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Mark Twain > Christian Science > Book II - Chapter IV

Christian Science

Book II - Chapter IV


It is often said in print that Mrs. Eddy claims that God was the Author
of Science and Health. Mr. Peabody states in his pamphlet that "she says
not she but God was the Author." I cannot find that in her autobiography
she makes this transference of the authorship, but I think that in it she
definitely claims that she did her work under His inspiration--definitely
for her; for as a rule she is not a very definite person, even when she
seems to be trying her best to be clear and positive. Speaking of the
early days when her Science was beginning to unfold itself and gather
form in her mind, she says (Autobiography, page 43):

"The divine hand led me into a new world of light and Life, a fresh
universe--old to God, but new to His 'little one.'"

She being His little one, as I understand it.

The divine hand led her. It seems to mean "God inspired me"; but when a
person uses metaphors instead of statistics--and that is Mrs. Eddy's
common fashion--one cannot always feel sure about the intention.

[Page 56.] "Even the Scripture gave no direct interpretation of the
Scientific basis for demonstrating the spiritual Principle of healing,
until our Heavenly Father saw fit, through the Key to the Scriptures, in
Science and Health, to unlock this 'mystery of godliness.'"

Another baffling metaphor. If she had used plain forecastle English, and
said "God wrote the Key and I put it in my book"; or if she had said "God
furnished me the solution of the mystery and I put it on paper"; or if
she had said "God did it all," then we should understand; but her phrase
is open to any and all of those translations, and is a Key which unlocks
nothing--for us. However, it seems to at least mean "God inspired me,"
if nothing more.

There was personal and intimate communion, at any rate we get that much
out of the riddles. The connection extended to business, after the
establishment of the teaching and healing industry.

[Page 71.] "When God impelled me to set a price on my instruction," etc.
Further down: "God has since shown me, in multitudinous ways, the wisdom
of this decision."

She was not able to think of a "financial equivalent"--meaning a
pecuniary equivalent--for her "instruction in Christian Science Mind-
healing." In this emergency she was "led" to charge three hundred
dollars for a term of "twelve half-days." She does not say who led her,
she only says that the amount greatly troubled her. I think it means
that the price was suggested from above, "led" being a theological term
identical with our commercial phrase "personally conducted." She "shrank
from asking it, but was finally led, by a strange providence, to accept
this fee." "Providence" is another theological term. Two leds and a
providence, taken together, make a pretty strong argument for
inspiration. I think that these statistics make it clear that the price
was arranged above. This view is constructively supported by the fact,
already quoted, that God afterwards approved, "in multitudinous ways,"
her wisdom in accepting the mentioned fee. "Multitudinous ways"--
multitudinous encoring--suggests enthusiasm. Business enthusiasm. And
it suggests nearness. God's nearness to his "little one." Nearness, and
a watchful personal interest. A warm, palpitating, Standard-Oil
interest, so to speak. All this indicates inspiration. We may assume,
then, two inspirations: one for the book, the other for the business.

The evidence for inspiration is further augmented by the testimony of
Rev. George Tomkins, D.D., already quoted, that Mrs. Eddy and her book
were foretold in Revelation, and that Mrs. Eddy "is God's brightest
thought to this age, giving us the spiritual interpretation of the Bible
in the 'little book'" of the Angel.

I am aware that it is not Mr. Tomkins that is speaking, but Mrs. Eddy.
The commissioned lecturers of the Christian Science Church have to be
members of the Board of Lectureship. (By-laws Sec. 2, p. 70.) The
Board of Lectureship is selected by the Board of Directors of the Church.
(By-laws, Sec. 3, p. 70.) The Board of Directors of the Church is the
property of Mrs. Eddy. (By-laws, p. 22.) Mr. Tomkins did not make that
statement without authorization from headquarters. He necessarily got it
from the Board of Directors, the Board of Directors from Mrs. Eddy, Mrs.
Eddy from the Deity. Mr. Tomkins would have been turned down by that
procession if his remarks had been unsatisfactory to it.

It may be that there is evidence somewhere--as has been claimed--that
Mrs. Eddy has charged upon the Deity the verbal authorship of Science and
Health. But if she ever made the charge, she has withdrawn it (as it
seems to me), and in the most formal and unqualified; of all ways. See
Autobiography, page 57:

"When the demand for this book increased . . . the copyright was
infringed. I entered a suit at Law, and my copyright was protected."

Thus it is plain that she did not plead that the Deity was the (verbal)
Author; for if she had done that, she would have lost her case--and with
rude promptness. It was in the old days before the Berne Convention and
before the passage of our amended law of 1891, and the court would have
quoted the following stern clause from the existing statute and frowned
her out of the place:

"No Foreigner can acquire copyright in the United States."

To sum up. The evidence before me indicates three things:

1. That Mrs. Eddy claims the verbal author ship for herself.
2. That she denies it to the Deity.
3. That--in her belief--she wrote the book under the inspiration of the
Deity, but furnished the language herself.

In one place in the Autobiography she claims both the language and the
ideas; but when this witness is testifying, one must draw the line
somewhere, or she will prove both sides of her case-nine sides, if
desired.

It is too true. Much too true. Many, many times too true. She is a
most trying witness--the most trying witness that ever kissed the Book, I
am sure. There is no keeping up with her erratic testimony. As soon as
you have got her share of the authorship nailed where you half hope and
half believe it will stay and cannot be joggled loose any more, she
joggles it loose again--or seems to; you cannot be sure, for her habit of
dealing in meaningless metaphors instead of in plain, straightforward
statistics, makes it nearly always impossible to tell just what it is she
is trying to say. She was definite when she claimed both the language
and the ideas of the book. That seemed to settle the matter. It seemed
to distribute the percentages of credit with precision between the
collaborators: ninety-two per cent. to Mrs. Eddy, who did all the work,
and eight per cent. to the Deity, who furnished the inspiration not
enough of it to damage the copyright in a country closed against
Foreigners, and yet plenty to advertise the book and market it at famine
rates. Then Mrs. Eddy does not keep still, but fetches around and comes
forward and testifies again. It is most injudicious. For she resorts to
metaphor this time, and it makes trouble, for she seems to reverse the
percentages and claim only the eight per cent. for her self. I quote
from Mr. Peabody's book (Eddyism, or Christian Science. Boston: 15 Court
Square, price twenty-five cents):

"Speaking of this book, Mrs. Eddy, in January last (1901) said: 'I should
blush to write of Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, as I
have, were it of human origin, and I, apart from God, its author; but as
I was only a scribe echoing the harmonies of Heaven in divine
metaphysics, I cannot be supermodest of the Christian Science text-
book."'

Mr. Peabody's comment:

"Nothing could be plainer than that. Here is a distinct avowal that the
book entitled Science and Health was the work of Almighty God."

It does seem to amount to that. She was only a "scribe." Confound the
word, it is just a confusion, it has no determinable meaning there, it
leaves us in the air. A scribe is merely a person who writes. He may be
a copyist, he may be an amanuensis, he may be a writer of originals, and
furnish both the language and the ideas. As usual with Mrs. Eddy, the
connection affords no help--"echoing" throws no light upon "scribe." A
rock can reflect an echo, a wall can do it, a mountain can do it, many
things can do it, but a scribe can't. A scribe that could reflect an
echo could get over thirty dollars a week in a side-show. Many
impresarios would rather have him than a cow with four tails. If we
allow that this present scribe was setting down the "harmonies of
Heaven"--and certainly that seems to have been the case then there was
only one way to do it that I can think of: listen to the music and put
down the notes one after another as they fell. In that case Mrs. Eddy
did not invent the tune, she only entered it on paper. Therefore
dropping the metaphor--she was merely an amanuensis, and furnished
neither the language of Science and Health nor the ideas. It reduces her
to eight per cent. (and the dividends on that and the rest).

Is that it? We shall never know. For Mrs. Eddy is liable to testify
again at any time. But until she does it, I think we must conclude that
the Deity was Author of the whole book, and Mrs. Eddy merely His
telephone and stenographer. Granting this, her claim as the Voice of God
stands-for the present--justified and established.




POSTSCRIPT

I overlooked something. It appears that there was more of that utterance
than Mr. Peabody has quoted in the above paragraph. It will be found in
Mrs. Eddy's organ, the Christian Science Journal (January, 1901) and
reads as follows:

"It was not myself . . . which dictated Science and Health, with Key
to the Scriptures."

That is certainly clear enough. The words which I have removed from that
important sentence explain Who it was that did the dictating. It was
done by

"the divine power of Truth and Love, infinitely above me."

Certainly that is definite. At last, through her personal testimony, we
have a sure grip upon the following vital facts, and they settle the
authorship of Science and Health beyond peradventure:

1. Mrs. Eddy furnished "the ideas and the language."
2. God furnished the ideas and the language.

It is a great comfort to have the matter authoritatively settled.

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