A Gift Becomes a Gift

  • Dana Byquist
Framed copy of “The Quiet Room,” a stanza from the classic poem “The Meeting” by John Greenleaf Whittier. Illuminated and published on cards by John Henry Tearle. Longyear Museum collection.

Longyear Museum has been fortunate over the years to receive donations of historical objects relating to Mary Baker Eddy and the Christian Science movement. Along with mystery and intrigue, these items often bring fresh stories to the surface. This was certainly the case with the Museum’s recent acquisition of a framed card1 containing an illuminated stanza from a poem written by John Greenleaf Whittier. Mrs. Eddy gave copies of this card to her household workers sometime between 1906 and 1910. Entitled “The Quiet Room,” the piece reads:

And so I find it well to come
For deeper rest to this still room;
For here the habit of the soul
Feels less the outer world’s control.
And from the silence, multiplied
By these still forms on every side,
The world that time and sense has known
Falls off and leaves us God alone.2

This card was originally given by Mrs. Eddy to Minnie Scott with this inscription on the back: “My dear Mrs Scott Please accept this[.] MB Eddy.”3 Mrs. Scott, a diligent early worker, served in Mrs. Eddy’s household for more than three years, primarily as a cook. Her gratitude for the opportunities to serve Mrs. Eddy shine through the anecdotes and insights in her reminiscences.4

Mrs. Eddy held Whittier’s work in high esteem, and quotes from it in her published writings. In 1868, she had the opportunity to meet Whittier with her student Sarah Bagley. In Pulpit and Press, she explains that she healed Whittier of incipient pulmonary consumption during this visit.5 Nine of Whittier’s poems have been turned into hymns in the Christian Science Hymnal, including the text of hymn 50, which begins: “Dear Lord and Father of us all,/Forgive our foolish ways;/Reclothe us in our rightful mind;/In purer lives Thy service find,/In deeper reverence, praise.”6

Longyear Museum is always grateful for the donation of historical artifacts and enjoys researching the story behind each piece.


  1. The card was colored and framed by John Henry Tearle, a designer, illuminating artist, and publisher who worked in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Born in England in 1868, Tearle graduated from art school and served an art apprenticeship for seven years before working privately in the Boston area.  Albert Nelson Marquis, Who’s Who in New England (Chicago: A. N. Marquis & Company, Publishers, 1909), 914.
  2. This eight-line stanza comes from the body of a longer poem written by Whittier in 1868 entitled “The Meeting.” In “The Meeting,” the protagonist and a guest emerge from a Quaker silent worship meeting to a beautiful day in nature. The guest argues that God should be sought in the freedom of nature rather than in the religious doctrine of a walled institution. The protagonist is sympathetic, but counters that nature can be distracting. She suggests that the stillness of the silent worship meetings allow one to commune more truly with God. The full text of the poem can be found here: http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/7979/.
  3. A note on the back of the frame in Mrs. Scott’s handwriting says, “The only one of the cards presented to her household that Mrs. Eddy wrote upon. This was framed by Mr. John Tearle who colored the card.”  The calling card attached on the lower right (see illustration) indicates that years later, on August 15, 1934, Mrs. Scott gave the piece to her niece Jessie D. MacCalden, accompanied by this note: “with dear love.”
  4. A unique reminiscence by Minnie Scott was donated a few years ago to Longyear Museum by her family.  Other Minnie Scott reminiscences are on file in The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library, Boston, Massachusetts.
  5. Mary Baker Eddy, Pulpit and Press (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1923), 54:28-30.
  6. Christian Science Hymnal (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1960).

A reproduction of this poem is available for purchase in the Longyear Museum store.  

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