Christian Science by Mark Twain
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.
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 (I901) 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.
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, I901) 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."
It is a great comfort to have the matter authoritatively settled.