I have only wished to say how fine and beautiful was his life and character, and to take him by the hand and say good-by, as to a fortunate friend who has done well his work and gees a pleasant journey.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE CONTROVERSIES
The North American Review for December (1902) contained an instalment of the Christian Science series which Mark Twain had written in Vienna several years before. He had renewed his interest in the doctrine, and his admiration for Mrs. Eddy’s peculiar abilities and his antagonism toward her had augmented in the mean time. Howells refers to the “mighty moment when Clemens was building his engines of war for the destruction of Christian Science, which superstition nobody, and he least of all, expected to destroy”:
He believed that as a religious
machine the Christian Science Church
was as perfect as the Roman Church, and destined to be more
formidable in its control of the minds of men . . . .
An interesting phase of his psychology in this business was not. only his admiration for the masterly policy of the Christian Science hierarchy, but his willingness to allow the miracles of its healers to be tried on his friends and family if they wished it. He had a tender heart for the whole generation of empirics, as well as the newer sorts of scienticians, but he seemed to base his faith in them largely upon the failure of the regulars, rather than upon their own successes, which also he believed in. He was recurrently, but not insistently, desirous that you should try their strange magics when you were going to try the familiar medicines.
Clemens never had any quarrel with the theory of Christian Science or mental healing, or with any of the empiric practices. He acknowledged good in all of them, and he welcomed most of them in preference to materia medica. It is true that his animosity for the founder of the Christian Science cult sometimes seems to lap over and fringe the religion itself; but this is apparent rather than real. Furthermore, he frequently expressed a deep obligation which humanity owed to the founder of the faith, in that she had organized a healing element ignorantly and indifferently employed hitherto. His quarrel with Mrs. Eddy lay in the belief that she herself, as he expressed it, was “a very unsound Christian Scientist.”
I believe she has a serious malady—self-edification—and that it will be well to have one of the experts demonstrate over her. [But he added]: Closely examined, painstakingly studied, she is easily the most interesting person on the planet, and in several ways as easily the most extraordinary woman that was ever born upon it.
Necessarily, the forces of Christian Science were aroused by these articles, and there were various replies, among them, one by the founder herself, a moderate rejoinder in her usual literary form.