This etext was produced by David Widger
by Mark Twain
Book I of this volume occupies a quarter or a third of the volume, and consists of matter written about four years ago, but not hitherto published in book form. It contained errors of judgment and of fact. I have now corrected these to the best of my ability and later knowledge.
Book II was written at the beginning of 1903, and has not until now appeared in any form. In it my purpose has been to present a character- portrait of Mrs. Eddy, drawn from her own acts and words solely, not from hearsay and rumor; and to explain the nature and scope of her Monarchy, as revealed in the Laws by which she governs it, and which she wrote herself.
NEW YORK. January, 1907.
BOOK I CHRISTIAN SCIENCE
“It is the first time since the dawn-days of Creation that a Voice has gone crashing through space with such placid and complacent confidence and command.”
This last summer, when I was on my way back to Vienna from the Appetite- Cure in the mountains, I fell over a cliff in the twilight, and broke some arms and legs and one thing or another, and by good luck was found by some peasants who had lost an ass, and they carried me to the nearest habitation, which was one of those large, low, thatch-roofed farm-houses, with apartments in the garret for the family, and a cunning little porch under the deep gable decorated with boxes of bright colored flowers and cats; on the ground floor a large and light sitting-room, separated from the milch-cattle apartment by a partition; and in the front yard rose stately and fine the wealth and pride of the house, the manure-pile. That sentence is Germanic, and shows that I am acquiring that sort of mastery of the art and spirit of the language which enables a man to travel all day in one sentence without changing cars.
There was a village a mile away, and a horse doctor lived there, but there was no surgeon. It seemed a bad outlook; mine was distinctly a surgery case. Then it was remembered that a lady from Boston was summering in that village, and she was a Christian Science doctor and could cure anything. So she was sent for. It was night by this time, and she could not conveniently come, but sent word that it was no matter, there was no hurry, she would give me “absent treatment” now, and come in the morning; meantime she begged me to make myself tranquil and comfortable and remember that there was nothing the matter with me. I thought there must be some mistake.
“Did you tell her I walked off a cliff seventy-five feet high?”
“And struck a boulder at the bottom and bounced?”
“And struck another one and bounced again?”
“And struck another one and bounced yet again?”
“And broke the boulders?”
“That accounts for it; she is thinking of the boulders. Why didn’t you tell her I got hurt, too?”
“I did. I told her what you told me to tell her: that you were now but an incoherent series of compound fractures extending from your scalp-lock to your heels, and that the comminuted projections caused you to look like a hat-rack.”
“And it was after this that she wished me to remember that there was nothing the matter with me?”
“Those were her words.”
“I do not understand it. I believe she has not diagnosed the case with sufficient care. Did she look like a person who was theorizing, or did she look like one who has fallen off precipices herself and brings to the aid of abstract science the confirmations of personal experience?”
It was too large a contract for the Stubenmadchen’s vocabulary; she couldn’t call the hand. I allowed the subject to rest there, and asked for something to eat and smoke, and something hot to drink, and a basket to pile my legs in; but I could not have any of these things.
“She said you would need nothing at all.”
“But I am hungry and thirsty, and in desperate pain.”
“She said you would have these delusions, but must pay no attention to them. She wants you to particularly remember that there are no such things as hunger and thirst and pain.”
“She does does she?”
“It is what she said.”
Does she seem to be in full and functionable possession of her intellectual plant, such as it is?”
“Do they let her run at large, or do they tie her up?”
“Tie her up?”
“There, good-night, run along, you are a good girl, but your mental Geschirr is not arranged for light and airy conversation. Leave me to my delusions.”
It was a night of anguish, of course-at least, I supposed it was, for it had all the symptoms of it–but it passed at last, and the Christian Scientist came, and I was glad She was middle-aged, and large and bony, and erect, and had an austere face and a resolute jaw and a Roman beak and was a widow in the third degree, and her name was Fuller. I was eager to get to business and find relief, but she was distressingly deliberate. She unpinned and unhooked and uncoupled her upholsteries one by one, abolished the wrinkles with a flirt of her hand, and hung the articles up; peeled off her gloves and disposed of them, got a book out of her hand-bag, then drew a chair to the bedside, descended into it without hurry, and I hung out my tongue. She said, with pity but without passion:
“Return it to its receptacle. We deal with the mind only, not with its dumb servants.”
I could not offer my pulse, because the connection was broken; but she detected the apology before I could word it, and indicated by a negative tilt of her head that the pulse was another dumb servant that she had no use for. Then I thought I would tell her my symptoms and how I felt, so that she would understand the case; but that was another inconsequence, she did not need to know those things; moreover, my remark about how I felt was an abuse of language, a misapplication of terms.
“One does not feel,” she explained; “there is no such thing as feeling: therefore, to speak of a non-existent thing as existent is a contradiction. Matter has no existence; nothing exists but mind; the mind cannot feel pain, it can only imagine it.”
“But if it hurts, just the same–“
“It doesn’t. A thing which is unreal cannot exercise the functions of reality. Pain is unreal; hence, pain cannot hurt.”
In making a sweeping gesture to indicate the act of shooing the illusion of pain out of the mind, she raked her hand on a pin in her dress, said “Ouch!” and went tranquilly on with her talk. “You should never allow yourself to speak of how you feel, nor permit others to ask you how you are feeling; you should never concede that you are ill, nor permit others to talk about disease or pain or death or similar nonexistences in your presence. Such talk only encourages the mind to continue its empty imaginings.” Just at that point the Stuben-madchen trod on the cat’s tail, and the cat let fly a frenzy of cat-profanity. I asked, with caution:
“Is a cat’s opinion about pain valuable?”
“A cat has no opinion; opinions proceed from mind only; the lower animals, being eternally perishable, have not been granted mind; without mind, opinion is impossible.”
“She merely imagined she felt a pain–the cat?”
“She cannot imagine a pain, for imagining is an effect of mind; without mind, there is no imagination. A cat has no imagination.”
“Then she had a real pain?”
“I have already told you there is no such thing as real pain.”
“It is strange and interesting. I do wonder what was the matter with the cat. Because, there being no such thing as a real pain, and she not being able to imagine an imaginary one, it would seem that God in His pity has compensated the cat with some kind of a mysterious emotion usable when her tail is trodden on which, for the moment, joins cat and Christian in one common brotherhood of–“
She broke in with an irritated–
“Peace! The cat feels nothing, the Christian feels nothing. Your empty and foolish imaginings are profanation and blasphemy, and can do you an injury. It is wiser and better and holier to recognize and confess that there is no such thing as disease or pain or death.”
“I am full of imaginary tortures,” I said, “but I do not think I could be any more uncomfortable if they were real ones. What must I do to get rid of them?”
“There is no occasion to get rid of them. since they do not exist. They are illusions propagated by matter, and matter has no existence; there is no such thing as matter.”
“It sounds right and clear, but yet it seems in a degree elusive; it seems to slip through, just when you think you are getting a grip on it.”
“Well, for instance: if there is no such thing as matter, how can matter propagate things?”
In her compassion she almost smiled. She would have smiled if there were any such thing as a smile.
“It is quite simple,” she said; “the fundamental propositions of Christian Science explain it, and they are summarized in the four following self-evident propositions:
1. God is All in all.
2. God is good. Good is Mind
3. God, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter 4. Life, God, omnipotent Good, deny death, evil, sin, disease.
“There–now you see.”
It seemed nebulous; it did not seem to say anything about the difficulty in hand–how non-existent matter can propagate illusions I said, with some hesitancy:
“Does–does it explain?”
“Doesn’t it? Even if read backward it will do it.”
With a budding hope, I asked her to do it backwards.
“Very well. Disease sin evil death deny Good omnipotent God life matter is nothing all being Spirit God Mind is Good good is God all in All is God. There do you understand now?
“It–it–well, it is plainer than it was before; still–“
“Could you try it some more ways?”
“As many as you like; it always means the same. Interchanged in any way you please it cannot be made to mean anything different from what it means when put in any other way. Because it is perfect. You can jumble it all up, and it makes no difference: it always comes out the way it was before. It was a marvelous mind that produced it. As a mental tour de force it is without a mate, it defies alike the simple, the concrete, and the occult.”
“It seems to be a corker.”
I blushed for the word, but it was out before I could stop it.
“A–wonderful structure–combination, so to speak, of profound thoughts– unthinkable ones–um–“
It is true. Read backward, or forward, or perpendicularly, or at any given angle, these four propositions will always be found to agree in statement and proof.”
“Ah–proof. Now we are coming at it. The statements agree; they agree with–with–anyway, they agree; I noticed that; but what is it they prove I mean, in particular?”
“Why, nothing could be clearer. They prove:
“1. GOD–Principle, Life,
Truth, Love, Soul, Spirit, Mind. Do you get that?”
“I–well, I seem to. Go on, please.”
“2. MAN–God’s universal idea, individual, perfect, eternal. Is it clear?”
“It–I think so. Continue.”
“3. IDEA–An image in Mind; the immediate object of understanding. There it is–the whole sublime Arcana of Christian Science in a nutshell. Do you find a weak place in it anywhere?”
“Well–no; it seems strong.”
“Very well There is more. Those three constitute the Scientific Definition of Immortal Mind. Next, we have the Scientific Definition of Mortal Mind. Thus. FIRST DEGREE: Depravity I. Physical-Passions and appetites, fear, depraved will, pride, envy, deceit, hatred, revenge, sin, disease, death.”
“Phantasms, madam–unrealities, as I understand it.”
“Every one. SECOND DEGREE: Evil Disappearing. I. Moral-Honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness, temperance. Is it clear?”
“THIRD DEGREE: Spiritual Salvation. I. Spiritual-Faith, wisdom, power, purity, understanding, health, love. You see how searchingly and co- ordinately interdependent and anthropomorphous it all is. In this Third Degree, as we know by the revelations of Christian Science, mortal mind disappears.”
“No, not until the teaching and preparation for the Third Degree are completed.”
“It is not until then that one is enabled to take hold of Christian Science effectively, and with the right sense of sympathy and kinship, as I understand you. That is to say, it could not succeed during the processes of the Second Degree, because there would still be remains of mind left; and therefore–but I interrupted you. You were about to further explain the good results proceeding from the erosions and disintegrations effected by the Third Degree. It is very interesting; go on, please.”
“Yes, as I was saying, in this Third Degree mortal mind disappears. Science so reverses the evidence before the corporeal human senses as to make this scriptural testimony true in our hearts, ‘the last shall be first and the first shall be last,’ that God and His idea may be to us– what divinity really is, and must of necessity be all-inclusive.”
“It is beautiful. And with what exhaustive exactness your choice and arrangement of words confirm and establish what you have claimed for the powers and functions of the Third Degree. The Second could probably produce only temporary absence of mind; it is reserved to the Third to make it permanent. A sentence framed under the auspices of the Second could have a kind of meaning–a sort of deceptive semblance of it– whereas it is only under the magic of the Third that that defect would disappear. Also, without doubt, it is the Third Degree that contributes another remarkable specialty to Christian Science–viz., ease and flow and lavishness of words, and rhythm and swing and smoothness. There must be a special reason for this?”
“Yes–God–all, all–God, good God, non-Matter, Matteration, Spirit, Bones, Truth.”
“That explains it.”
“There is nothing in Christian Science that is not explicable; for God is one, Time is one, Individuality is one, and may be one of a series, one of many, as an individual man, individual horse; whereas God is one, not one of a series, but one alone and without an equal.”
“These are noble thoughts. They make one burn to know more. How does Christian Science explain the spiritual relation of systematic duality to incidental deflection?”
“Christian Science reverses the seeming relation of Soul and body–as astronomy reverses the human perception of the movement of the solar system–and makes body tributary to the Mind. As it is the earth which is in motion, While the sun is at rest, though in viewing the sun rise one finds it impossible to believe the sun not to be really rising, so the body is but the humble servant of the restful Mind, though it seems otherwise to finite sense; but we shall never understand this while we admit that soul is in body, or mind in matter, and that man is included in non-intelligence. Soul is God, unchangeable and eternal; and man coexists with and reflects Soul, for the All-in-all is the Altogether, and the Altogether embraces the All-one, Soul-Mind, Mind-Soul, Love, Spirit, Bones, Liver, one of a series, alone and without an equal.”
“What is the origin of Christian Science? Is it a gift of God, or did it just happen?”
“In a sense, it is a gift of God. That is to say, its powers are from Him, but the credit of the discovery of the powers and what they are for is due to an American lady.”
“Indeed? When did this occur?”
“In 1866. That is the immortal date when pain and disease and death disappeared from the earth to return no more forever. That is, the fancies for which those terms stand disappeared. The things themselves had never existed; therefore, as soon as it was perceived that there were no such things, they were easily banished. The history and nature of the great discovery are set down in the book here, and–“
“Did the lady write the book?”
“Yes, she wrote it all, herself. The title is Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures–for she explains the Scriptures; they were not understood before. Not even by the twelve Disciples. She begins thus– I will read it to you.”
But she had forgotten to bring her glasses.
“Well, it is no matter,” she said. “I remember the words–indeed, all Christian Scientists know the book by heart; it is necessary in our practice. We should otherwise make mistakes and do harm. She begins thus: ‘In the year 1866 I discovered the Science of Metaphysical Healing, and named it Christian Science.’ And She says quite beautifully, I think–‘Through Christian Science, religion and medicine are inspired with a diviner nature and essence, fresh pinions are given to faith and understanding, and thoughts acquaint themselves intelligently with God.’ Her very words.”
“It is elegant. And it is a fine thought, too–marrying religion to medicine, instead of medicine to the undertaker in the old way; for religion and medicine properly belong together, they being the basis of all spiritual and physical health. What kind of medicine do you give for the ordinary diseases, such as–“
“We never give medicine in any circumstances whatever! We–“
“But, madam, it says–“
“I don’t care what it says, and I don’t wish to talk about it.”
“I am sorry if I have offended, but you see the mention seemed in some way inconsistent, and–“
“There are no inconsistencies in Christian Science. The thing is impossible, for the Science is absolute. It cannot be otherwise, since it proceeds directly from the All-in-all and the Everything-in-Which, also Soul, Bones, Truth, one of a series, alone and without equal. It is Mathematics purified from material dross and made spiritual.”
“I can see that, but–“
“It rests upon the immovable basis of an Apodictical Principle.”
The word flattened itself against my mind in trying to get in, and disordered me a little, and before I could inquire into its pertinency, she was already throwing the needed light:
“This Apodictical Principle is the absolute Principle of Scientific Mind- healing, the sovereign Omnipotence which delivers the children of men from pain, disease, decay, and every ill that flesh is heir to.”
“Surely not every ill, every decay?”
“Every one; there are no exceptions; there is no such thing as decay–it is an unreality, it has no existence.”
“But without your glasses your failing eyesight does not permit you to–“
“My eyesight cannot fail; nothing can fail; the Mind is master, and the Mind permits no retrogression.”
She was under the inspiration of the Third Degree, therefore there could be no profit in continuing this part of the subject. I shifted to other ground and inquired further concerning the Discoverer of the Science.
“Did the discovery come suddenly, like Klondike, or after long study and calculation, like America?”
“The comparisons are not respectful, since they refer to trivialities– but let it pass. I will answer in the Discoverer’s own words: ‘God had been graciously fitting me, during many years, for the reception of a final revelation of the absolute Principle of Scientific Mind-healing.”
“Many years. How many?”
“All–God, God–good, good–God, Truth, Bones, Liver, one of a series, alone and without equal–it is amazing!”
“You may well say it, sir. Yet it is but the truth This American lady, our revered and sacred Founder, is distinctly referred to, and her coming prophesied, in the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse; she could not have been more plainly indicated by St. John without actually mentioning her name.”
“How strange, how wonderful!”
“I will quote her own words, from her Key to the Scriptures: ‘The twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse has a special suggestiveness in connection with this nineteenth century.’ There–do you note that? Think–note it well.”
“But–what does it mean?”
“Listen, and you will know. I quote her inspired words again: ‘In the opening of the Sixth Seal, typical of six thousand years since Adam, there is one distinctive feature which has special reference to the present age. Thus:
“‘Revelation xii. I. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven–a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.’
“That is our Head, our Chief, our Discoverer of Christian Science– nothing can be plainer, nothing surer. And note this:
“‘Revelation xii. 6. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God.’
“That is Boston. I recognize it, madam. These are sublime things, and impressive; I never understood these passages before; please go on with the–with the–proofs.”
“Very well. Listen:
“‘And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. And he held in his hand a little book.’
“A little book, merely a little book–could words be modester? Yet how stupendous its importance! Do you know what book that was?”
“I hold it in my hand–Christian Science!”
“Love, Livers, Lights, Bones, Truth, Kidneys, one of a series, alone and without equal–it is beyond imagination for wonder!”
“Hear our Founder’s eloquent words: ‘Then will a voice from harmony cry, “Go and take the little book: take it and eat it up, and it shall make thy belly bitter; but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.” Mortal, obey the heavenly evangel. Take up Divine Science. Read it from beginning to end. Study it, ponder it. It will be, indeed, sweet at its first taste, when it heals you; but murmur not over Truth, if you find its digestion bitter.’ You now know the history of our dear and holy Science, sir, and that its origin is not of this earth, but only its discovery. I will leave the book with you and will go, now; but give yourself no uneasiness–I will give you absent treatment from now till I go to bed.”
Under the powerful influence of the near treatment and the absent treatment together, my bones were gradually retreating inward and disappearing from view. The good work took a brisk start, now, and went on swiftly. My body was diligently straining and stretching, this way and that, to accommodate the processes of restoration, and every minute or two I heard a dull click inside and knew that the two ends of a fracture had been successfully joined. This muffled clicking and gritting and grinding and rasping continued during the next three hours, and then stopped–the connections had all been made. All except dislocations; there were only seven of these: hips, shoulders, knees, neck; so that was soon over; one after another they slipped into their sockets with a sound like pulling a distant cork, and I jumped up as good as new, as to framework, and sent for the horse-doctor.
I was obliged to do this because I had a stomach-ache and a cold in the head, and I was not willing to trust these things any longer in the hands of a woman whom I did not know, and whose ability to successfully treat mere disease I had lost all confidence. My position was justified by the fact that the cold and the ache had been in her charge from the first, along with the fractures, but had experienced not a shade of relief; and, indeed, the ache was even growing worse and worse, and more and more bitter, now, probably on account of the protracted abstention from food and drink.
The horse-doctor came, a pleasant man and full of hope and professional interest in the case. In the matter of smell he was pretty aromatic–in fact, quite horsy–and I tried to arrange with him for absent treatment, but it was not in his line, so, out of delicacy, I did not press it. He looked at my teeth and examined my hock, and said my age and general condition were favorable to energetic measures; therefore he would give me something to turn the stomach-ache into the botts and the cold in the head into the blind staggers; then he should be on his own beat and would know what to do. He made up a bucket of bran-mash, and said a dipperful of it every two hours, alternated with a drench with turpentine and axle- grease in it, would either knock my ailments out of me in twenty-four hours, or so interest me in other ways as to make me forget they were on the premises. He administered my first dose himself, then took his leave, saying I was free to eat and drink anything I pleased and in any quantity I liked. But I was not hungry any more, and did not care for food.
I took up the Christian Science book and read half of it, then took a dipperful of drench and read the other half. The resulting experiences were full of interest and adventure. All through the rumblings and grindings and quakings and effervescings accompanying the evolution of the ache into the botts and the cold into the blind staggers I could note the generous struggle for mastery going on between the mash and the drench and the literature; and often I could tell which was ahead, and could easily distinguish the literature from the others when the others were separate, though not when they were mixed; for when a bran-mash and an eclectic drench are mixed together they look just like the Apodictical Principle out on a lark, and no one can tell it from that. The finish was reached at last, the evolutions were complete, and a fine success, but I think that this result could have been achieved with fewer materials. I believe the mash was necessary to the conversion of the stomach-ache into the botts, but I think one could develop the blind staggers out of the literature by itself; also, that blind staggers produced in this way would be of a better quality and more lasting than any produced by the artificial processes of the horse-doctor.
For of all the strange and frantic and incomprehensible and uninterpretable books which the imagination of man has created, surely this one is the prize sample. It is written with a limitless confidence and complacency, and with a dash and stir and earnestness which often compel the effects of eloquence, even when the words do not seem to have any traceable meaning. There are plenty of people who imagine they understand the book; I know this, for I have talked with them; but in all cases they were people who also imagined that there were no such things as pain, sickness, and death, and no realities in the world; nothing actually existent but Mind. It seems to me to modify the value of their testimony. When these people talk about Christian Science they do as Mrs. Fuller did: they do not use their own language, but the book’s; they pour out the book’s showy incoherences, and leave you to find out later that they were not originating, but merely quoting; they seem to know the volume by heart, and to revere it as they would a Bible–another Bible, perhaps I ought to say. Plainly the book was written under the mental desolations of the Third Degree, and I feel sure that none but the membership of that Degree can discover meanings in it. When you read it you seem to be listening to a lively and aggressive and oracular speech delivered in an unknown tongue, a speech whose spirit you get but not the particulars; or, to change the figure, you seem to be listening to a vigorous instrument which is making a noise which it thinks is a tune, but which, to persons not members of the band, is only the martial tooting of a trombone, and merrily stirs the soul through the noise, but does not convey a meaning.
The book’s serenities of self-satisfaction do almost seem to smack of a heavenly origin–they have no blood-kin in the earth. It is more than human to be so placidly certain about things, and so finely superior, and so airily content with one’s performance. Without ever presenting anything which may rightfully be called by the strong name of Evidence, and sometimes without even mentioning a reason for a deduction at all, it thunders out the startling words, “I have Proved” so and so. It takes the Pope and all the great guns of his Church in battery assembled to authoritatively settle and establish the meaning of a sole and single unclarified passage of Scripture, and this at vast cost of time and study and reflection, but the author of this work is superior to all that: she finds the whole Bible in an unclarified audition, and at small expense of time and no expense of mental effort she clarifies it from lid to lid, reorganizes and improves the meanings, then authoritatively settles and establishes them with formulas which you cannot tell from “Let there be light!” and “Here you have it!” It is the first time since the dawn-days of Creation that a Voice has gone crashing through space with such placid and complacent confidence and command.
[January, 1903. The first reading of any book whose terminology is new and strange is nearly sure to leave the reader in a bewildered and sarcastic state of mind. But now that, during the past two months, I have, by diligence gained a fair acquaintanceship with Science and Health technicalities, I no longer find the bulk of that work hard to understand.–M. T.]
P.S. The wisdom harvested from the foregoing thoughts has already done me a service and saved me a sorrow. Nearly a month ago there came to me from one of the universities a tract by Dr. Edward Anthony Spitzka on the “Encephalic Anatomy of the Races.” I judged that my opinion was desired by the university, and I was greatly pleased with this attention and wrote and said I would furnish it as soon as I could. That night I put my plodding and disheartening Christian Science mining aside and took hold of the matter. I wrote an eager chapter, and was expecting to finish my opinion the next day, but was called away for a week, and my mind was soon charged with other interests. It was not until to-day, after the lapse of nearly a month, that I happened upon my Encephalic chapter again. Meantime, the new wisdom had come to me, and I read it with shame. I recognized that I had entered upon that work in far from the right temper–far from the respectful and judicial spirit which was its due of reverence. I had begun upon it with the following paragraph for fuel:
“FISSURES OF THE PARIETAL AND OCCIPITAL LOBES (LATERAL SURFACE).–The Postcentral Fissural Complex–In this hemicerebrum, the postcentral and subcentral are combined to form a continuous fissure, attaining a length of 8.5 cm. Dorsally, the fissure bifurcates, embracing the gyre indented by the caudal limb of the paracentral. The caudal limb of the postcentral is joined by a transparietal piece. In all, five additional rami spring from the combined fissure. A vadum separates it from the parietal; another from the central.”
It humiliates me, now, to see how angry I got over that; and how scornful. I said that the style was disgraceful; that it was labored and tumultuous, and in places violent, that the treatment was involved and erratic, and almost, as a rule, bewildering; that to lack of simplicity was added a lack of vocabulary; that there was quite too much feeling shown; that if I had a dog that would get so excited and incoherent over a tranquil subject like Encephalic Anatomy I would not pay his tax; and at that point I got excited myself and spoke bitterly of these mongrel insanities, and said a person might as well try to understand Science and Health.
[I know, now, where the trouble was, and am glad of the interruption that saved me from sending my verdict to the university. It makes me cold to think what those people might have thought of me.–M. T.]
No one doubts–certainly not I–that the mind exercises a powerful influence over the body. From the beginning of time, the sorcerer, the interpreter of dreams, the fortune-teller, the charlatan, the quack, the wild medicine-man, the educated physician, the mesmerist, and the hypnotist have made use of the client’s imagination to help them in their work. They have all recognized the potency and availability of that force. Physicians cure many patients with a bread pill; they know that where the disease is only a fancy, the patient’s confidence in the doctor will make the bread pill effective.
Faith in the doctor. Perhaps that is the entire thing. It seems to look like it. In old times the King cured the king’s evil by the touch of the royal hand. He frequently made extraordinary cures. Could his footman have done it? No–not in his own clothes. Disguised as the King, could he have done it? I think we may not doubt it. I think we may feel sure that it was not the King’s touch that made the cure in any instance, but the patient’s faith in the efficacy of a King’s touch. Genuine and remarkable cures have been achieved through contact with the relics of a saint. Is it not likely that any other bones would have done as well if the substitution had been concealed from the patient? When I was a boy a farmer’s wife who lived five miles from our village had great fame as a faith-doctor–that was what she called herself. Sufferers came to her from all around, and she laid her hand upon them and said, “Have faith– it is all that is necessary,” and they went away well of their ailments. She was not a religious woman, and pretended to no occult powers. She said that the patient’s faith in her did the work. Several times I saw her make immediate cures of severe toothaches. My mother was the patient. In Austria there is a peasant who drives a great trade in this sort of industry, and has both the high and the low for patients. He gets into prison every now and then for practising without a diploma, but his business is as brisk as ever when he gets out, for his work is unquestionably successful and keeps his reputation high. In Bavaria there is a man who performed so many great cures that he had to retire from his profession of stage-carpentering in order to meet the demand of his constantly increasing body of customers. He goes on from year to year doing his miracles, and has become very rich. He pretends to no religious helps, no supernatural aids, but thinks there is something in his make-up which inspires the confidence of his patients, and that it is this confidence which does the work, and not some mysterious power issuing from himself.
Within the last quarter of a century, in America, several sects of curers have appeared under various names and have done notable things in the way of healing ailments without the use of medicines. There are the Mind Cure the Faith Cure, the Prayer Cure, the Mental Science Cure, and the Christian-Science Cure; and apparently they all do their miracles with the same old, powerful instrument–the patient’s imagination. Differing names, but no difference in the process. But they do not give that instrument the credit; each sect claims that its way differs from the ways of the others.
They all achieve some cures, there is no question about it; and the Faith Cure and the Prayer Cure probably do no harm when they do no good, since they do not forbid the patient to help out the cure with medicines if he wants to; but the others bar medicines, and claim ability to cure every conceivable human ailment through the application of their mental forces alone. There would seem to be an element of danger here. It has the look of claiming too much, I think. Public confidence would probably be increased if less were claimed.
The Christian Scientist was not able to cure my stomach-ache and my cold; but the horse-doctor did it. This convinces me that Christian Science claims too much. In my opinion it ought to let diseases alone and confine itself to surgery. There it would have everything its own way.
The horse-doctor charged me thirty kreutzers, and I paid him; in fact, I doubled it and gave him a shilling. Mrs. Fuller brought in an itemized bill for a crate of broken bones mended in two hundred and thirty-four places–one dollar per fracture.
“Nothing exists but Mind?”
“Nothing,” she answered. “All else is substanceless, all else is imaginary.”
I gave her an imaginary check, and now she is suing me for substantial dollars. It looks inconsistent.
Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other; it will unriddle many riddles; it will make clear and simple many things which are involved in haunting and harassing difficulties and obscurities now.
Those of us who are not in the asylum, and not demonstrably due there, are nevertheless, no doubt, insane in one or two particulars. I think we must admit this; but I think that we are otherwise healthy-minded. I think that when we all see one thing alike, it is evidence that, as regards that one thing, our minds are perfectly sound. Now there are really several things which we do all see alike; things which we all accept, and about which we do not dispute. For instance, we who are outside of the asylum all agree that water seeks its level; that the sun gives light and heat; that fire consumes; that fog is damp; that six times six are thirty-six, that two from ten leaves eight; that eight and seven are fifteen. These are, perhaps, the only things we are agreed about; but, although they are so few, they are of inestimable value, because they make an infallible standard of sanity. Whosoever accepts them him we know to be substantially sane; sufficiently sane; in the working essentials, sane. Whoever disputes a single one of them him we know to be wholly insane, and qualified for the asylum.
Very well, the man who disputes none of them we concede to be entitled to go at large. But that is concession enough. We cannot go any further than that; for we know that in all matters of mere opinion that same man is insane–just as insane as we are; just as insane as Shakespeare was. We know exactly where to put our finger upon his insanity: it is where his opinion differs from ours.
That is a simple rule, and easy to remember. When I, a thoughtful and unblessed Presbyterian, examine the Koran, I know that beyond any question every Mohammedan is insane; not in all things, but in religious matters. When a thoughtful and unblessed Mohammedan examines the Westminster Catechism, he knows that beyond any question I am spiritually insane. I cannot prove to him that he is insane, because you never can prove anything to a lunatic–for that is a part of his insanity and the evidence of it. He cannot prove to me that I am insane, for my mind has the same defect that afflicts his. All Democrats are insane, but not one of them knows it; none but the Republicans and Mugwumps know it. All the Republicans are insane, but only the Democrats and Mugwumps can perceive it. The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane. When I look around me, I am often troubled to see how many people are mad. To mention only a few:
The Atheist, The Theosophists, The Infidel, The Swedenborgians, The Agnostic, The Shakers, The Baptist, The Millerites, The Methodist, The Mormons, The Christian Scientist, The Laurence Oliphant Harrisites, The Catholic, and the 115 Christian sects, the Presbyterian excepted, The Grand Lama’s people, The Monarchists, The Imperialists, The 72 Mohammedan sects, The Democrats, The Republicans (but not the Mugwumps), The Buddhist, The Blavatsky-Buddhist, The Mind-Curists, The Faith-Curists, The Nationalist, The Mental Scientists, The Confucian, The Spiritualist, The Allopaths, The 2000 East Indian sects, The Homeopaths, The Electropaths, The Peculiar People, The—-
But there’s no end to the list; there are millions of them! And all insane; each in his own way; insane as to his pet fad or opinion, but otherwise sane and rational. This should move us to be charitable towards one another’s lunacies. I recognize that in his special belief the Christian Scientist is insane, because he does not believe as I do; but I hail him as my mate and fellow, because I am as insane as he insane from his point of view, and his point of view is as authoritative as mine and worth as much. That is to say, worth a brass farthing. Upon a great religious or political question, the opinion of the dullest head in the world is worth the same as the opinion of the brightest head in the world–a brass farthing. How do we arrive at this? It is simple. The affirmative opinion of a stupid man is neutralized by the negative opinion of his stupid neighbor no decision is reached; the affirmative opinion of the intellectual giant Gladstone is neutralized by the negative opinion of the intellectual giant Newman–no decision is reached. Opinions that prove nothing are, of course, without value any but a dead person knows that much. This obliges us to admit the truth of the unpalatable proposition just mentioned above–that, in disputed matters political and religious, one man’s opinion is worth no more than his peer’s, and hence it followers that no man’s opinion possesses any real value. It is a humbling thought, but there is no way to get around it: all opinions upon these great subjects are brass-farthing opinions.
It is a mere plain, simple fact–as clear and as certain as that eight and seven make fifteen. And by it we recognize that we are all insane, as concerns those matters. If we were sane, we should all see a political or religious doctrine alike; there would be no dispute: it would be a case of eight and seven–just as it is in heaven, where all are sane and none insane. There there is but one religion, one belief; the harmony is perfect; there is never a discordant note.
Under protection of these preliminaries, I suppose I may now repeat without offence that the Christian Scientist is insane. I mean him no discourtesy, and I am not charging–nor even imagining–that he is insaner than the rest of the human race. I think he is more picturesquely insane than some of us. At the same time, I am quite sure that in one important and splendid particular he is much saner than is the vast bulk of the race.
Why is he insane? I told you before: it is because his opinions are not ours. I know of no other reason, and I do not need any other; it is the only way we have of discovering insanity when it is not violent. It is merely the picturesqueness of his insanity that makes it more interesting than my kind or yours. For instance, consider his “little book”; the “little book” exposed in the sky eighteen centuries ago by the flaming angel of the Apocalypse, and handed down in our day to Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy, of New Hampshire, and translated by her, word for word, into English (with help of a polisher), and now published and distributed in hundreds of editions by her at a clear profit per volume, above cost, of seven hundred per cent.!–a profit which distinctly belongs to the angel of the Apocalypse, and let him collect it if he can; a “little book” which the C.S. very frequently calls by just that name, and always enclosed in quotation-marks to keep its high origin exultantly in mind; a “little book” which “explains” and reconstructs and new-paints and decorates the Bible, and puts a mansard roof on it and a lightning-rod and all the other modern improvements; a “little book” which for the present affects to travel in yoke with the Bible and be friendly to it, and within half a century will hitch the Bible in the rear and thenceforth travel tandem, itself in the lead, in the coming great march of Christian Scientism through the Protestant dominions of the planet.
“Hungry ones throng to hear the Bible read in connection with the text- book of Christian Science, Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker G. Eddy. These are our only preachers. They are the word of God.” “Christian Science Journal”, October, 1898.
Is that picturesque? A lady has told me that in a chapel of the Mosque in Boston there is a picture or image of Mrs. Eddy, and that before it burns a never-extinguished light. Is that picturesque? How long do you think it will be before the Christian Scientist will be worshipping that picture or image and praying to it? How long do you think it will be before it is claimed that Mrs. Eddy is a Redeemer, a Christ, and Christ’s equal? Already her army of disciples speak of her reverently as “Our Mother.”
How long will it be before they place her on the steps of the Throne beside the Virgin–and, later, a step higher? First, Mary the Virgin and Mary the Matron; later, with a change of precedence, Mary the Matron and Mary the Virgin. Let the artist get ready with his canvas and his brushes; the new Renaissance is on its way, and there will be money in altar-canvases–a thousand times as much as the Popes and their Church ever spent on the Old Masters; for their riches were poverty as compared with what is going to pour into the treasure-chest of the Christian- Scientist Papacy by-and-by, let us not doubt it. We will examine the financial outlook presently and see what it promises. A favorite subject of the new Old Master will be the first verse of the twelfth chapter of Revelation–a verse which Mrs. Eddy says (in her Annex to the Scriptures) has “one distinctive feature which has special reference to the present age”–and to her, as is rather pointedly indicated:
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet,” etc.
The woman clothed with the sun will be a portrait of Mrs. Eddy.
Is it insanity to believe that Christian Scientism is destined to make the most formidable show that any new religion has made in the world since the birth and spread of Mobammedanism, and that within a century from now it may stand second to Rome only, in numbers and power in Christendom?
If this is a wild dream it will not be easy to prove it so just yet, I think. There seems argument that it may come true. The Christian- Science “boom,” proper, is not yet five years old; yet already it has two hundred and fifty churches.
It has its start, you see, and it is a phenomenally good one. Moreover, it is latterly spreading with a constantly accelerating swiftness. It has a better chance to grow and prosper and achieve permanency than any other existing “ism”; for it has more to offer than any other. The past teaches us that in order to succeed, a movement like this must not be a mere philosophy, it must be a religion; also, that it must not claim entire originality, but content itself with passing for an improvement on an existing religion, and show its hand later, when strong and prosperous–like Mohammedanism.
Next, there must be money–and plenty of it.
Next, the power and authority and capital must be concentrated in the grip of a small and irresponsible clique, with nobody outside privileged to ask questions or find fault.
Next, as before remarked, it must bait its hook with some new and attractive advantages over the baits offered by its competitors. A new movement equipped with some of these endowments–like spiritualism, for instance may count upon a considerable success; a new movement equipped with the bulk of them–like Mohammedanism, for instance–may count upon a widely extended conquest. Mormonism had all the requisites but one it had nothing new and nothing valuable to bait with. Spiritualism lacked the important detail of concentration of money and authority in the hands of an irresponsible clique.
The above equipment is excellent, admirable, powerful, but not perfect. There is yet another detail which is worth the whole of it put together and more; a detail which has never been joined (in the beginning of a religious movement) to a supremely good working equipment since the world began, until now: a new personage to worship. Christianity had the Saviour, but at first and for generations it lacked money and concentrated power. In Mrs. Eddy, Christian Science possesses the new personage for worship, and in addition–here in the very beginning–a working equipment that has not a flaw in it. In the beginning, Mohammedanism had no money; and it has never had anything to offer its client but heaven–nothing here below that was valuable. In addition to heaven hereafter, Christian Science has present health and a cheerful spirit to offer; and in comparison with this bribe all other this-world bribes are poor and cheap. You recognize that this estimate is admissible, do you not?
To whom does Bellamy’s “Nationalism” appeal? Necessarily to the few: people who read and dream, and are compassionate, and troubled for the poor and the hard-driven. To whom does Spiritualism appeal? Necessarily to the few; its “boom” has lasted for half a century, and I believe it claims short of four millions of adherents in America. Who are attracted by Swedenborgianism and some of the other fine and delicate “isms”? The few again: educated people, sensitively organized, with superior mental endowments, who seek lofty planes of thought and find their contentment there. And who are attracted by Christian Science? There is no limit; its field is horizonless; its appeal is as universal as is the appeal of Christianity itself. It appeals to the rich, the poor, the high, the low, the cultured, the ignorant, the gifted, the stupid, the modest, the vain, the wise, the silly, the soldier, the civilian, the hero, the coward, the idler, the worker, the godly, the godless, the freeman, the slave, the adult, the child; they who are ailing in body or mind, they who have friends that are ailing in body or mind. To mass it in a phrase, its clientage is the Human Race. Will it march? I think so.
Remember its principal great offer: to rid the Race of pain and disease. Can it do so? In large measure, yes. How much of the pain and disease in the world is created by the imaginations of the sufferers, and then kept alive by those same imaginations? Four-fifths? Not anything short of that, I should think. Can Christian Science banish that four-fifths? I think so. Can any other (organized) force do it? None that I know of. Would this be a new world when that was accomplished? And a pleasanter one–for us well people, as well as for those fussy and fretting sick ones? Would it seem as if there was not as much gloomy weather as there used to be? I think so.
In the mean time, would the Scientist kill off a good many patients? I think so. More than get killed off now by the legalized methods? I will take up that question presently.
At present, I wish to ask you to examine some of the Scientist’s performances, as registered in his magazine, The Christian Science Journal–October number, 1898. First, a Baptist clergyman gives us this true picture of “the average orthodox Christian”–and he could have added that it is a true picture of the average (civilized) human being:
“He is a worried and fretted and fearful man; afraid of himself and his propensities, afraid of colds and fevers, afraid of treading on serpents or drinking deadly things.”
Then he gives us this contrast:
“The average Christian Scientist has put all anxiety and fretting under his feet. He does have a victory over fear and care that is not achieved by the average orthodox Christian.”
He has put all anxiety and fretting under his feet. What proportion of your earnings or income would you be willing to pay for that frame of mind, year in, year out? It really outvalues any price that can be put upon it. Where can you purchase it, at any outlay of any sort, in any Church or out of it, except the Scientist’s?
Well, it is the anxiety and fretting about colds, and fevers, and draughts, and getting our feet wet, and about forbidden food eaten in terror of indigestion, that brings on the cold and the fever and the indigestion and the most of our other ailments; and so, if the Science can banish that anxiety from the world I think it can reduce the world’s disease and pain about four-fifths.
In this October number many of the redeemed testify and give thanks; and not coldly, but with passionate gratitude. As a rule they seem drunk with health, and with the surprise of it, the wonder of it, the unspeakable glory and splendor of it, after a long, sober spell spent in inventing imaginary diseases and concreting them with doctor-stuff. The first witness testifies that when “this most beautiful Truth first dawned on him” he had “nearly all the ills that flesh is heir to”; that those he did not have he thought he had–and this made the tale about complete. What was the natural result? Why, he was a dump-pit “for all the doctors, druggists, and patent medicines of the country.” Christian Science came to his help, and “the old sick conditions passed away,” and along with them the “dismal forebodings” which he had been accustomed to employ in conjuring up ailments. And so he was a healthy and cheerful man, now, and astonished.
But I am not astonished, for from other sources I know what must have been his method of applying Christian Science. If I am in the right, he watchfully and diligently diverted his mind from unhealthy channels and compelled it to travel in healthy ones. Nothing contrivable by human invention could be more formidably effective than that, in banishing imaginary ailments and in closing the entrances against sub-sequent applicants of their breed. I think his method was to keep saying, “I am well! I am sound!–sound and well! well and sound! Perfectly sound, perfectly well! I have no pain; there’s no such thing as pain! I have no disease; there’s no such thing as disease! Nothing is real but Mind; all is Mind, All-Good Good-Good, Life, Soul, Liver, Bones, one of a series, ante and pass the buck!”
I do not mean that that was exactly the formula used, but that it doubtless contains the spirit of it. The Scientist would attach value to the exact formula, no doubt, and to the religious spirit in which it was used. I should think that any formula that would divert the mind from unwholesome channels and force it into healthy ones would answer every purpose with some people, though not with all. I think it most likely that a very religious man would find the addition of the religious spirit a powerful reinforcement in his case.
The second witness testifies that the Science banished “an old organic trouble,” which the doctor and the surgeon had been nursing with drugs and the knife for seven years.
He calls it his “claim.” A surface-miner would think it was not his claim at all, but the property of the doctor and his pal the surgeon–for he would be misled by that word, which is Christian-Science slang for “ailment.” The Christian Scientist has no ailment; to him there is no such thing, and he will not use the hateful word. All that happens to him is that upon his attention an imaginary disturbance sometimes obtrudes itself which claims to be an ailment but isn’t.
This witness offers testimony for a clergyman seventy years old who had preached forty years in a Christian church, and has now gone over to the new sect. He was “almost blind and deaf.” He was treated by the C. S. method, and “when he heard the voice of Truth he saw spiritually.” Saw spiritually? It is a little indefinite; they had better treat him again. Indefinite testimonies might properly be waste-basketed, since there is evidently no lack of definite ones procurable; but this C. S. magazine is poorly edited, and so mistakes of this kind must be expected.
The next witness is a soldier of the Civil War. When Christian Science found him, he had in stock the following claims:
Chalky deposits in
Atrophy of the muscles of
Stiffness of all those joints,
Excruciating pains most of the time.
These claims have a very substantial sound. They came of exposure in the campaigns. The doctors did all they could, but it was little. Prayers were tried, but “I never realized any physical relief from that source.” After thirty years of torture, he went to a Christian Scientist and took an hour’s treatment and went home painless. Two days later, he “began to eat like a well man.” Then “the claims vanished–some at once, others more gradually”; finally, “they have almost entirely disappeared.” And– a thing which is of still greater value–he is now “contented and happy.” That is a detail which, as earlier remarked, is a Scientist-Church specialty. And, indeed, one may go further and assert with little or no exaggeration that it is a Christian-Science monopoly. With thirty-one years’ effort, the Methodist Church had not succeeded in furnishing it to this harassed soldier.
And so the tale goes on. Witness after witness bulletins his claims, declares their prompt abolishment, and gives Mrs. Eddy’s Discovery the praise. Milk-leg is cured; nervous prostration is cured; consumption is cured; and St. Vitus’s dance is made a pastime. Even without a fiddle. And now and then an interesting new addition to the Science slang appears on the page. We have “demonstrations over chilblains” and such things. It seems to be a curtailed way of saying “demonstrations of the power of Christian-Science Truth over the fiction which masquerades under the name of Chilblains.” The children, as well as the adults, share in the blessings of the Science. “Through the study of the ‘little book’ they are learning how to be healthful, peaceful, and wise.” Sometimes they are cured of their little claims by the professional healer, and sometimes more advanced children say over the formula and cure themselves.
A little Far-Western girl of nine, equipped with an adult vocabulary, states her age and says, “I thought I would write a demonstration to you.” She had a claim, derived from getting flung over a pony’s head and landed on a rockpile. She saved herself from disaster by remembering to say “God is All” while she was in the air. I couldn’t have done it. I shouldn’t even have thought of it. I should have been too excited. Nothing but Christian Science could have enabled that child to do that calm and thoughtful and judicious thing in those circumstances. She came down on her head, and by all the rules she should have broken it; but the intervention of the formula prevented that, so the only claim resulting was a blackened eye. Monday morning it was still swollen and shut. At school “it hurt pretty badly–that is, it seemed to.” So “I was excused, and went down to the basement and said, ‘Now I am depending on mamma instead of God, and I will depend on God instead of mamma.'” No doubt this would have answered; but, to make sure, she added Mrs. Eddy to the team and recited “the Scientific Statement of Being,” which is one of the principal incantations, I judge. Then “I felt my eye opening.” Why, dear, it would have opened an oyster. I think it is one of the touchingest things in child-history, that pious little rat down cellar pumping away at the Scientific Statement of Being.
There is a page about another good child–little Gordon. Little Gordon “came into the world without the assistance of surgery or anaesthetics.” He was a “demonstration.” A painless one; therefore, his coming evoked “joy and thankfulness to God and the Discoverer of Christian Science.” It is a noticeable feature of this literature–the so frequent linking together of the Two Beings in an equal bond; also of Their Two Bibles. When little Gordon was two years old, “he was playing horse on the bed, where I had left my ‘little book.’ I noticed him stop in his play, take the book carefully in his little hands, kiss it softly, then look about for the highest place of safety his arms could reach, and put it there.” This pious act filled the mother “with such a train of thought as I had never experienced before. I thought of the sweet mother of long ago who kept things in her heart,” etc. It is a bold comparison; however, unconscious profanations are about as common in the mouths of the lay member ship of the new Church as are frank and open ones in the mouths of its consecrated chiefs.
Some days later, the family library–Christian-Science books–was lying in a deep-seated window. This was another chance for the holy child to show off. He left his play and went there and pushed all the books to one side, except the Annex “It he took in both hands, slowly raised it to his lips, then removed it carefully, and seated himself in the window.” It had seemed to the mother too wonderful to be true, that first time; but now she was convinced that “neither imagination nor accident had anything to do with it.” Later, little Gordon let the author of his being see him do it. After that he did it frequently; probably every time anybody was looking. I would rather have that child than a chromo. If this tale has any object, it is to intimate that the inspired book was supernaturally able to convey a sense of its sacred and awful character to this innocent little creature, without the intervention of outside aids. The magazine is not edited with high-priced discretion. The editor has a “claim,” and he ought to get it treated.
Among other witnesses there is one who had a “jumping toothache,” which several times tempted her to “believe that there was sensation in matter, but each time it was overcome by the power of Truth.” She would not allow the dentist to use cocaine, but sat there and let him punch and drill and split and crush the tooth, and tear and slash its ulcerations, and pull out the nerve, and dig out fragments of bone; and she wouldn’t once confess that it hurt. And to this day she thinks it didn’t, and I have not a doubt that she is nine-tenths right, and that her Christian- Science faith did her better service than she could have gotten out of cocaine.
There is an account of a boy who got broken all up into small bits by an accident, but said over the Scientific Statement of Being, or some of the other incantations, and got well and sound without having suffered any real pain and without the intrusion of a surgeon.
Also, there is an account of the restoration to perfect health, in a single night, of a fatally injured horse, by the application of Christian Science. I can stand a good deal, but I recognize that the ice is getting thin, here. That horse had as many as fifty claims; how could he demonstrate over them? Could he do the All-Good, Good-Good, Good- Gracious, Liver, Bones, Truth, All down but Nine, Set them up on the Other Alley? Could he intone the Scientific Statement of Being? Now, could he? Wouldn’t it give him a relapse? Let us draw the line at horses. Horses and furniture.
There is plenty of other testimonies in the magazine, but these quoted samples will answer. They show the kind of trade the Science is driving. Now we come back to the question, Does the Science kill a patient here and there and now and then? We must concede it. Does it compensate for this? I am persuaded that it can make a plausible showing in that direction. For instance: when it lays its hand upon a soldier who has suffered thirty years of helpless torture and makes him whole in body and mind, what is the actual sum of that achievement? This, I think: that it has restored to life a subject who had essentially died ten deaths a year for thirty years, and each of them a long and painful one. But for its interference that man in the three years which have since elapsed, would have essentially died thirty times more. There are thousands of young people in the land who are now ready to enter upon a life-long death similar to that man’s. Every time the Science captures one of these and secures to him life-long immunity from imagination-manufactured disease, it may plausibly claim that in his person it has saved three hundred lives. Meantime, it will kill a man every now and then. But no matter, it will still be ahead on the credit side.
[NOTE.–I have received several letters (two from educated and ostensibly intelligent persons), which contained, in substance, this protest: “I don’t object to men and women chancing their lives with these people, but it is a burning shame that the law should allow them to trust their helpless little children in their deadly hands. “Isn’t it touching? Isn’t it deep? Isn’t it modest? It is as if the person said: “I know that to a parent his child is the core of his heart, the apple of his eye, a possession so dear, so precious that he will trust its life in no hands but those which he believes, with all his soul, to be the very best and the very safest, but it is a burning shame that the law does not require him to come to me to ask what kind of healer I will allow him to call.” The public is merely a multiplied “me.”–M.T.]
“We consciously declare that Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, was foretold, as well as its author, Mary Baker Eddy, in Revelation x. She is the ‘mighty angel,’ or God’s highest thought to this age (verse 1), giving us the spiritual interpretation of the Bible in the ‘little book open’ (verse 2). Thus we prove that Christian Science is the second coming of Christ-Truth-Spirit.”–Lecture by Dr. George Tomkins, D.D. C.S.
There you have it in plain speech. She is the mighty angel; she is the divinely and officially sent bearer of God’s highest thought. For the present, she brings the Second Advent. We must expect that before she has been in her grave fifty years she will be regarded by her following as having been herself the Second Advent. She is already worshiped, and we must expect this feeling to spread, territorially, and also to deepen in intensity.
Particularly after her death; for then, as any one can foresee, Eddy- Worship will be taught in the Sunday-schools and pulpits of the cult. Already whatever she puts her trade-mark on, though it be only a memorial-spoon, is holy and is eagerly and gratefully bought by the disciple, and becomes a fetish in his house. I say bought, for the Boston Christian-Science Trust gives nothing away; everything it has is for sale. And the terms are cash; and not only cash, but cash in advance. Its god is Mrs. Eddy first, then the Dollar. Not a spiritual Dollar, but a real one. From end to end of the Christian Science literature not a single (material) thing in the world is conceded to be real, except the Dollar. But all through and through its advertisements that reality is eagerly and persistently recognized.
The Dollar is hunted down in all sorts of ways; the Christian-Science Mother-Church and Bargain-Counter in Boston peddles all kinds of spiritual wares to the faithful, and always on the one condition–cash, cash in advance. The Angel of the Apocalypse could not go there and get a copy of his own pirated book on credit. Many, many precious Christian- Science things are to be had there for cash: Bible Lessons; Church Manual; C. S. Hymnal; History of the building of the Mother-Church; lot of Sermons; Communion Hymn, “Saw Ye My Saviour,” by Mrs. Eddy, half a dollar a copy, “words used by special permission of Mrs. Eddy.” Also we have Mrs. Eddy’s and the Angel’s little Blue-Annex in eight styles of binding at eight kinds of war-prices; among these a sweet thing in “levant, divinity circuit, leather lined to edge, round corners, gold edge, silk sewed, each, prepaid, $6,” and if you take a million you get them a shilling cheaper–that is to say, “prepaid, $5.75.” Also we have Mrs. Eddy’s Miscellaneous Writings, at ‘andsome big prices, the divinity- circuit style heading the exertions, shilling discount where you take an edition Next comes Christ and Christmas, by the fertile Mrs. Eddy–a poem–would God I could see it!–price $3, cash in advance. Then follow five more books by Mrs. Eddy, at highwayman’s rates, some of them in “leatherette covers,” some of them in “pebble cloth,” with divinity- circuit, compensation-balance, twin-screw, and the other modern improvements; and at the same bargain-counter can be had The Christian Science Journal.
Christian-Science literary discharges are a monopoly of the Mother-Church Headquarters Factory in Boston; none genuine without the trade-mark of the Trust. You must apply there and not elsewhere.
One hundred dollars for it. And I have a case among my statistics where the student had a three weeks’ course and paid three hundred for it.
The Trust does love the Dollar, when it isn’t a spiritual one.
In order to force the sale of Mrs Eddy’s Bible-Annex, no healer, Metaphysical-College-bred or other, is allowed to practice the game unless he possesses a copy of that book. That means a large and constantly augmenting income for the Trust. No C.S. family would consider itself loyal or pious or pain-proof without an Annex or two in the house. That means an income for the Trust, in the near future, of millions; not thousands-millions a year.
No member, young or old, of a branch Christian-Scientist church can acquire and retain membership in the Mother-Church unless he pay “capitation tax” (of “not less than a dollar,” say the By-Laws) to the Boston Trust every year. That means an income for the Trust, in the near future, of–let us venture to say–millions more per year.
It is a reasonably safe guess that in America in 1920 there will be ten million Christian Scientists, and three millions in Great Britain; that these figures will be trebled in 1930; that in America in 1920 the Christian Scientists will be a political force, in 1930 politically formidable, and in 1940 the governing power in the Republic–to remain that, permanently. And I think it a reasonable guess that the Trust (which is already in our day pretty brusque in its ways) will then be the most insolent and unscrupulous and tyrannical politico-religious master that has dominated a people since the palmy days of the Inquisition. And a stronger master than the strongest of bygone times, because this one will have a financial strength not dreamed of by any predecessor; as effective a concentration of irresponsible power as any predecessor has had; in the railway, the telegraph, and the subsidized newspaper, better facilities for watching and managing his empire than any predecessor has had; and, after a generation or two, he will probably divide Christendom with the Catholic Church.
The Roman Church has a perfect organization, and it has an effective centralization of power–but not of its cash. Its multitude of Bishops are rich, but their riches remain in large measure in their own hands. They collect from two hundred millions of people, but they keep the bulk of the result at home. The Boston Pope of by-and-by will draw his dollar-a-head capitation-tax from three hundred millions of the human race, and the Annex and the rest of his book-shop stock will fetch in as much more; and his Metaphysical Colleges, the annual Pilgrimage to Mrs. Eddy’s tomb, from all over the world-admission, the Christian-Science Dollar (payable in advance)–purchases of consecrated glass beads, candles, memorial spoons, aureoled chrome-portraits and bogus autographs of Mrs. Eddy; cash offerings at her shrine no crutches of cured cripples received, and no imitations of miraculously restored broken legs and necks allowed to be hung up except when made out of the Holy Metal and proved by fire-assay; cash for miracles worked at the tomb: these money- sources, with a thousand to be yet invented and ambushed upon the devotee, will bring the annual increment well up above a billion. And nobody but the Trust will have the handling of it. In that day, the Trust will monopolize the manufacture and sale of the Old and New Testaments as well as the Annex, and raise their price to Annex rates, and compel the devotee to buy (for even to-day a healer has to have the Annex and the Scriptures or he is not allowed to work the game), and that will bring several hundred million dollars more. In those days, the Trust will have an income approaching five million dollars a day, and no expenses to be taken out of it; no taxes to pay, and no charities to support. That last detail should not be lightly passed over by the reader; it is well entitled to attention.
No charities to support. No, nor even to contribute to. One searches in vain the Trust’s advertisements and the utterances of its organs for any suggestion that it spends a penny on orphans, widows, discharged prisoners, hospitals, ragged schools, night missions, city missions, libraries, old people’s homes, or any other object that appeals to a human being’s purse through his heart.
I have hunted, hunted, and hunted, by correspondence and otherwise, and have not yet got upon the track of a farthing that the Trust has spent upon any worthy object. Nothing makes a Scientist so uncomfortable as to ask him if he knows of a case where Christian Science has spent money on a benevolence, either among its own adherents or elsewhere. He is obliged to say “No” And then one discovers that the person questioned has been asked the question many times before, and that it is getting to be a sore subject with him. Why a sore subject? Because he has written his chiefs and asked with high confidence for an answer that will confound these questioners–and the chiefs did not reply. He has written again, and then again–not with confidence, but humbly, now–and has begged for defensive ammunition in the voice of supplication. A reply does at last come to this effect: “We must have faith in Our Mother, and rest content in the conviction that whatever She does with the money it is in accordance with orders from Heaven, for She does no act of any kind without first ‘demonstrating over’ it.”
That settles it–as far as the disciple is concerned. His mind is satisfied with that answer; he gets down his Annex and does an incantation or two, and that mesmerizes his spirit and puts that to sleep–brings it peace. Peace and comfort and joy, until some inquirer punctures the old sore again.
Through friends in America I asked some questions, and in some cases got definite and informing answers; in other cases the answers were not definite and not valuable. To the question, “Does any of the money go to charities?” the answer from an authoritative source was: “No, not in the sense usually conveyed by this word.” (The italics are mine.) That answer is cautious. But definite, I think–utterly and unassailably definite–although quite Christian-Scientifically foggy in its phrasing. Christian-Science testimony is generally foggy, generally diffuse, generally garrulous. The writer was aware that the first word in his phrase answered the question which I was asking, but he could not help adding nine dark words. Meaningless ones, unless explained by him. It is quite likely, as intimated by him, that Christian Science has invented a new class of objects to apply the word “charity” to, but without an explanation we cannot know what they are. We quite easily and naturally and confidently guess that they are in all cases objects which will return five hundred per cent. on the Trust’s investment in them, but guessing is not knowledge; it is merely, in this case, a sort of nine- tenths certainty deducible from what we think we know of the Trust’s trade principles and its sly and furtive and shifty ways.
Sly? Deep? Judicious? The Trust understands its business. The Trust does not give itself away. It defeats all the attempts of us impertinents to get at its trade secrets. To this day, after all our diligence, we have not been able to get it to confess what it does with the money. It does not even let its own disciples find out. All it says is, that the matter has been “demonstrated over.” Now and then a lay Scientist says, with a grateful exultation, that Mrs. Eddy is enormously rich, but he stops there; as to whether any of the money goes to other charities or not, he is obliged to admit that he does not know. However, the Trust is composed of human beings; and this justifies the conjecture that if it had a charity on its list which it was proud of, we should soon hear of it.
“Without money and without price.” Those used to be the terms. Mrs. Eddy’s Annex cancels them. The motto of Christian Science is, “The laborer is worthy of his hire.” And now that it has been “demonstrated over,” we find its spiritual meaning to be, “Do anything and everything your hand may find to do; and charge cash for it, and collect the money in advance.” The Scientist has on his tongue’s end a cut-and-dried, Boston-supplied set of rather lean arguments, whose function is to show that it is a Heaven-commanded duty to do this, and that the croupiers of the game have no choice but to obey.
The Trust seems to be a reincarnation. Exodus xxxii. 4.
I have no reverence for the Trust, but I am not lacking in reverence for the sincerities of the lay membership of the new Church. There is every evidence that the lay members are entirely sincere in their faith, and I think sincerity is always entitled to honor and respect, let the inspiration of the sincerity be what it may. Zeal and sincerity can carry a new religion further than any other missionary except fire and sword, and I believe that the new religion will conquer the half of Christendom in a hundred years. I am not intending this as a compliment to the human race; I am merely stating an opinion. And yet I think that perhaps it is a compliment to the race. I keep in mind that saying of an orthodox preacher–quoted further back. He conceded that this new Christianity frees its possessor’s life from frets, fears, vexations, bitterness, and all sorts of imagination-propagated maladies and pains, and fills his world with sunshine and his heart with gladness. If Christian Science, with this stupendous equipment–and final salvation added–cannot win half the Christian globe, I must be badly mistaken in the make-up of the human race.
I think the Trust will be handed down like Me other Papacy, and will always know how to handle its limitless cash. It will press the button; the zeal, the energy, the sincerity, the enthusiasm of its countless vassals will do the rest.
The power which a man’s imagination has over his body to heal it or make it sick is a force which none of us is born without. The first man had it, the last one will possess it. If left to himself, a man is most likely to use only the mischievous half of the force–the half which invents imaginary ailments for him and cultivates them; and if he is one of these–very wise people, he is quite likely to scoff at the beneficent half of the force and deny its existence. And so, to heal or help that man, two imaginations are required: his own and some outsider’s. The outsider, B, must imagine that his incantations are the healing-power that is curing A, and A must imagine that this is so. I think it is not so, at all; but no matter, the cure is effected, and that is the main thing. The outsider’s work is unquestionably valuable; so valuable that it may fairly be likened to the essential work performed by the engineer when he handles the throttle and turns on the steam; the actual power is lodged exclusively in the engine, but if the engine were left alone it would never start of itself. Whether the engineer be named Jim, or Bob, or Tom, it is all one–his services are necessary, and he is entitled to such wage as he can get you to pay. Whether he be named Christian Scientist, or Mental Scientist, or Mind Curist, or King’s-Evil Expert, or Hypnotist, it is all one; he is merely the Engineer; he simply turns on the same old steam and the engine does the whole work.
The Christian-Scientist engineer drives exactly the same trade as the other engineers, yet he out-prospers the whole of them put together.
Is it because he has captured the takingest name? I think that that is only a small part of it. I think that the secret of his high prosperity lies elsewhere.
The Christian Scientist has organized the business. Now that was certainly a gigantic idea. Electricity, in limitless volume, has existed in the air and the rocks and the earth and everywhere since time began– and was going to waste all the while. In our time we have organized that scattered and wandering force and set it to work, and backed the business with capital, and concentrated it in few and competent hands, and the results are as we see.
The Christian Scientist has taken a force which has been lying idle in every member of the human race since time began, and has organized it, and backed the business with capital, and concentrated it at Boston headquarters in the hands of a small and very competent Trust, and there are results.
Therein lies the promise that this monopoly is going to extend its commerce wide in the earth. I think that if the business were conducted in the loose and disconnected fashion customary with such things, it would achieve but little more than the modest prosperity usually secured by unorganized great moral and commercial ventures; but I believe that so long as this one remains compactly organized and closely concentrated in a Trust, the spread of its dominion will continue.
Four years ago I wrote the preceding chapters. I was assured by the wise that Christian Science was a fleeting craze and would soon perish. This prompt and all-competent stripe of prophet is always to be had in the market at ground-floor rates. He does not stop to load, or consider, or take aim, but lets fly just as he stands. Facts are nothing to him, he has no use for such things; he works wholly by inspiration. And so, when he is asked why he considers a new movement a passing fad and quickly perishable, he finds himself unprepared with a reason and is more or less embarrassed. For a moment. Only for a moment. Then he waylays the first spectre of a reason that goes flitting through the desert places of his mind, and is at once serene again and ready for conflict. Serene and confident. Yet he should not be so, since he has had no chance to examine his catch, and cannot know whether it is going to help his contention or damage it.
The impromptu reason furnished by the early prophets of whom I have spoken was this:
“There is nothing to Christian Science; there is nothing about it that appeals to the intellect; its market will be restricted to the unintelligent, the mentally inferior, the people who do not think.”
They called that a reason why the cult would not flourish and endure. It seems the equivalent of saying:
“There is no money in tinware; there is nothing about it that appeals to the rich; its market will be restricted to the poor.”
It is like bringing forward the best reason in the world why Christian Science should flourish and live, and then blandly offering it as a reason why it should sicken and die.
That reason was furnished me by the complacent and unfrightened prophets four years ago, and it has been furnished me again to-day. If conversions to new religions or to old ones were in any considerable degree achieved through the intellect, the aforesaid reason would be sound and sufficient, no doubt; the inquirer into Christian Science might go away unconvinced and unconverted. But we all know that conversions are seldom made in that way; that such a thing as a serious and painstaking and fairly competent inquiry into the claims of a religion or of a political dogma is a rare occurrence; and that the vast mass of men and women are far from being capable of making such an examination. They are not capable, for the reason that their minds, howsoever good they may be, are not trained for such examinations. The mind not trained for that work is no more competent to do it than are lawyers and farmers competent to make successful clothes without learning the tailor’s trade. There are seventy-five million men and women among us who do not know how to cut out and make a dress-suit, and they would not think of trying; yet they all think they can competently think out a political or religious scheme without any apprenticeship to the business, and many of them believe they have actually worked that miracle. But, indeed, the truth is, almost all the men and women of our nation or of any other get their religion and their politics where they get their astronomy–entirely at second hand. Being untrained, they are no more able to intelligently examine a dogma or a policy than they are to calculate an eclipse.
Men are usually competent thinkers along the lines of their specialized training only. Within these limits alone are their opinions and judgments valuable; outside of these limits they grope and are lost– usually without knowing it. In a church assemblage of five hundred persons, there will be a man or two whose trained minds can seize upon each detail of a great manufacturing scheme and recognize its value or its lack of value promptly; and can pass the details in intelligent review, section by section, and finally as a whole, and then deliver a verdict upon the scheme which cannot be flippantly set aside nor easily answered. And there will be one or two other men there who can do the same thing with a great and complicated educational project; and one or two others who can do the like with a large scheme for applying electricity in a new and unheard-of way; and one or two others who can do it with a showy scheme for revolutionizing the scientific world’s accepted notions regarding geology. And so on, and so on. But the manufacturing experts will not be competent to examine the educational scheme intelligently, and their opinion about it would not be valuable; neither of these two groups will be able to understand and pass upon the electrical scheme; none of these three batches of experts will be able to understand and pass upon the geological revolution; and probably not one man in the entire lot will be competent to examine, capably, the intricacies of a political or religious scheme, new or old, and deliver a judgment upon it which any one need regard as precious.
There you have the top crust. There will be four hundred and seventy- five men and women present who can draw upon their training and deliver incontrovertible judgments concerning cheese, and leather, and cattle, and hardware, and soap, and tar, and candles, and patent medicines, and dreams, and apparitions, and garden trucks, and cats, and baby food, and warts, and hymns, and time-tables, and freight-rates, and summer resorts, and whiskey, and law, and surgery, and dentistry, and blacksmithing, and shoemaking, and dancing, and Huyler’s candy, and mathematics, and dog fights, and obstetrics, and music, and sausages, and dry goods, and molasses, and railroad stocks, and horses, and literature, and labor unions, and vegetables, and morals, and lamb’s fries, and etiquette, and agriculture. And not ten among the five hundred–let their minds be ever so good and bright–will be competent, by grace of the requisite specialized mental training, to take hold of a complex abstraction of any kind and make head or tail of it.
The whole five hundred are thinkers, and they are all capable thinkers– but only within the narrow limits of their specialized trainings. Four hundred and ninety of them cannot competently examine either a religious plan or a political one. A scattering few of them do examine both–that is, they think they do. With results as precious as when I examine the nebular theory and explain it to myself.
If the four hundred and ninety got their religion through their minds, and by weighed and measured detail, Christian Science would not be a scary apparition. But they don’t; they get a little of it through their minds, more of it through their feelings, and the overwhelming bulk of it through their environment.
Environment is the chief thing to be considered when one is proposing to predict the future of Christian Science. It is not the ability to reason that makes the Presbyterian, or the Baptist, or the Methodist, or the Catholic, or the Mohammedan, or the Buddhist, or the Mormon; it is environment. If religions were got by reasoning, we should have the extraordinary spectacle of an American family with a Presbyterian in it, and a Baptist, a Methodist, a Catholic, a Mohammedan, a Buddhist, and a Mormon. A Presbyterian family does not produce Catholic families or other religious brands, it produces its own kind; and not by intellectual processes, but by association. And so also with Mohammedanism, the cult which in our day is spreading with the sweep of a world-conflagration through the Orient, that native home of profound thought and of subtle intellectual fence, that fertile womb whence has sprung every great religion that exists. Including our own; for with all our brains we cannot invent a religion and market it.
The language of my quoted prophets recurs to us now, and we wonder to think how small a space in the world the mighty Mohammedan Church would be occupying now, if a successful trade in its line of goods had been conditioned upon an exhibit that would “appeal to the intellect” instead of to “the unintelligent, the mentally inferior, the people who do not think.”
The Christian Science Church, like the Mohammedan Church, makes no embarrassing appeal to the intellect, has no occasion to do it, and can get along quite well without it.
Provided. Provided what? That it can secure that thing which is worth two or three hundred thousand times more than an “appeal to the intellect”–an environment. Can it get that? Will it be a menace to regular Christianity if it gets that? Is it time for regular Christianity to get alarmed? Or shall regular Christianity smile a smile and turn over and take another nap? Won’t it be wise and proper for regular Christianity to do the old way, Me customary way, the historical way–lock the stable-door after the horse is gone? Just as Protestantism has smiled and nodded this long time (while the alert and diligent Catholic was slipping in and capturing the public schools), and is now beginning to hunt around for the key when it is too late?
Will Christian Science get a chance to show its wares? It has already secured that chance. Will it flourish and spread and prosper if it shall create for itself the one thing essential to those conditions–an environment? It has already created an environment. There are families of Christian Scientists in every community in America, and each family is a factory; each family turns out a Christian Science product at the customary intervals, and contributes it to the Cause in the only way in which contributions of recruits to Churches are ever made on a large scale–by the puissant forces of personal contact and association. Each family is an agency for the Cause, and makes converts among the neighbors, and starts some more factories.
Four years ago there were six Christian Scientists in a certain town that I am acquainted with; a year ago there were two hundred and fifty there; they have built a church, and its membership now numbers four hundred. This has all been quietly done; done without frenzied revivals, without uniforms, brass bands, street parades, corner oratory, or any of the other customary persuasions to a godly life. Christian Science, like Mohammedanism, is “restricted” to the “unintelligent, the people who do not think.” There lies the danger. It makes Christian Science formidable. It is “restricted” to ninety-nine one-hundredths of the human race, and must be reckoned with by regular Christianity. And will be, as soon as it is too late.
“There were remarkable things about the stranger called the Man–Mystery- things so very extraordinary that they monopolized attention and made all of him seem extraordinary; but this was not so, the most of his qualities being of the common, every-day size and like anybody else’s. It was curious. He was of the ordinary stature, and had the ordinary aspects; yet in him were hidden such strange contradictions and disproportions! He was majestically fearless and heroic; he had the strength of thirty men and the daring of thirty thousand; handling armies, organizing states, administering governments–these were pastimes to him; he publicly and ostentatiously accepted the human race at its own valuation- -as demigods–and privately and successfully dealt with it at quite another and juster valuation–as children and slaves; his ambitions were stupendous, and his dreams had no commerce with the humble plain, but moved with the cloud-rack among the snow-summits. These features of him were, indeed, extraordinary, but the rest of him was ordinary and usual. He was so mean-minded, in the matter of jealousy, that it was thought he was descended from a god; he was vain in little ways, and had a pride in trivialities; he doted on ballads about moonshine and bruised hearts; in education he was deficient, he was indifferent to literature, and knew nothing of art; he was dumb upon all subjects but one, indifferent to all except that one–the Nebular Theory. Upon that one his flow of words was full and free, he was a geyser. The official astronomers disputed his facts and deeded his views, and said that he had invented both, they not being findable in any of the books. But many of the laity, who wanted their nebulosities fresh, admired his doctrine and adopted it, and it attained to great prosperity in spite of the hostility of the experts.” –The Legend of the Man-Mystery, ch. i.
JANUARY, 1903. When we do not know a public man personally, we guess him out by the facts of his career. When it is Washington, we all arrive at about one and the same result. We agree that his words and his acts clearly interpret his character to us, and that they never leave us in doubt as to the motives whence the words and acts proceeded. It is the same with Joan of Arc, it is the same with two or three or five or six others among the immortals. But in the matter of motives and of a few details of character we agree to disagree upon Napoleon, Cromwell, and all the rest; and to this list we must add Mrs. Eddy. I think we can peacefully agree as to two or three extraordinary features of her make- up, but not upon the other features of it. We cannot peacefully agree as to her motives, therefore her character must remain crooked to some of us and straight to the others.
No matter, she is interesting enough without an amicable agreement. In several ways she is the most interesting woman that ever lived, and the most extraordinary. The same may be said of her career, and the same may be said of its chief result. She started from nothing. Her enemies charge that she surreptitiously took from Quimby a peculiar system of healing which was mind-cure with a Biblical basis. She and her friends deny that she took anything from him. This is a matter which we can discuss by-and-by. Whether she took it or invented it, it was– materially–a sawdust mine when she got it, and she has turned it into a Klondike; its spiritual dock had next to no custom, if any at all: from it she has launched a world-religion which has now six hundred and sixty- three churches, and she charters a new one every four days. When we do not know a person–and also when we do–we have to judge his size by the size and nature of his achievements, as compared with the achievements of others in his special line of business–there is no other way. Measured by this standard, it is thirteen hundred years since the world has produced any one who could reach up to Mrs. Eddy’s waistbelt.
Figuratively speaking, Mrs. Eddy is already as tall as the Eiffel tower. She is adding surprisingly to her stature every day. It is quite within the probabilities that a century hence she will be the most imposing figure that has cast its shadow across the globe since the inauguration of our era. I grant that after saying these strong things, it is necessary that I offer some details calculated to satisfactorily demonstrate the proportions which I have claimed for her. I will do that presently; but before exhibiting the matured sequoia gigantea, I believe it will be best to exhibit the sprout from which it sprang. It may save the reader from making miscalculations. The person who imagines that a Big Tree sprout is bigger than other kinds of sprouts is quite mistaken. It is the ordinary thing; it makes no show, it compels no notice, it hasn’t a detectible quality in it that entitles it to attention, or suggests the future giant its sap is suckling. That is the kind of sprout Mrs. Eddy was.
From her childhood days up to where she was running a half-century a close race and gaining on it, she was most humanly commonplace.
She is the witness I am drawing this from. She has revealed it in her autobiography not intentionally, of course–I am not claiming that. An autobiography is the most treacherous thing there is. It lets out every secret its author is trying to keep; it lets the truth shine unobstructed through every harmless little deception he tries to play; it pitilessly exposes him as a tin hero worshipping himself as Big Metal every time he tries to do the modest-unconsciousness act before the reader. This is not guessing; I am speaking from autobiographical personal experience; I was never able to refrain from mentioning, with a studied casualness that could deceive none but the most incautious reader, that an ancestor of mine was sent ambassador to Spain by Charles I., nor that in a remote branch of my family there exists a claimant to an earldom, nor that an uncle of mine used to own a dog that was descended from the dog that was in the Ark; and at the same time I was never able to persuade myself to call a gibbet by its right name when accounting for other ancestors of mine, but always spoke of it as the “platform”–puerilely intimating that they were out lecturing when it happened.
It is Mrs. Eddy over again. As regards her minor half, she is as commonplace as the rest of us. Vain of trivial things all the first half of her life, and still vain of them at seventy and recording them with naive satisfaction–even rescuing some early rhymes of hers of the sort that we all scribble in the innocent days of our youth–rescuing them and printing them without pity or apology, just as the weakest and commonest of us do in our gray age. More–she still frankly admires them; and in her introduction of them profanely confers upon them the holy name of “poetry.” Sample:
“And laud the land whose talents rock The cradle of her power,
And wreaths are twined round Plymouth Rock From erudition’s bower.”
“Minerva’s silver sandals still
Are loosed and not effete.”
You note it is not a shade above the thing which all human beings churn out in their youth.
You would not think that in a little wee primer–for that is what the Autobiography is–a person with a tumultuous career of seventy years behind her could find room for two or three pages of padding of this kind, but such is the case. She evidently puts narrative together with difficulty and is not at home in it, and is glad to have something ready- made to fill in with. Another sample:
“Here fame-honored Hickory rears his bold form, And bears a brave breast to the lightning and storm, While Palm, Bay, and Laurel in classical glee, Chase Tulip, Magnolia, and fragrant Fringe-tree.”
Vivid? You can fairly see those trees galloping around. That she could still treasure up, and print, and manifestly admire those Poems, indicates that the most daring and masculine and masterful woman that has appeared in the earth in centuries has the same soft, girly-girly places in her that the rest of us have.
When it comes to selecting her ancestors she is still human, natural, vain, commonplace–as commonplace as I am myself when I am sorting ancestors for my autobiography. She combs out some creditable Scots, and labels them and sets them aside for use, not overlooking the one to whom Sir William Wallace gave “a heavy sword encased in a brass scabbard,” and naively explaining which Sir William Wallace it was, lest we get the wrong one by the hassock; this is the one “from whose patriotism and bravery comes that heart-stirring air, ‘Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled.'” Hannah More was related to her ancestors. She explains who Hannah More was.
Whenever a person informs us who Sir William Wallace was, or who wrote “Hamlet,” or where the Declaration of Independence was fought, it fills us with a suspicion wellnigh amounting to conviction, that that person would not suspect us of being so empty of knowledge if he wasn’t suffering from the same “claim” himself. Then we turn to page 20 of the Autobiography and happen upon this passage, and that hasty suspicion stands rebuked:
“I gained book-knowledge with far less labor than is usually requisite. At ten years of age I was as familiar with Lindley Murray’s Grammar as with the Westminster Catechism; and the latter I had to repeat every Sunday. My favorite studies were Natural Philosophy, Logic, and Moral Science. From my brother A1bert I received lessons in the ancient tongues, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.”
You catch your breath in astonishment, and feel again and still again the pang of that rebuke. But then your eye falls upon the next sentence but one, and the pain passes away and you set up the suspicion again with evil satisfaction:
“After my discovery of Christian Science, most of the knowledge I had gleaned from school-books vanished like a dream.”
That disappearance accounts for much in her miscellaneous writings. As I was saying, she handles her “ancestral shadows,” as she calls them, just as I do mine. It is remarkable. When she runs across “a relative of my Grandfather Baker, General Henry Knox, of Revolutionary fame,” she sets him down; when she finds another good one, “the late Sir John Macneill, in the line of my Grandfather Baker’s family,” she sets him down, and remembers that he “was prominent in British politics, and at one time held the position of ambassador to Persia”; when she discovers that her grandparents “were likewise connected with Captain John Lovewell, whose gallant leadership and death in the Indian troubles of 1722-25 caused that prolonged contest to be known historically as Lovewell’s War,” she sets the Captain down; when it turns out that a cousin of her grandmother “was John Macneill, the New Hampshire general, who fought at Lundy’s Lane and won distinction in 1814 at the battle of Chippewa,” she catalogues the General. (And tells where Chippewa was.) And then she skips all her platform people; never mentions one of them. It shows that she is just as human as any of us.
Yet, after all, there is something very touching in her pride in these worthy small-fry, and something large and fine in her modesty in not caring to remember that their kinship to her can confer no distinction upon her, whereas her mere mention of their names has conferred upon them a faceless earthly immortality.
When she wrote this little biography her great life-work had already been achieved, she was become renowned; to multitudes of reverent disciples she was a sacred personage, a familiar of God, and His inspired channel of communication with the human race. Also, to them these following things were facts, and not doubted:
She had written a Bible in middle age, and had published it; she had recast it, enlarged it, and published it again; she had not stopped there, but had enlarged it further, polished its phrasing, improved its form, and published it yet again. It was at last become a compact, grammatical, dignified, and workman-like body of literature. This was good training, persistent training; and in all arts it is training that brings the art to perfection. We are now confronted with one of the most teasing and baffling riddles of Mrs. Eddy’s history–a riddle which may be formulated thus:
How is it that a primitive literary gun which began as a hundred-yard flint-lock smooth-bore muzzle-loader, and in the course of forty years has acquired one notable improvement after another–percussion cap; fixed cartridge; rifled barrel; efficiency at half a mile how is it that such a gun, sufficiently good on an elephant hunt (Christian Science) from the beginning, and growing better and better all the time during forty years, has always collapsed back to its original flint-lock estate the moment the huntress trained it on any other creature than an elephant?
Something more than a generation ago Mrs. Eddy went out with her flint- lock on the rabbit range; and this was a part of the result:
“After his decease, and a severe casualty deemed fatal by skilful physicians, we discovered that the Principle of all healing and the law that governs it is God, a divine Principle, and a spiritual not material law, and regained health.”–Preface to Science and Health, first revision, 1883.
N.B. Not from the book itself; from the Preface.
You will notice the awkwardness of that English. If you should carry that paragraph up to the Supreme Court of the United States in order to find out for good and all whether the fatal casualty happened to the dead man–as the paragraph almost asserts–or to some person or persons not even hinted at in the paragraph, the Supreme Court would be obliged to say that the evidence established nothing with certainty except that there had been a casualty–victim not known.