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Pioneer Writer of New Thought

While Phineas P. Quimby may without doubt be regarded as the founder not only of the New Thought Movement but of the so-called Metaphysical Movement in America, credit for the spread of his ideas and methods, as well as for the organization of movements that have made these a force in American life, go to four others. These were four sick people who sought healing at his hands within a period of less than two years, in 1862-63: Annetta G. Seabury, Julius A. Dresser, Mary Baker Glover Patterson (later Mary Baker Eddy), and Warren Felt Evans.

Julius A. Dresser and Annetta Seabury, who were husband and wife, were the first effectively to organize what has since been called New Thought; Mary Baker Eddy became the founder of Christian Science; and Warren Felt Evans became the first to give literary form to the new ideas and methods of cure, though he never seems to have concerned himself with any institutional expression of either -- save that he established a kind of mind-cure sanitarium at Salisbury, Massachusetts, to which people came for rest and healing.

He was a farmer's son, a descendant of John Evans of Roxbury, Massachusetts, born to Eli and Sarah Edson Evans at Rockingham, Vermont, on December 23, 1817, the sixth of their seven children. He studied at Chester Academy and in 1837 entered Middlebury College. In 1838 he transferred to Dartmouth College at Hanover, New Hampshire, as a sophomore, but left in the middle of his junior year to become a Methodist minister. He served eleven different charges in that denomination. He married M. Charlotte Tinker on June 21, 1840, and continued his Methodist ministry until 1863, when he left that church and joined the Church of the New Jerusalem (Swedenborgian), having somewhere along the way begun to read the works of the great Swedish seer, Emanuel Swedenborg, and been converted to the truth of his doctrines.

But before this he had contracted a serious illness, "a nervous affection, complicated by a chronic disorder." He got no help from physicians or their medicines. How he first heard of Quimby is not known, but the fame of the good Portland healer had spread throughout New England through patients he had healed and through articles in the public press concerning his amazing healing powers without benefit of any physical remedy. In any event, Evans appeared in Portland in 1863. Mary Baker Eddy, then Mrs. Patterson, had come there, as had the Dressers in 1862. Evans, like them, found healing in the philosophy and methods which Quimby employed and taught, and became a devoted disciple, as did the others. He visited Quimby a second time, felt that he understood the philosophy and method, and told the Doctor that he thought he, too, could heal. Quimby encouraged him to do so, with the result that he began the practice of mental medicine at Claremont, New Hampshire.

In 1867 he opened an office in Boston and for more than twenty years, with his wife, practiced and taught informally the principles of mental healing. For years they received patients in their own home, in Salisbury, where they had moved in 1869. No charge was made for their services or instruction beyond free will offerings, and no one, however poor, was ever turned away. But he created no institution to perpetuate his teaching. He died 1889.

W.F Evans not only healed but he wrote a great deal. His great distinction lies in the fact that he was the first to write of the new healing and its basis as taught and practiced by Quimby. His first book, The Mental Cure, (Illustrating the Influence of the Mind on the Body, Both in Health and Disease, and the Psychological Method of Treatment,) was published in 1869, only three years after Quimby's death and six years before the appearance of Science & Health by Mrs. Eddy. Thus Evans became the first in a long line of exponents of the basis of New Thought ideas and methods to set them forth in published book form.

Evans continued to write during his whole active career. Mental Medicine was published in 1872; Soul and body, Evans' third book, saw the light the same year as Mrs. Eddy's Science and Health did, in 1875. His most widely read book, The Divine Law of Cure, appeared in 1881 and went through many editions. The Primitive Mind Cure was issued in 1885, and a year later, in 1886, Evans' last book, Esoteric Christianity and Mental Therapeutics, was given to the public. This too had a wide sale. Whilst the exact circulation figures for these books is not known, a ninth edition of The Mental Cure was called for more than sixteen years after it was first issued; Primative Mind Cure went into at least five editions, and it is most likely that various editions of his other books appeared also.

One certain fact is that he was the first and indeed the only figure, aside from Mrs. Eddy, who attempted to work out a consistent philisophically supported system of what may be called mental or metaphysical healing, during the first two decades after the death of P. P. Quimby. The New Thought periodicals which began to appear in the late 1880's continued to carry advertisements for his books at least to the end of the century, and copies of the books were to be found in the major public libraries and the libraries of most New Thought leaders and centers.

Here is Evans' first book in its entirety:

The Mental Cure

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