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Christian Science

Mark Twain

  Christian Science

  Mark Twain


  by Mark Twain


  Book I of this volume occupies a quarter or a third of the volume, and consists of matter written about four years ago, but not hitherto published in book form. It contained errors of judgment and of fact. I have now corrected these to the best of my ability and later knowledge.

  Book II was written at the beginning of 1903, and has not until now appeared in any form. In it my purpose has been to present a character-portrait of Mrs. Eddy, drawn from her own acts and words solely, not from hearsay and rumor; and to explain the nature and scope of her Monarchy, as revealed in the Laws by which she governs it, and which she wrote herself.


  NEW YORK. January, 1907.



  "It is the first time since the dawn-days of Creation that

  a Voice has gone crashing through space with such

  placid and complacent confidence and command."


  VIENNA 1899.

  This last summer, when I was on my way back to Vienna from the Appetite-Cure in the mountains, I fell over a cliff in the twilight, and broke some arms and legs and one thing or another, and by good luck was found by some peasants who had lost an ass, and they carried me to the nearest habitation, which was one of those large, low, thatch-roofed farm-houses, with apartments in the garret for the family, and a cunning little porch under the deep gable decorated with boxes of bright colored flowers and cats; on the ground floor a large and light sitting-room, separated from the milch-cattle apartment by a partition; and in the front yard rose stately and fine the wealth and pride of the house, the manure-pile. That sentence is Germanic, and shows that I am acquiring that sort of mastery of the art and spirit of the language which enables a man to travel all day in one sentence without changing cars.

  There was a village a mile away, and a horse doctor lived there, but there was no surgeon. It seemed a bad outlook; mine was distinctly a surgery case. Then it was remembered that a lady from Boston was summering in that village, and she was a Christian Science doctor and could cure anything. So she was sent for. It was night by this time, and she could not conveniently come, but sent word that it was no matter, there was no hurry, she would give me "absent treatment" now, and come in the morning; meantime she begged me to make myself tranquil and comfortable and remember that there was nothing the matter with me. I thought there must be some mistake.

  "Did you tell her I walked off a cliff seventy-five feet high?"


  "And struck a boulder at the bottom and bounced?"


  "And struck another one and bounced again?"


  "And struck another one and bounced yet again?"


  "And broke the boulders?"


  "That accounts for it; she is thinking of the boulders. Why didn't you tell her I got hurt, too?"

  "I did. I told her what you told me to tell her: that you were now but an incoherent series of compound fractures extending from your scalp-lock to your heels, and that the comminuted projections caused you to look like a hat-rack."

  "And it was after this that she wished me to remember that there was nothing the matter with me?"

  "Those were her words."

  "I do not understand it. I believe she has not diagnosed the case with sufficient care. Did she look like a person who was theorizing, or did she look like one who has fallen off precipices herself and brings to the aid of abstract science the confirmations of personal experience?"


  It was too large a contract for the Stubenmadchen's vocabulary; she couldn't call the hand. I allowed the subject to rest there, and asked for something to eat and smoke, and something hot to drink, and a basket to pile my legs in; but I could not have any of these things.


  "She said you would need nothing at all."

  "But I am hungry and thirsty, and in desperate pain."

  "She said you would have these delusions, but must pay no attention to them. She wants you to particularly remember that there are no such things as hunger and thirst and pain.''

  "She does does she?"

  "It is what she said."

  "Does she seem to be in full and functionable possession of her intellectual plant, such as it is?"


  "Do they let her run at large, or do they tie her up?"

  "Tie her up?"

  "There, good-night, run along, you are a good girl, but your mental Geschirr is not arranged for light and airy conversation. Leave me to my delusions."


  It was a night of anguish, of course—at least, I supposed it was, for it had all the symptoms of it—but it passed at last, and the Christian Scientist came, and I was glad She was middle-aged, and large and bony, and erect, and had an austere face and a resolute jaw and a Roman beak and was a widow in the third degree, and her name was Fuller. I was eager to get to business and find relief, but she was distressingly deliberate. She unpinned and unhooked and uncoupled her upholsteries one by one, abolished the wrinkles with a flirt of her hand, and hung the articles up; peeled off her gloves and disposed of them, got a book out of her hand-bag, then drew a chair to the bedside, descended into it without hurry, and I hung out my tongue. She said, with pity but without passion:

  "Return it to its receptacle. We deal with the mind only, not with its dumb servants."

  I could not offer my pulse, because the connection was broken; but she detected the apology before I could word it, and indicated by a negative tilt of her head that the pulse was another dumb servant that she had no use for. Then I thought I would tell her my symptoms and how I felt, so that she would understand the case; but that was another inconsequence, she did not need to know those things; moreover, my remark about how I felt was an abuse of language, a misapplication of terms.

  "One does not feel," she explained; "there is no such thing as feeling: therefore, to speak of a non-existent thing as existent is a contradiction. Matter has no existence; nothing exists but mind; the mind cannot feel pain, it can only imagine it."

  "But if it hurts, just the same—"

  "It doesn't. A thing which is unreal cannot exercise the functions of reality. Pain is unreal; hence, pain cannot hurt."

  In making a sweeping gesture to indicate the act of shooing the illusion of pain out of the mind, she raked her hand on a pin in her dress, said "Ouch!" and went tranquilly on with her talk. "You should never allow yourself to speak of how you feel, nor permit others to ask you how you are feeling; you should never concede that you are ill, nor permit others to talk about disease or pain or death or similar nonexistences in your presence. Such talk only encourages the mind to continue its empty imaginings." Just at that point the Stuben-madchen trod on the cat's tail, and the cat let fly a frenzy of cat-profanity. I asked, with caution:

  "Is a cat's opinion about pain valuable?"

  "A cat has no opinion; opinions proceed from mind only; the lower animals, being eternally perishable, have not been granted mind; without mind, opinion is impossible."

  "She merely imagined she felt a pain—the cat?"

  "She cannot imagine a pain, for imagining is an effect of mind; without mind, there is no imagination. A cat has no imagination."

  "Then she had a real pain?"

  "I have already told you there is no such thing as real pain."

  "It is strange and interesting. I do wonder what was the matter with the cat. Because, there being no such thing as a real pain, and she not being able to imagine an imaginary one, it would seem th
at God in His pity has compensated the cat with some kind of a mysterious emotion usable when her tail is trodden on which, for the moment, joins cat and Christian in one common brotherhood of—"

  She broke in with an irritated—

  "Peace! The cat feels nothing, the Christian feels nothing. Your empty and foolish imaginings are profanation and blasphemy, and can do you an injury. It is wiser and better and holier to recognize and confess that there is no such thing as disease or pain or death."

  "I am full of imaginary tortures," I said, "but I do not think I could be any more uncomfortable if they were real ones. What must I do to get rid of them?"

  "There is no occasion to get rid of them since they do not exist. They are illusions propagated by matter, and matter has no existence; there is no such thing as matter."

  "It sounds right and clear, but yet it seems in a degree elusive; it seems to slip through, just when you think you are getting a grip on it."


  "Well, for instance: if there is no such thing as matter, how can matter propagate things?"

  In her compassion she almost smiled. She would have smiled if there were any such thing as a smile.

  "It is quite simple," she said; "the fundamental propositions of Christian Science explain it, and they are summarized in the four following self-evident propositions: 1. God is All in all. 2. God is good. Good is Mind 3. God, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter 4. Life, God, omnipotent Good, deny death, evil, sin, disease.

  "There—now you see."

  It seemed nebulous; it did not seem to say anything about the difficulty in hand—how non-existent matter can propagate illusions I said, with some hesitancy:

  "Does—does it explain?"

  "Doesn't it? Even if read backward it will do it."

  With a budding hope, I asked her to do it backwards.

  "Very well. Disease sin evil death deny Good omnipotent God life matter is nothing all being Spirit God Mind is Good good is God all in All is God. There do you understand now?

  "It—it—well, it is plainer than it was before; still—"


  "Could you try it some more ways?"

  "As many as you like; it always means the same. Interchanged in any way you please it cannot be made to mean anything different from what it means when put in any other way. Because it is perfect. You can jumble it all up, and it makes no difference: it always comes out the way it was before. It was a marvelous mind that produced it. As a mental tour de force it is without a mate, it defies alike the simple, the concrete, and the occult."

  "It seems to be a corker."

  I blushed for the word, but it was out before I could stop it.

  "A what?"

  "A—wonderful structure—combination, so to speak, of profound thoughts—unthinkable ones—um—"

  "It is true. Read backward, or forward, or perpendicularly, or at any given angle, these four propositions will always be found to agree in statement and proof."

  "Ah—proof. Now we are coming at it. The statements agree; they agree with—with—anyway, they agree; I noticed that; but what is it they prove I mean, in particular?"

  "Why, nothing could be clearer. They prove:

  "1. GOD—Principle, Life, Truth, Love, Soul, Spirit, Mind. Do you get that?"

  "I—well, I seem to. Go on, please."

  "2. MAN—God's universal idea, individual, perfect, eternal. Is it clear?"

  "It—I think so. Continue."

  "3. IDEA—An image in Mind; the immediate object of understanding. There it is—the whole sublime Arcana of Christian Science in a nutshell. Do you find a weak place in it anywhere?"

  "Well—no; it seems strong."

  "Very well There is more. Those three constitute the Scientific Definition of Immortal Mind. Next, we have the Scientific Definition of Mortal Mind. Thus. FIRST DEGREE: Depravity I. Physical-Passions and appetites, fear, depraved will, pride, envy, deceit, hatred, revenge, sin, disease, death."

  "Phantasms, madam—unrealities, as I understand it."

  "Every one. SECOND DEGREE: Evil Disappearing. I. Moral-Honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness, temperance. Is it clear?"


  "THIRD DEGREE: Spiritual Salvation. I. Spiritual-Faith, wisdom, power, purity, understanding, health, love. You see how searchingly and co-ordinately interdependent and anthropomorphous it all is. In this Third Degree, as we know by the revelations of Christian Science, mortal mind disappears."

  "Not earlier?"

  "No, not until the teaching and preparation for the Third Degree are completed."

  "It is not until then that one is enabled to take hold of Christian Science effectively, and with the right sense of sympathy and kinship, as I understand you. That is to say, it could not succeed during the processes of the Second Degree, because there would still be remains of mind left; and therefore—but I interrupted you. You were about to further explain the good results proceeding from the erosions and disintegrations effected by the Third Degree. It is very interesting; go on, please."

  "Yes, as I was saying, in this Third Degree mortal mind disappears. Science so reverses the evidence before the corporeal human senses as to make this scriptural testimony true in our hearts, 'the last shall be first and the first shall be last,' that God and His idea may be to us—what divinity really is, and must of necessity be all-inclusive."

  "It is beautiful. And with what exhaustive exactness your choice and arrangement of words confirm and establish what you have claimed for the powers and functions of the Third Degree. The Second could probably produce only temporary absence of mind; it is reserved to the Third to make it permanent. A sentence framed under the auspices of the Second could have a kind of meaning—a sort of deceptive semblance of it—whereas it is only under the magic of the Third that that defect would disappear. Also, without doubt, it is the Third Degree that contributes another remarkable specialty to Christian Science—viz., ease and flow and lavishness of words, and rhythm and swing and smoothness. There must be a special reason for this?"

  "Yes—God—all, all—God, good God, non-Matter, Matteration, Spirit, Bones, Truth."

  "That explains it."

  "There is nothing in Christian Science that is not explicable; for God is one, Time is one, Individuality is one, and may be one of a series, one of many, as an individual man, individual horse; whereas God is one, not one of a series, but one alone and without an equal."

  "These are noble thoughts. They make one burn to know more. How does Christian Science explain the spiritual relation of systematic duality to incidental deflection?"

  "Christian Science reverses the seeming relation of Soul and body—as astronomy reverses the human perception of the movement of the solar system—and makes body tributary to the Mind. As it is the earth which is in motion, While the sun is at rest, though in viewing the sun rise one finds it impossible to believe the sun not to be really rising, so the body is but the humble servant of the restful Mind, though it seems otherwise to finite sense; but we shall never understand this while we admit that soul is in body, or mind in matter, and that man is included in non-intelligence. Soul is God, unchangeable and eternal; and man coexists with and reflects Soul, for the All-in-all is the Altogether, and the Altogether embraces the All-one, Soul-Mind, Mind-Soul, Love, Spirit, Bones, Liver, one of a series, alone and without an equal."

  "What is the origin of Christian Science? Is it a gift of God, or did it just happen?"

  "In a sense, it is a gift of God. That is to say, its powers are from Him, but the credit of the discovery of the powers and what they are for is due to an American lady."

  "Indeed? When did this occur?"

  "In 1866. That is the immortal date when pain and disease and death disappeared from the earth to return no more forever. That is, the fancies for which those terms stand disappeared. The things themselves had never existed; therefore, as soon as it was perceived that there were no such things, they were easily banish
ed. The history and nature of the great discovery are set down in the book here, and—"

  "Did the lady write the book?"

  "Yes, she wrote it all, herself. The title is Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures—for she explains the Scriptures; they were not understood before. Not even by the twelve Disciples. She begins thus—I will read it to you."

  But she had forgotten to bring her glasses.

  "Well, it is no matter," she said. "I remember the words—indeed, all Christian Scientists know the book by heart; it is necessary in our practice. We should otherwise make mistakes and do harm. She begins thus: 'In the year 1866 I discovered the Science of Metaphysical Healing, and named it Christian Science.' And She says quite beautifully, I think—'Through Christian Science, religion and medicine are inspired with a diviner nature and essence, fresh pinions are given to faith and understanding, and thoughts acquaint themselves intelligently with God.' Her very words."

  "It is elegant. And it is a fine thought, too—marrying religion to medicine, instead of medicine to the undertaker in the old way; for religion and medicine properly belong together, they being the basis of all spiritual and physical health. What kind of medicine do you give for the ordinary diseases, such as—"

  "We never give medicine in any circumstances whatever! We—"

  "But, madam, it says—"

  "I don't care what it says, and I don't wish to talk about it."

  "I am sorry if I have offended, but you see the mention seemed in some way inconsistent, and—"

  "There are no inconsistencies in Christian Science. The thing is impossible, for the Science is absolute. It cannot be otherwise, since it proceeds directly from the All-in-all and the Everything-in-Which, also Soul, Bones, Truth, one of a series, alone and without equal. It is Mathematics purified from material dross and made spiritual."

  "I can see that, but—"

  "It rests upon the immovable basis of an Apodictical Principle."