"MARK TWAIN" INDORSES EXPOSURE OF MRS. EDDY
He Says Mr. Wright Proves She Didn't Write Science and Health.
HIS OWN BOOK UNPUBLISHED
And Mr. Clemens Says He Doesn't Know Why His Argument Against Her Claims Has Been Suppressed.
Mark Twain, whose book intended to prove that Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy could not have written such a finished literary work as "Science and Health" has never been published, was brought into the Christian Science controversy yesterday. The introduction of Mr. Clemens into the controversy was due to the publication yesterday of a manuscript written by Livingston Wright of Boston in 1901, in which Mr. Wright contends that it was the late Rev. J. Henry Wiggin who revised and rewrote "Science and Health."
Mark Twain, owing to his familiarity with the subject, was selected by Mr. Wright to look over his manuscript. Mr. Clemens, after carefully reading the manuscript, gave it his indorsement and declared that he could not at that time (1903) understand why Mr. Wright had waited two years without publishing "so interesting and valuable" a paper.
In his manuscript, Mr. Wright, who is the literary executor of the Rev. Mr. Wiggin, states that Mr. Wiggin in August, 1895, received a call at his office in the old Boston Music Hall from a man who said that he was "Calvin A. Frye." Frye said that he represented a woman who wished to have a manuscript revised. A few days later Mrs. Eddy called on Mr. Wiggin, and the outcome of that visit was the contract for Mr. Wiggin to revise "Science and Health."
Mr. Wiggin told Mr. Wright that when he opened the manuscript he was surprised by the misspelling, the lack of punctuation, and he chaotic arrangement of the subjects. Mr. Wiggin said that were passages that flatly contradicted others that had preceded them, while incorrect references to historical and philosophical matters were scattered all through the Eddy manuscript.
Mr. Wiggin revised the work, and added a chapter entitled "Wayside Hints." The book that is now known as "Science and Health" was the result. In his lifetime Mr. Wiggin kept the secret of his participation in the preparation of the Eddy book from the public, but he left instructions with Mr. Wright as his literary executor to make public at the proper time the truth about "Science and Health."
When Mr. Wright sent his manuscript containing the statement of Mr. Wiggin's part in the publication to Mark Twain, the latter sent him the following reply, which Mr. Clemens said yesterday was self-explanatory of his interest in the matter. The letter is as follows:
Riverdale, New York City, April 17, 1903.
Dear Sir: The MS., with your letter of yesterday, arrived in my bedroom with my breakfast two hours ago, and I have already read the MS. through. I wonder why you have kept it two years without publishing it, for I find it exceedingly interesting and valuable, and with only one weak place in it that I can discover - the same one that is in Mr. Peabody's pamphlet: the presenting (on your Page 28) of that grotesque irruption of Mrs. Eddy's in print form instead of (at least partly) in facsimile reproduction of her hand. With that defect cured your essay would gain great strength. But it is convincingly strong - strong enough, in my belief, to prove to every intelligent non-Scientist that Mrs. Eddy and God did not write "Science and Health." All the world and God added could not convince a Scientist (intelligent or otherwise) that Mrs. Eddy's claim to the authorship is a lie and a swindle.
The first paragraph of your letter requires me to make instant decision or return your MS.; therefore, as I am not able to act so quickly (I am in bed these five days with bronchitis and barred from work,) I will make the return per to-day's next mail, as in honor bound.
I am puzzled. In the new part of my book I take up a great deal of space with an elaborate argument reinforced by extracts from Mrs. Eddy's literature, to prove that she couldn't write "Science and Health," and must have stolen it - circumstantial evidence, the whole of it - and now comes your essay and proves the same points by what the world would consider much better evidence. It's like a man trying to prove by labored and finespun logic that there has been a murder, and then, when he gets through, remarking to the state manager, "Ask Mr. Wright to fetch in that corpse."
A reader might properly say: "Why did you make me read all that stuff, when you might have introduced Mr. Wright and the corpse in the first place and saved my time?"
Either process would do in a book, but doubtless to use one would bar the other from the book. I learn by a letter from a stranger that my book has been withdrawn until Autumn. It is true; I did it myself. I wonder how he knows. I have not said it publicly.
Very truly yours, S. L. CLEMENS.
Yesterday at his home, 21 Fifth Avenue, Mr. Clemens said that he did not know why his book, which he said is still in the hands of his publishers, had never reached the public. He said that the nature of the work was indicated in his letter to Mr. Wright. Beyond this, he added, under the circumstances he could not talk at present.
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