. 68.

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nature."1 Yet Dresser called "consciousness and activity ... two aspects of spirit."2

(4) In Regard to Truth. It is not surprising that when Dresser turned to a chapter on "The Criteria of Truth"3 he should emerge with a conclusion recognizing "consistency and practicality."4 He observes:

The philosopher delights in the construction of a theoretically perfect system of metaphysics-which convinces only himself. But as surely as metaphysics originated in the two-fold motive of truth for its own sake and truth for the sake of utility, so surely must the practical tendency be the critic of the speculative. The chief point of this chapter is that no wholly sound, merely speculative system of philosophy is possible. All speculative metaphysics must be supplemented by the higher spiritual insights and spontaneous experiences of the soul.

It has been argued again and again that reason is the only test of truth. But one may prove anything by argument and make it reasonable. Your logic may prove an event impossible: the next moment you may experience that which was declared impossible....


1 Dresser, Voices of Freedom (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1899), p. 68.

2 Ibid., p. 69.

3 Horatio W. Dresser, Education and the Philosophical Ideal (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1900), chapter XII.

4 Ibid., p. 183.


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Experience contradicts, verifies, or modifies and enlarges reason; reason must interpret and test experience.1

While Dresser here is concerned more with "higher" experiences, there is nothing to indicate that he would consider ordinary experience as of less importance.

In summarizing his view of truth Dresser reveals that he apparently considers it more than a characteristic of propositions. While recognizing the necessity of empirical coherence in testing truth, the nature of truth takes him into metaphysics. Although Dresser purports to "sum up the criteria of truth as follows,"2 he appears to get into the nature of truth:

Philosophic truth in its ultimate sense is self-consistent, but this self-consistency often lies far below the surface which it apparently contradicts. It meets the reasonable, mutually supplementary demands of realism and idealism, the head and the heart, intellect and intuition, and is at once valuable for its own sake and because of its utility. Reason is its most useful criterion, yet experience is its most important corrective. It must never overlook the distinctive revelations of individuality, yet must be equally faithful to the universal. It is an organic totality to which all phases of thought and life contribute their share; in its pursuit every man must give play to the highest side of his nature. It is progressive, and can only be progressively revealed. It is eternal and


1 Ibid., pp. 186-87.

2 Dresser, Education and the Philosophical Ideal, p. 193.

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may, happily, for ever be sought without permitting itself to be fully grasped.1

Here Dresser seems to be adopting the common practice of New Thought2 and Christian Science3 of calling truth, meaning the content rather than a judgment, one of the aspects or synonyms for God, although Dresser does not quite put it that way.

More than a decade later, after receiving his doctorate in philosophy, Dresser produced a chapter, "What Is Truth?,"4 in which he answered his question:

Truth is not first a human judgment, looking outward to nature, and referring upward to God; but an imbuing life entering into man by the heart and later revealing its substance through insight, and the clarification of the pathway of experience.5

This identification of truth and life, another commonly attributed aspect of God, continues the thought


1 Ibid.

2 " What We Believe," published on the back of [now inside] the quarterly New Thought. See also Emmet Fox, Alter Your Life (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1931), p. 126.

3 Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Boston: Trustees under the will of Mary Baker G. Eddy, 1934), p. 465.

4 Horatio W. Dresser, The Religion of the Spirit in Modern Life, Chapter XII.

5 Ibid., p. 245.


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just referred to. However, in the same chapter Dresser maintains, presumably consistently with his saying that truth is not first a human judgment, that truth

is a statement or explicit relation concerning life. It is really true if your statement conform to real experience when further comparisons are made.1

This may sound like correspondence theory, but the correspondence is within the broad field of coherence. He continues:

Truth expresses the law of being, that is the order or system. It is exact, satisfactory, if it correctly represent the vital order, our supreme interest. Hence we know its import by seeing what lies beyond it. Our chief interest is not the report of experience, not even the formulated purpose or ideal; but the life which gives truth its being and inspires us to perennial accomplishment.2

Again this points toward ontology. Indeed Dresser says that once one becomes "thoroughly loyal to truth "3 he pushes "past all discouragement and all doubt, past mere argument to that eternal region where heart and head are one."4

On this point elsewhere he says that reason is "simply a later phase of mentality within the same group


1 Ibid., p. 253.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid., p. 254.

4 Ibid.

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of processes"1 as "instincts, desires, emotions, and the will,"2 all of which are dependent on experience. Reason is distinguished from the others by its not simply "taking   experience   as   it   comes,"3   but   analyzing, comparing, bringing order, and restating in terms of law, thus bringing new results.4

All of Dresser's writing appears to have been intended to be helpful, most of it in immediately practical ways, such as offering suggestions for living happier, healthier lives. Because of this, much of his philosophy has to be culled from pages not primarily intended as philosophical argument, although Dresser tried to hue closer to the line of technical philosophy than usually is the case with popular inspirational writers. He seems never to have attempted to bring together his thoughts into one exhaustive statement of his system. But he could not do this consistently with his basic belief that, as quoted above, "no wholly sound, merely speculative system of philosophy is possible." Any attempt at completeness would have to fail.

However, he did write one book that, while also offering practical guidance, deserves to be put into a somewhat different class from that of most of his books, which were largely practical or were historical surveys or other sorts of essentially second-hand treatments of various matters. This book is The Philosophy of the Spirit, which he singled out for special mention in the 1910 class report quoted above. That work is not essential to his


1 Horatio W. Dresser, Human Efficiency (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1912), p. 302.

2 Ibid., p. 301.

3 Ibid., p. 302.

4 Ibid.


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philosophy, for the other writings already quoted offer its essentials. The Philosophy of the Spirit, however, serves as a good point for summing up Dresser's epistemology and turning to his ontology, and more broadly to a consideration of his place in relation to New Thought.

v. Dresser's View of the World

(1) His Philosophy of the Spirit. The Philosophy of the Spirit, which appeared in 1908, was the culmination of thought aided by "studies in the concept of immediacy carried on a number of years [earlier] in the logical seminary at Harvard."1 With the aid of Royce's criticism, he developed "the problem of the relationship of immediate experience to the religious and idealistic interests of [Dresser's] earlier volumes."2   This book includes as a "Supplementary Essay" his doctoral thesis, The Element of Irrationality in the Hegelian Dialectic. This was begun with advice of Royce, but "did not receive the criticism of [him], nor have those who passed judgment upon it communicated their opinions."3   The copy in the archives of Harvard University bears the signatures of William James, Hugo Munsterberg, and G. H. Palmer. It has the date May 1, 1906, and the deposit date June 27, 1907.

The Philosophy of the Spirit may be taken as a restatement and development of essentials of Dresser's doctoral thesis, as Dresser's own views, not unlike his earlier ones. Since this is the case, and since Dresser's


1 Horatio W. Dresser, The Philosophy of the Spirit (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1908), p. ix.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid., p. 387.

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treatment of Hegel could be the subject of a study in its own right, it is enough to say here that Dresser presents Hegel's empirical approach in opposition to the commonly accepted view that Hegel was purely, and unrealistically, a rationalist. Dresser does not purport to undertake a sweeping study of Hegel, but seeks to present data for consideration in anyone's interpretation of Hegel.

The fruits of Dresser's Hegelian explorations are seen best in his chapter called "The Import of Immediacy."1 Before reaching this chapter he engages in what might be called preliminary consideration; in light of what has been seen of other works by him, it scarcely seems necessary to go into these.

The importance of immediacy is indicated in Dresser's remark that

philosophy begins with the discovery that the immediate is not self-explanatory, but gives rise to clues which are susceptible of various interpretations, and is a quest for universally valid principles of mediation. . "2

After considering definitions of immediacy, he says,

For our purposes the term immediacy practically resolves itself into a matter of sentiency. The immediate is the psychical element as it exists for the subject of an experience when the experience occurs.3


1 Ibid., chapter XI.

2 lbid., p. 240.

3 lbid., p. 246.


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He likens immediacy's apprehension to the creation of frictional heat, and adds that "immediacy is a joint product, due to relatedness"1 and that "experience reveals nothing that is not related."2 Even description is relating, and the same is the case with psychophysical explanation and philosophical interpretation.

Citing James, Dresser maintains that there is no such thing as simple sensation, or that we cannot experience it.

What we mean by [sensation] is some sort of unexperienced union or pre-experienced immediacy. . . . What is immediately given is not sensation, but a complex stream of consciousness in which manifold characteristics are distinguishable."3

This stream is "empirically verifiable by everybody, while 'sensation' is a psychological construction."4

One cannot fail in careful inspection to find both subject and object.

Even the self, regarded as immediate, proves to be an interchanging relationship of subject and object. There is no ground for believing that it is a bare unity, intuitively known as such; it is rather a ground of multiform differences. The same is


1 Ibid.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid., p. 252.

4 Ibid.

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true of God, regarded as the ground of all differences in the universe.1

At this point these observations are not metaphysical conclusions, but simply certain cases of the general principle stated with regard to any experience.

Continuing one's examination, it is found that introspection discovers "the moment that is just now passing,"2 rather than the present.   The first instant of awareness can provide only "a mere 'that' without a 'what."'3 An attempt to capture it is a reconstruction, for it is already past. Yet the attempt is an admission of the importance of immediacy, which is the grist for the mental mill. There is a feeling of the immediate, but it cannot be called knowledge, which must come with thought. There is knowledge of immediacy also. Thus one distinguishes between "immediacy as (1) just now presented and involving change, and (2) as it exists for reflection, as a concept."4   There is not a hopeless gulf between the immediate and the mediate; their dependence on each other for our fullest functioning is indication of a kinship. There is an "inherent rationality of the immediate which thought endeavours to make explicit. Mediate thought, when complete, enters into full possession of the truth which immediacy implicitly meant."5 Indeed, Dresser defines thought as "that power


1 Ibid., p. 250.

2 Ibid., p. 253.

3 Ibid., p. 255.

4 Ibid., p. 257.

5 Ibid, p. 260.


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in us which makes the empirically implicit intelligibly explicit."1

But there must be a continuing process of clarification. Referring to Hegel, Dresser says that the truth "is found neither in the immediate nor in mere mediacy, but in a higher moment."2   This third moment resolves the rivalry of immediate and mediate, for in it

experience is conceptually given back enriched, immediacy has lost its innocence and its independence, yet it retains a value which thought can never take away.3

Out of this examination come two foundations of Dresser's metaphysics: the conviction of an other-than-ourselves emerging from a consideration of immediacy and the transitivity or becoming exhibited in the dialectical process.

Dresser calls immediacy the "point of contact" of two streams, "one flowing from the environing field of our mental life, and the other meeting it from the depths of the self."4 He finds a perceiver to be a necessity for immediacy.5 The other necessities for it are something given, which he believes implies a giver; and a "state of union between perceived and perceiver."6 The perceiver


1 Ibid, p. 268.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid., p. 270.

4 Ibid., p. 256.

5 Ibid., p. 263.

6 lbid.

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or self required is one that "possesses some sort of cognitive constitution; the self on its part brings those principles to the experience which enable it to enter into the union."1

As to the second, transitivity, this in the epistemological realm is, presumably, reflective of the whole evolutionary movement accepted by Dresser as essential to the world at large. He believes everything to be developing.

It would be contrary to Dresser's tentative approach to expect a system worked out from any one basic statement. He freely admits that in his consideration of immediacy there are "many assumptions."2   But he offers what he calls the "general presupposition":

The self is able, through mediate thought, to grasp the meaning of immediacy; reason is competent to complete its task; immediacy and the mediate belong to one system; thought and corrected feeling apprehend the same Reality.3

Having said this, one is well into a metaphysical system. However, there remains to be established the nature of the Reality, other than its being something capable of apprehension by thought and its including the mediate and immediate. Dresser calls his investigation of the nature of reality (not capitalized this time) incomplete in concluding The Philosophy of the Spirit.4 Most of his writing from that time onward was less systematic, in


1 Ibid.

2 Ibid., p. 265.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid., p. 374.


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terms of his own thought. He gave greater attention to means of self-help in living a better life. However, this may be taken as the chief conclusion of his philosophy, that reality will support such efforts. However, it is not necessary to leave his metaphysics that vague.

The discovery of the agreement of feeling and reason gives ground for suspecting that there is an ultimate unity. The becoming nature of the dialectical process suggests that the ultimately real also is of this becoming nature. Unity and development may be said to be Dresser's cornerstones. With the aid of them it is easy enough to take the common stock of religious insights and philosophical hypotheses and construct a metaphysics that is at least adequate for purposes of testing. The test, of course, is living.

Taking the term "spirit" in a manner that cannot well be called either personal or nonpersonal, Dresser fits it in with his cornerstones as

God made concrete. Thus conceived, Spirit may be said to possess both cosmological and human significance. Regarded as a cosmological power, Spirit is the creative life which proceeds from the Godhead as the orderly, continuously active, centralising life of the natural universe. Spirit is the essence, the uniting ground of all physical forces, all modes of physical life, the ultimately efficient energy of all natural evolution. That is, Spirit is the universal power, while natural energy in its various forms is the cosmological phase which Spirit assumes. Spirit is not the mere sum of all natural energy, and should not be identified with the totality of physical modes of motion. For Spirit has other modes of manifesting itself. Spirit

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is also the central principle in mental life, in moral and religious experience.1

Dresser admits that for some there is no reason for calling by the name of Spirit what may be explained in much more ordinary terms. But here there enters what immediacy can provide. Although immediacy has been shorn of direct knowledge-giving properties, it remains as something to be united with thought. Immediacies are of various qualities, which become recognizable to those who are receptive enough to cultivate them. There is a witness of the Spirit, which when reflected on is seen to justify belief in a higher, value-giving something entitled to be called Spirit.

Somehow the world that we see came about. Dresser is unwilling to try to explain this. He says:

It hardly seems profitable to attempt to assign a motive for the manifestation of the Spirit in the world. There may never have been a beginning of such manifestation. The universe may well be the eternal expression, outpouring, externalisation of the Spirit. At any rate it is not conceivable apart from the divine consciousness.2

It is this divine consciousness that is the highest limit of being, yet we scarcely are entitled to say that it is forever fixed. There could not well be any notion of it if it were entirely unlike our consciousness, but Dresser is careful not to identify God and man. He continues,

Not, I insist, that it [the universe] is "in" that consciousness, not that it is like a dream or vision,


1 Ibid., p. 41.

2 Ibid., p. 52.


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but that it exists for, is present to; manifests the mind of God. That mind may be in a measure unlike our own, hence its objects may not be in any sense remote but possessed as one whole. But the conception of an all-inclusive consciousness at least suggests the intimacy of relationship between God and His universe. Since the universe exists, we may safely assume that it fulfils the divine nature. Since you and I exist as dwellers in this divine universe, we may with equal assurance assume that we meet some need in the life of God. Whether or not we or any other beings save God have had a life without beginning in the past, here we are, members one of another in the great universe which reveals the majesty and wisdom, the beauty and love of God.1

In these various assertions Dresser may be correct or incorrect in whole or in part. He could easily assume otherwise, many would say, but presumably he would call on the "witness of the Spirit" to uphold his assumptions.

(2) His Views on Pantheism and its Ethical Implications. The central problem here is the identity or not of God, human beings, and the universe. This is the great point of difference between Evans, the "Christian pantheist," and Dresser. [Neither was clearly aware of panentheism as an alternative to both pantheism and conventional theism.]

In seeking the reasons for this split between two men both of whom were strongly influenced by Quimby and Swedenborg, as well as by what they found in their own experience in connection with spiritual healing, at least three differences, in addition to their differing amounts of formal education, stand out as possibly significant.   Evans came first to Swedenborg and only


1 Ibid.

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later to Quimby and what grew into New Thought. As he progressed in thought, he tended to grow away from Swedenborg. Dresser was born into the Quimby influence, and probably was growing in appreciation of Swedenborg as he pursued his philosophical studies.

Evans had essentially mystical experiences. Although he did not undertake such epistemological searchings as Dresser did, it seems fair to say that he may well have placed greater emphasis on the alleged knowledge-giving quality of immediate experience. Dresser's extrasensory experience seems to have been of a more "finite" sort, dealing with limited situations, some of which could be checked by normal means, in confirming certain information given to him.

Evans apparently was concerned preeminently with metaphysics, especially as it was relevant to the healing of individual patients. Dresser had a strong concern for ethics and social life. It may well be that this concern was the primary source of his rejection of pantheism. Dresser says:

Usually that part of our nature which is dissatisfied with a pantheistic or fatalistic scheme is the moral or spiritual self, which wills to triumph, to play an individual part in universal evolution. Or, to put it more clearly, I think all would agree that human existence has no satisfactory meaning unless the soul is self-active, an agent, with probabilities of success in the realization of ideals.1

For Dresser there can be no freedom, no loving interrelationships in which the involved parties are parts of another entity that makes them only apparently separate and free.


1 Horatio W. Dresser, Voices of Freedom, p. 54.


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In discussing the pantheism of the Vedanta, Dresser does not so much argue as express his inability to conceive of a loss of multiplicity. He observes:

It is . . . the absolute identification of subject and object, with no room for the splendidly elaborate system of nature as the realm of divine manifestation. It endeavors to put off the creation of the world upon man, but he proves unreal. It tries to put it upon Brahman, but cannot, because that would imply imperfection.1

It is absurd ... to say, "Do not tell a lie," if you are really telling a lie to yourself. You, of course, know the truth, and therefore cannot lie to yourself. A lie becomes such only when told to another who is deceived by it. Is not this fact of ethical separateness worth more than all the speculation in the world.2

From the time of the writing of his first book Dresser was concerned with evil and suffering, which needed to be reconciled with a good God. Presumably the problem seemed all the more difficult if all were God. If God were everything, the need of evolution also might be questioned. As it was, Dresser found in evolution an answer to evil. He says:

The meaning of much of our moral suffering and evil is ... to teach the right use of our powers. . . . All cases of sickness, misery, evil, wrong, demand better self-comprehension. If there be one general meaning which applies to them all,


1 Ibid., p. 114.

2 Ibid., p. 120.

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it is, in one word, progress,--the effort of the Spirit to give us freedom.1

It is not clear in what sense this is conceived. He spoke of this as "the evolutionary origin of evil."2

Dresser did not consider himself a pantheist, and he never failed to draw some distinction between God and human beings. However, he changed his views considerably in the decade 1894-1904, as seen by a comparison of some of the wording of one of the chapters of The Power of Silence. It may be significant that this chapter was published originally as a pamphlet "at the request of many who have found it helpful"3 and that its reception led to the publishing of it and other lectures given in 1894 in the form of Dresser's first book.4 In the Preface of the second edition of the book, Dresser says that the lectures were changed little and the chapter in question not changed in incorporating it into the book. He attributes the "defects" of the first edition to its being a


1 Dresser, The Power of Silence, 1st ed., pp. 124-25.

2 Dresser, Education and the Philosophical Ideal, p. 12.

3 Horatio W. Dresser, The Immanent God. An Essay (Boston: "Published by the Author" Geo. H. Ellis, Printer, 1895). Preface: The following essay was the second in a course of lectures delivered in Boston during the past year under the general title, "Talks on Life in its Relation to Health," and given in co-operation with Mrs. A. G. Dresser. Like the others in the series, this paper was designed to emphasize certain great truths of the inner life on their practical side. It is now revised and published at the request of many who have found it helpful.

4 The Power of Silence, 1st ed., p. 6.


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first book, compiled from lecture notes. However, it is obvious that the changes to be noted below are changes of thought, rather than merely of style.

In the first edition, Dresser says that God, if he be at all, "put forth his own being as the world,"' and in the second that God "put forth His own life in the world."1 In the first, God is "not only immanent, but is that in which he dwells," while in the second, God is "not only immanent, but ... is also independent of that in which He dwells." Similarly, we are "a part of the one omnipresent Reality," as contrasted with "intimately related to the Father." However, much of the writing remains unchanged. There is a warmer, more theistic tone to the second edition, but the attitude could be called the same. Nevertheless, these philosophical changes are important. However, they may not be such a great change as would seem to be the case. Dresser never apparently lost human beings in God, but this was in terms of his own satisfaction rather than philosophical argument. On the basis of the incomprehensibility of a beginning of a series of causes and effects, he makes activity a quality of God. He goes on, apparently using eternal in the sense of everlasting, rather than timeless:

Continuity of motion is one of the attributes of . . . Reality, the activity of which originates within itself, and is never self-destructive. Eternal self-interaction is the cause of eternal self-manifestation. The Reality has therefore never been without manifestation. Although it is the One, it must ever have been the Many: it must ever have been at once finite and infinite, since it is not simply an undivided whole, but is the sum of all its parts, each of which . . . is


1 For page references see the extended quotations in Appendix G.

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finite. Motion could not spring suddenly out of a perfectly simple, inert unit....

The One is the sum total of all possibilities: it is eternally the Many, either actually or potentially.1

That he had early pantheistic [or perhaps panentheistic] tendencies was shown in February, 1898, when he gave in Boston's Church of the Higher Life an address in which he maintained "the absolute necessity of the presence of the creative power in every detail of life's minutest changes"2 and the absence of any "opposing force in the universe, since a universe to exist must ultimately be a harmony."3 This means that we have no power, no life, of our own. He goes on to ask:

But are you and I identical? Is this mere pantheism, this profoundest of all philosophical conclusions? Once more, let us remember the only means of revelation; namely, experience. Experience tells us that you and I are different; that we are finite selves, possessing the power of choice. This is just as truly a fact as the existence of an immutable law superior to our wills. The nature of the one life must then be such that it can exist or manifest itself through distinct centres of


1 Dresser, The Power of Silence, 1st ed., pp. 32-33. In the second edition he abandons the attempt to prove God's existence in relation to cause.

2 Horatio W. Dresser, "The Omnipresent Spirit," The Journal of Practical Metaphysics, II (April, 1898), 199.

3 lbid., p. 200.


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consciousness. I am just as truly myself as I am a part of God.1

In answer to the question of how this can be, Dresser says that it is a miracle.2 Presumably this is to be interpreted as being a fundamental basis for reasoning, behind which one cannot go. He has chosen to consider, or has thought it necessary to believe, that God must be omnipotent, and has had to conclude that any power must be part of God. Granted the premise, the conclusion is inescapable. However, he does not consider this pantheism.

By 1903, undoubtedly influenced by his old belief in evolution, his dissatisfaction with Vedanta, his epistemological studies, and perhaps his presumably growing knowledge of Swedenborgian views, Dresser is saying that his

conception differs from the merely immanental theory, since it reserves room for God unmanifested. That is, God does not exhaust Himself in His world-activity; He is not merely the life or substance of the universe. He also transcends, is larger than, the world.... It does not assert that God is the world, either viewed as nature, as consciousness, or as the spiritual unity of nature and consciousness. The world reveals God, is part of God's activity; but it is not all of God, therefore is not the same as God. Yet one would like to bring God as near as pantheism does when it worships nature as God, or identifies the mystical experience with Him....


1 Ibid., p. 201.

2 Ibid.

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The present theory may for convenience be called organic theism [this name reminds one of the "philosophy of organism" that would be developed by Alfred North Whitehead, who also appreciated William James], that is, God is regarded as Father-Spirit amid many son-spirits or moral individuals. He is a Being whom one can love and worship.

In a theistic world, the distinctions between souls and the world are real, continuous. The sons of God, while not separated from God, do not become God, any more than a human father absorbs his child.... To say that God is resident in the world of our consciousness, that He is the Life of our life is not ... to maintain that the life that is immanent in us is all there is in the human life.1

The start of this statement would not have to lead to the end of it. The statement that God includes more than the universe that we know removes Dresser from pantheism as he has used the term; but not from the usual philosophical use of the term. But to go on, as he does, to say that God is not the world, or to say, as he also does, that people as set off from the world are not only God, does remove him from any sense of pantheism. Presumably his desire for "bringing God as close as pantheism does" is an appeal for meaningful worship. Beyond the mere words that he uses, one may be left wondering whether Dresser did not want both pantheism and theism [perhaps panentheism]. His remark about bringing God that close could be an indication of dissatisfaction with the theistic position. Perhaps the following about his choice of a name for his views indicates some such attitude:


1 Horatio W. Dresser, Man and the Divine Order, pp. 410-11.


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The first name chosen for the present system was "organic empiricism." The term "organic" was employed to denote the many-sidedness of experience,--the fact that no one department of life is the source of all truth, but truth must be a co-operative product; and "empiricism" denoted the tentative, changing, promising character of our many-sided experience. But "empirical idealism" is a better term, since experience, although many-sided, is of one general type; it is an experience in terms of ideas. The term "constructive idealism" carries the definition a stage farther; for, however varied experience may be, and however much allowance one must make for future experience of other types, the final work of philosophy is to recast the data of experience in terms of constructive thought.1

In view of his emphasis on empiricism, it is not strange that Dresser went on to give more attention to epistemology, as has been seen above, and that thereafter his efforts were devoted primarily to practical help, rather than to attempts to work out a complete system. He concluded his career calling himself a psychologist and writing for Swedenborgian publications, it will be recalled. He apparently did not care to identify himself with Sweden borgianism in his writings meant for the general public. Swedenborgian influence in his general writing is a matter of conjecture. However, it is not a matter of great importance, for as far as it makes any difference in this study, Swedenborgianism may be taken as simply another theism. It may be that the doctrine of discrete degrees, for example, was a reason for Dresser's finding theism acceptable, but idle speculation on the matter is of no use. The more distinctly religious matters,


1 Ibid., pp. 419-20.

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such as interpretation of scripture according to Swedenborg's correspondences, is not a matter of consideration here.

vi    Summary

While Dresser does not purport to give a complete philosophical system, nor even a fully clarified statement of constituents for such a system, his analysis of experience does produce the tentative outlines for some of the more important parts of a system.

On analyzing the complex stream of consciousness, Dresser resolves it into two streams. The first stream, reason, renders explicit all that is implicit in the other stream. The second stream, experience, reveals our environing fields. The point of contact of the two streams is one's self, the finite person, which is the perceiving unifier of both streams.

Having found the nature of the thought process to be moving--becoming--and capable of being understood as a unified whole, Dresser suggests that reality as a whole has these characteristics of unity and becoming. This makes reality a progressing whole, but not numerically one, since Dresser finds the experience of a finite self inconsistent with pantheism. Dresser does not presume to explain the origin nor full nature of the world, but he turns to the divine Spirit that his experience reveals, and suggests that God is in meaningful communication with people in the world.

In rejecting pantheism, after his early acceptance of it, Dresser asserts that it denies one's essential, free, responsible action. He also emphasizes the importance of the cooperative relationship of love, which the unity of pantheism would eliminate.

In emphasizing love as of primary worth, Dresser differs from the final Evans position, seeming to stress thought above love. Dresser is in agreement with Swedenborg in his conclusions regarding God, humankind,


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and the world, but Dresser differs from Swedenborg in reaching them on rational grounds, rather than from the acceptance of purported messages from discarnate beings, relied on by Swedenborg. But Dresser agrees with Evans, and diverges from Swedenborg, in emphasizing the possibility of divine healing. The acceptance of such healing of course provides the great common ground of Dresser and New Thought.

4. His Thought in Relation to New Thought

i. Dresser's Independence

The question of pantheism takes one to the heart of New Thought. It has been said that "the sharp, clearly drawn distinction between God and man and the world, characteristic of most Christian thought, is never found in New Thought."1

Inasmuch as Dresser devoted a considerable amount of his writing to New Thought, this may seem rather strange. Certainly Dresser after his earliest years of writing drew such distinctions with insistence. Moreover, he has been included among "the 'New Thought' writers whose vogue rivals that of the popular novelist."2 This characterization was published in 1902, so must have been based on his early writings. References to such writings, especially the first edition of The Power of Silence, show that Dresser may well have helped to promote a pantheistic trend in New Thought.


1 Braden, These Also Believe, p. 138.

2 Tyner, op. cit., p. 314.

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After this early period, if not before, Dresser probably was reluctant to be associated very strongly with New Thought. However, he did help to organize the Metaphysical Club of Boston, which was a New Thought organization, and later he held office in the International New Thought Alliance, as has been seen above. Nevertheless, from at least as early as 1899, in writing on New Thought, he took pains to identify himself as

an independent truth seeker, not ... a mere follower of the New Thought, but one who believes the doctrine has made an important contribution to the knowledge and practice, the life and thought, of our time."1

In his Handbook of the New Thought, published in 1917, Dresser says that he "stands a measure apart from any branch of the mental healing movement."2 He gives perhaps his most helpful statement on this matter in 1910:

As a student of these popular movements of thought, I write from a very general point of view, not as a partisan of any therapeutic cult.... My own position here as elsewhere is that of the teacher of philosophy who aims to reach people


1 Dresser, Voices of Freedom, p. 54. The original, slightly different, statement is in Dresser, "What is the New Thought?," The Arena, XXI (January, 1899), 29; here he omits "Not as a mere follower of the New Thought." In the early years of the movement it was common to insert the before New Thought, as the term was becoming more clearly a special name, rather than simply a reference to thought that was new.

2 Horatio W. Dresser, Handbook of the New Thought (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1917), p. iv.


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where they are, and help them to know their powers of self-mastery. Hence from my point of view any one of the therapeutic doctrines now in vogue may serve an intermediate purpose.1

He considered his books dealing with healing "independent volumes, without any direct connection with the therapeutisms of the day."2

There can be little or no doubt that Dresser wished to remain independent. However, this does not mean that one can exclude him from New Thought by virtue of whatever desire he had to be excluded. His classification should be determined by what he said and by the way that others have classified him. It has been seen already that he has been linked with others as a New Thought writer. If others considered him part of New Thought, to that extent he was. In considering the matter of classification, it is necessary to take note of some of the history of New Thought beyond the contributions of those persons already seen.

Fortunately, much of this was presented by Dresser and can be given to some extent in his own words. Observations of others who also have surveyed New Thought to an extent beyond what is possible in this study also are to be seen. With such aids it is possible to obtain a considerable knowledge of what New Thought is.

ii. Dresser's Relation to New Thought in Light of its Nature.

(1) New Thought's Development in General. The New Thought movement might have developed out of the


1 Dresser, Health and the Inner Life, p. iv.

2 Ibid.

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teachings of Quimby, as given some circulation by J. A. Dresser and the Misses Ware and given more by Evans.1 However, the efforts of these people did not excite great public interest. What might have been developed if they had been the only ones to offer views in the general area of their concern cannot be said, for another factor entered the situation in which they operated. In the opinion of Dresser,

What was needed, perhaps, was a more radical and less reasonable statement of the principles underlying the new therapeutism. For the general public is more apt to respond to radical views. Oftentimes the less reasonable view is needed to give sufficient contrast and provoke controversy.

This impetus was given ... by the launching of Mrs. Eddy's radical propositions in Science and Health, published in 1875. If we are to see any purpose at all in the publication of that book, we may venture to say that it had value in arousing people out of their materialism. The results of the past forty years [up to 1919] apparently justify this statement, for to those of us who have known former Christian scientists [lower case in original] as they came out of their radical into more reasonable views it has been plain that something like Science and Health was needed to set matters in motion.2

After the appearance of Science and Health


1 Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement, pp. 126-27.

2 lbid., pp. 127-28.


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there was a tendency to read both Evans and Eddy, and [there] was a commingling of ideas gathered from these two sources and from teachings of those who, like Mr. Julius Dresser, had held to Quimby's teaching in its original form. The term "mental science," introduced by Mr. Evans, with reference to the psychological aspect of the new therapeutism, began to be used in 1882-3 for the whole teaching. It was used in preference to the term Christian Science because the latter term had become identified with the hypothesis of a "revelation." The term "mental" was spiritualized by those who adhered to Quimby's teaching. Thus Mr. Dresser employed it when responding to the request to narrate "the true history" of the therapeutic movement. The term "mental" was almost a synonym for "Christian," as used by those who believed that the new healing was wrought by spiritual means. For others it was a convenient expression for their faith that health is mental rather than physical, that causality is in the realm of thought, and that true science is the opposite of medical materialism.1

Mrs. Eddy, who believed that it followed from God's being all, that matter was nothing, rather than some sort of expression of God, is characterized by Dresser as having "taught an idealism akin to Berkeley's view, as Berkeley is misunderstood. Readers untrained in philosophy easily found the two interpretations [of Mrs. Eddy and of Evans in The Divine Law of Cure] identical."2

Probably Dresser's 1882-1883 dating of the term mental science is to be taken in connection with his later


1 Ibid., pp. 128-29.

2 Ibid., p. 129.

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statement indicating that "the first groups of people assembled to discuss these matters in Boston in 1882 and 1883."1

The term mental science continues to have some prominence in New Thought, especially through the Edinburgh Lecture Series of books on mental science by Thomas Troward (1847-1916). Dating from 1904 to those published after his death, these books remain in print. He had been a British divisional judge in India2 and brought Eastern and Western thought together in his writings. Troward's views are reminiscent of the later ones of Evans, and are important in relation to American New Thought both from the circulation of his books here and from his association with the young Emmet Fox, who later moved from England to the United States and became one of the most popular New Thought writers and speakers.3 [Troward's views also are important because of the continuing use of his writings by Religious Science.] Gaze was another link.

In addition to the name mental science, the new movement was given the name mind-cure and the Boston craze.4

As the mental scientists had no authoritative textbook, no leader accepted as a revelator, and no


1 Ibid., p. 131.

2 Harry Gaze, My Personal Recollections of Thomas Troward (no publication information except 1958), booklet 1 (of 3), p. 19.

3 Harry Gaze, Emmet Fox: The Man and His Work (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952), p. 32.

4 Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement, p. 132.


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organization maintaining a hold upon its followers, the tendency was for each healer to branch out freely, say nothing about the origin of the ideas in question; but to set them forth as if they had just been acquired.1

In the early days "no one . . . thought of supporting the teachings . . . by associating them with transcendentalism and the writings of Emerson."2 As early as 1881 Evans says, "There may be much of truth in the saying of Emerson that 'the history of Jesus is the history of every man written large,"'3 and quotes him on the "Over-Soul" in The Primitive Mind-Cure in 1884.4 Without referring to Evans, who did not live to see New Thought by that name, Dresser says that "the beginning of interest in Emerson on the part of those who later became known as New Thought leaders"5 began with the publication of Facts and Fictions of Mental Healing by Charles M. Barrows in 1887. Unless he means to restrict his statement to leaders who carried their activity over into the period of New Thought under that name, Dresser is incorrect in saying that "none of the therapeutic leaders had until then noted the resemblance."6 Barrows,


1 Ibid., p. 133.

2 Ibid., p. 127.

3 Evans, The Divine Law of Cure, p. 72.

4 Evans, The Primitive Mind-Cure, p. 20. See also, for example, pp. 83 and 138.

5 Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement, pp. 135-36.

6 Ibid., p. 135.

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however, did devote a full chapter to Emerson and another to Indian views.1 He had pointed out the long background of healing and something of the philosophy related to the new movement two years earlier in Bread-Pills: A Study of Mind-Cure, which he concluded by quoting at length from Emerson.2 If he were to be credited for being the first to notice Emerson in relation to mind-cure, it would seem to be advisable to cite the earlier work. However, in all of this, his publications were later than those of Evans.

William James, ignoring Quimby, says:

One of the doctrinal sources of Mind-cure is the four Gospels; another is Emersonianism or New England transcendentalism; another is Berkeleyan idealism; another is spiritism, with its message of "law" and "progress" and "development"; another the optimistic popular science evolutionism ... ; and, finally, Hinduism has contributed a strain.3


1 Charles M. Barrows, Facts and Fictions of Mental Healing (Boston: H. H. Carter & Karrick, 1887), chapters XIII and XII, respectively, "Emerson's Idealism" and "Help from Ind." [sic].

2 C. M. Barrows, Bread-Pills: A Study of Mind-Cure (Boston: Deland and Barta, Printers; Mutual News Company, Agents, 1885), pp. 85-88.

3 William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: The Modern Library, n.d., originally Longmans, Green and Company, 1902), p. 93. James recognized Dresser as a leading mind-cure writer. pp. 94n, 97, 284. [At p. 94 James says: To the importance of mind-cure the medical and clerical professions in the United States are beginning, though with much recalcitrancy and protesting, to open their eyes. It is


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their clue from Mr. Evans's book [various people] began to trace out the ideas in the philosophies of the past which resembled mental science. Thus after a time the term "metaphysics" came into vogue to indicate that the fundamental principles of the new movement were akin to the great idealisms of the past.1

Dresser cautions that "metaphysics," strictly speaking, applies to a technical system of philosophy, and only by explanation is it to be understood as the name of a   practical   movement."2   He also says of the term metaphysical healing,

Many disciples of mental science used this term as synonymous with "mental science" and applied idealism. Mrs. Eddy also employed the term "metaphysical" as the name of her school in Boston. The term "metaphysics" as thus employed need not be understood in the philosophical sense as a complete system of first principles. It means a practical idealism emphasizing mental or spiritual causality in contrast with the prevalent


evidently bound to develop still farther, both speculatively and practically, and its latest writers are far and away the ablest of the group. Footnote: I refer to Mr. Horatio W. Dresser and Mr. Henry Wood, especially the former.... ]

1 Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement, p. 135.

2 Ibid., p. 156.

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materialism, or the assumption that matter possesses independent life and intelligence.1

In the so-called metaphysical movement's development one of the most important figures was Emma Curtis Hopkins. After serving as an editor of the Christian Science Journal she turned to independent dissemination of her views in 1885.2 Her writings, now [1962] being published by the High Watch Fellowship, Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut, show much Bible interpretation. She drew on Eastern and Western religious views.

She established the Illinois Metaphysical College. It published The Christian Metaphysician. The January-February, 1891, number includes the following announcement:

The next class at the college will be organized Thursday, Jan. 29th. A class will also meet on the 4th of February, and another on the 9th of March. Fifteen lectures, usually four per week, constitute first course. Students, when prepared to heal, will receive Diploma, conferring


1 Ibid., pp. 141-42. See also pp. 136-38.

2 Mrs. Hopkins cannot be dealt with here except by way of pointing her out as a link between Christian Science and New Thought and as a teacher in her own right. Many facts about her life seem to be in doubt. Even the date of her birth is given from 1849 to 1854. She came from Killingly, Connecticut, and died there. The Registrar of vital statistics in a letter of January 9, 1962, reports that no birth record is found, but that the death certificate gives September 2, 1854, as her date of birth and April 8, 1925, as her date of death. On her relations with Mrs. Eddy, see Bates and Dittemore, op. cit., p. 265, and Wilbur, op. cit., p. 294


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title of "Christian Metaphysician." The college is the oldest of the kind in the State, and the lecturers are prominent educators as well as being experienced Metaphysicians.

All moral people, who desire increased usefulness and happiness, are invited to call upon or correspond with the President of the college, relative to instruction in the Science of Christian Healing.

Some of the topics considered in the course, are:

Metaphysics, Ancient and Modern; as a Science and an Art; principle and application. Christian Metaphysics are [sic] adopted to the wants of humanity. The idea of God; and God considered as Life.

Substance, not matter, but Spirit. What matter is and is not. God considered as Intelligence and Wisdom. God as Truth and Rightness, or Perfection. God as Goodness and Love. The Creation, Spiritual, not Material. The "Word," as the Universal Christ or God Revealer. Man in Christ and Christ in God. St. John, i, 1-14. Man from the standpoint of the human and the Divine, Jesus as Man; his relation to God and to man. Material Sense and Spiritual Sense. Man's Fall, Disease, Death, the Law of Deliverance. Closing lectures give practical instruction for healing the sick; and show the highest harmonies of Truth.

Tuition payable in advance. Primary course, thirty dollars; review same, ten dollars. Normal course, twelve lessons, twenty-five dollars. Graduation fee, two dollars. Consultation free. We are prepared to supply all kinds of standard metaphysical literature.

Correspondence solicited. Address, Illinois Metaphysical College.

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Central Music Hall, Chicago, Ill.1

This issue of the magazine contains quotations from, among others, Emerson, Luther, Phillips Brooks, and a fairly lengthy one from the Jowett translation of Plato's "Charmedes" [sic], 156-157, on the folly of treating the body without considering the soul. It also presents the concluding installment, of how many it is not indicated, of some writing on "Desire, Will and Faith," "From Dr. W. F. Evans' unpublished manuscripts, furnished by Mrs. Evans."2 It is only a page in length, and includes the following:

Persons of a weak character content themselves with feebly desiring a thing as a state of health and usefulness, persons of a strong character will it, which expresses itself outwardly in efforts to attain it; persons of a still stronger character believe it, and thus make it a present and living reality.3

(2) Unity. Before turning to what calls itself New Thought, it is appropriate to observe that Mrs. Hopkins was important in leading to the formation of one of the most outstanding religious groups in the world today, Unity. This group published some Dresser articles. In


1 "College Classes," The Christian Metaphysician, V (January and February, 1891), 24.

2 The same issue, p. 9.

3 Ibid.


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relation to Mrs. Hopkins, a Unity history says that in the spring of 18861

a lecturer named Dr. E[ugene]. B. Weeks came to Kansas City and delivered a series of talks. . . . Doctor Weeks was sent to Kansas City from Chicago as a representative of the Illinois Metaphysical College, which had been founded shortly before by Emma Curtis Hopkins.

Emma Curtis Hopkins was one of the most unusual figures that has appeared in the whole metaphysical movement. Originally she had been associated with Mary Baker Eddy as an editor of the Christian Science Journal, but as the two had not seen eye to eye on many questions, Mrs. Hopkins left the Eddy School of Christian Science. From Boston, she went to Chicago where she founded a school of her own, which was probably the most influential school of its kind at the time. Emma Curtis Hopkins was a teacher of teachers. Many founders of metaphysical movements learned their fundamental principles from her. Besides [Charles Fillmore (1854-1948) and his wife, Myrtle Page Fillmore (1845-1931), who were the founders of Unity] there were: Charles and Josephine Barton, who published the magazine "The Life" in Kansas City and had a Truth movement of their own; Malinda Cramer, the first president of the International Divine Science Association; Dr. D. L. Sullivan, who taught Truth classes in St. Louis and Kansas City; Helen Wilmans, editor of "Wilmans Express" and a very influential New Thought teacher at the turn of the century; the popular


1 James Dillet Freeman, The Household of Faith. The Story of Unity (Lee's Summit, Mo.: Unity School of Christianity, 1951), p. 44.

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writer, Ella Wheeler Wilcox; Paul Militz and Annie Rix Militz [teacher of Eleanor Mel, who has led the Boston Home of Truth for more than forty years], who founded the Homes of Truth on the West Coast; Mrs. Bingham, who taught Nona Brooks, founder of the Divine Science movement in Denver; C. E. Burnell, a popular lecturer throughout the country for many years; H. Emilie Cady, who studied under Mrs. Hopkins on one of her trips to New York; and many others.

Charles and Myrtle Fillmore took several courses of study under Mrs. Hopkins and became her fast friends.1

After adopting these teachings, the Fillmores experienced healings. In 1889 Charles Fillmore began the publication of a magazine originally called Modern Thought.2   The following year its name was changed to Christian Science Thought after Mrs. Hopkins changed the name of her school to Christian Science Theological Seminary.3   It is added that in neither case did the name mean "that they were teaching the doctrine taught by Mrs: Eddy." After a year the name was changed to Thought, for

Mrs. Eddy made it known that she felt that the name Christian Science was her exclusive property and if the Fillmores wanted to use it they must also follow her teaching.4


1 Ibid., pp. 42-43.

2 Ibid., p. 55.

3 Ibid., p. 60.

4 Ibid.


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In 1891 Charles Fillmore received an inspiration to name their work Unity,1 and the magazine of that name was started as the organ of the prayer group called the Society of Silent Unity, which had come into existence some months earlier as the Society of Silent Help.2 In 1895 the two periodicals were consolidated.3 In 1914 the publishing and prayer branches were incorporated together as Unity School of Christianity.4


1 Ibid., p. 61.

2 Ibid., pp. 67 and 88.

3 Ibid., p. 69.

4 Ibid., p. 71. Now Unity has a Unity Village with a farm, ministerial school, correspondence school, publishing plant, and facilities for Silent Unity, retreats, and the production of radio and television programs.

Unity produces 50 million pieces of printed material annually, including 18 million magazines. More than a million people read Unity periodicals, titles of which are [in 1962, since which time some have been discontinued] Wee Wisdom for children, Progress and Unity Sunday School Leaflet for teenagers, Weekly Unity, Unity, Good Business, and Daily Word for young and old.

Daily Word is . . . the most popular. It is published in ten languages besides English: Afrikans, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Gujarati, Japanese, Portuguese, Sinhala, and Spanish....

Five publications are printed in Braille and distributed free to the blind....

Unity publishes more than fifty books, including a Bible dictionary, histories of Unity and its founders, a vegetarian cookbook, inspirational

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Since the 1890's Unity has published writings of H. Emilie Cady, a homeopathic physician who studied with Mrs. Hopkins. Of the primary Unity text it is said:

Lessons in Truth is the most famous Cady book and is the subject of intensive study and review by Unity friends all over the world during Lessons in Truth week that is held annually. Translations of Lessons in Truth appear in Spanish, French, Russian, Dutch, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and English, and the book is also available in Braille.1

Among the teachings in this work one finds a basic pantheism typical of New Thought. The book says


and metaphysical books, a songbook, children's books, and pamphlets and tracts. The sales of books and magazines cannot begin to cover the huge printing cost or meet the expense of Unity's benevolent services. Every month, tens of thousands of magazines, books, and other literature are distributed free of charge to charitable institutions, religious groups, and needy individuals. Therefore, the work is financed mostly by love offerings sent in by friends. [Marcus Bach, The Unity Way of Life (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1962), pp. 60-61. De Witt John's The Christian Science Way of Life, of the same publisher, came in the spring and this book in the fall of the same year.] There are 260 more or less independent local Unity centers. [Bach, pp. 68 and 81.]

1 Advertisement in Unity, CXXXVII (Nov., 1962), 87.


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that the real substance within everything we see is God; that all things are one and the same Spirit in different degrees of manifestation; that all the various forms of life arc just the same as one life.1


1 Formerly "life" was capitalized, at this point. Lessons in Truth, 1958 printing, p. 2, contains a notice that the book was published first in 1894 and was revised in 1953. However, a comparison of 1919 and 1939 versions of this quotation shows that essentially the 1958 version was used as early as 1939, but that it differs considerably from the 1919 version, which is the one referred to in the footnotes here. Probably the 1953 revision chiefly was the placing of the former twelfth lesson at the beginning as the first lesson, and the omission of some material from the lesson formerly called "Definitions of Terms Used in Metaphysical Teachings" and renaming it "Personality and Individuality," the definitions of which were retained and are quoted below. By 1939, paragraph numbers, still used, had been inserted. References here are to current lesson numbers, followed by paragraph numbers, followed by current page numbers, with 1919 page numbers in parentheses. Varying "Question Helps" are found in 1939 and 1958 editions. This feature is not found in the 1919 edition. According to a 1957 copy of The Lessons in Truth Study Guide, pp. 4-5,

The first contact of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore with Doctor Cady was through Mrs. Fillmore's receiving a copy of the booklet Finding the Christ in Ourselves [now one of the many five-cent publications of Unity]. The Fillmores recognized in this booklet so much spiritual discernment and such remarkable ability to present Truth in a lucid, forceful manner that they immediately invited Doctor Cady to contribute to Unity magazine.

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come forth out of the invisible into visible forms; that all the intelligence and all the1 wisdom2 in the world are3 God as Wisdom4 in various degrees of manifestation; that all the love which people feel and express toward5 others is just a little, so


The first of several articles in Unity by Doctor Cady appeared in January, 1892. Her articles met with the instant approval of Unity readers, many of whom requested more of her writings, asking especially to have her write a simple course of lessons on the principles of divine healing.

Doctor Cady was at first doubtful about undertaking the task. Finally she consented. From the appearance of the first lesson (in Unity in October, 1894), these lessons met with an extraordinary response. Continued demand for extra copies of the magazines in which the lessons were printed led Mr. Fillmore to have them reprinted in three booklets, four lessons in each booklet.

Lessons in Truth is now printed and bound in one volume, in lots of sixty thousand or more at one time.

1 In 1919 (the edition referred to below also) "all the" not used.

2 Followed by "there s"

3 "is"

4 Capitalized.

5 "to"


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to speak, of God as love1 come into visibility through2 human form.3

There is in reality only one Mind (or Spirit, which is life, intelligence, and so forth4) in the universe and yet there is a sense in which we are individual, or separate, a sense in which we are free wills and not puppets.

Man is made up of Spirit,5 soul, and body. Spirit is the central unchanging "I" of us, the part that since infancy has never changed, and to all eternity never will change. That which some persons6 call "mortal mind" is the region of the intellect7 where we do conscious thinking and are free wills. This part of our being is in constant process of changing.


1 Capitalized

2 Followed by "the"

3 H. Emilie Cady, Lessons in Truth: A Course of Twelve Lessons in Practical Christianity, fortieth printing (Lee's Summit, Mo., 1958), 3, 1. p. 24 (p. 13).

4 "etc."

5 Not capitalized.

6 Not "some persons" but "Christian Scientists"

7 Followed by a comma. Not all such seemingly minor changes are noted here, but this comma could change the meaning greatly.

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In our outspringing1 from God into the material world, Spirit2 is inner--one with 3 God; soul is the clothing, as it were, of the Spirit;4 body is5 the external clothing of the soul. Yet6 all are in reality one, the composite man--as steam, water, and ice are one,7 only in different degrees of condensation. In thinking of ourselves, we must not separate Spirit,8 soul, and body, but rather hold all as one, if we would be strong and powerful. Man originally lived consciously in the spiritual part of himself. He fell by descending in his consciousness to the external or more material part of himself.

"Mortal mind," the term so much used and so distracting to many, is the error consciousness,


1 "descent or outspringing"

2 Not capitalized

3 Not "one with" but "next to"

4 Not capitalized.

5 Followed by "yet"

6 Preceded by "And"

7 Not "the composite ... ice are one," but "which makes up the man--as steam at the center, water next, and ice as an external, all one,"

8 Not capitalized.


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which gathers its information1 from the outside world through the five senses.2

Personality applies to the human3 part of you--the person, the external. It belongs to the region governed by the intellect.... It is the outer, changeable man, in contradistinction to the inner or real man.

Individuality is the term used to denote the real man. The more God comes into visibility through a person the more individualized he becomes.4

Obviously these quotations leave much unsaid about the "Unity viewpoint," which is an accepted way of referring to it, but enough has been seen to show a basic outlook. A recent Unity summary provides additional information.

Charles Fillmore studied many teachings. "More than forty," he wrote. There are elements of Christian Science in Unity, but there are also elements of the Methodism of Myrtle's early life, and of many other teachings. Charles Fillmore


1 Followed by "through the five senses from the outside world."

2 Cady, Lessons in Truth, 3, 5-8, pp. 25-26 (pp. 14-15).

3 Not "human" but "mortal"

4 lbid., 7, 5-6, p. 72 (p. 73).

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fused many teachings and his own personal contact with God into the teaching that is now Unity.1

With regard to the results of this fusion, it is summarized:

Go within.

This is the great instruction of Unity. Go within--seek, ask, knock, meditate, pray--and you cannot miss God.

This is why in Unity's magazines and prayer ministry, doctrine plays a minor role. . . . Unity is not so much a set of descriptions as it is a set of directions.

Unity has some very specific teachings. Metaphysically, it is a mysticism, but a practical mysticism. Unity is practical Christianity. Also, it has elements of objective idealism. We teach that reality is of the nature of mind. Unity uses the Bible constantly. We feel that the Bible is God's Word, actually intended for people to live by. So we help people interpret the Bible that they can apply its message to their daily lives....

This is the central teaching of Unity. Jesus Christ is the Way, the truth and the Life. He came to show us how to do what He did.... He told us that if we follow Him, we shall learn how to overcome every limiting mortal condition, even death. So we teach the infinite perfectibility. . . .

We believe that life is an eternal unfoldment.. . .


1 James Dillet Freeman, What is Unity? (Lee's Summit, Mo.: Unity School of Christianity, n.d. [1961], from a Christian Herald article), p. 4.


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We suggest reincarnation as a possible explanation as to how this unfoldment may take place, but we do not insist that this idea be accepted. As a matter of fact, Unity is almost entirely concerned with the here-and-now rather than with the hereafter. What is important is what we arc making of the present moment. God has brought us this far; we can trust Him for the rest.

About God, we use the familiar terms and we accept the Trinity. But we emphasize His impersonal aspect. We do not believe that God is a person sitting on a throne over us in an arbitrary manner. God is principle. God is not separate and far away and hard to reach. God is in you. In you! God is part of you, as you are part of Him. God is right where you are. You have constant, instant access to Him.

God is Love.... God's will is good.... Thus, we do not pray in order to change God. How would we change the wholly good? It is not God, it is we who need to change. The purpose of prayer is to change our thinking.

This is why we use, not supplication, but affirmative statements in prayer....

But though the purpose of prayer is to change thinking, it is not to thought itself that we ascribe power. All power is God's. Thinking-mind--is the connecting link between man and God. We cannot heal through our thought. But God can heal through our thought when we align ourselves in thought with His healing love and power. God can meet every need through our thought; He can pour His rich ideas into our mind; He can give us every needful thing.

We do not teach that God gives a man everything he wants. But we do teach that a man should take everything he wants to God.

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No thing should be made the object of existence, but all things necessary to a happy, full life will be ours if we trust God's love and let ourselves be used by His wisdom.1

This summary forms a good introduction to New Thought, for it seems unlikely that many New Thoughters would object to it.2   However, Unity does not consider itself part of New Thought. In the early days of Unity, the Fillmores were close to other leaders of what was growing into New Thought. Unity was a member of the alliance of New Thought groups, but left it twice, most recently in 1922.3 The primary difference between Charles Fillmore and some others seems to have been that he considered his teachings more fully in accord with those of primitive Christianity.4 Although Unity as a whole is not a formal part of New Thought, an examination of the directories in each issue of Unity and


1 Ibid., pp. 6-11.

2 If I were to write the book again, almost certainly I should say much more about the views of such groups as Divine Science and Religious Science, but I still believe, in 1992, that this fairly lengthy presentation of Unity gives a good first look at New Thought as a whole.

3 Freeman, The Household of Faith, p. 105. [The Association of Unity Churches belongs to the International New Thought Alliance, although the school as such does not. It seems doubtful that many Unity people who are aware of New Thought as a whole would say that Unity is not part of New Thought, in teaching if not fully in organization.]

4 Ibid., pp. 102-105, and Braden, These Also Believe, pp. 153-56.


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of New Thought shows some local leaders listed in both. Braden has said of Unity that "its genius is essentially that of the New Thought movement in general,"1 and

Whether or not Unity and New Thought will ever again unite in any organization, cannot be predicted, but as, probably, the largest and strongest, numerically and institutionally, of any of the New Thought groups, Unity does not feel so keenly the need of association that lesser groups may be inclined to feel.2

(3) Varying Views of New Thought. It may be that in the past several decades there has been even less reason than formerly for distinguishing one branch of New Thought from another. Since there is little or no stress on formal membership in any group, and followers are free to work out their views from as many sources as they can find, it is all but impossible to say what significance there is to organizational boundaries, or even to whatever bounds there may be for New Thought.

Dresser saw New Thought in a broad perspective as

a phase or tendency within a growing movement of our time which has for its object the full emancipation of our fellowmen. The main characteristics of this larger movement are, the belief that every man may go to the sources of power, that he can and should prove their worth through practice. This means for the New Thought a profound belief in the immediate presence of God, and the sufficiency of that presence in every


1 Braden, These Also Believe, p. 140.

2 Ibid., p. 156.

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moment of need. There is no barrier, and need be no intermediary between the finite soul and God. ... God is still supreme Father over all, the source of all life, wisdom and love, and none is good save through God. But all men are God's children, all may commune with the Father. Man is by nature such that he is able to enter into conscious relation with the divine presence, he is good. What is needed is conscious realization of that presence in a manner so practical that we shall find freedom from every bondage, help for every ill, a solution for every problem.

The cardinal principle of the New Thought with reference to this spiritual realization is the belief that all life is one. The old-time distinctions between the natural and the supernatural, the profane and the sacred, are broken down. The entire cosmos is a revelation of God, every force active within it is from God, and all experience is meant for our good.1

It would seem that all or considerable parts of the "growing movement of our time" has been called New Thought by some writers.

"New Thought" is used as both a generic and a specific term. As a generic term it denotes the idealistic thought patterns usually associated with transcendentalism of the Concord School, which has close affinities with Plato, Neoplatonism, and the Vedanta philosophy of India.2


1 Horatio W. Dresser, "Swedenborg," part V, Practical Ideals, XXIII (February, 1912), 12-13.

2 F. E. Mayer, The Religious Bodies of America (3d ed.; St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 1958), p. 542.


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In this view the "specific term" is applied to "about a score of metaphysical cults"1 associated with a formal alliance of New Thought groups. This writer distinguishes New Thought from Christian Science and Unity (the Unity School of Christianity).

In another opinion, "New Thought ranges from simple interest in the advice of Norman Vincent Peale and his 'positive thinking' to subtle touches of ancient Hindu beliefs."2

A history of psychotherapy, while apparently excluding Christian Science and Unity from New Thought,3 differs from most by including Theosophy4 and the Emmanuel Movements in New Thought.

One classification groups Christian Science, Unity, and some clearly New Thought organizations together as "egocentric or 'New Thought' bodies" (apparently alternative terms for the same thing), while placing such entities as Theosophy and Vedanta in "esoteric or mystical


1 Ibid. [See the reference to Sydney E. Ahlstrom's use of the term harmonial religion in Appendix J.]

2 Richard Mathison, Faiths, Cults and Sects of America from Atheism to Zen (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1960), p. 72. [In recent years Robert H. Schuller's "possibility thinking" has taken its place alongside the "positive thinking" of his mentor, Norman Vincent Peale, both outlooks derived at least in part from New Thought.]

3 Bromberg, op. cit., p. 137.

4 lbid., p. 138. 5Ibid., p. 138.

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bodies."1 Christian Science, Unity, and New Thought have been termed three "branches on the same tree."2 New Thought has been termed both a cult and an attitude of mind.3   "It represents a general point of view held by a multitude of people, organized into numerous smaller or larger groups,"4 and, it could be added, held by many without organizations.

New Thought has never had an apostolic succession or a rigid discipline or a centralized organic form. This has given it a baffling looseness in every direction, but has, on the other hand, given it a pervasive quality which Christian Science does not possess. It has a vast and diffuse literature of contemporaneous thought as to make it difficult to find anywhere a distinct demarcation of channels.

New Thought is either a theology with a philosophic basis or a philosophy with a theological bias. It is centrally and quite distinctly an attempt to give a religious content to the present trend of science and philosophy, a reaction against old theologies and perhaps a kind of nebula out of which future theologies will be organized.5


1 Elmer T. Clark, The Small Sects in America (rev. ed.; Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1949), p. 234.

2 Jan Karel Van Baalen, The Chaos of Cults: A Study of Present-Day Isms (5th ed.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1946), p. 182.

3 Atkins, op. cit., p. 210.

4 Braden, These Also Believe, p. 128.

5 Atkins, op. cit., pp. 210-11.


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It has been said that

New Thought presents two ideas as supremely fundamental and important in man's development: (1) that he is a divine soul, and hence has within himself unlimited potentialities, slumbering perhaps and waiting to be called into expression; and (2) that he is under the dominion of universal law--the law of cause and effect; that he is punished by every wrong and rewarded by every virtue. Until we grasp the true significance of these truths, we shall never find a true religion or the pathway of spiritual progress. This philosophy conceives of evil as only a misdirected energy. All forces are good; only as they are misdirected do they produce harm. . . . True teaching exalts the good and replaces negative with constructive thoughts. To teach man to come into the conscious realization of the divinity within, the unity of God and man, so that out of the sublimity of his own soul he can say with the Gentle Seer of Galilee, "The Father and I are One," is the supreme voice and meaning of New Thought.1

A more recent characterization of New Thought in terms of trends in theology probably would note that throughout the vogue of Neo-Orthodoxy in recent decades, New Thought has retained its Liberalism, which always has differed from most theological Liberalisms in


1 Abel Leighton Allen, "New Thought," Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. James Hastings, IX (1917), 360-61. See also John Benjamin Anderson, New Thought Its Lights and Shadows: An Appreciation and a Criticism (Boston: Sherman, French & Company, 1911) and Henry C. Sheldon, Theosophy and New Thought (New York and Cincinnati: the Abingdon Press, 1916), passim.

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emphasizing the "miraculous." Most New Thought people have little or no interest in any very formal theology.

A self-professing New Thought dictionary defines:

New Thought: A system of thought which affirms the

unity of God with man, the perfection of all life and the immortality and eternality of the individual soul forever expanding. new thought applied: The conscious use of the laws of thought for the purpose of producing betterment in one's life or in the lives of others.

New Thought Movement: Groups, societies, religious

and spiritual organizations built upon the New Thought philosophy, leaving room for ample independent individualism. The principles governing the New Thought Movement are universal but individually and independently applied.1

The introduction to a book published for the International New Thought Alliance asserts that the metaphysics of the New Thought movement is

a practical idealism, which emphasizes spiritual causation and the accessibility of spiritual mind


1 Ernest Holmes, New Thought Terms and Their Meanings (Los Angeles: Institute of Religious Science and Philosophy, 1953), pp. 15-16. Varying capitalization in original.


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power, acting in accord with law and available to all people.1

The term "New Thought" requires some explanation:

The term New Thought is more comprehensive than any other that has been applied to the mental-healing movement. The term itself has often been criticized, and some attempts have been made to give it up. It has come to stay, however, and may well be accepted in the widely representative sense in which it is at present employed. Like other terms, it had a natural history implying changes in human interests. From the first the mental-healing movement was a protest against old beliefs and methods, particularly the old-school medical practice and the old theology....

Dr. Holcombe . . . was the first writer in the mental-science period to employ the term "New Thought," capitalized, to designate the new teaching in the sense in which the term is now used. In his pamphlet, Condensed Thoughts about Christian Science, 1889, Dr. Holcombe says, "New Thought always excites combat in the mind with old thought, which refuses to retire."

There is no line of demarcation, then, between the earlier terms and "New Thought." Nor can one say that mental science abruptly ceases and New Thought begins. After 1890, devotees of


1 Ernest Holmes and Maude Allison Lathem (eds.), Mind Remakes Your World (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1941), p. xi. This quotation follows the statement, "The New Thought Movement is metaphysical, but not in a strict philosophical sense."

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mental healing acquired the habit of speaking of the new teaching as "this thought" in contrast with the old theology. Thus in time the term came into vogue in place of mental science, and writers like Dr. Holcombe began to give up using the term "Christian Science" when they wished to show that they did not mean Eddyism. Then in 1894 the name "New Thought" was chosen as the title of a little magazine devoted to mental healing, published in Melrose, Mass. The term became current in Boston through the organization of the Metaphysical Club, in 1895. At about the same time it was used by Mr. C. B. Patterson in his magazine Mind, New York, and in the titles of two of his books, [and by others in their books and magazines.]1

(4) Alliance Founding and Statements of New Thought. On the invitation of the Metaphysical Club, "the first New Thought convention under that name . . . was held in Lorimer Hall, Tremont Temple, Boston, October 24-26, 1899."2 However, the name of the organization that emerged from the convention was The International Metaphysical League.3 This organization was reorganized in 1908 as the National New Thought Alliance, which became the present International New Thought Alliance in 1914.4

In 1916 it adopted


1 Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement, pp. 152-54.

2 Ibid., p. 195.

3 Ibid., pp. 195-96.

4 lbid., p. 202.


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a declaration of purpose [that] ... read: "To teach the infinitude of the Supreme one, the Divinity of Man and his infinite possibilities through the creative power of constructive thinking and obedience to the voice of the Indwelling Presence which is our source of Inspiration, Power, Health and Prosperity."1

Each issue of the Alliance's quarterly, New Thought, includes the Declaration of Principles adopted by the 42nd Congress on July 25, 1957:

We affirm the inseparable oneness of God and man, the realization of which comes through spiritual intuition, the implications of which are that man can reproduce the Divine perfection in his body, emotions, and in all his external affairs.

We affirm the freedom of each person in matters of belief.

We affirm the Good to be supreme, universal, and eternal.

We affirm that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, that we are one with the Father, that we should love one another, and return good for evil.

We affirm that we should heal the sick through prayer and that we should endeavor to manifest perfection "even as our Father in Heaven is perfect."


1 Braden, These Also Believe, p. 136.

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We affirm our belief in God as the Universal Wisdom, Love, Life, Truth, Power, Peace, Beauty, and Joy, "in whom we live, move, and have our being."

We affirm that man's mental states are carried forward into manifestation and become his experience through the Creative Law of Cause and Effect.

We affirm that the Divine Nature expressing Itself through man manifests Itself as health, supply, wisdom, love, life, truth, power, peace, beauty, and joy.

We affirm that man is an invisible spiritual dweller within a human body, continuing and unfolding as a spiritual being beyond the change called physical death.

We affirm that the universe is the body of God, spiritual in essence, governed by God through laws which are spiritual in reality even when material in appearance.

This appears to be a more concise form of a Declaration of Principles adopted in 1917.1 It may well be that it represents no change of view, but it also is possible that it is the expression of a slightly more


1 Quoted in full in Braden, Ibid., pp 136-37 and extensively in Atkins, op. cit., pp. 228-29 and Mayer, op. cit., pp 543-44; Atkins and Mayer omit parts stressing the Alliance's belief that it is carrying on the Christ teaching, that "the universe is spiritual and we are spiritual beings." The 1957 declaration also omits an explicitly Christian name for the teaching.


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orthodox outlook. At least its language may be somewhat more meaningful to those not familiar with New Thought. The 1917 declaration includes the affirmation of

Heaven here and now, the life everlasting that becomes conscious immortality, the communion of mind with mind throughout the universe of thoughts, the nothingness of all error and negation, including death, the variety in unity that produces the individual expressions of the One-Life, and the quickened realization of the indwelling God in each soul that is making a new heaven and a new earth.1

It also speaks of "the vision and mission of the Alliance" in connection with "the opportunity to form a real Christ Movement."2 The general tone of the earlier declaration seems somewhat more crusading than the one adopted by an Alliance that had survived two world wars and other sobering events. However, New Thought shows no essential change in its optimism. It now may make less use of obviously Christian terminology, but this may be to avoid confusing people with terms that it seldom did use in the same ways that most Christians did. It still believes that its views are closer to those of Jesus than are those of the churches.

(5) Dresser Within New Thought. After seeing these characterizations of New Thought, one might wonder how Dresser could be classified as a New Thought writer. Certainly New Thought now may be called a form of pantheism [or increasingly, perhaps, panentheism], and Dresser became increasingly opposed to pantheism. However, there are other criteria for classification.


1 Braden, These Also Believe, p. 137.

2 Ibid.

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The broadly inclusive nature of New Thought is such as to make it almost impossible to exclude anyone who considers God and people to be in meaningful communication and cooperative endeavor, in considerable degree under the control of the human mind. However, this makes the term New Thought of little use.

The progressive, evolutionary attitude of Dresser is consistent with the drive toward the realization of perfection on the part of New Thought.

Certainly the aim of helping people to realize their greatest mental and spiritual abilities in the most practical ways, including bodily healing, is common to both Dresser and New Thought.

The respect for Quimby and the attempt to make use of his insights are found in Dresser and in New Thought.

Perhaps the strongest ground for including Dresser among New Thought writers is his intention to write for the New Thought audience, attempting to influence the beliefs of his readers to what he considered better views than those more commonly found, but without the attempt to get them to leave New Thought. The most important part of his writing, from the standpoint of his classification as a New Thought writer, is his defining of New Thought in ways acceptable to his views at the time of writing. During his more pantheistic period he found the "fundamental principle" of New Thought philosophy to be

the belief that the reality lying beyond phenomena is ultimately spiritual Being, absolute Self, or omniscient Life.... As known by us, Being is the living God, the source of the tendencies which stream through us, and make for righteousness; the


Healing Hypotheses

resident force of nature and of cosmic evolution, the life of the universe at large.1

The "real man," as he believed then that New Thought saw the "real man," is "an original individuation of ultimate Being, existing in the environment of Being's outgoing life, or the immanent Spirit."2

By 1920, in a statement given in response to a request for "a brief account of the teaching" of New Thought, he offered a statement that was not pantheistic, and that was sufficiently illustrative of his later views to merit full quotation:


The New Thought is a practical philosophy of the inner life in relation to health, happiness, social welfare, and success. Man as a spiritual being is living an essentially spiritual life, for the sake of the soul. His life proceeds from within outward, and makes for harmony, health, freedom, efficiency, service. He needs to realize the spiritual truth of his being, that he may rise--above all ills and all obstacles into fullness of power. Every resource he could ask for is at hand, in the omnipresent divine wisdom. Every individual can learn to draw upon divine resources. The special methods of New Thought grow out of this central spiritual principle. Much stress is put upon inner or spiritual concentration and inner control, because each of us needs to become still to learn how to be affirmative, optimistic. Suggestion or


1 Dresser, Voices of Freedom, pp. 27-28. In Search of a Soul, pp. 223-24 is similar.

2 Dresser, Voices of Freedom, p. 28.

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affirmation is employed to banish ills and errors and establish spiritual truth in their place. Silent or mental treatment is employed to overcome disease and secure freedom and success. The New Thought then is not a substitute for Christianity, but an inspired return to the original teaching and practice of the gospels. It is not hostile to science but wishes to spiritualize all facts and laws. It encourages each man to begin wherever he is, however conditioned, whatever he may find to occupy his hands; and to learn the great spiritual lessons taught by this present experience.1

This appears in a book that refers to Dresser as "the most prominent leader and teacher"2 of New Thought. This characterization of Dresser is quoted above a publisher's list of some of his books opposite the title page of Spiritual Health and Healing.

That book was intended by Dresser to complete his work dealing with the subject,3 and indeed it was his last book that reasonably is a candidate for inclusion within New Thought, and hence within this study.

He does not present the book as a work on New Thought, but refers to unspecified criticism of New Thought and Christian Science largely because of their failure to distinguish God and humankind.4 He believes that removal of cause for criticism would require


1 James H. Snowden, The Truth About Christian Science (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1920), pp. 282-83.

2 Ibid., p. 281.

3 Dresser, Spiritual Health and Healing, p. xii.

4 lbid., p. ix.


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discriminations [that] point the way beyond mysticism and pantheism in all its forms, beyond self-centeredness and mere thought to the ideal of constancy of love for God and man in frank recognition of our sonship.1

Clearly Dresser believed that he was distinguishing "God and man" adequately. However, he said that "there is but one Wisdom and all spiritual truth comes from this source,"2 and "there is no opposing power."3 By this he could not well have meant that there are no conditions contrary to the ideal situation; that there are such is obvious to everyone. This point is clarified when he says in relation to healing:

It is not primarily a question of supremacy over the flesh as if the body contained nothing friendly to the spirit. The body contains nothing unfriendly save what man himself has generated in it. It needs regeneration with man's own spiritual rebirth. It needs to be purified with the purification that is thorough.4

In Dresser's view, accepting "Swedenborg's statement,"5


1 Ibid.

2 Ibid., p. 23.

3 Ibid., p. 54.

4 Ibid., p. 85.

5 Ibid, p. 99.

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there is an influx into the soul ... which not only sustains us but protects and guides us, withholding man by a "very strong force" from influences that tend to his injury. That is to say, this heavenly or divine influx really "rules every one" whatever the appearances to the contrary and despite man's failure to give recognition to it.1

This shows Dresser's tendency toward dualism. Even after saying that there is only one Wisdom and no opposing power, he does not follow through with a pantheistic conclusion. It seems probable that this is because of his belief in the need of regeneration. Dresser maintains, with favorable reference to Swedenborg,   that   love   is   prior   to   thought.2   Hence regeneration must come first, before argument or affirmation of what is desired but not yet present. Dresser asserts:

Man will not change his thoughts or outward life until his love changes. When he begins to love spiritual things with devoted or constant love he will find every helpful influence in the world coming to him.3

Here Dresser is fully in the New Thought spirit of optimism, and of confidence in a law of action and reaction. Once we do our part, God will respond, or as it also is put, God already has done his part and we need only accept what has been done.


1 Ibid.

2 Ibid., p. 171.

3 lbid., p. 166.


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When one sees that Dresser's opposition to New Thought's pantheism is in order to uphold the need for regeneration, for change of direction of affection, for coming into broader, fuller communion with the divine, one finds strong similarity with the New Thought approach.

It has been seen already that Evans spoke of healing as conversion. Perhaps the most popular New Thought writer of recent years, Emmet Fox, was similar. In justifying prayer for oneself and others he says:

We worship God by believing in Him, trusting Him, and loving Him wholeheartedly--and we can attain to that only through prayer.

The sole object of our being here is that we may grow like Him--and we can do that only through prayer.1

From this quotation it might be thought that Fox was not a pantheist. Indeed in his own terminology he was not. In describing metaphysics, in the sense of New Thought, he says that it is not pantheism, but proceeds to state that

pantheism, as generally understood, gives the outer world a separate and substantial existence and says that it is part of God--including all the evil and cruelty to be found in it. The truth is that God is the only Presence and the only Power, that He is entirely good, that evil is a false belief about the Truth; and that the outer world is the outpicturing of our own minds.2


1 Emmet Fox, Make Your Life Worthwhile (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1942), p. 195.

2 Ibid., pp. 228-29.

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Certainly his assertions about God qualify him as a pantheist according to the more usual understanding of the term. Elsewhere he recommends as an aid to realizing the Presence of God the saying of "there is nothing but God."1 Yet, within this pantheistic framework, he has no difficulty in taking human beings as "individualizations" of God. He says, "You are the presence of God at the point where you are."2 Fox likens people to electric light bulbs giving visible expression to invisible electricity.

It seems to be as obvious to Fox that there can be a reality that is all, but includes realities that are not all, as it is obvious to Dresser that such a relationship of something to itself is unreal. Unfortunately, neither was sufficiently concerned with the philosophical expression of the problem to bring out clearly the grounds of the rival beliefs. What is significant here is that with such differing outlooks in metaphysics they could be so close in their devotional views. But it should be added that they did differ on the amount of emphasis to be placed on thought, Fox stressing it as the means of reaching realization of the presence of God, and Dresser emphasizing a loving attitude as necessary before thought could be changed. In reality, it appears that they were giving their attention to differing stages in the same process. As Dresser in his epistemology recognized, immediate feeling and mediate thought correct each other.

Another difference of approach between Dresser and definitely New Thought writers was Dresser's accent on spontaneous action guided by the spirit, as contrasted with New Thought's reliance on what could be called formulas, such as the affirmation of God's sole being offered by Fox. Perhaps Dresser's attitude with regard to


1 Emmet Fox, Stake Your Claim (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952), p. 74.

2 Emmet Fox, Alter Your Life, p. 136.


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this grew out of his recognition of the dialectical becoming process in his epistemology and from his acceptance of evolution. It could well be that these prepared him for the acceptance of the Swedenborgian doctrine of divine influx, which is believed to overcome the Swedenborgian difficulty set up by the doctrine of discrete degrees. Once accept the view that there cannot be pantheism, and the Swedenborgian twin doctrines offer at least a verbal explanation of the state of affairs existing without pantheism and of the bridge across the gulf between God and humankind. Pantheism can imply a static outlook; if all is God, there may not be need for development, for influx, for loving response. If there is such a flowing system, it seems appropriate that one should not attempt to work out the final answers, but rather join the flow, in loving trust of whatever guides the flow.

From this expression, which may be taken as an approximation of Dresser's position, it would seem that New Thought must differ considerably. However, this is not the case. Despite the widespread use of affirmations and formulations that are given to certainty of expression of ultimate truth, one finds considerable tentativeness and humility in New Thought. Fox warns against "outlining," the attempt to "think out in advance what the solution of your difficulty will probably turn out to be."1 He advocates giving one's attention to God and leaving "the question of ways and means strictly to God."2

As suggested by Dresser's appreciative reference to "the warm, loving, tender Father of us all" in his summary of Quimby's views in the last chapter, Dresser placed much value on the personality of God, although, curiously,


1 Emmet Fox, Power Through Constructive Thinking (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1932), p. 140.

2 Ibid.

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Dresser did not seem to care to consider himself a Personalist. Perhaps the Swedenborgian discrete degrees kept him from attempting to explain all reality in terms of personality, for to do so would be to overcome the discontinuousness of creation.

One of the most important attempts of New Thought is to consider God both personal and impersonal. Fox believes in a personal God,1 but says that "God is not a person in the usual sense of the word. God has every quality of personality except its limitation."2 But God also is principle3 or law.

Perhaps the most interesting New Thought explanation of the relation of the personal and the impersonal is that of Thomas Troward. He finds his solution in God as undifferentiated originating life that progresses by generic evolution to the stage of there being both law and personality discernible to evolved units sufficiently high in the developed scale of existence to be self-conscious. Progress beyond the point at which self-consciousness is attained is dependent on the many's conception of what the one is. Because God remains undifferentiated, He or it, supposedly, can be called both personal and impersonal. Troward says:

If we see that the Eternal Life, by reason of its non-differentiation in itself, must needs become to each of us exactly what we take it to be, then it follows that in order to realize it on our own plane


1 Fox, Alter Your Life, p. 133.

2 Ibid., p. 132.

3 Ibid., p. 143.


Healing Hypotheses

of Personality we must see it through the medium of Personality....1

There is a humility akin to Dresser's in the recognition that "Principle is not limited by Precedent."2 Troward observes that God has the power, and it is for us to make ourselves suitable receptacles for it. No doubt, Dresser would consider this an inadequate substitute for his conception of devotion, but at least it is not the exalting of oneself that would be even more unacceptable to him.

Taking these various resemblances and differences of Dresser and New Thought apart from him into consideration, one finds that the way is open for classifying him on reasonable grounds either within or without New Thought with respect to the period with which this study is concerned.

If one were to take only his nineteenth-century writing, there would be little or no hesitation, except for his protestations of independence, to group him firmly with New Thought. Of his writing covering approximately the first two decades of the twentieth century, one can decide about as easily one way as the other. He opposed the prevalent pantheism of New Thought, but remained essentially in agreement with New Thought's healing aims, tolerant attitude, and optimism. Perhaps the best classification for Dresser at that time is a friend of New Thought.

What influence Dresser had on New Thought it is impossible to say. Judging by the official platform of the International New Thought Alliance seen above, he seems to have had little. However, it already has been pointed


1 T. Troward, The Law and the Word (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1950, originally 1917), p. 207.

2 Ibid., p. 113.

Healing Hypotheses


out that his earliest writing could well have contributed to the pantheistic position that he later opposed. His books must have been read to a considerable extent, but certainly did not sell so well as to make him financially well-off.

What influence his writings may have in the future cannot be told. From the prevalence of pantheism in the movement for its now many years of existence, it seems extremely doubtful that any future reading of his works could bring about any great doctrinal change. However, it may be that his devotional attitude interpreted within the bounds of pantheism [or panentheism] could have, and may have had, some influence. Beyond this, his plea for scholarship could be heeded, and may have been of some importance in making New Thought as open as it is to scholarship. From experience in preparing this study it can be said that New Thought welcomes investigation. From the existence of classes such as those of Ervin Scale, mentioned above, it is seen that New Thought is taking account of the intellectual world apart from its own writings. In this respect New Thought, knowingly or unknowingly with regard to Dresser, is following some of his advice. As a teacher, he probably would consider it some of his most basic advice.

iii. Summary

New Thought arose [however directly or indirectly] primarily out of Quimby's healing practice and his philosophical speculation about phenomena of healing and extrasensory perception produced by mesmerism and by Quimby without use of mesmerism.

Evans and others developed the Quimby thought in various ways having the common denominator of pantheism. Among the influences contributing to this was Oriental thought, introduced partly through American Transcendentalism. New Thought differed from other forms of pantheism in emphasizing that the allness of God


Healing Hypotheses

provided the ground for healing, if one were to become sufficiently aware of this possibility.

Various New Thought organizations arose. Soon they began to hold conventions, and most groups became members of what now is the International New Thought Alliance. The most notable organization of the general New Thought type that is not a member of the Alliance is Unity. This group may well be the most important disseminator of New Thought teaching.

New Thought proceeded in a rather doctrinaire manner, assuming pantheism and the healing effects possible from an appreciation of the implications of pantheism. However, Dresser preferred to consider New Thought to be not necessarily pantheistic, but part of a broad movement of varying theological and philosophical positions aiming toward the full self-development of humankind. Dresser considered recognition of the closeness of God necessary, but pantheism to be an overstatement of the case. Dresser saw the loving relationship of the presence of God as capable of opening a channel that could result in healing. He was wary of attempts to put God into a formula; instead he believed in simply turning to God in humility and awaiting whatever spiritual leadings and healing might be provided in God's grace.

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