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Mark Twain > Christian Science > Book II - Chapter VIII

Christian Science

Book II - Chapter VIII


I think that any one who will carefully examine the By-laws (I have
placed all of the important ones before the reader), will arrive at the
conclusion that of late years the master-passion in Mrs. Eddy's heart is
a hunger for power and glory; and that while her hunger for money still
remains, she wants it now for the expansion and extension it can furnish
to that power and glory, rather than what it can do for her towards
satisfying minor and meaner ambitions.

I wish to enlarge a little upon this matter. I think it is quite clear
that the reason why Mrs. Eddy has concentrated in herself all powers, all
distinctions, all revenues that are within the command of the Christian
Science Church Universal is that she desires and intends to devote them
to the purpose just suggested--the upbuilding of her personal glory--
hers, and no one else's; that, and the continuing of her name's glory
after she shall have passed away. If she has overlooked a single power,
howsoever minute, I cannot discover it. If she has found one, large or
small, which she has not seized and made her own, there is no record of
it, no trace of it. In her foragings and depredations she usually puts
forward the Mother-Church--a lay figure--and hides behind it. Whereas,
she is in manifest reality the Mother-Church herself. It has an
impressive array of officials, and committees, and Boards of Direction,
of Education, of Lectureship, and so on--geldings, every one, shadows,
spectres, apparitions, wax-figures: she is supreme over them all, she can
abolish them when she will; blow them out as she would a candle. She is
herself the Mother-Church. Now there is one By-law which says that the
Mother-Church:

"shall be officially controlled by no other church."

That does not surprise us--we know by the rest of the By-laws that that
is a quite irrelevant remark. Yet we do vaguely and hazily wonder why
she takes the trouble to say it; why she wastes the words; what her
object can be--seeing that that emergency has been in so many, many ways,
and so effectively and drastically barred off and made impossible. Then
presently the object begins to dawn upon us. That is, it does after we
have read the rest of the By-law three or four times, wondering and
admiring to see Mrs. Eddy--Mrs. Eddy--Mrs. Eddy, of all persons--throwing
away power!--making a fair exchange--doing a fair thing for once more,
an almost generous thing! Then we look it through yet once more
unsatisfied, a little suspicious--and find that it is nothing but a sly,
thin make-believe, and that even the very title of it is a sarcasm and
embodies a falsehood--"self" government:

"Local Self-Government. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Boston, Massachusetts, shall assume no official control of other churches
of this denomination. It shall be officially controlled by no other
church."

It has a most pious and deceptive give-and-take air of perfect fairness,
unselfishness, magnanimity--almost godliness, indeed. But it is all art.


In the By-laws, Mrs. Eddy, speaking by the mouth of her other self, the
Mother-Church, proclaims that she will assume no official control of
other churches-branch churches. We examine the other By-laws, and they
answer some important questions for us:

1. What is a branch Church? It is a body of Christian Scientists,
organized in the one and only permissible way--by a member, in good
standing, of the Mother-Church, and who is also a pupil of one of Mrs.
Eddy's accredited students. That is to say, one of her properties. No
other can do it. There are other indispensable requisites; what are
they?

2. The new Church cannot enter upon its functions until its members have
individually signed, and pledged allegiance to, a Creed furnished by Mrs.
Eddy.

3. They are obliged to study her books, and order their lives by them.
And they must read no outside religious works.

4. They must sing the hymns and pray the prayers provided by her, and
use no others in the services, except by her permission.

5. They cannot have preachers and pastors. Her law.

6. In their Church they must have two Readers--a man and a woman.

7. They must read the services framed and appointed by her.

8. She--not the branch Church--appoints those Readers.

9. She--not the branch Church--dismisses them and fills the vacancies.

1O. She can do this without consulting the branch Church, and without
explaining.

11. The branch Church can have a religious lecture from time to time.
By applying to Mrs. Eddy. There is no other way.

12. But the branch Church cannot select the lecturer. Mrs. Eddy does
it.

13. The branch Church pays his fee.

14. The harnessing of all Christian Science wedding-teams, members of
the branch Church, must be done by duly authorized and consecrated
Christian Science functionaries. Her factory is the only one that makes
and licenses them.

[15. Nothing is said about christenings. It is inferable from this that
a Christian Science child is born a Christian Scientist and requires no
tinkering.]

[16. Nothing is said about funerals. It is inferable, then, that a
branch Church is privileged to do in that matter as it may choose.]

To sum up. Are any important Church-functions absent from the list? I
cannot call any to mind. Are there any lacking ones whose exercise could
make the branch in any noticeable way independent of the Mother. Church?
--even in any trifling degree? I think of none. If the named functions
were abolished would there still be a Church left? Would there be even a
shadow of a Church left? Would there be anything at all left? even the
bare name?

Manifestly not. There isn't a single vital and essential Church-function
of any kind, that is not named in the list. And over every one of them
the Mother-Church has permanent and unchallengeable control, upon every
one of them Mrs. Eddy has set her irremovable grip. She holds, in
perpetuity, autocratic and indisputable sovereignty and control over
every branch Church in the earth; and yet says, in that sugary, naive,
angel-beguiling way of hers, that the Mother-Church:

"shall assume no official control of other churches of this
denomination."

Whereas in truth the unmeddled-with liberties of a branch Christian
Science Church are but very, very few in number, and are these:

1. It can appoint its own furnace-stoker, winters.
2. It can appoint its own fan-distributors, summers.
3. It can, in accordance with its own choice in the matter, burn, bury,
or preserve members who are pretending to be dead--whereas there is no
such thing as death.
4. It can take up a collection.

The branch Churches have no important liberties, none that give them an
important voice in their own affairs. Those are all locked up, and Mrs.
Eddy has the key. "Local Self-Government" is a large name and sounds
well; but the branch Churches have no more of it than have the privates
in the King of Dahomey's army.




"MOTHER-CHURCH UNIQUE"

Mrs. Eddy, with an envious and admiring eye upon the solitary and
rivalless and world-shadowing majesty of St. Peter's, reveals in her By-
laws her purpose to set the Mother-Church apart by itself in a stately
seclusion and make it duplicate that lone sublimity under the Western
sky. The By-law headed "Mother-Church Unique "says--

"In its relation to other Christian Science churches, the Mother-Church
stands alone.

"It occupies a position that no other Church can fill.

"Then for a branch Church to assume such position would be disastrous to
Christian Science,

"Therefore--"

Therefore no branch Church is allowed to have branches. There shall be
no Christian Science St. Peter's in the earth but just one--the Mother-
Church in Boston.




"NO FIRST MEMBERS"

But for the thoughtful By-law thus entitled, every Science branch in the
earth would imitate the Mother-Church and set up an aristocracy. Every
little group of ground-floor Smiths and Furgusons and Shadwells and
Simpsons that organized a branch would assume that great title, of "First
Members," along with its vast privileges of "discussing" the weather and
casting blank ballots, and soon there would be such a locust-plague of
them burdening the globe that the title would lose its value and have to
be abolished.

But where business and glory are concerned, Mrs. Eddy thinks of
everything, and so she did not fail to take care of her Aborigines, her
stately and exclusive One Hundred, her college of functionless cardinals,
her Sanhedrin of Privileged Talkers (Limited). After taking away all the
liberties of the branch Churches, and in the same breath disclaiming all
official control over their affairs, she smites them on the mouth with
this--the very mouth that was watering for those nobby ground-floor
honors--

"No First Members. Branch Churches shall not organize with First
Members, that special method of organization being adapted to the Mother-
Church alone."

And so, first members being prohibited, we pierce through the cloud of
Mrs. Eddy's English and perceive that they must then necessarily organize
with Subsequent Members. There is no other way. It will occur to them
by-and-by to found an aristocracy of Early Subsequent Members. There is
no By-law against it.




"THE"

I uncover to that imperial word. And to the mind, too, that conceived
the idea of seizing and monopolizing it as a title. I believe it is Mrs.
Eddy's dazzlingest invention. For show, and style, and grandeur, and
thunder and lightning and fireworks it outclasses all the previous
inventions of man, and raises the limit on the Pope. He can never put
his avid hand on that word of words--it is pre-empted. And copyrighted,
of course. It lifts the Mother-Church away up in the sky, and
fellowships it with the rare and select and exclusive little company of
the THE's of deathless glory--persons and things whereof history and the
ages could furnish only single examples, not two: the Saviour, the
Virgin, the Milky Way, the Bible, the Earth, the Equator, the Devil, the
Missing Link--and now The First Church, Scientist. And by clamor of
edict and By-law Mrs. Eddy gives personal notice to all branch Scientist
Churches on this planet to leave that THE alone.

She has demonstrated over it and made it sacred to the Mother-Church:

"The article 'The' must not be used before the titles of branch
Churches--

"Nor written on applications for membership in naming such churches."

Those are the terms. There can and will be a million First Churches of
Christ, Scientist, scattered over the world, in a million towns and
villages and hamlets and cities, and each may call itself (suppressing
the article), "First Church of Christ. Scientist"--it is permissible,
and no harm; but there is only one The Church of Christ, Scientist, and
there will never be another. And whether that great word fall in the
middle of a sentence or at the beginning of it, it must always have its
capital T.

I do not suppose that a juvenile passion for fussy little worldly shows
and vanities can furnish a match to this, anywhere in the history of the
nursery. Mrs. Eddy does seem to be a shade fonder of little special
distinctions and pomps than is usual with human beings.

She instituted that immodest "The" with her own hand; she did not wait
for somebody else to think of it.




A LIFE-TERM MONOPOLY

There is but one human Pastor in the whole Christian Science world; she
reserves that exalted place to herself.




A PERPETUAL ONE

There is but one other object in the whole Christian Science world
honored with that title and holding that office: it is her book, the
Annex--permanent Pastor of The First Church, and of all branch Churches.

With her own hand she draughted the By-laws which make her the only
really absolute sovereign that lives to-day in Christendom.

She does not allow any objectionable pictures to be exhibited in the room
where her book is sold, nor any indulgence in idle gossip there; and from
the general look of that By-law I judge that a lightsome and improper
person can be as uncomfortable in that place as he could be in heaven.




THE SANCTUM SANCTORUM AND SACRED CHAIR

In a room in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, there is a museum of
objects which have attained to holiness through contact with Mrs. Eddy--
among them an electrically lighted oil-picture of a chair which she used
to sit in--and disciples from all about the world go softly in there, in
restricted groups, under proper guard, and reverently gaze upon those
relics. It is worship. Mrs. Eddy could stop it if she was not fond of
it, for her sovereignty over that temple is supreme.

The fitting-up of that place as a shrine is not an accident, nor a
casual, unweighed idea; it is imitated from age--old religious custom.
In Treves the pilgrim reverently gazes upon the Seamless Robe, and humbly
worships; and does the same in that other continental church where they
keep a duplicate; and does likewise in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,
in Jerusalem, where memorials of the Crucifixion are preserved; and now,
by good fortune we have our Holy Chair and things, and a market for our
adorations nearer home.

But is there not a detail that is new, fresh, original? Yes, whatever
old thing Mrs. Eddy touches gets something new by the contact--something
not thought of before by any one--something original, all her own, and
copyrightable. The new feature is self worship--exhibited in permitting
this shrine to be installed during her lifetime, and winking her sacred
eye at it.

A prominent Christian Scientist has assured me that the Scientists do not
worship Mrs. Eddy, and I think it likely that there may be five or six of
the cult in the world who do not worship her, but she herself is
certainly not of that company. Any healthy-minded person who will
examine Mrs. Eddy's little Autobiography and the Manual of By-laws
written by her will be convinced that she worships herself; and that she
brings to this service a fervor of devotion surpassing even that which
she formerly laid at the feet of the Dollar, and equalling any which
rises to the Throne of Grace from any quarter.

I think this is as good a place as any to salve a hurt which I was the
means of inflicting upon a Christian Scientist lately. The first third
of this book was written in 1899 in Vienna. Until last summer I had
supposed that that third had been printed in a book which I published
about a year later--a hap which had not happened. I then sent the
chapters composing it to the North American Review, but failed. in one
instance, to date them. And so, In an undated chapter I said a lady told
me "last night" so and so. There was nothing to indicate to the reader
that that "last night" was several years old, therefore the phrase seemed
to refer to a night of very recent date. What the lady had told me was,
that in a part of the Mother-Church in Boston she had seen Scientists
worshipping a portrait of Mrs. Eddy before which a light was kept
constantly burning.

A Scientist came to me and wished me to retract that "untruth." He said
there was no such portrait, and that if I wanted to be sure of it I could
go to Boston and see for myself. I explained that my "last night" meant
a good while ago; that I did not doubt his assertion that there was no
such portrait there now, but that I should continue to believe it had
been there at the time of the lady's visit until she should retract her
statement herself. I was at no time vouching for the truth of the
remark, nevertheless I considered it worth par.

And yet I am sorry the lady told me, since a wound which brings me no
happiness has resulted. I am most willing to apply such salve as I can.
The best way to set the matter right and make everything pleasant and
agreeable all around will be to print in this place a description of the
shrine as it appeared to a recent visitor, Mr. Frederick W. Peabody, of
Boston. I will copy his newspaper account, and the reader will see that
Mrs. Eddy's portrait is not there now:

"We lately stood on the threshold of the Holy of Holies of the Mother-
Church, and with a crowd of worshippers patiently waited for admittance
to the hallowed precincts of the 'Mother's Room.' Over the doorway was a
sign informing us that but four persons at a time would be admitted; that
they would be permitted to remain but five minutes only, and would please
retire from the 'Mother's Room' at the ringing of the bell. Entering
with three of the faithful, we looked with profane eyes upon the
consecrated furnishings. A show-woman in attendance monotonously
announced the character of the different appointments. Set in a recess
of the wall and illumined with electric light was an oil-painting the
show-woman seriously declared to be a lifelike and realistic picture of
the Chair in which the Mother sat when she composed her 'inspired' work.
It was a picture of an old-fashioned? country, hair cloth rocking-chair,
and an exceedingly commonplace-looking table with a pile of manuscript,
an ink-bottle, and pen conspicuously upon it. On the floor were sheets
of manuscript. 'The mantel-piece is of pure onyx,' continued the show-
woman, 'and the beehive upon the window-sill is made from one solid block
of onyx; the rug is made of a hundred breasts of eider-down ducks, and
the toilet-room you see in the corner is of the latest design, with gold-
plated drain-pipes; the painted windows are from the Mother's poem,
"Christ and Christmas," and that case contains complete copies of all the
Mother's books.' The chairs upon which the sacred person of the Mother
had reposed were protected from sacrilegious touch by a broad band of
satin ribbon. My companions expressed their admiration in subdued and
reverent tones, and at the tinkling of the bell we reverently tiptoed out
of the room to admit another delegation of the patient waiters at the
door."

Now, then, I hope the wound is healed. I am willing to relinquish the
portrait, and compromise on the Chair. At the same time, if I were going
to worship either, I should not choose the Chair.

As a picturesquely and persistently interesting personage, there is no
mate to Mrs. Eddy, the accepted Equal of the Saviour. But some of her
tastes are so different from His! I find it quite impossible to imagine
Him, in life, standing sponsor for that museum there, and taking pleasure
in its sumptuous shows. I believe He would put that Chair in the fire,
and the bell along with it; and I think He would make the show-woman go
away. I think He would break those electric bulbs, and the "mantel-piece
of pure onyx," and say reproachful things about the golden drain-pipes of
the lavatory, and give the costly rug of duck-breasts to the poor, and
sever the satin ribbon and invite the weary to rest and ease their aches
in the consecrated chairs. What He would do with the painted windows we
can better conjecture when we come presently to examine their
peculiarities.




THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE PASTOR-UNIVERSAL

When Mrs. Eddy turned the pastors out of all the Christian Science
churches and abolished the office for all time as far as human occupancy
is concerned--she appointed the Holy Ghost to fill their place. If this
language be blasphemous, I did not invent the blasphemy, I am merely
stating a fact. I will quote from page 227 of Science and Health
(edition 1899), as a first step towards an explanation of this startling
matter--a passage which sets forth and classifies the Christian Science
Trinity:

"Life, Truth, and Love constitute the triune God, or triply divine
Principle. They represent a trinity in unity, three in one--the same in
essence, though multiform in office: God the Father; Christ the type of
Sonship; Divine Science, or the Holy Comforter. . .

"The Holy Ghost, or Spirit, reveals this triune Principle, and (the Holy
Ghost) is expressed in Divine Science, which is the Comforter, leading
into all Truth, and revealing the divine Principle of the universe--
universal and perpetual harmony."

I will cite another passage. Speaking of Jesus--

"His students then received the Holy Ghost. By this is meant, that by
all they had witnessed and suffered they were roused to an enlarged
understanding of Divine Science, even to the spiritual interpretation . .
. . . of His teachings," etc.

Also, page 579, in the chapter called the Glossary:

"HOLY GHOST. Divine Science; the developments of Life, Truth, and Love."

The Holy Ghost reveals the massed spirit of the fused trinity; this
massed spirit is expressed in Divine Science, and is the Comforter;
Divine Science conveys to men the "spiritual interpretation" of the
Saviour's teachings. That seems to be the meaning of the quoted
passages.

Divine Science is Christian Science; the book Science and Health is a
"revelation" of the whole spirit of the Trinity, and is therefore "The
Holy Ghost"; it conveys to men the "spiritual interpretation" of the
Bible's teachings. and therefore is "the Comforter."

I do not find this analyzing work easy, I would rather saw wood; and a
person can never tell whether he has added up a Science and Health sum
right or not, anyway, after all his trouble. Neither can he easily find
out whether the texts are still on the market or have been discarded from
the Book; for two hundred and fifty-eight editions of it have been
issued, and no two editions seem to be alike. The annual changes--in
technical terminology; in matter and wording; in transpositions of
chapters and verses; in leaving out old chapters and verses and putting
in new ones--seem to be next to innumerable, and as there is no index,
there is no way to find a thing one wants without reading the book
through. If ever I inspire a Bible-Annex I will not rush at it in a
half-digested, helter-skelter way and have to put in thirty-eight years
trying to get some of it the way I want it, I will sit down and think it
out and know what it is I want to say before I begin. An inspirer cannot
inspire for Mrs. Eddy and keep his reputation. I have never seen such
slipshod work, bar the ten that interpreted for the home market the "sell
all thou hast." I have quoted one "spiritual" rendering of the Lord's
Prayer, I have seen one other one, and am told there are five more. Yet
the inspirer of Mrs. Eddy the new Infallible casts a complacent critical
stone at the other Infallible for being unable to make up its mind about
such things. Science and Health, edition 1899, page 33:

"The decisions, by vote of Church Councils, as to what should and should
not be considered Holy Writ, the manifest mistakes in the ancient
versions: the thirty thousand different readings in the Old Testament and
the three hundred thousand in the New--these facts show how a mortal and
material sense stole into the divine record, darkening, to some extent,
the inspired pages with its own hue."

To some extent, yes--speaking cautiously. But it is nothing, really
nothing; Mrs. Eddy is only a little way behind, and if her inspirer lives
to get her Annex to suit him that Catholic record will have to "go 'way
back and set down," as the ballad says. Listen to the boastful song of
Mrs. Eddy's organ, the Christian Science Journal for March, 1902, about
that year's revamping and half-soling of Science and Health, whose
official name is the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, and who is now the
Official Pastor and Infallible and Unerring Guide of every Christian
Science church in the two hemispheres, hear Simple Simon that met the
pieman brag of the Infallible's fallibility:

"Throughout the entire book the verbal changes are so numerous as to
indicate the vast amount of time and labor Mrs. Eddy has devoted to this
revision. The time and labor thus bestowed is relatively as great as
that of--the committee who revised the Bible.... Thus we have
additional evidence of the herculean efforts our beloved Leader has made
and is constantly making for the promulgation of Truth and the
furtherance of her divinely bestowed mission," etc.

It is a steady job. I could help inspire if desired; I am not doing much
now, and would work for half-price, and should not object to the country.




PRICE OF THE PASTOR-UNIVERSAL

The price of the Pastor-Universal, Science and Health, called in Science
literature the Comforter--and by that other sacred Name--is three
dollars in cloth, as heretofore, six when it is finely bound, and shaped
to imitate the Testament, and is broken into verses. Margin of profit
above cost of manufacture, from five hundred to seven hundred per cent.,
as already noted In the profane subscription-trade, it costs the
publisher heavily to canvass a three-dollar book; he must pay the general
agent sixty per cent. commission--that is to say, one dollar and eighty-
cents. Mrs. Eddy escapes this blistering tax, because she owns the
Christian Science canvasser, and can compel him to work for nothing.
Read the following command--not request--fulminated by Mrs. Eddy, over
her signature, in the Christian Science Journal for March, 1897, and
quoted by Mr. Peabody in his book. The book referred to is Science and
Health:

"It shall be the duty of all Christian Scientists to circulate and to
sell as many of these books as they can."

That is flung at all the elect, everywhere that the sun shines, but no
penalty is shaken over their heads to scare them. The same command was
issued to the members (numbering to-day twenty-five thousand) of The
Mother-Church, also, but with it went a threat, of the infliction, in
case of disobedience, of the most dreaded punishment that has a place in
the Church's list of penalties for transgressions of Mrs. Eddy's edicts
--excommunication:

"If a member of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, shall fail to obey
this injunction, it will render him liable to lose his membership in this
Church. MARY BAKER EDDY."

It is the spirit of the Spanish Inquisition.

None but accepted and well established gods can venture an affront like
that and do it with confidence. But the human race will take anything
from that class. Mrs. Eddy knows the human race; knows it better than
any mere human being has known it in a thousand centuries. My confidence
in her human-beingship is getting shaken, my confidence in her godship is
stiffening.




SEVEN HUNDRED PER CENT.

A Scientist out West has visited a bookseller--with intent to find fault
with me--and has brought away the information that the price at which
Mrs. Eddy sells Science and Health is not an unusually high one for the
size and make of the book. That is true. But in the book-trade--that
profit-devourer unknown to Mrs. Eddy's book--a three-dollar book that is
made for thirty-five or forty cents in large editions is put at three
dollars because the publisher has to pay author, middleman, and
advertising, and if the price were much below three the profit accruing
would not pay him fairly for his time and labor. At the same time, if he
could get ten dollars for the book he would take it, and his morals would
not fall under criticism.

But if he were an inspired person commissioned by the Deity to receive
and print and spread broadcast among sorrowing and suffering and poor men
a precious message of healing and cheer and salvation, he would have to
do as Bible Societies do--sell the book at a pinched margin above cost to
such as could pay, and give it free to all that couldn't; and his name
would be praised. But if he sold it at seven hundred per cent. profit
and put the money in his pocket, his name would be mocked and derided.
Just as Mrs. Eddy's is. And most justifiably, as it seems to me.

The complete Bible contains one million words. The New Testament by
itself contains two hundred and forty thousand words.

My '84 edition of Science and Health contains one hundred and twenty
thousand words--just half as many as the New Testament.

Science and Health has since been so inflated by later inspirations that
the 1902 edition contains one hundred and eighty thousand words--not
counting the thirty thousand at the back, devoted by Mrs. Eddy to
advertising the book's healing abilities--and the inspiring continues
right along.

If you have a book whose market is so sure and so great that you can give
a printer an everlasting order for thirty or forty or fifty thousand
copies a year he will furnish them at a cheap rate, because whenever
there is a slack time in his press-room and bindery he can fill the idle
intervals on your book and be making something instead of losing. That
is the kind of contract that can be let on Science and Health every year.
I am obliged to doubt that the three-dollar Science and Health costs Mrs.
Eddy above fifteen cents, or that the six dollar copy costs her above
eighty cents. I feel quite sure that the average profit to her on these
books, above cost of manufacture, is all of seven hundred per cent.

Every proper Christian Scientist has to buy and own (and canvass for)
Science and Health (one hundred and eighty thousand words), and he must
also own a Bible (one million words). He can buy the one for from three
to six dollars, and the other for fifteen cents. Or, if three dollars is
all the money he has, he can get his Bible for nothing. When the Supreme
Being disseminates a saving Message through uninspired agents--the New
Testament, for instance--it can be done for five cents a copy, but when
He sends one containing only two-thirds as many words through the shop of
a Divine Personage, it costs sixty times as much. I think that in
matters of such importance it is bad economy to employ a wild-cat agency.

Here are some figures which are perfectly authentic, and which seem to
justify my opinion.

"These [Bible] societies, inspired only by a sense of religious duty, are
issuing the Bible at a price so small that they have made it the cheapest
book printed. For example, the American Bible Society offers an edition
of the whole Bible as low as fifteen cents and the New Testament at five
cents, and the British Society at sixpence and one penny, respectively.
These low prices, made possible by their policy of selling the books at
cost or below cost," etc.--New York Sun, February 25, 1903.

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