"I HOLD NO ENMITY," SAYS MRS. EDDY
New York American
Concord, N. H., Aug. 25.—"Persecution cannot last forever. There is always a reaction. But I hold no enmity. Those who have attempted to injure me have gained nothing."
Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy uttered this sentiment of Christian forbearance to me to-day in the first interview she has granted since the collapse of the suits brought by her "next friends."
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No one who has talked with Mrs. Eddy can doubt her deep spiritual nature. No one who has met her can fail to be profoundly impressed by her nobility of character.
Mrs. Eddy is old, very old in years and wisdom—yet her heart is still young, for she herself so told me. Indeed she imparted that interesting information with so pretty a smile that youth itself seemed to shine forth from the snow-capped face with the clear blue eyes, and while youth and old age blend in a charming way in the Leader of Christian Science, it is also indisputably true that she is entirely mistress of her mentalities and both physically and mentally a phenomenon. With the exception of a slight deafness she is a woman in full possession of her faculties.
My name as the representative of the American was presented to Mrs. Eddy by her cousin and one of her trustees, General Henry M. Baker, who was present during the audience. Some doubt was expressed by General Baker as to the advisability of Mrs. Eddy being interviewed because of her age and the strain which she had undergone. He said, however, that Mrs. Eddy personally desired to see the interviewer save for the thought that she might be considered as showing discrimination and that it was impossible for her to be often interviewed. The matter was finally settled by Mrs. Eddy herself, who informed one of the ladies of her household that she would see me.
I was ushered up the thickly-carpeted stairway of the celebrated "House of Mystery," which isn't a bit mysterious, but an unusually comfortable New England home, and taken into the apartments of Mrs. Eddy. As I entered the room I saw a white-haired lady of venerable appearance rise smiling from a rocking-chair near a French window, and come forward with outstretched hands, holding herself very straight, and with wonderful light in her eyes she greeted me as follows:—
"I am glad to have you call upon me. Now, won't you sit down here and talk to me." She seated herself beside her literary work table, covered with dozens of letters, a volume of Science and Health, and a book of hymns.
Tears filled her eyes when I told her that there were legions who were not Christian Scientists who rejoiced that the suits against her had collapsed and that her persecution was ended.
In a voice slightly quivering, but of indescribable softness, Mrs. Eddy leaned forward and said:—
"Truth and right will always prevail. Persecution cannot last forever. There is always a reaction. But I hold no enmity. Those who have attempted to injure me have gained nothing.
"But why would they persecute me? All that I ask in the remaining years of my life is peace and quietude. Are not gray hairs sacred? Have I ever injured any one? Am I not to be left alone to pursue that mission in which I am the appointed agent of the divine Being to spread truth and peace and happiness throughout the world?
"I have much work to do and I have consecrated my life to God. That is why I turned my property over to my three trusted trustees. I could not serve both God and mammon. I trust in God, and He will give me strength to accomplish those things which have been marked out for me to do.
"I know that my mission is for all the earth, not alone for my dear devoted followers in Christian Science. I can still do a vast amount of work. All my efforts, all my prayers and tears are for humanity, and the spread of peace and love among mankind.
"There is a tremendous amount of good in the world, and it will not harbor resentments against those who have inflicted ill upon you."
When Mrs. Eddy was told of an old lady of the writer's acquaintance whose reply to a question as to the secret of her youth in old age was that "her heart had never grown old," she smiled and said:—
"Yes, if the heart stays young, old age can never become anything but ennobled thereby. Years do not make one grow old if one grows in grace. Decay does not belong to matter so much as to mind. Now I believe that if we kept our mind fixed on God, Truth, Life, and Love, He will advance us in our years to a higher understanding and change our hope into faith and our faith into spiritual understanding, and our words into works, and our ultimate faith into the fruition of entering into the kingdom."
Reverting again to the actions brought by her "next friends," Mrs. Eddy failed to mention the name of her son, but she did say that she had received hundreds of letters from her followers denouncing the attack.
"Here is a letter that I have received that I wish you would publish in your great newspapers," Mrs. Eddy said, as she handed me the following from a woman in Chicago. "This letter from my dear friend shows how bitterly grieved are all Christian Scientists over the attack made upon me." The letter follows:—
Chicago, Ill., Aug. 20, 1907.
Mrs. Mary B. Eddy, Concord, N. H.
Deeply Revered Leader:—The unmerited persecutions which have been laid upon you during the past few months and your Christly attitude toward them have often called to mind a little incident connected with your presence in Chicago at the association meeting in 1888. A relative of ours, who was not a religious man, had his curiosity aroused by your presentation of the gospel, "with signs following."
He purchased Science and Health and read it with interest, but read it to criticise, and those of his friends who had accepted this new faith dreaded his caustic comments. He early expressed his determination to attend the public lecture which you gave in Central Music Hall, and as he said, to see and hear this "Great I" for himself. He attended and listened very intently. While leaving the hall after your lecture, he turned and said to me in response to a question:
"Do you know, when Mrs. Eddy came on the platform and stood silently before her audience I could not help thinking of that great painting of 'Christ before Pilate.' " Never afterward did he criticise you. He did not unreservedly embrace Christian Science during the few years that he remained on earth, but as far as he knew, always defended it and acknowledged its influence on his life. Again your Christlike bearing of wrongs will win souls. I, too, met you to take your hand, to hear your voice, to look upon your spiritual face.
Humbly and gratefully yours,
Mrs. S. J. Follett.
7437 Stewart Avenue.
In commenting upon newspaper attacks made upon her, Mrs. Eddy paid high tribute and thanks to what she characterized as "the eminent sense of fairness of the Hearst newspapers."
As Mrs. Eddy talked on with a singular sweetness of intonation—as her deep, clear eyes brightened with something at once luminous and spiritual—the impression grew of the absurdity of the attempt to discredit her as mentally incompetent.
"Do you not find this a delightful view?" she asked as she waved her hand in the direction of the wide stretch of greenery that rolled undulating to the foothills. "I love to sit here or on the verandas and watch this quiet stretch of countryside. And you know over there at the other end of the valley I was born.
"But you know," Mrs. Eddy continued with a touch of naivety that lends sprightliness to her conversation, "I cannot always sit and dream. I have much work to do—a great correspondence to answer and I am always busy. I rise very early and write many hours of the day. I enjoy driving for a half hour or one hour a day, and then I rest quietly until I begin my work anew."