This section is from the book "Faith - Healing. Christian Science And Kindred Phenomena", by James Monroe Buckley. Also available from Amazon: Faith-Healing, Christian Science and Kindred Phenomena.
Mrs. Eddy meets this matter in the style of Jules Verne:
The error of thinking that we are growing old, and the benefits of destroying that illusion, are illustrated in a sketch from the history of an English lady, published in the London " Lancet." Disappointed in love in early years she became insane. She lost all calculation of time. Believing that she still lived in the same hour that parted her from her lover, she took no note of years, but daily stood before the window, watching for his coming. In this mental state she remained young. Having no appearance of age, she literally grew no older. Some American travelers saw her when she was seventy-four, and supposed her a young lady. Not a wrinkle or gray hair appeared, but youth sat gently on cheek and brow. Asked to judge her age, and being unacquainted with her history, each visitor conjectured that she must be under twenty.
That the above should be adduced as proof of anything would be wonderful if the person adducing it had not previously adopted a theory which supersedes the necessity of demonstration. It is important to notice that if the belief had anything to do with it, this amazing result grew from a belief in a falsehood. She did not live in the same hour that parted her from her lover; she believed that she did, and, according to Mrs. Eddy, this belief of a falsehood counteracted all the ordinary consequences of the flight of time.
But the delusion among the insane that they are young, that they are independent of time and of this world, is very common ; and the most painfully paradoxical sights that I have ever witnessed have been men and women, toothless, denuded of hair, and with all the signs of age,—sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything,—some of them declaring that they were young girls and engaged to be married to presidents and kings, and even to divine beings. These delusions in some instances have been fixed for many years. Having had an official connection with an insane asylum for five years, I have had more opportunities than were desired for conversing with persons of this class.
Granting the case adduced by Mrs. Eddy to be true, and admitting that the state of the mind may have had some effect, it is of no scientific importance; for the number who show no signs of age until fifty, sixty, or even seventy years have passed, is by no means small in the aggregate; we meet thrni everywhere. One of the most astute observers of human nature, himself a physician, solemnly warned a gentleman that if he continued to take only four hours' sleep in twenty-four, he would die before he was fifty years of age. "What do you suppose my age to be now?" said the gentleman. "Thirty," said the physician. "I am sixty-nine," was the reply, which proved to be the fact.
Mrs. Eddy, not content with this case, continues: " I have seen age regain two of the elements it had lost, sight and teeth. A lady of eighty-five whom I knew had a return of sight. Another lady at ninety had new teeth, — incisors, cuspids, bicuspids, and one molar." Such instances as these are not uncommon, but are generally a great surprise to the persons themselves, and unconnected with any delusion as to flight of time. They are simply freaks of nature.
There is a flattening of the eye which comes on with advancing years, and necessitates the use of glasses. Many persons who have few signs of age, retain the color of the cheek, have lost no teeth, and whose natural force is not abated, find their eyes dim. According to these metaphysical healers this is not necessary, but I have observed that a number of them say nothing about being themselves compelled to use glasses.
Much is made of one case of a metaphysical healer, who, after using glasses fifteen years, threw them away, and can now read even in the railroad cars without them. Such cases of second sight have occurred at intervals always, and under all systems, and sometimes when the progress of old age had been so great that the persons had suffered many infirmities, and had but a few months left in which to " see as well as ever they did in their lives".
Some famous actors and actresses, without the use of pigments, dyes, or paints, notwithstanding the irregular hours and other accidents of their professional life, have maintained an astonishing youthful-ness of appearance down to nearly threescore years and ten.
John Wesley at seventy-five, according to testimony indubitable and from a variety of sources, not only presented the appearance of a man not yet past the prime of life, but, what is more remarkable, had the undiminished energy, vivacity, melody and strength of voice which accompany youth. Nor at eighty-five had he exhibited much change. In the city of Chicago there died recently a professional man nearly seventy-five years of age, whose teeth, complexion, color, hair, voice, and mind showed no signs of his being over forty-five years of age. Henry Ward Beecher, the January before his death, could write to his oldest brother that he had no rheumatism, neuralgia, sleeplessness, or deafness, was not bald, and did not need spectacles.
Meanwhile it is impossible not to suppose that the case as described by Mrs. Eddy has been greatly exaggerated. That some Americans who saw her at the age of seventy-four supposed her to be under twenty, is to be taken "cum grano salis".
As for death, if the theories of these romantic philosophers be true, it should give way; if not in every case, at least in some. It is said that there are hundreds of persons in Boston who believe that Mrs. Eddy will never die. Joanna Southcott, who arose in England in 1792, made many disciples, by some estimated at one hundred thousand, who believed that she would never die; but unfortunately for their credulity she succumbed to the inevitable decree.
If these theories are true, clothing, so far as sustaining warmth and life is concerned, is superfluous, and fire unnecessary. This conclusion reduces the whole scheme to an absurdity.