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Christian Science and the book of Mrs. Eddy
by [?]


It was a night of anguish, of course–at least I supposed it was, for it had all the symptoms of it–but it passed at last, and the Christian Scientist came, and I was glad. She was middle-aged, and large and bony and erect, and had an austere face and a resolute jaw and a Roman beak and was a widow in the third degree, and her name was Fuller. I was eager to get to business and find relief, but she was distressingly deliberate. She unpinned and unhooked and uncoupled her upholsteries one by one, abolished the wrinkles with a flirt of her hand and hung the articles up; peeled off her gloves and disposed of them, got a book out of her hand-bag, then drew a chair to the bedside, descended into it without hurry, and I hung out my tongue. She said, with pity but without passion:

‘Return it to its receptacle. We deal with the mind only, not with its dumb servants.’

I could not offer my pulse, because the connection was broken; but she detected the apology before I could word it, and indicated by a negative tilt of her head that the pulse was another dumb servant that she had no use for. Then I thought I would tell her my symptoms and how I felt, so that she would understand the case; but that was another inconsequence, she did not need to know those things; moreover, my remark about how I felt was an abuse of language, a misapplication of terms–

‘One does not feel,’ she explained; ‘there is no such thing as feeling: therefore, to speak of a non-existent thing as existent as a contradiction. Matter has no existence; nothing exists but mind; the mind cannot feel pain, it can only imagine it.’

‘But if it hurts, just the same–‘

‘It doesn’t. A thing which is unreal cannot exercise the functions of reality. Pain is unreal; hence pain cannot hurt.’

In making a sweeping gesture to indicate the act of shooing the illusion of pain out of the mind, she raked her hand on a pin in her dress, said ‘Ouch!’ and went tranquilly on with her talk. ‘You should never allow yourself to speak of how you feel, nor permit others to ask you how you are feeling: you should never concede that you are ill, nor permit others to talk about disease or pain or death or similar non-existences in your preserve. Such talk only encourages the mind to continue its empty imaginings.’ Just at that point the Stubenmadchen trod on the cat’s tail, and the cat let fly a frenzy of cat-profanity. I asked with caution:

‘Is a cat’s opinion about pain valuable?’

‘A cat has no opinion; opinions proceed from the mind only; the lower animals, being eternally perishable, have not been granted mind; without mind opinion is impossible.’

‘She merely imagined she felt a pain–the cat?’

‘She cannot imagine a pain, for imagination is an effect of mind; without mind, there is no imagination. A cat has no imagination.’

‘Then she had a real pain?’

‘I have already told you there is no such thing as real pain.’

‘It is strange and interesting. I do wonder what was the matter with the cat. Because, there being no such thing as real pain, and she not being able to imagine an imaginary thing, it would seem that God in his Pity has compensated the cat with some kind of a mysterious emotion useable when her tail is trodden on which for the moment joins cat and Christian in one common brotherhood of–‘

She broke in with an irritated–

‘Peace! The cat feels nothing, the Christian feels nothing. Your empty and foolish imaginings are profanation and blasphemy, and can do you an injury. It is wiser and better and holier to recognise and confess that there is no such thing as disease or pain or death.’