That she wrote the Autobiography, and that preface, and the Poems, and the Plague-spot- Bacilli, we are not permitted to doubt. Indeed, we know she wrote them. But the very certainty that she wrote these things compels a doubt that she wrote Science and Health. She is guilty of little awkwardnesses of expression in the Autobiography which a practiced pen would hardly allow to go uncorrected in even a hasty private letter, and could not dream of passing by uncorrected in passages intended for print. But she passes them placidly by; as placidly as if she did not suspect that they were offenses against third-class English. I think that that placidity was born of that very unawareness, so to speak. I will cite a few instances from the Autobiography. The italics are mine:

"I remember reading in my childhood certain manuscripts containing Scriptural Sonnets, besides other verses and enigmas," etc. Page 7.

[On page 27.] "Many pale cripples went into the Church leaning on crutches who came out carrying them on their shoulders."

It is awkward, because at the first glance it seems to say that the cripples went in leaning on crutches which went out carrying the cripples on their shoulders. It would have cost her no trouble to put her "who" after her "cripples." I blame her a little; I think her proof-reader should have been shot. We may let her capital C pass, but it is another awkwardness, for she is talking about a building, not about a religious society.

"Marriage and Parentage "[Chapter-heading. Page 30]. You imagine that she is going to begin a talk about her marriage and finish with some account of her father and mother. And so you will be deceived. "Marriage" was right, but "Parentage" was not the best word for the rest of the record. It refers to the birth of her own child. After a certain period of time "my babe was born." Marriage and Motherhood-Marriage and Maternity-Marriage and Product-Marriage and Dividend--either of these would have fitted the facts and made the matter clear.

"Without my knowledge he was appointed a guardian." Page 32.

She is speaking of her child. She means that a guardian for her child was appointed, but that isn't what she says.

"If spiritual conclusions are separated from their premises, the nexus is lost, and the argument with its rightful conclusions, becomes correspondingly obscure." Page 34.

We shall never know why she put the word "correspondingly" in there. Any fine, large word would have answered just as well: psychosuperintangibly --electroincandescently--oligarcheologically--sanchrosynchro- stereoptically--any of these would have answered, any of these would have filled the void.

"His spiritual noumenon and phenomenon silenced portraiture." Page 34.

Yet she says she forgot everything she knew, when she discovered Christian Science. I realize that noumenon is a daisy; and I will not deny that I shall use it whenever I am in a company which I think I can embarrass with it; but, at the same time, I think it is out of place among friends in an autobiography. There, I think a person ought not to have anything up his sleeve. It undermines confidence. But my dissatisfaction with the quoted passage is not on account of noumenon; it is on account of the misuse of the word "silenced." You cannot silence portraiture with a noumenon; if portraiture should make a noise, a way could be found to silence it, but even then it could not be done with a noumenon. Not even with a brick, some authorities think.

"It may be that the mortal life-battle still wages," etc. Page 35.

That is clumsy. Battles do not wage, battles are waged. Mrs. Eddy has one very curious and interesting peculiarity: whenever she notices that she is chortling along without saying anything, she pulls up with a sudden "God is over us all," or some other sounding irrelevancy, and for the moment it seems to light up the whole district; then, before you can recover from the shock, she goes flitting pleasantly and meaninglessly along again, and you hurry hopefully after her, thinking you are going to get something this time; but as soon as she has led you far enough away from her turkey lot she takes to a tree.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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