[January, 1903. The first reading of any book whose terminology is new and strange is nearly sure to leave the reader in a bewildered and sarcastic state of mind. But now that, during the past two months, I have, by diligence gained a fair acquaintanceship with Science and Health technicalities, I no longer find the bulk of that work hard to understand.--M. T.]

P.S. The wisdom harvested from the foregoing thoughts has already done me a service and saved me a sorrow. Nearly a month ago there came to me from one of the universities a tract by Dr. Edward Anthony Spitzka on the "Encephalic Anatomy of the Races." I judged that my opinion was desired by the university, and I was greatly pleased with this attention and wrote and said I would furnish it as soon as I could. That night I put my plodding and disheartening Christian Science mining aside and took hold of the matter. I wrote an eager chapter, and was expecting to finish my opinion the next day, but was called away for a week, and my mind was soon charged with other interests. It was not until to-day, after the lapse of nearly a month, that I happened upon my Encephalic chapter again. Meantime, the new wisdom had come to me, and I read it with shame. I recognized that I had entered upon that work in far from the right temper--far from the respectful and judicial spirit which was its due of reverence. I had begun upon it with the following paragraph for fuel:

"FISSURES OF THE PARIETAL AND OCCIPITAL LOBES (LATERAL SURFACE).--The Postcentral Fissural Complex--In this hemicerebrum, the postcentral and subcentral are combined to form a continuous fissure, attaining a length of 8.5 cm. Dorsally, the fissure bifurcates, embracing the gyre indented by the caudal limb of the paracentral. The caudal limb of the postcentral is joined by a transparietal piece. In all, five additional rami spring from the combined fissure. A vadum separates it from the parietal; another from the central."

It humiliates me, now, to see how angry I got over that; and how scornful. I said that the style was disgraceful; that it was labored and tumultuous, and in places violent, that the treatment was involved and erratic, and almost, as a rule, bewildering; that to lack of simplicity was added a lack of vocabulary; that there was quite too much feeling shown; that if I had a dog that would get so excited and incoherent over a tranquil subject like Encephalic Anatomy I would not pay his tax; and at that point I got excited myself and spoke bitterly of these mongrel insanities, and said a person might as well try to understand Science and Health.

[I know, now, where the trouble was, and am glad of the interruption that saved me from sending my verdict to the university. It makes me cold to think what those people might have thought of me.--M. T.]

CHAPTER IV

No one doubts--certainly not I--that the mind exercises a powerful influence over the body. From the beginning of time, the sorcerer, the interpreter of dreams, the fortune-teller, the charlatan, the quack, the wild medicine-man, the educated physician, the mesmerist, and the hypnotist have made use of the client's imagination to help them in their work. They have all recognized the potency and availability of that force. Physicians cure many patients with a bread pill; they know that where the disease is only a fancy, the patient's confidence in the doctor will make the bread pill effective.

Faith in the doctor. Perhaps that is the entire thing. It seems to look like it. In old times the King cured the king's evil by the touch of the royal hand. He frequently made extraordinary cures. Could his footman have done it? No--not in his own clothes. Disguised as the King, could he have done it? I think we may not doubt it. I think we may feel sure that it was not the King's touch that made the cure in any instance, but the patient's faith in the efficacy of a King's touch. Genuine and remarkable cures have been achieved through contact with the relics of a saint.

Christian Science Page 09

Mark Twain

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book