doubled it and gave him a shilling. Mrs. Fuller brought in an itemised 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 cheque, 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 6 times 6 are thirty-six; that 2 from 10 leave eight; that 8 and 7 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 we know to be substantially sane; sufficiently sane; in the working essentials, sane. Whoever disputes a single one of them 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, just as insane as the Pope is. 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 unbiased 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 unbiased 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 Shakers,
The Infidel, The Millerites, The Agnostic, The Mormons,
The Baptist, The Laurence Oliphant The Methodist, Harrisites,
The Catholic, and the other The Grand Lama’s people, 115 Christian sects, the The Monarchists, Presbyterian excepted, The Imperialists, The 72 Mohammedan sects, The Democrats, The Buddhist, The Republicans (but not The Blavatsky-Buddhist, the Mugwumps), The Nationalist, The Mind-Curists, The Confucian, The Faith-Curists, The Spiritualist, The Mental Scientists, The 2,000 East Indian The Allopaths, sects, The Homeopaths,
The Peculiar People, The Electropaths, The Swedenborgians,
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 toward one another’s lunacies. I recognise 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 neutralised by the negative opinion of his stupid neighbour–no decision is reached; the affirmative opinion of the intellectual giant Gladstone is neutralised by the negative opinion of the intellectual giant Cardinal 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 follows 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 8 and 7 make fifteen. And by it we recognise 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 8 and 7–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 that some of us. At the same time, I am quite sure that in one important and splendid particular he is 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 one described in the previous article; 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 700 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 inclosed 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 it 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.
Perhaps I am putting the tandem arrangement too far away; perhaps five years might be nearer the mark than fifty; for a Viennese lady told me last night that in the Christian Science Mosque in Boston she noticed some things which seem to me to promise a shortening of the interval; on one side there was a display of texts from the New Testament, signed with the Saviour’s initials, ‘J.C.;’ and on the opposite side a display of texts from the ‘little book’ signed–with the author’s mere initials? No–signed with Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy’s name in full. Perhaps the Angel of the Apocalypse likes this kind of piracy. I made this remark lightly to a Christian Scientist this morning, but he did not receive it lightly, but said it was jesting upon holy things; he said there was no piracy, for the angel did not compose the book, he only brought it–‘God composed it.’ I could have retorted that it was a case of piracy just the same; that the displayed texts should be signed with the Author’s initials, and that to sign them with the translator’s train of names was another case of ‘jesting upon holy things.’ However, I did not say these things, for this Scientist was a large person, and although by his own doctrine we have no substance, but are fictions and unrealities, I knew he could hit me an imaginary blow which would furnish me an imaginary pain which could last me a week. The lady said that in that Mosque there were two pulpits; in one of them was a man with the Former Bible, in the other a woman with Mrs. Eddy’s apocalyptic Annex; and from these books the man and the woman were reading verse and verse about:
‘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.
Are these things picturesque? The Viennese lady told me that in a chapel of the Mosque there was 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 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, or 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 as 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 favourite 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 Mohammedanism, 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 is so just yet, I think. There seems argument that it may come true. The Christian-Science ‘boom’ is not yet five years old; yet already it has 500 churches and 1,000,000 members in America.
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 the other religions.
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; and, besides, it appealed to the stupid and the ignorant only. 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–for cash–and in comparison with this bribe all other this-world bribes are poor and cheap. You recognise 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 organised, 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, they who have friends that are ailing. To mass it in a phrase, its clientele 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 it? 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 (organised) 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 meantime would the Scientist kill off a good many patients? I think so. More than get killed off now by the legalised 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 (civilised) 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 splendour 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 thus 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 subsequent 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 lying 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 not 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 realised 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. 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 made a pastime. 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 rock-pile. She saved herself from disaster by remember to say ‘God is All’ while she was in the air. I couldn’t have done it. I shouldn’t have even 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 bad–that is, it seemed to.’ So ‘I was excused, and went down in 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, 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 membership 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. It 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 tool, 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. I can believe this, because my own case was somewhat similar, as per my former article.
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 recognise 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 a 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 it 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 hands 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 would have essentially died thirty times more, in the three years which have since elapsed. There are thousand 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 300 lives. Meantime it will kill a man every now and then; but no matter, it will still be ahead on the credit side.
‘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 worshipped, and we must expect this feeling to spread territorially, and also to deepen in intensity .
Particularly after her death; for then, as anyone can foresee, Eddy-worship will be taught in the Sunday-schools and pulpits of the cult. Already whatever she puts her trade-mark on, thought it be only a memorial spoon, is holy and is eagerly and passionately 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 for sale. And the terms are cash; and not cash only 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 recognised. The hunger of the Trust for the Dollar, its adoration of the Dollar, its lust after the Dollar, its ecstasy in the mere thought of the Dollar–there has been nothing like it in the world in any age or country, nothing so coarse, nothing so lubricous, nothing so bestial, except a French novel’s attitude towards adultery.
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, always at extravagant prices, 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 Bible-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 noble big prices, the divinity-circuit style heading the extortions, shilling discount where you take an edition. Next comes ‘Christ and Christmas,’ by the fertile Mrs. eddy–a poem–I would God I could see it–price $3, cash in advance. Then follow five more books by Mrs. Eddy at highwaymen’s rates, as usual, some of them in ‘leatherette covers,’ some of them in ‘pebbled 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.’ I wish it were in refined taste to apply a rudely and ruggedly descriptive epithet to that literary slush-bucket, so as to give one an accurate idea of what it is like. I am moved to do it, but I must not: it is better to be refined than accurate when one is talking about a production like that.
Christian-Science literary oleomargarine is 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; and you pay your money before you get your soap-fat.
The Trust has still other sources of income. Mrs. Eddy is president (and perhaps proprietor?) of the Trust’s Metaphysical College in Boston, where the student who has practised C.S. healing during three years the best he knew how perfects himself in the game by a two weeks’ course, and pays 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 practise the game unless he possess a copy of that holy nightmare. 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 Christian-Scientist church can retain that membership unless he pay ‘capitation tax’ to the Boston Trust every year. That means an income for the Trust–in the near future–of millions more per year.
It is a reasonably safe guess that in America in 1910 there will be 10,000,000 Christian Scientists, and 3,000,000 in Great Britain; that these figures will be trebled by 1920; that in America in 1910 the Christian Scientists will be a political force, in 1920 politically formidable–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 had; in the railway, the telegraph, and the subsidised 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 organisation, and it has an effective centralisation 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 200,000,000 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 300,000,000 of the human race, and the Annex and the rest of his book-shop will fetch in double 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 chromo-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. No Bishops appointed unless they agree to hand in 90 per cent. of the catch. In that day the Trust will monopolise 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 $5,000,000 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 read; 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 pulpit for any suggestion that it spends a penny on orphans, widows, discharged prisoners, hospitals, ragged schools, night missions, city missions, foreign 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 entirely satisfied with that answer; he gets down his Annex and does an incantation or two, and that mesmerises 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. From the definite answers I gather than the ‘capitation-tax’ is compulsory, and that the sum is one dollar. 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 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 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 did not need to blush for, 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 labourer 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 by to obey.
The Trust seems to be a reincarnation. Exodus xxxii.4.
I have no reverence for Mrs. Eddy and the rest of the Trust–if there is a rest–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 honour 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 the 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. 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 Lourdes Miracle- Worker, or King’s-Evil Expert, it is all one,–he is merely the Engineer, he simply turns on the same old steam and the engine does the whole work.
In the case of the cure-engine it is a distinct advantage to clothe the engineer in religious overalls and give him a pious name. It greatly enlarges the business, and does no one any harm.
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 organised the business. Now that was certainly a gigantic idea. There is more intellect in it than would be needed in the invention of a couple of millions of Eddy Science-and- Health Bible Annexes. 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 organised 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 organised 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 unorganised great moral and commercial ventures; but I believe that so long as this one remains compactly organised and closely concentrated in a Trust, the spread of its dominion will continue.
VIENNA: May 1, 1899.
 After raising a dead child to life, the disciple who did it writes an account of her performance, to Mrs. Eddy, and closes it thus: ‘My prayer daily is to be more spiritual, that I may do more as you would have me do… and may we all love you more and so live it that the world may know that the Christ is come.’–Printed in the Concord, N.H., Independent Statesman, March 9, 1899. If this is no worship, it is a good imitation of it.
 In the past two years the membership of the Established Church of England have given voluntary contributions amounting to $73,000,000 to the Church’s benevolent enterprises. Churches that give have nothing to hide.
 I may be introducing the capital S a little early–still it is on its way.
IS HE LIVING OR IS HE DEAD?
I was spending the month of March 1892 at Mentone, in the Riviera. At this retired spot one has all the advantages, privately, which are to be had publicly at Monte Carlo and Nice, a few miles farther along. That is to say, one has the flooding sunshine, the balmy air and the brilliant blue sea, without the marring additions of human pow-wow and fuss and feathers and display. Mentone is quiet, simple, restful, unpretentious; the rich and the gaudy do not come there. As a rule, I mean, the rich do not come there. Now and then a rich man comes, and I presently got acquainted with one of these. Partially to disguise him I will call him Smith. One day, in the Hotel des Anglais, at the second breakfast, he exclaimed:
‘Quick! Cast your eye on the man going out at the door. Take in every detail of him.’
‘Do you know who he is?’
‘Yes. He spent several days here before you came. He is an old, retired, and very rich silk manufacturer from Lyons, they say, and I guess he is alone in the world, for he always looks sad and dreamy, and doesn’t talk with anybody. His name is Theophile Magnan.’
I supposed that Smith would now proceed to justify the large interest which he had shown in Monsieur Magnan, but, instead, he dropped into a brown study, and was apparently lost to me and to the rest of the world during some minutes. Now and then he passed his fingers through his flossy white hair, to assist his thinking, and meantime he allowed his breakfast to go on cooling. At last he said:
‘No, it’s gone; I can’t call it back.’
‘Can’t call what back?’
‘It’s one of Hans Andersen’s beautiful little stories. But it’s gone fro me. Part of it is like this: A child has a caged bird, which it loves but thoughtlessly neglects. The bird pours out its song unheard and unheeded; but, in time, hunger and thirst assail the creature, and its song grows plaintive and feeble and finally ceases–the bird dies. The child comes, and is smitten to the heart with remorse: then, with bitter tears and lamentations, it calls its mates, and they bury the bird with elaborate pomp and the tenderest grief, without knowing, poor things, that it isn’t children only who starve poets to death and then spend enough on their funerals and monuments to have kept them alive and made them easy and comfortable. Now–‘
But here we were interrupted. About ten that evening I ran across Smith, and he asked me up to his parlour to help him smoke and drink hot Scotch. It was a cosy place, with its comfortable chairs, its cheerful lamps, and its friendly open fire of seasoned olive-wood. To make everything perfect, there was a muffled booming of the surf outside. After the second Scotch and much lazy and contented chat, Smith said:
‘Now we are properly primed–I to tell a curious history and you to listen to it. It has been a secret for many years–a secret between me and three others; but I am going to break the seal now. Are you comfortable?’
‘Perfectly. Go on.’
Here follows what he told me:
‘A long time ago I was a young artist–a very young artist, in fact–and I wandered about the country parts of France, sketching here and sketching there, and was presently joined by a couple of darling young Frenchmen who were at the same kind of thing that I was doing. We were as happy as we were poor, or as poor as we were happy–phrase it to suit yourself. Claude Frere and Carl Boulanger–these are the names of those boys; dear, dear fellows, and the sunniest spirits that ever laughed at poverty and had a noble good time in all weathers.
‘At last we ran hard aground in a Breton village, and an artist as poor as ourselves took us in and literally saved us from starving–Francois Millet–‘
‘What! the great Francois Millet?’
‘Great? He wasn’t any greater than we were, then. He hadn’t any fame, even in his own village; and he was so poor that he hadn’t anything to feed us on but turnips, and even the turnips failed us sometimes. We four became fast friends, doting friends, inseparables. We painted away together with all our might, piling up stock, piling up stock, but very seldom getting rid of any of it. We had lovely times together; but, O my soul! how we were pinched now and then!
‘For a little over two years this went on. At last, one day, Claude said:
‘”Boys, we’ve come to the end. Do you understand that?–absolutely to the end. Everybody has struck–there’s a league formed against us. I’ve been all around the village and it’s just as I tell you. They refuse to credit us for another centime until all the odds and ends are paid up.”
‘This struck us as cold. Every face was blank with dismay. We realised that our circumstances were desperate, now. There was a long silence. Finally, Millet said with a sigh:
‘”Nothing occurs to me–nothing. Suggest something, lads.”
‘There was no response, unless a mournful silence may be called a response. Carl got up, and walked nervously up and down a while, then said:
‘”It’s a shame! Look at these canvases: stacks and stacks of as good pictures as anybody in Europe paints–I don’t care who he is. Yes, and plenty of lounging strangers have said the same–or nearly that, anyway.”
‘”But didn’t buy,” Millet said.
‘”No matter, they said it; and it’s true, too. Look at your ‘Angelus’ there! Will anybody tell me–“
‘”Pah, Carl–My ‘Angelus!’ I was offered five francs for it.”
‘”Who offered it?”
‘”Where is he?”
‘”Why didn’t you take it?”
‘”Come–don’t all speak at once. I thought he would give more–I was sure of it–he looked it–so I asked him eight.”
‘”He said he would call again.”
‘”Thunder and lightning! Why, Francois–“
‘”Oh, I know–I know! It was a mistake, and I was a fool. Boys, I meant for the best; you’ll grant me that, and I–“
‘”Why, certainly, we know that, bless your dear heart; but don’t you be a fool again.”
‘”I? I wish somebody would come along and offer us a cabbage for it– you’d see!”
‘”A cabbage! Oh, don’t name it–it makes my mouth water. Talk of things less trying.”
‘”Boys,” said Carl, “do these pictures lack merit? Answer me that.”
‘”Aren’t they of very great and high merit? Answer me that.”
‘”Of such great and high merit that, if an illustrious name were attached to them they would sell at splendid prices. Isn’t it so?”
‘”Certainly it is. Nobody doubts that.”
‘”But–I’m not joking–isn’t it so?”
‘”Why, of course it’s so–and we are not joking. But what of it. What of it? How does that concern us?”
‘”In this way, comrades–we’ll attach an illustrious name to them!”
‘The lively conversation stopped. The faces were turned inquiringly upon Carl. What sort of riddle might this be? Where was an illustrious name to be borrowed? And who was to borrow it?
‘Carl sat down, and said:
‘”Now, I have a perfectly serious thing to propose. I think it is the only way to keep us out of the almshouse, and I believe it to be a perfectly sure way. I base this opinion upon certain multitudinous and long-established facts in human history. I believe my project will make us all rich.”
‘”Rich! You’ve lost your mind.”
‘”No, I haven’t.”
‘”Yes, you have–you’ve lost your mind. What do you call rich?”
‘”A hundred thousand francs apiece.”
‘”He has lost his mind. I knew it.”
‘”Yes, he has. Carl, privation has been too much for you, and–“
‘”Carl, you want to take a pill and get right to bed.”
‘”Bandage him first–bandage his head, and then–“
‘”No, bandage his heels; his brains have been settling for weeks–I’ve noticed it.”
‘”Shut up!” said Millet, with ostensible severity, “and let the boy have his say. Now, then–come out with your project, Carl. What is it?”
‘”Well, then, by way of preamble I will ask you to note this fact in human history: that the merit of many a great artist has never been acknowledged until after he was starved and dead. This has happened so often that I make bold to found a law upon it. This law: that the merit of every great unknown and neglected artist must and will be recognised and his pictures climb to high prices after his death. My project is this: we must cast lots–one of us must die.”
‘The remark fell so calmly and so unexpectedly that we almost forgot to jump. Then there was a wild chorus of advice again–medical advice–for the help of Carl’s brain; but he waited patiently for the hilarity to calm down, and then went on again with his project:
‘”Yes, one of us must die, to save the others–and himself. We will cast lots. The one chosen shall be illustrious, all of us shall be rich. Hold still, now–hold still; don’t interrupt–I tell you I know what I am talking about. Here is the idea. During the next three months the one who is to die shall paint with all his might, enlarge his stock all he can–not pictures, no! skeleton sketches, studies, parts of studies, fragments of studies, a dozen dabs of the brush on each–meaningless, of course, but his, with his cipher on them; turn out fifty a day, each to contain some peculiarity or mannerism easily detectable as his–they’re the things that sell, you know, and are collected at fabulous prices for the world’s museums, after the great man is gone; we’ll have a ton of them ready–a ton! And all that time the rest of us will be busy supporting the moribund, and working Paris and the dealers–preparations for the coming event, you know; and when everything is hot and just right, we’ll spring the death on them and have the notorious funeral. You get the idea?”
‘”N-o; at least, not qu–“
‘”Not quite? Don’t you see? The man doesn’t really die; he changes his name and vanishes; we bury a dummy, and cry over it, with all the world to help. And I–“
‘But he wasn’t allowed to finish. Everybody broke out into a rousing hurrah of applause; and all jumped up and capered about the room and fell on each other’s necks in transports of gratitude and joy. For hours we talked over the great plan, without ever feeling hungry; and at last, when all the details had been arranged satisfactorily, we cast lots and Millet was elected–elected to die, as we called it. Then we scraped together those things which one never parts with until he is betting them against future wealth–keepsake trinkets and suchlike–and these we pawned for enough to furnish us a frugal farewell supper and breakfast, and leave us a few francs over for travel, and a stake of turnips and such for Millet to live on for a few days.
‘Next morning, early, the three of us cleared out, straightway after breakfast–on foot, of course. Each of us carried a dozen of Millet’s small pictures, purposing to market them. Carl struck for Paris, where he would start the work of building up Millet’s name against the coming great day. Claude and I were to separate, and scatter abroad over France.
‘Now, it will surprise you to know what an easy and comfortable thing we had. I walked two days before I began business. Then I began to sketch a villa in the outskirts of a big town–because I saw the proprietor standing on an upper veranda. He came down to look on–I thought he would. I worked swiftly, intending to keep him interested. Occasionally he fired off a little ejaculation of approbation, and by-and-by he spoke up with enthusiasm, and said I was a master!
‘I put down my brush, reached into my satchel, fetched out a Millet, and pointed to the cipher in the corner. I said, proudly:
‘”I suppose you recognise that? Well, he taught me! I should think I ought to know my trade!”
‘The man looked guiltily embarrassed, and was silent. I said sorrowfully:
‘”You don’t mean to intimate that you don’t know the cipher of Francois Millet!”
‘Of course he didn’t know that cipher; but he was the gratefullest man you ever saw, just the same, for being let out of an uncomfortable place on such easy terms. He said:
‘”No! Why, it is Millet’s, sure enough! I don’t know what I could have been thinking of. Of course I recognise it now.”
‘Next, he wanted to buy it; but I said that although I wasn’t rich I wasn’t that poor. However, at last, I let him have it for eight hundred francs.’
‘Yes. Millet would have sold it for a pork chop. Yes, I got eight hundred francs for that little thing. I wish I could get it back for eighty thousand. But that time’s gone by. I made a very nice picture of that man’s house and I wanted to offer it to him for ten francs, but that wouldn’t answer, seeing I was the pupil of such a master, so I sold it to him for a hundred. I sent the eight hundred francs straight to Millet from that town and struck out again next day.
‘But I didn’t walk–no. I rode. I have ridden ever since. I sold one picture every day, and never tried to sell two. I always said to my customer:
‘”I am a fool to sell a picture of Francois Millet’s at all, for that man is not going to live three months, and when he dies his pictures can’t be had for love or money.”
‘I took care to spread that little fact as far as I could, and prepare the world for the event.
‘I take credit to myself for our plan of selling the pictures–it was mine. I suggested it that last evening when we were laying out our campaign, and all three of us agreed to give it a good fair trial before giving it up for some other. It succeeded with all of us. I walked only two days, Claude walked two–both of afraid to make Millet celebrated too close to home–but Carl walked only half a day, the bright, conscienceless rascal, and after that he travelled like a duke.
‘Every now and then we got in with a country editor and started an item around through the press; not an item announcing that a new painter had been discovered, but an item which let on that everybody knew Francois Millet; not an item praising him in any way, but merely a word concerning the present condition of the “master”–sometimes hopeful, sometimes despondent, but always tinged with fears for the worst. We always marked these paragraphs, and sent the papers to all the people who had bought pictures of us.
‘Carl was soon in Paris and he worked things with a high hand. He made friends with the correspondents, and got Millet’s condition reported to England and all over the continent, and America, and everywhere.
‘At the end of six weeks from the start, we three met in Paris and called a halt, and stopped sending back to Millet for additional pictures. The boom was so high, and everything so ripe, that we saw that it would be a mistake not to strike now, right away, without waiting any longer. So we wrote Millet to go to bed and begin to waste away pretty fast, for we should like him to die in ten days if he could get ready.
‘Then we figured up and found that among us we had sold eighty-five small pictures and studies, and had sixty-nine thousand francs to show for it. Carl had made the last sale and the most brilliant one of all. He sold the “Angelus” for twenty-two hundred francs. How we did glorify him!– not foreseeing that a day was coming by-and-by when France would struggle to own it and a stranger would capture it for five hundred and fifty thousand, cash.
‘We had a wind-up champagne supper that night, and next day Claude and I packed up and went off to nurse Millet through his last days and keep busybodies out of the house and send daily bulletins to Carl in Paris for publication in the papers of several continents for the information of a waiting world. The sad end came at last, and Carl was there in time to help in the final mournful rites.
‘You remember that great funeral, and what a stir it made all over the globe, and how the illustrious of two worlds came to attend it and testify their sorrow. We four–still inseparable–carried the coffin, and would allow none to help. And we were right about that, because it hadn’t anything in it but a wax figure, and any other coffin-bearers would have found fault with the weight. Yes, we same old four, who had lovingly shared privation together in the old hard times now gone for ever, carried the cof–‘
‘We four–for Millet helped to carry his own coffin. In disguise, you know. Disguised as a relative–distant relative.’
‘But true just the same. Well, you remember how the pictures went up. Money? We didn’t know what to do with it. there’s a man in Paris to-day who owns seventy Millet pictures. He paid us two million francs for them. And as for the bushels of sketches and studies which Millet shovelled out during the six weeks that we were on the road, well, it would astonish you to know the figure we sell them at nowadays–that is, when we consent to let one go!’
‘It is a wonderful history, perfectly wonderful!’
‘Yes–it amounts to that.’
‘Whatever became of Millet?’
‘Can you keep a secret?’
‘Do you remember the man I called your attention to in the dining room to-day? That was Francois Millet.’
‘Scott! Yes. For once they didn’t starve a genius to death and then put into other pockets the rewards he should have had himself. This song-bird was not allowed to pipe out its heart unheard and then be paid with the cold pomp of a big funeral. We looked out for that.’
MY DEBUT AS A LITERARY PERSON
In those early days I had already published one little thing (‘The Jumping Frog’) in an Eastern paper, but I did not consider that that counted. In my view, a person who published things in a mere newspaper could not properly claim recognition as a Literary Person: he must rise away above that; he must appear in a magazine. He would then be a Literary Person; also, he would be famous–right away. These two ambitions were strong upon me. This was in 1866. I prepared my contribution, and then looked around for the best magazine to go up to glory in. I selected the most important one in New York. The contribution was accepted. I signed it ‘MARK TWAIN;’ for that name had some currency on the Pacific coast, and it was my idea to spread it all over the world, now, at this one jump. The article appeared in the December number, and I sat up a month waiting for the January number; for that one would contain the year’s list of contributors, my name would be in it, and I should be famous and could give the banquet I was meditating.
I did not give the banquet. I had not written the ‘MARK TWAIN’ distinctly; it was a fresh name to Eastern printers, and they put it ‘Mike Swain’ or ‘MacSwain,’ I do not remember which. At any rate, I was not celebrated and I did not give the banquet. I was a Literary Person, but that was all–a buried one; buried alive.
My article was about the burning of the clipper-ship ‘Hornet’ on the line, May 3, 1866. There were thirty-one men on board at the time, and I was in Honolulu when the fifteen lean and ghostly survivors arrived there after a voyage of forty-three days in an open boat, through the blazing tropics, on ten days’ rations of food. A very remarkable trip; but it was conducted by a captain who was a remarkable man, otherwise there would have been no survivors. He was a New Englander of the best sea-going stock of the old capable times–Captain Josiah Mitchell.
I was in the islands to write letters for the weekly edition of the Sacramento ‘Union,’ a rich and influential daily journal which hadn’t any use for them, but could afford to spend twenty dollars a week for nothing. The proprietors were lovable and well-beloved men: long ago dead, no doubt, but in me there is at least one person who still holds them in grateful remembrance; for I dearly wanted to see the islands, and they listened to me and gave me the opportunity when there was but slender likelihood that it could profit them in any way.
I had been in the islands several months when the survivors arrived. I was laid up in my room at the time, and unable to walk. Here was a great occasion to serve my journal, and I not able to take advantage of it. Necessarily I was in deep trouble. But by good luck his Excellency Anson Burlingame was there at the time, on his way to take up his post in China, where he did such good work for the United States. He came and put me on a stretcher and had me carried to the hospital where the shipwrecked men were, and I never needed to ask a question. He attended to all of that himself, and I had nothing to do but make the notes. It was like him to take that trouble. He was a great man and a great American, and it was in his fine nature to come down from his high office and do a friendly turn whenever he could.
We got through with this work at six in the evening. I took no dinner, for there was no time to spare if I would beat the other correspondents. I spent four hours arranging the notes in their proper order, then wrote all night and beyond it; with this result: that I had a very long and detailed account of the ‘Hornet’ episode ready at nine in the morning, while the other correspondents of the San Francisco journals had nothing but a brief outline report–for they didn’t sit up. The now-and-then schooner was to sail for San Francisco about nine; when I reached the dock she was free forward and was just casting off her stern-line. My fat envelope was thrown by a strong hand, and fell on board all right, and my victory was a safe thing. All in due time the ship reached San Francisco, but it was my complete report which made the stir and was telegraphed to the New York papers, by Mr. Cash; he was in charge of the Pacific bureau of the ‘New York Herald’ at the time.
When I returned to California by-and-by, I went up to Sacramento and presented a bill for general correspondence at twenty dollars a week. It was paid. Then I presented a bill for ‘special’ service on the ‘Hornet’ matter of three columns of solid nonpareil at a hundred dollars a column. The cashier didn’t faint, but he came rather near it. He sent for the proprietors, and they came and never uttered a protest. They only laughed in their jolly fashion, and said it was robbery, but no matter; it was a grand ‘scoop’ (the bill or my ‘Hornet’ report, I didn’t know which): ‘Pay it. It’s all right.’ The best men that ever owned a newspaper.
The ‘Hornet’ survivors reached the Sandwich Islands the 15th of June. They were mere skinny skeletons; their clothes hung limp about them and fitted them no better than a flag fits the flag-staff in a calm. But they were well nursed in the hospital; the people of Honolulu kept them supplied with all the dainties they could need; they gathered strength fast, and were presently nearly as good as new. Within a fortnight the most of them took ship for San Francisco; that is, if my dates have not gone astray in my memory. I went in the same ship, a sailing-vessel. Captain Mitchell of the ‘Hornet’ was along; also the only passengers the ‘Hornet’ had carried. These were two young men from Stamford, Connecticut–brothers: Samuel and Henry Ferguson. The ‘Hornet’ was a clipper of the first class and a fast sailer; the young men’s quarters were roomy and comfortable, and were well stocked with books, and also with canned meats and fruits to help out the ship-fare with; and when the ship cleared from New York harbour in the first week of January there was promise that she would make quick and pleasant work of the fourteen or fifteen thousand miles in front of her. As soon as the cold latitudes were left behind and the vessel entered summer weather, the voyage became a holiday picnic. The ship flew southward under a cloud of sail which needed no attention, no modifying or change of any kind, for days together. The young men read, strolled the ample deck, rested and drowsed in the shade of the canvas, took their meals with the captain; and when the day was done they played dummy whist with him till bed-time. After the snow and ice and tempests of the Horn, the ship bowled northward into summer weather again, and the trip was a picnic once more.
Until the early morning of the 3rd of May. Computed position of the ship 112 degrees 10 minutes longitude, latitude 2 degrees above the equator; no wind, no sea–dead calm; temperature of the atmosphere, tropical, blistering, unimaginable by one who has not been roasted in it. There was a cry of fire. An unfaithful sailor had disobeyed the rules and gone into the booby-hatch with an open light to draw some varnish from a cask. The proper result followed, and the vessel’s hours were numbered.
There was not much time to spare, but the captain made the most of it. The three boats were launched–long-boat and two quarter-boats. That the time was very short and the hurry and excitement considerable is indicated by the fact that in launching the boats a hole was stove in the side of one of them by some sort of collision, and an oar driven through the side of another. The captain’s first care was to have four sick sailors brought up and placed on deck out of harm’s way–among them a ‘Portyghee.’ This man had not done a day’s work on the voyage, but had lain in his hammock four months nursing an abscess. When we were taking notes in the Honolulu hospital and a sailor told this to Mr. Burlingame, the third mate, who was lying near, raised his head with an effort, and in a weak voice made this correction–with solemnity and feeling:
‘Raising abscesses! He had a family of them. He done it to keep from standing his watch.’
Any provisions that lay handy were gathered up by the men and two passengers and brought and dumped on the deck where the ‘Portyghee’ lay; then they ran for more. The sailor who was telling this to Mr. Burlingame added:
‘We pulled together thirty-two days’ rations for the thirty-one men that way.’
The third mate lifted his head again and made another correction–with bitterness:
‘The “Portyghee” et twenty-two of them while he was soldiering there and nobody noticing. A damned hound.’
The fire spread with great rapidity. The smoke and flame drove the men back, and they had to stop their incomplete work of fetching provisions, and take to the boats with only ten days’ rations secured.
Each boat had a compass, a quadrant, a copy of Bowditch’s ‘Navigator,’ and a Nautical Almanac, and the captain’s and chief mate’s boats had chronometers. There were thirty-one men all told. The captain took an account of stock, with the following result: four hams, nearly thirty pounds of salt pork, half-box of raisins, one hundred pounds of bread, twelve two-pound cans of oysters, clams, and assorted meats, a keg containing four pounds of butter, twelve gallons of water in a forty- gallon ‘scuttle-butt’, four one-gallon demijohns full of water, three bottles of brandy (the property of passengers), some pipes, matches, and a hundred pounds of tobacco. No medicines. Of course the whole party had to go on short rations at once.
The captain and the two passengers kept diaries. On our voyage to San Francisco we ran into a calm in the middle of the Pacific, and did not move a rod during fourteen days; this gave me a chance to copy the diaries. Samuel Ferguson’s is the fullest; I will draw upon it now. When the following paragraph was written the doomed ship was about one hundred and twenty days out from port, and all hands were putting in the lazy time about as usual, as no one was forecasting disaster.
[Diary entry] May 2. Latitude 1 degree 28 minutes N., longitude 111 degrees 38 minutes W. Another hot and sluggish day; at one time, however, the clouds promised wind, and there came a slight breeze– just enough to keep us going. The only thing to chronicle to-day is the quantities of fish about; nine bonitos were caught this forenoon, and some large albacores seen. After dinner the first mate hooked a fellow which he could not hold, so he let the line go to the captain, who was on the bow. He, holding on, brought the fish to with a jerk, and snap went the line, hook and all. We also saw astern, swimming lazily after us, an enormous shark, which must have been nine or ten feet long. We tried him with all sorts of lines and a piece of pork, but he declined to take hold. I suppose he had appeased his appetite on the heads and other remains of the bonitos we had thrown overboard.
Next day’s entry records the disaster. The three boats got away, retired to a short distance, and stopped. The two injured ones were leaking badly; some of the men were kept busy baling, others patched the holes as well as they could. The captain, the two passengers, and eleven men were in the long-boat, with a share of the provisions and water, and with no room to spare, for the boat was only twenty-one feet long, six wide, and three deep. The chief mate and eight men were in one of the small boats, the second mate and seven men in the other. The passengers had saved no clothing but what they had on, excepting their overcoats. The ship, clothed in flame and sending up a vast column of black smoke into the sky, made a grand picture in the solitudes of the sea, and hour after hour the outcasts sat and watched it. Meantime the captain ciphered on the immensity of the distance that stretched between him and the nearest available land, and then scaled the rations down to meet the emergency; half a biscuit for dinner; one biscuit and some canned meat for dinner; half a biscuit for tea; a few swallows of water for each meal. And so hunger began to gnaw while the ship was still burning.
[Diary entry] May 4. The ship burned all night very brightly, and hopes are that some ship has seen the light and is bearing down upon us. None seen, however, this forenoon, so we have determined to go together north and a little west to some islands in 18 degrees or 19 degrees north latitude and 114 degrees to 115 degrees west longitude, hoping in the meantime to be picked up by some ship. The ship sank suddenly at about 5 A.M. We find the sun very hot and scorching, but all try to keep out of it as much as we can.
They did a quite natural thing now: waited several hours for that possible ship that might have seen the light to work her slow way to them through the nearly dead calm. Then they gave it up and set about their plans. If you will look at the map you will say that their course could be easily decided. Albemarle Island (Galapagos group) lies straight eastward nearly a thousand miles; the islands referred to in the diary as ‘some islands’ (Revillagigedo Islands) lie, as they think, in some widely uncertain region northward about one thousand miles and westward one hundred or one hundred and fifty miles. Acapulco, on the Mexican coast, lies about north-east something short of one thousand miles. You will say random rocks in the ocean are not what is wanted; let them strike for Acapulco and the solid continent. That does look like the rational course, but one presently guesses from the diaries that the thing would have been wholly irrational–indeed, suicidal. If the boats struck for Albemarle they would be in the doldrums all the way; and that means a watery perdition, with winds which are wholly crazy, and blow from all points of the compass at once and also perpendicularly. If the boats tried for Acapulco they would get out of the doldrums when half-way there–in case they ever got half-way–and then they would be in lamentable case, for there they would meet the north-east trades coming down in their teeth, and these boats were so rigged that they could not sail within eight points of the wind. So they wisely started northward, with a slight slant to the west. They had but ten days’ short allowance of food; the long-boat was towing the others; they could not depend on making any sort of definite progress in the doldrums, and they had four or five hundred miles of doldrums in front of them yet. They are the real equator, a tossing, roaring, rainy belt, ten or twelve hundred miles broad, which girdles the globe.
It rained hard the first night and all got drenched, but they filled up their water-butt. The brothers were in the stern with the captain, who steered. The quarters were cramped; no one got much sleep. ‘Kept on our course till squalls headed us off.’
Stormy and squally the next morning, with drenching rains. A heavy and dangerous ‘cobbling’ sea. One marvels how such boats could live in it. Is it called a feat of desperate daring when one man and a dog cross the Atlantic in a boat the size of a long-boat, and indeed it is; but this long-boat was overloaded with men and other plunder, and was only three feet deep. ‘We naturally thought often of all at home, and were glad to remember that it was Sacrament Sunday, and that prayers would go up from our friends for us, although they know not our peril.’
The captain got not even a cat-nap during the first three days and nights, but he got a few winks of sleep the fourth night. ‘The worst sea yet.’ About ten at night the captain changed his course and headed east-north-east, hoping to make Clipperton Rock. If he failed, no matter; he would be in a better position to make those other islands. I will mention here that he did not find that rock.
On May 8 no wind all day; sun blistering hot; they take to the oars. Plenty of dolphins, but they couldn’t catch any. ‘I think we are all beginning to realise more and more the awful situation we are in.’ ‘It often takes a ship a week to get through the doldrums; how much longer, then, such a craft as ours?’ ‘We are so crowded that we cannot stretch ourselves out for a good sleep, but have to take it any way we can get it.’
Of course this feature will grow more and more trying, but it will be human nature to cease to set it down; there will be five weeks of it yet –we must try to remember that for the diarist; it will make our beds the softer.
May 9 the sun gives him a warning: ‘Looking with both eyes, the horizon crossed thus +.’ ‘Henry keeps well, but broods over our troubles more than I wish he did.’ They caught two dolphins; they tasted well. ‘The captain believed the compass out of the way, but the long-invisible north star came out–a welcome sight–and endorsed the compass.’
May 10, ‘latitude 7 degrees 0 minutes 3 seconds N., longitude 111 degrees 32 minutes W.’ So they have made about three hundred miles of northing in the six days since they left the region of the lost ship. ‘Drifting in calms all day.’ And baking hot, of course; I have been down there, and I remember that detail. ‘Even as the captain says, all romance has long since vanished, and I think the most of us are beginning to look the fact of our awful situation full in the face.’ ‘We are making but little headway on our course.’ Bad news from the rearmost boat: the men are improvident; ‘they have eaten up all of the canned meats brought from the ship, and are now growing discontented.’ Not so with the chief mate’s people–they are evidently under the eye of a man.
Under date of May 11: ‘Standing still! or worse; we lost more last night than we made yesterday.’ In fact, they have lost three miles of the three hundred of northing they had so laboriously made. ‘The cock that was rescued and pitched into the boat while the ship was on fire still lives, and crows with the breaking of dawn, cheering us a good deal.’ What has he been living on for a week? Did the starving men feed him from their dire poverty? ‘The second mate’s boat out of water again, showing that they over-drink their allowance. The captain spoke pretty sharply to them.’ It is true: I have the remark in my old note-book; I got it of the third mate in the hospital at Honolulu. But there is not room for it here, and it is too combustible, anyway. Besides, the third mate admired it, and what he admired he was likely to enhance.
They were still watching hopefully for ships. The captain was a thoughtful man, and probably did not disclose on them that that was substantially a waste of time. ‘In this latitude the horizon is filled with little upright clouds that look very much like ships.’ Mr. Ferguson saved three bottles of brandy from his private stores when he left the ship, and the liquor came good in these days. ‘The captain serves out two tablespoonfuls of brandy and water–half and half–to our crew.’ He means the watch that is on duty; they stood regular watches–four hours on and four off. The chief mate was an excellent officer–a self- possessed, resolute, fine, all-round man. The diarist makes the following note–there is character in it: ‘I offered one bottle of brandy to the chief mate, but he declined, saying he could keep the after-boat quiet, and we had not enough for all.’
HENRY FERGUSON’S DIARY TO DATE, GIVEN IN FULL:
May 4, 5, 6, doldrums. May 7, 8, 9, doldrums. May 10, 11, 12, doldrums. Tells it all. Never saw, never felt, never heard, never experienced such heat, such darkness, such lightning and thunder, and wind and rain, in my life before.
That boy’s diary is of the economical sort that a person might properly be expected to keep in such circumstances–and be forgiven for the economy, too. His brother, perishing of consumption, hunger, thirst, blazing heat, drowning rains, loss of sleep, lack of exercise, was persistently faithful and circumstantial with his diary from the first day to the last–an instance of noteworthy fidelity and resolution. In spite of the tossing and plunging boat he wrote it close and fine, in a hand as easy to read as print. They can’t seem to get north of 7 degrees N.; they are still there the next day:
[Diary entry] May 12. A good rain last night, and we caught a good deal, though not enough to fill up our tank, pails, &c. Our object is to get out of these doldrums, but it seems as if we cannot do it. To-day we have had it very variable, and hope we are on the northern edge, thought we are not much above 7 degrees. This morning we all thought we had made out a sail; but it was one of those deceiving clouds. Rained a good deal to-day, making all hands wet and uncomfortable; we filled up pretty nearly all our water-pots, however. I hope we may have a fine night, for the captain certainly wants rest, and while there is any danger of squalls, or danger of any kind, he is always on hand. I never would have believed that open boats such as ours, with their loads, could live in some of the seas we have had.
During the night, 12th-13th, ‘the cry of A SHIP! brought us to our feet.’ It seemed to be the glimmer of a vessel’s signal-lantern rising out of the curve of the sea. There was a season of breathless hope while they stood watching, with their hands shading their eyes, and their hearts in their throats; then the promise failed: the light was a rising star. It is a long time ago–thirty-two years–and it doesn’t matter now, yet one is sorry for their disappointment. ‘Thought often of those at home to-day, and of the disappointment they will feel next Sunday at not hearing from us by telegraph from San Francisco.’ It will be many weeks yet before the telegram is received, and it will come as a thunderclap of joy then, and with the seeming of a miracle, for it will raise from the grave men mourned as dead. ‘To-day our rations were reduced to a quarter of a biscuit a meal, with about half a pint of water.’ This is on May 13, with more than a month of voyaging in front of them yet! However, as they do not know that, ‘we are all feeling pretty cheerful.’
In the afternoon of the 14th there was a thunderstorm, ‘which toward night seemed to close in around us on every side, making it very dark and squally.’ ‘Our situation is becoming more and more desperate,’ for they were making very little northing ‘and every day diminishes our small stock of provisions.’ They realise that the boats must soon separate, and each fight for its own life. Towing the quarter-boats is a hindering business.
That night and next day, light and baffling winds and but little progress. Hard to bear, that persistent standing still, and the food wasting away. ‘Everything in a perfect sop; and all so cramped, and no change of clothes.’ Soon the sun comes out and roasts them. ‘Joe caught another dolphin to-day; in his maw we found a flying-fish and two skipjacks.’ There is an event, now, which rouses an enthusiasm of hope: a land-bird arrives! It rests on the yard for awhile, and they can look at it all they like, and envy it, and thank it for its message. As a subject of talk it is beyond price–a fresh new topic for tongues tired to death of talking upon a single theme: Shall we ever see the land again; and when? Is the bird from Clipperton Rock? They hope so; and they take heart of grace to believe so. As it turned out the bird had no message; it merely came to mock.
May 16, ‘the cock still lives, and daily carols forth his praise.’ It will be a rainy night, ‘but I do not care if we can fill up our water-butts.’
On the 17th one of those majestic spectres of the deep, a water-spout, stalked by them, and they trembled for their lives. Young Henry set it down in his scanty journal with the judicious comment that ‘it might have been a fine sight from a ship.’
From Captain Mitchell’s log for this day: ‘Only half a bushel of bread-crumbs left.’ (And a month to wander the seas yet.’)
It rained all night and all day; everybody uncomfortable. Now came a sword-fish chasing a bonito; and the poor thing, seeking help and friends, took refuge under the rudder. The big sword-fish kept hovering around, scaring everybody badly. The men’s mouths watered for him, for he would have made a whole banquet; but no one dared to touch him, of course, for he would sink a boat promptly if molested. Providence protected the poor bonito from the cruel sword-fish. This was just and right. Providence next befriended the shipwrecked sailors: they got the bonito. This was also just and right. But in the distribution of mercies the sword-fish himself got overlooked. He now went away; to muse over these subtleties, probably. The men in all the boats seem pretty well; the feeblest of the sick ones (not able for a long time to stand his watch on board the ship) ‘is wonderfully recovered.’ This is the third mate’s detected ‘Portyghee’ that raised the family of abscesses.
Passed a most awful night. Rained hard nearly all the time, and blew in squalls, accompanied by terrific thunder and lightning from all points of the compass.–Henry’s Log.
Most awful night I ever witnessed.–Captain’s Log.
Latitude, May 18, 11 degrees 11 minutes. So they have averaged but forty miles of northing a day during the fortnight. Further talk of separating. ‘Too bad, but it must be done for the safety of the whole.’ ‘At first I never dreamed, but now hardly shut my eyes for a cat-nap without conjuring up something or other–to be accounted for by weakness, I suppose.’ But for their disaster they think they would be arriving in San Francisco about this time. ‘I should have liked to send B—the telegram for her birthday.’ This was a young sister.
On the 19th the captain called up the quarter-boats and said one would have to go off on its own hook. The long-boat could no longer tow both of them. The second mate refused to go, but the chief mate was ready; in fact, he was always ready when there was a man’s work to the fore. He took the second mate’s boat; six of its crew elected to remain, and two of his own crew came with him (nine in the boat, now, including himself). He sailed away, and toward sunset passed out of sight. The diarist was sorry to see him go. It was natural; one could have better spared the ‘Portyghee.’ After thirty-two years I find my prejudice against this ‘Portyghee’ reviving. His very looks have long passed out of my memory; but no matter, I am coming to hate him as religiously as ever. ‘Water will now be a scarce article, for as we get out of the doldrums we shall get showers only now and then in the trades. This life is telling severely on my strength. Henry holds out first-rate.’ Henry did not start well, but under hardships he improved straight along.
Latitude, Sunday, May 20, 12 degrees 0 minutes 9 seconds. They ought to be well out of the doldrums now, but they are not. No breeze–the longed-for trades still missing. They are still anxiously watching for a sail, but they have only ‘visions of ships that come to naught–the shadow without the substance.’ The second mate catches a booby this afternoon, a bird which consists mainly of feathers; ‘but as they have no other meat, it will go well.’
May 21, they strike the trades at last! The second mate catches three more boobies, and gives the long-boat one. Dinner ‘half a can of mincemeat divided up and served around, which strengthened us somewhat.’ They have to keep a man bailing all the time; the hole knocked in the boat when she was launched from the burning ship was never efficiently mended. ‘Heading about north-west now.’ They hope they have easting enough to make some of these indefinite isles. Failing that, they think they will be in a better position to be picked up. It was an infinitely slender chance, but the captain probably refrained from mentioning that.
The next day is to be an eventful one.
[Diary entry] May 22. Last night wind headed us off, so that part of the time we had to steer east-south-east and then west-north- west, and so on. This morning we were all startled by a cry of ‘SAIL HO!’ Sure enough, we could see it! And for a time we cut adrift from the second mate’s boat, and steered so as to attract its attention. This was about half-past five A.M. After sailing in a state of high excitement for almost twenty minutes we made it out to be the chief mate’s boat. Of course we were glad to see them and have them report all well; but still it was a bitter disappointment to us all. Now that we are in the trades it seems impossible to make northing enough to strike the isles. We have determined to do the best we can, and get in the route of vessels. Such being the determination, it became necessary to cast off the other boat, which, after a good deal of unpleasantness, was done, we again dividing water and stores, and taking Cox into our boat. This makes our number fifteen. The second mate’s crew wanted to all get in with us, and cast the other boat adrift. It was a very painful separation.
So these isles that they have struggled for so long and so hopefully have to be given up. What with lying birds that come to mock, and isles that are but a dream, and ‘visions of ships that come to naught,’ it is a pathetic time they are having, with much heartbreak in it. It was odd that the vanished boat, three days lost to sight in that vast solitude, should appear again. But it brought Cox–we can’t be certain why. But if it hadn’t, the diarist would never have seen the land again.
[Diary entry] Our chances as we go west increase in regard to being picked up, but each day our scanty fare is so much reduced. Without the fish, turtle, and birds sent us, I do not know how we should have got along. The other day I offered to read prayers morning and evening for the captain, and last night commenced. The men, although of various nationalities and religions, are very attentive, and always uncovered. May God grant my weak endeavour its issue!
Latitude, May 24, 14 degrees 18 minutes N. Five oysters apiece for dinner and three spoonfuls of juice, a gill of water, and a piece of biscuit the size of a silver dollar. ‘We are plainly getting weaker–God have mercy upon us all!’ That night heavy seas break over the weather side and make everybody wet and uncomfortable besides requiring constant baling.
Next day ‘nothing particular happened.’ Perhaps some of us would have regarded it differently. ‘Passed a spar, but not near enough to see what it was.’ They saw some whales blow; there were flying-fish skimming the seas, but none came aboard. Misty weather, with fine rain, very penetrating.
Latitude, May 26, 15 degrees 50 minutes. They caught a flying-fish and a booby, but had to eat them raw. ‘The men grow weaker, and, I think, despondent; they say very little, though.’ And so, to all the other imaginable and unimaginable horrors, silence is added–the muteness and brooding of coming despair. ‘It seems our best chance to get in the track of ships with the hope that some one will run near enough to our speck to see it.’ He hopes the other boards stood west and have been picked up. (They will never be heard of again in this world.)
[Diary entry] Sunday, May 27, Latitude 16 degrees 0 minutes 5 seconds; longitude, by chronometer, 117 degrees 22 minutes. Our fourth Sunday! When we left the ship we reckoned on having about ten days’ supplies, and now we hope to be able, by rigid economy, to make them last another week if possible. Last night the sea was comparatively quiet, but the wind headed us off to about west-north- west, which has been about our course all day to-day. Another flying-fish came aboard last night, and one more to-day–both small ones. No birds. A booby is a great catch, and a good large one makes a small dinner for the fifteen of us–that is, of course, as dinners go in the ‘Hornet’s’ long-boat. Tried this morning to read the full service to myself, with the Communion, but found it too much; am too weak, and get sleepy, and cannot give strict attention; so I put off half till this afternoon. I trust God will hear the prayers gone up for us at home to-day, and graciously answer them by sending us succour and help in this our season of deep distress.
The next day was ‘a good day for seeing a ship.’ But none was seen. The diarist ‘still feels pretty well,’ though very weak; his brother Henry ‘bears up and keeps his strength the best of any on board.’ ‘I do not feel despondent at all, for I fully trust that the Almighty will hear our and the home prayers, and He who suffers not a sparrow to fall sees and cares for us, His creatures.’
Considering the situation and circumstances, the record for next day, May 29, is one which has a surprise in it for those dull people who think that nothing but medicines and doctors can cure the sick. A little starvation can really do more for the average sick man than can the best medicines and the best doctors. I do not mean a restricted diet; I mean total abstention from food for one or two days. I speak from experience; starvation has been my cold and fever doctor for fifteen years, and has accomplished a cure in all instances. The third mate told me in Honolulu that the ‘Portyghee’ had lain in his hammock for months, raising his family of abscesses and feeding like a cannibal. We have seen that in spite of dreadful weather, deprivation of sleep, scorching, drenching, and all manner of miseries, thirteen days of starvation ‘wonderfully recovered’ him. There were four sailors down sick when the ship was burned. Twenty-five days of pitiless starvation have followed, and now we have this curious record: ‘All the men are hearty and strong; even the ones that were down sick are well, except poor Peter.’ When I wrote an article some months ago urging temporary abstention from food as a remedy for an inactive appetite and for disease, I was accused of jesting, but I was in earnest. ‘We are all wonderfully well and strong, comparatively speaking.’ On this day the starvation regime drew its belt a couple of buckle-holes tighter: the bread ration was reduced from the usual piece of cracker the size of a silver dollar to the half of that, and one meal was abolished from the daily three. This will weaken the men physically, but if there are any diseases of an ordinary sort left in them they will disappear.
Two quarts bread-crumbs left, one-third of a ham, three small cans of oysters, and twenty gallons of water.–Captain’s Log.
The hopeful tone of the diaries is persistent. It is remarkable. Look at the map and see where the boat is: latitude 16 degrees 44 minutes, longitude 119 degrees 20 minutes. It is more than two hundred miles west of the Revillagigedo Islands, so they are quite out of the question against the trades, rigged as this boat is. The nearest land available for such a boat is the American group, six hundred and fifty miles away, westward; still, there is no note of surrender, none even of discouragement! Yet, May 30, ‘we have now left: one can of oysters; three pounds of raisins; one can of soup; one-third of a ham; three pints of biscuit-crumbs.’
And fifteen starved men to live on it while they creep and crawl six hundred and fifty miles. ‘Somehow I feel much encouraged by this change of course (west by north) which we have made to-day.’ Six hundred and fifty miles on a hatful of provisions. Let us be thankful, even after thirty-two years, that they are mercifully ignorant of the fact that it isn’t six hundred and fifty that they must creep on the hatful, but twenty-two hundred!
Isn’t the situation romantic enough just as it stands? No. Providence added a startling detail: pulling an oar in that boat, for common seaman’s wages, was a banished duke–Danish. We hear no more of him; just that mention, that is all, with the simple remark added that ‘he is one of our best men’–a high enough compliment for a duke or any other man in those manhood-testing circumstances. With that little glimpse of him at his oar, and that fine word of praise, he vanishes out of our knowledge for all time. For all time, unless he should chance upon this note and reveal himself.
The last day of May is come. And now there is a disaster to report: think of it, reflect upon it, and try to understand how much it means, when you sit down with your family and pass your eye over your breakfast- table. Yesterday there were three pints of bread-crumbs; this morning the little bag is found open and some of the crumbs are missing. ‘We dislike to suspect any one of such a rascally act, but there is no question that this grave crime has been committed. Two days will certainly finish the remaining morsels. God grant us strength to reach the American group!’ The third mate told me in Honolulu that in these days the men remembered with bitterness that the ‘Portyghee’ had devoured twenty-two days’ rations while he lay waiting to be transferred from the burning ship, and that now they cursed him and swore an oath that if it came to cannibalism he should be the first to suffer for the rest.
[Diary entry] The captain has lost his glasses, and therefore he cannot read our pocket prayer-books as much as I think he would like, though he is not familiar with them.
Further of the captain: ‘He is a good man, and has been most kind to us– almost fatherly. He says that if he had been offered the command of the ship sooner he should have brought his two daughters with him.’ It makes one shudder yet to think how narrow an escape it was.
The two meals (rations) a day are as follows: fourteen raisins and a piece of cracker the size of a penny for tea; a gill of water, and a piece of ham and a piece of bread, each the size of a penny, for breakfast.–Captain’s Log.
He means a penny in thickness as well as in circumference. Samuel Ferguson’s diary says the ham was shaved ‘about as thin as it could be cut.’
[Diary entry] June 1. Last night and to-day sea very high and cobbling, breaking over and making us all wet and cold. Weather squally, and there is no doubt that only careful management–with God’s protecting care–preserved us through both the night and the day; and really it is most marvellous how every morsel that passes our lips is blessed to us. It makes me think daily of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Henry keeps up wonderfully, which is a great consolation to me. I somehow have great confidence, and hope that our afflictions will soon be ended, though we are running rapidly across the track of both outward and inward bound vessels, and away from them; our chief hope is a whaler, man-of-war, or some Australian ship. The isles we are steering for are put down in Bowditch, but on my map are said to be doubtful. God grant they may be there!
Hardest day yet.–Captain’s Log.
Doubtful! It was worse than that. A week later they sailed straight over them.
[Diary entry] June 2. Latitude 18 degrees 9 minutes. Squally, cloudy, a heavy sea…. I cannot help thinking of the cheerful and comfortable time we had aboard the ‘Hornet.’
Two days’ scanty supplies left–ten rations of water apiece and a little morsel of bread. BUT THE SUN SHINES AND GOD IS MERCIFUL.– Captain’s Log.
[Diary entry] Sunday, June 3. Latitude 17 degrees 54 minutes. Heavy sea all night, and from 4 A.M. very wet, the sea breaking over us in frequent sluices, and soaking everything aft, particularly. All day the sea has been very high, and it is a wonder that we are not swamped. Heaven grant that it may go down this evening! Our suspense and condition are getting terrible. I managed this morning to crawl, more than step, to the forward end of the boat, and was surprised to find that I was so weak, especially in the legs and knees. The sun has been out again, and I have dried some things, and hope for a better night.
June 4. Latitude 17 degrees 6 minutes, longitude 131 degrees 30 minutes. Shipped hardly any seas last night, and to-day the sea has gone down somewhat, although it is still too high for comfort, as we have an occasional reminder that water is wet. The sun has been out all day, and so we have had a good drying. I have been trying for the last ten or twelve days to get a pair of drawers dry enough to put on, and to-day at last succeeded. I mention this to show the state in which we have lived. If our chronometer is anywhere near right, we ought to see the American Isles to-morrow or next day. If there are not there, we have only the chance, for a few days, of a stray ship, for we cannot eke out the provisions more than five or six days longer, and our strength is failing very fast. I was much surprised to-day to note how my legs have wasted away above my knees: they are hardly thicker than my upper arm used to be. Still, I trust in God’s infinite mercy, and feel sure he will do what is best for us. To survive, as we have done, thirty-two days in an open boat, with only about ten days’ fair provisions for thirty-one men in the first place, and these divided twice subsequently, is more than mere unassisted HUMAN art and strength could have accomplished and endured.
Bread and raisins all gone.–Captain’s Log.
Men growing dreadfully discontented, and awful grumbling and unpleasant talk is arising. God save us from all strife of men; and if we must die now, take us himself, and not embitter our bitter death still more.–Henry’s Log.
[Diary entry] June 5. Quiet night and pretty comfortable day, though our sail and block show signs of failing, and need taking down–which latter is something of a job, as it requires the climbing of the mast. We also had news from forward, there being discontent and some threatening complaints of unfair allowances, etc., all as unreasonable as foolish; still, these things bid us be on our guard. I am getting miserably weak, but try to keep up the best I can. If we cannot find those isles we can only try to make north-west and get in the track of Sandwich Island-bound vessels, living as best we can in the meantime. To-day we changed to one meal, and that at about noon, with a small ration or water at 8 or 9 A.M., another at 12 A.M., and a third at 5 or 6 P.M.
Nothing left but a little piece of ham and a gill of water, all around.–Captain’s Log.
They are down to one meal a day now–such as it is–and fifteen hundred miles to crawl yet! And now the horrors deepen, and, though they escaped actual mutiny, the attitude of the men became alarming. Now we seem to see why that curious incident happened, so long ago; I mean Cox’s return, after he had been far away and out of sight several days in the chief mate’s boat. If he had not come back the captain and the two young passengers might have been slain, now, by these sailors, who were becoming crazed through their sufferings.
NOTE SECRETLY PASSED BY HENRY TO HIS BROTHER:
Cox told me last night that there is getting to be a good deal of ugly talk among the men against the captain and us aft. They say that the captain is the cause of all; that he did not try to save the ship at all, nor to get provisions, and that even would not let the men put in some they had; and that partiality is shown us in apportioning our rations aft. ….asked Cox the other day if he would starve first or eat human flesh. Cox answered he would starve. ….then told him he would only be killing himself. If we do not find those islands we would do well to prepare for anything. ….is the loudest of all.
We can depend on …., I think, and …., and Cox, can we not?
I guess so, and very likely on….; but there is no telling…. and Cox are certain. There is nothing definite said or hinted as yet, as I understand Cox; but starving men are the same as maniacs. It would be well to keep a watch on your pistol, so as to have it and the cartridges safe from theft.