Stephen Paget.

The faith and works of Christian science online

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see her. I told her that I would not attend her unless she promised
to do exactly as I told her. Her daughter told me that the Chris-
tian Scientists wished me to see her (she was very ill), but that
she was sure she would not do anything not ordered by them.
I sent a message to them that I was not going to save them from
a coroner's inquest, and that I would not see her unless they


insisted on her doing exactly as I told her. This they did. I
diagnosed an ovarian tumour, with repeated rupture = 'cure*
after Christian Science treatment, see above. This v/as operated
on, but could not be completely removed, after its long duration,
treatment, etc., and the patient slowly sank and died."

57. "Coincidently with Mr. Fredericks death from pneumonia
in England, the newspapers also report the deaths of Messrs.
Kershaw in Tacoma, and McDowell in Cincinnati, and Mrs.
Brown of Washington; the first of pneumonia, the second of
typhoid fever, the last of an unnamed malady — all the diseases
being complicated with Christian Science." — (Mr. Purrington,
loc. ctt.)

58. (From the New York Herald, Paris edition, June 21,
1906.) "For the first time in the history of Christian Science, a
patient who had been in the care of a healer has received a ver-
dict for damages on the ground of improper treatment. The

healer was Mr. , and the patient Mr. . A verdict of

6000 dollars was awarded for the loss of a leg amputated because
the disease had spread from a sore toe over which the healer had
prayed in vain."

59. (From an American doctor.) "Here are some tales which
may be of service : —

"Case I. — My friend C , a man of 42, and a believer in

Christian Science, suffered from a hard cough and fever some
years ago. He had an excellent tenor voice. In spite of his
indisposition, his wife urged him to go to a Christian Science
service to sing on a stormy winter night. His Christian Science
friends informed him that there was nothing wrong, and that the
service would improve his condition. After returning home, he
was so acutely ill that his wife, in alarm, sent for a neighbouring
physician, who found his left lung consohdated. The next day
he died of pneumonia.

" Case 2. — Mrs. , a patient of my friend Dr. , had

been for some years a sufferer from mitral insufficiency, under the


care of Dr. . As she did not recover her heahh completely,

she became a Christian Scientist, and, going deeply into the
mysteries of that cult, was acknowledged by her people as a
particularly expert 'healer/ Two years ago last January, she
rose at the Christian Science * experience meeting* in Boston,
and told how she had been a sufferer from heart disease, of which
Christian Science had cured her, and how she was absolutely
well at that time. Two days later she died suddenly of heart

" Case 3. — My friend T , a well-known teacher, himself

a sceptic, was the victim of a wife who was a strenuous Christian
Scientist. Some eight years ago he fell acutely ill, the ailment
being regarded by his friends as pneumonia. In spite of his
illness his wife continued to assure him that there was no such
thing as illness. One evening, with the assistance of a friend,
she got him out of bed into his chair for supper. His heart *went
to pieces,* and he died before he could be put back into bed. He
was about 40 years old, and had always been in vigorous health.**

60. "I was assured that a Dupuytren*s contraction could be
absolutely cured by Christian Science. I argued that, while
Christian Science could undoubtedly help certain cases of func-
tional trouble by stimulating nutritional processes, and so in-
creasing resistance, I could not admit its power over organic
conditions. I was assured it was an accepted and proved fact
that it could and did. I expressed my profound disbelief in
such possibility, and was denounced as a scoffer. There were
reasons why I greatly desired to convince the lady, who advised
me, that Christian Science had no such power: so I challenged
her to arrange for a course of treatment, she assuring me that
this could be undertaken without my personal association with
the healer. The time fixed by my adviser was ten weeks, at a
cost of ten guineas; the understanding being clear that I did not
believe in it, and would neither directly nor indirectly help or
influence results. At the end of the ten weeks the finger was,


of course, more contracted, the process of cicatrisation having
pursued its normal course. I then showed it to my adviser, who
said, *Of course. I knew what the result would be. Tou have
no faith.' My adviser was a lady of exact methods of thought,
logical, free from prejudice, and incapable of such evasion, until
she became dominated by the immoral antics of the so-called
Christian Science."

61. "The only case that occurs to me is that of some well-to-do
people. Their child, a pretty little girl of three or four years, de-
veloped cataract in both eyes. The parents took her to the best
oculists in London; and, rejecting their advice, have placed the
child under Christian Science treatment. The child is now about
eight, and quite blind, and rational treatment is still refused." -^

62. (From an American doctor.) " Boston is a hot-bed of 1
Christian Science, and we see a great many patients who are treated '
by those who practise it. I have seen a patient dying of strangu-
lated hernia, who had been treated from first to last by Christian
Science. The patient was, as I say, moribund, and died shortly
after my visit. I have seen many cases of malignant disease treated
by Christian Science until the period of operability had passed.

I have seen one or two patients dying of haemorrhage who had been
treated by Christian Science. I should say I had seen about a
hundred cases^ in which the only chance for cure had been lost
through the Christian Science treatment." ^^

63. "A lady with inoperable cancer suffered a great deal of
pain. She was relieved by morphia and by external applications.
A most conscientious and high-principled nurse attended to her,
under the direction of an able surgeon. The nurse made consider-
able sacrifices, in respect to her own health as well as remuneration,
because the patient suffered greatly and set great store upon the
skilful attendance of the nurse, and always spoke with gratitude
of the amelioration of her sufferings brought about by the nurse's
help. The other members of the patient's family were Christian
Scientists. They attributed the failure of their methods to the



maleficent proximity of this excellent nurse. They told the patient
that her extreme suffering was due (i) to her own unwillingness
to yield herself to their methods, (2) to the hindrance set up by
trusting to the nurse's appHcations and the morphia. At length
the poor lady died : the only comfort she had had being due to the
devotion and skill of the nurse. She begged again and again during
her painful illness that the nurse would not leave her side, as she
was, during such absences, subjected to the accusations of her
relations, that her sufferings were entirely due to her own fault.'*

64. "I am delighted to hear that you are attacking Christian
Science. Nothing you can possibly say can be too strong; for
there can be no doubt that its teachings are wicked, pernicious,
and a source of great danger. During my illness I have received
dozens of letters, praying me to give the 'Science' a chance, and I
have been inundated with the publications of the sect, most of which
I have read. They bristle with lies, misstated facts, and worked-up
cases. In no single instance have I come across a case in which
physical disability has been cured. Their results are brought about
by suggestion — a therapeutic agent which, I am sorry to say, is
greatly neglected by our profession, to our detriment.

"I know of a case in which the death of a child was directly
caused by the father's neglect to call in a medical man. The
child was suffering from tubercular glands in the neck which needed
operative treatment. No medical man was called in until the child
was unconscious as the result of toxic infection, and it was too late
for anything to be done.

"I know a case of locomotor ataxy in which the patient has
been informed that he is cured. As the result of his improved
mental condition, he is now doing things which no medical man
would advise, and I daily expect to hear of his collapse. His
disease is progressing rapidly.

"I treated a patient for some time with the x-rays for malignant
disease of the glands in the neck. Just as she was gaining benefit,
she joined the Christian Scientists. She now writes that she is


cured, and that the growth has nearly disappeared. The result
is due to the absorption of the growth by the rays. She was in-
formed by the Christian Scientist that if she had not had the x-ray
treatment she would have been cured much more easily. She is
not cured."

65. **A child broke her clavicle, and the father was prosecuted
by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

The case was tried in the Police Court, and sent forward to the

Sessions. The father was convicted for cruelty at the Sessions.
The result of the treatment which he had adopted was a perma-
nent deformity with marked shortening. All I had to do with the
case was, after the trial I was consulted as to an attempt to rectify
the mal-union."

66. " I know of one case in which a child in the house of Chris-
tian Scientists had measles, and they asserted that it was not any
illness, and prayer would cure her. The result was, the child was
allowed to go out to parties, etc., with the result of causing a con-
siderable epidemic. Another case, of cancer of the stomach, in
which they refused the unfortunate person any treatment, allowing
him to die in considerable agony."

67. " The only flagrant case I know of will not be of much use
to you, as I do not know particulars. I was sent for to see a baby,
of a year old perhaps. It had been attended by a Christian Scien-
tist, but I did not find out definitely what had been the ailment,
nor the treatment. The child was dead when I arrived."

68. (From an American doctor.) "A few years ago, I was
called to a little boy affected with an osteo-myelitis of the femur.
The little fellow, emaciated, limp, and tortured by many days of
atrocious suffering, was a pitiable object; thoroughly septic, having
chills, the temperature at my call being about 105°. His mother,
a Christian Scientist, dismissed me next day by *phone, declaring
she had no belief in doctors. It afterwards appeared that the poor
child was inhumanly forced to walk, in spite of the necessarily
excruciating pain, until a fracture occurred through the necrosed


bone. The case was later operated upon; recovery ensuing with,
of course, great shortening of the Hmb."


/ These short notes, put here as I got them, give
/ but a faint sense of the ill working of Christian
f Science. It would be easy to collect hundreds more.
I Of course, to see the full iniquity of these cases, the
I reader should be a doctor, or should go over them
I with a doctor. But everybody, doctor or not, can
\ feel the cruelty, born of the fear of pain, in some of
these Scientists — the downright madness threatening
not a few of them, and the appalling self-will. They
bully dying women, and let babies die in pain; let
cases of paralysis tumble about and hurt themselves;
rob the epileptic of their bromide, the syphilitic of
their iodide, the angina cases of their amyl nitrite,
( the heart cases of their digitalis; let appendicitis go
on to septic peritonitis, gastric ulcer to perforation
of the stomach, nephritis to uraemic convulsions,
and strangulated hernia to the miserere mei of gan-
grene; watch, day after day, while a man or a woman
slowly bleeds to death; compel them who should
be kept still to take exercise; and withhold from all
cases of cancer all hope of cure. To these works
of the devil they bring their one gift, wilful and
complete ignorance; and their "nursing" would be
a farce, if it were not a tragedy. Such is the way
of Christian Science, face to face, as she loves to
be, with bad cases of organic disease.


Something ought to be said here, and I hope that
it may be said without offence, of the present revival
of "spiritual healing" in this country. There is
now more than one association, in London, for the
work of getting people to recognise the spiritual side
of bodily health, and to make use of prayer in time
of sickness. None of us doctors is likely to find
fault with that sort of work. The further proposal,
to restore, in the English Church, the laying-on of
hands, and the anointing with oil, does not concern
our profession. It is for the patient, and the family,
to have what ordinance or ritual they wish to have.
Our only business is to do our best for the patients.

All the same, we cannot help watching with great
interest, and with a good deal of anxiety, this con-
fused movement. I venture to call it confused, for
I cannot see that they, who desire to revive "spiritual
healing," are agreed among themselves. Is there
any disease which they would refuse, point blank, to
treat ? Are they minded to take only those cases
that the doctors assign to them ^ What rules will
they have for the testing, diagnosing, and watching
of cases .? Will they analyse and tabulate their
results, and publish every case ^ If one of their
patients dies, who will sign the death-certificate ?
What precautions will they take to prevent quacks
from imitating their methods ^

But these professional difficulties are not the real
difficulty. Though they were all settled, yet there


are cases which nobody, not even the healers, would
care to submit to spiritual treatment. And, once a
doctor sets himself to try to think it out what cases
should be submitted to such treatment, he is apt to
find none but "functional" maladies. I assume,
that he is of one mind with the healers; that he
would send cases to them, not with a laugh, but with
absolute faith in the possibility of miraculous inter-
vention. Still, I think that he would send only such
cases as Charcot, in his grave way, sent to Lourdes.

Take, to begin with, congenital malformations.
No sane doctor would submit a cleft palate or a
hare-lip to spiritual treatment. It would be as
reasonable to pray that the sex of a child should be
changed. But congenital malformation occurs not
only in the face and limbs; it may be the heart, or
the stomach, born deformed. The evident ill-health,
due to such deformity, might seem to give oppor-
tunity for spiritual healing; whereas a congenital
gap in the septum of the heart is no less immutable
than a similar gap in the palate or the lip. Or it
may be the brain that is born deformed, as in the
unhappy cases of "spastic paralysis," the poor twisted
imbecile creatures whom one sees now and again in
the streets; here is a gross congenital defect of the
brain: and "This alone is impossible for the Gods,
to undo what has been done."

But our brains are subject also to subtle modes
of congenital defect, at which the pathologists can


only guess. That is what we mean, when we say
Poor So-and-so, you cant wonder, with such a family
history. We mean, that there is something wrong,
by inheritance, with some of the cells of his brain.
If we knew just which they were, out of his thousand
million brain-cells, and could put them under the
microscope, we might be able to see that they were
shapen in wickedness. Even though they looked
perfectly normal, we should say that the microscope
was not strong enough; we should be magnifying
them, in the mind's eye, till each cell was a yard
across, and thereby showed itself made to dishonour.
In brief, is there any such malady as a "functional"
disease of the brain ? Is not all function the act of
structure .^ If I do but swear, my language is
registered on my brain-cells, as my payments are
registered on the ingenious machines in the shops.
But I am getting out of my depth. For I am sure
that I can stop myself from swearing; neither, if I
fail, may I accuse my inheritance.

From the brain we come to the spinal cord. Take
infantile paralysis, and locomotor ataxy. In either
case, there is degeneration of certain cells in the cord.
The disease may stop short, in this or that patient,
of the hopeless stage; but take a case where many
cells have disappeared, and many more are just points
of ruin under the microscope. The loss of these
cells is the disease. A microscopic section of such
a cord looks like an ill-set proof, where many letters


have dropped out. For the healing of this cord,
hosts of new cells must be made, and set in place;
each of them a miracle, a new creation, a living
unit fashioned out of nothing. Improvement of the
patient's health cannot do that; the disease is not
want of health, but want of cells; each new cell
would be no less miraculous than a new arm after
amputation at the shoulder.

Take a different sort of cases, the many kinds of
tumours. For the removal of these lumps, there
must be miraculous annihilation of matter. Some
are of embryonic tissue, laid down before birth;
some are huge cysts containing fluid, or strange
foetal elements; some are masses of bone or cartilage
or hard fibrous tissue or fat; some are masses of
small cells rapidly multiplying; and all are practically
outside the pale of the nervous system. I do inter-
vene, I know not how, in the affairs of my brain;
but I am sure that I could not prevent a mass of
cells in my liver from having their own way. The
fact that mouse-cancer can be inoculated from mouse
to mouse seems to me final. Nothing but a miracle
will act on such cells, until the pathologists find a
direct antidote.

Take the vast kingdom of the infective diseases,
the fevers due to specific germs : for example, a case
of lockjaw, or a case of diphtheria. The germs are
the disease. The approved treatment includes the
use of a specific antitoxin, to supplement the anti-


toxin which the patient's blood is brewing, as fast as
it can, against the toxin which the germs are brew-
ing. Here is animal chemistry, the same in rabbits
and guinea-pigs as in us. I do believe that hope
and faith and love will help a man, somehow, to
hang on, till enough antitoxin has been brewed in
him, or put into him with a hypodermic syringe.
But I do not believe that they accelerate the brewing,
or make any difference to the germs.

Or take this case, of v^hich I have just heard. A
young man, with severe anaemia, came, hardly able
to walk, and white as death; to a spiritual healer;
was laid on a couch, and prayer was made over him,
with laying-on of hands. The colour came back to
his lips, and he rose and walked firmly. But the
question is. Did he weigh more ^ Was there a drop
more blood in his body ^ Was there a grain more
colouring-matter in his blood ^ What had happened,
but that some blood had gone to his head, from the
deep veins of his trunk, under the influence of rest
and confidence .?

See how the doctor, though he were of one faith
with the spiritual healer, is hampered by a natural
reluctance to adopt so many acts of miraculous heal-
ing. I assume that he believes in the present possi-
bility of miracles; but he is not inclined to expect
them everywhere. Besides, he is of opinion that
they ought to begin at home. He distrusts these
new experts, who suddenly appear in London, come


nobody knows whence, neither doctors nor clerics.
He is glad that the cleric and he should work together
in the atmosphere of the patient's home; but he
does not admire the atmosphere of spiritual consult-
ing-rooms and spiritual private hospitals. He is
rubbed the wrong way, for instance, by such cases
as this, which is reported in the British Medical
Journal, December 26, 1908 : —

A coroner's inquiry was held in Kensington on December 8
into the circumstances attending the death of a gentleman of
independent means, aged 44, who had been found hanged. . . .
The deceased, some three years ago, had been temporarily under
restraint as suffering from melancholia. ... He was found dead
on the afternoon of Sunday, December 6, having in the previous
week gone to London with a kind of attendant companion, a
retired army officer, to consult a ** mental expert." He had seen
this gentleman on the Thursday preceding his death, and had
received treatment from him on the day that he died. This

mental expert gave his name as . He was not qualified in

England, and did not practise. By profession he was a lecturer
on mental and spiritual healing. He lectured to his patients in
mental cases, and in spiritual cases emphasised the idea of God
being all-powerful. Some cases he treated mentally, and others
spiritually. His teachings did not ignore ordinary science, but
rather worked-in with it. He did not exclude medical treat-
ment, and would send a patient to a doctor if he thought neces-
sary. He had had some cases of insanity. He should describe
his treatment as healing by suggestion. It was not mesmerism,
or faith-healing, or Christian Science. A part of his treatment
consisted of prayers, but it was not prayer of the common form.
He could not describe it. In spiritual cases, he did not talk to
the patient, but sat by his side and did the healing silently. He
took fees, not for sitting still and doing nothing, but for his time.


I do not see the use of this gentleman. I cannot
reconcile the two statements (i) In spiritual cases he
emphasised the idea of God being all-powerful;
(2) In spiritual cases he did not talk to the patient.
It is true, that he was content with indescribable
prayer, not of the common form; that he did not em-
ploy the laying-on of hands, or the anointing; but
he could learn these acts in five minutes, without wait-
ing for the approval of the English Church. What
should stop him ? Once a man thinks that he can
heal by prayer, and laying-on of hands, and anointing,
nothing will stop him. Not only will women, more
than men, practise the new faith-healing, but all.
Christian or not, who discover a gift that way.
"The impulse becomes almost irresistible," Mr.
Hickson says, who is the chief of these healers. I
am well aware that he has a beneficial influence;
but his account of his work and of his cases is too
like Science and Health for me. "The patient," he
says, "must come in an attitude of passivity and
receptivity. ... It is not his part to contribute
ideas and suggestions. To doubt the healer is to
set up a condition of inharmony and friction, thus
wasting precious time to both healer and himself.
Even Christ could not heal some, because of their
unbelief." The hands are Mr. Hickson's hands,
but the voice is the voice of Christian Science. The
very words, inharmony, friction, and waste of precious
time, and the reference to unbelief, remind me of


her. Or take his magazine, The Healer. It reprints,
October 1908, quite gravely, the miracles of a Dr.
Yakum, of Pisgah House, somewhere on the Pacific
coast. Among them, a man, "in the last stages,
apparently, of consumption in the lower part of the
body," was instantaneously healed. What is con-
sumption in the lower part of the body? Dr.
Yakum himself was healed by laying-on of hands
and anointing, "after one lung had sloughed away,
and the other was half gone"; and he has been, ever
since, "in perfect health, with two good sound lungs."
Mrs. Eddy herself, who " restored the lost substance
of lungs," and healed consumption "in its last stages,
the lungs being mostly consumed " (see Chap. IV.),
might have written this part of The Healer, It is
no wonder, that Mr. Hickson believes also in
demoniac possession, and in exorcism. "Experience
leads me to believe firmly in obsession, and in the
power of Christ to cast out evil spirits and set free
those whom Satan has bound." Of a little child,
who had a furious temper, he says, "In answer to
prayer and the command to the evil spirit to depart
in the name of the Lord, it was cast out."

We all know, of course, that the "Emmanuel
movement," in the United States, has had many
good cases of healing. Nobody who has read

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Online LibraryStephen PagetThe faith and works of Christian science → online text (page 13 of 16)