Whenever she discovers that she is getting pretty disconnected, she couples-up with an ostentatious "But" which has nothing to do with anything that went before or is to come after, then she hitches some empties to the train-unrelated verses from the Bible, usually--and steams out of sight and leaves you wondering how she did that clever thing. For striking instances, see bottom paragraph on page 34 and the paragraph on page 35 of her Autobiography. She has a purpose--a deep and dark and artful purpose--in what she is saying in the first paragraph, and you guess what it is, but that is due to your own talent, not hers; she has made it as obscure as language could do it. The other paragraph has no meaning and no discoverable intention. It is merely one of her God-over-alls. I cannot spare room for it in this place.

"I beheld with ineffable awe our great Master's marvelous skill in demanding neither obedience to hygienic laws nor," etc. Page 41.

The word is loosely chosen-skill. She probably meant judgment, intuition, penetration, or wisdom.

"Naturally, my first jottings were but efforts to express in feeble diction Truth's ultimate." Page 42.

One understands what she means, but she should have been able to say what she meant--at any time before she discovered Christian Science and forgot everything she knew--and after it, too. If she had put "feeble" in front of "efforts" and then left out "in" and "diction," she would have scored.

" . . . its written expression increases in perfection under the guidance of the great Master." Page 43.

It is an error. Not even in those advantageous circumstances can increase be added to perfection.

"Evil is not mastered by evil; it can only be overcome with Good. This brings out the nothingness of evil, and the eternal Somethingness vindicates the Divine Principle and improves the race of Adam." Page 76.

This is too extraneous for me. That is the trouble with Mrs. Eddy when she sets out to explain an over-large exhibit: the minute you think the light is bursting upon you the candle goes out and your mind begins to wander.

"No one else can drain the cup which I have drunk to the dregs, as the discoverer and teacher of Christian Science" Page 47.

That is saying we cannot empty an empty cup. We knew it before; and we know she meant to tell us that that particular cup is going to remain empty. That is, we think that that was the idea, but we cannot be sure. She has a perfectly astonishing talent for putting words together in such a way as to make successful inquiry into their intention impossible.

She generally makes us uneasy when she begins to tune up on her fine- writing timbrel. It carries me back to her Plague-Spot and Poetry days, and I just dread those:

"Into mortal mind's material obliquity I gazed and stood abashed. Blanched was the cheek of pride. My heart bent low before the omnipotence of Spirit, and a tint of humility soft as the heart of a moonbeam mantled the earth. Bethlehem and Bethany, Gethsemane and Calvary, spoke to my chastened sense as by the tearful lips of a babe." Page 48.

The heart of a moonbeam is a pretty enough Friendship's-Album expression --let it pass, though I do think the figure a little strained; but humility has no tint, humility has no complexion, and if it had it could not mantle the earth. A moonbeam might--I do not know--but she did not say it was the moonbeam. But let it go, I cannot decide it, she mixes me up so. A babe hasn't "tearful lips," it's its eyes. You find none of Mrs. Eddy's kind of English in Science and Health--not a line of it.

CHAPTER III

Setting aside title-page, index, etc., the little Autobiography begins on page 7 and ends on page 130. My quotations are from the first forty pages. They seem to me to prove the presence of the 'prentice hand. The style of the forty pages is loose and feeble and 'prentice-like. The movement of the narrative is not orderly and sequential, but rambles around, and skips forward and back and here and there and yonder, 'prentice-fashion.

Christian Science Page 30

Mark Twain

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

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book