It was during this earlier association that he propounded, one day, his theory of circumstance, already set down, that inevitable sequence of cause and effect, beginning with the first act of the primal atom. He had been dictating that morning his story of the clairvoyant dream which preceded his brother's death, and the talk of foreknowledge had continued. I said one might logically conclude from such a circumstance that the future was a fixed quantity.
"As absolutely fixed as the past," he said; and added the remark already quoted.--[Chap. lxxv] A little later he continued:
"Even the Almighty Himself cannot check or change that sequence of events once it is started. It is a fixed quantity, and a part of the scheme is a mental condition during certain moments usually of sleep--when the mind may reach out and grasp some of the acts which are still to come."
It was a new angle to me--a line of logic so simple and so utterly convincing that I have remained unshaken in it to this day. I have never been able to find any answer to it, nor any one who could even attempt to show that the first act of the first created atom did not strike the key- note of eternity.
At another time, speaking of the idea that God works through man, he burst out:
"Yes, of course, just about as much as a man works through his microbes!"
He had a startling way of putting things like that, and it left not much to say.
I was at this period interested a good deal in mental healing, and had been treated for neurasthenia with gratifying results. Like most of the world, I had assumed, from his published articles, that he condemned Christian Science and its related practices out of hand. When I confessed, rather reluctantly, one day, the benefit I had received, he surprised me by answering:
"Of course you have been benefited. Christian Science is humanity's boon. Mother Eddy deserves a place in the Trinity as much as any member of it. She has organized and made available a healing principle that for two thousand years has never been employed, except as the merest kind of guesswork. She is the benefactor of the age."
It seemed strange, at the time, to hear him speak in this way concerning a practice of which he was generally regarded as the chief public antagonist. It was another angle of his many-sided character.
THE DEFINITION OF A GENTLEMAN
That was a busy winter for him socially. He was constantly demanded for this thing and that--for public gatherings, dinners--everywhere he was a central figure. Once he presided at a Valentine dinner given by some Players to David Munro. He had never presided at a dinner before, he said, and he did it in his own way, which certainly was a taking one, suitable to that carefree company and occasion--a real Scotch occasion, with the Munro tartan everywhere, the table banked with heather, and a wild piper marching up and down in the anteroom, blowing savage airs in honor of Scotland's gentlest son.
An important meeting of that winter was at Carnegie Hall--a great gathering which had assembled for the purpose of aiding Booker T. Washington in his work for the welfare of his race. The stage and the auditorium were thronged with notables. Joseph H. Choate and Mark Twain presided, and both spoke; also Robert C. Ogden and Booker T. Washington himself. It was all fine and interesting. Choate's address was ably given, and Mark Twain was at his best. He talked of politics and of morals--public and private--how the average American citizen was true to his Christian principles three hundred and sixty-three days in the year, and how on the other two days of the year he left those principles at home and went to the tax-office and the voting-booths, and did his best to damage and undo his whole year's faithful and righteous work.
I used to be an honest man, but I am crumbling--no, I have crumbled. When they assessed me at $75,000 a fortnight ago I went out and tried to borrow the money and couldn't. Then when I found they were letting a whole crowd of millionaires live in New York at a third of the price they were charging me I was hurt, I was indignant, and said, this is the last feather.