Eugene V. (Eugene Valentine) Brewster.

What's what in America online

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What's What




Eugene V. Brewster


Motion Picture Magazine, Motion Picture
Classic and Shadowland

The Wm. G. Hewitt Press

61-67 Navy Street
Brooklyn. N. Y.

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R 1932 L






A MERICA is a heterogeneous conglomeration of
"^ humans comprising a homogeneity. They
are all alike, yet they are unalike. All corners of
the earth have contributed in the making, yet the one
hundred millions have all been blended together into
the huge melting pot and we call them Americans.
They were attracted to "the land of the free" and
remain here because no other country offers such
prizes and such liberty. All are engaged in a wild
scramble for fame and fortune, yet they are sadly
disorganized. While they have their labor unions,
churches, colleges, societies, and cults galore, and
while they have their governments (city, county,
state and national), and while the more successful
ones (capitalists) have their organizations (trusts,
monopolies and banking institutions), there is no or-
ganization of the whole. Nobody seems to take into
account the tremendously important fact that all men
and all industries are now interdependent, and that
therefore they must all be organized into one organ-
^ One of the most marvellous things in America is
^ the fact that we are so unorganized that at any mo-



ment the whole nation may be tied up and bound
hand and foot by strikes. Any morning we may
wake up and find the nation paralized. Labor is be-
coming so organized that all industries are at its
mercy. The cost of living continues to rise, and we
are powerless to prevent profiteers from monopoliz-
ing our products and making prices to suit them-
selves. We have no way to make people work if
they don't want to, even if we starve. Under our
present laws we cannot prevent strikes and walk-outs,
even if we perish. There is nothing to prevent a
few men from cornering the market on all commodi-
ties and paralizing the nation's industries.

And yet there is a remedy, and a simple one.

Free thought reigns supreme in America, and the
national mind and character have been moulded in a
remarkably liberal manner.

A nation that embraces a multitude of believers
in such theories as phrenology. Christian Science, os-
teopathy, astrology, spiritism, etc., and which adopts
these and other fads as religions, must indeed be an
over-credulous if not a fanatical one. Some of these
isms and ologies have been dissected and analyzed in
the following pages, and these little essays have been
inserted parenthetically, as it were. They tend to
prove that Barnum was right when he said, "The
American public loves to be humbugged."

Here in America, not so many years ago, we were
burning people at the stake and punishing innocent
persons for witchcraft. Still later some of our best
people were holding converse with departed spirits
who were otherwise busying themselves with upset-


ting tables, painting portraits, etc. And it is so even
now. Thousands of intelligent Americans are now
being guided in all their affairs by mediums, as-
trologists, palmists, clairvoyants, etc. Some years
ago I had occasion to make a more or less thorough
Investigation of some of these isms and ologles, and
in the following chapters I have given some of the

Our forefathers came here to escape religious per-
secutions at home, but one of the first things they did
on landing was to Impose the penalty of death on all
those who should dissent from their own religious be-
liefs. These and other similar Puritanic orders have
done much to prevent the growth and development
of the arts in America. We have had liberty and
freedom to excess, In some respects, yet In other re-
spects we have been tied hand and foot. We are not
yet a full-grown nation. America Is still In Its In-
fancy of development.

It is also Interesting to note how Americans follow
a chosen leader like so many sheep, and how and why
certain leaders become popular. Hence, a few chap-
ters have been added which treat of men, habits, pop-
ularity, greatness, the public, etc.

The author makes no apology for the fact that
these little articles were not written with the Inten-
tion of Inserting them In this volume. It Is obvious
•that they were not. Nevertheless, they are given
here for what they are worth, because they may
be helpful In showing What's What In America.

The Author.
December 15, 1919.



Credulity 5

Christian Science 10

Osteopathy 29

Phrenology 42

Physiognomy 54

Dreams 61

Superstitions ... 71

Stage Tricks and Occultism 84

Ghosts ... 94

Strikes, Profiteering and the

High Cost OF Living loi

The Public ... 163

Popularity 167

Greatness ... 172

The Martyrdom of Genius 183

Gentlemen, Be Seated ... ... 189

Beards 202

Gambling ...211

Wedding Bells 222

What's What In America


THE physical origin of mental delusion has
many times been investigated and ex-
plained by various philosophers, but the
different forms of credulity and superstition have
never yet been satisfactorily treated with refer-
ence to the physiological and pathological prin-
ciples upon which they depend.

From the beginning, man was and is, by nature,
endowed with an eager propensity for novelty.
This is particularly true of Americans. His
passion for the novel, the singular and the un-
usual, has influenced his mind to attempt to dis-
cover the character of objects concealed in the
remote recesses of infinite space, and to investi-
gate the various invisible agencies that he has
always found, and still finds, in perpetual opera-
tion around him. Curiosity has always been one
of the great impelling forces of the scientific in-



vestigator. As Winwood Reade says in his mas-
terly "Martyrdom of Man," "The Philosophic
spirit of inquiry may be traced to brute curiosity,
and that to the habit of examining all things in
search of food."

Man is by nature a credulous, and at the same
time a superstitious, being, and ever prone to
allow an undue influence to the imagination and
passions. This is due to the original structure
and specific elements of the mind. It is a natural
trait of the mind to contemplate with interest
whatever is presented to it as deviating from or-
dinary natural events, whatever is novel or
strange, and whatever affects the senses, through
an obscure medium so as to arouse the passions.
Thus, when primeval man first felt, saw or heard
such natural phenomena as volcanic eruptions,
earthquakes, the aurora borealis, thunder, light-
ning, meteors, and eclipses, it was quite natural
for him to people the hidden recesses of the earth
and of space with demons, and to imagine that
these strange noises and sights were manifesta-
tions of some powerful enemy. In his blind ig-
norance, he could ascribe no natural causes to
the phenomena, and he therefore attributed them
to supernatural agencies. His feeling of depend-
ence, and of insecurity, in the face of these
mighty unknown forces, inclined him to seek a


protector, and for this purpose he created one or
more gods. Idols of various kinds answered the
purpose, until his dawning intelligence taught
him the futility of this sort of worship, and then
he worshipped the sun and other heavenly
bodies. Then a glimpse of astronomy further
enlightened him, and, realizing the absurdity of
planet worship, he invented other gods of an
invisible nature to which he attributed the crea-
tion of all phenomena. The propensity for the
novel and marvelous always obscured his reason
and judgment. To the ignorant mind, everything
marvelous is super-natural; but the philosopher
sees in all marvelous phenomena nothing but the
results of natural causes, even if those causes are
not yet fully understood. Science cannot yet
fathom all of nature's mysteries, but nearly every
day brings forth new light.

In ancient times, the enlightened few took ad-
vantage of the ignorance of the multitude, and,
by stupefying their reason v/ith a mixture of sci-
ence and magic, made them more submissive and
obedient as slaves or subjects. Science was used
to inculcate gross superstitions in the minds of
the ignorant masses, for the purpose of enhancing
the interests of the deceivers. By means of con-
cave and convex mirrors, of lenses, of chemical
and optical illusions, and even of ventriloquism,


the pagans fooled their devotees into all sorts of
absurd beliefs. Demons and angels were made
to appear in frightfully distorted and hideous
shapes, the dead were evoked from their graves
to hold converse with the living, and every ad-
vantage was taken of natural phenomena such as
the eclipse and the mirage. Even drugs, like
opium, were given and taken to throw the opera-
tors into semi-conscious ravings and trances; and
in innumerable other vv^ays the excited imagina-
tions and the irresistible propensity to believe in
the miraculous, was taken advantage of by the
wise charlatans, seers, priests and soothsayers.

There are good reasons for believing that the
dramatic exhibitions of the Witch of Endor, by
which Saul was made to believe in the re-appear-
ance of the deceased prophet, Samuel, to an-
nounce his approaching fate at Gilboa, was but
an imposition practiced upon the senses of that
superstitious monarch; and many of the ancient
miracles, which appear to be so corroborated,
can be satisfactorily explained in a similar man-
ner. Ancient magic and natural science were
synonymous, and magic was made to become an
assistant to government. Doubtless the crimes
committed by these unscrupulous charlatans,
masquerading as philosophers, suppressed for


many centuries the smouldering light of reason
in the human race, and caused the world to be
susceptible to the terrific doctrine of witchcraft
that held sway until the seventeenth century, and
which afflicted nearly every nation on the globe.

Christian \Science

IN order thoroughly to understand Christian
Science, it is necessary to understand Mary
Baker Eddy. Hence, I have found it neces-
sary, reluctantly, to give a brief account of some
of the important events of her life. Should these
events show her to be a mercenary, selfish
woman, it would tend to explain a great deal
that she and her followers have failed to explain.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian
Science, was born the year that Napoleon died,
1 82 1. In her younger days, she lived in an at-
mosphere of mysticism. Mesmerism was every-
where in evidence, and much had been said
about "Animal Magnetism," "Power of Mind
over Matter," "the Shakers," "Faith Healing,"
etc., long before Mrs. Eddy had thought or
heard of these things. She married George W.
Glover in 1842, who died the following year,
leaving Mrs. Eddy a widow at twenty-three.
From that time until about 1870, Mrs. Eddy
lived a sad and sordid life of ill health, poverty



and unhappiness. In 1853, she had married Dr.
Daniel Patterson, a dentist, but this proved an
unhappy union and they were much separated,
and finally divorced. During all this time she
had drifted from one place to another, wearing
out her welcome at every place she went, and
usually leaving each place after having caused
family discord in the household. She was prac-
tically an invalid during this period, which may
account for her peevishness, ill-temper, domestic
selfishness, and want of consideration for those
who had befriended her.

In 1862, being then forty-one years old and a
nervous wreck, and attracted by the stories of
wonderful cures by Dr. Phineas Parkhurst
Quimby, Mrs. Eddy visited that famous occul-
trist at Portland, Maine. Dr. Quimby had
learned much of his philosophy, and all of his
mesmeric tricks, from Charles Poyen, whom he
had followed about from place to place. About
three years before Mrs. Eddy called on him,
Quimby had perfected his system of mental
healing and had reduced it to writing, having
discarded the mesmeric part of it. Various dis-
interested persons are still living who have given
reliable testimony to these facts, as also to the
following: (i) When Mrs. Eddy first visited
Quimby she was a physical wreck; (2) After


three weeks' treatment from Quimby she was a
well woman; (3) She borrowed, and had in her
possession for a long time, a copy of Quimby's
manuscripts; (4) She never gave Quimby credit
for one bit of her "Discovery"; and even went
so far as to abuse him for the rest of her life.

Please remember the dates: Mrs. Eddy first
called on Quimby in 1862. In February, 1866,
she slipped on an icy sidewalk and sustained a
severe nervous shock. On the same day she
called on Dr. A. M. Gushing for medical treat-
ment. Dr. Gushing says she continued to take
his medicines until she was cured. Mrs. Eddy
denies that she took any of the medicines after
the first visit, and says that she cured herself in
a miraculous way and rose as one from the dead,
and that she depended solely on God. Yet, she
called on this same Dr. Gushing the following
August to be treated for a cough!

During these days it is known that she spent
much of her time writing, and reading the New
York Ledger, and, if we are to believe what she
wrote to a friend, she also read ^'Irving's Pick-
wick Papers." She apparently did not like

In 1869 (please note the date) she taught Mrs.
Wentworth the Quimby theory for the sum of
$300, to be taken out in board, and at that time


she made no pretense that it was her own theory.
She even permitted Mrs. Wentworth to copy
from a manuscript which has been proven to be
identical with the original Quimby manuscript.
Several witnesses testify that she "talked Quim-
by till every one grew dead tired of hearing
him," and she often remarked: "I learned this
from Dr. Quimby, and he made me promise to
teach it to at least two persons before I die." It
is also known that Mrs. Eddy "shrank instinct-
ively, like any other nervous woman, from the
sick-bed of others, and had shown such a morbid
fear of death that Mrs. Wentworth often won-
dered what there could be in her past to make
death seem so dreadful"

Mrs. Eddy did not practice healing. What
she now wanted was to publish and teach Quim-
byism and to find some one to demonstrate the
healing theory. In 1870 she found just what she
wanted in the person of Richard Kennedy, with
whom she went into partnership, and in six
months they had made $6,000. This was the
sharp turning point of her life. She now dis-
carded Quimby forever, and her ambitions led
her in time to discard even Kennedy, her great-
est benefactor. Everything was now Mrs. Eddy.
She next started a school or college where stu-
dents paid her $100 each plus a promise to pay


her a life annuity of ten per cent of all their
future earnings. She also made them give a
bond for $3,000 which was to be forfeited if they
allowed any one to see or to copy the manuscripts
that she lent them. The college so prospered
that she raised the price to $300 for twelve les-
sons, induced, she says, "by a strange provi-

In 1877, at the age of fifty-six (although her
age appears as forty in the marriage license),
she married Asa Gilbert Eddy, then forty years
old. He was "a man willing to be taught; he
would even turn docility into self-efifacement."
He died five years later. Even Mrs. Eddy could
not save him. Mrs. Eddy never had another
husband, but "in Calvin A. Frye, steward, book-
keeper, secretary, coachman, her 'man of all
work,' " as she herself called him, she has had
the while one singularly devoted to her and to
her interests. To serve her he gave up all at the
outset. Family ties were relinquished. Friend-
ships were allowed to languish. It is said that
never since the day he came, has he been beyond
the reach of her voice for a whole day! A few
years ago Dr. E. J. Foster, whom she adopted
in 1882 as her son, was driven out of his home
by Frye. Her own son she seems to have for-
gotten entirely for long years at a time.


In 1875, Mrs. Eddy issued the first edition of
"Science and Health with Key to the Scrip-
tures." Other editions came out in 1881, 1883,
1888, 1898, 1905, and 1906, and also other books
and writings by the same author, in all of which
she claimed that her great discovery and revela-
tion came to her in 1866 (note the date) . Mean-
while her college was prospering and students
flocked to it from all parts of the world, each
paying $300 for a three weeks' course, and in
1889 there were no less than 300 on the waiting
list. In 1894 she erected a building at a cost of
$221,000, which now stands as a frontispiece to
the colossal temple which was completed in 1906
at a cost of $2,000,000. The Mother Church in
Boston reported June 1 1, 1907, a membership of
43,876, and the total membership of the 645
branch churches was 42,846.

On December 18, 1890, Mrs. Eddy said that
Science and Health was "God's Book and He
gave it at once to the people." Yet the book was
sold by Mrs. Eddy for over $3 a copy, while a
copy of the Bible may be bought for a few cents,
and if anybody cannot buy it, he can get a copy
presented to him free by any preacher or Sunday
School teacher. Mrs. Eddy also says that it
pays to be a Christian Scientist and that the pro-
fessionals have made "their comfortable for-


tunes." When Mrs. Eddy died, her private for-
tune was considerably in excess of a million dol-
lars, yet she persistently tried to evade paying
her share of taxes.

This in brief is the life history of Mrs. Mary
Baker Eddy. Her's was a stormy career, filled
with troubles, quarrels, lawsuits, internal dis-
sentions, fears, revenge, ill health, sorrows, un-
happy marriages, rivalries, disloyalties, and self-
ishness. She had many thousands to admire and
to worship her, but few to love her. Those who
knew her best loved her least. That she was one
of the most remarkable women who ever lived,
few will doubt. Her career is almost as specta-
cular as that of Joan of Arc, who, like Mrs.
Eddy, rose from a poor girl to be a world-
famous leader of men. Neither had anything
like an education, and both had a poor start in
life, but, out of sheer force of personality and
persistency, both accomplished wonders. Their
lives read like fiction. While history is full of
examples where men have risen from nowhere,
and claimed that they were inspired, or Divine,
or Sons of God, or prophets, there is no parallel
to the career of Mrs. Eddy, who has won both
the scholar and the ignoramus. No, not igno-
ramus, for the ignoramus is not the kind to fall
a victim to Mrs. Eddy's doctrine. It requires a


person of brains to "grasp" it. While it is true
that people unschooled in philosophy, science
and theology are quickest to accept Science and
Health, and that those who read earnestly and
think loosely can get just enough glimpse of an
imagined something that they cannot quite
grasp, yet which they feel is there somewhere,
still, it must be said that the average Christian
Scientist is generally a person of unusual intel-
ligence. Were it not so, the doctrine would
never have become so popular. Was it not Lord
Bacon who said something like this? — "While
a little philosophy inclineth men's minds to
atheism, depth in philosophy inclineth men's
minds to religion." And so with Christian
Science. Given a good mind, and a good un-
derstanding, and an investigating disposition,
feed it Science and Health and it will have a
tendency to accept it as truth, provided it is not
allowed to hear the other side, and provided it
has not been previously trained to reason cor-
rectly along scientific lines. There is just enough
truth in it to make it all sound plausible and
there is just enough mysticism to make the mind
doubt its own acumen. Belief in Christian
Science is a form of intellectual hypnotism.

The hypothesis of Mrs. Eddy's doctrine is
stated as follows: "The only realities are the


Divine Mind and its ideas. That erring mortal
views, misnamed mind, produce all the organic
and animal action of the mortal body * * *
Rightly understood, instead of possessing sen-
tient matter, we have sensationless bodies * * *
Whence came to me this conviction in antag-
onism to the testimony of the human senses?
From the self-evident fact that matter has no
sensation; from the common human experience
of the falsity of all material things; from the ob-
vious fact that mortal mind is what sufifers, feels,
sees; since matter cannot suffer."

Here are a few of Mrs. Eddy's favorite, off-
repeated assertions: "God is supreme; is mind;
is principle, not person; includes all and is
reflected by all that is real and eternal; is Spirit,
and Spirit is infinite; is the only substance; is
the only life. Man was and is the idea of God;
therefore mind can never be in man. Divine
Science shows that matter and mortal body are
the illusions of human belief, which seem to ap-
pear and disappear to mortal sense alone. When
this belief changes, as in dreams, the material
body changes with it, going wherever we wish,
and becoming whatsoever belief may decree.
Human mortality proves that error has been en-
grafted into both the dreams and conclusions of
material and mortal humanity. Besiege sickness


and death with these principles, and all will dis-

This theory, that there is no reality except
thought, is merely a distinctive form of idealism
that is as old as the hills, and Mrs. Eddy's doc-
trine is the resultum of a confusion of isolated
thoughts. Read Plato, Hegel, Democritus, the
Zend-Avesta, Spinoza, Kant, Bishop Berkeley,
Lotze, Hume, and various other works and you
will find the threads from which Mrs. Eddy's
fabric is woven. But don't imagine that the
philosophers named ever believed any such
things as Mrs. Eddy has laid down in her books.
Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendenta-
lists speak of the supremacy of mind over mat-
ter, and all modern physicians recognize the
power of the mind over the body; but none of
these ever maintained that the discovery of those
facts was made by Divine revelation by order of
God, to be given to the people at a certain time,
at so much per lesson or book.

Mrs. Eddy says that the one reality is God,
whose name is Mind or Spirit; that God is All-
in-all; that all is infinite Mind and its infinite
manifestations; that matter is unknown in the
Universe of Mind. Now, if we take all this as
mere speculation, all is well. But when we are
asked to make these ideas our Bible, our code of


human conduct, our bread and butter, our Di-
vine law, that is where we should stop. What
matter if all of that is true or false? The world
will go around just the same. If Mrs. Eddy had
stopped right there, she would not have invited
such a storm of criticism as she had to face. But
she did not. The critics began their deadly work
soon after the first edition of her book came out,
and she met it courageously, proceeding to
amend her theories to suit the occasion. Con-
stant and frequent changes were made in Science
and Health and in her teachings, which was all
right except that it disproves her contention that
the whole plan came to her as a revelation in
1866, and that it was "God's book and He gave
it at once to the people." It really makes but
little diflference to most of us whether Mrs. Eddy
is right in her theory that there is no such thing
as matter and that all is spirit, for we are all
compelled to act every day as if matter were
matter, and, to all intents and purposes, it is. Of
course, we are glad to have the truth, but it
would be idiotic for a man, who had discovered
that there is no such thing as sound, to try to
persuade the world that his discovery was so im-
portant that a new system of religion must at
once be founded on it to regulate the daily af-
fairs of the whole world. Some of the truths in


Christian Science are important, but it does not
follow that we are to discard all our other relig-

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Online LibraryEugene V. (Eugene Valentine) BrewsterWhat's what in America → online text (page 1 of 12)