The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany

The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany Miscellany

Chapter XVIII

Authorship of Science and Health

317The following statement, which was published in the Sentinel of December 1, 1906, exactly defining her relations with the Rev. James Henry Wiggin of Boston, was made by Mrs. Eddy in refutation of allegations in the public press to the effect that Mr. Wiggin had a share in the authorship of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.”

Mrs. Eddy’s Statement

    It is a great mistake to say that I employed the Rev. James Henry Wiggin to correct my diction. It was for no such purpose. I engaged Mr. Wiggin so as to avail myself of his criticisms of my statement of Christian Science, which criticisms would enable me to explain more clearly the points that might seem ambiguous to the reader.

    Mr. Calvin A. Frye copied my writings, and he will tell you that Mr. Wiggin left my diction quite out of the question, sometimes saying, “I wouldn’t express it that way.” He often dissented from what I had written, but I quieted him by quoting corroborative texts of Scripture.

    My diction, as used in explaining Christian Science, has been called original. The liberty that I have taken with 318capitalization, in order to express the “new tongue,” has well-nigh constituted a new style of language. In almost every case where Mr. Wiggin added words, I have erased them in my revisions.

    Mr. Wiggin was not my proofreader for my book “Miscellaneous Writings,” and for only two of my books. I especially employed him on “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” because at that date some critics declared that my book was as ungrammatical as it was misleading. I availed myself of the name of the former proofreader for the University Press, Cambridge, to defend my grammatical construction, and confidently awaited the years to declare the moral and spiritual effect upon the age of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.”

    I invited Mr. Wiggin to visit one of my classes in the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, and he consented on condition that I should not ask him any questions. I agreed not to question him just so long as he refrained from questioning me. He held himself well in check until I began my attack on agnosticism. As I proceeded, Mr. Wiggin manifested more and more agitation, until he could control himself no longer and, addressing me, burst out with:

    “How do you know that there ever was such a man as Christ Jesus?”

    He would have continued with a long argument, framed from his ample fund of historical knowledge, but I stopped him.

    “Now, Mr. Wiggin,” I said, “you have broken our agreement. I do not find my authority for Christian Science in history, but in revelation. If there had never 319existed such a person as the Galilean Prophet, it would make no difference to me. I should still know that God’s spiritual ideal is the only real man in His image and likeness.”

    My saying touched him, and I heard nothing further from him in the class, though afterwards he wrote a kind little pamphlet, signed “Phare Pleigh.”

    I hold the late Mr. Wiggin in loving, grateful memory for his high-principled character and well-equipped scholarship.

Letters from Students

    The following letters from students of Mrs. Eddy confirm her statement regarding the work which the Rev. Mr. Wiggin did for her, and also indicate what he himself thought of that work and of Mrs. Eddy: —

    My Dear Teacher: — I am conversant with some facts which perhaps have not come under the observation of many of your students, and considering the questions which have recently appeared, it may interest you to be advised that I have this information. On the tenth day of January, 1887, I entered your Primary class at Boston. A few days later, in conversation with you about the preparation of a theme, you suggested that I call on the late J. Henry Wiggin to assist me in analyzing and arranging the topics, which I did about the twentieth of the above-named month. These dates are very well fixed in my memory, as I considered the time an important one in my experience, and do so still. I also recall very plainly the conversation with you in general as regards Mr. Wiggin. You told me that he had done some literary 320work for you and that he was a fine literary student and a good proofreader.

    Upon calling on Mr. Wiggin, I presented my matter for a theme to him, and he readily consented to assist me, which he did. He also seemed very much pleased to converse about you and your work, and I found that his statement of what he had done for you exactly agreed with what you had told me. He also expressed himself freely as to his high regard for you as a Christian lady, as an author, and as a student of ability. Mr. Wiggin spoke of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” as being a very unique book, and seemed quite proud of his having had something to do with some editions. He always spoke of you as the author of this book and the author of all your works. Mr. Wiggin did not claim to be a Christian Scientist, but was in a measure in sympathy with the movement, although he did not endorse all the statements in your textbook; but his tendency was friendly.

    I called on Mr. Wiggin several times while I was in your Primary class at the time above referred to, and several times subsequent thereto, and he always referred to you as the author of your works and spoke of your ability without any hesitation or restriction. Our conversations were at times somewhat long and went into matters of detail regarding your work, and I am of the opinion that he was proud of his acquaintance with you.

    I saw Mr. Wiggin several times after the class closed, and the last conversation I had with him was at the time of the dedication of the first Mother Church edifice in 1895. I met him in the vestibule of the church and he spoke in a very animated manner of your 321grand demonstration in building this church for your followers. He seemed very proud to think that he had been in a way connected with your work, but he always referred to you as the one who had accomplished this great work.

    My recollections of Mr. Wiggin place him as one of your devoted and faithful friends, one who knew who and what you are, also your position as regards your published works; and he always gave you that position without any restriction. I believe that Mr. Wiggin was an honest man and that he told the same story to every one with whom he had occasion to talk, so I cannot believe that he has ever said anything whatever of you and your relations to your published works differing from what he talked so freely in my presence.

    There is nothing in the circumstances which have arisen recently, and the manner in which the statements have been made, to change my opinion one iota in this respect.

    It will soon be twenty years since I first saw you and entered your class. During that time, from my connection with the church, the Publishing Society, and my many conversations with you, my personal knowledge of the authorship of your works is conclusive to me in every detail, and I am very glad that I was among your early students and have had this experience and know of my own personal knowledge what has transpired during the past twenty years.

    I am also pleased to have had conversations with people who knew you years before I did, and who have told me of their knowledge of your work.

322    It is not long since I met a lady who lived in Lynn, and she told me she knew you when you were writing Science and Health, and that she had seen the manuscript. These are facts which cannot be controverted and they must stand.

Your affectionate student,
EDWARD P. BATES
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, November 21, 1906

    My Beloved Teacher: — I have just read your statement correcting mistakes widely published about the Rev. James H. Wiggin’s work for and attitude towards you; also Mr. Edward P. Bates’ letter to you on the same subject; which reminds me of a conversation I had with Mr. Wiggin on Thanksgiving Day twenty years ago, when a friend and I were the guests invited to dine with the Wiggin family.

    I had seen you the day before at the Metaphysical College and received your permission to enter the next Primary class (Jan. 10, 1887). During the evening my friend spoke of my journeying from the far South, and waiting months in Boston on the bare hope of a few days’ instruction by Mrs. Eddy in Christian Science. She and Mrs. Wiggin seemed inclined to banter me on such enthusiasm, but Mr. Wiggin kindly helped me by advancing many good points in the Science, which were so clearly stated that I was surprised when he told me he was not a Christian Scientist.

    Seeing my great interest in the subject, he told me of his acquaintance with you and spoke earnestly and beautifully of you and your work. The exact words I do not recall, but the impression he left with me was 323entirely in accordance with what Mr. Bates has so well written in the above-mentioned letter. Before we left that evening, Mr. Wiggin gave me a pamphlet entitled “Christian Science and the Bible,” by “Phare Pleigh,” which he said he had written in answer to an unfair criticism of you and your book by some minister in the far West. I have his little book yet. How long must it be before the people find out that you have so identified yourself with the truth by loving it and living it that you are not going to lie about anything nor willingly leave any false impression.

    In loving gratitude for your living witness to Truth and Love,

FLORENCE WHITESIDE
CHATTANOOGA, TENN.,
       December 4, 1906

    Beloved Teacher: — My heart has been too full to tell you in words all that your wonderful life and sacrifice means to me. Neither do I now feel at all equal to expressing the crowding thoughts of gratitude and praise to God for giving this age such a Leader and teacher to reveal to us His way. Your crowning triumph over error and sin, which we have so recently witnessed, in blessing those who would destroy you if God did not hold you up by the right hand of His righteousness, should mean to your older students much that they may not have been able to appreciate in times past.

    I wonder if you will remember that Mr. Snider and myself boarded in the home of the late Rev. J. Henry Wiggin during the time of our studying in the second class with you — the Normal class in the fall of 1887? We were at that time some eight days in Mr. and Mrs. 324Wiggin’s home. He often spoke his thoughts freely about you and your work, especially your book Science and Health. Mr. Wiggin had somewhat of a thought of contempt for the unlearned, and he scorned the suggestion that Mr. Quimby had given you any idea for your book, as he said you and your ideas were too much alike for the book to have come from any one but yourself. He often said you were so original and so very decided that no one could be of much service to you, and he often hinted that he thought he could give a clearer nomenclature for Science and Health. I remember telling you of this, and you explained how long you had waited on the Lord to have those very terms revealed to you.

    I am very sure that neither Mr. Wiggin nor his estimable wife had any other thought but that you were the author of your book, and were he here to-day he would be too honorable to allow the thought to go out that he had helped you write it. He certainly never gave us the impression that he thought you needed help, for we always thought that Mr. Wiggin regarded you as quite his literary equal, and was gratified and pleased in numbering you among his literary friends. Everything he said conveyed this impression to us — that he regarded you as entirely unique and original. He told us laughingly why he accepted your invitation to sit through your class. He said he wanted to see if there was one woman under the sun who could keep to her text. When we asked him if he found you could do so, he replied “Yes,” and said that no man could have done so any better.

    Both Mr. and Mrs. Wiggin frequently mentioned 325many kindnesses you had shown them, and spoke of one especial day when amidst all your duties you personally called to inquire of his welfare (he had been ill) and to leave luscious hothouse fruit. One thing more, that I think will amuse you: Mr. Wiggin was very much troubled that you had bought your house on Commonwealth Avenue, as he was very sure Back Bay property would never be worth what you then paid for it. He regarded the old part of Boston in which he lived as having a greater future than the new Back Bay.

    Years ago I offered my services to you in any capacity in which I could serve you, and my desire has never changed. Command me at any time, in any way, beloved Leader.

    With increasing love and gratitude, ever faithfully your student,

CARRIE HARVEY SNIDER
NEW YORK, N. Y.,
       December 7, 1906