Eddy was a lifelong admirer of the work of Whittier (1807-1892). An avid scrapbooker, she clipped his poems out of literary magazines, and later quoted his words in her own published writings. The archives also contain an unpublished poem she wrote sometime before 1877 titled “Lines On Reading Whittier’s Snow-Bound.”1

In 1868, Eddy was living in Amesbury with her student Sarah Bagley, a family friend of Whittier’s. In July of that year, they paid a call on the poet, who was suffering from a variety of ailments, as he had throughout most of his life. In previous months, he had written frequently to friends complaining of his precarious health, canceling engagements and apologizing for not returning their letters sooner. In fact, according to Eddy, when Bagley proposed to her the visit to Whittier, she did so with the warning that he might not live much longer.

In a manuscript dictated some years later by Eddy to her secretary, Calvin Frye, she states that the two women arrived to find Whittier in a frail state, coughing constantly and shivering despite a roaring fire in midsummer. Eddy commented that it was likely a much more comfortable atmosphere outside than in, to which Whittier replied, “If Jesus Christ was in Amesbury, he would have to have brass-lined lungs to live here.” Eddy spoke with him for some time, “in the line of Science,” and by the end of their conversation he seemed much improved. As she left, Whittier called to her and said, “I thank you, Mary, for your call; it has done me much good.”2 She received word the next day that he had left his sickbed to walk down to the village.

In 1872, Eddy sent an early manuscript of “Questions and Answers in Moral Science” (which would later become the chapter “Recapitulation” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures) to Whittier via Bagley. Though we do not have his exact words, correspondence with Bagley indicates that he thought very highly of it and praised some sections.3 In 1875, Eddy sent him an inscribed copy of Science and Health.4 That same copy of Science and Health was found among his belongings after his death.5

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  1. Mary Baker Eddy, n.d., A10035.
  2. Eddy, n.d., A11063.
  3. Eddy to Sarah O. Bagley, 21 January 1872, L08301.
  4. Eddy, n.d., A11063.
  5. Edward Wagenknecht, John Greenleaf Whittier: A Portrait in Paradox (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), 210 n. 8.