It was in the old days before the Berne Convention and before the passage of our amended law of 1891, and the court would have quoted the following stern clause from the existing statute and frowned her out of the place:
"No Foreigner can acquire copyright in the United States."
To sum up. The evidence before me indicates three things:
1. That Mrs. Eddy claims the verbal author ship for herself. 2. That she denies it to the Deity. 3. That--in her belief--she wrote the book under the inspiration of the Deity, but furnished the language herself.
In one place in the Autobiography she claims both the language and the ideas; but when this witness is testifying, one must draw the line somewhere, or she will prove both sides of her case-nine sides, if desired.
It is too true. Much too true. Many, many times too true. She is a most trying witness--the most trying witness that ever kissed the Book, I am sure. There is no keeping up with her erratic testimony. As soon as you have got her share of the authorship nailed where you half hope and half believe it will stay and cannot be joggled loose any more, she joggles it loose again--or seems to; you cannot be sure, for her habit of dealing in meaningless metaphors instead of in plain, straightforward statistics, makes it nearly always impossible to tell just what it is she is trying to say. She was definite when she claimed both the language and the ideas of the book. That seemed to settle the matter. It seemed to distribute the percentages of credit with precision between the collaborators: ninety-two per cent. to Mrs. Eddy, who did all the work, and eight per cent. to the Deity, who furnished the inspiration not enough of it to damage the copyright in a country closed against Foreigners, and yet plenty to advertise the book and market it at famine rates. Then Mrs. Eddy does not keep still, but fetches around and comes forward and testifies again. It is most injudicious. For she resorts to metaphor this time, and it makes trouble, for she seems to reverse the percentages and claim only the eight per cent. for her self. I quote from Mr. Peabody's book (Eddyism, or Christian Science. Boston: 15 Court Square, price twenty-five cents):
"Speaking of this book, Mrs. Eddy, in January last (1901) said: 'I should blush to write of Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, as I have, were it of human origin, and I, apart from God, its author; but as I was only a scribe echoing the harmonies of Heaven in divine metaphysics, I cannot be supermodest of the Christian Science text- book."'
Mr. Peabody's comment:
"Nothing could be plainer than that. Here is a distinct avowal that the book entitled Science and Health was the work of Almighty God."
It does seem to amount to that. She was only a "scribe." Confound the word, it is just a confusion, it has no determinable meaning there, it leaves us in the air. A scribe is merely a person who writes. He may be a copyist, he may be an amanuensis, he may be a writer of originals, and furnish both the language and the ideas. As usual with Mrs. Eddy, the connection affords no help--"echoing" throws no light upon "scribe." A rock can reflect an echo, a wall can do it, a mountain can do it, many things can do it, but a scribe can't. A scribe that could reflect an echo could get over thirty dollars a week in a side-show. Many impresarios would rather have him than a cow with four tails. If we allow that this present scribe was setting down the "harmonies of Heaven"--and certainly that seems to have been the case then there was only one way to do it that I can think of: listen to the music and put down the notes one after another as they fell. In that case Mrs. Eddy did not invent the tune, she only entered it on paper. Therefore dropping the metaphor--she was merely an amanuensis, and furnished neither the language of Science and Health nor the ideas. It reduces her to eight per cent. (and the dividends on that and the rest).
Is that it? We shall never know.