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I TRUST that I am giving Mrs Mary Baker G. Eddy no offence when I say that in claiming to be the founder of Christian Science she is not telling the strict truth. The real founder was a certain Phineas Quimby, who was in business as a blacksmith in a small New England town in the early sixties. In his spare time he practised healing by mental suggestion, with such success that patients flocked to him from all parts of the State, and among them came Mrs Eddy, who was suffering from some nervous disorder that defied medical skill. Quimby was contemptibly wanting in enterprise though it was patent to all that there was money in the thing, he continued to give his services for nothing, and even to impart the theory of his practice to any of his patients who cared to listen to him. Mrs Eddy sucked him dry, and returned home full of new thoughts. She realised at once the defects and the possibilities of her master's teaching. He used the Bible for his cures; he argued that of the two commands laid upon the apostles to preach the Gospel and to heal the sick-the Church had obeyed the first and neglected the second. Therein were endless possibilities; but he had not ambition enough to push the matter to its logical end, to break from the common herd of faith healers and churchgoers, and proclaim himself the
VOL. CLXV.-NO. MIII.
apostle of a new revelation after the order of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons. Now Mary Baker G. Eddy is before all things an excellent woman of business. She knew that a sect more or less does not count for much in a country like America, where they are numbered by hundreds. But here, ready to her hand, was the material for a religious sect of a novel kind, that should minister to the two wants for which mankind is always ready to pay without expecting any return in this world's goods-medicine for the soul and medicine for the body. Any medical directory will enable you to arrive approximately at the annual sum that it spends in the latter direction if you assume that every doctor in the list is making an average of at least £300 a-year. Mrs Eddy tells us that she spent three years in retirement "to search the Scriptures and ponder her mission," and no one can say that they were years ill-spent, since they were the incubation period of 'Science and Health,' and her Metaphysical College. And so, when she claims to have discovered Christian Science, as she does with much unnecessary warmth of language, she is doing herself an injustice. In reality she played Shakespeare to Phineas P. Quimby's Boccaccio: she stole the idea and made a masterpiece of it, as many other great artists have done before her.
She did not enjoy a monopoly of the business. She made enemies among the more stiff-necked of her converts, and, before the "Metaphysical College" of Massachusetts was in full swing, she had a rival sect of "scientists" about her ears who preferred to draw their inspiration unfiltered from the fountainhead. The camp was divided between the Quimbyites and the Eddyites. In England the proceedings of coroners' and police courts have made the name of Eddy almost a household word: of Quimby and his sect we have not even heard, but that is because the Quimbyites have stuck by the Church and have no master-mind to marshal their forces. In America they are said to outnumber the Eddyites, and love is not lost between the two. When Christian Science exhorts its leaders to embrace the whole world in fervent love, there is always, even in its book of devotion, a reservation in respect of the Quimbyites. If you mention them to the last English convert she will shudder, and call them "schismatics." What the Quimbyites would call her we shall know when they too come to England.
When the invasion of England was resolved upon about four years ago, Mrs Eddy had retired from active business full of years and substance, and the ablest of her lieutenants, a Mrs Field-King, was appointed to command. She had been, we believe, the proprietor of a bath establishment in Illinois, and, seeing her extraordinary
capacity for business, it is remarkable that she failed in her former calling. her former calling. She began quite modestly by hiring a room for her meetings in the Portman Rooms, but in less than three years she had made money enough to house herself in an expensive flat, and had raised funds for the purchase of a derelict synagogue in Bryanston Street. Primitive Christianity, run upon strictly business principles, had done all this. In America there is a saying that has become a commonplace through frequent repetition, "Christian Science is neither Christian nor scientific." This may be true of the Christianity, but of the Science, if a profound insight into human weakness is science, it is strangely unjust. Any one, of course, who chooses to invent a new religion, can set up his tub in London, and count upon having a following of some kind; but there must be a streak of genius in him to avow frankly that his gospel is a money-making concern without exciting suspicion of the purity of his motives. Mrs Field-King, knowing full well, we need not doubt, the story of Simon Magus, announced from the first that her gospel was on sale. If you wanted the gift of healing yourself and your fellow-men by the power of Christ, you could have it for twenty guineas paid in advance. You then attended a course of private lessons, and emerged with the power of healing every ailment from broken leg to the measles. Some forty persons
attended the first course, and forty times twenty guineas is £840,-no paltry profit for the first season's working.
Then there were the books. We cannot advise any one to buy Science and Health,' Mrs Eddy's masterpiece, because, even in the poorest binding, it costs 14s., and, frankly, it is not worth the money, even for the amusement it affords. The authoress puffs her wares with the shamelessness of a Corelli. "The sixteenth edition has been reached," she boasts, "and many people are healed simply by reading the work." That was some time ago: the sale is said now to have reached 100,000. If she made the bargain with her publishers that one might expect from such a canny person, that means £50,000 into the pocket of the authoress. And they call her a stupid, ignorant woman!
How did she manage it? Christian Science is a sect of women headed by a woman. Perhaps if it had been headed by a man there would have been more opposition on the part of the male relations of the converts. It is, moreover, a sect of idle women with money to spend. Mrs FieldKing aimed at one class onlythe half-educated and frivolous women of London Society, who wanted some new pursuit when "slumming" fell out of fashion, and who had never yet been flattered with the suggestion that they had an intellect. She came to the people who went to church but had never given a thought to their religion, and persuaded them that they knew
things about the Bible that were never dreamed of in the philosophy of the clergy; to women who had never used the organs they were pleased to call their minds, and dangled vague philosophical puzzles before them until they believed that they were the first who had ever thought upon the relations of Mind and Matter; to women weary of the empty social tread-wheel, and showed them how they might be philanthropic without being dowdy, intellectual without reading, professional without losing caste. But all this, you may say, is the ordinary stock-intrade of the theosophist, and all the other religious cranks who batten upon the credulity of idle women. True! but the founder of Christian Science had in reserve a bait that no human being, be he millionaire or gutter - snipe, has ever regarded with indifference. She promised to her followers no less than an income honestly earned by good works. She made money by simony, it was true, but, on the other hand, so should they,-not (mark you) in a spirit of self-seeking, but as a solemn duty to God and man. And why? Because in the pursuit of her science she had discovered that the cures would not work without a sacrifice on the part of the patient, a pecuniary sacrifice which she assessed at £1 a-week, or 8s. a visit, payable in advance, since, as an eminent healer deliciously explains in a letter to one of her patients, "the running up of bills for healing is contrary to the spirit of Christian Science."
Thus the whole structure of Christian Science is a pinnacle of sacrifice. The patient sacrifices to the healer; the healer sacrifices to Mrs Field-King; Mrs Field - King sacrifices to her tradesmen, or possibly (for this we do not know) to Mrs Eddy herself, in the form of a commission on the profits. Mrs Eddy alone enjoys immunity from sacrifice, as is only just, seeing that she is, as it were, patentee of the system. As one of her most trusted followers declared, "Mrs Eddy has a keen sense of the more practical side of life, and a shrewd business instinct. For that reason some have even accused her of worldliness." As she charges £60 for three weeks' training as a healer, and claims to have an attendance of 3000 pupils, and has sold 100,000 of her book at 14s., none will question the aptness of this loving description.
You may have been saddled with ten thousand a-year of your own, and yet prize the few shillings you have made by your own efforts above all your worldly goods. Magazine editors, who have had dealings with rich contributors, know that they are often greedier than the struggling hack who has to live by his pen. The smart lady who has taken to Christian Science is fast becoming as voracious as the needy American women who taught her her trade. She has still to sacrifice to Mrs Field-King, for that wily lady is always making fresh discoveries which can only be learned by a supplementary course at five guineas. She herself is ever clambering up
the ladder of knowledge and stretching a hand to those that stumble on the lowest rung, provided, of course, that they are willing to pay for her aid. She flatters her pupils by inviting them to contribute to the common store of knowledge. When a patient dies on their hands it is only because some obscurity that can only be overcome by unremitting study still baffles them. baffles them. She counts upon
nothing less than victory over death itself at last, or rather, to use her own phraseology, over the "error" which men call death, though she does not explain by what steps she proposes to avert over-population.
With all its ingenuity there is something so squalid in the money-making aspect of Christian Science that one may be curious to know what excuse can be made for it. A young high-school teacher, Miss Annie Harwood, who was treated by Christian Scientists for a nervous affection, has recently published her experiences under the title 'Christian Science, an Exposure.' Her title belies her: she is not concerned to attack her former co-religionists, nor has she always the wit to see the humour of her experiences: she simply tells a plain straightforward tale of her connection with the sect, without adverse comment, and she achieves thereby an exposure infinitely more damning than she can have intended. The healer was a young American lady whose identity she conceals under the name of Jansen, who told her frankly at the outset that Christian Scientists did not
care to treat any but rich patients.
The ingratitude shown by the more common class of our patients fully justifies our founder, Mrs Eddy, in making our charges reasonably high. Among the poorer classes... the greater number have coarse animal dispositions, which are far too near the clay for our teaching to make any impression upon them. It is for that reason, and not from any greed of gain, that we have been forced to charge as much as twenty guineas for a course of lessons.
If it were not that our purpose philanthropic, and our mission to relieve the disease and suffering of the world, we could not possibly charge less than a guinea for each visit. Remember that the labourer is worthy of his hire. The apostles were distinctly bidden to take what the hospitable kindness of their patients pressed upon them. Not only so, but from the fact that Judas carried the bag we are led to infer that a regula.
charge was made from those who had benefited by miracles.
From this artless blasphemy we too are "led to infer" that a sense of humour is not among the mental qualities cultivated by Christian Scientists.
Miss Harwood had called upon the eminent healer at an unfortunate moment. A dressmaker, one of those persons with "
coarse animal dispositions," had preceded her to the consulting-room to demand the return of seven guineas which she alleged had been obtained from her for a bogus cure. Under the influence of this fancied grievance she had none of the atmosphere of calmness and light and love about her which Christian Scientists insist upon in their patients, and she
left very little of them with the practitioner at the end of the interview, for she seems to have Miss Harwood got her money.
began her course of treatment by observing the following prohibitions: "(1) Every kind of medicine must be at once left off; (2) patients must read Christian Science literature [sic] only, and must give up the newspapers and magazines." "In a truly scientific conception of the universe," it was explained to her, "doctors and medicines have no rightful place. Mind existed before medicine; mind originated medicine." One might as well say, "Fingers existed before forks; fingers originated forks," as a reason for transplanting picnic habits to the dinnertable. But in the second prohibition we may mark the hand of genius, or the hand of Mrs Eddy, which is the same thing; for if you read nothing but Christian Science "literature" you will cut yourself off for ever from the assaults of reason and common-sense. The literature of Christian Science is the literature of the patent medicine. The magazine is a list of "the most striking and extraordinary cures, duly attested by the name and address of the writer." "Why," asked a Science healer in a burst of eloquence, "should people give us these marvellous testimonials if the cures are not genuine? Our patients have nothing whatever to gain by telling falsehoods." Quite so; and no more have the patients of Professor Munyon and Mr J. C. Eno and a hundred other pa