The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy/Chapter 01

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THE LIFE OF MARY BAKER G. EDDY AND THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN SCIENCE

CHAPTER I

MRS. EDDY'S AMERICAN ANCESTORS—MARK BAKER, AND LIFE ON THE BOW FARM—SCHOOLDAYS IN TILTON—EARLY INFLUENCES—HER FIRST MARRIAGE

MARY A. MORSE BAKER,[1] the future leader of the Christian Science Church, was the sixth and youngest child of Mark and Abigail Baker. She was born July 16, 1821, at the Baker homestead in the township of Bow, near the present city of Concord in New Hampshire. As a family the Bakers were of the rugged farmer type of the period to which they belonged. From the days of John Baker, their earliest American ancestor, who came from East Anglia and obtained a freehold in Charlestown, Mass., in 1634, throughout five generations[2] to Mark Baker, they had worked the unwilling soil of their New England farms, and brought up large families to labour after them. One of their number had engaged in the pre-Revolutionary wars, and in 1758 received a captain's commission from Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire. This was Joseph Baker, the grandfather of Mark who married Hannah, the daughter of Captain John Lovewell, hero of "Lovell's Fight," and through her came into possession of the homestead in Bow. According to family tradition this farm, which was given to Hannah Lovewell by her father, was originally a part of "Lovell's Grant," a tract deeded to Captain Lovewell by the government for "gallant military service."

As far back as the memory of any of the present generation of Bakers goes, however, the farm was first occupied by Joseph Baker 2d, and his wife, whose name is recorded by the Baker family both as Mary Ann O'Moor and Marion Moore.[3] Of their large family of children, Mark, born May 2, 1785, was the youngest,[4] and at the death of his father in 1816, he, with an elder brother, James, inherited the farm. Mark's share of the estate, included the farmhouse and barns, with the obligation to support his mother. The farm was hill land, rising from the valley of the Merrimac River, and not especially fertile, but as his fathers before him had done, he managed, by toiling early and late, to wring from it a living for himself and his large family. In May, 1807, he had married the daughter of Nathaniel and Phebe Ambrose, neighbours across the Merrimac, in Pembroke, and brought her home to his father's house. Like the Bakers, the Ambrose family were severe Congregationalists, and farmers of the familiar New England type. Deacon Ambrose and his wife were staunch supporters of their church, and they had brought up their daughter, Abigail, to be both pious and thrifty. As the wife of Mark Baker she is remembered for her patience and industry. She devoted all her energies to the care of her family, and was faithful in attendance at church. And this simple record, like that of many another heroic New England housewife, is all that is known of Mrs. Eddy's mother.

The dominating influence in the Baker home was Mark, and he made his presence felt in the community as well. His character was naturally strong, and as narrow as his experience and opportunity had been. Born ten years after the American Revolution, he grew up in the atmosphere of sharply-defined opinions and declared principles, peculiar to the times. The country was still comparatively undeveloped and scantily populated, and without the broadening influences made possible by later inventions. His house, in the middle of an isolated farm, was remote from its neighbours; the nearest town was Concord, then a place of two or three thousand inhabitants, and where, except on market days and church days, he almost never went. The hard daily labour of the farm, and the equally hard work which he made of his politics and religion, comprised all his interests. To conquer the resisting land, to drive a good bargain, to order his conduct within the letter of his church law, to hate his enemies and to hold in contempt all who disagreed with him—these were the rules by which he shaped his life. High-tempered, dominating, and narrow, he was not content merely to adhere to his own principles, letting other men live as they would, but sought to impress his convictions upon his neighbours. There are instances of life-long quarrels between Mark Baker and those who differed from him in business, politics, and religion. A quarrel over a question of business with his brother James resulted in a complete separation of the two families (although they lived as neighbours for years) from 1816 almost to the present time.[5] A charge which he brought against a church brother was arbitrated for several years before church committees; and his local political quarrels during abolition days were frequent and bitter. He lived on the Bow farm from 1785 to 1836, and in Sanbornton Bridge (now Tilton) from 1836 until his death in 1865, and to those who knew him in these two communities he is still a vivid memory. In appearance he was tall and lean, his muscles hardened by labour. His iron jaw and tense gray eye bespoke determination and resistance. The very tap of his stick, as he tramped along the country roads, conveyed a challenge. His voice was terrific in power and volume. The Baker voice is a tradition in New Hampshire, and stories are told in Bow of the Baker brothers at work in distant fields upon their farms, thundering like gods to each other across the hills.

Mark's neighbours called him "Squire" Baker, and the younger folk called him "Uncle." They found him sharp at a bargain, but honest in his dealings, and while he paid his workers the smallest wages, he always sacredly kept his word, and in his narrow way he was a good citizen. He tried his friends by his fierce temper and his intense prejudices, which kept him, in one way and another, in a continual ferment. "A tiger for temper, and always in a row." "You could no more move him than you can move old Kearsarge" (a local mountain). "An ugly disposition, but faithful to his church, and immovable in his politics." These are the comments of his old neighbours in Tilton to-day.

Inevitably, he carried his religion and politics to extremes. In the Congregational church he was an active figure, faithful and punctilious in performing all its requirements. Not only did he fulfil his own church obligations, but he saw that his brethren and sisters fulfilled theirs. He brought charges of backsliding against fellow-members when they failed to attend public worship or communion, and was willingly appointed to visit and "labour" with the delinquents. It seems probable that Mark enjoyed this duty and performed it thoroughly. He had his own church troubles, too. The yellowed books of the Tilton Congregational Church record many a disputation between him and the brethren. A quarrel between Mark Baker and William Hayes was aired before the congregation year after year, but the two were never reconciled. The church did not follow Mark's wishes in the settlement of the differences, and after bringing up the old charges again and again, and receiving no satisfaction, he applied for a letter of dismissal, because he "could not walk in covenant with this church." When his request was refused, he placed himself on record as "feeling aggrieved at the doings of the church on this subject."

A story which has passed into neighbourhood tradition illuminates the man and shows the strength and quality of his religious feeling. One Sunday in his later years he mistook the day and worked as usual about his place. On Monday morning he started for church, but was disturbed at seeing his neighbours at work. As usual he took them to task. "Sister Lang," he said, frowning at a neighbour who was placing out her tubs for washing, "what is the meaning of this on the Lord's Day?" The woman replied that as the day was Monday she was preparing to do the family washing, but Mark commanded her to prepare for church instead, and went on his way. Farther along he stopped again. "Brother Davis," he cried, "what is this commotion in the streets? Why are not the church bells ringing for public worship?" He was again assured that it was Monday; but he was not convinced until he arrived at the church and found the doors closed. He hurried to Elder Curtice, who confirmed his fears. "Is it possible that I have broken the Lord's Day?" exclaimed Uncle Baker in alarm, and he knelt with his pastor and prayed for forgiveness. Back to his home went the old man, the godly part of him purged. But the old Adam remained, and as he strode up the hill he trembled with excitement. A tame crow, a pet of the children of the neighbourhood, hopped on a bush in front of him, cawing loudly. In his perturbed condition, the sight of the bird made Mark angrier than ever, and raising his stick, he struck the crow dead. "Take that," he said in a passion, "for hoppin' about on the Sabbath," and he stormed on up the hill. At home he kept the day strictly as Sunday to atone for his worldliness of the previous day.

In politics he was no less intense. He was a pro-slavery advocate before the war, and an unbending Copperhead during it. He hated Abraham Lincoln above all men. Two luckless young women, selling pictures of Lincoln, once entered his house to induce him to buy, but saved themselves from ejection only by a hasty flight. "I'll never forget what he said about Lincoln," said one of his old neighbours now living. "When the news of Lincoln's assassination reached Sanbornton Bridge, I stopped at Mark Baker's to tell him of it. 'What!' he cried, and throwing down his hoe, he shouted at the top of his voice, 'I'm glad on't!' "

When his politics and religion clashed as they did during the Civil War, the old man was sorely torn. His pastor, Elder Corban Curtice, was a Republican who believed in the righteousness of the war, and Mark, with others of a different political faith, attempted to have the minister removed for "political preaching." Failing in this, some of the oldest members left the church. But Mark Baker remained. He went to church as regularly as ever, and abided by all its rulings as before, but his protest was expressed in a manner altogether characteristic. He sat doggedly through the sermon, his eyes fixed on the elder. The moment the word "rebellion" left the preacher's lips—whether he referred to the rebellion of the States or the rebellion of the angels—Mark Baker sprang to his feet, and, with flashing eyes and clenched fists, strode indignantly out of the church.

These incidents show the calibre of the man who was Mrs. Eddy's father. There is no doubt that he possessed qualities out of the ordinary. With his natural force and strong convictions, and with his rectitude of character, he might have been more than a local figure, but for the insurmountable obstacles of a childishly passionate temper and a deep perversity of mind. He was without imagination and without sympathy. From fighting for a principle he invariably passed to fighting for his own way, and he was unable to see that the one cause was not as righteous as the other. His portrait—a daguerreotype—shows hardness and endurance and immovability. There is no humility in the heavy lip and square-set mouth, no aspiration in the shrewd eyes; the high forehead is merely forbidding.[6]



The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy - Mark Baker.jpg
From a tintype. Courtesy of Mrs. H. S. Philbrook 

MARK BAKER

Mrs. Eddy's father


All Mark Baker's children were born in the little farmhouse in Bow, between 1808 and 1821. There were three sons—Samuel, Albert, and George Sullivan—and three daughters—Abigail, Martha, and Mary.[7] The family also included Mark Baker's mother. According to pioneer custom the early Bakers had built their house on top of the hill upon which their farm lay, fully half a mile from the public road, which at that point follows the course of the Merrimac River in the valley. However inconvenient and impractical this choice of a site may have been, it left nothing to be desired in the view. Across the green valley of woods and fields, through which flows the white-banked river, one can see from the Baker hill-top the long blue ranges of the White Mountains. Nearer at hand there are glimpses of clean white villages, and at the left is the city of Concord. The nearest house is out of sight at the foot of the hill. In Mark Baker's day it was occupied by his brother James, with whom Mark was not in friendly relation.

The house itself is of wood, unpainted, and extremely small and plain. A narrow door in the centre opens directly upon the stairway. On the left hand is a little parlour, lighted by two small-paned windows, and containing a corner fireplace. A larger room at the right, used as a granary by the present owner, was once the kitchen and living-room. Overhead there were three or four small sleeping-rooms. One wonders where the family of nine bestowed themselves when they were all in the house at once. The house has not been occupied for many years. The windows are boarded up, and it is desolate and forsaken. Yet it is not forgotten, for every summer Christian Scientists come to visit the spot where their leader was born. It is a shrine to the devout, who carry away stones and handfuls of soil and little shrubs, as souvenirs.

The Baker children were brought up like other farmers' families of that time and place. The older ones worked about the farm and in the house, and in the winter when farm work was "slack" they attended the district school. Lonely and unstimulating enough the life seems from this distance, but as a matter of fact it was useful and not uninteresting. It was before the days of steam railroads and the thousand modern aids to living, when every farmer's family was an industrial community in itself. All the supplies of the household, as well as food and clothes, were produced at home. Each man and woman and girl and boy of the farms was a craftsman, their daily work requiring physical strength and mental ingenuity and a kind of moral heroism. The school supplied their intellectual interests, the church satisfied their religious emotions, and for social diversion there were corn-huskings and barn-raisings and quilting-bees. The rest was hard labour.

The qualities of Mark Baker were transmitted to his children. They were all high-tempered and headstrong and self-assertive, and they did not lack confidence in themselves in any particular. At home, however, they were trained to obedience and up to the time at least of the birth of his youngest daughter, Mark Baker was master in his own house. But from the beginning it was evident that special concessions must be made to Mary. She was named for her grandmother, who made a pet of her from the first, and no doubt helped to spoil her as a baby. Mrs. Baker, the mother, often told her friends that Mary, of all her children, was the most difficult to care for, and they were all at their wits' ends to know how to keep her quiet and amused. As Mary grew older she was sent to district school with her sisters, but only for a few days at a time, for she was subject from infancy to convulsive attacks of a hysterical nature. Because of this affliction she was at last allowed to omit school altogether and to throw off all restraint at home. The family rules were relaxed where she was concerned, and the chief problem in the Baker house was how to pacify Mary and avoid her nervous "fits." Even Mark Baker, heretofore invincible, was obliged to give way before the dominance of his infant daughter. His time-honoured observance of the Sabbath, which was a fixed institution at the Baker farm, was abandoned because Mary could not, after a long morning in church, sit still all day in the house with folded hands, listening to the reading of the Bible. Sundays became a day of torture not only to the hysterical child, but to all the family, for she invariably had one of her bad attacks, and the day ended in excitement and anxiety. These evidences of an abnormal condition of the nerves are important to any study of Mrs. Eddy and her career. As child and woman she suffered from this condition, and its existence explains some phases of her nature and certain of her acts, which otherwise might be difficult to understand and impossible to estimate.

Until Mary's fifteenth year the routine of life at the farm was unbroken except for the departure from home of her two eldest brothers to start life for themselves, and the death of her grandmother Baker. In choosing their occupations, Mark Baker's sons turned away from the farm, new opportunities having been opened by the expanding industrial and commercial life of the country. Samuel, the eldest, went to Boston, in company with a neighbour's son, George Washington Glover, to learn the trade of a stone mason, as the quarries of New Hampshire had then been recently opened. Albert, the second son, had a higher ambition. He prepared himself for college and entered Dartmouth. He was graduated in 1834, and immediately went to Hillsborough Center, N. H., to study law in the office of Franklin Pierce, afterward President of the United States. Under the influence of Pierce young Baker entered politics. He served one term as Assemblyman in the State Legislature, and received the nomination for Representative in Congress; but he died in 1841 before the election. He was then only thirty-one years old, and his character and ability seemed to justify the high opinion of his friends, who regarded him as a coming man.

The death of the elder Mrs. Baker occurred in January, 1835, and early the following year Mark Baker sold the homestead and moved his family to a farm near the village of Sanbornton Bridge (now called Tilton), eighteen miles north of Concord. Sanbornton Bridge was, in 1836, growing into a lively manufacturing village. It already contained public-spirited citizens, and had considerable social life. Altogether it afforded larger opportunities than the Bow farm; and here the interests of the Baker family now centred. Abigail, the eldest daughter, soon married Alexander Hamilton Tilton,[8] the rich man of the village, and settled there. Her husband owned the woollen mill, and accumulated a considerable fortune from the manufacture of the "Tilton tweed," which he put on the market. Mrs. Tilton was extremely handsome and dignified, and her strong character, in which the Baker traits were tempered by a kindliness of spirit and a keen sense of responsibility, made her a leading figure in that little community. She was also capable and adaptable. When her husband died she took charge of his business, and was even more successful in its management than he had been. George Sullivan Baker formed a partnership with his brother-in-law. Martha, the second daughter, married Luther C. Pillsbury, deputy warden of the New Hampshire penitentiary in Concord, but after the death of her husband she returned to live in Sanbornton Bridge. Here, too, Mark Baker and his wife lived out their days, and here Mary Baker passed her girlhood, married, returned as a widow, married again, and once more returned as a deserted wife.

As soon as they were settled on the new farm, Mary was sent to the district school at the Bridge. The schoolhouse stood on the site of the present Tilton Seminary. It was a two-story wooden building, painted red. The district school occupied the lower floor, while the upper room was used for a small private school, where the higher English branches were taught. After a time these upper classes came to be known as the "academy," and it was here that Dyer H. Sanborn, the author of Sanborn's Grammar, taught for five years at a later date. Mary was then nearing her fifteenth birthday, and as she had received almost no instruction at Bow, the family hoped that another attempt at school might be more successful.

It is one proof of Mary's remarkable personality that her old associates remember her, even as a child, so clearly. The Baker family was not one to be readily forgotten in any community, and Mary had all the Baker characteristics, besides a few impressive ones on her own account. The writer has talked with scores of Mary Baker's contemporaries in the New Hampshire villages where she lived, and in their descriptions of her, their recollections of her conduct, and their estimates of her character, there is a remarkable consistency. Allowance must always be made, in dealing with the early life of a famous person, for the dishonour of a prophet in his own country. Such allowance has been made here, and nothing is set down which is not supported by the testimony of many witnesses among her neighbours and relatives and associates.

When Mary attended the district school in Tilton, she is remembered as a pretty and graceful girl, delicately formed, and with extremely small hands and feet. Her face was too long and her forehead too high to answer the requirements of perfect beauty, but her complexion was clear and of a delicate colour, and her waving brown hair was abundant and always becomingly arranged. Her eyes were large and gray, and when overcharged with expression, as was often the case, they deepened in colour until they seemed to be black. She was always daintily dressed, and even at fifteen succeeded in keeping closer to the fashions than was common in the community or in her own home. But in spite of these advantages Mary was not altogether attractive. Her manners and speech were marred by a peculiar affectation. Her unusual nervous organisation may have accounted for her self-consciousness and her susceptibility to the presence of others, but whatever the cause, Mary always seemed to be "showing off" for the benefit of those about her, and her extremely languishing manners were unkindly commented upon even at a time when languishing manners were fashionable. In speaking she used many words, the longer and more unusual the better, and her pronunciation and application of them were original.

Sarah Jane Bodwell, a daughter of the Congregational minister at Sanbornton Square, "kept" the school then, and finding Mary very backward in her studies in spite of her age and precociousness, she placed her in a class with small children. Mary seemed indifferent about getting into a more advanced class and did not apply herself. Her old schoolmates say that she was indolent and spent her time lolling in her seat or scribbling on her slate, and apparently was incapable of concentrated or continuous thought.

"I remember Mary Baker very well," said one of her classmates now living in Tilton. "She began to come to district school in the early summer of 1836. I recollect her very distinctly because she sat just in front of me, and because she was such a big girl to be in our class. I was only nine, but I helped her with her arithmetic when she needed help. We studied Smith's Grammar and ciphered by ourselves in Adams's New Arithmetic, and when she left school in three or four weeks we had both reached long division. She left on account of sickness.

"I remember what a pretty girl she was, and how nicely she wore her hair. She usually let it hang in ringlets, but one day she appeared at school with her hair 'done up' like a young lady. She told us that style of doing it was called a 'French Twist,' a new fashion which we had never seen before. In spite of her backwardness at books she assumed a very superior air, and by her sentimental posturing she managed to attract the attention of the whole school. She loved to impress us with fine stories about herself and her family. The schoolgirls did not like her, and they made fun of her as schoolgirls will. I knew her for a long time afterward, as we grew up in the same village, but I can't say that Mary changed much with her years."

Mrs. Eddy's own story of her early education should also be considered. In her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, she says that she was kept out of school much of the time because her father "was taught to believe" that her brain was too large for her body; that her brother Albert taught her Greek, Latin, and Hebrew; and her favourite childhood studies were Natural Philosophy, Logic, and Moral Science. From childhood, too, Mrs. Eddy recalls, she was a verse-maker, and "at ten years of age I was as familiar with Lindley Murray's Grammar as with the Westminster Catechism; and the latter I had to repeat every Sunday." Mrs. Eddy has also said that she "graduated from Dyer H. Sanborn's Academy at Tilton." But at present she makes no pretension to such scholarly attainments. "After my discovery of Christian Science," she says, "most of the knowledge I had gleaned from schoolbooks vanished like a dream." Only Lindley Murray remained, and he in an apotheosized state. "Learning was so illumined," she writes, "that grammar was eclipsed. Etymology was divine history, voicing the idea of God in man's origin and signification. Syntax was spiritual order and unity. Prosody, the song of angels, and no earthly or inglorious theme."

Mrs. Eddy's schoolmates are not able to reconcile her story with their own recollections. They declare frankly that they do not believe Albert Baker taught her Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. He entered college when Mary was nine, and left home when she was thirteen. There were, they say, no graduations from Dyer H. Sanborn's Academy, for the girls and boys left school when they were old enough to go to work or to marry. They insist that Mary's education was finished when she reached long division in the district school.

At church, too, Mary made a vivid impression. Like the rest of Mark Baker's family, she attended service regularly; and she took pains with her costume, and the timing of her arrival, so that members of the congregation have retained a distinct picture of Mary Baker as she appeared at church. She always made a ceremonious entrance, coming up the aisle after the rest of the congregation were seated, and attracting the general attention by her pretty clothes and ostentatious manner. No trace of early piety can be found in a first-hand study of Mrs. Eddy's life, yet in her autobiography she constantly refers to deep religious experiences of her childhood. As her chief recollection of Bow farm days, she relates a peculiar experience, intended to show that, like little Samuel, she received ghostly visitations in early youth. She writes:

For some twelve months, when I was about eight years old, I repeatedly heard a voice, calling me distinctly by name, three times, in an ascending scale. I thought this was my mother's voice, and sometimes went to her, beseeching her to tell me what she wanted. Her answer was always: "Nothing, child! What do you mean?" Then I would say: "Mother, who did call me? I heard somebody call Mary, three times!" This continued until I grew discouraged, and my mother was perplexed and anxious.

At another time her cousin, Mehitable Huntoon, heard the voice and told Mary's mother about it. "That night," continues Mrs. Eddy's narrative, "before going to rest, my mother read to me the Scriptural narrative of little Samuel, and bade me, when the voice called again, to reply as he did, 'Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.' The voice came; but I did not answer. Afterward I wept, and prayed that God would forgive me, resolving to do, next time, as my mother had bidden me. When the call came again I did answer, in the words of Samuel, but never again to the material senses was that mysterious call repeated."

Mrs. Eddy tells the story of her admission to church member ship and of her discussions with the elders, and Christian Scientists draw a parallel between this incident and that of Christ debating at the age of twelve with the wise men in the temple. "At the age of twelve," writes Mrs. Eddy, "I was admitted to the Congregationalist (Trinitarian) Church." She describes her horror of the doctrine of predestination, while she was preparing to enter the church, and how she wept over the necessity of believing that her unregenerate sisters and brothers would be damned. Peace, however, followed a season of prayer, and when she finally appeared at church for examination on doctrinal points, she flatly refused to accept that of predestination. She says:

Distinctly do I recall what followed. I stoutly maintained that I was willing to trust God, and take my chance of spiritual safety with my brothers and sisters,—not one of whom had then made any profession of religion,—even if my credal doubts left me outside the doors. . . . Nevertheless, he (the minister) persisted in the assertion that I had been truly regenerated, and asked me to say how I felt when the new light dawned within me. I replied that I could only answer him in the words of the Psalmist: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

This was so earnestly said, that even the oldest church-members wept. After the meeting was over they came and kissed me. To the astonishment of many, the good clergyman's heart also melted, and he received me into their communion, and my protest along with me.

The official record bearing on this point, taken from the clerk's book of the Tilton Congregational Church, is as follows:

1838, July 26, Received into this church, Stephen Grant, Esq., John Gilly and his wife Hannah, Mrs. Susan French, wife of William French, Miss Mary A. M. Baker, by profession, the two former receiving the ordinance of baptism. Greenaugh McQuestion, Scribe.

As Mary Baker was born on July 16, 1821, and as this record is dated "1838, July 26," she was evidently seventeen, and not twelve, when the event described above took place.

At home Mary was still allowed to have her own way as completely as in her baby days. Indeed, by this time she, as well as her family, had come to consider this privilege a natural right, and she grew constantly more insistent in her demands upon her parents and brother and sisters, who had found by long experience that the only way to live at all with Mary was to give in to all her whims. In a household where personal labour was exacted from each member, Mary spent her days in idleness. Where her sisters dressed plainly, she went clad in fine and dainty raiment, and where implicit obedience was required of the others, Mary ignored, and more often opposed, the wishes of her father; and in the clashes between them, her mother and sisters usually—at least in her younger years—ranged themselves on her side, and against her father. Mary's hysteria was, of course, her most effective argument in securing her way. Like the sword of Damocles, it hung perilously over the household, which constantly surrendered and conceded and made shift with Mary to avert the inevitable climax. Confusion and excitement and agony of mind lest Mary should die was the invariable consequence of her hysterical outbreaks, and the business of the house and farm was at a standstill until the tragedy had passed.

These attacks, which continued until very late in Mrs. Eddy's life, have been described to the writer by many eye-witnesses, some of whom have watched by her bedside and treated her in Christian Science for her affliction. At times the attack resembled convulsions. Mary fell headlong to the floor, writhing and screaming in apparent agony. Again she dropped as if lifeless, and lay limp and motionless, until restored. At other times she became rigid like a cataleptic, and continued for a time in a state of suspended animation. At home the family worked over her, and the doctor was sent for, and Mary invariably recovered rapidly after a few hours; but year after year her relatives fully expected that she would die in one of these spasms. Nothing had the power of exciting Mark Baker like one of Mary's "fits," as they were called. His neighbours in Tilton remember him as he went to fetch Dr. Ladd,[9] how he lashed his horses down the hill, standing upright in his wagon and shouting in his tremendous voice, "Mary is dying!"

Outside the family, Mary's spells did not inspire the same anxiety. The unsympathetic called them "tantrums," after a better acquaintance with her, and declared that she used her nerves to get her own way. In later years Mark Baker came to share this neighbourhood opinion, and on one occasion, after Mary had grown to womanhood, he tested her power of self-control by allowing her to remain on the floor, where she had thrown herself when her will was crossed, and leaving her to herself. An hour later when he opened the door, the room was deserted. Mary had gone upstairs to her room, and nothing was heard from her until she appeared at supper, fully recovered. After that Mary's nerves lost their power over her father to a great extent, and when hard put to it, he sometimes complained to his friends. A neighbour, passing the house one morning, stopped at Mark's gate and inquired why Mary, who was at that moment rushing wildly up and down the second-story piazza, was so excited; to which Mark replied bitterly: "The Bible says Mary Magdalen had seven devils, but our Mary has got ten!"

Unquestionably, Mary's attacks represented, to a great degree, a genuine affliction. Although Dr. Ladd sometimes impatiently diagnosed them as "hysteria mingled with bad temper," he was, without doubt, deeply interested in her case. He dabbled a little in mesmerism and sometimes experimented on Mary, whom he found a sensitive subject. He discovered that he could partly control her movements by mental suggestion. "I can make that girl stop in the street any time merely by willing it," he used to tell his friends, and he often demonstrated that he could do it.

Mesmerism was a new subject in New England in those days, and there was much experimenting and excitement over it. There is no doubt that it formed one of the early influences in Mrs. Eddy's life, and that it left an indelible impression upon her supersensitive organisation. Charles Poyen, a French disciple of Mesmer, had travelled through New England, lecturing and performing marvels of mesmeric power in the same towns in which Mrs. Eddy then lived. In his book, Animal Magnetism in New England, which was published in 1837, he gives an account of his experiences there and says: "Animal magnetism indisputably constituted in several parts of New England the most stirring topic of conversation among all classes of society." He called it a "great Truth," "The Power of Mind Over Matter," a "demonstration," a "discovery given by God," and a "science." Whether or not Mary Baker saw or heard Poyen, or read his book, she must have heard of his theories, and must have been familiar with the phrases he used, as they were matter of common household discussion and would appeal strongly to a girl of Mary's temperament. In Christian Science she has given an important place to "Animal Magnetism," and there is a chapter devoted to it in her book, Science and Health.

Andrew Jackson Davis,[10] afterward the celebrated Spiritualist, had already begun to astound the public by his remarkable theories of the universe and disease, and by his extraordinary literary feats. The healing of disease by means outside regular channels was commonly reported, and new religious ideas were developing. It was a more prolific period than usual for all sorts of mystery and quackery in New England.

Another influence of these early years, which had an effect upon her later career, may be traced to the sect known as Shakers, which had sprung up in that section of New Hampshire. Their main community was at East Canterbury, N. H., five miles from Tilton, and Mary Baker was familiar with their appearance, their peculiar costume, and their community life. She knew their religious doctrines and spiritual exaltations, and was acquainted with their habits of industry and thrift. In her girlhood there were still living in the neighbourhood people who remembered Ann Lee,[11] the founder of the sect. All through Mary's youth the Shakers were much in the courts because of the scandalous charges brought against them, and on one occasion they were defended by Franklin Pierce, in whose office Albert Baker studied law. Laws directed against their community were constantly presented to the Legislature, and complaints against them were frequently heard. A famous "exposure" of Shaker methods, written by Mary Dyer, who had been a member of the Canterbury community, was published in Concord in 1847; and the Shakers and their doings formed one of the exciting topics of the times.

That these happenings made a profound impression on Mary Baker and became irrevocably a part of her susceptible nature is evident; for we find her reverting to and making use of certain phases of Shakerism when, later, she had established a religious system of her own.[12]

When Mary was twenty-two years old she married George Washington Glover, a son of John and Nancy Glover, who were neighbours of the Bakers at Bow. "Wash" Glover, as he was called, was a big, kind-hearted young fellow, who had learned the mason's trade with Mary's brother, Samuel, and he was an expert workman. The families were already connected through the marriage of Samuel Baker to Glover's sister, Eliza. After learning his trade, Glover had gone South, where there was a demand for Northern labour, and it was on one of his visits home that he fell in love with Mary Baker. They were married at Mark Baker's house December 12, 1843, and Glover took his bride back with him to Charleston, S. C. Six months later he was stricken with yellow fever and died in June, 1844, at Wilmington, N. C., where he had gone on business.

His young wife was left in a miserable plight, being far from home, among strangers and without money. Mr. Glover, however, had been a Freemason, and his brothers of that order came to his wife's relief. They buried her husband and paid her railroad fare to New York, where she was met by her brother George and taken back to her father's house. Here, the following September, her son was born, and she named him George Washington, after his father.


  1. Mrs. Eddy was named in part for her grandmother, Mary Ann Moore (or O'Moor) Baker. She wrote her name as above, using only the initial of her second name.
  2. The five generations were (1) John, (2) Thomas, (3) Thomas, (4) Joseph, (5) Joseph, who was the father of Mark Baker and the grandfather of Mrs. Eddy.
  3. Mrs. Eddy and at least one other descendant gives the name as Marion Moore, but from statistics copied from the family Bible of this Joseph Baker, and now in possession of his great granddaughter, it is recorded that Joseph Baker was born November 9, 1741, and died in February, 1816. It gives the name of his wife as Mary Ann O'Moor, who was born December 11, 1743, and died January 26, 1835, and names ten children born to them. See Appendix A.
  4. The Joseph Baker record names ten children, as follows: John, James, David, Jesse, William, Hannah, Joseph, Mary Ann, Philip, and Mark.
  5. Only a few years ago Mrs. Eddy renewed this family connection by sending for Representative Henry Moore Baker of Concord, a grandson of James Baker, to call upon her at Pleasant View, her home in the same city. Mr. Baker was, until October, 1909, one of the three trustees appointed by Mrs. Eddy in 1907 to take charge of her property interests.
  6. In his last years he was afflicted with a palsy of the head and hands, and suffered from facial cancer although it did not cause his death. Of his family, nearly all have died of cancer in some form. His two eldest daughters and their three children, and two of his sons, Samuel and George, all died of the dread disease.
  7. Samuel Dow, born July 8, 1808; Albert, born February 5, 1810; George Sullivan, born August 7, 1812; Abigail Barnard, born January 15, 1816; Martha Smith, born January 19, 1819; Mary A. Morse, born July 16, 1821.
  8. At the request of Charles Tilton, who gave the village a town hall, Sanbornton Bridge was renamed Tilton in 1869. Charles Tilton was a nephew of Alexander Hamilton Tilton.
  9. Dr. Nathaniel G. Ladd, the village physician.
  10. Author of The Great Harmonia, etc. See Appendix B.
  11. Fleeing from England in 1774, Ann Lee spent her first few years in America at Concord and the neighbouring towns.
  12. See Appendix C.