She continued to teach and heal. She was charging nothing, she says, although she was very poor. She taught and healed gratis four years altogether, she says.
Then, in 1879-81 she was become strong enough, and well enough established, to venture a couple of impressively important moves. The first of these moves was to aggrandize the "Association" to a "Church." Brave? It is the right name for it, I think. The former name suggests nothing, invited no remark, no criticism, no inquiry, no hostility; the new name invited them all. She must have made this intrepid venture on her own motion. She could have had no important advisers at that early day. If we accept it as her own idea and her own act--and I think we must--we have one key to her character. And it will explain subsequent acts of hers that would merely stun us and stupefy us without it. Shall we call it courage? Or shall we call it recklessness? Courage observes; reflects; calculates; surveys the whole situation; counts the cost, estimates the odds, makes up its mind; then goes at the enterprise resolute to win or perish. Recklessness does not reflect, it plunges fearlessly in with a hurrah, and takes the risks, whatever they may be, regardless of expense. Recklessness often fails, Mrs. Eddy has never failed--from the point of view of her followers. The point of view of other people is naturally not a matter of weighty importance to her.
The new Church was not born loose-jointed and featureless, but had a defined plan, a definite character, definite aims, and a name which was a challenge, and defied all comers. It was "a Mind-healing Church." It was "without a creed." Its name, "The Church of Christ, Scientist."
Mrs. Eddy could not copyright her Church, but she chartered it, which was the same thing and relieved the pain. It had twenty-six charter members. Mrs. Eddy was at once installed as its pastor.
The other venture, above referred to, was Mrs. Eddy's Massachusetts Metaphysical College, in which was taught "the pathology of spiritual power." She could not copyright it, but she got it chartered. For faculty it had herself, her husband of the period (Dr. Eddy), and her adopted son, Dr. Foster-Eddy. The college term was "barely three weeks," she says. Again she was bold, brave, rash, reckless--choose for yourself--for she not only began to charge the student, but charged him a hundred dollars a week for the enlightenments. And got it? some may ask. Easily. Pupils flocked from far and near. They came by the hundred. Presently the term was cut down nearly half, but the price remained as before. To be exact, the term-cut was to seven lessons-- price, three hundred dollars. The college "yielded a large income." This is believable. In seven years Mrs. Eddy taught, as she avers, over four thousand students in it. (Preface to 1902 edition of Science and Health.) Three hundred times four thousand is--but perhaps you can cipher it yourself. I could do it ordinarily, but I fell down yesterday and hurt my leg. Cipher it; you will see that it is a grand sum for a woman to earn in seven years. Yet that was not all she got out of her college in the seven.
At the time that she was charging the primary student three hundred dollars for twelve lessons she was not content with this tidy assessment, but had other ways of plundering him. By advertisement she offered him privileges whereby he could add eighteen lessons to his store for five hundred dollars more. That is to say, he could get a total of thirty lessons in her college for eight hundred dollars.
Four thousand times eight hundred is--but it is a difficult sum for a cripple who has not been "demonstrated over" to cipher; let it go. She taught "over" four thousand students in seven years. "Over" is not definite, but it probably represents a non-paying surplus of learners over and above the paying four thousand. Charity students, doubtless. I think that as interesting an advertisement as has been printed since the romantic old days of the other buccaneers is this one from the Christian Science Journal for September, 1886:
"MASSACHUSETTS METAPHYSICAL COLLEGE