Quimby & Wiggin – no one wants to share the fame

This is part of our series Where did “Science & Health” come from? This post briefly covers two Phineas Pankhurst Quimby – her mentor and James Henry Wiggin – her editor.


Phineas Parkhurts Quimby

While Ms. Eddy was undoubtedly influenced by Quimby, the general consensus is that the conclusions she came to are entirely her own. Eddy biographer Edwin Dakin sums up their relationship when he writes:

Others of his pupils lost themselves in Quimby’s philosophy, but Mrs. Glover lost Quimby in herself” (Dakin, 92).

Eddy biographer, Gillian Gill devotes a number of pages to the issue of Ms. Eddy and P.P. Quimby. We must, however, be mindful of Gottschalk’s research in Rolling Away the Stone. On page 72 he writes

George Quimby, a strong champion of his father’s originality, wrote, “Don’t confuse his method of healing with Mrs. Eddy’s Christian Science, so far as her religious teachings go… The religion which she teaches certainly is hers, for which I cannot be too thankful; for I should loath to go down into my grave feeling that my father was in any way connected with “Christian Science.”

Eddy’s history and correspondence with Quimby speaks volumes on it’s own. We highly recommend checking out some of the original sources, including The Quimby Manuscripts Showing the Discovery of Spiritual Healing and the Origin of Christian Science by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby  January 1, 1921, Ms. Eddy (then Mrs. Patterson)’s letters to Quimby (found in Ch. 12 of the aforementioned Quimby Manuscripts) and McClure’s Magazine, Volume 28.


James Henry Wiggin

Mary Baker Eddy’s editor (for a dozen or so editions) was Reverend James Henry Wiggin. Wiggin undoubedly played an important role in crafting Science and Health.  As Gillian Gill points out on page 217 of Mary Baker Eddy:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the earliest editions of Science and Health, put out before Mary Baker Eddy could afford the editorial assistance of educated gentlemen such as the Reverend Wiggin, were little more than illiterate ramblings. (Gill, p. 217)

Eddy biographers Gill, Milmine, and Dakin all agree

What Mr. Wiggin did for Science and Health was to put  into intelligible English the ideas which Mrs. Eddy had so  befogged in the stating of them. Any one who reads a chapter, a page, or even a paragraph of the 1884 edition, and compares  it with the same portion in the edition of 1886, will see the more obvious part of Mr. Wiggin’s work. (Milmine p. 329)

Wiggin is also credited with adding Hindu parallels:

Several articles stating that from the 24th edition Science and Health through the 33rd edition, Eddy admitted the harmony between Vedanta philosophy and Christian Science. She also quoted passages from an English translation of the Bhagavad Gita. Rather conveniently these editions are not readily available online, and MBE biographer Gillian Gill claims the Hindu references were introduced by Ms. Eddy’s editor, Reverend James Henry Wiggin (p. 332-333).


Read more Quimby:

Read more Wiggin:

Where did “Science & Health” come from?

Mary Baker Eddy claimed that her work was “hopelessly original.”1 But was it? Are we to believe that her philosophy and her system of mind healing came to her through divine inspiration, without any influence from the intellectual preoccupations of her times?

In fact, nearly everything in her teachings, as laid out in her textbook, Science & Health, with Key to the Scriptures, had antecedents in contemporary and historical thinkers. Whether she consciously recognized it or not, her philosophy was influenced and shaped by ideas originated and enlarged by others.

The notion of spiritual healing was hardly new in the 1870s when she was writing Science & Health. The Catholic Church documents miraculous healings (Intercession of the Saints), and Martin Luther touched on the topic as well. As for mental healing, the idea that people’s thoughts have some influence over their physical condition was certainly not new. The ancient physician Hippocrates (460 BC – 377 BC) is famously attributed with saying:

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.

The Bible was hugely influential in Eddy’s day. Healings appear in both the Old and New Testaments, and religious laity generally accepted spiritual healing as real. Indeed, many spiritual healers were practicing various versions of it. John Alexander Dowie, described by one historian as “the most important and notorious divine healer in America,” founded the International Divine Healing Association in 1886.2 Eddy was by no means alone.

In the non-religious sphere, natural scientists, philosophers, physicians, and others in history pondered the relationships between mind and body. Plato, Galen, Descartes, Kant, Gassner, Mesmer and others, all sought an understanding of the mind/body connection.

But the indisputable primary influence on Eddy was the mesmeric healer Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, with whom she studied for three years. Quimby’s ideas derived from a philosophical current with roots in the Enlightenment. Caroline Fraser explains:

Many philosophers had, of course, already made pronouncements that asserted the primacy of mind over matter. Eddy would imbibe them through Quimby. There were the theories of the Irish bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753) that there was no substance but spirit, and the German philosopher Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854), who held that “nature is spirit visible, and spirit is invisible nature.” Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) and other idealist philosophers proclaimed that “mind is the only substance.”3

Exploring all of Eddy’s sources of inspiration on one’s own can become a study in esoteric minutia, so we will attempt to provide a sweeping overview and resources for those who are interested to read further. With this in mind, the Ex Christian Scientist will present a series of posts examining whose ideas shaped the theology of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.


1 Retrospection and Introspection 35:4-10.

2 Peters, Shawn Francis. When Prayer Fails: Faith Healing, Children, and the Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print. (Kindle edition, loc.1110)

3 Fraser, Caroline. God’s Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church. New York: Metropolitan Books, 1999. 51. Print.

Cross & Crown

A collection of references regarding the Cross and Crown imagery used in Christian Science.


Trademark information about the Cross and Crown from The Mother Church

The Cross and Crown seal is a registered trademark of the Christian Science Board of Directors. Therefore, anyone making use of the seal must first have a formal license issued through the Trademark Administrator of The Mother Church. Please pardon the formality and procedure, but it is necessary to protect this valuable trademark.

Free Masons

A collection of references discussing the Masonic connections of Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science.


If you’re looking for a great conspiracy theory, look no further, Mary Baker Eddy and her Masonic Connections! The Free Masons are behind many great conspiracy theories so it comes as no surprise that Ms. Eddy herself was involved with them!

Like in most things esoteric we find there is Freemasonry involvement. Like the fact one of the most important New Thought organisations Christian Science uses the symbol of the crown and the cross. Which is also a Freemasonry symbol. The crown also has five points on it. So if it was laid out flat it would be a five pointed star or Pentagram. As previously explained the Pentagram is associated with the Rose, so it is sort of Rosy Cross symbol, as used by the Rosicrucians. The cross also goes through the crown showing a obvious sexual association. Though it is also a symbol of unity of making the masculine and feminine One. Christian Science was also the first Christian sect to put forward the concept of a Father and Mother god and so help to bring back the Goddess. It was also the first Christian Sect to be started and led solely by a woman, Mary Baker Eddy. Her first husband Colonel George Washington Glover was a Freemason. She had some of her writings published in “Freemason’s Monthly Magazine” and many early Christian Scientists leaders under Mary Baker Eddy were also Freemasons.  via Freemasonry and the hidden Goddess


 

Mary Baker Eddy discussing the Free Masons in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany Chapter XIX [The Christian Science Journal] A Memorable Coincidence and Historical Facts 

Dear Editor: — I send for publication in our periodicals the following deeply interesting letter from Elizabeth Earl Jones of Asheville, N. C., — the State where my husband, Major George W. Glover, passed on and up, the State that so signally honored his memory, where with wet eyes the Free Masons laid on his bier the emblems of a master Mason, and in long procession with tender dirge bore his remains to their last resting-place. Deeply grateful, I recognize the divine hand in turning the hearts of the noble 327Southrons of North Carolina legally to protect the practice of Christian Science in that State.
Is it not a memorable coincidence that, in the Court of New Hampshire, my native State, and in the Legislature of North Carolina, they have the same year, in 1903, made it legal to practise Christian Science in these States?
MARY BAKER EDDY
PLEASANT VIEW, CONCORD, N. H.
October 16, 1903

Eddy’s response to the McClure’s Magazine features via The Truth about Mary Baker Eddy

Regarding my first marriage and the tragic death of my husband, McClure’s Magazine says: “He [George Washington Glover] took his bride to Wilmington, South Carolina, and in June, 1844, six months after his marriage, he died of yellow fever. He left his young wife in a miserable plight. She was far from home and entirely without money or friends. Glover, however, was a Free Mason, and thus received a decent burial. The Masons also paid Mrs. Glover’s fare to New York City, where she was met and taken to her father’s home by her brother George. . . . Her position was an embarrassing one. She was a grown woman, with a child, but entirely without means of support. . . . Mrs. Glover made only one effort at self-support. For a brief season she taught school.”

My first husband, Major George W. Glover, resided in Charleston, S. C. While on a business trip to Wilmington, N. C., he was suddenly seized with yellow fever and died in about nine days. I was with him on this trip. He took with him the usual amount of money he would need on such an excursion. At his decease I was surrounded by friends, and their provisions in my behalf were most tender. The Governor of the State and his staff, with a long procession, followed the remains of my beloved one to the cemetery. The Free Masons selected my escort, who took me to my father’s home in Tilton, N. H. My salary for writing gave me ample support. I did open an infant school, but it was for the purpose of starting that educational system in New Hampshire. [emphasis added]


From an excerpt of “En Route to Global Occupation” by Gary H. Kah, published by Huntington House. 

Freemasonry experienced tremendous growth during the nineteenth century, particularly during the second half of the century when Freemasonry flourished as never before. This was also a time of rapid growth for Masonically-inspired religious cults. In addition to founding the Theosophical Society, Freemasonry participated in the rise and spread of Christian Science and Unitarianism; and Masons Rutherford and Russell founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses. [emphasis added]


Further Reading:

Myths & Legends: The ‘Fall On The Ice’

By Jeremy, an Ex-Christian Scientist group editor/writer.

Like almost any other religion, Christian Science has its own mythology: those stories that form the core of the faith’s origins, and which often serve to bind its followers together and to the faith, and to validate the faith’s claims. A central story in the anthology of Christian Science myths is what’s often referred to as the ‘Fall On The Ice In Lynn (Massachusetts)’. If you visit the city of Lynn, which is just north of Boston, you can see a memorial plaque at the location at the corner of Market Street and Oxford Street in the downtown area, where our story starts. Anyone who has grown up in, or been in Christian Science for any amount of time knows the story well. This is considered to be the central event that led directly to Mary Baker Eddy’s ‘discovery’ of Christian Science.

A foundational legend of the origins of Christian Science

On February 1, 1866, Eddy was on her way to a Temperance movement meeting in downtown Lynn. She slipped and fell on the ice-covered sidewalk and was transported unconscious to a nearby house, where a doctor was summoned to treat her.

According to Eddy’s account, her condition was beyond the ability of medical practice to help. She claimed that the attending doctor gave her only a few days to live. Somehow, she managed the strength to ask for her Bible and began a deep study of it, focusing her attention particularly on Jesus’s healing of a paralyzed man (Matthew 9:2). Miraculously, after about three days, she had an ‘immediate recovery’:

It was in Massachusetts, in February, 1866. . .that I discovered the Science of divine metaphysical healing which I afterwards named Christian Science.1

From this point on, so the story goes, Eddy sought to understand and ultimately explain this miraculous healing. She claimed an “immediate recovery” from the effects of her injury.

My immediate recovery from the effects of an injury caused by an accident, an injury that neither medicine nor surgery could reach, was the falling apple that led me to the discovery how to be well myself, and how to make others so.2

Some overlooked facts

There is no doubt that Eddy fell on the ice on a cold February evening in Lynn in 1866 and was taken unconscious to a nearby home where she was seen by a local physician. Beyond this, the story starts to take on the traits of a myth. There is fact and truth at its core, but it is shrouded in a blanket of hyperbole and exaggeration. Here are some facts that are ignored or revised in the ‘official’ Christian Science canon:

  1. The injury Eddy suffered was not life-threatening or nearly as serious as claimed by Eddy: Eddy claimed that the attending doctor, Dr. Alvin Cushing, told her that there was no hope for her recovery and that she only had about three days more to live.3 According to Cushing’s own records, consisting of case notes he made at the time he treated Eddy, that is not true. In a sworn affidavit, Cushing, referring to his notes, directly refutes a central part of Eddy’s version of events: “I did not at any time declare, or believe, there was no hope for Mrs. Patterson’s recovery, or that she was in critical condition, and did not at any time say, or believe, that she had but three or any other limited number of days to live.” (sworn affidavit of Dr. Alvin Cushing, January 2, 1907 – Hampden County, Massachusetts).4 Eddy also was treated on at least two subsequent occasions by Cushing following her miraculous three-day recovery, as well as professional visits in August of that year.5
  2. The ‘healing’ may not have been as quick, complete, and/or miraculous as later claimed by Eddy and her followers: just two weeks after her fall in Lynn, Eddy also sought metaphysical treatment from Julius Dresser, a fellow student of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. In her imploring letter to him, she expressed a feeling quite opposite of what she portrays in her own autobiographical recollection: “Two weeks ago I fell on the sidewalk . . .and was taken up for dead . . . ” She goes on to say, “The physician attending said I had taken the last step I ever should but in two days I got out of my bed alone, and will walk; but yet I confess I am frightened, and out of that nervous heat my friends are forming, spite of me, the terrible spinal affection from which I have suffered so long and hopelessly.”6 Eddy also was treated on at least three subsequent occasions by Cushing following her immediate’ three-day recovery.
  3. Eddy initiated a lawsuit against the City of Lynn in connection to the accident: it is worth noting, as one considers the veracity of Eddy’s claims of the epiphanic nature of this ‘healing’, that she began the process (later rescinded) of suing the city, claiming that the city was responsible for her injuries due to unsafe conditions in the street. In a petition presented to the city in the summer of 1866, she stated that she was seeking damages for “serious personal injuries from which she had little prospect of recovering.7 (emphasis is mine).
  4. Eddy didn’t cite her 1866 fall and healing until years later: Nowhere in her published writings does Eddy describe afall on the ice’ (it only occurs in her letter to Julius Dresser). Her slim autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, published in 1891, refers vaguely to “an injury caused by an accident.” (p. 24) She goes on to say that after her recovery she “withdrew from society about three years, — to ponder my mission, to search the Scriptures, to find the Science of Mind that should take the things of God and show them to the creature, and reveal the great curative Principle,–Diety.” (pp. 24-25) If her 1866 accident and miraculous healing had been the revelatory event that led to her discovery of Christian Science, one would think she would have mentioned it in her early writings. But the first edition of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which appeared in 1875, makes no reference to the event. Only years later, well after the establishment of her church, does she refer to a healing of an injury in 1866. 

Some concluding thoughts

As one who grew up in and practiced Christian Science for 41 years, I took the story of the ‘Fall In Lynn’ as the origin point of my faith. This story was presented as the first and penultimate proof of the effectiveness of Christian Science as a healing agent. Mary Baker Eddy was near death, and she miraculously healed herself, and from that moment on she set about to putting her ‘discovery’ to words and sharing this system of healing with the world. That is the story that I and many others accepted as the whole and complete truth. It is the version that fuels the legend of Christian Science, and gives it its so-called ‘power’.

The facts presented here cast serious doubt on the veracity of Eddy’s and Christian Scientists’ claims regarding this important origin story. Sometimes, memories of events change over time, stories get embellished a bit, and smaller details get lost in the mists of ones memory. But in this case, it appears that Eddy fashioned this story in later years to create a revelatory myth for the origin of her religion. More than a few biographers, both friendly and critical, have mentioned Eddy’s propensity for shaping the truth to suit her needs.

Many religions have a singular origin moment or series of events that spark their birth. For instance, the Mormons have the story of the tablets containing the Book of Mormon being revealed to Joseph Smith in the woods of upstate New York; for Muslims, it is the 22-year period in which Muhammad received revelations he believed to be from God, which were recorded in the Qur’an. History is replete with many other such stories. Eddy and her followers turned a winter accident that resulted in a serious, but not really life-threatening injury into a virtual raisingofthedead myth that led to the discovery of the ‘miraculous’ healing system known as Christian Science.


Footnotes:

1 Eddy, Mary B. G. Retrospection and Introspection. Boston, Massachusetts: The Christian Science Board of Directors, 1892. 24. Print.

2 Ibid.

3 Gill, Gillian. Mary Baker Eddy. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Books, 1998. 162. Print.

4 Milmine, Georgine. The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy: and the History of Christian Science. New York, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1909. 84-86. Print.

5 Ibid.

6 Gill, p. 158.

7 Ibid.


 

Related Links:

Mary Baker Eddy (Wikipedia article).

Christian Science (Wikipedia article).