Retrospection and Introspection by Mary Baker Eddy

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Mary Baker Eddy

Author of Science and Health with Key to the


Published by the

Trustees under the Will of Mary Baker G. Eddy

Boston, U.S.A.

Copyright, 1891, 1892

By Mary Baker G. Eddy

Copyright renewed, 1919

Copyright renewed, 1920

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

Page 1
Retrospection and Introspection

1 MY ancestors, according to the flesh, were from both
Scotland and England, my great-grandfather, on

3 my father's side, being John McNeil of Edinburgh.

His wife, my great-grandmother, was Marion Moor,
and her family is said to have been in some way related

6 to Hannah More, the pious and popular English authoress

of a century ago.

I remember reading, in my childhood, certain manu-

9 scripts containing Scriptural sonnets, besides other verses
and enigmas which my grandmother said were written
by my great-grandmother. But because my great-grand-

12 mother wrote a stray sonnet and an occasional riddle, it

was no sign that she inherited a spark from Hannah More,
or was her relative.
15 John and Marion Moor McNeil had a daughter, who
perpetuated her mother's name. This second Marion
McNeil in due time was married to an Englishman,

18 named Joseph Baker, and so became my paternal grand-

mother, the Scotch and English elements thus mingling
in her children.

Page 2
1 Mrs. Marion McNeil Baker was reared among the

Scotch Covenanters, and had in her character that sturdy

3 Calvinistic devotion to Protestant liberty which gave those

religionists the poetic daring and pious picturesqueness
which we find so graphically set forth in the pages of Sir

6 Walter Scott and in John Wilson's sketches.

Joseph Baker and his wife, Marion McNeil, came to

America seeking "freedom to worship God;" though

9 they could hardly have crossed the Atlantic more than a

score of years prior to the Revolutionary period.

With them they brought to New England a heavy sword,

12 encased in a brass scabbard, on which was inscribed the
name of a kinsman upon whom the weapon had been
bestowed by Sir William Wallace, from whose patriotism

15 and bravery comes that heart-stirring air, "Scots wha hae

wi' Wallace bled."

My childhood was also gladdened by one of my Grand-

18 mother Baker's books, printed in olden type and replete
with the phraseology current in the seventeenth and eigh-
teenth centuries.
21 Among grandmother's treasures were some newspapers,
yellow with age. Some of these, however, were not very
ancient, nor had they crossed the ocean; for they were

24 American newspapers, one of which contained a full ac-

count of the death and burial of George Washington.

A relative of my Grandfather Baker was General Henry

27 Knox of Revolutionary fame. I was fond of listening,
when a child, to grandmother's stories about General
Knox, for whom she cherished a high regard.
30 In the line of my Grandmother Baker's family was the

Page 3
1 late Sir John Macneill, a Scotch knight, who was promi-

nent in British politics, and at one time held the position

3 of ambassador to Persia.

My grandparents were likewise connected with Capt.

John Lovewell of Dunstable, New Hampshire, whose

6 gallant leadership and death, in the Indian troubles of

1722-1725, caused that prolonged contest to be known
historically as Lovewell's War.
9 A cousin of my grandmother was John Macneil, the
New Hampshire general who fought at Lundy's Lane,
and won distinction in 1814 at the neighboring battle of

12 Chippewa, towards the close of the War of 1812.

Page 4

1 THIS venerable grandmother had thirteen children,
the youngest of whom was my father, Mark Baker,

3 who inherited the homestead, and with his brother, James

Baker, he inherited my grandfather's farm of about five
hundred acres, lying in the adjoining towns of Concord

6 and Bow, in the State of New Hampshire.

One hundred acres of the old farm are still cultivated

and owned by Uncle James Baker's grandson, brother of

9 the Hon. Henry Moore Baker of Washington, D. C.

The farm-house, situated on the summit of a hill, com-

manded a broad picturesque view of the Merrimac River

12 and the undulating lands of three townships. But change

has been busy. Where once stretched broad fields of
bending grain waving gracefully in the sunlight, and

15 orchards of apples, peaches, pears, and cherries shone

richly in the mellow hues of autumn, — now the lone night-
bird cries, the crow caws cautiously, and wandering winds

18 sigh low requiems through dark pine groves. Where

green pastures bright with berries, singing brooklets,
beautiful wild flowers, and flecked with large flocks and

21 herds, covered areas of rich acres, — now the scrub-oak,

poplar, and fern flourish.

The wife of Mark Baker was Abigail Barnard Ambrose,

24 daughter of Deacon Nathaniel Ambrose of Pembroke, a

Page 5
1 small town situated near Concord, just across the bridge,

on the left bank of the Merrimac River.
3 Grandfather Ambrose was a very religious man, and
gave the money for erecting the first Congregational
Church in Pembroke.
6 In the Baker homestead at Bow I was born, the young-
est of my parents' six children and the object of their
tender solicitude.
9 During my childhood my parents removed to Tilton,
eighteen miles from Concord, and there the family re-
mained until the names of both father and mother were

12 inscribed on the stone memorials in the Park Cemetery

of that beautiful village.

My father possessed a strong intellect and an iron will.

15 Of my mother I cannot speak as I would, for memory
recalls qualities to which the pen can never do justice.
The following is a brief extract from the eulogy of the Rev.

18 Richard S. Rust, D. D., who for many years had re-

sided in Tilton and knew my sainted mother in all the
walks of life.
21 The character of Mrs. Abigail Ambrose Baker was distin-
guished for numerous excellences. She possessed a strong
intellect, a sympathizing heart, and a placid spirit. Her

24 presence, like the gentle dew and cheerful light, was felt by

all around her. She gave an elevated character to the tone of
conversation in the circles in which she moved, and directed

27 attention to themes at once pleasing and profitable.

As a mother, she was untiring in her efforts to secure the

happiness of her family. She ever entertained a lively sense

30 of the parental obligation, especially in regard to the educa-

Page 6
1 tion of her children. The oft-repeated impressions of that
sainted spirit, on the hearts of those especially entrusted to her

3 watch-care, can never be effaced, and can hardly fail to induce

them to follow her to the brighter world. Her life was a
living illustration of Christian faith.
6 My childhood's home I remember as one with the open
hand. The needy were ever welcome, and to the clergy
were accorded special household privileges.
9 Among the treasured reminiscences of my much re-
spected parents, brothers, and sisters, is the memory of
my second brother, Albert Baker, who was, next to my

12 mother, the very dearest of my kindred. To speak of his

beautiful character as I cherish it, would require more
space than this little book can afford.
15 My brother Albert was graduated at Dartmouth Col-
lege in 1834 and was reputed one of the most talented,
close, and thorough scholars ever connected with that

18 institution. For two or three years he read law at Hills-

borough, in the office of Franklin Pierce, afterwards Presi-
dent of the United States; but later Albert spent a year

21 in the office of the Hon. Richard Fletcher of Boston.

He was consequently admitted to the bar in two States,
Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In 1837 he suc-

24 ceeded to the law-office which Mr. Pierce had occupied,

and was soon elected to the Legislature of his native State,
where he served the public interests faithfully for two

27 consecutive years. Among other important bills which

were carried through the Legislature by his persistent en-
ergy was one for the abolition of imprisonment for debt.
30 In 1841 he received further political preferment, by

Page 7
1 nomination to Congress on a majority vote of seven

thousand, — it was the largest vote of the State; but he

3 passed away at the age of thirty-one, after a short illness,

before his election. His noble political antagonist, the
Hon. Isaac Hill, of Concord, wrote of my brother as

6 follows: —

Albert Baker was a young man of uncommon promise.

Gifted with the highest order of intellectual powers, he trained

9 and schooled them by intense and almost incessant study

throughout his short life. He was fond of investigating ab-
struse and metaphysical principles, and he never forsook

12 them until he had explored their every nook and corner,

however hidden and remote. Had life and health been spared
to him, he would have made himself one of the most distin-

15 guished men in the country. As a lawyer he was able and

learned, and in the successful practice of a very large business.
He was noted for his boldness and firmness, and for his power-

18 ful advocacy of the side he deemed right. His death will be

deplored, with the most poignant grief, by a large number of
friends, who expected no more than they realized from his

21 talents and acquirements. This sad event will not be soon

forgotten. It blights too many hopes; it carries with it too
much of sorrow and loss. It is a public calamity.

Page 8

1 MANY peculiar circumstances and events connected
with my childhood throng the chambers of memory.

3 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

6 was my mother's voice, and sometimes went to her, be-

seeching her to tell me what she wanted. Her answer was
always, "Nothing, child! What do you mean?" Then

9 I would say, "Mother, who did call me? I heard some-

body call Mary, three times!" This continued until I
grew discouraged, and my mother was perplexed and

12 anxious.

One day, when my cousin, Mehitable Huntoon, was

visiting us, and I sat in a little chair by her side, in the

15 same room with grandmother, — the call again came, so

loud that Mehitable heard it, though I had ceased to
notice it. Greatly surprised, my cousin turned to me and

18 said, "Your mother is calling you!" but I answered not,

till again the same call was thrice repeated. Mehitable
then said sharply, "Why don't you go? your mother is

21 calling you!" I then left the room, went to my mother,

and once more asked her if she had summoned me? She
answered as always before. Then I earnestly declared

24 my cousin had heard the voice, and said that mother

Page 9
1 wanted me. Accordingly she returned with me to grand-
mother's room, and led my cousin into an adjoining apart-

3 ment. The door was ajar, and I listened with bated

breath. Mother told Mehitable all about this mysterious
voice, and asked if she really did hear Mary's name pro-

6 nounced in audible tones. My cousin answered quickly,

and emphasized her affirmation.

That night, before going to rest, my mother read to me

9 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

12 I was afraid, and 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

15 again I did answer, in the words of Samuel, but never

again to the material senses was that mysterious call
18 Is it not much that I may worship Him,
With naught my spirit's breathings to control,
And feel His presence in the vast and dim

21 And whispering woods, where dying thunders roll

From the far cataracts? Shall I not rejoice
That I have learned at last to know His voice

24 From man's? — I will rejoice! My soaring soul

Now hath redeemed her birthright of the day,
And won, through clouds, to Him, her own unfettered way!


Page 10
1 MY father was taught to believe that my brain was
too large for my body and so kept me much out of

3 school, but I gained book-knowledge with far less labor

than is usually requisite. At ten years of age I was as
familiar with Lindley Murray's Grammar as with the

6 Westminster Catechism; and the latter I had to repeat

every Sunday. My favorite studies were natural philoso-
phy, logic, and moral science. From my brother Al-

9 bert I received lessons in the ancient tongues, Hebrew,

Greek, and Latin. My brother studied Hebrew during
his college vacations. After my discovery of Christian

12 Science, most of the knowledge I had gleaned from

schoolbooks vanished like a dream.

Learning was so illumined, that grammar was eclipsed.

15 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

18 or inglorious theme.

Page 11

1 FROM childhood I was a verse-maker. Poetry suited
my emotions better than prose. The following is

3 one of my girlhood productions.


If fancy plumes aerial flight,

6 Go fix thy restless mind
On learning's lore and wisdom's might,
And live to bless mankind.

9 The sword is sheathed, 't is freedom's hour,

No despot bears misrule,
Where knowledge plants the foot of power

12 In our God-blessed free school.

Forth from this fount the streamlets flow,

That widen in their course.

15 Hero and sage arise to show

Science the mighty source,
And laud the land whose talents rock

18 The cradle of her power,

And wreaths are twined round Plymouth Rock,
From erudition's bower.
21 Farther than feet of chamois fall,
Free as the generous air,

Page 12
1 Strains nobler far than clarion call

Wake freedom's welcome, where

3 Minerva's silver sandals still

Are loosed, and not effete;
Where echoes still my day-dreams thrill,

6 Woke by her fancied feet.

Page 13
1 AT the age of twelve (1) I was admitted to the Congre-
gational (Trinitarian) Church, my parents having

3 been members of that body for a half-century. In connec-

tion with this event, some circumstances are noteworthy.
Before this step was taken, the doctrine of unconditional

6 election, or predestination, greatly troubled me; for I

was unwilling to be saved, if my brothers and sisters were
to be numbered among those who were doomed to per-

9 petual banishment from God. So perturbed was I by the

thoughts aroused by this erroneous doctrine, that the
family doctor was summoned, and pronounced me stricken

12 with fever.

My father's relentless theology emphasized belief in a

final judgment-day, in the danger of endless punishment,

15 and in a Jehovah merciless towards unbelievers; and of

these things he now spoke, hoping to win me from dreaded
18 My mother, as she bathed my burning temples, bade
me lean on God's love, which would give me rest, if I
went to Him in prayer, as I was wont to do, seeking His

21 guidance. I prayed; and a soft glow of ineffable joy came

over me. The fever was gone, and I rose and dressed
myself, in a normal condition of health. Mother saw this,

24 and was glad. The physician marvelled; and the "hor-

(1) See Page 311, Lines 12 to 17, "The First Church of Christ,

Scientist, and Miscellany."

Page 14
1 rible decree" of predestination — as John Calvin rightly
called his own tenet — forever lost its power over me.
3 When the meeting was held for the examination of can-
didates for membership, I was of course present. The
pastor was an old-school expounder of the strictest Pres-

6 byterian doctrines. He was apparently as eager to have

unbelievers in these dogmas lost, as he was to have elect
believers converted and rescued from perdition; for both

9 salvation and condemnation depended, according to his

views, upon the good pleasure of infinite Love. However, I
was ready for his doleful questions, which I answered with-

12 out a tremor, declaring that never could I unite with the

church, if assent to this doctrine was essential thereto.

Distinctly do I recall what followed. I stoutly main-

15 tained 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, —

18 even if my creedal doubts left me outside the doors. The

minister then wished me to tell him when I had experi-
enced a change of heart; but tearfully I had to respond

21 that I could not designate any precise time. Nevertheless,

he persisted in the assertion that I had been truly regene-
rated, and asked me to say how I felt when the new light

24 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:

27 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-

30 members wept. After the meeting was over they came

Page 15
1 and kissed me. To the astonishment of many, the good

clergyman's heart also melted, and he received me into

3 their communion, and my protest along with me. My con-

nection with this religious body was retained till I founded
a church of my own, built on the basis of Christian Science,

6 "Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone."

In confidence of faith, I could say in David's words,

"I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make

9 mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only. O

God, Thou hast taught me from my youth: and hith-
erto have I declared Thy wondrous works." (Psalms lxxi.

12 16, 17.)

In the year 1878 I was called to preach in Boston at the

Baptist Tabernacle of Rev. Daniel C. Eddy, D. D., — by

15 the pastor of this church. I accepted the invitation and

commenced work.

The congregation so increased in number the pews were

18 not sufficient to seat the audience and benches were used
in the aisles. At the close of my engagement we parted
in Christian fellowship, if not in full unity of doctrine.
21 Our last vestry meeting was made memorable by elo-
quent addresses from persons who feelingly testified to
having been healed through my preaching. Among other

24 diseases cured they specified cancers. The cases described

had been treated and given over by physicians of the popu-
lar schools of medicine, but I had not heard of these cases

27 till the persons who divulged their secret joy were healed.

A prominent churchman agreeably informed the congre-
gation that many others present had been healed under

30 my preaching, but were too timid to testify in public.

Page 16
1 One memorable Sunday afternoon, a soprano, — clear,
strong, sympathetic, — floating up from the pews, caught

3 my ear. When the meeting was over, two ladies pushing

their way through the crowd reached the platform. With
tears of joy flooding her eyes — for she was a mother —

6 one of them said, "Did you hear my daughter sing? Why,

she has not sung before since she left the choir and was
in consumption! When she entered this church one hour

9 ago she could not speak a loud word, and now, oh, thank

God, she is healed!"

It was not an uncommon occurrence in my own church

12 for the sick to be healed by my sermon. Many pale cripples
went into the church leaning on crutches who went out
carrying them on their shoulders. "And these signs shall

15 follow them that believe."

The charter for The Mother Church in Boston was ob-

tained June, 1879,(1) and the same month the members,

18 twenty-six in number, extended a call to Mary B. G. Eddy

to become their pastor. She accepted the call, and was
ordained A. D. 1881.
(1)This statement appears to be based upon the Annual Report

of the Secretary of The Christian Scientist Association, read at its

meeting, January 15, 1880, in which June is named as the month in

which the charter for The Mother Church was obtained, instead of

August 23, 1879, the correct date.

Page 17


Written in youth, while visiting a family friend in the beautiful

suburbs of Boston
3 WILD spirit of song, — midst the zephyrs at play
In bowers of beauty, — I bend to thy lay,
And woo, while I worship in deep sylvan spot,

6 The Muses' soft echoes to kindle the grot.

Wake chords of my lyre, with musical kiss,
To vibrate and tremble with accents of bliss.
9 Here morning peers out, from her crimson repose,
On proud Prairie Queen and the modest Moss-rose;
And vesper reclines — when the dewdrop is shed

12 On the heart of the pink — in its odorous bed;

But Flora has stolen the rainbow and sky,
To sprinkle the flowers with exquisite dye.
15 Here fame-honored hickory rears his bold form,
And bares a brave breast to the lightning and storm,
While palm, bay, and laurel, in classical glee,

18 Chase tulip, magnolia, and fragrant fringe-tree;

And sturdy horse-chestnut for centuries hath given
Its feathery blossom and branches to heaven.

Page 18
1 Here is life! Here is youth! Here the poet's world-

wish, —

3 Cool waters at play with the gold-gleaming fish;

While cactus a mellower glory receives
From light colored softly by blossom and leaves;

6 And nestling alder is whispering low,

In lap of the pear-tree, with musical flow.(1)

Dark sentinel hedgerow is guarding repose,

9 Midst grotto and songlet and streamlet that flows
Where beauty and perfume from buds burst away,
And ope their closed cells to the bright, laughing day;

12 Yet, dwellers in Eden, earth yields you her tear, —

Oft plucked for the banquet, but laid on the bier.

Earth's beauty and glory delude as the shrine

15 Or fount of real joy and of visions divine;
But hope, as the eaglet that spurneth the sod,
May soar above matter, to fasten on God,

18 And freely adore all His spirit hath made,

Where rapture and radiance and glory ne'er fade.

Oh, give me the spot where affection may dwell

21 In sacred communion with home's magic spell!
Where flowers of feeling are fragrant and fair,
And those we most love find a happiness rare;

24 But clouds are a presage, — they darken my lay:

This life is a shadow, and hastens away.

(1)An alder growing from the bent branch of a pear-tree.

Page 19

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