Part 2: A Book to Conjure With (vii-x)

This is part of a series of posts about Mrs. Eddy. The biography of a virginal mind by Francis Dakin. For all posts on this topic, see the tag the Biography of a Virginal Mind


As with Part 1, Dakin beings Part 2 with a Plutarch quote.

Often in his speaking he would be transported into a kind of ecstasy, as a man inspired and beside himself… — Plutarch

While Plutarch is referring to Eratosthenes, a Greek mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist (1), Dakin is talking about Ms. Glover — she divorced Dr. Patterson, and reverted back to her previous married name. I’m not sure the comparison is fair to Eratosthenes, but as with Dakin’s previous comparison to Minerva, I’m not sure if he is serious, sarcastic, or simply alluding to ancient Greece to flatter the intellect of early 20th century readers — perhaps it is all three. In some ways, the Plutarch quote is quite fitting: Mrs. Glover was able to “instill into [her students] some sort of burning ardor they never felt either before or after” their contact with her (Dakin, 92).

Mrs. Glover taught about Quimbyism and his methods of spiritual healing, the more she expanded and adapted them for herself. Dakin, quoting Milmine nearly sums up this transformation: “Others of his pupils lost themselves in Quimby’s philosophy, but Mrs. Glover lost Quimby in herself” (Dakin, 92).

In Dakin’s analysis, Mrs. Glover took Quimby’s work and expanded upon it adding details of her own, liberally supplementing the original ideas of suggestion and mental healing to cure disease, with a more complicated and convoluted system of mesmerism, fear and evil to be denied. Here Dakin has what is possibly my favorite summation of Ms. Glover/Eddy’s philosophy:

Her first premise is that God is All. And God is Mind. Therefore Mind is All. The second syllogism* would take this conclusion to a new premise: Mind is All; Matter is not Mind; therefore Matter does not exist. A third syllogism would cast out the reality of dieaase and sin in the same fashion. God, Good is the only reality. Sin and sickness are not good. Hence, they are not real. (Dakin, 102)

She continues with these interesting logical arguments, expounding on them. Dakin asserts she has liberally borrowed from older philosophers, including Spinoza, Liebnitz and Berkeley (3).** Swendenborg, is credited as a prime source of inspiration in the theological department.

I quite enjoy how Dakin handles the juxtaposition of Mrs. Glover’s logic with that of the Bible, as she liberally finds and creates symbolism to suit her needs.**

Her original interpretations of Biblical terminology eventually occupied a most important position in her religious thought; and she devised a “Key to the Scriptures” which embodied her own definitions of various Scriptural words, phases and even incidents to which long generations the Christian world had accorded their usual literal meaning. (Dakin, 111)

Mrs. Glover’s re-writing of both philosophy and theology set Malicious Animal Magnetism (MAM) into the world. Dakin dismisses MAM as “the evil eye” but to Mrs. Glover-soon-to-be-Eddy it was so much more. In Mrs. Glover/Eddy’s mind, Malicious Animal Magnetism** was the cause of her continuing health crises, she had enemies working against her, sending ill health and legal obstacles her way.

Dakin goes on to carefully document Mrs. Eddy’s practice slowly deteriorate in Lynn, Ma. This decline is depressing at best, and if it were not only 1/3 of the way through the book it might offer a glimmer of hope (to the uninitiated) that Mrs. Eddy’s madness would end there.


* syllogism A syllogism is a kind of logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two or more propositions that are asserted or assumed to be true. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllogism)

** Clearly these merit posts of their own

  1. for more: Plutarch’s Lives of Illustrious Men, Volume 3 By Plutarch, see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Baker_Eddy#cite_note-52
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinoza, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottfried_Wilhelm_Leibniz, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Berkeley, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Swedenborg
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3 thoughts on “Part 2: A Book to Conjure With (vii-x)

  1. realscience says:

    The Christian Science church has always understated (indeed, it has willfully ignored) the influence Quimby had on Eddy. But in fact, Quimby’s teachings formed the foundation of Christian Science.

    • kat @ kindism says:

      The people in charge of Quimby’s legacy want nothing to do with Christian Science any more than Eddy’s followers/Christian Scientists want to admit involvement with Quimby. This amuses me no end.

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