This last summer, when I was on my way back to Vienna from the Appetite- Cure in the mountains, I fell over a cliff in the twilight, and broke some arms and legs and one thing or another….He continues:
There was a village a mile away, and a horse doctor lived there, but there was no surgeon. It seemed a bad outlook; mine was distinctly a surgery case. Then it was remembered that a lady from Boston was summering in that village, and she was a Christian Science doctor and could cure anything. So she was sent for. It was night by this time, and she could not conveniently come, but sent word that it was no matter, there was no hurry, she would give me "absent treatment" now, and come in the morning; meantime she begged me to make myself tranquil and comfortable and remember that there was nothing the matter with me. I thought there must be some mistake.Welcome to the world of Christian Science Mr. Twain. As Mrs. Fulton shows up to treat Mark Twain, among other things, she tows the Christian Science line, stating
"Did you tell her I walked off a cliff seventy-five feet high?"
"And struck a boulder at the bottom and bounced?"
"And struck another one and bounced again?"
"And struck another one and bounced yet again?"
"And broke the boulders?"
"That accounts for it; she is thinking of the boulders. Why didn't you tell her I got hurt, too?"
"I did. I told her what you told me to tell her: that you were now but an incoherent series of compound fractures extending from your scalp-lock to your heels, and that the comminuted projections caused you to look like a hat-rack."
"And it was after this that she wished me to remember that there was nothing the matter with me?"
"Those were her words."
"I do not understand it. I believe she has not diagnosed the case with sufficient care. Did she look like a person who was theorizing, or did she look like one who has fallen off precipices herself and brings to the aid of abstract science the confirmations of personal experience?"
“…Does she seem to be in full and functionable possession of her intellectual plant, such as it is?"
"One does not feel," she explained; "there is no such thing as feeling: therefore, to speak of a non-existent thing as existent is a contradiction. Matter has no existence; nothing exists but mind; the mind cannot feel pain, it can only imagine it."After Mrs. Fulton has gone, Twain goes on to describe his imaginary healing and subsequent need of further practical treatment at the hands of the horse-doctor:
"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 nonexistences in your presence. Such talk only encourages the mind to continue its empty imaginings." Just at that point the Stuben-madchen 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 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 imagining 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 a real pain, and she not being able to imagine an imaginary one, it would seem that God in His pity has compensated the cat with some kind of a mysterious emotion usable 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 recognize and confess that there is no such thing as disease or pain or death."
Under the powerful influence of the near treatment and the absent treatment together, my bones were gradually retreating inward and disappearing from view. The good work took a brisk start, now, and went on swiftly. My body was diligently straining and stretching, this way and that, to accommodate the processes of restoration, and every minute or two I heard a dull click inside and knew that the two ends of a fracture had been successfully joined. This muffled clicking and gritting and grinding and rasping continued during the next three hours, and then stopped--the connections had all been made. All except dislocations; there were only seven of these: hips, shoulders, knees, neck; so that was soon over; one after another they slipped into their sockets with a sound like pulling a distant cork, and I jumped up as good as new, as to framework, and sent for the horse-doctor.A bit further down in the story, Twain offers this ending to his whole bone-bending experience, in a way that only Mark Twain can do:
I was obliged to do this because I had a stomach-ache and a cold in the head, and I was not willing to trust these things any longer in the hands of a woman whom I did not know, and whose ability to successfully treat mere disease I had lost all confidence. My position was justified by the fact that the cold and the ache had been in her charge from the first, along with the fractures, but had experienced not a shade of relief; and, indeed, the ache was even growing worse and worse, and more and more bitter, now, probably on account of the protracted abstention from food and drink.
Christian Science had been around for several decades when Mark Twain wrote this book. He brings his literary prowess to bear in what is essentially a diatribe against Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science cult. The lumps she receives from Twain are well deserved. You can download the book for free here.
The horse-doctor charged me thirty kreutzers, and I paid him; in fact, I doubled it and gave him a shilling. Mrs. Fuller brought in an itemized bill for a crate of broken bones mended in two hundred and thirty-four places--one dollar per fracture.
"Nothing exists but Mind?"
"Nothing," she answered. "All else is substanceless, all else is imaginary."
I gave her an imaginary check, and now she is suing me for substantial dollars. It looks inconsistent.